Tagged: Tim Burton

Box Office Democracy: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

I’m at a bit of a loss when it comes to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children because I was so sure I would leave the theater either fantastically impressed or utterly repulsed. There were just so many flags for a strong reaction: it’s a Tim Burton movie, it’s a movie where the director made a boneheaded comment the week before release, it’s a superhero movie but not really, it’s a bit Harry Potter adjacent. None of it ended up inspiring a strong reaction in me. Miss Peregrine’s is a fine movie that capably blends some spellbinding spectacle with some rather drab boring junk. That probably sounds a little more harsh than I intend but this is very much the movie equivalent of the little girl with the little curl; when it’s good it’s very, very good and when it’s bad it’s horrid.

The fun stuff in the film is unmistakably fun. The use of super powers, or peculiarities, has a sense of wonder and more importantly whimsy that separates it from a lot of the bleak drab superheroics we see in films these days. It feels a little more like Grant Morrison’s X-Men than Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel and it makes the whole thing so much less psychologically draining. The time loop mechanism is fun in the light doses of it we get in the first two-thirds of the movie. There’s a great fight scene on a pier in modern-day London. This is a disjointed list because the connecting tissue that binds all of these things together is lacking.

The story, once you get past the fun stuff, is a boring mess. Plot points are gone over and over until belabored doesn’t seem appropriate anymore. I understand that the target audience for this movie is probably a bit younger than me but I bet they don’t need to be told that Emma had a thing for Abraham before he left a half dozen times. There are severe lulls where it seems like nothing happening and no new information is being parceled out. The finale also seems flat but maybe that’s because it relies heavily on time travel causality loops that can’t be thought about too hard or it gives you that weird feeling in your stomach. I guess I believe the ending is consistent with the rules established, but I’m not certain why.

Tim Burton got a lot of well-deserved flack for his comments about how he wasn’t sure if his movies “call for” diversity, but I think there was a different representation issue overlooked here… Miss Peregrine’s is unmistakably a movie about a young child dealing with the enormity of the Holocaust. A boy learns from his grandfather (named Abraham no less) that he had to flee his home in Poland as a boy due to the threat of “monsters” and go in to hiding in a remote part of Wales. The boy goes to try and trace the history and finds a bombed-out building. The monsters in the movie are called Hollowgasts, which sounds a fair bit like “Holocaust” to my ear. It’s honestly one of the best ways I’ve seen an issue like this tackled in a movie, obvious but indirect so it doesn’t become smothering, but they did it without any Jewish actors involved. It’s strange to see such a specific metaphor explored with no one with a direct connection to the actual lived experience. I’m not here to argue that Jews are somehow underrepresented in Hollywood, but it’s a bit vexing to see this happen like this.

There were no children in my 2pm Sunday showing of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Maybe it was the awkward time or maybe it’s because I was seeing it in Hollywood, which is not exactly a big family destination, or maybe people were just seeing through it. The ad I saw for this movie called it “Harry Potter meets X-Men“, but it was really more like Doom Patrol with a British accent. There’s nothing wrong with Doom Patrol, but I don’t think it’s ever going to be a monolithic kid’s franchise. I liked the stuff I liked but it wasn’t a good movie and I remain basically uninterested in Burton’s entire oeuvre since Mars Attacks. He’s become some kind of heartless version of Wes Anderson, and I’m not sure how much heart Anderson has to lose.

Joe Corallo: The Joker’s Name

darkdetective1This past weekend was WonderCon out in LA. DC made many announcements about it’s upcoming Rebirth, some of which we already had some idea about. Now we were given information on creative teams, like Scott Snyder heading up All-Star Batman with rotating artists including Sean Murphy and Paul Pope, and James Tynion IV taking the reigns on the soon to be back-numbered Detective Comics. One of the other Bat family announcements was that they will soon be revealing the Joker’s name.

Why?

The short answer is that Batman found out his name when he asked that question on the Möbius chair in Justice League #42 (42, the answer to the ultimate question of life. Coincidence?). The long answer is a combination of figuring out how to handle a decades old franchise coupled with changes in audience expectations.

