An Elvis impersonator in a "Star Wars" storm trooper outfit with a lot of bling (think "This is Elvis" vintage) was about to introduce Superman surrounded by a bevy of Princess Leias in the harem girl outfit. I love Comic-Con. It is
a thrilling and hilarious place to be. The sensibility is completely endearing -- a mastery of arcania with the wicked but not snarky humor, self-deprecating and ironic but always generous and confident and enthusiastic. It is, above all a very, very happy crowd. Even the Klingons were friendly.
"This is the week I live for all year," a woman sitting behind me confided to someone she had just met. We were waiting for a panel discussion of the forthcoming "Red Sonja" movie that should erase all memory of the 80's version. "No mullet!" promised star Rose McGowan, in an emerald green strapless Dolce and Gabbana dress designed to make fanboys' knees melt away. Also on the panel, "producer" Robert Rodriguez (no longer a DGA member so not the director of record) and director Douglas Aarniokoski. Rodriguez re-enacted the spit-take he did when McGowan told him she had been sent the script. Robert E. Howard had been one of his favorite since he bought his first Conan book at age 10.
I also went to a panel about the new "Race to Witch Mountain" with Duane "The Rock" Johnson and director Andy Fickman who, like may who appear here, was happy to authenticate his fanboy cred -- "This is my 10th Comic-Con and the first one where I didn't have to buy a ticket. I was here when I was a kid and spent $300 for what I was assured was a mint copy of the Roger Corman 'Fantastic Four' but when I got it home it was Dolph Lundgren's 'The Punisher!'" Needless to say, with this crowd, this was a line that killed.
I attended a panel on the forthcoming "Quantum Quest," a NASA-affiliated sci-fi movie for kids with the voices of everyone from old and new Captains Kirk William Shatner and Chris Pine to Neil Armstrong, Mark Hamill, and the guy who does the voice of SpongeBob (and boy, was he a hit). And long-time Comic-Con enthusiast Kevin Smith moderated (if that term can be used) a Spike TV panel on women in action/horror/fantasy/sci-fi with Jamie King (whose mother named her aftert the Bionic Woman), Lucy Lawless, "Terminator" producer Gale Ann Hurd, and comic book artist Pia Guerra.
At any given moment there are a dozen different panel discussions with everyone from "the world's greatest zombie expert" to comic book legends, scholars, screenwriters, performers, and just plain cool and interesting people. I interviewed the writer of the animated film "Igor" starring Jon Cusack. a panel discussion with Joss Whedon, Eliza Dushku, and Tahmo Penikett about their new television series, "Dollhouse," a panel discussion with the MAD Magazine guys from the 1960's, a presentation by cartoonist Lynda Berry about creativity that was hilarious and inspiring, a scholarly presentation about meaning and the canon and all of that meta meta meta stuff, and the incorrigible Ralph Bakshi talking about his career of affronting and confronting pretty much everyone (a popular theme with this crowd). One of the highlights, as always, was the annual "Masquerade," a wildly raucous costume competition. And one of my favorite moments was the "Quick Draw," with MAD's Sergio Aragones, Pulitzer Prize-winner Mike Peters, and Scott Shaw of Hanna Barbera responding to a nonstop stream of devilish challenges, overhead projectors showing everything they were doing on huge screens. Their responses were instant, wicked, outrageous, and very, very funny. Just like the whole event.