Hall of Fame City Comic Con 2022
Besides the fact that it got canceled for a while because of the plague, I have missed a lot of Hall of Fame city comic cons simply because it’s settled into always being scheduled the week of cinema wasteland. However, lately, wasteland hasn’t really been a three day thing for me, and my daughter really wanted to squeeze in as many conventions this year as possible, considering that she had to sit out a year and a half of canceled conventions just as she had started getting into that sort of life. So, I carved up a Skeletor costume, and glued together a Batgirl suit for her and awfully went to Canton.
I will admit, I’ve kind of missed the show. It’s a genuinely good convention with a lot of heart. There’s some smart ideas here, bringing in a couple of big names… Usually one or two big name creators and one or two celebrities. It’s a formula that works both for them and for Youngstown Comicon. I was actually excited to see Rob Paulsen and Maurice LaMarche, but even more so… I was here for Al Snow. Now you may not know this about me, but I’m not a wrestling guy. I’m really not interested in wrestlers at all… But back in the early 2000s, MTV ran a wrestling show called “Tough Enough“ and like all MTV shows, they ran it constantly, and something about Al’s character on the show really spoke to me. I’ve always wanted to meet him, and was really happy when he started on the autograph circuit recently.
Much to my delight he instantly recognized the costume and was actually quite excited for it. “Somebody finally shows up cosplaying the Shadow!“. That’s actually a fun response, and it was enjoyable to chat with him for a little while.
I’ve actually chosen the Shadow so that I could spend about half of the show in a lighter costume that I could move around in… something I could see well in and still have access to both hands. But I was genuinely surprised at how many people recognized the character. The Shadow was getting a lot of love at Hall of fame city, con, with people constantly coming up to me and declaring “who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?“. I did have one young man come up to me and ask “Phantom Stranger?”. I explained to him who he was and described him as a character that Batman had been based largely on. He asked me an interesting question, “is he crazier than Batman? Because at this point, Batman is kind of gone insane…“ I had to think about this for a moment. I replied “I’m not sure, the thing is, with a shadow, there’s not much that human left in there anymore.“ That’s actually kind of cool thing not to just get to talk about your favorite character, but to explore it with somebody who’s new to the hero.
Right around the halfway point, we snuck back out to the car so I can change into my Skeletor costume. I’d been laser focused on this suit for about six weeks, carving the armor from scratch, spray painting the bodysuit to give it an airbrushed look, and installing lights in electronics specifically near the jeweled areas so they would sparkle more. I’d run out of time though, and was going to end up wearing a mask rather than doing a make up. This was a disappointment to me, but in the end, the mask looked just as striking… Perhaps even more so. Much to my surprise, I had noticed earlier that Acheww Cosplay, one of the costume contest judges, had actually shown up also in a Skeletor costume. I wasn’t sure if that was good luck or bad. My friend Micheal from far far away cosplay actually stopped me shortly after I got in, just wanting to take in the whole thing. “How did you know it was me?“ I asked. “The foamwork.“ He replied, nodding slowly. The foam shoes made it difficult to walk in, but I managed to
I’m not sure how long it was before I noticed my belt was slipping. The Velcro hadn’t separated yet, but it was certainly getting loose and causing me problems. I fidgeted and adjusted, while trying to keep my giant shoulder pads above the harness. The first time out in a new costume means that’s when you’re gonna find all the flaws. Still, I managed to shift and push the belt up enough to wedge it against my belly and keep it in place as I tried to chat with the people backstage. In her group, Maddie was having a fine time getting to know the other teenagers in the lineup. She was making friends and reassuring the ones who were nervous about going up for the first time. This is fun stuff that she’s been growing further and further into. She walks into the convention and just breathe it all in, “I am home!”.
I managed to get across the stage and through pre-judging without anything coming apart. I did however get lost on stage and I had to be turned around to hit the proper exit! That was embarrassing enough, but it got even worse when the belt gave way after I was back down in the hall. Dream, the Sandman came to my aid and help me get the thing re-fastened. It held long enough for me to get called back on the stage… And that’s when it popped for good. I took up a place right behind the green goblin, and posed in such a way where it looked like my head was resting on the belt buckle… What was really happening was my elbow was pulled in tight to keep the belt flat against my hip on one side while I angled my staff to press against it on the other side. With photos over, and us getting ready to leave, I finally gave up on trying to keep the suit together and let the ball belt come loose once I got outside. I think in the future I will be securing that thing with hooks rather than Velcro.
I may also need to rig up some sort of a spike or hook to help stabilize the shoulder pads,And remove the chain mail from around them. It’s not doing anything for the look and just getting in the way. Still, this is all the sort of thing that you go through and learn as you’re trying out a new suit. I’m very happy with the way that Skeletor was received at the convention. One person even stopped dead, pointed and said “That’s the movie Skeletor!”, taking in the jewels and the detail. It was a nice discussion about the Masters of the Universe film, and how Frank Langella steals every scenehes in. While the suit isn’t strictly meant to be the movie version, it’s certainly influenced by it. Likewise, Maddie was having a good day in her new Batgirl costume. We had settled on Stephanie Brown from the current Batgirls comic that I’ve been constantly raving about here. It ended up being a good look for her, and really well received. Like Steph, Maddie is also Distraction Incarnate! It was a nice comfortable suit, something that’s important when you’re putting her in a costume! In fact, Maddie liked the jacket so much she wants a plain version for every day wear. I’m also really proud of that belt. I 3d printed a Batman ’66 Batgirl buckle for her, as well as little black bat accents that I pasted on my standard design foam pouches. We cinched that purple bet at the back with a hook (LIKE WE’RE GOING TO DO WITH SKELETOR DAGNABBIT!) and tossed an old Covid mask and a lovely purple cloak she got from her grandmother on her. It’s just perfect.
We walked away with stacks of comics, new Lego figures and the autograph I’ve been seeking as well as fun memories. Hall of Fame is a good show, and I’m eager to return to it. We’ll see what happens next year!
