Sunday, February 27, 2011

Walk like an Independent

If you are an independent comicbook creator, or support independent comics you want to hear this. an indie creator named David Branstetter (the creator of Straw Man), is putting together a plan with huge brass balls. No really, he is proposing to pull together an Indie magazine that is solly about Independent comics.

Yep, you read that right, a mag dedicated to Indie comics.

Imagine having a magazine that promotes comics in independent and small press that is specifically designed for the Indie & Small Press you, Now imagine it going out free to every major comic book store in the nation, complete with reviews promotional material and information about just small and Indie Press comics! Yes, it’s an ambitious project, but if he can raise the dough, all of us in the Indie & Small Press world win and win big. If he can’t, well, noting ventured nothing gain, and the best part is that he is using Kickstarter to bankroll the project so everyone can help.

I never met this guy, but he is already my hero, and he can be yours as well, so what are you still doing reading this? you should be clicking over to help fund this noble project. I have already pledged my support, now it is your turn to do so as well.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

It's take a superhero to lunch month (again)

No one has to tell the movie-viewing public that comicbooks make excellent fodder for big screen movies. To be sure, they are all but storyboarded out and (all but) ready to roll, which is probably why so many comics have made the jump in recent years. Needless to say, with all of these comicbooks making the jump to the silver screen, it is natural for films based on comics to seek out that comicbook audience and attempt to promo their big-budget film by hanging on all sorts of ancillary products to help get folks into their film.

Like so many comicbook movies being produced today, not only has The Green Hornet been released in 3D, but there are tie-ins galore surrounding the film’s release. Not the least of which is a fast food toy tie in. Like many of the other comicbook superhero movies that have preceded Green Hornet, the film’s producers correctly felt that — given the kid-friendly nature of the film itself — that a toy tie-in to a family friendly fast food chain would be in order.  For its first film since its 1940 debut, The Green Hornet chose to go with Hardee’s & Carl’s Jr. for their kid meal toy tie in.

Now before you start asking why would Hornet’s producers go with a second tier fast food chain or trying to point out that Iron Man went with Burger King, or that the X-Men went with McDonald’s, let us point out that the first set of Spider-Man movie fast food toy tie-ins appeared at Carl’s Jr. back in 2002. For fans of these types of tchachkas it doesn’t so much matter at what chain the toy originates, it only matters that it exists.

As with most first-time tie-ins the set of kid meal toys The Green Hornet went with only four toys (meal promotions tend to last four weeks, with a different toy offered up each week, more elaborate promotions have eight toys — one for boys and one for girls — that likewise would switch every week). For the Green Hornet, the four toys were a pair of PVC “action figures” (The Green Hornet and Kato) a wearable mask (for a small child only), and a pullback & go replica of the Black Beauty (Green Hornet’s powerful muscle car stocked with weapons). In addition to these four toys the twin chains also had for acquisition a metal Black Beauty key chain (smaller in size than the plastic kid meal toy).

As with most of these types of toys, as soon as they became available at their respective locations (almost before they were actually available, actually), there were on-line auctions for them at the various bidding sites. For serious collectors, this has become the way to make sure that the entire sets can be acquired. Sets of the five items mentioned started around $15.00 and tended to wind up selling for around $25-$30, plus postage and handling fees.

As far as fast-food, superhero toys go, the Hardee’s & Carl’s Jr.’s toys were pretty par for the course, and have proven to be quite collectible for fans of the Green Hornet-related items.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Dress like a superhero...

From what I’m told, last week fashion designer Jeremy Scott premiered his new fashion line, and, well and it is terrible even by superhero-geek standards. For some reason, he chose to  focus his new line on funnybook superheroes, but, only from the viewpoint of someone who apparently never looked at a comicbook in his entire life. Perhaps he should have asked some folks who did cos-player. If he has some as consultants for his line, perhaps the line could have been better executed.

Not really sure he achieved what he was attempting, plus, who would wear this crap?

Friday, February 18, 2011

In unrelated news, the Human Torch is still dead...

