Category Archives: Comic Con
I met writer Kelly Sue Milano and artist Lisa K Weber at this years Fan Fest sponsored by Phoenix Comic Con. They were nestled in a remote corner of the Arizona Cardinals Stadium in Glendale Arizona, the headquarters for this years event. Their booth was tricked out with framed images of the characters from HEX 11, hanging on a bright backdrop that was exquisitely decorated with shimmering scarves (a focal point in issue #1)…clever marketing. My wife and I were greeted by the books producer/editor/hype woman Lynly Forrest. She was amazing to us and wasted no time telling us what they had created.
In the world of Hex11, humans have just discovered they are capable of Magic. As society moves from the Digital Age into this new Magic Age, the powers that be within the deepest reaches of the government are concealing what they know, seeing an opportunity to assert a new level of control. Those who practice Magic without registration become fugitives of the law and are displaced to The Hex, a borough on the outskirts of Pyrian.
Hex11 follows one young woman, Elanor, as she navigates her life in The Hex and her studies apprenticing Vera, the Hex’s most powerful witch. She is eager to learn all she can in order to help those who flood into The Hex looking for refuge. When an ordinary errand finds her in the midst of a magical firefight, she realizes her powers are much stronger than she thought – and that Magic may not be as novel as they once imagined…
Like a cross between Neo Tokyo and that dystopian Los Angeles from Blade Runner, HEX 11 establishes itself as a Neo-Medeval read. Our leads are strong women, not unlike those you might’ve read about in history books or books of yore.
They have power, which gives them all the edge they need in this ever changing and fantastic landscape. Their spells resembles circuit boards, but with strange symbols embedded throughout, an obvious testament to the time this is taking place. A time when technology and witchcraft are one.
In this issue, Eleanor (our lead), is the new Alice in Wonderland, minus the naivety. She’s a promising heroine/student with a spirit of adventure as she circumvents some of HEX’s more seedier and wondrous alleys in search of a scarf for her teacher (Vera Wyck). Vera is clearly powerful, but is prone to foolery at her students expense. It’s a clever trope, the wise sage with a sense of humor. Yoda, Mr. Miyagi, Pai Mei, are all examples of this, but guess what? All of the aforementioned worked like gangbusters!
Is it too early to tell if this will work for HEX 11? Yes, but I love where their relationship is headed.
It’s on this quest for the scarf that she stumbles upon an exchange that she wasn’t meant to see. Booth, one of the HEX’s black market dealers, is approached by Osrick, a demon from The Verge (a dreamlike dimension between the living world and Oblivion) for an item known as “The Matter”. Eleanor recognizes the demon as someone who may have been involved in the disappearance/death of her sister Clara (now an angry spirit roaming The Verge and hellbent on revenge) and steps in to help.
Let’s just say some spectacular magic ensues.
Without giving away everything this 24 page issue has to offer, I will say HEX11 #1 is a wonderful take on the fantasy genre. It’s characters are solid, the art work is beautiful and full of life and the writing is complete and filled with unique arches and interesting turns.
It’s very refreshing to see the ladies stepping up and not being relegated to writing or drawing for male- driven mainstream comics. Lord knows we have plenty of them already.
The HEX 11 world is honest and free of misogyny and fake female power and is further proof that women have what it takes to write a marketable and positive comic book!
More info on HEX11:
Artist Sacha Goldberger reimagines fanboy heroes as Elizabethan citizens and the result is astounding
This is an interesting take on the re-imagined. Artist Sacha Goldberger brings the Shakespearean vibe to our most beloved heroes of Star Wars, Marvel and DC lore and the result is breathtaking!!! You’ll notice that most of these are the actual characters from the films/movies. How it was done so seamlessly is beyond me, but it’s what sets this series aside from the usual fan art. Enjoy!
I had the pleasure of meeting Nathan Smith at this years Phoenix Comic Con. Seated humbly at his booth, he had that look. You know the one that reads “give my comic book a shot”? The decision to stop wasn’t a hard one, seeing as how he was easy to talk to and his art work was fascinating, but what struck me was the voice of the book and how it asked questions that so few “mainstream” comics ask. Lightening Dog is more modern art than comic book. Weighing in at fifty two pages, the book is filled with outstanding art, but here’s the catch…no dialog. Albeit he’s not the first to attempt this, having done so, it speaks volumes about his determination to engage his audience on another level and he’s done just that with Lightning Dog.
