By Michael Varrati
As VideoInk’s resident pop culture guru, there was little question that I was going to attend the revered San Diego Comic-Con. A behemoth of geek culture, SDCC is an unapologetic, five-day celebration of fandom that allows devotees to immerse themselves in what they hold so dear.
As such, this unbridled enthusiasm also applies to aspects of the digital space. When I wasn’t schilling my own films or spotting stormtroopers mingling with Sailor Scouts, I kept my eyes open for all the digital world had to offer Comic-Con, and I’m proud to say there was plenty. Beyond simply spotting the likes of iJustine, Khail Anonymous, Shane Dawson, and Rooster Teeth in the crowd, here’s what else the digital world had up its sleeve at SDCC:
Kaboom Studios and Cartoon Hangover:
Ongoing throughout the weekend, Kaboom Studios, which publishes the comic versions of several Cartoon Hangover properties, played host to the talents behind several of CH’s top YouTube shows. The impact of animation in the digital space was all but proven when the team from one of Cartoon Hangover’s newer products, “Bee and Puppycat,” came to the table, and the line of fans waiting to meet them extended for rows down the convention hall.
While visiting the table, I had the good fortune of meeting John Omohundro, the voice of Danny from Pendleton Ward’s “Bravest Warriors.” Omohundro was inundated with admirers, but took a minute to express his admiration for the project, telling me it was “fun to be part of something so edgy.”
Freddie Wong and Satu Rana:
On Thursday morning, a panel titled “Taming the Web: The Nuts and Bolts of Web Series Creation,” featuring Freddie Wong and Satu Runa, got into the nitty gritty of making narrative content for a digital audience. Furthermore, the panelists offered up tips and tricks to aspiring web series creators who may be hopeful about starting their own channel.
Later that day, Wong joined the team from Nerdist in PetCo Park for a live Facerockers podcast and LazerTag showdown, making himself essentially the digital MVP of SDCC.
Pemberley Digital, Geek & Sundry, and More:
On Friday afternoon in the marina park behind the convention center, YouTube’s literary elite hosted a meet-up of epic proportions. Cast and crew members from such popular shows as “Emma Approved,” “Classic Alice,” “Peter & Wendy,” and Geek & Sundry’s “Talkin’ Comics” all made appearances to cut-up with fans and each other. Organized by “Peter & Wendy”’s own Paula Rhodes, the meet-up was a welcome dose of sunshine in an otherwise convention hall-filled weekend. In the crowd, I spotted “Classic Alice” stars Kate Hackett and Chris O’Brien sharing a laugh, “Emma Approved”’s Dayeanne Hutton making a daisy chain out of legit daisies, and cameo from Anna Lore, the star of Pemberley Digital/PBS’s upcoming “Frankenstein M.D.”
At Machinima’s panel Saturday, the MCN unleashed a presentation of their Happy Hour channel. Highlighting “after hours” animation, Machinima provided a clip show of upcoming and popular favorites such as “Action Faction,” “Prison Pit,” “Late Night Snack,” and “Hail to the King.”
Following this montage, a well-curated panel of talent took the stage to discuss animation creation in the digital space. Moderated by Happy Hour’s own Lon Strickland, the discussion group consisted of Jon Schnepp (“Metalocalypse,” “Hail to the King”), Mike Parker (“Sonic for Hire,” “Morty Kombat”), Mike William (the voice of Sonic in “Sonic for Hire”), Tyler Rudolph (“Happy Hour Saloon”), and Greg Franklin (creator of “Late Night Snack,” creative director of Six Point Harness & Rug Burn YouTube Channel).
As expected with this group, conversation got wacky. However, Tyler Rudolph brought the point of Happy Hour’s success home by mentioning that the internet gave both him, and really everyone on the panel, “a chance” to do what they wanted to do and create what they wanted to create.
Machinima was further represented throughout the weekend by their creators on-site, including Wayside Creations and Bat in the Sun, as well as continuing coverage of SDCC by the team at Machinima ETC.
Angry Video Game Nerd:
- James Rolfe, aka the Angry Video Game Nerd, dropped by the Saturday evening Troma panel to dish on his new film (appropriately titled “Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie”), and to talk about the organic nature of fostering an audience in the digital realm.
Lloyd Kaufman, filmmaker and president of Troma, emphasized the importance of net neutrality for the independent artist, and discussed how, without a free internet, voices like Rolfe’s may never have had the chance to rise up and be heard. In addition to having appeared in a hugely popular episode of Angry Video Game Nerd, Kaufman has long been an advocate for creation in the digital space, making Troma the first of any studio to upload entire movies from their back catalogue onto sites like Hulu and YouTube (for free, no less) in the early days of cross-media promotion.
Naturally, Comic-Con is huge, so I’m sure there are digital/YouTube-oriented events I missed. If I didn’t mention your favorite SDCC digital space happening, share it below in the comments, or tweet us about it @VideoInkNews!