ComicCon@Home: Bob’s Friday 7/24 Panels reviewed

Friday of ComicCon@Home is complete!   I did better today than yesterday… 11 panels (same as yesterday) but today I really enjoyed all 11 of them, whereas a couple yesterday were kind of duds for me.  That’s 22 panels in 2 days…. close to what I would do in a regular “live con” year in all 5 days!

A lot of great stuff on comics history that is an interest of mine as well as non-fiction comics.  I enjoy all kinds of comics and am always looking to expand my reading horizons. 

I’ve often said that there are numerous convention experiences available at Comic Con.  I try to focus my panels on comic books.  There are a lot of interesting panels on other topics, what I call the “Hollywood” panels, that are a favorite of most people who attend the convention.  While I’m not watching any of those “live”, I’m collecting a set of them that I’ll be watching after I have completed my “Comic Book” Con experience on Sunday afternoon.  I’ll report on those panels in a Hollywood Edition of this blog, probably on Monday.

Bob’s Recommended Friday “Must See” Panels for comic book fans:

Decoding the Kirby/Lee Dynamic
Last Gasp: 50 Years of Underground Comix Part 1
The Annual Jack Kirby Tribute panel (with Alex Ross!)
The Wonderful, Horrible World of E.C. Comics

More detailed information/reviews/links can be found below.

I’m not sure how long these will be viewable for free.  I’m guessing at least through the weekend and into next week, but I wouldn’t wait several weeks to watch any of these that you want to make sure you catch.

Fri 10am: Last Gasp: 50 Years of Publishing Underground Comix Part I – Mainly focused on the period 1970-1995

YouTube: https://youtu.be/Jl7egc7X2_Q

Panel Description: Ron Turner (founder and publisher, Last Gasp), George DiCaprio (Forbidden Knowledge, Greaser Comics), Robert Williams (Through Prehensile Eyes, Zap Comix), William Stout (Fantastic Worlds: The Art of William Stout), Mary Fleener (Billie the Bee, Weirdo), Jon B. Cooke (The Book of Weirdo), and Colin Turner (associate publisher, Last Gasp) discuss the early history of Last Gasp, from its founding in 1970 and through the rise of the underground comix movement. www.lastgasp.com

I loved this panel.  Moderator Jon Cooke kept the stories flowing and was prepared with images of covers and interior art to show while the panelists chatted , which kept the panel visually interesting.  Anyone who is interested in the history of comics as an art form and is unfamiliar with comics outside of mainstream super-heroes should watch this panel.  This panel made it up to 1993, part 2 will happen tomorrow.

A not-really-comics bit of trivia I learned is that Underground Comix creator George DiCaprio is Leonardo DiCaprio’s Dad and Leo grew up with comics.

RECOMMENDED?  8/10. 

Fri 11am: Decoding the Kirby/Lee Dynamic

YouTube: https://youtu.be/VRjuczJtFFM

Panel Description: For over half a century, the relationship between Jack Kirby and Stan Lee that resulted in the creation of the Marvel Silver Age has been one of the most contentious issues in comics scholarship, with economic and legal consequences echoing down to the present day. In this panel, two recent biographers of Stan Lee–Danny Fingeroth (A Marvelous Life: The Amazing Story of Stan Lee) and Abraham Riesman (True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee) join comics historian/writer Fred Van Lente (The Comic-Book History of Comics) and playwright Crystal Skillman (King Kirby) to explore pivotal moments in Lee and Kirby’s shared history and attempt to shed more light on the complicated dynamic that produced some of the greatest characters in comics–and some of the bitterest recriminations. Rob Salkowitz (Forbes, Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture) moderates.

Recorded in mid-June, the panelists are all comic book scholars/historians who tried very hard to be even handed and avoid a lot of the contentious arguments that often happen when fans discuss the relative contributions to comics by Lee & Kirby.  This is probably the best & most even-handed Lee/Kirby panel I’ve ever seen.  A must-watch for fans of Marvel history.

RECOMMENDED?  10/10. 

Fri Noon: History Goes Graphic

YouTube: https://youtu.be/SSf-rAJR85Q

Panel Description: Authors behind graphic adaptations of cultural pasttimes, historical figures, social justice movements, and autobiographies discuss their process. How does one adapt “real life” into a comic format? How is it different from fiction? In what way must art stick to (or differ from) “authenticity”? Featuring Fred Van Lente (The Comic Book Story of Basketball), Tom Scioli (Jack Kirby), David F. Walker (The Life of Frederick Douglass), Mikki Kendall (Amazons, Abolitionists, and Activists), and Malaka Gharib (I Was Their American Dream), moderated by Ten Speed Press associate editorial director Kaitlin Ketchum.

