Pipeline: Pipeline - San Diego 2006, Day Zero

Thu, July 20th, 2006 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Augie De Blieck Jr., Columnist

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CBR's Coverage of Comic-Con International, 2006 is sponsored by:

THE LONG AND NOT-SO-WINDING ROAD

I know what you all clicked through for today. You want to hear about the hideous travel nightmare I had on my cross-country flight from Newark, NJ to San Diego, CA. But I have to disappoint you. It was the most solidly boring flight out to San Diego ever, I'm happy to report.

Sadly, that leaves me 1000 words shy of what I wanted to fill today.

Wait, there's always the registration nightmare, right? In the past couple of years, it involved long waits on short lines that never move, followed by incorrect spellings and identification issues.

Not this year. The bar code registration system they had figured out this year actually worked. There was no line and my badge was handed to me thirty seconds after I showed my photo ID with the letter that had the pre-registered bar code on it.

Even more good news: The press packet this year comes with the convention souvenir book. In past years, I had to rely on the kindness of strangers, or chance across a book left behind after a panel.

If everything keeps going this well this weekend, what will I have to complain about?

Curse you, Contintental Airlines! Nuts to you, San Diego Comic-Con organizers.

That isn't to say there's nothing else left to talk about. I saw my first con freaks at the baggage pick up inside the airport. I didn't take their pictures, but you can just take a look at the daily photo parades here to get a hint of what's going on. I saw a lot more video game characters tonight than in the past. I don't know if that's because of my renewed interest in video games makes them stand out more, or if the lack of a LucasArts Pavillion means all the Storm Troopers stayed home this year.

Waiting for the con floor to open, I saw at least three grown men sitting in the hallway who felt that being overweight and possessed of a brown beard dictated a wardrobe consisting of View Askew gear. Just because you CAN look like Kevin Smith, doesn't mean you SHOULD.

The con floor opened up at 6:00 p.m. right on time. Immediately, the floor looked like the worst parts of Saturday afternoon. Once the crowd dissipated into areas of lesser concentration, though, things looked clearer. After things evened out, it was still quite the crowd. The dealer's area seemed empty, but the larger company booths and multimedia attractions attracted crowds that started to choke the aisles.

Made my customary first stop at the AiT/PlanetLar booth to see Larry Young and his right-hand woman, Mimi Rosenheim. No news to report there, but all seem healthy and happy. There's a full signing schedule set up this weekend with a wide array of all the usual titles and creators.

Oni Press has a similarly impressive lineup of graphic novels spread out across a couple tables at their booth, with plenty of creators circling around for signings this weekend. They had their share of issues getting the booth set up this year on time, I know, but it all looked good when the show opened.

Image Comics has a huge pavilion all to themselves this year. Instead of breaking up into a series of small booths in a couple of aisles, they have one large square this year, with about six tables across each side. It's also located at the end of the comics section where there's a wide break in the aisles before the entertainment/video game/Lego companies take over. Extra breathing room is always a good thing. Tony Moore, Rick Remender, Brian Posehn, Scott Kurtz, Brandon Peterson, Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Ryan Ottley, and more were there to hawk their wares.

Marvel is sharing the Activision booth again. It's not as expansive as the Marvel booths of old once were, but there is a large display set up to show off the upcoming video games based on Marvel characters, and a couple of tables and lines for autograph sessions. The oddest freebie there is the THE SWARM comic. It's a full color 32 page comic book which has a wraparound cover, the story starting on the inside front cover, and a single tease for a website on the inside back cover. Did I mention that the book stars M&M Minis? Yes, M&Ms appear to be fighting crime or something. Todd Dezago writes it, and Ron Lim draws it. It's cute and it's colorful. The indicia indicates that it was released last October.

It's bizarre, but cute.

DC's booth is the usual plush purple carpeted square, with autograph stations at each corner, displays in the middle, and lots of black and white previews and statues on display.

NBM has a display copy of MISTER I, but I haven't cracked it open yet.

I hope someone got pictures of the woman posing with the Voltron statue. Have you dreamed of seeing Bad Girls draping themselves over lion-based transforming robots? Neither am I, but the blatant attempt to attract attention is amusing.

Artist's Alley was dead. Preview Night is generally lightly attended, but this was almost sad. For starters, Steve Lieber is not there. His name doesn't appear in the program book. It just ain't the same without him. Adam Hughes and J.G. Jones weren't at their booths, but instructions were taped down to their tables to explain how you can get a sketch from them. Hughes has moved to a lottery system. Both charge high fees. Can't say as I blame them, though -- they have such high demand and can command those prices for the limited amount of work they can produce in a weekend. The lottery system should prevent the problems Hughes had in the past with exhibitors using their early-entrance passes to move to the top of the sketchbook line.

The area just past Artist's Alley normally holds the art auction. They had none of that set up, leaving one of the emptiest areas in the convention center you'll ever see.

And now it's 3:00 a.m. East Coast time and I'm so tired that I'm starting to cry. It is the first day of life on the west coast; this is how you force your body to adjust to the time zone difference. It'll be worse on Sunday night when I can't sleep on the red eye flight home. But it's all worth it for the four days inbetween!

Tomorrow: The Animaniacs DVD panel. And I would like to score a sketch in my sketchbook tomorrow, too. It's good to have goals, don'tcha think?

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