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ComicCon Lines

October 3, 2005

Animation Magazine ComicCon Special Report
Comic-Con Lines
By Mark Simon

Lines. Thatís what I saw the most of - lines. At Comic-Con there were lines to get in, lines for the programming, product lines, comic book lines, and lines in illustration.

While Iím no stranger to lines (I love theme parks), this was my first introduction to Comic-Con. The show lived up to its reputation. Even though the lines were long (around the block at times), it was a sight to behold.

The biggest problem with the Con is the number of very cool events. Mapping out my days was like organizing a military campaign. There is no way to see everything you want to see. Plus, you have to leave time to wander the floor. Iíll get back to the floor in a bit.

At times the lines to get into the more popular events in Hall H were daunting. However, the 6,500 seat theater, plus standing room for more, seemed to sit everyone. Seeing the filmmakers, stars and FX wizards plus new footage of the great movies coming out, is sweet enough to put any fan into an insulin shock.

One of the highlights is always finding out more about the Star Wars universe. Fan relations rep Steve Sansweet treated us to more information than visuals. There were no images to support his talk of the new animated Star Wars series, set between Episodes 2 and 3, but he described the designs as anime inspired. There were, however, some amazing visuals to behold in gaming. The new Star Wars game sequences looked as good as most features.

And remember those lines? They were out in force during not only the Star Wars event, but most others as well. Master Replicas has produced the most amazing lightsabers Iíve ever seen. They are life-size, have metal casings and illuminated shafts strong enough for duals. The audio is straight from the movies including motion and impact sounds. In every dark room these lightsabers formed red, blue and purple lines in the darkness. Even with a price tag of $120 each, they sold out of the over-4,000 units they had on hand. (hint: Trying to carry one onto a plane is a real treat.)

The longest line I encountered was for the Serenity event. Evidently Iím not the only fan of the cancelled series Firefly. Most of the cast along with creator Joss Whedon were there and showed a fantastic sequence from the movie. Good news, there is still no sound in space.

Superman is returning in Superman Returns. Director Bryan Singer flew in special from Australia for the show. The long preview he showed got not only a standing ovation, but a second viewing. Bryan knows what his audience wants and once again, I believe a man can fly.

Gaming and movies have finally mixed completely in the upcoming release of Doom. Action star The Rock, producer John Wells and others showed a sequence like Iíve never seen in a movie before; a first-person shooter angle. It felt like I stepped right into the game.

The funniest lines of the show were during a screening of the new Zorro, again starring Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones (although it was neck and neck with everything Jack Black and Kevin Smith said). The preview played back fast for some reason, making the action-feature sound like it starred chipmunks.

But the lines were not only limited to the larger hall. Smaller rooms were affected as well. Luckily, it was always worth the wait. Nicktoons showed off their new CG series, Skyland. This cell-shaded series with painterly backgrounds has a look unlike any other on TV. Being a combination of motion-capture, key-frame and 2D elements it has an amazing look. Look for it after the first of the year.

The ever-popular Teen Titans had an event with their writers and voice talent. The line to get in wrapped all the way around the second floor. They did a live script reading on the stage. The large room was packed with those who love behind-the-scenes as much as I.

On the floor, besides having far too many cool action figures and new comics, there was a revised product line for gaming in the Behemoth booth. Their new version of Alien Hominid, now on gaming platforms instead of just download, is all about lines and action. This fast-paced game is completely hand animated, making it stand out against its all-CG competition. Plus, itís fun to play.

Well, Iíve run out of lines, but not stories or excitement. Iím already lining up for next year.

Mark Simon is a producer, director, lecturer and author of Facial Expressions, Producing Independent 2D Character Animation and Storyboards: Motion In Art. His books can be found at www.MarkSimonBooks.com.

Figure 01: Lines to get into Comic-Con.
Figure 02: Joss Whedon and cast of Serenity/Firefly