COMIC CON THURSDAY REPORT
By Jeff Katz
It's another busy day here in San Diego as Comic Con International officially opens to the public. It's already a madhouse on the floor of the Con and lines have been forming outside Hall H - home of the major studio presentations - for a couple days. The TWILIGHT crowd got their fix early and James Cameron's AVATAR just debuted at the 20th Century Fox panel with 25 minutes of exclusive 3-D footage that is already generating rave reviews. Response has ranged from "groundbreaking" to merely "extremely impressive," which suggests this will be the event movie of the holiday season. Johnny Depp and Tim Burton also surprised guests with exclusive footage of Disney's upcoming live-action ALICE IN WONDERLAND.
The party scene has been low key thus far in San Diego, with most of the Hollywood crew arriving into town today or tomorrow. Mostly a quiet evening catching up with old comic industry friends at the Hyatt Bar, which has become an almost legendary location for comic talent in San Diego (ECW Arena with a liquor license, perhaps?). Bumped into Robot Chicken creator Seth Green and his lovely girlfriend Clare Grant last night, which is always a pleasure. Also grabbed dinner with my old friend from the WCW days, Hurricane Helms and grabbed some drinks with several of the top film webmasters, most of whom are also old friends. Seeing Helms, Seth, Clare and other friends down here has become a yearly tradition in many cases and a large part of what makes this event special. I see these people several times a year in Los Angeles, but there's something of a summer camp (again, with alcohol) quality to SDCC week.
The view from the floor is as massive and jam-packed as ever. It's clear that the economy and larger consolidation of the entertainment industry has put a damper on excess Hollywood spending in SD and it's a fair bet that premieres and event parties will continue to be among the first and easiest trims on the studio bottom line. One of the important messages I've tried to convey since starting American Original is that the entertainment industry on the whole is looking at a 25 to 30% contraction over the next two to three years. This has a gigantic ripple effect on several symbiotic entertainment businesses we love - gaming, comics, wrestling, etc. - and we're really only seeing the early stages of the larger change now. We've hit a perfect storm of economic crisis, rising marketing and production costs, digital piracy and distribution strategy that will play out for quite a while longer. I suspect we'll see several more signs of this over the next several days at the Con.
I checked out a bit of the Masters of the Web panel this morning before doing a quick signing of FREDDY VS. JASON VS. ASH 2 for DC/Wildstorm. I got a bit of a thrill upon arriving at the DC booth to find all the DC Comics staff were wearing a brand new Booster Gold t-shirt which just went on sale today. Despite being off the book for about a year now, it's really a tremendous thrill to see Booster finally getting his merchandising due. It's a real testament to the character Dan Jurgens created (and writers/draws today) and getting to write that character was a real dream come true. G4TV's Blair Butler - who we actually announced as an American Original client yesterday - will be modeling the new shirt on the cover of Booster Gold #24.
After signing I joined the dais of the Longbox Digital Comics panel, where we announced that I've joined their board. Longbox is a much buzzed about digital comics solution - similar in function and practice to iTunes - that delivers comic book content from major publishers to computers, handhelds, videogame systems, e-readers, etc. for 99 cents a piece. This, again, speaks to the larger changes in the entertainment model. I'm a firm believer in Longbox and think it offers a simplicity and functionality - along with the right price point - that can lure new comic readers while satisfying the current audience. Longbox starts beta testing in September and we'll be giving away beta codes at the American Original panel on Saturday at the Con. We're truly moving to a niche entertainment universe folks, get ready.
Also seen at the Con - former WWE superstar Virgil sitting under a sign advertising he and Ted DiBiase, which was misspelled as "Ted DiBaise." This might be an indicator that perhaps it was a good thing Virgil wasn't doing the Million Dollar Man's taxes back in the old days.
We'll be hitting the IDW/Circle of Confusion, Valhalla Pictures and Archaia Comics parties tonight, with full reports later.
Yours in fandom,