It’s impossible to take in everything the San Diego Comic-Con has to offer, as I learned again this weekend. Some fans come to see movie stars and major studio previews, while others zip from one specialized panel to another. My favorite thing to do is cruise the exhibition floor, meeting people, reuniting with old friends and acquaintances, and looking for interesting collectibles—even though my shelves are full and I have no more wall space.

Floyd Norman by Drew Struzan

The advertising image for Floyd Norman: An Animated Life by movie poster legend Drew Struzan

I did participate in several panels, including a tribute to Walt Kelly’s Pogo hosted by my pal Mark Evanier, a warm and often-hilarious tribute to longtime Disney animator and story-man Floyd Norman, and the annual edition of Rotten Tomatoes’ audience-participation gathering called “Your Opinion Sucks.” My fellow opinion-makers were Donna Dickens, Meredith Borders, Wilson Morales, and the irrepressible Scott Mantz. I felt rather plain alongside RT’s editor and host Matt Atchity, who was dressed as Obi-Wan Kenobi, and senior editor Grae Drake, in full regalia as Buzz Lightyear, but we all had fun.

Most of the audience at the later panel had seen Michael Fiore and Eric Sharkey’s first-rate documentary Floyd Norman: An Animated Life earlier that day, but Floyd is so interesting and his friends and colleagues so colorful that everyone enjoyed being in their company—in person, rather than on screen. Animation fans will finally get a chance to see this highly entertaining and candid film in theaters and VOD, as well as home video, later in August. Meanwhile, you can watch a trailer HERE.


Superman-Lois Lane-circa 1941

My favorite item on the floor: an upcoming statue of Superman and Lois Lane as they appear in the 1941 Max Fleischer animated cartoon!

I also had an opportunity to record a podcast for the Nerdist folks at their weekend headquarters: Petco Park, home to the San Diego Padres baseball team! My daughter Jessie and I welcomed Doug Benson as our guest. Not only did we discuss our favorite sleepers now playing in theaters, but Jessie enabled us to play The Leonard Maltin Game, which Doug featured on his podcast for so many years. This involves guessing the name of a movie based on the number of cast names you bid for, from the bottom up! Doug has been the quizmaster during the game’s long run but this time we turned the tables and had him be a contestant. I won’t spoil the results; the episode will debut on Friday. (On Wednesday night I was a guest on Doug Loves Movies, along with comedians Graham Elwood and Mark Ellis. We recorded it before a packed house at the Great American Comedy Club in San Diego and had a fabulous time. You can hear the results HERE.

Comic-Con can be exhausting, as it’s a continual case of sensory overload, but my family and I enjoyed ourselves, as we always do. We offer special thanks to the gifted artist Olivia  and her husband Joel for giving us a place to park at their busy booth. That’s where Jessie and I recorded this quick video overview of our experiences in San Diego. Check it out HERE.


Lon Chaney-After Midnight Bust

Coming soon from Chronicle collectibles: a vivid bust of Lon Chaney in the lost silent film London After Midnight

Hammer Figurines

Lest we forget: Titan has busts of Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing from their earliest Hammer Films classics


Landis-Mark Richardson

You never know who you’ll see on the convention floor, like these two diehard movie buffs and moviemakers: director John Landis and Dark Horse founder Mike Richardson. (Photo by Leonard Maltin)

Rhett-Scarlett-Don Corleone-figurines

Star Wars statues are everywhere, but how about these figures of Rhett Butler, Scarlett O’Hara, and Don Corleone?

Leonard Maltin is one of the world’s most respected film critics and historians. He is best known for his widely-used reference work Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and its companion volume Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, now in its third edition, as well as his thirty-year run on television’s Entertainment Tonight. He teaches at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and appears regularly on Reelz Channel and Turner Classic Movies. His books include The 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, The Great Movie Comedians, The Disney Films, The Art of the Cinematographer, Movie Comedy Teams, The Great American Broadcast, and Leonard Maltin’s Movie Encyclopedia. He served two terms as President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, is a voting member of the National Film Registry, and was appointed by the Librarian of Congress to sit on the Board of Directors of the National Film Preservation Foundation. He hosted and co-produced the popular Walt Disney Treasures DVD series and has appeared on innumerable television programs and documentaries. He has been the recipient of awards from the American Society of Cinematographers, the Telluride Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, and San Diego’s Comic-Con International. Perhaps the pinnacle of his career was his appearance in a now-classic episode of South Park. (Or was it Carmela consulting his Movie Guide on an episode of The Sopranos?) He holds court at Follow him on Twitter and Facebook; you can also listen to him on his weekly podcast: Maltin on Movies. — [Artwork by Drew Friedman]

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June 2024