Archive for the 'wondercon' Category


Black History Month 30: Call Me Nat Turner With a Burner

March 3rd, 2008 Posted by david brothers

Warfare’s inevitable, Rebel I hold several government official
Issue thirty-eight specials, that step through
Like Nat Turner create a spectacle
I may die in the scuffle, but I’m takin’ forty devils

–Inspectah Deck, “The City”

I watch my small home burn to the ground. My wife and daughter’s screams stopped over half an hour ago. I should get up, but I can’t find the reason or the strength. My world has been destroyed, and the cruelty is that I have survived it.

After a long time, I find a reason to move. I can’t say it’s a good reason, or a Christian reason… but it’s reason enough.

I head into the direction of the white triangles.

I head into the dark.
–John Henry, New Frontier

Steel Drivin’ Man

I was really big into American folk tales for a while, real or fictional. Paul Bunyan, John Henry, George Washington Carver, and so on. They were infinitely interesting, but one that kept catching my eye sounded like fiction, despite the fact that it actually happened.

Nat, commonly called Nat Turner, (October 2, 1800 – November 11, 1831) was an American slave whose slave rebellion in Southampton County, Virginia, was the most remarkable instance of black resistance to enslavement in the antebellum southern United States. His methodical slaughter of white civilians during the uprising makes his legacy controversial, but he is still considered by many to be a heroic figure of black resistance to oppression. At birth he was not given a surname, but was recorded solely by his given name, Nat. In accordance with a common practice, he was often called by the surname of his owner, Samuel Turner.

Nat Turner is an icon, and kind of a hard one to explain my interest in. I mean, his mission was to straight up kill white people and free slaves. “Hey guys, I heard this awesome story about this dude named Nat. He helped kill like fifty white people and–”

Yeah, that’s about as far as you get before the funny looks start, huh?

I guess if I had to nail it down, it’d be the fact that Nat was up against a wall in an untenable position and didn’t just sit there– he reacted. He made a choice. One thing that pretty much every black kid I knew would do was brag about how if they were alive back in slave days, they’d fight back, kill the master, and take over the plantation. You’d think you were looking at an entire generation made up of Huey Newtons and Malcolm X’s the way we used to talk.

I’m older now, and to be honest, I’m not sure how I would react. Would I stand tall? Would I bend? Heaven forbid, would I buckle and break? I know which one I’d hope to do, but I can’t say for sure.

John Henry in Darwyn Cooke’s New Frontier is a character I love dearly, and it was very cool to hear Cooke say that it was some of his favorite writing and best scenes in the book. Including him in New Frontier greatly increased my enjoyment of the book and, in a way, summarized a lot of the time going up to the civil rights struggle. There have always been people trying to do good– however, they were ahead of their time. So far ahead of their time that they ended up dead.

One connection that I happened upon, that may or may not have been intentional, is the one between Nat Turner, the legendary John Henry, and the New Frontier John Henry. New Frontier John Henry’s real name was John Wilson. He seemed to have been a well-established dude, with a wife and daughter, before he “died.” When he came back from the dead, he became a mix of two black folk heroes: Nat Turner and John Henry.

The iconography is John Henry with a twist. The hammers are John Henry, but the hood and noose are new. The hood and noose are bold statements. “You can’t kill me,” the noose says. “You tried, you failed, and here I am again.” The hood has a similar message. “I am no one. I am everyone.” It turns John Henry into an idea.

The actions, though? Those are a more focused Nat Turner. Instead of indiscriminate murder, he’s going after the people who do wrong. He’s going after the problem. He’s taking a stand. He’s standing tall. He’s striking back. It’s all he has left to live for.

It’s a mix that really speaks to me, I guess. Two of my favorite heroes in one person and beautifully illustrated. I feel like the John Henry sequence is a vital portion of the book, if not the best portion, and was pretty brave to include in the final product. I’m curious as to whether or not DC editorial had any qualms, but at the same time? It went through. That’s the important part.

Wondercon was a trip and a half for me. I had GDC on Monday through Friday, and then Wondercon on Friday through Sunday. I did a lot, saw a lot, found a lot. I’m still recovering and my sleep schedule is awful. However, it was also worth it because I bought the best page of art from New Frontier.

