THE ANATOMY OF A COMIC-CON PANEL

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HULK WAS SUPREMELY INTERESTED IN A PANEL ENTITLED “THE CHARACTER OF MUSIC.” ASIDE FROM THE FACT THAT IT WAS POPULATED BY A NUMBER OF VASTLY TALENTED COMPOSERS AND THEIR EQUALLY TALENTED CINEMATIC COLLABORATORS, IT SEEMED LIKE A RATHER PROMISING PLACE FOR AN IN DEPTH DISCUSSION ABOUT THE POWER OF MUSIC AND THE SUBTLETIES OF ITS ARTISTIC APPLICATION.

INSTEAD HULK GOT A COMIC-CON PANEL.

OKAY WOW THAT SOUNDS HARSH. THAT’S REALLY NOT HOW HULK MEANS IT. IN FACT, THAT STATEMENT IS NOT MEANT TO DERIDE THE PANEL AT ALL. THE TRUTH IS THE PANEL WAS RATHER FUNNY, GOOD-NATURED, FULL OF GREAT ANECDOTES, AND EVEN HAD A FEW AWWW-INDUCING MOMENTS. BUT IN HULK’S SHORT TIME HERE, HULK HAS BORN WITNESS TO THE FACT THAT A COMIC-CON PANEL DOESN’T NECESSARILY OPERATE LIKE… UM… PRETTY MUCH ALL THE OTHER PANELS THAT HULK HAS BEEN TO DURING PRETTY MUCH EVERY OTHER TIME IN HULK’S LIFE.

THEY ARE BASICALLY SEMI-CONTROLLED CHAOS.

FOR STARTERS THE PANELS ALWAYS SEEM TO BE RUNNING LATE (UNDERSTANDABLE TO BE HONEST GIVEN THE MASSIVE, CLAUSTROPHOBIA-INDUCING CROWDS THAT ARE JUST ABOUT EVERYWHERE). EVEN AS THE PANELISTS OF “THE CHARACTER OF MUSIC” WENT TO SIT DOWN, THEY WERE PROMPTLY STOOD BACK UP FOR PHOTO-OPS. THE SURPRISE GUEST INTRO MODERATOR SPENT HIS TIME TALKING TO THE PEOPLE ON THE PANEL HE PREVIOUSLY WORKED WITH. EVENTUALLY THINGS SETTLED DOWN AND GOT UNDERWAY. THE SURPRISE GUEST INTRO MODERATOR SAID A FEW WORDS BEFORE PROMPTLY LEAVING. THIS WAS FOLLOWED BY SOME NICELY-EXECUTED CLIPS OF WORK BY ALL THE PEOPLE, BUT THEN FOLLOWED BY A SERIES OF LONG-WINDED AND UBER-SPECIFIC INTRODUCTIONS HANDLED BY THE REGULAR MODERATOR.

THERE WAS BLAKE NEELY, NOW WORKING ON THE CW PROGRAM ARROW. THERE WAS CHRIS LENNERTZ OF SUPERNATURAL AND THE UPCOMING JJ ABRAMS SHOW REVOLUTION. THE TOTALLY-EXPLODING-IN-POPULARITY JOSEPH TRAPANESE, A COLLABORATOR FRESH OFF OF THE UBER-HIT TRON: LEGACY AND THE RAID (ONE OF HULK’S FAVORITE MOVIES OF THE YEAR). HE IS NOW WORKING ON THE CRITICALLY-ACCLAIMED SERIES TRON: UPRISING (HULK HEARS IT’S GOOD, BUT HASN’T SEEN IT YET). BUT THE BIGGEST APPLAUSE UNDOUBTEDLY CAME FOR THE COUSINS JOHNSON, A DUO COMPRISING NATHAN JOHNSON AND HIS WRITER/DIRECTOR COUNTERPART RIAN JOHNSON.

ALL WORTHY GUESTS NO DOUBT, BUT THE FIRST QUESTION DIRECTED TO THEM WAS ABOUT HOW THEY GOT INVOLVED IN THEIR CURRENT PROJECT, WHICH IS AS BIG A “START FROM THE END” QUESTION AS POSSIBLE. THUS, THE ANSWERS WENT ON FOR A GOOD LONG WHILE ABOUT WHO KNEW WHO AND HOW THAT LEAD TO WHAT. EVERY ANSWER TOOK A GOOD LONG WHILE TO ANSWER AND LO AND BEHOLD IT WAS HALFWAY THROUGH THE PANEL AND FORGET ABOUT MUSIC, ONLY THREE PANELISTS HAD ONLY ANSWERED ONE QUESTION AND IT WAS ABOUT HOW THEY GOT THEIR CURRENT HOOK-UP. LUCKILY, AFTER ALL THE LONG-WINDED-NESS, NATHAN JOHNSON RESPONDED TO THE QUESTION REGARDING HE AND RIAN’S COLLABORATION ON LOOPER SIMPLY WITH: “We used to spend summer vacations together when the families would meet up for about two weeks. Rian and I would just make movies and play music together… And then we never stopped.”

THE ANSWER WAS HEARTFELT, DIRECT, AND ELICITED MASSIVE CHEERS FOLLOWED BY AN ADORABLE “AWWW” WHEN THE TWO COUSINS PUT THEIR ARMS AROUND EACH OTHER IN A PLAYFUL HUGGING GESTURE. WHEN IT WAS RIAN’S TURN TO ANSWER THE SAME QUESTION? “Yeah, that’s pretty much it.”

IT IS PRECISELY THIS KIND OF MOMENT WHICH BEGINS TO LOOSEN UP A PANEL AND BRING SELF-AWARENESS INTO THE MIX. FOR INSTANCE, ONE OF THE MODERATORS FOLLOWED THAT WITH ANOTHER GENERIC QUESTION MEANT FOR ALL, BUT WAS QUICKLY STRUCK DOWN BY THE OTHER MODERATOR AFTER THE FIRST LONG-WINDED ANSWER… OH YEAH THERE WERE TWO MODERATORS FOR SOME REASON. WELL THREE IF YOU COUNT THE SPECIAL INTRO MODERATOR. BECAUSE IF THERE’S ANYTHING THAT IS IMPORTANT FOR MODERATING A PANEL, A.K.A. SOMETHING THAT REQUIRES BRISK PACING AND EXPERT CONTROL OF FLOW, IT’S ANOTHER PERSON OPERATING ON A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT WAVELEGNTH.

WITH A FEW EXCEPTIONS, IT IS HULK’S UNDERSTAND THAT FEW MODERATORS AT THE CON STRIKE THE RIGHT BALANCE AMONG THE TOPICALITY AND THE GUESTS. BUT AGAIN, THE PANELISTS DID GREAT WITH THE CIRCUMSTANCES.

BLAKE NEELY TOTALLY TOWED THIS WEIRD LINE WHERE HULK COULDN’T TELL IF HE WAS A JERK WHO DIDN’T TAKE HIS JOB SERIOUSLY, OR JUST A GUY WITH A PLAYFUL SENSE OF HUMOR (LEST WE FORGET THAT JOHN FORD USE TO BEHAVE THE EXACT SAME WAY AND HE’S RESPONSIBLE FOR LIKE 12 MASTERPIECES). HIS PRODUCER (HULK DIDN’T CATCH HIS NAME AND IT WASN’T IN THE PROGRAM. HULK FEELS LIKE A BAD JOURNALIST NOW) LAUDED HIM WITH VAGUERIES LIKE “He really found his other gear.” AND “He really improved.” IT’S THE KIND OF STATEMENT YOU HEAR FROM MUSICIANS WHO SAY THEY REALLY WANT TO TAKE IT “TO THE NEXT LEVEL” ON THEIR NEW CD OR SOMETHING, AND IT’S AS MEANINGLESS A THING AS THAT CAN BE SAID. AT ONE POINT, BLAKE TALKS ABOUT MUSIC THE WAY A STAND-UP COMEDIAN WOULD A HECKLER: DELIGHTING IN THE FACT HE CAN MAKE THE TONE OF A SCENE WHATEVER HE WANTS. HE SAYS WHEN HEARS AN ACTOR COMPLAIN “Why did you make my scene funny? I didn’t do it funny!” HE JUST RESPONDS “Well it’s funny now!” BLAKE’S PRODUCER THEN OFFERS THE FIST CONSTRUCTIVE POINT THAT BLACK ACTUALLY DOES ALL HIS OWN TEMP MUSIC AND HOW INSANELY HELPFUL THAT IS (IF YOU’VE EVER BEEN AROUND RAPID TELEVISION POST-PRODUCTION FLOW, IT’S CRAZY VALUABLE). WITH THAT LITTLE ADMISSION ONE GETS THE SENSE THAT AFTER ALL THE POSTURE, BLAKE IS JUST PUTTING ON A BIG SHOW.

MEANWHILE, LENNERTZ SEEMED GOOD NATURED AND WELL-REASONED. HIS MENTIONING OF GETTING HIS JOB THROUGH AN OLD FRAT BROTHER ELICITED SOME CURIOUS GROANS IN THE CROWD FULL OF NERDS, FOLLOWING BY HIS INSISTENCE THAT “It was a geeky frat!” HE LATER REMARKED ABOUT TOTALLY UNDERSTANDING THE BALANCE BETWEEN SCORE AND SOUNDTRACK WORK SAYING THE HE TOTALLY KNOWS “when to let AC/DC do their job.” OVERALL HE COMES OF AS HIGHLY PRAGMATIC. TRAPANESE WAS REMARKABLY KIND AND GRACIOUS DURING THE ENTIRE THING, BUT HULK HONESTLY DIDN’T WRITE DOWN A SINGLE A SINGLE THING HE SAID SAVE FOR SOME BIT ON A POPULAR OPERA SINGER LATER. WHEN THINGS FINALLY RETURNED TO NATHAN AND RIAN JOHNSON, THEY TALKED ABOUT THEIR SPECIFIC PROCESS OF GATHERING RAW SOUNDS TO CREATE THE WORLD OF LOOPER. GIVEN THAT THE TWO ARE ABLE TO START SO EARLY ON THEIR COLLABORATION, NATHAN WAS ABLE TO TRAVEL TO NEW ORLEANS TO START RECORDING A BEVY OF RAW SOUND, WHICH WAS LATER TURNED INTO THE MUSICAL SIGNATURES FOR THE FILM.

AND JUST WHEN THINGS WERE STARTING TO HINT AT THE IMPORTANCE OF MUSIC AND A CONVERSATION COULD TAKE PLACE, THE MODERATORS OPENED IT UP FOR QUESTIONS FROM THE AUDIENCE… WITH 20 MINUTES LEFT IN THE PANEL… BECAUSE “Everyone complains there isn’t enough time for questions.”

UGH.

SO FIRST OFF, AT NO POINT WAS A QUESTION ABOUT THE “CHARACTER OF MUSIC” BROUGHT UP DURING THE PANEL AND AT NO POINT WERE THEY REALLY ALLOWED TO GET INTO THE CONCEPTS AT PLAY. HULK WAS SINCERELY DISAPPOINTED THAT THE MODERATORS NEVER BROUGHT IT THERE. YOU COULD PRACTICALLY FEEL SOME OF THE PANELISTS TRYING TO TURN THE DISCUSSION, BUT THE CHAOS INSURED THAT IT SIMPLY WAS NOT TO BE.

SO OUT OF THAT LACK OF CATHARSIS, HERE’S HULK’S MINI TAKE ON WHY MUSIC MATTERS SO DANG MUCH: IT’S HALF THE EXPERIENCE. TAKE AWAY SOUND AND MUSIC AND YOU HAVE NOTHING LIKE THE IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCE OF WATCHING A MOVIE. YOU HAVE AN EXPERIENCE THAT IS THE SAME WAY WE OBSERVE A PICTURE. BECAUSE SOUND DEFINES OUR EMOTION. IT SETS THE TONE. IT IS THE CONTROL OF EVERYTHING. IF YOU SEE A HAPPY IMAGE, BUT IT IS SURROUNDED BY A CREEPY, SAD SOUND, IT MAKES THE IMAGE EVEN CREEPIER. IF YOU SEE A SAD, MOURNFUL IMAGE, BUT IT IS SURROUNDED BY HAPPY GO LUCKY MUSIC, IT MAKES THE SCENE IRONIC. IT IS ALWAYS THE SOUND AND MUSIC THAT IS RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL MEANING INFERRED. THAT’S WHY SOUND HAS TO BE A CHARACTER. BECAUSE IT IS THE MOST AFFECTING, EXPERIENTIAL PART OF CINEMA. THE IMAGES WE SEE ARE LARGELY SYMBOLIC AND PROCESSED CEREBRALLY, BUT THE MUSIC IS THE VISCERA.¬† MUSIC IS INTRINSIC TO THE VERY FIBER OF YOUR EXPERIENCE. AND WE KNOW THIS BECAUSE SO MUCH WAS WORKED OUT IN THE OLE’ SILENT DAYS.

THE OTHER REASON THIS CUTTING SHORT OF THE PANEL STUNK IS BECAUSE AUDIENCE QUESTIONS ARE JUST THE WORST. HULK SORRY, HULK SORRY. IT’S NOT MEANT IN OFFENSE TO THE ASKERS, BUT IT REALLY CAN’T BE HELPED. WHY ANYONE WOULD LEAVE 20 MINUTES FOR QUESTIONS, HULK SIMPLY CANNOT UNDERSTAND.

