This day was a little less busy, with fewer panels and a little more wandering in the exhibit hall. I caught the Batman: Under the Red Hood premiere with Chris Tulach at night.
12:00 IDW and their ‘Bro
Panel for Hasbro tie-in IDW comics. I went hoping to get some info on the D&D comics. There was…a little.
Moderator: Andy Schmidt
- Larry Hama (G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero)
- Robert Atkins
- Mike Costa (G.I. Joe titles)
- Denton Tipton (editor, Dungeons & Dragons comics)
- Michael Kelly (from Hasbro)
- Alex Irvine (writer, Dark Sun miniseries)
Transformers Ongoing Series
- Mike: They’ll go into space, find Hotrod, bring back Decepticons, 5-part arc.
- DRIFT 4-issue miniseries by Shane McCarthy, Alex Milne. Origin of Drift, introduction of Lockdown.
- Last Stand of the Wreckers TPB
- Transformers: Sector 7 (movie universe). John Barber and Joe Suitor.
- Transformers Prime (Oct.), prequel to November TV series on The Hub. By Mike Johnson.
Dungeons & Dragons Comics
- Denton Tipton: Aug. 11 issue #0 comes out for $1. Ongoing series (Nov.) by John Rogers (Transformers, Leverage) with art by Andrea DiVito and covers by Tyler Walpole (Wayne Reynolds for launch books).
- Dark Sun miniseries. Writer is Alex Irvine, artist Peter Bergting, covers by Andy Brase (a friend of Brom).
Alex: The main character is a broken-hearted mul gladiator. (Didn’t quite get the name; something like “Grupic.”) He was sold back into slavery, and believes he was betrayed by a noble woman he loves. He breaks out and escapes into the desert. There, he meets Aki, a bard/dune trader/slave hunter. They come to find the mul carries an artifact that causes people to come looking for them. They have to sneak back into Tyr.
I asked during the Q&A which classic monsters might be appearing in the two series, but had no luck getting an answer.
Lara Hama wrote a new silent story (no dialog) starring Snake Eyes. Started out by Hama drawing layouts. Choreographed all fighting himself, sometimes using own swords for poses and including references photos of himself. He lieks to see cause and effect in fights, not generic battles. Snake Eyes starts with an Uzi, three magazines, a fighting knife, and three grenades. The comic shows how all these are used, and every bullet is accounted for. As a tie-in they’re reprinting an earlier silent story from G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (#17 if I heard right).
- Sedition by Numbers: G.I. Joe Origins #20-23. By David Lapham. Gives insight into Cobra and their recruiting.
- Cobra Special 2 by Mike Costa and Antonio Fuso tells the trial of Erika La Tene.
- G.I. Joe: Cobra #10-13 by co-writers Mike Costa and Cristos Gage, with art by Antonio Fuso, tells the conclusion of the Chuckles story.
- G.I. Joe #23-27 “Critical Mass” ends the mass device art. Chuck Dixon, Robert Atkins, first Storm Shadow appearance.
- G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero continues the Marvel series. By Larry Hama. Cobra discredits the Joes, then gets government sanction to hunt them down.
Q: Will the D&D ongoing and Dark Sun mini intertwine?
A: Ongoing is in “points of light” world, the mini in Dark Sun. They won’t mingle.
Q: For Costa, in Cobra, you’ve fixed characters previously considered dorky. Do you consider that a goal?
A: [Costa] It wasn’t initially. I just used who would work. But after fans like reclaiming those characters, I did make it a challenge.
Q: Will you have D&D promotional dice?
A: [Tipton] We’re looking into it. Talked about a d20 with IDW and D&D logos on the 1 and 20.
Q: The Coil in Cobra has obvious similarity to Scientology. Has there been controversy?
A: [Costa] I live in L.A. and was going to get “audited” by Church of Scientology to make it as authentic as possible. My roommate said not to do it, because they will find you. “Something tells me Tom Cruise isn’t reading my Cobra comic.”
Q: Can you tell us about the plot and characters of the D&D ongoing?
A: John Rogers is stuck in Portland working on Leverage. [He was originally scheduled to be on the panel.]
Aldric: Leader of a four-person party. Right-hand dwarf paladin, elf ranger (with a great twist), and halfling rogue Bri Three-Hands. Their eventual fifth is a tiefling warlock. The pitch starts with a standard party, but the pitch had already defied expectations by paragraph two.
3:15 Spartacus: Blood and Sand
***MASSIVE SPOILERS EVERYWHERE! JUPITER’S C***
This is a great guilty pleasure show. They started off with a trailer of all old footage, then brought on:
Andy Whitfield (Spartacus)
He thinks it was a great prequel idea, and he thanks the crew for holding out till after his bout with cancer had ended. He got profound support from fans.
