Category Archives: Conventions

Image Announces a Slew of Creators for the Rose City Comic Con Homecoming Dance

Fan-favorite Image Comics creators Chip Zdarsky, Babs Tarr, Matt Fraction, and Kelly Sue DeConnick have all RSVP’d to participate in the Image Comics’ Fall Homecoming dance! Don’t miss your chance to rub elbows with your favorite comics creators and celebrate Image Comics’ 25th anniversary with dancing, refreshments, and a photobooth.

Tickets to the Image Comics Fall Homecoming Dance are on sale now.

Back by popular demand, Image Comics is pleased to host a very special formal Fall Homecoming dance for the comics community during the Rose City Comic Con festivities. The dance will be held on Saturday, September 9th from 8:30 p.m. – 12:30 a.m. at The Evergreen. This event will be 21+ only. IDs will be checked at the door.

Image Comics’ Fall Homecoming will be in the style and spirit of a traditional high school dance and all comics fans and industry members are encouraged to come mix, mingle, and dance the night away.

Image Comics Fall Homecoming ticket tiers:

  • $20: Entry ticket
  • $45: Add-on pack, including an Image t-shirt, variant cover comic, commemorative pint glass, and enamel pin
  • $79: VIP pack—ticket to the party, add-on pack items, and access to special VIP area at the venue (limited quantity, only 100 VIP tickets available)
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Aspen Comics to Highlight No World #1 Release at RuPaul’s Drag Con 2017

This weekend at RuPaul’s Drag Con 2017 taking place at the Los Angeles Convention Center, Aspen Comics letterer Zen (Michael Turner’s Fathom and Soulfire) will be appearing both days, April 29th and 30th exclusively at Table 842.

Aspen’s Comics’ No World #1 debuted this week in comic book stores and will also be available at Zen’s table all weekend long at Drag Con.

Baltimore Comic-Con 2017 Announces Second Round of Guests

The 18th annual Baltimore Comic-Con will be held September 22-24, 2017. Returning to the Baltimore Convention Center in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, the 2017 guest list continues to grow. If you have not already taken advantage, you can purchase your tickets now.

The Baltimore Comic-Con is extremely proud to announce as guests for the 2017 event: Joel Adams (Bucky O’Hare Graphic Novel Coloring Book), Zeea Adams (Neal Adams Monsters), Marty Baumann (Toybox Time Machine: A Catalog of the Coolest Toys Never Made), Lee Bermejo (Batman: Noel), Buzz (Superman: The Coming of the Supermen), Richard Case (King: Jungle Jim), Elias Chatzoudis (Peepland), Amy Chu (KISS), Gerry Conway (Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows, courtesy of Hero Initiative), Kristina Deak-Linsner (Dawn/Vampirella), Joshua Dysart (Imperium, courtesy of Hero Initiative), John Gallagher (Underdog), Brian Joines (Bill & Ted Go to Hell), Arvell M. Jones (Marvel Premiere), JG Jones (Batwoman),Justin Jordan (Planet of the Apes/Green Lantern), Tony Kordos (Batman and Robin Eternal), Alisa Kwitney (Convergence Batgirl), Greg LaRocque (Stargate Atlantis: Hearts & Minds), Joe Linsner (Harley Quinn), Andrew MacLean (Head Lopper), Elliott S. Maggin (Superman, courtesy of Hero Initiative), Alitha Martinez (Black Panther: World of Wakanda), Ron Marz (Dread Gods), Ed McGuinness (Spider-Man/Deadpool), Carla Speed McNeil (Finder), Steve McNiven (Secret Empire), Melody Often (Amazing Forest), Denny O’Neil (Green Lantern/Green Arrow, courtesy of Hero Initiative), Tom Palmer (The Avengers), Dan Parent (Your Pal Archie), George Perez (Teen Titans, courtesy of Hero Initiative), Khoi Pham (Teen Titans courtesy of Hero Initiative), Keith Pollard (Fantastic Four, courtesy of Hero Initiative), Afua Richardson (Black Panther), Rafer Roberts (Rai: The History of the Valiant Universe), Bart Sears (Dread Gods), Megan Sloane (Lark’s Killer), Andy Smith (Earth 2), Brian Stelfreeze (Black Panther), John Totleben (Convergence: Swamp Thing), Gus Vazquez (Big Hero 6), Freddie E. Williams II (Batman/TMNT), Bill Willingham (The Kamandi Challenge), Ron Wilson (The Thing), Marv Wolfman (Raven, courtesy of Hero Initiative), David Yardin (Jean Grey), Kelly Yates (Torchwood), and Thom Zahler (Time & Vine).

