Sunday, August 20, 2017

Hulk vs. Thing original artwork by Jae Lee - one of my favorite pieces of all time!

I got a heck of a surprise for my birthday this year - a page of original art from the Hulk vs. Thing miniseries by artist Jae Lee. And not just any page, but one of my favorites of all time.

"Hulk and Thing: Hard Knocks" was a miniseries from 2004, written by then-Incredible Hulk writer Bruce Jones. As such, it picked up a few of the plot points that were running through the regular Hulk book at the time. I was thrilled that the Thing was getting a series, but also a little worried that, since it was pretty much just the Hulk comic with another name, the Thing would get knocked around a lot in the book in deference to the title character. The opposite actually happened, though, as the Thing spent a good bit of the book beating up the Hulk (and Bruce Banner), and it was even revealed that the Thing was the winner of the original matchup back in Fantastic Four #12.

In the series, the story keeps coming back to Ben Grimm and Bruce Banner in some out-of-the-way restaurant/bar. The Thing is in a bad mood and wants to commiserate with the Hulk, one of the only others out there who can understand what it's like to be a monster. The problem is, the Hulk shows up as Bruce Banner, and he's happy to stay that way. To force him to change into his green alter ego, the Thing slaps his around a few times...which is just really...well...I enjoyed seeing it a lot.

And now I own a page from the first time it happens. This particular page is from the first issue of the series. Jae Lee both pencils and inks this beauty. Lee draws a different Thing than most - his version keeps some of Grimm's human features, and his hide looks more scaly than the segmented rocks that most artists draw. But it's a good variation and one that stays true to the character's obsession with his disfigurement.

I never thought I'd own a page from this book, let alone THE page that makes this series so enjoyable, I guess in my own twisted fashion. This is a real beauty.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Pictures from the 2017 Comic-Con International, part 2: Wednesday, 7/19

Wednesday night of Comic-Con is only open to those who have four-day passes to the show, and it's titled "preview night", but it's really just a mad dash and a frenzied rush as attendees get a head start on the convention. I have to think that in years to come, hours will expand for this day and it'll become something closer to a full day in most other regards, too. This year, the show floor opened at 5:30, a half hour before the advertised time, so maybe we're slowly getting there.

I showed up a few hours early to finish setting up the booth and to take a stroll around the floor before the doors opened. One of the first in line at the rear entrance was this guy:

I talked to him for a minute and learned that he was a writer for the Bleeding Cool website. His Tick paraphernalia came from the offsite location, which was open to press only on Wednesday. I was, of course, stunned to see all of the gear - he gave me a pair of antennae, which was a nice gesture. The voice of Comic-Con spoke out at the end of our conversation, announcing that the hall was open, but the security guards at the doors didn't seem to hear it and held up this line from entering for a solid minute, which I'm sure drove everyone waiting absolutely crazy.

I grabbed a few things at the starting bell and made it onto social media as a result:
The first booth I visited was the Pixel Party booth, where I bought their new Tick pixelated action figure, which I think is really great. I got a chance to talk to a few of the people at the company - all great guys who are excited about The Tick.
Next I hit up the ComiXology booth to get the third set of comic book creator trading cards (which is as absurd as it sounds). I would go to great lengths to get my face on one of their cards, just saying.

Almost as soon as the doors opened, the place was swamped with backpacked individuals.

I saw Andrew Aydin, artist on the "March" series, at the IDW booth!

Lockjaw made an appearance promoting the new Inhumans show.

...there were more crowds of people...

Near the end of the night, I saw Luke McGarry and got my first Thing sketch of Comic-Con 2017 (in the new Thing sketchbook)! McGarry is probably best known for "Sad Chewie", but I knew him because he drew Weird Al in a Festival Supreme 2016 poster - which I was also able to buy at the booth. I got some great Thing sketches this time around.

