Comic-Con 2019: Mad magazine is not dead yet, say artists Sergio Aragonés and Tom Richmond

The news hit comedy fans like an stick of dynamite in one of Mad magazine’s Spy vs. Spy cartoons: After 67 years, the legendary humor magazine was to be no more?

That was the instant headline when news exploded on July 4 that the cartoon-and-comedy magazine would cease publishing new material after its next two issues.

  • Illustrator, Tom Richmond, draws a portrait at his booth during Comic-Con International at the San Diego Convention Center on Sunday, July 21, 2019. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

  • Illustrator, Tom Richmond, poses for a photograph at his booth during Comic-Con International at the San Diego Convention Center on Sunday, July 21, 2019. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

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  • Cartoonist, Sergio Aragonés, signs autographs at his booth during Comic-Con International at the San Diego Convention Center on Sunday, July 21, 2019. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

  • Cartoonist, Sergio Aragonés, smiles while signing autographs at his booth during Comic-Con International at the San Diego Convention Center on Sunday, July 21, 2019. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

  • An illustration of Samuel Jackson by Tom Richmond on display at his booth during Comic-Con International at the San Diego Convention Center on Sunday, July 21, 2019. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

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Layoffs at the publication owned by DC Comics were deep and may or may not have been accompanied by Don Martin-esque sound effects like “Tzing!” “Twong!” and “Floploploplop!” Heartfelt tributes came from far and wide.

But hang on, said a pair of Mad artists with booths at Comic-Con on Sunday morning. Things are changing, but maybe not to the drastic degree everyone expects.

“It’s not really closing, it’s changing,” said Sergio Aragonés, who has worked for Mad since 1962 when the Spanish-born cartoonist arrived in New York City. “Nowadays, somebody will they got fired, puts it on the telephone, and other people can say whatever they want.

“Mad is not dying at all,” he said while sketching himself sketching the magazine’s mascot Alfred E. Neuman for a fan. “It’s a pretty valuable property to let it go. There will be changes. Everybody has to change, and Mad is changing.”

Aragonés and artist Tom Richmond, who has worked for Mad since 2000, say a lot of what’s to come is still undecided.

There may be direct sales of publications to readers, Aragonés said, though he’s not a fan of that idea — Mad should be as easy to get as to pick it up at the supermarket or drugstore, he believes.

Richmond, who has movie parodies — long a Mad staple — of both “The Lion King” and “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood” in the issue that reaches newstands in August, said there is talk of doing Year In Review annuals and other specials going forward.

Even DC Comics co-publisher Dan DiDio suggested during a Comic-Con panel on Saturday that we’ve likely not seen the last of Alfred E. Neuman’s gap-toothed smile, saying that there still will be new material, though the format it will take is still to be determined.

Richmond’s first issue with the magazine was its last to be published entirely in black-and-white, Richmond said. That’s the way he and so many others grew up reading it.

“When I was a kid, I just enjoyed Mad like everybody else did, for the humor and the voice,” said Richmond, who lives near Minneapolis, Minnesota. “As a kid, a lot of it’s over your head. I was introduced to ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’ there when I was kid. I was 11, I had no idea what it was about.”

As he grew older, and started making his own art, he realized that Mad illustrators like Mort Drucker and Jack Davis were “the best of the best.”

And the humor of its writers shaped multiple generations of comedians and culture, Richmond said.

“I don’t think you can overstate the impact that Mad had on popular culture and humor,” he said. “And how many of today’s comedians have been directly influenced by it. It’s in their DNA.”

A lot of that DNA was likely planted there by Aragonés, who has contributed a huge number of cover ideas and whose “marginals” — small cartoons in the margins of the pages — have appeared in every episode of the magazine for more than half a century.

“It made me,” Aragonés says of landing at Mad as a 25-year-old cartoonist in 1962. “Within a month I was following the Gang of Idiots” — the nickname given the magazine’s legendary artists and writers — “I’ll be thankful for ever.”

So while Mad may be getting older: “Mad is like a crazy old uncle who is getting senile,” Aragonés jokes. “And it was very good to me.”

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Comic-Con 2019: George Takei draws from personal experiences in Japanese internment camps for ‘The Terror: Infamy’

AMC’s series “The Terror” infuses the supernatural with real life history.

The first season followed the crews aboard the British Royal Navy polar exploration ships and their lost expedition to the Arctic in 1845. The new season, however, is dubbed “The Terror: Infamy” and features an all-new cast, writers and creators and focuses on the United States during World War II.

This time around it follows the story of Japanese-Americans being forced into internment camps. The season premieres on Monday, Aug. 12 at 9 p.m. on AMC.


