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Posts tagged “Comic Books

Comicpalooza : a neighborhood comic book crawl

 

It’s been a couple of years since I last hit Comicpalooza… That is, if you don’t count the mini-convention they threw last year (and I don’t). Comicpalooza is basically a couple of comic dealers engaging in massive garage sales just a few blocks apart from each other. A while back, it became a thing and they started coordinating it. What’s really taking it to the next level though, is the addition of comic shops in the area joining in as well as extra residential stops. The fact that there’s no comic book conventions going on right now probably doesn’t hurt any either.

I made my first stop out at my local comic shop, Comics Are Go. I had to run out to pick up my free comic book day summer books anyhow, and the sidewalk sale was on in force. The shop at set up a huge table full of long boxes front and back, all for $.50. In addition to that, Shawn, The founder of Neo Comicon, had set up additional tables and filled them up with just as many pops as you’re likely to see at any convention! There were some boxes of loose toys, pins and patches, and generally fun bric-a-brac. I loaded up on 50 Cent issues here, and was particularly delighted to grab a copy of Ted McKeever‘s plastic forks. I brought it in and pointed it out to Eric, the shop owner. His reply was “I could have put this out as one of those weird, rare titles that nobody knows and nobody will pay attention to. I figured, it was a better idea to put in the 50 Cent bins so someone who really appreciates it would just… discover it.”

Definitely A good way to start the day. I headed from there to the first residential location in Amherst. Turns out, I’m doing the route backwards… At least the opposite order then when I previously going on this comic book crawl. The first stop was hot and I scored in a enormous stack of books, not least of which were some classic gold key stuff. A Lone Ranger, Ripleys Believe It or Not, that kind of stuff. It’s exciting to find these kind of books affordable. I also spent a lot of time padding my pre-crisis JLA. At this point in my life, I’m trying to collect more stuff from that mid 70s early 80s pre-crisis era and Comicpalooza didn’t fail me.

Next stop was only a block away but a much smaller set up, A tent with a few tables of long boxes for a dollar. While I didn’t come away from this one with an armload, I did manage to find some key issues, including the second issue of the Marvel Select Mandrake series. This is a beautifully painted series that keeps Mandrake the Magician in casual clothes while dropping him into modern times. It’s surprisingly compelling and beats any other version I’ve seen of him.

My final stop ended up being another deep dive, with me discovering A ton of Blackhawk – all set during that weird futuristic costume period. I also managed to pull out a little bit more justice league, fills some holes in my Suicide Squad collection and find some oddities. Oddities is a lot of what I ended up looking for. Stuff like the Sledge Hammer comic and fun odds and ends.

It was a good day. I probably walked away with over 100 comic books, just the kind of haul that would be normal for me going to a convention with some good quarter bins. I went broke before I could head out to the comic shop that’s located in the local flea market, but that’s OK, I’m already familiar with their stock and today I was more interested in these collections that I don’t usually get access to. I had a good time digging through those boxes in these guys garages, while chatting about our favorite independent series, and where exactly the industry is going to go next. It was also nice to bump into A couple familiar faces from the convention circuit  that I haven’t seen in a while. 

Definitely a good day, I’m always bragging about how the Cleveland area has such a wonderful comic book culture, but it’s events like these that really remind you just how good we have it out here! Hope your weekend was just as productive

 


Halloween Comicfest 2018

events44197871_10156566648277278_8772047484592586752_nLike a mini Free Comic Book Day, but better because there’s candy. And more horror. And it’s freakin’ Halloween!

44944489_10156594177012278_5581272093770645504_nLike FCBD, Carol and John’s comic shop holds an event every year. Anyone in costume can grab one of each of the free books, (and candy) but those not in costume are still welcome to grab three if they like (and candy). There’s also a photo op setup with a giant Pop figure box (and candy), and the shop cat Winston even dons his festive holiday sweater (he guards the candy)! Maddie and I donned this years halloween costumes and headed out. It’s one of my favorite events every year and no one does it as well as Carol and Johns (though my other regular shop; Comics are Go do thier best as well, inviting artists and making a big deal about it as well!). Not every comic shop does Halloween comic fest, so I hope you were all able to get out and find one who does! Here’s our photos from the day!

