Tony's California Adventure

Tony's California Adventure: Sunday - Comic Sunday...

Sunday Sunday Sunday!

Man, I'm tired. Welcome back for my recap of Day 5 of the 2012 San Diego Comic Con. To say that this weekend has been an endurance test is a major understatement.

slept in a little today since I was only vying for two more signatures to finish out my weekend. After being dropped off at the Con, I headed to the DC Booth where I bumped into Scott Snyder. I seriously almost ran into the dude every day and finally told him to stop following me. Seriously. It's annoying. Scott was headed to the airport so I thanked him for being absolutely great during the con and that I was ready to head home and keep reading more of his stories. He said he'd be at NYCC and that he would see me then... Stalker.

I hopped in line for Gail Simone and asked her how worried I should be for Barbara Gordon's well being for the upcoming Joker story. Her response? "Be afraid. Be very afraid. I'm scaring myself with what I'm writing." Creepy indeed.

We headed up to 6DE for the last time for the DC Meet the Publishers panel. Bob Wayne was moderating, or attempting to with Dan Didio and Jim Lee present and accounted for. The co-publishers recapped the convention announcements, the upcoming new wave of books, and the daily digital issues for anyone who missed anything before. The questions varied between industry specific knowledge to story-based digging and didn't bring out any new answers, but it was more fun than anything to hear each publishers' opinions on personal favorites to personal expectations.

My final signing line was probably my favorite. I forgot to mention that the Fables panel provided each attendee an original Mark Buckingham print that captured a lot of different Fables moments from the last decade. We hopped in line for the signing and chatted amongst ourselves for a while. Once we hit the front, we chatted with the Fables team and discovered that they'd be hitting NYCC in October for the first time. So, with about 3 hours left in the con, Amy and I headed to the infamous Hall H for Sons of Anarchy. We had to endure the panel for the Cleveland Show and... It was one of the stupidest things I had ever witnessed. The questions that were asked weren't great and the panel treated those questions as such, thus creating an awkward and disjointed experience. The SOA panel was much better and came with the first 7 minutes of the season premiere. Ron Perlman was awesome, as usual.

With one hour left, we decided to go home... and by home, I mean the DC Booth. We watched Francis Manapul do a DC University session when possibly my favorite moment of the convention took place. I saw Dan Didio wandering around, so I pulled out my copy of OMAC #1 and called his name. I told him I was bummed he didn't have a signing and showed him the book. He about laughed his head off when he saw it and exclaimed "Finally! We found him! The one person who's attending the convention that bought OMAC #1! Let me sign that thing!" DC ended up posting our picture together on Twitter, thus bringing the convention to a close. We headed over to the Hilton afterwards to take pictures of the 6 Batmobiles outside and tried to pick which one we wanted. To drive home in.

Closing thoughts -

Closing out Year 3 was bittersweet, especially since so many of my friends decided to sit out this year. That said, a lot of fun was still had. I come to this convention each year for the comics side of things, and it's kind of telling about the state if the convention since I look at it from that perspective. I'm a firm believer in that if you come to San Diego because of comics, you'll do a lot and have a lot of fun and great experiences with various creators. However, I still have an increasing concern that the movie/TV/games crowd is starting to take the focus from the spirit of the convention and pollute it with a consumer/black Friday outlook of camping out for panels, exclusives and giveaways. My hope is that SDCC takes a look at everything and works to separate the two more, especially in regards to Hall H. That said, I'll still recommend this convention to everyone I speak to until I'm blue in the face. The convention was a B-, but my personal experience was an A. I came with a lot of books to get signed, and I'm leave with all but 5 of them with ink on them. I can't top that at all.

Thanks to Scott Samson and Rick Tess for the opportunity to share my experience this year with the employees and my fellow customers from The Fantasy Shop, and hopefully anyone outside of St. Louis. I'm preparing for my flight home and am looking forward to doing this again soon!


Tony's California Adventure: Saturday - The Day to View Panels and Avoid the Floor

Greetings. San Diego Comic Con Day 4 is in the books as I am coming to the close of another convention. These things sure do fly by. 

