Author Archives: GCBTs

Anyone Comics’ Grand Opening (Six Months Late)

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Last Wednesday night (or maybe even early Thursday morning), in a fit of social media induced insomnia, I came across the tweet to the left.

Nothing remarkable about it, except I recognized the guy on the left as an old friend I lost tracked of: Dimitrios. One day he just ‘disappeared’, and no one would tell me anything.

Now wide awake, I went on a slight psycho stalker cyber bender trying to figure out where he ended up. My late-night sleuthing yielded fruit (Batman would have been proud). Dimitrios, who I’ve known for close to over ten years, and who I met at his previous employer (where he started off as a clerk on the comic book floor and ended up a few years later managing the place, followed by a continuing stint as a comic book writer with his own creator series), took it to the next level and is now the comic book store proprietor at Anyone Comics.

Following through on my psycho cyber stalking, I found the store’s Facebook page and came across an event for the following day: a signing for Forward Comix’s ‘NoWhere Man’ by Jerome Walford. I now had a reason to go visit.

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Google Maps had the tripped pegged at about one and half hours. The next day, and a three-hour drive pass construction delays on the Merritt and Van Wyck, and bumper to bumper traffic down the Jackie Robinson and Eastern Parkways, I made it to Crown Heights, Brooklyn. After managing to miraculous squeeze my truck into a below average size parking space it had no business fitting into, I finally was able to walk into the storefront around 7:30 PM.

As soon as I saw Dimitrio’s smile all that driving stress melted away. We immediately got to talking, and he caught me up on all the latest events.  Listening to him detail how he came up with a business plan, and lined up investors to front the opening of his store (back in March of 2017), was short of amazing and living proof that if you put your mind to something, one can accomplish anything. As to his ‘disappearance’, it had something to do with a non-compete clause in effect, but I probably should not talk about that much.

He then proceeded to give me the grand tour of the place, with idea after idea spilling out of his head, as he went over what was now obviously a two-floor comic book store plus, complete with Game of Thrones Screenings, Drink and Draws, Sequential Art Classes, and Freelancer Rental Spaces (check out his Facebook Page for more details).  He even pulled down the storefront gate to show off the Spidey Mural painted by Damion Scott.

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The signing was great too, with Jerome Walford and N. Steve Harris on hand signing and displaying their wares.  I picked up a few goodies (all six issues of ‘NoWhere Man’ and the ‘Gwan Anthology’) to keep me up later that night; and I got the latest issue of ‘Millennials’ signed by Dimitrios himself!

Yes, I am Hulk green with envy, but Dimitrios is such an affable gregarious guy, you just can’t but be happy for him and wish him the best of luck–it’s impossible to be a hater around him. His knowledge of the comic book world is endless, and one can spend hours in the store just listening him narrate tale after tale.  If you are ever in the Brooklyn, Crown Heights area, stop by Anyone Comics and purchase something; and make sure Dimitrios tells you the comic book story on How Dr. Doom came to owe Luke Cage $200.00.  Funny as hell!20170824_201328

An Inaugural Signing at JHU with R. Sikoryak

This past Friday, as the nation inaugurated its 45th President; I attended another function at Jim Hanley’s Universe in Midtown Manhattan. One which the President himself designated for “losers.”

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R. Sikoryak was on deck, signing copies of his dark satirical comic book pamphlet “The Unquotable Trump.”

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“Robert Sikoryak is an American artist specializing in comic adaptations of literature classics, producing a mashup of high culture and low culture. Under Masterpiece Comics, he has produced “Crime and Punishment” rendered in Bob Kane–era Batman style, becoming Dostoyevsky Comics, starring Raskol; and Waiting for Godot mixed with Beavis and Butt-Head, becoming Waiting to Go.” (see Wikipedia).

As he elegantly signed and sketched my copy, we chatted for a while, expressing hope that our new President will at least try to do the right things for our nation, but expressing fear at what his past behavior forebodes; and that is what this little gloomy comic book is about.

It is a collection of some of Trump’s most horrific quotes mashed up with comic book villainy. You can magically hear the Darth Vader theme song in your head, as you flip through this slim book’s black and white drawn parody pages of famous comic book covers from the past.

My favorite is Trump portrayed as Magneto, in the iconic X-Men # 1 comic book cover from the nineties:

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This one, however, gave me the heebie jeebies …

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No matter whose side you are on, pick up a copy, if only to remind yourself of what led to this day, and to remain vigilant.

