Archive for the ‘Comics’ Category

COMIC-CON 2010

July 30, 2010

With the demise of “Lost” and the lack of a “Lost” panel at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, my interest in attending hit a new low. For me, the question is how much is it worth to get a few free sketches and autographs? Wouldn’t I be better off putting that money towards a Vegas vacation? It’s not like Comic-Con is my one chance a year to run elbows with the stars. But when a friend offered me a free credential and my usual hotel mates extended a bargain basement offer to sleep on their floor for $ 50 a night, I decided what could a few days of nerdy fun hurt?

After the traditional stop at Irvine’s Chik-Fil-A for lunch, I hit San Diego Thursday afternoon around 1:30 and dropped my stuff off in the room before heading over to the Convention Center. This year, it actually seemed more crowded outside the building than inside, thanks to an outdoor display of the Green Hornet’s Black Beauty automobile and plenty of scantily-clad models hawking TV shows, movies and comics, which made for a traffic jam in front of the Hard Rock Hotel.

The highlight of the first day was adding the signature of Marvel Comics writer and fellow Chik-Fil-A fan Brian Michael Bendis to my Marvel book. Over the years, I’ve been given many books as gifts and have turned them into autograph books, starting with “The Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told,” which I’ve gotten signed by anyone who’s worked on the Batman comics, movies and cartoons. I also have a book for DC Comics, Marvel Comics and still another one devoted to TV stars and producers. The DC book has the most autographs, with 122. It’s so crowded with signatures, it looks like a high school yearbook owned by the most popular kid in school.

Brian, writer of one of my favorite comics, “Powers,” as well as such current hits as “The Avengers” and “Ultimate Spider-Man,” had his signing scheduled for 6:00, with the convention closing at 7:00 for the evening. Unfortunately by 7:00, I still hadn’t reached Brian, and while he announced that he was prepared to stay until we all had our autographs, the security on hand didn’t exactly agree to that. But I did make it to Brian around 7:14, got my book signed and told him that a few years ago I had inquired about the option on one of his books, “Fire.” He said he was keeping it for himself and sure enough, this year the book was optioned by Universal as a vehicle for Zac Efron, so I congratulated him for his success in selling the property.

The next day I spied a line at the Warner Brothers booth for a signing by the producers and voice talent of “Batman: The Brave And The Bold,” where I had Diedrich Bader, the voice of Batman on the show, sign my Batman book (and if you had told me the guy that played Os on “The Drew Carey Show” would have made a great Batman, I would have laughed in you r face, but he certainly does!). I was also pleased to have my book signed by Andrea Romano, the executive in charge of voice casting on all of Warner’s superhero series in recent years.

I later returned in the afternoon to the WB booth to get in line for the signing for “V” featuring stars Elizabeth Mitchell and Morena Baccarin. Morena’s face was embossed on my hotel key card, which I showed the ladies when it was my turn to approach them. Elizabeth said, “You should have her sign that!” A good idea, but I stuck to having them both sign my TV book and most importantly for Elizabeth to sign my “Lost” DVD box. Of course, it was a surprise to see Morena rocking a new hair color, a whitish blond look. Already one of the world’s most beautiful women, did she suddenly wake up one day and say, “You know, not enough people notice me? I better change my hair so I’m even more stunning!” Well, it worked!

Besides Elizabeth Mitchell, there was one other actress I dearly wanted to meet, and that was Pauley Perrette, who plays forensic expert Abby on “NCIS,” a show I’m currently spending many hours catching up on, so it’s fortunate as I told Pauley that it’s on all the time in reruns. Pauley was part of the autograph line for the participants in the “Tech On TV” panel. Also signing was Anthony Zuiker, creator of “CSI.” Anthony has turned to writing what he calls digi-novels under the title “Level 26.” I had read the first one and he informed me he has another coming out soon, which will include a companion DVD. I guess I won’t be borrowing that one from the library then…

Fortunately, I didn’t have to stand in line every time I wanted to see a star at Comic-Con. It seemed like a number of them were staying in our hotel, as I rode the elevator at various times with the new Green Lantern, Ryan Reynolds, and the new Steve McGarrett of “Hawaii 5-0,” Alex O’Loughlin. The cast of “True Blood” must have been staying there too, as my roommates reported seeing such cast members as Anna Paquin and Evan Rachel Wood around.

