Sunday, February 27, 2011

True Blood Cast Sign Comic Series 1 – “All Together Now”

Yesterday, I attended the signing of the True Blood Series 1 comic, All Together Now by cast members of True Blood which was held at the Barnes & Noble store at The Grove at Farmer's Market in Los Angeles. Expected to attend and sign were Deborah Ann Woll, Sam Trammell, Rutina Wesley and Nelsan Ellis. Unfortunately, although all four were expected, it seems that, at the last minute, Nelsan was unable to be there.

Click on the images for a larger view.

Fans started to line up to get their wristbands, (needed in order to enter the signing area) as early as 6am and for their efforts, those lucky people received the coveted "red" wristband that gave them the privilege of being at the front of the line. Lucky for me, I was awarded a "front of the line" wristband beforehand, so I didn't have to come early.

There had been horrible rain, wind and cold temperatures on Friday night in LA (even some places had snow), but luckily, although the skies were still ominous, the sun was shining and it was a pleasant day, if not windy and temperatures unusually cold for LA.

I drove to The Grove which is a beautiful outdoor mall in the heart of Los Angeles in the "Fairfax District".

Once in the Barnes & Noble store, I went to the main desk, as instructed in my email, to retrieve my red wrist band and comic books. Then, once I had put on my wristband, I carried my two True Blood Comic Books up to the third floor where the event was to be held. It was only about 11:30am at this point, so although I was up in front, I still had another 1.5 hours to wait before the event began.

While in line, I met several other Truebie fans and it was a lot of fun to talk True Blood while we waited. The full press and the presence of HBO staff were very apparent with lots of them mulling around to be sure that all was ready and the event would run well. We were permitted to take photos while in line, but once we went up to the table, the cast was not available for "posed" photos and no personal items could be signed, only the comic book.

Since this edition of the comic had just made the Graphic Novel New York Times best seller list that morning, all were in good spirits and it seems that the book is already a huge success.

Before the cast came out for the signing, they posed for photos in another room devoted to the Press.

Once we saw the press and photographers come out of the press room, we knew that it was a matter of time before the cast members would also walk to the signing table. It was definitely after 1pm, (which really wasn't too bad at all), when the cast paraded to the table. First to appear was Deborah with her boyfriend, EJ, next Sam, and then Rutina. Deb had on a pretty red/orange colored dress with a floral print skirt, Sam was dressed in a light brown sweater and checked shirt and Rutina was in black slacks with a free flowing pink top. All three looked lovely.

Once they were all seated at the table, the signing started immediately. When my turn came, I was asked to hand my books to a Barnes & Noble representative to inspect; I suppose they wanted to be sure that there weren't any personal items hidden in them. Then, the books were passed to an HBO representative who gave them to Rutina, who was first to sign. When I got to the table as Rutina signed, I mentioned that I had seen her last fall in at the recording of "A Raisin in the Sun" and had also seen her (and Sam) at "A Pretty Filthy Evening" recently. She was very sweet and asked me how I liked "Raisin" and I said I had loved her in it and that it was a great play. Next it was Sam and he said "Hello" and I asked him if he remembered me from the "Actors for Oceans" event and he said "I totally remember you." I also said hello to Deb and she said "Hi Lynn, how are you?" I had just seen Deb at an event about a week ago. As I was leaving the line, I said hello to Mara of HBO and EJ Scott who were sitting near the table.

Below are some of the photos I was able to grab while waiting my turn in the line to approach the signing table.

Then, that quickly, the signing was over and I was directed to the exit. I was told by HBO that I could shoot video since I wanted to get some fan reactions, and I got three fans that were kind enough to talk to me.

This is video footage of my experience at this event. It's a "fan perspective" that includes three short interviews with True Blood fans, Ryan, Sandy and Maria:

It was a good experience, since it was my first "book signing" and I'm really glad I went. Here's what the signatures look like inside the cover of the book. One of the copies I got is for me and the other will be auctioned off for a charity fundraiser here at The Vault.

