Archive for the 'Conventions' Category


What better purchase at Wondercon than The Comic Book Guide to the Mission?

March 31st, 2011 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

None, that’s what. 

The Comic Book Guide to the Mission was edited by my friend, Lauren Davis.  I saw her go from the idea stage (at a Wondercon Past) through various stressful editing stages, and finally emerge as a hollow-eyed, exhausted, yet gracious zombie at her very-well-attended book party.  She will be tabling at Wondercon – her coordinates are D18, and I know I’ll be heading over there regularly.

Now, to the book.  It’s a lot of little stories from artists about their experiences in the Mission district of San Francisco.  The district is named for its oldest building – guess what that is – and has since evolved to a neighborhood, an art center, a hipster hang-out, a culinary mecca, a thrift store shopper’s twisted paradise, and the warmest spot in San Francisco.  The best way to describe the book is as showing how different time periods in the Mission correspond with different time periods in people’s lives.  A self-conscious suburbanite at the SF Dyke March, a kid’s view of the homeless population, an artist reminiscing about ‘darker’ times in the Mission and a lawyer finding a way to feel welcome among the area’s notorious hipster population, even just a series of iconic unconnected Mission snapshots – it’s all there.

My father, a man of particular taste, who I don’t believe has read a graphic novel since Asterix in the late seventies, cracked The Comic Book Guide to the Mission, and not only liked it enough to finish it, but spent a half an hour on the phone with me talking about how the title was selling it short.  He believed that that many stories and stills, by that many artists, on such diverse subject matter was more a wider commentary on life than just a ‘guide to the Mission’ and said approvingly that the book was a ‘bargain’ considering all the wonderful little stories within.

I love the book as well, but for more practical reasons.  (We can’t all have a poetic soul.)  Although the book isn’t technically a ‘guide’, it does benefit greatly from being drawn by San Franciscans.  I don’t live far from the Mission as the crow flies, but unlike the crow I have to walk over quite a few giant hills to get there.  As a result, I haven’t spent as much time in the Mission as I’d like.  The Guide isn’t strictly a ‘guide’, but it does have maps to the thrift stores, addresses of the best tacquerias (and an official recommendation for Best Carne Asada Taco in the Mission), recs for cheap eats from sushi to thai, and maps to all the Mission murals put up by artists over the years.  Considering the neighborhood is readily accessible from Wondercon (with no pesky hills in the way), this may be the best way to get your money’s worth out of the Con.  Sure, you’ll have to put down a quick $15.00, but you’ll get a local’s guide to the best ice cream, the best street art, and the Pornarmory.

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The Venom Plus Prop Challenge

October 12th, 2010 Posted by Gavok

As I talked about in my article about NYCC ’10, I decided to make use of Artist Alley after three years of passing it by. The question was, what did I want out of it? Asking for a sketch of just a comic character wasn’t enticing enough for me. I needed something just a little extra.

Therefore, I came up with the Venom Plus Prop Challenge, based on fulfilling my own typecast. Each artist would be tasked with drawing Venom along with another object. Any object. What will the prop be? That’s up to the artist his/herself. I had a lot of fun with this and got a good pile of sketches out of it.

Let the showcase begin.

Venom with Lobster Bib
by Todd Nauck

Venom with Handlebar Mustache
by Jacob Chabot

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Revenge of the Son of the Return of the Wrath of Comic Con

October 12th, 2010 Posted by Gavok

My fourth New York Comic Con came to an end last weekend, so naturally, I’m compelled to tell you about it. While the earlier years were more based on seeing a million panels, scouring the trade floor and hanging around the Marvel and DC booths to get signed comics from whoever was nearby, I mostly went in a different direction this year.

I’ve been wanting to take this picture for quite a while. Would have been better with Esther there and maybe a fourth person with a question mark pasted over their face. If fighting games has taught me anything, always give the extra spot to the random select button.

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Book Review: One Con Glory

June 6th, 2010 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

One Con Glory is nerd romance set over the course of a convention, encompassing the eternal themes of love, self-discovery, and plastic action figures.

