Comic-Con International: San Diego is the grand–daddy of all comic convention and so much more. Founded in 1970 it was originally called the Golden State Comic Book Convention and it was exactly that. It was a gathering of people who loved comics, held by people who loved comics. As the convention grew through the years it morphed from a comic book focused event to a pop-culture, multi-media event. Comic-Con International, or SDCC as many know it, currently includes comics, horror, animation, anime, manga, toys, collectible card games, video games, webcomics, fantasy novels, and TV and Movie genres. In 2010 Comic-Con hit the capacity of the San Diego Convention Centerat 130,000 and has matched that number every year since. According to the San Diego Convention and Visitor’s Bureau the convention averages an annual regional economic impact of $162.8 million, topping out at $180 million in 2011. I’m betting this years’ numbers will beat that handily. This weekend saw the greatest convention of its kind and from all reports fans were delighted, as always with news, and interviews, and wares galore. Let’s start with something for those who are unable to attend but still want to feel like part of the event. Last week, in Nerd Bytes #62, I submitted a report of a new app created by SDCC and NBC that will allow you to navigate the convention if you are three, or follow along vicariously if you are not in attendance. Here is an excerpt of that article;
Whatever the news, and regardless if you’re at the convention or following from your couch, you have never been closer to the action. The greatest of all conventions has teamed up with NBC to produce a new OFFICIAL Comic-Con App. Yes there was a previous version but this one boasts new features including an interactive map of the Exhibit Hall, live updated schedules where events can be added directly to your calendar, discovery tools, and the ability to share socially and post comments! So now you can annoy your friends in real-time as you post from the convention floor making them all green with envy. You won’t like them when they’re angry! Now don’t go click crazy, you’ll want to remove the old app before installing the new one. If you are reading this article on your mobile device here are some handy links to get right after it.
Here is a taste of what you’ll get when you download this app.
Discovery: Click on the individual panels to explore various things happening at and around Comic-Con 2014
Schedule: The complete Program Schedule at your fingertips. Click the dates at the top to see each day. Click the star button to add to your favorites. Clicking any panel gives you the date, times, location, and description. Click on the room number and see everything in that room for the entire run of Comic-Con!
Special Guests: This year’s Special Guests with bios and photos. Exclusives: Our list of Exclusives from the Comic-Con website.
Exhibitors: The complete list of Exhibitors appearing at this year’s Comic-Con. Pick your favorites! My Favorites: Your favorites show up here.
Map: Includes an Interactive Exhibit Hall map (zoom in and select a pin to get info on a particular booth). Use the “Select” link at the top of the page to pick other maps, including the Convention Center Upper Level, the Shuttle Map, and maps for the Marriott and Hyatt hotels.
Social & News: Links to our Facebook and Twitter, and our Toucan Blog and Mobile site.
So, whether you’re attending or just living vicariously through your friends who are going, this app is a necessity for getting the most out of this years’ Comic Con International in San Diego! What? You haven’t downloaded it yet? Rookie!
At the time that I am writing this the convention is winding down. Fanboys and girls are frantically trying to find merchandise missing from their collections, trying to spot a celebrity, creator or executive to generate one last memory to bring home to tantalize and tease their friends unfortunate enough to have missed the show. Many of you reading this missed the show too, but that doesn’t mean that you have to miss the highlights. I have filled in the blanks for the nerd too busy to keep up with all the news on their own. Comic-Con International is the hub of information for the coming year in all industries that you care about and we’re here to bring you at information because, well, you need to know! Lets start where the Golden State Comic Convention started 44 years ago… with Comics!
