Tag Archives: Leonardo

TMNT #9 – Review!

3 May

It goes without saying that I have been VERY critical of IDW’s new TMNT series.  The series presents a take on the TMNT with some new elements, but a foundation that I find built out of the 80s/90s cartoon.  Nothing terrible, but nothing particularly great.

Last issue began a step in the right direction with a more action oriented plot.  This issue, surprisingly, continues the step in the right direction.

The writing by Tom Waltz isn’t actually that bad considering the cookie cutter approach to many of the characters.  His writing, since the start of the series and a couple of issues ago has gained some footing, and I feel like he’s a bit more comfortable with the characters.  The plotting is tight, and we get more rounded depictions of some of the secondary characters.  In addition, there is progress in developing the turtles.  Leonardo is at full force sometimes outshining the other turtles, but, for someone who’s favorite character in all of comics is Leonardo, I don’t have much of a problem with that.  Though, more screen time for Mikey would have been nice even though he’s my least favorite turtle.

The art by Dan Duncan has increasingly gotten better since the first couple of issues.  He takes more risks now and they pay off.  Still, there’s occasionally a complete lack of detail in many of the frames.  This is understandable when the scene is focused on action, but some of the establishing shots could benefit from a few added additions.  Take for instance the scene where Old Hob interrogates Splinter.  Basically, there’s floor, bars for the cage, a computer and desks, with three characters in the panel.  There is so much open space in the panel that the layout of the place wouldn’t really make sense.  The coloring becomes more vibrant halfway through the issue which is slightly distracting and took me out of the story for a bit.

The final splash page reveal is a given considering where this series has been going.  A major character appears with a pretty good redesigned outfit, but, more importantly, one of my favorite female characters of all time is introduced the page before.  This made me incredibly excited.  I’m more interested in her development than the big reveal.  If her story arc is anything like the Mirage series or even the 2k3 cartoon, I will be ecstatic.

Overall, the series is picking up pace.  I’m looking forward to where it goes, and this is a major turn around from 2 issues ago.

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ECCC 2012 part 1!

4 Apr

For the fourth time in four years, I dove headfirst into the great depths of pop culture fandom by attending Emerald City Comic Con.  This year, I had my sister (for the third year), Brendan (first year), Derek (first year), and Michael (first year) to join me in this strange journey.  We separated ourselves into two groups.  Michael and Derek went to panels all day while Lillian and I met creators and got free sketches all day.  Brendan was the wild card – he could be found with the show room floor crew or the panels crew or just off in his own world perusing the vestiges of glory along the aisles.

I’ll give you my first impressions of the show before going into the finer details.  Let me also get some stuff off my chest.

First off, the show was waaayyyyy busier this year.  There were way more people, and I’m under the impression that all of this congestion caused some people to not be as nice.  It still was pretty friendly, but it could be a bit too much.  Waiting in line to meet people also seemed to last a long time.  Other things?  There were a shitload of The Doctor cosplayers (from Doctor Who, silly).  To counter this, there were a shitload of Adventure Time cosplayers.  Seriously, these two groups comprised about 60% of the cosplayers which is A LOT.

Other sidenote: All of the creators were fascinated at me spelling my name E-L-L-I-O-T-T.  I’d be like “Can you personalize it to me?  My name’s Elliott, double ‘l’ double ‘t'”.  Most of them thought it was cool some called it a lot of vertical lines and many gave a great philosophic interpretation of my name’s spelling.

