As I mentioned yesterday, we did the Halloween Comicfest over at Carol and John’s Comic shop.
Like on Free Comic book Day, publishers release special editions with the Halloween Comic Fest logo on them and these are distributed for free at participating retailers. It’s a way to especially get kids into comic shops these days. I’m still plowing my way through the stack of free comics I got, along with a couple I bought while I was there (I hate just showing up, grabbing the free stuff and leaving. Same as on Free comic book day, we make it a point to buy SOMETHING – even if just a couple issues from the quarter bin or dollar boxes), but here are some of my favorites so far….
Batman : Lil’Gotham.
I really haven’t been into this series. I suppose it’s fair to say it’s not aimed at me. Even worse, Damien is still alive in it and I hat him with such passion it’s unreasonable. There’s also something just ….wrong about cute gothamites. Batman villains just aren’t supposed to be…chibi.
This has some great moments in it though. Damien being completely unfamiliar with trick or treating so he goes and attacks kids in costumes….
it works as a fun kids book and was naturally one of the centerpieces of this years selections.
There was a My Little Pony book this year. I actually made a point to get to the comic shop kind of early In the day just to make sure I could snag this for my girls. Bronys are unpredictable and I could have easily seen this one getting sold out before we could manage to get in the shop. Thankfully, not only did both of my girls get a copy, I even got one myself. It’s a reprint of one of the stories form earlier this year, but it’s a good bit of the story and nicely scary – appropriate for Halloween.
Interestingly enough, this wasn’t the only pony book out there this year.
Another book called “Vamplets” was out with a kind of “Ghostly Pony” look to it. I almost missed the thing entirely until Maddie pointed it out to me. This and the My Little Pony books are bothe mini comics – about half the size of a normal one. Ashcans we used to call them. A lot of the kids stuff was set up this way. Still, fun books and perfect for Halloween.
Next up is Art Baltazar’s new book. I know, I keep gravitating towards the kids stuff, but Ity bitty Hellboy is just not to be missed. I really loved Tiny Titians, and this is just more of the same only with different characters. In fact, I’m not always into Hellboy that much, but this book was too much fun for words.
I did get through the Thor issue they had available and would actually really like to hear someone else comment on it. I’m not a big fan of Thor in the first place – he appeal has always mystified me, and lately a lot of his titles really seem to emphasize the elements of him that I really don’t like in the first place- most notably the big dumb football player personality with the big chin and no neck….and this issue is no exception. It sets up a new story arc about someone or something who is going around the cosmos killing small “g” gods. It’s an interesting enough concept, but with no investment in the character and a general dislike for beings who refer to themselves as gods or pantheon mythology in general this one really didn’t do a whole lot for me. Sorry guys. Like I said, I’d love to hear someone who’s a Thor fan chime in on this one. If I find something elsewhere, I may reblog it.
My last pick from the pack was Ultimate Spider-Man. This isn’t the actually Ultimate Spidey as in the Ultimate universe, or the Bendis run, this is more based on the cartoon that Disney and Marvel are currently running. I’ve watched it with my kids, it’s okay, and a good attempt to bring Spidey in to the Avenger’s universe. The book is divided into two features, beginning with an origin story, told as Spidey fights off the Shocker. Meh. The second feature where Spidey is shadowing an LMD of Samuel Jackson’s Nick Fury is much more fun. Inside are also a couple of one page gags where they’ve taken a page from the original Stan Lee/Steve Ditko comics and redone the text pull things completely out of context. A really fun book.
Carl and John’s went the extra mile as well, also handing out candy and bookmarks and buttons (with Itty Bitty Hellboy on them). I’m really enjoying Halloweenfest, and I love that it makes Free Comic Book Day come twice a year now!
The future of Comic Book movies
So blockbuster season is firmly in the past. I saw what I was going to see, and successfully avoided Dark Knight (not a nolan fan, I’ll get around to it on DVD). and I’m wondering how much longer this can last.
