Have you ever had a time where you got together with family for a holiday or a reunion, and sat around a table and had one of the craziest and uncontrollable conversations you could imagine, since you are so very close but never see one another? Well then you most likely know exactly how this panel went. A lot of attendees seemed to think it was out of control, but honestly it did just seem like a bunch of family members getting together with an audience. Shatner tried to control the whole panel and ask questions but with The Next Generation cast feeling so comfortable with one another, he just melded into that and was acting like the crazy uncle to the TNG family.
Once questions began, we sometimes got full answers and other times they moved on before the entire answer was finished, for example Michael Dorn was asked how he liked working with his fellow cast members as directors. He went into almost each one but ultimately described them using one word, sometimes followed by a story. Dorn said that Jonathan Frakes was loud, Gates McFadden was like a dancer because she had everything organized perfectly and seemed to glide from place to place, and for LeVar Burton he said “No” because of a time Dorn had done a take wrong and the way LeVar told him to change his action seemed like a person rolling up a newspaper and tapping a dog on the head saying “NO.”
The next question was about how influential Star Trek has been to the world and how it has changed the way we live from our technology to our entire culture and because of this, what are the best inspiring stories they have heard from fans. Gates McFadden told a story about a man who thanked her for helping him in his childhood because he was in foster homes that continually changed so everything in his life changed a lot but the only constant was that he got to watch Star Trek and felt like these characters were his family since they were always there for him. Definitely an awesome story which really gives a different look at how film, television and the entire entertainment industry makes people violent. Another good story that they all commented on was that of an amputee they met who had a wonderful spirit and during his recovery Star Trek and how they portrayed everyone in Starfleet even those with disabilities. The young man credited Star Trek as the reason he had the courage to continue. Now is when Marina Sirtis interrupts and says, “Man… Things just got real, how about a joke?”
If you saw the Gargoyles panel, you may have known what was probably coming and of course it was a joke about the French (hey, she is British, so of course it was about the French) This led to a more lighthearted discussion about what was the worst thing about their experiences on set. Michael Dorn wished his make-up was just for a movie and not a television show, and he mentioned another time his make up ended up with no eyebrows, which if you know Worf you will know how weird that may look. An obvious answer was that LeVar Burton hated his visor, not only could he hardly see a thing, but the actual vizor was screwed into his head to fit and the pad would press right against his temple and it gave him headaches all the time. At this point Shatner leaned over to Michael Dorn and asked if anyone had sex on the set, after a long and awkward pause, LeVar Burton raised his hand and said, “Yes, there was sex, but not between us.”
Going back to fan questions, everyone was asked their favorite villain and all at once they respinded, “Q”, but quickly Gates McFadden added in that she thought the Borg were excellent and that she would say those were her favorite, then Jonathan Frakes also mention the Romulan leader as a favorite for him. After this we got question like “Why are you so awesome?” to William Shatner, and acting advise, where LeVar Burton had a great answer saying, “Don’t. I say this because I try to talk everyone out of being an actor, because if I do, you were never meant to be.” Definitely deep and 100% true as this exact experience (just replace LeVar Burton with Futurama) is why I stopped acting.
Possibly one of the funniest moments was when they asked the person who asked William Shatner why he was awesome to ask a real question and he asked how old they were. All of them reacted the way just about the way everyone does to that question, children aside, but Marina Sirtis got up and walked up to him and make him correct himself to ask the women how young they were. We then get an announcement Shatner has to leave early to catch a filght, which left me kind of wondering, then why did you schedule him to be here? But the panel continued and the only real interesting things that happened were an anti-bullying conversation where a lot of personal stories were told by a bunch of the cast members where Marina Sirtis said that you should let it bother you, where Michael Dorn quickly added that sometimes it is more than just words, so always make sure you can take care of yourself and try as hard as you can to be peaceful but always make sure to be able and defend yourself.
The conversation moved to Michael Dorn’s run on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as Worf. Marina Sirtis lets out a huge grunt and says ,”Deep Sleep Nine, or as Jon calls it, Deep Throat Nine.” It basically just covers the, “what is your favorite?” and “what is your least favorite questions we already have and always have at any panel. The panel ended on a sour note as we hear one question is left and some rude woman asked what all the women thought of playing such stereotypical girly girl roles for Star Trek. I don’t really want to go into much more because if you know what Star Trek even is you should know how absolutely ridiculous that claim and question is.
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Panel Name: Batman 75th
Topic: Q&A with the main characters from the 1960’s TV Batman series
Featured Guests: Adam West (Batman), Burt Ward (Robin) and Julie Newmar (Catwoman)
It’s safe to say that a lot of 80’s babies and beyond don’t have the same appreciation for Adam West and company that our parents did. Most twenty-somethings know Adam West as Mayor West of Quahog from Family Guy, and that’s great, but I think the world needs to be reminded of just how vital Adam West’s portrayal of Batman was to the legacy of Bruce Wayne. The show spanned 120 episodes over a three-year period and had it’s own spin-off movie; it was great fun for the whole family – something that Batman titles have since moved away from.