The crew from AMC’s “The Terror: Infamy” (from left: actors Derek Mio, Cristina Rodlo, Kiki Sukezane, George Takei and co-creators and executive producers Alexander Woo and Max Borestein) talked about the upcoming season of the show during a press panel at Comic-Con International on Friday. (Photo by Kelli Skye Fadroski, Orange County Register/SCNG)

“If you loved season one, none of it will be the same in season two,” co-creator and executive producer Alexander Woo said during a press conference at Comic-Con International on Friday, July 19. “Everyone here is new … but it does share some of the same DNA as the first season.”

In telling the real life horror stories that faced Japanese-Americans in the internment camps, “The Terror: Infamy” will also include elements of Japanese folklore and horror. Though the co-creators insist it’s much more in the supernatural style of films like “The Ring” versus the more gore-filled and body-dismantling section of the genre led by films like “Audition.”

The Comic-Con conference at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront next door to the San Diego Convention Center included actors George Takei, Derek Mio, Kiki Sukezane and Cristina Rodlo. For Takei, the series hits very close to home since he and his family were imprisoned in a Japanese internment camp when he was a child.

“That’s the very reason why it’s important to tell the story,” he said when asked how he felt about reliving these moments and sharing that period of history with the audience. “This is part of American history. It happened in the United States to American citizens of Japanese ancestry ordered by the United States President, Franklin D. Roosevelt.

“I hate the term the media always uses, ‘Japanese internment camp.’ Japanese internment camps would be run by the government of Japan, it was not. Many Japanese-Americans prefer the term concentration camp, because that’s precisely what it was.

It’s an important story that has chilling resonance for us today and yet so many Americans … they don’t believe that something like that happened to me,” he continued. “That’s why it’s important for Americans to know their own American history.”

Mio has connections to the history written into the show as well.

“There’s a scene where some family members get taken away and my grandfather, his father got taken away, so when we shot that, it was very powerful,” he said. “Probably the most emotional experience I’ve ever had acting.”

The co-creators also recognize the timeliness of re-sharing this bit of history as one of the current hot political topics is those being held at the Migration Detention Centers at the U.S. boarder to Mexico.

“(In television) risks are being taken,” co-creator Max Borenstein said. “One of the strengths of the television medium is that you can really build a relationship between the viewer and the characters and build a really strong empathy. That’s what were trying to do. We can use the (horror) genre in order to really bring out that experience (in the internment camps). So you’re not at home saying ‘Oh, that happened 75 years ago’.

“You know, thank goodness immigrants have nothing to worry about today,” he said sarcastically.

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Comic-Con 2019: The coolest stuff we saw and did on day 1

San Diego Comic-Con 2019 is fully underway and there’s already been plenty to see, do and report.

As you can see from all the Preview Night photos, people showed up to try out the experiences and have fun, to find one-of-a-kind merch and sell $1.1 million comic books. And on night 1? Well, we went to a “Supernatural” wake for those Winchester brothers, and can tell you just what happened.

  • Fans head down the escalators to enter into the exhibit floor for Preview Night before the official start of Comic-Con International at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego on Wednesday, July 17, 2019. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Castiel figurines by Funko Pop! on display during a Supernatural fan party at the Garage Kitchen and Bar in San Diego on Thursday, July 18, 2019. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

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  • Sisters Carmen, left, and Patrice Amon, of National City, cosplay as Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy, from “Spongebob Squarepants,” during Comic-Con International in San Diego on Thursday, July 18, 2019. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Tochi Onyebuchi smiles while signing copies of his science fiction novel, “Riot Baby” during Comic-Con International at the San Diego Convention Center on Thursday, July 18, 2019. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

  • Angel Castillo, of Temecula, cosplays as his own mariachi version of Reaper from “Overwatch” during Comic-Con International at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego on Thursday, July 18, 2019. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • From left, nine-year-old Jaiden Espinoza of Riverside poses for a photograph with SpongeBob SquarePants during Comic-Con International’s Preview Night at the San Diego Convention Center on Wednesday, July 17, 2019. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

  • Kat Contreras, of Rancho Cucamonga, left, and Jah’lon Escudero, of San Diego, cosplay as Super Broly and Goku, of “Dragon Ball Z,” as hundreds of fans attempt to set a Guinness World Record by performing the “Dragon Ball Z” Kamehameha super energy attack move at the Marriot Marquis San Diego during Comic-Con International in San Diego on Wednesday, July 17, 2019. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Jim Velasco plays Iron Man VR with Playstation VR during Comic-Con International’s Preview Night at the San Diego Convention Center on Wednesday, July 17, 2019. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

  • Matthew Morningstar, of Tucson, AZ, cosplays as the Joker as fans attend Preview Night before the official start of Comic-Con International at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego on Wednesday, July 17, 2019. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

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Oh, and do you love to see cosplay photos — and read about cosplay weapons checks? Because we have our definitive guide to Day 1’s best and worst cosplay outfits and our close-up look at the Her Universe Fashion Show will provide more fantastic and creative cosplay-inspired fashions to see — like the winning outfit and its designer.

