Other Nexus Graphica Columns
For more information, you can try the following:
Peter Panzerfaust's very own Facebook page
Take What You Can Carry
Impaler General's blog (source of WonderCon volleyball/cosplay pic)
Comics Beat on WonderCon's locale issues
Tale of Sand
Free "Danger Boy" on Kindle
Free "Danger Boy" on otherwise
Recent Books of Interest
GONZO: A Graphic Biography of Hunter S. Thompson by Will Bingley (words) and Anthony Hope-Smith (art) (Abrams)
Originally appearing in England a couple years back, this doubtlessly overdue graphic bio of
the good Doctor himself, Raoul Duke, a.k.a. Hunter S. Thompson, finally makes its way to
these shores. In true "doc" format, Bingley takes snippets of Thompson's own words -- from
copious published works -- to create a mostly linear narrative of Thompson's life, starting
at the seeming birth of his political consciousness (with the all-too-coincidental
assassination of JFK), then backtracking to his "rebellious childhood," as the phrase would
have it, all the way through the early staff reporter stints, the advocacy journalism, and
the breakthrough tale of his trip to Las Vegas with his "Samoan lawyer" -- where he
famously saw that high water mark of the 60s break and recede in the distance behind him,
on the road to Mojave. Hope-Smith's B&W artwork is "clear and clean," as Thompson himself
might say, and the book serves as a great compendium/addenda for fans of HST's work. Despite
using cuttings from Thompson to construct a narrative, the book doesn't quite convey the
power of his writing, at its apocalyptic, psychedelic best. In other words, if you've never
read any HST before, you might go through the book still wondering why he became so famous
for his work. But the book might serve as a good "gateway drug" to get you to read more. A
metaphor that I'm sure that late, great Mr. Thompson would heartily approve of, unless he
was otherwise engaged shooting off firearms.
Peter Panzerfaust #'s 1 & 2 by Kurtis J. Wiebe (words) and Tyler Jenkins (art) (Image)
This series is getting a lot of buzz, with the well-executed idea of setting the tale of Peter
Pan (here a mysterious American youth) and the Lost Boys in World War II. Specifically, in
Calais (to start), and they're fighting Nazis. What could be bad about a set-up like this? Well,
so far nothing, though two issues in, I'm still waiting for the series to -- yes, "Peter Pan"
pun coming -- "take off." In other words, we've fought our way through the town, and down to
the docks, but the planned epic hasn't quite got out of the starting blocks yet. I trust our
mermaid/pirate/fairy analogues are coming (indeed, the end of #2 seems to hint at more
mysterious turns), and while a more youthful version of Inglourious Basterds is cool, an
increasingly "Pan-specific" recasting of the J.M. Barrie tale will be... cooler still.
Take What You Can Carry by Kevin C. Pyle (Henry Holt)
The dialogue is spare, and the lines simply drawn and generally evocative in Pyle's story
linking two initially separate stories of the World War II-era relocation of Japanese-Americans
into camps, and 70s-set "juvenile delinquent" hellraising. At first it's not clear how the
tales will intersect, then suddenly it is. And while at first that intersection doesn't seem
entirely surprising, a small quiet epiphany at the end -- about bending the rules, and
most of all, a kind of forgiveness -- makes the spare story pay off. I am probably being
deliberately vague, but Pyle's story is a quiet one, so encountering it quietly -- which
is to say, without much expectation -- is the best way to go. Though rest assured, even
the title pays off.
Live from Downtown Disney: WonderCon 2012
Well, my car's been hit and my column is late: It happened last week, when, in theory, the
column wasn't late (yet). I was on my way to Youngest Son's little league game, when a
motorcyclist ran through a red light, and plowed into the rear passenger side of my car.
Copyright © 2012 Mark London Williams
Of course, any accident you can walk away from (and laugh and/or write about later) is
a "good" one, in the relative accident sense, but I've been rear-ended and knocked about at
red lights far too often in the past decade.
Is there something in the air? Some message I'm not getting about staying in L.A.?
A couple weeks before my car met its possible demise (I could -- sans a rear bumper,
functioning trunk, turn signal, or straight frame -- still drive it back to my driveway,
though I suspect the cost of repair will exceed the stalwart sedan's resale value, ergo
it may be totaled), I had taken it -- wheezing fan belt and all -- along with Eldest Son
and one of his close friends, to WonderCon, down the road in Anaheim.
WonderCon is -- for you cognoscenti (there's an almost inevitable pun there, but never
mind) -- the smaller, Northern California edition of "ComicCon," as it has been owned
and operated by the San Diego bunch for awhile now. Except that this year the Con wasn't
going to be -- or couldn't be -- held in its traditional Moscone Center setting, in San
Francisco, and so decided to test the waters south, and try out the Anaheim Convention Center for 2012.
Being that close, I decided to go to my first WonderCon in several years, and while traffic
in downtown Anaheim can get nightmarish (the convention center is right across the street
from Disneyland, and what is now called "Downtown Disney"), overall, the event definitely
felt more "contained," or at least more easily "knowable" than the infinite
sprawl/horizon of San Diego's mega-gathering.
