Comic-Con 2011 Preview Night: Fans Prepare For Ecstasy

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Well, it’s official: Comic-Con 2011 has officially landed. Remembering back to this time in 2010 when I was a Comic-Con “Newbie,” Preview Night was my first experience with the event, a feeling I can only liken to being dropped into the middle of a teeming technicolor ant hill of commotion. In contrast this year, I decided to get settled earlier in the week, and have had the opportunity to watch as San Diego’s Gaslamp District was slowly transformed into ground zero for popular art Fan-dom.

[pullquote quote="As any good Comic-Con attendee knows, Comic-Con is about the Fans, not the stars."]But now it has arrived. The fans are everywhere, the costumes are brilliant, the buildings are covered in promotional materials for the next Hollywood smash and the air has been translated from a warm summer breeze to an electric storm of scandal, gossip, intrigue – and most importantly – hype.

So what should we expect from this years litmus test of pop culture? Well, the biggest name is of course Twilight. Breaking Dawn Part One see’s it’s U.S. release in November, but the fans have already been in line for three days waiting for the cast, the mainstays of which were all confirmed for Thursday’s panel yesterday. The Twilight hype is closely followed by fellow travelers of the undead, True Blood, whose cast will also be on hand, and AMC’s sleeper hit, The Walking Dead.

There’s much ado surrounding appearances by Mark Hamill (Star Wars), William Shatner (Star Trek), the cast of Glee, Dominic Mongahan (Lord of the Rings) and Patrick Stewart (Star Trek: Next Generation), while Comic Con stalwarts Kevin Smith, Matt Groening (The Simpsons & Futurama) and Samuel L. Jackson always draw a crowd.

But as any good Comic-Con attendee knows, Comic-Con is about the fans, not the stars. Hollywood’s elite are here to earn the fan endorsements that will propel the buzz of their latest projects into the stratosphere… or not. It’s a humbling sight to behold when the writers, directors and stars of the silver screen get back to the true meaning of their work: honoring their art and those who hold it dear to their hearts.

The Convention Floor

I took the opportunity to take a walk through the main floor of the convention, on what is bound to be the quietest night of Comic-Con 2011’s affair (which is relative if you check-out these photos), and make a few pit-stops along the way. Here’s are my picks for what really jumped out this year:

VW/Star Wars Project
VW and Lucasfilms have teamed-up to create a custom Star Wars-edition 2012 VW Passat featuring the hand-drawn illustrations of legendary comic book artist Ken Lashley. Throughout Comic Con, Ken will pay homage to the Star Wars universe using the all-new Volkswagen Passat as his canvas. The car will be on display in the center of the Lucas Pavilion at booth #2913-V. I had the opportunity to stop by and chat with Ken who told me that this was a great way for him personally to be part of the event and interact with the Fans. While he’s generally drawing the car freehand, he does appear to have sketched a few outlines. When I asked him about this he responded, “I’ve done a few rough sketches of where I think I want the drawing to go, but by the time I get there, I’ll have probably changed my mind!” I’ll be checking back in with Ken over the course of Comic-Con to see how the car’s coming along.

Sketch Theatre
Sketch Theatre exists for one express purpose — to expose young people to the myriad career opportunities available to creative individuals. I had the chance to chat with Founder Bob Self about his project, why it’s so important to creative education and to take a look at their beautiful new volume as well as the short-run pressing, with a unique cover printed exclusively for this year’s Comic-Con. I’ll definitely he heading back to pick-up a copy for myself before the weekend’s out and I’d suggest you go the same! You can find Bob and his Sketch Theatre crew in booth #4712.

Sony Online Entertainment
One of the booths I came across that was experiencing the most kinetic activity was that of Sony Online Entertainment (booth #4436) where the lovely Eva and Sarah gave me a quick tour of their latest and greatest: Payday: The Heist, Sideway New York and DC Universe Online. DCUO’s “Fight for the Light” features DC Comics favorite The Green Lantern and the introduction of the game’s seventh power set – Light, the new downloadable content will be available this summer for both PC and PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system.

Of course, there’s much, much more for you to experience on the main convention floor, but if you start with these suggestions, I promise you won’t be missing out.

Right, time to get ready for tomorrow’s grueling marathon of Press Conferences; to infinity and beyond!

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