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Fan Expo 2015 Q & A – Jason Momoa

As with many comic book and pop culture conventions, Fan Expo has grown gradually over the years since its inception.  At one time it might have been strange to see a big name there, but it has gotten bigger and so has its influence.  One of the featured guests at this year’s show was Jason Momoa, famous as Drogo from Game of Thrones, but also soon to be taking the lead role in the solo Aquaman film.  He joined a moderator to discuss his career in a tongue-in-cheek manner.

momoa002Moderator:  I am going to ask a few questions off the top, things that are probably on people’s mind.  To start, what can you say about Aquaman and about Justice League?

Jason Momoa:  It’s going to be amazing.  I can say that I am extremely honored and excited, as much as some of you are, it’s a dream come true to be doing something like that.  Being a father, I’m going to be really cool for a little bit.  My children normally don’t get to see a lot of the things that I’m on.  They’re still 8 and 6 and we don’t talk about too many things that papa does.  I’m pretty happy to be Aquaman and showing my children [what I do] for another while.

M:  There’s many ways that you can take the character, obviously you don’t look like the traditional classic look of Aquaman, and you are known for playing these really tough gruff characters, but you are the most chillest calm nice actor.  How do you approach these tough guy characters roles?

JM:  Savage roles.

M:   Yes, savage roles?

momoa003JM:  I think it’s just my forehead.  I think most people get me confused for being angry, I normally smile a lot more often.  I don’t know, I guess I just make a good mean face.  There’s a lot of reasons why Zack got this idea of me playing Aquaman, and I am pretty excited to step into his shoes.

M:  Is he going to be a bit of a chill characters, because Batman and Superman, at least in these recent films, are serious characters?

JM:  I don’t know yet.  I can’t see myself busting out a bunch of jokes.  I don’t think it will be like that.

Question From the Floor:   In comparison to Batman vs Superman, who would Aquaman end up in a feud with?

JM:  I don’t know.

M:  Oh. you know.

JM:  Or I know and I am not going to tell you!

QFF:   What would be your reply to any of the Aquaman related fish jokes?

momoa004JM:  It’s cute and funny, people make fun of him, and there’s a bunch of jokes about him.  But I’m like “Just wait.  Let’s just wait a little bit.  And then we can make jokes.”

M:  I will ask you about Road to Paloma, a film that you wrote and directed last year.  Can you tell the audience about it if they are not familiar?

JM:  I co-wrote it with a buddy, then my friend [Brian Andrew Mendoza] shot it.  It’s a story about this man saying goodbye to his life.  It deals with some issues that are happening, probably in Canada but definitely in the United States, and it revolves around the rapes on Native American reservations.  It’s a huge injustice that I tried to shed some light on.  And you know, I’m on a motorcycle, so there’s fun stuff too, and I beat people up, so you’ll like it too.  It’s probably the closest to who I am that I have ever played.  I’m not like Drogo.

M:  I hope not!

JM:  No, no  I like when my woman doesn’t cry when I have sex with her.  That’s always a sign of a healthy relationship.

QFF:  I have been watching your Pride of Gypsies take on more creative projects and a larger variety.  What is your dream goal or career trajectory that you foresee?

momoa005JM:  I have a small group of ragtag degenerates that are artists.  I am going to be doing these superhero movies for quite a while, and then there’s these movies that I really want to [make] and things that I want to say as an artist.  For instance, we just did these commercials, a new one just came out for the winter spots, I went up to all my favorite companies and people that I really respected, and asked if I could do their commercials.  I just wanted to keep doing art, and moving people, and if I can do it on a commercial level and make you cry in 30 seconds to a minute, then great.  There’s a lot of stories that I want to tell, and one of them being this story in Hawaii, and it’s a period piece, but it’s stuff that we have been talking about for a while.  It’s called Enemy in The Valley.  It’s a finished script but it will go after Justice League.  That’s when I will direct that.  We just wrote another one that Pride of Gypsies is going to be producing, and I am going to be shooting in Canada, in Newfoundland.  I am going to be in Newfoundland for a wwwwwhile.  There’s some other cool stuff happening in the works right now, I don’t really want to curse it, but there’s some new things.

M:   Have you been to Newfoundland before?

JM:  I haven’t and I am pretty excited to go there.  It looks pretty raw.

momoa006QFF:   When did you first learn the Haka (traditional Polynesian war dance) and what does that mean to you?

JM:  I first learned it when I was little.  I had been to many events where that had happened.  When it really connected to me, my cousin had passed away, he was a football player and all his best friends were doing it when we were taking the casket and lowering him down.  I had never seen grown men put out so much energy and love and hurt.  I could see tears squirting out of their eyes.  It’s designed so that if we are about to go into battle, some guys are more equipped for other things, but we’re all equal, but the Haka is designed to bring us all as one, and you are basically calling upon your ancestors, and you’re grounding yourself and getting ready for battle.

QFF:  How much do you draw on you heritage for your roles?

JM:  All the time, all the time.  I think that it is one of the things that I can offer the most.  Having that native blood, I just like being able to identify with it.  For different characters, I did a lot of study on Geronimo and Cochise, different warring chiefs, and there were many things that I drew from to find that power.

QFF:  What is the back story of your tattoo?

JM:  That is the Aumakua, it’s a guardian for my family.  It’s the shark.  It’s funny, Aquaman and shark.  Snyder wanted to take this and put it all over my whole body, which I thought was amazing.  It’s to bring the darkness out of the heart and bring the light in.  I got it before my son, and it’s kind of like little wolf fangs too.

batmanQFF:  What is your favorite Canadian food?

JM:  Canadian bacon and Hawaiian pineapple, you’ve got Hawaiian pizza.  Which makes no sense.  It hate that and all the Hawaiians hate it, we don’t even eat that much pineapple.  Why does it have Canadian bacon on top of it?  It should be a Canadian pizza with pineapple.

QFF:   What role did you read for that you really wanted but didn’t get?

JM:  I read for a role in Magnificent Seven, that was the best role in the whole movie.  I got very close, but it didn’t work out.  It’s the only one that ever got away that I was like “ooof, I really wanted that one”.

QFF:  Who is your favorite superhero?

JM:  Batman.  I grew up when that was coming out, I was at the prime age when Michael Keaton’s Batman came out.  It’s kind of cliche but Batman is my favorite.

QFF:   I’m a big fan of Barry Windsor-Smith’s Conan.  Your portrayal of him was much closer to Barry’s vision, but knowing that you were following in the shoes of Arnold Schwarzenegger, what trepidation did you have going into that role?

momoa007JM:  I didn’t have any, me and Arnold don’t have anything in common.  So, it’s two completely different versions, and I feel like I was a huge Robert E. Howard fan and a huge Frank Frazetta fan.  That’s where I got my Conan.  I love the Dark Horse comics too, but I felt that Arnold didn’t really capture what Frank or Howard truly was.  [With Arnold] they definitely made it fit that piece, to this bodybuilder size.  He looks great and looks amazing.  I’m not a bodybuilder, I’m an actor, he was a bodybuilder [at that time].

QFF:  Were there every any accidents when filming fight sequences on Stargate Atlantis?

JM:  Well, yeah.  I worked with a lot of people that didn’t know how to do that, Chris Judge and Rachel [Luttrell], they’re just kind of pretty faces.  It looks like they know how to fight but they really don’t.  Those people hit me all the time.  Rachel definitely punched me in the eye. [In one episode] she just hauls off and punches me.  They used the take where she was supposed to hit me in the chin [but she hit me in the eye] and I turned my head and said “You fucking hit me!”, and I turn back to her, and you could see the red right here around my eye.  And they kept it!  So then all thee grips, they sent flowers.  They’re rubbing it in that I got hit by a girl.

Stargate Atlantis TV series starring Joe Flanigan, Rachel Luttrell, David Hewlett, Jason Momoa, Torri Higginson, Paul McGillion, Jewel Staite, Robert Picardo, Amanda Tapping, Rainbow Francks and Mitch Pileggi [dvdbash.wordpress.com]

QFF:  What is your personal opinion of filming Games of Thrones?  What is it like really?

JM:  To date, it’s the greatest thing that I have ever done as an actor.  The hardest character to play, and it is the most artistic and beautiful piece of work.  The crew and the cast and the first season was really really amazing.  It’s the greatest experience that I have had in my acting career.  Doing Game of Thrones before it really hit … I think that it would be really challenging now and harder, because I’ve got to spend a lot of time with Kit, Richard and just a lot of the cast members.  Rory.  We were all there at once, and we just shot episodes, not blocks of them.  So now some cast members don’t even cross over, but I was there the longest, I got to really hang out and become family with everyone.  I’m really glad that I got to experience that.

QFF:   They have talked about the fluffy pink sock that happened on the set …

JM:  The fluffy big pink sock, you don’t want to knock any of those adjectives out.

momoa009QFF:   Right, can you tell us what went through your mind to use that instead of a modest sock to cover your privates?

JM:  There’s a lot of reasons!  You’re going to have to stick around and watch what my mind does.  There’s a lot of people in there talking that do stupid things.  If I am really uncomfortable, I’m a big fan of laughing, that helps when you are naked around a whole crew of people in the middle of January in Belfast, Ireland.  It’s cold, not that cold, but the fluffy pink sock brings a little levity to the situation.

M:  Did you anticipate it becoming the global phenomenon that it is when you took the job?

