Well there is the delightful scene of Adam Green making his quick cameo laying sick in the jail cell next to her. Green shows up in all three of these at films, and I always imagine that he is playing his character from Holliston – but out on a rowdy Mardi Gras trip (I think it would make it better is if Joel Lynch showed up as well). We are back into the bayou again but this time it’s different – we’ve got a SWAT team, armed to the teeth, infiltrating these dark woods. It’s a stark contrast from the last film’s disorganized group of hicks with shotguns running out into the night to try and capture Victor Crawley. The evidence of the previous slaughter is all around us – at one point one of the SWAT team members point out that there are someone’s testicles hanging from a tree branch – and that this is something that should never, ever happen!
The cast is once again stellar, with the SWAT team being led by Derrik Meres, but my favourite appearance in this film is Sid Haig. Sid showed up practically out of nowhere, as this bizarre hermit who had the ashes of Victor Crawley’s father. I have never seen him flustered quite so effectively as he is in act three, and I love it.
The monster suit looks better than ever, with the move from latex and rubber to silicone. The kills are as effective as they’ve ever been, and it definitely maintains the tone. The humour is still there, one of my favourite moments is when once again Perry Shen, this time playing one of the paramedics, remarks that they found a body out there that looks exactly like him – “we all look the same to you?” That it’s just a wonderful and brilliant nod to the fact that the same actor has appeared in every one of his films, even though he keeps getting killed off!
Green has publicly stated that Hatchet 3 is the end of the series (much to the fans chagrin). There was never an intention to go any further and he has no plans to continue this franchise – however we’ve heard similar statements both in the Nightmare and Friday franchises, and in all honesty I wouldn’t mind seeing more of these. However if this series is truly just going to remain a trilogy, I can’t fault him.the series ends on a high note with Green and the Hatchet films at the top of their game.
Every Wednesday and Friday
I’ve actually done pretty well meeting actors from Series I admire – I’ve got the autograph of every original Star Trek cast member with one exception (dear DeForest Kelley passed before I started doing conventions). When it comes to horror, I’ve met just about everyone… Freddy, Jason, Pinhead, Leatherface, the tall man, Candyman – icons like Lance Henriksen, Felissa Rose, George Romero, scream queens and monsters and directors.
Still there’s always one personality that has always alluded me – and that’s Bruce Campbell. There’s no good reason for it, we just seem to keep missing each other – like at Horrorhound a few years ago when the ticketing system messed me up and I missed my chance? I’ve got a bunch of stories just as arbitrary. Of course, as his popularity has grown, so have his fees. He’s one of those guys where I actually understand the higher charges – if you didn’t have a higher price to discourage some of the punters, he’d be at his signings forever. Still, as it grew to $40 and then $80 at wizard world (A con I won’t attend because they create and encourage exactly this type of inflation) it was becoming increasingly clear that I probably wasn’t ever going to get a chance to meet him. When it was announced he was doing a book signing in Westlake, a suburb in my own backyard and a mere 15 minutes drive away, it should have been a no-brainer right? Still I struggled with deciding whether or not to attend – the crowds, the hassle, it promised to be a circus and almost trying to be more trouble than it was worth. After turning the discision over and over in my head for a month and a half, I bought my copy of the book friday afternoon and on Sunday night set my alarm for 6 o’clock.
The store opened at nine, and promised to start handing out wristbands when it did. The number on the band would correspond to your place in line later that evening at 7pm. After getting dressed and ready for work, then picking up my breakfast and coffee I arrived at Crocker Park at about quarter till seven AM and surveyed the landscape. I never expected to be the first one in line sitting at the door, but I was hoping I wouldn’t be at the end of a huge mass of people. There were about a dozen folks assembled in a queue that went several feet from the entrance and past the second window of the store. I sat down my folding chair and announced to the two men chatting at the end that I knew I hadn’t been crazy to show up this early! They happily agreed with me and introduced themselves as Marcus and Chris. I spent the next two hours hanging out, talking filmmaking and conventions and practical fx and where to go seeing old movies in Cleveland. Around 7:45 I spotted my friend Michael and his lovely bright Pam walking down the sidewalk and wave them over… Make sure his head with a smile.
“Why am I completely not surprised to see you here?” he asked.
Turns out it wasn’t their first time seeing Bruce. Pam mentioned to me “There was this one time I was helping out at Vul-Con…”
“Oh my God, I was THERE!” I exclaimed in shock. “Only I didn’t know he was only appearing on Saturday! I worked weekends then and didn’t make it untill Sunday! I was PISSED.” We all laughed hoping it would turn out better this time.
