Here’s another panel I hit in Thursday. Or rather, one that hit me.
Ode to Nerds
This panel was an absolute revelation to me. It was on my radar, but to be honest I only went for two reasons.
First, I needed someplace to sit while I ate lunch. Second, Anthony couldn’t make it and he had been geeking out hard to see one of the panelists, Chuck Palahniuk. (Weird that his name doesn’t trigger spell check – there must be a “Fight Club” fan in charge of Microsoft’s dictionary).
The description in the official guide didn’t give me much to go on: “Everyone knows that published science fiction authors reign on the Geek Heirarchy charts, because the Internet tells us so! Join panelists as the genre’s top names in publishing celebrate all things geeky and nerdy, with Charlie Jane Anders of io9.com. Geek out with Cory Doctorow (The Rapture of the Nerds),Chuck Palahniuk (Doomed), Patrick Rothfuss (The Name of the Wind), Austin Grossman (You), D. C. Pierson (Crap Kingdom), and Robyn Schneider (The Beginning of Everything). “
The first thing that hit me was what a tremendous job Charlie Jane Anders did moderating this panel of authors. I’ve just recently come to read, appreciate, and ultimately cherish the job that io9 does covering culture. So, I recognized the web site in the programming guide, but had no idea who Charlie Jane Anders was.
I’ll tell you what. Charlie was great. She was enthusiastic and knowledgeable – a great combination for a moderator. I’d never read anything from any of the authors on this panel before, except for “Haunted” by Chuck Palahniuk. Now? I’ve got a long list of these titles on my Amazon wish list.
The panel opened with a “Geek Hierarchy Chart” and launched into a discussion of people and their passions. The whole conversation made me fall in love with Comic Con all over again – there’s not just acceptance of “difference”, but celebration of it.
The best thing about this panel was the energy and encouragement these authors had for other writers. The panelists were, to a person, passionate about authors staying true to themselves and doing what they love.
There was a hilarious discussion that started from a comment about 50 Shades of Gray that I won’t repeat here because I just showed my mother how to subscribe to this blog. I’ll wait a few weeks until she loses her login and forgets about it to post the details.
My favorite comment of the panel came from Robyn Schneider. She talked about all the different kinds of fandom present under the nerd umbrella. She said, “They’re all pockets on the same pair of nerd jeans.” Then she immediately seemed a bit embarrassed that she said “nerd jeans”. Don’t worry Robyn, we get you.
The panel was very inspirational. I appreciated the discussion regarding publishing. Specifically, there was a discussion that, too often, people measure the worth of a writer by whether they’ve been published or had a movie made. I don’t want to spoil the metaphor by misquoting it here. And since this panel caught me off guard, I didn’t have my pen and notebook handy to capture specifics. Suffice it to say, there was an acknowledgement that many writers are hobbyists and there are greater aspirations than being published.
I will, however, be keeping my eye on io9, Charlie Jane Anders, and the authors on this panel. And next year, I’ll be specifically seeking out more programming like this at SDCC.
If a video of this panel exists, I’d love to see it and provide a link. I’ve still only got six skill points in Google, though, so I haven’t been able to find it on my own.
In the meantime, you can watch Robyn Schneider introduce her appearance at Comic Con on Youtube. It’s fun and will give you an idea of the geek enthusiasm that abounded.
Holy smokes… These recaps are a lot longer than I thought they would be. Here’s the first half of Thursday:
So. Thursday at Comic Con. After a late night on Wednesday, it was up and at it bright and early. I showed up at about 5:00 or so to get into a line. Not a specific line. Just a line.
Like I said before, Comic Con is not something you do, it’s something that happens to you.
I met the first of many, many, many wonderful people in that line – Maria. Maria ended up being something like my line wife for the weekend. At SDCC, you wait in a lot of lines for a long time, especially early in the morning. A line buddy has been a must for me in past cons. We were both planning for the legendary “Hall H” line Friday morning and agreed that whoever showed up first would hold a spot in line for the other one.