When I wasn’t stalking the stars, I was hanging around the Marvel and DC Comics booths adding autographs to my books and standing in line for free sketches. When I get a sketch, I usually tell the artist to draw whatever they want, which in the case of Pop Mhan got me a drawing of a character he said he draws at every convention sooner or later: Ghost Rider. “Green Lantern Corps” artist Patrick Gleason drew me a fan favorite character that’s also a favorite of his, BZZD, an insect-like Green Lantern. I also talked to Cully Hamner, who was the artist on the mini-series “Red,” which has been made into a movie starring Bruce Willis. Cully drew a sketch of main character Paul Moses for me and said he’s writing and drawing a prequel to the “Red” comic.

I left the Con Saturday night after dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory with friends in the Gaslamp District. As I packed, suddenly a fireworks display began over the Convention Center, the perfect capper to a perfect convention!

AN OPEN LETTER TO JOSS WHEDON

March 4, 2010

Note: If you have not yet read the latest issue of the “Buffy” comic and/or do not want the identity of Twilight revealed, stop reading now!

Dear Joss,

Tonight I read “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” # 33 and was stunned. Oh, not by the revelation of Twilight’s identity. Unfortunately, that was a foregone conclusion after the website Comic Book Resources let the cat out of the bag a few months ago. But without the big surprise of the unmasking, I’ve been able to concentrate on just what happened in the issue. I’m forced to conclude that in the case of the character of Angel, you really don’t know what you’re talking about!

Ah, I know this is heresy to the many fans who worship every word you put to paper. And while I’m not a Whedon superfan, I do think you’re a great writer and director and have enjoyed much of your work. But the Angel I know isn’t much of a planner. He’s a man of action who would laugh at the idea of putting on a mask and pretending to be a villain, no matter the end game. Oh, sure, he might go along with the idea in the short run maybe, but not as his main strategy.

But more than that, Angel is a hero. His words about keeping the body count low just don’t wash. The Angel I know would have laid down his life for every one of those 213 Slayers. Yes, as Angel says, he didn’t kill them. But the real Angel would have certainly tried to save them…

Now maybe in upcoming issues, we’ll find out about a prophecy that Angel is working towards to wipe out demons and vampires. There are obviously secrets yet to be revealed. But I do know that Angel is all about sacrifice, even sacrificing true love for the greater good. I hope you know that too.

All the best,

Brian

THE SDCC EXPERIENCE 2009

July 28, 2009

Just back from San Diego and five days at Comic-Con International. As always, there was fun to be had, although I’m never sure if I would have had more fun spending the same money on a real vacation somewhere else.

The show started out on Wednesday night with Preview Night, giving me a few hours on the convention floor to check out the layout, followed by dinner at the Bayfront Hilton beside the Convention Center. I had two friends staying there and they were very happy with the laidback quiet atmosphere. Meanwhile, I was staying at party central at the Hard Rock Hotel (which at night had crowds outside begging to get into the parties inside) and wouldn’t have traded it for the world.

Thursday I learned an important lesson. If you’re really interested in going to a panel, you need to get in line more than ten minutes before it starts. Thus I missed the “Burn Notice” panel, which I might have minded if star Jeffrey Donovan was scheduled to appear. Sadly, that meant I never got one of the cool “Burn Notice” bags people were walking around with.

But it did mean I got into the only panel that really mattered to me (and no, I’m not talking about “Twilight: New Moon”!). Friday morning, I rolled out of my sleeping bag at 7:30 and was in line for the final “Lost” panel of Comic-Con by 8:30. The time went by fast considering the panel was starting at 11:00 and it was worth every second of waiting. Producers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof went all out, spicing up the proceedings with plenty of specially made videos and live guest appearances. You can see it all at docartz.com, so check it out. Just as exciting was the afternoon panel for “Totally Lost,” hosted by Entertainment Weekly’s Jeff Jensen and Dan Snierson. I was sitting near the door and every time someone opened it, I couldn’t hear what was being said. I was getting a little peeved, when suddenly right beside me, I heard someone yell out, “What are you doing?” It was Carlton and Damon making a surprise appearance to kidnap co-producer Greg Nations before he could give up any secrets about the show. That was soon topped by acting genius Michael Emerson walking right by me to go up to the dais to answer questions for ten minutes. Sadly, they ran out of time before I got to ask a question. I also loved seeing the display of “Lost” props on the main convention floor. They had everything, and it will all be auctioned off next year.

