“Respect My Craft” – Clare Kramer

In this consumer-based industry, it can be easy to forget the years of hard work that the people in the business put in. Behind every panel, it takes a skilled writer, artist, inker and colorist to make the product complete. Behind each scene goes hours of preparation. Hush Comics’ “Respect My Craft” articles will dive into the history of these comic book and pop culture greats that will hopefully give a new perspective on how the men and women behind the pen (or stylus) contribute to the collective awesome-ness of the nerd world, or at least give you a reason to invest in their work.

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Click on the link to take you to all of our Denver Comic Con “Respect My Craft” articles

Name: Clare Kramer

Profession: Actress, Director, Internet Personality

Notable Work: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Bring it On, Big Ass Spider!, and Co-Founder of the very popular entertainment site GeekNation.

“I think us Whedon actors tend to stuck together! I’ve become friends with many of the Angel and Firefly peeps. We do tend to travel together to a lot of the conventions – which I liken to summer camp! The great thing about getting Buffy was it was my first job in LA – so many of my lifelong friends were spawned from that job!” – Clare Kramer in her Reddit AMA in August of 2012.

Clare Kramer may be known to Whedon fans as Glory, or more appropriately, Glorificus, but she wasn’t always the hell Goddess. Kramer’s first job was the mascot for Wendy’s. You know, the little girl with pigtails. The perk? She did get free hamburgers during that stint.

Kramer went to NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts from 1997-2000, graduating from the prestigious program in just three years with a BFA. The young actress had some bit parts off-Broadway, but made her “big” break in 2000 when she moved to L.A. and auditioned for the little teen movie Bring it On. Kramer has admitted that she did not think anyone would see the movie. “This shows how poor my judgment used to be when filming. I thought that while we were having a great time, and it was so much fun filming and I had a blast, that nobody would actually ever see it. It would be one of those movies that kind of slips under the radar. But then I got a call from my manager and he had gone to Universal for a screening and he said ‘Okay. This is going to be successful.’ It was a pleasant surprise.”

Kramer’s role as Courtney, the bitchy cheerleader, started her career of playing the “bitch.” For people who know Kramer, this comes off as quite a surprise. In her personal life, Kramer is known to friends and fans as being a genuinely sweet woman. Her acting talent is proven with how well she portrays the snobby girl.

Clare Kramer in Bring it On

Later in the year, Kramer auditioned for a role in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a move that would change the course of her career; becoming apart of the cast of anything by Joss Whedon automatically enrolls actors for a cast and crew family and a rather enthusiastic fanbase.

Clare Kramer as Glory in Buffy the Vampire Slayer

The beautiful blonde was cast as Glory, the Big Bad of season 5, and mega nemesis for Buffy. Glory was sexy, witty, strong, and the only Big Bad to successfully kill the heroine. What Kramer brought to the role was recognition that Glory wasn’t necessarily evil, but that she only had one thing on her mind: getting home. It should also be noted that Glory was Ben, which was just as much of a shock to Kramer as it was to the audience. She has publicly stated that she is happy that she didn’t know because it would have affected her performance.

Clare Krame as Glory in Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Fans connected with Glory very quickly. Season 4 of Buffy had a myriad of Big Bads. It felt like we didn’t know who the good guys or the bad guys were, but Glory’s entrance in season 5 made it very clear who Buffy was fighting against. The blondes fought each other many times,  and Glory’s personality was reminiscent of Cordelia when she was still in Sunnydale. But Glory also had a knack for summing up humans perfectly, making her really relatable.

Following her 13 episode stint on the critically acclaimed show, Kramer has gone on to several different roles, most involving horror or paranormal aspects. Some of those titles include Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Mummy an’ the Armadillo, Tru Calling, The Gravedancers,The Dead Ones, Road to Hell, and Big Ass Spiders!.

Since 2012, Kramer has been working hard on the entertainment website she co-founded, GeekNation. GeekNation specializes in geek culture, focusing their content on news, podcasts, shows, and Mosters. Clare Kramer co-founded the site with film producer Brian R. Keathley and ran the podcast “Five by Five” and the show “Take 5 with Clare Kramer,” where she interviewed celebrities associated with the nerd world. Most notably, Kramer interviewed Stan Lee in her second episode of “Take 5.”

Geek Nation Logo

Currently, Kramer spends a lot of time on the con circuit. Popular with fans, Kramer has worked her way up from just having a table to hosting main event panels at major cons such as Emerald City. You can see Clare Kramer at Denver Comic Con 2015 at her booth and hosting all the main event panels. Make sure you stop by and say hello to this self-proclaimed geek!

Sources: Pop Culture Addict, GeekNation, Comics Grinder, and IMdB.

Denver Comic Con 2014

Get your best People’s Eyebrow on, because finally, Hush Comics has come back… to Denver. It was just one year ago that we stepped in the Colorado Convention Center for the Second Annual Denver Comic Con and our eyes were open to what Hush could do. After the local convention blew us away, we started venturing to other conventions around the country – well, as much as our budget allows. This year, we were a well-oiled machine. We were handing out cards and stickers (hit us up if you want one because we have a few extras!), mingling with fellow con-goers and doing almost everything there was to be done. We took a bunch of pictures of cosplayers, attended a bunch of panels and even got to interview some of the hottest artists at the convention, all of which you can find at the links below.

In this article, you will find one of the most complete Denver Comic Con 2014 experiences on the web, all of which came from a diverse team (see Special Thanks To at the end of the article) of nerds that we have the pleasure of calling our own.

See also:

Denver Comic Con 2014 Cosplay articles

Denver Comic Con 2014 Panel articles

Denver Comic Con 2014 Interviews

Spotlights on 30 of our favorite DCC 2014 guests

Click on the link to take you to all of our Denver Comic Con 2014 articles

The City

The Mile High City is home to the fastest-growing city of nerds in the country. In only its third year, the estimated attendance of nearly 75,000 people has sky-rocketed it to the fourth-largest comic book convention in the WORLD, right behind San Diego, New York City and Toronto – cities with at least four times the population than that of Denver. Google “Nerdiest cities in America,” and there’s a good chance you’ll find Denver on any given list.

One of the greatest qualities of the nerds here in Denver is how diverse they are, making comic cons here a hotbed for the Mile High community. A hardcore Star Wars fan might know all there is to know about but know nothing of Doctor Who and comic books, or vice versa. This diversity usually leads to tons of pocketed groups, meaning that there is always somebody that you can strike up a conversation with pretty much anybody at any time about anything. Most convention goers I have spoken with are nice enough to tell you about their respective fandoms.

The city of Denver isn’t actually all that big, but several large suburbs make up a fair percentage of the land and population. Thanks to years of construction projects, navigating the city from any particular section is fairly early when taking the RTD Light Rail system. The best part was boarding the train with a ton of cosplayers, decked out in their extravagant costumes, sitting right next to people who had no idea Comic Con was even going on. Also, if you wanted to drive, you don’t have to roll the dice on a spot downtown or settle for an expensive lot; there were plenty of parking spots across the street from the Colorado Convention Center at Metro State University.

If you’re staying downtown, there is plenty to do on the weekends. One of the nerdiest attractions is the 1UP bar, a full-service bar that has a plethora of old-school arcade games like Mortal Kombat IITron and Paperboy – even a real-life giant game of Jenga with 2 x 4 blocks of wood. The Pavilion area on 16th street is also quite the fantastical place, full of street performers, eateries and shops to pass the time. Theater nerds can geek out at the Denver Center of Performing Arts, which hosts a variety of plays and events all year long.

There are multiple comic book stores in the metro area, and additional ones in surrounding suburbs. Each shop offers a different experience and has a specialty of sorts. All C’s Collectibles in Aurora is a great place to find sports cards, coin collections and back issues. The shop has been in business for over 25 years and is the go-to spot when I’m on that side of town. I Want More Comics is an up and coming store in Northglenn (about 10-15 minutes of highway North of downtown) that has a lot of trade paperbacks and unique collectibles. It’s hard to spend less than an hour per visit there. The store we go to for books is Mile High Comics, which has four locations in the metro area. Their Glendale store on Colorado Blvd is pretty much home to me, where Aaron and Jay always hook us up with our weekly books and specialty figures. Mile High’s Jason St. warehouse is just that – a warehouse, and the biggest comic book emporium in the world. Whether it’s a rare back-issue, an out-of-print trade or a toy you didn’t know you needed, you can find just about anything in the world of nerd at that warehouse.