I’ve always been a fan of Jim Shooter, and love the Valient universe he created. (I got Bob Hall on this one too!)
Sternako is one of the legendary Shadow artists. I got him before his autograph price suddenly tripled.
NEO Comiccon 2021
We hit Neo comicon lite just as soon as the doors opened this weekend. We had another appointment on the east side of Cleveland so we were going to be very limited in our time here and knew we’d have to be judicious in our browsing. Still, in the two hours we were there, I can’t see me or Maddie having lasted much longer than that. It’s a small show this year. No programming, no costume contest, no out of town guests. We’re easing back into conventions. Still, it was nice to see old faces and the new acquaintances. One of my buddies from Heroes United ran up to me shook my hand while another just flat out embraced me. He mentioned that he forgot to bring my Flash box set that Chris has… I was confused.
“Wait, I loaned that to Rocky!”
“Yes,” he replied and “Rocky loaded to Chris. And then Chris passed it on to me since I do more Heroes United events than he does these days! But I totally forgot today…”
I love this stuff, it’s nice to be back on the convention circuit.
I caught up with Josh and Steph and Jennifer as well, who I just seen the previous night at our birthday parties… (We did all the July birthdays together at a new restaurant in Cleveland). I haven’t seen Jen in costume in a long time, and that’s kind of cool. Josh on the other hand has pushed Deadpool to a new ridiculous level. He’s got a Deadpool version of the Mandalorian, complete with a baby carrier for the child… Except the child is Detective Pikachu. Also for no reason, there’s an alligator Loki involved in this costume. It’s glorious.
Remember when I said there were no Quarter comic bins? I’m not lying. There were only dollar bins. Sure, I dug through some of the dollar bins and found a few interesting bits and pieces, but what I really hit hard, were the toys. We found about half a dozen long boxes filled with hero clix, a quarter each or five for a dollar. I dropped five dollars. That doesn’t sound like much, but it sure does look like a whole ton when you have an arm load. Some were OP prizes or FCBD specials that nobody actually carries, as well as dozens of characters that we really like and wanted to play with. I got a new penguin and I got a rocket raccoon, I even got a gladiator hulk! Superman and wonder woman and Batman, or the one I thought was a USAgent that was actually the captain… Steve Rogers while he was in exile. Great figures, and it almost makes me wanna play again!
But the single purchase that I was the most excited for…..
I actually just bought a couple of comics from this vendor, then went around the corner and spied a small box of twenty five cent toys. When I looked in, there were tons of old Star Trek micromachines. I love the Star Trek micromachine series. I grew up reading ads for the FASA wargame miniatures, and these things one for $10 for each ship in the 80s. When this series of Micro Machine starships came out, these were five dollars for three of them. I bought most of them when they ere first on sale about twenty five years ago. In the bin I saw a deep space nine that I immediately grabbed, because The one that I bought years ago, had actually lost a pylon. Snapped right off. Replacing it for a quarter was a treat. a new borg ship, a Klingon D7, and then I looked down and I saw it. It was a saucer. I almost thought it was Miranda class… Maybe the reliant itself but it was completely round, and the lines were sharper… And I saw the registry. NCC-1701-A. My jaw dropped and I frantically dug through the rest of the bin. The saucer section, the primary hull, had broken off of this figure… I dug desprately. Finally, in the corner of the box I found the secondary hall, the body of the ship with the engines…
I see the look on your face. I realize you don’t understand.
I came into Star Trek during the movie era. Not necessarily the wilderness period, but definitely before Star Trek the next generation. For me, Star Trek is the DC comics written by Peter David and Mike W Barr. It’s the maroon wrap around tunics, and the white starship with the blue dish on the front. It’s my single favorite ship in all of Star Trek. But micro machines, in their infinite wisdom, only ever released this ship as part of a large set that I could not afford at the time. Besides, that set had every ship that I’ve already bought in it…
I have always wanted this starship and I don’t care if this one’s broken, I have superglue at home. And at $.25 been this was the single most exciting discovery I had all day. Serious biz, I can’t even tell you how happy this find made me.
So amused that I still hit 25 cent bins as hard as ever, but today it was all about toys, rather than comics. Nevertheless. I came home with some new reading material, a lot of toys to play hero clicks with my kids, and some really fun memories of what is generally the best comic convention in the area. I’m hoping they’re back to full speed next year.
Steel City Con and Pulp Fiction
Look, I knew when I was getting into. I’ve been avoiding Steel City Con for a few years now, because it’s just too big. It looks like a cattle call, a meat market… One of those large autograph focused conventions that I’ve been increasingly dropping for my schedule. However, my buddy Mike has been bugging me to ride along to a show with him for a while now, and he and his buddy had an open seat in the back of the car.
And William Shatner was coming.
I’ve been going to Star Trek conventions for a long time, and I even have Shatner‘s autograph through his fan club, but we never actually crossed paths. He made it to Cleveland a couple of times with wizard world, but we all know how I feel about that show. Being able to camp out in someone’s backseat and not have to worry about navigation or parking, it kind of changes the equation. So does the fact that Shatner is 90. This felt like my best chance, now or never. So I ponied up for the photo op… Something I generally consider to be gouging, but again… This is really my best shot, then I gathered up my Shadow costume and met the guys drive down to Pittsburgh Pennsylvania.
Steel City Con is actually held at Monroeville convention center… A suburb of Pittsburgh, and also right across the street from Monroeville mall. This is a bonus. I was going to check two boxes off my bucket list, meet Shatner, and finally visit mall where Dawn of the Dead was filmed.
The fan community in PA is just as starved for conventions as what I’ve been noticing in Ohio. The show was packed, shoulder to shoulder. The prices were high, and other than Shatner, I was really only interested in meeting two people. Comedy legend John Lovitz was signing at his first convention ever here, and I’ve loved him in everything I’ve ever seen him in. He seem to be in a bit of a mood though, he smiled brightly and cheerfully for photos, and that smile would fade as soon as the camera went down. His panel was half hearted, he still delivered some fun lines, but he really didn’t seem into it.