There were serious moments as well, as when we witnessed a man rush the crowd and get taken down by law enforcement and anime fans discuss the arson attack in Japan.

The big movies and the big stars were there — Tom Cruise and Arnold Schwarzenegger for “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Terminator: Dark Fate” — and people were freaking out about the trailers for those films and those for “It” and, er, “Cats.” And we not only talked movies, but we talked with some of the most interesting writers at the con.

There were sports — OK, e-sports — and you can’t have sports without an amazing Guinness World Record.

It didn’t take a genius to see how much fun it was, but there were geniuses on hand to talk anyway.

Want more coverage? 50 facts about the convention or the 12-year-old kid who helped start the event 50 years ago? We got all that and more. Clink the links below or above for a whole lot of Comic-Con.

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‘Supernatural’ fans hold a Comic-Con wake for the Winchester brothers as beloved series nears the end

Pamela Green has taken her guardian angel – in the form of a Funko Pop figurine of Castiel from the dark fantasy TV series “Supernatural” – around the world inside her purse.

Together, they’ve been to Iceland and Australia and Dubai, so many places that he was getting a little worn – it’s rough even for a TV angel inside a purse – so Green bought an identical one to back him up.

On Wednesday at San Diego Comic-Con, Green sat at a bar, her twin Castiels on the counter in front of her, steeling herself for the end.

“Supernatural,” which debuted in 2005, kicks off its 15th season in October, and after that, that’s it. The demon-and-monster-hunting brothers Sam and Dean Winchester, wayward sons, will ride off into the sunset, dust in the wind.

  • From left, Taylor Keepper hands Madelaine Scodro a cherry before serving her the signature cocktail Here Comes the Sons during a Supernatural fan party at the Garage Kitchen and Bar in San Diego on Thursday, July 18, 2019. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

  • Castiel figurines by Funko Pop! on display during a Supernatural fan party at the Garage Kitchen and Bar in San Diego on Thursday, July 18, 2019. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

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  • From left, co-writers of the “Scoobynatural” episode of the television series, Supernatural, Jeremy Adams and Jim Krieg pose for a photograph during a Supernatural fan party at the Garage Kitchen and Bar in San Diego on Thursday, July 18, 2019. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

  • Pamela Green of Seattle Washington shows off her Castiel figurines by Funko Pop! during a Supernatural fan party at the Garage Kitchen and Bar in San Diego on Thursday, July 18, 2019. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

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Wayward Cocktails is the name of the annual party held by “Supernatural” fans during Comic-Con, and while this gathering at the Garage restaurant and bar in the Gaslamp Quarter might not be their last party, it felt different knowing that the end was near.

Because “Supernatural” fans aren’t like most other fandoms: They are engaged, they care deeply about the characters and stories and there’s not a lot they won’t do for it.

Just ask Green’s friend Amy Sjoberg, who participated with a team of 15 fellow fans in the scavenger hunt organized by Misha Collins, the actor who plays Castiel on the show.

“He asks you to do crazy things, like get serenaded at the dentist by a string quartet,” Sjoberg said.

And now you’ve gotten to know someone who got serenaded at the dentist by a string quartet because a TV star challenged her.

A year ago at Wayward Cocktails, fans serenaded a life-sized cardboard figure of Jared Padalecki, who plays Sam Winchester, by singing “Happy Birthday,” because the day of the party happened to be his birthday. Was there birthday cake served, too? Do you even need to ask?

This year there were no dreamy cardboard idols in attendance, but we did run into Jeremy Adams and Jim Krieg, the screenwriters who almost by accident created a crossover episode titled “Scoobynatural” in which “Supernatural” live-action footage was blended with “Scooby-Doo” animation, because, of course, the Winchesters and Shaggy, Freddy, Velma, Daphne and Scooby needed to team up to solve a mystery.

We invited the two men to walk down a back hallway at the Garage, the restaurant-bar where the party was held, to find a quieter spot and immediately Adams smelled a rat, or perhaps a demon. “This is how people on the show get killed!” he joked.

Adams and Krieg worked on Scooby-Doo among other projects at Warner Bros. Animation, and at one point came up with the idea of doing a Scooby episode that animated the “Supernatural” gang into the story. Their bosses were like, Don’t be crazy, boys, but when Adams mentioned the idea to a friend at “Supernatural,” well, they were all in.

“It was a series of preposterous events,” Adams said.

“We kept expecting it not to happen,” Krieg added. “Both shows have a series of tropes. We made lists of them and mixed and matched them.”

Adams has since joined the writing staff of “Supernatural,” while Krieg is a senior producer at Warner Bros. Animation.

“There are so many shows out there, it’s not often you have this much fan support,” Adams said of the way in which “Supernatural” fans have backed the show over the years.

A fan approached at one point with an autograph book — “Scoobynatural” is a favorite episode of many — and got both men to sign.

