Denver Comic-Con Day 3: William Shatner’s Comic-Connnn Panel, Creating DCC Traditions, and Some Assorted Convention Musings.
There’s a saying that goes “All good things must come to an end” and Denver Comic-Con is no exception. Today marks the third and final day of Denver Comic-Con. This morning we decided to wear our Dharma Initiative jumpsuits and therefore creating a personal Denver Comic-Con tradition as we did the same thing last year. We arrived to another big line, but due to the snaking line, it didn’t seem like we were so far back being an hour ½ early. Due to yesterday’s line stretching pretty far with our early arrival for Takei wristbands, we decided to arrive early anyway regardless of if we’d luck out on getting a wristband to see William Shatner’s panel or not.
The line seemed more fun today with less bitching about the wait and more fun costumes and photo taking. We stood next to a family of hobbits with cardboard ears and then saw a Gandalf arrive. I know a wizard is never late, but he really was late with not being near us yesterday when we were decked out in Hobbit outfits. Also in the line, we saw some teenagers dressed as Dean Winchester and Castiel from Supernatural, a King Arthur from Monty Python and The Holy Grail, New Avengers Loki, and an adult Jayne from Firefly posing in a picture of a kid as Jayne too. I also nearly got in a embarrassing situation while doing a “I don’t get it rant” about “Bronies” (aka guys that freaking *LOVE* My Little Pony), which has gained some attention in the last year, but little did I know that a few feet behind me was “Mega-Bronie Prime” who was decked out in lots of My Little Pony stuff. Oops! When the line began to shift inside, we were lucky again and were able to score a wristband to see William Shatner’s panel later in the day.
Our first panel today was a cartoon voices panel. Next to the Tron reunion panel last year, the cartoon voices panel featuring Billy West among others was a personal favorite. This year, there were plenty of animation guests but only two voice actors showed up for Sunday’s edition. Khary Payton and Ellyn Stern were the panelists this morning. I was somewhat looking forward to seeing Phil LaMarr, but mainly due to him being best known to me as “Marvin” from Pulp Fiction (“Aw man! I shot Marvin in the face” ) however, he didn’t arrive. The panel was still very fun to watch. Ellyn Stern is best known for dubbing English voices in popular anime and has been a voice actress and director for over 30 years. I expressed in yesterday’s column that I’m not an anime fan at all, so I wasn’t familiar with her work. However, I was very interested to hear that she recently directed a Navajo language version of Star Wars, which is the first Native American language version of the movie. I thought that was very cool.
Her co-panelist Khary Payton is best known as voicing the character of Cyborg in Teen Titans among others. Due to the early Sunday morning vibe and the half-full room, he suggested that we can all go back to sleep and he’ll talk to us in Aqualad’s voice, describing it as “very soothing”. He answered the first question on getting a start in voice acting by saying he lucked out with his connections when he was trying to be an actor and landed on Teen Titans as one of his first gigs. When both panelists were asked about what steps they’d recommend for starting in a career, Payton said that it took a lot of hard work and connections and Stern said that in addition, you need to be aware that in every convention she goes to whether it’s New York, San Diego, London or Ireland that there’s people wanting to achieve the same thing to illustrate that it’s a competitive market. She also suggested that location is a key factor and said that New York, California and Texas are the big places to break into voice acting and suggested Texas as possibly being the best place to get a foot in the door.
When asked what the weirdest thing they had to voice, Payton said he voiced a couch which they wanted it to have a deep, sultry voice, but he instead gave it a sort-of Bootsy Collins Voice. Stern said that she once voiced a little piece of shrimp that enjoyed being eaten.
