I can’t believe I forgot to mention it here! My novel, The Deviant, is now for sale! You can find out all about it at the book page on my personal website: http://www.orrenmerton.com/thedeviant — enjoy!
That’s right, Michelle and I have created a webcomic! Head over to Karma Kat and Dogma and check it out! Enjoy!
As you can tell, this site isn’t really getting updated much. Mostly because all the action can be found on our individual websites:
Orren’s site: http://www.orrenmerton.com
Michelle’s site: http://www.thenerdette.com
I’m guessing we’ll keep this site up for a while, as an archive at least. Maybe we’ll take it down and just turn it into a links page. We’ll see. But please visit our other sites!
Coming into the homestretch now. Saturday.
After the sheer amount of awesome that was Thursday and Friday, Saturday really was just gravy day. It was also the most crowded. I wouldn’t have thought it possible to pack more people into the convention center than there had been on previous days, but the sheer crushing mass of geeks proved me wrong. Some of whom really could have used an extra application of deodorant…
Saturday started off with an entertaining panel on zombie lit, featuring Max Brooks (World War Z) and Seth Grahame-Smith (Pride and Prejudice with Zombies) and other people I hadn’t heard of but also did cool stuff. One of the panelists answered every question in haiku (impressive!) and another gave a fantastic thesis dissertation on fast vs slow zombies (like there’s really any debate). Max Brooks especially brought the awesome, with writing advice *and* advice for surviving the inevitable zombie apocalypse. Noted, stay away from Walmart, head for a distribution center. Hearing Brooks, an author I very much admire, talking about hating everything he writes initially and the long arduous rewrite process was especially inspiring.
We stayed in the same room for the panel immediately after, watching with some bemusement as the room emptied out to be filled by teenaged girls and middle aged women. What panel could they be waiting for? The vampire lit panel of course. That reminds me of a comment I overheard while walking around the exhibit hall–a guy turned to his son and said, “yeah son, zombies are for boys and vampires are for girls.” Uh, what? I had to speak up and interject that girls can like zombies too, aaannd that is why some guy left Comic-Con with a story about the weirdo girl he had an uncomfortable conversation with about zombies vs vampires at Con this year.
Anyway, not much to say about the vampire lit panel, except that people sure do like True Blood. But you know what time it was, it was long-ass line time! That’s right kids, it had been awhile since we’d waited in a nice long line, so over to Ballroom 20 we went to queue up for the V panel. It was another positive line experience, the group of people around us were great and we had a grand time talking about Doctor Who, Tron, Walking Dead, crazy costumes, the Hall H stabbing and more.
The V panel was fun, it was interesting to hear the cast talk and Morena Baccarin is just unfairly hot. Unfortunately, they didn’t show any new footage from the upcoming season (probably because it hasn’t been filmed yet) and I very nearly experienced my own moment of nerd rage when the girls sitting behind us would not shut up. Look, I get that people sit through panels they aren’t interested in so as to make sure they catch the one they really want to see, in fact, we did that quite a few times. But for the love of Batman, don’t be an ass and talk through the panel. Grumble grumble grrr…
Speaking of Batman, even he got screwed over by the massive connection/wifi issues everyone experienced this year. And if Batman can’t make a call, what chance do the rest of us have?
After the V panel, it was time for a marathon room 6CBF afternoon (doesn’t that sound exciting?) as we settled ourselves down on yet another set of supremely uncomfortable chairs for the Eureka panel, Nikita screening, Human Target panel and Mythbusters. The Eureka panel was an accident, we hadn’t planned on catching it, we just got there early and the line was shorter than expected (and that. my friends, was the *only* time that happened). But I’m glad we caught it because, um hello, it had GAIUS FRAKKING BALTAR. Oh James Callis, you’re so dreamy…
Then there was the Nikita screening… Okay, moving on.