Q: What was your training schedule like?
A: You eat less and exercise. It’s not rocket science.
Q: Are you totally clear to work?
A: I can do anything. It was a great rest and reboot, and I have a new fearlessness.
They brought on more of the cast and crew:
- John Hannah (Batiatus)
- Lucy Lawless (Lucretia)
- Viva Bianca (Illithyia)
Prequel series: Gods of the Arena
Q: Was it a surprise to get called back to do a prequel? [After Hannah and Lawless’s characters died at end of season 1]
A: [Lawless] It was a great way to keep up momentum and to keep good writers on board.
Q: Steven, how did you approach writing this prequel?
A: [DeKnight] Writing for these two is so easy, and it’s so fun to get into their characters. I expanded on stories just touched on previously, like Batiatus’s relationship with his father.
Q: Hints about what will happen?
A: [Lawless] Lots of dramatic motion. It doesn’t ease you into the series.
Q: Spartacus is full of extreme sex and violence. Anything you pitched that you or the network deemed too extreme?
A: [DeKnight] Rob [Tapert] and I pitched Spartacus biting out an opponent’s throat in “The Pit.” That was too much for them, so he pokes out his eyes instead.
Q: For the women, were there any “uh-oh” moments in the script where you thought, “I can’t do this.”
A: [Lawless] Every sex scene. It looks horrific in print, but it’s beautiful on screen.
[Bianca] I was just as shocked by everything my character does as the audience was.
Q: This series has a signature curse. [DeKnight] Do you mean “Jupiter’s cock?” [Moderator] Yeah. Where did that come from?
A: [DeKnight] Well, I was standing around naked one day, and it just happened.
Q: This was all shot indoors and on green screen. Was this even fun to shoot?
A: [Bianca] There were amazing sets. The ladies do lots of drinking and eating strawberries.
[Hannah] The villa is a great set.
[Whitfield] It was great to go there [from the gladiator pit set]. They had chairs.
[Hannah] Food was all historical. There were no apples. A lot of dates. [Others: And Turkish delight.]
Q: A lot of people die in this series. Do you regret killing anyone off?
A: [DeKnight] Batiatus. He’s exactly the kind of villain I love writing. But I gave him a spectacular sendoff.
Q: In the first season, Spartacus’s goal was to get his wife. What is it for the sequel?
A: He’s more socially conscious, sees the bigger picture.
Q: There’s a “Sparta-cuss” site that spits out Spartacus-themed profanity.
A: It was made by English fans. You put in the word of your choice and Steven “DeKnighted” it.
[DeKnight] I just had a merch meeting. There’s some great stuff coming up. [A gladius flash drive was on display at the show.]
Q: Andy, which antagonist did you hate the most?
A: [Whitfield points at Hannah]
Q: [Pervy guy tells Viva Bianca he doesn’t need to buy Playboy anymore after her appearance, then tells Lawless she’s gorgeous.]
Q: “I have a question for John Hannah… Dominus.”
A: [Hannah] “Speak.” [Audience laughs.]
Q: Did you ever think your character might survive?
A: [Hannah] Early on I did. By epidsode 7, I knew I was bad and just had to run with it.
Q: I was sad to see Varro go. Is he in the prequel?
A: We couldn’t fit him in, but we adore Jai Courtney.
Q: What about Batiatus makes you root for him?
A: [DeKnight] Everyone loves an underdog. You like him at first as he tries to get ahead.
Q: My favorite story point was Varro’s death. How did you pull that off?
A: [Whitfield] I called Steve and asked, “Do we have to kill him?” It was really the most powerful thing for the show. It took three days to shoot. Jai and Andy were a mess because of what their characters were going through.
[DeKnight] I actually kept him for two more episodes than I planned. He was supposed to die earlier.
Q: What’s your favorite scene and why?
A: [Whitfield] Killing Varro. It’s a huge turning point.
[DeKnight] That, or Illithyia “going bananas” on Licinia. Favorite show was Spartacus leaping onto the balcony [in “Kill Them All”].
[Lucy] The fluffer scene. [One in which Lucretia and Batiatus have a discussion while he has sex with a slave.] It was intense.
[Hannah] There’s a lot of talk about sex in the show. But it informed on the characters to have this scene. Showed how we feel about slaves and about each other.
[Bianca] The power flip between Lucretia and Illithyia. Suddenly, Illithyia’ ways had to transform so she can survive in this world.
Q: Ever consider a console video game?
A: It’s come up. I can’t say more. I want a console game and action figures.
