Spencer: Throughout the course of this weekend I’ve been helping my friend run his booth on Artist’s Alley, but at the end of Saturday, he told me he thought he was catching a cold (the dreaded Con Crud got him) and was simply too exhausted to go on. A weird, meloncholy feeling overwhelmed me; I was pretty exhausted myself and would’ve loved to stay home and sleep all day, but I also didn’t feel finished with Wizard World just yet. So I broke out a notebook and wrote down everything I wanted to accomplish on the final day of Wizard World, to see if it was worth attending. As you can see, I decided it was, and the renewed sense of focus led to a productive, fun day and the sense that I got everything I possibly could have out of this Con.
Before I even hit the floor I went to my first panel of the day, “The World of Syndicated Comics.” Yesterday I talked about how I’ve wanted to write comics pretty much my entire life, but as a child that goal mostly manifested itself in wanting to be a cartoonist. I can’t tell you how many short-lived comic strips I created as a child, or how many times I pored over Bill Watterson’s behind-the-scenes notes in The Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book teaching myself about the business. I have piles of comic strip collection books in my closet and still read the daily comics page to this day; to put it lightly, the idea of learning more about the business — even in this declining age of syndication — excited me.
Up until a few minutes before the start of the panel it looked like I would be the only guest, but even as more guests finally entered we were still short two panelists, who never did show. The entire panel turned into a one-on-one between the moderator and cartoonist Terry LaBan of Edge City. Fortunately, LaBan was talkative and walked us through his career in underground comics and the entire syndication submission process, not to mention the current woes of the newspaper industry and the monetization of webcomics. When he ran out of things to talk about and audience questions started drying up, I asked him about his process (which he actually explains on his blog far better than I ever could), and when the panel’s time ran out, he was kind enough to finish answering my questions for a few minutes even though he had another panel to rush to.
During this conversation I confessed to him that I wanted to be a cartoonist when I was young but that I can’t draw, to which his reply was “you don’t need to know how to draw to be a cartoonist,” name-dropping Matt Groening’s Life In Hell as an example. He went on to explain how being too good of an artist can be a bad thing for syndicated cartoonists, and while I thought he was going to say that it can slow you down or that there just isn’t room for the detail at their size, he was more concerned with artists who gain enough skill to perfectly imitate their inspirations and thus never develop their own style. It’s certainly an angle I had never thought of before.
Due to the super small audience size, at times this panel was so personal that it became uncomfortable, and there were one or two moments where LaBan and the moderator got caught up discussing mutual friends and insular cartoonist contacts that was probably only interesting to them, but for the most part it was an interesting-if-offbeat panel, and I’m glad I went.
My second panel of the day was the polar opposite; I waited in a long line and crammed into a packed room to see “Inside X-Men: Days of Future Past with Evan Peters and Daniel Cudmore,” who, for the uninitiated, are the actors who played Quicksilver and Colossus respectively.
Much like the Winter Soldier panel yesterday, the two actors were both hilarious in their own ways and put on quite a show; Cudmore was more boisterous while Peters had a very slow, calculated, possibly even nervous way of speaking and answering questions. Also much like the Winter Soldier panel, much of the audience consisted of young girls who seemingly had a thing for both actors (I was surprised by the amount of fans there to see Cudmore, who I had never heard of). Unlike the Winter Soldier panel, this never hurt the questions and answers, as Peter and Cudmore played off even some of the more awkward moments.
The first potentially awkward moment came from a girl celebrating her birthday, who wanted Peters to sing “Happy Birthday” to her. He did so in an exaggerated, deep voice, pausing halfway through when he realized he didn’t know her name. Another guest asked “What’s it like to be Evan Peters?”, and the moderator immediately turned to Cudmore and asked, “You want to take this one, Daniel?” The panel’s most awkward moment came from one young girl who asked the actors what were the most enjoyable and least enjoyable scenes to shoot throughout their career. Cudmore said that his first day on the X-Men set was both, since it was exciting but also nerve-wracking (“I was standing a foot away from Halle Berry!”). Peters had the most fun with the Quicksilver/Magneto elevator scene, and said his least favorite scene was when his character in American Horror Story Season Two was anally probed by aliens (?!?!?!). The girl who asked the question replied, “That’s my favorite scene,” and the room burst into hysterics.
Other highlights of the Q&A include:
If you could have any superpower, what would it be?: Peters stumbled over the pronunciation of “regeneration” several times before answering “Wolverine’s powers”; he wants to be immortal and never get sick and he thinks the metal claws “kick ass”. Cudmore wants to fly, because he’s too tall to fit in an airplane properly. Cudmore also said his sidekick would have the power to fill his pockets with money.