There are many unwritten rules of Comic Con. Line protocol is chief among them. I could easily do a thousand words on the unwritten rules of lines at Comic Con, but then they wouldn’t be unwritten any longer.
Maria and I chatted, we talked to our line mates, and then eventually I went to get coffee/hot chocolate for all of us when Starbucks at the Hilton opened at 7:00 am.
I was torn between two panels – “Getting into Comics the Marvel Way” and the “35th Anniversary BSG” panel. The Battlestar Galactica panel in 2011 was awesome, so I decided to hit up the BSG panel again. Besides, I knew that’s where Justin and Michelle were headed anyway. Since the doors open at like 8:00 for people to get into specific lines for 10:00 panels, knowing if there’s anyone in line to talk to can be an important guiding factor.
BSG 35th Anniversary Panel
Richard Hatch always hosts the Battlestar Galactica panel. He also always looks like he just sprinted across the entire convention center and tumbled through the curtain just in the nick of time. But I kid, Richard. Mr. Hatch is one of the best people you can find at Comic Con each year. He’s almost always up in the autograph pavilion, and I’ve found that, as long as there’s not a big line, he’s usually willing to chat for a while about Battlestar and everything else he has going on.
Joining Richard on the panel were a bunch of people who worked on various recent incarnations of BSG and Caprica. The “surprise guest” was none other than Academy Award nominee Edward James Olmos. Kevin Grazier, science advisor/consultant for many sci-fi shows was also a treat.
Two big reveals stand out to me. When asked about things in the show that caused controversy, Kevin Grazier related that he got angry mail from viewers asking how, as a science advisor, he could let pass an ending that ultimately advocated a theistic universe. In response, he said that the theistic viewpoint was something the creative team agreed on at the outset as governing rule for the fictional universe of BSG and, thus, the viewpoint of the series was completely consistent with the rules they set out at the beginning.
Also, for BSG fans, it was said that the conclusion of the first “So Say We All” speech that Adama gives was a creation of Edward James Olmos. The reactions of the actors are genuine as they slowly join him in the chant since it was the first time they heard it and weren’t sure what to do.
They ended with a trailer for Richard Hatch’s new web series “Cowboys and Engines”, which I include here not as an advocate of the quality of the series, but as a favor to Mr. Hatch for being such a nice guy throughout the weekend.
The next panel I saw was “The Blacklist”, a new program set to air Monday nights on NBC in the fall. The Official Comic Con program calls it “highly anticipated”. I don’t know whether I believe that.
I mostly went out of curiosity, since the show’s star, James Spader was in attendance. I’ve always thought he was an interesting actor who has gradually come to play a caricature over time. Based on his comments at the panel, I can tell you that’s because he loves that caricature so much, he’s chosen to live it in public.
The premise of the show is intriguing. Twenty years after a government agent goes rogue, he inexplicably returns and surrenders himself. He’s got a lot of intelligence on terrorist operations and appears to want to cooperate with the authorities who, of course, don’t trust him.
There’s a weird Silence of the Lambs homage in the show. I was going to call it an “undertone”, but it’s right there on the surface. They lock him up and he refuses to speak to anyone except a young woman who is new to the agency. The first scene where they meet is visually lifted from the Silence of the Lambs.
The show had a few unexpected moments, but the pilot was still ultra-cliché. Lots of questions, not a lot of answers. How is Spader’s character related to the young agent? Can she trust her husband? What is his agenda? Will the show be on the air long enough to answer any of these questions?
Megan Boone did a great job in the pilot, and I hope this helps her career take off. I just don’t know that network TV can support another show like this. I’ll wait until the first season ends before watching the whole series, just in case it gets cancelled mid-season.
So, there’s more SDCC highlights to come. Plus polls and more. Stay tuned…
Even though I’m only through Wednesday night with the recaps, I thought I’d give you all the photos of costumes from Friday.
Come on, people. I read the site stats. I know why you’re here. Unlike other sites, though, I’m not holding out the photos to make you read my posts if you don’t want to.
Wednesday was just a travel day for me. Flew in around 1:00. Got picked up by Anthony Fankhauser, my movie producer friend and roommate for the weekend.
