SAN DIEGO — They had begun their vigil Monday night — and Thursday morning, the throng of fans waiting in line to be the first to grab a seat in the San Diego Convention Center’s Hall H to see the first panel presentation of Comic-Con International 2011 were rewarded for their patience.
Five cast members from “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1,” the movie that kicked off four days of entertainment programming in the 6,500-seat venue, showed up to greet their public bright and early at 6:30 a.m. And they brought breakfast.
Nikki Reed, Ashley Greene, Elizabeth Reaser, Julia Jones and Booboo Stewart signed autographs and posed for pictures as staff from Summit Entertainment, the studio behind the film, passed out “Twilight” posters, coffee mugs, juice and muffins. “Breaking Dawn — Part 1,” the first of the two-part finale of the vampire romance franchise adapted from Stephenie Meyer’s best-selling young adult novels, opens in theaters Nov. 18.
The fans were ready for action. They had the cast signing magazine covers, personal pictures, T-shirts, even pieces of technology.
“I’m so happy,” squealed Aimee Gastelon, 22, of San Diego, who had been waiting since Tuesday afternoon for a seat inside but never expected the actors to show up in person.
“Ashley and Nikki just signed my iPad,” added Gastelon. “My iPad is so much more valuable now!”
— Nicole Sperling
IS THIS THE LINE FOR MANGA DOLLS?
One of Comic-Con’s most distinctive features is its endless and often mysterious lines — to pick up badges, to get into panels, to get a “Dr. Who” lunchbox signed, to get a hot dog. “Wait, what line are we in?” one Princess Leia asked another Wednesday night, echoing one of the event’s most common refrains.
On the eve of the convention opening, thousands of industry, press and volunteers lined up to gain early entry to the showroom floor, where elaborate exhibits promoted film, TV, video games, toys and, of course, comic books. At an event where the line between fan and professional is defiantly blurry, that meant costumed Power Rangers and Spider-Men rushing booths to get their pictures taken with a zombie from “The Walking Dead,” posing on a set piece from the upcoming “Avengers” movie and meeting friends underneath a massive statue of Optimus Prime from “Transformers.”
Much of preview night was dedicated to shopping for the kinds of things one just can’t get at home — a Batman onesie for the DC Comics fan still in diapers; some fuzzy, manga character dolls; a “Dexter” bobblehead; “Star Wars” panties with the phrase “I’ve got a Boba Fett-ish!” printed on the rear.
Nerd etiquette was casually enforced: “If you’re not dressed like Darth Vader, you shouldn’t pose there,” one attendee warned his friend, who was considering climbing into a giant “Star Wars” action figure case in street clothes.
— Rebecca Keegan
HOT TITLES IN THE COMIC BOOK AREA
On preview night, folding tables stacked with comic books — the original reason for this pop culture bacchanal — were among the loneliest places to be. A crowd rushed, however, when new titles by director Guillermo del Toro and Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello were unveiled at the Dark Horse Comics booth.
“The Strain,” the first book of the vampire trilogy by del Toro and novelist Chuck Hogan, is being adapted by Eisner Award-winning comic book writer David Lapham (“Kull: The Hate Witch,” “Stray Bullets”) and artist Mike Huddleston (“Butcher Baker,” “The Coffin”). Over eight issues, the comic will lay out the first chapter of the “Hellboy” and “Pan’s Labyrinth” director’s novel about a plane that goes dark on the runway at JFK, sparking fears of a bio-terror attack.
Morello is not just lending his name to “Orchid,” which he described as being about the “Spartacus of whores,” he’s writing it himself. It will feature art by Scott Hepburn (“Star Wars: Nights of the Republic”) and a variant cover by street artist Shepard Fairey. The tale of a teenage prostitute living in a land of “swamplike shantytowns” and “iron-fisted rule,” according to press materials, definitely sounds more adult than the DC and Marvel comics Morello said he read as a kid.
Morello was on hand, but del Toro, who was supposed to attend the event, hurt his back and had to bow out, according to Dark Horse’s president and founder, Mike Richardson, but the director was expected to make it to Comic-Con in time for his weekend commitments.
“I was an avid comic collector as a kid and teen and I put down comics when I picked up a guitar,” Morello said, looking out into the eager audience. “Comics have matured while I was away.”
— Rebecca Keegan
WES CRAVEN VERSUS GRAVITY
Del Toro wasn’t the only filmmaker who suffered a mishap and was a no-show.
Wes Craven, the elder statesman of horror movies, had a Vespa mishap — a fall from his scooter left the 71-year-old director and producer sore enough that his doctor told him to stay home. One panel he missed was Spike TV’s “Deadliest Warrior” showcase. The series pits historical figures against each other (say, Joan of Arc versus William the Conqueror).
“Deadliest Warrior” cast member Richard “Mack” Machowicz had a clinical appraisal of the asphalt incident: “Wes Craven versus gravity? Gravity wins.
— Geoff Boucher
EARLY NIBBLE OF ‘SHARK NIGHT 3D’
Members of the media got an early bite of “Shark Night 3D” on Wednesday night. At a party just outside the Convention Center, cast members from the film, which hits theaters in September, mingled with journalists.
The party featured blood-colored drinks called shark bites, a ride-on inflatable shark (think mechanical bull) and a green-screen photo booth (the “bite booth”) where guests could have themselves digitally inserted into an underwater cage from the movie. Booth babes walked around in lifeguard outfits serving food.
Directed by David Ellis, the movie is set at a lake house getaway where a group of college students falls under attack by vicious flesh-eating predators. Star Sara Paxton described working with three mechanical sharks during the summer shoot in Louisiana.
“I thought they were terrifying,” Paxton said. “I am stuck in this cage with a mechanical shark — and it has real shark teeth — that flies at you at, like, 40 miles per hour and thrashes its jaws.
“And I hear David Ellis, the director, say, ‘OK, close your eyes and float closer to the shark. Float closer,’ and I’m like, ‘I’m about to die, because this shark has real shark’s teeth, and it’s this close to me.’”
— Noelene Clark