On the other hand Alanna Masterson and Chandler Riggs from The Walking Dead we’re both in fine form. They were happy and friendly, and just generally fun to be around. Alana walked out and looked over the attendance… And just breathed “ look at all the people! I haven’t seen this many people in ages!” She is bouncy and happy and steals the show even when people are asking questions specifically of Chandler Riggs. She’s every bit of fun in person as she always was on talking dead, and that’s a nice thing. The panels themselves though were really lackluster. There is no moderation, no one up there asking questions guiding the conversation and bring us something new. They brought the actors onto the stage, and let the audience just ask questions. The problem is, when you do that, you just get the same dozen questions that you’ve heard in every other interview, convention panel, or talk show. I was actually a little disappointed, because I’ve always loved the entertainment and programming portions of these sort of shows.
The other person I was there to meet was Larry Thomas, better known as the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld. He was strictly a target of opportunity, I wanted to meet him because he was there, and also The least expensive autograph and photo! Thomas is having a great time. He loves seeing the fans he loves mugging for the camera, he just seemed genuinely happy to be there, even down to a snarky “master of my domain shirt”, he was possibly the most fun guest that I interacted with that day.
Back in the dealers room I was saddened by the lack of comics. I guess they don’t cal themselves a COMIC con, but that’s what it is… Or at least what it started out as. Best you can do for bargain bins were dollar bins… Although I found one that was swimming full of trade paperbacks. I grabbed some Hell blazer and ultimate, some titles that I always meant to get around to like bite club, and even a strange looking ultimate Spiderman trade. I checked the volume number, it wasn’t on my list… I should’ve looked a little closer though. It’s about three or four issues, all translated into what appears to be Norwegian. I’ve got those issues in English elsewhere, so it’s just kind of a trip to see this thing. Not what I was looking for, but not a complete waste of a dollar bill.
I grab some blind bags of Doctor Who figures to open up with the kids when I got home, as well as digging through a huge box full of Disney park pins. Each, I grabbed a handful for the kids, as well as a bunch of superheroes to pin to the back of my comicon bag.
All in all, I still managed to have a fun day, the guys introduced me to Indian Food, and I got to meet Captain Kirk – really the one that started it all. Still, it was hot and crowded, and in a lot of ways exactly the sort of imagine that I don’t enjoy going to. They could probably still get me back with certain guests… For instance, a couple of the Elm Street girls are coming in the fall, and I’m tempted to make the trek back out just to grab them. But it’s definitely not gonna be a stop on my normal rotation.
Of course because I’m just that masochistic, I decided to make it a doubleheader this weekend. There was a small Jeff Harper show going on in my backyard (and God bless Harper for keeping the con scene alive through the pandemic), back at the Westlake double tree where they did the spring comic show, and where they held Retro Invasion convention back in fall of 2019. The hotel has been getting a lot of traffic with these kind of shows, and it’s nice to have some of the stuff showing up within a quickie 15 minute drive. This one was the pulp fiction show, and really I was just going to find out what it would be like. I have no idea what to expect, other than a strange flea market atmosphere. I once again donned the shadow costume and dove in. When they say pulp fiction convention, what they mean is book sale. All books, a lot of trashy pulp novels from before I was born, as well as more than enough pulp magazines, but also newspaper reprints. A smattering of comics, and a lot more paperback novels from the 70s 80s and 90s than I expected. I loaded up on James Blish Star Trek adaptions as well as Roger Zelazney paperbacks as well as a few odd ducks like a Buck Rogers and a strange zombie for dummies style book. It was an interesting show, and it would probably behove me to go with a list of shadow reprints that I don’t have, and maybe a more informed attack on the paperbacks. It was also a pleasant surprise to discover my buddies Rhonda and Criss there. I haven’t seen these two girls in probably over a year, so it was nice to bump into them, despite my full costume!
There’s talk of making Pulp fiction convention a yearly thing. And I think that’s more than enough. A quick, one day niche specialty feel like this. I’m intrigued enough to show up again if they come back!
Denny O’Neil is the legendary editor of Batman in the 80’s and 90’s. But more importantly, he was the writer of the Shadow at DC in the 70’s!
Jae Lee was one of the biggest artists of the 90’s and I was so thrilled that he did some Shadow work- I had to get him on this issue of Masks!
My personal definitive way of drawing iconic characters
Time we looked at my second favorite hero, The Shadow.
There’s a heavy influence from Eduardo Baretto from The Shadow Strikes, but really I prefer a little more kinetic feel to it.
The basic design is based on the look from the 80’s Hefler Baker run, and the look that I was getting from the covers. Sadly it’s pretty inaccurate, especially from what Walter Gibson envisioned, but it’s far to burned into my brain for me to change now!
This weekend’s cons
This weekend happening in Cleveland is the Cleveland CONcoction!
If you’re a gamer, this is seriously the place to be. They’ll be celebrating sci-fi and steampunk this year, with the chance to win a lot of the same games you’ll be playing!
There’s panels, author guests, the Wonderland Ball, the masquerade, costume contest, gameplay, live performances (you really need to check out Too The Egress) and tons more going on. This is the only con of it’s type in Cleveland and it’s exactly the kind of con I like, packed with tons of events and programming.
Friday, March 13: 12pm – 11pm
Saturday, March 14: 9am – 11pm
Sunday, March 15: 9am – 3pm
That said, I’m already booked this weekend a little further west, and will be heading to Indiana Comicon.
I’m going mostly to meet Denny O’Neil – seriously, DENNY O’NEIL! The guiding hand of the Batman titles in the 90’s! The writer of the 70’s Shadow series! The author of countless editorial “From The Den” colums!
Stop looking at me like that. I’m excited.
Mike Zeck and Mike Grell are going to be there as well!
I could actually care less about the media guests at this one (although I and going to get princess autographs for my girls- I admit it). The guest list here is really looking impressive – John Beatty, Art Thibert, Bob McLeod, Whilce Porticelo, Jae Lee, I have a stack of stuff a mile high I’m bringing, just as soon as I break out my Shadow costume….
