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Archive for May, 2011

The Funniest Thing to Ever Happen to Me

Posted by Matt on May 28, 2011

I was once framed for a crime.

Let us go back in time…metaphorically. That technology has not been invented yet, silly. The epoch is high school, first or second year (I can’t remember which one it was exactly, but it’s in that general area). First half of high school wasn’t much fun for me; now, I know that’s the norm, but it was difficult for me for a few specific reasons. The main being that I was separated from my best friend of however many years, him being sent to one of the other high schools. Which isn’t to say I was in completely unknown territory; I knew many of the people there, and a few I would even consider close associates. Even so, having to go to school every day without being able to hang out with your regular crew is rough. Throw in the other smarmy assholes you’ll probably find, and it only gets worse. I got better, though.

That really doesn’t have much of a obvious link to the actual story. Maybe it does for the more conspiracy-minded among us, but I find little reason to put that much thought into the events that will be described below. But it’s there for additional context, which can never be a bad thing, right?

Now, for the actual plot. It was a regular school day. I can tell it was a regular school day because I can’t remember anything else of note happening. I’m pretty sure it was during the lunch break. At that point, I was eating my bag lunch on th bench outside the library, where I could quickly finish and then grab one of the rapidly vanishing library computer spots so I could read X-Entertainment or whatever it was I did on the Internet back then. I got called on the intercom to the principal’s office, which was not that far away from the library. Of course, I had no idea why. Was I scared? Confused? Angry at my Internet session being interrupted? Can’t say.

So I get there, and my dad is sitting there. Now, the principal of my high school was a good guy. He even worked at the same university newspaper I’ve spent the last five years bankrupting. Anyway, now I was really confused. So I sat, and we talked. What was going on?

Here’s what was going on: the principal asked me if I had been drawing things on the cafeteria tables. Specifically, if I had been drawing dicks on the cafeteria tables. I barely ever went into the cafeteria, and I certainly had no desire to draw dicks on tables. So I politely said no, and that was that. I feel bad for my dad having to waste his time coming down to the school for this, but it happens.

Now, what would give them the idea that I was drawing dicks on the tables? Apparently, my name was scribbled near the offending ink phalluses. That, even more than the fact that I was accused of drawing dicks by itself, is the funniest part of the story. Someone tried to frame me for this. Someone not only tried to frame me, but also tried to frame me in the most moronic fashion possible.

Who would try to get me in trouble? I don’t know, but it was obviously someone who wasn’t too bright. I really hope they didn’t go on to commit further crimes using the same sly methods. I can’t imagine it would go over too well for them if they signed “Hi, John McMichael Did This!” in blood at a murder scene.

That’s it. That’s the story.

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Posted by Matt on May 25, 2011

You know the only reason I complain so much is because I’m not confident with my ability to write interesting things about the stuff I love. I love plenty of things, you know. It’s just, you know, what can I say about them that would be at all interesting? I have plenty of theory about the things that have been able to engage me in my head, but that doesn’t necessary mean (a) I can translate those ideas into a non-awkward essay, and (b) those theories are all that interesting.

I read The Filth recently, and I could talk about what a great, disturbing piece of fleshy dystopia it is. How Morrison can design all this horrible imagery (all brought brilliantly to vomitous life by Chris Weston), create a protagonist so pathetic, and tie it all into such a bleak world, yet still allow some semblance of hope to remain, because that guy just loves his fucking cat so much. But who wants to hear that from boring ol’ me? there’s much more interesting takes on it out there. I’m just the guy in the back going “Hey, cool!”.

