This was my 3rd year attending the San Diego Comic-Con Star vs. The Forces of Evil panel, and each year it grows into bigger and bigger panel rooms. This year, it shared a 1,000-person capacity room with Milo Murphy’s Law, the newest series by the creators of Phineas and Ferb, and the new show’s star Weird Al Yankovic, who was a last minute addition to the panel. In attendance for Star vs. The Forces of Evil was Star creator, Daron Nefcy; the voice of Star herself, Eden Sher; and the voice of Marco, Adam McArthur. For Milo Murphy’s Law, creators Dan Povenmire and Jeff ‘Swampy’ Marsh were joined by the voice of Milo himself, Weird Al. It was hard to tell which crowd was bigger: Star vs. The Forces of Evil fans or Weird Al fans. I’m sure there were more than a few for both, like myself.
Star vs. The Forces of Evil started the panel. The first portion of Star‘s 3rd season had just aired on Disney XD on Saturday, July 15, with the movie event, “The Battle for Mewni,” and there was already a cosplayer in the audience with Star’s new 3rd season wand which made its debut in the movie. Nefcy and the rest of the crew screened the movie together and are currently hard at work on season 4 while doing post-production work on season 3. A few of the crew were in attendance, who Nefcy thanked profusely for their hard work. Dan Povenmire of Milo Murphy’s Law noted they should have gotten better seats though. Also in the works is Star’s Book of Spells which will come out via Disney Publishing, sporting a cover looking exactly like Star’s book in the series. There was also a sneak peek at Star’s new outfit for season 3. Adam McArthur noted that Marco gets a new hoodie too, but it looks exactly like his old red hoodie. Eden Sher and McArthur then gave a live-reading of a scene from “The Battle for Mewni,” where Star rescues Marco from the dungeon.
Nefcy admitted she loves reading fan theories about the show because she loves to know what the fans are saying and what they think will happen. Nefcy also admitted sometimes fans come up with some great ideas that she wished she could have thought of before. On Twitter before the convention, Nefcy asked the fans for some of their favorite theories which she would then confirm or debunk at the panel with Sher and McArthur’s help. The first theory was that Jackie is a mermaid, Jenna is a witch, and Oskar is a vampire. Immediately, McArthur jokingly said the theory was confirmed. Sher was a bit more wary at first, but said she thought the theory was true as well. Sher had assumed Jenna is a witch, and Nefcy pointed out her witchy tendencies at Britta’s Tacos and proclivity to collect stuff from Marco. However, Nefcy proclaimed the theory as a maybe.
The next theory is that Jackie is a mermaid, and Star will cut off her tail so she can never be queen. Again, McArthur jokingly confirmed that theory immediately while Sher thought Star would never do such a thing. Sher turned the theory over to Nefcy, who agreed that she didn’t think Star would cut off anyone’s tail, plus she’s not sure whether Jackie’s actually a mermaid or not. Sher surmised McArthur was just going to confirm every theory, which McArthur immediately confirmed as well.
Another theory is that Moon was an exchange student in Toffee’s dimension. Both Sher and McArthur quickly debunked that theory, which Nefcy noted is now obvious if one has watched “The Battle for Mewni,” but Nefcy did love that theory. The next theory wildy postulated that Moon and Toffee used to date. Sher was stunned, but supposedly, according to McArthur, the theory goes even further in stipulating that Toffee is actually Star’s father. Sher thought the game should be changed from confirm and debunk to ‘What and WHAT?!’ or possibly ‘Include In Next Season or Not Include Next Season’ since some of these theories were worth exploring, maybe. Nefcy’s favorite theory is that Toffee was just following the orders of Starfan13. Sher answered in Starfan13’s voice saying that in way, that theory is true. McArthur liked to think that somewhere somehow Starfan13 is an ultimate master manipulator who is more intelligent than anyone gives her credit for and is actually way less creepy and more evil. In the car ride over to the convention center, Sher and Nefcy were discussing Starfan13’s real name was Somethingelsefan13 or just Fan13 since the dawn of time. McArthur hypothesizes that Starfan13 is immortal while Nefcy thought she is probably the most magical character in the Star universe.
The next theory hypothesizes that the monster arm from the episode “Monster Arm” would make Marco evil. Once again, McArthur confirmed the theory while Sher was in denial it would. Nefcy asked whether McArthur felt the evil within Marco when he voices him, and McArthur said he totally does and thought that Marco is super evil. Another theory surmises that the monster arm made Marco half-monster, so any love between him and Star would be forbidden. Nefcy said this theory wouldn’t be confirmed or debunked and be left mysterious while McArthur confirmed it anyway. One theory postulates Star will turn evil and become Dark Star. McArthur jokingly declared the theory boring and debunked. Sher wanted the third option to explore the theory. Another theory goes further and says that both Star and Marco become evil, so their love would be okay. McArthur swiftly confirmed the theory as being the plot to the next episode.