I decided to get to the convention early just to see when the doors open and holy crap, I am never doing that again. Nightmare scenario, to say the least. The staff couldn't even think of pointing us I the right direction for a door that would open. Once I got in, I headed to the Marvel booth since they usually change things up and HOLY CRAP NEW IRON MAN ARMOR- whoa. It's mostly gold. I social networked it out and got a lot of "Ewww" responses back, but hey, I kinda dig it. It's kind of a brushed gold that reminds me almost of the tan used in military camouflage. 

After witnessing Iron Man, I headed up to 6DE for the New 52 Next Wave panel that featured Tony Bedard, James Tynion IV, Scott Snyder, and for the first time ever as a panelist, Dan Didio. The folks discussed Phantom Stranger, Amethyst, Team 7 and Talon, once again kind of making it a PR panel, but then squeaking out a few more details as well. The Q&A questions yielded some interesting responses, namely that Tony Bedard is doing a Beowulf backup for Amethyst and that he's more excited about that than GL and Blue Beetle right now. We were then regaled with a story about how Tony stripped down to a loin cloth in high school to play Beowulf and thus earned the nickname, "Tonan the Barbarian." Bob Wayne almost quit right then and there. We'll get to see more interactions with the militaristic figures of the DCU on Team 7 with Grifter, Amanda Waller, Steve Trevor and Black Canary, so that was a nice bit of info. Phantom Stranger will reintroduce a big DCU character that we haven't seen yet in the relaunch around issue 2. Talon won't interact with Nightwing right away, but Batman will get involved at some point. The highlight of the panel involved the infamous Batgirl from last year who kept asking about the lack of female creators with the relaunch. She remarked that it had been a year but that while progress is slow, she is seeing more female creators on books and that she wanted to thank Dan for listening and addressing the issue. Great moment. Bob Wayne closed out the panel and remarked that it had some of the best questions they had received at a panel, ever. 

We then moved to the DC OGN panel that featured Geoff Johns for Batman: Earth One, Anthony Bourdain, Joel Rose and Langdon Foss, and Superman: Earth One - Vol. 2 with JMS and Shane Davis. Get Jiro takes place in a world where chefs control nations and have wars with rival chefs. Jiro is a master sushi chef who takes his craft very seriously, and when it's take lightly, the result is ultra violence. The book recently crashed Amazon's system for orders so DC is obviously excited about it. Geoff covered Batman E1 and announced that Vol. 2 was coming and would feature The Riddler as the main villain. JMS and Shane Davis set up Superman E1 V2 by covering The Parasite and Clark's awkward sex life that is complicated by his powers. Questions were asked and the biggest info to come out revealed that there is a small mention of Batman in Superman E1 V2 in the form of a newspaper clipping, thus confirming that Earth One is one sole universe and that these guys might meet. Also, other characters will be receiving the Earth One treatment, though there is nothing to announce yet. 

Finally, we got to the Before Watchmen panel. JMS stuck around and was met by Darwyn Cooke, Amanda Conner and Len Wein. Basic PR info was displayed and talked about when suddenly, Jim Lee piped up and interrupted the panel to announce a special guest... Quentin Tarantino! Jim said that there wasn't any other self-contained opportunity to announce this, so they had Quentin pop in to announce that Django Unchained's unabridged script would be receiving the comic treatment and would be released this fall in conjunction with the movie's release. That was a fun moment and I was too shocked to snap a picture. GNAH. 

The exhibition floor and JH Williams III were my next targets after wrapping up the panels. I joined a mini line that grew larger and larger and had to eventually be capped before signing began. I was armed with a copy of Batwoman #1 but was pleasantly surprised to find a print of the Sandman promo image that was displayed Thursday night! Score! I wandered the floor a little while longer until heading up to 6DE to panel squat for Fables by having to endure the Metal Hurlant (Heavy Metal) panel. 

James Marsters and Michael Jai White were there. We watched the first episode. It was awful. That's all I have to say about that. 

