Sunday, April 3, 2011

Saturday at WonderCon 2011

View of the exhibit floor above the DC Booth.
WonderCon has grown up. My husband Marc and I started going around 10 years ago when it was in the basement of the Downtown Oakland Marriott, now it truly looks like San Diego Comic Con junior. For the last two years I’ve had a conflict with other conference that I attend regularly and had only been in & out on Sunday afternoons, so the crowd on the exhibit floor Saturday really took me by surprise. Although I have no real statistics on the matter, I saw a lot of bodies around the booths and money changing hands, so I hope all the exhibitors did well this year. Here are some notes on sessions I attended on Saturday:

Over at the Aspen Comics spotlight session, I felt that the company as a whole recovered fairly well from the tragic loss of Michael Turner. Soulfire continues to be one of my favorite fantasy series. One thing I’ve always liked about their books, and hadn’t realized was an conscious company policy, is that they don’t do many crossover books. They feel, rightly I think, that each of their specific books is set in its own world, and there aren’t many ways to bring those worlds together that aren’t really contrived and illogical. Personally, I’ve been suffering from Brightest/Siege/Crisis burn-out, and I wish some other companies thought this way. They also said that they have finally got a solid team working on Fathom, another really interesting and unique title.

Following the Aspen panel was the spotlight session on the legendary writer Marv Wolfman. I thought it was interesting to hear his war stories about projects like Crisis on Infinite Earths, but I really liked hearing him speak about his writing process, how he maintained interest in a book focused on an unsympathetic villain for the long run of Tomb of Dracula, within all the limitations he faced on that series; how he built the “family” relationships between the characters of the New Teen Titans and of the Legion of Superheroes by thinking of them in complimentary and conflicting triangles; the complications of researching his latest non-comics work, Homeland: the Illustrated History of the State of Israel (with Mario Ruiz & William J. Rubin). I thought it was odd that he seemed to talk about everything but Blade, but then, maybe it’s a topic he feels has been discussed enough. It cracked me up when he told us that Marvel hired him because they thought it would be funny to have someone named Wolfman writing horror titles.

As a big animation fan, I really enjoyed the Marvel animation session. Geoff Johns started with a tease of the upcoming Ultimate Spiderman series, which looked really good and continued with a full episode of The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes (trailer here), which featured the birth of Ultron. It rocked, the audience loved it. Next we saw clips from the anime series Marvel is rolling out starting this July on the G4 Network, starting with Iron Man and Wolverine (trailer here, in Japanese), with the X-Men and Blade in the works. I’m looking forward to seeing more of these. Iron Man and Wolverine seemed like a natural fit with the anime style of drawing and editing, especially Wolverine, who has had so many epic story arcs set in Japan.

Godzilla #1, WonderCon Exclusive
I’m really excited about IDW’s relaunch of Godzilla. I was always disappointed that the Godzilla series published by Dark Horse a few years ago never seemed to find an audience (I own several pieces of original art from that series). It sounds like IDW has established a good relationship with Toho, and has been able to license a dozen of the major monsters in the Godzilla universe (Mothra, Rodan, etc). The art, by Phil Hester, Victor Santos and others really captured the scale, mystery, and kookiness of Godzilla.

Otherwise, we bought lots of books. I was happy to find one of current favorite artists, Marko Djurdjevic, sketching completely unnoticed at the Marvel booth. Marc was happy to catch up with Darick Roberson at the Comic Outpost booth and get an original Witchblade cover drawing from him. I’m sorry to miss the Sunday panel organized by Trina Robbins and Jennifer K. Stuller, A Brief Herstory of Gum Shoe Gals, Spy-Fi Sheroes, and Private Dick Chicks, as it grew in response to the somewhat uneven Action Chicks panel at SDCC last year. I hope it went well, and they repeat it in SDCC this summer.