I bought Nathan Rabin’s My Year of Flops a month or so back, partially because I knew it would be the kind of light thing I could read on the plane heading for Toronto. You know what? Rabin is pretty much what all of us nerds who like to write about entertainment in a jokey manner, speak in Simpsons, and hope that mockery will bring out our inner genius want to be. In the early days of the decade, when we could finally figure out this Internet thing, we then began to fill it with our spew about pop culture detritus. Oh, we are so clever, we thought, and we hyperbole’d and pointed out every piece of illogic in whatever wounded animal of a movie/cartoon/food product we could find. This is what attracted us to the ‘My Year of Flops’ column in the first place; we simply wanted to read Rabin viciously disembowel Howard the Duck or Waterworld or what have you, just like we did. Except he has a genuine love of film and all the trappings of the industry, so that no matter how absolutely abysmal some of these movies are, there’s a genuine interest in figuring out how they tick, and exactly why they were rejected. That is what separates the real minds from the simple hecklers. That is why I keep reading the column.

But who wants to hear that from me? I’m just an idiot on the Internet.

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Posted by Matt on May 22, 2011

Summer Plans, 2007:

1) Prepare for incoming adult education
2) Work for money for incoming adult education
3) Raise hell in AMERICA (okay, North Dakota)
4) Go to the Super Smash Bros. Brawl website EVERY WEEKDAY
5) Hang out

Summer Plans, 2008

1) Figure out what I want from year 2 of adult education
2) Work for money, thinking it’s for continuing adult education, but really ends up being used on slurpees and bubble gum because year 2 of adult education ends up being pretty much free anyway (thank you, sliding scholarship standards)
3) Try to get into to university newspaper as an actual editor this time.
4) Marvel at how unbroken my laptop is after a whole fucking month in the shop. Proceed to crack the hinges again.
5) Hang out, make nachos

Summer Plans, 2009

1) Contemplate the final year of adult education, what the future holds
2) Work for money for final year of adult education and BEYOND, move up in the exciting world of grocery retail, feel like a boss
3) Marvel at new laptop, quickly fuck it up to the same levels as previous one
4) Get bored with life, seek a time out of town, new furniture
5) Hang out at my friend’s new crib, want one of my own

Summer Plans, 2010

1) Actually decide where I want to go next, decide that regression is the best solution
2) Find real work, find it, but end up going back to the job I had left anyway
3) Get own place, adult responsibilities, etc.
4) Devote free time to video game forum lurking
5) Hang out for escapism purposes

Summer Plans, 2011

1) Get out of bed every once in a while, maybe

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Posted by Matt on May 22, 2011

…and while I’m complaining about television, I got another issue.

Despite being heavily based in genre fiction, in books, comics, games, and movies, I have a hard time getting into most genre television. Most of it is because of the length issues I talked about the other day (and although many are not so heavily plot-based, most series since X-Files have story arcs). There’s something else, though, something that I think is far more ingrained in today’s genre TV conventions.

I have never watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer for an extended period of time. I may have seen a few episodes here and there; in fact, the only season I have any real exposure to is the first one, which contained episodes about giant praying mantises and hyena people that I’m sure most fans are wont to forget (the only other episode I can remember watching? One that featured John Ritter as an evil robot. As far as I’m concerned, this is what Buffy is, a show about giant praying mantises and evil John Ritterbots). I do know many people who have seen all of it, and love it, and evangelize it. This audience kept a cult show on for seven seasons and a spin-off, and it has acquired a bit more cultural cache because of that. It has, really, become an influential force on the world of genre fiction. That’s where my problem begins.

Now, I’m not going to dismiss Buffy or its fans; I have no reason to, as I have not been presented with anything that says the show was particularly bad. But I have become quite aware of the show’s, and Joss Whedon’s, storytelling tics from exposure to fans and critics online. Since that awareness came, I have begun to see them everywhere. The show may not have been a cultural force, but it was a nerd cultural force, and so the nerds with a creative drive start getting their work out there, it’s influence spreads like a plague.

But what is this influence that haunts me? I think it boils down to the following recurring qualities:

1) General cheapness, with little or no desire to make up for it visually
2) Snarky dialog coming from all characters
3) A strong sense of ironic detachment

The first is more or less out of the creator’s hands; TV budgets are notoriously minuscule. Which is generally no excuse for lame direction, which is an epidemic among genre TV. Budget or no, bad action is bad action, and it’s not like its impossible to make something LOOK good on a small budget.

