Monday, March 23, 2015

"Weird Al" Yankovic's UHF movie screening, 5/31 in Greensburg, PA

Hey folks, it's been a long time coming, but I am finally ready to reveal my very first Kickstarter project: I'm screening a copy of "Weird Al" Yankovic's 1989 classic film "UHF" in Greensburg, PA on Sunday, May 31st.

If you've ever looked at this blog for at least one second, you probably realize that I'm a big fan of "Weird Al" Yankovic and all of the different projects that he undertakes.  UHF marks his only foray into moviemaking (for now) and it has become a cult classic in the years since its release.  Last year was the 25th anniversary of the film, and this year is the beginning of the Mandatory Fun tour, so I thought it'd be fun to put the two together and show the film before Al's May 31st stop in Greensburg.

The movie will be held at Latrobe 30 Theatre and Cafe, which is about 10 miles from Greensburg.  My hope is that fans will want to see the movie in the afternoon before going to see the concert later in the evening.

On this page I've posted a number of the Kickstarter rewards.  Directly above is an image for the full size movie poster, a 27x40 affair with art by Adrian "Bago" Gonzalez.  I'm really taken by it and hope that it's well received.

For those in the Pittsburgh area, I'm offering up tickets to the show itself, with four different images, each depicting a character from the movie with art by Rafer Roberts.

I realize, of course, that not everyone is from Pittsburgh (try it out some time, everyone), so there are a lot of rewards that can be had whether one attends the movie or not.  These pins feature 8-bit art of characters from the movie by artist Randy Riggs!  There's more of this 8-bit art to see if we hit our goal.

I might have shown this artwork before, but it's so great that it deserves to be shown again.  It serves as our opening, postcard reward with art by Pietro.

I'm also offering up several 11x17 prints, like this one with art by Caroline Moore...

...and this one, with art by Joe Badon.

I'm obviously very excited about this project and hope that it's successful.  If you'd like to view the project (and maybe even contribute to it!), just click on the following link:

Think of it as a love note to UHF, 26 years after the fact.  Take a peek and, if you can, share it with (close, personal) friends!

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Naked Man at the Edge of Time: Homecoming

The Naked Man lives!  Last month, a friend put a Facebook group called "The Prompt" together, the purpose of which was to create one page stories based on a single theme.  It was a fun idea so I threw my figurative hat into the ring (don't want to waste literal hats) and teamed up once again with Naked Man co-creator Kurt Belcher to create a new story about our favorite nude time traveler.

The theme for this first prompt was "going home".  I probably copped out and went with the most obvious title that there was, but nevertheless I'm happy with the results.  Joining us this time around was inker Silas Dixon and colorist Tomas Marijanovic, all the way from sunny (?) Australia.    The new guys did a great job.  The story may be published this year in an anthology if all goes well, but here's the finished product to read no matter what happens to it.

If nothing else, I got to use the phrase "nude yourself" in a story, so I can mark that one off the list.  I hope you enjoy this short story!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

New Fantastic Four original art! FF 2099 and color guides!

A little while ago, I found and bought a page of original Tick art.  Original art can often be a little pricey, so after I buy one I usually wait at least a few months before I start searching for another.  I stumbled upon the above page from Fantastic Four 2099 just a few days after winning the Tick art, and I couldn't resist.  I put in a fairly low bid and as luck would have it, I won the page at a great price.

The artwork is page 2 from FF 2099 issue #4, with art by Matt Ryan (not the quarterback, I think) and Al Williamson.  I have fond memories of this book for what should be obvious reasons.  This issue even featured an appearance by Spider-Man 2099!

Despite there being little action on the page, it still has good shots of three of the four FF team, including a nice image here of the future Thing, who looks a lot like, well, the regular Thing.

If I'm remembering correctly, upon arriving in the future, the FF hid out in an old SHIELD safe house that doubled as a barbershop.  The female character, Chimera, had some nefarious purposes and a fairly obvious crush on Reed Richards.

The book came into being at the tail end of the 2099 line, so it only had eight issues before everything shut down.  Still, writer Karl Kesel, no stranger to the FF, crafted an interesting story that unfortunately got derailed starting in issue #5, and we never really learned the mystery of the characters' identities (or Doom's, for that matter).

I wonder who at Marvel put in the order for the official Fantastic Four 2099 stamp (much easier than writing it on every page, I guess).  At the bottom of the page we can find Al Williamson's signature as well, so apparently the previous owner of the page bought it from Williamson himself.

Here's what the page looks like in print.

I also picked up three Fantastic Four color guides for a dirt-cheap price.  I would imagine that one of the reasons they were so cheap was that none of the pages features any of the FF, with the exception of Mr. Fantastic's hand, reaching through some dimensional barrier into the Innerverse.

Each of these pages come from the same issue, #362.  I actually have two other pages from this same issue, and there are others floating around on eBay as we speak.  Who knows why there are so many of these from one issue but almost none from others currently out there.  When the price is right, though, I'm happy to add them to my collection.

