Apr 282013
 
Burt Ward at C2E2 2013

Burt Ward, at the 60s Batman TV show panel.

I’ve finished attending yet another C2E2 comic-con in Chicago. Here’s a summary of my experiences at this year’s show:

The line this year to get in was long as usual. For some reason, I didn’t see a ton of costumes while in line, though two guys near me were dressed as (in their words) “Batman cosplaying as Superman” and “Spider-Man cosplaying as Captain America.” The Batman/Superman guy had apparently heard of the Composite Superman when I mentioned to him that minor villain.

Of course, once in the show there were a lot more costumes; among the others:

  • The X-Men
  • Quail-Man (from the 90s Nickelodeon cartoon “Doug”)
  • A headless woman in a wedding dress (complete with fake blood)
  • Some warriors in costumes made entirely out of old beer cans and beer carton boxes
  • Captain Marvel (the Marvel/Carol Danvers version)
  • The Scarlet Witch
  • Starro
  • Captain Marvel (the “real” one, though given DC’s current treatment of “Shazam,” I’d argue otherwise…)
  • Black Adam
  • Captain America
  • Aquaman
  • Cable
  • Iron Fist
  • Green Arrow
  • Superman
  • The main cast of the TV “Young Justice” cartoon
  • A man dressed as Black Canary
  • Jesus Christ (two of them!)
  • Multiple people dressed as the Doctor from Doctor Who, including the modern version of the Doctor (lots of bow ties at the show), as well as the Fifth Doctor (whose actor was appearing at C2E2).

The only panel I really got to attend was seeing part of the 60s Batman TV show panel. Burt Ward and Julie Newmar were there, describing their experiences on the show to the audience. However, Adam West due to an injury wasn’t able to attend. I also tried to go to the Marvel panel, but I got turned away; the panel room was completely full. So full they also had to turn away others that were still waiting in line…

While I didn’t get to see Svengoolie, I did get to see some writers/artists in Artists’ Alley. I spoke with Thom Zahler (of “Love and Capes“), who I asked a few questions about his most recent trade paperback, “What to Expect.” While I’m not a “brony,” I also asked a few questions about his work on the current “My Little Pony” comic. I also congratulated him on his recent engagement announcement.

Another artist I got to see was Joe Staton, a long-time artist who drew one of my favorite superhero stories, the origin of the Justice Society in 1977′s “DC Special” #29. However, I left my copy of such at home, so instead I bought from him a recent Archie trade paperback that he’d drawn (which he also signed).

I also met Yale Stewart, the writer/artist of the webcomic “JL8,” about the Justice Leaguers as grade-schoolers. I asked him about the name change for his strip; originally it was called “Little League,” but changed due to the baseball organization’s protesting.

Finally, I bought the usual comic-con knick-knacks, including a bobblehead of Darth Vader. I did buy some comics as well, including: the first black-and-white reprint volume of the “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” manga run;  a few issues of “Aw Yeah” comics (an independent effort from the creators of “Tiny Titans”); and a volume of the indie series “Princeless” (praised on the blog Comics Worth Reading). However, I haven’t bought as big a pile of comics as usual. Reasons why include: having filled in many of my desired back issues or not finding what I wanted; a switch to buying mostly digital comics; and that C2E2 for some reason seems to have way fewer DC trade paperbacks for sale versus Marvel material.

Speaking of DC/Marvel, DC didn’t have a booth at this year’s show, for unexplained reasons (DC apparently refuses to state why). I’ve seen some suggest the cost of renting floor space at McCormick Place as why the no-show. (Bleeding Cool suggests a lack of a booth might also be to either save on set-up and take-down costs or to avoid people asking too many questions about DC’s embarrassing spate of recent decisions.) However, if said rumors are true, it’d sound quite odd for one of the two dominant comic companies to skip one of the midwest’s biggest comic-cons. DC did still hold panels at least, but that’s not fully the same as actual floor space, which Marvel’s booth took up plenty of (and prominently featured near the entrance). Since marketing’s a reason for comic creators appearing at comic-cons, and since DC supposedly wants to promote the “New 52″ and all its current New 52-ness (Superman/Wonder Woman pairings, Clark Kent “fighting the power” as a blogger, and all), not having a floor booth at a major midwestern show sounds odd from a marketing standpoint. With a major Superman movie due out in a few months that parent company Time-Warner’s hanging all its future movie hopes on, I’m not sure any cost-savings (even at McCormick Place prices) is worthwhile. Meanwhile, Marvel definitely hyped up “Iron Man 3″ at its booth, and even offered promotional material tying into “Guardians of the Galaxy,” which isn’t due until 2015.

