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San Diego Comic-Con

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

PHOTOS BY NATE "IGOR" SMITH AND KEITH PLOCEK
  • Photos by Nate "Igor" Smith and Keith Plocek
The last weekend of July saw both Comic-Con and Gathering of the Juggalos, a coincidence that not only ate up Internet bandwidth but also made clear that the two events are more similar than they may seem. Sure, one took place in the air conditioning of the San Diego Convention Center, and is so broad that it now encompasses everything from comic books to sci-fi to to sitcoms like The Big Bang Theory. The other, in an outdoor concert venue in  Thornville, Ohio, was specifically for fans of the hip hop group Insane Clown posse, and the only vaguely Hollywood person there was Gilbert Gottfried.

But both are pilgrimages that give devotees a chance to feel a part of something greater than themselves. Both are "a place where I can find freaks just like me." Both feature costumes aplenty. The mentions of both awaken in your mom the same level of vague awareness.

From our multitude of photos — and yes, both involve way too much photo-taking — we found that each festival has the same kinds of people, visual proof that these two may be, if not brothers from another mother, at least estranged cousins from another grandmother.

Below are 11 people you see at both Gathering of the Juggalos (first photo) and Comic-Con (second photo). —Zachary Pincus-Roth

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Friday, August 1, 2014

How Cosplayer Rana McAnear (Face of Samara in Mass Effect), Transforms at Comic-Con from Voice Media Group on Vimeo.

Rana McAnear had responded to a post on Model Mayhem, the social network that connects artists with models. The request came from Bioware, the video game company, and was for someone with "strong features."

McAnear has plenty of those: large, deep set eyes, a strong chin, sharp, high cheekbones. The Los Angeles-based model/actor got the job. The company 3D scanned her face. Nine months later, McAnear was Samara, a major character in Mass Effect 2. It changed her life. These days, fans can spot her at conventions like San Diego Comic-Con dressed as Samara or Morinth, another character for whom she is the face.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

George R.R. Martin greets a cosplayer at San Diego Comic-Con. - LIZ OHANESIAN
  • Liz Ohanesian
  • George R.R. Martin greets a cosplayer at San Diego Comic-Con.
"I sold my first story in '71," says George R.R. Martin. "I didn't go full-time until '79."

We're in a room called a "pod" in the middle of a Petco Park parking lot in San Diego on the final day of Comic-Con. It's part of an exhibition from Courtyard Marriott, who is reaching out to travelers by showcasing their "innovation rooms" during days of cosplay contests and special guest appearances. Today is the grand finale with the reveal of the contest winners, who are crowned by Martin. The author of the series A Song of Ice and Fire, which became the television series Game of Thrones, answers questions from the event's MC, Noah Cappe, and fans in the crowd. After that, he meets with press. That's how we ended up in the pod, where I asked him about the times he felt like a struggling writer.

Martin says that he was a "rising writer" for years. "I was publishing more and more, but I still wasn't making enough money to live on," he says. Martin recalls wondering if he would spend his life working as a teacher (which he did for a while) or a journalist (his college major) and writing on the side. "In the history of science fiction, some of the giants of the Golden Age never were full-time writers," he says. He mentions Clifford Simak, the famed sci-fi writer who was a journalist by day.

"The other thing," Martin adds," is that in this business, you're only as hot as your latest book." After finally transitioning to full-time writer, Martin wrote a novel called Armageddon Rag. It wasn't a big seller. "Suddenly, my career as a novelist was over. I couldn't get a publisher to buy my next novel. Nobody wanted to know my name."

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Monday, July 28, 2014

Play this game and win a donut butt pillow. - LIZ OHANESIAN
  • Liz Ohanesian
  • Play this game and win a donut butt pillow.
This August, The Simpsons makes it syndication debut on cable channel FXX with a 12-day marathon that will include 552 episodes of the long-running animated comedy. At San Diego Comic-Con, the people from FXX got fans ready for this monstrous television marathon. They set up a mini-carnival outside of the San Diego Convention Center where fans could play games, check out cool video experiences and grab some cotton candy. While they waited in line, they could build their own emergency kit.

"We're going to have them put together a little kit that's going to contain all the things you need if you stopped your life to watch the marathon for 12 days," says Kenya Hardaway, vice president of integrated promotions at FXX. That includes snacks, water, a flashlight and a blanket.