I win.

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Wondercon Day Two!

February 24th, 2008 Posted by david brothers

I got an email earlier this week (or maybe late last week) from someone I’d spoken to a couple times. She wanted to interview me at Wondercon! Being a suitably narcissistic fellow who loves the sound of someone listening to him speak, I said “Yes!”

–So, at 1030 Saturday morning, I was interviewed by the wonderful Lene Taylor of I Read Comics. She asked me my opinions on comics, race in comics, and my Black History Month series. What a start to the day! Thanks for letting me ramble, Lene. Hopefully it came through all right in the recording.

–I bought a grip of trades again. I can’t help it, man. The haul this time was Peng (signed by Rey, and shoulda been bought years ago when it came out), Dr Strange: The Oath, X-Men Legends vol 4: Best of X-Men Unlimited, Human Target, Squadron Supreme: Hyperion vs Nighthawk, and Gambit: House of Cards.

I know someone who’d kill for that Gambit trade. Eat it, Sara! It’s going for 130 dollars on Amazon! I paid half cover for it!

Cripes, she might actually kill me at that price.

–I caught some awesome panels. First was the podcasting extravaganza. It was moderated by Matt Silady and featured Ron, Josh, and Conor of iFanboy, Lene Taylor and Logan Hall of I Read Comics, Chris from Around Comics (I forgot his last name like a jerk, though I’ve hung out with him basically two or three nights in a row now), and Bryan Deemer of Comic Geek Speak. It was a fun panel, made double fun by the fact that I know/am familiar with most of the people up there. I got to ask a question about timeliness in podcasts with regards to content. Does it matter at all? Chris had the best answer: “Nope.” The others mostly agreed, with the caveat that they will cover something if it is underreported or if there’s a demand for it. Otherwise, there’s no reason to feel pressured. It was a great panel, and everyone involved did a great job. Also, Conor is incredibly awesome and has a hard life being so awesome.

–The next panel was the Animation Break-Down panel. I’ll let the convention site tell it. I added in iMDB links.

4:30-5:30 Animation Story Break (“Wait, does it HAVE to be a story?”)— Go behind the scenes as writers take an idea for an animated superhero story from one-sentence premise all the way to a full-blown beginning, middle, and end. Then the real fun begins with audience participation! The crack writing staff features Charlotte Fullerton (Kim Possible), Michael Jelenic (The Batman), Dwayne McDuffie (Static Shock), and Matt Wayne (Justice League Unlimited). Moderated by Eugene Son (Storm Hawks). Expect laughter and tears – mostly the latter.

Um, wow, what a line-up! Basically, the gimmick of the panel turned out to be breaking down a Howard the Duck vs Green Lantern Corps movie. It was pretty ridiculous (in a good way) and a lot of fun. Also, as seen below, I got McDuffie to sign a couple of trades– Static Shock and Fantastic Four, in fact. That was a great moment.

–After that, I chilled out a bit, went home, changed, and went out to the world famous Isotope Comics for the awesome Darwyn Cooke signing event. I’d volunteered to work the art table, so I stuck around upstairs for most of the night, giving people the mean mug when they get their drinks too close to the art.

Did I mention the art? We had J. Bone drawings, we had some stuff from Spider-Man Tangled Web by Darwyn and J (I want to keep calling him J.Bone, but man! that’d be weird), we had some Doop/Wolverine stuff… and we had pages from the as-yet unreleased New Frontier Animated Special. It drops the first week of March!

How were the pages? They were awesome. Beautiful, every single one of them. I saw a few pages that I kept going back to. You’ll see them when the book drops. I’ll just say that there is a note in them that just says “Think fast” and a wonderful smirk. That character should always smirk. Manoman.

How was the party? Hrm. Did you know that a million people were there? Maybe not a million, but it sure felt like it. The party was out on the street for a bit and getting across the store was nearly impossible. The guest list was completely ridic, though. There were some folks in costumes. The mascot or whatever from the new Zelda was in effect. There were some burlesque-looking girls.

