SAN DIEGO COMIC CON INTERNATIONAL

Day Two Report

by

Stephanie 'The Shadow Cat' Metz

Click on the thumbnails to go to a larger picture

 

I hope people will forgive me when I reiterate that I have the best husband in the universe.  I know, I know, I said the same thing in the last report I did for The Doug Jones Experience, but let me tell you; I really, really do have the best husband in the entire blinking universe.

This story actually begins last January when my mother-in-law was visiting our home, she informed my hubby just before she returned to her home in New York that she was planning on returning for another visit with my sister-in-law and her daughter in July.  In April plans for their trip started to take shape and not to bore you with the nitty gritty details a three day trip to Yosemite was planned during their visit.  There is a reason for telling you this, so bear with me.

In June Guillermo del Toro announce that there would be a limited edition Pan’s Labyrinth poster with artwork by none other than Mike Mignola himself that would only be given out at San Diego Comic Con in mid July.  The exact days that I was to be in Yosemite.  Needless to say, I was heartbroken that I wasn’t going to be able to attend and get one of those bad boys. 

Now, while GDT did promise he would save some posters and then raffle them off on his site, I still very much wanted to go.  I have two friends who normally go, but when I asked if either one of them was going to they both said ‘no’ they weren’t going this year.  ARGH!  Now I really wanted to go and the fact that I was going to have to spend time with my in-laws in Yosemite instead of getting this incredible poster was just salt in the wound.

A few days before my husband’s family was due to come out and about a week before SDCC, my husband dropped a surprise on me that guaranteed him a spot in the Hubby Hall of Fame forever.  He decided that I could skip the trip to Yosemite and go to SDCC for a day while he took the kids and his family on the planned trip.  Then, to top everything else off, he booked my plane tickets!  Is this man great or what?

Now while I couldn’t get confirmation of when the posters would be given away or how, I went with the best guess that since GDT and Doug would be signing on Friday, that that would be the day that the posters would be given out.  While Hubby was willing to let me fly down there, he wasn’t quite willing to spend an arm and a leg so I could only go the one day and we went with the cheapest tickets we could get and that included a 6:45 am flight Friday morning. UGH!

So a week finally goes by and Hubby, the kids, mother-in-law, sister-in-law and niece leave for Yosemite at noon on Thursday.  I packed my husband and the kids’ luggage and then packed the car to help get them on their way.  I wasn’t trying to rush them out the door, honest.  I was helping.  *big grin*  Is it a bad thing that I let out a whoop of joy as soon as the cars disappeared around the corner?

After going out to dinner with a couple of friends that night, I set the alarm to wake me at 3:45 the next morning and then I finally collapse into bed at a quarter to eleven.  I’ve got the bed to myself, no snoring hubby, no kid trying to climb into bed with me because he had a nightmare and no kids throwing up in the middle of the night.  Pure heaven.

So what happens?  I wake up at 2:00 in the morning and can’t get back to sleep because I’m too excited about going to SDCC and seeing Dougie again and finally meeting GDT.  URG!  So at 3:40 I stop fooling myself, crawl out of bed and get ready for what hopefully will be one of the best days of my life.

Getting down to San Diego is pretty uneventful; I hop into a cab and head for the San Diego Convention Center which is less than four miles from the airport.  A couple blocks from the center, my goal in sight and traffic stops dead.  We’re going nowhere fast, so I pay and walk the rest of the way.

Registration is a breeze once I find out which line I’m supposed to be in and then I get to sit on my backside for over an hour waiting for them to open up the area where the panels are held.  There’s only one panel I want to see and that’s the one that talks about the Hellboy Animated movies coming out at the end of the year.  I’m especially interested in seeing any clips with Abe since a certain Mr. Jones does the voice for him, but more about that in a bit.

Now our dear Hellmistress [ed: the Hellboard alter ego of your highly embarrassed Webmaster] let it be known that Dougie would probably be in the audience since he was very interested in seeing this panel, so I looked for him.  I kept looking for him until they started the panel, a bit disappointed because I didn’t see a familiar tall, gangly fellow with pretty blue eyes anywhere in the audience. 

I won’t bother telling what happened on the panel since you can download it off the web now, what I will tell you is what my reaction to it was. When they showed the section of the movie they brought I have to say that I was a little disappointed with Abe’s voice. I heard what sounded like someone trying to sound like David Hyde Pierce’s character 'Niles' from Fraiser doing the voice of 'Abe' and to me it was almost like someone was running their fingernails down a chalkboard. Very annoying.

At the end of the clip, something in the back of mind was telling me something was wrong with 'Abe’s voice, besides the obvious.  I learned later that what I was picking up on was an incongruity with the voice.  It seems that Doug did do one line out of that segment and I had missed it because I wasn’t really paying attention at that point.  Truth be told, I was trying to ignore the sound of that voice.

