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The line for Alex Ross.
Mario Anima's
First Day at WonderCon

12:00 P.M. – After press registration is all taken care of, I made a quick lap of the Exhibition Hall. No shopping, just scoping the whole place out before the first panel takes place at 1:30 p.m. As with any convention, there are plenty of things to see and do here. One highlight of this stroll included running into Harvey Pekar over at the DC Comics booth. He was signing promo cards for his upcoming Vertigo Comics series with Dean Haspiel titled, “The Quitter.” It’s always nice to see Harvey, doing what he does.

1:30 P.M. – After touching bases with Derek, I headed off to attend Cover Story: The Art of the Cover, which featured none other than the likes of Neal Adams, Adam Hughes, Alex Ross, and William Stout. You could hardly ask for a better sample of artist for this panel, and it proved not only insightful but entertaining as well.

I’d never been privy to Neal Adams in a forum such as this, so his straightforward “damn the torpedoes” sincerity really made for a pleasant experience. Upon arriving, Moderator Mark Evanier and William Stout immediately opened up for questioning before the rest of the panel arrived. The first question asked was directed to William Stout questioning the percentage of homosexuals working in the comic industry. The questioning party had felt slighted by Joe Kubert while attending The Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art, and felt that the entire town of Dover, Colorado had it in for him because he is homosexual. Basically, he blamed Kubert for the mistreatment over his sexual preferences, and therefore formulated the question.

William Stout addressed this as amicably as possible until Neal Adams entered and caught wind of what was being discussed. He immediately rushed to Kubert’s defense and tried to reason with the questioning party, explaining that Joe Kubert had no power or precedence over the town of Dover. Neal begged that the questioning party take his word for it, that “Joe Kubert does not hate you,” and closed out discussion with “F*** Dover” explaining “they could be a bunch of assholes for all I know.”

The whole exchange really set the tone for the rest of the panel discussion, which was open, candid, and sometimes brutally honest. One topic of note was the contrast between covers that “raise questions” versus “decorative action covers.” All of the panelists agreed that there has to be something of interest to draw them into a cover when commissioned, so they invent tiny stories to tell because the art of creating covers that “question” the reader (i.e. pick up this book to find out why Superman is accused of murder!) is being pushed aside by decorative covers glamorizing action.

This was a jab at Marvel, because essentially Adams had been commissioned to produce a cover for the Avengers Finale issue, but had been told to show “heroes in action poses” to which he quipped, “there’s no story there.” So he invented his own to entertain himself. With the aid of perspective, he decided to make the heads of Ant Man, Giant Man, and Hawkeye the same size on the page despite their differences in physical size. This kept him entertained because there was no other story to tell on the cover.

Neal is chock full of tales, and he is a delight to listen to. It was also interesting to hear everyone else’s take on various aspects of cover art. The fact that Alex Ross’ work is brilliant is not so much a given, but an exception in many cases. It was hilarious to hear Adam Hughes’ take on Ross’ work ethic. He likened having a conversation about the difficulties of rendering seemingly impossible detail in his work to having a conversation with Superman about being able to fly. “You ask Superman, ‘How do you fly?’ and he responds, ‘I dunno, I just jump up in the air…It’s easy.’” The work of Alex Ross astounds everyone, including the panelists, and yet to him it all comes easy.

HINTS at upcoming work: Ross talked about his upcoming JLA project entitled Justice which will try to darken the idea of a “Legion of Doom.” Stout has a couple films he did design work for coming out, “Muppet Wizard of Oz” (to be broadcast on ABC this Spring) and “Pan's Labyrinth” for Guillermo Del Toro. Adams has a secret, hush-hush, project in the works. The names he threw out were “DC, and possibly Frank Miller” but could not elaborate on it further. Other than that he has his “science project” which leads us to…

5:00 P.M. – Ok, after buying a bunch of books, chit-chatting with Geoff Johns about continuity in Green Arrow and Teen Titans, and eating a hearty, yet late, lunch, I headed off to Spotlight on Neal Adams, which despite the title, wasn’t what you would think. Apparently Neal is a big science buff and he is prone to questioning the “solutions” thrown at us by the scientific community. His big beef is with the theories surrounding the birth of the universe, the big bang, and the theory of Pangea.

Basically, his theory is that all of this stuff is “bullshit” and he has come up with his own ideas based on his studies of biology, physics, geology, and pretty much any other –ology on the planet. What has resulted from this 30-year labor of love is a two-hour film entitled A New Model of the Universe and an upcoming book that delves into the nuts and bolts of his theory. We screened a one-hour version of the film, and then opened up for discussion, and man, if his ideas aren’t mind blowing.

I won’t go into the long end of it, but basically his theory involves some corrections to the ideas of tectonic shifting of continents from a “singular land mass” and attributes these shifts not to drift, but to the actual physical growth of our planet. Yes, according to Neal, our planet is growing, and he has sizable data to support his findings. (So we're definitely on DC Earth, not Marvel Earth.) If you have a remote desire to hear an alternate theory that not only disproves the Big Bang as being absurd, but also suggests something that makes sense in theory, then seek out Neal’s book and film. The presentation is nothing to gush about, but what is really intriguing lies within what he is proposing.

Mario Anima


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