Preview night ended up being 3.5 hours this year, which never feels like enough, but I managed to get a good amount done in that time. After walking through the Gaslamp District and getting some pizza, I called it a night.

That's it for Wednesday. I'll post pictures for Thursday soon!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Pictures from the 2017 Comic-Con International, part 1: Tuesday, 7/18 (The Tick activation site!)

It's time once again for Comic-Con pictures! It's an annual event that sometimes stretches into December or whenever. But it has arrived! Let's see what we've got. These pictures were taken on the Tuesday before the show, the day I arrived. I arrived early enough to grab my badge from the convention center and check out some of the events still in construction.

Many (most) of the pictures you'll see on this post and others deal with The Tick. This is naturally because I have something of a vested interest in the property, but also because Amazon made sure that the branding was just about everywhere within a quarter mile of the convention center. I knew that there would be a lot of hype for the new show, but I couldn't fathom just how much there would be.

Right outside of the convention center was The Tick Activation Site. What does "activation site" mean? What were they activating? In any case, there was Tick blue by the gallon, as two huge stages were in the process of being built as I walked by.

Amazon revealed character posters for the show earlier in the week, and we all got to see them at full size at the show.

Of course. the most impressive aspect of this offsite event was the 20-or-so-foot tall Tick antennae display. Yes, I reached up and touched it when no one was looking.

I took pictures of the site until someone came out and told me to stop. I guess Comic-Con doesn't want pictures to leak before the show opens, but it's got to be tough when there are so many (really cool) displays popping up out in the open.

After a good 20 minutes of gawking, I made my way inside the convention center to drop some things off at the booth. I picked up the 2017 bag and program along the way. It's always fun to see the convention hall on Tuesday, because there's so much frantic building going on. Everyone is working as hard as he or she can on this day. It's neat to see things come to life.

There are also many people-sized crates all over the floor. I'm not saying that people are being shipped in in boxes, but I'm not NOT saying that, either.

After seeing so many Tick sights outside, I was still floored to see this circular banner on display inside the lobby. How incredible.

I'm sure I took more than a few of these pictures during the show. It's tradition, I guess.

The banners hanging on street lamps were once again Marvel themed. This time I saw Black Panther and Thor banners.

More to come...of the actual show.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Once again...the San Diego Comic-Con

The 2017 San Diego Comic-Con International is nearly upon us once more...and I'm heading back for another trip. Maybe THIS is the year that I find fame and fortune. Or at least another trip to the Taco Truck, which deserves to be a proper noun.

Amazon's "The Tick" has just wrapped its first season and there will be a huge presence at this year's show, and some of it bleeds over into my tiny corner of the Tick universe as well. Let's take a look at some of the things I'll have with me at the show, running from Wednesday-Friday, July 19-23.

There's a new issue of The Tick debuting at SDCC with this special wedding issue! I'm joined by Duane Redhead and Ian Nichols for this issue, which comes with two covers: the "A" cover is the regular one, and the "B" cover is a (mostly) blank sketch cover!

Each are limited to 250 copies. I'll be signing copies - Ian will be there, too! - at the New England Comics booth, #1807, every day of the show.

Naturally, there's a lot more going on regarding The Tick at this show, and I hope to awkwardly stare at famous people at more than one point at the convention. There's a panel, an exclusive Funko Pop! figure, an autograph signing...and an incredible offsite area which includes a giant animatronic Tick head. It's all pretty neat. Read more about it here:

Honcho makes its semi-official debut at SDCC! What this means is that I'll have copies of the book with me, and I hope that people come and buy some. Jenny Klein, who did me a huge favor and wrote a foreword, will also be at the show! I'll be sharing a booth once again with the wonderful Jennie Wood in the small press section, at booth M-06!

I made some enamel pins that I'll be taking with me, too! The (very official) Honcho pin can be seen above. It's a one-inch pin with a custom backing, and it's based on Jeff McComsey's art from the book.

