Archive for the ‘Comic Con’ Category

For the past several-to-many years I’ve dreamed of displaying my art in a booth at Comic Con. Imagine! Over 100,000 people bustling past, taking in my photos and seeing my videos. Each year I dutifully submit my application and wait for the inevitable notification that the convention floor is full, but I’m in the queue for next year — and the next, and the next, and the next. If there is one thing Comic Con vets can relate to it is lines. Really, really long lines. Lines to enter the building, lines to get autographs, lines to buy overpriced concessions (the line at Starbucks inside the convention center is legendary), and seemingly endless lines of people hoping against their better judgement to ever set foot in Hall H. So to be on a waiting list for booth space is more or less to be expected. And that’s exactly where I’ve been for the past four or five years.

Well, guess what?

ArtExpo Map

Where is ArtExpoSD? Here!

Nooooo… I don’t have a booth at this year’s Comic Con, but I do have the next best thing: I’ll have a space at ArtExpo SD — a first-of-its-kind event coinciding with the first three days of Comic Con and taking place just a few short strides from the convention center at the historic Wonder Bread Factory:

Wonder Bread Factory
121 14th Street
San Diego, California

Yep, right over the footbridge and across the big parking lot next to Petco Park. In fact, you may actually find your car closer to the wonders of ArtExpo than to the actual convention center!

Oh yeah, and did I mention that admission to ArtExpo SD is… free? Oh yes! I just did!

And what will you find at ArtExpo?

ArtExpo SD — The Art Show

The first floor of ArtExpo SD will feature a curated exhibition of work from emerging artists around the world, including an impressive lineup of names you know, and names you are soon to know. The exhibition continues a long tradition of world class art events that have popped up in San Diego to coincide with Comic Con — each an extension of this annual celebration of the creative arts. Past events have included an impressive collection of amazing art, and — if sneak peek are to be believed (and they usually are!) — the launch of ArtExpo SD should prove to be no different!

ArtExpo SD — The Exhibition Hall

On the second floor of the Wonder Bread Factory, Art Expo SD will play host to dozens of artists and DIY denizens showing off their creative spark. Expect an art fair-ish atmosphere of exhibitors and booths — minus the greasy food and guys trying to sell you terry cloth rags. Think of it was a intimate collection of all your favorite stuff: painting, photography, handmade marvels galore, all in one convenient place.

Tell me more!

Where can you get more information? Social media, of course! Drop by the ArtExpoSD Facebook page for more information, including the scoop on how to get into the opening night VIP party!

Shameless Self-promoting Sneak Peek

Yep, I’m going to taking place in the event, with a brand spanking new photo on exhibit in the first floor gallery, and a booth of creative wonders located on the second. Expect videos, vinyl records, and a few entertaining surprises, so come on by and say hello!

And while I have your attention, here’s my own quick sneak peek at what I’ll have on display.

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You may recall a post from back in 2012 where I totally lusted over an amazing product I saw displayed behind glass at Comic-Con — a working replica of a Mystic Seer fortune telling machine made famous in a 1960 episode of the Twilight Zone starring William Shatner. The price of the Mystic Seer was exorbitant, so I sadly left the convention center  vowing to someday own a Mystic Seer of my very own.

The memory of the Mystic Seer haunted me with no end. Questions loomed! Thoughts of mysteries revealed swirled in my mind! How could I possibly continue to live KNOWING that a Mystic Seer could be guiding my every decision? Finally, I broke down, scouring the internet for the Mystic Seer I had spotted at the Con. Amazon, of course, had an outrageously priced after-market version, but not actually having a Mystic Seer to which I could pose the question “is this a good deal?” I had no choice but to pass. Then, I spotted the Mystic Seer at Entertainment Earth for the same price that had tempted me at Comic-Con. I placed my order in July and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Each month, it seemed, I would receive an email from Entertainment Earth updating me on the stays of my order: estimated release date is September 2013… estimated release date is October 2013… estimated release date is November 2013…. Without fail, release was always perpetually just one month away, until one day I received an email that said “your item has shipped.”

How exciting! And, yes, the happy day has finally come! I have a Mystic Seer of my very own!

Ask me a YES or NO question

Ask me a YES or NO question

Now that I have a Mystic Seer (which, by the way, only takes pennies, but what a bargain!) I feel as though I have the weight of the entire universe pressing upon my shoulders, as the prophetic powers of the Mystic Seer cannot be taken lightly! Oh, sure, I could be asking the Mystic Seer some of the trite questions posed on the instructions to the right:

  • Does she love me? (doubtful)
  • Will I become rich? (well, I can afford a Mystic Seer)
  • Is my future bright? (of course!)

But I believe it is my sworn duty to be asking the Mystic Seer questions that will reveal futures that will benefit all of humankind. My pledge to you, the regular readers of my blog, is to regularly ask the Mystic Seer important questions to guide our collective pop culture lives and actions. Who knows, the Mystic Seer may eventually have his own prognostication web site!

The first question posed to the Mystic Seer (which actually took place yesterday morning): Who will win the Super Bowl? 

There you have it! The Mystic Seer CORRECTLY picked the winner of the 2014 Super Bowl!! If this is not proof positive to the Mystic Seer’s window into the future of the unknown, I don’t know what is!!

The Mystic Seer!

The Mystic Seer!

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Okay, I lied.

As you may recall from my last Comic-Con report, I promised that my next post (this one) would be all about celebrities, but having surveyed my gallery of yet-to-be-posted photos I tallied 57 images of various celebrities (though not, actually, 57 different celebrities) and only 10 photos of costumed Con attendees. So, in the spirit of posting sooner-than-later, I’ve opted to put Hollywood’s finest off for a few more days and instead share images of people dressed as bats, cats, and… splat (to be explained in a moment).

To begin… what the hell?!?! 57 photos of celebrities and only ten measly photos of costumes? Shouldn’t those numbers be reversed? In past years, yes, definitely, but after the many years I’ve been attending the Con with camera in tow, the costumes have sort of become a blur, so I’m seldom motivated to haul out my camera and snap yet another picture of Wonder Woman, Batman, Princess Leia, miscellaneous Storm Troopers, and assorted gentlemanly Steam Punks. Does this mean that the costumes I captured this year are phenomenal beyond belief? No! This means that my threshold for costume photos have concentrated on the weird and different. So don’t expect shots worthy of the grand prize at the Comic-Con Masquerade Ball.

Instead… you get this guy:

Literally, a Cat In The Hat hat

Each year I take at least one or two photos of people queued up on the concrete floor of the Sails Pavilion awaiting early entry to the exhibition hall. What’s not to like about a Cat In The Hat checking his Facebook status on a smart phone wearing big white radiation goggles? Most interesting to me about Mousier Cat are the three rubber bracelets he has around his left wrist. What sort of statement might the Cat In The Hat be making, and is the presence of Rubber Statement Bracelets part of the costume… or an expression of the guy wearing what had to be an incredibly toasty costume?

Next up is a strange group of costumed revelers in line to see Tim Burton’s appearance in Hall H. Ignoring, for the moment, the fact that Burton’s rather dull Alice In Wonderland came out in theaters at least two Comic Cons back, did this quartet really think Alice’s entourage would be more effective with three of Johnny Depp’s cartoonish Mad Hatters? Then again, they did attract a lot of photo attention (and went straight to the front of the line when it came time to ask questions of Tim Burton, who looked both amused and troubled by the trio).

Not one, not two, but THREE Mad Hatters!

I’m not sure what they were looking at here. Though, given the slightly cheeky expression of Mad Hatter #2, it was probably another photo request.

Examining the conference guide in search of a medic

No matter how well you think you’ve planned your day, zipping from hall to hall, or snaking your way through the crowds on the floor of the exhibition hall, even the most organized of attendees will find the need to sneak off into a private corner to catch a breath or check the massive conference program for panel times or other important information. Here, a woman walking through the hall was suddenly struck down by an Alien chest-burster and apparently was in dire need of medical attention.

