Tuesday, July 29, 2008

SDCC '08 Recap

(Pictures by Charlie Chu)

SDCC Bullet points!

  • Roomed with Shawn Crystal (thanks, Shawn!), Jason Latour, Andrew Robinson (if you can score Andrew's ANDROX sketchbook, DOO EEET!), Hunter Clark and Johnny Depp.

  • Many meetings and greetings from Hollywood folk, in the wake of Billy Smoke, the Leading Man and Hawaiian Dick. Some renewed interest in Dick. Some possible interest in Jackie Karma from an interesting lead. Lots of genuine love, of course.

  • Ran into tons of old friends, of course. Flew out with Haun and Peck. Flew back with Peck and Parks. Also on the flight were KC con promoter Chris Jackson and Diamond sculptor Rudy Garcia. Seth Jones was on hand covering things for CBR, as was Mar Harris. Never did see Jonah.

  • Met J. Torres's baby, and, yes, it is the cutest thing in the world. Good to see he and his wife, Young. Missed Rick Cortes, though. Bummer.

  • Dinner with the Oni gang on Thursday, which included political chatter with Joe Phillips, and included a bunch of my favorite folks, from Chris Mitten to Rick Spears to Robbi Rodriguez to Chuck BB to Brian Hurtt to Cullen Bunn (and wife). And, of course, James Lucas Jones, Joe Nozemak and Randy Jerrell.

  • Special thanks to Oni's media mavens Eric Gitter and Peter Schwerin.

  • Fucked my knee up playing softball for DC against Marvel. Yes, we lost 16-6, but I was three for three with three RBI. So don't blame me.

  • Got to see Jai Nitz strike Joe Quesada out in slo-pitch softball.
  • Ran into Hawaiian Dick co-screenwriter Mark Swift and had a nice chat.

  • UTA party Friday night with many of the Oni folk (including Jamie McKelvie and Kieron Gillen). Sarah Silvermen, Stan Lee, and two Napoleon Dynamites were on hand.

  • Karaoke with the Wildstorm gang. Christos Gage finally drove us out of the bar.

  • Signed with Black Vault artist Nelson Blake 2, who's a great guy.

  • Nice meeting with my DC lifeline Mike Siglain. Hopefully things work out on THAT PROJECT.
  • Erik Larsen: "What you should do with your next Image book is think about what people want to read and do that." Thanks, Erik.

  • Lunched with Casey Blue artists Carlo Barberi and Jacob Eguren and editor Ben Abernathy. Again, great guys all.
  • Met Dan Curtis Johnson finally. Brain was scrambled by that point, though.
  • Also met Ryan Kelly for the first time. Been a fan of his since Local first debuted.
  • Had planned on chatting with Ben Templesmith about things, but ended up just bumping into each other on the con floor, as usual. Email it is.
  • Played softball with Randy Green, and ran into him several times (often with super nice guy Andy Yates). Good guy.
  • Found out Ted McKeever's a prince of a guy.
  • Chatting with Darwyn Cooke and James Sime together in the middle of the Hyatt bar was a high point. Darwyn's...well...Darwyn, and James greeted me with a warm hug and a high five. Love those guys.
  • Picked up the Pulp Tales anthology, which featured the debut of Bluejacket.

  • Saw John Layman stone sober on a Friday. Then I saw him on Saturday...
  • Someone remind Cory Walker that he's a genius, please. Also, he wrote a song about me.

  • Nick Derington's Tiger Fighter is genius.

  • Also thanks to the Top Cow gang: Mel, Filip, Matt and Rob. And Chas!

  • Ivan, Kristyn and Andy finally showed up.
  • Simon and Pat hanging in the Hyatt bar.
  • Chatted with lots of other good people I don't see enough: Josh Fiaklov, Andy Kuhn, Phil Hester, Kody Chamberlain, Francesco Francavilla (and his delightful wife), Joe Keatinge, Eric Stephenson, Jim Valentino, Jimmie Robinson, Mark Englert, Tim Seeley, Chris Burnham, Robert Kirkman, Jason Aaron, Fraction and DeConnick, Scott Kurtz, Neil Kleid, Marc Hammond, Chris Powell, Frank Cho, Jann Jones, Mark Sable, Ryan Ottley, Sam Humphries, Lea Hernandez, Chip Mosher, the Image office gang, and so on and so forth.
  • Comic Book Tattoo ruled the Image booth. Nice work, Rantz!

  • Chuck BB with the EISNER WIN! Followed by shots and pizza.
  • Oni PR hawk Cory Casoni and Shawn Crystal saved me from jail by getting me a new badge before I tried to punch out an over-zealous badge monkey on Sunday. Temper, temper, Clay.