Now, I know what you might be thinking. Don’t we already know the Joker’s name? Many comic historians will tell you that the Joker is Jerry Robinson. Some out there may still argue his name is Bill Finger or even Bob Kane. Or maybe it was Conrad Veidt?

His name has changed many times over the years. Dick Sprang, Carmine Infantino, Denny O’Neil (Hi Denny!), Neal Adams, and many others. Personally, I liked when the Joker was both Marshall Rogers and Steve Englehart. Maybe sharing two minds helped to fuel his insanity. In more recent years, he’s gone by Frank Miller, Alan Moore, Brian Bolland, Grant Morrison, Dave McKean, Tony Daniel, Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, and many other names.

Conrad Veidt JokerThere are some purists out there who will tell you that no, the Joker only has one name. They’ll argue with you that his one true name is Cesar Romero, Jack Nicholson, Mark Hamill, or Heath Ledger. Some new Joker worshippers are even claiming that his real name has been Jared Leto all along. Perhaps we’ll find out soon enough.

Now that I’ve had my fun, I’ll address the long answer to that question (kind of the sort of thing the Joker does, isn’t it?) of why we are finding out the Joker’s name. The real answer is we’ve changed a lot as a society. Part of that is entertainment is different. Oddly enough, in the disposable age where we create more garbage than ever, the one thing we won’t discard is a story.

Way back in May of 1939 when Batman debuted, back when the United States was only comprised of the continental 48, comics were not intended to be reprinted the way they are today. Audiences were not expected to stick around either. No one imagined that a nine-year old reading Batman would still follow that character for decades to come. All of that came later. Television was the same way. People used to just pump out television programs and if an episode was rushed and turned out to be pretty bad, who cares! People will forget by next week. Who would ever see it again?

Now that’s all changed. We’ve gone back and we’ve read many of those stories. We’ve tried to make continuity out of stories that were never intended to have any originally because we demand that the world makes sense. We even demand that the Joker makes sense. Part of making the Joker make sense is giving him a name.

Detective_Comics_475Personally, I have less than no interest in the Joker’s name. Just tell me a good story with the character. That’s not the point of the Joker. Audiences want it though. Or we think they do. In the age of the Internet, people want to know everything about the things they like. Many people “keep up” with comics by reading wiki entries of storylines at this point. Maybe it’ll sell a few comics too.

In defense of the decision to reveal the Joker’s name, audiences do appreciate an immersive world and I do appreciate that and I even enjoy that myself. Escapism is easier in a fully fleshed out world that we can imagine. When imaginary worlds leave out pieces of information like that, it can be harder to be immersed in that world. Plus, selling a few comics isn’t and shouldn’t be a bad thing. Having issues of comics sell big in this market helps to allow the wiggle room to try more experimental comics or to keep a critically acclaimed comic that might not be selling as well afloat for a few more months.

Either way, we’re finding out his name whether we like it or not. I could have sworn Tim Burton already told us his name was Jack. I don’t see why Burton would lie to us.

Tweeks: Top 13 (Not Scary) Halloween Movies Part 2

This week we close out our Top 13 (Not Scary) Halloween Movie List with the numbers 6 through 1.  We disagree about Hocus Pocus, but come together on all things Tim Burton and Winnie The Pooh.  You’ll also find out in this week’s episode what food Anya should dress up as for Halloween and learn about her famous Pants Dance.  There’s also some girl crushing on Wednesday Addams and a our favorite non-musical Disney Channel Movie series.

 

Tweeks Count Down Their Top 13 Halloweenie Movies (Part 1)

Halloween is our favorite holiday, so while we decorated the house this week, we decided to share our list of the 13 Best Not Scary Halloween Movies….because we don’t do scary. (This week’s Scream Queens had us sleeping in the same bed, which we think illustrates our level of scary show discomfort.)

We hope you don’t feel cheated, but we’re doling out our list the way mean moms dole out Halloween candy. We give you numbers 13 through 7 and a bonus mini-review of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, which we just saw in the theater for it’s 40th Anniversary. And then next week we’ll be back with 6 through number 1 and probably some honorable mentions — because really, Halloween movies are the best!