Here’s the thing I need to get off my chest: It’s really frustrating when certain creators have limited hours in which they’ll meet and greet/sign your stuff.  Particularly, I’m looking at the Image/Skybound crew and Bryan Lee O’Malley.  However, other people were not immune.  I went multiple times to see if I could find Brian Wood, Mike Allred, and Ed Brubaker.  Ed’s forgiven because he had three panels and a crazy long line the whole day.  But, Mike actually had his booth taken over by Matt Wagner’s son.  Brian Wood had a sign up for about three hours that said he was at a panel.  Apparently, he was there in the morning, but I didn’t have my second backpack of stuff with his comics in them at that time.  Anyway, I think that having these famous creators (Robert Kirkman) only sign for a grand two hours in a day is ridiculous.  Kirkman and many of the Image group also required you to get (free) tickets to see them.  Here’s how I figure it: creators need +1-2 hours for panels, +1 hour for interviews, +1 hour for lunch, and +1 hour for travelling and breaks (you could add even another hour for meeting with friends even though this usually happens at a bar afterward).  If Saturday is a 9 hour day, that leaves you with 4 hours to sign and meet fans.  I’m being VERY generous here.  There were some artists who were there sketching and drawing for almost 6 nearly straight hours who happen to not be as “big” as those other guys.  It’s even more frustrating to see someone (Kirkman) behind the Image booth just texting (or tweeting, I don’t know).

This is a problem for a casual fan like me who used just the ECCC site to plan out my day.  I did not investigate these certain creators to see when their signing times were on their websites.  So, it’s partly my fault.  I just thought they’d make themselves more available…

Okay, let’s get into the show in relatively chronicle order!

Click the “Read More” and prepare yourself for the greatest and longest visual assault on your reading eyes.  Pictures!  Funny stories!  Great people!  Great art! This post is totally taking me 3+ hours…

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My Secret: How Friends, Family, and Comics Helped Save My Life

15 Feb

I have spent a great deal of time pondering how to write this post about my suicide attempt for the last couple of years.  It’s something that has hit many false starts and I’ve never really known how to completely write about something so stark.

So, I’m going to take a stab at it now because I know I can make a bigger difference talking about it rather than holding it in.

Frank Warren of Post Secret

This confession spawns out of my great unveiling tonight at the open mic during the Post Secret talk Frank Warren did at my school.  Post Secret is a community art project where people submit post cards to Frank and he posts them up on his blog for everyone to view.  The secrets can be funny, touching, sexual, and sometimes a little frightening.  During the whole presentation I was dreading the open mic.  I knew that I had to let my secret out, and I figured it would be a perfect audience to do it in.

Unfortunately, before my great unveiling, Frank decided to talk to the person before me across the room (there were two mics) about how many people fake talking on their cell phones in order to avoid talking to someone they pass while walking.  Naturally, my heart was beating rapidly and I’m a decent public speaker… Finally, he turns to me and I look behind me realizing that “Goddammit, I’m the last one.”  So, in a slight stutter and getting increasingly quieter, I said something along the lines of, “Most people don’t realize this, but part of the reason I love comic books so much is because they, with the help of friends and family, helped me get through my suicide attempt.”  At this point I was BUZZING.  So, I quickly scurried off to my seat during the clapping.  After the clapping settled down, Frank called out to me, “What’s your favorite character from comics?” to which I replied, “Leonardo from the Ninja Turtles!”  This got a laugh and a smile from most of the audience as I sat shaking from the cold and the nerves.  Frank said he was a fan of the Silver Surfer and The Watcher.

Leonardo Training

What happened two years ago was this: I had just gotten out of a really bad relationship where the person had their own psychological issues, and I was taking care of them all of the time rather than focusing on myself.  Spinning out of this, I got increasingly more desperate for physical contact and care from someone.  So, I pursued some people and made bad decisions to which I apologize for.  Everything from the disappointment to my frantic state to my dwindling number of friends I could talk to led me to make the decision to kill myself.

I have to say that this was not premeditated.  In fact, I came up with the idea on the spot.  My friend Michaela and I were watching my favorite movie “Me And You And Everyone We Know,” and I realized that I may never have that perfect of love.  I began to have a panic attack and decided to kill myself in order to stop the panic attack.  First, I was barely rational and attempted to knock myself out before I could do anything too drastic.  After that didn’t work, I tried to strangle myself with a rope.  Luckily, Michaela was there with me the whole way and I warned her beforehand to get everything that could hurt me as far away from me as possible.

