ComicCon@Home: Bob’s Sunday 7/26 Panels reviewed

The inaugural ComicCon@Home 2020 is complete!  8 panels today for a total of 41 panels pretty much all focused on comic books, comic book history, and the craft of making comics.  Pretty darned good for a convention that according to some “isn’t about comics any more”.

Most of the comic book panels I reviewed had far fewer views (like 10% or less) of the views that the Hollywood panels that I’ll be blogging about tomorrow got .  It’s this disparity in “what more people tend to want to consume” that causes people to mistakenly assume there is an absence of comic books at SDCC.  They are not seeing a big spotlight on it, so they assume it doesn’t exist.  But just as objects do not cease to exist when you turn out the lights and can’t see them anymore, a strong comics focus has always existed at SDCC even though many people do not see the things that focus on them.

Hopefully this set of blogs (which will be seen by a tiny number of people) will let those few people know where to look for the comic book content at Comic Con.

Bob’s Recommended Sunday “Must See” Panels for comics fans:

Celebrating 80 Years of Will Eisner’s The Spirit (an essential rundown of an iconic character and master/pioneer of sequential storytelling)

Jack Kirby 101 (an awesome overview of “The King of Comics”)

More detailed information/reviews/links can be found below.

I’m not sure how long these will be viewable for free.  I’m guessing at least through the weekend and into next week, but I wouldn’t wait several weeks to watch any of these that you want to make sure you catch.

Sun 9am: IDW in 2020 and Beyond (originally aired Sat @ 2pm)

YouTube: https://youtu.be/tt4kEMGGENQ

Panel Description: Look ahead to everything new from IDW Publishing! Learn what’s next for your favorite series and much, much more! There’s nowhere better to get a behind-the-scenes look at IDW than this conversation with Chris Ryall (IDW president, publisher, and chief creative officer), John Barber (IDW editor-in-chief), and moderator George Gene Gustines (senior editor at the New York Times).

IDW touts themselves as an “alternative to Marvel & DC” which is true in that they are not focused on super-heroes to the exclusion of most else, but they do publish the “All Ages” Marvel Adventure line

Non-fiction offerings (like their previously published & award-winning “March” by John Lewis and “They Called Us Enemy” by George Takei) but now being done in partnership with the Smithsonian which opens them up to lots of topics, expertise, and Museum giftshops as a marketplace.

Chris Ryall also talked about an upcoming Locke & Key / Sandman story told by Joe Hill & Neil Gaiman!!  He also mentioned that the sales on Locke & Key collected editions have had a really big spike since the Netflix show came out, exposing the printed stories to a new and larger audience.

Licensed offerings: GI Joe, Transformers, Star Trek, Sonic the Hedgehog, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, My Little Pony – lots of talk about these if you’re into licensed properties (I’m not really zo I kind of zone out during this part).

And, of course, their classic comics collections & Artist’s Editions that I covered as part of the “Classic Comics” and “Jim Lee’s X-Men AE” panels I blogged about yesterday.  I did like Ryall’s description of the creator of the Artist’s Edition format Scott Dunbier as the “Indiana Jones of comic book art”

I’ll wrap this up by saying it’s a bit bittersweet seeing Chris Ryall on this panel given the press release on July 21st that announced Ryall was leaving IDW:

“In partnership with Ashley Wood and many of the talented creators he has worked with at IDW, Ryall is launching a new storytelling venture focused on the disparate worlds and characters that he brought to life at IDW Publishing.

Although he is stepping aside from his current roles at IDW, he will continue as an Executive Producer on the Netflix series, “Locke & Key,” and remain the sole editor on any Locke & Key publishing ventures going forward.”

RECOMMENDED?  8/10.

Sun 10am: Celebrating 80 Years of Will Eisner’s The Spirit

YouTube: https://youtu.be/r9sx3o1i1hY

Panel Description: Will Eisner’s The Spirit was seen weekly by five million newspaper readers in the 1940s and 50s and has been continually in print for the 80 years since. The Spirit was famous for its imaginative storytelling, film noir style, unforgettable characters, and stories. Since then, Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Darwyn Cooke, and many others have tried to match Will Eisner’s creativity with their own versions of the The Spirit. Join moderator Danny Fingeroth (A Marvelous Life: The Amazing Story of Stan Lee; Will Eisner Week Chair) and panelists Paul Levitz (Brooklyn Blood, Will Eisner: Champion of the Graphic Novel), Denis Kitchen (cartoonist, The Spirit publisher, Will Eisner’s agent and friend), and Dan Schkade (Lavender Jack, The Spirit artist) as they discuss The Spirit as Will Eisner wrote and drew him. Visit https://linktr.ee/willeisner for more info.