The Dark Knight, as he is today, is a brutal and melancholy figure. He’s seen multiple close friends die – including his own son. He’s terrifying to his opponents, and off-putting to his colleagues. Oh, and his rogues gallery is filled with sick, twisted freaks that murder children and blow up hospitals. Now, I’m not saying that I don’t love every stinkin’ second that I read Batman, but there’s no denying he’s become more of an adult figure than the one I’ve grown up with in the slightly-dark Batman: The Animated Series, let alone the Batman that my parents grew up with in the 60’s.
This has all been changing. Ever since the Batman 66 series launched last July, adults and children alike have been gravitating back to this light-hearted Batman, which grabs at the nostalgic crowd, and puts Batman back on a relatable plane for children to connect with a character that’s celebrating his 75th birthday this year. The idea of solving riddles and catching the bad guys is a universal concept; not every child needs to see their parents murdered in front of them to relate to the Batman.
Let’s get to the panel, shall we? As Burt Ward, then Julie Newmar, and finally Adam West made their ways to the stage, they were met with possibly one of the warmest welcomes that I had seen at a panel all weekend. Fans from 7-70 years old were so grateful for their chance to meet the cast of Batman. Burt Ward ran out like a contestant on The Price is Right, hands in the air and looking like the most excited person in the world to be there. After Ward comes Julie Newmar, who looked just fantastic! How Newmar manages to stay so fabulous is beyond me, she even smooched the two volunteers that helped her to her seat on the cheek; it was adorable. The real roar happened when Batman himself, Adam West, came strolling up the ramp and onto the stage.
We went straight into the Q&A here, which led to some pretty thoughtful questions right off the bat. When one of the audience members asked the cast if anybody ever felt the show was too campy or silly, West broke the silence with, “No, we’re terribly serious crime fighters!” The show was designed as family entertainment and it was nailed to the history books as such. There was no need to pretend to be more dire than it had to be. When compared to modern Batman, West said that Christian Bale “may be the Dark Knight, but I was the Bright Knight.” Batman ruled the 60’s in pop culture. West said that in the 1960’s, there were 3 B’s: Bond, The Beatles… and Batman.
Julie Newmar was an absolute diva at the panel, which was very reminiscent of her days at Catwoman. She commanded attention, and often became animated when talking about how to be sexy. If you’ve never seen an 80 year old woman take control of her sexuality, all you need is five minutes with Julie Newmar. When asked how her milkshake managed to get all the boys to the yard – I’m paraphrasing here – she says that all you need to do if pour licorice all over your body (dress in all black, not actual licorice for those of you at home trying this) and walk down the street; it’s all in your mind, she says. Somewhere along the line, at this family-friendly panel, she pretended to go down on Adam West, which is shocking only if you don’t know who Julie Newmar is.
It was Burt Ward, who was quiet for a duration of the panel, that had the funniest story to tell. There was a stunt being performed that involved the Batmobile speeding out of the BatCave, then taking a sharp, 90 degree turn at 55 miles per hour. So Burt hops into the Batmobile in costume and turns to see somebody who isn’t Adam West sitting next to him. When asking who is he and where Adam is, the stuntman explains that they are about to do a dangerous driving stunt, and that Adam is over at the break station, drinking coffee. Burt says, “If this is a dangerous stunt, where is my stuntman?”… “Oh, he’s over there drinking coffee with Adam.” When Burt asked why his stunt double isn’t performing the stunt, the response was a flabbergasting, “Well, he doesn’t look like you.” They proceeded to make Burt do the stunt, and when the turn was made, the Batmobile door flung open. The only thing keeping him in the car was one little finger, which dislocated. Burt told us how, over the span of the next week, there were multiple trips made to the ER due to various explosions and other stunts. He laughed it off though, saying that it was the producers’ attempt to make good on his hefty life insurance policy.
The panel was full of nostalgia, just as you would expect from the fan favorite Batman show. The chemistry that the three have is still apparent after nearly fifty years of being off the air. You almost have to remind yourself that these faces of American television are that old, because their faces still light up with life, their voices still bring joy to anybody still breathing. Never take yourself too seriously and always enjoy new experiences. And never be afraid to charge $80 for an autograph – right, Adam?
