Team Voltron Speaks at Emerald City Comic Con 2018

One of the biggest highlights of Emerald City Comic Con this year had to be the premiere of Voltron: Legendary Defender’s fifth season. The convention center was adorned with a giant banner featuring the Paladins of Voltron as well as the fan favorite villain/anti-hero Prince Lotor and volunteers’ shirts were branded with show’s logo. Convention Scene was fortunate enough to be invited to a roundtable discussion with Executive Produce Joaquim Dos Santos, Co-Executive Producer Lauren Montgomery, designer Christine Bian, and actor Josh Keaton who provides the voice of Shiro. Bian, a Seattle native, also produced the exclusive ECCC poster which was given away to fans attending the premiere.

Naturally, as Legendary Defender is a reboot of the original Voltron series, Defender of the Universe, which in turn was an English-language adaptation of a Japanese anime GoLion, the first questions asked had to do with the challenge of updating a 35 year property and how to keep it fresh while still recognizable to fans. “Initially we had these pillars of the original show we wanted to make sure that we adhere to and we had these meetings where they, for lack of a better term, wanted to “HALO-ify” Voltron and make it very gritty and serious and we’re like, we need it to be fun,” said Dos Santos, “We need to be campy but also dramatic. We need to have comedy, and then beyond that we want them to have a life of its own and become its own thing. And we’ve been lucky to have that.”

From a design aspect Bian noted, “Joaquim had this thing he called the squint test, which means like when you look at the original Voltron, even if you’re squinting, he has such an iconic silhouette, that it’s unmistakable that it’s him. And so that was the key element that we wanted to make sure our Voltron also had.”

Montgomery continued, “The thing that we loved about the old Voltron was he was kind of boxy. He had like these edges on it and so we want to update the lines and make them feel really cool, but we don’t want to lose that element. So you’ll notice they have kind of like a boxier muzzle and then the Yellow and the Blue Lions will have a slightly chunkier look because they’re legs. But then the Green and the Red Lions will be a little softer and sleeker and rounder because they’re arms.”

One aspect of the show which the crew cited in need of updating was the overtly evil archness of its villains. “The quality with the villains being kind of a little goofier here in the older series, like Haggar was very much just like the witchy witch and Zarkon was kind of like “I’ll get you next time, Voltron!” sort of a villain. We knew we had to raise the stakes a little bit with those guys and make them a little more serious,” said Montgomery, “And probably the biggest thing was that Lotor was a little on the pervy side and that’s just, it’s a trope that was really big when I was young, it was in a lot of content and it’s something that we can’t keep doing. I don’t even think an audience today would accept it if you tried to put that out there.” Bian also mentioned the original series’ Galra ships as another update that needed to happen. “I actually love this design because it was so outrageous,” she said “But the Galra and flew around in ships that were literally a coffin flying off into space and had a skull and crossbones and like spider webs on it.”

A huge character shift from the original Voltron was changing Pidge is to be biologically female but originally presenting as a male character, which has been interpreted from some fans to be representative of the transgender or gender fluid community. “Immediately I wanted to bring in more of a female presence so it wasn’t necessarily like we gotta make one of these characters a girl, but I think if none of the characters had really lent themselves to it and we may have thought differently, but Pidge was a character that when watching it as a kid was always a little confusing because he had a very feminine hairdo and he had some fringe and like I was never quite sure what was the deal with Pidge and so it just seemed kind of like a natural transition and in a way that we can just include more females,” said Montgomery, “changing Pidge to a girl really doesn’t change dynamic of the team, doesn’t change who Pidge is as a person and it’s a little bit of a statement of it’s not that hard to just put a female character in the show.”

But more than anything else, the team emphasized that the characters and their development as a team is the single most important aspect of the show. Season 5 will see the Paladins’ growth continue as they wrestle with the issue of whether or not trust new ally Prince Lotor. Dos Santos mentioned that the bayards, the weapons the Paladins carry and use in conjunction with their Lions, originally came from a very marketing-driven place of establishing the Voltron version of a lightsaber, but ended up being an extension of each character, saying “It’s their personal growth sort of representative manifested in this weapon.”