JM:  I knew that it was going to be huge.  HBO put everything into it, and … it’s HBO.  I just wanted to be in the room talking to HBO, let alone get that role, it’s the role of a lifetime.  I will never get a role that will ever have that big of an impact.  It’s going to be tough to beat.

M:  Sounds like Aquaman is going to be pretty cool

JM:  It is, [but Game of Thrones was different], there was only like 5 or 6 episodes where I really have to come off one way, and turn it around and make you fall in love with me, make you hate me then make you love me, then make you cry.


M:  What is like having become a sex symbol?

momoa010JM:  It’s weird.  I just kind of go “uhhhhh.”  You don’t really know what to do with it.


QFF:  Does your family ever have a reaction to you after your work on Game of Thrones?

JM:  When I ripped that guy’s throat out, my daughter was sitting on set knitting, she was with the wardrobe people.  She would come sit with me and say “Papa, you’re so silly!”  The only time that kind of freaked them out was when I did Wolves, it was five hours of makeup, putting on a wolf suit, I had the teeth in and everything, and I was like “Hey kids!”  And they were like “Papa?”  And I was like (in a kid’s voice) “Hey, I’m a wolf”.  And they grabbed momma’s leg.

They’re cool with it, but when I shot Game of Thrones, I couldn’t grow a beard that long that quick, plus Hawaiians aren’t that hairy.  So they made me shave [my beard] off and they would glue all of it on, and I kept the mustache.  I had this  70s porn mustache.  I’m 6′ 5” running around Belfast, which is pretty white.  It’s hard [to get eyeliner out], I don’t have time to get it all out, so I just wipe it off and go to bed, or go to the bar first.  So I go to the bar, and for a whole season, everyone’s just like “there’s the big drag queen!”  They didn’t know anything about Game of Thrones.  They were just like “He’s cool, he’s harmless”  I just have my [eyeliner] on and my mustache and my long hair.   When I went back the second season it was a total different vibe.



Fan Expo 2015 Q & A – Karen Gillan

Karen Gillan is one of the main attraction of the 2015 Fan Expo Convention, though in truth she is the main attraction of most conventions that she goes to.  She is a fan favorite thanks to her portrayal of Gamora in Guardians of the Galaxy, but more so as having played Amy Pond in Dr. Who.  She got a chance to talk with the fans about her experiences.


legendsModerator:  It’s just been announced that you are joining that new film, the Circle.  What can you tell us about that?

Karen Gillan:  It’s a film about this internet based company and they track their [employees’] lives quite extensively, and it’s about how far is too far when it comes to documenting what you’re doing all the time.

M:  Your old friend Arthur Darvill is going to be playing Rip Hunter in Legends of Tomorrow.  Have you imparted any advice to him on playing a superhero character?

KG:  No I haven’t actually, I feel like he has it down.  He knows about time travel.  He’s done it before.  I think that he is well-equipped for the job.

Question from the floor:  Can you talk about your time working on Oculus?  Would you like to do more horror movies in the future?

ocuKG:  I had such a good time working on Oculus which is a horror film about an evil mirror.  It was always a dream of mine to be in an American horror film because that is what I grew up watching.  I would love to do more.

QFF:  You recently directed a short horror film, what was the inspiration for that.  And what was your experience with it?  And also whether it is getting a public release?

KG:  It is getting a public release.  These shorts  are really complicated, I want to just tweet them, but I’m not allowed.  This one I just made is my second short and it’s set at a horror convention.  It’s about a girl who was in a horror film sequel, and then didn’t do anything after that, and she’s had a lot of surgery so I play someone that’s got a lot of prosthetics.  Then it gets a lot more serious when she starts talking about her life.

M:  Do you have a title?

KG:  Conventional.  She doesn’t want to be conventional, that is her greatest fear.  I think that it is going to be online later this year, as part of a horror short [collection].

M:  How short is short?

KG:  It’s 8 minutes.

x-defaultQFF:  I like you in the movie Not Another Happy Ending.  If you were [the main character] Jane Lockhart and if you wrote a book what would it be about?  What type of genre would it be and what would you call it?

KG:  If I wrote a book I think that it would have to be about something that I have experienced, or something that I know quite well, because I feel that if you are going to write – like that old saying “write about what you know” – I think that is is more specific and detailed and that’s good.  Maybe I would write about growing up in the middle of nowhere in Scotland and see where that goes.  I would call it “Haggis and Tartan”

QFF:  Who is your favorite superhero and why?

KG:  My favorite superhero is Spider-Man.  I just want to shoot web from my fingers!  Wouldn’t that be so cool?

QFF:  If you could be in any musical what would it be?

arthurKG:  A musical?  One that Arthur Darvill writes for me specifically.  He is the most amazing talented musician ever, like he can play any instrument that you put in front of him.  It’s really weird and freaky, and any song you can just shut out a request and he can automatically play it.  And he writes musicals so I feel like this would be a good team-up.

QFF:  Doctor Who has become such a huge phenomenon since it rebooted in 2005 and since you joined as a companion, it must have been a huge culture shock.  What was the biggest change that you noticed and what was the thing that scared you about taking on this huge role?

KG:  In the U.K. it is quite a weird thing to take on a role in Dr. Who just because it is such a national institution, and everybody knows what it is, and it’s headline news when someone joins the show.  And that doesn’t normally happen because usually they’ll establish a character on the show, and then you will see them become successful.  When I got the role I knew that my life was going to change, but I wasn’t scared because I was 21 and I had the blind optimism of youth.  If I got the role now I would be way more scared.

M:  What’s your reaction to Capaldi so far?

KG:  He’s great.  I think he’s brilliant!  First of all he’s a brilliant actor, second of all he’s Scottish, so he’s a winner.

M:  Is there any chance that Amy and Rory might come back?

karen002KG:  I have said before that I wasn’t going to return and my reason for that was because I wanted my departure to have the same impact years down the line.  I wanted people to feel upset when they watched it.  But then I went back for Matt’s regeneration so obviously I lie about that stuff.  So, yeah!  If they asked me to go back I would absolutely do it.

QFF:  What is the favorite Dr. Who episode that you were in and why?

KG:  It was “The Eleventh Hour” because I think that it is the best episode that Steven Moffat wrote because he had that in him since he was a little kid.  It was always his dream to write for Dr. Who and I think that he had that planned for a very long time.  It was a particularly magical and special episode, and we were playing the characters for the first time, and I thought my little cousin Caitlyn [Blackwood], who played the younger Amy, did such a good job introducing my character and making people like her so I was like “thank you”.

caitM:  How did she become involved in it?  Did you suggest her?

KG:  I did.  We were looking for this little Scottish girl who looked like me and sounded like me, and I don’t have the same Scottish accent as the central belt of Scotland like Glasgow, so they needed a particular one.  I was like “I have this cousin, who looks like me, she’s never acted before, she’s never expressed an interest in acting” and they were like “just let us audition her.”  And then they auditioned her three times, so it wasn’t that easy for her, which made me happy that she didn’t just get handed [the part].  She nailed the audition, I think that all the other little girls were sweet and lovely, and she had a lot of attitude, and she just put her hands on her hips and was like “What?  You’re a time traveler?”  I think that she did a really good job with that.

QFF:  What is your second favorite episode of Dr. Who?

KG:  It would have to be “The Girl Who Waited.”  I got to play an older version of Amy and see what I look like older, and now I live really healthily after seeing that (laughs).  It was cool because I felt like I got more to play with emotionally.

girl-who-waitedQFF:  Of all the villains in Dr. Who which one is your favorite?

KG:  It is actually the weeping angels, they are so scary and horrible and you had to look at them.

QFF:  When you played in the episode “Fires of Pompeii” did you know that you were going to be a Dr. Who companion then?  Or did you have to re-audition for the part.

KG:  I did not know that I was going to be a Dr. Who companion when I was in the “Fires of Pompeii” with Peter Capaldi, who didn’t know that he was going to be a Doctor!  That was quite random.  I had to re-audition for the companion role, and by that point the whole team had changed, all the producers had changed over, so it wasn’t even as if they went “Oh that girl from that episode could do it!”  It was just random and completely separate.

QFF:  If you could be the companion of any other Doctor who would it be?

david-tennantKG:  I think that it would be David Tennant.  I love his Doctor, I think it’s a really interesting version of the character, he’s so energetic and charming.  I think it would be fun.

QFF:  Do you think that you share any personality traits with Amy Pond?

KG:  I think that a lot of me bled into that performance, especially when you are playing [a character] every single day for ten hours and that’s all that you are doing, it sort of molds into you a little bit.  And you mold into it.  I think that she is a bit more sassy and a bit more sarcastic than me and has just a bit more attitude than me.  She’s like a cooler version of me.

M:  But part of becoming a companion on Dr. Who is much like actually being a companion of the Doctor in the sense that you’re going on this fantastic journey that’s brought you all over the world.

KG:  We would always talk about that.  Me and Matt would always sit down and be like “What’s real and what’s not?  Because it feels like our lives have completely changed.  We’re going on this fantastic crazy journey, and obviously we are not actually traveling through time but our lives have turned upside down.”

M:  You do share that quality then [with Amy] of taking that chance for adventure?

doomsdayKG:  I remember actively thinking that lot.  I’d be like “How does she feel in this situation?'”  And then I thought “Well how do I feel in this situation?  Ok, I understand.”

QFF:  What’s your favorite Dr. Who episode that you’re not in?

KG:  I really liked “Doomsday” with Billy and David just because it was so sad.  When they’re separated by the White Wall and his face was the saddest face that I have ever seen.  It haunts me.