“Ruh-roh,” Krieg wrote in Scooby’s voice above his signature.

“Zoinks!” Adams added to his scrawled name a la Shaggy.

Heidi Tandy stood at the door signing in guests. The lawyer from Miami was the event organizer for the party this year, though she had to bail on her on fete to be a panelist on Harry Potter fandom, her first love.

“It’s been 15 years of intensity,” she said of her love of “Supernatural.” “I admit I didn’t start watching until season 2 but I was hooked instantly.”

She hadn’t watched that first season because she thought it was a horror show, and that wasn’t her cup of TV tea. Once she tried an episode, though, well, it wasn’t so much scary as it was a story about family, she said.

“It wasn’t just, ‘Oh, we’re going to go cut heads off,’ it’s the relationships between the characters,” Tandy said.

Relationships also blossomed among fans, mostly through SuperWiki, the “Supernatural” wiki group where fans like Tandy found like-minded friends and friendships.

“I have so many friends who come to this party because they know this is where they can see me,” she said, and indeed, right about then in walked Britta Lundin, a Los Angeles YA author and writer on the “Riverdale” TV series, and the friends who might not have seen each other since Wandering Cocktails a year earlier, shouted happy greetings and hugged.

As for the end, well, maybe it’s not really the end at all, Tandy said. Yes, new episodes will end, but much else lives on.

“I think that we’re still going to have the fan creativity,” she said. “Whether that’s fan art or fan films or just talking with each other about the show.

“I think that the fans are still going to be as celebratory as ever,” Tandy said.

Just in case, though, she’d included in the party swag bags small packets of tissues to help them face the end.

A little something to catch a wayward tear or two.

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Comic-Con 2019: ‘Jurassic Park,’ Marvel designs wow at Her Universe Fashion Show

Dinosaurs and trickster gods may not immediately evoke thoughts of glamour and couture fashion but on Thursday night gowns inspired by “Jurassic Park” and the Marvel villain Loki took top prizes at the Sixth annual Her Universe Fashion Show at Comic-Con International.

Adria Renee of San Diego took home the Judges Winner award for her prehistoric dress and Reno, Nevada resident Sarah Hambly’s Cardi B and Loki mash-up design received the Audience Winner award.

“When you see designs for ‘Jurassic Park’ they’re usually rugged, so I really wanted to translate it into something beautiful,” said Renee of her winning look, a silky and delicate slip dress adorned with meticulously cut-out tropical flowers and dinos.

During a prerecorded interview that aired during the show, Hambly said she believed Loki would be a Cardi B fan and created a form-fitting bodysuit in deep, jeweled green tones and gold accents and a flowing cape.

Hambly and Renee were among 24 designers in this year’s “The Power of Fashion” competition. A theme inspired by presenting sponsor DreamWorks’ “She-Ra and the Princesses of Power.”

“I grew up with She-Ra and I was inspired by the Princess of Power,” said Her Universe founder Ashley Eckstein. “We design an outfit like an armor you’re putting on for the day to fight the daily battle of life and to remind you, you are powerful.”

Eckstein revealed Thursday night that she would be voicing a character on the next season of Netflix’s “She-Ra,” however she couldn’t share details about the character.

Some of the fashion designers were inspired also by She-Ra, creating looks based on the characters.

“I was wiping away tears a little bit,” said “She-Ra and the Princesses of Power” creator Noelle Stevenson who was in the crowd during the fashion show. She said she was overwhelmed to see so many people inspired by the characters.

Others, however, took their lead from other nerdy sources including anime “My Hero Academia,” Disney’s “Cinderella,” “It’s” Pennywise and even the miserly Uncle Scrooge McDuck of “Duck Tales.”

Renee and Hambly will begin working on a Wonder Woman-inspired clothing line for Her Universe to be sold at Hot Topic. Eckstein also announced that Her Universe and Hot Topic would be working on a clothing line to honor the 50th anniversary of Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion ride.

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SDCC 2019: ‘Dragon Ball Z’ fans break Guinness world record with massive Kamehameha attack

“Kamehameha!”

The word was heard over and over again on Wednesday, July 17, as hundreds of “Dragon Ball Z” fan gathered to attempt to set a world record at the Marriott Marquis San Diego.

