Sunday, August 31, 2008

Yes Virginia, lightning does strike twice

So, back in the ‘80s I was something of a letterhack. I wrote a bunch of letters to numerous publications (both in, and outside of comics). Lately, not so much though. That recently changed when I had a letter published in Amazing Spider-Girl #20 (I mentioned that here).

Well, recently I had not one, but two (yes two) more letters published in Amazing Spider-Man #569 Well, the really cool part of this letter is that it nets me a personal reply from Spidey-Editor, Stephen Wacker.

Well, the up-shod of the whole event is that apparently I now have not only have to bring Wacker his coffee, but I apparently owe him lunch as well.

Ain’t life grand?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Today is Belkis day

A couple of days ago I mentioned the Novastar Studios calendar that I worked on for my good buddy James Rodriguez. As I mentioned at the time, the fantasy art calendar stars the very lovely Belkis. Well, Tommy (with his jaw on the floor, and his tongue dragging behind him) asked if Belkis was a real person. I replied that, yes she is, and I (much to my delight) have met her (and — unbelievable as it might sound — she actually talks to me).

Well, just to prove the first part of that statement, I am going to provide you all with some photographic evidence of the divine vision that is the always beautiful, Belkis.

I took these pictures of Belkis at the NY Comiccon this past year as she and James began their marketing push for the calendar and well, as you can see, they really didn’t have any trouble selling the calendars. (Hey, now that you’ve seen the actual Belkis, can you resist buying one?) So, once again I strongly urge you to contact James and purchase one for yourself. The calendar cost a mere $20.00 (which includes Shipping and Handling). So head over to James’ site and get a better look at the imagery on the calendar.

Oh yeah, just in case you need more Melkis images to convince you, keep scrolling, efendi!

Not sure, but I think she put this dress on backwards...

Friday, August 22, 2008

Hail Hail the Gang’s all here!

If you have been following me for the past couple of days, you’ll know that I have managed to acquire an entire set of McDonald’s Mini Star Wars Bobble-head figures. These toys are tied into the new Star Wars: The Clone Wars film. I haven’t seen the film as of yet (it is on my list).

For those of you who also haven¦t seen the film, here is something of a little preview.

Clone Wars, Take I

Clone Wars, Take II

Clone Wars, Take III

Wicket to the rescue!

Woo-Haa! I went back to the McD’s that I stopped at yesterday, and (very politely) asked the manager if he could find me Wicket, as I had apparently mis-counted my figures. Turns out that he was nice enough to dig through the ENTIRE box of figures to find me the last little guy.

I was so excited that I purchased a large fires as well.

So now I have a complete set of Star Wars Mini bobble-head characters. I’m so happy that I could become one with the Force!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

May the Force be with us all!

Yesterday I told you all about the new Star Wars miniature bobble-heads that are available from McDonald’s via its new cross-promotion with the new Star Wars animated film (which I hope to see this weekend).

Well, until that happens, I can show you what the toys look like I’m going to post images of all 18 McDonald’s Mini Bobble Heads, along with the number they are in the McD set:

Anakin Skywalker (1)

Darth Vader (2)

Wicket (3)

Darn, it looks like I somehow mis-counted. I'm going to have to go back out and get this guy later.

Have no fear, I found a Wicket, and he is now with the rest of the fleet!)

C3PO (4)

Padme Amidala (5)

Stormtrooper (6)

Yoda (7)

R2D2 (8)

Han Solo (9)

Chewbacca (10)

Luke Skywalker (11)

Princess Leia (12)

Asajj Asajjentress (13)

Bobba Fett (14)

Ahsoka (15)

General Grievous (16)

Obi-Wan Kenobi (17)

Captain Rex (18)

That's it for today. More on this tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A Long Time Ago...

You heard me kiddies, Star Wars is back in the Theaters, and this time with an actual story (if we are to believe what we are told). That’s right, this time it is all about the clones. Star Wars: The Clone Wars (an animated tale that takes place between episodes two and three) kicks off this week, and (the part that we like the best) it comes complete with a set of McDonald’s Happy Meal toys.