By the time the store opened at nine, the line stretched down the block, A sea of black T-shirts curling around the corner where a trendy restaurant sat. One of the workers came out of the bookstore, handing out small lattes – a welcome change from the acrid black coffee in my thermos. We filtered into the store, and the manager warned us to not all get on the escalator at once (or it would stop). This isn’t a admonishment that you hear often, on the other hand you also don’t often see a couple hundred people swarming into such a small space as soon as the door is open. They usered us throgh the queue quickly, checking books and peering at recipts to make sure that the volume had indeed been purchased through Barnes and Nobel, then passing out bright orange wristbands with numbers printed in sharpie. I discovered I was number 16 in line, a low number that I can hardly complain about considering my friend Mark and Johnny ended up with number 371 in line. By the time I exited the shop, the upstairs line wrapped around the balcony twice.
I sat at work, listening to commentary tracks from the Evil Dead movies and occasionally glancing over at the Facebook thread for the signing, watching with sort of helpless fascination as people Who had valid directions or gotten there early enough vexed and complained. Not even high school levels of drama, junior high at best. I was particuarly amused by the ones screaming “Well I’m just not going to go now because it was such a mess!” Cool. Smaller crowds and more Bruce for me. We all win!
6 o’clock rolled around, and I swung by Trader Joe’s to make a dinner out of their free samples (really good orange chicken) then take my place in line. My friend Jerry was at the head of the line so I drafted him to take photos for me after he would get his signatures.(No personal photos or posing was allowed, but that didn’t deter me). The same crew from this morning was around and the familiar faces waved me into my place in line.
The more compressed line inside (as opposed to the way we had spread apart outside) got us together to see people I hadn’t talked to in the morning as one person showed us his mounted laserdiscs he was getting signed and another whipped out his hand made book of the dead. Two young women joined us and regaled us with their lament over losing a cell phone when a house survey ended up actually being a drug deal (and I thought I had a rough day!). We stood trying not to freak out (“It’s actually going to happen this time!” I assured myself) and discussing what we wanted to talk about.
“I’m just afraid I’m going to fanboy out,” one guy told us. “Like I’ll just lean over and say ‘smell my beard….’ “.
“I’d like to get video if you do that,” I replied.
Overhead the speaker blasted static, a booming noise that coalesced into the dulcet tones of the King. Bruce himself went over the rules for the evening, and assured us that he was going to stick around to make sure we all got our items signed.
“Items to be signed should be legitimate. DVDs, posters, photographs. Don’t bring me your Hello kitty phone case to sign. That kind of stuff freaks people out!”
He continued on the subject of candids.
“Now I know we can’t stop you yahoos from taking photos so we’re not even going to try! But we’re not going to help you either…we’re not going to stop or pose…so if you want to take a blurry photo of the top of my head while I’m signing something… go for it!”
That was prophetic. My photos did indeed turn out blurry. Curse you Campbell!
The line moved swiftly and I was at the head of it. Still, I got a moment to speak to Bruce and considering how fast they were moving along, he never made me feel rushed or ignored. It was cool to find him to be so friendly – even for a moment.
Jerry walked me out as he handed me my phone back and I stopped outside the store one more time for a chat with new friends. Marcus was swapping stories with a young woman whose husband had come out to get her wristband that morning since she worked day shift and he was working nights. Everyone was genuinely happy and that’s really one of the best parts of the thing – the sense of community. While it revolved around the event, the meeting was a minuet or so. It was the hours before and after, hanging out with new faces and old that really made this affair so special.
Great night – new book to read and my Evil Dead 2 poster is finally finished!
Today’s cinematic atrocity is Arcade! It’s a Full Moon classic starring little Ralphie from a Christmas Story and Q from Star Trek : the next generation. It also features a VERY young Seth Green and is pretty worth watching just for that.
I’ve had to defend the special effects in the past though – if you look there on that old VHS box, you’ll notice it exclaims “virtual reality special Effects”! They may be pushing the definition of virtual reality – they might be pushing the definition of special effects for that matter… Zacherly used to refer to certain SFX as special DEFECTS, and that’s far more appropriate here. There is a lot of primitive CG splashed up against a blue screen – and what’s really frightening is the original set of special effects were even more primitive, to the point where Charles Band put the movie on hold until they could find somebody who could do you something little better.
