Thursday, January 29, 2015

Megaton Man: Rebirth @ Half-Life comic art gallery in Brownsville

Don Simpson's "Megaton Man" is one of the greatest superhero spoofs to ever be put to paper, and I was a bit surprised when I learned that Simpson was going to have an art showing in, of all places, my hometown of Brownsville, PA.  It turns out, unbeknownst to me until I arrived at the Frank L. Melega art museum, housed at the Flatiron Building, that Simpson is a Pittsburgh native.

It's unusual to have something like this show up in Brownsville, so Larry and I took the short trip a few weeks back and caught a glimpse of the show.

The gallery includes an impressive display of Megaton Man artwork, with a few other items sprinkled in for good measure.

Simpson himself was at the gallery when the show opened.  I would have loved to have been there, but it coincided with the New York Comic-Con, which was a shame.

There were a couple reference to the Tick at the show.  It's hard not to see parallels between the two characters, and I got the impression that maybe Simpson wasn't too fond of the blue guy (Megaton Man showed up a few years before The Tick).  Obviously, I think there's room for more than one superhero parody on the market.

Interestingly enough, there was some art from the War of the Independents miniseries at the show.  I had all but given this series up for dead, as the series has been on quite the hiatus.  But it seems that Simpson himself is drawing the fourth issue, and that it'll be released this summer.  See here is a print and what I believe a cover for War of the Independents, featuring both Megaton Man and the Tick.

I'll admit that I hadn't read much of Megaton Man before going to the show.  Indy comics from the mid-80s don't often show up in the back issue bins I sort through.  But I decided to grab the 10-issue first series online and I have to say - it's got its moments of brilliance.  The relationship between Megaton Man and Stella Starlight is complicated, deep and sometimes tortured.  I soon after picked up the followup "Return of Megaton Man" and I'm working my way toward the '90s Image crossover titles (one issue of note that's on its way to me currently: "Yarn Man", a secondary Megaton Man character and Thing parody).

Also worth mentioning is Simpson's "Border Worlds" series, which I also picked up and quickly consumed.  It's a very ambitious sci-fi concept that I also enjoyed very much.

Near the back of the gallery, almost hidden, was a display of some bigger pieces, and art from Simpson's own collection.

Included in this collection are a few pages of original Fantastic Four art from John Romita.  Needless to say, it was just incredible.

The gallery was supposed to have ended by now, but according to Simpson himself, it's been extended to run into if you haven't seen it yet, there's still time!  Do yourself a favor and, if you're from my part of town, go and see this great gallery.  Here's the address:

69 Market St., Brownsville, PA 15417

I'd love to see a Tick/Megaton Man crossover happen one day.  Maybe Simpson, who recently got his PhD (!) from the University of Pittsburgh, will hit a few more conventions in the coming months and years.  I'd love to meet the guy.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Pictures from the 2014 Comic-Con International, part 8

Who is still posting pictures from Comic-Con 2014?  Me!  I am!  Deal with it!

These pictures are all from different points on the Saturday of the show.  It was a big costume day!  Saturday was also the day of the "Weird Al" Yankovic panel and signing, which took up a big portion of my day...I'll post those images next.  In the meantime, here's a Yvonne Craig Batgirl costume/person underneath the costume!

I thought that this was a good view to get the Home Dome in perspective.  This was taken from the parking garage across the street from the convention center.  It was a huge structure!  I wonder what they did with it after the show was over...did they bulldoze the thing or is it being stored in someone's garage?

I don't know if there are comic book versions of these costumes.  They still must have taken a lot of time and skill to put together.  I approve.

Adventure Time always has a large presence at conventions.  It's a show - similar to the Venture Bros. in this regard - that lends itself to costuming.  Here's an episode specific, flashback Ice King.  Love the glasses.

These folks dressed up as the comic book Walking Dead - hence the black and white getups.  Comic Rick told me that their son had dressed up as Carl (Carrrrrrl...), but he was in the bathroom.  After waiting for about five minutes for Carl to show up, I took the picture and went on my way.

This guy was being interviewed I walked by.  The guy with the microphone asked something along the lines of "what made you decide to go as the Silver Surfer?"  The obvious answer was because he had the body type for it, and everyone agreed.

You've got to get a shot of the convention center and surrounding area when you cross the bridge over Harbor Drive to the Petco Park area.  This was one of a few I took.

...and here's another.

I spent some time at the New England Comics booth every day, and I got the chance to people watch, which doesn't happen very often as you're often too purpose-driven to really see everything that's going on around you.  This individual told me that she did this makeup job herself, which was impressive.  It looked even better up close.

Apparently I cannot take clear pictures of Grae Drake from Rotten Tomatoes.  She stopped by the NEC booth and we talked again for a bit.  Again, great MST3K costume.

