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- Cosplay!

Comicpalooza 2014 was certainly a blast!  And what is a con without some cosplay!?  Hush Comics was able to see some great costumes, which you can see here too!  Houston sure knows how to get creative.  Make sure to click each picture to see the full image!

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

 

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

Comicpalooza 2014 – Stan Lee 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!

In what seemed like a covert operation straight from the pages of Marvel, myself and Hush contributor Taylor Lowe were whisked out of the line we were standing in to see the legendary Stan Lee. A woman approached us in the line and grabbed our press badges, examined them closely, asked who we were with, and quietly said, “Come with me.” What else were we to do? Along the way, we were told to look for others like us. As we briskly walked past fans waiting in line, we were hoping to find other recruits who looked like us, or rather had the same badge we did. We were excited, but also a bit worried we had stepped out of line for nothing. As it turns out, we were led to the front row adjacent to the main stage, after passing security with a gruff “We’re press.” As we took our seats, our very own Nick Fury introduced herself as Rosario. Rosario Pena is the media relations director for Comicpalooza, and was able to set us up with a lot of cool opportunities over the weekend. So this whole story was really a way to say “Thanks Rosario, from Hush Comics!”

Stan Lee truly is “The Man.” He is 91 years old and still going strong. He is very good at not skipping a beat when asked questions many people ask. He is also a bit of a comedian. Lee started off by saying Houston, Texas has the greatest people in the world for bringing him here, but obviously everyone wants him.

Before his question and answer session, moderated by Fox 26’s Dave Morales, began, Lee joked, “Ask easy questions!… No, ask me whatever the hell you wanna ask me! It’s been a long trip; a man gets tired.” When asked about his origin story, he went into great detail. No, he did not expect his characters to become what they are today and have been for decades. Why did he get into comics? “I just wanted to keep my job and pay the rent.” He told the audience about hearing about a job at a Magazine Management. He ended up in the comic magazine department as the assistant of the other two employees, Jack Kirby and Joe Simon, legends in themselves. Lee’s job was to fill ink pots and edit. Over time he was given stories. Then suddenly Kirby and Simon were fired, leaving Stan the only person on his department at 17 years old. The magazine owner said, according to Stan, “Hey, kid. Can you run things until I hire a grown up?” Stan continued that as time passed the manager forgot about him, so he became the writer, the editor, the art director, the everything. He wasn’t necessarily proud of his work, though. In that time, “nobody had respect” for his genre and he was ashamed to tell people that he worked on them. He wanted a real job in the magazine. When asked what he did for a living, “I’d say, ‘I’m a writer’ and walk away. They would ask ‘Of?’ ‘Magazines’ and walk away. ‘What magazines?’ ‘Comics.’ And then HE would walk away.” Of course, he isn’t ashamed now and got over his humiliation once he started going to conventions and seeing the variety of fans who loved his work. Awww!

Stan Lee at his panel at Comicpalooza 2014.
Stan Lee at his panel at Comicpalooza 2014.

Stan spoke about being a child and what inspired him.  Since comics weren’t exactly mainstream when he was a child, it was interesting to hear what did inspire him.  He talked about reading a lot.  He enjoyed Mark Twain, Arthur Conan Doyle, Edgar Rice Burroughs and Edgar Allan Poe.  He also told the audience he can recite “The Raven”, the infamous Poe poem, by heart.  If anyone has a video of Stan Lee reciting that poem, send it our way ASAP.  Lee said that his goal in life, like all writers, was to write the great American novel.  “I never got around to that.”  I have to disagree.  Lee has written canon for the most read characters and staples of American pop culture of all time.  Stan also talked about his time in the military during the war.  His job was to write training manuals that the troops could easily read.  He also made training videos because their were so many troops, they couldn’t be trained fast enough.  He also confirmed that it was during this time he got to work with Dr. Seuss and Frank Capra.  He said he was the only one doing work because they were too busy talking about how great they were.  Oh, Stan.

Lee touched several times on his acting dreams.  He said many times that we may see his roles in the current Marvel movies as “cameos”, but he sees them as supporting roles.  He joked that he is an enormous acting talent now.  He also said that if he had to pick a career other than comics, he would be an actor.  He idolized Errol Flynn.  When asked what he would have done as an actor, he quipped, “I would have won an Oscar.”  He also teased his next “supporting role” in Guardians of the Galaxy, cracking that his role has nothing to do with the movie and he thinks the director was drugged wen he decided to put Lee in that role.

