AICN COMICS @$$HOLES ABROAD Con Report: Nutmeg reports back from this year’s 2013 New York Comic Con!
Hey guys, NutMeg here with the scoop from this year’s New York Comic Con. This year was packed with all kinds of entertainment, and it seems like the convention starts earlier each year for me and my hubby, the @$$hole known as Matt Adler, as we wind up attending pre-convention events even before the main show gets underway. After all, who doesn't want to show their stuff on the eve of one of the biggest fan gatherings in the world?
First up on Wednesday, we put on our game faces for a trip to the Square Enix party, where they showed off their latest titles. As old school as it is, KINGDOM HEARTS HD 1.5 REMIX was by far my favorite to play. I was always a fan of the original and will always have a love for this game. The graphics are truly immersive and I feel like I am right in the game with all the characters. I found it very easy to pick up at any point. This game is great for the young and the young at heart. I would buy a PS4 just for this game. Matt had to keep coming over and telling me “You know there are other games here to try, right?”
DEUS EX: HUMAN REVOLUTION DIRECTOR’S CUT is another update of a classic, and it’s a hacker’s dream as you explore a cyberpunk-themed dystopian future. It’s never the same game twice, because there are so many different ways to play, that it changes your game based on the options you choose. The Wii U capabilities are awesome. Wii U allows you to see the map ahead of time, marking off enemies so it helps you prepare for what’s coming. Wii U allows you to make notes for yourself and your friends who are also playing the game to help each other accomplish the goals you have. Other game systems will have similar options but structured differently than the Wii U. The Wii U also gives you the option to play the entire game on the handheld unit.
The game that people seemed most excited to play was THIEF, a reboot of the popular series which debuted in 1998. The storyline of the game is akin to Robin Hood in a medieval city, with the player robbing from the rich to give back to the poor. Although I was given prior instructions on how to play the game, I still found the controls a little tough to pick up, and found it difficult to see at times because you have to stay near dark areas in order to evade detection. Thief requires a lot of strategy, and if you don’t stay away from the guards, you’ll quickly wind up dead. However, the graphics are beautiful and the plot is exciting and suspenseful, so if you’re looking for a game that will keep you guessing, Thief is for you.
LIGHTNING RETURNS: FINAL FANTASY XIII, the long-awaited next installment in the Final Fantasy saga, perhaps gives you a little taste of what it’s like to be Thor, as the main character uses thunder and lightning to attack enemies. The graphics are beautiful. Bosses are difficult, but can be defeated. In the demo I was able to run around and see things for myself. However, after running into mostly dead ends or petty enemies, I have to admit I lost interest. I didn’t like how the commands switched buttons often. It made me a little dizzy. In addition, I felt the game was a little busy with all the written words of whoever was talking to me, nor did I like that there were so many people talking at once. And while I know it’s a staple of these games, I tired of seeing the character pose after defeating every enemy. I felt it was a bit of wasted time, whereas I could be off getting to the next task or enemy to defeat. I can tell you, this wasn’t my favorite game of the night.
FINAL FANTASY X/X-2 HD REMASTER was a little more my speed. Some of the enemies were difficult to beat but it just kept me coming back for more. I felt like the storyline really drove you forward to defeat your opponents and accomplish the mission. I like that you could accidentally attack your ally as well.
On Thursday, we had the pleasure of seeing the unveiling of the Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson incarnation) wax figure from MADAME TUSSAUD’S. The pose was spot on depicting Nick Fury’s character. It seemed so life-like, as though Samuel L. Jackson was looking at me with that intimidating Nick Fury stare. Everyone at the unveiling seemed so stunned at how real Nick Fury looked that they all forgot to applaud at first, but I think we were all just shocked on what an amazing job they did.
