ComicCon@Home: Bob’s Sunday 7/25/2021 Panels reviewed

Jack Kirby at a Toys for Tots event at The Brown Derby in Hollywood (1969) – photo copyright by Mark Evanier

This is part 3 of my Blog about ComicCon@Home 2021 video panels, which will cover panels that originally aired on Sunday, July 25th, 2021 but can be streamed at ANY time after their original air-time, which another great thing about this format that I have mentioned in previous Blogs about pre-recorded “@Home” panels.   I watched a total of 20 panels this weekend, a few less than I tend to average at “live” ComicCon, and overall I give the organizers and presenters high marks for making the most of things given the limitations we’re all facing. 

I certainly hope we can get back to an in person con next year, but I ALSO wish they would figure out a way to have cameras in the panel rooms to record/stream them to people who cannot attend the convention or even just for attendees who have conflicts and cannot see all panels scheduled up against one another.  Providing this free outreach of pop and comic book culture to the world is an amazing free service from the CCI folks and I’d love to see it continue.

You can find the entire panel schedule here:
https://www.comic-con.org/cci/programming-schedule
(You may need to use the arrows directly under the word ‘Schedule’ to set focus to July 22-25, 2021)
The full list shows the tremendous variety of selections available. Even if there is nothing I talk about here that interests you, there should be something on the full schedule that will interest every fan of pop culture/movies/comics.

Bob’s Recommended “Must See” Panels from Sunday 7/25/2021:

  • In Conversation with Alex Ross: The Alex Ross Marvel Comics Mural and Poster Book
  • Psychology and Pop Culture: An Empirical Adventure
  • Annual Jack Kirby Tribute Panel  
  • The Art of Stardust with Charles Vess and Neil Gaiman

What a great day of panels!!  More detailed information/reviews/links can be found below.

Sunday 10am: In Conversation with Alex Ross: The Alex Ross Marvel Comics Mural and Poster Book

Panel Description: Renowned comics artist Alex Ross discusses the creation of the epic mural that was commissioned for the New York City offices of Marvel Comics. These now-iconic images are now the subject of Ross’s newest book, The Alex Ross Marvel Comics Poster Book, which features all 35 full-figure portraits, commentary by Ross, and a four-page pull-out poster of the complete Marvel mural. Ross will discuss the creation of these portraits, the stories behind each Marvel character, and his approach to creating these singular images in a conversation that will look back on his award-winning career in comics, and look ahead at what else is on his drawing table. Moderated by Sal Abbinanti.

The panel is AWESOME (if you like Alex Ross).  I bought the “timeless” variant covers that were cropped versions of the characters and had those on my spinner rack for 6 months, I have the Poster book they are talking about with the full figures and also shows the completed mural in the Marvel Offices.  I may buy a second copy to pull out some of the posters and display them, I love Ross’ art so much…

Personally, I love hearing an artist talk about their process and how they went about creating something, so this was right in my “sweet spot”.

RECOMMENDED?  9/10.   “Must See” panel for fans of Alex Ross’ art.

Sunday 11am: Psychology and Pop Culture: An Empirical Adventure

Panel Description: This panel will review psychological aspects that influence pop culture preferences, personality, and behavior. Integrated into the review is a collection of results from 16 research studies conducted by Keith W. Beard, Psy.D., April Fugett, Ph.D. (professors of psychology, Marshall University), Britani Black, Psy.D. (instructor, Marshall University School of Medicine), with the assistance of Josh Carter, Psy.D., Casey Collins, M.A., Jake Bass, M.A., and Kasey Kessler, M.A. (former and current graduate assistants). The presentation includes studies on Disney, superpowers, nostalgic cartoons, fandoms, and antiheroes. Each study is housed firmly within the field of psychology and has been designed and analyzed to answer questions from across the many areas of the panelist’s expertise within the field of psychology and pop culture.
https://rowman.com/ISBN/9781793624680/Psychology-and-Pop-Culture-An-Empirical-Adventure

I liked seeing the 3 authors of the book sitting in a room together while recording this panel, first panel with multiple people I watched this year that wasn’t a zoom meeting with various individual talking heads.  These folks wrote an entire college level textbook based on the sixteen studies they did, so it’s to be expected that they only scratch the surface of the subject in their 40-minute talk.  I found it very interesting but since it is a “pop culture” focus (as opposed to comic books) the superhero stuff seems to primarily draw from movies/TV, which are legitimately on the radar of FAR more people than the comics.  They move from the superpower study to a segment on “Disney Ruins Everything” where they talk about how Disney fandom seems to be different from other fandoms and skews a lot of their results.

