Lessons from Comic-Con 2011

by Lisa Rothstein on 07/25/2011

Mark Fergus, screenwriter of “Cowboys & Aliens” and DaVinci Diva Lisa Rothstein

A big part of enjoying your talents is connecting with others who share your passions and skills, and who love to come together to share ideas. And for someone with a penchant for movies, cartooning, TV or “graphic novels” (comic books) there is no place for this type of mind-meld in the world like Comic-Con, the annual creative mashup in San Diego.

Comic-con is famous for its parade of grown men and women dressed up like superheroes and zombies, but the event is more than just a pretty face. I got to meet and talk with some of my real-life heroes and heroines (screenwriters, TV writers, directors and artists) and not only get inspired by the sneak previews of their work, but by their words:

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Jon Favreau, director of Iron Man and of the just-premiered Cowboys and Aliens starring Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford, and produced by Steven Spielberg, voiced his former creative insecurities to a hall of thousands.

Mentioning some of his earlier flops and a general hit-and-miss career, and referencing the risks he was taking with his latest venture, he said “Once you get comfortable with failure, nobody can do anything to you anymore.”

I wrote that one down.

Hawk Ostby, co-writer of those same movies, says he and his partner Mark Fergus write their first drafts “quick and ugly” and don’t worry about who writes what because “all the scenes are going to suck the first time anyway.”

I also delighted in director Guillermo Del Toro’s (Pan’s Labyrinth, the Hellboy series) geeky and childlike enthusiasm for monsters, The Twilight Zone and Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion attraction….all while cheerfully dropping F-bombs left and right.

TV writer Jane Espenson (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) who pioneered women’s inclusion into the sci-fi and fantasy genre, and who could get any TV gig she wanted, talked about breaking out and doing her own web series called Husbands that sounded more like a gay romantic comedy than a horror show. She’s producing and financing it herself, so she can do it her way, without any meddling executives.

The one thing that really stood out for me more than anything as a common theme among all these people and others I saw and heard, is that the love of what they were doing negated — or at least outweighed — any fear that they might not be doing it right, or that other people might not like it.

At Comic-Con 2011, I learned that the fear of creative failure doesn’t go away once you get famous and successful…and that love is the only antidote. And you get to stoke that love the more you hang out with other creative people who dig the things that you do.

Pretty profound thought, considering that I had it while strolling between Batman and Hello Kitty. And I bought some cool new markers in the exhibit hall, too.

Activity: What creative talents can you really “geek out” over? Once you have at least one, look for local meetups where you can find your tribe, or check out common interest groups or pages on Facebook. And if there’s a convention based around one of your talents…GO if you possibly can!

What are you such a geek about you could forget to worry about failing? Please share below!! (You get an automatic link to your blog if you do.)

And if you’d like a weekly reminder of your talents, please sign up at the upper right for our “DaVinci Dose” and remember how fabulous you are on a regular basis!




{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Grace July 26, 2011 at 12:01 am

I show artists in my own living room. I’ve been doing it for six years now, and I can’t seem to stop. 😉

Nuria May 20, 2012 at 2:40 pm

I hope a deadline works beettr for you than it tends to for me. Self-imposed limits loom over me most unpleasantly and the added pressure distracts me from the otherwise enjoyable (mostly) writing process.Daily word-count goals serve me beettr; even if I will sometimes fall severely short of them, the hours logged in the effort of attainment is ever for the good, and even measly word-counts add up over time.Of course, every writer is different. It could well be that a deadline is just the tool you need to get your novel finished. Discover what suits you best, then full steam ahead. Good luck to you!

Lisa Rothstein June 4, 2012 at 10:12 am

Whatever works for you is what works! The uber-successful TV writer/producer David Milch gets his writing done by never touching a keyboard himself –he has an assistant in the room typing everything as he dictates. Not all of us can afford (or would want) this, but that’s what makes him get things done.

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