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San Diego Comic-Con Wrap Up 2011

Written By: Abel S. "Honest Abe"

07-27-11

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Altogether now…phew!  Four and a half days of mind numbing pop culture references, sore feet, fanboys, insanity and pure chaos…the 2011 San Diego Comic Con is over... and I had a BLAST!  Time once again for an action packed recap.

Wednesday, otherwise known as Preview night, started off with the usual chaos of obtaining our badges but I must say the line was definitely smoother this year.  Maybe this is a good sign of things to come?  Once that was taken care of we waited with baited breath for 6 p.m.  That is the glorious hour when the ‘Con officially opens.  I had one main mission for tonight.  I wanted to obtain this year’s exclusive Hallmark Star Wars Christmas ornament.  It’s limited to 1000 and they only sell 200 per day.  In case you weren’t aware, this year’s ornament is a two-pack of bounty hunters IG-88 and Dengar.  Naturally, by the time I got to the booth there was already a line. After almost an hour waiting …SUCCESS!  Once that was secured, then it was time to wander the main convention floor and get my bearings.  Right away, I noticed that some booths were in different locations than they had been in years past.  This made for some minor confusion on my part but in moments like this, you make do and adapt.  We consulted our maps of the main floor and after some quick reconnaissance, we decided to get some dinner and call it a night.  This would be our last chance to rest up for the next few days.

Thursday began with something different.  For the first time, the location to purchase tickets for next year’s convention was being held offsite.  Normally it would be located in the convention center right next to where you pick up your badges on preview night.  Luckily for me, the location was in the same hotel I was staying at so after hoofing it downstairs at the crack of dawn, I found myself in a line of already more than 300 people.  Once registration opened at 8 a.m., we were moving.  It was still another two hours until our badges were purchased though.  With that taken care of, it was time for some fun.

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My first order of business was to visit South Park.  Actually, it was a large interactive scale model of the town that Comedy Central erected in the parking lot across the street from the convention to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the show dubbed “the year of the fan”.  If you’re a fan of the show, you would have been in heaven.  There was an art display of original artists conceptions based on the show.  There was also a confessional booth where you would be filmed talking about your favorite South Park moment.  Comedy Central is compiling all of these into a documentary to be released later this year.  Ever wanted to snack on Cheesy Poofs?  Well, you’re in luck because while there were samples to be had, you will be able to purchase Cheesy Poofs at Wal-Mart this fall for a limited time.

There was a Karaoke stage set up where you could belt out your favorite songs from the show and a snow cone station to recharge your throat afterwards.  Along with face painting and a photo booth, the best was probably the South Park Grand Prix.  Here, you raced a Big Wheel around a small track to compete for prizes.  I had a brief meeting with some of the executives from Comedy Central who let me know that the show is locked in for at least two more seasons and if they had their way, they’d like to be back in fifteen more years for another celebration.  *fingers crossed*  A big thank you to Jenni Runyan from Comedy Central for granting me access.

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Alright, it’s time to hit the convention itself.  First thing I wanted to check out was the Lucasfilm pavilion.  I had gotten a tiny taste of it on Preview night but I wanted more.  After drooling all over the latest toys to eventually hit the stores, it was time to get serious.  I see out of the corner of my eye to life sized very familiar droids.  Sure enough, there’s a booth set up to showcase the Star Wars Blu-Ray sets coming this September.  There was a nice long line of fans waiting to enter the booth to get a glimpse of some of the infamous cut scenes from the original trilogy.  At least the wait was made easier as hand fans featuring various faces from the Star Wars saga were handed out.  Even though Friday is technically known as ‘Star Wars Day’ at comic con, I was just itching for more so it was off to Sideshow Collectibles.  If you’ve got the money to burn this would be the place to ignite your wallet.  They truly make some gorgeous pieces and the day I win the lottery, I’m going berserk.  Everything from life sized busts to the debut of the new 1:6th scale of figures, there’s just so much eye candy.  Oh you should see the detail on the Sir Alec Guinness statue.  I also was just blown away by their latest offerings from both the Predator and Aliens series.

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At this point I decided that I'd better head back to the Lucasfilm pavilion.  This is where I noticed something truly unique.  It seems that comic artist Ken Lashley is working on a new painting of sorts with a most unique canvas:  an all white 2012 Volkswagen Passat.  You heard right.  Over the course of the next few days, Ken proceeded to paint this car in black and white with scenes from the entire Star Wars franchise.  Just think about doodling on the back of your notebook for an hour.  Now imagine drawing out in fine detail the Star Wars saga on an entire car.

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Speaking of drawing, it’s time for the highlight of the day and probably the entire ‘con for me.  Time for the return of Beavis & Butthead!!!!!  Yep, you heard right.  This October, MTV will be bringing back those beloved slackers to your TV.  I sat in on the panel that featured all new footage shown for the first time.  The panel featured creator Mike Judge and was moderated by Jackass star Johnny Knoxville.  Both entered the room hoisting beers to a room full of applause.  Judge talked about his love for B&B and how it he’d wanted to bring them back before but now it was just time.  (Overdue, if you ask me!)  I won’t spoil the footage but I will say it was hilarious and best of all; it had the same look and feel as the original show.  This time around, B&B won’t just be riffing on music videos.  We saw clips of the boys watching and commenting on MTV staples such as Jersey Shore and 16 and Pregnant.  I saw the return of Cornholio.  Life is good.  Of course, it got even better during the Q and A when yours truly got the chance to ask Judge a question.  Did I mention that I was dressed as Cornholio?  We even got some sweet swag.  The panel was better than I could have expected and was the perfect way to cap the first day.  If only I had gotten a chance to meet Judge.  Oh yeah, that night in my hotel lobby, Judge was having a beer so I walked up to him and asked for his autograph and got my picture taken with him. 

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Friday morning we were up early again as we hustled over to ‘con to wait in line for the highlight of the day:  the AMC panel on The Walking Dead.  Once again, producers Gale Ann Hurd and Frank Darabont were on hand as were many of the cast members to present the first new footage of the upcoming season.  The new season begins Sunday, October 16th but even better news is that the show will be airing one hour earlier.  What made the panel was the excitement of the cast as well as Hurd and Darabont.  They are just truly excited and pumped about the show and had to stop themselves a few times from revealing upcoming spoilers.   As the show has been so wildly successful, the panel was held in a much larger room this year, known as Ballroom 20.  This was easily the longest line of the convention for me.  Later that day, my wife was lucky enough to take part in a meet and greet with Darabont and artist Tim Bradstreet who both signed a limited edition poster created to promote the upcoming season.  Also, the booth featured a life sized mannequin of Michael Rooker’s character, Merle, from the first season where you could take a picture handcuffed to a pipe with him.

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After a break for a snack, I was able to schmooze my way into the Hasbro booth to pick up another exclusive, the Indiana Jones action figure set.  Then it was time to visit the independent artist area.  A personal favorite of mine, I like to stroll down these aisles because you never know what little gems you’ll find.  Another thing I like to do is check out a panel on an independent film.  This year was no exception as I made my way to the panel for a film called Sushi Girl.  The panel featured the debut of the trailer as well as two scenes from the film.  It’s essentially a gritty crime drama starring Tony Todd, Mark Hamill, Noah Hathaway, Jeff Fahey and Danny Trejo among others.  Yes, I was in the same room as Mr. Joker, Mr. Luke Skywalker himself!  I hope this film gets the release it deserves.  The little bit of footage I saw definitely left me salivating for more. 

Saturday began with a return visit to the convention floor.  I gotta start off by giving kudos to Warner Brothers.  In the past, trying to get a ticket to one of the signings at their booth was a just a giant exercise in futility.  This year though, they streamlined how they ran the booth.  Sure, it was chaos, but it was organized chaos.  I had wanted to get autographs from the voice cast of the upcoming Warner animated feature Batman: Year One but I was unsuccessful in getting a ticket.  However, I was able to snap a few pics of the lovely Eliza Dushku who does the voice of Catwoman/Selina Kyle.   On a side note, I’d like to give a big thank you to Scott Rowe from Warner Brothers for allowing me access to their pavilion to get some awesome photos of the whole shebang.  Running around the convention floor, I ran into an old friend.  If you’ve ever seen the photos of someone dressed as Han Solo in Carbonite, that my old friend Alan.  We walked over to the G4 booth where he was going to be interviewed.  Kudos to him!

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Saturday is usually the most crowded day and once again, it sadly didn’t disappoint.  You need to be prepared to walk slowly.  I also was disappointed by the lack of good freebies this year.  Then again, I think that was just my personal luck as my wife came home with eight shirts and several books.  This was the first year ever that I didn’t get a single baseball cap.  =(  That aside, we turned in early after dinner as we had important business to attend to the next day.

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Sunday began with a mission.  My wife and I wanted to score raffle tickets to the signing of the cast of Glee.  Neither of us watches the show but a friend of hers is battling cancer and we knew this would definitely make her day if we could succeed.  Well, after much chaos, and I do mean CHAOS(!) we were able to score tickets.  Fortune smiled on us as we came out as winners.  After two hours of standing around, we got our signed poster.  Once we had it in our hands, I felt good.  It’s nice to be able to help out someone else, particularly in a place like comic con.  We did a few dozen more laps around the floor picking up last minute items we‘d had our eyes on.  We grabbed a bite to eat and then it was time to say goodbye to San Diego Comic Con.  Tired and weary we trudged home.  Goodbye San Diego Comic Con.  We’ll see you next year!  (Is it next July yet?)

Abel S. a.k.a. "Honest Abe" has written reviews for Dark Horizons, JoBlo and MusicTap.  He has worked in the entertainment industry for over a decade. He can usually be found at his keyboard ranting and rambling about the human condition or watching Beavis & Butthead.