Pros On The Comics Side Of Storytelling Across Media Hosted By CCI

by Gary Catig

Through their museum, Comic Con International: San Diego (CCI) has opportunities to hold events in the world of pop culture year-round outside of their two popular shows, San Diego Comic Con and WonderCon. Though not projected to be open for a few years, the site of the Comic-Con Museum has hosted a number of affairs including this past weekend’s symposium, Storytelling Across Media (SAM). Many professionals in various fields like TV, music, video games and comics held talks and workshops about telling stories within their respective medium.

It was very fitting to bring in an industry heavyweight like Jim Lee to give the first ever presentation at SAM. The artist spoke about page design for comics and how panel arrangements and scene perspectives can greatly influence the narrative. He took three different approaches to tell the same story of a single page and each layout seemed to emphasize a certain scene. At the end, he did a quick drawing of Wonder Woman while he took questions from the audience. Though he livestreams a lot of his illustrations, it was still cool to watch him work in real time in person. A raffle was even held with a few lucky fans walking away with the art that he just drew.

There was a specific panel on storytelling in comics. Barbara Randall Kessel, Chris Ryall, Scott Tipton and Whilce Portacio took the stage along with moderator Jessica Tseang. The talent assembled possessed a lot of knowledge and experience in a variety of roles like editor, writer, artist and founder. It was an engaging discussion with many interesting personal anecdotes. One aspect everyone agreed on was the importance of true collaboration and communication between the creative team. Something as simple as a writer asking what an artist likes to draw and incorporating that can lead to significant improvement in the story. Though they do admit in today’s industry, it can be difficult to foster and maintain good chemistry between a team since many only work together for an arc or two.

Finally, sisters Shawna and Julie Benson had a spotlight panel about how they broke into TV and comics. While they were still beginning their careers, they formed writer’s groups with colleagues to exchange and read each other’s scripts. The group provided positive support, constructive criticisms and networking opportunities. To learn about the entertainment business, Julie worked her way up as an assistant and was open to lateral movements to other departments to gain more insight in other areas. It also helped early on that the sisters wrote as a team since they could have a higher output and divide and conquer their projects. However now that they are established, it’s less beneficial because they have to share the salary.
Overall, it was a great day of talks, not only in comics. CCI always has quality programming but at times during their conventions, panels such as these can become lost amongst the Hollywood blockbusters, top rated TV shows and big-time publishers. It was nice at SAM that the focus could be on something important to all mediums such as storytelling.

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