I left the house around 2:30PM and the traffic was relatively light all the way down to San Diego.  I headed straight for the motel.  I got my room with no problem and then headed downtown.  I found a parking spot across from the Children's Museum just like the last couple years.  So I get my badge and head to the vendor room.  They added another whole section to the floor this year so it is bigger than ever.  I stood on one side of the hall and I could barely see the other side.

One of the best things I noticed right off the bat was the booth that had all the new LoTRs statues.  These are some high quality collectibles to be sure.  The Balrog really stands out.

LoTR- Balrog

As I was leaving that booth, I noticed that the company that actually makes the statues also had a line of dolls for Monty Python's Quest for the Holy Grail.  I had just been watching this movie again after many years and so it was very fresh in my mind.  Anyway, I had to purchase the Black Knight and I was extremely tempted to pre-order Tim the Enchanter.  Brilliant work!

On the way back to the motel, I was realizing how rotund I am becoming in the mid section.  So I decided to consume and entire pizza to make up for it.  Actually, they say that carbohydrates are the real culprit when it comes to adiposity, so I did my best to just eat the cheese and veggie toppings and leave as much of the crust as possible.  I did a little grocery shopping after that and then retired to my motel room.

I was able to take in a bit of the Fox News Channel before losing consciousness... life is good.


I woke up to the sound of the love of my life wishing me a good day over my cell phone.  I was able to hear my darling baby make a few noises as well.  I figured I had time to get downtown and get a decent parking spot since it was the first day but boy was I wrong!  Parking is worse than ever and all the fees from last year have doubled.  The highest I saw was $20!  Apparently, San Diego is building a ball park down town and that has eaten up even more of the already sparse parking.  I plan on getting up way early tomorrow and just hanging around until the doors open.

There wasn't much on the schedule for today so I decided to wait for the B5 group signing.  Vir was going to be there and I still needed his sig for my B5 Comic #1.  But as luck would have it a massive truck accident occurred on the freeway and they actually shut it down due to hazordous materials so many of the autograph booths were empty much of the day.  The B5 people will be here all four days so I should be able to catch them.

I attended a panel discussion with Joseph Michael Straczynski and John Romita Jr. who are teaming up to work on Spiderman.  I found it entertaining and insightful particularly because much of it focused on the Amazing Spiderman #36 which dealt directly with 9/11.  They both spoke about how difficult it was to do that issue because the last thing they wanted to do was somehow belittle the event.  But on the other hand how could it be ignored?  Two members in the audience thanked them for doing the issue and told them how they were teachers and actually had their classes read that issue to help explain the horror of that event.
Even though Jms curses up a storm, he strikes me as a man very concerned with morality.  I went down and got that issue soon after the panel and it was very well done: reverent, poignant, and necessary.

On a lighter note, someone asked Joe how he reacted when Marvel approached him about writing for Spiderman.  His exact words were, "Don't do that to a man in my condition."  He couldn't have been more willing and thrilled to do it because as he points out he is an über geek when it comes to comics.  He claims to mainline Dr. Strange.  He also told a great anecdote about the first time he found out he got his own comic book label "Joe's Comics" from Top Cow.  So here we have a writer who has written for television and written novels and he calls up Harlan Ellison and like a giddy school kid exclaims, "I got a comic!".  Harlan said something like, "You are such a juvenile".

Moving on... one of the things I've realized recently is that I absolutely must get a handle on my collection.  It is growing beyond my ability to remember what I have.  I have already bought duplicate issues twice because I'm not organized.  So the answer is ComicBase I attended a user group meeting for the tool and wanted to see if it would meet my needs.  When I heard that they have just added a feature to allow your list to be exported to the Palm pilot, I was immediately sold.  I will be able to stroll the vendor's floor next year and know exactly what I need and what I have all in the palm of my hand.  To make things even sweeter, they have a special price just for the con of $99.  It's a geek's dream come true.


I read up to Midnight Nation #11.  Even though I've got #12 waiting for me at Crazy Cat Comics, I just had to get the final issue #12 and finish it off.  Jms did not dissappoint me because I really enjoyed the series.  It dealt with some Biblical elements and, as usual, Jms did it with a certain amount of respect even though I know he thinks the Bible is load of horse dung especially the Old Testament.  But even the most devout Xians struggle with some of what is found there.