Ending the Star portion was a clip from the next episode in season 3, which won’t be shown until November, of Star and her demon ex-boyfriend Tom doing a very enchanting ballroom butterfly and flame dance at the Silver Bell Ball. Sher was completely mesmerized by the clip, saying she normally doesn’t get to see finished animation while voicing Star. McArthur seemed a bit distraught asking where Marco was in that clip though.
Next was the Milo Murphy’s Law portion of the panel. When Povenmire and Marsh decided to do another show, Disney asked what they should do to promote it, and Povenmire jokingly said they should do a sequel to the rap music video they did when they promoted Phineas and Ferb, and Disney quickly agreed, so they did another, much to Marsh’s dismay at having to rap again.
Why was Weird Al cast as Milo? Povenmire jested that Al was the only name they could think of to rhyme with ‘afoul’ in the rap music video. Al corrected Povenmire saying technically, it was only half a rhyme. Povenmire said the truth is that they took a long time trying to come up with voice that sounded positive all the time even when talking about the bad things that’s happening to him. They had cast hundreds of voice actors for Milo, but whenever they tried sounding cheery about the horrible things that were happening, they all sounded false as if they were covering up some hidden pain underneath said Povenmire. They just wanted someone to sound genuinely positive. Alex Hirsch, the creator of Gravity Falls, had tweeted a photo of himself with Weird Al, who was in the recording studio doing a voice for the show. Povenmire saw the tweet and remembered meeting Al in person and thinking he was really super positive, then wondering if Al would voice Milo. Povenmire added that he also Googled Al and listened to Al’s voice next to Milo’s picture and thought it would be the perfect fit, so he went to the casting department to ask them to get them Weird Al for Milo. Marsh joked he was against it, but he was wrong.
At the very end of production for Phineas and Ferb, Povenmire said he was doing a bunch of drawings for a few pitches while Marsh was looking at vacation brochures. Povenmire thought that one of the secondary characters in one of the pitches should get his own show. The only thing about the character was that he was super positive all the time said Povenmire, and Marsh added maybe he should be positive in the face of everything going wrong all the time, which, of course, is Murphy’s Law. It then clicked with Povenmire that the character could be related to Murphy and be named Milo Murphy, and within an hour, they had developed the whole show and started to storyboard the pilot episode. Marsh said he sadly had to throw away all his vacation brochures as a result. It took 13 years between the creation of Phineas and Ferb and Disney buying the rights, and another 16 years before theshow actually aired. In contrast, Milo Murphy’s Law took less than 6 months total from conception to series approval. Marsh surmised that this means it would only take them 15 minutes to come up with their next series.
At the very beginning of Milo Murphy’s Law, Povenmire and Marsh decided the series would take place in the same universe as Phineas and Ferb just so they could use the same backgrounds from Phineas and Ferb. Before showing some backgrounds from Milo Murphy’s Law‘s world as well as a trailer for the Saturday (July 22) premiere of the Milo Murphy’s Law special “Missing Milo,” Povenmire and Marsh thanked the crew, most of whom were watching via livestream with one storyboard artist in the panel crowd.
Povenmire and Marsh were asked about their first meeting with Al. Marsh jokingly said there was a lot of crying at the meeting, but Povenmire said he had actually met Al before at the premiere of Toy Story 3. After learning that Povenmire worked on Phineas and Ferb, Al told him that many people thought he was singing the theme song to the show, mistakenly thinking that “Bowling for Soup” was Al, especially since the lead singer, Jaret Reddick, sounds quite similar to Al. Povenmire thought that one day he would make a show where Al would sing the Phineas and Ferb theme song, so Al could sound like Bowling for Soup (at least partially so people would start to compliment Bowling for Soup for the Milo Murphy’s Law theme song, which Al sings). Both Povenmire and Marsh also met Al at Comic-Con one year too, so it was almost destined they would work together someday. Moreover, Povenmire and Marsh love writing songs with funny lyrics, which Al does for a living. By the 3rd season of Phineas and Ferb, Povenmire noted there was even a parody of a song they had previously written for the show, “Snub Your Way into My Heart,” called “Kick Your Way into My Heart,” which they thought was a Weird Al version of their own song. Povenmire said as of one week before Comic-Con, there is a Weird Al version of one of their songs from Phineas and Ferb in Milo Murphy’s Law, actually sung by Al for the show! Povenmire likened this to a snake eating its own head, sort of like an ouroboros except moreso and not as gross.