The original version of the CG villain had no moving parts – he was a far more blocky solid character, where as the finished product as a bit more personality and movement to it. You can get a glimpse of what it would’ve looked like at the beginning of the video zone featurette’s at the end of every full moon videotape. Those graphics have a lot more in common with Tron – not a bad movie, but back in 1993 that look was quite seriously behind the times. You can see huge differences between the two pictures below – the very static face of Arcade, a mask really with no movement except shadows from the flickering lights behind the mask, transport that looked more like light cycles than liquid metal terminators, and a title font that would look extremely cool in a children’s cartoon but not in an r-rated horror movie. It’s stuff that would pass on VR Troopers or in an 80’s movie, but not in ’93, not after T2 had redefined CG forever (or at least until The Matrix arrived seven years later)
I’ve seen some of those original,and I can see why they decided to redo the effects. Not just the models, we also go from grids and gradients to textured backgrounds with clouds and atmosphere. Electrical effects and far more detail. The original effects were simpler. They took less time to create (one or two moving pieces and slap a bitmap on it for color) and would take FAR less time to render. The finished effects have multiple textures applied, with great detail, are made up of far more polygons and include more lighting effects. The difference in both build time and render time must have increased by months.
Despite the computer generated FX even worse than those in the Lawmower Man, I’m a fan of this film. The CG does not age well, but it’s not meant to – and you can forgive it because of that.
The story is practically paint by numbers. New game put out, someone developed AI. AI turns evil. The girl who can’t play video games is the one who has to save the day.
Despite that, it has the sense of fun and adventure that Full Moon Films typically have. I really love watching this, and another big selling point here is the cast. These are all kids (at the time anyhow), and you can tell they are all having a genuinely good time with each other. watching the behind the scenes feature in particular REALLY brings this out.
Can I talk a little about the actual video arcade they feature in this movie? Because seriously, this place is awesome. A little basement hole-in-the-wall with black lights and glowing stickers all over? A nice mix of old games and new, man I would have loved this place and spent every dollar I ever made if I’d had one of these joints in the 90’s. The only arcades around here were at the Mall and the Bowling Alley. This however, this feels real. It feels like a teenage hangout and it made me want to be there. It’s little details like this that I’m talking about, this is the stuff that makes a mediocre film come alive and entertain.
Truth is, this is a FUN movie. You forget about the low budget, Even though the effects make you feel like you crawled in to your Packard Bell micro tower to play DOOM you don’t care. This isn’t T2 or the Lawnmower man. You didn’t pick this up to stare at the pretty SFX. Sure you can see that plot twist coming a mile away, but you’ll find yourself rooting for it anyhow.
You’ll see it on the shelf at the Record Exchange or Flea market sometimes. It’s sure to be on Full Moon Streaming. Seriously, give this one a try some lazy Sunday afternooon. It’s got to be better than watching the Browns lose.
Every Wednesday and Friday
My personal definitive way of drawing iconic characters
It’s Halloween time, and I can’t think of a monster I’ve drawn more often than Freddy.
There were a couple of promotional shots of Freddy in a trenchcoat here and there and I’e always preferred that look. Why it only ever made it’s way into New Nightmare and none of the other movies, I’ll never know.
Those arn’t just random ridges on his face by the way, watch and you’ll see I always follow the lines and contours of his face. It’s a pattern I fell into a long time ago, and just makes the most sense to me when drawing Kruger!
Finally, you’ll notice one addition to the glove. I must have been seeing things, but I could swear when I was younger I saw a little hooked blade on his thumb on the boxes for NOES 2. I know it’s not there, but I’ve always kept it anyhow, for the sake of novelty, it seems like it’d be a good tool to add to the glove.
It’s been over a year since I updated this list, and now’s as good a time as any! Again, we’re not really going to discuss the pros and cons of comic professionals charging for autographs. There’s plenty of other forums for that. We’re just going to acknowledge the reality of modern convention economics. This is a little something to help you know what to expect when you go to a con so you don’t get blind sided. A lot of artists don’t have autograph charges clearly displayed and frequently con websites either don’t have this information or are asked not to display it. Here’s my current list – in sort of alphabetical order. It’s not exhaustive by any means, things may change next month or next year. We’ll update and repost as we learn more.
Amanda Conner – free for 5 books, $2 after, $5 for CGC.
Alex Saviuk – $5
Arvell Jones – $5
Bob Camp – $30
Bob Hall – free for the first issue, or if you purchase a something from the table, otherwise $5
Bob Layton- $5 for CGC graded signings, otherwise free
Bill Sienkiewicz – 2 for free, $2.50 after, $10 for CGC/David Spurlock
Charles Soule – $10 CGC grading signings
Edgar Delgado – $5 CGC grading signings
Fabian Nicieza – $10 Deadpool/X-Force related
Fiona Staples – $20 CGC grading signings (otherwise free)
Graham Nolan recently started charging, but not sure how much.
