Friday, November 21, 2008


The 12th Annual Small Format Art Sale:

LAB Members Preview Reception: Friday, December 5, 2008: 5-6pm Opening Reception: Friday, December 5, 2008: 6-9pm. Sale continues: Saturday, December 6 & Sunday, December 7: noon - 6 pm. Free admission

A great opportunity to find orginial art to give as Christmas gifts! I'm delivering some postcard size watercolor paintings and a few inkject prints of some of my larger pieces to The Lab today. All artwork in the show priced at $30.00 or less. I visualize many, many little boxes of postcard size artwork. I haven't seen the exact setup yet, but the title of my "box" will be Myths & Leaves.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Ray Stevens at Comic Outpost this Sunday

Ray Stevenson star of Punisher: War Zone (December 5 release) & HBO’s Rome (he's Titus Pullo) will be in at Comic Outpost this Sunday, November 23rd from 2 – 3pm. Comic Outpost is at 2381 Ocean Avenue (near Junipro Serra). San Francisco, Ca. 94127, 415-239-2669 . Not that I'm a huge Punisher fan (although some of you may be), but Rome is a great series.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Ms Marvel #32: Torture Porn in Comics

My husband and I have been serious comics collectors for years. We collect a wide range of titles, from mainstream superhero books to foreign titles and more “arty” fare. Like many collectors, we have our local comics store (Comics Outpost on Ocean Avenue, a great store and community) set certain titles aside for us every month. I’ve enjoyed the Marvel House of MCivil WarSecret Invasion trajectory, so I’ve been following many of the titles that have supporting roles in these company-wide crossover stories, like Ms. Marvel.

Ms. Marvel has historically been an uneven title. Unable to solidify her character, writers have often used her adventures (or misadventures) to serve as convenient plot twists in support of more popular characters. The Ms. Marvel/Carol Danvers character seemed to find more definition a couple years ago after the events of House of M and the launch of the New Avengers, and aside from the occasional inane plot line has been fairly readable. Last week I sat down with our latest stack of Marvel comics, and discovered that I had somehow wound up with the Ms. Marvel torture porn issue.

It’s no secret that extreme things happen to characters in comics, both male and female. I can deal with a couple tough pages in the context of the story. In the case of dark, tormented characters like Moon Knight, Batman, the Darkness and Wolverine, overcoming extremes of violence and degradation is part of the character’s development. After collecting Wolverine for several years, I finally dropped it after one particularly heinous story (#56) - Wolverine, a practically indestructible character that can regenerate, was trapped in a pit and shot at with machine guns around the clock; he gets out by playing on the psyche of one of the gunners, then slaughters everyone. On top of being disgusted by this story, I realized that the writers had no where left to go with this long-running and over-exposed character, and it was unlikely anything really interesting would ever happen again.

Ms. Marvel is not generally portrayed as a brooding anti-hero and in this case, her captivity is related to a shady government conspiracy. The context of her story may be different, but the same bankruptcy of original thought haunts Ms. Marvel #32. At the end of #30, Carol confronts a man from her past about a secret weapons program called Ascension (in #32, we see he was the one who tortured her). Issue #31 is a detour to visit her estranged family, including her emotionally distant father, now dying of cancer. At the beginning of #32, a flashback story written by Brian Reed, Carol ( before she acquires super powers) is a hot shot Air Force test pilot. She meets billionaire weapons manufacturer Tony Stark (aka Iron Man, her future colleague/boss) on the airstrip as she is about to take a test flight in a plane that Stark designed. The plane is shot down over a fictional middle eastern country occupied by the Taliban. She crashes and is held and tortured by the men that find her. When she finally makes her harrowing escape, she discovers that the men that tortured her are somehow connected to the CIA and a program called Ascension. With her broken arm and leg shrouded in a burka-like outfit, she fades into a crowd in the last panel. As of this writing, #33 isn’t out yet, but it seems a logical progression that Stark will reappear to be involved in her recovery, and that this is likely to be a bonding experience that helps establish strong feelings of mutual loyalty and respect between them.