I purchased Micronauts #1 both the regular issue, its variant, and the Comic-Con special edition.  We'll have to see how it is.  If you were to look at my issue list you would see that the oldest books I own is a 4 issue series of X-Men and the Micronauts.  I didn't really start collecting comics until 1995 but my cousin used to try to get me into it with that series because I loved the Micronauts toy line.  I still have a whole bunch of Micronauts toys in storage.  Recently that same cousin let me know that they were doing a new Micronauts comic book that I just had to pick up.

I attended The Mars Society - San Diego presentation.  This was interesting to see a society dedicated to living on the Red Planet. They showed pictures and a movie on what it's like to work in one of their habitats. It became very clear to me that the initial existence there will be a difficult thing for people. the living area is very small in what is basically a large tin can. the thing I'll remember most from the presentation are the little things such as needing to tape tools to the wrists because the suits are so restrictive. For example, one of the guys needed to tape a pen to his wrist so he could operate his PDA when normally one could use one's digits. One of the presenters cited a geeky but funny quote about duct tape, "duct tape is like the Force there's a light side and dark side it binds the universe together." It turns out they use it for virtually everything.

I mentioned earlier how I was going to pre-order the Tim the Enchanter doll from Monty Python & the Holy Grail and that's just what I did.  The lady at the booth tried to interest me in Patsy and the Dead Collector but I really only care to own John Cleese's characters.  Here's a couple of great shots of the prototype of Tim.


JMS & Romita Jr. again.  I really like John Romita Jr.'s opinion about abstract art.  I have thought the exact same thing many times.  He pointed out that an artist that begins with abstract and that's all they do is not much of an artist.  Someone like Pollack for instance who just dribbled paint... anyone can do that.  He was careful to point out that artists that do have talent but then can also do abstract works are not included in his rant.  This kind of opinion goes against the grain of conventional wisdom and that just made me respect this guy all the more because he was willing to speak his mind in spite of the thought nazi's of the politically correct movement.

JMS, I think in an effort to take some focus off of Romita's slam against abstract artists, told the account about when the artist Paul Gauguin once observed Vincent Van Gogh at work, he scoffed, "You paint too fast." Van Gogh is said to have replied, "You look too fast."  That was pretty cool, I had not heard that one before and it does make you think.

They spoke more about Spiderman and specifically how Joe's taken Aunt May from a 2D character to a real person with a true inner strength and depth.  In recent issues, she has learned that Peter is Spiderman.  Apparently no one thought that could, or should, ever be done but it has turned out very well because it is adding so much more depth to the storyline.  I don't normally read Spiderman but I bought a issues #35-37 to have a better feel for what these guys are up to.

I finished off the day with a full preview of a new movie called Interstate 60.  It stars James Marsden, Gary Oldman, and Christopher Lloyd.  It was about a road trip across the USA on a non-existent highway.  It was kind of a cross between Twilight Zone and Alice in Wonderland.  I don't expect it's going to break any box office records because it's a bit too quirky but it was enjoyable.  I especially liked Kurt Russell's cameo.


I finally read the Watchmen.  I think the Hugo it won was well deserved because it seemed to take a significant step up from "just another comic".  It shows a side of super heroes rarely shown and is a disturbing reminder of some of the darker aspects of the real world.  I can't possibly go into the critical detail enough on just one reading so follow the link above to read a very insightful review of the series.

Thinking about where I got a lot of reading done like the Watchmen, I'm reminded to mention this little tip/trick for attending the Con.  If you aren't staying downtown then it's really good to be able to get good parking.  The most reliable way to do this is to arrive quite early, sometime between 6AM and 7:30AM is about right.  At that time, even though all the signs are up saying that the convention center parking is full, it isn't and you can get right in and park underneath the convention center.  But if you get there at that time, you've got about 4 hours to kill before the doors open so what do you do? 

It's really nice to stroll around the marina towards the back of the convention center and watch some of the cool ships cruise by but you can't do that for all 4 hours.  So when you get hungry or have some "pressing" business, just stroll back to the Marriot next to the convention center and use their clean restrooms and lounge around in their plush lobby.  So basically, you've comfortable chairs, internet access, restrooms, and the all important StarBucks stand.  It's quite the ideal environment for catching up on a few issues.

I told myself before I left the Marriot for the Con that I had already spent enough money on missing issues and the database software so I needed to initiate operation Frugal Photo.  The mission as I chose to accept it was to take as many photos as I could and thereby create a diversion from every cell in my being that was determined to spend more money.  It worked!!!  I strolled around looking for hall geeks and booth babes willing to pose for pics.  I'll let you decide the difference between a hall geek and a booth babe.