Next was the Fables panel and with it was a sense of urgency. They usually do a random item giveaway before the panel started, but Bill deferred to a Hunger Games style system of fighting to the death, a.k.a., jumping as high as you can for stuff being tossed into the crowd. Bill started things off by mentioning next year's inaugural Fablescon and that the guest list would include around 30 people. Mark Buckingham will be the guest of honor and the convention will take place in Minnesota during March. This year marks Fables' 10th anniversary, so the panel reminisced about their favorite moments in the series' history. A lot of focus was around Snow and Bigby, but there were a lot of Christmas moments sprinkled throughout. Hints about future issues were displayed and talked about and some questions were good at poking around those questions with no real answers. Finally, Bill made his fabled (see what I did there) announcement that this was going to be the last Fables panel at SDCC for the foreseeable future. Devoting 5-6 days to San Diego has caused Bill to miss other conventions and he's wanting to spread the word about Fables, mostly on the East Coast, though he mentioned that Fables would be receiving a 90-minute panel at the next Emerald City Comic Con. these comments coincide with a Bleeding Cool report that Bill is frustrated with the current state of SDCC and that he had concerns that more comic fans couldn't attend due to the number of passes going to moviegoers instead. I can sympathize with those comments. 

Day 4 is wrapped. Up next, Day 5. 

To be continued...

Tony's California Adventure: Friday - My Feet Are Killing Me

Howdy folks, and welcome to my Day 3 recap of this year's Comic Con International. For me, Day 3 involved walking. Lots of walking. For eight hours straight. With no breaks sitting. And waiting in lines. A few lines. OK, a lot of lines. But! You guys should see my haul. In fact, you will at the bottom of this update, but only some of it. 

My day started at DC, my home away from home, and waiting in line for Kyle Higgins to sign a few issues of Nightwing. Trevor McCarthy was with him and I slightly lamented internally that I should've brought a copy of Gates of Gotham for him to sign. Kyle joked at yesterday's Batman panel about that DC shot him down about a Nightwing mask initiative when we were given our owl masks. I told him that my sister and I would find Bob Wayne and support it, so Kyle responded by handing me a Nightwing-ized version of the owl mask and asked if I wanted it. Score! He signed it, along with Trevor and made it out for my sister. I later had Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque sign it as well. 
After leaving DC, I scoped out Becky Cloonan's table to get an autograph for Conan #1 and to purchase a copy of her Dracula adaptation. I ended up wandering down to the games and studio booths just to see if I could avoid a human tidal wave. It wasn't to bad, but things got hairy when the cast of The Big Bang Theory showed up on top of the WB "tower" to take pictures of people taking pictures of them taking pictures. 
GAH. I did find the Quantum Mechanix booth to see their Firefly, Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica props and ship replicas, so that was a plus. 

I then made my way to the Image booth to find out about Ed Brubaker and Scott Snyder's signings, which, turned out to be a genius move on my part because I could then avoid the crazy, ridiculous lines for them at the Marvel and DC booths. I ended up getting a bonus treat from Scott as he whipped out his phone and showed some of Greg Capullo's final Joker designs, but you didn't hear that from me. Then I headed to the 2000 AD booth where Jock was signing and sketching. I had him sign my Batman: The Black Mirror hardcover and had him lay down a sketch on the inside cover in silver sharpie. Beautiful stuff. 

I headed upstairs for Green Lantern & Justice League panel and was left still wondering why they combined the two panels. The answer I received from attending was simple - lack of major content. I think the shipping delay in this week's issue of GL ended up hurting this panel as Geoff couldn't really talk yet about the Black Hand story arc. There was a slip of the tongue about the fall of Guy Gardner, but it was either a mistake or a big him to try and revive interest. The Justice League side of the panel just really hyped up future stories for the JL family of books more so than the actual main JL book. Nothing too groundbreaking at this panel, which was a shame after the two I attended yesterday. 

Leaving the GL/JL panel, I decided to meet up with my sister down at the DC Booth during Darwyn Cooke's DC University session. We ended up splitting again so I could line up for Joe Hill at the IDW Booth and so Amy could grab a seat at the Scott Snyder/Jeff Lemire spotlight panel. This was about 45 minutes before the signing, so when I arrived, I was handed the last person in line sign. Wow. They ended up expanding the line to include another 20 or so folks, but it was still scary. I ended up chatting with someone who showed up at Ballroom 20 at 4am for the Firefly panel. There weren't any giveaways for that panel, but there were lots of tears, apparently. Anyway, I got through the line, chatted with Joe as he signed and personalized my books, and was then on my merry way back upstairs for what would be the best panel of the Con. 