OFTEN THE QUESTIONS ASKED ARE OFTEN UBER-SPECIFIC TO ASKERS AND ABOUT WHAT THEY CAN DO FOR THEIR CAREERS. OR OFTEN THEY JUST ASK ABOUT THE OTHER PEOPLE THEY HAVE WORKED WITH IN THEIR CAREERS. OR MOST OF THE TIME THERE REALLY ISN’T A QUESTION AT ALL AND THE COMMENT TAKES THE FORM OF GLOWING COMPLIMENTS TO PROVE THAT THEY ARE LIKE THE MOSTEST BEST FAN EVER. THESE BEHAVIORS ARE TOTALLY UNDERSTANDABLE BY THE WAY. COMIC-CON MAKES THESE NOBLE FIGURES ACCESSIBLE AND PEOPLE NATURALLY JUST WANT TO CONNECT AND PERSONALIZE THIS RARE EXPERIENCE, NOT SO MUCH UNDERSTAND OR LEARN. AND THE PANELISTS OFTEN DO A REMARKABLE JOB IN UNDERSTANDING THIS INCLINATION AND RELAYING ANSWERS BACK. THE PANELISTS HONESTLY DO A REMARKABLE JOB MOST OF THE TIME.

BUT HULK WAS DISAPPOINTED STILL WITH THE DIRECTION THIS PANEL WAS TURNED IN.

HULK ALWAYS WANTS THE CONCEPTUAL TO COME TO THE FOREFRONT. TO GO BEYOND THE SPECIFIC AND THE TANGIBLE. BUT NO ONE, NOT EVEN THE MODERATORS, EVER ENGAGED THESE PROFESSIONAL MASTERS ABOUT THE INGENUITY OF THE IDEA AND UNLOCKING A NEW WAY OF THINKING ABOUT THE ART OF SCORING. IT NEEDN’T BE PRETENTIOUS. IT WOULD SIMPLY GET TO THE HEART OF THE TITLE OF THE PANEL. THERE’S A GREAT QUOTE HULK FINDS APT FOR THIS POINT FROM ELEANOR ROOSEVELT: “GREAT MINDS DISCUSS IDEAS. AVERAGE MINDS DISCUSS EVENTS. SMALL MINDS DISCUSS PEOPLE.” THIS QUOTE IS OBVIOUSLY NOT SOME 1:1 RULE FOR HOW YOU SHOULD GOVERN YOUR LIFE, BUT IT IS A PRETTY GOOD INDICATOR OF THE LEVEL OF DISCOURSE YOU MAY BE ENGAGING IN. AND HULK HAS HONESTLY BEEN SURPRISED BY THE LEVEL OF DISCOURSE AT COMIC-CON.

WHETHER COMIC-CON IS LOFTY ENOUGH OR WHATEVER IS A PRETTY WEIRD QUESTION. HULK KNOWS THIS. BUT TO HULK THERE’S THIS CAPACITY TO WHICH GREAT FILMMAKERS AND CREATIVE MINDS ARE SUBJECTED TO THE MEAT MARKET OF PROMOTION GLUT AND IT JUST DOESN’T ENTIRELY SIT RIGHT.

OR MAYBE HULK IS BEING WAY TOO HARSH AND THE PERSONAL, TANGIBLE CONNECTION TO THESE MASTERS IS REALLY WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT. THE JOY AND PASSION OF YOUTH HANGS OVER EVERYTHING HERE AND THAT IS TO BE COMMENDED. AND WHAT ELSE WOULD THE YOUTHFUL WANT? AND AGAIN, IN THEIR SERVICE TO THE FANS THE PANELISTS COULD NOT HAVE BEEN MORE ENTERTAINING AND KIND IN THE WAY THEY WENT ABOUT PROVIDING SAID CONNECTION.

ALL HULK KNOWS IS THAT IN ALL THE PASSION, FERVOR, HYSTERIA, AND COMMOTION THAT IS THE COMIC-CON WAY, AN OPPORTUNITY WAS LOST FOR SOME BRILLIANT MINDS TO HAVE A GREAT CONVERSATION. AND THAT’S APPARENTLY THE WAY IT ALWAYS SEEMS TO GO HERE.

AND HULK THINKS THAT’S A BUMMER.

<3 HULK

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