So far you've only heard about a few of the things I was fortunate enough to check at this year's San Diego Comic-Con. It's only the tip of the iceberg. Throughout the week, I did a ton of interviews, sat in on some interesting panels, and played a ton of games in between. What did I see? How much craziness was there? Ladies and gentlemen of the GR community, I present you Fan and Geekdom in San Diego.
You already know what happened the first day. I got some free lemonade from the distinguished Ben Templesmith and partied it up with Activision and Marvel. The next day, things got even more intense. I started the day off with a panel featuring the Immortal Stan Lee and renowned comic book writer, Grant Morrison. Most of the panel was Q&A with the audience. Grant talked about how he saw New X-Men (possibly the best arc in X-history) as a story of "children vs. adults "and the struggle for acceptance. Stan said there was actually a story he regretted writing (gasp!): an old Fantastic Four story about a villan named "Diablo" that he and Jack Kirby had thrown together last minute to make a deadline. I forgive you though, Stan, but only because you invented just about every great Marvel hero and villan ever. Along those lines, Stan also mentioned that he had wished he invented Wolverine.
After the panel I rushed across the convention center to grab a one-on-one with Mr. Morrison, an interview which you can hear about on my special edition Inner Party Podcast. You may have trouble understanding him through his thick accent, but let me assure you, it's all intelligent and insightful. We discussed his new project with Virgin Comics and talked about a few of his past endeavors. We even got into video games a bit, and Grant revealed that he's a huge GTA fan. If you want to hear about the kind of GTA game he would make, listen to the podcast.
Next, I was off to the "Capcom: The Making of Street Fighter IV" panel. It turned out to be way more exciting than I thought it could be. They showed new animation from Studio 4°C which looked fantastic and fantastically set up the plot for the new Street Fighter. Producer Yoshinoro Ono said that this game will be not so much a sequel as it is a return to the classic fighting of SFII, bringing back old elements and appending old rules with the new focus ability, which allows you to break through an opponent's attack and counter with your own by pressing medium kick and medium punch at the same time.
The panel then paused to screen a trailer that showed off the new focus abilities coolness. Afterwards, they broke the news that a certain British secret agent with an impeccably well-toned booty had won the online poll at the Capcommunity boards. That's right, Cammy will possibly be in the home version of SFIV. Another character that they alluded to being in the game was the ever mysterious Sheng Long. They tried to make it subtle, but I think that sort of thing is lost in translation. So I'm hardly going out on a limb when I say that Sheng Long is hidden in there somewhere. As for Akuma? They weren't saying. But come on. He has to be one of the top three greatest SF characters of all time. How could they not include him? I mean, he appears in the intro video they showed.
During the Q&A portion, one guy asked whether they would be releasing a special arcade-style controller to go along with the home version. The reply was "bug them on the boards", so if you want it to happen, go to capcom.com and bug the crap outta them on the message boards.
After all that, it was time for a little treat for myself. I headed over to the Kevin Smith hosted panel called "Scream like a girl": an all-female panel featuring Lucy Lawless (Xena), Jaime King (Sin City), Gale Ann Hurd (Terminator), and Pia Guerra (Artist for Y: The Last Man). Kevin opened the panel by asking, "How much pussy do you guys get?" Obviously, this was not going to be a serious discussion about gender equality in a male-dominated geek-world. Most of it was joke-cracking and ridiculous questions not worth mentioning, but I enjoyed myself. You can check out a play by play rundown here.
Afterwards, I went to special press Q&A that I thought would involve one-on-one interviews and Kevin Smith. I was wrong on both assumptions. Only Lucy, Pia, and Jaime bothered to show up, and it seemed like no one but myself and a few other people had either the balls or the preparation to ask any questions. I guess those nerds were afraid of powerful women. I have a recording of it that I may put in a future podcast for kicks, but since it was an open panel, I had to settle for propping my recorder on the panel desk and crossing my fingers.
One thing I learned from all this is that Jaime King, beyond being incredibly gorgeous, is also a big nerd and is totally in the know about a ton of geek stuff. So don't give up hope all you lonely fellas with a collection of Star Wars figures; there's totally a cute girl out there somewhere that'll give you some lovin' (probably not, but at least there's hope). When everyone was done with their questions, Lucy and Jaime split. Pia stuck around for a moment, and I took the opportunity to ask her for a quick sketch of 355, and when I say 'quick', I mean it. I cannot believe how effortlessly she drew such a detailed sketch in roughly a minute or so. Pia has real talent and you can check it out in the new run of Doctor Who comics.
With some free time on my hands, I thought I would take the opportunity to finally play the Ghostbusters: The Video Game demo. It was a brief section of an early training level, not enough for a full preview, but the game looks great and handles wonderfully. I had some trouble figuring out how to use the Sixaxis controller on the PS3 to bash around the ghost I had caught in my proton stream, but once I had it explained to me, it was a breeze. I still prefer to use an analog button, though, since holding down the two buttons necessary to maintain the proton stream while flailing the controller around is pretty awkward.
The brief grapple with the Sixaxis was my only complaint, though. I love Ghostbusters and was glad to finally get my grubby little hands on it. The game is shaping up really well and they got a great crew working on it. Hopefully, we'll get to see more of what this game has to offer soon.
Once the convention had died down, I was off to a club called "Jade" in downtown San Diego for the Darksiders preview event. I got about one or two hours of playing time and will be giving you my impression soon in a full-fledged preview. But for now, I'll just say that the game looks phenomenal graphically and has a ton of potential.