Here's the convention center...but wait...look closely at the middle of the image.  It made my day.

On the way to the Weird Al panel, I got stopped (as is often the case) waiting to cross the street.  While waiting I met Rorschach from Watchmen.

The Walking Dead, of course, had a huge presence at the show.  Across the street from the convention center was a building set up to look like Terminus.

You could take your picture by the sign and enter to win some prizes.

A few blocks away, this thing comes barreling down the road (note: not barreling like in the movie).  I'm not sure if this van was outfitted like this as an official promotion of the Dumb and Dumber sequel, but it was appreciated nonetheless.

Great job with this.  More pictures (of course) to come!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Blender Magazine: The Tick and Ben Edlund on CD-ROM

I picked up a Tick oddity a few months back: a copy of the the CD-ROM magazine, "Blender", from back in the mid-'90s.  The date explains why in the world anyone would try to publish a CD-ROM magazine, I suppose...I'm sure it seemed like a good idea at the time but it comes off as a little ridiculous now.  Were you supposed to save every one?  Imagine a shelf full of these next to, say, National Geographic or something.

The content for this, uh, issue, was just about as '90s centric as you can get ("that Minnie Driver is the next big thing!!"), but it's interesting to see that among all of these real-life people, The Tick gets the cover and top billing on this second issue of volume two from 1996.  The technological limitations - the CD is pretty obsolete almost twenty years later - kept me from reading the issue as it was meant to be read.  Luckily, I was able to go in and pull out some files that looked relevant.  I didn't feel like going through the same hassle to learn about Gwar, for some reason, so I don't know just all that was included on this disc, but the image on the back cover gives us some clues:

So apparently this issue of Blender Magazine covered such diverse topics as sex, death, politics and religion.  I'm sure the writers gave a definitive take on each subject and that's why there's no more to be said in their regard.  Thanks for getting the heavy topics out of the way for us all, writers of Blender.

The CD itself is probably as detailed as 1996 could offer.  It's like a dang spin art wheel.

At the center of the CD is a tiny Tick symbol.  The Blender staff really must have been fans.

The problem with computer technology from this period is that it's been obsolete for so long that it's difficult to recover any of the files.  When I put the CD in my iMac's drive (an external drive to boot, as Apple is phasing out CD/DVD drives on their new models), I found these files, with what must have been super awesome graphics back in '96:

I have to admit that I was a little worried about putting in the disc in the first place.  I kind of thought that my computer might blow up just from trying to read the disc.  But then I'm confronted with a skull and crossbones icon and two "blendme" icons (one for PowerMac!) and I felt even more trepidation.  But I had got that far so I figured that I might as well keep going.

Clicking on the "Blender" icon took me to a list of files, each labeled by subject.  I found a handful of short videos that contained interviews with a young Ben Edlund, and in each he talks about one aspect of The Tick (yes, there's one file titled "".  I was almost too terrified to click on it), both the cartoon and the comic.  I think Edlund would have been about 27 in these videos.  His sweater is pretty rad.

It seems apropos that an electronic magazine's articles would consist of video clips.  Perhaps there was also a text feature that went along with it, but I didn't stumble upon any nor did I poke around too much.  But I was able to take the various video clips and slap them together.  I uploaded them onto YouTube afterwards and voilà, now it's preserved on the Internets for generations to come, or at least until YouTube becomes as obsolete as Blender Magazine.

Take a peek:

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Christmas haul, 2014

These posts make me seem superficial, I'll bet.  But what better place to show off the stuff I got for Christmas?  It is a conundrum, I tell you.  Off we go!

I got some great comics and comic-related items this year.  I finally picked up the Fantastic Four cartoon series on DVD.  From what I remember, it wasn't a great adaptation, but I hear that the second season is actually pretty good.  We'll see.  I also got a copy of Jennie Wood's new book, "A Boy Like Me!"  Jennie's doing a lot of promotion for this book, so I'm happy to be able to grab one.  You can get one, too, here:

I got a bunch of DVDs.  You know I've managed to get most of the shows I actually want to watch when I start asking for shows like the 1990s Flash TV series.  It's fun to have but I'll put it in the player and probably immediately regret the decision.  I also landed the complete Caprica series, True Detective and the reissue version of The Tick live-action series.  It's basically the same as the one I already have, but this is a one disc release.  Now you can hit "play all" and watch 'em all in a row without that pesky task of changing discs.

I only got a couple comics for Christmas, but I'd like to think that I did a good job at the ones I did get.  On the left is a reprint of a DC Treasury book from the '70s.  It features some great creators, most notably Joe Kubert.  The content is watered down a bit for a younger audience but it's still a treat to read.  On the right is the second volume of the gigantic Sandman collection from Neil Gaiman.  I got the first volume last year.  Each volume contains over a thousand pages and, if I'm not mistaken, the entire Gaiman run on the character (until last year's prequel miniseries).

