AUGUST 30, 2010
San Diego Comic Con
Last month some of the “War of the Worlds: Goliath” team (Leon Tan, Gavin Yap, my lovely wife Lisa, and myself) made the journey to the immense beast of creativity, art and commerce known as the San Diego Comic Con. We were there once more to represent and promote our movie and to touch base with the friends, fans and contacts we made last year.
As always, it was great seeing everyone again. Working out of the Heavy Metal magazine booth was a definite reunion of friends and co-creators. Seeing Kevin Eastman, his lady Pam, her family, and their kids Shane and Peter is always a treat. And spending time with the rest of the Heavy Metal magazine family like the talented Lorenzo Sperlonga, his fiancée Tanya (congratulations, kids!), the power behind the Heavy Metal magazine throne, Howard Jurosky, Hal Hefner, the “Fluorescent Black” gang, the “Last Man Standing” crew of Daniel and Stephan, and of course, the “Queen of All Media” herself, Julie Strain (who despite the grand title, is as down-to-Earth and sweet as always), was all a highlight of the convention for us.
A personal treat for me was getting to meet the insanely talented artist behind “Requiem” and “Sha”, Olivier Ledroit and his beautiful wife, Morganne, and their publisher, Jacques Collin. Ledroit is one of the top artists currently working in the French comics industry. His massive “Art of” book shows the full scale of his talent and portfolio. The mass and intensity of his vision is almost overwhelming. He’s someone that I (and Tripod) definitely want to work with in the future.
And he’s a good guy. A few days after the Con, Olivier, Morganne and Jacques came out to our place in Venice Beach for a lovely dinner out with Lisa and I. A great post-Con time and one we will repeat in L.A. or France, or maybe even Malaysia. It’s personal contacts with artists and creatives like them that make the Con worthwhile.
Some other members of our “War of the Worlds: Goliath” creative team were also at the con. Storyboard artist’s Rick Hoberg, Robert (“Lopaka”) Souza, Brad Rader, and character designer Sandra Khoo (all the way from Malaysia) stopped by the booth to say “hi” and catch up. My friend and writing collaborator Jeff Conner, came by with his son Desmond.
We also saw many of last year’s “War of the Worlds: Goliath” fans and friends—Bluesman, David Ledesema, Chris Eaton, Kevin Riepl, Alar Mik, and many, many others. Naturally, their big question was “when?” When will the movie be finished and out in the wide world? Don’t worry folks, we’re deep in the production trenches now and aiming for the end of this year or early next year! Promise!
And we got great response on the new footage we premiered on the screen at the Heavy Metal magazine booth and later on our “War of the Worlds: Goliath” panel on Saturday night. I was joined by our executive producer, “Turtle Man” and Heavy Metal magazine master, Kevin Eastman, my co-producer, Leon Tan, voice director Gavin Yap and storyboard artist, Robert Souza.
Attendance was good and the audience seemed to enjoy the presentation and new footage. They also asked some very intelligent and perceptive questions about the film, its actors and process. And we held a raffle at the end and gave away some very cool “War of the Worlds: Goliath” posters.
Thanks for the support people! Next year we’ll screen the full movie and do a follow-up panel with our crew.
“War of the Worlds: Goliath” and Heavy Metal aside, the convention was as overwhelming as always. A two block long hall filled to the brim with booths, pavilions, artist’s tables, and about 150,000 fans is an experience that’s hard to describe.
The first thing that I saw when Lisa and I walked into the hall on the first day was the full sized Odin Throne set from the upcoming “Thor” movie. By Hela, it was perfect! A big budget Hollywood realization of Jack Kirby’s vision of Asgard! I hope that Jack Kirby is looking down from his pad in Valhalla and seeing his vision brought to magnificent life (I could also hope that Stan Lee finally mans up and passes on some of his residuals to the Kirby family, but that’s just a fantasy I suppose).
Giant sets, mega-booths, giant screens, massive props and models, thousands of fans in costume equal sound and fury to the max. It’s literally overwhelming. I’ve learned to just “go with the flow” and let the currents of the crowd push me through the chaos.
But a few other “bits” stand out in my memory. The ubiquitous cardboard Galactus “crowns” that thousands of fans were wearing. The man in a homemade Silver Surfer costume. Dr. Grordbort’s beautiful ray guns and steampunk weaponry. The many, many “zombie” walks out on the local streets. The sheer mass of inventive fan costumes. The Green Hornet Mobile cruising the Gaslamp. The stunning Weta displays.
And the scene outside the convention center was even more surreal.
San Diego’s Victorian era “Gaslamp” district is a two square mile complex of turn of the century architecture packed to the frakking brim with bars, coffee shops, restaurants and night clubs. For most nights of the week in the summer it is also the center of one of the most intense club and bar scenes that I have experienced outside of Seoul or Tokyo.
When you add into the mix 150,000 comics fans, many in full costume, you get a brew that is literally impossible to describe. But fun! Really, the scene at night outside the convention center is as fascinating as anything inside. Only at the SDCC!
A personal note about the Con. I’ve been attending the San Diego Comic Con on and off since the early days in the mid-70’s (yes, I am THAT old) and for me, more then any of the “power and the glory” of product placement and celebrity talent, it’s always been about the people.
My strongest and fondest memories of the SDCC are about the friends that I’ve met there and got to spend time with. Befriending Bob and Cecile Cabeen and watching their kids grow every year, Meeting long-term idols like Rick Griffin, Kliban, Wally Wood, Jim Steranko and getting to know them a bit as people. Drawing on the walls of the El Cortez with Dan O’Neil and the 70’s Underground gang. Staying up all night and wandering the streets of the Gaslamp district with Jack Kirby. Doing the “Time Warp” with a crowd of crazed fans to the music of “Seduction of the Innocent”. Listening to Carl Macek tell UFO encounter stories (we MISS you Carl!). My wife Lisa and I, Hanging with Mary Fleener and Terry Stroud (and hitting the surf with them after the Con) Spending time with old and new friends like Jim Mitchell, Bob Burden, Judy Johnson, Sandy Cohen and many, many others.
A good example at this year’s con was Friday night’s dinner with Todd McFarlane and a couple of members of his key team (Jen Cassidy and Carmen Bryant) and Todd’s daughter Cyan. Leon and I did talk some business with Todd and his team, but much of the dinner was spent simply catching up. It’s been 10 years since we did “Do the Evolution” for Pearl Jam together and a lot has happened over the last decade.
Good spending some time with you Todd and thanks for the terrific dinner.
All of these people and more are the real heart and soul of the Comic Con for me. The Con has grown and changed far beyond the “good old days”, for better and (possibly) worse, but as long as the people remain, it will always be a special experience and a good time.
And last, but not least—