Michaela and I preparing for a Lady Gaga party… even though I had never heard any of her songs

I ended up passing out from exhaustion, and, to be honest, I don’t remember much of the night.  I remember trying to get the girl I had a crush on at the time to come over (which she did, and once again I apologize for) because I was too embarrassed to get my sister.  My sister did come, but I don’t really remember that.  The next thing I can remember is waking up next to my Mom.  She had flown that night to get to me and help me.  Though, this still feels like a dream.

My Mom and Dad playing around

The next week is mostly a blur of appointments, missing school, and recovery.  I was not just emotionally exhausted but emotionally dead inside.  I had expelled all of that pent up emotion in 5 hours.  I remember one of my professors reassuring me by saying something along the lines that I was one of the brightest students she’s had in a long time, and I still remember that.  I remember all of the love.  I remember giving my Dad the worst birthday ever.  But, I remember Michaela, my sister, and my parents being there for me.  They didn’t know how to react, but they were there – that was the best part.

My Sister, fellow co-blogger Lillian

Turns out that I’m bipolar, where I get all of the lows and mids but not the highs (most of the time).  Also, this was so severe that it was causing hallucinations.  To the point that I couldn’t trust my own senses: I’d see cars and birds that weren’t there and hear noises with no source (no voices, though).  Since then, I’ve been well-medicated with few bumps in the road.

Here’s the thing about comics: they played an integral part in my recovery process.  Not only were they this form of entering myself into these stories, they had characters I looked up to.  Leonardo from the TMNT being key among them.

Me and my Leonardo commission from Jim Lawson

Leonardo represents leadership, perseverance, trust, respect, honor, and compassion.  Leonardo cares about his brothers and I felt and still feel that I could just as easily be one of his brothers even if I didn’t have the whole ninja training.  He’s a phenomenal character with a great mythos (at least from Mirage).  I can’t really quite summarize how much he means to me or what’s so special about him when it’s incredibly obvious to me.  I mean, Leo’s Leo.  He’s strong even in the most dire situations and he overcomes all obstacles.  This is a character who’s true love was killed and he went and meditated for 50 years.  Leonardo helped get me through the aftermath of my suicide attempt, and that’s why I have collected a Leonardo piece of artwork from all of the primary Mirage artists.  That is why I get a Ninja Turtle (preferably Leonardo, but they’re budgeted for time) sketch from anyone I can at conventions.  (You can view my art gallery here (which still needs some more stuff added)).  Leonardo and the turtles mean a lot to me.  Sure, Batman, Greg Rucka’s work (like Batwoman), Lucy Knisley, and some other artists and characters helped me along the way, but Leonardo was there the whole time.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say Leonardo and the TMNT saved my life, but they sure made it a hell of a lot better following the fallout of my suicide attempt.

Part of my passion for comics comes out of what they helped do for me.  I feel indebted to them.  That’s also why I want to make them better.  I write posts like the one on J. Scott Campbell because I want comics to learn to better represent women, people of color, and other groups.  They helped me, now I can help them.

The mixture of family, friends, and comics helped me get over a very difficult period in my life.  I am eternally grateful for this, and now I’m not as afraid to tell people if they ask that, yes, I have tried, and yes, this life is worth living.

If you or anyone else ever needs to talk about depression, mental illness, or anything of the sort, contact a friend, seek professional help, and just know that someone out there truly cares about you even if you’re not so sure.

—————

UPDATE:

Hey, I decided to send the link to this post to the guys at Mirage comics for the TMNT, and they had some really kind words to say.  So, I’d like to share them with you and let people know that other people care even if they don’t know you.  Plus, the creators love to know that they’ve impacted you even in the tiniest way.