I love nothing more than keeping AICN up close and personal with the cosplay at the conventions. This time we were invited to a cosplay party in honor of showcasing Fincon’s new mobile game, HELLO HERO. I sat down with the head of business development, Sean Lee, who explained some of the things that we’ll see in the game. Lee mentioned that they are hoping to create 1,000 levels for Hello Hero and that they already have as many as 200 heroes to choose from. Hello Hero also has the option to have you control battles manually or allow them to be played out by the game’s AI. During the festivities, attendees dressed up as all kinds of characters, and there was a dancing cactus holding big maracas that everyone could pose with. However, the fun really began as everyone grabbed a drink. I always happen to find myself meeting all kinds of characters, and I don’t just mean the costumed kind. As the night was coming to an end, one of my fellow revelers passed me a baggie full of little blue crystals. Fellas, your NutMeg is very innocent and has no idea what was in that bag, and probably doesn’t want to know. NYCC never seems to fail when it comes to bringing out the weird.
The J. Michael Straczynski (JMS) panel on Friday was by far one of my favorites of the convention. It was inspiring and insightful for writers. JMS gave some great advice. He told writers to write like you talk and talk like you write. He continued by emphasizing the importance of staying fresh as a writer, and when asked how he keeps track of all his characters and plotlines, he got a laugh when he said that it helps to have a brain like a bucket of snakes. He told the audience to let the characters do what they are going to do, as though they have a life of their own. Probably the most inspiring thing that spoke to me was he said that you have to do what frightens you. Sitting down and writing frightens me; surprise, surprise. JMS told the audience to write something every day and keep the discipline going. When you are at a loss as to where to go, it helps to stop in the middle of a sentence and come back to it. You can sleep on the thought and resume when you know what to fill in.
JMS also had some great insights about plotting: You have to know where you’re going with the story, and do your homework extensively. He said that writing is like pumping oil because the more muck you have, the more garbage you get out. The panel was really over too soon. I could have listened to his inspiring and thoughtful advice all day. Thank you JMS!
My funniest interview of the convention was with the guys from ROBOT CHICKEN, Matt Senreich and Breckin Meyer. Meyer got roped into Robot Chicken by Seth Green, and referred to it as a kind of club house. It started off just as playing around, as Green was showing Meyer what they were doing with the show. The two of them started riffing and doing voices, and next thing you know, Green incorporated him into the show. In season 1, Meyer was just doing voices and by season 2 he was writing for the show. In the booth, the cast are often coming up with last minute stuff. It’s just 8 guys coming together playing with action figures trying to make each other laugh, according to Meyer. Meyer’s goal is to make Seth Green laugh. Meyer even calls his job with Robot Chicken his daytime job. No matter how busy he gets, he always has time to work on ROBOT CHICKEN.
Matt Senreich says the writing process is an awful experience. He explains that he has 6 writers sitting in a room from 9 AM on, all typing vigorously by themselves, and then by 3 or 4 PM Senreich comes in with the head writers and goes through the different ideas. There is a voting process, and it has to be at least 3 to 1 in favor in order for the idea to make it into the show. As far as putting the show together, recording the show is an even longer, more tedious process. Senreich mentions that if he can shoot 8 seconds of the show, it’s a good day. He explains shooting stop motion shots are not easy. This is also being done on 17 stages at once. In addition, animatics and recordings are also taking place. Senreich is jumping from one thing to the next whether he is approving a puppet, checking on the sets that are being made, or making sure that the lighting is correct. Senreich explains that it’s a compartmentalized process, and often work consists of 12 hour days before ever getting a break.
Meyer describes the writing process as longer. A writer can pitch an idea, but often it gets thrown out because the topic may no longer be relevant by the time it’s ready to be put into production. It takes ideas a year before they even make the cut of the show. Writers are often gambling with their ideas because they have to be sure that it will be relevant a year from when it actually gets pitched. Many of the sketches that get cut end up on the DVDs as deleted scenes.
Senreich rarely gets push back from any of the companies that are made fun of on the show. Senreich mentioned that the companies see the sketches as free paid advertising. Even Mattel is now sending them a toy a week. In the past, they used to have someone run out and get the toys that they needed. When they can’t find a toy that they are looking for, they also have a toy shop in their studio. The toy shop produces about 120 toys a week. Even when they get certain toys, the toy shop often will adjust it so that it can be positioned the way it is needed to be seen on the show.
Senreich mentioned that the hardest skits to run are the ones involving water because water never stays still. Meyer implied that the voting process was difficult. He often finds himself fighting for something that he likes and is often shut down. As intense as it sounds, these guys seem like they have more fun playing with their toys than some kids I know.
