Night EyesOur first night in San Diego, we picked up our badges for Comic-Con, then went out to see Avenue Q. We took the trolley back, and as we walked up the hill from the Little Italy trolley stop, we saw a pair of giant cartoon eyes looking out over the city from a balcony near the top of a nearby building. I thought they might be satellite dishes with convenient lighting, but then I remembered the number of odd publicity stunts connected to the Simpsons movie. No idea whether it’s related or not.

The shuttle route from our hotel to the con passed by this mural, which plays with the nature of the constructed reality. The wall is a newspaper page. The face is a sculpture, a painting. The hands holding the chisel and paintbrush, of course, are just as artificial as the face being created.

Mural on a building

We noticed an interesting coincidence at Horton Plaza. Just a few doors down from the Post Office was an Aeropostale clothing store:

Aeropostale and Post Office

Bench: Sit.  Stay. Heal.This bench was in front of a hotel, probably the Hilton San Diego Gaslamp. I suppose that makes the pun on dog training more appropriate, since it’s a block away from Petco Park stadium.

Quiznos DrinkI’ve always figured standing out on a street in a mascot costume must be miserable, especially in summer. But how much worse to be dressed as a giant soft drink? I suppose this would go with last year’s walking sandwich.

Now, you have to wonder about AMN Healthcare. It’s clearly a set of initials…but how often do people complain about health, insurance, and the healthcare industry? It’s just one letter off from “Damn Healthcare.”

AMN Healthcare

Awning: Sin NiteclubBack to the shuttle route, next to (or possibly connected to) the Martini Ranch spotted in a previous installment of this series, was this nightclub that made no pretensions about what people are going there for. Also note that it’s a “niteclub” — is that a nightclub with fewer calories?

Then there’s this place, which employed the ultimate euphemism:

F-Street: San Diego's ultimate sensual well being adult store

That’s got to be the most convolutedly delicate way of saying “sex shop” that I’ve ever seen.

I wanted to call this “Oddball Comic-Con,” but decided that might be a little too close.

Stormtrooper Elvis poses with SauronStormtrooper Elvis has become such a fixture that I almost didn’t bother taking a picture of him when I saw him this year… but then I noticed his pose, and the Sauron statue in the background.

Free Hugs

There were a number of people walking around with “Free Hugs” signs, most of them women, but a few men. I never actually saw someone take one of them up on the offer, though.

Man holding up a book and a sign saying "Free!"On the subject of “Free” signs, I found it amusing that the Bantam Dell booth was trying to attract people with a hand-lettered cardboard sign proclaiming, “FREE!”

Circle of lights with cross-bars.
At one point I looked upward at the ceiling of Ballroom 20. With The Dark is Rising being made into a movie, I saw this lighting fixture and cross-beams and immediately thought of the Sign of Fire.

Flyer Man: FrontThis guy had the ultimate cheap costume: A roll of tape. He just took every freebie flyer that was handed to him, and taped it to himself.

Baseball cap: (fu) CKY (ou)

There’s apparently a band called CKY. Some of their merchandise manages to work the name into a rather rude saying…

There was a group of women in identical red dresses, with identical hairdos, and identical shoes. I saw a few of them wandering the floor on Saturday, but didn’t realize just how many there were until we left the convention center for dinner, and saw them crossing the street.

30+ Women in Red Dresses

Edit: Milla Jovovich in Resident EvilMystery solved? The Resident Evil panel featured 17 Milla Jovovich doubles wearing her iconic red dress. This looks like more than 17, and the dresses don’t seem to be ripped in the right place, but this could be them.

Continued in Strange Sights of San Diego.

San Diego: Comic-Con InternationalSome random thoughts and anecdotes about Comic-Con that didn’t make it into other posts:

It’s amazing that out of (reportedly) 140,000 people, you’re virtually guaranteed to run into people you know. For instance, I knew in person 8 people besides the two of us who were definitely going to the convention. Without planning, I ran into 6 of them, as well as 2 people who I didn’t know were attending. Katie and I even accidentally ran into each other once. I’m sure I ran into people I’ve met online, but just didn’t recognize them on sight.

Overheard near a coffee shop one morning in San Diego:

20ish man #1: I’m so wasted. I can’t work like this.
20ish man #2: Dude, you make coffee!

