PLAN Diego: Day Two: Information Overload

James Hatton here – live, and when I say live, I mean typed up an hour before I go hit the bar on our second full convention day. If you were wondering how Danielle (my lifepartner in crime) and I have been doing – we’ve been having ourselves more fun than you should be able to shove into a week at FAAAHBULOUS California.

(Tim Stevens just blew me a kiss. I’m not sure how to take that.)

You’ll take it as a friggin’ honor, that’s how you’ll take it, damn it.

Today the Nexus posse went and hit the panels, went and had some seafood and Mexican, and now we are chilling in the hotel and soon will be heading off to another night of throwing back and slowly ruling the world.

…maybe not the ruling the world part.

…but, there will in fact be drinking.

Here are your panels:


From Comics To Film
Jhonen Vasquez
Teen Titans: Celebrating 25 Years
DC Vertigo
Marvel House of M
Spotlight on Brian K. Vaughan
Crisis Counseling


From Comics to Film

If I’m honest with you, I really only attended this panel for two reasons: The first was Brian K Vaughan’s big announcement and the second was Stan Lee. Let me just say, in complete honesty, that the Man does not disappoint in person. He really is that larger than life figure. Easily the highlight of the whole thing was Lee signing Vaughan’s No-Prize.

Besides Lee and Vaughan, the panel was also attended by screenwriters Josh Olson (History of Violence) and Zak Penn (X- Men 2, X-Men 3, Elektra) and Marvel Studio Executive Vice President Kevin Feige.

And now, here’s the news

-Since it already was leaked, most of you should know that New Line just optioned Ex Machina. What might not have been reported (I didn’t read the industry papers on the matter) is that Vaughan is getting first shot at the script and Machina artist Tony Harris will be doing the designs for the film.

-Zak Penn, before the panel, was overheard saying of X-Men 3 director Brett Ratner (Red Dragon, Rush Hour) that, “he’s focused on the right things…Brett’s wonderful. The problems…are with the studio and the time.”

-The film starts up in, and this was once again overheard, about two and a half weeks.

-During the panel Penn confirmed that a large part of the plot would involve the Dark Phoenix Saga, but that there is more going on than that.

-The movie will not involve things like the moon or Lilandra and Co of the Shiar because they simply do not fit into the world of the X-Men films.

-The X3 draft written by he and Simon Kinsberg was completed in about a week.

-Penn, Kinsberg and Brian Michael Bendis are planning to collaborate on an unnamed screenplay in the near future.


Celebrating 25 Years of the New Teen Titans

With the Titans in the midst of a renaissance of sorts, it is fitting to look back at Wolfman’s take on the team that was one of the best selling titles at either of the Big 2 during it’s heyday. As such, Barbara Kesel, the editor of the New Teen Titans moderated, and Marv Wolfman, the writer, sat on the panel. Along with them were current Titans writer Geoff Johns, classic Titans artist Nick Cardy, and the producer of the Teen Titans cartoon, Gleen Murakami.

Before I go any further, a word to all comic fans who are now parents. It is not right to dress your children as comic characters and parade them around the con to get attention from creators. Your children will resent you for it. Plus, it is sort of creepy.

Enough about that. Back to our creators.

But what did they have to say? Ask and ye shall be answered.

-Wolfman has been asked by every creator on Titans since his trademark run for his input/feedback. However, he always refuses because he did not work that when he wrote New Teen Titans and would not want to deny those creators the kind of creativity he had,

-Wolfman has “no idea” what’s happening with the Titans OGN Games, originally began in the 80’s. At this time, he is just waiting for the art to be finished.

-Donna Troy, Wolfman, Cardy, and Kesel’s favorite character, is set up for a large role going forward in the DCU according to Johns, but he was unwilling to say what team, if any she’d end up on when all is said and done.

-DC is “working on it [making comics more available]” according to DC exec Paula Lowitt by getting them into bookstores, 7-11’s, grocery stores and the like.

-The current Titans squad is headed for a lineup shake up post Infinite Crisis to reflect the “pretty radical change in the direction of the book.”

-Johns summarized issue #28 by saying, “Characters don’t always stay dead.”
This was in reference to a question about the character Omen.

-#29 has Jason Todd (the Red Hood) dropping by to visit Tim Drake.

