Summer Scrapbook 2010 Pt. II: Comic Con
September 10th, 2010
Though I was still jet-lagged from our whirlwind trip to Spain and performance of the Battlestar Galactica Symphony, Raya and I went down to Comic Con in San Diego a week after returning to the country. The past two years at Comic Con were extremely stressful, because I was involved in concert performances as well as panels. Since we’d already done our big BSG concert for the summer, in Tenerife, I was able to enjoy the con at my own pace and not have to worry about rehearsals, soundcheck or backstage passes.
The biggest event that week for me was probably the surprise announcement of my involvement in AMC’s exciting new series The Walking Dead. The post-zombie-apocalyptic series, based on Robert Kirkman’s beloved comic of the same name, is written / directed by Frank Darabont (Shawshank Redemption / Green Mile) and produced by Gale Anne Hurd (Terminator / Aliens / Incredible Hulk). I was in attendance at the panel simply because I wanted to see the response to the footage they were showing, and because I suspected that Frank was going to give me a shout out.
(L-R: Frank Darabont, Me & Robert Kirkman at the Walking Dead panel)
I had teased fans on Twitter and on my blog that a big announcement was coming, but I was unprepared for the audience reaction I was in store for. Check out the clip below to see what I mean. At around 4:30, Frank Darabont tells the crowd who their composer is. Before he even finishes saying my name, some dude screams “WHAAAAAT?!?!?!” It’s pretty awesome. I believe that’s what a “nerdgasm” sounds like:
(Thanks to TFAWvideos for posting these!)
I thought all I had to do at the panel was stand up and wave, but during the Q&A a fan asked a question about the score. So, Frank called me up to the stage to discuss the score. I couldn’t believe that suddenly I was sitting between Kirkman and Darabont at the Walking Dead panel!
The energy in the room was exhilarating. Everyone there clearly adored the comics and responded strongly to the trailer. It really made us all feel like we’re on the right track with this series. I’m a big fan of the comics myself, so I could share in their sense of relief and joy in seeing the trailer footage and realizing how good this series is going to be. I’m now nearly halfway done scoring the first season and I can say that it will live up to those very high expectations.
The other new project of mine to debut at Comic Con was The Cape. They screened the pilot at the panel and then brought out the producers, cast and composer.
This is extremely rare. In fact, I have never been invited to take part in the official Comic Con panel for any series I’ve ever worked on until this one. I think that indicates to you guys how seriously these producers take their music in this series.
Since the pilot was in an unfinished state, it didn’t actually include any of my original music in it (since none of it has been written yet). However, I spent the brief time I had during the Q&A to discuss my intentions for the series, which are to create an epic, sweeping orchestral score in the style of Shirley Walker’s ground-breaking music for Batman: The Animated Series.
On the panel I sat next to Summer Glau, who I haven’t seen since we worked together on Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. She and I caught up backstage, and discussed the other project we now have in common — director Joe Lynch’s heavy metal / horror film Knights of Badassdom. It would seem that producers and directors like to pair me and Summer together frequently. Fine by me. :)
The following clips are interviews with myself and showrunner / writer John Wirth (who also worked with Summer and I on T:TSCC). They give some more insight into what to expect from this cool series. First up, from NBC.com:
Futon Critic also got an interesting interview with us:
You guys will be hearing more about this series and its score as we get closer to its mid-season launch. The Cape will be a really exciting opportunity for me to compose the kind of epic superhero themes I’ve always adored. I think anyone who appreciates my music for Battlestar Galactica or Human Target will enjoy it.
I also appeared at Richard Hatch’s Battlestar, Caprica & Beyond panel, which is becoming a yearly tradition for me. I was there alongside writer / producer Michael Taylor, science advisor Kevin Grazier and Chief Tyrol himself, Aaron Douglas. Fans got an exclusive look at the “Wander My Friends” music video, which will be part of the forthcoming European BSG Season 4.5 Blu-Ray special features, along with 5 other songs from last year’s concert tour. (Don’t worry domestic BSG fans, I’m working on getting a full DVD release of all the songs hopefully early next year.)
The panel was a lot of fun because Richard opened it up to a Q&A right away, so we were able to interact with the crowd and answer their questions. I was (and will probably always be) amazed at the number of fan questions lobbed directly at me, about the music and creation of the score. I could chat about the music of BSG for hours, but it is always more fun to hear fans talk about what the score means to them. One idea I walked away from the panel with is that you guys are still very interested in seeing the BSG score performed in concert, which is good. Because we have plans. :)
Speaking of fan interaction, I took part in a unique web-cast interview that was a first for me. The interview was at the CAPCOM booth, but was not formerly moderated. Instead, we watched questions coming in from fans online in real time and answered them as they were asked. It was fun being interviewed by a bunch of hard-core gamers. I’ve never done an interview before where I ended up explaining why I like Mega Man IV and think its underrated in the NES canon.
The interview was shared with Mega Ran, a hip hop artist who I admit I hadn’t heard of before. He has made a reputation for himself by including samples of classic 8-bit videogame tunes in his songs. I knew right away that his music would be interesting. Actually, his album is really delightful and, since picking it up at the con, I’ve enjoyed it a lot. I also enjoyed hearing about his musical process and what inspires him to write a song. Wouldn’t it be neat if there were some sort of Bear McCreary / Mega Ran collaboration in the works? Hmm…
The video of our interview can be viewed online here, thanks to CAPCOM and ustream.tv:
I did a few other interviews while I was there. Original Sound Version, who I always enjoy talking with, asked me about Step Up 3D and my work on the upcoming Sony Playstation Title “SOCOM 4.” And I did an interview for Fandomania, discussing Eureka, BSG and various other projects.
Despite all the appearances and interviews, including a CD signing at the La La Land Booth, I still found plenty of time to wander around the con and bask in the weirdness. I enjoyed getting to talk to fans of so many different projects. In addition to the usual comments regarding BSG, many people were excited about the new season of Eureka, or the forthcoming SOCOM 4, the announcement of The Walking Dead or Terminator:The Sarah Connor Chronicles. I was shocked to have one fan gush over the Trauma score!
(One of Tony Stark’s Iron Women pulled me out of the crowd to get a picture taken!)
This year there was a lot of madness outside the convention center as well. Raya and I were getting lunch when the David Hasselhoff parade suddenly marches by the restaurant. He was promoting his new show, I guess, but was using the classic imagery and music of Knight Rider and Baywatch to get people’s attention. Inevitably, they blasted the iconic Knight Rider theme over the crowd.
It put a big smile on my face knowing that Stu Phillips’ immortal theme song was still so recognizable that Hasselhoff knew his show couldn’t be promoted without it. Hell, his whole career might be owed to that theme song. I was tempted to run out into the crowd and tell every single person “Hey! Stu Phillips wrote this!” As if writing the original Battlestar Galactica theme wasn’t enough, Stu had to write another immortal musical gem. (Check out this brief interview I did with Stu for more about his career.)
While seeing Hasselhoff charge down the street was certainly a surprise, the most interesting event occurred when a handful of anti-gay protesters brought signs and picketed across the street. While the natural inclination is to ignore these people, the Comic Con crowd did one better, and drowned them out in a sea of mock protest signs.
The throng of fans dwarfed the actual protesters, all while holding aloft signs like “God Hates Jedi” and “God Loves Gay Robin.” My personal favorite was “Superman Died For Your Sins.” (It’s true, you know.)
I was happy to see the geeks rise up against this sort of bigotry and intolerance. Speaking of which, I recently had a little skirmish with the so-called “Family Research Council,” who used my BSG music in their anti-gays-in-the-military online video propaganda. This was ironic because BSG so clearly endorses gays in the military. Click here to read my response. Then, I got NBC Universal’s lawyers involved with a nice “cease-and-frakking-desist” letter and they pulled down all their videos. (Nothin’ against free speech, but don’t steal my music when you speak for intolerance.)
On the topic of protest signs, we saw some amusing ones at the annual Zombie Walk. We’d seen this event once before, but it had new meaning for me now that I’m entering the zombie world with The Walking Dead. This event features a huge crowd of zombies who march through the streets in a somewhat orderly line. Many of them held signs such as “God Hates Brains,” or the delightfully funny “I Like Children They Are Tasty.”
We found a good corner on 5th street to hang out and watched them all walk by, just like a real parade. I will never forget the moment when a police squad car pulled up and blasted out from the megaphone: “ALL ZOMBIES PLEASE OBEY TRAFFIC SIGNS!” That’s one of those sentences you never think you’ll hear someone say.
We saw great zombies, but the most hilarious was the LOBSTER ZOMBIE. I’d love to know the motivation for this dude’s costume. The story I imagine is this: “Bob wanted to be in the Zombie Walk, but ran out of make-up after having completed only his eyes and nose. Desperate for a solution, he glances to his crumpled, red lobster costume. You see, every Thursday night he works at SHRIMP SHACK USA, waving a sign promoting their $12 bottomless lobster bucket meal. He hated the job, but now that costume would be his salvation! He puts the mask over his head. Brilliant! He doesn’t even need any more zombie make-up. Now he’s ready to walk…”
At the end of a long week, Raya and I stood on a balcony overlooking the main intersection at the convention center. Hundreds of fans strolled over the concrete littered with thousands of advertisements, flyers, bags, cards and posters, all smeared with the logos and images of countless tv shows, games and movies. The sight made me smile, because it summarized the con perfectly: fans come to consume the things they love until they can take no more, and the excess flows on to the floor. It’s the Thanksgiving Day meal of geekdom, but instead of declining extra portions of mashed potatoes, you’re turning down the 12th flyer for friggin’ Dragon Age 2 you’ve been offered in one day.
Raya and I were pretty full ourselves and knew it was time to hit the road. After travelling to Spain and back, and then experiencing nearly a full week of Comic Con madness, we were ready to head home and finally relax. However, there was still one more major event right around the corner, this one being the biggest and scariest of them all (taiko drum roll please!)… we were about to get married.
So Say We All!