The second ever Denver Comic Con has finally come to a close after an amazing weekend of comics and appearances from celebrities form all across geeky culture. The first Comic Con last year brought in about 27,000 people, making it the second biggest opening for a Comic Con ever. This year the numbers were nearly double that of last year, with an estimated total of over 50,000 people rushing into the Colorado Convention Center. Denver was able to land many big name celebrities from every medium this drew an almost overwhelming crowd. However the weekend was a blast and there really was something for everyone to enjoy. The first day of the Denver Comic Con started a bit rocky but ended up being a great kick start to the rest of the event. I was able to attend four panels on the first day of Comic Con, and they were all super entertaining. They contributed to the great experience I had on day 1.
Panelists: Jim Mahfood, Dan Conner, Tony Fleecs, Thom Zahler, Andrew Pepoy, Greg Guler, and special guest Doug Tennapel
The Quick Draw panel was super entertaining and really showed of the artistic skill of the panelists. How it worked was two artists would go up to their respective drawing canvases and use markers/sharpies, to draw quickly. Sounds simple enough. The first task was to draw a self-portrait, but only the head. After they completed their self-portrait, things started getting pretty crazy and funny. The first artist had to draw himself with a sharktopus body, set in the old west and have advertisements for Nutella in the background. The other artist had to draw himself as a zombie set in WW2 with an advertisement for Old Spice. Both pictures actually turned out great, and they only had about a minute or so to draw each different item from the body to the setting to the ad. After this, they asked the artists what the craziest thing a person has asked them to draw at a convention was, and one answer in particular was brilliant. One of the artists had drawn what looked like Adolf Hitler being shot in the head by Batman. He then told us that a ten year old boy came up to him and asked him to draw that for him. This panel was tons of fun although it was a shame there were not many people there to attend it. Unfortunately, this was when the Con was first opening and people were still stuck in line. If you want to view any of the panelists personal pages or artwork, you can go to HERE where most of them with their personal links are listed.
Superman’s 75th Anniversary!
Panelists: Steven Seagle, Joe Kelly, Paul Ryan, Dexter Vines, Joe Rubenstien
This panel along with the Quick Draw panel was held in the Main Event room, however unlike the Quick Draw panel, this event was jammed packed. People were able to make their way through the lines in time to hear the panelists talk about Man of Steel, and they weren’t disappointed. All of the panelists were, at some time, writers for the Superman comics. They each shared their stories of when they first discovered Superman as kids, and when they first wrote their Superman comics. What I thought was interesting was that all of the panelists received a Superman comic at a young age, but for most of them, it wasn’t until the Christopher Reeves Superman movie came out in 1978 that they discovered their passion for Superman. Most of them were really eager to see how the Man of Steel movie will turn out. Now my favorite part of this panel was not what was being said; it was the people attending it. Superman’s 75th Anniversary panel had the most diverse group of people I have seen in all the panels I attended at the Denver Comic Con. It was great looking out at the crowd, seeing old men dressed up in their Superman costumes, and tons of little kids learning about Superman for the first time. When you realize how broad the group of people are, you then realize the reach that Superman has, and how he has impacted generation after generation. For me being a big Superman fan myself, I thought that was great.
Raphael Sbarge Spotlight
Okay, I have a confession to make before I tell you about how this panel went. I had pretty much no idea who Raphael Sbarge was before I attended this panel (I know, I’m bad). I read that he was a voice actor in the Mass Effect video game series (which I did not play… I know, just strike me down now). But I can say now that he was without a doubt my favorite celebrity that I heard speak on Friday. He had energy and passion about what he does that is hard to find in many others. This panel was mainly about his voice acting role of the character Kaidan in the Mass Effect trilogy. However, he is also well known for his role in the show Once Upon a Time. As far as video game voice acting goes, he divulged a lot of information on what it is really like to voice act for a game and, I found that to be really interesting. Here are some of the best Q&A’s from his panel:
Q: How do you feel about the backlash of Mass Effect 3 and how it ended?
Sbarge: “You know look, they don’t tell us in advance what we’re going to record. So I got there and we started doing this and was like “Oh man”, there are going to be a lot of really upset people about this. And it was really interesting because it was sort of like the shot heard around the world; there was a lot of grief about it. I stood back and sort of watched it play out and this is my two cents for what it’s worth. You know I want to say I was really moved by how passionate the Mass Effect fans are; they are extraordinary. There is something about the fact that it did end, that the arrow went up; it was shot and it landed. That makes it in a certain sense. more precious in a way. I was touched and moved by the response, but I also sort of felt like now that we have all had a chance to breathe through the pain in a way, we sort of shared a brotherhood about it.”