Human Target. I love the show and it was great to hear the three main actors talk about the show and their characters. Chi Mcbride doing his Shatner impression was pure comedy gold. Unfortunately, it was another panel with no new footage or anything particulary exciting to show, so that was disappointing. And some of the changes the new showrunner talked about sound, well, let’s just say I’m not exactly excited about them.
By this point, good ol’ 6CBF (there’s just something about 6CBF that’s fun to say, it just rolls right off the tongue. Go on, say it…6CBF…6CBF) was packed to absolutely bursting as it was time for the Mythbusters panel. The Mythbusters are beloved by the Comic-Con crowd, and rightly so. This was the first time the whole crew had done a panel, and it was epic. Adam Savage and the phrase “sign the baby!” will forever be linked in my mind and Jamie Hyneman as Shhh-man is a mental image that will not be going away any time soon. It was an electric atmosphere and I think we all found ourselves caught up in the sheer enthusiasm and excitement that swept through the room.
After we spent another 10 minutes trying to exit the room as 2000+ people did their best zombie cows being led to slaughter shuffle through a very narrow hallway, we wandered over to one of the overflow rooms to watch the Masquerade. I always enjoy the Masquerade–as a sometimes costumer, I love seeing the elaborate costumes and skits people come up with. As always, some were full of win and some were full of WTF.
By Saturday night, this geek with social anxiety was officially tired of crowds, so we grabbed a fancy meal at Subway and holed up in the hotel. I might have been getting just a wee bit cranky by then.
Sunday morning was the last day of Con, and for us it was time to make one last pass through the Exhibit Hall and then go stand in one last long-ass line to pick up free shit from the fulfillment room (and boy was I thrilled that we stood in line for a half hour for a poster, a mini comic and a cheap button…whee!). Speaking of free shit, check out our swag pile…
By noon on Sunday we were on our way back up the 5, with every mile leaving the nerdvana that is Comic-Con behind and slowly, somewhat reluctantly re-entering the real world. I am thankful that for one week of the year, we can all come together to share in our geeky obsessions and maybe even gain some new ones. Until next year, I’ll leave you with some Stormtroopers, because really, what is Comic-Con without Stormtroopers?
Okay, one last picture, just because there are so few pictures out there of Orren and I together, and aren’t we just so dang cute?
Friday was a very good day.
It started off with what was probably The Panel (imagine I said that in a big, boomy echoing voice) for me, the panel I had been looking forward to most–The Walking Dead. Before the panel, I got to have another stressful “holy crap this is a long-ass line, I can’t miss this panel wahwahwah” moment. But not only did I get in without issue, I even got to sit through the Hawaii 5-0 remake first. Um, yay?
By the way, this is probably a good place to interject that I honestly think that Walking Dead fans are some of the best, nicest people in the world. I was by myself (Orren was attending a panel about Stan Lee and Neal Adams’ Holocaust motion comic project, which you can read about over on his blog) and probably 80% of the room was male, and everyone I talked with both in line and around me before and after the panel were awesome. We were all there because we loved the comic and were excited about the TV series and it was so cool to share in that experience together. And no, it wasn’t a bunch of lonely comic book nerds trying to hit on the token girl, so let’s not even go there.
Anyway, The Walking Dead…if you’ve never heard of or read the comic book series, you owe it to yourself to check it out. Winning the Eisner this year for best continuing series, it is a gripping, disturbing, moving and really dark look at humanity and how we survive (or don’t). After all, the title doesn’t refer to just the zombies…
At the panel, AMC finally premiered the very first footage from the upcoming TV series based on the comic, and HOLYFUCKINGSHITSWEETZOMBIEJESUS it looks amazing! Hang on, let me just compose myself for a minute here…
Okay, I can continue again. Unfortunately, AMC hasn’t put the trailer online officially yet, but the website is here and it does have highlights from the panel. The main thing I took away from the panel was that the whole cast and crew have a real love and respect for the source material and all the doubts and concerns I had are totally gone. And the energy in the room…god, I still get all tingly thinking about it. Probably the best moment of the whole Con for me. Oh yeah, and they also announced that one of my favorite TV composers, Bear Mccreary, will be doing the music for the series. Too much awesomeness to handle!