I'm not sure if the picture does this justice.  It's a huge collection.  I've never read this series, but now I can read it in style, I guess.

It's not Christmas without a few new Steelers items.  I got a hat for the top of my body and socks for the bottom.

Larry and I went to the playoff game at the beginning of the new year.  It was disappointing.  But the Ravens lost last week so they can officially eat it.

I got some electronics...most notably a GoPro camera.  I imagine this will be used for both Comic-Con and Franks and Beans.  I also got a new flash drive and a 2TB backup hard drive.

Funko has the license to every brand in the world.  Here's a Firefly bobble head.

Every December, Gallery 1988 has a sale on their prints.  I got these two for myself, but they're too cool not to show off.  They are both limited, high quality prints.  Of course I go for the Weird Al prints, of which there are many.  This year I picked up two with a UHF theme.

This blue poster had a run of 200.  This one was a bit more rare.

Only 12 made.  Yikes.

This was an eBay find...but still too cool not to show here.  This is a postcard that was given out in advance of the movie's release in 1989 advertising a sneak preview at a college campus in California.

Larry got me some cool things this year.  Anyone can now pretty much dress up entirely like the Thing, thanks to the new jacket.  Grab the fists and feet that were made for the first movie and you're well on your way.  Please note that my dog totally did not see that clobberin' coming.

Lastly, we have this Fantastic Four storybook from the late '60s.  It's part of a series of licensed kids books, and Larry managed to get one that's in pretty nice shape.  It was made for younger readers, but now, of course, it's a collector's item.  Nearly ever page spread has some art, such as...

...the Thing beating up a chair.  Or...

...the Thing beating up Dr. Weird, who I think was created just for the book.  It's goofy madness, but I love it.

But my best gift of all was you, dear blog reader.  Okay, I'm kidding (but only a little).  Take your pick from these pictures.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Pictures from the 2014 Comic-Con International: part 7 (Venture Bros., Homer Dome, Walking Dead Escape and more!)

Friday was a busy day at Comic-Con.  Okay, every day's a busy day at Comic-Con, but this one seemed especially packed, and I did more at night on Friday than on other nights.  After the awesome Rotten Tomatoes after-show panel, it was out onto the streets for attendees.

On the way, though, I saw this great Archer tribute.  The guy dressed as Krieger really looked the part.

The Lone Ranger and Tonto!

As I've mentioned before, the Simpsons had a large presence at the show, mostly because of the "Every Simpsons Ever" event.  The Homer Dome and related setups were some of the most elaborate and in-demand off-site attractions at Comic-Con.  The folks at FXX seemed to pay a lot of attention to detail and I'm sure Simpsons fans were happy for everything but the extremely long lines.

In addition to the dome, which you could go inside and watch every Simpsons episode at once, there was free food, photo opportunities and giveaways at all times the convention was open.  I didn't brave the lines during the day (though I did get some Marge Simpson cotton candy on Sunday), so I took some pictures at night, on the way to one of the adjoining hotels.

Even though the exhibit was blocked off after hours, people were still climbing in and taking pictures with the characters.

It was then time to attend the Venture Bros. party, put together by the folks at the Venture Bros. blog. If you've never seen the show before, it would seem to be quite difficult (and awkward) to explain the above picture, but suffice it to say that I was very excited to see some of the very elaborate costumes at the party, probably none more so than the episode specific Princess Tinyfeet you see above.  Also featured in this picture is the sunburn on the top of my damn head from earlier in the day (so stupid).

Everyone was given henchmen masks upon entering the lounge, but like true Venture Bros. fans, we brought our own.  Jennie really pulled off the look well, despite putting up a fuss about wearing it in the first place.

The murderous Bettie Rage!

The Outrider!

After a while, it was time for a group photo with all who were in costume.  Look at this lineup!

And then James Urbaniak, the voice of Dr. Venture, showed up and got in on some of the pictures.

Sergeant Hatred and Princess Tinyfeet didn't show up together, but they made the most of the opportunity and of course took pictures like this one.

I didn't run the Walking Dead Escape again this year (seriously, once is enough), but I took a photo opportunity with these two dead cheerleaders.  The makeup at the event is top notch (for an obstacle course).  I just got a GoPro camera, so maybe I'll do this again in 2015 and wear the camera, even though I JUST got done saying that "once is enough".  We'll see.

After getting some food, it was time to go to bed for a while.  On the way back to the car, we passed by another event: Syfy was screening the new Sharknado movie...on the side of a building.  Sharknado was big at Comic-Con this year, and everyone seemed to be in on the joke.  There's always something to do at Comic-Con.

More pictures to come.