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C2E2 2017: Interview with Marvel and Black Mask Star Matt Rosenberg

Matt Rosenberg is one of several comic book writers who has conquered both the world of creator owned and corporate comics. He broke into comics as one of the co-writers on 12 Reasons to Die, a comic released in conjunction with Ghostface Killah’s 2013 album of the same name from Black Mask Studios. From there, he has dabbled in a variety of genres, including superhero road trip (We Can Never Go Home), espionage (a Quake one-shot for Marvel), crime (Kingpin, 4 Kids Walk into a Bank), and even comedy (Rocket Raccoon.) Rosenberg’s work has clever plots and a sly sense of humor, but there is also a spirit of social consciousness that imbues both his comics for Marvel and Black Mask

I had the privilege of chatting with Matt at C2E2 about many of his current and former comics, including Rocket Raccoon, the upcoming Secret Warriors series, Kingpin, and the long anticipated sequel to We Can Never Go Home.

Graphic Policy: What did you enjoy most about writing Rocket Raccoon in the streets of New York versus his usual space adventures?

Matt Rosenberg: Rocket is a character that a lot of people have done really well in his space adventures. I don’t think I would do that well with that. It’s not my strong suit. But I’m from New York and grew up there.

Rocket’s great because no matter where you put him, he’s a fish out of water. He’s the only one of his kind and is sort of lost. There’s no difference for him between a space cantina and the D-Train. I wanted to give him an Earth experience where it’s not social satire, but it’s pointing out a lot of things that are weird about American culture.

And he’s just super fun to write. He’s a jerk, but a really good-intentioned jerk.

GP: He’s cute.

MR: Yeah, he’s cute. He may be gruff, but you can’t hold it against him. I love him. I’m really happy that I did my run on him. But I am very excited for Al Ewing and Adam Gorham to send him back to space.

GP: Al is one of my favorite Marvel writers. So, why did you decide to make Kraven the Hunter the Big Bad of your Rocket Raccoon run?

MR: First of all, I love Kraven. “Kraven’s Last Hunt” is one of the best Marvel books and one of the best comics period. Rocket is on Earth, and no one really respects him because he’s an animal, he’s different, and he’s an outsider. The book has a lot to do with xenophobia, and people not respecting each other.

Kraven is someone who hunts people and things, but only the things he respects. I thought it was an interesting dichotomy because the character that is trying to kill him is the only one on Earth that shows him proper deference. Kraven has a lot of respect and admiration for Rocket, and that’s why he wants him.

Everyone else doesn’t care that someone is trying to kill him because he’s basically a raccoon to him. I thought Kraven presented an interesting opportunity. And I got to put the “Kra-Van” in there, which I love. He’s a madman so it’s fun.

GP: Moving onto your new series Secret Warriors, which of the members of the team was most difficult for you to write, and why?

MR: Devil Dinosaur’s really difficult because he’s a dinosaur. It’s hard because you have to put him places. Amy Reeder and Brandon Montclare, who write Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, are really good friends of mine, and I bug them a lot like “What do you do with him when people have to go into a building?”

And they’re like, “He goes into large buildings.” Yeah, I guess.

For me, [the hardest to write] in a lot ways is Ms. Marvel because that is a book I love so much. What Adrian [Alphona] and [G] Willow [Wilson] do on that book is so important to me. I think in twenty years she’s gonna be considered one of the great characters in superhero comics standing on her own.

I love Quake, and she’s one of my favorite superheroes. But Ms. Marvel is such a specific, singular voice. A lot of people have written Quake. I think of her as a [Brian Michael] Bendis character, but Jonathan Hickman’s run on her is really good. A lot of people have contributed. Ms. Marvel feels like just a few people’s visions, like Sana [Amanat] who edits it. That’s really intimidating, and her fans expect her to be certain things, which I want her to be.

But we’re also challenging the team in different ways. She’s gonna be challenged. I love her so much. In the book, we put [the Secret Warriors] through the wringer, and they don’t all get along. I don’t like writing her and Quake fighting. I kind of want those characters to be friends, and they’re not. They wouldn’t be in a lot of ways if you think about it. They have differing beliefs, ways of acting, and end goals. Quake is a spy, and Ms. Marvel is a superhero.

So, Ms. Marvel was a challenge for me because we want people who like the Ms. Marvel book to pick up Secret Warriors and feel like it’s their character, but it’s a very different setting for her. She’s out of her element a little bit, and that was hard.

GP: At the Secret Empire panel, they talked a little bit about Secret Warriors, and that the Inhumans are getting rounded up into camps. What are the implications of that plot point in light of the camps in Chechnya where gay men are being rounded up, tortured, and killed?

MR: It’s hard because everyone wants different things from comics. Some people really want escapism. Some people really want social commentary. Some people want things to be uplifting. You can’t do all of those things in a story.

What I like about Secret Empire is that there are facets to everyone. It’s a dark story, and it’s a story that’s controversial because it’s about the rise of facism and why a hero would become a villain. It’s a time when that stresses out a lot of people understandably, and there’s a lot of real world stuff that you can see on the pages.

What’s going on in Chechnya and the rise of white supremacy with more nationalism and more jingoism is obviously a problem. I’m a leftist. But we’re not the escapist book. If you want to see a happy, uplifting book, we’re not necessarily that book. We are about watching the people, who get stepped on, and the people, who are a little bit underappreciated, fight back and kick the bad guys in the face.

It’s hard to make the correlation with the real world because real people are dying and having their rights trampled on. I don’t think a comic can address that in a way that does what is happening in Chechnya justice. It’s a human rights violation, an upcoming holocaust, and a nightmare. And we’re dealing with a cartoon dinosaur. We don’t have the language emotionally to handle that in a way that is deserving of the magnitude of the event.

But if you wanna see the downtrodden fight back, that’s what Secret Warriors is. Everyone’s book has a different purpose, and that’s what our book has always been. They’re young. They’re kids with very diverse backgrounds and methodologies. They’re people coming together to fight back. That’s something I really believe in. People need to look out for each other and support each other as much as they can, which is why I wanted to write this book for that event.

GP: That team lineup is seriously stacked.

MR: I’m excited for it. I hope that some people read the book, and it’s inspiring. That’s sort of what we wanted to do. It gets dark, but there’s light at the end of it.

GP: Moving onto Kingpin, why did you decide to make the journalist character, Sarah Dewey, the POV character instead of Wilson Fisk?

MR: Wilson Fisk is my favorite Marvel villain by far. He’s a character who is always two steps ahead of everyone else. He’s controlling the chessboard, and if it’s his POV, there’s not going to be as much mystery. Knowing what the Kingpin is going to do takes away so much from him.

We talked about doing it from a superhero’s perspective or another gangster’s perspective, but I really love the idea of books like Marvels or characters, like Ben Urich. You can follow a character into this world and see [the Marvel Universe] from their perspective.

Sarah is a journalist, who’s not a perfect person. She’s had some problems in her life and has fallen on some bad times. She’s coming out of an awful, failed marriage. The idea of Kingpin to Sarah is that she knows he’s a bad guy, but he’s good to her. Not everyone is a hero, but is the Kingpin going to be a hero to her?

I want the reader to wonder if he’s going to be a good guy in the end. I think the Kingpin definitely has the capacity to be a good guy. You can’t forgive past deeds, but he has all the trappings of a classic hero.

GP: You really believe in him.

MR: In a lot of ways, yes. I said to someone once, “He’s almost a superhero.”

And they said, “No, he’s a monster.” Daredevil and Spider-Man want to save New York City by fighting in alleys. Kingpin wants to clean up New York City and make it a better place, but he’s in the whole city. He’s not in alleys, but he’s trying to make sure there aren’t warring crime factions in the streets. He’s trying to make it so the regular person doesn’t have this rough, violent city. He’s bringing a classier element of crime. Kingpin wants New York to be a nicer and safer city for the average person.

Well, [some might say], “He kills people.” But the Punisher kills people. Is the Punisher a superhero? No, but he’s on the other side of the line from the Kingpin. [Others say], “He’s trying to make a profit.” Tony Stark is trying to make a profit. He’s making technology that he uses as a superhero and vice versa.

I don’t think Kingpin’s a good guy, but he’s passionate toward a good thing. His methodology is wrong, and his moral compass is wrong. But that’s what’s fascinating. Can he fix it? Can he end up being a hero at the end of his story? I don’t know if he’s worth redemption, but I would like to see him try.

GP: You’ve written a lot of event tie-ins for Marvel, like the upcoming Edge of Venomverse and Civil War II: Kingpin. How do you balance serving the ongoing plot of the event with telling your own story?

MR: The short answer is that it’s the job. I grew up reading Marvel and liking them as a company. I love what superhero comics do. It’s really a tapestry and a huge picture that everyone is working in tiny portions on. It’s a challenge to be relevant to someone else’s story while telling your own satisfying story. That’s the challenge that I grew up loving, like “How do the X-Men deal with Civil War?”

GP: It’s like a puzzle.

MR: Exactly. When it works well, stories complement each other. When it doesn’t, things feel crazy and schizophrenic. I did the Civil War II: Kingpin book [with the idea that] the heroes are fighting so what does Kingpin do? How is he going to rise to power? Everyone is afraid to operate, and the Kingpin finds a way to operate. That’s what the book is about.

Do you need to read it to read Civil War II? No. Do you need to read Civil War Ii to read it? No. But I think if you understand both, there’s a nice complement. I think that’s the balance you should have. Don’t make anyone read anything else that they wouldn’t normally read, but complement each other if you can.

GP: That makes sense. You’re doing The Archies one-shot with Alex Segura and Joe Eisma. How are you bringing the world’s first “cartoon band” into 2017?

MR: Archie is sort of having a renaissance now and modernizing. The Archies and the Archie universe is really classic Americana. I grew up in New York City, and Archie didn’t feel like my childhood, it felt like Happy Days. That idealized sort of thing.

That evolves and changes, and what Americana is in the greater pop culture sense  is updated and changing. Hopefully, it’s more inclusive to people who aren’t white suburban kids. It’s nice to watch that. The Archies is about kids in a band, and it’s not perfectly idyllic. They struggle to put it together, and there’s conflict. It’s about Archie’s aspirations to make something of his talent. I think that’s something people can identify with.

You don’t want to make something that’s so current that it’s alien to classic Archie fans. But you don’t want to pick it up and feel like it’s anachronistic. A lot of it is the language and the visuals, and the way people interact. Not so much that they’re on Twitter.

GP: The main Archie does love using hashtags as plot points.

MR: But it doesn’t rely on those hashtags. The main book doesn’t, and we don’t. We want it to feel like a modern and to give it to people who haven’t read Archie in years to jump right in.

GP: I have one last question about the We Can Never Go Home sequel. What can fans of the original miniseries expect from the sequel, and because you had those playlists in the back of We Can Never Go Home, what music are you listening to while scripting the new series?

MR: A lot of people when they were done reading We Can Never Go Home thought it was truncated and cut short. That’s definitely not true. We didn’t want do more; that was the story we wanted to tell from day one. Josh [Hood], Patrick [Kindlon], Tyler [Boss], Jim [Campbell], and I wanted to do a book that was essentially about growing up.

There’s no finality to growing up. I feel like it’s an ongoing process. It can be a frustrating and heartbreaking one. An important thing for me going back to those characters’ world is not to end it or say what we didn’t say before, but to say something different.

I don’t want to talk about it too much, but the sequel is going to focus on some different characters. Madison and Duncan will be in it, but it’s a journey from a different perspective that relates to them. It takes place a year later in 1990.

As far as the music, I haven’t started working on [a playlist]. I’m a little nervous about it. I put a lot of my favorites in the first volume so there are gonna be some deeper cuts in this one. It’s all punk rock stuff from 1976, 1977 to 1990. We have some new characters so I’m hoping to throw in some different genres. I hope people are into it.

It’s coming out either the end of this year, or the beginning of next year. We want to make sure there are no delays, and that it’s the best book it can be. We don’t wanted it to be rushed. Josh is such a brilliant artist, and I want him to have time to do his absolute best. People are impatient, but we hope the book pays off in the end.

Matt Rosenberg is currently writing Kingpin for Marvel Comics and 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank for Black Mask Studios. He is also writing the upcoming Secret Warriors series for Marvel along with a story in Edge of VenomverseThe Archies for Archie Comics, and another volume of We Can Never Go Home for Black Mask Studios.

You can find Matt’s website here, and his Twitter here.

C2E2 2017: Joëlle Jones Talks About Her Creative Process, Housewife Assassins, & That Moment from Supergirl: Being Super

Joellejones

My first interview at the 2017 edition of C2E2 was with the talented writer/artist Joëlle Jones. I first fell in love with her gorgeous lines, macabre sense of humor, and impeccable style in the 2015-2016 Dark Horse Comics miniseries Lady Killer that she co-wrote with current Vertigo editor Jamie S. Rich and illustrated herself. Lady Killer is about a seemingly stereotypical 1960s housewife named Josie Schuller, who raises her two kids and makes dinner for her husband, but is secretly an assassin. She was also the artist on the lovely slice of life graphic novel 12 Reasons Why I Love Her from Oni Press and a Mockingbird one-shot from Marvel Comics.

I got to chat with Jones about her work on Lady Killer and its sequel as well as her heartbreaking work on the DC Comics series Supergirl: Being Super, a modern retelling of Supergirl’s origin story, while she worked on a beautiful Catwoman commission. Read until the end for a cameo from another famous pop culture assassin.

LadyKillerInterior

Graphic Policy: One of the first things that attracted me to Lady Killer were the styles that the characters were wearing, especially Josie. I was wondering what some of your style inspirations were for the series.

Joëlle Jones: I always try to look at the old Sears catalogues. There’s a lot of people who can them in, but mostly, I use the old sewing patterns.

GP: I think I remember seeing some of those at my grandma’s house. I really like the way you draw Josie’s kids in Lady Killer? Did you have any particular influences, like newspaper comics etc.

JJ: It was old Valentine’s Day cards from the 1950s that Pete Hawley did. They’re so cartoon-y, and they make me giggle. I just wanted to do an homage to him.

LadyKillerCoverGP: In Lady Killer 2, Josie is doing some sketchy things, like killing everyone and even teaming up with Nazis. Was there any particular things you added to your writing and art to keep her sympathetic in spite of doing all these deplorable things?

JJ: I wasn’t consciously trying to make people sympathetic to her. Hopefully, part of it is that I love [Josie], and I hope that’s enough to get across. Lady Killer is a kind of book that I would do no matter if people read it or not. I try to entertain myself and get me laughing or interested, and luckily it’s worked out that it’s successful.

GP: I was so glad when Lady Killer got a sequel. What were some of your favorite assassination scenes to draw in the either the first Lady Killer or the sequel?

JJ: I always like what I most recently did, but some of the scenes stand out over time. Like when she killed the stripper and strangles her. I wanted to draw that scene just so I could do the nipple tassels twirling around. The only purpose for that [splash page] was me wanting to draw that.

GP: The old school pasties. Very nice. So, in Lady Killer 2, the Schuller family moves from the Pacific Northwest to Florida so how did the shift in setting influence your work on the series?

JJ: I wanted to put them in a whole new place and shake everything up. I wanted to make them uncomfortable. The first series I kind of wrote with training wheels because Jamie [Rich] was there to help me. For the second series, I really wanted to do it on my own. I wanted to break away from what I did in the first series and put myself in that uncomfortable position. I did the same thing with the [Schuller] family to cover up the jitters.

GP: What have been some of the challenges of working with a co-writer to doing everything but the colors by yourself?

JJ: It’s actually been really freeing. I don’t like to sit down and write scripts. I start in with the art, and my scripts look like a mix between doodles and words. It was so much easier to not have to explain to anybody what I wanted to do. I just wanted to jump write in and do it.

GP: So when do you add the dialogue?

JJ: I add the dialogue at the very last minute when the art’s all finished.

GP: What can readers expect from the big finale in the upcoming Lady Killer 2 #5?

JJ: I don’t know. I haven’t written it yet. I do know where I wanna go and hopefully everyone will like it. Obviously, there’s gonna be a lot of blood. You can expect gore.

GP: That’s one of thing I love about the series: the over the top violence and black comedy. Like 60s housewife sitcom with a little Tarantino on top.

One of my favorite moments in Lady Killer was when you added a little flashback with Josie’s mother-in-law and set her up as a “lady killer” of the past. If you theoretically could do a spinoff of Lady Killer, what era would you set it in and why?

JJ: That’s my favorite too! Maybe it’s because of all the movies I’ve been watched, but I would really like to do a Great Depression/Dust Bowl one. That’s what I’m into now, but it could change tomorrow and be the disco 1970s.

BeingSuper

GP: That would be so awesome with the big afros and everything. Another series of yours that I’m a big fan of is Supergirl: Being Super. In issue 2, Supergirl’s best friend dies. It made me cry on my lunch break at work. How did you get in an emotional state to draw something so powerful?

JJ: Yeah, it’s heartbreaking. It’s all down to the way that Mariko [Tamaki] wrote it. The script is powerful on its own. It didn’t take much to get me there. She sent me the script, and I opened it up and started crying alone in my studio. It was so sad.

GP: It’s so unexpected because it was previously such a lighthearted book.

JJ: I had no idea that was going to happen.

GP: What is the difference in your creative process between Lady Killer and doing everything versus Supergirl: Being Super where you worked with inker, Sandu Florea? Do you draw differently?

JJ: I do a little bit. Sandu inked the first issue, and I took over on the inks for issues two through 4. It’s work as usual, I guess. I’ve been working off other people’s scripts for ten years so it’s back to the normal collaboration with someone else. It’s nice to get my foot off the gas for a while.

GP: My favorite character in Supergirl: Being Super is definitely Dolly. I love that girl. How did you come up with the design for her?

JJ: Mariko had an idea going in, and then we collaborated after a few sketches. I love drawing her clothes the best. She wears basically what I wanna wear all the time. She’s so fun to draw.

GP: She’s so comfortable in her own skin and is definitely style goals.

I have one last “just for fun” question. Who would win in a fight between John Wick and Josie, and why?

JJ: That’s tricky because Josie won’t use guns. Let’s say it’s hand to hand fighting. Josie’s got it. If he sneaks up on her, she’ll probably go down.


Joelle Jones is currently the artist on Supergirl: Being Super from DC Comics and the writer and artist on Lady Killer 2 from Dark Horse Comics.

You can find her on Twitter and on her website.

Gotham Weekly With Alex And Joe: Episode Three And A Half

Neal Adams Batman TMNT Adventures #6 ExclusiveWelcome to Gotham Weekly’s first unscheduled recording!

Our hosts were chatting over messenger about a couple of Batman related things, and decided to just stop and record the conversation. Among the topic of conversation was the announcement of the Titans series, the exclusive C2E2 Batman #21 and Salt City Comic Con Batman/TMNT Adventures #6 (left) variant covers, the recent Bruins/Senators Stanley Cup Playoff series, and the upcoming Hulu documentary Batman And Bill, because Alex finally watched the trailer (included below). This comic strip by Ty Templeton, this book by Marc Tyler Nobleman. 

There was also a bit of chatter about the upcoming SSSC guest Graham Nolan and his co-creation Bane… honestly, we were all over the place. There was no agenda.

We may have forgot we were recording at times.

For links to the interviews and features mentioned in the podcast scroll past the trailer.

 

SUPERMEGAFEST 2016: Interview With Graham Nolan

RHODE ISLAND COMIC CON 2015: Interview With Kevin Conroy

Marc Tyler Nobleman Talks To Us About His Work In Getting Bill Finger’s Name Recognized

I Hate Bob Kane

And as a bonus, the first article Alex ever wrote: Bill Who?

 

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.

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.

Around the Tubes

It’s new comic book day! What’s everyone excited for? What’s everyone getting? Sound off in the comments below! While you wait for shops to open, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.

Around the Tubes

Publisher’s Weekly – C2E2 Attendance Grows, But Graphic Novel Sales Fall – Some interesting takeaways.

CBLDF – CBLDF Leads Defense of Manga in Idaho Middle School – Excellent. Good to see the defense of comics.

ICv2 – Mark Millar Returns to ‘Secret Service’ Comic – Not too surprising.

Kotaku – The cool but short Batman Arkham VR game released for PlayStation VR last year is now out for Oculus – Interesting. Has anyone tried this?

 

Around the Tubes Reviews

Talking Comics – Night Owl Society #1

Talking Comics – Redneck #1

ICv2 – Roughneck

Six Things at C2E2 I’m Most Excited About

I love C2E2, not just because it’s located in the great city of Chicago, home of the best pizza, rappers, and (As of this writing.) basketball team in the world. C2E2 one of the few big time cons that still focuses on comic books and their creators, not just celebrities and movie trailers. It’s also the first comic book convention that I attended many moons ago in 2013 when I strode into the press lounge asking how to interview a comic book creator and frantically texting my editor. But it was a great time, and I got to see some of my heroes, including Felicia Day, comic book painter demigod Alex Ross, Kieron Gillen, and the very kind Doctor Who and Wolverine writer Paul Cornell.

I am very excited to return to C2E2 in 2017 and bask in the glow of comic book fans, creators, and publishers. Here are six things you should check out at (or after) the show, which runs from Friday, April 21 to Sunday, April 23.

  1. C2E2 Exclusive Variants/Comics

At their most primal (and capitalist) level, cons are about buying stuff that we think is cool. Whether that’s a celebrity pretending to care about us for sixty seconds, a print by our favorite artist, or a replica of Mjolnir because we have a god complex. One thing I love about comic book conventions is the opportunity to get special covers of comic books. It can be a snapshot reminder of meeting a certain creator, having an artist draw a character you like, or a bit of both like when I picked up Joe Quinones’ Serenity: Leaves of the Wind variant at Baltimore Comic Con in 2014. (Mal and Inara drawn like a pulp novel cover equals major heart eyes.)

Number one on my list of special comics to pick up at C2E2 is an exclusive early copy of Matthew Rosenberg and Tyler Boss’ hilarious 80s period piece/crime comic Four Kids Walk Into A Bank #4, published by Black Mask Studios. There are only 66 copies of this comic, which features a cover by We Can Never Go Home so get to their booth quickly, and all proceeds to go to the anti-gun violence charity, CeaseFire Illinois. You get to read a cool comic early and help an important cause. Some other comics worth checking out are horror maestro Rafael Albuquerque’s variant for the new Alien: Dead Orbit series, Scott Hampton’s classic fantasy style cover for American Gods #1, Matt Wagner’s creepy Joker-centric cover for The Dark Knight III #1, and Mike Allred doing Flash of Two Worlds Harley Quinn #1 style.

And if you’re a huge Lord of the Rings geek and have money to burn, you could always grab an exclusive Helm of Sauron from Chicago Costume…

2. The Valiant X-O Manowar Release Party (And General Con Presence)

The resurrection of Valiant Entertainment as a publisher has been one of the great comics success stories of the past five years. And they have quite the C2E2 planned with everything from a special beer to commemorate the launch of X-O Manowar #1 by Matt Kindt and my favorite Conan artist Tomas Giorello to Bloodshot coffee mugs.

Valiant is doing a full spread of panels, including ones about X-O Manowar’s past, present, and future as their flagship book and one about the upcoming Harbinger Wars 2 crossover with never seen before art and information about this book, which will affect almost all Valiant titles, including Faith. There’s also an early look at Ninjak vs. The Valiant Universea live action webseries featuring many Valiant heroes, like Ninjak, who will be played by Jason David Frank. (The former Green Power Ranger.)

And to cap things off, there’s the X-O Manowar #1 release party held at 7 PM on Friday at the Cobra Lounge. The party is also celebrating the release of Pipeworks Brewing Company’s X-O Manowar Galactic Golden Ale and has a $5 cover charge that will be donated to the suicide prevention charity, Hope for the Day. Comics and craft  beer are an excellent combination, and maybe you’ll spot Valiant’s famous ale and wine swilling immortal, Armstrong, at the party.

I HATE FAIRYLAND

3. Image Comics Panels

Image Comics is home for some of the creative comics of the 2010s in a variety of genres from dystopian science fiction (Bitch Planet) to space opera (Saga), urban fantasy (The Wicked + the Divine), and even sex comedy (Sex Criminals) and autobiography (Self-Obsessed). And all of Image’s books are owned by their creators.

One place to see all of your favorite Image creators at one place is at various panels. The one I’m looking forward to most is  “Image Comics Presents: Storytelling Essentials”, which will be held on Saturday at 11:15 AM and is a general chat about craft, influences, and inspirations. The panel lineup is pretty stacked and includes up and coming writer Donny Cates (God Country), queen of all colorists Jordie Bellaire (Injection), artist of all the pretty people Jamie McKelvie (WicDiv), the legend Greg Rucka (The Old Guard), the artist with one of the cleanest lines in comics Declan Shalvey (Injection), and writer/artist of adorable superhero babies and demented fairy tale characters Skottie Young (I Hate Fairyland).

I can’t wait to hear the interactions between this eclectic group of creators, who demonstrate on a daily basis that comics are much more than superheroes, and artists and colorists are equal, if not superior participants to writers in the creative process.

4. Weta Workshop Awesomeness

Before I got into comics, I was a huge (and still am) J.R.R. Tolkien and Lord of the Rings nerd. They weren’t splashed on the covers of Entertainment Weekly and People, like the trilogy’s stars and Academy Award winning director Peter Jackson, but the visual effects and makeup team at Wellington, New Zealand’s Weta Workshop truly brought the denizens of Middle Earth to life in both Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Plus they’re named after a prehistoric, resilient cricket that only lives in New Zealand.

Weta is also responsible for crafting the worlds of Narnia, the Planet of the Apes, Mad Max Fury Road, and the upcoming Thor Ragnarok and excels at both practical effects and CGI. One thing that they are especially known for is creating large scale miniatures, like the ones of Minas Tirith, Helm’s Deep, and the dark fortress of Barad-Dur in Lord of the Rings as well as the Great Wall of China in the recent 2017 Matt Damon film with the same name.

And lucky for fans of science fiction and fantasy, they have booth and panel at C2E2 where you can geek out over Gollum, King Kong, Elven blades, or Power Ranger suits and check out the company’s portfolio and history. As icing on the cake, you can see a live makeup “transformation” featuring Warren Dion-Smith. Basically, you will see how flesh and blood human beings become orcs live and in person. The panel is at 2:30 PM on Sunday.

5. Mike Colter Panel

Marvel Studios is bringing several of the actors from their TV shows to C2E2, including Iain de Caestecker and Elizabeth Henstridge, who play the adorable, quirky British agents in Agents of SHIELD, the Kingpin of crime himself Vincen D’Onofrio, and finally, Mike Colter, who played Luke Cage in Jessica Jones and Luke Cage and will reprise his role in the upcoming Netflix series, The Defenders. Before playing the hero formerly known as Power Man, Colter was a crime lord in CBS’ The Good Wife and had roles in The Following and American Horror Story: Coven.

Colter’s appearance at C2E2 is almost perfectly timed as a bulletproof, black superhero is a powerful image for the United States in 2017. We currently have an Attorney General in Jeff Sessions, who has disparaged the NAACP and was considered by Coretta Scott King to be too racist for a federal judge and is one of many cabinet members and high ranking racist, xenophobic (usually) men that run this country. By standing up for his community of Harlem against corruption, Luke Cage is a symbol of hope in this dark time, and Mike Colter embodies him perfectly by playing him with a wonderful mix of physical presence, understated politeness, and a touch of rage in the middle of battle.

And, on a pure fan level, it will be interesting to see how much (or little) Mike Colter is allowed to say about Defenders, which is coming out in about four months. I am intrigued to see if he has anything to say about working with Finn Jones’ Iron Fist, and if they had any of the chemistry that Luke Cage and Danny Rand had in the comics. Jessica Jones, Daredevil, and Luke Cage were all enjoyable shows, and the environment in this panel room is bound to electric with anticipation for their team-up in Defenders with the audience hanging on every crumb of information Colter doles out about the upcoming show.

6. WicDiv Panel and Exclusive Merchandise

If you have read my work at all, you know that I wouldn’t end an article about a comic convention without bumping The Wicked + the Divine, which is my favorite current comic. Writer Kieron Gillen is making his first appearance at C2E2 since 2013, which was the glory days of Young Avengers, and artist Jamie McKelvie is going to his first C2E2 ever. They are bringing some exclusive merch, including pins of a death skull and Persephone’s hand and a very metal Baphomet t-shirt. Wearing this shirt instantly gives you the superpowers of ripped abs, Andrew Eldritch sunglasses, and fire swords.

And it’s kind of fitting that the WicDiv panel is being held on Sunday as fellow fans, er, worshipers of the Pantheon can join together and air out our feelings about the bittersweet ending to the “Imperial Phase” arc and get ready for the WicDiv #455 featuring the gods of ancient Rome. The panel is at 2:30 PM and will most likely have some glorious cosplay.

And that is my highly subjective list of the six coolest things to do at C2E2. Remember to stay hydrated, pack a portable phone charger, and take plenty of selfies with your favorite comic book creators and fans of general awesome things.

Marvel Returns to C2E2 with Signings, Panels, Giveaways and More!

This weekend, the House of Ideas takes the Windy City by storm as Marvel prepares for C2E2 and non-stop excitement! They’re bringing the hottest creators, breaking news plus signings, giveaways and more! Your central hub for all the excitement is the Marvel Booth (Booth #327) so be sure to stop by for your chance to get in on all the fun!

Want to know more about the Secret Empire event? Or about what ResurrXion has in store for your favorite mutants? What about top secret announcements for some upcoming Marvel comics? Then you won’t want to miss this year’s panel lineup chock full of breaking news! And that’s not all because this year’s show features an all-star lineup of your favorite Marvel creators and stars who will be appearing throughout the show. Swing by for scheduled appearances by Jason Aaron, Nick Spencer, Jordie Bellaire, Declan Shalvey, Margaret Stohl and many more! See the official signing schedule for more info.

Diamond Select Toys Celebrates Two Anniversaries at Chicago’s C2E2

They call Chicago “Second City,” but it’s always first in the hearts of Diamond Select Toys, as they head back to Chi-town on April 21-23 for C2E2, the Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo! Celebrating 15 years of Minimates mini-figures and Select action figures, DST will be setting up a booth at the show to show off their latest prototypes and sell some of their most popular collectibles, as well as hosting a panel where they’ll show off even more upcoming items and give away some sweet prizes!

Booth #817 will be your first stop, as new prototypes from Marvel, DC, Justice League, Gotham, Pirates of the Caribbean, Dark Tower, Alien: Covenant, Predator, Pulp Fiction and more will be on display, including some never-before-exhibited items! The DST store will also be open for business, with Select action figures, Gallery PVCs, Minimates mini-figures, vinyl banks and more waiting to fill holes in your collection. Plus, pick up exclusive free postcards featuring Marvel Minimates artwork!

Friday night will also be the time to come to the Diamond Select Toys panel! Titled “Diamond Select Toys: 15 Years of Minimates and Select Figures,” the panel will take place on Friday, April 21, from 6:45 PM to 7:45 PM in Room S402. Marketing Supervisor Zach Oat will be there to talk about upcoming products, answer questions and give away prizes to randomly drawn attendees. He’ll also reveal the line-up and images of Marvel Animated Minimates Series 5, which hits Walgreens stores next month!

Comic Creator Gisele Lagace Denied Entry into the US for C2E2

It was only a matter of time before this happened, but comic artist Gisele Lagace was denied entry into the United States to attend this weekend’s C2E2 which is taking place in Chicago. Lagace was to table there and have a signing for IDW on Saturday and Sunday.

As Lagace wrote on Facebook:

Welp, no C2E2 for me. Was refused entry at the border. They kept pressing about the comics I had and the sketches, and well, I had to be honest and said that I did get paid for commissions but before hand, but since they weren’t complete, it was considered work in the us. Comics wise, I had maybe $700 in value if I had sold everything. Honestly, it’s not a lot.

Was asked if I was the only one doing this as I looked surprised to be refused entry. I said no, many artists from around the world attend these to promote themselves. I don’t think they cared.

My car was searched and is a mess. And to top it off, I was body searched and finger printed too (they do that when you get refused entry apparently.) It was an awful experience.

Things then went worse when they searched me throughout and found 2 white pills in my wallet. There was no identification on them and I wasn’t sure what they were. Once I calmed down after being touched all over, I remembered they were generic acetaminophen from the dollar store that I carry around in case Marc gets a headache as it sometimes happen. I forgot they were even in there.

Anyway, I wasn’t turned around for the 2 acetaminophen, as they found those after I was refused entry for the comics in my car and the unfinished sketches but they kept us longer there until they were convinced they weren’t narcotics. I never took drugs in my life!

And to think we drove close to 2 days to get there. For nothing. (No, I didn’t get anything from that body search. Maybe Zii would think it’s a good deal.) Anyway… Driving back home.

Now that I’ve been refused entry in the US for this, it’s on file. Don’t expect to see me at a US con until I can figure out a way to get in and being absolutely certain this won’t happen.

Legace has done work for Marvel, Archie, IDW, and Dynamite, as well as numerous webcomics. The logic for denial of entry sounds similar as to what Italian band Soviet Soviet experienced when attempting to travel to SXSW, the question over what counts as “paid work.”

Expect fewer guests who live outside the US from attending shows until this is cleared up and it should be said, those who are attending from outside the US to be careful about accepting paid commissions while attending conventions.

Welcome to Donald Trump’s America…

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