Speaking of sophisticated toys... maybe we can rebuild him, but can we make him better, faster, stronger? That was the question answered at the presentation of the world’s first BIONIC MAN. The Bionic Man is made up of replacement parts for almost every part of the human body-- with the exception of the brain, though his presenters, roboticists Richard Walker and Bertolt Meyer have plenty of that. Meyer in fact had hands-on experience with the Bionic Man technology, as one of his hands was a mechanical prosthetic which he could control not only with the impulses from his brain, but also through the BioSim iPhone app which was developed to give synthetic body parts a greater range of motion. The app is not perfect and can even be hacked into so that you could actually control someone else’s movements, which is a scary thought.
The Bionic Man wears eyeglasses with a built-in camera that feeds information back to him so that he can navigate the world around him. They help to see enough not to bump into things, but don’t see colors or definitions of figure, which are too complex to map into usable information for the Bionic Man. The artificial heart has a pump that circulates oxygenated blood just like a real one. Normally, this is a replacement for someone who is waiting on a heart donor and is often replaced every two months.
Did I mention that this thing walks too? Well, to see it, it was more stumbling than walking. Hey, we all had to stumble before we could walk, right? Overall, the demonstration was amazing and kind of creepy. It’s amazing what is out there on the horizon that can change our lives and even our futures.
One of the most exciting events of the con for me was attending THE WALKING DEAD: A DECADE OF DEAD documentary screening, which covered everything from the inception of the landmark series to the present day. I found it interesting to hear everyone talk about the process of creating the comics and then bringing it to life on television screens. The documentary was short and to the point. As a fan of both the comic and the show series, I wanted to see more. It had a very down-to-earth approach in recognition of Kirkman’s work, taking us into his life as an ordinary guy. I enjoyed hearing everyone who was also behind the scenes of THE WALKING DEAD talk about their roles in its development.
I had the chance to meet Robert Kirkman after the documentary screening. Even in person, Kirkman was gracious and humble when receiving praise of both his work and the documentary. In addition to meeting with Kirkman, I also had the pleasure of meeting Danai Gurira, aka Michonne from AMC’s The Walking Dead. Gurira expressed her enjoyment of the screening. The afterparty also featured The Walking Dead Hyundai car, which looks even more awesome in person than in the commercials. I wish I could drive it, and smash some zombies with that monster.
On Saturday, actress Jennifer Morrison shared some of her experiences working on the ABC show ONCE UPON A TIME. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the show, Morrison plays Emma Swan, the daughter of Prince Charming and Snow White. Emma was sent away from her parents because the Evil Queen put a curse on everyone, giving them separate lives in a town called Storybrooke with their real identities erased until the curse could be lifted, and Emma was the only one who could break the curse. That has now been accomplished.
Going into season 3, Morrison explains that we can expect to see Emma’s emotional life come alive. Emma is not as guarded in Neverland because she is now with her true parents who she never knew growing up. But at the same time, she’s been put into a life or death mindset, because her son Henry has been taken by Peter Pan. Emma is also more volatile and completely focused on getting her son back. Morrison shares that we’ll be seeing how Emma’s reactions affect the people around her. Emma needs more time to develop a relationship with her parents, Charming and Snow, because there’s no history of them being together. While Snow wants a very loving mother-daughter relationship, it’s not going to happen fast enough. We’ll see Emma learning more about herself as the series continues.
In preparation for her role, Morrison read memoirs about people who were raised in the foster care system. She said the memoirs were heartbreaking, outrageous, and devastating. She got into the character of Emma by drawing upon these works. Morrison focuses on putting herself in the shoes of some of the stories she has read and imagining the repercussions these foster care children would have gone through if they were trying to bond with their real parents for the first time.
Unlike Emma, Morrison had grown up living with both her parents. She is blessed that they are still married and says that her upbringing was wonderful. Morrison appreciates what she is doing in season 3. She’s enjoying that she gets the luxury of finding things out about Emma with the audience.
I had the pleasure in joining a conversation with Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, co-creators of ONCE UPON A TIME (OUAT) and the spinoff series ONCE UPON A TIME IN WONDERLAND (OUATIW). These guys gave us some insight of what’s to come in both series.
