Comic-Con Panel Discussions: A Report

By Gabe Delahaye / July 23, 2010

I still don’t get it, but now I kind of get it! This morning, Max and I actually attended a COMIC-CON PANEL. Wow! American Heroes, I’m sure. The panel was for Bob’s Burgers, a new animated series from Loren Bouchard (Dr. Katz, Home Movies, Lucy: Daughter of the Devil) premiering on FOX in January. The show stars Kristen Schaal, Eugene Mirman, Jon Benjamin, Dan Mintz, and John Roberts, and the first seven minutes that they showed at the panel was very very funny. Not just in the way that I like the people in it and am hopeful and supportive of their new project, but in the way that I laughed a lot and really enjoyed it. But more importantly: panels! The real Comic-Con experience. I still really do not understand the appeal to a living human being with emotions and priorities of standing in line for 19 hours to watch a trailer in an overcrowded nightmare room that is simultaneously made available on Yahoo! But because the Bob’s Burgers panel was smaller (and very poorly promoted in that the official listings did not even mention that any of the show’s stars would be in attendance), it was completely civil and respectful of human dignity. If the whole convention was like this, I might even begrudgingly admit that it was NOT a shameful and misguided way for someone to spend their time! MIGHT.

The people in attendance were excited and enthusiastic, and being in a room full of excited and enthusiastic people is ENJOYABLE. And while Jon Benjamin and Kristen Schaal are huge stars in their own right, one could imagine the electricity of this Aggressive Public Expressions of Fan Sentiment magnified in the presence of, say, Stone Cold Steve Austin, or whoever is in Tron. As I mentioned, the first seven minutes of the show were great, and again, if things were conducted in a manner that acknowledged the things that make us human rather than blinded, inexhaustible cattle, then the experience of getting a sneak peak at a thing that might interest you could be very exciting and rewarding indeed. After some banter from the cast and creators, the floor was opened up to questions. This is where things got VERY intense and VERY Comic-Con. Like, the first person gave a nerve-wracking story about her own experiences in life with having a baby voice (?!) and then applauded Kristen Schaal for just being herself. But again: I suppose that is kind of the point of this whole thing, right? In theory, it is a giant safe place for the outcasts. A safe place that is theoretically so safe that you could even think the professional comedians on a TV show were like you.

Of course, it was when the free t-shirts were thrown into the crowd that people REALLY lost their shit. Which was made even funnier by the fact that everyone was going to get a free t-shirt as they left the room. But, you know, the people who caught the shirts definitely got them a few minutes before everyone else. So congratulations to those guys.

I still do not understand the Hall H mentality, or the people who are clearly here with their family for their annual summer vacation to Comic-Con. And yet, after a good night’s sleep, some humble resignation, and a glimpse into the way the world could be if you were able to stroll into a conference room moments before a panel discussion and sit in a chair like a HUMAN MAN, it is less of a waking nightmare. And with everyone cheering and grasping at the air because the cast of a cartoon they haven’t even seen yet are throwing Hershey’s Kisses into the crowd, I almost get it, even.

Almost.