In addition to on-site CGC grading, this year’s confirmed guests for the show include: Neal Adams (Harley’s Little Black Book), Jeremy Bastian (Cursed Pirate Girl), Reilly Brown (Slapstick), Mark Buckingham (Everafter: From the Pages of Fables), Dave Bullock (The Rocketeer at War), Jim Calafiore (Surviving Megalopolis), Frank Cho (Skybourne), Steve Conley (The Middle Age), Amanda Conner (Harley Quinn), Todd Dezago (The Perhapanauts), David Finch (Batman), Meredith Finch (Catwoman: Election Night), Ramona Fradon (Convergence: Plastic Man and the Freedom Fighters), Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez (Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman), Michael Golden (Doctor Strange), Scott Hanna (Wonder Woman), Dean Haspiel (Dark Horse Presents), Klaus Janson (Dark Knight III: The Master Race), Kazu Kibuishi (Harry Potter covers), Matt Kindt (Ninjak), Sharlene Kindt (Dept. H), Tom King (Batman), Barry Kitson (Avengers), Hope Larson (Batgirl), David Marquez (Civil War II), Mike McKone (Old Man Logan), Mike Mignola (Hellboy), Mark Morales (Deathstroke), Greg Pak (The Totally Awesome Hulk), Jimmy Palmiotti (Harley Quinn), Paul Pelletier (Cyborg), David Petersen (Mouse Guard), Brandon Peterson (Revolution), Tom Raney (Invincible Iron Man), Don Rosa (Donald Duck), Craig Rousseau (The Perhapanauts), Andy Runton (Owly), Julie Fujii Sakai (Peanuts: A Tribute to Charles M. Schulz); Stan Sakai (Usagi Yojimbo); Stuart Sayger (Krampus: Shadow of Saint Nicholas), Louise Simonson (Faith); Walter Simonson (Ragnarok); Rob Stull (Executive Assistant: Orchid), Peter Tomasi (Superman), Billy Tucci (Shi), James Tynion IV (Detective Comics), Ethan Van Sciver (Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps), Mark Waid (Avengers), Renee Witterstaetter (Joe Jusko: Maelstrom), and Rich Woodall (Kyrra: Alien Jungle Girl).

C2E2 2017: Kieron Gillen Talks High Fantasy, “Self-Hatred,” and Music Spoiling Comics

Through his creator owned comics Phonogram and The Wicked + the Divine with artist Jamie McKelvie and colorist Matthew Wilson, Kieron Gillen has masterfully melded the fantastic worlds of music and urban fantasy into an exciting read experience. He has also conquered the worlds of Marvel with the delightful Young Avengers and way too sad Loki solo series Journey into Mystery among others as well as comics set in a galaxy far far away, like Doctor Aphra and Darth Vader. He’s also one hell of a DJ and has quite the Twitter pun game.

At C2E2, I got the opportunity to chat with Kieron about being a fantasy writer, and how the characters of WicDiv have all become terrible people. We also preview the upcoming WicDiv 455 special set in ancient Rome and ponder the fate of Phonogram‘s David Kohl (and his fiction suit wearer Kieron Gillen) in 2017 as well as strain out some of that book’s autobiographical bits.

Graphic Policy: I guess you could classify WicDiv and Phonogram as urban fantasy. (And Journey into Mystery, now that I think of it.) What has drawn you to the fantasy genre over and over again, and do you have any particular books or fantasy films that have influenced you?

Kieron Gillen: Back when I was starting to write comics, I used to call myself a speculative fiction writer. The person I was seeing told me, “No, you’re not, Kieron.” She said, “You’re a fantasy writer. Making a world where music is magic isn’t speculative fiction.” Being a speculative fiction writer is much cooler because science fiction writers are genuinely cooler than fantasy writers in my opinion. It’s real work as opposed to fantasy, which is just making shit up.

It took me a long time to accept [being a fantasy writer]. I burnt out on a lot of fantasy as a teenager. I had a kind of “come to Jesus” moment where I was like “What on Earth is this shit?” A lot of fantasy is just shit like the travelogue school of fantasy where there’s a map, the heroes will go around the map, and the big mountain. At least, Tolkien had a degree of originality.

So, the idea of me identifying as a fantasy writer is anathema. But then there’s the whole idea of urban fantasy. I used to write essays about this when I was a music writer before I realized [urban fantasy] was what I wanted to write. It was the idea of the transformation of an environment. The magic in Phonogram is that we have a world, and then you add something over the world. Like augmented reality.

People tell me that Phonogram gives them permission to view listening to music and going to clubs as a magical space. It always makes me think about parkour. My favorite thing about parkour, at least when it started, was the idea that buildings are designed as prisons for people. But, in your imagination, it can turn into a playground. They’ve chosen to see the world differently, and there’s always things to traverse.

This is kind of what urban fantasy does. You have a world and overlay it. There’s magic here. It’s like when I was a kid and loved Transformers. That car [Outside the convention center] could be a fucking robot. It’s like the Kurt Busiek core idea about superheroes. We have this magical thing in the world, and the world doesn’t change. The point of Superman is that you can see him fly past you in the skyline. If you take superheroes too seriously, you become something alternate history like Uber or science fiction. Add a superhero, and the world changes enormously.

