Category Archives: Conventions

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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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.

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.

SDCC 2014: SDCC Sends a Cease and Decist to SLCC

Saturday as folks were enjoying San Diego Comic-Con, a letter made its way through the press from Salt Lake Comic Con concerning a cease and desist letter they received from SDCC concerning their use of the word “Comic-Con.”  San Diego Comic-Con, or Comic-Con International as they’re going by now, trademarked the term in 2005.

comic-con trademarkHere’s a link to the letter SLCC received from SDCC’s law firm of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP. And here’s a copy of the press release that Salt Lake Comic Con sent out.

San Diego Comic-Con International vs. Salt Lake Comic Con 
- San Diego Comic-Con International sends cease and desist order siting intellectual property infringement for use of name of “Comic Con” -
SALT LAKE CITY, July 26, 2014 – On Friday, July 25, 2014 Salt Lake Comic Con ( organizers received a cease and desist order from San Diego Comic-Con International asserting that Salt Lake Comic Con cannot use the term “Comic Con” for any event, logo, trademark or website moving forward, further claiming ownership of all variations of the generic term “Comic Con.”
San Diego Comic-Con International is asserting intellectual property infringement for use of the name “Comic Con”, challenging hundreds of comic conventions around the country and the world already using the words comic con for their show.
To view a copy of the cease and desist order or to join Salt Lake Comic Con’s effort to protect Comic Con, click here.
Dan Farr Productions produces the Salt Lake Comic Con events.  The next Salt Lake Comic Con is scheduled for September 4-6, 2014 at the Salt Palace Convention Center in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah.
“This cease and desist order is baseless and has been attempted before by this organization and has failed. Our primary concern is our fans and making sure we provide them with an event that allows them to meet, greet and get up close and personal with their favorite celebrities and pop culture icons,” said Dan Farr, Salt Lake Comic Con Founder and Show Producer.  “We’re puzzled why Salt Lake Comic Con was apparently singled out amongst the hundreds of Comic Cons around the country and the world. We intend to vigorously defend ourselves from this frivolous action.”
In one year, Salt Lake Comic Con has achieved record setting success.  The first Salt Lake Comic Con surpassed more than 72,000 fans.  In its second event called Salt Lake Comic Con FanXperience (FanX) attendance exceeded more than 100,000 people making it the third largest Comic Con in the country. For Salt Lake Comic Con 2014 show organizers anticipate an even larger outpouring of fan support with expectations of more than 120,000 fans.
“San Diego Comic-Con International is threatening not only us, but all the other Comic Cons by trying to prohibit them from using the term for their events, “said Bryan Brandenburg, Salt Lake Comic Con Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer.   “San Diego Comic-Con attempted to trademark ‘Comic Con’ in 1995 and the application failed. Furthermore, precedence for the mark ‘Comic Con’ was set when Denver Comic Con received a trademark for their convention on November 26, 2013. Nobody owns the words ‘Comic Con’ (short for comic convention) and the United States Patent and Trademark Office has already ruled on this.”
To find out more information about Salt Lake Comic Con, the country’s third largest comic con, visit the Salt Lake Comic Con website.
Salt Lake Comic Con is organized by Dan Farr Productions in partnership with Media One of Utah, a joint operating agreement between the Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret News, and ABC4/CW30 of the Nexstar Broadcasting Group. Dan Farr Productions is an event and marketing group devoted to organizing events, launching and acquiring new shows, and partnering with premium celebrities and brands in the pop culture arena. Dan Farr Productions is dedicated to producing spectacular celebrations of popular culture that lead the market in providing exceptional and rewarding experiences for our consumers, fans, celebrity guests, vendors and partners. Find out more at:,

While I’m not a lawyer, I know quite a few individuals who are, and a few individuals who actually deal in trademark. Companies doing this sort of thing isn’t anything new. So, I decided to consult them as to what this all means and how much of a viable case San Diego Comic-Con has.

SDCC started in 1970, and since then dozens of other conventions using “Comic-Con” (or some variation) have sprung up. SDCC even isn’t the first “Comic-Con,” that belongs to the British Comic Art Convention which began in 1968, and does go by Comicon. That variation is important as you’ll see below. There is a strong case that the “Comic-Con” mark has been abandoned, as mark owners have a positive duty to defend the mark, or lose it.

SDCC’s complaint stems from SLCC supposedly sending a car to promote their show during San Diego Comic-Con 2014. Except, that didn’t happen. In an interview with The Outhousers, SLCC gives us the scoop:

There are “comic cons,” “comic-cons,” and “comiccons” all over the world every year. Why do you think Salt Lake Comic Con has been targeted in particular?

