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
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!
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
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!
Coming Next Post: Stuff I Bought At Comic Con!
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