God does not want me in San Diego. Due to a severe lack of funding and a prevalence of night-terrors involving sexual assault by Triffids, I did not plan on returning to the Convention Center this year, but friendship smiled upon me. One friend was able to procure me a pass, and our own Drew Morton opened up his loving embrace and offered up the spare bed in his hotel room for myself and the missus. So how I could refuse? The Guild of Calamitous Intent assembled, the Sinister Six revved up their Doomsday Device, and Sylar did some queer shit with his fingers, and I was off to see The Wizard. Who would be signing at Autograph Station #6 from 2 PM - 4:30 PM if you got a ticket from Booth #4451. Bring your pretzel dog.
My intent was to leave work early, drive down the coast, and catch the late panels Friday night: DC Universe had some new animated PG-13 films, Leslie Nielsen keeping the fart alive as Stan Helsing, and if I couldn’t get into the advanced screening of Angel of Death with Zoe Bell and Ted Raimi, surely I would make it for Danny DeVito’s new horror project The Blood Factory. What normally takes around two hours and some change turned into a hellacious five-and-a-half hour Bhatan Death trek down the vortex of purgatory that is the freeway system with roads ending in fives. I missed the goddamn registration time window by at least two hours, and was ready to turn back and give up on the whole fucking thing. But I got some zucchini muffins and beef jerky in me, calmed down, and cruised the rest of the way to the hotel. My girlfriend really likes the Wild Animal Park.
I was to meet my friend who works for the con at the convention center, while Drew and his lady would follow in suit. I was hoping to get maybe a temporary pass for Saturday, and squat in Hall H all day. Instead, I was given a full pass, and escorted to the venue before anyone else was even let into the room. Absolute power corrupts, goddamn you, and it went straight to my head, as I bundled up my “Lost” swag and settled in to my up front seat for some serious Kindle time.
And as I sat there, watching security prime themselves for the first wave of geekery that would come dashing into the massive enclave — Hall H is decked out in a mad cross between a Citizen Kane rally and the 1984 video for Apple — I realized that grown adults were about to get shouted at like they were on the goddamn playground (No running in the halls! Put that down, you don’t know where it’s been! Go play a sport, fattie!). Sure, I was chuckling at the morbid irony of the man with the microphone berating the disabled guests to walk to their seats, but then I realized that the motorized wheelchair folks really WERE racing their scooters as fast as they could to get prime spots. To be that much closer to the action. To the fucking commercials.
Cause that’s what Hall H is. It’s a fucking commercial. People started lining up for the “Lost” panel the fucking NIGHT BEFORE, just to be first in line so they could maybe catch a glimpse from afar of Josh Holloway. I love “Lost,” but Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof are notorious dissemblers. They revel in giving out absolutely no answers, like the smug fuck who knows who killed Mr. Boddy. For years, they get up and basically answer shit. And sure, it’s cool to see when they cobble together five minutes of special video — this year it was a commercial featuring Hugo Reyes pitching for Mr. Cluck’s Chicken the new Outback Chicken Platter — but really, this shit’s going to be up on YouTube in about 15 minutes. All this news will be Tweeted, Twooshed, blogged, videoposted, chopped, smothered, remixed, and feature a cameo by that Chocolate Rain kid, who now probably has his own fucking booth. The entire point of Comic-Con is to be that fucking guy who can post FIRST! Does it matter that you got to see the first glimpse of War Machine before everyone else?
Well, yeah, bitch. It do.
I sat in an uncomfortable ass chair to watch Darlton tell me that the bomb was successful and essentially wiped out whatever happened the last five seasons. I waited three hours to find out that Claire’s probably coming back, and Juliet didn’t die. There were celebrity guests: Jorge Garcia (Hurley), Michael Emerson (Ben), Nestor Carbonell (Richard Alpert), and Josh Holloway (Sawyer). But seriously — most of their schtick involved horrendously cheesy joke routines like they were auditioning rejected SNL Host Monologues. Dominic Monaghan, who was there for a totally different project, walked out to insane screaming from the audience. And then they ended the panel. He didn’t talk. Charlie isn’t coming back to the show. Neither are most of the other actors who were offed because of off-screen DUI-ing. It’s cool to see how much Cuse and Lindelof appreciate their fans, and how they can cobble together neat little side webisodes and content, but really, do I need to stand in a ridiculous line to see that?