The Scott Snyder/Jeff Lemire Spotlight panel. These were listed individually, but the guys decided to combine them into a two hour chat with each other and an extended Q&A and signing session. Here's what we learned:

Scott decided to become a writer and his parents weren't happy about it. Jeff named Gus from Sweet Tooth after a proposed name for his son, who then ended up being named Gus. Scott was a janitor at Disney World and worked his way up to being Eeyore, Pluto and Buzz Lightyear. Jeff really hated his work on The Atom and Superboy and called both projects mediocre. Scott HATED Greg Capullo at first and almost decided to drop off Batman if Greg didn't. Jeff only wants to write comics and has no interest doing anything else, even though they both have offers for games and whatnot. Scott and Jeff were both told to come to the con dressed as Alan Moore and Grant Morrison by Rich Johnston. Scott told the story of how he got his way with Mike Marts by going out and getting Jock for Detective Comics during CCI 2010 after Scott told Mike that he didn't want to use the artist that was originally assigned to him by editorial. Also, Jock is coming back to illustrate a feature in the main Batman comic. 

At one point, the guys were asked about having editors and Jeff really had to reel in Scott from saying something that could get him in trouble. Eventually, Scott was able to confine his comments down to the fact that working on these characters who are owned by a major company can be tough, so you really have to make sure that the story you're wanting to tell has the same emotional impact of the story you're wanting to tell, even when you're told that a certain character you're wanting to write about is given the "unavailable" status by editorial. 

There was a lot of wine flowing, by the way. It was a bloody excellent panel. 

That wraps up Day 3. I'm heading to bed so I can get up early and hit more panels and avoid the exhibition floor. 

To be continued...


Tony's California Adventure: Thursday - Mr. Sandman, Bring Me a Dream.

Good morning folks and welcome back. Day 2 (officially Day 1 if you're not including Preview Night) was a much smoother experience than Preview Night, both on the floor and with lines in general. I wasn't able to send off any panel reviews during the show due to spotty 4G and Wi-Fi, so I'll be discussing them here.

I totally slacked off with getting to the floor early just so I could sleep in a little, so I missed the morning signing session with Scott Snyder at the DC Booth. However, I was able to chat with Dustin Nguyen about his work on American Vampires: Lord of Nightmares. It's his first work for Vertigo and his first time both drawing and inking outside of his normal cover work. I had him sketch Dracula for me, but he joked that he'd have to keep it spoiler free, so it's pretty bare.

Immediately after finishing up with Dustin, Mortal Kombat's Ed Boon hopped onto DC's stage to give a demonstration of his latest project, Injustice: Gods Among Us. The premise is simple: what if our heroes weren't heroes at all? The game seems to play like the most recent Mortal Kombat game, but involves environmental interaction such as Superman grabbing a car and smashing someone with it or Nightwing knocking someone into exposed electrical wires. The game also lets you unleash a giant attack for major damage. Examples including Superman upper cutting you into space and flying up to club you back down to Earth, The Flash doing 15 rotations around the planet to super punch you, and Batman hitting you with the Batmobile. Yep. That game is going to be incredible.

I headed to the ONI Booth to pick up the Scott Pilgrim Vol. 1 EVIL EDITION and decided to buy the collector's edition package. Bryan Lee O'Malley was on hand signing copies at the same time so the timing was perfect. I then headed back to DC to catch Nicola Scott doing a DC University session and to get in line for her and James Robinson. I had James sign a few Shade variants to me and per Rick, asked him about his super short run on Masters of the Universe. He appreciated the cheekiness and did a separate autograph sheet for Rick. We chatted some more about Alan Scott and the future plans for Earth Two, which include focused issues on Jay Garrick and the other characters that will be showing up.

