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Cool Comic-Con 2002

From joking Klingons to an ovation for Ray Bradbury, five animation attendees share what they found most impressive at 2002's Comic-Con International.

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With 63,000 visitors on hand, this year's Comic-Con broke all attendance records. At right, Syd Mead signs books at the AWN booth. Photos courtesy of Dan Sarto.

Any successful party host will tell you that the magic ingredient to making your bash successful is that elusive quotient: cool. You can't plan for it, you can't fake it and you can't manufacture it. If you're lucky and have brought together the right people and circumstances, something cool might just happen. This year's Comic-Con International, held August 1-4 in San Diego, broke attendance records. Held in the football field length Convention Center, crowds swarmed the multitude of exhibitor booths, screenings, panel discussions and workshops. At one point on Saturday the registration line was reported to be over a mile long! With all that activity something special had to be going on. We invited five attendees, writers Mark Evanier and Scott M. Gimple, animation executives Jason VanBorssum and Scott Mitchell Rosenberg, and anime expert Fred Patten to share the cool things they experienced at Comic-Con this year.

Mark Evanier

Mark Evanier is an animation writer ( Garfield), comic book writer ( Groo the Wanderer) and historian.

I was honored to moderate a mess of panels at the convention, all of which were enormous fun and some of which were highly enlightening. But the moment that stands out is from when I got to introduce Ray Bradbury to an audience of a couple of thousand admirers. Mr. Bradbury was confined to a wheelchair due to recent illness and it seemed like a miracle that he was there at all. But we got him up the stairs and onto the stage and, when I said his name in introduction, the crowd leaped to its collective feet and just applauded and applauded and applauded. I suppose if you heard it or saw a videotape, it would look like any kind of wild, tumultuous applause. But standing up there right next to Mr. Bradbury, seeing the sparkle in the eyes of all in the first few rows (as far back as I could see) and seeing all that it meant to Ray...well, that wasn't just a cool moment to be remembered for a while, then discarded. That was a keeper.

Fred Patten

Fred Patten has written on anime for fan and professional magazines since the late 1970s. A regular contributor to AWN.com, he has also written the liner notes for Rhino Entertainment's The Best of Anime music CD (1998), was a contributor to The World Encyclopedia of Cartoons, 2nd Edition, ed. by Maurice Horn (1999) and Animation in Asia and the Pacific, ed. by John A. Lent (2001).

The coolest thing that I saw was definitely the increased presence of anime & manga. There were several huge displays on the level that previously only the major American comic book publishers like DC and Marvel had: A.D.V. Films' launch of its new Newtype USA anime magazine with its free premiere issue; the TOKYOPOP "Mangaland" booth; Bandai and Pioneer both handing out DVD samplers of their anime titles; Viz launching its American edition of a popular Japanese manga magazine; and others. Anime and manga seem to have definitely "arrived."

Cornerstone Animation brought Big Idea's direct-to-video Larryboy to superhero life at its Glendale studios. © Big Idea Productions.

Jason VanBorrsum, President & CEO, Cornerstone Animation Inc.

Based in Glendale, Calif., Cornerstone Animation Inc. is a full-service animation company providing CG, traditional and Flash animation for film, TV, interactive games and the Web. Cornerstones clients include The Walt Disney Company, Focus on the Family, Mattel, Fox Television and Big Idea Productions.

The Cornerstone Animation contingent at this year's Comic-Con included Larry Whitaker (Chief Creative Officer), Bill Dely (Art Director & Co-founder) and myself. We were absolutely blown away by the vibrant excitement at Comic-Con this year, and with the expanded size and scope of the San Diego Convention Center.

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CrossGen is moving to the big screen with two upcoming projects: Cornerstone Entertainment acquired Meridian (left), while The Way of the Rat will be produced by Branded Entertaniment for DreamWorks. Meridian® and CrossGeneration Comics® are registered, copyrights and trademarks 1999-2000. CrossGenerations Comics, Inc. All rights reserved. Reuse and/or reproduction in any form are prohibited. Used with permission.

But the coolest thing we saw, hands down, was the CrossGen Comics booth. The word "booth" doesn't accurately describe CrossGen's set-up, however. "Pavilion" is more like it! Cornerstone's principals were on hand to publicly announce our acquisition of the film & TV rights to CrossGen's hit comic Meridian, and we were impressed to see that the CrossGen execs took a backseat to the artists and creative staff who were on hand to meet and interface directly with the fans.

With their signature yin-and-yang-like sigil shining above the action like a beacon, CrossGen was a constant draw for an endless stream of fans, media representatives and industry professionals alike. More buzz than a beehive!

Scott M. Gimple

Scott M. Gimple is the creator/executive producer of Fillmore!, currently showing on the ABCKids Saturday morning cartoon block. Along with writer-artist Bill Morrison, Mr. Gimple is also readying Heroes Anonymous, a new bimonthly comic from Bongo Comics to be published in 2003.

I'm not a huge Star Trek fan per se, but every year without fail, I make time to attend the sublime "Klingon Lifestyles" panel. For the uninitiated, the "panel" consists of fairly elaborately made-up and costumed men, women and kids, putting on the equivalent of a Klingon-version of Glengarry Glen Ross.

These latex-foreheaded folks go for it -- yes, some of them require hits off of their asthma inhalers during the show, but dammit, THEY GO FOR IT! As the show started, one young fellow in a Sandman shirt began heckling. Suddenly, a teen with dyed hair and an ironically-worn Jar Jar shirt whipped around to face the Kling-Heckler. He passionately, angrily made his point that making fun of forty year old men dressed like Klingons was as bad as what the regular people do to Comic-Con people in the outside world. (Thats the gist I got between the obscenities, at least.) The Kling-Heckler sat in embarrassed uncomfortable silence. The Atticus Finch of Comic-Con turned back around. Up on the stage, a heavyset Klingon in glasses made an obscure joke about Romulans. It was a surreal, wonderful moment. It was the coolest thing I saw at Comic-Con.

Cowboys & Aliens is a comic book that Platinum Studios is currently developing as a feature film.  & © Platinum Studios, LLC.

Scott Mitchell Rosenberg, Founder & Chairman, Platinum Studios.

Platinum specializes in identifying comic book properties that adapt well to the big and small screens. Among Platinum's projects are Men in Black and Showtime's sci-fi series, Jeremiah.

The absolute coolest thing that I saw at the 2002 San Diego Comic-Con was the enthusiasm of everyone there. Reallythis was the highest-attended Comic-Con ever, and everyone was "into" it. I noticed fans with smiles on their faces, and an eagerness toward meeting with creators, meeting publishers and visiting the small press tables to see whats coming out. What was on most fans minds? That comics, creatively speaking, are at a fantastic point right now. Its cool to read them, and cool to be a part of them.

Creators were smiling too. Why not? With the success of comic book characters in other mediums now booming (although theyve been in other mediums for over 50 years!), creators are having an easier time now getting their stories published, and then getting in front of TV/movie development people. And nope, its not about money -- its about seeing their characters brought to life.

Sowhats cool are comic book characters -- both those that make them and those that enjoy them.

Darlene Chan is managing editor of Animation World Magazine. After receiving a bachelor's degree from UCLA, Darlene happened into the motion picture business and stayed for 14 years. She served as a production executive for Paramount Pictures, Walt Disney Pictures, Davis Entertainment and Motown. She produced Grumpy Old Men (1993) for Warner Bros. In 2000, she joined Animation World Magazine.

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