Author Archives: Brett Schenker

SDCC 2014: Action Lab Entertainment’s 2014-2015 Plans

Flanked by Action Lab staffers and talent including Ray-Anthony Height, Jeremy Dale, Vito DelSante, Gayle Middleton, Emily Martin, James Wright, Phillip Selvy and Nick Marino, Creative Director and writer/ artist Dave Dwonch announced Action Lab’s slate of upcoming releases at the is years San Diego Comic Con.

New releases include the all new series of Puppet Master books, written by Shawn Gabborin, successfully funded Kickstarter projects like Cazadora by Randy Kintz and Sam Eggleston, Nutmeg by James Wright and Jackie Krofts as well as Erik Taylor and Leia Del Duca‘s The Pantheon Project.

The line-up also features the return of several popular Action Lab titles. The award winning series, Princeless returns with a new sea faring storyline. Everyone’s favorite buccaneer/gumshoe, Smitty returns in a brand new volume of Pirate Eye, and Dean Rankine‘s hysterical Itty Bitty Bunnies in Rainbow Pixie Candyland return in a new one shot.

Action Lab continues to prove it’s the home of creation and innovation. With their 5th anniversary looming in 2015, look for more huge announcements.

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Preview: Chew: Warrior Chicken Poyo One-Shot

Chew: Warrior Chicken Poyo One-Shot

Story By: John Layman
Art By: Rob Guillory
Cover By: Rob Guillory
Cover Price: $3.50
Digital Price: $2.99
Diamond ID: MAY140608
Published: July 30, 2014

Comics’ most beloved homicidal cybernetic kung fu rooster returns for what we humbly anticipate as the most important literary achievement of the 21st Century. All other comics will be made irrelevant. The best thing that’s ever happened to comics, and possibly the best thing that’s ever happened… EVER! Plus: an all-star pin-up gallery from some of the most staggeringly talented artists in the industry! DO. NOT. MISS.

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Preview: Day Men #4

Day Men #4

Writer(s): Matt Gagnon, Michael Alan Nelson
Artist(s): Brian Stelfreeze

The Virgo family has suffered a devastating blow at the hands of the Ramses, but there’s no time to mourn…along with Titus, the Virgo’s champion, David sets out on a mission of revenge.

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SDCC 2014: A publisher’s perspective from Action Lab

Another San Diego Comic-Con has come and gone, and with that the postmortem, good and bad is being written and discussed. Comic publisher Action Lab Entertainment took to their Facebook page to discuss their experience at the convention and thoughts about the show in general.

Below is their full post unedited (and after you read it you should head to their site to support them with a purchase or two or three):

Comic Con International 2014: A publisher’s perspective

Another Comic-Con International has come and gone, and just as with the previous seven shows that I have attended, this year’s version both thrilled and horrified me. Most of us in the comic book industry already have heard ad nauseum arguments about how Comic-Con is no longer a “comic” con. The big studios have taken over the show, and comic publishers, dealers, and fans have become much less important in the grand scheme of the show. Attendees are there to sit on panels, catch a glimpse of celebrities, show off their costumes, people watch, and, if they are lucky, pick up an exclusive or three that they can flip on eBay. The crowds are huge, the space is difficult to broker, and everything is incredibly expensive. Because much of this has been discussed previously by people more qualified than I am, I am not going to focus on that. Instead, I want to look at it at the micro level, from the perspective of the smaller comic book publisher.

For those of you who don’t know, as the President of Action Lab Entertainment, my primary functions at the show each year are to maintain our booth, sell our products, and (hopefully) network in hopes of developing new relationships, brokering new deals, and finding new talent. This is my third year at SDCC with Action Lab after five years manning the booth with Ape Entertainment.