Denver is a city that makes itself very accessible to nerds, and is very accepting of the culture, in general. It’s one of the contributing factors that makes it one of the best cities in the country for young professionals, hipsters, and relocation. The continued diversity of people Denver gets only adds to the attraction of events like Comic Con. The best part is that the event hasn’t even been saturated; there are still thousands of people who either couldn’t go or need to be converted. Denver is a nerd gold mine right now, and it’s great to see how many people are striking big in the Mile High City.

How Denver Comic Con Works:

Let’s be honest; last year’s Denver Comic Con was poorly organized. It wasn’t DCC’s fault, either. There was just no way to prepare for the explosion of attendance that happened between the inaugural year, which saw a modest 28,000 people attend, and 2013, where attendance ballooned to 63,000 people – making it the fifth largest convention in the world after only two years. The problems were more logistical than anything, and this year was a great reaction to the issues that plagued the previous convention. The entire exhibitor’s hall was organized in a much more logical fashion, volunteers were actually informed of what was happening, and people were actually let in the doors when the Con opened.

This year, DCC saw a reported 75,000 attendees flood the convention center. Some were looking for autographs and art sketches, some were looking to go to panels and look at cosplayers, and some were just so absolutely lost in the chaos that they walked the exhibitor’s hall like a group of Amish at Best Buy. I would venture to say that a majority of the attendees knew what they wanted to do and how to get there. Artists and creators were located at the back of the hall, while retail shops and displays took up most of the front. Off to the side was the celebrity signing booths, where various celebs took to signing for large blocks of time. Meanwhile, panel rooms were sprawled out on the first floor. Convention food could be found in multiple places, and aside from the $4 bottles of water, it was reasonably priced and tasted delicious.

Due to the fact that we had a team of BAMFs (Nightcrawler or Pulp Fiction – either analogy works) networking, attending panels, and taking some great cosplay pics, we were free to do so much more than before at a convention. For others, it was a bit more difficult. Due to the small size of the Main Even and Mini Main Event panel rooms, it wasn’t uncommon to wait for an hour just to get a seat in a panel. We noticed the same thing when it came to getting a sketch from an artist or an autograph from a celebrity. At that point, it’s all a matter of prioritization. There were definitely things we didn’t get to do or see over the weekend, but I feel like had they been our top priorities, they would have gotten done.

There is so much cosplay going on at the Denver Comic Con that it punches you right in the face as you walk in the doors. The sheer volume was amazing. I’d guess that I saw more people dressed as Harley Quinn here than I did people dressed up altogether at Houston’s Comicpalooza. From Dragonball Z to Dark Crystal, the diverse crowd really made for a thoroughly entertaining game of Guess Who? People we talked to said they came to DCC specifically for the cosplay, and the hard work put into their costumes proved their validity – especially in the contest winning Mr. Freeze. The dedication didn’t just stop at costumes. Colorado Movie Cars had a fleet of nerd-inspired vehicles for attendees to look at, including the Ghostbusters‘ Ecto-1, Knight Rider‘s K.I.T.T., Bumblebee’s Camaro, Herbie and the TMNT Party Wagon, which it has become my new goal in life to build. There were also two Batmobiles in the house (Burton and West) and the Umbrella Corps Dodge Magnum.

This year also brought in some big name guests. Since the convention was created to promote Comic Book Classroom, a lot of the guests are people that we grew up idolizing as kids, like: Kevin Conroy (the voice of Batman in Batman: The Animated Series), Jim Cummings (the voice of Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, and Darkwing Duck), Adam West and LeVar Burton. We were all there to see somebody different, and our varying experiences were all equally cherished. The love didn’t stop there, though, as we were able to get some astonishing artwork and keepsakes from our favorite people in the nerd world.

 

 

Meet the Press!

Hush Comics was lucky enough to receive media passes to DCC, and we felt like we were treated with great respect. Not only were we able to get priority seating for the popular panels, but we were also granted access to the exhibitor’s hall before the doors opened. Both days we snuck in early, we were there to interview artists. We were able to sit down for an extended amount of time and speak with Georges Jeanty, who just ended his run on Serenity: Leaves on the Wind, and Yanick Paquette, who’s currently working on Wonder Woman: Earth One. Both were complete gentlemen, and the formal interview quickly turned into a completely casual back and forth. We were even able to request a commission from each of them of our favorite characters making a hushing gesture and they turned out amazing! Check them out below:

 

Like at Comicpalooza, we were lucky enough to give away a couple of 3-Day passes to a lucky Facebook fan by the name of Jumoke Emery, who is a great guy getting to enjoy his first Comic Con. Here’s his account of the weekend:

So I have a confession to make: This was my very first Comic Con experience. Mostly I spent it wandering around starry-eyed, high-fiving awesome cosplays while not the least bit tipsy off of Brews Wayne. I was most excited for the panels, yet managed to miss every single panel that I stood in line for (P.S. Comic-con lines for panels can be ridiculous, and I’ve decided that the fire marshal and I aren’t friends). However, I still had a blast! Being among my fellow geeks feels like home, now the only debate is whether I’m John Stewart or Power Man for next year’s Con. Shout outs to Hush Comics for helping me have an amazing Father’s Day weekend!

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Aside from the great interactions we had with people, it was such a joy to be able to tell people what we’ve built over the past year. It’s not the shiniest website on the web, but the hard work and hours of writing feels validated when we get such great feedback from people we randomly meet and strike up conversations with. I can only expect that we will continue to grow, adding more quality writers and covering more ground than we do now. Thanks to everybody that made this a fun and fruitful experience. See you next year!

 

Special Thanks to:

Jacob Robinson: You may have seen him dressed as Ash Bender at DCC, or just noticed his stylish mustache and dreads. Jacob wrote multiple panel articles and

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Jené Conrad: Although Jené had to leave for the weekend to attend a friend’s wedding, she was an integral part of getting set up for the convention, and was not shy at all about networking with others on Hush’s behalf.

Robert Michael: Most of the photography of the convention you see was taken by either Adrian or Robert. He also wrote a few of the big panels, like The Oatmeal and Arrow. Robert was the utmost professional and we are lucky to have him on the team

Robert LOVES reading
Robert LOVES reading

 

Alyssa Mitchell: This girl is a machine! She came to the convention after pulling night shifts, and was an absolute pleasure to be around. She’s Robert’s girlfriend, so it makes sense she was always at work – whether it be pushing the Hush name, taking media duties or helping us plan out the day.

Charlotte Renken: Our newest writer is a straight-up prodigy. We sawn her passion for cosplay inspire others in real time, and we’re lucky her unique voice has found a home at Hush Comics.

charlotte newmar

Lewis Brown: This phenomenal artist is one of our favorites in Denver. Check out his Facebook page. He’s extremely humble and personable, and he spent a lot of his time at the con doing free work for the non-profit Aurora Rise. Definitely make yourself familiar with his work, so that one day, you can tell people you knew who Lewis Brown was before he made it.

Lewis Brown Sketch 1

Scott McCauliffe: Scott has had the most unique experience at DCC among us; he has been an artist at the con, a patron, and this year, a member of the press. He was able to make it for Father’s Day, and his article on his experience is one worth reading.

John Layman

Evan Lowe: Evan couldn’t be here in person this year. He was busy completing a rigorous course to get his Master’s Degree in Social Work! The only thing he requested was a picture of Lou Ferrigno. I’d like to think we delivered. Now that his courseload has slowed down, expect more from him soon.

Lou Ferrigno Evan

Sherif and Adrian: We had to throw a little love our way… mostly so I could post these pictures of us.

