A (relatively) brief recap of the weekend as witnessed by yours truly follows.
Friday was composed of panels, panel and more panels:
SG-1 panel and Ark of Truth teaser
Since traffic was ickier than expected and Mr. Bill and I fail at getting up early of our own accord, we didn't make it to the Con until noon, just in time to find Izh and take our seats for the SG-1 panel. Much squee ensued. Michael Shanks was absent, despite being listed as a panelist, and Ben Browder had apparently been extracted from bed (where he had, evidently, been recovering from either a hangover or a brutal attack by a feral pile of laundry) mere moments before the panel began. However, Amanda Tapping and Chris Judge were both present and entirely conscious, and they made up for their costars by being extra witty and alert, so that was all right. It never fails to kind of weird me out that Chris Judge is so goofy and silly. I get so used to him as Teal'c, with the ultra-deep-pitched voice and the impeccable syntax, it's odd to hear him make doopy jokes and laugh and just be a guy wearing an inadvisable hat because he's an actor and can get away with it.
Martin Wood and Robert Cooper also brought the funny, as well as a tantalizing preview of Ark of Truth. My reaction to said trailer involves a lot of incoherent sounds and some drool.
A significant amount of the panel's amusement appeal was thanks to the fact that Gary "Chief Master Sergeant Harriman" Jones was acting as moderator. My favorite moment was probably when some dork came up to the Q&A mic and asked if he could sing some lyrics he had composed to the Stargate theme. The audience rose up as one entity and shrieked "NO!" and Jones just smiled and replied something along the lines of "Well, there's your answer, Captain Deathwish. Take it to YouTube." Hee. Thankfully, this was not indicative of the overall calibre of fan questions on offer, and it was a fun panel, even though Wood and Tapping kept having to coax the somewhat comatose Browder into actually talking. I especially appreciated the folks who asked about the show's relationship with the US military since they prompted a few really cool little anecdotes about experiences the different cast and crew members have had working with the Airforce and Navy. Good times.
Neil Gaiman panel
I hadn't been planning on attending the Neil Gaiman panel, since I had assumed it would be impossible to get a seat without waiting in line for a year. It turned out to be much easier than that, though, so we went with Izh to that, too. This panel confirmed what I had already suspected: Neil Gaiman is made of awesome. The panel consisted of him "burbling a bit" as he put it, and then taking questions, and it was brilliant. Gaiman can elevate even the lamest questions to the height of valid inquiry simply by virtue of the fact that his answers are always so insightful and full of chewy goodness. Mr. Bill took the opportunity to poke me a lot when Gaiman was talking about writer's block and how there's really no such thing and it all boils down to being a motivated writer and really wanting to write and so on.
Also, Gaiman related an anecdote which apparently almost everybody had already heard about how he acquired the nickname "Scary Trousers". The story was new to me, at any rate, and since Gaiman chose to start it by saying "Dinner with Alan Moore is always an...interesting experience..." I found it highly amusing. It didn't hurt that I love just listening to the man's voice, regardless of what he has to say. I have an mp3 of him reading Instructions that I used to play when I needed something to make me happy. I should actually track that down and upload it to Chibbles the Cheeky iPod because right now my cheer-me-up is the Happy Feet trailer with the Robin Williams penguin singing in Spanish. The trailer is great, but ever since the actual movie came out and disappointed me so much, my enjoyment of the trailer has been a bit tarnished. *pout*
If you have an opportunity to see Gaiman, I suggest you take it. The man's ability to be both funny and brilliant on the spot is truly stunning.
"So you want to be a comic book retailer..."
I guess I haven't actually posted about this yet, so most of you will probably be a little confused when I say that Mr. Bill has plans to buy a used bookstore business from a friend of ours in about a year. I know, the last time I posted about Mr. Bill's career goals, they involved a teaching credential and possibly moving to Colorado. Sorry to leave you guys out of the loop, I'll try to post about this in more detail later, but right now let's just assume you're not baffled by this apparently sudden change of tack and just go with it, shall we?
Anyway, Bill hopes to be the owner of a used bookstore sometime in the not-too-distant future, and he has a lot of changes he'd like to make to the existing business. One of these changes is the addition of comics and graphic novels to the inventory. So we went to a very informative panel on the various tools and services available to people starting out in the comics retail business. We took lots of notes and left inspired and full of ideas, which we bounced off each other on the way home. It was especially nice to get to listen to a few stories of how some of the most successful retailers in this part of the country got started and to ask them questions about mistakes and lucky strikes that they have made in their careers. Subjects ranging from finance and location assessment to juggling family and a business were discussed. Very educational.
