Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Our day at Comic Con

Last Friday, we got up at 5am, assembled the troops, and began the not-that-long caravan down to San Diego for the largest convention in the history of ever. There were plenty of indicators of Comic Con's massiveness on the way down. Our hotel in Escondido -- a good twenty miles north of San Diego, the closest hotel Don could find -- was a crappy two-star EconoLodge with a bathroom only slightly wider than my car and a mattress with slightly less give than particle board. Those rooms went for $300 a night. Ridiculous? Yes. But anything closer to the convention had sold out months ago. We were lucky to find this place.

Then there was actually getting to the convention. If the lodging situation was bad, the parking was worse. Comic Con put out a list of all the nearby (and not so nearby) park-and-rides, and even with all those options the routes were jammed. We drove to Qualcomm Stadium, some twenty minutes away, to park, and then rode the red line train for a half-hour to the convention center. And when the convention center loomed into sight, and we saw the masses of costumed fans baking in the ninety-degree heat, the size of the convention really dawned on us.

The hall itself was larger than any convention hall I'd ever seen. All the dividing walls had been taken out, leaving an open space from Exhibit Hall A to Exhibit Hall H. Almost sixty aisles of vendors and exhibitors packed the hall. To give you a sense of it, we were told that if you walked from one end of the hall to another, slaloming up and down every aisle, you would walk over three miles. Not that you could walk through the hall without getting stuck in a fan jam. Each aisle had at least four breaks in it to allow for foot traffic. And the foot traffic... Nearly every intersection I passed through was either completely clogged or slowed to a trickle. Nobody could move faster than a languid meander. I felt my long dormant offensive lineman instincts kicking in, had to fight the urge to plow through the crowd shoulder-first . I've never seen foot traffic that dense in my life. I assume it's what the New York subway is like, but with less movement and more Batmans (Batmen?).

A lot of celebrity sightings. We saw Stephen Baldwin giving an interview outside the hall. Moments later, we ran into our favorite con-friend, Dean Haglund, during a lull in the crowd. I bought my copy of The Guild season one, and got most of the cast to sign it -- not Felicia Day, though, who was busy with Dr. Horrible panels all day. (On a side note, the line to the Joss Whedon seminar was wrapped around the exhibit hall, down the hall, out the door, and along the wall outside. No chance of getting into that one. Damn it. One of these days I'll write about how many times I've narrowly missed seeing Joss. Not that he's my hero or anything. Or that I wear a "What Would Joss Do?" bracelet. Or that I keep a shoebox full of his nail clippings.) Also ran into David Gerrold, sci-fi author and writer of the most popular Star Trek of all time, The Trouble with Tribbles -- hadn't seen him since he guest taught a Writing for TV class for D.C. Fontana at AFI. He was his usual curt, sarcastic, and brilliant self.

When the exhibit hall finally closed, the Dead Gentlemen zipped on over to the Marriott to prep for the screening. We passed under this rather amusing sign directing us to the ballrooms, and had to pose for a picture.

"DG," right there to welcome us. An omen? A portent?
A sign of good fortune to come? (Answer: No.)
The screening itself went as well as we could have hoped. We started with a good crowd, about 75 people, at least half of whom had no idea who we were or what the movie was about. But the crowd didn't stay that size. Folks kept trickling in. The door to the hall kept opening. By the time the film was over, an additional 100 people had ambled in to join the crowd. And by their response, they loved it -- they laughed long and hard, in all the right places, and gave us a grand sitting ovation when the credits rolled. It was the perfect crowd to screen to, and a great way for us to cristen our Comic Con experience.

After the screening, about fifteen of us -- members and friends of DG, and friends of friends of DG -- gathered for a very late dinner at 9pm. This was the first down time I'd had all day -- I'd been up since five -- and I found myself falling asleep at the table. We left two hours later, and two hours after that finally got back to our hotel rooms. We briefly flirted with the idea of going back to the con on Saturday, but nixed it in the morning. And a good thing, too. Saturday set the new con record -- 140,000 people, the biggest crowd ever, 15,000 more than last year's record. So I'd say we got out good when we did.

All in all, our one day at Comic Con was an exhausting and exhilirating experience, overwhelming and disorienting. Frankly, I can't believe I didn't get a migraine from all the over-stimulation. But I'm glad to have done it, and will be glad to do it next year. Because you can't really be in fandom until you've made the Comic Con journey.

Wifey showing off her guns at the screening.

Jamie Chambers (Margaret Weis Productions) poses with Cindy and Wifey.

Jen Page -- star of The Gamers: Dorkness Rising
and the cover girl for the poster -- outflexes me. Again.

An unexpected party.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Dorkness Rising at Comic Con

This coming Friday, July 25, The Gamers: Dorkness Rising will be screening at Comic Con in San Diego.

The amazing thing about this screening -- we've never been to Comic Con before, let alone screened there -- is that they contacted us. It seems the guy who programs their film screenings has been a fan of Dead Gentlemen since The Gamers first came out on VHS. So we're getting to show our movie a couple weeks before its DVD premiere at the largest convention in fandom (Comic Con had over 125,000 attendees in 2007). And we're getting probably the best screening time as well -- 7:00 pm on Friday night.

