This is Part 2 of Todd's ECCC coverage. Part 1 is available if you wish to start with that.
Back To The Future:
This was a really good panel. It started with Tom Wilson (Biff) on stage playing his ukulele and singing a song about the movie, his career, and answers to many of the frequently asked questions he must have heard over the years. He is actually a standup comedian and I had heard the song before but it was still funny. He also let everyone know that before his role in the film he played a football player on a very special Facts Of Life episode and was on a very special Knight Rider episode. And his most important role in life: introducing biscuits to KFC. He was good natured and poked fun at himself at every opportunity.
Christopher Lloyd (Doc Brown) was also there, but he seemed a little lost at times. Tom was constantly busting his chops and repeating questions loud and slowly to make fun of him. But it was reciprocated by Lloyd who gave as good as he got. The relationship between the two men was pretty amazing. One of the funnier moments came during audience-question time when Lloyd was watching the wrong microphone for four different questions and couldn’t figure out how they were talking without moving their lips.
They both enjoy walking around and getting to see the cities they visit while touring and neither one realized that Back to the Future was such a phenomenon until ten years after the film’s release. And if given the opportunity, Lloyd would be happy to be on Rick & Morty.
This panel featured Ricky Whittle (Shadow Moon) and Yetide Badaki (Bilquis) from the show. Being that Ricky is the lead, he fiercely took the stage running out and jumping around on the furniture and at one point took off his shirt so he could put on an ECCC shirt given to him by the moderator.
The two actors felt very comfortable around one another and acted like little kids as they danced around and goofed off on stage. Their interaction was very nice and sweet. It was good to see Ricky have a personality that differs from all of the serious characters he plays on television. When he said that he likes to act “balls out,” it was easy to understand what he meant. His method is to do everything intensely because he can always rein it in if needed. As another example, he challenged the casts of Supernatural, The Flash, and iZombie to a dance battle as the two of them showed off their dance moves. He also jokingly called himself the Karaoke King after his mistake one night of going out with his friends from the cast of Glee to do Karaoke.
There were some serious moments when he discussed how fan tweets pushed him to try out for the role of Shadow and that he prepared for the role by reading the book and listening to fan comments. The two also praised the special-effects team that worked on the show and some of the new season’s team were from The Shape of Water film.
Yetide was not quite as energetic as he was, but she played along and kept up with his playfulness. Her big story was how she had gone off the set in costume and when she returned, the security guards wouldn’t let her back on the lot because they thought she was a random homeless person.
This was probably my favorite panel of the convention. No, I didn’t learn anything or get any insider tips or secrets. It was just straight-up fun. The premise of the panel was that five voice actors would read 11 different scenes from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. The catch being that the moderator would not only tell them what character they would play, but also what voices they would be using. The following actors and some of the voices they used were:
David Hayter: Sean Connery, King Shark, Homer, Michael Cain, Mathew McConaughey
Jeremy Shada: Batman, Stewie Griffin, Finn, Kermit the Frog
Khary Payton: Tooth Fairy from TTG!, Black Manta, Morgan Freeman, Cyborg, King Ezekiel, Cosby, Optimus Prime, Aqualad, Rafiki,
Phil Lamarr: Chris Rock, Snoop Dogg, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Donald Trump, Barack Obama, Mike Tyson, Morgan Freeman
Nolan North: Gilbert Godfrey, Christopher Walken, Deadpool, Gary Busey, Al Pacino, The Penguin
While they were all good, Lamarr and Payton stood out as the best. They did the best adlibs and Lamarr’s impressions were amazingly spot on. I had no idea that he was such a good voice actor. Another surprise was the younger Shada who didn’t do a lot of adlibs and had fewer voices than the others, but he held his own with the more established professionals as his voices were good quality.
That’s How I Roll - Brian Herring’s BB-8:
Expecting that the Terry Brooks panel would be difficult to get into I went into the room early and saw this panel. It was fairly similar to the previous one that he did on the Main Stage, but with more emphasis on the puppeteering aspect and an in-depth story of being on one of the Aliens films and how messy the job was with slime raining down upon him. There were a lot more video clips of the puppets at different development stages.