Back down on the exhibition floor it was sometimes difficult to differentiate between those wearing costumes because that’s how they chose to dress to attend the Con, and those who were paid to promote products or otherwise lure you into a booth—the latter case generally noted by someone young, attractive, scantily clad, and usually trying to hand you something. The ego-stroking novelty of a leggy Laura Croft smiling in my direction for a photo has long worn off this Comic-Con vet, so I seldom stop for posed photos on the floor of the exhibit hall. Besides, all she really wants is for me to help her meet her postcard distribution quota.

I make exceptions, though, when an inflatable Stay Puft Marshmallow Man—paid or not!—is dancing to LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem” in the Sony booth.

A dancing, inflatable Stay Puft marshmallow man

I also stopped for this photo; unsure, though, whether or not the duo in wintry fluorescent orgy-wear (yes, their faux-fur glowed and changed colors!) were authentic Con attendees or merely pitching a project. They were wearing “professional” badges, so I would normally suspect the latter…. Though they were walking the hall accompanied by the carnivalesque creature wearing stilts you see in the middle. In any case, I’d never seen illuminated parkas before, so why take chances?

Glowing fluorescent winter wear for the exhibit hall

Bat Girl playing a video game

As you might guess, Batman was big at Comic-Con 2012, with Caped Crusaders emerging from the shadows in every aisle. There were tall Batmen, short Batmen, fat Batmen and skinny Batmen (by the way, is the correct plural of Batman, Batmen, or Batmans?). To the right is one of the younger Bat fanatics, here dressed as Batgirl at the controls of an X-Men pinball machine.

Outside the convention center was a sprawling display of Batmobiles from each of the Batman films. The coolest Batmobile of all-time is, of course, the original Batmobile from the 1960’s TV series, pictured below beside a leather-clad, whip-wielding Batgirl. Hard to tell if Ms. Buckles’n’Boots was a sanctioned, licensed, or otherwise official Batgirl working the event… or simply a fan who wanted to squeeze into some polished leather for a day in the San Diego sun. In any case, kudos for being in the right place at the right time (even though she closed her eyes for this shot).

S&M Batgirl posing with the original Batmobile

The next photo was taken in line for Hall H and nicely captures what it is like to wait for hours, and hours, and hours, for a chance to get inside the nice air conditioned hall for a panel of your favorite Hollywood stars and directors.

Does a paper hat make you a Hobbit?

Is this guy technically wearing a costume? No, not at all. But I admire his use of a giveaway paper Hobbit hat to shield himself from the blazing sun. You may be thinking to yourself, Gee! That looks like a really swell paper hat! However did he get such a cool giveaway? And it goes so nicely with his cargo shorts and sneakers…. How did he get the hat? Why—of course!—he waited in a veeeeery long line inside the exhibition hall. Genius! Wait in a long line inside, so you can be comfortable in an even longer line outside. Makes sense to me, and I’m sure his prized cardboard hat (so convincingly designed to resemble a soot-dusted wizards cap) is either now on display in his dorm room, or…crushed and dented beneath a bed of Coors Light empties in a recycling bin.

Last, but not least, my absolute favorite costume photo of Comic Con 2012! As frequent readers will certainly note, I have a finely tuned sense of Vinyl Radar that beep! beep beeps! whenever vinyl LPs are close at hand. Thrift store bins call my name. Garage sales beckon like a GPS beacon on weekend drives through my neighborhood. Vintage vinyl abounds!

But Comic-Con?

Much to my surprise, as I walked the far reaches of the exhibition hall I suddenly found my vinyl sixth sense honing in on a very faint signal. I followed, blindly navigating the crowded aisle as the signal pulsed stronger. And there before me—voila!—stood a lone crate of sci fi and cartoon themed vintage LP’s. Make that, “very expensive and overpriced” sci fi and cartoon themed vintage LP’s. I flipped through the bin, stopping here and there to gaze at an interesting cover or two, but there wasn’t anything I couldn’t live without. I walked away.

No sooner had I left the bin, up stepped Snow White to peruse the records at the exact spot where I had left off—a 1967 copy of The Music of Walt Disney, on Buena Vista Records. She lifted the precious record from the plastic bin, gazing at the picture on the cover with loving wonder. How could I possibly miss this opportunity?!?!

Snow White with Disney vinyl!

And with that, is there really anything more to say about costumes at this year’s Comic-Con? Surely, no!

Next time… celebrities! (Maybe)

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Welcome back to my recap of Comic-Con 2012 and the second half of our journey through the vast tract of vendor booths on the floor of the exhibition hall! As you’ll recall from part one, my Comic-Con shopping cart was completely empty after encountering one high ticket disappointment after another.

Today, we’ll change all that.

Yes, in fact, I did manage to find a few awesome items to buy that fit quite nicely within my modest budget. No, nothing as grand as a Mystic Seer or The Private Life of Helen of Troy, but I’m very happy with the odd and unique purchases I scrounged from the dealer room. For example, this:

Naughty swiveling seated belly dancer figure from the 50s (?)

What is it, you wonder? Near as I can figure, it is a titillating amusement from the 1950’s that was probably sold from under the counter at stores that specialized in men’s magazines. The base is made of wood and the figure is some kind of very soft rubber. Beneath the base is a short, rotating metal handle, which—as you turn the handle back and forth—causes the beige little beauty on top to wiggle and dance!

Don’t believe me? See for yourself…

We pause here for readers to catch their collective breaths and take a quick cold shower

I guarantee that this talented lass will make it into one of my photos very, very soon!

One booth I aways make a point of visiting is Cards and Comics Central, a cool little store from San Francisco that sells lots of fun miniatures imported from Japan. Last year I bought a pair of mystery boxes containing human body parts, and this year I was excited to see a second series of similar mystery boxes available at the show! Now, the problem with these mystery boxes is that you never quite know what you’re getting, as the boxes are glued shut and don’t indicate what is inside, instead tantalizing the shopper with pictures of what might be contained within. The series includes the 7 different body parts seen on the box, plus a super secret mystery organ.

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The picture on the front is, of course, the most coveted of all possible prizes, and last year I scored by finding the human torso featured on the face. This year, I expected nothing less than the skinless musculature-man you see in the slideshow above.

You might think that the act of selecting a mystery box is as random as the spin of a roulette wheel. Not so! There is an art and a strategy to increase the odds of finding what you desire. No, shaking the boxes does not help; there is padding inside and every box responds silently to insistent jostling. Luckily, the weight from one box to the next varies considerably, and no doubt the muscle man would be one of the heavier items. I carefully weighed each box, grouping them into heavy and light boxes, then bought one of each so I’d be guaranteed that the contents would be different (nothing worse than duplicate body parts!).

Upon returning home following day one, I broke the seal on the heavier of my two mystery boxes to find…

Teeth. Not exactly what I was looking for. Oh, sure, they are nice teeth, but they are still merely teeth and not as satisfying as an entire flayed body.

Box two revealed a human hand reaching into the air and stripped of skin and muscle to show all the bones and tendons within. Again, nice, and I have a lot of respect for the mechanics of hands (which are currently dancing madly upon the keys of my laptop as I type this post), but not anatomically spectacular.

Returning to the exhibition hall for day two I beelined to Cards and Comics Central and found another full display of body parts. Today’s strategy would be a little different. I’d neglected to notice that the mystery box containing the teeth was bottom heavy. Argh!! Big, glaring oversight! Surely, a mystery as glorious as a WHOLE BODY would be equally weighted from top to bottom. Again I separated all the boxes, weeding out the light items, then went about testing to see which boxes would balance like a see-saw atop an index finger fulcrum. Only an engineer would apply physics to the otherwise simple task of selecting a toy figure….

After much concentration and observation I finally selected what I believed to be the most evenly balanced of all the heavy mysteries.

Apparently, a uterus is very balanced, because my mystery box contained a uterus. Ah! But not just any uterus… a uterus with a removable baby!!! He (I think, I haven’t checked) is all pink and fetal-like, and tucked snugly away behind a removable pelvic bone. Yay!!

Body parts from the three mystery boxes I bought (the eye was from Comic-Con 2011)

Comic-Con has long been one of my sources for the finest in provocatively titled and illustrated pulp magazines and novels. Past events have unearthed such treasures as Eastern Shame Girl, The Love Toy, and Illicit Wife, all of which have served as essential background scenery for my fine art photographs. Though it is unfortunately becoming more difficult to find pulp vendors at the Con, as all the little mom’n’pop vendors of the cool and unusual seem to be getting squeezed off of the floor by big time movie studios, but I did manage to find a couple of booths offering a small but outstanding selection of tawdry tales.

