Fan Diego 

Comics: Braving the Comic-Con crowds to learn what’s coming in 2008.

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On the last weekend in July this year, 100,000 fanboys (and a surprising number of fangirls) descended in swarms upon the San Diego Convention Center to take part in one of the industry’s biggest events: Comic-Con. Three of the four days were sold out, leaving fans turned away at the door, while the scene inside reflected those numbers and made it one of the most crowded years ever. Even Wednesday’s preview night—long considered the “quiet part” of the show—was packed elbow-to-elbow at some parts of the convention hall.

Fans endured long lines for panels, signings and rejuvenation from Starbucks to learn what the coming year had in store. The biggest crowds were generally for the movie-studio-teaser presentations that have bullied their way in, making the middle of the convention hall nearly impossible to navigate through. Still, for those who go to San Diego to learn about comics, this year held a few announcements fans have been waiting for:

Marvel stole the show this year as far as movies based on comics go, largely as a result of the Iron Man film adaptation due out next May. Director Jon Favreau and star Robert Downey Jr. made an appearance; Favreau showed rough footage from the film and announced that he and Adi Granov, who designed the film’s armor, would be collaborating on a four-issue series next summer called Iron Man: Viva Las Vegas.

In other Marvel news, flagship X-title Astonishing X-Men—which is wrapping up a run helmed by superstars Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel) and John Cassaday—will continue under the creative hands of Warren Ellis (Planetary) and Simon Bianchi (Wolverine). Meanwhile, the Spider-Man comics will be condensed into one title, Amazing Spider-Man, and will ship three times a month and have four different creative teams rotating duties.

DC Comics didn’t have much to announce on the movie front, despite the highly anticipated Batman sequel The Dark Knight hitting theaters next summer. They stuck mainly to comics and kept the big reveals to a minimum. Their current weekly series Countdown will lead into next year’s Final Crisis, to be written by Grant Morrison (Batman, We3) and drawn by JG Jones (covers for 52, Wanted).

DC’s Vertigo panel was pretty streamlined as well, but it was announced that Josh Dysart (Swamp Thing) would be collaborating with Neil Young to adapt his concept album Greendale into a graphic novel of the same name. Brian Wood showed covers and interiors of his upcoming Viking series Northlanders, which editor Karen Berger referred to as a “hipster Viking story.” Brian Azzarello talked briefly about 100 Bullets, saying that the last 12 issues would make up one long arc to end the series at issue 100.

One of the most anticipated panels of the convention this year came courtesy of Image Comics: The Founders panel. Back in 1992, a number of the industry’s biggest artistic talents—Todd McFarlane, Jim Lee, Rob Liefeld, Mark Silvestri, Erik Larsen, Jim Valentino and Whilce Portacio—left Marvel to start their own company where work would be creator-owned, and they would be free to do whatever they wanted. Image has since grown into what is arguably the best company for creator-owned comics, but the original members were involved in a highly publicized falling out that descended into verbal mudslinging. This convention was the first time in years they had been together in one room, and no one knew what to expect. It turned out to be entertaining but ultimately lackluster, as they mostly just reminisced about how they met and created Image, tossing around a whole lot of good-natured jokes.

Despite the crowds and lines, 2007 turned out to be one of the more entertaining years for Comic-Con, offering a little something for everyone. And at 100,000 attendees and counting, that’s a whole lot of everyones. 

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