Comic-Con 2009 Recap: 'Twilight,' 'The Guild,' Minority Superheroes, More

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Michael Cavna
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 28, 2009; 11:00 AM

Post Comic Riffs blogger Michael Cavna took your questions about all the movie, TV and comics news unveiled at the 2009 Comic-Con.

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Michael Cavna: Greetings from California, the Land of Con. Having finally slept off the effects of five days of wall-to-wall Comic-Con (some of these Con bloggers are seriously on the "juice," BTW--more commonly known as cases of Mountain Dew), I'm finally cogent enough again to field your knowledgeable questions...

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Peterborough, N.H.: Got to give it up for Kevin Smith. He has made an art form out of the question & answer session. And after viewing his performance this weekend he remains at the top of his game. Still very insightful, still funny as hell.

While I don't think his recent movies are nearly as good as they've been in the past Kevin remains a remarkable figure to a certain group of twentysomethings and thirtysomethings. He's a blue collar, suburban guy who hit it big and continues to give so much back to his fanbase (podcasts, blogs, Q&A sessions).

Regardless of big-time let downs such as "Jersey Girl" and "Zack and Miri Make a Porno," I'll keep giving Smith my $10 at the multiplex because of who he is.

Michael Cavna: Couldn't agree more, Peterborough. Kevin Smith's greatest art sometimes seems to be: How to Work a Fanboy Room. (Seriously, Dude should give a separate Con seminar to some of his more sedate colleagues on this subject.)

For anyone who hasn't had the chance to watch Smith in action, check out the documentary "An Evening With Kevin Smith" from about 5-6 years back. It is absolutely "very insightful, still funny as hell."

Kev keeps it real, even when his films are way up and down.

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The wrong coast: I know San Diego is the Big One, but do they have similar events anywhere near D.C.?

How much of the events/exhibits did you see, percentagewise? I sense that it could be too huge to take it all in.

Michael Cavna: You should definitely check out the Baltimore Con this fall -- ten years in, it's getting stronger every year. Early big names who've promised to show include Matt Fraction, Brian Bendis, Chris Claremont and locally grown talent Frank Cho. The Balto Con also hosts the cool Harvey Awards.

And smaller in scale, there's a Small Press Expo in Rockville (Md.) each fall. Last year's was very cool, drawing such talent as Tom Tomorrow, Jen Sorensen, Ted Rall and Richard Thompson. Makes for a fun, manageable weekend.

As for events/exhibits: Being fortunate enough to have five days there, I eventually caught up to almost all the exhibits. Events are another matter -- it's common to have a half-dozen going on at any one time that you'd love to catch (and that's when you're trying to get into the Hollywood vortex). Still, a good game-plan will go a long way.

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Berrien Springs, Mich.: What kind of discussion was there about minority superheroes? Are there any audience demographics for the audience?

Michael Cavna: The strong reaction to the Black Panther re-boot (or "She-boot," if you will) underscores how huge the audience is for minority superheroes.

As for the Con: One of the best sessions by far was "The Black Panel." Reg Hudlin...Denys Cowan (who write the animated BP series)...and Ludacris showed up, turning it into what one dude said was a hip-hop concert at 10 in the morning. (Lemme find you a good link here: ComicVine News )

On the last day, I also chatted up the talented guy behind Storm Bringers (stormbringers.com) -- check it out.

And the biggest talk was still Hollywood: I got to pose a coupla questions to Don Cheadle about taking over the War Machine role from T-Howard. He said he didn't know much about "Iron Man" going on (believe he said he grew up a Hulk-head), but his new rig in the trailer was seriously awesome and will surely spawn a massive media wave of interest in War Machine.

Other minority superheroes were discussed, too, so I'll continue that much larger discussion in the weeks ahead on the Comic Riffs blog. Good question, Berrien Springs.

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ComicsDC: So did you actually talk to any cartoonists? Will we see any interviews on the blog?

