One expects to see Star
Wars figures, Doctor Who, and the characters from Game of Thrones at the San Diego Comic-con…but I didn’t think I’d
encounter Charlie Chaplin’s Little Tramp. Yet there he was, in a new rendering
at Diamond International Galleries. It just shows you the vast reach of this
pop-culture convention, which began as a gathering of comic-book fans and has
grown exponentially in recent years. Nowadays it’s a valued launch pad for
movies and TV shows, but I like to spend my time wandering the dealer’s floor checking
out collectibles and people-watching.
I also participated in four panel discussions this year, two
of which I hosted. 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment unveiled DreamWorks
Animation’s new five-minute Rocky and
Bullwinkle cartoon, which will accompany the feature-length Mr. Peabody and Sherman when it comes to
DVD and Blu-ray this October. Although it’s animated in CG and moves at a fast
pace, it’s a wonderfully funny reincarnation of these beloved characters. It
was fun to talk to the short’s director, Gary Trousdale (a DreamWorks and
Disney veteran best known for Beauty and
the Beast), and Tiffany Ward, the daughter of my hero, producer Jay Ward.
(I wrote a fan letter to him when I was 12 years old and received a personal
response on embossed Bullwinkle stationery. He was incredibly kind to me.)
Tiffany remembers being taken to recording sessions for Rocky and his Friends and The
Bullwinkle Show: what a lucky kid!
Comedy writer-performer Robert Smigel asked me to host a
panel previewing his Triumph TV
series that will debut next year on Adult Swim. In it, his foul-mouthed puppet
Triumph, the Comic Insult Dog, will be partnered with the very funny Jack
McBrayer. We had a packed house of fans who were very responsive…even when
Triumph made fun of the write-ups in my Movie
I was happy to participate in Mark Evanier’s 101st
birthday tribute to the great Walt Kelly, creator of Pogo, featuring Walt’s daughter Carolyn, Simpsons director David Silverman, cartoonist Jeff Smith (Bone), comics guru Maggie Thompson, and
animator-artist Willie Ito. We had a great time talking about Kelly’s career
and his influence on a generation of cartoonists and satirists.
Finally, I joined a cadre of critics for Rotten Tomatoes’
annual outing, Your Opinion Sucks.
This is a lively, somewhat rowdy get-together where participants get to
challenge professional reviewers about some of their favorite films. I’m happy
to report that nobody got hurt.
My most tangible souvenir of this year’s convention: a
gigantic vinyl figure of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. I don’t know much about
art, but I know what I like.