A great history of one of my favorite characters, The Spirit.  If you have never heard of The Spirit -or- don’t know that much about The Spirit, this panel is well worth watching to inform you about a significant character in comic book history.

Danny Fingeroth did a great job hosting this panel, he had it LOADED with samples of art and pictures of creators.  The panelists add targeted and informative color commentary as they go along, putting the stories into the appropriate historical perspective.

Things about Will Eisner I never knew:
Eisner created Sheena Queen of the Jungle under the pen name of W. Morgan Thomas.  Sheena was the first female comic book character with her own, her 1937 premiere preceded Wonder Woman’s 1st appearance in All-Star Comics #8 in 1941 and Wonder Woman #1 in 1942.

RECOMMENDED?  10/10. 

Sun 11am: Jack Kirby 101

YouTube: https://youtu.be/goc5NSe_wao

Panel Description: Comic-Con legend Mark Evanier (onetime Jack Kirby assistant, and author of Jack Kirby: King of Comics) and The Jack Kirby Collector’s John Morrow (TwoMorrows Publishing) join The Jack Kirby Museum’s Tom Kraft and Rand Hoppe for a discussion that will provide an introduction to Jack Kirby, the man, his work, and his influence on comics, comic conventions, and the culture at large.

I’ve been going to Evanier’s Kirby panels at SDCC every year for at least a decade and this was the best summary/overview/primer panel on Kirby I have ever seen.  It’s a great panel for people who don’t know about Kirby to get a nice basic introduction, and it’s a nice walk down memory lane for people familiar with his work.  The panelists have all seem to have Jack’s DC work as a “Kirby entry point” (late 50s Challengers of the Unknown or Green Arrow for Evanier, and Kirby’s Kamandi & Fourth World DC work from the 70s for the others).

Jack Kirby and his fans at a convention

Early on in the panel Mark Evanier points out how much Jack loved his fans (and people in general).  He was always willing to talk to fans, outside of his willingness to welcome fans into his home (which I never did) anyone could approach him at San Diego Comic Con and he would happily talk to them about anything, with a particular interest in talking about and getting to know the fan him or herself.  This was my experience when I met Jack and his wife Roz at SDCC in 1991/92.

Hal Foster’s Prince Valiant inspiring the look of Kirby’s The Demon

About 24 minutes in Evanier tells an amazing story about Jack coming of with “The Demon”.  Evanier looked up an old Prince Valiant page at Jack’s direction that Jack remembered having an image that inspired the look of The Demon (a very cool story I never heard before, especially because I love Prince Valiant.).

They talked about how much of an “idea man” Jack was, never liking to revisit old stuff he had done before, preferring to create new things.  When he saw someone saying he was going to do a character Jack had created “in the Kirby tradition”, Jack said “He doesn’t get it, if he wanted to do something in the Kirby tradition he’d create something new of his own.”  This is perhaps why I didn’t warm up to Kirby’s work on first exposure… which was him revisiting Captain America and Black Panther at Marvel in 1977.  I liked The Eternals and Machine Man a LOT more.   Personally, I really warmed up to Kirby when I saw his Fantastic Four stuff as reprints in Marvel’s Greatest Comics and his Captain America from Tales of Suspense in Marvel Double Feature.

RECOMMENDED?  10/10.   Essential viewing for anyone who calls themselves a comic book fan.

Sun Noon: The Craft of Worldbuilding in Comics

YouTube: https://youtu.be/HQMLm8ta7Ec

Panel Description: Image Comics creators Kieron Gillen (Ludocrats, Die), Stephanie Hans (Die), W. Maxwell Prince (Ice Cream Man), Mirka Andolfo (Mercy), and Sanford Greene (Bitter Root) enjoy a free-wheeling conversation on immersive, authentic worldbuilding technique in comics. Moderated by Marla Eizik, executive assistant at Image Comics.

Let me first say… I love the accents of Mirka Andolfo & Stephanie Hans!  W. Maxwell Prince had a poor connection near the beginning of the panel, but it cleared up later on.

