I don't know why I'm surprised, but the line at the convention center is already insane. There are two long lines, one for Hall H and one for everything else. The line for Ballroom 20 is mixed in with the line to get into the convention center, so I can't tell how good my position is, but I'm almost three hours early here, an hour earlier than last year! I should get a good seat this time.
My line buddy is an amusing Asian-British woman from London who is miffed that the line is so far from the convention center, as it means she can't use the con wi-fi. And when she gets closer, it's short-lived since the line snakes around and puts her farther away again. But, finally, we are let in, and we rush to the Ballroom 20 line, and we snag a position inside the convention center, right next to the restrooms, which we then proceed to use.
Rae eventually joins me, and she comes bearing Dexter gifts! A cool bag! The S4 DVDs! A shirt...designed by a fan! A...LaGuerta bobblehead! Okay, they can't all be winners. My line buddy, however, is a winner, as she has a friend who's way ahead of us in line, so she joined him before Rae arrived.
As we're waiting, I see Caitlin/Intern #2 walking down the hall. "Intern #2!" I call. "Caitlin!" She sees me, smiles, and continues walking. Her friend comments to her, "That guy is really weird. And ugly." Probably.
When they let us into Ballroom 20, Rae and I snag seats in the second section from the front, on the left. Our line buddies behind us must have skedaddled, as they manage to get seats in the very front section! We also save a seat for Dahlia, but she's running late, and by the time she gets to the line, it's so long she gives up. Around that time, a girl asks if the seat next to me is free, and I inform her it is not. "I've been saving it just for you," I say.
She thinks, "This guy is really weird. And ugly." Probably.
For some reason, the pre-Chuck music is...Disturbed.
The panel begins with a video, a montage of fight scenes set to "Kiss with a Fist." Nice. Then there's a recap of the last season, followed by the lingering question: "So, who is Chuck's mom?" And then: "Okay, we'll tell you." And then: it's Sarah Connor!! I mean, Linda Hamilton.
And then the Ring takes over the feed, oh no! Ah, Chuck and Morgan are here to save the day. They welcome us to the panel. Chuck helpfully informs us, "The Twilight fanfiction panel is in the Santa Rosa room." (He's not making that up.) Chuck and Morgan look for something to pop in that will keep the Ring from hijacking the feed, and, of course, it's a terrible Jeffster video. This year, they do "Bad Romance."
Look how close we are! I can take real photos! Even though the ones of the screen look better.
Oh Jeff. Oh ster.
And then the whole cast comes out dancing to Lady Gaga.
And then they throw out shirts! I don't get one. Rats.
The whole cast!
I always enjoy hearing Chris and Josh talking about Chuck. They love the show a lot, and they're always thinking about what new things they can do without losing the heart and soul of what makes the show great.
Caption this photo!
The co-moderators have a little stuffed puppy to denote who can speak.
Adam complains that he always has his ass kicked by pretty women, invoking River and Illyria.
Ryan quips, "Fourth season of Chuck, and we're still hearing about Baldwin's old shows."
(To his credit, Adam agrees.)
Unfortunately, there's no time for Q&A, which is usually pretty entertaining with these guys. Instead, they tell us that under fifty of our seats, there are cards with special instructions/directions to get some sort of prize. "Under fifty are bear traps," says Josh Gomez. Hee. There is nothing under our seats, alas.
It's a fun panel, but not as epic as last year's, which was a highlight of Comic-Con for many of us. I feel a little silly having waited two-and-a-half hours for a 45-minute panel.
I ditch Rae and head to 6DE. And, um, I walk right in. What?
Mark Waid! Chris Claremont! Matt Fraction! Brian Michael Bendis! Why is this room not full? Doesn't anyone at Comic-Con read comics? I intended to be in line right now. Instead, here I am listening to comic book writers be very amusing. I haven't read Matt Fraction, but my pusher, Angelo, and Strega are big fans, so it's cool to see him. I like him a lot, in the ten minutes I hear him. There's a discussion of writing female characters in comics, and he says that one day he will have to explain himself to his daughter regarding his chosen industry. She's going to look at Power Girl and be all, what the fuck? A girl thanks Bendis for writing great female characters on behalf of all the girls at her comic book store who come in asking what's there for them. Waid says it all goes back to Claremont, since he's sitting right next to him.
