New York Comic Con Experience – The Unique Geek
Last week after the podcast recording, some of the callers asked me if I was going to the New York Comicon (I was) and if I would recommend it over Dragon*Con (I would not, sir). It (NYCC) is usually a crowded mess, and though this year it wasn’t, (was actually really well organized), it is becoming increasingly corporate. Like, I don’t know what the value of physically attending a panel with DC editors is. Like, the content of the panel will be online ten minutes later, and it’s not like it’s presented dramatically. Though, I will say the panels we attended at Dragon*Con back when DC had a presence there were super-exciting, like there was a cool buzz, and it was awesome to hear Julius Schwartz tell stories and stuff.
I will say, we’re all guilty of ignoring Schwartz in previous years. He’s had a table there for years, and we all just walked by it. Now he’s dead, and it’s your fault!
Anyhoo, there is very little meaningful access to A-Level folks, but tons of access to B and C level guys, many of whom have entertaining stories about the A-listers. For example, I got Yannick Paquette (Terra Obscura! The Bulleteer!) to sign a page of his I own (he sells his stuff for a lot of money, but our old friend Karl Story has some, since he was the inker, and he sells them for cheap!, like we’re talking the difference between $125 and $35). Anyhoo, Paquette (who does masks and lips better than anyone in comics) had some awesome stories to tell. Here are some of them.
One! He and a lot of artists use a computer program to create buildings, rooms, street scenes, etc. You can really tell once you know to look for it. If you have the Seven Soldiers trades, look at the Bulleteer issues, and look at all the geometrically perfect lines of the neighborhoods, etc. It’s fascinating. It’s the same with cars. Apparently there is some google program where you can enter the name of a car, and get back a 3D outline of the car and you can manipulate it and stick it into your panel. Anyhoo, a lot of guys do this. I didn’t mind, thought it was cool, but he started to get embarrassed talking about it like I would think it was cheating. Until he starts getting a robot to draw lips and masks, I don’t care what he does.
He was showing me on some X-Men pages how he makes a 3D room with the program and then rotates it, moves it around with the program to make different room angles, etc., but we discovered he had given two different X-Men the same room layout in the house. The panels were identical (except for who was standing in them) and he was like, “Oops!” We shared a laugh!
The page I had him sign was a scene in an Egyptian tomb from Terra Obscura, and I asked him if he used a computer to make the hieroglyphics, and he was like, “no, that’s back when I was crazy and did everything,” He said that what he used to do for city scenes and buildings and stuff was to build tiny cities out of matchboxes and then project them onto the wall by back lighting them and trace the outlines. I think a lot of people do this with a lot of different things. Like, a lot of inkers “lightbox” the pencils, etc. it’s part of the process, but I liked thinking about the tiny matchbox cities.
Anyhoo, he went on to say that the script for Terra Obscura (Alan Moore and friends) was like 120 pages for a 22 page comic, and the pages dealing with this scene had reams of info on the Egyptian kings and how they honored their dead, etc. like history, and he said that extra information helped him get into the scene and render it more interestingly and less cartoonishly. I love that. I’m sure you guys have seen Moore’s scripts in trades and Absolute editions and stuff and know how detailed they are, but I hadn’t ever spoken to an artist about it. He says they all suggest three or four ways to draw each panel, like a fight scene will describe six things that happen in the fight, so the artist will know where everyone is at that moment and what they are doing, and they have to decide which part of the fight they want to show. It helps the artist see the entire world. So, there will be three pages of choices for a panel and they will all end with, “or whatever you want,” super funny.
Then he said Grant Morrison was the polar opposite. Five page scripts for a 22 page comic and the ending is usually not there. Like, he sort of gives suggestions for how the comic will go and will then email or call the letterer to give him the dialog after he has seen the scans of the art. He (Paquette) also suggested Morrison often has no idea how something is going to end or develop. He sort of reacts to the art. He (Paquette) says that this too helps him be a better artist, because it helps him expand his mind to see the story and how it might develop, but I was not convinced (and he did not say it convincingly).
There was a funny example about a scene in a restaurant. The script says, “They talk in a restaurant” and so Paquette had to decide if it was a crowded restaurant, or an intimate restaurant. Cheap? Expensive? Large? Small? In a mall? So, he drew them sitting and talking and eating for three pages and then went back to the script which read: “The maitre de tells them their table is ready.” Ohp!
Anyhoo, you don’t get stuff like that at Dragon*Con, but Dragon*Con is, like, 1/20th comics.
Part Two later!