In addressing physical changes to the characters themselves over time, Montgomery noted that subtle differences rarely happen in 2D animation because with several artists working on project the models need to remain consistent. “You think that happens design wise, that would be a thing, but it actually ends up being more of an animation, storyboard thing where our directors and our storyboard artists are staging these characters in the scene, how do they react? And so we try to instill that a little bit in the script from script phase. But luckily a lot of our artists have been with us through like the whole run of the show,” said Montgomery, “They get it and they’ve seen their whole arc.”

Josh Keaton has become a fan-favorite as Shiro, to the point that Dos Santos joked Dreamworks would ask for “30% more Shiro” for episodes in which they felt his presence was lacking. The majority of cosplayers in Voltron outfits during the convention were dressed as Shiro. “It’s been crazy. I knew the show just from reading your early scripts, just at the very beginning. I knew the show was something special, but the extent to which it’s taken off, just the size of the fandom and creativity of the fandom just continues to blow me away,” said Keaton “Every time I go to a con and I’ll see, I’ll see huge cosplay and these are people in full on armor, that lights up and then they’ll even have more obscure cosplays. I saw Galaxy Garrison trio with Lance and Hunk and Pidge they were all in their Garrison stuff. It’s amazing.”

In speaking about his influences, Keaton spoke about how he prepares for voice roles the same as he would a role in a play or movie or live action television show by trying to put himself in the mindset of the character and finding a relatable memory or experience from his own life. He also said that he draws on previous roles such as Spider-Man or Green Lantern. “Some of that found its way into Shiro as well, not the cocky aspect of Hal Jordan, but a lot of the military bearing. I’d say a lot of the parts that I play end up pulling from those in some way in future doesn’t really because that’s just, it adds to my frame of reference.”

Voltron: Legendary Defender Season 5 is now streaming on Netflix.

 

CA – Art of Kung Fu Panda 3 Signing

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0000-kfp3Press Release:

Come hear the artists share stories from behind the scenes and see their development work for the movie at Gallery Nucleus on Saturday January 30, 2016.  Bring your questions for the Q&A session and meet the artists one-on-one as they sign copies of the Art of Kung Fu Panda 3

Featured Artists:
Nicolas Marlet
– Character Designer
Arthur Fong – Concept Artist
David Wolter – Story Artist
Guy Bar’ley – Story Artist
Maxwell Boas – Art Director
Phil Craven – Story Artist
…more to be announced

Event Schedule:

2:00 – 3:00 pm Panel Presentation
3:00 – 3:30 pm Q&A
4:00 – 5:00 pm Signing

$10 Admission at the door or FREE w/ purchase of the Art of Kung Fu Panda 3 book (100 seats only, standing room also available).

Outside books will be subject to a $10 fee.

Front Row Reserved Seats available $20(does not guarantee availabilty of book for “seats only” option)

  • Waives admission fee.
  • Guaranteed seat in the first 2 rows, only 20 seats available.
  • No need to wait in line or get to the event early just to get a good seat.
  • Comes with a free bottle of water.
  • Guaranteed first in line during the artist signing time.

RSVP on Facebook!

Gallery Nucleus
210 East Main Street, Alhambra, CA 91801
626.458.7477

CA – The Art of HOME Signing

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Adam Rex, Le Tang, Todd Wilderman, Jason Scheier, and more appear at Gallery Nucleus on Saturday March 28th!

RSVP on Facebook!

Press Release:

Based on the novel The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex, comes the fun and exciting animated adventure, HOME by Dreamworks Animation.

Come see rare behind the scenes artwork by artists from the production design, storyboard, and visual development teams.

Bring your questions for the Q&A session and meet the artists one-on-one as they sign copies of the book The Art of Home.

