Archer Goes Big at San Diego Comic Con 2015

(By Brian Davidson)
H. Jon Benjamin, Judy Greer, Aisha Tyler, and the rest of the Archer gang provided a panel unlike any other seen at previous San Diego Comic Cons.  A completely unfiltered and off-script panel provided for incredible insight and insane laughs into the show’s growth from a cult FX following to one of the network’s top programs. Benjamin, no stranger to SDCC,  earlier provided tidbits at a private press meeting that more possible mashups between Bob’s Burgers and Archer were in the works.


Archer panel

Kicking off with an SDCC-only animated intro (and timely with this year’s cosplay craze of Mad Maxx Fury Road), fans were treated with nearly a year’s worth of highlights from the previous season.  The cast answered both the fan-service heavy questions (which they responded with quite adeptness into the show’s story lines) to the most political (such as the use of “ISIS” as the name of the organization by which characters on the show are a part of).  Much of the audience had stayed from the previous Bob’s Burgers and Rick & Morty panels, but clearly Archer was the main event and star-grabber of the panel block.  Easily topping out the audience from their panel at last October’s NYCC (which was a headlining event at NY’s con), Archer has officially “arrived” after years of being secondary programming on FX behind their more adult, mature dramas as Sons of Anarchy and The Americans.

The show, now steadily in FX’s lineup, was justified by the large showing of fans at SDCC at the Hilton Ballroom and has also proven the con to now be THE definitive reveal for adult-targeted animated programming.  Benjamin revealed the difficulties of playing two characters simultaneously (Bob’s Burgers / Archer) with semi-drastic personality types.  Much of the inspiration to do voice work was subtly hidden in Benjamin’s dry, often witty tone as he revealed during the panel to be the energy provided by his fellow cast mates, specifically Aisha Tyler.  Granted, much of the focus was on Benjamin and Tyler, but there were many key reveals provided by Judy Greer and Chris Parnell (who appeared exhausted from the previous Rick & Morty panel).  Of those reveals included central focusing episodes on Cheryl and Cyrill, two characters who have lacked in lore throughout the series.

A very poignant moment came during the Q&A toward Amber Nash, in regards to her character Pam.  Despite the character’s loud and obtrusive nature, a fan sought out Nash in the panel (one of the few times she was signaled directly for a question/comment) to commend her and the character for being a role model for plus size women.  Incredibly unexpected at an Archer panel first and foremost, but also surprising given that Pam has mainly been perceived as a show blunder.  The salute to Amber received an incredible ovation from the packed ballroom and easily one of the best fan interactions at any Archer panel prior.

Fitting that with all the Spring upfronts for networks that take place in NY, that SDCC is now the perfect complimentary resource for the Fall.  The Archer panel, possibly the most high-level panel, at the finale of the cartoon block scheduling at the Hilton Ballroom, was clear and above the most star-studded affair that held nothing back. Drawing a full hour, nearly every moderator and fan question was fulfilled, and more importantly gave a clear path for the upcoming season than most panels typically provide….at any con.

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