retsuko: (spoilers!)
Thursday!: Videos Games! Awesome Web Comics! A depressing panel that turned out OK! Talking with awesome people! )

Friday!: Defiance! Literary How-To's! Weird Outside Stuff! )

Saturday: We camped out in Room 8 for five hours! But the Adventure Time panel was worth it! Huzzah! )

Sunday!: Loose Ends of all varieties! )

General Thoughts:

~ The fundamentalists were more vocal and more... uhm, personal, this year, for lack of a better word. Last year, they just yelled about Jesus, but this year, their attacks were more Comic Con-specific, like the guy with a megaphone who shouted at all and sundry, "Don't let your souls be enslaved by comics!" (It took some willpower not to shout back, "Too late!") There were counter-protests, of course, and those looked unpleasant to referee. I tried to thank as many of the law enforcement people as I could when they weren't working or concentrating on other things; one of the transit security police officers looked surprised when I did, and confessed that he really wished he could go to the Con himself. (He wanted to meet Stan Lee for real, not just pay for an autograph.) As usual, even in the hoards of people, I never felt unsafe or afraid for my physical well-being once, and I think the SDPD is responsible in a large part for that.

~ For some reason, the crash after this Con was especially hard this year. The real world, as much as I love it, doesn't seem quite as interesting for the first few days afterwards, and today was no exception, with mundane chores and problems looming large.

~ There was a lot of zombie stuff--costumes, toys, images, etc.. It was not fun for me. I wish this trend would run its damned course.

~ There were times when the Exhibit Hall didn't seem as crowded as usual, and I couldn't figure out if it was actually truly empty, or I had just gotten really, really good at making my way through the knots of people. It is a lot easier when it's just me, and I tend to stay out of the central scrum of the big companies and their lines, but I could have sworn there were times when there were swathes of empty space, and that's an oddity.

~ The overall theme of this year's Con ended up being something along the lines of, "Crazy Contradictions!" It was personified best in the juxtaposition of the Christian Comic Arts Association booth next to the Killer Zombie Bunnies booth in the Small Press area. Comic Con often leaves me with the aftertaste of sweet and sour. On one hand, there's a pure interest in comics and reading that makes my heart sing, but on the other, there's a crass commercialism that manifests itself in the crazy-long lines for the exclusive toys and vinyl collectibles that makes me alternately groan and grumble. Comic Con is the only place where I can wear my Kate Beaton t-shirt and people not only compliment me on it, but also want one themselves. Comic Con is also the place where my phobia is everywhere, all the time, and I have to make compromises with myself to get past it, but it's also the place where many, many people I admire (both real and fictional) are front and center, and I can draw on their words and examples to give me strength. There's beautiful art, and there's the cheesiest of cheesecake, side by side; in fact, there are Charles Dickens-esque contrasts every two feet or so. It's sublime and ridiculous, and I love almost all of it, even as I realize that what I love is what some other attendees hate. But that's the beauty of multiple fandoms, and when they're all present and not in conflict, it's just completely awesome.

Pictures are here, updated with Saturday stuff. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera on Sunday, so no extra photos. Still, lots of good ones, though. :)
retsuko: (cool yuuko)
They're here! More to come tomorrow and Sunday, of course, followed by an actual report of what went down for me. :D
retsuko: (moko sake!)

General caveat: This year, I'm not doing anything Hall H, and I'm thinking Ballroom 20 is out of the question, too, due to the general level of hysteria surrounding the line to get in there. :(

Thursday )

Friday )
retsuko: (spoilers!)
In some ways, I'm really glad it's over... and in others, I'm not.

In the "Not Happy" category, I have the issue that there are problems that have to be dealt with NOW and that I put off thinking about completely for four days. Most of these are long-term issues that are jostling for short-term attention, and as usual, sorting through them takes patience and time, which are entities that I don't have in large supply at the moment. (As Shanghai Vixen quoted to me this morning, "Temporary battles will take up half your life.") There's also a huge letdown now that comes with having to realign myself to the reality that I'm no longer in a space where people will necessarily "get" my nerdy t-shirt or quotation. There's also a political re-calibration that will need to take place, too, when it comes to disclosing how much of a fan I am or not, depending on the conversation or the people involved. (Of course, disclosing what I'm a fan of at the Con was a separate decision-making process in and of itself!)

On the plus side, of course, in real life, there aren't any crazy lines for fun things. My feet are slowly recovering, hindered only by a blister in a weird and uncomfortable spot between my toes. We probably spent a little more money than we should have, although as usual, we didn't go anywhere near as crazy as we could have. (Yebisu's interest in the collectible sculptures only seems to extend to looking at them and fantasizing about the Manly Den of Manliness that he will have someday.)

This year, I was especially proud that we didn't come out of the whole thing feeling as exhausted as we have in years past. In fact, getting up early wasn't a problem because we are so used to doing it now, at R.'s insistence. But we were really judicious about leaving when we felt tired, and not stretching things out past the proverbial point of no return. We've also gotten much savvier at negotiating the Exhibit Hall floor and judging what will be popular enough to avoid, so mega kudos to us!

Further chat about conversations overheard, fundies, goddamn zombies, and interacting with small children. )

In short form:

Best Free Stuff: The Dalek hat, hands down. Even though wearing it was a little tricky (it didn't balance quite right and swayed on my head quite a bit, like a posture test), I got a lot of compliments and envious looks from other Con goers. How I ended up getting it was a complete fluke, since I think [profile] figgy_newton unintentionally cut through a line, but wound up with one anyway. The poor BBC America staffer looked a bit shellshocked/stressed when he handed me two.

Worst Free Stuff: The stale box of supposedly "fresh!" popcorn I got from a Fandango snack wagon outside the Convention Center.

Most Earnest Free Stuff: On Sunday morning, while Yebisu and I were waiting for the Adventure Time exhibit to open up, a group of women came along, handing out sequined tiaras to promote a children's book along the lines of Harry Potter. I could tell that unlike other swag, these things were hand-made, and I suspect that this was the author's family, trying to promote his work. I wore it on the front of my Vader baseball cap and got several compliments on it.

Pop Culture Entity We're All Going to Be Sick of This Time Next Year: The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot. There was so much promotional material for this, and the whole thing reeked of desperation--even the freebie comic I got featured the toys, not actual drawings, as if the studio thought, "Holy crap, we have to promote this! Someone, do something that will help us sell stuff!" The clips from the cartoon feature shoddy animation without any subtext or soul. Angels and ministers of grace, defend us.

