Shortly after the Anaheim Convention Center doors opened on Saturday morning, April 1, 2017, a couple of hundred WonderCon attendees crowded into one of the larger third floor rooms. The brightness of the stage was in stark contrast to the rest of the darkened room. With the earliness of the “Quick Draw” panel (10:30 a.m.), the need for coffee was mentioned by the panelists that included returning champion Sergio Aragonés (MAD and Groo the Wanderer), Scott Shaw! (The Simpsons and The Flintstones), and panelist newcomer Lonnie Millsap (bacon and Silly Comics book series). Moderating and generally causing his own brand of mischief and humorous banter was writer Mark Evanier (Rocky & Bullwinkle: Moose on the Loose and Groo: Friends and Foes Volume 3).
Armed with a letter-sized sketch pad, a black Sharpie, and a whole lot of years’ experience making people laugh with their wit, each panelist sat in front of a projector that projected their paper pad so the audience could follow along and watch each cartoonist at work. Evanier doled out the first assignment for each panelist: draw themselves horrified or shocked and then add what they were shocked by. While each cartoonist put Sharpie to paper, Evanier explained the rules of the quick draw competition: no prop, no Trump, and no gyno. One of these rules would be broken, but luckily it did not result in a disqualification. Aragonés was, by far, the quickest draw in the room. While Shaw! and Millsap worked to complete their illustrations, Aragonés would add more details or even start another drawing between assignments.
For the second assignment, Evanier sought audience participation. He asked the audience to name a male and a female cartoon character. Then, each cartoonist had to draw what the resulting child might look like from the coupling. Shaw! got George Jetson and Daisy Duck; Millsap got Wonder Woman and Garfield; and Aragonés got Pepé Le Pew and Marge Simpson. The resulting child characters were as odd as the parent characters.
For the next assignment, Evanier asked all three panelists to redraw the same scene – the cartoon versions of Belle and the Beast – in their own style AND change one of the characters to some other character. Each artist came up with hilarious couples.
Evanier engaged the audience again. Given that Disneyland is located nearby, he picked out three raised hands and asked each individual to relate the strangest experience they encountered while at the famous amusement park. Aragonés had to illustrate the story of a child who threw up after a ride; Millsap illustrated a guy who was unfortunately hit by a rock; and Shaw! had to draw a kid that pooped himself when he saw Goofy. (Shaw! mentioned he always gets the poop stories.)
Evanier introduced a special guest Jeff Keane (The Family Circus) to play “secret word” with the cartoonists. There were three words that the panelists illustrated for Keane to try to guess correctly. The words were kind of tough: “fit,” “stunning,” and “whipped.” It was interesting to watch how each artist went about trying to visually convey words and how they often were on the same wavelength with regards to concepts they portrayed.
The next assignment that Evanier gave the artists was to draw their worst health care experience. Each artist had interesting stories: Millsap got a fishbone stuck in this throat and the doctor rammed his hand down Millsap’s throat; Shaw! had a shattered ankle, but the doctor offered him a band aid; and a doctor offered Aragonés a band aid for a deep cut he sustained to his thumb.
Evanier asked each cartoonist to draw out what was the worst way a person could approach a cartoonist for a drawing and/or autograph. Continuing to explore the cartoonist experience, Evanier then asked how a cartoonist can impress a woman with their art. Shaw! shared that he learned to draw the woman as a form of complimenting her.
The character Wolverine became the subject of the next assignment as Evanier reached back out to the audience for assistance. He asked the crowd to yell out alternative occupations for the superhero. Shaw! was tasked with portraying Wolverine as a deli chef. Millsap’s Wolverine became a hair stylist, while Aragonés hero became a manicurist. All agreed that Wolverine should not quit (or retire from) his day job.
Split personalities were the next quick draw contest. For this assignment, Evanier introduced special guests Tom Richmond (MAD and Cracked Magazine), Tom Yeats (Prince Valiant and Zorro), and Chad Hardin (Harley Quinn and Dragon Age). This game involved Shaw!, Millsap, and Aragonés drawing the top half of anything they wanted, to the belt line. They covered their drawings, and then the guest artists would draw the lower half without knowledge of the top half. The second half of the game involved the guest artists drawing the top half, hiding their drawing, then the panelists drew the lower half. The ensuing results were hilariously funny.
A speed round finished off the hour in which Evanier challenged Aragonés to add a series of random elements called out from the audience. Aragonés' ability to incorporate the elements as quickly as he did was amazing and proved that, for another year, Aragonés was the reigning champion of quick draw.