Comic Con: Name Dropping Part I

By Phil Plait | July 29, 2009 12:21 pm

I am, in the end, a fan boy.

Being at Comic Con was wonderful on many levels. Moderating two panels was terrific, and made me feel like a rock star. Hanging with friends is always cool, and the exhibit hall — as large as a football field — was mesmerizing and awesome.

But I’m a fan boy. A lot of the folks deemed "celebrities" at Comic Con have produced something that has meaning to me. Sometimes, sure, it’s fluff, and other times it has depth. Either way, it has affected me, and I know it has others as well. That’s why I want to point out a few people I was able to connect with. I fully admit that at some level this is name dropping, but that implies wanting to bask in reflected glow, but in this case I think it’s more of a tribute to people who have affected me. If you still feel squeamish about this, then I suggest going elsewhere for a while.

First off, I want to thank everyone who came up and talked with me. One of the best parts of going to these conventions is meeting everyone. Skepticism is a tough, tough fight, and so a show of support from people means the world to me. Without that it’s like watching a tsunami plow over you. Knowing so many people have my back is heartening. I know where I rank on the Comic Con Scale, so it was very flattering when people came up to me to shake my hand or tell me they liked the books and the blog. And if they didn’t they didn’t tell me, and for that I’m grateful as well.

Next, hanging with the Mythbusters was invigorating. That show has done more for spreading skeptical and scientific thinking than anything I have ever been able to do, so it was an honor to be a part of it, even tangentially. I rarely get a chance to see My Close Personal Friend Adam Savage™ because he’s so busy, but he’s a good man and any time with him is better than none.

Walking the exhibit floor was surreal.
We stumbled on Naoko Mori and John Barrowman from Torchwood, a Doctor Who spinoff and something that seems to have really found its footing recently. It was a monster pleasure to meet the guys from Rifftrax –Michael Nelson, Bill Corbett, and Kevin Murphy, late of MST3K, the men who kept me sane during grad school. Meeting them (and holy crap, Veronica Belmont, who was live-riffing with them!) was amazing. I also got a chance to talk to DC Comics writer Gail Simone, a woman made of win with whom I have exchanged emails many times but never seen before in meat space. She was terrific, as was her husband. I was able to see Wil Wheaton for a few minutes, and he is as warm and wonderful as always, sustaining my man crush at least until we meet again.

I have to give two special shout outs. One goes to Brea Grant, who is adorable and wonderful and let us tag along to a weird Hollywood-like party where we got lunch and free hats. The other goes to Zach Weiner who pens Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, my favorite web comic. It’s skeptical and snarky and scientific, and after our mutual treacly admiration for each other was complete, he gave me a signed copy of one of my favorite cartoons. Awesome. Put him in your feed reader now.

Saturday night was the swanky Entertainment Weekly/SyFy Channel party. I was able to get in due to the yeoman’s work of a friend I won’t name so that (s)he won’t get inundated by requests from other riffraff like me. But I will thank this person right here, because that party was incredible.

One of the first people I saw was Felicia Day, star of Dr. Horrible, and the web video phenom The Guild. She was clearly the Belle of the Comic Con Ball and I was thrilled she was at the party. She had just announced that Wil Wheaton was joining the cast of The Guild that day, which filled me with glee.

I got a chance to chat with her for a few minutes, which was too cool. She’s very sweet and approachable. And then Alan Tudyk walked up! I leaned over to Felicia and said "Introduce me!" and lo, she did.

Squa. Wee. He didn’t know me from anyone else, and I saw him getting his picture taken with lots of other fans, but geez, Alan Tudyk! Wash! His role on Firefly was simply amazing, and seeing him was an honest thrill.

I was star struck quite a bit, but I think the best fun was talking to so many writers. My people! I was gratified to find out how many would admit to working without pants on, a time-honored tradition. I talked with a whole pile of writers from "Warehouse 13" and other shows, which was too much fun. I heard stories of science gone wrong, production gone wrong, writing gone wrong. That was fun, and made me realize that blogging is not so ignoble as some would have you believe.

