Comic-Con International used to be a small comic books expo in San Diego. Then it grew. And grew. Now, about 130,000 people come from around the globe to check out not only the hottest comics, but the hottest action movies, anime, video games, anime, toys and more! We sent manga expert Deb Aoki to report on the panels, the booths and of course, the devoted fans for all four days of Comic-Con International! From the infamous stabbing at a panel discussion (see Saturday’s report!) to the wide range of manga comics on display, Deb captured it all…
Traditionally, the weekend is when San Diego Comic-Con is at its craziest. Saturday is when Hollywood usually trots out its biggest marquee names from movies and TV, and Sunday is “kids day” at the show, when events are geared for the next generation of comics fans.
This year there were panels spotlighting TV shows like Venture Brothers and Futurama, sci-fi authors like Ray Bradbury, international comics creators like Milo Manara (Italy), Emile Bravo (France), Jillian Tamaki (Canada) and even rock stars who create comics on the side, like Gerard Way from My Chemical Romance. But the most buzzed about panels were held in now infamous Hall H, the 6,000-seat venue for the most popular, star-studded movie previews and celebrity Q & A’s.
Unfortunately for one fan, it’s also a place where excitement runs high and tempers can flare up.
On Saturday afternoon in Hall H, after the Universal Studios screenings of Cowboys and Aliens, a new film directed by John Favreau (Iron Man), a fan, apparently enraged that another man wouldn’t change seats, stabbed him in the eye with a pen. This resulted in one man leaving Hall H in a stretcher, escorted by paramedics while the other man left in handcuffs, escorted by police officers. Neither of them got seats.
I wasn’t there when it happened, but news of this event spread quickly through the convention center, via Twitter, text messages, phone calls and word of mouth. Several other bloggers were on hand at the scene, and posted these eyewitness reports.
Aside from horrifying almost everyone who witnessed or heard about the incident, this rare flash of violence at Comic-Con delayed the panel by an hour, which pushed behind almost everything after it. This included the Marvel Studios panel, where previews of the new Thor and Captain America films were scheduled to be screened.
Meanwhile, down on the exhibit hall floor at the massive Marvel Comics booth, fans — costumed and otherwise — took turns posing on a giant golden throne straight from scenes from the Thor movie.
In fact, cosplay was in full effect on both Saturday and Sunday. Fans roamed the halls in costume to pay tribute to almost every TV show, movie, comic book, video game, anime, manga or random Internet in-joke imaginable. I saw entire families dressed like characters from Star Wars, curvaceous femmes in skimpy and skin-tight costumes, Gothic Lolitas, steampunk couples, vampires, pirates, elves. I even saw a guy dressed up as as a younger version of Marvel Comics creator Stan Lee, who was in attendance at the show signing copies of his new manga series, Ultimo.
Speaking of Ultimo, Japanese manga artist and co-creator of Ultimo Hiroyuki Takei made a surprise appearance at the Shonen Jump panel on Saturday. This was Takei’s second visit to Comic-Con and he was delighted to meet two cosplayers dressed as Ultimo and Vice, the two robot boys representing “ultimate good” and “ultimate evil” that he co-created with Lee.
Also visiting from Japan was comics creator Felipe Smith, an American now living and working in Tokyo as a manga artist. His most recent series Peepo Choo was serialized in Kodansha’s Morning Two magazine.
Italian comics legend Milo Manara made a panel appearances, signed autographs and drew a number of sexy femmes fans at the Marvel and Dark Horse Comics booths.
Even celebrities who weren’t on panels were spotted around the exhibit hall, checking out its many wonders. I heard that punk rock icon Henry Rollins was there! Maybe he wanted to get a laugh out of Henry and Glenn Forever, an indie comic parody that imagines Rollins and musician Glenn Danzig as great friends who live next door to their satanic neighbors Darryl Hall and John Oates.
On the other side of the exhibit hall, fans got to pose inside a life-sized Star Wars action figure package, gawk at the sleek motorcycle from Tron: Legacy and marvel at large statues of Toy Story characters made entirely of Lego blocks.
As fans left the exhibit hall for the last time on Sunday afternoon, some encountered a woman in a skunk suit and a real, live goat holding signs that said: “Captain America loves San Diego, don’t goat to Anaheim!” and “Anaheim stinks! Don’t goat there… Keep Comic-Con in San Diego.”
Why the protest? Well, after 40 years in this Southern California locale, Comic-Con may be switching locales. As it is, Comic-Con attracts almost 130,000 attendees and generates over $160 million in revenue for the city, but there’s been talk that San Diego Convention Center is too small to hold all the goers comfortably. Los Angeles, Anaheim and Las Vegas visitors’ bureaus have been actively courting Comic-Con International.
Comic-Con’s management will announce their decision for next year’s show sometime in the coming weeks. Will Comic-Con remain in San Diego or “goat” elsewhere? No one knows, but the answer to this comics cliffhanger may be revealed soon. and when it does, it will likely be the biggest story to come out of this year’s Comic-Con.