 


Free Comic Book Day 2018

eventsCoverIt was about 4:30 when the boss poked his head in my office. He said it wasn’t very busy right now and he didn’t expect anybody else to shop today – that I could head out early if 31945578_1919186758125738_829164490422484992_nI wanted to. I grabbed my Iron Man helmet and was out the door like a shot, on my way to Carol and John’s. About 5 o’clock I put down my lawn chairs, set up the TV tray and made myself a nest in line. Just like every year, I looked at the clock and wondered what was I doing? I mean, honestly what am I going to do for the next SEVEN HOURS? Of course, then the next time I checked the clock I was shocked to see it was already 11:30…
There are Free Comic Book Day celebrations to one extent or another all over The United States on the first Saturday every May. Even here in the Cleveland area, Comics Are Go brought in my friend Marc Sumerak from Marvel comics as well as local artist Rick Lozano to sign pieces and sell their work. Imaginary Worlds in Cleveland Heights seems 10to have picked up the baton from York comics, utilizing FCBD as a food drive and offering extra free comics to anyone who brings in canned goods. I always liked this approach, I’m glad to see somebody is still doing it.

Still, the fact is that nobody does Free Comic Book Day like Carol and John’s. The event the night before officially begins around 10 o’clock, but the line starts long before that. I mentioned that I got in around five, and there were already 20 people ahead of me. Card tables had popped up for people to play board games on, Magic tournaments were going on. Cards against humanity was out and in the streets there was dancing. A podcaster set up in the corner and was interviewing avengers as they walked 31898242_1893737123970493_231055518104289280_nby. As the day turned to evening and the skies got darker, Jedi and stormtroopers marched along the road – lightsaber battles took place in the night air. The Ghostbusters arrived, and super heroes were everywhere you looked.

At my nest in line, my friend Mayday was the first to arrive with his lovely bride Pam. We chatted for a while before joining the rest of the Scooby gang at the Red Lantern, two doors down. I grabbed an appetizer with them, and when I got back to my place in line my friend Jen had arrived with pizza for all of us.

When the doors opened at 10, we hit the bar for free beers, thier bottles adorned with artwork reminiscent of this years guest of honor comics legend Jim Sternanko. Across 31946010_10156190699692278_8902142860032212992_ntown, the comic shop had arranged a dinner with him and about 20 guests – my friends Nick and Taylor arrived back at the shop late from that dinner and just a few minutes ahead of Jim himself.

In the meantime we hung out at the art show and I was delighted to see one of the artists had contributed a painting of the Shadow! Stetnanko is famous for is Shadow covers, indeed the one piece of his that I have signed is one of his Shadow illustrations. It made my day to see this homage, and I grabbed a print of it for myself. Before I made it out of the art show, I ran into my buddy Ryan, his wife and new baby… I played peekaboo with the little one, using the visor on the Ironman helmet. While in line in there, a tiny Darth Vader chatted me up, fascinated by my “Bones” Iron Man suit and showing me the lights on his Vader costume. I caught him later, getting into a lightsaber fight with Kylo Ren outside.

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31945847_814943612025019_5281759499957305344_nI made it back to the nest and gathered everybody up for a group photo over at the Rubber City booth, a little something to remember the night from before it was time to lineup for the free comic giveaway. As we got back, people in giant donut costumes wandered up and offered us tiny cupcakes. We packed up the nest, tossed the chairs in my car and got ready to go through.  It’s always surprising how quickly the night goes, and I’ll be honest – as soon as I’ve gotten out of the comics line I vanish back home because I’m only going to get a few hours sleep before it’s time to do it all again properly on Saturday morning!