Don’t get me wrong. Comic Book films aren’t going away. They never have. There have been comic book films pretty much as long as there has been cinema. I have old Captain America serials and Superman movies from the 40 and 50s. I think there were a grand total of five Shadow movies. But as you look over history, you can see certian…eras. Especially in the last few decades. Usually it’s started off by a Superhero film that redefines the genre. Superman did it, and that was really the model for a good chunk of the 80s, until Batman in 1989. That redefined things as gritty, dark and rubber suits if you were going to go with a costume like in Captain America – but you weren’t allowed to show the suits too much. No costume? You just went dark and grindhousey like in the Punisher. Oh and the supporting cast didn’t really have to resemble their comic book counterparts. You can toss Judge Dredd, The Crow, Spawn and Blade in there, probably even X-Men though around that time things began to change. Specifically, Spider-Man changed all of that. Now we were looking more at making the costume as closely resemble the source material as possible, like Cap and the Avengers and Thor and Green Lantern and Hellboy ect….and it also defined the Superhero movie as THE blockbuster event of the summer.
And that’s where we’ve been for a while. In fact, we’ve kind of gone from a comic book movie being an event because it’s so rare, to any other kind of blockbuster being an event because it’s so rare. Remember Independence Day? Mission Impossible (two was my favorite)? Godzilla? How about the original Total Recal or Terminator 2? Demolition Man? We don’t see these movies so much now because the Superhero movie has taken their place. Indeed, one of the reasons The Expendables has been such a big deal is because the 80’s action movie has become nearly extinct.
Which brings me to my point. How long can this last? We’ve been on the superhero blockbuster ride for a decade now and what really has me thinking about this is The Avengers. It seems to me that with the Avengers, the comic book blockbuster has reached critical mass. It’s a brilliant achievement in of itself, and really the epitome of everything Avi Avrad was trying to do when he set Marvel down the path to making movies (his belief was that film was where Marvel would make it’s money and was the future of the company) in the 90’s.
But where do we go from here? Already the landscape is changing again. The Dark Knight seems to be the new template, judging by the look of The Amazing Spider-Man and Man of Steel. If Superhero film is moving in that direction, then the Avengers is already falling behind. And as DC moves forward to try and duplicate the success from the Avengers, the glut of Superhero movies on the market is only going to get worse, making market fatigue inevitable…and quickining it’s progress.
That’s really my fear. That it becomes so common place it breeds contempt. Without some new innovation, a REAL game changer (not just an tonal change like we got from the Dark Knight) that Hollywood will ride this train into the ground, until Superhero movies become box office poison.
And here’s the really scary thought to me both as a comic fan and as a comic artist on Violent Blue.
Because comics these days are so heavily tied to the movie properties to support them, when the Comic Book movie goes back underground or vanishes completely for a while (like it did in the seventies)…what happens to comic books?
Lake Effect Comic Con
First time out to Lake Effect Comic Con, and I really wasn’t expecting much. I’ve seen the pics from last year and while it didn’t look as lame as the Jeff Harper Cleveland Comic Con I went to a couple of months ago, it still looked very small and I wasn’t sure how much fun it would be. Still, they try harder, adding panels and guests and contests, and I DID advertise it last year in Violent Blue since my friend Jim was talking about it. Finally I figured that if I was willing to drive three hours to PA for a horror con where I had to pay for a ticket to get in, that there was no reason I couldn’t drive the one hour to the east side of Cleveland for a free Comic Con.
I’m really glad I did. This was an incredibly fun convention. I’d still wish for better guests, but they did bring in Bob Ingersol and Frank Cho, so I really don’t have that much to complain about. Frank was nice enough to sign a piece of art he did for the He-Man box sets and I got to watch him draw for a while. That was very cool to see.
The movies were a surprise. I knew they were doing screenings all day – the con was IN a movie theatre and they had one of the screen all to themselves. I expected superhero movies. Instead they were doing “Despicable Me”, “Spirited Away” and “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein” .I arrived too late for “Despicable Me”, but oh my GOD I got to see “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein” ON THE BIG SCREEN! Bela Lugosi, Glen Strange and Lon Chaney! I don’t care if this was one of the much maligned comedy monster gang movies…I’ve never gotten to see the real universal monsters on the big screen before. I’d have happily paid admission for that one!
I pulled out my Doc Ock costume for the costume contest. There were a lot of fun cosplayers there (not as many as I wanted to see, but the ones that were there were fun). I’m actually a little disappointed that I didn’t win. I mean, the Hugo Strange costume that did win was good, but really, it was almost the same as what I had on. White lab coat, shirt and tie, and dark sunglasses. Except my white lab coat also had FOUR METAL ARMS coming out of it!