We also learn that when he was a kid, Bendis tried to draw Raiders of the Last Ark as a comic, but he only got as far as the opening credits because he was recreating every single frame. Waid—we're on a last-name basis too now, I guess—asks why that isn't online.
I move up as soon as the panel over. I sit next to a mother whose teenage daughter is sitting in the right section. The daughter wants her to take pictures of Gerard for her. "Did she drag you here?" I ask. As it turns out, she's been coming to Comic-Con for years, but it's her daughter's first time! She doesn't know anything about The Umbrella Academy or Gerard's comic background, however, so I fill her in.
To continue my trend of running into single-serving friends, my Bendis line buddies arrive and sit in my row! This isn't a huge surprise, since the Bendis panel is next, but still.
Scott Allie comes out, and I have really grown to like this guy, having seen him on many panels. He introduces the panelists. This year, the surprise panelist is Gabriel Bá, the artist for Umbrella Academy! Awesome!! Gabriel speaks in Portuguese for a minute, and I wonder if we're being punk'd. But, no, he does speak English.
Gerard says they have nothing to talk about, as last year they announced projects that haven't happened yet. Perhaps that's why the room isn't even full. He comments that no one dressed as Spaceboy this year, although a girl in the front claims she's half done with a costume. Maybe next year!
I don't know what is up with his hair. Or his shirt. He is still squeaky and adorable, however. And inspiring! According to a girl who's waited six years to tell him so.
One girl says that Umbrella Academy made her a comics fan, so what else do they recommend she read? I'm not sure what Gerard or Gabriel recommend, but Scott Allie throws out a few picks, for sure, including Daytripper. The Walking Dead, Locke and Key, and Hack/Slash also get mentions.
I have a question for Gabriel! Which I pronounce the American way instead of the Portuguese way because I am dumb. In any case, I tell him that I love UA for the story and characters, but I also really love the art, how he's able to portray a world that's the real world...but just to the left. And speaking of comics to read, it reminds me of Chew (some cheers from the audience, woo), so I wonder if there's a common influence. How does he keep the art grounded but still weird?
"I'm from Brazil," he says.
"That's how Brazil looks," says Gerard.
Gabriel says that people need something to relate to when they see an image. He can't draw a ball and say it's a car (clearly, he is not a Magritte fan). What he likes to do is take one element and turn up the strange while keeping the rest normal.
The hardest character to draw is Rumor. But his major contribution in character design was Spaceboy, whom he completely redesigned from Gerard's original conception. Gabriel doesn't have enough old art to collect for a book, but Gerard says his page layouts are really fun. Gabriel suggests they do Umbrella Academy: Layout Edition, and Gerard says, yeah, rather than doing Absolute, they'll go backwards.
I still don't know what is up with his hair and his shirt.
A girl asks if now that he's a dad, will that influence how he writes Hargreaves? He hadn't thought about it, but no.
A girl asks if he'll marry his two interests and make an animated music video like Gorillaz. He has thought about that one.
Any geek-out moments this year? Well, last night Lindsey met Joss Whedon. And he geeked out over Milo Manara at the Eisners.
That is not Gerard on Facebook or Myspace, people. Some guy wants to network with him, and Gerard directs him to Lisa, his...person who handles such things.
Fangirls want information about his daughter and their childrearing ways. Because they care. Gerard reads his daughter The Monster at the End of This Book. He also sings her a song every night, but he won't say what it is. Ha, nice. Some things don't need to be shared with the whole world.
Will we see Hargreaves alien form? Oh, yes, and we will love it! But it won't be in the next volume. Balls.
What's the deal with the umbrella? Well, he thought it'd make a cool logo, honestly. Ha. Also, the umbrella protects you from the rain, which is what the Umbrella Academy does, kinda. And the Umbrella Academy, as a comic. Aw.
I rush to the front row when the panel is over, and I secure a whole bunch of seats for me and my line buddies, but they are fine where they are. But I have a prime spot!
It's Bendis's first time at Comic-Con in ten years! The moderator introduces him as one of the most popular comic book writers working today, but, again, the room isn't even full. What the crap! The Q&A line is superlong, however, and everyone who asks a question gets a variant edition of Scarlet #1. The second or third guy remarks, "That guy stole my question, but I still want a comic, so: which Van Halen do you like better, Roth or Hagar?" Ha!
It's Jeph Loeb, everyone! And he is here to ask Bendis if he will write episodes of the Ultimate Spider-Man animated series. "Who's writing the pilot?" asks Bendis.
