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FORREST J ACKERMAN 1916—2008
Forry at Comic-Con in the early 1970s.
Long-time Comic-Con friend, Forrest J Ackerman, the man who coined the term “sci-fi” and edited the beloved influential movie monster magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland, passed away on December 4, 2008. Known by countless nicknames— FJA, The Acker-monster, 4E, 4SJ, Dr. Acula, Mr. Science Fiction, and even the Mayor of Horrorwood, Karloffornia (our personal favorite)—Forry was first and foremost a fan. Over the years he amassed an incredible collection of science fiction and movie memorabilia, all generated by early exposure to “imagi-movies” (another term he coined for films such as One Glorious Day, which he saw in 1923) and science fiction. Forry first encountered the seminal fiction magazine Amazing Stories when he was only 10 years old. Forry was active in the early days of science fiction fandom, founding the Boys Scientifiction Club in 1929 and contributing to the first issue of the first science fiction fanzine, The Time Traveller, in 1932. He was part of the Clifton’s Cafeteria Science Fiction Club, which included future authors Robert A. Heinlein, Leigh Brackett, Jack Williamson, and a kid Forry persuaded to attend, Ray Bradbury. In 1939, he attended the first World Science Fiction Convention
on the Fourth of July weekend in New York City. He came in costume, starting the convention tradition of fan costuming, and went on to attend Worldcons throughout the remainder of his life. He became a literary agent in 1948, with a client list that included such science fiction luminaries as A. E. van Vogt, Hugo Gernsback, and L. Ron Hubbard. But it was in 1957 that Forry found his true calling. He was approached by publisher James Warren to develop a one-shot publication that tied into the incredible nationwide interest in old monster movies, many of which were appearing on television for the very first time. Warren and Forry came up with Famous Monsters of Filmland, the first issue of which sold out on its release in February 1958. It was one of those “perfect storm” moments: the combination of Forry’s pun-filled captions and articles, plus his incredible collection of photographs, along with the magazine’s simple and effective graphic design captured the public’s hearts and minds. FM became a monster hit. Forry went on to edit the magazine for over 25 years. Along the way both he and Famous Monsters became an incredible influence on movie fans around the world. Stephen King, George Lucas, and Steven Spielberg are just a few of the FM readers who went on to big-
ger and better things. Forry opened up his “Acker-mansion” (in the Lincoln Park area of Los Angeles) to fans of all ages. His museum-quality collection included everything from movie posters and rare first-edition books to an original King Kong maquette; life masks of movie stars such as Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, and Vincent Price; and Lon Chaney’s original makeup kit. Forry was present at what could be called “Comic-Con 0,” the minicon in March 1970 that preceded the first “real” San Diego Comic-Con in August of that year. Over the last four decades, Forry was an almost constant presence at the event, winning the first Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award in 1984 for mentoring talent. In 2008, he was on hand for the 50th anniversary of Famous Monsters, along with publisher Jim Warren. Sadly, it was his final convention appearance. The world of fandom won’t quite be the same without Forry. In 1953, he received a special Hugo Award for “#1 Fan Personality.” Over 50 years later, he was still that and much more, a very special fan who became an incredible influence over an entire generation of new fans, people who went on to create some of the best-loved and most popular books, movies, comics, and television shows of the past half-century. Winter 2009 • Comic-Con Magazine 1
In this issue
Zack Snyder INTERVIEW
Board of Directors President: John Rogers Secretary: Mary Sturhann Treasurer: Mark Yturralde VP, Events: Robin Donlan VP, Operations: William Pittman Directors at Large: Frank Alison, Ned Cato Jr., Dan Davis, Craig Fellows, Eugene Henderson, Martin Jaquish, Lee Oeth, Chris Sturhann Executive Director: Fae Desmond Director of Marketing and Public Relations: David Glanzer
WonderCon PREVIEW 17
Director of Print and Publications: Gary Sassaman Director of Programming: Eddie Ibrahim HR/Office Manager: Sue Lord Talent Relations Manager: Maija Gates Guest Relations: Janet Goggins Exhibits: Director of Operations: Justin Dutta Exhibits: Sales: Rod Mojica Exhibits: Registration: Sam Wallace
Pastis & 24 Thompson INTERVIEW
to Other STUFF
Professional Registration: Heather Lampron, Anna-Marie Villegas Eisner Awards Administrator: Jackie Estrada Assistants to the Executive Director: Lisa Moreau, Matt Souza Assistants to the Director of Marketing and PR: Damien Cabaza, Marco Adames Assistant to the Director of Programming: Tommy Goldbach Line Control/Room Access Coordinator: Adam Neese
Films: Steve Brown, Josh Glaser Games: Ken Kendall Masquerade: Martin Jaquish Technical Services: Tristan Gates Exhibits: Art Auction/Artists’ Alley: Clydene Nee Art Show: LaFrance Bragg Autograph Area: Katherine Morrison Convention Services: Taerie Bryant Exhibit Floor Manager: Andy Manzi Operations: Archivist: Eugene Henderson Disabled Services: William Curtis Hospitality Suite: Mikee Ritter Logistics: Dan Davis
San Diego Comic-Con International is a nonprofit educational corporation dedicated to creating awareness of, and appreciation for, comics and related popular art forms, primarily through the presentation of conventions and events that celebrate the historic and ongoing contribution of comics to art and culture. 2 Comic-Con Magazine • Winter 2009
Events: Anime: John Davenport, Josh Ritter At-Show Newsletter: Chris Sturhann
5 CONnotations: Icon Award, The Amazing Race, APE 2008 22 The CAC Report 40 Eisner Awards 43 Costumers’ Corner 44 Volunteer Spotlight 46 What I’m Reading: Comics 47 What I’m Reading: Science Fiction
Comic-Con’s Mission Statement
Office Staff: Patty Campuzano, Ruben Mendez, Glenda Moreno, Colleen O’Connell
Materials Chief/Blood Drive: Craig Fellows Registration: Frank Alison, John Smith Volunteers: Luigi Diaz, Jennifer Maturo Information: Bruce Frankle
Zack Snyder photo by Clay Enos; Pig © 2009 Stephan Pastis; Alice and Petey © 2009 Richard Thompson
Contributors Editor/Designer Gary Sassaman Contributing Editors Fae Desmond, Jackie Estrada, David Glanzer Contributing Writers Jackie Estrada, Martin Jaquish Special Thanks Celeste Coller, John Cornett, Jess Garcia, Laureen Minnich, Gina Soliz Comic-Con Magazine • Winter 2009 Issue Published by San Diego Comic-Con International. All material, unless otherwise noted, is © 2009 Comic-Con International and may not be reproduced without permission. All other artwork is ™ & © 2009 by respective owners. Printed in Canada. Comic-Con and the Comic-Con logo are Reg. U.S. Pat. and Tm. Off.
Comic-Con International P. O. Box 128458 San Diego, CA 92112-8458
www.comic-con.org Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Fax: 619-414-1022 Comic-Con Hotline: 619-491-2475
Bill Kahler (“What I’m Reading,” pages 46-47) recently appeared on the 13th season of CBS’s The Amazing Race with teammate Mark Yturralde. Bill is a long-time Comic-Con volunteer in the technical and treasurer departments, working every year but one since 1986. Bill works in student financial aid at California Western School of Law and makes his home in San Diego. He has been known to order two soups with dinner. Mark Yturralde (“What I’m Reading,” pages 46-47) is the better-looking half of the “geek” team on The Amazing Race 13. He’s been working on Comic-Con for 30 years, which causes him no small amount of concern. In his day job, he’s the principal technologist for Cardinal Health, which is just a fancy way of saying “Alpha Geek.” He has four kids, three of whom he loves at any given time, and a wife he loves all the time. He really, really hates Bolivian taxi drivers, and he functions at his peak at sea level. COMICS ARTS CONFERENCE (“The CAC Report,” page 22) Peter Coogan, co-founder of the Comics Arts Conference, is the director of the Institute for Comics Studies and teaches at Washington University in St. Louis. He is the author of Superhero: The Secret Origin of a Genre, and chaired a conference on the superhero costume at the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in June 2008.
Randy Duncan, co-founder of the Comics Arts Conference, is a professor of communication at Henderson State University. He teaches a course on comics as communication and has co-authored The Power of Comics: History, Form and Culture, the first textbook on comics for undergraduates.
Kate McClancy, co-chair of the Comics Arts Conference since 2006, is a doctoral candidate in English at Duke University, where she is focusing on late-20th-century American literature and popular culture.
Go Green with Us and Save a Tree or Two! You can help Comic-Con Magazine work towards being more green. If you’re receiving more than one copy of this magazine—or any of our publications, postcards, etc.—in the mail, visit www.comic-con.org/common/maillist_removeme.php for more details on how to change your address, reduce duplicates, or take you name off our mailing list. Each issue of Comic-Con Magazine is also now featured on the web in exactly the same format you’re holding (minus the paper, of course!), utilizing online software (nothing to download!) that allows you to turn the page, zoom in, and read to your heart’s content. Visit www.comic-con.org/common/cc_magazine.shtml for details on reading the magazine online. You can also download your own PDF of each issue. If you’d like to stop receiving this magazine and instead read it online, please let us know by visiting the “remove me” address in the first paragraph.
In This Issue
On the cover:
Zack Snyder and the Watchmen. (Left to right): Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudup), Silk Spectre II (Malin Akerman), Nite Owl II (Patrick Wilson), Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley), Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), and Ozymandias (Matthew Goode). Dr. Manhattan photo courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures, TM & © 2009 DC Comics; all other photos by Clay Enos; TM & © DC Comics
The first Comic-Con Magazine for 2009 welcomes a new column focused on the Comics Arts Conference, the long-time Comic-Con and WonderCon academic programming track. Read the first installment on page 21, as part of our WonderCon 2009 coverage. Can we just take a moment to “ooh” and “ahh” over our new paper? While the old paper was just fine, the new slick paper helps us complete the transition to fullfledged magazine status and shows off the great photos and art to much better effect. And remember . . . this publication is still free! And finally, here’s our 2009 schedule. Mark your calendars! Feb. 27–Mar. 1: WonderCon, Moscone Center South, San Francisco Early May:
Comic-Con Magazine Spring 2009 issue
Comic-Con International, San Diego Conv. Ctr., Preview Night: July 22
Early October: Comic-Con Magazine Fall 2009 issue October 17–18: APE, Alternative Press Expo • Concourse, San Francisco Winter 2009 • Comic-Con Magazine 3
San Diego Comic-Con APE Alternative Press Expo
[news and notes from the wonderful world of Comic-Con International]
“And the Icon Award Goes to . . .” The focus of Comic-Con has always been the popular arts. With an emphasis on comics and their creators, fantasy literature, and film, the event has become the hallmark of everything that is cool in pop culture. A common and somewhat frustrating misconception is that Hollywood only recently discovered Comic-Con. But longtime attendees know that movies have been a major part of the show since its inception. For instance, in Comic-Con’s early days, famed directors Frank Capra and George Pal were among the guests. However, Hollywood’s participation reached a new level in 1976. It took what was (at the time) a small film studio with a big film to promote to change the way Hollywood viewed the convention and perhaps more important, fans themselves. It was the idea of George Lucas to send down the company’s public relations person, Charlie Lippincott, to promote his new film Star Wars. A full year before the world would see this epic adventure, fans at Comic-Con were treated to an exclusive look at the movie, with the first-ever Star Wars panel. In addition, writer Roy Thomas and artist Howard Chaykin were on hand to talk about Marvel’s Star Wars comic book, and Lucasfilm sold (for $1.50) preview movie posters drawn by Chaykin. Recognizing and utilizing “viral marketing” long before it was a catchy marketing phrase, Lucas harnessed the power of the fan community to build grassroots interest in his upcoming movie. And it wasn’t long before other Hollywood studios got the idea that Comic-Con would be a good place Photo: Jason Merritt/FilmMagic. © 2008 FilmMagic.
to reach their target audience. With the two subsequent Star Wars films, Lucasfilm returned to ComicCon each time to promote them and screen the previous films. More recently the studio has been a fixture in the Exhibit Hall with the massive Lucasfilm Pavilion and in programs that give fans the lowdown on all things Lucasfilm oriented; in fact, Friday has been “Star Wars Day” in the CCI programming schedule for over a decade now. In 2004 Lucasfilm even chose Comic-Con as the place to announce the title Revenge of the Sith as the last film in the saga. Since 2006, Comic-Con has presented its Icon Award to an individual or organization who has been instrumental in bringing comics and/or popular arts to a wider audience. For recognizing the devotion of the fan community and by entering into a dedicated partnership with them in a grassroots effort to reach a wider general public, George Lucas was presented with the 2008 Icon Award on national television on Spike TV, in October.
Lucas is the first non-comics creator to be awarded this honor. At the ceremony Lucas, a comics fan himself, thanked Comic-Con and paid tribute to the science fiction films and television shows that inspired him, in addition to the artists and creators who helped stir his imagination. Lucas is the third recipient of the Comic-Con Icon Award. Frank Miller received the first award in 2006, and Neil Gaiman was the recipient in 2007. Winter 2009 • Comic-Con Magazine 5
Mark and Bill on The Amazing Race! All of us at Comic-Con were thrilled when we found out our friends and longtime ComicCon volunteers Mark Yturralde and Bill Kahler had been picked for the latest season of the hit CBS-TV reality series The Amazing Race. The two have known each other for over 23 years. Mark is Comic-Con’s treasurer, and Bill is his onsite assistant. We asked them both to tell us about their experience on this popular show. CCM: How did you get involved in The Amazing Race? Mark Yturralde: We’d been applying for quite awhile. I pretty much bullied Bill into it. I needed him to read the maps. Bill Kahler: We went to an open casting call and got noticed there. It was a dreary, cold, rainy, December day, but we made the most of the hours we stood in line by having fun with the hopeful teams around us. I think that’s something that set us apart and got their attention—we have a good time no matter what the circumstances. CCM: What was the most “amazing” part of The Amazing Race for each of you? MY: For me, it was probably the starting line. Phil (the host), standing there with his hand raised, and you suddenly realize “Damn, this isn’t an elaborate joke. I’m really about to run up the stairs of the Coliseum and race to the airport. I get to open clues. Wow!” BK: All the wonderful bizarre moments: climbing down the side of a 240-foot building on a cargo net, pushing a Fred Flintstone wooden bike around cobblestone streets while wearing a feathered helmet and feathered gloves. And then having people help you, despite the fact that you’re clearly crazy. CCM: Run us through a typical day of shooting . . .
6 Comic-Con Magazine • Winter 2009
MY: What you see is very real. You wake up, hit the start line, and race. You have a camera crew and a sound guy following you around all day. Nothing is scripted. It’s as crazy and stress inducing as you think it would be. When you finish a leg, you rest up a bit, do some interviews, and get ready to do it again. BK: Running the race is pretty much just as you see on the show, though you don’t get to see the housekeeping part: us at the pit stop trying to wash and dry our clothes, eat, and then force ourselves to sleep because you have to be up in 12 hours to start the next leg of the race. CCM: Going into the season, you seemed to be one of the most popular teams when it came to how people responded to the promotion of the show. What kind of feedback did you get from the general public and your friends who knew you from Comic-Con? MY: People have been crazy supportive. All my friends knew how much I was into this, and they’ve been great, even supporting me after seeing me in red spandex on national TV. (That belt around the chest thing is going to catch on; when you see it at New York Fashion Week next year, remember who started it first.) I think people liked us on the show because we were so obviously having a great time. I’ve enjoyed meeting all the fans of the show, and talking with them because I’m a huge fan of the show. I think people can relate to our enthusiasm. I think there are more people like Bill and me who watch the show than any of the other classic show team archetypes. BK: The reaction has been so overwhelmingly positive. I’ve read some of the reality TV fan blogs, and I know that they can come up with some mean things to say, so I was afraid to read what people would say about
us. But it was all really, really nice; everyone who’s come up and asked if I was “one of those guys on The Amazing Race” has been very kind. I think a lot of folks relate to the two of us as “people like them.” Geeks are everywhere! CCM: If you had it to do all over again, what would you do differently? MY: Be in better shape. I had started working out when we thought we might make it, but I wish I had started out long before. Sure, the wrestling ring in La Paz was high, and some extra oxygen would’ve really been great, but if I had weighed 40 pounds less, that would have helped a lot more. Also, I would take even less stuff than we did, and we had the lightest packs on the show. Lastly, I would use the first U-Turn, no matter what. I’ve learned that lesson the hard way. BK: I’d take less stuff, but bring a slightly larger pack. Once in a while you are given a thing to take along with you, and not having any space can make that difficult. Ironically enough, I’d also slow down, just a little. I think there’s a certain panic that happens that makes racers feel that they have to constantly sprint around. A little less panic and a little more calm thinking would have helped us a lot in La Paz. Art created for Mark and Bill by Batton Lash. © 2009 Batton Lash.