For I Have Sinned, 1955

At Bud Plant (a Comic Con fixture) I discovered the sultry selection to the left, For I Have Sinned — The confession of a Paris streetwalker, by Ruth Sachs. I already have a photo in mind that will use this cover as an essential element of the background imagery. This cover so moved me that I was immediately inspired to scan the web for something with a similar composition: pink night gown, dark green backdrop, but with the model on the left instead of the right. How specific is that?!?! And guess what? I found one! Both will appear in an upcoming photo, so keep your eyes open for future announcements.

There were actually a ton of other cool titles at the Bud Plant booth, and I had a nice little stack of pulps going before I whittled my purchases down to only two: For I Have Sinned, and…

The Son of the Grand Eunuch — Charles Pettit, 1949

Complete and unabridged… oooooooooo! I’ll leave it you, Patient Reader, to contemplate the genealogy that would be required to produce the son of a grand eunuch.

Another of my favorite booksellers is Altair 4 Collectibles, located in Orange, California. They always have a cool selection of rare books and sci fi pulps. I picked up the two vintage magazines you see below: Astounding Science Fiction from January 1947, and Fantastic from October 1956.

Astounding Science Fiction — January 1947

Fantastic, Volume 5 — October 1956

Call me crazy, but I’m a sucker for “red scare” literature and any story that involves a well-mannered business man materializing into a women’s locker room.

Question: When did t-shirts become so bloody expensive?

Answer: When the Comic-Con staff discovered that people would be willing to line up in the hundreds for ticket vouchers that would entitle them to buy a conference t-shirt at some later time when shirts were again “in stock”—or so I was told by someone standing in the endless line at the Comic-Con souvenir booth.

I’m not sure what the Con was charging for official conference shirts, but the going rate elsewhere in the hall seemed to be $20 to $30 for custom t-shirts, with occasional price breaks if you chose to buy a whole wardrobe of witty T’s to bring envy to your friends and coworkers. I suppose this is a bargain compared to the $40-and-up price charged these days at most rock concerts, but still…


Enough complaining! We know you bought at least one t-shirt. After all, weren’t t-shirts and shorts the mainstay of your “business” wardrobe during all those years you worked as an engineer?

Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster T-shirt

Yes, okay, I shouldn’t be whining, because I did find a couple of incredibly cool t-shirts, and I definitely did get my money’s worth, and (one more time) I do plan on selling my own similarly priced T’s when I eventually have a booth at the show.

So, what did I get? Two incredibly cool shirts from the fine folks at the Retro-A-Go-Go. Robots! Pin-ups! B-Movies and horror pulps! That’s my kind of booth!

To the right is t-shirt number one, which reproduces poster art from Frankenstein meets the Space Monster. Yes, it’s a real movie! No, I’ve never seen this 1965 “classic”, but I invite you to checkout the trailer!

I have no idea what the source is for the second t-shirt, Dr. Yen Syn Fortune Teller, which you see below. But isn’t it just too, too, too cool?!?!? Imagine what psychic powers I will have while wearing this shirt! Oh, and to think of how unbounded my cosmic powers might have been with the Dr. Yen Syn shirt AND the Mystic Seer machine!! No doubt, the Universe has conspired against me out of malice and jealousy, to limit my ultimate power.

::: sigh :::

Dr. Yen Syn Fortune Teller T-shirt

That’s it for my trip around the exhibition hall. Hope you enjoyed the shopping!

Up next: Celebrity sightings!

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July already? Well boys and girls, you know what that means… Comic-Con! I’ve been attending the annual pop culture fest for more years than I care to remember, and owe a large chunk of my sublime collection of Weird & Unusual Things to exhaustive hours wandering the darkest corners of the cavernous exhibition hall. Without Comic-Con, many of my very best photos would not have been possible, as the exhibition hall has been the source of everything from Frankenstein flashlights and lascivious lobby cards, to plastic body parts and scandalous paperbacks.

How was the shopping at this year’s event?

Hold on tight as we snake our way through the costume-filled aisles and take a look at some of the wonderful things that tempted (and sometimes defeated) my wallet!

Original Beatle Bobbleheads — $950!!

Our first stop is at a vintage booth near the front of the hall where I spotted the above set of original Beatles bobblehead dolls from the early 1960’s. Those of you familiar with my photography have no doubt seen the smaller (and far more sadistic looking) version of these dolls in many of my conceptual art pieces (examples here and here). This figures are much larger, and actually bear a reasonable resemblance to the Fab Four. Best of all, they were RIGHT THERE on the faux velvet tablecloth where anyone could pick them up or tap their bobbling brows to watch them nod along to whatever Beatle classic that might be floating through your head. Under those circumstances, and with the really good stuff saely locked up behind glass… how expensive could these really be, right?

Try $950. There. On the table.

No, I did not buy them. But I did make their heads bobble. Ooooooooooooooooooo!

The Private Life of Helen of Troy — John Erskine, 1947 edition

Having just saved myself almost a thousand dollars, I was now empowered to seek out more reasonably priced collectibles and ventured into one of the dwindling few booths that still sell vintage pulps and paperbacks. There, I was very excited to feast my eyes on the incredible paperback to the right. Oh wow!! Just the kind of thing I would buy! Well, except for one problem, quickly corrected as I fumbled for my reading glasses to better make sense of the price sticker.

$50?!?! Hopes dashed! Magnificence shattered! Desire unsatisfied!

Another cool item that did not pass the wallet test, but I took a photo of the cover all the same for a couple of very good reasons:

  1. It’s just so cool!
  2. To collect as much information on the book as possible, as the search now begins for a more affordably priced copy.
  3. The author… John Erskine! Coincidence of coincidences, John Erskine was the author of another amazing book that just so happens to be a feature player in my most recent photograph!! Is it any wonder that Erskine wrote The Influence of Women… and its cure, after putting Helen of Troy in a Victoria’s Secret catalog?

Quick! Run with me from this booth before reverse buyer’s remorse gets the best of me!

Onward we trudge through the sweaty masses and stumble upon…

Mystic Seer fortune telling machine!

OH MY GOD IT’S A MYSTIC SEER MACHINE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Just like that famous Twlight Zone Episode starring William Shatner (Are we going to live in this country?). They actually worked and dispense fortunes on specially printed Mystic Seer cards.

How long have I wanted—no, needed—a Mystic Seer machine of my very own? Wait, that’s not a Yes or No question and the Mystic Seer would be of no use. Let us rephrase: Would a Mystic Seer machine make my life even more wonderful than it already is??? The answer, of course, would not be the usual read-what-you-will mystic ambiguity; it would be a resounding YES!

Oh… but as you can see from the photo, the Mystic Seer was locked up in a glass case, and that spells dollar signs that would require an affirmative response to question number two on the boldly printed examples. Worse, to the left of this traditional red Mystic Seer was a limited edition silver model (signed by William Shatner, by the way!), and while any color but red could not possibly be trusted to lend guidance on one’s mystic journey, the mere presence of a limited edition model had to add up to big bucks.

In this case: Glass Case = $250 for the red model, or $500 for the limited edition.

So, no, I do not have a Mystic Seer sitting here beside me that—for the bargain price of a copper penny—would be able to predict whether or not you, the reader, are enjoying this post. I just have to wing it.

But I will, someday, have a Mystic Seer.

Creature from the Black Lagoon bust

It seemed as though collectibles from my distant youth were popping up to tempt me in every aisle of the exhibit hall. Everywhere I turned enticements plucked at the strings of my memory, calling out, “Hey! Remember me? You like me! You want me! Buy me!” There were DVDs of old TV shows, vintage toys, horror comics I remember buying (without telling my parents) off the rack in Mission Beach, and… our friend to the left: The Creature from the Black Lagoon.

