It's amazing how much more crowded Comic-Con, San Diego's annual celebration of pop culture, has gotten in a mere two years. This is likely due to heightened media attention from the likes of Entertainment Weekly and the Los Angeles Times, the latter of which now runs not only preview pieces but also a daily report from the con. I wasn't able to attend last year's event but had gone four years in a row prior. I never had to wait in lines as long nor be turned away from panels as often as I did this year.
Nonetheless, my partner (a.k.a. Movie Dearest's newest contributor, James Jaeger) — who is a truer connoisseur of comic books than I am — and I had great fun prowling the exhibit hall, checking out the costumes (OK, checking out the men in tights and/or hot pants), and attending those panels we were able to get into. A few other highlights for me:
— There were plentiful celebrity sightings and not just in conjunction with the sneak peeks of upcoming movies, most of which were impossible to get into. I saw babe-of-the-moment Megan Fox (the Transformers movies and next year's Jonah Hex) atop the multi-level Warner Brothers display, waving to the delight of the fanboys gathered below; the original Lt. Uhura, Nichelle Nichols, looking lovely if a bit overwhelmed; and the cast of the new Fox TV series Glee, including yummy Matthew Morrison (more on Glee in a bit).
The high point, however, was looking up from my cell phone in the exhibit hall after texting my partner about a rendezvous spot and finding Torchwood's Captain Jack Harkness himself, John Barrowman, undressing me with his gorgeous eyes! Like any gay fan of the polysexual BBC hero, I hightailed it over to say "Hi!" He was friendly, flirty and delightful as can be. I commended him on the excellent, just-broadcast-in-the-US Torchwood miniseries Children of Earth, and thanked him for his revealing TV special, The Making of Me, in which Barrowman explored the possible causes of homosexuality using himself as guinea pig. He's a great song and dance man, too, having appeared in numerous West End musicals and is the lead singing Nazi in the film version of The Producers musical.
— To the delight of the initially-dubious Fox TV execs present, the screening of Glee's second episode, "Showmance," and panel discussion with the cast and producers packed the hall and received a rousing reception. This was the episode's second public showing, after its debut last weekend before a much smaller crowd at Outfest. Glee is shaping up to be the hit of the fall season, although I'm not convinced it will be embraced by older — and straighter — viewers. As the panelists accurately stated over and over, "This ain't High School Musical." It's gayer, snarkier and generally smarter.
— Of the major upcoming movies trumpeted at Comic-Con, I'm most looking forward to the soon-to-be-released District 9; this fall's horror-comedy Zombieland; the occult western Jonah Hex (which looks and sounds more interesting than its fellow comics-inspired releases scheduled for next summer, The Green Hornet and Iron Man 2); Disney and Robert Zemeckis's 3-D take on A Christmas Carol; and The Twilight Saga: New Moon. I have yet to see the first Twilight movie, but the posters of shirtless hottie Taylor Lautner have me convinced the sequel is going to be awesome!
I'm scared of 2012, not because of the subject matter but because it appears completely overwrought, as well as the toy-based Stretch Armstrong, which sounds lame. What's next, Weebles?
— The 22nd annual Gays in Comics panel Saturday night brought Comic-Con 2009 to a close for us. This year's participants included stalwarts Andy Mangels, Greg Rucka, Gail Simone and Phil Jimenez, plus newbies Perry Moore and Sina Grace. Moore is author of the very good novel Hero, which features a teenager coming to terms with both his super powers and his homosexuality. He revealed Showtime may be picking up a proposed TV series based on the book.
Grace was the youngest panel member, and held his own impressively. I'm planning to get a hold of his self-published illustrated novels Books with Pictures and the Orange County-set Cedric Hollows in Dial M for Magic. All had typically honest and inspirational things to say about their professional experiences as gay or lesbian artists, writers and/or artists who inspired them, and their hopes for the future of GLBT comics.
All in all, another full and fabulous weekend was had at Comic-Con International!
Report by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and the Orange County and Long Beach Blade.