Terry Brooks Spotlight:
Terry Brooks is an extremely successful fantasy writer whose first book was The Sword of Shannara in 1977. Since then, he has written over 35 books and is so prolific that over the last 20-plus years he has put out at least one book a year. He has been on The New York Times' Best Seller’s list 23 times.
He was at last year’s Emerald City Comic Convention and it was a surprisingly different atmosphere than this year. In 2017, he was coming in after MTV had picked up the rights to the series and had turned one of his most beloved books, The Elfstones of Shannara, into a television show. Season One had finished airing and the room was packed with new fans. There was lots of energy and interest not only in the show, but in reading his books. But shortly after that, MTV decided to broadcast only non-scripted shows and pawned the Shannara Chronicles over to its sister network Spike TV. Not only do fewer people have the channel, but a lack of advertising left fans lost and confused, not knowing that there had even been a second season. After the airing, Spike is now changing to the Paramount Channel and has cancelled the show. So this year, Terry’s panel was far from being full. Fifteen minutes before it started, I was able to walk up into the front row and sit down right in from of the interview table. People did slowly trickle in afterwards, but it barely filled the room to half capacity.
While the fickle fans were not in attendance this year, the faithful long-time fans were. The questions asked were more relevant and far more interesting this time around. We learned that his most recent book, Skaar Invasion, will be releasing on June 19 and that it is the second book of a four-book set in The Fall of Shannara series, which will conclude the Shannara storyline. He actually did not have a pre-set conclusion of how he wanted to finish until he started writing the first book in this final series. Once he is finished with these books, he plans to write another Magic Kingdom of Landover book, which he already signed up for and is contractually obligated. In October, he is doing a one-off non-fantasy book titled Street Freaks, with a small press company run and owned by his long-time friend and webmaster Shawn Speakman. All those in attendance received a booklet with the first chapter.
Besides his current projects, we learned that the Shannara Chronicles is not completely dead as they continue to shop around a Season Three and Netflix is currently running the first two seasons. Overall, he considers the television project a good learning experience, loved the actors, fought tooth and nail to improve the dialogue, and was most happy that it brought in many new readers.
Writing is truly his passion and completing a book makes him feel good. “I love to write books. It’s my favorite thing in the world”. Terry is most productive when it is dead quiet and that includes not even listening to music. Finally, if you expect him to work on some graphic novels or find other mediums in which to bring his stories to the audience, you are sorely out of luck as he said many times when similar questions were asked of him, “Does not play well with others”.
All convention long between the different panels on the main stage, they had two co-hosts, DJ Elliott and Amanda. This was different from last year. While the music was a little loud at times, they provided a good amount of entertainment for the crowd. They would start with a little banter, but then would perform interactive activities with the audience that ended up being a lot of fun.
Nerd Pickup Lines - Consisted of a half-dozen audience members on stage that would have to use their best pickup line based on that theme. Some of those included: Star Wars, Harry Potter, and the extremely funny Muppets, which was made even better by the one that was already dressed as one. And along with the line they had to deliver, they first had to do a sexy walk, which none of them had.
Back to the Future - Before the panel, the audience had to do things related to the film franchise. The first was a reward for those who had related items in their pockets. One had a Marty McFly pin, and another had his wedding invitation with him and his fiancé on the front, creating the classic movie poster with the DeLoreon and the inside a recreation of the tower-clock photo. Finally, they finished with an Enchantment Under The Sea-themed dance as they played songs from the film.
Finish the Song Lyrics - Was one of the final ones I saw. Audience members competed by singing the next line of a song. It was fun watching them trip over one another as they tried to race to the microphone and witness one contestant sing the entire Pokémon theme song.
Overall, I had a much more enjoyable time this year. The panels had a few more celebrities, which is my biggest interest. There were still lots of artists and writers that I saw while following around my friends as they purchased and collected commissions (drawings) from them. I even bought a limited edition signed print of the guidebook from Jen Bartel, who was signing them at the merchandise booth. The entertainment on the main stage was better and I had no problems with cell-phone connectivity and could live tweet during the entire convention. Not only do I have an excuse to go up to Seattle to visit friends and family, but I’m looking forward to next year’s ECCC which runs March 14-17, 2019.