Tuesday, July 29, 2014

San Diego Comic-Con 2014: SaturDAZE Part I w/ Ernie Reyes, Jr

Saturday in San Diego started at 5:00AM as I was volunteering for the 3rd year in a row at 6:00AM.  My first year included packaging the welcome kits con goers receive upon entry, you know, those big WB branded bags and the commemorative book/event guides?  Last year I got put on the Hasbro line duty where I helped masses of toy buying fans queue up to pick up convention exclusives and met my first Brony.  This year I was hoping for the same thing and got Autograph Line where I'd either be waiting in line for someone physically unable or directing traffic.  Luckily I got to direct traffic and helped organize die hards who had lined up as early as the night before to get signatures from the casts and crews of The Hobbit, True Blood, The Vampire Diaries, The Flash, Arrow and Constantine among the 9 options.  A set number of pretty nifty hologram wristbands were doled out for each title with The Hobbit reaching capacity first followed by Arrow.  I experienced my first Con induced heartache of the day as I witnessed a young fan who had been in line for hours before 6:00AM have the wind taken out of her sails and walk off, totally not interested in the other 8 signings.  Overall it was a fun shift talking to the security crew, Con staff and attendees in line.  Being so early, it's not hot yet, people are too tired to be grumpy and I was standing right by the beautiful marina and water front.  From there I observed the huge Hall H line that wrapped around the marina's concrete sidewalk into the island park.  I couldn't help but think a breakfast cart/truck would do gangbusters as there were around 3,000 folks in line.

Walking back to this year's Comic-Con'do was a little tricky at 9:30AM as everyone is trying to get in.  The sidewalk was packed with attendees trying to get in along with those annoying Bible thumpers taking up valuable space.  I witnessed a young girl having a panic attack and being helped by a local police officer but I wonder if that was a ploy to get out of the crowd...come on, it's Comic-Con, massive hordes of people is just part of the deal.  The only panel I was really gunning for on Saturday was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 30th Anniversary a shellebration of 3 decades of comics, cartoons, toys, movies, video games, merchandise and heroes in a half shell.  Unfortunately I over napped and arrived at the line 30 minutes before the panel to find a huge crowd already waiting.  However, I spotted mother fucking Ernie Reyes, Jr., the martial artist/actor who played Donatello's fight double in TMNT then graduated to lead role Keno the pizza boy in Secret of the Ooze before headlining Surf Ninjas!  Some other guys in line and I went over and got in quick greetings and photos as Reyes, Jr. was uber cool and rocking the red and white pizza delivery jacket costume from the movie!  Oh and he looks younger than I do even though he's 10 years older.  Jerk.  It was a nice consolation prize as I did not get into the panel but hey, I've seen lot of Ninja Turtle stuff through the years and gotten to meet Kevin Eastman and now Keno himself.

With time to spare before my next panel, I popped into The Art of Fear where horror authors riffed on how they scare audiences and approach the craft of writing.  For what I thought would be a nice filler panel, it was actually quite informative and entertaining.  The panel talked about drawing inspiration from real life events such as the Salem witch trials, new strains of virus, trends in mental health and more.  While some of the self induced horror smacked of BS to me (it's dark, oh no!), it was fascinating to hear about how at one time or another, things we find totally fantastic and false (witches, vampires) were real fears to large segments of the population.  It will be interesting to see what people 100 years from now laugh at us for being afraid of.  The authors also discussed their writing methods and how they got their starts.  One uses Excel spreadsheets to keep track of her characters, sub-plots and twists while another explained how he self published to Amazon and after 10 days his title became a hit and big time publishers came looking with a 4 book deal.  All in a pleasant surprise and sadly more engrossing than the panel I was actually waiting for...

Which was Big Trouble in Little China: Shaking the Pillars of the Comics Industry, a look at BOOM! Studios new title based on the 1986 John Carpenter cult classic film starring Kurt Russell, Dennis Dun, James Hong and Victor Wong.  I picked up the first 2 issues of the series at the show earlier in the week and found # 1 funny and an interesting take on the movie that didn't quite make sense story wise but went along with it.  I don't know what it is but this is the 2nd panel on Big Trouble I've seen that didn't include anyone involved in the actual film that came off very lackluster.  Remember when I saw it with the creators of Robot Chicken and a film school guy who wears scarves with graphic tees and it sucked?  This wasn't quite as bad but wasn't one for the Con books either.  Writer Eric Powell didn't have much to say beyond he thought he could do a good Jack Burton and that John Carpenter is down to earth and not a typical Hollywood douche.  Editor Ian Brill chimed in talking about the genesis of the project and how much everyone loves Carpenter while moderator Chris Sims told us he made his new lady friend watch Big Trouble on one of their first dates.  I wondered if the creators went through any old drafts of the screenplay by W.D. Richter and Gary Goldman for inspiration but there were a lot of questions about nothing in particular asked.  I did however sit next to a nice guy dressed as Jack Burton himself and behind a woman who attended on behalf of her super fan husband who could not be there.

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