Since 2014, Indy PopCon has been bringing fans of all genres to Indianapolis to celebrate pop culture creations spanning all genres and media formats. The Indianapolis convention focuses heavily on creators, and it provides a platform for both amateur and professional creators to promote their work, connect with fans, and inspire future creators. The Indy PopCon organizers did a great job bringing artists from all forms of media to the Circle City including YouTube personalities, television and movie stars, artists, board game developers, video game developers, podcasters, writers, comic book artists, stop motion animation artists, and of course… cosplayers.
No convention would be complete without panels though… and PopCon had plenty of panels. There were panels for gaming, anime, YouTube broadcasting, podcasting, movie and television nostalgia, voice acting, cosplay, fantasy, and comics. Some of the panels were the usual sort where you get to know your favorite celebrities a little better, but a lot of them were tutorials on how to turn your passion into a career. I will focus on one of those in other article, but for this one, I am going to cover a few of celebrity panels that I really enjoyed.
Star Wars Celebration Panel
The Star Wars Celebration panel featured actor Greg Grunberg who played “Snap” Wexley in The Force Awakens, author Timothy Zahn, artist Joe Corroney, Marvel writer Roy Thomas, and Rebel Legion/501st guru Matt Hofmann. The panel was hosted by Star Trek actor (yes, I said Trek) Garrett Wang who played Ensign Harry Kim in Voyager.
Greg Grunberg spoke about how fortunate he is to be good friends with J.J. Abrams and his experience in filming The Force Awakens. “Star Wars was the first movie I saw as a kid that changed everything for me,” Grunberg stated as he recalled how surreal it was for him to be on the Millennium Falcon set for the first time. Of course just like we all would, even with the strict security and no cell phone policy on the set, he managed to sneak his phone in and snap a few photos of the Falcon for himself.
Roy Thomas gained the envy of the entire panel when he revealed that his first screening of the original Star Wars movie was in George Lucas’ house. Although, he admitted that it was before the special effects had been added to the film. There were no laser blasts drawn in yet, and James Earl Jones’ voice had not been added to Darth Vader. So instead of Vader’s menacing tone, he heard the muffled Scottish accent of David Prowse. Another nugget of information from Thomas is that when he asked George Lucas about what takes precedent when it comes to Star Wars lore… the books, comics, or movies, Lucas responded, “The movies are gospel, everything else is just gossip.”
Timothy Zahn spoke about his experiences in writing the Thrawn series, and how he writes his story first then fits in the pieces of the existing Star Wars universe around his work. The characters in his books are his original creations that are then melded with the canon. When he was asked if the Thrawn name was created around his own last name, he said it was not, and that Thrawn is actually Scottish for “twisted”.
Comic Book Men Podcast Recording
Two of the Comic Book Men were at the convention, and for their panel they decided to record a podcast. Mike Zapcic and Ming Chen joined special guests from the comic book world Sam Ellis (Adventure Time) and Erik Burnham (Ghostbusters). Mike and Ming brought their usual wit and seemingly endless knowledge of every comic book series, issue number, artist, and writer.
They spoke about their experience on the show, and how most of the stuff that people try to sell, they have to turn away. As you would expect if you watch the show, Mike went on a couple of hilarious opinionated rants and Ming kept poking the bear to get him going again.
Revenge of the Nerds Panel
Two of the original nerds were in the house and they hosted a panel to share their experience in filming the 1984 classic Revenge of the Nerds. Robert Carradine (Lewis) and Curtis Armstrong (Booger) shared the stage for a panel hosted by Garrett Wang to give us the inside details of their experience. Armstrong revealed that he originally auditioned for the part of Lewis, would have been happy to play Gilbert, or even Poindexter, but he most definitely did not want to play Booger. As a classically trained actor, he couldn’t see himself playing a nose-picking, burping slob such as Booger, but he reluctantly took the part. Armstrong has a book called Revenge of the Nerd: Or . . . The Singular Adventures of the Man Who Would Be Booger that will be released on July 11th that recounts their experiences in more detail.
Surprisingly, we also learned that a lot of the script was improvised. According to Armstrong, director Jeff Kanew would tell cast members to work on a scene while others were being completed. Robert Carradine talked about how the one thing about his part that he could not figure out was how to perform Lewis’ honking laugh. He had procrastinated as long as he could when he finally confessed to the director that he had no idea how to perform it. The director suggested that he ask actor James Cromwell, who played his dad in the film, because Cromwell had apparently mastered it. Carradine went to Cromwell the night before shooting, learned the technique, and the rest is history.
These are just a few of the highlights of the panels at Indy Popcon. There were many more that I wish I could have attended, but between the vendors, cosplayers, and artists, there was plenty to do. Congratulations to the organizers for putting together a fantastic convention! If you attended the con, tell us what you thought of it in the comments!