I feel fairly safe in saying that, for most publishers of Action Lab’s relative size, Comic-Con is not a “sales” show. That is, you can’t expect to generate a profit at this show. A corner booth in the less-trafficked Independent Press Pavilion (the red carpeted area for those of you who have been there) runs about $3,300. This gets you a 10’ square space, two 8’ tables, and one outlet. A middle booth, with only one table, still runs $2,700. Adding my $600 airfare, five nights in a hotel at roughly $200 a night, food, shipping, and other miscellaneous expenses, you’re dropping about $6,000 to set up at this show. Granted, I shared in these expenses with others, but the point is still relevant.

And as a whole, business for us was decent. We moved quite a bit of product. We had exclusives. From simple observation, I’d say we were doing a hell of a lot better than many of the booths around us. But it is still a losing endeavor. But we understand this. As I mentioned, this isn’t a sales show. For people and companies like us, this is predominantly a marketing and networking event. And as a result, given the sheer size of Comic-Con, we could make the argument that we HAVE to be there. More on this momentarily.

Sure, some of the more recognized comics publishers like Boom, IDW, Marvel, Image, and the like have larger budgets, paid employees, and corporate backing that allows them to buy big spaces in prime locations, ship thousands of books, offer extensive exclusives, and get media coverage that smaller guys like us can only dream of. Comic-Con becomes a giant advertisement for them—advertisement that creates demand for their product.

Action Lab and similar publishers, on the other hand, have to claw for every nickel. We don’t have the name recognition, and have to earn it the hard way. Sure, those other guys were like us at one point, but times were a lot different back then, and creating your niche was a little easier (and less expensive). Competition for entertainment dollars has increased multifold, comics have become very expensive, and convention goers only have so much money to spend and so much time in which to spend it. And most of that money is not being spent on comics.

Comic retailers are feeling this heat as well. Chuck Rozanski, the owner of Mile High Comics, has gone on record saying that this very well could be his last Comic-Con. He simply does not make enough money to make the show viable. He mentioned that he can make twice the money at smaller shows with less overhead. Why? Because not only is he competing with every other comic book vendor on the floor, but also because he is competing with the publishers as well, who pull out all stops to make the quick buck at the convention. This doesn’t even mention the large percentage of people at the show who have no interest in purchasing comic books whatsoever. I am happy to say that we, as a publisher, have worked very positively with Mile High and other retailers. We offer them our exclusive covers at wholesale prices at the show. We offer to have our creators sign books at their show. We understand the relationship that exists between the retailer and the publisher, even at a convention like San Diego. While I am not here to laud Action Lab, the point is that everyone seems to be competing with everyone else at Comic-Con for limited dollars. Many retailers and dealers have decided to go elsewhere because it is no longer profitable. I don’t necessarily think this is the right thing to do. The comic book industry is small and incestuous. Market share is small enough that it behooves all of us to work together rather than begrudge everyone else.

But back to my earlier point. We HAVE to be at San Diego. Why? For one thing, not being at San Diego creates, at least on the surface, the belief that you aren’t a big enough player (and as such, not important enough) to compete in the comic book market. Simply being there sends the message that you DESERVE to be there. Second, it is a massive marketing and networking show. There are creators, distributors, digital vendors, agents, entertainment moguls, retailers, media, and other industry professionals there with whom a positive relationship can help you. If you are lucky enough to get selected for a panel (which we have been the last two years), you can show off your work to a captive audience and generate future interest, publicity, and hopefully business. What this ultimately means is that you have to write this show off as a business expense. It is advertising. It is publicity. It is the ability to touch a few thousand people in one fell swoop.

All of us who are a part of Action Lab are very proud of the product we are producing. We have an amazing array of talent producing some of the best comic books out there. The staff we have here are incredible in their own right, doing all they do for love rather than profit. We all still have day jobs. Most of us cover our own expenses at San Diego and other shows like it. But we endure. We endure in the hopes that the right people will discover us, and tell the industry what we already know about our product. Spending thousands of dollars at Comic Con maximizes our chances of this happening. And it will.

I invite all of my friends in the industry to share this and spread the word.

