WIZARD WORLD Philadelphia 2012 Convention! Pt 2 of 2!

Well finally the much prophesied final part of my Wizard World Philadelphia 2012 coverage is here. You can see the first part here.

First some sights of us gassing up and on the road to Philly:

So finally done with the “hard-traveling” heroes bit (i.e. the road trip pics), and I already told you about getting to the con itself, and the lines… so we can get to the meat and potatoes…onto the interviews!!!

One of the first creators I ran into at the convention, was the LOADED BARREL Studios table, which was nicely located near the entrance. Their comic, BRIELLE AND THE HORROR, was one of the first comics I picked up, and was one of the first creators I interviewed at my first convention back in 2007. (that’s a lot of firsts :))

So it was a bit appropriate after being off the convention circuit for just about five years, that the first people I should run into should be LOADED BARREL studios. Kudos to the young lady who called us over, or I would have no doubt walked past obliviously. I reviewed their first issue, on this blog years ago and was quite impressed by it. I’m a fan of photo-manipulated comics, and have never seen it done as well as the team of Jared Barel, Jordan Barel, and Alex Goz do it.

So it’s good to know they have since finished BRIELLE AND THE HORROR, and have a new series THE GREY out as a graphic novel. Definitely looking forward to picking it up and you should be too. It doesn’t appear to be available on Amazon yet but you can order it here. I’m looking forward to what the future brings for this company.

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Next up, after some meandering and wandering, I talked to the gang at POWER COMIX with their new kids comic SAGA OF THE POWER HEROES. Following up on that, Spoke to Jim Demonakos of the band KIRBY KRACKLE, and listened to his latest CD.

This was Jim’s first show at Wizard World Philly, and I thought the portable players/listening section he had setup was a nice touch. However being the founder of his own quite successful convention, Emerald City Comic Con, as well as a successful band, Jim is no stranger to conventions or great ideas. The music of Kirby Krackle being proof on both fronts, and comes recommended. You can sample the music and get your CD here.

On the video front, I met Ryan Cole, the cinematographer and Joe Parascand, who plays Sheriff Tom, one of the stars of the film MARY HORROR. Again a nice setup, with a multi-display arrangement to showcase their horror film. A horror film you can find out more about at MARY HORROR.

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My next interview at the con was Artist/co-creator Frankie B. Washington of the quite impressive web-comic ROBOT GOD AKAMATSU. The series done with writer co-creator James Biggie is a nice take on the Giant Robot genre that I haven’t seen before, and highlighted by great visuals, going by his gray-scale drawings.

With movement toward animation and merchandising, this is a series and a creative team to watch. And you can do so here! (One word regarding the site, the artwork there is colored a little dark, maybe even a bit muddy, so you lose the sense of the great line work and gray-scale artwork that they had on display at the convention. So my only caveat to the creators would be think about showcasing their linework/gray-scale art a bit more on the site or work on tweaking the coloring, as I feel the artist’s work gets completely gutted by the current coloring process. Other than that, well worth a look.)

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One of the other interviews of the day, and one of my few purchases was from Shawn Alleyne’s PYROGLYPHICS Studios. PYROGLYPHICS consists of creators Joseph Currie, Koran Curtis, Stanley Weaver, Charlie Goubile, James Mason and the aforementioned Shawn Alleyne and together they’ve just launched a title called STREET TEAM. Highlighted by simply gorgeous art, their post-modern comic is equal parts martial arts, manga/anime tinged, masked heroes, video-games and good old fashioned action. Toss in they also offered a special that included two huge prints, magnets, and postcards, and it was an easy buy.

Now the comic looks like it may just be a one-shot and a spring board for the video game, but I hope not. I hope we can look forward to quarterly or annual issues of STREET TEAM. Well to get your copies of STREET TEAM and find out more go bug Mr. Alleyne himself here or the Street Team crew here.

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I also had the chance to meet the talented husband and wife duo of Jerry and Penelope Gaylord. They have very distinct styles to one another, but very complimentary and very good. See for yourself at IDENTITY COMICS! Tell ‘em HT sent ya!

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One of the joys for me of going to these shows is discovering a talent, an artist I was unaware of. So it’s with great pleasure that I came across the artwork of Laura Guzzo (kudos to her friend, Michael I think, who did a great job promoting her and singing her praises). Not only is she an ASTOUNDING artist, but her print prices are ridiculously reasonable.

You need to run, don’t walk to her website (well considering this is the web you don’t have to walk or run, try clicking here :)) and see her great artwork and purchase some at her Etsy store. She’s definitely going to be working for the big comic companies in no-time. Specifically she has an interesting and unique vision, that would make her a strong cover artist. I look forward to seeing her upcoming work.


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Well kids, that’s a wrap for this installment. All in all a fun convention, and I hope I’ve pointed you to some talent to familiarize yourself with. And if I do help turn you on to some new talent, just let them know that Heroic Times sent ya! :)

Thanks again for visiting and I’ll leave you with a couple pictures from the con, most notably the Philly version of Black Widow,, which I have to tell you… is a pretty awesome version. Grrrowwlll. :)

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In closing huge kudos to Jerry Milani of Wizard World for a fantastically well publicized, and well organized show!

