SDCC Day 2: A Thousand Panels of a Thousand Words

AWESOME words, though.

As indicated by the title, I went to A LOT of panels on 25 July.  (Though not a thousand; the exaggeration is something known as artistic license.)

Friday began much like Thursday: I woke up before the crack of dawn to shower and pack (besides essentials such as wallet, keys, badge, and such, I always bring snacks; it’s far too expensive to eat Con food), and then headed out to make the long drive to San Diego.

I was later than yesterday, which I thought did not bode well for preparing for the madness that is SDCC Saturday. And the trolley was a bit more filled up, though Qualcomm Stadium being as far away from downtown as it is, there were still plenty of seats. I passed the time with Animal Crossing on my 3DS, and of course, collecting StreetPasses (it really sucks you can only get 10 at a time).

It was just past nine in the morning, and the panel I wanted to be at didn’t start for an hour, so I took my time walking around at the Convention Center drop off, and took some pictures I hadn’t yesterday.

IMG_1766A huge advertisement for one of SDCC’s many many many sponsors.

Even the surrounding buildings had huge banners hanging down or plastered along their sides.

A regret of mine from last year was not checking out any of the exhibitions outside the main building, many of which you don’t even need a badge to check out. One of which was an Assassin’s Creed pirate ship docked in the harbor, which by all accounts, was pretty freakin’ awesome. It seemed I was again heading that direction this year, especially since I was virtually alone. Most of my friends didn’t have passes, and those that did were off doing their own thing. A tad lonely, I only looked around at the new Assassin’s Creed obstacle course, not feeling up to a solo challenge.

IMG_1771It was much more impressive as a whole. This is the backside, so…

Though, the more I watched, the more fun it looked, and I decided to think about trying it out on a less busy day, like Sunday.

A new experience I did partake in was seeing a panel at the Hilton Bayfront Hotel. I had noticed the location on the schedule, but I had no idea where it was, besides obviously not being in the main building. There were maps scattered around the entrances, but none were particularly helpful aside from an arrow pointing vaguely to the left. I followed this hesitantly and eventually joined up a bunch of peeps all heading in the same direction.

Most of this crowd were actually joining the Hall H line, which had reached all the way down to the harbor. I don’t know how any of them thought they had any sort of chance of getting in this late in the day, but hey, to each their own. I went along with everyone else to the now visible Hilton. I also discovered the other outside attraction, The Simpsons dome area!

IMG_1794HI, HOMER’S HEAD!

There were booths and games scattered around, but I was running a bit behind by now, and so hurried into the hotel.

I had made it to the right building, but still had no idea of where the room was, and I wandered around the lobby (realizing I had been here last year for a party) and went up and down a couple of escalators before I finally found it.

Fortunately, there were plenty of seats left, but conversely, it was an absolutely ENORMOUS room, possibly the largest I’d ever been in so far in my Con experience. Dumbfounded, I kinda just sorta stood off to the side in a daze before realizing I should probably find somewhere to sit. As a single, I probably could’ve found a place somewhere around the front, but I really hate scooting past people and being crowded by masses of bodies. Since there were huge video screens all over, I figured I might as well be comfortable, and so opted for a seat in the back.

This particular panel was actually not the one I had been waiting for, but as with all Con events, you have to get there early. They don’t clear the rooms after a panel is over, so you can just hang out there all day if you’d like, hence the popularity of Hall H. In this case, I was waiting for the Adventure Time panel, and so had to sit through a different one about Clarence and Uncle Grandpa.

IMG_1780Neither Clarence nor Uncle Grandpa themselves were there though, oddly enough.

Now, I’ve nothing against either of those shows, but they’re not really my cup of tea, to say the least. To me, they seem to be harping on the popularity of Adventure Time (screw italics), without including what makes it so near and dear to everyone’s hearts. Not gonna lie, AT can get incredibly weird. Sometimes my sibs and I will watch an episode and not understand a thing that happened when it’s over, or it involves events that are really messed up. And yet, there’s enough funny and story and character and attractive surrealism to keep us coming back. Uncle Grandpa is just odd.

That being said, I adore the cast, and the crew is always so talented, regardless of the project, so it was still an enjoyable panel.