As soon as I finish making this post I’m going to run around the corner (yes, there really is a Micky D’s around the corner from my house) and I’m-a gonna get as many of the bobble headed little monsters that I can score (and it looks like there are 18 of the little buggers!).

* *UPDATE! * * UPDATE! * *

OK, I told you that I’d be back with a toy. Unfortunately, the nearest McD only had one toy (Padme Amidala). Well, fortunately, that isn’t the only McDonald’s in the area, so I will probably head out to check in on the others later on today.Be back in a bit!

* *UPDATE #2! * * UPDATE #2! * *

Just thought that you all should know that when I went out a second time to track down more Star Wars Bobble-heads, the second McDonald’s I hit had ALL of them, and sold me one of each of the ones I was missing.


Monday, August 18, 2008

2009 in Belkis

When talking about Next year, I like to start with the fact that I was able to assist in assembling a very cool calendar of fantasy art. Yep, I’m no artist (even though I do play one on TV), but I did help handle the editorial chores on one that is out now, and should be on display all of next year.

Earlier this year I had the unique pleasure to work with Fellow CAGer James Rodriguez. James, in addition to his stellar work on Quantum: Rock of ages with Philip Clark, James has begun publishing his own comic The Chronicles Of Sara. Still, as much as I want to to talk about those comics (and, trust me, I will), I’m more interested, right now, in discussing the NovaStar Studios Fantasy Illustrated Calendar, featuring Belkis. (Wow, that’s a mouthful!)

James, gathered together a bunch of other top-flight NY illustrators to produce a dynamite calendar for 2009. Each artist got to illustrate the always-lovely Belkis. As for my part, I not only wrote the bios for the various illustrators, but I provided James with moral support and a bit of production help early on in the process.

I was grateful to James for allowing me to assist him in this wonderful endeavor. So I want to take this opportunity to let you know that if you are in the market for a 2009 calendar (and right about now, who isn’t?) I strongly suggest that you contact James and purchase one for yourself. The calendar cost a mere $20.00 (which includes Shipping and Handling). So head over to James’ site and get a better look at the imagery on the calendar.

Friday, August 15, 2008

It’s all about the art

This past Saturday I spent the day in The Big Apple. CAG (The Comicbook Artist Guild) — of which I am a member — held our annual NYC picnic get-together. This year the picnic was held in Morningside Park, and wonderfully arranged by our NY coordinator, Chris Buchner. We had members show up from not only NY, but CT, and our RI branches.

From there, I traveled with Chris Torres (who panted Springload & Renegade for me, which appeared in CAG #7) to a nearby pub to meet a friend of his for a couple of drinks. We were later joined by a couple more of Chris' friends, and then we traveled to an art party that was being held by some other friends at their studio in Astoria, Queens.

I wound up staying at the Art Party ‘til nearly Midnight, leaving only because I had to catch a 1:15 A.M. train back to CT. While I was at the party, one of the “events” there was a life model drawing party (with a couple of willing, and beautiful gals who posed for the artists). After the models were done with their posing sessions, many of the artists continued to sketch. One of these many talented artists was James Rodriguez, with whom I collaborated on a 2009 calendar project (More on that later, see below for the cover).

James did a wonderful sketch of Spider-Man which he handed to me (knowing my love of Spidey). I hung onto the sketch throughout the evening, but I did (unfortunately) spill some of my beer on it, causing it to run slightly (Sorry James — fortunately, I managed to photoshop the stain out for the post). Still. It is a wonderful sketch, and I have it hanging in my office, as well as posted at the top of this blog.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Ditko Rules!

Steve Ditko is one of the main reasons that I still read comics. He co-created Spider-Man and set the tone for the first four years. In addition to his work on Spidey, he also created Dr. Strange, The Creeper, Hawk and Dove, The Question, Mr. A. and many other superheroes (and villains). I have always been a big fan of Steve’s; in fact, my first published article was an examination of his work.

