May the force be with them

‘Star Wars’ ex­pected to dom­i­nates four-day Comic-Con con­ven­tion now un­der­way in San Diego

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - ENTERTAINMENT - THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

If an­tic­i­pa­tion for this year’s Comic-Con had a sound­track, it would be John Wil­liams’ in­stantly rec­og­niz­able, Os­car-win­ning “Star Wars” theme.

The latest take on the beloved space opera was top of mind for fans Wed­nes­day night as the an­nual pop-cul­ture con­ven­tion opened for a preview of its col­or­ful show­room floor. Comic-Con of­fi­cially be­gan Thurs­day.

“Ev­ery­one loves ‘Star Wars,”‘ said Kris­ten McLaugh­lin of Los An­ge­les.

The 23-year-old, wear­ing a Cap­tain Amer­ica cos­tume, said she planned to spend Thurs­day night wait­ing in line for Lu­cas­film’s Fri­day af­ter­noon pre­sen­ta­tion on “Star Wars: The Force Awak­ens.”

More than 130,000 fans are ex­pected at the San Diego Con­ven­tion Cen­ter over the four days for au­to­graph sign­ings, TV and film pre­sen­ta­tions, toy shop­ping, cos­tume con­tests and other artis­tic en­gage­ments inspired by comic books and su­per­heroes.

“Star Wars” has a ma­jor pres­ence in the mas­sive show­room, with a mini-mall of booths ded­i­cated to its char­ac­ters. There are Chew­bacca rugs and Storm Trooper sweaters, lim­ited-edi­tion Darth Vader skate­board decks and Yoda back­packs, plus Sith Lord pet out­fits and Ewok stuffed an­i­mals.

A life-size replica of Rey’s Speeder Bike from the new film is on dis­play.

“To a cer­tain ex­tent, it’s a gi­ant com­mer­cial,” Shane Mor­ri­son, 34, of Glendale, Calif., said of the an­nual con­ven­tion. “But we pay hun­dreds or thou­sands of dol­lars to be part of it.”

He was most in­ter­ested in the latest col­lectible fig­urines. “Just see­ing all the new toys — that’s a lot of what Comic-Con is about,” he said, sur­rounded by his pur­chases.

Wayne Wadler amassed more than 15 gi­ant bags of ex­clu­sive toys within min­utes of ComicCon’s doors open­ing. He ex­pects to sell them all in one week­end at his comic-book shop in River­side, Cal­i­for­nia. The most pop­u­lar col­lectibles right now? “Star Wars,” he said.

A line snaked through the con­ven­tion cen­tre for a toy booth selling translu­cent Darth Vader dolls and over­sized Boba Fett fig­urines.

For the ninth year in a row, Dave Jamer, 46, came to ComicCon dressed as Boba Phat, his 1970s ap­proach to the “Star Wars” char­ac­ter. His buddy Daniel En­low, 67, was clad as “Pi­rate Pimp Vader.”

He paired a Darth Vader hel­met with a bro­cade smok­ing jacket.

Even en­ter­tain­ment com­peti­tors are ex­cited about the sev­enth “Star Wars” in­stal­ment.

“I’m ex­cited that ‘Star Wars’ is com­ing here. We love JJ Abrams and have his shows,” said Lisa Gre­go­rian, chief mar­ket­ing of­fi­cer for Warner Bros. Tele­vi­sion Group, which is pre­mier­ing its new “Su­per­girl” show at ComicCon.

Other an­tic­i­pated prop­er­ties at the con­ven­tion in­clude “The Walk­ing Dead,” “Game of Thrones,” “Bat­man v. Su­per­man: Dawn of Jus­tice” and “The Hunger Games: Mock­ing­jayPart 2.”

As crowds passed by the con­ven­tion cen­tre, a lone busker stood across the street in the grass. In front of her was a mu­sic stand. Charise Zablot­sky, a 26year-old who per­forms with the La Jolla Sym­phony, chose a spe­cial se­lec­tion for this night.

She plugged her vi­o­lin into a tiny amp, and played the open­ing notes of the “Star Wars” theme.

Wil­lie Nel­son will re­ceive the na­tional li­brary’s pop mu­sic prize this year — the Gersh­win Prize for Pop­u­lar Song — as the Li­brary of Congress cited Nel­son’s six decades in mu­sic Thurs­day.

Nel­son will re­ceive the prize in Novem­ber when he will be feted with a con­cert and other hon­ours in Washington, the li­brary said.

Nel­son’s song­writ­ing in­cludes coun­try-mu­sic stan­dards like “Crazy” and Hello Walls as well as the al­bums Shot­gun Wil­lie and Star­dust. And he’s still mak­ing new mu­sic. Ear­lier this month, Nel­son’s new col­lab­o­ra­tion with Merle Hag­gard, Django and Jim­mie, de­buted at No. 1 on the Bill­board coun­try al­bum chart.

Li­brar­ian of Congress James Billing­ton said the na­tive Texan is a “mu­si­cal ex­plorer” who has re­drawn the bound­aries of coun­try mu­sic, cross­ing into jazz, blues, folk, rock and Latin styles.

AP PHOTO

Kather­ine Dresser poses in a Mega Bloks dis­play on Preview Night at the 2015 Comic-Con In­ter­na­tional.

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