NYCC 2014 – Day 3

Saturday was a day fairly light on manga, but that doesn’t mean there was not a great deal of things to experience at this third day of the con – and the busiest in terms of sheer bodies.

I began with Tom Cook, an animator who worked with Filmation in the 1980s, who was discussing both his career and the way Saturday morning cartoons worked back in the day. He’d grown up with early Hanna-Barbera TV titles – Top Cat was a favorite – and through luck and talent managed to get a job working for them as an animator, which was very much learn as you go. They started work at an airplane hangar in Burbank, as the regular building was still being built/renovated.

After a few years, he got wing of H-B threatening to move all their jobs overseas and switched over to Filmation, whose big selling point was they said they would never do that – it was all in the US. Of course, the drawback was they had to compete with larger budgets, and also do larger shows – 25% of each He-Man had to be recycled footage. Not because they were too lazy or had no budget – for the sheer number of shows they had to do, the budget did what it could.

After a discussion of how ACME came into being (it came from the peg boards used to hold down their drawings, made by a real-life ACME), he ended the panel by walking us through how a typical cartoon was made in those days. Mattel asked for He-Man to sell their toys, so a good script was essential. After that, they moved to voice recording, followed by storyboarding and the model sheets. From there the animation happened, followed by backgrounds, then the actual filming on a camera, then the editing, and finally adding the voice and sound to the film.

Next up I saw a panel discussing comics journalism, with several names familiar to the manga crowd, including Deb Aoki and Brigid Alverson. The panel discussed how each of them found themselves in the field, and what makes comics journalism so rewarding. Some of the topics discussed included misogyny and hate in the comments of blogs and message boards, and how moderating these has simply gotten too time-consuming and exhausting. Most sites have comments active as it fosters a sense of community, but you should never be afraid to ban jerks.

There was discussion of the recent debate about “is cosplay killing comics”, which the whole panel agreed was ridiculous. Comics journalism is also finding new competition these days, from sites like TMZ or Nerdist, and it can b e hard to make your own site known. Much like real life politics, the internet comics scene is dealing with polarization and fragmentation (Tumblr is a good example here), and you have to move with the times.

After a brief line wait, I ended up in the IDW artists panel. Much of this panel was used to plug the various artists’ titles, but each was given a good discussion and going over about why it was so popular and fun to read. Gabriel Rodriguez discussed Locke and Key, his co-created series, s well as titles based on old properties such as the new Little Nemo reboot, where all artists are nervous about following in the footsteps of Windsor McCay. He enjoys drawing licensed titles as well, and Sarah Gaydos, the editor and moderator, helpfully added with regards to what studios want: “They have to be realistic, but also hot.”

An artist who goes by Menton3 also does licensed work, and finds that the ‘original is better by default’ crowd gets too pretentious. He said the real danger was in being bland – both in licensed and original works. Menton3 also does a lot of oil painting and also meditates, which is likely how he’s able to get away with lines like “externalizing the internality”.

Derek Charm does Powerpuff Girls, and was also good enough to do the recent IDW crossover series, Super Secret Crisis Wars, which brought the PPG together with Samurai Jack, Ed, Edd and Eddy, and other CN creations. IDW also took the time to announce they would be doing anotehr of those soon.

Andy Price discussed My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, and how he had to argue to Hasbro to let him use his own, more ‘comics’ style rather than simply imitate the show. He enjoys making fun, experimental layouts, and says MLP is good for that as the show is already so fluid to begin with. He also had his range noted – we saw by some art of Hulk and Wonder Woman that he can draw more than just ponies.

Alan Robert got to talk about his Killogy title, which brings together characters from Goodfellas, Heroes and the Ramones in a horror comic title. He’s also done another popular series called The Shunned One, and said it was important for each title to have its own voice. After this, with minimal time for Q&A, the panel was asked to give comic advice. The best advice was Andy Price’s: draw everything. Don’t just stick with your favorites or what you’re good at.

Sailor Moon was in the same room in an hour, so I just stayed (which turned out to be a good idea – SM fans were getting turned away from the immense line). As a result, I saw Del Rey’s panel on the new Star Wars books. This really isn’t my fandom, so I didn’t get much of what they were talking about. The new book on Grand Moff Tarkin sounds interesting. And the Lords of the Sith cover was hilarious – the panel jokingly called it a “Darth Vader and Palpatine go on spring break” book.

As for the Sailor Moon panel itself, Viz played some dub clips for us – Stephanie Sheh makes a terrific Usagi, even to my dub-hating ears. We also got to hear the debut of Amanda Miller as Jupiter – this hasn’t been released yet. She sounded quite good. The other big news, which actually broke on Thursday, was the 2nd S1 box set, due out this February.

Lastly, Vertical played to a packed house, much to the surprise and pleasure of Ed Chavez. He went through some of their recent releases, then gave us the two big announcements, neither of which should surprise those who follow Vertical. They’re publishing Vols. 2 and 3 of Before the Fall as an omnibus together next fall, and this is the arc that was made into the manga Kodansha is releasing. They also have the brand new Harsh Mistress fo the City novel, which only has one volume in Japan, but will also be a 2-volume omnibus by the time it’s out here. It’s a good time to be a Titan fan.

The other big news was that they’re splitting the manga imprint into its own line, Vertical Comics, separate from Vertical Inc. which will continue to publish its non-fiction, crime novels, etc. Witchcraft Works and The Garden of Words are the first to bear that imprint, with more on the way. Ed is excited for this, as the separate focus will allow both Comics and Inc. to work harder at reaching out to their own distinct audiences.

This day wasn’t quite as involved as the previous two, so this writeup is smaller. Tomorrow will be smaller still, but both Kodansha Comcis and Crunchyroll manga should both have interesting things to say before everyone head home.

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