Archive for the 'wondercon' Category

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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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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!/Popcultureshock.com” 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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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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An Interview With The Team That Reinvented Supergirl

March 4th, 2009 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures In the Eighth Grade was reviewed on this site a few months ago when the fist issue came out.  Conclusion:  funny, sly, and cute as a button.  Since then I’ve been reading the book and it has managed to keep all those descriptors accurate, despite having to pull off several difficult balancing acts.  The book has to fold in enough ancient continuity to make the long-term superfans happy while making sure the story is accessible to new readers.  It has to keep the language simple enough for young children without being dull for an adult reader.  And it has to make us laugh at the miseries of junior high while reminding us why we wouldn’t be dragged back there kicking, screaming, weeping, thrashing and begging for mercy.

At WonderCon, Landry Walker and Eric Jones spent most of their time signing and sketching at the SLG Comics booth or being mobbed during signing events for DC, but I managed to talk to them briefly about how Supergirl came about. Read the rest of this entry �

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Batgirl

February 28th, 2009 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

There were two things I learned at the DC Universe panel.

There is going to be a Batgirl book after Battle for the Cowl is over.

Cassandra Cain is not going to be ‘part of the batfamily’ after Battle for the Cowl is over.

I asked who was going to fill the cowl and was denied an answer, so I’ve compiled a list.

1.  Barbara Gordon:  Her upcoming series is titled ‘The Cure.’  Dan Didio has gone from flatly denying the idea that Babs would ever walk again to giving cagey answers like, “There’s a lot to be said for a Barbara Gordon Batgirl.”  I think I’ve made it no secret that I would love to see Barbara Gordon as Batgirl again.  But then, isn’t she just a bit old for the ‘girl’ title?  And since the position of Batwoman is filled at least up until the end of the JH Williams Batwoman book, there might not be a place for an adult Batgirl.

2.  Stephanie Brown:  What can I say?  I don’t give up hope. 

3.  Charlie Gage-Radcliffe:  After all, she adopted the title for a while, and Barbara took her under her wing.  But what’s more - It’s been a long time coming.  And let me say, there were times when I truly believed I would never see this day.  But at last, at long last, there might possibly be a heroine with a hyphenated last name in the Batbooks.  Stay strong, sister!  Make us proud!

4.  Cassandra Cain:  Because sometimes a DC editor can be the father of all liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiieeeees.

5.  Deathstroke:  He shows up in every book.  It was just a matter of time, really.

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Wonder Woman: The Movie

February 28th, 2009 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

Maybe it’s the result of being in a huge room and watching the movie with hundreds of other people, but the battle scenes in this movie make you want to stand up and cheer.  That is, when they don’t make you want to turn your head away and wince.  Director Lauren Montgomery said that the first cut of this movie earned an R rating, and it doesn’t surprise me one bit.  I cut my teeth on the kid-friendly Batman: The Animated Series, and am therefore not accustomed to see that many bodies on the ground in a kid’s animated movie.  Still, the violence is done with style, giving the battles energy and weight, rather than just gore for the sake of gore.

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WonderCon: DC Nation Bulletin

February 28th, 2009 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

Here are a few of my reactions to the DC Nation panel:

  • Ian Sattler is almost disgustingly endearing as the moderator.
  • And when he said that James Robinson’s accent would class up the place he wasn’t kidding.
  • The New Krypton is still far from over, and while I’m usually not a fan of long, drawn out crossover events, the snazzy trailer they showed featured an increasingly militaristic society of Kryptonians and Lex Luthor.  Might vanquishing the Kryptonian forces be a way for Lex to claw his way back to respectability?  They say it’s all building toward a 2010 event, so we’ll have to sit tight for now.
  • Blackest Night #0 is going to be made available on free comic book day so I’m going to have to wear nothing but yellow and carry a wooden bat to get past the hordes of Green Lantern fans.
  • The new Doom Patrol book was nerd-bait to begin with.  Add in Keith Giffen and the Metal Men and I thought that the flames on the cover image were just the smoking remains of some fanboy’s exploded head.
  • Paul Dini deserves all the credit in the world.  He writes fantastic stories and has been doing so for coming up on two decades.   The problem is, when you are a female comic book fan and you hear about a team book with Poison Ivy, Catwoman, and Harley Quinn, and it’s called Gotham City Sirens, you have one main worry: Will the entire premise of the book be a lot of  boobs with a little story around them?  Once you start worrying about that you pretty much rate each statement made about the book as good or bad depending on whether it implies that your worry is justified.  So, I will interpret Mister Dini’s description of the book thusly:  It will have “emotional devastation  (Good.).”  It will be “very dangerous (Bad.), very hot (Extremely Bad.), very extreme (Neutral.), and not what anyone is expecting (Good, again.).”
  • Whatever else is going on, making Kate Spencer the new DA of Gotham is inspired.  Bravo.

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The Sound of My Own Voice

March 4th, 2008 Posted by david brothers

Matt Silady and I were interviewed at Wondercon for Lene Taylor’s I Read Comics podcast. Come out and listen to me blab about being a blogger and Matt talk about being a comics creator. I think that Matt’s bit is a bit more interesting than mine, but maybe that’s just my long-lost sense of humbleness at work! Anyway, I talk about blogging, black comics stuff, and tokenism and why I post on the internet.

I manage to mention a bunch of internet people I like, too. Pedro and co., Kalinara/Melissa, Ragnell/Lisa, WFA, Writers Old Fashioned, and Cheryl Lynn.

Whoo.

Give it a look and toss I Read Comics into your podcast catcher.

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