QFF:  Did you watch Dr. Who when you were a child?

KG:  It wasn’t on when I was a kid, which is a travesty, and I am so mad at the BBC for that.  I didn’t really get to watch it growing up and have that amazing experience of being a child and being like “What is this?”  It came back in 2005 and I watched it with my mother because she is the biggest Whovian that I have ever met and she introduced me to it.  I remember thinking that the acting was really strong and hard because it’s all these high octane situations and it’s life or death all the time.  It’s not just a tv show where you are walking around corridors talking like a doctor on ER.

M:  Was it difficult watching the episodes with your mom when you were on it?  Was she critiquing the episodes in terms of the canon?

KG:  She would always come up with theories in things.  She would be like “I think that that means that.  Does it?” And I’d be like “I’m not going to tell you that.”

karen001QFF:  Are there any people that you would want to work with?  Or any specific roles that you would like to have?

KG:  I would love to work with Tilda Swinton, because I think she’s so amazing.  Such gravitas.  I would love to work with Matt again, he’s the best actor that I think that I have ever worked with, just in terms of how we work together.  He’s one of the most generous actors.  Even he’s not on camera and you’re on camera, he’s sort of giving you the lines.  He works so hard to provoke things out of you, and so we would never have to fake laugh, he would always do something to make me laugh.  Stuff like that.  That’s when acting is really enjoyable, when you’re not even acting, it’s like reacting.  He did that for me so he remains my favorite one to work with.

M:  If an opportunity presented itself, is there a role that you would want to take on in Star Wars?

KG:  Here’s what I want to do in Star Wars  …  and I have spoken to my agent about this as well.  I want to play a weird looking alien that you have never seen, nobody knows it’s me, and I’ll just walk past in the background and have no lines.  That’s all I want.

QFF:  Have you ever had a Dr. Who script where you didn’t really know what it was about or where it was going?

KG:  And then they come to make sense a few episodes later sometimes, so you just have to bide your time.  I remember being really confused by the “The Rebel Flesh” episode when I first read it because it’s much easier to watch that visually than to read on a page, because there are two of everyone.  I was like “What is happening?”  That was probably the most confusing for me … then I watched it and I understood it.

QFF:  If you could play a doctor, which one would you want to play?

KG:  I can’t say Matt, because that would be really weird, I’d have myself as a companion.  Maybe I would play the first one, William Hartnell.

QFF:  If there was a role reversal and Amy Pond was the doctor, would she be a good doctor?

KG:  I think that she would try really hard to save the universe, although I kind of like her as the companion, because she gets to be sarcastic and make fun of the doctor, and was quite a nice position to be in.

QFF:  If you could come back to Dr. Who as a villain who would you choose?

karen003KG:  Matt always says that I would make a good Silence.  So maybe I would do that and hang from ceiling.

QFF:  How would your experience have been different if you filmed with a different Doctor?

KG:  I feel like it would be a totally different experience actually.  I am so grateful to have had the one that I did because I feel like it was a special time because everyone changed over, so I got to experience things for the first time while he was experiencing things for the first time and we bonded over that.  We were both really young as well.  But I feel that it would be good to work with an other Doctor, I did work with David Tennant very briefly, and that was really cool.  It was in the “Fires of Pompeii.”  I remember watching him and Catherine Tate when we were shooting in Rome, and I remember seeing them come out of TARDIS and doing the scene when they first arrive.  I was like “They have the coolest jobs ever!  I really want to do that!”

M:  What do you think that the vibe would be like if you were to come back and do an episode with Capaldi?

KG:  It would be a lot of Scottish, we would have to put in a tartan. I think that it would be quite funny though, two slightly aggressive Scottish people.

QFF:  Was there any moment which sticks out for you as super intense to film?

karen004KG:  So many moments.  The main one is maybe the most obvious one.  It was my last scene, saying goodbye to the Doctor.  That was really really emotional, and I remember building up to it.  First of all, I wouldn’t read the script for a very long time.  And Arthur and Matt were like “Will you just read this thing so we can at least talk about it?” I was like “No, it’s not happening.”  And then I finally read it and I was really worrying about how I was going to play because I was like “Where do I pitch this?  This is the climactic moment!  This is it!  If I am ever going to deliver it has to be now.”  When I got there, I remember feeling so genuinely upset and Matt Smith was sitting on a grave listening to the Carpenters close to me.  And I was like “I don’t need to act at all, this is just the worst day of my life.”

M:  How did you pick yourself up after shooting that scene?

KG:  It wasn’t the last scene that we ever shot, so we just had to get on with it and shoot another episode afterwards, because we don’t shoot them in chronological order, but I do remember just sitting down on a grave and just staring for a second.  And then I remember, in mid-scene, breaking part, I was like “This is rubbish!  This is rubbish!”  And everyone was like “Are you ok?”

M: How was your favorite co-star on Dr. Who?

KG:  It has to be Alex Kingston.  She is just the coolest woman ever, in real life.  She is such a brilliant actress.

M:  Can you remember a set that you walked into that was the most awe-inspiring?

daleksKG:  That one was a big one for me, because I like Kubrick films and that one was like a Kubrick film.  There was a lot of white and symmetry.  Also “Asylum of the Daleks”, that was probably the biggest set that we ever had.  It was huge, and they shot some kind of huge fireball through it so it was pretty epic to look at.

QFF:  What was your favorite out-take from Dr. Who.

KG:  I think it was when we had to go on that whale tongue in “The Beast Below”.  Trying to stand up in that goo stuff was jokes.  We were falling over constantly, and there was real cabbage in it, we were in it all day, and I remember not being able to get through one line without laughing.

QFF:  What has been your favorite role that you have ever played?

KG:  That has to be Amy Pond,  just because she has such a special place in my heart.  It was the longest time that I ever spent playing a character, it was such a crazy life-changing experience, and everything was new and exciting.

QFF:  What is the most challenging role that you ever had to play and what did you do to prepare for that?

nebula001KG:  Nebula was pretty challenging just because I had to do a lot of physical stuff that I had never done before.  Like I had to learn this whole choreographed fight scene, and that involved so much practice.  I never practiced so much on anything in my life.  They would make me come in everyday that I wasn’t shooting and just do hours of working out and then I would learn how to kick and punch.  Doing that stuff was quite foreign to me.

QFF:  How was the transition between your roles as the Doctor’s companion and then Nebula in Guardians of the Galaxy?  Was it hard to switch between the two different sci-fis?

KG:  They are quite different characters.  There were a few other characters in between those two so I didn’t have to … but you know what?  It was actually weirdly similar going from Doctor Who to Guardians because it’s in the same genre and I was kind of nervous because Guardians is like a big scale film, and I was like “I’ve never done one of these before.”  And then I got there and I was like “This is a spaceship!  I know this!  I’ve got this!”

QFF:  They are two completely different characters, but are there any similarities in the way you went through the acting process with them?

nebula003KG:  Yeah, they are really different characters.  I don’t know if there are any similarities.  I hope not!  In terms of the way that I approached the roles, that was quite similar, just because with any acting role, you have your way of trying to understand the [character].  For me I got to the bottom of why I think that Nebula is the way she is and I justified all of her behavior, so in my head I think that she is a good person.

QFF:  What was it like on set as Nebula with all the makeup?

KG:  Yes, it’s really weird to see yourself transformed into an alien.  It was cool though, it was just such an extreme experience, and it took 5 hours every morning, and if I don’t shave my head it will take longer, so I’m considering shaving it to keep the time down.

QFF:  Who do you think would win between Nebula and Gamora if they had been able to finish their fight?

KG:  Who do I think would win?  Nebula!  She has a bionic arm!  Although Gamora is good, she’s a really good fighter, who’s known as the deadliest woman in the universe.

nebula002M:  Nebula fights dirtier.

KG:  She does, she doesn’t play fair.

M:  On that note do you think that we could see her turning to the good side in the upcoming films?

KG:  Who knows what James Gunn has in store?  He hasn’t mentioned anything about that, but even if she continues to be bad, I think that I understand why she’s doing it.

M:  What can you say about Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2?

KG:  I can say that I have not read a script yet, that I will be back and I still don’t know if I am going to bald or not.

M:  There’s a possibility that you won’t be.

KG:  There’s a possibility, I don’t know why or how, but there is.

Fan Expo 2015 Celebrity Q & A – Zach Galligan

Fan Expo 2015 kicked off with a Q&A from a beloved actor from the 1980s.  Although he has a diverse enough career behind him, he is best known for his lead role in the movie Gremlins.  He joined a moderator to discuss his career, some forgotten movies and what the future might hold for the iconic franchise.

zg002Moderator: The world came to know you through the role of Billy Peltzer in 1984, but who was Zach Galligan before that? What are the things that went into you that made you into the person that got that role?