  • Sean Schemmel, the voice of Goku on “Dragon Ball Z,” performs the “Dragon Ball Z” Kamehameha super energy attack move with hundreds of fans as they attempt to set a Guinness World Record by performing the move at the Marriot Marquis San Diego during Comic-Con International in San Diego on Wednesday, July 17, 2019. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Hundreds of fans attempt to set a Guinness World Record by performing the “Dragon Ball Z” Kamehameha super energy attack move at the Marriot Marquis San Diego during Comic-Con International in San Diego on Wednesday, July 17, 2019. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

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  • Kat Contreras, of Rancho Cucamonga, left, and Jah’lon Escudero, of San Diego, cosplay as Super Broly and Goku, of “Dragon Ball Z,” as hundreds of fans attempt to set a Guinness World Record by performing the “Dragon Ball Z” Kamehameha super energy attack move at the Marriot Marquis San Diego during Comic-Con International in San Diego on Wednesday, July 17, 2019. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Sean Schemmel, the voice of Goku on “Dragon Ball Z,” walks up as hundreds of fans wait to attempt to set a Guinness World Record by performing the “Dragon Ball Z” Kamehameha super energy attack move at the Marriot Marquis San Diego during Comic-Con International in San Diego on Wednesday, July 17, 2019. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Ashley Robbins, of San Diego, cosplays as Vegeta, of “Dragon Ball Z,” as hundreds of fans attempt to set a Guinness World Record by performing the “Dragon Ball Z” Kamehameha super energy attack move at the Marriot Marquis San Diego during Comic-Con International in San Diego on Wednesday, July 17, 2019. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

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The group of fans gathered ahead of Comic-Con International‘s Preview Night along with Guinness World Record officials to see if they could set the first record for the most people simultaneously performing the Kamehameha super energy attack move.

Those who were waiting in line joked about and demonstrated their “Dragon Ball Z” moves while discussing key plot points of the animated series and their favorite characters.

To set the record, at least 250 people needed to be present, but organizers were hopeful that they’d get up to a thousand by offering freebies to those who lined up Wednesday afternoon. Those participating had to also drag out the pronunciation of “Kamehameha” like the characters on the show holding the final “ha” for at least three seconds.

🏆GUINNESS WORLD RECORD ACHIEVED!! 🏆

Most people doing a KAMEHAMEHA at once! @GWR @BandaiNamcoUS pic.twitter.com/AVYsXRl1NF

— Dragon Ball Super (@dragonballsuper) July 18, 2019

 

Before the attempt, a Guinness official laid out the rules to the crowd, adding in jokes to help loosen everyone up, though he needed a Japanese translator to help him square everything away in the end.

The English voice actor of Goku, Sean Schemmel, also helped coach the crowd, giving pointers on how to yell “Kamehameha” without damaging their voices and telling them exactly how to space it out.

Schemmel led fans in a few dry runs before the did two record attempts to make sure everything was as perfect as it could be.

Fans screamed and giggled in delights as they set a new Guinness World Record and then posed for giant group photos with hundreds of their new best friends. The exact number of participants wasn’t immediately available.

The event marked the opening of the Dragon Ball Z World Adventure installation, which kicks off with its first stop at Comic-Con and then will travel to seven more cities across the world.

The installation includes exclusive collectibles, video games and photo booths and will be open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Sunday, July 21.

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SDCC 2019: Preview Night kicks off Comic-Con, check out the photos

The night before Comic-Con International officially begins in San Diego each year, Preview Night kicks off the party at the San Diego Convention Center.

Preview Night is always a big hit for collectors who come out in the droves to purchase exclusive comics, figurines, clothing, toys, memorabilia and more.

Major movie and television studios, video game companies, toy makers and pretty much any type vendor you can think of also have booths along the exhibit hall floor.

This year’s Preview Night on Wednesday, July 17, gave con-goers a taste of what’s to come as the convention opens to badge holders on Thursday and runs through Sunday.

  • Matthew Morningstar, of Tucson, AZ, cosplays as the Joker as fans attend Preview Night before the official start of Comic-Con International at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego on Wednesday, July 17, 2019. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Patrick Mendoza, of Diamond Bar left, and E.J. Cuevas, of La Palma, play Yu-Gi-Oh Speed Dual as fans attend Preview Night before the official start of Comic-Con International at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego on Wednesday, July 17, 2019. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

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  • Allie Narikawa, 7, of Irvine, colors on the Steven Universe Coloring Book wall panel at the Dark Horse Comics Booth as fans attend Preview Night before the official start of Comic-Con International at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego on Wednesday, July 17, 2019. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Fans walk by the Marvel booth as they attend Preview Night before the official start of Comic-Con International at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego on Wednesday, July 17, 2019. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Giovanna Parise, of Sao Paulo, Brazil, photographs predator figurines at the Sideshow booth as fans attend Preview Night before the official start of Comic-Con International at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego on Wednesday, July 17, 2019. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Kiersey Antonio, 4, of Boston, MA, touches a Lego Iron Man as her mother Katrina Hester tells her to be careful, as fans attend Preview Night before the official start of Comic-Con International at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego on Wednesday, July 17, 2019. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Skeletor takes the escalator down as fans enter into the exhibit floor for Preview Night before the official start of Comic-Con International at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego on Wednesday, July 17, 2019. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Christopher Canole, of San Diego, cosplays as a steampunk Darth Vader as fans attend Preview Night before the official start of Comic-Con International at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego on Wednesday, July 17, 2019. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Cara Hainsworth, of Las Vegas, cosplays as Princess Leia during Preview Night before the official start of Comic-Con International at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego on Wednesday, July 17, 2019. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Fans look at a “Game of Thrones” prototype by Mega Construx at the Mattel Booth during Preview Night before the official start of Comic-Con International at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego on Wednesday, July 17, 2019. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Fans head down the escalators to enter into the exhibit floor for Preview Night before the official start of Comic-Con International at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego on Wednesday, July 17, 2019. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Bernadette Bentley, of Los Angeles, cosplays as Wonder Woman as fans attend Preview Night before the official start of Comic-Con International at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego on Wednesday, July 17, 2019. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Kevin Costa, of San Jose, looks at artwork by Alex Ross as fans attend Preview Night before the official start of Comic-Con International at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego on Wednesday, July 17, 2019. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Fans head down the escalators to enter into the exhibit floor for Preview Night before the official start of Comic-Con International at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego on Wednesday, July 17, 2019. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

