Space Is Tight(s) At Comic-Con

Fret not if that cape and tights, or other semi-attire, don't fit quite as winsomely as they once did. We're headed out to San Diego and Comic-Con this morning on a news-aggregation mission to gather all you need to know about the annual comic book convention that not only draws about 125,000 fans -- many emulating their favorite characters -- but also the likes of Mattel, Hasbro and Disney Stores, in what has become, as the New York Timesheadline puts it, "a testing ground for toymakers."

"It's a unique opportunity for us as a company to interact with the fans," Hasbro CMO John Frascotti tells Gregory Schmidt. "As a company that's committed to that audience, we see an opportunity to provide something unique that they could not ordinarily get."

The likes of video game makers, TV producers and Hollywood studios will join the braying fray at the Convention Center in San Diego today, where temperatures will be a balmy 68 - 73 for those who dare to venture outside.



In order to differentiate themselves from every manner of attention-grabbing huckster under the 615,701-square-foot total exhibit space, toymakers "started adding bells and whistles to their toys, offering bigger and deluxe versions, often in packaging with light and sound features. And because these toys could not be found anywhere else, collectors spent their precious convention time waiting in line for a chance to buy them," Schmidt reports.

Packaging and nostalgia both figure heavily into the mix, as a G.I. Joe in a box with a Cobra Commander figure inside the cockpit of a Starscream jet, for example, will attest. Serious stuff.

Why, the fest even attracts marketers who are targeting people who don't normally buy its core product. "Say what?" you ask? Well, the Hollywood Reporter's Borys Kit reports that Dark Horse Comics is promoting new forthcoming comics by three creators from the world of film (Guillermo del Toro), music (Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine) and young adult literature (P.C. Cast).

"We want to reach people who don't normally read comics," Dark Horse president Mike Richardson tells him.

Del Toro is overseeing the adaptation of his vampire novel series The Strain and was not able to attend the gathering. Morello did, however, do the meet-and-greet thing yesterday to pump enthusiasm for his "tale of a 16-year-old street prostitute who learns that she is more than the role society has imposed upon her."

Why write a comic book? "I didn't want to be another Hollywood jackass writing a screenplay and didn't have time to write the great American novel," Morello tells Kit.

Comic Kevin Smith, a long-time participant, talks to CBS' David Riedel about the "Geek State of the Union" he'll deliver Saturday night, as well as the panel he'll moderate Friday featuring "Star Trek" captains William Shatner and Avery Brooks. They'll discuss Shatner's documentary, "The Captains."

"Comic-Con International people pack it from wall to wall," Smith says. "You can never go to Comic-Con and go, 'Meh.' There's always something to be doing and sometimes you're even competing against things you want to see yourself."

Bill Keveney, Mick Snider, Scott Bowles and Brian Truitt are all over the story for USA Today, with a roundup of all the top buzz-producing exhibits. There is, for example, Fox's "Terra Nova," a "Steven Spielberg-produced sci-fi adventure about a family that goes back 85 million years as part of an experiment to save a dying, overcrowded Earth." Don't miss a photo-op with Matt Smith, who plays the eleventh Doctor Who, and Karen Gillan, who plays his "feisty companion Amy Pond." Then there's a new game comic and animated short film, "Assassin's Creed Embers," for "Assassin's Creed Revelations," a videogame in which, among other things, you can "manipulate the construct of Desmond's memories and the Animus to decipher the mysteries of his past and gain insight into the future."

Well, that's all we got for you as the sun prepares to beat down on San Diego Bay, but you can get Comic-Con's Twitter feeds. Or you can follow a battery of Hollywood Reporter reporters live blogging throughout Comic Con here. Alternatively, you can get a life. Meh.

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