After the cartoon voices panel, we immediately went to room 501 to catch the “Working with Weadon” panel featuring J. August Richards (Angel) and Clare Kramer (Buffy The Vampire Slayer). I haven’t really watched much Buffy or Angel, but I mainly wanted to attend the panel to see if J. August Richards would bring up Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in which he’ll be a member of the cast. So when the panel opened up the floor for questions, I asked him if there’s anything he could tell us about his role. He completely dodged the question (as expected) and said “I decided this weekend to invent a drinking game where if I’m asked anything that I can’t answer, I’ll take a drink” and he immediately poured a glass of water and took a drink. But he did say “I can tell you it’s called Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Coulson Lives, and Don’t touch Lola!” Earlier in the panel, he talked about wanting to act after seeing Star Wars and wanting to be Luke Skywalker and said that it somewhat came back full circle with the upcoming show.
When asked about the best memory of working on set, Clare Kramer said that there was an episode of Buffy featuring snakes and for some reason the snakes were kept in a paper-mache cage and one escaped and disappeared into the walls and said that Joss Weadon after telling them moments ago that they may want to stand in their chairs decided to try to shoot anyway, but Sarah Michelle Gellar said no (she carries some weight and got her wish). J. August Richards said that he and Joss Weadon would do an impromptu Othello. He also said that with Weadon, no matter how big the show or movie is, that he makes it seem like they are just doing community theater with him rather than a big multi-million dollar show or film.
When asked what Joss Weadon movie or show that they wish they could be on, both immediately said “The Avengers”. J. August said that outside Wheadon he’d love to have been on 3’s Company as a brand new 4th roommate named Jamal with the 70s basketball player look. One thing that I really liked about this panel is that as fun as Doctor Who and Cartoon voices were, it seemed that the male panelist would dominate a majority of the panel just with being long winded and less shy. This one, however, was very evenly balanced between the two.
After the panel, we walked out of the room and immediately got in the line to go back in for Nelsan Ellis, best known as Lafayette from True Blood. He was asked that as a straight man, how does he find inspiration when playing Lafayette. He said that most of Lafayette is channeled through his momma, a southern lady named Peaches, who he describes as a tomboy, but she also likes to play with imaginary hair and does a number of things that he incorporates into the character of Lafayette. He spoke a bit about his school days at Julliard and said that it was “fucking hell on earth”. He also talked a bit about his upcoming movie “The Butler” in which he portrays Dr. Martin Luther King.
As expected he was asked a lot of True Blood questions. Here’s some of the most memorable:
-Someone asked him what it was like kissing Steven Root. Nelsan said that “he’s a good kisser”.
-A guy asked about Rutina Wesley’s (plays Tara) availability. He said she’s taken by a very big very proud husband.
-He said the funniest moment he could think of on True Blood was a scene where a big fat naked guy was brought in but the actor had to keep himself “at a respectable size” and that the actor would have to “prep himself” to get the desired look, but he was basically in front of the other actors and himself and they had trouble not laughing.
-I asked him what his favorite part about being on the set of True Blood was , to which he answered “The nudity. We have a lot of Europeans involved in the show.”
-He was also asked about the new season but he couldn’t tell us anything about it but did say that he hopes Lafayette survives. “I like playing Lafayette. He pays the bills. He’s my friend!”
-How he feels about Lafayette’s emotional roller-coaster over the last few seasons: “I keep wondering when I am going to stop crying on the show!” “I pray for Lafayette. Lafayette is going through some shit!”
-If Lafayette would ever “change teams”: He said that he doesn’t think so, but made up a Lafayette line he’d use in that situation for the show: “Bitch I don’t do fish”.
-If he enjoys voice acting: Nelsan said that he played Dionysus the god of alcohol and sex and said “I like drinking and I like having sex, so I was good with it.”
Overall, his panel was really fun and I consider it one of the top panels for this year.
