Other Nexus Graphica Columns
For more information, you can try the following:
Cinematical's "Remote" Con coverage
MMOSite's Comic Con coverage
James Owen on Comic-Con, and other considerations
My friend JoAnn's Comic-Con recounting, from whence a couple of these pictures come
The Walking Dead
The Watchmen Dog Comic
Recent Books of Interest
Walking Dead #74 & 75 by Robert Kirkman (writer) and Charlie Adlard (art) (Image)
I am now close enough to finishing a viable first draft of my own zombie-ish novel that -- after
a long blackout -- I can encounter other "Z"-themed stories without being (too) afraid of
unintended influences (well, look, the whole genre, in modern form, starts with Romero,
obviously, and we all branch out from there). So clearly, after my long blackout (I've
been working on my own tome, on and offly, for over a year), I'm jumping in to mid/late WD
continuity. But it's good stuff (that Eisner win at the most recent Con wasn't
misplaced!) -- and I wasn't too lost (got my bearings about most of the "givens" early
enough to enjoy the story) and, as with most "genre critter" stories, it isn't so much
about the critters (in the case of zombies, it's hard to write from their POV of course,
though, per Chris Roberson's I Zombie, some are trying) but about the all-too-human
falling apart and trying to cope. Like what humans are doing, rather imperfectly, right
this very minute. Imagine what it's gonna be like when the Zombie Apocalypse does
come! (On which note -- the Walking Dead's version is coming, of course, to an
AMC-fed TV screen near you, this fall!)
Troy Duffy's Boondock Saints, #1 & 2 by Troy Duffy and J.B. Love (writers) and Guus Floor (artist) (12-Gauge Comics)
A Comic-Con pick up, mainly because I heard the words "Hey, Mark!," and turned
around to see a friend of mine from one of the in-studio writing seminars I
teach -- and he's writing the Boondock Saints adaptation, along with director Troy
Duffy, for 12-Gauge! So that's the disclosure -- how's the comic? Pretty good, if you
already know the Saints films. The mixture of humor and assassination came to the
fore in the 90s, of course, under the auspices of filmmakers like Tarantino (that
murder has become routinely "funny" is one of the interesting commentaries on our
times). And Boondock does the mix pretty well, with some outlandish characters and
some accessible moral outrage to get you on the side of the assassins. If you know
the films, the comics function as a kind of "DVD extra," giving you more background
on the characters and subplots (such as the arc involving Billy Connolly's
character). This should hold you until you find out whether Willem Dafoe is really
coming back in Boondock Saints 3...
The Watchmen Dog Comic
So here's this viral online comic I hear about from teen son, who found the link on
Reddit (you get the link in the links section, over there), and it's a kind of brilliant
riff/addendum on Watchmen mythology. Or more specifically, it gives us some background on
one of the ethical "sore points" of that masterwork -- Rorschach's slaughtering of the
dogs in the backyard of the killer's house. Were the dogs innocent, or deserving of
their fate? Here, "thetruestofmikes," as the online poster (and presumed creator) is
known, gives us an answer. Which serves, in turn, to make Watchmen -- and Rorschach,
ever more disturbing. I want to compare this to John Coltrane redefining My Favorite
Things when he recorded yet, though that was a de -- and re -- construction, whereas
Watchmen was deconstructing itself -- and comics narrative -- as it went along. This,
however, adds to that narrative, and is more than worth the clicked link, when you have a moment.
The Annual Comic-Con Column
So it's time to write again of Comic Con, and my double-foray (which sounds kinky
though was, alas, anything but) into Con territories this year...
Copyright © 2010 Mark London Williams
I've been going to the Con for twenty years now -- and covering them regularly here
for, gosh -- has it been three, already?
And this year -- I went twice, first for preview night (having lost a bet with my
agent about getting a book finished, I bought her drinks), and then back
for the weekend, with son and friend in tow
It strikes me that much of what the
Con has become is summed up here in this quote from Peter Hall (not the British
director, one assumes!), writing for Cinematical: "I didn't even go to Comic-Con,
so I can only imagine the flood of information coming out of it is even more
intense in person. But even from afar, the tidal wave of new content was
overwhelming. It got to the point where I decided I was going to give the con a
few days rest after it ended and then attempt to make sense of everything that came out of it."
To be sure, Hall does a commendable job of wrapping up the key
comics/genre-related film and TV announcements coming out of the Con (in fact,
you can find a link in our links section), but the points embedded in his lead
are critical: You don't even have to be there anymore to "experience" the media
launchi-ness of the Con, and even if you're not there it's still overwhelming...
Ron Fair, covering the Con for MMOSite, has this to say: "Hooray! We found the
comics this year at Comic-Con! It was a tough undertaking and a valiant effort,
and I wish to thank everybody who took part in finding the comics in
Comic-Con. We couldn't have done it without your hard work and dedication."
