San Diego Comic Con 2018, Day 3 Mega-Super-Duper post…

Just going with the flow.  My view, as I headed back for a ‘hotel break’ midday (Day 3) before I returned for the evening’s entertainment.

Last night ended Day 3 of San Diego Comic Con.   Despite some disappointments earlier in the day, the night ended on a high note for me.  It also reinforced a long-held belief of mine when it comes to conventions; have backup plans when your primary goals fall apart, and most importantly, allow room for the unexpected, because the unexpected is usually the best and most memorable stuff!


My original plan was to try to get into a few off-site panels at the Bayfront hotel.  There was a panel for the new upcoming season of COSMOS (a continuation of both the original 1980 series and its 2014 revival, starring my hero, Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson) and a panel for the upcoming second season of Seth MacFarlane’s hit new sci-fi series “The Orville,” of which I’ve become a fan.


Well, I woke up at 4 am that morning, went online to see the San Diego Comic Con blog on Twitter, and found out the line to get into the Bayfront ballroom was already 100 deep, and growing rapidly.   Now, I hadn’t even had breakfast or showered yet; not to mention that I’m not a young man, so the idea of squatting on pavement for hours on end just to see press junkets (that I can watch in entirety on YouTube the next day) is no longer my idea of a good time, so I passed.

Luckily, I had a backup plan to see several easier-access panels much later on in the evening, which I did.  More on those later.

In the meantime I decided to roam around the convention and take pictures of cosplayers, meet a longtime friend for lunch, and to rest my aching joints.  I would then come back to the convention center in the evening for my ‘backup plan.’

First, the pictures:

“Who’s this joker?”  Excellent recreation of Jack Nicholson’s “Joker” from Tim Burton’s 1989 movie,“Batman.”
From “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?”  Jessica Rabbit cuddles up to her interspecies hubby, Roger.
Walk-in booth/exhibit for Matt Groening’s new Netflix animated series, “Disenchantment.”  Groening is, of course, the creator of “The Simpsons” and “Futurama.”
From “Doctor Who”; the 4th Doctor (with Tom Baker’s classic scarf and coat) finds detente with a Dalek!
“By your command!”  A Cylon from the 1978 version of “Battlestar Galactica.”  You can see my reflection in his armor (oops!).  At Comic Con, you don’t have much time to plan, let alone finesse your shots.  You shoot your pics quick and dirty.
A Kenner toy-style mockup of the Millennium Falcon’s cockpit from “Star Wars.”  Hey, if you can’t afford to see the big Star Wars attraction at Disneyland when it opens?  This will work…
From “Star Wars”: Rey (from “Rogue One”) a Sith Lord and a spot-on Obi Wan Kenobi (the prequels’ version).
Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” unite (with a few Marvel mashups mixed in…).
“Captain Caveman meets Fred Flintstone!”   Had an unexpected encounter with Captain Caveman behind the meeting rooms and it became an impromptu photo op, with about five or more photographers gathering to take our picture (I managed to talk someone into taking our pics for our two phones as well).
A beautiful black & blue Artoo unit from “Star Wars”
From “Star Wars”: A TIE fighter pilot stands with his dark lord, Darth Vader
Crossplay for the Twin Girls from “The Shining” (1980); would’ve loved to have taken their picture down the corridor (to look more like the movie’s hotel set) but they were standing in line for an event in Ballroom 20, so I had to take their pic where they were standing.
The new version of DC’s “Aquaman”, who is much cooler looking than the goofy guy in the orange and green swim clothes…
From “The Incredibles”; baby “Jack-Jack” and his mom, “Elasti-Girl.”
Not sure who this character was supposed to be, but he looked (and acted) the part (whatever it was) very well.
From the original Star Trek; a pair of blue-skinned, antennaed Andorians
Han Solo, from “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”
From Instagram (via a friend of mine):  My wife as “Muriel” from “Courage the Cowardly Dog”, taking part in a SyFy sponsored Fan Creator Awards parade, in which she was given a medal and some nice SyFy swag for her brilliant costume, as well as for some terrific answers she gave to an online questionnaire.   SO PROUD of my bright and talented wife!
Actor Orlando Jones (2002’s “The Time Machine”, TV’s “American Gods”) in the SyFy Fan Creators’ parade.  He’s the one who gave my wife her award.
My wife had her pic taken for  I love this pic of her!
Had my own pic taken for (the Huffington Post).  I’ve been doing Fred Flintstone at Comic Con and other conventions for about 9 years now, and I’m not as surprised (though I’m always grateful) to see my picture in the press. took my pic later on as well…

The most surprising thing for me occurred as I walked along the Gaslamp Quarter to return to the convention center (around 3:45-4 pm or so).  I was politely stopped by a couple of guys from SyFy network (the same group who awarded my wife earlier) and they told me they were asking cosplayers if they would read selections from classic literature for their camera (in character, of course).   I said sure, why not?

