Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Spider-Man/Fantastic Four #2 original artwork by Mike Wieringo and Wade von Grawbadger!

I got some new original artwork recently, and this one is really something special.  It's a page from the 2007 mini-series Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four with art by Mike Wieringo and Wade von Grawbadger, and as you can see, there's a lot going on and a lot to like with this page.  Here's the cover to the issue from which it came:

I found the page on the ComicArtFans website and I knew that I had to grab it.  I've wanted to get a page of FF art by Wieringo for a number of years now, but they are increasingly difficult to find.  I got this one at a fair price and it's something that I'll keep forever.

Here's a little known story: I contacted Mike about drawing a cover to Teddy and the Yeti in 2007, just a week before he passed away quite suddenly.  I have no idea if he would have been able to draw the cover (I'm not sure of his contractual status at the time) or even if he would have been willing, but it was such a shock to learn that he died at such a young age.  At the time, I was looking at his website and through his pages of art for sale, and I found a point-of-view image of the Thing opening up his wallet from a recap page from his Fantastic Four run with Mark Waid that I remember so fondly.  The page wasn't very expensive but I didn't buy it, and I've regretted that decision ever since. So to come upon this page was a nice surprise and I'm happy to check that purchase off my list.

Wieringo's inker on his Fantastic Four run was Karl Kesel, and Kesel inked all of the story pages from blue line recreations, meaning that most of Wieringo's original FF art is pencil only.  The Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four mini series, though, brought inker Wade von Grawbadger into the mix, and pencils and inks were done on the same page, which makes this an extra special treat.

The page itself (21 of 22 in that issue) features the entire FF team plus some great shots of Spider-Man.  The Thing is in four different panels, people!!  But my favorite overall might be the shot of Reed and Sue hugging each other.  The Waid/Wieringo run, more than most others, captured perfectly the loving relationship between these two stalwart Marvel characters, and it's well-represented on this page.

And so my small collection of Fantastic Four original art grows by one.  What a page to add, though. It's a real treasure of cosmic proportions.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Pictures from the 2014 Comic-Con International, part 4 (Felicia Day, Rob Corddry, TMNT Pizza, Game of Thrones and more!)

More pictures from Comic-Con? Celebrity pictures from Comic-Con? Why yes! 

This batch is the first from Thursday, 7/24...the first "official" day of the show.

Just as I did in 2013, my first stop on Thursday morning was to Geek & Sundry, Felicia Day's gaming-themed event space.  Unlike last year, the place was incredibly crowded, packed from front to back, for as long as I stuck around.  This was a troubling theme for much of the show, one about which a solution is not readily apparent.  Many of the expansion events - places outside of the convention hall - did not require visitors to have Comic-Con badges to enter and attend.  At first this sounds like a great idea, one that spreads the wealth and allows more people to enjoy the events, especially if, say, they were able to get Comic-Con proper tickets on some days but not all of them.

The result, though, was just an incredible crush of humanity.  It was appreciably more crowded outside of the convention hall than the previous year and it was impossible to see many of the outside events.  As a result, many attendees with tickets stayed inside, making the convention floor, especially on Friday and Saturday, more unbearable than usual.

I'm not sure what the perfect answer is to this problem.  I'm not even sure there is an answer to make everyone happy or at least satisfied.  But having thousands more trying to fit into a relatively small space is not ideal by any means.  I see no reason that Comic-Con can't continue to grow and admit more people to all of the great attractions, but there needs to be a tenable plan as opposed to trying to squeeze more into the same space.  Who knows how this will all play out?

But back to the point at hand.  I really enjoy the idea behind Geek & Sundry and I'm always sad that I don't spend more time just hanging out.  Comic-Con is all about prioritizing as there's always something to do, and crowds often make it difficult to even get to outside events, but this small space is well worth it and I'm going to try to give some more time to this particular location in years to come.  Even though it was packed inside this year, it's still a low key event with appearances by none other than Felicia Day, she of Dr. Horrible fame.

Here's a nice picture of the two of us.  Here's me after I said "okay, we're gonna point at each other", and after Day probably said, to herself, "whatever, dude."  But it's a fun picture nevertheless with a lovely and talented actress and gamer.

After leaving Geek & Sundry, I made my way back to the interactive zone with one goal in mind: to score a slice of Pizza Hut's TMNT Pizza.  The concept of free food has not lost its appeal and I was lucky enough to get some pizza before the line got too long or the exhibit ran out of food.  The pizza, which was actually pretty good, came in this well designed box.  I managed to grab some of the promotional posters for the Ninja Turtles movie as well.

