Notes from the world of comics (days 3 and 4)

Day 3 – July 23

Deciding to try something different from the first two days and opt out of Hall H to instead take in a few of the “lesser talked about” panels. The first one featured a group of production designers, who’ve collectively worked on Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, X-Men, The Walking Dead, Chuck, Doctor Who and Chicago amongst others. Here they discussed their previous works, their roles on a film as well as some anecdotes about experiences they’ve had while making several of their films. It was quite intriguing and very much up my alley as a visually inclined individual.

After that panel was over, the next group flowed in to see Capcom unveil their latest arcade style game Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. I myself am not much of a gamer, but the crowd their were extremely hardcore about the material that the video game giant showed as well as all the new information that they released. They revealed 4 new characters out the 12 they plan on adding to this version of the game (those being Marvel’s Hawkeye, Ghost Rider and Capcom’s Firebrand and the audience favourite Strider) as well as new outfits for most (if not all) of the characters to wear. Then, apparently as with tradition, they chose two audience participants to fight each other in the game, one representing Marvel and one Capcom. Marvel won both times. But the game itself looks very crisp. Once again, I’m not a big gamer and have only played the previous games a handful of times, but this one looked like one to keep an eye out for.

Choosing to just stay in that room and take in the next couple of panels, I was treated to the likes of Disney Channel’s Kick Buttowski panel, a show I had not even heard of prior to the convention. The voice cast was present as was the show’s creator and they showed some footage which revealed a little 8-year-old stunt man in a rather hilarious seeming show. The interesting part of this panel though came in the form of an empty seat.

After the voice cast and producers entered and talked with the crowd for a while, one seat remained empty with the name tag “Dwight Howard”, the five-time NBA All-Star who apparently voices a character on the show. They talked for about half an hour before acknowledging the non-presence of Howard until finally the moderator offered his apologies for Mr. Howard. Then, on cue, the lights dimmed and music blared as Howard (in character as his voice-counterpart Rock Callahan) entered the room, bounding around the room, high fiving his adoring public. It was pretty cool, admittedly. He answered questions (mostly involving his NBA future) but turns out that he’s a damn good interview. A very entertaining guy. They also unveiled the “trailer” for “Rock’s” new movie (obviously a storyline from an upcoming episode). The trailer is now online and can be watched here.

What I was treated to in the next panel was an unexpected treat. Going into the Con, I had only known Robert Kirkman through name and nothing else. So when he got up and basically answered questions from the audience for an hour, it was amazing to see that he was a regular dude who knew his shit about comics as well as who his audience was. He was engaging, sarcastic, hilarious and covered topics about his comics (“The Walking Dead”, “Invincible”, etc.) as well as the runaway hit The Walking Dead TV show currently on AMC. I was able to record the entire interview, so perhaps you’ll be able to hear some of it at a later time.

Once Kirkman finished up, I was disappointed to find out that the next panel that I was highly anticipating featuring Disney producer Don Hahn, had been cancelled. So rather than wait another three hours for the next panel, I opted to leave and explore the convention centre. I walked across the street from the centre eventually to check out some the excitement happening over there and led myself to a retail store called Trickster, which was the perfect companion for the massive convention. Here was this small little venue in which illustrators gathered to sell moderately rare pieces they have put together. I got a few works by an illustrator I love named Bill Presing, so it was very much worth it for me.

I made my way back to the exhibition hall, walked around for a bit and decided to get Billy Zane’s autograph (he was there with the Back to the Future De Lorean, as he co-starred in the second installment of the series). Besides that, more free stuff, a lot more people (if that was possible) and quite a bit more fun.

Day 4 – July 24

Sunday is evidently a day to wind down the Convention, as the events are not as particularly exciting as the previous days. Still, I found a couple of ways to keep it going. The first was a panel from Archaeic Entertainment in conjunction with Jim Henson’s estate. The small company has acquired the rights to a number of Henson’s works including an unproduced screenplay that Henson wrote before he died. Feeling that it would suit a graphic novel format, the company is choosing to do just that and brought in the editor in chief, the artist and a Jim Henson archivist to discuss the project.

Based on what we were shown, the artwork looks impeccable. It has a water-coloury smokiness to it and looks like it was handled with great care. From what we were told, this work should be very much in line with Henson’s early work that he did, including a number of short films that we were also shown during the panel. They also announced plans for graphic novel sequels to both The Dark Crystal (which will be out later this year) and Labyrinth (which will be next). A Tale of Sand, as the graphic novel is tentatively titled, will be released this fall. Watch out for that one.

After this panel, there was nothing that really peeked my interest, so I instead decided to use the rest of the final day to shop and explore the remaining parts of the exhibit hall I hadn’t covered previously. So all in all, Sunday remained a very calm, and relaxing day.

Click here to read about Day 2 of Comic-Con.

1: It’s quite funny

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