CONnotations CCM: After you were eliminated, did you have a personal favorite you were rooting for and if so, why? MY: We really bonded with Terence and Sarah on the race. I was really pulling for them. I liked everyone on the race though, and getting to know all of them has been a real highlight of the experience. The other racers give me good-natured grief for being “Switzerland” and getting along with everyone. BK: Yep, Terence and Sarah were our favorites. We also saw just how tough Ken and Tina and Nick and Starr were; we knew they’d make it a long way. [Brother-sister team Nick and Starr won the race.] CCM: How has been on The Amazing Race changed your life? MY: Being on the race changed my life in very real tangible ways. I’ve lost a lot of weight, and I feel better. I’ve met people who I’ll be good friends with for the rest of my life. I’ve loved meeting all the fans of the show, and appreciate all the kindness and support they’ve shown us. I loved meeting all the production people, getting to know them, and watching them put on the race was incredible in and of itself. I’m more appreciative of the things I have in life, my wife, my family, my job, and even ComicCon. It’s easy to lose perspective, and take a lot of things for granted, and an experience like the race really brought that back into focus for me. BK: Running The Amazing Race was an incredible experience. It was everything one hopes a competition can be: rewarding, challenging, and fun. At the same time, it was this wonderful travel experience: we went to places we’d never been, did things that we’d never dreamed we’d ever do, and met literally hundreds of people who have really reinforced my belief that people everywhere are fundamentally good and decent human beings. And finally, we got to meet and compete with a great group of people. It’s going to be a hard thing to beat as life experiences go, but I have every intention of trying to . . . Comics and science fiction fans Mark and Bill each reveal “What I’m Reading” on pages 46 and 47! Photos: Robert Voets/CBS
Winter 2009 • Comic-Con Magazine 7
APE 2008 Brings Comics Joy to Rain-Soaked San Francisco Even torrential rains couldn’t keep Bay Area comics fans away from APE, the Alternative Press Expo, on the weekend of November 1–2, 2008, the first time the show has been held in the fall. Alternative and indy comics fans were treated to an amazing show filled with some of the very best in comics and do-it-yourself art and publishing. The main attraction at APE, held at the Concourse Exhibition Center in San Francisco, was a hall filled with over 300 exhibitors, including publishers such as SLG, Fantagraphics, Drawn and Quarterly, IDW, Oni Press, and Top Shelf, plus a massive gathering of self-publishers and artists. APE’s stellar special guest list included Jessica Abel (La Perdida), Paige Braddock (Jane’s World), Megan Kelso (The Squirrel Mother), Matt Madden (99 Ways to Tell a Story), Ethan Nicolle (Chumble Spuzz, courtesy of SLG Publishing), and Chris Ware (ACME Novelty Library). APE 2008 marked only the second appearance of Ware at an American comics convention (his first was Comic-Con International in 1998), and he debuted the latest yearly volume (#19) of the ACME Novelty Library at the Drawn and Quarterly tables. All of the special guests were featured in programming, including Abel and Madden talking about their latest collaboration, Drawing Words and Writing Pictures, a textbook about making comics. Additional programs featured “Comics at the Library,” the annual Queer Cartoonists panel, Bay Area cartoonists, alternative manga in Japan, and a look at one of the most eagerly awaited books of the year, Kramers Ergot #7 (published by Buenaventura Press), which debuted at APE. The Kramers panel featured Dan Clowes, Jaime Hernandez, Kevin Huizenga, and Chris Ware. Simpsons creator Matt Groening appeared at the show to sign the book at the Buenaventura table. In its 15th year, the Alternative Press Expo is still one of the largest shows in the country showcasing the creativity and passion of the comics community. APE 2009 is scheduled for October 17 and 18, once again at the Concourse Exhibition Center. 8 Comic-Con Magazine • Winter 2009
TOP: The busy APE Exhibit Hall ABOVE LEFT: Cartoonist Chris Ware made a rare U.S. convention appearance at APE 2008. ABOVE RIGHT: Simpsons creator Matt Groening signed Kramers Ergot #7 at APE. RIGHT: APE special guest Paige Braddock’s cartoonist monkey starred on the cover of this year’s Program Book.
Photos: Gary Sassaman; art © 2008 Paige Braddock
The WonderCon Interview
WHO WATCHES THE Director
does, as he brings the top-selling graphic novel of all time to vivid life on the big screen . . . 10 Comic-Con Magazine • Winter 2009
Zack Snyder photo by Clay Enos; Watchmen TM & © 2009 DC Comics
Cover Story In 2007, Zack Snyder became a household name with 300, his film based on Frank Miller’s graphic novel about the 300 Spartans. It was Snyder’s second film (his first was a remake of George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead), after a directing career that had started in commercials. For a follow-up to the hugely successful 300, Snyder signed on to direct Watchmen, based on the best-selling graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons (see page 15 for more on the original comic series). Snyder has made frequent appearances at Comic-Con over the past few years, including one in 2008 with a sneak peek at Watchmen, which resulted in the graphic novel selling out on the Exhibit Hall floor that weekend. We talked with him in early January about the film—and its subsequent DVD release—the actors, his career, and what’s next for him, post-Watchmen. CCM: You obviously have an affinity for comic books. Were you a big comic fan as a kid? Zack Snyder: I never thought of myself as one. I was a huge fan of the fantasy magazine Heavy Metal. That’s really where my love for illustrated storytelling came from. And my mother—when I was very young—had bought me a subscription to Heavy Metal when I was probably not too young to read it but too young to read it where it was probably legal or correct. But it sort of jaded me for normal comics for a little while, because I was like ‘why aren’t people having sex or dying in any of these other comics?’ [In 1986] When Dark Knight came out and when Watchmen came out I really said oh yeah . . . this is how it should be. Those comics made sense to me because my aesthetic was kind of already there. CCM: You went from being an awardwinning director of commercials right into feature films with Dawn of the Dead. Was it a difficult transition for you or was that where you wanted to be all along? ZS: You know, I always wanted to make movies. I thought that certainly was where I was going to go. It was hard. It’s hard when you take a big cut in pay when you make a movie in Hollywood for the first time. They pay you nothing compared to what you’d make as a commercial director. So that part
was difficult. We had to pare back our lifestyle a little bit to make the movie. But it was really what I wanted to do and I love zombies and I just thought it really was fun.
CCM: In the case of something like 300 and Watchmen you almost have a film that’s already been storyboarded for you. Does that make your job easier or more difficult?
CCM: 300 was a huge hit for you and now you’ve followed that up with another comics adaptation in Watchmen. What attracts you to these comic book properties?
ZS: In some ways I think that makes it more difficult. I like to think I have a pretty strong point of view. It’s really trying to take the images and own them and not be insecure in the sense that when a shot is drawn well and works you should use it. And when it’s graphic and when it means something, there’s no reason to reinvent something just for the sake of it. A lot of times—for me anyway, as a lover of graphic art and graphic storytelling—I feel like that opportunity to have these great geniuses like Frank Miller or Dave Gibbons drawing me frames to film—that’s a privilege. But I think the trick is just to weave it into your own shot-making and into this sort of visual file of a motion picture. That’s the trick you’ve got to arrive at in this linear world of storytelling that is a movie and be able to get to these graphic moments and have them make sense and work within the context of a movie.
ZS: You know, it’s weird. I never planned to go back to back with Frank Miller and Alan Moore and go nuts and be like the “comic book guy.” But maybe it’s just I’m compelled by the points of view of these people, who I would say are genius comic book artists. And I think that the material they produce is as viable as any piece of literature. So it makes sense to me that it went down like that. I mean when Watchmen was offered to me, my initial reaction was to say no because I knew how
“I NEVER PLANNED TO GO BACK TO BACK WITH FRANK MILLER AND ALAN MOORE AND BE LIKE THE ‘COMIC BOOK GUY.’” much of an epic it was and how difficult it would be. But on the other hand, once I came to grips with the fact that if I didn’t do it someone else would, I felt like I had to do it. And I guess that was sort of the “why” of two comic book movies in a row. But I’m happy and I always feel that comic book fans and fans of comic book movies—genre fans— they can hate a movie or love a movie more than anybody. I’m proud to have those people as my audience.
CCM: Do you think the fans of the original work are expecting a shot-by-shot reproduction of the comic? ZS: I think by this point they understand that it’s a movie, it’s a little over two and a half hours long. In order for it to be a shot-by-shot retelling, that’s kind of what the motion comic is about. That’s five and a half hours long, I think. So we certainly had to make some adjustments for the motion picture. But I think—I hope—fans will see that it’s pretty “Watchmen-ny.”
CCM: Watchmen is a huge sprawling epic that many people said couldn’t be filmed. What convinced you that it could be brought to the screen?
CCM: One of the great things about Watchmen is that it’s a self-contained 12issue story, kind of a world unto itself without hundreds of issues of continuity to trip over. Was that part of the thing that attracted you to it?
ZS: I don’t know. I certainly was humbled by the material and the concept of trying to film this giant epic. Maybe I hadn’t really been exposed to all the propaganda of it being unfilmable before I said yes. By the time it really dawned on me that it might be unfilmable, it was probably a little too late for me to say no.
ZS: Yeah, absolutely. I love that. From every aspect it’s self-contained: design, mythology, philosophy, history, all of it is its own, true to itself. It does comment on pop culture in our world, but it also is selfreflective within its own context, which I think is pretty awesome. And also it’s intellectually satisfying. Winter 2009 • Comic-Con Magazine 11
THE WONDERCON INTERVIEW: CCM: Part of that of course is the fact that it has a definite time period: it’s the 80s and Nixon is still president. How hard was it to convince people that that was a really important part of the story? ZS: It was kind of hard but it was a slow process. I kind of wore them down. I really wanted Nixon in the movie and I felt like he was cool context for where we were in the world. When I originally came on to the project, it was updated to the present day, so it was a little bit of an education for the studio for me to turn the clock back to 1985 and let them understand why that was cool and viable. CCM: Watchmen also contained a story within a story, “Tales of the Black Freighter.” Is that part of this film, or will we see it come out as something separate? ZS: It comes out on its own as an animated film that we did, and then you’ll see it in the Watchmen DVD release, which is sort of the “Absolute Watchmen movie,” which has the Black Freighter woven through it. CCM: So it’ll be edited into the actual movie on the DVD? ZS: Yes and we actually shot the ins and outs with the two Bernies at the newsstand for a lot of those sequences where he comes in and out of the graphic novel or in and out of the Black Freighter story into the Watchmen story. So we had to shoot these sequences that would make sense when you cut it into the movie. CCM: Will the Black Freighter DVD come out before Watchmen comes out or around the same time? ZS: It comes out right after. CCM: How important is that to you as part of the story? ZS: Under the Hood [the book written by the first Nite Owl, which originally appeared in the back of the Watchmen series] and Black Freighter are pretty important to me because I think that even though the conventional wisdom is if you’re making a 100-million-dollar R-rated movie that’s two and a
12 Comic-Con Magazine • Winter 2009
half hours long, it’s difficult to say let’s whack in 30 minutes of an animated movie that has nothing to do on the surface maybe with the story that I’m telling. Because conventional wisdom in Hollywood is all about story, story, story. Character is secondary a little bit, and this goes to character and texture. And I think that’s why I had to fight to get this version of the Black Freighter that I’ve been able to sort of get to. So it was really important to me. I think without fighting there would certainly be no Black Freighter. CCM: Under the Hood was the book by the original Nite Owl? ZS: Yeah. Hollis Mason wrote the original Under the Hood. And we’ve done this mock documentary about the release of the book in an interview with Hollis Mason 10 years after the release to talk about its impact on pop culture and where Hollis is now. And what we did is we just took a lot of the incidents from the book and we fictionalized them and had the actor Stephen McHattie, who plays him, ad lib or recite these passages from the book. That will appear also as an extra that will be on the DVD release of the Black Freighter when that comes out. It also has the documentary of Under the Hood on it. CCM: Would that be an extended version as opposed to what we see in the film? ZS: Well, two weeks after the movie comes out a DVD will be released with Under the Hood and Black Freighter on it. And then those two will also probably appear on as supplemental material on the “Absolute Watchmen” DVD version with Under the Hood cut into the movie. CCM: It sounds like you already have a lot of plans for the DVD release. How much of that is formulated so far in advance now? It seems like that’s almost as important as the theatrical release. ZS: Well, it is . . . I mean for me. I think that for directors you have to think about that potential of DVD—or Blu-Ray now—and the idea that people go to the movies but they also are able view at home many different versions of the film and that sort of expanded/extended material is a big deal. I guess I thought about the DVD from the beginning, in the sense that
I knew that the director’s cut of the movie is three hours long. The Under the Hood and the Black Freighter version is probably 3 hours and 20 minutes. So you really are talking about what I thought might be an unwieldy length for a theatrical release. I knew though that on DVD, fans of the theatrical version and/or the graphic novel would be able to enjoy the film in an even more expanded way. So I was planning for that from the beginning. CCM: How many of the actors actually knew what Watchmen was before they came on board? ZS: Jackie Earle Haley knew a lot about Watchmen and a lot about his character of Rorschach. When I met with Patrick Wilson I don’t know if he had read the book in advance, but he had read it at the point I met with him. And not only had he read it, but he must have read it three or four times, because he had an amazing grasp on Dan (Nite Owl II) and knew exactly what Dan was all about and had pinpointed these key moments so that when we talked about it, it made me feel really good about him playing the character. Billy Crudup also was pretty familiar with what Dr. Manhattan was going to be all about. I don’t know if any of them had had the book touch them as part of their life as it had done me and as it had done with so many fans. But I think the thing that they brought was that they were looking at it with fresh eyes and with this kind of exuberance of someone who has just discovered something rather then the sort of dogmatic, entrenched point of view of someone who has lived with it for so long. Which I think that this material has the ability to do. You can really get sort of bogged down in your point of view about the material a little bit, which is think is fine too. But yeah . . . now they’re all Watchmen aficionados as they say. CCM: When you were casting the film, what were you looking for in the actors? ZS: Some people blog about the fact that Patrick isn’t dumpy or fat enough or whatever [to play Dan Drieberg, Nite Owl II]. But Dave Gibbons [the co-creator and artist of Watchmen] and I talked about it, and if you look at the graphic novel, Dan’s still
Nite Owl II (Patrick Wilson), Silk Spectre II (Malin Ackerman), and Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley) face off against evil in Watchmen. drawn like a classic hero. He’s still got perfect features and everything. And then when he’s naked he’s got a little bit of a belly, but he’s still ripped; look at the drawings, you know? Patrick ate like a maniac and tried to fatten himself up for the role so he could have a little bit of a belly during the love scenes. I wanted someone who wouldn’t be afraid of the vulnerability that Dan has. These are the kind of things I wanted. [In the case of Rorschach I wanted] someone that I felt audiences could get totally behind because of his coolness but then sort of have to second guess themselves sometimes in regard to his politics and points of view. I loved that everyone loved Rorschach and I love him, too, but at the same time when you actually get at his true philosophy, he’s pretty extreme. It’s kind of a classic superhero. I think Alan Moore was doing it on purpose to make you say, “Oh, that’s the cool guy, I like him.” And then you find that he basically has a bunch of political views or his ideas about justice that you maybe don’t agree. But you find yourself rooting for him anyway. But [Moore] does that with every character I think in some way. CCM: Let’s talk about the six main characters and what each of the actors brings to his or her role. Let’s start with Jeffrey Dean Morgan as The Comedian.
Photo courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures; TM & © 2009 DC Comics
ZS: You know it’s hard in Hollywood to find a man’s man. Someone who’s tough but he’s got to be likable. For all of his horribleness, The Comedian’s got to be a guy just like Rorschach: you got to find yourself wishing he would like you. You know if you were in the room with him, you’d want The Comedian to go, “Hey, you’re all right, kid.” And that’s the thing that I think that Jeffrey brought. He brought that tough guy kind of man’s man, but the charisma and charm of his smile sort of makes him the perfect Comedian. CCM: Patrick Wilson as Nite Owl. ZS: He’s vulnerable, he’s handsome, you believe him when he’s Nite Owl, when he’s in the suit or in the Owl chamber. But also when he’s got his glasses on and he’s sort of shuffling around the chamber with Rorschach— before he’s put on his costume—you totally buy that he’s retired and kind of broken. CCM: Billy Crudup as Dr. Manhattan. ZS: Billy’s just an amazing actor and I was asking a lot of him to have to embody this god on Earth. Billy was able to get at those tiny little glimpses of humanity that are still left inside of Manhattan, and I thought that makes all the difference. CCM: Do you think that was a more difficult role because of the special effects involved?
ZS: Absolutely. I think technically it was difficult because he’s an abstract character anyway. Maybe it’s a benefit, maybe it’s not, but he completely has to play it in an abstract way. It’s really interesting. CCM: Matthew Goode as Ozymandias. ZS: The thing that was amazing about Matthew and the thing that I really love about him is he has this sort of quality, but in the end it goes back to whether Ozymandias is right. If you’re a fan of the graphic novel, you know what that means. And with the character’s arrogance and with his sort of perfect human persona, I think that the cool thing about Matthew was that he was able to embrace the Superman qualities that Ozy has. And his arrogance sort of makes you feel like he’s slightly wrong, but then with calm logic, he makes you understand that he’s right. Patrick had that balance between arrogance and logic that I felt really made him an awesome Ozy. CCM: Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach. ZS: Well, Jackie is amazing. All I can say about Jackie is he is Rorschach. Physically he’s Rorschach, and he was able to go to an emotional place that I think of as Rorschachian, if that’s a way of describing someone as anyone I could imagine.
Winter 2009 • Comic-Con Magazine 13
THE WONDERCON INTERVIEW: CCM: The great thing about Haley is for the last 20 years nobody’s really heard from him, and then all of a sudden he’s back. You know he was such a sensation in Bad News Bears when he was a kid and then he was great in Little Children. ZS: Yeah he’s just out there. He did this amazing audition where he shot a little scene from the movie with his friend, and I was just like, that’s it. There’s no one else I’m going to hire. This is ridiculous. CCM: Malin Akerman as Silk Spectre. ZS: We auditioned a lot of actresses, and I just felt like Malin had it. The thing that’s cool about Laurie [Juspeczyk] is that she is following the family business. She’s second-generation superhero and so she doesn’t have a secret identity. She is a born superhero, born into the trade. And when Malin and I would talk about it, the thing that she brought was that, even though Laurie is young, she’s tired. She has an old soul quality about her that I thought made Laurie right. Malin had to play that there was something dark in her past and even she didn’t know about it, and I felt like that was always there. And she’s beautiful.
CCM: The next one is called Sucker Punch. ZS: Sucker Punch is what I’m doing next. It’s an original story that I wrote that I’m trying to get together to shoot this summer. CCM: And is that live action? ZS: Live action, absolutely. Live action, crazy action movie. CCM: Untitled 300 sequel. ZS: Yeah, I don’t know. Frank Miller is supposedly writing a comic book sequel to 300 and we’ll see what that’s like and then maybe we’ll make a movie.
