(Saturday 21 st April 2000)
Lee "Budgie" Barnett
Welcome to the Hypotheticals page for the Comics 2000 comics festival!
I'll be your host for the next five minutes or so, and if you still want to know more about me, feel free to click on the graphic link above right to be taken to my homepage :
When I decided to put forward the suggestion that Comics 2000 have a Hypotheticals panel, I didn't realise exactly how much fun it would be.
The main Comics 2000 webpage describes the panel as "Game show hosted by Lee 'Budgie' Barnett with guests including Dave Gibbons." OK, so far it's true enough, except that, as you'll see, it'll be Dave who'll be hosting it. I'll be there all right, but it'll be Dave's baby.
Before I tell you exactly what " Hypotheticals " is , let me tell you what it isn't. Although it's a roll playing panel, you won't see comics professionals pretending to be heroes, well, not super -heroes anyway. They may well come out looking like heroes, but I suspect that the main reaction from the audience will be a new respect both for them and for the decisions they have to take in real life .
So what is Hypotheticals ? Simply put, it's a roll playing panel wherein comics professionals take a hypothetical scenario regarding the industry and play it out. (I should say at this point that whatever the panel is , it's not an audience participation panel, other than, I hope, the audience getting a lot of enjoyment out of it.)
If you're already ahead of me, then skip down to here, where I'll give you some specific examples we might be playing with.
Hypotheticals have been on British TV for some years, usually three a year. The format is staggeringly simple. You get a group of people (twenty or so on TV, but we're thinking more about ten people for Comics 2000 . These are people who know (or who ought to know) about the field they're in.
Then a moderator gives a series of hypotheticals. He starts off with one fairly controversial topic that's been in the news lately and further debate and hypotheticals are driven by the answers given. So, for example, let's take the Lewinski case. You'd have a couple of experienced politicians, a couple of print journalists, a TV news anchorman, someone who might take the place of a parent, that sort of thing.
(This has a relevance to comics, stay with me.)
The moderator might start : "Mr Jones." [Actually a lobbyist] "Your daughter, an eager young girl, interested in politics, has been offered a job at the White House. How do you feel about this?"
"Senator Hack." [Actually, say, an ex-President, if you're lucky] "You're President and an intern starts making inappropriate remarks - what do you do?"
"Jim Muckraker" [actually a respected journalist on the Washington Times] "you work for SCANDAL and you get a tip from a favoured source that the President is having an affair, but no one will confirm... what do you do?"
OK, get the idea?
It's simple, great to watch and with the right panel, fascinating to watch the ideas get bounced around. And since it is a Hypothetical, there's nothing to stop, say, one politician being asked what he'd do as, say, the Speaker of the House one minute and then ask him what he'd do if now he was in the place of the White House Chief of Staff.
Or let's take an actual example used at In The City, the British convention of the business side of the music business. There, the manager of one of the biggest bands in the world was asked the following: the day before your artist's latest albumn -- entitled Leaving In Fire -- is to be released, your client dies in a fiery car crash in which he's burned beyond recognition... Do you pull the album?"
OK, so what's this to do with comic book conventions?
Let's see : over the past eight years alone, we've had -- in no particular order:
And that's just for starters. Do you think a panel on which professionals could get together to discuss what they would have done had they been the creator, the publisher, the comic shop owner, the reporter would be kind of neat? Yeah, so did we...?
Of course, as you'll appreciate, for something like this to work, you need an outstanding moderator and superb panellists. Well, we're still working on the latter (but given the names of the guests appearing at Comics 2000 , we're confident we'll have panellists that will have you hanging on their every word. As for the moderator, well, we've been lucky enough to get Dave Gibbons, a man who truly needs no introduction (which means I don't have to type out his c.v.) to be the moderator.
As for an example of the sort of thing we're playing with... how about the following two scenarios...
"[Publisher], After you become Publisher of the company, you're told by your legal department that legally, the rights to your flagship character have never actually belonged to you, but that they really have always belonged to the creators who were screwed out of millions. Every publisher has been told this and every one has kept quiet. Now it's your turn. Be honest and possibly ruin the company or lie and be one of those screwing the creators (who are now in poverty). What do you do?"
"[Publisher], you get a parcel delivered one day from Fred Smithers, a legend in the industry. A legend both because of the quality of his work and the amount of alcohol he drinks. You haven't seen him for years, but have heard that his work's on the slide. The parcel contains superb work, but it doesn't look like his work... in fact it bears a remarkable resemblance to work you saw at a convention the previous week from a new artist. What would you do next?"
OR click here to return to the Comics 2000 webpage.