Monday, July 24, 2006

San Diego a-go-go

The San Diego Comic-Con is over for another year, bringing with it a rash of announcements about new comics projects and fresh creative teams for ongoing titles. Like soap operas, superhero comics are all about the illusion of change. Some characters come and go, but the essentials always remain the same. You can burn down the Queen Vic in EastEnders, but somebody will soon refurbish and reopen. You can have Spiderman reveal his true identity, but that won't stop him fighting crime or slinging webs for long.

San Diego has become a significant event in the media calendar, particularly for certain kinds of TV shows and films. Unsurprisingly, movies based on comics are a big focus at the convention. This dates back 30 years, to when the first Star Wars film got its launch in front of 100 people at San Diego. Variety estimates at least 1000,000 people were at this year's convention. [That's right, Variety reports on the San Diego Comic-Con. My, how times change.] Spiderman 3 only finished shooting a fortnight ago, but director Sam Raimi and most of the cast were in San Diego over the weekend to pump up interest in the film [it doesn't open until Summer 2007]. They even screened several minutes of raw footage, complete with visible wires and green screen. But it's not just about the obvious crossover. Geek favourite Snakes On a Plane was previewed for the crowds, with star Samuel L Jackson hosting a screening of 10 minutes from the much-anticipated creature feature.

San Diego has now gotten so big it's close to becoming unmanageable. Director Kevin Smith missed the panel for his own film, Clerks II, because he was stuck in traffic trying to get to the convention centre. Even if he'd gotten out of the car, I doubt he'd ever have made it through the throng in time. On the two occasions I've attended the convention, it took an hour to get from one end of the main hall to the other. But that was back in '97 and '99, when the event and venue were a fraction of their current size. Grud only knows what it must be like now.

For a flavour of what the con is like, I recommend a column written by Augie De Blieck Jr on the Comic Book Resources website [see it here]. Above is a picture borrowed from that column, which neatly wraps up a little Star Wars thread that's been running in this blog of late for no apparent reason.

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