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Archive for April, 2016

Dramacon

bestindexI admit it. I’m a big girl.

I’ve made no secret that I wholly lifted the concept for my novel CONundrum from this, though past the premise the stories aren’t even  close. The idea of a rom com at an annual convention though is just brilliant. It appeals to me at a very basic level because I’ve been going to conventions since I was 12. I started with Star Trek cons and moved on to horror. These days it’s evenly balanced between horror and comicons, with the occasional anime cone thrown in, but really, no matter what the subject matter is, the conventions experience is universal. I knew exactly what they are talking about in this series and honestly, this happens. You go to the same con every year, you keep running into the same people. You occasionally hobnob with the guests at the bar or in the index2restaurant. You might even fall in love (I’ve been to two weddings at Cinema Wasteland alone).

The story isn’t just a romance though, I’m not that big a girl. It’s honestly funny. You can tell the author has logged a whole bunch of hours behind a con table. The humor is respectful. She doesn’t make fun of the con experience, we’re in on the joke.

I initially found this in three single digest volumes at the Library, and then immediately ran over to Borders and bought them.  Since then it’s been collected into one volume with a little bit of extra content. Go for that one, and if it’s no longer on the shelves, hit up Amazon. If you’ve ever spent time at a sci-fi, comic or anime con (especially if you were or are younger), trust me. This story is for you.


Green Lantern

definitive

My personal definitive way of drawing iconic characters

Green lantern is based, not so much on an artist rendition (though it’d be Dave Gibbons if anyone) but rather on the Super Powers figure – the first action figure I ever had. My friend Johnny Em likes to call this “Heroic proportions”. Solid, but achievable.

gl pencils gl inked gl color

 


New art

Banner small dark copyI’m kind of in limbo for the next few weeks, so I figured it was time to get started drawing some characters and bulding modles for the Violent Blue spin off – hopefully we can get something launched by Fall. Here’s the first couple of sketches, some familiar faces, and some not so familiar. Some age as well, appropriate considering this is taking place about two years after the end of Violent Blue.

13096270_1170553056322449_6798392342234286616_n 13087426_1170553022989119_8993483175362479346_n img_1567

Having fun drawing Chloe’s husband though. He’s only ever been described in the novel. Going to be nice to bring him in a comic story proper.img_1563

Man, those sandals may have been a mistake. Toes are NO fun to draw…but it just fits Jamies personality so well…


How to fix a corrupted user profile in Windows

techtipsWhen I’m not writing comics or watching terrible films I also work as an IT consultant. Here’s a few things I’ve learned over the last 17 years.

Problem:

The User Profile Service failed the logon, loging on with a temporary account

Solution:

In the past, we’ve “fixed” this by creating a new profile and copying all the data from the old one (in the users or documents and settings folder) over to it. However, you can try this registry fix first;

Step 1. To fix the user profile, click Start and type regedit into the search box and press Enter.

Step 2. Registry Editor will launch and you need to navigate to the following key:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList

Step 3. Click each S-1-5 folder and double-click the ProfileImagePath entry to find out which user account it relates to


Happy birthday to the Palace

palace banner13055556_10153569711327218_8178519285172199579_nIt’s been one of my favorite places in the world since I was a teenager. I still remember the awe I felt that first time as I got just into the lobby. Those antechambers alone are impressive. Further in though, the sprawling ornate expanse of the theatre itself stunned me.

I’ve been there for plays, concerts, and a great many films. It’s where I saw the Star Wars special editions, where I went to see Man of Steel and the Star Trek Reboot. I saw House of Wax with Vincent Price there. I actually headed out there to see Thor – not because I had any interest in the movie, but simply because it was a good excuse to go out and spend some time out at the Palace. In my 20’s I took dates 13001263_10153569710802218_5952734321591005317_nthere, particularly if I wanted to impress them. It’s where I saw barbershop quartets ( I remember going with my parents to see our friends Jim Heath and Rick Asberry sing), as well as plays and community theatre. I saw Brigadoon there. My wife and I picked up our friend’s daughter Dara and brought her out to see High School Musical on stage there (She was obsessed with the film at the time- both the idea of seeing it live and the splendor of the theatre itself blew her mind). When I was younger, I remember peaking around the corner during play intermissions and11222166_1052236374820785_7702178146771162340_n seeing the actors in the courtyard.

This is where my daughter Lydia saw The Wizard of OZ for the first time.

Seeing films on the big screen – particuarly ones that I simply never could have seen when they were originally running has always been one of my favorite things. It’s been fun to see that trend creep over to the palace a bit (and nice to not have to drive out to the Cedar Lee in Cleveland Heights for it!). Psycho. I saw Psycho for the very first time here.