Review: Deep Gravity #1

deep gravity #1 coverHe didn’t get onto the most lucrative interstellar mission for the money—Paxon wants to be reunited with the woman he loves. But his high-stakes journey takes him to a savage world full of the galaxy’s most dangerous game, where the gravity can turn your bones to powder.

I’m much more of a sci-fi person than a fantasy person, so getting my hands on the start of a new series, I’m always a bit excited to see what it brings to the table. Deep Gravity #1 by Mike Richardson, Gabriel Hardman, Corinna Bechko, with art by Fernando Baldó, is familiar, but there’s just enough that’s new and different to get me to want to come back for more.

The familiar part is an alien world that a company has gotten rights to mine/explore/grab resources from/etc. That’s been done many times before, and many times well. Here are the tiny details. As the title hints at, the gravity on this world is different, much greater than that of Earth. Add in radiation, and the amount of time someone can stay on the planet is limited. With a new crew coming on planet, and old crew leaving, you can see where its all going. Add in the relationship angle and there’s a lot that we’ve seen before in other stories. But, again, its the small details that matter here, and those are entertaining and new.

But how its put together is interesting. Much of the writing reminds me of Hardman and Bechko’s previous work, like their Planet of the Apes run. They have a certain style to what they bring to the page. That’s not good or bad, but if you’ve enjoyed their previous work, there’s familiarity here that’ll get you to probably enjoy this new series as well. The two plus Richardson, have dreamed up an interesting world that we learn about as the main character Paxon does. That leads to some exciting moments that catch him and us off guard. Going forward, that discovery will likely be the strength of the series.

Artist Fernando Baldó brings us a solid style. It’s not too flashy or fancy, and definitely doesn’t jump out to me, but it’s solid work with some nice design for the alien world and space ship. It gets the job done and there’s some nice touches.

Overall, while the first issue might seem familiar, and “been there,” there’s a lot new and some great potential going forward. I’m pretty sure I know what to expect next, but even so, if the rest is as entertaining as this first issue, we’ll have a solid sci-fi read to finish off the summer and take us into the fall.

Story: Mike Richardson, Gabriel Hardman, Corinna Bechko Art: Fernando Baldó
Story: Art: Overall: Recommendation: Buy

Dark Horse provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: Low #1

Low #1

Story By: Rick Remender
Art By: Greg Tocchini
Cover By: Greg Tocchini
Price: $3.99
Diamond ID: MAY140566
Published: July 30, 2014

In the far distant future, the sun’s premature expansion has irradiated Earth, sending humanity to the lowest depths of the seas, hidden within radiation-shielded cities, while probes scour the universe for inhabitable worlds to relocate to. After tens of thousands of years, a single probe returns, crashing on Earth’s surface, a now-alien place no human has seen for many millennia. Frequent collaborators RICK REMENDER (BLACK SCIENCE, Uncanny Avengers) and GREG TOCCHINI (Last Days of American Crime, Uncanny X-Force) dive into an aquatic sci-fi/fantasy tale following two teams from the last remaining cities undersea as they race to the most unexpected alien world of all—the surface of Earth. Special introductory issue features 30 full pages of painted art!

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Around the Tubes

It’s new comic day! What’s everyone thinking of getting this week when they head to the shop?

Around the Tubes

The Beat – The State of Conventions in 2014 (AKA – The Annual Gripes Turn Up) – A good read.

The Beat – SDCC ’14: Fashioning a Response to Cosplay Harassment – A very good read as well. Especially in light of recent horrific events.

ICv2 – Father Gabriel Joins ‘The Walking Dead – Awesome!

GamePolitics – FCC Opens Public Comments On State Laws Banning Municipal Broadband Operations – Comment folks! Internet providers shouldn’t have a monopoly.

Barrowman, Shatner, Cena Headline Celebrities At Wizard World San Antonio Comic Con, Aug. 1-3

John_Barrowman-LOJohn Barrowman, Jon Bernthal of The Walking Dead, William Shatner, WWE Superstar John Cena, James Marsters, Manu Bennett and Michael Rosenbaum are among the celebrities scheduled to attend the inaugural Wizard World San Antonio Comic Con, August 1-3 at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center.