Zach Galligan:  Well I was basically just a kid living in the Upper West Side of Manhattan and I had done a bunch of school plays, and plays at camp.  The usual stuff, kind of like musicals.  I had done Jesus in Godspell, Danny Zucco in Grease, stuff like that.  The basic kind of musicals that everyone does.  I was just going to school and minding my own business when a casting director came in looking for actors for a film that a director named Paul Mazursky was doing called Tempest which was obviously based on Shakespeare’s The Tempest, it was kind of a modern adaptation of it, with John Cassavetes and Gena Rowlands, and they were looking for a couple of young teenagers to be the young lovers.  And so I came in and I read for that and ironically I actually read for that with Phoebe Cates, which is how I met her the first time, so that is part of the reason why I felt that we had a bit of an advantage trying out for Gremlins together as we had read together on other projects before as New York based actors.

zg003So I tried out for that and clearly I didn’t get it but I got very close, when the experience was over, the casting director, who I didn’t really realize how legendary she was, her name is Juliet Taylor, she has basically been Woody Allen’s casting director since his very first movie “Take the Money and Run.”  She said “You did a very nice job, and you came very close to booking this part, and I was wondering if you would be interested in getting more auditions?”  I was seventeen at the time and I was like “Yeah, I would like to get more auditions I just don’t really know how you do that, how you get more auditions.”  She said “you get an agent.”  I said “what’s an agent?” She said “well that’s someone who send you out and get more auditions.”  And I said “how do you get an agent? Becuase that  is something that I would be interested in.”  She said “the first thing that you have to do is let me talk to your mom, so put her on the phone.”  So I put my mom on the phone and my mom basically put the receiver up to her ear, and I still can close my eyes and see her do this.  She goes “yes, uh huh” she looks at me and furrows her brow “I see, um hm, all right, well if you say so, ok.”  She handed the phone back to me and said “you have one year.”  I grab the phone and Juliet Taylor said “I’m going to set you up on a few appointments” and what I didn’t realize at the time was that she was setting me up with the three most powerful agents in New York City.  And basically I could go in and meet them and pick whichever one I liked the best, whichever one I clicked with the best.  When you’re seventeen you don’t know what’s going on in general, much less in show business.  Years later I ran into her and I said “By the way I never asked you what you did you say to these agents on the phone, so that even they had never met me, they all wanted to sign me?”  I was hoping that she was going to say “this young man is blindlingly talented” or I was hoping to get some gushy compliment from her, and she said “If you want to make tonnes of money, sign this kid.”  So that’s how I got an agent.  I knew that there was a time pressure and that really helped because it lit a fire underneath me.  I booked my first part in thirty days and I got my first lead in a film in ten months, and my mom was like “color me impressed.”

phoebe catesIn fairness for anyone out there who does want to become an actor – I can’t imagine why you would want to because it is an insane lifestyle with incredible highs and lows – but if you do want to be an actor my one piece of advice for you, is start before you are 22.  When you get to be 22, every single person who is in a college program studying acting, they all come flooding out to the market at the exact same time.  I started at 17 so I had a half decade before I met any of my real competition.  So I went up again the same 7 or 8 people for 5 years.  I was like “this is easy (laughs), booking this job, booking that job.”  And then in the summer of 1986 when I was 22, I’m lookign around and I say “hey there’s all the people … who’s that guy over there?”  By the end of the summer I was like “who are all these people?”  And it was all my competition getting out of college ready to make my life much more difficult.

M:  What are some of the early things in your life that influence and inspired you as a creative artist?

korovaZG:  A beautiful thing is that one of my biggest influences is [here at FanExpo], Malcolm McDowell.  It is hard to put what the impact that he had on me was, but I can just say that there is something about the opening shot of Clockwork Orange.  Even though he is great in If and he is great in A Lucky Man and great in all these other movies.  The way that his head is tilted and that he is completely still, and he is radiating this feral animal menace.  He is not even talking because it is voiceover.  He is just leering at the camera as the camera slowly pulls back and shows him with his droogs at the Korova Milk Bar.  That opening closeup pullback shot and the swagger that he does with that part, it just blew my mind  … as a 16 year old.  I know you’re probably saying why was I seeing Clockwork Orange when I was 16.

M: We all kind of saw it.

steve mcqueenZG:  “It was rated X in England! It’s banned you got to see it.”  I was like “I totally have to see it!”  He really blew my mind. Steve McQueen blew my mind.  Redford and Newman blew my mind.  I was really an early 70s kid.  I think that the big influences on people happen early than you think, when you are 6, 7, 8, ,9, 10 years old.  Those really formative years when you are watching popular culture and your brain is so raw and open to any kind of suggestion and experience and so you are just open to anything and so the influences that come in just hit you in an amazing way.  The thing about McQueen that I sensed, I didn’t think of myself as an actor when I was ten, there was something in what he did when he was not speaking.  He did not speak a lot of the time.  It was his non-verbal communication that made him intensely watchable and glue my eyes to him.  He and McDowell had the same thing where you couldn’t pull your eyes off of them if they were cast correctly.

M:  Was there pressure on you to pursue a more conventional career?

joe vsZG:  Oh my gosh, yeah!  It’s funny, a few years ago my mom turned to me and she said “Honey, when are you going to stop all of this?”  I said “Mom are you out of your mind?”  She said “You haven’t booked anything in a couple of years.”  I said “This is a marathon not a sprint.”  Actors have ups and downs and bad periods and you can count probably 20 people for whom they become successful and they have a non-stop rocket riding career that never ends.  Perfect example … Tom Hanks.  You think “Tom Hanks, two time Oscar winner, he hasn’t had a down period.”  Well tell that to him when he was making Turner and Hooch and Joe vs. The Volcano.  He fired his agent because he hated the movies that he was doing.  He got a new agent who promptly put him in Philadelphia and Forrest Gump.  Kind of a good switch and it worked for him.  I did a tv movie about thirty years ago called Surviving with Molly Ringwald and the woman that played my mom was Oscar Winner Ellen Burstyn.  If you look at Ellen Burstyn’s career, she went through a period where she said to me ” I didn’t work much here because I was transitioning into becoming a mom.”  She wins an Oscar and doesn’t work for a couple of years.  That is the business that you’re in and you have to realize that.  There are some people that are relentlessly hot and watchable and fantastic forever and god bless them, I have nothing against that, but if you are a working actor then you have ups and downs, hills and valleys and every other cliche that you can think of, but it tends not to be something that is as consistent as you the actor might like it to be.  But if you give up and you quit then you are left with nothing.  Look at what Quentin Tarantino has made a cottage industry out of every movie basically resuscitating some character actors robertcareer.  Michael Parks is doing cartwheels right now because of Quentin Tarantino.  Robert Forster is doing cartwheels.  John Travolta is obviously the greatest example where he resuscitate his career from almost nothing into $20 million per picture bankable star.  You can’t quit, you have to keep going, because if it is what you do and who you and what you love, then you have to keep going and going and going, and reinventing yourself and finding out new ways to express yourself and taking chances, getting scripts and saying “I don’t want to play that, I want to play this!”  Someone sends you Hatchet 3 and you say “I don’t want to play it like a sheriff, you say [in a heavy Texas accent] I want to play it like a sheriff.”  You make different choices in things and you find out different ways to connect with new audience all the time and you are constantly in a situation where you are reinventing yourself while you simultaneously believe in yourself.  If you don’t believe in yourself then no one is ever going to.  So you got to believe that you got the goods and you have to never quit.  If you look at the number of people that just carried on and had dead periods and then exploded in the later half of their life, particularly men, not trying to be sexist, but its just a tougher business for women.  If you are a man just hang in there and you will probably get another chance.  Just thought about Martin Landau.  Martin Landau, ten to fifteen years in the wilderness then he does Ed Wood … Oscar.  Then he is doing everything.  He is on Entourage, he’s hot, I run into him at the Playboy Mansion.  The guy’s doing movies in South Africa in 1987, and then he is collecting his Oscar nine years later.  Why?  Because he was an actor.  He never gave up.  Why should he give up he studied with Lee Strasberg and he gave James Dean acting lessons.

M:  He reminded me of that once.  It is a very good segue way into Nothing Lasts Forever because there is a line in that film which says “you will get what you want just not necessarily the way that you want it.”

ZG:  That’s very true!

M:  Let’s spend a moment with Nothing Lasts Forever, this was the Tom Schiller movie, he made the SNL short films.  This is a rare piece of film.

nothingZG:  It is very difficult to see, and the reason it is very difficult to see, there were all sorts of problems with rights clearances, because a lot of stock footage was used in it from other films.  So they have little pieces from Birth of a Nation and Intolerance and all these D.W. Griffith silent movies kind of woven into the fabric of the film.  They have been showing it on Turner Classic Movies.  it is a very very strange surreal story about my character whoever wants to become an artist at any price.  He comes to New York after spending some time in Europe, meets unbeknownst to him what he thinks of as a group of homeless people, but they turn out not to be homeless people but rather actually a secret society that lives underneath in the bowels of Manhattan and they are secret secret masters and I go down there and they say that if I can go to the moon and I spread light and love there that they will make me an artist as if by magic.  And I say “what are you talking about?  There is nothing on the moon.”  And Sam Jaffe, the late great Sam Jaffe who played Professor Barhardt in the Day The Earth Stood Still, he turns to me and says “you’d be surprised.”   It turns out that Bill Murray has started a supermarket mall on the moon and they take old people and fly them in a bus up to the moon and put a little chip in their head so that when they try to explain it to people that they change the word moon to Miami.  I fly up to the moon and hopefully I meet my soulmate there and learn to bring light and love and to the moon and escape from the evil clutches of Bill Murray.  Dan Aykroyd was in it as well, and Lauren Tom from Futurama plays my love interest.  I thought “this is it!  I’m working with Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd.”  The movie was so surreal and bizarre.  When it was cut together the studio executives were like “Huh?  This makes no sense at all.  It is like David Lynch meets Saturday Night Live.”  The rights to the footage was going to cost 1.5 million and the movie cost 2 million.  So they stuck it in this vault so no one has really seen it until this year.

M:  Another interesting thing is that Belushi was supposed to be in the film, and he passed away about six weeks before the filming began, so how much did that hang over the production?

