Welcome to Comic-Con

The scene at last year’s Comic-Con.

It’s finally here! On Thursday, the 43rd annual Comic-Con kicked off Thursday in San Diego. Once held in a basement of a downtown hotel, Comic-Con expanded over the decades and now takes place at the city’s convention center.

Certainly, Comic-Con is a far better and more enjoyable experience to cover than some overrated, overblown, overhyped, and over-covered event that took place at Chicago’s McCormick Place back in May.

Of course, the guys who created Comic-Con probably never envisioned seeing it is a pop culture phenomenon, with loads of television shows and movies being featured at the four-day event. This was the place to be to see the casts of Lost and Heroes, and to get the latest scoops and see trailers for their upcoming seasons.

Somehow, the festivities started including programming outside of the sci-fi/fantasy genre, when Glee and its ilk started showing up. And Comic-Con is now featured on E! and Access: Hollywood alongside the likes of Tom Cruise (ugh.) I suppose coming up next, you’ll see Comic-Con panels on Kimora: Life In The Fab Lane and America’s Next Top Model (at least we hope not.)

But this is still a fun event to follow, whether if you are a geek (like yours truly) or not. And thanks to Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, you don’t even have to be there to experience the fun (not to mention putting up with those crowds.)

Here are some of the tidbits from day one from the Con:

– Video games have always had a spotty history when it comes to modeling them after TV shows and movies. For every Spongebob video game, there is a E.T. And like E.T., if the game fails, your company takes a huge writedown and bury the remaining unsold copies somewhere in the desert.  Well, if this new game from Ubisoft does bomb, at least they won’t have to worry about renting any bulldozers.

Titled Spartacus: Legends, the new fighting game is available for download on Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 (PS3) systems beginning in early 2013, in tandem with the premiere of Spartacus: War Of The Damned, the final season of the series. Fans are getting a chance to play the game at the convention, thanks to Starz and Ubisoft.

– Legendary comic book guru Stan Lee is teaming up with Mark Hamill, former America’s Next Top Model winner (and Joliet native) Adrienne Curry, and writer Peter David to launch a new YouTube channel titled Stan Lee’s World Of Heroes, according to The Wrap. The channel plans to feature fan-produced product along with narrative programming.  A podcast dedicated to the channel is also being launched.

Stan Lee’s World Of Heroes YouTube channel is up and running; to see it, click here.

At the panel announcing this project, Stan Lee wondered if he could get a tax exemption for doing all of this: “What are we giving you is such a wonderful gift, such a wonderful thing. I don’t think we have to pay taxes. Could you speak to somebody about that?”

Piece of advice to Stan Lee – if you do talk to somebody about this, make sure the person doesn’t work for the State of Illinois.

MTV announced at the Teen Wolf panel that the drama series has been picked up for a third season with an order of 24 episodes. The series is also shifting production from Georgia to California for next season – the second series to do so in the last two years (usually, this is in reverse, as runaway production has a problem plaguing California for years.) Last year, CBS Television Distribution moved second-season production of its Swift Justice courtroom strip from Atlanta to Los Angeles, prompting Nancy Grace to quit the show (Swift Justice was not renewed for a third season.)

And who created Teen Wolf? Jeff Davis, – yes that same Jeff Davis who created Criminal Minds (and no, he’s not the same guy who was a former WLS-AM jock.)

– FX’s animated Archer was among the first television series to hold panels on the first day of the Con, and featured stars H. Jon Benjamin (who voices Archer and Bob from Bob’s Burgers) and Aisha Tyler, along with creators Matt Reed and Adam Thompson. You know you would feel right at home when Tyler said she would “bring a knife” and Benjamin said he happened to be Jewish. The panel discussed the upcoming season of the spy comedy (in a rather oddly way) and if you  want to find out more, click here (WARNING: There are spoilers! Click at your own risk.)

– Finally, there was something movie franchise present at Comic-Con called Twilight. No, not Twilight Zone (which would have been a whole lot better), but this movie franchise about a bunch of teenage vampires, played by pasty-white twentysomethings. You care about this? I didn’t think so.