Saturday, April 28, 2012

Pictures from the 2012 Pittsburgh Comicon, part 3

Back again, huh?  Well, like it or not, it's time for the final installment of pictures from the 2012 Pittsburgh Comicon.  If you'd like to see more...just keep scrolling down the page.  Seriously, there are two other posts with pictures and they're right below this one.  Anyway, our first picture is of the booth.  And who's that handsome, possibly bearded gentleman behind a Venture Bros. henchman mask?  Telling would be defeating the purpose of a mask, eh?


Here's a shot from the convention floor, right in front of the FUBAR/215 corner booth.  It looks like there's going to be a showdown between the Pink Power Ranger and the guy in the Steelers jacket.  My money's on Mr. Steeler.

Here's an unexpected treat - from the Tick universe comes a Chainsaw Vigilante costume!  And a decent one at that.  I struck up a conversation with this girl and we talked about the costume, the character, and his short-lived (but surprisingly good) series from New England Comics.  The funny thing is that I could barely understand what she said because of her mask.

What's even better about this very nicely put together costume is the fact that I'll bet a lot of people just think it's a female Captain America costume this woman came up with, when in fact it's modeled after the character American Dream from the MC2 Spider-Girl universe.  Her shield was really impressive.

Here's a random picture of the Stan Lee line.  It was like this at almost any point in the day on Saturday and the first half of Sunday.

Here I am, trying to look cool alongside the already cool Antonio Crespo.  The booth next to ours was abandoned all weekend, so on Sunday, Tony laid claim to half of it and sold some prints of his work.  He drew a really cool entry into my Thing sketchbook, which I've scanned and will show off at a later date.

And after the show ended, I ran over Jeff McComsey with a hand cart.  Those are the casualties of convention warfare.

I did manage to pick up some swag at the show.  Barry Kitson made an appearance - I can't remember him being in attendance at previous shows in Pittsburgh - and I got him to sign a few books: two from his 1990s Adventures of Superman run and an issue of a Fantastic Four miniseries.

Kitson was drawing free full body, penciled, inked and watercolored sketches for anyone in attendance.  This was such a grand gesture on his part, but I didn't end up with one, unfortunately.  If you wanted a sketch badly enough, you had to wait in line literally for hours to get it.  When I inquired about it, I was told that I would have to wait roughly seven hours in line.  You paid for this art, the thinking was, with your time, and you couldn't leave the line and come back when it was your turn - you had to stay with it for the long haul.

Those who stuck it out got some beautiful artwork and, seemingly, some new friendships with the fellow line warriors they stood with for hours on end.  If I wasn't at the show with a booth, I might have decided to try my stamina, but since I was at the show to sell things, I couldn't get away for more than 20 or so minutes at a time, and thus didn't have nearly enough free time to devote to this.  Even so, I'm sure that those who made it through have a treasured piece of art and some fun stories to tell in the balance.

I also picked up Astonishing Tales #5 and thus I now have the first eight issues of the series.  These issues each featured Dr. Doom as the headliner and co-star.  Now that I've got 'em all, I can finally sit down and read them in order, so I'm looking forward to that.

I believe that with this purchase, I have every issue of every series with Doom's name in the title, or where he starred/co-starred.  So this includes recent titles like Books of Doom, '90s titles like Doom 2099 and earlier books like the above series and Super-Villain Team-Up.  Of course, I didn't even know about Astonishing Tales until a few years ago, so I could be wrong.  Even so, it's something I've been working toward for a while.

At the end of the show one day, I saw SteelMan driving home, in full costume, on his motorcycle.  I wondered where SteelDog was, but then I saw her in the car trailing the bike.  Funny stuff.

I heard some retailers openly wonder about the show's future at the end of the day on Sunday, with one saying that he hadn't heard anything about a 2013 show and was going to approach someone about it soon if no one told him anything.  When I thought about it, I realized that in years past, someone from the show would make his or her rounds and hand out flyers with next year's date on it.  This year that never happened, though at 5:00 on Sunday, when the show officially closed, Renee George (I think), one of the show's coordinators, got on the intercom and proudly pronounced "we'll see you next year!"