  • Biggest moment for me was signing on Saturday afternoon with future Billy Smoke star Matthew Fox, who flew in to Comic-Con specifically to sign Billy posters with me at the booth. Great guy, and he's very into the project (his being there at all was proof of that). Eric and I are going to kick this thing in the ass and let Fox and his folks put together a killer flick. Also? Sitting next to Matthew Fox made me realize how out of shape I am.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

My San Diego Schedule

If you're looking for me in San Diego, here's where I'll be:

Thursday, July 24
4:30: Softball (DC vs. Marvel)
Adams Rec Center
3491 Adams Avenue (corner of 35th Street)

Friday, July 25
2:00-3:00: Signing at the IMAGE BOOTH with Scott Chantler & Seth Peck.
3:30–4:30: Signing at the TOP COW BOOTH with Nelson Blake II

Saturday, July 26
10:00–11:00: Signing at the TOP COW BOOTH with Nelson Blake II
2:00-3:00: Signing at the IMAGE BOOTH with Scott Chantler & Seth Peck.
3:00–4:00: HERD IT THROUGH THE BO-VINE (Top Cow panel, Room 2)
6:30-7:30: Wildstorm panel

Sunday, July 27
2:30–3:30: Signing at the TOP COW BOOTH with Nelson Blake II (Jeremy will be there, too)

I'll probably be hanging around the Oni booth now and then, as well, helping out.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Comic Reviews!

Instead of hanging out at Steven Sanders' place with almost all of the Kansas City comics community, I'm stuck at home with kids, reading old comics through bleary eyes.

I thought I'd post some reviews of old comics I picked up in Chicago a couple of weeks ago. I loaded up on cheap seventies stuff, mainly, and thought I'd spit out some brief blurbs on a few of 'em.


Manhunter by Jack Kirby

So, First Issue Special was primarily a dumping ground for lousy concepts that had no prayer of being picked up, the one notable exception being Mike Grell's Warlord. James Robinson got some mileage out of the Starman character introduced near the end of the run. The book did feature a now classic Marty Pasko/Walt Simonson Dr. Fate story, and the Creeper and Metamorpho had showcases, but so did Lady Cop, the Dingbats, and the Green Team...

So, this is Jack Kirby reinventing his Golden Age Manhunter character, and it's better than you'd think it would be. Typical Kirby silliness opens the book, as the character waltzes into the "cave of Talking Heads" and battles a dude wearing a robe and a mask over his pinstripe suit. But from there Kirby sets up an interesting scenario...a society of manhunters, with the newest member being a young public defender who laments that society's "big fish" so often abuse the "little fish."

It's a fun little story, and I think it would have been a decent springboard for a book. Cool looking character, too.


The Outsiders by Joe Simon, Jerry Grandenetti and Craig Flessel

This book, on the other hand, is almost abstract in its awfulness. In a nutshell, a group of freakish looking characters have banded together (because they're all so ugly) to help other freaks.

The first freak rescued by the Outsiders in this issue is a baby with a GIGANTIC hard head, who speaks telepathically ("I'm Billy! Won't someone please help me?"). In this book, normal people react to freaks by attacking them with torches and clubs, you see. When Billy is set on fire, he uses his giant head to bash his way through a crowd and jump into a lake.

A trio of Golden Age creators must have thought this concept was out there enough to appeal to a new generation, but it's so laughably executed, it's hard to take it seriously as an attempt at crafting a hit. It's also highly enjoyable, thanks to the pure goofiness that drips off every page. I'm convinced the kind-of-keen Ernie Chan cover was designed the way it was so they didn't have to feature the completely ridiculous looking cast (which includes a scaly woman with flippers for hands and a twisted dwarf who drives around in his own funky bubble chair). Still, it must be read to be believed.

Monday, July 07, 2008

io9 asks me (and Millar) about terror in comics

I think Graeme's question is a little odd, which I suppose I address in my answer.

I also think it's odd that he thinks imagining the war on terror not stopping more attacks would have been "unimaginable" a few years back. I've never thought the "war on terror" was likely to prevent attacks.

Anyway, check it out here:


Friday, July 04, 2008

M. V. Carey was kind to me when I was a boy

Cleaning up the basement, I just stumbled across a letter written to me many, many years ago by author M.V. (Mary) Carey.

As a kid, I was a fanatical fan of several series (the continuity of series books always greatly appealed to me): Notably Lloyd Alexander's High King (or Black Cauldron) series, Hugh Lofting's Dr. Doolittle books, C.S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia, and Willard Price's "Adventure" series. While I could never get into the Hardy Boys, I was a monster fan of the Three Investigators books, created in 1964 by Robert Arthur, but primarily written during my childhood by Carey.

When I was in fourth or fifth grade, my class was given the assignment of writing a letter to our favorite authors. Most kids wrote to Judy Blume or Beverly Cleary, but I wrote a heartfelt letter to Carey, explaining that I loved to write and draw, and that I one day hoped to write and draw comic books and maybe even write real books.

Virtually every kid in the class received very nice form letters from the authors they chose, but I received a lovely typed response directly from Ms. Carey, with specific advice on the craft of writing, and inquiries as to my hobbies and about the town in which I lived. Over the course of a couple of years, we exchanged three or four more letters, and each time she wrote to me without condescension, in a leisurely manner, sharing her impressions of the places I lived based on their names (we moved from Iowa to Texas during this period), and wishing me success with the detective agency I started with my friend Troy Petrick (C.L.O.Y. Investigations).