IMG_1779Moderated by Tom Kenny, no less!

Tom actually moderates tons of panels every year, and he always makes for an entertaining (usually in a lovely self-deprecating kind of way), yet effective host. They managed to efficiently talk about both shows in the small amount of time they had, and though I still had no inclination to watch them, I did gain a greater appreciation of the talent involved. For one thing, Eric Bauza (who is awesome and nice and amazingly talented) continues to astonish me with his incredible range, as the voice he does on Uncle Grandpa sounds like nothing I’ve heard from him before.

IMG_1782The Enigmatic Eric Bauza.

And also on the panel was Kevin Michael Richardson, who I was delighted to see since I knew he wasn’t going to be on the one for TMNT tomorrow.

IMG_1777The Kool Kevin Michael Richardson. (Doing his “suicide” bit, if you were wondering.)

If I hadn’t been waiting for the following panel, I probably would’ve tried to meet up with him afterwards, but then, I had just seen him on Tuesday, so I felt a little less guilty about it, and remained in my seat once the panel was over. The other guests included Pete Browngardt, Spencer Rothbell, and Eric Edelstein.

Finally it was Adventure Time! (Get it?!)

IMG_1789Pay no attention to the blurry!

Unfortunately, only Jeremy Shada, Tom Kenny, and John DiMaggio are listed in the schedule, and I’m terrible with names, but I believe Kent Osborne and Justin Roiland were also there with the other cast and crew.

IMG_1792I can’t make out their names! #blurry

Mostly the panel was sneak peeks about upcoming episodes, and like at WonderCon, any questions asked about specifics or for requests were greeted with, “Why not?” It is pretty cool that a show of this caliber is really free to go off into any direction, and an audience willing to follow it.

IMG_1791The Jovial Justin Roiland.

Once the panel was over, I (and about half the room) left to head back to the main convention center. I actually wasn’t too sure what to do with myself, since my friends were all busy and I didn’t plan on another panel until much later.

I decided to wander the Floor, to see if there was anything in particular I might’ve missed out on. It was once again very busy, and I found myself being scooted along by the crowds rather than walking of my own volition. Mostly, I just looked, having already done my slurging yesterday. Though I did see Snoopy.

IMG_1800He did a little dance, it was awesome.

I also saw this guy:

IMG_1802Steve, from Blue’s Clues, holding a stuffed Blue and carrying a Mailbox. 

Because that is a sick cosplay, seriously. I wondered if he was single…

In my wanderings, I came across a booth that was to have celebrity signings all weekend. There were quite a few famous names on there (and by famous, you know I don’t mean Kardashian or movie star famous), but the one I was interested in was Phil LaMarr.

I had been DYING to meet him ever since I found Rob’s podcasts, as I figured I would actually have a chance to meet the guy at one of the live shows. And in January, Rob did have Phil on – but it was at SketchFest…in San Francisco. Sorely disappointed, I keep trying to catch him at cons, but the stars never aligned – until now.

Trying not to fangirl in the middle of the aisle, I made note of his autograph time, realizing with pleasure he was going to be at the booth in less than an hour. Excited yet composed, I integrated myself back into the Floor crowd.

I had seen most of the major booths yesterday, and I lingered at the ABC one for awhile, though the only show I actually liked was Agents of SHIELD and the upcoming series, Galavant. They were showing videos from their other new shows and renewals, and for someone who hates horror, I lingered for quite awhile watching clips for The Whispers. 

IMG_1804I blame getting knocked in the arm for the blurriness of this one.

And then these were amazing, and for the first time, I actually wished I did play the collector’s game.

IMG_1812I also wish I had monies. 

Eventually, I got too excited to wait around any more, and I headed back to Phil LaMarr’s booth and ended up being the third or fourth in line, which I was fine with, because I had to prepare what I was going to say. Though my social anxiety has gotten wonderfully better in the past couple years, I still get nervous meeting people, especially my heroes. Most of my encounters have turned out alright, if a bit rambly, and I only had one bad experience, which I’m desperately hoping has been forgotten by the party involved.

