As I trudged to the convention center in the morning, I noticed the usual crush of hired guns foisting advertisements wasn’t in full effect yet. (But no worries, they’d be crowding the streets by lunchtime.)
10:00 “Spark of Imagination” Panel
- Tony DiTerlizzi (Planescape, Spiderwick Chronicles)
- Travis Knight (lead animator, Coraline)
- Mike Mignola (Hellboy)
- John Stevenson (Kung Fu Panda)
- Doug TenNapel (Ghostopolis, Earthworm Jim)
- Moderator: Geoff Boucher (Hero Complex blog, L.A. Times)
As soon as DiTerlizzi gets introduced, a guy in the audience says “Planescape!” in that growl usually reserved for dudes yelling “METAL!” This session is about the creative process and what inspires the panelists to create.
Q: Do you start small and grow big, or come up with the big idea first?
Tony: Start with character. The audience has to care about the character before caring about that character’s struggle. [Sort of a side track] We’re encouraged to imagine as children, but this becomes “There’s the art guy. Get him!” in high school. Working on The Search for Wondla, about the only human on an alien planet, raised by a robot. His take on Star Wars meets Miyazaki. He loved the maps in fantasy books like The Hobbit and the Chronicles of Narnia. Created an augmented reality map for Wondla. Video show uses mostly 2D images in a 3D space.
Travis: It’s hard to pinpoint the stop-motion creative process. “Artists in general, and stop-motion people in particular, are weird people.” You draw from the things to create: research, life experience, and imagination. When you get “first frame-itis” (animator’s block), you break it with research and thinking about the characters and how they behave. Researched how supermodels move to give the Other Mother in Coraline an “evil supermodel” look. Rehearsed in a mirror; not pretty. Used own experience with daughter for a scene with Coraline and her father, drawing specific expressions he’d seen his daughter and himself make.
Mike: Hellboy started as a sketch. He usually drew Batman for people, but a fan who already had a Batman from him said to draw whatever he wanted. He drew the first incarnation of Hellboy. The sketch kept popping up, and one time he randomly put “Hellboy” on its belt buckle. Later, he had an offer to do a comic and had no idea what he wanted to do. Hellboy was the only original character he had. At first, he didn’t know who HB was, and started vague until the characters took on a life of their own.
John: Put Mike’s art up in office while working on Kung Fu Panda to get inspiration to do the best work he could. The Sinbad movies originally inspired him to pursue a movie career. He worked on The Muppet Show early on, the creative cauldron where he learned most of the things important to his work, primarily from Jim Henson. Collaboration was extremely important to Henson, and he was one of the few people who would say “Thank you” for a good idea. Paraphrasing Frank Oz, “Jim wouldn’t have been such a great creator if he hadn’t been such a great appreciator.” So collaborate, and avoid fearing putting your ideas out there. When you have a big project, you have to say, “I need help to fulfill this vision.” Showed a video of some of his work on The Muppet Show.
Doug: The easy part of imagination is coming up with stuff, and some develop their imaginations more for jobs. Execution is the hard part. You have to communicate ideas to the crew, editor, yourself, or the audience. Separating the good ideas from trash is the hard part. Develop the skill of executing ideas. Really skilled creators, like the rest of the panel, show that it’s a “human trait” to be that good. It’s not impossible to achieve that level; use them for inspiration. Comics are great because they’re a “friendly medium.” You can just get a pencil and paper and write a whole book by yourself. Projects can fall apart, so there’s a whole lot of “nuttin’ to show for it” in the arts. Comics and novels let you have an end product, even if no film version comes through.
From the Q&A
Tony: I think, “What would 10-year-old-Tony want that 40-year-old Tony can make?”
Tony: (Ref: The specifics of inspiration for Planescape) People working with me on Spiderwick and Wondla wondered how the world was so fleshed out. If you played D&D, you have to design a world from soup to nuts. The design is Zeb Cook criscrossing world myths. The art was inspired by Arthur Rackham in large part, along with the otherworldly feel of Yoshitaka Amano.
Q: Do you feel a master plan or outlines constricts your creativity?
Mike: A really big idea is daunting. Start small.
Tony: Make a general outline.
Doug: Break into small, workable pieces.
John: Doing one piece will lead to the next.
After the Panel: Everybody around me was talking about Planescape and D&D.
11:00 The Red vs. Blue Infiltration
- Geoff Ramsey (Grif)
- Kathleen Zuelch (Tex)
- Gustavo Sarola (Simmons)
- Monty Oum (animator)
Jerry Holkins introduced them. I don’t think most of the audience recognized him. They’re wrapping up the RvB: Revelation DVD for Sept. 14. They’ll have a boxed set, RvB: The Recollection, with 3 most recent series and a bonus Grifball disc. They showed plenty of videos.
The Fred Phelps crew had a few protesters outside Comic-Con, but they were far outnumbered by counter protesters. These included Bender and people holding signs saying things like:
- ODIN IS GOD
- Magnets: How the #%$! do they work?
- GOD LOVES FSM
- Jesus was nailed to a cross—Thor has a hammer
4:00 Robert Kirkman
***HERE THERE BE SPOILERS***
Much of this panel was Q&A. A summary follows.
He has a new imprint: Skybound. He is overseeing books by new creators. Skybound is not currently looking for pitches, but scouring online to find interesting talent.
In Walking Dead, expect turmoil arising in the community and trouble for Rick.
The first Skybound title is Witch Doctor by Brandon Seifert and Lukas Ketner. They came onstage for a bit. It’s a horror medical drama—Dr. Strange meets Dr. House. All the supernatural stuff has a basis in the weirdest phenomena of real biology.
Where’s the Walking Dead TV series filming?
Atlanta. The first season is almost done.
Did you give up creative control for the AMC Walking Dead series?
Kirkman is executive producer, hired Frank Darabont (The Stand, The Shawshank Redemption) to write and direct the pilot. Very experienced with adaptations that are true to the source material.
Is there an oversaturation of zombies?
No. Not as many zombie comics as there once were, and there hasn’t been a zombie TV series before.
Will you come back to write more Marvel Zombies?
No. Said his piece with 1 & 2.
What’s your favorite rock band?
“Probably Rock Band 2.” [Joking. Kirkman’s very funny. See him in person if you can.]
[Skipping a bunch of questions. If you want to know about anything specific, ask in the comments.]
Did you consider doing the TV series in black & white to match the book?
Thought about it. Felt it would be too “stunty.” People might skip the channel thinking it was an old movie.
How do I break into comics as a writer?
Find an artist and make a comic.
Will the high mortality rate in Walking Dead affect how you cast?
We’re hoping we’ll get more big actors who can do short runs but not commit to an entire series.
I heard there’s a Science Dog t-shirt in Walking Dead TV.
Yes, but they had a bad reference for the symbol, so it looks more like a bear’s claw. I want to put a donut shop in the series called Bear Claw so it becomes an internal reference.
There was a long line for w00tstock 2.4. They had two screens instead of the usual one. I had a special pass thanks to Liz Smith, the w00tstock Dungeon Master. I was in the top VIP area at first, the first guest there, and managed to contain myself when the next guests were Jamie Hyneman and his wife. Show was very cool. More controlled, focused than usual, but about the same length since there were more performers. Molly Lewis had to wait outside when she wasn’t on stage since it was a 21+ venue. (Free Molly!) Performers were:
- Paul and Storm (they are the opening band)
- Wil Wheaton (blogger, ubergeek, Wesley Crusher)
- Adam Savage (Mythbusters)
- Marian Call (folk musician, plays a typewriter)
- Matt Fraction (comics writer and madman)
- Jamy Ian Swiss (the Honest Liar, magician)
- Molly Lewis (ukulele YouTube sensation)
- Phil Plait (Bad Astronomer, showed trailer for new Bad Universe show on Discovery)
- Len Peralta, drawing the special show poster on stage throughout the night (Geek a Week)
- Jason Finn (drummer, member of Presidents of the United States of America)
- Chris Hardwick (Nerdist podcast)
- Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett (Rifftrax)
Themes of this show included double, triple, etc. rainbows, “Free Molly,” and beer. Special guests ranged from Jamie Hyneman (Mythbusters) to Aaron Douglas (of BSG, in his flight suit for a cheap “toast” joke) to Grant Imahara (Mythbusters, escorting Chewbacca) to Bill Amend (Foxtrot). Hope I’m not forgetting any people! Molly gave a free concert outside during halftime.
In a few days, you should be able to find videos of the show on YouTube. I’ll try to remember to post them to comments.
It was a late night, and it’s another late night typing this the next night. I’ll recap today tomorrow, and confuse you more.