So wherever you’re headed, be safe, if you see me in Indiana tap me on the shoulder and say hi. If you’re heading to Cleveland, say hello to the POP! members or the Z.E.R.O.S. (Zombie Eradication & Rescue Operations Squad) and give them my best! And we’ll be back with new Violent Blue on Monday!
Last Week’s Pulls
Okay, I tried to do one of these earlier in the week, this time we’ll see if I can get through it without getting distracted!
First up is the new Green Hornet book. This is a good re-introduction. It’s a self-contained story with a good resolution, though we get one page at the end that suggests this will be part of a lager arc to come. It’s not only a good jumping on point if you’re already intrigued, it’s also a good sampling issue for folks who aren’t familiar with the Green Hornet but might have been recommended. It’s got everything that makes the character great. We’re back in the 30’s, and that’s cool. While I do think that the Hornet lends itself better to modern updates than other characters like The Shadow. Back in the NOW day, they really ran with it and I loved what they did. Dynamites wasn’t bad, they incorporated some very good ideas like adding the Motorcycle and the mechanic, but I never completely warmed up to the costume and things just never quite fell into place. I’m not bothered by it going away. The whole Green Hornet : year one series had been far better done anyhow. the art was beautiful, moody and dark, much like the Bendis era of Daredevil, and it suited what they were doing with the character.
Speaking of Year one series, I did try out The Shadow : year one. It was pretty much what I expected…..it’s an origin story and that just rubs me the wrong way. I think one of the strengths of The Shadow is that he doesn’t have an Origin. Of course it’s possible that this is just one of his misdirections. After all, we have three other distinct origins – the One from Chaykn’s 80’s series, the Shamballa origin. This however contradicts the origin from the ’95 film, and neither really meshes with the one presented at the end of the 90’s series “The Shadow Strikes”. However, in that story, the Shadow does acknowledge, “One day I might tell you the story of Shamballah” suggesting that all of his potential origins are fake stories. That’s cool. I can deal with that, but if that’s t he case, i’m not going to waste my time on stories that don’t really develop the character because they’re misdirections.
I’m not complaining about this mind you – having a Shadow Year One series just shows that Dynamite is willing to exploit the license to it’s fullest. That was my biggest problem with Dark Horse when they had the character, they never put out any material. A couple of mini-series. A one shot. A team up. That’s about it. At least when DC had the Shadow, they were putting out a title every month. Dynamite has my enthusiasm because they are running two Shadow series simultaneously, not to mention specials, annuals and the team-up book Masks, which continues to be the most exciting crossover of my lifetime (getting a little crowded though. I’d rather see more Shadow and Green Hornet, and les Ms. Fury and Black Terror). This is nothing but good news, and the further we get away from the Ennis series, the better The Shadow has been. He’s fighting a lot more masked villains lately though and that feels a little unusual. It’s taking some getting used to, but it’s not a bad thing inherently. NOW managed to make that look good when they were doing the Green Hornet in the 80’s and 90’s, but then again, at that time period EVERYONE was wearing masks and spandex and armor….not so much in 2013. Still, it’s a fun book and I’m not going anywhere anytime soon.
Not a lot has changed in t he last few months. The DCU is still practacly unreadable to me, I just don’t recognize these characters anymore. Grifter is losing his title, which was one of the only new 52 ones I was keeping up with. We caught my impressions of the bat titles earlier this weeks so let’s move on to Doctor Who.
I started back up on these based on the high recommendation from my friend Don Smith. The art has improved since the Tennant series, I recognize all of the characters this time. My impression of the stories themselves however have just been……meh. It’s not bad. It really isn’t. It’s just not great….it’s not even as good as the TV series (and that’s a fair criticism. There are tons of Star Trek comics that I could point to that are superior to a bunch of the shows or films). Average isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s also not usually enough to keep me following it. This issue features the return of the Vash’narada (from silence in the library) but it really feels like I’ve seen all of this before.
On the other hand, IDW is also publishing the 40th anniversary series “Prisoners in Time”. This is featuring all of the previous Doctors in order. I skimmed the issues with one and two. I’ve just never liked those incarnations. I can sometimes enjoy Hartnell in the Target novilizations, and Trouton was fine in the two Doctors, but really they both just irritate me, and I’ve never understood why Trouton is the favorite Doctor for so many of the actors that came later.
This issue hwever…..this is the one featuring Jon Pertwee. The third Doctor. MY Doctor. He has always been my favorite, always been the one I think of as the REAL Doctor, and I’ve never seen him portrayed better in the comics.
There really aren’t that many comics featuring him in the first place and most of the ones that do exist are standard newspaper comic strip kind of art. He’s never gotten the dynamic Image Comics kind of treatment that the modern Doctors peroidiclly enjoy. I loved the art in this. It’s stylalized, kinetic and modern. Even better, it features Sarah Jane Smith as his companion (My favorite of the Thrid Doctor’s companions. Funny, I still think of her more as Pertwee’s companion than Baker’s) and they’ve got Liz Shaw back as well . Nowere to be found is that dolt Jo Grant, but the Brigidier is here as well and the story is very much an action one. I really love this piece.
There were more pulls last week, things like Red Team, which is a good series, especially if you’re a fan of procedurals like Law and Order or Criminal Minds- it deals with a group of cops turning vigilante, but I suspect there’s a bigger picture going on here. All Star- Western is another great idea series, and it seems to get better. Some people have criticized it for taking place in western era Gotham, but I’ve actually been enjoying some of that and throwing Vandal Savage in there fighting against Jonah Hex was a good idea. Still it’s another average book , and hard to generate a lot of enthusiasm about. Finally there’s Justice League Dark and Constantine. I think the whole issue with John Constantine deserves some further examination – I may revisit that once we’re a few issues into the new series. JLD on the other hand – this is a really interesting series….and too interesting to survive. I expect cancellation any day. We’ll see. For now, I’m heading off to do some Violent Blue. See you tomorrow.
