Wow! Wizardworld was FUN. Tiring, humid, busy but FUN!
First of all, I went to supper with Chuck Dixon (of Robin, Nightwing, Birds of Prey and, until recently, a Batman scribe on Detective Comics) on Friday night. There were about 20 people who went to eat at a pizza restaurant called (appropriately enough!) Giordano's. I'd been invited by Chuck's webmaster, a talented artist named Scott McCullar who was also there (if you haven't seen his Green Arrow web site, it was last month's "Best of Fandom" Award winner). Fortunately, I ended up seated right across from Chuck and the six of us (Chuck, Scott, two other cool gents, my wife Melinda and I) ended up conversing together because we could barely hear anyone else. Chuck discussed the Batman movies (they're all run by idiots), Y2K (he says he's not afraid of anything happening and if it does, he's armed!), Doug Moench (anyone who thinks Chuck's a workaholic needs to hear about Doug's work area), the "scariest fan he's ever met" story, Armageddon vs. Deep Impact, who Bumblebeeb is (Chuck's really keeping this under wraps; no, he didn't tell me), what pro-gun Batman scribe Chuck thought of "Batman: Seduction of the Gun" and scads and scads of information about what it's like to be him. He also okayed my interviewing him for a future issue of Fanzing and authorized Scott to give me his oh-so-hard-to-get e-mail address.
You think that was cool? I haven't told you my personal highlight yet.
At the dinner, I was passing out the new Fanzing flyer and my Elongated Man proposal for a few others to see. I only showed the EM proposal because it has Bob Riley's artwork of the Dibnys (the one from the detectives issue which has them looking like Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore) on the front of it and I thought Chuck might get a laugh. The proposal got passed around and I got up to talk to Scott. When I got back, Chuck had picked up the proposal and was reading the whole thing. I didn't stare; instead, I talked with Melinda. But Chuck smiled and chuckled several times and then said quietly, "This is really good."
Now, if you don't know this already, writers and artists aren't the ones to get you into the industry (unless you're partnering with them on a project), so praise from a writer isn't going to necessarily do anything for me. But when a writer of his caliber thinks you've written something good, it's certainly encouraging!!!
Oh, and on Saturday I attended Chuck's lecture on "The Ten Commandments of Comic Book Writing" which I'll share with you if he doesn't put it up on his web site soon.
Aside from Chuck, I got to talk to Eddie Berganza in person. I watched Mark Waid and Kurt Busiek show off their vast knowledge in a trivia contest. And I ran into Fanzing's founder, Marc Campbell! The two of us finally got to meet and he is as cool as he always seemed!
Devin Grayson (a pessimist) and Dan Jurgens (an optimist) took opposite sides in a "hero vs. anti-hero" debate. It's odd to see how Mark Waid and Devin Grayson think the world is a bad place given that their writing doesn't always reflect that perspective (especially in Mark's case). When inevitably discussing Columbine, Dan (correctly, in my opinion) stated that it's not a sign of a worsening society; two crazies acting horribly out of some five billion people should not be taken as a sign that our world is bad. Also on this panel, Garth Ennis surprised me by being an extremely nice guy who knows his characters are scum (I really mis-judged him from his work); he cited Jesus as the greatest hero and pointed out how he behaved in an anti-establishment manner (challenging the church, disrupting moneylenders, etc.). Garth got quite an applause for saying that, too.
I saw Anthony (C-3PO) Daniels running around a vast audience with a remote mike a la Jerry Springer, taking questions and answering them. He was extremely funny and charming. When a young boy asked what use Anakin's mother could have for a protocol droid, Daniels huffed, "Oh, HUSH you! Hush, you!" and comically stormed back to the stage before turning around and spitting out, "It gets me into the MOVIE!"
Someone pointed out Kenny Baker, who played R2-D2. Unfortunately, I missed the chance to see Claudia Christian who played Susan Ivanova on Babylon 5, as I was busy buying some comics at the time. I also missed a martial arts demonstration by Ray Park (Darth Maul) because I was at another forum.
On Saturday, DC did a show promoting their new year's worth of comics, announcing the new Batman line-up and showing us which dead DC character will take over the role of the Spectre at the end of "Day of Judgment". (It's a spoiler, so I won't announce it here.) Dan Jurgens talked about Aquaman and the Titans-Legion special that he's doing. It was also announced that James Robinson will reintroduce Hawkman to the DC Universe which drew a resounding applause.
Let's see, what else there was an artists' section where comic book artists peddled their wares. There was so much erotic cartoon artwork that they really ought to have their own roped-off section to screen out the kids! Speaking of erotic, one merchant's booth was devoted to nothing but girlie mags and skin mags featuring pics of famous actresses. And there were several merchants selling erotic posters, cards, wall hangings and photos, all with the "naughty bits" covered by tiny stickers. (That adult section idea may be pretty full, come to think of it.) And speaking of erotic, here's something weird: a model/artist named Stacy E. Walker (http://www.stacyewalker.com) who did a lot of work with Boris Vallejo was there selling nude pictures of herself. HOW can someone nonchalantly sell NUDE PICTURES of HERSELF as though they were comic books? That's BIZARRE! There's this silicone wonder decked out in some kind of leather bustier, showing people pics of her in various modes of undress. There's just something unsettling about that!
There was a vendor selling anime videotapes. As I'm only peripherally interested in anime, I didn't go gaga over this but figured I'd give it a casual glance. It turns out that this is not the "spritely animal puff toy" anime that causes little kids to run out and buy nondescript beeping "pets". It's not even the "people shouting 'hee-ya' as heads bloodily explode" kind of anime that gets fans to watch Fist of the North Star over and over again, as though they've missed some subtle nuance the first 28 times. No, this is the kind of anime that has prompted the folks on Mystery Science Theater 3000 to use the phrase, "I'm going to dash inside and buy some violent porn comics!" whenever they're watching Japanese businessmen in a movie. The first one I picked up was called, I Am Not Kidding, "RapeMan". RAPEMAN!?!? Look, I don't care what culture you come from, there's just no excuse for marketing that kind of thing.
Oh! I almost forgot I saw a talk by George Perez on how to do group shots and Eddie Berganza gave a lecture on what an editor does, step-by-step.
All in all, Wizard World was a great experience, but it had its downside. Namely, it's expensive! The admission price is reasonable, given all that you get out of it, but on top of that you have to get there, park for the day, buy comics and collectibles and eat. Eating is the worst, as the food prices are as bad as an airport's, and for the same reason: no competition. I bought a soda for $1.75 and it was in a small cup that couldn't be more than six ounces. Melinda and I tried to find a McDonald's within walking distance and there's just nothing around for blocks. What I'd give for some good food! The second day I was smarter and packed a sandwich and some sodas.
The nicest thing about the convention is that Melinda, my wife, went with me and seemed to have a good time. I think I'll keep her. :-)
All characters are DC Comics
This column is © 1999 by Michael Hutchison.