To purchase your very own True Blood Series 1 Comic Book, "All Together Now",

Special thanks to: Ryan, Sandy and Maria for allowing me to interview them.

Also to Shadaliza for putting all my videos together and making them look so nice.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Q&A with Michael McMillian on True Blood Comic, 'Tainted Love'

As featured on The Vault -

Last Wednesday night, I went to the live recording of the "Bagged and Boarded" podscast at the Smodcastle in Los Angeles. Deborah Ann Woll, Michael McMillian and his co-writer on the series 2 of The True Blood Comic, Marc Andreyko were the live guests.
After the event, I went up to the three of them to say hello and since the second series of the comic that they wrote was coming out this week, I asked both Michael and Marc to answer a few questions that I could share with the True Blood fans.
Below are the questions that Michael answered for me. While I asked him about the gift he sent to Alan Ball of a "live panda", I'm still not sure I understand his answer. At any rate, it was a touch of genious, in my opinion, to send it.

LYNNPD: Have you and Marc written all of the comics in the series or are you just completed #1?

Michael McMillian: There are actually 6 issues in the "Tainted Love" story arc. Marc and I have plotted out the entire series and are just about finished with scripting issue 5.
LYNNPD:You said that you pitched other ideas to IDW than the one used in this series of comics, can you tell me about one?

Michael McMillian: I'd love to, but shouldn't because it's always possible some could be used in the future. I can say I would love to take the TRUE BLOOD comic into new territories, perhaps highlighting single-character stories or exploring both the past and future of the TRUE BLOOD universe. Many of Marc's and my pitches reflected that, but ultimately it is up to Alan Ball picking the types of stories he wants to tell that will support the TV show. I won't argue with that guy!
LYNNPD: What does the comic offer extra that the show doesn't?

Michael McMillian: TAINTED LOVE will give you a little bit deeper look into the Tru Blood corporation. How's that for a start? Ultimately I think the comic is strongest when it fleshes out the series mythology and gives readers glimpses into realms that may not be covered on the show We'll meet new characters, visit new locations and get some back story to Jessica's life before she was turned. Also, we are working with an unlimited budget, so we can really expound on "special effects" and action sequences. Whole scenes can take place with Eric flying through the sky.
LYNNPD: How do the writer and graphic artist work together?

Michael McMillian: Well, it's really "writers" in this case. Basically Stephen Molnar receives our scripts through our editor Scott Duniber over at IDW (he is a great guy and also edited the first comic series). Stephen begins to break down the layout of the given issue in pencil. Then his art is handed off to Joe Corroney, who fleshes the whole thing out. We get a look at the finished product and suggest any last minute tweaks that we think could help the story, but so far Stephen and Joe have been knocking it out of the park.
LYNNPD: Talk more about the Vampire Liberation Front Are these extremists? Are then connected to the Fellowship of the Sun?

Michael McMillian: The VLF are a big part of "Tainted Love's" mystery, so I don't want to go into too much detail, but basically they are on the opposite end of the spectrum from the Fellowship of the Sun. They are human-hating vampires that do not want to conform to mainstreaming. They see themselves as superior to humans. They're vampire fundamentalists, basically. They don't want to be beholden to synthetic blood- its a plight against their nature. They contaminate bottles of Tru Blood with an secret ingredient that makes vampires go feral. This is their terrorist attack on vampire mainstreaming.
LYNNPD: Rev Newlins back story, can you share anything about what that might be?

Michael McMillian: I don't know all of what Alan Ball has in mind, but I always saw Steve as a privileged guy who grew up with a celebrity father and a lot of money. He and his dad didn't have the greatest relationship. Steve always strived for his father's approval, who saw Steve as a bit weak. Steve struggled to be perfect in God's eyes, and to him, his daddy was God. I think Steve's mother died when he was young and his father didn't remarry until late in his life and when he did it was to a much younger woman. I think Sarah reminded Steve of his mother and that's why he fell in love with her. He was looking to replace something which he had lost long ago. That didn't work out so well!
LYNNPD: You said that Anna Camp was your favorite actor on True Blood. Who is your favorite True Blood character to write for in the comic book?