MITNG: What got you into comics?
NS: To be honest, I wasn’t into comics for a very long time. Growing up, I thought comic books were all about macho superheroes in spandex, and I really couldn’t get into that. I remember, at some point, going to my local Borders and discovering the Flight anthologies, the Hellboy series, and a few other books that showed me comic books didn’t have to be about characters with tight suits and capes, and made it all much more interesting for me. When the time came that I liked my own style enough to illustrate a story of my own, I immediately began drawing a comic, and it turned into my first story: Lightning Dog.
NS: I think the comparison’s appropriate and exciting! I very rarely use text in my stories. Hearing friends and strangers summarize what they see on each page as they’re going through Lightning Dog or any other of my comics is always really fun because everyone sees something different in what I’ve drawn. The coolest thing about cave drawings to me is imagining what a prehistoric person must have been thinking and experiencing while they were drawing the things he or she was drawing. Was it for posterity? Was it just for fun? Was it part of a ceremony? I love how what persists about cave drawings are the feelings of the artist. You don’t need to know the artist’s name or why the piece was made, but you’re able to connect to the past with it. If I even remotely connect to people in that way, I consider myself very fortunate!
MITNG: What prompted you to write Lightning Dog?
NS: It was initially based on a single, incomplete doodle that I made of this insane looking dog just kind of plummeting through space. It didn’t initially mean anything, but I loved the energy of it, and, when I decided to make a test comic to see if I could make something that I thought looked good, I created the first two pages of Lightning Dog, not even knowing that it would become the 50-page story that it is now. I received such positive feedback about how it looked from my friends that I decided to run with it, and, inevitably, my fascination with physics and cosmology helped quantum mechanics become the theme for each character and their interactions.
MITNG: You speak about “entanglement” in the epilogue of Lightning Dog. Are the characters in this book, meant to be, more like atoms and quarks, than actual Gods?
NS: Exactly! I mean, far be it from me to tell anyone what the story is “really about,” because I really like when people interpret it for themselves, but, in my head, the various characters are definitely interacting with each other the same way subatomic particles do. A lot of my comics, secretly, are scientific metaphors.
MITNG: Do you consider yourself a spiritual man?
NS: In a sense, I do. My current employment is working as a research assistant in an astronomy lab at Arizona State University en route to obtaining a graduate degree in systems engineering, so my worldview tends to be fairly scientific. It bothers me, however, when pragmatism replaces imagination, and I think it’s very important to not get caught up with being so “scientific” that you can’t let yourself dream up fantastic, unrealistic things. In that sense, my “spirituality” is an exercise in opening myself up to thinking outside of the box, and I believe this has helped me be a more successful science researcher.
MITNG: What comic books are you currently reading?
NS: Ever since I started self-publishing, I’ve really gotten into the books from smaller publishers like Koyama Press, Breakdown Press, and many more. I love to follow artists like Michael DeForge, Joe Kessler, and others because I really like what they put out regularly. I most recently picked up a science fiction / fantasy themed series of comics called Ovoyyamar by Alan Brown. He also makes wordless stories and has a really cool style!
MITNG: Having looked at Lightning Dog, I can say, with all certainty, that it’s one of the most abstract comic books I’ve ever read and required me to lean on my limited knowledge of mythological tropes to decipher some of it’s meaning. Did you intend for it to be an exercise in transcendentalism?
NS: I wouldn’t say that I try, per se, to make a particular story hard to grasp, but I do attempt to create an interesting looking story that has some hidden depth to it. Each of my comics has some underlying themes, or “truths” in my opinion, that I made them to explore. Because each story is so self-consistent, I think readers can often see that there is something connecting each and every page, and, when they finally put their finger on it, it tends to be something different than another person. In that sense, my comics are an exercise in transcendentalism for me because, even though I tend to want to explain to people what I intended the story to be, I find my interactions with people on the matter to be infinitely more interesting when they tell me what they got out of it and I stay quiet about my intentions. I personally think it’s valuable to realize that what you or I think of as a “truth” is not something that another person thinks of as a “truth,” and a wordless comic is my way of exploring that.
