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Beware the Creeper!

Iain's life as a psychotic crimefighter

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Loncon 3 - Third Day

Not quite the full day I would have liked, but out of the three events I attended two were highlights:

First the meh

Genre on the Stage

This was meant to be about the history of genre theatre, but it soon developed into a discussion of stage fx and the fact that most genre theatre productions are adaptations (which I would dispute - but certainly most, if not all, major theatrical genre productions are adaptations.) So the emphasis of the panel was actually on genre adaptations in mainstream theatre. I was hoping for a lot more about fringe and independent theatre as was my colleague Laura Goodin as we both practice within the independent theatre scene in Sydney and Wollongong. There was a little discussion about how technology is used to break the locative limitation of theatre (i.e. allow audience members who can't physically get to the venue to see the show) but I think there was a deeper conversation to be had. It was one of those frustrating panels that skittered everywhere without landing solidly enough on any one point to make an impression.

Grandville and the Anthropomorphic Tradition

Bryan Talbot gave an illustrated lecture on the history of anthropomorphism in comics and illustrations and the artistic references he wove into Grandville. I remember when I first picked up Grandville thinking that another Bryan Talbot was the creator, as the one I was familiar with did work like "Alice in Sunderland" and seemed to have moved beyond funny animal action comics. Of course, it is the same creator and Grandville (which will be up to volume 4 by the end of the year) is a dream project. Talbot is able to weave in the history of comics and illustrations as well taking satirical jabs all under the guise of a steampunk funny animal noir adventure comic.

So we were given the benefit of Talbot's research as he took us on a fairly comprehensive tour of illustrative anthropomorphism - from Tiger Tim to Wonder Warthog, Kamandi, Howard the Duck and Bone by way of the Dogs Playing Poker artist, Louis Wain the insane cat lover and Tales by the Riverbank - and then revealed how he referenced both classic European comic book characters and artworks all through Grandville.

Talbot is a gifted lecturer and he gave exactly the kind of information and historical context that I wish the comics exhibition at the British Library had. Talbot is not only one of the best graphic novelists working today - he also had an extensive understanding and synthesis of the history of the form which gives his work a density that isn't immediately apparent.

In short - if you like comics buy Grandville (and really any other Bryan Talbot you can find - a complete Luther Arkwright is coming out in October.)

After lunch, I was off to join the extensive queue for:

The Anubis Gates

Current Theatre were staging the world premiere of their adaptation of Tim Power's The Anubis Gates (which was the book that made me a Powers fan) so I was interested to see how they'd manage it.

Very well, was the answer. It was a minimal production (the stage set was a bed and a table with chairs with very little rearrangement) with some use of projection, both to show the action that parts of the audience wouldn't be able to see (as the entire hall was used at various points) and to show transformation scenes and magick ceremonies. The performances were great and the production made clever use of the limitations of the space (from my own experience it's a real pain in the arse to run a show in a space that's constantly being used for other purposes.) My only critique would be of the adaptation itself - that the hirsute body hopping has the explanation for it glossed over (so appears to come out of nowhere) and it could do with some trimming, particularly in the multiple climaxes. But this is just quibbling - it was a fabulous show and I'd love to see it again in a space where the company as more control.

We missed the Masquerade as we went over to a friend's place (who lived, literally, five minutes away from the ExCel centre) for a home-cooked meal and a catch up.