 

Tips for Future DCC-ers:

  • Buy your passes early. Even if you end up not going, you can definitely sell the passes on Craigslist or at the door. When we originally bought 3-Day passes a few months in advance, we paid $55/pass. Compare that to the daily rates of $40/day they were charging the week of the con, and you’ll be face-palming yourself for not capitalizing on the situation earlier.
  • Before the convention starts, make a list of things you want to do, and plan it out according to which days things are happening. If you plan things out, there’s a good chance you can get to it all.
  • Cosplaying is amazing, but what’s even better is wearing comfortable shoes. You will spend hours walking, standing, rinsing, repeating. On a similar note, please do shower and wear deodorant. Yes, people will know it’s you, and they will judge you for it. DCC even put on a satirical PSA about “Con Funk” to reiterate the dangers of not valuing personal hygiene.
  • If you get cold often, bring a sweatshirt in the convention center; it might be 90 outside, but it’s likely refrigerated inside.
  • Know where the Guiry’s booth is. Grab any sleeves for prints/pictures you need to avoid getting them all smashed up.
  • Come prepared to buy stuff: artists prints, doo-hickies, collectibles, and of course, comic books. Also know that you will be having to bring or send this stuff back home with you. Some of the best things to prepare are:
    • Comic book portfolio: holds approximately ten issues for signing and collecting.
    • Poster tube or picture hard-sleeve: don’t let those prints/signatures get bent. Trust me, hiding it in a book will not cut it.
    • Know where a nearby FedEx is to ship back the really valuable stuff
  • Take a fair amount of cash with you. A lot of the booths and special events only accept cash – not to mention cash only parking lots in the surrounding area – so avoid getting caught cashless when a good opportunity arises. There are ATMs available around the convention center.
  • If you have time to leave the convention center, there are a lot of great, relatively inexpensive places to chow down nearby. Some of our favorites are: Cheba Hut, Snarf’s and Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. (kinda pricey, but worth it if you’ve never been).
  • Over-estimate the time it takes to get anywhere. Denver is largely a commuter city, so plan accordingly.
  • Prior to going to the convention center, make a to-do list of what you want to accomplish and decide what is realistic.
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously. Ever.

Denver Comic Con 2014 Interview – Georges Jeanty

This weekend at Denver Comic Con 2014, Hush Comics interviewed the wonderful artist Georges Jeanty, famous for his work on Buffy Season 8 and 9, as well as his current stint on Serenity: Leaves on the Wind.  He had a lot to say about his past, present, and future, including his time with Joss, what he really thinks about Buffy hook-ups, and whether or not Wonder Woman is in his future.

Click on the link to take you to all of our Denver Comic Con 2014 articles

Hush Comics: What was it about comics that sucked you in?

Georges Jeanty: I guess when you’re a kid, you really don’t know anything else.  Maybe now you do with video games and all, but that really didn’t exist.  Maybe Pong existed when I was a kid.  It was just the love of stories, reading, and things like that.  I was a very weird child.  I liked to read when I was younger.  And, comics just grabbed me.  And it grabbed me in a way that it just never let me go.  And then when you get older, you realize, ‘Hey, I can draw!” And then you go, ‘Hey, I’m actually kind of good.  Hey, look I can do this.”  So it was sort of a natural, evolutionary process.

HC: Currently, you are working on the Serenity comic, and I know you were a fan of the show Firefly, when it was on the air, so can you tell me a bit about what made you love the story?

GJ: Love the story that I was doing or the show?

HC: Both.

GJ: Well it’s a show that really had potential and obviously cut down before its prime, type of thing.  So, it’s very sad.  The vindication, of course, is that it got a movie and it goes on from there.  The comics, honestly, it’s all because of Joss Whedon.  I firmly believe that if Joss Whedon didn’t like comics, it would not be a comic book, per se.  Buffy probably would have been, because I believe Buffy is co-owned by FOX, but Joss has Firefly and had he never really been interested in the medium, there probably wouldn’t be a Firefly comic book.  The story is great because it’s the first one that really is post film and it takes place after and you find out what happens to everybody and where they went after the film.  So that’s the really cool part about it.  As a fan, I couldn’t wait to read the scripts when I was getting those.

HC: Awesome!  I am a huge fan, too.  When you were younger, I have heard that you wanted to be an actor.  Who were your inspirations and did you ever act in anything?

GJ: Man, when I was younger, Robin Williams was Mork in Mork and Mindy.  I have always been more attracted to comedy and the people who make you laugh.  It is sort of a philosophical thing.  You never forget the person who makes you laugh.  Somebody can you make you cry, somebody can make you mad, somebody can you give you all those other emotions, but it’s the people, you may not even remember their names, but the people that make you laugh.  I did a little bit in high school, acting, and in college, and church plays here and there, but I quickly realized I was a better artist than I was an actor.   Or that it would probably pay better for me sooner than later.

HC: So at one point you were an artist with a collaborative Gaijin Studios.  What did you do there and how did being with them get you the big gigs that you ended up with?

GJ: Gaijin Studios was primarily just a studio with a bunch of artists. We didn’t necessarily produce anything.  We all worked in the same area as a sort of cohabitation.  We all had our cubicles or rooms as it were.  The great thing about that was a lot of the guys there had been in the business a little longer than I had, and had a reputation that when I was looking for work I could say, ‘Yeah, I’m part of this group called Gaijin,’ and it was part of this swag of being part of that studio that people were like, ‘Oh! Interesting.  I know the studio.  I don’t know you, but if you’re part of that studio, you must pretty good. ‘  So that probably got me Bishop: The Last X-Man years and years ago, and that probably got me that gig.

HC: Speaking of Bishop, Days of Future Past just came out and as a kid I always connected with the animated version of the story.  So how does it feel to have your version of Bishop on the big screen?

GJ: It was the version that I did.  It wasn’t technically my version because that concept was already done when I came to the book.  I evolved in it.  I did about 15 issues of Bishop, so it sort of evolved into whatever version it was.  It was really cool.  I have no criticism, per se, but, of course, you’re looking at something and thinking, ‘Yeah, he would have been a little bit bulkier,’ or ‘He would have been a little more of this.’ But just to see the character that you did, and essentially went into obscurity, its nicely vindicated.  Granted he didn’t have a lot of screen time.  Funny enough, if you didn’t now who he was, you’re going, ‘What? What’s he doing?’  Bishop could absorb power and redirect it. That was his mutant power.  But they never actually explain that in the movie.  So, you’re kind of like, ‘Ok, I guess he can shoot stuff out of his hands. Cool.’

HC: Can you tell me a little bit about how you were able to work with John Ridley on The American Way?

GJ: John Ridley, who has just blown up, totally. Actually coming out next he has got a musical biography of Jimi Hendrix coming later this year.

HC: With Andre 3000?

GJ: With Andre 3000.  Yeah he [John Ridley] was a great guy.  Again, another guy who just loved comics.  He did a couple of things with Wildstorm.  He wrote Authority and then something else, a short story.   And then he pitched this creator owned gig and they brought me on after the fact to say, ‘Hey, he would love to collaborate with you.’  I created the look of the characters with a description that he had done.  He said essentially, ‘You being apart of this, I know there aren’t any big stars or Superman, Batman, any of those characters are not in here, but what I can offer you is a piece of this particular pie should it ever go anywhere.  This was 8 or 9 years ago, where you going, ‘Oh, whatever.  Cool.’  And the story was so good.  I think at the time, I was pegged to do The Flash.  So I was geared towards something that was more established and more known.  After I read his script I was going ‘Oh my God.  This is so good.  If I didn’t draw this, this is something I would want to pick up and read.’  And finally Ben Abernathy, the editor, at Wildstorm at that title at the time was really selling it.  Through Ben’s generosity, I said, ‘Sounds like these would be really cool people to work with.’  When you’re looking at a project like that, originally it was 10 issues and it ended up being 8 issues, but you’re going, ‘I’m going to be with these guys for 8 months.’  That’s a relationship where you’re like, ‘If I don’t like you now, I’m really not going to like you in 8 months.  But if you seem cool, hopefully there is hope that we will really get along.’  John and I got along great.  I mean it was a lot of back and forth.  We called each other a lot and talked about it.  He loved the comic medium.  He really loved the idea that he was saying something about the Civil Rights Movement and all that stuff.  It is probably one of the things I am most proud of in this business.

HC: That says a lot.  After you were done working on The American Way, you were contacted to work on Buffy.  Up that point you hadn’t seen the series yet, but piggybacking off of my Firefly question, what is it about the Buffy story that you love, not only the show, but what you did?

GJ: Uh, that it was Joss Whedon.  I didn’t even read the script.  I didn’t know what the script was, but they said, ‘Well Joss Whedon’s going to be writing the first arc.  Would you be interested?’  I’m like, ‘Yeah.  Sure.’  And I hadn’t really watched Buffy.  I knew Buffy through pop culture, but I had never really absorbed her, and I really quickly caught up when I did get the gig.  Joss was really generous.  I knew who he was, and just the fact that he was giving this to me, this guy who really had no reputation.  I mean, I had done books, but whatever.  He had seen my work, liked it, and wanted me.  I was like ‘Yeah, you’re Joss Whedon.  Cool.’ [Now referring to Joss] ‘No, no, dude, here’s my phone number.  Call me if you need anything, or if you have questions about his or that.’  This was the first time Joss was actually doing a Buffy comic book which was very monumental.   Buffy had been printed up until then for years, but he had never actually done anything.  He did a little something in the Tales of the Vampire and the Tales of the Slayer, but never on Buffy directly.  I quickly realized how much of a big deal this was.  I jumped in on that strength, not really knowing the character.