Costuming Trends: Steampunk Everything. I saw steampunk Batman and Poison Ivy, general steampunk costumery, and even a steampunk crow sitting on a woman's shoulder. There were a ton of Avengers (of course) and lots of Thor/Loki, in male and female form. For younger boys, there were a lot of Finn's as well as the de rigeur Batmen/Supermen/Spidermen. For girls, there were more than a few My Little Ponies, Fionna's (YAY!), and Disney princesses.

2013... here we come?!? I'd be happy to go again. I just have no idea what form that's going to take, but I definitely hope we can get there again.
retsuko: (Default)
This Sunday was spent in two ways: 1) the Adventure Time Children's Museum Installation, and 2) wandering through the Exhibit Hall for one final hurrah.

First, the AT installation: in one word, awesome! )

And then there was wandering on the Exhibit Hall floor: Getcher autographs here! Step right up and meet our renowned artists! One draws Cthulu, the other draws butterflies! )

Due to camera malfunction, there are no pictures from today. But if you missed the others, they're all here!

I'll try to do a write-up on the whole experience in the next few days, but I do have to say that it really was quite fun and I do not regret any of our time there. :D
retsuko: (yay doctor!)
OMG, Saturday! )

My thoughts on cosplay, let me share them here: )

As usual, if you're only interested in the pictures, they're here.

Tomorrow: The Children's Museum Adventure Time installation! Nothing else specific! Likely Xmas/birthday shopping! And the inevitable event horizon of I've Had Enough Con Thank You.
retsuko: (moko sake!)
In general, things I am loving this year: people and conversations over the most random of things. With a few exceptions, it's been a big fannish love fest so far.

Things I am not loving: The number of zombies and zombie-related crap. And the Christian group that has brought megaphones with them and yells at us every time we go in or out of the convention center about how Jesus Christ died for our sins and we are worshipping false idols. Yesterday, a lone guy tried to engage them in debate by yelling back, "This is NOT the way to convert people!" but had no effect.

Specifically, Thursday: )

And also Friday: )

For those who just want to see the pictures, check them out here.

Tomorrow: Adventure Time panel! I will be in costume all day! Hopefully reconnecting with some friends! Stay tuned!
retsuko: (FTW!)
There are a bunch of internet acronyms that I'm tempted to use here about my general mood now, but they're not quite encapsulating of how I feel about the Con and this Sunday's experience.

OMG: So. Much. Fun! (I had a great time this year, even though it was tempered by having a small child at home who needed attention immediately when we got back and insisted on waking up early every morning of the Con. This experience made for a great "stay-cation".)

OMG: So. Many. People! (OMG OMG OMG. I don't mind crowds, and as usual, this was a fairly benign group of people, but it was intimidating to get stuck in the middle of scrums on the Exhibit Hall floor, and I did get antsy towards the end of the whole affair, but this always happens. I couldn't get near many of the really big booths and I did witness a fairly unpleasant frenzy over Conan the Barbarian t-shirts at the Lionsgate booth, which could have been easily avoided with some line management.)

OMGWTFBBQ: So many people in costumes this year wearing very uncomfortable looking shoes. I saw some heels that I just couldn't believe; walking around the floor in 6-inchers? Really? For how long?

WTF: The tickets for next year thing. The lines. I passed one line of people at the Star Wars booth today and asked what they were waiting for. The last guy answered me: "The new "Old Republic" game demo. We're waiting two hours for three minutes of gameplay." I tried to be polite and not gape at them, but I think I gaped a little. I understand loving games and geeky things, but there's a real problem with his statement.

o_0/Slightly annoying: Amongst the freebies, there are a ton of totes and bags that turn out to be enormously useful the rest of the year for moving, grocery shopping, etc. However, this year, the great majority of these bags were poorly/cheaply made and I saw a lot of them falling apart with even just a little use on the floor. I understand we're in a recession and some companies didn't want to go for broke, but there's being generous, and there's being cheap, and this fell squarely into the "cheap" camp. Likewise, the annoying trend for free downloads of book samplers, instead of the physical samplers themselves. I count on the book samplers for reading in lines for panels, and I was hard pressed this year to find any at all! (Penguin Group came through in the end with not one, but FOUR samplers that I heartily enjoyed.)

OMGYAY: Getting to meet new talent (Tori Davis, who did an excellent commission sketch for me--she is so talented and her work is just amazing!) and seeing old acquaintances (like Tammy Stellanova & Ryan Clayton).

-_-;;/Sad Things: There was a genuine air of desperation for many people on the industry end of things. I heard a lot of talk about being unemployed or partially employed for long periods of time; everyone was concerned about the general state of the industry and its chances. I was also saddened at some of the unpleasantness that I overheard on the floor. More people were rude to one another than in previous years, and there was a lot of talking back to authority figures, who I thought were mostly pretty relaxed, considering the challenges they were faced with. I was also a little lonely for old, personal friends who couldn't make it for one reason or another.

But there were so many awesome things to counteract the sad ones, and the experience was excellent overall. I had a really fun time observing children today. One kid, at the XBox Kinect Star Wars booth, was just itching to get his turn at the game and went through all the motions himself before he even got into the demonstration. There was another very funny moment a few days ago, too, when I was about to go back into the Exhibit Hall and was passed by a man and a boy of about seven. I got the impression that the man was trying to be a Cool Uncle. The kid declared, "Let's go back and buy MORE TOYS!" and the wannabe Cool Uncle's face lost a bit of its color. In other kid-related developments, [ profile] yebisu9 commented that he was really happy to see so many girls and young women dressing up as Jedi, and I liked that, too: there's a lot of power in those characters and I think a lot of young women really respond to that well. It was a nice balance to the Sucker Punch sailor-suited girls who were wandering around the hall.

