Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Irish Comics

So I met a couple of comicbook fans on Facebook. Turns out they’re from Ireland (Stephen Paul Coffey & Ger Hankey), and he self-produced a couple of comics. One was entitled Celtic Knights, and when I acquired that comic from them, the sent along another comic the produced together entitled Rosemary Herbb: The Return.

Well, I bought Celtic Knights figuring that I’d check out what an Irish Indie comic was like, and was treated to an entertaining superhero romp. Celtic Knights is an Irish superhero team comic written by Stephen Paul Coffey and drawn by Ger Hankey that explores the concept that all of the best heroes in the world were killed off and those that are left are all but useless. Sort of the Society of Inept Gentlemen.

The under-sized comic is entertaining enough (the art seems amateurish, but is serviceable enough, and the story carries it through).

What really surprised me was Rosemary Herb a fantasy comic written by Stephen Paul Coffey, illustrated in painted color by Barry McGowan and published in November 2008. Rosemary Herbb, a young girl with elemental powers who defends the earth from supernatural menaces. The Return sees her wake from a seven year coma and return to the battle against evil.

The writing is positively lyrical, while the art is nothing short of absolutely stunning. I was completely blown away by the soft mixture of B&W charcoal & duo-tone renderings and color wash. I highly recommend this comic, and hope that there is a follow-up issue, as I would love to see where it goes.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


By now, many of you may have already heard this bit of info, but it is entirely possible that you might not have, simply because the characters involved were old before you were born, and have long languished in funnybook limbo.

OK, I’m exaggerating just a little bit, but truth to tell, they have long been out of the public eye. I’m talking — of course — about the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents.

It was announced at Comic-Con International: San Diego that the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents will (finally) be returning to the public eye.

According to a pair of announcements (and personal contact with the executor of John Carbonaro’s will), I can reveal this much: John’s heirs have We have partnered with Michael Uslan to further exploit T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents through all channels worldwide. They have also licensed DC to take the Agents to the next level (that is to say, publish comics about the Agents). Furthermore, the Agents will be integrated into the DC Universe.

No sale to anyone has been made - John’s heirs have retain all rights (and the control) of the characters.

What this means, is really anyone’s guess, but we can only see it as a good thing. The Agents are — and have always been — a viable concept. I, for one, that is a good thing. I don’t know what plans DC (or Uslan) has for the Agents, but I look forward to seeing them again back in print.

I can only hope that John and Wally are smiling.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Goggle SDCC logo part duce

Go to Google today and you will find this...

Love that Google!

Today is SDCC!

Yep, the whole (funnybook) world converges San Diego for Comic-Con International. To help celebrate this Google has adjusted their masthead to reflect that all the world is a funnybook:

How do I know that the whole world loves comics? Nothing less than the esteemed Wall Street Journal has told me so.

it is because Comic-book films have been among the most bankable properties in Hollywood in recent years (surprise!). This year we had Wolverine and Watchmen. Next up for superheroes is, of course, Iron Man 2 which is due to hit theaters early next year.

With the Convention now in its 40th year, the Comic-Con convention has grown from a small gathering of just a few sci-fi fans to a mandatory stop for film and videogame producers, whose industries are increasingly marketing superhero characters and their stories.

But all the well-known characters are already locked up by big studios. DC Comics, which has the rights to Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman, among others, contracts with Warner Brothers. Marvel Comics, which has Iron Man, Wolverine, Spider-Man and the Hulk in its ranks, is signed with various major studios, including Paramount Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox Film and Universal Studios."

(read the full article here)

To those film producers who are looking for a killer comic-to-film-concept, let me direct your attention to my girls...

I’ll be here (not in San Diego) all week. For all of the rest of you who will be in San Diego, you might need this.

Hey! Kids! I’ve been Published!

Just so you all know, I do (occasionally) read comics that are not published by Marvel. That is to say, that while I (almost always) write about Marvel and, (more specifically) about Spidey, I do (occasionally) read other comics.

One of those that I always make a point to pick up is Nexus. I’ve been reading this title for well over a decade, beginning with its debut in Capital City Comics in 1983. Well, in January 2008, longtime penciler Steve Rude took over as publisher and issued Nexus #100. Last week, issue 101/102 (a double-sized issue) hit the stands.

I read the issue, and (as always) enjoyed it immensely. Then I got to the letters pages (remember them?) and skimmed through the letters, that is until I got to this one...

Yeah, look close at the guy who penned that fabulous missive.

Personally, I had written it so long ago that I completely forgotten that I had written it. Ain’t life grand?