Just hurry up and get here already October!
After The Walking Dead panel, I was a happy little geek and Orren got to listen to me chatter on excitedly ad infinitum about it. But the day wasn’t over yet, oh no not by a long shot. Next up on the agenda was descending back into the madness of the Exhibit Hall to shop and see the sights. And because we really enjoy feeling like cattle being herded into the slaughter house. Check out the lightcycle (can I have one please?)…
The other panel of note that we caught on Friday was called Girls Gone Genre and featured Felicia Day, Gail Simone and other female writers/creators talking about being a woman in a genre traditionally dominated by men. The discussion was interesting and enlightening, each woman talking about her unique experiences, both positive and negative. And I’d have to give the award for best swag to this panel (a free book and a free sweatshirt, score!).
One of the super cool things about Comic-Con is that it isn’t just contained to the convention center. Across the street in the Gaslamp District, many studios had set up additional marketing stunts. Some were small (posters and billboards), and others, well see for yourself…
Oh yeah baby, that is Flynn’s Arcade from Tron. I spent a fun hour hanging out in the arcade playing classic 80′s arcade games and learning important things about myself. Namely, I really suck at Asteriods–curse you 2D blobs of death! In the room behind Flynn’s Arcade was the TRON Lounge. First we walked down a long dark hallway toward an eerie blue light, beginning the transition into programs. We emerged into a cybertastic room of neon and sleek curves, huge screens on the walls playing the epic trailer. And free Coke Zero! I have to admit, there’s a part of me that wants to enter the grid, but of course there is that whole de-rezzing thing…that would kind of suck.
But wait, there’s more! Our night of geekery wasn’t over yet. In another brilliant marketing promotion, SyFy (oh, it still pains me to write that) turned a cafe into Cafe Diem from their show Eureka. We got to enjoy overpriced but tasty themed food and drinks and I learned that no matter how annoying the Adamas are on Caprica, they make a mean spicy chicken salad. Oh, and guess who walked into the cafe and walked around while we were eating? GAIUS FRAKKING BALTAR that’s who! I may or may not have a bit of a nerd crush on James Callis…
Because we hadn’t quite been geeky enough for one day, we ended the night by going over to the Marriott screening room and watching an episode of Star Trek on the big screen (The Doomsday Machine). The giant space cornucopia of death looked pretty damn good and how can you not love seeing The Shat larger than life?
Then it was time for bed, to dream of Gaius Baltar leading an army of zombie dinosaurs from Mars to take over the world (don’t ask). Onward to Saturday!
After a long day in Hall H, we had time to grab a quick dinner (overpriced hotel food, but it was food) and walk the mile from our hotel to 4th and B, the rock/rap venue that was about to be overrun by a horde of geeks for W00tstock 2.4. (The venue was great, but you got the feeling we weren’t the crowd they were used to. I can’t imagine there was a huge amount of crossover between the W00tstock crowd and the Snoop Dogg show at the same venue a few days later.)
What is W00tstock? Simply put, it’s a nerd vaudeville show. Over four glorious hours of unabashed geekery, a shared social experience between audience and performers where everyone came together to celebrate our love of all things nerd. It was awesome.
We got to 4th and B about 40 minutes before the show was due to start, and found yet another long-ass line. Cue me stressing about finding seats or being seated behind a wall of giants wearing excessively large hats. We did see this little guy invading a building while we were standing in line though…
It was a sold out show and the energy and enthusiasm was absolutely electric. We found good seats up in the balcony (I could see!) and settled in to enjoy the show. I laughed so hard my sides hurt and my voice was hoarse by the end of the night. Some highlights, in no particular order…
*Wil Wheaton’s dramatic reading about his first experience at the Rocky Horror Picture Show, with a frakking hilarious cameo from Aaron Douglas in his Chief flightsuit (“I said toast, not toaster!”) and Wil’s total nerd squee moment that captured how I think everyone probably felt at that moment.
