AutoMatters+: San Diego Comic-Con and “Pixels”


San Diego Comic-Con 2015

Why do people from all over the world travel to San Diego for Comic-Con? What prompts people to endure the massive crowds and long waits, for the better part of five days each summer?

Why does our convention center burst at its seams, spilling its throngs of excited, costume-clad people across Harbor Drive toward exhibits and activities in the Gaslamp Quarter, between Petco Park and the Children’s Museum, and outward?

The answer can really be summed up in one simple word: imagination. Comic-Con is a celebration of popular culture, and it includes the genres of fantasy, science fiction and horror. These take many forms, including comics, animation, books, video games, movies, TV shows, collectible card games, toys, adult collectibles, movie and TV show experiences, music and art.

At panels in various ballrooms, large and small, stimulating discussions are scheduled every day about all of the above, often featuring the participation of major television and movie stars. There are sneak peeks of new movies and TV episodes, and towards the end of each panel, fans may ask questions of the panelists. Seeing the sparkle and wonder in the eyes of young children as they ask questions of the panelists can be especially heartwarming, and the stars love it.

Speaking of the stars, some have even been known to venture into the exhibit halls in disguise, to mingle among like-minded people who “get it.”

There is so much to see and do, so many wondrous things going on all at once and in so many different places, that it is absolutely impossible to even come close to doing everything you might want to do.

As always, I tried to experience as much as I could, and I took thousands of pictures. I was thoroughly captivated by the Muppets during the panel for their new TV series (Tuesdays this fall on ABC); collected plenty of souvenir giveaways; enjoyed MTV’s Fandom Fest; participated — wearing my oversized “Sharknado 3” hat and shooting the whole way with a heavy pro-DSLR — in “The Walking Dead Escape” at Petco Park; played carnival games for prizes in the Adult Swim amusement park on the grass in front of the Hilton; and recharged with free food, ice cream and beverages.

The undeniable highlight of San Diego Comic-Con 2015 was beyond anyone’s wildest expectations, and it came as a total and complete surprise. At the end of the “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” panel in Hall H (you can watch that panel on YouTube, and its special look-behind-the-scenes video at, J.J. Abrams invited the thousands of stunned fans to a very special “Star Wars” concert in Embarcadero Marina Park South — a short walk from behind the convention center.

After commemorative light sabers were given to everyone, J.J. Abrams welcomed us to the concert. He was joined onstage by Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, other special guests and stars of the upcoming “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” movie.

Then John Williams, the legendary composer, introduced (via video) the magnificent “Star Wars Concert for the Fans” performed by the San Diego Symphony, with memorable scenes from “Star Wars” movies playing on huge screens. This amazing live event concluded with a breathtaking fireworks show over San Diego Bay that was way more spectacular than the one I enjoyed on the Fourth of July. I will never forget this.

One of the saddest days of my year is actually the Sunday of Comic-Con, because on that day everything winds down — but then there is next year to look forward to.

Review of “Pixels”

Imagine a scenario where intergalactic aliens from outer space learned about us via a message from NASA that included scenes from video games: Pac-Man, Space Invaders, Centipede and Gallaga. What might happen if they took this the wrong way?

Spoiler Alert: In “Pixels,” the aliens do just that, interpreting NASA’s message as a declaration of war, and dispatching to Earth a powerful invasion force consisting of characters from those very games. This light-hearted family comedy, which was introduced during Comic-Con in 2014 and stars Adam Sandler, is suitable for kids and adults alike — especially those of us who played those video games.

The 3-D glasses will immerse you in colorful game play, with sounds right out of an arcade. It’s silly but fun, and includes a gigantic Pac-Man trying to eat Minis (the cars).

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Copyright © 2015 by Jan Wagner – AutoMatters+ #395