HC: I know that you didn’t watch it before hand, and I have heard you watched it out of order.  What order did you watch it in?

GJ: I did.  I started with season 6 and then 7.  I liked it so much, because the sent me season 6 and 7 on DVD, I liked it so much, I went back and watched 1-5 on my own.

HC: And did you watch 6 and 7 again so you felt you had the whole series?

GJ: No.  I sort of watched little bits here and there where I needed to get the characters a little more defined.  No, in my mind when I think of Buffy in the end it’s when she actually dies saving Dawn.  That season 6 two-parter was kind of strange because I’m like, ‘She’s dead? So she’s coming back? And who is this biker gang? And now there is this other Slayer thing? What is this?’  And a big thing that I just never understood was her Slayer strength.  I knew she was a Slayer, but to me that did not automatically denote she was more powerful than everybody.  So, a lot of the first few episodes I saw, I felt bad that this girl is getting beaten up and I thought, ‘Oh my God, this is like a masochistic television show. That poor little girl.’  And then when I talked to Joss, because I was doing the comic book… I sort of need details.  You need your stage in order to perform.  You need to know what’s on that stage so you know what you can use.  And with Buffy, I told Joss, ‘Well she’s strong.  Ok. I get that, but how strong?  Is she Superman strong?‘  And he’s like, ‘Well, it’s funny.  We’ve never really tested her limit, but in all honesty, think maybe Spider-Man strong, not Superman strong.  But definitely more than Batman strong.’  So that sort of put things in place to me where as an artist I knew how far I could go.  She could probably turn over a car, but she would have a lot of trouble lifting it over her head.  Those little details, which obviously never came to play in the book, but I knew what she could do.

HC:  I have heard season 6 is your favorite season.  Is that still true?

GJ: Yes.  Totally.  I’m all about change.  I totally get it, the people who were with it all the way from the beginning, people love season 3 when Faith comes in, and no one likes season 4 for some reason.  But there were moments like Oz and Willow, and then Tara coming in.  There are moments in every season.  It’s not that any one season is a blanket of awful or great.  There are moments.  But I thought season 6 just said, ‘This is what it was, and now these guys are growing. ‘  Sometimes, you might have a bad year, or you might get fired.  That year is your lowest year, but that doesn’t mean you are any less of a person, but your life has changed.  That year was such a year of change. A lot of people who didn’t like Spike were like, ‘Well, that’s because they hooked up that season and it was awful.’  I appreciated that change and I loved Andrew, Warren and Jonathon coming in.  Those guys were so funny.  It’s obvious the writers were having a great time writing their dialog.  That felt to me like a cool season.

HC: Do you have a moment from season 6, that you are like, ‘That’s the moment’?

GJ: I’m probably supposed to say The Musical.  It’s been a while now and all of has just morphed in to one big Buffy ball.  I couldn’t tell you the specifics of season 6.  I will tell you though, and since Joss was such a big comic book fan, he modeled Willow’s dissension on Jean Grey and Dark Phoenix.  When you watch it having known that, you see that when Willow brings Buffy back and then Giles has that conversation, like, ‘You incompetent idiot.  How could you have done that?’  And she’s like, ‘Maybe you should be a little nicer to me knowing how much I actually did.’  You can see she wasn’t bad there because she didn’t have the black magic obviously, but you can tell there was that seed that was planted and I love that.  And it’s something if you’re a long time you’re like, ‘Cool, this is going somewhere.’  Oh! Ok, I do have a moment.  Probably the best moment, and Joss loves to do this, is when Dark Willow is doing whatever, he [Joss] recreated it in season 8 in the first arc, where Willow is like ‘Nothing can stop me now.’ And then bam!  She gets hit and Giles is like, ‘I’d like to test that theory.’  And that’s the end of the episode, and it’s like, that is the coolest ending ever.  And when Amy the rat comes back and she does it and Willow does the same thing, it’s ‘Oh my God that is so cool.  And I was a part of it.  Cool!’

HC: That is awesome!  How has working under Joss’ direction influenced the way you tell stories through art?

GJ: His story telling is not so much about the script.  I learned a lot more talking to him.  I’m the kind of artist where I get the script, I read it, absorb it, but of course there will be little nuances and I always tell a writer I work with, ‘Do you mind if I call you because I want to get your thoughts.  When you say this person walks into the room upset… Buffy walks into the room upset, that could mean a lot.  Could be upset that she just had a hangnail, or she didn’t get her nails done, or upset that she got really bad news.’  I would usually talk to my writers and ask, ‘What is the context of this?  How upset?  What is their body language?’  I guess that is the actor in me who is coming in and saying, ‘Well, what are they doing that gets them to that point?’ Obviously, if you’re upset, you’re standing in a different way, or you’re looking in a different way.  Your posture is definitely different.  That was one of the things I would talk to Joss about.  There was one time where he was writing a script and he was a little late and I was like, ‘When do you think it’s going to get done?   The editor is on my back because I have to draw it and it takes a whole lot longer to draw. ‘  And he said, ‘Yeah, the only problem I am having with this script is that I don’t know what I am trying to say.’  And that is when it solidified to me that Joss works on theme.  Like the theme of loss or redemption; anything you can put in a theme.  That’s where he says, ‘This is my theme and I am going to try to structure the episode around that theme.  Everybody is going to be affected in some way by that theme.  They may not be the central focus of that theme, but they are going to be affected.’  That to me makes really good story telling because you’re combining everything. Especially in television, since it is a serialized drama, it keeps going on and on, all you really have are themes because there has to be that arc, and usually for that episode, you know that there is something they went through.  That is the biggest thing he taught me, indirectly, just reading his work and listening to the man talk.

HC: If you could draw any scene from a Whedonverse show, what scene would you draw?

GJ: Well, why would I do that?  I will counter that statement, actually.  I did have a conversation with Joss just about this.  I will tell you there is a scene that I would have loved to have drawn that never made it on television but should have.  When we were doing season 8, I hate to give myself credit for this, but I am the Buffy fans, best friend because I was going to bat. When Buffy slept with another woman, I was like, ‘Nuh-Uh! She’s not going to sleep with another woman.  I’m not going to draw that.  You need to justify that to me before I can do that.’  When Giles died, “Nuh-Uh! Giles isn’t dead because I’m not going to draw it.  You have to justify that to me first.’  So I was really going to bat.  I went to Joss at some point and said, ‘Dude, you’ve got Spike coming in season 8.  That’s great, we are finally getting the gang back together.’  But I was like, ‘Joss, you realize, if you think about it, Buffy doesn’t know Spike is alive.  Because he became alive in Angel obviously and there was never that scene where it’s like, ‘Oh my God’ [referring to Buffy].  He [Joss] was like, ‘Yeah but the fans are really…’ and I’m like, ‘Yeah, the fans want to know that stuff.  That’s the stuff that they love.’  He said, ‘No, they can probably assume that Andrew told them’ because of “The Girl in Question” in Angel, they both go and see Andrew. ‘They can just assume Buffy found out from him. ‘  I said, ‘It’s a little bit of a cop out, I gotta tell ya.’  In my mind, over the years, I wonder what that scene would be like.  The writer in me, doing Buffy for so many years at that point, I was creating that scene so I could justify it when they did get together and of course subsequently have all these conversations.  In my mind, that is what I feel happened in continuity, although it never actually showed up.

HC: Do you have time to read comics, and if so which ones are you currently reading?