*Adam Savage performing “I Will Survive” in the voice of Gollum accompanied by Chewbacca playing guitar. Re-read that sentence again. That’s like a triple word score of nerdery right there. And you can experience it for yourself…
*Phil Plait’s (The Bad Astronomer) fantastic lecture on objects in space that look like, er, other things. Oh, and proof that the Enterprise is real (as if we ever doubted it).
*Mat Fraction performing his spoken word piece “Batman Dreams of Heironymous Machines” was, if I had to choose just one (and I mean, gun to my head you will be horribly maimed if you don’t pick something right now because otherwise it would be way to hard to pick just one) highlight, probably my favorite moment of the night. The video is below, and seriously, even if you don’t care at all about comics, you should read it. It is funny, moving and thought provoking and is one of the best defenses and explanations of the importance and appeal of graphic storytelling I have ever seen. It rocked my geeky little world.
The whole night was a dreamlike blur of awesomeness piled upon awesomeness. For a few hours, everyone in that room was part of something special. Outside, back in the real world, we might be looked on as weird, as outcasts, as socially inept, as childish, but inside the wonderful world of W00tstock, we could celebrate the things we love and the people we are. Not to get all maudlin, but it was a beautiful experience and a feeling I carry with me still, even after the show is over.
Next up, Friday and The Walking Dead.
Well, Comic-Con is over and I’m back home and in the real world. As I try to hang on to that last bit of Con glow, it’s time for some long, rambling thoughts looking back at the best and worst of our excursion to the great geek gathering that is Comic-Con.
The last time I was at Comic-Con was 10 years ago, and despite reading about how much it had changed, I really wasn’t prepared for the sheer crush of people that we experienced first thing on preview night! Holy bunches of geeks, that’s a lot of people! Being herded into a corridor packed to the bursting with attendees and an apparently non-functioning air conditioning was a distinctly unpleasant start to the convention experience.
Oh, and the motel that we had to stay in Wednesday night after Travel Planners screwed up the reservations I made back in March (March!!) totally blew. I mean seriously, it was underneath the frakking freeway! Anyway, moving on…
Preview night was fun, I enjoyed the spectacle of the Exhibit Hall–it never fails to amaze me just how much money the big guys spend on their booths. For example, check out Asgard…
I had one exclusive I wanted to buy, The Walking Dead #75 with the Comic-Con variant cover. Seems easy enough right? Nope, after being sent from one booth to the next, each booth telling me variations of “no we don’t sell that but has it.” Finally found a comic book retailer who had the damn issue, and my quest was complete (and I didn’t even have to throw anything into Mount Doom!).
(As an aside, The Walking Dead #75 is totally awesome, I am loving the Community story line and holy crap what’s going to happen next. Ok, back to your regularly scheduled ramblings…)
We also bought some seriously cool Star Trek posters that will be framed and hung in our living room, because that’s just how us cool cats roll.
Thursday dawned very, very early for us as Thursday was Hall H day. For the uninitiated, Hall H is a vast cavernous room that holds 7500 people and is where all the big movie panels are held. Hall H is also famous for it’s line, and oh what a line it is. There were two panels on Thursday in Hall H that I absolutely had to see–TRON at 11:00am and Joss Whedon and JJ Abrams at 4:00pm. Naturally, in order to make sure we didn’t miss the TRON panel, we were in line at 6:00am. Yes, that’s right, a whole FIVE hours before the panel started, just to make sure we didn’t miss it. And what’s better, there were already about 700 or so people in line before us! It really is insane.
On the positive side, we did see Pauly Shore and TRON Guy. Wait, is that a positive?
