And just like that, it was Sunday, the final day of the con.
I suspect I wasn’t the only one there, who, by the end, almost felt as if they were going through the motions, that feeling of Con fatigue in full effect. My feet hurt, the spectrum of colors blur, comic companies meld, and the idea of sitting down at panels regain its appeal.
Even the atmosphere felt a tad muted, the costumes a bit less ubiquitous and clever, but the throng of fans still thundered along the show floor, squeezing through doors and escalators to get to panels on time or to see their favorite comic book artist.
This afternoon, I spent more time at comic book panels, seeing just one celebrity to finish off the Con.
The first may have been my favorite of the con, entitled “Pitching Creator Owned Comics” or something like that, featuring three comic book writers who struggled to make it in the industry but are now seeing the fruits of their labor. Cullen Bunn, author of THE SIXTH GUN, THE DAMNED, HELHEIM and now the writer of Marvel books joined Charles Soule (27, SWAMP THING) and Jim Zub (SKULLKICKERS) in a lively discussion about their careers, hard work, perseverance and what it takes to pitch comics, and really lead a successful life.
You could substitute comics for almost anything, and their words would still hold merit, from films, books, TV, job interviews, everything. A lot of the things the trio talked about wasn’t groundbreaking (the second book is just as important as your first, you gotta love it, get an agent, etc.), but it never hurts to hear it, and see examples of people living their dreams after decades of working toward it.
All of them are full-time writers in the business, which is extremely tough, even for the established, and many just recently became full-time after years of writing. They harped on professionalism (many think the comics industry is laid back and sloppy; not entirely), that you need to have the habits of a professional writer long before you get hired to be one, harped on the ability to self publish and how short your pitch should actually be. They’re obvious things, but harsh truths for aspiring writers, who may be struggling merely because they don’t want it enough [it spoke to me, certainly].
The next panel was from Image Comics, focusing on the worlds created within some of their books. I was under the misguided impression that the panel would delve into how these writers and artists created or came up with their visions, their worlds, because of how free and wonderful the comic medium is. Instead, it basically turned into an advertisement for the science fiction books at Image. I’m not entirely sure why Image thinks they need to promote SAGA more (Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples awesome book), but it’s worth as big an audience as it can get, I suppose. Other books spotlighted were Greg Rucka and Michael Lark’s LAZARUS, Joe Harris’ GREAT PACIFIC (based on the garbage island), Duffy Boudreau’s BLACKACRE, Kurtis Wiebe and Riley Rossmo’s DEBRIS (I went with a couple friends who adore their work), Brandon Graham’s PROPHET and Richard Starkings’ ELEPHANTMEN.
It was funny how similar a lot of these worlds were, and how popular the “dystopian” future is, not just in movies and TV but in comics too. Rucka and Lark are a fantastic comic team (GOTHAM CENTRAL baby), but really the only “world” and premise that really drew me was GREAT PACIFIC and PROPHET, the latter of which was mostly because of Graham’s potty mouth and quirky sense of humor. But once the books were introduced, the panel members started addressing their approaches.
Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (Staples was the one in attendance) fly by the seat of their pants, not researching anything, just creating, following the characters and letting that dictate what happens. That kind of spontaneity probably doesn’t work for everybody, but it really works for SAGA’s trippy fantasy/sci-fi universe. Others, like Joe Harris, research extensively to educate their world. Of course, Harris’ book is based on a real thing.
Afterwards, I sat on Marvel’s panel, which was hogwash. I liked all the creators present, from Matt Fraction to Mark Waid, but nothing was announced, everything was just teased and advertised, with promises of “greatness” ahead, for the umpteen events going on. Each writer merely talked about what was coming up next in the book, all of which could be found in solicitations that are published 3 months in advance of an issue’s release. They’re funny and intelligent people, but teasing frost giants in an upcoming Hulk story line just doesn’t do it for me as much as it used to.
Unsurprisingly, in the months ahead, Marvel is focusing on Nova (there’s a new one), Thanos (THANOS UPRISING is a new forthcoming miniseries) and Guardians of the Galaxy (duh), in preparation for the movie. They also have the Age of Ultron, a 10 issue “event” from Brian Michael Bendis and Bryan Hitch (and Brandon Peterson and Carlos Pacheco) forthcoming, where Ultron has SUCCEEDED in taking over the world. I like the premise, especially since it IS in continuity, but I’m so far out of the loop at Marvel that I can’t care TOO much.
On my way to the main hall, I caught the end of Dirk Benedict’s panel, another local guy who went to Whitman College. I can’t say I watched A-TEAM or the original BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, but I will say this: Dirk Benedict is a wacky dude.
The Emerald City Comicon likely saved the best or most popular guest for last, ending the Con with a bang, a panel with the man who has gotten bald headed man laid for decades, Sir Patrick Stewart.
The hall was packed, with hundreds of people in the back standing to see their favorite captain of the USS Enterprise. As commented on by the moderator, Stewart looks much the same as he did 25 years ago, which is stunning. If anything, he’s just growing more into Jean-Luc Picard and/or Charles Xavier.
From the sound of it, Stewart recounted oft told stories about how he was cast and why he signed the contract (his friends told him it would fail so he didn’t think the burdensome 6 season commitment would come into play), how he was miscast in DUNE and wore a hair piece during his audition for Picard on TNG. The telling of which was wonderful, and clearly, Stewart’s a lot funnier than you’d ever have expected such a serious, respectful Shakespearean actor to be. It’s clear that he likes playing with his persona, and even mentions that he’s been trying to explore comedy, having gone to Second City, and with roles on FAMILY GUY and AMERICAN DAD. The light bulb in my head went off, reveling in the idea of a sitcom with Stewart, Adam West, Burt Ward and William Shatner that would blew up the internet and probably be really bad in hindsight.
He reiterated how hard the transition from Shakespeare to Hollywood was, and announced that he’d be in an upcoming adaptation of NO MAN’S LAND and WAITING FOR GODOT with Sir Ian McKellan, with two other fantastic American actors yet to be announced, on Broadway. He, of course, will also be working with Ian in the upcoming X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST, which starts filming in six short weeks. He had always wondered if they would want him for another movie, and was doubtful when McAvoy replaced him, but couldn’t be happier at returning to the franchise.
He was perhaps the most cautious of any of the celebrities I saw, and less concerned with placating fans. He refused to say “Make it So,” a line that he has barely uttered since the show, to fans bitter disappointment, and didn’t offer any impressions of his cast (because we all know he’s oft imitated himself).
After Stewart saluted the crowd, Emerald City Comicon was over, just like that (but the traffic lived on for a few hours) and the hordes of nerds shuffled out, far more polite and cautious than any audience exiting a concert, bar or sports venue. Until next year, Seattle.
If you missed the con, or want to watch some of these panels I’ve described yourself, be sure to check out FlipOn.TV, where you can watch the ECCC in its entirety from the comfort of your couch.