Showing posts with label comics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label comics. Show all posts

Monday, March 14, 2016

Fanboy Expo Experiences And Talk


Fanboy Expo is a series of pop culture conventions in Florida and Tennessee. I've never attended one of their conventions (Lakeland is a bit out of the way for me to go to a show) but I have been asked by my brother Jason Helton to share his experiences at the most recent show in Florida.

I don't often talk about my brother, expect to mention him in passing when we attend conventions together. He is a life long fan of comics, professional wrestling and other of those things that we have started to lump under the umbrella of "pop culture." He travels around the Florida area attending conventions, so that he can meet the people who make the comics that he has enjoyed, and the people who do other forms of his favorite entertainment.

I asked Jason to write about his experiences at the convention, after negative talk was removed from the Fanboy Expo Facebook page.

This past weekend, he went to his first (and last) Fanboy Expo.
I attended my first and last Fanboy Expo on Saturday, March 12, 2016 in Lakeland, Florida.
First the positives of my experience: their website was accurate about the guests who canceled as of the night before, about separate lines for methods of payment, and the site map being given out at the ticket window.
The negatives I experienced: There was an $8.00 parking fee to the facility that is nowhere on the Fanboy Expo website.  When I mentioned to the cashier it got me a response of “I didn’t know either.”  
One comic guest was Tom Nguyen, an artist who has worked on books from DC Comics like Batman, Green Lantern and the JLA.  When giving a site map at the time of ticket purchase it showed where his table was to be located, but there was no table at the location, or anyplace else on the convention floor.  I asked a badged staffer and that staffer responded with, “Oh, he is our photographer for our photo ops.  Let me go see something.”  The staffer went to room where a photo op was being done.  The staffer came back saying Tom will be doing a photo op for at least 45 minutes and would sign after that.  At no place on the Fanboy Expo website did they mention any of this.  There was no mention of it at all at the Expo site.
I asked at an information booth to complain to someone.
I spoke with a person named David.  When I complained about the parking fee and availability of Tom, he did not respond the parking, and to say that Tom was there as a staff photographer. David then apologized that some older guests were taking longer on photo ops than expected.  David said he would get my items signed and even ask for a sketch to be done for me but I would still have to wait until the current op was done.  When I stated I didn’t want to wait my response from David was,” It is what it is.”   I then countered with why this information was not mentioned on the website or onsite and nothing.  I said I would not come back to a Fanboy Expo and David saluted me and said there was nothing else to say and walked away from me.
I put two posts about my experiences on the Fanboy Expo Facebook page, and both were removed within 30 minutes of the posts.
After Jason spoke to me about this on Saturday afternoon, I reached out to a few people that I know in the local comics scene and asked them for their thoughts on the Fanboy Expo shows.

"Disorganized" came up more than once. Advertising was not adequate for the convention, and attendance for the show was proportional to that.

The show is branded as a comic convention, but the obvious emphasis (as you could notice from Jason's experience above) was on the celebrity guests. Even this emphasis was not well-handled, as I received reports of attendees that were upset by the cancellation of former professional wrestler Ric Flair.

I was told that sales for vendors were not great, and that the arrangement of areas (like the Artist Alley) was cramped and badly planned out.

As so-called geek culture rises in popularity in this country, there are going to be people trying to cash in on that. Comic-Con International in San Diego makes a lot of people a lot of money, and people see that, and want to be the next big convention. However, running a good convention takes a lot more than wanting one, or even "being a fan." It takes skill in organization, skill in marketing and a desire to build a community around your event. Without that community, all that is left is shilling.

I know that the Florida convention scene is exploding. There are more conventions within a few hours drive of where I live than there ever have been. There are conventions in Orlando, Tampa, Miami and Lakeland. There are good conventions that thrive, building a strong community and local infrastructure that get people excited about being a part of things, rather than just consuming. I have said before that my favorite local convention is the Tampa Bay Comic-Con. They do a lot of things right, and they have the constant growth to prove that. Conventions try to muscle their way into an area (I'm looking at you Wizard World Orlando) and others seem to collapse under the wright of their own size and mismanagement. It seems that even a buy out from a larger convention company can help them out, or keep them from losing the faith of vendors or their own staff.

Comic and Pop Culture/Geek Culture conventions are going to make a lot of people a lot of money, before the bad conventions start to burn people out. These are the things that we need to think about when we support a local (or even national) convention. Do they (the convention) support the local fan community? Do they support the creators that come as guests? If the answer to either of these is no, then it isn't a good convention.

Obviously, there are a lot more factors that can go into the decision of whether or not a show is good or bad, but these are easy, and they are fundamental. There is more to "treating a guest well" than providing a well-stocked green room, or providing a hotel room. Time is money, as they say, and if the time of the guests isn't treated as being important by making sure that their attendance is well-promoted and well-attended, and that people are spending money, then that convention is not fulfilling their promise to that guest.

Convention guests are a two-way street. It is important to a convention that they get good guests, because this means (in theory) that they can draw more foot traffic. This increased foot traffic should, in theory, mean that the guests are getting more attention, and making some money.

I'm not saying that a convention owes it to guests that they show a profit. The guests have to work at this as well. Just being invited to a show does not insure financial success, and the optimal way for this is for everyone to work together to make the show and the guests successful. If just isn't something that we see happening a lot.

