Hullo again from Comic-Con 2001!

This zany, wacky event is quite a sight to behold. Great energy, great people, and no doubt heaven for aficionados of comics and pop culture. When we’re not busy dodging Darths Vader or Maul or ogling the buxom “Booth Babes” (you’ll have to go to the Decipher kiosk to see what we mean), we’re instead hanging with the creators of the amazing Sideshow/WETA collectables and learning how to play the as yet unreleased LOTR Trading Card Game!

Last night Quickbeam and I delivered’s special presentation to a packed house of nearly 1,000 people. Among the group were long-time Tolkien readers and fans, and a few who actually admitted that they had yet to pick up the books. The energy in the room was palpable and the fans were great! After the show, during which we announced that Sala Baker is the actor playing Sauron and showed the audience some *exclusive* TORN pics (sorry, can’t share ’em on line!), we spent about 1/2 hour with fans, answering questions and speculating on the movies.

Concluding our talk, we were very fortunate and honored to have Richard Taylor, right-hand man to Peter Jackson and President of WETA, come on stage and say some inspiring words about his work. It was a splendid grace-note to end our presentation. THANK YOU Mr. Taylor for coming on board to share with the fans! Well done. We hope to soon provide you readers with a transcript of what Mr. Taylor said.

Later in the night we were treated to an exclusive look and playtest of The Lord of the Rings TCG from Decipher. You gamers and even those of you who are not YET gamers will go nuts over this creation. The play is complex yet the pace is smooth. In about an hour I was able to grasp and do a decent job working the cards, trying my best to get Quickbeam with my evil minions of orcs, cave trolls, and Uruk-hai. He was able to take me out in short order. [Quickbeam here. Just to interject that my years of experience with Magic the Gathering and Dragon Dice games could not have prepared me for the ingenious new mechanics of Decipher’s game. Very clever, engaging, and thematically connected with Tolkien’s text. But my dear Tookish should not sell himself short. He pounced me to death in the second game! My Entish luck can only last so long.]

This Convention is buzzing! Tolkien is not the largest attraction here but you can see the Lord of the Rings films are starting to have an impact on pop culture. From posters to card games to articulated action figures to bas-relief hand made sculptures to stone-cast busts, armor, helmets, bows, arrows, and shields to war-gaming miniatures to HUGE LIFESIZE cardboard standees, and the trailer popping out at you from two different exhibitors… you can feel it comin’ folks!

* gasp for air *

The Con has also featured three Tolkien events as well as a Middle-earth art theme in their souvenir program. Add all this together and it’s like the very Professor’s gift for foreshadowing. SURF’S UP BABY!

Day Two at Comic-Con started with the Tolkien Literature Panel. We were treated to a great forum that would have made you message board, chat room, and Hall of Fire regulars proud. Headed up by several fantasy authors and a professor from the University of San Diego who teaches Tolkien studies, this event was well-attended. Of the several focal points covered, the legacy of Tolkien’s literature and its relationship to the films was of great interest to the crowd. That the “East Coast Ivory Tower literati” have traditionally refused to categorize LOTR as a “classic” caused further debate. Also generating some heat was how movies and visual media have an impact on one’s imagination and the potential for Jackson’s LOTR to cloud the mental imagery of future readers.

After the panel it was back to the Main Exhibition Hall. Quickbeam describes this as, “Loud. Colorful. Hyper-active. Sexy. Exhausting.” (Don’t know what Con he’s at! 😉 ) Ten thousand fanatical fans are running around buying collectibles, hounding for autographs, pretending to BE the characters they love so dear, and having a plain old great time. Out of the crowd last night emerged none other than Frodo Baggins himself! Elijah Wood paid an extended visit to the Sideshow/WETA booth but *alas* QB and I were hard at work upstairs representing for TORN. I guess you just don’t know who’s going to pop up around here. Today rumor had it that Elijah was coming back but we believe he was having too much fun at the San Diego Zoo with some long-lost Wellington pals.

Stay tuned for more news from Comic-Con. Tomorrow New Line itself has promised to deliver an eye-popping reel. Word has it that it’s nearly half an hour long and is composed of footage previously shown at the Cannes Film Festival as well as a few minutes of specially-prepared-for-Comic-Con footage. We can’t wait!!

P.S. Today’s highlight for me, Quickbeam, and was not loud or hyper, but soft, heart-felt, and genuine. Richard Taylor expressed in the most sincere tones his respect and gratitude for the work done here at TORN. Then he opened his backpack revealing a WETA Eye of Sauron cloissone pin for little ole’ me. QB was also given a pin and — to put it mildly — we are STOKED!!

Can tomorrow be better? I don’t think so. Not even with the sneak peak. But stay tuned for more news from Comic-Con!


Tookish & Quickbeam