The first New Mexico Comic Expo has been off to a great start. Featuring a number of guests from all forms of entertainment, the event has something to provide for fans of comics, movies, and gaming. One of the most fun parts of any comic convention is the panels. The NM Expo is no different, boasting panels from Elijah Wood, Kevin Eastman, and Haley Atwell. The opening day featured an interesting panel with two comic book legends Chris Claremont and Roy Thomas.
There were two running themes in the panel. The first was the time it takes to be successful in the industry. Claremont constantly talked about how it takes times and a little luck. Never short on confidence, the former Uncanny X-Men writer spoke candidly of his past. He spoke of being a struggling actor while working at Marvel. He joked about how hard it was to make ends meet early in his career.
Thomas also spoke openly. One of the most interesting comments made by the former Marvel Editor in Chief was the seeming importance of getting big names to work on comic books. He specifically referred to Hollywood writers and directors though he did not mention any by name. Thomas said he thought it was fine to bring these people in and some of them had even done great work. However, he also thought this took some of the fun and simplicity away from the industry. Nowadays it seems more about hiring a big name than a good writer or artist, he noted.
The other theme was changes in the comics industry. This is not a big surprise since the two have been in the business for decades. The two related how they have many fond memories of the people they worked with at Marvel. They mentioned how great it was to work with people like John Byrne and Barry Smith. “Joy” was a term that was constantly used throughout the hour-long panel. Listening to the two, it was obvious they enjoyed their time at Marvel.
Claremont also spoke of advice he had received from the late Stan Lee. He would treat each issue as a one-shot. He knew ahead a time how long each issue would be and he joked about how Johnny Storm had to get ready for college on the last four pages. Claremont talked about how this is the problem with the major crossovers of today. They were too long and involved too many issues and that one mistake could throw the entire story off.
Many times, it seemed like these elder statesmen of the industry came off as disgruntled about the current state of things. When asked about Wolvie dying and then being brought back with claws that could heat up, this seemed to be the case. Claremont just shook his head while Thomas laughed. Thomas co-created Wolverine while Claremont is arguably responsible for making him one of the most famous characters in the history of comic books.
This was not the case of the creators being out of touch, however. The two made a very important point that summed up everything they had talked about. Whether it is radioactive spiders, a barbarian fighting in the jungle, or an alien crashing on a farm in Kansas, comic books are make believe. At the end of the day, it is all about having fun.