Well, recently, my good friend and close colleague, Mark Mazz gifted me with the very cool graphic album, Steve Ditko’s The Thing!, and I couldn’t be happier. This extraordinary book serves up 27 short horror stories as penned by Steve. This stuff is simply classic Steve. Sure, sure some of it can possibly read as trite in the cold hard light of today’s sensibilities, but that assessment is simply unfair, especially when you consider that if this stuff seems hackneyed and tired, it is because Steve did it first and did it better!

That’s right folks, if any of this stuff looks familiar to you, it is because someone else saw it first, and replicated something like it later on either in another comic or on some TV show you probably saw. Speaking as someone who has gone on record as not being a big fan of horror (even though I regularly partake in the genre, and am a regular contributor to a couple of Horror publications), This stuff is outstanding. In just a few pages, Ditko is able to create mood, suspense, a fully-realized story, and some shocking turns — not to mention numerous characters about whom we can care, in order to make the stories work.

His stark, B&W artwork shines, for this is Ditko at his unparalleled best. If all you know of Steve is his superhero work, I recommend that you seek this book out and pick up a copy (unfortunately it may be difficult, as I believe that it is currently out of print). Still, that shouldn’t stop you from looking for it (or, failing to find it, you should look for some of the other Ditko collections that are available.

Steve is one of the true masters of this industry, and (thankfully) he is still with us. Sure he gave us Spidey, but that contribution is merely the tip of Steve’s creative influence.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Spidey, Spidey, Spidey Everywhere!

So, this past week I picked up my comics (as usual), and I was surprised by the presence of not one, but two over-sized Spider-Man anthologies. King Size Spider-Man Summer Special and (Brand New Day) Amazing Spider-Man Family #1. Both of these comics give us several new Spidey stories (that take place both within and outside of continuity) as well as a reprint of an older Spidey comic.

First up is King Size Summer Special; which delivers a couple of cartoony Spidey episodes Un-Enchanted Evening and Take a Seat (both by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover). The first one deals with Mary Jane Watson-Parker (yes, they are married in this story) where MJ, & Millie the Model (along with Patsy (Hellcat) Walker, Marvel Girl, She Hulk, Clea, and the Scarlet Witch) are all drawn into a throw-down with the Enchantress and Thor. The second one is a two-pager that has Spidey going up against MODOK. The next story is a continuity implant that has Spidey hooking up for (apparently the first time) with The Falcon. Finally there is a Chris Giarrusso Mini Marvel story (reprinted from Giant Size Mini Marvels #1.

The Tobin/Coover stories are very entertaining (especially the first one) and I really don’t care if they are considered as part of continuity or not, as they are so clever. The Falcon team-up is also quite good and (I assume) occurs in-continuity (even though it seems to contradict Captain America #’s 137 & 138). Again, the story here seems saturated with old-time Marvel spirit, that I’m willing to overlook any possible discrepancies. Finally we are presented with Giarrusso’s Mini-Marvel tale, which is always a welcome event, especially when presented in long-form as it is done here. I personally think that Giarrusso is under-used, and would look forward to regular appearances of his work in stand-alone form as Marvel currently does with the on-going series of Franklin Richard one-shots).

Spider-Man Family, which started as a series of one-shot, was re-launched as an on-going title, has now been re-imagined in a post Brand New Day world. This title delivers an Untold Tale form our hero’s past, a prelude look into the upcoming Marvel Apes title, Mr. & Mrs. Spider-Man (Peter & MJ in the M2 Universe while May is an infant); a story about Aunt May working at the F.E.A.S.T. Soup Kitchen, and a reprint from Amazing Spider-Man # 300 (the first Venom story).

The untold tale relates the first 48 hours after the death of Ben Parker; The Marvel Ape story has Spidey re-enacting that classic sequence from ASM #32, Mr. & Mrs. Spider-Man has Pete and MJ helping out the Connors; while the Aunt May story gives a glimpse into a day-in-the-life of May while working the soup kitchen.