One thing that was particularly cool was that I got a chance to chat for several minutes with Anna Torv from "Fringe", who was just as nice and open as she could be. I had been keeping my eyes open for her during the whole convention, because she was the voice and model for the main character for the video game Heavenly Sword, which my daughter The Little Astronomer loves. TLA had drawn a picture of the character (I know she’s my daughter, but I have to say she’s quite a talented artist) which I had carried around the whole time Just In Case. I asked, and Ms. Torv graciously signed it, which sent TLA into heaven when I brought home the drawing. I found Ms. Torv to be a real person, something to be cherished in Hollywood.

And the night went on. I wound up dancing a bit with Felicia and — I kid you not — Joss Whedon. I walked past Hayden Panettiere, who threw herself on me… oh wait, no, she ignored me completely. That’s right, I remember now. So much for that.

Eventually, it was time to go. I started making the rounds, saying goodbye to old friends and new ones I had just made. I was just about ready to leave, when who do I see… but Seth MacFarlane.

Holy Haleakala! He created "Family Guy", and is an outspoken skeptic! I decided to press my rock star status that evening, and walked right up to introduce myself. I said I was President of the JREF, and that we were very, very big fans of his. He responded, "I love James Randi! I’m an outspoken skeptic!" and I said, "Yes, we’re very very big fans of yours," which got a laugh (I made Seth MacFarlane laugh! Aiiieee!). And then he agreed to get a picture with me:

At that point I had to leave for sure, as it was well past 1:30 and I had to be alive the next day. Reluctantly I headed out, knowing the day was done.

So that was my day of rock stardom and a chance to make contact with people I truly respect and admire… except I’ve left off one thing, a small thing really, but it’s enough to get its own post. So stay tuned for Part II.


Comments (35)

  1. dhtroy

    Living vicariously through your eyes Phil …

    Felicia Day.


  2. Sili

    I think I know (of) exactly one of those people …

  3. That picture just made my day. Hell, it made my week.

  4. Chris M

    Minor side-point, they have shot a lot of Warehouse 13 footage in my office building (a converted warehouse in Toronto, Ontario, Canada).

    I had the “unfortunate” experience of running into Tricia Helfer in the stairs one day. (I think she was in a first-season episode or two)

    Yes, I know this has little to do with this post, but I rarely see anyone ever mention the show.

  5. Christine P.

    Sounds like a party full of awesome! My jealousness knows no bounds. :)

  6. TomHandy

    Speaking of comics and astronomy, I’m curious what you make of Neal Adams and his crazy hollow earth stuff (see here: )

    The thing I’ve found is that it’s really sort of impacted my enjoyment of his work – I mean, his art on Batman and Green Lantern is some of my favorite of all time, but knowing his crazy anti-science views, I have a hard time ignoring them whenever I see him or see his art.

    I guess it’s one of those things where sometimes you need to learn to separate the artist/creator from their unrelated beliefs (and it’s not like his woowoo science has anything at all to do with his abilities as an artist), but still, I’d be curious what you think of it.

  7. SQUEE! I love it when I see the people I respect for whatever reason go all fanboy/girl them self. It causes me to respect them even more as it is proof (in my brain at least) that they are normal people and have not let their own “celebness” cause them to be aholes.

    I so wish I could have been there. I had a couple friends take pictures and vid of the panels you were a part of, still waiting for them however.

  8. Envy. I envy.

    This is so awesome. I hope you didn’t embarrass us by asking Seth McFarlane to do Stewie ūüėČ . I’m sure he gets that request all the time.

  9. Canada Jeff

    Being a fan boy ain’t so bad. That last picture of Phil with Seth McFarlane made me smile. Phil’s got the same goofy OMG! OMG! OMG! grin on his face as I do in my picture with Adam Savage from TAM. Further proof that Dr. Phil’s just a regular schmoe with an extraordinary job!

