San Diego Comic-Con: Thursday — Heroes & Zeroes

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Stan Lee's World of Heroes YouTube ChannelThursday was the first full day of the 2012 San Diego Comic-Con, but the size of the crowd out on this weekday made it seem more like a Saturday event; and many attendees (myself included) learned the hard way that if there is a program you don’t want to miss, then you should plan to arrive very early and potentially sit through events you may have no interest in seeing, just to ensure you have a seat for the show you do want to see.

Such was the case with Stan Lee’s World of Heroes event on Thursday morning. Like hundreds of other fans I was left out in the hall mourning a missed opportunity, stunned that despite our best efforts we still missed-out on this much anticipated event. But fortunately Nerdvana was accepted to participate in the World of Heroes press interview event that followed the discussion panel. That was the good news.

The bad news is that the interview coordinators only allotted Stan-time to the television stations that were covering the event, but I was still thrilled to be able to snap a few pictures of the pop culture icon and participate in round-table interviews with the principle cast who will be creating content for the new Stan Lee’s World of Heroes YouTube channel.

The first round of interviews on the ’round-table’ was with America Young and Bonnie Burton. America is working on a scripted comedy series called Geek Therapy, about a psychological therapist who specializes in helping the nerd population deal with their obsessions and ‘nerdrosises.’ The young actress, Ms. Young, is thrilled to be a part of this new Stan Lee project and she describes the pop culture icon as, “a kinder, gentler version of Hugh Hefner – but cool!”

Bonnie Burton will be hosting a World of Heroes show called Geek DIY (Do It Yourself), an entertaining teaching show that she describes as a geeky Martha Stewart, “…if Martha liked using glitter and googly-eyes on her projects.” She also described a cooking segment by saying it is like a blend of Julia Child and Rob Zombie.

Mark HamillThe next celebrity at the roundtable was none other than Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill. Mr. Hamill is working on an untitled talk show that he is excited to blend as a jazzy mix of authors, artists and celebrities talking about obscure topics. He says his show will be different in that it will not be sandwiched between commercials that are just trying to sell a product, like so many current talk shows. It was obvious from this interview that Mark is a natural storyteller and I’m excited to see his new show as I think he has some interesting things to say. I also got to shake Mr. Hamill’s hand and I now refuse to wash it for fear of losing the midi-chlorian powers I may have gained from his touch. Maybe it’s time to see America Young for some therapy.

We also had a round of interviews with the Incredible Hulk writer Peter David and Jace Hall from the geeky Jace Hall Show. Mr. David is working on a series that started originally as a feature film project called Head Cases. It’s now a superhero sitcom about a hero whose power allows him to cause thunderous concussive blasts, but only by striking his head against something. Unfortunately, this also causes him great harm and damage to his body. The story revolves around a bar where both villains and heroes hang out and drown their sorrows and Peter has a pretty cool and interesting concept on his hands.

Jace Hall will be hosting a show called FanWars where he will play a kind of Judge Judy role as an mediator between real life fans submitting arguments and evidence regarding nerdy topics like, “Who would you rather have defend the Earth, the Justice League or The Avengers?” Winners will be chosen by a celebrity panel. We already have a version of this in the valley as part of the Phoenix Comicon and other valley events, I’m talking about PUGS (the Phoenix Ultimate Geek Smackdown). The rules are a little different, but it’s the same basic concept.

Adrianne CurryThe highlight of the World of Heroes interviews was easily Ms. Adrianne Curry, who is probably one of the smartest, wittiest, funniest, and yes, sexiest ladies I’ve ever encountered. She was dressed in a Raptor-Jesus costume to prove that, “A hot chick doesn’t have to wear a sexy costume.” But she said she was waiting for someone to yell at her, “Hey Jesus, I can see through your dress!” Apparently she has had some revealing costume issues before, so her Thursday costume consisted of a bland gown with a dinosaur head-piece and a stuffed-sheep prop.

Adrianne’s new World of Heroes documentary is called Super Fans, where she profiles real-world geeks regarding their pop culture collections and obsessions, showing how superfandom exists in the everyday life of otherwise “normal” people. Ms. Curry was engaging, insightful and hilariously entertaining and I can’t wait to see her new show.

After the World of Heroes press event, I quickly moved up to the next floor of the bayside Hilton for the Disney Studios press panels with directors, producers and actors from the upcoming Disney films Frankenweenie, Oz the Great and Powerful and Wreck It Ralph. The Frankenweenie panel consisted of producer Don Hahn, Atticus Shaffer (as the voice of Edgar), producer Allison Abbate and director Tim Burton. The film is the first ever 3D, B&W stop-motion animated film and director Burton has great affection for the art of stop motion.

Frankenweenie is the story of a young boy who loses his beloved pet, then brings him back to life, Frankenstein style. The film pays homage to the great classic B&W movie monsters from Universal Pictures and Burton together with his director of photography studied the old B&W movies and their use of lighting.

Oz the Great and PowerfulThe Oz panel consisted of producer Joe Roth, Spider-Man director Sam Raimi and his stars Mila Kunis and Michelle Williams. Raimi is very excited to have created what he considers his first “family” film and he says that his team approached this movie with great respect for the original L. Frank Baum novels. The story of this prequel to the Oz classic is to basically tell the story of the wizard, or the “man behind the cutain” and how he got there. Knowing Raimi’s passion for his craft and his unique storytelling methods, this if definily a film to be excited about. And oh yes, there will be flying monkeys!

Another film that genre fans are very excited about is the animated Wreck It Ralph. The panel that was on hand for this event included producer Clark Spencer, director Rich Moore and cast members Sarah Silverman as Ralph’s love interest; and the actor playing Ralph is John C. Reilly, who was as hilarious in person as he is in his movies.

Wreck It Ralph is set in the universe of popular video games, but the creative team assures us that the video gaming aspect is just one layer of the story and that at it’s root this is a tale that everyone will enjoy, whether you know anything about the games or not. When pressured with obscure questions from the audience regarding the game characters and gaming aspects of the movie, Mr. Reilly quipped, “I always wanted to know what those cherries in the Pac-Man game tasted like. Turns out – they taste good.” And this look like it is going to be a very good film for everyone.

On the way out Thurday evening, I stopped by the Dawn of the Con event being hosted by Rob Zombie. Mr. Zombie wasn’t there yet, but there was a DJ with cool music and videos and a flurry of activity including pictures with the Munsters mobile “Dragula” and free arty t-shirts pressed on-the-spot to those willing to wait in a line that looked to be several hundred people long. Below, you can see a slideshow of the attractions I took in on Thursday, including an exhibit of all the different versions of the Batmobile. Be sure to follow the Nerdvana Comic-Con coverage on Twitter (when it isn’t jammed-up from thousands of con tweets) and see all of our Con blog posts HERE.

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About the author

Bob Leeper

Bob Leeper is the co-owner and manager of "Arizona’s Pop Culture and Alternative Art Network," Evermore Nevermore. He is the co-creator of the pop culture events Steampunk Street and ENCREDICON, and is a member of the Phoenix Film Critics Society. He also curates the Facebook fan site The Arizona Cave – AZ Fans of Edgar Rice Burroughs, and is one of the few brave and bold fans of Jar Jar Binks.

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