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26. Brooklyn’s Grand Comics Festival Returns June 7th

Grand Comics Festival 2014

The Grand Comics Festival 2014 a small but very friendly comics show is returning this June, although slimmed down to one day. Exhibitors include Sam Hendersn, Nick Bertozzi and organizer Pat Dorian. Admission is free, and there is the best sandwich shop ever around the corner.

Saturday, June 7th
Bird River Studio
343 Grand St. (marcy + havemeyer)
Brooklyn, New York.

2 Comments on Brooklyn’s Grand Comics Festival Returns June 7th, last added: 4/22/2014
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27. Lion Forge Comics forges ahead into 2014

New comics company, Lionforge, showed off an intriguing selection of licensed and original comics at Wondercon last weekend. SBTB_1_cover_Page_01The company’s licensed comics include modern adaptations of popular 80′s and 90′s TV shows, Saved by the Bell, Punky Brewster, Miami Vice and Knight Rider, while original series include comics based on six time WWE champion, Chavo Guerrero Jr. and another with MMA fighter, Rampage Jackson as superheroes.

The editorial team is helmed by industry veterans, Adam Staffaroni, who worked in editorial at Boom! and DC comics, and Shannon Eric Denton, a longtime staffer at DC’s now defunct Wildstorm imprint (Staffaroni is working on the YA and All Ages Roar Imprint for Lion Forge). Lion Forge is currently a digital only outfit with titles available for purchase on iverse’s comics plus app and the kindle for amazon but company insiders hinted that wider distribution will be available soon.

2 Comments on Lion Forge Comics forges ahead into 2014, last added: 4/23/2014
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28. Interview: Noelle Stevenson talks about her hit book Lumberjanes


Variant cover from Lumberjanes #1

Boom!’s new young adult, creator-owned series, Lumberjanes, about a scrappy gang of girls fighting monsters that lurk in the woods behind their summer camp, has been generating a lot of positive buzz and some early reports of solid sales as well. Boom! Confirmed that pre-orders for the first issue topped out at a respectable 16,000 and one comics retailer told The Beat that they’ve already sold 68% of the copies their store ordered, adding that they’ll probably need to order more #1′s when the 2nd issue comes out. The series features an all female creative team, including Boom! Editor, Shannon Watters (who also conceived the story with Grace Ellis), artist, Brooke Allen, and writer, Noellle Stevenson (who co-writes the story with Ellis). Stevenson’s popular web comic, Nimona, is being released by Harper Collins in 2015 as a full length graphic novel. She took time out of a busy signing schedule at Boom! to answer some questions for Beat readers:

SO: what’s it like working on a team with all female creators?

NS: it’s awesome obviously! Everyone is so cool. This is my first time working on a team to make a comic. I’m used to doing my web comic so I (usually) draw everything I write. Brooke, who’s our artist – were on the same wavelength – so every time she draws something I write, she draws exactly what’s in my head. I am thrilled with it. Everyone I work with is great and were all best friends!


Variant Cover from Lumberjanes #2

SO: Was Lumberjanes your idea or did you all come up with the concept together?

NS: It was originally Shannon Watters and Grace Ellis’s concept and they brought me into it early in development. I did character designs and then I started developing the direction of the comic to go in but it was originally Shannon and Grace’s idea.

SO: With all the discussion in the comics industry around sexual harassment lately, I wanted to ask you about the comic you posted on your tumblr about what it’s like to be a woman in a comic book store. Would you consider that sexual harassment?

NS: I would not consider it sexual harassment. Maybe technically it is, because it’s based on gender and sex but I think sexual harassment should have a little more gravity. I never felt physically in danger. I never was propositioned or groped or anything like that. So, really, I’ve gotten it a lot better than a lot of other people have in comic book shops. Having made that comic and seeing it get passed around, a lot of people added their stories to it. I (saw) stories of what I definitely would consider sexual harassment. One (woman) said she went into a comic book store in a Batman t-shirt only to have a male shopper get very angry at her and demand that she take the shirt off, then try to take (it) off of her.

SO: What I got out of reading that comic is that you would like for comics shops to be more welcoming to women. Is that what you were trying to get across?

NS: Well really what I want is to walk into a shop and be treated like a valuable customer who’s willing and able to spend their money, just like I would in any other shop. If you walk into a shop and you’re not treated like a valued customer, you’re not really going to want to spend your money there. When I walk into a shop and my choices are disparage(ment) or someone condescending to me or they’re like, “oh, are you here for your boyfriend?” that makes me not want to spend my money there. I’m really not asking anyone to roll out a red carpet … But it would be nice that if you have any kind of question about a comic that it be answered without condescension. I think it’s a pretty low bar honestly! Just treat everyone that comes in as basically a source of money for your shop. It just seems like good business to me, really.

SO: when is Nimona with Harper Collins coming out?

NS: That is due out in Spring, 2015. It’s a young adult graphic novel. It’s going to be basically what’s online but there will be some extra pages, some of the earlier pages are going to be redone. there’s going to be some extra content too to kind of encourage the people who’ve already read it online to pick up the paper version.

SO: Thank you for taking the time to talk with me! I really enjoyed reading the comic and I’m looking forward to reading more of your stuff.

NS: Awesome!

1 Comments on Interview: Noelle Stevenson talks about her hit book Lumberjanes, last added: 4/21/2014
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29. Dark Horse to Publish The Art of the Venture Brothers coffee-table book

Yessss! The Art of the Venture Brothers will be a huge collection of original artwork, character designs, storyboards, painted backgrounds, and props from every episode of The Venture Bros. with accompanying commentary on the development of the series from cocreators Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer. And as you know, those guys can commentate with the best of them. If you clicked the above link, you will have seen the list price is $39.99. Patton Oswalt pens a foreword. 

In addition to Publick and Hammer, artists we can think of who have worked on the show (off the top of our head—there are lots)—include Stephen DeStefano, Carly Monardo, Esao Andrews, Bill Sienkiewicz and so on…so it will be sweet. The book, which was rumored at SDCC 2013, will be out in October 2014.

As for Venture Brothers Season Six? That’s due in January 2015, last we heard, although a one hour special is planned to air this fall.

1 Comments on Dark Horse to Publish The Art of the Venture Brothers coffee-table book, last added: 4/21/2014
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30. Wondercon audience hungry for Bob’s Burgers


Bob’s Burgers’ Louise Belcher (via wsj.com)

If large crowds and enthusiastic cosplayers at Wondercon are any indication, Fox TV’s Bob’s Burgers is definitely gaining in popularity. With two years in a row of Emmy nominations in the Best Animated Series category and past episodes currently airing in syndication on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim block, after four seasons and a fifth in the works, Bob and the rest of the Belcher clan are cultivating a devoted and loyal fan base.

For those unfamiliar, Bob’s Burgers centers around the titular small diner staffed by Bob Belcher, his wife Linda and their three weird kids, Louise, Tina and Gene. The writing is always hilarious, often subversive, and kind of unexpectedly heartwarming. The Beat had the pleasure of getting a brief sitdown with show creator, Loren Bouchard and voice actors Kristen Schall (Louise Belcher), Dan Mintz (Tina Belcher), and John Roberts (Linda Belcher) before their standing room only panel Saturday evening at at Wondercon.


Bob’s Burgers Wondercon cast selfie (including John Roberts, Dan Mintz, Kristen Schall, and creator, Loren Brouchard) via Kristen Schall’s Twitter

As anyone who tuned into last night’s episode, Ambergris, probably knows, the episode introduced a new character, the nare do well brother of the Belcher’s eccentric landlord, Mr. Fishodor (guest-voiced by comedian and actor, Zach Galifinakis). Bouchard told us the character will be around “doing some extra landlording” for a three episode arc that will culminate in this season’s finale. Bouchard also shared that next season will open with a musical episode centering around young Gene Belcher’s musical aspirations. He said that, “over the course (of the episode) you end up watching Diehard: The Musical and Working Girl: The Musical.”

Although, according to Bouchard and crew, Fox currently has no merchandising plans in the works, they frequently receive handmade gifts from fans. When informed that there were a lot of convention goers wearing homemade replicas of Louise’s trademark bunny-eared hat at the show ,Schall, said, “Oh, nice!” and told us that she is the proud owner of a few fan-made hats. They are, however, releasing an album featuring music from the show later this year on iTunes from 20th Century Fox.


Tina and Louise Belcher cosplayers at Wondercon

There’s also a new five issue comic series from Dynamite (reported at last year’s Comic Con) that’ll hopefully be out later this year. Time seems to be an issue though, as Bouchard (presumably along with members of his writing team from the animated series) will also be writing the comic. “You know, it’s funny,” he says, “Adventure Time interests me but I’ve only seen the comic, I haven’t seen he show. But I have kids now and we were reading the comic book together and it’s actually had a big effect on me. I love the way it’s put together.” He added that the comics will not “not necessarily be a long narrative” and that “each character kind of has their own section.”

