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Comic-Con 2013: And the geeks shall inherit the Earth?

Comic-Con 2013: It's not just for nerds anymore. Comic book films have become summer blockbuster staples, and even stars like Samuel L. Jackson, Sandra Bullock, and Tom Cruise are showing up at Comic-Con.

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"I feel like every culture has a different version of itself sort of writ large," Whedon said. "In Japan and different Asian cultures, people are floating in trees and doing kung fu and here we dress up in tights and fight crime. These stories have been here in some cases closing in on 100 years, and in some cases around 60. They not only inspired a bunch of children, those children grew up, and it's just become part of our mythos, a genuine mythos, a real sort of evolving mythology. It's something people can see and key into instantly. They know where they stand. They know what's good, what's bad, where the pain is, how they identify with it. That kind of shorthand is where iconography comes from."

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For those of a certain age, this may take some time to get used to. That's what guitarist Kirk Hammett of Metallica pointed out after taking in the scene at the San Diego Convention Center, where tens of thousands gathered to hear the latest news on their favorite franchises, check out what's moving in from the fringe and to participate in the almost always wacky fun.

Hammett expected to find the usual array of outsider personalities he hung out with in his pre-rock god days as he promoted the film "Metallica Through the Never." He found something very different.

"Nowadays, there's cool people here, there's hip people here, there's all these big displays and all this production," Hammett said. "And there's women here. And it's confusing for me because I'm looking around going, 'Where are all the dorks? Where are all the nerds?' And I feel disenfranchised again. We've been infiltrated!"

The way these characters and stories are told is getting far more complex as well. Comics are no longer full of silly one-dimensional characters. The stories can be epic and moving, and offer a more satisfying creative outlet than the world of "serious" art.

Comic books are not just words on paper, Gaiman points out. It's a multi-discipline art form, and one that makes him aspire to more than the printed word has to offer as he works with an artist to create something never seen before. The British author is perhaps best known for his creation "Sandman," a series that helped elevate the art form like Alan Moore's "The Watchmen" or Frank Miller's "Sin City." He'll make his long-awaited return to that world this fall when DC Comics imprint Vertigo publishes "The Sandman Overture."

"You do your best to write the most fantastic script you can for the most amazing artist," Gaiman said. "You want to write a script that not only tells the artist what to draw but also in some ways if you can inspire the artist. You want to get their best work out of them and you want them to be excited and inspired and thrilled and go, 'Oh, my God, I get to draw that! Nobody else in the world has ever drawn that but I get to draw this and people are going to be amazed!'"

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