Found out yesterday that I’m on a panel at World Fantasy called “But I’m The Hero!”:
The Justifications for Villainy.
This in itself would be cool enough–I love discussing characters and characterization. I firmly believe that “villains” (i.e. antagonists) should be well-rounded, three-dimensional beings with rational motivations for their evil actions. (Even if their rationale is nothing more than psychotic self-delusion.) It’s been said that a story is only as good as its villain…and a “cardboard” antagonist can really ruin an otherwise great tale. I’m more interested in the villain’s point-of-view than the details of his evil acts, and those villains readers see as realistically “human” are the most frightening of all. So this panel will be a great chance to talk about what makes an effective villain, and the many ways writers present their “bad guys” in the context of their stories.
But it gets better…
I don’t know how I won the Lucky Guy Lottery, but I find myself scheduled on this panel with the great Len Wein. Len is a comics legend best known for creating DC Comics’ SWAMP THING back in the early 70s (along with artist extraordinaire Bernie Wrightson). Len was a huge part of The Bronze Age–my favorite era of classic comics (i.e. the 1970s). Since those halcyon days Len has remained a giant of the comics industry, writing and editing for Marvel and DC, as well as writing for television. Yet he always came back to comics, the medium that remains my first love. (I literally learned to read by staring at comics when I was preschooler.) I met Len once at the San Diego Comicon a few years ago, but I doubt he remembers me–it was one of those quick conversations you have in the middle of a massive, overcrowded convention room. I’m awed to be sharing a panel with this guy, literally one of my heroes.
But wait, there’s more…
Also on that SAME panel is celebrated horror and sci-fi author F. Paul Wilson. I remember reading his classic horror novel THE KEEP back in 11th grade (circa 1985-86) and loving it so much that I did a presentation about it for my English class. It was unlike anything I had ever read, and I never forgot it. F. Paul is a legitimate horror legend, and I’ll be talking bad guys with him and Swamp Thing’s daddy.
I just might end up doing a Wayne-and-Garth style “We’re not worthy!” when sitting on the same stage as these two guys. This is gonna be fun. But of course, WFC is always a bag-and-a-half of fun.
Also on the panel will be the esteemed Russell Blackford (The New John Connor Chronicles) and the splendid Kay Kenyon (The Entire and the Rose). I wonder if they’ll be as geeked out as me? Probably not.
The best thing about WFC? Four days in a row of writers talking about writing, storytellers talking about the craft of storytelling, and creators talking about the joys of creativity. And books…tons of books.
When you get right down to it, it’s all about STORIES. And we all know that stories make the world go ’round.
Oh, how it will spin…