Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Lines and Loathing at New York Comic Con Pt 2

Before I begin, let me just say...

Internet, you filthy bastard, you've finally won.  Despite my overall reservations with doing so, I finally broke down and set up a Twitter.  That's right, now I have two means to shamelessly whore my work onto the unsuspecting of the web (...who am I kidding?  Nowadays no one is unsuspecting on the web.)

So yeah, to anyone who's actually using it, look for me at https://twitter.com/guyinthe3rdrow if you feel so inclined.

If not...well, hey, chances are I'm plugging this to you by some other means anyway...


Part the Second - SATURDAY -Or
'Maybe Sartre Was Right'

OK.  I'm gonna try and keep the bulk of my grievances until the third and final part...but given many of the problems started up today, well...things ARE gonna start getting touched on here.

That said, the start of the day was largely pretty good - rather than going onto the Show Floor, we spent much of the early part of the day checking out The Block - a smaller area set aside for companies with less prominent features.  Actually, that really helped here, as there were considerably fewer people to have to wade through as a result of that.  Also learned of a couple of pretty cool groups advertised there, including a table for IFC and an NY-based group that specializes in hunting down old vintage or out-of-print novels for resale (and in some cases, trying to reacquire the copyrights to reprint them for modern readers.)  In terms of areas of the con, this was probably one of the most pleasant, and even the vendors here were a lot more talkative and friendly (not to say the guys on the show floor weren't, but they were also a lot busier thanks to the crowds.)

From there, we headed to the first panel of the day - a promotion for the website Viki.  They're a video streaming service that largely focuses on Asian film and television with translations that seems to be recently working on making steps into the American market (their primary demographic is still SouthEast Asia.)

It was this or we try to get a pic during the episode itself...this is less likely to irritate con security.

In this case, they were promoting their latest licensing acquisition, which is a pretty impressive coup for its reputation, the 1970s classic Rose of Versailles.  For those not familiar with the title, this is considered one of the most influential shoujo (girl targeted) anime out there, so much so that it's a cross-demographic hit that really had a resonating cultural impact.  So getting that released over here is a pretty big moment.   Additionally, the panel was overseen by Dr. Susan Napier, one of the major academic voices that's helped allow anime to find its footing the US.  This was especially useful since she really helped explain why this show is considered such a classic and why some elements of it remain relevant even today (for those wondering, the story concerns the heir of a French noble who, despite being born a girl, he raises as a son.  As she grows up, she is appointed a royal guard in the court of Marie Antoinette, in a story that plays out over the backdrop of the French Revolution.)  Overall, it was a pretty damn informative panel, though I do have one complaint with it, though that was less a fault of the panel and more where it was held.  Showing us the subtitled first episode in advance for a show that they officially start showing in December - very cool way to raise interest.  Showing it in a small room where anyone from rows 4 back will only be able to see parts of the subtitles through the sea of heads... ...less cool.  Based on visuals alone, however, I am interested in looking into this.  It also helps that I'm a sucker for the classics.  Which is why I was even further pleased to learn they apparently plan to continue to try and acquire and stream more classics alongside this.  To that end, if you have any interest, look up their site even now.  Though the show doesn't really get rolling for another few months, I think the first episode is still up and they have a lot of other interesting material to go through as well, all free.

Now here's where the grievances begin.  At this point, we had hoped to try and check out the IGN theater, where they were offering a look at the upcoming updates of Carrie and The Evil Dead.  I know, normally I'm iffy on remakes, but I am curious to hear where these go, especially given the latter is still being overseen by Sam Raimi.  Of course, the catch was being able to get into the theater...that was...somehow, calling it folly seems like the nice way to put it.  You see, for those who haven't been there before, the IGN theater is where THE major events of NYCC are held.  In particular on this day was the promotion for the third season of The Walking Dead.  What did this amount to?  People had been waiting since roughly midnight the night before to get in... ...and stay in... ...and stay in.

Rather than show you the proverbial huddled masses, please enjoy this more open air/access promotion they'd set up outside for the third season.

In short, the theater was full from roughly 9 AM that morning.  There was a line of people waiting in futility for a chance to get in, to the point where con staff were stationed outside informing people the IGN theater was full.  Now, to their credit, they did try to meet people halfway on this by streaming the panel outside the theater for those who couldn't get in.  Unfortunately, between a seating system they hadn't worked out and the fact the room right outside the theater is something of an echo chamber...this was kind of a problem.  So we begrudgingly called the IGN a loss and decided to check out some of the other panels.

(I'll be coming back to the IGN shenanigans in part 3 more.)

So, instead of the Carrie-Evil Dead panel, we went to the announcement of comic writer Garth Ennis's latest project.  Now, in light of his work on such various and rather shocking comics as Preacher, The Boys, and Crossed, people wondered what this announcement would be.

There wasn't a lot for visual aids to this one.  This was prettymuch just a cool q&a with Ennis.  Then again, with the focus being on Crossed, would you guys have really wanted to see some of the images they could put together for it?

...and to my surprise (and partial horror) the announcement was this - Ennis has secured the rights to do filmed adaptations of his comic Crossed.

For those not familiar with the comic, I will say this - even for Ennis, this one's not for the faint of heart.  The series concerns an epidemic a la the Rage Virus in 28 Days Later.  However, rather than simply being turned into berserkers, the virus in Crossed turns people into ruthless sadists.  They don't just kill, they torture, rape, and carry out actions with express intent of infecting others.  It's a virus with a sense of malice.  Which is why I was surprised that this was the work Ennis was going ahead with filming.  The initial project will be a series of R-rated webisodes, with a subsequent unrated DVD release at the end of each season of 6 episodes.  The end goal of this project will eventually be a feature film adaptation written and directed by Ennis himself.  When that will be remains to be seen, as filming of the webisodes doesn't start until next spring.  Additionally, despite trusting the title to others for some time now, Ennis has announced he will be coming back for a subsequent run on the series in the near future, in helping write a backstory on the 'Patient Zero' that started the whole outbreak.

Appropriately, Dale's face here pretty well sums up my initial response to the announcement.

After outlining the project, Ennis opened the floor to q&a, which lent itself to some interesting insights to him and his work in general.  Alongside questions of his stance on superheroes (as he puts it, he doesn't hate them, but he does feel they have "a chokehold on the comics industry") he answered questions about plans to adapt his other two main titles (both Preacher and The Boys remain optioned out, but as it stands, no plans have been made for them.)  Alongside discussion of his views of the industry and future plans (he MAY take a shot at writing prose sometime, but he still plans to mainly stay with comics,) questions about specific elements of his past works came up.  Of these, two stood as highlights.  The first was what started as a joking question about the vampire character Cassidy (from Preacher) and his reaction to the current view of vampires.  This lead to Ennis discussing how Cassidy himself was based on the vampires in the movie Near Dark, and how he felt there was a tendency in recent horror to try and humanize monsters (Crossed itself being a partial response to this movement.)  The second regarded the origins of two of the infamous Section 8 heroes Ennis created for the comic Hitman.  Most notably, the creepy hero turned web meme Bueno Excellente (pictured below for those not familiar with him.)  In this case, he started as the result of being at the bar with friends hanging out when one mentioned a horror film (Ennis can't remember the name) where one character repeatedly responded to things with phrases like "Bueno" and "Excellente."  The phrases stuck, and eventually formed into a name...and from there spiraled into, in Ennis's own words "a sweating pervert with a 36" erection."

In the immortal words of Crow T. Robot: "SEE YOU IN YOUR NIGHTMARES!"

Overall, while it was no IGN theater, it was still a pretty fun panel to be at, and Ennis has gotten me interested in checking out more of his work through discussing it (so much so that I've been binging on The Boys lately.)  So, despite my initial "OH GOD WHY?" on reading it, I might give his Crossed webisodes a go when the time comes.

From there, and because it was nearby, we decided to pay Mr. Mignola a second visit for his panel regarding the upcoming comic Hellboy in Hell.  I was pleasantly surprised with the format here.  As they set it up, they only intended to talk a small sales pitch, then let fans ask their questions to make up the bulk of the panel.

Again, they didn't give us a lot of visual aid to work with here...though they gave us some great discussion.

This actually lead to a lot of interesting info that otherwise wouldn't have come up in a straight sales pitch.  Though the pitch did make some interesting reveals (Hellboy in Hell starts in December, for the record.  Alongside that, several past characters will be returning in other stories, including fan favorite crime fighter-cum-thorn in the Nazis' side, Lobster Johnson.)  Among things that were discussed in fan questions were questions of influence (while Mignola says he has no specific influences, he does admit to something of a soft spot for Norse mythology and being inspired by painters more than comic artists) to future plans for both Hellboy as well as other creations.  In the latter case, Mignola has said that The Amazing Screw-On Head will not be returning at any point.  Not out of any sense of dislike so much as he simply feels he's done all he can with the idea.  In the case of other Hellboy-related tie-ins, he currently has heard no word about plans for a third beyond the fact he's up for it and he knows Ron Perlman is up for it whenever Del Toro wants to make it happen.  To this end, as far as he knows, there will be no word on another animated Hellboy movie unless another prominent Hellboy-related release comes up for it to tie into.  A lot of the q&a actually went into the creative process behind the Hellboy/BPRD world and Mike and the other artists all offered some interesting insights into it (things like Hellboy's death had been loosely planned, but there was no set timeline - the pieces simply fell into place and how they're trying to avoid making their version of Hell bear resemblance to any popularized versions of Hell out there.)

In closing, they did also address the question of talks about Mignola's Joe Golem novel being adapted into a movie (it has been optioned with Alex Proyas attached to write and direct...which I have to say, should prove interesting.)  The last question of the panel being when someone asked if Hellboy had in fact been in Hell before - they pointed out the comic in question was actually done as a joke and didn't really hold much bearing over the main canon.

Honestly, next to the Legendary panel, I think this was one of my favorites of the weekend - even if it did remind me just how far behind in reading Hellboy I've been (working on that.)  The team were all informative and offered some interesting takes on where the series is going as well as their creative insights that lead to things that have happened now.  While Mike will always be known as the main force (though he was somewhat held back for a 7 year stretch there) it's good to know the Hellboy/BPRD series have been in some great hands alongside his as well.  Just hearing them all talk about this world they've all added to, I look forward to getting caught up.

Plus, got to meet Mignola a second time.  He really is a nice guy.

From here, we called it a night again...well...a night after a nice ramen dinner, a public transport clusterfuck and my guts racing Hellboy to Hell (and based on Mignola's estimates, getting there way before him.)  But that's not really con-related, so that's not a story I'll bore you with.

Keep an eye out tomorrow for the final chapter of Lines and Loathing At New York Comic Con
COMPLAINTS AND GRIEVANCES (or 'Where the Hell Are the Lines and Loathing?  You Said There'd Be Lines and Loathing!')

In closing, I leave you with this image from outside the con that day.
Boba's life was never the same after that Sarlacc incident...

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