Back in my acting days I always wanted to preform on that stage. I’ve done shows in theatres all around the area from the Middle Ridge theatre with the Workshop Players, to the Old Town Hall theatre to Huntington 12190022_1062983890412700_1466632364814610969_nPlayhouse to Stocker center, but never the Palace. I just never got the chance before I retired from theatre. The closest I’ve gotten was doing a costume contest up there dressed as Freddy Kruger last year. The view from the stage is everything I imagined it would be.

The restoration always seemed to be going on. The platforms and scaffolding almost became a part of the theatre, but when it finally was finished, the walls and the crests and the details along every ridge of the auditorium shone with a color and a light that I had never realized possible.13012849_10153569707412218_2051608072534013857_n12549085_1104892132888542_5771569648120947202_nIt’s easily the equal of the grand theatres in downtown Cleveland. As much as I love the Capitol out in the Gordon Square area and the Apollo in Oberlin, they can only aspire to the grand look and feel of the Palace. A  few months ago I went with a group for their screening of Reservoir Dogs. One of my friends from Lakewood who does charity work in this area was stunned, he’d never know that this place existed.

This morning I saw the following on Facebook, and it was too good not to share.

13007089_10153569716742218_4935698721147044357_n13010763_10153569707367218_3762879178007050550_n88 years ago today the Lorain Palace Theater first opened its doors as patrons flocked into the Palace’s 1720 upholstered leather seats to watch a talking movie for the first time and were treated to a “film resume of world events.” They viewed a comedy and novelty reel, followed by Syd Sampliner and his Palace Concert Orchestra, and three acts of vaudeville. The spotlight then moved to the Mighty Wurlitzer Organ as it rose from below the stage, thrilling the audience with its pulsating crescendos. Finally, the new film – a pre-release of Paramount’s silent comic film “Something Always Happens” starring Neil Hamilton and Esther Ralston – flashed on the screen. The program 12998703_10153569709782218_1542683696906423638_nended with a finale by the Palace Concert Orchestra Theater. The opening night took over eight months to program and was done so by the Variety Amusement Company which owned and operated the Palace for many years.

Now 88 years later – and thanks to the tireless efforts of so many Board members, staffers, and volunteers over the past 40 years – she STILL stands as the Grand Ol’ Lady of downtown Lorain!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY LORAIN PALACE THEATER – may she live well past 100!!!

13015622_10153569709827218_5601799973783474073_n13062521_10153569711637218_3527685028310096596_n 13062367_10153569711437218_5093149859061841903_n 13043626_10153569706882218_5978176168298928021_n 12991005_10153569707012218_8472791240414222664_n12998589_10153569711972218_7786250475545226014_n 13006588_10153569711672218_1482915051595027469_n 12524172_10153569710817218_1388784579331465301_n 13007307_10153569710652218_7525541347732921180_n 12993347_10153569710207218_7927213873509778609_n 13006698_10153569710137218_4498309500650355961_n 13000157_10153569710037218_6312608255857544653_n 12993494_10153569711087218_1932576352605962457_n 13043546_10153569710797218_4865869997719683605_n 13010786_10153569710477218_3767237399131633897_n 13015693_10153569709832218_7460223821998890193_n 13043676_10153569706817218_3024689281021542724_n

palace-map

The shining 1997

remakesThe_Shining_(miniseries)The biggest problem with the shining is that there are two distinct entities. The film and the book, and they are connected only by the same title the same setting and a few character names. That’s really where the similarity ends. If I were Stephen King I could see how I could be upset about Kubrick’s handling of the film as well. The Shining film never intended to be the book, and in many ways it lacks the depth and character of the book while being a brilliant film standing on its own. What was Kings solution? It was a six hour miniseries. The television Shining was inevitably going to be compared to the Kubrick Shining, indeed the Kubrick film has reached just as many people if not more than the original novel did. So the TV Shining indexneed to really… shine… to overcome this. The casting of Steve Webber may be a misstep, his face was just too recognizable from Wings. He acquitted himself well however and managed to really showcase that gradual transition between a person who is normal at the begining of the story, into someone completely crazy.

In the TV miniseries we are really MV5BMTg5MjQyNDgxNl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMjE1MDc2MQ@@._V1_treated full on to the villain of the piece. That is to say Horace Durwent. And the problem here is we are really just trading one ghost for another. The absence of Lloyd and Grady(not a complete absence but a reduction in the roles that is) is very keenly felt. Such ghosts were very eerily realized in the film version.  Durwent on the other hand is poorly realized. When he looks normal he’s fine but the story calls for him to become more ghost-like as the series goes on and while it’s an effect of make up rather than CG, it’s poorly made. This should not be in full light and I’m never convinced that he is a ghost but rather he always feels like a guy in a rubber mask which completely undermines his menace. Lighting in general is a problem. This is definitely a studio job, without enough time to really light this set correctly so we miss a lot of the gloom, a lot of the atmosphere thatcourtlandmead the Overlook really needs to be a frightening place to exist.