Loeb goes up and whispers in his ear.
"Aaron Sorkin??" says Bendis. (It's not really Aaron Sorkin.) Bendis agrees! Then he tells us that we should always conduct our business in public with no lawyer present.
Aw, little Skrull asking Bendis a question.
One questioner identifies himself as spidey616. "spidey616, I love this guy!" says Bendis. He's always providing links on Jinxworld, his forum. Oh, to be spidey616 and loved by Bendis!
One guy says that Alias is his favorite comic, and it's an important comic. He wonders if there were any hurdles getting Scarlet made, with the implication that they might not want a comic centered around a Strong Female Character. Bendis says that there were no such hurdles, just timing. In fact, Powers and Scarlet will be bimonthly now, so that everyone has time to get things done. Like the Daredevil: End of Days comic that artists have basically been drawing in their spare time. Like, they draw pages at cons and whatnot.
Some Indian dude scientist asks how Bendis does his research, since he has to use a lot of scientific jargon in some of his stories. Bendis says he reads a lot, that he spent a year learning how to clone things when he did the Clone Saga. Even though the details didn't make it into the actual comic, he felt better and more confident about his writing.
One guy asks about the fact that he uses three names, isn't that kind of douchey? Bendis says it's totally douchey, and in the beginning, he did it just to be a douche, but he kept it for brand identity and all.
I'm enjoying Bendis, but I've been having such regrets about skipping the Guild panel. With my crazy luck getting into this room, maybe something is weird today and I actually have a chance? I text Dahlia, and she is on her way to the line herself, so I ditch the Bendis panel halfway through.
On my way out of the convention center, I pass 25ABC, the room for the Scott Pilgrim panel later on, and see that it's only half full, so that's good. I rush to the Hilton Bayfront, fighting through the Hall H crowd. Once in the hotel, I search for the Indigo Ballroom line. Ah, I see it! It looks short! Oh, no, that's just the inside portion. It actually continues outside, where it winds around the railing. Oh dear.
These guys just ran into each other.
I go all the way to the end of the line. I call Dahlia, and she's all the way down at the other end, so I go meet her. Hug! The line is moving, which is a good sign. We are joined by a friend. The line continues to move, and we find ourselves inside! Where we get to wait in the inside line.
As we wait in the inside line, we see Joel McHale exiting the restroom! He waves to everyone and shakes people's hands.
The line moves; a woman says that there are seats on the edges of the room. She keeps letting people in. And then the panel starts, and we can hear the cheers, and now it's just mean. She keeps letting people in.
And then, when there are eight people ahead of us, she declares the room to be full. Ah, well, fuck. This means I can do my errands on the floor. Dahlia asks me to pick up a comic for her from the Ape booth, which we find on my map. It's not too far from the Cartoon Art Museum booth, which is my destination, so that works out. The comic is called Freakshow, and it's by some friends of hers, and it's just been optioned for a movie by the writer of Thor. Nice!
I run back through the same stupid crowds to the convention center. I want to get to the Exhibit Hall as quickly as possible, but, by Thanagar, I have to take a picture of Hawkman.
I'd rather meet Hawkgirl, though.
On the floor, I check the Dark Horse booth, but they haven't even done the Dollhouse signing drawing yet, curses. We have to wait till 4. Lame.
I find the Ape booth, and there are David Server and Jackson Lanzing, authors of Freakshow, the comic I am supposed to pick up. But why are there two of them? Aha, one is a variant cover by Darick Robertson. I tell them I am a friend of Dahlia's. Oh! They like Dahlia. They ask how I know her, and I tell her Our Story about meeting at a movie theater. They say it's great when that leads to a friendship.
I ask which cover I should get for Dahlia. They deliberate and settle on the cover by Joe Suitor, the artist for the book. I look through the comic, and the art looks nice. And I decide that, you know what, since they are friends of Dahlia, I will also buy one. I choose the Darick Robertson cover because it is pretty sweet-looking. They sign the comics too.
I will later learn that the comic won't officially come out until January, but they didn't want to miss the opportunity to promote it at Comic-Con.
At this booth I also see the name Geoff Thorne! Huh! He has written a comic called Prodigal.