And lest I forget, for anyone who I didn’t cover, please chalk that up to my head and not my heart, more than likely I didn’t have your complete contact info when time came to put this together. Just leave me a comment here, or email me if I gave you one of my business cards and we’ll get that corrected asap.

Thanks to everyone who made the show a great time for all involved! That’s all folks, go out there and be good to each other.

WIZARD WORLD PHILADELPHIA COMIC-CON 2012 Convention Coverage

Just back from the Wizard World Philly Con. Due to pure economics (factors external to Wizard World, sold out hotels, exorbitant remaining hotel and parking prices) one day, Saturday, was the sole day I could be there.

But it was by all appearances a packed event, well attended. They had people lining up inside in one of the upper floors which is a nice change from other Conventions I’ve attended where the line is outside.

That said the line/lines were quite confusing and quite full. Luckily the con is staffed with helpful volunteers who are on hand to direct the stymied. Plus the lines while packed, seemed to be moving, In the future I would just suggest a clearer designation of what each line is and where it is, as they tended to run into each other and be a bit of a cluster.

However their organization for press/attendees was excellent. A helpful volunteer directed us to the press sign-in, and we were able to walk right up, get our credentials, and walk right in. It’s obvious Wizard World Philly has put some thought into their entrance process, and the interior queuing station, and the press/attendee entrance are huge improvements over your father’s con. :)

Once entered the hall itself is quite large, filled with a nice mix of retailers/resellers, artists, celebrity signings (The big draw of the Convention floor. The lines for Chris Hemsworth and Stan Lee were getting substantial even before 1030am), and a smattering of costume wearers (Cos-players as they are known). Two of the most impressive were a Blade and a Black Widow. Both really looked the part, the guy playing Blade would have given Wesley a run for his money, and the woman playing Black Widow, definitely had the assets to pull off the skin tight costume. :)

There was a 1960s era Batmobile there, recreation or real, and it was manned by a suitably out of shape TV era Batman, he made Adam West look positively herculean. But at least the female Robin and the Batgirl with him, were well fit.

But overall there were less costumes there than I expected, though to be fair, it was just cranking up when I was taking off, and people were still pouring in.

The big draw for me however was just walking through artist alley. The legendary George Perez was there, and from door open, had a line. Greg Capullo, was another one who was mobbed from moment one. I tended to leave the big draws alone, and was more interested in the under-patronized artist.

Next installment will bring you some of those discoveries.

But all in all WIZARD WORLD PHILADELPHIA COMIC-CON is a good local convention. If you are in Philly, it’s no reason not to show your face, unless of course you have to deal with the inexplicable gridlock caused by some good old boy/frat boy street demonstration that was bringing traffic on the way to the convention to a standstill. :)

But for people coming from out of town, unless money is no object, the combination of tolls, parking and inflated hotel and everything else prices, may make it a bit of a money pit. Which even the best of Conventions are, though the location and prices of downtown Philly ratchets that up into the stratosphere.

But external costs aside, which is beyond the control of WIZARD WORLD ,(with the exception of tickets, which are reasonable) it’s a well organized event. Check back for part II as I cover some of the intriguing creators met at Wizard World 2012.

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The 2nd and Final Part of the convention coverage has been posted and you can find it here! Enjoy, I had a blast putting it together!

2012 MOVIE Review : THE Verdict is in! AVENGERS… Avenged!!! :)

You are reading this either because you saw the film and want to compare your experience with others, or haven’t seen the film, and want to get a general idea of what people thought of it. I’ll answer both demographics, without going into details about the film.

I think most of you coming to this blog know, my grumpy persona aside I’m not a contrarian. I’m not one of these IMDB idiots who rate all films either 1 or 5 (on a 5 star system, I use a 4 star system), the concept of grading and gradations seemingly lost on them.

That said neither am I a bandwagon jumper who is going to praise a film when it’s trendy to do so, and eviscerate it when it is trendy to do so.(SUPERMAN RETURNS and TITANIC being two movies with more than their share of flip-floppers).

I often listen to pod-casts, and it is amazing how often you can hear one person excited by a film, but then his friends don’t like the film, so you can hear the person backtrack from his/her position, so they can be in line with the likes of their ‘friends’.

An anthropologist might define it as a clannish race survival technique (“Bubba let’s go lynch that thar 12 year old boy, for looking at that thar white woman.” “Why Bubba Senior, that thar’s a fine idea. Hyuck. Hyuck. Hyuck.”), I’ve always just defined it as cowardice.

I’m saying my good opinion or my bad is not formed by the whims of the mob.

Never has been. Never will be.

So if I give you a review you can be sure it is my review, my considered opinion… and I stand behind it.

So my considered opinion on the AVENGERS movie?

