Saturday, July 26, 2014
San Diego Comic-Con 2014: Friday aka Panels on Panels on Panels!
Friday morning I was beat and bummed around a while before heading over to the show. Not feeling like navigating the exhibition floor I opted for an afternoon of panels where one turned into six!
First up was Secret Origins: How the Industry's Best and Brightest Began with Chip Mosher, David Steinberger, Mike Marts, Shannon Watters, Marc Bernardin and Frank J. Barbiere who collectively have worked for Marvel, Starlog, Entertainment Weekly and DC shared their sagas of breaking into the comics game. From starting off as an intern who never left to selling 60 copies of a self financed book at conventions to a Singing Major who changed careers at 34 to e-mailing Jim Lee once a month for 13 months, it was a very cool and inspiring panel that reminded us, especially in this day and age that you just have to do what you love and there's no excuse for not setting goals big and small in this era of fans easily becoming creators thanks to the internet and advancements in technology. As ComiXology was recently purchased by Amazon, the first 2 individuals who asked questions received a free Kindle Fire!
Next was Free Enterprise: 15th Anniversary Reunion which celebrated the 1999 release of low budget romantic comedy Free Enterprise starring Eric McCormack (Will & Grace) and William "Bill" Shatner. Writer/producer Mark A. Altman shared hilarious stories of trying to land Shatner in the role of himself, written as a uber-sage to two pop culture loving nerds trying to make it in Los Angeles. Shatner declined on the basis of not wanting to play a God like character but was open to the idea of giving him everyday problems like trying to meet women. Altman also told a great story about Al Pacino seeing Star Trek: Generations and loving the fact that it took a mountain to crash on Shatner's Captain Kirk to kill him while the "Shakespeare guy" (Patrick Stewart) took a pebble to the shoulder and went down. Altman and company are looking to resurrect FE as an online series and shared a pitch video from their ongoing Kickstarter.
After that it was time for Brands Gone Geek: How Media and Marketers Are Harnessing the Might of the Superfan which looked at the way big business is targeting the Comic-Con and pop culture crowd with insights from a large panel of guests involved with BOOM! Studios, a former movie producer turned comic book store owner, the Bonfire Agency, online reporting, Hero Complex and many more. Hosted by Sydney Pollack doppleganger Steve Rotterdam, it was an eye opening look at what I've been saying for years, we live in a time when you can sell people's childhoods back to them. Comic books, collectibles and the like account for over $1 billion dollars in sales a year with the average con goer spending more on their cool swag and stuff than sports fans. Basically, all the kids who were made fun of in school for liking comic books, cartoons, fantasy literature etc are now in control of popular culture from the plethora of comic book and fantasy movies topping the box office to Chase bank, Dunkin Donuts and Carl's Jr. among others vying for the Comic-Con crowd without insulting them through commercials and campaigns.
Finally I caught a few minutes of An Inside Look at Shout! Factory where sub-brands Kids and Scream Factory crew talked about the process of getting hired, procuring and restoring titles then outfitting them with special features. Shout does a great job of asking fans what they want and reaching out to anyone involved with the production. Two fans actually sent in prints of an obscure title when the company couldn't find a suitable copy for restoration and release. I didn't realize they put out so many titles as last year saw 300 some releases up for grabs. So far 2 of them have starred Dolph Lundgren so keep'em coming please.