Thursday, April 14, 2011
Episode #171 Part IX: MegaCon 2011 Wrap Up!
I'm glad that I took the week off after MegaCon for my vacation, because it took the entire week to post everything I wanted to about my trip to MegaCon. As you can tell from the selection of panels I attended, which I posted as episodes, I love learning about the craft of comic book storytelling, as well as more about some of my favorite creators.
Since I was going to cover the DC Panel and the John Schneider panel for the Superman Homepage website, I missed out on the Stan Lee and Star Trek panels. I also missed out on the biggest story to come out of MegaCon, as posted on all of the comic book websites, Mark Waid's and Ethan Van Sciver's confrontation with Rob Granito, who apparently has been copying the work of other professional artists and selling them as his own, after making slight changes. I didn't spend a lot of time in Artists' Alley, except to buy the latest copies of Derrick Fish's self published title, The Wellkeeper. So I wasn't in any danger of buying any of Granito's fraudulent art. I was so focused on the panels that I missed out on the fun on Sunday.
There were a few panels I didn't record, or the audio was not good enough to post as an individual episode. So I will discuss them briefly here. The first of these panels was The New York Connection. It was the fourth and final panel I attended on Friday, March 25, 2011. It was about some of the comic book pros who grew up in New York City and met in the industry. The panelists were Amanda Conner, Frank Tieri, Jimmy Palmiotti, Joe Jusko, Nelson DeCastro and Billy Tucci. All of them grew up around the New York area except for Amanda, who met them when she moved to New York City to begin working in the industry. There was a bar near the Marvel offices which was a popular hangout for the Marvel staff, including the panelists. The panel was a great way to end the first day of MegaCon, a real energy boost. They told a lot of funny stories on each other and shared some of their humorous anecdotes about their careers, including getting barred from a convention for a few years because of a hotel incident after the end of the Con..
I almost missed out on the Spotlight On DC Comics Panel, which was the second panel I planned to attend on Saturday, March 25, 2011. The first panel that day ran long, Words And Pictures, The Art Of Storytelling In Comics. By the time I got to the DC Panel, it was standing room only and there was no room to squeeze in the door. I was very disappointed because I had volunteered to cover it for the Superman Homepage website. I was about to give up on it, when someone left, and another guy held the door open for me. I whipped out my recorder and caught what part of the panel I could. As it turned out I got there just in time. The panelists were Geoff Johns, Dan Didio, Steve Scott, Rob Hunter, Ethan Van Sciver and Tony Bedard. The first question I heard was about the Doomsday storyline in the Superman titles. Dan Didio said that since the Man of Steel had been out of Action Comics and Superman for a while, and they wanted to bring him back in the most exciting way possible. Doomsday made the most sense to them. Usually DC releases their events in the middle of the year, but they wanted to do something special for the upcoming Action Comics #900.
The same person expressed his appreciation for DC pulling back their cover prices to $2.99. Didio said that he guaranteed that their regular issues would remain at that price through the end of the year. That didn't mean that the price would increase at the beginning of 2012. As long as readers support DC titles, the price will remain at $2.99. The conversation moved to other areas of the DC Universe, and I decided to leave so that I could catch the Mark Waid panel.
The Future Of Comics And New Media was the first panel I attended on Sunday, March 27, 2011. I made the mistake of not sitting near the panelists table, so the audio was not good enough to post as an individual episode. The panelists were Darwyn Cooke, Terry Moore and Jim Valentino. They felt that digital comics have the potential to revive the comic book industry. Terry Moore said that his personal goal was to remove every middleman between him and his readers, and digital comic books fit that goal perfectly.
Several obstacles that need to be overcome for this to come to pass are, an app that can work across platforms like iPads, Android, etc. The price of devices need to drop more to become financially affordable for a wider audience. Most importantly, a proprietary software that can prevent digital copies from being distributed freely through bit torrent websites, so that comic book creators do not lose a well earned income from their work.
Another thing that will boost digital comics is another Siegel and Shuster creation. Just as Superman put superhero comic book son the map, digital comics need a similar creation. Terry Moore added that digital comic books need a Disney vision, a Walt as well as a Roy Disney. In other words, someone with the creative vision and someone with the business savvy to make it work.
Darwyn Cooke said that digital comics has the potential of creating a new storytelling vocabulary. Readers of digital comics can have the ultimate control over experiencing a comic book. For instance, in a chase scene, it would be possible for a reader to touch on a pop up map to show where everyone is at any stage of the chase. Also, they could read the story in the pencilled, inked or finished stage.
The topic of digital comics touched on a number of panels I attended. Several pros expressed some frustration with the top comic book publishers, who are resistant to the future of digital comics. A number of pros felt these publishers were making the same mistake the music industry made with the rise of digital songs.
The other panel I covered for the Superman Homepage website was the John Schneider panel. It was the second panel I attended on Sunday. The Digital Comics panel ran long, so I got there a little bit late. But I did get to listen to most of it. John Schneider was a very warm person to the audience, and had a great sense of humor. He shared many anecdotes about his acting and music career, including playing a southern redneck for his audition for The Dukes of Hazzard TV show, even though he was from New York State.John also had a lot of stories about his time on Smallville, including a few non spoiler stories about filming the series finale. He talked about one scene in the first part of the final episode, when he has a conversation with Clark, telling his son how much he believes in him. John also shared about his charity work, including being one of the founders of the Children's Miracle Network.
The final panel I attended for MegaCon was The Do's And Don'ts Of Comics. Originally, the final panel I was going to attend was Creator Owned Comics, which had Terry Moore, Billy Tucci, Jim Valentino, Ron Marz, Brian Pulido and Jimmy Palmiotti. Terry had to leave early to catch his flight back to Houston, so the panel was rescheduled to the same time as the Do's And Don'ts panel. Since golden age Marvel/Timely artists Allen Bellman was on this panel, I decided to attend this one. Joining Allen on this panel were Steve Scott, Frank Tieri, Nelson DeCastro and Paolo Rivera.
Some of their advice about applying for comic book work was very basic, such as dressing appropriately and having good body language. They advised prospective pros to self publish to get their foot in the door. Good communications with other pros they're working with, as well as good relations, is very important. Also, it's best to be careful when dating inside the industry. A relationship ending badly can really hurt a career. Leave the ego at the door. The most important job is to create the best comic book story possible. Think visually like a movie, using a variety of shots to add variety to a story.
The door seems to be open wider than ever before for women and minorities in comics. A large number of women work at all levels of the industry, and are present in larger numbers in graphic design schools.
The only bad thing about MegaCon was that I overspent on comic book t-shirts. I intended to get a replacement for my worn out Superman t-shirt. I wound up getting a second Superman t-shirt with the logo, as well as Incredibles and Mighty Mouse shirts.
Next year, MegaCon is scheduled for February 17 - 19, 2012. Check their website periodically for updated information as the convention approaches.
Next Episode: Superman Comics Cover Dated September 1958: Superman #124 & Action Comics #244!
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