However, given my dislike of the “New 52,” I guess I can’t say I’m too disappointed. Despite being a fan of DC’s characters, most of what I was interested in at this year’s show were from smaller-press companies, Marvel, or independents…

Overall, I had fun at this year’s show, even if I only went down for one day. Staying overnight in Chicago instead of going straight back to Milwaukee, however, lessened feeling “rushed” like I did last year.

Finally, here’s the photos I took of this year’s show:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mechanikat/sets/72157633373465090/with/8690559456/

Mar 052013
 

As those of you who’ve followed me on Twitter might recall, I’ve won a Twitter contest held by “Love and Capes” cartoonist Thom Zahler. The prize? A free T-shirt featuring the comic’s stars, plus a drawing of one of the characters (Mark as the Crusader)! Thanks, Mr. Zahler…

Here’s a shot of each:

Despite having bought plenty of comics, this is the first comic artwork I’ve ever owned. I might consider obtaining more in the future; my current apartment decor could use the improvement.

Feb 142012
 

For the updated version of this post, see here.

Once again, it’s Valentine’s Day.

On topic for the blog, I don’t have much to delve into, but I’ll give it a go:

Animated specials

Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown

There’s no one “definitive” Valentine’s Day special, but an entertaining one is “Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown,” the 1975 “Peanuts” special about how Valentine’s Day equals (in true “Peanuts” fashion) unrequited love for everyone in the cast.

On TV: ABC since the early 2000s has rerun this special each year, usually paired up with a more recent Valentine’s Day special to fill out an hour, 2002′s “A Charlie Brown Valentine.”

On DVD: This special’s on several DVD releases, including a stand-alone release (coupled with late 60s special “You’re In Love, Charlie Brown” and 70s special “It’s Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown”) and on the “Peanuts: 1970s Collection, Volume 2″ DVD set. For the former, you’ll be getting two strong specials and one weak one (“It’s Your First Kiss”), while the latter includes “It’s Your First Kiss” and several other specials typical of the mid-to-late 70s run.

Here Comes Peter Cottontail

I wrote about this one in a 2008 Valentine’s Day post. While an Easter special, this Rankin-Bass classic involves time-travel to other holidays, including a scene (and song number) set on Valentine’s Day. I appreciate that Rankin-Bass remembered that February 14 is very much cold weather (snow, etc.) in a good chunk of the country, versus most media (probably a result of Hollywood’s southern California influence) treating it like it’s a warm spring day.

The Simpsons

(Update: 2/14/13) Yes, I should’ve included this one a long time ago. The fourth season episode “I Love Lisa” centers around Valentine’s Day, Simpsons-style, from KBBL playing “Monster Mash” by mistake to Bart triggering a Valentine’s-themed Vietnam flashback for Principal Skinner (“cool, I broke his brain!”). For good measure, we also get President’s Day (and another playing of “Monster Mash” by KBBL… “doggone it!”). And of course, probably the best episode featuring Ralph Wiggum, who has a crush on Lisa after she’s the only one in the class to give him a valentine out of pity.

Comics

Love and Capes” creator Thom Zahler has a special mini-comic available as a downloadable PDF for free for this year’s Valentine’s Day. (Update (2/13/13): no free comic at the link, but a nice 2012 interview with Zahler anyway.)

Technology

Google has a special “Google Doodle” for today that’s a cute animated short (with or without Tony Bennett’s music). It also manages to be gay-inclusive (as part of a brief montage).

Jul 072011
 

TDarkbladehis week’s entry comes from the world of independent comics, though still involves the superhero genre. Darkblade (real name: Paul LaCroix) is an African-American superhero who appears in Thom Zahler’s “Love and Capes,” a “romantic comedy”-styled superhero series. Darkblade first appeared in “Love and Capes” #1. (Some SPOILERS below…)

Darkblade acts as the series’ Batman-analogue, occupying the same non-superpowered-but-highly-skilled “creature of the night” niche that Bats does. Also like Batman, Darkblade’s alter-ego is a millionaire playboy/corporate executive named Paul LeCroix. Similar to Batman and Superman’s friendship, Paul’s best friend is Mark, a.k.a. “the Crusader,” the series’ Superman-analogue. Paul’s also friends with Abby’s younger sister (and Mark’s sister-in-law) Charlotte.