Gerry Conway – $5
Greg Horn – $20 GameStop variants (otherwise free)
George Perez – Free, but he has a ticketing system so get to his table first thin after the show opens or you’ll be stuck in line for HOURS waiting for a spot to open up. Alternatively, if you can deal with not MEETING him, you can buy a print and he’ll sign that and a couple books in between sketches and stuff.
Humberto Ramos – $10-$20
J. O’Barr – $5
Jae Lee- $5
John Romita Jr – three for free, then $2. $10 for CGC grading.
Jose Delbo – $5
Joe Rubinstein – $2 ($50 for Wolverine)
Jimmy Palmiotti – free for 5 books, $2 after, $5 for CGC.
J Scott Campbell $10
John Cassandry $10
John Beatty – $3
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.
Keith Pollard – $5
Kevin Eastman – first is free, $20 after that
Klaus Janson– $20 CGC grading signings
Len Wein – $5, $20 CGC grading signings, $25 for Hulk 181, Giant Size X-Men #1 or House of Secrets #92.
Larry Hama will sign two items for free and charges after that.
Matteo Scalera – $20 CGC grading signings
Mike Zeck – $5
Marv Wolfman – one free (I’ve heard elsewhere it’s two for free, but in his last interview he said one), $5.00 after that
Mark Texeria- $5 per book (with free head sketch)
Mike Grell – $5
Neal Adams – $30
Pat Brodrick – $3
Rob Liefeld – $25-$50
Rags Morales – $5
Stan Lee – $60-$100
Whilce Portacio – $10-$20
Victor Olazaba – $10
Tip Jar – pay what you want
Denny O’Neil (Heros alliace tip jar)
Tip Jar -Comic Book Leagal Defence Fund
Brian Michael Bendis (Be prepaired to wait a long time in line)
Fred Van Lente
Tony Isabella (There’s certain issues that DC broke it’s agreement with him on, don’t bring those, otherwise free – also, he’s been talking abuot starting to charge if his sales don’t pick up)
Every Wednesday and Friday
In its first year, Neo Comic Con exceeded all expectations with attendance nearly double what they had projected. While growth was slow in the second year – a mild swelling if you will, the shoulder to shoulder traffic inside the hotel made it clear that it was time to move to someplace bigger already, if they wanted to grow. In it’s third outing, this year moving to the soccer sportsplex in North Olmsted, they exceeded their previous attendance records before noon, eventually topping out at about 1/3 more attendees than ever before.
I have to admit I’m pleased by all of this, it’s nice to have a show like this practically in my backyard – 10 miles away and a 15 minute drive. I’m familiar with the venue, Heroes United did an event there (a superhero night for the soccer players) and was excited about the layout – it reminded me a great deal of All-Americon. That’s really what I was
expecting, something very much like the previous versions of all American when they had set up over Packard Hall. What we ended up seeing was actually pretty different.
Neo created an interesting flow here with the vendors all set up on one side of the arena, and the artists alley in a completely separate section separated by bleachers, tables and the snack bar. It works and it makes sense, the flow actually feels good – but I’d feel better if were more than one entrance. If you want to get to the side with the artists and cosplayers, you absolutely have to walk through all of the vendor tables and in my case that proved difficult since I was carrying stuff to set up at the Heroes United table.
Also complicating things with the parking situation.By the time I arrived, a mere hour and a half after the doors opened, the lot was full. I managed to snag and innocuous little space right behind the factory across the street – plenty of shade and enough maneuvering that it would make someone trying to tow or vandalize my car more trouble than it was worth. The convention and also secured parking down the street at the college and was running shuttles every 15 minutes – this isn’t a bad idea, but for those of us carrying bulky props and wearing cumbersome suits, it was absolutely going to be a hurdle… and I’m not sure what the fix is for this is either. Under the circumstances I think they came up with the best solution that they could.
Still, it made loading and unloading an issue (swapping the baby basket for the rocketship halfway through the day), and made my lunch plans impossible. We ended up grabbing food at the snack bar and commandeering a table for me and my friends. Big props to the Soccer sportsplex staff by the way. They really rolled with the event and got into things. There are some venues that don’t really dig convention crowds– the fanboys and the cosplayers put them off. There is the infamous story of the hotel in Butler back when Monster Bash was at its last location and the bellboy going up and down the hall screaming “go away monster people! “. These guys embraced it, and were having fun… The man at the counter paused me to get a picture in before taking my order. It was a good day for them as well! They were selling out of items regularly and I’m not surprised… They had normal pricing on just about everything, higher than McDonald’s you might say, but reasonable – $2.50 for a slice of pizza, $1.50 for a drink. Definitely not gouging. I dig that, and it really made me feel better about buying my lunch there.
