Cartoonist, writer, and star of the Real World, Judd Winick told stories and anecdotes on topics ranging from Real World to the Exiles, Under the Red Hood to his latest creation Hilo.
He spoke at length about what I would consider to be his masterpiece, Under the Red Hood and how proud he was of Jason Todd's current popularity.
He also reflected, sometimes emotionally, on his friendship with Pedro Zamora and how much he influenced his life and his work.
I asked him how he managed to capture the emotional heaviness of the " why didn't you do it for me, after everything he did to me?" ( no spoilers) scene between Bruce and Jason…
"I thought about, I'm going to spoil it, the Joker killed Jason Todd. And one would think that Jason would be mad at Batman for not saving his life, but it turns out it was actually more than that. That's kinda where it came out of. I Think Jason being Jason, was enough ,about like, he knew the rules of the game and it wasn't about Batman not saving him, for him it was bigger. Then, to start figuring his reletionship between him and Batman to Robin, Bruce Wayne to Jason Todd and father and son. What are fathers supposed to do? And, you know, father's are, there lives are to be turned upside down when Their son dies and, I think what Jason was coming out at was "You do not think of me as your son-you do not love me." and that was what made the whole book. The ending, that ending, is where I started. I figured that out and after that everything else is just, boom, running around, black masks and crazy stuff, and a idiot character named Capt. Natzi. You know, we were just all over the place. But the emotional core of the story was going to be going right there. I knew we were always going to be OK because I new where it was going to end, and then I was out. There, done, that's my Batman run. I'll go take a shower, Thank you.
Another Fan asked "Do you always know where they (the stories) are going to End?"
"I try to." He answered. "That's actually the advice I give to anybody when they are talking about writing, is everybody's got the big idea. "I've got this great idea- it's about this talking Bulldog that teams up with a Superboy, no, alternate reality Superboy, and then they go and they're in France." Big idea, it's great, but then when you start writing the Bulldog and France, and Superboy you get lost along the way. Because you don't know where you are going. I know it sounds tripe but if you know where you're going to land, you're gonna get there, you can at least get your first draft done. Even if the middle is crap. And it's gonna be better because your Bulldog doesn't (inaudible) in the book, you'll get there. I always try to figuer out the ending first."
And after the Q & A Judd closed up the panel with a shout out that is sure to tug your heart strings.
"I'm a cartoonist, it's the greatest job in the world. Cause it is, I don't know what the rest of you do but, I make thing up and I draw them, and I live like a ten year old. I really do. Now I make things up about little boys running away from giant robots and things, and I don't have another job. This is what I do. And I do pretty well. So it's really a lot of fun and I would say that more than anybody else, I owe this to my Mom and Dad. Who always helped me draw, who always let me make stuff up. I spent an inordinate a out of time watching TV, mostly watching M.A.S.H. and the Odd Couple, for you young people those were television shows. I know they are embarrassed , but my Mom and Dad are right back there."Judd then points them out and leads a round of applause." I would not be here, none of you would know who I am. At no point, did my Mom and Dad ever tell me I shouldn't be a cartoonist, ever. I never heard that. Well, (maybe) get something to fall back on. I think the discussion was going to happen my senior year of college, and then I got a development deal with Universal Press Agency. My Dad even told me, "I was going to talk to you, but opps, I guess your fine. Just keep watching movies, reading your comics, your good, just keep doing what your doing." I always had their bottomless pit of encouragement . So thank you guys I love you."
And on that touching note, he ended the panel in applause.