I'm not sure if this means that convention is in any danger of not returning next year, and I certainly can't speculate on what's happening on their end.  For me, though, it was obvious that the 2012 Pittsburgh Comicon was the slowest show I had been to in a while.  Whether this was true or not, or just my perspective, I can't say.  I hope that the show returns, because Pittsburgh should have a well-attended comic convention.  The region may not be able to support an A-level show like New York or even, well, Philadelphia, but it should be able to have a moderately sized, fan-friendly show.  If there is a show next year, I'll be there.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Pictures from the 2012 Pittsburgh Comicon, part 2

It's a new day, and that means more pictures from the recently concluded 2012 Pittsburgh Comicon!  Let's get it going:

We start today's pictures with another X-23 costume.  This one reflects the current comic book costume...and I'll say that the girl posing here even looks like her comic counterpart.  She did a nice job with the claws.

After hours, people mess up random booths at shows.  You know this, right?  This is why you never leave anything irreplaceable at a convention overnight.  This act of violence isn't quite random,'s the FUBAR booth, and here I am pretty much literally lifting the veil after hours one night. Take that, security!


Here's a kid who knows what time it is...I enjoyed this Thing costume immensely.  I tried to hand this guy a free copy of a Fantastic Four annual as he walked by the booth, but he would have none of it, almost running away rather than speaking to me.  Oh well.  Check out the lady in the background!  She is either a very concerned parent or someone who does not understand where she is or what is happening.

These two girls had a few costumes for the show.  I know the the girl on the right was also Aquagirl (or a female version of Aquaman...either way) on Saturday.  You don't see many Silver Sable costumes at conventions.  The Domino costume was pretty good, too.

This guy made his Batman costume out of what felt like old tires.  I'm sure that's not the material he used, but still.  He did a great job at making it realistic.

We called this guy over to the booth, and reminded us to "watch it with the B word!"  He was in character the whole show and really did a superb job all around.  You can tell the girl in the background was probably too young to ever see the movie.  She was not impressed.  She should have been!

Stan Lee made appearances on both Saturday and Sunday.  This was taken on Sunday, when he signed comics just a few booths over from mine.  People were taking pictures and gawking the whole time.  Stan is such a celebrity and people get giddy whenever he's in the room, and I'm no exception.  After he was done signing (at $40 a pop, no less), he walked past me.  All I could muster was a "Stan!  All right!"  Like that was a coherent thought and something he could respond to.  Oh well.

Video game Scarecrow.  The bodybuilder woman in the background took several pictures with him, and in a few he pretended to stab her in the ass with his needle fingers.  It was weird.

There's so much going on in this picture.  I think the guy on the left is from the Mass Effect video game, and we've already seen Macho Man and Batman & Robin.  If what I heard was correct, the guy dressed as Batman made both he Mass Effect and Robin costume as well as his own.  Quite handy!

I don't ever see a lot of Masters of the Universe costumes at conventions, for some reason.  Here's Orko and Ram Man, both of which are really well done.  I love Ram Man's armor!  Kinda weird that he's wearing sneakers and didn't complete the outfit.

I've still got more pictures to show, so I'll (probably) wrap it up with one more installment.  See you then!  Not literally.  I can't actually see you looking at these online.  That's probably a good thing.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Pictures from the 2012 Pittsburgh Comicon, part 1

The 2012 Pittsburgh Comicon has come and gone, and now all that's left are the tales to tell and the pictures to show.  It was a fun time and I appreciate all of you who came out and stopped for a little bit at the Wagon Wheel Comics booth.  Conventions, especially smaller ones such as the Pittsburgh show, can get lonely in the small press section, so it was great to see everyone who said hello, bought a comic, or just stared, frightened and confused, as they walked on by.

Let's get to the picture showing, already!  At the top is the first of two attendees I saw dressed up as X-23, Wolverine's girl clone, and both were very well done.  The addition of the "foot claw" was nice.

The Batmobile (referred to as the "Gotham Supercar") from the 1960s tv show was on hand and it was looking spiffy.  For ten bucks you could get your picture taken inside the car.  For no bucks you could take pictures with your iPhone real quick and hope no one noticed.