There are a couple of chapters in their books that sound very interesting to me, but aren’t touched on in their presentation (“Internet Trolls and Internet Addiction” and one that applies to me directly “All the Nostalgia: Generational Shifts in Personality and in Cartoon Character Preferences”).

RECOMMENDED?  8/10.   

Sunday 12pm: Annual Jack Kirby Tribute Panel

Panel Description: Mark Evanier (former Jack Kirby assistant and author of Kirby: King of Comics) chats with Walter Simonson (Thor, New Gods), and Paul Levitz (former publisher and president of DC Comics) about the late, great Jack Kirby. The focus is on Jack’s oft-reprinted Fourth World series and how, despite what some folks would tell you, it was not a failure but a book ahead of its time . . . and its time is now.

On an amusing note, this is the 2nd Evanier moderated panel where his phone rang during the panel, he needs to work on remembering to mute it before he records a panel.  Beyond that (which wasn’t that bad, just an amusing thing to mention) I really enjoyed the panel.  Hearing Mark, Walter Simonson, and Paul Levitz  talk about “behind the scenes” comics stuff they were witness to is always something I’m interested in.  They talked about Vince Colletta, Jenette Kahn, and a lengthy discussion talking about how Paul Levitz, Jenette Kahn, and others set it up so Kirby would get royalties for the New Gods material he had created a few years before royalties officially started up at DC. 

This is the kind of “fly on the wall” insiders stuff I love to hear about the creators and business that shows the business behind the comics we love to read.

RECOMMENDED?  9/10.

Sunday 2pm: The Mighty Crusaders: Archie Comics Super Heroes

Panel Description: In 1940 MLJ Comics, the company later rebranded as Archie Comics, published Pep Comics #1 and created the first patriotic superhero, The Shield. They would go on to create a pantheon of superheroes including fan favorites like the Comet, Hangman, the Fly, Lancelot Strong, and many more. These heroes have appeared in both Archie Comics and DC Comics. They have been reprinted in England, France, Germany, and Brazil. They have crossed over to radio, film, and the pulps. Presented here is the 80-year history of the greatest superheroes of the Archie Universe, Rik Offenberger (Archie Comics) moderates this panel featuring Paul Castiglia (Archie Comics), Jason Contini (Red Circle Investigations), and JC Vaughn (Gemstone Publishing).

Another great panel that has enthusiastic & knowledgeable people talking about a comics topic where I listen in on the conversation and learn stuff I didn’t know.  Love it.  In this case, I learned a few things about the history of the Archie super-heroes even though I wasn’t starting at ground zero  since I read the Red Circle and Impact (from DC) incarnations of these characters many years ago. 

I also learned that Gemstone will be publishing “The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide to Lost Universes” in November that will be a great reference for me since I love delving into these pieces of “dead” or “lost” comic book history (description below… I don’t think I really agree with the “highly collectible” thing in their sales pitch)
https://gemstonepub.com/price-guides/lost-universes/
The highly collectible world of lost universes gets a brand-new specially focused, full-color edition of The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide that also serves as a Photo-Journal of all the comics featured. From in-depth looks at the original Milestone and Valiant to Tower’s T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents and Charlton’s superheroes, and from Topps’ Kirbyverse and the MLJ/Archie heroes to Malibu’s Ultraverse and Marvel’s New Universe, this full-color book dives deep into Atlas-Seaboard, Comics Greatest World, Continuity, Defiant, Future Comics, Triumphant and more. Not only is packed with images and prices, but it also includes creator and collector interviews and insights.

RECOMMENDED?  7/10.

Sunday 2pm: The Art of Stardust with Charles Vess and Neil Gaiman

Panel Description: Forbidden Planet TV’s Andrew Sumner (EVP Titan Entertainment) chats with legendary fantasy artist Charles Vess (illustrator, Stardust) to discuss his personal archive from the creation of Stardust and introduce his wonderfully personal Art of Stardust book, with a special introduction from Neil Gaiman (author, Stardust) himself.

Gaiman does a nice introduction after which the panel is a conversation between Vess and Sumner.  I really appreciated the post-production Titan applied to this… they pan around on images of Vess artwork during a lot of the talking instead of just focusing on the talking heads like so many other panels (I would have really enjoyed it if they did this on the Alex Ross panel I watched earlier in the day).

Essential for fans of Charles Vess’ art in general and Stardust in specific… are there people who have read Stardust and didn’t become fans of it?  If so…move along, you soulless creatures!

RECOMMENDED?  9/10.

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