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These are the youngest comic book creators at Comic-Con 2018

Educators face challenges as they try to stoke a passion for reading and writing in young people.

“There are games and electronics,” said Stephanie Jones, a teacher at Loma Verde Elementary School in the Chula Vista Elementary School District. “It’s always hard to find a way to outreach to these students, to make them more interested and passionate about learning to read and write.”


Izzy Fergus, 11, left, Stephanie Jones, Danita Mia Valle, 12, Aaron Felix, 14, and Alex Macias, 14, all of Chula Vista at their B.L.A.S.T. Graphic Novel Project booth during the last day of the San Diego Comic-Con in San Diego on Sunday, July 22, 2018. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

Then one year while attending Comic-Con International, Jones and her friend, Deidre Romero, also a teacher at Loma Verde Elementary School, had an idea. With the popularity of comic book heroes and graphic novels, why not teach children how to create their own books? That’s when B.L.A.S.T — Blazing Literacy Artists Super Team — Graphic Novel Project was born.

For the last seven years, the friends have created a program that is currently in about four schools.

“I think it’s a really good idea to get little kids involved in reading and writing and drawing – that way they can appreciate writing,” said 11-year-old Izzy Fergus, who created a story about a family of aliens who left their home planet after the population learned of their president’s evil plan to take over their entire world. The intergalactic clan crashes on the front lawn of an Earth family’s home and now both have to learn how to get along and live together.

Izzy was among six students, ranging in age from 10 to 14, to attend SDCC this year.

“We’re the only exhibitors in the history of Comic-Con to have elementary-age comic creators,” Romero proudly proclaimed.

“I was a little nervous coming,” said Edgar Zamora, 11. “You wonder if people will like what you did, but then your friends tell you to keep going.”

By Sunday, all of the comics, including Edgar’s story about a battle between two worlds, were completely gone.

Word of the B.L.A.S.T program began to spread across the convention floor and a handful of professional artists made their way to the student’s table at the back of the enormous space to speak to the young creators.

“Yesterday, the Marvel artist, Joshua Cassara, came by and talked to the kids,” Romero said. Cassara was an artist on Marvel’s “Falcon” book.


Graphic novels made by youth members of the B.L.A.S.T. Graphic Novel Project as seen during the last day of the San Diego Comic-Con in San Diego on Sunday, July 22, 2018. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

“They come here and they give them advice and tell them not to give up,” Romero said.

Two boys, Alex Macias and Aaron Felix, both 14, have been with the program for five years and helped guide the first-timers, like Danira Valle, 12, and Angel Guzman, 10, about what to expect at the convention.

“It’s been fun and it’s so big,” said Angel as he sat at the table handing out cards and fliers about the program which have information on how to donate to the program.

The small program is gaining traction within the Chula Vista district, but both Jones and Romero would like to grow it across San Diego County and beyond.

The program is not funded through the district, so Romero and Jones and two other teachers have worked hard to raise the money throughout the year to purchase supplies, print the comics and purchase the $600 table at SDCC. Like most teachers, when they fall short, they sometimes reach into their own pockets.

That spark has definitely ignited something in Aaron.

“It’s something that I really love and it’s a passion of mine,” said the 14-year-old, who says he now aspires to be a professional comic book creator.

“We feel this is an experience that should be open to all children,” Romero said. “They should all have that opportunity and know that they can do more.”

For donation information, contact Jones at iamst.jones@aol.com.

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These photos of Comic-Con 2018’s Masquerade are what cosplay dreams are made of

Cosplay is undoubtedly one of the drawing features of events like Comic-Con International.

When it comes to the San Diego event though, cosplayers definitely step up their game as they strut their stuff in the annual Masquerade Costume Competition.