GJ: Yes.  I hate to say this because it probably makes me a bigger geek than I am, but I’m at the comic shop every Wednesday, looking and seeing what’s out.  I’m reading The Uncanny X-Men that Brian Bendis and Stuart Immomen are doing.  And the Miracleman reprints, the Alan Moore stuff.  Comics today are a very different animal, and very rightly so because of the movies.  Now, limited series is a thing.  A continuity book is virtually non-existent, and reading this has really restored my faith in what comics could do because while Alan Moore isn’t reinventing the wheel with his stories that he did back in the ‘80’s, it’s obvious that he is taking the story telling medium, and these were a bunch of 8 page stories that he did that were collected eventually, and with these 8 pages he is just telling the story as it is progressing, but every 8 pages is doing it in a different way.  It is so entertaining.  Miracleman is sort of a British knockoff of Shazam.  Even in that, he plays with that factor, and it is just so good.  I cannot recommend it enough.  Anyone who wants to be a comic writer ought to be reading those Miracleman comics because he is just doing great storytelling.

HC: You drew Buffy for season 8 and 9, will you be making a return in season 10?

GJ: That is a very interesting question.  Well, I did Serenity, which was sort of always the plan.  Yeah, personally feel that Buffy was the girl I came to dance with.  I certainly don’t want to abandon her.  If they ask me back for something, whatever it is, probably not as long as I did before, but I would come back for something special.

HC: Since Serenity will be ending soon, do you know what your work will be in the future?

GJ: I personally finished Serenity a few months ago, because of course you have to do it ahead so they can print it.  But, I’m working on The Future’s End for DC right now, which is their big 52 book, a whole year, every week.  I am doing what I can; I pretty much do a book a month.  So, I’ve done an issue and I’ve got an issue waiting for me, so I will for the foreseeable future be doing that.  And there is some talk of maybe doing some Wonder Woman stuff down the line.  Who knows?  It’s just hearsay right now.  So, we will see!

“Respect My Craft” – Nicholas Brendon

In this consumer-based industry, it can be easy to forget the years of hard work that the people in the business put in. Behind every panel, it takes a skilled writer, artist, inker and colorist to make the product complete. Behind each scene goes hours of preparation. Hush Comics’ weekly article “Respect My Craft” will dive into the history of these comic book and pop culture greats that will hopefully give a new perspective on how the men and women behind the pen (or stylus) contribute to the collective awesome-ness of the nerd world, or at least give you a reason to invest in their work.

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Click on the link to view all our Denver Comic Con articles!

NOTE: Nicholas Brendon can’t make Denver Comic Con.  So sad!  We will see you next year!

Name: Nicholas Brendon

Profession: Actor

Notable Work: Xander Harris from Buffy the Vampire Slayer

“I want people to say, ‘Nicholas Brendon, he’s supposedly the nicest guy in the world.’ I want to do good work, but more than that, I want to stay a good human being. That’s more important than any character I play.” -Nicholas Brendon

Nicholas Brendon has been in my life for 17 years.  Typing that seems so surreal, and it makes me seem much older than I really am.  When I was 9 years old, Buffy the Vampire Slayer debuted on TV, and I was hooked from the start.  I instantly knew I was Buffy, and subsequently, Nicholas Brendon’s Xander Harris became my best friend.  When I was in 5th grade, I was the new girl in school.  I made fast friends with a boy and a girl and I often roped them into playing “Buffy” with me on the playground.  It worked out well that the boy was named Alex, and he was the best Xander any 10 year old could ask for.  15 years later, when I was lucky enough to attend San Diego Comic Con in 2012, I had the opportunity to meet the real life Xander Harris, Nicholas Brendon.  I remember being very scared, even at 25, to meet one of the people who influenced my thought process and language.  He even gave me the oft said line, “It’s funny if you’re me.”  I nervously approached his table and as sweet as pie, he asked if I wanted a hug.  Who would say no?

Adrian and Nicholas Brendon 2012 SDCC
Nicholas Brendon and I San Diego Comic Con 2012.

Nicholas Brendon was born in 1971 in Los Angeles.  And yes, he does have a twin brother named Kelly. And yes, it is mind boggling how similar they look.  Brendon was a huge baseball fan growing up.  As a child, he dreamed of being a Dodger.  Brendon loved baseball so much that at his own prom, he decided to watch a Dodger game instead.  “We had better music at Sunnydale’s prom than at my real-life prom. And at my prom, I didn’t really have a date, which is sort of what happens to Xander. At my real prom, I kind of ducked out the hotel ballroom and watched a Dodger game until 3 a.m. because it went about 22 innings. And my friends were saying, ‘Oh no! Where’d Nick go?’ I think I was trying to get people to worry about me. That whole teenage angst thing.”  When he was a teen, he injured his arm, making his professional chances slim.  After dabbling in many different careers, Brendon decided at age 25 to try to become an actor.

Brendon’s career really began with Buffy.  He had been in showbiz for about 3 months before he got the job of a lifetime, playing Buffy’s quirky, yet lovable best friend, Xander.  Before Buffy, Brendon had played background roles in Married with Children and Children of the Corn III.  It has been highly publicized that Brendon has a stutter.  He has talked very positively about how he has dealt with it, becoming a role model for people who also stutter.  When it comes to his decision to act, he has said, “I always wanted to be an actor, but with a speech impediment it’s kind of tough. I decided to roll the dice and take an acting class, which was very, very nerve-wracking… my stomach would just be in knots.”  His roll of the dice led to his most notable role.  For 7 years, Brendon was a lead role on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, appearing in 143 episodes.

Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris
Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris in BtVS.

Brendon’s Xander started out as a goofy, not so popular skater, and best friend to other not so popular Sunnydale High sophomore, Willow Rosenberg (Alyson Hannigan).  Over the shows 7 seasons, Xander became more than just comic relief, although he was always good at that.  In his relationship with Buffy and Willow, he was the heart of the group.  Along the way, he ended up becoming the secret boyfriend to the most popular girl in school, the go-to guy about weapons due to his knowledge of the Army, and the only guy on the show without some sort of “label” who also saved the world.  Xander may have been “The Zeppo”, but Brendon’s portrayal of the character allowed everyone to love him.  And led everyone to cringe, wail, and yell violently when he got his eye poked out.

Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris with his gals Buffy and Willow (Sarah Michelle Gellar and Alyson Hannigan).
Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris with his gals Buffy and Willow (Sarah Michelle Gellar and Alyson Hannigan).

Since Buffy ended in 2003, Brendon has been in roles intermittently, though he admitted in his panel at Comicpalooza 2014 that he believes he has been typecast.  Despite that, he is a recurring character on Criminal Minds as Kevin Lynch, a technical analyst and love interest to the character Penelope Garcia.   He also played Lee McHenry, a rapist, who had a 4 episode arc in Private Practice.  He has spoken on how emotionally difficult that was to play.  Aside from acting, in 2010, Brendon and artist Steve Loter started an online comic, Very Bad Koalas.  Currently, Brendon helps write the comic adaptation of Buffy, contributing largely to his own character, Xander.  In two weeks, Brendon’s new movie Coherence will come out in theaters,  Coherence is a science fiction drama about a group of friends who are together when a comet passes over Earth.  It is being highly touted, and you can read a spoiler-free review here.

Hush Comics is very excited for Nicholas Brendon to come to Denver Comic Con.  Buffy may have ended 10 years ago, but Xander will always be “the heart.”

Most of the media in this article belong to Hush Comics; it  belongs to their respective properties (Mutant Enemy). Join us tomorrow as we continue our countdown to Denver Comic Con with chameleon Karl Urban.

written by Adrian Puryear

Comicpalooza 2014

Memorial Day weekend was crazy for Hush Comics. We made the drip down South to check out the Houston Comicpalooza, where we met up with Hush family member Taylor Lowe. This was another milestone convention for us, where we got the opportunity to go as press for the first time – which was a real pleasure. The experience of Comicpalooza this year was one of the best we’ve had, and we would love to share it with you! This article is our way of giving you OUR experience.  Since there were four of us, we were able to cover a lot more ground, so here is the most complete description we could give you of Comicpalooza 2014.

See also:

Stan Lee panel

Buffyverse panel

Greg Capullo interview

Nicholas Brendon panel

Comicpalooza Cosplay!

Click on the link to take you to all of our Comicpalooza articles
Click on the link to take you to all of our Comicpalooza 2014 articles

The City

Houston, Texas – it’s not exactly the nerdiest city in the world. There were a lot of people dressed up in the convention, but I felt a bit odd for wearing nerd shirts outside of the convention. It’s not that Houstanians are judgmental or anything, but it’s just not that kind of a city (compared to Seattle and Denver, which both consistently rank in the top ten of most “Nerdiest Cities in America” lists). Just because there might not be as many nerds per capita doesn’t mean there aren’t just as many socially awkward weirdos as we have at home. It’s not a stretch to say that the quality of weirdo is just as high as at the bigger conventions we’ve been to.

