Comic-Con closes after 4 days of pop-culture fun

Jul 25 2011 - 11:39pm

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(DENIS POROY/The Associated Press) A costumed character on Sunday attends the fourth and last day of the Comic-Con International 2011 convention held in San Diego.
(DENIS POROY/The Associated Press) A costumed character on Sunday attends the fourth and last day of the Comic-Con International 2011 convention held in San Diego. The annual comic book and popular arts convention attracts more than 120,000 people.
(DENIS POROY/The Associated Press) Sunday was the fourth and last day of the Comic-Con International 2011 convention in San Diego. The annual comic book and popular arts convention attracts more than 120,000 people.
(DENIS POROY/The Associated Press) A costumed character on Sunday attends the fourth and last day of the Comic-Con International 2011 convention held in San Diego.
(DENIS POROY/The Associated Press) A costumed character on Sunday attends the fourth and last day of the Comic-Con International 2011 convention held in San Diego. The annual comic book and popular arts convention attracts more than 120,000 people.
(DENIS POROY/The Associated Press) Sunday was the fourth and last day of the Comic-Con International 2011 convention in San Diego. The annual comic book and popular arts convention attracts more than 120,000 people.

SAN DIEGO -- Storm troopers cavorted with zombies, Steven Spielberg chatted with Peter Jackson, and the stars of "Cowboys & Aliens" made for an action-packed Comic-Con.

The 42nd annual fan festival closed Sunday after four days of pop-culture indulgence.

Costumed characters strolled the streets, and empty storefronts were transformed into special attractions such as the Sega Arcade and Monstergeddon, which mixed Marvel characters with monster trucks.

Inside the convention center, comic books, toys and splashy displays touting upcoming games, movies and TV shows packed the exhibition floor while panels for various artists, programs and films continued nonstop in dozens of ballrooms and meeting halls.

"These people have a harder time being this excited about this stuff in their everyday lives, so this is just a giant well of acceptance we're bathing in,"said Blair Herter, a host of the G4 Network's pop-culture program, "Attack of the Show!"

That level of excitement is what makes the Comic-Con audience a valuable one for entertainment companies, and the entire convention and its surroundings were awash in marketing.

Local trains were wrapped with images of Batman and The Joker, elevators were decorated inside with images of "True Blood," and promoters passed out free buttons, magazines, sunglasses and other souvenirs to fans on their way in and out of the convention.

Conventioneers collected free T-shirts and tote bags. There were "True Blood" drinks to try and even a cosmetics collection inspired by the show. Stars and producers of the hit HBO series shared secrets from the upcoming season.

"Twilight" fans camped outside the convention center for days for a chance to see the stars of the franchise in person and watch footage from the penultimate installment in the series, "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Part 1."

Stars of the film came out just after dawn Thursday to sign autographs and pose for photos with fans sleeping outside.

Hundreds of fans won tickets to the world premiere of "Cowboys & Aliens" on Saturday. To thank the Comic-Con crowd for supporting his films over the years, director Jon Favreau brought the premiere of his sci-fi Western to San Diego -- a Comic-Con first -- where fans sat with stars Harrison Ford, Daniel Craig and Olivia Wilde.

Comic-Con attendees also got an early look at "Captain America." The film opened a day ahead of schedule in San Diego, and hundreds of fans got to see it at a free screening Thursday morning, where they were given T-shirts, posters and other movie memorabilia.

Spielberg was welcomed with a booming standing ovation to his first Comic-Con. He announced plans for "Jurassic Park 4" and shared the stage with Jackson to discuss his "The Adventures of Tintin," due in December.

Another upcoming film, "The Adventures of Spider-Man," was also a festival highlight. Star Andrew Garfield, wearing a store-bought Spidey costume, approached a Q-and-A microphone in the audience posing as a fan, then whipped off his mask and spoke about his love of the comic-book hero.

Seeing stars is a big part of Comic-Con, and this year, fans had twice as many chances to see their favorites.

Charlize Theron was on hand for upcoming films "Prometheus" and "Snow White and the Huntsmen," which also stars Kristen Stewart, who was at the festival touting "Twilight."

Colin Farrell promoted "Fright Night" and "Total Recall."

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