Geek or Babe?Geek or Babe?Geek or Babe?Geek or Babe?Geek or Babe?Geek or Babe?Geek or Babe?Geek or Babe?Geek or Babe?Geek or Babe?Geek or Babe?

I did other things too.  I had been waiting for Vir to show up on both Thursday and Friday and he finally showed up.  I shot over to the table and quickly donned my Babylon 5 comic #1 so Stephen Furst could be the twentieth to autograph it.  Celebrities are people too and as such there are nice ones and not so nice ones.  I must say that Stephen was one of the most personable and affable celebrities I've come across.  Compare that to Robin Atkin-Downes and you will see quite a contrast.

The rest of my day was pretty much planned out.  James Cameron showed up to push his new movie Solaris, Arnold showed up to James Cameron Arnold!!! Ben Affleck push his new movie Terminator 3, and Ben Affleck showed up to push his new movie Daredevil.  My cousin gave me strict orders to get a picture of Mr. Affleck and I wasn't about to let her down.  I mean she *really* has something for this guy and would have had me wrap him up so she could take back home with her if that was even remotely possible.

I knew the LoTRs main presentation was going to be special so I checked that out and got some real blurry pictures of 3 of the Hobbits from the movie.  Trust me, that's them ;-)  And not only the Hobbits but also the guy who played Lurtz and the guy who played Sauron the Dark Lord himself.

Masquerade!  After all that, I wanted to get into the Masquerade early so I could get a good seat this year.  I got in line at 4:30PM for an event that wasn't to begin until 8:00PM.  Ugh.  But I met some fun people in line and we took turns holding each other's spots.  They let us in at 8:00PM and I rushed up to the front and realized I had gotten right into the reserved section for staff and other VIPs.  I did my best to look important and nobody bothered me, heh heh heh.

The participants weren't as exciting as years past but here were the ones that stood out for me:

TRONPredatorRobot losing pantsEmperor Ming and Princess Aura!!!
StarWars/LoTR CrossoverI have a bone to pick with you.Jango Fett Just a Bill!

There is this guy I know (online) who goes by the handle "Emperor" and I can't wait to point out the Ming entry to him!  Not only were they dressed very much like Ming and Aura but the two comported themselves just the real characters and that is why they got a standing ovation from many.  The StarWars/Lord of the Rings crossover skit was extremely clever.  The players were Frodo Skywalker, Gandalf Kenobi, Solo Stryder, Yodaladriel, and of course the Dark Lord himself Darth Sauron.  And what a treat to have an entry to bring back memories of Schoolhouse Rock! with I'm just a bill.  That one really drew the applause but it was funny to note that the emcee's generation gap had him reminded more of Mr. Whipple than Saturday morning cartoons, LOL!!!


I got in a little later this day because I was so wiped out from the day before.  I went straight to the Roughneck Chronicles panel to see my cousin, Rodney.  He, I, and a two others helped create to support the show and so several of the people who worked on the show invited Rod to sit on the panel with them.  That's quite an honor and although my cousin fained some humility, I could tell there was no way he was going to pass up that chance.  Here he is giving me a little wave as he saw me taking pictures, then he answered two questions during the panel, and afterwards was even asked for his autograph on a poster.  Congrats, Rod, you worked real hard on that site and you deserve the distinction.

I also jotted down my favorite quote from the panel which was when Greg Weisman said he had made a deal with some other creators, " can kill him [Razak] if I can bury him."  It was a very touching wrap up to the series.

My name is Bugs Mitchell and I'm a Tim Burton fan.  I can't get enough of the Stain Boy webisodes.  So it will come as no surprise that when I saw these prototypes, juices that don't normally flow... started to.

I was hanging around some of the conference rooms upstairs and noticed the "bill" walk by.  Since he made such a good showing at the Masquerade the night before I thought I needed to get a good pic of him.

I was taking a next to last look around and noticed these incredibly cool Matrix statues.  I think Trinity looks the best out of the bunch... both as a statue and character!

Agent SmithVirus?MorpheusTrinityNeo

I wanted to swing by the Lord of the Rings booth once more before I left just in case there were anymore goodies to be had.  I'm glad I did because I was able to get a set of 12 LoTR buttons.  This was the perfect little way to wrap up another very enjoyable year.

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