ZG:  He was supposed to be the lead homeless person in it, there’s a character in it called Hugo and he was supposed to be the lead homeless guy who leads me down into what’s called the phenomenon that is New York City as Sam Jeffrey, and introduces me to my spiritual master, so like I said, its a very peculiar film.  He passed away on March 6 of 1982, and the filming started on April 15, so he missed it by about 6 weeks and there was a definite pall over the movie because he was a very very well loved person amongst those people.  He was one of Tom Schiller’s best friends, he was obviously Dan Aykroyd’s best friend and great friends with Bill Murray too.  It was terrible because Tom was showing me pictures of them on vacation earlier that year.  So it was very brutal, and everyone just put on their happy face and tried to smile and make a comedy in spite of it and its really kind of fascinating when you see the film that you can’t tell.  We just toughed it out.  You can’t tell that there is this horrible sadness hanging over it.  It was a huge bummer for me because I was 18 and I was so happy and I was like “Hey everyone let’s have fun!”  Everyone’s like “we’re sad, we lost our friend.”  It was very sad.

nothingM:  What do you think that Schiller was trying to say with the film?

ZG:  I don’t really know exactly what he was trying to say in it.  There are a lot of experiences in my career where people are like “What’s this movie about?”  and I’m like “Dude I’m in it, I have no idea, not the foggiest idea.”  I think that basically what he was trying to say is that it is about people’s desire to be an artist and in order if you really want to be an artist in today’s society – it’s almost like [artist] is a dirty word –  you have to be relentless and you have to just really really want it from the depth of your heart if you are going to do something which is financially difficult.  It is hard to support yourself today if you are a painter, or a poet or a writer or a sculptor or a photographer.   It’s kind of hard to do.

M:  So, Nothing Lasts Forever gets put away on a shelf and then Gremlins rolls along.

ZG:  I would have probably been distraught, had I known it was going to be shelved, but I got Gremlins about three or four months before I found out that it wasn’t coming out.  So at that point I was really feeling on a roll, doing an SNL movie then doing a Spielberg movie.  Really?  Again I was like “This is easy! This is going to be happening forever!”  And then right after that Neil Simon cast me in a play on Broadway, replacing Matthew Broderick, so I was like “this is unbelievably easy!”  But again it is all when you are going up against limited competition that it is a lot easier.  If I could run a sprint and not have Usain Bolt in it, I would probably win a lot of the sprints, but eventually you have to run against Usain Bolt and he is going to beat you.  A lot of it was the competition.  But anyway, what was it about Gremlins specifically?

M:  Let’s start with the casting process. The legend is that you were seen with Phoebe, you sort had your head on Phoebe Cates’ shoulder, and see Spielberg saw this and said “Look it!  These two are in love, they’re the ones!”

zachZG:  That’s close to it.  I don’t believe that he said “these two are in love.”  I believe that he looked at us and said “He’s totally in love with her!”  Which was a much more accurate observation.  In fairness, I recently did an interview which I thought was the same interview that I have done over the last thirty years where people ask me the basic Gremlins questions.  I did it for a publication called the Daily Mail in London, what I said was the truth, which was that I thought that she was very beautiful, as did the rest of the nation that I lived in, thought that she was really great looking, and that I thought that she was really sweet and that I had a crush on her.  The headline was like “Galligan Totally In Live With His Co-Star!”  “I was like whoah, we are talking about degrees here.”  Saying that you have a crush on someone is not the same as saying that you are in love with them.  It’s nuance there Daily Mail.

M:  Every young man who saw himself as Billy Peltzer loved Phoebe Cates and had a crush on her.

ZG:  One of the great things about being an actor, over thirty four years of being an actor, I have met, without question, some of the most astoundingly beautiful women on the planet.  Like just you just don’t know what to say sometimes.  Even if you have seen a tonne of them, you walk in the door and someone says “This is Shante!” and you are like “Whoah!”  They are like bending time in the room.  Reality is warping as you walk in the room, that is how attractive they are.  It is one of the perks of the business, meeting attractive people.  Of course, one of the things that you realize is that a lot of times that it is about a lot more than simply being physically attractive too.  So you meet some of the physically attractive people, and maybe they’re not so nice.    And then you meet some of the less physically attractive people, and maybe they are really nice and great people and so you tend to value them a little bit more than just the great looking people.

phoebeThe thing that was devastating about Phoebe is that she is the nicest person and she really doesn’t think that she is all that beautiful, and she never wears makeup, and throws her hair back in a ponytail, and she wears a baseball shirt.  And she is really cute, and she wears Reeboks.  And I was like “What are those?” “Reeboks”  “What are those I have never heard of them?”  Everything that she had was new and cutting edge and cool and she was sophisticated.  And she hung out with Warhol.  And she was on the cover of Interview magazine and the cover of Seventeen, and I was like this “gu-hu-guh-wol-gu-hu-guh-hol”  And there she was, she was the nicest person.  She was so kind to me.  I was from Manhattan, I didn’t have my driver’s license, couldn’t drive.  Now I am in Los Angeles for the first time.  If you have ever been to Los Angeles it is like someone took New York and squashed it flat, it is just enormous.  Everything is two stories, and you have to drive miles and miles to get anywhere and I couldn’t drive.  She’s like “That’s ok,” bouncy and chewing gum “I will pick you up in my Toyota.”  She would pick me up and she would take me places and she was super nice.  She was living with her boyfriend at the time, she was 19, her boyfriend was 30.  I was 19 also.  So I was like “I’ve got a shot”  “My boyfriend’s 30”  “I’ve got no shot”.

Her husband is 15 years older than her.  She has always been more sophisticated than her age lets on.  When she was 20 she essentially 35.  She grew up in Manhattan and she was a model and she did the whole scene thing while I was still a knucklehead in high school.  So she was miles ahead of me in terms of sophistication and knowledge and people skills and everything skills.  But the great thing about it was that she was never snobby about it or condescending about it.  She was always just a really nice person who seemed to be grateful for everything that was coming her way and she would just show up at 9 o’clock in the morning and I would look like hell even though I was 19 years old and she would look like perfection.  It was just ridiculous.

So we have the combination of someone who is an incredibly nice person, and nice to you, and really attractive.  It is a pretty devastating combination. I definitely had a crush on her, but apparently no more than anyone else who was on the cast and crew of the shoot.  I have spoken to people since and they were always like “Oh my God, Phoebe!”  If you had a pulse you had a crush on Phoebe.

M:  In the first Gremlins, you are this novice actor and having to focus so much as to what you are doing as an actor, but you also frequently have Gizmo with you and you’re doing all these hand-offs to crew members and pulling the old switcheroo, and you have all these other things to keep in mind and all these puppeteers around you, just out of the frame, that you also have to keep in mind as you are working.  It is a much larger dimension of the work.  How much harder is that or did it become natural?

gizZG:  People ask me all the time “Was it hard to work with Gizmo?’  To me people don’t stop and think about the suspension of disbelief that you need in general.  For example, it is no more difficult working with Gizmo – because the animatronic thing is actually in my hand, and it is moving exactly like you see it in the movie –  so the only difference between it and a real pet is that instead of making of making cute Howie Mandel inspired noises like what eventually happen in the movie, it kind of went like “Gzzt, gzzt, gzzt, gzzt, gzzt.”  It is a lot easier to pretend that this is a pet sitting in my hand than it is to pretend that some actress that I met ten minutes ago is my wife.  As a film actor you make all of those imaginative leaps.  You take all of them for granted.  The creature is real, that person is not your brother, now he’s your brother.  This [other] person is your wife.  Ellen Burstyn, who I loved in The Exorcist, now she’s my mom!  Those things are more difficult.  Having this amazing animatronic thing strapped to me and acting in tandem with all of these special effects people, and looking like an amazing illusion – it is a phenomenal illusion for its time – it stands up reasonably well even today.  It wasn’t difficult.  The only that was difficult was that I was wired and had wires all up and down my body underneath my clothing, you can’t really see them in the film which is good, because they would be distracting if you could.  But I could feel them because the wires had little slats all along them and when they would pull on the joystick wires the slats would close, and they would close on my skin.   So you were basically getting pinched anywhere from your ankle to your armpit and anywhere in between at any moment depending on which joystick they pulled.  You had to act and do that performance at the same time that ten little gnomes are pinching various parts of your body.  It was strange but after the first few takes you just go “OK I get it, I am just going to get pinched a lot, and I have to ignore.”  It is no different than ignoring police sirens on the streets of New York when you are trying to do lines, or people shouting people at you when you are trying to block them out when you are shooting outdoors or simply trying to ignore the plane that is flying over your head ruining your take as you’re crying for the fourth take in a row.