From Dan Berger:

I’m very happy that it turned out okay and from the suffering you were able to get a diagnosis that lead to proper medication. I’m also happy that the Mirage comics were able to help you in such a meaningful way. All of us at Mirage found solace in comics, which is why they’re so important to us. It’s stories like yours that makes all the long hours at the drawing board worthwhile.

From Jim Lawson:

I think it’s great that you told your story- Occasionally- not often, but it happens, we’ll hear a story similar to yours. Somehow, these people found a connection with the Turtles that’s helped them through the dark times. It really gives what I do (or did) meaning, other than just drawing pictures. There exists something between the Turtles and many of their fans that seems pretty special. It’s cool. So thanks- people like you keep me goin’

Leonardo Commission

6 Nov

I couldn’t remember if I posted this from before.  Nevertheless, it is so good it warrants being posted twice.  Here’s my Leonardo Commission by Jim Lawson.  He recreated my favorite frames in all of comics that takes place during the Mirage Vol. 1 story Return to New York.  Enjoy!

Emerald City Comic Con 2011

14 Mar

A cute kitty to start off the post!

Last weekend, thousands of people amassed in order to celebrate all things geeky at the Seattle convention center.  Naturally, I was there.  And, also naturally, I had a giant backpack full of things itching to get signed.  I had a single goal: to get everything signed and personalized to me.  Now, this of course meant that Lillian and I were at ComicCon for a giant 8 hours, but, you know, oh well.  So, I present to you, a graphic history of the day in chronological order with some commentary intermixed. By the by, if you want to see any of the pictures close up (like the art), just right click and choose “view image.”

Skottie Young

Going in, I knew I wanted to get a sketch by Skottie Young of Leonardo the Ninja Turtle because he’s my favorite character in all of comics and Skottie’s artwork is so idiosyncratic and imaginative.  His work on the Wizard of Oz series is so crazy good and his art really has its own little corner of the world staked out.  So here’s the commission he did:

I particularly enjoy that it’s a skinny Leonardo (gives me hope) and the sewer grate adds so much extra depth to the image.  Skottie was also pretty cool always referring me to as “dude” or “man” or something.  He was genuinely excited about everything.

Sergio Aragonés

I then waited in a very long line to meet Sergio Aragonés, the great MAD Magazine margin sketcher.  He was selling some of his books, but most of them were in Spanish.  Nevertheless, I snagged one of the last ones in English (“Fanboy”) and got it signed by him.  He was a genuinely neat guy who still spent a decent amount of time with me despite the giant line behind me.

Dream of the Endless

While I was standing in line for Kurt Busiek, I spotted Dream of the Endless and had to get a picture with him.  I typically don’t really like to get pictures with Cosplayers for some reason, but this was a damn cool costume.  Apparently Death of the Endless was at the show, too.  Unfortunately I never found her, but it would have been really neat to get a picture with the both of them.

Elliott Brown!

So, I ended up standing behind this girl once in the line for Mark Waid, and then another time for Kurt Busiek.  While I was kidding with Lillian she, at some point, exclaimed my name “Elliott!” and this girl swung her head around and was just like “what?”  Well, it turns out we have the same name!  And not just the same name but spelled, in our opinions, correctly!  We exchanged info, but I never really imagined how hard it would be to find Elliott Brown on Facebook.  So, if you’re out there Elliott, please contact me!  Because, really, we had a damn fun time while we hung out for a gigantic 30 minutes or so.  We actually ended up talking to Chrissie Zullo’s friend for awhile together.

Kurt Busiek

After chatting it up with Elliott for a bit, we both finally got to meet Kurt Busiek and we explained to him that we both recently met another Elliott and – for both of us – it was the first time we met someone with the same spelling.  Kurt was just like “Well, have you read the second issue of Astro City?  There’s an Elliott in there.”  This sort of made me feel really stupid because I’ve only read “Marvels” of his and he published that in the 90s.  I’ve thought about reading Astro City, but I just do not know where to begin.  Oh well.