Last summer I wrote a collection of posts on “Really Scary Things,” but completely neglected to mention the Creature! When I was a kid, the Creature from the Black Lagoon was the ultimate monster! All it took was one wide-eyed viewing of the original 1954 film on Science Fiction Theater—San Diego TV’s Saturday afternoon horror show—and I was hooked! The Creature was gross and scaly, and breathed through bellowing gills. His webbed hands were HUGE! The size of canoe paddles and tipped by razor sharp claws. He was inhumanely STRONG, and was relentless in pursuit of his startled prey. I thought the Creature was AWESOME! But he was also kind of scary because, you know, monsters could be real, and we happened to live up the hill from a large lake that didn’t look… all… that… different… than… the Creature’s Lagoon! So, yeah, I was fascinated by the Creature—but also scared and a little freaked out by the Creature. And isn’t that what makes all the best horror work?

Incidentally, just in case you’ve never seen Creature From The Black Lagoon, it may have the most immediately identifiable “monster movie” score of all-time.

Dunt-dunt-DUN! Dunt-dunt-DUN!

Yeah, that’s exactly how it goes. See for yourself.

Back to the scaly fellow above who was trapped in a glass case on the convention center floor.

When I was a kid I had a Creature from the Black Lagoon plastic model kit that I built and painted (badly), to honor my favorite movie monster. Really though? What am I going to do with a giant bust of the Creature? My home decor is adventurous, but tasteful, and I’m afraid a giant green amphibian cast would push me beyond “edgy” into full-on weirdness. Besides, I already have a small Creature on display in a bookcase along with his Universal monster friends.

I have no idea what he cost, but it was an easy decision to pass on my beloved Creature.

Original Major Matt Mason — Not for sale!

Another icon from my past is pictured to the right: Major Matt Mason, on display—and not for sale!—in the toys-of-yesteryear section of the Mattel booth. Matt Mason was an awesome toy figure created during the space race before man had actually landed on the moon. How cool was Matt Mason? He had a jet pack! That’s right—a jet pack! Everyone is always complaining that “we were promised jet packs.” Well, Matt Mason had one! Okay, in reality it was a doo-hickey that attached to his back that zipped along on a string… but if you had any sense of imagination, IT WAS A JET PACK!

Beside the jet pack, Matt Mason was cool because he had posable arms and legs. See the black accordion things in the photos? The accordion joints allowed his rubbery spacesuit to bend and remain in position. In reality, Major Matt Mason was filled head-to-toe with a substructure of stiff wire that sooner or later either broke (resulting in limp limbs) or poked through the rubber turning Matt into a saber wielding space maniac that could scratch and puncture the delicate flesh of his adolescent astronaut cadets.

Mattel had all kinds of Major Matt Mason figures and accessories on display in pristine condition. I rarely see Matt Mason figures anywhere—including Comic-Con—so it was a delightful treat to see him standing inside the glass case with his trusty space helmet at his side! Amidst the menagerie of space stations, moon suits and space sleds were a pair of Major Matt Mason accessories I had as a kid: the much coveted ATV Space Crawler and one of Matt’s space “buddies” (?!?) Doug Davis riding his Space Tractor. Each of Matt’s fellow astronauts wore a different colored suit and Doug Davis wore yellow.

No, Major Matt Mason was not for sale, and that was probably a good thing, locked glass cabinet and all. After the Beatle Bobblers, the jiggling Helen of Troy, the Mystic Seer (whose demonic head bobbles, by the way), and the Creature cast, could I bear yet another incident of exhibition sticker shock? Or would the temptation break me? Would I make a mad dash through the hall, filling my arms with limited edition wonders, as gleeful vendors stripped fat rolls of greenback from my pockets? Surely, Comic-Con 2012 could not pass without me making a single pop culture purchase; could it?

To learn the answer to these and many other crucial, overly dramatic questions… stay tuned for Part 2!

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Okay, it’s taken me a couple of weeks to complete my three part Comic Con wrap up, but we’re going to end on a high note (well, at least for me), with a quick accounting of the wondrous things I was able to purchase and add to my collection of stuff-soon-to-be-featured-in-future-fine-art-photos. This year, though, perhaps anticipating the inability of our elected leaders to agree how our debt should be managed like big boys and girls, I really didn’t buy very much in the exhibition hall.

In any case, let’s start with Really Cool Books.

Over the years I’ve found all kinds of amazing pulps—books, magazines, and periodicals—from the 1920’s through the 60’s. This year, though, very few dealers brought pulps to the show, and I had to hunt and dig to find these lurid gems lurking in the shadows of only a handful of booths. What I found, though, was Pulp Fiction Gold!

The best of the lot is surely Burn Witch Burn, a novel originally written in 1932 by A. Merritt, which was later the basis for the classic Tod Browning horror film, The Devil-Doll (starring Lionel Barrymore… in drag!). Astute readers will also recognize A. Merritt as the author of Seven Footprints to Satan, the pulp paperback that appears in my 2010 photo and stop-motion video, Unbeknownst to her Creator, Eve longed to become a cheerleader.

I like to occasionally work vintage paperbacks into my photos as background context for the scenes I build in the foreground. Close examination of past photos reveal such classic noir titles as Blood On Her Shoe, Illicit Wife, and Eastern Shame Girl. This new batch, I believe, will feel right at home.

It’s becoming much more difficult at Comic Con to find the types of vintage or unusual toys and figures I like to use for my photos, so I did a lot of looking but not much buying. I’m not really interested in using figures with recent movie or series tie-ins, and prefer to use figures that either invoke a connection to the past (e.g. the Universal monster figures I found in 2009) or are obscurely ambiguous in the characters they represent (e.g. “a football player,” “a circus performer,” “a glamor girl”). In any case, let’s see what I did manage to get….

Oooo... mystery human body parts from Japan!

Let’s admit it; all the best toys come from Japan. There’s almost no end to what our friends to the east (well, west for me since I’m on the west coast) will manufacture in tin or plastic and hide away in mystery boxes. Who knows what you’ll find inside, but the glorious box art promises fascination beyond the limits of the imagination!

A couple of years ago I bought two boxes of “mystery women’s apparel” only to find, later in the day, a vendor selling boxes of “mystery body parts.” Drat!! My budget already exceeded, I bought one box, hoping to get the human torso seen above—or at least a big, plump, human heart. Ah, but the fortunes of Japanese mystery box luck was not on my side and I got the human eye. Sure, it was better than the cutaway chunk of epidermis (low organ on the body-part totem pole), but disappointing given the pleasant surprise I’d anticipated.

This year, on my last day at the show, I found a vendor still selling mystery body parts (along with mystery desserts, mystery flower arrangements, and mystery guitars), so I splurged on two packages, and couldn’t wait to get them home to break open the seal and see what laid waiting inside.

Mystery Box One

The green kewpie, slightly disappointed by the contents of box one

And what did I find inside mystery box one?


Another eye.

Oh, how disappointing after a two year wait. Well, at least I now have two, and I suppose I can do something interesting with a pair of socketless eyeballs. Actually, I shouldn’t be so hard on the eye. After all, it does have a hinge allowing it to be opened and explored, and the insides come apart so children in Japan can explore the complete anatomy of what makes them see.

But, come on! Another eye?!?!

Mystery box number two had better deliver!

Mystery Box Two – last chance to hit the internal organ lottery…

The green kewpie is so happy to welcome his new friend!

Yay! Jackpot!!

Inside mystery box number two I was very excited to find the rare, highly coveted, Human Torso figure depicted on the front of every Body Part Mystery Box!! The “cover body,” if you will…. Okay, so I already have a somewhat larger 3D model of a guts-filled human torso that you’ve probably seen in a couple of my past photos. This one is a smaller scale I’ll be able to work into even more new pieces. Speaking of which, I’m pretty sure all the internal organs are themselves “pieces” I can use individually. I’ll know better once I rip off this guy’s rib cage. Stay tuned for the dissection.

The last thing-I-bought-at-Comic-Con (told you I didn’t buy much) is also from Japan: a set of roly-poly wobbling figures from the 1950’s animated series Astro Boy.

Wobbling Astro Boy characters from Japan

Two Astro Boys, one Astro Girl, and various friends and scientists. They (especially the girl, who here looks kind of pregnant… naughty Astro Boy!) will definitely make appearances in future photos.