MITNG: What’s next for you?
NS: Well, despite having just explained how interesting I think abstract stories are, my current project is a comic where I’m experimenting with dialogue, written exposition, and some different drawing and framing techniques. I’ve been posting that and my other projects on my website as I complete them. I’m also a game designer and had a great experience publishing my first game this past spring called Animallum, so I’m continuing that type of work as I develop two more table-top games – an RPG and a strategy game. I’ve also been considering different ways to tell stories beyond comics and games, so who knows what I’ll be putting out over the next year!
MITNG: Any films this fall you really interested in seeing?
NS: The new Hobbit movie, The Zero Theorem, Coherence, and Interstellar.
MITNG: What music are you listening to right now?
NS: I’m really hung up on Disasterpiece’s soundtrack to FEZ…so cool! Also, Daikaiju, of Montreal, Good Friends Great Enemies, and B’Kao Caerp have been looping through my headphones.
MITNG would like to thank Nathan Smith for allowing us to pick his brain. If you’d like to know more about Nathan Smith and his wonderful comics, we’ve enclosed several links to his work below.
First things first…who the fuck is James Gunn and where the hell has this director been all this time? Oh yeah, he’s been honing his craft like a true auteur, laying back and learning what’s most important “writing a good screenplay”. In the early 2000’s James wrote films like Tromeo and Juliet, Scooby Doo, Scooby Doo: Monsters Unleashed and the 2004 version of Dawn of the Dead directed by Zack Snyder. Stop right there…Dawn of the Dead was awesome!
In 2006, he switched gears and started directing, his first project which was the 2006 horror film Slither. He also got together with his brothers Brian and Sean to create the web series James Gunn PG Porn. In 2010, he teamed up with actor Rainn Wilson for the movie Super and this was it before he The Guardian’s of the Galaxy, before he seriously ROCKED OUR WORLDS!!
How long had he been campaigning for this job?! Every frame of this film oozes with his undying passion for the content, like he had been dreaming about this day since he was a child. Guardian’s is filled with tropes that reflect films he clearly loved growing up and he cleverly squeezed them into almost every scene. You’ve no idea how hard it is trying to stifle my enthusiasm in the theater as director James Gunn pays homage to all the same films I enjoyed in the 80’s, but as if that wasn’t enough, he pairs that imagery with the sounds of the seventies. Bowie, J5, The Runaways and The Five Stairsteps are just some of the amazing tracks I heard while watching the most amazing “3D friendly” visual effects I’ve ever seen. The marriage between sight and sound has never looked better!
Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” finds space adventurer Peter Quill the object of a bounty hunt after stealing an orb coveted by a treacherous villain, but when Quill discovers the power it holds, he must find a way to rally the quartet of ragtag rivals hot on his trail to save the universe.
As we all know, the 80’s was filled with films that were over the top, most of that over the topness came through in the acting, but that level of cheese, although “grates” on me now, looking back, still etched itself in my mind. Well this is were a bit of now-ness comes into play. The films star Chris Pratt who plays Quill, isn’t Jack Burton (Big Trouble in Little China) nor is he Buckaroo Banzai, but he eases into a part that he’s smart enough to know, has to be played with honesty. For the most part, the majority of Americans didn’t know who TGOTG were up until now. So here’s the chance for everyone to make the roles their own like Star Wars (minus the completely unknown cast) and if the cast and director James Gunn, intend to get the most mileage out of this new franchise, they all have to bring that level of honesty that’ll make kids, thirty years from now, go “I fucking loved that film” and thankfully… they’ve all done just that.