There was also Amy Jo Johnson a.k.a. THE PINK POWER RANGER (according to Ron), JH Williams III, Paul Dini, Bill Willingham was maybe there, Antony Johnston stopped back in again, Ross Richie of Boom Studios was there, and a grip of people from DC Comics/Warner Home Video were there.

Repeat: Pink Power Ranger.

I might have possibly kind of told Paul Dini to get his drink off the art table before it spills, but in my defense if I did do such an unconscionable thing it was because I didn’t recognize him until Marsha, Darwyn Cooke’s wife, pointed him out to me.


It was pretty cool talking to J. Bone and David Bullock about art and work and like that. Those were great times. Bullock did some work on the upcoming Spidey cartoon and being something of a big Spider-Man fan, it was cool to speak to him.

Oh yeah, Darwyn Cooke… he is awesome, through and through. I finally saw a break in the signing line and he signed my copy of Selina’s Big score and the print of the Isotope flyer. We talked more about the John Henry stuff. I mentioned that I was going to fanboy at him for a moment and told him that I led off my Black History Month posts with the John Henry sequence from New Frontier and he was like “That was you?!”

So, uh, Darwyn Cooke reads my blog! He also told me to post this picture.


He thanked me for feeling that the John Henry stuff wasn’t overwrought or horrible and I thanked him for writing it.

I’d brought a camera with me with the intention of taking a ton of pictures, but instead I basically just took shots of me and my friends chilling in the art room. Check the flickr set here!

Sunday is almost guaranteed to be more laid back and less awesome than today. I’m going to be trade bin diving with Keith and Ash (I want to score another Gambit book!) and just wandering the floor the rest of the show. I’m definitely gonna do a stint at the Writers Old Fashioned table, too.

Also, wandering the Wondercon halls listening to Saul Williams’s “The Inevitable Rise and Fall of Niggy Tardust” is really, really weird but really, really fitting. I don’t know why.

One quick reminder: You can still enter the contest to win a free copy of New Frontier! Go post on that thread to get it done and I’ll pick the winner Sunday night.

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Darwyn Cooke Signing @ Isotope

February 23rd, 2008 Posted by david brothers

The image explains it all, huh? And how cool is that?

click for directions

See you there!

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Wondercon Day One!

February 23rd, 2008 Posted by david brothers

What did I do today?

I went and saw a Becky Cloonan panel. It was pretty cool, and she talked a lot about her influences. She was also asked three different times what books she likes to read. I was first, mind you. Way to go, guys– try being on time. She’s a big Gambit fan, and a friend of mine got a sketch from her of him.

After that, I saw Terry Dodson. He gave a really interesting talk on his career and how he got to where he was. He also told how he ended up having his wife be his inker, which was a little neat. Basically, she was an interior design major, but she has impeccable penmanship and line control. She apprenticed for a little while, and the rest is history.

After that, I saw Darwyn Cooke for the second time. He did a stealth signing at the Isotope on Thursday night, which was really cool. It was really laid back, plus I got my Absolute New Frontier signed. He told a bunch of very cool stories, too.

I met Dwayne McDuffie.

Let me repeat that– I met McDuffie. Pardon my fanboy, kids. I thought I saw him, but I wasn’t sure, but Howard Brown of PCS made it a point to introduce us. Do I even have to say how awesome that was?

I bought a couple of trades (Impulse: Reckless Youth and Sam Noir Volume One) and wandered the floor. Did some networking. Solidified a deal that’s the biggest thing I’ve ever done solo (I’ll talk about that next week!). Hung out with Mindy Owens, writer of the Runaways/Ultimates Saga and Spider-Man Fairy Tales, and her twin sister. Saw a bunch of people I know. Chilled at the Writers Old Fashioned table (AA90!) for a little while. Hung out at the Ben Templesmith and Antony Johnston signing at the Isotope.

Tomorrow? I’m getting interviewed (exciting!), watching a podcast panel moderated by a friend and featuring a few friends, and working the Darwyn Cooke signing.

I’ll be around. Holler if you see me!

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