I know this is much more a movie story than a comic story, but it involves two of the most popular superheroes ever, in the same movie so why not start with an update to the biggest story from Comic-Con 2013, which you might remember was Superman v. Batman, now also known as Dawn of Justice. DC Comics co-publishers Jim Lee and Dan DiDio took a moment Wednsday to check out the cape and cowl that Ben Affleck will wear as Batman in the 2016 film. DiDio said of the moment, “It just brought the reality of the fact that we’re finally going to see a movie where Superman and Batman are going to be side-by-side. That’s a fanboy dream, and the fact that the costume’s here just makes the movie even more real.” 2014 is a big year for the Caped Crusader. Bruce Wayne, Batman turns 75 years old this year and what better place than to celebrate that act than Comic-Con? Even before the start of Preview Night, DC Comics was celebrating the Bat-Birthday with a free special edition Detective Comics #27, the first appearance of the greatest superhero of all time. The third annual DC Collectibles press reception revealed long-awaited toy lines which we will discuss later, I promise. One of the bigger bombshells in the DC/Warner Bros. panels was the discussion about who would be writing the Justice League movie. Reliable sources at the Con were buzzing all weekend about Chris Terrio. The Oscar-winning writer of Argo, which was Directed and starred in by Ben Affleck, has, by all reports “crushed” the script for Superman v. Batman: Dawn of Justice and is the front-runner to write the script for Justice League. Another comic book story of note happened at The DC Comics: Multiversity Enrollment panel which featured writer Grant Morrison, artist Cameron Stewart, and editor Eddie Berganza. They discussed some details of the project that Morrison claims has been in th works for 8 years [since the end of 52. Morrison recapped the making of Multiversity, describing it as;
“talking about the time the Flash, Barry Allen, discovered Earth 2 with an alternate universe Flash. He then went on to describe the other universes that will be featured in the comic, including an earth with no superheroes, just comic books about them. He said that because Flash has to vibrate to access other universes, he thought of it as music. This harkens back to when Superman defeated Darkseid by singing him to death during Final Crisis. He then referenced his work in Final Crisis where he seeded many elements that will be seen in Multiveristy. Cunningham showed a white page with a single dot, which Morrison explained was the birth of the universes before they split into 52, each with their own Monitors, who watch over the universes. The Monitors are now gone, leaving the universes “more vulnerable to things from beyond.”
Berganza promised that all of your favorite heroes will be present in some form or another, along with a veritable slew of new characters and books spinning out of the chaos. This project may just be the starting point for the next genesis of DC Comics and it starts in August.
Over on the Marvel Comic side the information was flowing as well, but started with a big disappointment. Stan “The Man” Lee, a mainstay of the convention for years, was forced to bow out at the last-minute due to illness.
“Unfortunately, Stan Lee has lost his voice due to laryngitis and is unable to attend this year’s San Diego Comic-Con and has regrettably had to cancel his appearances,” said his spokesperson, confirming the news. “Stan is otherwise well and in good health, though he is disappointed to miss the event and wishes everyone a great time.”
The Marvel Comics marketing machine pressed on without the living legend. One of the bigger comic announcements was that Angela, the avenging angel originally introduced in Spawn at Image Comics, will get her own ongoing series at Marvel. You might remember that Angela was ported to this universe by Wolverine’s time tampering in Avengers: Age of Ultron last year, and was recently revealed to be sister to Loki and Thor. The series will be called Angela: Asgard’s Assassin and will be co-written by Kieron Gillen and Marguerite Bennett. Each issue will have two stories a 15 page lead and a 5 page side story. The stories will be drawn by Phil Jimenez and Stephanie Hans respectively.
The Arrow has wowed audiences in its first two seasons, but has been over-shadowed in the media by new DC offerings like Gotham, Flash, and Constantine. Regardless we still think that Arrow first-look trailer will prove that out. Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8 P.M. ET/PT on The CW with the new season set to premiere on October 8. In the movie arena we finally get to see Gal Gadot suited up as Wonder Woman. The uniform seems to offer the classic appeal of the Greek Warrior with enough of an homage to Diana’s colorful comic book attire. Also of interests is Guillermo Del Toro’s involvement in the “Dark Universe” part of the DC Universe. We already know that Warner Bros. Television is airing a Constantine series in the fall, featuring the DC Universe’s occult detective and Joseph Gordon-Levitt is developing a movie based on Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, both from DC’s darker side. Del Toro’s interview revealed a bit more about what we can expect.
“I’m still working on it. Sandman doesn’t figure in the Dark Universe. We have Deadman, we have the Demon, we have Swamp Thing, we have Zatana, we have Constantine, but DC and Warners have been very clear that they are trying to keep those properties separate so when the time comes they can unite them, once they know they’re quantifiable. Batman, Superman, Green Lantern… everyone eventually will come together. Right now, they’re allowing us independence.”
