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Comic-Con International feels like the early days of the zombie apocalypse: crowds navigating the convention floor amid a sea of Wonder Womans and Stormtroopers, harried fans lining up for hours to catch a glimpse of their favorite stars at panels and autograph signings — and that’s just inside the Convention Center.
Outside, it’s a sea of people invading San Diego as if it were the safest place to avoid being infected. With The Walking Dead poised to take over Comic-Con with events including an interactive obstacle course timed to celebrate the 100th issue of the comic the series is based on as well as a panel, fan signings and more, The Hollywood Reporter turned to showrunner Glen Mazzara to keep a journal of his experience.
Starting with the trip down from L.A. and with highlights including paneling in the massive Hall H typically reserved for film fare, here’s Comic-Con through the eyes of the person best positioned to survive a zombie apocalypse.
Thursday, July 12
8:15 a.m. Give prep talk to my three sons, who will accompany me. I fully expect them to argue with one another. I’m worried about being caught choking them out a la Homer Simpson.
8:39 a.m. I start packing. I decide to bring dark clothes because I fear underarm pit stains more than anything. Isn’t there an operation for that?
8:46 a.m. Where the hell’s my codpiece?
9:55 a.m. 405 South is blocked. Should have left on July 4. One son forgot something. We head back to the house.
10:17 a.m. Let’s try it again.
10:50 a.m. Finally get on the 405. Son is blasting dubstep. My head is pounding already.
11:30 a.m. Email: The Walking Dead booth’s line was so long, they had to shut it down.
12:45 p.m. WTF is the 805 South?
1:10 p.m. Check into the Hotel Del Coronado. AMC’s put me up in the Beach Village. Pretty sweet. We grab a bite then head to the floor.
2:53 p.m. Floor highlight: Thor offers to rescue a damsel, but she tells him she likes Loki because he is far more powerful than Thor. Thor responds, “Yeah, right!” Poor guy took months to make that costume. Shot down Day 1.
The Walking Dead booth looks great. [Special effects supervisor/co-EP] Greg Nicotero and his team nailed it once again.
WETA booth across the way has terrific trolls from The Hobbit.
Idea I wish I’d thought of: Two-Headed Cop. Good Cop Bad Cop on the same body. How did I miss that?
I spend $35 on Uglydolls?
Love the crowd. Everyone is so accepting. Some dude goes nuts in the Avengers: Battle for Earth booth and works up a sweat fighting a digital Venom.
3:24 p.m. We head out. There’s a giant cutout of Lou Ferrigno. Wait a minute, there’s Lou himself.
Bump into [Walking Dead writer] Scott M. Gimple. Happy as a clam. These are his people.
Also run into [Mazzara’s Crash scribe] Sang Kyu Kim. His first time. Seems to be digging it.
Kids and I get some ice cream. Two guys in Wilfred costumes are standing near a giant hydrant. Some lady’s real dog tries to pee on it. Wilfreds bark at the dog and chase him off.
5 p.m. The Walking Dead Escape. I’ve got [Walking Dead postproduction assistant] Alex Coley Brown running block for me. Used to be an offensive lineman in college. I tell him if I get bitten, I’ll never give him a freelance script.
I hook up with Gimple, [Walking Dead writer] Angela Kang (aka Khaleesi), Alex, Nicotero, [Walking Dead creator/exec producer Robert Kirkman, Joel Stillerman and Ben Davis from AMC, and others. We get led in. Zombies in cages look good. Some dude with a bullhorn’s telling me to remain calm. I do. Zombies break out. It’s on.
We make our way through Petco. Climb a rope ladder and go down a slide. Seems pointless. I say it feels like the AMC Bake-off. Joel almost loses his footing.
Alex has my back as we go through the course. Opens doors, yells, “Clear!” Distracts zombies so they don’t grab me. I better jump him to EP.
Soon, I’m crawling through blood. Ruins my pants. If this doesn’t wash out, I’m suing Robert.
6:10 p.m. Blacklight shows I am not infected, but I wander into the Quarantine room. Someone puts a gun to my head and pulls the trigger. BANG! WTF? I got killed by some over-zealous FEMA agent?
6:30 p.m. Hook up with [co-star] Steven Yeun. Fans call out, “Glenn! GLENN!” I wave happily before I realize they are calling out his character’s name, not mine.
8 p.m. Full cast dinner. Producers. Writers. AMC. The Walking Dead family. Feels great. Everyone’s excited. We can’t wait for tomorrow.