$5 Admission at the Entrance or FREE w/ purchase of the Art of HOME book
Only 200 attendees will be admitted
Only 80 seats available (20 reserved seats and 60 first-come, first-serve general admission seats)
Standing room and floor seating also available
Outside books will be subject to a $10 fee

Front Row Reserved Seats available online $20. (click here)
Comes in 2 options: Seat Only or Seat w/ a Book
Waives admission fee.
Guaranteed seat in the first 2 rows, only 20 seats available.
No need to wait in line or get to the event early just to get a good seat.
Comes with a free bottle of water.
Guaranteed first in line during the artist signing time.
Get 10% off your book purchase.

General Admission and Signing Instructions

1. Please purchase your admission tickets / books at the register before waiting in line out side to get a general admission seat.

2. Upon purchase of an admission ticket / book you will be given a raffle number. This number signifies your position in the line to receive artist signatures after the panel.

3. Once you have purchased your admission ticket / book and have your raffle number, you can wait in line to be seated. First come first serve. (Those who purchased a front row reserved seat will not have to wait in line)

4. Attendees will be allowed to enter roughly 15 – 20 minutes before the panel begins. Simply show your admission / book receipt at the gallery entrance and you will be admitted.

5. After Q and A, when artists are available to sign books your number will be displayed on the wall in numerical order. (Those who purchased a front row reserved seat will be first in line)

 

Featured Panelists:
Adam Rex – Creator
Jason Scheier – VisDev Artist
Le Tang – Storyboard Artist
Todd Wilderman – Head of Story
more panelists to be listed soon…

 

Event Schdule:
2:00 – 3:00 pm Home Panel / Presentation
3:00 – 3:30 pm Q&A
4:00 – 5:00 pm Signing
5:30 – 8:00 pm Adam Rex exhibition Reception / Signing

Gallery Nucleus
210 East Main Street, Alhambra, CA 91801
626.458.7477

NYC – Icons of Animation Exhibit

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Press Release:

The Society of Illustrators celebrates the work of four iconic illustrators- Peter de Sève, William Joyce, Carlos Nine, and Bill Plympton – with an exhibit featuring the original illustrations from numerous movies and shorts.

film screening and panel will take place on Thursday, June 5th at the Academy Theater at Lighthouse Guild, and an Opening Reception will take place on Friday, June 6th at. 6:30 pm

 

About the Artists

Peter de Sève:
Peter de Sève’s illustration and character designs are known throughout the world. His work spans three decades and various media, including magazines, books, print and televised advertising, animated feature films and magazines. Best recognized for his many New Yorker covers and his character designs for the three blockbuster Ice Age movies (“Scrat” is now an international icon), de Sève has also contributed to such films as Mulan, A Bug’s Life, Tarzan, and Finding Nemo.

His many distinctions include the prestigious Hamilton King Award from the Society of Illustrators, a Clio Award for a Nike television commercial, a Spectrum Annual of Fantastic Art gold medal, a Soleil d’Or award from the Festival BD Sollies-Ville in France, and a Visual Effects Society Award nomination for outstanding animated character design for Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs.

Peter was honored with an Emmy Award for Outstanding Character Design for his work on Sesame Street’s Abby Cadabby’s Flying Fairy School. He has received three Annie Award nominations for Character Design in a Feature Production, the most recent for his work on Arthur Christmas.

Peter lives in Brooklyn, NY, with his wife Randall (with whom he recently collaborated on his first children’s book, The Duchess of Whimsy) and their two daughters, Paulina and Fia.

William Joyce:
William Joyce has achieved world-wide recognition as an author, illustrator and pioneer in the digital and animation industry.

In February 2012, he won an Academy Award for The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, an animated short film about the curative powers of story. In the past two years, he has also written seven hard copy Simon & Schuster children’s books including The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, The Guardians of Childhood book series: The Man in the Moon, The Sandman: Story of Sanderson Mansnoozie, Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King, E. Aster Bunnymund and the Warrior Eggs at the Earth’s Core! And Toothania: Queen of the Tooth Fairy Armies.