And that’s it for Comic Con 2011. I hope you enjoyed my three part reports on Famous People, Weird Stuff, and Stuff I Bought. Hang around for another 12 months and I’ll do the same next year. Or, better yet, I’ll be seeing you at the Con in 2012!

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Part Two of my Comic Con report concentrates on weird stuff I saw and photographed during the event, though that term—weird stuff—is really just meant to be a catch-all for anything interesting or out of the ordinary I saw in or around the convention center. I’m sure most of you are expecting lots and lots of pictures of costumed superheroes, but I’ve taken so many costume shots through the years (Transvestite Superman! Leisure Suit Darth Vader!) that the barrage of costumes tends to become white noise as I wander through the convention center.

So let’s get to the weird/interesting stuff!

Opening day crowd queueing up for entry to the exhibition hall

Crowd shot.

Well now, that wasn’t all that interesting was it? Allow me to explain. I take one of these shots every year on the first day of Comic Con as a way of time stamping the beginning of the event, so that the next year I can look back and say, oh, last year I was in line by 8:30, so that means I have to get down to the trolley station by 8:00, so I should leave my house by 7:30….

Okay, yeah, I’m insane. I admit it. (And this year there was no parking at the trolley station.)

"Now... how many dpi do I need to print my photo?"

Comic Con extends well beyond the confines of the San Diego Convention Center, spilling way out into the surrounding Gaslamp, into the East Village, and across the facade of nearby hotels. Above is the San Diego Marriott sporting a very large advertisement for Immortals, Tarsem Singh’s epic slice of Greek mythology. Unfortunately, the banner boasts “From the Producers of 300,” so my enthusiasm is slightly (okay, very) diminished. Sadly, I anticipate that the most immortal thing about the film will be the release date. Quick! Make a wish!

Across the street from the convention center the folks from South Park had set up a popup replica of their animated town, with big balloon heads of the primary characters floating high above. Walking back from lunch in the Gaslamp one afternoon I noticed something about the hotel ad and the floating heads. So I waited… and waited… and shifted my position a step or so to the left….

It's Mohawk Stan!

This just goes to show you that great photo ops are EVERYWHERE! Just keep your camera handy, your eyes open, stand in the right place, and snap the shutter. Photography is easy!

Continuing along the outside the convention center path we’re currently taking, here’s a shot from the new pedestrian bridge that runs over Harbor Drive connecting the convention center with the ballpark (and yet more Comic Conning in the parking lots at Petco).

One way for the Padres to generate revenues during an otherwise bad season.

Across the bridge (and probably the most photographed thing at this year’s convention)….

Is it REALLY necessary to have a lone security guard protecting something this big and ridiculous?

I really don’t get the appeal of Smurfs, but then I have always been a big fan of Grimm’s Fairy Tales where elves, fairies, and other mysterious creatures of the dark forrest looked and behaved like regular people—though with far more menace and deceit. That’s good storytelling (just ask my nightmares), not smiling little blue things with names that badly imitate The Seven Dwarves.

Back inside the convention center, I was wondering—of the two costumed characters in the photo below—who asked the other to pose for the picture. Did the knight ask the bacon, or did the bacon ask the knight? Hmmmm….

World's most unlikely couple.

I’m pretty sure that the bacon, above, is a “booth costume” (Shaky Bacon from Mr. Toast) as opposed to someone sitting at home planning next year’s costume, and finally deciding, What the hell, I’m just going to dress up as a strip of bacon. As Comic Con has grown it’s become very common for companies to hire roving costumed characters to look like players appearing in a just released video game or straight-to-video DVD. So, as you walk the exhibition hall it’s sometimes difficult to make this important distinction: booth costume, or fan costume?

Let’s test it out!

Paramilitary guerilla warfare Asian stripper schoolgirl… booth costume, or fan costume?

"The other 361 days of the year I'm a software engineer in Silicon Valley...."

This one is easy. She was standing in a booth. Hence, booth costume.


Hammer wielding murderous baby doll… booth costume, or fan costume?

She was much more menacing while posing for other people. I think that means she had a crush on me.

I’m fairly certain this was a roving booth costume, as she wasn’t with any friends (maybe she killed them?) and wasn’t carrying anything besides her props.

And, question three in our impromptu quiz:

Guy covered in free booth flyers… booth costume, or fan costume?

Best costume on the floor... a suit made of the crap people try to hand you as you Walk The Con.

Fan costume—and ingenious! You can see a roll of duct tape around his wrist, allowing other people to walk up and affix their own unwanted cards and flyers to his ever growing costume. Kudos!

And what do you see here?

Very silvery version of the Silver Surfer… booth costume, or fan costume?

The Silver Surfer - with duct tape and masking tape on his board? Shame!

Too easy… fan costume! Budgets for Comic Con are BIG, and would surely cover a better looking silver surfboard than what here looks to be a taped up ironing board.

How’d you do on the quiz? 4 for 4? Awesome!

Next, let’s see how you can do making sense of this mystery…. There were TWO booths displaying what they claimed to be the Back To The Future car. Yeah, okay, there were probably many versions of Doc Brown’s time traveling DeLorean used in the filming of the three movies, but do you really expect to see multiple booths competing for the attention of fans of a mid-80’s franchise?

This first version of the car is from the third film (as noted by the Indians on horseback on the backing banner).

One of two cars, at two different booths, claiming to be Back To The Future cars.

This next version of the car claimed to be the “original” car from the first movie, complete with a glowing Flux Capacitor.

...and another Back To The Future DeLorean...

I asked, but they wouldn’t allow me to travel back to 1999 to convince George Lucas to reconsider the character of Jar Jar Binks for the first Star Wars prequel.

Zombies at the AMC booth promoting The Walking Dead.

TV shows were once again very, very big, drawing huge crowds into the Hall 20 panels, and taking up a lot of space on the floor of the exhibit hall. AMC went to great expense to recreate one of the better scenes from the first season of The Walking Dead, which positioned one of the show’s more abrasive characters chained to a pipe atop an Atlanta rooftop, while a mob of flesh-hungry zombies clawed to escape a stairwell. This scene never actually took place on the show, however, though it was heavily implied. Smiling fans could walk onto the set and have their picture taken standing or kneeling next to the very realistic looking mannequin straining to break free of his bonds.

Alas, they would not allow you to venture to the fire door and shake hands with one of the bloody zombie hands. And if they’re not going to allow that… well… why go at all, you know?

Back outside, now, for the first time since I’ve been attending Comic Con, I spotted a guy selling bootleg Comic Con t-shirts. You expect that at a Rolling Stone concert, but not at a comic book convention. Surely, this is a sign that Comic Con has “made it.”

Bootleg t-shirt seller across the street from the convention center

Let’s zoom in on this fine garment, shall we?

A shirt so bad... you can see through the tissue-thin material!

Fairly random collection of sessions and events for a “Complete Convention Schedule,” wouldn’t you agree? I mean, is that all you get for a four day pass? Rip off! Actually, the real rip off is the shirt, which as you can see in this photo is soooo flimsy you can see right through the back and read the writing on the front.

Quality with a capitol Q-U-C-R-A-P.

A slightly more entertaining form of unsanctioned Comic Con entrepreneurship was spotted on the streets of the Gaslamp where—with a simple cardboard sign and a little aluminum foil on the brim of a rice paddy hat—this street musician became part of the action.

Alien stranded on earth since 1992 when his ship crashed amidst the Seattle grunge scene

At the time I took the above picture I was looking for a place to eat. There’s a decent enough pizza place on Market Street, and I just wanted something fast, so I walked on over hoping for a gooey, cheesy slice. I arrived at the restaurant to find a line stretching out the door, to the end of the block, and well up the next block. Really? Their pizza’s not even that good! Alas, like so many Gaslamp businesses, the pizza place had been rented out (by the Cartoon Network), and was providing free slices of pizza to those who had, first, stood in line at the Cartoon Network booth to receive a yellow plastic token, which—second—allowed them to stand in a second line, outside the pizza place for a free (but logic defying and inconvenient) slice of pizza.

Second half of the 'round-the-block line for free pizza given out by the Cartoon Network

So, you’ll spend hundreds of dollars on action figures, t-shirts, and posters that will probably never hang on your wall… but you won’t spend five bucks on lunch? (And I don’t think they got to keep the yellow tokens, either!)