Good discussion on some of the challenges about adapting real life events and people into comics format. The creators talk about their research, how they choose what to show and what to skip, how they may need to alter the work based on the audience they are targeting (e.g., is the project that they expect young adults or kids to be reading). 

Personally, I have read a fair number of this kind of work in comics, but there’s always room for more and the creators presented some projects I’m now going to be checking out.  I’m sorry for harping on this, but this is a kind of comics everyone should check out at least a bit… It’s always nice to switch things up and move away from just reading one genre of comics.  Graphic storytelling is such a rich medium it really bugs me that so many people equate it solely with super-heroes.

RECOMMENDED?  7/10.  Spicing it up with more visual samples from the books by the panelists would have made it better (current or past projects).

Fri 1pm: Make Mine Marvel: Bringing Back Marvel Classics for Today’s Readers

YouTube: https://youtu.be/0-qWzgjMchY

Panel Description: Mark Evanier (comic book writer and historian), Lauren Bisom (Marvel entertainment editor), Russell Busse (Abrams senior editor, licensing and entertainment) gather for a discussion moderated by Charles Kochman (Abrams ComicArts editorial director) about the legacy of classic Marvel Comics, and how new books for readers of all ages are bringing classic comic art, characters, and storylines to a new generation. The group will discuss exciting new titles including My Mighty Marvel First Books: The Amazing Spider-Man and Captain America, a series of collectible board books that introduce the world’s greatest heroes as drawn by the world’s greatest creators, the Marvel Classic Sticker Book, featuring over 250 vintage stickers and 5 pull-out posters, as well as Marvel Comics Mini-Books, a collectible box set featuring history and facsimiles of Marvel’s smallest comic books and which Evanier contributed to, all published by Abrams Books and available this summer. The panel will also include a sneak peek at Marvel Value Stamps: A Visual History written by comics legend and former Marvel editor-in-chief Roy Thomas and releasing this fall.

Marvel nostalgia rules in this panel!  I’m old enough to both remember and to have acquired items from 3 of the 4 projects discussed in this panel:

Marvel mini-books: the smallest comics ever produced!  Sold in little plastic bubbles in gum machines

Marvel stickers: 2 sets of these came out in the 1970s and were sold in wax packs like baseball cards

Marvel Value Stamps: These gave me the opportunity to mutilate 100 vintage Marvel comic books (including The Incredible Hulk #181) by cutting out the stamp to place in my Value stamp  book.

Here Abrams is putting out some books on the history of these classic Marvel collectibles loaded with information and pictures, as well as talking about board books introducing key Marvel characters so we can indoctrinate the next generation of Marvel fans from a very young age.

Watch this panel to both learn about these classic collectibles and determine if you (like me) are placing these upcoming projects on your wish list.

RECOMMENDED?  8/10. 

Fri 1:45pm: Marvel Comics: Next Big Thing (originally aired Fri @ 11am)

YouTube: https://youtu.be/YBlwOO9IGiM

Panel Description: Marvel editor-in-chief C.B. Cebulski breaks down all the latest and greatest coming from the House of Ideas with some of Marvel’s most epic creators! Tom Brevoort, Al Ewing, and Dan Slott will dive into the cosmic calamity coming to Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in the pages of Empyre! An army is gathering in the latest X-Men crossover event, X of Swords, and Jordan White, Tini Howard, and Gerry Duggan have all the juicy details! Nick Lowe, Nick Spencer, and Mark Bagley will discuss the landmark Amazing Spider-Man #850 ushering in the return of the Green Goblin! Plus Nick Lowe rejoins the panel to discuss the return of the classic Marvel character, Werewolf by Night, with creators Taboo and Ben Jackendoff! Be there, True Believers!