With lots more Belcher fun on the way and with all the other tidbits fans of Bob’s Burgers are eating up, it sounds like the comics will go down nicely too.

1 Comments on Wondercon audience hungry for Bob’s Burgers, last added: 4/21/2014
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31. WonderCon News Round-Up: X-Files Zero, Dark Ages, more Artist’s Editions, and MORE

There was a wee burst of comics news at WonderCon, and here’s a quick round-up.


Two more Artists Editions from IDW including John Buscema’s Silver Surfer, reprinting Silver Surfer #5 and #6 and more. AND Walter Simonson’s Manhunter and Other Stories Artist’s Edition reprinting the whole story by Simonson and Archie Goodwin.

A new mini-series set in the Judge Dredd universe, Judge Dredd: Anderson, Psi Division written by Matt Smith and drawn by Carl Critchlow. The story picks up 24 years following Judge Dredd; Year One.

¶ Busy IDW also signed Locke and Key artist Gabriel Rodriguez to an exclusive. It is their first exclusive.


¶ Dark Horse announced Dark Ages by Dan Abnett with art by I.N.J. Culbard. How does Culbard turn out SO MUCH WORK? Maybe I’m just imagining it. Anyway the pages look great. Intro interview here. The elevator pitch is “Kingdom of Heaven meets Starship Troopers” as medieval mercenaries take on alien monsters who appear to be hellspawn.


¶ IDW also announced a five-issue miniseries called The X-Files: Year Zero for this July, continuing in the tradition of its X-Files Season 10. In it Agent Mulder investigates a previous mystery from the 40s and we meet agents Bing Ellinson and Millie Ohio, two previous investigators who one presumes looked anxious as they faced supernatural threats and vaguely defined sexual tension. Karl Kesel writes, Vic Malhotra (The X-Files: Conspiracy: The Crow) draws the 40s segments and Greg Scott (The X-Files: Season 10) draws the contemporary scenes. Carlos Valenzuela does the regular covers.

In the 1940s, a shadowy informant known as “Mr. Xero” directed the FBI to a number of paranormal cases that would soon be classified as “X-Files,” which were reserved for the improbable and unexplainable. When faced with an eerily similar “Mr. Zero” in the present, Agent Mulder resolves to uncover the truth about who this mystery person is and their connection to these cases.

IF this is not enough, our Pals at CBR have exhaustive coverage of other panels and news.

5 Comments on WonderCon News Round-Up: X-Files Zero, Dark Ages, more Artist’s Editions, and MORE, last added: 4/21/2014
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32. Yen Press announces Yen On light novel imprint, new manga licenses

It seems that there were about 8,000 comics and anime cons this weekend and they all had news. At Sakura Con in Seattle, Yen Press announced a new imprint called Yen On which will publish about 24 “light novels” a year, including A Certain Magical Index (left). Light novels are shortish genre novels aimed at what we’d called the YA demographic. Yen also announced some new manga licenses—including one by the co-author of most of Urasawa’s masterpeices—and here, I’m just going to quote the PR, because I’m lame.

King of Eden
Takashi Nagasaki, critically acclaimed co-author of Monster, 20th Century Boys, Master Keaton, Billy Bat, and Pluto, pens a sweeping new masterpiece of the grotesque with artist SangCheol Lee. Released in cooperation with Haksan Publishing, chapters will be serialized digitally with global availability beginning May 1, 2014.
PandoraHearts ~odds and ends~
The dark whimsy of Jun Mochizuki’s New York Times best-selling world comes to vivid life in this art book featuring over 120 color and black-and-white illustrations from the imagination of the author. This lavish edition will be available in November 2014.
Gou-Dere Sora Nagihara
Two-dimensional love bursts into reality when Sora Nagihara leaps off the manga page and into Shouta Yamakawa’s life in this hilarious fantasy romp from Suu Minazuki. The first volume will debut in November 2014.
Love at Fourteen
Fall in love with Kanata and Kazuki, two unusually mature teens, in this bittersweet manga from the creative talent of Fuka Mizutani. The first volume will be available in November 2014.
The Angel of Elhamburg
Aki returns to the Yen Press list with the tale of a precarious friendship between a king and his knight that begins to crumble under the weight of jealousy and contempt as a beautiful angel looks on. The Angel of Elhamburg will release in Spring 2015.
Published digitally in two volumes by Yen Press in 2013, Yukito Ayatsuji’s spine-chilling horror novels make their way to bookstore shelves in a hardcover omnibus edition under the Yen On brand in October 2014.
A Certain Magical Index
One of Japan’s most beloved light novel series (and one of our most requested), A Certain Magical Index will help launch the Yen On venture. Kazuma Kamachi’s epic tale of clashing Magicians and Espers, accompanied by Kiyotaka Haimura’s lush illustrations, will debut in Winter 2014.
Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?
One of the light novel category’s latest breakthrough successes, Fujino Omori’s hilarious fantasy about a hapless adventurer and a failed goddess, with illustrations by Suzuhito Yasuda, will round out the Yen On initial launch list in Winter 2014.
Regarding the Yen On light novel program, VP and Publishing Director Kurt Hassler said, “We’ve been nurturing and publishing light novels successfully for years and are energized by the prospect of expanding our efforts through the Yen On initiative and putting these books into the hands of faithful supporters who have been clamoring for them. We look forward to adding even more titles to our already impressive line-up!”


1 Comments on Yen Press announces Yen On light novel imprint, new manga licenses, last added: 4/21/2014
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33. All DC’s weekly comics will end in March 2015 and then…

…well, we’ll know by then I suppose. On Facebook, DC co-publisher revealed that all three weekly series will have a similar stopping point.

Dan DiDio Batman Eternal started this April and runs to next March after which it takes a brief hiatus, Futures End starts this May and ends the last week of March 2015, and Worlds End starts in October and ends the same week as the others next March, hope that clears things up. Thanks DD

Hm, maybe all this “World’s END” and “Future’s END” stuff is a clue. ( But Batman is ETERNAL.) It’s worth noting that this is right around the time DC relocates to the West Coast, so maybe everything will just end and DC will publish Big Bang Theory Comics. Or maybe a new Crisis is coming. Or everything will be daily webcomics. Or…maybe it is just a scheduling thing. Stay tuned!

11 Comments on All DC’s weekly comics will end in March 2015 and then…, last added: 4/22/2014
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34. Kibbles ‘n’ Bits 4/21/2014: That old verbal visual blend

First off, thanks to Nicholas Eskey for his WonderCon coverage this weekend. He did a smashing job covering some diverse panels, including Con Talk-Back — sounds like it was a great time.

§ On his mailing list, Warren Ellis had a bit more about his revamp of Project Superpowers, which will apparently be a single series:

Let me catch you up: a few days ago, Dynamite Comics announced that I’m going to do a short serial utilising the same 1940s public-domain characters that Alex Ross and Jim Krueger used for their PROJECT SUPERPOWERS series. My book will not be the same as their book. At all. More on this will be said soon. The idea crystallised while I was watching TOP OF THE LAKE, oddly.

I have actually been fascinated by those old characters for a great many years. Golden Age comics, as they’re called, are strange things. This is something I’ll get into with you at a later date, once the thing’s up and running, I think. There’s a haunted nature to many of them: like the pulps, some of them are a window for pure id to stream through.

Top of the Lake is a TV miniseries by Jane Campion and Gerard Lee about a female detective who investigates the disappearance of a 12-year-old girl who happens to be pregnant. Well then!

§ Washington DC’s Awesome Con attempted to set a record for most cosplayers this weekend but they fell more than 1000 people short. But it got them a lot of press and people had a good time.

Two follow-ups to last week’s extreme reaction to Janelle Asselin’s Teen Titans cover critique.

§ The writer of the new Titans bool, Will Pfeifer defended the new title, understandably, but was also appalled by the reaction.

I don’t agree with her opinion of the cover, but it’s appalling the reaction to her. As a writer, and I’m sure for Kenneth as an artist, we want people to respond to our work, even if we don’t agree with it. We want to put our work out there and have people react. But this kind of thing is insane! If you disagree with her, that’s fine. If you agree with her that’s fine too. But if you’re threatening her or just doing some crazy mean attack, grow up! That’s all I would say, grow up. Have a conversation, don’t threaten. It’s so out of my wheelhouse; I know it goes on, but I can barely believe this goes on!

§ David Harper puts the inappropriate reaction in a wider context of fan over-reaction”

Even when you leave the world of threats on industry professional’s lives and bodies, you hear about experiences like the one Noelle Stevenson had at a comic book retailer, where she was treated like a complete joke when she was just trying to buy comics from them. The lack of respect she received, simply because she was a woman, would be enough for most potential readers to drop their interest in buying comics in a heartbeat. And it’s not just women who have these experiences. My nephew, once an interested neophyte comic reader, was berated and mocked when he went into a shop simply because he had the audacity of wanting to buy a “Deadpool” comic. Nothing else. He just happened to want to buy a comic that the people who worked in the shop didn’t deem good enough, and they made sure he felt their disdain. He didn’t buy that “Deadpool” comic, or any comic that day.

§ In case you missed any of the very fine and thoughtful reactions to Asselin’s first piece, Jill Pantozzi has her own reaction and a good round-up of the strongest pieces. I know you didn’t miss these, but I wanted to get that out there.


§ Returning to the topic of actual comic books, R.C. Harvey is a long time comics critic and scholar whose main these is that comics should be a verbal/visual blend. He has a new piece up analyzing a bunch of newer “non fiction” comics and finds them very word heavy, such as the work in Super Zelda ( a proper page is shown above) and The Bohemians.

As the humble comic book has graduated from the denigrated throw-away periodical to the esteemed and culturally significant “graphic novel,” the shelves of the nation’s bookstores have been increasingly polluted with the works of ambitious well-meaning comics enthusiasts who don’t understand the medium and whose perversions of it not only threaten the form but indoctrinate an audience with false perceptions: readers of such lame endeavors will have a skewed understanding of what graphic novels are and what the cartooning arts are capable of.

While I agree with Harvey that Chester Brown’s Louis Reil is a far superior artistic work for many reasons, it’s also true that graphic novels are more popular than ever, and most lay readers aren’t that put off by the “over captionizing” that so many non fiction comics use. There are definitely some stinkers out there, though. Hopefully, as “applied cartooning” is studied more, there will be fewer stinkers.

§ Speaking of graphic novels, here’s Flacorwire with 25 Best Graphic Novels. You will have to click through slide-show style, and for those who couldn’t stay the course, this is a decent basic list. I liked that it included some more difficult books like Asterios Polyp, and also it reflects a wider minority experience with books like Yummy and Stuck Robber Baby. How excellent it is that there are so many good graphic novels to put on lists such as these.

§ Oh and FSU’s Joelle Garcia reviewed The Beat itself.

1 Comments on Kibbles ‘n’ Bits 4/21/2014: That old verbal visual blend, last added: 4/21/2014
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35. WonderCon Anaheim 2014: The Talk Back!


John Rogers looking as stoic as usual.

John Rogers looking as stoic as usual.

Though WonderCon has been in Anaheim for three years now, no event goes without some sort of hiccup or two. Myself being more use to the larger conventions like Comic-Con in San Diego, I was prepared to hear a pummel of negative feedback from the line gathered for this year’s Talk Back panel. A familiar face, president of Comic-Con Internation John Rogers, sat alone at the table, thick notebook at the ready. Those not in the know, this panel is geared toward hearing the thoughts and concerns of fellow convention goers to see what was done well, or what issues need to be addressed. Comic-Con’s Talk Back’s are known for some heated words and hurt feelings.

But for WonderCon, that really wasn’t the case.

What I thought would have been a large line actually only mounted to maybe about a dozen individuals, almost of which had positive things to say about the convention. The compliments ranged from, “easy check-in process,” “great hotel selections,” to “very well managed.” The consensus though was “please keep WonderCon in Anaheim.”

The few meager grievances that were mentioned were the lack of chairs afforded to exhibitors, and of security. It seems that every year, despite what convention you go to, security is always an issue. Since these conventions get so large, a third party security company is needed to help. They aren’t direct employees of the convention, but of the security company, and this allows for a lot of the security personal to be unaware of certain comings and goings. “One security guard told us to wait in a line against the wall for one of the halls, and then later another security guard told us we couldn’t be there,” says one man. “It’s hard to have to listen to someone when they don’t all communicate.”

As for suggestions for the future of WonderCon, one gentleman asked if there were plans to expand into the other halls and rooms of the convention center. John Rogers answered, “We’ve added some additional space compared to last year. We don’t want to go too crazy too fast. That’s what happened with Comic-Con, and now it’s just too hard to manage.”

As I mentioned earlier on how everyone asked to keep WonderCon in Anaheim, the very last person in line posed the question directly; “Will WonderCon be back in Anaheim next year?” In reply, Comic-Con president said, “At this time nothing is finalized if WonderCon will be back in Anaheim next year. We are looking at a few other options, so we’ll make that announcement once we know.”

I was happy to hear all the great things said by WonderCon attendees. The air was positive, and everyone seemed generally happy with how the convention was slowly evolving. Whether or not WonderCon will be back in Anaheim next year and keep these good vibrations, it will remain to be seen.

~Nicholas Eskey

6 Comments on WonderCon Anaheim 2014: The Talk Back!, last added: 4/23/2014
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36. Disney Explains Importance of Life Drawing


Disnery Master Teachers teaching the crowd about Life Drawing

Disnery Master Teachers teaching the crowd about Life Drawing

When someone thinks of the name “Disney,” many things can come to mind; Some may think of their theme parks. Some their animated films. Some may look back on fond childhood memories. And others might think of a cartoon mouse that wears pants, gloves, and shoes. But when I hear “Disney,” my first thought is that of “quality.”

Disney has been pushing the boundaries of films, animation, and attraction technologies for many decades. But the one thing that ties them all together is the detail that goes into them. Take for example the movie The Little Mermaid. Before then, animated movies still hadn’t found a spot in the mainstream of feature films. After seeing that film, no one could deny that it was something great. The animals and characters alike were so well done, just as the sceneries.

Life drawing is the practice of using a model and drawing/sketching it out. Disney has done the practice consistently for many years. They’ve been known to have models come to the studio so they can sketch them and see how they move. Even a baby elephant or two has made it to their studios for study. And what of 3D movies? John Lasseter of Pixar and Disney Animation used a small camera to understand how things looked from a small perspective in his second Pixar feature A Bug’s Life. With this, he was able to have artists do preliminary drawings to later get the three dimensional effects to look realistic.

The current masters of Disney teachers pass on the importance of the practice to the next generation of Disney designers and animators. The four that showed for the panel today held at beautiful WonderCon Anaheim were Bob Kato, Karl Gnass, Mark McDonnell, and Dan Cooper, moderated by Fast Company’s Susan Karlin. Each of these artists have been doing what they do for a number of years, and have a number of books published on the practice of life drawing.

After a brief hiccup where an audience member (who in my personal opinion was celebrating 4/20 in hard fashion) kept interrupting to say how much he respected these men, Susan Karlin led the collective through their thoughts on the subject of life drawing. Karl Gnass explained that, “Life drawing is based understanding. When a show is over, that is your resource to go back to.” Bob Kato added, “Drawing is a language. A show may need a certain style, and you need to be able to speak it.”

The panel then further went into that life drawing allows the artist to understand how someone can move, can bend, how it ultimately works. Art ultimately references real life in its core. “If you’re designing without a foundation, you’re designing a lie from a lie; Something from an abstract idea. And the further you get from the truth, the more it gets distorted. Like the telephone game.”

Whether you draw, design, or whatever, you have to put the time into understanding what you are doing and how you want to convey that. “There are no shortcuts,” says the panel almost in unison. “There needs to be skill, life in it. You have to have an understanding of the infrastructure.”

Ultimately what it comes down to is that no matter if you’re going to be a 2D artist or a 3D one, life drawing helps to teach one how to give their creation life and emotion. Having this particular skill in your artistic toolbox will keep your work real.

~Nicholas Eskey

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37. Nothing Rotten at the Rotten Tomatoes Panel

Rotten Tomato AudienceStill upset that that movie you absolutely loved got such negative reviews? Fuming that it got a pretty rotten status on Rotten Tomatoes? Posting an angry rebuttable on a message board will just illicit people calling you a “noob,” and perhaps some other more colorful names.

Returning to the convention is the always popular Your Opinion Sucks: Rotten Tomatoes Critics vs. Fans. The critics comprised of Tim Ryan, Christy Lemire, Scott Mantz, Alynda Wheat and Alonso Duradle, with Matt Atchity as moderator. Trolls and fans alike can argue with the panel of critics either for or against a movie of their choice, with the audience readied to voice their own opinions with paddles that say “fresh” on one side and “rotten” on the other.

This year, the movies ran the gamut of Ender’s Game, Black Hawk Down, Frozen, and even Grave of the Fireflys. One of the movies that shocked me greatly was when The Goonies was brought up, and half the audience gave it a “rotten” status. The critics too were torn with the movie: Half for it, and half against it. I thought though that the general atmosphere kept a fun and lighthearted vibe. This type of panel is known to create one or two heated debates that almost threaten the removal of somebody, but things remained rather civil.

Most memorable would have to be the first to voice their opinion; a small boy by the name of Gabe. The movie he so passionately argued for was Transformers, saying that the action was outstanding. He then proceeded to demonstrate the action sequences by making shooting motions with his hands and then bomb explosions, all of course complete with ample sound effects. Scott Mantz in particular tore into the boy (with good humor). When given his 30 second rebuttal, Gabe simply said to Scott, “You have no taste!” Gabe as it later turned out is the son of moderator Matt.

Most bizarre was the last person up to pose a movie argument. Standing at the microphone, in what I can only describe as a black muumuu with large red stripes running down the sides of it, was a man who wished to be called “master.” But we’ll call him Zack for this article. Zack wanted to argue against Star Trek: Into Darkness, going as far as to say that the movie was “the worst thing I’ve ever seen.” The crowd pretty much cried in uproar, with a few people in rotten agreement, including a couple of the panel members. What ensued was a discussion on how remakes on pre-existing Star Trek movies shouldn’t happen, alternate time lines, and action sequences. Definitely a fun note to leave the panel on.

It was enjoyable to hear the arguments that each person presented for, or against, a particular movie, even if some of them weren’t as sound as others. Thank you critics of Rotten Tomatoes for making an enjoyable evening of not-so-witty banter, and I can’t wait till next time.

~Nicholas Eskey

4 Comments on Nothing Rotten at the Rotten Tomatoes Panel, last added: 4/20/2014
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38. Wondercon ’14: 20th Century Fox Presentation

Maze RunnerFox pictures have a number of exciting movies coming out this year, spanning a number of different audiences.

Guest moderator Ralph Garman introduced the first movie, How to Train Your Dragon 2. Director Dean DeBlois and surprisingly Jay Baruchel (voice of Hiccup) took to the stage. After showing a completed first five minutes of the movie (which looked fantastic by the way) DeBlois elaborated that this second film of what is to be a trilogy takes place five years after the first movie, showing how our characters and the village have both grown and learned to make living with dragons part of their daily lives. “We also see that Stoick (Hiccup’s father) has changed from seeing his son as an embarrassment, to becoming an overly proud dad that has high hopes for his son. Hiccup can’t deal with these aspirations.” And we’ll be introduced to a new villain, Drago Bludvist, and how he plans to put a permanent wedge between the humans and dragons. How to Train your Dragon is coming to theatres June 13th.

Following next, Ralph Garman introduced the cast of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes to the stage. Director Matt Reeves, Keri Russell, Gary Oldman, and Andy Serkis. “This movie follows years after the virus is released from the first movie and humans are extinct, or that they are thought to be,” says Matt. “We see that Caesar now is the leader of his tribe, and he has a family; a wife, one teenage son and a new baby.”

As it later introduced into the film that humans are still alive, it creates a conflict between the two species and inside Caesar himself. “Caesar is an ape, but he also had a human dad,” explained the director. “And he knows how it is to lose someone you love, so he’s empathetic to the survivors. He has to walk a fine line between his feelings and keeping his tribe together. And we see how there was a possibility that two could have lived together, but of course we all know what happens. That’s not a surprise.”

After watching the short movie clip they show us and listening to the discussion of the internal struggles on both the important parties of the movie, it’s difficult to decide who you want to root for. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes will be seeing theatres this July 11th.
Based off the widely popular young adult book by the same name, Maze Runner is what I see as a futuristic Lord of the Flies. This movie adapted by James Dashner’s book has all the makings of the next Hunger Games, by which I mean futuristic technology set in a forest setting, and the murder of teenagers. The movie does have some exciting action shots for those who like to run and fight, thrown in with a lot of CGI.

Presenting the movie were the director Wes Ball, author James Dashner, actor Will Poulter, and actor Dylan O’Brien (made famous by the series Teen Wolf). The author confessed that for his book a number of influences were the book Ender’s Game, the book Lord of the Flies, the show Lost, and his fear of mazes. “Remember in the Shining with the maze scene? Mazes creep me out. If you’ve ever been in a corn maze then you know.” The anticipated Maze Runner will be out September 19th of this year.

Moderator Ralph Garman introduced a last minute addition into the screening lineup. Coming out this fall is a spy movie called Secret Service. Its notable actors are Colin Firth (famous for many things including his portrayal of Mister Darcy in a BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice) and Samuel L. Jackson who will be playing the villain in this movie. Its setting is somewhere in the U.K., and the premise is that it deals with an organization that is funded by private investors as to not be hampered by politics and bureaucracy. The action sequences appear to be a faster paced Avengers, and technology stolen by Spykids. Still a work in progress.

And finally, what the Arena seemed to be waiting the most for, Ralph Garman introduced X-Men: Days of Future Past. The extended trailer and snippet of the movie looked beautiful and action packed. Unfortunately as a last minute change up, director Bryan Singer didn’t show (for reasons I’m sure we all know), but in his stead we had writer Simon Kinberg. He elaborated on things in the movie spanning from the politics in the 70’s, art styles of the bleak future and bright past, and as well as the convoluted concept of time travel. “Even though in the original comic that the movie is based off of they had Kitty go back in time, we decided that Wolverine worked better. James Cameron really helped us with the idea of time travel and how it scientifically would work, so you’ll see a lot of that in the film.”

In part of his final words, Simon Kinberg also added that he hopes this movie will make up for the failures of the 3rd X-Men movie, which was based off of the Dark Phoenix comic arc. X-Men: Days of Future Past will be out May 23rd; Not soon enough.

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39. WonderCon ’14: Warner Bros. Presentation

Into the Storm(Some minor spoiler ahead)

Located in the Arena of this year’s Anaheim Wondercon, Warner Bros. treated us to a sneak peak of three upcoming movies that will be hitting the big screen in the next few months. On June 6th, the 70th anniversary of “D-Day,” Edge of Tomorrow will hit theatres nationwide. Starring Tom Cruise and Bill Paxton, this futuristic world on the edge of ruin has Tom Cruise’s character waking up in handcuffs on what appears to be an army training base. He is then approached by Bill Paxton’s character, an army official. It is explained that Tom Cruises character was charged with impersonating an army officer, and is told he is going to have to join the fray for his punishment. As a surprise guest, Bill Paxton himself emerges on stage of the Anaheim Convention Center’s Arena to outcries of cheers. “My character decides that [Tom Cruise] will be reborn again through battle,” says a grinning Paxton. “It’s his nuts and his life on the line.”

Through the trailer, we are led to believe that Earth has come under an attack from a mechanical alien threat, and that this army base is one of the units brought together to fight them back. “I head a unit called J unit, a rag tag collection of men and women,” says Paxton. Along with some heavy duty weapons, J unit comes complete with exoskeleton like armor suits that the characters run around in for what I imagine is for increased strength. “I had just arrived on set, my first day, and Tom was running around in a prototype of the suit. He yells at me, ‘Hey Bill! Have you been working out? Cause these things are heavy.’” Paxton said that the suits needed to be aided by chains because of how heavy they were for the actors. “It was Brutal.”

But what is the ringer for this movie is that Tom Cruise’s character dies in this movie. A lot. Every time he does, he wakes back up in the past, finding himself again in handcuffs. This Groundhog’s Dayish loop adds an interesting twist to this Sci-Fi flick.

Next up for Warner Bros. they have Into the Storm. Directed by Steven Quale, this New Line Cinema collaboration puts the audience in the middle of a fictitious small town as it is relentlessly hit by what seems like wave after wave of tornados. The film style switches between the use of traditional filming and handheld cameras, creating a more authentic like experience. Some of the actors which were present here at Wondercon were Max Deacon, Jeremy Sumpter, Arlen Escarpeta, and (brace yourselves) Richard Armitage. Yes, Thorin Oakenshield of The Hobbit movies.

After the crowd recovered from their near fainting spells, the director and cast discussed how it was to be on set. “We were in the middle of one hundred-a-mile fans, not to mention strewn debris and falling water,” says Richard. “The water was freezing,” added fellow cast member Max Deacon. Into the Storm will be out this August 8th.

And lastly for this presentation Warner Bros. showed what is undoubtedly one of this year’s most anticipated movies. Ever since the teaser at last year’s San Diego Comic-con, fans of Godzilla have been waiting patiently for its release. As it was announced to the audience, the name elicited cheers from everybody, including this reporter. Director Gareth Edwards was also greeted by equal praise. After showing us about five minutes from the movie where Godzilla meets with an almost equally tall but winged creature, Gareth talked about the overall experience of working on the film.

“I thought that out of everything, designing Godzilla was going to be the easiest part. Cause everyone has an idea of what Godzilla looks like. But it actually was the hardest part, because everyone has an idea of what Godzilla looks like. It took almost a year for his design.” Gareth had the idea to do the designing from silhouette. “Silhouettes are all easily recognizable for what they are supposed to be. I thought we should start with that. We started with a Rubik’s Cube like shape, black on white background. We prodded and pulled each piece, rotating as we went, till we felt we got it.”

