A Picture’s Worth Special Supplement: “Comic-Con 2012: So Far, So Fun.”
All contents ©2012 Mike Pascale. Visual content ©2012 their respective owner(s).
Hello from San Diego! Just wanted to throw you wonderful readers a few tidbits from Comic-Con this year like I did last year. Wednesday night was Preview Night—which is basically day one of the show as it’s open to everyone.
Thankfully, though, not as many attend PN so some of the aisles are clearer (or rather, not as ungodly congested) so photo opps for many booths are easier. Towards the end of the evening, the incredible Sideshow Collectibles area, always a highlight, had only a handful of people! They somehow seem to outdo themselves in quality and detail every year. In addition to a massive STAR WARS collection, they had extensive Marvel and DC figures of all sizes.
I spent most of Preview Night checking out the Fantasy Art section and chatting with artists, including Gary Gianni, William Stout and Donato Giancola.
Gary just retired from drawing the PRINCE VALLIANT strip but has some interesting other projects in the works, including an illustrated novella.
I showed Bill Stout a copy of COVEN 13, issue 2 (Nov. 1969) which I picked up in an antique store. Turns out that magazine was his first professional job. He painted the covers for the first four issues, as well as contributing some b/w line art to the interiors. One such interior story was Harlan Ellison’s story, “Rock God,” for issue 2. Bill heard thru the grapevine that Harlan hated his art.
Not too long afterward, the two were guests at a convention. When Ellison walked by Bill’s table, Stout yelled out, “I heard you hated my artwork on your story!” Harlan was taken aback by the confrontational tone but approached Bill’s table. He bought one of everything Bill was selling and the two have been friends ever since.
Donato Giancola was selling and showing an amazing 4-hour long DVD documenting the process behind his recent Joan of Arc painting. He also had the painting there—and I am not hyperbolizing when I say it looks like it came from the Baroque wing of the National Gallery of Art—as if Rubens had helped paint it!
Just amazing. And talking shop with him was a blast—he’s very outgoing, down-to-earth and delightfully enthusiastic. His love of Rubens as well as guys like Frazetta and John Buscema were obvious, and inspiring.
On Thursday I went to the “spotlight on the unlikely career of Mark Schultz,” which was as informative as it was enlightening. He offered us basically a narrated slideshow biography full of everything that’s been a major influence on his life and art. Unfortunately his sense of timing wasn’t as sublime as his imagery; he ran out of minutes before he ran out of slides, but it was still fascinating. Regarding his seminal XENOZOIC TALES, he’s working on a new illustrated prose version. This will serve as both an introduction to new fans as well as an overview for long-timers. He then plans/hopes to do a final book that wraps up all the storylines and pieces from the series.
When asked about a XT live-action film, he said he would do one under only two circumstances: either a producer has to throw enough money at him so that he could continue to make graphic novels as long as he needs, or someone who has a brilliant idea and really “gets” it and will do it right (not just converting the comics to the screen, which he says never works with two different mediums). [see Sin City for an example of when it DOES work – craig]
Also stopped by tables of inking/art legend Steve Leialoha, BOILERPLATE and FRANK READ creators Paul Guinan and Anina Bennett, storyteller supreme Terry Dodson and his invaluable inking wife Rachel, and my pal, comedic genius John Lustig of LAST KISS and the Egmont Disney comics.
One day began quite interestingly—I was ready to walk the usual nine blocks to the convention center when I noticed several folks boarding the free shuttle. In the interest of saving time vs. getting exercise, I boarded and took the first seat, which happened to be next to ASTRO CITY storyteller/Bronze-Age great Brent Anderson! He told me he’s working with DC’s Dan Didio on a PHANTOM STRANGER book that ties in with the “New 52.” He’s signed on for the first six issues at least (along with inker supreme Scott Hanna) and the story sounds quite interesting. Readers will get both a “cosmic” and “personal” version of the character, unlike what’s come before.
When you see his art, see if you can guess what icon of illustrated heroic fiction he used as inspiration for the Phantom Stranger’s face! (I’m not allowed to say, but if you figure it out he’ll let you know if it’s right.)
Other good panels so far:
1) The salute to Lou Schmier, one of the founders of Filmation (makers of such fondly-remembered Saturday-morning faire as He-Man, Isis, Shazam!, Ghostbusters, Jason of Star Command, Fat Albert and countless others). Filmation was the first US animation company to use black characters (male and female) and have a lead Native American character in any animated series. Lou won a well-deserved Inkpot award during the panel.
2) An informative tribute to Bill Finger, co-creator of Batman, by Marc Tyler Nobleman. Marc’s new biography, BILL THE BOY WONDER, five years in the making, just went on sale. (He even tracked down Bill’s unknown granddaughter and last remaining heir, and helped her get the royalties she deserved.) Full of never-before-seen photos, documents and anecdotes and information, it’s a must-have for any Batman fan or comics historian.
3) Another Bill, animator extraordinaire Bill Plympton, gave us an hour of his time devoted to “Making cartoons that sell without selling out”, which also coincides with the title of his recently-released book. In addition to promoting the positives of independent animation, he talked about his current projects: restoring a nearly-lost print of gorgeous Windsor McKay animation; a feature film; and a proposed TV series about a female whale that leaves the sea to pursue a modelling career! (He showed us an 8-minute episode, and it’s every bit as absurdly amusing as you’d expect.) He told an astonishing anecdote about Disney; remind me to tell you all what it was when I get back!
4) My favorite of the day, an amazing instructional on character/creature design for film by the amazing Neville Page. Those not in the business (or who don’t stay for all the credits) may not know the name, but you know his characters from SUPER 8, CLOVERFIELD, GREEN LANTERN, TRON, PROMETHEUS and a tiny film called AVATAR. Neville offered a plethora of amazing slides showing his equally amazing creative process, and offered tips and techniques for effective character design that I can’t wait to try.
5) “The Artist’s Way”–a “shop talk” chat with five very special guest artists: Gary Gianni, Joe Jusko, Mark Schultz, Jim Silke and Tom Yeates. More details later (hey, I gotta save a few things to tease for upcoming blogs!), but the big news is that all of them were presented with Inkpot Awards during the panel (except for Schultz, who had won previously). The awards were presented and panel moderated by Gary Sassaman.
Topping off the evening was dinner with Sam “Stormcrow” Hayes, writer of Tokyopop’s AFTERWORLD graphic novel sensation, screenwriter and script doctor. Sam is pursuing publishers to present the next two chapters of the story, or better yet, one giant volume with all three parts.
There’s more of course, but it’s beyond late; since I nearly fell asleep in a few panels, I need to visit Sleepyland right now. Good night and I’ll try to have more this weekend!