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Saturday; the actual Free Comic Book Day, is always a much different kind of event in the evening one. There are  more kids, and they were absolutely enchanted by my Slimer costume. My daughter Maddie came with me, donning her now–too– small Supergirl costume and on the hunt for Pokémon, Simpsons, and DC superhero girls, and of course Marvel zombies once we got into the shop.
I ran into my friend Rhonda while making the rounds, and we all made sure to get our photos in the pop figure box… I wasn’t confident of my ability to get in and out of the box Friday night, and the photos showed up better during the day anyhow. Even in Slimer though, it looked a little tricky – I ended up taking off the costume and setting it inside the box and just taking a photo of that.31924679_1920078671369880_1781156270892384256_n

In the end I only hit three shops this FCBD. C&J’s, Comics are Go (Where they recognized Maddie from the Backyard Zombie Movie series) and Imaginary Worlds. I got all but about three books I wanted. As we headed home, Maddie was digging into her comics, and recommended sparks to me. She was right about how funny the story of two cats in a robotic dog suit was. She also pulled out the Doctor Who book and exclaimed “Dad, isn’t this your favorite Doctor?” Number seven is in fact, not my favorite, but certainly ranks among the top four. She brought home two books specifically for her sister as well, Invader Zim and Street Angel’s Dog. This is really cool to watch ger recommending stories to me and other people. For herself, Maddie found a copy of Supergirl meets Scooby Doo and it blew her mind.

And of course this is really the whole point of Free Comic Book Day – to support the local shops, and get involved in the community. Hope yours was just as amazing.

 


Pinhead vs. Marshell Law

bestuntitledp1It’s ben a Hellraiser kind of year and I couldn’t resist sneaking one more reference in. I may be streatching the definition of “Best comics you never read” though….

It’s more weird. The Hellraiser comics were popular enough, with stunning cover art. A lot of people flocked to the awful Pinhead limited series, but this one kind of slipped under the radar.

Hellraiser is a niche audience. So is Marshall Law. Putting them both together gets you an even more rarified audience, no a wider one, so it’s no wonder this kind of came and went without notice.

I get the impression that there is far more Marshall Law influence here than Hellraiser, though it has some interesting ideas, it’s mnostly hack and slash drenched in satire and heavy handed social commentary.

It’s worth picking up out of a dollar bin for the sight gags and simply as a curiosity, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to seek it out.

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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.


(Re)visiting X-Men

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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.


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!


Stark Future

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sf1 86Okay, I’ll admit, this isn’t great space opera. It’s fun pulpy sci-fi trash, but I just can’t help but pick these up whenever I see them in the quarter bins.

It has a very 80’s style to it – sometimes almost an RPG look, with it’s dystopian space adventures, but that’s kind of the cool thing about it. Remember, this was being published at a time when sci-fi comics were like Atari Force or Omega Men or Guardians of the Galaxy – all spandex superheros in space. This is more like Mad Max in a starship…at least until we hit around issue 10 and it starts to get more spandexy…….

sf2 86Still, it’s got some good imagery and tends to be a fun ride. The series ran 17 issues and is worth buying for .50 an issue, maybe even a dollar if you’re feeling generous. They’re getting harder to find though as the 80’s inches farther and farther away from us.


Akron Comicon this weekend!

acff1 copy

My favorite comicon is coming up this weekend! Seriously, do NOT miss this event! Just look at these guests!

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The Human Target

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Vertigo was publishing a great Human Target series. Crictally acclaimed and featuring a beloved B lister from the classic backup stories of the silver age comics.

That’s not the series I want to talk about.

This cover was from a one-shot special based on the original TV series that was buried on ABC vs. the Olympics – but we’ll save that for later. Check out this month’s “In Defense of”. This is a much more straightforward story than the convoluted Humand target of Vertigo. You can see that the crew got some photos and maybe an advance script but not a lot of info beyond that.  It follows the show’s formula though Chance doesn’t look so much like Rick Springfield as he does the classic Chance. Funny, I’m not sure which one I prefer….This Chance is different from the original in that he’s got a team working out of a jet instead of working out of a little office but the idea is still the same.

imagesCABHAZ3FNevertheless, this is a good little story that frequently finds itself in the dollar or less bins and serves as a nice edition to a TV series that was cancelled all to soon.

