Day Two began with a mad dash to get onto Brian Bendis’ signing line, but by the time I woke myself up and navigated the city the con was set to begin and Bendis had a generous, though not outrageous, line. I hung around for about forty minutes and did some work I needed to do but, in an absolutely fitting development, Bendis proved rather wordy and I ducked out so that I could see more of the convention and give those behind me a slightly shorter wait.
Scott Snyder was in attendance on Sunday and I had considered taking another stab at completing my quest to have something signed by him, but, tired and expecting to wait for Bendis, I concluded that there would be little use in lugging around that many comics when he was only appearing one day. Surely fans would be all over him. Of course, I was wrong and I found myself staring at the shortest line I’ve ever seen with Snyder at the end without a single one of his comics. Truly, I am a comedy.
My first panel of the day was the New DC Universe, so I hurried to grab a good seat. Brenden Fletcher was moderator once again, this time joined by Action Comics scribe Greg Pak, Gotham Academy co-writer Becky Cloonan, Midnighter writer Steve Orlando, Black Canary artist Annie Wu, and the other half of the Constantine: The Hellblazer writing team, Ming Doyle.
Orlando was the first up at bat, talking about his love of Midnighter and what he wanted to bring the series. To Orlando, the formula was pretty clear, “Smart comments and a lot of punching.” The early issues were clearly an absolute gift for Orlando, who giddily described his job as conceiving ‘new and vaudevillian ways to end people’s lives.’ He also said that the series gave him the chance to make a lot of grammar puns, cinching this book for the title of his “most me comic I’ve ever written.” Knowing Orlando to have been a fan of the original Authority in his youth, Fletcher asked what young Steve would have thought of this and what he would have written, suggesting some sort of time travel writing contest to determine which version of Orlando should write the book (it was that kind of panel). “Old Steve” thought that his younger counterpart would be psyched, but wasn’t worried about the hypothetical competition, informing the crowd that at that age he had pitched Marvel a series about “Beast watching Emeril Live”.
Before his time ran out, Orlando also assured worried readers not to worry about the lack of Apollo, saying that this is merely a chance to explore the period before the two were dating. He also revealed his personal tagline for the series, the frankly amazing “If corporations are people, they’re people we can punch.” Man likes his punching.
If you’ve ever met Annie Wu, you probably know that she’s really cool, in demeanor and appearance, and that was definitely the case here. Nonetheless, she enjoyed a serious geek-out over the fun of brining her music fan dreams to the page. She told the audience that she’s watched the beginning of The Hunger on loop to prepare for drawing this series and that the guitarist of Black Canary, the mysterious Ditto, is essentially Grimes. Wu said that the series would have plenty for long-time Black Canary fans but would also be totally accessible for new readers. “Black Canary is going to be so fun. It’s a real weird one.” Brenden Fletcher told us that his goal is to reestablish Dinah as the DCU’s top martial artist by the end of the first arc.
Obviously aware of, but seemingly unfazed by, the hesitance towards the new “Truth” storyline running through the Superman titles, Greg Pak said that “In serial comics, the best thing you can do is get your characters into as much trouble as possible.” So how do you get Superman into trouble? How do you threaten the most powerful being in the universe? You take away his secret identity and downgrade his powers. You make him vulnerable in the two ways that matter most. Despite the change, Pak assured the room that this is still the same Superman he’s been writing. I’ve loved his work with the character, so take some solace in that.
He also said that this is not a crossover in any conventional sense, it’s just a new set of circumstances. All the Superman books will make sense on their own. Gene Yang’s Superman will see how this came to be, Action Comics will examine the fallout, and Superman/Wonder Woman and Batman/Superman will see how this change affects Clark’s relationships with his allies. Controversial as the story has been in the lead up to its release, Pak said that he found it entirely natural. With no secret identity to put space between Superman and his neighbors “He’s going back to his roots as a defender of the people.”
Ming Doyle said that she and James Tynion IV are injecting a “Virtiginous tude” into Constantine: The Hellblazer and revealed that she’s trying very hard to learn to pronounce the hero’s name not by his familiar pronunciation but by the apparently correct English one, leading her to frequently catch herself, giving birth to “Constan-teen-tyne.” Like Tynion before her, Doyle was quick to confirm that, while John has been aged down, his history as part of the punk band Mucus Membrane still stands and will be an important part of the book. She also mused about the idea of a battle of the bands between Mucus Membrane and Black Canary, causing Annie Wu’s jaw to drop and reveal that she’s been hoping for that but not had time to pitch it to Wu and Fletcher yet. In fact, sharp-eyed readers may find a Mucus Membrane poster in the pages of Black Canary.
The Q&A dealt with television a couple of times, with Steve Orlando and the panel discussing the possibility of a Midnighter series (clearly on Cinemax, Soderburg preferable, was the conclusion) as well as a question of whether Burnside Batgirl would appear on Supergirl, leaving Brenden Fletcher to answer with a resounding ‘I hope so’.
