This past weekend, I experienced my first New York Comic Con and am a better geek for it. Although admittedly not the biggest comics and graphic novel fan, I can appreciate a good story whatever the genre and entered the conference completely open-minded. Well, 99 percent open-minded -- I will never be convinced that a grown man wearing his underwear over his pants is a good idea.
I began the fest with a DC Comics cocktail event at the Park Bar, where I was introduced to a slew of writers and more importantly, was given a kick-ass Watchmen movie poster. On Friday, I walked the booths, paid $5 for a small cup of gelato, and wandered in and out of various panels, many of which I found surprisingly lackluster. Sessions such as the Women In Comics panel featured writers already overly familiar with their co-panelists and audience questions, which resulted in relatively rote answers. (Said one female cartoonist: "I'm just waiting for a day when I'll be recognized as just a comics writer, and not a female comics writer." Yawn.) My friend and fellow Comic Con virgin Georgia had a more exciting day -- when she bought her first ever comic book, she was "forced" to take a shot of vodka by the vendors.
Definitely not dull was a reading by Neil Gaiman. Although I've been a fan of Gaiman's work, I've never heard the celebrated Brit in person and now have to join the chorus that he's pretty amazing in the flesh -- a sentiment echoed by actor Bill Hader in his introduction of the author. In fact, the Saturday Night Live star (and one-time Iron Chef America assistant editor -- who knew?) credits Gaiman with landing him both his SNL gig (he auditioned for Lorne Michaels with a copy of Neverwhere in his back pocket) and his co-starring role in Superbad (on the set of You, Me, and Dupree, he and Seth Rogan bonded over their shared love of Gaiman). For the main event, Gaiman began his reading with the announcement that all charges in the Gordon Lee obscenity case -- in which a Rome, Georgia comics retailer was arrested for accidentally giving a child a comic book featuring a nude Picasso -- had been dismissed. The author then read the selections "The Day the Saucers Came," "Orange," as well as the third chapter of his upcoming Graveyard Book, a riff on Kipling's The Jungle Book, only with ghosts and ghoulies in places of panthers and bears. He also cleared up the story behind his black eye, which he eloquently described as looking like "just another curl of hair" dotting his face. With his sonorous tone, he kept giving me serious Alan Rickman vibes all evening.
By attending the Gaiman, I missed Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz discussing the upcoming X-Files movie I Want To Believe (Dumbest. Title. Ever. And I'm an X-Phile!) but figured they'd probably stay pretty mum about film details. I was mostly right, as Carter's top answer for the session seemed to be: "I don't know," but did drop that the film takes places in current time, six years after we first left Mulder and Scully, who may have kept in touch by "texting" each other.
Overall, my personal highlight was Saturday's Battlestar Galactica panel, moderated by Marc Bernardin of EW. Originally slated to feature Grace Park and Tahmoh Penikett, the stars had to cancel due to shooting conflicts and Michael Hogan, Michael Trucco, and Rekha Sharma took their places, resulting in an all-Cylon Q&A. Hilariously, the panel began a tad bit late when the previous event, with the stars of The Chronicles Of Narnia: Prince Caspian, ran late and an impatient BSG fan shouted "No -- so say we all!" when the Narnia moderator asked the audience if they were ready to see the trailer again. While the three BSG actors predictably deflected most questions about the ongoing season, they did reveal a couple details about their own preparations for playing new-found "skinjobs" and goof on the somber events of Friday night's episode. Later in the day, I also popped into presentations for the films Wanted, Hellboy 2 and The Incredible Hulk, all of which, like the rest of the fest, were instantaneously blogged about by sites such as EW, IGN.com and io9.com.