You might be asking, what is unique about this story? If you follow comics, you probably recognize this as the type of plot line feminist comics writer Gail Simone pointed out in her well-known 1999 work Women in Refrigerators, in which female characters undergo extremes of emotional or physical trauma often to further the development of a better known male character. Ms. Marvel #32 should “rise” to #1 on this top ten list of worst offenders. Visually, it’s a startling piece of work. Carol (the busty, blond, tough talking pilot) has a broken leg from the plane crash, is stripped to her underwear, electrocuted, her nails pulled out, has a finger cut off with garden shears, and finally her arm is crushed by a blow with a sledgehammer. Out of 23 pages of story, 11 pages depict misery and torture. Every assault and reaction is skillfully and sensuously portrayed in great detail by penciler Paulo Siqueira and inker Amilton Santos, much like Brian Bolland’s famously cinematic depiction of the shooting of Barbara Gordon in The Killing Joke.

In the context of this story arc, the authors may feel that showing the details of the torture and how Carol fought back helps to establish credibility for this long misused character. I’m sure it’s the fantasy of abused people everywhere to magically obtain superpowers and then beat the crap out of their abuser (I know it would be mine). Perhaps one could stretch this thinly veiled S&M fantasy into a critical comment on the medieval policies of the Bush Administration, with a female American military officer on the receiving end of the kind of treatment the US dished out at Gitmo, Abu Ghraib and elsewhere. When confronted with this bleak imagery in the actual book, it’s hard to visualize a plot line that justifies this kind of blatant pandering. Unfortunately, torture as entertainment has become such a common theme in contemporary media that nobody really questions it anymore. I imagine this Ms. Marvel story is intended to visually appeal to the fans of films like Saw and Hostel, or the cynical “torture someone, it’s sweeps week” attitude of a TV series like 24 or La Femme Nikita. Although there seem to be endless rationalizations and analyses of why people enjoy watching graphic depictions of torture, and I have to admit that on an emotional level the fascination with torture porn is still a total mystery to me. Any thoughts?

Addendum 9/09. Well, it turns out that this story didn’t go quite in the direction I thought it would, and good for the writers, although this was still a disgusting issue, and I haven’t followed Ms. Marvel regularly since. Deepening the mystery (as far as I'm concerned anyway) Entertainment Weekly (7/31/09 issue) ran an article by Christine Spines entitled Horror Films and the Women That Love Them. The article claims that a huge percentage of the audience for slasher horror films is female. This is probably no surprise to those of you who watch movies like this and notice the make-up of the audience in attendance, but I was really surprised. I admit that I am still puzzled and intrigued by this cultural phenomenon.

Friday, October 31, 2008

SPE & FAMSF Exhibition News

Two friends have exhibitions that recently opened in San Francisco! Tom Griscom has three photos featured in the Society for Photographic Education (SPE) West Region’s Inspiration show at the Academy of Art University's Sutter Street Gallery in downtown San Francisco. The three photos picked for this show are from Tom’s labor landmarks series, based on maps and locations found the Labor Landmarks of San Francisco book by the Labor Archives and Research Center at SFSU. Tom’s work should be on display through the conference dates in mid-November.

Mark Johnson’s labor of love, Asian/American/Modern Art: Shifting Currents, 1900–1970 is finally open at the de Young though January 18, 2009. According to the Fine Arts Museum’s web site, “Asian American Modern Art: Shifting Currents, 1900–1970 presents the work of artists of Asian ancestry who lived and worked in the United States. This exhibition represents the first comprehensive survey of these artists, and seeks to advance awareness of this under-represented group in American art history. Their art reflects the currents of identity and style that shift between aesthetics of diverse international geographies. This exhibition is rich in variety and demonstrates the wealth of Asian American art using masterpieces spanning seventy years. Nearly 100 works by 60 artists, many of whom had their work exhibited at the de Young or Legion of Honor in earlier decades, are included.” Our friend Renee, who organizes the weekly Friday night extravaganzas, has all sorts of great music, food and other activities planned in support of the show, check the museum's events calendar to see the latest. All Friday night events are free. Best of luck to Tom and MJ on their shows, I hope to see them soon!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

