Getting to see your favorite comic creators speak and answer questions is one of the great highlights of big events like New York Comic Con and Anime Fest. But not only do they have the people behind comics, but plenty of knowledge professionals in my fields giving talks as well. There is much promotion and celebration but also you just might learn something by checking out the myriad of panels at this convention.
Big conventions mean equally big panels and panelists. NYCC had some big names in the comics industry talking about what they are doing alongside television and video games properties having high-profile panels as well. Despite all this I tried to stick NYAF side of the convention for panels this year considering the fact we are an anime and manga blog. More than any other aspect of the show it was the panels were I felt I missed out the most due to conflicted schedules. You can see a premiere later down the road but a panel is sometimes a once only opportunity. So here are the once only opportunities I got to see.
The first panel of the convention, when the convention wasn’t official open yet, was one about the problems faced by graphic novels in libraries and the censorship debate of such material. It was ran by one of ALA own who handles these type of complaints on a daily basis. She brought us from the beginnings of comic book censorship and even some comic book burnings in the 50’s up to the present where things like The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian have come underfire in schools. She reminded us that one of the biggest reasons these cases arise is because images have power and can illicit an immediate reaction. In many cases the people filing complaints had not even read the work, but saw an image or two that they found offensive. It was a great short lecture and it helped promote how important a diverse library is as well as the fact that graphic novels are just as important as novels.
Friday always starts with the professional panels. Since I have a press pass I always attend these as they are sometimes the hidden gems of the convention. I started with the Other side of the Table panel. It was a guide to how to self publish and make you way into being a professional comics creator. It had Jimmy Palmiotti, Raina Telgemeier, Bryan J.L. Glass, Carla Speed McNeil, and Carolyn Belefski and was moderated by Joe Carabeo. They talked about how to build an audience and a reputation through interaction between you and your fans and other professionals. They had good advice on how take constructive criticism and when to ignore it. How to balance your art career with whatever your other career you have that pays the bills was invaluable as well as how and when to turn your art career into your only career. Everyone of the panel was lively, had great stories to back up their advice, and the obvious love for what they do that was infectious. It was a great panel for anyone who wants to draw comics for a living.
As per usual I attended many a Marvel panel during the weekend. I use this time to not only see writers whom I adore, but also to catch up on what is happening in the universe as I am always a bit behind. There didn’t see to be as many big announcement for titles or upcoming things but nevertheless the panels were filled with good energy overall. During X-Men they announced a Wolverine and Jubilee miniseries that should have some great insights on their bond and how it is changing. It was also interesting to see them discussing the new Generation Hope and how it could be defining for the young, much like Generation X was. I am always interested in the younger set so I will probably be picking it up. They also announced something called Age of X which perplexed me a bit since they described it as it could be the end of mutant kind, didn’t this just happen after House of M and continued through Endangered Species, etc.? Not a whole lot went on in the Avengers Assembled panel, they did reveal the nanny which was rather amusing for the crowd. I was tempted to ask about the fate of Young Avengers but didn’t really want to know the answer. Cup o’ Joe was immediately after so it was back-to-back madness as both panels were very full. Joe related a story about first reading Brian Michael Bendis’s work and poked at what he felt was his terrible art, luckily he was a writer! The revival of Cross Gen was announced and all the audience members got a special button of it. I was very interested in Mr. Bendis’s new work Takio, a children’s comic, that sounds fun and promising. From Joe’s lips I heard the sad confirmation that Runaways is no more, but perhaps they would show up other places. And of course, as always, someone has to go up and tell everyone on the panel that they think Marvel is terrible and blahblah. And also as usual the room boos and hisses them into silence. Marvel publisher, Dan Buckley, told them simply “Don’t buy our comics then.”
Dead Like Us: Shinigami, Death and Japanese Culture and Castles, Forests and Bath Houses: The Worlds of Hayao Miyazaki were both run by Charles Dunbar of Study of Anime. I am always surprised to see that such academic analysis of popular shows gets such a big turn out but Charles Dunbar seems to have a knack for making such concepts accessible to the average person. Dead Like US focused on how anime looks at Shinigami but touches of all type of Japanese views of death and dying. The panel uses shows like Death Note, Bleach, YuYu Hakusho, and Rin-ne to delve deeper into how the Japanese view death and how anime reflects and plays with these ideas. The Worlds of Hayao Miyazaki was an overview of the works of Hayao Miyazaki and his style as a director. The Shinigami panel was pretty full the Hayao Miyazaki panel was standing room only and it was the first panel on a Sunday. It is one of the few panels that you might not actually get into if you don’t get in line in advance. And the other panel I went to by a person from the anime and manga twitter universe was Unusual Manga Genres by Erin Finnegan with some backup by Noah Fulmor and Ed Chavez. It was an interesting overview of manga titles and genres that either to not get translated into English or are generally ignored when they do. You had unusual sports manga, gambling manga, manga about manga, unusual pet manga and even weirder things like manga about the US military, manga made by cults, and manga on how to get into Tokyo University. It was a good panel to show you that manga is more than shonen fighting and shoujo romance.
Last time around DC premiered their latest animated, Wonder Woman, we had no such luck this year as this con fell in between things (Batman: Under the Red Hood came out a couple of months prior and the Superman/Shazam: The Return of Black Adam isn’t due out for another month or so). However, they did give us some sneak peeks at things and plenty of questions were answered by Bruce Timm. The short pieces we saw starring Superman and Shazam were nicely done, but not overly exciting to me personally. On the otherhand, the All-Star Superman few minutes that we saw were quite incredible and furthered my desire to read the comic, of which about a million people have insisted I need to read long before this was in production. There weren’t a ton of details revealed by questions posed to Mr. Timm. Though a great question of ratings came up when someone asked if they had ever considered doing a rated-R animated. Bruce said they actually had something in the works, but it just didn’t come together, however he did seem interested in pursing such things again.