Though all three movies do look quite promising, by sheer gauging of the crowd’s reaction I would have to say Godzilla is the most anticipated. The Warner Bros. and Legendary collaboration will be out May 16th of this year. I have faith that director Gareth Edwards with his love of monsters will do it justice, and wash from our collective mouths the bad taste left by its predecessor.

~Nicholas Eskey

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40. Asbury Park Comicon 2014: My Highlights

AsburyParkCCJust some quick thoughts on last weekend’s Asbury Park Comicon…

  • The train takes two hours from New York.  If you are exhibiting, that means getting up before the sun.  I left after work, and checked in on Friday night.  Slept in, moseyed down stairs.
  • The hotel was engaged in a dispute with the restaurant manager.  So no bar or restaurant, not even a simple breakfast.  I had some snacks, and there were food trucks for lunch.  Otherwise, nothing nearby on the shore in the early morning.
  • Two levels at the hotel, but the rooms interconnect.  It was easy to move around… the crowds were not challenging, but it seemed lively.  I think the panels and food pulled people away from the booths.
  • I spent almost the entire convention chatting with exhibitors.  I did some shopping on Sunday, but all of Saturday was spent with artists.
  • J. H. Williams III is a very nice guy!  He had original art from Batwoman, way outside my price range, but fully inked!  No color needed!  Or text.  IDW or DC needs to do an artist edition off the boards.  Creator-owned work to come, but no news.
  • I bought two pages from Tim Truman, who is making his own comics as well as illustrating the Grateful Dead archive CDs.  I bought the pages for two reasons: the art is stunning, the thumbnails on the back.  A Justice League page had rough crayon sketches (in reverse).  For a more recent Hawken page, Truman took a thumbnail, then used a 3-D pose program to create each panel’s staging.  That was printed on the back of the page, then lightboxed for fully rendered inks.
  • Serendipity smiled… while chatting with R. Sikoryak and Kriota Willberg, I was privileged to peruse preliminary pages from an upcoming Kickstarter Windsor McKay project!  Keep an eye out!  It’s gonna be amazing!
  • I had lots of fun brainstorming with people!  Some ideas I gave freely to the creators, others I might develop myself!
  • Comics?  Oh yeah!
    • Jinx, Volume 2: Little Miss Steps (While Archie Comics does a great job with The Gang, this series is woefully ignored.  J. Torres!  Rick Burchett!  Terry Austin!  John Workman!
    • Astro City: Shining Stars (a duplicate, but on sale, and I’ll probably gift it onward)
    • The “Nam, Volume 3  (Hey, Marvel! When do you plan to reprint this series?)
    • The 100 Greatest Marvels of All Time, #21-18 (A “Best Of” series, from 2001, reprinting:  Avengers #1, Uncanny X-Men #350, Amazing Spider-Man #122, Captain America #109, )
    • Imagination Rocket: Sicence and Social Studies Volume (a comics textbook with some great creators!)
    • Band SAMSUNGErin Humiston, with his self portrait, and that of the author, Christine Humiston.
    • Dennis the Menace: Dennis and the Bible Kids: Moses (Published by Word Books, Dennis is taught about a biblical hero.  Drawn by Hank Ketcham, the pages alternate between Dennis and biblical full page illos.  The color registration is off, which is very noticeable in the “real” illustrations.)
    • Uncanny X-Men #401 (The “‘Nuff Said” issue.  Co-starring President Clinton!)
    • Wimmen’s Comix (#14) Presents Disastrous Relationships (1989!  What a list of creators!)
    • 1974 Comic Art Convention program book.  (Forty years ago!  Where are they now?)
    • San Diego Comic-Con Comics #3 (1994.  Dark Horse.)
    • Classics Illustrated #9: Tom Sawyer (adapted by Mike Ploog)
    • The Comic Reader #159 (August 197  “DC Axes 23 Titles!”)
    • God Nose: Snot Reel (Jaxon, 1971)
    • 9th Art Ink, by Jude Killory
    • Kid Blastoff #1 and Biff-Bam-Pow! #1 (Good clean wholesome fun from the House of Fun!)
    • Schmuck Comix #1
    • Invisible People S&N hardcover  (Only $35!)
    • Consumer Comix (A PSA comic funded by the government, produced by Kitchen Sink, detailing all sorts of frauds and cons.)
    • Abortion Eve (A 1973 comic explaining the new law.  Straightforward, without the baggage of forty years of arguments.)
    • Visiting NASA #1 (a mini-comic by Alison Wilgus, who has an upcoming book with First Second!)
    • boobage, by Monica Gallagher (good stuff!)
    • Kurtzman Komix (intro by R. Cummb!  Lots of early Kurtzman one-pagers._
    • Dirty Diamonds: Break-UpsSAMSUNG (Carey Pietsch, Kelly Phillips, Claire Folkman!  Next issue is about how they got into comics!)
  • Best cosplay?  Hunter S. Thompson

A great show… a mixture of MoCCA Fest, a hotel dealers show, and a comic-con.  Definitely attending the New York Comic Fest in Westchester June 14th!

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41. Son of Batman: Freak’n Awesome Movie

Son of Batman(Spoilers ahead: So if you wanted to watch the movie first, then I suggest you turn off the computer or mobile device, sit in the corner, and wait like a good boy or girl.)

This year DC Entertainment is celebrating Batman’s 75th birthday. “Nice pecs for an old dude,” you might be saying to yourself. Or is that just me? Anyway, aside from this momentous occasion, there are a few things in the works for our favorite caped crusader coming out this year. In October we’ll be seeing a third and final video game for the Batman Arkham franchise (fourth if you count Batman Arkham Origins, which was not done by Rocksteady Studios), and this month we’ll be seeing the release of the animated film Son of Batman. However, this reporter got to see the early screening here at beautiful Wondercon.

Assembled for the exclusive showing of Son of Batman at the Anaheim Wondercon were DC producer James Tucker, director Ethan Spaulding, character designer Phil Bourassa, dialogue director Andrea Romano, Jason O’Mara (his second time voicing the iconic Batman/Bruce Wayne), Stuart Allan (voice of Damian Wayne), Xander Berkeley (voice of Dr. Kirk Langstrom), Sean Maher (voice of Nightwing), and guest moderated by Rich Sands.

For those who aren’t familiar, Son of Batman is a loose adaption of the 2006 comic story arc written by Grant Morrison, which has come to be known as Batman and Son. In this, we discover that Batman had a drugged up tryst with the curvaceous and deadly Talia al Ghul, which leads to the the Dark Knight never knew he had. Being raised by Talia and his grandfather, Ra’s al Ghul, Damian has been trained all his life in the League of Assassins to later become it’s heir. After an attack on the compound which leaves the league in ruins, and leaves Ra’s beyond the help of a Lazarus pit, Talia sends her son to live with the father he’s never met.

The movie’s animation first made me feel like I was watching an episode of Avatar: The Legend of Korra, which would make sense because the director, Ethan Spaulding, worked on its precursor, Avatar: The Last Air Bender. After two minutes in however, when the bodies start hitting the floor, I realized it wasn’t going to be a light hearted cartoon. The movie’s dialogue was comedic at times, but in a good way. It was the action however that kept me going. The fight scenes and violence left nothing to be desired, intense and fully fleshed. And any time you can work in “bat-men” and “bat-guerrillas” into an animated movie, what else do you need?

I think DC Entertainment hit it out of the park with this straight to home animated movie. Batman fan’s who either are or are not familiar with the Grant Morrison comic can appreciate the story and action that went into this feature. Son of Batman will be available for digital download on April 22nd, and available on DVD and Bluray May 6th.

~Nicholas Eskey

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42. Frozen: The Unsung Heroes of the Story


Frozen Story TeamIf you’re a warm blooded human and have been out in public, then you’ve most likely heard that wildly popular and award winning song from the movie Frozen. Yeah, you know the one I’m talking about. The one that has gotten so far wedged into your head that brain trauma is the only remedy. Well don’t worry. This article isn’t about that song.

No one can deny that Frozen hasn’t been a homerun for Walt Disney Animation. It has won the first Oscar award for an animated movie for the 91 year old Disney Animation Studios, and reports are claiming that it’s the highest grossing animated picture for the company, ever! A lot of time, planning and work went into this sweep of a film. But aside from the producers, the voice actors, and the animators, there are those that worked well behind the scenes who made the movie the hit it has become: The story artists.
This year at Wondercon Anaheim we were joined by four story artists who worked on Frozen: Jeff Rango, Fawn Veerasunthorn, Nicole Mitchell, and Normand Lemay. Each of them shared what they felt what the term “story” meant for them. Jeff Rango, whose first work with Disney after his three years at Cal Arts was designing the Titans for a little animated film named Hercules, shared that for him, “Story is the architecture of a movie. And [that] the story artist is the architect.”

