I was having a tough time deciding whether I wanted to see the Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles panel or the Tori Amos panel, which were both scheduled for the same time. Both panels would draw enough people that I knew I'd have to sit through the preceding panel of whichever I chose, so my decision to see the Tori Amos panel was made mostly because I felt I'd rather sit through Ralph Bakshi than Ben 10.
The Lord of the Rings movie Bakshi made in 1978 and Cool World are, I think, the only films of Bakshi's I've seen, and I haven't seen either of those in a very long time. But I felt I was probably more familiar with most of his work than 90% of the rest of the people in the room, who were mostly beautiful girls in their 20s dressed like faeries and Pre-Raphaelite models, so clearly there for Tori Amos.
Bakshi came in by himself around 30 minutes early--his was the first panel of the day, so he could do that without interrupting anyone. He's a stout, bearded old man with a voice a little like Tony Curtis, and he expressed gladness at seeing that so many people had shown up. "I'm always afraid one day no one will. I'll probably cry," he smiled. I don't know if he thought he suddenly had an enormous fan base amongst young girls, but I think everyone was a little uncomfortable now, especially as, when trying to decide how to pass the time, Bakshi asked the audience if they had any questions for him.
Fortunately, a few guys, who were all scattered in seats in the rear of the room, were actually there for him and asked him a couple questions, mostly about Lord of the Rings and Cool World. There's an upcoming sequel to Bakshi's film Wizards and one guy asked if there would be any voice actors returning from the first film.
"They're all dead," said Bakshi. The crowd automatically laughed, and although Bakshi smiled, he reiterated a couple times how most of the people he'd worked with when he was young were dead, and I don't think he thought it was funny.
I must say, the hour and a half before the Tori Amos panel were not dull in the slightest. Bakshi seemed unsure if he wanted to stick around when he found out how early he was, but almost without seeming to be aware of it, he launched into one absolutely amazing story after another. I'll be damned if the whole room wasn't in love with Ralph Bakshi by the end.
He told a story about working on his film Fire and Ice that was one of the best things I'd ever heard. Fire and Ice was a collaboration between Bakshi and Frank Frazetta, and Bakshi talked about how Frazetta, a man in his fifties, demonstrated to the movie's stuntmen how to do some of the more arduous stunts with more energy than any of the stuntmen demonstrated. Bakshi also mentioned how Frazetta carried all his paintings around with him in a trailer.
Painting backgrounds on the movie were a young James Gurney and Thomas Kinkade. Apparently, according to Bakshi, they learned all they knew about painting from Frazetta, which is hilarious in itself. "Kinkade makes a lot of money off garbage now," said Bakshi, at which point the room applauded. "But I will say this for Kinkade; he was the greatest hustler I ever met."
He described Kinkade constantly coming into his office and demanding more money, and they'd get into really heated arguments partly because, as Bakshi said, Kinkade "didn't like Jewish guys from Brooklyn" (Bakshi's a Jewish guy from Brooklyn). Finally, one day Kinkade tells Bakshi he and Gurney have to hitchhike across the country. "What d'you mean you gotta hitchhike across the country? We're making a movie!"
But Kinkade eventually wore Bakshi down, and he and Gurney went from town to town getting their pictures in every local paper, talking about the movie and how they were the great artists. When they got back to Los Angeles, Bakshi said Kinkade, "told me he needed a raise. I said, 'why' and he said because he's famous now."
Bakshi talked a lot about how one needs to deal with greed constantly in the business. He said he had a lot of difficulty with studios because he absolutely refused to take notes. He started talking about politics, too, telling us we were crazy if we didn't vote for Obama. "There were crooks and thieves in my day," he said. "But never like this."
When it finally got to be 10:15am, the time Bakshi's panel was originally supposed to start, one of the Comic-Con higher ups came in and presented Bakshi with an Inkpot Award. People cheered and Bakshi said he wished his old friends were alive to see it.
The Tori Amos panel wasn't nearly as interesting, though it wasn't bad by any means. Tori looked great, wearing a black dress with a massive, stiff collar that extended up around her like a big tube. Her hair's still bright, orange red, long and straight with bangs. This was all in 6B again, and I was in the fourth row, so I was closer than I'd ever been at any of her concerts. With her were four comic book creators, as the panel was for Comic Book Tattoo, a collection of comics inspired by Tori Amos songs.
Amos discussed with her fellow panellists the similarities between creating panel structures in comics with writing music. Kelly Sue DeConnick talked about how working without panel breaks was similar to working without drums.
When it got time for fans to ask questions, the moderator stipulated, "We all know you love Tori and you're happy she's here." This didn't stop nearly everyone from prefacing with variations of, "I love you Tori and I'm happy you're here." No terrible calamity ensued and no-one bitched about the loss of the perhaps one minute attributable to everyone telling Tori they loved her.
Well, to-morrow maybe I'll get to the halfway point on these reports . . .