While at the Darksiders event, I had the opportunity to speak with the game's creative director, Joe Madureira. Joe is a cool guy and he put up with all my questions like a champ. You can hear my interview as well as some other guys asking way better questions than mine in the SDCC'08 podcast special.
At the same time as the Darksiders Party, G4 was hosting their big Comic-Con party in the top floor of the same club. I figured I'd stop in and scope the scene, since superstar geekcore rappers MC Lars, MC Frontalot, and YT Cracker were all on the bill. But I hit a snag – turns out the doorman was douche, and for reasons I won't go into here, was not going to let me into the party. But being the resilient intrepid reporter I am, I knew what had to be done. I went back into the bottom part of the club where the Darksiders party had been and simply walked up to the top floor from there… completely bypassing the long lines and jerk-off doormen
Much to my suprise, the party kind of sucked ass. The drinks weren't free, like they had been on the bottom floor of the club, and none of the rappers played more than four songs. Really, G4? Maybe I'm spoiled after watching The Who play at the Rock Band event at E3, but I know you guys can do better than that. Maybe there was something cooler that happened later or maybe there was an announcement about some great new show, but I wouldn't know, since I left after the music stopped.
The next morning was big for me. It was time to interview the cast of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Only Joel Hodgson, Trace Beaulieu, and Jim Mallon were there, but they had the Corw T. Robot and Tom Servo bots hanging out beside them. My time was limited and the interview was brief, but it was a spectacular treat for me since I grew up watching the show and still watch episodes on DVD.
After I was done with my questions, Joel and Trace started asking me all sorts of things about video games. Trace wanted to know what system he should buy to play Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, and Joel wanted to know what I'd seen at E3. Everyone, make sure you go out and buy their new 20th anniversary DVD set and check out www.cinematictitanic.com. You can also check out the interview on the podcast.
My next interview was with some of the guys over at Telltale Games who are working on Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People: Episode 2. You can always tell when someone loves what they do and really gives a crap about their product. And these guys are in that group for sure. It was a good interview and you can listen to it on the podcast. You might even hear something about their newest IP…
After our chat, I was given a brief demo of the new episode. If you're at all familiar with www.homestarrunner.com, then you know the kind of humor to expect. I don't know how much I can say about the newest installment, but suffice it to say, Strong Bad secedes from the King of Town (that's right, the person) and so does everybody else. Now Strong Bad must go around and rally comrades to his cause (i.e. his side). How will you point and click your way out of this one?
By this point I had been trying to weasel my way into a ticket for the [Adult Swim] event all day. The only booth they had was a magical cat that told your fortune and would randomly give out invites to said party. I never got one but fortunately, my good friend Amber happened to be dressed up like a character from the Venture Brothers and had scored a ticket with a plus one guest. So, of course, she was going to take me. (Or so goes the tale… ~Ed.)
The party was well-catered and had a ton of [AS] propaganda everywhere. It took place along the top promenade of the Petco Park Colosseum. When you looked down onto the baseball diamond, you could see they had placed a plastic deer on the pitcher's mound for some reason and another on home plate. It was a real WTF moment for me but not the last of the night.
The next WTF moment happened quickly when Tim and Eric came on stage. Let me just say now that I am biased, because I don't find these guys funny to begin with, but after seeing them live, that opinion has been cemented. Sometimes I feel like the joke is on me with [AS] and this is one of the reasons why. It's almost like they're testing the waters to see how much crap we'll watch just to get to the good stuff like The Boondocks and the aforementioned Brothers of Venture.
After Tim and Eric's brief (thank god) appearance, we were forced to watch a band calling itself "Cheeseburger" play. The lead singer was way fucked up and kept throwing glass beer bottles at the audience. All their songs sounded like Leonard Skynard riffs with new undecipherable lyrics thrown over them. While they were playing, I spent most of the time chatting with a nice gentleman dressed as Dr. Henry Killinger (I can't escape the Venture cosplayers…).
Once "Cheeseburger" had finished vomiting up chunks of what they called a set, it was time for a real entertainer to take the stage. Hardcore gansta rapper David Banner. He showed up and rocked the mic like a pimp. At one point, Robot Chicken co-creator Seth Green showed up, jumped into the dance circle, and spazzed out in exactly the way you would imagine a white geek would spaz to gangsta rap.
The next morning, I woke up and prepared for what would be my final day at SDCC. I was beat. I had been already running around a convention center for three days straight doing interviews, checking out panels, and occassionaly taking the time to check out a comic book or two. But I'm a pro and was bound to pull through.
The last thing on my list: an interview with Adam de la Peña of Code Monkeys, Minoriteam, and I'm With Busey. It was a shining oasis of a one-on-one interview out of all the folks I talked to while I was there (in fact, I related with him the most). He is such a hardcore geek – if it wasn't already apparent from watching five seconds of Code Monkeys, that soon becomes clear after talking to him for about ten seconds. We discussed old-school gaming, comics, and Rush. By the end of the interview, he was telling me about an episode of Trailer Park Boys that I simply had to see.
It was great way to end my first San Diego Comic Con. I grabbed a bloody mary at the Marriott bar and was on my way back to northern California with a ton of memories and stories to tell. Thanks to everyone I interviewed, and I hope to see you again next year. Until then… 'Nuff Said.
Outside of all my adventures I took away a few lessons that I think we can benefit from and that this:
1. Comic-Con is as much an excuse for girls to dress provocatively as is Halloween.
2. Famous comic writers/geek celebrities are extremely grateful for your fandom.
3. Make sure you bring extra luggage for all the free useless crap you will get.
4. Nothing will make an overweight guy feel as skinny as he does next to some of the fat-asses at a comic convention.