Milo Murphy’s Law is Al’s first ever lead role for an animated series. Because of Al’s own touring schedule, Al said that most of the first season of Milo was recorded while he was on his Mandatory World Tour, so he was in a different city almost every day. Povenmire and Marsh would accommodate Al’s schedule by finding recording studios along the way of his tour so he could record Milo’s lines while being directed from Los Angeles.
There have been rumors and hints throughout Milo Murphy’s Law that Milo and the gang live in Danville, the hometown of Phineas and Ferb, such as a monkey wearing a Love Händel T-shirt, Melissa remembering the first day of summer when a roller coaster dropped into her yard, and Milo’s Perry onesie pajamas. Povenmire said this was all on purpose since they first started on Milo Murphy’s Law, so the whole first season has one large overarching storyline that would culminate in a crossover special between Milo Murphy’s Law and Phineas and Ferb. It would be like their own version of the Marvel Cinematic Universe according to Povenmire. The crossover will be an hourlong special with everyone from each show, and is scheduled for some point during the second season of Milo Murphy’s Law.
Next was audience Q&A for the entire panel. The first question was for Nefcy about writing for a children friendly audience while trying to keep the balance between not too scary and not too dumb, and being engaging at the same time. Nefcy answered that she never feels like she’s writing down to kids and that she remembers being a kid and being frustrated when a show would write down to a kid’s level. Nefcy said she never felt that Star was a kids’ show, but always tried to make a show which she thought is interesting and something she wants to see. Nefcy advised making something that’s true to oneself and let Standards and Practices decide what’s appropriate and what’s not. Povenmire added that they work on the Pixar model where one doesn’t make entertainment for kids but they don’t exclude kids as an audience. Having formerly worked on Family Guy before Disney, Povenmire said the easiest way to get a laugh was to do something that was really shocking, off-color, or mean, and they wanted to try to make a show that edgy but without going to those levels for humor, making their jokes a lot smarter. Marsh added that one can never go wrong overestimating the intelligence of children or, vice versa, underestimating the intelligence of adults.
Another questioner noticed the rap promos had a similar feel to Lonely Island’s work, which Povenmire and Marsh love and said they both try to blend humor and rap, and wondered, with Al on board, if they might consider doing concert shows of their music. Al said he would be up for a tour with Povenmire and Marsh, on ice.
The next question, which I had wondered about myself and tried asking in the line before someone else did, was whether the Murphy curse is something just passed along the male side of the family. Povenmire confirmed it’s a trait only affecting the Murphy men which is why Sara, Milo’s older sister, doesn’t seem affected by the curse even though she has Murphy genes too. Marsh said it’s a recessive trait which has never been said aloud in the show, but has been discussed in the writers’ room where all sorts of weird theories are passed around. Supposedly, according to Povenmire and Marsh, Murphy’s Law is linked to the Y chromosome, which is all laid out on a whiteboard somewhere.
The next questioner asked McArthur to answer specifically as Marco about whether he still loves Jackie or if he’ll try his luck with Star. Marco tried stalling an answer by saying he has a lot of things going on that need to get under control first before the questioner wondered if Marco wanted them both. The questioner added it was a daring thought for Marco, but it won’t end well. Marco thanked the questioner for the sound advice. Another questioner, who was also a huge Weird Al fan, asked Al for a little dialogue as Milo. Al said Milo’s voice is his voice but a couple keys higher.
How did Milo’s ‘condition’ start or was he was just born with it? Povenmire said Milo was born with it and so were all his ancestors back to his great great great great great grandfather Edward Murphy who coined the phrase for Murphy’s Law, “Whatever can go wrong will go wrong.” Marsh slyly and quickly added that we will get to meet some of Milo’s ancestors in upcoming episodes.
Would 30-year-old Marco from “Running with Scissors” return along with his pet motorcycle dragon Nacho? Even though Nefcy specifically said she wouldn’t reveal any spoilers, she did say we will see adult Marco again. Another Star fan wondered if Joe Books will finish the “Deep Trouble” Star comic storyline, but sadly, Nefcy didn’t know even though the ending has been written for it. The fan then asked if Nefcy would tell him the ending. Nefcy did promise if it doesn’t get printed, she will post the ending online for fans to read. Povenmire added that he would have been disappointed if Nefcy had told everyone the ending while McArthur just jokingly blurted out that Marco dies at the end which has been confirmed.
The next question asked how does Al relax in between albums, touring, concerts, and now voice acting. Al said he mostly sleeps and spends time online, with mostly cat videos.
For Povenmire and Marsh, a fan wondered whether we would see the inside of Melissa’s and Zach’s houses. Povenmire said they were currently halfway working through season 2, and we had seen at least part of the inside of Zach’s house in season 1 already. Melissa’s house does exist, according to Povenmire, which they have actually drawn, according to Marsh, and there is an episode where we will see at least a part of the inside of her house.