And next to Server and Lanzing is Neil Druckmann, whom I do not know but, according to his sign, has written for the Uncharted series. I tell him, on behalf of equustel, that I have a friend who loves Uncharted, and if she were here, she would be drooling. "Can I show you my book?" he asks. Alas, I am in a hurry and must complete my errands before getting in line for the Scott Pilgrim panel! Maybe next time, sir!
The Cartoon Art Museum booth is a little hard to find, but I finally do find it, and there is Amy Martin, idly sketching. It seems there have been many requests for Batman sketches today. She's part of a Sketch-a-thon to raise money for the Cartoon Art Museum. I ask her if she will draw me as Scott Pilgrim beating up a dude.
She is happy to oblige. Look at her, creating art JUST FOR ME.
THAT'S APROPOS! And that's ten dollars well spent.
All right, all right, now it's time to get in line for the Scott Pilgrim panel!
Except there is no line. What? Again, I just walk right in the damn room. I take a seat. This is a panel for some horrid children's cartoon I've never heard of called Fanboy and Chum-Chum. The grown man two seats away from me, however, is very excited about the show. He seems like an animation geek, like maybe he works in the industry.
At least now I can eat my turkey sandwich in peace.
Surprise! That is Jamie Kennedy, voice actor.
The theme song for this show is atrocious. They play us a special remix first, and I think the remix is just stupid, but it really does have its basis in the stupid original theme song, as I discover when they show us a yet-to-be-aired episode.
Sitting through this panel is a chore, but it is pretty cool to hear the voice actors do their thing, even for a stupid show. They project some storyboards and let the voice actors do the dialogue, and one woman goes through the six or seven voices she does for multiple characters on the show.
The Q&A is kind of adorable since it's all little kids cutely asking things like, "What inspired you to make this wonderful show?" A little Mario answers a trivia question and wins a lunchbox in addition to the prize he got for asking a question, and he's on top of the world.
My distaste of the show lessens somewhat when I learn that "Chum-Chum" is not supposed to make me think of shark chum, but Batman's nickname for Robin.
Unsurprisingly, the room clears a lot afterward, and I snag a seat in the front close to the microphone.
Bryan Lee O'Malley is joined by Michael Bacall, co-screenwriter of the movie. And, to my surprise, a beta reader for the books since the fourth or so. Some of his suggestions even made it into the books. This explains how well the movie captures the spirit and dialogue of the books.
This panel is going to be all Q&A, but Bryan assures us that he won't shoot us if we ask two questions. I quickly get in line with my somewhat stupid and/or uncomfortable question prepared.
...And the first guy asks it, wanting to know more about the glow/subspace, since the explanation in the last book isn't really clear. Bryan says he didn't really think of it in a sci-fi way, and Michael says it's more about the metaphor, which is how I had to rationalize not understanding it as well.
I am second in line. The screener hears me say, "That was my question!" She asks if I have another one. I'm trying to think of a backup, so I let someone else go ahead. The someone begins by asking about a major plot point in Book 6, and a great deal of the audience gasps and groans at the spoiler. Bryan says, come on, "It's in the name of the panel." We're here to talk about the book! But some people try to be more mindful of spoilers and ask people to cover their ears if they're asking a spoilery question.
I have my question! First, I say that my original question was taken by the first guy, but the thing Michael said about metaphors was how I had to take it as well. Then I address Bryan. I told him the other night, but I repeat for the audience that I was impressed with the development of Ramona and Knives, especially Knives, since I didn't think she'd stick around after the first book, but she becomes a great character. "And she and Scott have a great scene in Book 6 that I will not spoil." I ask him to talk about the development of Knives.
"That was a really good question," says the screener.
Michael talks about how Knives is in her teenage girl years. Bryan says that some people say Knives has a better arc in the movie than in the books (what?? I disagree), and Michael says that the movie takes her to where she is about halfway through the books.
"What would you say to those who think that Scott Pilgrim is the story of Scott and Kim?" says one girl. Ooooh dear. Bryan says that he always saw it as the story of Scott and Ramona, and Kim was an "accessory" to that story. (A poor choice of words, in my opinion.) In any case, he didn't think it was good to go back to the past; Scott should look to the future.
But there's a much more hostile girl coming up! She goes on a tirade about her experience reading the books and her dwindling feelings for Scott, Ramona, and their relationship. She could see why Scott liked Ramona, but not why Ramona liked Scott. "What can you say to me to make me feel better?" she says. Essentially.
Bryan admits, "I didn't show enough of why they should be together."
