Saturday, 17 November 2012

Thought Bubble Comic Con Day 1 - Mark Waid REALLY hates motion comics


The first day of Thought Bubble has ended and it's been a damned good one. Between the parade of cosplayers and the panels, this year's con is shaping up to be the best yet. Read on to find out why Al Ewing mentioned talking penises, how come Kieron Gillen overused the word 'demi' and why Mark Waid bloody hates motion comics.

The day began with a panel moderated by Gosh! Comics with creators talking about the best comics they have read this year. Anthony Johnston, Kate Brown, Kieron Gillen, and Al Ewing had an entertaining discussion their picks of 2012, which included a whole lot of talk about Hugo Tate by Nick Abadzis as well as pretty much everyone stating a love for webcomics in general. I neglected to take a notebook because I'm a witless oaf, so I can only remember a few of their recommendations. Journalism win! However, from the get-go, Journey into Mystery scribe Gillen was being given a hard time for his use of the word 'demi-mainstream', and rightly so! From then on it was demi everything and much laughter was had by all.

Next up was the 2000AD 25th Anniversary roundtable, which is the panel I was most excited for. It put together some of the giants of the publication in the same room where they, get ready for it, talked about comics and stuff! Rob Williams, Al Ewing, Simon Fraser, Simon Davis, Leigh Gallagher, Robbie Morrison and Mike Molcher, who delivered a fantastic talk about life working for the galaxy's greatest comic, including answering questions about their sense of decency when coming up with art and scripts. It soon became clear that Tharg's mightiest were also filthier than a rotten dishrag as they regaled us with tales of rejections due to talking penises and a particularly racy Nikolai Dante story that forced the publisher to seal the comic in a bag. Of course, they had to drop in a question about what they thought of the new Dredd film and surprisingly enough they all loved it (except Morrison, who admitted that he still hadn't seen it).

Then it was straight into the next panel - a discussion about digital comics, with Simon Fraser, Becky & Frank, Kate Beaton, Scott C, Mark Waid, Ketan Majmudar and Paul Duffield. This is where I learnt that Mark Waid can talk... a lot. Not to say that's a bad thing, he's eloquent, wise and full of anecdotes, so it's always a joy to hear him speak. Also, while he's a huge promoter of using comics in the digital medium with Thrillbent, he explained his disdain for motion comics, one that we both share. He stated that one of the most important thing about the medium is the ability to give the reader freedom to choose the pace of the story, as well as voices and sound effects. Motion comics take away from that, turning the reader into a passive agent rather than an active one. However, he did say that there are great things happening with digital comics, a view that was shared between the panel, even quasi-Luddites like Beaton and Frank. They showed us a great example of innovation in comics using CSS, where resizing the browser reconfigures the action on the page, making it easy to read comics with any sized screen. It was clear that everyone was enthusiastic about the future of digital comics, especially Waid, who would go on to talk more about it in a later panel.

After pottering around the main hall for 20 minutes, checking out all the awesome that was on offer, I headed over to see Kieron Gillen give a keynote talk about his foray into the industry and the advice he was offered from some of the best writers in the business when he was starting out. It was a funny and inspirational talk that gave a great insight into breaking into comics and how you shouldn't just try to be a good writer, but also a great human being.

To round off the day, I attended the writers' roundtable where industry veterans including Jason Aaron, Andy Diggle, Ivan Brandon, Mark Waid, and Nick Spencer spoke about the comics industry in general and the ever enthusiastic Waid gave a hopeful writer a point-by-point primer of how to write a script. Everything from keeping schedules to the varied ways writers got into the industry were covered in this insightful panel that may not have had the comedy of previous ones, but contained some eye-opening information all the same.

So that was day one of Thought Bubble - and what a day it was. Come back tomorrow for a breakdown of the final day's events.

- Scott Malthouse

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