Friday, July 19, 2013

Comic-Con 2013: Thursday Wrap-Up

If you've never been, you might not know, but attending Comic-Con is an unpredictable event. As I write this, thousands of people are in line for Hall H already. They began lining up at 4pm yesterday and there were at least 600 brave souls prepared to sleep on the ground by midnight. Two hours ago, it was suggested that there were 8,000 people in line for a room that only holds just over 6,000. Yes, some people would leave the early panels like Veronica Mars to allow fans of The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones to enter before those panels kick off at 1:35pm, but many are there for the long haul, and will likely remain seated straight through the Metallica event that begins at 6:30. But, enough about that, let's look at how the first day of the Con went!
For some reason, opening the doors and filling Ballroom 20 took longer than anticipated, so the first panel of the day (scheduled for 10am) not begin until 10:19, and at that point the lights dimmed almost immediately to allow for the screening of the Intelligence pilot, which won’t air on CBS until February. Some people believe that throwing a panel out there in July for something that you’ll wait more than half a year for more of is a bad idea, though it’s not always a bad thing… this occurred with FOX’s The Following last year, and though the response to that drama at SDCC 2012 cannot really be followed through to the series’ first-season results, the drama was undeniably a success. 

Anyway, the screening took up the rest of the hour, but thankfully we still had a small panel discussion, though purely moderated rather than audience-driven.   Michael Seizman noted that, yes, The Six-Million Dollar Man was an inspiration, but just the “human enhancement” part, as super-strength was cool in the 70s but the ability to hack and search things in your mind is cool now. This is especially hilarious when you know that Josh Holloway is a technophobe. Another interesting question introduced was “what part of the human is left when you augment humanity?” but, of course, this is just one to ponder. One question that went to the panelists was what would they do if they had Gabriel’s power, and both Meghan Ory and Marg Helgenberger wanted more intelligence – Meghan to take some test to show how smart she is and Marg to be able to learn every language and seem smart when she travels.A last fact that was revealed in the short time was Tripp Vinson saying that there will be more about Amelia coming. 

Then, it was time to move on to the screening for Star-Crossed, a CW show that will also not hit the air until Spring 2014. Between the late start and an early finish to allow for a surprise preview of period piece Reign (the one about Mary, Queen of Scots), the panel was also short. The big topics were, of course, the potential love triangle, how the series will depict the Atrians' background, and what made the actors say "yes" to this project. Regarding the second inquiry, we learned that flashbacks will be used to show how the aliens got there. Plus, the aliens have powers, so that will be examined as well. In fact, it was teased that a lot of exposition happens in the second, third, and fourth episodes. Why actors from such dramas as 90210 and Friday Night Lights signed on is actually a simple answer: sometimes science fiction is a bigger draw than soaps. 

I elected to leave Ballroom 20 at this point and move on to a few panels in the Comics Arts conference, which is a scholarly side to Comic-Con. The first panel was about using comics to teach college writing, and although there was an absent panel member, a lot of great questions were raised in the presentations, and I thought it made for a very interesting hour. Some highlights include using the gaps between the panels of a comic book or graphic novel to force the reader to imagine what goes there, working on both extrapolation and closure.Then, we heard from a gentleman who wrote a comic about a true tragedy in Cincinnati where 13 people died. He segued interviews to transcripts to script to collaboration with artist, and the process really demonstrated how adaptation and moving across media can be challenging. Finally, some issues that students can look at when molding an essay into a comic - what happens when an essay is adapted into a comic? What happens to tone, message, intended audience? How do students re-see their writing?

Then, it was on to a session about using comics with younger students (think: middle school) in different ways. Several websites and books were suggested for educators, and I really enjoyed thinking about how teachers can do an arts-integrated unit using comics. I was particularly intrigued by one doctorate student's work where he helped oversee how eighth graders could use comics to learn and explain the Holocaust. I won't go into details here (it's his dissertation) but I was left thinking about how much time would need to be dedicated to making it work, how to convince students that their art abilities aren't paramount to a comic, and how to deliver enough quality examples for students. A third presentation looked at using comics to increase the reading levels of students in a poorer area of Los Angeles. I found it particularly interesting that what prompted these educators to do so was that the books available for HS students on lower reading levels were about topics those kids didn't care about. Using comics, many students were able to identify with themes of alienation, disenfranchisement, and being overlooked... plus it got them to keep reading because they wondered what happened in the next issue!

From there I bounced to an off-site event to check out the Fix-It Felix arcade game, which was able to be played for free. Unfortunately for me, someone was going for the world record (and had been at the machine for five hours), so I only got to watch a bit and then play some BurgerTime. I'm hoping to return and get a chance on the Wreck-It Ralph game, but we'll see. I then hit the Exhibit Hall for a bit, mainly checking out the Artists' Alley area. Soon enough, it was time to jump into line for The Science of Science Fiction, which was interesting but longer than I have time to detail now, so look forward to it. The idea behind the panel was that there is a fine line between being scientifically accurate and entertaining at the same time. In the meantime, follow along on twitter (@thetalkingbox) for today's adventures! 
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