New York Comic Con 2008
To use the words of renowned Avengers and Ultimate Spiderman scribe Brian Michael Bendis, comic books are no longer “the red-headed stepchild” of all media. To see this first hand, one needs only witness the media frenzy that is New York Comic Con 2008. As a life-long devotee to the format, these hybrid press conferences/flea markets/cult celebrations inject a steady stream of fanboy glee into me akin to the gamma-radiated adrenaline that sends The Incredible Hulk into rampages.
Apparently, I’m not the only one- the comic medium has transformed into an intellectual property gold rush, with film studios snatching up rights before the debut issue of a comic is even printed. A cache of actors have even started their own imprint as ’writers,’ not to count the music industry’s recent surge of interest. The form has made leaps and bounds in its public perception, and reading about the exploits of a mutant or superman is no longer grounds for involuntary bachelorhood. Synergy and speculation aside, Comic Conventions are a nexus of all the imagination and escapism that have inspired so many funny books and Storm Trooper Halloween costumes.
If you’ve never been, here’s Paste’s photo guide of what made NYC Comic Con 2008 a super good time…
1. The Creators
During a panel, former Marvel EIC Stan Lee (legendary creator of The X-Men and Spiderman and he of the equally legendary cameo) proclaimed “When you’re the editor of a comic book company, you’re like a god,” referring to the power one man wields over a universe of fictional characters. If this is the case, then gods walk among men as comic conventions allow fans to interact with creators and artists more directly than in any other genre event.
Example: simply by walking around the hallways of the convention center did I trip upon Marvel’s current EIC/cosmic diety, Joe Quesada…
Marvel EIC Joe Quesada
In contrast, the staff at Paste magazine shields itself with at least 3 interns per editor and a black-belt Hotel Cafe musician in case our readership gets too ornery. But it was refreshing to see the sheer accessibility the creators and panelists showed to their impassioned fan base. Add to that the artists, who were more than happy to contribute a visual keepsake to anyone who asked, time permitting. These were a few of the kind souls who took the time to draw me a sketch and chat about their work…
I first had the pleasure of meeting with Kyle Baker, an extraordinarily talented cartoonist and illustrator who, after working for Marvel and DC, has been hard at work on The Bakers, a charming look at his own family life, and Special Forces, a simultaneously kinetic and bleak look at the Iraq war. Baker sketched me a portrait for a Father’s Day gift of an infantile Superman being chased by his desperately overwhelmed babysitter, based on a contribution he did for DC’s Bizarro Anthology in 2005.
David Mack has served the industry as a multimedia artist wunderkind for years. I used to haunt him at conventions when I was a kid in Ohio (he was vaguely frightened that I knew where he lived) and his work continually expands the visual dimensions of comic art whether on his creator-owned Kabuki series or the work he’s done on Marvel’s Daredevil or New Avengers.
Finally, Bulgaria-born Alex Maleev began his work as a story board artist on such films as The Bone Collector and Great Expectations before becoming a mainstay artist on Daredevil and other Marvel titles. His work is absolutely gorgeous- this portrait was definitely a main highlight for me from the entire 3-day weekend.
2. The Buzz
Eva Mendes and Frank Miller
NYC Con featured an array of press releases and panels featuring everyone from Guillermo del Toro to Frank Miller divulging on their comic-related films and projects. Miller’s 2009 release of The Spirit, based on the series by Will Eisner, looks to be every part the CGI noir trip that Sin City was. Miller and actress Eva Mendes were on hand to answer questions about the production and slumming it in the world of costumed villains.
Back to editorial gods, Stan Lee felt that he’d been away from the bullpen too long and announced his position as new editor, writer and art director for Virgin Comics. Now in his mid 80s, the alleged Shakespeare of sequential art is strongly hinting at immortality as a latent superpower.
JG Jones and Grant Morrison
Marvel’s main competition, DC, is getting ready to unveil its largest event in years: Final Crisis. While melodramatic dualism and surrealist spectacle are common staples in comics, this event is especially anticipated for its writer and artist team of Grant Morrison and JG Jones. Morrison revolutionized modern comics by abandoning archaic tradition for psychedelic intrigue and some of the most bizarre plot twists this side of an absynth trip. Final Crisis will see such heroic icons as Wonder Woman, Batman and Superman face off against a host of evil gods (not the editorial kind) from space.
There is a population of people who scoff at Halloween as just another day. These individuals balk at jeans, dungarees, ties and miniskirts (well, not always miniskirts) as mundane artifices of desaturated, conformist drudgery. For our last look at NYC Comic Con, I present the beautiful souls who engage in Costuming/Cosplay. For those in the dark, this is essentially dress-up for adults, except it’s way, way awesomer with more light saber replicas and spandex.
Death and Delirium from Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman epic
No number of training montages could ever prepare Rocky for this incarnation of Mr. T
Patriotism made flesh: Captain America
Hair syling and cross stitching now make Wolverine the best at what he does
Because no comic convention’s soul would be intact without Storm Troopers