Joss Whedon, whose other film this year CABIN IN THE WOODS I wasn’t a fan of (more due to the first time Director on that film, than to Whedon’s script), here in his role as Director and Writer, knocks this film out of the park.

THE AVENGERS is… I’m trying to avoid hyperbole here, leaving that to everyone else, but it has to be said… it is a FANTASTIC film.

It’s as smart as CABIN IN THE WOODS, but with Whedon behind the camera you also get characters and moments you really care about. You get the pathos to go with the pomp and circumstance.

I mean how do you pull this off? The culmination of all these films, all this planning, all these actors, how do you pull it together and make it work and make it live up to expectations? It is really an amazingly ambitious film, a daunting prospect, and Joss Whedon… does it.

It’s really rare for me to laugh out loud in a film, I laughed out loud numerous times in this film, just because it is so knowing, and so sharp, and so biting, and so friggin fun!!!

I’m so glad I went into this film without watching a bunch of trailers or features, or ruining any surprises because I just had a ball. And along with the fun, Whedon gave space and weight to the tragedy, something that is glossed over sometimes in epic films. The weight and cost of this battle. Whedon never loses sight of the street level view, the common men and women caught in the midst of a war of Gods and Monsters.

The humanity he imbues the attack scene with is reminiscent of Mimi Leder’s phenomenal direction in the criminally underrated Clooney action film PEACEMAKER. Where every loss and every life… was felt.


The Peacemaker (Widescreen Edition)

And going along with that, for a big, loud, blow stuff up action flick on par with Bay’s TRANSFORMERS:DARK OF THE MOON (which the battle scenes bear a resemblance to) everyone gets a chance to actually act and emote in this film. Whedon’s TV/Buffy dialog/experience serving the film well.

Every principal actor really gets a chance to shine, Scarlett Johanson, Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Ruffalo (Who I didn’t think could fill Ed Norton’s shoes, is phenomenal. Both as Banner and the Jade Giant he has some of the great scenes/lines in the film), Downey, they all bring it. And big kudos to Tom Hiddleston who plays Loki as more than one dimensional, but with charm and depth to match his machinations.

Anything more would be me… gushing. Suffice to say, if my math is correct this is the 6th Marvel Studios film, the culmination of half a dozen years, and their shared Universe experiment, and they pull it off. Creating a cinematic climax to this multi-year and multi-film storyline that is actually bigger and better than the films leading up to it.

I’m seldom the guy to tip my hat to MARVEL, but you have to give them their due. STAR WARS couldn’t do it (RETURN not quite living up to the greatness of EMPIRE), STAR TREK every other film is bad and they are all one off stories, BOND also is one off stories, INDIANA JONES no, MATRIX… no, LORD OF THE RINGS … no, but Marvel Studios managed to end their ambitious story… even stronger than they began it (Though it is worth noting that the heart of this whole AVENGERS cinematic concept, starts with one writer, Mark Millar of WANTED and KICK-ASS fame. His vision is what Marvel Studios followed from page to screen. And in the dozen years since his ULTIMATES comics, his involvement is perhaps not credited as much as it should be).

The AVENGERS storyline that began with the first IRON MAN, went out on a high-note with this film. Arguably only Harry Potter could claim to have as effectively told a story over multiple films. Plus they give us a great teaser at the end, can you say…. awww but that would be telling! :)

Go see the film. It’s earned its praise. Highest Recommendation A+.

And read more about the Avengers, here [Definite spoilers :)]:

The Ultimates: Ultimate Collection

The Ultimates 2: Ultimate Collection

Ultimate Comics Avengers by Mark Millar Omnibus

Avengers: Kree/Skrull War

And these books will get you up to speed with the teaser at the end of the film:

Essential Warlock – Volume 1

Essential Captain Marvel, Vol. 1 (Marvel Essentials) (v. 1)

Essential Captain Marvel, Vol. 2 (Marvel Essentials)

Infinity Gauntlet

Favorite AVENGERS Comic Book Covers! Pt 3 of 3: The Years 1977 to 1996

Working on the next MONARCHS OF MAYHEM in-between real life stuff, it’s going to come out tomorrow 14 Mar 2012, just because it’s going to take more hours to get ready. These posts take a LONG time, In the interim enjoy the following:

Podcast of the Day: John’s Old Time Radio Show #9! It’s a great podcast. After listening swing by John’s site leave him some good words and tell him where you heard about him. Thanks! -HT

And wrapping up my favorite AVENGERS covers from the original series, is pretty easy. Because after 1977, with very few exceptions the covers are just uninteresting at best and plain awful at worst. Much like the book itself, it was just stumbling from weakness to weakness.

Here then are the best covers in the last 20+ years of the books original run:

George Perez’s finest AVENGERS cover, and one of the most iconic covers of all time. Would make a great poster! This is the last GREAT A+ Cover of the AVENGERS!


Memorable.


Fun.

It says a lot that the numbers jump over a hundred issues, before I list another cover. And this is gimmicky mess, but it was better than all the previous 100 covers. It just clarifies how bad the book got.