By far however the greatest detriment to this film is Courtland Mead, who plays Danny Torrance. This bland derelicts runt cannot deliver a convincing line read to save his life and this is a big problem because the film revolves around him. He is the single greatest drag on this film and I don’t have any idea how this kid get cast.

The other real drag on this is the use of pre-matrix CGI. There are references in the book to the topiaries that come to life and sneak up shining-1997-miniseries-jack-torrance-hedge-animals-topiary-steven-webberon you. The concept is  terrifying in the book but they act similarly to the weeping angels, in that they only move when you do not see them. You can hear them but as long as you watdch them you’re okay. In the TV series we see them, and it’s awful. Seriously, this could’ve been far more easily done by creating some hollow topiaries and moving them between camera shots, or if you are in that insisted on using CGI, use still shots overlayed on the frame. No movement – ever. Just sound, it would have been ten times more terrifying.
That goes for the scene with the firehoses well. I realize the fire hose  turning into a snake is one of the images that originally prompted King to write the story but the CGI just looks so poor and ages so badly that it’s laughable. A practical face on the hose on invisible thread filmed in reverse probably would’ve looked equally bad but it would have aged better and would be better accepted today.

Ultimately the problem with Kings shining is one of scope; trying to do too much too fast with two little. If you go back and revisit this reboot it if you still stretch this prehaps even as much as 10 hours but I’d prefer to see one hour per episode instead of two and take more time during production for proper setups and proper lighting and perhaps even better Danny Torrance. It might not bring it up to the same standard as the Kubrick film but it would at least make it worth defending and isn’t that the entire point of these reboots?


(Re)visiting X-Men

comics

dc expirimentalI think we’ve pretty well established that I am a DC person. I have always been a DC partisan. I think a lot of it has to do with when I really came in to comics – those years in the late 80s especially for a fascinating time for DC where they were dabbling in deconstruction long before it was fashionable. There were new prestige 12990856_1162340130477075_5221927102289294111_nprojects coming out it seemed, every month (books like the ones pictured above)– and I would gaze at them longingly in the ads that sat in the back of my Star Trek and Superman books. These were very hit or miss, but they were daring. Vertigo came around and changed everything, sorting all of that sort of thing into one place, and in some ways it feels like it tamed those tendencies. It’s certainly redirected them.

Still, even within the mainstream titles things felt different – like they were growing up. I saw themes and elements in Superman that I didn’t remember being there in the silver age, Batman was more violent, the JLI bickered and were dysfunctional – it all felt like DC was really trying to focus on writing and storytelling in an era that, as we rode into the 90s, seemed increasingly focused on art over a story – with superstars like McFarlane and Liefield creating a house style at Marvel that would eventually migrate over to Image… But never seemed to affect DC.

13015142_1162340050477083_3546158498580389158_nThe point being – I never read X-Men. Even when I was a young kid, picking up Spiderman and Superman comics, I always avoided X-Men. Something about the pointyness of their costumes always bothered me – it’s a crazy aesthetic peeve, but it’s pervasive in the 80s X books. The shoulders of Colossus costume, Nightcrawlers too– Jean Grey’s mask and wolverines whole outfit… So many points you could cut yourself just by looking at them! There was a exception, I do remember finding a copy of the Asgard wars and really enjoying it… But it was an anomaly. I was still by and large, reading DC comics even 12974426_1162340137143741_6960391579557794471_nwhen this volume fell in my lap. It had the advantage of featuring the New Mutants, which was an idea I really loved. Even though I wasn’t a fan of Marvel and X-Men, I was aware of the distinction between the main team, and the team of students – in fact it would be the gateway for me to enter that universe later on.

Asgard Wars also had the great advantage of introducing me to some of my favorite characters in the X-Men universe – in particular, Kitty’s dragon named Lockheed. Even without knowing much more about him then that particular story, I would be doodling and cartooning him for the next 10 years… Going so far as to have one of my birthday cakes done in the shape of his 13015262_1162340033810418_871404150190795508_ncharacter. Is it wrong that I was far more amused and intrigued by Lockheed then I was by Kitty? It kind of shows my complete disconnect from X-Men as I was growing up.

The other character that I fell in love with in Asgard Wars was Warlock. He is written and drawn in such a fascinating way throughout this entire story – quirky and funny and unpredictable. I would go on to collect tons of New Mutants later on in my life, always looking to recreate some of that same feeling of fun and whimsy that I got when I first read this book. They never quite found his voice again though. I was always disappointed that no one else quite captured how much fun this character could be and I have never loved him as much as I do in this book.