Last Week’s Pulls
First and foremost, can we talk about Phantom Stranger?
This book is driving me completely around the bend. I mean it. It’s crazy frustrating. The whole secret Identity thing is just infuriating…oh you didn’t know about that? John Constantine sure does.
Yep. By day, loving suburban father. By night, dark avenging spirit of Judas. I just want to rip what’s left of my hair out. I’ve pointed out before that what is really intriguing (or used to be at least) was this sense of mystery about the Stranger. Dude, it’s BUILT INTO HIS NAME. But he’s anything but a Stranger anymore. Seriously, we know everything about him. He’s Judas, cursed to walk the earth and untill he does enough good to make the thirty pieces of silver around his neck vanish, so these days he’s playing mystic superhero in the new 52 universe, complete with secret identity. Thank you DC for completely sucking everything cool (that is to say – the mystery and slight detachment from humanity) out of this character. It’s really a shame too, because you have great scenes in this book like this one below –
How cool would that have been if we DIDN’T actually know anything about the stranger? Sure, provide a writers bible so the writers know his origins, and can write this kind of stuff into the story, but don’t just lay it out spread eagle in front of the readers….ugh. This book frustrates me so much. Especially with stunning scenes like this:
Superman is just as frustrating. I saw this cover and thought “I may have to get me some of that”. I’m not sure what I was hoping for., I was kind of thinking Metallo. Reading through, they are calling the character “Triple X”. I’m not sure who that is ment to be…is he original to the new 52? Could he be a version of Doctor Double X (one of those characters you probably only know about if you read the Who’s Who comics religiously)? I was even wondering if he was supposed to be a different version of an old Superman villain called NRG X. I know he appeared in the modern age at least once, though I haven’t tracked that story down, but he’s significant to me because he’s in one of the first Superman comics I can ever remember reading. I think I may still have a physical copy of this somewhere, I know I have a digital one.
Anyhow, even after reading the book I’m still confused. I can see they are tryign to do a myxtlplick story and I also see they are really trying to amp up his sinister. Don’t like it.
Tried something different this week. I found a book called Repossessed. It’s a kind of Fringe thing I guess. A team of officially sanctioned exorcists, and hilarity ensues. It’s smartly written and entertaining. I get that kind of “John Dies at the End” or Fringe vibe off of it and I’m hooked. I’ll definitely be picking this up again next month. They have a website you might want to check out :
I really am digging it and hope the series stays as entertaining as the first chapter.
Speaking of entertaining, I’m still with Dial H. That kind of surprises me because can’t see this series go on indefinitely and I’m not really attached to any of the characters but it’s got me curious enough to keep reading. This issues dialed hero was hilarious by the way. “Flame War” who’s insults turn into fire. So he says that blouse makes you look fat, and you shirt catches on fire. Fun stuff. There’s some sort of black ops team stalking our dialers though, and I’m curious to see where that leads. I’ll probably grab it at least one more month….if I see it and remember to.
Shadowman is still impressing me. We’re only three issues in, but what I see in this title is that it’s really trying to develop it’s own identity. It’s still grown on the back of the name’s goodwill, but it really is feeling more and more of it’s own series. There’s a LOT of the Akklaim influence with a heavier (and more traditional )voodoo storyline and a big sequence set in Deadside (something we never really saw in the Valiant version). The character is spookier than it used to be. I kind of miss the straightforward feel the Valiant one had, but the spooky one works too. Really loving the scythe. I thought I’d have to wait out the first six issues to really get a handle on this series and whether or not I like it. It’s connected with me really early and I really dig that. I’m so glad this title is back, right next to my Green Hornet, Lone Ranger and Shadow. I never figured I’d be an indy man (I expected to be a DC fan all my life. Thanks new 52).
Finally, there’s Youngblood. Youngblood has been consistently entertaining, and this stays with that. We get minimal character development (but it IS there) and a lot of pretty pictures and fun storytelling. The real Shaft is back, still in a FBI suit, and cooperating with the team (kind of) on the mystery of the murdered Vogues from different time periods. I get the impression that Terrel will come back as Shaft eventually and I’m a little disappointed about that I think. I really am liking “Not-Shaft” (as the team calls him). There’s a teaser in the back of this book that shows Terrel’s Shaft back in action along with Badrock. I suspect the next issue or two are going to be flashback to finally explain why Badrock has been in that coma on that hospital bed since the series relaunched. I do hope to see Badrock back soon, but only if they write him correctly. He was always the most fun part of the team.
And with that, I’ve got to get back to Violent Blue comics. Head over to the site and check out today’s post!
Tis the season to kvetch
Allow me a slight indulgence today, I feel the need to complain a bit.
Every year, my wife complains that I am incredibly hard to shop for. I disagree with that assesment. It’s easy to see what I have, just walk into my library. It’s easy to find something for me if you know what I’m into.
Still, she pesters me to make a list. When I make her a straightforward list, she complains that everything on it is impossible to find. That might be true if we didn’t have used bookstores, record exchanges, all of Coventry street in Cleveland Heights or the internet.
So this year, after a couple of weeks of griping at me about getting her a list I gave her a wide open one.
1. A movie with my favorite actor in it (the guy in my favorite movie – his wife was nice enough to send me her autograph). I don’t have too many of his films, and I don’t think I have any with both him and his wife in it.
2. A graphic Novel with my second favorite hero in it. There should be a trade from the current series out. (I’d settle for my third favorite hero or his grandfather though)
3. A standing coat rack I can put in the living room or my Library.
4. An action figure of my favorite Doctor. There’s a set of all eleven, but there’s no point in spending $100 when there’s only three in that set I would want.
5. A book by my favorite author that I don’t have a paper copy of (ebooks don’t count)
She flipped out on me.
Admittedly, this isn’t a straightforward list, but it leaves a lot more room to pick and choose something. She called it a guessing game.