Solarman Signing at Jim Hanley’s Universe (NYC)

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Last week a momentous event occurred in the history of comic books.  Perhaps it was overlooked by most, but for me it was an occasion to celebrate. In all of the 35 plus years I’ve been reading comic books, not once have I ever read a superhero story set in my old home town of East New York in Brooklyn, New York–and if anyone knows of any others please let me know.

Then, yesterday, to keep the party going, Joseph Phillip Illidge and N. Steven Harris were on site, at Jim Hanley’s Universe (32nd Street, New York City location), to sign and promote their premiere issue of Solarman from Scout Comics.

I asked Illidge why East New York for our new hero’s home. His reply: (1) It has never been done before and should have; and (2) It’s the last holdout neighborhood in Brooklyn that has not been gentrified (I can testify to that if necessary, but with time that can change fast).

This latest iteration of Solarman is a far cry from the original (the character was created by David Oliphant and Deborah A. Kalman, and published by Marvel Comics as a two-issue series written in 1989 by Stan Lee with art by Mike Zeck). The Ben Tucker of today is a much more relatable character (a street-mart Black superhero hacker versus the historically dweebish artist), who can navigate the tough streets of East New York with aplomb, even if he has to take a beating every now and then. Plus, for the first time ever, the alien incursion begins in E.N.Y.

Get yourself a copy, you won’t regret it. The writing is solid, and the graphics are superb; and if your local comic book shop is out, then order it directly from Scout Comics.

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Double Feature Signing at Forbidden Planet, NYC

20160601_174218Forbidden Planet advertised that this week’s New Comic Book Day would be special; and indeed, they were right. Of course it helped that they hosted a double feature today, with Brendan Fletcher and Sarah Stern signing their new release from BOOM! Studio, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Pink #1; followed by signings and sketches from Valiant Entertainment’s exclusive artists — hailing all the way from Spain — Andres Guinaldo and Pere Pérez.

First up, were Brenden Fletcher and Sarah Stern. The pair was great to meet and chat with. Admittedly, the Power Rangers are not my normal cup of tea, but with Brenden and Kelly Thompson on duty for writing, together with Daniele Di Nicuolo providing the art, and Sarah Stern on Colors, I decided to give the Pink Ranger’s first solo comic book adventure a try—and I was not disappointed. Power Ranger fan, or not, this is a good book that stands on its own.  This is no mallrat Pink Ranger; she is a much more modern, and stronger, female character in their capable hands. In addition, it was confirmed that the LumberJanes/Gotham Academy crossover mini-series would be out very soon (most likely within the next few weeks, and there’s a sneak preview in this week’s issue of Pink Ranger).

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Brendan was also kind enough to sign my Batgirl books, which resulted in learning a new interesting comic book factoid. The Darwyn Cooke –may he rest in peace– variant cover for Batgirl #37 was the only time Cooke ever drew Batgirl in the New 52 costume.

An hour later, the Valiant Team arrived with Andres Guinaldo and Pere Pérez, plus a slew of Blank Sketch cover books. I opted for an Eternal Warrior sketch from Andres; and Pere at request, drew two awesome Rai and Bloodshot head busts. Watching these two Spanish artistic virtuosos at work was a magical experience–the beautiful sketches speak for themselves. Expect to see more from these two, as the Valiant Universe continues to expand exponentially.

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AMC’s Preacher: Preview Screening and Conversation at 92Y NYC

ticketThis past evening I was fortunate enough to snag a ticket to the 92nd Street YMCA’s Preview Screening and Conversation of AMC‘s Preacher. I got to watch the spectacular pilot episode before it airs Sunday evening May 22; and hear from the show’s cast and creators: stars Dominic Cooper (Jesse Custer), Ruth Negga (Tulip) and Joseph Gilgun (Cassidy), creators and executive producers Sam Catlin and Seth Rogen, together with co-executive producer and comic book writer Garth Ennis!

preacheramccoverSpoiler Alert! I’ll try not give too much away, but I will be touching on action scenes, themes, and differences from the original DC Comics/Vertigo comic book, that the reader may want to experience on their own before reading further. Everyone else, read on.

The pilot is not a faithful rendition of the comic book series. There were no nineties references, and it is clear that the time setting is present day–as evidenced by the ubiquitous iPad presence in Church. Nonetheless, it remains true to the spirit of Garth Ennis’ and Steve Dillon‘s original work.

It begins with what can only be Genesis’ (details are not given in the premiere episode) explosive escape across the cosmos, and then takes a few steps back to dig deeper into the story of Jesse Custer’s early years as a Preacher in his old hometown of Annville, Texas. Along the way enter Cassidy–Joseph Gilgun as the hard drinking Irish Vampire is literally the perfect casting choice–and Tulip into the Preacher’s life. Both make thrilling debuts: with Cassidy viscerally fighting his way out of an airplane in flight; and badass Tulip brutally dispatching mercenary gangsters and taking down an attack helicopter with an arts and crafts bazooka. Copious profanity and explosive gory bloodletting violence abounds, but it’s clear AMC has put some limits–No “F” words for sure. A more articulate Arseface also makes an appearance sans the expected Nirvana music (a played down hip-hop riff streamed into his room instead). Meanwhile, throughout the episode, a frustrated Jesse, battles his urges to give up on his divisive, self-centered, and bat-shit crazy flock. To tell more, would give the entire show away, but one last item of importance deserves mention: Tom Cruise blows up, and Dianetics is validated as a religion.

Abraham Riesman (of Vulture fame) moderated the humorous conversation amongst the show’s stars and creators. Seth Rogen promised a saw fight, not to be missed, in episode two; and confirmed that a certain two-pistol wielding Saint will be appearing in future episodes.

This show is another winner for AMC. Seth Rogen has put together a solid production–extremely well written by Sam Catlin and his crew, with significant input from Ennis and Dillon–that is guaranteed to achieve cult status.  In closing, while everyone else ran to Seth, Dominic, Ruth and Joseph for autographs, I was able to hit Garth for his Hollywood signature on my old Preacher TPB!

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Overall Rating: 9.5

4 Kids Walk Into a Bank and a Signing at Midtown Comics

20160428_192310.jpgYet another awesome signing at Midtown Comic’s NYC downtown location at Fulton Street.  This past Thursday, Matthew Rosenberg and Tyler Boss were onsite for the launch of their new book: 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank.  Also, I met some cool fans while waiting on line, including Brian, Francis, and P.J.–a probie firefighter, and a true hero, from Brooklyn’s FDNY Engine 224.

The response to this book has been incredible.  Even here at our site the staff has, in a rare show of unison, demonstrated their love of the comic. No mean feat, given what a harmonious lot–yes that’s sarcasm–us comic book fans can be. You can read positive reviews about this fun and charming book here and here and here. Rarely do you see a comic book strike such a common chord across a wide fan base. This one is definitely something special. It has a certain je ne sais quoi that can’t be codified or quantified in any meaningful way–in short … it’s a hit.

Pick it up.  Plenty of copies floating around (at least on the East Coast), so it shouldn’t be too hard to find; or follow Matthew Rosenberg @ashcanpress on Twitter. He and Tyler are dropping signed copies all over the place, and tweeting about it.  Worst case scenario, I already hear from the rumor mill that a second printing is slated for May 25th.

Again, a special thanks to Matthew Rosenberg and Tyler Boss for signing all my books, and I am looking forward to that podcast. Really, I am!

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A Swing By East Coast Comic Con 2016

This was my first year at the East Coast Comic Con.  The event, sponsored by Crucial Entertainment at the Meadowlands Exposition Center in New Jersey, attracted a sizable crowd. It was a low key event with a bevy of writers and artists, both old and new. Mark Waid, Ann Nocenti, Cliff Chiang, Mike Zeck, Carl Potts, Simon Bisley, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez,  James O’Barr and many others attended. For the Star Trek fans, Nichelle Nichols, who was cast by Gene Roddenberry as Chief Communications Officer Lt. Uhura, fourth in command of the Starship Enterprise, in the legendary TV series, was present.

Everyone was friendly, and a few artists charged for access and signatures, but most only asked for a donation to charity for an amount of your choice. I managed to get a photo op with Bisley (I suspect the bottle of Knob Creek I gifted him helped smooth things over), and listen on his educational rants– he is entertaining as hell, and a Harley Davidson fan. I got to meet a few new people, and as I attend more and more of these events, catch up with some familiar faces.