The heroine, Julie, is a comics and general nerdery reporter, come to the con in a professional capacity to cover the events and interview the big players.  In an amateur capacity, she’s come to find a Glory Gilmore action figure.  Glory Gilmore is a minor heroine in a minor team, and so Julie has her work cut out for her.

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Is a Cry for Justice Fix on the Way?

May 3rd, 2010 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

For the last few years, DC has had a ‘Sunday Conversation’ panel at the end of Wonder-Con.  Although by that time I’m usually fishing around in my back for snacks I might have forgotten about last week and stealing extra paper towels from the bathrooms to use as tissues due to the first ugly stirrings of that year’s Con Crud, I always go. 

Basically, it’s a random assortment of DC people to come by and talk about comics.  No announcements.  No selling anything.  They just sit around and talk about the old comic book stores they used to haunt, what parts of comics they love, and some banter with the audience.  It’s just yakking about comics, which is why most of us go to cons in the first place.

This year, however, I heard JT Krul talk about fan involvement, and how they try to work out the best stories.  He mentioned that at a previous con, Dan Didio had come to him and told him that the Cry for Justice story reaction really wasn’t what they had wanted, and that they had worked for five hours on how to respond, story-wise.

As someone who has grown out of her juvenile, “They all just sit around, stroking white cats and laughing and figuring out how to piss off the fans,” phase, but is still plenty juvenile enough to throw tantrums about storylines, especially that one, the remark caught my attention.

I know that comics creators want to write a good story, and also a popular story.  Although I’ve seen gallows humor from people who had made some unpopular calls, everyone wants their work, and their vision, to be enjoyed by everyone.  I also no that they never get that.  There is no story so safe, so brilliant, and so popular that it doesn’t have a few people frothing at the mouth.

While Cry for Justice continuity had more than its share of detractors, I’ve seen at least some support for it almost everywhere.  I wonder, what is it that makes creators decide to ‘work’ on a story they’ve already planned?  It can’t be just fan reaction.  Spend the entire day measuring that, and you won’t get anything else done.  Trust me. 

Is it the overall scale of the reaction, or the vehemence?  Is it how long it’s sustained?  Or whether stop the usual tongue baths that they give out at conventions and start complaining when they meet creators face-to-face?  Is it the way people point the finger of blame at different people, or is it whether or not they use that old, “I’m not buying DC/Marvel/Boom/comics anymore!” 

. . . Oh, let’s face it.  If I knew, there’s no way that I’d use that knowledge wisely.

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Wondercon Wrap-up!

April 6th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

If you asked me to sum up my Wondercon experience in a couple of short, witty phrases, I’d just tell you that I ate six pieces of pizza over the course of two days and that I spent more on karaoke than I did on anything even remotely comic-related.

That’s not the full experience, though. It was an interesting con for me, due in no small part to the ongoing evolution in the way I approach comics, and being a fan of comics. I got no signatures, no sketches, no freebies. I paid for three books and got one for free. I spent maybe twenty-five whole dollars at the con, a drastic decrease from the usual foolishness I get down to. I’ll get to that, though.

I left work a couple hours early on Friday to hit the con and get my pass. It was painless, with less than two people in line ahead of me. Other than my pass saying “4thletter!/” for some reason, it was easy like Sunday morning.

I figured I’d walk the length of the hall from wall to wall, but the first thing I did at the con was find Matt Maxwell, Jeff Lester, and Heidi MacDonald chit-chatting in Artist’s Alley/Small Press. I killed some time with them for a while, talking about the con and comics, and that more or less set the tone for the con.

I spent a lot of time talking to people about comics and only attended a few panels. I stopped in on the DC Nation panel because a few friends (Esther, JK Parkin, Graeme McMillan, Carla Hoffman, Laura Hudson, a couple others) were there. It was, in a word, abysmal. They completely flubbed looking like they had any idea what they were doing with digital comics, there was a lot of “Wait and see,” there were a few “Wait until San Diego” answers… it was boring. I liked when someone asked about plans for Nightwing and got a succinct “Yeah, he’s Batman” in response, and I love that Dark Knight: Boy Wonder got announced, but it was a snoozer. I had a similar experience at the Marvel panel I accidentally attended the next day, again because friends were in effect and I had an opening in my schedule. I spent most of it poring over Darwyn Cooke’s The Man With the Getaway Face.