Marvel Studios and Disney also did not disappoint with either quantity or quality of their news at the convention panels. Movie Chief Kevin Feige has been hard at work expanding the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It seems he may be close to signing an actor for Doctor Strange. The role had previously had been linked to Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hardy but it seems now that Joaquin Phoenix is the front-runner for the role that has been described as “the next Tony Stark” at Marvel Studios. Guardians of the Galaxy comes out on August 8th nd the word from the people who have seen it already is that it is “the BEST Marvel Studios movie yet”! Bold words, but Marvel Studios’ seem to be backing it up with action as they announced that James Gunn will be back as the writer/director for the sequel. Things are not going so well on the set of Ant-Man since the departure of former director Edgar Wright. It was recently reported that Patrick Wilson, Matt Gerard and Kevin Weisman are all out of the Marvel production. Don’t read too much into this though. The “insider” that leaked the story went on to explain that both Gerard and Weisman’s characters were cut from the latest version of the script, while Wilson had a scheduling conflict after production on the film was delayed several months. On the television side Lucy Lawless was confirmed for the cast of the second season of Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, but still no information on who she will play or in how many episodes she will appear. In other television news was the announcement that the new Agent Carter series, that will tell the story of the early days of SHIELD, will include the original flesh and blood Jarvis. Show producer Steven McFeely described the show as;
“I can tell you you’ll get Edwin Jarvis ,who is Howard Stark’s butler and is an important force in Tony Stark’s life. He’ll be an important ally for Peggy, and as being an emissary for Howard Stark, he might have access to tech.”
Some non-comic based television shows and movies were featured at the convention as well. They included The Walking Dead, of course, and Kevin Smith’s Tusk. Recent word from AMC TV’s The Walking Dead camp is that the fifth season premier is so “disturbing” that the censors may remove a lot of it. Considering past story lines that would be surprising. This is the show that aired a son killing his mother after child-birth, an adult killing a disturbed child, and the leader of the group biting a rival to death to save his son and friends.
Kevin Smith, best known for his irreverent movies including Clerks, Dogma and Chasing Amy is trying his hand at low-budget horror in this feature due to release in the US on September 19th. Tusk tells the story that he first discussed on his podcast. The writer/director describes the tale as;
“Justin Long stars as Wallace, a podcast host who spends his time travelling around the US and Canada finding interesting characters with a story to tell. Assisted by pal and producer Teddy (Haley Joel Osment), he’s a seeker after the weird and wonderful. So when he receives a letter from Howard Howe (Red State’s Michael Parks) who promises a tale of sea-going adventure and reminisces that include interactions with Hemingway, Wallace heads to the Great White North to interview the man. Unfortunately for our moustachioed chatterbox, Howard has an ulterior motive: he’s looking for someone to turn into a living man/walrus creature. And the tea he serves Wallace is laced with knockout drugs… Soon, Teddy and Wallace’s girlfriend Allison (Genesis Rodriguez) are frantically searching for him. But Howard has thought carefully about his crazy plan…”
The trailer doesn’t give you much more information, but hey, it’s a trailer so watch it!
Toys and action figures are always a key feature at SDCC. Every toy company not only hawk’s their wares but they create special collector’s editions just for this event. This year was no different. As I promised earlier I will reveal the DC based toys at the convention which included but were not limited to, Batman: The Animated Series, Arrow, and The Flash action figures as well as several new Bombshells statues. Star Trek was also represented at the convention. Designers appeared at a panel called ‘Ships of the Line’ who had been responsible for some of the most iconic ships in the shows, movies, calendars and toy lines. The panel consisting of Mike Okuda, John Eaves, Doug Drexler, John Goodson and Greg Jein, with Ben Robinson of Star Trek The Official Starships Collection, serving as moderator. The group discussed images from personal collections, including files of the models. The group also recognized the work of Matt Jefferies, calling him the “father of Starship design” to which Drexler added, “There hasn’t been one Star Trek starship that hasn’t been derivative of Matt’s original ship. Matt’s was the only original.”
Well folks that’s all I have from Comic-Con International in San Diego. The greatest comic convention in the world has come and gone and the world is a better place for it. We all know that nerdier is better, right? Not exactly the way most people see things, but the SDCC is not just about nerds. Its the cross-roads where for four days celebrities become nerds and being a nerd becomes mainstream. I hope I was able to bring you closer to the action if only for a few minutes. Until next year when, with a little luck, we can all be in San Diego for the show. See you then!