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Rhode Island Comic Con 2019: Revenge of the Con

Rhode Island Comic Con 2019

Don’t call it a comeback, because they never left. It was that time of year again, the blasters were loading and the capes were flowing. Yes it was the annual trip to Nerdvana for Rhode Island Comic Con and it was hosted right here … in Providence, Rhode Island! (cheap Mick Foley plug)

It certainly was an interesting sight as the streets were filled and the building to capacity as everyone was gearing up to meet the who’s who of geek culture who had decided to descend on this state. I for one thoroughly enjoy this show as I marvel at the assemblage of guests and creators that arrive each year.

Now like most spectaculars, your day soon becomes a task list of what to accomplish first and just how much you can fit in each day.  The show tends to make that easier to do as you set off on your quest, you can choose to use the website, app or even the program to navigate your way. For me though, I prefer the old fashioned way of just hoofing it across the terrain and venturing into the hallowed halls.

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First stop, as always since I am a proud and avid collector, I hit up the vendors. There always seems to be something for everyone and this year was certainly no exception. There’s comics, action figures, movie props and numerous paraphernalia from just about every genre you can think of, horror, hero, video games, tv, movies, sci fi, you name it, they got it.

So of course since they had it, I got it. Not a bad couple of finds as well.

Tip: Don’t be afraid to haggle, trust me the vendors want this stuff to go home with you as much as you do. 

So after spending a good time feeling like a dog at fire hydrant convention, I made my way away from the vendors and to the main show floor. What I was not prepared for was all the coolness that awaited my pupils when I turned the corner. Almost every inch of the show had some kind of wow factor that was present for your optics, wherever you moved.

At times it was easy to feel like you were on a Hollywood sound stage with all the creativity abound. So I did what any lighthearted news hound would do …

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I joined the Dark Side. I mean seriously the benefits are way better. Also they have cookies. Lots of cookies.

All joking aside though, as you make your way through your fellow aficionados, you arrive at the main ballroom where there is more celebs and guests than you can shake an NDA at. If you take a look around there is someone representing from each corner of the Pop Culture Galaxy. From TV, to movies, to voice acting and even wrestling.

I mean if you’re not careful you might just turn around and bump into, Mark Paul Gosellaar, Jaleel White or even this happy guy .. from AEW: Jon Freaking Moxley.

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Like I said there is someone for everyone in this place and I observed quite a bit. Even though at times the lines were quite arduous, I saw that everyone got a fair shake. Each attendant got a little time to shine with their icons and heroes and that is really what it is all about.

Now like everything, it wasn’t perfect, but it was as near to that as organized chaos can get. These shows are truly wonderful as we in fandom spend so much time and energy into giving ourselves of this hobby and lifestyle. It is refreshing to get a return on our time. This is no easy feat to put together and this year more than before, it has me appreciating all the efforts that go into this just a bit more.

So if you ever find yourself on this side of the world and you want to see all the hub bub for yourself, take a slide on down and check out, what I think is the Best Show in any State each year and you tell me yourself.

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Whether it is coming across a comic book or grail piece you have longed to have in your collection or meeting your childhood hero or even just taking in the wackiness. The memories you will have will be treasured in all your travels.

So what are you waiting for? Keep an eye out for updates and see you here next year!

*** Thank you for the staff at Rhode Island Comic Con for welcoming me back and allowing me to cover the show once again. Great job all around and see you for the big one in 2020!! ***

Rhode Island Comic Con 2018 is “The Biggest Show in the Smallest State”

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“The year of the fan”

Like any hobby or past time worth following, there always comes a peak in the season. It is a point that you look forward to all year as the culmination of work and preparation. For football it is the Super Bowl. For hockey it is the Stanley Cup. For sports entertainment it is Wrestlemania. These are all time honored traditions that we follow and enjoy. Well for me and what I do, comic conventions are the apex of the lot. I cover multiple comic cons a year but none do I look forward to more than the first week of November in Providence, RI, Rhode Island Comic Con.

