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Comic-Con 2003 Preview Night:
Smithers, Release The Hounds

Bending laws of time and space, the Fanboy Planet team made it to the San Diego Convention Center with plenty of time to spare. Actually, one of us did not, but we shall not say who forgot that today was the day he was due in San Diego.

But eventually Mish'al did join us, and it was just as well that he was late. Despite advertising that "Preview Night" would begin at 5:30, the exhibit hall remained closed until 6, taunting us with half-glimpsed images on video screens and the promise of The Baroness returning to the G.I. Joe booth. (She did not, guys; sorry.)

Silly Fanboy Planet readers -- you had the power to build this sort of set for your HeroClix all along...

The shortened time for preview night really did a disservice to the exhibitors. As the night still ended at the promised 8:30, we feared that the hounds would be released upon attendees still trying to absorb it all. Without even venturing into the dealers' section, we still didn't catch a lot of what was offered.

Here's what we do know:

For sheer swarming capacity, the WizKids people need are going to need a bigger booth. It's not enough that they have Crimson Skies, Shadowrun Duels and Creepy Freaks being the big summer pushes. MechWarrior and MageKnight both show no signs of losing popularity, and with the apparent shortage of Cosmic Justice for HeroClix, this booth is your best bet for picking up booster packs.

I shouldn't have told you that.

If we have time tomorrow, we're also going to have somebody actually explain the rules of Creepy Freaks; it looks to be a little more in the style of a traditional boardgame, as opposed to Shadowrun Duels, which is pretty much action figure war. Please, no firecrackers, gentlemen.

DC and CrossGen dominate the center of the hall with their respective booths. As perhaps a cost-cutting measure, Marvel is represented through Wizard Magazine's set-up, so we're going to have to just ignore them for now.

Silly DC -- acting like they have the #1 book...oh, wait...
Though their superstar writer Brian Michael Bendis is already here, it's as part of the M(ack)-O(eming)-B(endis) consortium that promises something big this weekend. They're in the loose archipelago of booths that represents Image. (And Bendis did confirm that yes, he still loves us.)

CrossGen definitely has the best carpeting out of all the booths. It's soft and spongy but still supportive. An odd detail to pick out, but already our feet hurt, and we were grateful. Of course, Alessi's house has more, but I'm not sure what we're allowed to say. Already on display are trade DVDs, six issue collections of titles in a read-along video format, all part of the publisher's aggressive push to do whatever it takes to get kids reading, and reading CrossGen comics.

We're promised that on Friday CrossGen will have a technical announcement that will blow everybody away; we don't know anything, but Second To Some Studios' Myatt Murphy seems to. He's not telling, but we're still going to mention that he and Scott Dalrymple have a trade paperback of Fade From Blue coming out in just a couple of weeks.

DC has a lot of video screens peddling their wares and announcing their signings, in a format similar to years past. As always, it's impressive, and the DC Direct toy section always makes me drool. Of note: according to a sign in the booth, the Kingdom Come first wave of action figures has been delayed a month. On the bright side, they look exactly as cool as you might imagine, and their packaging is pretty nifty, too. But then, they're Alex Ross designs.

Silly Mish'al -- smiling when he only has two days to live...
And Ross dominates the con this year; the official t-shirt is a beautiful Justice League painting. As Michael Goodson commented, "if I were to wear a t-shirt, it would be that one."

Instead of a t-shirt, Goodson wears his pride. And after promising to kick the ass of Fanboy Radio, instead he was taken in by a shy hello (it may have been his own) and we ended up having a good time talking to these people we swore would be our mortal enemies. Meeting face to face has a way of doing that. So now we like Scott Samuel Hinze, and feel obligated to actually visit the site.

We volunteered Mish'al, however, for a death match with them on Saturday. Watch this space, and don't tell Meesh.

There are probably a few people we haven't yet had a chance to say hello to, but we did manage to catch the good people at Hurricane Entertainment, looking just a little run ragged as they had to put issue #2 of John Carpenter's Snake Plissken Chronicles to bed before getting down here from L.A.

Frank Cammuso also promised to sit down for an interview; the second issue of Max Hamm: Fairy Tale Detective is available, and I'll be reading my copy before I go to sleep tonight.

Which should be shortly...see you tomorrow night...

Derek McCaw


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