Here again, the untold tale reads quite well, and — given how throughly this area has recently been mined (in With Great Power) and elsewhere, it comes off exceptionally well. The Ape story is goofy but fun, so I’ll let it slide (for now). The Mr. & Mrs. tale is told by Tom Defalco & Ron Frenz, so it reads like a cross between their classic Spider-Man stories and their Spider-Girl stuff, so that it is most excellent is a given. Seeing Aunt May walk alone is always fun, and I hope to see more of these type stories as this series progresses. Then there’s the Venom reprint which serves as a great jumping on point for the new Venom Dark Origin series.

If you are a Spider-Fan looking for some fun episodes, an old-time who has fallen away, or someone who just wants to see what all the fun is about, check out these two very fine issues.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Happy Birthday to yous

I just received word that a couple of my buddies from SpiderFan had birthdays recently (and in spite of the fact that I have socks older than either of these mopes) I figured that I would wish them a good day.

Given that they are Spider-Guys, I thought that I would provide them both with — what else — a Spider-Cake, and Spider-cupcakes. So Patrick, and Tommy, Happy (Brand New) Spider-Day, guys!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Islamic Superheroes

Don’t go off the deep end with this headline, folks, This isn’t some sort of jihad against the US or even US superheroes, but rather a truly internationally-driven legitimate enterprise. If you haven’t heard of it as of yet, perhaps you should. The Teshkeel Media Group, headed up by a Kuwaiti-born businessman named, Naif Al-Mutawa brings a Western sensibility to the house of Superheroes, (or perhaps, brings Islamic values to the nature of the superhero community.

According to Mutawa (and as far as I can see) there are no religious overtones to the comic, Think of it as a secular comic written with the values of a respectful religious authority. (Like I said, no militant, fundamental jihads here.) Mutawa told me that he is staying away from a strict religious interpretation of Islamic law as that is not his intent here. He wants to tell “standard” superhero stories, but infuse them with Muslim culture. From where I sit, he is doing quite well.

The book reads like a Mideast X-Men — which doesn’t come as a surprise as it is written by Marvel Alum and former X-Men Scribe Fabian Nicieza. Another Marvel staffer Sven Larsen is also on the Teshkeel staff.

The comics are quite good and, well, they are garnering some good press (and I don’t mean in the fan press, but in the real press, like Time, and Newsweek. So if you happen to come across The 99 in your comic Shop, I strongly suggest that you give it a read. You’ll be glad that you did.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

The Marvel Bucks are rolling in!

That’s right, kids, Marvel Comics is starting to look healthier these days with a reported 60% increase in second Quarter net income (which apparently doesn’t even include revenues to the two Marvel films that kick-started the Summer Blockbuster season).

According to The Wall Street Journal, Marvel Entertainment is rolling in the green...

The New York entertainment company reported net income of $46.7 million, or 59 cents a share, up from $29.1 million, or 34 cents a share, a year earlier. Revenue rose 55% to $156.9 million. The mean estimates of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters were for earnings of 45 cents on revenue of $131 million.

Marvel said the latest figures don't include box-office results from "Iron Man" and "The Incredible Hulk," but that media and consumer interest in the films drove strong results in the licensing division. The unit, an increasing area of focus for the company, saw earnings surge 54% as sales increased 45%.

I see this as a very good sign. First the comicbook industry is healthy, and two we know that the movies did well, so that means more movies. Personally I’m pleased by both

Friday, August 01, 2008

Year of the Bat

So I’ve just read that it is entirely possible that The Dark Knight just might wind up surpassing Titanic as the top-most grossing film of all time.

You read that right. After 10 years at the top spot, it looks like there just might be a film that will (finally) take over the top slot, and that film is none other than The Dark Knight.

How cool is that?

Los Angeles (E! Online) - Ten years after sailing off with $600.8 million, Titanic remains the top-grossing movie of all-time, a title which, up until The Dark Knight onslaught, hasn't been seriously challenged.