Michael Cavna: You'll definitely see interviews, ComicsDC. Later this week, I'll post some panel comments from Richard "Cul de Sac" Thompson, Stephan "Pearls Before Swine" Pastis" and Keith ("K Chronicles," etc.) Knight. Also have talked with Bill Plympton, Sergio Aragones and Stan Sakai in recent days, and got a seat at a small roundtable with Hayao Miyazaki. So yep -- plenty to come!

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Washington, D.C.: Michael, having been to SDCC myself-- what is your one piece of advice for anyone who has never gone?

For me, it'd be: don't expect to see everything because there's WAY too much going on and WAY too many people who want to see the same stuff.

Michael Cavna: That's EXACTLY right. It's just way too massive. And first-time attendees should remember: You wade among more than 125,000 people over four-plus days -- in other words, a higher head count (albeit over days) than a Super Bowl crowd.

For Con rookies, my advice would be: Download the full sked as soon as it comes out (typically a coupla weeks before the Con) and then: (1) prioritize whom you MOST want to see/hear; and (2) figure out what panel topics interest you most. If you just want to say "love your work" to Stephan Pastis in person, he did two separate panels AND an autograph session, so you'd have three chances.

If you went to college, it's pretty much like trying to figure out which courses you want as you wade through a huge schedule -- except the whole process is on steroids!

Also, I should note: It's now a Tale of Two 'Cons: the open-room, no-special-pass needed Con, and then there's the mondo-line Hollywood events. Some folks camped out near Hall H at 4 a.m. to glimpse that bit of "Iron Man 2" or "Avatar" footage.

Lastly, a HUGE bit of advice: This sucker now sells out for pre-registration MONTHS in advance. If you plan to go for three-four days, I definitely recommend pre-reg -- it's the way to go!

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ComicsDC: Did you meet any of the people you did caricatures of, and had they seen the drawings?

Michael Cavna: I saw Stan Lee, who was mobbed. And I'm supposed to catch up with Aragones very soon, so I'll see what he thought.

But I did talk with Stephan Pastis after one of his panels, and he mentioned having seen it. I think he said "Cool." But then again, he might have said "Cruel." I'll e-mail him for a little clarification, haha!

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Denver: Hi, Michael! Just wanted to say that I'm a huge fan of your blog. I love my daily comic strips, but I have never read a comic book. Judging by the posts about Comic-Con, I'm starting to wonder if that is allowed.

Michael Cavna: Thanks! -- I much appreciate the fandom. And if you've no desire to crack a comic book, I've got a host of graphic novels I'd recommend. The daily comics are great, but if you like those (not to sound like some kinda "cartoon pusher"), there's a wealth of other formats you should give a chance. All it takes is that right one in order to fall in love with a whole new form!

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Newport News, Va.: So what's the deal with Marvel buying the rights to Miracleman? Are we going to see a reprint of the old books, a release of unpublished books, or a new series?

Michael Cavna: That really was the hugest Marvel news outta the Con, I thought. Everyone from Marvel's multimedia honcho (Dan Buckley) to creator Mick Anglo sounded seriously jazzed about Marvel getting Miracleman/Marvelman.

And Marvel likes to spread out these future clues like breadcrumbs, so didn't hear any specifics at the Con yet about how exactly this enterprise will take shape. But Marvel will surely follow up with an announcement or five soon.

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Batman: Concerning Golden and Silver Age comic books, it seems to me that buyers (who are actually investors?) are only interested in mint condition.

Have you noticed that?

Do you think that the traditional comic book will simply be superceded by other forms?

Michael Cavna: Yeah, for various reasons -- including a dip in comic book sales in much of the Golden and Silver Ages, which often resulted in cheaper paper and production -- Mint and Near-Mint condition comics from these ages are relatively scarce, so collectors/investors ("invectors"?) prize them like a rare Vermeer.

And my opinion -- underscored by this Con -- is that big imprints will continue to publish the trad book, but really pour even more money into multimedia, iPhone apps, gaming -- as many platforms as they can move as product.

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Washington, D.C.: I've heard that it's tough getting a room in San Diego around convention time. Did you find it difficult?