CCM: Internet Movie Database lists seven upcoming films you’re involved with over the next three years. Let’s start with Guardians of Ga’Hoole. ZS: Guardians of Ga’Hoole I’m working on right now. It’s a 3D, CGI animated owl film that we’re doing out of Australia with Animal Logic, which is the animation studio that did Happy Feet and who worked with me on 300. I work on it every day. So that’s definitely happening since it’s almost halfway done. 14 Comic-Con Magazine • Winter 2009
CCM: And then finally Cobalt 60 by Vaughn Bodé. ZS: I’m a big Cobalt 60 fan and we’ve been working with Mark [Bodé, Vaughn’s son] and just trying to get a script together that we think is cool. But that’s a little ways off. CCM: Are there any other comic book series or graphic novels that you’d be interested in adapting? ZS: Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns is my favorite comic book of all time. But I don’t think anyone any time soon wants me doing a Batman movie that’s got nothing to do with Batman movies that exist already. But that’s about the only other one that’s out there that I would really go “Yeah . . . I’d love to get my hands on that.” CCM: You’ve been to Comic-Con three times and WonderCon once. How important are these kind of events when it comes to promoting your films?
CCM: Finally, not an actor, but the cocreator of Watchmen, Dave Gibbons. ZS: Dave has been [on board] from the first draft of the script that I was happy with. I sent it to him immediately. I got his input and talked to him on the phone a lot. He came up to the set, and if I needed some stuff he would draw me up some frames. He’s just been really what I would call the conscience of Watchmen, someone who I’ve been able to go to to check my ideas and see if they’re working.
ZS: Heavy Metal, yeah. I’ve had a meeting with those guys and we’ll see how that goes.
DAVE GIBBONS: “HE’S JUST BEEN REALLY WHAT I WOULD CALL THE CONSCIENCE OF WATCHMEN . . .”
ZS: Super important. When you’re in a room with 6,000 people that all love Watchmen it’s pretty powerful and awesome. And when you can show them some footage that I think pricks the hair on the back of their necks, that’s where that happens. Regardless of how it works as far as the box office or blogging or fandom or if it generates anything for a movie, that’s whatever. For me it’s all about finding like-minded people and showing them something cool and having them go, “That’s awesome!” That’s really what it’s about for me.
CCM: The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury. ZS: Illustrated Man is a project that the studio brought me. I’m a big Ray Bradbury fan, so we’ve got a script I think that’s pretty awesome. We showed it to Ray and he seems to like it. We’re still developing that, though. CCM: The Last Photograph. ZS: Last Photograph is a thing that we’re developing with Sergei Bodrov, who did Mongol. CCM: The next one is Heavy Metal.
WONDERCON Join us at WonderCon 2009 for an exclusive Watchmen panel with Zack Snyder! WonderCon is Feb. 27—March 1 at Moscone Center South in San Francisco. For complete information on WonderCon, turn to page 17 or visit www.comic-con.org! Photo: Tina Gill
Comics History 101 1986 was a watershed year in the history of comics. Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’s Watchmen debuted that year, and it went on to become one of the most critically acclaimed graphic novels of all time, recognized not only in the comics world but also as a mainstream literary masterpiece. Time magazine included it on its 2005 list of the 100-best English language novels from 1923 to the present, the only comics work to be featured on the list. But 1986 is also famous for the first volume of Art Spiegelman’s Maus (My Father Bleeds History), the cartoonist’s devastating account of his parents’ time in a concentration camp during World War II, and Frank Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, a groundbreaking revisionist look at the Caped Crusader in the not so distant future. Inked by Klaus Janson and colored by Lynn Varley, Dark Knight helped set the tone not only for Batman’s next 20+ years in comics but also for the movies, starting with Tim Burton’s Batman in 1989 and continuing with Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins in 2005. But it’s Watchmen, created by Moore and Gibbons (and colored by John Higgins), that’s gone on to become one of the most popular graphic novels ever. It started life as a 12-issue “maxi series” for DC Comics. It was first published in the traditional monthly comic book format (32 pages) in 1986 and 1987. Moore, a British comics writer, had recently started working for DC on Swamp Thing, creating stories that quickly garnered him critical acclaim within the industry. DC was eager to have him work on something else, and Moore himself was eager to work again with artist Dave Gibbons, with whom he had collaborated in the UK on titles such as 2000 AD. Originally hoping to use an existing comic book superhero universe (the MLJ “Mighty Crusaders” characters—The Fly, Shield, Black Hood—were the initial prototypes for Moore), Moore eventually pitched characters from Charlton Comics as the heroes in his new series, as DC managing editor Dick Giordano had just purchased the rights to publish their stable of “Action Heroes,” including Captain Atom, Blue Beetle, and The Question. But Giordano had other plans for those comic book icons, and Moore ended 15 Comic-Con Magazine • Winter 2009
up—along with Gibbons—creating his own superhero universe “from the ground up.” Watchmen depicts a world in which superheroes have been all but outlawed. The leading heroes of the time, Night Owl, Ozymandias, Silk Spectre, and the vigilante Rorschach, are all retired, while governmentsanctioned agents such as The Comedian and the enigmatic Doctor Manhattan still operate. In this alternate history, Richard Nixon is president, the United States is on the brink of war with Russia, and the entire nation seems to be falling apart. As the book begins, someone has killed The Comedian, causing the Watchmen to come out of retirement to find his killer, while the doomsday clock ticks closer and closer to Armageddon. Equal parts science fiction and mystery, Watchmen showed the grim and gritty reality of how superheroes would fare in our everyday world. Powered by an incredibly intricate plot revolving around multiple characters, each with his or her own complicated back story, plus a secondary plot involving an old comic book about pirates (Tales of the Black Freighter), Watchmen turned out to be the comic book series hardcore comics fans had been waiting for all their lives. Gibbons’s groundbreaking art, in which the cover of each issue served as the first panel of each story, brought Dave solidly into the ranks of comic book artist superstardom. After the publication of the original 12issue series, Watchmen found new life in collected form, in what was suddenly being heralded as a “graphic novel.” Watchmen has remained in print since 1987, with a special limited edition published by Graphitti Designs that very first year. In 2005, the art was recolored under the supervision of original colorist John Higgins for DC’s Absolute Watchmen, in a high-end format that showcases the series in a stunning slip-cased, hardbound edition with extra material (hence the “Absolute” name). That version of the coloring has been the basis for a new hardcover published in the fall of 2008 and a new international edition of the trade paperback, both with new cover art by Gibbons. At Comic-Con in 2008, Watchmen sold out across the
giant Exhibit Hall floor on a surge of interest inspired by the release of the first trailer for the movie directed by Zack Snyder. Plans for a film have been gestating for years, including a version helmed by director Paul Greengrass (the Bourne movies). Snyder’s adaptation comes on the heels of his fan-favorite film of another incredibly popular graphic novel, Frank Miller’s 300. Moore is not involved with the film, but artist Dave Gibbons is, serving as consultant and bringing out his own art book, Watching the Watchmen, containing sketches, concept art, and thumbnails that he wisely saved since the late 1980s. With reportedly over one million copies in print, Watchmen remains the one comic book you can give to that non-comics fan in your life. It’s almost guaranteed to win him or her over. As the film is poised for its premiere, Watchmen stands ready to finally answer the question first voiced in its promotional ads over 20 years ago: “Who watches the Watchmen?” The answer is simple: we all do.
Watchmen TM & © 2009 DC Comics
Ready to Roll in San Francisco! WonderCon returns to Moscone Center South on Februrary 27 through March 1 for another three-day, history-making event. With an attendance of over 29,000 last year, the second largest comics convention on the West Coast (after Comic-Con International) experienced its biggest ever leap in attendance. Like its big sister show to the south, WonderCon combines the worlds of comics and the popular arts to offer a lively and exciting mix of shopping and stargazing. Here’s your chance to meet some of your favorite comics writers and artists and see Hollywood stars up close! As always, WonderCon features a giant Exhibit Hall, where companies and vendors from around the country display and sell some of the coolest pop culture loot ever: comics, original art, movie posters, DVDs, anime, toys, action figures, books, videogames . . . you name it, it’s probably in there! WonderCon also has an amazing Artists’ Alley, with some of the best creators in the comics biz, as well as hundreds of top professionals in addition to the special guests. Visit www.comic-con.org/wc/wc_exhib. shtml for a complete list of exhibitors. The Autograph Area includes some of your favorite stars of movies and TV. Your membership also gets you into programs and events held at the convention, but remember: seating is limited and on a first-come, firstserved basis. If you spot a panel or event that is a must-see for you, get there early— seating is limited at all events. In some instances, rooms may be closed due to Fire Marshal regulations, and if that occurs, even your badge won’t get you into the room.
Comics Rule at WonderCon! WonderCon remains true to its comic book roots with an amazing guest list featuring writers and artists from all aspects of the comics world (see the guest list on pages 20–21). In addition, the WonderCon Exhibit Hall includes some of the biggest Photo: Tom Deleon
and best publishers in the country, including DC Comics, Dark Horse, Image, Top Cow, Aspen, IDW, Oni Press, Boom! Studios, SLG Publishing, and more. While the programming schedule is still in the planning stages as of press time, you can expect publisher presentations, special guest spotlights, and much more. Currently scheduled for comics-oriented programs are all the abovementioned companies, plus—for the first time in many years—Marvel Comics will also present panels at WonderCon! In addition, all of the special guests will appear in “spotlight” panels and on additional panels. The Comics Arts Conference returns for its third big year at WonderCon, too (see page 22 for complete details). In short, WonderCon is a comic book lover’s dream come true!
Major Movie Studio and Television Network Programs In addition to the big West Coast premiere of the new DC Universe feature Wonder Woman (see the next page for details), you can count on an impressive list of studio and TV show programs at WonderCon. Saturday will see a huge schedule of movie-oriented events from the major studios (including Lucasfilm), and Sunday will once again be devoted to some of your favorite TV shows! Plus as a bonus on Sunday afternoon, WonderCon presents one
of Comic-Con 2008’s most popular events: The Buffy Musical, featuring an officially sanctioned screening of the popular episode “Once More with Feeling!” It’s the perfect end to the magical WonderCon weekend! As always, the place to go for updated information as we get closer to the event, including the complete schedule of WonderCon programs, is www.comic-con.org. Bookmark that site for frequent updates!
Anime and Gaming Round Out the Weekend! As usual, WonderCon will have a special anime room to host screenings for the run of the convention. Featuring fan-favorite classic anime, hot new titles, and maybe a premiere or two, the schedule will be available online before the event. WonderCon also has a special gaming area where you can sit and rest a spell while you’re casting some spells with your favorite games. The fun part of gaming at WonderCon is meeting new friends and learning new games in a relaxed atmosphere. The wonderful world of videogames is represented at WonderCon with major exhibitors Capcom, EA, Nintendo, and Telltale Games. Check www.comic-con. org and the onsite Program Book for complete anime and games schedules. Winter 2009 • Comic-Con Magazine 17
WonderCon 2009 WonderCon’s Big Friday Night Event: Wonder Woman West Coast Premiere! It’s the fourth in the series of DC Universe original animated movies. Following the world premiere of Justice League: The New Frontier at WonderCon in 2008, DC Comics and WB Animation return with their brand new movie featuring the Amazonian Princess, Wonder Woman! Producer Bruce Timm, director Lauren Montgomery, writer Michael Jelinic, voice director Andrea Romano, and DC’s senior VP of creative affairs Gregory Noveck take the WonderCon big stage to show their new film and answer questions. Plus, you can expect a few “vocal” surprise guests, and—exclusive to WonderCon only—a sneak peek at the next DC Universe animated project, featuring a certain very popular . . . shall we say “ecofriendly and illuminating” comics character! Then hang around after Wonder Woman for our exclusive annual foray into the world of Star Wars Fan Films, brought to WonderCon by Lucasfilm!
WonderCon’s Big Saturday Night Event: The Masquerade! WonderCon’s Masquerade has grown into one of the Bay Area’s most notable costume competitions. In front of an audience that last year numbered over 1,700 people, participants take their turns on the stage,
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showcasing their costumes to compete for trophies and other awards, as well as simply for the fun of it. Whatever genre your costuming niche—re-creations from the latest science fiction or fantasy film, your favorite comic book, classic fine art, video games, anime, history, or original designs from your imagination—this competition gives you an opportunity to shine. This year’s Masquerade will be Saturday evening, starting at 8:30, in Moscone Center South’s Esplanade Ballroom. The Master of Ceremonies will be two-time Hugo Award–winning writer/artist Phil Foglio of Studio Foglio. Participating in the show or watching from the audience is free with your WonderCon membership. Trophies will be awarded in a number of categories, including humor, workmanship, accuracy of re-creation, original design, best novice, and others. Among the prizes donated by participating companies will be: • Special Star Wars collectibles from the Lucasfilm Archives for the best recreations from the Star Wars universe. • $100 cash for the best Art Nouveau or fantasy-inspired entry, from the fine art company Century Guild. • A very special DC Direct collectible for the best re-creation of a DC Comics character or characters. • $250 cash from Studio Foglio for the best entry inspired by the Steam Punk genre of fantasy, comics, and speculative fiction. Complete information, plus an entry form, can be downloaded from the Masquerade section of the WonderCon website (www. comic-con.org/wc/wc_masq.shtml), or you can e-mail the Masquerade Coordinator at email@example.com and request a form. Sign-ups will also be accepted at the convention, but only until 2:00 pm on Saturday or until all spots become filled, so we recommend reserving a spot ahead of time. No flash photography is allowed at the show itself, but a reserved photo area will be available outside of the ballroom. Photographers wishing a saved spot should drop a line to the coordinator before the convention. As the Masquerade grows each year, it is always in need of more volunteers behind the scenes. If you have any theatrical or masquerade experience and would enjoy helping out backstage, contact the coordinator and you can be a part of an event that Photo by Tom Deleon; Wonder Woman TM & © 2009 DC Comics
always offers fun, surprises, spectacle, and of course lots of amazing costumes.
Wonder Con Presents the San Francisco Bay Area International Children’s Film Festival The San Francisco Bay Area International Children’s Film Festival is back for its third big year at WonderCon, offering a full slate of films geared toward children of all ages. The Festival takes place in a separate dedicated room on the mezzanine level of Moscone Center South, and runs all three days of WonderCon, during regular show hours—and it’s all free as part of your WonderCon membership. The goal of the Festival is to introduce children to new cultures and creative filmmaking, and teaching them to appreciate film as an art form. Check out this fun-filled bonus that’s perfect for the entire family, showcasing films from around the world made for children and teens!
FEBRUARY 27—MARCH 1 MOSCONE CENTER SOUTH • SAN FRANCISCO WonderCon Robert A. Heinlein Memorial Blood Drive Also returning for its third year is the WonderCon Robert A. Heinlein Blood Drive. WonderCon is pleased to be working with The Heinlein Society and the Blood Centers of the Pacific to help in their ongoing efforts to collect the gift of life. Named in memory of the legendary science fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein, author of Starship Troopers and Stranger in a Strange Land, the Blood Drive has also been an important part of the San Diego Comic-Con for over 30 years. This year’s event at WonderCon will take place on Friday and Saturday, February 27 and 28. Check onsite for the location to donate blood.
WONDERCON 2009 Dates and Hours:
Friday, February 27: 12:00 – 7:00 PM Saturday, February 28: 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM Sunday, March 1: 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM (Additional programming hours on Friday and Saturday nights. Wonder Woman West Coast Premiere and Star Wars Fan Film Awards screenings: Friday night, time TBA, Esplanade Ballroom; WonderCon Masquerade: Saturday night 8:30, Esplanade Ballroom.)
Moscone Center South 747 Howard Street, San Francisco, CA 94103
Volunteering for WonderCon is a great way to meet fellow fans and get a free one-day membership pass for the day you volunteer. Volunteers must be at least 16 years old, but no specific skills are needed. Best of all, you can register online! Visit www.comic-con. org/wc/wc_vol.shtml for more information and click on the link at the top of the page to register. The deadline for pre-registration is February 16, but we do accept volunteers onsite, so come to WonderCon and volunteer!
• Adult 3-Day: $30.00 Advance/$40.00 Onsite
Stay Updated with the Latest WonderCon News!
SAVE MONEY! Advance DISCOUNT memberships available online at: www.comic-con.org/wc/wc_reg.shtml or at select Bay Area comics shops.
Check www.comic-con.org/wc for complete up-to-the-minute details on WonderCon, including the programming schedule and much, much more. Sign up for our RSS feed and get notified each time the site is updated! And onsite at WonderCon, consult your Program Book for times, locations, maps, and complete info on making the most of your WonderCon visit. We look forward to seeing you at WonderCon 2009!
• Junior/Senior 3-Day: $15.00 Advance/$20.00 Onsite • Adult 1-Day (Fri./Sat. Only): $12.00 Advance/$15.00 Onsite • Junior/Senior 1-Day (Fri./Sat. Only): $6.00 Advance/$8.00 Onsite • Adult Sunday: $10.00 Advance & Onsite • Adult Junior/Senior Sunday: $5.00 Advance & Onsite Children 11 and under free with adult paid membership. Junior: 12-17; Senior: 60+
Visit www.comic-con.org/wc/wc_stores.shtml for a complete list. Headquarters Hotel:
San Francisco Marriott 55 Fourth Street, San Francisco, CA 94103 Reservations: www.comic-con.org/wc/wc_hotel.shtml Or call Travel Planners: 1-800-221-3531 (Mon.-Fri.: 9:00 am —7:00 pm ET) Mention WonderCon 2009 for the special convention room rate! • Single or Double: $169/night • Triple: $189/night • Quad: $209/night Reservations must be received no later than February 9, 2009 for best selection, though reservations will be accepted, based on availability, until show date. Winter 2009 • Comic-Con Magazine 19
WonderCon 2009 Special Guests
MAD magazine’s longest-running cartoonist and the creator of that popular dim-witted barbarian Groo, Sergio Aragonés is one of WonderCon’s most popular guests. Sergio recently helped revive the DC Western hero Bat Lash in a miniseries, and he continues to write Will Eisner’s The Spirit with frequent collaborator and fellow WonderCon guest Mark Evanier.