24 Hour Comics & The New Deal - 2 Great Events in SF!

A quick post to mention 2 great events I experienced in SF over the last couple days: First, the 24 Hour Comics Jam hosted by Comic Outpost on Ocean Avenue. As I'm writing it's still going on, and will continue overnight. The artists, members of Cartoonist Conspiracy, are attempting to draw a 24 page comic in 24 hours (11 am 10/18 to 11 am 10/19). When Marc and I were there earlier, the place was packed with artists drawing, and onlookers eating pizza and checking out the sale. If you want comics tonight at 3am, this is the place. More info on the Comic Outpost site. I'm sure Gary B. will post photos of the event on his site shortly afterward, unfortunately my cell snaps were too blurry to share (looks like people drawing and eating pizza underwater).
The second event was the Reviving the New Deal conference at CCSF (10/16 & 17). It was amazingly well attended for a conference on an absolutely gorgeous Friday afternoon! The two panels I attended were about Teaching the New Deal and the Art of the New Deal. Given the current financial problems in this country, it was astounding to hear people talking all afternoon about how the government actually stepped in and helped people back then. The government invested money in things like building schools, libraries and town halls and they put people to work, even artists. CCSF itself was a WPA project, flaunting a wealth of Deco architecture and Diego Rivera murals.
In the photo to the left, Archie Green told the audience stories of the theatre, songs and other Laborlore of the WPA era. He worked for the CCC and reminisced about men hauling boulders around to build the Tamalpais Theatre. Other speakers included Lincoln Cushing, who talked about silkscreen prints (he has a labor poster book coming out soon); Catherine Powell from the Labor Archives at SFSU; Gray Brechin who spearheaded the California Living New Deal project; and Martin Meeker from the California Council on the Humanities, who showed us an impressive new web site called We Are California, that has collected the stories of immigrants (both foreign and domestic). It's probably wishful thinking, but I hope that someday soon, our government decides that people are worth bailing out too.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Photos of YBCA Walking Tour 10/4

After days of hearing forecasts of pouring rain on Saturday afternoon, it turned out to be a beautiful day in San Francisco. Kim, Jessica, Valerie and Catherine led a group of about 15 participants around the stencil sites, starting at YBCA and continuing to SFMOMA, the Asian Art Museum, Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, Davies Symphony Hall, the War Memorial Opera House, the Herbst Theatre and the Lusty Lady.

What isn't obvious in these photos is that this was also the weekend of the Love Fest and parade, which climaxed at civic center about the same time we were there. It was challenging to be heard, but there was lots to look at (tons of photos on Flickr). On the whole, we think everyone enjoyed it. Thanks to YBCA for inviting us!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Walking Tour of Stencil Sites - Oct 4

Syndicate, a collaborative project celebrating unionized workers in San Francisco performance and art spaces, has been included as part of the GroundScores component of Bay Area Now 5, showing at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts from 7/19/08-10/13/08. The walking tour features street stencils of historic photographs in front of theatres and museums starting downtown at YBCA and SFMOMA and then continuing to civic center (Asian Art Museum, Bill Graham Civic, Davies Symphony Hall, the Opera House and the Herbst Theatre). Some of the stencils are also shown in the gallery exhibition, which also includes a video by Jessica Tully (video/stencils/performance artist) along with text by Kim and photography by Tom Griscom & Wendy Crittenden. The guided tour will be led by Kim, Jessica, Catherine Powell (from the SFSU Labor Archives, another collaborator), Valerie Imus (GroundScores curator) and other guests from noon to 2:30 on Sat, 10/4.