I attended a couple panels that were cool. The Greg Rucka spotlight moderated by Laura was a trip and well worth the price of admission. It was in a huge room, for some reason. The Boom! Studios panel was also pretty good, and Ian Brill seemed genuinely excited to be writing Darkwing Duck.

There was a Disney Comics superfan in the audience, too, who kept interrupting to ask about minutiae. At the end of the panel, I went up to say hi to Ian, and as I turned to leave, the superfan was right behind me. He was mumbling something about how we should print the Disney newspaper strips in black and white and not colorize them and something something Carl Barks. I tried to tell him I wasn’t part of Boom!, that that was the other black guy in the room, but he just said, “Yes, yes, but I think that…” and kept going. I shrugged and walked away while he was talking. I’m not getting trapped in an infinite conversation ever again, and that definitely had the makings of one.

(You ever had one of those? When someone keeps going and going and you can’t find a polite way to excuse yourself because they’re so focused that all they want to do is talk about whatever? Yeah. Infinite conversations. They’re gonna be the death of somebody one day.)

I attended the Black Cartoonists as Social Commentators panel, too. It was good, but the moderator was a little too overbearing. It was clear he had a very clear and academic formula he wanted to follow, but Keith Knight and Darrin Bell are hilarious, personable, and have great anecdotes. I would’ve much preferred to see them let loose with a conversation about themselves and their work. The glimpses we got were great, though, and if you aren’t reading either, get familiar. Bell’s story about how he was getting hate mail after hate mail before Hurricane Katrina and zilch after… that was a good one. It was a good panel.

I spent most of my time walking around with friends like Lauren Davis and Ana, digging in the various half off book booths and looking for stuff to buy. I didn’t buy much, as I said before, in part because I know exactly how much stuff is sitting on my coffee table, waiting to be read. I stuck to books I knew I’d love and get to relatively soon. This means I missed out on deep discounted hardcovers, but that’s okay. I think.
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An Interview Wherein I Try to Prove That I Will Not Someday be Played by Kathy Bates

April 5th, 2010 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

The trick with interviewing comics creators is not coming off like that kind of fan.  You know the one: the fan that takes things personally, gets overly involved in every story arc and character moment, and generally makes life miserable for anyone unlucky enough to get their attention. 

This is particularly hard when you most definitely are that kind of fan, especially when it comes to – oh, I don’t know, let me pick a character out of a hat – Batgirl.  I admit, when I came up to Bryan Q Miller, the current writer of Batgirl, I was bouncing on my heels a little.  Despite everything, though, he agreed to an interview.

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Hot Wondercon News

April 3rd, 2010 Posted by david brothers

Just so you know, Comics Alliance is the place to go for hot off the presses Wondercon news. Two bits of note for Friday:

Greg Rucka is done at DC Comics and his Batwoman? Well, y’all are gonna be waiting a while. I have more details in the link.

-Frank Miller and Jim Lee’s All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder is back on track. It hits again in February 2011 under the name Dark Knight: Boy Wonder, a six-issue miniseries. I can’t even front, that news is super exciting. I can’t wait to see more of Miller/Lee’s take of the Dark Knight universe. Grant Morrison has faltered for me, due in part to the on and off art, and Dini is writing the kind of comic book you use to break up weed on. Miller/Lee’s ASBAR was like a chilled shot of vodka– something bracing and surprising, and something that’ll rock your world when you least expect it.

More on that later, though. Stay tuned, true believer 🙂

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San Diego Comic-con

July 23rd, 2009 Posted by david brothers

I’m here! And judging by my voice mails, Esther is here, too!