In the end, though, what really makes me the happiest about this whole experience, is that it boils down to a celebration of reading, and the reasons reading makes everyone's lives better. Even though some people are there for JUST the movies or the vinyl toys, there are many more who aren't, and every kid who goes home with a free comic book or sampler is going to go home and *read* it, and that's a gateway. And I can't think of many other occasions where reading is as celebrated and valued. :)

Pictures are updated and annotated here. Thanks for reading!
retsuko: (harry)
I want to write a very serious piece about why this movie is excellent, and you should drop everything and go and see it, but whenever I try to picture this serious bit of writing, my fannish side takes over and there's a lot of capslock and squeeing. I enjoyed this so much, and even though the franchise is "over," I'm not depressed or feeling as if I'm lacking something; it's more of a hopeful satisfaction, coupled with the knowledge that there are some excellent books/movies out there on the horizon. This isn't the end, by any means. It's a beginning, and that's what the movie left me with: a sense of beginning, of purpose.

Further introspective nerdery follows! )

So, overall, a highly satisfying movie experience, and worth us paying the outrageous theater ticket prices and the babysitter.

Trailer Park: I only add this to ask: did anyone else see the trailer for "The Dark Knight Rises"? I couldn't understand a word Commissioner Gordon said, and the rest of the trailer was very confusing. Are they following the graphic novel plot or not? And, yeah... Bane. I have no opinion one way or another. (Side funny note: The trailer for "Cowboys & Aliens" warned: "Contains depictions of the consumption of tobacco." Really, MPAA, clutch those pearls much? I think there are far more scandalous things to warn for, in that movie, and in others.)

Movie Walk Out!

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011 08:49 am
retsuko: (eels in the photobooth)
There's an interesting essay over on The Onion's A.V. Club page about whether you should be able to ask for a refund from a theater if you don't like the movie. I've never, ever walked out of a movie, although I have received refunds and free tickets from a theater when there were projector problems (in the case of one of the "The Mummy" films, the movie was so bad anyway that the projector breaking down didn't really bother me; in the case of "Doubt", I did notice a strange shadow on the screen throughout the whole film, and was pleased that the manager of the theater was waiting at the exit, freebie tickets in hand and apology at the ready.)

There have certainly been movies that I wanted to walk out of, but didn't do so because I was with someone else. For example, "Event Horizon" was awful and gross, but I was with a friend who didn't seem bothered by the content, so I just waited for it to be over. (After the movie, a guy in front of us was going on and on about how great it had been, and my friend and I walked to our car, silent. After a long while, she said, "I wish I could have seen the movie he saw, because it sounded really cool.") "Mortal Combat 2" was so laughably terrible that I couldn't take seriously at all; it also helped that the theater was filled with drunken frat boys who kept screaming "MORTAL COMBAAAAATTTT!!!" at every conceivable opportunity. The film itself was horrifically stupid, but the viewing atmosphere was fabulous. And the part of me that doesn't like hyper-violence wishes I had walked out of "Kill Bill, Part 1", because, well, I just can't un-see things.

But, in general, I feel like asking for a refund from the theater itself is counter-productive. The staff didn't make the film; they're just showing it to you. You're paying for the opportunity to sit in the theater and watch a movie, not comment on its content. If you want to vote with your dollars, shouldn't you have already done so before walking into a movie? There are plenty of reviews out there that will tell you if the film is your cup of tea, and even though I think the ratings system is deeply flawed, at least it gives you some indication of what you're about to see. But perhaps I am overthinking it. I know that some people just walk into a movie, judging it by its poster and crossing their fingers. Do they get a refund if they don't like the content?

[Poll #1761434]

I try to come up with a straight answer to this and keep going around in circles. Say there was a scene in the movie that you were utterly unprepared for, even after doing research and reading reviews; would that warrant a refund demand? And how soon is said refund demand appropriate--10 minutes into the movie? 20? The end? There's a detail of the social contract here that I'm definitely confused about.

In all honesty, there are other matters that I feel far more inclined to complain about at the theater, most notably the exceedingly overpriced popcorn and candy. And, then, of course, there are the movies that I WISH I could have walked out of, because they were unpleasant ("American Beauty"--how I despise that film) or boring ("Meet Joe Black" = UGH). Anyway, given how rarely I get to theaters now, I hope never to walk out of a movie and plan to do my review-reading homework as diligently as possible.
retsuko: (girl reading)
After swearing to myself that I wouldn't get into Naruto (because the manga is up to Vol. 51; it's hugely popular, and I'm a bit of a snob about that sometimes; because there are several feature films that have nothing to do with the main plot and everything to do with merchandising and making money, etc. etc.) I picked up the manga and read a few chapters and I was hooked. It's an odd experience, made slightly more surreal because I'm simultaneously watching the anime and switching between them when the plot in one gets dull or I run out of volumes from the library. (With the anime, I'm also at the mercy of what's on Netflix instant view, so I'll probably have to stop before Shippuden starts.) A very entertaining experience, of course, but an odd one nonetheless. I keep thinking to myself "I wish this were paced a whole hell of a lot differently!" Also: "Why don't the female characters get more time in the spotlight?!" Both these questions are easily and annoyingly answered: Because it's a shounen manga, and I am not the target audience. Still: when you're juggling *four* important battles occurring in as many separate locations, and decide to parcel each one out, piece by piece in each episode and chapter, it's a bit frustrating. And when you have the main female character decide she's going to start kicking ass and taking names instead of being a hanger-on, it would be nice if you were to continue to have that character development stay developed, instead of evaporating instantly after the need for it has vanished.

Still, for all my complaining, I really do like this manga/anime. It's exciting, and the random ninja powers are very compelling to try and guess before they come into combat. For the most part, the animation company didn't cheap out on the fight sequences (yay!) and the voice-acting is great.

Further fannish babblery, with spoilers up to Vol. 18 of the manga, ensues. )

Still, for all of my questions and grumblings about pacing, this is satisfying and fun. Despite knowing the resolution for one of the major plot points (thanks a lot, interblag), I'll stick around for the rest, as long as there aren't too many filler episodes along the way.

On the complete opposite side of the spectrum, I read the delightful The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie, which made me run to the library to borrow whatever volumes of the Little House books that they had on hand (I ended up with By the Shores of Silver Lake and The Long Winter.) Wendy McClure's book is an excellent introduction to Laura/Little House fandom, and although I loved the books as a child, I cannot see churning butter or making haysticks by hand as McClure ended up doing in an effort to connect further with the material. She chronicles all aspects of Laura-dom, from the fans who are obsessed with the TV show to the slightly creepy church groups who try to live "off the grid" because they think the End Times are upon us. She also traces the geographical locations of the books and pieces together the real chronology of the events in the books, which was slightly altered by Laura and her daughter, Rose, in order to make for a more interesting story. I don't want to give away all the wonderful and juicy details in this book, but if you ever had even a tangential relationship to this series, this book is something you should take a look at.