After hitting the Mattel booth and Jeff Lemire's signing, I hurried up to the Batman Comics panel. The entire Batman team was on hand with Bob Wayne moderating the group. We dove right in to Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV talking about the new Talon comic. James is a former student of Scott's who wanted to expand on the stories behind The Court of Owls, so he's exploring that world while Scott tackles... The Joker. But before we could talk about that, John Cunningham from DC marketing interrupted to ask Bob about maybe doing a giveaway. We turned around and saw the room begin to fill up with the white Court of Owls masks! The panel took pictures of us wearing them and I'm sure they're online now somewhere. Back to The Joker, Scott revealed that he helped Tony Daniel write the scene at the end of Detective Comics #1 to help set up this current story. The Joker is taking on the role of the court jester, the person who has to deliver bad news to the king and to make the king stronger. In Gotham's case, The Joker sees Batman as the king who has forgotten about his jester, so, he's going to be both making AND delivering the bad news to Batman to make him stronger, which means that he's going directly after the Batman family. Before, when Joker shot Barbara, he did it to get to Jim Gordon. When he killed Jason Todd, he did it to get to Batman. Now, he's going straight for each family member directly, so he's going to be targeting each person directly and bring THEIR world crumbling down around them, not just Batman's world.

Insanely awesome.

Other books were discussed and will be tying into The Joker story, but once again are self-contained in the sense that you don't need to read the main Batman title to understand what is happening.

We took a lunch break before heading to the Vertigo panel. On hand were the usual suspects who were moderated by Vertigo EIC, Karen Berger. American Vampire was discussed by Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque with very little details being given about what will be happening with the Blacklist, but that the conclusion of the story will contain a change in direction for the book. Fables was discussed by Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham, but few details were discussed and were being saved for Saturday's Fables panel. Anthony Bourdain's Get Jiro! was discussed as we were told to check back on Friday's panel with Bourdain to discuss the book. Mike Alred and Sean Murphy discussed the end of iZombie and the launch of Punk Rock Jesus, with Kren mentioning that it was at one point trending higher on Twitter than the convention itself. But finally, Karen talked about the next volume of the Annotated Sandman and then deferred to a video of Neil Gaiman in her office talking about brief captions from the original Sandman comic. Neil felt that with the Sandman turning 25 next year that it would be appropriate to discuss the details of that story that takes place before Sandman #1. So that's what he's going to do.

Next year, second half. Neil Gaiman writes, JH Williams III illustrates a six-issue Sandman miniseries.


And that was the end of Day 2. I'm heading down to the convention now to get some more books signed and hit more panels. I'll make an effort to cover some Marvel topics, but I make no promises.

To be continued...


Tony's California Adventure: Preview Night - A Night of Mayhem, Madness, and Giant Hellicarriers

Greetings everyone. It's 7:58 local time as I'm posting this look into Preview Night the following day due to major exhaustion from the human tidal wave known as the preview night crowd. Before, Preview Night was an optional activity for folks who purchased 4-day badges and wanted to scour the floor early to see the booths and visit vendors. Now, Preview Night has become one of the bigger days of the show due to the exclusive giveaways that different companies are handing out. 

Remember my key phrase from yesterday that Comic Con is a sensory overload? This was a sensory assault. 

Bodies weren't crammed together between the 0100 to 1900 booths, but it became very dangerous territory after the 2000 area. The 2000 to 5000 range of booths contains toy companies, movie studios, video game studios and poor artists' alley, who I'm going to have to visit by traveling around the floor instead of going through it.

But! Enough about the madness that ensued. What did I see in the short three hours I was of the floor? The answer - a lot. A lot, a lot, a lot. 

My night started by heading to the DC Booth so I could get a wristband for Geoff Johns and Jime Lee's signing later that night. I immediately found a line for Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham. While signing my copies of Fairest #1, I chatted with Bill about next year's Fablescon. He told me that after learning about how difficult it was to get passes for SDCC this year, he decided to get Fablescon organized since there is always a fantastic turnout for this con's Fables panel each year. 