Because of the Love Fest parade on Market Street and Civic Center, and the possibility of driving rain on Saturday, we may be forced to postpone this tour. If you plan to come, please e-mail Kim at kim_munson (at) or call YBCA at 415.978.2787 to check for current information. Click here to see more images and information on YBCA's web site.

Kim, Tom & Wendy will be presenting at SFSU on this topic on the evening of 10/20.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Of Asian Art, and Authors…

It seems that in honor of the Olympics, every museum and gallery in the Bay Area decided to focus on some facet of Chinese or Asian art. This brought us an opportunity to explore many different aspects of Chinese art we don’t usually see, and to compare and contrast (every art historian’s favorite).

Particularly of note were two large museum shows, The Ming Dynasty show at the Asian Art Museum (closed), and the Dreams of a Half Life show at SFMOMA (closes 10/5). Although most of the contemporary works in the Dreams show reference modern China and the changes that have occurred since the end of the Mao era, the artistic traditions formed and carried forward from the Ming Dynasty still provide a foundation for many of the works on view. Through these shows I gained new insights into a culture that is so often misunderstood and yet inexorably entwined with ours.

Perhaps the Asian connection seems ubiquitous to me at the moment because I seem to be surrounded by friends talking and writing about Asia. Law Professor husband Marc has been relentlessly slogging through tons of research on China, calligraphy and intellectual Property law in the East & West in order to finish a law review article that he will be presenting at Tulane University in New Orleans next week. He did this while juggling law school politics, the beginning of the term and movie star clients. Even though we’ve been married for 10 years, I’m always impressed by his ability to put together amazing intellectual arguments under pressure. His next planned article, focusing on the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, will also involve a panel at either WonderCon or San Diego Comic Con next summer.

Japanese Influence on Graphic Art Book CoverAnother friend, teacher and curator Hannah Sigur, accomplished the Herculean task of authoring a complex book while maintaining an insane schedule lecturing at SFSU, UC Davis and Berkeley Extension. Her book The Influence of Japanese Art on Design, published by Gibbs, Smith, will be out by the end of October. The press release says ” This stunning book explores the story of Japan as the catalyst of modern design in the Gilded Age. Sigur juxtaposes glass, silver and metal arts, ceramics, textiles, furniture, jewelry, advertising and packaging with a spectrum of Japanese materials ranging from one-of-a-kind art crafts to mass-produced ephemera, showing the ways that Japanese arts and ideas about Japan set the course to our modern design.” The advance copy I saw was absolutely beautiful. I had the good fortune to be Hannah’s teaching assistant for a class based on the draft of this book, and as a person who worked in graphic design for many years, I can say it was a real eye opener. So many of the graphic design elements we take for granted were borrowed from the Japanese aesthetic that it blows me away to think of it. The book will be available at many bookstores, museum stores and Amazon.

As Hannah has begun a series of speaking engagements related to the book, I am filling in for her at SFSU on Sept 25 (Thurs) from 9-10:30 in Burk Hall room 226. I will be doing my Chinese calligraphy lecture. In this lecture I establish some of the historical background of the calligraphic arts in China up to the Cultural Revolution, and then spend 80% of the lecture talking about Modern and Avant-Garde calligraphy, and artists that are using calligraphic traditions in installation art.

While we are on the subject of authors, Fred Glass, communications director of the California Teacher’s Association, is also teaching from a draft of his book (with Joanne Barkan), From Mission to Microchip: A History of the California Labor Movement. We (the class) have only read up to chapter 10 at this point but I’m very impressed with his research and plain-spoken explanations of complex issues. Hopefully all this intellectual activity will help me power my way through my own on-going book project (the Labor Labels project; currently I am writing about the history of the arm and hammer symbol).

