Thursday, July 21, 2011

Comic-Con 2011 - Day One

Comic-Con 2011 - Day One
The first day of the convention is over.  I feel like I've been here for a week and that Sunday is a year away.  
I went to four panels today.  Two were related to writing.  Two were related to more fannish interests.  
The first of the two writing panels was entitled, "Putting the Epic back into Epic Fantasy," and featured a who's who of classic fantasy writers.  The most noteworthy was George R. R. Martin, writer of Game of Thrones, but there was also Brandon Sanderson (The Way of Kings), Patrick  Rothfuss (The Name of the Wind), Christopher Paolini (The Inheritance Cycle), Peter Orullian (The Unremembered), K. J. Taylor (The Fallen Moon Series) and Kevin J. Anderson (Terra Incognita).  The panel was moderated by Michael Spradlin, writer of the Youngest Templar series.  
The panelist discussed what made "Epic Fantasy," epic.  The replies ran the gamut from  the belief that "epics" are the stories which societies have used to sustain themselves to  the idea that it is merely a marketing category used by publishers.  There was some talk as to whether the term 'epic' referred to the size of the either the story being told of the book containing the story.  The panel seemed to generally agree that a lot of what made a story 'epic' was the degree to which the reader was immersed into a particularly world.  
While listening, I came to the idea that epics are stories that give the reader a sense of immortality.  We see the grand scope of the story's history either by literally following a story that could take years, or even decades, to tell, or by dealing with characters whose sense of history, even personally history, can stretch across the ages.  
The most interesting tidbit about craft from the panelist was about Kevin J. Anderson, who writes his novels by dictating them while mountain climbing.  If I tried writing a story by that method, I would only be able to get a short short story out, which would read, "AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH....  Thump."  
The second panel I went to was entitled, "Books vs. Graphic Novels & Comics."  The panelists included Christopher Moore (The Griff), Jim Butcher (The Harry Dresden Series), Tom Suiegoski (The Fallen series), Amber Benson (who appeared on Buffy: The Vampire Slayer as Tara and writes The Calliope Reaper Jones novels) and Matthew Holms (Babymouse and Squish).  David Mariotte of Mysterious Galaxy moderated.  
The panelists talked about the differences between writing novels and writing scripts for visual story-telling, such as graphic novels and comics.  Having written both fiction and comic book scripts myself, a lot of what they said was familiar to me.  They spoke about how the approach is different.  In writing fiction, you are relying on the readers to essentially cast, clothe and stage the action in their heads.  Often you are not trying to give them a specific detailed description of what is happening, but one that is more emotionally based.  For comics and graphic novels, you are writing for one person, the artist, and you want to be as detailed as necessary for him or her to 'get' what you are trying to convey.  The collaborative nature of writing for visual story-telling was brought up, where you have the artist you are working with to help support the project, and compared with fiction writing, where the author is entirely responsible for how the final product turns out.  
The last two panels were both in Hall H, which is one of the big presentation rooms at the newest end of the convention center.  It was only the second time I've been in Hall H, which has its own "exclusive" food stand where you could buy snacks and drinks without leaving the hall.  It's one of the rooms were they often have sneak previews of new movies and TV shows, and they don't want people leaving until after the presentation is over, I guess.  
It was here that I found out that some of Frank Frazetta's original artwork will be on display tomorrow at the convention.  Robert Rodriguez of Quick Draw Productions, which had produced the adaptation of Frank Miller's Sin City, and who is a fan of Frank Frazetta's work, announced that ten original classic Frazetta paintings, including Death Dealer, Swamp Demon, The Snow Giants, and A Princess of Mars will be on display at the convention.  It is to promote the opening of a new museum to open in San Antonio, Texas dedicated to Frank Frazetta's work and a movie Quick Draw Productions is producing based on the late artist's paintings.  I've been a fan of Frazetta's since I bought my first Adventures of Tarzan novel, the black covered paperbacks that Ballantine Press published, each of which featured a separate Frazetta painting on its cover.  You have to send an email to an address they gave out to receive a reply with the viewings location.  
The last panel I saw came right after the Quick Draw Productions event.  It was a discussion with Jon Favreau, who directed the Iron Man movies, Hellboy and the new feature, Cowboys & Aliens, and Guillermo del Toro, who produced Pan's Labyrinth.  They both discussed movies they are currently working on, their inspirations and their friendship.  You could tell from listing to them that they are both 'fanboys' who got the chance to do what they loved doing.  They both seemed remarkably friendly and fun individuals.  Guillermo del Toro gave out an email for people to use if they wanted to have a tour of his current production and have "coffee and donuts" (and before you ask, I forgot the email address).  Favreau is premiering "Cowboys and Aliens" at the convention as his way of saying thank you to the fans.  It was a fun panel.  
And now, it's time for me to get to bed before I fall to the floor and sleep right there.


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