Perhaps trying to figure out my favorite Doctor Who is a little difficult, I’ll give you that one, but you know what? If she asked Johnny, or Rachel, or even my Mom, they would all tell her who it was with no hesitation.
The rest of that list – is it really unreasonable of me to expect my wife of eleven years (who has known me for fifteen) to know who my favorite actor is? Is unreasonable to expect her to know what my favorite movie is? Those things haven’t changed in all the time I have known her. I read at least ten books my favorite author every year. If you look in my Library you’ll see more books by Zelazny than anyone else.
I wouldn’t be offended by a wrong guess either if it were close. After all, I’ve taught classes on CS Lewis and I watch a lot of Peter Davidson other work. I also used to be really into Kevin Costner’s movies, though that was long before I met my wife.
But I come back to the question, is it unreasonable for me to expect her to know these things? I flat out told her what my favorite movie was less than six months ago and refered back to it less than two. I talked about my second favorite hero to her last month when I dressed up as him. If you just read this blog with any regularity (or scroll back through the posts) you will know these things. Of course she doesn’t read my blog (which actually hurts my feelings quite a bit) or my comic strip Violent Blue.
Keep in mind, I don’t have that much to complain about. My wife is faithful to a fault. The very idea of either of us ever cheating is so absurd neither one would ever consider it. When I arrive home at 3:00 AM there are no suspicions or questions. She has no problems with me attending conventions and getting into fandom. (I can think of one person that I almost married, who would have made me give things like that up completely) Let’s face it, she didn’t even get upset when I hit Horrorhound on our anniversary insted of staying home with her. (She got me a cute squishy TARDIS for our Anniversary by the way!). She’s a good mother to our children, and was pleasantly creative enough in the process of making them. She’s happy for me when I get a big yellow envelope in the mail, even though she rolls her eyes at it sometimes. She’s devoted to her faith and will drop everything to come and rescue me if I’m in trouble (usually involving my car). I have a GOOD wife. I don’t want this to make it look like I don’t.
But sometimes I wish she knew me better. I wish she spent time looking into my interests (The ones she dosen’t share) instead of letting me watch TV and go to movies alone. She tried to turn the tables on me asking “Well, do you know what MY favorite TV show is?” I immediately answered correctly “Dance Moms”, although you also never miss “CSI” despite the fact that Lawrence Fishbourn is gone and you really preferred William Peterson anyhow. Close runners up would Be “The Little Couple” and “Little People, Big World”…and actually you watch “Law and Order : SVU” more than anything else but that’s mostly because It’s on TV constantly and you do really like Martiska Hargitay. (I don’t like any of those shows BTW, though I watch most of them with her). I frequently feel like she puts me in this box, like I’m just some stupid guy who only watches horror movies and Doctor Who, and only reads comic books. There’s a lot more to me than that and I wish she saw that.
After all, it would make Christmas shopping a great deal easier for her.
The Akron Comicon was a pleasant surprise. I really wasn’t sure what to expect as I drove the hour long trip to Akron. I checked the website earlier in the day and was disappointed to see P.Craig Russel had canceled, but otherwise everyone seemed to be scheduled to still show up. So I took the day off from Violent Blue, donned my Shadow costume and off I went.
I had a hard time find the parking the FB page recommended, but was just as happy to park on a side street and walk the block to the show. My cloak flowed in the wind and that always puts me in a good mood.
It was a smaller space than I expected, but it was used with extreme efficiency. Almost immediately I was approached by a fellow who asked If I’d like to do an interview about my favorite comics and why I was at the con today. It pays to wear a costume! I don’t usually cosplay at horror cons because I want to look normal for photo ops, but comic cons are different.
I got in a surprisingly short line for Gerry Conway, the man who created the Punisher and wrote the death of Gwen Stacy in the Spider-Man comic series. After taking their pictures with me, the guys in line behind me and I started to chat a bit. They showed me some beautiful reprints they were getting signed. Then on of them pulled out his copy of Spidy 120 – the issue before Gwen dies. I smiled and pulled out 121, and they nearly plotzed. IT was a good feeling. I related the story behind how I got that and the Punisher origin story (you can find it back here : https://argocitycomics.wordpress.com/2012/03/26/new-old-comics/ ) and they speculated on what these might be worth in the condition they are in. I was told I had at least a couple of hundred dollars in my backpack, but I wasn’t sure. These werent in great condition. They also pointed out that autographs don;t always increase value. That was something new to me, but in the end, I really wanted Gerry to sign them.
When I got to the front of the line I flopped them down on the table and re told the story to Gerry who handled then with a remarkably gentle touch. He seemed to revere them almost as much as the fans behind me, advising me “You have some really expensive comics here.” He then mentioned with a smile, “these are worth more money than I was paid to write them!”
I popped over to a couple of other tables, and got to see Mike W. Barr who wrote my favorite series of Star Trek for DC. I’m not so much a TOS person or a TNG person as I am a DC comics-movie timeline person. That’s real Star Trek for me. He was also kind enough to sign my copy of Batman and the Outsiders #1 for me and chat a bit about Jim Aparo. Jim defines the look of Batman for me and I always remember Denny O’ Niel saying how brilliant he was. Mike agreed with these statements and related a story to me about the one and only time he heard Jim complain; “It was a crossover with the Teen Titians and there were some supervillians on the cover too. He finished it and then looked at me and asked ‘They aren’t ALL going to be like this one are they?'”
It seemed like I was getting through all the lines really quickly….untill I hit Norm Breyfogels line. Now I understand he IS a bigger name, but honestly, Gerry Conways line wasn’t this long! Of course people weren’t asking him to sign entire runs of his work either. I know the sign says “No Limit” but seriously? Dropping a stack of fifty or a hundred comics to be autographed is just the lamest of fanboy behavior. Yes dude. I’m calling you out. You ARE the bad guy here and Norm was a saint to put up with you.
I attended a few of the panels, These could have been better, but were perfectly fine for a first year con. There was a fun moment during one panel on how comics are made. The presenter was using an slide show that he had already prepared for other seminars and it began with the question and definition of “What are Comics?”