Now, as someone who likes going to conventions I want a thriving local convention scene. I want conventions to succeed. That takes work, and it isn't always something that we see.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

DC Comics Rebirth?


It will start with a voice, "I love this world,  but something is missing."

"It" being the next "event" (my words, not theirs) from DC Comics: DC Universe Rebirth. According to CCO Geoff Johns, DC Universe Rebirth follows in the steps of Green Lantern Rebirth and Flash Rebirth. A next chapter in the DC Universe.

Each of the previous Rebirth minis were about returning something to the DC Universe. Green Lantern Rebirth brought back Hal Jordan, Sinestro and the Green Lantern Corps to the DC Universe. Flash Rebirth returned Barry Allen as the Flash. So, it stands to reason that DC Universe Rebirth will be about returning something to the DC Universe. But what?

What they seem to be saying is that DC Universe Rebirth will bring back the aspect of Legacy to the DCU. 

The more important question is...is it too late?


To be completely honest, neither of the so-called Big Two comic publishers have ever completely bounced back from the crash of comics in the 90s that nearly ended comics. These days, standard operating procedure is to bounce from one big Earth-shattering, status quo changing event to another, dragging readers along on a ride of change and "rebirth" where everything is "All-New" and "All-Different," and of course everything gets a shiny new coat of paint and a fresh set of new #1s to prop up sales.

Until the steam runs out on that, and everyone realizes that things have to change again because they need the sales.

According to an interview with DC Comics CCO Geoff Johns at the Comic Book Resources website some of the basics are:
With "Rebirth," the mainline DC Universe titles will be renumbered with new #1s -- except for "Action Comics" and "Detective Comics," the two longest-running series in DC's lineup, which will return to their original numbering at #957 and #934, respectively. All DCU books will return to a $2.99 price point (currently their lineup is split between $3.99 and $2.99 single issues), and select core titles (details to come on exactly which) will shift to a twice-monthly schedule.
Yes, because nothing will set readers straight quite like 30-some comics with shiny new #1s, and two books that are numbered in the 900s.
It started when [DC Co-Publishers] Dan [DiDio] and Jim [Lee] came to me and said that they wanted to end things at #52, and work build back to a shared universe and big stories. They wanted to take another look at everything.
I think that a lot of this goes back to the last "event" at DC, the less than spectacularly selling Convergence. There were some really good stories in that event, and some old time readers were happy to see the return of "their" heroes, even if for just a short time. The problem was that those readers wanted everything turned back to what they were used to. Personally, I think that would have been a bad idea.

I liked what I have read of DC Comics' "New52" line. They brought a lot of freshness and showed a willingness to do comics that weren't "just" super-hero books. We saw the return of horror and war comics, westerns and science fiction, as the powers that be at DC tried to regain the interest of lost readers, and gain new readers. Some of it worked, some didn't. A lot of books ended up getting cancelled because they couldn't find an audience, and the realities of post-Crash comics (even with deep corporate pockets backing the Big Two) mean that comics that once could have been given time and attention to find an audience no longer were given the chance.

This ended up creating a further disconnect between publisher and readers, as books fell to the wayside. It wasn't just DC doing this either, Marvel has had spates of cancellations of low selling books as well (particularly recently). This is just supposition on my part, based with talking to a lot of comic fans of all different walks of life over social media, but it seems to me that this is one of the lowest points for reader faith in the big comic publishers.


Over at Comic Book Resources, Johns says:
I've been a fan for years -- I have over 60,000 comics and 99 percent of them are DC Comics. I really see this as an opportunity, and like I've said before, take all the characters and thematics that we love -- from the past and the present -- and build a story that brought them all together, revealed new secrets and truths and mysteries, and moved it all ahead. Again, as someone who absolutely loves the DC Universe, to me it's maybe lost some things. Not only characters, but more intangibles. Some essence to what makes the "DC Universe" unique and brilliant and unpredictable. And every single character matters -- from Batman to Cassandra Cain to John Stewart to Saturn Girl to Blue Beetle to Lois Lane-- everyone is someone's favorite. And in comics, anything's possible.
"Everyone is someone's favorite." That right there is the bedrock of fandom, and why waves of cancellations brought dissatisfaction to readers. "Everyone is someone's favorite." This is something that I see often come up in comics conversations online, people don't feel that they should invest themselves in comics because they will probably end up being cancelled. With DC we've seen Blue Beetle, Static Shock and Jonah Hex books get caneled. Soon we will see books like Black Canary go away. Why? Because they want to bring back Birds of Prey (apparently).

I am not alone in feeling that the current (at the time of this writing) Black Canary book is pretty great. It is quirky and original, taking a character who was fairly generic in the New52 relaunch and making her interesting. The creative team found a way to make the character engaging, and something more than what she had been previously. I had always enjoyed this character, but in its 50+ years of history and stories it was typically little more than a face in a group, or part of the side story of some other character. For the first times in my decades of comic reading, I wanted to know what was going to be happening next month with Black Canary. The character became the lead in its adventures, rather than just an adjunct to another character's story.


