London MCM Comic Con – Day 3: ‘Who Run The World? Girls!’ Panel

Adam headed off to the MCM Comic Con Expo in London this weekend. This is what he saw.

For the last day of London Comic Con this year I spent a large amount of the day admiring the great art in the Comics Village (and picked up a couple of indie comics that I’ll be reviewing over the next couple of weeks), saw some more excellent cosplay and headed over to a couple more panels.

Who Run the World? GIRLS!!! Panel

The final panel I went to, and the last thing I did at London Comic Con this year, was the ‘Who Run the World? GIRLS!!!’ panel (named after the Beyoncé song, which is terrible but has a decent sentiment). This was another Q&A with a large panel of female actors from various television shows, including Felicia Day (The Guild, Supernatural), Willa Holland (Arrow), Rila Fukushima (Arrow), Victoria Smurfitt (Once Upon A Time), Merrin Dungey (Once Upon A Time), Renee Felice Smith (NCIS:LA), Emily Wickersham (NCIS), Annie Wersching (The Vampire Diaries, The Last of US, 24) and Jadyn Wong (Scorpion), hosted by Yael Tygiel.

The assembled panel went through their various roles and the opportunities they have had to kick ass on TV, and the influences they’ve had such as Buffy, She-Ra and Anne of Green Gables (bit of an odd one). The main thrust of the panel was really towards the strides that have been made in recent years for more strong female characters in genre television and TV in general, no longer the just the “damsels in distress” any more and according to Day “not just dressed in leather kicking a man in the face” but genuinely strong, well rounded characters that could feasibly carry the show on their own, rather than just being in the background as the romantic interest or relation for the lead actor.

When asked about where they think this sea change has come from, it was attributed to there being more women behind the camera as well as in front, having people of the opposite gender actively participant in this change rather than obstructing it (Werching gave the example of Neil Druckmann and Naughty Dog actually having to fight the higher ups to have Ellie on the front cover of The Last of Us, which seems insane to me), and production companies realising that a huge proportion of their audience hasn’t been adequately represented, so if they want to actually keep making money they needed to start rectifying that or allowing writers and directors to rectify it for them. It was pointed out that the success of Frozen speaks to this, a film where the problem is solved without needing to turn to a man for help (I’m told, I haven’t actually seen it as it looks like there is a lot of singing and joy involved), that has become the most successful Disney film and one of the highest grossing films of all time.


Next time I’m going to take an actual camera, because the photos off my phone (especially in the panels) have been shocking


They spoke about how in panels they often get asked about the men on their show, for example Willa Holland has to constantly tell people that it isn’t actually difficult working with Stephen Amell or playing the part of his sister. I imagine that must get very tedious, and it reminded me of the Avengers press junket stories where they had Mark Ruffalo answering the questions put to Scarlett Johansson, highlighting the ridiculousness of the disparity between the sort of questions asked towards women and men.

When asked about getting into acting by an audience member, Dungey (who plays Ursula in Once Upon A Time) said that you really need to get a thick skin, because “not everyone is going to like you, and it doesn’t matter”, relating some emails she was accidentally copied into where someone she had to keep working with insulted her, and commenting on the recent Sony email leaked emails from Amy Pascal. She and the rest of the panel also talked about how being a role model to female fans, and how showing off strong capable women can only be a good thing, while making sure those portrayals are nuanced and can have flaws rather than being unrealistic.  Her OUAT co-star Victoria Smurfitt (who plays Cruella), when asked about playing female villains and how it works compared with the male villains, stated “You only use your fists when your brain isn’t working love” (which explains why I keep breaking my computer at work) speaking to the more complex nature of her role.

The question about progress for queer and trans characters in television was also brought up, a fair but difficult subject, to which Dungey said that in her opinion it was “all happening, maybe not as fast as we would like” citing a character like a positive character like Laverne in Orange is the New Black as evidence that we are hopefully heading in the right direction. And I certainly agree with the sentiment, we would all like to already be in a situation where the actual make up of our society is accurately and fairly represented in our media, without the need for any extra attention being drawn to it because it is just the reality of things. And we are making progress, with a few speed bumps along the way, but hopefully we’ll get there sooner rather than later.