A good panel for “process junkies” who like to hear creators talking about the craft of creation.  Building a credible world to place your characters in is so important.  People who aspire to be writers would benefit from watching this panel.

RECOMMENDED?  7/10. 

Sun 1pm: Masters of Storytelling (originally aired Sat @ 1pm)

YouTube: https://youtu.be/cldHpoDEwuo

Panel Description: The all-stars in storytelling from Image Comics–Ed Brubaker (Pulp, Cruel Summer), Chuck Brown (On The Stump), Alex de Campi (Dracula, Motherf**ker), Matt Fraction (Adventureman), and Emma Kubert (Inkblot)–reveal their secrets behind creating some of the best stories in comics. Moderated by Marla Eizik, executive assistant at Image Comics.

Recorded quite a while ago, this spent a bit too much time at the beginning having people give their “living in a covid world” update.  A few months later down the line of living in “covid reality” I’m just that much more tired of hearing people talk about their personal challenges with covid.  Your stories are an escape mechanism, help me escape by talking about your storytelling and stories and why I should want to read them (I guess unless you’re telling a story about and set in “covid reality”.

This is a benefit of the “watching it as a video”, it allowed me to skip around past the kind of whiny first 10 minutes.  Ultimately, they settled in and started just focusing in on their storytelling. 

They have an interesting discussion about 24 minutes in about the potential movement away from monthly comics to a more direct to OGN delivery mechanism for stories, what works better in that format, and the different writing skill-set involved in doing a story created for long form vs. what is required when you are serializing it in fragments.

RECOMMENDED?  7/10. 

Sun 3pm: BOOM! Studios: Discover Yours (originally aired Sun @ 11am)

YouTube: https://youtu.be/mXXAyssJLK8

Panel Description: BOOM! Studios returns with exclusive news about some of the year’s biggest new books–and first looks at your newest comic book obsessions! Join a star-studded panel of Sabaa Tahir (A Thief Among The Trees: An Ember in The Ashes Graphic Novel), Nicole Andelfinger (A Thief Among The Trees: An Ember in The Ashes Graphic Novel), Gabby Rivera (b.b. free), Matt Kindt (Folklords), and John Allison (Giant Days) discuss the diverse imprints of BOOM! Studios, Archaia, BOOM! Box and KaBOOM! and more surprises! Moderated by Filip Sablik (president, publishing and marketing, BOOM! Studios).

A good introduction to a diverse selection of comics coming out from BOOM!  Worth listening to if you want to see if these comics (which may not be stocked on the shelf of every comic shop) are telling stories you might like to be reading.

I’m always happy to hear one of my favorite creators, John Allison, talk about his new series Wicked Things.  Nice to hear him contrast Wicked things to one of my all-time favorite series Giant Days, which is set in the same Allison-verse as Wicked Things.

As often happens in these panels, hearing Sabaa Tahir talk about her story has made me very interested to check out her graphic novel “A Thief Among the Trees”, which is a prequel to her “Ember in the Ashes” prose novel series.

I will admit that when I heard Keanu Reeves was doing a comic I wasn’t particularly excited about it.  I’ve seen things with actors’ names attached to them before and they have generally not been impressed.  Then, hearing Matt Kindt talk about his collaboration with Keanu, how involved he is, and what he has brought to the table (added to how much I typically enjoy Kindt’s writing on his own), I’m now excited to check out the project.

RECOMMENDED?  8/10.

Sun 4pm: Public Domain Comics: From Sherlock Holmes to Mickey Mouse and Beyond

YouTube: https://youtu.be/YX6H7Q0v-Uk

Panel Description: The rich history of comic series, characters, creators and stories don’t disappear into history thanks to laws governing public domain intellectual properties. By looking at the public domain status and history of properties like Sherlock Holmes, Mickey Mouse, Amazing Man and many others we can learn much about preserving history and making old things new again. Join the lively discussion with Tom Mason (Uncensored Mouse editor), Dave Olbrich (Malibu publisher), Barry Gregory (writer/publisher Gallant Comics), and Michael Lovitz (trademark, copyright and entertainment attorney and Comic Book Law School® founder).