As I said, reading it made me think back to the ways I loved the books as a child. I could recite the events of some of the books almost perfectly ("And then, Ma slapped the cow to make it go into the barn, but it turned around and looked at her and she saw that it was a BEAR!") and I was privately ecstatic every time Laura was victorious over her rival, Nellie Olsen (whose character turns out to be a composite of three women/girls Laura knew and disliked. Ouch!) I also sympathized with Laura when she didn't want to sit still and sew, like her good older sister, Mary. Actually, what these books really gave me was a sense of perspective. I might get mad with my parents for not letting me buy jelly shoes or take horseback riding lessons, but they didn't expect me to be "seen and not heard" or be entirely quiet on Sundays. I also realized that I had it pretty good; my father was not in danger of freezing to death on the way home from work, and our food supply didn't depend on what he could shoot or harvest. It was sobering, and I was a serious little kid.

On the serious side, though, I was always pretty freaked out at the racist language/action in the books. (McClure, in her book, spends quite a lot of time trying to speak to this, too.) It was mortifying to read about Pa, who was otherwise a smart and dignified character, dressing up in blackface to entertain the townsfolk. It was also pretty sad to read Ma's talk about those "dirty Indian half-breeds." I remember skipping these parts when I was reading the books myself, thinking that I was smarter than that and didn't need to waste my time on such stupidity. (My mother, when she read these aloud to me, must have said something as well, but I cannot remember what it was.) I especially remember being disgusted with Laura as a character and a person when she said she didn't want women to have the right to vote. Now that I read the books again, it's sort of disillusioning. Pa and Ma are not the saintly characters they were when I was kid--they're real people, and their flaws are floating around near the surface and I'm annoyed that I didn't see that before. Laura was raised in an extremely conservative way, and my disappointment in her anti-suffrage talk was probably my proto-feminism rearing its head.

But this reading experience is like lying on your back in the ocean, letting the waves pick you up and carry you. Wilder's words are simple, but the pictures she paints (with the help of the lovely Garth Williams illustrations) are complete and encompassing. I feel like I'm standing next to Laura as the story unfolds, or riding with her on her cousin's wild ponies. And it's impossible to dislike her as a character: she's curious, bright, and honest. Being a pioneer girl was tremendously taxing and, at times, terrifying. Reading these books, whenever I read them, is a transporting experience, and whatever problems they have, I do like to be transported.
retsuko: (gert w/ dinosaur)
I simply cannot believe that it's over. At least this year, I knew that there would be that a sense of "Oh, the real world is boringly mundane compared to this!" It felt weird to be downtown again the next day, but without any sense of impending fun, just work.

The highlights: As always, the highlights were seeing friends (yay, [ profile] ashears and [ profile] psychoe!) and the smaller, lower key areas of the Con, like the Small Press area, the Independent Press tables, and Artist's Alley. The contact with artists and writers that those places allows is just amazing and personal, and it's something that I cannot get anywhere else at any other time of year. It's one thing to read a favorite web comic, but it's another to tell the artist what you think and have him respond in just the way you hoped. And it's great to find some awesome vendor selling neat artwork who you hadn't known about before, but there they are. And, most amazing of all, it's wonderful to hear about technique from people involved in almost every part of production. I had a very interesting conversation with a woman in Artist's Alley about her job inking, and how difficult that truly is.

The other tremendous highlight is the simple pleasure of nerdish comradeship. [ profile] psydolivia and I were sitting in a park on Wednesday afternoon last week, waiting for things to get started, and another woman saw O's t-shirt and said in a friendly tone, "Hey, Browncoat Girls!" This is the one time out of the year when people get the references on my t-shirts or pins, and appreciate them (or at least don't actively mock them.) I say that I recharge my nerd batteries, and that sounds a little facetious, but it's true: each year, I leave the Con feeling better for having been there, and like I can tackle whatever's coming up in the following year because I got my nerdish persona on.

Best Swag: I got one of the HUGE BBC America bags with Doctor Who on one side, but this was mostly because I asked for it nicely and didn't pester the staff at the booth. (I kept missing the times when they were actually handing them out.)

The "lowlights": Moderating skills, learn you some! )

Hallmark Cards Ruined ComiCon. )

On being at the Con while pregnant and looking to the years ahead: I had been antsy about attending while pregnant and quickly tried to get a bead on where disability services was in relation to where I was. (Not that I am disabled, of course, but the program did clearly state there was a rest area for nursing and expectant mothers.) But for the most part, I was careful and it paid off. I didn't ever get the point where I was so exhausted I had to sit down or felt dizzy; I kept hydrated and ate lots of little snacks along the way. Probably, if this had happened a little later in the pregnancy, I would have had a worse time of it.

Of course, I was mindful of the "end product", so to speak, as [ profile] yebisu9 and I strategized about what we would do next year. (This year was our last time to do all four days.) I encountered a woman with her 5-month-old, who assured me several times that "coming to the Con with a little one is fine! He's no trouble!" As she was saying this, the kid was starting to wail, and not the "oh, I am fussing for attention now, and will stop soonish" kind of cry, but a serious "you're gonna PAY" cry. I thought this woman had a somewhat unrealistic view of the situation, although it was nice that she was trying to be kind to me. But, frankly, I saw far too many people with very, very young children (the youngest being 8 weeks old!). And I will try not to be horribly judgmental with this next sentence, but: Kids younger than five should not attend the Con. (Oh, who am I kidding? That was totally judgmental. Well. Anyway.) There's far too much for them to take in, and making other attendees contend with their tantrums, strollers, and assorted kid paraphernalia is not fair to any of the involved parties, including the kid. This is not to say that I want a militantly childfree stance on the part of the Con, and I understand there are parents who do make it work (although at their own great expense). I do realize that the Con offers childcare, too. But I think that some parents really need to reevaluate their own entitlement to a fannish experience, especially in respect to simple courtesy to other participants--a screaming child in a small panel or a double stroller in the Exhibit Hall is not acceptable.

As for the rampant speculation about where the Con will end up after the contract ends in 2012: if it goes anywhere else, that's it. We won't attend anymore. We can't afford the tickets AND the hotel AND the parking/travel costs AND the food in another city. (I do realize we've been tremendously lucky until this point.) If it stays, we will definitely continue going, although likely in a much truncated fashion, as we'll be dependent on the goodwill of Grammy and Grandpa to look after Little Squeak.

