Contributing authors: Antal Bokor, Aaron Cynic, Pearl Shin
Whew! We made it through Saturday. Panel rooms were packed all over, as was the show floor, and even after the show floor, the action continued well into the night with offsite events, on site movie screenings and of course, The Crown Championships of Cosplay, an international sensation that sends lines surging back to the escalators near the panel rooms before the sun even sets.
If you wanted to see a panel this year, you had to plan ahead (aren’t you glad we prepped you with those guides, adventurer?) because it wasn’t just the Main Stage Panel Room that threatened to bust out the doors. And stepping on the show floor? Wall to wall humanity with an urge to shop. Welcome to the jungle.
Saturday is usually where all the big names drop, and though back when we were kids we couldn’t have dreamed it, D&D has become something you readily tell all your friends about, and something your friends hope you’ll let them in on, and it’s a great thing to see since play stimulates creative minds and encourages good social skills. Critical Role kicked off the day in S406 with a packed house of adoring fans, and ICYMI, don’t, by checking out Antal Bokor’s recap of the panel here.
We’ve got plenty more panel action to recap here though, so stick with us and learn more about what we saw on Saturday at C2E2 2020.
Let’s kick things off nearby in Berwyn, shall we?
There’s probably no more iconic face when it comes to B horror and scifi movies in Chicago than Svengoolie. Generations of fans of classic mostly low-budget films grew up seeing his signature makeup, top hat, and goatee in between commercial breaks on local television. Played for four decades by Rich Koz, Svengoolie brought us jokes, parodies, and of course, got hit by plenty of rubber chickens, all the way from Beerrrrrwyn.
Koz sat down to talk about the show’s storied history, his own relationship with classic horror movies, and more. Koz said that the first movie that scared him was surprisingly, The Wizard of Oz.
“When I was a kid, very small, everyone in my family was like ‘we have to watch The Wizard of Oz this year.’ It wasn’t the flying monkeys – that didn’t bother me – it wasn’t the trees throwing the apples, it was that witch,” he said. “There was something about her voice that scared me so badly I stuck my head in the couch. I had nightmares about it.”
Koz said that as a child he was actually afraid of quite a few things.
“I was afraid of everything,” he said. “Balloons popping were terrible. I had very sensitive ears but couldn’t communicate that to my parents. I was afraid of skeletons, I learned that from TV. I thought that when it was dark skeletons would come attack me. I was afraid of the dark too so I was a mess as a kid.”
“About junior high I really got into horror films and from then on I absolutely loved them,” he added.
Koz said that he mostly watched horror films on TV when he was a teenager. “There were plenty of things out, especially locally. We had all sorts of movies that ran,” he said. “I got to the point where on Sunday nights on our local NBC affiliate they’d always be running horror movies late at night and I would sneak up while everyone else is asleep and turn it on real low so my parents wouldn’t wake up. They were running the Universal Classic stuff then and it kind of burned it into me.”
Long time Svengoolie fans will remember that the ‘original’ character from the show’s first run in the early 70’s was played by Jerry G. Bishop, and that when Koz took the reigns for its first reboot in 1979, he was called “Son of Svengoolie.” It wasn’t until 1995 that Koz ‘officially’ became Svengoolie when Bishop told him he was “all grown up.”
“I was a fan of his from everything he did and just started sending in jokes and things. He got wind of the fact I was a Northwestern Student and said ‘why don’t you come in and watch us sometime.’” That led him to start helping out on the show doing voices, art, and writing. “That led us to eventually becoming a team when he went to WMAQ Radio after the original show was cancelled. I was with him, his producer, and also maybe 75 percent of the celebrities and characters he talked to.”
“I got to create all these characters and be these different celebrities and it was a great ‘learn while you earn’ type experience,” he added.
One of the other many charms of Svengoolie is the encyclopedic knowledge both the man and the show has of classics – both well known and obscure – and the way Koz inserts tidbits of information into the show.
“I was always a fan of all these old movies and TV shows and there were so many times where I’d see somebody and think ‘I know this guy but I don’t know where they’re from. That’s why I like to provide that sort of link so in case you don’t remember this guy used to be the wacky next door neighbor on this sitcom. When we can find stuff about the special effects, I like to throw that in.”
Meanwhile in a nearby panel room, Crunchyroll hosted an early screening of The 8th son? Are you kidding me?, one of the newest titles to be streamed on their site. The 8th son? Are you kidding me? is a series based off of a light novel that centers around Shingo Ichinomiya, an average office worker who one day wakes up to find himself inhabiting the body of a five year old named Wendelin who is the eighth son of a destitute, noble family in a fantasy world. Featuring an opening theme by Demon Kakka and Arika Takarano (from Ali Project) and an ending song by Akino Arai x AKINO from Bless4, the series will premiere on April 2nd.
And, if you thought it was just the “big names” drawing crowds, you’d find yourself mistaken. We were extremely pleased to find that MSI’s Putting the Science in Science Fiction: Star War panel was full to bursting with people wanting to get some STEM knowledge dropped on them from MSI’s fantastic scientists as well as the brilliant minds of UIC and Fermilab.