The second and the third are tied together, and this is what really gets me. It’s a nerd thing; they want to like the things they like, but they can’t look like they take that shit too seriously (even when they do), because well…it’s silly stuff. I know it’s odd to think of nerds having any sense of social awareness, but it’s there, every once in a while. What it does is when these types get a hold of entertainment, however, is make a contradiction.

Now, having an ironic, or less-than-deadly-serious take on genre conventions is not in itself a terrible thing. It can be done right, and has. The problem is that…everybody’s doing it now. You can’t have wizards or vampires or aliens in anything without at least one character who thinks the whole thing is a joke. But then the story plays it mostly straight otherwise, so any sort of commentary or comedic value is removed. It’s having your cake and etc., is what it is. These writers really do love stories with vampires and wizards and stuff like that, but they know that most people think that shit is stupid. So, they make this show that basically says “Here’s a monster, but just between you and me, this is really pretty dumb! Keep watching anyway” It feels a bit dishonest to me.

I think a lot of this comes from comics culture. I’m sure most of the people who write genre television was, at one point, a Marvel or DC reader. By the mid-90s, all the kids and teenage comic readers had vacated superheroes, leaving the long-time readers to hold the fort. Being adults, they knew that if other people found out they still loved stories about men in gaudy costumes punching each other, they would be ostracized…moreso. So they started that ironic detachment, mocking most of what had built the superhero comics up until that point: the silly adventure stuff, the world domination plots, the super pets. Then these same guys went on to be the writers of the comics, and they brought that sensibility to the books themselves. Superhero comics have yet to recover from that incursion of irony, and even the movies have yet to really capture the kind of grand cosmic weirdness that they were capable of 25 years ago (both Thor and Green Lantern seem to be getting closer, though).

In fact, it really seems that in the last decade, all the mainstream comics have essentially become genre television in ink form. All above features I listed above are there, in addition to things like a focus on ongoing story arcs, and even the contradictory desire to be both shocking (usually via character deaths) while maintaining the status quo (because change makes people feel scared). As I mentioned, some of this stuff originated in comics and comic readers, so it’s all full circle. It’s worth mentioning that many comics writers in the mainstream today either moonlight as television writers, or seem to desperately want to be (I don’t remember where exactly I read this, but I remember someone saying that Brian Michael Bendis, for example, seems to want to write crime or espionage thrillers, but life dealt him superheroes instead). So there really is no mystery to why all this is going on.

I just don’t really like it. It’s not the type of writing I can really enjoy very often. It gets tiring. You just want them to commit to an idea; either be a full-on comedy making fun of genre tropes, or just write a story using those tropes (hopefully in a creative way). The closest thing to it on my regular viewing plate is Doctor Who, which while not completely serious, is still pretty devoted to its sci-fi ideas, which I find enjoyable more often than not. The funny thing is, the original run of the show is one of the things that I think a lot of genre writers aspire to, but are forced to distance themselves from because of its (perceived or real) cheesiness. The new show embraces its past, but has still taken in what has changed within the world of genre TV within the past two decades, so it ends up avoiding the major shortfalls of both eras. It’s a nice balance, one that I hope to see more of.

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Posted by Matt on May 20, 2011

First thing: I have started a Tumblr site. It is mainly a place for me to post things (videos, pictures, links, etc.) that catch my attention at that moment. I need to post those because the Internet has so destroyed my attention span that I will forget whatever it was I was doing five minutes ago. This way, like my notebook collection and my dream log, I will never forget anything that happens to me, ever. Plus, I made the decision, one I have rarely broken!, that I don’t really want this to be a linkblog. I will reserve wordpress for longer things that are slightly less ill-thought-out, but still ill-thought-out.


Enough of that, let’s get to business.

Remember Lost? It was a television show that was on a while back, and I think some people watched it. I never did, and something tells me I never will.