It’s always a pleasure to see Rubber City Cosplay, promoting positivity and taking photos at their booth. The whole Photo Booth thing seems to be taking off too. One of the other charity groups in the area had theirs set up and their hook was it your photo with Superman and Batman, or select members. In addition – Heroes United had their booth set up with a green screen photo op providing nine backgrounds to choose from… A little something different.
Of course my big thing for this convention was to get over to meet Bob Hall. Hall was the writer for one of my absolute favorite series – Shadowman. He took over early in the run and stayed with the Valiant title right up until the end, just before the Acclaim reboot.
“They gave me the choice of five different titles to write,” he said. “I chose Shadowman because it was the one that was doing the worst… I figured if this book completely fails, at least I’m not going to be the first writer it tanks on… ”
“When Acclaim came in, they told me that the character wasn’t black enough! What does that even mean? He’s Creole! But they wanted something different. They wanted a character they could put into video games thats why I ended of the book, because if they were going to make him completely different, they may as well make him a different character altogether. I did the story where he climbed up to the top of the building and jumps. We never see him hit the ground though. I always assumed some other writer come along and take over – figure a way out of the cliffhanger, but they never did!”
Next to halls table, it’s Kevin Nolan – an artist I enjoy, particuarly for his work on the Superman/Aliens series… We both commiserated over what a wonderful character the Kara girl in the book is in our surprise over her never appearing anywhere else.
I rounded up of the day by getting Tony Isabella’s table. Tony is a legend when it comes to DC titles, having created Black Lightning and he’s also a regular on the Northeast Ohio convention circuit. I was particularly interested in hearing his take on the new Black Lightning television show that supposed to be hitting the CW.
“They flew me out, and brought me into a room with two big whiteboards that I was not allowed to take photos of!” he chuckled. “What I saw were too big columns, one with a lot of studio ideas, and another column with a lot of my stuff. They’re asking me things about stories I wrote 20 years ago, and if feels like there’s a lot of me in this show… There’s a lot of the studio too, but is a good mix of the two. I’m looking forward to it.”
This was interesting to me, because I’ve had my misgivings about this show. I enjoy Black Lightning; Batman and the Outsiders is one of the best Bat books from the silver age! But I look at the suit and I don’t know what they were thinking. I don’t get the origins of this look at all, and it really made me trepiditious about the story. To hear Tony say that they’re putting a lot of his vision in it actually makes me feel a great deal better – particularly in that he got down to some specifics, rather than a nebulous “it’s going to be great!” kind of statement that you have to make when you’re under contract.
Cosplayers came out in force for this event… Neo has always drawn its fair share of costumes, and usueally always some good looking people wandering around the show. They’ve encouraged it by giving free admission to people in costume, and inviting recognizable cosplay talent like night mage, are KG cosplay, Princess Morgan and Miss procrastination… This however, was their first year doing a costume contest and I’m pleased with how good the competition was. Everybody was bringing their A game, with impressive costumes like an Oogie Boogie from nightmare before Christmas, and a dead on Ghostbuster, Judge Death from Judge Dredd, and dozens and dozens of Spider-Man. Seriously, I thought there were a lot of Spider-Man at Great Lakes Comicon? Not even close – I couldn’t walk two steps without stumbling over webs at Neo.
I managed to track down the single 50 Cent bin at the show and pull about a dozen things out of there, pointing out some of the better silver age horror to my friend Rhonda. Still, most of the deals I grabbed were in the form of those old essentials volumes. These things are still plentiful and cheap, and the best way to catch up on really old comics – I’m currently building my Fantastic Four collection. Besides those, I absolutely could not pass up a couple volumes of Daredevil including stuff that was way older than anything I’ve ever been able to afford.
When all is said and done, it was a great weekend. I think that even now, after three years, NEO ComicCon is still very much looking for an identity… But I also think more than ever it has figured out what kind of show it wants to be, and it’s really beginning to look like that.
I can’t wait for next year.
(Photos stolen from every corner of Facebook – my apologies. I didn’t really get any pictures of my own!)
This started out as a costume design- an extension of Iron Man, but I don’t think I’ll ever get to it. Still, the idea intrigues me and if I could get a few more together on it I think I’d like to explore it further.