It has been reported that yesterday there was a fire @ St. Mark’s Comics in NYC:
Fire officials are investigating the cause of a blaze on St. Marks Place Thursday afternoon. The fire, at St. Mark’s Comics at 11 St. Marks Place, began shortly after 1:30 and it was declared under control about a half hour later. Officials said that one person sustained minor injuries in the fire but refused medical treatment.

Apparently the fire started in the basement of the five-story building that houses St. Mark‘s Comics

A witness said the FDNY had to knock through the wall of St. Marks Comics to reach the fire's source. There are no reported injuries. Let's hope all the Silver Surfers and Wonder Womans are safe, too!

Mitch Cutler, who has owned St. Mark’s Comics for 27 years, was still awaiting the arrival of his insurance adjuster to assess the damage to determine when he could open. Cutler stated that:

...water, smoke and sawdust could all damage comics. “Firemen were here with lots of water,” he said, adding that he planned to reopen the store later today.

Hopefully not too much of his product was damaged.

I'm so Thor...

Yeah, yeah we all know the joke, but watch the trailer anyway.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Bronx Heroes ComicCon

The Bronx Heroes began as a comic anthology about heroes in the Bronx, which then morphed into an art show called "Dream Sequence" at Longwood at Gallery, and then re-emerged as a comic book series and finally as a Comic Convention at Hostos College.The Bronx Heroes con is an event which brings together the Bronx community and exposes them to one of America's oldest art forms in commercial art. Bronx Residents get the opportunity to meet and greet with comic professionals who reside in the Bronx and other parts of the New York and Tri-state area. It's an event which is offered free to attend and where aspiring young artists and writers can discuss and listen to professionals in the comic book field and gain encouragement and make connections towards a career in the comic book art field.

Hosted by The BX Heroes Comic Con Collective.

Sponsors by the Bronx Council on the Arts & Bronx Museum of the Arts.

Date: Saturday, May 7, 2011

Hours: 11:00 - 7:00pm

Bronx Museum of the Arts [BMA] - BXH3CC in the Lower level. Panels in BMA classrooms. The Bronx Museum of the Arts is located at 1040 Grand Concourse at 165th Street, Bronx, New York.

D OR B TRAINS to the 167 STREET/GRANPublish PostD CONCOURSE STATION. Exit at rear of station; walk south along Grand Concourse two blocks.

PLEASE NOTE: D Train stops all times except rush hours peak direction (6:15 am - 9 am to Manhattan, 4 pm - 6:45 pm from Manhattan). Take B Train at 145 St. to 167th St. / Grand Concourse.

4 TRAIN to the 161 STREET/YANKEE STADIUM STATION. Walk east three blocks to the Grand Concourse, then, walk north four blocks along Grand Concourse to 165th St.

To exhibit contact:

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The triumphant return of Love and Capes

This week marks the long-awaited return to comic shops the appearance of Love and Capes, Tom Zahler’s unique superhero, romantic comedy, comicbook. Formerly self-published by Zahler’s own Maerkle Press logo, it hits the stands now not only under the IDW imprint but as a monthly limited series. Zahler himself describes the title as a “Heroically Super Situation Comedy” which is perhaps the most apt description of the title that anyone has ever used.

The book follows the ongoing romance and relationship of Mark Spencer (secretly the Crusader, protector of Deco City) and the love of his life, Abby Tennyson (who knows of his dual identity and owns an independent book store). They were recently married (in issue #13 of the original run), and now they are moving onto the next phase of their mutual lives — marital co-habitation. Zahler writes this stuff with such an incredible ease that his story is (save for the folks running around in tights and flying and all), totally believable.

His dialogue is smooth and sharp at the same time, displaying wit and tone that isn’t always present in comicbook writing (which tends towards bland, two-dimensional characters, hence the term “cartoon characters”). While it is true that everybody’s dialogue seems more urbane than folks your likely to meet in real life, that is perfectly fine and fits entirely with the going-ons of the storyline itself. The rest of the regular cast consists of Abby’s sister, Charlotte (who is currently going to school in Paris, France, and used to date millionaire Paul LaCrox); Paul (who is secretly Darkblade, the dark protector of Chronopolis, and Crusader’s best friend), and Amazonia (who used to date Crusader, and is now dating Darkblade). The three heroes (along with several others), belong to a superteam called the Liberty League.