When I mentioned my disappointment with the voice on the message boards it was pointed out what I had missed.  I went back and listened to the segment again after downloading off the web and I could hear Doug’s voice as clear as day.  My personal opinion is that Doug’s voice is much better for Abe than the other person they had doing it.  Not that I’m biased or anything.

When GDT makes his appearance I do a quick look around and there’s a familiar face taking his seat clear across the room from me.  Oh well, I at least now have a target to aim for after the panel ends.  Once the panel does end, I gather my things and do my salmon impersonation as everyone else heads for the exits and their free t-shirts and I head for Dougie which just happens to be in the opposite direction to the flow of people.

It takes me a few moments to find Doug through all the people once I do get there.  Of course he’s in the middle of a bunch of people who want to say ‘hello’ to one of the sweetest human beings on the planet and I can’t say as I really blame them because, let’s face it, I’m one of them.  By the time I finally make my way up to Doug, he has his back to me so I gently touch him to get his attention. 

When he starts to turn around he begins to give his ‘hi, how are you’ line until he recognizes my face.  Suddenly he’s very excited to see me and I get a big hug.  For those of you who haven’t experienced Dougie huggage, they are very addictive.  I have to admit that a little part of me was worried that he wouldn’t recognize me but that was quickly alleviated when he called me by name.

We talked for a few seconds until he was whisked away to go to the autographing session he and GDT were to do at the Picturehouse table.  I assured Dougie that I would be there in a few minutes as we parted company and then I went to go get my Hellboy Animated t-shirt.  Little did I know what I was in for.

After getting my very cool looking t-shirt, I wandered around completely lost (you'd think the organizers would have thought to have an information booth to help people find where they needed to be, but noooooooo) trying to find the Picturehouse booth. After about 15 minutes of wandering around the exhibition hall (and that’s after I found the hall itself) I found the table that was giving out promo posters for Hellboy: Sword of Storms and they were able to point me in the direction of a wonderfully familiar tree.

They had a full sized replica of the tree from Pan's Labyrinth and after getting there I got in a line that not only circled around the tree but zig zagged through and then looped around the Snakes on a Plane exhibit.

I did snag a couple of the freebie Pan’s Labyrinth posters of 'Pan' and the 'Pale Man' before getting in line, but I couldn’t get a straight answer out of the Picturehouse person on how to get The Poster.  I knew I had to get a key to get that piece of Mike Mignola loveliness, but I wasn’t sure how.  All I knew was that it had something to do with that tree and I was told that the tree wouldn’t be open until 3:00.

Slightly worried that I wouldn’t get the one item I really wanted, I went and got in line.  Now Doug and GDT’s autograph session is supposed to go from 11:30-1:30 and here I was getting in line at noon so needless to say I was a bit worried I wouldn’t get at least the two posters I had acquired signed considering I had seen the length of the line.  Luckily, I had brought Hellboy: Unnatural Selection with me to read, and doing some people-watching filled up my time.  By 1:30 I was in sight of the tree, Doug and GDT and fortunately, it didn’t look like those two were going to be stopping any time soon.  How they managed to keep their hands from cramping up, I’ll never know. 

As I got closer to the tree, I saw a Picturehouse person handing out chains to people waiting in line.  As she approached me, she explained that the chain was for us to hang our key on when we got it.  I got all excited, but how to get the key, that was the question.

As much as I know GDT loves his fans, I think he loves tormenting us equally as well.  To get the special key you had to get to the tree and stick your hand in a hole in the side of the trunk.  No biggie really except that the keys were inside a pool of slimy goo that you had to put your hand into.  The things I do for a signed, limited edition poster.  *Sigh*  So in my hand went and out came a key and goo much to my delight and dismay.

Luckily this is just the slime you can buy in a toy store so it came off easily enough and my hands weren’t in the least bit sticky afterwards.  My only problem was where to wipe off the slime, and from the looks of it, I’m not the only one who used the tree.  Of course being the mother of two boys, you really have to work at it to get me grossed out.

After two hours in line, I finally get to the front of the bloody thing.  First up is Senor Guillermo del Toro.  I go up, introduce myself and I’m nearly delirious that he recognizes my name from the boards.  After telling me that he’s delighted that I was able to make it, he then instructs me to find so and so and kick his butt for him.  I have to admit, that I was a bit stunned to be asked to find someone and kick them in the posterior.  Fortunately it was noisy and I didn’t hear the name properly, so for now, it’s not likely I’ll be arrested for assault any time soon.

Next is Dougie himself and he’s all excited to see me again which does my heart a world of good.  He personalizes my poster for me and then he pulls out a picture I sent him for him and Guillermo to sign before I knew I was going to SDCC.  They both sign it, I collect the picture and my Mike Mignola poster, get a hug and a kiss (on the cheek) by Dougie and then I wander away a happy camper, making room for the next fan.