Cully Hamner

Next up was Cully Hamner who did The Question back-up feature in Detective Comics as it was running the Batwoman feature.  He has this very blocky, strong-lined style that I really enjoy, but I haven’t really had the opportunity to read as much of his work as I would have liked.

Dave Stewart

I was super excited to meet Dave Stewart.  Super Excited.  He’s basically the best colorist in the business where he mixes color palettes and can work in multiple different styles.  He’s phenomenal.  I really wish I could have spent some time talking to him, but I had a schedule.  Hopefully he’ll be there at the Con next year and I can spend some time talking to him because he really did not have that long of a line.  He’s the guy that you go “Oh my god these colors are beautiful!” and you turn to the credits and realize, yet again, it’s Dave Stewart doing them.  Plus, I think I may have been one of the few people to get him to sign “Daytripper” for me.  He also helped me complete my perfect copy of Detective Comics #854 with Batwoman where I got everyone who worked on the art side of the comic (writer, artist, colorist, back up artist) to sign it.

 

Mike Mignola

Mike Mignola would have been great to talk to for a bit longer than I did.  I basically got him to sign my battered copy of the first Hellboy storyline and left.  It was mostly because I felt guilty for that being the only bit of work of his that I had read… (*wince*) However, I did really like it and plan on looking into some more of Hellboy.

 

John Aegard

So, I was just recently thinking about The Comfort Guide when I did a presentation on Airplane Safety Instruction Manuals.  However, I forgot who did them and what they were.  I just remembered the custom one from last ECCC of the proper etiquette to approach Leonard Nimoy.  So, I was glad to find him at the Con and buy some of his stuff.  Plus, Lillian in her Sailor Pluto costume with him is just priceless.

 

Sailor Jupitor and Pluto

Lillian had to go downstairs in order to buy her ticket to get a picture with James Marsters and Nicholas Brendon.  During this, she met another Sailor Scout!  Apparently, there was a handful of them, but by the time Lillian had changed into her outfit for her picture, she was out of costume when we saw all of them together.  Overall, though, it was pretty cool to see a couple other Sailor Scouts.

 

Chrissie Zullo

So, DC was doing something super cool, they were having their artists work at their booth and give out free sketches.  I, of course, had to go straight out and get all of my Leonardo sketches.  So, I felt a little bad to some artists who were totally out of their comfort zones with sketching Leonardo.  One artist, in particular was Chrissie Zullo.  She has done some beautiful art for covers of the spinoff Fables miniseries based around Cinderella.  They’re mostly pixie-esque stunning women.  So, here I am, asking for a Ninja Turtle!  Nevertheless, I had some reference material for the artists to work with, and Chrissie did a pretty good job working with that.  It was pretty impressive how quickly she could mimic the reference art.

 

Pete Woods

Another artist I got a sketch from was Pete Woods who is currently working on Action Comics with Lex Luthor.  To be honest, I haven’t really checked out much of his work, but I did really enjoy his depiction of Death of the Endless when she met with Lex.  When I whipped out my reference pictures and asked for a Ninja Turtle, the guy in line behind me went “Well done, man, well done!”  Apparently not that many people ask for Ninja Turtles (Smiley faced emoticon)!  I noticed while watching Woods draw was that he was mostly doing side profiles which was pretty interesting.  I’ll show some more sketches I got for free towards the end.

 

Marv Wolfman

Marv Wolfman and Sailor Pluto

We got dual pictures with Marv Wolfman!  I was pretty happy with meeting Marv Wolfman because I got my collected edition of Crisis on Infinite Earths signed (and personalized) as well as each individual issue (which I got all 12 at a garage sale for about $5).  Lillian was also excited because she is a big Teen Titans (primarily Raven) fan.  He also told us that he and artist George Perez are collaborating yet again on a new Teen Titans story that sounds pretty badass!