"Yeah, you didn't," the girl agrees. BUUUUUUURRRRRRRN. Damn. Bryan continues to say that he actually had a whole chapter in one book of just Scott and Ramona having a happy relationship, but he cut it out.
"How much of Scott is you?" someone asks. Well, Scott is pretty much him. He did live with a gay roommate, and he once slept in the same bed with a straight roommate, so he thought it'd be fun to combine those two. And when he started writing the books, he had just gotten dumped, and he was in a band, having gone through various bands. And, like Scott, he would totally play videogames if Hope left...ever. For, like, a day. In fact, he recalls this one time where she was gone for a couple days and he did indeed spend the whole time playing videogames.
There's much more I don't write down, but it's a good panel.
Seanan has plans to go to the Ghirardelli shop for ice cream, and I am up for that. I am to meet her at the Orbit booth at 5:30, which means I have a half hour to kill. First, I confirm that neither Rae nor I has won the Dollhouse signing. Alas.
Then I pay a visit to the Red 5 booth, which Erin and I had visited last year. The guy had given us several free comics, and now I feel like I should buy something. I really do want to check out Atomic Robo, even though I've only read a couple issues. It seems like something I would enjoy. I can get all three trades for $40, or I can get all three trades plus the last four issues for $50 and be completely up-to-date. The trades are normally pretty expensive, like $18-$20 for five-issue books, so I was going to be on the lookout for them in the discount bins.
I stand there deliberating for many minutes, wondering how much I have spent and whether I can afford to just go for it. And, finally, I say, what the hell, this is Comic-Con, these Red 5 guys seem like decent folk, and I will give them $50 for a comic I have barely read. Hell, I spent more than that on Kabuki, only having read a few issues, but it was over a long period of time. The guy also threw in several free Red 5 comics in an attempt to hook me on other titles.
Walking around in the vicinity, I score more free comics! Physics comics! That will teach me about lasers or whatever! And one about Tesla! Ooh.
I think this is when I go visit the Axe Cop booth, having seen that it had one, and I meet Ethan Nicolle. I sort of stopped reading during the recent storyline because I couldn't follow what the hell was going on and it seemed to have lost its novelty, but it was hilarious for a while. I am less inclined to give him money since I am not currently excited about his webcomic. Plus, he seems kind of bored.
That's not him. That is someone on Odin's throne at the Marvel booth. Unlike some people, he looks like he belongs there.
If you look closely, you will see why I took this picture.
I head toward the Orbit booth, which is where a bunch of publishers are. I notice that I missed my chance to get a free copy of Boneshaker! Dammit, I forgot they give out free books here! Next year, I need to figure out when all that is happening, even though I will likely have no time in my schedule.
I hang around the Orbit and Mysterious Galaxy booths and wait for Seanan, Amy, and Tara. And Gini Koch, who is an author I do not know. The first book in her series, Touched by an Alien, came out in April, and she already has fans, one of whom we direct to her so she can squee and get her book signed and whatnot. And then we exit the convention center.
My backpack has gotten very heavy, so I am going to go lighten the load in the hotel room. Oh, would I mind taking Seanan's bag back too? How about Amy's? Oh, Tara has some stuff to take back too. They load me up like a camel. "You're buying me ice cream, right?" I say. I am mostly joking, but after spending $50 on the floor, I am feeling less spendy. As I walk to the hotel, however, I decide I definitely deserve some ice cream for the effort.
I heard from Rae that Hadley is in town, so I give him a call as I walk to the Ghirardelli shop. He says he's walking around, and he's near 5th and J. Whoa, I am on 4th and J! I go a block over and meet him. Hey! We chat for a few minutes before parting ways. Sometimes a few minutes is all you get at Comic-Con.
I finally make it to the ice cream shop after most people are finishing up their delicious ice cream. I am very tired. Seanan was serious when she agreed to buy me ice cream, so she hands me cash, and I go up to the counter. I was intrigued by the Nob Hill Chili, which looked good. Except now I see that it is called the Nob Hill Chill. Which rhymes. And makes more sense. The woman says it's vanilla ice cream, hot fudge, ice, and chocolate chips, all blended together. That sounds awesome. It costs eight goddamn dollars. But it is SO GOOD.
