Amazon Prime Video hopes to give its competition a run for their money with its Comic-Con International panel. The streaming service brought some of its original programming -- including The Tick, Good Omens and Tom Clany's Jack Ryan -- to San Diego for the convention. The Tick creator Ben Edlund, Good Omens creator Neil Gaiman, Lore producer Gale Anne Hurd, The Expanse showrunner Naren Shankar, Homecoming director Sam Esmail and Jack Ryan's Carlton Cuse stopped by Ballroom 20 to offer a behind-the-scenes look into their upcoming projects.
"You know, you have to be kind of be right-brained and left-brain," Cuse said of showrunning.
"As a non-writing producer, I don't have to worry about that part but I have to choose the right people for the part," Hurd added.
"I wasn't a showrunner. I was a writer who took to showrunning in self-defense," Gaiman joked, "The thing I've learned is trying to learn where the budget bugs are... There was a scene nobody wanted me to shoot in the Globe Theater," he recalled, explaining how the scene would require 600 extras to feed and pay. "Eventually it came down to the fact that I was going to set them on the opening night of Hamlet... So I just rewrote the scene and suddenly we could afford it."
"I was prepping for Homecoming, so I guess the one thing I've learned is you've got to be a little fucking crazy... and then let go from there," Esmail shared.
"I'm naturally an introvert and you learn communication is your tool in this job and I don't do that great, but realize your job is telling other people... you want to sculpt something, but you have other people's hands to do it," Edlund explained. "It's just a really weird way to spend time."
According to Esmail, showrunners need to be the number one fan of your own work.
Gaiman explained that his upcoming show had a fanbase built in and that that required him to find ways to please the existing fandom. "I knew it was my obligation to give them things they don't know they want yet," he added. "One day you will have fallen in love with Jon Hamm's Gabriel... you don't know that you love it it."
"Without the fans, I wouldn't be sitting here," Shankar said to a scream of applause.
"Taking this idea and coming up with this original idea that still had the flavor of what Tom Clancy had done," Cuse said.
Following this, a teaser for Homecoming starring Julia Roberts played. "Julia Roberts... we were so psyched. She's amazing in the show," Esmail said. "I get to reunite Julia and Dermot [Mulroney]!"
"They're not getting a whole different world... so I really wanted to stay authentic to that," Esmail explained.
A clip of The Tick played, revealing some of the behind-the-scenes workings of the show.
"We're expanding the world... Tick and Arthur have kind of won the right to practice superheroing in their town," Edlund explained. He added that the two will bring in more heroes, but also introduce a superhero policing force.
"We have Tyrannosaurus Rex. He's got a heart condition that is characterized by a gas cap," he said. He revealed Arthur will get involved with a bank robber. "Just expanding the world has been sort of our goal, just build out more heroes. I'm not at liberty to give too much away," he added, as the show is in its early stages.
As Gaiman began to speak, a voice boomed over him, claiming to be the voice of God. She demanded he not reveal anything about the show. "You can't argue with God, Neil," she said. "But I can! I'm the showrunner!" he shot back. A behind-the-scenes featurette then began to roll.
Gaiman then revealed that Frances McDormand will play God in Good Omens. "We knew God had to be a woman... we wanted an American voice.... I got an email from Frances McDormand asking if she could borrow my house in Scotland... I said yes of course, then I wrote back and said, 'By the way...' We've already recorded her though."
Gaiman revealed that actors like Miranda Richardson (Madame Tracy) and Michael Sheen (Azriphale) both asked to be in the project because they loved the book. He also discussed co-author Terry Pratchett's absence from the project.
Asked how the show will honor Pratchett's legacy, Gaiman said, "By being very funy and very, very, very serious at the same time." He recalled that Pratchett once told him, "People think that funny and serious are opposites, but they're not. The opposite of funny is not funny. You can be absolutely serious while being funny."
"Everybody's coming back," Shankar said of The Expanse Season 4. "It was a really amazing grassroots effort. It just popped up... People all over just expressing a tremendous amount of passion. They weren't ready to let it go... We didn't put it into motion... It was amazing. It was an incredible experience."
"It wasn't a call so much. We were at a banquet at a space conference and Jeff Bezos was there," he recalled. "At the banquet, he announced they had picked up the show... I looked like a stunned animal. It was crazy. We didn't think it was going to happen, but it did," he recalled.
"We're in the second big movement of the books," he added. "They're no longer restrained by staying in the solar system."
"We no longer have the language restrictions," he revealed. "We don't have nudity restrictions. The show is now going to be in 4k and HDR. We're no longer constrained by a 43-minute box... We're really excited about being on Amazon Prime."
A trailer for Lore Season 2 ran.
"These stories are true. They really happened," Hurd said. "The stories are even more intimate, so you're living these haunted stories, these murder stories."
"It's an international cast," she added, revealing that Fear the Walking Dead's Alicia Witt and several other actors had joined the project. She pointed out Guillermo Del Toro's Oscar-winning Shape of Water and discussed its influence on Season 2. "That means we can be even more brave in our storytelling. We can take risks."
The female lead for Jack Ryan Season 2 will be Noomi Rapace. "She plays a very formidable person... She crosses paths with Jack Ryan... The second season is a political thriller set in South America," Cuse revealed.
Cuse described Season 1 as a prequel to the books' story. It will show Ryan's first operation, when he went from an analyst to an operative.
"What was great was that Terry Pratchett and I didn't leave the world of Good Omens when we finished the book," Gaiman revealed. "We came up with an idea for a sequel... We did a draft of a film script that was never used. One of the things we decided back then was that we wanted angels and we talked a lot about these angels and had plans for them. When it came to write the TV script, they were already waiting... I knew I wanted our angels to be corporate and beautiful in the same way that I wanted our demons to just be rubbish... People in Hell are in the offices in the basement that you don't want to be in...The angels, the demons, are just inhabiting one skyscraper was something Terry and I had talked about in 1989. A lot of the stuff that's new is implicit in the book or just stuff that Terry and I had been talking about for years."
"A character that been in both the comic book and the cartoon, we're going to start to bring into our universe. We're starting to look at bringing more characters from the past in," Edlund said of The Tick Season 2. "Things come from now and really want to strongly be expressed first, so we're still in that process... We are teasing into more characters from the deep past. One of the characters who even became a toy is going to loom more into continuity."
"Crowley was Terry's way of poking fun at me," Gaiman recalled. He revealed that Crowley's tendency to wear sunglasses when he didn't need them was a joke from Pratchett at Gaiman's expense. He said that he identifies most with Azriphale.
Cuse invited his co-showrunner up and introduced the first episode of the show, which screened for the audience.
The Tick stars Peter Serafinowicz as The Tick, Griffin Newman as Arthur Everest, Valorie Curry as Dot Everest, Brendan Hines as Superian, Jackie Earle Haley as The Terror and Yara Martinez as Ms. Lint. The series will return on Amazon Prime for a second season.
Premiering in 2019 on Amazon Prime, Good Omens stars David Tennant, Michael Sheen, Jon Hamm, Miranda Richardson, Adria Arjona, Josie Lawrence, Anna Maxwell Martin, Jack Whitehall, and Nick Offerman.
Returning for a fourth season on Amazon, The Expanse stars Cas Anvar as Alex Kamal, Dominique Tipper as Naomi Nagata and Wes Chatham as Amos Burton.