Fascinating conversation around the legalities and challenges surrounding publishing things supposedly in the public domain.  What you can and cannot do, and some of the other ins and outs.  This includes both reprinting material in the public domain as well as telling new stories using characters and worlds/settings that are in the public domain.  They pointed out that even if a specific character, sitting, or specific story is in the public domain, a trademark might still be active so that would have to be looked out for.  They gave several examples of this, including “The Green Lama” and the 1950s Daredevil (used by Dynamite as “The Death-Defying Devil”).

I learned of several comic titles I’ll be keeping an eye out for.  If you have ever thought about doing anything with a public domain character as a creator, you should absolutely listen to this panel.

RECOMMENDED?  8/10. 

Sun 5pm: The Art of Adapting Comics to the Screen: David S. Goyer Q&A (originally aired Sat @ 11am)

YouTube: https://youtu.be/Hg15UXVh72U

Panel Description: The writer behind such iconic comic book film and TV adaptations including Blade, Batman Begins, Constantine (TV), and Man of Steel–David S. Goyer–discusses his creative writing process and what it took to bring these beloved characters and tales from the page to the screen. Moderated by Backstory Magazine publisher Jeff Goldsmith.

This is a hybrid comic book / Hollywood panel.  Goyer is a dyed-in-the -wool comic book fan who would visit the comic shop weekly and read lots of comics, he is a true fan of the characters who understand the comics and he really tries to get the core concepts of comics translated into the films he works on.  Sometimes that works better than other times, but the effort happens and he clearly has a respect for the underlying comic books.

The panel begins with some comic con memories.  Goyer has the same memories that I do about con back when it was easy to just walk up to popular creators and interact with them without an hours long line and back when you could buy original art that was not astronomically expensive like it is today. I 100% related and agree with the following statement he made: “Once the studios discovered Comic Con it’s still fun to go, but it’s a different experience.”

I have a lot of respect for Goyer, especially after he expressed the following sentiment:

Something I have learned over the years adapting comic books is that when adapting these characters you need to understand what are the core components of the story, what are the basic elements of the myth the story is really about.  Make sure you understand them.  Make sure you like them.  And identify those first before you create a story, then tell a story using those elements.  If you come up with a story that starts breaking those elements, then you shouldn’t adapt that property. You should do something else.

Among the adaptions he discussed:

Crow: City of Angels – I’ll do it only if the title character can be a female… I don’t want to directly compare with or sully Brandon Lee’s memory.   Miramax immediately threw his initial treatment out the window saying they wanted to have a guy who looks like Brandon Lee.  He said he SHOULD have quite at that point, didn’t, and it was a miserable experience.

Nick Fury– He wrote the original treatment and it was optioned years later as a TV movie (with David Hasslehoff) with a greatly reduced budget. He opted out of having anything to do with it and it was subsequently pretty much totally rewritten, though his name was still attached to it.

Blade – He had read all the Tomb of Dracula comics and liked Blade.  This was the 1st time in his career that he was able to write what he wanted to write without a lot of interference.  When they budgeted what he had written it priced out at $48M and it ended up costing $55M (when they originally wanted to spend $6-8M.  They went ahead and did it anyway and it ended up being a pretty darn good movie.

Doctor Strange (in the 90s) – The Executives said, “there’s an awful lot of magic in this”, at which point he realized they had no idea who Dr. Strange was.  He said “Oh, I didn’t realize you don’t want Dr. Strange, you want Dr. Mundane.” At which point they fired him.

Batman Begins – It’s great to have a gap of years that were never explicitly documented in detail (in this case the years when Bruce goes overseas for training).  He opined that the only reason Batman Begins was able to happen was that the franchise has been ridden into the ground and Warner Brothers realized that they needed to give them the freedom to do something new.

The Man of Steel – This is the one where I tend to disagree with his general respect of the source material.  He understands the problems that some fans have with how he & Snyder adapted Superman.  They were trying to tell a Superman story that hadn’t been told before.  “Sometimes you have to take big swings.”  They took big swings in Dark Knight and they worked.  The big swings here (both the death of Jonathan Kent and the death of Zod) were not as successful.  He looks at the films as “Elseworlds Stories” and the comic-fan in him is showing in his even making that comparison.

The look at “how the sausage is made” on the process for translating source material to movie, with some of the bumps in the road that can happen along the way, was totally fascinating.

RECOMMENDED?  9/10.

Opinion piece by: Bob Bretall
(bob@comicspectrum.com)
http://comicspectrum.com/ By Fans who Love Comics For Fans who Love Comics

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