“We have to realize that something important has happened,” one of the presenters said at Comic-Con. “We won. All around us in movies, television and books there are vampires, zombies, superheroes, magic, and aliens.” He was exaggerating, of course, but he was also right. Comic-Con describes itself as honoring “the popular arts.” There were banks of booths with comic books, of course, and movies, games, and television about zombies, vampires, superheroes, magic, and aliens, but Comic-Con attendees lines up for hours to see shows like “Glee” and “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” The upcoming series about 1960’s Pan Am flight attendants (or, as they were called then, stewardesses) had a booth and a bunch of very pretty young ladies in Pam Am uniforms giving out flight bags. As Washington Post “Celebritology” blogger Jen Chaney noted, the television shows were more buzz-worthy than the movies this year. They had longer lines and more enthusiastic crowds. What you don’t see at Comic-Con is anything about real housewives or cupcakes or bachelors with rose ceremonies. Comic-Con attendees love strong stories filled with imagination, excitement, and wit. And of course they like dressing up!
I heard about some upcoming projects still in the very early stages that sound like they could fill the legendary 6000-seat Hall H at future Comic-Cons. The ones I am most excited about are:
The movie adaptation of Boilerplate: History’s Mechanical Marvel. Last year, this amazing book was my favorite Comic-Con discovery, and since then it has been announced that J.J. Abrams will be directing a film based on this amazing story of an early 20th century robot, expected in 2013.
“Paranorman.” I was thrilled to get a sneak peek at the next movie from the brilliant stop-motion folks at LAIKA, the people behind “Coraline.” I spoke with writer-director Chris Butler about this story of a boy who can communicate with zombies. I was enthralled with the concept drawings and molded figures and sets they showed us (but sadly not allowed to take any photos to share with you) and delighted to hear that Jon Brion will be providing the soundtrack. Voice talent includes Kodi Smit-McPhee (“Let Me In”), Broadway star Elaine Stritch, John Goodman, Anna Kendrick (“Up in the Air”), and Christopher Mintz-Plasse (“Superbad”).
And three young authors whose books are being made into movies talked to a small group of reporters.
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern is the story of two rival illusionists in an enchanted Victorian-era circus.
Divergent by Veronica Roth, is the first in a Hunger Games-style trilogy about a dystopic future where civilization is divided into five factions. The sixteen-year-old heroine has to undergo a brutal initiation when she leaves her family to join a rival group. Roth told us the idea came from a vision she imagined of “a step into nothingness.” She wrote the book instead of doing her homework in an MA program at Northwestern.
Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion is the story of a zombie with a soul — and the memories of the teenage boy whose brains he consumed. He ends up pursuing the boy’s girlfriend — romantically, not carnivorously. The talented Jonathan Levine (“The Wackness”) is directing the film, starring Nicholas Hoult (“About a Boy,” “A Single Man”). He was thrilled to be invited to have dinner to “talk shop” with Stephanie Meyer, whose blurb is on the top of the book cover. When asked about the appeal of zombies he said, “They’re cool and we like to see things get eaten.”