We were just walking around Denver Comic Con, minding our own business, when Yanick Paquette decided to be the coolest guy in the world. About a month ago, we decided to spotlight our favorite guests at the convention, and Yanick was quite impressed with our research on his piece. When we met him at the convention, we saw not only his extreme talents, but his charisma at work. After chatting it up for 10-15 minutes at his booth, watching him draw a commission for Jean Grey, he asked us if we would like to interview him the following morning. YES! We tried to play it off cool, but we were really excited to meet him. One day and a full night of research later, we were ready to go. We discussed everything from Swamp Thing and Wonder Woman: Earth One to independent books and colorists. He is a full transcription of what went down when Robert and Sherif sat down to interview Yanick Paquette.
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Hush Comics: You just got back from an insane touring schedule in Europe. How does the comic book convention scene abroad compare to how it is in America?
Yanick Paquette: Well, a few years ago, in Europe, you would not charge for sketches and it was more about meeting the fans, I guess. The way I see it, the modern convention, the American structure where fans come and pay for sketches and fans interact, is really the model for everybody now. Except maybe France, who will always resist. In the U.K. for instance, the shows are getting bigger, better and longer. This is the case in the United States, too. Here, it is the third year in Denver. It is a pretty decent, huge show. In Montreal, I’m from Montreal, and there were little shows trying to pop up now and then and there were crappy shows and they didn’t last. We have a show in Montreal. I’m not sure how many editions there are, maybe the 5th edition. Now there is some traction.
I am doing a lot of shows, only because my schedule allows it. As I’m not doing a monthly book, I can agree to more. For instance, in August, I am going to Argentina. Eduardo Risso has a small show there. He’s invited just a few people. That is going to be fun. I’m doing Malta. I’m doing a few other shows abroad. [This weekend] it is Charlotte for me. I’m all over the place. It’s good. When I started doing comics, the idea was, ‘Can I get a living out of just drawing? That is good enough if I can get a living out of drawing. Not even a big living, just drawing and get some money.’ That was good enough. But it turned out it’s a way to travel now, so I am traveling all over the place. That was unexpected, but it’s great.
HC: Checking out your Twitter feed, we see that you do as much promoting of other creators as you do for yourself. Is there any work out right now that you feel that the world needs to know more about?
YP: There is Jeremy Bastian, over there. He has a booth here. He is doing something called Cursed Pirate Girl. His stuff is absolutely amazing. He is shy and gentle, and he works his thing. It’s, of course, not Marvel and DC, because it is way too good. He’s been doing his thing forever. Now he is getting some attention in Europe. Obviously that kind of material will work super well in France. I think he is getting there now. Everyone should be aware of this man’s existence because he is just a miracle.
HC: A couple of months ago you expressed the need for DC to start trying to keep their elite colorists in their staple. Can you go into some detail about how much a colorist contributes to the work of the book?
YP: It is a massive contribution. I’m not going to give names, but I’ve been colored by people who have just destroyed my entire month of work. As you open a book, it is the first thing you see. You don’t see the story, because you have to read it. The picture takes some time to acknowledge, but the color is the first thing that is going to punch you in the face. A good colorist can help you with the story telling, can push forward the understanding of the page – the atmosphere and everything. I’m inking myself. I’m penciling and inking, and the only other guy on the team is the colorist. It’s a two-man operation. There’s a lot that I leave for him to do, and it’s truly a team effort. Back in the day, in the 80’s for instance, colorists could do 10 or 20 books a month. It didn’t matter because it was just flat, simple color. But now it is complex stuff. And when it is complex you can really screw it up. [Doing his best colorist impression] ‘I’m going to airbrush everything. I’m going to paint over things.’ Sadly, there are a lot of people in DC and Marvel, mostly at DC, that is part of the problem that will go into not-so-great coloring.
It is obvious that talent is required and talent has to be recognized and paid accordingly. I couldn’t say if DC pays the colorists less than Marvel. I think DC, in general, will pay more. We have overseas royalties. I think they treat the artist better, but the colorist’s stature is still part of the production department more than on the art team, which was the case for both DC and Marvel. Years ago, Marvel did change that structure. DC I’m sure will, sooner or later, follow into that legal structure with their colorists because it won’t make sense. They are always on the same bracket, but it has been a few years that DC hasn’t complied with that new definition of what the colorist should be. When you have your name on the cover and the little on the royalties, it’s not going to be huge money for anyone, but it is a symbol that you are part of team and that you are responsible for the success or the failing of the product. And we recognize that.
On that subject, when I went out and said that [referring to colorists getting paid], Bleeding Cool, spun the story saying that I’m challenging DC to pay. But it isn’t confrontational at all. I have total faith in DC to do it. If anybody needs to take a breath and play ball it is the writer and the artist. That world is a pie. DC allows a piece of the cover price to be split between the art team. I am asking to revisit the pie. Let’s take a bit of my money, of the writer’s money, and the inker’s money, and let’s share that with the colorist so he is part of our team. The challenge might be to get some of the writers and artists to give. It’s more the art team that I challenge to recognize the colorists.