Because I can never do anything without also considering "hmm, how can I also make this about Weird Al?", I have a "UHF"-themed enamel pin as well. This one clocks in at about 1 1/2 inches.

And lastly...I put together another Rotten Tomatoes poster/print/comic for this year's event! Like last year, they're limited to 50, and I'll be giving them away at the very exciting "Your Opinion Sucks" panel. This year, Rotten Tomatoes is doing three separate panels at an offsite, across the street from the convention center. They've expanded it to 2 1/2 hours long!! The poster this year is drawn by Lonny Chant and Tomas Marijanovic, and I think it's really something. I'm already planning the next one!

Wish me luck, people. I hope it's a good show. I also hope I don't spend every last cent I own.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Thing sketchbook, part 19

Let's look at some more entries into the Thing sketchbook!

Jim Rugg - Wizard World Pittsburgh 2015

The ill-fated Wizard World Pittsburgh was disappointing on a number of levels. After Wizard World took over for the Pittsburgh Comicon in 2015, I had at least faint hopes that the venue change (moving from Monroeville to the downtown convention center) would mean better things for comic conventions in the 'Burgh. This was decidedly not to be, and the show dragged on for the weekend at a snail's pace, but at least I got this great Thing sketch out of it! This one is by Jim Rugg - a Pittsburgh native and creator of the wonderful Street Angel series. Rugg is one of the most underrated artists in the industry, and I'm happy to add his work to the sketchbook!

Art Adams - New York Comic Con 2015

How in the world, you might ask, did I manage to get the legendary Arthur Adams to draw in this book? It took a lot of luck, my friends, but in general, I found him at a time that he wasn't too busy and I made a nice donation to the Hero Initiative in exchange for a five minute sketch. Adams has been at the top of his game (and the top of the industry) for decades at this point, and he draws one of the best Ben Grimms of all time. This is without a doubt one of the most impressive pieces in the book on name recognition alone.

Karin Rindevall - New York Comic Con 2015

I've been friends with Karin Rindevall for years, all the way back to Teddy and the Yeti #1, but I never thought I'd get the chance to meet her, because she lives in Sweden. She and her boyfriend made the trip to New York for NYCC in 2015, though, and I was lucky enough to get to spend a little time chatting with them. Naturally, because I'm an awful and pushy person, I talked Karin into drawing the the Thing in the sketchbook, and he kindly obliged with the above piece (the word balloon is roughly "it's clobberin' time!" in Swedish). Karin needed to find a table on which to draw, so (keep this to yourself) we sat down at the then-empty table of Art Adams. Several people walked by while we were there and were very confused.

Dave Wachter - PIX 2016

Dave Wachter is a Pittsburgh native and recently completed a run as artist on IDW's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series. I had met him a few times before but finally managed to get a sketch from him at the Pittsburgh Indy Comix Festival in 2016. I believe this is the second trench coat Thing in the book - you can never have too many. The rain in the background adds that extra something to it. And I'm absolutely in love with Dave's stamps, which he changes every year.

Todd Webb - Comic-Con International 2016

True story - I once bought a toilet seat from Todd Webb. He drew pirates on it and I still have it, packed away in a closet, waiting for the day when I can figure out where to hang it. That was quite a few years ago - 2003 or 2004, I think - and I hadn't heard anything of or from him in the intervening years until running into him at the very end of Comic-Con 2015. I was lucky enough to find him again at the 2016 show and knew that it was time to ask him to join the sketchbook ranks, near the very end of the book. This is the first entry drawn in crayon, and it's one of my favorites!

Believe it or not, this very nearly completes the Thing sketchbook. I'll be back with one final entry before closing the book on this...uh, book for good.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The Black Terror by Ramona Fradon and Duane Redhead

Perhaps you recall my Black Terror: Wednesday at the Diner webcomic/comic strip/mini comic/whatever that Rafer Roberts and I worked on a few years ago. It's been a while, but I'm slowly putting together some new material on that front for an eventual book, and two cool pieces of that recently came together from two great artists, so I thought I'd share them here!

