So sorry that this took so long to post. I hope you forgive me, but I was trying to clean up some audio recordings of the panels and reading I went to. It turns out that the sound from a panel in a large room with poor acoustics recorded from a single point microphone in the audience doesn’t sound too great. Who knew? Well, I’ve taught myself some basic mixing techniques and have cleaned them up immensely. In my last post I told you all about movie news. Now let me tell you about the con itself. This post is broken down into 3 sections:
This was the best panel I went to so it may seem odd that it was held during industry hours on Friday, before the doors opened to the public. That’s rights, when I went to this the only people in the convention hall was retail reps, industry people and press. It was held in one of the smaller rooms and it wasn’t even all that crowded. Which suited me fine as it just seemed all that much more personal.
For those that don’t know, let me introduce these people.
These guys were great. They tackled issues regarding comics from the mainstream attention of late to schisms in intent of the medium to the affect of the internet on comics. Here are some highlights:
On selling out. It’s not an issue of compromising one’s self, at least not as a general rule. Rather, it’s an issue of legitimacy. They mentioned a snow boarder who gave up millions in endorsements when he refused to go to the Olympics the first year they had snowboarding. This wasn’t because he didn’t want to go mainstream specifically. His reasoning was that snowboarding was still a young sport and had a lot of growing to do. Once you go mainstream, whether it’s participating in the Olympics or getting mainstream attention from publishers, people and production studios, the medium cements. The rules become less fluid and the boundaries harder to break. This is my example, but film was the same way. When film was first invented it was almost all experimental. Magicians and artists picked up the format to try their hand in a new world of images. Once Edison and others set up commercial production studios art films were pushed to the side and stories aimed at commercial success became the norm. Scott McCloud said that right now it seems to be working to the advantage of comics. The audience for comics is growing with shows like Heroes and all the movie adaptations. But it will get nasty. Already we’re seeing people write comics and graphic novels an intent to get them produced as movies or TV shows (Virgin/Sci-Fi, I’m looking at you).
On web comics. This was where the splits in opinion kicked in and the fun started. Scott thinks that the internet is a medium that comics can be presented in but it looses that physical component and adds a factor of coldness and alienation. Doug, on the other side, argued that in the past you’d write a comic, publish it, get response mail, publish that and respond. That would take a long time. Now you can write and draw and post and then in minutes get a comment that says, “I think your art is great and it’s bee inspiring me to create. By the way, you spelled ____ wrong.” What could be more personal than that? So it really depends on what your expectations are. With the web there’s a faster connection with the audience and greater chance for two way conversation. With print you knew there was a certain level of effort put into each publication because of the time and cost. When you got a response to that it might be more sincere.
It was just such an honor and a rush to see these two go at it. I really recommend listening to the whole panel.
I was a little shocked at how interesting this was. I figured it would be dry but necessary to know about. I had fun. They covered the DC/Schuster/Superman issue in better detail while rushed than most publications do at leisure. I have also become paranoid regarding my current project and am writing up contracts at this moment. Since it’s all carefully worded I’d say just give it a listen rather than me risk screwing something up in a description
What a waste of time. I had a tough time trying to figure out which panel to go to at this time: how to write a pitch or the Vertigo discussion. I chose very very poorly. I’m including the audio just so you can hear these industry people talk. Don’t expect to get any good advice out of this on writing a pitch, just some moderately interesting anecdotes. It took them a awhile to get to the actual topic and here’s what they had to say:
Not a single publication represented had an open submission policy. This means they don’t take any work unless they have contracted for it already.
They recommend having inside connections. Some of the people there had to work in smaller subsets of the company they wanted to submit to for years before they threw their pitch.
After making your connections and managing to break in then they started talking about how to pitch. So once you already know people and are on the inside then their advice kicks in.
I think they skipped the important part of the pitch process. That’s like NASA telling the astronauts how to use the lunar-lander for the Apollo missions without giving them a rocket or shuttle. Thanks a lot, guys.
Even though Howard Zinn was a no show this was another amazing panel. Sid Jacobsen and Ernie Colon (the two behind Richie Rich and Casper) discussed their graphic novel version of the 9/11 report as well as their ongoing work specifically made to inform troops about events as well as options when coming home.
This was pretty interesting although it felt like new people saying the same thing I’ve been hearing for a long time. On a panel called “Women in Comics” it seemed strange that they almost all said they did not want to be thought of as women in comics but rather people in comics. They brought up the feminist question and the fact that the term “feminist” has taken on, almost reverted back to, a negative connotation. For the record I am a feminist. I just got an incomplete feeling from this panel. They didn’t talk about their role as women in comics, but tried to just focus on trying to shed that label. They touched on feminism but really only to say that it’s feminism by default and that feminism is just another way of saying you’re for equality. In the end it felt like they spent the panel talking about how there wasn’t really much for them to talk about without adding to the woman/person in comics split. I was hoping for something more in depth either way. Either focusing on the issues they had faced or perceived or heard of as women or perhaps discussing feminism in the comic industry in regards to both men and women. It was nice to hear these women (people) talk about their jobs and all but I left this panel unfulfilled in my yen for hard analysis.
