This isn't my first Comic-Con by a long shot, but it's my first since 1999, and tonight was my first-ever experience of preview night. I'd been told (read: warned) by friends that the 21st century version of Comic-Con only vaguely resembled the comparably quaint Comic-Con of my "youth."

Boy, they weren't kidding. Not only does the convention center seem to have doubled in size, but there were aisles that were as crowded tonight (on preview night!) as I remember them being at their most crowded on a Saturday afternoon back in that bygone era affectionately known as the '90s. Another observation: the area that used to be artist's alley now seems to have become "comic book alley" ... almost as if the titular raison d'etre of the show has been shuffled off into a corner. To be fair, I'm overemphasizing here to make a point, but trust me, there is more than a germ of truth in my words -- most of the prime real-estate of the convention floor is now taken up by movie studios and tv shows, and while many of them are based on comics (either directly or indirectly), something just doesn't seem quite right about this development.

Make no mistake, however, Comic-Con is THE place to be this week if you're into pop culture. It's all here: comics, movies, tv, gaming, books, toys ... hell, even the rock 'n' roll base is covered what with Glenn Danzig manning a booth and Henry Rollins putting in an appearance on Saturday afternoon at the IFC booth.

And what a glorious cavalcade of culture it is. To help give you some idea, here are just a few of the photos Dooley and I snapped while wandering the preview night floor:

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