When Comic-Con Became Comic-Cannes

This year Hollywood had its fingerprints all over San Diego’s annual celebration of nerd culture.

BY Alonso Duralde

July 30 2008 11:00 PM ET

COMIC-CON 2008 stan lee X395 (DENISE SUDELL PRISM COMICS) | ADVOCATE.COM   

Comics legend Stan Lee made a surprise appearance at the "LGBT Portrayals in Comics" panel.

The gay presence at Comic-Con was substantial this year as well, and not just in the four "official" queer panels, three sponsored by Prism Comics. It seemed almost retrograde to hear the (21st!) annual "Gays in Comics" panel, moderated by Andy Mangels, go on about LGBT representation in mainstream superhero books when movers and shakers like Ball, Chip Kidd (Watching the Watchmen, Bat-Manga), John Barrowman (Torchwood), José Villarubia (Conan), Marc Andreyko (Manhunter, Ferryman), Ariel Schrag (The L Word), Bryan Fuller (Pushing Daisies), and Phil Jimenez (Infinite Crisis) were so front-and-center all weekend long in non–gay-specific panels. That’s not even including the gay characters from The Sarah Silverman Program and Kevin Smith’s upcoming Zack and Miri Make a Porno that turned up on panels and in film clips.

Big announcements were made, of course: Comics legend Stan Lee made a surprise appearance at Prism's "LGBT Portrayals in Comics" panel to reveal that he had made a deal with Perry Moore to adapt the latter’s gay-superhero novel Hero. Even though these days, frankly, Lee produces way more announcements than finished products, the symbolic value of one of mainstream comics’ key players reaching out to queer characters and readers is a huge deal. At the "Gays in Comics" panel, Wendy Pini of Elfquest fame told Con attendees that she’s working queer characters into her next project, a graphic adaptation of Poe’s "Masque of the Red Death." For my own personal brand of geekery, I was excited to learn that this fall’s Mystery Science Theater 3000 20th anniversary boxed set will feature the DVD premieres of Werewolf, First Spaceship onVenus, Future War, and Laserblast as well as ancillary materials, including an MST3K reunion panel.

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