Sunday 18 November 2012

Thought Bubble Comic Con Day 2 - Kate Beaton steals shows

The second and final day of Thought Bubble wrapped up today and although I'm sad to have to wait another year for it to return, I had lots of fun and met some great people. I actually had chance to properly browse creators' wares today and have some nice chats with a few of them about their experiences. Read on to find out who sang to me, why Hollywood are very lazy, and how Kate Beaton was Queen of the Con.

Sunday was a day for browsing, and it was the day I picked up the most comics. I decided to focus only on small press and independent creators rather than going for the big guns because it's always good to discover brand new things and support up and coming artists and writers. The first panel, Women in Comics, was by far the most popular of the whole con with a queue that snaked around most of the Armouries Hall, and for good reason. The panel consisted of Alison Bechdel, Kate Beaton, Simone Lia, Hannah Berry, and Fiona Stephenson, moderated by Dr Mel Gibson (yes, she did make a joke that she has been invited to a prison to give an inspirational speech in place of the actor). What followed was a funny and insightful panel, looking into the perception of females in the comic industry, what the panellists grew up reading, and how more women have come to work in comics. No doubt the star of the show was Kate Beaton, creator of Hark! A Vagrant, who shone on every panel she was on with witty snark and an amazing down-to-earth attitude. Of course, the rest of the panel, particularly Alison Bechdel, were fantastic too.

After the panel I went into wandering mode, approaching most tables and chatting with creators. One particularly memorable exchange came from Timothy Winchester, who greeted me with a sing-song voice and instantly captured my attention. He's the creator of People I Know, a hilarious webcomic that's now in print which captures slices of his daily life as well as some nice surreal humour. The particular book I purchased was Thirteen, a choose your own adventure comic (hear that, Mr Lloyd?) which I'll be reviewing this week. I also spoke to Joe List, who did some promo art for the convention, and picked up all of his stuff because, frankly, it's awesome. I then queued for a while to meet Kate Beaton and get her book signed with a sketch.

Soon I was off to the last panel I'd be attending, From Stand to Screen - Comics in Film, which included Robin Furth, Jock, Charlie Adlard, and Phil Noto. All of them had worked on TV and film in some way or another, from The Walking Dead to Dredd, and opened up a discussion about translating the comics medium to film. The panel became more like an intimate conversation with the audience, which was great. I managed to ask them whether they thought the influx of comic book movies has impacted the mainstream perception of comics. The answer was that with well-known franchises like Spider-Man and to some extent The Avengers, it was negligible, but for less well-known comics like Ghost World and The Walking Dead there's clearly a lot of people becoming interested in comics through film. The most interesting and revealing part of the discussion was when the panellists spoke about Hollywood optioning properties. It's not uncommon for Hollywood to go to a convention like San Diego, approach creators and tell them to list all their properties they would like optioning. Because of this, producers end up with huge lists of potential properties to choose from, very few of which come to light. Hollywood loves comic books because a) it saves money on creating new ideas and characters, and b) they can easily visualise characters and scenes because most of the work is already done for them, again, saving them lots of money. It was a great panel to wrap up the final day and I came away from the weekend educated and lighter in the wallet.

- Scott Malthouse

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