Stan Lee in Hush's favorite supporting role in Amazing Spider-Man
Stan Lee in Hush’s favorite supporting role in Amazing Spider-Man

Stan talked briefly about his beloved superheros, too.  He talked about three in particular.  Of course, one of them was Iron Man.  He talked about how popular he is of late and credited Robert Downey Jr. with much of it. He spoke of the origins of Iron Man as a character.  Lee took the chance of making him during the time of Woodstock.  It was a challenge to make a man who was about money and weapons–everything hippie kids were against, and make them like him.  The only thing about Iron Man he didn’t like was how his armor was drawn, but that was because nobody could take that much time on it.  He, however, does like how it looks in the movies.  Lee also admitted that if he were to cosplay, he would dress up as Iron Man, but mostly so he was protected.  Otherwise, he would be Dr. Strange.

Another character on deck was Captain America.  While Lee did not create the ‘Cap, he did bring him back.  First, he changed the shape of his shield from a triangle to a circle.  That was all Lee.  Then he gave him a problem, something Stan is fond of doing to his characters.  “I wanted to make him distinctive in some way, so I thought if he was brought back from having been frozen in the ice years ago, and 20 or 30 years of history had gone by that he was unaware of, and when I started writing him, it was when there were hippies and people hated the military, industrial complex, and all of that.  And he didn’t understand that sort of thing because he grew up in a time when everybody was just patriotic and nobody rebelled or protested.  So, I tried to make him seem like he was an anachronism; he felt he didn’t belong in the age he was living in.”

While Stan talked briefly about many of his heroes, he expounded upon Spider-Man, not only the character, but the inception of the book idea itself.  He admitted that Spider-Man is his favorite creation.  It was also the one he wrote where he could maybe say “I am Stan the Man,” as asked by an audience member.  He then told an amazing origin story for how Spider-Man came into existence which you can hear here.  He also said the hardest character to write was Green Goblin.  It took a lot to “dream him up” but once he did, the writing was easy.  Oh, and another tidbit?  Stan Lee didn’t know Mary Jane, or MJ, was a nickname for pot.  But because of the coincidence, everyone thought he was “so cool.”

Amazing Fantasy 15
Stan Lee’s Amazing Fantasy 15. The birth comic of Spider-Man.

Other amazing things that happened during Stan the Man’s panel included a fan saying “You’re my hero,” and Stan responding, “I would expect that.”  His best advice for aspiring creators is that there are no tips.  The only way to create it to “dream it up.”  He also talked about how hard it is to name a character.  He talked about wanting to name a character “The Destroyer.”  When he looked up if that character existed, he got mad and wanted to know who did.  Turned out, it was him, but he had forgotten.  A little girl asked “Who is your favorite girl character?” Stan said She-Hulk, no doubt because of the recent controversy surrounding her.  He also said he really liked Mary Jane.  Stan is surprised any superhero is still around, but now is confident they will be around forever, crediting the movies for that.  When asked about bad guys and their perpetual baldness, he was surprised.  He wondered aloud why the good guys are always good looking and the bad guys are sinister.  He said they should make the villain Brad Pitt and the good guy Boris Karloff.  He then rejected Brad Pitt and put himself as the handsome one.  Finally, would Stan change anything.  “No, I can’t think of anything.”

As far as Stan and his future plans go, he has a lot more work than the average 91 year old.  Being the chairman of Marvel, he is working on Guardians of the Galaxy, Antman, Black Panther, and Dr. Strange.  They will make more Iron Man movies and more Captain America movies.  He is also working on a Latino superhero.  There is a script written and there will be an actor cast soon.  With his other company, POW! Entertainment, Stan is working on a Chinese American hero called The Annihilator.  He also has a character out in India called Shakra the Invincible, and we will be coming to the U.S.A. soon.  How does Stan wrap it all up?  With a giant “EXCELSIOR!”

Proof that Stan is in fact Excelsior.
Proof that Stan is in fact Excelsior.

 

 

 

Excelsior !