Tuesday, April 4, 2017

WonderCon '17: The Panels

Aside from an excellent exhibit floor, WonderCon had several panels every hour and we ended up attending several on Friday and Saturday. On Friday we checked out a session on the pre-visualization of hit Wolverine movie Logan where guests discussed creating a non-superhero movie starring superheroes and how writer/director James Mangold pushed them to "make it real". Which is kind of weird when you think of it since the dude has a metal skeleton and another guy can control people with his mind but whatever. It did push the crew to be more creative and not fall back on tired tropes or exaggerated action sequences with lots of explosions. After that it was a celebration of Buffy and Angel to celebrate 20 years with a preview of an upcoming oral history book from genre writer and super fan Mark A. Altman and Edward Gross. This was a fun panel as the two talked about how they ended up writing a book on Buffy (their publisher wanted another book after their Star Trek themed oral history, anniversary was coming, one of their favorite shows) and the good old days of genre journalism of the 80's and 90's with Fangoria, Starlog, Cinefantastique and Cinescape. Gross told a funny story about looking up Joss Whedon and calling him and the young writer being so thankful of the early support. In the years to come, Whedon would make himself available to Gross for hours at a time for interviews but when Whedon landed The Avengers, the accessibility ended.

The Arena was pretty quiet and media presence was limited in general with only Warner Brothers putting on a studio panel that filled up quick as Annabelle 2 and Wonder Woman were previewed. But the cast and crew of Archie showed up to a full house with Luke Perry looking very scruffy and not knowing how to handle social media while the kid who plays Archie started talking and freaked everyone out. Turns out he's from New Zealand and has the accent too boot.

Jim Lee's WildStorm celebrated 25 years with a large panel of artists, writers, inkers and contributors. Highlight tidbits included learning that Lee now has 9 kids from two wives and that WS started off in a one bedroom apartment, then two bedrooms then an actual studio in a bank building. Lee and long time inker Scott Williams argued about who would pay for the fax machine and realized they needed assistants and finance people to actual run a company. It was a very familial atmosphere as Lee encouraged young artists to strive and become the next themselves, not a copy of him. Many were away from home for the first time and lived in a nice apartment in a nice part of town that was soon trashed and dubbed the "Crack house". Lee helped the young guys with money, buying cars, bailed them out of jail and to save time, hired someone to come in and cut all of their hair at the same time. Apparently they all got sweet bowl cuts. There was mention of Brett Booth who unfortunately couldn't attend, Damme it! I asked Lee if between WildCats toys, a video game and animated series if a film was ever seriously considered. He responded that it never got past the pitch stage and it would have just been too big a project for the pre-X-Men and Spider-Man era.

We caught the tail end of Valiant's panel on digital offerings that includes a Ninjak web series then sat in for the Street Fighter 30th Anniversary. Cleaned up versions of old games are on the way as well as additional upgrades to latest release Street Fighter V. E-gaming league, the Capcom Cup is also in full swing with hundreds of thousands of dollars up for grabs. I'd love to check one of these events some day to see some bitching gameplay and epic smack talk.

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