Writer, 100 Bullets, Joker, Loveless
Cartoonist, MAD, Groo
ED BRUBAKER Writer, Captain America, Daredevil, Incognito
MATT FRACTION Writer, Invincible Iron Man, Uncanny X-Men
DAVE JOHNSON Artist, 100 Bullets covers 20 Comic-Con Magazine • Winter 2009
Ed Brubaker is one of the most acclaimed writers currently working in comics. His work at DC includes Gotham Central, Batman, Sleeper, and Catwoman, and at Marvel, Uncanny X-Men, Daredevil, and Captain America. Brubaker also writes the creator-owned Criminal and Incognito, both drawn and co-created by Sean Phillips. Brubaker has won the Eisner Award for Best Writer the past two years in a row, and Criminal won for Best New Series in 2007. Matt Fraction writes Casanova for Image and Uncanny X-Men and The Invincible Iron Man for Marvel. He’s written the graphic novels The Five Fists of Science and Last of The Independents. His other comics work includes a Sensational SpiderMan annual and The Immortal Iron Fist (with Ed Brubaker), and more. He lives in Kansas City with his wife, the writer Kelly Sue DeConnick, his son Henry, two jerky dogs, and two jerky cats. And some fish. But that’s it. Dave Johnson’s stunning cover art for titles such as Detective Comics and 100 Bullets earned him the 2002 Eisner Award for Best Cover Artist. Johnson’s graphic treatments have graced the covers of 100 Bullets since the beginning of the series, which ends in February 2009. In addition, he worked on the critically acclaimed DC Elseworlds miniseries Superman: Red Son, which was nominated for a 2004 Eisner Award for Best Limited Series. .
MARK EVANIER Writer, Groo, Kirby: King of Comics
Writer, Sgt. Fury, Ghost Rider
Brian Azzarello is the Eisner Award–winning author of 100 Bullets, Loveless, Batman: Broken City, Superman: For Tomorrow vols. 1–2, and, most recently, the highly successful graphic novel Joker. Brian also contributed a story and screenplay called “Working Through Pain” to 2008’s Gotham Knight animated DVD. Azzarello and Argentine artist Eduardo Risso recently finished their 100-issue, 10year collaboration on 100 Bullets. Coming off a big year with his Jack Kirby biography, Kirby: King of Comics, being a smash hit, writer Mark Evanier also co-writes The Spirit with Sergio Aragonés for DC Comics and blogs on a daily basis at his famous online outpost newsfromme.com. Mark will be drawing on his vast knowledge of comics history for the many panels he’s sure to be moderating at WonderCon.
Known best for his incredible Sgt. Fury stories for Marvel Comics in the ’60s and ’70s, writer Gary Friedrich tapped into the rising surge of negative sentiment toward the Vietnam War when he penned a series of anti-war war comics classics. During that era he did double duty, writing both superhero and horror comics at Marvel, including Incredible Hulk, Captain America, Monster of Frankenstein, and his co-creation, Ghost Rider.
Acclaimed comic book illustrator Jim Lee is the creative director of WildStorm Studios (which he founded in 1992) and the penciller for many of DC Comics’ bestselling comic books and graphic novels, including All Star Batman and Robin, The Boy Wonder, “Batman: Hush,” and “Superman: For Tomorrow.” He also serves as the JIM executive creative director for the LEE upcoming DC Universe Online Artist, All Star Batman & videogame.
Robin the Boy Wonder
FEBRUARY 27—MARCH 1 MOSCONE CENTER SOUTH • SAN FRANCISCO
Teaming up with writer Gail Simone to illustrate Wonder Woman, artist Aaron Lopresti brings new life to one of DC’s signature characters. Lopresti’s 15-year career in comics has included popular stints on such titles as Ms. Marvel, New X-Men, and Incredible Hulk for Marvel Comics.
Artist, Wonder Woman
TRINA ROBBINS Writer/cartoonist/ comics herstorian
JAMES ROBINSON Writer, Superman, Starman, Justice League
Writer/editor, Conan, Avengers, Alter Ego
2008 marked the 30th anniversary of Elfquest, one of comics’ most popular self-published titles. Over the years Wendy and Richard Pini’s seminal title has been published by Warp Graphics (the Pinis’ own company), Marvel, and DC. Pini’s fluid art and vivid characterizations of the Wolfriders have made Elfquest a continuing fan-favorite for over 30 years.
Herstorian and writer Trina Robbins has been writing graphic novels, comics, and books for over 30 years. Her subjects have ranged from Wonder Woman and the Powerpuff Girls to her own teenage superheroine, GoGirl!, and from women cartoonists and superheroines to women who kill. Trina’s newest book is The Brinkley Girls, collecting the work of early 20th century cartoonist Nell Brinkley (Fantagraphics), and 2009 will see the publication of her new history of superheroines. James Robinson is a modest, softspoken fellow with a firm handshake and deep, soothing azure eyes. When not touring Argentina with his troupe of avant-garde tango dancers, James spends his time seducing octogenarian women and writing comics. These comic works include Starman, Leave It to Chance, Legends of the Dark Knight, and Superman. Octogenarian women seduced include Millicent Lipshitz of Encino, CA and Camilla DeRossi of Irvine, CA, neither of whom survived the encounter. Roy Thomas is best known for writing and editing on Conan, Avengers, X-Men, and just about every other Marvel title. Over at DC, his work included All Star Squadron and Infinity, Inc. Having started out as a fan, noted for editing the popular 1960s fanzine Alter Ego, Thomas has gone full circle and currently edits the TwoMorrows magazine Alter Ego, dedicated to the Golden and Silver Ages of comics. His current work includes a series of literary adaptations for Marvel.
Trina Robbins photo: Dale Wilheim; Roy Thomas photo: Alan Waite
The popular graphic novel writer/ artist comes to WonderCon as a first time guest. Eisner Award–winner Alex Robinson burst on the scene with Box Office Poison, first serialized in comic book form and then collected in a phone-book-sized graphic novel by Top Shelf. He’s since produced two more original graphic novels, Tricked, and his latest, Too Cool to Be Forgotten.
Writer/artist, BOP, Too Cool to Be Forgotten
The rabbit samurai Usagi Yojimbo celebrates his 25th anniversary in 2009, and creator Stan Sakai is at WonderCon to help celebrate the occasion! Sakai’s been telling the tales of his hero since 1984, all the while aiding and abetting his friends Sergio Aragonés and Mark Evanier as Groo the Wanderer’s letterer. Sakai is a three-time Eisner Award winner.
Writer/artist, Usagi Yojimbo
JILL THOMPSON Artist, The Sandman, Scary Godmother
Jill Thompson is the creator and illustrator of Scary Godmother and Magic Trixie. She has collaborated over the years as an artist with many writers on such titles as Wonder Woman, The Sandman, The Invisible, Finals, The Dark Horse Book of Hauntings, Tales from Wrescal Lane, and more. She’s also responsible for The Little Endless Storybook and the manga style digests Death: At Death’s Door and The Dead Boy Detectives. Winter 2009 • Comic-Con Magazine 21
The CAC Report
Randy Duncan AND Kate McClancy
Another Great Comics Arts Conference at WonderCon! “The Humanization of Weisinger’s Legion of Superfluity,” “Sequential Signs: Comic Art in the Gallery,” “The Feministas of Justice”—do these titles seem a bit high falutin’ for a comic book convention? Well, they’re the titles of a few of the presentations slated for the Comics Arts Conference, a full-fledged academic conference that takes place each year at both WonderCon and Comic-Con International: San Diego. Founded in 1992 by Dr. Randy Duncan—of Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas—and Dr. Peter Coogan—who teaches at Washington University in St. Louis—the Comics Arts Conference brings scholars and professionals together to talk about comics with the public by breaking out of the ivory tower and holding sessions during two of the nation’s most influential comic book shows. This year marks the CAC’s 17th annual conference at Comic-Con International and its third at WonderCon. Headlining this year’s CAC presentation at WonderCon is the legendary cartoonist and San Francisco native Trina Robbins, a special guest at the convention. Robbins will be presenting “Nell Brinkley and The Brinkley Girls,” a talk on Jazz Age cartoonist and illustrator Nell Brinkley, whose glamorous, curly haired “Brinkley Girls” were a household name in the early 20th century when Brinkley was “The Queen of Comics.” Robbins’ talk is drawn from her Fantagraphics book The Brinkley Girls, published in January, and Robbins will be signing copies after her talk. Comics have been moving into the classroom and gaining ever-greater acceptance at educational institutions. This acceptance is reflected in two CAC presentations. The first is “Cross-Curricular Comics: Applying Comics in the K–8 Classroom” a workshop by middle-school teacher Liz Vizcarra 22 Comic-Con Magazine • Winter 2009
that demonstrates the application of comics in the K-8 environment to meet California standards. A professional development certificate is available for teachers who attend this session. The second is from CAC co-chair Randy Duncan on his new comics studies textbook, The Power of Comics: History, Form and Culture, to be published in April by Continuum Books. As the first textbook on comics and graphic novels aimed at undergraduates, The Power of Comics is an exciting breakthrough in the cultural legitimization of the comics medium, and the CAC offers a first look at this important work. Besides the classroom, comics have broken into the museum, and the CAC does as well, in a pair of talks. Fine arts scholar Kim Munson explores the importance of comics to contemporary visual culture and the central role of the 2005 Masters of Comic Art exhibit in breaking comics out of the art world’s high/low debate. CAC co-chair Peter Coogan presents “Superhero Science 101,” a talk originally given in conjunction with the Marvel Comics Super-Hero Science exhibition at the St. Louis Science Center. Dr. Coogan explains the science-fictional laws that operate in superhero universes, including why Bruce Banner’s pants stretch so much and what we in the real world can learn from such “rubber science.” Need to bone up on your superhero history? The fifties, sixties, and seventies get a thoroughgoing review in a matched set of three presentations. California State University librarian Douglas Highsmith and University of California librarian Chuck Huber examine the superhero comics “between the Flashes” from the last appearance of the Golden Age Flash in 1950 to the first of the Silver Age Flash in 1956—yes, there were superhero comics in the early fifties! Moving on to the 1960s, independent scholar Jeff Barbanell peers through his timescope
to find the first “Marvelization” of a DC series in Jim Shooter’s Legion of SuperHeroes run and his infusion of his comic book narratives with the Lee and Kirby techniques of group dynamics, hyperrealism, and cosmic context. Finally, the “ink-stained Amazon” Jennifer K. Stuller attempts to resolve the conundrum of the “feministas of justice,” the superwomen of the 1970s such as Valkyrie, Diana Prince, Ms. Marvel, and Lois Lane, who presented a superficial image of feminism but continue to serve as symbols of female empowerment in the cultural imagination. But like the world of comics, the CAC is more than superheroes. CAC presenters take on social issues that resonant with today’s headlines. Indian cartoonist Gokul Gopalakrishnan (aka Gokul TG), who is a fellow of the Centre for Performance Research and Cultural Studies in South Asia, investigates the cunning exploitation of the misconception of comic strips as “harmless fun” to enable cartoonists to sidestep censorship, focusing on O. V. Vijayan’s Malayalam comic strip Ithiri Neramboku, Ithiri Darshanam (“Bit of Trifle, Bit of Philosophy”) during the 1975– 1977 State of National Emergency in India. Diana Green of the Minneapolis College of Art & Design unearths the GLBT in EC Comics and the play of these stories in the burgeoning, shifting acceptance of gay culture that began in the 1950s. And Trevor Strunk, graduate student at New York University, takes on the topic of hybrid cultures as they are expressed in Jaime Hernandez’s Love and Rockets output. With the Comics Arts Conference, WonderCon offers attendees a unique chance to dig into comics’ past and present and give their brains a workout while in the midst of one the country’s great comic book conventions.
The Comic-Con Interview
Black &White & A dual discussion with the creators of
Comic-Con has a long tradition of inviting creative talent from the world of comic strips. Dating back almost 40 years, such world-renowned cartoonists as Charles M. Schulz (Peanuts), Milton Caniff (Steve Canyon), Dale Messick (Brenda Starr), Russ Manning (Tarzan), Hank Ketcham (Dennis the Menace), and many more have been guests. In recent years, contemporary cartoonists such as Lalo Alcarez (La Cucaracha) Patrick McDonnell (Mutts), and Greg Evans (Luann) have been special guests, along with last year’s slate of editorial cartoonists, Steve Breen, Mike Peters, and Signe Wilkinson. This year we welcome syndicated strip legend Leonard Starr (Mary Perkins On Stage, Annie) to the show along with our interview subjects, Stephan Pastis (Pearls Before Swine) and Richard Thompson (Cul De Sac). Pastis started Pearls as a syndicated strip in late 2001. The daily and Sunday strips center around Rat, Pig, Zebra, and Goat, four characters who act all too humanlike at times. Thompson’s Cul De Sac started in early 2007 and stars Alice and Petey Otterloop, two youngsters living near Washington, DC, who act all too adult-like at times. Both cartoonists and their strips have garnered critical and fan acclaim. Best of all, the two are friends with an obvious admiration for each other’s creations. They consented to a joint interview, somewhat of a first for guests in these pages.
CCM: Let’s start with your backgrounds. Were you both comics-loving kids? Richard Thompson: Oh yeah, very much so. I grew up around Washington, DC and we took two papers for a long time. We took the Star and the Post when I was a kid and we eventually dropped the Post and kept taking the Star because it had Pogo in it and that was my parents’ favorite. And I was a kid in the ’60s so it was Pogo and it was the heyday of Peanuts I guess, too. It was just sort of the touchstone for all strips then. And I read that, I read comic books, too, but I always liked comic strips best. CCM: Why is that? RT: I don’t know, they were always there. Comic books were hard to find for some reason when I was a kid. You couldn’t just walk into a drugstore and find them on a rack like you could more easily in the ’70s and ’80s. But [newspapers] are like a public utility—they just sort of came into the house. I drew all the time when I was a kid, too, and that was what I drew. CCM: Stephan, how about you, were you a comics-loving kid? Stephan Pastis: Oh, absolutely. I mean I pretty much learned how to read from those old Fawcett Peanuts books, those little paperbacks. I think I first saw them at my cousin’s house and man, I just tore through all of those. And same as Richard, we got the Los Angeles Times. I grew up reading the comics every day, absolutely. CCM: Who do each of you look at as being your main influences?
Pearls Before Swine’s Rat and Pig by Stephan Pastis.
24 Comic-Con Magazine • Winter 2009
SP: I would say in terms of what a comic strip is—just the very basics—definitely Peanuts. It underlies everything. In terms of the sort of genre of comedy [I do] I would say The Far Side. And in terms of writing a three-panel strip, I would say Scott Adams (Dilbert). © 2009 Stephan Pastis. Distributed by United Features Syndicate, Inc.
Stephan Pastis and Richard Thompson
Read All Over Pearls Before Swine and Cul De Sac RT: I’d say probably Pogo just because I remember when I first discovered it in fifth grade and it just blew me away, in the way it’s written and the way the characters come and go and just the sort of endless Vaudeville that goes on in it. And I guess in a way Peanuts, too, because it’s a classic little kids strip and Calvin and Hobbes is up there, too. I think my tastes were set in stone when I was a kid. But I’d say Pogo tops. CCM: Let’s talk about what you both went through to get a syndicated strip published. RT: I kind of backed into it. I’m sure no two stories are the same but I was doing the strip as a weekly for the Washington Post Magazine for two and a half years or so before it turned into a daily. Five years ago I had a conversation with a friend who’s a cartoonist and I swore that I would never do a daily strip just because it sounded like too much work. And I thought, I don’t have such a thing in me. But I had it as a weekly strip and I started wondering what the characters were doing in between Sundays. I kept thinking I could expand on this and I could play around with these people. I sort of knew them by the time I’d done it for a year or so. And the head of Universal Press Syndicate e-mailed me about something completely unrelated and didn’t know I was a cartoonist . . . SP: Were you stalking one of their cartoonists and he was asking you to stop? RT: Probably something like that. “Stop bothering Waterson, he doesn’t like it.” He’d seen something online that I’d written and didn’t know there was a cartoon attached to it. So, I thought, “Well, now is my chance,” so I dumped a load of Cul De Sac strips on him and thought maybe this would turn into something. He e-mailed a couple months later and said let’s run with this and it turned into a development contract with a year-long process. And it launched in 2007.
CCM: And how many papers are you in now? RT: They’re saying 200. I’m happy there are 200 newspapers out there.
SP: I was a lawyer for almost 10 years and
I just drew on the side. I had no professional background or anything. I hadn’t sold any cartoons anywhere to anyone. And I just hated being a lawyer. So I would package up strips and send them to the syndicates and I did that a few times with a few different strip concepts and all the syndicates rejected them. And then I took one of the characters from one of the strips, which was Rat, and I paired him with a character from another one of the strips, which was Pig, and something about the balancing worked, and United Features Syndicate signed me with Pearls Before Swine. But the other part of my story that’s different is United did not debut me in newspapers. They tested the strip online on Comics.com starting in November of 2000. And then a month later in December it turns out that Scott Adams (Dilbert), who I did not know at the time, had been reading the strip and he liked it, and he told all his readers go read it and man, the hits just skyrocketed over night. And so United watched and saw that I maintained a lot of the hits and they said ok, we’ll put it in papers.
CCM: So if there’s somebody reading this right now who isn’t familiar with either of your strips, can you sum them up in 25 words or less? SP: Make it like six words . . . that’ll be a bigger challenge. RT: Yeah! CCM: Okay . . . six words or less. SP: Arrogant rat, humble pig, gallows humor. That’s pretty damn good. CCM: That’s almost a haiku. SP: Yeah, yeah, listen to that! Richard, go ahead, I’m challenging you. RT: These little kids that never shut up.