Still, screaming kids, rampant capitalism, and extreme fatigue aside, it was entirely worth it. I had so much fun, and I cannot wait to go again next year, in whatever way I can.
retsuko: (ded)
The gallery is here! I realized how much I wanted a better camera this year, so as to better capture the crazy that is the Con.


First up was the Marvel panel, run by Joe Quesada (editor-in-chief) and some of his minions, whose names have escaped me. Quesada swore up and down that the merger with Disney was the Best Thing Ever to Happen to Their Little Company and that no creative control was being meddled with. (But guess what? There's a tie-in comic with the new Disney film Tron: Legacy coming out in October, which everyone was Very Excited about!) As is probably obvious from the preceding sentences, I really didn't give a damn about this panel one way or another. But it did lead to some of the most hilarious quotes I heard during the entire Con:

Quesada on a new Incredible Hulk title, coming out in September: "There'll be a lot of smashing in this one... yeah, lots of things smashed. It'll be really cool."

One of the scriptwriting/artists minions, in response to an audience question from two guys in costume who asked, "Why are Captain America and Iron Man hoarding all the knowledge of [unintelligible]?": "Uhm... you do realize that Captain America and Iron Man aren't real, right?"

Guy in the audience, ecstatic over an announcement of a certain character's return: "YEAH! Rocky Rac-Coon! Woooo!!"

This panel was quickly followed by the far superior and more entertaining Quick Draw, featuring Sergio Aragones (of Mad magazine), Scott Shaw!, and William Stout doing improvisational drawing games. I actually got a couple of decent pictures this year of the drawings they did, which are in the gallery. Describing this panel is like trying to grab hold of a very determined and grouchy eel in a large tank of vaseline, especially given my tired state of mind, but here goes: This panel reminds me why we're all actually at the Con. It's because of comics and drawings and stories. Little improv sketches give way to crazy stories, and come with all sorts of tales and prompts that hint at the stories that inspired them. (My favorite running drawing game is "New Jobs for the Hulk", as suggested by the audience. This year they were Secretary, Janitor, and Astronomer.) This panel always makes me glad I spent the $$$ on the ticket in the first place, mostly because I get to spend some serious time in the presence of people who I think are creative, funny, and talented.

After this, I met with M. from Book Group and a friend of hers and we went out for drinks and non-Con airspace. It was very peaceful out in Seaport Village, and nice to talk fannish stuff.

Following lunch, I lurched my way back into the Exhibit Hall and realized, somewhat belatedly, that I had hit my wall, putting-up-with-the-Con-wise. The crowds were pretty crazy; I didn't feel like spending anymore money; and I kept running into people at the booths who were really into the hard sell, which is something I really don't appreciate. (No, I will not buy the 5$ compilation of the series that I stopped reading over 10 years ago; I stopped reading it for a reason. Yes, I would like to support your charity, but I cannot for the life of me remember what this guy's artwork looks like, and I don't want to commission something from someone I don't know.) I did have a very nice discussion with the women at the Bekyoot booth, who did not do the hard sell and seemed happy to have someone talk with them about their designs and their plans to expand into the babywear market.

[ profile] yebisu9 caught up with me around 5:00 and we decided that we had to have dinner or we both might do violence. Unfortunately, I think it was this decision that caused us to miss a good place in line for the Mythbusters panel: by the time we got back to the room, it was still an hour before panel time and the line snaked back away from the room, down the wall, and outside, where it curved and rounded back on itself so many times that we couldn't figure out how many people were actually waiting and if we had a chance to get in or not. In the end, I told Yebisu he could call it either way and he decided we should bail. (We read in the Con newsletter this morning that 2,000 people came to see it! No way would we have gotten into that!) So we went home and watched an episode of "Survivors" instead.

[Bonus report! Yebisu attended the "V" panel and provided the following information:
1) Morena Baccarin is GORGEOUS (well, duh, we already knew that);
2) Mr. Hawt Britishy Guy will be a series regular this next season; and
3) Anna's mother is named Diana and there will be a shot of her on the V home planet.]


Today's panel was the spotlight on Rick Riordan, author of the Percy Jackson books. And he was a gracious, articulate, and kind speaker, who fielded the questions from his youngest fans with great attention to detail. Overall, he didn't tell me anything especially new about the series and its creation, but his passion for writing and education really shone through, and it was a pleasure to hear him speak.

After that, [ profile] psydolivia and I wandered around the Exhibit Hall floor, where I fulfilled my final few quests of the Con, which were buying one more crazy fleece hat, procuring comic-themed baby clothes (Flash onesie! YAY!), and generally trying to soak it all in one more time. We met [ profile] psychoe and her friend, had lunch, saw [ profile] ashears one last time... and then my brain began the shut down process and I knew it was time to go. I would have loved to talk longer with everyone, but I could see the mental and physical storm clouds gathering, and I was determined to leave on a high note. One trolley ride and short drive later, we are home, and I am finding that I do, in fact, have a very painful blister and more free swag than I know how to deal with.

Sum-up post to follow, most likely tomorrow, when I've regained my brainpower. But whatever brainpower got drained, it was totally, 100% worth it. XD
retsuko: (comic book nerd)
Photos continue to be updated here!

Highlights of today were the Moto Hagio panel and the "Girls Gone Geek/Genre" panel, lunch with [ profile] ashears, and procurement of various fannish items that I'd been wanting. Compared to yesterday, the Exhibit Hall was more crowded, but still navigable.

[Side note: [ profile] ashears reports that she would be more interested in LiveJournaling were she not so full of Scotch. Given that she just completed work on the first part of her awesome awesome awesome magnum opus Blood Dreams, I would say that she has earned it.]