Why is that? Well, there is a lack of interest in the central concept, but good execution or a slightly more interesting take on the idea could still lure me in. But really, the main reason I will likely never watch Lost is this: it would take over 100 hours of my life to finish that one story. It would have to be the best fucking story ever to make me put in that level of commitment. It would probably have been easier when the show was originally being run, but I can barely get myself to watch half-hour shows that don’t follow a regular storyline every week. I am no longer a television viewer, I think.

But thinking about Lost again, after it left the cultural discussion (rather quickly, I might add, which is rather odd considering the force it was), as well as the serial television rage it inspired, alongside 24, I realized something: network television is awful for serialized storytelling, It goes back to what I was saying before: you have to devote so much time in order to follow it. It was alright when it was something like the X-Files, with “mythos” stories mixed in with standalone episodes, but once you start playing with a single devoted narrative? Then things start to become shaky.

This is primarily because of the large episode orders networks put out for shows. 20+ episodes a season is a lot of television, especially at the 40 minutes standard to network dramas. You would need a very expansive overall plot to make that work, with every little character moment or subplot or whatever mean something. Understandably, that would be difficult. So it should be expected that anyone who wants their big overarching story told in this way is going to end up farting around for a couple of episodes a season. The standard television season is pretty bloated, which is why it generally favours shows without overarching stories, and why it took so long for one to become successful.

The other problem, one that I remember being brought up while Lost was still on, was that if something is successful enough to actually be able to complete its story, it is also successful enough for the network to want to expand it beyond it’s original length in order to guarantee maximum profit on it (mostly via syndication, which doesn’t really work well for serial stories, but that won’t stop them). So a story that is already combating the bloat of long network seasons can also face additional bloat, and in these situations, you would need to be a pretty powerful Hollywood player to get the people airing your show to let you make it the way you want. There are ways to overcome something like this…for example, ending a storyline and then starting a new one. But would eliminate part of the appeal of these shows, wouldn’t it?

This is why I think cable channel schedules are far better for a serialized story. The average season on HBO or any other specialty channel is 13 episodes; this is a perfectly good number to work with. Plenty of time to move the plot forward, plenty of time to do character work, and barely any time for excess. You think you’re story is too ‘epic’ for 13 episodes? Fuck you. Limitations will probably help you make your story better. It makes you consider what’s important, what you need to make the whole thing work. Making your little epic leaner won’t hurt it…probably.

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Posted by Matt on May 19, 2011

You know what kind of bothers me about storytelling in games? When done ‘right’, it robs many of the characters of agency. That, to me, makes the whole thing less interesting.

Maybe I’m alone here, but when I read or watch something, a narrative, I kind of want it to be about people who aren’t me. I like to see creators create a glimpse of people who will experience different things than me, or who experience the same things as me, but react in a different way. It’s a sort of educational or mind-expanding exchange going on there. A testament to the breadth of humanity. You don’t even need to like the characters – if you can understand them, they can still be interesting.

Gaming is an interactive medium, obviously. The point of it is that YOU are in control of the action. One of the most frustrating things about games as a storytelling medium is that most developers seem to forget that that fact, and so the story is basically a side-element, a thing that gets in the way of the interactive stuff. Cut scenes are the main offenders here – they are an outdated method of storytelling in games, and are akin to someone coming into the room and forcing you to pause the game and watch a DVD of scenes that might as be completely unrelated to what you were doing before. Games like Bioshock and pretty much everything by Valve have shown us how to do it right, so hopefully everyone will catch on sooner or later.

(As a sidenote: I’m not against all cut scenes in games. As annoying as they can be, if they’re at least skippable, I don’t really care. It doesn’t bode well if you’re telling a story, but for the games that really aren’t trying to tell a story, it’s acceptable. Same thing goes for text reading in games.)

