Friday was a lot less hectic than Thursday. I finished Deathly Hallows just after breakfast and decided to skip the big movie-news panels.
In fact, I spent a lot more time on the convention floor on Friday. The floor is organized with the TV/movie exhibitors on one end and the comics companies and retailers on the other. I did have some back-issue needs (got 80% of Jack Kirby’s 2001!) and wanted to get some toys, so I used the quiet time before the big crush of people to scout around and come up with some strategery.
But you don’t want to hear about that. I left the floor at about 11:15 to head upstairs for the “Grim Adventures Of Billy & Mandy”/”Foster’s Home For Imaginary Friends” panel at 11:30. I’m only a casual Billy & Mandy fan, but my wife and I love Foster’s.
On the panel were Keith Ferguson, voice of Bloo; Tom Kenny, voice of Eduardo; writer/producer Lauren Faust; and creator Craig McCracken. Here’s what I learned:
– Ferguson originally based Bloo’s voice in his experience voice-matching Owen Wilson. The panel described the current Bloo voice as “Owen Wilson’s hyper kid brother.” Ferguson brings a powerful intangible quality to Bloo’s performance — many other actors’ auditions made Bloo sound completely unsympathetic.
– Kenny described Eduardo perfectly as “a Spanglish Cookie Monster,” but his original conception was as more of a Latin lover. Kenny observed that he tends to play “sweet but stupid” characters, and Eduardo fits that mold pretty well. The core of Ed’s personality is basically a 4-year-old girl. Kenny originally read for Mr. Harriman, using much the same harrumphing accent that Tom Kane now voices.
– Frankie is based on Lauren Faust, who said she and McCracken used their experiences rescuing stray dogs to inform their approach to Foster’s. The series also owes a lot to “The Muppet Show.”
– When asked what Mac would do without Bloo, McCracken said Mac would probably just stay in his room all day. If the situation were reversed, and Bloo were without Mac, Bloo would probably end up destroying the world. Kenny compared Bloo and Mac to Winnie-the-Pooh and Christopher Robin, except that Bloo is “Pooh on crack.”
– Ferguson’s favorite episode involved the first appearance of Bloo’s alter ego, the tall, top-hatted, mustachioed “Orlando Bloo.” Kenny’s favorite introduced Eduardo’s puppy. Faust’s was “Room with a Feud,” where the imaginary friends compete for a single room. McCracken is just happy to finish an episode and be satisfied with it, but he does enjoy “Mac Daddy” (first appearance of Bloo’s “brother” Cheese) and “Squeeze The Day” (Mac and Bloo alone in the house; born out of the animators’ plea not to have to animate a house full of friends).
– Speaking of Cheese, the panel confirmed that he was inspired by that kid from A Christmas Story who intones “I like The Wizard of Oz. I like the Tin Man.”
– Season 5 premieres in the fall, and Season 6 is in production. Season 5 will feature an episode told from Bloo’s point of view, in which we see how Bloo sees himself. That episode came out of a meeting McCracken had with Mattel toymakers who wanted an action figure to “compete with Spider-Man.” McCracken decided to “let Bloo design his own action figure,” which would have a jet pack, a robot arm, and a really cool guitar.
– When asked about a Powerpuff Girls crossover, McCracken said that the two series don’t really exist in compatible environments, but next year is the Powerpuff Girls’ 10th anniversary and he and Cartoon Network have been talking about how to celebrate it. (In fact, the episode “Challenge of the Superfriends” includes a few obvious Powerpuff Girls references.)
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Went back to the floor, caught up with John and Carla, introduced them to Bully, met Larry Young and talked to Adam Beechen, went to the DC Nation panel, and took in Doctor Strange.
Doctor Strange was, as Carla explained, both faithful to the J. Michael Straczynski miniseries from a few years ago, and a big departure from the comics. With regard to the latter, the movie makes Mordo and Wong both part of a team of the Ancient One’s disciples, who go out on missions trying to destroy Dormammu’s monsters. Dormammu is a giant flaming energy-thing with a head like a Balrog. It’s not a bad movie by any means — its look is reminiscent of “Aeon Flux,” and its music is very good — but Strange does a lot of swordfighting and martial arts, there’s no Cloak of Levitation, and the familiar costume is only seen in shots from the comics. It did make me want to break out the Essential Defenders Vol. 3 I’d brought with me, so I went back to the hotel, read a few issues, and went to bed.