Comic-Con is all about the new and surprising, but I’ve come to look forward to some things that I especially enjoy every year. One is The Black Panel, and this year was one of the best, with Comic-Con’s best panel moderator (they should call him an “immoderator”), Michael Davis. “showcases those who are doing notable work in film, TV, comics, music, etc. The secondary focus (just as, if not more important) is to reach out to as many young creators of color (and all young creators who strive for a way in) and give them access to those who have made a contribution. It’s been mentioned above but bears repeating, Black culture IS young culture.” Wayne Brady, Orlando Jones, John Jennings, David Walker, Tatiana El-Khouri, and others talked about their pet projects and their reactions to and interactions with the mainstream media. One theme that came through even more strongly than usual this year — do not wait for anyone to give you permission (or money). Tell your story and create your art.
I always enjoy catching up with character actor Irwin Keyes, who has appeared in everything from “The Jeffersons” (six episodes) to films by the Coen Brothers and Rob Zombie. This year, he demonstrated his “horror laugh” and posed for a picture with me.
It is always a blast to hear about upcoming films, especially in the smaller press conferences rather than the cavernous Hall H. Sandra Bullock and director Alfonso Cuarón told us about “Gravity,” a stunning new film about two astronauts who are cut loose in space when their space station explodes. Bryan Cranston Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olson, and director Gareth Edwards talked about the challenges of green screen acting and balancing the spectacle and the story in their remake of “Godzilla.” And Jeff Bridges read a passage from The Gulag Archipelago to tell us what inspired him to join the cast of a sword and sorcery epic called “Seventh Son.”
“If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”
We also heard about the prequel to “300,” “Rise of an Empire,” with a script co-written the original’s director, Zach Snyder. Noam Murro took over directing duties, bringing back Rodrigo Santoro and adding newcomers Eva Green and Sullivan Stapleton. This one will keep “the DNA” of the original but will focus on naval battles. Green told us she was relieved not to be playing “the love interest or a boring girlfriend” in her first full-on action role.
And I always love catching up with my friends Brianna and Brittany Winner. They are 18 now, terrifically imaginative writers with many exciting projects. They ran a writing workshop that was tremendously inspiring and very informative. And just plain fun.