Beneath a broken canopy of threatening rain clouds and rays of sunlight, square white tent peaks dotted the manicured green lawns of the urban campus, and it felt like the opening of a sweeping English novel as the annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books got underway Saturday morning, April 9. Held at the University of Southern California campus, this cultural zeitgeist is touted as the largest of its kind in the U.S, annually attracting 150,000 visitors over the two-day event. In addition, on Saturday evening, the event hosted the 36th Annual Book Prizes with honors going to novelist James Patterson, among others.
In the Glendale Civic Auditorium, the smell of old books waifed in the air, mingling with the myriad of ongoing conversations, the shuffling of plastic, and flipping of book pages as attendees to the 37th Annual Los Angles Vintage Paperback Show got underway last Sunday morning, April 3. With over sixty book sellers in attendance, the room was packed with stacked books on and under tables throughout the auditorium. Approximately 55 guests were set up at vendor tables or taking turn in the signing area in front of the stage, making themselves available to sign books and chat with fans. Some of the guest highlights included Lisa Morton, Cody Goodfellow, Joe R. Lansdale, William F. Nolan, and Wendy & Richard Pini (ElfQuest) – many who had long lines of people waiting to have one book or bags full of books to be signed.
James Ganiere (Chief Editor, Fallen Angel Press; CEO-Rio Vista Universal) moderated the Saturday afternoon WonderCon panel, “Romance in Sci-Fi and Fantasy,” which assembled actress Gigi Edgley (Farscape, Star Trek Continues), writer Rebekah R. Ganiere (Fairelle series, President of Fantasy Futuristic & Paranormal RWA chapter), writer Mark O'Bannon (The Dream Crystal, Star Raiders), and actor James Kyson (Heroes, Nobility). Unfortunately, actress Mira Furlan was unable to attend due to being on a shoot. Why a romance panel? Romance sells well; at least 50% of the books sold are romance, and romance is a critical component of any story told.
He had hoped that his collaborator, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, would have been able to join him, but, instead, Francesco Francavilla sat at the long table on his own, bringing new meaning to the “Spotlight on Francesco Francavilla” WonderCon panel. With a distinctive pulpy art style that punctuates the horror and noir stories he has worked on, it seems a strange marriage that his career would lead him to the All-American, boy-next-door comic, Afterlife with Archie, published by Archie Comics. Just looking at his covers evokes some of the early Abbott and Costello Meets [insert monster name] films or just about any of the 1940s-1950s horror B-movies that would eventually be featured on a Joe Bob Briggs or an Elvira show decades later. For 50 minutes, Francavilla entertained questions from the audience.
The WonderCon panel titled “Building Worlds with Words” gathered several writers to provide insight into their own methods for creating worlds. As the moderator, Cecil Castellucci (Moving Targets: Princess Leia) started off the introductions. Joining her were Aditi Khorana (Mirror in the Sky), Margaret Stohl (Black Widow: Forever Red), Victoria Schwab (A Gathering of Shadows), Lisa Lee (DC Superheroes Girls Series), Gretchen McNeil (Possess, Ten), and Caragh M. O'Brien (Vault of Dreamers).
Image Comics' Branding Manager David Brothers introduced Brian Haberlin (Faster Than Light), Jimmie Robinson (Power Lines), Brian Schirmer (Black Jack Ketchum), Keenan Marshall Keller (The Humans), and Joe Harris (Snowfall) to a roomful of WonderCon attendees Friday afternoon for the panel titled “Image Comics: Where Creators Own the New Creativity.”
Comic book writer Mark Evanier commenced the hour of “Cover Story” by relating that in the industry's early days, 95% of a comic book's selling potential was reliant on the cover art. Part of the reason for this was because comics used to be sold on newsstands. He related that, at that time, the stories were written based on the cover; however, after comics moved off the newsstands and into the local comic book shop, and a non-return policy was put into place, the emphasis on cover art changed. Now, the story influences the cover; however, the cover is drawn and completed months before the interiors are realized.
Please note that The Arkham Sessions podcast, hosted by Dr. Andrea Letamendi and Brian Ward, is syndicated each week on Fanboy Comics.
On Friday afternoon, many WonderCon attendees packed one of the conference rooms in the West Hall to listen to television writers discuss the Marvel shows they are working on with moderator Brian Ward (The Arkham Sessions). Four Marvel shows were represented - D.J. Doyle (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), Jose Molina (Agent Carter), Lindsey Allen (Agent Carter), Christos Gage (Daredevil), and Scott Reynolds (Jessica Jones) - while Dr. Andrea Letamendi (The Arkham Sessions) provided her psychological expertise to explore the dramatic psyche of each central character.
Please note that Michael Fitzgerald Troy writes a weekly column for Fanboy Comics titled Wonder Woman Wednesday.
On the heels of the Friday, March 25th, premiere of the highly anticipated Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice film in which audiences could get their first glimpse of Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), moderator Jessica Tseang (Little Geek Girls/The Comic Book Girl) hosted the panel titled, “Wonder Woman: Will She Finally Be Done Right?” Tseang assembled an impressive group of panelists that spanned direct involved with the licensed property to experts on popular culture that could explore and analyze that question at the Saturday morning WonderCon panel. The panel included Steven L. Sears (executive producer, writer, Xena: Warrior Princess), Lisa Klink (Star Trek Voyager, Roswell), Barbra Dillon (Editor-in-Chief, Fanboy Comics), Michael Fitzgerald Troy (Going Gaga! Adele #1, Prism Comics), Eric Diaz (writer for Nerdist, Topless Robot), and Drew Johnson (DC Comics' Wonder Woman).