A mercy post.


The last one I could find even something remotely interesting in.

So needless to say you want great AVENGERS covers (and comics) stick to issues #181 and before. At least for the first Volume.

In 1998 creators Kurt Busiek and George Perez would launch a new AVENGERS series that largely just pays homage to the great years of the series, You can look at them almost as a remake of the Jim Shooter and George Perez run, that I mentioned in the previous post. But it’s done well enough by Busiek and Perez to be entertaining in its own right.

And then later would come the Bendis’ years, But that is a story for another installment. :)

Revisit the earlier posts here:

PT 1 of 3
PT 2 of 3

AUDIO OF THE DAY: STEVEN BARNES Interviewed by Horace Digby AND Wild Bunch Talk

I’m in the process of getting the MONARCHS OF MAYHEM: LR GILES interview posted. Should have it up in another couple of hours.

In the interim I’m listening to a pretty informative audio interview from 2007, Steven Barnes interviewed by Horace Digby. (interview covers books, scifi, comics, martial arts, self improvement, ethnicity, Alan Moore, Batman, Plato, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Marvel Comics, Cinema, Television, Sliders, Alexander the Great, and much more).

Listen here:

Part 1
Part 2

(In fact the only problem I have with the interview is how Steven Barnes is introduced. Steven Barnes is one of the most celebrated science fiction writers of his generation. Full stop. How he is introduced is with a modifier that strikes me as being both unnecessary and unthinkingly dismissive. But that aside, an interesting listen)

Also I’m watching the end of Peckinpah’s THE WILD BUNCH, and ‘wow’ what a great film. There’s that moment in THE WILD BUNCH, where the four, guns drawn, are surrounded by an army in shock, everyone frozen, in that pause between heaven and hell.

And Ernest Borgnine into that silence… chuckles, and the gates of hell are opened.

It’s as good a moment of film, as you’ll find.

A movie of brutal violence, that is at its heart.. a romance about the dying of an age.

Anyhow, excuse any slowness in getting the next post up, but it’s… THE WILD BUNCH.

Sam Peckinpah’s Legendary Westerns Collection (The Wild Bunch / Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid / Ride the High Country / The Ballad of Cable Hogue)

Favorite AVENGERS Comic Book Covers! 2nd Decade Pt.A 1973-1977!

Per the previous post, in keeping with the upcoming AVENGERS movie, I’ve decided to cover my favorite AVENGERS comic book covers of all time. And this is part 2:

Okay I had intended to tackle all the great covers in the 2nd decade of AVENGERS comics, however that’s not going to happen, there are just too many great covers. So this post will cover the first five years of the 2nd decade of AVENGERS comics. The years from 1973 to 1977.

Enjoy!

AVENGERS 117- I believe this cover is by Sal Buscema. He was drawing the DEFENDERS and this issue is part of a great AVENGERS/DEFENDERS crossover.

AVENGERS 127- Another great Gil Kane cover.

AVENGERS 131- Fun LEGION OF THE LIVING Frankenstein monster cover is pretty fun. At a guess I’d say this is also a Gil Kane cover.

AVENGERS 134- Gil Kane up to bat again, with this cover featuring the always popular golden age Human Torch.

AVENGERS 136- The floating heads is always a nice touch. And even without Gil Kane signing his work, those elbows at jaunty fighting angles even in repose, screams Gil Kane. :) (turns out the floating heads are done by a different artist, John Romita, and that’s what was making some of these covers hard to call as completely Gil Kane)

AVENGERS 139- Here’s another example, the main drawing with that exagerrated action (somebody gets hit and their knees fly into their chest, and elbows shoot out)is vintage, powerful Gil Kane. But those floating heads are by Spiderman artist John Romita. A favorite comic as a kid, so that may be swaying my appreciation for the cover, which is not Kane’s best. I’m going to have to start grading harder or I’m going to end up listing every cover Gil Kane does. :)

AVENGERS 141- There have been many face off covers, this is one of the standout ones. A nice Gil Kane cover, his typical hard angles, lessened a bit, being inked by Jazzy John Romita.

AVENGERS 142- I promise you I’m grading harder, but what can I tell you, 1975 and Gil Kane was just knocking these covers out of the park. Add cowboys to it, or people in normal clothes and Gil was in his element. Notice the difference between this cover and the previous. The inker here was more faithful to Gil Kane’s hard angles and musculature, which I think looks more striking. Great cover.

AVENGERS 145- What?! Do you see this cover? I’m trying to avoid anymore Gil kane covers but that’s like trying not to give the MVP to Michael Jordan when he’s playing. It can’t be done. Great Kane cover, inked by Dan Adkins. Wonderful use of word balloons and typography. Something you don’t see too much in modern comics.

AVENGERS 146- Tell me this cover doesn’t have ‘buy me’ all over it? It’s a great design. However you notice how it’s rounded a bit, inked by Al Milgrom, you lose some of the angularity and power that Kane’s pencils are full of. But even subdued Kane is great.