Dan Greenfield of 13th Dimension hosted one of  many panels with Mark Waid, the Harvey Award and multiple Eisner Award winning writer, who discussed his career and his contributions to the world of comics, from the groundbreaking Kingdom Come to his ventures in self-publishing. In case anyone out there is wondering, the next issue of Strange Fruit (BOOM! Studios) is due out in two weeks.

Of course there were plenty of cos-players onsite. The best was watching the Marvel and DC players get together for group photos.  I was speaking to one of the players, and learned that there are forums where these folks gather to plan out their get-togethers at comic cons for photo opportunities. Also, for the kids (and some adults) there were lightsaber fighting lessons by New York Jedi.

Check out the slideshow, with pics and some sigs I snagged, below:


 

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Dark Horse’s House of Penance Signing at JHU

I got to meet two more comic book greats at Jim Hanley’s Universe yesterday: Peter Tomasi and Ian Bertram who were on hand to promote their new book from Dark Horse Comics, Penance.

Our very own Christopher Scott already gave it a positive review that you can check out here. After reading it myself, I concur. Penance is Tomasi’s and Bertram’s take on the mythological story behind San Jose’s Winchester Mystery House, built by Sarah Winchester, the uber wealthy widow of gun baron William Wirt Winchester.  Augmented by Bertram’s grim and macabre artwork, issue one lays the groundwork for the mystery behind Sarah’s madness and incessant infatuation with the construction of the house.

The team already have five issues penned and ready for printing, so go out and buy it, you won’t regret it!

Bonus! Tomasi also signed my copy of Superman #51:

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DC’s Doctor Fate Signing at Midtown Comics

20160401_193853Last Friday evening, both Paul Levitz and Sonny Liew were on hand at Midtown Comics’ NYC downtown location, promoting the release of their Doctor Fate seven issue run as a trade paper back. The line was long, as both the veteran Levitz, and younger Liew, attracted a new merry band of merged followers.

The newfangled TPB is a refreshing look at DC’s  Doctor Fate character, with Thoth’s helmet being taken over by a reluctant Egyptian-America, caught in the middle of a war of gods, and his own inner battles with belief and culture. Khalid Nassir–a medical student on his way to becoming a doctor in more ways than one–juggles family, work, school, and a declining love life. Added to his mess of a life, is the apocalyptic flooding of the Bayshore area, where old forgotten Egyptian gods conspire to cleanse the earth, and usher in a new era sans humans. Chosen by Fate, to take on the unwanted duties of stopping Anubis and his co-conspiratorial Egyptian pantheon, the rookie Khalid must learn quickly to harness his new prophetic powers over nature, while he tries to sort out his more mundane problems.

The book reads more like an indie title, than the normal fare I would expect at DC. Also, as an ex-Brooklynite, the real life settings–which is atypical of DC comics–add a personal emotional element (i.e. the fire scene at Maimonides Hospital, where my daughter was born). Plus, it is extremely well illustrated by Sonny Liew, whose relaxed art explodes into an energetic frenzy when necessary. I didn’t pick up the originals, but after reading the trade, I am rethinking that. Back issues are still readily available, so go buy them before everyone else wises up, and supply dwindles out.

As a bonus, Sonny Liew was also signing his 300 page opus graphic novel: The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye. More on that later (it’s a thick one, and it’s going to take me a few days to work through it). Here’s a sneak peek:

 

Assassin’s Creed: Templars Signing at Jim Hanley’s Universe

20160330_190045-120160330_183249Yet another awesome signing at Jim Hanley’s Universe (JHU). On Wednesday they had Fred Van Lente and Dennis Calero on site, promoting their latest Titan Comics release: Assassin’s Creed: Templars.

Based on the hit video game, it’s story focuses on the Assassins’ nemesis the Templars. It introduces a new character, the Black Cross, an effective killer, who is just as deadly as any member of the Assassin order. Add a beautifully drawn noirish 1927 China setting, and this book sells itself. Don’t just take my word for it, go out and buy it.

Fred Van Lente is a great writer I’ve been following for sometime, and he was even kind enough to sign my hard copy edition of Action Philosophers. If he keeps writing, I promise to keep on thinking.ap

And a special thanks, to Dennis Calero, who not to be outdone, threw in this awesome Black Cross sketch. I’m in for the next four issues.

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