-#31-32 will feature appearances by Nightwing

-The Doom Patrol will also appear at some point in the comic and the cartoon

-Finally, all fans can breathe easier. Johns promises, “You’ll see Titans East eventually, too.” Whew.


Spotlight on Jhonen Vasquez

I’m not a Jhonen fanboy. I’ve dated Jhonen fangirls and associated with his legions of fanboys (half of whom got into his stuff to get laid by the -girls), but for the most part, I’ve kept a respectful distance away from this pop-culture icon. I enjoyed Invader Zim, but the rest I could leave or take. It always seemed to me that whatever nutjob was responsible for Squee! or JTHM would probably be an annoying little f*** full of self-importance and inside jokes.

So imagine my surprise when J. Vasquez Esquire turned out to be an entertaining little f***. Imagine MSI’s Johnny Urine on about thirty Qualuudes who can actually dress himself – that’s about Jhonen’s speed. His spotlight was peppered with anecdotes of his start in comics (as prodded by his publisher), how I Feel Sick relates to Zim (working in a sucky environment), and some of the really bad questions he gets at every appearance “Will you design my tatoo?”

“No. F*** no. And No Again.” As it turns out.

JTHM was about the things that pissed him off (apparently, blood that won’t stay wet), while Squee was about his childhood fears (apparently, being abducted by aliens). 2005 marks the tenth anniversary of ot; target=new>JTHM and Jhonen’s first music video (appropriately, for MSI). It’s been a good run for this little freak.

In the middle of this video-game-riddled ADD Q&A, he comes out with a surprisingly deep thought – J.V. is fascinated by people who are capable of producing wonderful things, but don’t. It speaks at a mind that’s capable of digging beneath the strange and random humor and desires more. The newest book by him will be a dark and introspective tale, one about other things than the laughs that populate his other works. An interesting spell…quickly shattered by the following description:

“The new book? Gonna make people sh!+.

Explosively.”

I think that sums it up right there.


Vertigo!

It is damn near impossible to tell you all of the people who were at this panel. When I tell you that it was literally the entire table full and then artists and creators were lining the wall, I would be in fact explaining to you how it worked. Being run by Vertigo Editor, Karen Berger, the full panel turned out to mainly be a showing of some of the new books coming out… here is my list. Again, if I screwed up a name, yeah, sorry… you know who I mean.

The full list of participants, if you are curious were Brian Azzarello, Brian K Vaughan, Jill Thompson, Dean Haspiel, Bill Willingham, Pia Guerra, Peter Gross, Will Dennis, Karen Bergen (as moderator), Brian Wood, Steve Seagle, Liam Sharpe, David Tischman, Josh Dysart, Gilbert Hernandez, Becky Clooney, and Shelly Bond. Feel free to carry on now Jamie.

-THE QUITTER – Harvey Pekar’s origin story as being drawn by attendee Dean Haspiel. This is a story that seems mostly autobiographical about Pekar’s younger days as a bully.

-DEADBOY DETECTIVES – A Jill Thompson book in a similar vein as ‘At Death’s Door’. Done in that light anime style, and apparently much more whimsical and fun than Gaiman’s original Dead Boys.

-FABLES GRAPHIC NOVEL: 1001 NIGHTS OF SNOWFALL – A slew of artists each doing small stories that take place in the Homeland of Fables. What happened to the 7 Dwarves? Who were Bigby’s parents? Where is Frogcatcher’s wife & child? These are the kinds of character developing stories that we should expect out of this 140pg hardcover.

-JACK OF FABLES – The first Fables spinoff will continue where the last Jack story ended… literally seconds after – and find out what happened to our favorite Ogreslayer.

-PRIDE OF BAGHDAD – I’ll leave this one for you to go check out the Brian K Vaughan section of this column, but this sounds like the piece you uses to surpass himself as a superhero writer.

-CAN’T GET NO – In early 06, this is a book about a man who is lead away from New York prior to 9/11. Story and art, both by Rick Veitch.

-SLOTH – A graphic novel by Gilbert Hernandez about a boy who forces himself into a coma and then has to deal with the responsibilities of the year he spent away.

-LOVELESS – The always laughing and whimsical man, Brian Azzarello will be doing this book which is quoted as being a ‘Noir, spaghetti western” Karen Berger then claimed it was “Deadwood-esque” and Azzarello tried to blow that off as fast as he could.