Those were the only two panels I attended though. Still I found plenty to do, constantly scouring the DC and Marvel booths as well as Artist’s Alley for comic stars to sign my various books and draw some sketches. I especially appreciated Jill Thompson’s take on her signature character Scary Godmother, “Air” artist M.K. Perker’s detailed rendering of a demon and Ryan Kelly’s head sketch of a character from “The New York Four.” Final total: 13 free sketches and 67 new autographs. Sadly, I just didn’t think it was worth it to pay Adam West $ 40 to autograph my “Greatest Batman Stories” book after 46 people had already signed it for free…

Made it to EW’s TV columnist Michael Ausiello’s meet and greet party on Thursday night (he says he gets the most mail about “Grey’s Anatomy”), although I didn’t get into any other big parties or screenings, including a concert by Daughtry that I could see from the window on my floor when I was waiting for the elevator. Probably had the most fun just hanging out in the Hard Rock’s lobby at night, watching the girls go by as well as the stray star, including “Chuck”’s Adam Baldwin and “Buffy”’s Seth Green. Of course, the biggest star sighting was Marvel’s Stan Lee, whose co-creation of such icons as Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four put him far in front in importance of any appearances by Johnny Depp or Robert Pattinson in my mind.

I also spent some time at the outdoor carnival “Heroes” sponsored to promote their upcoming season, especially enjoying the free snow cones. Didn’t grab too many promotional items, although I was wowed by a copy of Detective Comics # 854 given to me and autographed by writer Greg Rucka. Beautiful artwork by JH Williams.

So another Comic-Con gone. Time to get reservations and tickets for next year!

10 TIPS FOR HAVING FUN AT COMIC-CON

July 13, 2009

I’m a big fan of comic books. I go to a comic book store every week to buy new books and I also keep up with the lastest doings in the comic book world by visiting websites like Comic Book Resources, Newsarama and The Beat.

There’s a weekly column on Comic Book Resources by longtime comics writer Steven Grant called Permanent Damage. In addition to his always interesting take on comics, politics, TV and whatever else strikes his fancy, Steven includes what he calls the Comics Cover Challenge. He illustrates the column with various comic book covers and you have to guess what secret theme they all have in common. Whoever sends in an e-mail first with the right answer wins and gets to plug the website of their choice in the column the following week.

This past week, I finally won the contest with a guess of the word “Bugs” and naturally I’m having Steven mention my blog. Keeping in mind that I’m (hopefully) getting some new readers from a comic book site, I thought I would write about a comic book topic.

Of course, this week everyone who cares anything about comics (as well as movies and TV) has their eye on next week’s 40th annual Comic-Con International in San Diego, so I thought I would come up with ten tips to keep in mind when attending the show. There are many more comprehensive guides online, but here are some suggestions that have served me well over the years:

1.  Try to attend Preview Night:

Attendees with four day passes get to go into the show for a few hours on Wednesday night. Two years ago, I skipped Preview Night and made my first entrance into the show that year on Thursday morning. I soon saw a sign advertising a signing by comics legend Stan Lee. I rushed to the booth where they were distributing the tickets, only to discover that they all been given out the night before at Preview Night (don’t feel too bad for me… I eventually did get a Stan Lee autograph).

Also, if you want to commission a sketch from a popular artist, it’s smart to get on his list as soon as possible before it fills up, so if you can talk to the artist on Preview Night, you’re ahead of the game.

2.  Try to go to Comic-Con on Thursday:

Thursday has always been the least crowded day, even now that the show is sold out for the entire four days. Therefore, if you want to get a sketch or an autograph, it’s easier to do on Thursday when the lines aren’t so long.

3.  Buy a hardbacked sketchbook if you want to get sketches:

When I first decided to buy a sketchbook to take to Comic-Con, I bought one with a softcover to save money. Unfortunately, after taking it to the show a year or two, the book got a little frayed around the edges. You’re much better off with a hardback one. My other tip when it comes to sketching is even if artists are charging for sketches at their tables in Artist’s Alley, if they’re scheduled to appear at a publisher’s booth like DC or Marvel’s, they’ll usually do a sketch at that time for free. I especially like DC’s setup as they’ll have multiple artists sketching at once, with different lines for each.