You don't see too many Dr. Doom costumes at conventions, and you see even fewer ones that are well done.  This certainly counts as a good Doom costume.  I asked the man inside about his armor - he said that he made much of it himself.  Pretty impressive!  Oh, and later on, I found out that I went to college with the girl in the background in the purple pullover.

The cape was a little stiff, but otherwise, this was a fantastic costume.  Whoever was underneath had the right build for Batwoman and she did a great job at making the suit.  I'll never understand why the character from the comics is so pale - is she an albino?  Does she paint herself?  Regardless, the face paint was a nice touch and it really added to what was an incredible costume.

Speaking of body paint, here's an Orion Starfleet cadet straight from the new Star Trek movie.  In the original series (and furthered by Enterprise), Orion women were portrayed as slaves (with an interesting twist) who danced provocatively.  I wonder what the story is with Uhura's roommate.

Pirate Deadpool!  With sneakers.

This guy even has a general Robert Downy, Jr. look to him.  He apparently showed up too late for the costume contest on Sunday, which is a shame (I guess), because he almost certainly would have taken home a prize.  Costumes in general were top notch over the weekend.  A small show like Pittsburgh's doesn't usually draw this many meticulously detailed costumes, from what I've seen in the past, but the attendees really outdid themselves this year.

It took me a while to get the meaning behind this guy's shirt, but once I did...YES!  Bravo.  Apparently, a lot of people were coming up with Dark Crystal comparisons, but those are incorrect!

The pot always makes or breaks this classic Red Tornado costume.  This one is pretty good.  Also, the girl in the back (with the pink hair) worked on an animated music video for "Weird Al" Yankovic, forever cementing her in the category of "people I admire until I die and even then probably longer".

Jeff McComsey and Stephen Lindsay were at the show hawking FUBAR and 215 Ink products (and a few other things).  This picture proves that yes, they did actually sell stuff, unless Jeff here was just making change for a passerby.  These guys got a corner booth near the entrance and had a nice display going on.  After the show on Saturday, we had dinner and talked FUBAR and comics in general.  It was a great time out.

I'll stop with this picture, because it'll be difficult for others to live up to what's happening here.  The guy on the left is sporting a really well done, Alex Ross-inspired Batman suit.  On the right we have Larry, dressed up (for the second time, even!) as Macho Man Randy Savage.  Check out the belt!  It's great quality and is really heavy.

There are more pictures to show, so stick around for the next few days (if not, you know, longer) to see more great costumes and other images and stories from the 2012 Pittsburgh Comicon.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

"Weird Al" Yankovic's "UHF" Six Panel Cinema

Back when the FUBAR 2 Kickstarter fundraiser was under way, I pledged much more than I had originally intended because one of the rewards was too enticing for me to pass up (I suppose that this is what makes some Kickstarter projects successful and others not).  The reward in question was a "Six Panel Cinema" page by none other than FUBAR head honcho Jeff McComsey.  The idea behind Six Panel Cinema is simple, yet brilliant - you take a movie and whittle it down to its six most important or memorable scenes.  Jeff has given a number of movies the six panel treatment, most of which can be seen here:

I jumped at the chance to choose one for myself, and it should come as no surprise that I chose "Weird Al" Yankovic's 1989 classic, UHF.  I'm a big fan of Al's and the movie is one of the highlights of his career.

After I paid up, I buckled down and watched the movie one more time, choosing the six scenes you see depicted in the image above.  It was tough going with only six - there are so many more important scenes (and I wanted to include a panel of the Money for Nothing/Beverly Hillbillies music video, but alas...).  Other than a cameo in the last panel, I completely cut out Victoria Jackson's character, and that's a shame.  But I did manage to work in most of the other main characters and, ultimately, I think that I chose the most important scenes.  I'm very happy with the way this turned out.

I told Jeff that I wanted to letter the page when it was finished, and he was gracious enough to turn it over to me for that purpose - I had to be involved with the creative process in some capacity.  I also took the opportunity to hand draw the UHF movie logo.  I'm no artist and what I ended up with isn't perfect, but it's my honest best and a tribute to just how much I like UHF and how much of a fan I am of Al and pretty much anything he does (check out his great new web series, "Face to Face"!).