Friday, August 29, 2008

Syndicate continues at YBCA through 10/13

Syndicate, a collaborative project celebrating unionized workers in San Francisco performance and art spaces has been included as part of the GroundScores component of Bay Area Now 5, showing at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts from 7/19/08-10/13/08. The walking tour features street stencils of historic photographs in front of theatres and museums both downtown and at civic center. Some of the stencils are also shown in the gallery exhibition, which also includes a video by Jessica Tully (video/stencils/performance artist) along with text by Kim and photography by Tom Griscom & Wendy Crittenden.

There will be a guided tour with Kim, Jessica, Catherine Powell (from the SFSU Labor Archives, another collaborator) and other guests from noon to 2:30 on Sat, 10/4. Get tickets for the tour on YBCA's web site. Kim, Tom & Wendy will be presenting at SFSU on this topic on the evening of 10/13.

Friday, August 22, 2008

New Labor Landmarks site

Tom Griscom has built a new section onto his web site featuring the photography he's been doing for the SF Labor Landmarks project (in collaboration with photographer Wendy Crittenden, myself and Catherine Powell of the SFSU Labor Archives). There's also another photo from this project in my August 3rd posting. This project is still looking for a home, so please contact me if you have ideas.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Another opinion on the Chihuly show at the de Young

I had a chance to get a second look at the infamous Chihuly exhibit at the de Young last week. It’s the first time I’ve gotten back there since Kenneth Baker ripped the show apart in the SF Chronicle. Another curator friend echoes Baker’s criticism, saying “seeing the Chihuly show is like going to Pottery Barn.”

“Educated viewers cannot look for long at Chihuly's work without wishing there were something to think about," says Baker, "So they think about something else. “ He states that Chiluly’s work is not capable of holding our attention in the museum or upon reflection later. Perhaps it’s due to the endless amount of time I’ve spent contemplating the issues of high and low art as it relates to comics, comic art, pop art & fine art, but I find lots things to think about, both in the gallery and after. In the case of the Tabac baskets, for example, which are used as prime target for criticism, I can only speak for myself as an artist when I say that when I study another work that closely and consider it long enough to add my own interpretation, I am usually honoring that work in some way. To me this reverence is clear in the way that the glass pieces and the baskets are displayed. Although they aren’t spot lit, as Baker points out, the baskets have a real presence in the room. The baskets didn’t have to be there. The glass could have been displayed in any number of ways, yet the baskets from Chihuly’s personal collection are included for the viewer’s appreciation and education. How often are Native American baskets included in blockbuster exhibitions? Seeing both together, the viewer can appreciate the organic forms and patterns of both.

I often agree with Baker’s assessment of work in the Chron, but in this particular review he sounded very elitist to me. Baker is clear about what he thinks of as "high" glass art and that he thinks of Chihuly's work as "low" art that should be sold at Gump's. He says that these days only "intellectual content still distinguishes art from knickknacks." I can’t say that I loved every bit of work in the show, but the “reeds,” and the chandeliers are worth seeing, and anyone who loves plants will enjoy it. However you parse Chihuly's intellectual intentions, I think there is still a place in the art world for work that has emotional impact and revels in the shear joy of mastery over craft and material.

The exhibition has been packed as people flock to the de Young to see what all the hooha is about. As a de Young staffer told me when I expressed sympathy about the bad review, “everybody has their opinion. People love to see car crashes and are coming to see what could possibly be so bad. If this is the response we will get from bad reviews, bring it on.“ Yes, it’s flamboyant, and I didn’t leave the exhibit thinking about existential angst, but it did provoke thought about high & low, respect for organic forms and the creative process. Does art have to be a bummer to be “important”?

Friday, August 8, 2008

Valuation by Illustration?