Letter from my daughter

My 14-year-old daughter has been away at camp for the past month, and will return home on Sunday. Today I received her latest letter:

Still, the funniest part of the letter is what she wrote:

Cute kid, eh?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Spidey & Friends are coming! (again)

Last year I got to meet Spidey and his friends at the Norwalk Oyster Festival’s Oyster Festival. and it looks like I’m going to get that opportunity again. I know this as I just got the poster for this year’s event from my buddy, and I know that I’ll get back-stage passes again.

Last year was very fun, so I know that so will this year.

Oh, yeah, I also wanted to share with you that the other day, my wife called me from the road and told me that as she was driving by the local car wash, and that Spidey was out front, waving to folks (this particular car wash does stuff like that occasionally). So being exactly the kind of Spider-geek she knew me to be, I drove by the place myself and snaped a few pics of him:

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Cool Rusty Haller Tchachkas

So, one of the very cool things that came out of Sunday’s event to raise money for Rusty, was that I discovered a 100-piece Ace & Queenie jigsaw puzzle. Ace & Queenie is the very entertaining comic that Rusty has been producing for years (for Furlough Comics, and now, the web). Well, according to Rusty, several years ago, a pal of Rusty’s produced a number of these Jigsaw puzzles for him, and (according to Rusty) and gave them to Rusty after Rusty did some work for the guy.

For quite a time Rusty would bring them with him to conventions (especially ConnectiCon, where Rusty was something of a fixture for years), and they sold quite well. If you are interested in picking up a pack, then you should head over to Free Lunch Comics, I know that they still had several of them left over.

Tell them I sent you.

Pledging for Rusty

This past Sunday Free Lunch Comics held a benefit for our mutual friend Rusty Haller. Rusty is an extraordinarily talented CT cartoonist who has fallen on some hard times (his mom with whom he lived, passed away, his health began deteriorating, and he was forced to move out of his apartment). Well, a bunch of us got together at the Free Lunch studios in Granby CT, and held a benefit auction to raise money to help Rusty.

About 50 people showed up at the auction and we managed to raise some $1,300.00 for Rusty. Another $800.00 was raise by Bryanna Bunny, who set up a donation fund to aid Rusty. (you can still go to the Bryanna Bunny site and donate funds if you wish to contribute to the cause).

Steve Kanaras from Free Lunch has gone on to indicate that the possibility of setting up an ebay auction site to help raise money for Rusty (I hear talk of a Chris Torres painting as being one item, as well as some comics and other items — I’ll keep you posted in this regard).

Anyway, I’m glad to say that — for the moment at least — Rusty has found lodging with a friend in Ohio,and we all wish him well. He is also back at work, drawing, addressing his health issues, and believing that he will come out of this adversity better and stronger.

Our hope and prayers are with him.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Black Friday

So, I just got my Green Lantern “Black Lantern” ring (Yeah, yeah, I went over to the dark sided in more way than one. Not only did I buy the first Dark Lantern story but I’m now blogging about it — you’ll have to forgive me, my comics guy is going to be at SDCC next week, so I’m going to have to go without my weekly fix for a week and next week Amazing Spider-Man #600 will be out!).

I haven’t read the actual comic yet (as I said, I’m storing up for next week), but I did read the Free Comic Book Day giveaway, and I’ve been wearing the very cool ring. (Unavoidable aside, the world of Green Lantern is apparently more like a Dr. Suess book these days what with all the colors of Lantern Corps there are out there.)

Still I have only now just learned that I apparently can’t get the fool-thing to work unless I’m dead.

So I have to ask, since my comicbook career is (apparently) dead, shouldn’t that count?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

More Spidey Toys

So the wife and I were at this outlet store called The Christmas Tree Shop (never could figure out why it was called that, because it doesn’t sell Christmas trees, but that could just be me). To be sure it is sort of an “Odd Lot” store and sells all sorts of remainder items for next to nothing. The wife really likes the place because it sells all sorts of stuff really cheap, and I really like the place because it sells comicbook stuff (read: Marvel/Spidey) stuff really cheap.

So we were there the other day, and I found a tube of Face Off Spidey figures (there was another with Iron Man or X-Men characters (or both, I don’t recall), but I didn’t pick it up). As I understand it, Face Off is some sort of Marvel game where the characters go up against other characters. Personally, I don’t care about the game, but the figures were kind of cool, and seemed cheap enough, so I grabbed them and snuck them into the carriage.

I also saw a Spider-man lawn sprinkler, but that was 10 bucks, and (I felt) too expensive for something that I was never going to use. I figured that I’d wait a month or so to see if it was still there and went down in price after the Summer. I figure that if it hit $5.00 I’d grab one for my collection.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The house where Superman lived...

