San Diego Comic Con 2007

August 2007

It's been six years since the last time we went to the San Diego Comic Con in 2001, and it has certainly increased in size as well as attendance. Boy, it really has increased in attendance. The Comic Con has doubled since I first attended in the late 90's, and the crowds are insane. It is necessary to get into line for nearly every panel now, and they enforce strict fire code regulations. So, you can't just go to the back of the room, put your backpack down and plop your rear on the floor anymore. This major difference now forces you to really plan an itinerary to see the shows you really want to see, and sneak into the dealers hall in-between shows.

Despite me being unemployed at the time, we were not able to attend the Comic Con on Thursday because Mayu had to work that night. I had to just be satisfied watching G4's coverage of the Con on Attack of the Show. They had a special announcement from the set of Indiana Jones 4, which will be released on Memorial Day weekend 2008, in which Harrison Ford and Steven Spielburg addressed the Comic Con attendees. The big surprise was that the character Marion Ravenwood will be in the new movie.

Day 2: Friday, July 27th:
Early Friday morning we drove to San Diego in a rented Dodge Calibur, which makes excellent gas mileage. We could've possibly made it all the way to San Diego from Phoenix on one tank of gas, but we filled up in El Cajon or some place like that before getting into town, just to be careful. Halfway there, we stopped in Yuma for breakfast/lunch at Burger King. I really do not eat Burger King very often, especially since there are way better places to get a hamburger where I live (Lenny's Burgers in North Phoenix FTW!), but the BK in Yuma is especially good. Maybe the food is fresher there because they make it on an as-needed basis since it is a smaller town; I dunno. But we scored a cool Simpsons toy there from the new Simpsons movie that was released nationwide while the Comic Con was in progress.

When we got to San Diego, our first destination was our hotel, the Old Town Inn in Old Town. Our first choice, La Pensione Hotel in Little Italy, was booked solid way in advance in January or so, and I had bought our Comic Con tickets back in April even. Old Town Inn was located very conveniently to the Old Town trolley station, so it was very advantageous. Well, the trolley was packed solid when it finally arrived and we had to wait for the next one to come by. They now have direct connections to the Con on the trolley this year, which we didn't get six years ago. We learned that it wasn't so crowded to just take the regular trolley and transfer at the Amtrak station. Pre-registration is now entirely essential at the Comic Con. Ten years ago I was able to show up on a Saturday and pay the one-day admission, but that is now out of the question to do so. Since Transformers was the big movie in July, we saw plenty of Transformers cosplayers wandering around in the upper deck (aka "the sails") where the pre-reg is located. Some of them were crappy, but some were very great. I'd taken pictures of a cool Soundwave costumer as well as a Macross Valkyrie, but stupid me deleted these by accident. D'oh!

Pictured above, Kotobukiya's booth was awesome. It was our first booth we visited upon entering the dealers room. Kotobukiya and Kaiyodo are my two favorite Japanese toy companies. Kotobukiya had plenty of upcoming toys and figures on display. Unfortunately, their new Obi Wan Kenobi PVC statue, pictured above right and retailing at about $100, still has not arrived outside of Japan. They had sold out of the SDCC exclusive Rei figure with umbrella pictured in banner in the upper left picture, however Yes Anime had a few left for sale. I snagged one for me and my friend Oscar. The Bome Saber figure from Fate/Stay Night was also on display, below right in the pictures above. Although it had just been released in Japan, neither Kotobukiya nor anyone else had the import for sale. I guess I'll just wait for the domestic release in September or so. I did pick up last year's Bome Bunny Girl SDCC color variant that was left over.

Legos rule. I don't feel that I should have to explain that to anybody.

I saw Stan Lee! He was up on a pedestal and they were giving him an award for something. Probably the award for "having the most fun a person should be allowed to have" or something.

Anime merchandise galore! Evangelion figures were everywhere, as can be expected, but it was nice to see plenty of figures from other series, such as Fate/Stay Night. I watched fansubs Fate/Stay Night last December, and as a result I am buying up the Geneon DVDs of the series as they are released. The show itself is fairly bizarre and falls into some of the annoying cliches of modern anime, but it is the awesome character designs that draws me to the show, particularly the main character, Saber. Armor-wearing chicks with swords are beyond cool.

