When MTV Geek asked me to write about the 10 Weirdest Panels at the 2013 San Diego Comic-Con, I said yes…then realized there was a problem. Weird is relative…and it doesn’t get more relative than at SDCC.
Also, I was in severe danger of getting my butt kicked if I offended the wrong fan base.
After perusing the hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of panels offered across the show, I’ve come to the conclusion that most are either typical representations of comics and sometimes barely-comics-related media, or fine, thoughtful analyses of different themes and trends across different hobbies and genres.
And then there’s the other stuff.
Here’s 10 especially weird, unusual and sometimes wonderful panels, in chronological order. Please note that the author’s opinion thoroughly colors this list, though I avoided including the panel for the second season of the CW’s “Beauty and the Beast” with the note, “WHY DOES THIS EXIST?!”
Ahem. Listin’ time!
10. “Intelligence” (Thursday July18, 10 a.m.-11 a.m., Ballroom 20): There’s nothing inherently weird about this upcoming CBS series with “Lost” star Josh Holloway as a government agent with an implant in his head that lets him access wireless information and hack into computers and stuff, but…isn’t this basically “Chuck” with a more macho guy in the lead? Or “Jake 2.0” from a few years before? Anyone remember that? “Jake 2.0?”
Also, if the show turns out to be bad or flops right away, my love of “Team America” causes me to envision such headlines as “Bad ’Intelligence’ on CBS,” or “CBS has No ’Intelligence.'”
All right, that was more subjective than outright weird. Let’s try harder.
9. Voltage Pictures: An Exclusive Preview of “The Zero Theorem,” Directed by Terry Gilliam (Thursday July 18, 5:10 p.m.-5:40 p.m., Hall H): All right, now we’re getting somewhere. A new film by Terry Gilliam is guaranteed to be weird (and if you haven’t enjoyed the likes of “Brazil,” “Time Bandits” or even the misunderstood “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen,” stop reading this article and get Netflixin’), and this one promises to be true to form with its tale of, and I quote, “An eccentric and reclusive computer genius plagued with existential angst works on a mysterious project aimed at discovering the purpose of existence or the lack thereof once and for all.”
Sadly, Gilliam, along with stars Matt Damon and Christoph Waltz, won’t be at this relatively brief panel, but you’re at least guaranteed to leave asking yourself, “What the hell did I just see?”
8. Genuine Fakes: Making the Artificial Real (Thursday July 18, 7 p.m.-8 p.m., Room 32AB): This is more cool-weird than weird-weird, as I have a great respect for those who create whole cultures, languages, and more for fictional worlds. This covers the gamut, including how to design strange creatures and props to authentic alternate histories. This could prove genuinely useful for many a creative person.
7. Not Guilty Due to Zombification? Law and Forensic Psychiatry in a Zombie Apocalypse (Thursday July 18, 8 p.m.-9:30 p.m., Room 7AB): All right, this might be the first genuinely weird panel I’ve encountered so far. A number of legal and medical experts — we’re talkin’ actual attorneys and M.D.s, people — hold a mock trial for a post-zombie-apocalypse world with the audience as the jury, examining whether survivors are guilty when it comes to such crimes as murder, looting, cannibalism, and so forth.
Methinks writers/producers of “The Walking Dead” at the con need to pencil this into their schedule. Y’all going to need some material for Season Seven or so.
6. Spotlight On Jose Delbo (Friday July 19, 11 a.m.-12 p.m., Room 4): There is absolutely nothing weird about this profile of a brilliant veteran comic book artist of many of the top superhero books around, but we advise panelgoers to ask him about the particularly weird book he worked on in the early 1990s, “Brute Force,” Marvel Comics’ attempt to create a property that could be sold as a cartoon and action figures about a bunch of environment-saving animals in robo-armor who included a dolphin with an Uzi and a cyborg kangaroo named “Hip-Hop.” Good times!
Seriously, the man illustrated the comic book adaptation of the Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine” and it wasn’t as weird as this.
On a related note, we advise checking out Scott Shaw!’s “Oddball Comics” panel on Saturday from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. in Room 7 AB, as that man has forgotten more about weird comics than most people will remember. Still, even he was taken aback when I showed him this one.
5. Warner Archive Collection presents Attack of the Killer Bs (Friday July 19, 1:30 p.m.-2:30 p.m., Room 24 ABC): Ain’t nothin’ like a good B movie, and Warner Brothers’ DVD-on-demand service the Warner Archive has some of the best. This discussion is due to include many of the films you saw on “Mystery Science Theater 3000” sans robots, with such experts as Leonard Maltin and “A History of Violence” screenwriter Josh Olson. Should be a ripping good time, and a way to find out about some great cheesy movies you didn’t know were on DVD.
4. Bravoman Animated Series: Comedy, Action, and Stretchy Romance! (Friday July 19, 5:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m., Room 28DE): All right, this writer had some mental debate over what to include next, including a panel called “Why Fanfiction is Taking Over the World,” that for some reason sent a chill down his spine.
However, he ultimately decided to go with this new animated-series-promoting panel solely because it is based on a somewhat obscure-in-the-US Japanese video game he remembers from the TurboGrafx-16 in the early 1990s where the main character would utter a digitized “BRAVO!” every time he threw a stretchy punch (that didn’t get old) and each level ended with a limited-animation villain intoning “I AM DOCTOR BOMB.” You can watch some footage here.
In fairness, this is relevant because it has been revived as a webcomic and attendant animated series with a new game on the way, but lord, what a weird thing to revive! I feel old. Also, “stretchy romance” creeps me out. I already have a hard time parsing Jake and Lady Rainicorn on “Adventure Time.”
3. Worst Cartoons Ever! (Friday July 19, 8:15 p.m.-9:15 p.m., Room 6BCF): Oh, this is one of the absolute chestnuts of Comic-Con, an annual celebration of poorly-animated and downright bizarre animation, with the likes of “Super President,” “Rocket Riding Hood,” and more. If you want to see what inspired those old “TV Funhouse” bits on “Saturday Night Live,” you owe it to yourself to attend this.
2. The Con of Wrath (Saturday July 20, 7:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m., Room 7AB): For some reason, I love the story of a good trainwreck — flop blockbusters, misguided albums, you name it. And this is a tale I hadn’t heard of before — a massive “Star Trek” convention in 1982 featuring most of the original cast, a concert, a revolving stage…and only a fraction of the expected 48,000 attendees showing up, leaving the show without money for the guests, the staff or even the cost of the venue. This is a documentary about the event, which turned out to be one of the more beloved Trek cons ever — here’s a story about it with a YouTube video with some footage.
1. Troma: Return to Nuke ’Em High (Saturday July 20, 9 p.m.-10 p.m., Room 9): All right, here’s a good ending to this list — a panel spotlighting the gore-heavy house behind the likes of “The Toxic Avenger” and “Surf Nazis Must Die,” including founder Lloyd Kaufman, “30 Rock” co-star Judah Friedlander, Kaufman’s wife Pat Swinney Kaufman (who also happens to be the New York film commissioner, and noted actor/porn legend Ron Jeremy. Yep, you want weird, y’all got it.
These weird enough for you? Anything weirder we could have mentioned going on at Comic-Con? Yes, I also left out the “Twilight” fanfiction panel. I’m not throwing rocks in THAT direction.