Yes, I’m more Spider-Man than Superman, but I wanted to share this one with you all. I found it today and, well, this is truly where we all started.

The story of Superman started on June 2, 1932, when Michel Siegel was robbed in his second-hand clothing store not far from his home. He died later that night of a heart attack.

The youngest of his six children, a gangly, 16-year-old comic-book fan and budding artist named Jerry, began to fantasize about how his father might have been saved, said Bradley Ricca, who teaches a Superman course at Case Western Reserve University.

The next year, in a cramped bedroom, the young Mr. Siegel imagined a bulletproof "Man of Steel" whose superpowers were cloaked under the mild-mannered guise of a bumbling alter-ego. According to lore, Mr. Siegel sprinted nine and a half blocks to the apartment of his friend, Joe Shuster, to describe his vision. Mr. Shuster began to draw the first renditions of the square-jawed hero.

In 1938 the first Superman comic strip was published. It sold out immediately.

For more on this story read it in the Wall St. Journal.

A weekly Spidey Fix!

No, I’m not talking about the three-times-a-month Amazing Spider-Man comic that has been coming out for the past year or so, I’m talking about the fact that Spidey now appears weekly in Comic Shop News.

That’s right, beginning (I think) with issue #1150, CSN is starting to reprint the syndicated Spidey strip by Stan Lee and (his brother) Larry Leiber. My local paper doesn’t carry the series, and, well, as much of a Spidey fan that I am I‘m simply not going to pick up another newspaper that I’m not going to read, simply to read these stories.

I believe that many of them were reprinted somewhere, and either I purchased this reprint volume, or will purchase it when (if) it becomes available.

In the meantime, I’ll settle for picking up CSN each week at my local comicbook shop. At least these strips are all in color, and you know, free.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Transformers the (giveaway) Comic

Say what you want about Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (and I’m planning on saying plenty when I post my film review), but they did something I consider to be very cool, and wonder why more films that have inspired comicbooks (and have been inspired by comicbooks) haven’t done, and that is to provide a copy of the comic in the theater for kids (even big kids like me), to read, enjoy, and then (hopefully) seek out and purchase in comicbook shops.

Now I realize that we all have long since realized that comicbooks are merely portable storyboards for potential films that are sold to people in the anticipation that these storyboard pamphlets will translate into a buzz of sorts that will then hook in an audience so that when the next big-budget blockbuster based on those storyboard pamphlets is released, you can then charge that same audience triple the price of the storyboard pamphlets to see an abridged version of what they already read in the first place, and then leverage that film into convincing those self-same folks into believing that they simply can’t live without t-shirts, toys, games, and Happy Meals again based around the characters in that film.

(Not too cynical, am I?)

Seriously though, with so many films these days dancing around comicbooks (again either inspired by or adapted into) You have to wonder why more comicbook companies simply don’t issue more film-related comics. Now I realize that back in the ‘80s & ‘90s Marvel, DC, and others did issue comicbook adaptations of films, but to my mind, those simply never worked, as they tended to be written well before the release of the film, and simply hit the big points of the film effectively capturing random static moments in the film and sucking all live and enjoyment out of the film-going experience itself.

No, what I am talking about is having a standard-sized comic that can be given away to the folks in line at the film that will work both as a cool collectible/giveaway and as a way to leverage that captured audience into going into a comicbook shop to buy more comics, and yes toys, t-shirts, and Happy Meals.

While the IDW/KMart comicbook that adapts the first 20 minutes or so of Transformers,, is kind of cool (even though it suffers from the exact same problem of the old Marvel/DC film adaptations that I spoke of earlier), is a very cool thing, and I’ll tell you why:

First, it was co-sponsored by KMart and second, it didn’t give a complete story, and as IDW is producing an on-going Transformers series, perhaps it will inspire some folks into heading into a comic shop to find the continuing adventures (As an aside, according to IDW, fan enthusiasm has caused the company’s movie prequel Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen - Defiance is on the New York Times Best Sellers list for the second time.

I actually found the comic by accident, as the theater where I saw the film didn’t have the comic, but another theater did. Like I say, I really wish that more comicbook companies would do this, as it would (hopefully) help funnel people back into comic shops, and thus benefit the shops that purchase and resellthe comics to the film’s audience in the first place.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Busted Superheroes

Now I know that (in the Marvel Universe) The Superpower Registration Act (SRA) requires folks with superpowers to register with the Federal Government, and those that don’t (like my buddy Spider-Man), are summarily hunted down and arrested. But in the gleaming DC Universe, no such grittiness has yet occurred, so you can imagine my surprise when I learned that Superman and Batman had been arrested today.