M:  What is your story for Gremlins 3?

gremZG:  They only really have a couple of ways that they can go.  They can do one where I am older and I am the dad and I am a single parent – because Phoebe quit twenty years ago, and the odds of her doing another one are probably next to nil – I have a cute 14 year old girl, I have a daughter and let her have fun with the Gizmo this time, and things go wrong and we have Gremlins 3 that way.  What I think would be the best solution to the situation is that you have another Mogwai – let’s make it a female Mogwai – another family that we haven’t met before stumbles upon it, in some different way, it doesn’t have to be a Chinese junk store this time, it could be … who knows what?  They could find it on eBay.  How about that?  They could find it in an exotic pet store, they stumble on it.  They break the rules really quickly, because they don’t know the rules about it.    One of the kids goes online and does google searches and reads about something that happened in Kingston Falls in 1984, that is extremely similar, and possibly on conspiracies websites something that happened in 1990 in New York but that the New York Police Department now says was now a gas malfunction in 101 Park Avenue.  They are certainly not going to admit that Gremlins almost took over New York and took over Clamp Tower.  She notices that in both stories that somehow this William Peltzer is involved in both altercations, and so she goes on Whitepages.com and does a search for the person’s criminal record and contacts me and the Gizzer and like Max von Sydow in the Exorcist we pull up in shrouded taxi in the middle of the night and they answer the door and I am in the shadows, and I step forward and I say [Max von Sydow voice] “My name is Peltzer, Villiam Peltzer” and I come in like the Exorcist and I help save the day as it is rapidly spinning out of control.  Maybe it is in London, maybe it is in Berlin, maybe it is in Tokyo, who knows?  Maybe it is some other part of the world.  They threaten to get out and destroy everything.  Maybe there is a third change that we never knew about?  They go from Mogwai to gremlins to something else?  That would be interesting.  Maybe they all group together and become one giant gremlin, like a fractal.  They just pile all together.  A godzilla like gremlin.  At the end you have to have Gizmo and the girl Mogwai get together in a cage and they fall in love.  That would be Gremlins 3.

M:  Let’s kickstart that!  I would like to go to the audience now.

Question From the Floor:  Is Gremlins a summer or a Christmas film?

ghostZG:  It has morphed into a Christmas film.  I started out as a summer blockbuster, it was released the same day in America as Ghostbusters.  June 8, 1984,  How’s that for a one-two punch at your cineplex?  We all thought of it as a summer movie.  And people would be like “How come you didn’t release it at Christmas?”  That’s the best thing, in June, you are dying for Christmas because it is so far away.  At Christmas when it comes out at Christmas, your’re like “I am so Christmas-ed out, can we move on?”  It was kind of refreshing doing the winter thing in the summer.  Now there are all sorts of people that don’t remember that because it was 31 years ago, and now people just encounter it on television in December.  And so it feels exactly like a Christmas movie for them, so now for them, the same way that Die Hard is now a Christmas movie, that is another summer movie that came out in July or August that now people think of as a Christmas movie because it has a Christmas theme.  I would say that it is both, it is a summer movie and it is a Christmas movie.  It is basically like Razzles, it is a candy and it is a gum.

QFF:  Are there any developments for Gremlins 3?

hanZG:  So here is the good news, well it depends on your attitude.  It will never be remade.  It is not going to be Kingston Falls again with someone else playing Billy Peltzer and some body else playing Phoebe’s part.  What Christopher Columbus said was that the first film was very near and dear to his heart, and was never going to be remade, and he slipped and referred to it not as a Gremlins reboot but as a Gremlins sequel.  So I thought was king of a telling slip.  The other thing which he said is was is that he has really been looking at J.J. Abrams work, specifically in the Star Trek series and now in the Star Wars series, and this interview happened the day after the first Star Wars trailer came out, the one that had had Han Solo and Chewie in it that we all looked at and went [in young child’s voice] “Oh my god!  It’s Chewie, I love him so much” Didn’t we all think that?  We can wait to see this movie.  He claims that he had the same reaction, and he thought to himself that it is such a powerful pull, the nostalgia pull is so powerful.  And he said that it was what he wanted to do with the new Gremlins film.  And then the person asked him “So are there going to be new characters in the Gremlins film?”  And this was very interesting he said “There are going to be some new characters.”  That phrasing, I can’t say too much, it’s all very hush-hush.  If you went to McDonalds and they said that there are going to be some new burgers, you can expect that there are going to some of the old burgers there.  All I am just wondering is, if you look at the Gremlins franchise, who do you suppose the Han Solo and Chewbacca are?  [holds up a Gizmo doll].

Fan Expo Interviews: Karli Woods

Fan Expo Toronto will be taking place this year between September 3rd and 6th, and Graphic Policy had the opportunity to talk with a few of their featured guests before the beginning of the convention.  Karli Woods will be attending the convention not only as a featured guest, a seminar presenter but also as a cosplayer.  She joined us to talk to us about what to expect.

Graphic Policy:  I think that a lot of people underestimate cosplay, thinking that cosplayers just pull on premade costumes.  Obviously it is not the case, as the costumes are usually self-fabricated by the dedicated cosplayers.  What is the creative process that you go through for costume design?  And how do you decide on a concept or theme?

gg_peach4Karli Woods:  Once I have decided on a new character to cosplay I draw up a quick sketch of the costume. I then go through my materials and see if there is anything left over I can use. Then I draft the pattern and figure out exact measurements and what fabrics, materials etc. I need to buy. Then I come home and sew! I usually give myself a month or so to complete a costume, just because I am so busy with keeping up to date with social media and filming for my YouTube Channel. I like to plan out a rough schedule of when I am going to start certain pieces, and have them finished by. It definitely helps to book a photo-shoot for the costume in advance. That way you have a deadline to work towards.

GP:  What skills do you consider to be most your most useful when creating a costume?

KW:  I have a couple really good friends who are super talented make-up artists, so I feel like they have definitely rubbed off on me a bit. I really do enjoy the hair and make-up process of cosplaying, so I have been filming quite a few make-up tutorials of my existing cosplays for my YouTube channel. It honestly makes such a difference, and completes the costume. Besides the hair and make-up I also really enjoy creating the accessories and weapons for costumes.

GP:  Are there any costumes that you made in the past that were very labor intensive but didn’t get noticed as much as you might have liked?

VelmaKW:  My battle armour Princess Peach cosplay was all made out of worbla and it was extremely labor intensive. This was only my second time working with the material. I want to re-do it when I get a chance now that I am more familiar with worbla.

GP:  Who do you think is a character that could catch on as a common cosplay costume?

KW:  It really just depends on the time and what’s popular. Elsa was super popular last year after Frozen came out, and I think we are going to see a lot more Harley Quinn cosplays this year because of Suicide Squad.

GP:  How come there are more Velma cosplayers than Daphne cosplayers?

KW:  I think people just are drawn to us nerds! Smart is sexy!

GP:  Are there any noteworthy people that you have met that you never thought you would have the chance to?

KW:  I have had some amazing opportunities to interview some incredibly talented people. A few that stand out to me are Stan Lee, Giancarlo Esposito, and Max Brooks.

IMG_0911-Edit8GP:  If you had to be trapped on a desert island with another cosplayer who would you choose?

KW:  Nicole Marie Jean because she would keep light of the situation and entertain me.

GP:  Tell us a about your featured costume for Fan Expo 2015.  It is Karli plus Harley to create Karli Quinn?

KW:  Yes that is correct. I like to name all of my costumes, and this one was very fitting. I am excited to wear this cosplay as I am really happy with the way it turned out. I love all the details I put into it!

GP:  What do you look forward to most at Toronto’s Fan Expo?

KW:  I love the FanExpo team! Toronto is also my hometown, so I am excited to see all my fellow Canadians.

Fan Expo Interviews: Robert Bailey

Fan Expo Toronto will be taking place this year between September 3rd and 6th, and Graphic Policy had the opportunity to talk with a few of their featured guests before the beginning of the convention.  Robert Bailey has had an amazing career in the art world, one which has taken him from oil paintings from the Second World War, to superheroes and Star Wars.  He joined us to talk about his career and what you can expect to see from his work.

Graphic Policy:  You have recently moved away from oil panting to pencil to do your art.  Do you find that it changes your approach to art, in what you choose to depict? Are there characters that better fit in one and not the other?
Robert Bailey:  I retired from oil painting about four years ago, due to a shift away from World War II subjects, and  because of market changes. I find pencil to be of course much faster and fluid. Large oil paintings can take up to a month, and a $25,000 painting is tough to sell. So the pencil drawings fit most budgets, being smaller and much quicker to do.
bailey004GP:  Are there any characters that after having worked on them, changed your appreciation of them?
RB:  The character I appreciate most from drawing her over and over again is Natalie Portman. I never tire of depicting her face in pencil. I would crawl ten miles over broken glass, just to kiss her feet.
GP:  Your favorite characters from Star Wars are C3P0 and Yoda.  What is it about these characters that are special for you?
RB:  C3PO and Yoda are opposites to depict. One being mechanical and the other living flesh. C3PO is very funny, and always amuses me when I am drawing him. Yoda is very quick and easy for me to draw, and he has many facial expressions. Fans love him, and he is the number one seller.
GP:  Do you have a favorite Star Wars movie?
bailey001RB:  My favorite Star Wars movie is The Empire Strikes Back. The Hoth battle scene really presses my buttons. Love it.
GP:  What is your impression of the next wave of Star Wars movies?
RB:  The next wave of Star Wars movies are very promising indeed, and I anticipate plenty of action. But of course this series is now fan driven, and they will decide if they are successful or not. But Disney appear to know what the fans want, and they will deliver.
GP:  The depiction of superheroes can be quite different from other art.  Does working with Marvel change your approach to the rest of your artwork?
bailey003RB:  Marvel….I don’t think that depicting their characters has changed my overall outlook on the other work I have done. Generally speaking, Avengers take longer to draw, because they are all human and faces and bodies slow me down, so three or four in one scene takes a while. Spiderman is the hardest to do….all that webbing. It can be discouraging.
GP:  The Marvel Cinematic Universe has changed both movies and comics.  Do you think that it is now as iconic for movie fans as Star Wars or Indiana Jones?
RB:  The Marvel Cinematic Universe…..well, there are enthusiastic fans of that, and many are Star Wars fans, too. But from what I have observed so far, both on the screen and with fans, is that Star Wars still rules. Of course, that could change. We will have to wait and see. Indiana Jones….well, it’s like Sean Connery is the original James Bond and Christopher Reeves is the original (well, almost original) Superman. I feel that subsequent actors playing an iconic character are battling uphill. Newer generations of fans are more accepting, but the old school prefer the original actors. That is what I have heard from fans.