Q: Do you play your games?
Sbarge: “Um, I have. I have said this before publicly so I’ll say it again; it’s a little weird playing with yourself (tons of laughter followed). I said it by accident once and was like “ah I can’t believe I just said that!” I am not a big gamer, but I have played a whole bunch of Mass Effect 1, and some of 3. It’s a commitment and I haven’t had as much time to do it. I’ve done it enough to know how extraordinary it is. And I killed Kaidan… I am not a full on gamer, but I do love games.”
Q: How did you feel about the Kaidan and Sheppard romance in Mass Effect 3?
Sbarge: “It was so great honestly. I mean first of all, it was really in the 3rd game that BioWare really “came out” right. And I thought it was awesome because I had so many people say how much it meant to them to have this romance, the man on man romance, or the woman on woman romance…There’s someone I know whose husband had written his thesis on gender and role playing in games, and again, when you go into these games, you get to effectively pick your avatar and live it out. That can be as real as walking down the street here, sometimes even more real… I think it’s wonderful and I am sure there will be a lot more of it from developers.”
Panelists: Dee Bradley Baker, Hal Rayle
Dee Bradley Baker and Hal Rayle are incredible voice actors and are incredibly funny as well. Dee Bradley Baker is probably best known right now for his role on Phineas and Ferb as Perry the Platypus, and Klaus from American Dad (the goldfish). Hal Rayle was Raphael on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles TV series in the early 90’s, he did voices for the Muppets, and he voiced the Ewoks for Lucas Films. Seriously, check these guys’ credits out; they both have very extensive backgrounds in voice acting. As Baker and Rayle answered questions about their work, they also offered a lot of advice if you want to get into the industry. Here are some of the best Q&A’s from this panel:
Q: What steps should you take to get into voice acting?
Baker: Go to IWanttoBeaVoiceActor.com
Rayle: You can also look at how-to videos on Youtube.
Baker: And seriously those are good answers. But you should listen to everybody who has made their way in this. Listen to their advice. Having stage performance and training is a good thing, because there is a live performing aspect to a person who becomes a voice actor.
Rayle: You also have to think about where you are living. If you want to work in animation, you have to live in Los Angeles. And you need to have voice separation. If they are going to have you on a show, they would like you to do at least three voices. Because one paycheck covers three voices. So make sure you can do a lot of characters. And whatever voice you are working on, make sure you can emote.
Q: What is one of the most challenging voices you have ever done?
Rayle: Well there are different kinds of challenges. As far as difficult, for me personally, I spent nine days doing the Predator, and left a lung in that room. Another example is they called me in to do a koala bear. They called me on Friday and asked me to do a koala bear, and I said sure. So I called everybody I knew in Los Angeles and said who has a reference on koala bears and nobody had one. So I called England and talked to the BBC and they said, “There is no real reference for a koala bear, but I can assure you they are nasty little buggers.” So I showed up on Monday and they said they had been waiting all weekend and want to know what a koala bear sounds like. And I said you know they are nasty little buggers, really. So I did a nicer Predator voice. And they said “Ah! That’s what we’re looking for.
Baker: The most challenging one for me recently was doing clones for Clone Wars, which is straight ahead and normal. That isn’t really what I am used to doing. They usually call me in for the weird and wacky stuff. But the clones were straight ahead soldiers, and I never thought of myself as doing that kind of a role, but I found it really challenging to lock into that at first. As voice actors, you need to find and do things that you haven’t thought of before. And the nice thing about voice overs is that you can play different roles and different genres that are not a part of your default. It’s wonderful to discover, and find in a career that can last a lot longer than a career on camera can.
Overall the first day of the Denver Comic Con was great. As you probably heard though, nearly 6,000 people were turned away because the fire marshal deemed it to be unsafe to have such a big crowd outside the door. There was a line that wrapped around the building that was just too much for them to handle. More people had showed up than expected and Denver Comic Con was a bit overwhelmed the first day. A lot of people were really upset about this, having to wait in line for hours when many had already purchased tickets months in advance.
This did put a bit of a damper on the first day, however you have to remember that everyone working with the Denver Comic Con were volunteers. The proceeds of Comic Con go to Comic Book Classroom, a charity that provides after-school reading programs for kids. It is am excellent cause and Denver Comic Con is doing a great thing helping them out. If you would like to know more about Comic Book Classroom, here is a link to their website: ComicBookClassroom.org
Even with the hiccups the first day was amazing and was just a prelude to how great the rest of the weekend would turn out. Stay tuned for the second part of my Denver Comic Con review!