NY Comic-Con Saturday: Annie's report
by Annie Wu, posted Feb 25th 2007 5:31PM
My femurs feel like they have been broken in several places and each step I take sends the sensation of broken glass into the soles of my feet. The odor of hordes of people still lingers around me, but I don't know where it's coming from because my clothes smell fine. Next to me, I have a large bag of various free things, half of which I don't need nor like (so much manga). You see, I have just spent the entire day at the New York Comic-Con. I shall share the story of my short Saturday with you, not just as a reporter, but also as a fan and a first-time convention-goer.
Upon closer inspection, I think the "hordes of people" smell is coming from my shoes. Ew. Convention feet.
All right, so... it all started around 11AM on Saturday. Almost immediately after I got my press badge at the convention center, I spotted Kevin Smith in the flesh and I silently freaked out over his Silent Bob jacket and growing bald spot. I called up my roommate and shouted at her for a bit, just to get the excitement out of my system. I couldn't possibly expend that frantic energy toward the stars themselves. I knew that I had to maintain journalistic integrity... And while maintaining my journalistic integrity, I managed to get myself lost for quite a long time. Here's the thing: As soon as I stepped into the Artists' Alley or the Dealer Alley or any of the Alley places, I was immediately sucked in and forced to follow the flow of the people. There were a few times when I accidentally walked in and had no choice but to follow along for a good fifteen minutes or so. On one of those trips through the Artists' Alley, I tried to make the best of it and talk to artist Bill Sienkiewicz and maybe ask him to sign my Venture Bros. Season One DVD (he did the inside triptych), but, even though his name was on his booth, he wasn't there. Boo. Instead, I had a chat with one of the guys sitting in Bill's booth, who happened to be working on a Dr. Girlfriend commission. The lesson for first-time convention people? Carefully study the floor plan of the convention center before arrival and be extra sure to create a tentative schedule of times and locations so that the day is not one full of chaos and repeated "EXCUSE ME!"s to a giant Pikachu standing in the aisles, holding up the crowd from getting to sessions on time.
The first TV-related session I managed to watch was Jhonen Vasquez's Q&A. Yeah. Jhonen Vasquez. The guy that did Invader Zim for Nickelodeon and Johnny the Homicidal Maniac and Squee comics. I was pretty surprised to see that he had his own Spotlight session, since I haven't heard about him in several years. Vasquez, sporting a very goth-chic style and no longer looking like he lives in Hot Topic, started things off by reading a crazy e-mail he recently received and making lots of snarky comments about it, line-by-line. It was then that I remembered why I was absolutely nuts over this guy back in middle school. I still think that Invader Zim was one of the greatest things to ever grace Nickelodeon and, apparently, I'm not the only one. A lot of people had Zim-related questions and actually seemed kind of desperate to make Vasquez say he despised his work with Nickelodeon. He kept insisting he didn't hate it, so I don't know why people persisted. Overall, Vasquez was a funny fellow and he definitely, definitely speaks the way he writes. He can really be painfully sarcastic to his fans, but I think the crowd accepted it pretty well because everyone seemed familiar with his style of work. Although he is still writing, he has no current plans to bring more of his work to television or movies. So, scrap any of those rumors you may have heard about a 2008 Zim return or a Johnny the Homicidal Maniac film. Additional notes: Vasquez no longer cares for the word "DOOM" or piggy jokes and doesn't understand why people keep asking him for hugs at conventions (he had denied a little girl at the microphone with a very solid "NO"... ouch). Favorite quote from the panel: "Kids love genocide!"
Since I wanted a good seat for my main event, the Venture Bros. panel, I went to the appropriate room and watched the session preceding it, which was MySpace's Mystery Artists Panel. There were three surprise guests, who turned out to be Garth Ennis, Jim Lee, and Steve Niles. Garth Ennis was the one I was most looking forward to hearing, because my friends have recently gotten into a six-year-late Preacher frenzy and because HBO is turning the series into a one-hour drama. Unfortunately, the show was only mentioned briefly when Ennis talked about casting unknowns. Earlier in the day I had picked up a copy of Wizard magazine, and there was an article in which the writer did a fantasy cast for the series: Casey Affleck as Jesse Custer, Elizabeth Banks as Tulip O'Hare, Aidan Gillen as Cassidy, John McGinley as Herr Starr, William Fightner as The Saint of Killers, and Justin Long as Arseface (that one made me chuckle for a good while). Anyway, the panel was quite good and deserved a much larger audience. And this isn't TV-related, but Lee let one of his fans look through some of his latest work, which he was just preparing to send out (it was in a FedEx envelope and everything). It's those kinds of gestures that guarantee fans for life. I hope you're taking notes, celebs.
