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Talking pictures: Best and worst of Comic-Con '09

Director Jon Favreau waves as he arrives for a panel for his movie "Ironman 2" at Comic-Con in San Diego Saturday.
Director Jon Favreau waves as he arrives for a panel for his movie "Ironman 2" at Comic-Con in San Diego Saturday.
Denis Poroy, Associated Press

SAN DIEGO — I rarely, if ever, get weak-kneed in the presence of celebrities.

I've been in the same room with the likes of Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, Bruce Willis, Hugh Jackman and other big stars without blinking an eye.

And yet I got tongue-tied and weak-kneed when I met Stan Lee — the co-creator of such comic book heroes as Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, the Hulk and the X-Men — at San Diego Comic-Con 2009 last week.

Stan "The Man" has always been a personal hero of mine, and I was barely able to mumble out an unintelligible greeting before I shook his hand.

(My thanks to nice-guy comics writer Jason Aaron for making that introduction, by the way.)

This was my first Comic-Con, by the way, and I found the experience a little overwhelming. However, my favorite parts of the four-day comics/movie/television/video game/toy expo included:

Winning a Marvel Comics trivia contest for knowing which artist drew the first appearance of Wolverine and getting a free T-shirt. (The answer is Herb Trimpe, in "The Incredible Hulk" No. 180.)

Getting to see live performances by the casts of both "The Mighty Boosh" (Adult Swim/BBC) and "Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!" (Adult Swim).

Networking on behalf of both the Deseret News and The Geekshow Podcast. (Hey, it wasn't all fun. There was some work involved.)

As embarrassing as it was, blurting out to a scruffy and disheveled Joss Whedon — creator of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" — that he needed "to get a shave."

ON THE DOWNSIDE: It was dispiriting to see that comic books seem to be have been so marginalized and "ghetto-ized" by an event that bears their name.

In fact, Chuck Rozanski, present of Denver-based Mile High Comics Inc., questioned whether the convention will "tilt even further toward media and consumer goods companies dominating the exhibit hall."

"Fanatical media fans are lining up outside the convention center the night before in order to be the first of standing-room-only crowds to be able to Twitter on the latest TV or movie project," Rozanski said. If you love comics, it should be clearly evident that there is something seriously wrong with this picture, at least if you want San Diego to remain a comic-con."

THE REAL VILLAINS OF COMIC-CON: Cable Network G4 had a major presence at the convention and covered all four days of events and panels.

However, G4 commentators Kevin Pereira, Olivia Munn and Chris Gore all practically sneered at comics fans throughout the cable channel's coverage. (Guess what, guys? We really don't like you jerks, either.)

QUOTE OF COMIC-CON: "This is the most important time for me, more important than the premiere, the screenings. This is when we show them the gist of the movie, what we've got. If we don't get them now, I'm not sure how you get them back." — Jon Favreau, "Iron Man 2" director, explaining the importance of Comic-Con to USA Today.