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NYCC 2017 Day One: Tara Strong, Michael Rooker, Harmonquest

Michael Rooker New York Comic Con 2017

New York Comic Con 2017 Day One Writeup. Greetings and welcome to my fourth year of New York Comic Con coverage for FilmBook! I have now officially served a full presidential term reporting on the geeky and the obscure so that you may live vicariously through my words.

This year’s contents at NYCC are something of a wild card compared to previous years. This thing gets bigger every year, and every year more and more of the major panels have moved offsite to locations like the Hammerstein Ballroom or Madison Square Garden. That creates a challenge in trying to cover everything at the con, because quite simply, you can’t. But, as always, I’ll do my best to get to as much as possible.

So with that all out of the way, here’s what happened on Day One of New York Comic Con!

Tara Strong Spotlight

I’ve been something of a voice acting geek for as long as I can remember, so this was a real treat. Tara Strong is the woman behind several iconic animated characters from the ’90s and 2000s, like Timmy Turner from The Fairly Oddparents, Bubbles from Powerpuff Girls, and Raven from Teen Titans (and, judging from how many Bronies were in the audience, she’s pretty popular for My Little Pony, too.)

A short interview with the moderator gave way to a lengthy Q&A from the audience, and as is normally the case with these things, the questions were hit-or-miss. But Strong was always a pro, fielding questions with sincerity, humor, and of course, voices (she particularly liked to bust out the Harley Quinn voice). Strong spoke with surprising candidness about the voice acting industry, how it’s only getting more difficult with the rise of projects voiced by big celebrities and how odd it can be to re-audition for your own part, as was the case with Powerpuff Girls (Strong does not provide her voice for the new version airing on Cartoon Network).

As far as news go, the panel was light. There’s a My Little Pony special airing tomorrow, and Strong mentioned she did just book a project that is an established property that is going to be big, but she couldn’t say what it is yet. Still, for anyone fascinated by the field of voice acting, this was an illuminating hour.

Michael Rooker Spotlight

Alright, so I’ve been a fan of Michael Rooker for years. Mallrats and Slither alone are enough to put him into my geek hall of fame, but throw in The Walking Dead and Guardians of the Galaxy? Baby, you got yourself a stew going.

But no amount of Rooker fandom could have prepared me for this totally nuts, off-the-wall panel that broke all the rules of Comic Con and left the crowd in awe. In the four years I’ve been covering NYCC, I’ve been to countless panels, almost all of them with a couple of people at a table with a moderator – the moderator asks a few questions, then turns it to the fans, who proceed to (sometimes nervously) ask questions of their own. That idea clearly bored Rooker, who came out running and throwing a bag across the stage, constantly poking fun at the running timer in the front telling them how much time they had left. The moderator, who recently wrote a book about The Walking Dead featuring an interview with Rooker, quickly threw any attempt to keep things on track out the window.

And then after about five minutes, Rooker just jumped into the crowd and started his own Q&A. He quickly made his way around the entire Main Stage auditorium several times over, answering every rapid-fire question that came to him, often with a rapid-fire response. He had no news to offer, and he didn’t need to. He had the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand, it was nuts. At the end of the panel, he actually called James Gunn on his cell phone and had the crowd leave a loud and indecipherable voicemail for him. He then led the crowd in shouting “I’m Mary Poppins, Y’all!” (his now-iconic line from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2) while he filmed it, and then the crowd had to do it again, because he forgot to hit record.

Rooker is a great character actor who’s been working in great movies for decades, but has only recently gained a major profile thanks to The Walking Dead and Guardians of the Galaxy. It was evident here that he was soaking up his moment in the spotlight and loving every minute of it, making this an early contender for the best panel at New York Comic Con 2017.

HarmonQuest Screening And Q&A

I’m a longtime fan of comedy writer Dan Harmon, creator of Community (one of my favorite shows of all time) and Rick and Morty (one of the best shows currently on TV). The hardcore fans listen every week to his podcast, Harmontown, which is an improvised and often-great look into the sometimes-disturbing mind of Harmon. HarmonQuest is a TV spinoff of that podcast, in which Harmon, comedian Jeff Davis, podcaster Erin McGathy, and dungeon master Spencer all play an improvised game of Dungeons and Dragons together, with a special guest joining each week.

The first season of the show aired on Seeso, the now-defunct streaming network for comedy nerds. The second season, which just premiered a few weeks ago, is currently on VRV (pronounced “verve,” which is dumb. Just use the vowels, guys). We were shown episode five of the new season, which will premiere this weekend and features Patton Oswalt as the episode’s guest star. It’s not a standout episode of HarmonQuest (The Kumail Nanjiani episode from the first season is probably my favorite) but there’s a lot to like for fans of the show. There’s plenty of self-deprecating Dan Harmon, some great, stammer-ridden improv, and a terrific running gag about half-finished idioms.

The screening was then followed by a Q&A with Harmon, Jeff Davis, and Spencer, moderated by Travis McElroy of My Brother, My Brother and Me, a fellow Dungeons and Dragons podcast (my FilmBookCast co-host Mike DeCriscio would have flipped out). They talked a bit about the process of adapting the podcast to television before opening it up to audience questions, which amazingly stayed mostly on-topic, considering all the other projects Harmon is a part of. It only drifted off to Rick and Morty talk once, when Harmon declared that he won’t be finished with the show until he’s convinced everyone is sick of it.

They spoke at length about some of their favorite episodes (The Aubrey Plaza episode was mentioned a few times, for good reason), and Harmon had a surprisingly in-depth philosophical discussion with an eleven-year-old in the audience about whether he believes the singularity will happen when Elon Musk is saying it will… yeah, it gets weird and off-topic when Harmon is in a room, much like an episode of Community or Rick and Morty or, well, HarmonQuest.

And that’s it for Day One of New York Comic Con! It was a great trio of panels, and tomorrow, there’s a great variety of stuff going on, from Pacific Rim: Uprising to Hulu’s Future Man to the upcoming Runaways TV series.

I’ll be tweeting and live-streaming my Comic Con experience at FilmBook’s Twitter account, and you can follow me as well if you’re so inclined.

Leave your thoughts on this NYCC writeup below in the comments section. For more NYCC reviews, photos, videos, and information, visit our New York Comic Con Page, subscribe to us by Email, “follow” us on Twitter, Tumblr, Google+, or “like” us on Facebook for quick updates.

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About the author

Michael Smith

Mike Smith is an avid filmgoer from New York who loves to hear his own voice - luckily his work as a podcaster on FilmBook allows him to do just that. Mike graduated from The College of Saint Rose in Albany with a degree in communications, and is ready to dole out critical analysis of all your pop culture fixations. Mike is the host of FilmBookCast and can frequently be seen at his local movie theater, patiently explaining to his friends that Superman Returns is a misunderstood masterpiece.

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