Friday, July 13
7:44 a.m. I’m downstairs, first to arrive for the car. Followed by Greg. Am I sweating already?
8:20 a.m. I grab the first car out with Andy Lincoln [Rick], [EP] Denise Huth, Greg Nicotero and Danai Gurira [Michonne]. Somehow, we end up arriving last at the Fox International breakfast.
Breakfast on a hotel rooftop packed with foreign journalists. I’m put at a table to talk about season three. Hope I don’t have egg in my teeth.
Robert is given the Spike TV Game-Changer of the Year Award. It looks like a giant brass cockring.
Panel is moderated by Jonathan Ross. I’m not familiar with him, but he’s a scream. Really a fun time.
9:45 a.m. A few on-camera interviews, then we are rushed to the Convention Center to sign autographs. We make our way through traffic and come up behind the Convention Center. [Co-star] Norman Reedus and I head to the bathrooms. Guillermo del Toro pulls up in a golf cart, gets out and hugs both of us.
10 a.m. Security leads us through the floor to the Walking Dead booth. We sign posters, DVDs, cards, books, shirts, everything. Fans came from all over the country. Maddy — wide-eyed, star-struck — must have been 11. She’s what this whole weekend’s about.
12:10 p.m. We’re led to a green room to grab lunch and decompress. Everyone’s trading stories about the fans we just saw.
Chuck Lorre walks through the green room. I chat with him a bit. One of the great showrunners, in my book.
1:15 p.m. Showtime. We are lined up backstage in Hall H. Someone has to run off for the bathroom. Next year, catheters.
1:25 p.m. [Moderator/Talking Dead host] Chris Hardwick greets the crowd then introduces the producers. I step onstage and cannot believe the raw energy. The lights are blinding, and you can’t see to the back of the room. At one point, they bring the lights up and I see the room is almost double what I thought. I announce our return date and then the trailer.
I look up at the screen and am overwhelmed by seeing our work up there. The crowd goes nuts. They are blown away. I can relax.
Chris introduces the actors, and they come out and play. They are smart and funny and love this entire experience. The fans love them, and with Chris going for belly laughs, we have a hugely successful panel. I cannot be more proud to be a part of this.
Dreamtime: The rest is a blur. We’re brought to the back entrance of the Hilton. [Co-star] Laurie Holden greets fans at barricades. Then roundtable interviews with [EP] Gale Anne Hurd, Norman and I grouped together. People are already starting to dissect the trailer shot by shot.
After roundtables, on-camera interviews. I’m with Laurie and [new co-star] David Morrissey. Boy, was he thrown into the deep end. After that, we’re back outside, and Steven and Norman work the crowd. Then, we head over to the Hard Rock. We are brought in through the kitchen. Goodfellas, anyone?
We reach a rooftop suite. I get to meet Paul Scheer, and we form a mutual admiration society. The cast, Gale and I do a photo shoot. They pull the photos up on a screen — there’s a bank of terminals with operators like in a high-tech film.
Laurie, [co-star] Lauren Cohan, Steven, David and I are interviewed live for another site.
Everyone’s pleased at how well the day’s going. AMC PR is kicking ass, keeping it moving like clockwork.
Colin Farrell enters the room. Lizzy Caplan goes into her online interview.
We’re moved to the piers and onto a big-ass boat for another outlet. The cast busts dance moves during a photo shoot.
7:15 p.m. The producers are taken off the boat and onto the pier for a group interview. The pier is rocking so much, we can’t talk. I think Robert starts feeling sick. Finally, we’re wrapped, and I get a free pair of flip-flops.
I try to catch Gimple panel, but Ryan texts me that it’s a f—ing zoo and 100 people have been turned away. I catch a ride back to the hotel.
8:30 p.m. I eat with Greg and his family, Steven, Lauren, [co-star] Sarah Wayne Callies, Danai and Andy. Norman appears with a posse of six teenage girls. I take pictures of the entire group with each of their phones.
9:30 p.m. Sarah, Lauren and I head to The Walking Dead Issue 100 party. Sarah’s mom is editing the Arden edition of Cymbeline.
We meet up with Scott, Ryan, Alex and Steven. Scott’s panel killed, so I’m happy for him. We enter the party, and I run into Paul Scheer again.
As I talk to two journalists, a zombie sneaks up on one and scares the bejeezus out of her. She spills her entire beer all over me. I tell her she can make it up by going easy on me if my next pilot sucks balls. She thinks I’m kidding.