Actually, the line experience wasn’t all bad, and to be fair, we were let in at 9:30 so it was only about 3.5 hours of true line waiting. One of the great things about Comic-Con (or any Con really) is the social aspect–it’s one of the few places where you can let that geek flag fly high and meet lots of like minded people. As a shy, generally socially awkward type, one of my highlights of the experience was meeting and talking to many wonderful people. We all had something in common, and let’s face it, we were all standing in a long-ass line with nothing else to do.
The first panel of the morning was for Megamind, and while it wasn’t one I was terribly interested in, it ended up being funny and loads of fun. Will Ferrell showing up in full costume of his character was truly hilarious.
And then it was time for the TRON panel, and oh it was a beautiful thing. We were shown eight whole minutes (!!!) of new footage, in glorious 3D accompanied by a kick-ass Daft Punk soundtrack. Is there a story? Weeellll… Do I care? Nope! It is pure spectacle and it looks epic. As an added fun thing, the director of TRON: Legacy announced that they would be doing Foley recording for crowd sounds to edit into the big games scenes of the movie. Big mics were placed around the hall and we all got to stomp and yell and chant “Dee-rez” at the top of our lungs. Everyone was super excited and it really was a brilliant way to get the fans involved. Also, Jeff Bridges is just so damn cool.
The trailer is here and seriously go watch it, I’ve watched it about 5 times now and I think my mind is going into nerd overload. It’s just so shiny!
The next panel was the rather forgettable Sony Pictures panel where they were promoting Salt and Battle: Los Angeles. Salt was notable for the fact that Angelina Jolie showed up for the panel, looking gorgeous and being gracious and patient in the face of being asked the same damn question over and over again. The only thing I even remember about Battle: LA was the director first talking about how the movie was something unique that hadn’t been done before, and then minutes later describing it as Black Hawk Down with aliens. Uh, okay, way to be unique there dude…
RED was up next. Now this was a movie that I really knew nothing about except that it was based on a Warren Ellis graphic novel and has a pretty freaking amazing cast. I was looking forward to the panel for the sole fact that Dame Helen Mirren of all people was going to be there. I mean, of all the people you wouldn’t expect to see at Comic-Con, she’s got to be near the top of the list. But she rocked it–coming out wearing a Harvey Pekar memorial shirt and talking about her appreciation for graphic novels. Bruce Willis, Karl Urban and Mary Louise Parker rounded out what was quite a fun panel between Karl Urban channeling McCoy (“Are you out of your Vulcan mind?!”) and Helen Mirren (“It’s a movie with God (Morgan Freeman) and the Queen (her)!”). The preview showed an action packed comedy about retired CIA agents and it looks like a great romp. Also, Helen Mirren wielding a big machine gun = dead sexy.
Time for the Visionaries, as geek gods Joss Whedon and JJ Abrams took to the stage for a discussion on their influences, fandom, upcoming projects and advice. My favorite moments had to be Joss waxing enthusiastic about the Star Trek movie as only he can and talking about his own fandom and love for comics (and officially announcing that he was directing the Avengers movie). JJ was clearly more shy and not quite as comfortable as Joss, but he shared some great stories about restoring Spielberg’s earliest Super 8 movies and his craziest piece of memorabilia (a tongue!).
That ended our marathon Hall H day, and let me tell you, those folding chairs and my ass are still not on speaking terms. I managed to convince my aching, numb body that it was time to move and we fought our way out of the crowd and into the light.
It was W00tstock time!
Happy Father’s day to my father-in-law, the only living dad in my immediate family. My own father died around father’s day, so it’s always a bit of a pensive day for me. I imagine even when I become a father, it still will be.
Anyway, rather than write a lot here (I do have a barbecue to attend, after all) I thought I’d just link to what I wrote about the two dads that were in my life: my father and grandfather. I wrote this on their birthday: Happy Birthday
Have you been to http://www.orrenmerton.com yet? If not, check it out!