Monday, July 24, 2006

Con Job!

I just got back from the San Diego Comic Con International where I had an awesome time. This one had some of the best panels I've been to in a while, all thanks to Mark Evanier. Each year he does the Jack Kirby tribute panel and you know, pretty much you hear the same things said each year, but this year was different for two reasons. First, Mark had Jack's lawyer there and showed first the Johnny Carson Tonight Show clip where he called Jack the "King of the Con Men" and then the clip from a week later when Carson made his only known apology on the air. Great stuff all that.

The second reason was another seemingly odd panelist choice: Neal Adams. As some of you may know, I had a run in years ago with Neal where he screwed me over pretty good and forever tarnished how I feel about the guy as a person, so I was a little apprehensive when I saw he was going to be on the panel. Mark always asks the question, "What was your first impression of Jack Kirby's art." Neal gave what even Evanier said was most likely, "the best answer to that question I have ever heard." It was a 5-10 minute soliloquy on Jack Kirby's artwork that was amazing in how it encapsulated about 20 years of Jack's career and the impact of his art on comics and on other artists. It was well thought out and passionately delivered. Neal even dropped the F-bomb when discussing how DC had treated Jack. It was amazing.

The second extraordinary panel was the John Romita Sr. spotlight; just Mark and John talking. You go to enough cons and you hear enough artists speak and you rarely hear something new about the business, but Romita delivered information and insight into the comics of the 60s, 70s and 80s that I have never heard from anyone before. Yeah, I'd heard about his first Daredevil pages and how Stan Lee made him look at Kirby books and start over because he just didn't get how to do superhero comics.

But I hadn't heard about how he ended up loving Daredevil and wanted to stay on the book and make it one of the lines biggest and how upset he was when Stan pulled him off the book to draw Spider-man. I'd never heard how terrified of Spider-man he was and I'd never heard Mark's insight that in retrospect, given the artists at Marvel at the time and how few of them Stan Lee trusted, Romita was the only guy at Marvel who could have taken over Spider-man when Steve Ditko quit.

And I'd never heard anyone talk about the disappointment the people at Marvel felt when they discovered that the new batch of young artists they had been grooming for years to take over the company were really not interested. Romita was shocked when Barry Smith quit Conan; his generation would never have left steady income like that. And Romita was doubly shocked when they offered The Fantastic Four to Jim Starlin and he said, "No thanks." It was unheard of to turn down the best-selling book in a company if it was offered to you.

And I'd never heard anyone at Marvel admit that they were giving books out to artists that had no right doing books; artists that were years away from being ready and artists that would never be ready because they simply were not good enough.

There was even more from Romita, but I'll leave it at that. That was the two best comics panels I saw at SDCC.

I also sat in on the Veronica Mars panel and my god is Kristen Bell adorable. We learned that season three will have three mysteries, not one, and that they will run one after the other. Obviously they are doing this in case they get the ax mid-season. They will be following the Gilmore Girls and need to keep the GG audience.

I didn't spend much money and I didn't buy any art, though I was tempted. I did pre-order the new James Bama book that is coming out in October and will feature all of the Doc Savage covers and many of the reference photos for the Docs. It covers all of Bama's artwork, commercial and otherwise including the Aurora monster kits, movie posters and the like. The special edition also comes with an hour-long documentary on Bama that I saw about five minutes of during a panel and which looks amazing.

The only downside to the con was my wife once again looking at the prices on silver age books and asking me which ones are in my collection. She is seeing dollar signs everywhere. Bummer.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Is All Garbage Sacred?

Now that President Bush has legitimized through veto the sanctity of one type of garbage (embryos slated to be thrown in the trash), will he be protecting all forms of garbage? Certainly he is telling us all that our lives are worth less than garbage. And some people still support this nut job.