I also colored a version, using the original movie poster colors:

In the end, we used colors that matched the theme of the rest of the page, which was the right choice.  Jeff and I also chose Lee-and-Kirby-style nicknames from the movie.  I went with "roooad maps!" and Jeff took "dog snot" - I was tempted to use the entire "festering bowl of dog snot" line, but perhaps simpler is better.

This is the second comic featuring Weird Al I've been involved in.  Last year I worked with Adrian "Bago" Gonzalez in creating "Accordion Theory", which I mention at every opportunity.  I can't help it.  Whatever.

Anyway, this Six Panel Cinema will find its way over to my webcomics section before too long, where it'll live forever in reverence.  I hope that you, faithful readers, enjoy this short comic.  And if Al finds this via a web search for himself...hi, buddy!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Fearless FUBAR FCBD flyer!

Who likes alliteration?  We all do, so you're welcome.  The following is a fiery FUBAR update for the Free Comic Book Day festivities.

The final tally for the FUBAR/215 Ink Kickstarter fundraiser was a fantastic $3,512 - more than three times the initial goal.  This means that the books will be sent out to more shops across the nation (and also Canada, I believe).  To that, the flyer you see above was created as a primer for retailers who might like to carry these books.  Mind you, these books are 100% free to comic shops, so the hope is that retailers will, in fact, want to carry these books.  The flyer highlights the main stories of the two books and gives an overview of the project in general.

In the next week, I'll be passing out this flyer to a few shops in the area that I hope will join in for the event.  If there's anyone out there who is reading this and would like to get a copy of the books but isn't sure if a shop is participating, you can print out the above flyer and hand it to the owner of your favorite shop.  Let me reiterate - these books are free to retailers, so there's no reason we shouldn't have a great response.  The only reason we won't mail out all of our books is if retailers don't know about the offer and thus don't ask for a package.  I'll do my part in southwestern PA; if you're from pretty much anywhere else, ask your retailer to contact Jeff McComsey at the e-mail address listed on the flyer.  Free Comic Book Day is less than a month away!

Monday, April 9, 2012

A short review of "Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope"

The Morgan Spurlock-directed documentary, "Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope" premiered last week in a few cities around the country; through the miracle of science (and the Playstation store), I downloaded and watched this movie on Friday with Larry, co-creator of Franks and Beans and fellow 2012 Comic-Con attendee.  With the convention nearing, this seemed like the perfect primer for what is to come, and I'd been excited to see the film since watching the trailer not too long ago.

In short, the film was exciting and enjoyable, and it did a good job at presenting the convention from a number of different perspectives, each capturing the excitement of what it is to have a dream and then confronting that dream at the pop culture convention in San Diego.

While the film includes a number of confessional-like interviews with Hollywood celebrities (Joss Whedon, Olivia Wilde), comic professionals (Stan Lee, Tim Bradstreet) and other well-know individuals, it mainly centered around attendees of the show, each of them looking for something slightly different.  It included a pair of would-be comic book artists looking to show off portfolios, a group of costume designers, comic retailers, as well as some collectors and fans just looking to buy things or see specific panels.

I was stunned, about ten minutes into the film, to recognize one of the people being followed.  I (very) briefly met Ashley from Mile High Comics at the New York Comic-Con, and we've spoken a few times since, though not about anything noteworthy.  At the time I didn't know she worked for Mile High, but after seeing the movie it's obvious that she's got an important role in the company.  It was strange to see someone I recognized - especially without expecting it - but I found that at least on three other occasions I saw people I had seen at other conventions.  The field of comics is really an insular one.

The film did a good job at capturing the individual nature of each person it followed.  It was tough for me to follow the two artists, both hoping to land a gig drawing a book, because I was certain, having gone through the submission process before, as to how their stories would end (I was right about both, but Skip Harvey's fall from grace was particularly hard to watch, and at one point I thought he was going to throw himself off of a pier).

