While one attends a lecture to hear what the speaker has to say, one attends a panel discussion for the same reason one goes to hockey games and flower shows: To see if a fight breaks out.* I didn’t really know the other panelists at all, so I couldn’t predict if there will be controversy and disagreement, or if they’ll all be in awe, so everyone will agree wholeheartedly that comics are great, the artists are all great for making comics, and it’s great that the audience likes them too.
IMHO, Scott McCloud stole the show. Well, he could have stolen it, easily, but being just the hoopy frood that he is (who certainly knows where his towel is) he shared the limelight with the other panelists with gracious enthusiasm. He’s insightful, articulate and entertaining. And he’s quite humble about being a Rock Star of the comics community.** I’d consider paying to see him speak at the other events this weekend, and I’d certainly be happy to hang out with him and talk about stuff.
Colleen Coover**** also had some interesting things to say, although she had a tendency for her thoughts to get far ahead of her words, leading to some jumbled sentences and monologues that rambled far and wide. Gail Simone, a writer of “Birds of Prey” comics, said she was a hairdresser for fifteen years before she got into writing (It’s never too late!).
And I know that none of the people reading this actually need this reminder, but I just have to say that when the moderator asks “Does anyone in the audience have a question for the panel?”, that is not code for “Does anyone want to ramble on about themselves for a couple minutes, then conclude with a vague statement that really isn’t a question?” Because that’s apparently what a few people heard. Most people got it right. They should have gotten cookies.
After it was over, I thought about waiting around to chat with the panelists, but I was tired and hungry (having not had dinner yet), and I know better than to try to be social under those circumstances. One the way home I was thinking about how a presentation on comics should have a larger visual component, and that made me think that I could do a presentation on webcomics (like “Why And How To Start Your Webcomic”). I think I could put on a pretty good show…
* Nobody really believes that NASCAR is about watching the cars driving around in circles, right? NASCAR is about the fact that those cars COULD CRASH AT ANY SECOND! EXPLOSIONS!! CARNAGE!!!
** Aside from his outfit ***, he looks like a completely average guy. If you saw him on the bus, you’re far less likely to think “Hey, he must be someone famous!” than “Isn’t that my Dad’s insurance agent?”
*** If you want to disguise yourself as member of Team McCloud, wear black Levi’s and a black t-shirt. Black Velcro shoes really complete the ensemble.
**** I met her at Stumptown Comics Fest last fall, but I’d bet a box of doughnuts (real ones, not virtual) that she doesn’t remember me.