Each issue is (generally speaking), self-contained , so it is not necessary to possess all of the previous issues so as to be up-to-date with what is going on in the comic (although, after reading a single issue, you will probably want to rush out to purchase the other issues, simply because the series is that good). In this kick-off IDW issue (subtitled Ever After) begin with Abby & Mark getting used to married life, and looking for a new (larger) apartment. Then, in the middle of their search, Abby’s landlord raises her rent (twice), forcing her to consider a new location for her bookstore as well.

Added onto the tension of the newlyweds, is an invitation by Darkblade and Amazonia to have a couples night at LaCrox’s enormous estate (when offered a tour of the mansion, Paul musses that he hopes the Segways are charged up). This particular issue is a tad light on the superheroics part of the Love and Capes equation, but that is hardly a complaint, as the story is — as always — a gem.

Hopefully, with his new association with IDW (and its access to a wider distribution network), Love and Capes will get more of the recognition and acclaim that it justifiably deserves. The story is delightful; the artwork is bright, stunning, and vibrant, just the way comicbooks should be to reach outside of traditional marketplaces and bring new reader into the field. One can only hope.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Carnage is the thing

 OK, so I'’m a Spidey fan, that much has already been established (yeah, no surprise, there, eh?) So obviously I’m not only going to be buying any comicbook with Spidey appearing in it, I’m going to be buying comics that have Spidey-related characters in them. Right?

So, a book entitled Carnage, in which Spidey appears is a given, eh?

Well, not so much. Unfortunately, the return of Carnage in his on limited series isn’t that much of a draw for me. I want to say that I’m enjoying the story, only I’m not. Not really. I mean, it is well enough written (by Zeb Wells), but the art by Clayton Crain just isn’t doing it for me.

The problem that I’m having with the art is that, well it is dark, muddy, and looks like it was inked in the dark, using only two or three colors, all of which were steeped in shadows.

No seriously, I  was trying to read this story, but the art is so dark and muddy that I was having the damndest time. I understand that Crain  was trying to go for mysterious and moody, but what he managed to achieve, was, well, mud. I totally understand that he was attempting to go for a mood thing, but it totally missed the mark,

The whole thing was simply printed too dark, and it not only reduced my overall enjoyment of the comic but it made the thing difficult to read and to even understand what was going on in the following issue.

I really wish that some consideration was given to what the end product was going to look like when artists start out on illustrating comics these days. So often it seems to me that comics (which I always have felt should be bright and colorful), wind up being dark and hard to read.

Still, someone must love this style of art, but I’m not one of them.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Neutron Girl

So, last October while I was at the NYComicon One of the tables I happened across was a couple of fellows hawking a comic called Neutron Girl. Well the comic was a tad off-beat which simply made it all the more appealing to me. the artwork was simple, yet attractive, and the story itself was, intriguing. I have just learned that the Neutron Girl comic is available at Amazon ($3.00).

I also just discovered (from reading the background on Amazon) that the comic Neutron Girl is actually connected to an independent film entitled , Water Falls in Manhattan. The comic, which is written by Brian P. Katz, is apparently the same comic being written by the character in the movie. The character in the movie —Anthony Eivers — writes Neutron Girl — a fantasy that is based on his life with his girlfriend, Sonya. In the comic, Sonya is the eponymous superhero, Neutron Girl.

I’m not sure if the Indie film was ever made (I can't seem to find any info on it), but the comicbook itself is kinda cool.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Warlord of Mars

I first discovered Edgar Rice BurroughsJohn Carter back in 1977 when it appeared in a Marvel Comic. and remember enjoying it quite a bit. I really dug the four-armed Martians. It wasn't until much later on that I realized that this character had a long, rich literary history in comics (I was aware of his connection to Burroughs right away). Well, in the years since, the character has appeared in other comicbook incarnations (including DC & Dark Horse).

