Peter S. Svensson writes for Bleeding Cool.
See, this was the IDW Entertainment panel, dealing with the shows that IDW is producing themselves based on properties they are dealing with. Wynonna Earp, coming to Syfy next week is based on the IDW comic by Beau Smith. Dirk Gently is coming to BBC America, based (loosely) on the novels by Douglas Adams of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy fame, which IDW is also publishing comics by.
This panel had Wynonna Earp star Melanie Scrofano, and showrunner Emily Andras. It also had Max Landis, writer and showrunner for Dirk Gently. Ted Adams, CEO of IDW who quickly realized that he had completely lost control of the panel, also had producer Rick Jacobs and President of IDW Entertainment David Ozer theoretically on his side.
So of course, Max Landis was playing games by switching his placard with that of David Ozer and Rick Jacobs. The placard musical chairs was quite amusing to watch. Landis is a hoot. (And other words that I’m not using because IDW asked me to not go fully explicit with this article.)
This is taking a lot of editing.
David Ozer talked about how fans of IDW know that they have a great collection of IP and Content they publish, and how two years ago they formed a production studio to make TV shows based on IDW comics, with the goal of making long running series. The first success of this studio, Wynonna Earp will be premiering on Syfy, with a world premiere tomorrow night. And that Max Landis is working on the Dirk Gently series for BBC America, which just cast Elijah Wood.
Max Landis then burst out with “ELIJAH (Fudging) Wood! Can you believe it?!”
He did not actually say Fudging.
He did however explain that Dirk Gently, Holistic Detective didn’t even appear until about page 115 in the first book. As a holistic detective, he solves crimes using the fundamental connection of all things, allowing him to do whatever he wants and the crime will just solve itself. This is hot, hot bullsh-t. It is not how the universe works, it’s not how crime works. Dirk Gently has a secret. He’s psychic. “Have you seen Psych? IT’S NOTHING LIKE THAT!” He continued to explain that you have a man who is psychic but doesn’t really know it. He gets hunches and feelings, and every hunch he gets is right. How it works is another matter entirely.
He lamented casting women to play an assassin, and how each one would do a “safe and pretty” take on it, when what he really wanted was someone to inhabit the character and not care about how they looked when doing it. “I created a gross monster!” he explained.
Max then asked the audience about whether they liked the fifth Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy book, and I admitted that it wasn’t that good, that it was a fantastic series of four books. (If you haven’t noticed, I tend to interact with panels I cover. This makes me a poor journalist, but fun at parties!) He agreed that the last book wasn’t the best.
At this point, he has rewritten the stolen name placard in front of him to read: “Grant Morrison’s Larval Stage.”
The Dirk Gently series will premiere on BBC America on October 22 or 29th. Landis then stated that the show he’s writing has nothing to do with the comic that IDW publishes, or the novel by Douglas Adams. It’s like “Game of Thrones, but in the world of the Big Lebowski.” He explained that the show will feature many characters who appear unconnected at first, how they interact with each other becomes clear over time, and by the end most of them are dead. “Just like Modern Family.” digressed Landis, explaining that the cast of Modern Family are all dead inside, yet somehow the jokes are still funny! It’s as if they are being puppeteered. “It’s like season 7 of The Office.”
If you hadn’t picked up on this by now, Max Landis is an insane bundle of energy that can not be stopped, cannot be negotiated with, you must weather Hurricane Landis. Everyone else at the panel were sailors, at the mercy of where his brilliant and powerful winds would take them.
Emily Andras, showrunner for Wynonna Earp then got to speak. Wynonna Earp is the descendant of Wyatt Earp. He had a terrible secret, he crossed the wrong outlaw and was cursed. Every man he killed, whose death he was responsible for, rose from hell as a demon dedicated to killing his descendants. There were three Earp sisters in a small town. The middle one, Wynonna was a (fudge)-up, who left home. Something terrible happened to the eldest sister, and now Wynonna has to take her place. A major part of the series is the broken dynamics between Wynonna and her little sister “It’s like Buffy mixed with Frozen with the gore of Game of Thrones” quipped Andras.