Called "Homer's Dome," the central piece to this outdoor exhibition was an oversized recreation of Homer Simpson's bald head. Inside the dome, fans could check out highlights from the show and get a glimpse of Simpson's World, a digital portal for watching the show on demand set to launch in October.

In addition, there was a large, paint-by-numbers piece displayed on the grassy area, and the Kwik-E Race, one of those carnival games that seem designed for crushing defeat. Here, however, everyone won. The prize was a donut-shaped butt pillow, perhaps the strangest, yet shockingly appropriate, piece of swag at the convention.

"That's going to help them sit through that marathon," says Hardaway. It probably came in handy when sitting through panels at Comic-Con too.

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Friday, July 25, 2014

At Gentle Giant, Star Wars merchandise was selling out. - LIZ OHANESIAN
  • Liz Ohanesian
  • At Gentle Giant, Star Wars merchandise was selling out.

It was like Black Friday, but without the deeply discounted entertainment systems and Wal-Mart brawls. At 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, San Diego Comic-Con had opened its exhibit hall. Throngs of attendees with the coveted Preview Night badge, allowing access to the venue a day early, were ready to shop. Security ushered the crowd into the building with reminders of "Don't push!" A line wrapped around the second floor of the convention center, starting at the top of one escalator and ending at the bottom of another one. On the final escalator ride, fans cheered. San Diego Comic-Con had started. They had gotten through the line. Inside the exhibit hall, they would probably have to stand in a few more.

San Diego Comic-Con is as famous for its lines as it is for celebrity sightings and an hour wait is nothing when it comes to scoring the latest, and most collectible, merchandise. Nearly every booth in here, from corporate toy companies to independent comic book artists, will offer something that's exclusive to Comic-Con. Those include comics with variant covers, limited edition toys and small-run t-shirts. "That's one of the appeals of the show," says Chris Callahan, writer and artist of the comic book series RoboChuck. Years before, Callahan would come to Comic-Con to shop for exclusives. This year, he has his own, a version of the first issue of his comic with a variant cover and bonus material.

Vendors may bring exclusive items to other conventions, but not to this extent. The weeks leading up to Comic-Con are filled with big announcements about one wild exclusive after the next. For the companies, this convention is the perfect audience for unusual merchandise. "Comic-Con has become one of those shows where you get a lot of the early adopters," says Mel Caylo, marketing manager for Boom! Studios, whose own exclusives included a mini-comic housed in an old video game cartridge. "They're the ones who have that fervor to come to a show like this, come to the booth as soon as it opens and get that exclusive because they want to be the first person to possess that."

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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Rob Inderrieden

San Diego Comic-Con is a lot of things to a lot of people. You can bemoan the commercialization and curse the movie studios, but while you're doing that, be sure to appreciate the magic of thousands upon thousands of super-fans dressing up as their favorite characters for no other reason than because it's fantastically fun.

Where else are you going to see Marty McFly hanging out with the Joker, Thor, Tank Girl, Snow White, Chun-Li and Deadmau5 Spider-Man?

Here we present 69 (dudes!) of our favorite cosplayers...

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Monday, July 22, 2013

Monday, July 22, 2013

Fandom

Why Comic-Con Is Really About Community

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Mon, Jul 22, 2013 at 10:57 AM

When religious protestors showed up at Comic-Con, attendees responded with absurd signs. - LIZ OHANESIAN
  • Liz Ohanesian
  • When religious protestors showed up at Comic-Con, attendees responded with absurd signs.
In Southern California, you can be certain that the bigger the event, the more religious protestors you'll see across the street. Oftentimes, convention-goers will counter the protestors with signs bearing absurd slogans. That was the case in San Diego this year, when attendees dropped as many nerdy references as they could squeeze onto a piece of cardboard.

Usually I try to ignore the people with the fire-and-brimstone signs. If world history has taught us anything, it's that religious arguments don't end with a cordial handshake. On Sunday, though, I was stuck on a corner across from the San Diego Convention Center just a few feet away from a guy with a megaphone. He was going on about "darkness," which I humbly submit isn't a bad thing, but we can talk about that later. I started grumbling to myself. Some others in the crowd challenged him loudly. The guy with the megaphone turned to one and lashed out with some insults.

Then, in the back of this tightly packed crowd, a man started singing "Joy to the World," the Three Dog Night song that begins with "Jeremiah was a bullfrog." By the time he reached the chorus, the bulk of the convention-goers had joined him in song.

See also:

*Why Regular Show Is So Huge at Comic-Con This Year

*Thrilling Adventure Hour Heads to Comic-Con With Kickstarter-Funded Comic Book

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Sunday, July 21, 2013

Emily_the_Strange_01.jpg
Twenty years ago, Emily the Strange first appeared on t-shirts and other odds and ends. Now, the 13-year-old girl with the long black hair, black dress and penchant for cats is the star of novels, comic books, iPhone apps and so much more.

Most recently, she's been fronting a band, Emily and the Strangers. Their adventures are documented in the comic book series of the same name, published by Dark Horse Comics. But it's more than that. Emily and the Strangers are the band credited with a new single, "Calling All Guitars," and a video. They're an animated band in the vein of Dethklok and Gorillaz, but with a spunky sound and lyrics that promote the idea of living your life the way you see fit. The music and accompanying video were funded by a Kickstarter campaign held this past April. On Saturday evening, the video premiered at Tiger, Tiger in San Diego at a special party held for Kickstarter backers. Since I pledged to the campaign, I was able to attend.

I pledged to the campaign because I've been a fan of Emily since my own teenage years. Sometime around 1994, I stumbled across a few stickers and felt some sort of kinship with the pale, sullen character whose image was accompanied by quotes that encapsulated the isolated, but not necessarily lonely, existence of misfit high school kids. The slogans were poignant, but still funny. Emily was a weird kid and she liked being a weird kid. That was absolutely relatable.

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Saturday, July 20, 2013

J.G. Quintel, creator of Regular Show, left, meets Muscle Man come to life. - LIZ OHANESIAN
  • Liz Ohanesian
  • J.G. Quintel, creator of Regular Show, left, meets Muscle Man come to life.

J.G. Quintel has been going to San Diego Comic-Con for a decade now. He started out his journey here as a fan, a CalArts student who caught wind of the event from his brother. Quintel would register to attend the convention after he arrived at the venue. He would walk into panels at Hall H, now the home of blockbuster convention talks and long lines. He did this anonymously. Ten years ago, people didn't recognize Quintel.

Just as San Diego Comic-Con has grown in popularity over the past few years, so has Quintel. He created an animated series for Cartoon Network called Regular Show. It's about a bluejay named Mordecai, a raccoon named Rigby and their eclectic group of friends.

Over the course of four seasons, it's become a commercial and critical success Regular Show already has an Emmy to its name and was just nominated for two more. People cosplay characters from the show at conventions and swap all sorts of Regular Show references online.

Here at Comic-Con, the fans are plentiful. They packed a large hotel ballroom for a Regular Show panel on Friday morning. That afternoon, they were waiting in line for entrance to the Regular Show Regular Zone exhibition at the New Children's Museum, located across the street from the convention, next to a small park where inflatable versions of Mordecai and Rigby are hosted high in there. This is Regular Show's year at Comic-Con, and no one is feeling it more than Quintel.

See also:

*Why J.G. Quintel Loves Using '80s Technology in Cartoon Network's Hit Regular Show

*Thrilling Adventure Hour Heads to Comic-Con With Kickstarter-Funded Comic Book

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Friday, July 19, 2013

COURTESY OF ARCHAIA
  • Courtesy of Archaia

Ben Blacker had just arrived at San Diego Comic-Con when we met. The writer was preparing for a whirlwind of events surrounding Thrilling Adventure Hour, the live show he created with Ben Acker eight years ago. There's a signing, an official Comic-Con panel and four sold-out evening performances of the stage show that's captivated live audiences in Los Angeles and Nerdist podcast listeners worldwide.

Inspired by radio drama, Thrilling Adventure Hour has everything a genre entertainment–loving, pop culture fanatic could want. Tales of science fiction, mystery and, of course, adventure unfold with help from a cast -- known as the Workjuice Players -- that includes cult TV stars like John DiMaggio (Futurama, Adventure Time) and James Urbaniak (The Venture Bros.). Their roster of past guest stars -- including Patton Oswalt, Neil Patrick Harris and Nathan Fillion -- reads like a who's who of geek-world icons. Despite the cred, Thrilling Adventure Hour hasn't had a presence at SDCC until this year.

See also:

*Thrilling Adventure Hour Interviews: Ben Acker and Ben Blacker

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