“I think if youre here at this show, everyone probably already knows the answer to this one.” He topped for a moment. “Well, maybe not the guy dressed as the Shadow, but the rest of you I’m sure…” I had no comeback ready for this, but someone else did. From the audience I head a voice shout out “oh, the Shadow KNOWS!”
Lots of fun cosplayers, and a LOT of Doctor Who, including the cutest little Doctor costume I’ve ever seen on a baby. Not as many sales as I would have like to have seen though and very little in the way of film, bootlegs or rare. I would have expected at least something like the corman FF or the JLA pilot, or even Mockingbird lane. Oh well, perhaps next year.
And from what I heard, the con was successful enough to guarantee there WILL be a next year, and it totally deserves it. I’ll expect more next year, but for now, I had a blast at this years show!
Just finished the thanksgiving Violent Blue comic strips, and to think, I almost didn’t use this story idea. I did condense it down from three strips to too, which fits better with the black Friday gag at the end. Those will be up on the Violent Blue site in a couple of weeks.
NaNoWrMo Novel is coming along well. Up to 14255 words and going strong. I think my favorite two bits in it so far are :
“That’s right,” Steve said, suddenly remembering. “Last night was Rocky Horror wasn’t it? I should have thought of that.” He flipped the switch on Chloe’s Xbox. Maybe he could squeeze in a quick death match while he waited.
“Yep. We stuck around Denny’s for an extra helping of slop, and said good bye to a couple of friends.”
“That’s cool,” Steve nodded. Plasma grenade, switch, suppressing fire. Two guys down. “You’re not going to start singing the Time Warp during one of the hymns again are you?”
Chloe fumbled with the buttons on her back. “Nope. It’s not really as funny after the third time….I can’t promise I won’t break out into a Meatloaf ballad during communion though.”
“You know that’s not real wine don’t you? You won’t be able to blame it on that this time….”
Chloe stepped through the door looking slightly dangerous in her dress and heels accessorized with a spikey bracelet. “I don’t know. I’m still not sure what they put in those communion wafers.”
and, a little earlier on :
Chloe pointed towards the foot of the stage where a couple of men in leather jackets were dancing badly. “Were those the guys that you were talking to?” she asked Jen.
Jen nodded. “Yeah.”
“Go punch one of them in the face would you? I want to get a mosh pit started.”
I’m probably going to have to put in a little extra work tonight though, I want to hit 20,00 words Saturday, but I’ve still got the Akron Comicon that day too. Starting to get stoked about that too. Got my Shadow costume out and ready, and I pulled the comics I want signed by the seven guests I’m going to see. If you’re in the Cleveland area, come on out to the con and see me ! (I could really use someone to hold my backpack while I sort through bargain bins of comics)
Last Weeks Pulls
So let’s start off with Youngblood, shall we? Actually I think this title has begun to hit it’s stride. It was nice to see the team seriously being heroic for a change, and the subplot with Jeff Terrel and the dead vogues has begun to shape up nicely. I’m actually looking forward to each next issue of this series. A little surprising considering…well it IS Youngblood.
Grabbed the Shadow Annual as well. This is a lot closer to what I want to see in the character. Gangsters and New York. Not sure how I feel about the supernatural element though. I supposes it could be explained away as TK and delusion if I want to approach it from a Skeptic point of view. That’s the thing about the Shadow though, he’s not really about ghosts and demons, he’ more about human monsters. I’d have no problem with him fighting Leatherface or Michael Myers, but I don’t want to see him against Freddy or Pinhead.
Speaking of Pinhead…..
I don’t know why I keep reading Boom Comic’s Hellraiser series. No, that’s not true. I know exactly why. I have a deep emotional connection to the series. I absolutely adore the first two movies, and I still like the later ones. I have workprints of two of them and I own all of the Epic Comic series. Those are hit and miss, but when they hit…they are amazing.
I liked that Boom made it about Pinhead and familiar Cenobites. The Hellraiser movies of the last decade show us precious little of that and the Epic comics really used the established Cenobites as supporting characters to their newly created comic characters. The problem is Boom almost immediately strays. Hell is referenced as the Christian Hell rather than a transdimensional realm of order and torment. Clive Barker himself has stated in the past that the Hell of Hellraiser is not the Christian hell…it’s just a place. We call it Hell because that’s the closest description we can find.
Speaking of Clive, I know that the series professes to be written by him, but lets be honest. “Writing” those comics probably involves handing over an outline initially and coming into the office or teleconferencing once every few months to approve the plot. Whatever. Attaching Clive to the project doesn’t impress me anyhow. He did the first movie. He wrote the novella. Since then, he’s had virtually no involvement with teh series. Peter Atkins, Gary Tunicliffe and even Rick Bota have had far more influence on Hellraiser and would be more accurately described as it’s creators. When they talk about the series, I listen. When Clive talks about it, I honestly don’t think he understands what Hellraiser is. The mythology has grown far beyond that short story or that one off movie.
But I digress.
The idea of Pinhead and Kirsty trading places probably seemed like and interesting proposal, but it’s been drawn out far too long and meanders without direction. We’ve spent three issues of Kirsty uncovering Pinheads past when one could do. Back on earth, a newly human Elliot Spencer seeks other avenues of power to take over the world. None of this feels like Hellraiser. Even if it weren’t ridiculous, they missed what makes Hellraiser scary. It’s a small quiet story, destroying the lives of just a couple of people. When you try for a grand scale, it just doesn’t work – look a the third nad fourth movies. A million deaths is a statistic. A single death is a tragedy.
I can’t drop this book as much as I want to….but I just don’t know what to do….
Still loving the Anime-Con Girls digital books. I really want to read these with my daughters. I think they’d have fun with them. It’s still just anime action with slightly familiar faces and no real story, but it’s fun fluff.