HC: So speaking of colorists, are there any who you specifically love and would really like to work with?
YP: I’m working with Nathan Fairbairn for… He’s my man. We have been working together for a long time. He was working with me, and Chris Burnham, on Batman Inc. We work together because of our friendship, because we have been working together for a long time and because I trust him totally. We have a good working relationship of respect. He brought forward that it’s not so cool [colorists not being paid]. Especially, Wonder Woman: Earth One has a long shelf life. Who knows how much it is going to sell? It wasn’t so fun for him to come aboard on this and not get any piece of it. In part, it was for him that I came forward saying that we should change. I had a hard time to convince him to stay on Wonder Woman. ‘I need you! I don’t want to go onto 120 pages with someone I don’t know.’ It’s very intimate. My artwork is super intimate. I spend so much time and it is very personal. And you are inviting other people in your bed to share this thing with you, you don’t want someone that you don’t trust or that you don’t know who will screw this stuff up. When Nathan was not sure, I had two other options: Dave Stewart, who is absolutely a miracle, probably the best colorist there is, and Laura Martin. Laura is also an absolute magnificent colorist. I’m glad that we ended up working out something with Nathan for this. As I do a page, I feel confident that my man has my back if something goes wrong, and if he is there, the page is going to look good. He boosts my confidence.
HC: Perhaps your most notable signature your crazy panel layouts and how you split up the panels with different elements of the story. What was your inspiration to do this?
YP: It started a little bit before Swamp Thing. I did an issue of Wolverine: Weapon X called “Insane in the Brain” by Jason Aaron. The story goes that Wolverine is trapped in this asylum and he is getting pushed towards madness by this evil guy. Every panel in that book is crooked. It doesn’t look like it if you look at the book, but none of the corners align. Everything is slightly off balance. As you get crazier and crazier, the stuff gets more crooked. There are a few pages where he snaps out of it and he comes to his senses, and then everything is super straight. It is super-subtle. I’m pretty sure nobody really saw that, but they might feel it on the subconscious level.
When I do crazy stuff, it is for storytelling purposes. In Swamp Thing, the first script came in from Scott [Snyder], a great script, but pretty down to earth. It was a 10-page script and a guy talking. To me, when I thought about Swamp Thing, I thought of an Alan Moore crazy, wild thing. In my own relationship to Swamp Thing through the years, I discovered, my first artistic love was Berni Wrightson on Swamp Thing. And then I discovered my first love in writing was Alan Moore on Swamp Thing. And then I got to do SwampThing. For me it was something personal. It was like coming back home, almost like a full circle. To me, that book had to reflect my past, the past guys who were on Swamp Thing, and my own relationship to comics. I had to put their name in there and also part of their style. The script was very down to earth. So I figured that maybe just the panel layout could be enough to give you a sense that this is not going to be like other comics, it would be pushing forward in trying things in terms of story telling. So I made a code for everything that happened in that story. If the Green is acting on reality, if the Rot is acting on reality, if you are in the Green… When Abigail is there, the panels are not straight. They are more angular because she is more hard edge, now. All sorts of details like that. You can combine, or you can dial down the fact. But they are always aligned with what is happening in the story. It didn’t take that much time that every single thing in Swamp Thing was bizarre, so every single panel was bizarre. You give what you got. It was really freeing.
At first, I did that by doing something different to reflect what Swamp Thing should be. But I wasn’t sure if people would buy it at all. Maybe it was too confusing. There are things that are challenging. But people absolutely loved it. After 2 years, as I am doing my layout for Wonder Woman, I can’t do straight borders. It isn’t the same set of codes, because what I did on Swamp Thing was for Swamp Thing. It is harder to plan with Grant [Morrison] because [Wonder Woman: Earth One] is a long story. It is hard to see it in its entirety because I don’t have the script for the whole story. It’s hard to plan the element of design. But I try to do other things that I feel are cool.
HC: Your resume is full of work with fantastic writers, even before the New52. Are there any writers who you have worked with at your days with Marvel that you would like to reconnect with?
YP: When I worked with Jason Aaron, that was the absolute best. I’m talking to you Jason! That script was so intelligent. I had fun with Matt Fraction, too. I was lucky enough to do Uncanny X-Men, which was a self-contained story, so I really made that mine. It was very packed with emotion. There were impossibly deep emotional moments. In comics, you can end up having people fighting for 3 or 4 pages. I don’t care for violence; I don’t find it exciting. What I find exciting is these impossible emotions. In that issue of Uncanny X-Men, Dr. Nemesis goes back in the past. He has to meet his mother and father then sees his father dying. His mother is dying, too, but she pregnant, too. So he delivers himself out of his dying mother. He is always pristine white; he is like Mr. Perfect. But the last few pages, he is coming out of his mom’s bedroom with himself in his arms, his coat is full of blood. What are these moments? They are so intense. They give you goose bumps. Swamp Thing was full of those moments, too. There are huge sacrifices. It’s a love story. But it was crazy and weird at the same time with profound moments. I do comics for those moments.
