Wednesday, May 1, 2013

WonderCon 2013 - Anaheim

Attendee at WonderCon in Anaheim.
The photo above pretty much encapsulates the feeling of WonderCon in Anaheim. There were panels I liked and friends to check in with. We enjoyed hanging out with the Scooby Gang from the Comic Outpost. There's a big difference between having this convention at Moscone Center in the middle of downtown San Francisco and having it in Anaheim across the street from Disneyland.  The convention center itself is spacious and surrounded by supporting hotels. Every chain restaurant you can imagine is in the area. We had a quick visit to Disneyland one evening, and there's no denying how Disneyland completely dominates the "Anaheim Resort" area.  I don't think it helped that they scheduled the convention in direct competition with Spring Break/Easter weekend in Disneyland. Personally, spoiled by the SF Bay Area and the selection of urban delights (or not so delightful slices-of-life) nearby, Anaheim just felt really weird. I've read that the organizers are happy and considering doing WonderCon in both SF and Anaheim. As a Northern California person, we already come to So. Cal for San Diego ComicCon, and there's APE and other smaller conventions, I don't visualize making Anaheim a regular thing.

Anyway, enough ranting about Southern California and too many meals at Coco's... one of the good things about WonderCon is that the artists in Artist's Alley are generally less overwhelmed and more receptive than they are in San Diego. The organizers used a large space at the convention center called "the arena" this year, and aside from some initial confusion about how to get in there on the first day, it seemed to work out pretty well. In the arena I saw The Animation Show of Shows, 10 animated shorts curated by Ron Diamond of Acme Filmworks and There were many excellent films but the one that follows, The Centrifuge Brain Project, had me laughing out loud!

As usual, the Comic Arts Conference (the academic conference within the convention) had some informative panels. I found the first panel of the day about publishing, scholarship and teaching methods very useful. Since I am outside of the traditional academic path and writing/researching purely because I want to, sessions that discuss options related to publishing are very helpful. In the CAC session Comics in Higher Education, I very much appreciated Robert Weiner's (Texas Tech University) and Hannah Means-Shannon's (Georgian Court University) presentations on publishing, writing and blogging.  I also thought that Christina Angel's (Metropolitan State University of Denver) method of exposing her students to classic literature through comics was interesting, for example using V's speech in V for Vendetta as a way to into MacBeth. This strategy is probably common for people that are teaching in this area, but for me, as a non-academic, it was a good presentation.

The other CAC panel that really excited me was Comics and Form. I loved Karma Waltonen's (University of California, Davis) presentation on Asterios Polyp. I will re-read it soon, and will have her comments and visual analysis in mind. John Rodzvilla's (Emerson College) presentation on Wally Wood's 22 Panels That Always Work was really thought provoking and I'm sure that I will be seeing Wood's layouts in every comic panel I look at from now on (as it should be). Rounding out this panel was Michael J. Muniz (Liberty University) talking about efforts by comics artist to break through the 4th wall, using film and film theory as a reference  (like this train sequence in the 1931 Joan Crawford film Possessed, below).

There were good panels on writing, notably Barbara Randall Kesel's "how to deal with writer's block" session Where Do Ideas Come From?, Michael Lovitz and Comic Book Law School (my husband Marc will be on one of these panels at SDCC), and all kinds of spotlights on upcoming films, including Guillermo del Toro talking about his new monster epic Pacific Rim (WonderCon trailer).

All this, plus an evening at Disneyland! We did Star Tours (below) and Pirates of the Caribbean, which I hadn't been on since sometime in the 1980's. Yay (and thanks Josh & Jessica)!

A Swarm, A Flock, A Host

Darren Waterston, Plates II, VI, and X, from the portfolio
A Swarm, A Flock, A Host, 2013. Etching, aquatint, and spit-bite aquatint

On a recent visit to the Palace of Legion of Honor, I viewed Darren Waterston: A Compendium of Creatures in the small but always lovely Logan Gallery of Illustrated Books. I appreciated this modern take on the traditional bestiary with illustrations and corresponding comments/lessons. The companion publication is beautiful, and I've enjoyed reading it, but the images are a pale shadow of the pages on display at the Legion, with their sumptuous backgrounds and large scale compositions. Up into December, so there's lots of time to check it out.