As soon as the MySpace event was over and people started filing out, I jumped for a seat front and center. It was a good thing that I had stuck around from the previous session because a massive crowd made its way inside very quickly for the Venture Bros. and I'm not sure I would have had a very good seat if I came in even two or three minutes later. Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer walked in, wearing accidentally (?) coordinated outfits, and... Remember that journalistic integrity that I had talked about earlier? Yeah, I felt it rapidly slipping away. Very rapidly. I was turning into a panicky fan again. James Urbaniak (Doc Venture), Mike Sinterniklaas (Dean), and Steven Rattazzi (Doc Orpheus) soon followed and took their places at the table, just as the remainder of my calm slipped away. I frequent Urbaniak's blog, but I was still pretty surprised when he spotted me in the front row and recognized me. Later, Doc Hammer also said that he recognized me from his own blog. What have we learned? Annie really likes to read blogs and everyone knows it.
The panel kicked off with the Season Two DVD trailer (April 17th release... Write it down), which was absolutely hysterical. There was a strange hypnotic opening and lots of really funny lines, but I missed a big chunk of it because the people around me were cracking up so loudly. The clips from the live-action tour of the Astrobase intrigued me the most because, from what we saw, it looks like Soulbot will be jamming on guitar with Doc Hammer and informing us about the heart/love with Jackson Publick. What could be better than that? The promise of more off-topic creator commentary for every episode also garnered loud cheers.
The Q&A session itself was very enjoyable, even though there wasn't any new information. The only thing remotely new was Jackson Publick's announcement that Season Three is already in the works (possibly ready for next Spring) and that Season Four has been unofficially approved, but anyone that listened to his "The Sound of Young America" interview already knew that. There were a lot of off-topic questions, including one about which of the five panelists would be eaten first if they were all stuck on a deserted island. Doc Hammer seemed rather quick to answer that he'd have a bite out of Mike Sinterniklaas' ass first, but then backtracked to his vegetarian lifestyle and pondered the possibility of just having the island's fruit instead. And then Jackson Publick asked Doc if he'd eat his leghair. I'm sure this is the same kind of verbal gold we can expect on the DVD's creator commentary. Other topics of discussion included the art of "dabbing" ("Stop saying 'dab'!"), why there hasn't been much VB merchandise (Jackson and Doc don't really know either, but they want to get that started again), and inspiration and influences for writing and acting. An 11 year-old boy asked if the Scrotal Safety Commission was a real organization and that was... that was just a magical moment. Some audience members kept pushing for Season Three spoilers (someone even dared to ask for the end of Dr. Girlfriend's cliff-hanging "I'm..." sentence). Doc kept refusing to answer but promised that questions will be answered ("We're not Lost! We'll tell you!"). I wanted to hear Steven Rattazzi speak a little more, but he was the quietest one of the bunch. By the way, Sinterniklaas is Dean Venture. I mean, he is Dean Venture. If you ever get the chance to see or meet him, you will feel like you're talking to a real-life Dean Venture.
In the end, it was an excellent day. If I had planned things a little better, it would have been an even greater day. If you ever get the chance to see or talk to the Venture Bros. guys, definitely do so. They know how to work a crowd and keep their fans happy. And if you meet Jhonen Vasquez, don't ask him about bunnies.
By the way, this IGN Venture Bros. panel report is wrong in naming "Paul Pope". There is no Paul Pope of Venture Bros.. It was just Doc Hammer using a table place card that he found, because I don't think the Comic-Con folks made him a tag. The same thing happened at the San Diego Comic-Con. Poor Doc. No respect, no respect at all.