By Shannon O’Leary, Entertainment Editor
Last week I said I’d turn in a late True Blood Recap after I got back from Comic Con. Last week I hadn’t actually gone to Comic Con yet. Going to Comic Con this year was not unlike attending The Fall of Saigon. It was a crowded combat zone littered with hundreds of thousands of nerds elbowing each other out of the way so they could get their pop culture freak on until one of them got stabbed in the face with a pen!
I’m not saying it wasn’t fun. I had a blast! But after all that madness, chaos and immersive viral marketing I just don’t have it in me to properly recap the sixth episode of Season Three: I Got A Right To Sing The Blues. Sorry to not live up to my commitments to you, the fang faithful, but I’ve been to war and back and I’m going to save my recapping jujitsu for episode seven on Sunday. What I can do now is tell you a little war story.
It started off on the 2nd day (for me) of the con. On Friday morning, I waited in line for an ungodly amount of time to get into Ballroom 20 to see, among others, the True Blood panel. I was not alone. I was there with hearty individuals like my new friend, Jennifer, who kindly held my place in line while I got a coke and a grody overpriced bagel dog. She was good peeps. And she had her peeps (who’d waited in line since 8:00 AM just to see the cast and creators of True Blood) save me a seat on the inside.
The panel itself turned out to be well worth waiting for. Series creator, Alan Ball, was there along with Charlaine Harris, writer of the Sookie Stackhouse series, and cast members Nelsan Ellis (Lafeyette!), Sam Trammell (Sam Merlotte), Rutina Wesley (Tara Thornton), Deborah Ann Woll (Jessica Hamby), Kristin Bauer van Straten (Pam), Denis O’Hare (Russell Edington), Joe Manganiello (Alcide), Stephen Moyer (Bill Compton), and Anna Paquin (Sookie Stackhouse). Bauer Van Straten immediately lightened the mood up, showing how she makes the character of Pam such a fan favorite by saying, “Hello, Daddy,” when Paquin and Moyer dragged out a cardboard cutout of Alexander Skarsgard.
You could tell the cast had an easy familiarity with each other. They all seemed to be having an easy going, good time together. Except for Nelsan Ellis, who seemed a little tired and recalcitrant, but, good god, Comic Con could do that to anyone and he must’ve had people up on his jock left and right during their ubiquitous Con PR blitz.
(WARNING SPOILER ALERT: If you have not read the Sookie Stackhouse Series by Charlaine Harris and want to stay surprised, you might not want to read the following paragraph)Other highlights included revelations by Harris and Ball of where the story’s going, although they didn’t reveal much and panel attendees had to read between the lines. Most interesting was how Harris said that True Blood and the Sookie Stackhouse books are “two different entertainment experiences” and that “things won’t wind up the same way in Alan’s world” as in her’s. Although both let slip that Season Four will be following the plot line of book number four of the Sookie Stackhouse books, Dead to the World, when Eric gets a bout of wicked spell induced amnesia and Sookie nurses him back to health without even a sexy nurse’s costume on. They also said True Blood will be picking up a lot of the witchy poo storylines from the books – which I think will be done a good turn by Alan Ball and company.
It’s interesting to think of True Blood as a massive scale fan fic take on the Sookie Stackhouse series though. Another juicy revelation from Ball and Harris concerned Sookie’s love life, although ultimately either said they would reveal NOTHING about how either story winds up. Harris would say only that Sookie never becomes a vampire in her series but she wouldn’t breathe a word about who steals Sookie’s heart in the end. Although I haven’t read the latest Sookie Stackhouse book yet (I’m waiting till this season of True Blood ends and I need a good fix), I think the writings on the wall for her and Eric.
As far as who winds up with Sookie on the show, Ball dropped major hints when he said that he believes Sookie and Bill are “soulmates” and that he’s “rooting for things to work out with them.” He went on to say that “the Sookie and Bill of the show are very different than the Sookie and Bill of the books.” Ball also talked about my own personal VILF, Franklin Mott’s, character evolution on the show (although given last week’s episode, had I not heard this, I’d have major questions about his immortality). He said that Franklin’s “a psychopath” and that the writers were going to “luxuriously luxuriate in the nature of his psychopathology” going forward.
Harris also emphasized that she loves the show and Ball’s take on it. She said she’s particularly looking forward to meeting Sookie’s great-grandfather which had the hall erupt in cheers, leaving no doubt that the room was populated by lovers of the book series. At this point, Jennifer, my line buddy, told me she had actually read the entire series before the show started. I can’t make that claim myself but if you haven’t read the series and are looking to get your True Blood on after the season ends, I will say that I read them all over the course of about three months last year after season two ended. They’re just fantastically quick reads. I’ll plead the fifth as to how they hold up as refined literature but who cares when you’re having so much fun?