I get five feet from the table and I realize I forgot to pull out the freebie posters that I had gotten before I got in line.  DOH!  Well, there’s nothing to be done for it now and I’m in need of a bathroom and food, in that order.  After carefully storing my precious cargo, I go off to take care some of the more basic things in life. 

After finding food ($3.75 for a pretzel), I wander around the exhibit never straying too far from the Picturehouse booth.  I encounter a couple of interesting things in my wanderings and I will get to them in a bit.  Shortly before 3:00, I meander back towards the Picturehouse booth and see that the autograph session is almost over.  If the truth be told, if security hadn’t decided to finally end the line, GDT and Doug probably would have been signing all weekend.

I hang around as the final words and hugs are given to fans, a few posed photos are taken and then Dougie is finally free to do as he pleases.  I’m there for one reason and one reason only, I want another hug.  I’m addicted, so sue me.  Dougie feeds my addiction, introduces me to Paul, better known as 'bboy' on the boards and then he does something that nearly makes me faint on the spot.

“Would you like to walk with us?” he asks.

“I would love to walk with you,” I answer.

My day pretty much made, we start to walk and after about three steps we stop.  They’re looking for food and I point out the two places that are serving over-priced junk food ($8 for a hamburger, not a meal, just the burger).  John Zander, Doug’s publicist, picks the direction and we head for the closer one, but when we get there there’s no seating.  So we head towards the other food place since I remember seeing that they had tables over there (and chairs too!) when I was wandering around lost earlier.

On the way we pass the table for Highlander Films, this is one of the interesting places I encountered earlier. Now Highlander Films is the place that re-did The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari about a year ago where our own sweet Dougie played 'Cesare,' and it turns out that the movie will finally be coming out in about 6 months on DVD. Len McLeod (the producer) was there and Dougie being the social butterfly he is, starts talking to him. After about 5-10 minutes we watch the trailer of another movie Len produced that they're trying to find a distributor for. It's a slasher/horror flick and as we're standing there, there's a rather bloody scene and Len goes, "Oops, there goes the PG rating." A second later we watch a person get cut in half and I looked at him and say, "There goes your PG-13 rating too." He laughs.

We finally make it to the other food area and sure enough there are tables and chairs there, but virtually nothing is open.  We find a few seats together at a big table and since I’m not hungry, I volunteer to guard them while the others go off to stand in line.  I gladly take up the job as Defender of the Chairs, proudly defending their seats until their return.  Ok, so saying, “I’m sorry, these are taken” doesn’t quite have the same punch as beating my sword against my shield, but it all works out in the end.

We talk as they munch, mostly about sleeping and the fact that I haven’t had a lot of it lately.  Doug mentions that Picturehouse has been treating him and GDT like kings for the convention, but as far as I’m concerned it’s nothing less than he or GDT deserve.  Then Paul asks Doug about his favorite foods and turns out that corndogs and tuna are top of the list.

After the food is consumed and the trash is tossed, we go in search of Mike Mignola so he can sign my poster.  Doug and John are more than in favor of this since they want to see him too.  Now I got directions to Mike’s table from the Hellboy Animation table during my earlier wanderings, so we aim ourselves towards the other end of the hall.  Did I mention that this room is about the size of a football stadium?  It’s huge.

“Have you seen the Right Hand of Doom?” I ask.

“The real one?” Doug gasps.

“Not quite, follow me,” I instruct.

So we meander through the booths, me leading the way.  Now unlike a friend of mine who can’t find her way out of a paper bag with a map (her own words), I have a fairly decent sense of direction.  Once I’ve been to a place I can almost always find my way back to it.

It is with this ability that I lead the others to the other interesting place I found during my wanderings.  A giant Right Hand of Doom that is a display case for Hellboy Animation miniatures that are being put out by Gentle Giant. They’ve got some pretty neat little figurines there, but no Abe unfortunately, but still cool to look at.

After checking out the booth for a bit and seeing that Ray Harryhausen was signing at that time (I got to see the top of his head) we resume our trek towards Mike.  As we’re leaving the booth, we pass a slightly larger than life Medusa based on the one Mr. Harryhausen made I believe for Clash of the Titans.  What I wouldn’t give to have that baby to scare the fur off of the annoying yappy dogs next door.

As we make our way across the hall towards Mike’s table I discover something.  If you’re ever walking anywhere with Doug and there’s a lot of people about, don’t expect to get there quickly.  It’s not that he’s a slow walker, it just that so many people want to say “hi” to him, shake his hand, tell him what role of his that they loved the best and have a picture taken with him.  I can’t blame them.  Hey, I’m spending what little time I have at this convention hanging out with him instead of checking out the booths and panels and I’m completely geeking out about it.

