San Diego (CA) – Hundreds of thousands of comic book, video game and movie fans are flocking to this year’s Comic-Con convention in San Diego where old and new media are mixing together. Movie and comic producers, artists and stars gave panels, while both the young and the young at heart played the newest video games in the booming and bustling part of the exhibition hall. Of course it wouldn’t be Comic-Con without comics, but those were relegated to a sedate back section of the hall.
Jewel Staite of Firefly, Serenity and Stargate Atlantis fame
The star-studded panels are the main draw of Comic-Con where we saw people wait up to two hours in line. Jessica Alba showed up to talk about her upcoming movie “Good Luck Chuck” and she managed to fill up Hall H with thousands of drooling fans. After the panel, Comic Con’s signature question and answer session began.
QA sessions for other conventions are rather boring affairs, but not the ones at Comic Con. Sure you still have to line up in front of the microphone to ask questions, but questioners are often verbally skewered by the stars as they walk up to the mic. To make matters worse, the camera zooms in on the person asking the question – which makes for some hilarious moments depending on how the guy/gal is dressed. We’ve seen Darth Vaders, Storm Troopers and even Optimus Prime (complete with mechanical voice) ask questions.
Getting out of a panel can be just as tough as standing in line to get in. For the packed sessions, people are often herded into lines to exit the room. They are then routed to walk outside of the convention center (it’s HOT outside) and back in.
Speaking of costumes, we’ve seen the gamut of outfits from fully-decked out Ghostbusters – complete with heavy proton backpacks and wizzing sensors – to the ever-present Storm Troopers and Darth Vaders. This year Harry Potter wizard outfits are a big hit with some asian girls pushing the limit on how short a wizard skirt can go.
In between panels, attendees file into the packed exhibition hall which, by our estimation, has just 40% of the space reserved for comic books. That section is quiet with people gawking at posters or flipping through boxes of carefully-wrapped comic books. But the other side of the hall is much different with loud music, people talking on PA systems and lots of LCD screens showing off the latest movies and games.
The front half (or back half depending on your perspective) of the hall looks more like the E3 Game Convention of previous years than a comic book convention. Huge booths with consoles lined the aisles while gamers eagerly questioned developers and played games. With the downsizing of E3, Comic Con has become a much more important venue for game companies to reconnect with their fans.
Some of the busier game booths included Unreal Tournament 3 and Blizzard Entertainment showing off World of Warcraft Burning Crusade. Even though the Burning Crusade was released several months ago, gamers still packed into Blizzard’s booth to have a quick duel against other players. Fans could pick from several pre-made characters with the absolute best gear and bags full of potions, gems and other assorted purple items. “I wish I had this gear!” was something we often heard from the gamers.
Another nice thing about Comic Con is that you can actually buy stuff here. Attendees are spending hundreds (maybe thousands) of dollars each buying up posters, game figurines and dice (need a new D20?). Game cards by Magic and Yu-Gi-Oh are also selling like crazy.
Comic-con isn’t just about comics anymore and by all observations new media like movies and video games have taken over. However, many of the movies and games are based on comic books, so maybe the convention should have the motto – Comic-Con, a place to read the comics, watch comics and even play the comics.