I suppose that’s comparatively speaking though, because Houston is a very big city. Unlike San Diego and New York (home to the two biggest cons in similarly huge cities), Houston’s downtown area surrounding the convention center is full of corporate office buildings with not a lot of “fun stuff” to do. The George R Brown Convention Center is right in between Minute Maid Stadium (home to the Houston Astros, consistently baseball’s saddest team) and the Toyota Center (where the NBA Houston Rockets play), but other than that, there isn’t a whole lot to do in the surrounding areas like there are in the aforementioned cities. Houston is full of big-time oil & gas companies, and it’s something the city is very proud of, making this much more of a business. Outside George R Brown, however, was this beautiful sprawling green space, as well as an outdoor area for kids to play, that made this an ideal picnic spot or place to take the kids if the convention gets overwhelming.

Being a huge business focal point in America, there are plenty of hotels nearby, and they’re all reasonably priced. Unfortunately, if you’re looking to do anything fun downtown that doesn’t include bar-hopping, you’ll need a car to get around the city. And because the city and its suburbs are massive, that means lots of traffic and at least 30-45 minutes to get anywhere. Public transportation in Houston is actually pretty extensive, so you can catch a ride to the museum district pretty easily, but for after-con adventures, The Woodlands were the spot for us – where we watched X-Men: Days of Future Past (movie review here), and we ate (and ate and ate). I’d suggest at least venturing over there for some TexMex – by far the best food in Houston. Some of our favorites were: Berry Hill Baja GrillSpring Creek BBQ, and Lupe Tortilla.

As far as the weather, Houston is humid and hot almost all year-round, which can make dressing up in face make-up a nightmare. We saw numerous people who cosplayed in facepaint that were just dripping down their faces it was so hot outside. Also, everywhere you go in Houston, the air conditioning is full-blast, which led to us bringing jackets to the con in 90 degree weather. Our search for the indoors, as well as a free day to peruse local shops, led us to three unique and awesome comic book shops around the city.

The first of which was Third Planet, the aptly-described Sci-Fi Super-Store. There’s practically no way to peruse the store without picking up something out of nostalgia or avarice. Old Batman and X-Men animated series’ toys? Check. Enough Funko product to resurrect James Brown? Yes. I’d say the specialty here is novelty items – statues, replicas, and other awesome stuff that you can spend your cash on. It is a ginormous store that doesn’t feel overwhelming or impersonal. The selection of trade paperbacks is probably the highest of any store in the city. However, there wasn’t a great selection of back-issues, but we got the impression that single issues aren’t in high demand in Houston. This is a guaranteed stop for me anytime I come to town.

The next stop was to Fat Ogre Games and Comics, where Taylor Lowe gets his weekly fix from. This was a smaller shop that specializes in table-top gaming. It was full of like-minded nerds who were crushing each other in HeroClix, a popular superhero themed game. Fat Ogre had a great community feel and quite a few cool collectibles to add to the stacks of graphic novels on the shelf. Gamers will feel right at home here.

Our favorite shop was Space Cadets. Tucked away in cozy shopping center, Space Cadets had one of the most complete stores we’ve ever seen. My sister geeked out at the Pokémon cards while Taylor raided the shelves for Star Wars toys. Adrian took a trip back in time with their retro toys and I scanned the premium figures and statues. Any person of any nerd interest would find something to geek out here. While a lot of the back-issues weren’t in great condition, I saw a lot that were – from packaged collections of George Pérez and Marv Wolfman’s All New Teen Titans to signed copies of Jim Lee’s Superman: For Tomorrow. And unlike the other shops, there was a definite realization that Comicpalooza was that weekend, meaning spotlighted issues for: Neal Adams, Stan Lee, Greg Capullo and more. These guys were in touch with the community, a big plus for us. We even stopped by before leaving town for an impromptu game of chess. The people there are great, too, with a pretty deep selection of table-top gaming themselves, and a warm mom & pop attitude we couldn’t find anywhere else.

How Comicpalooza Works

Alright, it’s coming – that Texas “big” cliché. You didn’t think you could read an article on the biggest comic book convention in the state and not see the words “it’s bigger in Texas,” did you? Comicpalooza has found its home in the George R Brown Convention Center (which isn’t the first Brown building I’ve been in; as an Engineer at Colorado School of Mines, a majority of my classes were held in the George R Brown Hall. Crazy, right?!). This massive convention center is much larger (Exhibitors Hall, anyway) than anything we’ve been in at all, let alone for a convention. The exhibitor’s hall of Brown is bigger than at SDCC – the largest con in the freakin’ world. Here’s how it stacks up against other convention centers’ exhibit hall:

  • George R Brown Convention Center = 853,500 square feet
  • (San Diego Comic Con) San Diego Convention Center = 615,700 square feet
  • (Denver Comic Con) Colorado Convention Center = 584,000 square feet
  • (Emerald City Comic Con)Washington State Convention Center = 205,700 square feet (misleading since the con had two ex. halls)

* This data might seem daunting but it is via wikipedia; what the hell do they know?

 

The spacious floors lead to TONS of room to do whatever you want. It allowed exhibitors ample spacing between booths and cosplayers the freedom to stop mid-stride to take pictures without being trampled to death. At one point, I started spinning around in circles like a farmer who had just seen rain for the first time all year. One of the biggest turn-offs of any type of convention is the ridiculous crowd. Here, we were able stroll at our leisure without worrying about being in somebody’s way.

The layout of the convention was really simple. There were no hidden floors, or panels you had to be at another building to attend – something that really annoyed us about Emerald City. We were a little lost at first, but quickly found our way around once we knew where to look. Everything was made easier with the Comicpalooza mobile app. Trying to boot everybody into the smartphone era, Comicpalooza all but did away with paper programming and went completely digital, although you could buy a “collector’s” program for ten bucks. The app itself was amazing; it constantly updated with scheduling changes, information on photo ops and signings, and a slew of other useful options. You can even add some customizable touches by creating a To-do list or a personalized schedule to avoid thumbing through all the events. We’ve used comic con apps before, but this one was completely reliable (even in airplane mode) and user-friendly. That is unless, of course, you don’t have a smart phone, which could make it quite a pain to find out where you need to go. It also won’t help carrying around a packet with times and locations of panels when schedule changes occurred – and they occurred fairly frequently. Overall, the app is genius, and I can only hope that other conventions follow suit.

Froggy’s Photos took up professional photography duties again, but this time, everything made much more sense and felt a lot more personal. There was more than sufficient time to get all the autographs and photo ops we wanted, with practically no wait time to meet people that we had been geeking out over since we were children. Due to the size of the convention, and the number of people attending, Comicpalooza felt much more intimate than others we’ve been to. We got to shake hands with Stan Lee, Spike and just chit chat with the same celebrities that, just a couple months earlier at ECCC, we weren’t even allowed to make eye contact with unless we’d been in line for an hour or paid for a professional shot.

The other added bonus of a smaller convention is that we got to do pretty much everything that we wanted to: panels, exhibitor’s hall, autographs and photos. There weren’t nearly as many volunteers here, and that’s a good thing. The logical layout of the convention center, in addition to the accessibility (nothing was really off-limits), meant that you didn’t need to be constantly asking for help. The volunteers at Comicpalooza were some of the nicest, most helpful individuals we’ve come across. Maybe it’s the high stress of the other conventions, but everything about Comicpalooza felt casual and fun. There were no worries if so-and-so would run out of prints, or if the panel you wanted to go to would be capped. Couple that with the plentiful free space to just sit down and hang out when you feel tired or need to formulate a game plan, and you have a stress-free experience.

Houston may not be the nerdiest city in the world, but the nerds that show up are nerds through and through. Because Seattle is such a hipster community, and Denver’s con is so new, it attracts a butt-load of intrigued yet uninformed people that wander aimlessly, standing in lines for people they don’t know and taking up seats in a Panel Room because lots of other people are doing the same thing – and there’s nothing wrong with that, but it was refreshing to see so many passionate fans. I mean, we saw live action Pokémon battles, guys. Upstairs were old-school arcade games and table-top figure painting, while downstairs held more of the extra-curricular events.