Having Birds of Prey come back is great, particularly if it means that we will get to see a return of Lady Blackhawk to comics. But, part of my problem, part of where this disconnect between publishers and readers is that for those of us for whom Black Canary has found engagement cancelling her book so that the character can go back to being a team player is nonsensical. Women-lead comics shouldn't be a zero sum game.
It's in the same vein as "Green Lantern: Rebirth" and "The Flash: Rebirth." Some things alter and change, but it's more character-driven, and it's also more about revealing secrets and mysteries within the DC Universe about "Flashpoint" and The New 52 that are part of a bigger tapestry. A hidden and forbidden secret.
So, DC Universe Rebirth is going to be about restoring a legacy to DC Comics. We're going to get a new Justice Society book. The currently ongoing Titans Hunt mini is going to restore the classic Teen Titans to the DC Universe (I'm still not entirely sure how they're going to get around some of the changes like Cyborg being in the Justice League, but I'm guessing that he isn't going to have been a Titan now period). But, still, is it too little, too late?

A big part of the problem that DC Comics has had with issues of its own continuity have always been because the "fresh starts" have always been half steps. Whether it was Crisis On Infinite Earths, Zero Hour, Infinite Crisis or even the New52, each time there has been a reboot they have tried to make everything new and not change anything that they didn't have to change. For the New52, DC had Grant Morrison rationalize a way for a new character...who could still access the old stories (like Doomsday). In the Batman books Batman had three Robins over the course of five years, one of them dying and coming back to life. So much could have gone so simpler with a clean sweep each of these times.

But they didn't, and that is partially what brought DC to this point today.

Comics have been an important part of my life since before I could read. They've inspired many other of my hobbies throughout my life. Now I am wondering if this might now just be the jumping off point for the Big Two.

Update: DC Comics has announced the schedule for the next few months, so we know what titles are surviving and some of the new launches. None of these have announced creative teams.

June:
Rebirth Specials:
• AQUAMAN REBIRTH #1
• BATMAN REBIRTH #1
• THE FLASH REBIRTH #1
• GREEN ARROW REBIRTH #1
• GREEN LANTERNS REBIRTH #1
• SUPERMAN REBIRTH #1
• TITANS REBIRTH #1
• WONDER WOMAN REBIRTH #1

New #1 Issues (Shipping twice monthly):
• AQUAMAN #1
• BATMAN #1
• THE FLASH #1
• GREEN ARROW #1
• GREEN LANTERNS #1
• SUPERMAN #1
• WONDER WOMAN #1

New Issues (Shipping twice monthly):
• ACTION COMICS #957
• DETECTIVE COMICS #934

July
Rebirth Specials:
• BATGIRL & THE BIRDS OF PREY REBIRTH #1
• HAL JORDAN & THE GREEN LANTERN CORPS REBIRTH #1
• THE HELLBLAZER REBIRTH #1
• JUSTICE LEAGUE REBIRTH #1
• NIGHTWING REBIRTH #1
• RED HOOD & THE OUTLAWS REBIRTH #1

New #1 Issues (Shipping twice monthly):
• HAL JORDAN & THE GREEN LANTERN CORPS #1
• JUSTICE LEAGUE #1
• NIGHTWING #1

New #1 Issues (Shipping monthly):
• BATGIRL #1
• BATGIRL & THE BIRDS OF PREY #1
• THE HELLBLAZER #1
• RED HOOD & THE OUTLAWS #1
• THE SUPER-MAN #1
• TITANS #1

Fall
Rebirth Specials:
• BATMAN BEYOND REBIRTH #1
• BLUE BEETLE REBIRTH #1
• CYBORG REBIRTH #1
• DEATHSTROKE REBIRTH #1
• EARTH 2 REBIRTH #1
• SUICIDE SQUAD REBIRTH #1
• SUPERGIRL REBIRTH #1
• TEEN TITANS REBIRTH #1
• TRINITY REBIRTH #1

New #1 Issues (Shipping twice monthly):
• CYBORG #1
• DEATHSTROKE #1
• HARLEY QUINN #1
• JUSTICE LEAGUE AMERICA #1
• SUICIDE SQUAD #1

New #1 Issues (Shipping monthly):
• BATMAN BEYOND #1
• BLUE BEETLE #1
• EARTH 2 #1
• GOTHAM ACADEMY: NEXT SEMESTER #1
• SUPERGIRL #1
• SUPERWOMAN #1
• SUPER SONS #1
• TEEN TITANS #1

• TRINITY #1



Thursday, February 04, 2016

Heavy Metal Meets Big Hero Six In Skydoll

Skydoll is one of those European comics that I have always been curious about. It hits those spots for SF and cutsey that lay deep, deep inside of my soul. Now, thanks to Titans Comics, it looks like I might finally get to see what's up with it.

"Including work previously unpublished in English, Skydoll: Decade contains the first three books of the series with new lettering and translation, the 10-page "art book comic" Sky Doll #0, 12 unpublished pages from Heaven Doll, and 40 pages of tributes from artists including  Claire Wendling, Lostfish, Marguerite Sauvage, Lilidoll, Mijn Schatje, and Benjamin."

"When Noa the Sky Doll is liberated from her life of drudgery by missionaries, it turns out that she is more than just a pretty android built for pleasure. With religion, sensuality and what it means to be human all at stake, Noa must find her true purpose in life."







