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Food Notes from San Diego Comic-Con International 2012

From cosplay to an Anthony Bourdain-penned graphic novel to a History Channel cookout, food made its presence known
 Food Notes from San Diego Comic-Con International 2012

Think Comic-Con has nothing to do with food? Think again. Food is everywhere. It’s funny, after all, how something can be worked into pop culture when one encounters it every day. We spent three full days at Con and got more than a taste of the food-related action. Here’s what we saw:


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On Friday, we saw a panel about new Cartoon Network show Annoying Orange, based on the popular web show of the same name.


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The panel premiered a Comic-Con themed clips in which the fruits gain superpowers and become “Fruit-vengers.”



Immediately after that we saw a panel for Cartoon Network’s Regular Show, which we adore and have written about before on this very site when it poked fun at food truck trends. At the panel, voice actor and storyboarder Sean Szeles led the crowd in a medley held together by “Aw Snap,” a song about a macaroni party.


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Then they gave viewers a sneak peek at tonight’s episode, in which Muscle Man gets into a brawl with a rowdy maître d’ and a gang of waitstaff thugs over a fancy crème brûlée.

On Saturday, the panel we had at the top of our agenda was DC Comics All-Access: Original Graphic Novels. Why? Because sandwiched between the creators of the also exciting-sounding novels Batman: Earth One and Superman: Earth One was the team behind the brand-new Get Jiro! In particular, Anthony Bourdain, who was on hand to explain some of the finer points of the creative process behind building a world in which chefs battle in the streets over whether or not to put cheese in tacos and decapitating a customer for drenching their quality nigiri in soy sauce is “considered perfectly reasonable and appropriate behavior.”



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On finding the right artist to take on the job: “We were asking people to believe in a world where killing people over food is acceptable,” he explained, illustrating the importance of an artist that could render a world (and food especially) that people would believably fight for. When he and co-creator Joel Rose came across Langdon Foss, he said, “our heads simultaneously exploded from too much awesomeness.”

On the graphic novel-writing process: “I learned very early on that this is a visual medium,” said Bourdain. “You want to show people things. It’s not about your words. Yeah, the story is important – but without beautiful images and someone who can pace those in a dynamic way, all is lost.”

On how much the character of Jiro in the comic is based on Jiro Ono of Tokyo’s Sukiyabashi Jiro, a known favorite restaurant of Bourdain’s: “Jiro is an 85-year-old man and, as far as I know, has never wielded a blade at a customer -- but this is a guy who goes to bed every night thinking about how he’s going to make those same 25 cuts of nigiri better than the day before, and jogs two miles every day so he doesn’t look pathetic in front of his customers. That attention to excellence… and the pain I know he feels … are certainly influenced by Jiro and other sushi chefs I’ve known.” He recounted several occasions eating out at sushi bars where he’s wanted to reach out and punch another customer, adding: “there’s a lot of wishful thinking in this book."

On his favorite place to eat when visiting San Diego: “You’re really gonna hate this answer... Mexico.”


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Then we absconded with our managing editor to the exclusive Wired Café at the Omni Hotel for refreshments. Drinks crafted by the Omni’s bar management team and inspired by Game of Thrones? Yes, please.


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We sampled the Fire and Ice, which was just sweet enough with a fiery kick from the freshly muddled jalapenos. Kristin sampled the other two, and confirmed that they had unexpected punches of their own as well – much like a shocking assassination or plot twist, making them live up the show they were created to represent.


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Further outside the official perimeter of the San Diego Convention Center, the History Channel had set up its 80-ft smoker and grill for its Cross-Country Cookout. We snagged ourselves a spicy sausage filled with cheese, and it was delicious.  


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Further away still, Ralphs had some smart marketing ideas going on.


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How could a Comic-Con attendee, heading wearily to the Horton Plaza bus stop after a long day of sprinting to panels (or waiting in line) or slogging through the exhibition hall, even hope to resist?

And lest you think that the food at Comic-Con was all about the professionals, it’s also about another crucial element: the fans. Cosplayers brought the foodservice spirit throughout the entire weekend, from new twists on the easily recognizable…


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…to cult classics


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…to true heroes


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All in all: a pretty excellent way to spend a weekend. We highly recommend it. 


[PHOTOS: ours, except the Fire and Ice comes courtesy of Allie Schratz]

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