Don’t worry Gil stops doing covers with this issue, so we should be able to jump ahead a few years before we get any more covers this good right? WRRRRRROOOOONNNGGGGG!! Cause the artist they bring in to replace him on covers is…..

AVENGERS 147-148 Last time he made this list was all the way back in issue #20, Jack the King Kirby is back doing the covers! Definitely with 148! 147 however is attributed to Buckler and Adkins, but what I’m seeing in 147 is Kirby and Milgrom.

So I’m going with my gut and attribute the penciling on both of these to Jack the King Kirby. He’s not as sophisticated as Gil Kane or John Buscema, but there is just so much life and energy in these covers, so much going on, that they are just a joy to a young kid stumbling across these issues in the libraries back issue bins or on newsstands.

And the interiors were done by Steve Englehart and Jim Shooter on scripts and George Perez and John Byrne on pencils, from this point till issue 166, almost twenty issues, they are mostly home-runs. I guess the best way to put it in perspective is… all of the comics I’ve mentioned previously… I’ve sold. This run from 147 to 166, are not for sale. In the age of digital these are the comics that are worth having as paper. :)

I won’t list all those covers here are the standouts:

As mentioned 147-148 are great, we bypass 149-150 (these are credited to George Perez, possibly George Perez’s earliest work. Look nothing like his great work now, quite frankly they are not good) and from 151-158 we get great Jack Kirby Covers. The best being the following:

158 being Kirby’s last cover for the AVENGERS and he goes out with one of my favorites of his run!

159 So Kirby leaves or is let go, it’s unclear which, who the heck can they bring in till a new regular cover artist is chosen. Who else but the best? Gil Kane returns, and like he always does… he blows the doors off the place! Look at what he’s doing in this cover. It’s just a clinic on great art. Add to that the interior art by George Perez and story by Jim Shooter and you have… classic defined.

162-163 After a couple lackluster covers, George Perez steps in to knock it out of the park with great covers to match his great interior art.

164-166 There’s a lot of nonsense about great comics out there. Here’s the straight dope… this three part storyline, issues 164-166, is the best AVENGERS storyline. Full stop. With Jim Shooter as writer, George Perez on covers, and John Byrne on interior art, they together created the throwdown for the ages. People like to use the term wide-screen entertainment to define something blockbuster in scope, these three issues from the summer of 1977… were wide-screen entertainment before the term existed. If you own only three Avengers comics… make them these three. Highest recommendation. Now that said, while all three of the covers are at least good, only one is great. This one:

AVENGERS 164- And with that cover the legendary John Byrne created the last great AVENGERS cover of 1977!

Come back next time as we finish off the 2nd decade of AVENGERS comics. the years from 1977-1983, and we also tackle the third decade, the years from 1983 to 1993.

Ya’ll come back now ya here!

p.s. As far as purchasing issues, per my previous post (scroll down) Marvel has the first 30 issues available in their oversized hardcover format they call an omnibus. It’s a good deal. However they don’t have omnibuses out for issues 31-164, so getting these issues is a little more difficult. You would think with Marvel’s AVENGERS movie due out this year they would capitalize on interest and release Omnibuses for most of these early issues. But… Noooooo. So failing that look at the links in the first post and this:

Essential Avengers, Vol. 7 (Marvel Essentials)

Essential Avengers – Volume 8

The above two are black and white collections, which is just about sacrilege, the color being such a part of these issues, but if you can’t afford the original issues, and can’t wait for the expensive hardcovers or omnibuses… they are a cheap way to read a bunch of issues.

Hold the presses!!! Here are some better color options to read these issues:

Avengers: The Coming of the Beast – Avengers (1963) #137-140, #145-146

Avengers: The Serpent Crown – Collecting AVENGERS (1963) #141-144 and #147-149.

Avengers: The Private War of Dr. Doom- contains Avengers 150-156, Annual 6; Super -Villain Team – Up 9

If you do choose to buy, please support this blog by using the links provided. This blog generates a couple dimes from each sale, so you guys using the links is definitely appreciated and definitely necessary to keep the blog going. Thanks!

Favorite AVENGERS Comic Book Covers! The First 10 Years 1963-1973!

Well with the AVENGERS movie on the horizon, I thought a nice posting would be on (come’on you can guess) my favorite AVENGERS comic book covers. And plus it’s a nice look at how typography and art styles change over time.

What typically defines a great cover for me is, is it something I would pay to have as a poster. Surprisingly enough, most covers fail this criteria.

Take a gander at the ones that don’t :) :

AVENGERS 20- While you can make an argument for a lot of the early issues because of nostalgia, this one I think stands out, primarily because of Jack Kirby’s great use of perspective to make for an exciting cover.

AVENGERS 44- This is the next standout issue, by big John Buscema.

AVENGERS 63- Excellent Gene Colan Cover!

Avengers 66- Beautiful John Buscema cover. Dig that crazy perspective. :)

AVENGERS 92- I used to own this issue. Early cover art by Neal Adams.

