Actor Alan Tudyk is no stranger to comic book conventions, having made his name on series like “Firefly” and “Dollhouse” and lending his voice to “Young Justice,” “Superman: War” and many more. But where things get interesting is when art imitates life — with hilarious results as it does in his webseries “Con Man.”
The series stars Tudyk as Wray Nerely, the former star of “Spectrum,” a sci-fi show cancelled far too soon that garnered a cult following after it left the air. It also stars Nathan Fillion as Jack Moore, Nerely’s now way more famous former co-star and best friend. The action follows Wray as he hits the convention circuit and deals with how close he came to making it and the ups and downs that come with regret.
Now, the cancelled show-within-a-show at the heart of “Con Man” is getting closer to reality, taking the form of a brand new “Spectrum” comic debuting on Free Comic Day 2016. Tudyk and “Con Man” Executive Producer P.J. Haarsma are writing the four-issue series from Automatic Publishing with art by Sarah Stone.
Tudyk and Haarsma visited the CBR Speakeasy in North Hollywood to speak with Jonah Weiland about art imitating life and leading to new art, whether a comic book extension of “Con Man” was always in the cards and more. Tudyk also discusses his next big role, starring in this year’s hotly anticipated “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.”
In the first part of their conversation with CBR TV, Alan Tudyk and P.J. Haarsma chat about their webseries “Con Man” and its new comic book spinoff, “Spectrum.” The creative team discussed how they hadn’t planned to follow through with the comic until they received overwhelming support from fans in crowdfunding, addressed the fast-paced grind of working in the comics industry, and much more.
On whether making comics was always the plan:
P.J. Haarsma: It was always the plan.
Alan Tudyk: It was always the plan. We had a bunch of ideas like this and in the beginning we said, why don’t we just focus on “Con Man,” because that’s how people are going to be introduced to the world. “Spectrum” is the show within the show “Con Man.” That was the idea, that it was a science fiction show that was cancelled to soon. Nathan Fillion’s character and my character were in the show; Nathan’s character’s gone on to great success and I’m now going to conventions.
So we had talked about “Spectrum” as a comic book, graphic novel, a game, and we said, let’s just do “Con Man”. But when the crowdfunding kept going and fans kept supporting the project we had the opportunity to fund it all, and we’ve been doing it simultaneously.
Haarsma: It’s a lot of work.
Tudyk: It is.
On how long the “Spectrum” comic is planned to run:
Haarsma: I never knew how much work went into a comic book. I never how fast they put this together. That cycle that they crank is insane. So we’ve got four planned — the fourth ends where the book starts — and then we might swing back around and pick up the comic books again after that. There’s a whole arc where it goes… but right now just the four.
Tudyk: That’s the great thing about comic books, you can detour into stories. There’s so many different ways to tell the story, and there are so many different mediums to do that, and we’re doing a lot right now, so four comic books seems like a great number.
Haarsma: Yes, I agree.
Tudyk: Because the comic and the video, which is going t be coming out at Comic-Con in San Diego, and that’s…
Haarsma: That’s insane.
Tudyk: That’s big!
Haarsma: It’s gonna be so good.
Tudyk: It’s so much fun, it’s called “Con Man” the game.
In part two, “Con Man” star Alan Tudyk draws comparisons between the convention experiences of his character, Wray, and himself — commenting on some fans who don’t understand the concept of boundaries. Then, the conversation shifts to how Tudyk and “Con Man” Executive Producer P.J. Haarsma managed to get the series done while Tudyk was off filming “Star Wars: Rogue One.” The “Firefly” actor describes his excitement — and exhaustion — working on the “Rogue One” set.
On the intense grind of conventions, and how Tudyk’s character, Wray, illustrates that exhaustion:
Tudyk: Oh yes, well Wray does not appreciate the world that he’s in. He does not appreciate the fandom. He’s been doing it a little too long without supplemental acting work, which I’ve had the benefit of doing. So, cons have not become much of a depressing occurrence, they’ve been great. Especially, as we were doing “Con Man,” and the fans were so amazing as far as giving us money to make my dream come true.
I wasn’t able to go to a lot [of conventions] because I’m in “Rogue One” — I took six months out of my year to do “Star Wars” — whatever, “Star Wars.” [Laughter] But this year I’m going to be going to a lot.
Haarsma: There’s going to be our first “Con Man” booth at the San Jose [convention].
On what it means to star in “Rogue One” as a professional and a fan of Star Wars:
Tudyk: It’s amazing. Going to work — even though it’s difficult, you always hear that, film acting, there are moments where’s it’s very cold and you have to where something that isn’t necessarily warm, and 12 hours days or more. But when you’re doing “Star Wars” you’re looking around at all the magic that’s around you. And it sparks the kid in you, it immediately goes away. Or at least within an hour or two. At least around lunch it’ll go away. [Laughter]
Haarsma: A testament to Alan though was he left. We finished shooting; we did San Diego Comic-Con, then, ‘Okay, let’s edit this.’ He left, and started working on “Star Wars” 12 hours a day, come off set, look at the dailies, make his notes, send them back. We’d cut while he was sleeping. Wake up, go do “Star Wars…”
[to Tudyk] Wow buddy, I don’t know how you did that. How you didn’t burn out, I don’t know. You did an amazing job.
Tudyk: Yeah, it was an exciting time.
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