Saturday, August 30, 2014

Read "Black Terror: Wednesday at the Diner" by McClelland and Roberts for free!

It's kind of weird putting my own name in the title of one of these posts.  But I do it for the Google.

Recently, Rafer Roberts (he of FUBAR, Magic Bullet and Plastic Farm fame) and I put together a short comic featuring several public domain stalwarts from the Golden Age of comics.  World War II was almost 75 years ago, and the fighting members of that great generation, those who are still alive, are in their 90s at least.  Superhero comics as we know them today owe much of their existences to the WWII era, so I thought it'd be fun to write a story about a few survivors from the first age of superhero comics.

Superman obviously wasn't available, but many comics, now nearly forgotten, feature characters who have since passed into the public domain and are free for anyone to use.  Thanks in part to the Dynamite series "Project Superpowers", some of those characters have made their way back into the public spotlight, at least a little, notably the Black Terror and a few others.  Along with BT, I picked up the Silver Streak, Mr. Q, The Fighting Yank and the Martian Mentalist for this story about some old folks meeting for breakfast at a diner.

Rafer, of course, knocked the story out of the park with his attention to detail and his expressive characters.  The plan is to print this story in the back of an upcoming issue of Teddy and the Yeti, but for now we've posted it, in its seven-page entirety, online and free for anyone to read.

Check it out here:

Spread the word, please.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Pictures from the 2014 Comic-Con International, part 2: Preview Night!

Welcome again to another installment of...uh..."Jeff posts pictures from Comic-Con".  That's not a great title, but it'll have to do for now.  And I suppose it does its job.  Anyway, let's get started with some pictures from Wednesday, July 23rd: Preview Night!

In all honesty, the term "Preview Night" is a bit of a misnomer for the first night of Comic-Con.  The first show I attended, back in 2006, had a feel more in line with what you might expect: people calmly walked around the lightly attended event and looked at the booths and what was for sale.  Not a lot of transactions happened on this night, but attendees could make a list of places to visit when the convention started up in earnest the next day.

Those days are long gone, as Preview Night is one of the more manic scenes at Comic-Con, where people clutch and grab for exclusives in an attempt to beat the rush and find what they're looking for with reckless abandon.  A three hour window and ravenous fans sometimes leads to some fairly absurd scenes, and this year had some good examples of this.  But I'm getting ahead of myself...there are some pre-Preview Night pictures to be seen.

I realize that I'm pretty fortunate when it comes to this big event.  I'm able to get my tickets without much hassle, and because a friend had a table in the small press area this year, I was able to get access to the convention floor before the doors opened.  I had the same experience in 2012 and it is fun to witness.  You get to see booths and displays on their way to completion - sometimes up until the very last second - without crowds of people storming the gates.  It's relaxing compared to the stampede that comes once the doors open.  Here's the makings of the Walking Dead display, a staple at Comic-Con since the show has been on the air.

The mass of people that the operating hours bring helps you appreciate getting to see from one end of the hall to the other.

I wonder if this is for sale?  Probably not...but if it was, what would the price tag be?  If they ever have a similar Thing model on display, I will probably fall down weeping at the sight.  As it is, still pretty cool.

My professional badge didn't grant me any early access, but as I knew someone with a booth, I got this spiffy sticker that allowed me in while I "helped out".  There were a lot of people with similar stickers on Wednesday, many of whom were legitimately helping out, many of whom were trying to get an early jump on exclusives once the doors opened.  This, of course, caused a maddening rush to the Hasbro booth once convention started.  The Hasbro booth is an unbelievable mess every year.

I think the coolest prop at Comic-Con was at the Marvel booth: it's a full-sized replica of the shuttles as seen in the Guardians of the Galaxy movie that was just days away from premiering at the time.  This was blocked off, of course, but I'm sure some people (those who worked at the Marvel booth) climbed in at some point.

Very meticulous, very articulate.  Really cool.