Me feeling dissapointed that Warlock isn't nearly as interesting in any of these as he was in Asgard Wars

Me feeling dissapointed that Warlock isn’t nearly as interesting in any of these as he was in Asgard Wars

Still, other than this I was not reading X-Men. I had a friend back in high school, whose name was Tim – he didn’t read any other comics but X-Men… And he had 13007092_1162340037143751_5833520867548055388_nbeen reading them for probably 10 years or more. He spoke fondly of it and had a real commitment to the series that I just didn’t understand.

It was about this time, the very early 90s, that I finally found myself dabbling. The Jim Lee run had exploded, and the cartoon was right around the corner, paving the way for what is arguably the most recognizable version of these characters since the brown suit Wolverine Claremont Era.

It started, as I mentioned with New Mutants, although at that point they were no longer the New Mutants – so rather it began with X-Force. It wasn’t the first issue, I believe we were somewhere around issue 19… A good jumping on point, as the team 13006501_1162347637142991_1283473157847782540_nchanges its roster a bit, changes its costumes, and attempts to go on without its leader. It was a good time for X-force, Fabian Nicieza was in full effect on the book and the next six months would be a fun story arc that gave you a real sense of continuity and a feel for the direction the book would be taking. The growth of the characters also was appealing to me. They had grown from High School kids into College age people. Sam had really grown into himself, and I was really having fun reading characters like Boomer and Rictor.

In the meantime, the X-Men cartoon was taking the community by storm, making the X-Men more popular than ever – and it was enough to suck me in, and was a very simple sidestep from X Force.

The thing is, the X-Men of this era were very superhero oriented – accessible but 12963590_1162340127143742_1670353489101401937_ncomparatively vapid. Classic villains would show up, but for no other reason than it was time for them to appear in the book. There were spurious tires to classic characters and storylines – even then I was aware of Clarmont epic run – who wasn’t? But this had really mutated into standard superhero soap opera fare. And that’s okay, but it still lacked that special spark that made my friend Tim such a devotees of this series. That’s not to say that there aren’t great points here – this is the series that took me from a mere interest in Rogue to absolutely loving her, it’s the series that brought us Gambit. And then there’s the white issue – this particular story tears me up every single time. Also coming out around this era was thier attempt to launch a new book to fill the New Mutant’s shaped hole that X-Force’s graduation to College age left in the mutant line of comics. The result was Generation X – a book that I absolutely adored. To this day I feel it got Back-Xsabotaged by the hiatus caused when Age of Apocalypse started…but I digress…you can read all about that in a short article over here – https://argocitycomics.wordpress.com/2015/04/21/in-defense-of-generation-x/

In recent days I’ve noticed a lot of the wonderful Essential volumes dropping in price – I frequently see them for five dollars, although Carol and Johns recently had a sale with them priced as low as three. I’ve been picking these up at conventions a lot, most recently at Great Lakes Comic Con and decided to take some time and really try to explore this classic Era.

What is fascinating is to encounter some of these storylines for the first time – Silver Samurai and the Brood and the Hellfire club, they all fit better in this period… They are introduced organically rather 13001060_1162340040477084_7714194724708277842_nthan the way they feel shoehorned in later on in the series. A lot of those stories I remember from the cartoon, I’m finally experiencing the source material – indeed, I’m coming in right around the time when my favorite little guy Lockheed was introduced! There is a strong continuity here, one of the things that appealed to me so very much about the Superman comics during the Byrne and Ordway Era. It seems like it would be hard to just drop in to this series though, and it’s one of the reasons I think I’ve always found it so inaccessible – it takes a commitment to read the stuff.

There is a better understanding of these characters to be had though, with a lot that I expected as well as some character development perhaps I hadn’t expected. Cyclops, who I generally find insufferable, is far more 12961466_1162340123810409_5544198016137198592_ninteresting in these stories – there is more to him than the stuffed shirt we get so used to in the 90s Era. It’s interesting to see characters like Yukio The Ronin show up here. I know her from the early Phalanx prologue with Storm, it was an issue I originally bored because I thought I saw Jubilee on the cover. You can hardly blame me for making this mistake can you? I mean take a look below at the image of the way Yukio is drawn in this issue compare it to how she is drawn in essentials number four. I’ll chop them up and put them side-by side.

I swear she has de-aged… Honestly, I like the way Paul Smith draws her better – there is more character on her face, she’s not as pretty, but still has that impish Full-of-life attitude and it’s far more evident in her face and body language. I’m looking at that later issue now, and she still looks like Jubilee to me.