HC: Let’s talk about Wonder Woman. How does it differ from the monthly series?
YP: First of all, it’s Earth One. So, you know the other Earth One’s, it’s kind of like Marvel’s Ultimates. There are no rules. You can reinvent stuff. Archetypes and elements can come back because they are expected by readers. Because of that, you can play with those. We have free-reign to do whatever we want. Outside of continuity we can do anything. Wonder Woman somehow has a hard time getting a movie for herself or attention beyond the T-shirts and lunch boxes and figurines; to get her to mainstream solo status like she was in the 70’s was very hard. You can do that with Batman or Superman, but not Wonder Woman. People were like, ‘You should do the regular series! She needs help now.’ I love Azzarello’s work. I think it is great. I don’t think she needs that much help in the New52. All the usual revolutions, the big changes for the characters, like Batman for instance, The Dark Knight Returns was not part of the continuity. It was a futuristic story, like an Elseworld. I don’t think Elseworlds existed in the time of Frank Miller. But that thing was so strong, it defined what Batman was. He is now the injured vengeance-ridden kid. Same for Kingdom Come that really rebalanced everything with the DC Universe. If you look at all the films of Marvel, it is not the Thor of the regular series, but it is the Ultimates. It is the Mark Millar work that makes it to the screen. But then again, these alternate stories were so efficient and make so much sense because they have the liberty to redefine what they are in the context of today. Now, even the regular books, which are not the Ultimates, are tainted with the stories of The Avengers, stories of Aaron, and they have all been Ultimate-ized. You almost can’t tell them apart anymore. It is a revolution for a character. Try it outside of the box, and if it is good enough, the box will absorb it.
HC: How does drawing for a script oriented like Scott Snyder on Swamp Thing differ from a writer like Grant Morrison?
YP: It is hard to tell, because I am really proactive as an artist. I’ll take a lot of liberty. I consider my domain to be more than drawing what they ask. I am going to claim some land, for creation purposes. In the case of Scott, at first I had a full script. OK, we are going to do concept drawing – like the panel borders. My job was to tell the story but also push my own graphic agenda. In the case of Grant, Grant will give you a script with very basic dialogue. He will think about the big chunk of concept and all the craziness. Sometimes he locks attention to the little detail. ‘In this scene, these guys need to walk to one place or another,’ just the physicality of the mundane story telling aspect. And you will give this to your artist to make it make sense. You need to trust your artist and to give them some rope. I figure that is why he is always working with the same 5 or 6 guys because he trusts us to bring the kind of script he is giving us to a place where he is satisfied on which he can do the last pass before printing. It is a trusting, touching moment that he gives me so much room. You have to trust him too to bring that ship to the port at the end, because sometimes I’m sending pages and I’m not exactly sure where it is going to land. I trust him the way he trusts me. Because he works with the art finished, he adapts himself to what he gets. In my case, he never asks for redrawing. If I make a decision to fix something that I feel will work better, he doesn’t mind. It is always a work in progress until the last minute. He is always able to react to the art and be creative. As I do a page, I know Grant will make something out of it.
HC: Your first monthly gig was Wonder Woman. The coolest thing I remember about it was the armor with the eagle head.
YP: I did not invent that costume.
HC: I thought I had seen an earlier armor version but not one with the American flag and the eagle helmet.
YP: It’s been a while. I know that in that run of Wonder Woman, I did invent the Fortress of Solitude with the huge flying coliseum with animals in there and armor galleries. It was the new Invisible Plane, because that thing could turn invisible also. I remember designing that. Maybe I updated the armor, but I wonder if it wasn’t Adam Hughes who did it for the cover. Or maybe it’s a spin on an Alex Ross design. It’s funny that today I get to do Wonder Woman again after all these years in probably the most different context possible. Back then, I didn’t know what I was doing. I was just trying to learn in front of everyone. A lot of those pages are like [he groans]. The idea was just to get the stuff done on time. That was the challenge of the day. Learning the craft. Getting my stuff done on time. There are a lot of pages in there that I am not proud of. But I was unknown, so that was the deal. Now I have the chance to represent the character, but with no deadline, and prestige format, with a massive writer. Now I know exactly what I am supposed to me. I am fully armed and geared for the process. I am going to redeem myself.
HC: DC Collectibles is releasing a Wonder Woman Art of War statue in the image of your Wonder Woman in October. Did you have a hand in the 3D design for that?
