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Buddy-L returns with a follow-up WONDERCON report!!! STAR TREK movie talk! Lotsa comic news, including a GROO movie?!?

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with the prequel to Buddy-L's previous WonderCon report. He's got a lotta geeky stuff to go over, so let's get to it! Trek, Groo, tons of Comic book news... enjoy!!!

Hey, AICN. So this is my report from the FIRST day of San Francisco's annual WonderCon (hope you enjoyed the Day 2 report). I'm sorry I won't be able to attend Day 3, what with the family in town and all (damn people with my similar genetic makeup, don't then know I've got more important things). I didn't go to the NYCC so I don't know how much I say is repeat of what you already know. Last year was the first year in which this convention was owned and run by the fellas to do the San Diego ComicCon. They had JJ Abrams, Kevin Smith, Frank Miller, Bryan Singer, Brandon Routh, and lots of other big names. This year is comprably "low key", but no less interesting for a comic fan. They're still having problems with putting people before they open, but once we got in just after 12-noon, it was cool. It's in the Moscone South building (larger than last year's Moscone West). Free swag galore! Got some free passes to Sunday's screenings of DISTURBIA and HOT FUZZ (there's also a giveaway to see the film with Wright & Pegg, all ya gotta do is see three film they're screening! How easy is that!). Got posters, buttons, etc. from 300, THE HILLS HAVE EYES 2, TMNT, TRANSFORMERS, THE LAST MIMZY (which gave away the most popular swag item: a light up yo-yo), DC, Marvel, Dark Horse, Image, the whole she-bang. The Oni Press booth had Brian Posehn there doing autographs, as well as a seperate poster for an upcoming book based on STEPHEN COLBERT'S TAK JANSEN--the poster was cool in the way it tried look like a serious sci-fi poster, but kept in the comedy of Colbert's trademark grin. This may be just me, but I REALLY dug this little bookmark I got from the Image table advertising Mike Allred's MADMAN now being part of the Image line-up. Got a butt-load of my comix signed by Paul Ryan & Angel Medina. Mark Texeira never showed up for his autograph table, so I couldn't get his. Ran into local boy-turned-national Keith Knight, who was back in SF for the first time since moving to LA. Went by the autograph tables and saw Peter Mayhew, Noel Neill, Jon Provost (Timmy from LASSIE), Chase Masterson, Barbara Luna (who doesn't look bad at all), Sara Karloff, Richard Hatch, former WWF wrestler Virgil, and Richard Hatch. (Day 2 saw the appearance of Ernie Hudson, Ray "Darth Maul" Park, Cassandra "Elvira" Peterson, and AOTC actors Daniel "Young Boba" Logan & Bonnie "Young Beru" Piesse) Went to the Sergio Aragones/Mark Evanier panel where they alternated between some great stories and fielding questions. Mark is making two books about his late friend, Jack Kirby (it was meant to be just one, but the more he learns, the more he writes). He shared a chapter where Kirby--newly employed at Marvel--is chastised by his new bosses for his work being "too DC-like." He said how the books have gotten so big that he's quickly running out of gig space on his harddrive--the first one, planned for an X-mas release is an art book of Kirby material with accompanying text, "is already at 30,000 words." (He told a story about being sold one of the first word processors on the market, but--being a big tech guy--was so knowledgeable about the machine that he wound explaining more about it to the salesman than vice versa.) Aragones and Evanier are producing a CGI movie about their character GROO for a major studio. Over the years, they'd received several offers to do so (they say Favreau tried at one point, and a serious pitch was made years ago by Michael McKean with the intention of Chris Farley in the title role). At one point, Evanier was practically "stalked" by a producer (who wouldn't name but said was "very well known") who would take NO for an answer. They two stressed that they wouldn't give up the film rights until they got a deal that would give them creative control. The offers coming out of Hollywood were "poor and overly-aggressive." Sergio: "They wanted Will Ferrell. I HATE Will Ferrell !" (Yes, those were his actual words) As of now, the two creators are producers on the film and have finished the script for "a major studio". They said it would be fully CG-animated and that Rob Minkoff (THE LION KING, STUAR LITTLE 1 & 2, HAUNTED MANSION) is officially directing. The went on tell how they have an almost telepathic collaboration, to the point where they finish one anothers sentences. The two showed photos (including some showing Sergio as quite an accomplished cook), including some of awards they've received, Serigio's dog who inspired that of Groo (Sergio's lived to be 24 years old!), a Groo statue that sold for $175 and had a certificate of auth. with it--the two joked "[the distributours] were so worried people would copy the statue, but they could just Xerox a copy of the certificate?" They told a story about how, when GROO was done for Marvel, he presented a finished page that had a panel of Groo mooning someone. The higher-ups rejected it on the basis that it was "sexual" and would never get past the CCA. Evanier argued "It's Groo's rear-end, you've got female X-men running around wearing dental floss!" He called Sergio over to his house where the artist drew up a poster of Groo sans pants covered by a "Censored" bar, with the intention of starting a "Save Groo's Ass" campaign. But Marvel went ahead with the unaltered page anyway, which kind of irked Sergio, as he wanted to really show off the poster. They also mentioned how they wanted to do a GROO MEETS CONAN one-shot for Dark Horse, but the project fell apart. However, they still want to do it. (More about that below from the Dark Horse panel) Sergio mentioned how he was supposed to design an award statue for an award to be presented to the great Jack Davis. His design was of an artist sitting on an inkwell. But--to his surprise--the awards folks changed it to a statue of Sergio's face and was actually named "The Sergio". Evanier: "He's gotten so many awards over the years that they had to finally make one for him!" They told a story about how they were once in a retaurant and Sergio said he'd never do conventions again because the stuff he signs "just winds up on eBay". Somehow through this rage, he came up with idea of a Black undertaker who played the banjo--hence his cult character BOOGIEMAN. When the title was just in the concept stages, Evanier got an e-mail from a fan who seemed to already know the name. Evanier asked the fan not to let the name out; the fan responded that it was already on the Dark Horse website. To his surprise, Evanier found out that Dark Horse knew about the character. The company had already set a deadline for the following week, so the two had to make it in four days. Although a fan asked if there would be more from the series, they sad it wasn't likely and that they're surprised that it wasn't as popular as their other work. When asked how Sergio got involved with MAD magazine and the WEEKLY WORLD NEWS, he said that he got with MAD in 1962, not knowing how long it would last, but since that year he has had his work in every single issue except one, "which wasn't my fault. The postman lost it." As for the WEEKLY (for which he draws a single page "find the 10 hidden items" illustration), he says he got a quick offer for just one week that has turned two years and that he's hoping to collect them all into a book soon. Evanier was asked if he'd like to write a bio about his friend, Aragones. He said yes, but Sergio was hesitant: "A lot of people have to die before I can tell the truth about some things." My next stop was the DC Comics panel, hosted by Dan Didio with writer/artist Judd Winick, Co-ordinating Editor (the lovely) Jann Jones, Senior Editor Matt Idelson, and Sales VP Bob Wayne. I walked in a little late and the room was packed. [SOME DC SPOILERS AHEAD, FOLKS] As I came in, Winick was being questioned about the future of GREEN ARROW. He said that the title was coming to an end. The ending would be "Oliver Queen on bended asking Black Canary 'Will you marry me?'" This will lead directly into Canary having her own mini series and several other characters commenting on the relationship in their own titles. There will also be an examination of Ollie's early years with the upcoming GREEN ARROW: YEAR ONE. The company is prepping the WORLD WAR 3 event "which basically be Black Adam versus Everybody." Didio also stressed that the much, much, MUCH-delayed ALL STAR issues are one their way: "[BATMAN] issues 5 and 6 are done writing, Jim [Lee] is almost done drawing 6. [SUPERMAN] issues are also on their way. We're doing our best to get all of our ALL STAR titles back on track." Didio was asked if, given he has so many different titles with several different storylines, "will there ever be a 'definitive' Superman continuity?" He answered that the character has been around for more than 70 years, so while the strive for the stories to make sense, they don't want to "box themselves in" creatively. On a similar Supes note, there's been talk for some time that the character of Chloe from SMALLVILLE would be introduced into the official DCU continuity. Winick said that it was supposed to happen a while ago, but would definitely happen next year. There is also an upcoming (delayed) issue of ACTION COMICS that will be entirely in 3-D. The panel was then asked--don't ask me why--which is worse: Fast-moving zombies or Vampires with Machine Guns. The audience seemed to favour the zombies (as they can attack in daylight), but Didio argued that the vamps are worse. This debate actually got quite heated for a moment. Oy vey. Alan Burnett (BATMAN: TAS) was in the audience and Didio said he'd be writing an upcoming BATMAN/SUPERMAN story featuring "the appearance of a rare member of the New Gods who's almost never used." With the appearances of Red Arrow & Starman, they were asked if the events of KINGDOM COME were becoming "real"? Didio denied this. He also confirmed that artist Alex Ross will be taking a long hiatus after his work on JUSTICE. You can also expect some upcoming anthology book of Denny O'Neill's (sp?) run on THE QUESTION, some Jerry Ordway work on SUPERMAN and some WildStorm books, and Bill Morrisson new book this August: CAPT. CARROT who battles the evil Ra's al Pickle. I myself suggested an ALL STAR KRYPTO THE SUPER-DOG AND BEPPO THE SUPER-MONKEY, but only Jann Jones seemed to warm to the idea. Oh well. As I was on my way to the Dark Horse comics panel, I ran into EC comics artist Al Feldstein, who had just finished his panel. I had to shake his hand and tell him what I fan I was. He said that he was glad to still be around and be recognised at the age of 80 and how much he loved things like this. Al Feldstein: Living legend and Very cool guy. This made me a few minutes late to the Dark Horse panel, recognising the company's 20th anniversary. It was done with editor Shawna Gore, publicist Jeremy Atkins, Brian K. Vaughn. As I came in they were detailing some upcoming titles, including BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, written by creator Joss Whedon, which will "pick up right where the show left off; this will be the 8th season of the show." Whedon is also cooking up some new Dark Horse adventure for the crew from FIREFLY/SERENITY. Matt Wagner will be celebrating the 25th anniversary of his title GRENDEL with reprints of the old-school originals, an "Art of GRENDEL" books, and brand new GRENDEL stories by Wagner himself. Also returning is Eric Powell with new material for (one of my favourite titles) THE GOON, including a Goon story entitled "Satan's Sodomy Baby". Atkins: "Eric decided that after all his sucess, it was time to offend anyone whoever like THE GOON. The story if very disturbing and not for the faint of heart. It's also really awesome." He went on to say that there will be an origin tale about how Goon got all his facial scars and I bi-monthly title. Another familiar face will be that of Mike Mignola as he kicks two new books centred around Abe Sapien and Lobster Johnson. Other licenced franchises will include more STAR WARS and CONAN material. In regards to the latter, there will actually be quite a few new books based on Robert E. Howard's works, including KULL and PIGEONS FROM HELL (which, according to Atkins: "Stephen King once called it 'The Best Horror Story Every Written'." I asked about the GROO MEETS CONAN project and they said that it's still on the table and they want to do it. They're also putting a lot of strength into their horror comics with Gerard of My Chemical Romance (who Atkins says wanted to do comics before going into music) putting out a book called UMBRELLA ACADEMY. Plus Rex Mundy will be doing a title called ZERO KILLER, taking place in an alternate reality where NY was nuked in the 70s and is now underwater. Ron Marz will also do a new as-yet-unnamed book and this September they'll be re-formatting their book based on EMILY THE STRANGE. Rick Remeder's FEAR AGENT, no longer at Image, will show up via Dark Horse later this year. They then fielded a lot of questions about breaking into the industry and their open submission policy--they get so many that they can't possible answer all of them timely. They have a programme called "New Recruits" which gives an unknown the chance to have their story made into a comic. But they stressed that they outwardly reject any submission for a licence, like SW or SERENITY. But they advised that if one really loves comics and is serious about making it, they will This panel went long so I walked right into the middle of the Trek Lives panel by GEEK MONTHLY. It had Jeff Bond who wrote that book about Trek music, Anthony Pascale of, Robert Meyer Burnett of FREE ENTERPRISE, Daren Dochterman who does the VFX on the re-mastered episode of TOS. As is typical of a Trekkie congregation, there was a LOT of arguing, people cutting other people off before they could talk, and debates about which incarnation is "better" that often come close to blows. As I came in Daren was taking questions about the controversial decision to remaster the TOS episodes. He held his own, talking about a new Klingon ship he'd designed for "Trouble w/ Tribbles" but what was really cool was that he brought footage of the new version of one of my favourite episodes, "Doomsday Machine". Say what you will about the "purity" of remastering the episodes, but this look fantastic. The new Enterprise, Dekker's damaged ship, the Doomday itself, its energy beam--if you love this episode as much as I do, you'll really love this new version (incidentally, when I got home after Day 2, they aired the new version of another one of my faves, "Space Seed"). Pascale talked about upcoming Trek comics by Dan Taylor that will begin around April with a TNG 6-issue mini, a TOS series in July which will stand as the unofficial "fourth year of the show", and an "Alien Spotlight" series that will focus on a different species each issue (the already-completed Klingon issue will be published in both English and Klingon). The talks then went to the subject on everyone's mind: JJ Abrams (copies of his new yellow/blue Trek poster were available on at the TV Guide booth, alongside TRANSFORMERS poster with Autobot or Decepticon emblem). Pascale mentioned that he can't find any truth to the rumour that the film will be simply titled "Star Trek", but the reation to the title (particularly considering how Chris Nolan titles the Batman films) has been positive. He mentioned things most of us know: Abrams is making the story of the young Kirk & Spock, he loves TOS & TNG but wants to tell an original story, how he's had the idea for years, and how the studio was eager to get rid of Berman & his crew. Jeff Bond noted how, in light of the last few flicks and the reactions to VOYAGER & ENTERPRISE, the "Trek" name cannot automatically be considered the big selling point anymore. "Only Kirk and Spock are familiar to non-Trekkies, maybe some members of TNG." Pascale agreed, saying "Paramount wasn't thinking about Trek. They wouldn't have done another Trek at all if not for someone hot like JJ Abrams to make it happen." Pascale said how the writer of Spielberg's BAND OF BROTHERS series had written "a great script" to follow NEMESIS, but was ousted with Berman & Co. He also said that the idea of just making new films straight-to-DVD wasn't likely or viable. When the panel was asked what the new film needed to be sucessful, they stressed that they need to try and "[not] alienate old fans, but don't be afraid to go for new ones... We classic Trek-fans, we're getting old. We're not gonna be around too long... Look to [films like] CASINO ROYALE as an example." Daren said the new film need "optimism and fun. The TNG films got too full of themselves. I want to see these characters enjoy themselves!" Bond applauded the fact that "Abrams has an adult sensibility. He makes serious stories from ridiculous premises." Pascale agreed, adding "He'll do what he did with MI-3; make it realer and scarier." When asked who was officially involved with the film, Pascale said "Go to the IMDb, look at the crew list for MI-3 and just put STAR TREK at the top. He went on to say that the film does NOT (primarily) focus on Kirk & Spock at Starfleet Academy, but will more likely be about their first mission. He also said that the character of Pike will likely appear (Sean Kenney, who played the infamous "burned Pike" in TOS, was also in the Autograph Alley). He also said that there's neither confirmation or denial about the infamous Matt Damon rumour, but Jeff Bond said "I've been hearing it for so long, I can't think of anyone else in the role." He also said he'd like to see someone like Gary Sinise as Dr. McCoy. Pascale was asked if this "re-boot" would respect the known canon or not. He and the other panelists agreed that the "official" canon is full of holes when one sees all the episodes. He said that Abrams has "never seen DS9, NEMESIS, or ENTERPRISE." Pascale was asked why when people talk about Trek, they often leave out DS9? He answered by noting that the DS9 writers have gone to do better work in than industry than the writers of VOYAGER or ENTERPRISE. He said that VOYAGER's premise was better than DS9, but the latter had better execution. One of the panelists (I was taking notes so I didn't get to see who) said that he'd loved TNG but avoided DS9 originally, only to discover in on DVD and found he enjoyed it (I, too, re-discovered the show through re-runs and was surprised at how good it was--still haven't seen a single VOYAGER). They ended by giving away free DVD copies of FREE ENTERPRISE to people who correctly answered the trivia questions. I know my Trek knowledge is limited so I didn't even try to answer, but if anyone cares, the questions were: 1--"Who was the director of photography for the first and second seasons of TOS ?" 2--"Who were the three original producers of the show?" 3--"What was the alphanumeric name for the second system destroyed in 'Doomsday Machine'?" 4--"What was the name of Dekker's shuttle?" 5--"What was the Doomsday's energy beam composed of?" 6--"What was it's hull composed of?" After leaving this panel, I took my free pass and went to the Metreon to see the free advanced screening of 300 (IMAX), hosted by Zack Snyder and producers Mark Canton, John Meneri, & Jeff Silver. Zack introduced the film saying "This flick has blood, violence, sex--the only thing it doesn't have is bad language, so I'll do: FUCKING FUCK!!!!" [Huge applause] He said it was Snyder himself didn't say this, but the guy who introduced him said that "this screening is the world premiere of the IMAX version of the film." I don't know if that's true because I'd heard the IMAX version also screened in NY and LA. Plus I thought the print was darker than need be, and after the film was done, I actually saw producers Silver and Mineri dressing down one of cinema employees about this very thing (I felt sorry for the guy, being punked-out like that in public). Nevertheless, the flick went off like gangbusters with this crowd. And so ended my first day at WonderCon, and this ends my last report for WonderCon '07. Sorry I couldn't be there for the last day, but I had a blast. Hope you guys all enjoyed the reports. Can't wait to do it again next year. Later. Buddy-L

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