Well. The Monday after Comic-Con always feels like it should be a Saturday. And my legs always feel like noodles. It’s like a month’s worth of walking crammed into four intense days.
Worth the fatigue, though absolutely.
As always, it’ll take me the better part of a week to sift through my notes and photos. I’m working on panel recaps, but my scrawled notes take a while to decipher. Sheesh, do I loathe writing things by hand. I thought about bringing my laptop this year but my shoulder bag already weighed a thousand pounds even before I started adding books and swag to it.
(I know, it’s unfathomable that a gadget-geek like me doesn’t have an iPad yet. What can I say? All my money’s in children.)
ANYHOO. I’m pretty sure it’s against Comic-Con Recap Law to start a post with this many words AND NO PICTURES. I’m a rebel like that.
But now, after this long drumroll, I notice that Huck’s naptime is nearing the wake-up point, so guess what? Out of time, no more words, just pictures. I’m a rebel even against MY OWN PLANS, I guess.
Friday, July 22nd. Scott was still chugging toward his deadline and I spent the morning with the kids. I think it was close to 2pm when we headed downtown and found decent parking on 8th Avenue, several blocks from the convention center.
The street crowds were considerably thicker that day.
(Actually, in this pic it doesn’t look so bad. Don’t be fooled by that open space in the foreground. That’s where the cars would have been, if anyone were foolhardy enough to drive that close to the convention center. OH WAIT THAT RIGHT, Scott had to do it about five times.)
I didn’t take many pictures on Friday. This must be because I was with Scott, and therefore too busy talking to point and shoot. And really, Friday was more of a meetings-and-meals day than a seeing-the-sights day.
Of course, you can’t help seeing some sights. That guy’s big human head on a little Grinch body really wigs me out.
On Friday afternoon I went to the Comics in the Library panel, about which (I keep saying) MORE LATER. Then the evening was dinner with friends, drinks with friends, a party with friends. And home to bed, exhausted. Saturday morning had been supposed to be an early one, but…it wasn’t.
Saturday, July 23rd. A big day for Rose and Beanie: THEIR FIRST TRIP TO COMIC-CON.
They each had a wish list. Beanie wanted to see as much Pokemon stuff as possible, and Rose was hoping to get her precious copy of Smile signed by Raina Telgemeier.
Speaking of check…check out that big ole Eisner Award, which Raina received for Best Teen Publication the night before!
(You all know Smile, right? Such a great book. Rose rereads it every six weeks at a minimum—after each orthodontist appointment. “It’s what gets me through,” she says.)
Missions accomplished, we explored the hall from top to bottom, finding plenty to gawk at along the way.
The Bone display was a hit, as I’d suspected.
Hokey smokes, it cannot be Thursday already! A week since SDCC began! I have got to wrap up this wrap-up!
Well, first things first. The Comics for Teens panel recap I promised is up at GeekMom today. Excellent lineup of writers—Cecil Castellucci, Hope Larson, Gene Yang, and Nate Powell, with moderator Scott Westerfeld—talking about their work. This kind of discussion is exactly why I brave the crowds each year.
Next: some important shoe business. I had a few inquiries about those zombie ballerina flats I posted the other day. Here’s a link to the Iron Fist website, but be warned: not safe for kids. Because I mean come on, how you can model shoes without an unlaced black leather bustier? Ahem.
My SDCC roundup so far:
Day 1: Quick Peek
My favorite costume: Neo-Victorian biologist (at GeekMom)
Day 2: Again with the Quick Peeks
Things My Kids Can’t Wait to See at SDCC (at GeekMom)
The Streets of San Diego (at GeekMom)
SDCC Day of Recovery
SDCC Diary: Thursday
SDCC Teen Comics Workshop (at GeekMom)—emphasis on art
SDCC Comics for Teens Recap (at GeekMom)—emphasis on writing
SDCC Diary: Friday & Saturday
I’m in the middle of my Comics in the Library recap now. And I should do a Sunday diary post before a whole new Sunday rolls around…
But I get kinda busy with other stuff, you know? Like watching someone read herself to sleep…again.
Sunday was Jane’s turn. There was a manga-drawing workshop at 11 a.m. she was keen to attend, and I was hoping to get into the 10 a.m. Jim Henson panel. We arrived at the latter about two seconds after the room reached capacity, so we trekked to the other end of the convention center to see what was going on in the manga-panel room during the 10:00 time slot.
This turned out to be one of the most serendipitous events of the week, because what was going on in that room was the fantastic Teen Comics Workshop I blogged about at GeekMom.
After the workshop, I left Jane to enjoy her manga panel and I scurried off for a brief meetup with my pal Kristen and our fellow GeekMom Nicole Wakelin.
Me, Nicole, Kristen
Then I ran back upstairs to get Jane, who had enjoyed the manga workshop but said it wasn’t as cool as the other one. And then back downstairs to con floor—Jane’s turn to explore it from top to bottom. The whole time we were there, we were texting Kristen, who was also braving the crowds. Jane wanted her turn to see Vivi. We’re all a little Vivi-mad in this house. Alas, we never spotted each other, despite series of texts like: “We’re at the G4 booth RIGHT NOW.” “Great! We’re at Dance Party, be right there!” (These two booths were next door.) “Augh, we’re at G4, did we miss you???” (Later we discovered that we were at the G4 booth at the exact same time—but Kristen & Co. were right above us on the upper level.)
But Jane did get to meet up with someone very special. I took her to the booth of Daxiong, an artist Scott discovered in portfolio review two years ago. Daxiong was a highly acclaimed comics artist in China when, in 2008, he was imprisoned and tortured for illustrating a book called Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party. After two months he was rescued by friends and came to the States.
As a WildStorm editor, one of Scott’s Comic-Con duties was to meet with artists who submitted portfolios, offering them advice and critiques of their work. When he looked at Daxiong’s work, he had only one thing to say: “When can you start?” Daxiong is now drawing comics for DC, Marvel, and other publishers. He and his translator, Mike Chen, are two of the nicest, most generous people I’ve ever met, and it was an honor to introduce my girl to them.
::kicks self for not getting a picture::
After that came my Biggest Doofus Moment of the year (so far; still time to beat it): we were wandering the floor and I found myself practically on top of the entire cast of The Guild. I’m a huge fan. They were sitting at a table, and what I realized later is that there must have been a line snaking away on the other end of the table. At my end, t
We interrupt our regularly scheduled program with a recap of Comic-Con 2011. Warning that this post is a bit long.
For those of you who don't know, Comic-Con is a massive event for lovers of all things comics, books, video games, art, pop culture and other geeky goodness. It is made of awesome and is one of the highlights of my year. There weren't too many big studio panels I was interested in this year, which left me with room to scout out some of the smaller panels as well as wander the exhibit floor more.
Books publisher were there in full force, with a lot of focus on YA and fantasy.
On Thursday I went to the No Damsels in Distress Here panel. The panelists were sci-fi and fantasy authors and the discussion was strong female characters -- what it takes to write them and the challenges of doing it. Not necessarily YA but a couple of the authors do have YA books. Panelists included Sherrilyn Kenyon, Seanan McGuire, Carrie Vaughn, Jeanne Stein , Chloe Neill, Merrie deStefano and Marie Lu. I was very impressed by all of them. They all had strong opinions and were very articulate in voicing them. It's clear that, while writing kick ass women still has its challenges, these authors are helping to break down those barriers by continuing to write strong characters.
no damsels in distress here - from left to right: Sherrilyn Kenyon, Seanan McGuire, Carrie Vaughn,
Jeanne Stein, Chloe Neill, Merrie deStefano and Marie Lu
I also went to two publisher panels, The Scoop at Simon & Schuster and What's Up Penguin. Both panels were packed and it is clear that the enthusiasm for YA is still going strong. It looks like a lot of exciting releases are coming down the pipeline and my to-read list has grown exponentially. There were also some really great raffle prizes during the panels. Unfortunately I did not win (boo!).
Here is a shot of the Penguin Teen booth. I am actually on the wrong side here
so you can see some of the Star Wars booth next door, but you get the idea.
One of the best panels I attended at SDCC was Comics in the Library, moderated by Gina Gagliano of First Second Books, featuring four librarians from different parts of the country:
• Candice Mack, LA Public Library
• Mike Pawuk, Cuyahoga County Public Library (Ohio)
• Eva Volin, Alameda Library (CA) [Twitter]
• Gene Anbaum, Unshelved [Twitter]
This is a writeup of my panel notes. I was writing quickly, so it’s possible I’ve made mistakes below—my apologies if so!
From left: Candice Mack, Mike Pawuk, Eva Volin, Gina Gagliano. Sorry I didn’t get Gene Anbaum in the photo!
What is your collection like?
Gina opened the discussion by asking the panelists to tell us about the comics and graphic novel collections in their library systems.
Candice is at a different branch now, but in the branch where she built a graphic novel collection, she began by moving comics out of Dewey Decimal order to designated shelves in the teen section, with signs to point readers toward them. This had a big impact on circulation. Later in the panel, she described creating a reading lounge with sofas in the teen section near the comics/GN shelves. This became quite popular with kids.
Mike works in a system that has 27 branches containing about 4000 graphic novels & manga for teens. There are also GN sections in children’s & adult.
Eva‘s system (three branches) has GNs in all departments.
Gene‘s branch has an extensive teen collection. The adult collection has a few titles, Alan Moore, Garth Ennis. Some kids’ GNs are hidden with rest of kids’ books—except Babymouse which has its own shelf.
Eva mentioned one series that didn’t move at all in teens. She moved to the children’s section; now it’s never on the shelf—it is constantly checked out.
Gene talked about deciding where to shelve things, especially manga with mature content.
Eva (addressing the issue of whether some comics may be too mature for children) said it’s not a librarian’s job to tell your child what he can read—that is the parents’ job. She thinks the comics rating system isn’t useful: you have to read the books or look at reviews to get a feel for actual content.
Gene mentioned that in his branch, sometimes they wind up with books in all three sections.
Mike started the job in 1996. At that time, all his branch had was a few volumes of Sandman and Bone. He wanted to build a collection. He likes it best when staff can order titles for their own branches—they know their communities.
How to start a collection
Mike talked about what percent of the collection is GN. In his system, the 4000 GNs are about 12% of total circulation. Teen (prose) fiction is about 10%, also roughly 4000 titles.
Gene said that in 2000, his branch had one shelf of comics/GNs. He was given $6000 to build a GN collection with but had to use the money in one month. He was forced to choose quickly, went with a lot of things he liked personally but tried also to choose broadly, outside his tastes. The manga he ordered flew off the shelves.
Someone (whoops, no attribution in my notes) said that in hi
We’re back! And we have had no dinner and nothing to eat, so this may be very very rocky.
The evening gala starts with the introduction of host Bill Morrison who lets on that “Somewhere there is a very small area that sells comics, look for it search it out and find some of the fantastic projects that have been here tonight.” Good advice, Bill even if we need a microscope and a Foursquare account to find those comics.
Bill introduced the other co-host, voice actor Maurice LaMarche, who comes up and admits he’s a comics book geek who shops at Golden Apple and Earth 2. After running through a vocal medley of his best known characters– like the Brain — he then introduces the “Queen Mother” of the Eisner Awards, Jackie Estrada.
Jackie runs through the history of the award from the great Olbrich/Fantagraphics Kirby Awards rift of the 80s that gave rise to the Harveys and Eisners. She also explains the rules, introduces the judges and explains that this is her 20th year doing the Eisners. Congrats to Jackie!
Denis Kitchen announces that A CONTRACT WITH GOD will be made into a movie with four stories being adapted by four directors including Alex Rivera, Tse Tung and two others whose names we didn’t get. Among the group of producers is one Bob Schreck! The main producer dude comes up and gives a humble speech about how cool it it is to be doing this.
Morrison and LaMarche introduce the 13 stars of Scott Pilgrim with some awkward schtick — but is there ever any other kind at an awards show? Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Ellen Wong introduce The Best Publication for Kids and the winner is…
• The Wonderful Wizard of Oz HC, by L. Frank Baum, Eric Shanower, and Skottie Young (Marvel)
Eric Shanower and Skottie Young come up to accept and thank Marvel and everyone. Eric is well dressed.
GIANT BEAUTIFUL HUMAN Brandon Routh comes up to give the award for Best Publication for Teens to
Beasts of Burden, by Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson.
Jill comes up and jokes that she’ll be holding on to Routh — you and everyone else, MEORWWWR. Jill thanks the fans for making this unlikely blend of animal, detectives and the supernatural a success.
Satya Baba is up to present Best Humor Publication. Baba has an awesome accent and delivery and everyone is thrilled to present it to Bryan Lee O’Malley for Scott Pilgrim vs. the Universe, a popular win. O’Malley inexplicably calls up Thomas Jane which really makes the night complete. O’Malley is also humble and surprised and says he isn’t funny. We say different.
The beautiful young movie stars leave the stage, taking their innocence and wonder with them and we are left with Jillian Tamaki and James Sturm who bring us back to the warm and familiar world of comics and present Best Cover Artist J. H. Williams III for Detective Comics, a pretty good choice. James Sime accepts with a natty look.
They also present Best Letterer to David Mazzuchelli. Stephen DeStefano accepts with another natty look. He says David told him to deliver the message “Who is Bryan Lee O’Malley.” De Stefano also lauds Mazzuchelli’s wife Richmond who is a fine artist and inspiration in her own right.
Best Digital Comic goes to Sin Titulo, by Cameron Stewart. Who is thrilled with his win and thanks his other Transmission-X Canadian cohorts.
Jerry Robinson and Mark Evanier come out to present the Finger Award to Gary Friedrich who is very excited and humble and a bit hard to understand.
The Reno 911 guys are up and feign
by special Beat correspondent Bruce Lidl
Late Thursday afternoon, as Comic Con began to really hit its stride, as the shift from panel and show floor to party mode started to occur, the second annual “Digital Comics Now!” panel, hosted by Chip Mosher of Boom! Studios got underway. In some ways the panel is a barometer for where digital comics stand in 2010. Many of the same faces from 2009 appeared, including David Steinberger from comiXology and Michael Murphey from iVerse, while new members were Wade Slitkin of Panelfly and Micah Baldwin from Graphic.ly. Noticeably absent was Rantz Hoseley from Longbox, an ubiquitous presence at the Convention in 2009.
There was breaking news right off the bat, with Slitkin announcing that Panelfly was about to disappear and is merging with some other multimedia properties into a new entity to be called “Syn.” Details were sparse, but it would appear that at least one of the players in the digital comics space is exiting. In general, though, the rest of the panelists were cautiously bullish on the prospects for digital comics, particularly based on the growth in availability and sales for comics distributed online (primarily via Apple properties, an element that remains consistent from 2009). Steinberger was comfortable representing the admitted industry leader, as comiXology has the largest library of available titles, with over 2300 books he claimed.
Micah Baldwin from newcomer Graphic.ly was happy to play the role of the bigger thinker, and to emphasize what he sees as his company’s key differentiator, social and community features. Murphey from iVerse seemed to be speaking for all in the group in characterizing the necessity of depending so much on Apple to be an acceptable reality and that some of the early problems around the iTunes have been ironed out, and things were “just not that bad” anymore.
Mosher challenged the panelists to explain how digital comics were going to expand the overall comic book market beyond what his research characterizes as the “300,000 regular weekly shoppers” at the 1800-2000 brick and mortar shops in the U.S. Here the answers were very similar to a year ago, highlighting the potential benefits of bringing comics to non-traditional readers via technology, and to capitalize on the general pervasiveness of comic IP in the culture generally. Steinberger claimed that the retailers participating in comiXology’s program had seen sale increases of “20%” but the general feeling was that digital comics were still too new to for much comprehensive data to be collected yet.
To this observer, the most interesting comment from the panel was really more of a question. Baldwin from Graphic.ly, an admitted “non-comics guy,” talked about the on-going search for that element that will be the tangible answer to the change in revenue streams brought on by digital. In his view the music industry has forcibly shifted its priorities to live concert sales over individual unit sales. He wants to know “what will be the live music” of the comic book industry, which is a very interesting question for the CEO of a company that sells digital copies of comic books to ask. Digital comics are, after all, the mp3 in this analogy, and it is the physical comic books that are the scarce good that can still be charged for, like music performances. The price pressure on digital copies is likely to increase in a downward direction, as we have seen in other industries, including book publishing. Because of the intensely collectible and visual nature of comics, far greater than CD’s or books of course, comics sales are likely to remain far more dependent on physical sales than those other media, while the successful price of digital comics are, in my opinion, almost assured
In the recent manga cutbacks, one company has remained conspicuous by their silence — Del Rey’s manga line, mostly licensed from Kodansha, has been quietly downsizing for months, with fewer and fewer titles coming out, and an increased emphasis on their home-made manga-like books, such as their Avatar graphic novels.
In addition, it is confirmed that marketing manager Ali T. Kokmen has been let go. Kokmen worked closely on DEl Rey’s manga line so the lay-off developed from that. (Kokmen is at the con, so if you see him, offer him a gig.)
Kodansha representative are at the show however, including some appearances at the Vertical booth where they are talking up a new English language version of their contributor’s site — perhaps looking to add more English-speaking creators to the established Felipe Smith.
While the scope of all the moves isn’t entirely clear, Random House, the parent company of Del Rey, seems to be cutting back on graphic novels in general, as the manga category softens and a lot of books that were announced with great fanfare over the last few years underperformed, such as the Marvel manga line. They are still in the space with books like the Flight anthologies however, and other licensed titles. And of course, they distribute DC’s graphic novels to the trade.
“So what do you do at Comic-Con, anyway?” a friend asked me. My con experience is generally quite different from most of my friends’ experiences there, the daytime parts at least. Most of my con pals are writers, artists, and editors who are there to work. They put in time at publishers’ booths, they sign books and do sketches, they speak on panels and meet fans and go to special events. For most pros, it’s a fun week, but a hard one too, often quite exhausting. People are usually pretty wiped out by Sunday afternoon. Even I am exhausted, and I didn’t have to work. As you know, I took a break from fiction writing with the last two babies, so I haven’t had any new books to promote in the past couple of years. (Though I suppose this is as good a time as any to tell you that I did get back to work in January, and I’ve finished a middle-grade novel and a young graphic novel, and they are both in the capable hands of my agent now, so yay for that! I’m feeling my way into the next book now. But that’s a topic for another post…)
At dinner with Babymouse author and utterly lovable person, Jenni Holm, and her delightful husband, video game developer Jonathan Hamel. My crazy gremlin smile is because that is how happy they make me.
Anyway, for me, as a pro who has been on hiatus, SDCC is kind of an ideal convention experience: I get all the fun of spending time with writer and artist friends, many of whom I only see once a year, and I get to explore the vendor hall and scout out interesting new books to read—which you know is pretty much my favorite pastime—but I am also free to attend panels all day long, if I wish. And I love the panels at Comic-Con. I love listening to other creative professionals talk about their work. The folks who speak on SDCC panels are some of the smartest, most talented, most interesting people I’ve ever had the pleasure to listen to. Comic book writers and artists, children’s book writers, science fiction and fantasy authors, cartoonists, editors…a feast for the curious mind.
So: I went to lots of panels, and when I wasn’t tweeting about them, I took copious notes in my notebook—notes I will shortly attempt to write up here, for my own records if nothing else. Here are the panels I attended; I’d love to know which ones you’d be most interested in hearing more about:
• “Once Upon a Time”—panel on high fantasy with authors Brandon Sanderson, Brent Weeks, Lynn Flewelling, Megan Whalen Turner, Christopher Paolini, and Patrick Rothfuss. SUCH A GREAT DISCUSSION! Topics: everyman vs. superhero; role of prophecy/destiny in fiction.
• Digital comics (this one turned about to be more about marketing than the creative and technical processes)
• The LOST Encyclopedia
• Rick Riordan interviewed by novelist Michael Scott (EXCELLENT panel; I tweeted notes and took many more)
• “Entertaining One’s Inner Child”—panel of children’s graphic novel author/illustrators moderated by Jennifer Holm. The panelists were: Jimmy Gownley (Amelia Rules), Sina Grace (Among the Ghosts), Matt Holm (Babymouse), Adam Rex (Fat Vampire), David Steinberg (Daniel Boom), and Greg Van Eekhout (Kid Vs. Squid).
• Spotlight on the legendary comic-book writer and Batman editor Dennis O&rs
Again, quickly typing up my notes. These are things that piqued my interest and beg a closer look, when time permits.
No particular order here except the order in which I encountered them at the con. (UPDATE: this post got too long! So now it’s a Part One.)
• Owly (kids’ graphic novels, the one I saw was wordless and sweet, published by Top Shelf Press)
• Practically everything at the First Second (:01) booth made me drool—I was already familiar with these folks, having read (and been blown away by) Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese a little while ago. Gene was on one of the children’s graphic novel panels I attended at SDCC last year.
Gene Luen Yang and Jennifer Holm at SDCC 2009.
This year, “Urgent Request” from The Eternal Smile (written by Gene; illustrated by Derek Kirk Kim) won the Eisner for best short story, which is very exciting. To my amusement, at the very moment I was paging through Eternal Smile, I looked up and there was Gene with his family at the First Second booth. He and his wife had their three small children in tow—Gene was wearing the baby in a front-carrier, a heartwarming sight. We chatted briefly; it was a delight to meet them.
• Back to First Second Books. Other titles that caught my eye:
—Cat Burglar Black
—Adventures in Cartooning—we’ve checked this out from the library, big hit with my kids, but I don’t think I’ve mentioned it here before
—Foiled (Jane Yolen)—has been on my TBR list, even more appealing in person, wonderful art
—The Color of Water
I didn’t take many notes on this one, but there are stories to tell. First of all, I went into it expecting a discussion about the show, the ending, our questions, our theories—I mean, I figured there would be five or six people up front debating and taking comments from the crowd. It wasn’t like that. What it actually was was an info session on DK’s soon-to-be-published LOST Encyclopedia, moderated by a DK rep, with the book’s two authors as panelists/interviewees.
This sounds very market-y, but it was FASCINATING. And before twenty minutes had passed, I had shifted from feeling very shruggy about the notion of an “encyclopedia” for a TV show, even one as intricate and awesome as LOST, to thinking I MUST HAVE THIS BOOK.
So: if it was a commercial, it was a darned effective one.
But it wasn’t really a commercial. It was two intelligent and enthusiastic writers talking about the process of researching, writing, and organizing a complex work of nonfiction. The visuals were interesting enough—sample layouts, even a short video clip from the LOST DVD’s bonus materials—but what really grabbed me was the authors’ discussion about how they worked with the LOST writers and producers to write entries on every single person, place, and thing that appeared on the show, from Aaron (Littleton) to Zodiac (raft). Or, as Paul Terry, one of the cowriters, kept adorably saying, “From A to Zed.”
My sparse notes say:
• Authors: Paul Terry and Tara Bennett. Liked these two very much. Clearly they are passionate about the material.
• The book will include everything that is LOST canon, including material from the not-yet-released bonus scene from the DVD, which of course I AM DYING TO SEE because I’m convinced it will be about—no wait, I can’t say, since my own dear daughter hasn’t made it past Season One yet. Must not spoil!! But, you know, if you’re a Lostie then you probably have a good guess as to what sort of story there might be left to tell…
• Book will offer clarifications, yes, but will not fill in the holes—that isn’t possible, said Bennett. No entries were winged; there are no speculations.
• Entries have levels of importance. A-level is major players, Jack, Locke, etc. D- or E-level would be something like Shannon’s asthma inhaler.
• One particular challenge was that the language had to be concrete, couldn’t leave opening for misinterpretation; the book was much harder to write than Terry and Bennett realized it would be when they took on the project.
• Once they were committed to writing it (seems to have happened perhaps midway through the run?), they stopped reading recap & speculation blogs, boards, etc; needed to keep their relationship to the show pure/uninfluenced by non-canonical theories & interpretations.
So much for my notes. But I said there were stories. The first one is actually from the panel before the LOST one, a discussion about webcomics by several successful creators. I went to this one out of mild interest, intending to stick around for the LOST panel since it was in the same room. The webcomics panel was structured as a “lightning round” Q-and-A: the panelists had 20 seconds each to answer questions from the audience. I’ll write up that panel when I get a chance; it was lively and interesting and funny. But the really funny part was when one of the questioners remarked, somewhat snidely, that unlike many people in the room, he was there for the webcomics panel specifically, not just camping out for a seat at LOST. The webcomics guys said, Wait, what? There’s a LOST panel in here next? And they asked for a show of hands: who was just waiting for LOST? About a third of the people in the audience raised their hands.
Ho-ho, said one of the webcomics guys. And for the next
By: Melissa Wiley
Blog: Here in the Bonny Glen
(Login to Add to MyJacketFlap
, SDCC 2010
, Brandon Sanderson
, Brent Weeks
, Christopher Paolini
, epic fantasy
, high fantasy
, Lynn Flewelling
, Megan Whalen Turner
, Patrick Rothfuss
, Add a tag
It’s a week after Comic-Con and I’m still working through my notes! Two more panels and another booklist to post, and then it’s likely to get quiet around here for a spell.
I scrawled a crazy amount of notes at the Once Upon a Time panel—six authors of epic fantasy discussing their craft—but the odds of my being able to translate the scrawl to English are slimmish, so never fear. This was a fascinating panel. (Hence the 12 pages of notes.) Have I mentioned I love hearing other writers talk about their work? Yeah.
The panelists, in order of seating: Brandon Sanderson, Brent Weeks, Lynn Flewelling, Megan Whalen Turner, Christopher Paolini, Patrick Rothfuss. The moderator: Maryelizabeth Hart of the awesome Mysterious Galaxy bookstore. She was great. They were all great.
Hart’s first question was about the everyman character vs. the larger-than-life superheroic character. In epic fantasy, with these sweeping adventures and grand-scale worldbuilding, does the main character also need to be larger than life?
SANDERSON: talked about Bilbo and Frodo, everymen, little guys, ordinary, small. “If Tolkien did it, it must be okay.” (Gave context of Tolkien as originator of high fantasy.) Made interesting point about Sam having superheroic loyalty—i.e. Sam is not a typical everyman. But came back to “at core of every everyman there is something exceptional.”
WEEKS: If we can follow them [everyman characters] through that journey, we are great too. We know there is something great within us, potential; as the everyman becomes great, we become great with him.
FLEWELLING: likes to see the process (of becoming great), doesn’t like to see heroes from the start. Wants backstory. If protag is superstrong, etc, can be boring.
WHALEN TURNER: Likes themes of “extraordinary performances of ordinary people.” Talked in terms of flavors—her favorite flavor is a book about an extraordinary person, but it requires careful handling to maintain dramatic tension. Spoke about the Mary Sue character, two different definitions of that; one is “squicky,” where the character represents the author; but in another sense a Mary Sue character is an everyman who can represent the reader. She likes that, thinks it makes for satisfying story.