The preceding two pages are pages 2 and 3 from the story; the first is a full page spread of Reed on the other side of the barrier.  That one's a bit more expensive.

This last one skips toward the end of the book, and yet we still see that dang portal causing trouble.  362 was very early on in the DeFalco/Ryan run on the book and the Innerverse never really played a big part in the book ever again.  Still, it's nice to get these pages and put them with the others.  I always keep an eye out for color guides.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Support the FUBAR: By the Sword Kickstarter! (please)

This has been a few years in the making.  The FUBAR: By the Sword trade is finally ready to print.  Kickstarter has been kind to us in the past and we're offering a number of rewards that will hopefully make this version a successful one.  FUBAR: BTS contains stories from the individual issues (including the "Guts and Glory" one shot) along with some all new material from a few dozen independent creators.

The campaign went live a few weeks ago and it proved to be a poplar one from the start.  I took a screenshot of when it reached the magical 2099 mark:

Now we're into stretch goals as we wind down the campaign.  They include some bookmarks, book plates, and trading cards so far, and the one I'm most excited about is an all-new 32-page issue that features musicians titled "All the King's Corpses".  Here's the cover, by Danny Cruz and Paul Little:

The lead story, drawn by Rob Croonenborghs, features Elvis Presley and Richard Nixon as they team up to take on the zombie menace.  I'm kind of enamored by Elvis's more mythological features, so I had a lot of fun writing it.  The book also has stories about the Doors, Waylon Jennings (written by Larry Franks) and another entry by me with art by head honcho Jeff McComsey and featuring "Weird Al" Yankovic.  I hope that it's received well.

If you feel like contributing to the campaign, here's the direct link:

It ends in just over a week.  Get some new FUBAR while you can!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Pictures from the 2014 Comic-Con International, part 11: the aftermath

Last week, I got confirmation that I will be attending Comic-Con 2015.  So we can look forward to another seven months of these Comic-Con pictures.  This batch takes us to the end (!) of Comic-Con maybe we can talk about other things (probably not).

I was lucky to be able to see both the buildup and the teardown phase of Comic-Con.  It's a different atmosphere, obviously, and it has a very workmanlike feel to it at the end of Sunday.  Everyone is tired after five days of revelry and is ready to pack things up and leave.  But there's also an appreciation, I think, for what Comic-Con is and even some looking forward to next year.  It's a never-ending cycle.  You hear the phrase "I'll see you next year!" said a lot between exhibitors and attendees.

The Tick booth stays open until the very last second every year, and they do quite well with their last-second sales.  I'm happy to say that the Tick 2014 Comic-Con Special sold out of its print run.  With about an hour left in the show, a retailer came over and bought the last 25-or-so remaining copies, which was nice.

And here's a picture of me, I guess.  Note the "I get to stay in here" badge.

End of the day.  The signs come down soon after.  We left the exhibit hall within an hour of its closing and went to get some dinner.

BUT!  There was still costuming going on outside.  Some people were still into it.  Here's the Ice Queen from Adventure Time!

Jon Snow knows nothing about when Comic-Con closes.

I really think that, in years to come, the Tuesday before and Monday after Comic-Con will have offsite events related to the show.  I'd like to create something for the Monday after and call it "Comic-Con Hangover".  I really think that people will come, especially those like me who don't leave right after the show ends.  For now, we'll enjoy the fact that we all still have a few hours to ourselves that aren't co-opted by Comic-Con.  Starting on Monday, I got something resembling an actual vacation, which was nice.  The first stop was the Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Then it was off to La Jolla, paradise on American soil.

Another angle.  We stayed in San Diego only one more day after the show, and then took a ride to Tucson, Arizona.

If you ever find yourself near Tucson, you must - MUST - visit the Kitt Peak National Observatory.  It is absolutely incredible.  As we went during "monsoon season" (I thought this was a joke at first), we didn't have an opportunity to use the telescopes at night.  But it was still a fascinating trip.  I had no idea this place even existed before the trip, but it was one of the highlights of the trip.

But this is a comic blog (I think).  What comic stuff did I see?  Well, I met Batman...or at least a painting of Batman...outside Tucson's Fantasy Comics.

It was a nice shop.  I was pleasantly surprised to see several volumes of FUBAR for sale inside!  FUBAR contributor Matt Smith's Barbarian Lord was in stock, as well!  Very cool.

We stopped at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum to see...the desert.

I'm assuming that there are a million pictures of this floating around.  I don't care.

Just outside of Tucson is the San Xavier del Bac Mission, with all of its iconography.

We flew home from Phoenix, so the day before we left, we drove from Tucson to the capital city.  Along the way, I just had to see Rooster Cogburn's ostrich farm, where I met and fed ostriches.  I learned from this trip that ostriches are terrifying.