YP: Yeah, I did the design. So, I did the turnaround. Funny thing, though – that costume that I designed for Wonder Woman, not to spoil any of the story itself, but she came to the island with that design from the man’s world. Most of the story is a flashback from before that where she doesn’t wear that. I don’t know how that is going to play out. There are still a few pages to come that I have to draw still. It might very well turn out that the design for the statue is like two pages worth of what is going on in that book. She actually wears another costume. I designed that a long time ago, way before I had a decent chunk of script. If I had to redesign it again, I might have used the version I’m using in the book, which is a little different. But yeah, I did the turnaround. That was my first statue. I had no idea how to do it.
HC: It’s cool to see that you actually had a hand in designing.
YP: Because it is a statue, they ask the artist ‘Can you figure out a pose? Can you figure out a design?’ Action figures [are different]. They did a huge Swamp Thing with the wings. It is a massive toy. They sent me a box of those that made me pretty happy. But that, I had nothing to do with. All the design is obviously mine. There is a page in Issue #8 when he is coming down at the Rot with the wings. It is a massive toy. It is bigger than everyone. It is part of the New52 set of toys. I don’t know the scale, but Swamp Thing is just a monster so he goes in the massive monster box.
HC: I know everyone is asking you when the book is coming out. Can we assume that since the Wonder Woman statue is coming out in October, there might be something around the corner?
YP: No. I haven’t done all the pages. I have good chunks of stuff to do. I feel like October might come a bit too soon. Maybe DC’s promotional department might want to gather a bunch of Earth One’s together for a big event. I know Gary [Frank] has another Batman [Earth One] going and there’s another Superman going. I think it is in their ballpark. They will find a way to sell that thing at an appropriate moment. I have a feeling that it might be at the very beginning of 2015. My goal is to finish it this year. I have been on it too long. I over-think. Working with a flexible deadline, I am doing my best. At the end of the day, the extra perfection that I have managed to put in there is the one that takes the most time. Without it, I would have totally done the book super fast and nobody would recognize there is a little… If I would just give it up, nobody would care, except for me. I could make that book super fast. That’s the problem with a long deadline, I want to do the best and then it takes even more time.
HC: Working on a non-monthly book, it must allow for a more balanced lifestyle. We were wondering what hobbies you have on the side?
YP: I do travel a lot. I do a lot of conventions. That’s what I do. I used to do a lot of music. I write music and record it. There is some stuff online.
YP: The Swamp Thing is a more orchestral film soundtrack. When I write serious stuff it’s mostly string quartets. But I’ve been writing a long time. With convention schedules, you travel and then come home and then I’m exhausted. Then I have to do two or three pages. It’s just a lot. Honestly, I don’t think I’ll say yes to too many people in terms of shows this year. But I will survive and I will take it as a warning.
HC: How did you get into writing music?
YP: It was a hobby when I was a kid, reading and writing music. In my teens I would write stuff. The things I really enjoy, there is no market. Classical or Baroque music – nobody cares for that. I went into Biology first and then I had a reality check and figured it wasn’t what I wanted to do. I considered Music for about an hour and half and then I went into comics instead. I may have ended up doing a movie score or having an orchestra. But there are so many good guys in movie scores; it’s such a huge market. I didn’t want to do jingles for advertising. I figure I will keep my music as pure as I want with no compromise. I’ll do my own thing for myself. I don’t need the public for that. I’ve posted it online because people have said, ‘You should post it online. It’s funny.’ But it’s for me really. And with the comic aspect, I’ll play ball a little bit more. And I did at first. Now I’m pickier with what I want. And maybe because I can do whatever I want in comics, I don’t feel the need to write music anymore.
HC: You have worked on a lot of established franchises. We wanted to know if you had any interest in doing something creator owned for an independent publisher or are you with DC forever?
YP: Honestly, I am looking for a creator owned in a very serious way. As I look at the industry now, DC and Marvel, every book you do, you can rest assured that the next book, even though you do your best the book is going to sell less. They are never going to sell more unless you kill a character or you put Jim Lee in the book. Every book will sell less than the one before. That trend has been going on with every single book of DC and Marvel for the past 5 or 10 years. The only places where I actually see growth is in the independent. Granted they start lower, so they have room to go up, but they do. They offer something different, something fresh. A few years ago when people would come in with a portfolio who were prime for DC, I would push them to try Image or do something independent and then come back to DC with that name. Now I am seeing the opposite. Get to DC or Marvel and make a name for yourself, then go to Image and cash in. Do something you own. From that point of view, if I would do something at Image and sell five times less, but do more money and do whatever I want. I don’t have anything against spandex and superheroes. I’ve done it a lot and enjoyed it as a kid. But it is a limited a genre. After a while you have told the story you wanted to tell. Spandex guy punching another spandex guy. I have done all the angles. I want to tell other kinds of stories. In other media, in movies or books, you get all different stories and they sell to different markets. But comics have been trapped into one mainstream, one little type of fiction. It makes no sense. But now Horror is coming again, I may not want to do pure Horror stuff. I won’t tell what I am looking into because I am not sure myself. I think the typing is good with miracles like The Walking Dead. Which is a fluke. You can’t say, ‘[In his best American accent] Oh! I’m just gonna do The Walking Dead. That seems like a profitable business plan.’ It’s a fluke! It’s something weird. But what happened is that people in the mainstream, and when I say mainstream, it’s not comic mainstream. This is not mainstream. This is a little bubble of weird geeks. The true world realizes that The Walking Dead came from a book. They enter into a comic book store with no geek preconception about qualities of DC and Marvel and the rest are amateurs. They don’t care for that. They’ll look and maybe by Chew or Saga. The readership has expanded. That is why The Walking Dead and some of these independent books are getting good numbers because it is fresh readership. It is fresh blood. It is people from the outside world coming and seeing that we are doing something that kind of makes sense.