Tweeks: Are Team Edward (Scissorhands that is)

edward-characterdesign-9c395The Tim Burton movie, Edward Scissorhands came out in 1990, so it’s totally possible that unless your parents sat you down to watch a “classic” this might not even be on your radar. Though we love Tim Burton and Johnny Depp (and our mom makes us watch a lot of old movies for our “own cultural good”) we hadn’t gotten to this one yet.  But thanks to IDW we are now fully Team Edward!  In our review of Issues 1-3, we let you know who Edward Scissorhands is and why he’s totally awesome.

Dennis O’Neil: Tim Burton and the Bat

Film Director Tim Burton Portrait SessionAbout 25 years ago I was walking from a screening at a Third Avenue theater onto a bustling Manhattan street with a Time Warner executive. My companion thought the movie we’d just seen, a movie that would be opening in a few days, was too dark for a summer entertainment and so would probably fail. Later, another kind and generous exec told me that there had been a snafu in getting the comic book adaptation I’d written to market and that my royalties would probably be impacted by the screen version of the story beating the comics version to the public. He said he’d try to get me a little extra money to ease my loss. It was a very generous offer, but in the end, an unnecessary one. The royalties were quite satisfactory, thank you.

And the movie? A hit. A big, juicy and – okay, we’ll admit it – dark hit.

It was directed by Tim Burton, starred Jack Nicholson and Michael Keaton and was eponymously titled Batman. Short, punchy. Fit on any marquee inn town.

It wasn’t Batman’s first venture into theaters. In the 40s there had been two serials, aimed at the Saturday matinee kid audience, and in 1966, a comedic take on the character adapted from a television show. I guess that those efforts did whatever they were supposed to do. But the 1989 Batman… that was something else. I don’t have the profit/loss statements – I guess those Warner folk misplaced my phone number, back then in the 80s – but I’ll happily guess that the BurtonBat exceeded box office expectations, maybe by a long stretch.

Why do you think that is? Batman wasn’t the first big production that took the superhero genre seriously. There had been the four Superman movies, with A-list directors and actors. And Supergirl. (I’m not counting Superman and the Mole Men, which sprung from yet another television program, nor the movies-of-the week, yet more television programming.)

But Burton’s stuff seemed to me to have been a game changer. Again, why? Maybe because it was a tipping point, which is defined by the excellent writer who popularized the term as “the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point.” The writer, Malcolm Gladwell, says that “…ideas and products and messages and behavior spreads like viruses do.”

So maybe the idea of superheroes as a legitimate genre, equal to westerns and crime drama and the rest of the generic amusements, had been seeping into our collective psyche for years. But the genre wasn’t quite validated until…voila – it was! Tim Burton and his collaborators delivered what audiences didn’t realize they were waiting for – a movie that had enough familiar elements to be acceptable as mass entertainment, but was also not quite like anything that those audiences had seen before, which made it a novelty.

It was a winning combination, one that’s unlikely ever to be repeated. And a bonus: I rewatched the movie last night and can report that is holds up well. After all these years, it still does the job. Does it darkly, but does it. Nice.

Dennis O’Neil: Of Ben And Fans

Dennis O’Neil: Of Ben And Fans

Gold Art 130828Gawdy laws! What is all the commotion?! Somebody find out about the attack on voting rights? The bloodshed in Egypt? In Syria? The shrinking food stamps program?

Oh. An actor was hired to do an acting job. And a lot of moviegoers are unhappy about it.  Well…

The angst might be a little premature. A special effects film doesn’t find its final form until shortly before it graces your closest multiplex and so we can’t know how casting Ben Affleck as Batman will parse out. We have no idea how the character will be used, where he will fit into the screenplay, whether or not he may have some quality that the filmmakers will find useful.

When the world learned that Michael Keaton had been chosen to drive the Batmobile in director Tim Burton’s 1988 Batman it seemed like a highly questionable pairing of performer and role. But what we didn’t know, all of us inclined to say nay, was that Mr. Burton had his own vision of what the character might be and proceeded accordingly. Not my vision, but a vision that was valid on its own terms. Burton made a pretty good movie and then he made another. Not great flicks, but I’ll generally settle for pretty good.