Finally, the panel was asked about how they deal with their frustrations with the job, be it wine, working out (Holland said punching her male stunt coordinator helped) or making sure they talked through their issues with any member of a production, and they were also asked what motivates them. Holland spoke about the opportunity to play strong roles, Wersching to act in a way that would make her mother proud and to “show up on time and know your shit”, and Dungey said it was for her kids, and to show them how proud she was going out, working hard and making a living at something she loves.

When I got the London Comic Con schedule through this panel jumped out as the part of the weekend I considered unmissable, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. It was great to see the line up of great women, some of whose work I am more familiar with than others, and see it celebrated on this scale with a huge audience, asking interesting questions and getting impassioned, empowered responses. People spoke about the ‘Golden Age of Television’ and maybe that is true. It looks to me like one aspect that could certainly make it that would be this far better representation of women in our media we are starting to see, and a panel like this that celebrates that can only extend that.



London MCM Comic Con – Day 2: Panels – Felicia Day and Arrow

Adam headed off to the MCM Comic Con Expo in London this weekend. This is what he saw.

I was running a little late on Saturday morning (no reason, I was busy eating cereal and watching Person of Interest) but still managed to make it in time for the first of the two panels I wanted to make it to throughout the day.

Felicia Day – Geek Goddess (actual name of the panel, I didn’t come up with that)

Felicia Day

Felicia Day is hands down, one of the most genuinely charming and funny people I have ever seen in person. If you don’t know who she is, Day has acted in a whole host of genre television including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Supernatural and Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along-Blog, in addition to starring in her own web series The Guild and creating a veritable nerd empire with the Geek and Sundry Youtube channel, which we at The Lost Lighthouse are pretty big fans of.

Day came out and spoke pretty quickly, admitting that she had already drunk a lot of coffee that morning. The set up of the panel was largely a Q&A, where fans queued up next to some microphones and shot some questions towards the stage. Before that, she talked briefly about her upcoming book ‘You’re Never Weird On The Internet (Almost)’ (which you can preorder on her site here), Welsh mouths and being so cramped on the tube at 6 15am that she and another person were basically inside each other (“I don’t even get that close to my friends”).

Then the questions started, There was, admittedly a huge bias towards questions regarding her character on Supernatural. I have yet to get round to watching even a single episode of Supernatural, though I’m sure I would actually like it (especially as it has Mark Sheppard in it), so a lot of this flew over my head but sounded fairly interesting. A recurring theme of the Q&A was how “very killable” she has turned out to be in her television work, and how she likes to try to make herself heavily whenever someone has to carry her in a scene.

Due to her involvement with Tabletop on Geek and Sundry she said her favourite board game at the moment was Lords of Waterdeep, a D&D strategy game, and how she used to freak out about people’s greasy hands all over her game pieces when she invited friends round for board games and pizza. She was asked about the character based on her in Dead of Winter and for tips on how to survive with her character, to which she responded that the character was overpowered and he advice was to just “play better”. With regards to Geek and Sundry, while not revealing much, Day spoke about the content they have coming up revolving around shorter, faster shows in particular.

The rest of the Q&A (aside from even more Supernatural questions) was filled out with fans asking for advice on getting in to acting and following your passions, and also a very nervous girl bringing Day some fan art that she genuinely seemed to appreciate. In fact she spoke about how she gets very attached to gifts from fans, only mentioning one she threw away – a sculpture of her made of hair, which to me is mind-blowingly terrifying but I guess if you really try to see the compliment in it it’s kind of sweet? Maybe? The last question asked about how she got into using YouTube as a medium, and she described the internet as somewhere where we can “be who we are and not be ashamed for it”, which is something I’ve never really thought about. I get so caught up in how genuinely awful people can be and regularly are online, that I tend to overlook what it has actually done not only for our counter cultures, but what a force for good it has the potential to be and often has been.

