10 Things I Learned at Comic-Con '09


Now that Comic-Con is over and done with, it's time to look back and determine what lessons we can take from the experience. One of the many benefits of being present in their biggest, most movie-centric room, the notorious Hall H, is that you get to witness all sorts of craziness. Sometimes it's from the shellshocked celebs, taking in their first glimpse of what they're about to get into by being in a Comic-Con friendly movie. Sometimes it's from the fans, who never disappoint in providing amusement during the Q&A portions.

Here are 10 things I've learned at this year's Con.

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1. Don't spoil your movie during your own panel

Comic-Con is a great place for surprises, but generally one wouldn't expect a panel to spoil the major plot point of a movie it's promoting. Even after Richard Kelly showed an extended scene and trailer from the film, even after talking a lot about it, The Box still maintained an air of eerie mysteriousness. Based on an old Richard Matheson short story, the film expands upon the "press a button, kill someone, win a lot of money" premise. What does the box do? Who is the guy giving the box? What is the purpose of the offer? These were questions I was looking forward to find out about. Then Cameron Diaz answered a question about her character by revealing the nature of the people giving her the box.

As soon as she said it, the crowd went silent. I noticed Richard Kelly shifting in his seat beside her, but maintaining a poker face. My friend looked at me and went, "Uh, did she just spoil the movie?" My head turned to its side. Yeah, I think she just did. To be fair, she wasn't the only one who slipped a major hint; she just spelled it out for the audience. Kelly himself said earlier that he tried to crack an adaptation of Matheson's story, but couldn't figure it out until he decided to set it in 1976, tying it with a specific event and making it about a NASA scientist. Google "NASA 1976" and you can guess Cameron's spoiler oopsie.


2. Vampire fans can hate on other vampire fans

Twilight fans were easily on the receiving end of all the hate at the Con this year. If you walked the convention on Saturday, you would have noticed a group of people protesting Twilight, with signs saying "Twilight ruined Comic-Con."

The sentiment is shared by many. Aside from the New Moon panel itself, anytime there was a mention of Twilight at any of the other panels, the name was met with very loud boos. Geeks hating on other geeks for being geeky is nothing new. There's plenty of Star Wars fans dissing on Trekkies for being nerds, etc. What's so interesting about Twitards is that everyone seems to hate them. Even vampire fans.

At the True Blood panel, one girl found this out the hard way when she asked if Sookie and Bill would ever have a half-vampire-half-human baby, like Bella and Edward. Ballroom 20 immediately erupted into loud boos and angry obscene yells. Series creator Alan Ball was perplexed by the crowd reaction at first, but when he was told that it's a Twilight reference, he quickly responded with a dismissive "No!" The crowd cheered at his answer, which had the cast laughing. The same thing also happened at the Thirst panel, when a fan asked director Park Chan-wook if his vampire film could be labeled "Anti-Twilight" and the crowd applauded.

I predict that next year, when Robert Pattinson and Co are back to promote Eclipse, I suspect there will be a grassroots effort by haters to invade the panel and boo it to death.


3. What's cool on the Internet isn't always cool in person

Guys like to make a lot of Megan Fox jokes online. They particularly like to make inappropriate sexual references online. When you say it to the actual person, however, suddenly it becomes a lot less funny.

Megan Fox was there to promote her comic book flick Jonah Hex. At one point, a moron came up to the mic with a video camera on his shoulder. He said he just graduated from film school and wondered if Megan Fox would like to participate in a celebrity sex tape to help launch his career. She didn't even have to respond, because Hall H immediately went into angry boos. See, I don't think it's really the idea of disrespecting Megan Fox that made the fans angry, which is something gossip blogs writing about the incident seem to have misunderstood. In Hall H, we really hate lame questions, and we hate it even more when someone deliberately asks a stupid question just to antagonize guests and get a YouTube video out of it. Come back when your joke question is actually funny.

Co-star Josh Brolin, sitting next to Fox, made the perfect comment as two security guards dragged the guy out of the room: "Dude, I can't wait to see what you'll look like in thirty minutes."


4. Try not to turn the audience against you when moderating

scott-mantzAn unexpected source of amusement from Saturday's Hall H line-up came in the form of Access Hollywood's film critic Scott Mantz, who did such a terrible job moderating the panels he was assigned to that Hall H turned on him audibly.

Mantz tried his best. He came out to introduce the Zombieland panel in high spirits, spewing an uber-cheesy and seemingly coked-out spiel about Hall H being "the center of the universe on a Saturday!" It was mildly annoying and I noticed several people laughing or groaning at his crazy behavior, but for the most part, the crowd went with the enthusiasm. Mantz, however, only got worse as he went along. First rule of moderating? Don't make comments during a clip. While a Zombieland clip was still playing, as Jesse Eiseinberg's character slaps a zombie using a toilet tank top, Mantz thought it was appropriate to yell out "Ouch! That's gotta HURT!" What is this, ESPN 8: The Ocho? Mantz then rousted the crowd, during the 2012 panel right after, when he told director Roland Emmerich that 2012 makes The Day After Tomorrow and Independence Day look like Woody Allen movies. Apparently he meant it as a compliment, which makes it that much dumber. Hall H finally had enough and booed the crap out of him when he insulted an innocent fan ("Thanks for making your question better than your last one.")

Hilariously, when Mantz took the stage again for Iron Man 2 after a 15 minute break, Hall H immediately voiced their disapproval before he even said anything. To Mantz's credit, even when the crowd was yelling for him to get the hell off the stage, he kept his shit-eating grin and enthusiastic spirit. He's either a pro or he's deaf.


5. If you're going to screw your cast over, do it after Comic-Con

Futurama was supposed to be the talk of the Con. The show is back, it's the first Con since the announcement of the return, they made a special DVD set just for the convention, and the creators and stars were lined up for a big Ballroom 20 appearance. Futurama did become the talk of the Con, but for a completely different reason.

A week before Comic-Con, news broke out that 20th Century Fox Television hired a casting director to begin recasting the voices because they couldn't meet the original voice actors' salary demands. A Futurama without Billy West, Katey Sagal and John Di Maggio would be ridiculous, but the future was looking to be just that. I was among those naive enough to think that it was a silly pay dispute that would have resolved quickly, that the cast would show up and tell attendees not to worry. Instead, they boycotted the show and left the panel dead and awkward. Matt Groening and David X. Cohen were forced to kill time, and fans were asked not to bring up the dispute. But hey, we found out about a planned Twitter episode, so that's... something. Right?

The Futurama panel was supposed to be a fan celebration. It was supposed to build a big buzz for next year's return. What we got was a disappointing and awkward experience that left fans questioning the show's future. Good going there, Fox.

Arya Ponto • Contributor

As former Editor of JPP, Arya likes to entertain peeps with his thoughts on pop culture, when he's not busy watching Battle Royale for the 200th time. He lives in Brooklyn with a comic book collection that's always the most daunting thing to move with, and writes for Artboiled.com.


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