SKYDOLL: DECADE
Writers: Alessandro Barbucci and Barbara Canepa
Artists: Alessandro Barbucci and Barbara Canepa
Cover: Alessandro Barbucci and Barbara Canepa
Publisher: Titan Comics
Format: Hardcover
Page Count: 232
ISBN: 9781782767367
Price: $19.99
On Sale Now


Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Heavy Metal debuts on comiXology and Amazon’s Kindle Store


February 3rd, 2015 — New York, NY— Heavy Metal, comiXology and Amazon announced today a distribution agreement to sell Heavy Metal’s fan-favorite science fiction, fantasy and horror digital comics and magazine across the comiXology platform as well as Amazon’s Kindle Store. Today’s debut sees the addition of the acclaimed science fiction and fantasy anthology, as well as two new original comic series on both comiXology and the Kindle Store.

“We’re excited to finally bring longtime Heavy Metal fans a first class digital reading experience, and equally excited to introduce this classic anthology to a whole new generation of readers thanks to comiXology and Amazon,” said Heavy Metal co-CEO Jeff Krelitz. “Blowing the minds of first-time Heavy Metal readers is something that never gets old!”

“At comiXology, we’re thrilled to carry such an established publisher as Heavy Metal and we’re sure that sci-fi, fantasy, and horror comics fans everywhere feel the same,” said comiXology CEO and co-founder, David Steinberger. “Heavy Metal brings an edge to comics that we’re happy to have join us on comiXology and Kindle.”

Today’s digital debut of Heavy Metal on comiXology and the Kindle Store sees the following titles available, including two comic debuts:

  • Interceptor by Donny Cates and Dylan Burnett
  • Narcopolis based on the UK film
  • Heavy Metal #280

The Kindle Store gives readers access to millions of books on the most popular devices and platforms, including Fire tablets, Kindle e-readers, iOS, Android and more.

With over 75,000 comics, graphic novels and manga from more than 75 publishers, comiXology offers the widest selection of digital comics in the world. ComiXology’s immense catalog and cinematic Guided View reading experience make it the best digital platform for comic fans worldwide.

About Heavy Metal
Heavy Metal is an American science fiction and fantasy comics magazine, known primarily for its blend of dark fantasy/science fiction and erotica. The fourth oldest American comics publisher at nearly 40 years of age, some of the greatest European and American comic book writers and artists in history have appeared in the pages of Heavy Metal. Since the magazine’s inception in 1977, the Heavy Metal banner has been seen in video games, television, and a 1981 animated feature film. In 2015 the brand established it’s first-ever line of traditional monthly American comics.

About comiXology
ComiXology, an Amazon.com, Inc. subsidiary (NASDAQ:AMZN), has revolutionized the comic book and graphic novel industry by delivering a cloud-based digital comics platform that makes discovering, buying and reading comics more fun than ever before. ComiXology's Guided View reading technology transforms the comic book medium into an immersive and cinematic experience, helping comiXology become a top ten grossing iPad app in 2011 and 2012 and the top grossing non-game iPad app in 2012 and 2013. Offering the broadest library of comic book content from over 75 publishers - and independent creators as well - comiXology will not stop until everyone on the face of the planet has become a comic book fan. ComiXology is based in New York City, with operations in Seattle, Los Angeles and Paris. For more information visit www.comixology.com.

About Amazon
Amazon.com opened on the World Wide Web in July 1995. The company is guided by four principles: customer obsession rather than competitor focus, passion for invention, commitment to operational excellence, and long-term thinking. Customer reviews, 1-Click shopping, personalized recommendations, Prime, Fulfillment by Amazon, AWS, Kindle Direct Publishing, Kindle, Fire tablets, Fire TV, Amazon Echo, and Alexa are some of the products and services pioneered by Amazon. For more information, visit www.amazon.com/about.


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

One Million Moms Goes After Olive Garden Over Fox's Lucifer Show


This has been all over much of the comics-related geek media, but the organization known as One Million Moms has targeted restaurant chain The Olive Garden over its sponsorship of the new Fox TV show Lucifer. Lucifer the TV show is in turn based upon the successful Vertigo Comics comic that itself spun out of the even more successful Sandman comic by Neil Gaiman and a variety of artists.

This organization has previously attempted boycotts against the 21st century when they fought against a gay male character in Archie Comics, railed against both Marvel and DC Comics for including gay characters in their children's entertainment and an "adult" version of The Muppets.

One thing that you will note that is in common with all of this organization's "campaigns" would be a lack of success. I think that is is interesting that they target The Olive Garden, while leaving both Fox and DC Comics (parent company of publisher Vertigo Comics alone). Part of this is because Fox was targeted when the show was announced...to a resounding lack of success...and DC Comics have been target any number of times by anti-diversity groups (also to a resounding lack of success).

The thing is that inside of the geek communities, we have similar regressive elements to deal with. We have to deal with misogyny from within our communities, most particularly those people who think that they are being helpful to "lady gamers." Every community has its share of stupid, but perhaps because of social fallacies, they get a gimme because "he's a nice guy" or "you just don't know him" or any other number of reasons. As a middle-aged white guy, it is particularly dismaying to see so much of this coming from my particular demographic. I will admit that I have not always been the most enlightened of people, and that I have made mistakes, but it would scare me if I still held beliefs now that I held in my childhood, or even 20 or 30 years ago.

The slurs against gays that were once considered okay, are not okay. Treating woman as if they need guidance from men is not okay. Being an ass to someone because of the color of their skin, or because of their belief system is not okay. More and more anymore, I wonder why it seems that so many people are still struggling with the idea that people are just people. Yes, it is easier to hold onto old views, old ideas, but fighting against the changes in the world, or better saying that people who are against your archaic views are the actual problems, isn't going to magically roll things back and make it 1972 again.