Do you think a work of art’s valuation is driven by how many times its photo has appeared in 33 art history textbooks published between 1990 & 2003? Economist David Galenson, according to the New York Times (article here), has a new book out ranking the top art works using just that method. Since the most famous works of art are rarely sold, he decided that the next best indicator of a work’s importance was to count up how many times it had been reproduced in textbooks. Explaining his thinking on this, Galenson says, “Important artists are innovators whose work changes the practices of their successors, the greater the changes, the greater the artist.” This seems a bit too black & white for me... but first, here's Galenson's list of the top ranked works:

1. Picasso’s Demoiselles (28 illustrations)
2. Vladimir Tatlin’s Monument to the Third International (25)
3. Smithson’s Spiral Jetty (23)
4. Hamilton’s Just What Is It That Makes Today’s Homes So Different, So Appealing? (22)
5. Umberto Boccioni’s Unique Forms of Continuity in Space tied with Picasso’s Guernica (21)
6. Duchamp’s Fountain (18)
7. Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2 (16)

As you can imagine, many critics don’t agree with this method, saying that it is too limited (among other things). Arthur Danto, for example, points out that there is much more diversity in recent textbooks. Galenson’s answer to his critics is that they “don’t see the value in quantitative methods.” While many of these works may have helped establish various art movements, some of them aren't well known outside art history classes. I won't repeat the whole article here, but there's a pretty lively critical debate if you are interested.

For myself, I can see some merit to this. The art world and its institutions are one big network, constantly reinforcing ideas of what’s “important” or valuable. For better or worse, we all refer back to the same cannon. So, the textbook idea does make sense. On the other hand, there’s so much more going on that makes art influential. Just to round things out in terms of publications, one should include reproductions or citations in academic journals, magazine articles, or other art books. I also think it's odd that he doesn't mention the classical works that formed the basis of our visual language (for example, it's hard to believe the Mona Lisa or the Birth of Venus aren't in the top 8). What about Monet and Turner? Cezenne? What about the rest of the world? Asian & African art was very influential, plus great art in their own right. Galenson doesn't explain his criteria in the NYT article, so I guess I will have to read his book and see if he makes a convincing argument.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

YBCA/BAN5 Syndicate project

Syndicate, a project celebrating unionized workers in San Francisco performance and art spaces has been included as part of the GroundScores component of Bay Area Now 5, showing at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts from 7/19/08-10/13/08. The walking tour features street stencils of historic photographs in front of theatres and museums both downtown and at civic center. Some of the stencils are also shown in the gallery exhibition, which also includes a video by Jessica Tully (video/stencils/performance artist) along with photography by Tom Griscom & Wendy Crittenden. Kim researched & coordinated this project, including the city permits process and writing & recording parts of the podcast.

There will be a guided tour with Kim, Jessica, Catherine Powell (from the SFSU Labor Archives, another collaborator) and other guests from noon to 2:30 on Sat, 10/4. Get tickets for the tour on YBCA's web site.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Dual Views: Labor Landmarks of San Francisco

Reds Java, Sailors Union, Copra Crane, view from Sailors Union
Drawing on the research, archival photos, and maps collected in the SFSU Labor Archive's upcoming Labor Landmarks book,and their own visits to these sites of historical importance to the San Francisco labor movement, Crittenden (color) and Griscom (b&w) have created intriguing contemporary views of those sites in their contrasting yet complimentary styles. Photography is completed, we are assembling a package to find a home in the bay area for this show. We plan a gallery exhibition coupling this series of large scale photographic works with related historical information and period photos. There is a pdf of our proposal on my archive page.

Thoughts about SDCC 2008

I just paid my yearly visit to San Diego. The Comic-Con crowd is apparently the largest ever, estimated at 135,000 attendees (my guess is more). I've heard rumours that the Con might someday move to Vegas or LA if San Diego can't come up with a way to accomodate the increasing crowds, I hope this doesn't happen. In LA and Vegas there are all kinds of distractions, in San Diego we can focus on the Con.

I hate to say that I missed my chance to see Hugh Jackman, Gerard Butler, the Watchman panel, and all the other amazing treats the Hollywood studios shipped down to San Diego. The lines were so overwhelming that we pretty much gave up on Hall H throughout, worried that we would spend so much time in line that we would miss everything else.