This show is touted as “The biggest show in the smallest state” I would argue that, as it makes it sound almost secondary. For me and shows along the east coast, I consider this the top. Now I might have a little bit of journalistic bias here, but it is not fake news. I have a sentimental attachment to this show for sure, as it was three short years ago I had my very first celebrity interview on this very stage. I was fortunate enough to interview a childhood idol, in Lou Ferrigno. Although you might know him better as his jade green alter-ego: The Incredible Hulk. Lou played the Hulk in the popular and now beloved 1970’s television version of the character. This was way back before Marvel had a bountiful movie universe or many video games and cartoons to their portfolio. He was Marvel through and through, before Marvel was cool. Nerve wracked as I was, I was humbled to be able to meet him one on one as my dad passed his love of the TV show down to me, when I was just a little sprout. Being able to do that interview, I was then able to parlay myself a portfolio of who’s who of comic book creators and celebrities as a body of work, all because of one chance on that one November day. This was my long winded way of saying thank you. I will forever be grateful for this event.

Now fast forward to three years later it is now 2018. In the comic world, things have changed but very much stay familiar. This day and age it has become more of a pop culture phenomenon than a simple comic convention. There are vendors, creators, actors and cosplayers galore. It seems like there is something for everyone, if you look for it. However there has in the past few years there is one integral group that seems to get lost or overlooked in the shuffle: the fan. Now by no means is this a knock on the show or anyone who puts it together, but I have had observations in the past. Every year the show gets bigger and it seems we, the fans become smaller in comparison. What I mean by that is there is simply too much and not enough time to enjoy or explore it all. It becomes more likened to a theme park than a geek gathering. Usually you have to pick and choose your ride (or in this case line) and you pretty much commit to doing that for your day.

Every year the guests get bigger and bigger but so does the gap between us and them. In recent years the guests are usually housed in one or two large convention rooms on a concrete floor and the lines are enormous. I don’t know if it was the large open space or the way it was set up, but it never seemed conducive to true quality fan interaction. It became very formulaic the way it was set up, wait in a long line, have a quick second or two with your favorite icon and then poof it was gone. The gap between you and them was almost like an invisible barrier than you could not penetrate. However this year, was different. Almost all of the guests and celebrities were located upstairs in the ballroom and it was a smaller room, but it seemed much more intimate. As I observed in my many trips across the con floors, it seemed brighter. It seemed better. Maybe it was the fact that you were now standing on carpeted floor instead of cool, cold concrete ground. Maybe it was the fact that the atmosphere now mimicked a warm hotel lobby, rather than a wide open airstrip, but I feel like it was genuinely different. I would venture to guess that this change made a difference in the way the guests behaved too. Sure they had big lines like always, but it never seemed out of hand. I noticed a lot more smiles this go around, as Celebrity and fan alike seemed to get more out of their interactions. I noticed that no one seemed to be rushed or hurried through, everyone got their moment in the sun and time to shine. This to me was so very important, because who wants to wait all that time for a meet and greet to simply leave with a bad taste in their mouth? Remember that people spend their hard earned money to attend this, and everyone should get a bang for their buck. From what I saw, they did. To me that is what Comic Con is all about. People being able to meet their idols, share why they mean so much to us and pay tribute. It is also about those we meet paying tribute back. For without us, the fan, none of this is possible.

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I believe because of these settings and the way the energy was flowing, everyone was able to get at least a little bit more of what they wanted. Fans were able to get more meaningful interactions, celebrities were able to let their hair down a bit more and journalists were able to get much more quality content as a result. When it hits on all cylinders it feels like a win for everyone. That to me is a very good thing. So I have to say kudos to all those who put on this show and made changes this year, it really felt like a more complete event than ever before. I happen to know a few of the amazing souls who worked tirelessly to bring this to life. I’d be remiss if I did not take the time to thank Sue Soares of Altered Reality Entertainment. Sue works on this show constantly and makes sure it gets bigger every single year, and that is no small order. Also Joseph Bruen of All Axxess Entertainment. Joe is a veteran of these halls and is always the consummate professional when it comes to promotion and being on hand to cover and bring us constant up to date news and content. Then there is Dante Luna of Dante Luna Productions. Dante is the most driven creative force you will ever see walk into one of these venues. Him and his team work non stop to bring you the most innovative and amazing content. He promotes the show via his YouTube channel, as well as his amazing photography and he is able to get you a look at the guests and attendees from angles that no one else can produce.