Fanaticism, regardless of the group that it comes from, is not pleasant. We need to do better, we need to treat people better than this.



Monday, July 06, 2015

James Bond Returns To Comics With Writing From Warren Ellis

This popped up in the email inbox this morning.
Dynamite proudly announces that fan-favorite author Warren Ellis will be writing the James Bond 007 ongoing comic book series, the first to appear in over two decades. James Bond 007 is scheduled for release in November 2015, featuring interior artwork by Jason Masters (Batman Incorporated, Guardians of the Galaxy).
It sounds like it will be some cool work:
The first six-issue story arc in the James Bond 007 comic book series will be entitled VARGR. James Bond returns to London after a mission of vengeance in Helsinki, to take up the workload of a fallen 00 Section agent... but something evil is moving through the back streets of the city, and sinister plans are being laid for Bond in Berlin.
This sort of "hard man" character isn't anything new for Ellis, who helped to popularize it in super-hero comics with characters like The Midnighter, and in his non-super-hero books like Red, Desolation Jones or Jack Cross. The James Bond DNA, whether Ellis realizes it or not, has seeped into so many of his creation that it only seems natural that he would take a swing at writing the character itself.

We'll see what happens this fall when the first issue hits the stand, but it sounds interesting and doing James Bond is definitely smack in the middle of Ellis' comfort zone as a creator.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

R.I.P. Herb Trimpe

For comic fans of a certain age, artist Herb Trimpe was everywhere, and for those of us who were fans of the Shogun Warriors and Godzilla, Trimpe was a defining part of our childhoods.
Herb Trimpe was born in 1939 and raised in Peekskill, New York, where he graduated from Lakeland High School. Of his childhood art and comics influences, he said in 2002, "I really loved the Disney stuff, Donald Duck and characters like that. Funny-animal stuff, that was kind of my favorite, and I liked to draw that kind of thing. And I also liked ... Plastic Man. ... I loved comics since I was a little kid, but I was actually more interested in syndicating a comic strip than working in comics." As well, "I was a really big fan of EC comics and [artist] Jack Davis."
In the 1960s, during the period known as the Silver Age of Comics, Trimpe was assigned to pencil what became his signature character, the Hulk. Beginning with pencil-finishes over Marie Severin layouts in The Incredible Hulk vol. 2, #106 (Aug. 1968), he went on to draw the character for a virtually unbroken run of over seven years, through issue #142 (Aug. 1971), then again from #145–193 (Nov. 1971 – Nov. 1975). Additionally, Trimpe penciled the covers of five Hulk annuals (1969, 1971–72, 1976–77, titled King-Size Special! The Incredible Hulk except for #4, The Incredible Hulk Special), and both penciled and inked the 39-page feature story of The Incredible Hulk Annual #12 (Aug. 1983). Most writers on The Incredible Hulk heavily relied on Trimpe for the plot as well; in most cases he was not even given a written plot, and was left to draw the issue after only a brief story conference. Trimpe has said that he had no difficulty with this level of collaboration, and in fact enjoyed it.
Among the characters co-created by Trimpe during his run on the title were Jim Wilson in issue #131 (Sept. 1970) and Doc Samson in #141 (July 1971).[13] During his time on the comic, he became the first artist to draw for publication the character Wolverine, who would go on to become one of Marvel's most popular. The character, designed by Marvel de facto art director John Romita, Sr., was an antagonist for the Hulk, introduced in the last panel of The Incredible Hulk vol. 2, #180 (Oct. 1974) and making his first full appearance the following issue.[14] Trimpe in 2009 said he "distinctly remembers" Romita's sketch, and that, "The way I see it, [Romita and writer Len Wein] sewed the monster together and I shocked it to life! ... It was just one of those secondary or tertiary characters, actually, that we were using in that particular book with no particular notion of it going anywhere. We did characters in The [Incredible] Hulk all the time that were in [particular] issues and that was the end of them." Trimpe co-created nearly all of the characters introduced during his run on The Incredible Hulk, with Wolverine being a rare exception.
I was lucky that I was able to meet Herb Trimpe a few years ago at a local comic show in Tampa and thank him for everything that he did for my childhood. I was also able to get him to sign an issue of the Shogun Warriors comic for me.

Herb Trimpe drew The Hulk for forever, and even illustrated the Hulk story written by Harlan Ellison. He also drew the first appearance of Wolverine. His fingerprints are on the Marvel Universe until the end of time.

He will be missed.

Over on Twitter, writer Ron Marz made a couple of tweets that should be a reminder to comic fans.


Friday, March 06, 2015

Carpe Noctem From Hashtag Comics [NSFW Previews]

Hashtag Comics is a new publisher who is sem-local to me. I met writer Martin Dunn last year at the Tampa Bay Comic-Con, and now we run into each other at local events and comic stores. After running into each other recently at Heroes Haven over in Tampa, he told me about a new publisher that he was involved with, and a book that he was writing for them. Pixel crossed the internet and I found myself with some previews to read. Hashtag Comics has an interesting approach as a publisher because they publish comics geared towards a more adult audience, as well as more family friendly titles as well.