But therein lies the rub: once the story in the game becomes completely interactive, I find it less interesting. Bioshock and Portal make up for a lack of real character with atmosphere, and great dialog. But the fact remains that once the protagonist loses the ability to make decisions on their own, they cease to be a character in the story and simply become…you. The argument can be made that putting yourself in a different situation and making you think about how you would act under those circumstances. But you know what? I don’t care what I’d do. What do I learn from that? Besides, it’s not really me making those decisions – it’s me with a bunch of additional factors that will likely decide your actions just as much as you will.

I don’t really know where I want games to go, then. I know they should embrace the interactivity, which is the one unique thing they have. On the other hand, to fully implement that interactivity, they have to remove one of the most important part of storytelling. Can someone strike a balance? I don’t know. I hope someone can, because I’d really hate to not be part of a new wave of good stories. But right now…my issue remains.

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Posted by Matt on May 18, 2011

Some time ago, Cameron Stewart mentioned on his Twitter feed that he would like to see a show like Marc Maron’s WTF podcast for comics creators. You know, something that goes a little deeper, engaging them on a more personal level, whether talking about their work or their lives, rather than simply go on about the comics culture or what have you. I would agree that this is a good idea. A very good idea, in fact. I love hearing or reading that kind of stuff – the real why of what they do. Not just that, I like to hear about their interests, too, and small talk, and anecdotes. It’s really just great to have real, solid evidence that the names I see on the covers of my books are people. This is why I listen to Maron’s show, as depressing as it can be (seriously, the recent episode with Dave Foley is a downer).

I will always welcome more interesting, thought-out takes on any subject, really. It really helps a medium evolve, and mature, when someone is out there willing to actually discuss it on some kind of an intellectual level. One of things I think is holding back video game discussion, art or not, is that there isn’t really much of an ‘alternative’ sector that is willing to tackle games on anything other than a simple consumer level. There are a few, for sure (on a related note, I discovered the Extra Credits video series on The Escapist, and it is exactly what I’m talking about here. Check it out, gang); unfortunately, due to the short period of time in which games have existed, and the more ‘democratic’ world of information sharing that it lucked into, serious game discussion (and when I say ‘serious discussion’, I don’t mean dry, psuedo-intellectual, philosophical wankfests, but just any sort of thought about what the games are and our relationship to them) is going to have some difficulty becoming as much a viable channel as its equivalents in other arts circles (like movies and music) or non-arts circles (professional sports. Yes, professional sports can be discussed in a non-idiotic fashion). The seeds have been planted, though, so it is really only a matter of time before these channels are more common/gain some legitimacy.

To be fair, it isn’t just games. Comics have a good critical establishment among seasoned professionals and fans, with varied and interesting reporting coming from publications like the Comics Journal, or from individuals like Tim O’Neil, Sean Witzke, David Brothers, and so many more. However, I think comics criticism has trouble becoming a natural component of the form, rather than a tiny, antagonistic niche within another niche. There will always be some level of antagonism between the critical establishment and the peanut-munching crowd; but movie, music, and literary critics, even if they are often treated with disdain, are still not outcasts whose sole purpose is to tell the rest of the people how stupid they are. The issue might be that critics of the other mediums deal mainly with the apathetic, while the comics critics have to deal with the much more frustrating obsessive fanboy set. There are not many casual comics readers, or at least not many that don’t simply occupy another micro-niche (manga, webcomics, indies, etc.) that rarely interacts with the others. So who do the comics critics talk to? Either themselves, or the people who will buy every X-Men branded pamphlet that month. It’s a battle of extremes, a symptom of how small the comics crowd is right now, and that is a limiting agent for comics discussion. Good work is still being done, however, so it’s not that tragic a situation.

So how did we get from interesting interviews to the state of criticism? Well…I don’t really know. In my mind, at least, both those candid interviews Stewart suggested and Maron embodies and the critical culture in various mediums are related. They are both about digging into works, or the people behind them, to find points of interest. For people like me, it’s those points of interest, no matter how deep or trivial they may be, are what keeps us hooked on these things. I like learning things about these things; I like seeing them interpreted in different ways. Whether it’s from the talents themselves or other readers, I just think all culture deserves a little prodding, and I will always be in favour of whatever provides that analysis.