It felt -- as the fellow who slid my badges to me over the counter, when I checked
in -- like ComicCon itself did. About twenty years ago.
For those of you looking for reports on the Prometheus trailer or anything like that, this
column isn't the place to find them -- I figured why stand around waiting to see something
that's going to be online a few minutes later? (Well, sure, there are the panels, but I
guess -- working as a Hollywood press guy -- there's a little "busman's holiday" aspect to
hearing summer tentpole movies pitched to me when I'm away for the weekend ostensibly
doing "something else...")
I started by wandering the dealer's room, which -- unlike San Diego -- was bereft of
videogame companies, TV networks, etc. -- and reminded me, yes, of dealers' rooms of
yore. Which is to say, there were a lot of tables of people selling comics, gear,
costumes, action figures, memorabilia, etc.
One dealer pal of mine (note: I realize this can be a loaded phrase in different contexts)
mentioned he was having a very rough show, spondulicks-wise, compared to how he usually
did at WonderCon's traditional/former home in SF.
He was also the first to tell me that the idea that W. Con had to decamp because the Moscone
Center was undergoing renovations (which it actually is) is, in his estimation, malarkey. Or
at least something of a cover for the real story, which was that the NorCal version of the
con didn't pull in enough out-of-town visitors, hotel-booking wise, to be given "priority"
when reserving the center.
Thus the Anaheim experiment, yet that hall remains unavailable to WonderCon, in the same
general spring slot, for the next couple years. So next year's whereabouts are still
unknown (as, metaphysically, they might be for many of us). Since my dealer's room talk,
this off-the-record chatter has gone on the record somewhere, since similar musings and
revelations can easily be found online. For example, the Comics Beat website reports
that "where the 2013 edition of WonderCon will take place is still a 'complete question
mark' according to CCI's David Glanzer. San Francisco's Moscone Center cannot give them
dates, and although the intention is to return to Northern California, obviously the show needs a home."
Well, obviously. And while being close to L.A. has its advantages, so does Northern
California (Go Giants!), so we'll see how this all shakes out.
One interesting aspect was that WonderCon wasn't, by itself, big enough to fill the Anaheim
convention center, and there were both cheerleading and women's volleyball
conventions/tournaments happening concurrently.
At first, you couldn't tell whether a number of lissome teen women had shown up at WonderCon for
some kind of cosplay -- was there a current anime show featuring the athletic togs and
short-shorts of volleyball? -- but eventually, by the bemused looks of the volleyballing
families, and the posed digital snapshots with the nearest Darth Vader or Chewbacca -- you
realized that you were seeing a genuine American nexus happening: jocks and geeks, in
parallel. But there was overlap, too: I saw one volleyballer drag her father to the ticket
window to get a day pass to WonderCon on its final Sunday (which wouldn't be even remotely
possible in San Diego, of course). It was the single most hopeful tableau of the weekend.
Otherwise, I got waitlisted for a "speed dating" event matching potential writers (like me)
to potential artists (like any of you who draw). There were far more scribes signed up than
artistes, so take it as a cautionary tale, anyone thinking they'll "just turn that script
into a graphic novel" and parlay it into a first-look studio deal from there.
But then, hell -- these are fluid times with, at best, unclear futures ahead. So why not?
I saw G4tv's Chris Gore present some new animation of his -- which actually meant rendered
trailers of potentially interesting stuff he's searching out production money and distribution
for. I saw novelist Tim Powers on a mini-panel, opining on "hidden L.A." -- or at least, how
is it that L.A. manages to fit so many noir/darkly fantastic niches in the id of storytellers
and audiences? I saw a lively panel on writing animation for TV, and I saw a panel by
intriguing Archaia press, currently basking in its five Eisner nominations for the graphic
novel version of the lost Jim Henson screenplay Tale of Sand.
I roamed Artists' Alley, and wandered by the autograph booths. I walked at least two
neighborhoods away to eat -- since the cosplayers of all stripes were ganging up at the
convention center proper, and prices around Disneyland aren't precisely on the "low end."
But it was fun, and perhaps most sweetly, Eldest Son, who'd borrowed some money to buy a
few things, used those dollars to actually buy me a Batman action figure. This was the Native
American Batman, "Man-of-Bats," who -- as near as I can tell -- remains both woefully
stereotyped and underutilized.
But Eldest knew my affinity for things Native American, and it was quite unexpected. The
action figure now hangs -- still in its packaging -- on my wall. Awaiting, perhaps, the
locale of the next WonderCon. But if he knows, he isn't saying. And so far, neither is anyone else.
Mark London Williams wrote the Danger Boy time travel series,
and is mulling turning the story-within-a-story, the monster-themed "Barnstormers," into its own comic.
Info on what he, or the books, are up to can be found at marklondonwilliams.com.
He's thinking of traveling back in time to when he was
employed and to see if it's possible to restructure a recent moment so the motorcycle doesn't hit him.
Meanwhile, did we mention Danger Boy #1, "Ancient Fire," is back out on eBook, and is
currently free at Amazon and Smashwords?
Meanwhile, he gets Twittery @mlondonwmz.