Fan Expo Interviews: Craig Yeung

Fan Expo Toronto will be taking place this year between September 3rd and 6th, and Graphic Policy had the opportunity to talk with a few of their featured guests before the beginning of the convention.  Craig Yeung joined us to talk about his accomplishments in the medium and who he might like to draw one day.
Graphic Policy:  Who are some of the comic artists of the past that inspired you and your artwork?
yeung003Craig Yeung:  Am I limited to comic artists? haha. I derive a lot of influence from all over from Bouguereau to Bob Peak, Terada to Robert Mcginnis, Mucha to Coby Whitmore. I’m kinda all over the place. In terms of comic art, I guess I was initially influenced by the Image founders, that’s kinda the era that I grew up with. Artists like Jim Lee, Silvestri, Turner, but nowadays I like artists like Alex Raymond who did strips and had to draw without the benefit of color. There’s also a slew of incredible artists  working today that constantly raise the bar.
GP:  Are there any particular series, characters or stories that you have worked on that have been especially memorable?
CY:  Runaways will always be dear to my heart. We had an amazing creative team and management believed in the project from the get go. It was one of those few opportunities where they let a new title grow it’s own following. You don’t see that often  with the big two.
GP:  You have worked on a lot of big name projects, but is there one that no one knows about that you think deserves more praise?
yeung001CY:  There’s a couple projects I’ve done recently that I’m particularly proud of. One is an anthology of short stories “Girls Night Out”, written by Amy Chu (Soon to be writing Poison Ivy League for DC and another project for Aftershock Comics) and colored by Juri Hayasaka-Chinchilla. It’s a slice of life story that revolves around an elderly woman with dementia. It’s a more down to earth story and relies on those quiet moments. Also adapted by Amy and colored by Laura Martin, I just finished a story for the Baltimore Museum of Art. It documents the life of Princess Miao Shan and presented by the Asian Art Gallery in the museum as an interactive comic to supplement the information about some of their artifacts displayed. It’s kinda cool seeing comics used as a teaching tool.
GP:  Among your recent works is the comic version of the Arrow television series.  Is it easier to draw when you have real life people to base your illustrations from?
CY:  For the Arrow series, since I was inking it, the heavy lifting was done by Joe Bennett. I did occassionally refer back to character screen shots, but Joe did an awesome job capturing much of the likeness. I personally find it easier to keep consistency with the work if I have real people to base off of.
GP:  When you draw a certain group of characters on a regular basis, do you find that you start to like certain characters more or to get an affinity for them?
yeung002CY:  I think this is definitely the case, although I think it comes down to how the character is built through the scripts that give you that affinity. For example, some of my favorites is Molly from Runaways and Felicity from Arrow.
GP:  Aside from characters is there a specific genre that you prefer?  Fantasy or sci-fi?  Post apocalyptic or dystopian?
CY:  I like them all, although anything sci-fi tends to be more intense when drawing because of all the tech. I’ve also been a huge sci-fi fan over the years, I think Syd Mead had a big influence on that. However, it’s difficult to find a good sci-fi story these days. I think it’s because we have such amazing special effects today, we expect so much more.
GP:  Are there any characters that you would like to get a chance to draw?  Or maybe one that you have worked on already and would to get more opportunity to draw?
CY:  I think maybe on a main Spiderman title. I’ve worked on a few offshoots before ( Marvel Age Spidermans), but I grew up reading Amazing Spiderman and Peter parker, the spectacular spiderman so I think it’d be cool to work on one of the main flagship titles.

Fan Expo Interviews: Lee Scion

Fan Expo Toronto will be taking place this year between September 3rd and 6th, and Graphic Policy had the opportunity to talk with a few of their featured guests before the beginning of the convention.  We got to talk to Lee Scion, an outstanding cosplayer who is one of the featured cosplayers at the event.  She will be showcasing new costumes as well as conducting seminars on cosplay.

Graphic Policy:  Can you tell us what your first costume was?  And how did it turn out?

lee003Lee Scion:  Though I had made myself Halloween costumes before, my first actual cosplay was Lulu from Final Fantasy X. It was hands down the largest project I had tackled at that point. I wasn’t sure how much time I actually needed, and truthfully I was really bad for procrastinating on actual construction because I grossly underestimated how long I would need.  Because of that some of the details I wanted to include (such as hand embroidered trim) had to be scrapped. I did however manage to completely hand make my wig, get the dress done and make my first corset. All in all I am proud of what I did for that costume with the time and skill set I had back then. However, I would one day like to completely redo the costume.

GP:  What skills do you consider to be most your most useful when creating a costume?

LS:  I am luckily very good with pattern drafting and sewing, so anything that is a fabric garment I am generally very apt at making. This comes in super handy as it is almost impossible to find suitable patterns for most costumes. I love projects that are sewing heavy and very structured pieces such as corsets and properly tailored coats, so having strong sewing skills makes those type of projects a lot easier!

GP:  Does being a cosplayer give you a different perspective on what life would be like for a superhero?

LS:  That is a tough one to answer, I am not sure I would say it does. On some level I can say I understand what it’s like to put on a costume and run around being someone I’m not in everyday life, however when it comes down to it I don’t have superpowers, I don’t change the world, and no one is trying to kill me (that I know of). I’m just me.. in a costume.

lee005GP:  Part of the illusion of cosplay is not only the costume but the setting.  If you could choose any real world setting for a photo shoot, where would you go and which character would you choose?

LS:  The place I think I would be most interested in shooting, could I do a photoshoot anywhere on earth, would be the Five Flower Lake in the Jiuzhaigou Valley nature reserve in Sichuan, China. The lake itself is shallow and perfectly clear with dozens of ancient trees sitting just below the surface. It has a very unearthly feel to it and one of my dream photoshoots would be recreating Aerith’s death scene from Final Fantasy VII in a lake such as Five Flower. Jiuzhaigou Valley is however a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a Biosphere Reserve, so interacting with the lakes and other nature within the park is strictly prohibited. Meaning this is a dream photoshoot I know will never happen.

GP:  One of the biggest developments for comics in recent years is the resurgence of comic book movies.  Does having such lifelike looking characters on the big screen force cosplayers to modify their approach?

LS:  I wouldn’t say movie versions of characters force cosplayers to modify their approach. However, they do offer another version of their favourite characters they can create. Comic book characters in particular tend to have many different outfits giving cosplayers a wide variety of options for exactly what they wish to do. I always appreciate having the option of recreating the very detailed costume designed for comic book movies, but also having the option of creating something much more graphic and closer to the comic artwork.

When you are creating a garment that someone else has actually made you can look and see exactly how it was made: where the seams are, what materials they chose, how pieces attach. When you create something based solely on a drawing however you are often tasked with figuring out how things have to go together, as most comic book artists don’t have to consider how, or even if, their clothes will work in the real world. I find this gives artwork inspired costume a much more personalised feel than those of direct garment recreations.

lee004GP:  Crossplay is catching on quite a bit as well, but it is probably more accepting for the girls than the guys.  Any advice for the guys dressing up as their favorite female character?

LS:  My advice for men who want to crossplay as their favourite female characters is do what makes you happy! Cosplay should never be for anyone but yourself, so you shouldn’t worry about what other people think. There is always going to be someone who dislikes what you are doing, no matter how perfect you are, so just do what makes you happy!

Some crossplayers like to go all out, shave their legs, contour their faces to look more feminine and pad out their bodies to make a more womanly shape. There are many amazing tutorials out there for how to achieve this, and if you delve into the drag community you can find endless information and tips. That being said, I have also seen many amazing male crossplayers who have simply made their favourite characters costume and worn it as they are. One of the best male crossplays I have ever seen was a man dressed as Sailor Moon at Fan Expo who had a full beard and visible chest and leg hair.

GP:  What should we expect to see from you in Toronto?  Any special plans?

LS:  My costume plans are a little up in the air for Fan Expo Canada. However, I will be running six panels over the weekend ranging from wig working to armour making. There are several costumes I would like to make, but my panel prep comes first. The only costume I can say for sure will make an appearance is a classic Jem costume from Jem and the Holograms. It will be truly, truly, truly outrageous!

All photos are copyrighted to Lee Scion

Fan Expo Interviews: Ronn Sutton

Fan Expo Toronto will be taking place this year between September 3rd and 6th, and Graphic Policy had the opportunity to talk with a few of their featured guests before the beginning of the convention.  Up first was Ronn Sutton, an accomplished illustrator known for his work in noirish stories and sci-fi.  We got a chance to talk with him about his career.

smPg3printedGraphic Policy:  One of the characters which you have most worked on is Honey West.  What are the main challenges of working in the crime noir genre in terms of the design?

Ronn Sutton:  Honey West was a female detective that appeared in nearly a dozen extremely popular pocketbook novels throughout the 1960s. The concept was that Honey’s father was a Private Investigator who was killed during one of his cases. His daughter solved her father’s murder and then took over the detective agency. So the Honey West books, a short-lived TV series, and the comics are all set in the 1960s. This gave me a wonderful opportunity to recreate the time period in my artwork with the clothing, hair styles, cars, furniture, etc of that era. I love researching and drawing comics that are drawn in a specific time period because it gives you a chance to recreate an authentic world on your pages.

