THE LAST COMIC-CON STORY: 'Comic Book: The Movie' - a gathering of stars!

Mon, July 28th, 2003 at 12:00am PDT

TV Film
Rob Worley, Columnist

If there was one panel discussion at Comic-Con International in San Diego

that felt more like a party than any others it had to be the one for "Comic

Book The Movie."

Held after hours on Friday night of the Con, the "CB:TM" panel hosted

an all-star roster of guests and played to a packed room of screaming fans.

Mark Hamill, a fan favorite on many levels for both his roles as Luke

Skywalker in the original "Star Wars" movies and the Joker in the

"Batman" animated shows, was there as the director and star of CB:TM

and as the emcee to the night's events.

Stan Lee, who is featured in the movie, was also there to wow the crowd with

his usually hyperbole and charm.

Much of the cast of the film was there, including "Baywatch" babe

Donna D'Errico as well as many, many top names in animation voice talent: Billy

West of "Futurama" and "Ren & Stimpy," Roger Rose,

a.k.a. "Johnny Bravo," Jess Harnell of "Animaniacs," Daran

Norris of "Fairly Odd Parents," Debbi Derryberry, aka "Jimmy

Neutron," Jim Cummings, best known as "Winnie the Pooh" and Rob

Paulsen of "Pinky and the Brain" were all there.

The twist, though, is the identity of the final star of "CB:TM"

that had the fans screaming: the Comic-Con crowd itself. "CB:TM"

was filmed largely at last year's Comic-Con, and a show of hands revealed that

the majority of the people attending this year's panel were fans that got on

camera last year.

"We gotta get Comic-Con on film," said Hamill of his original

thoughts about making this movie. "It's just too wonderful not to put on

film. It's a wonderful back drop for something to happen."

From there the story evolved about Don Swan (played by Hamill), a long-time

fan who gets caught up in a Hollywood comic-to-film project involving his

favorite comic character, "Commander Courage."

Co-star Jess Harnell described the movie.

"[Hollywood producers] option this character from the golden age of

comic books, but they try to take it from being this very patriotic character

with a sidekick named Liberty Lad, and who's got to save the world from

evil...very patriotic, and turn it into Codename: Courage, who's a guy in a

black Kevlar jumpsuit with two Uzis and a chick in a rubber suit with him.

"The fans have an issue, so the studio decides to hire the world's

greatest authority on the old character, to sort of buy credibility with you

guys for this big movie," Harnell continued. "What they don' know is

this guy is the most subversive fan of all."

Swan then proceeds to disrupt the movie from within causing "the

unmaking of a major motion picture."

If "CB:TM" is as much fun as the panel, then the movie should be a

break-out hit on the home video market. Fans were treated to endless cartoon

voice impersonations, songs from the cast and so on.

Even the woman who was on stage providing sign language for the hearing

impaired got in on the act. Every speaker at the panel found some way to include

her: signing about Harnell's Howard Stern-like hair or Rob Paulsen's cartoon

noises. Stan Lee tried to talk as fast as he possibly could to try to trip her

up, but to no avail.

At another point Lee stopped in mid-sentence and started teasing the

interpreter. "I keep looking at her because she's so much more interesting

than what I'm saying and what I'm saying looks so glamorous when she does the

signs," Stan exclaimed. "I want her with me all the time!"

For Hamill, the movie is an homage to fandom. He said he dislikes the term

mockumentary, because it might make it seem as if he's mocking his subject.

Instead, he just wanted "CB:TM" to be a way to give comic fans the


"I always felt like I wanted to do a real documentary but I didn't want

to be encumbered with, like, facts," Hamill said.

The movie was also a chance to get acquainted with his own heroes.

"One of the things that was so great about this movie was being able to

talk to the people that admired so many years and loved so many years,"

Hamill said, paying particular attention to Lee. "I think what Stan gave us

in our childhood is something that even your parents couldn't give you in a way.

It was a special covenant and he made you feel like part of the team."

"Comic Book: The Movie" is due in video stores on November 11th.

For more information visit the

official website.

Also be sure to check out Don Swan's cable access show 24-7

TV and his online fanzine Once

Upon a Dime, devoted to Commander Courage. Don't forget to stop by Timely for up to date info on the "Codename: Courage" movie.

And for a nice wrap-up of the "CB:TM" dinner at Comic-Con check out

Daniel DeFabio's "My

Dinner with Stan Lee."

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