I know that I am not alone when I say how completely crushed I felt when I heard the news that the television show, Firefly, had been cancelled after a brief, 3-month season of 14 episodes in the autumn of 2002; however, this past Saturday afternoon at the Long Beach Comic Expo, actor Alan Tudyk was joined by The Softwire Series novelist PJ Haarsma and Spectrum editor Shannon Eric Denton to discuss two projects that promise to bring the shiny back to our Browncoat buckles!
In the LBCE program, a one-page advertisement for Con Man showed Tudyk miserably huddled under an umbrella raining on him. Successfully crowdfunded last year, Tudyk created, wrote, co-produced, directed, and starred in the new series which blurs art – Tudyk plays a character very much like Wash from Firefly – and real life – Tudyk’s comic and sci-fi convention experiences – into what sounds like an immensely humorous romp of a cultural zeitgeist. Con Man follows Wray Nerely (Tudyk) as he learns that the show he is starring on as a spaceship pilot is suddenly cancelled. While Captain James Raaker played by actor Jack Moore (played by Nathan Fillon) moves on to become an A-List actor, Nerely’s experiences a glut in his acting career, so he spends most of his time attending comic and sci-fi conventions.
Executive Producer of Con Man Haarsma showed a video of outtakes to the packed room, which had us laughing. In addition, he also shared a presentation of several images from the show up on the big screen television. Tudyk entertained the audience as he did a rendition of Vanna White, pointing out his character on each slide, making sure that we all knew which character was him. He also provided a running commentary as to whether the drawings looked anything like the actors.
Dropping on Free Comic Book Day on Saturday, May 7, Spectrum #0 will be available for the amazing, low price of FREE! Spectrum tells the story of the fictional television space series referenced in Con Man. Co-written by Tudyk and Haarsma, art by Sharon Stone, and edited by Denton, this four-issue Automatic Publishing comic book series will lay the foundation for the novels currently being written by Haarsma. And, if that isn’t exploiting across media platforms that transmedia scholars would have a field day analyzing, Tudyk and Haarsma revealed that they are developing the Con Man app for iOS and Android devices with the launch scheduled to coincide with the San Diego International Comic Con this July. The app will allow gamers to build their own con, similar to the Sims video games, with the goal of attracting super fans such as Jack Moore. Well, that leaves a movie, and Tudyk said he would love to do a Spectrum movie based on the comics and the novels. (Hint to all would be supporters!)
Con Man is available for rent or to buy at iTunes; however, a DVD collection of the first season is in development. Tudyk – who spent six months on the set of the next Star Wars movie and calmed the audience when he said he would not be a Stormtrooper – is getting set to start production on the second season. The Con Man crew will have a booth at WonderCon, being held March 25 – 27, 2016, at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
With a few minutes to spare as the hour-long panel wrapped up, an audience member asked how Tudyk felt when working on Con Man. He said he was “extraordinarily blown away” with the fan support and all of the actors that wanted to work on the series. (Check out www.conmantheseries.com for a list of the cast.) If anything, I think the audience, myself included, was blown away by the easygoing attitude and natural warmth and humor of this multi-faceted and talented man!