Q: Lucy, did you ever wish you could pick up a sword and beat everybody up?
A: No. I actually always hated that stuff. Viva and I got to chug grapes and Turkish delight.
Q: There’s a lot of eye candy in this show, and it’s gained a dedicated gay following. Did you expect this?
A: [DeKnight] We hoped it would be embraced by the gay community. We want relationships between men and women, men and men, and women and women. A relationship is just a relationship. Barka and Pietros aren’t looked askance at by other gladiators.
Q: Any costumes you wanted to take home?
A: [Bianca] All of them. They got better every episode.
[Lawless] The costume designer added little omens of death that creep into the costumes of people who are going to die soon. Spiders, scarabs, other Roman symbols of death.
8:00 Batman: Under the Red Hood
***SPOILERS ARE A SUPERSTITIOUS AND COWARDLY LOT***
An animated feature telling the story of the death of Jason Todd (the second Robin) and the rise of the Red Hood in Gotham’s criminal underworld.
Releases July 27th.
- Brandon Vietti (director)
- Bruce Timm (producer)
- Vincent Martela (young Robin)
- Judd Winick (writer)
- John DiMaggio (Joker)
- Andrea Romano (voice director)
- Bruce Greenwood (Batman)
Q: What about the art direction?
A: [Vietti] We used a realistic treatment based on the grittiness of the script. Influenced by the Nolan movies. Reality, noir.
[Timm] Made to choices to make it not look like Batman Animated Series, but it still kinda did.
[Vietti] But with the art deco removed. It’s a more modern style.
Q: There’s no blood in the beating scene. Was this a conscious decision?
A: [Timm] Can’t do an R-rated Batman movie. We had to pull back. The first Wonder Woman cut was an R, and we had to do quick edits. Wanted to avoid that this time.
Q: Heard Judd’s pitch over the phone was really animated.
A: [Winick] I pretended I was Grant Morrison. Bruce wasn’t sold on the idea because of the source material.
[Timm] Reading it, knowing it might be adapted (as opposed to as a fan), subplots pulled me out of the narrative thread. But the pitch answered every question in 45 minutes.
Q: Isn’t there going to be a new Red Hood series?
A: [Winick] It’s the story between Jason reviving and his first appearance as Red Hood.
Q: John, you had big purple shoes to fill. How did you make the Joker your own?
A: They called to offer me the part, and I asked, “What happened to Mark Hamill? Is everything okay?” I was scared.
[Timm] But at least fans aren’t judgmental.
[Greenwood] Watched this just after getting a new sound system, and DiMaggio’s voice had the subwoofer moving across the floor.
Q: Timm and Romano, you wanted Greenwood to play Batman for a long time.
A: [Romano] Schedules never worked out. I’m glad, because this was a great marriage of actor, project and part. It’s also the first time I’ve seen John [DiMaggio] scared. But he made a really scary Joker, and really shows how much the character enjoys being a sadist.
[Timm] Jensen [Ackles, as Red Hood] was awesome. He started out arrogant and snippy, but you eventually care for him.
[Winick] And he did it all without a face. [Red Hood wears a full mask.] He had to do it all with his voice.
[Romano] Jason Isaacs [Ra’s al Ghul] had a thankless job, with lots of exposition. But he moved pieces around and worked with them, had a lot of ideas. The main cast didn’t record together.
Q: For Greenwood, how was that experience?
A: The best thing was Andrea on the other side of the glass. She had such high energy. The booth is a dark place with only a little light, but that energy comes pouring through.
Q: What was your first experience with Batman?
A: [Greenwood] The original TV series. My parents wouldn’t let me watch. Too much “BAM!” and “ZAP!”
[Romano] Also Adam West.
[DiMaggio] That show and Super Friends.
[Timm] Adam West. At six, I didn’t understand comedy and thought the show was real. I thought Robin died when he was eaten by a clam.
[DiMaggio] And Batgirl was hot. I humped a hole in my couch because of Batgirl.
[Martella] Batman Forever. I still have the action figures hidden away.
More DC Animated Films Ahead
Batman/Superman: Apocalypse tells the origin of Supergirl. Sept. 28.
Green Lantern: Emerald Knights is an anthology like Gotham Knight, focusing on different members of the Green Lantern Corps.
Batman: Year One
Q: Will Apocalypse art direction emulate the Michael Turner art?
A: [Timm] Yes.
Q: What martial arts were used in fight scenes?
A: [Vietti] Some fights are martial arts-based. Others are street fights. You get harder hits, more of a street fight-style in emotional scenes.
Q: For Greenwood, will you do Batman again?
A: [Vietti] He’s doing Batman for Young Justice.