2007: a Comic-Con Odyssey

Or, How I learned to stop worrying and love sleep deprivation, huge crowds and wonderful toys

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It's Thursday, and waiting in line for half an hour was not sufficient to get me into the Paramount panel in cavernous Hall H. There are too many people here. Used to be they didn't use all the convention center space, and every year, as more people would show up, the areas in use would expand. Now it has expanded to capacity—and more people keep coming. Rumors fly that it's going to have to move to Las Vegas, or LA, or even Anaheim.

I'm disappointed not to hear the exclusive news on the next Indiana Jones movie and the new Star Trek prequel/reboot. But it turns out to be no big deal after all. Karen Allen is confirmed as returning for Indy 4, and the guy who plays Sylar on Heroes, Zachary Quinto, is young Spock. Leonard Nimoy shows up to call that particular casting choice "logical." He will also be in the film, though so far, William Shatner is not expected to join him and has been expressing his disappointment via weekly MySpace videos. No plot details or titles are confirmed for either film.

Not wanting to make the same timing mistake twice, I get in line for the Lionsgate panel a full hour in advance, at which point the line has already stretched all the way around the back of the building. But entry is gained.

People think this convention is a huge nerd-fest. Certainly, smug Fox News entertainment reporter Bill McCuddy—who's emceeing the Lionsgate panel for some unknown reason—has that in mind when he makes some unfunny jokes about virginity and mothers' basements. But it isn't entirely, and here's proof: After waiting in line for an hour, large chunks of this crowd leave the room the moment Jessica Alba's done talking about Good Luck Chuck. Clive Barker and Tobin Bell have yet to speak about their upcoming horror movies. Sorry, but true nerds aren't going to miss out on such things. (Just in case you did: Bell's Jigsaw character really is dead in Saw IV, and there won't be any cheating on that score, just "the best ending so far"; Barker, promoting the upcoming horror flick Midnight Meat Train, was hoarse and incoherent, prompting Vinnie Jones to mock him merely by screaming incoherently into his microphone.)

Later, at a panel featuring special-effects pioneer Ray Harryhausen, the room will be only a third full, at least until more people start wandering in at about the halfway mark.

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The best quotes of Comic-Con:

"It's going to be very different from anything people have ever seen." (Jessica Alba, discussing her upcoming horror film The Eye, which is in fact a remake of a Thai film many people have already seen.)

"Hours of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror." (Peter Fonda, describing his acting process during 3:10 to Yuma.)

"Let's have lunch!" (Leslie Bibb's reaction to seeing Clive Barker's paintings of giant penises.)

"It's an adult movie, if you call me an adult, which is a mistake." (Director Zack Snyder, 300, on the forthcoming Watchmen film starring Billy Crudup and Jackie Earle Haley.)

"[Director] Peter Segal never wore pants on the set, or any underwear. And I found that funny." (Steve Carell, when asked about funny incidents on the set of Get Smart.)

"I got to wear clothes." (Borat's Ken Davitian, describing his Get Smartcharacter.)

"I slept with the director way fewer times. . . . I was allowed to use my own teeth." (Kate Beckinsale, comparing her upcoming movie Whiteout to Underworld.)

"Gwyneth was my personal assistant for two months. That was after we wrapped principal photography. Sometimes you do prep after." (Robert Downey Jr., on preparing for his role in Iron Man.)

"When I told them I was coming with Robert Downey Jr., you should have seen the booth they gave us!" (Stan Lee, on finally getting a good table at his favorite restaurant.)

"Stan, they were just happy I wasn't in the bathroom the whole meal." (Downey, in response.)

"He likes to kill big animals." (Ashley Scott, describing her former Jericho costar Gerald McRaney.)

"It's kind of an honor, and it's kind of hilarious." (Edward Norton on becoming the next Incredible Hulk—and writing the script as well.)

"I'm gonna kidnap him. I'm gonna kidnap the president of the United States." (Nicolas Cage's big line in the newly unveiled trailer for National Treasure 2.)

"Will there be a giant CG dragon in Balls of Fury? Because it was left out of Reno 911." (Fan question to Thomas Lennon and Ben Garant.)

"Is it really hard for you to watch Armageddon without getting sad that Bruce Willis doesn't make it back?" (Fan question for Liv Tyler.)

"When you go to see a picture like King Kong, you don't really care about Ann Darrow's past." (Ray Harryhausen, critiquing Peter Jackson's Kong.)

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It's 1:30 a.m. late Friday night/early Saturday morning, and I'm lying on a sheet of cardboard in the back of a minivan headed God-knows-where amid sliding packages of toys, many of them mine that I've hauled around all day in addition to the laptop slowly gnawing its way down into my shoulder. When offered a ride home, it never occurred to me to ask if there might actually be seats inside the vehicle of transit.

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