Another fan asked who would win in a fight between Batman and Midnighter, but Steve Orlando wasn’t terribly interested in playing favorites. Instead he gave some lovely insights into the differences between the two, considering the serious, secretive, obsessed-with-the-past Batman to live a bipartite life and Midnighter, an in the moment “button pusher”, to live a unified life. “Midnighter is still Midnighter at Ikea,” said Orlando, pointing out that it would be almost more interesting to see the two meet out of costume.
After the panel Brenden Fletcher was kind enough to give us a brief interview. Look for that later this week. After that I wandered over to Marguerite Bennett’s table to say hi and chatted a little bit with a girl in an awesome Shockwave shirt. You have no idea how happy it makes me to be able to tell a girl in a Transformers shirt I met raving about A-Force that once she finishes the trade she’s reading she gets to pick up Transformers: Windblade. Man, I love that mini!
Luckily after our savvy Transformers fan moved on, Marguerite informed me that she had to run to a panel. I say luckily because this was The Mary Sue’s Creating Comics: The Real Stories and I had misremembered the time. So I looked around for another few minutes and then headed back to the panel room.
A massive panel awaited me there, including PvP’s Dylan Meconis, Becky Cloonan, Kate Leth, Marguerite Bennett, Marjorie Liu, Katie Cook of My Little Pony, and Annie Wu, all moderated by the Mary Sue’s Jill Pantozzi. Despite the name of the panel, it wasn’t so much focused on the process of making comics as the struggles and experience of being a creator. One of the early questions was about how the panelists overcome the self-confidence issues that tend to come with being an artist or writer. Annie Wu gave a simple phrase: WWaNPD or What Would a Normal Person Do, while Marjorie Liu said that she likes to try to be around people to reset. Katie Cook says that she has a “frustration couch” in her office that she goes to when she’s just feeling too down and naps on. As for Bennett, how does she deal with insecurity? She doesn’t. “Twitter is my water cooler. Let it consume me until I put on a bitchin’ dress and order a cocktail.”
That led nicely into a discussion about the role of social media, with several of the panelists admitting that they’ve had trouble with the distraction of social media. That said, easy as it is to rag on the internet, a number of them had to admit that it made things better rather than worse. Kate Leth has found that the internet is much less of a distraction when you just turn off notifications. Wu pointed out that she probably wouldn’t be working in the industry without social media, saying that she owes her success to people who passed her art around online more than her own pluck. Bennett had an even more recent story. Ever since seeing Mad Max: Fury Road she’s been collecting and retweeting Imperator Furiosa fan art. Apparently when DC needed artists for Bennett’s upcoming Bombshells series, she was able to recruit a couple of her favorites.
The Q&A brought up some fascinating discussions including some horrific stories from Marjorie Liu about diversity in the romance publishing field. I won’t go into detail, but the suggestion that certain writer’s names were “ethnically tainted” was raised in complete seriousness.
The most fun question was, by far, a follow up to one of Pantozzi’s about fan fiction: what fan fiction did you write? Before the question was fully out of the speaker’s mouth, I could see Marguerite Bennett practically bouncing up and down. “Wolverine adopts me!” she screamed, lunging for the mic. Ms. Liu’s fanfic was primarily X-Men/Deadpool and Star Trek: Enterprise. Kate Leth actually found and raffled off the name of her fanfiction.net account, which, to her surprise, only contained three of her stories anymore. Stranger still, only one of them is a Harry Potter fic, the other two are based on the CBS police procedural Without a Trace, for reasons Leth could clearly no longer remember. She also freely admitted that the Harry Potter story was Lucius/Hermione, drawing a wave of judgement from the rest of the panel and audience. Before long the panelists got distracted by the strange phenomenon of having fan fiction written about them. Katie Cook was particularly upset by one fic that included her pony alter-ego under the wrong name, memorably declaring “I named my pony! Her name is Bittersweet, because Suburban Drunk Mom is a bad name!”
With under an hour and a half left of the convention, my willpower got away from me and I picked up Ray Fawkes’ absolutely gorgeous Intersect, despite my concerns about its creepiness. I also finally grabbed the first trades of Letter 44 and Quantum and Woody after talking to their writer and editor, respectively. Stupid comic creators…being lovely and reasonable people trying to make a living…
I considered checking out the last wave of panels, but I was already late and, honestly, I wanted to enjoy the feeling of just being surrounded by people who loved comics. And so Special Edition: NYC 2015 came to a quiet close.
On the way to the subway I managed to get entangled in a conversation about Star Wars naming conventions with Jordan White, Brett White, Jim Zub, and Charles Soule and finally found a use for my love of Bossk, when Zub blanked on the name of his species. It’s Trandoshan, for any of you currently cursing your memory. I also learned an interesting fact. Apparently only names used in new continuity canon sources or on toys and merchandise remain valid… Well, I thought it was interesting.
That was my Special Edition 2015. It wasn’t as nice looking as last year and the shopping wasn’t as good, but the attendance was much better and the panels a little more personal. What did you think? Will I see you in October for NYCC? Let me know in the comments.