HC: Our wrap up question is, what can fans except to see you in soon and where is the best place to reach you?
YP: I’ll be Charlotte this coming weekend. I’ll probably do New York. I will be in Portland this year, too. I will be in Malta for the Italian people who may read this. I’ll be in Argentina. There is a show in Montreal. I’ll drop by there and say hello. I am fairly easy to reach over Twitter and Facebook. I am pretty well-versed in the Web 2.0. [Also check out his DeviantArt page to see some of his beautiful commissions!]
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Panel Name: The Oatmeal
Topic: The Inception of The Oatmeal, Michael Inman’s start, Jizz Castles
Featured Guests: Michael Inman (creator of The Oatmeal)
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect at the start of this panel, and I felt the exact same way when it was all said and done. This was one of the funniest experiences I’ve ever had at a panel in the last three years. What started out as a history lesson about Michael and his website, accompanied by awesome drawings, slowly lead into science lessons about some of the more interesting creatures in the animal kingdom.
I actually had a deep appreciation for the way Michael got his start in the business, as I had a similar experience a year or so ago myself. Waking up and realizing that he wasn’t happy with what he was doing, he decided to make a change. He got his first start founding a a website for online dating that included cat pictures, which eventually led to the creation of the book How to Tell if Your Cat is Plotting to Kill You.
During his presentation, we were told all about different aspects of the website such as his dislike for making money from ads to making sure he includes bonus material in his books so people have an incentive to purchase. He also talked about how the simplicity of his drawings are what makes them funny and how the more detailed you get, the less funny something becomes.
From this point forward, the panel consisted of a science lesson about things like the Red Velvet Mite, how shitty it is to be a Male Angler Fish, Penis Fencing, Mallard Ducks and the Mantis Shrimp. The accompanying pictures were absolutely hilarious and only added to the stories he was telling. This, however, pales in comparison to watching the ladies there in charge of sign language for the hearing impaired. Certain parts of the panel actually had people paying more attention to the two ladies up front than the guest of honor – so much so that it was even mentioned during the Q&A. If you ever wondered how to say jizz-castle in sign language, than this was the panel for you. It almost left me in tears, it was so funny.
The Q&A went just about how I expected but nothing meaningful was really asked. We did learn about a charity Michael took part in in town and how he would love to run a marathon for his charities here as well but Coloradoans are too cheetah-like for him. This panel was amazing and will make my future reading of the website even better after having gotten a glimpse into the mind of the man behind these tales.
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Panel Name: Gargoyles 20th Anniversary Reunion
Topic: Q&A with cast, crew and the creator of Gargoyles
Featured Guests: Greg Weisman, Jonathan Frakes, Marina Sirtis, Jim Cummings, Salli Richardon-Whitfield, Greg Guler, and Vic Cook
There are and have been a lot of anniversary events this year and one Denver Comic Con decided to cover was the 20th anniversary of Gargoyles. It worked perfectly since another was the 25th anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation, which goes right with this as the entire Star Trek cast, other than Patrick Stewart, did a voice at some point during this series. This panel only had Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis as they played main villains in the series but the panel also included, Greg Guler, Vic Cook, Jim Cummings, Salli Richardson-Whitfield, and the creator, Greg Weisman. Greg W was supposed to moderate the panel but if anybody knows Jonathan Frakes, Marina Sirtis and most of the Star Trek: TNG crew, you know nobody is in charge when they are in the panel.
Frakes pretty much took control of the panel and there was not much from anyone else but Marina Sirtis, occasionally Greg Weisman, and little things from everyone else. This aside, It still was very entertaining and gave us all as deep of a look into Gargoyles we could get with Frakes and Sirtis going nuts the whole time. The series itself was made by Disney and although you can see things like The Lion King and Donald Duck displayed on televisions in select episodes, Disney did not have much control over the series itself (that is until Disney destroyed it for the Goliath Chronicles). You can definitely see influences from Disney, as well as how Goliath has similarities from every child’s worst nightmare from Fantasia, the demon Chernabog.
