LA Times Festival of Books Goes BOOM!

At last weekend's Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, BOOM! Studios had several of its writers on hand to talk about their books and perspectives on the medium of comics. Moderated by Geoff Boucher of Hero Complex, BOOM's panel consisted of Mark Waid, Chip Mosher, Gary Phillips, Kim Krizan, and Michael Alan Nelson.

Boucher introduced each of the panel members, starting with Mark Waid, who joined BOOM! Studios almost two years ago as Editor-In-Chief. A veteran of comics for over twenty years, Waid told the audience that he was most excited about "Irredeemable," his new series which debuted three weeks ago.

Next up was Gary Phillips, a novelist residing in Los Angeles. Although he wrote novels prior to "High Rollers" for BOOM! Studios, Phillips originally wanted to draw comics. Eventually he found that writing was his strong suit.

Oscar-nominated screenwriter Kim Krizan found writing the "2061" series published in BOOM! Studios' "Zombie Tales" to be a substantial change of pace, but discovered that moving between genres is easier in comics than in film. With "2061," she was able to address animal rights and the environment without the "development hell" a creator may suffer in the film industry. Krizan also noted in writing comics that the principle of "show, don't tell" is crucial.

Michael Alan Nelson remarked that although the Lovecraft's mythos is a "huge sandbox to play in," he was cognizant of fans' feelings about the Lovecraft characters. This led him to create new characters for the "Fall of Cthulhu" books, and keep the iconic Lovecraft characters on the periphery.

A secret collector of comics in the '80s, Chip Mosher started working with BOOM! Studios founders Ross Richie and Andy Cosby two years ago when he wrote the spy-thriller "Left On Mission." Mosher's marketing concepts for the book inspired Richie & Cosby to make Mosher their Director of Sales & Marketing.

After a brief summary of BOOM! Studios' history, the topic turned to the nature of writing for comics. Waid pointed out that although he had met several screenwriters who could have sold comics based on their name value, their stories were not visual in nature, nor did they marry words and pictures in the way that comics require.

At this point, Boucher turned the conversation to the recent wave of crime comics. Philips noted that crime stories are usually from the point of view of the criminal and a reflection of the world we live in. He also expects to see a turn to stories about white-collared crime, inspired by the world's current economic crisis.

The panel opened for questions, and a fan asked about future Disney titles. Mosher responded that in addition to "The Incredibles" ongoing series, BOOM! Studios will release "Muppet Robin Hood," "The Muppet Show: The Treasure of Peg-Leg Wilson," "Cars," "Toy Story" and "Monsters, Inc." Waid noted that writing "The Incredibles" has been "the joy of a lifetime" and the next arc features Jack-Jack getting an alien cold which results in a city-wide outbreak of super powers.

When asked what can be done to get more kids into reading comics, Waid responded that it's a matter of accessibility, getting comics into newsstands, drugstores, and convenience stores. Mosher also noted that making the material available digitally contributes to overall accessibility. He added that BOOM! Studios has a half-dozen graphic novels available for free online, has released comics on the iPhone, and was the first to release a comic book for the Google Android device.

The conversation returned to writing for comics, and Krizan, who also teaches at UCLA Extension Writers' Program, noted that a fresh perspective is the key to writing an interesting story. Nelson remarked that he cut fifty percent of his first comic script due to the need for brevity. In addition, his original scripts had panel descriptions that were impossible to actually illustrate, and he would have to adjust them accordingly. Mosher also noted the need to write with visual hooks in order to grab the reader's attention.

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