Unless you’ve been on a digital media fast for the past several days (and if you have, good for you!) you’re aware that the next movie adapted from DC’s comics will team the company’s two signature heroes, Superman and the aforementioned Batman and if I were looking for something to fret about, that teaming would be it. Since both cape wearers are immensely popular, it makes marketing sense for the movie guys to costar them, just as it made marketing sense for the comics publishers to put them under the same covers, way, way back in the 1940s. We all know that more = better. (Don’t we?) But I’m not a marketing guy, I’m an editorial guy, and I will claim that, really, Superman and Batman don’t belong in the same story. There’s a problem of proportion. Superman, at his mightiest, could haul planets around. Batman… gee, he’s real smart and strong and –

– and he doesn’t partner well with Superman. The problems and antagonists appropriate for one are not appropriate for the other. In putting them both at the center of a story simultaneously the storyteller can either ignore the implicit contradictions (or be blissfully unaware of them) or devise separate story arcs for each, different but interrelated, which is how we usually dealt with company-mandated crossovers that had to involve Batman and Superman and whoever else had to be in the mix.

Or – best case scenario – the writer can be so clever and sly and ingenious that he solves the problem in a way that has never even occurred too me.

Casting is a big part of film making – there are highly paid professionals whose sole task is to help directors with the chore – but its not the only part; let us not forget writing and editing and production values and cinematography and locations…

I’ve liked Ben Affleck’s recent work behind the camera – Gone, Baby, Gone is surely one of the best private eye pictures – and so I’m willing to forego prejudging his forthcoming incarnation as Batman and, what the hell, wish him luck.

FRIDAY: Martha Thomases

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman

 

REVIEW: Frankenweenie

Frankenweenie-Cover-02Most of ComicMix’s readers know that Tim Burton made his live action Frankenweenie short (starring Barret Oliver, Shelley Duvall, and Daniel Stern) while at Disney and was too quirky for the Mouse House so left to carve out a career of his own. The short was visually stylish, creepy, and filled with affection for the horror films of his youth. Since then, he has created his own brand of horror (Edward Sciossorhands, Legend of Sleepy Hollow) and has reinterpreted classic works (Batman, Alice in Wonderland, Dark Shadows, Planet of the Apes) with varying success.

Last fall he finally released a feature-length version of Frankenweenie and while it underperformed at the box office, it is a creatively satisfying effort, and a great family feature. This can now run with The Nightmare Before Christmas as annual Halloween viewing for which I am grateful.

As with most great tales, this is a love story. In this case, it’s about a boy, Victor (Charlie Tahan), and his dog Sparky. When the beloved pet dies in a car accident, Victor uses his scientific genius to bring Sparky back to life. While some see this as a noble thing, Victor’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Frankenstein (Martin Short, Catherine O’Hara), worry that their son is overly involved with the dog and lacks human friends.

A boy and his dog is classic and Sparky is your typical dog, although he now has trouble keeping all his parts intact, notably his tail.

When the local boys hear about the successful experiment, things begin to go off the rails. Victor may have Sparky back but things have certainly not gone as planned and that’s where the film’s charm and humor shines through in a well-plotted expansion of the original tale. That said, things do drag the further we move on, as if Burton said all he had to say and needed to stretch to get to a proper running time, 87 minutes, for a feature.

Burton stayed true to his vision, retaining the black and white, evoking the great Universal horror films of the past. And like them, this is filled with winning supporting character — Mr. Rzykruski (Martin Landau), Edgar (Atticus Shaffer) —  enlivening the overall story.

The film is being released by Walt Disney this week in multiple formats including the four-disc combo pack — 3-D, 2-D, DVD, digital — and the Blu-ray comes packed with fun extras starting with  “Captain Sparky vs. The Flying Saucers” (2:30) — a new short with Victor and Sparky watching the title home movie; “Miniatures In Motion: Bringing Frankenweenie To Life” (23:00) minutes), your typical behind-the-scenes featurette;  Frankenweenie Touring Exhibit (4:30) 1/2 minutes); the original Frankenweenie short film (30:00); “Pet Sematary”, a music video from Plain White T’s. The first few featurettes are eye-opening in the effort that goes into making these stop-motion films. Burton, executive producer Don Hahn, producer Allison Abbate, and animation director Trey Thomas exhaustively cover the production, shot at the London-based Three Mills Studio.

This is the most entertaining video release of the week and comes highly recommended.