Jeff is also the man who worked on making the scenes match up well with the movie’s music. “The songs are pretty much done before we start [working] with the scenes. I listen to the songs and try to design the scenes around them.” Jeff worked closely with the music and lyrics composers, Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, during much of the process. Since the pair lives on the East coast however, Jeff had to do it all over the web. And because he really didn’t live near the animation offices, he had to get there early to make up for the three hour time difference. But he made it work. “Since my drive was an hour and a half both ways, it let me listen to the music probably over a thousand times. It allowed me to get a feel for it.”

Fawn Veerasunthorn, Thailand born and having worked with Disney since 2011, shared that she felt the story process was broken up into two parts. The first of which is more or less pitching ideas, communicating and elaborating with others verbally, and also a little bit of “worrying” too. The ideas that make it through then are then put to a storyboard and sketched out. “With the scene that included Elsa and Anna after the coronation, we originally had it that Hans wasn’t going to be there. But as we sketched it out, we felt that Anna was just talking about her invisible boyfriend. There wasn’t enough Hans.” With the sketches, the story team was also able to focus on some repeating symbolisms. Over and over in the movie we see the gloves (protection/security) and doors (fear/hiding). They were able to decide where these symbols were most effective for each particular scene.

Before any of the scenes are animated, the general ideas have to be discussed and finalized. To get a better idea of what would work for the animation, the artists create what are called “screenings.” They’re basically the proposed scenes drawn out in pencil and animated like a slow flip book. Potential dialogue is also given to each of these hand drawn scenes. “Screenings help put into perspective what will and will not work for the story,” says Normand Lemay. Normand, the Canadian born story artist, has worked for Disney Animation for four years, with Frozen being his first credited work.

What about the snowman do you ask? Where did he come from? Well, you have Jeff Rango to really thank for that. Seen as the more comedic one of the team, he helped to design and name that silly but brainless pile of snow called “Olaf.” “I’ve lived in San Diego, and in [Ocean Beach] there use to be ‘Big Olaf’s Ice Cream.’ I pushed for that guy to be named Olaf.” Jeff also helped much with Olaf’s comedic singing scene, which personally was my favorite singing scene. Guilty pleasure you can call it. But that cute and funny snowman almost ended up on the cutting room floor if it weren’t for one scene that helped solidify his importance. “We decided that it should be Olaf who helped Anna realize that Kristoff might be her real true love and answer,” says Nicole Mitchell. She’s worked with Disney Animation for the last six years, first entering through the trainee program. “That she was loved. It helped Olaf to become a [real] piece of the movie.”

There’s a lot of work that goes into an animated feature. A lot of it is what you see in the final product on the big screen. But like any house, it should be build on a strong foundation. Next time you sit down in a theatre, or flip on your favorite animated movie, don’t forget to thank those who helped form the supporting beams that hold the entire thing up, and allowed it to become something great.

~Nicholas Eskey

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43. The Best Flash Gordon Comic In Quite Some Time

Flash01-Cov-HardmanFlash Gordon has been around for quite awhile.  You’ve got the newspaper strip going back to the 1930s.  Switching over to non-reprint comics, King and Gold Key comics periodically popped up from the 1960s through early 80s.  DC’s reboot by Dan Jurgens in the late 80s.  Marvel did a couple issues in the 90s.  Ardden Entertainment in ’08.  Dynamite in ’11.  Everybody has their favorites from those runs.  I’ve been partial to the Al Williamson material and have a serious soft spot for the Dan Jurgens version.  All that said, Dynamite recently relaunched the franchise with a clever re-imagination and it’s jumping up the list quickly.

The King’s Watch mini-series was the relaunch vehicle for Dynamite’s treatments of the classic King Features Syndicate comic strip heroes: Flash Gordon, Mandrake the Magician and The Phantom.  That series, also written by Flash Gordon writer Jeff Parker, establishes the status quo of Mongo invading Earth through portals that might be magic or might be an unknown science.  At the end of the series, Flash Gordon, Dale Arden and Hans Zarkoff find themselves trapped on Mongo after shutting down the portals by which Ming can access Earth.  That’s where Flash Gordon #1 begins.

The comic book Flash Gordon, as well as the movies and Filmation cartoon have all been centered around Mongo.  Flash Gordon visiting another planet and liberating it from the evil emperor is a classic story, but Mongo was never a constant in the original comic strip the way it tends to be in the comics.  For long stretches of the strip, Ming may not appear and Flash Gordon can be more of a space opera.  Whenever a comic launches, Mongo is always the first story, though.  It creates a bit of a burden as the creators have to tell the classic story in their own way and try to measure up with what’s gone before.

The major tweak here is the portals.  Instead of being kidnapped to Mongo by Dr. Zarkoff (i.e., the only person who really understood the threat) in a rocketship that may or may not be able to get them home, Flash and company are there in a form of sacrifice.  They’ve got the mysterious crystal that let’s Ming access the Earth and they’re on the run.  There are also more portals.  Instead of having the various kingdoms of Mongo, the kingdoms are different worlds accessed by the portals.  Ming controls Mongo and then subjugates the other worlds.  Issue one finds Flash and company spending time in Arboria, now a forest world, not just a forest kingdom.  It opens up the scope a bit.

The characters are slightly tweaked.  Instead of a professional polo player or ex-NBA player, Flash is now a daredevil trust fund baby.  Younger, brasher, but a good excuse for him to have a background in stunt flying, extreme sports and the like — he’s just been a professional adrenaline junkie who ‘s hobbies have trained him well for the situation he’s fallen into.

Dale Arden is the least changed.  Still a reporter, but much more assertive than in the original

Dr. Zarkoff is now a hard drinking scientist, perhaps not quite as crazy as in some versions, but definitely cranky.

The thing that sets this comic apart from other versions is the sense of fun.  This is high adventure on strange new worlds, but it doesn’t take itself overly seriously past that they’re trying to prevent an invasion of Earth.  Evan Shaner is further away from the Raymond/Williamson school of art than many who have worked on Flash Gordon.  He’s using a looser style, closer to something you’d see in a French science fiction graphic album.  More of the Roy Crane/Milt Canniff school than Raymond school, if you want to go back to the original 1930s sources.

This comic wins on flow and tone.  There’s a decent amount of characterization, too, but Flash Gordon immediately jumps on the fun train and you’re along for the ride.  A great change of pace comic.  Dynamite’s been doing a lot with the classic pulp characters and in many (good) ways, this is the inverse of something like The Shadow or The Spider.

To be quite honest with you, although the next thing Jeff Parker should be doing be the sequel to his Interman graphic novel (the sooner you crank that out, the sooner I stop nagging you Jeff), I would welcome Jeff Parker’s Mandrake and Phantom.

Highly recommended for anybody looking for a fun romp with aliens and monster.  If you want gritty and dark, this might not be for you (but gritty and dark isn’t exactly hard to find these days).

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44. Reminder: There was *almost* a JLA movie starring Armie Hammer, D.J. Cotrona and Megan Gale

This photo of the cast of GEorge Miller’s aborted JLA movie shows how close we came to having a very very young JLA movie. Australian tax credit woes and the Writer Strike of ’07-08 scuttled this.

Was it for the best?

Andrew Wheeler has more.

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45. Webcomic: alert: What goes on at a cartoon focus group

Giancarlo Volpe, showrunner of Green Lantern the Animated Series has drawn a comic about a focus group test of the cartoon. It’s an interesting behind the scenes of how the testers said the kids wanted the opposite of what Volpe thought would work for the show. Luckily Bruce Timm comes to the rescue.

Focus groups can be pretty brutal. If you know what you’re doing, they can be a hindrance, but if you don’t…sometimes a truth is revealed. Unfortunately a lot of kids entertainment is heavily focus grouped and you can usually tell the ones that are because they are bland as hell.

Cartoon Brew has more tales of focus groups gone wrong.

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46. WonderCon Preview, Exclusives and In-Booth signing schedules

It’s WonderCon this weekend in Anaheim! NOw in it’s third year down in the OC, the venerable and much-loved show seems to have settled into its Anaheim setting very well after its San Frano home had the rug pulled out from under it. And here’s the most exciting thing about WonderCon — You can still buy tickets for it! Now true, only today, Friday, and Sunday are available and you CANNOT BUY TICKETS ON-site, you must order them online, but this is as close to spontaneous as we’re likely to get with one of these big pop culture extravaganzas. Although there will be a ton of media stuff going on (WonderCon is kind of a Spring dress rehearsal for Hall H) there are a ton of fantastic comics guests: Jim Lee, Gail Simone, Sara Ryan, Cliff Chiang, Steve Leiber and many more. And Artists Alley too!

Here, gleaned from the past week of PR, is a guide to some of who’s signing where, and other special events of note:


The latest DC Universe cartoon movie Son of Batman gets its world premiere. Teen Titans go! will be screened and voice cast members of both these will sign at the booth. The Teen Titans Go! signing will take place on Friday at 1:30pm and signings for Son of Batman will take place on Friday at 3:30pm.


Exclusives, $5 each and limited to five per person.

BUFFYS10 #1 Wondercon.jpg

All-new variant cover for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, with an exclusive Season Ten first-issue cover by Tomb Raider art director Brian Horton! Limited to 1,000 copies.
ANGELAFS10 #1 WonderCon.jpg

Variant for Angel & Faith Season Ten #1, by Buffy cover artist Steve Morris! Again, with only 1,000 copies produced

 These two special WonderCon exclusives will retail for $5 and are limited to five per person.

Stan Sakai has done a special cover for the upcoming The Witcher, a canonical tie-in series in the world of the Witcher video games, which have collectively won over 250 awards and sold more than 5.5 million copies worldwide! All proceeds from the sale of this limited-edition variant will benefit Stan and Sharon Sakai.

Art Baltazar and Franco bring you the characters that sprung from Mike Mignola’s imagination, with an AW YEAH twist, in Itty Bitty Hellboy! A limited-edition hardcover is available at WonderCon for $20, while supplies last

The Last of Us: American Dreams, from Faith Erin Hicks (The Adventures of Superhero Girl) and Naughty Dog’s Neil Druckmann, collects the comics that are the official lead-in to the game. This limited-edition hardcover will first be available at PAX East this weekend, and then in very limited quantities at WonderCon for $24.99.

Friday, April 18
1:00 p.m. Avatar: The Last Airbender: Gene Yang
3:00 p.m. Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi: Dan Parsons
Saturday, April 19 
11:00 a.m. Bad Houses: Sara Ryan
12:00 p.m. Avatar: The Last Airbender: Gene Yang
3:00 p.m. Tomb Raider: Gail Simone
4:00 p.m. Never Ending: D. J. Kirkbride, Robert Love
5:00 p.m. The Fifth Beatle: Vivek J. Tiwary, Andrew C. Robinson
Sunday, April 20
11:30 a.m. Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10: Christos Gage
1:00 p.m. The Star Wars: Mike Mayhew
3:00 p.m. Serenity: Leaves on the Wind: Zack Whedon, Georges Jeanty*
*Ticketed event. A set number of tickets will be distributed Friday, Saturday, and Sunday mornings by drawing.


• 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.                        
            Cartoon Network Steven Universe, Uncle Grandpa, 
            Clarence Creator Signing
            Location: WCA Signing Area in Hall B

• 3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.                
             Regular Show Signing
             Location: WCA Signing Area in Hall B

• 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
           Adventure Time Signing
            Location: WCA Signing Area in Hall B


Guests include James Asmus (writer – Quantum and Woody, The Delinquents), David Baron (colorist – Archer & Armstrong, Shadowman: End Times), Joshua Dysart (writer – Harbinger,Armor Hunters: Harbinger), and Robert Venditti (writer – Armor Hunters, X-O Manowar), stop byBooth #210/212 inside the Anaheim Convention Center for a weekend packed with special signings, free giveaways, and con-exclusive products you won’t find anywhere else – including the all-newHarbinger #22 “Death of a Renegade” WonderCon Exclusive Variant by red-hot artist Michael Walsh (Secret Avengers, Comeback) Limited to 500 copies


Friday, April 18th:
4:00 pm – 5:00 pm: Robert Venditti, David Baron

Saturday, April 19th:
1:00 pm – 2:00 pm: Joshua Dysart
2:00 pm – 3:00 pm: Robert Venditti
3:00 pm – 4:00 pm: James Asmus
4:00 pm – 5:00 pm: David Baron

Sunday, April 20th:
12:00 pm – 1:00 pm: Robert Venditti
1:00 pm – 2:00 pm: James Asmus
2:00 pm – 3:00 pm: David Baron

The digital publisher is brining Chavo Guerrero and Quinton “Rampage: Jackson to their booth…OK THEN. Cosplayer Yaya Han and Saved by the Bell’s Dennis Haskins also appear.

Fans can visit the star studded Lion Forge booth as the special guests will be taking pictures, signing autographs and discussing their current and upcoming creative projects outside of fighting, acting and cosplay.

Friday, April 18
o   Miami Vice writer Jonathan London and artist Carl Reed will be signing Miami Vice posters at the Lion Forge booth #801 starting at 1:00 p.m.
o   Yaya Han will be signing autographs at the Lion Forge booth #801 between 3:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
·         Saturday, April 19
o   Chavo Guererro, Dennis Haskins as well as Marvel, DC and Dark Horse comic book writer Joe Casey will be moderating the Lion Forge comic panel in room 210A between 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
o   Chavo Guerrero will be signing autographs at the Lion Forge booth #801 between 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
o   Dennis Haskins will be signing autographs at the Lion Forge booth #801 between 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
o   Quinton “Rampage” Jackson will be signing autographs at the Lion Forge booth #801 between 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
·         Sunday, April 20
o   Yaya Han will be signing autographs at the Lion Forge booth #801 throughout the day.



• Dawn of the Planet of the Apes cast members Andy Serkis (The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Rise of the Planet of the Apes), Gary Oldman (The Dark Knight Rises, The Dark Knight) and Keri Russell (The Americans, Felicity), along with film director Matt Reeves (Let Me In, Felicity), will make an exclusive signing appearance at the BOOM! Studios booth Saturday, April 19 from 2:30-3:00. Limited-edition WonderCon exclusive Dawn of the Planet of the Apes prints illustrated by Garry Brown (The Massive, Sons of Anarchy) will be available for purchase for $20.
The signing will be ticketed and a print purchase is required for the signing.

And some Exclusive covers


BRAVEST WARRIORS 2014 ANNUAL #1 WonderCon Exclusive Cover by Sam Lavagnino


HEROBEAR AND THE KID: SAVING TIME #1 WonderCon Exclusive Cover by Mike Kunkel


LUMBERJANES #1 WonderCon Exclusive Cover by Jess Fink


TRANSLUCID #1 WonderCon Exclusive Cover by Dan Duncan
Other signings:



FRIDAY, April 18
2-3 p.m. R.J. Ryan (THE JOYNERS IN 3D)
5-6 p.m. Claudio Sanchez and Chondra Echert (TRANSLUCID, AMORY WARS, KEY OF Z, KILL AUDIO) – This is a ticketed signing. Tickets are only available at the BOOM! Studios booth whille supplies last on the day of the specified signing.

SATURDAY, April 19
1-2 p.m. Steven Grant (2 GUNS, 3 GUNS, ROBOCOP, DECEIVERS)
3-4 p.m. Claudio Sanchez and Chondra Echert (TRANSLUCID, AMORY WARS, KEY OF Z, KILL AUDIO) – This is a ticketed signing. Tickets are only available at the BOOM! Studios booth whille supplies last on the day of the specified signing.
5-6 p.m. R.J. Ryan (THE JOYNERS IN 3D)

SUNDAY, April 20
11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. R.J. Ryan (THE JOYNERS IN 3D)
1-2 p.m. Claudio Sanchez and Chondra Echert (TRANSLUCID, AMORY WARS, KEY OF Z, KILL AUDIO) – This is a ticketed signing. Tickets are only available at the BOOM! Studios booth whille supplies last on the day of the specified signing.)
3:30-4:30 p.m. Natasha Allegri (ADVENTURE TIME: FIONNA & CAKE, BEE AND PUPPYCAT)

In addition, the BOOM! Studios booth will host sketch artists all weekend, including:
• Kassandra Heller (ADVENTURE TIME)

For $20, fans can request and purchase custom sketches to be drawn on blank ADVENTURE TIME Get-A-Sketch covers.

Fox Home Entertainment – How to Train Your Dragon etc

Hall C, Booth #1468

Friday, April 18th
11:30 a.m.: Booth opens, sales and giveaways begin
12:00 noon: Demonstration of new How to Train Your Dragon apps begins
1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.: Airbrush artist on-site to create Dragons tattoos
7:00 p.m.: Booth closes

Saturday, April 19th
9:30 a.m.: Booth opens, sales and giveaways begin
10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.: Airbrush artist on-site to create Dragons tattoos
12:45 p.m. (tentative): Fox panel presentation begins at the Arena
2:00 p.m.: Jay Baruchel and Dean DeBlois arrive at booth #1468 for fan signing
2:30 p.m.: Fan signing ends
3:00 p.m.: Demonstration of new How to Train Your Dragon apps begins
7:00 p.m.: Booth closes

Sunday, April 20th
10:30 a.m.: Booth opens, sales and giveaways begin
11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.: Airbrush artist on site to create Dragons tattoos
1:00 p.m.: Demonstration of new How to Train Your Dragon apps begins
5:00 p.m.: Booth closes


Friday 2:00 (Booth #1410)
Signings – Sex Nerd Sandra
Friday 2:30 (Booth #1410)
Signings – Jessica Chobot, host of Nerdist News Live
Sunday 1:15 (Booth #1410)
Signings – Ben Acker and Ben Blacker, from the Thrilling Adventure Hour
Sunday 2:00-3:00 (Booth #1410)
Signings – Chris Hardwick

Golden Apple, L.A.’s Comic Shop to the Stars, will announce a new graphic novel self-publishing partnership with leading publishing services provider, AuthorHouse Friday afternoon at WonderCon Anaheim.
WHEN: Friday, April 18 at 2 p.m. PDT
WHERE: WonderCon Anaheim, Golden Apple Booth – booth 202
WHO: Ryan Liebowitz, Golden Apple Comics general manager
Keith Ogorek, senior vice president of marketing, Author Solutions/AuthorHouse
WHAT: Liebowitz and Ogorek will be available to discuss the opportunities created by this partnership for authors and readers of the fast-growing graphic novel genre.

The new offering will make it possible for graphic novelists to self-publish their works in print and digital forms and make them available for sales through Golden Apple Comics and through popular online book and eBook retailers.


WonderCon limited edition exclusive:

Quest #5 Cover D by Martin Abel, limited to 350 copies. All fans that purchase the issue will also have a chance to win a limited edition art print. Head to booth #705 for details.

The company will also have Zenescope booth models dressed in character giving away free comics and taking pictures with fans all weekend long.

Finally, here is the team up you never thought you would see: Rampage Jackson, John Morrison and Chavo Guerrero Jr., Richard Hatch and The Winner Twins. They are all appearing on a panel together to discuss “how to break in to Hollywood, unveil a new technology they’ve all begun to use to get close and personal with their fans, and announce a top secret project they are all working on together at the end of the panel. Chavo promises. “Our fans are going to see a side of us they’ve never seen before.”

AND, X-Men Days of Future Past director Bryan Singer will not be appearing in the wake of his sex scandal.

1 Comments on WonderCon Preview, Exclusives and In-Booth signing schedules, last added: 4/18/2014
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47. Edmondson and Laming are doing Splinter Cell Echoes for Dynamite


It’s con season, and as usual Dynamite is doing one of it’s non con announcement sprees. So we’ll keep posting ‘em as they come in. This time it’s Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Echoes, a new comic based on the wildly successful video game series, done in conjunction with Ubisoft. Nathan Edmondson and Marc Laming are the creative team. based on Edmondson’s caper tales like Who is Jake Ellis? and The Activity he seems like a good man for the job.

Splinter Cell Echoes takes place between the events of Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Conviction® and Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Blacklist™. The comic book series bridges the gap between the two games with a realistic, original story that sets the tone for the opening events in Splinter Cell Blacklist.

Sam Fisher, once a Splinter Cell–a clandestine elite operative operating in the shadows of the NSA–is now retired. His enemies, however, are not. Haunted by dreams and memories of his past, he struggles to put his life back together. But when a mysterious terrorist organization called KROWE begins pursuing targets around the globe, Sam’s expertise is needed to uncover their endgame and stop them before the deadly plot unfolds.

The book comes out in July.




3 Comments on Edmondson and Laming are doing Splinter Cell Echoes for Dynamite, last added: 4/18/2014
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48. Kibbles ‘n’ Bits 4/14-18 2014: Megahex cover revealed

I was working on a long article this week so this all piled up, but I know it’s the weekend and everyone has nothing to do but read all the stuff they missed earlier, right?


§ The final cover to Simon Hanselmann‘s Megahex has been revealed. The book comes out this fall, collecting the popular webcomic, and a lot of people I know will be talking about this.


§ Eric Colossal’s Rutabaga the Adventure Chef will be published by Amulet Books, in a two book deal. The first books comes out in March, 2015. The webcomic concerns the fantasy adventures of a chef who goes questing for exotic ingredients. There will be recipes in the print version.

§ Speaking of fun fantasies, Game of Thrones show runner David Benioff and HBO are auctioning off a set visit during Season Five filming. I haven’t read the books so I don’t know if this will involves another grisly wedding, wandering around icy fjords or just watching someone get a vital appendage chopped off, but whatever happens it will be amazing! Go place your bid here. The current top bid is $9,500 so be prepared to spend. A Lannister always pays via Paypal. The proceeds benefit the Epic Theatre Ensemble.

§ Corinne Mucha’s break up comic Get Over It! is previewed here. Been there.

§ The feature I was working on involved libraries, so this expose of library school amused me.

You’re probably wondering at this point how you’re going to fit in. Simple! Have you seen Doctor Who? You should probably have a favorite Doctor (NINE FOREVER.) You’ve read Harry Potter and maybe dabbled in fandom? And you love Tina Fey. You must love Tina Fey. To really stand out you should probably have at least one “thing.” It’ll have to be really weird to stand out in library school though. Maybe cyborg hockey player RPS? Oh wait, that’s taken. Maybe just think on it for a while. Whatever you do, don’t talk about the rock wall at your gym constantly. Nobody likes that guy.


§ I joked about the Camden Comic Con, but it was “a Pleasant Surprise” and I am very happy to hear that. CO2 Comics’ Gerry Giovinco has a nice report.

For a small, first-time convention organized in just two short months, so many things were done right that it is just amazing, beginning with and highlighted by the hospitality of the staff and Rutgers University. They found a way to make everyone feel appreciated which is, in and of itself, a rarity anywhere in today’s society. They even provided a delicious,complimentary lunch  to all vendors, dealers and guests! Who can not be happy when you are being fed?


§ Tom Devlin has a photo report on MoCCA and stained glass windows.

§ And Maura McHugh went to MCM Dublin, which appears to be one of those “emerging markets.”

If anything MCM Ireland Comic Con has proved that the potential audience is bigger than previously realised. It’s not so much a case of ‘if you build it, they will come,’ as ‘if you let them know the event is going on, they will come.’ MCM had the media connections and marketing budget that many of the Irish conventions don’t possess, and even though it rolled out its poster campaign in Dublin a little late, it still collared the attention of a large audience impatient for this kind of event.

§ Speaking of conventions, First Second’s Gina Gagaliano has another Comics Etiquette 101 on why pitching your great American graphic novel in the middle of a comicon is unlikely to end in a sale. Everyone is busy and distracted and buying a book is serious business. BUT wise words at the end:

So — if we see you at a convention and we tell you that we like your work and that you should stay in touch, that’s not us giving you the brush-off.

That’s us telling you to stay in touch with us — the first step towards an author/publisher relationship.

§ Mimi Pond’s Over Easy has been getting lots of press and it even made Buzzfeed with a piece called 14 Observations About Working At A Restaurant From Mimi Pond’s Graphic Memoir.

§ Here’s a project where they are redrawing ROM, the Marvel Publisher, Bill Mantlo-written, Sal Buscema drawn comic about a robot that will never ever be reprinted because no one has the rights any more. Well, someone does but they don’t want to reprint it.

§ Laura Hudson interviews Matt Fraction because he got sex comics right. Indeed he did!

§ Here is an old one. Sean Michael Robinson on an aborted graphic novel project that he had to scrap after four years. Among the problems: the characters weren’t well designed and the art style was too introcate. Definitely something an aspiring creator should ponder before launching a big project. Sam Alden’s Eighth Grade is another

§ Here is an old news item I completely biffed, the Kirby family taking their case regarding ownership of various Marvel characters to the Supreme Court. Although this sounds unlikely, Beat legal expert Jeff Trexler actually caleld this—and some of the issues raised in the filing—back in his thorough analysis of the case for TCJ. A very sim chance, to be sure, but perhaps…one last chance.

The Marvel v. Kirby appeal could offer an attractive case for justices on both sides of the ideological fence to resolve the question of judicial takings in a mutually acceptable way. On the one hand, it is a documentable case of judges unilaterally depriving freelancers and their heirs of substantial property rights, including both the original copyright and the right to terminate the earlier transfer. In this case it’s all intellectual property, but as the court indicates in Stop the Beach Renourishment, property rights are property rights, no matter how intangible.

3 Comments on Kibbles ‘n’ Bits 4/14-18 2014: Megahex cover revealed, last added: 4/18/2014
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49. Holiday reading: Great basic webcomics list


Io9′s Lauren Davis has compiled this list of 51 Awesome Webcomics The Eisners Have Completely Failed To Recognizethat really functions as a basic list of Webcomics 101 (Although there are certainly omissions.) Still if you wanted to catch up the list is a great start.

Also, what webcomics do YOU read? WE do they every few years — sound off in the comments! and have a great holiday weekend.
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4 Comments on Holiday reading: Great basic webcomics list, last added: 4/22/2014
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50. Preview: Lane MIlburn’s wacky space opera Twelve Gems

This is from Xeric winner Lane Milburn, part of Baltimore’s Closed Caption Comics collective. It’s been in the works for a few years and fits nicely into the whole “wacky action genre” I’ve been seeing more and more of. The book come out in July.


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1 Comments on Preview: Lane MIlburn’s wacky space opera Twelve Gems, last added: 4/18/2014
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