Oh, and for those of you paying attention, the character “John Carter” who appeared on the TV program, ER was actually intentionally named by series creator, novelist Michael Crichton (The Andromeda StrainJurassic Park), after the Burroughs character in tribute to the master storyteller.

Well, recently, Dynamite Entertainment has begun publishing a 12-issue series entitled Warlord of Mars. The first two issues serve as a prelude story, issues 3-9 will adapt A Princess of Mars, and issues 10-12 will be an original story. The great part of this is that issue #1 has a $1.00 cover price, which — as I’ve often said — is always a great way to lead into a new series. This first Dynamite issue (by Arvid Nelson & Stephen Sadowski) is really very good, and I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

Dynamite also has a Warlord Of Mars Deja Thoris series planned as well that will give some background to Carter’s Martian love. I’m looking forward to both series.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

(Not so) Scary comicbook

Not nearly as frightening as it perhaps
should be
So, because I've been contributing short stories to a number of small press publishers for the past few years, on occasion I’ve pick up some other horror anthologies (books to which I’m not contributing), and have been — well — seriously underwhelmed by what I’ve seen. The stories I’ve read, itn the anthologies I’ve seen keep going back to the “Uncle Creepy”/EC style of “gotcha” ending that I’ve been reading all of my life and, well, it just isn’t frightening any more.

Yeah, yeah I know that when I was 10, this stuff was scary, but I’m not 10 any more, and even if there were 10-year-olds reading comics these days, the crap that publishers are throwing at us just don’t do it, plus so much   of  of the art is simplistically bad and the stories themselves are just bad. That I have to wonder how these writers and artists (and editors) can get work.

I hate to sound arrogant, but seriously, not only is my stuff much better than what I’m reading, but so is the work of my fellow creators whose work appears alongside mine in these anthologies is also way much better than what I’m seeing in other anthologies.

To this end, I want to direct folks to the Atlas Unleashed titles to which I contribute, Free Lunch Comics, and to Main Enterprises. Three examples of most excellent work.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

International Heroes

Some time back I became turned on a Kuwaiti comicbook company that initially entered into the US marketplace by licensing Spider-Man to publish in Arabic for the Mid-East. Teshkeel Comics then moved into a new area by introducing their own characters, The 99. The comic (written by Fabian Nicieza) centers around a group of teenagers who have certain aspects of their personality “augmented” by bonding with several “enhanced” Noor gem stones that have been imbued with one of The 99 special traits of Allah, and then passed these traits each of the individuals. If this sort of sounds a little like the X-Men it is probably because Fabian is a former writer of that team.
Given this double connection to Marvel, it sort of makes the next part of this post even more interesting. The 99 Have recently teamed up with the JLA. Yep, DC’s Justice League of America. Now I’m not sure why this first team-up happened with DC, and not Marvel, but — on some level — I really don’t care, so long as these very cool characters become introduced into the American Audience.

It is one of the goals of Dr. Naif Al-Mutawa (a UNESCO award-winning author and the creator of the 99) to present a positive image of the Arab world and Islamic beliefs, and both the comic itself and his editorials in each issue reflect that approach. Dr. Naif was quick to point out that there is no overt religious message in The 99, nor is he attempting to present a religious image of either Allah or Islam, as that would be something to difficult to attempt. Rather, the comic should be viewed as a typical superhero comic that just happens to take place with a cast of characters that is largely Islamic.

As of yet, I haven’t read the JLA/99 series (for of the planned six issues have already hit the stands), but I’m looking forward to doing so as I have read the first 12 or 13 issues of The 99. The team-up is co-written by Fabian  and Stuart Moore.

Personally, I can only think that this kind of inter-company team-up can be beneficial to both companies by introducing the characters of each to the readers of the others. To be sure, the DC characters are more widely known, but it certainly couldn't hurt to have them favorably introduced into the largely Islamic audience that reads The 99, nor would it be bad for the primarily U.S. audience to get a more favorable understanding of non-threatening Islamic characters.