Comic-Con Gives Fans A Glimpse At Creative Process

Guest host David Greene takes a tour of the largest comic book convention, the giant Comic-Con in Los Angeles.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News.

CHRISTIAN BALE: (as Batman) I'm Batman.

GREENE: And I'm David Greene.

ADAM WEST: (as Bruce Wayne) Well said. To the bat cave. We haven't one moment to lose.

GREENE: You may be wondering why my co-host is the Caped Crusader. Well, it's because we're going to spend some time talking about comic book superheroes.

BALE: (as Bruce Wayne) Well, a guy who dresses up like a bat clearly has issues.

GREENE: You got that right, Bruce Wayne. And we're going to talk to someone about your issues in a few minutes. But first, a lot of people dressed like Batman got together this past week in San Diego, because it was the 43rd annual Comic-Con International Convention. And we thought we'd get a little taste of what goes on there. Like other conventions, there are panel sessions - though not the kind you're used to. At Comic-Con panels have names like Stunted Fools...

DANNY DEVITO: (as Penguin) No, my name is not Oswald. It's Penguin.

GREENE: ...Scary Clown...

JACK NICKLAUS: (as the Joker) Ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?

GREENE: Oh, and there was also the discussion called Foes Beyond Fur and Fangs...

WEST: (as Bruce Wayne) The criminal catalyst in this entire affair, our old archenemy Cat Woman.

GREENE: OK. Pipe down, Batman. One of the sessions at the convention was presented by DC Comics, home to Superman, Wonderman and, yes, the Bat guy.

JOHN CUNNINGHAM: Good morning, San Diego.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

GREENE: DC comics brought together the entire creative team behind the relaunched comic book "The Flash" - the editor, the writer, the penciler and the inker all were explaining what it takes to create a new comic.

BRIAN BUCCELLATO: In our writing process it starts as a lot of conversation. Obviously, when you're a writing team the thoughts are, you know, you got to share them. So rather than...

GREENE: That's Brian Buccellato, one of the comic book's writer/artists.

BUCCELLATO: We talk in macro first - what's the overall story, what's the journey, what's, you know, where does Barry need to go as a character from point A to point B? You know, let's say it's going to take five issues for him to get there. Then we start breaking it up - well these steps need to happen.

GREENE: You know, a comic book looks so simple, but both Brian and his creative partner Francis Manapul told us after the session that each issue involves three, maybe six months of work.

FRANCIS MANAPUL: Well, what's interesting about it is that being able to show the audience not just the amount of work but the, again, literally the process that we take, right? Because, you know, me and Brian were pretty unique in the way we approach our stories, right? And I think giving them a look at it, it's really exciting for the readers because a lot of them, you know, when they read our books, you know, a lot of them are pretty impressed how infused the visuals are with the words.

BUCCELLATO: And it's cool that, you know, we get to tell people or show people, you know, exactly how the process is and it is unique. And most creative teams are, you know, three, four people and we're only two people and we're friends. So, it has a single-vision feel to it that other comics don't.

GREENE: There is one thing that has held this creative partnership together.

MANAPUL: The most valuable part actually is Skype. He lives in Toronto.

BUCCELLATO: Yeah, I live in L.A., so we're separated by 3,000 miles. But it's, like, when I see him at cons, it's not like long lost friend because I see him, you know, on my screen every day. So, it's, like, bridged the gap in a way that we don't even feel like we're 3,000 miles away.

MANAPUL: It actually feels awkward. You're like do I give him a hug, or? I talk to him every day, right?

GREENE: Comic-Con wraps up later today. And then all those comic book fans can turn their attention to "The Dark Knight Rises." That's the new Batman movie that is opening this Friday.

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