-DMZ- Seems Vertigo liked Demo, as this is a book about the civil war that breaks between blue and red states. Written by Brian Wood. This book apparently is being drawn by a very talented new Italian artist Richard Birchielli.

-TESTAMENT – A futuristic bent on the stories of the Old Testament. Add in some alternate pathway storylines, a touch of metaphor, and you have an odd odd title.

-AMERICAN VIRGIN – Written by Stephen Seagle and art by Becky Cloonan is about a devout Catholic who attempts to turn people to chaste catholocism. Something traumatic happens and now he is a man trying to figure out who heis.

-DEADMAN Vertigo is coming… details still hazy. We know it is a new Deadman, he was a pilot before his death and Bruce Jones is writing it, but that’s about it.

-EXTERMINATORS – Simon Oliver & Tony Moore with a story about a bug killer and his odd homelife.

-BITE CLUB: VCU – Back by popular demand, the house of Bite Club will be coming back for a murder mystery. Hot cover by Frank Quietly.

-Finally, the only other point was that V for Vendetta HC is coming out and Hellblazer is getting a new team. The end.


Marvel: House of M

Like many (if not all) of the Marvel panels was hosted by Joey Q, and joining him was (pardon the spelling on any name that I screw up, as quite a few of them didn’t have name placards and I’m too lazy to go look up who they really are.) Let’s get to the bullet points, and trust me there are a lot of them as this moved from being a HOUSE OF M panel to a generic Marvel panel and back to being a House panel.

-Thor will be returning in 06, but not in direct relation to HoM

-In an obvious allusion to Hawkeye, somebody asked if HoM will allow people to return from the dead, and of course JQ’s answer was the gratuitous ‘anything is possible’

-Scarlet Witch will not be appearing again in HoM until Issue #6.

-On a question about the satellite stories (HoM: Spidey, HoM: FF, etc.) and whether they will relate directly into the main plot, it was said that some of the stories will have important ramifications on the main plot where the some won’t. It was promised that if you ONLY read the main HoM story, you would walk away with a complete understanding as Joey didn’t want to replicate ‘some companies who do that sort of thing’. (This was not stated directly by Joey, but John Dukes, jokingly)

-A few HoM covers showed #4 with Hawkeye dropping Wolverine with a cubic butt-ton of arrows (This is an exact figure) and the cover of #6 showed a great 4 panel of Namor, Black Panther, Dr. Doom, and ..grrr.. I don’t remember who the fourth was… darn slow hands. DAMN THEM! Either way, it was hot.

-The crossover with the Pulse (Issue #10) had a beautiful Mayhew cover of Hawkeye

-One of the most visually disturbing of the covers was hands down of the House of M: Spider Man #3 which had a Spiderman costume burning in effigy with the word ‘HUMAN’ written across a note hanging around it’s neck. Seems good ol Peter is going to get outted as a human. Stupid Spiderman.

-From here Joey again broke away from House of M information to blather on for awhile about other MU projects. Some neat stuff such as Chris Bachelo returning to Uncanny X-Men

-New Excalibur will be starting up and will seemingly no longer be a book about Genosha, but about an actual British superteam… what a novel concept, eh? The book will be coming out of Uncanny X-Men and will include Captain Britain, Nocturne, Juggernaut, Dazzler, and the return of Pete Wisdom. Sadly, the only bad thing about this book is that it is being written by Chris Claremont.

-Shortly after this we were joined by Peter David and Robert Kirkman, more on them in a few minutes.

-X-Men #175 and Black Panther #8 will be a crossover entitled ‘Wild Kingdom’ and we were assured that Black Panther will be becoming more of a major force in the MU, especially with something next year that will be labeled the ‘Feel Good Story Of The Year’… given the mixed response that the new BP run has gotten… I’ll wait to see.

-Power Pack is coming back in a mini called X-Men & The Power Pack.. and look, I don’t care that NONE of you liked that damned book.. I thought it was excellent.