4.  Make sure you check the daily printed newsletter that Comic-Con puts out:

If there are schedule changes or if someone is added to a panel or will be signing autographs at a certain time, the information will be there.

5.  Check out Kansas City Barbeque, my favorite place to have lunch at the Con:

It’s only a block or two from the Convention Center at 600 W. Harbor Drive and has great, reasonably priced food, yet it’s never that crowded come lunchtime. I usually eat there two or three times during every Comic-Con and I’ve never had to wait for a table.

6.  If you want a soda or something to eat late at night, there’s no reason to pay steep hotel prices:

Just stop in at the Ralph’s Supermarket at 101 G. Street. It’s open 24 hours and is just a few blocks away from the Convention Center.

7.  Go over the convention schedule (it’s already up at the Comic-Con International website) and if there’s anyone appearing that you like, make sure you bring something for them to sign:

In past years, I’ve brought a second suitcase filled with comics to be autographed. You’ll find it’s easy to find the comic artists and writers, who will usually put in hours at their publishers or at their tables in Artist’s Alley. Then there are many actors who are scheduled to be in the autograph area who sell photos, but others who come up for an hour signing after appearing on a panel may not. Imagine my horror while I watched a panel about the great TV show “Veronica Mars” a few years back and realized the cast would be doing an autograph session afterward and I didn’t have a DVD of the show to get signed (again, don’t cry for me, as I eventually got Kristin Bell to sign Season 1 DVD at the “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” junket). It pays to be prepared.

I also have a number of hardbound books that I have been bringing to the Con for years, like “The Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told” that I get everyone who has worked with the Batman universe to sign. I’m currently up to 45 autographs. The first person to sign it was Batman creator Bob Kane. The  most recent was Christian Bale. Obviously it is one of my most treasured belongings and I’m not done filling it up yet (I’m talking about you, Frank Miller!). I also have histories of both DC and Marvel Comics I’ve gotten signed, plus a book each for TV and movie stars. Remember to keep a Sharpie with you too!

8.  At night, various movie companies take over the movie theaters in the Gaslamp District for screenings of upcoming sci-fi and action films:

In recent years, I’ve seen such movies as “Sky Captain And The World Of Tomorrow” and “Shoot ‘Em Up,” so keep your eyes open as you walk by the movie studios’ booths for screening info and ticket giveaways.

9.  If you’re just driving down for one day at the Con, I suggest you park at the large lots behind Petco Park, the Padres’ baseball stadium:

It’s cheaper than the other parking lots near the Convention Center and a lot larger to boot. Unfortunately, you can’t leave your car there overnight.

10.  Have a great time!

ANGEL BABY

January 15, 2008

Spent Sunday at the Los Angeles Comic Book & Science Fiction Convention selling at the Astounding Comics table (well, actually four tables). The next table down from ours was the guest table, featuring the current artist for DC Comics’ “Supergirl,” Drew Johnson, as well as Brian Lynch, the writer of “Angel: After the Fall,” IDW’s  comic book sequel to Joss Whedon’s TV series, “Angel.”

With my excellent vantage point, I was able to go over and talk to Brian a few times when the line to say hello to him was short. The first time I got a poster signed for some friends of mine. Later I thought of a question I had wondered about after reading the first issue, so I asked him, “Why didn’t any of the characters die in the epic battle that ended the TV show?” Brian had a logical answer: If they were going to kill anyone, why not do it within the comic and get to use those emotional moments?  I then added that I thought the comic really improved from issue one to issue two. He agreed and said that he thought issue three was even better.  In fact, he said Angel dies in issue three! He then assured me he was kidding and that he didn’t want to see that Angel was going to die all over the internet! He did admit though that there might be some pretty important deaths ahead.

I then asked if there would be a big bad in the series. He said for now it was Gunn, but there might be some other villains coming up too.

Tomorrow, I’ll leave Angel’s L.A. behind for a trip to the Buffyverse, or so I’ll be pretending when I interview Sarah Michelle Gellar for her new film, “The Air I Breathe”…