Comic-Con 2001: Preview Night

For five days out of the year, Fanboys can feel beloved in the city of San Diego. Banners line the streets. Every bus carries a placard touting the Comics Convention. Flight attendants in the hotel elevator glance over knowingly. It must be the tremendous amount of money that we spend. And by we, I mean Fanboy Planet co-editor Michael Goodson.

The doors opened on the Convention Preview night, giving a lucky few a chance to mingle in a low-pressure environment. Dominating the room were the Big Two, but more publishing companies than we thought existed ringed them. Many are here trying to establish their name; we'll be doing follow-up stories on a couple in the days ahead. This year, dealers' booths got mixed in with the publishers. They both have the same goal, after all: push comics.

We tried not to do the obvious and immediately swarm toward the DC or Marvel booths. Instead, we ventured into some of the smaller press areas. This surprisingly included Image, which runs as a series of booths for each creator (with Top Cow completely separate). We picked up some missing books from Brian Michael Bendis' catalog, which the writer happily signed. Bendis even said he'd heard of Fanboy Planet. At first, Michael was not sure that it actually was Bendis, until he gave the smile that matched his picture in Wizard. Let that be a lesson, creators: when posing for Wizard, make a memorable face.

Last year, Marvel rode the incredible high of X-Men opening in theaters just days before the convention. This year, they have no real high-profile media projects close at hand, other than video games. They do have plenty of screens set up to demo Spider-Man 2: Enter Electro, as well as Mutant Academy 2. A lucky few lottery winners will be given the chance to get Sam Raimi's autograph on Saturday, but otherwise, Marvel is keeping the Spider-Man movie low-key.

Over at DC, a steady stream of creators sign at several tables, which gives the booth less of a crowd control problem. As for merchandise, the DC Direct corner has a much finer, much more cruelly taunting display of upcoming projects than Marvel's tepid Toybiz offerings. (The best display of toys, though, sits in the Diamond Direct booth. All shipping roads lead to Diamond anyway.) The saddest part of the DC display is that writer Mark Waid may be contractually forbidden to cross the walkway from the CrossGen booth - it's like Mr. Freeze on the old Batman series.

But fear not - Waid looked happy tonight, as did Crossgen (and JLA/Avengers) artist George Perez, wandering the floor like any other fan. Crossgen has an impressive booth, which will surely be crowded when the convention opens properly.

In the middle of it all, Dreamworks Pictures has set up a huge display for their upcoming version of The Time Machine. The machine itself is surrounded by setpieces, but really, we got distracted by Adam West's Batmobile thirty feet away.

From there our eyes went further to the actress/model who played Aurra Sing in The Phantom Menace. At one point, we saw Aurra Sing, Boba Fett, and Admiral Motti all talking together, and not a one of them expressing any affection for Jar Jar Binks.

We'd like to be able to show you pictures of all these wondrous things, but this afternoon, after a grueling drive to San Diego in which Michael wouldn't stop singing showtunes, we foolishly decided that we didn't need to bring our cameras to the preview. Or our tape recorders. Or anything that would actually have enabled us to prove that we saw who we say we saw. But tomorrow…ah, that's another tale…

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