By James Hancock July 11th, 2015
Another over-the-top day of Comic-Con has come and gone and this day had no shortage of pop culture earthquakes whose effects will be felt for many months to come. I am totally spent so I will waste no time in getting right down to it (ICYMI: my rants on Day 1 and Day 2). I started the day checking in with Bill Plympton at his booth but he had the situation well in hand so I beelined it over to the Indigo Ballroom at the Hilton in order to see Christ Hardwick’s panel for the Nerdist. Chris Hardwick is one of the most successful podcasters in the business and in that I am still learning how to speak in complete sentences on Wrong Reel I figured I could learn a thing or two from the master. Sadly he confessed immediately that he received a last minute invite to moderate Quentin Tarantino’s panel for The Hateful 8 and that he would have to bail on his own panel after 20 minutes or so. The one major revelation he offered was the Nerdist is getting into the film distribution business with a horror movie that looks absolutely outstanding called The Hive (see the trailer here). He also offered a sincere thank you to all of us for attending the Nerdist Panel in that he, as a hardcore Comic-Con fan, knows how much competition there is at the convention and he seemed genuinely moved that we would opt to see what he and his team at the Nerdist have in store for us over the next few months.
I skipped out early from the Nerdist panel in order to geek out at a panel where filmmaker Joe Dante (The Howling, Gremlins, Innerspace) and a few representatives from Warner Archives were presenting a series of newly restored films on Blu-Ray to be released this Fall. The films are some neglected horror treasures including four classic Hammer horror films (The Mummy, Dracula Has Risen From the Grave, Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed, & Taste the Blood Dracula, more to come later) as well as four SFX-driven monster films including Son of Kong, Mighty Joe Young, Them!, & The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms. As a film history buff, what made the panel great was hearing Joe Dante’s lecture on what made these films stand out to him as a young moviegoer. The Hammer horror films were period pieces and should never have appealed to kids from the Atomic Age, but their lurid use of color, especially blood, as well as ample cleavage made them stand apart from conventional horror films at that time. Best of all were Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing who rapidly earned their status as icons of horror teaming up to fight one another in movie after movie.
Back at the booth we had an awesome day and sold a respectable amount of Blu-Rays of Bill Plympton’s Cheatin’, a film on which I proudly served as executive producer. I did not get into Hall H today but it was impossible not to notice the tidal wave of announcements and surprises coming from that auditorium. Quentin Tarantino absolutely dominated with his panel for The Hateful 8 which most attendees are saying was by far the most entertaining and informative panel of SDCC.
From the world of Warner Bros and DC, we heard announcements for a Green Lantern Corps movie in the works and apparently everyone flipped for Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn in the upcoming film Suicide Squad. The biggest surprise was the warm reception for the new trailer for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
I might end up eating a little crow on this one. I’ve been talking all kinds of trash about this movie but I can feel myself coming around on it. Let’s just say I’m officially intrigued. Back at our booth, one of the best surprises of the day was a visit from a man who has been entertaining the world with his animation for decades, the creator of The Simpsons, Matt Groening. Matt Groening and Bill Plympton go way back and it was a privilege to get to meet him.
My last panel of the day that I attended was to hear novelist Chuck Palahniuk talk about his new comic book series Fight Club 2. Also on the panel were his artists David Mack and Cameron Stewart and they spoke at length about the original Fight Club novel, David Fincher’s film adaptation, and why they felt the need to continue the story as a comic. Palahniuk joked about being courted by a variety of the most popular writers in the comic book biz and how they offered to help him with learning the format provided that whatever he did would be a continuation of Fight Club. When asked about his writing process, he talked about how every novelist unintentionally turns their first book into a confessional or memoir. Most of the characters from the novel were based on his friends at that time. What he loves about working in comics is the freedom. With his first novel, he was subjected to intense negotiations and bartering with his editor whenever he thought up something outlandish like liposuction soap. With Dark Horse, they simply let him do whatever he wants and he seems to be having a blast with the process. This is definitely a book I plan on adding to my monthly pull list.
I wrapped up my day with dinner with an old friend, Becky D’Anna. She and I interned together in the summer of 1998 and she remains one of the most passionate film freaks on the planet that I know. She spent the day in Hall H and brought me up to speed on most of the things I missed including some details about the new Warcraft film based on the MMORPG World of Warcraft, a game in which I invested several years of my life. So time to wrap this up and watch UFC 189. I’ve been dying to watch the Conor McGregor fight all day and I can think of no better way to bring this day to a close.
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