PAOLINI: Basically it comes down to: “Batman is better than Superman.” (Gets huge laugh.) Talked about the difference between the extraordinary SETTING and the extraordinary CHARACTER. You can put an extraordinary character in an ordinary setting (like Superman in Kansas corn field) or vice versa, ordinary guy in extraordinary setting (Frodo in Mordor). Over time, the ordinary character becomes larger-than-life—best example, he says, is Arthur Dent in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, “a larger-than-life doofus” with flaws and weaknesses.
ROTHFUSS: 1) Paolini beat him to the Batman thing. 2) He’s a contrarian so has to reflexively disagree with what everyone else said. (Big laugh.) For him, a really big story (and epic fantasy is always a really big story) needs an everyman for people to relate to. He also spoke about the Mary Sue—my notes say “Your main char is one”—was he talking to Paolini? I think so, think it got a laugh, Paolini nodding in agreement. Rothfuss likes characters like Cyrano, Odysseus—unusually cool and clever.
PAOLINI: discussed “hereditary vs earned skills” (again Superman—hereditary—and Batman—earned/learned). “Escalating powers” can make problems for a writer—if the guy can simply “snuff the sun,” no story left. He too likes CLEVERNESS in a character.
SANDERSON: talked about origin of epic fantasy, founded by Tolkien, before that there were heroic tales (Conan, Tarzan, the guy starts off as hero). Tolk
Again, these are books I haven’t read yet (except one)—I saw them at the con and they piqued my interest. The TBR pile moans.
Series by James Owen: The Chronicles of Imaginarium Geographica (I saw these last year too. Gorgeously designed fantasy series with an appealing premise, something about a map of all the imaginary worlds ever written about…
I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore (they had a very cool one-of-a-kind handbound metal edition at the publisher’s table)
Hungry Tiger Press. This is the publisher of Eric Shanower’s beautifully illustrated new editions of L. Frank Baum’s Oz books. Eric won two Eisners this year for his edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (a Marvel Comics project). Hungry Tiger publishes reprints of old Oz stories and other Baum work, including two books about The Flying Girl, “intrepid girl aviator Orissa Kane.” Baum was one of my favorite authors as a child—we still have my collection of Oz books—and I couldn’t resist bringing The Flying Girl home with me for a test flight.
Tigerbuttah by Becky and Frank of Tiny Kitten Teeth fame. My friend Sarah showed me a copy, and the art and title made me swoon. I hunted for the booth but this was late in the day on Sunday and we had a curry date with our pal Jock, so I gave up the search. The book was adorable—it’s made after the fashion of a Golden Book with many cunning details.
Buzzboy by John Gallagher. Had the pleasure of meeting John at the kidlit gathering and am looking forward to reading his comic about “what happens when the sidekicks take over.”
Nerds: National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society by Michael Buckley, illustrated by Ethan Beavers. Wonderful art & a fun premise—the nerds are kids who use technology to “upgrade” their weaknesses into superpowers. More about this (and all of the above) after I’ve had a chance to read.
Repaneled is a newish blog that recreates classic comics panels in new art styles. Up today:
Anthony Vukojevich’s reimagination of a key panel from Gabrielle Bell’s San Diego ComicCon Comicumentary
BTW, 2010 was my first time experiencing the unfettered party insanity that is the Indie Comix Embassy Suites Happy Hour. Long will it haunt my dreams.
BTW part 2: this blog post title was my official entry into the all time hardest to spell blog post title darby.
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When San Diego Comic-Con swallows up my life.
I’ll be posting about it as usual, both here and at GeekMom. And tweeting from the middle of the madness, no doubt.
I’m pleased that my cellphone photos will automatically upload to Google+.
As usual, I’m poring over the schedule, trying to figure out what panels to attend…got requests?