He even has candid interviews with the now late Great Stan Lee. Truly awesome stuff.

These folks put their all into this show every single year and we benefit as a result of it. They are not the only ones who seemed to level up their game this year though. The cosplayers I must say were magnificent. I know people diligently work on their creations each year but this time around it seems that they were able to produce work that rivaled most movie productions. Again, just amazing stuff. Take a look. The creativity was off the charts!

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So though it goes by the moniker of “The Biggest Show in the Smallest State” I believe it is anything but. The amount of content and star power here easily rivals that of many shows in larger states and venues. So if you are tired of the same ole same ole show where you are year after year, I humble suggest you take a trip to Rhode Island and attend this one. If it was anything like what was just presented this year, you will be so glad you did.

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Rhode Island Comic Con 2015: Interview with Will Friedle

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What’s better than meeting one Batman? How about two? At Rhode Island Comic Con I did just that when I met the voice of Terry McGinnis from Batman Beyond himself: Will Friedle. Will was kind enough to take the time and answer a few brief questions on what the Batman mythos means to him.

Graphic Policy: Hi Will, thank you for your time and I just wanted to get your thoughts on a few quick questions.

Will Friedle: Hey no problem, absolutely.

Graphic Policy: So what does the Batman legacy mean to you?

Will Friedle: The Batman legacy means a ton to me, first and foremost because it was the first animated show I ever did. So it means a lot to me just from the voice over realm, but also Batman’s always been my favorite superhero because I love how he doesn’t have any superpowers. He’s just a man and his will. That’s what I love.

Graphic Policy: Same here. Were you and Kevin (Conroy) ever in the booth together when recording?

Will Friedle: Kevin and I recorded almost every single, if not every single episode together and the movie together. Yes, always together.

Graphic Policy: You told me your favorite episode earlier, but do you have a favorite voice over performance, Batman Beyond or otherwise?

Will Friedle: No, you know I think Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker is definitely up there as my favorite performance I’ve ever done.

Graphic Policy: It was definitely a most memorable one for me to be sure. Stellar job by everyone.

Will Friedle: Couldn’t agree more.

Graphic Policy: So last question. How did you make the transition from Boy Meets World to voice over acting?

Will Friedle: Well you know, I got very lucky. Bruce Timm who created Batman Beyond, his wife was a big Boy Meets World fan. So she said oh you’re doing this new young Batman, so you should call Will in. They did and the rest is history.

Graphic Policy: Awesome stuff, thank you for your time.

Will Friedle: Well thank you.

 

*I just wanted to take the time to point out that the reason the interview is so brief, Will is a super cool guy and he had insane lines all weekend long. He took the time to make each and every single person’s experience with him as memorable as possible. Very nice person. 

 

Rhode Island Comic Con 2015: Interview with Kevin Conroy

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Last weekend at Rhode Island Comic Con I got to live a personal dream and meet the man who shaped mine and many people’s childhoods. The voice of the Dark Knight himself: Kevin Conroy!

Graphic Policy: Thank you so much for taking this time, I know you’re very busy. it’s an honor.

Kevin Conroy: Sure. It’s my pleasure.

Graphic Policy: Lets dive right into it. What does the Batman legacy mean to you?

Kevin Conroy: Being part of the Batman legacy has been an incredible privilege. He’s such an iconic character and he’s such a cultural icon for just about everybody and to be associated with that is a real honor. More than that, he’s such a noble character and he embodies such goodness for so many people. You know when I come to these Comic Cons it’s interesting, I meet a lot of autistic kids and a lot of kids who had trouble growing up, and they so relate to Batman. He seems to reach something in them that other characters don’t. So to be associated with that is such an honor.

Graphic Policy: I couldn’t agree more. By far and away Batman is my favorite character.

Kevin Conroy: He reaches so many people. It’s amazing.

Graphic Policy: Well this is my first time meeting you and from what I’ve seen, you take the time and give so much back to each fan, what does Comic Con mean to you?

Kevin Conroy: Well I view comics as sort of our cultures mythology. Like the ancient cultures had Achilles and Agamemnon, we have Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. They’re our iconic myths. They are how we teach young people the difference between good and evil, and justice and injustice. It’s just how our culture does it, and I think they become that important, especially to young people. Batman in particular, since I’ve been involved for 23 years, I meet the children of the kids who grew up with me who are now in their thirties and forties.

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Graphic Policy: That’s me!

Kevin Conroy: (laughing) Which is amazing! So there’s this sort of cross generational thing going on. I love coming to these Cons because there is such a cultural resonance. You meet people from all sections of society here. You meet the incredible wealthy hedgefunder who just comes loaded with stuff for his kids, and then you meet someone who can barely afford the entrance fee, just because they want to shake your hand. So it’s amazing and cross cultural. These are real interesting places these Comic Cons.

Graphic Policy: They sure are. Just a few questions left. One, do you have a favorite voice over performance or episode?

Kevin Conroy: I really liked Perchance to Dream. That one they got into the real psychology of the Batman character, which is what I think makes him so interesting. Plus it’s what makes fans love him so much. He’s such a complicated character and his mind is complicated and people relate to that. So it’s fun as an actor especially to have those different colors to play with. He’s not just a stock superhero with a square jaw, those characters are dull. He’s a really complicated guy with as he says, a lot of issues. (laughs)

Graphic Policy: Haha yeah, I think that’s putting it fairly. You know though, I always watch that episode (Perchance to Dream) and wonder about that bit where they say reading comes from the right side of the brain while dreams come from the left, so it’s impossible to read something in a dream. I always wonder, is that a fact or is are you guys just messing with us?

Kevin Conroy: (slyly) Possibly.

Graphic Policy: Last thing and I thank you for your time so much..

Kevin Conroy: Sure.

Graphic Policy: What can we expect from you going forward. I know the “Arkham” games have wrapped, is there anything else.

Kevin Conroy: Yes. There’s a lot actually, that’s coming out by the end I think of 2016. I can’t say anything because of the non disclosure agreements that I’ve signed and they haven’t been announced yet but I’m leaving on Wednesday to go back to Warner Bros. There’s a lot going on.

Graphic Policy: That’s awesome to hear. Before I go can you say “I am Batman”.

Kevin Conroy: (Batman voice) I.. am.. Batman.

Graphic Policy: Wow. Amazing. This was terrific.

Kevin Conroy: Great. It was great meeting you.

 

*Sidenote: To hear him do the Batman voice in person was incredible. I will never delete that audio from my phone. List of childhood dreams, you are now not as long. What a great guy and class act. I hope all of you get a chance to meet him yourselves someday.

 

 

Rhode Island Comic Con 2015: Interview with Enrique Savory Jr.

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While covering the 2015 Rhode Island Comic Con I was privileged to meet some very talented people. I am pleased to say that one of these people was Mr. Enrique Savory Jr. an independant comic book artist who was kind enough to let me take a few minutes of his time to pick his brain on his work and just the genre of comic books in general.

Graphic Policy: So how long have you been drawing professionally?

Enrique Savory Jr: As far as comic books go, my first published work was back in 2007.

Graphic Policy: What press or imprint was that with?

Enrique Savory Jr: I was working for Big City Comics at the time and I did some penciling and inking for a title called Totem.

Graphic Policy: Ok, is the title still being published today?

Enrique Savory Jr: Um, well it’s still going on in trade format but if they decide to use the character it’s totally up to them. I’m really not sure if they are still using the character.

Graphic Policy: I see. Well I love your work from what I’ve seen personally and it pops out at me a lot. Especially these rendition pieces, what gives you the inspiration for them?

Enrique Savory Jr: Actually for me it’s about turning a negative into a positive. As a kid I didn’t have that kind of a talent to conjure the official image out of my head, so I decided that I would just start making stuff up and it kind of caught on a little bit. The more I did it the more I got sucked in. So I keep using it and it’s worked out pretty good so far.

Graphic Policy: Now what do you currently have published? Any ongoing titles?

Enrique Savory Jr: Not quite yet. I am currently working on something that is co-written, inked, penciled and colored by me. It’s going to take some time to do, because I’m pretty much doing it all by myself. I’m hoping the first issue will be out either the middle or late next year.

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Graphic Policy: Well I will definitely have to look and keep an eye out for that. Now, how long does it take you to do a normal 22 page book and for the people out there how detailed a process is this?

Enrique Savory Jr: Well because of the detailed nature of the book it doesn’t take 22 or 23 days for 22 pages it takes quite a bit of time, it can range for penciling and inking anywhere from 30 days to 40 days to really nail down a finished product. It all depends on how the piece itself is constructed from cover to cover. So that takes some time. Doing it yourself rather than being assisted can take say three to four months. Once I nail down my process and get into my groove. I hope to put out about 3 issues a year. It’s all about efficiency.

Graphic Policy: Wow that’s quite involved. Switching gears who is your favorite comic book character?

Enrique Savory Jr: For me, it’s Batman for DC Comics and Spider-Man for Marvel. Grendel is my favorite Independent character.

Graphic Policy: Grendel by Matt Wagner, nice.

Enrique Savory Jr: Yes.

Graphic Policy: What comic books do you currently follow today, and do you have a favorite artist?

Enrique Savory Jr: Well if I follow a certain book it is only because of a certain artist. Like if I’m going to follow Batman, at this point I’m getting the title because Greg Capullo is on it. I truly admire his work. For me I jump on when the artist jumps on, so I don’t necessarily follow the title as much as I follow the artist. So I will flip-flop back and forth and hunt their titles down at times. Chris Bachalo, he did a long run on X-Men that I enjoyed, and Dale Keown if he does anything I’m aboard. I will get him on anything.

Graphic Policy: He was great, I loved him on the Hulk and Pitt.

Enrique Savory Jr: Yes indeed. It’s like pick a run and I will get it. As far as he goes. I will hunt him down and collect it. His artwork is superb.

Graphic Policy: Sure.

Enrique Savory Jr: Of course you can’t go wrong with Jim Lee and Mark Silvestri either. I also keep an eye on people who I was fans of when I was younger to see if there styles have changed or evolved and if it was for the better or the worse. It if it’s for the worse I’ll leave it alone if it’s for the better I’ll pick it up.

Graphic Policy: Absolutely. So for anyone who’s looking to get in to this trade, as someone with experience, what advice do you have?

Enrique Savory Jr: Don’t think its as complicated as you think. It has it’s stresses, but the you decide to start, is the day you become a comic book artist. Not the day you have the idea, but the day you decide to start because getting hired is harder. Not getting published. So if you have material and a means to do it, there are outlets that will allow you to do that, day one. You have on demand printing now. You have digital comics, hard copy etc. The outlets are there you just have to find them.

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Graphic Policy: To that point, how do you think that websites like Comixology or those digital imprints effect you the artist personally, or does it?

Enrique Savory Jr: It hasn’t effected me, because I haven’t really put anything out in the digital format. So only time will tell, right now I can’t really answer that particular question.

Graphic Policy: Do you ever go a day without drawing?

Enrique Savory Jr: I try not to. I like to stay loose. I get quite cranky if I don’t. If I go a day without drawing or two, by day three I get very hard to deal with. That’s the honest truth.

Graphic Policy: By the flip side of that, don’t you get burned out?

Enrique Savory Jr: Oh yeah. You get burned out but that’s usually when the work you’re doing isn’t really cooperating. It can get quite frustrating. Another way you can get burned out is when you are doing the work for someone and not for yourself because of the demands. It’s harder to get burned out when you are doing your own work, rather than for someone else. Once you put an issue out, the process starts all over again with no down time at all. So working for someone you can burn out pretty quick.

Graphic Policy: Understood. Last question.

Enrique Savory Jr: Shoot.

Graphic Policy: Besides comic books, what’s the one thing you are passionate about?

Enrique Savory Jr: Easy. Football. For me, football is my life. I’ve liked football since I was four years old. I am a big, big Dallas Cowboys fan. However I am a homer, because I’m from New England I have a little bit of a homer streak in me. So I am a fan of my local teams but when I was four years old, I said that is my team and I haven’t looked back since. Good or bad.

Graphic Policy: Well this was fantastic and I hope you get the exposure you deserve. I’ll keep my eyes peeled.

Enrique Savory Jr: Thank you.

Graphic Policy: Here’s to hoping my Pats can still meet your Cowboys in the Superbowl.

Enrique Savory Jr: Haha thanks.

 

 

 

 

 

Rhode Island Comic Con 2015 : Interview with Ethan Van Sciver

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Having attended the Rhode Island Comic Con this past weekend on November 6th-8th held at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center, I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to speak with some high-profile guests. (Power of the Press prevails) I was very lucky to get a few minutes with the most prolific Green Lantern artist and good guy: Mr. Ethan Van Sciver.

Graphic Policy: Well it’s very nice to meet you, I appreciate it and I just had a few questions for you that I’m sure would interest your fans.

Ethan Van Sciver: Sure, go ahead.

Graphic Policy: Have you ever been asked to do a commission piece that you’ve flat out refused and if so why?

Ethan Van Sciver: Well, I’m sure that I have, but not because it was dirty or anything. It would have been because I just didn’t want to draw it. People will ask me and come by to draw Star Trek things and that’s not something I really want to do. So I will go, well you know. No thank you.

Graphic Policy: So do you basically try to stick within the vein of comic book books. DC and Marvel characters, because I know you do a lot of cool original pieces like Luke Skywalker Lantern and so forth..

Ethan Van Sciver: I will do Star Wars every now and then, but I prefer to stick to just superheroes. I love drawing superheroes.

Graphic Policy: Absolutely you are fantastic at it.

Ethan Van Sciver: Thank you.

Graphic Policy: Do you have a favorite run?

Ethan Van Sciver: Of somebody elses? Or my own?

Graphic Policy: Yours.

Ethan Van Sciver: Of my own, yeah I really liked everything from Green Lantern Rebirth to Sinestro Corps. I thought that was a really good moment.

Graphic Policy: I think that was your best run ever. I have a personal favorite issue. Green Lantern: Rebirth #6.

Ethan Van Sciver: That issue was really a lot of fun.

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Graphic Policy: I loved when Bruce (Batman) punches Hal back because the series opened with Hal punching Bruce so it was cool to see it come back around in the end *

Ethan Van Sciver: Yeah that was cool.

Graphic Policy: My good buddy, you’re one of his favorite artists of all time.

Ethan Van Sciver: Oh wow.

Graphic Policy: Do you have a favorite comic book character and is it Green Lantern?

Ethan Van Sciver: My favorite comic character is Plastic Man.

Graphic Policy: Really?

Ethan Van Sciver: Yeah I love Plastic Man, I’m still waiting for a chance to draw him. I know in the past sales have not been particularly good for that character so they are very hesitant to do it again. I would do it as a gangster book and make it a little more irish mafia and little bit more like Black Mass, you know with just a little bit of superhero in it.

Graphic Policy: That would be really cool. Speaking of, you saw that movie Black Mass?

Ethan Van Sciver: Loved it, and that is my Eel O’ Brien story. Is he using his superhero identity to rise himself in the mob, or is he using the mob to make him a better asset to the FBI? So like, who is this guy for real? It was amazing, you know and the Whitey Bulger story was a lot like that. It was very interesting.

Graphic Policy: It was, and well definitely me being from the Boston area, you can’t help but grow up with stories from that.

Ethan Van Sciver: Yeah.

Graphic Policy: So what advice to you have for anyone looking to be a comic book artist today?

Ethan Van Sciver: Yeah, just do it. Don’t let anyone stop you, just start drawing your own comic book and let it happen. Let it be a gradual process. Breaking in, is a misnomer, there’s no such thing as breaking in. You just do it and advance in the industry.

Graphic Policy: Perfect, and what can we expect from you next? What’s your next project.

Ethan Van Sciver: Next project is called Green Lantern: Edge of Oblivion and it’s a six issue mini series with Tom Taylor writing it and me doing all the art. Basically it’s the story that bridges the gap between Lost Army. The Green Lantern Corps are lost in a universe that’s dying, are are trying to get back to our reality. Our universe. So everyone is in it, except for Hal Jordan.

Graphic Policy: Haha. The main Green Lantern.

Ethan Van Sciver: You know that’s cool. I get to draw all the Lanterns. Guy Gardener. Simon Baz and John Stewart..

Graphic Policy: Larfleeze?

