July 27th, 2008

Nemui

Comic-Con Report, volume 1

Watching one of Yahoo!'s news videos just now about bands making deals for their music to appear in the Guitar Hero games, listed among the names who've gotten onboard were Aerosmith, ACDC, and Jimi Hendrix. That's right; Jimi Hendrix digs Guitar Hero and Yahoo! has the scoop. SIGH.

I got in really early to-night--around eight o'clock. I finally got in a desperately needed shower (I told you I wouldn't have time for anything), so I think I'll start trying to blog about this thing properly.

I'll get the panel for the Watchmen movie* out of the way first since I know it's what most of you are most curious about. First of all, I still think the movie's going to be a disaster at the box office and I still think it's going to be so inferior to the graphic novel that I'll ultimately dearly wish the movie had never come into existence. That being said, I love Carla Gugino. The number one thing I took away from that panel is that she'll be the best thing in the movie, though she'll barely be in it.

First a head honcho of Comic Con came out and thanked us all for being there. Then he brought out some schmuck from Entertainment Weekly who started reading off note cards a statement like, "In 1986, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons created . . ." and I started laughing helplessly, to the bewilderment of everyone sitting nearby because the guy sounded like a sixth grader giving a half assed book report. He might as well have been saying, "I did my book report on Watchmen because it was really good and it's got superheroes and I think that's really cool and neat and I finished reading it all the way now, and you know, you should read it too, I think because it's really good." This after everyone had waited at least two hours to get into the fabled Hall H.

Then Zack Snyder came out, followed by the entire principle cast, as well as Watchmen artist Dave Gibbons. Gibbons spoke about how wonderful it was seeing his drawings come to life, how he loved seeing his "g" signature on set graffiti. The Entertainment Weekly schmuck asked him if he ever thought about visiting Alan Moore and telling him to "get over his bad self" and come support the movie. Gibbons laughed and said, "There is an elephant in the room, isn't there?" He said he wished Alan could share the joy he was experiencing at seeing brought to life things that had been in his head, and he was sorry Alan had had such bad experiences before.

It's hard to put a whole lot of stock in everyone's insistence of commitment to the material when they go right ahead adapting it against the wishes of its original author. Though I have to admit, Zack Snyder made a good point when he said that when he got the offer to direct the project, he would have felt responsible if, having passed on it, it would have gone to someone who'd have done an even worse job (the actual words he used, of course, were something like, "a bad job"). I'd forgotten how prone to rambling Snyder is. He gets stuck in loops, repeating the same bits of information as he goes further and further from the point.

Much more succinct was Billy Crudup, who is apparently kind of a badass. "You had to play someone," asked the EW schmuck, "who experiences all time at once, who's blue, and--"

"I already know what you're going to ask and I've already answered this question," said Crudup with a chilly smirk.

Dead silence in the huge room, followed by an "Ooooooo" from the crowd and nervous laughter.

"But they haven't heard it," said the Ew schmuck. Crudup eventually sort of responded to the question, but he seemed a bit detached for the whole panel, and I got the definite impression he considered himself a lot better than the movie. I don't hold it against him--he's probably right.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who's playing The Comedian, seemed like a complete prick, which I suppose is appropriate. He had a constant smirk, though it wasn't one that said he thought he was better than the movie so much as a smirk that said he thought everything in the world was stupid and funny. Again, admittedly appropriate to his character and it got me thinking about The Comedian's similarities to the Joker in The Dark Knight. He talked about how exhausting the shoot could be and added, with a smile, "I know there was one scene with Carla I'll never forget."

Is that asshole really talking about a rape scene like that? I thought. There was uncomfortable silence until Gugino forced out a wicked laugh, at which point the crowd also laughed--it sounded like she knew she had to in order to get Morgan off the hook. I really didn't think the guy deserved it. I thought her motive to laugh may've been entirely my imagination until she started talking about playing Sally Jupiter a little later.

We'd just watched clips from the movie, among which was a shot of Sally rubbing her eyes after the Minutemen group photo, followed by a shot of The Comedian leering at her. Gugino talked about how important that was to her to finding the character, how it showed the "light" that was extinguished from Sally's life after what Gugino quite soberly, and with a little hurt in her voice, described as "a . . . very intense scene with Jeff." The light of what Sally's life could have been if not for that incident, and how Sally transferred the potential of that light to Laurie.

Gugino spoke with complete passion, and I felt like she was more committed to her character than anyone else on the panel. And I thought about what a job actors have--how they have to put all their vulnerabilities on the line for faith in their directors**. Inevitably, as in this case, some directors probably don't deserve it. I wanted to hug Carla Gugino.