Sure, I had to buy my ticket for this (c’mon, press pass. No?) but it was worth it. The line went down the hall and part way out into the food court. It was nuts. By the time I got inside I was about ¾ of the way towards the back but managed to get a seat not obstructed and still on the aisle so I could pop up to take pictures.
The introduction was by Bill Hader from SNL and a handful of movies. He was funny enough. What really impressed me was that everything he said was actually pertinent t to Neil Gaiman. A lot of the time you’ll hear people do “introductions” and use it as a mini presentation of their own. Here Bill Hader actually talked about how he first came across Neil’s works and how it’s affect him and his employment history. Apparently it’s responsible for his job on SNL and explicitly responsible for his partnering with Seth Rogan. Who knew? Well, now we all do. Towards the end he does some failed SNL pitches involving Gaiman’s work. Very funny and an exclusive straight from me to you.
Next up was the man himself. He took his time with the material he brought, starting first with an actual discussion of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. Then he went on to his reading proper. Part one has him reading a number of already published stories. They are all entertaining and his speaking voice is wonderful. In case you didn’t know he does most, if not all, of his own audio books.
Part two has him reading new material from his upcoming publication, The Graveyard Book. It’s an expansion of his short story "The Witch's Headstone". I apologize if it seems to cut off suddenly at the end but my sound recorder died and I wasn’t near an outlet to plug it in. Take heart in the fact that it died between sentences and he was nearly done at that point. It probably gave out maybe 10 minutes from the end of the reading, if that.
So I need to include this picture. During the Q&A Neil read a card that said "That girl in the center with the really good Delerium wig is cute. Can you get me her phone number?" She stood up. Neil prompted the writer of the question to stand up. He did. They met in the middle aisle and she gave him her phone number. Neil is the bringer of love.
More Movie News
Once again I found myself camping out in the movie presentation theatre the whole day long. What did I see? I’ll tell you.
Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay
I’m really disappointed I didn’t get to ask my question to the writers: “What the hell was up with the Jersey geography in the first movie? You two are from Jersey. you should know better.” That was my only disappointment with this panel. Even when someone stood up and asked of the coke Neil Patrick Harris snorted in the first movie was real I was elated by NPH’s response: “Yeah. Twenty takes and it was all real.” The clips from this movie only went to prove what I already expected. I held off on seeing the first movie expecting a dumb American Pie style flick. It was much funnier than I thought it would be. The sequel looks like it’s going to try and one-up the first film with rudeness, drugs and pure NPH content. What more could you want? Pictures? Sure.
PS If you’re not watching How I Met Your Mother (Mondays at 8:30 on CBS) then you’re not just missing out on Neil Patrick Harris; you’re missing out on a hilarious show. On the show Barney (played by Harris) makes a “Get Psyched Mix” which becomes a running joke in the episode. I burned myself a copy of his mix and managed to get him to sign it. I was the last autograph he signed and he did it while being dragged away by to stay on schedule. I don’t doubt for a second that it was the fact that I’m so tall so my CD was still at eye level for him as he was standing that managed to bless me with this legendary souvenir.
Journey to the Center of the Earth: 3D
Directed by Eric Brevig, who’s done special effects for. Starring Brendan Fraser. This looks like a really fun entry into the retro-camp genre that includes movies such as The Mummy and The Core. It was refreshing to hear Fraser say that the original script “sucked” and how he and other people involved went back to the source material and fixed the movie. It was also interesting to hear how this movie was made. The cameras they used were straight HD digital cameras, shooting through cables onto computers rather than onto tape or film. While you might think this was just an excuse to use fancy new technology Brevig and Fraser spoke on how the project was designed to push things past the toys and use newER technology. Fraser seems very involved in new production technology, which was a nice surprise. Admittedly this movie was made for fun and plays with gimmicks that only HD 3D can give an audience, but they see it as more than that. This movie was made to push the standard on movie entertainment. No one had illusions of it being high cinema but they also didn’t sell it as a glorified movie ride. This looks like fun and I’ve been sold on the project’s integrity to being the most it can be as a movie and not just a spectacle.
