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Comic-Con 2004: Preview Night
Can't We All Just Get Along?

The 2004 t-shirt.
Back to basics with a reminder of who's the greatest of them all...
Going into Preview Night this year, we suffered from mixed emotions. On the one hand, there was the excitement of Comic-Con, that one time a year when we get to walk among normal people. Then again, old rivalries could rear their ugly heads, and a thinly veiled threat had been leveled over one of our writers' opinions. Thankfully, in our bylaws it says to never take Rob Sparling anywhere. Oddly enough, they were written before we even knew him.

This year the opening of the doors went pretty smoothly, and people seemed a little bit more polite. They'd have to be; maybe it was our imagination, but there seemed to be a lot more people at Preview Night than ever before. Even a couple of exhibitors commented on that to us.

More so than last year, the layout of the exhibitors' hall is a melange, with publishers surrounded by toy and game companies, and dealers and individual artists sprinkled throughout almost haphazardly. You'll find small press next to armorers, and bright shiny objects next to adult film stars.

The new Joker is feeling rather irie...
For the first time in our short history of Convention going, it looks like DC is not the largest booth. We had inklings when the Con announced the official Star Wars pavilion, but who could have guessed they'd land a full-sized X-Wing on the floor? Step a few yards away from there in either direction, and you're either in the land of Mattel with big pushes for He-Man and the new Batman line, or Hasbro's segue from Star Wars to G.I. Joe. (On the opposite side, a smaller booth actually has life-sized G.I. Joes -- though they're plaster.)

And speaking of dolls (okay, okay, action figures), DC Direct once again has a great display of toys and props to make one drool. For the first time ever, a prop has sent my head spinning with covetousness, the mask and amulet of Dr. Fate. Completely impractical, and probably no good against the forces of chaos in my house, but lordy, do I want a set.

But there's more -- new Superman figures, the allegedly about to be released Dark Knight Returns figures that look like Frank Miller's art sprung to life, Teen Titans and a statue of Michael Turner's redesign of Supergirl.

From the cream of the crop, we ran into three guys who claimed to have the worst comic books ever. With a come-on like that, how could we not refuse to pay and stand there awkwardly until one of them broke down and just handed us their books? I don't know if it will break Bare Bones Studios' losing streak with critics, but I will admit that The All Seeing All Knowing Mathematician made me laugh more than once. However, I felt very very dirty afterward. So there.

The men of Bare Bones Studios. Their names have been withheld to protect the dignity of their families.

Not all the exhibitors were ready yet, and more than one booth still had harried workers trying to get everything unpacked. The touted Indy Island, however, did have the guys from Hero Happy Hour. Recently, we've engendered controversy among their readers by Rob Sparling panning the book, hence the veiled threat.

As I approached, writer Dan Taylor flashed the smile of a man about to huck a book, and then he saw the words "Fanboy Planet" on my tag. His eyes narrowed. Then he laughed and shrugged. We shook hands and made promises to do an interview later. But why did artist Chris Fason tell me to bring my banjo and some thick twine?

It was not the only peace summit that happened tonight. No, my friends, there was something magical in the air.

A few weeks ago, while playing City of Heroes, I stumbled across a character I knew to be the talented Scott Kurtz, writer/artist of the webcomic and Image book , PvP. If you are not reading this often brilliant strip, you should. But wait until you finish this article, because you'll get sucked into the archives and not come back for hours.

Anyway, I introduced myself to Kurtz tonight, face to face, revealing myself as the secret identity of The Night Panda. Of course we talked about a future feature. However, Scott also hangs out with the guys we forced into being rivals, Fanboy Radio. As Goodson threatened to kick their a** to Scott, Fanboy Radio host Oliver Tull popped around the corner.

With all the skill of a consummate politician, Goodson acknowledged he'd meant to say kiss instead of kick, and we had a good time with Oliver when we all realized, thanks to mediator Scott Kurtz, that we're all on the same side as crimefighters in Paragon City. And, well, you can see the results...

Peace between Fanboys. Evildoers, beware!
(Oliver Tull, left, and Derek McCaw, right)

Tomorrow -- The Convention Starts! For now, check out our extra gallery of pics!

Derek McCaw


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