By FOX News Radio’s Michelle Pollino
Moments after Comic-Con’s convention wrapped up in San Diego, reports surfaced that actor Jesse Eisenberg called it so frightening that he likened it to a form of Genocide. To me, nothing could be further from the truth. The convention is FUN. It’s for the super fan, serving up a delicious mix of entertainment, and goods for the fan who has made a particular television show, film or comic book their universe. There is a mass of people… mounds of journalists, people in costume — ‘cos players’ as they are called – gamers, actresses, directors and producers , and thousands of fans… all descending upon San Diego Comic-Con Convention.
This is not for the faint of heart – this is for the passionate fan of the created worlds of fictionalized characters. It’s for the kid who saw “Stars Wars” and walked out of the theater feeling his or her world had forever changed. That same kid is now an adult and taking his kid to experience that same transformational moment. Comic-Con is for that “nerd” who becomes beside himself when he sees Batman or Spider-Man, because those comics helped him get though his formative years. It is pure fandom… filled with people with a deep abiding reverence for all that is odd, weird, cultish — all that glitters that is Sci-Fi.
Walking the streets approaching the idyllic coastal convention center, as a journalist I was in awe of the sheer numbers of costumed people flooding the arteries heading into the building. It’s like wandering into some fictionalized TV series or onto the set of a movie.
However, that is nothing compared to walking inside the convention center. Then it’s like you’ve walked into the Mos Eisley Cantina – the bar where we first met Hans Solo in “Star Wars”. That historic film franchise has now returned to this convention, and they gave us a behind the scenes look at filming the movie. We saw how director and fan J.J. Abrams used practical effects, like filming in the desert instead of green screen. We were shown how they used miniature models to create full scale ships, and how Chewbacca actor Peter Mayhew’s suit is almost worn out because everyone wants to hug the big lug. And, oh yes, we heard from the actors who are clearly as grateful as their director to be a part of this magical piece of cinematic history.
Comic-Con is the kind of convention that has fans sleeping out on the lawn of the convention center in their costumes in line so that they can secure a seat in Hall H when director J.J. Abrams, producer Kathleen Kennedy and the cast of both the original “Star Wars” and the soon to be released “Star Wars: Episode VII” take the stage. It’s the kind of convention where Abrams and Kennedy, knowing that these people are the reason they have jobs, give back with the same fervor… offering a free concert by the San Diego Symphony of “Star Wars” Composer John Williams’ music. It’s the kind of convention where, when a family sits on the lawn with their free light sabers (another gift from the team) to listen to the free concert… the father whispers to his 11-year-old, ‘I was your age when I saw this film for the first time’.
Walking the convention floor is like walking into ‘The Legend of Zelda’; it’s a maze of gigantic trade show booths filled with comic books, television show and film products, interactive displays, toys and even some animated creatures come alive. ‘World of Warcraft’, Japanese anime shows, Disney, DC comics and Marvel’s latest ‘Ant-Man’ were prominent on the floor across from Alex Ross, one of Marvel’s commissioned artists whose artwork ranged from $500 to $20,000 per piece. When you walk the aisles of the convention floor you are bombarded by creatures, superheroes and heroines. But that’s one of the biggest perks of the convention… you get to meet random superheroes, like “Spider-Man”.
I learned a little about Japanese anime while I was there too.
And as NBC used Comic-Con to launch a new updated ‘Heroes Reborn’, I bumped into one of its stars Greg Grunberg on the floor, who I caught looking at the LEGO build of a ‘Star Wars’ Stormtrooper.
And while we’re are on the subject, how can you not geek out over being able to meet “Darth Vader”…
…and watch “R2-D2” roam the convention floor… doing some shopping of his own perhaps?
Comic-Con’s the kind of place where, if you’re not careful, you can be attacked by a zombie!
And I even met “Dr. Who”!!
All of that is just scratching the surface though. The actors and creators of the TV shows and movies that drive this industry host panels, which allow fans to interact with their favorite stars of their favorite shows. Hall H, which was home to the the biggest shows and panels this year, hosted ‘Batman v Superman’, ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘The Walking Dead’ and ‘Fear the Walking Dead’. And apparently, in the wake of the Emmy nominations, Comic-Con is the only place ‘The Walking Dead’ cast and crew can actually feel the love… since the Television Academy still won’t recognize cable’s highest rated show.
It’s the kind of convention where you can walk the halls and see your favorite superheroes walk alongside Bill Murray. It also gives fans the inside scoop on their favorite shows and characters with behind-the-scenes footage, special trailers and new character revelations. There are workshops with the comic world’s brightest stars, like David Aja, the artist from Hawkeye, Immortal Iron Fist. There are classes like comic arts studies, workshops in screenwriting and film-making, and seminars in horror and alien make-up. FOX even previewed its new series ‘Scream Queens’ with Jamie Lee Curtis, Lea Michele and the entire cast on hand.
Comic Con is truly one of the most memorable experiences you can have as a reporter, a fan, or just someone looking for a different experience with their kids. It’s a boots on the ground experience, because you are connecting side-by-side with the people who have as much passion for the industry as you do… the fans and the creators. I feel sorry for Jesse Eisenberg because to me, he missed the point. But hey, perhaps he was having a bad day… you know those days, when your limo driver is late and room service forgot you said wheat toast instead of white?
Follow Michelle Pollino on Twitter: @MichelleFOXENT