Michael McMillian: Anna is certainly one of my favorite actors, but I was actually referring to her being one of my favorite human characters on the show. I'm a little biased. We had a great time working together. The entire cast is so amazingly talented- it's impossible to say who's my absolute favorite. With the comic, I love writing for Jason and of course, Eric. Those are both roles I would never be cast in as an actor, so it's great to play with them as a writer. I'm also having fun letting my inner Pam out. All of these characters are so rich and each one has a distinctive voice. They pretty much write themselves.
LYNNPD: Whats next for Lucid? Whats next for Michael McMillian?

Michael McMillian: LUCID #4 comes out in March, which concludes the "Magical History Tour" story arc. April will see the arrival of the LUCID hardcover collection in bookstores everywhere. It brings together the entire 4-issue miniseries. Its packed full of great bonus materials, my favorite being a reference guide to all of the magical sigils I created for the series. I had a lot of requests for that one and wanted to do it as a thank you to all the fans who gave us a shot. Alan Ball wrote the forward, which was very kind of him, and should be cool for True Blood fans to check out. Also included will be some additional art, sketches, a breakdown of the LUCID covers and their hidden symbolism and a few "remastered" sequences where I went back and tweaked certain lines of dialogue that I felt could better support the story. Nothing has changed, per se, it's the exact same story. There just were a couple weak spots that I felt could be improved upon for the collection. Fans can look at this as the "definitive director's cut" of LUCID #1. I think we've included enough that if they are essentially picking up the book for a second time, they will feel like they are getting something really special. If it does well, I'll get greenlit for a second series, which obviously is the goal. I have many more LUCID stories to tell. Vol. 1 is just the tip of the iceberg.
LYNNPD: I know you must love both writing and acting. If you had to choose one profession only, which one would, you choose?

Michael McMillian: Honestly? There's no way to choose. Acting and writing are just two different ways of storytelling and I enjoy both of them for different reasons. I don't think I'll ever stop doing either one.
LYNNPD: What was it like working for Alan Ball as an actor? And how does that differ when you are in your role as a writer?

Michael McMillian: At first, very nerve-wracking. Before we shot Season 2 I had anxiety dreams about not being able to remember any of my lines or just destroying scenes with bad acting. In reality, he is a wonderfully accommodating creator to work for. He listens to everyone's ideas, good or bad. Working as a writer for him is equally terrorizing, if not more so, because I'm encroaching on his territory. I'm responsible not just for Steve Newlin, but almost every main character in the series! Fortunately, I have a great writing partner in Marc and we share the load. But again, Alan has been nothing but supportive of what we want to accomplish. And all of his notes are dead on. Alan is a great storyteller. He has a very clear vision for True Blood and knows exactly how every element should be handled. It's a privilege to work for him in any capacity.
LYNNPD: In the recent Inside True Blood Blog you were interviewed and you mentioned that you sent Alan Ball a live panda. Really? How did you ever find a live panda and did you really send him one and what significance does it have?

Michael McMillian:Live Pandas were marked down on last fall. Alan Ball loves animals so I thought I'd just go for it! Anything to get ahead in this world, right?
LUCID: Michael’s comic book LUCID is a four-issue miniseries written by Michael and illustrated by Anna Wieszczyk. You can download the comic at
  • The first edition of Series 2, of the True Blood comic book "Tainted Love" is available at the HBO Shop. The price of the comic book is $4.99 and it ships starting February 23, 2011. Pre-order your copy now!
  • The preview for "Tainted Love" is out today, see more here.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Seeing Michael McMillian and Deborah Ann Woll at Bagged and Boarded

As featured on The Vault -

Wednesday night, I went to Hollywood to the Smodcastle to see the taping of Matt Cohen and Brendan Creecy's podcast "Bagged and Boarded". Appearing on the podcast was True Blood's Michael McMillian and Deborah Ann Woll. And, half way through the taping, joining the others on stage was also veteran comics writer Marc Andreyko who has teamed up with Michael to script the next arc of IDW Publishing’s “True Blood” comic book series which is due out next week.

