Emily Whitten’s New York Comic Con 2016 Round-Up!
New York Comic Con has once again rushed by in a giant, fun, crazy blur, and although I didn’t get to nearly all the things I was hoping to, I did have a rockin’ time and see some really cool things I can share.
The first of these were a few great panels I landed seats for, including, as is my tradition, the Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles panel. If you don’t know I love the current TMNT, then what are you, new here? But seriously, I love it. And each panel I have gone to brings something new and different.
This panel (with Andrea Romano (voice director), Eric Bauza (Tiger Claw), Kevin Michael Richardson (The Shredder), Greg Cipes (Mikey), Rob Paulsen (Donnie), and Ciro Nieli (Executive Producer)) was particularly fun, because one of the things they did was a live read of episode #420, “The Super Shredder,” which will air when TMNT comes back on Sunday, November 6, at 11 a.m. ET. I love watching voice actors do live reads, and I think this is the first time I got to see one with veteran and amazing voice director Andrea Romano actually directing during the read. So this was extra nifty! (Not to mention I caught Kevin Michael Richardson’s script after the panel and he signed it for me. ROCK.) The live read was a fun excerpt from what looks like a really interesting, game-changing episode in which Shredder is healed by mutagen to become The Super Shredder. And happily, I was able to get the whole live read on video, so everyone else can see it too!
Along with a clip from that episode, we got to see another clip that goes into the backstory of Tiger Claw, and I just loved every bit of it, from Tigerclaw and Bebop tooling around town together while they reminisce, to this image of Tiger Claw and Alopex as circus performers, which is just too adorable for words. Speaking of which, a new character reveal at this panel was obviously Alopex, who looks super cool. And another new character we got to see was Kavaxas, a.k.a. Hot Head, who looks fantastic and is being voiced by none other than Mark Hamill!
But the TMNT panel wasn’t through with showing us cool stuff even after that. Anyone who’s been to these panels before knows that Greg Cipes, who really is astoundingly like the character he voices, tends to show up in some sort of costume every time (the hot dog was memorable, Greg). This time, he showed up cosplaying one of my favorite side characters of the show, Ice Cream Kitty – and for good reason. Because lo-and-behold, in his spare time Greg has been writing songs about TMNT, and Ciro decided to actually put the one Greg wrote about Ice Cream Kitty (Mikey’s l’il buddy) into an episode! So we got to see the work-in-progress version of what will eventually be the Ice Cream Kitty music video. And thanks to my trusty video camera, you can see it too.
But we’re still not quite done! Because after that the panel announced that the Turtles have been paired with wresting stars (no, really) in some new merchandise…and among them Raph had been paired with Sting. Who actually came to the panel! (And pretend-fought with Greg Cipes, which was cute .) So that was crazy and unexpected! (And I confess that even though I’m not really into wrestling, I kind of want the Donnie as the Undertaker toy, because it looks so cool.) And I think that’s finally the end of what was a panel packed with super-cool stuff. Oh, except that I also caught one of Greg’s Ice Cream Kitty gloves and he signed it, and now clearly I have to cosplay Ice Cream Kitty next con. If I can figure out how to get the other glove from Greg, that is, because I have no idea where he got them, and one’s Ice Cream Kitty cosplay gloves must match.
Another great panel I attended was the Trollhunters panel. Trollhunters is an animated Guillermo del Toro project (created with Dreamworks Animation and Cha Cha Cha Films) which had apparently been a long time in the works in various formats before finding its home as a TV series with Netflix. The show is about a fifteen-year-old boy named Jim, who finds a magical amulet that turns him into the Trollhunter, tasked with defending both the troll and human worlds from evil trolls. We got to see the first episode, and it’s a really cute, sweet, fun show. I definitely want to see more of it when it airs on December 23.
Trollhunters also features a character del Toro described as “me, as a boy,” a.k.a. Jim’s best friend Toby (voiced by Charlie Saxton), who was my favorite character of the first episode. Jim is also great, though, and was voiced by Anton Yelchin, in what was unfortunately his last work before his untimely passing. Other voices of the show include Kelsey Grammer and Ron Perlman as the main good trolls, and Steven Yeun (Glenn of The Walking Dead) as Steve the bully. Yeun was very excited to play a role so different from Glenn, and talked about it in this clip here. And Ron Perlman was happy to have worked on what is about his seventh project with del Toro, and talked (and sang!) about that here. And then Perlman abruptly left the stage…and came back with a birthday cake for del Toro, because it was his birthday. And then we all sang, because awwwwww.
Directly after Trollhunters we rolled into a completely different kind of panel: The Walking Dead! After ages of being behind on this show I have finally caught up, so I was super-psyched to finally be able to go to a panel. And despite the panel being delayed by over a half hour – possibly because there were a million billion cast and crew members to round up – the wait was well worth it. (I could make a joke about how at least Negan’s antics with Lucille have cut down on the wait time at their next panel, but it’s probably tooooo sooooooon. Oh wait, I did it anyway. Oops.) AMC keeps a pretty tight control over what information can be shared before an episode airs, and obviously, with this panel leading into the Season 7 premiere where a key character was slated to die, there weren’t a whole lot of spoilers going on. But this cast overall is just a ton of fun to watch interact – in a way similar to the cast of Gotham, in that both shows are very dark but the casts (perhaps because of the intensity required when on camera) come off as a tight-knit bunch of friends who joke around in between takes and genuinely like each other.