For me, it’s the “everything else” that is the most interesting. So here’s a list of other events and panels that made this year’s Con, crazy as it was, an experience not to be missed.

At the top of my list are two of my favorite writers, Ray Bradbury and J. M. Stracznski. I’ve loved Ray since high school. He’s 88 now and still inspiring. At one point someone in the audience asked him how it felt to know that he inspired several generations of writers, and he looked out at us and said, “yes, you are all my bastard children, and I love you all.” JMS is definitely a bastard child of Ray B. As usual he began his session with a ten minute “state of JMS” talk and then spent the rest of his hour answering questions from the floor. Of particular interest to me were his stories about Babylon 5, as I'm a big fan and there were 6 people convincingly dressed up as cast members in the second row.

My most prized swag was a detailed storyboard from the first animated Avengers movie depicting Ultimate Thor, signed by Stan Lee. We also bought 6 new pages of original artwork; a Red Sonia page by Joyce Chin; an Ultimate Thor page by Greg Land (from the Ultimate Power series); 2 current Wonder Woman pages, one by Aaron Lopresti and one by Ron Randall. We also got 2 early Witchblade pages drawn by Michael Turner.

One of the saddest, yet sweetest events of the con was the tribute to Michael Turner. Against a backdrop of slides, his friends, fans and family got up and talked about what MT meant to them. Mark Silvestri told a funny story about MT first coming to Top Cow. MS asked MT to draw a building, he worked at it very earnestly and came back with something that looked “like a loaf of bread.” MS found a book of Manhattan architecture and said copy this. He worked at it earnestly and returned with a fabulous MT style drawing, saying “no one had ever told him it was ok to look at a picture before.” The rest is history. I still hope to include Turner’s work in the “Looney Lineage” show I’m co-curating in 2010, it would be an honor to have him.

It seemed like every sixth guy was dressed as the Joker this year. Oddly the one that looked the most like HL wasn’t at the Con, he was the host at the Hard Rock. It was really fun to see a crew set up a whole park full of clay warriors to promote the new Mummy movie across the street from the convention center.

Marc, the Sci-fi channel junkie, got the fanboy trifecta – Amanda Tapping (Stargate/Sanctuary), Katee Sackhoff and Trisha Helfer (Battlestar Galactica). Of course he enjoyed seeing the rest of the cast of these shows too. Another favorite was the Dollhouse/Dr. Horrible panel with Joss Wedon, Kevin Smith, Eliza Dudku, Neil Patrick Harris and Nathan Fillion.

Fillion also appeared on the DC animation panel, as he was the voice of Steve Trevor in the upcoming Wonder Woman movie – which looks great! Not so great was a panel on Hamlet 2. The clips looked fun, but the cast, producer and director looked stiff and uncomfortable. The movie was heavily promoted, with 5 or 6 guys dressed as “sexy Jesus” walking around the Con together. The panel was anticlimactic. Another disappointment was a panel featuring fantasy writer talking about folklore and mythological beings (angels, werewolves, etc…). Somehow the questions never seemed to get below the surface.

Being an art historian, I enjoyed many of the Comic Arts Conference panels organized by Peter Coogan. The best one I saw was on “Reinventing the Superhero” with presentations by Charles Hatfield (CSU-Northridge, writing about Kirby & Fantastic Four), Dana Anderson (Maine Maritime Academy, writing about the X-Men and lobbying for a character research database, and Seth Blazer (University of Florida, writing about the American public’s attraction to superheroes post- 9/11). Another treat, at the end of the day on Sunday, was the Deepak Chopra/Grant Morrison panel. Always focused on the BIG picture these two loosely talked about the spirituality of superheroes in our violent and confused world.

It was beautiful in San Diego, I actually managed to get out to see the Georgia O’Keeffe show at the San Diego Museum of Art and have some fabulous cucumber mojitos at the Prado restaurant. Other good drinks were had in the beautifully remodeled bar at the US Grant hotel. On the whole, a great trip.