Brendan Creecy, Matt Cohen, Michael McMillian,
Marc Andreyko, Deborah Ann Woll

Listen to the Podcast by clicking here.

Both Michael and Deb spoke about their audition for True Blood and their other projects in the works. They also told us about where they had gone to school. Deb answered the question, why come to LA to study acting if you and are from New York. Deb went to USC to get her BFA in Acting and said that in New York most of the acting schools focus on "method" and she wasn't interested in pursuing that. She enjoyed her work at USC and expressed that she was happy to have gone there. Michael went to Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh and was a classmate of Joe Manganiello from his home state of Kansas.

Michael talked about his comic book series, Lucid and with Marc discussed the collaboration on the next True Blood comic book.

As we previously reported, McMillian and Andreyko’s “True Blood” arc will explore what happens when new vampire Jessica Hamby is turned feral by a contaminated bottle of synthetic blood substitute Tru Blood. Along with series regulars Sookie Stackhouse and Bill Compton, the arc will also feature the comic book debut of fan-favorite “True Blood” characters such as Hoyt Fortenberry, Terry Bellefleur, Arlene Fowler, and McMillian’s own character, anti-vampire crusader Steve Newlin.

The price of the comic book is $4.99 and it ships February 23, 2011. Pre-order your copy now!

It was quite a joy to listen to Deb, Michael and Marc joke together with the podcast hosts. I was impressed with how witty Michael and Marc were together and how great those on stage seemed completely at ease with each other making us all laugh and enjoy our time. Below are some photos from the event.
Smodcastle Theaterphoto courtesy of Matt Cohen

Deborah Ann Woll with host, Matt Cohen
photo courtesy of Matt Cohen

Michael McMillian (center) with hosts Matt Cohen and Brendan Creecy
photo courtesy of Matt Cohen

Monday, February 7, 2011

Rutina Wesley and Sam Trammell at "A Pretty Filthy Evening"

As published on The Vault:

Saturday night, February 5, 2011, True Blood's Rutina Wesley and Sam Trammell appeared in the one-night-only cabaret presentation of "A Pretty Filthy Evening" at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City, California. The evening's program included excerpts from the work-in-progress musical about the adult entertainment industry that, when complete, will be called, "Pretty Filthy".

Michael Friedman, writer of the music and lyrics with Bess Wohl, writer of the book, spent the last year or so visiting porn sets and interviewing members of the industry for the musical. This research will eventually become the new musical to be directed by Steve Cosson.

I attended the event which in addition to cast performances, featured porn charades, prizes and special guest stars. The cast did a great job presenting songs, readings, etc. and all seemed to have a good time. Rutina and Sam performed separately and were only in one vignette each, which was a disappointment for me, but it was still nice to see them on the stage. Sam read and Rutina sang. Rutina looked lovely and really showed off her singing talents (which are formidable) and Sam showed his skill while reading his part and acting out his character.

In addition to Rutina and Sam, the evening featured the talents of Mia Barron (The Venture Bros., The Coast of Utopia), Chris Butler (The Good Wife, Criminal Minds), Kathryn Hahn (Hung, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days), Peter Porte (Cold Case, CSI: Miami, Medium), Paul Provenza (Northern Exposure, The West Wing), Samantha Shelton, (Shop Girl, White Oleander, Castle), Emily Swallow (Southland, The Lucky Ones), Steven Weber (Wings, Brothers & Sisters), and Bess Wohl (who is writing the book for the upcoming musical Pretty Filthy). Porn star Ginger Lynn also made an appearance along with James Deen.

I don't personally have any photos from the evening as it was not permitted to take photos at the event, but included here are some images taken of Rutina and Sam when they posed after the show.

Rutina poses in the lobby of the Kirk Douglas Theater
with fellow performers, Emily Swallow and Mia Barron.

Sam Trammell, Bess Wohl, Michael Friedman and Steven Weber
(© Ryan Miller/Capture Imaging)

source of some info:
photo sources: Wireimage and