Denver Comic-Con 2016, Part 2: Photo-Ops and Panels

by on 28/06/2016
 

ADDENDUM: In part one, I forgot to mention that I ran into Frank Beddor, who had a table set up at the convention. You might remember Frank from my review of his book, Hatter Madigan. Frank has always been nice, and was very grateful for the book review.

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Now, onto Day 2!

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For those of you that read part 1, you’ll see that the first day of this year’s event was quite…well…eventful. Could day 2 possibly top it?

Yes. Yes, it could.

We didn’t get to enjoy the convention as much the second day. Don’t misunderstand me; we had a ton of fun and got a lot accomplished. I just mean that we didn’t get to look around, shop, etc. due to how busy we were. See, day 2 was a day for photo-ops, all of which we had paid for in advance, so there was no missing out.

We did get to do a bit of wandering on the floor before things really got underway, but not much. Just a couple hours in, we got into one of the theaters for a panel with Cersei Lannister herself, Lena Headey. The panel was unfortunately bumped up to our busiest day due to Lena having to cancel her Sunday appearances and cram everything into Saturday instead. However, that didn’t stop her from having a great time. Hosted by uber-geek Clare Kramer, most known for her role as Glory on the TV series Buffy: The Vampire Slayer and owner of Geek Nation. This was her third time attending the convention hosted many of the panels. Turns out this one was special for her, as she and Lena go back over ten years, having worked on a movie (that sadly never got released) when they both were starting their careers. Needless to say, Clare did an outstanding job, asking questions that she knew fans would ask themselves because she is one. Eventually, Lena and Clare switched to questions from the audience, and Lena was funny, charming and very candid in all of her answers. Naturally, most questions applied to Game of Thrones, but little was revealed, namely due to the fact that the cast are just as much in the dark on what’s going to happen as anyone else. Still, what she could say was funny, and she included several great stories about Peter Dinklage, including him hustling both her and Conan O’Brien during their segment of “Clueless Gamer” on Conan’s show.

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Now, my daughter got a bit bored during this panel because, quite honestly, she doesn’t know who Lena Headey is (No Game of Thrones or Dredd until she gets a bit older!). However, that would turn around in a hurry.

First up was a photo-op with two of the oh-so-many lovely ladies of Doctor Who, Jenna Coleman and Alex Kingston, better known as “Clara Oswald” and “River Song”, respectively. Arthur Darvill was also supposed to be in the photo, but he unfortunately had to cancel a couple weeks before the convention. Sadly, he had to cancel last year as well, in order to film Legends of Tomorrow. This year, a reason was not given, but I’m going to assume he needed to either film the next season of that show or season 3 of Broadchurch (Arthur, if this somehow gets to you, please come back. My daughter is dying to meet you and was very sad you canceled this year). We ended up using his portion of the photo-op for a photo with Karl Urban (more on that in part 3), but even without him there, it was a great experience. Jenna and Alex were clearly having fun with everyone in line for photos, and when it was our term, Alex was beyond charming while Jenna went out of her way pose with my daughter for the photo. I managed to get hugs from both before we had to move on. I’m sure they get asked for hugs all the time, but it didn’t stop them from giving out just a couple more. Two class acts all the way and astoundingly lovely women.

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No time to rest! Immediately into the line for the next photo-op! Up next was Lena Headey. Again, this was her only day at the event, so her line was a bit rushed. Still, total pro and a sweet lady who was having a great time with everyone. Teagan didn’t know her, but fell in love with her after posing for photos. Until she’s a bit older, I’ll have to show her the version of The Jungle Book Lena was in, along with Cary Elwes (more on him in a bit), or maybe Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. She’s a big fan of Summer Glau, so it should be an easy sell.

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We had a small break after that. And by “small”, I mean “a few minutes”. My wife jumped in line for the next photo-op while Teagan and I headed to another part of the convention floor so she could meet Olivia and Martin Olson, who were also only there for one day, signing copies of their books. For those that don’t know, Olivia and Martin are authors as well as involved in show business. Olivia voices Marceline, the Vampire Queen on Adventure Time, and her father Martin not only writes and composes many of the songs on the show, he also does countless voice-acting and live action gigs, and was the head writer on Phineas & Ferb for its first season.

While they did a sing-along for the kids last year, Teagan missed out on meeting them because we found out the next day they were only there one day, so I made absolutely sure she got to meet them this year. Fortunately, their line was short, but unfortunately, took longer than expected. Both are extremely chatty, which is absolutely fine, and they were also not charging anyone for autographs (save for with purchase of books or CDs), which is even more fine. What’s not fine is people taking advantage of that. A couple several ahead of us had an obscene stack of merchandise for the two of them to sign. As I said yesterday, when someone isn’t charging, there’s a limit. These two had gone way beyond that limit. To the Olsons’ credit, however, they signed everything and asked for nothing in return.

When we finally got up to them, they were extremely sweet people. Very friendly and really paying attention to every single person that was talking to him. My daughter brought a comic for them to sign, which they were more than happy to do. They also gave her a free scroll pen, which she was very excited about, then took a quick photo. Great people, and I’d love for them to come back next year when we’re not so rushed. Perhaps we can take Teagan to their panel on the next round.

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Back to photo-op lines! Round 3 was with the one and only John Barrowman. If you read part 1, you know that he and I had been goofing around with each other the previous day (making my wife delightfully jealous in the process), and it turns out that wasn’t done.