As soon as Hugo was announced as the winner, he turned to me and said “Okay, I have GOT to get a picture with you!” Which was very cool. If I could have reached my phone I would have had them shoot a pic for me as well. Oh well, maybe it’ll turn up on facebook. His companion had the cutest Pinkie Pie (if she were Human) outfit on. Actually at first I was thinking it was Strawberry Shortcake. However when she announced it during the contest it made perfect sense. I actually thought my biggest competition was going to be the guy in the Mario costume with the turtle shells and box that made noise.
Of course the costume wasn’t without it’s problems. It was a windy day. I had just gotten the last arm on and suddenly I heard a *SNAP*! The wire that connects the arms together and allows the lower arms to move had broken off. This has happened before, but usually I had access to a glue gun or I could pop a hole through and tie it up. The wire has gotten a little to short for that this time, and the previous hole had been glued over. It took some fiddling, but I eventually punched a new hole in the arm with my keys and clamped the line to a paperclip that I put inside the arm so it was too big to pull out. It held for the half hour or so I was in the suit, which was all I needed. I’m going to have to find a way to attach those more securely. Stupid wind. I blame Thor.
Throughout the day I did check in on the Heroclix tournament going on. I saw Sam who was surprised I wasn’t playing, but really, I’m not a competitive player and I honestly didn’t want to be stuck in t hat side room all day. I caught Sean on the way out who was in good spirits but mentioned he played terribly! I haven’t been out playing for about a month and it was nice to see everyone and to check out some of the new figures from Origins.
The dealers room worked surprisingly well in the small space. I’m pretty sure I saw a lot of these same vendors at the last con I went to, but I’m always on the look out for interesting stuff and deals. I went a little nuts on the .25 bins….
I’m glad I made a couple of extra passes in that room though, because in one of the far corners, buried at the back of a table in a box where you couldn’t see what was in it, I found a bunch of the 2002 He-Man figures – $5 each. Right in the middle was a Teela.
Here’s the thing you have to understand. Mattel operates on the school of thought that girl figures don’t sell, so they get shorter production runs and are ALWAYS shortpacked. To make matters worse, the MOTU line was badly mishandled when it came to case ratios. instead of the promised “four commons, two girls and one rare” packages , you might get “six commons and a girl” or “five commons and a rare”. (The numbers aren’t really accurate, but it’s a good example of what retailers went through on this line). This causes an artificial shortage. I never expected to own one of these (or an Evil Lynn for that matter) because the scalpers want $25 for them minimum. I think I see her at Jamies Flea Market for $30. I checked eBay last night and saw several for $60. I got mine for $5!
After finding more cosplayers to photograph, I finally wandered int to catch “Spirited Away” It was about 1/3 in, but the remainder was still amazing….and really messed up. It’s actually exactly what I remember loving about Anime. Probably not enough to get me back into it, but a really fascinating movie.
I plundered the freebie table for goodies to bring home to my girls. It was funny, Lydia looked in the bag and said in a disdainful voice “You got me a button?” She and Maddie were both way more interested in the tattoos I brought home for them. Maddie wanted to put on the Supergirl and Wonder Woman ones right away, but she still has four more days of school and it’s against the dress code. Soon. Very soon.
I pulled out the stack of comics and started to sort them – I want to get these entered in my database and shelved correctly so they don’t get lost. Maddie jumped up and asked “Can I help you sort them? I’m GOOD at sorting! I do it at school!” She was good at it. We had 60 new comics organized in no time, and they girls immediately took my new Teela figure to play with before I even got a chance to look at her!
All in all, this was a really nice show and I’m grateful to my friend Jim for letting me know about it. This will likely be a regular stop for me on the convention circuit from now on. I know last year wasn’t in the movie theatre, bu that was a great choice and I hope they do it like this in the future.
I think the guys over at th PC Repair on Wheels blog may be right. The Avengers merchandising has gotten a little out of control.
Still, not often I get a post that hits the interests of both Steve and Taylor from Violent Blue huh?