In season 3 of OUAT, we’ll be exploring the various worlds of the characters. Maybe even poke fun at some of the characters like they did with Mulan and the Care Bears. Horowitz said that we can expect to see Peter Pan’s past and what makes him tick. We’ll see how the Lost Boys came to be and how Pan discovers them. Kitsis paints the picture of Pan as very mischievous from the book. Kitsis and Horowitz mentioned that when you think of 14-15 year old boys and living that way forever, it sounds great for a second. However, if you were to live that way forever, it can do dark things to you. Kitsis said that he would hate to relive his junior high days. Thus, Neverland is kind of the heart of darkness. Kitsis says that the real question is who wrote “the book”; the one that is first seen in the pilot as it flutters through pages showing The Wizard of Oz, Neverland, and all the fairy tale worlds. Horowitz followed up stating that inspiration has to come from somewhere and the relationships between all of the realms together makes up the heart of OUAT. Kitsis mentions there will not be any crossover events because the concepts of the two shows are completely different. There might be some Easter eggs sprinkled around and every once in a while a character will pop-up.
Horowitz shared that the spin-off of ONCE UPON A TIME IN WONDERLAND came from the episode with the Mad Hatter in OUAT where Wonderland was first introduced. He said it was rich and exciting to explore, which made them think back to Alice and all the ideas they wanted to explore. There were just too many to jam into one episode. So these ideas sat on hold until ABC gave them the chance to create a spin-off. It was a no brainer to indulge in Wonderland.
Kitsis shared that we will see how Alice gets into the insane asylum as a result of telling her odd tales to people in our world. In addition, we’ll see how the genie is involved in Wonderland. Kitsis said when you spend your life as a prisoner of the bottle and you grant wishes, you tend to realize people ruin their lives with shortcuts or selfishness. He says that love becomes more important to genies because they don’t usually have the chance at it. OUATIW will also focus on the Red Queen and her involvement with Jafar (of Aladdin fame). In reference to the business between these characters, Kitsis pointed out that the problem with making a deal with a psycho is... what happens when you are no longer useful?
Next up, I had the chance to talk to Brannon Braga, executive producer and director of the COSMOS: A SPACE-TIME ODYSSEY series, who shared some insight on bringing a new incarnation of a classic series back to television screens everywhere. Braga said that Seth MacFarlane had called him and asked him to participate in a show running capacity and help Ann Druyan with the scripts of Cosmos. Braga jumped at the chance because he was a huge fan of the originals. It was one of the shows that Braga grew up with. The original Cosmos series had a profound influence on Braga. It was one of the reasons that he got into science fiction in the first place. Braga, of course, first gained experience dealing with extra-terrestrial matters in his producer role on the various Star Trek television series. The only down side to working on Cosmos for Braga is that he can’t get away with making stuff up as he did on Star Trek. Braga mentions the experience is nothing like working in a small studio. Everything is extremely detailed, down to making sure the stars are aligned in their rightful places. It’s a huge undertaking, and every episode covers a massive scope of subject matter. Thanks to technology the producers have come up with an actual digitally rendered spaceship that takes the story to where it is going, whereas before, you had to imagine your vehicle. During the series, the audience will also see some of the other cool things that the ship can do.
Mitchell Cannold spoke about the involvement of Seth MacFarlane. Cannold called MacFarlane a da Vinci. Cannold also mentioned that MacFarlane is someone not to underestimate, relating to him as a godfather of science.
Neil deGrasse Tyson (NDT) is the host of the new Cosmos series. In addition, NDT is a renowned astrophysicist and director of the Hayden Planetarium. NDT spoke about his fan base as he takes on the role of the late Carl Sagan, who hosted the original. NDT mentioned that early on he was trying to be Sagan and realized that he was only setting himself up to fail. He said that he could fail by being a really good version of himself or he could fail by being someone else. NDT was able to work with the writers on being able to blend the way he likes to talk and mixing in “cosmotic” terminology. If there is such a word, he added.
