Overall, the New York Comic Con was fun this year. Really, for me, when a giant room full of comic books is involved, you can’t go too far wrong. Yet even though this year’s con was a huge improvement over two years ago … and even though it was a heck of a lot nicer to schlep into Manhattan at the start of Spring rather than the tail end of Winter … I have to admit, I preferred last year’s con to this one, for a variety of reasons.
Allow me to elaborate …
Friday was committed to exploring the show floor, and that part was great. The planners did a great job of laying things out better than the previous years — publishers, dealers, small press, artists, autographs, and gaming were all on one floor, each in their own well-defined areas. There was even a podcasting section. The hall was as big as the first two years combined, the aisles were wide enough to keep things moving, even on Saturday, and the vast majority of the booths did actually seem to be comics-related, which was nice. The floor experience was so good, in fact, that we didn’t even bother to attend any of the Friday panels (which frankly didn’t look all that interesting anyway).
Saturday was less satisfying. Most of the panels worth attending were scheduled for Saturday, so we planned to spend most of our time doing nothing but that. Sadly, all the effort the planners put into improving the show floor experience cut into effort that should have been spent better organizing the panel. Every session we attended started late and ran late, they were scheduled one right on top of the other with no breathing space, and the lines to get in were long and badly organized by the staff. As an example, for some baffling reason, they stuffed Stan Lee — arguably the Father of Modern Comics — into a room about one-third the size it should have been, so that people were standing shoulder to shoulder in the back of the room, and despite it clearly being a press event (they actually handed out a press release), no special consideration was made for press seating.
Stan Lee and Virgin revealed that they’re partnering to create a new superhero universe for Virgin Comics that they claim will be unique, groundbreaking stuff. But with no artists or writers identified yet, one has to take this with a grain of salt. I love Stan, and give him full props for everything he’s done — but he’s an old dude now, and freely admits that he doesn’t read many new comics. So while I’m sure he has great ideas, he’ll need to align himself with the right creative minds to make sure these new comics can stand up to what 21st audiences are expecting. During the rest of the panel (what little we heard before we had leave early to catch the next one), Stan did his usual great job of tooting his own horn while somehow managing to sound humble, classy, and free-spirited.
As for the Battlestar Galactica panel, view the entire panel here for details about what was revealed. What was mildly frustrating to me is that getting home late from the con on Friday, and getting up early for it on Saturday morning, I didn’t have a chance to watch Friday night’s episode before the panel. So I pretty much got spoiled, and I have a feeling half the audience was probably in the same boat as me. But oh well. My only other impressions were that in person, Michael Hogan (Tigh) seems much nicer, Michael Trucco (Anders) seems much funnier, and Rekha Sharma (Tory) seems much prettier … and geekier. It was also interesting to learn (from Hogan) that the “So say we all!!!” moment from the mini-series was improvised by both Edward James Olmos and the rest of the cast.
Before the BSG panel, some Sci-Fi Channel dude announced that their experiment with Virgin Comics, a comic book called “The Stranded,” has been green lit for a TV pilot — which apparently was the intention all along. Following this same creative path, he announced that a new comics title would be starting soon, which he described as, “The Justice League meets Desperate Housewives,” which would tell the story of a group of superheroes living in a gated community … or something like that. The working title is “Superbia,” and presumably if the comic does well, it will also get a TV pilot. Which is an interesting business model to me.
The LucasFilms panel was moderated by some goofy corporate dude who thought he was a lot funnier than he really was, but he really managed to pack a lot of content into his hour: 1) A preview of the upcoming Indiana Jones movie; 2) a preview of the Lego Indiana Jones video game, which you know I’ll be buying; 3) a preview of the upcoming “Star Wars: The Force Unleashed” game, which looks off the hook awesome; 4) previews and interviews about the upcoming “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” CGI animated TV show; and 5) a great interview with Seth Green & Matt Seinrich, who discussed how “Robot Chicken” got started, and talked up the pending release of the “Robot Chicken Star Wars” DVD.
The last panel we tried to attend that day was a preview of the upcoming Kevin Smith movie “Zack & Miri Make a Porno” … which turned out to be a complete cluster-frak. The chaotic line situation had gotten ridiculous by this point, and even though the panel started late, the moderator still wasn’t there yet. So rather than sit and watch the four middle-aged troubadours (don’t ask) on stage stare at each other, we decided to cut our losses and bail. In this case, what’s especially disappointing is that Kevin Smith himself wasn’t at the show this year — his moderation of the BSG panel last year was a big highlight, and his own panel was a hoot. Nothing I attended this year came close to the fun of either of those, this non-panel was a prime example of that.
Also notably missing was a single Whedon-related event. This, despite the fact that both Buffy and Angel have canonical comic books out right now, and the new Serenity comic mini-series released just last month. So this seemed like a no-brainer to me. But there wasn’t a single panel, and to my knowledge, not a single Whedon-verse cameo to be found. Smooth move Dark Horse and IDW!
Also no surprise cameos from anybody involved with the Iron Man, Batman, or Hulk movies. Which, on the one hand, I guess kept the convention from being too much of a Hollywood spectacle. But on the other hand, it seems kind of a let-down. It’s nice to see John Cho, Kal Penn, and Neil Patrick Harris there promoting the Harold & Kumar movie, and the BSG actors, and Peter Dinklage … but none of those are comic book movies/shows. Where was Robert Downey Jr. or Terence Howard or Ed Norton or Liv Tyler or Tim Roth [apparently, he was there] or Christian Bale or Maggie Gyllenhaal? Or if those were too pie in the sky to expect, then how about any remotely secondary character from these movies? It seems to me the show handlers did a much better job of getting big names for this show last year.
Next year, they’re moving the show back to February. So we’ll see if that changes anything for the better or worse. Regardless, you know I’ll be there!
EDITED TO ADD:
During the BSG panel, the moderator asked whether or not the actors felt limited by only being able to use one curse word — frak. Sci-Fi Channel programming exec Mark Stern’s response was: “The thing is, they’ve done SO much with that word, it’s almost like, beyond. I just was reading a script the other day that had ‘gagglefrak’ in it. Gagglefrak. Okay, I think you’re done, if you’re at gagglefrak.” We weren’t told what it meant, but the word instantly captured my imagination. My best guess at a meaning would be “clusterfuck” … but the word “clusterfrak” was used in the third episode of the season, so maybe not.
Reprinted from Too Much Free Time