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As I read on, it occurs to me to wonder if the success of X-Men during this period is about Claremont or about how well they fit into the 80s. Kitty is a quintessential 80s girl. I’m not even sure what it is about her, she’s not a stereotype but everything about her screams 1980s – her posture, the body of her hair (no Aqua net, not high owolverinejackmannew3-thumb-504x800r teased or anything like that, just the body and shape), The way she carries herself, her drive and her attitude – the same is very true of Jubilee, who is a quintessential 90s slacker girl. The problem with these characters however is that they root themselves or the stories and the team in that particular time frame. Still, they work so well in that time frame. More then any other era, Wolverine’s cowboy hat looks right at home here, cyclops is large glasses work better here, The technology juxtaposes better against the warm wood furnishings of the 80s mansion and it feels more fantastic… a period before high-technology became commonplace in our lives.

These days it seems like X-Men bounces between trying to be relevant, and trying to be familiar to those who have only seen the films. There are still fun periods, in particular I was enjoying the run about eight years ago where things have kind of reverted to a simpler adventure format – coming out of the Grant Morrison run. It was fun, and simpler and we were seeing the best elements of the best costumes rolled into modern interpretations.

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Today, it seems we have gone in the other direction – that continuity that I spoke 13010797_1162357293808692_3447845574088106483_nof earlier? Today it’s wound so tightly across the titles in the series, that much like the avengers books, it becomes insular and difficult to drop in and out of. Over the years, we’ve picked up so many different characters along the way that it feels like they need to shoehorn them all into the series at some point or another as well focusing on a cohesive team that works well together and has chemistry. It’s hard for me to get into the X-Men comics of today.

Perhaps that’s why I’m looking to the past.


Cyborg cop 2

forgotten bannerMOV_5399be15_b Cyborg cop two, seriously?

Who looked at the movie cyborg cop, and decided maybe that thing really needs a sequel! Now to be fair it wouldn’t surprise me if these films were shot back to back, and the robotic lab set up again using that same bare black stage with some rented tech pieces kind of points towards that.

From IMDB : A fancy, loner cop loses his partner to a crazed terrorist during a hostage rescue. He settles for the terrorist going to Death Row in jail. What Jack doesn’t know is that the terrorist will be taken and turned into a cyborg for the “Anti-Terrorist Group”. When the Cyborg “Spartacus” wakes up accidentally, he kills the scientists and their guests, then goes to set things up for a Cyborg Empire. Only Jack and a few friends know how to stop him.  

It’s not actually that bad and will be, certainly a step up from CyberCop and that’s a big surprise. The action is actually a bit better. Fights are really well choreographed and the pace doesn’t lag, it passes the watch test without me ever feeling bored, something that I can’t say about the first film. We start off with a great set piece – bad guys versus good guys guns blazing and I watch the cop from the previous film arriving to take them all out with high kick and some leather jacket martial arts. The bad guy from this opening scene will become our villain for the film, but yeah, this one wants to be a little bit more terminator that it does universal soldier. The costumes haven’t gotten any better, in fact they’re a little worse. We saw the same rubbery cyborg suits but the design…who decided to put a front grill on the abs? and these guys are wearing these army clothes that would make Rambo cringe saying “okay guys is just a little bit too much!”.  We see way more of the cyborgs here though, and the fact is they seem to be trying to do more with the concept of adding attachments and cameras and flamethrowers and fun stuff like that.61889094

It’s still great fun film and still very much a time for the early 90s . I found it on YouTube and that’s a great place to watch it. if you see it in the bargain bins at buybacks or record exchange definitely Grab it. As action films go, it’s not a bad one. May be fun to watch back to back with the first…by the way, you know there is one more of these don’t you?


Cam Clarke

AutographsI had no idea Cam Clarke had such  distinctive filmography. I knew him mostly  as He-Man in 2002. I was stunned to find he had been Max Sterling on Robotech – and that’s another series I really need to be putting  collection of….I’m having a lot of fun with voice actors!

Cam clarke


Comic autograph pricing

Conmanconway 2I just read the most interesting article over at Bleeding Cool where they listed some of the most common autograph fees from comic creators.

This is a relatively new thing, and not one I dig, but it’s still usually cheaper than media guests. A lot will sign one or two things for free and then charge after that which I’m very cool with, but not always.  Here’s the list, beefed up with some additions of my own.