But the character I worked on the longest was Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. Over a nine year period I drew nearly 50 Elvira stories for Claypool Comics. That’s about 800 pages I drew for the Elvira, Misstress of the Dark series. Many scripted by my partner Janet L. Hetherington.

GP:  On the same subject what makes for a great femme fatale and how do you give this quality to Honey West?

RS:  I was very concerned with making Honey look like she lived in that era. So I showed off the clothes of the period by having Honey wear as many as six different outfits in one comic, using the styles of the times: pencil skirts, fur pillbox hats, gaucho jackets and lots of leopard prints, etc. I was trying to capture the essence of mid-60s female movie stars like Jayne Mansfield and Marilyn Monroe. There’s something indefinable about the way those women stood, walked, and dressed with a real earthiness. I tried to analyze what it was and I think I caught much of it. For the last two HW stories I drew I brought in a model to help me and had her pose.

C5DraculasGuestGP:  Switching subjects, how do you feel about the use of horror in comics?  Some might say that it is not the best medium for the genre as it is harder to capture the same tension.  How can you compensate for it?

RS:  I’ve drawn a couple hundred comics, probably the largest portion of them were horror comics. When it comes to drawing macabre comics, its all about the atmosphere; choosing what to show and what not to show. Drawing in a lot of deep shadows and not revealing more than you have to. I have a 14 page adaptation of Bram Stoker’s short story “Dracula’s Guest” coming out in the next month or two in the 144 page horror anthology called Graphic Classics Volume 26: Vampire Classics. I rendered the artwork in full-colour on the actual artboards using markers, dyes, and colour pencils. It required a very limited palette to set a constant mood through out the strip. For the most part in the story, Dracula isn’t really seen. He’s more of a presence. So I had to concoct clever way to visually have him there and not there at the same time.

GP:  Do you think that horror relies too much on a single concept instead of reinventing itself?  For instance movie horror tends to recycle ideas in numerous sequels while comic book horror tends to be more original?

RS:  I think the only limits to horror comics and illustration rest with the person creating it. Horror can be claustrophobic or it can be otherworldly. It can invoke a single horrible villian or even hordes of demons. Comics have a long history of turning monsters into heroes. Horror comics are wonderful to draw because you can let your imagination run wild with pencil & paper creating vistas and creatures that even could be unconvincing in film, as well as being costly and difficult to manufacture.

GP:  You have also had the opportunity to work on some characters such as Sherlock Homes and the Phantom.  Both of these characters have managed to survive to the modern day with some popularity.  What do you think that it takes for some characters to achieve this same level of notoriety?

RS:  I think a character like Sherlock Holmes has been around for so long, and been adapted, re-invented and parodied so many times that everybody is familiar with the basic character, while few have actually read the original books (I have!). What is neat about The Phantom is the costume has been handed down from father to son for 21 generations creating the illusion that its been one single long-lived person for hundreds of years. Hence the reference to him as “The Ghost Who Walks”. I think part of  the appeal of both characters is they’ve both been around for a very long time; both have distinctive looks, and both are just regular people who rely on superior intellect and physical prowess (without any sort of “super” powers).

ronn001GP:  One of your projects was Lucifer’s Sword which involved a story focused on a motorcyle gang.  How hard is it to draw a convincing motorcycle?

RS:  I think the important thing to know about Lucifers Sword M.C.: Life & Death In An Outlaw Motorcycle Club is that it was scripted by Phil Cross, who has been an active member of the Hells Angels for nearly 50 years. The 96 page graphic novel was a slightly fictionalized autobiography. The Lucifers Sword graphic novel was set in the late 1960s in San Jose, California area, so in my drawings I was striving to accurately portray the clothes, buildings, cars and, obviously, motorcycles of the time.

When it came to drawing all the Harley Davidson motorcycles, my editor was an enormous help in identifying and supplying me with photo-reference of those rigid-frame bikes. As well, each bike had to be drawn unique to its owner since those motorcycles were all chopped and customized. So no two were alike.  So, on top of all this I was watching all the old Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, Jack Nicholson, etc biker films that were so popular 45 years ago (like Hells Angels On Wheels, Angels Die Hard, etc). I collected up all sorts of biker books and magazines including biker tattoo magazines in an attempt to just get everything right.

I’m VERY happy that the biker community has embraced and praised Lucifers Sword M.C.: Life & Death In An Outlaw Motorcycle Club, and particularly that they cited in their reviews the accuracy in the drawing of the choppers. You can hear a CBC radio interview between Hells Angel Phil Cross and myself discussing our graphic novel here.

smColorSciFiGirlGP:  Are there any genres which you would life to get some more exposure in?

RS:  I LOVE drawing science-fiction strips. As opposed to historical stories I’ve drawn that require so much accurate visual reference research, with sci-fi you get to make up EVERYTHING! Which is both fun and a daunting task. So many of the artists that I admired as I was growing up drew some wonderful sci-fi comics.

I have a “side-project”, that I work on in between more pressing comic assignments, which is a graphic novel adaptation of The Citadel of Lost Ships. It was written by Leigh Brackett and originally published in  Planet Stories, in the 1930s. I work on it at my own pace and while I want it to be a ripping traditional heroic adventure, the designs of the costumes, starships and alien cities range from the type found in old time pulp magazine illustrations to futuristic hi-tech. So its a wild amalgam of styles. It will be a long time yet before I’m done, but it will be enormous fun to read I hope. You can watch for news update about this project, and others, on my website.

Nerd Block Gives us More Star Wars #1 in February

Nerd Block has one more special item for us in the February Classic Block; an exclusive Nerd Block/ Fan Expo variant cover issue of Star Wars #1! This is a bonus item in the block! If you missed it from other sources, this is your chance to get it! This is something you won’t want to miss!

This is the second Star Wars #1 comic to appear in a “geek box.” Last month rival Loot Crate featured a different Star Wars #1 variant, while Nerd Block had a variant for Star Trek/Planet of the Apes #1.

Subscriptions close at 11:59 pm EST on the 15th!

nerd block fan expo star wars

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site.

Zenescope’s 2014 Age of Darkness Tour

zenescopeZenescope Entertainment has announced its tour dates for the 2014 Age of Darkness TourAge of Darkness encompasses their Grimm Fairy Tales series which features classic characters and locales (Wonderland, Neverland, Oz, Robyn Hood, Red Riding Hood, Van Helsing, Captain Hook, the Dark Queen, etc) that have all been operating in their own titles. Age of Darkness books bring these characters together in a modern setting for a story that will have an impact the Zenescope titles across the board. The culmination will be in Grimm Fairy Tales #100. Let the countdown begin!

Wizard World Portland – Portland, OR – January 24th-26th
Amazing Arizona Comic Con – Phoenix, AZ – January 24th-26th
Wizard World New Orleans – New Orleans, LA – February 7th-9th
Wizard World Sacramento – Sacramento, CA – March 7th-9th
London Super Comic Con – London, England – March 15th-16th
Mega Con – Orlando, FL -March 21st-23rd
Emerald City Comic Con – Seattle, WA – March 28th -30th
Wizard World Louisville – Louisville, KY – March 28th-30th
Wizard World St. Louis- ST, Louis, MO – April 4th-6th
Marble City Comic Con – Knoxville, TN – April 11th-13th
Salt Lake Comic Con – Salt Lake City, UT – April 17th-19th
WonderCon – Anaheim, CA – April 18th-20th
C2E2 – Chicago, IL – April 25th-27th
Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo – Calgary, AB – April 24th-27th
Wizard World Minneapolis – Minneapolis, MN – May 2nd-4th
Motor City Comic Con – Farmington Hills, MI – May 16th-18th
Indiana Pop Con – Indianapolis, IN – May 30th-June 1st
Wizard World Atlanta – Atlanta, GA – May 30th- June 1st
Phoenix Comic Con – Phoenix, AZ – June 5th-8th
Denver Comic Con – Denver, CO – June 13th-15th
Wizard World Philly – Philadelphia, PA – June 19th-22nd
Florida Super Con – Miami, FL – July 3rd-6th
San Diego Comic Con – San Diego, CA – July 23rd-27th
Boston Comic Con – Boston, MA – August 8th-10th
Wizard World Chicago – Chicago, IL – August 21st-24th
Fan Expo – Toronto, ON – August 28th-31st
Dragon Con – Atlanta, GA – August 29th-Sept. 1st
Wizard World Richmond – Richmond, VA – September 12th-14th
Cincy Comic Expo – Cincinnati, OH – September 19th-21st
Pittsburgh Comic Con – Pittsburg, PA – September 26th-28th
Wizard World Nashville – Nashville, TN – September 26th-28th
Alamo City Comic Con – San Antonio, TX – September 26th-28th
Wizard World Austin – Austin, TX – October 2nd – 4th
New York Comic Con – New York, NY – October 9th-12th
Wizard World Ohio – Cincinnati, OH – October 31st-November 2nd
Comikaze – Los Angeles, CA – October 31st- November 2nd
Wizard World Tulsa – Tulsa, OK – November 7th-9th
Wizard World Reno – Reno, NV – November 21st -23rd

The company will be exhibiting several exclusives, many artist signings and plenty of giveaways and coupons. The company also screens the Grimm Fairy Tales Animated pilot and holds a panel at many of these conventions.

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