Sunday, April 4, 2010

WonderCon Roundup

Even though I skipped WonderCon (for the first time in more than twenty years) last year, I decided to go ahead and go this year. The plan was to go on Sunday when it would be less crowded, and not fill up the day with various panels that give you information that you could eventually get on the internet. I wanted to spend time walking around and maybe even getting an autograph or finding some good deals on some comics that I had to pass up for various reasons.

I have to say that I had a great time. The highlight was that I got to meet Ted McKeever. While I can't say that I'm a super-huge fan of his work, I did really like his story for the Batman: Black and White anthology several years back. In fact, I like it so much that I share it with my students when I do my comic book lesson. It's really great because it gives me a chance to explain the nature of comics (or sequential art, if you want to get all pretentious) and how our minds have to fill in so much of the information that goes on between the panels. Not only that, but it's a very offbeat Batman story, and it relies very heavily on symbolism. My students often chuckle when I say that we're going to do a lesson on comics, but then they realize just how serious this stuff can be when I give them this story to read. Anyway, I got a chance to tell Mr. McKeever about this. He was really appreciative, and we got to have a short conversation on comics, symbolism, and teaching.

Another cool moment was going to the panel for IDW's Kill Shakespeare. If you don't want to click on the link, the basic premise is that you have a bunch of Shakespeare's famous characters interacting with one another (like Hamlet, Lady Macbeth, Richard III, Juliet, Othello, etcetera) and the mission that's given to them is to kill a certain William Shakespeare. I bought the first issue, so I haven't read it yet. However, after listening to the creators, I have a feeling that it's going to be a lot of goofy fun that's right up the ally of people like me who like both Shakespeare and comics. It doesn't seem very highbrow, but it doesn't seem like a dumbed-down version of Shakespeare's famous creations either.

The cool thing is that one of the guys on the panel was an English professor at Stanford. He actually expressed that he didn't really like the concept of it, and he was worried that it would confuse too many people who had yet to be introduced to the real Shakespeare. He did admit though that he was probably more of a purist than Shakespeare himself would have been if he were alive today to give his thoughts on the comic. (I sure hope somebody drinks a beer in that comic - that would really make my day.)

Aside from that, I got some pretty sweet deals. I got a really cool-looking comic called Testament that tells old stories from the Bible, but it's not some cheesy Bible-lesson. It has some really great artists (Bill Sienkiewicz, Sergio Aragones, Steve Rude, etcetera) telling the stories. I even managed to get Aragones to sign his section for me. (If you read Mad magazine, then he's the guy who normally draws the little cartoons that you can find in the margins. He's also done a heck of a lot of other stuff.) I also got one that tells the story of Samson, and again, it's not some watered-down Bible lesson for kids. It treats it like it's supposed to be treated - like a legend, a classic story that has stood the test of time. It's really great looking stuff, and it includes the original (okay, an English translation) story from the Book of Judges at the end of the comic so readers can compare and contrast.

I also walked away with some cool deals and got a bunch of free comics from the DC booth. Some of it I'll read, but much of it will go into the big box of comics that I leave in my classroom for SSR.

Will I be going again next year? We'll see...


Sharon Vaknin said...

"It's really great because it gives me a chance to explain the nature of comics (or sequential art, if you want to get all pretentious) and how our minds have to fill in so much of the information that goes on between the panels."

I remember this lecture! I enjoy repeating this bit of information (sourcing you, of course).

Do you regret not going last year? I have to admit, I only wanted to go for the Watchmen actors. Do you think Wondercon is now saturated by clueless fanboys/girls?

Lance Christian Johnson said...


And no, I don't regret it. Sure, I can no longer say that I've been to every single one, but I needed a break from it.

But yeah, basically it's becoming less and less about comics and more and more about Hollywood. This year actually wasn't too bad in that regard though.