Carpe Noctem is on the less family-friendly, more "adult" end of their publishing spectrum. The first issue was raw, and I found it very reminiscent of 90s Horror Comics, but in the hands of Dunn and artist Derrick Fish the story manages to rise above many of the cliches of this particularly genre/style of comic book story.

There is blood, and violence and sex. This is a story about vampires, werewolves and other things that go "bump" in the night, and telling stories about these sorts of creatures would be difficult without at least the blood and violence. I would be disappointed in a vampire comic that didn't have blood in it.

Carpe Noctem also has some intriguing concepts in it, ideas that elevate it about the average. The Auditors are ancient, eldritch beings that manage to avoid the Lovecraftian cliches that usually come with "Old Ones" and "Eldritch Beings" in comics, or a lot of horror for that matter. It is the task of the Auditors to keep the supernatural world a secret, often through dark means. In this first issue we are introduced to Chelsea, who is going to be the viewpoint character for the readers, the one through whom the supernatural world is revealed.

[Previews and more adult material after the jump]

Thursday, February 19, 2015

A Dynamite Comics Mega Post


There have been a lot of announcements this week coming from Dynamite Entertainment about upcoming comics. There's a lot of cool stuff coming, so let's do a quick breakdown.

Dynamite Entertainment is proud to announce the May 2015 launch of Swords of Sorrow, the genre-spanning crossover event featuring an all-star line-up of female authors, headlined by Gail Simone (Batgirl, Birds of Prey).  Debuting with a core Swords of Sorrow series by Simone, the crossover continues throughout May with tie-in titles including the Swords of Sorrow: Vampirella / Jennifer Blood miniseries written by Nancy A. Collins (Vampirella, Swamp Thing); the Swords of Sorrow: Chaos special by Mairghread Scott (Transformers: Windblade); and the Swords of Sorrow: Masquerade / Kato special by G. Willow Wilson (Ms. Marvel) and Erica Schultz (M3). Subsequent months will debut related projects by additional female authors, including Leah Moore, Marguerite Bennett, Emma Beeby, and Mikki Kendall. The crossover event brings together Dynamite's wide roster of female characters, including the iconic Red Sonja, Dejah Thoris (of the popular Edgar Rice Burroughs' Warlord of Mars franchise), and Vampirella.

Gail Simone, who has been planning the project since her involvement was announced in July, says, "Here's the thing: I love pulp adventure, always have. But as male-dominated as comics have often been, the pulp adventure world seems to be even more so.  Most of the big name stars and creators are dudes, and that's fine, it's great. But it hit me... what if that wasn't the case? What if adventure pulps had also been written with female readers in mind, and awesome female characters in the spotlight? That's the scenario we are imagining, and it's just been a blast. The key players are Red Sonja, Vampirella, and Dejah Thoris, but it's such an epic-spanning, world-hopping event that we also have Kato, Jungle Girl, Lady Rawhide, Jennifer Blood, and so many more. It's the crossover I dreamed of when I was a kid, and now we get to make it happen."

Simone's core Swords of Sorrow story serves as the starting point for a new universe of pulp adventure. Illustrated by Sergio Davila (Legenderry: A Steampunk Adventure), the series features the supernatural heroine Vampirella, Martian princess Dejah Thoris, crimson-tressed swordswoman Red Sonja, martial artist Kato (from filmmaker Kevin Smith's reboot of The Green Hornet), primal warrior Jungle Girl, and many more. Drawn from a dozen worlds and eras to face off against a legendary evil that threatens their homelands, Dynamite's fiercest females must overcome their differences to harness the power of mystical blades -- the eponymous Swords of Sorrow -- in final conflict.

Gail Simone also serves as the architect for all storylines tied into the event, providing direction to her personally selected team of writers. "We got the best writers around, gave them a fun combination of characters and just let them go wild," says Simone. "It's creators like G. Willow Wilson, Marguerite Bennett, Nancy A. Collins and more, with book titles like Vampirella vs. Jennifer Blood, Kato vs. Masquerade, and Red Sonja vs. Jungle Girl. More about these tag teams will be coming soon, but it's just a ridiculous amount of fun to set these characters against each other, and I'm very proud of the astounding team of writers, who I hand-picked from among the very best of new female adventure writers. There's never been a crossover event in comics like this, ever."











Dynamite Entertainment, a leading publisher in the comics and graphic novel industry, is proud to announce that the all-new adventures featuring Will Eisner's legendary crimefighter Denny Colt, The Spirit, will be written by the award-winning comic creator Matt Wagner. Marking the beginning of a partnership between Dynamite and the Eisner Estate, the new series will celebrate seventy-five years of The Spirit, and its #1 launch issue will feature cover artwork from all-star illustrators Alex Ross, Eric Powell, and series writer Matt Wagner himself.

The Spirit stands among the most iconic and influential characters in the industry with a publishing history in newspapers and comic books lasting generations.  Many of the most accomplished creators in the field have carried the torch that Will Eisner set ablaze, including Darwyn Cooke, Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Dave Gibbons, and Joe R. Lansdale, just to name a few. Matt Wagner, whose long career in comics has yielded a vast library of critically acclaimed titles, takes the reins on The Spirit for the very first time, ensuring that Eisner's creation endures as we enter its fourth quarter-century.