The Moto Hagio panel was fantastic, although sparsely attended (I'd say the room was only 1/3 full.) But the fans who were there made up for it with enthusiasm and great interest in Moto's work. (My favorite part of the whole thing was the older Japanese women in the audience who kept murmuring to one another that they'd adored Moto's work as a child and couldn't believe they were meeting their idol.) She brought examples of her earliest work and talked about what it was like to get her work published in the '70s. Apparently, the editors at Kodansha found her stories too dark for Nakayoshi (as she said, "in my stories, someone always dies") but the editors at Shogakukan loved her work and took all of her rejected works and published them. The compilation of her first work, The Poe Clan sold out of its 30,000 print run on the first day, which was what really got her career started. But despite success with readers, her parents never approved of her work and constantly pressured her to quit because being a manga artist was a "vulgar" job. She fielded questions about the serious and dark themes in her work (childhood sexual abuse, parental neglect, loneliness), stating that she's a very dark person sometimes and her art is very often personal. She also made an interesting comment on the current state of shoujo manga: "shoujo and shounen manga are young people's genres, written by young people", which I took as a very, very diplomatic statement about the shallowness in numerous, more popular/modern titles. And then she thanked everyone for coming and asked that we continue to read her stories, despite their depressing/dark nature. (By this point, I was already sold.) Later on, as she autographed my book, she smiled patiently at my somewhat fractured Japanese and was amused by the aku character on my hat. All in all, she was just wonderful. :)

The Girls Gone Geek/Genre panel was also great, but in a different way: you get a bunch of strong, capable women screen and comic book writers together, and you're bound to get some great discussion. However, the moderation of the panel was (for lack of a better word) moderate at best, and three of the panelists ended up running the show, while the others languished. (Much to the obvious annoyance of one, while the other had a better poker face.) The question of what degree of sexism is still running the show in Hollywood clearly weighed on their minds, and their solutions for dealing with it were as varied as they were. (There was the general consensus that the more you dress up in meetings with executive types, the more your "nerd cred" is questioned.) The weirdest thing about this panel, though, was the announcement of the related swag. An excited murmur from the audience! I hoped for some cool comic book extra from The Guild since Felicia Day was there, or maybe a t-shirt or something. But instead, the moderator, who's editor-in-chief of io9, said excitedly, "We have advance copies of I Am Number Four for everyone, a week before they come out!" Two days ago, io9 published a review of this same book, calling it "forgettable" and "dull". (The scathing review is here, if you're interested.) This was weird and strangely contradictory.

A. and I had lunch at the SyFy channel's themed restaurant, Cafe Diem, outside the Convention Center and down the street, and it was surprisingly good, considering that the entire breakfast menu was named after characters on "Caprica". We also got our photos taken at the Eureka photobooth, the best of which is in the picture gallery (above). EDIT to add: LJ is being stupid about adding this photo. Maybe later, when I feel like wrestling with it. :p

And then I wandered around the Exhibit Hall for a while, and it was glorious. I got Moto Hagio's autograph, as well as Tom Sidell's, and generally took it all in. People were in very good moods, for the most part, and even though the crowds were a little crazy, no one was complaining or shoving. (This has been the general Con standard every year I've gone.) I was tempted by a few crazy-expensive things, but held back on most stuff. (Except one excellent present for [ profile] yebisu9 that he has no idea about. Mwahaha!)

This year, more than ever before, I felt sad a few times I wasn't wearing a costume. I tried to figure this out: do I want the attention? (Errr... sort of? Not the scary kind, that's for sure.) Am I keen on one particular character's clothing and/or persona? (Can't figure this out yet.) I guess I had never craved that level of geekiness before, and I suppose I want it now, for whatever reason. That said, I know I would be such a perfectionist that it would take the whole intervening year to assemble the costume to my satisfaction.

Tomorrow: Quick Draw panel! Mythbusters! Staying off the Exhibit Hall floor if I can help it! Meeting with various awesome people! Stay tuned!

Comic Con 2010: Day 1

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010 07:52 pm
retsuko: (wink)
First of all, photos can be found here. Of course, I'll continue updating as the Con rolls along.

Day 1 started somewhat blearily, as decaf coffee really is no substitute for the real thing (but regular caffeine has to be rationed at the moment.) We ran several much needed errands before catching the trolley downtown. (The trolley is simply excellent, and I look forward to the day when it is actually convenient for me to use it on a regular basis.)

Of the three panels I attended today, two of them were literature-based and one was science-based. The science-based panel ("Iron Man and Rocket Men: Is Stark Industries an Appropriate Model for Private-Industry Space Exploration?") turned out to be very interesting and rather optimistic about the long-terms odds for continued space exploration, despite the current state of space science research funding here in the States. (In fact, there was general consensus amongst the panelists that space tourism would eventually become a financially accessible thing for many more people than it is now, and that private industry would help advance the cause much further than current government projects.) The literature-based panels were both equally interesting, but veered into dangerous conversational territory towards the ends. Each panel consisted of at least seven authors, which was one too many; I think the conversation would have been much more focused with just five. However, both panels produced interesting observations from their authors, and (as I expected) left me with a long list of new books to get my hands on.

[Short note: For the record, contrary to my previous impressions, Lev Grossman (author of The Magicians) does not appear to hate children's literature, or C. S. Lewis. I think he just wanted to push a lot of buttons.]

There was one especially awkward note in "The Power of Myth" discussion, though: one audience member asked how what the authors were doing was any different from fanfiction. (It had been established that all the authors had taken established mythological characters and rewritten their stories.) After a short moment of awkward laughter, and then silence, one author spoke up and said he thought the difference was "quality". An angry buzzing murmur went up from the audience, but before anything could happen, the moderator hastily ended the panel. The eternal fan/creator crisis was narrowly averted.

I also spent today doing one of my favorite things at the Con: walking the Small Press, Independent Press, and Artists' Alley areas. I got to chat with Ryan Clayton of Elephant Eater Comics who is kind enough to remember my name despite the fact I only see him once a year. He's turned his master's thesis into a combination essay/comic special release, and I am looking at a copy of it right now. I also met Tammy Stellanova, whose work is a beautiful and wonderfully detailed combination of comic narrative and scientific animal observation. Another great artist who patiently answered all my questions was Richard Peter Han, whose work is inventive, dynamic, and funny, without being forced or contrived. Finally, I commissioned a sketch from the always awesome Tracy Butler, who I think could get away with (read: should be) charging a lot more for her personality-filled and inspired drawings.