Ann Druyan, lead executive producer and co-writer of the series, said she was touched by the amount of effort that everyone has been putting into Cosmos. She says that she feels like she has made many friends through the process of putting together the new Cosmos series. While commenting about her late husband’s replacement, Druyan believes that NDT is doing a really wonderful job as he fills in her husband’s shoes.
Time for another party, and Saturday night we were invited by fellow @$$holes Ambush Bug and Optimous Douche to the Last Rites Gallery for a celebration of the 44FLOOD art collective’s latest project, TOME 2: MELANCHOLIA. Probably the creepiest place I’ve ever seen a party held. Even with the strange artwork lining the walls, and a tattoo parlor in the back of the establishment, it still gets more bizarre. When I excused myself to the little girls room, I was very surprised to see a shower in the facility. I guess they anticipate people getting a little messy, though whether from the tattooing or other activities, I cannot say. And hey, if you need to make sure you look alright before heading back into the party, what could be more useful than a fun house mirror?
On Sunday, I got to hear Alex Kurtzman and Len Wiseman talk about their show SLEEPY HOLLOW. Kurtzman explained the concept of Sleepy Hollow was a modern day take on the old legend. Wiseman expounded on this, describing it as blending the book of Revelations with the legend of Sleepy Hollow, in order to find a way of twisting it into a fresh tale. Wiseman says that they have found an organic way to accomplish this. Sounds crazy, but these guys seem to have made it work!
Tom Mison, who plays Ichabod Crane on the show, mentioned that he had read The Legend of Sleepy Hollow when he was younger. He compared the story that he knew to the pilot, and said it was much more exciting to dive into the pilot episode of the show. Mison shared that it was enjoyable to play Ichabod Crane because Mison and the producers are always looking for things in the modern day that would fascinate Ichabod. In fact, it was Mison’s idea for Ichabod to be fascinated with a gun that shoots more than one bullet. Mison brought the idea to Wiseman, which is now one of the most famous clips from the commercial.
Katia Winter, who plays Katrina Crane, spoke about her character and what the audience should expect in the coming episodes. Winter mentioned that we’ll learn more about Ichabod and Katrina through their backstories. Katrina usually has a heads-up of what’s going on, and she wishes she could help Ichabod more, but her time is limited. Winter loves her character and says there should be more like Katrina.
Nicole Beharie, who plays Lieutenant Abbie Mills, also shared her take on the show and her character. Beharie thinks that the show is ground breaking. She explains how her character is a hero who is not even recognized by herself. Beharie loves the fact that in the show the audience finds out crazy things about the women in the show. Abbie has powers to draw upon and Katrina is a witch. Beharie loves that these women have an integral part of saving the world. Mison agrees with her. He said that these are two female leads who aren’t defined by a man. He said that you often see women as just the girlfriend or the daughter and they have little to do other than support the male character’s story. Mison praised the work of Sleepy Hollow’s producers.
Orlando Jones, Captain Frank Irving, thinks the interplay between all of the characters in SLEEPY HOLLOW is what makes the show so interesting, and the fact that there’s no knowing whether someone is good or evil. Jones says that as viewers indulge in future episodes, we’ll see more of the population of Sleepy Hollow and their involvement in the main story. He mentioned that the audience will see more about Captain Irving’s past life, his ex-wife and daughter. Jones said he’d love to spill the beans more, but his head may be in jeopardy. And on a show with a headless horseman, that’s a credible threat.
For my last round of interviews, I was honored to come back and talk with the cast of THE FOLLOWING for a second season. Let’s face it, I can never get enough Bacon. Mmmmm.
Kevin Williamson, writer and executive producer, says that this season will take place a year later. Williamson says this season is about family. He leaves us with questions. Can Ryan open his heart up after Claire? Can Ryan open up to his niece? Are Mike Weston and Ryan Hardy going to be friends? What is Joe Carroll up to with his new band of friends? As he talks about these questions, Williamson mentions that he is always in his head space. He says that the show is fiction, and if people don’t like watching violent stuff, then change the channel. It doesn’t bother him if someone changes the channel from his show. His advice to parents, don’t let your children watch this show. Good parenting comes into play when it comes to watching The Following. Williamson reflects on how horror mirrors society, as we’re a country at war. However, he says that it’s a fun, twisted show to write.