Houston is one of the most technologically-driven cities in the world; from Oil & Gas to Space technology, there is a strong emphasis on the science in science fiction, and it was definitely prevalent at Comicpalooza. There was a separate section of the con devoted to: robotics, computer gaming and (my personal favorite) 3D printing. It was refreshing to know that nerds can be evil scientists in real life, too.

When it all comes down to it, Hush Comics had an exceptionally fun time at this convention. There weren’t a large amount of comic book creators, but that led us to mingle with more independent people. The star power, on the other hand, was ridiculous, and was enough to get us down to Houston even before we heard about Stan Lee. The only thing I wish I would have seen more of is back-issues and comic book selection, but this is a feeling I had of every store we visited in the city. The seventh year of Comicpalooza brought a lot order to a massive convention, with optimal fun and minimal stress. Whether you’re a hardcore geek or just passing by to check out a celebrity, Comicpalooza should be a mandatory visit.

After-Hours Specials

What really set Comicpalooza apart from any other convention was the amount of extra stuff to do there. If we really wanted to, we could have been there from 10AM – 10PM every day. Every niche nerd thing had events going on after and throughout the panels. We didn’t get to do it all, but we sure tried. Adjacent to the enormous exhibitor’s hall were a series of large performance stages, where a bunch of the interactive stuff went down.

Every day, Geeks Who Drink had a quiz competition in one of the ballrooms. Adrian and I have done a couple of the themed ones in Denver. One with Breaking Bad, where we kicked ass on placed in the top ten out of over fifty teams, and a Community themed one that we absolutely bombed. The quizzes were structured and prizes are given out for placing high, but not as nerdy as I would have expected, but we still had a fun time.

Elsewhere, LARPing was in full effect. In one section, there were trained swordsmen teaching noobs like us how to correctly wield a wooden blade. There was actually a separate area you could go to watch people go rounds and battle each other. We sat down and watched one of these intense bouts and became enthralled, giving the fighters nicknames, origin stories and grew quite attached. While there were plenty of big kids that took to the death-match with the gravity of real combat, we saw everyone from grown men and women to adorable little girls. Weird? Hell yeah. But these people were being themselves, letting go of the cultural boundaries they came here to escape, and they were entertaining themselves and others. You literally can’t ask for anything more.

Next up were the Quidditch matches. That’s right, the Harry Potter game is a real thing. Outside of Hogwartz, it’s referred to as Muggle Quidditch. It plays like a mixture of lacrosse, dodge-ball and flag football. I was confused by the rules, but after an hour or so of watching, I was pretty eager to try it out. I became so enthralled that I didn’t even notice how ridiculous(ly awesome!) all the players looked with pseudo-broomsticks in between their legs.When it comes down to it, there’s nothing cooler than playing a fun sport with a bunch of people who are used to getting picked last.

Our favorite post-con event had to be the James Marsters concert. James Marsters is better known as Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, where he crooned for fans in the musical episode, “Once More With Feeling.” Before the spin-off show, Angel, had ended in 2004, Marsters was already selling out gigs at LA clubs as a solo singer, and as the lead singer to his band Ghost of the Robot. That was all a round-about way of saying that the man knows how to woo a crowd. For nearly an hour, Marsters swooned the crowd with lovely acoustic songs. It was one of the coolest things you can find at a comic book convention.

From LARPing and hardcore Quidditch matches to roller derby and professional wrestling, there was always something going on in the convention. Nobody acted “too cool” to join in the fun. If you’re willing to let yourself just enjoy the show, there’s no way you won’t have a blast.

 

Meet the Press!

If you haven’t heard us freak out about it yet, I’ll fill you in. Comicpalooza is the first convention that Hush Comics has been to as “Press.” What does that mean, you ask? Not as much as you would think. We did get some pretty sweet zombie Deadpool badges, and some special treatment as far as getting ushered to the front of a few of the more-crowded panels. Also, it meant that our passes were paid for. This allowed us to give away all the passes that Taylor bought us for Christmas, which we did through Facebook. One of our winners was able to attend her very first con, which made us feel pretty darn cool! Here’s her account of the weekend:

Greetings Fellow Comic-conians!!

A huge thanks to HushComics for giving me the chance to experience my very first Comic-con. (Comicpalooza) Yes the cherry has been popped and I’m coming back for more. What a blast to see such amazing art pieces, crafts, actors and let’s not forget the cosplay. I’m very inspired and ready to participate in cosplay for next year. May the Comic-God’s smile upon you.”

Peace and Love,

Bettie Skellington

Mage Pena

Our first con was mind-blowing, so we’re glad that we were able to help somebody else get to experience that as well.

Perhaps the coolest thing about going as press was the opportunity to interview comic book creators. Comicpalooza didn’t have a whole lot of creators, but we knew of one that we absolutely had to sit down with. His name is Greg Capullo, and he has been the artist on Batman for nearly three years. We figured that, because he’s such a big deal in comic books, we wouldn’t be able to get a spot with him. After a little persistence and a lot of help from the media manager at CP, Rosario Perez (you’re the best!), we were able to get in contact with Greg’s wife and set up an interview. It was terrifying to say the least, but we were able to pull off something cohesive enough. Crazy story, while we were sitting down to talk with Mr. Capullo in this back-room break area for celebs, Stan Lee comes casually strolling across the room, sits down, and takes a power nap that only the 91 year-old Godfather of comic books could do – great ice breaker.

Tips for Future CP-ers:

  • Before the convention starts, make a list of things you want to do, and plan it out according to which days things are happening. If you plan things out, there’s a good chance you can get to it all.
  • Cosplaying is amazing, but what’s even better is wearing comfortable shoes. You will spend hours walking, standing, rinsing, repeating. On a similar note, please do shower and wear deodorant. Yes, people will know it’s you, and they will judge you for it. The dreaded “con smell” is ten times worse with the humidity.
  • Far be it for me to tell you how to cosplay, but avoid paints and makeup that will melt easily.
  • If you get cold often, bring a sweatshirt in the convention center; it might be 90 outside, but it’s likely refrigerated inside.
  • Know where the art supply booth is. Grab any sleeves for prints/pictures you need to avoid getting them all smashed up.
  • Come prepared to buy stuff: artists prints, doo-hickies, collectibles, and of course, comic books. Also know that you will be having to bring or send this stuff back home with you. Some of the best things to prepare are:
    • Comic book portfolio: holds approx ten issues for signing and collecting.
    • Poster tube or picture hard-sleeve: don’t let those prints/signatures get bent. Trust me, hiding it in a book will not cut it.
    • Know where a nearby FedEx is to ship back the really valuable stuff
  • Take a fair amount of cash with you. A lot of the booths and special events only accept cash – not to mention cash only parking lots in the surrounding area – so avoid getting caught cashless when a good opportunity arises. There are multiple ATMs but they are total leeches, only allowing you to pull out $100 per transaction with a $5 fine attached to it. Bleh.
  • There is so much food in Houston. Don’t waste your appetite on $10 cheapo food in the convention center. Instead, bring snacks and gorge later.
  • Avoid the creepy 4th floor at George R Brown. It will be your doom.
  • Use the app as often as you can; hopefully, next year’s app will be just as helpful.
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously. Ever.

Comicpalooza 2014- Buffy Panel

A small scale Buffy reunion was in full action at this year’s Comicpalooza. In attendance were James Leary, who played Clem in seasons 6 and 7; George Hertzberg, who played Adam in season 4; Clare Kramer, who played Glory in season 5; James Marsters, who played Spike in seasons 2-7; and Nicholas Brendon, who played Xander Harris for the entire run of the series. The panel was in question and answer format.

Click on the link to take you to all of our Comicpalooza articles
Click on the link to take you to all of our Comicpalooza 2014 articles

One of the first questions on deck was whether the actors were a fan of the genre before they were cast on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Brendon said he was not and still doesn’t do too much revolving around the genre, but says “I started with the best, why settle for the rest?” James Leary began his acting career after the show had been on the air. When he went to L.A., Buffy was one of the 5 shows he wanted to be on. Hertzberg said he just likes good writing regardless of genre. But James Marsters had the best answer. He said that in 1973 there was a Star Trek convention in Oakland. He went wearing a blue tunic, pointed years, a phaser he made himself and a big, blonde Afro. What a vision!