Thanks to my wife getting in line early, we had very little wait time for our photo with John. Once we got in, John immediately recognized us, gave me an, “Mmmm.” with a smile on his face, then had us squeeze him as tightly as we possibly could for the photo. The result is possibly my favorite photo that I’ve ever been in. I loved John before we ever got to meet him, but now I love him more than ever.

After the photo, John hugged us again, then proceeded to smack my ass on my way out of the booth, resulting in another “Woooo!” from those behind us in line. That eventually led to an exchange of some great Tweets between he and I.

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My wife calls this “Our big, happy family.”

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Finally, back to another line for our last photo-op. Another one-day appearance. This time, none other than the incredibly beautiful and talented Hayley Atwell, who I’m sure you all know as “Peggy Carter” from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Agent Carter. Pretty sure Hayley now just lives as Agent Peggy Carter now. Much like Alex Kingston was dressed in a lovely dress I could see River Song wearing, Hayley pretty much looked and dressed just like Agent Carter for the day. Not only is she charming in-person, she is just as striking as you would imagine. Unbelievably gorgeous woman.

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After being on our feet in line most of the day, it was time for a bit of a sit. We headed off to one off to the Bellco Theatre inside the convention center and back to the main hall, where we had seen Lena Headey’s panel earlier in the day. We were planning on attending John Barrowman’s panel, not realizing a panel was still in progress, and in fact had barely just started. Turned out that panel featured one Cary Elwes.

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Great timing, as the panel was incredibly fun. Cary, who was a guest as a result of this year marking the 30th anniversary of The Princess Bride, was joined by Clare Kramer, once more playing host and interviewer. Cary proceeded to fill an hour with incredible stories from the sets of his movies, mainly The Prince Bride, and was so charming and funny. Not only that, but the man has a mind like a steel trap. He could remember absolutely every little detail about each story, and told each with such clear joy on his face, I couldn’t help but smile the entire time.

During the Q&A period with the audience, Cary fielded all sorts of questions and had fun stories to go along with all of them. At one point, one girl got up to ask a question and was so nervous, she started to stutter over her words. Cary asked her her name, said, “Hi”, then followed up with, “You know, I need a hug” before running into the audience to give her a hug. He then proceeded to hug several more questioners who were also nervous, and even did part of the panel from the crowd in between hugs. It was very sweet and genuine. He struck me as a guy who clearly appreciates the audiences and wants everyone to have a good time, and if anyone left that panel without a smile, they must be incredibly bitter.

Before the panel ended, one last question from the audience: “Would you make all the girls and several of the guys in the audience’s day by uttering your famous three words?” Cary knew immediately what the gentleman asking the question meant, chuckled a bit, then looked to the hard camera. “As. You. Wish.” At that moment, it dawned on Teagan who Cary was, as she absolutely loves The Princess Bride (she didn’t recognize him, partially due to the fact that we were quite a ways back in the theatre). We all decided we would do our damnedest to get over to his table on day 3.

After a brief intermission to allow the audience to file out and the new audience to file in (those who wanted to attend both were allowed to stay after Cary’s), we moved closer to better seats. It was time for Mr. Barrowman’s panel. No Clare Kramer on hosting duties this time around. Turns out John’s panels are a one-man show.

John hit the stage in a way only he can, sporting a long wig, high heels and a dressed. Turns out he dresses up like one of his favorite TV characters for every panel, and this time, it was Misha from Supernatural. 

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After giving the crowd a thrill with some dancing (and receiving a standing ovation in return), he went straight into Q&A with the audience, trying to answer as many questions as possible. Honestly, trying to tell you everything he talked about wouldn’t do the panel justice, as he covered just about everything you can think of. I can tell you, however, he told a great story about sharing chips with David Tennant while filming Doctor Who, as well as an even better one about both Gareth David-Lloyd and Eve Myles on the set of Torchwood. 

He also spent a great deal of time talking about different charities he’s worked with, and did something really cool when a partially-blind gentleman told a story about how John’s face was one of the last he saw before his sight started to slip. John hugged the man and allowed him to touch his face in order to really remember it when his sight eventually goes. The man’s wife, who is deaf, also danced with him on stage after being too nervous to do it at his table earlier. She received a big kiss from John’s husband Scott to cap it off.

Amongst all of this, Barrowman announced he and sister Carole are continuing the Torchwood stories courtesy of a new comic series from IDW, and are hoping to spin that off back into a new series of the show. He also made a special announcement that he would be doing a social media announcement over the next few days, which turned out to be that he is currently working on a pilot for a brand-new show.

Finally, John sang the song “I Am What I Am” to the crowd, a song he wrote himself that has become his personal anthem and the anthem for all of his friends and fans who don’t feel normal or feel different for a variety of reasons. It was incredible, and just shows how obscenely talented he is. Author, singer, songwriter, actor of both stage and screen…the man can do it all. My daughter was a bit bummed he didn’t answer her question, but she still had a great time and absolutely loved his song. We knew we had to go see him one more time at his table before the weekend was over.

If you’ve got an hour to spare, you can watch his panel here. The official video is supposed to be uploaded soon, so if you want to wait and see it in better quality, I promise it’s worth it.

And so ended day 2, and we had an absolute blast. Despite not having much free time, every single bit was worth it. Next time in part 3, more fun with celebrities…and a bit of a somber moment as well.

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