By Jason Delgado
On October 11-13, 2019, LA Comic Con (LACC) came back, and was literally bigger than ever! There’s a funny bit by comedian Gary Gulman on his new HBO special, The Great Depresh, about how millennials have hijacked the word “literally,” and turned it into “figuratively”. Yet when I say literally, I mean the classic definition, because it was announced on the Main Stage on Saturday that LA Comic Con had a new attendance record of 120,000 people, breaking the previous record of 100,000.
On the Friday of the con, there was plenty of space to walk the exhibit hall or check out a panel on the Main Stage, as has been the case in the previous years that I have attended. Saturday, however, was a whole different story. That extra 20,000 geeks made the hall feel crowded, not quite to San Diego Comic Con levels, but close. In my LA Comic Con preview article, I praised the layout of the Main Stage, and how easy it is to watch a panel there. This was not so true on Saturday this year, because it felt like the extra twenty thousand people were all huddled around the Main Stage for the popular panels, or walking around the surrounding exhibit hall area.
LA Comic Con had teased a surprise of some sort for the Zombieland: Double Tap panel. In my preview article, I guessed that it could be some of the star-studded cast, or a screening of the film. Well, it ended up being both! Stars Jesse Eisenberg, Rosario Dawson, Zoey Deutch, and Avan Jogia were in attendance, along with the director and screenwriters of the film. I feel like they dropped the ball, however, with how they handled the screening, because they only gave out ten passes to see it at the packed panel. I saw someone on Twitter say that they were walking around the exhibit hall and were randomly given passes. I don’t know if that’s how the rest of the theater was filled, or if they packed it with people in the movie industry, or just people off the street. I’m used to film companies at San Diego Comic Con going big and sometimes renting out multiple theaters for advance screenings so that hundreds, or even thousands, of people at the con can attend. As Doctor Evil would say, “Throw me a frickin’ bone here!” and at least pack a theater showing with people who actually had enough interest in the movie to attend the panel.
I personally had a great time interviewing the delightful Ken Jennings (Jeopardy 74 wins in a row champ) and Richard Garfield (Magic: the Gathering creator) about their new party trivia game Half Truth, designed to make you feel smarter, about which you can read here. The Main Stage panel for the game featured some fun questions that were submitted by fans on social media, and some people were chosen from the audience to compete with Jennings and Garfield to answer these questions. Spoiler alert, the super nerd duo were tough to beat!
Wrestling fans were able to watch a live ring match at the Women of Wrestling (WOW) booth, between the Beast and the Lioness. Another gigantic crowd was on hand to ooh and aah at the piledrivers and suplexes being delivered. The league itself and its corresponding TV show has a very GLOW feel to it, which makes sense because the original GLOW founder David McLane created WOW, along with Lakers owner Jeanie Buss. Buss was on hand to sign free autographs to a throng of Lakers and WOW fans, as well as the Beast, who had just completed her victory in the ring. The Beast asked if I was a wrestling fan, and joked that if I wasn’t yet, I would be after just watching her match. I told her that it was all about Macho Man Randy Savage growing up, and she said joked that we could be friends because of our mutual admiration over the late Slim Jim spokesman. If you’re a fan of the Netflix series GLOW, you should definitely check out WOW. They both feature strong, independent and funny female “superheroes,” as WOW likes to call their wrestlers.
Speaking of strong females, there was a controversial, over-eighteen Playboy panel this year. A packed room full of both men and women who enjoy the female form, in a tastefully nude way, were in attendance. The all-female panel of editor Anita Little, writer Bruna Nessif, photographer Jamie Nelson, and Playmate Megan Moore talked about how the new Playboy is about empowering women, instead of degrading them. Nessif, besides being a writer, has also posed in the magazine, said, “Why can’t women be more than one thing? I am intelligent and a stand up woman, but I am also sexual and sexy and I can show that side of me without dismissing the other.”
The Jay and Silent Bob Reboot panel with Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes started out with Smith handing over the mic to Mewes and going full Silent Bob, since their roles are usually reversed in real life. That lasted for about three minutes of Mewes ranting about loving cons and his new Funko Pop, before Smith took over and said, “Now you know why he doesn’t speak.” Smith extolled that Mewes is a surprisingly great father to his young daughter Logan, named after Wolverine, probably because they’re at the same maturity level. Mewes shocked Smith and the audience by saying that the next movie he was hyped up to see was not the Joker, but Downton Abbey with his wife. Kevin Smith was asked about the comment by Martin Scorsese that “Marvel movies are not cinema.” Smith replied that he wasn’t shocked by the quote, because Scorsese has been saying a version of that for years about action movies. He also added that Scorsese made “the biggest superhero movie of all-time, with the Last Temptation of Christ.” After the panel, Smith and Mewes went to a Quick Stop photo booth in the hall to take pictures with fans, where Smith aided a cosplaying Silent Bob in a proposal to his girlfriend. She said yes!
Another jam-packed crowd attended The Office reunion panel, in no small part because of its second wind in popularity due to Netflix. Young fans asked the cast of Creed Bratton (Creed), Leslie David Baker (Stanley), Kate Flannery (Meredith), Oscar Nunez (Oscar), Phyllis Smith (Phyllis) and Brian Baumgartner (Kevin) about behind-the-scenes stories and what their characters would be doing now. They regaled their tales with rapt attention from the audience, and wild applause in moments such as when Kate Flannery said that she did her own stunt by actually getting hit by Michael Scott’s car. “I hit the glass and fell off the car,” she said before striking a pose and proclaiming, “and that’s why I’m on Dancing With the Stars!”
The most poignant part of LACC was the Stan Lee memorial wall. The colossal-sized canvas was covered in messages with memories and tributes to Stan “the Man.” So many people had been fortunate enough to meet him or watch him speak at panels over the years at this con, and even if they hadn’t, he left fans with such a warm, friendly, and funny vibe from his many Marvel cameos. Stan Lee was part of the “greatest generation,” having grown up during the Great Depression and having served in World War 2. At parties, Lee would tell people he was a writer, and when pressed on what he wrote, he would say comic books and they would walk away. With the world domination of Marvel over recent times, Stan Lee could find satisfaction in being a comic writer and creator of so many fan favorite characters. He was always appreciative of the fans, despite all of his success. Stan Lee is missed by millions, and his legacy will live on for many generations to come. “Excelsior!”
Here are a few additional pictures from the con:
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