Comic-Con Diary, Day Two: A Whole Bunch of Fantasy Writers Walk into a Bar; Also, Tintin!

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So George R.R. Martin, Patrick Rothfuss, Christopher Paolini, Scott Westerfeld, David Anthony Durham and I walk into a bar.

No, seriously, we did. After the show floor closes at Comic-Con, big entertainment companies throw parties at bars all around the city. Mostly they’re the big movie and game companies — in the great Comic-Con hierarchy of artistic media, books rank somewhere below injection-molded action figures and just above those little flair buttons people pin to their convention lanyards.

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But Random House threw a party last night, and the writers at the show descended on it en masse. It was at the Double Deuce, a cowboy-themed bar complete with mechanical bull. An interesting choice. Much alcohol was consumed — you can count on writers to out-drink other artists, even if they don’t outsell them.

Christopher Paolini and Patrick Rothfuss rode the mechanical bull. Both acquitted themselves admirably. I will say nothing further.

This morning the big event was Steven Spielberg’s Tintin presentation. Or that was the big event for me, as an old-school obsessive fan of the sexless, stateless journalist-detective. (By the way, being a journalist is nothing like Tintin made it seem. I feel so lied to!)

Peter Jackson was there as well, and he talked about the challenges of getting Tintin on screen: “Even though these characters had faces you’d never find on a human being,” he said, “we still wanted it to have a level of detail where it almost looked like live action.” Spielberg apparently operated the camera on this one personally. He described it as being as much like painting as moviemaking.

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They showed about five minutes of the movie. Tasting notes would have to include mentions of Dick Tracy and Polar Express: directors seemed to be convinced that somewhere in that foggy realm between cartoons and live action, there’s a happy medium that isn’t just freaky and weird. I’m still not convinced it’s there. But I was definitely entertained. There’s a certain shade that Hergé used to color ocean water, and they’ve gotten it just right. And come on—Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as twins! And they rightly noticed that Hergé draws a lot on Buster Keaton-style knockabout film comedy, and they fed that back into the movie to pretty hilarious effect—Tintin reeling punch-drunk through roaring traffic, barely missing getting run over…

I will say that hearing Tintin with an American accent is a bit distracting. He’s supposed to have more of a Belgian-English, cultural attaché, clipped-consonants sort of voice. Or that’s how I hear him in my head. And they’ve given Captain Haddock a humongous prosthetic schnozz.

It’s a risk, that’s all I’m saying. But I’m a Tintin purist.

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