I'm a big fan of the book True Grit, so I had to ask the attendant why the farm was named after the title character.  I was told that the owner was related to Cogburn.  This flabbergasted me as I had previously thought that Rooster Cogburn was a fictional character.  After about five minutes, I came to the realization that of COURSE Rooster Cogburn is a fictional character.  The attendant either had no idea what she was talking about, or she was trying to buffalo me.  Either way, I was confused for a while.

That night, I went to Chase Field where, as luck would have it, the Pirates were playing the Arizona Diamondbacks.  The Pirates staged a late-inning, dramatic comeback.  There were a lot of Bucco fans in attendance and they got rowdy when the away team came out on top.  I had never been in a domed baseball stadium before and it was a strange experience to see the game indoors.

After the game, the roof opened and we were treated to a fireworks display.  You can see in the picture above that the game was not by any means sold out, in contrast to games in Pittsburgh where fireworks means people pack the stadium in order to see things explode in the sky.  And you'd expect to hear some kind of up-tempo pop music in Pittsburgh, whereas in Phoenix they played, I'm not kidding, television show theme songs, like M*A*S*H and Seinfeld.  Weird.

It was a great way to end the night and, the trip just in general.  Comic-Con is exhausting but thrilling.  I'll be happy to go back in July and see what it brings me.  Every year is different, but every year is exhilarating.  Can't wait to do it again.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Thing sketchbook, part 16

I haven't posted any entries into the Thing sketchbook for a while.  Time to rectify that terrible (almost unforgivable, really) mistake!

Derek Fridolfs - New York Comic Con 2013

I only spent one day at the 2013 NYCC, and I only got one sketch there as well.  This one comes from Derek Fridolfs, who might be best known as an inker on a number of DC books with Dustin Nguyen.  As the Thing sketchbook isn't just for the "classic" Thing but Thing offshoots as well, it was high time to get a drawing of the Thing from the Ultimate universe.  This Ultimate Ben Grimm started out looking fairly similar to the Marvel proper version until after the Ultimate Fantastic Four version was cancelled, at which time the character busted out of his rocky cocoon and gained energy powers...purple energy powers.  He has since gained the ability to shift into his rocky form as well (probably because it looks cooler), but nevertheless, this is a unique version of the Thing and it's welcome in the book for sure.  Glad I was able to add it to the list.

Ryan Dunlavey - Comic Book Jones 2013

The December, 2013 Comic Book Jones anniversary signing event was marred just a bit by a snowstorm and some bad driving conditions that followed, but I had fun nonetheless.  Steve Becker, April Murphy and I made it to the store just in time for an icy snow to start falling from the sky, and by the time we left later in the evening, we were sliding all the way across New Jersey into Pennsylvania.  Also in attendance were Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey of Action Philosophers! and Comic Book Comics fame.  I was able to chat with them for a while, and Ryan was kind enough to add this poker playing Thing to the sketchbook.  This is the first reference to the Thing's floating poker game that travels across the Marvel Universe, and it's a good one.

April Murphy - Comic Book Jones 2013

April Murphy might be better known for her tattoo designs and prints, but I was able to get her, at the same Comic Book Jones signing, to draw the Thing in the sketchbook.  At that point, it's not like we were going anywhere, so perhaps I cornered her at the right time and only had to cajole her a couple times before she acquiesced.  I believe that as she was drawing this, I snuck out of the comic shop to go and buy some Mug Cream Soda.

Duane Redhead - Free Comic Book Day 2014

Who'd have thought that I would ever get England's Duane Redhead, artist on Teddy and the Yeti and The Tick, to draw in the Thing sketchbook?  Who would have thought that I would ever get to meet him in person in the first place?  The Free Comic Book Day signing at Boston's New England Comics locations gave us the opportunity to meet and I walked away with a lot of good memories...and this awesome Thing sketch.  Initially, I had concocted some huge, impossible scene for Duane to draw, with multiple versions of the Thing standing behind each other as cosmic rays flew in the background.  This was an example of me being a bad friend, and thankfully I realized that before the trip was over.  I still probably asked Duane to draw too much, but at least he didn't have to punch me to get me to tone my demands for the book down.  As it is, I got a great Thing image with Ben Grimm in the foreground and those pesky cosmic rays saying through the scene.  This is certainly one of the more complete images in the entire book.

Joe Wos - Toonseum 2014

In the summer of 2014, I volunteered at Pittsburgh's Toonseum, a museum for comic and cartoon art. It's a great place!  Joe Wos was the head curator at the time (he's since moved on and has a nationally syndicated comic strip in the works!).  Joe has an incredible collection of cartoon art and he's as big an aficionado as they come.  I brought the sketchbook to the museum one afternoon and Joe was kind enough to draw this cartoonish Thing into the book, adding in the extra ice cream gag to boot.

Well!  That's five more Thing sketches.  There are more to come.  Look for 'em...some time.