Ball, Harris and the cast sure did have a lot of fun with the audience question portion of the panel. Some intriguing tidbits that came out during the Q & A were that Manganiello’s Alcide has just become an official series’ regular. Apparently, Manganiello just inked the deal with Ball et al right before Comic Con. Also interesting was when a fan asked if Harris’ popular Bubba character from the books would appear on True Blood. Ball at first said that there’s no one who could convincingly play the character who, as readers of the series know, is Elvis Presley after being bitten and turned into a vamp but then Trammel chimed in and noted that Bruce Campbell would be good casting (to rapturous applause from the audience). But one of the best fan questions was, “what vampire stories do you guys like?” Both Ball and Ellis said they loved Let the Right One In and to my pleasant surprise, Ball said that he loved the movie Near Dark. I’ve always thought the show was quite similar to that movie and was happy to hear it’s an influence on the series after noting numerous similarities. Ball also touchingly revealed in answer to the question of why he writes so many stories about death is that he suspects it’s because he lived through the AIDS epidemic of the gay community in the late eighties and early nineties. Also touching, was when Ball thanked a humble and sweet-natured Harris for creating the series and giving him his “favorite job ever” at the close of the panel.
That was nowhere near the end of my True Blood experience at Comic Con however. Look who I saw right outside Ballroom 20!
I also heard it on good authority that at least one True Blood cast member was running around Comic Con engaging in cosplay to keep from getting recognized. Word had it that it did them no good and as they were soon mobbed by fans and recognized and had to flee the scene. The show was beyond everywhere at SDCC so I can’t imagine that any of them were able to go anywhere except under cover of armed guard. I did however, have this interesting sighting when I was over the Top Shelf booth on Saturday picking up a copy of Ax Volume 1, the alternative Japanese Manga anthology edited by the imminently charming Sean Michael Wilson.
- Chris Staros is joining the Fellowship of the Sun!
No, not really. Staros of Top Shelf is actually not joining Pastor Steve Newlin’s scary right wing, vampire hating, fear mongering group, The Fellowship of The Sun. Chris was just talking to old friend and True Blood guest star, Michael McMillan.
McMillian penned the Archaia comics mini series, Lucid, which previewed at the Con (and will be coming to a comic book store near you in August). Chris hinted that McMillian will be coming back as Newlin for later episodes which should come as no surprise to anyone since he was awesome on the show and Newlin appears later in the Sookie Stackhouse books. I’m sure Ball will continue to have all kinds of fun with that character.
Later I went with Andy Ristaino, sometime financial news journalist and full time animator and cartoonist to the Wired Lounge. Andy has been working on the popular new series, Adventure Time, for Cartoon Network and was signing copies of his new book, Escape From Dullsville, at the Slave Labor booth. Unfortunately, we weren’t there to see the True Blood cast in action serving up (what else) True Blood themed drinks. Apparently, they were there on Friday working the Merlotte’s themed bar.
We got served by Merlotte’s fangbanging waitresses ourselves and generally had a good time there until we road down in the elevators. Andy has always been gripped by claustrophobic fear in elevators. It’s as if he’s being stalked..
And it turned his fears were not unfounded as it looked like he was about to be killed by Eric and possibly also by basically good werewolf, Alcide! I managed to get him out in the nick of time though before he was bitten.
So as you can see from this rundown of just the True Blood portion of what I did at Comic Con, it was quite exhausting but definitely fun times. War can sometimes be like that, man, and then afterwards you have to recover as far away from civilization and loud noises as possible. Which is exactly what I’m doing right now, so this Sunday I’ll be able to recap like a fucking champ.
As far as last week’s episode went, I liked it quite a bit and am again sorry (for me and you) that I just didn’t have it in me to get all recappy on it this week. In particular I loved Talbot going off on Russell, I loved Eric getting gay on Russell and Talbot as a political strategy, I loved Bill and Lorena’s freaky scene in the barn, I loved Sookie and Tara escaping from the King’s manse and loved, loved, loved Lafayette and Jesus kicking the Hot Shot gaybashers asses. I even started liking the shapeshifter wacky family storyline a bit. But who knows if I’ll be giving them the same goodwill in episode seven. I’m eager to find out though. Talk at you then.