UPDATE – If you want to watch the panel, MCM have put it up on their YouTube channel here


Arrow: Heroes & Assassins (again, what the panel was called)


I’m a big fan of the CW’s Arrow show, aired over here in the UK by SkyOne. Based on the DC Comics character Green Arrow, the show follows Oliver Queen (played by Stephen Amell) in his quest to fight crime in Starling City, while dealing with an increasingly powerful array of villains. For this panel, Willa Holland (who plays Oliver’s sister Thea), Karl Yune (Maseo Yamashiro from Season 3) and Rila Fukushima (Tatsu Yamashiro, also from Season 3) had all come over to London to discuss the show and field some Q&As from the assembled fans (if anything the room was even more packed than for Felicia Day).

There were questions about the martial arts on the show, which have only increased through the third season with the League of Assassins storyline, and the cast guessed that they probably do around 30% of their own stunts (Yune said almost none, to which Holland objected) but Amell tries to do as much as possible. They were asked what super powers any of them would like to have, with Holland immediately answering The Flash or “Bridget Allen”. She revealed herself to be a pretty big DC comics fan from a young age, to the point that when she got the chance to do some of the more bad-ass stuff Thea gets up to later on in the series she got pretty emotional (I would have too). I always like hearing when an actor playing a character in any sort of adaptation I watch is actually a big fan of the source material. It doesn’t detract from a performance when they’re not, but it does enhance my appreciation of their work when they are!

I was actually, somewhat embarrassingly, taken aback by how friendly and personable Willa Holland was, as aside from her substantial character progression in season 3, I have only ever seen her play fairly bratty characters (which is a ridiculous thing to say, as playing negative characters doesn’t guarantee you are a negative person any more than playing a nice, funny person guarantees that you’re not a a bastard in real life). All three of the Arrow cast members at Expo were genuinely nice and interesting people. Yune got a fair few questions about some of his more emotional scenes near the end of the season, which he preferred out of the flashbacks and current scenes (he went flashback) and what his experiences as a Korean-American were like with finding roles that weren’t typecast or stereotypical. Fukashima started off fairly shy and quiet, and while she did have a interpreter to help her with a couple of time she was struggling to express herself, she came into her own later on and it was interesting to hear about her experiences preparing for Arrow and how they compared to her work in The Wolverine playing Yukio (I totally did not connect that it was her).

Of course someone asked them which they all preferred, DC or Marvel, near the end. Holland, whether it was genuine or just brand loyalty/towing the company line, answered incredibly quickly, while Yune and Fukashima tried to be diplomatic before falling on DC’s side. Finally, someone asked the fairly complex question of whether any of them thought that the comic book/superhero adaptation bubble would be bursting any time soon, to which Yune replied that the fascination would last forever. A nice thought, and I certainly hope it will, but nothing lasts forever. To quote The Vision, “that’s what makes it beautiful”.

Two things that I found slightly odd about the panel were due entirely to the nature of the crowd. Firstly, more than one question was repeated later on by someone that either wasn’t listening, was hoping to catch the cast out or had just joined the queue and heard their question asked, and decided to ask it again anyway. Fukushima was asked more than once, for example, about potential inclusion in the upcoming Legends of Tomorrow series, despite already answering that they are kept largely in the dark about those sorts of plans, and anything they do know they can divulge yet. The second was concerning spoilers, and people’s reactions to when they were said out loud by the fans asking the questions. On the one hand, the Arrow season finale only aired this week in the UK, and last week in the states. On the other, I find it odd that anyone would go to a panel involving the cast of a series that has aired it’s season finale without actually watching it. Some outrage even came when events were mentioned that happened in earlier episodes too. Despite that, the cast dealt with it well and skated round spoiling anything themselves, calling people out for spoiling plot point for others too. This panel was an interesting look at the making of the show, and I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next in Season 4.


I’m going to be heading to a few more panels on the last day of London Comic Con, along with checking out some more cosplay and spending a few hours looking around the art in the Comic Village. More on all of that tomorrow!