You’d think that was the end of the story wouldn’t you?

A decade and a half later, the Human Target came back to TV. This time even further removed from it’s source material. Ironic considering the entire reason the network picked it up was because they liked the Vertigo comic.

Like the previous series, this one spawned a comic book as well. Because there was imagesCAO8YNFFmore of an arch in the series though, the comic feels a little more out of place than the 90’s one did. It ran a couple of issues and was mostly forgettable. Grab the 90’s comic if you see it instead of this newer one. You’ll thank me.

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Nomad

bestuntitlednNomad is really kind of a guilty pleasure. He’s quintessentially 90’s with the long hair, the gun and sometimes-trenchcoat. Paste this persona on a pre-existing character with ties to Cap so he has some history and volia! We have a winner!

There isn’t much more to this than what it appears. Biker hero with a gun and stun discs who spends half the run taking care of a baby (nice twist). If you ever watched the syndicated TV show “Renegade” around the same time, you get the picture.

These aren’t bad stories. I pick them up when ever I see them in a dump bin. It’s fun reading from an era I remember fondly, but don’t go into it expecting any depth.


The Sandman Presents : Love Street

bestuntitledThe Sandman was really the lynchpin of Vertigo in the early days, though we all knew it had a set expiration date. Neil Gaiman had said as much almost from the beginning. When it ended, Vertigo replaced it with the Dreaming, which had it’s moments but never quite captured the wonderful horror edged fantasy that Gaiman had set just inside the borders of the DCU. It was  trying to hard to be the Sandman, whereas the Sandman never tried to be anything. It just was.

They also did a bunch of The Sandman Presents mini-series. most have a similar problem, but Love Street stands apart, likely because of the heavy Hellblazer influence. Many of the Dreaming characters are here, but John Constintine really anchors this piece which starts with him as a lad in the 60’s and then fast forewards into the present.

You can skip most of the Sandman sequals, but definitely check into this one for a fun mystic mystery and perhaps a better look at everyone favorite hellblazer.


NEO Comic Con

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I’d really love to tell you all about NEO Comicon. The problem is, I wasn’t paying attention. I spent much of the con with friends and didn’t snap a single picture – so some of the details are more background….but let’s rewind a  bit.

I got there late, and was shocked to find the place was packed. I mean, PACKED – they got over 1700 visitors, nearly twice the amount they were expecting and even halfway into the show the joint was jumping. I found this surprising because as I was driving in, I saw just as many cars leaving the con as I saw coming into it.

Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised. The promoters did an amazing job of getting online buzz  and word-of-mouth going. Even that first year at Akron Comicon (a bigger show than this mind you) I don’t think I saw this same level of awareness. It sure did seem like everyone I knew was going to this.

I was coming directly from Church, so there was no way I’d be doing a long, involved makeup like the Thing (which I feel a little bad about considering my Thing costume was actually 11863293_1021250464586043_2562674986638811197_nfeatured in Scene Magazine’s promo for the show….) but I still wanted something a little more interesting than my standard go-to of the Shadow. I decided to pull out my old Doctor Octopus costume – an outfit I haven’t worn in over four years – not since my first time out at Lake Effect Comicon. I made a couple of upgrades this time around as well, extending the upper arms and adding claws to them – claws that really snap and grab. Nothing was more fun that noticing someone looking at the arms then suddenly snapping the claws at them and watching people jump.

As soon as I entered the dealers room I found my friends in the nearest corner and ended up hanging out with them for most of the rest of the show (and then swiping a bunch of thier photos for the blog). They immediately put me to use using me as a battering ram through the throngs of people – you remember that scene in Spider-Man 2 with Doc Ock parting the crowd in the train? Yeah, that was the idea.