He then continues: "That, of course, is a joke. Comic-Con 2010 has passed and
once again it has set records and shattered expectations. Ever since 1988, each
Comic-Con has been the biggest Comic-Con, and this year was no different. Over
140,000 people crammed themselves into the San Diego Convention Center for
promises of hot new video games, TV news, movie screenings and previews, anime,
collectable, and comic book nuggets of joy, and nobody was disappointed."
Fair also does a perfectly serviceable overview (also linked), but I find his lead
fascinating for different reasons -- including the western assumption that "biggest"
is always "best." (He doesn't say that, but it's inferred). He refers to the
late 80s -- right before I started to come on a regular basis -- as the point
where each Con grew bigger -- was 1987 smaller than 1986, then?
Nonetheless, I'm not sure that growth for the sake of growth is always such a
good thing -- it's the way cancer cells operate, but as an economic theory it
tends to devour planets. Ours, at the moment.
Though that's another column.
Will there ever be a thing as too much Con? That's a very real question on the
minds of Con organizers, as San Diego's contract is about to run out, and there's
some question whether this Super Bowl of Pop Culture will stay there, in its
currently maxed-out convention center, or whether it will
be lured away by Anaheim, L.A. or even Las Vegas.
I'm betting San Diego will keep it -- given how much revenue it brings to town,
and what even nearby Motel 6's get away with charging during convention time; in
a downward-ratcheting economy, what town could afford to give it up?
Which brings up the question of why Comic-Con -- which of course, isn't really
just about "comics" anymore -- is so astonishingly popular; people want to buy
scalped badges, and there's a frenzy of planning and marketing around the event.
The alternate realities on display at the Con, and available to participate in (or
immerse yourself in) would seem to hold more and more attraction as the overall
"consensus reality" keeps falling apart; maybe the Con represents a kind of sanctuary
of the imagination, a somewhat safer, or more easy version of Mardi Gras.
In both places people dress up in costumes, but at Con, the costumes already have
a thumbnail history you can attach yourself to, like the lovely young lady riding
the trolley to the convention center, dressed as DC's Zatanna, suddenly considering
that in her fishnet stockings, she was out of context on the train, and so demurely
took off her jacket to cover her legs -- until we arrived and she could fully
(safely?) reveal her inner-Zatanna self.
Having never gone the "cos-play" route myself -- except perhaps when Halloween or Purim
roll around -- I wondered what the experience of attending the whole Con that way
might be. While wondering, I happen to pass by a mom taking her little girl up the
escalator, with said girl dressed as "Alice" from "In Wonderland" fame (in what has
become the traditional, pre-Tim Burton Disney blue-and-white get up). The little
girl and her mom then came across a "grown up" Alice, similarly attired, and the
young was thrilled: Here was a "real" Alice!
"Real" Alice then stopped and chatted with her younger counterpart, asking her how
her Con had been going, etc., and you can imagine the wee one was thrilled.
So there's one bonus -- in a world increasingly devoid of heroes, it's still
possible to meet one in the flesh!
That gave me a smile -- an entirely different kind than Zatanna's fishnetted legs,
though both, one supposes, exist on the same scale of Comic Con's attractions.
Meanwhile, I mostly stayed away from Hall H, where the big Hollywood previews were
happening. With my son and his friend, I did, however, catch a late night reprise
screening of the direct-to-animation Batman: Under the Red Hood, which I can recommend
as suitably dark and surprising, in its additional spin on the death of Jason Todd,
aka "Robin" #2, and it sets up some interesting possibilities for further animated
adventures of the moody Bat.
I also caught up with various old pals, like James Owen, of Starchild comic fame,
holding forth in a booth of his that also dealt in t-shirts and signed items from
his Imaginarium Geographica books.
It was the latter that found him on a YA panel on Sunday (which is dedicated more
specifically to kids' programming), which was the last thing I attended before
reconnecting with son and heading up the road to L.A.
This column isn't about prose books, per se (even if the rest of this site is), but
it was a lively panel -- authors like Neal Shusterman, D.J. MacHale, Kathy "Bones"
Reich (doing a YA-spinoff of that franchise), and others, moderated by Cindy Pon,
talking about what makes writing for young readers different, especially writing "genre" for them.
There was no one specific answer, but themes that emerged included the joys and
challenges of writing for a readership that wants to have their imaginations fired,
yet also wants a story that, if not getting right to the point, at least knows where it's going.
That doesn't always mean neat resolution, but the journey has to make its own kind of
sense, which is another way of summing up the Comic-Con phenom: When finding yourself
in a world where scarcely anything makes "sense" at all, why the hell wouldn't you
want to dress up in costume for a few days and assume some exceptional powers?
A hero manque, after all, is better than never having tried being a hero at all, yes?
See you for at least one more year... in San Diego.
Mark London Williams wrote the Danger Boy time travel series,
and though his current YA manuscript isn't finished as of this column, it really needs to be by the next one.
Or, absolutely, the one after that. He gets Twittery @mlondonwmz