The Wildcat Comic Con will host a bunch of top-notch, visionary creators and academics.
The WCC is open to the public and will be held April 13 and 14 at Pennsylvania College of Technology, 1 College Ave.
The general perception of a comic con is that it is an event where Stan Lee shows up with Marvel and DC and signs autographs while a swarm of young fans run about in tights and capes or Spidey suits.
Williamsport native Tom Woodruff Jr. has worked on creature effects for such films as “Aliens,” “Wonder Boys”?and the “Spider Man” trilogy.
Of course, that's a caricature and that sort of comic con still is alive and well - though less so. The truth is that while the publishing world shifts away from traditional, paper-and-print based texts, the world of comics is shifting and blooming, too.
In fact, it seems that the comics world is ahead of the game.
It already has started to adapt to digital media, with a lot of new and established comic writers and artists providing a monthly, weekly or daily web comic.
Some of these are teasers or promotions for forthcoming books, but others are non-syndicated, free, illustrated story segments, or jokes or clips.
The WCC will embody the traditional fan-type aspects of a comic con, like a cosplay (costume play) ball, author signature sessions and creative workshops and sessions; but it will equally address other aspects of comics. Academics, teachers and librarians from around the country will talk about how to use comics in the classroom, to enhance literacy and literary studies, to enhance library circulation and to address problems with any of these subjects.
In the last few weeks, the Sun-Gazette has interviewed a few significant creators who will appear at Wildcat Comic Con. More than 40 featured guests are coming to present, many of whom are nationally recognized experts or award-winners in their fields.
WCC is a forward-thinking and moving convention. It will not limit the comics world to print and stationary media alone.
Williamsport native, Tom Woodruff Jr. - who runs a creature effects studio in Los Angeles, and who won an Emmy for his work in "Death Becomes Her," as well as a number of other Emmy nominations - will be at the Wildcat Comic Con.
Woodruff will give a presentation each day of WCC called "Creating the Ultimate Creature Character with Tom Woodruff."
He's worked in creature effects since the '80s, and worked on such films as "Aliens," and "Wonder Boys" and the "Spiderman" trilogy.
When asked about the process, he said, "We love to start with loose sketches. In terms of our whole design process, we start by going off in as many different directions as we can. The idea is to get into the realm of thinking, it's a warm up exercise, to find an artistic voice or an artistic presence."
This is a process he will walk attendees of the Wildcat Comic Con through during his workshop.
He is adamant about the advantages of physical creature effects as opposed to Computer Generated (CG) effects. He described his recent experience working on the remake of "The Thing," where it was supposed to be more animatronic, but with CG effect add-ins, it was tricky to make the animatronic piece look real. He said, however, that in the final product, "every single scene was digitally enhanced in some way."
But he also said, on the films where he gets greater creative latitude, he gets to collaborate with the directors and producers. So, after all the sketches are presented, "we [Woodruff and his partner, Alec Gillis] can sit down with the director and he can weigh in."
Sometimes, though, that step gets circumscribed and the work can be called into question later in the process. He said, "What I don't want to do is to get to the other side of the design process and have people starting to second-guess it."
He spoke about the way in which CG creature effects have taken over the market. He spoke nostalgically of the earlier part of his career when creature effects were physical props with levers and pulleys and sometimes even motors and robotics.
He said, "I think it's a much more personal experience [for the moviegoer]. When all the special effects stuff was top secret, it was a drag because people were protecting themselves: some little trick or technique nobody else'd figured out; but once people started sharing the wealth of information, things became better. People were building on effects that were already built. There was a real explosion of what creature effects were becoming over the years. Today, it's been relegated to a clean-up approach: filling in where there's not enough money to do digital effects, or the character's not on screen long enough. But then it's picked and pulled at till it doesn't fit the movie."
Woodruff is excited to come home to Williamsport.
He said, "I always am [excited]. It's good to remember where I came from, which makes me appreciate where I'm at. On a spiritual level, it's hugely beneficial for me to come back."
Visit wildcatcomiccon.pct.edu to register to come to Wildcat Comic Con. And visit Tom Woodruff's studio online, too, at studioadi.com.