San Diego Comic Con 2011: Day One

Thursday was a good day. No, scratch that. Thursday was a very good day. Thursday was that rare kind of good that borders on nerd good that spills into an awesomely, wonderfully, fantastically, magically, John Barrowman-y good. It was a day that began with Seth Green and ended with Torchwood and I am so full of geek pleasure that I’m fit to burst. And if I weren’t so gorram exhausted I just might.

On Thursday morning I woke up at 4am to drive down to San Diego for Comic-Con. I hate 4am. I especially hate 4am when I went to bed at 1:30am. 4am can die in a fire. But 4am eventually became 9:30am and my best friend and I found ourselves standing at the end of the longest line in the history of the universe that somehow managed to grow twice as long a few minutes later.

By 11:30 we plopped down into that special brand of seating torture only found in convention halls, those chairs that manage to be both cushioned and harder than concrete, and caught the last half of the panel “Oh, You Sexy Geek!” with Katrina Hill, Bonnie Burton, Adrianne Curry, Clare Grant, Kiala Kazebee, Clare Kramer, Jill Pantozzi, Jennifer K. Stuller, and Chris Gore. To be frank, we were only there to catch the next panel so I could geek out on Brandon Sanderson, but this one turned out to be pretty interesting. At one point Seth Green popped up in the audience and engaged in a fascinating debate about the merits of such a panel and whether such discussions perpetrated stereotypes of geek girls by marking them as dissimilar from “regular” girls, or if they helped us learn to recognize that it’s perfectly fine to be a geek and anyone who doesn’t think so can piss off. (I don’t have a horse in the race either way—I do what I want regardless of others’ opinions of me—but it does irk me to no end to be continuously downgraded to “girl” just because it sounds cute.)

Next up was “Putting the ‘Epic’ in Epic Fantasy: Writing to Excite!” with George R. R. Martin, Brandon Sanderson, Patrick Rothfuss, Christopher Paolini, Peter Orullian, K. J. Taylor, Kevin J. Anderson, and Michael Spradlin. Now, I enjoy Martin and Co. as much as the next person, but my golden ring of the panel was Sanderson. I am waiting for The Alloy of Law with baited breath, and for the second installment of The Stormlight Archive with even baited-ier breath, so I was pretty much in biblio-nerd heaven. This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to hear masters talk shop. They discussed their different writing styles (outlines versus discovery), story craft (worldbuilding versus character studies), and what they consider to be the “epic” part of epic fantasy.  Martin, in all sagacity, said, “I don’t think epic scale should be a requirement of epic fantasy.”  They also touched on what they would like to see more of in the next generations of epic fantasy: better female characters. That’s something we can all get behind.

After lunch we made our way to the Hilton for the Archer panel, but got waylaid by something awful called Effin With Tonight. Patrick Warburton, Jim Shaughnessy, Jerrod Cardwell, Rachel Butera, Jay Lamont, and Joe Cipriano. I wish I had something clever to say about this new web series, but I just can’t summon the energy to care enough to formulate a zinger. The show is full of the kind of questionable jokes that are offensive less by virtue (or lack thereof) of their content than by the laziness by which they were created. After watching a clip reel my friend turned to me and said, “I want to unsee everything I just saw.” And this, dear reader, is why she and I are friends. Also, one of the panelists was drinking a bottle of Jack Daniels while wearing the dirtiest hat this side of Hazzard County. So there’s that.

2011 San Diego Comic Con Archer panel

Just when all hope seemed lost, the panel finally ended and the world was joyous and peaceful once more. And then Archer premiered and things got even better. Not only were we graced with the first of a three-episode arc set to premiere in September (the full third season doesn’t air until December), but afterward Adam Reed, H. Jon Benjamin, Aisha Tyler, Chris Parnell, Judy Greer, Amber Nash, and George Coe (moderated by Todd VanDerWerff!) did a Q&A. You cannot fully comprehend what a spectacular experience it is to hear Benjamin say “Danger zone” in person, though it is almost as charming as Tyler’s mangled script reading, “Your veal is as smooth as a vulva cutlet.” If you have never seen Archer then I’m not sure we can be friends. If you have seen Archer and didn’t like it, then not only are we no longer friends, but you probably know that I’m sending Sterling Archer to have a “chat” with you.

Then it was back to the main convention center for the final two acts of the evening. Garth Ennis premiered a short version of his new film Stitched, which is also soon to be a graphic novel series. The short was rough and very clearly indie (in both the best and worst senses of the concept), but it was also very clearly a labor of love by all involved, and that has its own infectious charm. Once again Ennis is tackling the not-quite-dead in a twisty, depraved, and disconcerting way, but what made this event so unique is that Stitched is his directorial debut. I’ll leave the critiquing to film critics, but I will say that I’m very curious to see what happens next in this new phase of the war in Afghanistan with unkillable zombie war machines, even if the film format isn’t of the highest quality.

And last but not least was a screening of the third episode of the new season of Torchwood. Or at least that’s what it was supposed to be. Instead what we got was a screening of the new episode introduced by John Barrowman, Eve Myles, Mekhi Phifer, Bill Pullman, Alexa Havins, and Jane Espenson (and Justin Bruening as a hangers-on). And that’s when my heart stopped beating and I became one of the Soulless; I even have the nifty mask to prove it. Someone needs to make it a law that John Barrowman must always have wine before doing public appearances because he was ON FIRE. I have never seen a man flirt with 700 people in one fell swoop and make each quip seem directed specifically at you, yes you, the curly-haired chick over there in the Kowloon Walled City t-shirt. Something about petting pussies and his Captain America t-shirt and who knows what else but JOHN BARROWMAN was there and I can go home tomorrow because nothing else this week can top that. Oh, and Mom, I got to see Babe and Jamie IRL and you didn’t so nyah nyah nyah!

To see pictures from Comic-Con, click here. First day down, three more to go….

Alex Brown is an archivist by passion, reference librarian by profession, writer by moonlight, and all around geek who watches entirely too much TV. She is prone to collecting out-of-print copies of books by Evelyn Waugh, Jane Austen, and Douglas Adams, probably knows far too much about pop culture than is healthy, and thinks her rats Hywel and Odd are the cutest things ever to exist in the whole of eternity. You can follow her on Twitter if you dare…


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