Part of my mission was also to bring a copy of Rosemary and Rue for Gini, which Seanan signs. Aw, DAW authors. Seanan sings for some reason—it doesn't take much—and Gini remarks that she has a "beautiful voice" and envies her for being so multitalented.
Having had dessert, Seanan and her crew proceed to dinner, which is at a steakhouse, where they will partake of the cow. I decide not to join them, opting to make an attempt to get into the Legend of Neil panel, as I have been telling Sandeep I will try all week.
Except I have to fight through zombies to get back to the convention center!
It's the annual Zombie Walk.
Sidewalk traffic is congested.
WHY DOES THAT ZOMBIE HAVE HEADPHONES? Is he listening to "Re: Your Brains" on a constant loop?
These are the zombies I must personally defeat on my way back.
These zombies are intelligent enough to make funny signs.
The Legend of Neil panel is at 7:30, and to get to it, I have to cross through the Mythbusters line. That is a long line, and the room fills up. I secure myself a spot in the Neil line, which is fairly long, so I hope I get in.
As we begin moving, a girl mentions the Guild panel, and I say that I tried to get in, but it filled up. "It was awesome!!" she says.
"I'm sure it was," I say.
"Sure, rub it in!" her companion says.
I do get in, and I snag a seat on the far left. The panel begins with a screening of the first two episodes of season three, and they are frickin' hilarious, continuing the rise in quality over the course of the series. The second episode is a spot-on Office parody.
Hurrah for the cast! So that's what Old Man looks beneath all that makeup and hair. And speaking of makeup, Sandeep asks Jenn Rose, the woman responsible for makeup effects, to stand. She has awesome red hair. And she went to high school with Mike Rose (Old Man)! But they're not related. OR ARE THEY.
After some panel chit-chat, it's time for questions, and I scurry to the microphone. As I'm waiting, a guy sitting a few rows from the front turns and, staying low, hobbles over to me.
It's Conan. A friend of mine from high school. The valedictorian of our class. I haven't seen him in over a decade. And here he is. I am WTFed. He says hi, and we agree to catch up after the panel.
I begin my question by addressing the moderator, Alex Albrecht. "First of all, Alex, your old improv friend [nsfinch] says hi."
"Whoa!" he says. "That's from my old college days."
"Tell us about it!" says Sandeep.
"Is she here?" asks Alex.
"No," I say, "but she's happy you have your own Wikipedia entry." Then I begin to ask my actual question to Sandeep, telling him that I just caught up on the series and it got better and better. I was really impressed with the special effect and makeup for a low-budget webseries. "How hard did you think it would be to create this world?" I wonder. "And how do you pull it off with a limited budget?"
He has very talented friends who will work for very little! So that helps. And they like to keep challenging themselves. Once they discover they can do one thing, they want to try to do more or bigger. (A dragon with one head? Let's go for two!)
"Clearly, you have a very talented crew," I say, wanting to give props to the unsung heroes not on the panel, because they deserve it. The production values are really impressive. I skip back to Jenn Rose and declare, "You're awesome."
More Q&A! One girl begins with "Felicia, you're an inspiration." Aw. One guy asks how to make a successful webseries, and Sandeep gives the same answer that Felicia has given in the past, which is that you write what you love. That's it. There will be an audience for it. Don't try to write for an audience; your audience will find you.
This season, in between the episodes, they will be showing minisodes, and they show us one, Elf vs. Wild. And it features Alex! So now Hammer Don't Hurt 'Em is entirely Guild/Legend of Neil people, sweet. In the minisode, Alex the elf is observing a Like Like. Which, because this is Legend of Neil, gets very horny and starts humping him.
What happens after the video is one of the greatest things I have ever seen at a panel. Alex asks about guest stars appearing in this season, and Sandeep says that they actually have a special guest tonight. Oh, who could it be?
It's a Like Like!! Felicia is terrified.
She doesn't want to be near the freaky thing.
She moves farther and farther away.
Until she's sitting in Mike Rose's lap. Dirty Old Man!
Meanwhile, the Like Like answers questions. I SHIT YOU NOT. It is fucking hilarious. People ask it questions, and it makes squeaky noises into the microphone. It is amazing.