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Posted by Matt on May 16, 2011

-Late to the game, what with the TCAFness and all, but yes I know I was wrong about this. Well, at least the part where I wasn’t expecting a new Nintendo console. Well, it’s happening. Cool. I guess we’ll have something to look forward to at E3 this year. And with playable demos? A year before the thing is supposed to come out? Interesting.

-Look on that bar-type thing. You know, the one on the side. It has a ton of new links, because I just keep adding things to my Google Reader, and I want you to do it too!

-I remind you that this still exists, and is my pride and joy. Go.

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Posted by Matt on May 11, 2011

This weekend was spent at the Toronto Comics Art Festival with my friend Ben. Much fun and merriment was had by all. Here’s a play by play for the interested:

-I had never been to Toronto before, so it was a double exciting time for me! Actually, I had never been on a plane before, either, so make that triple. I can say that my opinion of both are now favorable.
Toronto seems like a good place. I especially liked how the different forms of public transportation, which we utilized over the course of the three or four days constantly, are linked, so you don’t need to pay extra to go from subway to street car to bus. And most of the routes are pretty easy to figure out, a bonus for stupid tourists like me. Even so, I can say that the constant looking for stops and riding and pass buying wore me out sometimes. My own personal preference seems to be for places where I can walk pretty much anywhere I need to go. That kind of keeps me in nowheresville, doesn’t it?

-For food, we went to different restaurants every day for all three meals, and each one was pretty good! Saturday began with Patrician Grill, where I got a good full breakfast with the biggest pieces of bacon I’ve ever seen (they were slightly burnt, but I guess you win some you lose some). The Blarney Stone, a pub that was located quite close to the Reference Library and The Pilot (where two of the panels were attended were held), had some huge-ass burgers. Saturday night was spent at C’est What, another pub with a delightful collection of taps and great Dijon chicken.
On Sunday, we started with Morning Glory, which was tiny, but had a goat milk and blue cheese-based omelet that Ben said was so good, we came back the next day (and got something completely different). In the afternoon, we went across the street from the library to a place called Mama’s Pizza, which must be a Toronto-based chain, because we saw it everywhere. It was one of those pizza places where they have huge-ass slices…and they were good huge-ass slices, too. Ben had a calzone that could plug a hole in the ozone. Big is good, yes. Finally, we went to another pub called Betty’s, which is one of those places made for large drunken gatherings, complete with colourful crap all over the walls and pictures of nude women in the bathroom. The burger Ben got was super thick (whereas the Blarney Stone’s burgers were wide), and they put a fried egg on it, just to make sure the thing was 125% awesome.

-But what’s all this talk about food? There were comics to be had! Yes, TCAF was swollen with comics and comic creators, some of whom I actually knew! But of course, getting to see the people I knew is only about 57% of the fun; it’s cool to discover new things, as well. It’s great seeing the huge variety of works out there by independent folks, all of whom were out hawking their wares and being super-friendly to mouth-breathing scum like me (although the crowds here were pretty good, the kind I can identify with over the more, let’s say, fanatic folks I have been led to believe would attend the more general nerd conventions). And as congested as the thing got, it never felt really chaotic. Kudos to the staff for keeping everything smooth for those two days.