Instead of staying where I was and guaranteeing myself a front row seat to see commercials for the new Mike Judge movie Extract, some footage from Zombieland and 2012, and the megasuperultra Iron Man 2 trailer, I decided, fuck this, I’m gonna go look at some other stuff. So I tried to get in line for “Futurama,” but the hall filled immediately. Which turned out to be a boon in disguise, since apparently contract negotiations AREN’T going so well, and the entire original cast was a no-show. Groening and Cohen basically had to apologize to the audience and tell them to keep the faith and this was all just business. And that’s the problem. Most of Comic-Con has become “just business.” Friday night, obsessive Twilight fans camped out in Hall H, totally cockblocking anyone who wanted to see the new Hayao Miyazaki footage, just so they could scream for 15 minutes at a clip from New Moon. The fire marshall had to shut down Hall H for the Iron Man 2 clip, but I could walk completely unmolested into a panel featuring Ray Bradbury. Fahrenheit 451, you stupid anime fucks. Now get the goddamn giant blue guitar out of my face, cock-knocker.
So abandoning the fucking perma-commercials of shit I couldn’t care less about, I decided to wander. And it was to my benefit. While waiting for the Green Lantern: Blackest Night panel to start (I went to pitch news to my brother, who apparently already knew everything I told him about it, dammit), I stumbled into a Cartoon Voiceover actors panel. Apparently, they gather six actors together to talk about the biz. It was Fred Tatasciore, Laraine Newman, Chuck McCann, another woman named Vanessa, James Arnold Taylor, and Bill Farmer — the voice of Goofy. It was the best damn panel I’ve ever been to. Listening to these actors tell anecdotes about Mel Blanc and working on Scooby Doo and being starstruck by Casey Kasem, it was amazing. They all performed a Superman script, where the moderator would call out “Change” and the actor had to repeat the line in a totally different character voice than they had been doing. Jor-El went from majestic to Charles Nelson Reilly in milliseconds. And the actors would ad-lib in the new voice, and I was rolling on the floor.
Voiceover actors are genuinely wonderful people. They told the tale of this one actor who asked if he could get more work before June because he needed to keep his SAG health benefits. His daughter was sick. So the other actors gave up work so he could take the job, and then said, “If he sucks, I’ll redo it, but give him the work.” It’s some serious Frank Capra schmaltz, but fuck if it wasn’t true. Cartoon voices are powerful. The actor who voiced Mickey Mouse and Bill Farmer went to a cancer ward for Make-A-Wish, and they met a little girl who wouldn’t take her chemo because it made her feel bad. So they talked to her as Mickey and Goofy and said, “Well, Mickey takes his medicine because it makes him better. And you gotta be brave.” And they found out a few months later that the little girl immediately started taking her chemo, and the cancer went into remission. I mean, it’s fucking pathos worthy of a Lifetime movie, but these people care. And that’s kind of nice.
So I didn’t give a shit that I didn’t make it into Iron Man. Instead, I got in line for the Kevin Smith talk, because anymore — as evident by his box office receipts — nobody gives a shit about Kevin Smith. The diehard fans like myself, we go to the panel because it’s listening to a dude wax ecstatic about interesting shit for about an hour and a half. It’s what you wish Stephen King’s backpage article for EW was like. A guy in the industry riffing on crazy shit. This year, it was a fucking disappointment. Don’t get me wrong, he was busting out the hilarity doing schtick on Twilight and slinging the usual cock jokery and what have you. But apparently, he went into a deep depression because Zack and Miri tanked, and started smoking pot. ALOT. Now, granted, he makes stoner comedies, but he wasn’t a crazy stoner. That’s why I respected him. He basically came out baked and just sort of rambled all chill for the whole time. It’s like a really funny friend who hugs everybody. Sure, he’s still funny, but it’s not that usual whipcrack brilliance you expect. He didn’t have a clip from A Couple of Dicks. And when he talked about it, all he would say was that it didn’t look anything like his movies, and he thought it was hilarious, and that it was the Bruce Willis from “Moonlighting” / Last Boy Scout. He’s working on a hockey movie called Hit Somebody, which is based on the Warren Zevon song written by Mitch Albom. Again, no details. He’s put Ranger Danger and the Danger Rangers and Red State on the backburner until he can find funding. Mostly he talked about nothing. Which is what he usually does. Except now, he did it while dreaming about Funyuns.
