When: July 14-17, 2005 Where: San Diego Convention Center, San Diego, CA. The world’s largest annual convention of popular culture.

11:30 AM – 12:30 PM

Is that Your Sword, or Are You Just Unhappy to See Me? Writing Fight Scenes

Epic fantasy means epic battles, both large and small. Our panel of
writers work hard to make the sword as mighty as the pen.

Authors: James Clemens, Robert Jordan, R. A. Salvatore, Eldon Thompson, Jim Butcher
Moderator: Maryelizabeth Hart

Autographing to follow immediately in the official Autograph Area

Eldon had the following to say about his first experience as a professional at Comic-Con:

"The trouble with Comic-Con is, where to begin? Okay, perhaps that dreadfully slow-moving line in which my friend Kevin and I stood for more than two hours in order to pick up our pre-registration packets. The convention staff members were pleasant enough, and extremely apologetic, so I suppose there’s no real cause for irritation. Still, I must say I’m glad I chose to pick up my materials the night before my panel, rather than waiting until the morning of.

The panel itself, moderated by Maryelizabeth Hart of Mysterious Galaxy bookstore, was great fun. The only disappointment was that R. A. Salvatore was unable to attend. I tried to steal his nameplate and pretend that I was him, but Maryelizabeth wasn’t going to let that fly. So I was stuck being myself—a letdown for more than just me, I’m sure.

The other panelists, however, seemed to hardly miss a beat. Things started off with a bang when Maryelizabeth asked what sort of real-life battle experience any of us had, and Robert Jordan stunned many in attendance with a brief accounting of those he had killed while serving as a soldier in Vietnam. A shocked and respectful silence ensued, as it seemed no one knew quite how to respond. But Maryelizabeth deftly pulled things together, and the discussion went on. Fortunately, both James Clemens and Jim Butcher sat before me in line, and were able to liven things up a bit by the time it got around to me. Because all I had to talk about was mock battles with my brothers while growing up, and football—a far cry from Vietnam.

A group autographing session followed. Man, oh man, does that Robert Jordan have a lot of fans! I hung in there until the end, chatting with the others and listening to stories from Mr. Jordan and his wife, Harriet. Afterwards, the stories continued, as they invited my friend Kevin and I to lunch. Along the way, we encountered yet another Jordan fan—Wonder Woman! I’m not sure if it was really her, mind you, but she certainly looked the part. In any case, lunch was terrific: good food, kind advice, and great stories. To both Robert and Harriet, my heartfelt thanks.

And all of that on day one!

Of course, the rest of it is a bit of a blur. That tends to happen at Comic-Con, as anyone who has been there will understand. The exhibition hall is cavernous, with more sights and sounds than any one person can absorb. On top of that, there are the ongoing programming sessions, with so many topics that it becomes difficult to choose which ones to attend. And of course, there you are in the San Diego harbor, adjacent to the famous Gaslamp district, where once again, you could spend an entire day and night without ever growing bored. Thus, here are some highlights, in no particular order:

Running into the Dabel Brothers, producers of high-quality graphic adaptations of George R. R. Martin’s The Hedge Knight, Robert Jordan’s New Spring, and more.

Hanging out in our hotel room, with an excellent view down into Petco Park, where the San Diego Padres had a homestand against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Chatting with Anne Groell, who edits George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, and who singlehandedly held down her publisher’s exhibition booth.

Picking up a box of candy Red Hots in special packaging used to promote Christopher Paolini’s forthcoming book, Eldest. Someone in marketing had a fun time with that one!

Having dinner with friends Will and Kevin and film producer Ryan Colucci, followed by an encounter with the most inebriated man I’ve ever seen who was still on his feet. Of course, after watching him wander off into the middle of oncoming traffic, I have to wonder how long he stayed that way.

Chatting at the Del Rey booth with Betsy, Jennifer, and Colleen, who introduced me to none other than Mr. Orson Scott Card. Mr. Card went so far as to purchase a copy of The Crimson Sword and have me sign it for him. Bit of a surreal moment there, though one I’m not likely to soon forget.

Loitering around the Mysterious Galaxy booth, trying to help out, but mostly just getting in the way.

Heading into town for an advance screening of the film, The Island, only to stand in line for an hour and not get in.

Viewing the costume exhibit from the forthcoming film, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.

Devouring the "Earthquake" ice cream platter at Ghirardelli’s dessert shop along with my brother Neil and a couple of friends, Damian and Teah. For the record, I’m confident that either Neil or I could have polished it off ourselves.

There was all of that and more. Comic-Con truly is an audiovisual feast for fans of all ages and across all entertainment mediums. You really have to see it to believe it.

On Sunday, we went to the Hotel del Coronado to partake of their champagne brunch. Quite a sight. Almost too pretty to eat. Almost. My friends Damian and Teah picked up the tab and managed to do it without fainting. Brave souls, I must say. A trip to the San Diego Zoo, a nice dinner, and before we knew it, the weekend was over.

I’m not even sure what I enjoyed most. Certainly, I owe a debt of thanks to Maryelizabeth and Patrick and the rest of the Mysterious Galaxy crew. Also, to Robert and Harriet Jordan, James Clemens, Jim Butcher, and Orson Scott Card. It’s so nice to be able to meet professionals who are kind and down-to-earth and not nearly as snooty as they’ve earned the right to be. And of course, thanks to the fans who made me feel as if I actually belonged there. With any luck, I’ll see them all again next year."