As always, people wandered around in the minutes before the convention opened.  The convention staff must go crazy every year trying to get people to clear aisles.  I, of course, do little to alleviate the situation.  What can I say?

Here's the Mattel booth, stocked and seemingly ready to go.  Perhaps they're having a pep talk before attendees are allowed inside.  The second floor storage is clever.  Tall ceilings in the convention hall...might as well make use of it.

For the second year in a row, I ran into Matt Atchity, EIC of Rotten Tomatoes, while walking the convention floor.  It's astounding that he recognizes me, and I appreciate the opportunity to get to talk to him, the big-wig that he is.  I met Matt two years ago when he interviewed Larry and me as we were dressed up in our Jet Boy and Jet Girl costumes.  Later in the week, I went to the Rotten Tomatoes panel, which is a must-do from now on.  Lots of are forthcoming.

Here's one of the many displays.  These costumes were show-ready, and they had price tags to match.  But awesome to look at nonetheless.

This was, of course, taken outside of the Walking Dead booth.  We all know how easily distracted I can get sometimes.

My annoyance at the new Superman costume should be well known.  But there's no denying that this guy did a decent job.  I saw him at different times during the event and he was always lugging around the American flag.  That's dedication.

More pictures to come.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Pictures from the 2014 Comic-Con International, part 1 (Homer's Dome, Godzilla, Guardians of the Galaxy and more!)

Believe it or not, I did not get kidnapped on my way to San Diego for the annual Comic-Con festivities.  I went, I saw, I...well, "conquered" might be too strong a word for it, but I had a great time both in San Diego and then afterwards on a mini vacation to Arizona.  Do I have pictures?  Oh, my yes, I've got some great images to share with you, faithful readers.  Yes, these are pushing a month old right now.  But like a fine wine, they get better with age.  They'd also be pretty cool right after the fact, but we'll deal with things as they come.  Let's look at some pictures from Tuesday, July 22nd - the day before Comic-Con opened!

I left Pittsburgh early on Tuesday morning.  The two statues (the figure in the middle is a living, breathing Jeff) are nothing new to the airport, but they present an interesting picture: in Pittsburgh, we put Franco Harris and the Immaculate Reception on the same platform as George Washington (who also had a nice string of victories in the area).  Also, check out my beard.

The flight to San Diego was thankfully uneventful.  Almost as soon as I stepped off the plane, I was greeted with palm trees and Comic-Con imagery.  Comic-Con branding was in full force all over the city, unlike years past.  It was clear that, as big as the show was, it keeps expanding every year.

The bridge over the crosswalk even featured some genuine comic book advertising, this from IDW for Walt Simonson's "Ragnarok" series.

Even though it was more than 24 hours away, before checking in for lodging, my wife and I went to the convention center to see how things were shaping up.  It was already busy (though this is relative).  Lots of displays were being hastily finished.  Game of Thrones advertised on a number of the busses this year.

Here's the Homer Dome being built.  I believe this one finished late, actually.  This picture was taken around 1 pm on Tuesday, and it's easy to see that there was still a lot of work to be done.

It was interesting to see a Godzilla display for the second year in a row.  The movie had already been released, so what exactly were they advertising?  The DVD release?  In any case, this year's convention had a number of interactive exhibits set up on the lawn by the water, a first for Comic-Con (at least in this magnitude).  Look for this to increase in years to come.  The Simpsons zone, the Godzilla display and the Gotham zip-line were all very well attended throughout the show.

A new library popped up in town between last year's show and the 2014 version.  It's architecturally distinct and fairly close to the convention center, so I walked over to check it out.  Fans of Sherlock Holmes held a Comic-Con party on the top floor one evening.  I missed out on tickets, which was unfortunate as I really would have liked to go.  The library itself is top notch and features an art gallery on top along with an observation deck (which was where the party was held).  The galleries weren't all the way complete when we were there, but I did see some fantastic items, such as this horse sculpture from China's Tang Dynasty, which I assume was named after the powdered drink mix.