Some of the clips really did make me want to like the movie, mostly because several very closely replicated the art. I didn't dig the overuse of slow motion, though. The characters mostly looked right, except for some of the costumes, most notably Night Owl's.

Waiting for the trolley one night at a crowded stop, I saw a girl dressed as an anime character with a top hat and bunny ears walk past a cop, who said something complimentary to her, and commented to someone, "I gotta admit, she looked pretty cool." Is "cool" really the word? I thought.

I noticed another girl, who looked like she didn't have anything to do with Comic Con, was laughing with a strange persistence as two quiet boys grabbed and prodded her. The cop didn't say anything, she didn't say anything to the cop, or ask anyone for help. And yet later, I thought about how that laugh resembled Carla Gugino's and I hoped the girl was okay.


*Ah. Looking at that Wikipedia entry, I see Alan Moore shares my feelings about 300; "I had a lot of problems with it, and everything I heard or saw about the film tended to increase [those problems] rather than reduce them: [that] it was racist, it was homophobic, and above all it was sublimely stupid."

**"You have to go off the edge of the cliff and build your wings on the way down," I heard Ray Bradbury say to-day on the subject of what one needs to do to be a writer.
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    "This Time the Dream's on Me" - Ella Fitzgerald
Comfortable Chap

Comic-Con Report, volume 2

Now Comic-Con's over. Every time I stand up, I feel my feet crumple like soda cans, and yet I sorely miss the Con already.

I feel like all four days are toppling on me now. I'm so tired. But now is the time for blogging. So let's see . . . I'll start with Thursday.

I know I said I wasn't going to promote my comic at the con, but I figured, hell, Comic-Con's just once a year, so after checking out the floor quickly, I went to the portfolio review. I showed up a little later than last year, putting my name on the second page of a waiting list. I started waiting at 10:30am, I think, and waited until after 2:30pm for them to get to me. But the guys I talked to really seemed to like my colouring and character designs. Still, I don't find myself terribly optimistic. Maybe they're waiting until after Comic-Con to do callbacks, but I'm not keeping my hopes up.

Over and over at the Con, I heard from people, from Ray Bradbury to Ralph Bakshi, that it's more important to do what you love than to make money. At least I have that covered.

I went to room 26 that night to see the documentary Lovecraft: Fear of the Unknown, about the life and work of H.P. Lovecraft, featuring interviews with Guillermo del Toro, Neil Gaiman, Peter Straub, and greygirlbeast, among others. The interviews were great; greygirlbeast's comments came off as good impressions of the general mood conveyed by Lovecraft's philosophies. I'm pretty sure I've heard her talk before about Lovecraft's wonderful use of the existential terror caused by impressions of "deep time" in his work, but it was nice to see her talking about it in an official H.P. Lovecraft documentary. And Neil Gaiman did that adorable thing he does with words that end in "st" where he stretches the "s" into a hiss as though he's not entirely sure he's going to get around to the "t". The documentary wasn't perfect; it spent too much time synopsising Lovecraft's stories and there were a few too many documentary clichés, like the slow fade to black on the tombstone accompanied by solitary piano after the narrator says something like, "On March 15, 1937, Howard Phillips Lovecraft died . . ." At one point, the narrator started off with something like, "In 1924, Lovecraft embarked on another kind of relationship," and I thought to myself, "Please don't say he got married, please don't say he got married," and of course, he said he got married.

But I learned one or two interesting things about Lovecraft I didn't know. And you can't beat the lineup of interviews. It's nice to see Lovecraft being analysed.

Room 26 is one of the smallest rooms at the Con, about the size of an average college class room (not the theatre rooms). It was half filled, and yet I still managed to sit next to a girl who decided to talk throughout the entire movie. I consider this rude during any halfway decent movie, but it's especially contemptible when the director happens to be sitting a few feet away, and its the premiere of his movie. I couldn't make out any of what the girl said, but it sounded like she was actually arguing with the narrator. I glanced at her once and saw she wasn't with anyone, so I guess she was just trying to instruct all of us. But I enjoyed the documentary in spite of this and the fact that I really needed to pee.

Well, I think I'll wrap this up here. I'm just too tired right now, and I suppose that's natural after several days of lots of walking and very little sleep. To-morrow I'll probably write something of better length, as I'll undoubtedly be up early and energetic.
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    "Do You Wanna Dance?" - The Ramones