  • Winner of Best In Show, “Sarah and Jareth the Goblin King,” by Ambrose Cosplay, at the 2018 Masquerade at the San Diego Comic-Con in San Diego on Saturday, July 21, 2018. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Winner of the Best Workmanship award, “Sylvanas Windrunner,” by Heather Waters at the 2018 Masquerade at the San Diego Comic-Con in San Diego on Saturday, July 21, 2018. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

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  • Most Creative Use of Materials winner, “HowlÕs Moving Castle,” by Nina London at the 2018 Masquerade at the San Diego Comic-Con in San Diego on Saturday, July 21, 2018. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Winner of the Most Humorous award, “Princess Vanellope Von SchweetzÉand Ralph,” by Bri Sloth and PrueDuctions Cosplay, at the 2018 Masquerade at the San Diego Comic-Con in San Diego on Saturday, July 21, 2018. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • JudgesÕ Choice winner, “Big Daddy Delta & Big Sister Eleanor,” by Angus & Aubin Duff, at the 2018 Masquerade at the San Diego Comic-Con in San Diego on Saturday, July 21, 2018. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Best Re-creation winner, “The Grand Apothecary, Putress,” by Vincent Clervi, at the 2018 Masquerade at the San Diego Comic-Con in San Diego on Saturday, July 21, 2018. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Most Beautiful award winner, “Claire Fraser The Outlander Wedding,” by Rebecca Roberts Ryan, at the 2018 Masquerade at the San Diego Comic-Con in San Diego on Saturday, July 21, 2018. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Winner of the Best Young Fan Award, “Bakugou,” by Gabrielle and Brad Jones, at the 2018 Masquerade at the San Diego Comic-Con in San Diego on Saturday, July 21, 2018. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Winner of Best Presentation, “Crouching Prince, Hidden Dragon,” by Jacob Rodebaugh, Brooke, Rob and Natasha Bowman, at the 2018 Masquerade at the San Diego Comic-Con in San Diego on Saturday, July 21, 2018. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • The 2018 Masquerade at the San Diego Comic-Con in San Diego on Saturday, July 21, 2018. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • The 2018 Masquerade at the San Diego Comic-Con in San Diego on Saturday, July 21, 2018. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • The 2018 Masquerade at the San Diego Comic-Con in San Diego on Saturday, July 21, 2018. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • The 2018 Masquerade at the San Diego Comic-Con in San Diego on Saturday, July 21, 2018. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • The 2018 Masquerade at the San Diego Comic-Con in San Diego on Saturday, July 21, 2018. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • The 2018 Masquerade at the San Diego Comic-Con in San Diego on Saturday, July 21, 2018. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • The 2018 Masquerade at the San Diego Comic-Con in San Diego on Saturday, July 21, 2018. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • The 2018 Masquerade at the San Diego Comic-Con in San Diego on Saturday, July 21, 2018. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • The 2018 Masquerade at the San Diego Comic-Con in San Diego on Saturday, July 21, 2018. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • The 2018 Masquerade at the San Diego Comic-Con in San Diego on Saturday, July 21, 2018. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • The 2018 Masquerade at the San Diego Comic-Con in San Diego on Saturday, July 21, 2018. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • The 2018 Masquerade at the San Diego Comic-Con in San Diego on Saturday, July 21, 2018. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • The 2018 Masquerade at the San Diego Comic-Con in San Diego on Saturday, July 21, 2018. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • The 2018 Masquerade at the San Diego Comic-Con in San Diego on Saturday, July 21, 2018. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • The 2018 Masquerade at the San Diego Comic-Con in San Diego on Saturday, July 21, 2018. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • The 2018 Masquerade at the San Diego Comic-Con in San Diego on Saturday, July 21, 2018. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • The 2018 Masquerade at the San Diego Comic-Con in San Diego on Saturday, July 21, 2018. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • The 2018 Masquerade at the San Diego Comic-Con in San Diego on Saturday, July 21, 2018. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • The 2018 Masquerade at the San Diego Comic-Con in San Diego on Saturday, July 21, 2018. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • The 2018 Masquerade at the San Diego Comic-Con in San Diego on Saturday, July 21, 2018. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • The 2018 Masquerade at the San Diego Comic-Con in San Diego on Saturday, July 21, 2018. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • The 2018 Masquerade at the San Diego Comic-Con in San Diego on Saturday, July 21, 2018. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • The 2018 Masquerade at the San Diego Comic-Con in San Diego on Saturday, July 21, 2018. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • The 2018 Masquerade at the San Diego Comic-Con in San Diego on Saturday, July 21, 2018. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • The 2018 Masquerade at the San Diego Comic-Con in San Diego on Saturday, July 21, 2018. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • The 2018 Masquerade at the San Diego Comic-Con in San Diego on Saturday, July 21, 2018. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • The 2018 Masquerade at the San Diego Comic-Con in San Diego on Saturday, July 21, 2018. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • The 2018 Masquerade at the San Diego Comic-Con in San Diego on Saturday, July 21, 2018. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • The 2018 Masquerade at the San Diego Comic-Con in San Diego on Saturday, July 21, 2018. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • The 2018 Masquerade at the San Diego Comic-Con in San Diego on Saturday, July 21, 2018. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • The 2018 Masquerade at the San Diego Comic-Con in San Diego on Saturday, July 21, 2018. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • The 2018 Masquerade at the San Diego Comic-Con in San Diego on Saturday, July 21, 2018. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • The 2018 Masquerade at the San Diego Comic-Con in San Diego on Saturday, July 21, 2018. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • The 2018 Masquerade at the San Diego Comic-Con in San Diego on Saturday, July 21, 2018. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • The 2018 Masquerade at the San Diego Comic-Con in San Diego on Saturday, July 21, 2018. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • The 2018 Masquerade at the San Diego Comic-Con in San Diego on Saturday, July 21, 2018. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • The 2018 Masquerade at the San Diego Comic-Con in San Diego on Saturday, July 21, 2018. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • The 2018 Masquerade at the San Diego Comic-Con in San Diego on Saturday, July 21, 2018. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

