San Diego Comic Con 2017 kicked off on Thursday, July 20th. It was warm and humid, but the weather acted as a fitting welcome, as myself and thousands of other fans entered the convention center’s doorways, halls and massive ballrooms. For the first time in a long time, my programming schedule seemed sort of light – which allowed time to explore the convention floor and attend some fascinating panels. Here are the highlights of everything I saw today.

Before getting into things, a quick run of the convention floor included a chance encounter with fellow composer Michael Giacchino, an easy highlight with the icon coming off of two major scores, Spider-Man: Homecoming and War for the Planet of the Apes!

The first panel of the con was Mondo Mania. Mondo creative directors Rob Jones, Eric Garza, Jay Shaw and artists Tom Whalen and Jason Edmiston discussed how they became involved with the company and how it grew to become a pop culture empire.

-Jones said that Mondo was born out of an idea he had for gig posters. Convinced that film screenings should have their own artwork, his idea was applied to the Alamo Drafthouse’s Rolling Roadshow. The traveling film tour allowed films to be seen at some of their respective shooting locations, and like that, Mondo was born. From Jones: “So you’d see The Poseidon Adventure on the Queen Mary or Goldfinger at Fort Knox… Which I can’t believe actually happened. You’d think it would be a national security risk.”

-Outside of the Hollywood studio system, Mondo is the only studio whose artwork is archived by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science.

-The first soundtrack Mondo ever worked on was for William Lustig’s Maniac. Getting into the soundtrack business was difficult, because they not only have to secure music rights for each release, but go through the studio to get new art approved – I’d say it was a worthy gamble, as Mondo’s vinyl collection has grown to be one of the best out there.

In between panels, I made it a point to seek out Matt Patterson and DW Ferranti of Warner Archive. WA is one of the “best kept” secrets of SDCC – literally setting up shop somewhere on the exhibit hall floor and giving away DVDs and other cool items. Being a huge fan of its singular collection, I couldn’t resist picking up a copy of The Island of Dr. Moreau. Matt and Dan are two of my favorite people to meet up with at conventions – their love of movies and knowledge is great, fun, and makes you excited to dive deeper into the WA library of hidden gems.

The second panel of the day, and last major event was a childhood dream come true – A Goosebumps panel with legend R.L. Stine!. Before the actual panel began, Adam Neese of Comic Con International presented Stine with the Inkpot Award, a prize given to individuals for their contributions to various media – to which he had to say: “Everyone’s being too nice to me, I never get that at home!” Stine then took the stage and handled the packed room to discuss his work – Goosebumps, Fear Street and even his comedy writing. Stine kept the audience in stitches, cracking jokes and keeping the overall mood light. Highlights from the panel include:

-Stine revealed that the name Goosebumps came from browsing TV Guide. He saw a Local TV channel saying something to the effect of, “It’s Goosebumps week on Channel 11!.” Immediately, he knew that was the perfect name for his new horror series.

-Stine commented on the contrast between writing for adults and children. “If the horror is too real, kids won’t like it. But for adults, if the horror isn’t real enough it doesn’t work.”

-A Goosebumps comic book series is on the way from IDW.

-20th Century Fox is going to try a new distribution tactic with their upcoming slate of three Fear Street films – they’ll be released almost simultaneously in June, July, and August of next year, something Stine’s very excited about.

-Stine’s son Matt has never read a single Goosebumps book, but the summer camp he attended served as the inspiration for Welcome to Camp Nightmare.

All in all, today was a great day to kick off the King Con of all cons. As usual, there were unexpected surprises, laughs and never a dull moment. Stay tuned for more…

Random pics from the floor: