Saturday at MCM Comic Con London summer 2016: A laureate, a preacher and a few demons to boot.

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Saturday was a sold-out day for MCM Comic Con London. The day boasted some of the biggest names of the weekend while being filled with people enjoying their Bank Holiday weekend. There was some pretty outstanding panels this week, some of my favourites ever in fact. And it all started first thing in the morning.

Three phases of Dave Gibbons

Dave Gibbons is one of the most highly-regarded artists in the world of comics. The man has had a long and respected career working on iconic books such as Watchmen with fellow Brit Alan Moore, The Originals and The Secret Service – Kingsman. And he was the first comic laureate in the UK, being appointed in 2014. The man hardly needs an introduction, but a reminder of his achievements was key when revisiting his life and work during Saturday morning’s panel.

Joining Gibbons on stage was Robert Milazzo from the Modern School of Film in New York. The school set Gibbons with the task of naming three films that were influential in his life. The first from his childhood, was the Dinsey symphonic classic, Fantastia. 

The artist recalled his time going to see the movie alone when he was about 8 or 9 years old and crying during the film. He was inspired by the technical ability of it all and the film’s ability to create something that was a total experience (if perhaps not a constant narrative). The particular section he admired, was “Death of the Dinosaurs,” particularly the fusion of art and science. But a theme that Gibbons and Milazzo touched on was the unconscious and unregulated imagination both film and comics had early on, lending to some of the greatest creativity in the genres.

That ignorance of success is what Gibbons said allowed him to reach his greatest opus with Watchmen. He talked about how he and Moore really had no idea what their book was to become, but only focused on making what they believed would be the greatest comic they could make. This brought the conversation on to the second film, Nicolas Roeg’s 1985 film Insignificance, which Gibbons said influenced Watchmen in several ways. There was even a personal message from Roeg to Gibbons, remarking on how there is no such thing as a right or wrong way to do something, only the right and “another.”

When choosing his contemporary film, Gibbon’s choice was Guardians of the Galaxy, stating that Marvel had kept their act together and didn’t lose their nerve when taking the time to create small stories from within a single movie. His love of comics really showed through when discussing James Gunn’s film. His wide-eyed enthusiasm for the film brought the conversation full circle, with both men emphasising the way we love things when we are children.

It’s certainly a trait worth holding on to.

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Outcast cast and the best of Michael Cain impressions 

Outcast is one of several comic-book adapted shows that are heading to television this spring. The show, based on the Image comic book of the same name by The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman, follows a man who lives in a town filled with people battling demons – both literally and figuratively.

Several of the show’s stars were in attendance: Patrick Fugit, English actor Philip Glenister (of the excellent Ashes to Ashes and Life on Mars), Wrenn Schmidt, Kate Lyn Sheil and everyone’s favourite rib shack owner Reg E. Cathey.

Fugit plays Kyle Barnes, a character the blames himself for the strange going-ons in Rome, West Virginia. There is an element of him being haunted by these demons, but the show also explores his relationships (or lack thereof) with his family and others in the town he’s been hiding himself away from. It’s a slow, Southern thriller. Each actor reiterated the differences with Kirkman’s other show, The Walking Dead, saying that there was more horror than gore, and Fugit said while reading the script that he saw the scares were more unsettling than anything.

The cast also talked about their interactions off screen. Fugit learned to speak Northern from Glenister. Glenister also taught the Americans how to make “a props cuppa.” Though, strangely, he said that they always wanted to serve him cheese.

Fugit and Glenister also took a moment to show the audience their Tom Cruise and Michael Caine impressions, which was both amusing and impressive.

Both Sheil and Schmidt agreed that their characters were complex, and it was a sure sign of things improving for role options for females. Schmidt said that she particularly enjoyed her role as Megan because her plot wasn’t solely reliant on a male character’s, but was instead interwoven with one.

But when Cathey sells the show with, “It will interrupt your sleep,” it only solidifies that Outcast‘s future is going to be bright.

Outcast will premier on Cinemax and on Fox’s international channels abroad on June 3rd. It was also aired on Facebook Live in Europe on May 20th.

Though if you were lucky enough to be at MCM that weekend, there was showing of the pilot episode. From the first hour shown, the show makes a firm statement of its intentions. It’s a haunting, psychological show with an incredible cast of characters. While it has moments of violence and just plain horror, there are some moments that guarantee to make a viewer’s skin crawl.

Outcast has already been renewed for a second season, but with a first episode like that – it’s not at all surprising.

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Preacher: The Good, The Surprise and The Butthole. 

Also on Saturday was the ability to watch the entire first episode of AMC’s adaption of the Vertigo comic Preacher. After watching Outcast, it was clear that while the two shows had their similarities, no two shows could be more different.

Developed by Seth Rogan, Evan Goldberg and Breaking Bad‘s Sam Catlin, Preacher follows the story of preacher Jesse Custer (the always-gorgeous Dominic Cooper) in Texas, who has unusual powers after being possessed by an unknown entity. Like Outcast, both shows deal with religion and both are based on comic books. But the similarities stop there.

While Outcast thrives on its slow burn, Preacher throws all subtlety out the window. The story is bonkers, the actors are wacky as fun, but it is certainly one hell of a ride. The highly-stylised show acts as a prequel to the original Vertigo comic.

Not that anyone will have to choose between the two, but if you enjoy humour in the vein of the Evil Dead movies and cartoon violence is more your thing, Preacher will definitely be to your taste. It’s gross and absolutely hilarious.

Preacher airs in the UK on Amazon Prime each week. Episode 2 will air in June.

BUT

As the episode finished, a worker from MCM dashed to the stage to promise a surprise, and that surprise was none other than Preacher star Dominic Cooper.

The English actor talked about the pressures of being in such a highly-anticipated and long-awaited adaption of the comic. While he remembers many of his friends reading the comics when he was younger, the interest passed him by. Cooper said after reading the comics and the script, he was drawn into the show’s ability to jump from genre to genre while also being a debate about religion. An actor’s dream, according to him. It also reminded him of work that he loves dearly, such as early Twin Peaks. Though he also admitted that finding his character was a true challenge, but after reading about Jesse’s background in the script, he was able to understand the son of a preacher man more fully.

In a world that is in the golden age of television, Cooper says its fantastic that Preacher has come to life in this time. He believes that the characters and comic have hours worth of story worth telling. And in a place where there are many superheroes and comic book adaptions, Cooper believes that Preacher‘s distinctiveness will set it apart.

Preacher was another show with a really solid pilot. Hopefully the show continues on the path, and gets to see the light.
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And that’s day two in the books! Sunday at MCM brings the biggest panel yet, which includes Jesse Eisenberg, whose West End play The Spoils begins its run Saturday night. There is still plenty to see, and many actors are are having repeat panels, including Warwick Davis who is also promoting a show he is a part of called Eugenius. If anything, just go and spend time with some of the excellent interactive booths that are available. I know my friends and I particularly enjoyed the Preacher photobooth.

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Special shout out to Leila for being a real queen and sorting out my camera today and taking some great photos.

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