From the daily archives: Tuesday, July 26, 2011

(Editor’s note – Brawley correspondent Chris Furguson spent four days tracking down celebrities and chasing costumed crusaders at Comic-Con in San Diego as part of our summer recreation series. We bring you  one of his stories here.)
By Chris Furguson
In 2011, Hollywood movie studios at Comic-Con had taken over some of the prime real estate in and around the convention.
Films like “The Expendables,” “Tron” and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” along with their stars, brought out thousands of excited and, eventually, disappointed fans to the convention as they waited in lines for hours only to lose the chance to see their favorite stars.
Other films, unable to get inside, chose to take over parts of the surrounding area to get the needed promotion.   Attendees of the Sundance Film Festival have compared the atmosphere outside the convention over the past few years to the “Fringe” festivals outside of Sundance.
Despite the lack of major Hollywood presence outside of Twilight, there was plenty of promotion going on in and around the convention.
For some films, Comic-Con is the last chance for major promotion before release.  Movies like “Bellflower,” which has been described as a combination of Mad Max and John Hughes, has received major attention from film festivals, including the aforementioned Sundance.
“Bellflower” plot involves a love story, flamethrowers and a “Road Warrior/Mad Max” inspired car called the “Mother Medusa.”  “Bellflower” stars Tyler Dawson, Jessie Wiseman, Evan Glodell (who wrote and directed the film) and Rebekah Brandes, along with producer Vincent Grashaw, spent time promoting the film before its August 5 release.
“I think the film has received 4 bad reviews out of 100 reviews,” said Glodell when asked about how the critics have treated his film, which he has worked on since 2001 after a breakup.  “And to think that we couldn’t even get people to watch until Sundance.”
Actresses Wiseman and Brandes said that with the buzz surrounding the film getting auditions has been easier than ever.  “Before Sundance, we wouldn’t get a second look,” said Brandes.  “After the film, we’d audition doing the same thing and get called back, with people saying that we were doing something different.”
For other films, Comic-Con is the perfect place to begin generating interest in the project.  William Shatner, who stars in the upcoming documentary “The Captains,” spoke in front of Star Trek fans inside the convention and in front of the press to help promote his film.
At the press conference, Shatner was joined by Scott Bakula [Enterprise, Quantum Leap] and Avery Brooks [Deep Space Nine, Spencer For Hire].  Also interviewed for the documentary were Kate Mulgrew [Voyager], Patrick Stewart [Star Trek: The Next Generation] and Chris Pine [2009 Star Trek film]
Shatner also spoke about the common traits of the Star Trek captains, like discipline, theater, drive, sorrow, and pain.  He also talked about a US military captain that based his leadership style on Shatner’s portrayal of Captain James T. Kirk.
The film opens in theaters in October and is currently available on Epix Network.
In addition to those films, the anachronistic western “Cowboys and Aliens” had their world premiere outside the convention center on Saturday evening at the San Diego Civic Center.  Director Jon Favreau, who had to bring star Harrison Ford in handcuffs to last year’s convention, needed no extra appliances to bring his star to San Diego.  In fact, Ford brought his wife, actress Callista Flockhart, to the premiere.
The premiere was the first such event surrounding Comic-Con in the event’s 42 year history, something Favreau said was important to him as the buzz surrounding the project began at last year’s convention.


By Chris Furguson
For five days, from July 20th until July 24th, the residents and businesses of downtown San Diego were, for the 42nd time, invaded by fans of animation, science fiction, fantasy, television and comic books for the 2011 San Diego Comic Con.  All in all, over 130,000 men, women and children of all ages, visited the city during the five-day event.
People like Keiko, a 19-year old student from the Akihabara district in Tokyo, Japan.  Keiko is an aspiring “manga-ka,” or Japanese comic book (manga) artist.
“I came to San Diego to expose myself to the Western-style of comic books,” said Keiko.  “The more I learn about other styles, the more I can do and better I will be in my career.”
Others come to Comic-Con to indulge in their hidden hobbies when being a fan of certain things does not quite meet what the “real world” demands.
Ernest, a copyright attorney in California, spends his time at the convention wearing a Ghostbusters costume, complete with movie-accurate proton backpack and other props.
“My clients and peers would give me a second look if they saw me here,” said Ernest who admitted to owning his own replica of the Ecto-1 car and other movie props and replicas.  “I love the Ghostbusters, though, and I can express it here with no worries about being judged.”
Still, others come for the opportunity to buy items they can’t find anywhere else.
This year, Gentle Giant Studios, a company known for making action figures using laser-accurate life scans, had several figures available for sale, including statues of characters from the recent film “Sucker Punch.”  Mattel, the toy giant, had figures from Ghostbusters and other projects for sale as did Hasbro and other manufacturers.
Jay, a toy seller, had some of his new and old stock available for sale in the convention’s outer areas.  Jay owns a comic book and toy business in the Northwest part of the country.
“Sure, I come here to get my hands on the exclusives the major players sell,” explained Jay.  “But I’m also here to get rid of some of my stock from home.  I always leave with less than I brought in.”
Then, there are those who express their devotion by waiting in line.  Jessica, a young woman just past 19, had been waiting in line to see a panel discussion on the new “Twilight” film “Breaking Dawn” since Wednesday night.  Many before her had been in line since Monday, prior to getting their badges.
“I love everything ‘Twilight,” said Jessica, clutching her pillow.  “But I don’t love it as much as those guys,” she added, pointing to the ones in front of the line.
Surprisingly, the next morning saw members of the “Breaking Dawn” cast provide breakfast (muffins, bananas, apples and water) to some of the faithful along with photo opportunities and autographs.
“That was so cool of them,” added Jessica the following morning.
The 2012 San Diego Comic-Con will run from July 12 through July 15 with Preview Night on July 11, 2012.

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