After I ate, it was time to get back to the convention center.  Here's BMO from Adventure Time.

And a pretty good Homer Simpson costume!

The Red Woman texts during this Game of Thrones picture, but my favorite was, of course, King Robert's beard.

Lady Shredder.  Great costume.  I wonder if she had to get the weapons on her arms approved before she got in...they were very realistic.

I'm not quite sure why Captain America's shield is missing its red stripes.  But this was a pretty decent Marvel ensemble, with '90s Cyclops, Cap, Jean Grey, Black Widow and Star-Lord.

Pirate dog.  Must have been a service dog of some sort to get in, or perhaps his costume fooled the convention floor workers.

I probably enjoyed this new Captain Marvel costume more than any other at the convention.  It's very book-specific and part of the comic book zeitgeist.

He's probably gonna wreck it.

Oh, it's the obligatory Comic-Con photo op from the escalator.  I get one every year.

While I was on said escalator, I saw these great Sherman and Mr. Peabody costumes.  I suppose these were on display because of the recent movie, but it was fun to see these old time cartoon characters represented in 2014.

See?  I told you the eyes opened.  I wonder what they do with this huge prop after the show ends.

Yes, the eyes of this White Walker lit up.  A very impressive prop in the media section of the convention floor.

And let's end with a shot of Children's Hospital star/Daily Show alumni Rob Corddry.  As I walked past and took this picture, I noticed that there were about two people waiting in line to get this actor's autograph.  I looked around and said, "uh...is there a line for this?" and a security guard looked at me as if I was the biggest idiot at the convention.  Okay, so it was a stupid question and I knew what the answer would be, but it never hurts to ask.  OH WELL.  Lots more to come.  Please hold your anticipation in check.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

A few thoughts on the Action Comics #1 eBay sale

A few days ago, I was flipping through some issues of DC's 1989 Star Trek series when I came across an ad for the Overstreet comic book price guide.  The ad made the bold claim that pristine copies of Superman #s 1-4, if they existed, could fetch $50,000 on the open market.  I thought to myself that if I could go back to my eight-year-old self in '89, I'd probably give him the 50 grand to invest in those copies (I'd also probably go and see UHF in theaters while I was there).  In light of the recent Action Comics eBay auction, it'd be money extremely well spent, as a beautiful copy of Action Comics #1 (probably the nicest copy in existence) just sold for a staggering $3.2 million plus.

To be fair, this wasn't just any comic, and it wasn't just any copy of this particular comic.  This is as close to the Holy Grail as you can get in this industry, and as we approach 80 years since its release, it's not like we're finding a whole lot more of these, or ones in better condition.  Still, the price tag on this comic - and the escalation of prices on similar Golden Age comics as a result - is fairly astounding.  Good for the multimillionaire or corporation that was able to add this to his/her/its collection.

As you might expect for an item expected to fetch seven figures, eBay rolled out the red carpet and advertised this auction like few others before it, including creating a comic book-themed introductory page with the pertinent information and an embedded video with interviews and even a soundtrack.

What I found a bit off-putting about this auction, to grumble just a bit, was the sense I got that the retailer selling it felt that he was somehow doing the world a favor by auctioning off this comic book treasure to the highest bidder.  He spoke of the book with awe and reverence one might expect from someone who enjoyed comics, but put on the airs of someone who was donating a lost DiVinci piece to the Louvre while doing so.  This is, of course, his right to do so and my reaction doesn't affect the nature of this one way or the other, but in some ways I would have appreciated it if we could have done away with the pretense and called, to turn a phrase, a spade a spade.

The video embedded at the top of this post is from the auction.  In it, the retailer discusses that a portion of the proceeds from this sale will go to the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, a worthy cause and certainly appropriate given the subject matter.  The fine print reveals that the portion is an entire one percent.  Naturally, the retailer didn't have to give a dime to this foundation.  But consider that eBay itself, just for lending the auction some server space, is going to get around 10 percent of the final value, a nice payday for those in charge.