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Celebrating it’s 44th year at the four-day pop culture convention, the three-hour event took over the San Diego Convention Center’s Ballroom 20 on Saturday to give the “art of costuming the spotlight it deserves,” according to the Comic-Con website. More than 100 people were expected to take part in the Masquerade with 40 entries being judged Saturday night.

“A wide variety of characters are brought to life in clever and entertaining presentations of drama, comedy, mock battles, and more, each with specially selected music and lighting — a fun, lively night where you never know who and what will cross the stage next.,” the website states.

Here’s a list of this year’s winners:

  • Most Creative Use of Materials winner, “Howl’s Moving Castle,” by Nina London
  • Winner of the Most Humorous award, “Princess Vanellope Von SchweetzÉand Ralph,” by Bri Sloth and PrueDuctions Cosplay
  • Judges’ Choice winner, “Big Daddy Delta & Big Sister Eleanor,” by Angus & Aubin Duff
  • Best Re-creation winner, “The Grand Apothecary, Putress,” by Vincent Clervi
  • Most Beautiful award winner, “Claire Fraser The Outlander Wedding,” by Rebecca Roberts Ryan
  • Winner of the Best Young Fan Award, “Bakugou,” by Gabrielle and Brad Jones
  • Winner of Best Presentation, “Crouching Prince, Hidden Dragon,” by Jacob Rodebaugh, Brooke, Rob and Natasha Bowman

Staff writer Sarah Batcha contributed to this report.

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Daryl Dixon’s motorcycle, the San Diego Comic-Con Trumpet Player and everything else we saw on day 3 of SDCC 2018

Ah, day 3 of Comic-Con International in San Diego, when the cosplayers start to become a little bit like zombies as they trudge across Harbor Boulevard and some attendees finally get their time to shine with the big stars in Hall H after waiting in line for days. Or maybe everyone was just chasing after the rare Pokemon spawning at the Convention Center.

Speaking of Hall H, everyone is really excited about the “Aquaman” trailer, which was one of the big movie trailer reveals on Saturday.

Unless you somehow scored one of the hotels really close to the San Diego Convention Center, chances are you ended up riding the shuttle, which could be great — one bus was playing “Logan’s Run” — or an adventure — another shuttle full of passengers had to educate their driver about the difference between blue and teal. Even Captain America rode the Comic-Con shuttle.

Getting around at the con itself is an obstacle course — thanks to strollers for kids and droids. For con-goers with disabilities, the throngs can provide challenges.

As always, we saw some fantastic cosplay. Among the people we met in our travels today: a drag queen Deadpool and tiki-inspired “Star Wars” villains. And if you ever wanted to know who supplies cosplayers with wigs, there’s a company in Tustin that would love to give you fake hair.

We met the San Diego Comic-Con trumpet player, who is even better than that guy who cosplayed as Sexy Sax Man last year and just kept playing Wham’s “Careless Whisper.” Mark Grisez, of Miami Beach, provided a personal soundtrack for some Indiana Jones and Darth Vader cosplayers.

Speaking of music, the con floor turned into a Chuck E. Cheese with Deadpool miming Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5” at the Deadpool Super Duper Dance Party thanks to the folks at the Jim Henson Creature Shop in Burbank.

Fan activations were all the rage on Saturday. You could get your photo with a walker AND Daryl Dixon’s motorcycle at AMC’s Deadquarters. But you couldn’t touch it — they apparently actually use it on “The Walking Dead.” You could also visit Christmas Town at a pop-up for the 25th anniversary of “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”

And we we headed to Barrio Logan to visit Border X Brewing, which held its own comic book convention focusing on the contributions of Latino creators within the industry with the fourth annual Chicano-Con.

We’ve got one more day in San Diego tomorrow and we’re going to make it count. Follow our team’s coverage of Comic-Con online and at socalnewsgroup on Instagram.

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