Nothing as drastic as Aeire’s story of nearly getting trampled, but I sustained a number of minor injuries over the course of the event:

  • Left knee, bruised while walking into a traffic barrier concealed by the flow of people (Wednesday).
  • Right forearm, bruised twice catching a backpack strap (Thursday).
  • Left hand, bruised (unknown).
  • Also, Katie: Left thumbnail pulled back and bleeding, catching a backpack strap (Friday).

Conclusion: Backpacks are dangerous 😉

Balcony and ledge at front of convention center.I walked out onto this balcony Friday afternoon and took some pictures looking out across the street. At the time, there were some teenage girls sitting on that ledge off to the left. It’s maybe 4 feet deep, and some of them had scooted out past the balcony, one of them standing up. When I came back later to get a picture of the ledge (how creepy would I have looked taking a picture of a group of teenage girls?), the door to the balcony was locked. I’m guessing security wasn’t happy.

When eating out at a restaurant, ask about the portion sizes before you order. The food at Bandar was very good, but we were each served enough food for three people. With no refrigerator or microwave in our hotel room, we couldn’t save the leftovers. The waste was saddening.

Panels I attended:
Thursday: TwoMorrows, Paramount Pictures, Lost.
Friday: Spider-Man cartoon (2nd half) and Neil Gaiman Spotlight. Babylon 5: The Lost Tales.
Saturday: Quick Draw, Buffy 10th Anniversary Screening. (edit: fixed link)
Sunday: My Dad Makes Comics (2nd half), Fables.

Panels Katie attended:
Thursday: Making Fiends, Paramount Pictures, Lost.
Friday: The Mist/Halloween, Jim Henson, Babylon 5: The Lost Tales.
Saturday: Pushing Daisies, tried to get into Heroes but got locked out, Battlestar Galactica, Buffy screening.
Sunday: Cages Talk Comics, Right at Your Door/Dragon Wars, Pathology.

*whew!* Almost done. I just need to post quotes and oddities. Well, and finish labeling the photo gallery.

Sergio Aragonés signs SoloWednesday morning before we left for San Diego, I made a last-minute addition to my small stack of stuff to get signed: Sergio Aragonés’ issue of Solo. During my first half-hour at Comic-Con on Thursday, I found myself at the Groo booth, face to face with the artist. When I asked him to sign it, he asked me whether I’d had a chance to read it yet. (I guess with the Groo 25th anniversary and drawing the cover of the con schedule, people were tracking down his stuff?) I told him I’d read it when it first came out. (I posted about the story “Heroes” on St. Patrick’s Day.)

Girl Genius Web ComicsI dropped by the Studio Foglio booth a couple of times, with the intent to get my latest Girl Genius trade signed. (It arrived in the mail earlier that week. How could I pass it up?) After collecting the individual issues to start with, I ended up buying the first two or three books direct from the source at Comic-Con a few years ago, and Phil Foglio was kind enough to sign the whole set as he sold them to me. So as the newer books have come out, I’ve brought them to cons to get them signed.

This year I managed to find Phil Foglio on Friday. He was talking with someone about site issues (which I assumed were about last month’s downtime), and apparently it’s banned in China as being “too racy.” His assistant encouraged me to just interrupt, and I got him to sign volume 6. I made sure I linked to them in that night’s con report, without realizing that the site had gone down that morning due to bandwidth issues. *sigh* Of course I took the book out of my backpack that night… but on Sunday, I wandered by the booth again, and this time Kaja Foglio was there. If I’d still had it, I could have had both of their signatures. Again, *sigh*. We talked for a bit about the switch from pamphlet-to-book to web-to-book, and about some of the T-shirt designs, and about how far ahead they had story material (years).

All-Flash #1 (2007) CoverI also kept looking for Joshua Middleton, since I wanted to get his All-Flash cover signed and show him the wallpaper I made for my cell phone, but I never saw him any of the times I went into Artists’ Alley. His table was there, but he wasn’t, and all I could think of was walking past his table at Wizard World LA back in March. Not that I had anything to get signed at the time, but still…

Of course there are always tons of booths run by small press trying to promote their works. The only one that stands out in my memory is Alcatraz High by Bobby Rubio. I talked with him, he showed me a preview issue which was funny, and I bought the first issue of the comic (figuring I’d get the next two if I liked that one), which he signed with a sketch. Unfortunately, this being several days into the con, my brain had turned to mush and I didn’t think to ask whether the story I had read was actually in #1.