When Phil came up to the booth, it was one of those heart skipping a beat moments as you realize HOLY SHIZ HE’S RIGHT THERE IN THE FLESH and you try not to freak out and squeal and jump up and down because OMG. Thank goodness for the people in front of me, as I had time to compose myself before it was my turn.

First and foremost, Phil LaMarr is a lovely, kind, friendly, humble, stupidly talented man. He greeted me with a great big smile and seemed wonderfully appreciative when I told him how long I’d been waiting to meet him. He then asked for my name, and I was completely taken aback when he recognized it.

WHAT

I certainly hadn’t planned for this, and I stammered something incoherent before quipping that I must be infamous or something. Phil replied in the negative and I think I said it must be because of Rob Paulsen’s podcast, and then we got to talking about the one at SketchFest that I’d missed, which then led to the real point of this visit: heaping praise on this gifted man.

I told him how much my sister and I LOVE his take on the Green Lantern, who was our first GL, and how confused we were when the movie came out. Who was this white guy? we wondered. Phil laughed at that, and when I said that Static Shock was the first superhero show I  had ever watched and loved, he quipped that was nice because I didn’t have to since I was white. That made ME laugh. Then I rambled a bit about his work on Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends and TMNT, before finally asking for a picture. I do hate taking pictures with people I admire, I always feel so awkward, but I was NOT missing out on an opportunity like this.

IMG_1809This made my whole day.

(Now that I’m looking at the picture again, I remember he commented on my shirt after I mentioned I watched Turtles, and I couldn’t figure out why, unless he connected the two with Rob. And HE had a legit awesome shirt, too! Also, I was unconsciously bending my knees to make our heights more equal, and he kindly told me to stand up straight – he likes tall women. WELL OKAY THEN. xD)

It was all actually kinda funny, especially since one of the booth staff had to take it for us, and after that nice picture, a really awkward one followed and Phil even agreed it was worth deletion.

Having done that, I decided to get going while the going was good, and said bye and that I hoped he would be on Rob’s podcast again (in LA this time), and then skedaddled. The whole thing had left me absolutely ecstatic and I wandered around for awhile in a daze of my own happiness.

Once I returned to earth, I realized I didn’t know what else to do. After looking around the Floor a bit more and checking the schedule, I decided to go check out the Rick and Morty panel. Turns out, it was back at the Hilton Bayfront, and I even got my original seating spot once I made it inside the room (this time there was a line).

IMG_1816

I’m actually not a big fan of “adult” cartoons, as I usually find them to be overly crude and gross. Rick and Morty doesn’t necessarily stray away from that formula, but it somehow manages to add a unique twist and freshness, despite arguably being a grotesque (literary) ripoff of Back to the Future. Which was intended, of course. Many of the laughs are uncomfortable, and I often find myself being turned off by the events taking place rather than intrigued, but unlike a lot of adult cartoons, it has heart (though probably a Grinch-like one) and enticing storylines (watch “Lawnmower Dog”, it’s amazing) – and a wild fanbase.

IMG_1821Creators Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland, who were both dressed as something or other.

The room was stuffed full of people, and even Roiland expressed surprise that nearly everybody was indeed there for their show’s panel, not a following one. Even though it had only been airing for less than a year, there were already cosplayers and people shouting catchphrases. So it was kinda cool to see the following the series already had, and wonder if it will turn from cult to mass.

The panel mostly discussed past episodes, and teased with what the second season is going to involve. The other panelists were Spencer Grammar and Chris Parnell.

IMG_1819Just realized how obstructive that guy’s head is, sorry.

After it was over, I went back to the main building to see the Gravity Falls panel, a show I absolutely adore and encourage EVERYONE to watch. Unfortunately, I underestimated its popularity, because by the time I got there, the line to get in the room was out the door and down a flight of stairs. The line guard, when I asked, indicated that much of the crowd was for subsequent panels, too, but either way, it was clear I wasn’t getting in.

The Indigo Ballroom at the Hilton was really the place to be for animation fans, because the next panel I wanted to see, Bob’s Burgers, was also in there. It didn’t start till 16:00, though, and it was only 14:30. Since I was already on a panel-seeing roll, I figured I might as well go early.

I almost didn’t make it back into the room this time, only managing because I was either cute or a single. (Both?) Once more, I was able to get my place in the back. The panel this round was Mike Tyson Mysteries.