Ethan Van Sciver: Well Larfleeze is not a Green Lantern. It would be cool if he was in it though.

Graphic Policy: Yeah I know, it’s just so great when you draw him.

Ethan Van Sciver: Thank you.

Graphic Policy: Well I appreciate your time for the interview and hope you catch your flight.

Ethan Van Sciver: Thank you and sure thing.

*I also want to point out that Ethan was kind enough not to call me out on my mistake saying Batman punches Hal in Green Lantern: Rebirth #6 when really it occurred in Green Lantern #9. (Have to do my nerd diligence)

Interview with Lou Ferrigno: The Incredible Hulk

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In the lead up to Rhode Island Comic Con, which takes place November 6-8, I got a chance to talk to the original Hulk himself, Lou Ferrigno!

Graphic Policy: Thank you for taking time out do this interview Lou. It is greatly appreciated.

Lou Ferrigno: Sure, my pleasure.

Graphic Policy: So I know growing up as a kid in Brooklyn, you had a tough time because of your disability and I think it’s really empowering how you’ve overcome all the adversity that includes. I identify with the Hulk also because I wasn’t the biggest or strongest kid growing up and being picked on. So I’m actually a big fan of the show with you and Bill Bixby, I grew up on it and my dad did too.

Lou Ferrigno: Is that so?

Graphic Policy: Oh yes. I’ve always been intrigued by the Hulk in general because at his core he’s a man who’s very smart and not physically imposing but has this massive power lurking inside him waiting to come out. So what I wanted to do here is ask you a few questions about yourself and the Hulk as well as the comic book genre in general if you don’t mind?

Lou Ferrigno: Yeah, go ahead.

Graphic Policy: Great, so to start off, how did you decide to make the transition from body building and fitness to acting?

Lou Ferrigno: So I was training in the 1977 Mr. Olympia competition in California. So maybe about 6:54 in the morning I received a phone call there was a casting call for the Hulk. They were using this other actor named Richard Kiel, had been cast as the Hulk but he did not fit the role at all, so they had to re shoot the pilot as they had a problem. I went down and shot a screen test, and they wanted to re shoot the pilot quickly so it could be successful, and that’s how quick it happened. Less than 24 hours.

I was looking in the mirror the next day, having been on the set for five or six hours, and I’m looking in the mirror thinking to myself “What am I doing?” I see the Hulk character all finished and I’m like “Wow, I can’t believe I’m doing a movie for television.” It was like a dream come true.

slide_335270_3371327_freeGraphic Policy: I can’t even imagine what it would be like to be in those shoes, so cool. So do you think that because you won the previous body building titles and also the documentary you did called “Pumping Iron” gave you an in, for the Hulk or was it just like you were on equal footing with everybody?

Lou Ferrigno: No, it gave me an in because when “Pumping Iron” came out it gave me a lot of recognition, so I was ahead of a lot of the actors in the physical department.

Graphic Policy: Now speaking of that, to my knowledge you are the only one to ever portray the role of the Hulk physically on-screen. You also do the voice over acting for the character in the current Marvel films.

Lou Ferrigno: Correct.

Graphic Policy: So my question to you is, what is it like preparing for the role and is it just the same or is it more relaxed like you go in your sweatpants and just able to lay back?

Lou Ferrigno: Well it’s still good, but it’s a challenge. When I go in and do the voice over, I can’t read the script. So they tell me with those movies, I have to improvise. They have my voice in a library that they can transfer scene to scene when needed. I definitely wanted to do the voice because, even though it’s shot in CGI, I still know how the Hulk looks and feels. It’s just as much to the character as before.

Graphic Policy: Yeah I mean, it comes out great on film. The voices that emanate from him, are so real for the CGI part. It’s great. You also played a security guard in the Incredible Hulk alongside Edward Norton, that was awesome too.

Lou Ferrigno: Thanks.

Graphic Policy: Now I’ve read that two of your favorite comics growing up were Spider-Man and The Hulk, with The Hulk edging it out. Do you still read any comics today?

Lou Ferrigno: Not like I used to. No, because they changed it with the Red Hulk and the stories are off the trend. If I happen across an older Hulk comic book though, of course I will look through it as it brings back those childhood memories. I like the old comics compared to the newer ones.

Graphic Policy: I do too. They were genius back then.

Lou Ferrigno: Yup.

Graphic Policy: Tell me, do you have a personal favorite episode of The Incredible Hulk TV show?

Lou Ferrigno: Yes. It’s called “King of the Beach”. It was my first real acting role where you get to see me and The Hulk together. It was the highest rated show over its five years. That is my favorite because it was my first acting role.

Graphic Policy: That’s got to be pretty cool.

Just a few more questions here. So as a kid growing up reading comics did you ever think that a character you are now so closely tied to would have, pardon the pun such incredible success?

Lou Ferrigno: I had no idea. There was no way to know that it would have such a uge impact with every country in the world. So because of the success of the television series I’ve had a chance to travel the world. I’ve been to Egypt, South America, and one time I went into a stadium of like 60,000 people and everyone immediately recognized me. Right there I realized there was something there with this character being so beloved, especially being green, it’s really something.

Graphic Policy: To that point if I may say so, I think that it’s your portrayal that sticks in everyone’s minds as the Hulk. Now you can read the comics but it’s that on-screen portrayal that really stays with them. I mean everywhere you go now there’s comics. It’s a great time.

Lou Ferrigno: Well they changed The Hulk’s design because of my physicality. Even 40 years later people still come to comic conventions and even little children who are say 5 or 6 years old, immediately identify me as The Hulk even though they weren’t around for the TV show but it’s such a beloved character.

Graphic Policy: Sure is. Switching gears here, I have a personal question for you. What advice would you give to anyone looking to get into acting or another profession that may have to overcome a disability of their own?

Lou Ferrigno: I believe that as long as you are passionate about something, whether it’s a toothbrush or a doorknob or something, as long you feel good about yourself that will connect to your mind and connect to the body, just realize that you have it. Don’t listen to other people. Pursue it.

Graphic Policy: Ok, to wrap it up You’ve done so much in your career. From fitness and body building to acting in TV and movies, owning your own fitness company even becoming a deputy sheriff..

Lou Ferrigno: 12 years.

Graphic Policy: With that being said, what does the future hold for Lou Ferrigno?

Lou Ferrigno: Well I filmed a great movie in England over the summer called “Instant Death.” It’s about a guy who was in special forces and readjusts back into society. He attempts to repair a relationship with his daughter and granddaughter as he had a British wife. Then this drug gang they go after my daughter and granddaughter so I seek revenge, it’s action, fast paced. Go see it. It’s a lot of fun.

Graphic Policy: I will absolutely see it. Sounds great. This was fantastic and I appreciate your time.

Lou Ferrigno: Thank you. No problem.

Graphic Policy: Have a great day and I will see you at the con.

Inkwell Awards Announces 8th Season Convention Tour

inkwell bannerThe non-profit Inkwell Awards has scheduled their upcoming convention appearances for the first half of their eighth season tour to support the group’s mission of promoting, educating and recognizing the art form of inking and ink artists in the comic book industry.

granite state comiconThe first stop the Granite State Comicon in Manchester, NH this September 13-14. The advocacy is making its first appearance there since 2010, with Inkwell founder/director Bob Almond and Anna White as their spokesmodel Ms. Inkwell. Along with assorted merchandise available at their booth, they will hold raffles for original art featuring Batman, Poison Ivy and Thor by industry and fan favorites.

Rhode Island Comic ConNext is the Rhode Island Comic Con in Providence on November 1-2. Joining Almond and Ms. Inkwell will be several committee members and special Inkwell ambassadors J. David Spurlock and the legendary Joe Sinnott, the namesake of the charity’s Hall of Fame Award and its annual Inking Challenge event and book collection.

Later show stops will take place towards the end of the season in May and June of 2015 with the Hartford and Heroes Cons, to be announced later.

The Inkwell Awards is an official 501(c)3 non-profit organization and the world’s sole registered advocacy for the promotion of the comic-book inking art form. In addition to its stated mission, “The Inkwells” annually recognize and award the best ink artists and their work. The organization is overseen by a committee of industry professionals and assisted by various professional ambassadors and contributors. They sponsor the Dave Simons Inkwell Memorial Scholarship Fund for the Kubert School and host the annual Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame Award.