3723431-0774789316-spideAs we passed through the con I noticed that there actually was a panel  going on. This was something unexpected. No schedule was posted and I had no idea  that there was going to be  ANY programming. I did know there was no costume contest, but the con did let cosplayers in free which shows they really do value us  and the walking, talking atmosphere we provide far more than the extra $3.00 they might make from thier admission fee. I would have liked to see more 11870799_10206146137111227_6927026301227771022_nprogramming (I spend two weekends a year at this hotel for Cinema Wasteland. There’s another room on the ground floor that wasn’t being used and could easily have been turned into a screening room of some sort) and for the existing programming to be better advertised, but the fact that they had anything at all really does show that they want a quality con.

It was bigger than I expected, with every inch of the dealer’s room packed. Very good vendors, not to mention fun tables  as well – the cast of from “TRACE : A Doctor Who Fan Film” along with the Tardis and 2 Weeping Angels were there in the center of it all, providing the best photo op anywhere in the show. Prop makers, not to mention a full size RC R2D2 in one booth, Jango Fett in  carbonite, and some great Comic creators. I stuffed a bag full of back issues, grabbing more of that Gambit series I’ve always meant to get to, as well as more Guides to the Marvel universe (I’ve got a thing for reference books). Look in the background – you’ll see me digging through long boxes with all four arms…..

11891211_877703205611520_2929705278904078324_nCrowded aisles, and some logistical errors, but all in all a very strong first year. A great deal that the promoters can learn from this  first turn out. I wouldn’t be surprised if they found a different venue next year (they’ve mentioned either this or expanding to more areas of the Holiday inn) and add some more events. They’ve already mentioned adding a costume contest . There’s certainly big ambitions here and with such an impressive beginning I can see them improving on the model for next year.

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The Muppet Show

bestimagesCASFY8A1One of the initial offerings from Boom! Comics, this comic really captured everything about the show that made it great. It didn’t ignore subsequent generations of Muppets (the way the more recent Disney films have) but it focused on the familiar, set it back at the theatre and really pushed to recreate the sense of fun and friends that we had wit the Muppets.

Boom really took advantage of this license, putting out side projects like Muppet King Arthur or Sherlock Homes alongside of the core title. They obviously got the characters and had great love of  the source material.

Then Disney bought Marvel.

The Disney Licenses were yanked from Boom! which would have made sense…except neither Disney nor Marvel did anything with them. I would have understood if Disney was to start releasing it’s own muppet comics, but the closes they ever came to that was reprinting THESE untitledmstories in tabloid size editions.

If you’re a fan of the Muppets, hunt these down. They collected some into tades and those Disney collections are still around here and there. This is the best the Muppets have looked since the original TV show.


Pop and gaming

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Whether it’s a video game, board game, role playing game, card game, dice game or LARPing, fun will be had by all! If you miss this meeting, do not pass “go” or collect $200!

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AllAmericon this weekend

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Once again All American Comics brings you the Mahoning Valley’s #1 comic book and art show. Now entering it’s sixth year, we’re sure this one will be bigger and better than even last year’s show! We’re heading south for this one, but with guests like Michael Golden and Renee Witterstaetter I’m definately intrigued. It was a decent show last year and I said I was interested in seeing how they grow. Head on out and check it out with me!


Spider-Man loves Mary Jane

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I first discovered this at a Target in a tabloid edition. It was the first mini series (four issues) and cost about $5.00. I grabbed it thinking it was Spidey related and I’d save it for my daughters.

I never expected to get hooked.

See, Mary Jane is a tough sell for me. She’s far too often superficial, vacuous. Kirsten Dunst’s portrayal of her in the Raimi movies is a perfect example. I hate her. I know it’s the Nerd-gets-the-girl cliché, but I just can’t stand her.

This series takes a different approach. It’s the Spidey universe through the eyes of a High School MJ. She still lapses into superficiality sometimes but you can see there’s more there and it’s a really great look at the Spider-Man story from a different angle.

The characters are all there, Flash is still a jerk, Harry is a bit of an amalagam of the comics and the movies (which, to be fair, NEEDED to happen) and Peter Parker is a bit more a nerd than usual. Makes sense from MJ’s POV. Liz is actually a lot spunkier than I recall and Gwen Stacy is portrayed as a bit of a spaz. The differences work though and somehow, Sean McKeever  REALLY pulls it all together in this engaging package that I just couldn’t put down, finding myself eagerly awaiting the next month’s issue.