Now, I had thought studios had given up on creating pointless television shows around real life “celebrities”, but I was so wrong. Again, the crew is great, the cast mostly so, but it was very clear that this was a very silly project and everyone knew it.

Everyone except Mike Tyson.

IMG_1828Oh yeah, he was there. In all his terrifying terrifyingness. 

What followed was the most bizarre panel I’ve ever seen. Tyson took it all EXTREMELY seriously, and was utterly baffled by sarcastic questions or the parodical nature of “his” show. For lack of a better term, he didn’t “get it”. And it was hilarious. Two guys next to me were laughing their guts out, one expressing that this was the best panel of the whole Con. Tyson took over most of the panel, leaving little time for fellow panelists, Jim Rash, Rachel Ramras, and Hugh Davidson.

IMG_1832Jim and Rachel. (No OTP, sorry.)

The funniest thing about it was that no one dared argue or reason with Tyson, because he’s freakin’ Mike Tyson. He could crush your spine with a single fingerflick! I noticed the producer having to smother his grins, and he only facepalm’d twice.

After that surreal session, the next panel was Robot Chicken. Another show I’m not familiar with, it not being my style, but again, the caliber of talent working behind the scenes is always to be appreciated.

IMG_1840Seth Green, Matthew Senreich, Tom Root, Zeb Wells, and Breckin Meyer.

I knew Seth Green’s work, of course, and Meyer I knew from the Garfield movies and the short-lived sitcom, Married to the Kellys. Most of the panel time was taken up by the screening of their new special about “Bitch Pudding”, which made fun of the Strawberry Shortcake characters as well as the Smurfs universe. Lots of swearing.

IMG_1836Funny back-and-forth between Green and Meyer.

(Besides his talent, I like Seth for his humble, cheerful, friendly attitude and though I’ve not met him, he seems to be a really great guy, and I’m looking forward to his take on Leo in the upcoming TMNT seasons, replacing Jason Biggs.)

There was a short Q&A session before the panel ended, and then at last, it segued into Bob’s Burgers.

IMG_1843The creator, Loren Bouchard, wearing a Tina mask. Because awesome.

I suppose this is technically an adult show, though I would place it akin to The Simpsons rather than Family Guy. It’s not “kid” friendly, perhaps, but it is certainly family friendly, and wonderfully hilarious. The writing is stellar, and so is the cast, with H. Jon Benjamin, Dan Mintz, John Roberts, Kristen Schaal, and Larry Murphy.

IMG_1847All the peeps I just named and executive producer, Jim Dauterive.

I had actually seen everybody except H. Jon Benjamin at WonderCon, but it was still startling to hear Tina’s voice coming out of Dan Mintz – because that’s really how he sounds. Right down to the “uhhs”! (If you watch the show, you’ll know what I mean.) Kristen Schaal is always a delight (I love her as Mabel on Gravity Falls), and John Roberts is amazing as Linda, sounding nothing like a Bostonian woman, though you could hear similar vocal tics. When I first watched the show, it was obvious that the female roles were being played by men, but they do it so well and embody the characters in such a way that it’s scarcely noticeable anymore.

They all got asked great questions, too.

One guy came up to the mic with a ukulele that he only recently learned how to play, thanks to the music on the show, and he pulled off a pretty great rendition of the theme song. It honestly made me want to learn!

IMG_1858EVERYBODY got Tina masks!

Like at WonderCon, what I loved best about this panel and this group was how much everyone really loves being part of the show, and loves the fanbase, and Bouchard was a great moderator, maintaining a perfect balance of the cool professional while also humorously indulging the more silly questions.

The panel ended on a cheerful note of still more episodes to come, and we all walked out into the late San Diego afternoon.

I knew there were probably a lot of parties and events tonight, but none that I knew of in particular. With my friends all busy, I decided to just head back home. Due to the early hour, the trolley was nearly overflowing with people, but thanks to some advice from a nearby staff member, I managed to get on one that wasn’t quite so full.

I was tired, but not overtly so, and thus drove home without nearly falling asleep. I even got to have dinner with my family, and relax a bit before an early bedtime.

Tomorrow was going to be a MUCH busier day.

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