Just past noon on Saturday at the recently-concluded New York Comic Con, I saw (from the corner of my eye) the back of Ryan North’s head at the BOOM! booth as he was signing Adventure Time comics and I was speaking with Ananth Panagariya and Yuko Ota. I blinked but a moment and Ryan North was gone. You would think that a 2 meter tall man couldn’t disappear, even on a crowded show floor, but he did, as if he was never there in the first place. Filing this away for future reference¹, I said my goodbyes to Ota and Panagariya and made my way down into the bowels of the Javits Convention Center.
In the pleasantest of surprises, I found that the death crush of people moving to and from panel rooms had been largely alleviated by specific lining-up corrals, and that the hazards of years gone by were gone. I was able to walk freely to the vicinity of the line for Room 1A8, where I found Kate Beaton and Chris Hastings chatting with fans near the front of the line. A short while later we would enter the room along with Beaton and North’s agent (and the panel’s moderator), Seth Fishman — although North had not appeared. On the dais, there was a brief flurry of consternation, wondering how a 2 meter tall man could be hidden under any circumstances, and the possibility that a substitute Ryan might have to be somehow procured². Fortunately, North appeared both in the room and unconcerned as he casually glanced at his phone and noted that five minutes remained until the start of the panel and sat at the table.
The panel itself (titled Beyond The Webcomic) dealt with past, present, and future creative eandeavours, and took a focus on how webcomics have changed rapidly in the time they have existed, and so a creator that wishes to keep creating must adapt into other areas as well. Rather than try to provide a transcript or recap, I’m going to give you some choice quotes and exchanges from the hour, roughly in chronological order.
Comics is the only thing I have complete autonomy with, so it’s the first thing on the chopping block. — Beaton on the prioritizing of comics vs other projects when time is tight.
In response to a question from Fishman about projects they regret not being able to do, due to time:
I said no three times in the same day about two weeks ago and I felt like a jerk but it was also empowering? — North on not being able to do everything.
This is fun, thinking of stuff I regret. I was going to do a McNinja Choose Your Own Adventure book; Ryan was doing Hamlet at the same time³ and we were going to have a crossover in our books. But then I realized his was a million times better and I dropped it. — Hastings, followed immediately by:
Oh my god. It was my fault? — North.
I was going to so something with Time’s blog, I would have had access to all their archives and photo references, but it fell right when I was moving from New York to Toronto. I don’t regret it, but it would have been cool. When I first started getting offers I felt like I had to say yes to every offer, because what if they never offer anything again? But if the work is good, the offers will always be there. — Beaton.
What they’re working on or have coming up:
I have a book deal with Scholastic, I’ll be doing picture books for kids, and there’s a pony in it. [signs contract] — Beaton, as recounted yesterday.
Success in comics is amazing and I don’t completely trust it … so I’m very interested in exploring these other avenues. — Beaton again, following up on why she’s doing so many non-comics projects these days, most of which she can’t tell us about yet.
Coming up next is Longshot Saves the Marvel Universe, I just got in the final script and the first issue went to press this week. It releases starting in November every other week, so you get all four issues pretty quick. I’m about to announce the Kickstarter for a Dr McNinja card game. I’m also working on Galaga with Ryan … it’s a very corporate webcomic. They don’t make ANY money on it, they don’t even TRY. They just pay us. — Hastings, on what is best in life.
The new thing is Midas Flesh, which will be coming out soon. [North was interrupted and asked to recount how he came to work with BOOM]. The BOOM origin story is they emailed me asking if I wanted to write Adventure Time and I said yes.
Well, first I emailed my wife to ask if I could do it, not asking permission, but asking if I was capable of it and she said yes. The other thing is the sequel to Hamlet, which will be Romeo And/Or Juliet. — North.
On being asked about their dream project:
I’d like to write a movie. — Hastings.
I’d kind of like to write a computer game. I also have a pitch for the first half of a Back to the Future reboot but I don’t want to be the guy that people say You ruined my childhood. But you know that somebody’s going to remake it and I just don’t want it to be horrible. — North.
Is Strickland going to be in it? — Hastings.
Absolutely! It’s all about Strickland. He doesn’t age. — North.
I’ve been talking to the National Film Board of Canada about doing something with them. I don’t have time for it now, but I’m sure the opportunity will come around sometime. — Beaton, on the very real possibility of working with a beloved Canadian institution.
¹ I must think deeply on how this incorporates into my theory that Ryan North actually died last December and has had his mighty spirit occasionally contained within an artificial shell ever since.