It's... Adventure Time!

I will, however, give the Cartoon Network credit for making the Gaslamp a much happier place to be by placing giant inflatables of Finn and Jake from Adventure Time on top of the building that houses the pizza place. So even though I wasn’t able to slip quietly inside and enjoy a mouthwatering slice of what I was craving, a smile remained on my face and I was able to snap the picture to the right.

In any case… I ended up eating at Cafe 222 (highly recommended—especially their breakfasts!), where I had a delicious lunch and did not have to deal with cheapskates hauling around giant backpacks.

Getting back into the thick of the Con after lunch proved to be a little difficult, as I found the convention center under attack by Godzilla. Argh! How annoying! And after all the attention Comic Con has showered on the giant thunder lizard over the years. Tsk, tsk, tsk….

Godzilla defending the San Diego Convention Center!

Ah! But after further investigation, Godzilla wasn’t attacking the convention center at all! He was defending Comic Con from an attack by Mechagodzilla, Space Godzilla, and whatever that is in the foreground. Good job, Godzilla!

Monsters! Beware!

Once I’d safely negotiated monster mayhem outside, there was still plenty to see on the convention center floor.  Such as…

…an alien gumball machine.

Sure... drop in a quarter. I won't bite.

…and this guy who came to the mic to ask a question during the one-on-one with Pee Wee Herman. When he started to speak Pee Wee stopped him and asked, “How are things in Sherwood Forest?” This, of course, set the questioner off into Explanation Mode, compelled as many Wearers Of Obscure Character Costumes are to correct any misinterpretations of their carefully constructed storybook personas with their “real” name, series, and (at times) complete backstory. No, I’m Green Vest Guy from The Show You’ve Never Heard Of, and I am the defender of bad brown wigs. Yeah, you know, that guy.

"How are things in Sherwood Forest?" - Pee Wee Herman

Last image from inside the convention center… (and I actually have video of this somewhere)

Cute? Or a call to Child Protective Services?

Oh! How cute! Yeah, except for the fact that the little girl… WAS TRAPPED IN A ROBOT! Sure, she’d wave now and then as her dad sent R2D2 rolling around the carpet via remote control, but she mostly looked uncomfortable, bored, and unhappy.

Finally, it’s back out into the streets of the Gaslamp for a visit to… COCO MoCA!!!

Front Window of Coco MoCA - Conan O'Brien's popup art gallery on 5th!

Inside, the gallery was filled with the art of “The Flaming C,” and patrons to this fine upscale gallery were treated to…

Fighting crime alongside The Flaming C, and using my laser camera


Free t-shirts!

Capes and oven mitts!

An opportunity to help complete a massive paint-by-numbers portrait of The Flaming C!

Photos of you and The Flaming C fighting crime with laser beams shooting from your eyes (and, in my case, my camera)!

It was really great, great fun!

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Coming Next Post:  Stuff I Bought At Comic Con!

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After much debate on how to structure this year’s wrap-up of the mayhem that is Comic Con; eschewing the obvious chronological ordering of the weekend’s events and dismissing any notion of summarizing things alphabetically, I’ve decided to write three separate posts: Famous People! Weird Things! And Stuff I Bought!

So let’s dive right in with Famous People.

Comic Con is, of course, known for drawing all kinds of famous people to the yearly event: movie stars, TV personalities, artists and comic book legends. The mainstream press, with their all-powerful-go-anywhere-meet-everyone all access credentials have already filled the airwaves and overloaded the net with stories of “who was there,” and I have no intention of just repeating the long red carpet list of “famous people” who answered question at press events, or made appearances at parties. My list will be limited to only those FP who I actually saw or encountered with my own two eyes (even if my eyes were a football field away in cavernous Hall H).

Thursday (oops… chronologic order… but only for the sake of sub-organization)

Mmmm... I want to suck Robert Pattinson's hair gel. (Max Schreck in Nosferatu)

Should I admit that I went to the Twilight panel? It wasn’t my intent to do so, but after endless email encouragement from my oldest sister to see Pee Wee Herman (appearing following Twilight) I felt obliged to at least walk to Hall H, witness the never-ending-never-get-in line, and honestly reply that “I tried.” Much to my surprise, an hour or so before Pee Wee was scheduled to appear, there was NO line at Hall H. Yes, I walked right in, there were plenty of empty seats in the back, and I sat myself down to witness the high-pitched adolescent shrieks of those who had camped out for a day and a half to see all those hunky, pretty boy vampires who would be ripped to flesh-shredding ribbons by uber-silent film vampire Max Schreck.

Now that’s a vampire!

In any case, the panel gave me ample opportunity to sit in the dark with my iPad and post snarky tweets about how the preview footage of Bella & Edward’s wedding night tryst (::: shriek! :::) looked like a vampire celebrity sex tape. I snapped a few photos of the actors off the big projection screen (though none of the beefcakey vampire guys. ::: shriek! ::: Sorry girls). Let’s take a look!

Cast of the new Twilight flick - Taylor Lautner (::: shriek! :::), blurry Robert Pattinson (::: shriek! :::), Julia Jones, Elizabeth Reaser, other blurry actresses

Kristen Stewart was wearing a black bra and a white see through top, and was just so… so… Oh! The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 is definitely the best movie ever. I mean, look at the title. It uses two forms of punctuation, and what’s more dramatic than that? And the birth scene. Yeah, that was my favorite. I mean, it was such a moment. And, you just don’t know, right?

::: shriek! :::

Okay, I made all that up just based on the actress-y tone of her “super reflective” answers. Here’s a picture I snapped of her on the giant projection screen where she’s scratching her head in Twilight Wonderment.

Kristen Stewart, so pleased to be in a film that includes a colon AND a dash in its title

Also appearing on the panel (and much better dressed) was Julia Jones who plays a shapeshifting werewolf in the new film. Because of my severe sideways angle beneath the giant projection screen the photo below seems to capture her just at the moment that the moon has gone full and her face is about ready to contort itself into full on moon baying lycanthropic mayhem. Aaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrooooooooooooo!!!! (Sorry, Julia, it was really just my camera; you’re an otherwise lovely girl)

Julia Jones, who in this photo appears to have a sleeve tattoo of an Arrowhead bottle on her right arm

The Twilight panel wrapped up with a montage of moonlit, shirtless previews of the upcoming film, and lots more shrieking from the starry-eyed girls lustfully stroking their necks from the front rows. More shrieking and LOTS of camera flashes as the panel stood and left the stage. A mass exodus from Hall H followed: creatures of the wanting night streaming into disappointing daylight, headed for the exhibition hall to seek out Team Jacob nightwear and Bite Me Edward ceiling posters.

Morgan Spurlock announcing his soon-to-be-release Comic Con documentary - yay!

Next up in Hall H was a surprise appearance from Morgan Spurlock who showed previews from the first officially sanctioned Comic Con documentary, Comic-Con Episode Four: A Fan’s Hope (great title! …even though it incorporates only one punctuation mark). The film is due later this year, and I think it’s a pretty safe bet that the opening weekend will draw an audience of at least 130,000 ticket buyers — perhaps times 41 for every year that Comic Con has been around. The clips he shared were really great, capturing the heart, magnitude, and weird charm that is Comic Con.

Following a brief panel for a couple of upcoming so-so looking films from Aardman Animation (Nick Park, where are you?), the lights went dim and the projection screens were filled with the opening sequence from The Pee Wee Herman Show on Broadway. Okay, it was pretty exciting (no, not in the same way that Twilight is exciting for the girls who had camped out overnight). Pee Wee’s appearance was structured as a one-on-one, hampered a bit by the moderator who was clearly star-struck by Pee Wee and really didn’t know how to engage him in conversation, so Pee Wee started taking questions from the audience, providing him opportunity to make second grade fun of people, which is what makes Pee Wee’s humor so endearing.

Pee Wee Herman taking a question from the crowd

The very best thing about Pee Wee’s appearance was his announcement that he’s finishing up the process for nailing down a new feature length Pee Wee movie with producer Judd Apatow. It’s going to be a road picture along the same lines as Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. Yay!

"I know you are, but what am I?"

