Star Wars

More Tales of the Con – Enter The Kurgan


Prior to San Diego Comic-Con, Star Wars authors Jason Fry, Ryder Windham, and John Jackson Miller shared some of their best convention tales with Suvudu readers. In San Diego the Del Rey team shared swag and news with fans of Star Wars books, including the announcement of the first Star Wars Reads Day on October 6th and the first three books of 2013. The convention season has only just begun for Star Wars fans, though, with Star Wars Celebration VI only two weeks away! Be sure to follow the Star Wars Books Facebook page and keep on eye on @DelReyStarWars on Twitter for the latest updates on schedule, author signings, and swag giveaways. Editors Shelly Shapiro and Erich Schoeneweiss are looking forward to meeting fans at the booth, and they were kind enough to share a great convention moment with the fans.

I honestly don’t remember how many years now I’ve been going to San Diego Comic-Con. I know it’s more than five but less then ten. Is it, though? It used to be that I could remember specific events from the massive con and the year they took place, but now the memories have all blended together like episodes of Seinfeld. Moments that I thought took place years apart I now find out actually happened at SDCC the same year and only days apart. But there are still one or two that clearly stand out to me. Meeting The Kurgan is one of them.

It was July 2009, a Saturday, only a couple hours to go before the beautiful voice in the sky informed people that the show was closing for the day. There had been a number of author signings at our little Del Rey Star Wars booth earlier in the day, and my feet were hurting after standing for hours on end. At long last, there was a lull in the activity, and Shelly Shapiro, Keith Clayton, and I were enjoying a few moments of normalcy at the booth. Keith excused himself to go grab a coffee or something, and Shelly and I sat at our booth’s table and just took in the sea of madness hovering around us.

Important point: I’ve learned over the years that anytime Keith walks away from the booth, something cool will happen. Whether it’s Stone Cold Steve Austin walking by our table, or Peter Mayhew coming up to say hello to author Bonnie Burton and pose with her Chewbacca sock puppet toy, you can count on something happening in Keith’s absence. But on this day, I was just too drained. I forgot that Keith’s leaving was a sign that I should expect some kind of coolness.

That is, until I saw The Kurgan.

As Shelly and I sat at the table, chitchatting and paying little attention to what was going on around us, the large hallway in front of our corner booth magically emptied. A sole man strode toward us, hair almost a silvery gray, sunglasses on, jeans, casual shirt, a nice dress jacket. The man had a look of success and distinction to him and walked with confidence. I stared at him… and when he was still about 20-30 yards from us, it hit me. The man was The Kurgan.

Immediately I started to geek out. “Oh my God…. oh my God…. oh my God!” Shelly was completely flabbergasted – not having a clue what I was talking about, she was just amazed to see me practically jumping up and down for no obvious reason. I stammered, “It’s Clancy Brown… It’s The Kurgan!”

“Who?”

“The Kurgan! The villain from Highlander!” I exclaimed.

“Never saw it,” Shelly responded calmly as he strode closer.

“What?” My mind raced as I called up his IMDB page in my head. “He’s the voice of Lex Luthor! SpongeBob’s boss!” (In hindsight, listing his cartoon work probably wasn’t the smartest way to get Shelly to know who he was.) “Starship Troopers. Carnivale. Earth 2.

Shelly just continued to shake her head, telling me she didn’t know who he was.

At that point he was at our booth, and it was everything I could do to not blurt out, “Dude! You’re Clancy Brown! I love your work! Blah blah blah blah blah.” At this point, I was a powder keg of geek energy.

He stopped about eight feet from our booth, looked at us, the books on display, and the posters behind us for the books that were due to be published, then walked right up to our table. Lowering his sunglasses and looking over the top of the frames, he pointed to one of the posters behind me and asked, “When does the third Bane book come out?”

Seven cooler words may never have been spoken. You see, he didn’t ask, “When does Dynasty of Evil come out?” He asked, “When does the third Bane book come out?” Meaning, he had read the previous two and liked them enough that he wanted to read the third one. Are you kidding me? I have something in common with Clancy Brown?

Shelly and I both stood up and spoke with him for a few minutes about the books. Shelly actually did most of the talking, because I was still mentally reeling about his mere presence in front of me. Finally, she asked, “So what do you like about the Bane books?” He said, “I find them… disturbing.” And then he was gone.

At this point, Shelly sat back down while I danced the dance of joy for a few moments. She was back to staring at me like I was out of my mind; clearly she still didn’t know who he was. I fired one last credit at her: “He was the bull guard in Shawshank Redemption.”

Comprehension dawned. “I love that movie!” she exclaimed. “Now I know who you’re talking about. That was him? Ugh, now I want him to come back!”

At which point Keith returned, and we both got to gloat as we related our experience with The Kurgan. And I don’t have to tell you that Keith knew exactly who our visitor was – or how bummed he was to have missed the whole thing!

For Star Wars fans not old enough to remember classics like Highlander or Shawshank Redemption, the name Clancy Brown might sound familiar. He voices Darth Maul’s brother, Savage Opress, in the animated television show, The Clone Wars. Lesson learned – you never know who will stop by the Del Rey booth (and odds improve to Han Solo levels when Keith Clayton is away.)


Tricia Barr writes about Star Wars, storytelling, and fandom at FANgirl Blog. At GeekGirlCon this weekend, she is hosting a panel on the female characters of Star Wars. She is currently finishing her first original novel, Wynde.


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