The initial four-issue miniseries, Mary Jane, originally intended as an ongoing series, began publication in June 2004 under the Marvel Age imprint, a line of comic books by Marvel Comics aimed at younger readers. a second four-issue miniseries, Mary Jane: Homecoming, which began publication in March 2005. Unlike the first series, Homecoming was not published under the Marvel Age imprint, but as a regular Marvel Comics title, because Marvel Age had by then been restructured into the Marvel Adventures imprint. a second four-issue miniseries, Mary Jane: Homecoming, which began publication in March 2005. Unlike the first series, Homecoming was not published under the Marvel Age imprint, but as a mjregular Marvel Comics title, because Marvel Age had by then been restructured into the Marvel Adventures imprint.

Unfortunately the series ended with issue #20 when McKeever left for an exclusive DC contract. An attempt was made to revive it but it never felt the same. The last series was cancelled after five issues. I jumped ship after two. A real drag for me as well, because for two years this WAS my Spider-Man title. It was the only one I was getting. Better than anything going on in the flagship title.

Still you can find the first and second series in digest form and I really recommend them. I’ve even see the first one at the Library in the Manga section. You may want to check it out first before deciding if you want to commit to hunting down the last twenty issues of that third series…(but trust me…you do!)


Pop and women in comics

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With so many great female characters and so many amazing women creators in the industry, it’s only right to celebrate their might! join us at 6:30 in parma!

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Pop- continuity shifts

After two meetings of riding the twists, turns, rearranging, shuffling, rebooting and retro-streamlining of our favorite companies and characters, we thought it would be a good time for some healing as we discuss the importance and relevance of the ever changing continuity of comics. Head on out to parma at 6:30 for a talk about continuity in comics!

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The Marvelous Adventures of Gus Beezer

best893487-1I always liked this title but it suffers far too much from comparison to Calvin and Hobbes. This isn’t Calvin and Hobbes, it lacks the satirical wit that was aimed at adults. This is far more kid driven – but it’s GOOD kid driven.

Gus is a little boy with an active imagination who loves comic books and superheros- of course t he big difference is that he lives in the Marvel universe where there actually ARE superheros!

He sometimes lets his imagination get away from him and it begins to intrude on his real life…playing with his sisters jump rope and pretending she’s the lizard…

It was a fine series and was reprinted in tabloid size under the Marvel Adventures banner  to be sold in Targets but never went any further than it’s original four issue run. You may find some of these still floating around. It’s worth it just to see his tirade at J. Jonah Jameson over his Spider-man editorials…..gus2


Lake Effect comicon this weekend!

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I love this con! movie screenings, creators, heroclix tournaments, and admission is free! you’ll find the best deals here and really, it’s always a great time! I’ll have the girls with me (They both got new costumes and I have to recycle my old Spider-Ham outfit. Somehow I don’t think that’s fair) so if you see us, tap me on the shoulder and say hi!

Lake Effect Schedule of Events

  • 7:00 – Dealer Setup Begins
  • 10:00 – Show opens for general admission
  • 10:30 – Scott Pilgrim movie begins
  • 11:00 – Door Prize
  • 12:00 – Door Prize
  • 12:30 – Panel One begins – Small Press discussion
  • 1:00 – Door Prize
  • 1:15 – Panel Two begins – Original Comic Art discussion
  • 2:00 – Door Prize
  • 2:15 – Costume Contest
  • 2:30 – Panel Three begins – Cosplay discussion
  • 3:00 – Door Prize
  • 3:15 – Sherlock Holmes Smarter Brother movie begins
  • 4:00 – Door Prize
  • 5:00 – Show closes

Lake Effect 2015

 

 


Crossovers at Pop!

swWow! 100 meetings! With Marvel’s “Secret War” looming over us, this is the right time to delve into our favorite crossovers, both between different companies and in house. Join the west side meeting in Parma at 6:30!