Only they weren't arrested in the DC-verse, but here on Earth Prime. In NYC even. Right in Times Square!

Don’t believe me? Check it out (from the NY Post).

Superman and Batman took on New York's Finest last night in an epic Crossroads of the World battle that left the Caped Crusader in cuffs.

Stunned Times Square tourists and office workers watched agog as cops struggled to subdue Clark Kent's alter ego without kryptonite.

"The Man of Steel didn't go down with just two officers, it took seven officers!" witness Ryan McCormick said. "He was putting up a good fight. Little kids were like, 'Mommy, it's Superman!'"

WHat is the world coming to I ask?

Iconic in the news

Hey there folks, Iconic just got a very nice write-up in The Sun Chronicle.

Yep, that’s right, I got Mike Gelbwasser, a reporter/columnist for the Chronicle (who once interviewed me) to chat up Iconic editor, Liam Webb about the project (you’re welcome, Liam).

Also, thanks to Mike for enjoying comics, listening to us, doing the interview, and helping us get some press in the mainstream.

And that, folks, is the way it is done.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Belkis in July

Ah, it is finally July, and time to (re) spotlight my good buddy, James Rodriguez, who produced the NovaStar Studios Fantasy Art Calendar

As we’ve discussed, James was born and raised in New York, James attended both The High School of Art in Design and The School of Visual Arts. He freelanced for the next few years working in advertising, comics, theatre, television, and film. He was a co-producer of the comedy troupe Sal Soul at the famed Caroline’s Comedy Club. After meeting Keith Murphey he became a member of the Comic Book Artist Guild and wound up drawing the cover for their anthology (CAG#1). Soon after that he was asked to become the new penciler on Philip Clark’s Quantum Rock of Ages which has gone on to gain critical acclaim.

At present James has established his own illustration studio, Novastar Studios (the studio is named after one of the first comicbook characters he created in high school). Not only did James’ Novastar Studios produce both this calendar but he is producing an on-going comicbook series, The Chronicles of Sara.

On another front, James is also drawing a story of mine An Act of Attrition for an Atlas Unleashed comic anthology to be announced later. As we’ve mentioned. Belkis, the subject of the year in question, is a marketing professional who’s website is nothing short of brilliantly insightful.

Now leave me alone while I stare at the calendar.

It’s a Timing Thing.

Time, they say, is that thing that keeps everything all at once.

Today, shortly after 12:30 P.M. today, comes the moment that can be called 12:34:56 7/8/9. It happens only once a century, and even though it has nothing at all to do with comics I think that it is kind of a cool bit of information, so I wanted to share it with all of you.

Hey look! I’m on TV!

So, this is a little bit dated, but it just popped up on my radar, and I was so tickled by it that, well, I just had to post it.

Anyway, like I said, GWP is so last year, right now Mark and I are involved in Mark’s new venture, Atlas Unleashed. We are building a new publishing paradigm, and right now are gathering creators and material to publish.

There will be more info as we are ready to talk about it, but let me leave you with this: We brought Psychosis! over with us, and are preparing to launch a Sci-Fi mag, and a number of creator-owned titles, including my own Agent Unknown, and Wülf Girlz.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Who ya gonna call?

I saw this comic in a free local (weekly) paper that is distributed in my area. The strip Bassist Wanted is online, but this particular strip isn’t posted as of yet, but it was very funny,and my pal Chris Buchner is a huge Ghostbusters fan, so I figured that I’d post it for him.

On the Local Front

A month back, while at MoCCA, my good friend, collaborator, and client, Mark Mazz produced a limited edition “Script Book” for his Mark Twain story, Expressions of Bull-Frog Wisdom on the Lady Mississippi. The story was originally supposed to appear in the CAG-produced Graphic Album, Iconic, but due to creative differences (Mark wanted to be creative and the editor wanted something different), it was pulled. The good news is that the story will be re-released in a book entitled Literacy that is slated to come out from Atlas Unleashed.

My good buddy Chris Torres (who is drawing my own Springload & Renegade — also due out from Atlas Unleashed) illustrated it. Chris is a major talent, and seriously should be busier (and more well-known) than he already is. We sold the script book for a buck a pop, and it received some very nice comments.

The other very cool publication I recently acquired is the new issue of DitkoMania (#73) which is produced by Rob Imes. The issue is B&W and a buck-fifty. You can acquie your own copy by going to Rob's website and purchasing one yourself. This issue cover-features Dr. Strange, and is well worth the price.

You can also write directly to Rob at 13510 Cambridge #307, Southgate, MI 48195.