Here's a view from the top, looking south-ish down the coast.  San Diego's a beautiful place, but there's some work to do on this side of the convention center.  Tear up those parking lots and put in some parks, SD!

I stopped in at the Chuck Jones Gallery on the way back to the car, which is where I saw my first costume of the convention.  It's a Chewbacca dog!  It counts.

Construction on the Assassin's Creed obstacle course was in full swing on Tuesday.  This was a popular outside attraction during the show and it had a prime location at the front of the convention center (across the tracks).

There was a lot of Guardians of the Galaxy branding around town, as the movie release was just a few days away at the time of the show.  Marvel had a stranglehold on the lamppost banners, as I saw them.

Next time we'll move on to preview night.  Fun times!  Comic-Con is always a blast.

Monday, July 21, 2014

FUBAR Comic-Con signing! Awesome Toy Blog! Weird Al!

Comic-Con is just a few days away, and it's shaping up to be even bigger than ever before.  I'm trying to pack, make last minute plans and figure out some semblance of a schedule for the coming week.  I'm flying in to San Diego a day earlier than I did last year, so hopefully that helps me get accustomed to the west coast in time for the show...but let's face it, no one is ever really prepared for Comic-Con. I'm hoping for the best.

Plans don't get much more last minute than this, but I'm still finalizing a few details on some exciting news.  There will be a small FUBAR signing at Comic-Con, complete with a few exclusives to boot.  The picture at top is of our con exclusive poster, measuring 11x14 and featuring the "Ace of Spades" Free Comic Book Day cover.  It sells for five bucks!

The signing will take place on Friday the 25th in the small press section, booth M-06.  I'll be there along with Chuck Dixon and Jennie Wood to sign some books and say hello.  Eric Esquivel and Lesley Vamos are scheduled to make some appearances as well!  The time for the signing is tentatively set for 3:30-5:00, but we're still working out individual schedules.  Let's keep our fingers crossed.

I'll hand out a bunch of these post card sized flyers before the singing to hopefully drum up some interest.  The front has the pertinent details...

...and the back has a place for autographs!

There'll also be a special item for backers of the "Mother Russia" Kickstarter. Cryptic!

The Awesome Toy Blog is a great site with lots of great information on, well, toys in general, but I use it most to find a list of convention exclusive merchandise.  The site compiles it and I scan it to see what I need to get for SDCC and other conventions (but mostly SDCC).  The site recently put up a post about the Tick exclusives from New England Comics!  I'm glad someone (uh...) tipped the site off about them!

In the category of "dream come true that might quickly turn into a nightmare" comes news that "Weird Al" Yankovic will have a panel all to himself at Comic-Con on Saturday.  This is fantastic news until you find out that the panel is a limited ticketed event and you'll probably have to wait in line for seven hours just to get a chance at a ticket.  There are better ways to do this, Comic-Con...just look at Nerd HQ if you want to know how to do it right!

Regardless, I'm going to try to get into the panel and see Al once again, so I hope that it's relatively painless.  Al just released his new album, "Mandatory Fun", which is, of course, a gift to humanity.  I'm doing my best to learn all the lyrics to the new songs before Saturday.  Above is the video for what might just be my favorite song on the album, "Foil"!  Watch and enjoy.  And then go buy the album.

Best of luck to all heading out to San Diego for what is sure to be a great, manic time.  I'm sure to come back with lots of pictures.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Original art alert! Naked Man at the Edge of Time, FUBAR, FF color guides and more!

I landed a few items of original art recently, so I might as well share 'em with the world.  And you, faithful reader.

First on the docket we have a few pages of pencil work from The Naked Man at the Edge of Time, our soon (for real)  These pages were drawn by Kurt Belcher, and they turned out really nice.  I picked a couple pages from the issue, notably this one, featuring...