They found out we were bringing our wrapped car to San Diego and threatened us with legal action. We agreed not to bring it down and didn’t but they sent the letter anyway

We also had our 2nd event the same weekend as their Wonder Con and we had record attendance over 100,000 and they did poorly.


So, claims made in the letter to begin with are possibly false. But there’s the trademark claim itself. San Diego Comic-Con has sent “cease and desist” notices in the past, for example to Chicago Comic-Con, but those haven’t gone anywhere. So, they aren’t defending their trademark at all, and at a minimum not consistently. If you fail to enforce it, there’s legal consequences about how much you can defend it down the road, and what you’d get out of it if you do.

Next there’s the trademark granted. San Diego’s trademark is  for “Comic-Con” while Salt Lake uses “Comic Con.” It is a minor detail, but could be enough to distinguish the two uses in combination with the other context. If SDCC also claims the name without a hyphen, then they might also try to use other derivations including Comicon, which as we stated before was in use for a convention that proceeds SDCC by two years. Also, originally as filed, the term “Comic-Con” is a pretty narrow term to begin with, as it is not really unique . It is, at its heart, an abbreviation.

There’s also a chance that any decision if it were to go to court would grant the convention the use of the trademark in a geographic area, but not generally. Basically, San Diego to prevail would likely need to show actual damages from Salt Lake’s move. SDCC claims that SLCC promoted their show a the same time, both in person and online. Unfortunately for SDCC, so have many other conventions with the word “Comic-Con” in them. I’ve seen numerous online ads for instance during the same time period with that trademarked item included.

Salt Lake Comic Con has vowed they’re going to fight this, and they should, as from my understanding as well as the lawyer I consulted, San Diego’s claim is thin at best. But more importantly, this needs to be fought, because while SLCC might be the latest to be bullied, they won’t be the last.

SDCC 2014: The Zombie Walk Hit and Run

One of the biggest stories to come out of this year’s San Diego Comic-Con isn’t about the latest movies, comics, or television shows, but about a hit and run car accident involving this year’s Zombie Walk. Occurring for the last 8 years, the Zombie Walk sees hundreds in makeup and zombified walk through the streets of San Diego.

As The Wrap reported:

A deaf family with small children was inside the vehicle when it slowly rolled through a large crowd of pedestrians, the San Diego Police Department said in a statement given to TheWrap. The incident happened as Zombie Walk participants lined the streets near the corner of 2nd and Island Avenues just after 5:30 p.m., police said. The deaf family was waiting for the Zombie Walk participants to cross the street, so that they could proceed. But after several minutes, “the 48-year-old male driver slowly rolled forward trying to get out of the area,” the SDPD statement said, adding that the man’s children “were afraid of the crowd.” Several people from the crowd of zombies and other pedestrians then “surrounded and began punching the car,” police said. The attack left the vehicle’s windshield shattered. During the chaos, a 64-year-old woman was struck and “sustained serious arm injuries when she fell under the car,” police said. The man’s condition was not known. “The crowd then chased the car on foot as the family drove toward a police officer down the street,” police said. The driver stopped and told police what happened.

In the world where everyone has a camera attached video has surfaced making it pretty clear what was going on. You can see in the video below that the car involved was waiting for the crossing, but became impatient, trying to roll through the crowd. People approach the side of the car to tell them to stop, and when it doesn’t some sit on the hood in hopes that would stop the car from plowing through the crowd. That’s the point the driver guns it through the crowd. It looks like the driver provokes the crowd, not the other way around as claimed.

All the other cars remained patient and were waiting for the crowd. Police caught up with the driver a few blocks down the road, and removed him from the area for his “safety.”

The bigger question is why didn’t the police block each of the roads as the crowd passed through, and then open up the road once they completely passed?

SDCC 2014: Police Need Your Help Concerning a Cosplayer (Updated)

When a lot of the discussion before, during, and after San Diego Comic-Con has been about cosplay, harassment and consent, this drives home the point something needs to be done, and conventions need to take safety seriously. Tumblr blog Test Your Luck has the details.

One of my dearest friends was found on the side of the road, unconscious and bloody. She was wearing this cosplay on the day it happened. She was last seen with friends when she ran off after a disagreement. Please, please, please, if you have ANY information or saw her anywhere, contact her mother. The full information is down below. This isn’t okay and it’s sickening to know that this happened at a place people truly can enjoy themselves. Please spread the word.

”I just received a call from the San Diego Police Department and my daughter (redacted) aka (redacted) was found on the side of the road covered in blood with no ID unconscious. They are unsure what happened to her. My husband is on his way to the police station and then the hospital. If you have any information on what happened to her please send me a facebook message or call me at (redacted). Thank you in advance”. -(redacted)

This is a good time for the community to come together and pass along info if they have any information, even a photo of the girl helps put together a timeline.

