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For Adult Swim, Comic-Con Is Just About Having a Good Time

by Andrew Greene  |  07.24.2016

You often hear networks confessing that they do it all for the fans, but when Turner’s Adult Swim says it, they truly mean it.

“We don’t have an agenda to sell something. For us, we want to create a really amazing experience,” said Ashley Jex-Wagner, Adult Swim’s director of events. “That’s the most important thing for us is for everyone to have a good time.”

What does that entail?

“We can do whatever we want,” said Adult Swim’s Art Director Brandon Lively.

That artistic freedom, combined with a year of logistical planning and six months of design prep, has certainly paid off in the form of “Adult Swim on the Green,” a psychedelic adults only (18+) carnival running from Thursday through Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT. Illustrated by Trey Wadsworth and designed by Lively, the gonzo thoroughfare houses Adult Swim-themed carnie games, an interactive Rick and Morty VR experience, a 360-degree mind-altering escapade in the air-conditioned Meatwad Dome entitled “Six Minutes Of Your Life That You’ll Never Get Back” that you’ll happily give again and again, and more than enough things to make this feel like a run-on sentence.

Adult Swim was excited to unveil Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality, created by the Adult Swim game team with development partner Austin-based Owlchemy company.

“The VR is something we’ve never done before and that’s a huge deal,” said Jim Babcock, VP of Marketing, Adult Swim. “We think there’s a lot of creative possibilities around VR and Rick and Morty just seems to be the thing that’s a natural fit.”

It helps when Rick and Morty creators Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland are such huge fans of the medium. Roiland has his own VR room in his house. Comic-Con is just the first stop for the VR experience. While plans are still in flux, the game will be making the rounds to get into as many fan’s hands/brains as possible.

During the portal hopping adventure, fans will take wondrous verbal abuse from Rick Sanchez and might not come away from it alive. It was the most immersive and interactive VR experience I encountered in San Diego, which is saying a lot, since everyone wants a piece of the burgeoning VR technology.

The return of Samurai Jack has many people buzzing, and SDCC is the beginning of the marketing push for its return, previewing behind the scenes footage and creator Genndy Tartakovsky coming to sign one of the Con’s coolest exclusives, a slick new poster for the show.

There’s a soul-sucking photo booth courtesy of the demonic Mr. Pickles, an Oversized Prizeball Machine courtesy of State Farm and a variety of carnival games that are as infuriating as you remember them being, including the Adult Swim version of Price is Right‘s Plinko, called “Flunko,” and a knock Eric Andre-as-a-bird down game called, “Bird Up.” Fans get tickets from the games and then take them to the prize tent, where some of the coolest premiums can be won, including a Mr. Poopybutthole body pillow, Rick & Morty plushies, a Mr. Pickles stein, posters and oh so much more.

The main attraction is likely the free t-shirt printing stand from Danger Press, where fans choose Adult Swim designs and t-shirt color and they get printed right in front of them, all for free.

Every evening, the carnival gives way to “Nighttime on the Green,” with nightly events. On Thursday, July 21, the stars and creators behind Toonami Pre-Flight showed up to chat about the show. Friday’s festivities promised a mysterious and alluring evening filled with “Things You’ve Never Seen.” Saturday brought Harmon and Roiland to the stage for an entirely improvised evening.

On the show floor, visitors to Adult Swim’s booth can try their luck with the Return To Feline Fun Hole Slide Mouth, Part 2, and throw “fishy fun sacks” into “illuminated cat holes” in hopes for a prize in return for their sacrifice. Show panels included Robot Chicken, Brad Neely’s Harg Nallin’ Sclopio Peepio, Rick and Morty and Samurai Jack.

But the fun isn’t limited to San Diego.

“A lot of people can’t come to San Diego,” said Babcock. “We’ve been focusing on how to bring that experience to people who can’t come to broaden that experience out a little bit.”

That means live-streamed shows from the convention, custom bits, and an onslaught of social on Snapchat and Facebook Live.

Given how oversaturated and overwhelming Comic-Con has become, you’d think Adult Swim might feel pressure to compete. You’d be wrong.

“We don’t feel the need to compete. We just do what we do and serve our fans,” said Jex-Wagner.

“We try to do something new every year that nobody else has done and that’s interesting to us. If it’s interesting to us, we think it’ll be interesting to our fans,” said Babcock. “We’re not exclusive, and we’re not trying to charge people, nickel and dime them. This is for their enjoyment.”

Given there’s so many opportunities for free premiums you come out feeling like you’re stealing, it’s safe to say fans will remember the crazy carnival that only Adult Swim can provide.

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