 

Steve Lieber

I was pretty pleased with meeting Steve Lieber.  While he was signing my copies of Whiteout, I explained to him that I read both of them while I was in Mexico which was a funny place to read books that take place in Antarctica.  I then told him that I showed my Grandma (and then my mother later on) his art because it was so beautiful and rugged.  It’s the type of art that has care in the chaos.  Fantastic.

 

Fab Batman and Robin!

Blurry Lillian and Sauron

Frank Quitely

So, I was actually surprised how easy it was to meet Frank Quitely.  Mind you, I met him at the DC Booth, but it was a relatively short line.  I really loved his Batman & Robin work as well as All-Star Superman.  Unfortunately, the copy of All-Star Superman I was going to buy at the bookstore was already gone two weeks before the Con.  So, I had to settle with JLA Earth 2 which was sort of his first foray with the DC Characters.  You could kind of see him struggling with drawing them and I didn’t care too much for it.  But, oh well, that’s what I got signed!  Then again, I did get the first three issues of Batman & Robin signed by him!  While we were waiting in line, Dustin Nguyen and this other guy were doing free sketches, but unfortunately they already put a cap on their line so I couldn’t get sketches from them.  Oh, and I could understand Frank’s accent!  It was weird because normally I can’t.

 

Pia Guerra

Next up was Pia Guerra the fantastic artist behind Y: The Last Man (check out my Super HeroiHOT of her character Agent 355).  Unfortunately, a nice little sign of her held some unfortunate circumstances.  Apparently, she had suffered a concussion and could barely speak up at the moment.  Yet, she trooped on.  Because of her concussion, I didn’t have the heart to ask her to sign on the inside of the cover.

 

Greg Rucka

Next up was my favorite writer: Greg Rucka.  Unfortunately, I have only read his independent stuff like Queen & Country and Stumptown as well as his Batwoman work that I was introduced to him by, but I’m planning on reading more of his superhero work.  He’s just a really neat guy with a knack for writing strong female voices which is something the comics industry always needs more of.  I also talked to him about speaking at schools and he said that he would definitely be interested.  I sure hope we can snag him!

 

Mark Waid

Mark Waid was actually the first person I saw at the con, but I forgot to get a picture with him.  I later ran into him while he was meeting up with Greg Rucka and he did this classic handshake pose.  I have got to say this: Mark Waid is one of the nicest guys in the business.  He genuinely cares about what he does and he’s warm and welcoming.  He’s just super friendly and it is really refreshing.  He’s a great writer, but he has not let that gone to his ego (I’m looking at you Geoff Johns).  If you are interested in comics and really want someone great to meet, then that person is Mark Waid.

 

Ryan Ottley

So, there was this massive line for Erik Larsen, and caught in the middle of it was Ryan Ottley.  So, I squeezed my way in between people and got him to sign almost all of the issues of The Viltrumite War for Invincible.  He was pretty cool but seemed a little beat.  I could imagine, it was 5 or 6 when I finally managed to get to him.  I complimented him on the amazing 10 or so dual page spreads in Invincible #75 and told him that I managed to stare at those for an incredibly long time.  I think I made him pretty happy with my compliments.

 

Lillian and Shane from Atomic Comics

Here’s a picture of Lillian with Shane at the Atomic Comics booth.  The best damn comic shop in Tacoma and the best and most friendly comic shop I’ve ever been in!

 

Batman eating a Subway sandwich

Cameron Stewart

Here’s a very energetic Cameron Stewart with me having absolutely no idea of what’s going on behind me.  He did a couple runs on Batman & Robin that were pretty great and I really love his style.  It’s reminiscent of a cleaner version of Frank Quitely but still completely his own.  To tell the truth, I almost liked his run on Batman & Robin more than Frank Quitely, but that’s a close race.

 

Becky from Tiny Kitten Teeth

So, before Lillian and I headed back to the car for her to change out of her Sailor Pluto costume and for me to drop off half of the books I was lugging around and switch off with the other half, I happened to spot someone doing $10 commissions.  Of course, this was a steal!  On top of that, they were insanely adorable commissions.  So, I got Becky from Tiny Kitten Teeth to draw me up a super cute Leonardo while we went and switched out.