...pants.  What a great word.

Kurt sent over some preliminary art as well as the final pencils.  The above page is an early version, in which the background was eventually replaced by what's below:

This artwork is on 8.5x11 inch paper...which means if I choose to frame it, it'll be a cinch.

Next up is art I own...of me.  Hooray for narcissism!  This piece by Steve Becker was drawn as a FUBAR Kickstarter reward a while back.  I finally got a chance to get the original art when I visited Jeff McComsey to pick up some books to take to Comic-Con.

A striking resemblance...minus the beard.  I'm thinking of hanging this in my office or something, just to confuse people.

Lastly, I got in a few more color guides that I enjoy so much (apparently).  I stuck, of course, with the Fantastic Four, but I branched out into some other books that (ah hem) featured members of the FF.  The cream of the crop is undoubtedly this one:

It's actually a page from an issue of Peter Parker: Spider-Man from the mid-2000s.  I remember reading the issue this came from and being a bit surprised, because the Thing wasn't in the book at all until the last page, and he didn't really serve to move the story along at all.  Spider-Man finishes his adventure and then HEY!  There's the Thing.  What I'm trying to say is, all books should end in this manner.

The next color guide comes from Fantastic Four #362, the second page I've got from this issue.  It's got that little guy from the Innerverse (or whatever) and three quarters of the FF.

The last one I bought is a page from The Avengers, from the time that Reed and Sue took some time away from the Fantastic Four and ended up with the Avengers for a few issues.  This page also has some decent images of Thor, Captain America and, hanging uncomfortably upside down, Firelord.

Okay, one more.  This isn't art, but it's close.  I got a Mego Thing in really nice shape.  It goes into the permanent collection, which includes everything I've ever bought.  It's not a very exclusive club.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Bag it and board it.

Well, I'm an uncle again, and once more my sister keeps naming these babies after pop culture figures.  Lilah Marie Quinn was born on July 14th and she is surely a cutie.  She was scheduled to be born right as I was leaving for Comic-Con, but thankfully she decided on a date that was a little earlier so I could get a chance to see her before shipping off.

So, for those of us keeping score, I've now got a nephew named Jacob (after Ben Grimm), another nephew named Logan (after Wolverine), and now a niece named Lilah, which is obviously a clever take on Leela from Futurama.

I'm sticking to that.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

2014 Comic-Con Tick exclusives

Comic-Con 2014 is nearly upon us, and boy do I have some preparations to do.  Lots of lettering, packing and last-minute planning is on the docket before next week.  But between now and then, there's some new Tick news to pass along!

I've been lucky enough to write the 2013 and '14 Free Comic Book issues of The Tick, and I'm happy to announce that my third issue of the book will released at Comic-Con itself in the form of an issue with an exclusive cover!  This one will be pretty limited - 250 copies in full.  Fortunately, I won't have to fight anyone to get a copy for myself as I'll, you know, be at the booth.  As far as I know, these will be on sale until they're not - meaning NEC is not going to hold books over from day to day.  I hope they story - drawn by FCBD artist Duane Redhead - goes over well.

A second, not-as-limited-but-I-guess-still-technically-limited edition will also be on sale at the show, but it's not exclusive to Comic-Con.  I believe these issues will be sold in NEC stores at any of the locations.  It's a 750-copy version, meaning the issue will have a total print run of...someone do the math for me.  The story inside is the same for both copies!

Duane also drew a really cool image for NEC's 2014 Comic-Con shirt.  This is obviously a Superman homage, and the 'chain' is made out of spoons.

There's also a new piece of Tick merchandise that'll be available at the show: a Tick mug that comes with its own detachable spoon!  I really like the design.

New England Comics will be located at booth 1807 on the convention floor.  I'll be at the booth at various points throughout the five-day event to sign comics, hock merchandise and hang out.  If you'll be at the show, stop by to say hello.