Barrowman and Rosenbaum will appear on Saturday and Sunday, August 2-3; Shatner will attend on Friday and Saturday, August 1-2; Cena is scheduled on Sunday only; and the others will be on hand all three days.

Superstar comics creators scheduled to attend include Neal Adams, Mike Mayhew, Ethan Van Sciver, Mike Grell, Phil Ortiz, Mario Guevara, Jorge Molina, Greg Horn, Michael Golden, Arthur Suydam and many others.

Other notable celebrities on the Wizard World San Antonio Comic Con roster include Dean Cain, Lou Ferrigno, the Boondock Saints duo of Sean Patrick Flanery and David Della Rocco, Jon Heder, Elvira, Jason David Frank and Sara Underwood.

Wizard World Comic Con events bring together thousands of fans of all ages to celebrate the best in pop-fi, pop culture, movies, graphic novels, comics, toys, video gaming, television, sci-fi, gaming, original art, collectibles, contests and more. Wizard World San Antonio Comic Con show hours are Friday, August 1, 3-8 p.m.; Saturday, August 2, 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Sunday, August 3, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

A first-class lineup of topical programming takes place all three days at the event, with celebrity Q&A’s, the Wizard World Film Festival, comics-themed sessions, costume contest, movie screenings, evening parties and more. Sunday, August 3, is also Kids Day, with an array of activities and programming specially designed for the younger Wizard World fans.

Wizard World San Antonio Comic Con is also the place for cosplay, with fans young and old showing off their best costumes throughout the event. Fans dressed as every imaginable character – and some never before dreamed – will roam the convention floor, often stopping by the Show Stage, the ideal place to see and be seen.

WWE Superstar John Cena To Attend Wizard World San Antonio Comic Con, Sunday, August 3

san-antonio-comic-con-2014-wizard-world-convention-august-1-2-3-2014-fri-sat-sun-6Among the most popular WWE Superstars of all time, WWE Superstar John Cena returns to the Wizard World Tour at the inaugural San Antonio Comic Con on Sunday, August 3. He will sign autographs and pose for photo ops from Noon – 4 p.m. at Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center.

John Cena combines his athleticism, charisma, strong work ethic and genuine personality to make him one of the brightest stars in WWE. Cena devotes much of his time working on behalf of numerous charitable causes including Make-A-Wish and Susan G. Komen. Cena’s work with Make-A-Wish is widely recognized, as he is the only celebrity to reach the 400th wish milestone. Cena was also awarded the Chris Grecius Award in 2009, Make-A-Wish’s highest honor.

“Wizard World provides one of the best experiences for the WWE Universe,” says Cena. “I am excited to see all our fans at Wizard World San Antonio Comic Con on August 3rd.”

Cena has had numerous Hollywood roles, including The Marine, 12 Rounds, Legendary, The Reunion and Nickelodeon’s teen comedy trilogy Fred: The Movie.

Cena joins such noted pop culture figures as John Barrowman (“Arrow,” “Torchwood”), Norman Reedus and Jon Bernthal of “The Walking Dead,” William Shatner (Star Trek, “T.J. Hooker”), James Marsters (“Buffy The Vampire Slayer,” “Torchwood”), Manu Bennett (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, “Arrow”), Michael Rosenbaum (“Smallville,” Justice League) and others currently scheduled to attend Wizard World San Antonio Comic Con, set for August 1-3 at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. Additional celebrities will be announced in the coming weeks.

Wizard World San Antonio Comic Con is the ninth of 16 events scheduled in the 2014 series produced by Wizard World, Inc. and will also feature a top-drawer collection of well-known comics artists and writers and a variety of activities, exhibitors and special attractions. Show hours are Friday, August 1, 3-8 p.m.; Saturday, August 2, 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Sunday, August 3, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

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