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San Diego Comic-Con 2011 Wrap-Up

Comic-Con 2011 held every year in San Diego is the Mecca for geeks everywhere to show the world their "geekdom". It's not uncommon to find yourseSan Diego Comic-Con 2011lf at the convention mingling with an anime character look-alike and big name celebrities at the same time, assuming you can find them in the massive crowd.

Ever since its beginning in 1970, the convention has steadily grown in attendance, topping out at over 150,000 people in 2010. Currently, the event is held in the San Diego Convention Center where it is planned to host the event until 2015. SDCC is the premier event for anything comic books, movies, TV and even video games.

Unlike the other high caliber events like E3 and CES, Comic-Con is open to the public and is enjoyed by every kind of attendee, including collectors, fan boys and the journalist elite.

The biggest spectacle on display, however, are the cosplayers: people dressed in costume as their favorite fictional characters. Some costumes take years of planning with attention to detail. Costume contests are common at display booths where the best suit often wins large prizes.

While the SDCC show floor is the main gathering point, the panels and talks are the main attraction. With lines lasting on average of 3 hours, popular panels featuring stars like Adam Sessler from G4, WWE wrestlers Triple H and Rey Mysterio, Stan Lee, Todd McFarlane and many others cover all aspects of entertainment media. Movie announcements, video game details, TV show announcements and release dates of featured comic books are discussed by industry experts and attended by regular fans.

The 2011 San Diego Comic-Con did not disappoint with numerous announcements.

Movies:

The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)The Amazing Spider Man
dir. Marc Webb
At the Sony panel, the unveiling of the new movie The Amazing Spider-Man was unexpected. A fan dressed up in Cosplay as Spider-Man went up to the stage during the movie presentation. The costume appeared to have come from the costume store next door and half-hastily put on.

As the mock Spider-Man approached the microphone, he took off the mask and revealed to the audience his true identity as Andrew Garfield, the actor portraying Spider-Man in the upcoming blockbuster movie. The presentation concluded with a teaser trailer for the movie being shot in 3D.

Mass Effect: The Mmass effectovie
Screen writer Mark Protosevich
Game Creator Casey Hudson
Mass Effect: The Movie was on topic at this year's SDCC during the Legendary Pictures panel. Both the lead screen writer and the game creator acknowledged the lackluster history of video game-based movies, and plan on creating a visual experience which should break that trend.

Protosevich mentioned that previous movie makers in the genre concentrated on visuals and action rather than the spirit of the game they were recreating. However, no additional news on the title was presented, but every gamer is looking forward to the title.

Jurassic Park 4
dir. Steven Spielberg
Rumors of the fourth installment have been floating around the internet since Jurassic Park 3. Steven Spielberg himself confirmed JP4 with a tagline "An adventure 65 million years in the making." He hinted at a release date within 2 or 3 years but didn't share any details on cast or writing staff.

Games:

Mortal Kombat
Freddy Krueger DLC on Mortal KombatThe newest edition of the classic fighting series was released with triumphant success. Since then, new characters and costumes were released to the gaming public. The fourth and final new character was announced at SDCC as the nightmare himself, Freddy Krueger, makes his appearance in the game. He will be available for download on August 9, 2011 with 400 Microsoft points or $4.99 on the PlayStation Network.

PuddlePuddle
Puddle is a physics based puzzle game where the player controls the tilt of the world in order to get liquids through the level. It's almost like looking into an ant farm, tilting it to get water to travel through all the different crevices throughout. For either the Xbox or PlayStation, control of the world is done through use of the Xbox analog sticks or by tilting the Sony DualShock 3 controller. The goal is to get the maximum about of liquid to the end of a stage in the shortest amount of time.

Leedmees
Also shown at E3 2011, Leadmees by Konami is basically Lemmings for the Kinect. Using the Kinect camera, players are to position themselves in a way so that small characters on the screen go from one end of the level to the other, all while ensuring their safety. Players will find themselves contorting their bodies in order to save these cute little creatures.

The Walking Dead: The Game
Based on the popular comic book collection and the recent television series, Telltale Games' The Walking Dead: The Game is expected to live up to its predecessor. The game focuses on Lee Everett and takes place during the events of the comics. A moral choice system is implemented in this Telltale title and adds hours of replay value to the experience. No release date has been set.

Sideway
Sideway the GameThink about how awesome Mario was at the 2D platform genre. Now think about putting that game in 3D. No, not all in 3D, but just the environment.

That game would be Sideway, a 2D side scrolling adventure set in a three-dimensional world. You play as Nox, a graffiti artist who one day finds himself as the artwork itself. Jumping from wall to wall, Nox must find his way out of the walls and back to normal life. The game will retail for $10 on the PlayStation Network later this year.