"I discovered The Spirit via the black-and-white, magazine-sized reprints of the mid-70s. It was the first time that I truly perceived sequential narrative as a legitimate art form, of the immense creative power of a comic-artist in his prime," says Wagner. "I can honestly say that seeing and experiencing The Spirit in my formative years ultimately led to my career as a comics author. It's such an immense thrill and a professional honor to have the chance to contribute to Will Eisner's legacy on the milestone 75th anniversary of his most influential and iconic character."

Matt Wagner is the accomplished creator of Grendel and Mage, a guiding creative force behind such mainstream blockbusters as Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman: Trinity and Batman: The Monster Men, and no stranger to pulp noir, courtesy of his groundbreaking work on such Dynamite titles as The Shadow: Year One, Green Hornet: Year One, and Zorro. He recently set Hollywood abuzz with the launch of Django/Zorro, a comic book series co-written with influential filmmaker Quentin Tarantino that teams two Western icons in an official sequel to the hit film Django Unchained.

Dynamite Entertainment is proud to announce that Mark Waid, one of the comic book industry's most accomplished writers, will be scripting the upcoming Justice, Inc.: The Avenger series. Joined by Dynamite artist Ronilson Freire, Waid will expand the Justice, Inc. universe of pulp heroes that include Condé Nast's The Shadow and Doc Savage. The new series will debut with a #1 issue in June 2015 and focus on wealthy industrialist Richard Henry Benson, the tragic, relentless vigilante and master of disguise known as The Avenger.

In Justice, Inc.: The Avenger #1, Waid and Freire continue the adventures of Richard Henry Benson, a victim of a criminal attack that left his facial features forever deadened, gray in color and incapable of showing genuine emotion. And yet, the harsh stroke of fate gave him the ability to mold his face to match the appearance of anyone... a skill he could employ as the ultimate master of disguise. Driven to mete out retribution against those who would prey on the innocent, The Avenger finds himself on a collision course with a villain even more secretive, brutal, and unrelenting than himself: an Invisible Man.

Mark Waid's participation in the Avenger launch fulfills a longtime writing goal; he says, "Moreso than The Shadow, moreso than Doc Savage, the Avenger has always, always been my favorite pulp hero, and I've been aching to write this story since I was eleven years old. What a blast! Having the opportunity to dive into the psyche of a crimefighter as unique as Benson has been a lifelong dream -- I've been thinking about what his life and mind would be like ever since I read my first Avenger paperback back in the day. How does a man live his life when he has nothing to live for but justice? How does he navigate in a world of life and love and joy when his own features are frozen and stiff like putty, mirroring his cold, dead insides? There's so much here to unpack."

With over twenty-five years of experience in his field, Mark Waid has written a wider variety of well-known characters than any other American comics author, from Superman to the Justice League to Spider-Man to Archie and hundreds of others.  His award-winning graphic novel with artist Alex Ross, Kingdom Come, is one of the best-selling comics of all time. Waid has also written two well-received titles from Dynamite Entertainment, Mark Waid's The Green Hornet and Doctor Spektor: Master of the Occult.

"Since striking up our great partnership with Condé Nast a few years back, the team here at Dynamite has looked forward to the day that The Avenger would have his own series," says Nick Barrucci, CEO and Publisher of Dynamite Entertainment. "We've been waiting for quite some time for the perfect writer to helm the project, and Mark Waid IS that perfect writer. He has a profound appreciation for the character, his history, and the genre of pulp adventure. Retailers will take heart that we've placed one of the most innovative, marquee writers on the project, and fans will surely be awestruck by the twists and turns in each and every Waid-penned issue of Justice Inc.: The Avenger."

Justice, Inc.: The Avenger #1 will be released with a number of cover options for fans to enjoy, illustrated by many of the comic industry's most recognizable artists. The first issue will feature variant editions by Alex Ross (Kingdom Come), Walter Simonson (The Mighty Thor), Francesco Francavilla (Afterlife with Archie), Marc Laming (All-New Invaders), and Barry Kitson (The Amazing Spider-Man).

The Avenger originally debuted in September 1939 as the lead character in an eponymous pulp magazine, published by Street and Smith Publications. Writer Paul Ernst is credited with creating many of the earliest Avenger tales (published under the house writer pseudonym "Kenneth Robeson"), blending the qualities of contemporary pulp heroes like Doc Savage and The Shadow, as well as his own creations that included Seekay, The Wraith, Dick Bullitt, Old Stone Face, the Gray Marauder, and Karlu the Mystic. The Avenger appeared in numerous prose novels, radio programs, and comic books throughout the decades, most recently in Dynamite Entertainment's 2014 revival of the Justice, Inc. series written by acclaimed author Michael Uslan and illustrated by Giovanni Timpano.










Saturday, February 07, 2015

Why I Love Superhero RPGs

Comic books have always been my thing. I got into them before I could even read. When I was still a toddler, my parents owned a couple of convenience stores, and they had those wonderful, mythical spinner racks in them. The draw of the brightly colored comics was too much for my young mind, and I was hooked. Even before I could read them.

I really don't know what the first comics that I "read" were, but from vague childish memories I am pretty sure that The Avengers was on that list, most likely (due to my age) something during the Roy Thomas years.

Within a few years, I was going full tilt into comics. The 70s were a great time to get into comics. Marvel was doing some of the best work of their history with creators like Roy Thomas, Steve Englehart, Gerry Conway, Steve Gerber, Neal Adams and Jim Starlin among so many others. I do think that DC Comics came along and stole a lot of the thunder of Marvel in the 80s and 90s, with more cutting edge storytelling, but that is a matter of opinion.

