Wow you guys, so much to talk about! Last week was my first (and most likely last) real vacation of the year. We still have a few three-day weekends planned here and there, but no more week-long adventures.
I’m trying to decide what to cover first – the trip to Oregon Shakespeare Festival where we saw an AMAZING piece of theatre – or the three EPIC days spent at Emerald City Comic Con.
Well, I guess since I teased the ECCC last Friday with my little place holder post I’ll start with that and circle back around to Oregon Shakes next week, because I really want to give both of them their due.
So much happened that I’m going to break the wrap-up into two posts! Without further ado, here is PART ONE:
ECCC started Friday afternoon and ran through the early evening on Sunday. We had only just gotten back from Oregon Thursday night after a particularly difficult drive (apparently Thursday was THE day to get into an accident on I-5NB – we chose not to join the fun, but had to put up with everyone else who did) so the wife and I were more than happy that the festivities weren’t set to get underway until 2pm because it meant that we could SLEEP.
We rolled up to the convention center Friday afternooon and immediately set about getting the lay of the land. There was some decent cosplay this first day, but overall the show floor was relatively subdued, as though everyone was saving their energy for what was certain to be an intense weekend. We met and spoke with some terrific artists who were selling their wares, and decided after a couple of circuits of the floor to check out a couple of panels.
The first panel we sat in on was The Art of the Whedonverse and featured Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 and 9 lead artist Georges Jeanty, inker Andy Owens and amazing cover artist Phil Noto. The panel was moderated by Dark Horse PR director Jeremy Atkins, but really it was Georges who held court. They had a PowerPoint of “sketch to ink” from several recent Buffy Season 9 books, which was neat. It was also almost a relief to see that even professional artists can sketch horribly compared to the final product where they put all of their effort. Especially Phil Noto – you would never have thought that a guy who makes a career out of drawing photo-real covers would sketch like a 9-yr old, but it made me feel better somehow to know that he does.
They were focused on the artwork and not the story structure, therefore questions were limited to the art – which was fine, but I’m sure that I wasn’t the only one burning to ask questions about the most recent issue of B:tVS Season 9 such as “DUDE, WTF??!” Instead, I asked how difficult it was to draw Sarah Michelle Gellar’s nose, let’s face it, she has a unique nose. Georges stated that as long as you knew the character on the page was Buffy, it didn’t really matter how accurate the nose was. I agreed, but countered that too much emphasis on the proboscis lent itself to caricature and was frankly distracting whereas inattention led to questioning the character’s authenticity. Georges stated that Joss said he didn’t want an exact representation of SMG, but rather a believable Buffy. I pointed out that while Buffy and SMG are definitely two very different people (the one a character, the other a person) that it is Sarah’s visage that we associate with the Buffy identity, so some semblance of recognition is necessary.
Finally, Phil Noto stepped in (he clearly understood where I was going, whereas Georges seemed more on the defensive) and answered that for him, drawing SMG as Buffy was the most stressful of all of the actors because he knew that he had to be “extra careful” with her features. All of the actors get final approval of their artwork, so if Sarah didn’t like it, she could reject it. Fortunately, she was thrilled with Phil’s work, reportedly saying that his was the best she’d ever seen and now he has to draw all of the covers that feature Buffy (which basically means ALL of the covers).
Thank heavens for Phil, otherwise I would have gotten seriously frustrated with this panel because when I boiled it down afterwards, I realized it was 90% Georges complimenting himself.
After the Whedonverse panel wrapped, we moseyed down to the signing area and were fortunate enough to catch Adam Baldwin (Jayne from Firefly) and Lea Thompson (Back to the Future) while there was a lull in line traffic. Adam presents himself as a nice guy and indeed he was very nice to me. I know that there has been some friction of late between him and Wil Wheaton over in the Twitterverse, but I’m not going to comment on it beyond stating that I disagree with Adam’s position in the argument and leave it at that. However, that being said, when dealing with fans and autograph seekers, Adam was respectful, appreciative and polite.
It is rare that I am star struck. Very rare. I grew up in a family of entertainment industry pros, and rubbing elbows with celebrities came with the territory. As a result, meeting a celebrity for me is more “neat” than “Whoa”. Even when I met Jimmy Fallon in NYC by surprise I wasn’t struck dumb by his presence. Rather, we enjoyed a little casual banter before he and his friends had to leave. So, you would think that meeting Lea Thompson would also be “no big”. I thought it would be “no big”, then it turned out to be “Big” and I wasn’t prepared.
Lea Thompson is super-dee-duper nice, and incredibly gracious. I walked up to her table and paid for my autograph and handed over the 8×10 and then went stupid. I went totally stupid. I just stared at her. I had told her assistant what I would like her to sign and as result had given up my lead-in to a conversation. Lea threw me a bone by asking me to confirm my request and I managed to stammer out something like “Yes, I have this blog and it’s based on people not knowing me and … heh….” Then she said something like, “That’s cute”, and happily signed a way while I continued to STARE AT HER LIKE A DUMBSTRUCK IDIOT.
I was frantically trying to remember what the name of her sitcom in the 90’s was because I was trying to think of something she had done more recently than Back to the Future, and no one in their right mind would have said, “I LOVED you in Howard the Duck” so I just continued to stand there while she finished signing and a light sheen of sweat formed on my brow. Then she handed me the signed photo and said, “Thanks, Jen Tidwell , it’s great to know you!”
Somehow, by the grace of the cosmic muffin in the sky, I managed to squeak out a thank you, and then said something utterly lame like, “I hope you have a great con. Don’t get writer’s cramp” and suddenly it was over and we were walking away. My wife snapped me out of my stupor by saying, “Oh my gosh, she was SO NICE! She looks so young in person. Her photos don’t do her justice” and I gratefully came back to reality. I still don’t know what happened back there. I’ve never been a super fan of hers, I’ve never had a crush on her (still don’t), and I can’t think of any reason why she would have star struck me. Maybe she just has a powerful aura or something (if you believe in that kind of thing).
Oh, and the name of the sitcom she was on was “Caroline in the City”… which I finally remembered two days later.
After the fiasco that was me getting Lea’s autograph, I was more than happy to settle in for another panel. This was a spotlight panel on Robert Kirkman, creator of (most notably) The Walking Dead comic, and executive producer on the T.V. series. There was no moderator, just the man himself. He is extremely personable and very quick witted, and held command of the room easily. The only request he made of us in earnest was that we try not to spoil the Season 2 finale for folks who hadn’t seen it yet. Only one questioner utterly failed at this simple directive, and the poor girl was met with the ire of an entire room, I felt bad for her, but was glad it wasn’t me.
I, on the other hand, garnered cheers and applause for my question which was this, “Based on the death of a certain character can we hope for more development of Lori’s character so that we understand WHY Rick loves her?” Seriously, if you follow the show you know what I’m talking about. However, I can’t take credit for coming up with the question. It was my friend Tanya’s question, which I asked on her behalf. So Tanya, take pride in knowing that everyone agrees with you (including me) – and apparently including Robert Kirkman, too, because he stated that yes, there will be more development for Lori and the Lori/Rick relationship. I followed up Tanya’s question with my own, “Can we expect the characters to be more PROACTIVE as opposed to reactive with the zombie threat?” To which he said that we, as viewers, “can expect a shift in the way things are handled.” Which I guess means yes. Only a noncommittal yes. Which is fine.
That wrapped up Day One for us. Stay tuned for Days Two and Three!
In the meantime, here is some of the cosplay action from Friday that we managed to capture on camera:
Stay tuned for the Wrap-Up Part 2!