Michael Cavna: Reports leading up to the convention were that San Diego was experiencing its slowest summer, in terms of tourism, in years. Hotel vacancies were said to be high. That said, rooms close to the Convention Center got pretty scarce as the Con was upon us, several hotels told me. I do know: The cabbies, pedicabbers and local bars seemed mighty happy to see this influx of costumed conventioners. As one waitress in the Marriott said: "It's great to suddenly have all these Predators around!" Haha.

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Michael Cavna: Before I forget, I should mention: Later today, I'll post on the blog: Twenty Questions--Things I Learned From Hollywood's Comic-Con Sneak Peeks, so check it out.

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RE: Denver's question: I'm like Denver: just read the funnies and have little to no knowledge of graphic novels. I think it would be AWESOME if you started including graphic novel posts into your blogs. It could be like Oprah's Book Club, except with super heroes.

Michael Cavna: Great comment. Indeed, as the blog hits the one-year mark and has built an awesome core readership, my desire is absolutely to expand into other parts of comics culture. (That's a huge reason why I decided to cover this year's Con.) So you heard it hear first: You'll see MORE graphic novel coverage and MORE Web comic coverage in Comic Riffs in the future. Gua-ran-teed!

Thanks for your comment!

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Roseland, N.J.: I must admit most of my comic-related joy these days come from on-line comics, such as Girl Genius by the incomparable Phil & Kaja Foglio. Are the cons reflecting the strong contributions these Web-based artists are making to the community?

Michael Cavna: I stopped by the Girl Genius booth, in fact, at the Con. They were great, and even got their newest material in my hands. I definitely saw more webcomic sessions at this Con -- by next year, I expect it to double or triple.

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Omaha, Neb.: Love your coverage of the Con, Michael. Sounds like you made it to a few high profile panels. Did you go to the "Twilight" extravaganza, or did one need a middle school student ID to get into the room?

Michael Cavna: HahaHA. I went to the preview night screening of TV's new "Vampire Diaries," which seemed a lot like "Twilight LITE" ("Twi-LITE"?) By the time the real deal rolled around it was too rich for my blood!

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Dupont Circle: What was the goofiest costume you saw there?

Michael Cavna: Damnnn. That's a great and brutally tough question. Lemme think here. There were waaay too many Wonder Women and Storm Troopers. I'd probably have to go with the Spider-Man bounding through the Marriott BECAUSE the dude seemed to have trouble breathing through that stocking of a facemask, which covered his whole head. It's almost as if the dude hadn't thought through such minor considerations as, um, BREATHING.

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The Guild: I've recently become a big fan of The Guild, a Web-based series that has enjoyed remarkable success. Did you catch them? How big of a splash were they relative to others? Ever heard of it?

Michael Cavna: The Guild is a blast. For anyone who hasn't, check out WatchtheGuild.com. I missed their act in person, though I stopped by the Dark Horse booth and chatted up the series. It definitely had a following at the Con!

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Maryland: What do you know about the rumored Superman costume for Smallville? Unlike some fans of the show, I don't care much if the costume is radically different from the comics version, since Smallville has always been branded as an interpretation of the Superman character. Plus, it's past time for Clark to get into costume. As a fan I feel somewhat like the stereotypical girlfriend whose boyfriend won't commit.

Michael Cavna: Haha, good metaphor for it. And great question. Actually, some pals said that at the Con's Smallville session, a dude in Superman Spandex came up to Tom Welling and assured him: Hey, this is comfortable, dude!! Heard it played to great effect in the room.

Lemme find a cool link here. Lessee: SmallvilleTalk.com

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Michael Cavna: Well, that's all our time for today. If you would like to see future live online chats with Comic Riffs, just let The Post know. I know it's a blast for me -- and remember: We'll do follow-up Con stories in the days ahead, and later today, look for our Twenty Questions Con post!

Thanks for reading, Riffsters -- and please keep those questions and suggestions coming on the blog. Till next time!...

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Editor's Note: washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions. washingtonpost.com is not responsible for any content posted by third parties.


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