I knew I had descended on Wizard World when people started shoving magazines, flyers and promotional materials at me while Gene Simmons of K.I.S.S. and his entourage whisked past me. I had taken the subway into the heart of downtown Los Angeles but in my haste, I had forgotten to indulge in the morning ritual of breakfast. Yet there was no time even for coffee. I felt an obligation to cover as much as possible in as little time as possible, while at the same time carving a little “fan boy” time for myself. I briefly spoke to 22-year old fan Alex Moran who confessed he was excited to see K.I.S.S. until he was rebuffed by his idol. “Gene Simmons just blew me off,” he said, “I also want to see David Faustino. I’m a big fan. Al Bundy is my hero. He and I have a similar philosophy about life.”
I didn’t stick around to find out what that was. Usually when I come to these things, I sit in a couple of panels and then make it out to the convention floor to gobble up goodies and to try and plug in the holes to my collection. I vowed to find those illusive issues of Peter David’s 1996 run on Supergirl before leaving the Convention center.
I sat in the IDW “Family Jewels” panel for a bit. I love IDW, not only do they publish some of the best horror titles in the industry, they also have licensed properties such as Spike and Angel and Transformers. Editor-In-Chief Chris Ryall told us the 30 Days of Nights movie was coming out in October. Fans wanted to know if there were more Transformers crossovers planned but Ryall said none were planned beyond the Avengers/Transformers crossover with Marvel. IDW has planned another Spotlight on Optimus Prime, but no “Evolution” stories are planned until 2008.
Though I wanted to stick around longer as Gene Simmons and his son announced their comics related plans, I had to make it to the Heroes Q&A panel which was already in progress next door. This panel looked more crowded than the San Bernadino freeway at rush hour. Sitting at the table were creator Tim Kring, comic book artist Tim Sale and writer Jeph Loeb, among others. It was announced that season one of the show was going to be released soon on Hi-Def DVD format. Such metaphysical questions like “If Jessica has super strength, why doesn’t Nikki? Or does she?” were answered while the creators revealed the secrets behind creating the series. Loeb said the show was a fairly easy sell to the network since NBC was in 4th place at the time and looking for a large serialized ensemble show. “We like to think of it as ‘Save the cheerleader, save the network,’” he quipped to roaring approval of the audience.
Artist Tim Sale said he gets his assignments on a weekly basis and likes to watch the show when it airs so he doesn’t read the scripts. NBC.com will auction some of the paintings seen on the show and the proceeds will go to the Epilepsy Foundation charity. The creators also announced they are planning a book to be released next year based on the series entitled Saving Charlie for those who are upset over that character being killed off. The creators said the character was killed to show it isn’t so easy to go through the journey of becoming a hero.
At the moment, the journey I wanted to take was to the concession stands because I was starving, so I ducked out of the Heroes panel and grabbed one of the most expensive cheeseburgers I have ever eaten.
Next up was the DC Universe: “March to the Future” panel. I was looking forward to this one because Dan DiDio is always a charismatic presence. Joining him were Bob Wayne, VP of Sales, Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti and the legendary Marv Wolfman who received an enthusiastic greeting from the audience. Unfortunately, Wolfman’s participation in the panel took a backseat to DiDio and Palmiotti’s banter. Bill Willingham was also on tap to discuss his exploration of the magic side of the DC universe and in particular his series, Shadowpact. “Everything’s secret about the DC universe nowadays,” said Willingham, “So I will make you a deal and reveal anything you want to know about Shadowpact. Ultimately, not many secrets were revealed, but a flurry of Detective Chimp jokes did follow.
To be fair, many upcoming DC projects were discussed. A new Booster Good series will be coming out co-starring Rip Hunter. A new Infinity Inc. book by Peter Milligan starring John Henry Irons spins off from 52 and Amanda Conner spoke about a 4-issue mini series introducing the new Tara. “I like to see super heroes out of their natural element,” she said in reference to a recent story which had Supergirl attending a rave.
“Amazons Attack” is coming soon as are WWIII specials which tie into One Year Laters. The Nightwing Annual will finally address the Dick Grayson/Barbara Gordon proposal. There’s also a JLA/JSA crossover which directly ties into Countdown. “Practically everything ties into Countdown somehow,” said DiDio.
Another Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighers mini-series is scheduled for fall and a Sinestro Corps Special which ties into Green Lantern is coming in June. There’s also a Batlash mini-series coming out.
I aked DiDio about the future of my favorite DC book, Manhunter, and he said though the sales have not improved, DC continues to support the book and is hoping that the trades will drum up more fan support. “It’s a flavor we don’t really do, so we want to make sure it’s still out there,” he said.
Next up was a Marvel’s “Civil War Fallout-Initiative” panel which figured to be very entertaining as Ed Brubaker (the man charged with killing off Captain America) joined Jeph Loeb and editors Tom Brevoort, C.B. Cebulski, Paul Jenkins, Dwayne McDuffie, Jim McCann and the Knnaufs to discuss all things Marvel. Among some of the projects coming from the house of ideas: New Warriors, New Avengers vs. Mighty Avengers, Nova, “a very aggressive” new Submariner, Omega Flight, Iron Man Director of S.H.I.E..L.D. featuring a new Mandarin, and the return of a certain Norse God in July.
Brubaker, of course, had to deal with questions regarding Cap’s death. Particularly, he was asked why Cap was bumped off by a simple assassin’s bullet. “I wanted Captain America to be assassinated by the Red Skull and his minions. There was never a doubt in my mind about that,” he said. Loeb added, “That’s what every soldier fears, since he was the ultimate Super soldier.” Oh yea, and he’s really dead.
Loeb confirmed screenwriter Joss Whedon’s participation in the conclusion to Civil War saying the editors had a million scenarios on how to end the series.
Following the Marvel panel, I headed out again on the convention floor. I saw Lou Ferrigno signing autographs, and I told him I thought his appearances on The King of Queens were hilarious, though he hardly acknowledged my praises. Guess he’s heard it all before.
I asked David Faustino what his thoughts were on the recent trend of TV and screenwriters crossing over into comics. “I haven’t put that much thought into it,” he answered, “It’s cool I guess, it’s awesome to see my face on the cover of a comic book.”
I thought about interviewing Jerri Manthey from Survivor as the season she
was in was my favorite season of the reality show, but I uncharacteristically lost my nerve, so I decided to track down my missing issues of Supergirl instead.
See you next year, Wizard World!