-In one of the most beautiful projects I’ve seen in awhile, we saw a cover shot of a book entitled MYTHOS by Paul Jenkins, which is going to be retellings of the origins of big Marvel Universe characters. I know what you are thinking ‘umm..so?’, but each of the books is going to be hand-painted by a new Italian artist, Paolo Rivera. If the one shot I saw was any tell as to what was in store, I see it possibly being one of the greatest things coming out of the next year when it comes to art.

-The crowd pick for biggest news was that X-Factor will INDEED be starting up again, of course written by Peter David and drawn by Ryan Sook. Details were sketchy, but it will be coming directly out of House of M, will take place in District X, will include the ‘XXX Detective Agency’ as last seen in the Maddox Mini, and sounds like it is going to be my favorite new book.

-Peter David will also be doing 2 novels for Simon & Schuster using the Marvel imprint. One will be the Fantastic Four, and the other will be about a guy that a few of you guys might like… Wolverine.

-Stan Lee is currently in some stage of development on Fantastic Four: The End. That was neat to hear.

-X-Statix information is on the horizon, but nothing could be told… grrr…

-The only other bit of House of M knowledge that was given was that at the end, many of the characters will have a more defined and locked-in role in the Marvel U. This was mainly a point about Magneto, given his numerous switches from hero to villain.

That was that… for a panel about House of M, I sure as hell walked away with more information about Marvel than I ever thought was possible.


Spotlight on Brian K. Vaughan

Brian K. Vaughan looks intelligent. He sounds intelligent. I don’t know why I’m so surprised by this, since he pens two of my favorite books. I am someone who appreciates intelligent writing, so I should have assumed that BKV’d be a little ginsu in the comics drawer.

So with Heidi MacDonald moderating, BKV expounded on his start in comics, about the chilly reception to Swamp Thing, how he pisses off editors everywhere by writing page after page of people driving, and his emotional stuntedness. It’s an interesting story, starting with the fact that he didn’t learn a damned thing in film school, which kind of fuels his passion for research. BKV will travel to do research, whether it be San Diego (he didn’t live here at the time) or Copenhagen.

To a certain extent, Vaughan reminds me of a friend of mine. Both of them have had interesting jobs, and I’m convinced that it’s helped form some of the creative juice reservoirs that flow through them both. Where my friend glazed hams with blowtorches, Vaughan worked in an asylum (“Grist for the mill for any Vertigo writer”). The fact that his next book is about 4 lions freed from the Baghdad zoo is indicative of his narrative skills; by all accounts, it sounds like a great metaphor for intergenerational relationships and perspectives in times of great change. He blows it off as “an excuse to do something with talking animals,” but don’t believe it for a second. The man speaks with a clarity that I’ve rarely seen anywhere. How often does one think about the word “hero,” find a place for it in a political setting, and carry it off without playing into polemics?

It must be good to be Brian Vaughan right now; Y The Last Man was optioned and is in the second script rewrite; and Ex Machina (my favorite monthly book) was optioned just this last week. He’s writing 4 monthlies that he enjoys. He’ll help Bryan Singer with his own run on X-Men. He’s channeled his Catholic-school gender segregation into a successful book.

Yeah, I’d kill to be in his shoes. They looked really comfy.


Crisis Counseling

Dan Didio led what was easily the most fun column I have attended thus far this week, Also on hand to assist in the question answering (and humor) was Geoff Johns, Greg Rucka, Bob Wayne, and Steve Wacker. I’ll say this here because it is hard to express in the news notes that follow, but this was the first time I had seen Wacker on a panel and he is damn funny. If you can catch him on a panel, I highly recommend it.

It also should be noted that this was the panel that I got called out by Greg Rucka on. At the start of the panel, Didio had made a joke about how he was sure no one would take notes or put any of the comments made in the room up on the net. It was good for a laugh, but little else. Then, during a particularly jokey part of the panel (take a guess what company they were poking fun at) I was diligently taking notes like a good reporter on the previous semi-serious question and comment. However, I am sure it looked as thugh I was copying down each little taunt and the “other guys” to stir up trouble when I put up the update. Sure enough, I do believe that at least one member of the panel saw it that way. Rucka caught me writing and said something to the effect of, “And just what online periodical are you working for?” When I looked up after finishing my notes, I realized that Rucka was, in fact, talking to me. And now, he was staring at me, waiting for an answer. Now, I know (or at least, I think) Rucka was kidding. But here’s the thing, in general, he’s a very cool guy, but he can be damn scary when he wishes. I think I may have nightmares tonight.

