Grant Morrison, Deepak Chopra, and Kevin Smith at the 2011 San Diego Comic-Con
– by Shawn Conner
You know you’ve had an interesting day when it begins with Deepak Chopra leading a meditation to connect you with your inner super-hero and ends with Kevin Smith sharing way too much information about his marriage. But that was the third day of the 2011 San Diego Comic-Con for this writer.
• Grant Morrison and Deepak Chopra – In the program their panel is billed as “Deepak Chopra and Grant Morrison”, but let’s face it, Chopra has never written a Batman comic or a groundbreaking run for a second-rate DC superhero (as has Scottish writer Morrison).
This was the third year Morrison and the spiritual guru have done a panel together at the SDCC, and both were there to chat up ideas in their respective just-published books, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Superheroes (Chopra) and Supergods (Morrison). The two discussed the themes in their books, but Morrison had the most interesting things to say; he pointed out that there had been superheroes before Superman but that Superman was the first to use his might, not guns, and that he also had a bit of the showman in him (the big red “S”). In comics, Morrison said, the creators are able to embody an emotion as a character and have the superheroes conquer that emotion. he also pointed out that most of us now carry our own god-device “motherbox”, a term first coined by comics artist Jack Kirby, in the form of smartphones. Chopra, who was there also with his son Gotham (who publishes his own line of comics under the name Liquid), had a few interesting things to say too – such as, how he had a problem with the latest X-Men movie because he didn’t believe supervillain Magneto’s helmet would actually protect his thoughts from being read.
In other words, you probably had to be there, or at least be a huge comics fan to fully appreciate the Oprah fave debating the finer points of comic book credibility.
• Cowboys vs. Aliens – We weren’t able to procure a coveted pass to tonight’s premiere screening, but we did chat briefly with the movie’s first team of screenwriters, Hawk Ostby and Mark Fergus . Standing at the Cowboys & Aliens booth in the midst of the madhouse that was the exhibition floor on Saturday afternoon, the two screenwriters – , who also wrote the first Iron Man movie as well as the,excellent dystopian sci-fi thriller Children of Men – talked about how they were careful to keep a non-ironic tone for the movie, and to stay true to the two genres, science fiction and the Western, from which the graphic-novel-based flick draws its inspiration. We’ll be posting the full interview this coming week.
• Kevin Smith – There is a rite of passage that every true San Diego Comic-Con attendee needs to go through to consider themselves true believers, and that is to attend one of Kevin Smith’s q-and-a sessions.
The indie director’s rambling discourse has become a tradition at the Con, so much so that organizers now give him the biggest room, Hall H. Over 6,000 Smith devotees and curious con-goers showed up early Saturday evening to listen to Smith gas on about movies, comic books, his marriage, masturbation and smoking weed. He also discussed his decision to quite making movies; he has more fun podcasting, he said, and will devote more of his creative energies to that, especially after he makes one more movie, a proposed hockey flick called Hit Somebody (titled, perhaps, after the eponymous Warren Zevon song, which is also about hockey and features David Letterman in the chorus?).
The biggest surprise was the clip Smith brought with him from his latest, Red State.
Smith said he’ll be rolling out the movie his way, touring it for a while (he’ll screen the film followed by a q-and-a at independent theatres) including five cities across Canada in the middle of August (the Red State Provinces Tour dates). Red State will also show at Quentin Tarantino’s L.A. theatre The New Beverley Aug 19, and on Sept 1 it will be available through VOD, with a DVD release in mid-October.
As Smith himself said, it’s not what you think of when you think of a Kevin Smith movie. The director said the thriller is his homage to Quentin Tarantino and the Coen Brothers, and the high-energy, very noisy clip – which featured John Goodman shouting into a cell over a hail of bullets – left us wanting more.
As Smith said of Red State, “Don’t look for Jay and Silent Bob” (his comedic duo that appears in many of his movies).
Smith also said he’s developing a reality-TV show about a comic book store (his own) that he described as “part Hoarders, part Antiques Roadshow“.
More San Diego Comic-Con coverage from July 23 2011:
2011 San Diego Comic-Con photos (July 23 2011)