Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Warning: GEEK ALERT! The following content may contain language that will fill the reader with an involuntary desire to purchase and read comic books, move into their parents' basement, and wear black T-shirts containing copyright-infringing images or stereotype-perpetrating text, possibly indicating that "Han Shot First." Other side effects may include near-sightedness, uncontrollable acne, and an inability to communicate with the opposite sex. Some readers have also indicated an inexplicable desire to be referred to as "the Dungeon Master." You've been warned...

I recently returned home from Wizard World Chicago. For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, Wizard World is an annual pop culture convention that tours several major cities in the US. The conference entails all manner of geek fetishes such as collectable toys, table-top gaming and anime, but the biggest emphasis is on comic books. Attendance at the conference is usually very high. I'm not certain what the final number of attendees was this year, but last year it was around 58,000. If you compare that with this year's Microsoft Tech Ed attendance of 13,000, you'll quickly realize that Wizard World is truly wall-to-wall geek.

Because there are so many people at Wizard World, my trophy wife and I spent $300 to get two VIP passes. This might seem excessive, but the benefits are pretty sweet:

  • Extra swag. At registration, we received several cool items including 9.8 CGC graded copies of Captain America #25 (the issue where Captain America dies).
  • Early entrance. On Friday and Saturday, VIPs were admitted to the conference floor at 9 a.m., before any other attendees. This allows VIPs to be the first to get conference exclusives and to be at the front of the line to get autographs or sketches from comic creators. Early admittance had another huge benefit that I'll talk about shortly.
  • Exclusive signings. For every scheduled signing by a comic creator there was an additional signing only for VIPs.

Purchasing the VIP passes turned out to be a great investment because they helped us to attend a very important event. On Friday, DC announced that they would be giving out wrist bands early Saturday morning which would provide access to a special panel on Saturday evening presented by DC and Warner Bros. There was a limited number of seats available, and they would be given out on a first-come-first-served basis. As VIPs, this wasn't a problem for us. In fact, our early entrance onto the floor on Saturday ensured that we were among the first to get wrist bands and T-shirts printed with the logo for the next Batman movie, "The Dark Knight." We weren't certain what would happen at this special panel. Currently, "The Dark Knight" is filming in Chicago, so we guessed that there might be a bit of early footage shown. However, when we took our seats later that night with a thousand other geeks, it wasn't clear who might be filling the empty seats at the head table.

Paul Levitz, president of DC, opened the panel with a few words about what was going to happen that evening. After mentioning that there were some surprises for us, he moved quickly to introducing the special guests. Here they are in the order that they were introduced:

  1. David Goyer, screenwriter and comic creator. I'm a big fan of Goyer's work so this was a big "fanboy moment" for me. For the "The Dark Knight," Goyer collaborated with...
  2. Jonah Nolan, screenwriter. Nolan is best-known for his short story "Memento Mori," which is the source material for the excellent film "Memento." After Jonah, Paul introduced...
  3. Gary Oldman, actor. That's right, Gary Frickin' Oldman. At this point, I wet my pants. Next to Oldman sat...
  4. Aaron Eckhart, actor. Eckhart is playing the character of Harvey Dent in the new movie. Next, Batman himself was introduced...
  5. Christian Bale, actor. At this point, my trophy wife wet her pants. Bale got the largest reception of any of the special guests (Oldman was next). He appeared to be quite taken aback by the whole thing. And finally...
  6. Chris Nolan, director. Chris is well-known for such films as "Memento", "The Prestige" and "Batman Begins."

After our initial shock, the panel continued with a Q&A session of which I have no memory. Seriously. It was a completely blur. Fortunately, you can read a transcript here if you're interested.

Next up was the movie footage. They showed us a few minutes of quick scene flashes which were a bit rough since the movie is still filming. There were some exciting shots of Heath Ledger as the Joker getting his butt royally kicked. The footage ended with a big surprise which revealed that Two-Face would make an appearance in the film.

I'm still a bit dazed from the panel (Gary Frickin' Oldman!) but a lot of other great stuff went on at Wizard World. If anyone is interested, I'll post some more stories. However, for the moment, I return you to your regularly scheduled technical blog.

posted on Tuesday, August 14, 2007 6:51:57 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Comments [0]

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