Featured image above: Panelists at Emerald City Comicon discuss new developments at Vertigo (Image by Samantha Hautea)
Ever want to create an unforgettable character? Maybe a cyborg heroine who happens to be an insane, shy and cat-loving bounty hunter? On Friday, audience members at a fascinating Emerald City Comicon (ECCC) panel did just that. After all that interactivity, it was time to sit back and enjoy teasers from the fabled Fables team at Vertigo and hear about the new talent in their editorial team.
Let’s Make a Character!
How can you create a great character that your audience can really connect to? This was the question that Comfort and Adam sought to answer in this fun, highly interactive panel, during which they created a completely new character based on audience suggestions.
Before diving into the audience participation segment, the panel focused on various elements that make a great character, and how design plays a vital part in communicating a character’s main attributes and his or her role in the story. Rather than focusing on specific character qualities, they emphasized the effective use of design to convey large amounts of information to the viewer at a glance, citing several examples from Western media and anime as examples of how design can be used to play with audience perception and create visual unity.
Comfort and Adam also stressed the importance of simplicity and utility in costume design in comics: Although something might look cool the first time you draw it, having to draw complicated shapes again and again across different panels may interfere with the attention paid to the rest of the story, so a complicated design had better have a good reason to be there. The Flash’s original design was mentioned as one of the best in comics for its dynamic shape and sense of constant motion, attributes that emphasized the speedster’s fleet-footed powers and personality.
After the discussion, Comfort challenged the audience to provide qualities that would then be incorporated into a new character created on the spot. Described as an insane, shy and cat-loving bounty hunter, the cyborg heroine that emerged was unique and never-before-seen. To keep the character creation going, Comfort prompted the audience to contribute by asking questions designed to provoke thought and spontaneous suggestions: What kind of world does she live in? Who are her primary antagonists? What does she do for a job? The guided character creation felt simple and intuitive, and it’s easy to imagine engaging in this activity on one’s own.
Vertigo: New Blood
Moderated by Bill Willingham, the award-winning author of the long-running Vertigo series Fables, the panel was a first look at some upcoming Vertigo projects. The panel was named New Blood not only for the new titles beginning this year, but also for Vertigo’s new editorial team. Many of the creators were on the panel to offer their input. Some of the titles featured:
- Fables. Willingham teased the panel audience with previews of art for the final 150th issue and with the promise of it being a truly epic conclusion to the popular series. He added that they were going to try and stay away from an ending where everyone dies, but joked that as long as one character survives, they will have kept that promise. One of the most interesting questions from the Q & A was whether Willingham regretted killing off a particular character, and if so, which character was it? After some thought, Willingham responded that he regretted killing off Sher Khan — not because it was a bad decision, but because he realized there were story lines he could have pursued or expanded upon if the character had been alive.
- Effigy by Tim Seeley and Marley Zarcone, a new title that focuses on the story of a former child star turned police officer, who is tasked with investigating murders in her own hometown that are eerily reminiscent of her TV show days. Seeley said that the driving inspiration for the comic’s story was the phenomenon of celebrity godhood, or treating famous people as objects of worship or reverence, and the comic contains a tongue-in-cheek reference to the cult-like treatment of celebrities in comic conventions today.
- Clean Room by Gail Simone and Johnathan Davies-Hunt is a surreal, psychological horror that explores how a cult leader uses influence and technology to perform her miracles — but what is the truth, really, and can perceptions really be trusted?
Other titles featured during the panel were Wolf Moon (Cullen Bunn & Jeremy Haun), Astro City (Kurt Busiek, Jesus Merino, and Alex Ross), an upcoming Mad Max art book, The Sandman: Overture, Strange Sports Stories and The Wolf Among Us, a comic based on the Telltale game featuring Fables characters.