Review by Ashley Benson - @MitigatedText
It’s that time of the year again, time for nerds and geeks of every shape and size to flock to the West Coast in search of spoilers, swag, and sunburn. It’s San Diego Comic Con. And of course among these fans are Oncers, taking advantage of this year’s Once Upon a Time offerings. There were a variety of events, both within the walls of Comic Con and outside them, that captured the interests of OUAT fans and I have the pleasure of participating in a few of them during my adventures in San Diego.
I arrived early in the week to beat the rush as San Diego Comic Con, or SDCC for short, boasts an impressive 130,000 plus attendees each year. So it behooved me to get in town early and avoid long lines checking into the hotel. I was also keen on getting a good look at the wraps on the side of Petco Park. Each year ABC dominates the space with advertisements, mostly for Once Upon a Time, and this year was no exception. Grimly looming over the Hall H line was the Dark Swan herself. On the gloomy grey day I first encountered this ad, I have to say it was a bit intimidating to stand under it and have those black eyelash wings stare at me.
While the emphasis in the advertising was on the Dark Swan this year, the ABC booth, which has had Once Upon a Time elements in past years, took a different route for SDCC 2015, focusing on the upcoming Muppets TV show. Con attendees were ushered into Stage 2 and the set of “Up Late with Miss Piggy” where they watched a short promo for The Muppets on the “studio” monitors before being invited to sit at the ABC photo booth. Through the magic of technology, guests would get a set of four photos taken with a random muppet, though sometimes the Evil Queen would sneak in the frame. Taking a goofy or memorable photo and tweeting it out using the hashtag #themuppets or #onceuponatime was the only way con goers could receive a ticket to the autograph signing for either show. This essentially replaced the pin situation from former years and while the OUAT element was still rare, the lines were shorter for the booth this year, making the odds better to get a photo with the Evil Queen. Plus, the photos were a fun, customized souvenir!
But not all the Once Upon a Time goodness is restricted within the convention center walls. San Diego Comic Con is known for its parties, off-site events, and international film festival. In regards to the latter, Jennifer Morrison helped present the premiere of a short she was featured in called To Dust Return. With a run time of 10 minutes it’s impressive that this film packs the emotional punch it does. I won’t spoil anything, but this short from writer/director Chris Peters involves a husband dealing with the loss of his child while being helped along the way by his wife, played by Morrison. The production was very short with this film, only a few weeks, and yet To Dust Return is a wonderfully fleshed out story told through color and actions more than words. The ending completely caught me off guard in the best kind of way, so I do recommend seeing To Dust Return if you can.
Switching to a completely different set of gears, there was also a preview of the OUAT Rock Opera. “Once Upon an Anonymous”, a spoof on Once Upon a Time, is the brainchild of Erin Stegeman, who also plays Emma, and from it the OUAT Rock Opera was born, becoming Erin’s labor of love for the past two years. Think of a rock and roll musical that pokes fun at the world of OUAT. The tone is light-hearted, never mean or trashing Once Upon a Time, and the cast is full to the brim with professional actors and singers. This is a show for Oncers by Oncers and from the handful of musical numbers we saw at the Marked Men costume party, I can’t wait for the full show! Keep an eye on Once Upon a Fan for our interview with Erin Stegeman about how the OUAT Rock Opera came to be!
And of course, one can’t talk about Once Upon a Time at SDCC without talking about the Once Upon a Time panel. Our videos of the panel can be seen here and you can tell the energy in the room was wonderful. It was fantastic to see all the regulars, along with creators Adam Horowitz and Eddy Kitsis, up on stage teasing and hinting about what will come next for season 5. Yvette Nicole Brown once again knocked it out of the park as a moderator and it helps that she’s a true Oncer herself. The big news to come out of this panel was the announcement that Amy Manson will be bringing Merida from Brave to life on our scenes. One has to wonder how will she fit in with the on-going Once Upon a Time story? Directly after the panel was the autograph signing outside the ABC booth and the crowds were huge! Loads of fans gathering to see Ginnifer Goodwin’s fantastic new hairdo or catch a glimpse of newly minted series regulars Rebecca Mader and Sean Maguire. The poster the cast signed was similar to the Dark Swan wrap towering outside the convention center, though it lacked the traditional Once Upon a Time logo. Perhaps it’s a hint that things are going to radically change in Storybrooke?
After the panel and signing there was a short break, then on to the press room. My co-reporter Zach Van Norman was fortunate enough to get interviews with Robert Carlyle, Emilie de Ravin, Adam Horowitz and Eddy Kitsis, and Sean Maguire and Rebecca Mader. He even managed to get a minute or so with the Dark Swan herself, Jennifer Morrison. Unfortunately time was tight for everyone involved in the room and Once Upon a Fan was unable to get interviews with Ginnifer Goodwin, Josh Dallas, Lana Parrilla, or Colin O’Donoghue. We are grateful for the interviews we were able to perform and you can check out all the videos of Zach and the cast of Once Upon a Time here.
There is so much more I could go on about regarding Once Upon a Time and its presence at SDCC. From the con-exclusive Regina POP figure that was in high demand, to popular artist Jason Palmer’s magical OUAT-inspired booth, the enthusiasm and excitement for this upcoming season has never been more palpable. Once Upon a Time certainly made an impression on San Diego Comic Con.