Comics Arts Conference/Comic-Con 2009, part 2
How good an actor is Johnny Depp? I ask because many people have noted that the best way for Depp to walk around on the floor at Comic-Con would be to do so as Jack Sparrow. But is he a good enough actor that he could fool people into not seeing him but seeing a person dressed as him?
But back to my con report, although in this case con stands for conference because I didn’t go to any con panels this year. The only one that I made last year was the Always Sunny in Phildelphia panel. I wanted to ask a questio about the resemblence between Sunny and Seinfeld (3 men and a woman, none of whom you’d like to have as friends), but the line was too long and someone else asked the question anyway. Last year I didn’t even get to see any Comics Arts Conference panels because I seemed to have errands to run or people to talk to or problems to solve, so I only saw my own panel, “Playing the Hero.” So this year I just luxuriated in watching the panels and only missed a few.
The main panel of the conference for me, besides my own panel debuting the Institute for Comics Studies, was the “Is the Joker a Psychopath?” panel. It was the platonic idea of a CAC panel because it brought scholars and professionals together to talk about comics (or comics-related material) with the public. Dr. Robin Rosenberg, a clinical psychologist, laid out the definition and characteristics of a psychopath and showed clips of the Joker from movies and TV that illustrated the characteristic, and the fit was amazing, as if the writers had the definition of a psychopath in front of them when they wrote the Batman TV show, or various Joker comics, etc.
It was amazing hearing Jerry Robinson detail the creation of the Joker in this context. And then to have Michael Uslan talk about Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger, and Adam West riffing on Cesar Romero.
Uslan geeked out at the end and said to Adam West, “Holy Shit, Batman!”
We also had Steve Englehart on the panel to talk about the Bronze Age “Joker Fish” story. Well, sort of. Englehart couldn’t make it in person, so we had him via cellphone.
This picture is actually in a new CAC tradition. Danny Fingeroth is shown in a similar photo taken at the Institute for Comics Studies panel, which is posted on Michael Dooley’s Facebook page, but I’m reproducing it here.
And all of these go back to a photo of me from Wonder Con posted by Seth Rosenblatt under the title, “The Invisible Man and Comic Book Science.” I love the fact that there’s a picture of me on the web that’s actually Kate McClancy (co-chair of the CAC) holding a cell phone, so everytime we have a remote speaker, we’re getting a photo of them on the Web. Maybe we’ll create a new genre.
During the panel Travis Langley (he’s in the picture of Englehart above) mentioned that Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger both had trouble sleeping while playing the Joker, but Cesar Romero prepared to perform as the Clown Prince of Crime by taking a nap. Adam West then did his imitation of Romero napping, and when Kevin Murphy (an actual clown and comics writer) asked if Harley Quinn was good for the Joker West replied, “I don’t think Cesar had a girlfriend!” This set me up to close the panel with a killer story. A friend of mine from grad school, Christine Catanzarite told me that her sister, an actress, had lunch with Cesar Romero and asked him how to get ahead in Hollywood. He replied, “Sweetie, sleep with everybody. I did!” And the audiene roared with laughter.
Besides that panel, the debut of the Institute for Comics Studies was the other highlight for me. My board showed up–Henry Jenkins (USC), Stanford Carpenter (School of the Art Institute of Chicago), CAC co-chair Randy Duncan (Henderson State University), Angela Ndalnias (University of Melbourne), Mimi Cruze (Night Flight Comics), Tim Stroup (Cold Cut Distribution) via cell phone, Danny Fingeroth (Write Now!) via cell phone, and Lionel English (Grand Comics Database). Mike Richardson (Dark Horse Comics) wanted to be there and was on his way, but got stuck on the other side of the tracks and didn’t make it. So now it’s official and ICS exists in the public.
That’s all for now, I gotta go to bed. But check out the updated ICS website: http://www.instituteforcomicsstudies.org and watch for updates on Twitter.