Even with Disney making it and ultimately destroying it with what can honestly be called an entirely different series with Goliath Chronicles since the staff and crew were pretty much entirely different. A lot of the themes and ideas from the great two original seasons the show had such as Shakespearean references are what made the show great and that much more wonderful for children to watch all seemed lost within this supposed “Third” season Disney made. Shakespeare had such a big impact on the show that we had characters of the Weird Sisters, and Macbeth, but many other historical and literal references such as King Arthur, which made this not only a great fantasy series but took so much stuff kids should learn and set things up so that they would actually seek out who these people were furthering their interest in learning and reading, I am looking at you Anansi, or LeVar Burton as he is known outside of Gargoyles.
Now, the final thing to mention was there was talk of a live action Gargoyles film and Greg Weisman actually told us all it may happen but Disney has a different script of Scottish gargoyles coming to life in New York and working with a female cop and it is not Gargoyles (This type of copying with no credit sickens me). However, after the initial mention Marina Sirtis made sure to mention that if any fans want anything, all you have to do is bombard the studios that own the properties. In a day and age where fans have brought back Family Guy, Futurama, Arrested Development and more because of their constant badgering of the studios has proven useful and ultimately shows that there is always a chance something can come back after death, at least in the world of television. Hopefully, if this film does get made, we can have another Star Trek reunion and maybe Patrick Stewart could finally make his Gargoyles performance which he would do according to Marina Sirtis because as she said, “Patrick is a whore now and he would do just about anything.”
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Denver Comic Con 2014 was a weekend I will always remember. I spent it with my roommate, cosplaying with her as Sherlock and John from the BBC Sherlock, attending engaging panels and meeting some of our most beloved stars. One of those stars made a huge impact on me. I was able to tell Julie Newmar (in full Catwoman attire) how she and her character had empowered me; she took my hand and inspired me all over again.
In 2009, I was a freshman in high school and had just escaped a tortuous relationship with my middle school peers. I was only starting to discover that my preconceived notions that being a nerd was something undesirable were wrong. The extreme contrast between the Catholic middle school where liking Star Trek warranted harassment and the arts magnet high school that condoned nerd expression had my head spinning. I had two friends who were exceptionally nerdy. Together we would talk for hours about everything from Harry Potter to Rocky Horror Picture Show. We were a nerd trifecta and they had made me realize that reading comic books wasn’t something to be ashamed of. However, it didn’t help me become any less timid or socially awkward.
One day, my friends approached me about a Science Fiction convention called “StarFest”and asked if I was going. I told them I had never heard of it and they promptly said, “Then you’re going.” So I bought my ticket and, a few days after, they asked if I wanted to Cosplay with them. It was as if they were speaking another language. Again, when I told them I didn’t know what they were talking about, they made the decision that I was going to join them in their costumed escapade.
They were going to Cosplay as Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy so I decided I would complete their femme fatale and go as Catwoman. Their costumes were amazing. Mine was…less so. At the time, my Catwoman Cosplay consisted of a long sleeve black shirt that was fraying at the sleeves, black skinny jeans, my mother’s black leather boots and my friend’s mask. If it weren’t for the mask, I would have looked like just another person attending the convention, but it was the funnest weekend I had ever had. Those leather boots and that mask made me feel like a literal superhero, even though I was Cosplaying as a villain. Nothing could cut through the euphoria of running around the convention center and having our picture taken over and over again. Having been bullied relentlessly for liking Catwoman in middle school, the fact that that character empowered me now felt like I had finally won the battle.
Over the years my Catwoman Cosplay evolved, becoming more complex. One year, I traded my shirt and jeans for an actual catsuit. The next, I got my own cat ears and began painting my mask on. I kept my mother’s boots as an homage to her, and because they still worked perfectly for the cosplay. I dawned a belt and this year bought a whip and googles to complete the transformation. To this day, the Catwoman I become every few months is still evolving, much like myself outside the convention center. I’ve gone from an emotionally scarred girl who didn’t think she’d make it to age sixteen to a strong woman on my way to college, determined to achieve my dreams. I’ve gone from kitten to Catwoman.
“Never let any barriers hold you back, Charlotte,” Julie Newmar told me this weekend. “If something feels right, you do it! And if it doesn’t, then you don’t.” I was unable to hold back the tears as she spoke to me. “And look at you! You’ve got the suit, the ears. You even have the whip!” She then signed my cat ears and though it was supposed to cost money, she got out from behind her booth and took a photo with me. Even at age 80, she is inspiring, sassy and purrrfect as ever. I don’t believe in epiphanies, but I think that moment with Julie has set something in motion in me. I no longer have to slip that catsuit on to feel powerful. I am.