Review: Little Inferno

The Wii U, released on 11/18, has a good assortment of games available, both in stores and through the Nintendo E-Store.  A happy surprise is the large  number of smaller indie games available on the system, and of them all, the most blissfully wacky is Little Inferno, from the Tomorrow Corporation, makes of World of Goo.  Little Inferno combines the infuriating “What do I DO?” feeling of the open form game, the dark whimsy of a Tim Burton movie, and the purifying warmth of fire, and creates a deceptively simple game that unfolds like an onion in a deep fryer, and is just as delicious.

The game consists of a fireplace, more specifically, the Little Inferno Entertainment Fireplace.  Your job – burn things.  Buy things from a series of catalogs of flammable objects, place them in the furnace, set them aflame, find money contained within, use the money to buy more things to burn.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  As you buy objects, more become available.  As you burn more and more, you begin receiving mail from  the manufacturer, congratulating you on your proficiency.  Letters also begin arriving from another Little Inferno owner who seems to have learned a bit more about the company, and the purpose of the fireplace.

The game is dark, disturbing, and tantalizing.  Exactly WHY does the magnet make the gears in the Fireplace spin faster?  Where did Someone Else’s Credit Card come from, and why can you buy then in almost infinite quantity?  Why is the world getting colder?

For a company as family-friendly as Nintendo to select such a bent little masterpiece for not only a game for its new console, let alone a day-of-release game, is a bold move indeed.  This is a game CLEARLY not for everybody (It’s rated T-for-Teen), but for those who like dark humor, not to mention burning things, it’s a perfect little brain-bender.

Emily S. Whitten: The Dragon*Con Experience Part II, or I Know What I Did This Summer!

Last week, I wrote about the awesome folks of Warehouse 13, whom I was lucky enough to meet after attending their panel at Dragon*Con. But they weren’t the only fantastic people at the con, oh no. In fact, Dragon*Con is always so packed with amazing guests that I never get to see or meet all of them, and am left lamenting the fact that I missed Dean Cain’s panel or never got to say hi to Jewel Staite or Sean Maher in the Walk of Fame, despite running around from hotel to hotel like a hyperactive kid in a candy store. But I did get to see and meet a lot of cool folks, and that’s what I’m here to share, so here we go!

The first event I got to was a fantastic Lord of the Rings panel, featuring Billy Boyd (Pippin), Craig Parker (Haldir), and John Rhys-Davies (Gimli). It was a blast. The first thing I have to say about it is very shallow but true: these guys have the most delightful accents! I think I could listen to Scottish, Kiwi, and Welsh actors answer questions all day. And oh, yeah, the questions themselves were pretty good too. I think my favorite bit was when Craig invited a fairly young boy named Orion who was slightly hyperventilating up onto the stage to ask his question (it’s cute when a kid’s that nervous. Adults…well, not so much). I heard through the grapevine later that this happenstance made the kid a minor celebrity at other panels, where people started looking for Orion. To which I say – only at Dragon*Con. I love that about Dragon*Con. My second favorite bit was hearing about how Billy used to read books while working at a bookbinder’s – by tearing out the pages he was finished with and tossing them away. Being an extreme book lover, I’d call that sacrilege, but…well, it does sound kind of fun. And then of course, John predicted that The Hobbit will be a game-changer and that we’re all in for a treat, so: yay!

Over the weekend, I had the pleasure of asking Craig and John a couple of quick questions (missed Billy, sadly. Maybe next year?). Craig is delightfully easygoing, and John is effortlessly charming and has that amazing presence that I associate with really good stage actors. And even though he had a plane to catch, he still took the time to sit down for a few and give me his full attention, which speaks to the sort of person he is. Here’s what they had to say:

Craig Parker:

What would you like to say about current or future projects?

“Actually, I’m a total bum at the moment, because I’m in the process of moving to the States, so everything’s just… everywhere, and I’m not working on anything at the moment.” (Hopefully it won’t be that way for long. I’m sure we’d all love to see him in something again soon).

What’s your favorite part of Dragon*Con?

“I don’t know whether it’s the visuals…the overstimulation of seeing something incredible everywhere you look; or talking with all of the passionate people. It’s an incredibly engaging weekend.”