After spending much of my first morning at Comic Con in Hall H, it was time to dive into the exhibit hall, where in past years I’ve encountered all kinds of Famous People: Jack Black, Henry Rollins, Rob Zombie, various Star Trek/Wars actors and actresses, and—of course— Elvira Mistress of the Dark. This year there were celebrity signings and sightings all over the place, as the exhibit hall has every media booth from Fox to CBS to HBO a steady stream of celebrities stepping into the fishbowl for crowd crushing photo opportunities.

Elijah Wood signing and promoting his new series Wilfred at the Fox booth

All you really have to do to find a celebrity at Comic Con is look for people stopped in the middle of an aisle holding their cameras or phones high above their heads, angled down into a booth. It also helps to listen for people calling out the names of various Sci Fi or Fantasy characters at look-over-here-look-over-here! volumes (though this sometimes happens when “normal” people are simply wearing the costume of, say, Wolverine). So, for example, when I heard people around the Fox booth calling — Frodo! Frodo! Hey, it’s Frodo! — I knew a photo opportunity was before me.

So, yeah, Elijah Wood plays a major character in a film series I’ve never seen—but he was also in Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind and Paris, Je T’Aime, so I took his picture.


You know how Jude Law, for a time, was in every movie? Well, during the 1960’s and 70’s it seemed like actress Lee Meriwether was on every TV show: Mission Impossible, Dr. Kildare, Family Affair, The FBI, Barnaby Jones, etc… I didn’t watch any of those shows, but I did watch Batman and Time Tunnel! When I arrived at the convention center on Friday I spotted her in an autograph booth on the Sails Pavillion (right next to Erin Gray, who was on every TV show in the 80’s).

Actress Lee Meriwether signing on the Sails Pavilion

After having such unprecedented luck getting into Hall H on day one, I decided to press my luck and give it another try on day two. Like the day before, there was no line for Hall H, so I waltzed right in a took a seat in the back for previews to Steven Soderbergh’s new action thriller, Haywire. Simply on the backbone of Soderbergh directing, you pretty much know you’re going to get a well-paced film with lots of tense shooting, great editing, and generally wonderful movie that is to film what Elmore Leonard is to writing.

Director Steven Soderbergh on the panel for his new action thriller, "Haywire"

The cast includes a bunch of big names (Michael Douglas, Ewan McGregor, Antonio Banderas, etc), but only two cast members were present: Channing Tatum and Gina Carano, who I’d never heard of. Apparently, she’s a mixed martial arts fighter (likely, why her name was completely unfamiliar) now attempting to make the transition from beating the living bejeezus out of people in the ring, to modeling and acting. I have no clue whether or not she’ll be successful in this endeavor, but I suspect she has wisely chosen the perfect vehicle, as the fight scenes they previewed were pretty awesome and brutally realistic (in all the right ways).

Making the transition from mixed martial arts to "acting"... Gina Carano

Up next in Hall H was The Raven, a psychological thriller from director James McTeigue set to be released early next year. The film is a fictionalized account of the last 5 days in the life of Edgar Allan Poe, with the premise that a serial killer is on the loose in 19th century Baltimore, acting out the most grisly consequencs of Poe’s tales of horror. On hand for the panel was McTeigue, Alice Eve (cast as the requisite damsel in distress), and—playing Poe—John Cusak, who the moderator introduced with a crazy long list of really great films: Being John Malcovich, High Fidelity, The Grifters, Bullets Over Broadway, Grosse Point Blank, Say Anything, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. He concluded the list of credits by saying, “…and somewhere, there is a crazed paperboy still chasing him and demanding his two dollars.” Pretty funny.

John Cusak talking about playing Edgar Allan Poe in Hall H

Much as I like his acting, I’m not entirely sure I buy Cusak as Poe, but the clips they previewed looked quite good. We’ll see… there are actually two Poe films due next year, The Raven and Francis Ford Coppola’s Twixt (with Ben Chaplin playing Poe). I’ll see both.

Back in the exhibition hall I caught the cast of The Big Bang Theory signing photos at the CBS booth. I’m actually surprised my photo came out as good as it did, as the scene around the booth was a flowing madhouse of packed bodies and camera flashes, as the security people tried to keep the crowd moving.

Cast members from The Big Bang Theory - Kaley Cuoco, Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki

Near the back of the hall were two huge two-story booths that had an almost constant stream of Famous People visiting for interviews and signings. Warner Bros had a really cool space with an upstairs balcony ringed by wisps of flame where their stars could chill or stand for interviews before coming downstairs to the autograph area.

Spooky view of the flaming HBO balcony where the cast of True Blood prepped before their signing

As far as I could tell, all of the major characters on True Blood were there to sign photos, posters, autograph books, scraps of paper, and death certificates.

Viking vampire Alexander Skarsgård along with my favorite True Blood character (from the back) Kristin Bauer

None of the photos I took of teen vampire Jessica (played by the constantly waving and smiling, happy-to-be-here Deborah Ann Woll) came out. In every one she’s just a red headed blur, which makes me believe that she just really might be a vampire (well, except for the fact that it was daylight, and on the show the vampires are constantly checking themselves out in any available mirror, and we ALL know that vampires don’t have reflections and can’t be photographed). In any case, I digress…

…and give you, instead, Academy Award winner Anna Paquin.

Anna Paquin, who looked much better in person than she does on True Blood (a little heavy on the eye makeup there, Anna!)

Adjacent to the Warner booth was another double-decker behemoth that was ground zero for G4 TV, broadcasting live from the floor of the show with NFL-style boom cameras flying over the crowd, and a jam packed lineup of pop culture notables.

Comic Con Tip!

Both the Warner and G4 booths were tucked into the back of the exhibition hall (around aisle 4200 & 4800), with close access to exits that were ALWAYS manned by security guards there to keep people from loitering near the exits. Why? Because these doors exit to hospitality tents, and this is where FPs are shuttled in and out of the exhibition hall. These exits are recessed into the rear concrete wall of the exhibit hall, and so I call this spot… the Celebrity Tunnels. Wanna see celebrities? Just hang around near these exits and watch for really big guys with earpieces surveying the crowd. Soon thereafter… Famous People!

One such Famous Person I saw being ushered from the hall through these exits, who “literally” walked right by me, was Rob Lowe. He so suddenly appeared that I had no time to take out my camera. And, so, I broke a cardinal rule of Comic Con: Have your camera in your hand or around your neck at all times.

Shortly thereafter and standing in the exact same spot, I soon spotted Aisha Tyler (the voice of Lana Kane on Archer) following her interview with the folks at G4. Aisha was part of the Archer panel at last year’s Con, and she was super funny!

The very, very tall Aisha Tyler exiting the G4 Live booth

Again, in the same vicinity… Jon Cryer. I’ve never watched Two and a Half Men (and, surely, I am better for that), but I did like Pretty In Pink. He was chatting with folks near the Celebrity Tunnel and seemed like a pretty good guy.

John Cryer from "Two And A Half Men," just hanging out in the exhibit hall

Another person I saw in the Celebrity Tunnel wasn’t such a good guy. Each morning before heading into the convention center I’d pick up a cup of coffee at It’s A Grind on Market Street. Naturally, at sometime later, I’d remove myself from the action of Comic Con to seek out a convenient restroom. And what’s more convenient (for me and Famous People) than having restrooms bordering the Celebrity Tunnels?

Vampire actor Paul Wesley, who cleared the restroom so he could look at himself in the mirror

So I walk into the restroom, am washing my hands, and in walks an emaciated looking guy with his buddy and a couple of security guards. I had no idea who the guy was, but everything about him screamed Vampire Actor! Let’s go down the checklist… Pale complexion? Check. Lots of hair product? Check. Eye makeup? Check (I think)? Brooding expression? Check. Tight black leotard shirt with skinny sleeves? Check.

I quickly deduced that this was, in fact, a Vampire Actor, and only later discovered (with a Google search for “vampire TV actors”) that it was Paul Wesley who appears in The Vampire Diaries. Anyway, as I continued to wash my hands he was checking himself out in the mirror and adjusting the sleeves of his shirt (I suppose to enhance the hollow malnourished look he was so carefully cultivating), and complaining to his friend about the buffet.