So we finally get within sight of Mike’s table, we’re about ten feet from our goal and Doug is stopped by yet another group of people.  After standing there for a couple minutes, I finally lose patience and head over to Mike’s booth.  As much as I love Dougie, I want my poster signed by the man who created it and I want it now.

Blissfully, there are only a couple of other people in front of me so I get my Pan’s Labyrinth poster, my Hellboy: Sword of Storms poster and my Hellboy: Unnatural Selection book all signed very quickly.  By the time I’m done, I look over and Doug is still talking away with the people who stopped him.  I head back to the dear and wait patiently now for him to finish his conversation.  John asks how much farther and I point.  I stand off to the side as the others talk to Mike and his wife as I people-watch and check out the sights.

A while later we’re leaving the exhibition hall because Dougie wants to find his friends from Carnies, but alas, we must also say goodbye to Paul as he has someplace else to be.  Doug knows that the Carnies guys are in the autograph area and I remember passing by that area in my search for the exhibition hall.  Again, we don’t get there quickly, but we do eventually get there.

As we start to look for the Carnies table, it seems Doug knows pretty much everyone who is signing autographs at these tables and several of them are clients of John’s so he goes off to check in on them.  I wander off and do a little searching on my own to finally find the Carnies table tucked away around a corner in a place that gets very little traffic.

When Doug is finally done socializing with half the people in the area (ok, it was nowhere near that, but still…) we head over to the Carnies table where I get to meet Brian Corder who directed Carnies and Chris Staviski who played 'Virgil Handso.'  Two very nice and funny men, let me tell you.

I think we spent a good forty-five minutes to an hour there and they regaled me with stories of behind the scenes that had me laughing the whole time.  If you ever get any one of these men alone, or better yet, all together, ask them to tell you about the Chicken Lady.  You won’t be able to stop laughing.  At one point I even remember the posters Doug hasn’t signed and the wonderful dear gladly signs them.

Unfortunately, time waits for no one and after spending 3 ½ hours in his delightful company, Dougie has to leave and I know it’s about time for me to get back to the airport to return home.  With a final hug and kiss, we part ways and I leave with a smile on my face that I can’t seem to get rid of.  Even though my flight is over an hour late leaving the gate and the fact that I lost of my crocheting hook earlier in the day can’t get rid of that silly smirk.  I completely blame Dougie for that.  Thank you, Dougie.

Stephanie 'The Shadow Cat' Metz
California, 30th July, 2006

Post Scriptum by John Zander, Doug's Publicist:

I would like to thank Stephanie for taking the time to hang out with Doug and I. It was very kind of her to help us find our way around the showroom. And we would not have had a place to sit and eat if it were not for her patience and kindness.

Thank you Stephanie!

John


Post Post Scriptum ~ THE POSTER

So I get home and now I have this wonderful poster that I’m scared to death someone’s going to sneeze on.  My original plan is to wait for hubby to get home with the car and then zip over to the local frame shop and get this baby framed and while I’m at it I plan on grabbing a couple pre-made frames for the other two posters that I got Dougie to sign.

Hubby finally gets home Saturday afternoon and tells me that they came home early because the car’s been over heating and he doesn’t want anyone to drive it unless we really have to.  In the immortal words of Captain Jack Sparrow:  Oh, bugger.  We finally get the car to the mechanic on Tuesday and it turns out we’ve got a cracked radiator.  Isn’t that just lovely?  Luckily, the radiator is easily replaced and we get the car back that evening.  (Side note:  I went out to coffee with a friend that night and when I mentioned that I was taking the posters to the frame shop in the morning, she thought I was having them laminated.  EEK!)

So Wednesday morning, I drop the kids off at the drop in day-care center and head over to the frame shop with my very precious bundle.  It turns out that since these aren’t full sized posters, there are no pre-made frames in those sizes so I spend a good 10-15 minutes getting frames picked out for a counted cross stitch (which I had already planned on custom framing) and the other two posters.  Then I spend at least that amount of time working with Martin (the guy who works in the shop who happens to like GDT’s work) to pick out the perfect mats and frame for The Poster.  It came out looking great, don’t you think?

I felt it was important that the key that I needed to get The Poster in the first place be somehow incorporated into the final product so it was my idea to put it in there, but it was Martin’s idea to cut out a hole in the mats for it.  I had originally planned on only double matting the poster, but Martin showed me how much better the whole thing would look with a triple mat.  The biggest challenges were to match the orange in the poster with one of the mats and picking out the perfect frame (rustic but not so big that it took over the entire work).  Despite the cost, in the end, it came out great and I’m very happy with it.

Stephanie 'The Shadow Cat' Metz
California, 11th August, 2006




© 2006 Stephanie Metz. All rights reserved


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