Over the years I'd occasionally stumble across one of Carey's letters, and each time I'd make sure I tucked the letters away in some corner for preservation. Finding this letter tonight spurred me to search for information on her life after she stopped writing the Three Investigators books (her last book was published in 1987), and I found what I was looking for:

1925 - 1994

Personal: Born May 19, 1925, in New Brighton, England; brought to the United States in 1925, naturalized citizen in 1955; daughter of John Cornelius (an engineer) and Mary Alice (Hughes) Carey. Home address in 1993 was 3748 Birch St., Ventura, CA.

The entire entry can be found here: http://www.threeinvestigatorsbooks.com/MVCarey.html

Along with much biographical information, the entry includes this lovely quotation from Carey:

"Young people ask why I became a writer, as if it were something I decided. I didn't decide; it grew on me like ivy. When I was a child I liked to read to my friends, or to tell them stories. When I grew up I had several false starts before I found a job on a magazine and discovered that people who read and write are more fun than people who don't. I first wrote for profit at the Disney Studio. I worked on the Mickey Mouse Club magazine there. Suddenly I felt that I was ten again, sitting on the front porch telling stories to the other kids. Now that I am a free-lance writer, the sensation of reliving younger days is even stronger. I remember how it was when my brothers and I were small. We had no money because of that thing called a depression, but we had freedom. If there were wicked people on Long Island in the 1930's - people who might harm kids - we did not know of it. On summer mornings my mother could open the door and send us out to wander through the neighborhood and she did not worry. So long as we came back in time for lunch - and relatively clean and undamaged - everything was fine. We explored all empty houses, and all empty houses were considered haunted. We went out on the sound in a tiny boat which my second brother had salvaged from the beach after a storm. We had clubs with secret passwords. We watched the older people of the community come and go and I think we knew quite a bit about what they were up to - probably including things we were not supposed to know."

"And we read. We read everything we were supposed to read, and much that we weren't supposed to know about. We fished pulp magazines out of the neighbor's trash and learned all about Dr. Fu Manchu and Tarzan of the Apes and other super heroes. We also plowed through Dickens and Jules Verne and the Saturday Evening Post and Collier's and everything the librarian would let us carry home from the library. Today all of the reading and the roaming stands me in good stead. So does my habit of being not especially practical or brisk. People ask if I work for a certain number of hours each day. I admire people who do, but I must admit that I don't. Some days it seems more important to wander and watch, or to read. There is only one brisk rule that I do observe; if I plan to write today, I do not leave the house until I've written. I know that once I go out, I will stay out until dark, and then I will come trailing home, tired and probably hungry. I will have lost the day."

It's now been over ten years since Ms. Carey passed away, and I regret not being able to thank her for her kindness, and for the small part she played in shaping my own life.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Very brief WW Chicago recap

Had a nice time in Chicago this year. Lots of people dropped by to tell me they enjoyed the iFanboy podcast, which was cool. Moved a few trades, signed at DC a couple of times.

Editor Shannon Denton, Jeremy Haun and myself on the Wildstorm panel

Had fun hanging with Wildstorm editor Shannon Denton (with whom Jeremy and I shared a Wildstorm panel). Wildstorm is good people. Good to see Jim Valentino and Larsen again, even if conversation with Erik was interrupted Thursday night by a very drunk British artist. Obviously there was a pall cast over the proceedings with the word of Michael Turner's passing on Friday night. Shannon and I were chatting when Jim Demonakis leaned in with the news, having just received a phone call. The Aspen booth was understandably pretty somber for the rest of the show. Good news on Saturday for Eric Stephenson, stepping up as the publisher at Image. I don't think his job will change much, but it'll shift some, of course. Wish he hadn't missed his flight to the show. Also good to see the Top Cow guys, Rob Levin, Filip Sablik and Mel Caylo. I'm glad to be working with all three of them.

Dinner at Maria's, followed by drinks Thursday night at the amazing Hala Kahiki with Ande Parks, roommates Jason Latour, Jeremy Haun, Jason Hurley and Aaron Norton.

Shannon, writer Jai Nitz and myself bad-assing it up at the DC booth.

Bar conversation always highlights Chicago. Ivan Brandon and Brian Azzarello and I spent a while discussing the merits of the Office, and I caught up with Dynamite's Nick Barruci and Marvel's all-everything go-to guy CB Cebulski (I knew him when...). Saw old pal Seth Jones, heading up coverage for CBR. A big thanks to Crimespree Magazine honcho Jon Jordan and his wife, Ruth, for hooking me up with some great fiction and a spiffy Crimespree T-shirt (I wore it on Monday). Good to see Andy Kuhn, Phil Hester, Mellon & Hopeless, Norton & Seeley, BB & Stakal, Samnee & Bunn, and all the other cute couples in comics...

Anyway, it's always nice to hit Chicago.

Iron Maiden One from Top Cow

I'm doing a new book at Top Cow that, as yet, doesn't have a final title, but came to the Cow as Iron Maiden One. Five issue mini-series, with Nelson Blake II on art. There will be a preview issue ready for San Diego: