WonderCon 2019 – Comic Coverage ft. Boom! Studios, Manga for American Comics Fans, & Fashion vs. Function in Costuming
It’s Comic Crush Saturday and we are here with a special post covering several comic panels from WonderCon. I spent several hours in comic related panels and recapped three of them, focused on Boom! Studios (we read A LOT of Boom around here – almost everything in their lineup), manga for the American comic fan, and fashion vs. function in comic costumes. Check it out!
Boom Studios – #discoveryours
If ever you want to get a flavor for Boom! Studios, try attending an event by them. Upper leadership begins the day with a resounding GOOD MORNING. Their CEO is in the audience, laughing. The tone has been set.
Boom is made up of four imprints – KaBoom (all ages), Boom Box (YA), Archaia (YA/Adults), Boom (adult). Today’s panel is made up of writers across each of them – Lilah Sturges (The Magicians: Alice’s Story), Ryan Parrott (Power Rangers), Sina Grace (Ghosted in LA, Power Rangers), CB Lee (Ben 10), Delilah S Dawson (Sparrowhawk), and Greg Pak (Firefly, Mech Cadet Yu, and Ronin Island). Joining and moderating the panel are Filip Sablik (Pres of Pub and Marketing) and Arune Singh (VP of Marketing). The diversity is real.
For Lilah, discovering power and women discovering their identities is important to her as a trans woman. Exploring what it means to be a woman, to know yourself. To know who you truly are and be that for the world. She acknowledges there’s a lot that goes into that – for any woman and trans women. “Young women are struggling to find their identity and place in the world.” Enter The Magicians: Alice’s Story, an original graphic novel set in continuity. Alice’s Story retells the first book through Alice’s perspective. Rather than an adaptation of book 1 (“it’s a dry story of straight white men,” to quote Lilah), Lilah picked Alice’s story after questioning what the lifelong fantasy for girls is, as The Magicians is the story of what young men dream of. Alice’s Story reckons with what are girls taught to want and what that does to girls as they pursue what they are taught to want. Lilah wrote Alice’s voice to match her own.
Ryan writes Go-Go Power Rangers, the story of the Power Rangers being teens, and will soon take over The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers main line (joined by Sina Grace!). What resonates with the Power Rangers for him? “We all grew up on that. We have a weird half memory of the show. There’s something about the first group of teens who connected with MMPR. You’re trying to figure out who you are and your future responsibilities.” In the same vein, CB Lee focuses her stories on families of heroes, blending family and adventure in all forms. “You can have a great time fighting crime or hanging out. The greatest power of all is family.” The next Ben 10 graphic novel arrives in December.
As for original stories, Delilah Dawson launched Sparrowhawk, described as teen victorian fairy fight club, exploring exploring dual identities and true natures. Artemisia is inspired by Dido Elizabeth Belle, a girl born into slavery who was afforded some privileges by her father’s bloodline. Sina Grace will also debut Ghosted in LA, about a girl who moves to LA to follow her high school sweetheart and is soon dumped. She has no friends in a lonely city and soon lands in an apartment that is haunted (so rampant metaphors about being single in LA). Expect to see story in issue 1 that doesn’t pay off till issue 8.
ICYMI Boom launched a new Firefly series, who is the true story of the unification war and set between season 1 and Serenity. Turns out Greg hadn’t seen the show before being asked to write the series. Much like the rest of us Browncoats, he watched the pilot…and then everything else and is now fully in. The first collected volume is out in April.
Manga for American Comics/TV/Movie Fans
Who better to help American comics fans migrate to manga than talent from Boom! Studios and Comixology? Boom is known for their diverse stories that expand on American comics and Comixology has an expansive manga section available to readers alongside American comics (including many free titles!). Several free titles suggested at the start are Beck, Hit Reblog, and Seven Shakespeares, all free to consumers with Amazon Prime accounts.
A difference between American comics are manga is most manga retain the same artist and writer (and sometimes this is one person!) with assistants. You’ll see a thank you to the team and panelists agree – author notes are the best part. While American comics are monthly, manga is presently weekly, with a chapter every week. Each chapter is 17pgs, collected in huge weekly magazine. Color pages are very special (anniversary, special narrative point, first few pages of collected edition) rather than the norm. They’re also read right to left. Switching between the two can be a challenge!
Manga hooks people through the heart and emotion. There’s manga about wine tasting, bartending, cooking. There’s a manga about making manga. You learn to care about things you’d never care about. You get invested through the characters. Panelists shared their investment in sports manga even though they have no desire to watch sports in person.
What series would they recommend to anyone? Dragon Ball Z, Sailor Moon, Cowboy Bebop, Yu Yu Hakusho, and My Hero Academia.
What I added to my TBR after this panel: Fruits Basket, Yuri on Ice, I Hear the Sunspot, Love is Hard for Otaku, and Bakuman.
Fashion vs Function Panel
Brian Stelfreeze (Black Panther), Jen Bartel (Blackbird), Tula Lotay (All Star Batman), and Joelle Jones (Catwoman) (aka incredible comic artists) kick off the afternoon panels in a conversation around fashion vs function: costuming with Ashley Eckstein, creator of functional costumes with Her Universe.
Ashley opens the panel with a discussion of what makes a costume great. The panelists agree that there’s something about the way a person looks that tells you about them. “The costume should be a shortcut to their personality,” Brian shares. He uses squares, lines, angles, and curves to tell a story about a character. Jen prefers to make the costumes believable, since so much of comics is designed to suspend belief. “If a character is jumping off buildings, I’m not going to put her in 6” heels.” Joelle Jones uses the tone of the story – where and when – to inspire the fashion of the characters.
Ashley shared about voicing Ahsoka, who wore a tube top and short skirt while fighting as a Jedi. “We were just so grateful to have a female as a lead that we would take her in a tube top.” Brian followed up with considering your audience and using lines cross function and sexiness (male and female). Jen agreed and added that sexiness should match a character’s personality. “We need more diverse perspectives creating these costumes,” Tula shared. Chuckling, the panel discussed drawing details and how sometimes film costumes have more liberty because of the logistics of drawing intricate costumes page after page. The “hook” makes the difference, that one detail that says this is a specific character (such as the bat ears).
The agreed upon essential for costumes? Pockets.
As a side note, I attended Ashley’s Her Universe Avengers preview panel and got to see the creators of this year’s line! The line debuted Sunday and you better believe I bought a bunch of it!