Stan Lee – $60 ($80 for something non-comic)
Rob Liefeld – $10-$60 (for New Mutants #98)
Humberto Ramos – $10-$20
Edgar Delgado – $10
Neal Adams – $30
Whilce Portacio – $10-$20 (that’s news to me, he didn’t charge me at Indiana Comicon last year- possibly just certain items)
Bill Sienkiewicz – $10-$20Charles Soule – $10 CGC grading signings
John Romita Jr – three for free, then $2. $10 for CGC grading.
Len Wein – $5, $20 CGC grading signings, $25 for Hulk 181, Giant Size X-Men #1 or House of Secrets #92.
Joe Rubinstein – $2
Greg Horn – $20 GameStop variants
Victor Olazaba – $10
Matteo Scalera – $20 CGC grading signings
Fiona Staples – $20 CGC grading signings
Klaus Janson– $20 CGC grading signings
Charles Soule – $10
New_11054479_936408949736862_4026787195773672807_nFabian Niecza  charges for anything X-Men or Deadpool related (X-Force, Cable & Deadpool, etc). $10 per comic.

Alex Saviuk – $5

Gerry Conway charges $5 per item

Pat Brodrick charges $3 per item

Arvell Jones also charges $3 per item

Larry Hama will sign two items for free and charges after that.

Graham Nolan recently started charging, but not sure how much.

Mike Grell does one free and then I think it was $3 an item

Jose Delbo charges $5 per item12801319_1125445924166496_8044371509557265075_n

Mike Zeck charges $5 per item

John Beatty charges $4 per item

Greg Horn was charging $10

Jim Sternako charges $15 per item last I checked – and that includes items and prints BOUGHT FROM HIS TABLE. Also, do not ask for a photo with him.

I heard about this last bit secondhand, can’t speak for the truth or baseness of the tale, but go in prepared –

Michael Golden refused to sign any comics (I had 3 with me) until I purchased a $25 print from him, which I had to get in a second lineup for. When I returned from purchasing the print he signed that – which I didn’t even care about – and then only 100_3362signed one of the 3 comics I brought him

Tip Jar- pay whatever you want

Ben Templesmith
Peter David

Denny O’Neil also had a tip jar, specifically for the Hero’s Initiative. The first time Gerry Conway did Akron Comicon he did this as well.

Private signing, off the show floor

Jim Lee – $30
Scott Snyder – $20

 

I’ll update and repost this article as I get more!


More with Rick and Jack!

art showBanner

This is just her getting warmed up and drawing out the characters – and what makes them diffrent.

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Batman versus Superman and percentages

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I really thought I was done – I thought I had defended the movie sufficiently. But this latest version of criticism is surprisingly persistent – and a little bit annoying.batman_v_superman___dawn_of_justice__poster_by_goxiii-d8xs1x9

I have seen repeated articles now about the terrible and significant drop in ticket sales for Batman versus Superman in its second week. If you read these,  one thing you’ll notice about every one of these articles, they always speak in percentages. 81% drop! It’s over! That’s the thing,  They have to speak in percentages. BvS made $52.4 million in it’s second weekend.  If the critics speak in total dollars, there is no disguising the fact that despite its “Plunging ticket sales “Batman versus Superman is still out-grossing films that are coming out for their first week. How many movies would give their eye teeth for a $52.4 million opening weekend? How many would kill to make that in thier second week? And we’ll just ignore the fact that BvS is rapidly closing in on the $700 million mark.

I had hoped that this particular tactic was done – they tried it first by examining the drop in ticket sales on Sunday… Easter Sunday. Monday and Tuesday Batman versus Superman went back to setting box office records. However, the media is so committed to this narrative, that when Batman versus Superman failed to generate another half billion dollars in it’s second weekend the story is sprung right back up. Sales are plunging!

Notice how everybody is using the same keyword? Ticket sales are “plunging”. It’s in eBvSvery headline, every blog, every editorial. Its evidence of media group think and over reliance on outlets like AP. There’s not a lot of original thought going on here but rather we are seeing a lot of people jumping on the same bandwagon. We’re more used to seeing this kind of bias and consensus in political reporting rather than in entertainment, but it’s fascinating to watch those same principles applied here.  Critics hated Batman v Superman, and a lot more then the fans did. Critics want this movie to fail – to die. The Superhero movie has gotten to uppity, and besides, only Marvel is allowed to do that and they feel compelled to do thier best to put it in it’s place. The general public dosen’t quite seem to agree. More fans seem to like it then hate it and most were smack dab in the middle feeling somewhat ambivalent. What the different numbers in ticket sales this weekend really speaks to, is two things – firstly the obvious. It is no longer opening weekend. This is significant, because Batman versus Superman was an event film. People were going to go see it the first weekend – either that or risk of being spoiled on the Internet.