The first is an image of the classic Black Terror from Golden Age artist (and personal favorite) Ramona Fradon. Fradon is an underrated legend in the comic book industry, and I'm kind of stunned that I was able to commission her in the first place. She's been drawing comics for almost 70 years and might be best known for co-creating Aqualad and Metamorpho for DC Comics. What a thrill it is to work with her in even the slightest capacity.

Our next piece is from a familiar source, Mr. Duane Redhead! Duane took some time from drawing the Tick to pencil and ink this lovely image of an elderly (but still muscular, check out those biceps) Black Terror and Mr. Q. The backdrop for this image is the city of Cleveland, because Cleveland is just kind of a funny place.

I'll update this page with more info on my take on the Black Terror in the future. For now, I'm excited to see these images.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Nuclear Winter!

Well, hello, Internet. It's been several months since I've posted anything. Has anyone noticed? Maybe Larry noticed. Anyway, I had to take a break for a couple reasons, both mostly accounting to the excuse "I'm busy". This isn't a great excuse, because I love you, Yeti blog. I think I've had this damn thing for nine years. But the spring brought about some new online classes that I signed up to teach, which meant a lot of content design, and it also brought some new comic book work, which is by far more exciting and enjoyable. I'll try to update more often, but maybe not as often as in years past, because a lot of my time is not going toward making comics, and that's, I guess, pretty neat.

So let's try to spend a few minutes going over what's going on here in whatever year this is now:

Probably the biggest news is that the first volume of Honcho is finished and has made its way back from the printer! It topped out at around 120 pages and, if I can say so, it looks really great. Everyone did a really nice job with it. Jeff McComsey and I are trying to find a publisher for a wider release, which I think the book deserves, so we'll see how that goes.

Free Comic Book Day 2017 has come and gone, and with it, a new issue of The Tick! This is actually the fifth year in a row that I've been able to write a story for FCBD, and as in previous years, I was able to travel to Boston to sign some books at a few different New England Comics stores. This will be a big year for The Tick, as the first season of the new television series officially premiers on Amazon's streaming service in August. I wrote a new story for this year's San Diego Comic-Con, where there'll be some surprises in store regarding the show and a few different items related to it. Let's take a tiny peek at one of the panels from that new comic:

How tantalizing! What could it mean??

I had a short story published by the newly launched AR Comics. Ian Nichols (who drew the above Tick panel) invited me to contribute to the geographically-named "New England Tales of Terror", which premiered at a local New England comic convention in February. My story was drawn by none other than Joe St. Pierre, formerly of Spider-Man 2099 fame, so I was pretty excited.

This hasn't been formally announced yet, so keep it to yourself, but I'm lettering an original graphic novel that has been picked up by Image Comics. I can't really talk about it at any length, but I lettered a pitch for the book in 2015 and we recently got the go-ahead to produce the full-length story. If all goes well, this'll be my first work under the Image banner, which is very exciting. I hope I'm not jinxing it by talking about it.

I'll be at Comic-Con in San Diego once again this year - my sixth year in a row! I'll have copies of Honcho with me along with the aforementioned new issue of The Tick. I'll be sharing a booth with the very talented Jennie Wood in the small press section. I'm a little surprised with how excited I still get for Comic-Con. I'm in full preparation mode over a month away. This should be a fun year. Oh, and if all goes well, I may have something that looks similar to this with me at the booth:

Let's keep our fingers crossed for this one.

How many new Thing items have I gotten since I last posted an update? LOTS, including this incredible (and ugly) bootleg Thing toy from Mexico. What's up with his mouth? Wow. Anyway, I've landed quite a few items that I would love to show off, if only I had a blog or something to post them to - oh, wait. I guess that's what this is for.

I'll post again soon. Not too soon. Soon-ish. We'll all do what we can. Take care, folks.