Anthony was late to the airport, foreshadowing our roommate relationship for the whole weekend.
I had planned to meet up with my SDCC friends, Justin Bolger and Michelle Gilness, a couple of cool people that I met at SDCC 2011. We haven’t met in person since then, but such are the ways of SDCC. It unites people across space and time in a magical vortex of insanity and fun.
Awesome Coincidence #1 of SDCC 2013: when I called Justin, he and Michelle were already at the hotel where I was staying – the Town and Country Resort. Why were they already there? Apparently four-day badge pickup was available on Wednesday night. And of all the places to have early pick-up, it just happened to be at my hotel, five miles away from the Convention Center.
So, instead of waiting to get in a huge line Thursday morning and waiting to pick up my badge, delaying my Comic Con adventure, I was able to pick it up as soon as I arrived.
I showed up. The people I was planning on meeting were already at my hotel. My badge was ready and waiting. All completely unplanned by me? Score one for the good guys.
Wednesday night was spent chilling out in San Diego’s Gaslamp district.
Now, here’s the deal. Even if you’re not one of the lucky people able to put your hands on a Comic Con badge? If you’re a pop culture fan, just go anyway. The whole Gaslamp is on fire with people in for Comic Con, and there’s always something cool happening.
Our Wednesday consisted of dinner at The Yard House, followed by two parties of wildly varying quality.
The SDCC Blog held “Enchantment Under the SDCC – The SDCCBlog & Outside Comic-Con Fan Event!” (10 internet points for the reference). The title is quoted from their web site, and I left the exclamation point because it assuredly deserves at least one, if not more.
First off, if you’re even thinking about attending Comic Con, you should follow their blog. Also, if you want recaps of the coolest panels, swag, and costumes, they are also the hub for you. I know that Casual Comics Guy is pretty alright, but SDCCBlog is the beginning and end of my preparation and debrief for SDCC.
They also throw a pretty wicked party. I walked away with a pretty sweet T-shirt that also served as a useful tool for remembering where and how to check Twitter for updates on line status. Got some free Pop Chips, too.
We then walked over to another nearby party and almost immediately walked back. The “Super Hero Party” at the Side Bar was deadly. Side Bar : Geeks::Snakes: Indiana Jones
There was no one there for a while. Then some “bros” showed up. Then, even though there were only about seven people there, including four people in my party, they started turning people away at the door for “dress code”. At Comic Con. Dress Code? At Comic Con? What? Here’s my advice. Do not ever go to the Side Bar.
(Did I mention that the Side Bar is terrible?)
We went back to Enchantment Under the SDCC for a bit. They raffled off some cool geek gear, a couple of one-day passes to Comic Con, and the number on most desired item among the crowd gathered… a “front of line” pass for the Hasbro booth.
Are you kidding me? For those who have never been to Comic Con, the Hasbro booth has a ton of exclusive merchandise. You have to get in a line outside at 4 a.m. in order to hope to get a spot in their line inside that lets you have a chance to stand in another line for an hour, hoping that whatever you want isn’t sold out by the time you’re at the register. (By the way, the Boba Fett Black Series sold out the first day)
So, after that, we were more careful. We wandered over to McFadden’s and spent the rest of the night at “Nerdioke”, the best and most fun karaoke party I’ve ever attended. As we walked in, we heard a demonic voice growling Green Jelly’s “Little Pig, Little Pig”. When we hit the main floor, we were shocked to see a slight, short girl bellowing with rage into the microphone to enthusiastic applause.
It was like a normal karaoke bar, only good. And the highlight of the night was when this guy took to the stage – he must’ve been a Broadway or Las Vegas performer – and blew the crowd away. His voice was spectacular and he had the whole song down pat. Emotion… passion… He had it all. By the end, the crowd was following him around the floor and dancing arm in arm. To wild cheers and bouncing, he led the cheering throng in a dance of glee around the whole bar.
The song? “Be Our Guest” from Beauty and the Beast.
And that, my friends, is why Comic Con is the BEST.