NEfSZ2ONUM37ji_1_bThe second thing at play here is something I noted in my review – rewatchability. There are some people absolutely love this and are going to see it twice, but I think the vast majority of viewers are only going to be able to handle this film once. This isn’t necessarily a negative, I’ve only ever seen Forrest Gump once – there’s just no rewatchability there for me either. So the drop in ticket sales, while still healthy shows that people are not going to see this two or three or four times. It also shows that everybody without the first weekend, and only a few stragglers remaining.

Why am I so adamant about this? Why do I feel the need to speak out about this? Because the critics are trying to shape public opinion – not report on it. That’s not the job of journalists, and it frustrates me when I see it happening. Batman v Superman is not Oscar fodder (though I think Zach Snyder actually believed he was making high art– someone should probably tell him that he wasn’t) but it’s not worth othe dismal rotten tomatoes score it has –  although I find it interesting just how inverse the relationship between the critical score and the viewer score is.  I’ll stick with the viewers. Unlike the critics, they aren’t trying to sway anybody.

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Final thought – Bad movies just go away. People complain about them and forget about them. Everybody is talking about Batman v Superman, and everybody has seen it. Every person I meet asks me if I saw it and what was my opinion. Compare this to the recent fantastic four – sure we talked about it, we complained about it, but nobody went to see it. Nobody talks about it any more, except to use it as a yardstick for the worst superhero films ever made. Batman versus Superman has sparked discussion and it’s penetrated the public consciousness and is already a success.

No matter what the critics want you to believe.


321

essentialPosting the best strips from the series, in order from the beginning.

Every Wednesday and Friday

50001fcc0e1be5472147b7e057186d321741650015


Cinema Wasteland spring 2016

Conman12472271_10201457866045932_2858715554961129989_nMy back still hurts. This should have been a miserable weekend. But it’s Wasteland weekend. That makes a big difference. Its the sort of place where you can just sit down with a couple of evil clowns over beers or chat with friends about serial killers and Doctor Who and no one bats an eye.

I got in late, but managed to kick off my weekend with the short film block – headlined by “Hammer” the big screen premier of my buddy Mark Mackaye’s latest short.

The short film block is always one of the highlights of Wasteland, and having one of our own in it always makes it more fun. I personally really dug seeing Zach Shildwachter’s “Eat It UP” as well. I’ve caught this movie before, but it’s just so much fun with such great dialogue – honestly this is one of the shorts that I really would love to see expanded into a longer feature or series of short films.12932701_10201451089276517_3885185790678501125_n

I was all about camping in movie room two on Friday, though I did venture out a bit to chat with friends and prowl the dealer’s room and get my autographs. It’s interesting, this time around I was finding a great many more deals than usual. It was also reall ycool to see that autographs were cheaper here than usual. Several people were signing on your own items for only $10, and no one was over $20.

My first and main target was actually Grayton Clark. He’d cancelled on a previous show and this was his appearance to make up for it. He’s pleasent and charming and seems genuinely surprised that we know  his work. He greeted me (and a lot of other people ) by asking “You know these films?” with a mixture of surprise and pleasure. Truth is, I know some of them, though not all of them. I’m a fan of Dracula vs Frankenstein, not to mention catching Satan’s Cheerleaders’s at a previous show. Skinheads was on the schedule this year and I stuck around for that as well. Clark is so prolific that I’ve run into his work a lot over the years. He was selling his autobiography which was EXACTLY what I wanted to grab. His stories about working on low budget films are fascinating, and listening to him talk, felt a lot like listening to Adam Green on the Movie Crypt Podcast.

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I hadn’t really intended to meet David Naughton, but George Steele had cancelled and I noticed that Naughton’s fee was actually lower here than it had been other shows so I ran over to take advantage of that. He’s pleasant, if a little brief. His panel at the show however was quite amazing. It’s really fun to hear about his journey and there were a few bits about American Werewolf in London that I didn’t know previously.

I also managed to snag a moment with Roy Fukes – he was really there for the Street Trash reunion, but I wanted him on my Dawn of the Dead poster. He’s the first zombie to get hit in the face with a pie. It’s a dubious claim to fame, but I loved it. He’s another one who seems surprised that people are actually here to see him and I noticed he 12938258_1155115261199562_2825254917360206468_nwould keep wandering away from his table to check out other merchants in the dealer’s room!

Saturday morning started with McDonalds and Hangover featuring Queen of Outer Space starring Zsa Zsa Gabor and it was A-MAZE-ING. I particularly love the mask the villianess wears. I’m sure I recognize the guns and costumes from other films. Gabor was wonderfully over the top and it’s just the perfect movie for a cold saturday morning.

I caught up with friends after the film. They were coming from the wrestling presentation and were still shaking. It had been a particularly bloody match including a knee to the chest and the victim spraying blood from his mouth. I can’t handle real blood. I love the fake stuff, but the real stuff just makes me woozy.