We had one more panel to attend this morning: William Shatner!! We made the quick hop across the hall to the Main Event ballroom to catch his panel. The pre-credit star theme from Star Trek: The Motion Picture was playing as people found their seats. Shatner was introduced to a thunderous applause. He started the panel by launching into a very long story about his Doberman “Starbuck” and freezing the semen of his dog, years later to soften the inevitable old-age and death of Starbuck, he drove to a vet office outside of Austin to pick up puppies fertilized with Starbuck’s semen (and Starbuck’s father’s semen as well who the vet somehow had), drove through a massive thunderstorm with hail in a car he didn’t care about (it was a rental) with his new puppies “Mocha” and “Expresso” , brought them home and remarked how they were struck with wonder and amazement with things like lightbulbs and TVs all to tie into a story about curiosity breathing into advancements in science and technology. He said like the puppies with the lightbulb, we need to see things like dark matter, dark energy and alternate universes with the same regard. He then ended the long story by saying “Next Question!”. It was the most William Shatner-y story and introduction one can expect.
-He was asked to perform the opening Monologue of Star Trek and responded by yelling “WHAT!!!???? I’VE NEVER SEEN THAT SHOW BEFORE!” He obliged by having the crowd feed him a sentence and he’d perform it overdramatically for the first few lines and then said “AND SO ON AND SO FORTH!”
– He was asked about being The Big Giant Head on 3rd Rock From The Sun!!!
– On performing the first interracial kiss on TV: “Well, Nichelle’s lips were very moist. The script said to kiss her so I did!” he did address the controversy of TV stations in the south wanting to pull the episode by saying “They weren’t as informed then, I hope they’re more informed now”.
– Someone mentioned Twilight Zone (Nightmare at 20,000 Feet!!!!) and asked what his most memorable villain on the show was. Shatner said “I don’t count villains, I count the women. Many of them were villainous.” He talked about working with the late Ricardo Montalban said that “His pecs put me to shame”.
– He gave a speech therapy lesson to a very, very fast talking nervous fan who asked about Star Trek V. Shatner said “Five is my favorite movie, it had the best director!” (Shatner directed it) He talked about how he envisioned the Enterprise crew venturing out in space to find God, but finding the Devil instead. But had some issues with the studio about offending people, so he had to compromise to make it an alien seeing himself as God.
– Someone asked what he had to do to prepare the character of Captain Kirk. Shatner responded by saying “I *AM* James Tiberius Kirk!!” he talked about acting and how he hopes when he dies that it’s on a stage in front of a crowd so they can all say “Aww he’s dead”
– Promoted his new Album collaborated with Billy Sherwood of Yes called “Ponder the Mystery” which will release later this summer.
After Shatner’s panel, we met up with our friend Heather and went downtown to grab lunch. On our way to Illegal Petes (20% off bill with DCC badge), I saw my friend the gianormous Galactus. During lunch, I decided to have a glass of Breckenridge Brewery’s Comic-Con beer “The Caped Brusader”, a wheat beer brewed with Budda’s Hand fruit. I’ve had it at a launch party a month ago and it’s much better than last year’s “Fantastic Pour”. We caught up a bit, “Bronies” came up again as well. On our way back to the convention center we looked at some of the Street Chalk Art Festival artwork but there were a lot of people and with wearing jumpsuits in the heat, we didn’t stick around very long.
Once inside, we decided to explore the floor a bit and took some photos at the Far Away Creations Star Wars booths. This time around we posed with one of those face in a hole paintings, a dinner table with a Jawa and since she was wearing an R2-D2 shirt, we had to get a photo of Heather with one of the R2-D2s on the floor! We saw a few more great costumes this afternoon. Some of my favorites were Mr. T and a really awesome Oscar the Grouch costume.