AVENGERS 96- Another great Neal Adams cover.

AVENGERS 99- Another great cover, mixing excellent typography with the artwork of Big John Buscema.

AVENGERS 107- Great Rich Buckler cover.

AVENGERS 110- And cometh Gil Kane. A series known for its great covers and artists, and here was Gil Kane blowing them all out of the water. Decades later and it still remains one of the great covers of all time.

AVENGERS 113- The art isn’t the greatest here, but the typography and storytelling of the scene makes this an attractive and attention getting cover by Rich Buckler and Joe Sinnott.

The Avengers Omnibus, Vol. 1- This collects the first thirty issues of the AVENGERS in a deluxe hardcover format. These tend to sell out quickly.

More omnibuses are not available as of yet, so if you want to get issues 31 to 113, outside of buying individual issues (prohibitively expensive for most of us) the two ways to get the issues are:

I. MASTERWORKS- Masterworks are highquality hardcover (and lately sc) books that collect on average 6 issues on quality, glossy paper. So can be a bit pricey trying to get a lot of issues in that format, so it’s best for just getting specific must have issues.

Such as these:

Marvel Masterworks: The Avengers Volume 10 (Marvel Masterworks) Deluxe hardcover edition collecting The Avengers, nos. 89-100. These guys tend to sell out as well, and prices can go up when that happens

Marvel Masterworks: The Avengers Volume 11- This volume of the Avengers Masterworks reprints issue numbers 101-111, and Daredevil #99, from July 1972 to May 1973, Including issue#110 mentioned above

II. DIGITAL COMICS

40 years of the Avengers on DVD Rom- These tend to sell out quickly as well. So pick them up before they sell out and the price goes up

Well that’s all for this installment. Come back next time as we tackle the years from 1973 to 1983!

The Crucifixion of Tim Story and The Fantastic Four


Today, five years after its cinema release, I finally got around to watching 2005′s FANTASTIC FOUR directed by Tim Story.

I have had the DVD for some time now, I got it as a gift, but based on a/ The across the board scathing reviews the movie had garnered and b/ the underwhelming sense that the cast and previews filled me with… I had no interest or intention of viewing this film/DVD.

I immediately put it online to resell. Fast-Forward a couple years, and the DVD hasn’t sold and is still taken up valuable space in my abode. I’m looking around for a DVD to make me feel halfway clean again after sitting through a particularly dire film, 1978′s extremely odd, THE MAFU CAGE (avoid).

So I unwrap the DVD of the FANTASTIC FOUR (still in its original plastic) pop in in, and prepare for some campiness just to wash away the MAFU CAGE.

Instead of a diversion, I find, much to my surprise quite an entertaining movie, with some indeed fantastic set pieces.

I found the film exciting, fun, action packed, well performed and well directed. None of which the vicious reviews would lead you to believe.

And yes the film does make changes to the source material, but that is a film’s right and to a great extent its duty. You want the comic, go read the comic (I’m a huge fan of the original Lee-Kirby run, as well as some of the books from the 70s, and definitely Bryne’s stories of the 80s), this is a movie and the adaptation is ultimately its own beast and must answer to different criteria and different expectations.

And that’s something this film does, and does well. Prior to seeing this film, I personally wouldn’t have cast Tim Story as Director, for the simple fact that it is directors more than anything else that defines a film for me, and while succesfull in BARBERSHOP, there is nothing in that pedigree that screams he could handle a huge budget Action/FX flick.

The same reservations extended to the cast for me. Particularly Jessica Alba, struck me initially as miscast for the pivotal role of Sue Storm.

And having seen the film I can now say both reservations were unwarranted. Jessica Alba isn’t the Sue Storm of the comics, just as the film’s Doom isn’t the Doom of the comics, etc. And you know what… that’s perfectly fine. Because the characters they do craft work very nicely in the confines of a summer movie Blockbuster. Jessica is hot and young, and she fills out a skin tight suit very well, and she’s equally adept at filling theater seats with the requisite warm blooded young guys. And there’s nothing wrong with that. And beyond that I thought she gave a good performance. True to this movie’s version of Sue Storm.

And the changes work for the story they want to tell. I really enjoyed the movie, it had some real wit to it, courtesy of Chris Evans in many scenes, and the story progresses briskly, and the action rousing and larger than life.

It was a fun, fun movie. Tim Story rising to the challenge (and make no mistakes that’s what it was… a challenge). Producers looking at his abiliy to quintuple BARBERSHOPS’s budget of $12000000, give him a budget nearly ten times of that for this movie, expecting lightning to strike again.

The problem with that is… its unlikely. It is the Peter Principle in effect. A director who is brilliant at bringing in a movie at one budget and one genre, taken out of his comfort zone and asked to repeat his success.

It’s quite frankly from the get-go a recipe for lack of consumer confidence. It is also a recipe for failure.

But to Tim Story’s and the casts credit, they pull it off, manage to make money with the film, and tell a tale that I found quite entertaining.