A Cul De Sac cover by Richard Thompson for the magazine Stay Tooned. © 2009 Richard Thompson. Distributed by United Press Syndicate.
Winter 2009 • Comic-Con Magazine 25
The Comic-Con Interview SP: Hey, that was seven, that was seven! I’m counting the words. CCM: We’ll have to judiciously edit that. Both of your strips feature recurring characters, but I’m curious as to how each of you arrived at them. Stephan, why mainly animals instead of people, and Richard, even though there are adults in your strip, why did you focus on kids? SP: Oh boy, I guess the reason why I did it is because when you do animals, you can get away with a lot of stuff. Whereas if it was coming from the mouths of adult humans, for some reason people give it more weight, maybe because there’s more of a relation to their life. But when it’s animals, they sort of sit back and go, “Oh, well, you know it’s a talking pig” ultimately. So it gives you license, I think. I think kids do that too, but I’ll let Richard speak to that. RT: I do a weekly strip cartoon for the Washington Post called Richard’s Poor Almanac, which is sort of a grab bag of things, whatever amuses me that week. And I’ve done it for 11 years or something now. And one of the editors that I had on it, Tom Schroder, moved over to the Post Magazine and took that over some years ago and asked me if I would be interested in doing a weekly strip for them with continuing characters about DC. But he didn’t want to make it about big-time Washington, just about the people who live there. I kept play-
ing around with it. It took me a year to fool around with this thing, but I boiled it down to this family sort of in the suburbs and all I could think was, how hokey is that for a comic strip: “Has this ever been thought of before, a family in the suburbs?” And it turned into the little girl (Alice) was sort of the irresistible force and the little boy (Petey) was the immovable object. And they sort of worked well together, like the same way that Rat and Pig do. They kind of complement each other by being opposites. Little kids fit into a strip so well, they’re small and you can do things with them like you can with animals, too. You know their responsibilities are different, they have more free time on their hands, I guess. I’ve had some talking animals in Cul De Sac, too, and my editor kind of warns me to be careful, they’ll take over if you let them. So I’ve kept to the kids most of the time. CCM: Of each of your own characters, who’s your favorite child? SP: Rat, for me. He’s me, as scary as that is. It’s my natural voice. Boy, now everyone’s going to want to meet me! RT: I’d say Petey. He’s the introvert and the hypochondriac and everything’s against him. He’s sort of the worst of me. Alice can be the worst of me sometimes, too, but it’s always the character with the most problems who would be the most fun to write, because you can do more with them.
CCM: What’s the one thing that’s surprised you the most in a positive way in letters or e-mails that you both get about your work? SP: I would say it’s one strip. It’s from December 2003 and none of my characters are in it. It’s just a TV set for 10 panels and it’s talking about a bus bombing in Jerusalem. It’s a totally different change in tone for the strip. The response I got on that was just the biggest response I’ve ever gotten to a strip. It was a news account of a bus bombing in Jerusalem that killed kids and the strip goes on to sort of humanize the kids and tell you these are kids with posters in their room and torn jeans and all this stuff. And the number of e-mails from Israel from parents of kids who had died or come close to dying and how deeply it touched them. That was like, “Wow, your comic really can have an impact.” RT: I remember that one and it was heartfelt. It was a different approach. I can’t think of anything really as specific as that. I can think of just individual e-mails where somebody says, “that’s the way I was, that’s the way my kid was, I recognize this or I recognize that,” and usually it’s something that’s unexpected. A little aside is that you think no one will hear or recognize or see anything you do. I kind of worked under a bushel basket for years without hearing much, so it’s nice to hear anything.
Stephan Pastis’ “Jerusalem” Pearls Before Swine Sunday strip. 26 Comic-Con Magazine • Winter 2009
© 2009 Stephan Pastis. Distributed by United Features Syndicate, Inc.
Stephan Pastis and Richard Thompson SP: I met Richard in person for the first time last month, and I told him this, I mean I’ve told him this before and I hate compliments so don’t say anything nice back. Richard is phenomenally talented. If I were a newspaper editor I’d have him in every paper in the country. I mean everything about it. He draws incredibly. But the other thing is there is a unique voice there. I saw 10 of his dailies when he first started. They were the samples that Universal had put on their site. It was amazing. I mean just little touches like the size of the father’s car, this tiny little car, and you know there’s something that hits you so hard about that. Like your father should be your defender, he should be strong. And to have a father who is so weak or whatever that his car can fall into a little hole in a sandbox and be lost. That’s an absolutely, utterly crazy, brilliant mind and they don’t come along very often. He should be in 2,000 papers as far as I’m concerned. CCM: There seems to be a big difference between newspaper strips and comic books in that your ability to affect people is a lot more considerable. One of you mentioned that a newspaper is almost like a utility that comes into your house, but you are going into people’s homes everyday, undoubtedly because they want you to be there. The way you’re able to touch people is a lot more different than the average comic book.
RT: Comics kind of sneak into the home with the rest of the package with the newspaper. And it’s kind of an uninvited guest in some cases, but it’s funny the attachment that people will form with a comic strip and the way they follow it. On GoComics.com, which Universal Press runs and which runs my strip, readers can leave comments. And I follow mine sometimes. I’m tickled when they reference a strip that ran like six months ago or something like that and say, “Hey didn’t Petey do this” or “This is the first time I’ve seen Petey smile in two months.” It’s not just that people are paying attention, but that they’re keeping track of it too. SP: And the point of that difference with comic books is we are 8 seconds of their day, but every day. Like your cup of coffee or your morning shower or whatever, we are part of that person’s routine no matter what. Whereas, you know, maybe with a comic book you’ll read it and then come back in a week or whatever, you’re going to see us every single day. So in some aspects we have that advantage. You can really form a connection with those characters. RT: Yeah, it’s a cumulative thing. CCM: When newspapers try to drop strips, it’s like this silent majority suddenly appears and becomes outraged. “You can’t drop so and so, that’s my favorite strip, how dare you?!” It still seems like comics are an important part of the
engine that drives the whole newspaper vehicle. RT: You hope so. We don’t have the glamour days that they had back in the ’30s, and ’40s. I remember my mom talking about when she was a kid how they’d fight over Dick Tracy if he was fighting Flattop or something like that. And how she could remember those strips vividly. I don’t know if people are fighting over Cul De Sac every day. There is that emotional thing that if you’re used to it and it’s taken away, you’re having withdrawals. CCM: Daily strip versus Sunday strip: is it like the difference between a 30-minute sitcom and a 2-hour movie? Do you get ideas that you immediately know are for the dailies and ones that are for Sundays? RT: It’s more the difference between a blackout and a 20-minute sitcom. You can expand on an idea and have more reaction time and spread out on either side of it in a Sunday. Sometimes you can move the joke around within the framework. I like to have more than one joke in mine or one gag or whatever. I was sort of used to that doing the Sunday for the two and a half years I did it for the Post. Switching over to a daily was a kind of process of elimination, and kind of hard sometimes. And sometimes I do know when I have an idea whether it’ll fit best in a daily or in a
A Cul De Sac Sunday by Richard Thompson. © 2009 Richard Thompson. Distributed by United Press Syndicate.
Winter 2009 • Comic-Con Magazine 27
The Comic-Con Interview
A Pearls Before Swine daily by Stephan Pastis. Sunday. If you try to pad it into a Sunday and it’s not working, you’ve got a daily and then vice versa you might have a little choo-choo idea on your hands where you can link one to another and build on it (as a series of dailies). The Sundays can be more fun sometimes, but it’s just a lot more work and you have to color them, too. SP: It’s like the difference between a short story and a novel. Just because you’re good at one doesn’t necessarily mean you’re good at the other. Each has their own rhythm. To give you an example I’m really ahead on my strip— Richard loves this by the way—I’m like seven months ahead. I don’t submit all seven months to my syndicate, but recently I submitted through April 2009. But I’m not ahead on the Sundays like that. There’s three months on my shelves now beyond April that I could submit to the syndicate but they’re all dailies; there’s no Sundays to go with them. And the reason is it’s a whole different rhythm. When I start writing Sundays, they tend to come in bunches and then I only write Sundays for a while. They’re two separate animals. Sometimes I’ll start writing a daily and there’s just too much there and so it just morphs over into a Sunday. But by and large, if I’m in a Sunday mode I have to stay in the Sunday mode and I’ll write a whole bunch of them. And also if you’re an artist versus not an artist— Richard’s a good artist, I’m a mediocre one at best—Sundays are tough because you got to really show it on Sunday. So the talking heads don’t always work. You got to get a little more stuff in there. So for someone like me it’s a challenge.
28 Comic-Con Magazine • Winter 2009
CCM: Which current strips do you both admire? RT: Definitely Stephan’s. That’s one of the few that my whole family reads and laughs at. My wife has very particular taste about what makes her laugh and she sees enough of my stuff that she doesn’t need to see anymore. SP: That’s how my wife is. She does not think I’m funny. RT: I don’t read as many as I used to somehow, now that I’m doing it every day. Besides Pearls Before Swine, I read Lio [by Mark Tatulli], We The Robots [by Chris Harding] . . . I’m trying to think now and I’m blanking, and actually I do read them all in the paper when I get a chance to. SP: Well other than Cul De Sac, I like Lio, F Minus [by Tony Carrillo], Get Fuzzy [by Darby Conley], Dilbert [by Scott Adams], Brewster Rocket [by Tim Rickert], and Pooch Café [by Paul Gilligan]. You know who’s superbly talented but he’s not syndicated? That Perry Bible Fellowship guy, Nicholas Gurewitch. If he had been syndicated, he would have been one of the best guys—if not the best guy—on the page. CCM: There’s been a lot of bad news concerning the newspaper industry in the past few years. What do you both think is the future of newspaper comic strips? RT: I try not to think about it. There’s some future for them, and I’m not sure what it is, just like there’s some future for newspapers and nobody knows what that is either. I’m the wrong one to ask, you know. I’m just trying to draw these things everyday.
SP: We’re just catching this news every single week and we’re not even in the worst case. The editorial cartoonists are really, really taking it. But I come back to a couple of key things. Number one, there will always be a need for local news. That is just a given. How it’s delivered to you I don’t know, but that survives somehow. Number two, my parents’ generation— people in their ’60s or so—are still getting the paper every day. They’ve got another 15 years or so left and that’s just enough time for me to get my kids through college, so that’s all I’m going to worry about. CCM: If newspapers went away would you both consider doing something online for an eventual book or would you consider some kind of original book publication? RT: I would do that, I think. I’ve talked to a few publishers about that. But you’re talking about like what Nicholas Gurewitch did [on the web]. I was also thinking of Achewood [by Chris Onstad]. There are a string of good ones on the web, I read in bunches, too. CCM: Both of you have book collections going so how important is licensing? Is anybody interested in marketing toys and such from your work? SP: The outside perspective is that all these cartoonists have licensing. The truth is three of them do: Peanuts is heads and tails above everybody, then Garfield and then Dilbert to some extent. I’m just starting. They just made plush toys of the Pearls Before Swine characters, which I just saw a final sample of last week. But I think it’s more of a challenge to get licensed now. If © 2009 Stephan Pastis. Distributed by United Features Syndicate, Inc.
Stephan Pastis and Richard Thompson
A Cul De Sac daily by Richard Thompson. you were in 500 papers in the ’70s, you were a rock star. You were everywhere. You were on lunchboxes and everything. Now, not so much. It’s a lot harder. RT: It’s true. You can do it on your own with Café Press and such and everybody’s got something going on like that. Andrews McMeel does most of the books and I think there’s a Cul De Sac calendar coming out in another year or so, and they’re talking animation. But it’s not the same as selling lunchboxes and stuffed toys and the thing with the suction cup stuck to the car window. CCM: Stephan, isn’t there something in the works with Pearls Before Swine for animation? SP: I can’t say names, but we were approached by one of the studios that does CG, one of the big ones. And the head of the studio likes the strip, so my producer and I have had a call with them and we’re going down to the studio in two weeks to hash out movie ideas, which would be phenomenal if I could do it. We’ll see. I’ve learned in the Hollywood thing, don’t count your chickens or don’t count your pigs and rats. CCM: Richard, what about Cul De Sac, animation wise? RT: There’s something being worked on, nothing in the way of movies, although a few approaches about it. Like Stephan said, it’s such a process that until there’s some announcement you know nothing much can be said. But it’s the kind of thing where you just kind of close your eyes and enjoy the ride and hope you get somewhere at the end.
SP: Yeah, because it’s the thing that cartoonists all talk about amongst themselves and what people generally may not understand is that when you’re doing a comic strip, it’s just you. It’s me to you. There’s nothing in between. RT: Which is the fun part. SP: So it’s one of the last mediums—maybe us and novelists or poets—where it is not a collaboration, it is only you. Yet animation, be it TV or film or even short form, is all collaboration, from the voices to the director to the timing to the look to the color, everything. And for a cartoonist—you know, us hermits that sit in a room by ourselves and if something tickles us we’re the judge and jury and it’s done— that’s a huge transition. We get to play with other people in our sandbox, and how good you are at doing that is probably just dependent on the individual. So we’ll see. There’s a reason they keep us locked in our rooms. I don’t think we’re that social or diplomatic. CCM: What’s a typical work day like for both of you? RT: I still do a lot of freelance work. The syndicate advised me to keep my day job, which is mostly magazine illustrations and stuff like that. I tend to work late at night. It’s kind of a genetic thing, but sometimes the night turns into the morning into the next day and such. But I’m not too well organized, so working for myself I’m the worst possible employee with the worst possible boss.
and then I will drive home, hopefully with three or four ideas. I usually get a couple, and then I’ll come home and I’ll waste a couple hours and then I’ll start drawing. And I’ll try to draw two and then I’ll draw whatever I have left for the next day and then I’ll start writing again when I run out. I find I write in bunches and draw in bunches. CCM: 2009 will mark the first appearance at Comic-Con for each of you. Do you have any thoughts on attending the show? RT: I’m looking forward to it. It’s as big as you can get for such a thing, and I’ll sit there and enjoy the show as much as anything, having never been. SP: I think it’ll be a lot of fun. San Diego’s just a great place. I want to do not just a panel with me, but I want to do one with Richard. I think that would be fun. Their wish is our command. Look for a panel featuring Richard Thompson and Stephan Pastis together at ComicCon 2009. For the complete Comic-Con programming schedule, check www.comiccon.org as we get closer to the show.
SP: Well, like tomorrow I will go to Calistoga, this town I write in in Napa Valley, and I always write at the same place at this one café. And I sit there and I’ll write from 9:00 to noon
© 2009 Richard Thompson. Distributed by United Press Syndicate. © 2009 Stephan Pastis. Distributed by United Features Syndicate, Inc.
Winter 2009 • Comic-Con Magazine 29
The Big 4—0!
2009 marks the 40th Comic-Con International. Started in 1970 in San Diego, the event has become the nation’s leading comics and popular arts convention. Here’s your first sneak peek at what’s planned for this summer’s big show, including the lineup of special guests (starting on page 33), featuring superstars from all aspects of the wonderful world of comics, plus greats from science fiction and fantasy. Over the next ten pages, you’ll find advance info on Comic-Con 2009: the special themes and anniversaries being considered for both the Souvenir Book and programming; the 30+ special guests who are confirmed so far; and the return of last year’s popular feature, “ComicCon A to Z,” showcasing preliminary info on everything from Anime to the Website (we’re still looking for that elusive “Z” entry). Last summer, 126,000 attendees, professionals, and exhibitors were a part of Comic-Con. For the first time ever, Comic-Con sold out of all memberships—4-day and single days—weeks before the show opened. We expect the same thing to happen this year, and we strongly urge you to register online now. Both 4-day and single-day memberships are available now at www.comic-con.org/cci/cci_reg.shtml. As everyone learned last year, the San Diego Comic-Con is more popular than ever, so register now to make sure you’re a part of the event in 2009. Registering online is the only way to attend the big 40th show this summer, as memberships will NOT be available at the door. And remember: the only place to purchase real memberships for ComicCon 2009 is at www.comic-con.org. No ticket agencies or any other websites have the right to sell memberships. Last year, people showed up with counterfeit memberships and were turned away. Purchase your memberships only from the official Comic-Con website. Any memberships sold for more than our listed prices are not sanctioned or accepted by Comic-Con. Memberships and badges are non-transferable.
C-C MI O
2 3 -2 6 , 2
Thurs., July 23 - Sun., July 26 Preview Night: Wed., July 22 Preview Night open only to pre-registered 4-day attendees and professionals Open to the public: • Wed., July 22: 6:00—9:00 PM Preview Night open only to pre-registered 4-day attendees and professionals • Thurs., July 23—Sat., July 25: 9:30 AM—7:00 PM With additional late-night hours for programs, anime, games, film showings, etc. • Sun., July 26: 9:30
Location: San Diego Convention Center 111 West Harbor Drive San Diego, CA 92101 Memberships: No onsite membership badges will be sold. REGISTER ONLINE NOW! • 4-DAY MEMBERSHIPS are currently available online ONLY at: www.comic-con.org/cci/cci_reg.shtml Adults: $75.00* Junior/Senior: $35.00* • SINGLE-DAY MEMBERSHIPS are currently available online ONLY at www.comic-con.org/cci/cci_reg.shtml
Rick Geary’s original hand-colored “dancing toucan” art done for Comic-Con in the 1980s. 30 Comic-Con Magazine • Winter 2009
*Children 11 and under free with PAID adult membership. Juniors are 12–17 years old and Seniors are 60 or more years old. Active military will pay the Junior/ Senior price. This offer does not extend to dependents. MEMBERSHIPS & BADGES ARE NON-TRANSFERABLE. See the Registration article on page 38 for more details. Times and prices are subject to change. Art © 2009 Rick Geary
Your Preliminary Guide to the 2009 Convention! Anime Comic-Con will once again present three rooms dedicated to anime screenings throughout the four days of the event. More information, including a complete schedule, will be posted at www.comic-con.org/cci/cci_anime.shtml as we get closer to the show.
Artists’ Alley Artists’ Alley gives attendees the chance to meet some of their favorite creators, many of whom sell original art, sketches, and exclusive limited-edition prints and sketchbooks. A complete schedule of participating artists will be posted at www.comic-con.org/cci/cci_artalley.shtml
Art Show The Art Show is a great showcase for art of all types by pros and newcomers and the place to buy that one-of-a-kind piece to take home. Complete rules and forms for entering the Art Show can be downloaded at www.comic-con.org/cci/ cci_artshow.shtml.
Autographs Comic-Con’s Autograph Area is filled with some of your favorite celebrities. Many guests, comic creators, authors, and artists also sign here after their programming events and panels. Keep in mind that most autograph signings are limited in time and that your membership badge does not guarantee autographs at any event. Look for a complete Autograph Area schedule at www.comic-con.org/cci/cci_autographs.shtml closer to the show.
Blood Drive A Comic-Con tradition now in its 33rd year, the Robert A. Heinlein Blood Drive set a new record in 2008: 1,070 pints of blood collected. Blood donors get free goodie bags containing comics, books, and other fun items; a special limitededition T-shirt from the San Diego Blood Bank; and other surprises. Donors are also eligible for drawings for prizes. The Blood Drive will once again take place over all four days of Comic-Con. More info: www.comic-con.org/cci/ cci_blood.shtml Winter 2009 • Comic-Con Magazine 31
Comic-Con A to Z Child Care Child care will be available onsite at the Convention Center during Comic-Con on a limited basis. You must reserve space for your child in advance. For further information closer to the event, please visit www.comic-con.org/cci/ cci_child.shtml
Eisner Awards The deadline for submissions for the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards is March 13, 2009. For complete information on how to enter, visit www.comic-con.org/cci/cci_eisners_main.shtml. The Eisner Awards will be held Friday, July 24 at 8:30 PM. See the article on page 42 for more on the Eisner Awards, including bios of this year’s panel of judges.
Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award To nominate your favorite comics shop for the Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award, see the form on page 41. The deadline for submission for the Retailer Award is April 17, 2009. Check www.comic-con.org/cci/ cci_eisners_spirit.shtml for more information (including past recipients of the Spirit Award) and an online entry form.
Events Guide Comic-Con’s onsite Events Guide is given free to each attendee. This publication contains schedules for all the official programs, autograph signings, gaming events, anime screenings, and film screenings (including the Comic-Con International Film Festival) , plus a master listing of all exhibitors and a special section devoted to events and signings at booths in the Exhibit Hall. This giant publication also features maps and info to help make your visit to ComicCon—and downtown San Diego—more complete.
Exhibit Hall Comic-Con’s giant Exhibit Hall is a pop culture shopper’s paradise, encompassing over 460,000 square feet of space in Halls A through G of the San Diego Convention Center. The exhibitors include the leading comics publishers in the country, manga and anime companies, book publishers, movie studios and TV networks, toy companies, artists and illustrators, and much more. A complete list of exhibitors will be available on the website as we get closer to the show. Visit www.comic-con.org/cci/cci_exhib.shtml
Film Festival The deadline to submit a film to the Comic-Con International Independent Film Festival is March 15, 2009. The festival features the very best in indie genre films. There are seven categories to choose from: Action/Adventure, Animation, Comics-Oriented, Documentary, Horror/Suspense, Humor/Parody and Science Fiction/Fantasy. Each year, Comic-Con chooses a panel of industry judges to view the films. Awards and prizes are given out at Comic-Con for the best film in each category, and a special “Judges’ Choice” award goes to the film deemed to be the best of the festival. Visit www.comic-con.org/cci/cci_iff.shtml to download the official rules and entry form, but hurry . . . that deadline is March 15! 32 Comic-Con Magazine • Winter 2009
Photos: Tom Deleon; Events Guide cover art © 2008 Frank Grau; Superman & Batman TM & © 2009 DC Comics
JULY 23—26 • PREVIEW NIGHT JULY 22 SAN DIEGO CONVENTION CENTER Films Helping you stay up all night, Comic-Con’s film screenings will once again take place at both the Convention Center and the official headquarters hotel, the San Diego Marriott Hotel & Marina. Pre-registered 4-day attendees get a jump on everyone else by having access to the complete films schedule online—in a special “members’ only” log-in area— closer to the event.
Games You can always count on hours upon hours of gaming at Comic-Con! The Convention Center’s Mezzanine level is devoted to games all four days of the show, and at the headquarters hotel, the San Diego Marriott Hotel & Marina, gaming continues into the wee hours of the night. Look for a complete schedule closer to the event at www.comiccon.org/cci/cci_gaming.shtml
Guests It’s Comic-Con’s 40th, and as in previous years, the special guest lineup is an incredibly diverse one, consisting of some of the hottest creators in the world of comics, ranging from the mainstream to the alternative, international, and syndicated branches of the industry. We’re also of course featuring Golden and Silver Age creators, sf/fantasy writers and artists, and longtime Comic-Con friends. Visit www.comic-con.org/cci/ cci_guests.shtml for updated guest information and a complete program schedule as we get closer to the event. You can also subscribe to Comic-Con.org’s RSS feed to get e-mails sent to you each time the site is updated!
NICOLA CUTI Writer/artist/editor, E-Man
MARK EVANIER Writer, Groo, Kirby: King of Comics
Nicola Cuti worked as a comics writer, artist, and editor for DC, Marvel, Charlton, and Warren in the 1970s and 1980s. His bestknown comics creation is E-Man, co-created with artist Joe Staton. He also worked in animation as a background designer, including work on Conan, Gargoyles, and Starship Troopers. For the past decade, Nick has been developing Captain Cosmos, the Last STARveyer, a liveaction series for children. Coming off a big year with his Jack Kirby biography, Kirby: King of Comics, being a smash hit, writer Mark Evanier also co-writes The Spirit with Sergio Aragonés for DC Comics and blogs on a daily basis at his famous online outpost newsfromme.com. Mark will be drawing on his vast knowledge of comics history for the many panels he’s sure to be moderating at Comic-Con.
SERGIO ARAGONES Cartoonist, MAD, Groo
STEVE EPTING Artist, Avengers, Captain America
JUNE FORAY Voice actor, Rocky and Bullwinkle Show
MAD magazine’s longest-running cartoonist and the creator of that popular dim-witted barbarian Groo, Sergio Aragonés is one of Comic-Con’s most popular guests (confirmed by his appearances at both San Diego and WonderCon each year). Sergio recently helped revive the DC Western hero Bat Lash in a new miniseries, and he continues to write Will Eisner’s The Spirit with frequent collaborator and fellow guest Mark Evanier. With a career stretching back to First Comics, Steve Epting made his name with Marvel fans everywhere with a 50-issue run on Avengers in the early ’90s. With stints at Marvel (X-Men titles), DC (Aquaman), and CrossGen (the Eisner-nominated El Cazador), Steve returned to Marvel to embark on his first collaboration with writer Ed Brubaker on Captain America, in what is shaping up to be one of the all-time great runs in the character’s history. One of the animated film world’s most beloved voice actors returns to Comic-Con to help celebrate its 40th anniversary. June Foray is best known for Jay Ward’s The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, where she brought Nastasha and Rocket J. Squirrel himself to memorable life. Her long and varied career has included voice work for Disney (Lucifer the Cat in Cinderella), and Warner Bros. (Granny, the owner of Tweety and Sylvester). Winter 2009 • Comic-Con Magazine 33
Comic-Con A to Z
RAMONA FRADON Artist, Aquaman, Metamorpho
JIMMY GOWNLEY Writer/artist, Amelia Rules!
JAMES JEAN Artist/illustrator, Fables covers
HOPE LARSON Writer/artist, Chiggers, Gray Horses 34 Comic-Con Magazine • Winter 2009
One of the few women artists drawing superheroes in the Silver Age of Comics, Ramona Fradon had a long stint on Aquaman and cocreated (with writer Bob Haney) Metamorpho. Fradon took over the syndicated comic strip Brenda Starr from creator Dale Messick in 1980 and continued it until 1995. In 2006, she was inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards Hall of Fame. Jimmy Gownley began creating comics at 15 when he self-published his first series, Shades of Gray Comics and Stories. In 2001 Jimmy created the all-ages series Amelia Rules!, which has been featured in Scholastic book clubs and was the first graphic novel chosen by Children’s Book of the Month Club. Gownley has been nominated for seven Eisner Awards. He is also co-founder of Kids Love Comics, which promotes comics as a valuable tool for literacy. Immediately upon graduating from the School of Visual Arts in 2001, James Jean became a regular cover artist for DC/Vertigo Comics. His covers have won him five consecutive Eisner awards and three consecutive Harvey Awards for Best Cover Artist. This exposure led him to create work for clients such as the NY Times, Rolling Stone, Nike, Target, and Prada. Since 2007, he has stopped illustrating in favor of personal paintings, book projects, and gallery shows. Hope Larson is the author and illustrator of several graphic novels, including Gray Horses and Chiggers. Her short stories have been featured in the New York Times and several anthologies, notably the Flight series and Image Comics’ Comic Book Tattoo. Larson has been nominated for awards in the U.S., Canada and Europe, and she is the recipient of a 2006 Ignatz Award and a 2007 Eisner Award.
GARY GIANNI Artist, The Shadow, Prince Valiant
BRIAN HERBERT Co-author, Dune series of novels
KAZU KIBUISHI Writer/artist/editor, Flight
DWAYNE McDUFFIE Writer, Justice League of America, Static Shock
Gary Gianni’s comic work includes The Shadow, Indiana Jones, and Tom Strong. The Eisner Award– winning artist is also the creator of The MonsterMen. Gianni has painted illustrations for volumes featuring Robert E. Howard’s characters, including Conan and Solomon Kane, plus he’s illustrated Michael Chabon’s Gentlemen of the Road, and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. He draws the syndicated newspaper strip Prince Valiant. Brian Herbert, the son of Frank Herbert, is the author of 25 books. He has won literary honors and has been nominated for the highest awards in science fiction. In 2003, he published Dreamer of Dune, the Hugo Award–nominated biography of his father. Since 1999, Brian has written nine Dune series novels with Kevin J. Anderson that have been major international bestsellers. In 2004, Brian published The Forgotten Heroes, a powerful tribute to the U.S. Merchant Marine. Kazu Kibuishi is the editor and art director of the Flight comics anthology series, published by Villard Books. He is also the creator of Amulet (Scholastic), Daisy Kutter (Viper Comics), and Copper (a webcomic also being published in book form by Scholastic). Kazu is currently working on the second book in the Amulet series, which is due out in 2009. He lives and works alongside his wife Amy in Alhambra, California. Dwayne McDuffie is the co-creator of the Emmy Award–winning television series Static Shock and a founder/co-owner of Milestone Media, the most successful black-owned comic book company in history. He was a writer/producer for WB’s Justice League Unlimited and is currently story editor of Cartoon Network’s Ben 10: Alien Force. He also writes the Justice League of America for DC. Dwayne is a multiple Emmy and Eisner Award nominee and won the 2003 Humanitas Prize.
JULY 23—26 • PREVIEW NIGHT JULY 22 SAN DIEGO CONVENTION CENTER
DOUG MOENCH Writer, Master of Kung Fu, Moon Knight, Batman
Writer Doug Moench is best known for his work on Marvel’s Master of Kung Fu and Moon Knight (which he co-created with artist Don Perlin), and DC’s Batman titles. Moench’s masterful portrayal of Shang-Chi—in over 100 issues with artists Paul Gulacy, Mike Zeck, and Gene Day—brought James Bond– like movies to paper in the ’70s and ’80s. Moench moved to DC Comics in the ‘80s, where he wrote a long (100+ issues) run on Batman. The Eisner Award–winning Brazilian artist (2008 Best Anthology, 5, and Best Digital Comic, Sugarshock!, written by Joss Whedon) is a first-time ComicCon guest. His other work includes the 2006 Eisner-nominated book De:TALES, which he collaborated on with his twin brother, Umbrella Academy artist Gabriel Bá.
Cartoonist, Pearls Before Swine
MIKE ROYER Artist, Jack Kirby’s Fourth World comics
Artist, Batman, Detective Comics
BRYAN LEE O’MALLEY Writer/artist, Scott Pilgrim
Artist, Sugarshock!, 5, De:TALES
Although Stephan Pastis always wanted to be a cartoonist, he worked as a full-time litigation attorney in San Francisco from 1993 to 2002. His syndicated comic strip Pearls Before Swine debuted in 50 newspapers in 2002 and now appears in over 550 newspapers around the world. There have been 12 collected Pearls books, as well as desk calendars, wall calendars, greeting cards. and stuffed animals. See our interview with Pastis and Richard Thompson starting on page 24. Mike Royer started his career in the late 1960s as an assistant to Russ Manning on the Tarzan and Star Wars syndicated strips. Royer is probably best known as one of Jack Kirby’s best inkers, working with the King on series such as New Gods, The Demon, Kamandi, and many more. From 1979 until 2000, Royer worked as an artist for Walt Disney’s Consumer Product/ Licensing division and the Disney Store.
DAVID PETERSEN Writer/artist, Mouse Guard
LEW SAYRE SCHWARTZ Artist, Batman, Detective Comics
Artist Sheldon Moldoff started at National Periodical Publications (DC) as a letterer and background artist for Batman co-creator Bob Kane. Moldoff worked on the earliest version of Hawkman and became the primary cover artist for such titles as All American (including the first appearance of Green Lantern) and Flash. In 1953 he became one of the primary ghost artists on the Batman titles, ultimately penciling and inking over 5,000 pages into the mid-1960s. Bryan Lee O’Malley’s six-volume graphic novel series, Scott Pilgrim (Oni Press), has earned considerable acclaim since its 2004 debut. He has won numerous awards, including Harvey, Joe Shuster, and Doug Wright Awards, as well as nominations for an Eisner Award and the National Cartoonists Society Reuben Award. The Scott Pilgrim series is also being adapted to a feature film, from Universal Pictures, by writer/director Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead). David Petersen was the 2007 Russ Manning Most Promising Newcomer Award recipient, and in 2008 he won Eisner Awards for Best Publication for Kids (Mouse Guard Fall 1152 and Winter 1152) and Best Graphic Album—Reprint (Mouse Guard Fall 1152 hardcover). He received his BFA in printmaking from Eastern Michigan University, where he met his wife Julia. They continue to reside in Michigan with their dog, Autumn. Lew Sayre Schwartz created about 120 Batman stories for Batman and Detective Comics in the mid-1950s, all uncredited (until recently) as one of Bob Kane’s ghost artists. But Schwartz’s art style stood out for fans. He also worked on syndicated comic strips such as Brick Bradford and Secret Agent X-9. He left comics in 1953 and helped form a company that produced many short films for Sesame Street. In 2002, he wrote an adaptation of Moby Dick, illustrated by Dick Giordano. Winter 2009 • Comic-Con Magazine 35
Comic-Con A to Z
BILL SIENKIEWICZ Writer/artist, Elektra: Assassin, Stray Toasters
GAIL SIMONE Writer, Wonder Woman, Secret Six
RICHARD THOMPSON Cartoonist, Cul De Sac
JERRY VANDERSTELT Science fiction and fantasy artist/illustrator 36 Comic-Con Magazine • Winter 2009
Bill Sienkiewicz’s career in comics includes work at Marvel (Moon Knight, The New Mutants) and DC (Superman: Day of Doom). He gained an international reputation and cult status for his work on Frank Miller’s Elektra: Assassin and his own Stray Toasters. Sienkiewicz won a 1987 Kirby Award for Best Artist for Elektra: Assassin and a 2004 Eisner Award for Best Anthology for his role in Sandman: Endless Nights, written by Neil Gaiman. Gail Simone began writing as a columnist for comicbookresources.com, producing the comics parody column “You’ll All Be Sorry,” and she has since had fan favorite runs on such books at Deadpool, Agent X, Birds of Prey, Gen13, and the creator-owned Welcome To Tranquility. She currently writes Wonder Woman, Secret Six, and other special projects for DC Comics. Simone has also written for animation, including Justice League Unlimited and Tomb Raider. Richard Thompson’s syndicated comic strip Cul De Sac is about a preschool girl named Alice Otterloop and her suburban life. Thompson’s other work includes Richard Poor’s Almanac, which is published in The Washington Post Style section each week. His illustrations have appeared in U.S. News & World Report, The New Yorker, National Geographic, and The Atlantic Monthly. See our interview with Thompson and Stephan Pastis starting on page 24. Best known for his stunning prints based on the Lord of the Rings series, science fiction and fantasy artist Jerry VanderStelt also creates art for book jackets, toy packaging, video games, and even pinball machines. VanderStelt has produced official Lord of the Rings art for New Line Cinema and various projects for other clients, including Lucasfilm and publishers Ace, Roc, Pocket, and Scholastic Books.