Melanie was nervous to be dealing with her first panel. She fake swore using “Fudge!” which I have used to oh-so-creatively censor this article because the actor who plays Doc Holliday in the series got mad at her for swearing too much. She was nervous during the audition because the character was very similar to her in some respects that she really wanted the role.
Emily Andras explained that Melanie came to the audition with blonde hair, leather pants, and was chewing about a whole packet of gum. “It was like watching a chipmunk trying to be sexy and tough.”
The gun Melanie uses as Wynonna is “So big… its long but not too thick.” Seriously, it’s actually heavy, causing her difficulties in long takes to keep up the serious poses with it.
Michael Ecklund plays the villain in the series, and in one episode he got to use a flame thrower, the sort that goes 200 feet. People on set were using it to light their cigarettes. As you do.
The series films in Calgary, and the cold reached limits that would occasionally shut down production. Melanie “All the men had icicles on all their facial hair. It was UGLY and awesome!”
Andras explained that filming a western in the winter has the amazing additional aspect of danger from the elements. “You’re chasing a demon that’s one thing. You twist your ankle, and you’re dead.”
A fan asked Max Landis about his Mickey Mouse comic, Boy’s Night, and whether he finds it easy to find time to do non professional work anymore. Landis replied that everything he writes is part of his professional life, and he just. Never. Stops. Writing. His main problem is having too much on his plate, that he can’t write the things he wants to because he’s busy writing… the things he wants to.
He elaborated that Boy’s Night was written in about 20 minutes, once he figured out the scene of Donald, Goofy and Mickey sitting on the curb. He figured that after 70 years of friendship, those three would either be close friends of hate each other, and now they’re just not getting work anymore. Showing up on T-Shirts?
A fan tried to retort that Mickey’s been showing up in shorts lately, but Landis EXPLODED into how no one gives a shit about House of Mouse. “No one watches every Nicholas Cage movie these days.”
I’m not entirely sure how he got to that point.
Landis’s “American Alien” Superman comic is something he’d like to do more of, but currently he’s too occupied with Dirk Gently, whereas before he’d have just churned out more issues over two weeks. He’d want to do a Joker comic, and a Lois Lane comic as well though.
Max then explained how he was seduced to trying television where writers have more power and control, and then all of a sudden went from writing a pilot to being involved in never ending Sisyphian e-mail chains that require replies now, and auditions and locations and the show was filming in Edmonton but now it’s Louisiana but now it’s Vancouver and everything has to change accordingly depending on which actor they get and why didn’t you respond to the e-mail sent this morning? But it was five minutes ago! Still this morning! ARGH!
Emily is laughing her head off, as a veteran of all of this. She quipped. “Wait until editing starts.”
He mentioned that former Stargate SG1 producer Robert C. Cooper is working with him on Dirk Gently, and that aside from his writing, logistical, financial and other amazing talents, his strongest benefit to the project is looking like a normal human being, so that when Max gives a pitch to BBC America, they can turn to Cooper and he’ll assure them that it all makes sense and they don’t need to worry about the insanity spewing from Max Landis’ mouth.
“The show is Big Lebowski and True Romance and X-Files, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. Imagine that everything you liked (fudged)! This is their Bruce Willis Demi Moore (fudged-up) kid.”
Ted asked Emily if she ever thought about writing comics. She responded that she spoke with Wynonna creator, Beau Smith about how he can have a comic where a bunch of Gremlins destroy a jet, but she only has one gremlin, and he has to work the camera. She explained that in comics you can do anything. She compared it to animation, which friends of hers work on, where you can put the characters anywhere, but god forbid you change Scooby-Doo’s shirt…
This is where Max Landis burst out with “SCOOBY-DOO DOESN’T WEAR A SHIRT!”