After the panel, I go over to talk to Alex and say hi. He asks how I know Nicole. I tell him I've never actually met her, but we're friends on the Internet. He wants to know how, specifically, since he is an Internet person, but I can't remember exactly. It was probably TWoP first, but I say LiveJournal, since that is how we keep in touch these days. I tell him that when I posted my schedule for Comic-Con, it was the second time she had heard about him that day. (This is incorrect. My schedule caused her to think of Alex for the first time in YEARS, but that very day, she got an alumni update article that mentioned him.) He asks how she's doing, and I tell him she's in DC working for the government. Which I think is true. I have gotten that impression over the years.
I ask him if he has a message for her. "E-mail me!" he says. I ask if he has her e-mail address. He does not, so I write it down for her on a torn sheet from the Comic-Con program guide that I hope no one misses, since the ticket or whatever Alex gives me isn't conducive to writing on. So, Nicole, if Alex has not e-mailed you by the time you see this...you should e-mail him.
And then we take a picture to prove we met each other.
I compliment his improv performance before leaving him be.
Then I go over to Conan. Because what the hell! He says he should have checked to see whether I was coming. He didn't see my many Facebook updates?? He must have missed them. He certainly didn't expect to look back and see me standing in line. I ask him if he's eaten, and he has not! Well, then obviously we should get dinner. (Sorry, Dahlia, with whom I planned to have dinner.)
He is staying for the next panel, which I know nothing about. So I could go outside and catch up on writing notes or I could just stay and experience the madness that is sure to ensue.
I choose madness. The House That Drips Blood on Alex stars Tommy Wiseau, (in)famous for his cult film, The Room, which I have heard about (there was an entire Entertainment Weekly article about it) but never seen.
Tommy Wiseau is...quite a character. And his fans are very exuberant. When Tommy enters the room, the crowd goes wild. He walks down the room shaking people's hands and posing for pictures. Conan asks me to take a picture of him with Tommy Wiseau. He thanks me greatly; it will make him the envy of his Facebook friends later.
I take a Tommy Wiseau mask. Ha! Atom.com also made Legend of Neil masks for Link and Zelda.
Once the panel is situated and the crowd calms down, we are treated to The House That Drips Blood on Alex, written and directed by Brock LaBorde and Jared Richard, despite what IMDb claims. It is a bizarre horror...comedy? I can't tell how funny it is intended to be, but Tommy Wiseau is so ridiculous that everything he says is randomly hilarious. My favorite line is a simple "Home, sweet house."
The short film/webseries pilot gets a standing ovation. I remain seated because I am not part of the Tommy Wiseau cult.
Pretty much every single question in the Q&A is directed to Tommy. Except for maybe one, which is directed to Justine, who is asked how different it was to act in this compared to Law and Order. She answers, "Well, I'm not really an actress," as if his question doesn't make any sense. She is apparently a vlogger (that's a thing people are now?), but, for God's sake, you "acted" in this and you "acted" in Law and Order, so his question is valid, Christ. In any case, Tommy Wiseau definitely changed her life.
Tommy seems oblivious to the world. "Is that for me?" he asks, each time someone asks him a question, as if he cannot believe someone is asking him a question. "Is that about The Room?" he asks, as if people are not going to ask about The Room.
One guy says, "Can you make my Comic-Con experience complete and recite the sonnet?" This must be something from The Room.
Tommy ponders. "I will do it at the end," he answers. Then: "No, I do it now." And then he does it.
"Who inspires you?" someone asks.
"No one inspires me; I inspire myself," he answers. AHAHAHAHA. I cannot believe this guy is for real. Is he for real? Is he an alien? Is he a Sacha Baron Cohen-level actor? He also likes Tennessee Williams and Citizen Kane, though. They inspire him. Or something.
At one point, he says that America is great because he can do all these things, which incites a chant of "USA! USA!" from the audience.
"Where are you from?" asks one girl.
I don't hear the first part of his response, which sounds like "You are not a fan of The Room" or something. But the second part is definitely "Next question, move on." Haaaa.
Someone asks what historical figure he would like to play. "George Washington," he answers. I don't even know.
After a while, it seems that people aren't actually asking Tommy questions as just trying to get more entertainment value out of him. Someone asks him to sing happy birthday. So he tells everyone whose birthday it is to come up.
I am pretty sure it is not all these people's birthday. Tommy asks them all to get in a line.
Then he asks each person to say his or her name into the microphone.
And then he sings happy birthday. This is one of the strangest panels I have ever attended, and I just saw a Like Like frighten Felicia Day.
Then he starts throwing shirts. Except he throws them behind his back like he's throwing a wedding bouquet. WHO IS THIS GUY.