John Rhys-Davies:

What would you like to say about current or future projects?

“Projects are falling by the wayside all the time – you know, there were two pictures I really wanted to do recently, but they didn’t work out. But now I’m doing Golden Boots, which is a movie about a little boy who wants to play soccer, and that takes place in Detroit, Michigan. I’m also working on Behind the Mask, which takes place in the pre-continental U.S.; and I’ll be the villain. It has a bit of swash; a bit of buckle; a bit of murder…and unfortunately the bad guys don’t win. I’m going to be in the new Pinocchio, which is a mixture of animation and drama – and I’ll be playing the bad guy. And I’m hoping that Flying Tigers will be shot in China early next year.”

What’s your favorite part of Dragon*Con?

”Obviously the people – it’s the chance an actor gets to meet the people who’ve been keeping him employed for the past forty years. You get to talk to them, and know who they are. I cannot tell you how valuable that is. When you work in theater the audience is right there, telling you “You’re good; you’re bad; you stink.” In film, you can lose sight of your audience; and then you can lose sight of yourself and your own true proportion.”

Words of wisdom indeed. Next up we attended the Buffy & Angel Q&A, featuring J. August Richards (Gunn), Juliet Landau (Drusilla), and James Marsters (Spike). James Marsters challenged everyone to embarrass him (they tried but failed); J. August Richards shared his opinion of Gunn’s story arc from street-savvy vampire hunter to lawyer and back (he was happy with the lawyer arc, and with Gunn going back to his roots when the story needed it); and Juliet Landau spoke about her voice work as the Little Sisters in Bioshock (and how she landed the role thanks to her acting as Drusilla).

The panel was a ton of fun, and I got to check in with J. August Richards afterwards. When asked what he’d like to say about current or future projects, Jay told me that he has something he’s really excited about, but he can’t talk about it just yet. Therefore – check back here on ComicMix in a week or two, when I’ll be interviewing J. August Richards about his newest, as-yet-unannounced project! Yay!

When asked his favorite part of Dragon*Con, Jay replied:

“The people! What I love about Dragon*Con is that it’s one of the rare instances where you get to be around fifty thousand people who are completely non-judgmental.”

Word. At the Buffy panel, Juliet Landau mentioned a documentary she’d made that was airing Saturday, Take Flight: Gary Oldman Directs Chutzpah, and my friend and I love Gary Oldman, so we checked that out as well. I hadn’t heard of it before, but it turned out to be one of the surprise best parts of the weekend. The film is a behind-the-scenes documentary of Gary Oldman’s artistic process as he creates a music video for a Jewish rap group (yes, that really is a thing!), and it is fantastic. I was either smiling or laughing for pretty much the whole thing, because the rappers are funny, and Gary Oldman in creative mode is a thing of joy and awesomeness, and Juliet & co. did an amazing job showing all of that. Juliet also did an excellent job in selecting the classical music that accompanies some parts of the film and really highlights the beauty of the more peaceful scenes.

When asked about what she’d learned in making the film, she replied, “Every set you’re on, you learn. One of the things about Gary on set – and all the best directors I’ve worked with, like Tim Burton and Joss Whedon, are like this – is that he is very focused on the work, but also on having fun. Everybody’s focused, but there really is a joy to be making stuff – that’s really palpable with Gary.” And it really is.

I got to chat with the extremely nice Juliet after the film, and she shared that the documentary is available for purchase on her website. I definitely recommend it, but fair warning: the song being filmed is pretty catchy, so if you watch it, I guarantee you’ll be singing, “Red Rover, Red Rover, send your best guy right over,” for at least half a day afterwards! Juliet also mentioned that her upcoming projects include The Bronx Bull (Raging Bull II), and Where the Road Runs Out. And her favorite part of Dragon*Con? “Meeting all the people!”

Also included in our mad convention dash was the Big Damn Heroes panel, with Adam Baldwin (Jayne), Jewel Staite (Kaylee), and Sean Maher (Simon) of Firefly and Serenity. Those three are like a comedy show once they get going. Highlights of the panel included Nathan Fillion making cameos on all of their cell phones (taking over the panel even when he’s not on the panel, as Adam said!) to check in repeatedly on, basically, how pretty Jewel was looking that day (it really was a hilarious gag, and she really is very pretty); an audience member contributing Firefly bourbon for them to drink; and Adam Baldwin being temporarily embarrassed to share with the crowd (he got over it).

