by Dani Aronson and Alicia McMullen aka Tank Girl and Melisandre
New York Comic Con seems to get bigger and better every year, and this year was no exception. We attended thought-provoking panels such as #YesAllGeeks: Let’s Talk About Harassment in Fandom and New York TimesOUT: Geeks, Gaymers, and Crossplay. In addition to these important panels, we let our nerd brains feast on panels featuring the stars of TV shows such as Comedy Central’s Broad City and NBC’s (brand new series) Constantine, we watched the cosplayers duel on the main floor, we visited booths selling everything from animated cat ears from Japan to badass geek chic manicures from the ladies of League of Lacquer. Never mind that Patrick Stewart stood us up (shame on you, Stew! You live just a train ride away in Park Slope); we came, we cosplayed, we conquered!
Dani Aronson on Comedy Central’s Broad City:
Broad Fucking City! Amy Poehler produced season one of this cult hit on Comedy Central. Broad City started out as a web series featuring short comedy skits revolving around the lives of 20-something Brooklyn ladies, starring two friends and improv buddies at UCB, Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson. The two stars and season two producers (alongside Poehler) portray exaggerated versions of their actual selves. Although, you wouldn’t know there was much difference as the two ladies danced their way on stage to their panel at NYCC, grinding on many members of the audience on the way. Ilana and Abbi spoke about their first encounter at UCB — Abbi thought Ilana was actually “famous” actress Alia Shawkat of Arrested Development fame when they first got placed on the same improv team. The comediennes also reveled that Ilana’s horrible dealsdealsdeals job on the show, is loosely based on actual jobs they held at beauty coupon site Lifebooker, where they crafted the perfect words to promote coupons for services such as Brazilian waxes and asshole bleaching. While on the panel, they showed the rooftop party episode from season one and Ilana and Abbi recorded the audio commentary. After the commentary portion, there was a Q&A, and then the panel ended with an exclusive clip from the upcoming second season, which will premiere on Comedy Central in January. As if this panel couldn’t get any better, they handed out “Broad Fucking City” shirts to everyone in the audience, and if you want to steal the title of best panel comic con, well, damn, you girls got it.
Alicia Gay on NBC’s Constantine:
Constantine, NBC’s take on the horror comic book series Hellblazer, was screened with a subsequent panel with the show’s executive producer and two of its stars at this year’s New York Comic Con. The show premieres on Oct. 24, exactly one week from Halloween. Here are four things to know about the latest adaptation of the blonde, wise-cracking, demon-banishing master of the dark arts. SPOILERS (you’ve been warned):
1) This Aint Your Mamma’s John Constantine (assuming your mom read gruesome comic books in the late 80’s).
There are a lot of good things to say about this version of John Constantine, played admirably by actor Matt Ryan. Most notably, Ryan and the show’s writers have captured the acerbic, self-depreciating humor that makes John Constantine so much fun on the page. Overall, this Constantine is far and away better than the not-to-be-mentioned-again film, with its Ted meets Neo portrayal of the lead character. This being said, this Constantine isn’t as much of a bad boy as the comic book character. In the brief panel discussion that followed the screening, executive producer David Goyer promised that they did not “de-ball” Constantine, and although much has already been made about the fact that this version won’t smoke on screen (because of network broadcast standard), Ryan’s Constantine lacks an edge that smoking won’t cure.
2) What Are We Doing in Hot-lanta?
Much of what makes Hellblazer great are the gritty urban backdrops, including seedy London streets and the more unsavory surrounding neighborhoods. NBC’s Constantine for some reason takes place in… Atlanta? Gone are the walls covered in graffiti and vomit, the skinheads and hooligans roaming the streets, the dark, secret corners that normal people rarely see. In the pilot those images are replaced by urban sprawl, women in pantsuits, some very pleasant seeming woods and cozy kitchen tables. Yes, terrifying dark magic infects all of those places, but the Atlanta setting reinforced the idea that this Constantine might as well be dabbling in the occult, in his refinished basement in a house in the suburbs, his giant tomes on magic squeezed between a dog-eared copy of the latest Tom Clancy book and an electric train set. There is a blood map scene at the end which suggests the characters may travel to other American cities to fight evil. Let’s hope they land in cities like New York, Chicago or hell even Detroit.
3) It’s Scary.
For a network TV show, the pilot was legitimately scary (no shade Grimm). My only interest in this show is getting my weekly horror fix, and the pilot delivered. The plot revolves around an electricity demon, and while on its face that might not sound like the most terrifying boogeyman, some of the effects are terrific. There is a scene with a corpse violently jerking around in a body bag that made me gasp. And I literally screamed when Liv’s Nana (not related to the demon) makes an appearance in the kitchen. There are also some schlock-y predictable things like live electric cables that strike at you like snakes (the god of electricity also doubles as Capt. Obvious), but I forgave those sins for the opening scene, with its hundreds of skin-crawling bugs signaling the arrival of the Big Bad. Make no mistake – Constantine isn’t as hardcore as cable favorites The Walking Dead or (my favorite) American Horror Story, but for a network show, the scares are consistent.
4) Missing the cast of Lost? Look no further.
As a fan of Lost, I was delighted to see two former cast members in roles in Constantine. Harold Perrineau stars as Manny, an angel with badass yellow eyes who steps into other people to communicate with John. Perrineau doesn’t have a ton to do in the pilot so I mostly imagined him flying around on his angel wings shouting: “Have you seen my boy?! Waallllt!!!!!!” (Dear NBC: let’s make this Lost/Constantine mash-up happen). Jeremy Davies, who played Dr. Daniel Faraday on Lost, also shows up as jittery Ritchie Simpson, whose main function in the pilot seems to be to serve up the exposition that reveals a crucial part of John’s back story. Like Perrineau, Davies doesn’t have a lot of compelling on screen action. Shutting down Atlanta’s power grid to rob a demon of its power source is a neat trick, but Dr. Faraday would have displaced that demon’s ass in time faster than you can say “Charles Widmore is an evil son of a bitch.” Let’s just hope Hurley shows up in a later episode as a demon with a serious case of the munchies.
Dani Aronson on Ladies of Lacquer and other NYCC highlights:
In addition to the ladies of Broad City, I paid some other fabulous ladies a visit: the League of Lacquer. They did an amazing Skeletor design on my claws last year, and this year my girl Shellbeezy gave me a Tank Girl-inspired manicure to match my cosplay wears. Just take a look at their stuff!
On Saturday I attended the #YesAllGeeks panel and the TimesOUT panel, both very important discussions to be had at the New York Comic Con, and all major cons in general. New York Comic Con had “Cosplay doesn’t mean Consent” posters all over the venue, and that is likely in response to many incidents of sexual harassment last year. Overall, cons are getting better about enforcing these policies against harassment, and they need to if they want their audiences to grow.
The one black cloud that hung over Saturday was no show Sir Patrick Stewart. I got a sought after bracelet guaranteeing entry to the Patrick Stewart Experience only to be told just 30 minutes before, that he was not attending. Despite being let down by Sir Stew, it was a great time at NYCC! See you at NYCC 2015!