If there was one panel discussion at Comic-Con International in San Diegothat felt more like a party than any others it had to be the one for "ComicBook The Movie." Held after hours on Friday night of the Con, the "CB:TM" panel hostedan all-star roster of guests and played to a packed room of screaming fans.
Mark Hamill, a fan favorite on many levels for both his roles as LukeSkywalker in the original "Star Wars" movies and the Joker in the"Batman" animated shows, was there as the director and star of CB:TMand as the emcee to the night's events.
Stan Lee, who is featured in the movie, was also there to wow the crowd withhis usually hyperbole and charm.
Much of the cast of the film was there, including "Baywatch" babeDonna D'Errico as well as many, many top names in animation voice talent: BillyWest of "Futurama" and "Ren & Stimpy," Roger Rose,a.k.a. "Johnny Bravo," Jess Harnell of "Animaniacs," DaranNorris of "Fairly Odd Parents," Debbi Derryberry, aka "JimmyNeutron," Jim Cummings, best known as "Winnie the Pooh" and RobPaulsen of "Pinky and the Brain" were all there.
The twist, though, is the identity of the final star of "CB:TM"that had the fans screaming: the Comic-Con crowd itself. "CB:TM"was filmed largely at last year's Comic-Con, and a show of hands revealed thatthe majority of the people attending this year's panel were fans that got oncamera last year.
"We gotta get Comic-Con on film," said Hamill of his originalthoughts about making this movie. "It's just too wonderful not to put onfilm. It's a wonderful back drop for something to happen."
Co-star Jess Harnell described the movie.
"[Hollywood producers] option this character from the golden age ofcomic books, but they try to take it from being this very patriotic characterwith a sidekick named Liberty Lad, and who's got to save the world fromevil...very patriotic, and turn it into Codename: Courage, who's a guy in ablack Kevlar jumpsuit with two Uzis and a chick in a rubber suit with him.
"The fans have an issue, so the studio decides to hire the world'sgreatest authority on the old character, to sort of buy credibility with youguys for this big movie," Harnell continued. "What they don' know isthis guy is the most subversive fan of all."
If "CB:TM" is as much fun as the panel, then the movie should be abreak-out hit on the home video market. Fans were treated to endless cartoonvoice impersonations, songs from the cast and so on.
Even the woman who was on stage providing sign language for the hearingimpaired got in on the act. Every speaker at the panel found some way to includeher: signing about Harnell's Howard Stern-like hair or Rob Paulsen's cartoonnoises. Stan Lee tried to talk as fast as he possibly could to try to trip herup, but to no avail.
At another point Lee stopped in mid-sentence and started teasing theinterpreter. "I keep looking at her because she's so much more interestingthan what I'm saying and what I'm saying looks so glamorous when she does thesigns," Stan exclaimed. "I want her with me all the time!"
For Hamill, the movie is an homage to fandom. He said he dislikes the termmockumentary, because it might make it seem as if he's mocking his subject.Instead, he just wanted "CB:TM" to be a way to give comic fans thespotlight.
The movie was also a chance to get acquainted with his own heroes.
"One of the things that was so great about this movie was being able totalk to the people that admired so many years and loved so many years,"Hamill said, paying particular attention to Lee. "I think what Stan gave usin our childhood is something that even your parents couldn't give you in a way.It was a special covenant and he made you feel like part of the team."
"Comic Book: The Movie" is due in video stores on November 11th.For more information visit theofficial website.
Also be sure to check out Don Swan's cable access show 24-7TV and his online fanzine OnceUpon a Dime, devoted to Commander Courage. Don't forget to stop by TimelyStudios.com for up to date info on the "Codename: Courage" movie.And for a nice wrap-up of the "CB:TM" dinner at Comic-Con check outDaniel DeFabio's "MyDinner with Stan Lee."