Catch up with the AMC guys, Joel, AMC’s Charlie Collier, Ben and Brian. They are in the stratosphere. I tell Charlie PR deserves high praise.
Robert and I have a love fest. What a crazy year for all of us.
I walk an exhausted Lauren to the cars then leave a little while later. I blew off the FearNet, CAA and FX/Maxim parties. That last one was probably a mistake to skip.
1 a.m. I’m in bed reading reactions to our panel. Twitter seems happy.
Saturday, July 15
8:30 a.m. The boys and I grab breakfast at the hotel’s restaurant on the beach. We sit near a fire pit. A woman comes along with a seka falcon. She’s there to chase the gulls away.
9:30 a.m. I talk shop with [Breaking Bad showrunner] Vince Gilligan, one of the best TV writers of all time. His panel went well. Good. He deserves it.
9:55 a.m. The boys and I hit the floor. Buy some T-shirts, etc. They have no interest in comic books. Kills me. I bump into Peter Block from FearNet. Rob Kenneally, super-agent, texts. We hook up and check out the Marvel figurines.
I also run into Sang hanging out with seven Boba Fetts. Or is the plural Bobi Fett?
The boys are getting antsy, so we cab it to the train. I put them on a train back to L.A. then take the furriest, ugliest pedicab back to the CC. The driver/rider wants to chat and won’t keep her eyes on the road.
I pass Joss Whedon in the Hard Rock. Too intimidated to say hi. (Me, not him.)
12:30 p.m. I tour the floor with a reporter. I buy a lot of trades, some great B monster films.
2 p.m. [Publicist] Michelle Marron and I eat at the worst pizzeria in San Diego. The Jersey Shore guys working there seem ready to beat down the Captain America behind me.
3 p.m. Hilton. Another interview, then back to the floor for video Q&A.
I pass Norman on the street mobbed by people. He was wearing a mask at one point. Guess it fell off.
4:15 p.m. I see a big-time horror actor setting out his photos for autographs. Feels like that scene in The Wrestler. A kid on crutches buys an autograph for $20 then pulls out three DVDs from home. Actor says he’ll sign them, $10 each. Really, man? Really?
I do my interview then check out the artwork section of the floor.
Back to the Del for a shower and change. Then over to the Breaking Bad premiere. Paul Scheer shows. We are now stalking each other.
The screening’s terrific and afterward, I meet [cinematographer] Michael Slovis. Happy to see [producers] Michelle MacLaren, Mark Johnson and Melissa Bernstein.
[Sons of Anarchy’s] Maggie Siff and I talk about our love for my brother-in-arms, Kurt Sutter. The real Khaleesi (Game of Thrones‘ Emilia Clarke) shows up, and the writers and I turn into giddy fanboys.
I catch up with Nick Tarabay from Crash and Spartacus. Hardwick tells me about his Hobbit panel. All in all, a very good party. I’m ready for bed.
10:30 p.m. Norman, Laurie and I end up at the EW party, and Norman charms his way in. While Laurie and I try the same, there’s Norman, shades on, giving an on-camera interview.
Laurie and I have a heart to heart while we watch Joss Whedon dance.
1 a.m. We follow Norman and Aaron Paul to what I’m told is Zachary Levi’s party. It’s a scene.
I immediately see Paul Scheer. We shake our fists and vow to kill each other at dawn. This must stop once and for all.
Joss is dancing with Seth Green.
I tell Erinn Hayes that she did an episode of Hawthorne that I wrote. She towers over me. She’s so purty. I feel like Frodo talking to Galadriel.
Someone tells me Rob Corddry is a big Walking Dead fan, so I approach him. I worship Childrens Hospital. Would love to write for that.
Also chat with [Archer‘s] Aisha Tyler, another charming tall woman in heels. Am I shrinking?
3 a.m. Norman says we gotta roll, and I don’t ask questions anymore. Takes awhile to find the car. Norman is mobbed. Some dude runs down the street after us.
Sunday, July 16
9:55 a.m. Breakfast with [comic writer] Ed Brubaker and his wife, Mel. I’m a huge fan of his. He just won the Eisner for Criminal: The Last of the Innocent. He has an infectious laugh.
12:25 p.m. I drive back to L.A., no problems.
3 p.m. Arrive home. Such a whirlwind, I can’t tell my wife a coherent version of events.
3:25 p.m. Damn. Found the codpiece.
The Walking Dead returns Oct. 14.
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