Denver Comic Con 2018
Cait’s Coverage, Sunday
With the final day of Denver Comic Con done, it’s time for me to wrap up my own coverage of this lovely event. Thanks again to Denver Comic Con and Pop Culture Classroom for the opportunity to take part in the festivities and watch some excellent panels. Despite starting later in the day, my Sunday afternoon was jam packed with panels and this time they were all centered on specifically on comics. While I went in to DCC 2018 expecting to see great panels on comics (and I did), I appreciate that DCC took a chance and spread out a bit more with an incredible line up of novelists. I love my comics and graphic novels as much as anyone but it’s really great to see the expansion to fans of other types of literature. Not to mention that I left the exhibit hall with about ten more pounds of books. Shhhhh, don’t tell Kendric. But back to comics!
Why You Actually Don’t Hate Superman
As I’m sure was intended, the second that I saw the title of this panel in the listing for DCC 2018, there was no chance that I was going to miss it. I have long and loudly proclaimed about how much I dislike Superman. While I don’t think he’s the worst hero ever, he certainly bores me to tears. The rare exceptions are when he’s teamed up with Batman (that’s a duo that’s endlessly entertaining) or when there’s some twist that makes him evil or screwed up in some way (Red Son and Injustice being a few examples). So when I showed up at the panel, I did so largely out of knee-jerk reaction to the idea of not hating Superman. To give the moderators, Nathan Ellis and Alexandra Foster, credit however, I came away impressed, if not entirely convinced. In preparation for what I’m sure was expected to be a contentious argument, Nathan and Alexandra had put together a PowerPoint presentation about why you shouldn’t hate Superman. In presenting it, Nathan addressed some of the biggest complaints about Superman, grouping them into three major categories: Superman is overpowered and can’t die, Superman is overly patriotic or jingoistic, and Superman is outdated and boring. While he touched on each of these and gave arguments against these specific complaints, the main argument was that Superman, since his inception, has been the representation of our best selves. He’s the embodiment of how America wants to see itself. Writers have tried to adapt Superman to a changing audience which increasingly grew tired of the Boy Scout but largely succeeded in adding on powers to an already extensive list and making more than a few missteps. Superman has always been under immense pressure to be everything that we expect heroes to be while heroes like Batman are free to be a dark reflection of him. This is particularly the case because Superman is and has always been an immigrant and was created by Jewish immigrants at a time which was not particularly kind to them. While it didn’t necessarily make me love Superman (he’s still a little too perfect for my taste), I did appreciate the change in perspective. I’m not sure I’ll ever love Superman but I did enjoy the discussion about why he’s appealing to so many (and why his character has been either loved or hated) much more than I expected to. I also plan to read some of the Superman stories that were mentioned in the panel to see if it succeeds in changing my mind on one of my least favorite superheroes.
Star Wars Comics
It was a real struggle for me to choose between this panel and another one about independent comics but ultimately my love for the Star Wars galaxy won out. And I have absolutely zero regret about that because this was one of the most entertaining panels that I was able to see at DCC this year. The panel consisted of three writers and two artists who are currently working on Star Wars stories: Charles Soule, Delilah Dawson, Jody Houser, Joe Corroney and Denys Cowan. It was interesting to see the big differences in terms of time spent on the Star Wars universe. Joe Corroney had years on everyone else as his first job with Star Wars material was when he worked on a roleplaying game before he started at Dark Horse Comics when they were still doing Star Wars comics. Many of the others had started working on Star Wars stories with the establishment of the new canon by Disney and Marvel. What made this panel so much fun was seeing how much each of the panelists was at heart a fan of Star Wars and as much in love with the property as I have been. Many of them had been fans of Star Wars since they were kids and it was clearly a dream come true to be working on these stories now. Jody House and Delilah Dawson both talked about how supportive the community of Star Wars writers and artists is and how easy it is to work with Story Group (the division of Lucasfilm which is responsible for establishing Star Wars canon and the ultimate authority for each of the panelists). While I’ve read a fair amount of the new Star Wars series, this made me want to go back and catch up on every bit of it. As Charles Soule said, the best thing about the re-start of the Star Wars canon is that it gives fans an opportunity to really catch up on the stories without having to spend years finding all the various bits of the extended universe.
Frank Miller Spotlight
My final panel of the day was one that I think many of the comics fans at DCC this year were really looking forward to. While I can’t claim to have been the biggest fan of everything that Frank Miller’s ever written, the fact remains that he’s an icon of the industry and without him, there’s a lot that just wouldn’t be there. From Daredevil to Batman to Sin City, Frank Miller has had a huge influence on comics today and it’s better for it. Miller talked a lot about how he started in comics in New York City (the only city at the time that you could be in if you wanted to write or draw comics) and how hard he had to work to convince Neil Adams to give him a shot. He talked about legends like Will Eisner, Steve Ditka and Jack Kirby and how they influenced the evolution of American comics. He also talked about his next project, Superman: Year One. It was funny that this panel came not long after the previous Superman panel as it was fun to hear Miller talk about how he saw Superman and his goals for an origin story like Year One. Best of all, it was really good to hear Miller’s comments about how comics can be used to reach and educate younger readers. Given that Miller’s comics have often been brutal, gritty and dark, I liked that he was so excited about the prospect of writing a Carrie Kelly story for young adults and how that might get them more interested in comics in general. This allowed the moderator to talk about Pop Culture Classroom’s dedication to the education of younger readers and how important this is. It was really wonderful to have Miller’s complete support of that, particularly given his popularity and standing in the industry. I came away from the panel with more respect for Miller personally and not just as a force within the world of comics.
The last two days have been an absolute treat for me. Denver Comic Con and Pop Culture Classroom continue to impress with the selection of guests and panels that they offer year after year. It’s great to see the con extend their literary reach and offer such a wide slate of panels on everything. I continue to be impressed and thankful that I get to take part in it all! Denver Comic Con is absolutely a must-see experience and I have yet to come away disappointed. Can’t wait til next year!