Monday, June 30, 2008

The Hayfamzone Report from WizardWorld Chicago 2008

It was fun to have Art Baltazar and Franco sit up on the dais for the DC Nation panel (especially when a fan asked if Lobo would be showing up anytime soon in the DC Universe and Mr. Baltazar chimed in that Mr. Lobo would be hired as the gym teacher in Tiny Titans #11!) and the Mr. Silver Age Trivia Contest is always a pleasure (and I wish Matt Hawes would put the whole hour up on YouTube every year like he did in 2006).

But I must say that one of this year's other panels at WizardWorld Chicago was one of my all-time favorites in the entire (gulp) thirty-two years I've been attending comic conventions in Chicago. But get this. The panel started twenty minutes late. Its theme wasn't what was promised. And it was great.

Billed as Brian Bendis Vs. Geoff Johns, the panel was supposed to feature these two top comics writers spout off their differing opinions on all manners of subjects related to the comics field. The audience was very patient during the long delay, and when the panel finally began it did so with a BANG.

Bendis (who has an exclusive contract writing for Marvel Comics) and Johns (exclusive to DC Comics) lunged at each other from opposite sides of the stage and proceeded to loudly tussle as if in a wrestling match, though for almost all of the audience the visual was obscured by the banquet tables on the dais. It was all in good fun (whew!) and the boys sat down, panting and puffing, at separate tables. Then Bendis announced that the two of them would then be hijacking their own panel.

He explained that he and Johns felt that the proposed point/counterpoint two-shot motif of a panel might have been mildly interesting since the two of them do have many differing opinions, but they further felt that they had a better idea. They proceeded to call up to the stage their friends and colleagues in the comics industry, a roughly half-and-half mix of DC and Marvel creators. Koi Pham. Gail Simone. David Finch. Ethan Van Sciver. C. B. Cebulski. Olivier Coipel. Brian Reed.

Bendis and Johns proclaimed it as the first-ever Marvel And DC panel. Continual comical references were made to the apocryphal upcoming companywide crossover series to be entitled Secret Crisis. At one point, Bendis got a big laugh from the audience when he said "I do like Lex Luthor, actually. I do relate to him," and if you don't get the joke just take a look at these photos of Bendis.

It was a fun and free-wheeling hour that transcended the mere hawking of company product that (unfortunately) characterizes most of the panels at WizardWorld Chicago. Yes, I said "hour." Though the panel started twenty minutes after it was scheduled to begin, it also finished twenty minutes after it was scheduled to end; in my time I've attended many panels that began late, but I can't recall any other panel that ran overtime. And yes, I said "free-wheeling." Rich Johnston reported over in his Lying in the Gutters (which I read every week and you should too) that the higher-ups at DC and/or Marvel were none too pleased with the cross-company hijinks at this particular panel.

Johnston wrapped up his item by pointing out that Bendis Vs. Johns "was regarded as the best and most buzzed about panel of the convention." I hope I've sufficiently whetted your appetite so that you'll want to read Newsarama's more-or-less verbatim transcript of the panel by clicking here.