If you could add your X-Men character to any scene they weren’t in, what would it be?: Peters would have Quicksilver return for the climax but not help at all, just destroy the set. Cudmore would move Colossus “to where the Sentinels aren’t so he doesn’t get ripped in half!”
What other Marvel franchise would you want to be a part of?: Cudmore is pushing for an R-Rated Deadpool film, and he let it slip that Colossus has a role in the Deadpool script he got to see.
When does Peters want the next season of AHS to take place?: In the future, in space.
What inspired you to get into acting?: Cudmore was disruptive in school and fell in love with acting when he realized it gave him attention. Peters was inspired by Shia LaBeouf, the Olsen twins, other Disney stars, and Jim Carrey.
Did Evan feel competitive knowing that another acting will be portraying Quicksilver soon?: A little, but he also knew that, since the movie is set in the 70s, his Quicksilver would be drastically different character. He’s excited to see what The Avengers does with their version.
(I could feel some tension in the room with this question. The other Quicksilver will be played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson, whom Peters worked with in Kick-Ass. Another actor took over Peters’ role in Kick-Ass 2 and when asked if he called Johnson to congratulate him on getting the role, Peters scoffed and said “No”; I wonder if they had a falling out?)
The sweetest moment of the panel was when a little boy asked the actors what it was like “meeting Wolverine.” Peters said it was really fun and again raved about his claws, and Cudmore said Jackman is charming and down to Earth, and he “doesn’t hold his accent against him.” The panel’s most hilarious moment came when a guest asked the actors what their most uncomfortable fan encounter was. Peters’ actually came earlier that morning, when a fan asked to lick his face. Cudmore was in the Twilight series, so his came at the hand of a 70-some-year old woman who wouldn’t stop rubbing his stomach. When he asked her to stop, she just said “Don’t worry, my husband’s not here!”
After those panels I had the final three hours of the day free to walk the floor, and I obsessively walked every inch to make sure that I bought everything and talked to everyone I wanted to. I didn’t find much new on the vendor area, but I did manage to fulfill yet another childhood dream:
Next I revisited Artist’s Alley, and going over it with a fine-toothed comb ended up being one of the most rewarding parts of the day, if not the entire weekend.
As you can see, I picked up some absolutely gorgeous art, as well as a couple of independent comics: Reeb, about a war between warm-blooded animals and cold-blooded animals, and Bear Beater Bunyan: The Battle of the Yon Kuma, about a guy who wrestles bears. They both look like a lot of fun, and the creators of both were a blast to talk to.
In fact, what made this part of the day so magical wasn’t so much the stuff was it was the conversations. I saw that J.G. Jones’ booth was empty for a few minutes, so I asked him a question about comic book covers stemming from his panel the day before, and he explained to me how he pretty much has free reign on designing covers but that they’re usually based off solicts, which more often than not don’t match up with the finished issue. Later, the creator of Bear Beater Bunyan and I chatted about One Piece for a while, and a woman at another booth noticed my Saves the Day wristband and we ended up talking about 90s punk and the grim inevitability of growing older. I revisited a creator who sold me a copy of his comic on Thursday and I got to compliment him and ask his thoughts on thought balloons. I met a cosplayer dressed up as a villain of his own creation and learned of the character’s diabolical plans. One man complimented me on my Deadpool shirt and later on came running up to me with a Deadpool commission, absolutely gushing about it and wanting to show it off.
All-in-all, the last few hours of Wizard World really drove home for me that the most important part of a Comic-Con isn’t celebrities or merch or even discussing the craft of comics, but that it provides a place for people who care about things to get together and share their enthusiasm. With that in mind, let’s look at my favorite cosplayers of the day:
I actually ran out of things to do about fifteen minutes before the end of the Con, and I just collapsed into a chair and tweeted for a while. Despite that, it was a really bittersweet moment when the loudspeaker announced that the floor was closing; even the pop music they’d been blaring all weekend suddenly took on a morose tone. Nothing else to do or not, leaving Wizard World for the last time meant returning to the real world, and I still don’t know if I’m ready for that. Still, I had one absolutely killer weekend. I met some of my favorite comic creators, saw panels both hilarious and informative, supported up-and-coming creators, saw some stunning cosplay, and overall just had the time of my life. I can’t wait to do it again.
Now, I’m going to go sleep for a week.