Chris McKenna (American Dad) and Director Anthony Leondis were here to talk about this project. I hadn’t heard about this movie until the NY Comic Con but wow! The voice cast is amazing: John Cusack, Eddie Izzard, Steve Buschemie, Molly Shannon, Arsineo Hall, . How could I have missed this big name venture into animation from the Weinstein company? I don’t know. That said, the movie looks interesting. I’m 100% sure it will get numerous Tim Burton comparisons in upcoming reviews. Not only is the content “Burtony”, dealing with a mad scientist country called Malaria and having monsters in slice of life situations, but the character design is not the norm. They actually wanted a slightly off look and that’s why they went to France for an animation studio rather than staying in the states. My hat goes off to them for not trying to make this another bland “offbeat” cartoon in the vein of many Shrek rip-offs. Not only is the animation strange but the group putting this movie together went with the Weinstein company specifically because they wanted to get away from Disney constructs. For instance, one of the sidekicks has been brought back to life and isn’t too happy about it. Throughout the film he repeatedly kills himself, only to return to life, still unhappy. I can’t really see that in a Pixar project.
As good as the movie sounded the panel was a little off. After a while kids started to take the panel off track with poor Q&A. The people on stage started focusing more and more on the video game and less on the movie and how it got made or what was going to be in it. When the question of DVD extras came up (regarding a movie that has yet to hit theatres) I got a little fed up and left to go into the booth/shopping area. Still, I’m not sold on Igor but very interested. I guess the buzz and reviews will make up my mind in the end for this one.
I went to the first NY Comic Con but missed the second. This was con number 3 and was run much cleaner than the first one. Of course, during the first year they had to shut the doors to ticket holders because of fire code violations regarding the sheer number of attendees. This was no where near that, partly because they booked the larger room this time. Friday was surprisingly empty. OK, maybe not empty but no where near as crowded as I expected. Saturday was pretty thick, but I managed to stay tucked away in the screening theatre the whole day. Sunday… well, Sunday was insane by comparison. In the shopping/booth/exhibitor hall the crowds were thick. It struck me as odd, but the shopping sections were much worse than the industry booths. Both Marvel and DC had big booths but didn’t seem as full as in other conventions. The only time I saw them get swamped was during signings from artists and writers.
Perhaps the shopping sections seemed so chaotic was because the set up was done so poorly. The first year there was a clear grid with shops grouped by type. If you wanted to buy books you stick to this area. Statues and art would be over here. T-shirts and other tie-ins in another place. This year everything was all mixed together, with small booths and large retail representation randomly put together. I’d be looking for a place to buy single issues of recent books and BAM, there was Gavin Blair, co-creator of Reboot. So I stopped, got an autograph and a picture, and then continued shopping. But I don’ think the exhibition hall was organized in a great way.
Other things I noticed? There was a disproportionate presence of toys at this convention. Not just tie in figures but random toy companies. Also, a lot of TV networks were here. Nickelodeon and A&E had pretty fair sized presentation areas which was strange. I’m used to movie studios being here but not general media. I don’t know if this is due to it approaching San Diego size and status or just a new “all media” take now that comics are getting more and more mainstream. Oh, and girls! There were lots of girls walking around. I’ve read that this is possibly due to a larger manga/Asiaphile showing but I didn’t see that. To be fair, I was off the floor for most of the convention until Sunday so I can’t say that for sure. What I do know is that comic conventions are changing and shifting. Perhaps a few years ago the Scott McCloud and Doug Rushkoff debate would have been much larger and held during open convention hours, if not a headliner. I sure hope that in the next few years debates like that won’t be pushed off in favour of a larger movie and TV presence.
Great time Awesome panels (except the How to Write a Pitch panel) A lot of the actors and directors are much nicer than you’d expect. And a lot more involved in their medium than I thought (I’m looking at you, Brendan Fraser). Neil Gaiman is still amazing. I guess that’s not news, but rather just a confirmation that things haven’t changed Autographs I got
Neil Patrick Harris
(Inara from Firefly)
(Book from Firefly)
Franco (writer of Tiny Titans)
Celebrities I met, if ever so briefly
Neil Patrick Harris
Conclusion: A successful convention. Hope to make it next year.
Of course, you’ll get a mini report from my one day at Wizard World when I go there June 1st.
Adam Green, Barenaked Ladies, Cake, Concrete Blonde, Dan Bern, David Bowie, David Byrne, Electric 6, Geggy Tah, Moloko, Prozzak, Regina Spektor, Self, Shonen Knife, Talking Heads, The Duhks, The Kills, They Might Be Giants, Tom Waits, Weak Lazy Liar
2001, Before Sunrise, Brazil, Children of Men, Citizen Kane, Day the Earth Stood Still, Iron Giant, Jaws, Rear Window, Sleeper, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, The Graduate, The Hudsucker Proxy
Favorite TV Shows:
Arrested Development, Coupling, Cowboy Bebop, Dead Like Me, FLCL, Farscape, Firefly, Heroes, House, How I Met Your Mother, Invader Zim, Kids in the Hall, Lost, MASH, Pushing Daisies, Scrubs, Sports Night, UCB