POSY SIMMONDS Writer/artist, Gemma Bovery, Tamara Drewe
LEONARD STARR Cartoonist, Annie, Mary Perkins On Stage
LEWIS TRONDHEIM Writer/artist, Spiffy Adventures of McConey
CHARLES VESS Artist, Stardust, The Sandman
Posy Simmonds is a cartoonist, illustrator, and graphic novelist. She is best known for weekly comic strips and serialized graphic novels appearing in the London Guardian since 1977, collected and published as books. She is also the author of several books for children. Her first graphic novel, Gemma Bovery, won international awards. Her most recent is Tamara Drewe, awarded the Grand Prix de la Critique 2009 (France). She lives in London. Leonard Starr is best known for his creation Mary Perkins, On Stage. The strip, which began in 1957 and ran until 1979, chronicled the life of actress Mary Perkins as she went from small town beauty queen to international star. In 1979, Starr relaunched Little Orphan Annie as Annie, which he worked on until his retirement in 2000. His long career includes comic book work at Timely, EC, and DC, and animation work in series such as Thundercats. Lewis Trondheim has earned an international following as one of comics’ most inventive and prolific creators. His work has won numerous awards, including the Angoulême prize for best series for The Spiffy Adventures of McConey. He also co-created the titanic fantasy epic Dungeon with Joann Sfar. In 2006, Trondheim was awarded the Grand Prix de la ville d’Angoulême at the Angoulême International Comics Festival, one of the most prestigious awards in European comics. Charles Vess began his career in the ’70s drawing comics for DC, Dark Horse, and Marvel such as Swamp Thing, The Sandman, and SpiderMan. The illustrated novel Stardust (DC/Vertigo)—written by Neil Gaiman—was made into a movie starring Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfieffer and Claire Danes. His 2009 projects include Blueberry Girl, written by Gaiman, and Drawing Down the Moon: The Art of Charles Vess, a hardcover retrospective of his career, published by Dark Horse. Charles Vess photo: Paul Vernon
JULY 23—26 • PREVIEW NIGHT JULY 22 SAN DIEGO CONVENTION CENTER
GENE YANG Writer/artist, American Born Chinese
Gene Yang began drawing comic books in the fifth grade. In 1997, he received a Xeric Grant for Gordon Yamamoto and the King of the Geeks. Since then he has won the Printz Award and an Eisner Award for American Born Chinese. His next book, The Eternal Smile (co-created with Derek Kirk Kim), will be in stores in May 2009. Gene lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his lovely wife and children and teaches at a Roman Catholic high school.
LEINIL YU Artist, Secret Invasion, Ultimate Hulk/Wolverine
One of comics’ most exciting artists, Leinil Yu has just completed drawing the best selling comic of 2008, Marvel’s Secret Invasion, written by Brian Michael Bendis. His dynamic style has graced such titles as Uncanny X-Men, Ultimate Hulk/Wolverine, and New Avengers for Marvel, and Superman: Birthright for DC. This will be his first appearance at Comic-Con as a special guest, so we’re really hoping he doesn’t turn out to be a Skrull.
Hospitality Suite Your little oasis away from the crowds at Comic-Con, the Hospitality Suite will be located at our headquarters hotel, the San Diego Marriott Hotel & Marina. The suite offers free munchies, soft drinks, and a quiet place to chill and relax and meet new friends. Hours and exact location will be posted in the onsite Events Guide.
As of press time, final preparations for opening hotel room reservations were still in the process of being completed. Please visit www.comic-con.org/cci/cci_hotel.shtml for more information as it becomes available. We will be sending out a postcard prior to the opening of reservations that lists the day and time they will begin. Please note: We have not been allotted enough rooms by the hotels to meet the demand for rooms. Rooms do fill up within the first few hours, so you may want to try to book a room directly with the hotel of your choice now. Comic-Con’s headquarters hotel for 2009 will be the San Diego Marriott Hotel & Marina, located right next door to the Convention Center. Here you’ll find Comic-Con’s Hospitality Suite, and nighttime games and film screenings as well as Starbucks and three great restaurants for meetings or dinners with friends.
Masquerade Comic-Con’s Masquerade will be held on Saturday, July 25 at 8:30 pm. The event is free to Comic-Con attendees but does require a ticket for admission. Overflow seating will be available in various locations in the Convention Center. Those interested in becoming contestants can obtain complete information and an entry form by visiting www.comiccon.org/cci/cci_masq.shtml. The Masquerade welcomes everyone from the novice to the very experienced, but the number of entries is limited and the roster often fills up weeks before Comic-Con. There are no entry fees. All costumes must be of original construction or show significant modification to pre-existing materials.
Parking and Public Transportation Parking can be one of the most challenging aspects of coming to Comic-Con. While Comic-Con itself has no control over the parking situation in downtown San Diego, our advice is simple: A good alternative is to park outside the downtown area and use public transportation, including the San Diego Trolley. For updated information on parking and public transportation to and from Comic-Con, visit www.comic-con.org/cci/cci_park.shtml and/or www.comic-con. org/cci/cci_trans.shtml as we get closer to the show.
Many companies use Comic-Con to look for new talent. The Portfolio Review area in the Sails Pavilion offers an opportunity for attendees to get an honest evaluation of their work, and in some cases, to interview for actual jobs. In addition to the upstairs area, some companies will review portfolios at their booths in the Exhibit Hall. Check www.comic-con.org/cci/cci_portrev.shtml for more details.
It’s quickly become one of the busiest times of Comic-Con! Preview Night—Wednesday, July 22, from 6:00–9:00 pm —is open to four-day pre-registered members and professionals only. So hurry and register before memberships are sold out! Visit www.comic-con.org/cci/cci_reg.shtml Winter 2009 • Comic-Con Magazine 37
Comic-Con A to Z Professional Registration Professional registration for Comic-Con 2009 will be open from March 3 until May 1. Please note: because of overcrowding in the Convention Center, pro registration will be limited this year and there will be no onsite registration. All professionals must register online. Professionals on our mailing list should look for a letter in the mail by March 1 detailing how they can register online.
Programming The complete Programming schedule will be posted on www.comic-con.org ten days to two weeks prior to the show. We highly advise you to print it out and map your “course of action” at Comic-Con so you don’t miss those “must-see” panels and events. In addition, the website features a custom search function: You can type in a keyword and get a complete list of all the panels that feature your favorite things! The complete schedule is also detailed in the onsite Events Guide and posted daily on signs outside of all the Programming rooms. Please note: All event and program rooms have limited capacity as set by the Fire Marshal. Even though your membership badge is needed to get into all events, your badge does not guarantee you access to any event if the event has reached its capacity. Rooms are not cleared between events.
Registration Comic-Con was sold out of all memberships—four-day and single days—before the show even opened last year. We expect to sell out of all memberships for 2009 before July. No onsite membership badges will be sold, so we strongly urge you to register online now. Both four-day and single day memberships are currently available at www.comic-con.org/cci/cci_reg.shtml. Memberships and badges are non-transferable. All 4 Days: Adults: $75.00 Junior/Senior: $35.00 Single Days: Thurs: Adults: $25.00 Jr/Sr: $12.00
Sun: Adults: $20.00
Adults: $35.00 Jr/Sr: $15.00
Children 11 and under admitted free with PAID adult membership. Juniors are 12–17 years old and Seniors are 60 or more years old. Active military will pay the Junior/Senior price. This offer does not extend to dependents. Please note: Badges will NOT be mailed out in advance. All pre-registered badges will be available for pickup at Attendee PreRegistration in the San Diego Convention Center’s Sails Pavilion (Upper Level) beginning Wednesday, July 22. Memberships and badges are non-transferable.
Souvenir Book Each year, Comic-Con produces a special Souvenir Book that commemorates the event. Last year’s book, with an Alex Ross cover celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Legion of Super-Heroes, was a huge trade paperback featuring bios of all of the guests, plus special articles and art created in tribute to Comic-Con’s themes and anniversary celebrations. Best of all, the Souvenir Book is given free to all attendees (while supplies last), along with the separate show schedule magazine, the Events Guide. The big news this year is that the Souvenir Book is switching to FULL COLOR. That’s right, we said color, and we shouted it in all caps! And once again, as part of this amazing book, Comic-Con is soliciting articles and artwork from professionals and fans alike, based on the anniversaries and themes Comic-Con is celebrating this year (see the next entry for this year’s “Themes and Anniversaries”). This is your big chance to submit something for consideration in the book.* The deadline for contributions is April 20, 2009. With the upgrade to color, we’re happy to announce we will be accepting color art for consideration for the first time. For complete information on how to contribute, including file formats and technical information, please check www.comic-con.org/cci/cci_progbk.shtml *Due to space limitations, not all submissions can be featured in the book. Submitting an article or piece of art is not a guarantee that it will appear in the Souvenir Book.
Themes and Anniversaries Each year, Comic-Con celebrates a number of anniversaries and topics as special themes. Some of these special celebrations are a part of the event’s program schedule, while others are oriented toward tribute articles and art in the Souvenir Book. In 2009, Comic-Con marks the following special themes and anniversaries:
38 Comic-Con Magazine • Winter 2009
JULY 23—26 • PREVIEW NIGHT JULY 22 SAN DIEGO CONVENTION CENTER • 75th Anniversary of the Great Adventure Comic Strips
We’re not sure what was in the water in 1934, but it certainly brought about a watershed year for adventure comic strips in newspapers. Terry and the Pirates by Milton Caniff (pictured at left), Mandrake the Magician by Lee Falk and Phil Davis, Red Barry by Will Gould, and Alex Raymond’s three great strips Flash Gordon, Secret Agent X-9, and Jungle Jim all started in that amazing year, 75 years ago. And for good measure, you can throw in Al Capp’s Li’l Abner, too! Some of these strips are currently being reprinted in definitive versions in what has become the golden age of comic strip reprints, and these classics are being rediscovered by a whole new audience.
• 50th Anniversary of Green Lantern (Hal Jordan)
Hal Jordan first took on the Green Lantern ring and persona in Showcase #22, published in 1959. Co-created by writer John Broome and artist Gil Kane, along with legendary DC Comics editor Julius Schwartz, Green Lantern—revamped from the original Golden Age hero of the same name—went on to become one of comics’ most popular superhero characters.
• 50th Anniversary of Rocky and Bullwinkle
Hey, all you television animation fans! Here’s a fun anniversary being featured in the Souvenir Book: the 50th anniversary of America’s most beloved moose and squirrel, Rocky and Bullwinkle. Famed voice actress June Foray will be attending this year’s Comic-Con as a special guest, but here’s your chance to show your love for Rocky, Bullwinkle, Boris, and Natasha—and Jay Ward and cohorts—with articles and art for the Souvenir Book!
• 25th Anniversary of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
It’s hard to believe that it was 25 years ago that Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman created Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo, and Donatello, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Besides becoming a pop culture phenomenon in and of themselves (with movies, animated TV shows, toys, and merchandise in addition to the comics), the Turtles spawned a revolution in comics self-publishing. Now, 25 years later, it’s apparent these Turtles will live forever!
• 25th Anniversary of Usagi Yojimbo
Three-time Eisner Award–winner Stan Sakai has kept comic fans enthralled for 25 years with his tales of Usagi Yojimbo. Sakai’s rabbit ronin travels the countryside of Japan circa 17th century, encountering a variety of memorable characters, battling ninjas and samurai, and even going up against the supernatural. Don’t let the “funny animal” trappings fool you: Usagi is all warrior. With over 120 issues and more than 20 collections in print, Usagi appeals to readers of all ages.
• Comic-Con #40
Okay, technically it’s not our 40th anniversary—that would actually be in 2010. But it is the 40th annual convention, making Comic-Con International (first known as San Diego Comic-Con) the longest continually running comic convention in the country (if not the world). Started in 1970 by a group of dedicated fans of various persuasions— comics, science fiction, and movies, to name a few—the event has continued to grow over the years. Best of all it’s still run by fans! We’ll be revealing lots more about our plans for our very own celebration in the coming months and especially in the next issue of Comic-Con Magazine, including one very special item no diehard Comic-Con fan will want to be without! If you have a special Comic-Con memory, let us know about it by contributing a short article, photos, or even art commemorating it for consideration in this year’s special Souvenir Book! Check the website address listed in the Souvenir Book entry above for more information about contributing art and articles.
You can volunteer now for Comic-Con 2009! You attend the show for free by working a simple three-hour-per-day shift; the day you work is the day you get in for free. Those who work all four days get the limited-edition Comic-Con Volunteer T-shirt (each year’s is different and highly collectible). Volunteers must be at least 16 years of age. You can sign up online to volunteer for Comic-Con 2009 at www.comic-con.org/cci/cci_vol.shtml. Just follow the simple directions. If you’ve volunteered in previous years and wish to do so again, please register online for 2009.
It’s the first and last word on everything we do: Comic-Con International, WonderCon, and APE (Alternative Press Expo). Bookmark it for complete up-to-date information, including schedules, guest announcements and bios, and much more: www.comic-con.org, Comic-Con’s information superhighway! Sign up for the RSS feed to get notification of Comic-Con.org updates sent to your e-mail!
Look for an extended version of Comic-Con A to Z in our next issue, available in May! Terry and the Pirates © 2009 Tribune Media Services; detail from 1998 Green Lantern/Comic-Con T-shirt by Graphitti Designs, TM & © 2009 DC Comics; Usagi Yojimbo © 2009 Stan Sakai; 1980s Comic-Con logo art by Rick Geary
Winter 2009 • Comic-Con Magazine 39
Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards The Eisner Awards: Comic-Con’s Big Friday Night Event! The 21st annual Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, considered the “Oscars” of the comics industry, will be presented in a gala event on Friday night, July 24. You can expect celebrity presenters, a multimedia presentation, and lots of surprises! Several other awards will be part of the ceremony as well, including the Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award, the Bill Finger Award for Excellence in Comic Book Writing, and Comic-Con’s own Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award and Russ Manning Most Promising Newcomer Award. Submissions are currently being accepted for the Eisner Awards, with the deadline being March 13. More information on submission and a
downloadable PDF of the Call for Entries can be found at www.comic-con.org/cci/cci_eisners_main.shtml/ The judging panel will be meeting in late March, and the Eisner Award nominees will be announced in April. Ballots will then go out to professionals in the comics industry, including creators, editors, publishers, distributors, and retailers. Voters will also be able to cast their vote online. If you have questions about the awards, e-mail them to Eisner Awards administrator Jackie Estrada: firstname.lastname@example.org
2009 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards Judges The judging panel has been named for the 2009 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards. This blue-ribbon committee will be choosing the nominations to appear on the Eisner Awards ballot. The judges are: Amanda Emmert (formerly Fisher), owner of Muse Comics & Games in Missoula, MT, which opened originally as The Splash Page in 1996. Amanda has worked in comics retailing since she was 16. She is also the Communications Coordinator for ComicsPRO, the trade association for comic book retailers, which she helped to incorporate in 2004. In addition, she serves on the Free Comic Book Day Retailer Committee. Mike Pawuk, teen services public librarian for the Cuyahoga County Public Library. A lifelong fan of comic books and graphic novels, he’s been recognized as one of the leading librarians in the country on this medium. Mike was the chair for the 2002 YALSA all-day preconference on graphic novels, and he regularly does presentations for libraries on building graphic novel collections. He is the author of Graphic Novels: A Genre Guide to Comic Books, Manga, and More, published by Libraries Unlimited. Pawuk does graphic novel reviews for the IVC2.com popular culture website and is serving on the American Library Association’s Great Graphic Novels for Young Adults book selection committee. John Shableski, sales manager, Diamond Book Distributors. His main focus at Diamond is on the independent bookstore market and public and school libraries. He’s been a moderator and panelist at Book Expo and other trade shows, a guest speaker at library events and regional book shows, and a symposium coordinator. After a career in radio broadcasting and in marketing and advertising, he landed at book distributor Brodart Co., where, with librarian Kat Kan, he worked to develop their graphic novel program. He has been with Diamond since 2007. He is a regular contributing writer on the blog “Buzz, Balls and Hype,” where he posts columns on his perspective of the publishing world as “The Graphic Novels Guy.” Ben Towle, cartoonist and educator living in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Ben is known primarily for his work with SLG Publishing, including the recent historical fiction graphic novel Midnight Sun as well as his Eisner-nominated volume of comics folk tales, Farewell, Georgia. He’s taught cartooning and comics classes at schools and workshops across the country and is the co-founder of the National Association of Comics Art Educators. Ben is currently hard at work on a creator-owned story about turn-of-the-century Chesapeake Bay oystermen and on a biographical graphic novel about Amelia Earhart for Hyperion Books. Andrew Wheeler, marketing manager, John Wiley & Sons. Andrew went almost directly from Vassar College to the Science Fiction Book Club, in an attempt to avoid the real world entirely. He worked at the SFBC for 16 years, rejuvenating the moribund graphic novel program there and eventually overseeing the Altiverse program, which featured comics, media tie-ins, and similar books. After rising to senior editor at the parent company of the SFBC he moved on to Wiley. He has reviewed comics and manga for ComicMix.com.
Spirit Award 40 Comic-Con Magazine • Winter 2009
Nominate your favorite comics store for the Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award! Use the form on the next page to enter . . .
2009 CALL FOR NOMINATIONS The Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award, presented under the auspices of Comic-Con International: San Diego, is given to an individual retailer who has done an outstanding job of supporting the comics art medium both in the community and within the industry at large.
for nomination include: • Any retailer established in business for at least two years is eligible to be nominated. • Anyone—retailers, professionals, fans—may place a name in nomination. • A panel of industry judges selects a group of finalists to be subjected to an in-depth examination based on the award criteria. • Winners will be announced as part of the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards at Comic-Con International on Friday, July 24, 2009. • Previous winners are not eligible for nomination.
for judging include: • Support of a wide variety of innovative material. Providing opportunities for creators’ material to reach buyers; stocking a diverse inventory. • Knowledge. Working to stay informed on retailing as well as on the comics field. • Community activity. Promoting comics to the community; maintaining relationships with schools and libraries; keeping active in social, business, and arts community organizations. • Quality of store image. Innovative display approaches; using store design creatively. • Adherence to standard ethical business practices.
2009 SPIRIT OF COMICS AWARD NOMINATING BALLOT I place the following name in nomination for the 2009 Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award. I understand that only retailers whose business has been established for at least two years are eligible for nomination and that any nominees found not to adhere to standard ethical business practices will be disqualified. PLEASE PRINT OR TYPE
Retailer’s Name___________________________________________________________________________________________ Store Name_____________________________________________________________Store Phone #______________________ Complete Store Address_____________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________________ PROVIDE BRIEF STATEMENTS HOW YOUR NOMINEE EXCELS IN EACH OF THE FOLLOWING CATEGORIES. USE ADDITIONAL SHEETS IF NECESSARY.
