By Octavio Karbank
A legendary creator, in every sense of the word, comic book creator Howard Chaykin had his own panel today, delivering gut-wrenching honesty, mixed in with foul language and poignant reflections and anecdotes. Creator of comics like American Flagg and Satellite Sam, he spoke about everything from just how few comic readers there are, to how even less of those comic readers know who he is. Describing himself as the Randy Newman of comics, Mr. Chaykin believes people know him for his unfortunate run on Star Wars several decades ago. I could only gape in amazement at the captivating and unforgiving nature this famed creator possessed. While there wasn't any breaking news to come out of the panel itself, there were some interesting points Mr. Chaykin shared:
– When talking about the creation process, Mr. Chaykin explained how comics is a learned skill, one where you must learn to write text and write visually, but ultimately, "I don't care about content, because it's the form that matters."
– Hates the term "fans" as Mr. Chaykin described fans as an easily manipulated audience, but rather prefers the term "enthusiast", as those folks are more thoughtful in their appreciation for a medium/creator.
– One of the most important things Mr. Chaykin said, was when he discussed the mentality of people who read comics and ignore the creators. You have an audience who wants to be convinced that it's Batman and not WHO is doing Batman; comics don't just happen and Chakyin cares little for the characters themselves, but more about the creators.
– As a self-proclaimed jerk, Mr. Chaykin was eager to say that, "We live in a culture where people feel they have the right not to be insulted," and how that's just too bad, because that's not the case.
– The most harrowing comment from the panel, which I've heard other creators express, was about the gradual decline of comics. He discussed how one day comics will prove nonexistent. After all "civilians don't know that comic books exist…and frankly, they don't have to. It's no longer necessary to support them [superheroes] through comics. They exist in movies."
– When asked about whether he enjoys science fiction, Chaykin adamantly said no, claiming that, "science fiction is children's literature, devoid of an adult's reaction to things."
As Mr. Chaykin closed with a song, I could only think this panel was one for the ages, and yet it was paradoxically one of the quieter ones to come out of this year's San Diego Comic Con.