The 2007 FF followup, again subject to scathing reviews, and while that makes less money still manages to break even via domestic sales alone.

And getting back to the 2005 FF, the cast is great, particularly Chris Evans.

Unfortunately for Tim Story I think the damage is done. Per the Peter Principle he was advanced to his level of (assumed)incompetance, so now his star is in definite decline.

Which is a shame because I think with FF he showed he was a filmmaker of some versatility and would have liked to see a third film with this cast. He would have been better off bulding his reputation gradually rather than following the dollar into potentially a career ending couple of films.

You see that particular dynamic more and more, of the disposable director. Producers instead of getting an established director for these films, hire these video directors and untried directors, that they can get cheap, and if necessary use as a scapegoat should the pic not make the return expected.

Tim Story has become the focus point for I think undeserved negative reaction, to a film that end of the day I found far more enjoyable than such ‘celebrated’ flicks as SIN CITY or BATMAN BEGINS.

Final Grade on FF: C+/B-. It’s a good natured movie, with real heart. Performed and crafted by people with love, passion, and a little bit of fun. And I’ll take a movie like that over the cynical, brutal, pessimistic fare, that too many people equate with quality.

Heart, baby. The whole world is crying out for movies with a little bit of heart and a lot of fun, and this movie has both in spades. And that counts for a lot with me. And the DVD offeres a great commentary with the cast. It’s one thing to have not seen the movie, but to have seen the movie and not been able to enjoy it and have fun with it, as it is, for what it is, says sad things about the viewer I think, rather than the viewed.

Recommended Flick!

The NY COMICCON 2007 Coverage Pt. 1: The Black (you talking about shaft? Hush your mouth!) Panel

I had a great time at the NY comiccon. I thought with the exception of the rat like maze, laughingly referred to as a line, that it was a well conducted event.

Being my first con, I was definitely a little overwhelmed. The sales floor really was too much for me. Navigating it on Saturday (and I tried), was a herculean task, and I couldn’t find anything.

So I mossied (I couldn’t find it in the dictionary, but you know mosying , that thing cowboys do when they can’t find a horse. It’s kinda like walking :) ) my way down to the panels.

The panels I had researched and knew what I wanted to hit. With one exception I hit pretty much every panel I was interested in, and on Sunday got to touch base with creators and personalities I’m a fan of.

Here’s a pic from the great Marvel Bullpen panel. Lot’s of fun, packed house. Sorry for the blurry pic, but I think you can pretty easily make it out. From left to right it’s Stan (The Man) Lee, Jolting Joe Sinnot, and Gracious Gene Colan!.

Stan was a riot! Panel also included Ralph Macchio and a lady they only referred to as Flo. Fun panel, full of reminisces of Marvel’s glory days. My 2nd favorite panel!

But in this installment wanted to talk about the panel that surprisingly was my favorite of the con. Michael Davis’ The Black Panel NYC.

Now, now… don’t give me that look, it was actually really good. :).

The unfortunate truth is you can’t say Black in this country without some idiot saying, “why it gotta be a Black thing” and the answer is always the same. For the same reason there is an Asian thing, or a Jewish thing, or an Italian thing, and let’s be honest America is a defacto white thing.

And for the absence of a strong sense of identity amidst that defacto standard, prisons are filled, and drugs go into veins. So it is very, very important to have a china town, or a little Italy, to have a language, and a country, and a history, and a culture, and idioms to call your own.

And a lot of that infrastructure is in need of building.

Not just for the good of the minority mind you, but for the good of the majority. It benefits the majority, for the pieces that make up the whole, to be able to bring their own identity, and strength to the table.

So trust me, a Black Panel, A China Town, a Little Italy…. these are good things.

Now quick thoughts on the panel:

Above is a nifty pic of the panel. From left to right you have:
Denys Cowan (You can just make out the tip of his hat, and his shoulder, but have a better pic below), Chuck Creekmur, Cheryl Lynn, Prodigal Sunn, Michael Davis, Reginald Hudlin, and Mark and Mike Davis of Blokhedz. I’ll get into who everyone is, and what they work on)

“I would love to work with (Christopher) Priest. Along with Denys (Cowan) he’s one of the creators I’ve reached out to.”
…Reginald Hudlin, Writer, Filmaker, Comics Pro, President of BET, and Renaissance Man, an excerpt from the absolutely was not to be missed Black Panel that took place at this years NY Comiccon. A panel decisively and brilliantly moderated by Michael Davis.

Because many times even when the panel is great, the questions are idiotic and insipid. As in the Stephen King panel, “well I haven’t read the book Mr. King, but a friend of mine told me….”

So it was great to not see that happen, and that Michael Davis steered the panel with a deft and strong hand. The panel was great, the questions were great, the vibe was stunning. You had a great Asian-Latin-Black lovefest and mutual admiration society going on, which is great and fitting, because Black really does encompass all those people, the mass media’s attempt to fractionalize that truth, aside.

Above is a pic of Prodical Sun, Michael Davis, Reginald Hudlin.

And I want to get further off topic here, Mr. Davis took flak from someone regarding using the term Black for his panel. Isn’t that amazing? You can have a Jewish Anti-Defamation League, or an Asian that, or a Korean this, or an Italian that, but noooooo… you can’t have a Black so and so.

But Luckily he told the guy go jump in the lake. Because honestly I frigging despise the term African American.

“OHHHHH!!” And the crowd gasps!

“No he didn’t just say that!”

“That Negro has lost his mind!”

Well actually I did say it, and I have as firm a grasp on my sanity as I ever had, which of course isn’t saying much.

But for you in the cheap seats, let me say it again so you catch every word: I frigging despise the term, African American.

Why?

Because it’s a very marginalizing, mass media term; that doesn’t encompass the rich vein of people and culture that word is tacked over, but segments them based on national/geo-political boundaries.

An idiotic way to define a people, painting them with a nationalistic brand or brush. And an inaccurate way.

60% (a low #) of what we consider Latin nations, Brazil/Cuba/Venezuela are heavily of African ancestry. So as a person whose blood line runs from Senegal to the islands to the Americas… Black works really well for me, hey I’ll even answer to Pan-African, Nubian, on an especially jovial day perhaps even colored(smile when you say that boy!) but you can take your African American and choke on it.

Because AA is a marginalizing divisive term taken out of the context it was first used in.


“Man that Negro is crazy!” “Pan-African please. :)

So getting back on topic, the fact that it was called the Black Panel, worked for me. And I think it worked for the people who were there.

Because unlike my tirades :) it was all about the creative process, and new projects, new visions, upcoming work, and generally just moving forward.

With Animation projects, comic projects, book projects, publishing ventures it was a really informative panel, bursting with networking goodness.

I should have recorded the panel, and hope someone did, because it was that good.

Here’s a better pic showing Denys Cowan and Chuck Creekmur.

Panelists were:

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Denys Cowan-Writer, Artist, Martial Artist. Very long, very brilliant comic career. Highlights for me being his work on the Question, Black Panther, Batman Blind Justice and his Milestone work, such as Hardware. Now VP of BETs new Animation Studio.

I’ve been a loud detractor of BET, since their sale to Viacom, my issue being how you can honestly call it Black Entertainment when it’s owned by a white company, you may be able to call it blackface, or propagation and fulfillment of black stereotypes but not necessarily Black entertainment.

But with names like Hudlin and Cowan at the helm I’m inclined to actually give the channel another look, and hope it becomes more than a station that panders to stereotypes.

Though I would love to see these men working on their own company rather than a subset of a larger company. Because end of the day as Michael Jackson, and Magic Johnson, and Prince have found working their projects under Sony, end of the day you are generating income for interests outside your community, making Sony’s name at the expense of your own, and end of the day when you stop generating income you will be discarded. As will your work.

That’s always the fear when talented creators of color invest their time, in properties they do not own. But again with Hudlin and Cowan in the game I’m inclined to be positive.

Check out Newsarama’s interview with him here:

http://www.newsarama.com/general/Cowan/DenysInt.html

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Chuck “Jigsaw” Creekmur- President of WWW.ALLHIPHOP.COM. I admit to being out of the hiphop loop, but the site looks like a fun, easily navigated, and thankfully Flash free site. I’d love to see him partner with creators such as Aaron Mcgruder and Keith Knight, to bring their respective funny endearing, and satire filled cartoons, BOONDOCKS and THE K CHRONICLES, to a hiphop audience.

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Ms. Cheryl Lynn- Unfortunately the only beautiful panelist (no offense guys) was not captured in any closeups. I consider myself pretty schooled on Comic/Cartoon history, but I was mistaken. As Ms. Lynn eloquently informed the audience about a wonderful female cartoonist who worked in the golden age of the medium, of whom I was totally ignorant… Jackie Ormes. She has a great site, and I urge you to do what I did, go to her site and get informed. And also it’s a great resource for cartoonists of color to join, or for finding great cartoonists to work with. http://theormessociety.com/.

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Prodigal Sunn of Wu Tang Clan- Wu Tang Clan is among the most effective musicians to use the comic medium as an expression and extension of the story their music told. And Prodigal with a solo CD about to launch, television work, animation, and film projects on the burner remains one of the busiest and most steadfast supporters of the medium of comics.

I’d love to see Prodigal’s website become Flash Free. ;) [Black people, can't we stop using Flash. :)]

But seriously, what I would like to see is Prodigal’s Wu Tang Clan comics syndicated/reprinted on ALL HIPHOP. Also what would be great is if ALL HIPHOP offered a store where you could purchase the books, of WU TANG CLAN, BOONDOCKS, K-CHRONICLES direct from their site. A win-win situation for everyone.

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Okay all the time I have for this installment. Next installment we’ll cover the last 4 members of NY Comiccon’s THE BLACK PANEL! ([ feel like that should be in big lights, and the name echoing :)]

All in all a fun, fun panel.

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