Friday featured perhaps the most highly anticipated event of the Con- the 10th Anniversary Firefly panel. Fans camped out overnight waiting for the line to get into Ballroom 20 to open up. Firefly was the third panel of the day, but as ComicCon has a policy of not clearing out the rooms between each panel, many people decide to pick a room and stay in it, sometimes sitting for hours through panels for projects they’re either unfamiliar with or actively not fans of. The line for Hall H was perhaps even longer, though that hall seats about 2500 more people. Needless to say, at around 6:30am, the area outside the convention center was a zoo, with volunteers and staff doing their best to keep lines organized and people off the roads. Once things got started at 10am, though, there was plenty for the TV crowd to sink their teeth into. A few huge TV panels were in Hall H, which I wasn’t able to get to, including The Big Bang Theory, The Walking Dead, and last year’s hit of the Con, Game of Thrones, but here’s what I was able to see:
The day started off with a bang with a Community panel featuring the cast (minus Donald Glover and Chevy Chase), the new showrunners, and some fan-favorite writers. I got in about 8 minutes in, so I’m not sure if there was a trailer for the new season, but we did get plenty of talk about the panel’s favorite moments from season 3, their hopes for season 4, and a few spoilers as well. There were several clips shown, including season 3 highlights and part of the s3 DVD blooper reel, and plenty of love spread around- the panel emphasized their gratitude to the fans for their part in bringing Community further into the public consciousness and helping to get it renewed. There was time for a few questions from fans, though not very many, and then it was time for…
While there were many fans in costume for Korra and clearly very excited for it, most of the crowd was clearly less familiar with this project than its bookenders in Ballroom 20. Luckily, the panel seemed to have been structured with this in mind, and fans and n00bies alike seemed to enjoy themselves. After a clip reel from the previous season, the voice cast and several of the creative staff came out and addressed some questions put forward by the moderator. Then the cast did a table read of several scenes, which were paired with stills, which did a good job of introducing the world and characters of the show while also clearly engaging the hardcore fans, who were familiar with the scenes chosen. Afterward, we were treated to various early renderings of locations and landscapes for the new season, as well as new character and costume designs. All in all, it was a packed, informative panel and I would not be surprised if this alone brings a number of new fans to the series. Next up, though, was the belle of the ball…
Firefly 10th Anniversary Panel
After a lengthy promo for the Science channel, who sponsored the event, it was time to get started. While only about half of the cast was present, the Browncoats who stuffed Ballroom 20 to the gills didn’t seem to mind, hooting and hollering for each of the panelists as they were introduced. The moderator fielded questions to them for a while, sometimes intro’d by a relevant (or not so relevant) clip from the series, before opening it up to questions. While most of the questions and answers felt a bit familiar, no one seemed to care. Nathan Fillion, as ever the reliably entertaining panelist, mugged for the camera for much of the first portion, making an entertaining double-act with Joss Whedon, and Adam Baldwin gave away a Jayne hat to the fan with the right answer to a trivia question, though much of the crowd seemed stumped. After a while, the panel was opened up to fan questions, which were for the most part fun, interesting, and poignant. It may not have been the most informative or surprising panel, but it was certainly a moving one- the roar of 4000 fans expressing their devotion to a beloved project is an amazing thing to experience.
This panel featured io9 staffers as well as a few writers and producers discussing their favorite discoveries in the realm of sci-fi over the past year. Most of the suggestions were books, including Fair Coin, Red Shirts, and Ready Player One, and films, including Safety Not Guaranteed and Cabin in the Woods, but a couple TV series got mentions. Amy Berg, writer for Person of Interest, Eureka, and The 4400, among others, recommended Falling Skies, currently in its second season on TNT and Annalee Newitz, editor in chief of io9, recommended Continuum, a Canadian series centering on a police officer from the future chasing down a group of rebels who have escaped back to now to try to prevent what they see as a dystopian future. The panel was fun and interesting and the Q&A portion was just as informative, with several audience members offering up their suggestions, almost all of which immediately got a huge round of applause from the audience and panel alike.
Marti Noxon and Jane Epsenson (writers from Buffy), Angela Robison and Deborah Ann Woll (writer/director and actress currently on True Blood), and Gale Anne Hurd (producer of The Terminator) sat down to discuss their experiences both writing/acting/producing female characters in genre fiction as well as their experiences as women in a generally male-dominated subset of the field. This is a group of very intelligent women and listening to them have a more informal chat on a topic that’s clearly important to them and their careers was a lot of fun. Perhaps the most interesting question of the Q&A portion, if not the panel, was the second one asked- why is Wonder Woman so hard for Hollywood to get off the ground? The audience cheered the question and the panel discussed WW, and the failed pilot from last year, briefly, before Angela Robinson gave her particular theory, that Wonder Woman is, at the heart of the property, very radical and strange, and that Hollywood can’t quite wrap their heads around it. ComicCon has a lot of huge panels filled with stars and covering projects fans can’t wait to get every last tidbit of info on, but often the most interesting panels are the smaller ones like this that let knowledgeable, entertaining people discuss topics close to their hearts. Plus you don’t have to wait in line 3.5 hours to get in.
Finally, earlier in the day I spent a little time walking the exhibit floor and snapped a few photos of the cosplayers walking around. There have been a lot of great costumes at the Con so far and costume-spotting is definitely one of the highlights of the convention. (No Slave Leias yet, unfortunately, though apparently there was one male Slave Leia walking around who I missed.) Here are a couple examples of the kind of costumes you’ll see as you wander through San Diego Comic Con.