Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Report from Comic Con: Day Three

With my shiny new sunburn on the side of my neck (why the side? why?) I elected not to wake up at the crack of dawn to wait in line all day in hopes of seeing sneak peeks at Iron Man 3 or Family Guy.  Instead, today was my day to throw myself into smaller panels (some of which still had over a thousand people in them, but whatever, it's Comic Con, crowds are a given).

It all began with an Urban Fantasy panel, which was interesting, but turned out to be pretty much a "this is what my book/series is about" chorus rather than any in depth discussion of the genre or where it is heading.  Then I hung out for a preview of the tiny little indie movie Save the Date... which looks sort of Woodie-Allen-esque but the Woodie Allen of thirty years ago.  It was interesting to hear about the distribution of the film in particular because it will be available from IFC video-on-demand before it releases in theatres.  I know, right?  Curious.

Then it was time for the stuff I'd been giddy all day for.  Three Panels.   Three Amazing Talents.  (One ring to rule them all, one ring to... oh wait, no, that was going on in Hall H at the same time and I hadn't camped out so there was no way I was getting in to see it.)  No, my BIG THREE OF DAY THREE were Bryan Fuller (Pushing Daisies!!!), Orson Scott Card (Ender's Game!!!) and William Shatner (Khaaaaaaan!!!).  

It started with Bryan Fuller, talking about his two new reboots - a reworked darker, dramatic Munsters (which looks kinda AMAZING, y'all - Eddie Izzard as Grandpa? Dude.) called Mockingbird Lane (which is just a pilot now, but I seriously hope they make it to the series stage) and a new TV series prequel to Red Dragon called Hannibal - starting when no one knew that Hannibal the Cannibal was a serial killer.  (No clips of that one, but with Bryan Fuller's dark sense of humor, I'm psyched to see where it goes.  And I now have a shiny new "Eat the Rude" T-shirt that cracks me up.)  One audience member did ask how poor Mr. Fuller stays optimistic (he was a seriously chipper guy) considering how many of his shows get killed off (har) mid-season (Pushing Daisies, Wonderfalls, Dead Like Me) when he plans them out for years (he mentioned having plans for the first seven seasons of Hannibal).  He said he'll always find ways work the ideas he loves into the next show and joked about not seeing death as a final thing (his "bag of trick"). 

Then it was off to the Wrinkle In Time panel, which a host of AMAZING speculative and sci-fi authors including the incomparable Orson Scott Card and David Brin - the two of whom GOT INTO IT.  It was kinda awesome watching them grow testier and testier as they verbally bitch-slapped each other as the panel went on.  It started out civil.  When talking about speculative fiction and predicting the future it became quickly evident that Orson Scott Card was on the "human nature doesn't change" side of the spectrum while Brin was on the "we're entering an age of enlightenment" side.  Card cited the Arab Spring (in what I felt were somewhat oversimplified terms) and referring to it as an unpredictable event followed by the very predictable patterns of human nature.  Brin countered by calling that cynicism and holding up the Turkish revolution for comparison (which, having recently visited Egypt & Turkey, I would like to state is so far from being comparable as to be laughable).  Card replied (correctly, I would say) that there was no comparison between the two and to claim there was only revealed ignorance of the situation... and then things really got going.  It was Brin citing racial and sexual equality as the great advancements of our age (which aren't new concepts to humanity, just recent in our cultural corner of it) while Card was talking about the fascination of watching Empires fall (though it is probably less fun to be watching from the inside as they outlive their grandeur).  The moderator intervened at one point... and then, after some questions from the audience, one guy got up to the mic and said he'd missed the beginning so he was sorry if this had already been discussed, but did the authors think we were entering a dark age or an enlightenment?  The reaction from the room was priceless.  Deborah Harkness answered it best, I think.  Even the Dark Ages weren't the Dark Ages.  "Be careful of big, baggy historical epoch markers."

There were other moments I loved, beyond the Card/Brin throwdown.  (Team OSC!)  When asked to predict the future (as an author of speculative fiction) Peter Hamilton said, "Sci-fi isn't a template. I'm setting out ideas."  It's up to the reader to be inspired to make them come true.

Earlier Brin also referenced an LA Times article about the rising popularity of TV over movies and how the TV writers were treated like rockstars at Comic Con because the fans recognized where the ideas were coming from.  Which was something I noticed also - the TV shows were the ones people were most excited about, I think in part because they weren't all reboots and sequels as most of the movies coming out these days seem to be.  And in part because watching a TV show becomes a longer term relationship and you already know you love it, you're looking forward to the next installment of awesomeness rather than wondering whether you will like the unknown quantity of the movie that isn't coming out until next year or the year after.  It was interesting to see.  But the idea kind of got eclipsed by the OSC/Brin ruckus. 

After that I rushed over to try to get into the Shatner panel.  I didn't think I had a prayer, but luck was with me and I made it in.  William Shatner, cult favorite director/producer Roger Corman, moderated by Kevin Smith.  It was casual and conversational and deeply awesome listening to these industry greats talking about their beginnings as they discussed their new films - for Shatner a documentary called Get a Life about Star Trek fans and what he learned when he set out to study them and for Corman a 3D campy fabulous pic entitled The Attack of the 50 Foot Cheerleader.  And, as I'm sure happens every time he speaks, a fan asked Mr. Shatner to shout "Khan!" and this time he suggested we all do it instead.  So, en masse, the entire audience bellowed, "Khaaaaaaan!"  And it was just as badass as you might imagine. 

Then I dropped in on a panel on World Building in Graphic Novels which was seriously fascinating.  World building for artists is something so different than it is for those of us who spin worlds out of words.  They would research architecture and make models - either by hand or with 3D computer mapping.  They talked about visual vs. dialogue exposition and hearsay vs. fact as the world is revealed to the reader.  Then they talked a bit about the struggle for continuity when you've grown as an artist and want to make them better but are inhibited by what you made them in the first book of the series.  It was so interesting to me to see artists who attack their stories so differently than I do, but who are still related to novelists in that we are all in the same storytelling family.  Loved it.

Next up was the Harper Voyager and Harper Teen sneak peeks (where I scored an advanced copy of Jocelyn Drake's Angel's Ink - about a tattoo artists who can imbue his tattoos with magical powers, how cool is that?).  And then finally it was time for the Comic Con Masquerade - which was campy and ridiculous and, yeah, kinda awesome.  You get a feel for the tone of the evening when the audience is allowed to announce the numbers of the contestants and they bellow en masse "One, ah ah ah" like the Count.  Yeah, baby, we know our Sesame Street.  And it just goes downhill (or up, depending on your perspective) from there.  With dancing and goodies in the Sails Pavillion, it's Comic Con's wild rumpus until the small hours.  And it isn't quite over yet...


Kali Robaina said...

I've been jealous from the beginning...but OSC?! OMG. I'm literally turning green.(Ignore the kid with a green marker poking me and giggling.)

Vivi Andrews said...

Did I mention that the Ender's Game movie is finally in post production? And Harrison Ford was in it?