Everything about this film is fresh and new (well that’s everything except the easter eggs), but those were respectfully done. You get a real sense, while watching, that you are in fact watching a group of misfits doing the best they can in seemingly insurmountable odds. It’s still a comic book film, but not in the Avengers/Spiderman/XMEN way. It’s fresh and undoubtedly material that studios wouldn’t have gone anywhere near ten years ago. My how time flies. TGOTG is living proof that even with a huge company like Walt Disney taking over MARVEL, there is still fresh property i.e ideas yet to be touched. The success of this film is a result of passion. Everything came together for this movie. The art direction, the brilliant cast, the director, the latest advances in vfx, the cinematography and above all…..DAH MONEY!!! This was marketing and PR done right! Again, no one except the fans, knew who TGOTG were and yet they broke 11 Million on opening weekend. There is something to be said about that kind of public relations.
Marvel Studios and Disney’s Guardians of the Galaxy grossed a whopping $11.7 million on Monday, the best showing of the summer, save for Memorial Day. It’s also the best Monday gross for any Marvel title outside of The Avengers ($18.9 million).
Make no mistake, I will be seeing this film again “in the theaters”. It’s so worth the few dollars extra to to see it in 3D. As I was saying to my wife ,while watching it, the nebulus backgrounds and colorful/visceral environments constantly popped and did what most 3D films don’t..it reminded me, all through the film, that I was watching 3D. Not like most where you forget why you paid the two dollars extra. Which in itself is more than enough reason to see this action packed, fresh and visually amazing film. I highly recommend The Guardians of the Galaxy and if you have kids bring them, this experience will hopefully stay with them forever!
Probably the one reboot I’m excited about happening is Mad Max. As a child, growing up in the eighties, I never quite got Mad Max or all the other films that came behind it. It had that foreign gloss, as did the music videos from that side of the world, that although I loved, never quite understood. It just seemed weird to me, at least with this reboot I can safely say that I may have a chance to rekindle this strange love affair that started so many years ago.
The footage your about to see first showed at this years comic con to a well received audience. Immediately after it premiered the blogs were a buzz with literary accounts of what they saw, scene for scene. It’s funny, it was like the internet was back in the 1930 for a couple of days. I felt like I was reading/listening, to someone recount the Hindenburg catastrophe…lol! It was quite funny! Their writing…not the Hindenburg.
Mad Max: Fury Road is directed by George Miller (Mad Max, Road Warrior and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome) and stars Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy. Miller is bringing a lot of that energy he captured in the original trilogy, but with a little something extra. This trailer is a sight to behold!
Mad Max: Fury Road opens nationwide in 2015.
In a brilliant marketing move before opening night of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Fox has released three short films give us all the goodies leading up to the Dawn. In a nutshell, the films gives us the low down on the Simian Flu and what it does to the human population.
These films were done in cooperation with MOTHERBOARD and are pretty good in filling us in on the ten years leading up to Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Check it out!
1.SPREAD OF THE SIMIAN FLU (YEAR ONE)
Amidst a widespread viral outbreak known as the ‘Simian Flu,’ a mother is quarantined after testing positive for the virus, leaving her husband and daughter to fend for themselves. Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes presents this moving short film directed by Isaiah Seret in a series inspired by the ten years between The Rise and The Dawn of the Planet of the Apes http://www.dawnofapes.com/.
2. STRUGGLING TO SURVIVE:BEFORE THE DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (YEAR FIVE)
Five years after the Simian Flu all but wiped out humanity, an orphaned teenage girl survives by bartering things she has stolen from dead people’s homes. Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes present this short film directed by Daniel Thron in a series inspired by the ten years between The Rise and The Dawn Of The Planet of the Apes http://www.dawnofapes.com/
3. STORY OF THE GUN: BEFORE THE DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (YEAR TEN)
The journey of a shotgun through the hands of several ill-fated owners as the ‘Simian Flu’ ravages the world around them. Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes present this ambitious short film directed by “thirtytwo” in a series inspired by the ten years between The Rise and The Dawn Of The Planet of the Apes http://www.dawnofapes.com/
The results are in and yes, the Phoenix Comic Con is a force to be reckoned with. This year featured booths by Dark Horse Comics, Boom Studios, Archaia Entertainment and many many more. In addition to that, there are a ton of panels and signings, from some heavy hitters in Hollywood and the comic book world, alike. I, unfortunately, won’t be doing the whole weekend, but I did manage to checkout a few of the booths and take some pictures of some really “well-dressed” and “totally committed” cosplayers this year.
