SDCC Steven Universe Panel Highlights
I thought I’d summarize some details on the San Diego Comic Con panel for anyone who wants it.
The panel at SDCC opened with a live singing of the theme song.
Zach Callison is the moderator. He introduced the guests: Michaela Dietz (Amethyst), Deedee Magno Hall (Pearl), Estelle (Garnet), AJ Michalka (Stevonnie), and of course Rebecca Sugar. He gives her congrats on the Emmy nomination (which is for “Mr. Greg” if you didn’t know). Then he asks the other cast members some questions. This is all paraphrased, not direct quoting.
Zach to Michaela: What Amethyst quotes do you use most in daily life?
Michaela says that when she wakes up, she makes noises that sound like her Gem is cracked. Then she says maybe she should change her answer to “womp womp.”
Zach breaks in with “Which way to the baby war?” as his favorite.
Zach to Deedee: What songs do you sing around the house?
She responds “Which do I NOT sing?” She likes “Love Like You” in the shower. “Steven and the Stevens” when she’s doing dishes, and “Peace and Love” a lot lately. Her kids are learning the songs on piano and ukulele, so there’s lots of SU tunes happening in her house.
Zach to Estelle: How has the popularity of the show affected your music career?
Estelle basically says a new generation of people are noticing her music and realizing she is the singer on songs they encounter in the wild. Zach says he grew up on “American Boy.” ;)
Zach to AJ: How has Stevonnie changed since their first appearance?
She says Stevonnie has learned a lot, and has more confidence now.
Then the cast does a great little line read of the scene when Stevonnie first appears, beginning with them barging in with “Pretty cool right?” The voice actors all say their parts and perform it slightly differently, which is cute. Then they do a version of “Here Comes a Thought” with Estelle and AJ!
Zach to Rebecca: What’s next on Steven Universe?
(Of course she laughs.)
Rebecca says the show has recently had so many huge events, so there will be lots of fallout, like a roller coaster from here on out. Then they show a clip. It’s sort of like a trailer. It’s all about Lapis’s conflictedness not wanting to get caught in another war, Homeworld’s future actions, Pearl being unable to properly explain the context of everything even though she wants to, Greg not knowing his place in all this, and Lars being a cool caped pirate.
Zach says he hadn’t seen it yet.
Then they talk a bit about the Save the Light game coming out. A trailer for the game pops up and it includes footage that hasn’t been seen. Including a new character: Squaridot, a Peridot from Homeworld.
Rebecca was very involved in the making of the game. She says having a console game is a dream come true because they could do so much more than with the small mobile game, Attack the Light. There are Fusions and original characters, and the mechanics are relationship-based, and Greg is a player character who can play guitar. She likes that Squaridot is a Peridot who hasn’t made the kind of progress that Peridot has made. They segue to say Shelby Rabara (Peridot’s voice actor) is taking over social media for the week.
Then they talk about the Art and Origins book being out, and how there’s a SDCC-exclusive version. Launching also is the podcast, a 10-episode production, about the production of the show. McKenzie Atwood is the host. Rebecca and Steven were Episode 1–I’ve already heard this (and I seem to recall there wasn’t really a lot of new info except that the Gem writing in the Kindergarten will say who each section belongs to if you can read it, and that a lot of Ishtar imagery was used, including the 7 lions and the stars). Rebecca did episode 1 of the podcast with her brother, and says she wishes she could do everything with Steven. Zach and Grace are Episode 2.
They talk about how the soundtrack Volume 1 is out, and announce that a vinyl version is out in fall! A limited-run Stronger than You and Love Like You vinyl single is out for SDCC.
Then they play a name-the-song game with SU cosplayers. They complimented a Pearl cosplayer’s cool spear too. They read lyrics, tell what song it’s from, and if the player gets it right, they win a vinyl single. Quiz songs included “Love Like You,” “Wailing Stone,” “Let Me Drive My Van Into Your Heart,” “Steven and the Stevens,” “It’s Over, Isn’t It,” “What’s the Use of Feeling (Blue),” and “Comet.” Most people got them right, but if they got it wrong they got to try another one.
Then there’s a Q&A, which I’m paraphrasing the 12 questions:
1. Audience member: Fluorite is a polyamorous relationship, right? What inspired it?
Rebecca said she went to an LGBTQ center in Long Beach and chatted about what stuff they really wanted to see. Poly relationships came up. (So yes, that’s confirmed, though in my opinion it really didn’t have to be since they were pretty clear about it!)
2. Audience member: Fan theories–do they influence you or do you have a master plan?
Rebecca says she loves fan theories, but they work way further in the future, so no, they really don’t influence what the story does. She has loved reading the theories about the trial, because some are onto something, and some are like way off. Zach says the good stuff gets downvoted a lot.
3. Audience member: Says a favorite character of theirs is Rainbow Quartz, and wants to know will we see a version of her with Steven?
Rebecca says of course she can’t give spoilers, but that Rainbow Quartz 2.0 would inevitably be different. Then she quickly says, “Forget I said that.”
4. Audience member: How old is Lion? Have we seen all his powers?
Rebecca says it’s a good question and can’t say exactly. The episode “Buddy’s Book” gives a hint at the general time when Rose was spending time with seven lions. That’s a gauge for how old Lion is. She implies that Lion does have more to show us about what he can do.
5. Audience member: Regarding the “Off Colors” episode, which Off Color do you relate to?
Rebecca immediately says “Rhodonite, the neurotic.” Then Zach says he relates to Padparadscha because he’ll trail off in the middle of a sentence. Deedee says she relates to that too.
6. Audience member: On writing music for the show–any challenges?
Rebecca says it’s very challenging–they’re given no extra time to work on the songs. “Mr. Greg” was most challenging of course. Zach is glad the Emmys recognized Rebecca’s extra hours. He said he had a hard time when his voice changed. “Puberty is a thing,” he says, while talking about some songs he struggled with.
7. Audience member: Will there be a Blu-Ray?
Rebecca would like it. Making it happen will take more moments like this (the panel, people showing up for the show).
8. Audience member: Did Yellow Diamond shatter Pink Diamond?
Zach: “We won’t tell anyone what you say Rebecca.”
Rebecca just says she’s really excited about the next run because it was a chance to do a real murder mystery.
9. Audience member: What inspired you to use gems/rocks?
Rebecca: “Aesthetic! It’d look cool!” But she learned a lot about myths. Smoky Quartz was fun to learn about gem trivia for, building important symbolism into their character. Estelle said gems are just really pretty, that’s enough of a reason.
10. Audience member: How often do you write a song and then build an episode around it or vice versa?
Rebecca says it depends. Character stories will need a song when dialogue just isn’t enough. “Here Comes a Thought” was unusual since it came before the episode. She wanted it to be a tool to teach kids about mindfulness meditation.
11. Audience member: Do you anticipate what’s going to be popular on your show?
Rebecca says on the inside they focus on loving what they’re making. Team ideas that are spur of the moment seem to catch on most with the fans too. They discuss Padparadscha’s immense popularity. Sapphires are sort of Zelda-like, Rebecca says, and she wanted one who reminded her of Peach. Lamar Abrams came up with the idea of making her hair kinda look like a crown to increase the feeling that she has a matching vibe.
12. Audience member: On Lars’ development: was it planned initially?
Rebecca says it happened naturally. He’s one of the oldest characters in the show, and she was drawing him in college. Lars-n-Sadie comics are older than SU. (This was already known but apparently some people didn’t know they predate the show.) So of course they were always going to be important. (Zach says Lars was important in the pilot for calling Steven names.)