Here's some highlights from the press release. The full version is on the Dead Gentlemen website:

The Gamers: Dorkness Rising to be Screened at San Diego Comic-Con

July 22, 2008 (TACOMA, Wash.) - Dead Gentlemen Productions announced today that their film The Gamers: Dorkness Rising will be screened at Comic-Con in San Diego, and make its DVD premiere in three weeks at Gen Con in Indianapolis. The DVD will be sold exclusively by Paizo Publishing at Gen Con, and is provided by the film’s domestic distributor, Anthem Pictures.

“Comic-Con is the ultimate convention in the US to reach our larger target audience,” said Dead Gentlemen’s Executive Director, Don Early. “We wanted to participate in Comic-Con, but our release date put us past their window. I thought we’d missed our chance. But then I got a call from the head of the films department at Comic Con. I was shocked and amazed!”

“I have been a fan of Dead Gentlemen for years,” said Joshua Glaser from Comic-Con Films Department International. “When I read that their long-awaited film, The Gamers: Dorkness Rising, was going to be released on DVD at Gen Con this year, I knew I had to try and get a screening at Comic Con.”

“The Gamers: Dorkness Rising is already one of the best selling products of all time on and it’s not even released yet,” said Paizo’s Director of Marketing, Joshua J. Frost. “We have a full Dorkness Rising signing schedule planned for our booth at Gen Con, including appearances from many of the actors as well as members of the production team. Stop by our booth, buy yourself a copy, and get it signed!”

“Anthem has put together a fantastic DVD,” says Matt Vancil,
writer/director of The Gamers: Dorkness Rising. “The fans have been supremely patient — they’ve been waiting for this for five years. Plus, a screening at Comic Con? The over-caffeinated heart of the empire of fandom? Holy wow! All is well with the universe.”

“It’s rare to find a gem of title like Dorkness in today’s marketplace,” says Chuck Adelman, president of Anthem Pictures. “The RPG audience is massive and a major driving force behind independent films. Being a gamer myself, it’s a great feeling to distribute a title that we feel will really capture a new generation of gamers and appeal to the mature RPG-gamers across the board.”

The Gamers: Dorkness Rising will screen at Comic-Con in San Diego on Friday, July 25th, 7pm at the Marriott in Marina Ballroom D. DVD sales premiere exclusively at Paizo Publishing’s booth #2221 at Gen Con on August 14, 2008, and then hit retailers on August 19, 2008.

We don't have a booth or anything, so we'll be walking the exhibit hall floor, reconnecting with friends and annoying celebrities, until the screening hall opens at 6:00 pm. Here's our schedule:

The Marriott, Marina Ballroom D, Friday July 25
6:00 pm -- Q & A with the Dead Gentlemen
7:00 pm -- The Gamers: Dorkness Rising screening
2:50 am -- The Gamers screening (yes, we'll be up that late)

Lots of awesome is starting to stack up. In a week, the Hopjockey team will be pitching to two networks, and there's significant movement on ALIVE. Keep your fingers crossed.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Poolwalkers in my lane

So I finally found a branch of my gym that has a lap pool. And what a delightful surprise the new location was. The gym where I had been working out was right in the middle of a strip mall -- it shared space with a nail salon, UPS store, a couple of restaurants, and there was never, ever any parking. The inside of the gym was just as cramped and smelled of rust and suffering. The other branch, on the other hand is its own building, with plenty of parking space. There are more rooms for more activities, a much larger (and cleaner) locker room, and many amenities I wasn't expecting -- like multiple saunas, and a 22-person capacity hot tub right by the pool, and a freakin' juice bar. It's a little out of the way, but so much more worth it.

That's not to say it's perfect. I have to share my lap lane every day, which I don't mind. If I'm sharing it with a swimmer. What I do mind is that most of of the people who use the pool are poolwalkers. If you don't know what I'm talking about, the name kind of explains it: People who walk slowly along the bottom of the pool, in shoes or sandals, wading and waddling from one end to another. And -- not to generalize -- they're all old, slow, mountainously fat, and in my way. The aquatic March of the Potato People.

Have you ever been to the hippo display at the zoo? And gone down to the under-the-water section, and watched the hippos bobbing lazily across the water? It's kind of like that, but with less hippo shit.

I didn't know poolwaking was popular. Or that it's a viable form of exercise. What I do know is there are more of them on any given day than there are swimmers. They lay claim to half the pool -- it's actually cordoned off for them -- but even so, they always intrude into the swimming lanes. Always. Lanes that say "lap swim only." So my options are to swim in the fast lane -- keeping an eye out for faster swimmers torpedoing at me from the opposite direction -- or swim in the poolwalker-infested intermediate lanes and risk smashing head-on into Stay Puft.

Like this, but under water.

All in all, though, the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. Though when I'm done with my swim -- 44 laps, what I'm told is a mile -- I do share the giant communal hot tub with them. Usually I'm the only swimmer in there... the rest are poolwalkers, fresh off their "workout." I climb out once the water smeels too much like canola oil and back hair.

On the non bitchy/whiny side, I got to help Matt DeMille move in yesterday... four doors down the hall! A big welcome to my fellow Northwesterner and, in a scant two-and-a-half years, alumn.