I’ve actually been digging into primary world fantasy, like Middle Earth, as opposed to Narnia, which is a secondary world. It’s something I want to do in the future.

GP: You doing high fantasy would be awesome.

KG: I’ve said in a few interviews that I’m working on my next big, spangly thing. It’s a very literary high fantasy. It’s very grown up. I say grown up as a very loaded term because high fantasy is trashy in many ways. But I want to dig into some bigger themes and see what I can do with the genre. That hate fuck, that passion I have for fantasy means something.

GP: One thing I really enjoyed about “Imperial Phase” was that you and Jamie [McKelvie] gave Minerva and Baal a lot of character development. Why did you leave them out of the last issue of the arc?

KG: I get asked questions like “You’re very efficient with your storytelling. You hit stuff very cleanly and elegantly.” A lot of that is necessity, which is a word that is very fucking loaded in the context of WicDiv.

GP: Oh yeah, good ol’ Ananke.

KG: I’ve got 14 primary characters across the series and quite a few smaller, supporting ones. I ask what we can fit in an issue. The previous issue where we did the “phased” bit was me responding to the fact that I had so much shit to do. How can I do it in an artful way that speaks to the theme of the book.

Baal and Minerva just weren’t in this issue. The thing about “Imperial Phase” is that there’s parts one and two. When I originally planned “Imperial Phase”, I was thinking that we don’t have a cliffhanger. What’s the most unexpected thing for a WicDiv end of arc to be? It just stops, and we continue it. But when I ended up plotting it, it had a climax, but just a different kind of climax.

There was no room for Baal. If you remove Baal, you remove Minerva as well. The reason that Baal wasn’t there was a soft story beat. “Oh poop, Baal isn’t coming” leads to Persephone’s “Why do we hurt people?” The reason that Baal wasn’t there was because Persephone was there. It’s that moment when you realize that someone’s not coming to a party because they don’t want to see you. Baal not being at the party is kind of the point.

Baal is a sensitive man, and I love the dichotomy between him and Minerva. In other words, there’s more from Baal and Minerva in “Imperial Phase Part Two”. At the end of the story, Baal will be one of people’s favorite characters. He and Minerva are some of the most interesting characters, and knowing the whole story means I put him low in the mix early and then bring him up later.

GP: Good metaphor!

KG: I’m always a DJ. And since I know the whole thing, I want to build him up at different times. Dionysus is stepping forward and is one of the key players in the next arc. He’s got a scene in issue 30 with the Morrigan, which is one of my favorite things to do with the character

GP: I am really looking forward to the WicDiv 455 Special. Why did you decide to set it at the end of the Roman Empire instead of the Augustan Age with Ovid and Virgil, or during the time of Nero?

KG: If you set it at the end, you can include anything earlier. Everyone at the end knows what happens to Nero, Sulla, and Caligula, and you can reference all those people. If you’re doing something about Rome, set it at the end, make it about the end of Rome. Of course, WicDiv is about endings and the death of an empire.

This is minor spoilers, but the basic plot of 455 is that 455’s Lucifer has decided to not be involved in the Ananke pact and says, ” We don’t need Lucifer, we need Julius Caesar (Who was a god.), I’m going to save the empire.” You imagine that goes well.

The way I researched this special as opposed to the Romantics’ one [WicDiv 1831 Special] was different because the Romantics were a small cast of people, I could go relatively deep. Rome is so big that I had to do a very broad sweep and look at the entire history of Rome, which interests me. There’s some stuff I wished I gotten into, like Tiberius, who did Goth parties where everyone was in black. The slaves are painted black, he’s wearing full black, and they spend the entire party talking about death. And he’s killed people so everyone expects to die. It’s the most Gothic thing I’ve ever heard. But we had to cut it from the story.

GP: Why was Andre Araujo the perfect artist for this story?

KG: The way to phrase it is that I had a core image based on a Roman triumph, and I needed an artist willing to draw a Roman triumph. A triumph is a blaze of color and shape. Andre and I were talking when his comic Man Plus was out, and he said that he was working on a creator owned Rome pitch. In my head, I thought he was a [Katsuhiro] Otomo-esque cyberpunk guy because of Avengers A.I. and Man Plus, which is basically Akira reimagined in Portugal.

He had fantasy, sci-fi, and medieval pitches. And I said, “You like historical stuff and like drawing enormous landscapes. We can use this.” I asked him, and he was working on Ales [Kot’s] new book Generation Gone. So, we’ve derailed the work on another Image book in WicDiv’s favor and are very grateful to Ales. Also, Matt Wilson is doing the colors, and it works very well in the issue.

GP: The first 12 issues of WicDiv seemed to be about the relationship between being a fan and a creator, especially through our main character, Laura. How does her turn to the “dark side” in the past arc fit in with that fan/creator dynamic?

KG: “Imperial Phase” has been solipsistic. It’s about the gods being quite navel gaze-y. You get bits of fan stuff, like Persephone having her own fans. And that’s fun. I love how creepy everyone wearing a Persephone skull is. That transition from being a fan to having fans, and the responsibilities and duties that lie on that access and how well you navigate it.

WicDiv is based on a format of four years. The first year is a fan trying to become great, the second is this weird thing and ends with you getting your big hit. The third is you’ve got your success, and now what the hell is it for? The third year is about many things, but mostly my ambivalent feelings about WicDiv‘s success. When you get to the end of WicDiv, you’ll get that. There’s spoilery stuff I don’t really want to talk about yet.

GP: It’s like your “Ashes to Ashes”.

KG: A little bit, yeah. To go with the Bowie, we start out with Ziggy Stardust with some Black Parade, then you’ve got the Berlin period for “Commercial Suicide”. Then, it’s Let’s Dance, and “Oh yeah, we’ve got an enormous hit.” We’ve done the “Bad Blood” Taylor Swift everything explodes thing, what now? The idea that you can remain successful and use your craft to do a trashy pop thing, and everyone will love it.

But how can you look in the mirror? It’s basically the stuff that killed Cobain. That’s kind of what “Imperial Phase” has been about. There’s lots of self-hatred. That’s what we do.

GP: I don’t really get a Nirvana vibe from WicDiv, but it makes sense now.

KG: Everything’s in there. I don’t want to do too much because the gods are disappearing down their own holes in their own different ways, which is kind of the point. They have their own hamartia. This collapse is how we delineate whether people are wrestling with their demons or not.

GP: Right now, Amaterasu is basically evil. When in the past issues of WicDiv did you start to seed in her heel turn and realize she would turn out this way?

KG: It’s like one of those questions, “How do you define evil?” Amaterasu is somebody who has been easy to forgive her foibles because she’s nice. She’s Cassandra’s opposite. Cassandra is easy to dislike, but is mainly right. She is very abrasive, and it’s the irony of “the Cassandra”. People aren’t listening to her because she’s annoying, but she’s mostly right.

As opposed to Amaterasu, who’s very sweet, very kind, and a coward. And she looks great. She’s a pretty white girl, and people let them get away with things. If you look back at the first speech she gives [in WicDiv #1], it’s creepy as hell. Amaterasu is someone who knows stuff, but isn’t great at putting the them together. She’s got her practiced lines, but her interview [in the first issue] falls apart when she panics.

I’m always worried that I make her IQ drop too much. But she just doesn’t get it. One thing I love about Amaterasu is that apart from the loss of her parents, she’s had a nice life. She’s 17 and the second youngest of the Pantheon. She’s slightly younger than Persephone.

GP: I always forget she’s so young.

KG: It doesn’t make her behavior forgivable, but you understand it. If you reread WicDiv, you’ll go, “Oh yeah, that was kind of coming.” But I think might be easy to miss what we’re trying to do with Amaterasu until you got to her solo issue and that image of her immediate rage when someone tried to take a toy from her. That’s Amaterasu in two pages. This is mine, and fuck you if you try to take it.

The darker side of the characters has started to come out. And, in the last issue, she’s a fucking monster. There’s some stuff that she does that is amazing as in “Wow, you actually did that.”

GP: Like the whole “ShinTwo” thing.

KG: I always knew she was going to lean into that, but only got the pun while writing her first scenes. ShinTwo, oh no! That’s so bad, and it’s completely the right thing to do [for the character].

The thing about WicDiv is that it’s all very planned. I know the characters’ arcs. But the specific execution is what I keep free; otherwise it’s just typing for four years. It’s got to surprise and delight me, or it gets boring. And if gets boring for me, it’s even more boring for the readers. A bored writer is generally a shit writer.

GP: Moving onto the recently released Complete Phonogram, what is David Kohl up to in 2017?

KG: I imagine he’s being interviewed about his glorious career as a phonomancer. He’s settled into being a complete has-been, which is kind of the weird joy of it, I think. That final story I did with Tom Humberstone when we pull away the mask a bit and let Kohl become Kieron, and he’s like “Yeah, you got me”.

And the weird thing is you’ve got this push and pull between Kieron Gillen the writer and David Kohl the character. There are bits, like when Michael Jackson dies, and that segue between time and space. Those panels are very clearly about me, Kieron Gillen, as opposed to the panels that are about this fictional character, David Kohl, who is a critique of my own writing of a certain period. I think David Kohl is about me.

 

GP: Phonogram: Rue Britannia especially has that autobio comic vibe to it.

KG: I’ve learned to hide it better. When I was writing Rue Britannia, I was influenced by Joe Matt’s The Poor Bastard, Eddie Campbell, and of course, Grant Morrison with this quasi-fiction suit sort of thing. That’s what I wanted to do with Kohl.With Rue Britannia, I hid [the autobiographical elements] less expertly than I did later. Like I gave Britannia some of the same outfits as someone I dated. It’s kind of funny when people come up cosplaying as one of my ex-girlfriends.

I realized that in Singles Club, which is more autobiographical in a real way.There’s more facts in Rue Britannia and more emotional truth in Singles Club. By splitting the stories into the seven characters of Singles Club, I could hide it better, which is what WicDiv is doing as well.

GP: I have one last musical-based question. I’m a big fan of the WicDiv playlist, and it keeps me sane during work. I was wondering what albums or artists you were listening to while scripting “Imperial Phase Part 2”.

KG: The easiest way is to look at the playlist, but there are songs I want to add that aren’t on Spotify, like “Shocked” by Kylie Minogue. And then there’s others I can’t add because of spoilers. You need to be an obsessive WicDiv fan to see what I’m adding, but sometimes I have to wait until various [story] beats hit to drop it in. Like if there was a song called “Sakhmet’s Eating Some People,” I would add it to the playlist.

If you look at the more recent stuff on the playlist, there’s ANOHNI and her track “4 Degrees” that’s amazing apocalyptic awfulness. Blood Orange’s album Freetown Sound is on there and very Persephone in its sadness. Then, there’s Downtown Boys and their cover of “Dancing in the Dark” [by Bruce Springsteen]. I was obsessed with that track for a week and kept breaking into tears about why this record meant so much to me.

[Downtown Boys] are an X-Ray Spex-like bisexual punk band from New York, and their cover of “Dancing in the Dark” reframes the sheer anger of the lyric as a song about depression with dancing in it. You’ve got the beat and the line, “I wanna change my clothes, my hair, my faces”, and it’s like someone carving their face off. It feels very political.

And you can scan the playlist for more great stuff.


Kieron Gillen is currently writing “Modded” and Uber: Invasion for Avatar, Doctor Aphra for Marvel Comics, and of course, The Wicked + the Divine at Image Comics.

You can find him on Twitter and Tumblr.

Graphic Medicine Heads to the Toronto Comic Arts Festival

Three authors of books in Penn State University Press’s critically acclaimed Graphic Medicine series are participating in the Toronto Comic Arts Festival this May.

Graphic novelist, printmaker, and textile artist Gareth Brookes will exhibit advance copies of his forthcoming graphic novel A Thousand Coloured Castles. Rendered entirely in unique scratched-off crayon drawings, the book depicts life with Charles Bonnet syndrome, which causes intense hallucinations in people with pre-existing vision problems. Brookes’s previous graphic novel, The Black Project, won the 2013 Best Original Graphic Novel Award from Broken Frontier.

MK Czerwiec is a nurse who uses comics to contemplate the complexities of illness and caregiving. She is co-curator of GraphicMedicine.org, co-author of the Eisner-nominated Graphic Medicine Manifesto, and artist-in-residence at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. Her newly released graphic memoir Taking Turns tells the story of HIV/AIDS Care Unit 371 at Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago, where she worked in the mid-1990s at the height of the AIDS crisis.

Ian Williams—recently named the “guru of Graphic Medicine” by the Canadian Medical Association Journal—is a visual artist and illustrator, a medical doctor, and an independent scholar of the humanities. He founded the website GraphicMedicine.org and is co-editor of the Graphic Medicine series and co-author of the Eisner-nominated Graphic Medicine Manifesto. His graphic novel The Bad Doctor is a darkly humorous look at the practice of medicine through the eyes of a neurotic doctor weighed down by his responsibilities.

Czerwiec and Williams will present on Graphic Medicine in a TCAF session on the 13th at 4pm in the Summerhill Ballroom, Marriot Bloor-Yorkville.

Graphic Medicine, a subgenre of graphic novel that is growing in popularity and professional recognition, refers to work that uses comics to tell nuanced stories about health, illness, and the medical field. Learn more at GraphicMedicine.org; see the full list of series titles at PSUPress.org.

Hermes Press Brings Exclusives to Syracuse’s Salt City Comic-Con

Syracuse’s Salt City Comic-Con welcomes Hermes Press, one of the premiere publishers of pop culture art books and comic reprints, to their June comic convention.

For over 15 years Hermes has been dedicated to producing accurate restorations of classic comics from The Phantom to Zorro. Hermes has also produced archival art books ranging from monographs about Gil Kane (Green Lantern, The Atom, and The Amazing Spider-man), Frank Frazetta (Conan the Barbarian), and Jim Davis (Garfield). Hermes has a unique focus on the history behind the artists who created comic books and strips, and over the years has published books that explore areas never before seen, such as the complete history of Flash Gordon and Rip Kirby creator Alex Raymond, written by noted comics historian Ron Goulart. Hermes has also begun reprinting the historical pocket book Phantom series originally published by Avon Publications. Along with their reprints and histories, Hermes also publishes original comic series such as Howard Chaykin’s Buck Rogers and Peter David’s The Phantom, and more.

At the convention, Hermes Press will also be offering 20% off all books at the show.

Convention Exclusives

For the Salt City Comic-Con, Hermes will be offering 100 Convention Exclusives of two titles. Each book will include a “special limited edition insert plate”.

The Complete Jim Aparo Charlton Phantom is a deluxe hardcover in full color, complete with dust jacket and endpapers. The great Jim Aparo got his first big break with Charlton Comics and did standout work on The Phantom that garnered him praise throughout the industry. Now, for first the time, all of Aparo’s Phantom stories and covers are collected in one volume which focuses on this great artist’s outstanding work on The Ghost Who Walks.

The Art of Jim Davis’ Garfield, an art monograph on the history of Garfield and artist Jim Davis is a collaborative effort with Paws, Incorporated. For the first time ever, fans of Garfield, Jon, and Odie will be treated to a huge, all-color, all original art book, The Art of Jim Davis’ Garfield. Starting with an original essay by noted historian R. C. Harvey, this art book takes fans through the history of Jim Davis and Garfield, and how the furry feline has grown in popularity and style over the years, discussing many of the mediums Garfield is represented in, from the Garfield and Friends television show to the live-action movies, to the current strip.

Hermes will also be selling a small quantity of The Art of Jim Davis’ Garfield Signed Limited Editions at the convention.

Syracuse’s Salt City Comic-Con, celebrating its fourth year, moves to the Oncenter’s War Memorial building in downtown Syracuse this year during June 24th and 25th.  This pop-culture convention focuses on comics, toys, games, cosplay and collectibles. Pre-sale tickets are available online.

The Sights, Sounds (and Selfies) of C2E2 2017

Four years after I first visited it as a 19 year old journalist, I returned to C2E2 in 2017 to a much more crowded show floor and a world where a monosyllabic tree and a talking raccoon, not Iron Man were the most popular characters in the Marvel Universe. Most of my C2E2 was spent wandering around Artist’s Alley, chatting with creators/fellow fans/Twitter friends, and trying to not get lost.

One reason I love C2E2 is that they bring in excellent comics guests to balance the celebrities and their overpriced autographs. ($100 for Stan Lee. Come on!) There’s everyone from the very friendly and passionate webcomic creator Ngozi Ukazu from Check Please! to veteran writers, like Greg Rucka and Kieron Gillen, and I found myself flipping from Archie to Black Mask and occasionally a side of the Big Two while walking around. The Artist’s Alley is the beating heart of the con even though C2E2 also has two quite large gaming areas for console gamers and tabletop fans, and the Weta Workshop truly spoke to the Lord of the Rings nerd in me.

Here is a gallery of pictures of my C2E2 2017 experience starting with the Captain Marvel cosplayer I met while waiting for the shuttle bus and ending with a moment where I felt like a comic book character. (Dionysus from The Wicked + the Divine #8 aka the rave issue to be specific.)

 

 

 

Smithsonian and Awesome Con introduce Future Con

Smithsonian magazine and LeftField Media today announced a partnership to create an exciting new live event called Future Con,” a three-day science, technology, and entertainment celebration that will be featured within the upcoming Awesome Con on June 16-18, 2017 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. Future Con will highlight the intersection of science, technology, and science fiction inside D.C.’s largest pop culture event. It is sponsored by Science Channel, features partners including NASA, the American Physical Society, the National Science Foundation, and Nerd Nite, and it will be headlined by StarTalk Live! hosted by Astronaut Chris Hadfield, who became a social media sensation through his (literally) out-of-this-world videos and performances from the International Space Station.

Driven by experts at Smithsonian magazine, Future Con will mix together interactive experiences, engaging discussions, and special guests centered around creating new awareness and advocacy for all things science, technology, engineering, and math.

Awesome Con, now entering its fifth year, attracts over 60,000 attendees and participants. Awesome Con is a celebration of comic books, movies, television, toys, and games, and Future Con will add science to the worlds Awesome Con explores.

Future Con’s kickoff event will welcome Colonel Chris Hadfield to host a special edition of StarTalk Live! Col. Hadfield is a veteran of two space shuttle missions and former commander of the International Space Station. He’s also been called the “most social media savvy astronaut” by Forbes for his ongoing documentation of his time in space to over 2 million Twitter followers. Col. Hadfield will appear at Future Con to lead a taping of StarTalk Live!, an award-winning talk show bridging the intersection between pop culture and science with humor and passion.

Future Con will see further pioneering names in space travel, artificial intelligence, nanomachines, climate science, and medical research share the stage with some of the brightest names in pop culture—with presenters including John Mather (NASA’s Nobel Laureate and head of the James Webb Telescope), Adam Steltzner (NASA’s “Rock and Roll Engineer” and head of the Mars 2020 mission), and Seth Shostak (Senior Astronomer at SETI: the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence). Thought-provoking talks at Future Con will include Cassini’s Spectacular Grand Finale at Saturn, Parallel and Multi Universe Theory in Sci-Fi, Mars: Past, Present, & Future, Harry Potter and the Genetics of Wizarding, Space Lasers, and Antarctic Dinosaurs.

Future Con takes place June 16-18 inside this year’s Awesome Con, and no separate ticket is needed to attend—admission to Awesome Con includes access to Future Con’s speakers, exhibits, and events.

C2E2 2017: Secret Empire is Footloose and Context Free

 

Thanks to the clutchness of my former podcast co-host and current Comicosity writer, Terrence Sage, I got a front row seat to the Secret Empire panel at C2E2 on Saturday where editors Christina Harrington, Nick Lowe, and Wil Moss discussed Marvel‘s summer event with writers Nick Spencer and Margaret Stohl in addition to PR guy, Chris D’Lando. The panel solidified my idea that Secret Empire is a series that will be filled with twists, turns, and various summer blockbuster flourishes, but is unaware of the context or larger world around. Throughout the panel, Spencer stressed the fact that Secret Empire is apolitical even though it is clearly about the secret rise of fascism in the Marvel Universe with references to the Axis Powers starting on page one of issue zero. This is pretty painful because both Captain America’s co-creator Jack Kirby fought in World War II and the cover of Captain America Comics #1 famously featured Cap punching Adolf Hitler although the United States was still neutral.

But the panel wasn’t all negatives. Thanks to Steve McNiven and Andrea SorrentinoSecret Empire is going to have some glorious artwork. On the tie-in front, there was talk about the rise of the Blue team of X-Men and Matthew Rosenberg and Javier Garron’s Secret Warriors as the de facto antifa resistance. Mighty Captain Marvel writer Margaret Stohl was the hero of the panel as she redeems Carol Danvers from being an authoritarian herself in Civil War Ii and back to being one of the Marvel Universe’s greatest soldiers in the upcoming “Band of Sisters” storyline. In keeping with its name, this storyline was inspired by watching documentary footage of World War II, including the Battle of Midway and the D-Day landing.

Andrea Sorrentino art from Secret Empire #3.

The panel kicked off with Chris D’Lando and Nick Spencer doing a two man PR spiel for Secret Empire and its core tie-ins, Captain America Sam Wilson and Captain America Steve Rogers. Spencer stressed that this story was his own idea that he came up with in early 2015. Secret Empire didn’t come out of Marvel editorial retreat, and Spencer pitched it personally to Tom Brevoort. I can definitely respect Secret Empire coming organically from Nick Spencer’s work on the Captain America titles and Avengers: Standoff. However, he use our favorite magical MacGuffin, the Cosmic Cube quite a lot. This reality warping thingamabob could offer an instant reset with its cosmic abilities although Spencer stressed to fans that he wouldn’t “walk back” anything in this storyline.

Divorced from any kind of historical or sociopolitical context, Secret Empire has some cool things going for it with a two front war with Captain Marvel, Alpha Flight, and the Guardians of the Galaxy taking on the Chitauri,  heroes like the Defenders, Dr. Strange, and Cloak and Dagger, battling in the Dark Dimension, and the rest of the heroes fighting HYDRA in Washington DC. Secret Empire #2 will contain the reveal that Steve Rogers is evil in the form of a beautiful mosaic double page spread from Andrea Sorrentino while issue 3 will take place in space. It’s the big heroes vs villain event that many fans have been looking for, but the biggest villain of them all happens to be the former moral center of the Marvel Universe. Oh, and there’s going to be mini Cosmic Cubes to promote the event that look kind of cute and are better than comic book store employees dressing up like mythological creature themed Nazis.

Spencer, D’Lando, and Marvel executive editor Nick Lowe teased some of the tie-ins too. Captain America Steve

Captain America Steve Rogers #18 Cover

Rogers will focus on Cap as basically dictator of the United States and feature guest appearances from the journalists of Civil War: Frontline and Namor. Two of those three things are excellent, and the friendship between Namor and Steve as members of the Invaders in World War II has always fascinated me. Doctor Strange #21 marks the debut of a new creative team of Dennis Hopeless and Nico Henrichon, artist of Pride of Baghdad as well as lots of monsters in the Dark Dimension. I haven’t followed the new Doctor Strange series, but the combination of excellent art and guest appearances by cast members from the late, great Spider-Woman means I’ll give the new run a shot.

Lowe also mentioned Amazing Spider-Man #29, which stars the Superior Octopus, or Dr. Octopus in a new body working for HYDRA. It looked like Richard Spencer’s ultimate wet dream as drawn by the talented Stuart Immonen. There will also be an anthology series called Secret Empire: Brave New World starring obscure, yet insanely awesome Marvel characters, like Blade, Domino, and of course, Bob, Agent of HYDRA from Deadpool. Some highlights of Brave New World‘s creative team included Ethan Sacks (Formerly of the New York Daily News) writing a story from the POV of the Daily Bugle and Kim and Kim creator Magdalene Visaggio doing a Starbrand one.

