So it begins. San Diego Comic-Con 2011 preview night is tonight, and the con programming starts tomorrow morning. Comic-Con (SDCC) will have countless celebrities, extravagant exhibition hall displays, standing-room-only panels, and merchandise for sale beginning or exclusively at the con. And this year it’ll also have me.
This will be my very first Comic-Con, and I’m jumping in with both feet: As announced here on GeekDad a while ago, I will be moderating the Phineas and Ferb panel on Friday afternoon (for SDCC attendees, 4:45 – 5:45, room 6A). To say I’m looking forward to it would be an understatement, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. It should be a great panel, with cast members and show creators Dan Povenmire (Dr. Doofenshmirtz) and Swampy Marsh (Major Monogram), along with fellow cast members Vincent Martella (Phineas), Ashley Tisdale (Candace), Olivia Olson (Vanessa Doofenshmirtz) and Dee Bradley Baker (Perry the Platypus).
I had a chance to meet with Dan and Swampy (they’re far too informal to call them “Povenmire and Marsh”) when they were in Washington, D.C. to speak at the National Press Club. I’d spoken with them on the phone many times, but had never physically met them before, and we were able to chat for a half hour along with show cast members Alyson Stoner (Isabella), Bobby Gaylor (Buford) — whom I’d also phone-interviewed — and Jack McBrayer (Irving, but probably best known to adults as Kenneth on 30 Rock). (Maulik Pancholy, who voices Bajleet and plays Jonathan on 30 Rock, was at the panel at the Press Club, but alas I didn’t get a chance to meet him.) I know it’s cliché to say that they were just ordinary, down-to-earth folks, but it’s really true: Heck, the first thing Dan and Swampy did after we exchanged handshakes was to show me a smartphone photograph of the two of them meeting Jon Stewart, because that was their meeting-a-celebrity moment. We chatted about a lot of things, many of which — such as things crazy fans have done to try to meet and/or talk with them — I couldn’t really contribute to. The best part was when Dan and Swampy were explaining to the other cast members who I was: I don’t remember his exact words, but Dan said that I had written the first review of the show which they felt had really gotten what they were trying to do. I recalled that my first contact with the people from the show had been when Dan had sent me an email after my review was published thanking me for it, but it wasn’t until I heard them talk about it in person that I really understood that what I’d written had genuinely meant something to them on both a personal and professional level. I don’t know that I’d ever before felt proud and honored in quite that way before, and it’s a memory I expect to cherish for many years to come.
If you’d like to get something of an idea of what the Phineas and Ferb panel might be like — though the panel members won’t be quite the same — you can watch the New York Times‘ “TimesTalks” episode they filmed on July 9 here (the video is an hour and a half long, so bear that in mind).
I also had the chance to meet in Washington with some of the cast of the Disney Channel show Fish Hooks as well, which was another great privilege and honor. I’d spoken with show creator Noah Z. Jones before, and written about the show and that conversation, but again had never actually met anyone involved with it. I was able to hang out and chat with Noah (who also voices Bea Goldfishberg’s dad), Chelsea Kane (Bea), Justin Roiland (Oscar), Kyle Massey (Milo), and show executive producer Maxwell Atoms. As with the Phineas and Ferb folks, you couldn’t find a nicer group of people to chat with. We chatted about a bunch of topics, but mostly about how they were enjoying Washington, and — I can’t remember for the life of me how we got on this topic — about strange and somewhat disgusting pranks we (well, mostly one or two of them, but I’m not sure I should say who) had pulled when we were younger. The story that sticks in my mind is when one of them talked about growing up in a fairly rural area where his parents were dog breeders. He talked at length about how he would, for fun, take some, er, material that dogs will tend to deposit on the ground from time to time, put it in a box, and wrap it up like a birthday present. He would then leave it on the side of the road and wait for someone to come along, steal it because it appeared to be an abandoned gift, start to drive away, and then throw the box out the car window as soon as they realized what it was they’d stolen. While this was definitely not the kind of conversation you expect to have when talking with people who work for Disney, it was a great insight into the senses of humor of all of them.
There will be a Fish Hooks panel at SDCC also, Sunday morning at 10:15, also in room 6A. Jones, Atoms, Kane, and Roiland will be there, along with director Bill Reiss and Atticus Shaffer, who voices Albert Glass but it probably best known to adults for his role as Brick on The Middle. It should be a great time.
Of course, I’ll be going to plenty more than just those. I’ll be at the screening for Phineas and Ferb: Across the 2nd Dimension, of course. And I’ll be at the MythBusters panel, the panel for Penn and Teller’s upcoming Discovery Channel show Secrets of the Universe, and hopefully the Eureka panel. I’d like to get into a whole bunch of others, too, but I know from others’ experience that I can’t necessarily count on getting into any of them. I’m also really looking forward to going to a bunch of parties, and, of course, w00tstock 3.0!
I’ll be checking in with articles and photos just as often as I can without going (more) insane. If there’s anything in particular you’re interested in hearing about, please leave a comment here — I can’t promise anything specific, but I will do my best to accommodate suggestions.
And now for the GeekDad-exclusive unveiling of the Phineas and Ferb Comic-Con figurines! There will be five special Comic-Con-only figurines from Jakks Pacific available for sale at the Disney booth. One of them will remain a mystery for now, but on the next page you can see photos of four of them (click on each for high-res), all featuring everyone’s favorite semi-aquatic secret agent in an unusual outfit. Of course, for Agent P, any outfit that goes beyond a fedora is unusual. Enjoy!
All images copyright by, and courtesy of, The Walt Disney Company.