By the way, the uber-popular anime, Attack on Titan, is clearly a hit this year. Everywhere I turned ,there was another member of the illustrious “Survey Corps”, the army responsible for protecting humans from these enormous monsters. Anyway, you’ll see a few of them in this album, along with images of Star Wars people, Resident Evil so on and so forth. I hope you enjoy them and if you get a chance please go the the Phoenix Comic Con, this year is going to be epic!
At first glance, The Shadow Hero a.k.a The Green Turtle, isn’t your typical hero. He’s a vestige of an ignorant generation, one whose idea of a hero, never went beyond the blonde hair and blue eyes. The story of how this shopkeepers son became China Towns “Dark Knight” in the 1940’s, isn’t the amazing part of this story though, the amazing part lies in how two writers Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew breathed new life into a super hero who existed decades ago, but whose creator, had to hide the heroes Chinese background for fear of low sales.
In 1944 a young cartoonist by the name Chu Hing, whom later went on to work for Marvel, was asked by his then employer, Rural Home, to create a character for their new Blazing Comics series. The character he came up with was a hero of Asian decent known only as the Green Turtle. He couldn’t fly, but like his modern persona, he could avoid bullets. The reason The Green Turtle never took off is a thing of comic book lore, but the most obvious and most probable cause, the heroes Asian decent. The publisher went to great length’s to change Chu’s creation, even going as far as too make it’s skin an unmistakable pinkish color, as to not get it confused with that crazy “yellow” skin. Chu’s answer to this bullshit was to plant easter eggs throughout the series that went over his publicists head, but said what Chu secretly wanted to say about, not only The Green Turtle, but about society as a whole.
Below are some images that hint at Chu’s reluctance to make the Green Turtle Anglo, so instead he blocked TGT’s face every chance he could get keeping his identity ambiguous. In addition, he placed this ominous smiling shadow in scenes when The Green Turtle was fighting, but it never talks, unlike the updated version. In fact, to me, it doesn’t even look like a turtle.
Another odd facet of the earlt GT comics is the blatant, stereotypical look, of the Japanese foes. Some believe this may have been Chu’s anger toward the Japanese occupancy of China at the time. The buck teeth, ultra slanted eyes and pointed ears is pretty much what most cartoons were serving up at the time. Too bad most American’s wouldn’t have been able to differentiate one look from another, when this was created and it probably would’ve had the reverse effect and perpetuated Asian stereotypes as a whole, but for what it’s worth, The Green Turtle was America’s first Asian superhero.
Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew took what could have easily just faded away into oblivion and restored it to it’s former glory, but with some fuel injected-political correctness and Chinese pride. They’ve created a wonderful story that tells a tale of family legacy and honor in the 1940’s white America. What reads immediately, is the level of comedy, that could easily be referenced to today’s youth, but especially the Asian youths. Hank (The Green Turtle) and Hua (Hank’s mother) go back and forth and are so relatable, I started to think that maybe the writers had met my mom and based Hua on her.
Hua, who came to America as a young girl with her family in pursuit of the American dream, became one of the statistics in California, but when she is saved by a flying masked man, it gives her an idea. That idea is to make her now, twenty something, son a superhero. The idea, in the beginning, comes from Hua’s frustration with the life she’s been given and the fact she was forced into marriage with a man whom she considered a coward. Ultimately, the transformation proves almost fatal as Hank is placed in some serious and life threatening situations. Among these, a run in with a Chinese mafia that results in the death of Hanks father. Realizing what she’d done, Hua begs her son to stop, but the damage has been done and Hank has to become The Green Turtle and restore order to his crime ridden community.
The Shadow Hero is a delightful read and somewhat of a history lesson for those who are unfamiliar with the plight of Chinese Americans in the 1940’s. The story is also a testament to the human spirit. If the Green Turtles original creator was alive today, I imagine he would be very proud of what these talented artist have done to his beloved story.
And I just watch this film for the 100th time only two days ago. For those that don’t know Big Trouble….it is an eighties cult classic, that has been gaining steam ever since it’s lack-lustre performance at the box office, back in 1986. Directed by John Carpenter (Halloween, The Thing) this Kung Fu fantasy paid homage to the seventies kung fu flicks that inundated smaller screens throughout America. Not unlike films such as Buckaroo Banzai, it was perhaps one of the most underrated films of that decade and understandably so, given the number of films it was up against such as Platoon, Top Gun, Ferris Buellar’s Day Off and Aliens, films that I think we can all agree were classics across the board.
But flash forward 30 years later and Big Trouble… is now looked at as a true cult classic and lucky for us the comic book world is about to get another dose of Jack Burton, right where the film ended.
Beginning with the first issue on June 4, Boom! Studios will be rolling out Big Trouble in Little China, the new comic book series co-written by Eric Powell (creator of the awesome series The Goon) and Carpenter, with art care of Brian Churilla (creator of the critically acclaimed The Secret History of D.B. Cooper). In the comic, Burton — still played by the likeness of the mullet-clad Russell — finds a series of new adventures aboard the Pork Chop Express, the big rig he kept trying to recover in the film.
This is amazing news for fans of the film, and who knows, maybe if it does well, there could be a future for it on the big screen again. Below are more excerpts from the conversation with Carpenter and Powell regarding the collaboration on this series.
Though they hadn’t met before, Carpenter and Powell found kindred spirits in one another. “I had a definite idea of what I wanted to do with it,” says Powell. “The minute we sat down and started talking, what he thought we should do was exactly what I had in mind. We were on the same page from the beginning.” Carpenter describes their working relationship thusly: “Eric works really hard, sends his stuff to me, and I say, ‘Good job!’” the director says. “It’s a great process. It’s one I can actually do.”
The first issue of the ongoing monthly comic book series Big Trouble In Little China hits stores on June 4 with five different collectible covers drawn by Powell, Joe Quinones, Chris Weston, Terry Dodson, and Emi Yonemura Brown. But just to whet your whistle, you can take the first exclusive look at the first six pages below (click each page to enlarge for easier reading).
From it’s inception, this story off archaic power, rebirth and of course Nazi’s, was destined for greatness and it is! What started as a labor of love for the Eisner Award winning artist John Powers Severin (December 26, 1921 – February 12, 2012) has come to fruition with the help of the uber-talented writers Mike Mignola (Hellboy) and John Arcudi (Solo) and equally talented artists Jason Latour (B.P.R.D) and Laurence Campbell (Punisher).
Trust Mike to align himself with an artist like John for this action packed story of mysticism, violence and redemption. Sledgehammer44 has all the whistles and bells contained in any given BPRD story, but with this underline eerieness…what am I saying?… everything Mike Mignola writes is eerie. I guess what I’m saying is that it’s been a long time since I’ve picked up any of his works, but when I do, I’m always satisfied.
I mean anytime someone has the balls to actually draw Adolf Hitler and I’m not talking about a shoulder or hairline, but the whole kitten caboodle, you know risks are being taken and luckily, it all paid off.
Synopsis: A man in a suit of iron drops from an American warplane onto a French battlefield and unleashes a powerful cosmic force on an army of Nazis, their massive war machine, and their most dangerous agent, the deadly Black Flame!
Awesome! Awesome! I love this story! What John Severin started at the ripe old age of 89, bloomed into a tale about death and the legacy we leave behind. Set in WWII, the stakes for everyone in Sledgehammer, is already high as the creators drop us in the trenches during a reconnaissance mission of epic proportions. The introduction of our hero, or heroes, lays the strange on heavily, as you struggle to understand who or what this “thing” is. As the story of The Sledgehammer begins to unfold, not fully, we are taken on an existential journey. In a few brief panels were given a taste of what The Sledgehammer is and how it works. The brilliance comes when we learn of the by-product of tampering with powers beyond the understanding of those who created this suit. It’s just awesome in a way that only these true auteurs could deliver.
John Severin passed away before the completion of this amazing story, but I’m certain he would very happy with the results.
Sledgehammer 44 is a must read!