 

 

Adorable, right!?

Her partner Frank and I also chatted it up a bit about the TV movie Turtles Forever.  It was pretty rad.  $10 for that thing!?  It was a steal, and I’ll gladly continue supporting them for a long time, it was probably one of the great discoveries at Comic Con.

 

One of the funniest costumes at the con. Beware the Metroid!

Obligatory Darth Vader

Lillian's Pride and Joy

So, one of the primary reasons Lillian came to ECCC was not only to dress up in her costume but to get a $90 picture with James Marsters and Nicholas Brendon otherwise known as Spike and Xander from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  It’s kind of surprising how tall she is in comparison to them!  Well, the last hour of the Con was her getting the picture and waiting for it to be printed, but it was pretty gland.  You have no idea how excited she was after she got the picture, “I GOT TO HUG THEM!” or something of the sort.  Ahh, the world of the celebrity.  It was pretty awesome, all in all.

 

A special treat!

So, at some point during the Con, we managed to spot this treat from far away.  Lillian and I have a huge obsession over Scott Bakula.  His Quantum Leap days were fantastic.  So, imagine our surprise over a parody of Scott Pilgrim with Scott Bakula! Fantastic!

 

Evil Abraham Lincoln

Lillian got this free sketch from these guys dressed in fancy 18th century clothes with wigs!  It was grand.

 

Yanick Paquette's free sketch

This was my first free sketch from Yanick Paquette and his inker (who I did not really catch his name).  Yanick was very excited the whole time talking fast with his Canadian accent.  You could tell he genuinely enjoys drawing.  When I asked for my Turtle sketch he was just like, “you know, in the 17 years that I’ve been drawing, I have never once been asked to draw a Ninja Turtle” which I replied with “At least that makes me memorable!”  His inker also made fun of him for the turtle having a heaving chest with hardly any neck.  They had some pretty funny banter.

 

Jeff Lemire's turtle boy

So, I came to Jeff Lemire (which I was really looking for a copy of Essex County before going to the con but couldn’t find any) who does Sweet Tooth which is a darling yet poignant comic with human/animal hybrids, basically.  So, it would have just been unfair to ask him to draw a Ninja Turtle (even though I still did this with Chrissie Zullo, woops).  So, I asked him to imagine a boy in his world that had the characteristics of a turtle.  So, he came out with this.  Afterward he was just like, “Sorry, it kind of looks like a peanut.” I told him I still really liked it.  It’s pretty adorable in that weird, charming sort of way.

So that concludes our foray into Emerald City Comic Con 2011.  So, let me leave you with some observations:

  1. Out of everyone I saw it was obvious that there was one thing very striking about the situation.  The majority of comic book creators are White youngish to middle-aged men.  I only saw two female creators out of everyone and that was pretty surprising.  There were no black people that I saw (although, one guy was doing free sketches at the DC Booth, but I don’t know who it was) really at all behind the creators tables.  This wasn’t just me choosing to go around and avoid these people: there was a genuine lack of diversity with creators.
  2. I really need to spend some time at the LGBT booths and look at their stuff because I sort of missed out this year.
  3. Next year I also need to support more independent creators rather than just going all out on the big names.  As shown through Becky from Tiny Kitten Teeth, there are some fantastic creators out there that do not have a big name attached to them.
  4. It’s occasionally a little unfair to ask people to draw Ninja Turtles all of the time, but at least I provide references.
  5. The ECCC staff did an excellent job at remaining organized through the massive amounts of people.
  6. There was no big information releases by any of the companies and most of the panels seemed like character worshiping (this is of course through just what I’ve read rather than actual experience since I didn’t go to any panels).
  7. There’s a great potential to bond with people and meet new friends like Elliott (PLEASE CONTACT ME!), and I should come with a plan to meet creators but also keep a loose enough schedule to actually soak in the experience.
  8. I have this problem where I get overwhelmed by too much stimulus.  Comic Cons definitely have too much stimulus, but it’s so much that it’s almost welcoming.
  9. I need to spend more time actually talking to creators and have some questions prepared for them rather than just signing and leaving.  The ones they remember are the ones who care enough about their work in order to talk to them about it.
  10. Everyone there seemed very fun and friendly.