Named by Newsweek magazine as “One of the 100 people to watch in the new millennium”, William has been heavily involved in the world of digital animation from its full-scale inception at Pixar Animation. His projects have been produced by nearly every major film studio including Disney, Twentieth Century Fox and DreamWorks Animation. His feature films include Rise of the Guardians, Robots and Meet the Robinsons and his television series George Shrinks and Rolie Polie Olie for which he won three Emmy Awards.

Additionally, he is the writer, producer, and production designer on the Blue Sky Studios feature film, Epic, inspired by his book The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs.

Carlos Nine:
Carlos Nine is a renowned illustrator, comics author, painter, sculptor, animation film writer, and author of several books. His works have been published in Argentina, Italy, Spain, France, Belgium, Great Britain, Germany, U.S.A., Brazil, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

He was awarded awarded on several occasions the Silver Clio in Illustration (Clio Awards, New York, 1993), the Caran D’Ache award for best illustrator (Rome, Italy, 1995), the Prix de l’Ecole Supérieure de l’image (France, 2001) and the First Prize at the Angoulême Festival (France, 2001). He has published books and held exhibitions in numerous countries. He has been invited to give seminars, workshops, and courses in his country and in France.

He has also worked for several magazines and journals, including Le Monde (Paris), The New Yorker (USA), Noticas, Humor, and the newspapers La Nación and Clarín.

Bill Plympton
Mr. Plympton is considered the King of Indie Animation, and is the only person to hand draw an entire animated feature film. Born and raised in Portland, Oregon, he graduated from Portland State University in Graphic Design. Bill moved to New York City in 1968 and began his career creating cartoons for publications such as New York Times, National Lampoon, Playboy and Screw.

In 1987, he was nominated for an Oscar® for his animated short Your Face. In 2005, Bill received another Oscar® nomination, this time for his short Guard Dog. Push Comes to Shove won the prestigious Cannes 1991 Palme d’Or; and in 2001, another short film, Eat, won the Grand Prize for Short Films in Cannes Critics’ Week.

After producing many shorts that appeared on MTV and Spike and Mike’s, he turned his talent to feature films. Since 1991, he’s made 10 feature films. 7 of them, The Tune, Mondo Plympton, I Married A Strange Person, Mutant Aliens, Hair High, Idiots and Angels, and Cheatin’, are all animated features.

Bill Plympton has also collaborated with Kanye West and Weird Al Yankovic in a number of music videos and book projects. In 2006, he received the Winsor McCay Lifetime Achievement Award from The Annie Awards.

Society of Illustrators
128 East 63rd Street, New York, NY 10065
212-838-2560

How to Train Your Dragon 2 Soars Into WonderCon 2014

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20th Century Fox and Dreamworks Animation bring How to Train Your Dragon 2 director Dean DeBlois and Jay Baruchel, the voice of Hiccup, to WonderCon this weekend for an exclusive sneak peek of the movie and a signing at Booth #1468!

SCHEDULE:
Friday, April 18th
11:30 a.m.: Booth opens, sales and giveaways begin
12:00 noon: Demonstration of new How to Train Your Dragon apps begins
1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.: Airbrush artist on-site to create Dragons tattoos
7:00 p.m.: Booth closes

Saturday, April 19th
9:30 a.m.: Booth opens, sales and giveaways begin
10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.: Airbrush artist on-site to create Dragons tattoos
12:45 p.m. (tentative): Fox panel presentation begins at the Arena
2:00 p.m.: Jay Baruchel and Dean DeBlois arrive at booth #1468 for fan signing
2:30 p.m.: Fan signing ends
3:00 p.m.: Demonstration of new How to Train Your Dragon apps begins
7:00 p.m.: Booth closes

Sunday, April 20th
10:30 a.m.: Booth opens, sales and giveaways begin
11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.: Airbrush artist on site to create Dragons tattoos
1:00 p.m.: Demonstration of new How to Train Your Dragon apps begins
5:00 p.m.: Booth closes