But enough about my wussiness, let’s get to the coolness

-Didio restated the goal of the current minis and really the whole of DC at the moment is to “reinvent, reinvigorate, and bring them [the important aspect of the DCU] out in front to the fans.”

-Infinite Crisis begins in October. In February of 2006, issue #5 ships and features a “unifying effect” in the DCU. In March, the “flip” (jump a year forward in time) will occur in the all the titles. However, Crisis is 7 issues long, so fans will not know the why of the leap forward until the next month.

-Steve Wacker assures that confusion there, however, will not be a case of “what the hell is going on, but more, ‘how did we get here?'”

-The “flip” is not a move being done casually. It is, according to Didio, “a real strong plan” with a “message, direction, and attitude” that lays out how the DCU will by going forward for years to come. In fact, they have things planned all the way to 2008, although they are not necessarily set in stone that far in advance. It is, “a story, not a stunt,” a thought echoed at least once by everyone on the panel,

-When asked how, if at all, the Seven Soldiers project was set to tie into Crisis, Didio stated simply, “it is,” and did not elaborate further.

-Rumors of a grudge against Keith Giffen are greatly exaggerated (if you didn’t already get that from the very funny piece that ran in Wizard last month). He did personally call Rucka and told him, “Kill ’em all. I think it’s great,” when Rucka was expressing concerns about ending Blue Beetle’s life so soon after what happened to Sue and Ralph Dibny. He also, helpfully, suggested other characters to kill. Giffen is also going to be involved with a very important project tying into Crisis. What and when was not announced.

-Johns teased a fan who asked if Legion would be effected by Crisis, saying it “already is,” before, moments later saying, “I was just kidding.” It was difficult to discern what was the truth and what was the lie in that scenario.

-Fans of big numbers can go away with a smile on their face as there is no plans and never were any plans to renumber “pedigree” books like Detective or Action Comics.

-Although this event does share the word “Crisis” with a certain 20 year old huge event, Didio assures that this time around, unlike then, no one will forget what has happened.

-Good news for folks like me: “Hypertime is not really a part of the DC Universe,” says Didio. And I smiled ear to ear.

-On the tight collaboration between DC writers at the moment, Rucka said, “Geoff makes me a better writer.”

-Didio restated the company’s position that there is no need to buy all the minis (although they don’t mind if you do) or the tie-in books as everything is designed to be self sufficient as well as tying into the whole.

-Rucka pointed to OMAC Project as being the one exception to that rule because of Sacrifice (which runs through the Superman titles and culminates in Wonder Woman #219). That situation was “a little dishonest of us, but it wasn’t intentional,” and added the story was necessary to tell for OMAC to fulfill its goals.

-A fan concerned that the promise of a Wonder Woman/Superman throw down in Sacrifice was a tease earned the vague, but helpful answer from Rucka that “Wonder Woman #219 is 22 pages. On six of them, there is talking.”

-Concerns about the attitudes of some of the Leaguers, Martian Manhunter in particular, towards Blue Beetle during Countdown will be dealt with in the current JLA arc.

-Suicide Squad is returning to the DCU “eventually.” Didio pointed out that they are working pretty hard right now to make their villains scary and dangerous so to introduce a heroic element to them this soon would be a mistake. Eventually, however, the Squad will raise its head once more.


Random Notes

Batman will come a calling in Green Lantern #10.

The figure that is blocked out in the solicitations for “War Crimes” is found, unblocked, on display at one of the panels at the Con. Not sure who’s mistake that is, but I’m also not sure why DC bothered. If this is an existing character, it is a whole new take on them so they are unrecognizable.

The celeb count hit five today with a very random appearance by Jessie Spano herself, Showgirls’ Elizabeth Berkley and uber excellent directory Darren Aronofsky. Darren showed the new trailer for The Fountain to the Con (the first time anyone has seen it) and it looks just incredible. The comic book version doesn’t look so bad either.

I think that brings this little exercise to a close. Tune in tomorrow for an update, and interview with Dan Jolley, and the story of my year long odyssey with a sketch artist named David Wong. You won’t be disappointed,

I’m Tim Stevens signing off for the whole gang. ‘Night.