Speaking of Adam, I also went to a Chuck panel where he talked about his role as John Casey; and even when he’s the only one on stage, he’s a riot. Adam answered questions such as whether Casey was really in the Navy or the Marines, and then ribbed fans for being that into the details of the show, noting that “It’s not real!” However, he clearly appreciates the fans who care enough about his characters (notably Jayne) to dress the part, and was particularly kind to a thirteen-year-old fan who was a bit nervous in asking her question. As I said, I sadly missed chatting with Sean and Jewel, but I did get to talk with the quick-witted Adam after the panels.

Adam reports that his newest project is the opening episode of Law & Order: SVU. “I’m joining the cast as a ‘replacement’ for the captain, Cragen, who…got himself in a little bit of hot water last season. So that has kept me a little busy.” As for his favorite part of Dragon*Con? “The people – lovely people who are very kind, and good old Southern hospitality. And the food’s great…you know, wine, women, good food! And the panels …and the utilikilts (pointing). There’s one right behind you.”

And so there was.

Meeting Adam was a lovely experience; and another highlight of the weekend was Jane Espenson’s panel. Jane is like the writer equivalent of actor Mark Sheppard, in that she has written for basically every awesome genre show I’ve ever seen. She’s also delightful to listen to. Her panel focused in a large part on her newest project, Husbands, a web series which can be seen online at lovehusbands.com. We watched an episode, and it’s very funny; and certainly a spin on the newlywed premise that we haven’t quite seen before, being about two gay men who have gotten married in haste and are now dealing with the consequences. She also encouraged people to check out Once Upon A Time over on ABC if they haven’t yet, and answered questions about the writing process, mentioning that she’d like to turn her blog musings into a book someday (yes please, Jane!). Writing tips she shared included her own approach to beginning to write for an established character by asking “what one incident is going to most poke at the character’s emotional core? Getting inside that is one of the best ways to train yourself to be a good writer.” As for her favorite part of Dragon*Con: “Meeting beautiful amazing people in costumes!”

Speaking of people who’ve worked on everything cool ever, I also got to talk with Rob Paulsen, voice actor for a million billion zillion of the toon characters we all know and love, including Yakko Warner, Pinky, and more from Animaniacs. He couldn’t possibly have known that’s one of my favorite cartoon shows ever, but that didn’t stop him from saying, “Hellooooooo, nurses!” as I and my two gal pals walked up to say hi, and, “You all make me want to say, ‘Narf!’” which got the conversation off to a fun start. Rob shared that since he was Raphael on the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, he’s pretty excited to be Donatello now on the new one. “And Sean Astin is Raphael, Jason Biggs is Leonardo, and Greg Cipes is Michelangelo, so that’s great.” He also suggested we check out his podcast, Talking Toons, which can be found on iTunes or RobPaulsenLive.com; and now that I know about it, I certainly will! As for his favorite part of Dragon*Con:

Rob: “The pretty chicks!”

Me: “He says, looking at us…”Rob: “Absolutely! I’m not the blind Turtle!”

Bless.

Walking around the Walk of Fame, I got to chat with several other actors and actresses, including Lee Arenberg, of Pirates of the Caribbean fame (“’Ello, poppet!”) who was enjoying meeting all the fans, and can currently be seen as Grumpy in Once Upon a Time. He also mentioned that he’ll be in the new season of Californication. Last of all I sawMira Furlan, who told me that she’s going to be in a new film starring Penelope Cruz that’s called Twice Born. She then opined that DragonCon was “fantastic – mad and fantastic,” and I couldn’t agree more.

Well! That’s the news for this week, but there’s even more to come, as I also got to attend the Battlestar Galactica panel and chat with those actors while at Dragon*Con and have more to say about that; we’ve got an exclusive chat with J. August Richards in the offing; and I’ve just gotten back from the fantastic Baltimore Comic Con.

So check back for more excitement next week, and until then, Servo Lectio!

TUESDAY AFTERNOON: Michael Davis

WEDNESDAY MORNING: Mike Gold