Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Comics & Writer's Panels at SDCC

One more post to wrap up the rest of the doings at Comic Con. There was really so much going on that it made more sense to write about it in chunks. I keep reading articles saying that one of the underlying reasons for the huge success of the Con is the interaction that fans get with the creators and stars of various types of pop media.

Sometimes it's just straight-ahead pride in the geek nation. Although SDCC has outgrown some of the geek/nerd stereotype since the Hollywood invasion a few years ago, there are moments that still take me right back to the Con's roots. On Saturday, Marc & I caught the end of a panel with the creators of Green Lantern, and they ended the panel with 2,000 people standing with their fists raised reciting the Green Lantern oath from memory: "In brightest day, in blackest night, No evil shall escape my sight, Let those who worship evil's might, Beware my power, Green Lantern's light!" Of course, Marc and I were reciting right along with them. It was touching, and entirely appropriate, as the next person featured on that stage would be a man who has brought much light to the world, Ray Bradbury.

Ray (center of photo), is 89 and claims to have not missed a Con in San Diego throughout its 40 year history. Our joy in seeing him was slightly marred by what seemed like an endless stream of product announcements, taking up the first 20 minutes of the session. But when Ray finally got to talk it was magic. He brought a DVD of himself being interviewed by Mike Wallace on CBS News (w/W. Cronkite) on the night of the moon landing 40 years ago. It was great to celebrate that moment with Ray, and to see Cronkite again. Ray spoke about the need to help young children learn to read, and endorsed comics and other illustrated books to do the job, saying "I want Calvin and Hobbes in every classroom."

This lovefest was followed by another with the writer J. Michael Straczynski, who is originally from San Diego and absolutely loves the interaction with the fans. His Q & A sessions are both enlightening and funny. In different ways, J. and Ray have the same advice, "love what you do, and don't be afraid to fail." I finally got to meet JMS face-to-face for a signing, and of all things I blurted out the story of Ray and the moon landing. Who knows, maybe this was the story he needed to hear. He seems like a truly nice person, and I was happy to finally meet him.

Another session honored the great editorial cartoonist Pat Oliphant, who has been gracing the editorial pages of newspapers and magazines since the Nixon era. At this session he was given the "inkpot" award, a life-time achievement award for cartoonists. Throughout the session he drew in charcoal, one political caricature after another, Nixon, Agnew, Condi, Cheney, Bush, Clinton, Obama, even Palin getting screwed by a moose. It was incredible to see his mastery over his medium and materials. This is an creative area people don't think of when they think of Comic Con, but every year they feature several panels and focused sessions with legendary political/editorial cartoonists.

There were more great comics creator panels this year than I can possibly mention, some of the best I attended were the Underground Comics panel, with Denis Kitchen and Trina Robbins, pictured on the left. Trina did an excellent presentation on her Nell Brinkley project which is still at the Cartoon Art Museum in SF. There was the annual Jack Kirby Tribute panel; a panel on graphic novels with many of the artists currently doing great stories and cutting edge work like Seth, Gene Yang and Jason Lutes and a panel about the work and legacy of the "Mad" genius Harvey Kurtzman. At the wild and crazy Aspen Comics showcase, I heard the latest scoop on the company's recovery after the unfortunate loss of their founder, artist Michael Turner, and their plans to capture some of their properties on film (Fathom and Soulfire are both being developed with major studios/production companies).

Of course, we also jumped on the opportunity to add to our collection of original comic book pages. I was happy to acquire additional artwork drawn by Joyce Chin (Red Sonja, Witchblade) pictured with me on the left, and Wonder Woman artist Aaron Lopresti. I'm sure our ever-growing collection will always contain work by them.

1 comment:

  1. There's a more detailed account of the Ray Bradbury panel here http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=136767665349&ref=mf