If there was one panel discussion at Comic-Con International in San Diego
that felt more like a party than any others it had to be the one for “Comic
Book The Movie.”
Held after hours on Friday night of the Con, the “CB:TM” panel hosted
an 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 Luke
Skywalker in the original “Star Wars” movies and the Joker in the
“Batman” animated shows, was there as the director and star of CB:TM
and as the emcee to the night’s events.
Stan Lee, who is featured in the movie, was also there to wow the crowd with
his usually hyperbole and charm.
Much of the cast of the film was there, including “Baywatch” babe
Donna D’Errico as well as many, many top names in animation voice talent: Billy
West of “Futurama” and “Ren & Stimpy,” Roger Rose,
a.k.a. “Johnny Bravo,” Jess Harnell of “Animaniacs,” Daran
Norris of “Fairly Odd Parents,” Debbi Derryberry, aka “Jimmy
Neutron,” Jim Cummings, best known as “Winnie the Pooh” and Rob
Paulsen 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 that
the majority of the people attending this year’s panel were fans that got on
camera last year.
“We gotta get Comic-Con on film,” said Hamill of his original
thoughts about making this movie. “It’s just too wonderful not to put on
film. It’s a wonderful back drop for something to happen.”
From there the story evolved about Don Swan (played by Hamill), a long-time
fan who gets caught up in a Hollywood comic-to-film project involving his
favorite comic character, “Commander Courage.”
Co-star Jess Harnell described the movie.
“[Hollywood producers] option this character from the golden age of
comic books, but they try to take it from being this very patriotic character
with a sidekick named Liberty Lad, and who’s got to save the world from
evil…very patriotic, and turn it into Codename: Courage, who’s a guy in a
black 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’s
greatest authority on the old character, to sort of buy credibility with you
guys for this big movie,” Harnell continued. “What they don’ know is
this guy is the most subversive fan of all.”
Swan then proceeds to disrupt the movie from within causing “the
unmaking of a major motion picture.”
If “CB:TM” is as much fun as the panel, then the movie should be a
break-out hit on the home video market. Fans were treated to endless cartoon
voice impersonations, songs from the cast and so on.
Even the woman who was on stage providing sign language for the hearing
impaired got in on the act. Every speaker at the panel found some way to include
her: signing about Harnell’s Howard Stern-like hair or Rob Paulsen’s cartoon
noises. Stan Lee tried to talk as fast as he possibly could to try to trip her
up, but to no avail.
At another point Lee stopped in mid-sentence and started teasing the
interpreter. “I keep looking at her because she’s so much more interesting
than what I’m saying and what I’m saying looks so glamorous when she does the
signs,” Stan exclaimed. “I want her with me all the time!”
For Hamill, the movie is an homage to fandom. He said he dislikes the term
mockumentary, 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 the
“I always felt like I wanted to do a real documentary but I didn’t want
to be encumbered with, like, facts,” Hamill said.
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 to
talk 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 us
in 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 the
Also be sure to check out Don Swan’s cable access show 24-7
TV and his online fanzine Once
Upon a Dime, devoted to Commander Courage. Don’t forget to stop by Timely
Studios.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 out
Daniel DeFabio’s “My
Dinner with Stan Lee.”
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