Anyhow, I left the restroom, and outside there were several more security guards blocking the doors and telling the long line of guys anxiously needing to get in that “The restroom is closed for 10 minutes!”

Yeah, maybe it’s SOP for security to close the restroom for Famous People, but I’ve only actually seen that once… and that was for Val Kilmer. This was only a TV Vampire Boy, not Steven Spielberg! And I ‘ll bet Spielberg would have been happy to allow others in the restroom while he looked in the mirror and combed his beard. Dude, you’re just not that famous.

Conan O'Brien signing at the TBS booth

Back to photos of really cool Famous People…

Conan O’Brien, attending his first Comic Con ever (though I don’t actually believe this… I suspect he walked the Con as writer for The Simpsons, but just doesn’t want to admit it) was signing at the Warner Bros booth. I’ll have pictures of his pop-up art gallery on 5th Avenue in a future post. It was easily one of the best executed “shows” I’ve seen in all my years attending Comic Con. Nice going Team Coco!

Also seen in the hall on Friday, but without photographic proof…

Matt Groening signing at Bongo Comics.

The “dating goths” couple, Kent & Vyxsin from The Amazing Race, who bumped into me and left me covered in glitter. Okay, I’m exaggerating, but they were super nice people!

The cast of Children’s Hospital on Adult Swim, a show I’ve never seen, but I enjoy the trailers they show at Landmark Cinemas.


Anyone who has ever attended Comic Con will tell you that Saturday is one day you should be sure to have your camera at the ready at all times. Saturday is traditionally costume day and photo ops abound! So, what did I do? Me, Mr. Fine Art Photographer? Yep, I left my camera at home. Luckily, I had my iPad with me, and I discovered just how clumsy it is to use the iPad as a camera. So it’s really no wonder that Apple chose to include such poor camera equipment in the device. In any case, I was able to snap a few (really poor) shots of Famous People.

For the third day in a row I was able to easily enter Hall H without a line. I have a feeling that Hall 20 is the new Hall H, probably because the lines of Hall H have become so legendary that most simply skip what they believe to be LA Freeways South, and just head to Hall 20 instead. I was never able to get into Hall 20, and from the looks of the lines (which stretched well beyond the grounds of the convention center, all the way to the boat slips in the harbor) I have a feeling that a lot of people spent hours and hours in line watching time tick by.

Who was in Hall H on Saturday morning? Only one of the greatest directors of all time, Francis Ford Coppola!

Francis Ford Coppola! (sorry... no camera Saturday; had to use the iPad)

If you’ve ever listened to the commentary track from one of his classic films, you know that FFC has a comfortable and easy way of talking about his work. He’s very engaging, funny, and kind of grandfatherly. He was given a lengthy time slot to preview Twixt, a mystery set to be released in the fall starring Val Kilmer as a second tier Stephen King who stumbles upon a murder mystery that somehow involves the ghost of Edgar Allan Poe. Of course, that’s a bit of a guess, because the previews were played in all kinds of order, sometimes in 3D, with different music, dubbing and sound effects as FFC and team edited the film live, on the spot, for the whims of the audience. What’s it about? I’m not sure, but the visuals were stunning! I’ll definitely have it on my list of must see films!

Entering Hall H everyone was given masks of Edgar Allan Poe, which had a program for the film on the back, and 3D lenses in the eyes. Best giveaway of the Con, and sure to become part of my home decor!

I'll bet you never thought you'd see Francis Ford Coppola wearing a 3D Edgar Allan Poe mask, right?

Val Kilmer was on hand for the panel, though he didn’t really say much. At one point, though, he and FFC were chanting “Nosferatu” in a loop over eerie footage from the film. Ooooooo… scary!

Iceman? Batman? Jim Morrison? Okay, Val Kilmer.

After so much time in the presentation halls on Thursday and Friday, Saturday became my time to thoroughly walk the exhibition hall with an eye on shopping, so celebrity sightings were slight. Oh, I did see Jonah Hill walk by with a small team of security on his way to G4 Live, but at first I thought my eyes were playing tricks, as this Jonah Hill was skinny and blonde. True, though, that it was, and before I could extract my iPad from the security of its cushy pouch inside my backpack (an effort that would require the negotiation of a shoulder strap, a zipper and a strip of velcro) the opportunity had passed. I suspect that other celebrity types were walking by all afternoon as my eyes were trained on vintage magazines, and spying wondrous toys from Japan, but if they were there they didn’t make their presence know. And besides, I didn’t have a camera.

Finally—and I have no idea why he was there—Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic, inconspicuous in the exhibition hall standing two feet taller than anyone else in the room.

Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic. Probably the tallest person in the exhibit hall (move over Chewbacca).

As far as I could tell, he was just walking the hall with a small entourage of friends, agents, managers, etc, checking out booth merchandise and goofing around with people by trying on a Joker mask and a Superman cape. Seemed like a really good guy who was just enjoying the event.

But even a man as big as Dwight Howard becomes swallowed by the massive crowds of Comic Con, and I soon lost sight of “Superman” (no, really, that’s his nickname, so he knew what he was doing with the cape). I suspect he was headed for the Celebrity Tunnels, and if he was, you can bet your bottom dollar that Dwight Howard would not need to have security clear the room.

Coming Next Post:  Costumes and Weird Things At Comic Con!

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Baby Haley! (The real fame monster)

Lots of exciting news coming up this summer in the land of Wind-up Dreams! First up will be a pair of group shows, both taking place at Distinction Gallery & Artist Studios in Escondido, CA.  You’ll of course remember Distinction as the locale for my 2009 solo show Plastic Prophets of Vinyl Redemption. Distinction is a great gallery venue and they continue to present some of the best art southern California has to offer.

In July I’ll have a new photo on display in Anicomically Correct, a group show opening on July 9th, running through August 6th. If the title and dates aren’t immediately obvious… the running of the show coincides with San Diego’s annual pop culture extravaganza… COMIC CON!! This means two fun-filled receptions: the first celebrating the opening of the exhibit on July 9th (6 to 10PM – mark your calendars), and the second set for Comic Con weekend on July 23rd. Click on the show card to the right (which features the cadaverous photo I’ll have on display) to get all the details.

August will see my participation in another group show at Distinction, Break a Leg: An Homage to the Theater opening August 13th and running through September 3rd. This is a charity event with all proceeds from sales going to Palomar College scholarships. Bids start at $100, so this will be a tremendous opportunity to help a worthy cause and snap up some really cool art. On display will be  another new photo — Despite her parents’ righteous determination, Baby Haley dreamed to follow her own path. A sneak peek is at the top of this page. What? Not enough? Well, if you want to see the whole thing…

There’s video!

Yes, Baby Haley is one of two brand new videos recently posted to the Video pages and available for viewing on my YouTube channel. So what are you waiting for? Go! Go!

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Unbeknownst to her Creator, Eve longed to become a cheerleader

Exciting news in Wind-up Dreams land–we are now offering Unbeknownst to her Creator, Eve longed to become a cheerleader (shown above) as a limited edition print! Unlike our other limited editions, Eve is printed on beautiful Fuji Pearl paper to give the image a brilliant, metallic-like finish (all the better to enhance Satan’s fiery gaze).  And priced at just $125, it is now our lowest-priced limited edition.  While it’s currently listed in the etsy shop, it won’t be available for shipment until Monday, July 26th because we’ll be attending Comic-Con this week. (!!!)  Reserve yours today and add some devilish fun to your world for a decidedly un-devilish price.

If you’re going to be in San Diego attending the Comic-Con convention as well, please swing by Pannikin Coffee & Tea in La Jolla and see the latest photo and slide show extravaganza, Seven Signs of the Kewpie Apocalypse.  It’s running through July 30, so you still have time to check it out.  Speaking of slide shows, have you seen the incredibly fun stop-motion animation video for the making of Eve?  Well what are you waiting for?!?!  Check it out here on our newly re-designed Videos page.  And if you can’t make it to Comic-Con, don’t feel left out!  We’ll be tweeting live, so follow @johnpurlia and/or @windupdreams on Twitter to see pics of the kookiest costumes and undoubtedly hilarious overheard conversations about Star Wars, Futurama, and loads of other geeky fun.

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