Ed Goes to New York Comicon 2011

The following post was originally published in 4 parts on Ed Morrissey’s blog on the Greenwich Library website called, appropriately enough, Ed’s Blog. It has been edited for inclusion here. Ed attended all 4 days of Comicon, which was held at the Jacob Javits Center from Thursday Oct. 13th through Sunday Oct. 16th.  Below he shares his thoughts and some of the cool things he found.

Well, I’m doing it again!I’m attending all four days of this year’s New York Comic Con at the Javits Center.

On Thursday I attended four different programs related to libraries.  We went through the history of graphic novels and how eventually they’ll be available in both hard copy and digital form.  Also got great tips on expanding video game collections, how to promote Gaming Day next month, and how to build up your graphic novel collection.  Then, around 4 pm, the Dealers’ Tables opened up and boy, there was a lot of stuff.  (Since I was on a budget, I only got this collection.)

On Friday,  mostly due to the fact that the programs I wanted to go to (like this one) were filled, I went to this event and found out what’s coming out later this year and next from the likes of Elizabeth Moon, Naomi Novik and Scott Westerfeld, as well as the upcoming graphic novel adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones.  And I got to attend a talk with Captain America co-creator Joe Simon (who just turned 98!).  You’ll have to read his new autobiography to find out how an ice cream sundae gave him the idea for Cap’s archfoe The Red Skull back in 1940.

On Saturday, October 15th, I arrive for the third day of the New York Comic Con. My plan is to attend more panels than I did the day before, but things don’t quite work out that way. Unlike the two previous days, nearly everybody in the tri-state area, plus the other 47 ones, is here.  Most of them are garbed as their favorite comic/video game/fantasy novel/film character, and while the costumes look terrific, I wish some of them didn’t include carrying  pseudo sidearms or swords.  Those things, even if they’re plastic, hurt when you’re pressed against them in a crowded exhibition hall.
Anyway, undeterred by the crowd, I managed to make my way to the DC Comics Panel at noon (the line started up around 10am) to hear about upcoming story lines in DC’s “New 52” comics reboot.  Several of the writers and artists of those books (which include Justice League, Aquaman, The Flash, Wonder Woman and the (now) Savage (!) Hawkman) spoke about what’s coming up with these characters (like Wonder Woman’s upcoming newly revised -again!- origin) while a slide show projected pages, either completed or struck from pencil breakdowns, and covers of future issues.

Cover of DC Comics The New 52 #1, July 2011. (courtesy of DC Comics)

The art was nice, but comics (books, graphic novels and newspaper strips) work best when you can understand what’s going on without necessarily looking at the word balloons or captions (which do otherwise serve an important function in telling the story).  The examples I saw looked more like prospective promotional posters.  And it was tough figuring out who did what to whom in the panels seen on the pages.  Lots of shading and blacks, as well as bright colors are (over)used, I’d guess to create “mood” or something, but there’s no sense of actual storytelling, just a lot of busy stuff.  And don’t get me started on the anatomy or forced perspective. (Or, for that matter, this guy, of all people, now being depicted as wearing armor!)

Later that day I attended a panel hosted by  Hermes Press on the upcoming Dark Shadows movie.  Based on the 1966-71 TV series that I’d run home from school to watch every afternoon (and which the library carries on DVD), Dark Shadows is now being turned into a big-budget motion picture due out next year directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp.  Hermes Press is currently reprinting the 1968-1976 comic book series, plus a new novel by DS regular Kathryn Leigh Scott, who appeared with fellow cast member Lara Parker (the latter on Skype) to reveal as much as they could about the new film.  (Among other things, both ladies as well as  fellow original cast members Jonathan Frid and David Selby will be making cameos in the new film, and that a restored “Director’s Cut” of the 1971 spin off film Night of Dark Shadows -with Parker, Selby and Kate Jackson, directed by series creator Dan Curtis-  will be released on DVD six months after the new film’s release!)

Jonathan Frid as the vampire Barnabas Collins in the original Dark Shadows

The crowds got bigger and bigger and so did the lines.

Sunday the 18th was the last day of the NY Comic Con.  I managed to squeeze in two panels before hightailing it home that afternoon.  My first port-of-call was the Mad magazine panel, which featured editor John Ficarra and veteran artist Al Jaffee (who just turned 90! Reserve his book Mad Life from us), as well as MadTV producer Kevin Shinick, who brought video clips from the show, which airs on Cartoon Network Monday nights.