Monday, July 27, 2009

Comic Con 2009 Report

Comic Con 2009 has come and gone and while we are sad as always to see it go, we're somewhat relieved to not have to walk 10 miles a day to see everything there is to see. (Next year, we swear, we're wearing a pedometer and/or roller skates)

"Why," you must be asking, "is an Opera blog commenting on Comic Con?" And you have a point; but like opera, comics are grossly misunderstood and stereotyped so we feel we might as well chime in. Besides, we can, so why not?

First, there was very little opera related I could find at Comic Con.

I was in line to ask ex-Python and uberdirector Terry Gilliam (Brazil, 12 Monkeys, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen) about his aborted operatic directing debut at La Scala with Andrea Chenier but we ran out of time. We did get to see some clips from his new movie however. Bonus points for having Tom Waits as The Devil.

Battlestar Galactica / Caprica composer Bear McCreary mentioned in the Battlestar Retrospective panel how he would love to do a concert at Vancouver Opera. We tweeted this up to our friends at Vancouver Opera who would love to see it happen. I later gave Bear my card to get them talking to one another. We'll see what comes out of it.

There was also a midnight showing /sing-along of REPO! The Genetic Opera. But we saw it last year, and you can find our impressions on it here.

And then there was a wonderful, inspirational, conversation with Ray Bradbury that I was lucky enough to have. Mr. Bradbury wrote the screenplay to the movie Moby-Dick, an opera we happen to be producing in 2012. I asked Mr. Bradbury if he would have any interest in writing some notes in our program on why people keep returning to this story. He passed on the offer to write for us but has Moby-Dick in his calendar now. He promises to live to 100 and wants to be buried on Mars. We were in awe of his fertile, incredibly sharp, mind. More in awe that thousands of people walked by us while we chatted and nobody seemed to notice him.

Comic Con is about books. And we here at Aria Serious love books almost as much as we love opera. Comic Con is one huge bookstore that goes on for miles and miles. Not so much a fan of Superman, Batman, Ironman or their ilk we tend to go for graphic novels and below are some of the gems we found.

Unable to find any comic books about opera (hello people) we had to settle for some plays by Shakespeare adapted in the Manga style. We bought a half dozen copies of Hamlet for my wife's classroom. Using Shakespeare's actual text we're hoping the visual ques can help some of the reluctant readers get through the sticker passages.

After eyeing some original drawing by Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimt (out of my price range) and eyeing the beautiful and grotesque clockwork taxidermy of an artist whose name I can no longer recall (also out of my price range), I came across the incredibly bizarre, wonderful and horrific graphic novel The Squirrel Machine about brothers who make instruments from animal carcasses. Set in a beautiful, haunting steampunk universe I bought the book based on the cover and was not prepared for the disturbing journey inside. This one is currently my personal "best of show" but I have a lot of books to read still.
[Edited to add: The artist is named Lisa Black and you can see some of her creations here.]

Another book worth mentioning is the delightfully nostalgic tale of a boy and his father called Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow? A tale of optimism in a time when the future seemed to hold all the answers, this book is set around the New York World Fair with artwork that is both a throwback to earlier styles while also using some cutting edge illustration techniques. (Bonus points for the elegant, beautiful, lady working the Abrams ComicArts table - she was stunning from the get go but the Superman tattoo on her wrist just melted us, temporary or not).

A big fan of Guy Delisle's non-fiction travel comic books, we picked up copies of his Shenzen and The Burma Chronicles. These are excellent looks at people and locales that I will never get to explore on my own.

A fan of Yoshihiro Tatsumi visual short stories I was delighted to find A Drifting Life, his 900 page comic autobiography that follows his life as a child through the Japanese reconstruction of post-World War II and his career as an artist. While his works are never easy to read they provide a look at a world incredibly foreign to me but in a such a simplistic style that they touch on the universal human experiences and seem almost familiar.

Honorable mentions go to Lillie Carre's "sound comic" The Lagoon, Put The Book Back on the Shelf an anthology of comics based on the songs of Belle & Sebastian and Black Hole by Charles Burns, his look at sexual awakening and the transition into adulthood in the Seattle suburbs in the late 1970's.

We also picked up the few remaining issues of Y: The Last Man we needed for our collection.

And oh, we got shake hands with Spock.

Comic Con 2010 is July 22 -25. We bought our passes already.


chicklet51087 said...

hey, how did you buy your ticket??? can you email me please??


San Diego Opera said...

chicklet, you could preorder for 2010 in the Sails Pavilion after picking up your badge. 4-day pass only, for $100. Online usually goes on sale in November IIRC.

lightning in a bottle said...

my friend had such a kick-ass time that it made me wish i had gone too! he was making me especially envious live-tweeting all the parties, meet ups with other comic con'ers and run in with celebs.

thanks for the run down on the weekend festivities.

and thanks for the connect with the BSG composer! exciting possibilities.

ling chan
vancouver opera