    Glad you had fun, Phil! Thanks for sharing it with those of us who couldn’t attend.

  10. Cool.
    Oh just because the writers do not work with pants does not mean you have to.

  11. So very cool, on many levels. And when you make someone laugh and that someone is a funny person – one of the best things ever. Once upon a time I made Tommy Chong laugh when I did paging work for That 70s Show. Silly as it may seem, it remains one of my most cherished memories. I also made Anthony Stewart Head laugh once. So very cool. So I know how you’re feeling about the squeeing and the fanboy stuff and all.

  12. ihedenius

    “… Felicia Day, star of Dr. Horrible, ” not to forget Vi the slayerette from Buffy.

  13. Gareth H

    Has the latest 5-part Torchwood mini-series (Children of Earth) been shown that side of the pond yet?

  14. Kevin

    Big deal. why, the other day I was hanging out with one of the local television meteorologists, and….

    oh wait… it’s not the same. {hangs head}

    You are full of win, Phil. :)

  15. Alan Tudyk in that Twilight shirt is hilarious.

  16. Aline

    Well, beam me up, Scotty. No wait. I’m beaming already.

  17. Brady Duga

    Of course, my fanboy list of cool celebs I got to meet has Phil Plait on it :) But this requires more explanation:

    “She had just announced that Wil Wheaton was joining the cast of The Guild that day […]”

    Huh? Joining how? As a guest? Full time? Or just swinging by the to eat kippers and sip brandy?

  18. One Eyed Jack

    Felicia Day.

    I am soooooo jealous.

    When I grow up, I want to be Phil. Aw crap, too late. Maybe in my next life?

  19. TheLoneIguana


    That rocks.

    (Did I really just do that?)

  20. All I could think as I read this post was: This is honestly one of the only times I have ever cared about “celebrity news”.

    Also makes me think I should try and sneak into Comic Con some year just for the experience of it all. Seems like a lot of cool people there…well…you know what I mean.

  21. 15. Gareth H Says:

    Has the latest 5-part Torchwood mini-series (Children of Earth) been shown that side of the pond yet?

    Ran on BBC America last week, including some ‘behind the scenes’ (one general and five ‘day by day’ after each episode)


  22. cantwaltz

    I’m squeeing like the fangirl *I* am just reading about it. Well played, Phil!

  23. Isernbreegen

    I really, really hate you now, Phil Plait.

    Ah, dammit, of course I don’t, you’re awesome and I’m so happy for you for having had such a great time at Comic Con. I am jealous though. Massively so.

  24. Dave C

    Phil, you say that you danced with Joss Whedon. I say: pics or it didn’t happen!

  25. Gareth:
    Yes it has, and it was amazing! I had not seen Torchwood before this, and am now definitely going to be buying Seasons 1&2, as well as Children of Earth on DVD.

    #6, Chris M.
    That’s an unfortunate pleasure I would love to have! LOL Although I would have probably tripped and fallen down the stairs and broke my neck.

  26. Grand Lunar

    I don’t think I’ve felt envy at the level I do right now!

    I don’t suppose the MST3k stars would let you be a guest riffer?
    Hey, can’t hurt to help! Question is, what movie to riff?
    I can think of two for you; Armageddon or Signs.

    Ah, to have meet Seth McFarlene! Good on you to press your status!

    Also Phil, I have to say that you’ve unleashed the fan boy in me. :)

  27. You forgot to mention who took that picture of you with Alan and Felicia. I squee’d at that too.

    HINT: It’s in the note on the flickr page.


  29. the flickr page also gets comments from squee worthy pictured personages too.

  30. Nankay

    But did you ask McFarlane to be a speaker at TAM, Mr. President??????

  31. saganite

    Oh Phil, Seth MacFarlane! I interviewed to be his assistant once…man, I wish I’d gotten that job.

    Is it too much to hope that you floated the idea by him of speaking at TAM8? He’s #1 on my wish list of future speakers.


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