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Friday, January 05, 2007

San Diego Comic-Con International Report #5 : Programming Day Three

Poison Ivy

In this 5th San Diego Comicon report, I will talk about the programming that I attended on Saturday.

I was advised by a more experienced con-goer (JT Waldman) to skip whatever morning session I was interested in and get in line early for the ever-popular Simpsons panel, as it's usually one of the ones that attracts so many people that they fill up the room and the doors get closed to those who are too far back in line.

I did go to the line for the Lost session. After explaining the Bookcrossing concept to those within earshot, I gave my Lost paperback to the person closest to me who held his (or was it hers?) hand up.

I then went to the Exhibit Hall, figuring I could score some more swag, ask for more autographs and sketches, and still make it to the Simpsons panel lineup in plenty of time. Well, we all know what they say about the best-laid plans. The lineup to get in was the largest I'd seen at the convention thus far (but not the biggest that I would see). Nonetheless, I somehow got in and the session started later than planned.

It was cool to see the Simpsons creators up on stage and I got to ask my 2 questions. There were unfortunately others in the audience who had questions that remained unanswered (almost making me feel guilty for asking 2 instead of 1 --- I said almost).

Unlike some of the ridiculous questions asked (which the crew handled well, as one would expect them to), my questions were short, to-the-point and relevant.

Q1 : Will the Simpsons be coming back to Canada?
A1 : No. We don't want to offend Canadians. I didn't buy that. The episode where they came to Canada got them front-page attention on the Toronto Sun's TV Guide. I never heard of any Canadians who were offended ; not surprising since the Canucks (or at least former Canucks) who write for the show knew what they were doing.

Q2: Will the original "Simpsons" shorts that were on the "Tracey Ullman Show" ever get put on DVD?
Q2: No. We're going to release them but are thinking of the best way to do it. Maybe via cell phone downloads.

The audience thrilled to the screening of rough scenes from the 2007 Simpsons movie. Now, everyone who's screening cartoons at the Con describes their clips as rough, but these really were - black-&-white and I don't think the pencils were even inked. I won't bother repeating what is in them, since some jerks disobeyed the "no recording" rule, snuck video on their cell phones and posted them online.

Immediately afterward, I went to the "draw to be in line for signing by the Simpsons artists, which included the famous Matt Groening, of course. I admit I cheated ; I glanced in the bag of tickets to see where one of the "Bart bills" was and then just pretended to look away when it was my turn to reach in.

Then, I rushed over to Hall H to go see Kevin Smith. Some sci-fi authors were on stage, so we waited. I happened to be sitting near a guy wearing a yarmulke, so I tactfully (I think) gave him one of my fliers for the next day's "Jewish Side of Comics" panel. I don't know if he actually attended or not.

As it turned out, Kevin never made it to the session he was scheduled for. One of the female stars of his new movie Clerks II was there and she tried to entertain the audience, doing her own Q-&-A. Towards the end, someone asked if she had Kevin's cell number. When she admitted that she did, she was asked to call it and put the phone up to the mike. Kevin apologized, said he was late getting there from an interview due to traffic and that there would be a "make-up" Q-&-A in the afternoon.

I think that about that time, I handed off my 2 comic strip paperbacks (obtained at the Bookcrossing convention in Toronto) to someone outside of the room where the National Cartoonists Society panel was going to start. I asked the Comic-Con volunteer to leave them on the seats before the next session started. These 2 comic strip paperback collections were the only ones to date that have been journaled since I bookcrossed them at the CCI. One of the books was by Dan Piraro, who was in attendance at that session.

If I recall correctly, I then had to go to the Simpsons artists autograph section and use my "Bart buck" to meet Matt Groening and get him to sign my TV Guide, sign my Love Is Hell book and do a sketch for me. He wouldn't do Rabbi Krustofksy (not one of the one's he's done lately, therefore hard to visualize), but I got a nice Bart sketch.

I caught just a smidge of the annual "Oddball Comics" session and then made a dash for the Sony Presents panel which gave the audience a first look at Spiderman 3 and Ghost Rider. Nicholas Cage was there and he had a lotteried autographing session that day.

Alas, that was the lineup which had the greatest number of people waiting in line that I had seen during the Con. My hope was that I would at least get into the Kevin Smith Q-&-A "makeup" session that followed immediately afterwards in that same ballroom. Though with the number of people waiting for that, I wasn't 100% sure I would get into that either.

As it turned out, I did get into that panel, but didn't get to ask my question (which I intended to ask in a faux Canadian accent) about whether he might write one of the Degrassi graphic novels since he likes to write comics and likes the show (which he has appeared on). I guess that was karma, since I asked 2 questions at the Simpsons session.

Kevin was amazing! Funny, charming, intelligent and very respectful of his audience, no matter how foolish they sounded (one guy admitted that he was kicked out of Kevin's forum for using a nasty word). Kevin always addressed the questioner as "Sir" or "Ma'am". I'd say that the funniest part was when he was talking to a deaf guy through a signing interpreter. He also brought along co-star Jason Mewes, whom he told us was off of the wagon.

At the end of the session, we received free promotional "Team Blaze" baseball caps, left over from the previous panel.

I ended the Comic-Con day by attending the Masquerade, presided over by (once again) Phil Foglio. That guy does get around. Once again, I got great seats by having my "professional" badge. The costumes and the presentations of them went the gamut from cute to inventive. All-in-all, quite entertaining.

There was even Jewish content. Matt Bixler, dressed as "Ragman, DC's Jewish superhero" (costume designed by Maggie Smith) came onto the stage to the tune of "Havah Nagilah" and won in the category "Best DC Costume". That earnmed him $300. A list of all the winners is at


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