Once, while a segment on an artist played, Larry paused the movie, turned to me and remarked that it was a shame the film didn't follow a writer along with an artist, and he had a point.  But as I explained, someone looking to write for comics going to Comic-Con would meet with the following scenario again and again: "Hi," the writer would say, "I'd like to write for comics."  Whoever was on the other end of the conversation would immediately scream, "F%$& YOU, BUDDY!" and go about his or her business.  This, while initially entertaining, would not make for much good footage.

I am obviously biased when it comes to this, but it would have been interesting if the film had followed a small press creator or team looking to sell a book at the show.  I understand that the film ran somewhere around 90 minutes in length, and that there are lots of different people who come to Comic-Con for different reasons, but this one aspect was completely glossed over, and I'll imagine that there's every bit of emotion and anxiety involved at a small press booth that there is with an artist or designer or fan.

Overall, this was a worthwhile dissection of pop culture fandom.  One overlying theme was the show's transformation from a small comics-only convention to the pop culture monster it has become today, and more than one person expressed a little bit of dismay at how comics have become secondary to all of the Hollywood glamour, and it would have been interesting to see the film actually deal with those concerns in some way.  Perhaps there is no answer as the change is still ongoing, but I found it strange that this particular plot thread was left unfulfilled.

I'd recommend this documentary to anyone who enjoys comics and is interested in the mystic nature that is Comic-Con International.  This is certainly not a complete work, but it does enough to satisfy for 90 minutes.  I wonder if the "stars" of this film will be at the 2012 version of Comic-Con, and what treatment they will receive.  It would be fun to see them on the floor and see how others react.  This was, I'm sure, an exhilarating experience for those involved, and I enjoyed watching their stories play out on film.  We'll see what 2012 brings.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Ye olde photo dump

I recently traded in my old phone (from a carrier that no longer exists, if that tells you anything) for a new iPhone, and I'm really happy with pretty much everything about it.  I can check my e-mail constantly, play Pac Man, keep up on the Pirates and their 20th consecutive losing season...oh, and it also makes phone calls (quaint)!

One of the things I like most about the phone is the camera.  It's an eight megapixel and it's very convenient.  Of course, every time I look at the thumbnails, I see a handful of pictures I should really just delete, but darn it, I'm saving them for the blog to show at some point.  I figure that I've got enough that I should just show them all at once (and finally do some spring cleaning in the camera roll).

At the very top of this page you'll find the official Comic-Con magazine, mailed out a couple months ago.  It's a neat preview of this year's show...and judging by the cover, I'd imagine that the new Spider-Man movie might have a big presence there.  It's pretty cool.

It was my birthday recently, and once again, Google eerily wished me well on the day.  It's a cute gesture, but really, does anyone else get a little weirded out by the fact that Google seemingly goes out of its way to make this personal note?  Thanks in any case, Google.

I just polished off the last piece of birthday cake from Dairy Queen.  I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but the price of an ice cream cake is exactly $20.99.  No one else finds this funny, but I do.

On an recent trip to Bridgeville, PA's Impossible Dreams comics, I took a picture of the store.  You're welcome, Google images!

I was browsing through Evil Genius Comics in California, PA, when someone brought in a box of old comics they bought at a garage sale.  There were some nice books in the collection, though most of them were in pretty bad shape, including this copy of Incredible Hulk #180, which has the first appearance of Wolverine in it.  It's only a cameo, but it still goes for a good bit of money in good condition.  The guys who work there were nice enough to let me take a picture with it.  I was going for "flippant".  How'd I do?

I was directed to the blog TMNT Master, which has turned out to be a site that sucks up large chunks of my time.  It's just mesmerizing.  So when I saw the sign that said "the shredder is dead!" at work, I had to add an image of my own to complete the picture.  If someone would like to make those at TMNT Master aware of this, I'd be okay with that.  Very okay.  Extremely okay.  You get the idea.

This isn't a picture I took, just a random image I found online.  And it's hilarious.  It looks like Rick is on the phone and the horse is taking a break between shots.  Fantastic.

There we go.  My phone thanks you for the following post.  Now I can delete all of these pictures.  Well, the TMNT one probably stays.