Comic-Con Packs it in for Preview Night

And it'll only get busier...

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The unofficial start of the four-day nerd-off that is Comic-Con International really began Wednesday evening, when doors opened to packed crowds at 6pm and filled the monstrous exhibition hall with the usual shoulder-to-shoulder traffic -- and the con hadn't even really begun. Just wait 'til Saturday.

Panels on all matter of comics, movies, television, and pop culture begin today, and everyone has the time and place of their Must See event committed to memory: the Iron Man panel; J.J. Abrams' top secret Star Trek casting announcement(s); the annual cos-play Masquerade on Saturday. But Preview Night was a different matter.

Seemingly thousands of eager fans made their way to the Convention Center to sneak an early peek at booths, snap up freebies, and ogle the gargantuan set ups on display from the likes of Warner Bros., Mattel, Sci, and more. Somewhere, lucky victors nabbed promo shields for the 300 DVD release; most toted along the complimentary branded plastic bags that get easily accumulated here.

Our initial survey of the floor showed lots of cool toys and collectibles, the usual writers' alley of table signing and on-the-spot illustration, and movie studios blasting their upcoming trailer reels overhead. A display of custom-painted Darth Vader helmets impressed. A slick life-sized Batmobile -- shiny black with hot orange piping sat begging for attention (and got plenty of it).

Today we?ll be hitting the Paramount panel, chock full of goodies (Iron Man, Star Trek, Beowulf, Indy 4) before seeing what Lionsgate has to offer (The Eye, Midnight Meat Train, Good Luck Chuck, Saw IV). Genius Products and The Weinstein Co. have brought in Grindhouse stars Sydney Tamiia Poitier, Danny "Machete" Trejo, and "Cherry Darling," who was spotted at Preview Night posing for pictures.

There's also a Fanboys panel, a George Romero panel, and a Cartoon Network sneak peek. Somewhere in the convention center, Uwe Boll is screening clips of his upcoming Postal. Ray Harryhausen, who is in his eighties, is on about a billion panels here. And there's that Shoot 'Em Up screening later tonight...

Check back for more updates from Comic-Con 2007, and head over to our gallery for photos!