Support of a wide variety of innovative material _________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________________________ Knowledge_______________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Community activity_________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Quality of store image______________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Additional comments_______________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________________
BALLOTS MUST BE RECEIVED BY APRIL 17, 2009 • Mail to: Spirit of Comics Retailer Award, c/o Comic-Con International, P. O. Box 128458, San Diego, CA 92112 or fax to: 619-414-1022 Winter 2009 • Comic-Con Magazine 41
BY Martin Jaquish Comic-Con Masquerade Coordinator
Tips for Presenting Your Costume on Stage So you’ve sent in your entry form, you have your costume just about finished, and it is time to plan how to show it off to its full potential. Your stage presentation can be half the fun and can make an average costume entry into a good one—or a good entry into an awesome show-stopper. When the audience sees a well-executed costume presented with style and inventiveness—perhaps with a bit of mood, drama, humor, story, or ”showbiz” flair added—the applause can be deafening. A good presentation also enhances your chances for a trophy or prize. Here are some basic tips on how to maximize the impact—and fun—of your presentation: Don’t just be a costume, be a character, too. The phrase “to masquerade” means portraying someone you are not, or at least concealing your everyday identity. There is a reason this event isn’t called a fashion show or simply a costume contest. The audience wants to see Batman stride across the stage as Batman would, alien monsters moving with eerie menace, epic villains projecting nuances of danger and conceit. Stay in character, or at least seek to create an ambience about you. Of course, if you are doing a humorous entry, anything goes. Music is an excellent way to enhance the mood for your costume. If what you are portraying doesn’t have some obvious musical theme, find something that fits. Your costume “soundtrack” might also include dialogue, sound effects, or narration. Some contestants have even composed their own music. Others do elaborate editing to customize music to fit their needs, but most simply bring something from their CD collection. Make your gestures larger than life. In the early days of movies, stage-trained actors soon found that their large movements and expressions, meant to be seen all the way to a theater’s back row, proved excessive for the intimate eye of the camera. A new style of acting for film evolved with subtle moves and expressions, but subtlety can be lost on a big stage. Think like a stage actor, not a film actor, and play to the entire room, not just the front rows. Photo: David Sakow
“Darth Maul” on stage at the 2008 Comic-Con Masquerade. Don’t over—or under—do it. Take enough time to show off your costume and have fun, but be careful not to overstay on stage or to exit too quickly. Don’t be the contestant who zips across the stage before anyone can really see the costume, and don’t be the entry that goes on and on and wearies the audience. Wise performers evaluate the amount of detail in their costumes and the content of their choreography and aim for a presentation that is just the right length. “Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse!” It’s an old showbiz adage, but when thousands of people are staring at your every move, arriving on stage is no time to be unsure of what to do. The Masquerade Information Pamphlet (downloadable at www.comiccon.org) lists the dimensions of the stage, so find a similar-sized area to practice your choreography. For groups this is a must, but solo entries can also benefit from being able to “work the stage” like a star. Comic-Con provides a practice stage, but don’t wait until you’re at the show to plan out your moves. And be sure to practice with the same shoes you’ll be wearing for the show! Don’t be shy. People have waited hours in line to see you! Don’t hide near the back curtain—move right up front. The stage
lights and spotlights can be somewhat blinding, the audience size daunting, but large fellows are on hand in front of the stage to warn you if you move too near the edge. Keep yourself front and center as much as possible, and the video cameras, judges, and audience will appreciate it. Details matter. Some contestants wear stage makeup appropriate to their costumes, including special wigs and facial appliances. These details can be picked up by the video cameras during close-up shots. A couple of professional makeup persons donate their time and talents backstage to assist costumers with their needs, but it’s always best to work out your makeup ahead of time. Come prepared. Attend the Comic-Con “Masquerade 101” panel, which presents not only an overview of the elements, history, and details of what goes on both on the stage and behind the scenes, but also provides handouts with many presentation tips, and some demonstrations of costuming tricks as well. And if you come to the “Masquerade Orientation” Saturday morning, you’ll learn even more handy tips, and Masquerade staff can discuss your presentation details with you personally. Winter 2009 • Comic-Con Magazine 43
Luigi Diaz AND Jennifer Maturo ONSITE VOLUNTEER CO-COORDINATORS Comic-Con would not be the incredible success it is without the involvement of the board of directors, the committee members, the office staff, and the large contingent of volunteers who help make the show happen. This issue we turn the spotlight on the brother and sister team of Luigi Diaz and Jennifer Maturo, who, along with Marc Wilson, coordinate ComicCon’s volunteer efforts onsite each year. CCM: What first brought you both to Comic-Con? Luigi: I saw a small ad in the local newspaper about the 15th anniversary of this odd thing called San Diego Comic Convention. As I was just getting into comic books, I thought, “Wow! A huge place where I can see comic books just like my grandpa and dad had.” Jennifer: My friends and I were looking for something to do one summer during summer vacation in high school that was different from our normal routine. I remembered it was something Luigi got involved in and a number of friends seemed to like it, so I thought I’d check it out. CCM: When did you start volunteering for Comic-Con? Luigi: Back in 1984, I started volunteering for Comic-Con pretty much the same way most people do today. My dad dropped me off at CPAC and was going to pick me up at 5 PM. I ran out of money ($60!) after being in the dealers’ room for an hour. Not wanting to go home to do my chores, I saw this sign saying “Volunteers.” I told myself, this looks fun and I’m old enough to do it, so why not? I haven’t left since. Jennifer: I started in 1991 as a daily volunteer. CCM: What do you do at Comic-Con?
44 Comic-Con Magazine • Winter 2009
Luigi manning the Volunteer desk at Comic-Con. He has also been a member of the Comic-Con board of directors. Luigi: I am currently one of the Volunteer co-coordinators for this wonderful show! Jennifer: And I’m also a co-coordinator for the Volunteer Department. CCM: Run us through your typical day at the show… Luigi: I usually get to the Convention Center around 6 AM to get the volunteer check-in areas up and running before the waves of volunteers start to show up. Once the morning rush is taken care of, I usually work on putting out the proverbial fires that tend to happen in the various Volunteer areas. I also try to go around to the other departments to see how the volunteers are doing, and if there is anything the other department heads might need. On the way back, I tend to poke my head into the Exhibit Hall from time to time. Jennifer: Where to start?! Once I get there, I
have a little pow-wow with an assistant to go over the “hot-spots” on the volunteer schedule board that I’ve designed. We map out a strategy on where to start first. We then divide and conquer the schedule with me concentrating on the larger of the needs. I also work with the rest of the departments regarding any and all changes to their needs, and deal with any last-minute additions. That’s pretty much the way my day goes from day to day of the show. I’m usually among the first people onsite at the Convention Center and get stuff set up for the rest of the volunteer department. Once things get going, I manage the desks that are involved with scheduling and assist the rest of the staff with whatever they may need. I’ve also been nicknamed the department “Mommy,” making sure everyone gets their breaks. I also work with the assignment check-in and tracking desk, which Marc Wilson superbly runs for our department. As far Photo: Rosaria Diaz
A look at the people who help make Comic-Con happen! as making it onto the Exhibit Hall floor, I’ve gotten better over the years and manage a couple of looks during the show. CCM: What kind of things at Comic-Con appeal to the fan in you? Luigi: When I was growing up, my grandpa and my dad both had very large comic book collections. My dad had a lot of war comics while my grandpa had a nice-sized collection from the ’30s and ’40s. Seeing other people enjoying the same thing that my family did makes me feel right at home. With all the variety of interests Comic-Con has to offer, it reminds me of my childhood. Jennifer: The fact that there are all sorts of programs and panels related to movies, television, sci-fi, and anime genres. I’ve never been much of a comic book reader, but you get me in front of a movie screen and I’m happy. I love that I can get the early scoop on things that I’m interested in or get the little guilty pleasures of merchandise that I covet during the rest of the year. Where else am I going to find a Serenity lunch box? CCM: What do you do in “real life”? Luigi: I work for the San Diego County Department of Child Support Services. With this job, I help other dedicated professionals secure money for families that receive court-ordered child support. It’s not a glamorous job, but I do it for the children. Jennifer: I am an assistant store manager for Starbucks. I am basically responsible for the daily operations in the front of the house at my store, making sure my people are where they are needed and that customers get the legendary customer service and a quality beverage in an expedient manner. It’s a bit of a whirlwind sometimes . . . especially making sure people get exactly what they want even though they’re not entirely sure what they want. CCM: Read any good comics or books (or seen any great movies or TV) lately? Luigi: I am currently trying to catch up with Marvel’s Secret Invasion and various Photo: Crystal Larson
Jennifer with her son, Drew, at Comic-Con. We’re pretty sure he worked a full 3-hour shift, too. DC titles. I’m a really big fan of 24, Heroes, Robot Chicken, Star Wars Galaxies—Bria Server, Discworld and “old school” (I really hate that term) anime, DC animation titles, and science fiction and comic book movies. I own about 7,000 action figures. But the most important thing right now is raising my newborn baby girl, Serena, into the popular arts with my wife, Rosaria. Jennifer: I had started reading the Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 8 comics, but life threw me some loops with the death of my father, deployment of my husband, and
birth of my son, Drew, so I fell behind. Once my husband returned, he got me a subscription to the comics that I’m trying to get back into. I am a huge, huge fan of Bones and House. My husband Peter and I also just got into Fringe and Legend of the Seeker (having been a great fan of Hercules and Xena). We also like to watch Heroes together. I wish I had time for more . . . but I seem to pull through and get my fix when I need it. You can volunteer for Comic-Con, too! Check the details on page 39. Winter 2009 • Comic-Con Magazine 45
What I’m Reading: COMICS
Mark Yturralde AND Bill Kahler
This issue we turn the keys to the “What I’m Reading” mobile over to those Amazing Race guys— and longtime Comic-Con volunteers—Mark Yturralde and Bill Kahler.
Meanwhile, mark says: I love comics. I love reading them, and rereading them. I have them stacked all over my office, the garage, my office at work, and at any given time they’re in my backpack, my backseat, and my trunk. There’s something I find visually appealing about a big stack of comics that just trumps the hell out of a big stack of anything else. Remember when Watchmen no. 12 finally came out, and you went and dug out the previous issues, and spent the whole day reading them twice before finally reading issue 12? Remember opening that book for the first time? Damn, I love comics. There are a lot of incredible non-tightswearing comics out there, and I read and enjoy a lot of it, but I really do love the straight-up superhero genre. As much as I love Criminal, Y: The Last Man, and books by artists such as Chris Ware, Peter Bagge, and Paul Pope, I’m going mainstream with my selections for this article. Green Lantern “The Emotional Spectrum” This storyline masterminded by Geoff Johns has been a long time developing, but it’s been worth it. Back in 2005, it was introduced in Green Lantern: Rebirth, and it’s continued through the “Sinestro Corps War” and the current “Blackest Night” storyline. It’s richly written and takes a lot of care to integrate as much of the past continuum, rather than ignore or rewrite it. It’s obvious (at least to me)
that this is a mythos Johns has a lot of personal affection for, and it really shows. Legion of Three Worlds Another Geoff Johns book, but this one plays to my long-standing weakness and adoration for all things Legion. It even manages to overcome my general distaste for SuperboyPrime, who I really wish would go away. This comes close to the Keith Giffen “Batch SW6” storyline, which is a Legion of Super-Heroes high-water mark in my humble opinion. Secret Invasion This is mega-crossover done right. They’ve obviously been setting this up a long, long time, and it’s paying off beautifully with excellent cross-continuity between books. Plus, Nick Fury is back, one of my all time favorite Marvel characters. Civil War was good, and certain high emotional points of it were excellent, but as far as it all tying together across the entire Marvel Universe, it didn’t work as well as Secret Invasion. This is Brian Michael Bendis at his best. Ultimate Fantastic Four The first comics I ever bought with my own money were Fantastic Four. They’ll always be my favorite team, and one of the reasons I didn’t like Civil War so much, is I didn’t like the direction they were taking Reed Richards. This new FF is so incredibly fresh and well done, though; they come very close to my love for the originals. The
first issue is one of the best characterizations of Reed ever, and making Sue Storm his intellectual equal is a welcome change. Thor If you aren’t reading Thor, you’re blowing it. This is the best superhero book out there. Every issue is better than the previous one. J. Michael Straczynski’s does an excellent job of dealing with arguably the most powerful character in the Marvel Universe, without defaulting to repetitive cosmic scale battles. All Star Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder I’m bucking popular opinion here apparently, but I like it a lot. ASB is about a badly traumatized control freak billionaire who takes an orphaned teenage circus acrobat and teaches him to jump off rooftops and fight crime. This is Batman how I’ve always imagined he should be, walking the fine line between hero and insane. Is this a Batman you’d want to hang out in the cave with? No. As far as the art, this is Jim Lee at his best, complementing Frank Miller’s writing to a degree few can match.
in his headquarters, high above the city, bill chimes in . . . Comics-wise I tend to be pretty picky. I like books with crisp dialogue, characters with emotions, and good pacing—and art that makes me want to go back and look at the book again after I’ve read the story. Not too much to ask, right? Right now, I’m doing a lot of catching up on old stuff I never got around to reading. I just finished reading the Whedon/ Cassaday Astonishing X-Men, for example. It’s probably heresy of me to say, but knowing that a book will get a collected volume tends to make me hesitant to grab the individual issues. (Please do not stone me.) Joss Whedon is an excellent wordsmith, and John Cassaday is a towering artistic talent. In other catch-up action, I’m currently reading through collections of DMZ and Y: The Last Man. I’ve got a real soft spot for post-apocalypse fiction, and both books tap into that nicely. 46 Comic-Con Magazine • Winter 2009
Photo: Robert Voets/CBS
What I’m Reading: SF/FANTASY
Bill Kahler AND Mark Yturralde BY
In addition to their comics-reading chops, both Bill and Mark are major science fiction fans. Here’s the hardcore evidence . . .
Later, bill reflects . . . Jasper Fforde, “Thursday Next” Series I’m only now starting The Well of Lost Plots, the third of Jasper Fforde’s series of “Thursday Next” novels, but I’ve had a great deal of fun with them so far. Fforde combines fantasy, alternate history, and the Gumby-esque idea of being able to travel into a book, then adds a generous helping of whimsy and imagination. The result is the story of Thursday Next, agent of SpecOps Department 27, specializing in Literary Crimes. Thursday’s world circa 1985 differs from our own in many ways: for instance, in her world, England’s military history hasn’t been as successful. England has been fighting the Crimean War for a century, and the country was temporarily occupied by Germany; Thursday lives in England, and not the United Kingdom. Also, technology has gone in different directions. As an example, scientists in Thursday’s world have re-created Neanderthals, dodoes, and mammoths, but they have yet to invent the jet engine. And literature is immensely more important to society: people rename themselves after famous authors, and there are militant followers of literary schools. In the first book, The Eyre Affair, we meet our heroine Thursday Next, a thirtysomething woman who has made a career in law enforcement. She’s found her way into SpecOps, a government agency dedicated to handling law enforcement duties too unusual for the regular police. One division deals with time travel; another, with vampires and werewolves. But SpecOps-27 is fairly humdrum, as SpecOps divisions go: Thursday spends her time apprehending
literary criminals such as forgers, fraudsters, and book thieves. While investigating the theft of the original manuscript of Dickens’ Martin Chuzzlewit, she learns that her uncle has invented a Prose Portal, a machine that lets a person travel into a book. The thief learns of the Prose Portal as well, and Thursday must chase him into Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. What I love about the Thursday Next novels is that they serve up an unrelenting stream of cleverness and fun. Fforde throws one bizarre idea after another at us: audience-participation performances of Richard III (think The Rocky Horror Picture Show), the Socialist Republic of Wales, and door-to-door proselytizers who hand out brochures supporting the idea that Francis Bacon wrote the works of Shakespeare. There are literary references aplenty—for those of you who took the right literature courses—but Fforde doesn’t write over the heads of those of us who didn’t. I’m glad that I’ve come across Thursday Next a little late—this way I get to read five books before I have to wait for the author to finish the next one. Fredric Brown: From These Ashes: The Short Science Fiction of Fredric Brown NESFA Press (“the publishing pseudopod of the New England Science Fiction Association”) has published many wonderful volumes of classic science fiction. Recently, I’ve been reading their Fredric Brown collection. Brown, who divided his time between detective fiction and science fiction, wrote most of his science fiction short stories during the 1940s and 1950s.
His tales are usually quite clever, and frequently extremely short. One of the stories is so short as to fit on the dust jacket of the book; another is a mere 222 words. Brown doesn’t spend a lot of time on characters and details and, well, padding: when he has an idea, he gets right to telling it to you. Many of Brown’s stories have a humor to them, though sometimes that humor can be cynical and dark. Because these are short, or even “short-short” stories, and because they frequently have a simple, brilliant idea at their core, you find yourself recognizing many of them even though you’ve never read them before. Maybe someone at dinner has mentioned “that story where they build the ultimate computer, and ask it if there is a God” (“Answer”). Maybe you’ve seen that episode of Star Trek where Kirk fights the lizard man (“Arena,” loosely based on Brown’s story of the same name). You’ll read them here and it will be like finally hearing the original song when all you’ve ever heard is the Weird Al parody. This is a huge book: nearly 700 pages. But with so many stories being so short, it’s nice to be able to pick up the book from time to time and read a story or three, then set it back down. It’s like having a tasty little literary treat.
From his secret lair outside town, mark muses. . . Last Call By Tim Powers—Why this isn’t a movie yet, I just don’t understand. Powers writes complicated and multi-threaded plots better than anyone, and does so here to exceedingly good effect. The Dreaming Void by Peter Hamilton—Hamilton accomplishes a rare feat, and creates a rich, vivid universe I wish I lived in. The technology never overshadows the story, which can so often happen in these far future space operas. TH1RTE3N by Richard Morgan—Morgan’s noir techno-thriller style never lets me down. I can’t just idly read a Richard Morgan book, I need to set aside a day. Because I know once I start, I ain’t moving until I’ve finished it. Photo: Robert Voets/CBS
Winter 2009 • Comic-Con Magazine 47
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Art by Sergio Aragonés, colored by Tom Luth. © 2009 Sergio Aragonés.
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