My biggest gripe, because I suppose that's all these are, would stem from when the retailer mentions that he'd love it if a museum would be the highest bidder, giving the public an opportunity to share in this treasure.  A statement like that seems to be a bit disingenuous, because as incredible as this book may be, there's not a museum in the world that will pay over three million dollars for a comic, and more importantly, if he really wanted the book to land in a museum, he could have contacted one and sold it for a fair price.  Of course, he didn't really want the book to go to a museum; he wanted it to go to the highest bidder.

There's nothing wrong with wanting to sell something of this value with the intention of getting as much as you can for it.  But have the guts to come out and say it rather than putting on a false veneer of altruism.

Others seemed to jump on this gravy train soon afterwards, as eBay's "similar items" produced much more than I had expected for a book that has been out of circulation for 75 years.  Just looking at the thumbnails for most of the featured items reveals that many of these are obvious reprints of Action Comics #1 from the last 25 years, a few of which I own.  And yet there are price tags of over a hundred bucks on a few of these.  Get it while you can, I guess.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Pictures from the 2014 Comic-Con International, part 3: Preview Night...night

We're back again with more pictures from Comic-Con.  We're still on Preview Night, finishing up the convention and venturing out into San Diego in the evening.  Let's check it out!

This was one of the coolest displays at the show, as the dragon was partially animatronic.  The eyes opened at various points and glowed.

Oh, Sideshow...why do you make such great stuff?  You can't quite tell the scale here, but this Dr. Doom statue was around four feet tall.  An interesting thing about Sideshow is that while they have a large, prominent display at Comic-Con, they don't sell a single thing.  It's all just to look at.  I suppose it's a good enough marketing scheme that they keep coming back year after year.  I know if makes me want to buy their products.  Amazing how high-end collectibles have exploded over the last number of years.

I was fortunate enough to get a parking pass at the convention center for a few of the days.  I took the stairs back to my car afterwards to unload the things that I bought and I saw this vehicle parked close by.  They didn't just stick with the decal, though...the side of the car was similarly decorated, including the gas cap.  Dedication to Hydra, it seems.

There's a San Diego-area cinema makeup school that must see Comic-Con as an opportunity to market themselves...and when you get costumes like this, it's easy to see why.  I think the most impressive part of this New 52 Joker was the mouth; it moved naturally as he talked.

Time to cross the street.

The Gaslamp District always holds great events as it has a prime location in relation to the convention center.  One of the best is the Chuck Jones gallery and its display of high end comic and cartoon art.  Here's art based on the "How to Train Your Dragon" movie series.

The Interactive Zone blew up this year as compared to 2013.  Even though nothing was up and running on Preview Night, I walked over to check out what would be there.  Back again was the Adult Swim Funhouse.  It was the same thing as the year before, but if you've got something this big (and presumably expensive), you might as well get some more use out of it.

Next to the Adult Swim setup was a display of classic cars from the new Sin City movie, along with a backdrop from the city.

There wasn't a lot to the display beyond the cars on days when this was in use, but it was still very cool to see.

A Sleepy Hollow setup.  Interesting note: Sleepy Hollow films in Wilmington, North Carolina, former stomping grounds.

New addition to the Adult Swim area: Meatwad's dome.  Got a chance to go inside on Saturday night.

Pizza Hut was really promoting the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie at the show.  I got caught up in it for sure.  Here's a couch made entirely out of pizza boxes.  You could sit on it and put your feel up on the pizza box coffee table.

One of the highlights of the Interactive Zone, for me, anyway, was the TMNT pizza launcher.  It was functional and you could sit on top and launch fake pizzas out of it.  It was still being worked on into the early hours of Thursday morning.  I had a chance this night to meet the guy who was in charge of the team that build this monstrosity.  We talked for a few minutes about what went into it, and he seemed very excited about, well, my excitement.

As luck would have it, four guys in different TMNT shirts waked by as I was looking at the pizza launcher, and I was able to get this picture.  Pizza Hut apparently thought it was a great advertisement, and they used the image on their Twitter account.  Cowabunga.

After wandering away from the Interactive Zone, we went deeper into the city.  One of the places we visited was the Barcade, a combination of...a bar and an arcade.  Here we see a giant Jenga set, which soon afterwards toppled over with a loud crash.

At the end of the night, we came back to the parking lot to find people already camped out for the next day.  Many were sleeping and most of those awake looked miserable.  But this is what you have to do if you want to be first in line at Comic-Con, I guess.

Next up: Thursday!

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: http://plasticfarm.tumblr.com/post/95728114187/black-terror-wednesday-at-the-diner-written-by

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 fun...pictures 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.