The big-time film and TV panels that are hosted in the San Diego Convention Center's mammoth Hall H during Comic-Con are usually epic in a number of ways, particularly on Saturday which is the con's busiest day and when all of the marquee blockbusters trot out their teasers and treats for the fans. It's generally a little frantic, with people staying up all night camping out to get a good seat, but other than a mad rush to get in and situated and some high-energy applause throughout the day, there's never too much drama. That ended this year in the late afternoon, when a scuffle between two con attendees resulted in one of them being stabbed near the eye. With a pen. Holy random act of violence, Batman!
In all seriousness, though, it was a scary and tense incident the likes of which the con has never seen. We have a full-length, detailed run down of all the Hall H events of Saturday (most of which were awesome and completely non-violent) coming soon, but for the time being, here's the details what happened as we observed them: Just after the Resident Evil: Afterlife panel concluded, at approximately 4:45 p.m., people about halfway back from the stage in the 6,000-plus capacity Hall H began to shout for security. A few audience members were standing on seats attempting to flag down convention staffers, whose response time seemed unusually slow at first. (We were seated in the next block of seats over, and overheard someone commenting that it seemed a little wrong that it was taking so long for what was clearly an urgent matter to be addressed promptly. When someone gets caught trying to film the movie footage that is previewed for fans in the panels, there's an usher in their face within 30 seconds telling them to turn off the camera. Where were those guys now?)
At any rate, when the authorities arrived it quickly became clear that this was more serious than someone fainting or even having a seizure and requiring medical attention. As the injury was described by KTLA, the two men were arguing about sitting “too close” to one another, resulting in one scratching the other near the eye with a pen. They are probably right about the suspect's recently-acquired Harry Potter promotional shirt not being “soaked” with blood, but from our vantage point, it wasn't just a negligible flesh wound, either. (There was quite a bit of blood on that shirt, if not a soaking.) While the perpetrator was placed in handcuffs and the victim taken away by medics to have his injury treated, the panel schedule was delayed while police questioned eyewitnesses. The con organizers, understandably thrown, chose to re-run some of the trailers that had previously been screened as part of the mid-day “Trailer Park” feature to pass the time for the rest of the audience until they were able to continue.
Finally, at nearly 5:30 p.m., the program resumed with the Universal panel featuring Paul and Cowboys & Aliens – the first of a non-stop progression of really extraordinary film sneaks that quickly raised everyone's spirits and brought a satisfying end to a long, and at one point frantic and somewhat harrowing day. Still, when all was said and done the great shivving of Comic-Con 2010 was a hot gossip item across town. Word of mouth might have been a little overblown at times, but there does seem to be cause to wonder if crowd control might not be a little bit tighter from here on out. As another con-goer was heard mentioning to a friend as we all exited Hall H, “Get ready to be patted down before every panel next year.”