I love comics. I love all sorts of comics. I love mainstream super-hero stuff. I love alt comix. I love the indie books (stuff from the 80s...wow). I love the foreign stuff. France has had some great SF comics over the years. 2000 AD and/or Pat Mills have revolutionized the British comics scene. If you have an interest in a genre or type of storytelling, there is probably a comic for it. And that is an awesome thing.


This is where I have always fallen a little out of step with other gamers, I'm just not as big of a fan of fantasy or SF stuff as I have been of comics. Luckily there's always been a strong fantasy tradition in comics (whether any number of Conan comics or quirkier fare like Stalker from Paul Levitz and Steve Ditko), so I've had that to keep me afloat, but I have never really had much of an interest in fantasy literature outside of a couple of authors. I tried some of the "Appendix N" writers with mixed success.

Then in 1985, I stopped playing D&D. It has just never really engaged me in the way that other games have since. Although at the time, if it hadn't been for the original Marvel Super-Heroes game and Call of Cthulhu, I may have stopped gaming altogether.


The Marvel game not only appealed to my being a fan of comics (even though by the time the game came out I had switched my allegiance to DC Comics), but it had that breathtaking simplicity that people talk about when they wax nostalgic over the early editions of D&D. Yes, there were other super-hero RPGs, but the only other that was as fun for me would have been the British Golden Heroes, put out by Games Workshop in the later 80s. The sensibility of that game was so in sync with the British comics of the time, and the American comics that they would later inspire, that the game was really ahead of its time.

There was also the college fling with Palladium's Heroes Unlimited, a game that I also have enjoyed over the years, but only when I need that "class and level" scratch itched.


Why is it that I keep coming back to the Marvel RPG? I think that it hits that personal sweet spot of simplicity and robustness. The game's underlying mechanics look back to an earlier era where a more freeform and imaginative route was encouraged, in that time before people thought that something not addressed directly by the rules of a game meant that the game couldn't do that thing. But mostly, I like the fact that comics, and super-hero comics more specifically, are about just about anything: science fiction, romance, adventure fiction, mythology, horror, magic, intrigue, espionage. All of these things are in super-hero comics, and all of those things can and should be in super-hero RPGs. A good super-hero RPG can be about anything, and for me that is what the Classic Marvel Super-Heroes RPG is. A good super-hero RPG that can do anything.

I'm not going to lie and say that it is a perfect RPG. There's no such animal. What it is, however, is something that is nearly perfect for me. It has flexibility and variety. It holds up fairly well at the high and low ends of the power spectrum for super-heroes. Most super-hero RPGs, I think, hold up better at the higher end of things than the "street level," but there are work arounds for a game like this, and that is why I like it. It has a good framework that I can hack into the game that I want at the table. That is really all that I can ask out of an RPG.

It is true that this game gave my friends and I hours and hours of enjoyment back in college. Everything from random, stupid fights to intricate intercharacter interactions. The rules didn't always support what we wanted to do, but they didn't get in the way of them either. And that, for me, is the point behind an RPG.



Monday, December 01, 2014

Magic Monday: Valiant's Punk Mambo

Magic Monday is going to be a blog feature that probably won't be as frequent as I want it to be, but it is what it is. In this feature I'll talk about new and old comics that deal with magical themes, whether horror, monsters, paranormal romance, spell casters or any other sort of magical features.

Punk Mambo is a one shot special from Valiant Comics that features a "punk" voodoo hougan, that apparently spun out of Valiant's Shadowman comic. I haven't kept up with Shadowman, so this issue is really all that I know about the character.

Written by Peter Milligan (Shade The Changing Man, Justice League Dark, Stormwatch, HellblazerEnigma and many, many other comics), with art by Robert Gill (Eternal Warrior, Armor Hunters: Harbinger and Grimm Fairy Tales: Alice In Wonderland), my first impression of the book was that it was the 90s again and I was reading one of the books from that early, wonderful burst of creativity that us Vertigo Comics. Punk Mambo could have easily been a Vertigo comic along side Shade or Animal Man or Swamp Thing. Peter Milligan writes an engaging story that doesn't need the character's previous appearances to explain it.





The art by Gill is evocative and draws you into the story, creating the character's world and breathing life into it. As good as the writing is, I don't think that this story would be as interesting without Gill's art. He makes you feel as if you are in a swamp and if you are in London, making each a vivid place and as unique as they should be.

While we don't really get an explanation of how a British punk ends up in the swamps of Louisiana, we do get a look at the character's voyage from Victoria, a rich kid in a private affluent to a gutterpunk on the streets of 70s London to her becoming the Voodooista Punk Mambo. I may not be the only one who saw a swipe at John Constantine in "Joe Mayhem," the punk voodoo guy who sets Victoria along her voodoo path.

Fans of magic and the supernatural in comics should enjoy this comic. The biggest "flaw" for me was the fact that by the time I reached the end of the 22 pages I was sad that this was not the first issue of an ongoing series. Spoiler alert: It should be!

I am glad to see that Valiant isn't just living in the past and spinning out past glories into new franchises. Creating new characters like this and expanding the corners of a vibrant and exciting comic universe means that the setting will not stagnant and we will see many more new stories and characters to come.