Editor Christina Harrington cheered up some of the X-Men fans in the room by teasing X-Men Blue #7 and the first look at #8 and #9, which will focus on the return of Emma Frost and Polaris. In the Q and A, she said that Emma will be “back in white” and hinted at her having her diamond form too and also hinted at other guest stars in the run. Nothing was mentioned about Holocaust survivor Magneto’s role in the fight against HYDRA, and hopefully as the secret team leader of the X-Men’s Blue team, he will be beating them up with magnetic things.

Wil Moss followed up with Secret Warriors #1, which will be written by Matthew Rosenberg, drawn by Javier Garron, and have one of the most stacked non-Avengers/X-Men team lineups, including Quake, Ms. Marvel, Moon Girl, Devil Dinosaur, Karnak, and Inferno. It has a fun, yet highly problematic premise of the Secret Warriors traveling across the US and liberating Inhumans from internment camps that are scarily like the ones in Chechnya for gay men. (I discuss this troubling fact with Matthew Rosenberg in an upcoming interview.)  Rosenberg has shown a knack for comedy with Rocket Raccoon and We Can Never Go Home was a great road trip story so I have high hopes for this series, which could make fetch, er, Inhumans happen. Also, the X-Men are popping up in Secret Warriors #3

The highlight of the Secret Empire panel was Margaret Stohl’s enthusiasm for Captain Marvel, and hopefully she has a long run with the character like Kelly Sue DeConnick. Stohl that the upcoming arc of Mighty Captain Marvel would get back to what Carol does best “kick ass in space” and set her up as the ultimate soldier of the Marvel Universe like Steve Rogers used to be. But the book won’t just be rah rah and punching as she will also focus on young people’s first experience in combat through the Alpha Flight cadets, including the Wakandan Aki and Dante, who appeared in the YA novel Black Widow: Forever Red that Stohl also wrote. Margaret Stohl’s take on Secret Empire seems more grounded than Nick Spencer’s with her focus on things like the horrors of war and resisting authoritarianism instead of sensationalism and retconning iconic characters.

Usually, the Q&A sessions of most panels are filled with stuttering and long self-serving fan monologues, but the one for the Secret Empire was quite amusing. I did a Storify of my live tweets of it here, but some of the highlights were Nick Spencer’s edgy love Carol Danvers’ idea for a surveillance state, saying that tearing down an iconic character is a “redemption story” and a kid (Possibly a Marvel plant) ripping off a Superman t-shirt so he could read an early copy of Secret Empire #1.

On a more serious note, I was kind of saddened when a veteran told Spencer and the panel that Secret Empire had angered some veterans who look up to Captain America and his service as a soldier. Let’s just say there was much back pedaling involved in Spencer’s response to her showing that Spencer uses the trappings of fascism in his loud, quippy action driven stories like Michael Bay uses American nationalism in his. At least, Spencer has jokes as evidenced by Superior Foes, The Fix, and the Guardians of the Galaxy’s dialogue in Secret Empire #0.

My main takeaways from Secret Empire is that it has some exciting elements, including mass superhero battles, Carol Danvers being a hero again, and Andrea Sorrentino artwork, but it seems divorced from any kind of nuance and real-world relevance. This is troubling when the bad guys are Neo-Nazis and not just “for the evulz” supervillains. But Mighty Captain Marvel, Secret Warriors, and Secret Empire: Brave New World should be fun reads.

(Plot twist: I hadn’t even read Secret Empire #0 when I attended this panel…)

Physical proof that I was at this panel, and this isn’t fake news.

Syracuse’s Salt City Comic-Con Announces Mike Gold as the Latest Guest

Syracuse’s Salt City Comic-Con is excited to welcome comics legend Mike Gold to the growing list of creators.

Mike Gold has enjoyed an astounding career in comics, and been involved with everything from relaunching The Flash and Green Arrow to co-founding the Chicago Comic-Con. He was worked for numerous comic companies including Valiant/Acclaim, Classics Illustrated, and Image Comics. Gold was group editor and director of editorial development for DC Comics and co-founder of First Comics.

As a social activist, Gold co-founded The National Runaway Switchboard and many causes involving drug education, sex education and youth. In 2011, Mike was awarded the Hero Initiative’s first Humanitarian Award at the Baltimore Comic-Con’s Harvey Award Ceremony.

Currently, Mike is involved with ComicMix, Get the Point Radio and many social causes.

Syracuse’s Salt City Comic-Con, celebrating its fourth year, moves to the Oncenter’s War Memorial building in downtown Syracuse on June 24th and 25th. This pop-culture convention focuses on comics, toys, games, cosplay and collectibles. Pre-sale tickets are available online.

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