I’m going to be walking the floor today, attending only a few panels. Here’s a brief list:

10:30-11:30 Science Fiction That Will Change Your Life— The staff of, Eisner Award–winning author Douglas Wolk (Reading Comics), and others talk about science fiction from the last year that does more than blow things up. It might also blow your mind. What science fiction should you be reading and watching if you want your brain to grow so big it pops out of the top of your skull and starts throbbing and shooting lasers? The panelists have some tips. Room 8

12:30-1:30 Crime: Usual and Unusual— The heart of crime fiction is a crime committed against people or institutions—but the range of subgenres is diverse and fascinating. Panelists: Max Allan Collins (The Goliath Bone), Jeffrey J. Mariotte (Cold Black Hearts), Alexander Irvine (Buyout), Gregg Hurwitz (Trust No One), Thomas Greanias (The Atlantis Revelation), and Kat Richardson (Vanished) cover traditional mysteries, espionage, paranormal mystery, and more. Moderator: Maryelizabeth Hart, Mysterious Galaxy. Room 3

2:00-3:00 A Darker Shade of Ink: Crime and Noir in Comics— Crime comics are back with a bang! Darwyn Cooke (Parker: The Hunter), Greg Rucka (Gotham Central), and Steve Lieber (Whiteout) join moderator/noted mystery and comics writer Max Allan Collins (The Road to Perdition) to talk about the new incarnations of crime and noir in comics. Room 5AB

5:30-6:30 All-Stars of Comics Podcasting— Comics podcasting has grown from a novelty to a force within the industry, providing an outlet for reviews, interviews, news and general entertainment for comic book fans. Comic book podcasting veterans Jimmy Aquino (Comics News Insider), Charlito (Indie Spinner Rack), Brian “Pants” Christman (Comic Geek Speak), Bob Bretall (Comic Book Page—who will be giving away comics to the first 200 people to attend the panel), and Ron Richards (iFanboy) discuss the future of comics podcasting. You never know what may happen in podcasting, so be sure to come as some surprise guests may be appearing! Plus this is your chance to meet and talk to your favorite podcasters! Room 32AB

If you see me, say hello. I’m sure Esther will be at every DC-related panel ever. You can email me or twitter at me if you like.

I’ve pretty much got everything I want out of the con, as you can see here.

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Scans No Longer Daily

March 8th, 2009 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

Scans_Daily, the livejournal community that used to regularly post pages from comic books, is no more.

I’ve mentioned scans_daily in at least one entry, so it’s no secret that I knew the place, and although I didn’t check in as religiously as I did when I first started reading comics, I’m sorry to see it go.  Obviously it was plagued with the same things that blight most internet communities – warring cliques, random trolls, dog-piling, off-topic ranting, and the occasional full-blown crazy person. 

At the same time, it was the perfect resource for the new, enthusiastic comics reader.  The journal format made it easy to have back-and-forth conversations without having to scroll through eighty pages of random remarks.  All sorts of people frequented the community, so discussion topics ranged from superhero crushes to continuity details to creator gossip.  With over nine-thousand members, it was also the perfect place to find out more about anything you were interested in.  If you needed an issue number or a costume variation, all you had to do was ask and wait. 

Still, I can’t say I’m surprised that it was shut down.  Post scans, especially a lot of them, and you can expect trouble sooner or later.

I don’t want to get into the drama of the shut down.  I’m sure it’s googleable.  And I don’t want an onset of internet lawyers, talking about fair use and creator rights.

What I would like to hear, from anyone here who has an opinion, is whether or not this was a victory or a setback for comics marketing. 

As I said, I frequented the community, especially in the early days, and it really expanded my reading list.  Nightwing, Birds of Prey, The Blue Beetle, Secret Six, The Ultimates, and Green Arrow are a few I can list off the top of my head.  There are also countless back-issues, mini-series, and one-shots that I picked up because I saw something I liked on scans_daily, and got into a conversation with someone who told me about other issues that I would like even more.

At the same time, look at my list again.  Three out of those six titles are currently cancelled.  And I distinctly remember picking up a trade at a booth at WonderCon, flipping through it, and thinking, “I’m not buying this.  There are only a few pages I’m interested in and I know they’re on scans_daily.”  Of course, for a few pages out of a whole trade, the vendor would have had to offer a hell of a discount for me to have bought it.  And I don’t think the book would have caught my eye in the first place if it weren’t for seeing those few pages on scans_daily.  But in an industry where every sale counts, is this a significant dent?  Of course there are a ton of torrent sites, but how many people look at a book and think, “Why shell out three dollars when the pages I most want are on scans_daily?”

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