TV:

CM Punk crashes Comic-Con
At the WWE panel featuring WWE legends Bret Hart, Triple H and Rey Mysterio, CM Punk made an impromptu appearance with the WWE title belt in hand. For those of you not familiar with the saga behind the new wrestler, CM Punk officially is not part of the WWE since the Pay-Per-View Money in the Bank in which CM Punk won his title. His contract ended that day and he hasn't been seen in the wrestling world since then. Mobs of people surrounded the infamous wrestler, taking pictures and videos with him.CM Punk at Comic-Con

After demanding the microphone, CM Punk took the opportunity to give a long speech mentioning WWE president Vince McMahon's tournament for the next WWE Champion. Fans and skeptics aren't sure whether CM Punk's appearance in the event means he will return to the WWE or whether this is his final hurrah as he fades out of the spotlight.

Green Lantern Animated Series
Following up on the movie release of Green Lantern, four clips were shown at this year's SDCC at a panel featuring executive producer Bruce Timm, producer Sam Register, Giancarlo Volpe and Jim Krieg.

Audience questions didn't lead to very many answers about the series, but the topic of Red Lanterns was brought up. For the series, the Red Lanterns will appear more humanoid to make them kid-friendly rather than sprawling beasts best known in the comics. The ultimate goal is to create a long-lasting series with many inspired spin-offs.

Tron: Uprising
At the Kick Buttowski panel sponsored by Disney XD, concept art and animation test footage for Tron: Uprising was revealed. The series takes place before the movie Tron: Legacy. Actor Elijah Wood voices the protagonist Beck raising to become the next Tron. The CGI and music is similar to the latest movie with similar feel to its soundtrack, crafted by electronic group Daft Punk. The series is set to launch next year with 10 micro-episodes in early 2012.

The San Diego Comic-Con is held every year in at the San Diego Convention Center.

For more information, go to http://www.comic-con.org

Book Expo reflections

For those addicted to reading, Book Expo America is a cross between Wonderland altand an obstacle course. If one can bypass the enormous crowds, fight through rabid fans bent on getting the latest advanced reader copies of their favorite read and fans loaded down with over a hundred pounds of books stuffed into tote bags, one can have a chance to meet and interact with the stars of the literary world. For me as an aspring author and book addict, it was sheer paradise.

From the show stopping show runners like Charlaine Harris, who generously encouraged me to keep writing, to the wonderful editors, sales people and volunteers who generously talked to an overly enthusiastic young writer who had far too many questions.

Even waiting on long lines to get autographs from personal heroes like animal specialist Temple Grandin and vampire author sensation Richelle Mead was a chance to connect with fellow fans. I chatted about Holocaust education with a brilliant young high school student from Maryland, discussed Christian theology with a handsome young salesman who was kind enough to watch my bulging book bags, and chatted with Laura Joh Rowland, one of the authors who inspired me to write.

As this is my second Book Expo, I had already mastered the unspoken survival rules. Pick events clearly, avoid all but the most yearned for big names, arrive at all signings thirty minutes early and take free samples judicially, remembering that you have to carry them home.

Most importantly, look outside your genre and the big publishers. There are a lot of new and independent voices being featured and many are incredible. Special recommendations to the Mystery Writers of America book in the 4400s, an amazing staff make sure you get recommendations suited for you.

Tomorrow, highlights include Bill Willingham of Fables fame and Mira Grant of the Newsflesh saga, both doing in-booth signings. I’m counting the hours.

Billboard's Touring Conf Plays In NY - Awards in Hand

Rush's Alex Lifeson & U2's Paul McGuiness

After six years at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City, the Billboard 7th Annual Touring Conference & Awards, moved over to the Sheraton New York on November 3-4, 2010. While attracting the most delegates in its history, the trade publication Billboard got a larger room for the two days of music industry panels, but  the awards show was held in a compressed space.

The panels covered mostly touring issues, including ticketing, merchandising, branding and sponsorships, VIP packages, artist development, new media and other live music , tech people issues. The conference attracts booking agents, artist managers, concert promoters, record company executives, venue professionals and a few indie artists.

The highlight of the concert was a keynote case study with the hot country group Sugarland along with its manager and  agent, but the real treat was Sugarland -- Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush.  Nettles has a big hit, "Who Says You Can't Go Home," with Bon Jovi back in 2006.

Read more: Billboard's Touring Conf Plays...

2010 NY Comic Con Reflections

Walking through Grand Central Station and seeing people dressed as Japanese schoolgirls, ninjas and superheroes is unusual, even for Manhattan. New York Comic Con and New York Anime Festival attracts the few, the proud and the geeky into the Javits Center for three straight days of comic books, movies, anime and zombie apocalypse.

Comic-Con At Street Level [photo: B. Balfour]Going to Comic Con/NYAF is not an activity for those who have a low threshold for public humiliation. Besides the spandex and the skimpy costumes, there is also the constant demand to participate in activities which practically demand shedding any self-consciousness.

One big attraction was the Michael Jackson Experience, where dancers competed to copy the moves of the late great performer. Although not brave enough to try, it was an experience to watch the heavily costumed souls courageous enough to attempt dancing weighted down by loads of fake armor. The fear of public humiliation aside, it was likely one of the most popular spots at the event.

Read more: 2010 NY Comic Con Reflections

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