I didn’t have my glasses on (I don’t wear them when I’m ‘in character’), but luckily they had cue cards with letters big enough (and far enough away) for me to read without them.   This Fred Flintstone is seriously farsighted.   I signed the TV release forms (necessary whenever you agree to appear on US television) and we got started.  They asked me if I would read the “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” passage from Charles Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities.”  So I read it for them twice for safety, ending each reading with a somber ad-libbed “Yabba-dabba-doooo…” which they liked very much.  It’s due to air sometime next month (August).   I had a blast!   Thank you SyFy network, both for awarding my brilliant wife’s creativity, and for giving me my TV ‘acting debut’ (hehe…).

Last year I got to ‘model’ for the King Kong exhibit; this year I got to act.  Yeah, yeah, I know; another model who wants to act, right?  Oldest story in Hollywood.   Haha…

I’ve seen them at WonderCon and at previous ComicCons, but I always enjoy this group’s LBGTQ-twist on Star Wars cosplay!
Bejeweled, Feudal Japanese take on Star Wars’ Darth Vader

Then, around 4 pm, it was time to implement my ‘backup plan’; since I avoided the overcrowded “COSMOS” & “Orville” panels, I decided to attend two other events in the (briefly) less occupied Room 6CDF (one of the larger venues, though nowhere near as big as Hall H or Ballroom 20).   I dragged my blistering, tired, sandaled feet (still wearing my Fred costume) into the room to find that, to my surprise, it was still about 2/3rds empty (really rare for Comic Con these days).  I grabbed a nice, 7th row right-side aisle seat and sat through several panels.  Of course, as I sat, it rapidly filled up.

Comic Con, like nature itself, abhors a vacuum…

Well, it was empty for a while anyway…

First up was a panel that I frankly don’t even remember; sadly, I used it as a ‘social media break’ to catch up with everybody.  Then it was onto the next one;

The panel for the TV adaptation of the popular horror franchise “The Purge”, which promises to go into further depth of the “Purge” movie’s concept of a single, annually-sanctioned night of total lawlessness and anarchy as a way of lowering crime the rest of the year..
Cast and creators/producers/directors of “The Purge” movies and TV series.  The series is coming to USA network this August.   I’ve only seen The first Purge movie, but it had a very interesting premise, that reminded me of the classic Star Trek episode, “The Return of the Archons”;  in which a ruling, mind-controlling computer allowed a night of utter chaos for its citizenry in exchange for their robotic, emotionless existence the rest of the time.
The cast and creators of “The Purge” exit their panel; to the left, there was an advertisement for “Purge City”; a local Party City shop in downtown San Diego temporarily converted to a Purge stock-up center, where one can buy weapons, food, defenses, etc for the coming ‘purge night.’

Then came the panel I’d waited the entire day for…the 25th anniversary panel for my favorite animated movie of all time: Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas” (1993).  I’d taken a LOT of photos during this panel, and am sharing a few of them here, but I’m holding onto a few others for a special retrospective I’m planning for the film this October.   But here are a few that capture (I hope?) the overall essence of the event:

Before the panel began, I spotted a terrific “Jack Skellington” cosplayer; she really went all-out for her cosplay, and she had a wonderful flair for the dramatic!
“The Nightmare Before Christmas” panel begins with a bit of promotion for the Disney’s D23 Official Fan Club…
The panel consisted of director Henry Selick (no, contrary to popular misconception, Tim Burton did not direct the film; he only wrote the poem on which it was based), stop-motion animator Anthony Scott, editor Edie Ichioka (who also had a voice cameo as one of the parents of a ‘real world’ child later on), animator director Bill Boes, and art director Kelly Asbury (who is now an animated feature director as well).   Oh, and there was one more BIG surprise….
…the moderator for the panel was no less than writer/graphic novelist/legend Neil Gaiman (!!).   He is the creator of the popular graphic novel series “Sandman” and I am a big fan of his amazing stop-motion animated feature “Coraline” (which took him ten years to write) as well as other projects.
“Nightmare” director Henry Selick (“Coraline,” “Monkey Bone”) and animator Anthony Scott.  I used to think Jack Skellington was based on Tim Burton, but after observing Selick firsthand, it’s clear that his movements (the flailing arms, the expressive face, etc) were clearly those of director Selick.  This feeling of mine was later confirmed during the panel…
Art director Kelly Asbury‘s gently mocking illustration of director Selick, made during production of “Nightmare”, back in 1992…
A typically ‘animated’ Henry Selick relates one of his colorful stories of directing the film…
Animator Anthony Scott told an interesting story about how he stop-motion animated almost the entire sequence of Jack’s ‘fall from the sky’ when his sleigh is shot down on Christmas Eve (one of my single favorite sequences in the movie).   He’d said that some of Jack’s melancholy and introspectiveness was mirrored in the animator’s life at the time as well.  That connection between animator and subject really comes through in the work.
The production crew of “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”
Actual photos from the wrap party, with the cast/crew wearing costumes from the show.  It’s obvious that those involved had tremendous affection for the material.
The Mayor of Halloweentown crashes the party…
… as does the villainous Oogie-Boogie!
The cultural impact of the movie was felt decades after its release, as it continues to grow in popularity.  When I first saw it on Halloween afternoon of 1993 (at age 26), I knew it was special.  I immediately fell in love with the film, and have seen it countless times in cinema, on VHS, on laserdisc, DVD and on Blu-Ray.  It’s now one of my top 10 films of all time.
Bill Boes presented a special treat to the panel audience; an actual piece of Halloweentown, made back in 1992.   After the panel, Boes graciously agreed to turn the model around for me to photograph…
… (as he joked) its ‘high-tech’ construction of cardboard and hot glue (!).  My own wife teaches animation (including stop-motion, and I thought she’d get a particular kick out of seeing this…
One of the fans handed out to the audience during the panel.  I was hoping to get it autographed after the panel, but sadly, the panelists had limited time to sign and were not able to accommodate all of the fans’ requests.   A real shame, but I’m not crying over it.  The panel itself was extraordinary, entertaining and very informative.  And it was a lot of fun, too!

So ended the panels.  It was around 10 pm, and I was exhausted, my arthritis was hurting like hell, and I still had to walk back to the hotel.  The foot traffic on the streets, even at that hour, was about as intense as it was in the afternoon (see the photo at the top of the post) but the vibe was a little different.  There were, as always at Comic Con on Saturday night, parties everywhere.   With costumed, occasionally inebriated revelers packed on every corner?  The feeling was almost more like Mardi Gras than Comic Con…

Leaving the convention center at the end of Day Three…
Downtown San Diego nightlife in the Gaslamp Quarter…
Lit cycle-rickshaws wait to take a few equally lit conventioneers and partygoers back to their hotels…
I encountered this colorful “Party-Bot” right across the street from my hotel..

That crazy-looking robot was followed by a half-starved, me returning to our room, wolfing down down a horrible microwaved dinner of a lean Hot Pocket & veggie chips.   Soon after, my wife came in from the Masquerade Ball.  We were both pretty well spent, but it was that kind of elated exhaustion that comes after a full and wonderful day.

Thus ended Day 3 of San Diego Comic Con.  As I write this, late in the afternoon of Sunday July 22nd, the 4th and final ‘official’ day of San Diego Comic Con is over now.  More to come on that one in the next and final San Diego Comic Con 2018 mega-post.

Stay tuned…

6 Comments Add yours

  1. Paul Bowler says:

    What a great round up of your time at SDCC2018. So many great cosplay and costumes, and loved all that Nightmare Before Christmas stuff! Looks like you had an amazing time! 🙂

  2. Thanks for the write up about the Nightmare Before Christmas panel! It’s my favorite movie of all-time! I really enjoyed reading about it. I’m still holding out hope that Disney has more plans to celebrate the 25th anniversary this Fall.

    One small point I want to make. While Henry Selick definitely deserves a lot of credit for directing the movie, Tim Burton definitely had a lot of input. Tim is credited as the Producer. He collaborated with Danny Elfman early on. Danny wrote the music before production of the movie started. Tim asked Henry to direct, as he was busy directing Batman Returns at the time. As you pointed out, it’s based on Tim’s story. This is all why the official title of the film is Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas.

    1. First, thanks so much for reading!
      According to Selick and others on the panel, many plot/story changes were made (and even entirely new characters, such as Oogie-Boogie) after Burton submitted his original poem/draft.

      While it is undeniably Burton’s original creation, it really took a village to make the Holiday Towns. 😉

      Thanks again for reading, and it’s always nice to hear from a fellow fan of what is, in my opinion, the finest stop motion feature film ever created.

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