In the last row of pictures you'll see Anime Gamers, a branch off from the Gamers stores in Japan. While not nearly as cool as the type of Gamers store I'm used to in Japan, it is cool to see Gamers in the USA. The next picture is Jungle, and offshoot of the Jungle store in Japan. The first Jungle I ever went to was in Osaka's Den Den Town, and it was well-known for its selection of anime laserdiscs. The Jungle store in Los Angeles's Little Tokyo does have a decent-sized selection of laserdiscs in the back corner of the store, but it is mostly known for its awesome selection of PVC figures and miscellaneous anime merchandise.

One of the big announcements was the release of the USPS Marvel Super Heroes stamps. Incredibly cool, especially since I really didn't care much for the DC Super Hero stamps because I really do not like DC characters one bit.

Behold Kaiyodo's Revoltech booth! Revoltech toys are so incredibly cool. I picked up the new dark Saber Alter figure to go along with the regular Saber Revoltech figure I have, along with Optimus Prime and Megatron Revoltechs. They gave me a sheet of Revoltech stickers and a Revoltech pen with my purchase. NEATO! I almost got Inoue Toro from Dokodemo Issho, but my wife passed on that.

Doug Tennapel was there, the creator of Earthworm Jim. I told him that my friends and myself loved the cartoon series, and asked him if the show will ever see the light of day beyond hard-to-find VHS videos. He said that there's no chance of Earthworm Jim ever being released on DVD. This made me sad, but it was cool to meet him in person.

However, I discovered good news across the aisle from Doug Tennapel. Across from him was Steve Purcell, a man I have a hard time not giving money to every time I see him. I'd caught him at the 2000 and 2001 Comic Cons, and it was great to see him still attending. Sam & Max is an extremely brilliant comic book, and I dearly treasure my "Sam & Max Surfing the Highway" compilation of the old Comico issues and the Lucas Arts exclusive comics. I had him sign my journal with a picture of Sam (I'd had him do Max for me in 2001 in a previous journal) and bought more stuff from him. The good news is that the ill-fated Sam & Max cartoon series will be released on DVD by The Shout Factory! Fox tends to cancel all the really great shows, such as The Tick, Firefly, Sam & Max, Futurama, etc. Unfortunately, Sam & Max would've benefited more if it had been released for Cartoon Network's Adult Swim and if it had been allowed to be as violent and insane as the comics, instead of toned-down for the children. The show was pretty great for what it's worth, and it is certainly worth getting and replacing the old VHS videos I've had all these years. What's also cool is that they had a costume of Sam & Max, and I teased Steve Purcell about how there should be plush dolls available someday, since he'd even hinted at that in his old comics. I think I probably annoy him every time I see him, but all he has to do is sit there all day while people line up to tell him how cool he is. I'm sure he can't complain.

The sight of a Sam costume was nearly enough to turn me into a gay furry. But not quite. I still kept my sanity.

Peanuts kicks ass. Anyone who denies this fact is a communist or something. However, we already own so much Snoopy merchandise, and earlier this year we had already visited the Snoopy Town store in Harajuku, so it was easy enough not to buy anything. I had attended the Comic Con in 2000 after Charles Shultz had died, and I really wanted to attend the Peanuts panel. I went with a friend of mine, but because he didn't personally care for Peanuts and thought that Snoopy was boring, he decided that we were not going to get to the Con early enough to see that panel early that Saturday morning. So, I missed out. Grrr...

Another year and I failed to meet Ben Edlund, the creator of The Tick, in person. I love the comics, the cartoons, and even the Seinfeld-like live-action TV show. I got to talk with some reps from New England Comics, and got to ask a few Tick questions, such as why the heck are there episodes missing from the DVDs. I also got to finally buy a bunch of the Tick omnibus collections, which had been out of print for a very long time and have now recently been re-released. Oh, joy! My friend had let me borrow his comics a long time ago, and now I finally own my own. Yay.

I asked a rep at Broccoli if they'll ever release the fifth series of Galaxy Angel, and the guy said they are releasing it through Bandai. I said "No, I'm talking about the series with Chitose, not the new generation of characters." He said he wasn't sure about that. I bet they hate fanboys like me asking all these types of questions!

LEFT: Bossy Bear is freakin' NEAT-O. RIGHT: I spoke with the guy who handles manga at Dark Horse about what ever happened to Cannon God Exaxxion, one of my favorite series that sorta died May of '06. He says it is on hiatus, but not cancelled. Apparently Dark Horse is rethinking their approach to manga, and maybe they're realizing that flipping the manga to read from left to right is more trouble than it is worth. Already they've re-released Gunsmith Cats, and they'll probably re-release Exaxxion in its original form before proceeding with volume 6. Maybe they'll re-release volume 5 uncensored?