Marcos Siega, executive producer, couldn’t give too much away about the show, but spoke about bringing on new cast members. He explained that they are trying to tie a community of people overseas in Europe together with the rest of the characters, and they brought on Connie Nielsen as someone who could believably bridge that gap. He said that Connie felt worldly as a person and was immediately at the top of their list. As far as worries about killing off characters, Siega said the network is concerned but that they aren’t. The whole idea is to get a story across. Hopefully, people can jump in or at least jump in and go back to see season 1.
Newcomer Connie Nielsen will be playing the part of Lily Grey. Nielsen is having so much fun as she explores all kinds of characteristics with Lily. She is excited about the process and what it unveils to her day by day. Nielsen says the process is painless and that everyone is naturally curious, sometimes wanting more of the story. The process becomes natural and comfortable as you get into character. The locations are gorgeous and the people you work with are great. Who wouldn’t want to work in that kind of environment? I know I would.
Valorie Curry gave us insight into her character, Emma. Curry says that Emma has pretty much reached rock bottom. Emma has lost her cult, her home, her son Jacob, and lost the man who has given her reason to live since she was 15. Emma has to survive under these circumstances as well as being hunted by the cult. Curry says her character isn’t bloodthirsty; she’s a sociopath but not a psychopath. Curry doesn’t think Emma would do what she does if it wasn’t for Joe. She says that all of Emma’s actions, as bad as they are, are motivated by her complete devotion for Joe Carroll. Curry sees Joe as someone who is relishing in murder and has a sensuality for it. She believes that Emma is Joe’s greatest victim because she was targeted by this manipulative man at the age of 15. Curry said to expect Emma’s bad streak to increase in season 2.
James Purefoy creeped me out last year after I saw the premiere, but this time I got over my fears. Purefoy dished about his character Joe Carroll. He said that Joe is truly evil. But contrary to Curry’s take, Purefoy believes that everyone who comes to Joe are killers even before they join the cult. They are people who want murder, they dream of it and they want to experience it. Joe doesn’t turn innocent people bad, he facilitates other bad people to come and join the cult. Purefoy commented that it’s not a man who turns innocent people crazy. He compared his character to the boogie man, who is a monster, but is not real. Serial killers are real and anyone could be one. Purefoy mentions that he doesn’t let his work on such a dark character affect him off the set. He says he’s grateful to have cab drivers to talk about other things with, like sports or the government shutdown. He has a family and responsibilities, and those are being a good man, husband, and father.
Shawn Ashmore shared with us what we can expect from Mike Weston in season 2. Ashmore says we’ll see more of who Mike is, beyond tapping on a computer or running around with a gun, including more of his home life. Ashmore praised the work of Kevin Williamson. He said that when Williamson gets to know an actor, he writes to their strengths and away from their weaknesses. As actors, Ashmore and the cast get to discover the episodes as they unfold. Ashmore originally thought he was going to hate the anticipation, but now says that he loves it.
At last we came to the man of the hour, Kevin Bacon. There wasn’t a whole lot he could say about the upcoming season, but he did emphasize that nobody on the show has job security. Bacon mentioned that everyone is happy to survive a season or even an episode. He said you never know whether you’re living or dying when you get a script. Bacon said he wanted a complex character and he got one. Bacon mentioned that balancing all of the elements that make up his character Ryan Hardy requires him to work hard as a performer, but it is also up to the writers and everyone else in the show to work hard in return. In preparation for his role, Bacon did as much homework as he could, made decisions about who he was playing, and said that you just have to be confident that you know what your character will do in a given situation. He said that sometimes when changes occur that he doesn’t agree with, he’s willing to fight for the character. When Bacon was a director, he noticed that actors knew more about their character than the writers or directors. Bacon at one point was writing the back stories of his character and brought it to the attention of the writers and director. He wasn’t trying to take someone else’s job, but to get insight and make sure he was on the same page with everyone. They were fine with it.
And with that, it was time to call it a convention. What a blast and yet followed by the inevitable post-con exhaustion. As amazing as all the cons we went to this year, NYCC just took my breath away. You’ve really got to be an Energizer Bunny to keep up with everything. What will 2014 bring, I wonder?
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G
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