After wrapping up with the Fables team, I headed for the section of booths that featured Cliff Chiang, Becky Cloonan, Rafael Albuquerque, Fabiola Moon, Gabriel Ba, and Jill Thompson. I chatted with Rafael for a quick second as he was being overwhelmed by the demand for his limited prints that he was selling. I was able to chat with Jill Thompson for a few minutes while purchasing and having her sign a copy of her book, Scary Godmother. I asked about the prices for her original artwork, she told me that full pages were $1,000, I eeked, and she laughed. Good times. 

Immediately after walking away from the artist booths, I received a call from my sister, Amy, to head towards the WB Studios booth because, OMG, they were handing out chalk bat window stickers for The Dark Knight Rises. I figured that it was going to be crazy, and sure enough, after walking past the Marvel booth, I hit a huge wave of people who were purchasing the Hasbro Con exclusive toys. I eventually made it to the WB booth, but of course, I missed out. I was able to check out the side of the booth that featured The Hobbit, and it was literally just like walking through the halls of Rivendell, though, I'm sure that someone will correct me once seeing the pictures of the booth and end up telling me it's based on the dwarves keeps.

I decided to wrap up my day by hitting the Sideshow Toys booth to take pictures and then get some final autographs at the DC Booth. I hopped in line for Francis Manapul and picked up a few autographs on some Flash and Green Lantern comics. I told Francis that I've been enjoying the Rogues having superpowers now and that the story of how they received was going to be told in upcoming annual. I told him that I was looking forward to that and he said that he was too, because they were going to have powers either way, even if he didn't tells the story of how they got them. Scoop!

Finally, I was able to get everything I brought for Geoff Johns and Jim Lee to sign. Due to the length of their line, I was able to get in a quick "Hey! Love Aquaman!" and "Thanks man!" from Geoff. Jim was a signing machine and was doing what he could to interact with folks outside of his signings before and after. I figured that my night was over when I looked over to the Veritgo signing to see Scott Snyder making a surprise appearance with Rafael. I took over what Batman and American Vampire books I had on me and got those signed. Scott recognized me as the guy who won the Constantine trench coat from last year and we ended up chatting for a few minutes about his upcoming Joker story in Batman. (editor's note: Scott Snyder has, perhaps, the best memory for people that I've ever encountered at a convention. He regularly remembers me after meeting me at the 2010 c2e2 and Tony even brought me up to Scott which prompted a demand that I attend NYCC because he misses me. So he even remembered me when I wasn't there. Super cool guy. - Scott Samson)

And that was my Preview Night. I'm getting ready to head down to the convention to experience Day One, but before I go, make sure to check the Review section of the site where I will try to post any panel recaps and news announcements that I see.

To be continued...

Tony's California Adventure: San Diego 2012 - And Here We Go

Hello everyone, and welcome to the beginning of my coverage of this year's San Diego Comic Con International! My name is Tony Randazzo, and this is my third straight year attending the convention. I've been shopping at The Fantasy Shop for 7 years now and have regaled the Florissant store with stories of panels that's attended, costumes that's saw, and autographs that I received. Rick asked me about documenting my experience this year for the site, so here we are!

When I'm asked to describe my experiences over the last two, I can only boil it down to one description. 

Sensory Overload. 

It is absolutely insane. Seriously. But enough on that. This year's show is promising a lot of big news updates about what the next step for DC Comics' re-launch, announcements on what to expect from Marvel Now!, and of course, announcements and information for new comic related movies along with video games, other movies, and television shows. 

The type of coverage that I will be providing will mostly come from the exhibition floor and the DC panels. Yeah, I'm a DC guy. I'm still planning on visiting Marvel's booth to see the Iron Man suits from the movies and whatnot, but you'll see mostly breaking DC news. Of course, I'll be scouring the exhibition floor for autographs for the 40+ books I brought with me and art prints and sketches from artists' booths and from artists' alley. I'll also be trying to nab any exclusive figures I can track down. 

In all, it's looking to be another sensory overload, but that's where the fun of it comes in! I'll be sharing not just words, but lots of photos from my experience for all to see. And maybe I can avoid bumping into Rich Johnston and accidentally leaking news to him while on the phone. Whoops. 

Keep checking in throughout the next five days to follow my journey through geek heaven, and make sure to check back tonight for my report on tonight's Preview Night. Until then, I'm taking a nap and getting recharged. Adios!