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In Defense of Generation X

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Poor Generation X. This title was doomed from the word go. It’s a shame too, because Scott Lobdell and Chris Bachalo created a great title, a true successor to the New Mutants, a modern version of that premise with interesting interpersonal relationships and fun characters propelled into the spotlight in the wake of the crossover event “the Phalanx covenant” in all the X-Books.  They got four issues in….

Then the Age of Apocalypse happened.

The series was put on hiatus for half a year while that event played itself out and by the time the series came back it had to rebuild practically from scratch, and discovered a good chunk of their audience had drifted away.

I always kind of looked at it as a four issue mini series, but in recent years I’ve been picking up later issues where I can. You can see a lot of lost momentum and like I said, it’s a shame.

Pick up the first four issues if you see them, or grab the trade paperback Generation X Classic: Vol. #1 and see if you don’t feel that same sense of wonder and potential I did when I was following this back in ’94

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Fantasticon

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I must be crazy, trying to pack two conventions into one weekend, but when  Dirk Manning brought this one to my attention I really was intrigued. They were bringing in Scott Spiegal, the writer of Evil Dead 2, as well as promoting some  interesting stuff like a Kiss cover band. It would also be a great opportunity to unveil my new Mr. Freeze costume….so I packed up my stuff, and off i went to Toledo.

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I’m  not sure what I expected. I’m sure I didn’t expect to have as much fun as I did. Scott is a brilliant little ball of energy, outgoing and friendly. He loves Horror hosts, and Ohio is definately the right place for that. We reminisced about our favorites and I introduced him to the Kreepy Kastle before unrolling my evil Dead two poster. He loved looking at all the names, and added his own, along with the inscription “Don’t make an Ash out of me!” running into one of the other autographs.

His panel was incredible, hearing about working with Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell in high school, having to sit out Evil Dead, and coming back for two. I love this guy, one of my favorite celebrity meet and greets.

Only a few media guests at this one, and that was well done. They did bring in a couple of Walking dead  alumni, the two walkers Michonne had with her when she originally appeared on the show. Unbelievably, they were charging $30 per autograph, and $20 for a  photo. I don’t know where they thought they were, but this was not the kind of con for those kind of prices, and quite frankly they arn’t worth that kind of coin. The Walking Dead cast is out of control, and I hope they walked out of there with empty pockets. I also hope that in the future, Fantasticon  will bring in lower priced media guests. With the announcement of Jonathan Frakes next year, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

They brought in some great comic talent as well, most exciting to me  was William Messner-Lobes. Definitely a great catch, who I remember especially for his run on the Flash. He wasn’t alone though, and I found myself also at Arvell Jones table as well, with a stack of All-Star Squadron in hand for him to sign!

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I changed into my costume a little later (walking a city block to in it to get from my  parking space to the convention center…still closer than at Indiana….) and  headed in. There were some great costumes there, I walked in  and saw a pitch perfect Wiplash – I was certian he was going to win the costume contest.

11014905_952184674825956_447683158752958647_n The contest was so much fun with so many amazing outfits, the winner ultimately being Lady Pyramed head taking first and the scariest Scarecrow I’ve ever seen taking second. I was excited to get third place.

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I ended the evening catching the War Machine performance. War Machine is a Kiss cover band and a great deal of fun.

21328_952184114826012_6985322165349783488_n After a few technical difficulties, they launched int some recognizable hits and a nice selection of B-sides. The guy playing Ace was a beast on guitar and did a  dead on impression of his accent and laugh.

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All in all, a good first year, and I’m tempted to hit them up again next year. It was an interesting strategy, scheduling the adult costume contest and the Spiegal panel on Sunday. It certainly drew a nice respectable crowd, and made Sunday a really fund day at the time most cons are winding down (Sunday at Wasteland is dead depressing, people packing and checking out, catching those last few movies they may have missed earlier in the week). I dig this, and had great fun partying just as hard Sunday as I had on Friday and Saturday at Wasteland. I’m definitely interested in seeing how this grows next year.

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