The running theme I've been overhearing this year in conversations between fans and artists, in practically every area of the Con, is "So, what's your day job?" Tammy Stellanova, for example, takes on commissions of pet portraits and freelance magazine work, all so she can keep on drawing for a living. But I've also heard it on the lips of people who I thought were seasoned professionals, veterans of the industry. This is somewhat sobering, because one of the things the Con always leads me to is the thought that being creative and living a creative life producing what you love should be its own reward. But this year, that idea's being sorely tempered by economic concerns. Still, I can't escape the fact that everywhere I turn at the Con, someone's reading something, or drawing something, or talking about something they've seen, read, or drawn. And I get this feeling in my heart that all's right with the world, money woes be damned.

Tomorrow: Moto Hagio panel! Girls Gone Genre panel! Hopefully meeting more of my favorite webcomic authors! More photos! More fighting with my wallet! Stay tuned!
retsuko: (going on my LJ)
Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Con has already paid for itself in one night. I met Peter S. Beagle and shook his hand. I learned that we both love the same Shakespeare sonnet. ("When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes...") I was able to tell him what I've been wanting to tell him for years: that if I can write 1/10th as well as he does, I will be proud of my work. He smiled and said that he genuinely feels the same way about certain authors years into his career.


I am trying to think of something more profound to say about this, but I am so completely happy right now that I've really got nothing to add. :)

The rumored cap of people on Preview Night was only somewhat effective. It wasn't as bad as the Exhibit Hall normally is, but there were still a few places where walking became very, very difficult. On the other hand, we did get to see the big booths, which was what I had been wanting to do. The Warner Brothers booth has each of the horcruxes and they look really, really cool. (Especially the Elder Wand!) Crazy freebies are already mounting up; it's impossible to stop the flow of stuff. My wallet and I are already having a fight about some really divine looking art and costumes.

More later, with pictures soon! Tomorrow: panels, Small Press area/Artist's Alley/OMG MORE NERDERY. XD
retsuko: (badass bookworm)
At the Movies:

The Karate Kid: Although parts of this movie look like they were put together from a China Tourism travel video (and that's not a particularly bad thing, on the big screen), the final product is entirely satisfying, if a bit predictable. Jackie Chan's performance is restrained and careful, and it fits his character, the down-on-his-luck kung fu/wushu master Mr. Han, who's been masquerading as a handyman at an apartment complex in Beijing and hiding his sorrows in pointless projects. I thought Jaden Smith was quite good, all things considered; he has an immensely appealing face and he played his role just to the point of whininess, but never over the top. (One of the criticisms I've read of this movie is that he cried too much, which is a patently cruel thing to say. If I were a 12-year-old boy dealing with culture shock, an international move, and other kids beating me up within an inch of my life, I would cry, too!) The villain is of the vaudeville school of badness; I half-expected him to show up at the final competition wearing a handlebar mustache and a black cape. All in all, it's a good story, and only stumbles a few times. Like most movies these days, judicious editing could have made the entire endeavor about 20 minutes shorter, without much detriment to the main story.

Far more entertaining in the long run has been my Dad's reaction to this movie. We coaxed him out of the house to come and see it with us, and I was very surprised that he accepted the invitation in the first place. (Lately, movies are all "too long" and "too loud" and he hates "those stupid commercials at the beginning".) But he came, and he really, really enjoyed it. To the point that he went home and did research on all the kung fu in the movie, and manages to bring up the fact that the crane stance is a difficult/dangerous position to take in a fight about once a conversation now. So, on good authority: The Karate Kid is truly fun for the whole family!

Inception: Talking about this without spoiling it will be hard, because really, this movie is one gigantic spoiler for itself. In the vaguest of terms, this is a film about industrial-level dream espionage. Agents set up a dream and trick the dreamer into sharing his/her deepest secrets, thus "extracting" the ideas and selling them to the highest bidder. But more difficult than extracting the ideas is placing them in the subject's brain, making them think that the alien idea is their own. Our hero is given the proverbial "one last job" if he can manage to accomplish this very tricky, specific task. It's a heist movie that takes places within layers of layers of dreams.

What this movie does really well is replicate the strange, arbitrary nature of dreams. One moment, our heroes are trying to escape a gunfight, the next, they're in a swanky hotel, and later on, they'll be on staircases that end abruptly, or in an Alberta ski lodge. And it all makes sense--even a freight train coming out of nowhere on a busy city street with no train tracks, because hey, it's a dream, and these things happen. This movie also captures the obsessive "need to know" that grips many of my dreams. (Despite the fact that danger lurks behind every door, Dream!Me always opens them, because I get this feeling that there's something really, really important there and if I don't find out what it is, something even worse will happen.) Numbers, facts, stories--all of these perfectly plausible in the dream-scape, no matter what's truly behind them.

But it's what truly behind this movie where some of the bad stuff starts coming up. Spoilers to follow, and very likely, big ones at that. )

There is some gorgeous camerawork in this movie, and a fight sequence that simply must be seen to be believed. I do think this film owes a great debt to the wonderful anime Paprika, and I wish it had had some of the same surreal imagery (although, arguably, you can do things in animation that you can't do in real life, even with special effects.) And despite any storytelling failings, I do wish that more action movies were this ambitious, intellectually. I didn't feel like I was wasting my time while I was watching this, like I do with a lot of action movies. And I loved that until the very last frame of the movie, I was guessing which part of the story was true.


Survivors, Series 1: Why does the BBC produce such high-quality dramas with so few episodes in a season, and then abandon them after just one or two seasons? My frustration with this title is especially keen because it's so good; nothing and no one in it is exclusively "good" or "evil". Everything is in shades of grey, some darker than others. The premise, that 90 to 95% of earth's population is wiped out by a virus in a two-week time span, is a chilling one and a lot of the first episode is dealing with this plague, and assembling the main characters into something resembling a family. What follows is at times fable, cautionary tale, and a retelling on many levels of Lord of the Flies. But I like the main characters, and I genuinely want them to succeed. And I am annoyed that even as we start Series 2, that's ALL we will get, because the BBC cancelled the whole thing this March after the last episode aired. Rats! I know I'm going to want to know what happens next!
retsuko: (deep confusion)
Tonight, [ profile] yebisu9 and I watched The Wolfman, which had a plot that can be best described as "murky". Normally, when this sort of thing happens, I wonder just how many screenwriters were in on the creative process and where the ideas got too mixed up to work anymore. In this case, there were only two screenwriters, but they were basing the script off the Lon Chaney original, and on top of that, there were four producers. Too many cooks syndrome, most definitely. The results were... kind of mixed. The atmosphere that the production cooked up was top-notch: creepy moors with lingering fingers of fog; gorgeous costumes and score; cavernous country houses with dramatic-looking staircases; and a scene set in an "asylum" that sets a new low in the history of mental health care. But the story dragged on and on, and Anthony Hopkins seemed to be phoning his performance in. I swear, in every scene he was in, he was thinking about his laundry, or what he'd had for dinner the night before, or something else other than the action at hand. Done right, this would be scary and psychopathic-seeming, but it just felt distracted/distracting. As usual, with a boring main plot like this, I wanted to focus on the side characters instead, particularly in devising a sequel where the love interest (played with steely propriety by Emily Blunt) and the inspector from Scotland Yard (Hugo Weaving) forge an unlikely monster-fighting relationship after getting a handle on how best to deal with his impending lycanthropy problem. (He's the last bitten.) That would be a movie I'd happily pay to see, and not wait for the DVD from Netflix.

