The Hard Rock casino in Las Vegas was home to the inaugural MorrisonCon on September 29-30, 2012. Going in, I had no idea what to expect from this show. I knew that 10 of the biggest names were special guests, including Grant Morrison, frequent collaborators Frank Quitely, Darick Robertson, and Chris Burnham, along with comic superstars Robert Kirkman, Jim Lee, Jason Aaron, Jonathan Hickman, and Gerard Way. Also invited were Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn, Chronicle writer Max Landis, and musical guests Jimmy Urine and Akira the Don.
The energy of the crowd was palpable the minute I set foot in the main room. James Sime, the founder of Isotope Comics, stirred up the crowd with frenetic energy, setting up an introduction to Grant Morrison, who immediately proceeded to introduce Chris Burnham and Frank Quitely, and went straight into talking about upcoming artwork with their respective projects. It was fascinating to see the thought processes of the artists, and how they each interpreted Grant’s scripts and how it translated on to a page. Shortly after, Darick Robertson also joined the trio, and gave his take on working with Grant.
The next panel involved Jonathan Hickman (Fantastic Four), JH Williams (Batwoman), Jason Aaron (Wolverine and the X-Men, Avengers vs. X-Men), Robert Kirkman (Walking Dead, Invincible), and Grant Morrison talking about the comic book writing process. From talking about approach to plotting out storylines, to being aware of page turns for reader shock value, to working with different artists and how they might interact with different story tellers, it was a fantastic panel to gain insight from 5 of the biggest writers in comics today.
And since you can’t have comics without art, the following panel featured Chris Burnham, Frank Quitely, JH Williams III, Darick Robertson, and Jim Lee. The artists talked about influences, how they go about laying out pages, to new artists in comics that they personally enjoy. And of course, you can’t have an artist panel without art. Each artist chose a random guest’s sketchbook to draw in, and it was awesome to see them sketch away.
After an hour lunch break, the show continued with a musical based panel, featuring Akira the Don, Gerard Way, Darick Robertson, Grant Morrison, JH Williams III, and Jimmy Urine. It was awesome to see the panelists talk about how music was so intertwined in to their comics, from Gerard Way talking about listening to Tarantula by the Smashing Pumpkins while scripting an entire issue of Umbrella Academy, to the first concerts they’ve all attended, to an improptu performance of I Wanna Hold Your Hand by Darick, Grant and Akira which brought the crowd to their feet.
The last panel of the show for me was the movie panel, featuring Max Landis, James Gunn, Darick Robertson, and Grant Morrison. Although the panel did get sidetracked at times, it was awesome to see James Gunn and Max Landis debating whether Chronicle was a superhero film and what defines a super hero, as well as Landis arguing with Darick Robertson on what he felt was a huge flaw of The Boys.
On top of these amazing panels, there was also creator signings, where you actually had a reserved spot for a specific writer or artist, and you actually got to talk with them for more than the 10 seconds you’re usually alotted at usual cons. That to me was one THE highlight of the show, and I felt it was completely awesome that the artists and writers would embrace the idea, and enjoyed interacting with fans in a more intimate setting.
This show was definitely a one of a kind experience, and I believe is something all comic fans should definitely try attending once in their lifetime. If you ever wanted an comics show that was purely comics based, this is it. With rumors that this show could come back in the future, I’d definitely keep my eye out when tickets go on sale.
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