It was great to hear a little bit from all of the cast members, but I’m an unabashed longtime fan of Jeffrey Dean Morgan, so one of my favorite parts was definitely Jeffrey Dean Morgan talking about Negan. And the other, of course, involved Norman Reedus, an actor I’ve loved since The Boondock Saints, and who is just so. much. fun. to watch on panels and talk shows and pretty much anywhere. (I know, I know – everyone loves Daryl, it’s such a cliché; but he’s just so entertaining – what can I say?). I also love Andrew Lincoln, although I wasn’t familiar with him before the show – and the friendship he and Norman seem to have thanks to The Walking Dead is super cute.
There’s also an ongoing prank war between the two, which is possibly the funniest behind-the-scenes stuff I’ve seen in some time. So far, it’s involved Andrew sending Norman a package of glitter which exploded in his face; Norman telling Andrew the wrong thing to say in Japanese; Andrew arranging for a fan of the show to prank Norman as a zombie in Tokyo; Norman replacing Andrew’s license plate with one featuring an airbrushed Daryl Dixon which Andrew didn’t notice for months; Andrew changing Norman’s window-tinting-in-progress so that it said “Andy’s B—ch”; Norman filling Andrew’s trailer with live chickens; Andrew sending a blow-up doll riding Norman’s motorcycle out into the middle of a lake on a boat; Norman filling Andrew’s car air conditioner with glitter; and Andrew glitter-bombing Norman in revenge at the SDCC 2016 panel. Unfortunately Andrew Lincoln couldn’t make the NYCC panel, but in his absence he sent a letter that Norman was to read aloud. It was, predictably, hilarious, and also another escalation in the prank war, as you can see in the video here. Those guys!
The last panel I saw for the weekend was actually a live recording of two episodes of the podcast We Got This!, with Hal Lublin and Mark Gagliardi. The podcast often has celebrity guests, and takes “the dumb issues in life,” and debates them until a clear victor emerges. The first episode we saw featured Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer of The Venture Bros., and the second featured John Hodgman, Jean Grae, and John DiMaggio. Both were really fun! You can listen to the first one on the site, and I’m sure the second will be up soon. I recommend!
Of course, there’s more to NYCC than panels. One of my other favorite things to do is wander Artist Alley – saying hi to old friends, meeting new ones, and, most importantly, checking out the art and new things from comics creators. I’m also currently (finally!) working on filling a sketchbook with cool commissions from artists (something I meant to start two years ago, oops!). This con, I commissioned Janet Lee to do a Deadpool in Shakespeare piece for me, and it is even now making its way back through the mail to my home. I can’t wait to see what it looks like!
This year in Artist Alley, highlights included finally meeting Deadpool co-creator Fabian Nicieza after missing him at several cons we’ve both attended, and having him sign my New Mutants #98 and a favorite issue of Cable & Deadpool. I also got asked by friend and rad comics creator Dennis Calero to serve as a photo reference for a Raven and Harley Quinn commission, and then happened back to his table just in time to meet the person who commissioned it and see the results, which was pretty neat! And then I picked up an issue of My Little Pony which had a great cover by Sara Richard that I fell in love with.
I had some good chats with the likes of Michael Golden, Fred Van Lente, Greg Pak, Aaron Kuder, Joyce Chin, Arthur Adams, Thom Zahler, Chrissie Zullo, Cully Hamner, Tom Raney, Mike McKone, Jim Calafiore, Tony Fleecs, Christopher Jones, Jamal Igle, Sanford Greene, Chris Claremont, Billy Martin, David Gallaher, Steve Ellis, Joe Harris, David Lloyd, Simon Fraser, and Mark Brooks. I ran into a couple of my favorite other comics journalists, Edie Nugent and Patrick Reed. I saw an adorable Jubilee cosplay, a hilarious Walking Dead cosplay, and another Starbuck while I was cosplaying Starbuck, and with whom I exchanged cosplay tips. And then of course sometimes during the con one needs a little time to sit, so I spent some time chilling behind the table with one of my favorite Deadpool artists, Reilly Brown (and we totally didn’t actually want to fight each other, I promise).
Oddly, I didn’t make it to the Exhibit Floor as much as I sometimes do (which was good for my wallet and the weight of my going-home suitcase, undoubtedly) – but I did, of course, go to the TMNT poster signing at the IDW booth, which was great fun (and the first time I’ve met Kevin Michael Richardson, yay!). And although the party scene at NYCC isn’t comparable to, e.g., SDCC, I did hit up a few late-night gatherings, including the Sonicboombox/Image After-Party. Apparently my brain wasn’t in a “remembering to take pictures” mood that night; but the one photo that did happen, of me and the fabulous Sorah Suhng, pretty much sums it up. The party was great, in that tons of comics pros and friends were there; although as with the previous year, they could definitely have used about four times the bartenders! Other nights were dedicated to much more low-key dinners with fantastic friends like author Esther Friesner (who brought along the wonderful Jody Lynn Nye and Bill Fawcett, and better company for dinner couldn’t be had!) and to chilling in bars with industry pros and excellent fan friends.
All-in-all, I had an amazing time, even more of which is memorialized in my full photo album here.
So check that out, and until next time, Servo Lectio!