There was a fan hell-bent on touching celebrities faces. At every panel I went to where this person was in attendance, they asked to touch the stars face after asking what the strangest question the star have ever been asked. Marsters said his idea of strange is way sicker than we may think. For some odd reason, both Brendon and Marsters misheard “face” for something a little more personal, proving they are both a little sick. At one point in the panel Brendon expressed a crass desire for a Xander pregnancy kit. Marsters said he wanted Spike condoms. After some sexually overt banter, Brendon took it too far and Marsters asked if there might be kids in the audience. As a note, it may too adult for little ones to go to a panel with Brendon.

The Buffy cast at Comicpalooza 2014
The Buffy cast at Comicpalooza 2014

James Marsters talked about his favorite episode “Once More with Feeling,” or The Musical. He said no one had much faith in creator Joss Whedon because when they were given the tape where Whedon had recorded the songs, they realized Whedon couldn’t sing or play piano. Marsters believed Whedon was going to “flush the show down the drain along with all of our careers,too.” Today, the Musical is a cult favorite episode.

Each actor shared their favorite line from their respective characters. Kramer’s is “did anyone else know the Slayer is a robot?” Hertzberg, in good humor considering his lack of dialogue, said his is “Mother.” Leary’s is “Spike, she is sweet girl. Issues!” Brendon had a hard time deciding because he had so many great lines. Two of them are “Master-bater” from Buffy vs. Dracula and “I’m 17 years old, everything makes me horny.” Marsters, in his British accent said to the crowd, “Out for a walk…Bitch.” And if you are familiar with that line you know we all cheered when he said it.

As far as memorable fan moments, Clare Kramer talked about a recent proposal from one fan to another at Emerald City Comic Con. Leary likes when fans talk about what Buffy means to them. Marsters met someone who helped design the Mars rover. But Hertzberg had the most interesting story. He said he was in London and a father and daughter came up to his table. The little girl said, “Show him Daddy, show him!” Then the man lifted his shirt and there was George as Adam tattooed on the man’s back.

When talking about the iconic language of Buffy, Kramer said it was easy to memorize because it was so rhythmic and poetic. Marsters said Buffy was not like other shows where you could improvise. He joked that Joss would yell, “James, you missed a comma!” If they could play different characters, Marsters said he would play Clem, only because the actresses would sit on his lap and play with his ears. Leary said that Marsters has a different memory of his time on the set than he does. Pranks were rare because the set was so hard working. However, at a Christmas party, Alyson Hannigan received a bloody prop of Clem’s ear which she shockingly exclaimed “This is so cool!” when she saw it.

James Marsters spoke on one of his favorite Joss moments on set. When it became apparent Spike was more of a romantic vampire rather than a scary one Joss was upset. His intention with vampires and other demons were to make them ugly and scary like the things people overcome in adolescence. Joss approached Marsters, backed him up against a wall and screamed “You are dead. You are dead! YOU ARE DEAD!” It is important to know Joss is famous for killing off loved characters. Marsters also said his role in Macbeth helped him prepare for the role of Spike because they both enjoy killing people.

James Marsters and Adrian at Comicpalooza 2014
James Marsters and Adrian at Comicpalooza 2014

Nicholas Brendon told the audience that be originally came up with the shwarma joke from The Avengers while filming Buffy. He said he has seen Robert Downey Jr. take credit for it. Brendon quipped “fucking liar.”

Fan fiction has long been apart of Buffy because fans write so much of it. But do the actors read it? James Leary has looked at Clem and Spike relationship stories while Brendon has looked at Xander and Giles stuff. Marsters says he really appreciates when people release their creativity but as far as reading it, “No way in heck!”

The hardest thing to film in the series for Marsters was the episode where Spike attempts to rape Buffy. Marsters says any scene with that theme he refuses to watch and it actually sent him to therapy. He qualified it by saying it was a good thing; however, it was still eye-opening to hear that. Marsters wrapped up the panel by saying he preferred being the villain because the villain can watch everyone else run around and feel guilt they can’t save anyone. The villain can also mess with people. He would mess with Sarah Michelle Gellar and then when they had to fall in love, he had to be nice. Although he had to be nice, he was able to continue his “mean” streak later. He ended by saying, “So I went on Angel and messed with him.”

written by Adrian Puryear

Comicpalooza 2014-Nicholas Brendon Panel

Comicpalooza takes place in Houston, TX.  This year, Hush Comics was given the honor of going as press, our first time for doing so.  Read all of the accounts of what happened on our site!

 

Click on the link to take you to all of our Comicpalooza articles

Click on the link to take you to all of our Comicpalooza articles

 

“I will curse I will talk about sex and I will talk about some venereal disease.” And boy did he ever. Nicholas Brendon whose claim to fame is as Xander Harris in the series Buffy the Vampire Slayer had a question and answer panel at Houston’s Comicpalooza 2014.

“Nicky” began by talking about being in Spain last weekend while filming his new movie Coherence. He advised the audience to never go to Spain for only a weekend and compared it to doing illicit drugs, which admitted he was familiar with. His first question came from a tween girl who asked if had a girlfriend. His response? “I do not have a girlfriend do you wanna go with me? To a dance. “Strictly platonic.” He hopped down from the stage and slow danced with her as if they were at a middle school social. It was very adorable. And as a Buffy fan since its inception, I was very jealous.

Nick then told a story about being young and his mom taking the whole family to Alcopoco. In addition, they had car phones which was a big deal at the time. He then said he and his brother couldn’t get Christmas presents that year and his mom told them it was because “Santa Claus had a bad year.” That is how he found out Santa wasn’t real. Brendon was sure to make sure all the young ones in the audience already knew Santa wasn’t real before telling the story.

Brendon was very clear that Xander is the best character on TV, constantly calling himself and his TV character “awesome.” However, Spike is his favorite outside of Xander. He also got a bit uncouth and said he would like to be Anya, but if he had the chance, he would look at his breasts all day because Emma has good breasts. He did say, after much consideration, that the best partner for Xander was Anya. “It worked, then she died.”

Nicholas Brendon Comicpalooza 2014
Nicholas Brendon Comicpalooza 2014

When asked if he stole anything from the Buffy set, Brendon talked about taking the long leather coat he wore as a vampire in the episode “The Wish.” It was from Barney’s and he wore it to a bar in Tennessee and left it there. When he went back, it was gone. He jokingly said it was one of the reasons he quit drinking, which has been a topic of media scrutiny in years past. He felt bad about the coat, but not bad enough to steal the other coat they had at the studio.

His thoughts on Spuffy? “She was a whore!” referring to Buffy. And preparing for the musical? He said “I didn’t care if I sucked; I wasn’t hired as a singer or a dancer, so I went for it. It just so happened I was great at it. ” He then said his only preparation was singing in the shower as a child. A mystery about the episode “The Replacements” was answered, too. It was always Nick who played good Xander and Evil Xander; his twin brother, Kelly, was only there for the over the shoulder shots. Apparently Nick is “just that good” at acting. His favorite episodes are “Once More with Feeling”, “The Body”, “The Zeppo”, and “Hush.” He does like that Dawn and Xander are now an item, but is glad he didn’t have to act that because Michelle Trachtenberg, who portrayed Dawn, was so young at the time.

Nicholas Brendan goofing off at his Comicpalooza 2014 panel
Nicholas Brendan goofing off at his Comicpalooza 2014 panel

His favorite big bad is The Master. Brendon was very uncomfortable about answering who his favorite kiss was and talked about how un-sexy on screen kisses are. He was not warned he was going to lose his eye, but was told from the beginning that he, Sarah and Alyson would never be killed off. His funny anecdote was about wanting to be funnier in Season 7, but Tom Lenk who played Andrew was the comic relief. “This was a different Willow when I started! But Joss had other plans. Like, I lost an eye!”

Little known tidbits included a story about how Captain Mal was written for him. When Firefly was picked up before Buffy concluded, Brendon was not in the running for the role any longer and it was given to Nathan Fillion. He also auditioned for the role of Deathlok in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.; however, J. August Richards won the role. When he started on Buffy, he had only been acting for three months.

On his current project, Brendon is helping write Buffy Season 10. He has made sure that the language of Xander is really the way he would talk. He makes sure Xander repeats himself often. In addition, he enjoys working on the Xander and Dracula relationship making it as homoerotic as possible. He wrapped up with his classic “Snoopy dance” and every Whedonite squee-ed.

Nicholas Brendon showing a Whedonite how to Snoopy Dance on stage at Comicpalooza 2014.
Nicholas Brendon showing a Whedonite how to Snoopy Dance on stage at Comicpalooza 2014.

written by Adrian Puryear