Emily retorted with the totally not pulled out of her rear fact that in Canada he does.
Landis nodded in comprehension, adding (as if it all made total sense)“To cover up his profane dog nipples!”
That is a sentence I have written. It is something you have just read. I have shared this moment with you.
Landis then joked that they should act like they expect to at next year’s con, leading Emily to comment on how she won an Oscar for her show, which is so weird. Landis commented that for all good must come bad, so HEIL PRESIDENT TRUMP!
I have cut out parts of this panel that were even more insane. Trust me.
Another fan, someone who Max Landis recognizes on Twitter because he is part of the group of 40 people who rarely say anything anti-Semitic, asked how Landis would do Wonder Woman…
He explained that in his view, Wonder Woman is a flawed character. She doesn’t share this flaw with the other male Justice League members. How she was created to be cheesecake and exploitative, and that there’s yet to be a definitive Wonder Woman story. But that as a character, she’s meaner than Batman, smarter than Superman, almost as strong, but knows martial arts because Superman never needed to learn them, so then he gets ambushed by her using Navy Seal training. What Landis says he is interested in is creating a fundamentally awful version of the character than will piss off everyone, which is “SO MUCH FUN!” While he feels that his Superman’s only flaw is the limits of what he knows and that he makes impulsive choices, his Batman is essentially a monstrous sociopath, but who won’t kill because killing is wrong, his Wonder Woman would be really terrible, as she’d come from a society that hates men, she can kill anyone who argues with her and will, and while there’s a lot of interesting places to take this interpretation of the character, she’s from a society of warriors who “CUT THEIR BOOBS OFF” and who killed all the men, except the cute ones, bred with them and THEN killed them. How she is even on the Justice League amazes him, as he considers Wonder Woman to be the “sickest most bad ass punisher.” He then described a fight sequence where Superman and Batman have to team up to stop her, and after she brutally attacks them, leaving Superman almost missing an eye, Superman is finally able to defeat her by kissing her and sucking all the air out of her lungs.
“Never do that again.” Max stated in his best Batman voice.
Melanie was asked about her relationship in the show with Wynonna’s sister, Waverly. Melanie admitted that there was a jealousy between the sisters, something that is sort of reflected in real life in how both actors have a complicated working relationship where at times each will not feel good enough compared to the other.
Emily was asked about the gun used in the show. “Peacemaker. The actual name of the gun used by Wyatt Earp. It’s a 12 inch bluntline special, and it’s the only gun that can send these demons back to hell. They can be harmed by other means, but unless Wynonna puts them down with the magical gun that she’s not very good at using, they’ll get back up again. She’s like “giving a baby some dynamite.” Which is the premise of the comic she now wants to write at IDW. The demons of course want their hands on the gun, as it’s the only weapon that can permanently defeat them.
Melanie was asked about how similar she was to her character. She responded that while both she and her character are brave, she’d like to be braver. Likewise, Wynonna is great at doing what must be done even if it’s distasteful, but Melanie still hasn’t finished her taxes. She owes.
I asked Emily what she’d like to do with the show that the budget wouldn’t allow for.
“I would like to have a battle scene with more than 10 guys.” She used the massive battle of Helm’s Deep from Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films as something she’d like to do, but that in reality she is left with using overweight guys in fight scenes to give the illusion that there are more of them by just taking up more volume. The Canadian budget being lower means that they can’t buy as much. “You can cover Melanie’s taxes!” she joked.
The producers joked that she could have gotten the budget to do the sort of stunts she wanted had she only asked.
Emily responded that she is forced to write smarter and be more creative when she can’t just rely on spectacle, causing Max to chime in about how some writing gets lazy in as much as every script these days relies on a massive battle at the end as resolution.
“You have to get creative and get the characters.” said Emily, just as the panel ended.
Peter S. Svensson is still reporting on WonderCon 2016. If you see him, pat him on the head and tell him that everything is going to be alright.