There is just so much going on at the Comic Con each year. I really should have spent more time studying the entire schedule of events. We showed up early to the 30 Years of Star Wars presentation, only to catch the last half of the Blade Runner presentation. Ridley Scott was there, along with Syd Mead, Sean Young, and a few other actors from the movie. When asked if he would make a sequel to Blade Runner, Ridley Scott said he'd consider it. But has Ridley Scott ever done a sequel to any of his films? I remember many years ago there was talk on the Net about Scott doing a movie called "Metropolis" that was going to be based in the same universe as Blade Runner, but not necessarily a direct sequel. Apparently this "final" cut of Blade Runner will make it definite that Deckard is a Replicant. He said that a sequel would hang around the words, "It's too bad she won't live, but then again who does?" Only in the original release of the movie was there a happy ending where there was no expiration date for Rachel. Sean Young then said, "Well hey, if there's a sequel, I'll be in it!" I really doubt it, but then again, maybe Scott was testing the waters at the Comic Con this weekend to see if he should make a sequel. He did mention that he's making plans to make a movie of Phillip K. Dick's "The Man in the High Castle." If they do make another Blade Runner movie, I want it to be full of 80's technology like the original. I want to see CRT monitors instead of flat panel screens, noisy neon signs, etc!

Left: David Prowse, the actor who played Darth Vader, was there (got to shake his hand), and I got to shake his hand. Right: Lego Spongebob.

Neat toys at the Toynami booth: Mospeada on top and Golion/Voltron at the bottom.

Interesting Star Wars stuff on display. There was a gallery of painted Darth Vader helmets, and they had life-sized astromech droids there too. The pink one is R2-KT, a droid specially designed for Katie Johnson for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. They were selling action figures of this at the Con. I ended up paying too much for mine from a gouger. Oh well.

I stopped by the AnimEigo booth. Yawara has been delayed, as can be expected. But it is in good hands with Animeigo, since they truly love the classics. (I'm so glad I picked up their box sets of Orange Road and Macross before they lost those licences). I did get a freebie DVD of the first four Yawara episodes!

I finally got to meet Peter Payne at J-List. I had corresponded with him years ago about teaching English in Japan in the mid- to late-90s before I got the job in 2000. It was cool talking to him in person. I asked him if they'll ever release their Seishun Shitemasu fandubs on a DVD, and he deferrred me to the guy known as "Dr. Teeth" who did the sound for the shows. He says they may leak them out on the net sometime, although I think they may already be floating around somewhere. The ones I've known about were Robotech 3 (using Gunbuster footage), Kimagure Orange Road the Armageddon (using KOR and Akira footage), Laputa 2 (Nadia), Ranma 1/3: Notes from the Closet, and Voltron. Apparently they did a Robotech 4 (Macross II) and a Sailor Moon fandub. These are hilarious fandubs and it makes me wish I would've been able to attend AX when they used to get away with showing this type of stuff there.

More cool pics:

Left: "I'm on a never ending quest to save my girlfriend!" Right: Shogun Warriors.

There was a really cool Japanese R2-D2 pachinko game there too.

Left: How many nerds have considered naming their daughter's first and middle names Ellen Ripley? Right: "This is my boomstick!"

Vinyl toys on display: Gloomy Bear and that fat Ronald from Super Size Me.

Day 3: Saturday, July 28th:

On the trolley to the convention center.

We got to see the Star Wars panel that morning. The new Clone Wars show will be a CGI animated show, not a cartoon like it was years ago. However, the character designs are similar to the original cartoon. We also learned that there will indeed be a Star Wars TV show. Hopefully it's more interesting than the new Battlestar Galactica. Seth McFarlane was there (not a big fan of his), to announce that the season premiere of Family Guy will be a spoof of Star Wars episode 4. In other Star Wars news, Seth Green was there for a Robot Chicken panel. I missed the panel due to a small room and too many people in line. He was showing the making of the Robot Chicken Star Wars episode.