Over the course of the original series, as well as in the recent “Love and Capes: Ever After” miniseries, we learn more about Paul’s past. Paul apparently once had a Tony Stark-like out-of-control playboy nature, prompting his father to have Paul kidnapped by warrior monks (yep, you read that correctly) and put through training/reform, causing some consternation between the two. Paul’s also apparently a legacy hero, as he’s not the first Darkblade.

Paul shares the same dedication to superheroics as his friend Mark; he also has a sarcastic sense of humor. Paul’s moneyed background also seems to influence some of  his actions and views, such as giving Mark and Abby an “inexpensive” housewarming present of a fancy home entertainment system.

Darkblade, along with the Crusader, is a member of the “Liberty League” (read: Justice League of America) alongside Amazonia. Amazonia is the series’ Wonder Woman stand-in and former girlfriend of Mark. Later in the series’ run, Amazonia begins to date Darkblade, leading to some humorous (and character developing) moments for both.

While the recent miniseries has ended, I’ll assume we’ve not seen the last of Darkblade (nor his friends Mark and Abby).

Jun 262011
 

Love and Capes: Ever After #5Love and Capes: Ever After #4Love and Capes: Ever After #4, #5

Written by: Thom Zahler
Art by: Thom Zahler

Yes, I’m a bit late reviewing this one versus the first three installments, but better late than never (yes, SPOILERS)…

These two issues wrap up the miniseries (and, for now, this cast of characters) in the same enjoyable manner as the other books. Issue #4 sees two stressful moments for our heroes: Amazonia meeting Darkblade’s parents, and Mark and Abby dealing with tax time. We get to see more characterization and backstory given for Paul, who apparently behaved more like Tony Stark than Bruce Wayne in his youth (plus his father’s way of resolving such being a plot point). Mark, meanwhile, is particularly stressed out by tax time this year, which cues some amusing moments, most of them involving the upsides and downsides of super-speed.

Issue #5, although it has some comedic moments, is much more serious in tone, as the cast deals with the death of a fellow hero, Windstar. The usual cliches about superhero deaths are addressed (such as a scene where the heroes examine Windstar’s body to ensure he’s not a robot, clone, alternate-universe counterpart, etc.). In a change from the previous issues’ focus on Darkblade, Windstar gets more focus, as we learn about his background and family, both in the present and through flashbacks. Other characters get some focus as well, as we see Charlotte’s graduation from art school and Jason’s plans to make a student film. Finally, the story ends with Mark and Abby in a surprising (but for these two, logical) development.

And that’s all for now. When I talked to Mr. Zahler at his booth at this year’s C2E2, he noted he was working on ideas for a possible new series. I look forward to seeing what he comes up with…

Apr 112011
 

Love and Capes: Ever After #3Love and Capes: Ever After #3 (of 5)

Written by: Thom Zahler
Art by: Thom Zahler

In the third installment of this five-issue miniseries, we see Abby and Mark attend Abby’s high school reunion. Meanwhile, Amazonia, Darkblade and Charlotte all reconcile their current (and former) relationship and friendship statuses with each other.

Another enjoyable issue. Like the previous issue, this issue contains more development of Darkblade’s background, including a few revelations about his past (apparently he was more Tony Stark than Bruce Wayne). I also thought it was amusing to see what “housewarming gifts” Darkblade and Amazonia gave Mark and Abby.

Yes, the two main stars of the book got their moments as well… “life-affirming epiphany,” heh. (Between that and the 90s references, I assume Abby’s 28 or 33?). I might’ve related more to a few of the high school reunion moments if I’d ever been to one (my high school class hasn’t held one yet, as far as I know of), or if I had more about high school to be nostalgic about…

Finally, I wonder if what’s written on Mark’s t-shirt (“Martini Ranch”?) is a reference to something in particular?

Mar 282011
 

Love and Capes: Ever After #2Love and Capes: Ever After #2

Written by: Thom Zahler
Art by: Thom Zahler

The second issue of the five-part miniseries focuses on the happy couple (Mark and Abby) and their parents, as the two sets of parents pay their respective offspring a simultaneous visit. Mark and Abby also ponder whether (and how) to tell Abby’s parents about his alter-ego. All this, plus fun with temporal hijinks!

Another fun issue. Favorite parts: the cover (reminiscent of a Silver Age Lois Lane or Flash cover); the “grim visage” bit; the time hijinks (from the ages mentioned, I gather Mark’s around 30-32?); and, of course, the “reveal” aspects.