I removed the number of the mother, instead please call the San Diego Police Department at (619) 531-2000 or (858) 484-3154. – See third update below

Update: G33k HQ has reported that SDPD says the San Diego Harbor Police are handling it, which explains why they could neither confirm or deny it when we originally contacted them. We’ve reached out to the SDHPD for verification and further details.

Update 2: I’ve tracked down the parents Facebook pages. The pages do look legit, have lots of friends and been active for quite some time. They both mention this unfortunate incident. For those saying this is a “hoax,” I don’t believe it is.

Update 3: We received a press release from the San Diego Harbor Police:


Since the victim is a minor, her privacy and that of her family should be respected. I’ve removed photos of the victim, and links to any identifying info out of respect.

SDCC 2014: LEGO Rocket & Groot, Batcycle, and new LEGO Movie Set With Batman!

LEGO always brings their “A” game when it comes to displays at conventions. This year’s San Diego Comic-Con saw a LEGO Rocket Raccoon and Groot, Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, as well as a Batcycle.

lego batcyclelego stay puftlego-booth-gotgAlso making their debuts were two sets. One we covered Green Lantern vs Sinestro, and also the much rumored LEGO Movie set 70817 LEGO Batman & Super Angry Kitty Attack. This new set not only features characters from the movie, but also a Batman with a unique face. The best part, it will retail for $9.99.

70817-lego-movie(photos via LEGO and BrickHeroes)

SDCC 2014: Marvel Announces Three New Star Wars Comics

At San Diego Comic-Con Lucasfilm Ltd. and Marvel Entertainment announced the iconic Star Wars franchise will return to Marvel in 2015 with a line-up of three comic book titles chronicling the adventures of a galaxy far, far away.  Beginning in January 2015, prepare for Star Wars by writer Jason Aaron, artist John Cassaday and colorist Laura Martin, Darth Vader by writer Kieron Gillen and artist Salvador Larroca and Princess Leia by writer Mark Waid and artist Terry Dodson.

Taking place immediately after the events of Star Wars: A New Hope, the Force returns to Marvel in January with three new series spotlighting beloved characters from the iconic trilogy! Created in close partnership with Lucasfilm, the three new Star Wars series will exist as part of the canon for the Star Wars universe!

It all starts this January when Jason Aaron, John Cassaday and Laura Martin take fans back to the days following the destruction of the first Death Star in Star Wars! Discussing the flagship series, writer Jason Aaron tells, “Every story is about the characters, and we’ll focus on all the old favorites. There will be big moments for everyone, from Han to R2-D2. But a major part of the narrative will be driven by Luke Skywalker and his journey of discovery, a journey that will decide the fate of the entire galaxy.”

However, the return of the Rebel Alliance to Marvel Comics also invites the return of its opposition, the Imperial Forces of the Galactic Empire and in February 2015, Kieron Gillen plans to delve into the psyche of one of the vilest villains of all time with the new ongoing series Darth Vader. Witness the struggle for the freedom of an entire galaxy – from the Dark Side!

Then, in March 2015, Mark Waid & Terry Dodson bring you the harrowing tale of loss and hope in the 5-issue limited series Princess Leia! Fresh from the Rebel Alliance’s victory at the Battle of Yavin, Leia must confront the reality that her homeworld has been destroyed. But in the light of such tragedy, there is always hope. Skilled equally with diplomacy as she is a blaster, witness the rise of one of the greatest heroines in history as she takes her rightful place as one of the Alliance’s peerless leaders!

Written by JASON AARON
Art & Cover by JOHN CASSADAY
Coming January 2015!


Coming February 2015!


Written by MARK WAID
Art & Cover by TERRY DODSON
Coming March 2015!

Darth_Vader_1_Cover Princess_Leia_1_Cover Star_Wars_1_Cover

SDCC 2014: Star Trek Meets Planet of the Apes!

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to “mind-meld” with a sentient ape? Or wanted to see a Klingon on horseback, brandishing a rifle? Readers will soon have a chance to peek into just such an alternate future, as IDW Publishing partners with BOOM! Studios for the crossover event of the year: Star Trek/Planet of the Apes.

IDW will publish the crossover, which will mark the first time BOOM! Studios has partnered with another publisher on a series. Together they will bring Star Trek, licensed by CBS Consumer Products, and 20th Century Fox’s Planet of the Apes together in a way that is sure to delight existing fans and make new ones. The series will pair the original U.S.S. Enterprise crew with Taylor, Nova and the cast from the original Planet of the Apes film.

The creative team will be a mix of proven experience and new blood with scripts by beloved Star Trek scribes Scott and David Tipton and interior art and covers by the British newcomer Rachael Stott.

star trek planet of the apes

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