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On Friday, the convention kicked into full gear, with more people in attendance than the previous two days and the start of the big ticket programming in Hall H (The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones). Many of those following the TV programming at the Con opted for Ballroom 20, with Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. among the highlights. Once again, I opted for smaller rooms, starting with the Indigo Ballroom. Unfortunately, given the popularity of the programming that morning, including Cartoon Network’s Adventure Time (always a big hit at the Con) and the Adult Swim lineup, it took quite a while to get in to the room. On the plus side though, the line was a lot of fun, with a ridiculous number of creative, fun costumes (see the bottom of the post for more).
By the time I got in for The Venture Bros. panel, the panel had already been introduced, but thankfully I didn’t miss much more. Not only were creators Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer a hilarious duo, looking resplendent in their Venture Industries jumpsuits, but they were joined by Patrick Warburton, who voices Brock on the show. The mere visual of the slight Hammer next to the built Warburton, consistently calling to mind Dr. Venture and Brock, was entertaining, but the group also played well off of each other. The floor was almost immediately opened to audience Q&A and the fans didn’t disappoint. Almost all of the questions were directed towards the creators , leaving Warburton with little to say, but we did get a few entertaining tidbits from him, including that his teenaged son had come dressed in Shore Leave cosplay. Warburton’s deadpan response; “Takes balls.” We also got to see a few clips from the finale, which would air the next Sunday, and the panel ended with a #21 cosplay contest, the winner receiving the T-shirt #21 finds left for him in the finale.
Immediately following Venture Bros. was Childrens Hospital and NTSF:SD:SUV::, one after the other. The audience for the two understandably overlaps, as did the comic sensibilities of the panelists, who spent much of each panel messing with the sign language translator, the highlight being Rob Huebel’s elaborate ploy to frame the translator for poisoning the audience. There was also a general interest in the signs for various profane words, gestures, or idioms. All of which was, of course, hilarious. We also got to see the season premiere for each show (which both feature great guest stars and kick off their respective seasons in tremendous fashion) and fans had plenty of time for Q&A. Surprisingly, though the crowd seemed to be enjoying both panels, we did run out of questions for Childrens Hospital, a possible lull avoided when Paul Scheer came to the mic and revived the #Suits gag from last year, and most of the NTSF:SD:SUV:: questions ended up being for Doctor Who alum Karen Gillan, who joins the cast this season. Scheer moderated the NTSF panel and added to the fun by running a Best Pun contest among the audience questioners. The winning pun, “Will Martin Starr in more episodes or will Paul Scheer his role down as it #Suits him?”, was announced to thunderous applause and it’s remarkable how much of a difference a simple game like this can make in an audience’s experience at ComicCon.
I headed out of the Indigo Ballroom after this to catch up with some soon to be leaving buddies over by the Adult Swim funhouse (I got a ticket but ended up ditching the line that evening after finding out it was at least an hour wait) and afterward headed back to the convention center to get in line for Orphan Black, over two hours ahead of time. I made it in to Max Brook’s personality panel (where he discussed his work, both past and future), but the line was incredibly long and after the Star Wars panel a couple hours before Orphan Black, very few people in the vicinity were there for anything else. Brooks wisely kicked off his panel by doing a poll of the audience- only about a third were there for him, the rest were camping for Orphan Black and he adjusted his presentation accordingly.
Unsurprisingly for any who have read The Zombie Survival Guide or World War Z, Brooks is a very intelligent and entertaining man and he kept the hour moving smoothly, first discussing the World War Z film and his reaction to it, then introducing his work to the Orphan Black crowd and presenting his philosophy on genre storytelling, and finally ending with audience Q&A, which also went smoothly. In the meanwhile, people from BBC America went through the hallway outside the room, handing out swag exclusively to those in line. Everyone already inside, already guaranteed to see the panel, missed out, but those who may have just sat in line for hours to no avail at least got a couple sweet Clone Club buttons.
The final panel for the day was Orphan Black, which blew the roof off of the 500-person room to which it was so foolishly relegated. The creators, along with series stars Tatiana Maslany, Jordan Gavaris, and Dylan Bruce came out to a wall of applause and cheering and the party atmosphere continued on from there. There were several character-centric montages screened for the room, seemingly designed to introduce new viewers to the show, but fun as these were, most of the audience would have preferred more time with the panel, asking Q&A and just seeing them interact. Also screened was a behind the scenes package detailing the process for filming the various Maslany-Maslany scenes that was incredibly interesting without diminishing the magic or impact of these scenes. The panel was clearly bowled over by the fan reaction, both here and online, and they expressed appreciation towards the fans for making the show the underground hit it’s become. Along with finding out when next season will air (April 2014) and getting an intriguing list of accents Maslany would (or would not) like to explore, fans got to hear Gavaris bust out some Taylor Swift, as he had earlier in the day at the Nerd HQ Orphan Black cast panel, and the creators discuss Gavaris’ affinity for Fe’s nudity. It was a truly electric room, with energy bouncing off the walls and out into the corridors, and was one of the absolute highlights of the Con this year.
Friday ended with some much needed quiet time in a near-abandoned pizzeria, going through the day’s notes and enjoying some Springsteen. Next up, Small Room Saturday, with Ray Bradbury, Adventure Time, Strike Back, and Grimm.