Want to know what it looks like inside the legendary Hall H, the biggest venue at Comic-Con, the one where people camp out for days in advance to see the biggest stars and the coolest advance previews? When LAIKA CEO and animator Travis Knight asked the audience to send get-well love to “The Boxtrolls” co-star Tracy Morgan boxtroll fashion (they show approval by softly smacking their chests), here is what happened.
Some other highlights:
The writers of “The Big Bang Theory” described the episode where the characters are devastated at not getting Comic-Con tickets (yes, they know you don’t hit “refresh” anymore but it isn’t exciting television to just have them staring at their screens). Incredibly, it was the first time guest stars James Earl Jones and Carrie Fisher had ever met. And of course, her first word to him: “Daddy!” Extra excitement — a surprise appearance by Wil Wheaton! And a trailer for “Serial Apeist 2!”
The masquerade competition had several “Game of Thrones” tributes, the best a mash-up with “West Side Story” titled (of course) “Westeros Side Story.”
Several celebrities donned costumes to roam the Exhibition Hall, including Guillermo del Toro (Mexican wrestler mask), Peter Jackson (clown), and actors Daniel Radcliffe and Maisie Williams, who both wore Spider-Man masks. Williams won the heart of the Con by revealing her disguise on Instagram and, when she was not disguised, wearing a dress made from comic books!
I didn’t see a single Klingon this year. Odd. (Coming soon, my favorite costumes worn by attendees. You’ve got to see them to believe them.)
Sir Ben Kingsley spoke to me about playing the villain in “The Boxtrolls,” and said for some unknown reason he had just made three movies in a row set in ancient Egypt: “Exodus,” a TV miniseries called “Tut,” and “Night at the Museum 3.”
I was on the escalator going down as I saw getting on the escalator coming up members of the cast of “The Hobbit,” Cate Blanchett, Lee Pace, and Andy Serkis. All I could say was, “I’m a fan!” I got to see them all in a small press event, too, along with director Peter Jackson and a bunch of the other actors.
I also went to a wonderful panel discussion of villains “from Snidely Whiplash to Voldemort.” My favorite comment was from an author who quoted his wife: “A dragon destroys a village, and when the people yell, ‘Monster!’ he looks behind him to see who they are talking about.”
Two different events I attended had interesting discussions of fandom. The Pop Culture Happy Hour Podcast did a live show from Comic-Con. It was a special treat to see Maggie Thompson, mother of PCHH regular Stephen Thompson. Maggie is revered by nerds, geeks, and fanboys everywhere as co-founder of the Comics Buyers Guide. As always, the conversation was fast, funny, and incisive. They talked about the difference between early fans of music or other popular culture and their mixed feelings when what they love becomes broadly successful.
And I attended the Comic Arts Conference, the annual gathering of scholars who study comics from many different perspectives, that always goes on parallel to Comic-Con. The panel I attended this year had ten students presenting the results of surveys and studies they did throughout the Con. They talked about cosplayers (the people who wear costumes) and families who bring young children.
I tried a demo of the new Oculus Rift virtual reality technology at the Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment booth and got to accompany Professor X (voice of Patrick Stewart) into the Cerebro to track Mystique. It was very cool.
And one of my favorite moments was unexpected and very sweet. It happened in the middle of the seemingly endless and always packed Exhibition Hall, where everything around me seemingly twinkled, spun, beeped, and glowed, each both more inviting than the next like Ali Baba’s cave, all of a sudden the original “Star Wars” started playing on an overhead screen. It was the scene right before they go into the garbage compactor. I love that scene. I’ve seen it a million times. I probably know it by heart. But I stopped to watch. And all around me were thousands of fans who know it even better than I do, and they all stopped, too.