It’s the moments like the Voiceover Panel that get me coming back. The artists are really appreciative of their fans and they show it. But it can be fucking scary. I hadn’t seen my friend Trish in almost seven years, so I went to visit her where she was modeling at the Mattel booth: a giant fucking Castle Greyskull entrance flanked by a He-Man statue. I walked up to the lone blonde Ghostbuster to ask if she had a cute brunette partner lurking around. She was at lunch. I realized immediately that this poor girl thought I was probably a fanboy stalker, because they were all decked out in sexy Ghostbuster gear — short shorts, fuck me boots, and super-boober shirts. So I wandered over to watch the Star Wars: Old Republic videogame trailer — which was fucking awesome. A youngish Darth Vader in his scuba gear goes all Tony Montana with a horde of dark jedi on a youngish Jedi Academy. Lots of lightsaber battles and forcepushing, and some chick Boba Fett action. Then they started to hand out T-Shirts, and it was like someone dropped the chess club in the middle of a zombie horde. Hands clutching, bodies lurching forward, unintelligible screaming. I quickly made haste for the sanctuary of Greyskull. When Trish came back from break, I hugged her (immediately gaining a +7 to my awesomeness factor to all the jealous geeks looming about), but that was about all we had time to chat about as she was immediately beset by nervous 12 year olds with camera phones undoubtedly seeking masturbation fodder for the lonely hotel stay.
I made my way out of the convention hall, only to find myself a foot from Mark Hamill — Luke Skywalker himself. Hamill’s looking a little more Emperor these days than Luke, but he’s incredibly accommodating. He was posing with big smiles with the fans — only topped by Thomas Ian Lennon (Dangle from “Reno 911”) who when posing for photos would choke people or point at their cocks and grin deviously. Hamill was doing the Joker voice on people’s cell phones, almost anything. I almost got a picture, but I got bumped by a passing swarm of Monarch Minions and missed it, and then was asked by security to move along.
As I was trying to find a suitable pickup location, I was leaving the con, wondering if I’d bother to come back next year. The panels were pretty lame, “Lost” is wrapping up, and really, there wasn’t anything I was keen that I felt like I missed. I was stuck in a mass of sub-humanity: girls with purple hair wearing French maid outfits with a giant cardboard sword on the back, kids with shirts that read “And Buffy Staked Edward. The End,” steampunk people decked out in full Victorian SyFy regalia, a fucking stormtrooper pushing a baby carriage. It was actually a foot traffic jam as we had to wait at each stoplight for the crowd to pass through. At one point, the crossing guard halted us, and the last guy in line was dressed as some kind of hobbit. He got to the middle of the intersection, turned back to the crowd and shouted, “NONE SHALL PASS!” We were laughing, but quickly our attention was drawn to a girl dressed in a RenFair corset and capri pants playing fiddle on the grass for gas money while Boba Fett danced a hoedown jig on the sidewalk.
You better fucking believe I’ll be back next year. And I’m bringing my brother.
Brian Prisco is a bitter little man stomping sour grapes into fine whine in the valleys of North Hollywood. He’s a screenwriter who’s never been professionally produced, an actor who’s never joined a guild, and a director who made one bad film. He’s one waiter apron away from a cliche, and he’s available for children’s parties. You can tell him how much you hate him at priscogospel at hotmail dot com.