For Nefcy, what determines the cheek mark shapes on each Mewman princess? Sher said she wondered about that too. Nefcy said that with all magic on the show, personality is a factor in determining how things manifest, including the cheek emblems. The cheek emblems also show themselves in the presence of magic as well. Nefcy said she didn’t want to explain things too much further since it would be something that will be explored further in future episodes.
For Nefcy, what is her inspiration behind creating the villains Eclipsa and Toffee? McArthur jokingly quipped it was mostly him. Jokes aside, Nefcy said she thought that when creating a villain, it’s important not to make them black-and-white characters, so they’re not just purely evil, but they’re well-rounded characters with an understandable point of view. Nefcy added that originally, the title of the show was Star AND The Forces of Evil and not Star vs. The Forces of Evil which is closer to the show’s DNA that there really isn’t good or evil but a balance of both. McArthur noted that Ludo is now quite lovable, and Nefcy added Ludo has really come a long way from when he was first introduced.
For Sher and McArthur, what were their favorite Star and Marco scenes? Both had difficulties coming up with one, but the one from “The Battle for Mewmi” which Sher and McArthur re-enacted with Star rescuing Marco from the dungeon is one of Nefcy’s favorites. Nefcy said she loves almost any scene where Star and Marco are interacting together because of their chemistry with one another. Sher said she doesn’t usually get to record with McArthur, so any scene where she gets to interact with Marco are highlights of her week. McArthur agreed with Nefcy that “The Battle for Mewmi” had some really well written emotional scenes where Star and Marco weren’t actually talking to one another (or even together), like when Marco thought Star was actually dead so he punches a hole in Toffee’s chest, which, according to McArthur, he has supposedly done in real life. Joking aside, that was McArthur’s favorite Star and Marco moment.
For Nefcy, is there a possibility that Marco could be the Prince of Mewni? Sher gasped when she heard the question. Nefcy said she couldn’t answer the question for obvious reasons while Sher wanted the third option to explore the idea further. McArthur said it should be King instead of Prince since they were exploring the option anyway, so he confirmed the idea.
For the Star panelists, what was everyone’s favorite scene from “The Battle for Mewni?” Sher said she liked throwing Ludo a bag of chips into the portal after him. The moderator asked the questioner what her favorite scene was, and she answered it was when Glossaryck was trying to roast pudding over the campfire. Sher said that scene stressed her out watching it since it kept dripping. Nefcy said she liked seeing Star in her butterfly form while McArthur liked seeing young Moon and young River.
Any advice from Al in looking good in all his photos? Al said he just does the same face all the time for every photo.
In early development for Star, Star was supposed to be a fan of Sailor Moon while Marco was supposed to be a fan of Dragon Ball, so what influenced Nefcy? Nefcy said Sailor Moon was definitely a big inspiration for her when she was a kid since it was one of the few cartoon shows that had all female characters.
How does Nefcy feel to be one of few female creators to have a show on Disney which turned into a huge hit? Nefcy said she feels humbled every day and hopes that more girls come up with their own shows. Nefcy noted that half the Star team are women and out of the 10 storyboard artists working on Star, 7 are women. Nefcy added it’s currently a really good time for women in animation, and she encouraged any girl or woman to try to get in the field. The moderator, who is a general manager for Disney XD, added there are a lot of women lead storytellers coming up through development at the moment.
Advice for young women wanting to go into animation? Povenmire suggested to just do it. Nefcy suggested to draw a lot and that her art school, CalArts, helped, but there are plenty of other good art schools out there. Nefcy advised if you’re interested in pitching TV shows, you also have to be sure there’s a story behind what you’re drawing, and you’re not drawing a bunch of characters or things without any ideas behind them.
The last question was for Povenmire and Marsh. Since announcing the crossover between Milo Murphy’s Law and Phineas and Ferb, will there be a team-up scene between Perry the Platypus and Milo’s dog Diogee? Povenmire hinted that Perry and Diogee will be together at some point. Is Diogee a part of Perry’s spy agency, O.W.C.A./Organization Without a Cool Acronym? Povenmire confirmed that Diogee is not a part of O.W.C.A., but that doesn’t mean other people don’t think he is.
That concluded the panel and all that’s to come. Povenmire summed everything up nicely by saying the real fun of doing what they do is being able to come into our living rooms and entertain us, which is something they never take for granted. Povenmire hoped we would keep watching. Marsh once again thanked the crew who couldn’t be at the panel for making everything come to fruition since it really is a collaboration of everyone working on the show. And finally, Al added that dental hygiene is very important, so don’t forget to floss!
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