And, speaking of adaptations, there's a rumor afoot of a live-action version of the manga Rurouni Kenshin. I'm very fond of this manga, and its various anime adaptations, but I have my sincere doubts that it could be successfully turned into a satisfying live-action movie. For one thing, there are too many characters to include in a 90-minute movie; quite a few of them would have to be excised to create a workable script. And this is sad, because one of this story's strengths is its ensemble cast and their interactions with one another. (I think this would be yet another movie where the plot would be better served by being carved into a 12-episode mini-series.) Another point of contention would be which arc of the story to turn into the main movie plot. (This is a 28-volume manga epic.) I would like to see some part of the Kyoto arc, but that means we'd have to put up with the villain of that arc, who really, really gets on my nerves. On the plus side, there's the part of the rumor that Watsuki (the creator) held out on offers from Hollywood studios (YAY!) until he got an offer from a company that promised to devote enough $$$/yen to recreate the CGI effects necessary to bring to life the original style of martial arts he created for the manga. Anyway, over on the newsgroup, casting rumors and suggestions are flying back and forth, but I think I won't weigh in on this until there's some actual footage/confirmation from official PTB on this.

In other fannish news, the schedules for Comic Con Thursday and Friday are up. Specific Panel Babblery Follows. )
retsuko: (book love)
Quite recently, I had the pleasure of spending time with a rambunctious 6-year-old after calming him down with a game of "soccer" that largely consisted of me kicking the ball far away so he would wear himself out running and getting it. We went inside and he declared that he was bored. I located some scrap paper and markers, and his eyes lit up. He started drawing "The Adventures of Lego Batman", which took the form of an elaborate drawing of a complicated level ("Level 10!"), complete with villains, traps, and the consequences of those traps (fire and acid.) Somewhere along the line, he started to narrate the action of the drawing to me in bits and pieces. It went something like this:

Him: Which Bad Guy should be next?
Me: What about the Joker? He's pretty bad.
Him: (enthusiastic) Yeah! I can't beat him yet!
Me: Where's Harley Quinn? She's always with the Joker.
Him: Oh, yeah. (drawing) She's right there. They're kissing. Yuck.

And, later:

Him: How do you think Batman will escape this trap?
Me: Can he use his glide suit?
Him: NO! Now he's caught in the trap! FIRE! (He draws flames coming out of a volcano mouth, does BWWRRRRR sound effects.) OH NO BATMAN!

And, still later:

Him: (Now utterly oblivious of me) Now there's fire! Batman tries to dodge! But he's not fast enough! (More sound effects, more scribbling of red ink) He barely made it! Now Robin's going to try! (Various sound effects) Oh no, he lost a heart! They're on the other side! But WAIT--it's a pool of acid! OH NO! (Sound effects of, presumably, Batman and Robin trying to evade the acid and saying "ow ow ow!", more scribbling of green marker this time.) OK, now they're nearly at the end. But wait, it's the Penguin! And Mr. Freeze! And ANOTHER TRAP! (etc. etc.)

I always enjoy watching kids enjoying being creatively involved with things--whether it's art of their own creation or art in other forms. As an adult, even when I write my original fiction, it's very seldom that I get into it the way kids do. I may pause and frown over what the characters will do to get themselves out of one scrape or the next, but I don't usually talk back to my keyboard, worrying over how the bad guys have constructed their plots. It's usually when I read books that my child-like instincts to talk back and negotiate with the characters finally come to the fore. In her wonderful book on creativity, Lynda Barry talks about this dichotomy of the way children and adults experience making art: "When kids draw, they make sound effects or start talking out a story that seems to be happening live, as they draw. There is a change of place and time. Another world contained by this one. They seem to be both in it and watching it. When I'm reading a good book, it's like that. Another world activated. I picture it. I move around in it. I can tell you what happens at the end. I can tell you the whole story." With my original fiction, I can most definitely tell you the whole story, and usually throw in details about characters and settings that others aren't interested in and I've deemed unimportant, but hate to throw away. But I miss the sensation of drawing, the feeling of being in a story and watching it at the same time.

That's why I love books that manage to recreate that child-like instinct in me to talk back to the story, and give me the feeling that I am experiencing it and watching it simultaneously. Not every book manages to do this, and of course different books do it for different people. I think my great loyalty to the Harry Potter series stems from feeling this, while some people dislike it because to achieve that feeling, they would have to employ too much suspension of disbelief. Recently, though, I've had the great good fortune to read a string of books that left me talking back to the pages, culminating with The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. This deceptively thin volume (well, thin for a novel that I would normally pick up, say about 300 pages or so) provoked all the "involved in/watching right now" feelings that I adore as I worried about the character(s) and the outcome of the terribly disturbing plot that revolved around her/them. I talked back to the pages on several occasions, including one where I had to censor myself because I was in public and I didn't think dropping the F-bomb next to a pair of sweet-looking elderly people would be polite. And, above all, I can tell you that story. I pictured it, I moved around in it, and it was a complete and total sensory experience, including some senses that most authors cannot usually pinpoint well, like hunger and thirst. A wonderful book, scary and beautiful and alive. Part of me wants to see it in some kind of movie form, while part of me fears how Hollywood would mess it up. (You just can't *show* some of the things she's writing about!)

In sum, I adore reading experiences like this one, because suddenly I'm a kid again, drawing along and participating in a story that seems as real or vivid as any life experience. This kind of imaginative state of being isn't as prevalent as it used to be, and the less I have it, the more I crave it.

May 2016

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