After visiting a few booths and everything, we made our way to our final panel. Like last year we decided to end our Comic-Con weekend with the Pro Artist Draw-Off panel, which is sort of like a drawing version of “Who’s Line is it Anyway” in which the audience suggest topics which end up being what the artist needs to draw. Today we have Tone Rodriquez (artist Violent Messiahs, Kiss, Simpsons), Jim Mahfood (Clerks, Everyone Loves Tank Girl) and Fiona Staples (artist, Co-Creator of Saga) whom I unfortunately missed her spotlight panel yesterday, so I was glad to see this. The first round was called “Thought Balloons” which the artists all drew a thought balloon on a blank canvas and then the audience was asked to suggest a random phrase or question and the artist had to draw the situation. Suggestions were “Why would you steal a turnip?” which Tone Rodriquez drew a hungry version of himself, “Well that was Awkward” which Fiona Staples drew a person on-stage that had their head fall off and “Oh No! A Scorpion shark” which Jim Mahfood drew a really extremely bored daydreaming girl eating cereal. Second round the audience was asked to suggest an animal and then a superhero and then the artist had to draw the animal/hero mix. So with that we got a Honey Badger version of The Tick, a platypus Deadpool and a Seal version of Harley Quinn. Next round the audience was asked to suggest an animal, a adjective, and a sport in which the artists had to draw based on those decisions such as the baseball playing crunchy pugs or the luminous cricket playing gator, or the quidditch playing bunny. The next round the audience was asked to suggest a famous person. I suggested Teddy Roosevelt which was used along with John Wilkes Booth and Tesla. The artist were to ask if that person tagged (aka graffiti) something what they would paint. Apparently Teddy Roosevelt would call himself Rosey and say “Politics son!” (sorry for blurriness)
The final round the artists would start a panel on a suggested genre like horror for kids, Sci-fi and noir and then they’d switch to draw the next panel on the other person’s canvas to tell a improve 3 panel story. After the panel, I tried to claim the Graffiti Teddy Roosevelt drawing but like 7 or 8 people wanted it too so I didn’t get to claim it :(. This panel is a really fun way to cap off Denver comic-con for me. I feel that it’s the right amount of silliness to end the day with and I really hope they continue not only bringing the panel back, but keeping it in it’s end of day Sunday timeslot.
This was a fun comic-con for me as I made the transition to con-newbie to becoming something of a DCC veteran. I think I would place myself in the “what kind of Comic-Con goer I’d be” category as a mix between Cosplay as the costumes aren’t required in the least bit but it’s fun to wear something fun and silly and take fun photos, and a panel junkie. I don’t want to spend all of the weekend standing around posing in photos while in costume, but I also want to explore the floor instead of panel jumping all day. So I’m a good even mix of the two. I am ready for next year to return as the seasoned DCC vet, making suggestions to the noobs, and mapping out my “battleplans” on panels to attend and people to visit. Next year’s going to be fun! I just ask that the organizers start courting Bruce Campbell now (I’ll totally get a VIP pass for that).
Closing Thoughts, Rants, and Stats (aka the part I sum up things and rant a bit on topics…..So you can stop reading now if you wish)
Most Popular Costume: Definitely some demon character from the webcomic Homestuck, so many teenagers dressed like it. I got excited at first thinking it was Midna from Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess but it wasn’t and I had to research what it was. There were plenty of Doctor Horrible/Captain Hammer and Penny costumes and there was a yellow and orange sea of Jayne hats from Firefly.
Best Panels: Doctor Who with Collin Baker and Daphne Ashbrook, didn’t have to be a Doctor Who fan to enjoy it. Also loved Nelsan Ellis and Wil Wheaton was fun as well and made this video before his panel.
Best Kid Costumes: Three-way tie between the kid dressed as a Dalek, baby Doc Ock and a little girl (maybe 2 or 3 years old) dressed as Hawkgirl. She was awesome and was running down the hall happy as can be with her mace.
Favorite Group Costume: There were tons of the Firefly gang, but I loved the 2 girls and one guy dressed as Leelo from The 5th Element (pic on Day 2 review).