The Simpsons panel's Q&A session featured the most inept, incoherent dorks I've ever seen. Holy crap, I wonder if some of these people leap into line to ask a question without even having a question to begin with, and hoping that by the time it is their turn that they'll think of something. I think one guy was mentally handicapped, and several others had weird speech impediments. I felt sorry for Matt Groening and the rest of the panelists to have such retarded fans. One jerk even insulted Al Jean by asking if they'll ever change the head writer/director of the show. I could tell that Al looked flustered after that and even said that it was a very insulting comment. I was tempted to just get up and walk out because the questions were so inane. The best thing they showed was a preview of the upcoming Simpsons Halloween episode where Marge kills Peter from Family Guy with an electric screwdriver.

Left: Uglydolls! David Horvath! Right: Kaiju Big Battel. Goofy stuff.

Left: Chairman Right: Alien Hominid is about to eat that kid!

More Fate/Stay Night merchandise.

Left: This robot just looked cool. Right: The infamous lamp from A Christmas Story.

Left: The Mach 5 was on display. Right: Objection!

Left: More goodness at the Toynami booth. Macross! Right: Mayu fell in love with Caveman Robot!

The Futurama panel was awesome. Matt Groening was there of course, along with four of the voice talents from the show: Katey Segal (Leela), Billy West (Fry, Zoidberg, Professor Farnsworth), John DiMaggio (Bender), and Maurice LaMarche (Kiff, Morbo). A small Futurama comic book was passed around, and the cast did a reading of the book with the characters' voices! It was awesome. They also showed a commercial for the new upcoming series. 4 full-length movies will be released on DVD, and they will also be split up into 16 episodes for viewing on Comedy Central.

For MST3K fans like myself, the Film Crew presentation was awesome. Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy (Tom Servo), and Bill Corbett (Crow) were there and they showed footage from the four upcoming Film Crew episodes on DVD. It was awesome! It was just like watching MST3K, but without the puppets and the silhouettes. Just commentary.

That's it for Saturday. I was unable to see the Family Guy Star Wars episode because the long was way too long. I'll have to wait until it airs on TV.

Day 3: Saturday, July 28th:

On Sunday my wife and I woke up super early before sunrise to go sea fishing at Point Loma for a half day expedition and didn't catch anything. She really enjoys fishing, but I don't. We bought a one day fishing license for her and I went along for moral support. Last time, I got seasick and I had to lie flat on the back of the boat most of the time just to calm down. This time, I came prepared with Dramamine, so I was actually fine on the boat. It really is a waste of money, and the only real fish being caught are the long trips out to sea. For the price we paid for this boring boat trip, we could have had an expensive dinner at a sushi restaurant.

We ate lunch and returned to the Comic Con. We finished up Comic Con and got a few good closeout deals in the last few hours of the con in the dealers room, and hit the San Diego Zoo for a few hours. We bought special passes from AAA, so we got to ride the tram and learned some stuff we wouldn't have learned normally. For example, there is one animal that has oil glands that makes it smell like buttered popcorn. I bet it doesn't taste like popcorn though. It was the end of the day, so we got to see the pandas and there was no waiting in line. Mainly we got to see some lazy animals lounging around and taking naps.

Left: Zzz. Right: Zzz.

Here are some signs I noticed at the zoo:

Left: I just wouldn't call this critter a "lesser" panda to his face. Wouldn't want to hurt his feelings. Right: I sure hope this doesn't mean that there's no such thing as a "flock" of seagulls...

At sundown, it was time to leave the zoo. We finished the day eating broiled swordfish in Little Italy.

The day after SDCC, Monday, July 29th:

On Monday morning, it was time to head home. We hit all the Japanese shops along Convoy St and stocked up on some food we can't get much of in Phoenix. There is a Daiso store opening!

I bought a lot of neat stuff and I felt good about it. Here's my final loot from the Con:

Imaged here beginning from top left going across in rows:
SDCC07Excl. Bugs Bunny figure; SDCC07Excl. Rei figure; Chewie, Vader, and Yoda plush dolls; Haro plush; Blue Destiny Gundam model; Yoda backpack.

SDCC06Excl. Bunny Girl Bome figure; Murasame model; 08th MS Team Gundam model; Galaxy Express 999 model; Macross dipsplay stands for Valkyrie models (never knew these existed!); SDCC07 Star Wars T-shirt.

Robotech Max Valkyrie super poseable figure; Revoltech figures of Megatron, Optimus Prime, and Saber Alter; Tick comics.

Tick bumper sticker; Sam&Max sketch book "The Effigy Mound" signed by Steve Purcell; Madox-01 DVD; Caveman Robot comic books; Yawara sample DVD of episodes 1-4 (from AnimEigo's booth).

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