-I didn’t spend that much money there, which was surprising. For the most part, buying stuff never felt like a high priority for me when I actually got there. I was too busy just taking in the overall comics atmosphere. Plus, I’m kind of a wuss, and didn’t want to approach the artists out of fear of looking like an idiot to people I respect. Oh well. The only purchases/things I had signed were an exclusive CD of gibberish put together by Adventure Time creator Pendleton Ward (he also drew me a picture) and a copy of Godland: Celestial Edition Two, which I had been meaning to pick up at some point anyway, but now have a copy signed by Tom Scioli, who was nice enough to make sure I got a high-quality copy of the book.
When it came to getting things signed, that breathless act of fanboyism, I think I had more fun following my friend while he attempted to fill his sketchbook with doodles & signatures from 30 or so of his favourite artists we knew were in attendance. He got a surprisingly large amount, by the end. As previously mentioned, they were all good folks, which after the first few, gave us a much-needed confidence boost to pursue the rest. Among the notables were James Stokoe of Orc Stain, who went completely to town on the sketch (and he draws with his left hand, which is insane), Chester Brown, who didn’t think his drawing of Louis Riel looked very much like Louis Riel, and Scott C. of Double Fine Action Comics, who even let us take a picture of him! Of course, everyone there we talked to were super, and completely open for some silly inconsequential chitchat and “I like your stuff! It’s so neat!”. I think that openness and the love of the craft that permeated the place is what makes it such a joy.

-We went to 4 panels, all of which were entertaining. The first had Kate Beaton, Joe Lambert, John Martz, Dylan Meconis, and Dustin Harbin talking about the ways they approach the creative legwork of their job, talking about the difference between working in different formats or on several fun ideas versus one big life project, and also constantly talking about pooping.
The second panel we visited was the Adventure Time panel, attended by a few of the show’s current staff, including Michael DeForge, Bob Flynn, Andy Ristaino, Steve Wolfhard, and, of course, Pen Ward, who showed up 15 minutes after the panel started (he was working on that CD I mentioned earlier). It was interesting to note that all the staffers present were comic artists, and were pushing their own stuff alongside their Adventure Time items at their tables. The panel itself was really cool – each panelist went over how they all joined the show, giving us a little insight into the how that weird animation industry works. We got to see a cut of a theater short they produced recently that will apparently see distribution sometime in the future (it didn’t have sound, so Pen provided all the voices and sounds himself). The questions from the audience were pretty good, too, and we got some interesting answers, like Ward’s assertion that someone pitching ideas is better off coming up with a lot and then developing them after being picked up rather than setting one’s self up for a fall by spending all your time polishing a single idea that can be swiftly crushed by executives. We also got to hear him swear profusely as Lumpy Space Princess, which is apparently what he needs to do to get the voice right. We also got to hear him drop some video game know-how by referencing A Boy and His Blob and the Barney game on the Sega Genesis (it was in answering a question about what they would do if they had complete creative control over an Adventure Time game. Pen revealed that his current goal is to get the chance to design a game, and that his ideal AT game would have “Katamari graphics with Monster Hunter gameplay”, which sounds about right). I think the other guys said some stuff, too.
The third panel we visited was more of a game the audience got to view. Essentially, Kate Beaton, KC Green, Chris Hastings, Aaron Diaz, and two members of the audience were split into two teams, where one would see a card projected onto a screen that the others couldn’t see, and then draw the manner of death described on the card in such a way as to allow his or her teammates to guess it. Ryan North was the official judge. Hilarity ensued. Beaton and Hasting’s team was given most of the really hard-to-convey scenarios in the first two rounds, but made a surprising comeback in the last round because the audience member on their team decided to skip the cleverness and just draw straightforward representations. Strategic!
The final panel, the last one at The Pilot on Sunday, also had Beaton, alongside Jess Fink, Jason Little, Jeffrey Lewis, and R. Sikoryak. Essentially, they read their comics aloud, with some performance mixed in. Each one was a great presenter, and they all had very distinct styles. I have no idea where Jess Fink’s little toy guitar came from – someone in the audience just handed it to her. A minion? I don’t know.

So, as you can see, there was a lot of stuff to see, and I barely saw most of it. Please refer to this, this, and this for the big picture. One of them even manages to capture a glimpse of us in the wild. Of course, only the few of you who know what Ben and I look like will be able to identify us in that photo. Consider it a perk.

Also, linking to lots of stuff makes me take quite a bit longer to finish a blog post than normal.

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