The Great Autograph Debate:
Ok ranty-time: I did kind of get a slight unintentional burn when asking an artist to sign a comic for me when he told me to buy a print and he’d sign everything I wanted him to. He was there to sell prints and he was trying to sell me one, but at the same time it came off as border-line dickish to a degree although I’m 100% sure in retrospect that wasn’t the intention and I still like his art and I’m still a big fan of him. But it does bring up the taboo topic of autograph charging. Celebrity actors are one thing, but I feel books and comics are a bit different and I’m very open to hearing a debate on the subject for those interested in stepping on a soapbox for a bit. For me: 99% of the people that I approached were more than happy to sign a comic of mine and talk to me about the comics they wrote or drew. It was awesome. Some even asked if I wanted it personalized to which I said “oh hell yes” (unless a kid was nearby), because this is strictly for me and my collection. One day in a few decades maybe it’ll be passed down. To me, it demonstrates a person meeting another person that admires their work. In a pre-Ebay world, a charge for a signature came off as being a jerk move. Since then, I can almost see why some would instigate a charge for a signature especially if they think they’re signing for a fan and then the person sells it for a bit more than it would originally and just “use them to make money”. At the same time, they are successful because people like their stuff. It’s obvious that they had been supported fans by buying their books or artwork, so why charge to scribble a name on top of it? In the end it’s really just some scribbles, a receipt ,if you will proving that one day you met this person that you’re a fan of and it was probably and awesome experience. I do appreciate the ones that put a sign on their table. I was at least informed. But all the same, I love when someone is very happy to meet their fans and sign something for them without charging them. I walked out of this con having met the writers and artists of some of my favorite Deadpool and Spider-men comics, a very rapidly climbing artist, two of my favorite cover artists and neither of them charged to sign a comic. The effect of the generosity will last. I now plan to watch the animated Superman and the Elite or buying “It’s A Bird” after meeting Joe Kelly and Steven Segal despite not really being a big Superman fan. I also decided to try to buy a Fiona Staples print at her table Sunday after meeting her Friday but I didn’t make it back to the floor until after her signing hours. To me having a positive experience like that makes me say “this person is cool, I want to support them more now.” Plus the money spent for a signature could go to something cooler like a commission from an artist that I like or buying a book by a writer or something cool and hand-made at a merch table. A lot of thought over a quick scribble. If they charge, it’s their prerogative and obviously they have enough of a following to do it this is just my opinion over it.
Finally, About Those Long Lines
This con wasn’t without it’s faults. I need to address the elephant in the room regarding this year’s event. I wasn’t a fan of the gianormous line Friday to get in especially being between a “Bronie” and a guy that wouldn’t quit quoting anchorman for 2 1/2 hours. I was also bummed out that the early badge pick-up at the pre-party didn’t happen either due to a laminating issue. However, that was quite honestly the only issues that I had (eh save for the Superman 75th anniversary panel sans moderator). I have a feeling after seeing some of the suggested improvements come in this year that next year they’ll have a smoother entrance into the Convention center. The Con was hit pretty hard with a double dose of angry people. First, when Guest of Honor, Stan Lee bailed a week early due to having to film a cameo for Spider-man and then the attacks came this weekend over the long lines to go into the event. With the exception of Friday’s botched line, I didn’t share the same argument with the complainers overall. Any big ticket event is going to draw a large crowd and when there’s a large crowd, you get big lines and there’s a chance that it might sell-out. I have a feeling that most of these people complaining bought a single day or 2 day pass or planed to buy at the door and showed up right after the convention center opened their doors rather than before. The key next time is to show up early, and to buy tickets early as a 3 day pass ends up being a just a few dollars more compared to a single day. Otherwise, buying at the door you risk a higher ticket price, a LOONG Wait in line and a chance that the event sells out and you being sent home. Above all, complainers should keep in mind that this is a charity event for Comic Book Classroom; every dollar spent on badges goes directly into the program so it’s for a good cause. Either way, I’m already looking to next year!’
Denver Comic-Con Day 2: “Ohh Myy! It’s George Takei! Talking Daleks with Doctor Who, and Whhil Whheaton”
Denver Comic-Con 2013 in Review Part 1: Chewbacca Speaks, Meeting Artists/Writers and Disco Nightwing!