I had to go see the rather unusual Yoshiki and Stan Lee panel. The panel stated with a video that basically informed anyone in the audience who was unaware of X-Japan of what a phenomenon they are in Japanese music scene. There were clips from shows all over the world and some interviews with the requisite hardcore American fans. The Stan Lee and Yoshiki came out and while they were slightly awkward they had an oddly amusing chemistry. Stan Lee did his normal larger than life shtick and Yoshiki played a very humble soft-spoken straight man. They announced they were doing a motion comic together were Yoshiki would be a super powered musician. The details beyond that were still in development but they said they wanted a multilingual international release. Other than that they mostly talked about how great the comic would be and how much they admired each other. I do have to wonder how much of Stan Lee’s doddering old man persona is an act and how much is it him just getting old. After that Stan Lee left and so did about a third of the reporters. The second there were seats free due to the press leaving the Japanese fan girls moved into to fill the seats like sharks smelling blood. The rest of the panel was a Q and A done with Gia Manry. The Yoshiki fans clearly got what they came for when this happened and you could tell they were thrilled to be that close to their idol. Overall I was highly amused by the whole affair even if not much more than the announcement that there would be a collaboration was said.
Anime Recruitment was the absolute last panel of the convention, atleast on the NYAF side of things. The panel before also ran a little over which threw things off by a few minutes. Despite all that, we had a good crowd, certainly more than I was expecting, and they were very responsive. I was happy to see a lot of questions at the end and people grabbing up our suggestions list at the end. There was one girl who was trying to find a show for her boyfriend with a sense of realism, this was a particularly hard question, but wouldn’t you know once she left I though of something that might work, Flag. This time around for the panel I realized some of the titles we assume people have already thought of like Cowboy Bebop are no longer known go-to anime for new fans. I was a little sad to hear this, but it also means that some of our panel needs a little adjusting for the younger set. We were hustled out of the room the moment the clock struck 5 which made it a little difficult for us to chat with our audience as much as we usually like. But it was another success.
Anime in Academia was the solid panel it always is. I think me and Philip were the only two people in the audience who were not already academics which I found amusing. But despite not being a trained academic I am always interested in how academia and anime interact in the English-speaking world. Every time I attend an Anime in Academia panel someone asks if the panelists think it is possible they could do anime research at their school. And the answer always is people have done it before, will do it again, and you have a good deal of precedent to make you case for its validly. The other big anime panel I attended was the ANN panel. The panel was nothing like it was scheduled to be in the program guide. It was originally going to be Christopher Macdonald and Justin Sevakis talking about the big changes that were going to be taking place at Anime News Network. But after the Oreimo leak everything had to be changed as Christopher and Justin had to do damage control. Erin Finnegan, Gia Manry, Mike Toole, and Todd Ciolek did a Q and A about their philosophies on reviewing anime and manga. It was a very casual panel and the audience seemed happy despite the fact that you knew many of them wanted some discussion of the Oreimo leak. I will say the one thing that stuck out in my head was they said the worst part of reviewing was watching the mediocre stuff because it was monotonous. But it made me think. Is there any job no matter how amazing that does not have monotonous parts of it? Even with acting, music, and sports you are often doing the same things over and over in a way that can be boring even if you love them. It is an extremely easy thing to forget especially with more glamorous careers. While it was not strictly anime related I did go to the A Geek’s Guide to Podcasting and Blogging panel. While it was all comics podcasters they had some great advice for anyone who was getting into blogging and podcasting. They had the basics on what sites you can go to for hosting and what equipment you need for podcasting. They had good advice on how to make a show your own in the sea of countless podcasts that exist now, how to promote your work, how to mix being professional with being fun, and how to keep a schedule. While it seems there is much more potential to become a profitable podcast in the comics world the overall message was universal. I got some great tips on how to secure interviews which will definitely be useful in the future.
There was never a dull moment at this year’s NYCC and NYAF. I was impressed by the guests on both sides and was happy to see them so talkative and interested in their fans for the most part. There seemed to be a good handle on the programming this year and I saw few changes once the convention was under way, not a mere feat to be sure. I can only imagine there being more panels next year, which is a boon, but also a daunting prophecy as I’ll never have enough time to see everything!
I was super disappointed that I was not able to see the Robot Chicken and Venture brother’s panels. They are always hysterical and informative. Like Narutaki I was curious to see the US Sherlock premier. I wanted to see what they said at both the Square Enix panels out of curiosity. Also the ItsJustSomeRandomPanel was surely great as I have always enjoyed the I’m a Marvel…and I’m a DC clips. If anyone out there saw any of these panels I am curious how they were and if anything interesting was said there. If nothing else the mere fact that I could have made a second schedule for all three days of things to attend and still miss out says volumes. I look forward to seeing the selection we get next year and hope that the anime content only increases along with the comic content despite the fact it would cause even more conflicts.
More NY Anime Festival and Comic Con 2010 posts:
NY Anime Festival & Comic Con 2010: Tweets
NY Anime Festival & Comic Con 2010: General Impressions
NY Anime Festival & Comic Con 2010: Anime and Manga Industry
NY Anime Festival 2010: Artist Alley – Making it Big!
NY Anime Festival & Comic Con 2010: Exhibitors Hall
NY Anime Festival & Comic Con 2010: Premieres
NY Anime Festival & Comic Con 2010: Minori Chihara