Marvel has a pretty good handle on how to do this sort of thing.  The hosts were very engaging (channeling a bit of the “Stan Lee carnival barker” school of bombastic delivery) but not in an annoying way (at least not for me).  This is what I’d have like to see in the Image comics panel I reviewed yesterday.  They do a tight 7-10 minutes on several different projects instead of 45 minutes on just one thing.  They also did a good job mixing in the various creators speaking about these 4 upcoming projects:

Empyre
X of Swords
Amazing Spider-Man #850 (Return of Norman Osborn/Green Goblin)
Werewolf by Night

My knock is that each of the 4 segments were clearly produced independently, so no consistent production values.  The Empyre segment did the best job using visuals from the project.  The X of Swords segment could have used more visuals and would have benefitted from having Jonathan Hickman involved given his key role in the recent reshaping of the X-Men Universe.  In the Spider-Man segment, Bagley’s webcam connection was poor and he was very pixelated and Nick Lowe has to have had a better location to film this than his very bedroom (put something on the walls, or a Marvel book on your nightstand, Nick!).

That said, if you’re a Marvel fan this is worth watching.  If you’re not currently reading Marvel this has the right amount of information to see if you’d like to check out any of these upcoming projects.

RECOMMENDED?  7/10. 

Fri 2:30pm: Exclusive Behind-the-Scenes with Undiscovered Country (originally aired Fri @ noon)

YouTube: https://youtu.be/wblg9FhMcEE

Panel Description: Scott Snyder, Charles Soule, and Giuseppe Camuncoli reveal the secrets behind the Eisner Award-nominated, chart-topping series out from Image Comics, Undiscovered Country. Listen in as they share their story about the making of the series, anecdotes about the first story arc’s creative process, and hints at what’s to come. Moderated by series editor Will Dennis.

A very engaging panel with art interspersed with the creators sharing their views about this Eisner nominated series and hinting at what is to come.  If you’ve not tried this series, this is a good panel to watch to see if it would be interesting to you.  I think it’s a great series and well worth trying, give the panel a watch if you want to learn about this series.

The blurb for the series is this:

“Journey into the near future, and an unknown nation that was once the United States of America—a land that’s become shrouded in mystery after walling itself off from the rest of the world without explanation over thirty years ago. When a team seeking a cure for a global pandemic breaches U.S. borders, they quickly find themselves in a struggle to survive this strange and deadly lost continent!”

And you can read the first issue for free on the Image Website here:
https://imagecomics.com/comics/series/undiscovered-country

RECOMMENDED?  8/10. 

Fri 3pm: The Annual Jack Kirby Tribute Panel

YouTube: https://youtu.be/qI0z4tUHe_s

Panel Description: Every year, former Kirby assistant Mark Evanier hosts a gathering of fans of the man some call “The King of the Comics” and his vast, persistent impact on not only comic books but related fields, as well. This year, Mark and John Morrow (publisher of The Jack Kirby Collector) discuss all this with master artist Alex Ross who discusses the influence Kirby had on his work.

This panel happens every year and is focused on Jack Kirby, led by his friend, assistant, and biographer Mark Evanier.  I enjoyed seeing the discussion about Jack’s work being contextualized and enhanced by the experiences and analysis of artist Alex Ross this time around.  Not a knock on Evanier by any means, who did an awesome job, but long-time fans have heard & read his views on Jack, so bringing in Ross was a very enjoyable change-up. 

RECOMMENDED?  9/10.  A must watch for fans of Kirby and/or Alex Ross.

Fri 4pm: Comic-Con: Robert Kirkman at Home

YouTube: https://youtu.be/EYDqH1zSayU

Panel Description: Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead, Invincible, Fire Power) shares his latest projects and answers your questions!

If you like Robert Kirkman you’ll be as entertained as I was by this panel.  He’s a creator that I can just sit and watch talk and have a fine time.  I liked seeing him show the mechanical pencil (given to him by his Dad) that he has used to write out every plot/script he has done in longhand!  Wow!  The fact that the upcoming “Walking Dead in Color” series (that will not be made into collected editions) will include reproductions of those longhand scripts.  This is going to get me to buy this reprint series that I had previously been planning to skip.  I also enjoyed him answering questions that had been submitted via Twitter. 

Not a Kirkman/Walking Dead fan?  Probably best to move along….

RECOMMENDED?  9/10. 

Fri 5pm: IDW: The Mueller Report in 10-minutes

YouTube: https://youtu.be/Ny87cDFQsJA

Panel Description: Shannon Wheeler (cartoonist) and Steve Duin (journalist) take you through the ins and outs of The Mueller Report. They recently turned the political tome into a pithy graphic novel (published by IDW–out in July 2020). Was there collusion? Was there obstruction? Did the Russians interfere in our election? There is no conspiracy theory just the facts that Mueller investigated and laid out. Get a good understanding about what this book is, and isn’t, by joining these two luminaries on a journey of understanding one of the most mis-represented books in recent history.

Like your comics with a side-order of current politics?  This was WAY more than 10 minutes, but a fascinating discussion of the Mueller report.  Probably not something that people who like Trump want to watch.

RECOMMENDED?  8/10. 

Bill Gaines & Johnny Craig

Fri 6pm: The Wonderful, Horrible World of E.C. Comics

YouTube: https://youtu.be/34ZvBm86tzw

Panel Description: Max Gaines started E.C. Comics in 1944 as Educational Comics. With his 1947 death, his son, William M. Gaines, changed the name to Entertaining Comics, and put out controversial horror, crime, war, and science fiction comics (and MAD magazine), working with the greatest talent to ever do comics. E.C. historian Grant Geissman’s The History of E.C. Comics–the ultimate E.C. Comics compendium, with over 1, 000 illustrations–is scheduled from Taschen for fall 2020. To celebrate the new tome–and all things E.C.–comics historians Grant Geissman (Foul Play! The Art and Artists of the Notorious 1950s E.C. Comics!), Danny Fingeroth (A Marvelous Life: The Amazing Story of Stan Lee), Arie Kaplan (From Krakow to Krypton: Jews and Comic Books), and Dr. Travis Langley (The Joker Psychology: Evil Clowns and the Women Who Love Them) look at E.C.’s lasting impact. Visit https://linktr.ee/DannyFingeroth for more info on the panelists.

This panel was AWESOME.  Loaded with images of creators, covers and interior pages.  Well worth viewing for people who already know about EC as much as it is great for people who are completely unaware of what EC was all about.

Decades ahead of their time, the quality of the writing and art stood head and shoulders above other comics of the day.   Around 38 minutes in they hit Seduction of the Innocent and the demolition of EC by the Comics Code.  They talked about the Comics Code trying to censor Judgement Day (an anti-segregation/racism story from Incredible Science Fiction #33, Feb. 1956) because it featured a black man in the final panel.  Him being black being the entire point and the story was ironically a reprint from the pre-code Weird Fantasy #18 , April 1953.  Bill Gaines refused and published the story as is.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EC_Comics#.22Judgment_Day.22

All of this will also be in one of the massive Taschen “History of” tomes in November, to join the Taschen volumes chronicling the history of Marvel & DC comics. 

RECOMMENDED?  10/10. 

Fri 7pm: 32nd Annual Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards

YouTube: https://youtu.be/iSUgRvQPdj0

Panel Description: The “Oscars” of the comics industry honor comics creators and their works in 32 categories. This virtual ceremony is hosted by Phil LaMarr, the actor/voice actor/comedian known for roles in animated series including Green Lantern/John Stewart and Ed Reiss in Justice League and Justice League Unlimited, Hermes Conrad in Futurama, and the title characters on both Samurai Jack and Static Shock. Sergio Aragonés will announce this year’s Eisner Hall of Fame inductees, and Ruth Clampett will present the 2020 Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award recipients.

Pluses and minuses to the Eisner Awards being done online.  On the plus side we were done in an hour, whereas the live show would run 3+ hours.   BUT… the thing that would make the live show run that long was seeing all the winners give acceptance speeches and that was a significant loss this year, however, no real way around it.  Logistically I don’t think there would be any way to notify winners in advance and record acceptance speeches without it leaking to Twitter and the comics media sites.

Also, I learned that the pattern of small squares on the globe in the Eisner Award statue are meant to represent comic book panels!

The full list of nominees and winners for this year can be seen here:
https://www.comicsbeat.com/sdcc-20-eisner-award-winners-2020/

However, they did induct 6 people into the Eisner “Hall of Fame” and these veteran professionals had recorded acceptance speeches and were able to keep quiet about it until the wins were officially announced.  The HoF inductees were:

Alison Bechdel
Howard Cruse (posthumously awarded, accepted by his husband)
Stan Sakai
Louise Simonson
Don and Maggie Thompson
Bill Watterson
(accepted in his stead by Phil LaMarr)

RECOMMENDED?  7/10. 

Opinion piece by: Bob Bretall
(bob@comicspectrum.com)
http://comicspectrum.com/ By Fans who Love Comics For Fans who Love Comics