Mark’s fellow hero, Windstar, makes another appearance. I wonder if he’s supposed to be an analogue of Booster Gold (minus the Daffy Duck-sized ego)? Also of note: apparently on “Earth-Love and Capes,” LeBron James never left Cleveland for Miami, judging from the opening artwork…

I bought this issue at C2E2, and was pleased to get to meet Mr. Zahler, who autographed the copy for me. (There’s also available a variant cover version that I didn’t see/buy…).

Feb 142011
 

Love and Capes: Ever After #1Love and Capes: Ever After #1 (of 5)

Written by: Thom Zahler
Art by: Thom Zahler

Picking up from where the original “Love and Capes” series left off is this five-issue miniseries, focusing on newlywed couple (and series stars) Mark and Abby.

This particular issue focuses on two subplots: the couple going apartment-hunting and their first dinner with new couple Darkblade and Amazonia (the comic’s Batman and Wonder Woman pastiches).

I enjoyed seeing this issue reveal more about Darkblade’s background, including some details that set him apart from his inspiration (such as being a legacy hero within their universe). The tour of stately, erm, LaCroix manor was also fun (I take it Paul isn’t a Pistons fan!). Also nice to see Amazonia trying to grow as a person, though I suppose she’ll always be “Veronica” to Abby’s “Betty.” (Hmm, “Abby and Amazonia Double Digest”? Nah…)

As for the apartment hunting, there’s *one* creative use for x-ray vision, albeit a gross one. On a related note, given the propensity of cameras these days (and that they’re *everywhere*, including in my smartphone), I’d imagine being a city-dwelling superhero in the 2010s is much more difficult privacy-wise, even with super-speed.

I look forward to reading the next issue, and seeing if we’ll get to see what’s hinted at early in this issue.

Jan 192011
 

Love and Capes: Ever After #5Thom Zahler’s “superhero romantic comedy” series “Love and Capes” is returning in February (in time for Valentine’s Day) for a five-issue miniseries entitled “Love and Capes: Ever After.” The miniseries picks up where the previous comic series left off, focusing on the married life of newlywed couple Mark and Abby. Zahler was recently interviewed by Comic Book Resources on the new miniseries:

http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=30406

I enjoyed reading the original series, even though my local shop didn’t carry it. (That might change for this new miniseries, with the change in publishers to IDW). After getting various Free Comic Book Day issues, I finally got to buy the rest of the run at last year’s C2E2 in Chicago, where I also had the privilege of meeting Mr. Zahler himself (who also autographed the issues for me).

The description of the upcoming miniseries sounds amusing, especially the take-off on Red Kryptonite. The cover pictured here (one of the miniseries issues’ covers) also is funny. I wonder if it’s intentionally meant to be a take-off on “Action Comics” #97 from 1946 (a Golden Age cover I saw once featuring Superman also begrudgingly using his flying power to help someone perform a “magic” levitation act). Obscure reference, I know (though Hocus and Pocus were used again recently after being dormant since the Golden Age, in an issue of the Johnny DC “Super Friends” of all places).

Nov 172010
 

Love and Capes #7 coverComing in February is the first issue of the five-part “Love and Capes” miniseries, released by its new publisher, IDW.

Love and Capes” is a comic by Thom Zahler about the life, romantic and otherwise, of a couple named Mark and Abby. However, Mark happens to also be the world’s greatest superhero, the Crusader (a Superman-like hero). Other characters round out the series, including the Crusader’s best friend, Darkblade (a Batman-like hero, if Batman were African-American), Abby’s sister (who helps run Abby’s bookstore), Mark’s ex-girlfriend Amazonia (a Wonder Woman analogue), and so on. The comic is quite fun, full of humor as well as sentimental moments between the happy couple. And yes, they are a happy couple; no “I’m breaking up with you” DC or Marvel style melodramatics here. The art is also bright and colorful looking, conveying the series’ tone well. The series progresses over the dating life of Mark and Abby, from being boyfriend and girlfriend to getting engaged to finally getting married, with Abby adjusting to Mark’s superhero life, and all the pros and cons that brings. I liked the “pro” of Abby being able to get (via Mark’s super-speed) In and Out burgers at any time, despite the characters living in the midwest (a fictional city in Ohio).

I was pleased to get to meet Mr. Zahler at his table at the first C2E2 (Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo) in April. He also offered to autograph some of the back issues I bought at his table. (My comic shop doesn’t seem to carry “Love and Capes.”)

12 of the first 13 issues have been collected in two trade paperbacks, both of which are on sale at Amazon.com: