Tag Archives: Tidewater Comicon

Valiant Surfs into Tidewater Comicon 2017 – Coming to Virginia Beach on May 13th & 14th!

From Saturday, May 13th to Sunday, May 14th, Valiant’s non-stop convention tour is going full speed ahead into Tidewater Comicon – and we’re bringing along a high tide of merchandise and panels for two full days of all-out action!

All weekend long, join Valiant inside the Virginia Beach Convention Center at booth #1105 to see why the biggest independent superhero universe in comics is also the best with a selection of paperbacks and deluxe hardcovers for critically acclaimed and award-winning titles!

Plus, don’t miss the all-star Valiant talent that will be joining Tidewater Comicon through the weekend including Robert Venditti!

Then: Jump into the world of alien-armored Visigoths, machine-made soldiers, and high-flying heroines on Saturday, May 13th at 12:00 p.m. EST in room #5 for the Valiant 101: The Story Starts Here panel presentation! New to the Valiant Universe? Jump on board right here with a concise and fun-filled introduction to the origins and adventures of Valiant’s greatest and most iconic heroes! Look no further than this panel of Valiant all-stars to find out where to start!

Plus: Get a sneak peek at the unbelievable battles and milestone moments that are heading to the Valiant Universe on Sunday, May 14th at 11:00 a.m. ET in room #5 for the Valiant: The Road to Harbinger Wars 2 panel presentation! The road to Valiant’s biggest, most ambitious and impactful comic book event of all time starts right here! Jump on board to find out what the future holds!

Tidewater Comicon 2016 Cosplay Gallery

Thousands of comics, science fiction, fantasy, anime, and video game fans hit up Virginia Beach for Tidewater Comicon to buy comics, meet creators and celebrities like Flash Gordon‘s Sam Jones, Clerks’ Brian O’Halloran and Ghostbusters’ Ernie Hudson. There were also a plethora of cosplayers from the ever present Deadpools and Harley Quinn in her many incarnations from the classic Bruce Timm design to the Arkham games and the upcoming Suicide Squad film to more obscure characters, like Marvel’s Squirrel Girl or Belle and Moon from Ian McGinty’s independent comic Welcome to Showside. There was also a laugh out loud hilarious cosplay featuring one of the most popular superheroes ever.

Without further ado, here is a gallery of cosplayers from this year’s incarnation of Tidewater Comicon.

Tidewater Comicon 2016: Interview with Artist/Writer Ian McGinty


On Sunday, at the 2016 Tidewater Comicon, I had the opportunity to chat with artist and writer Ian McGinty about the end (for now) of his creator owned all ages series Welcome to Showside, his current work on Adventure Time, video games, and gingers while cosplayers screamed in the background. Welcome to Showside is about a demon named Kit, who just wants to eat food, play video games, and hang out with his friends Moon, Belle, and Boo. However, he’s the son of the evil Shadow King, who has other plans for him. Also, various monsters travel through eight bit portals into Showside creating most of the issue to issue conflict.

Before being the main artist on Adventure Time and creating both the Welcome to Showside comic and animated pilot, McGinty has worked on a variety of licensed comics, including a long run on Bravest Warriors with writer Kate Leth, Adventure Time: Candy Capers featuring the Peppermint Butler, and Munchkin.


Graphic Policy: What can Welcome to Showside readers expect from the end of the first arc?

Ian McGinty: We had to cram a huge amount of story into a single issue because we wanted to make sure the comic was out for everybody. You’re going to see Kit, the main character, confronting his father, who comes to Showside. The Shadow King actually does show up, and you actually see him instead of just hearing about him.

Along with that conflict, the kids have to take down Frank, who’s turned Belle’s mansion into a fortress. They also have to figure out how to turn Boo into his normal self because he’s all jacked up and super creepy. In the concluding arc, we’ll see Kit face his father and deal with the questions of who he is, why he’s in Showside, and how he got there

GP: Is it going to be a double sized issue?