A battle breaks out over one shirt. "Give it to the kid! Give it to the kid!" the audience chants.
And then he throws shirts to the people who didn't get shirts.
I'm not sure what the hell I have just witnessed, but the panel finally ends, and reality begins to assert itself. Conan goes up to talk to one of the writers, saying he's kind of sorry that Tommy took over and no one else got any questions (I felt the same way), but he says it's okay, they know Tommy is popular. And they didn't change the script at all after casting him; he just brings a certain...Tommy-ness.
Then, to Conan's delight, he hands him a Pizza Party box! (It's a thing in The House That Drips Blood on Alex.) He hands me one as well, but I look for someone who looks like a fan and give it to her so it will be appreciated.
Conan and I make our way out of the convention center. We walk behind a guy carrying the Like Like! He wasn't the person inside, though; he's just carrying it. Outside, we walk up 5th looking for dinner options, and we run into the Legend of Neil crowd again, heh.
I hope to try out the dinner options at the Cheese Shop, but, alas, they have closed. It's almost 10. What's open? Well, this restaurant and brewery called Rock Bottom. Whatever, they have food, let's eat.
This place attracts some strange patrons. Later there will be zombies. Dancing zombies.
Conan orders some edamame to share. I look over the menu. Since I had a crapload of ice cream goodness earlier, I decided my dinner should be a salad, to cancel it out. Besides, I am intrigued by this Santa Fe ranch salad with crispy chicken and tempura Anaheim peppers. Mostly the tempura peppers. Conan orders a bacon cheeseburger.
"You still love your bacon cheeseburgers," I say. Whenever we traveled for Academic Decathlon, he would always order a bacon cheeseburger. It is a fact about him I have not thought about since those days, but it comes to mind now. He says he's mostly vegetarian now, but he indulges every now and then.
In a strange moment, Justine Ezarik enters the Rock Bottom and exclaims, "Yeah, Pizza Party!" upon seeing the box, as she goes to her table. Of all the restaurants in San Diego, she chooses the one we're at? Tommy Wiseau's powers of bizarreness are strong.
My salad is really good, and the tempura peppers are a great addition.
Conan and I discuss our jobs over dinner. And, because he's here on business—he works for a comic book store—his job pays for my dinner. Sweet!
Outside, somehow, the Legend of Neil crowd has found us again. I think I recognize Tony Janning from the back.
Conan's hotel is close by, and it is time to part ways.
I still can't believe we randomly ran into each other at Comic-Con.
I walk back to the hotel. People are sleeping in the room, so I go downstairs to write in the lobby. I enter the elevator, and it is filled with Indians. The following conversation occurs.
Guy #1: "Gujarati?"
Girl: "See, he knows."
Guy #1: "Comic-Con?"
Girl: "So you're a geek?"
Guy #2: "Come on. [Don't be a dick.] What's your favorite comic? Spider-Man?"
Me: "Y: The Last Man?"
Girl: "The Last Man?"
Me: "Y: The Last Man."
Girl: "That's a comic?"
Girl: "From Marvel?"
And then, thankfully, we reach the ground floor, and I can exit. I have no idea what was up with that girl. She seemed disdainful of geeks, but she knew what Marvel was.
There is a long line to get into the awesome bar on the top floor or something. I take a seat and begin writing.
After a while, some Indian dude comes up to me excitedly and says, "You were at the X-Play panel, right?" He says we sat in the same row. He may even tell me his name. I don't remember him, but I pretend to so he doesn't feel bad. He asks me what happened up there with shaving Blair's chest. How was it?? I give him some details of my experience. I feel like a pseudocelebrity.
I'm tired, so at one point, I just close my eyes and lean back so I can nod off for a bit. It's not long before hotel security comes over and asks, "Are you all right?" Heh. Ever-vigilant. Yes, I am all right.
I continue writing. This day is not done surprising me, though, because who should greet me but Dahlia! She didn't even know I was staying here, but she was at the hotel bar. She saw me on her way to or from the restroom, which is purportedly the best restroom in San Diego. I have not used it. I have a comic to give to her, but she has nowhere to put it. We make plans to meet tomorrow. She's on her way out, and I should turn in.
It has been a long day, and Comic-Con is almost over. Tomorrow, thankfully, promises to be less exciting. But that doesn't mean that, like the rest of Comic-Con, it will not have surprises in store for me.