I had the opportunity to attend San Diego Comic-Con’s Comics Arts Conference Session #9: Focus on Carey Pietsch: Comedy and Fantasy in Comics with Clint McElroy on July 20th, 2019. The panel was billed as an in-depth examination of Carey Pietsch’s artistic process during the creation of The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins (an adaptation of the hugely popular podcast, The Adventure Zone, which features a family playing Dungeons & Dragons) with input from one of the book’s authors, Clint McElroy.
The panel was moderated by Peter Coogan (Comics Arts Conference) and, naturally, featured Carey Pietsch (Lumberjane; Adventure Time: Marceline Gone Adrift) and Clint McElroy (War of the Realms: Journey into Mystery). It’s worth mentioning that I was able to attend San Diego Comic Con this year in part thanks to the Comics Arts Conference, an academic conference inside of SDCC. My significant other was presenting at one of their panels this year, and they were kind enough to provide us tickets to the event.
Both moderator and panelists spoke candidly with the audience about the difficulties and challenges of adapting a podcast into a graphic novel. Topics of discussion included slanting panels to create tension and motion, the use of monochromatic panels to express emotion, and creating a single cohesive story comprised of both the in-game narrative of D&D and the out-of-character interactions of the play.
The panel took place in a small, intimate space, and, more so than the average panel, focused on educating its audience, although Clint provided some much-needed levity and was quick to engage with the audience. The moderator led with most of the questions, but near the end of the panel opened things up to a Q&A for Carey and Clint.
CAC’s panels always have an academic purpose to them, so they might not appeal to everyone, but the information they provide is always invaluable. CAC attends SDCC every year and usually provides 3-4 panels per day, so if you ever find yourself at SDCC, I highly recommend stopping by to see at least one of their panels, especially if you need a break from the crowds.