IM: It’s 32 pages instead of the usual 22. The trade will have bonus comics that we didn’t get done in time to put in Welcome to Showside #5. That’s a nice incentive to pick up the collection. There’s a comic by Patabot, and Jen Bartel (Jem and the Holograms) did a two pager. Jen doesn’t normally do cartoon-y stuff, and it came out really nice.

GP: There are a lot of video games in Welcome to Showside. Why did you decide to include so many elements from them in the comic?

IM: I love video games, but I’m not good at them. I wanted to draw someone who was actually good at video games and things like that. It became a weird recurring theme along with the eating. I’m really interested in food and video games, and the world of Showside itself became like a video game. There’s a big boss battle at the end, like in the old turn based RPGs I enjoy. (Like old Final Fantasy.) Then, there’s the eight bit pixel portals that the characters go through, and we even had an eight bit Kit story in one of the backups.

GP: Yeah, that was a fun backup. It really made me wish there was a Welcome to Showside mobile game, like the  Catbug one.

IM: The Catbug game was fun. And we got the animation made so who knows at this point.


GP: Especially in the last issue with Frank’s henchman Climp, I got a Southern vibe from Showside. What influence does Southern culture have on the comic.

IM: Showside is basically Savannah, Georgia, where I live. The environments are real landmarks in Savannah. In issue 4, Frank and Climp teleport, and they land in a famous alleyway in Savannah. They’re in the squares and places like that. That’s because it was super easy to find photos and draw from that instead of coming up with a big new thing.

And Climp looks like a hillbilly. He’s a Squidbillies type guy. He talks like a King of the Hill character in my head, and I think he’s really funny. He came about randomly. I drew him on the cover before I knew who he really was. And when I did the actual story, I decided to make him a smartass Southern dude.


GP: Another supporting character that I ended up loving in Welcome to Showside was Teenomicon. Could you maybe go a little bit into the design and creation process for him?

IM: Teenomicon was actually designed by Fred Stresing, who is Welcome to Showside‘s colorist and letterer. When we were first pitching the series, we were talking about funny things to have in the series and thought it would be cool to have a sassy Necronomicon guy. Then, Fred wanted to make him a whiny teenager, drew him up the next day, and said I could use it in the series.

Teenomicon is funny because he’s a teenager, but he actually knows everything because he’s a magic book. It would suck if you knew everything. Teenomicon is a “how-to” book for this universe and is my excuse for characters to get out of any situation immediately. He’s a knowledgeable, living book so it works.

GP: But he has a personality so he’s not like a boring exposition guy.

IM: Exactly. He’s really into old school screamo bands, like My Breadical Romance, Taking Back Sunday Brunch, and the Novemberists. There’s a backup later where we find out he’s into watching really cheesy soap operas that will be in the trade. Kara Love wrote that one for us.

GP: In Welcome to Showside #4, you started co-writing the series with Samantha Knapp. Why do you guys decide to start doing that, and what does she add to the comic?

IM: Samantha had a lot of knowledge of the universe, and we had first talked about Welcome to Showside while I was pitching ideas. I started getting more in demand as an artist so I didn’t have as much time to work on it. I was writing and drawing the comic as well as doing covers and picking up backup creators so she came onboard for issue 4. With her, I tell her what’s going to happen in the story, and she makes sense of it in the different story beats.

GP: So, she wrote all the dialogue?

IM: I actually write all the dialogue, but she paces the story out and chooses what’s going to happen in each panel. It’s a nice back and forth and makes the script writing process easier too. Her background is in horror, anime, and manga. These are things I like, but I don’t know super extensively.

Samantha made it so the comic wasn’t just a monster battle each issue. Issues 4 and the super sized issue 5 are one arc, and she brought in cool horror elements while making it more serious. Whereas for me, I was going through a rough time so all my comics I was writing were super bubbly and happy. But she said that there had to be some conflict beyond fighting and beating monsters. Samantha took her knowledge of horror and manga and made everything a little darker. It really helped because you feel that there is more on the line.

GP: So, what is the future of Welcome to Showside after issue 5?welcomeshowsideVol1

IM: Issue 5 comes out pretty soon, and then the trade, and that’s the end of it for now. The animated pilot is still being looked at, and there are still negotiations about an animated series. We’re taking a little hiatus until we see what happens with that, and depending on the animated show, Showside the comic could start up again.

We’ve talked about rebooting it, and right now, if the trade goes well, we might do a spinoff miniseries of just Moon and Belle. It would be an all-female led team. I wouldn’t even be involved in that and would let them use my characters and properties. Samantha would write it, and we have some artists lined up to crank it out if the series happens.

I do Adventure Time full time so I needed the little break. I hope we can do the spinoff though.

GP: I would totally pick up. I actually do have a general question about Adventure Time. Which characters are you interested in exploring in that crazy, big universe?

IM: I usually say Peppermint Butler, but they’ve already gone into his backstory. I’m working on a story about BMO’s dark side right now. I’m interested in BMO being the only genderless character in that universe and being an actual robot. There’s weird stuff around to be explored, like the scene in the show where he has to change his batteries, and he has to time it properly so he can jump into the batteries. He basically dies and falls on the batteries. And I thought that was so creepy. I’m always into Lumpy Space Princess stories because she’s awesome.

GP: One thing I liked about Welcome to Showside is that I wanted to hang out with the characters, and they seemed like my friends. What Welcome to Showside character would you want spend the day with?

IM: Definitely not Frank because he’s so irritating. Definitely not Cool Ghost because he’s the worst character ever made in a comic. I would have to say Belle because she would have the most fun and “doesn’t take no guff”. Moon and Belle would be my picks. Moon seems a little too neurotic and uptight, but Belle is pretty fun.

GP: My last question just for fun, and why did you decide make Kit a ginger?

IM: If anyone knows me, and that my girlfriend has red hair, they know that I have something for redheads. More so, it’s because Kit has green skin, and the colors work together. He started out with blue hair, and one day we switched it to red. I liked how the big red mohawk looks.

Adventure Time #53, which is written by Christopher Hastings (Gwenpool) and drawn by Ian McGinty is set to come out on June 8 and is published by BOOM! Studios.

Welcome to Showside #5 is written by Ian McGinty and Samantha “Glow” Knapp and drawn by McGinty is set to be released later this summer along with a trade paperback collecting Welcome to Showside #1-5 and bonus material. It is published by Z2 Comics.

Find Ian on Twitter.

Like Welcome to Showside on Facebook.

Tidewater Comicon 2016: Interview with Writer Tini Howard


On Saturday, at Tidewater Comicon, I had the opportunity to do the first interview with writer Tini Howard about her upcoming espionage, sci-fi thriller Skeptics for Black Mask Studios. The comic is set to come out later this year and features art from Devaki Neogi (Curb Stomp). We also talked about how she broke into comics, her upcoming work on the Barbie: Starlight, and there’s even a surprise cameo from a Marvel character near and dear to both our hearts.


Graphic Policy: I know you broke into comics through the 2013 Top Cow Talent Hunt. How did that come about?

Tini Howard: I was a finalist in the contest in 2013, and my Magdalena: Seventh Sacrament comic debuted in December 2014 on the same day as Secret Six and Bitch Planet. I was in the company of my heroes. Magdalena was my first work for them, and I was pitching various things for Top Cow. As everyone in the industry knows, we kiss a lot of frogs. Then, I got to do Poseidon IX in September 2015. In the meantime, I’ve been doing anthologies like Secret Loves of Geek Girls.

A friend of mine, Chris Sebela, once said, “Your first in year in comics you do one book; the second year, you do three; and in year three, you do ten.” And my third year is crazy because I’ve got a lot of comics coming out. It’s a been a slow ride. Your first book hits Previews, and you think, “Oh, I’ll be doing Batman tomorrow.”, and that’s not how it works.

TheSkeptics_Cover_1_200pxGP: So, you have The Skeptics coming out from Black Mask later this year. What can Black Mask or general comics readers expect from the series?

TH: I’ve been pitching The Skeptics as X-Men: First Class meets Project Alpha and James Randi in An Honest Liar meets Grant Morrison’s Kill Your Boyfriend. I’m a huge Grant Morrison fan and love the energy in things like Kill Your Boyfriend Sex Criminals, and Saga, and the idea that this girl and this guy are on the run together. It’s a dynamic that I love.

Skeptics focuses on that and features two teenagers in Washington DC in the 1960s. There are Russian reports of superpowered individuals, and two teenagers are selected to appear as an American superpowered equivalent in order to prove that the Russian threat is also false. It doesn’t go that way, and hijinks ensue.

Our two main characters are named Max and Mary, and they’re from very different worlds. Mary is a hardworking academic and an American girl while Max is a British criminal. He’s very skilled with sleight of hand and fast talking, and Mary is incredibly intelligent and often underestimated because she’s an African American student in the 1960s. She uses that to her advantage. But it’s cool because she’s very much a good girl. It’s like Kill Your Boyfriend where she’s learning how to be bad and be unafraid to get one up on people. This is while Max is learning to be a better person. They work with a professor of theirs to hopefully disprove the Russian threat.

GP: Your lead character is an African American female scientist in the 1960s. Did you have any real life scientists you were inspired by when creating Mary?

TH: There are actually two female scientists in the series. There is Dr. Santaclara, who is South American, and she is inspired by a family member of mine and also Sophia Loren. We end up with a lot of sexy scientists, like Tony Stark, but there aren’t a lot of women like that in comics, and that’s what we have with Dr. Santaclara, their professor.

And then we have Mary, who is a psych student, and I did a lot of research into academia in the 1960s. You watch a lot of things like Mad Men, and there’s an assumption that a lot of non-white people were relegated to background roles or tragedy stories. In my research, I found out Harvard had its first African American female graduate in the 19th century. It’s stuff you don’t know. I come from a super white background, and my history books didn’t teach me that. The research taught me about women in academia, who were working hard (And I don’t want to say were included in academia because they were pushed out a lot.) back then, and you don’t see them in these kind of stories.

I didn’t want to tell this super aggressive Civil Rights story because I don’t feel like it’s my place. I feel that there are people, who are way more suited to tell that story than me, but, at the same time, I wanted to tell a story about someone who was doing her best, was an intellectual, and was a real person.

NeogiCurbStompGP: I’m a big fan of Devaki Neogi and really enjoyed her work on Curb Stomp. Why was she the perfect artist for this project?

TH: She was my first and only pick, and I got her. I had been friends with her on social media for a while and saw she had some availability. I loved her work on Curb Stomp, and her beautiful covers for another Black Mask book, Kim and Kim that I can’t wait for Mags [Visaggio] to share. Devaki also has a background in fashion illustration, and The Skeptics is a book that isn’t high action. It’s not a superhero book. There’s a lot of quiet tension and not a lot of punching and flying.

I wanted an artist, who was really good at depicting tension, expression, and fashion. Because I love the period, and the mod and preppy styles of the time. Mary is gorgeous with A-line skirts and big curls. Max has all these mod suits, and Dr. Santaclara is this Sophia Loren fabulous woman. Devaki and I have a Pinterest where I pin all these Sixties fashion photos. We get really excited about it.

Devaki was the only artist I had in mind while developing the series, and Matt [Pizzolo] got her because he knew her from some work she had done at Black Mask before. I am excited to work with her. Her style can be this classic comics illustrative style, and it looks just like I dreamed it would.

GP: About Black Mask, why were they the perfect publisher for The Skeptics?

TH: So, I developed The Skeptics not knowing where I wanted it to go. I instantly realized that it didn’t have what a lot of publishers wanted because it’s weird, tense, and historical instead of being a high action, sci-fi book that they’re interested in.

Black Mask is different. I’m a huge fan of a lot of their books, like We Can Never Go Home, which has a lot of quiet moments. I submitted via the open submissions policy and was very lucky. Matt was able to look at my pitch from the slush pile and got back to me very quickly about publishing it. It was a slush pile success story.

GP: What elements of the 1960s are you going to focus on in the themes, designs etc of The Skeptics?

TH: Well, it’s a Cold War story, for one. I’m very interested in academia. I’m originally from DC so that setting is important to me, and the first issue features certain DC landmarks like Ben’s Chili Bowl. It’s big for DC people, but a lot of people might not know it. There’s some influence from Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys with the mystery solving. Our main characters are always creeping around solving mysteries. The Skeptics has that 1960s pulp paperback feel.

I teasingly have called the year in press materials “1960X” because it is an alternate history book. The president is Nelson Rockefeller. I did an alternate history for a lot of reasons. I didn’t want people to say, “That couldn’t have happened, but still wanted it rooted in reality so I went that route. It’s definitely set in the early 60s; more early seasons of Mad Men than the later seasons.

GP: You’re also working on Barbie comics. How did you get to work on Barbie: Starlight for Papercutz?barbiestarlight

TH: I got that job the way lots of things happen in comics. You have a friend, and they’re looking for someone to fill a spot. The editor, Beth Bryan, was putting together a team to do Barbie, and three people had suggested me. I was really honored because I told my first stories with Barbie. My favorite drag queen is Trixie Mattel. Barbie has also had this great reinvention lately where she’s focused being for all girls and removing a lot negativity people have towards the brand.

Barbie Starlight is great. I can’t talk too much about the plot because it ties into the upcoming Barbie Starlight movie, but it’s fun, and there are spaceships. We get to do Barbie in space. And while doing research for it, I found out some of the first Barbie comics were done by Amanda Conner. What great footsteps to be in!

GP: Amanda Conner on Barbie? I gotta track those down!

TH: I know! I saw some of the art, and it’s gorgeous. I love Barbie, and what I’m able to do with her. It’s been a lot of fun, and I watch a lot of Life in the Dreamhouse. I definitely would like to work on some of the other toylines too.

GP: What is the difference in your creative process when working on something licensed or work for hire , like Barbie or Top Cow, than on your own creator owned work?

TH: With license work, there is a licenser that licenses the comics rights to a publisher. And with work for hire, if I pitch to Top Cow, and they love it, they don’t have to get an okay from anyone else. If I write a pitch, and they accept it, I can work on it immediately.

If I write a pitch for Barbie, and my editor at Papercutz loves it, she still has to go to Mattel and see if they like it. That’s one difference in the creative process. You’re not just trying to impress an editor because I’ve had projects where the editor enjoys it, and the licenser doesn’t it. It’s a case of who you’re trying to please thematically. Often, work for hire is a little more flexible because it’s their character, and even if you give them an off the wall idea, it’s theirs to do what they wish. They’re not beholden to a licenser. So, I could do a story about cyborg mermen fighting a sea monster.

GP: I’ve seen some of your critical work for Teen Vogue and Paste. How does writing about comics help with your comics writing?

TH: One thing I’m careful to do because the line between comics journalist and comics creator is very fuzzy is that I don’t write reviews. I just vomit some of my relentless positivity about certain books. For Paste, I write about comics that look good to me, or I got to interview David Baillie from Red Thorn. 

GP: That is one sexy book. I’ve got to catch up on it.

TH: Red Thorn is fire. Half the questions I asked were about were about why everyone is so hot. Is it Meghan Hetrick’s fault, or is it yours? I get to talk about creators of the books I like. I get to make lists around theme, like my favorite Robins, or my favorite books about sex or religion.

But I’m careful not to promote work about companies that I write for. That’s something some people choose to do. It’s self-imposed and imposed by the higher-ups. It’s a conflict of interest. It’s not a fair to promote a company’s work on a website when I’m getting paid by the publisher.

My work isn’t “critical”. I’m just sharing the love. Good comics criticism is so valuable, and what you, Emma, Matt, Ashley, and the people at Comicosity do is so valid. If I were being critical of a creator owned work while I’ve got my creator owned book coming out, I think that looks shady, like, “Don’t buy theirs, buy mine.”

Occasionally, I’ll do observational pieces, like about female writers writing male characters, that got a lot of traction, such as Becky Cloonan on Punisher for Marvel. It’s something I am passionate about and want to see more of.

The only critical work I’ve done is the “boring” kind. I wrote an essay on Dick Grayson for an academic book about Robins. It’s critical work in an academic sense. But I don’t know do reviews or “comics criticism”

GP: I have one last for fun question. I’m a huge Jessica Jones fan and know you are too. For some reason, if Marvel gave you the opportunity to write Jessica Jones, what kind of story would you tell about her?

TH: I have a serious Jessica Jones pitch in my head at all times. It would be great if there was this story where Luke was feeling insecure because Jessica seems like she’s on the phone all the time, or doing something she doesn’t want him to know about. But she’s actually secretly reopening Alias Investigations. I have a dream team of who she hires, like the X-Factor Investigations crew, because that’s one of my favorite Marvel runs.

My dream book is Jessica Jones working with Monet, Rictor, and Shatterstar. And they would call Layla Miller to help because she’s in college, or maybe she’s an adult now. Either this book, or a Daughters of the Dragon comic where Dani and Danny and Misty’s daughters are all grown up. Heroes for Hire is my everything.

Find Tini on Twitter.

Tidewater Comicon 2016


Tidewater Comicon is a smaller con with quite a big bite. First of all, the location doesn’t hurt. The convention center is three miles away from a nice beach with a small boardwalk, amusement park, and all the seafood restaurants and bars your little tourist’s heart could desire. There is plenty to do when you’re not standing in line for creators or panels.

That’s correct. I didn’t have to wait in line for any panels or to meet comics creators even industry legends like Jae Lee (Inhumans, Batman/Superman) or Gerry Conway (creator of The Punisher, killed off Gwen Stacy, basically only Stan Lee and Jack Kirby have created more characters than him). I also had great seating at all the panels I attended, including the Punisher one featuring Conway and Mike Zeck (Secret Wars, the original Punisher miniseries) and a hilarious Q and A featuring actors Brian O’Halloran (Dante, various Hicks family members) and Marilyn Ghigliotti (Veronica) from Kevin Smith’s cult 1994 comedy Clerks.


The creators of Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat and me. (Picture by Katie Thompson.)

Definitely the biggest highlight of Tidewater Comicon was getting to chat with comics creators (Most of whom I’ve had various interactions with on social media.) and support their work in person. Jae Lee was as kind as he was talented and signed my copy of the recent Dynamite Django/Zorro crossover comic. His covers are examples of iconic storytelling in a single image. I geeked out way too hard over meeting the creative team of my favorite Marvel title Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat, which consists of writer Kate Leth, artist Britney Williams, and colorist Megan Wilson. I got a print of a cover of future issue featuring Jessica Jones in Alias Investigations with Hellcat on her desk and found out from Leth that editorial wanted Jessica to show up in the series, and they didn’t have to fight for her inclusion. It will be nice to see Jessica off the couch in a couple months.

I also met artist Eryk Donovan and picked up a copy of the miniseries Memetic (BOOM! Studios) that he did with James Tynion. It’s a series set during an apocalypse set off by a meme of a sloth and features a gay, deaf protagonist, who finds a little love before the world comes to a dark end. I chatted with Josh Frankel, the publisher of Z2 Comics, about their upcoming slate of titles, including Legend and Hyper Force Neo. Z2 is a fun indie publisher with a wide variety of comics from spooky, Southern fried all ages comics (Welcome to Showside) to black and white noirs (Carver) and even fantasy parodies (Allen, Son of Hellcock), and I look forward to seeing what they publish in the future. On Sunday, I got to talk with comics legend Gerry Conway about his Amazing Spider-Man run, and his fight for comics creators to get fair royalties when their creations are used in films and TV shows. I even chatted with Steve Orlando about his upcoming Supergirl series while commiserating over the loss of Midnighter. (He signed the panel where Midnighter and Apollo kiss in Midnighter #12 almost immediately after having a serious conversation with someone who wanted to break into comics.)


And while I wasn’t perusing the quarter bins or looking for manga or trade paperbacks (I picked up two volumes of Y The Last Man for $7 and picked up the complete Codename Sailor V series), a nice little oasis in the middle of the show floor was the Video Game Zone. It was basically just a bunch of tables with various sponsors, some free swag including Jurassic World Legos and Legend of Zelda soundtrack albums, and loads of video games consoles from mini arcade cabinets to Xbox One and PS4’s with the latest Mortal Kombat game or Fallout 4. I stuck to the old school playing the classic Super Mario Bros 3 on the Super NES, struggling at Marvel vs. Capcom 2 on a tricked out Sega Dreamcast, and good ol’ Frogger (which there was never a line for) while waiting for a creator interview. This area was one of the highlights of Tidewater Comicon and did a nice job integrating gamers and comics fans in one happy corner.


Welcome to Showside Live panel

On Saturday, I went to two panels: Welcome to Showside Live and the Action Lab panel because indie comics are the best. Welcome to Showside live was all about Ian McGinty‘s all ages comic Welcome to Showside about a little green monster named Kit, who wants to eat food, play video games all day, and hang out with his friends, but is actually the son of the Cthulhu-esque Shadow King. It’s a comic from Z2 comic as well as an animated pilot. Unfortunately, there were technical difficulties, and the pilot couldn’t be shown, but creator Ian McGinty, co-writer Samantha “Glow” Knapp, colorist and letterer Fred Stresing, and colorist Meg Casey put on quite an energetic panel with help of moderator Tini Howard (Poseidon IX). The team provided some great insights into the themes of the series (Basically, not being what your parents want you to be: namely evil and friends becoming a surrogate family.) as well as the process from going from a comic worked on by 3 or 4 people to a big animation project. McGinty talked about how working on licensed properties like Bravest Warriors or Adventure Time, helped him build an audience for a creator owned comic.

The Action Lab panel was pretty small and featured Action Lab publisher Bryan Seaton, writer Bob Frantz (Monty the Dinosaur), and artist/animator Sam Ellis (Archer, Bravest Warriors). Ellis is also the head of Action Lab’s relatively new animation division. Seaton laid out some of Action Lab’s summer releases, including the comics version of Nickelodeon’s Miraculous Ladybug, which is the number 1 show in France, the UK, and South Korea, and the number 3 show in the United States. Action Lab also has the license for the Miraculous Ladybug card games, which was designed by Ellis. Other comics coming up include Franco’s (Itty Bitty HellboySpot on Adventure, Sam Ellis’ Monster Dojo, and the comics adaptation of Peter David’s novel Artful, one of his rare non-Marvel comics. After announcements, Seaton, Frantz, and Ellis gave very in-depth answers to questions about the comics submission process, especially matching your comic to the company you’re pitching to. They also talked about Action Lab’s innovation in all ages comic starting with the critical acclaim of Princeless, and Seaton promised that there were more volumes of Fight Like A Girl, their mythical fight comic featuring a black teenage girl as a protagonist, coming down the line.


The Punisher panel

On Sunday, I went to a couple panels in the big panel room. The first one was about the Punisher and featured Gerry Conway and Mike Zeck. It was pretty well-attended probably due to the fantastic reception Jon Bernthal got for his performance as the character in Daredevil Season 2. Conway talked about how the Punisher was originally intended to be a one issue villain while he set up a larger storyline featuring the Jackal and Gwen Stacy in the first “Clone Saga”. The character was rooted in the 1970s when law and order was hard to come by in New York City, and the idea of vigilantism didn’t seem so bad in the wake of the real life actions of Bernard Goetz as well as the films Death Wish and Dirty Harry and Don Pendleton’s Executioner novels. Conway gave the Punisher a moral code to make him a more balanced character, and this led to him becoming a fan favorite character, who featured in Marvel’s black and white adult comics line and eventually had a miniseries and two ongoing series. Conway summed up the essence of the Punisher by saying he was a “Rorschach test for writers and artists”, who wanted to deal with the problems of their era. He said he liked a variety of takes on the Punisher from Garth Ennis’ realism in Punisher MAX to the more over the top violence of Steven Grant and Mike Zeck’s Punisher miniseries and graphic novel.


Both Conway and Zeck said that Jon Bernthal’s Punisher was their favorite on-screen version of the character and although Bernthal is a short actor, he brings presence to the role. Conway said that if they made a Punisher film in the 1970s when the character was first created that he would have cast “tough guy” actors, like Soylent Green-era Charlton Heston, Clint Eastwood, and of course, Death Wish‘s own Charles Bronson. On the artistic side, Zeck talked about his own design for the Punisher in the 1980s and said that he wanted to make him truly look like a killer while taking inspiration from Joe Kubert’s WWI and WWII-era German anti-hero Enemy Ace. Zeck also said that the Punisher was ripe to become a breakout character in the 1980s with the popularity of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone’s ultraviolent action films.

Conway and Zeck also talked a little about other characters they have worked on in response to fan questions with Zeck saying his dream character to work on for Marvel was Captain America, and he was happy that the character had a main role in the original Secret Wars. Conway said he was a big fan of Spider-Gwen and was glad he got the opportunity to write a story featuring her in Spider-Verse Team-Up saying that her new role as a superhero was much more fleshed out than the “nice girl” that she was back in Amazing Spider-Man in the 1960s and 1970s. He talked about enjoying the creative freedom of writing B and C list characters, like his current work on Marvel’s Carnage. Gerry Conway and Mike Zeck provided some great insights into these iconic characters drawing on their decades of work in the industry. (Conway sold his first story to DC Comics as a 16 year old!)


Brian O’Halloran did want to be here at the Clerks panel.

The final panel I went to was a Q and A with Brian O’Halloran and Marilyn Ghigliotti. O’Halloran played Dante in the cult comedy Clerks, directed by Kevin Smith, and has played various Hicks family members in virtually every Kevin Smith film set in his cinematic universe, the View Askewniverse. Ghigliotti played Dante’s girlfriend Veronica in Clerks (Of the “37 dicks” and lasagna fame) and now works in the film industry as a makeup artist. She will be reprising the role of Veronica in the upcoming Clerks III film. O’Halloran and Ghigliotti told wildly hilarious stories about working on Kevin Smith’s films and meeting various celebrities, like Mark Hamill, George Carlin, and Alan Rickman, who gave O’Halloran some advice when he flubbed a line in Dogma. O’Halloran showed up off his Dante-esque nerd cred and gave his opinion on Star Wars: The Force Awakens, including roasting the Starkiller base while saying that Lord of the Rings and Star Wars are equally good trilogies in a riff off some dialogue from Clerks II. Brian O’Halloran is a naturally funny person, and it was easy to see from his personality why he is such a good fit for Kevin Smith’s style of writing and filmmaking. The crowd was very animated, and it showed how Smith’s films and his down to Earth, slightly nerdy protagonists have resonated with fans even 22 years after Clerks was released.

Tidewater Comicon was a nice, relaxing convention that covered a wide gamut of fandom from anime voice actors to cult comedy actors, big time Marvel and DC artists, and indie comics darlings. One slight critique was that exhibitors mostly sold single issues and not trade paperbacks, but Tidewater Comicon is a great palate cleanser after going to huge, crowded shows like New York Comic Con.

Be on the look out for my upcoming articles about Tidewater Comicon cosplayers and interviews with comics creators Tini Howard (Skeptics) and Ian McGinty (Welcome to Showside).