Wednesday night at San Diego Comic-Con was surprisingly crowded, with many creators remarking it was the busiest preview night they'd seen, although others said, "it's always crazy this way."
The lines to pick up badges moved at a steady pace (although the press pass line didn't), everyone anxious to get to the convention floor. Movies, TV shows and video games still overwhelm the show floor, with one of the newer and busiest presences being the "Dharma Initiative," who was taking "applications" from enthusiastic fans of the TV show Lost.
Convention-goers were taking pictures of themselves in poses beside everything from the Iron Man armor at Marvel's booth, to life-size Clone Wars characters and Jabba the Hutt, to the glowing Stargate from the TV show and film, to a life-size Batman Lego game character. The DC Online demo area had a crowd, and the Warner Bros. booth attracted people standing in the aisle staring at the monitor above their booth because it was running the Watchmen trailer.
Somewhere among all the video game demonstrations and Hollywood hubub, comics company booths were gearing up for a busy week of signings and activities. Image's booth looked a little different this year, with a huge poster down one side that had the words "Image United" above it and characters by various Image founders. A handful of creators sat at their tables in Artists Alley for preview night, their sketch lists filling up fast.
We stopped by the crowded Aspen booth, which was surrounded by fans, to talk with familiar faces and find out more about how company founder Michael Turner's friends are honoring his memory.
"For us, the convention is really all about Mike, as most of them always were," Aspen writer J.T. Krul told us.
The Apsen booth was giving away free "Remembered Always: Michael Turner" buttons, which we saw already placed on the lanyard of many attendees. The button has Turner's recognizable signature on it.
"And the thing we really like is there are three sketch books up here on the table, and we're just inviting anybody who wants -- fans, professionals, whatever -- anybody who enjoyed Mike's work or who enjoyed Mike as a person can come up and sign their name, they can write a little message to him if they want. They can do a sketch. They can do whatever they like," Krul said. "Our feeling was Mike always signed everybody else's books and drew for everybody else, and now it's our turn to kind of do it for him, so it's a good way to remember him. So anybody who wants to come by the booth and do it, it's going to be here all weekend."
As reported on Newsarama earlier this week, a tribute to Turner will take place on Sunday afternoon at the convention, where friends, colleagues and friends of the artist are invited to share memories.
"We have the regular Aspen panel on Saturday, but Sunday is going to be the special Michael Turner tribute from 1 to 2:30, and I'm sure the turnout's probably going to be pretty substantial for it. The comic book community will be able to come together and say what they want to say," Krul said. "It's been an experience for everybody. Even just being here Wednesday night, without Mike, it's strange, but it's good in a lot of ways, to be together with everyone."
Krul said he was amazed at the response from fans to the buttons and the sketchbooks -- as well as the memories they had of Turner, since so many had met him at conventions over the year.
"That's been the most amazing thing amongst everything that happened -- the tremendous outpouring of Mike's fans and friends," Krul said. "Just reading everything on the Aspen message boards, or the tribute thing you guys did on Newsarama. It just shows you what a great person he was, not only as an artist, but as a person."
Look for more FLOORBUZZ updates from the convention all week here on Newsarama.