I followed them into Three Stooges- a Saturday morning tradition, and while we were waiting for it to start I passed around the bacon soda that my wife had gotten me for Easter. It was revolting. I think it also mixed poorly with my pain medication…part 12439352_1155116567866098_4955790460835365316_nway through the third short I had to jump up and book it for the restroom.

There was time before the panels would start and I headed off to hit a couple more films. Happy Hour Massacre had registered on my radar, but you know, anthologies are not always my thing. I was iffy on it, but the poster was up and you know what? It swayed me. I’m glad it did because it was a great set of movies. It’s southern, but that’s just kind of a matter of fact – not played for laughs. The stories were genuinely engaging, particularly the crazy Ex-Girlfriend one, though the bit about the old man and the red pill was pretty exciting as well. I ended up enjoying this so much that I ran out to the dealers room and snatched up a copy of it for myself. While I was at it, I also grabbed a copy of “Winner Tape All”. I knew I was only going to be able to catch the first fifteen minuets of that before seeing David Naughton, and figured I would finish it up Sunday afternoon as I recuperated (and I did). Winner Tape All is a spoof on all the VHS documentaries we’ve been seeing lately, but it feels more like satire than straight up parody to me. It respects the genere and I totally feel like we’re in on the joke. If I had to guess, I’d actually say there was a huge influence from the story of Chester Turner (a former Wasteland 12920527_1155115374532884_6013081939244545403_nguest) and his films “Black Devil Doll from Hell” and “Tales from the Quaddead Zone”. It really fits in perfectly with documentaries like Rewind this or even the recent Cannon films story.

I was in between panels and thought I’d stop in at Tom Sullivan’s Evil Dead museum. He was in the middle of telling a story about Motor City Comic Con. He’s actually wanted to meet Adam West, but his table had been so busy all day that he was unable to get away and had mentioned it in passing to a gew people who had come by. Late in the day, West himself showed up at Tom’s table and he had a total fanboy melt down. It was a great moment, and Tom tells these kind of stories so well.

12376638_1155238061187282_4985123392247917526_nLinda Miller is an interesting guest. Again, one of those people who is surprised to find their work celebrated, but then again, this is really the kind of thing Wasteland does well. Miller has roles in both the Green Slime and King Kong Escapes. Both B films, but also both really beloved. Miller described how she kind of fell into acting during a brief period that she was living in Japan.

Of course after King Kong escaped, it was time for the best part of any Wasteland – A Ghastlee Night at the Movies hosted by newly inducted hall of famer, A Ghastlee Ghoul!

It always starts out with the band and then into 42 questions with 4nd street Pete. I’ve always wanted to try my hand at this game, but I’m always afraid I’ll embarrass 12512783_993796907323893_1929294692080209750_nmyself. Still I usually can come up with at leas a half a dozen answers. Not this time. I;m not sure what was up with this group of questions but I managed to get a total of two right from my seat in the audience. Even the contestants seemed to be struggling with some of these stumpers.

I jumped up for one game myself. The game was to put bras on a bunch of guys while the women threw ping pong balls at them – the men would then try to catch the balls in thier bras. I swear, Angelique is the only woman who could get me into ladies shakeundergarments. I was actually a little relieved to have Mark up there with me.

I caught NO balls. Just saying.

There was also the S@#Theel of the year award this time around -sort of the male equivalent of Miss Wasteland. For the most part unremarkable but it did include one of my favorite games – “Shake the Baby”. This involves a baby doll and a pedometer.

Finally, the night ended with a classic Shatner game where contestants had to give 12933005_1155115704532851_5683020614932986145_ntheir best impressions on classic William Shatner moments. I suspect this was Ghastlee’s attempt to destroy the stage in the absence of Sally the Zombie Cheerleader (Sadly absent this time around, but we’ll see her again in the fall!). My favorite moment here was when they reenacted the climatic battle between Spock and Kirk in the classic Star Trek episode “Amok Time”. Even Wasteland isn’t crazy enough to trust a bunch of drunks with a pair of Ahn-Wons though, so the bladed staffs were replaced with broom sticks. An admirable choice.

12512422_1155139454530476_2139400449562914209_nThe band played and Suspiria tossed prizes out into the audience. The most hilarious one was an old audio cassette of TV themes…I was chatting with a friend and I suddenly felt something being slipped into my pocket….yes, I pulled out this….

My back prevented me from catching the late night films this time around – a real pity since they were showing the Green Slim on 16mm. I love the Green Slime – I may need to make a costume of that sometime soon.

Another Wasteland in the can….and we’re already looking forward to the next one six months down the line! Hope to see you there!

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