This is a must fro any serious Ditko fan.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Love & Rockets

So, when I first entered comics professionally (back in the Stone Age), I began working for a small local company called Fantagraphics. At that time they published The Comics Journal and Amazing Heroes. They were also getting into publishing some independent comics, one of them was Love and Rockets (later on an indie rock band appropriated the name for themselves).

Well, I began read L&R back then because well, two reasons really, they were free (because I worked there), and they were really different and somewhat subversive from what I normally read (Marvel’s DC and the like). It was like an underground Archie, with Hispanic characters, plus it was literally oozing with a sensuality that simply couldn't be found in mainstream funnybooks. Oh yeah, every once in a while it flashed some skin, but while that was what got me started reading them, what kept me was the intricate and powerful stories, as well as the truly intriguing art.

Yep, I loved these books.

Not entirely sure why, but somewhere along the way, I stopped reading them (long after I stopped getting them for free and had been spending my own money buying them). Well, this past Free Comic Book Day I managed to score the free L&R and read the new adventures, and was reminded of how much I truly enjoyed this series. So when I was up in Falmouth, MA at A Blast from the Past, I purchased a new graphic album of L&R adventures and was totally blown away as to how good it still is, and to how much I really missed reading about these characters.

If you have the opportunity to pick up any L&R comics, I highly recommend it, as it is still some of the consistently very best comics that is being produced.

Friday, July 03, 2009

The Avengers and the Military

Since 2005 Marvel has published seven specialty comics featuring the New Avengers (and co-stars) and the U.S. military in a series of comics that are distributed only to U.S. military bases. These comics are produced in conjunction with AAFES (Army & Air Force Exchange Service)these stories have ranged from excellent to passingly OK.

Well, I just acquired the most recent issue (#7) from ebay, and I’m here to say that this one is actually quite good. This issue features not only the New Avengers, but virtually every other Marvel Superhero as they all converge on the American South West to bring down the Hulk (who is on a rampage that harkens back to his Hulk-Buster Glory Days. As always, featured prominently in the comic is some branch of the Armed Forces.

The story here is that the military is testing some new OsCorp ordnance and accidentally target the Hulk, who becomes (understandably) irritated at this inturuption of his life. In an effort not to be killed, the military calls out to Tony Stark, who brings in the (superhero) Calvary who all rush to the scene and slow the Hulk long enough for a couple of Army sharpshooters to pepper Hulk with numerous rounds of (adamantimum tipped) tranks which knock him out, causing the Jade Giant to revert back to Bruce Banner.

While I enjoyed the comic (and the throw-back storyline) I really have to question the chronology of the events that happen within the story (this only because I’m now working on The Official Index to the Marvel Universe, and, well, these things are now starting to bother me). The events of the story seem to be set in current continuity (OsCorp not Stark) has a military contract, and Aries is apparently an Avenger, but Stark/Iron Man is a hero in good standing and the Thunderbolts are on the outs and the villains that populated Osborn’s “Dark” Avengers are nowhere to be seen.

Still, these are minor, and since I’m not one to make facts (or slavish adherence to continuity) get in the way of a good story, it really doesn’t matter so much to me, as I think that the story (standing on its own) reads quite well, and is a fun read.

The Official Index to the Marvel Universe

In case you haven’t figured out by now, I’m something of a Spider-Man geek. I began reading his adventures back in 1962 when his adventures were first published in Amazing Fantasy #15. I’ve been reading his adventures ever since, and today, I have a rather sizable collection of Spidey comics, toys, clothing, Chachkas, and other assorted Spidey-stuff.

During that time, I’ve written about Spidey in numerous venues. Lately, I’ve been writing about him for Marvel Comics itself, and seriously, nothing could be cooler than that. I’m one of the contributors to The Official Index to the Marvel Universe. Issue #7 has just hit the stands, and I just today acquired my copy of it.

Well, I tell you three times. Nothing can be cooler than this.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Benefit for Rusty Haller

I’ve talked a bit about my buddy, Rusty Haller, and now I want to point you all in the direction of a benefit that is being given to help raise money for Rusty’s Expenses.

you can learn more by following this link over to Mike Gelbwasser’s online column for The Sun Chronicle

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Machine-Delivered Heroes

So, you recall me telling you all of my growing collection of “gum machine” superheroes? Well here are a couple of pics I snapped last night while attending Year One and The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 (Yep, Dylan & I went to see both of them).

Here is the front of the machine (I know I keep calling it a “Gum” machine, but that is because I really don’t know what else to call it. Anyone out there know what these things are really called?)

Here is a close-up of the figures themselves inside the machine.

Here they are on my desk (I’m still missing the Human Torch):