I did finally manage to get out to the Avengers movie this weekend. I loaded up the girls and we hit the local Drive-in. Now if I wanted to be controversial or appear overly intellectual, I could say I didn’t like it. However, that’s not really true. It was a fun movie, and it was everything it promised to be. A big spectical superhero action flick that finally combines different franchises in a huge mash-up. It was fun.
But that’s where it stops.
In spectical , it lives up to the hype. But there’s really no story there. There’s not much in the way of character development. It’s just….meh. It’s a mindless action film – not that there’s anything wrong with that. Ahhhnald made a career of that. Stallone isn’t far behind. I don’t object to the movie being a check-your-brain-at-the-door action flick. I object to people saying it’s the greatest film ever. My friend Jim mentioned that it ruined him for all other movies! That’s a GREAT line, but this film doesn’t deserve that kind of praise.
I think I get it. You see, this is the kind of film that most of us have waited our entire lives for. I’m not just taking about pop culture junkies or comic book fanboys either. Anyone who went to see Superman in the theatre and then came home and watched Wonder Woman and Batman on TV and wondered “Why can’t they put all of these guys in the same movie?”(and seriously, was there anyone who’s under forty right now that DIDN’T do that?)…this is the film you’ve been waiting your entire life for (possibly without even knowing it). Even if you grew up and haven’t thought about superheros in twenty or thirty years, a part of you remembers. That part of you is affected and we react on a visceral level.
The cool thing about all of this is that it’s a good payoff. You get elements from the Iron Man films, the Thor and Cap movies and it almost feels like a reunion. It definitely gets the flavor of each of those franchises right, without short-changing any of them. If anything, I think it’s the best Iron Man movie of all. Joss Whedon understands something that Jon Favreau does NOT. If your going to make a movie about superheros…SHOW THE SUPERHEROS! Iron Man spent probably half of the film in his armor as opposed to the ten minuets he was in the suit cumitivly over the two Iron Man movies. I like that, and didn’t feel shortchanged at all with less Tony and more Iron Man.
I want to say that you just can’t go wrong with Cap, but a history of terrible Cap films obviously proves me wrong. Nevertheless this was a GREAT outing for him. The current handling of him has been really well done and it actually sent chills down my spine when he was diving out of the plane and telling the pilot about Thor “There’s only one God, and he doesn’t dress like that.”. Speaking of Thor, he was used well, and not overused as I feared he might be. looking at the heroclix set, he’s the most powerful piece and I was a little afraid that might be represented too much in the movie. It wasn’t and I’m very happy with that.
I asked my girls what their favorite character in the movie was. Maddie immediately piped up “Silly Hulk! Smashing that bad guy!”. I’m not a huge Hulk fan, at least in the movies. I got to admit this was a great use of him. I was really surprised at how well they managed to use him and make him a more sympathetic character. He probably had the biggest laughs of the entire movie.
All in all, it’s a good movie. It shouldn’t win any awards and I would not consider it a contender for the top five best Superhero films of all time, but it absolutely kept it’s promises and was a true pay off to the other Marvel films. I’ll be looking forward to part two. I bet the guys over at Violent Blue are too.
Green Lantern continued
SO I watched green lantern’s numbers this weekend. Not bad, but still a weak showing. People are comparing the weekend receipts to X-Men : First Class, but that’s not really a fair comparison. X-Men is the fifth in a series and may well be suffering from a bit of sequel fatigue. It’s also the first one without the most beloved character (Except by me), Wolverine. GL on the other hand is a brand new movie with a character being seen by the general public for the first time. It’s supposed to be the beginning of a series, not the ending. A more accurate comparison would be with Thor, which made about a third more in it’s first weekend, and was to be fair….a better movie. This is coming from someone who likes Green Lantern and doesn’t actually care for Thor as a character.
On the whole, I’m not totally pessimistic as to wether or not we get more GL movies. We got a second Garfield movie after week profits on the first one, and the toys are selling well enough that I still can’t find an Abin Sur on the shelves (I want to customize him into a little TV Flash). Anyhow, I did my part. I saw Thor at the Palace and paid 3.00 to get in. I saw GL at a big movie theater and paid more than twice that to see it and bought a figure. The rest is up to you guys. Green Lantern week over at Violent Blue is over!