I also grabbed the next Masters of the Universe digital edition. I’m glad to see Orko is still a loveable little scamp in this series. It was an interesting idea, a different art style for every page, but somehow it just didn’t work for me. It came off as annoying rather than cool. Still, this series has earned enough goodwill from me to get a pass on this one.
I jumped back on a couple of bandwagons this month just to test the waters a bit. First was Steed and Peel – the Avengers. The art’s gotten better in this book, I’ll admit that. Steed and Mrs. Peel look a lot more like they should. unfortunately, the rest of the book has a very 21st century look to it. I almost hate to say it, but these days, The Avengers NEEDS to be a period piece. You just can’t update these characters, they fit so perfectly in the 60’s. Indeed, I’d rather watch an episode of The Avengers to any James Bond movie of the same period. So when you do a period piece, it has to look like a period piece. Steed and Peel aren’t the only ones that need to look like they are coming out of the 60’s, so does everyone else….and they don’t. The hair is wrong, the lines of the clothing is all wrong, the monsters look very 2012. It pulls me right out of the book. I suspect this is a hard book to create and there may be bumps in the road still to come.
I also picked up the Green Hornet. I like this series, I really do, but somehow, it seems to fall right off my radar pretty frequently and I really shouldn’t let that happen. (Same thing keeps happening with the Walking Dead) On the other hand it is nice to grab the trades and just read an entire arc at once….
This one looks to have potential, a little light hearted but a cool superhero look and I really feel a nice familiarity with the characters that makes this title fun to return to.
I also decided to try out a couple of titles I’ve never read before. The first was Phantom Lady. I was thinking to myself as I grabbed it that this was a mistake. I don’t mind the character. I fond memories of first seeing her in old issues of All Star Squadron, but she never seemed like the kind of character that could successfully make the transition to the modern age. I may have been wrong about that . I like the costume, the action was fun and the repurposed black light is actually a little scary…the idea that it chills you, makes you feel empty. I like that. I also love the time limit on her phantom form and the banter between her and Dollman is actually quite entertaining. In fact they had me untill the last page where this villain appeared.
Just saying. This will likely be one of those titles I occasionally borrow a friends copy of to keep up on, but probably will never buy.
Also got Idolized. I think I’m the wrong audience for this. It’s basically “American Idol” for superheroes. The main character’s family was murdered by a super villain, she has powers and goes on this show to become a real superhero and avenge them. It’s just so full of Teenage High School-like drama and that’s just wasted on me. I would kind of like to know where this goes, and might take another look in a few months. I don’t know.
Higher Earth on the other hand was a pleasant surprise. The cover made it look a bit like a postapocalyptic story, but the inside felt more like Lost. We have a refugee society on an island, with one character making raids for food and supplies on parallel earths through a portal in a cave….it’s really more compelling that that sounded, I promise. I really didn’t even see the cliffhanger twist at the end coming.
That’s it for last week. I’ve got a stack of comics that just came out yesterday waiting for me and no time to read them (which is why you probably shouldn’t expect this to be a weekly feature on the site!)….busy weekend, cons, work, and a haunted house, not to mention I got to get some Violent Blue done too.
Sleep? What’s that?
Last week’s pulls
You know what? Green Lantern just pisses me right off. I did catch up on the series, and it started off alright. It actually has had some great moments and I was kind of excited for the return of Black Hand, but then we fall right back into this mulit-colored lantern corps dreck. I don’t care about any color lantern but green and that’s really what I’m waiting for. On the plus side though, Hal is slowly beginning to feel more and more familiar to me again. I guess after seven or eight years, he ought to be.
I’m glad I’m still with the Shadow. Issue five has a lot more of what I really like about the character, though I’d still prefer to see him back in New York. A lot of action and atmosphere in this one. I think however, the most exciting part of this issue was the advertisement for “Masks” – Dynamites crossover event using all these Golden age pulp heroes like the Green Hornet, the Shadow and the Spider. I’m going to be all over this series. The Shadow / Doc Savage crossover from DC in the 90’s was a bit disappointing, and I’ve never gotten my hands on the Shadow / Ghost one from Dark Horse. It seems like a tough sell, crossing over the Shadow….well actually, it’s an easy SELL, but rather a tough thing to execute correctly. Still, with an Alex Ross fully painted first issue… you just can’t go wrong here.
My first impressions of the New Star Trek : The Next Generation series is overwhelmingly positive. I love that it’s the Borg, and I love that it’s TNG movie period – in fact it’s post-movie period. Riker is captain of the Titan and Data is still dead. I’ve always believed that this is the best period to focus on because there’s so little material for it. I always believed the same of the original series. It was one of the reasons I enjoyed DC’s comic series and one of the reasons I think the current IDW series focusing on the tangent universe is an extremely good idea.
The only problem I see with the Star Trek : Hive series is the feeling I’ve seen it all before. The first issue is half “Scorpion” from Voyager and “The Worst of Both Worlds” from the DC TNG run. I’m hoping I get more out of the rest of the series. Still, it’s nice to be back in the TNG movie period and I’m definitely following this run.
Finally, I dipped my toe once again into DC’s zero issues. Why do I keep doing this to myself? Seriously. Why? I picked up Phantom Stranger, and get this : It’s an origin story.
See, the thing about the Phantom stranger, especially in the modern age is his mystery. We’re not sure where he came from or why he is what he is. That is a huge component of the characters mythos and appeal. Not only do we get a clear-cut, well defined origin for him, we also get one for the Spectre. DC! Pay attention! Not every question requires an answer! To Quote Neil Gaimen from one of his Sandman stories “I keep TELLING you: It’s the MYSTERY that endures, NOT the explanation. A good mystery can last for EVER. The mysterious corpse has a magic all its own. Nobody really CARES who-done-it. They’ll peck you to pieces if you tell them” And that DC, is why I keep kevetching. That’s what you’ve messed up, and if you keep messing this kind of elementary stuff up, the fans and I will absolutely peck you to pieces. Someone, please wake up and revert us out of this new 52 nightmare.
I’m going to go read some Violent Blue.