Cinemax’s Outcast previews & Q & A panel. After all the living walker herd chaos, that TWD has been bringing to New York Comic Con, I expected at least some difficulty in getting into the panel for Robert Kirkman’s latest offering. I was only sorta justified. While not quite the main stage early bird special, that guarantees shut-out status for anyone too late for the morning admission handouts, the Outcast line somehow grew out of the shut-outs from the previous panel; so even though I waited an hour for it to form, it was a quarter full by the time I realized it already had.
I don’t know/ don’t care how bad it got behind me – it was worth the trouble just for Kirkman’s take on everything & nothing. The guy’s hilarious, in a if-you-like-my-crazy-uncle-then-you-keep-him sort of way. To set the mood, however, moderator, Jon Glaser, had to share with us that he had only just completed a marathon. A panel running gag was the result, with panelists Kirkman, Patrick Fugit, and EP Chris Black, taking turns with Glaser’s thermal blanket as a cape, cloak, and oversized kufiya, respectively.
On the why of Outcast, Kirkman explained that, while he loved The Exorcist, he thought its story incomplete. Yes, the exorcist was about an exorcism, and the exorcism was a success; but what happened next? The demon had to go somewhere – did the good guys follow up, in that regard? Despite title suggestions like “Demons ain’t Done” (Glaser), and “Demons that Get into People, and People who Get Demons Out of People” (Kirkman), the settled title aims to explore that aspect.
Fugit (after taking some grief, over how to pronounce the name) noted that Kirkman’s script, bringing greater depth to the source material, was what drew him to the project; while Kirkman noted that he settled on Fugit, despite more talented actors having auditioned, because he was the only one to not make the main character a total downer. Somehow, Brent Spiner being in the cast tied into the panel teasing Fugit, over a history of talking to the cast of STNG through his TV. It was a proper hazing.
Chris Black fielded a co-panelist question about adult diapers (how scary was it on set), before noting that he had wanted to work with Kirkman; but it was also the script that sold him (having seen how bad the concept could be, once realized) on moving forward.
As edgy as his AMC shows have been, Kirkman was encouraged to make Outcast “edgier,” by Cinemax; but as promising as the new trailer was, it was the short clip – involving cockroach, a little boy, and a little demonic impulsiveness – that gave us the best idea of what we are in for. This, to the delight of the panel; with Glaser declaring it “beautifully disgusting,” and Kirkman putting the Humane Society on notice – 75 dead roaches by the time the shot was established. He reminded the audience that TWD started with a little girl getting shot in the head; so clearly “I don’t like kids (I like my kids; but nobody else’s)!”
We were assured that the young actor (Gabriel Bateman) was fine – even excited – about the role, regarding the experience as “awesome.”
As far as the source material is concerned, the prison story, for episode 3 (written by Black), was teased as the best example of the show exceeding expectations, with episode 6 cited as a season highlight. The show will deviate; but mostly as a way of expanding the roles of characters currently peripheral in the book. Kirkman refuted any recycling of ideas (his take away from a question on using Cinemax as a catch-all, to anything basic cable won’t allow), and considers working for pay cable as creatively liberating – before just admitting that Cinemax is better. He dodged a shared universe question (they all did) and wasn’t concerned about overtaking the book. No R.R. Martin danger, here.
I gotta say, this was one of the more enjoyable panels to sit in on, at this year’s Con. Kirkman dominated anyone that so much as made eye contact; but everyone got their turn at giving & taking shots (except the audience – we were strictly on the receiving end). Outcast really does look to surpass Kirkman’s previous works, based on just the preview, alone – if only in terms of budget & shock value. Characters have been the driving force of Kirkman’s hits; so only time will tell if the cast of Outcast garners the same level of devotion as his survivors of the zombie apocalypse.
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