In Q & A, a weekly feature of Fantastic Fangirls, we ask our staff to tackle a simple question — then open the floor to comments.
What’s a comic-con panel you’d really like to see?
When I go to a convention I go with the intention of attending panels. The topics and titles often sound so interesting. But once I am there I skip them in favor of talking with other fans, looking for that ONE issue I am missing, taking pictures of costumes (or having my picture taken in costume), waiting in the queue to see creators I like best, or going to lunch (which always seems to be an ordeal at the convention!). As for the panels I have attended, when it comes to the interesting topics, I’ve mostly been disappointed. When it comes to getting a straight answer to a question, I’ve also mostly been disappointed (and I’ve found I’ve a much better chance at that asking on the floor rather than in a panel). So barring a panel in which the persons involved are compelled to say the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth…well, I don’t know.
Thus I will ask for something vaguely ridiculous. I love music. All music. And I find it very beneficial to the creative process. So I would like a panel on what music creators listen to while writing, drawing, inking etc. It would be called Building a Playlist and I would leave with just that, a new playlist inspired by my favourite comic creators’ (Sean Mckeever, Matt Fraction, Brian Bendis, Colleen Coover, Marc Silvestri, Geoff Johns, Peter David, Gail Simone, Neil Gaiman, etc.) taste in music.
The best panels I’ve attended have either involved creators discussing aspects of their craft, or anecdotes about the history of the comics industry. My dream panel, then, would involve the writer, artist, and editor of a famous/favorite run talking about how they created the stories and art, with just a tasteful dose of behind-the-scenes gossip for spice. I saw something close to this at Heroes Con, with Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting talking about their work on Captain America. But that wasn’t quite what I’m thinking about, because the run is still going on — there are some details they can’t give away just yet, and we don’t really have the distance from the events going on. I’m thinking more like, Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams and Dick Giordano talking about 1970’sGreen Lantern/Green Arrow run. This may have happened by now, I don’t know, but I wasn’t there, and as all these guys are still with us, I’d love to see it.
In my mind, there are three kinds of panels at comic cons. There are the panels that operate by rote, accomplishing exactly what they set out to accomplish: they announce new projects, let creators talk about their work for a minute or two, and then open the floor to fans so they can ask, for the umpteenth time, when Jean Grey will be resurrected. Then there are the panels that set out to accomplish a bit more, and also do so in grand style — panels on diversity in comics and the craft of storytelling and all that good stuff. The expected questions come up, and are answered, and everyone leaves feeling a little more informed than they did before.
Now, don’t get me wrong — I love both of those types of panels. I’ve gone to more Cup o’ Joe panels than I can remember, and I never miss a diversity panel if I can help it. But both of these kinds of panels are a little, well… predictable. And in my experience, the very best panels are those of the third type: panels that become something nobody ever anticipated.
Last year, at HeroesCon, I saw a panel, ostensibly on collaboration in comics, that actually turned into Matt Fraction, Cliff Chiang, Darwyn Cooke, Barry Kitson, and Jimmy Palmiotti sharing their breaking-into-comics stories and anecdotes of workplace politics and musings on the comic book medium in a surprisingly candid way. It was, by far, the best panel I’ve attended of the 5 cons I’ve been to. And I never would have known, from the title or the listed panelists, that it would be such an incredible experience.
So my answer? Is that I have no “dream” panel. Because it’s very likely I don’t know what I really want from a panel — and I won’t know until it falls, unexpectedly, into my lap.
Okay, I can’t decide between a dream panel of things I want, and a train-wreck panel. But I think, whether it would be a dream or a wreck, what I want in a panel are answers. I want to know the reasons, the thinking behind some of my favorite stories and character arcs.
The thing is, I want the full answers. I want to know about the arguments with editorial, I want to know about the effect the limitations of production technology had on a story. I want to know about writers and artists fighting with each other, I want to know about infighting over cross-overs. I want to know about writers getting mad at fans and changing a story out of irritation, I want to know about blown deadlines.
I want the dirt.
I think the panel I want has all the creators from my formative X-Men years, 1982-1992, plus editorial staff. Or, failing that, just all the people who were the interns during that time. But I’d want them to burn their bridges in the panel and tell all.
On the other hand, maybe I don’t want that. It doesn’t need to be a panel, or at a convention. I’d take the information in a private email, thanks!
So what about you? What’s a comic-con panel you’d really like to see?