Saturday involved only one panel because I somehow contrived to forget my badge at home and made us so late that we missed the Quick Draw for the first time in years. We did get to see the Disney panel, which was followed by shameless trolling for free sketches and the buying of way more books than we have money for:
Disney preview panel - Prince Caspian & Wall-E
Firstly, the most important piece of news is that the actor they found to portray Caspian is hot. I'm allowed to say that because he's five to seven years older than the character in the book and appears to have departed jailbait territory a few years ago, at least. In other, less urgent news, the movie looks like a damn fine way to spend ten bucks and couple hours. Much was made of all the cool new updates that have been made to the various CG elements and the new armor that they've invented for the Telmarines. We got a teaser (which looked pretty keen) and a pre-viz of a scene that involved griffins and mice, children and dwarves storming a Telmarine stronghold. ("It's funny," I said to Bill, "I've read this book four or five times and yet I have no idea what part of it is being represented, here.")
Also of note is the fact that Reepicheep looks totally kick-ass. I may have abandoned dignity completely and shrieked deliriously when he first appeared on the screen.
Wall-E also looked very cool. Pixar seemingly can do no wrong, and it looks like they're really going to test their limits with this film: a movie about robots that contains almost nothing that could be considered dialog in the traditional sense. An impressive demonstration was given of the sound effects they'll be using to communicate the characters' emotions and whatnot. We also got to see a clip from the beginning of the film, which looked just incredible. Can't wait for this thing to hit theaters.
Sergio, Penny Arcade, Questionable Content
After the panel, we hit up a couple of our favorite artists for signatures and sketches. Bill got some more Groo trades signed and doodled on by Sergio Aragones, who is always incredibly sweet every time we speak to him. I got Mike from Penny Arcade to draw me Twisp and Catsby while he and Jerry exchanged remarks with some fellow gamers. We then stood in line to buy a t-shirt and poster from the Questionable Content booth, where Jeff Jacques consented to do a sketch of me to accompany the one he did a few years ago (maybe I should make this a tradition and make him draw me every two or three years to show the progression of his style).
Loot and costume-related ponderings
We also tooled around buying more trades than we could possibly afford. My take this year, beside the annual lot of Amazing Spider-man trades that Bill and I always pick up, included 1602, the first trade of Fables, the beautiful new hardback Mouse Guard compilation and the third trade of Digger. No new Rose and Isabel, which is sad, but the creator sounded hopeful that there would be something new next year. I think I want to put together a Rose costume for some future Con. One passable Union Army uniform and two sabers can't be too hard to come by, and it can't be any harder to get swords into the con than it is to get replica firearms in, right?
Speaking of costumes, I am so dressing up as an SG-1 team member with Izh next year (this will be an SG-1 from an alternate universe where the ability to recite Tolkien poetry is a highly desirable first-contact skill). I'll just ask the inspection guys about their policy on swords while they're checking over the toy P-90 I plan to acquire for this costume. And one of these days, I really need to make good on my threat to goth myself up and go as Death from Sandman. I think I'll be going as the High Cost of Living version with the smiley button rather than the tutu and heels version because heels are for ow.
All this activity and we still found time to eat lots of overpriced food and hang around with lots of neat people. Izh, Katie and Greg all introduced us to cool friends of theirs, and we just generally had the time of our lives chatting and eating and milling aimlessly whenever we weren't on a mission for some book/signature/panel. I think Izh was probably formulating a note to herself to avoid ever cruising the dealer floor with me again because I kept encouraging her to buy things she didn't need. (Actually, that's not true; everyone needs a copy of Mouse Guard. And I totally can't be blamed for the fact that Teryl Rothery was there signing glossies and I would be a bad friend if I hadn't made sure Izh received intelligence of same.)
We had such a fantastic time that we decided to be spontaneous and come back for an unexpected third day on Sunday. Bill wanted to talk to the Diamond people about some software they offer for new retail businesses and I wanted to get my Mouse Guard book signed (I didn't have it with me Saturday when I discovered that author/artist David Petersen was at the con). Petersen was either impressed or frightened by my enthusiastic hyperventilating over a particular scene in the book where Lieam buckled some very serious swash with multiple blades and so I got a little illustration of said swashbuckling mouse in my book, which made me do a less-than-discreet dance of joy once we were around the corner.
After that, we had a final chat with Izh & Co, went out for pizza with Greg and one of his friends and then departed Comic Con for the final time this year.