So, I hope you enjoyed living vicariously through Lillian and I, and I really encourage you to check out a Comic Con sometime in your life because they’re really amazing.

The end of an era: Tales of the TMNT #70 Review

9 Jun

My mouth was held agape for the majority of reading this comic.  I wondered how they could somehow end on such a perfect note.  I wondered, how could this be so damn good?

Tales of the TMNT #70 represents one of the most noble and best ways to end a series/possibly even a comic franchise: without doing anything other than producing a book of the highest quality possible.

Now, I’m not going to deny the fact that I’m biased over all things TMNT and that this being the final issue of all comics TMNT (for, at least, a very long time) will affect my review.  But, putting that aside, this is a really great comic.

The book is completely upfront that it’s revisiting events that have already been depicted.  Hell, the first seven pages are recap.  However, this recap is from a completely different perspective and camera angle, and are in the form of flashbacks and other time manipulations perfectly shown with an all black transitioning frame bridging between the past and present.  The recap definitely helps for new readers, and allow this book to be open to anyone interested (although a previous knowledge of the storyline provides many easter eggs).

I went ahead and read this issue, and then went back and read all of Return to New York with this issue fitting in.  I kid you not, but all of the positioning and fighting moves (although some of them are now original or not shown before) are spot on to how they were in the originals!  Plus, this story fills in many gaps.

Hell, with Return to New York being so frantically action-heavy and wonderful, it’s nice to have something that provides more perspective on the comic.

The work Lawson and Talbot put into the artwork and the half-tone/duo-shade is sweepingly magnificent.  Lawson creates one of the most bizarre, imaginative, and beautiful fight sequences I have ever seen involving a single chain and a single, dangling turtle.  Once again, Lawson’s art is extremely detailed while having enough self-awareness on when to focus in on key things.  There are many silent panels, and these always stand out to me as stark, menacing, and add such a creative pacing to the comic.

The writing wins.  The art wins.

The turtles crew ended their (hopefully not but possibly) very last comic on a bang.  I’m so glad I’ve been here to read it.  I’m so glad I got the opportunity to interview Dan and Jim.  I’m so glad to even read some of the best independent work out there.  To me, the Ninja Turtles have never been a gimmick, and I hope that, at some point, other comic readers can recognize the heavily saturated creativity that bubbles out of the Ninja Turtles and their comics.

Tales of the TMNT #70, you really did it for me.  I’m welling up a little now that it’s over.  But, I know I can always revisit my old friends.  Thanks Mirage.

ECCC10 – A Photo Experience

14 Mar

It seems that with any big event, you look back and think, “damn, wish I had taken more photos!”  Unless you’re one of those people that takes 1000 photos per hour…

Anyway, looking back on yesterday at Emerald City Comic Con, it would have been nice to have some photos of the crazy crowd/lines, maybe us heading into Seattle on the bus or getting a Piroshky in Pike Place.  Maybe a couple more pictures of some crazy costumes (although, I actually don’t recall as many people in costume – at least, phenomenal costumes – as last year).  I almost had another disastrous moment as losing my wallet last year when, a couple minutes before the bus picked Lillian and I up, I remembered that I left the ECCC tickets in my other bag (because I was originally going to take my photo bag instead of my backpack).  Luckily, my house was just around the corner.

Not actually my photo, but I figured it would be a good opener.

So, the lines were definitely not as bad this year to get in; I congratulate the ECCC crew on providing a better layout and more organized system of getting people in.  However, I also recognize that Lillian and I came about an hour later than I showed up last year to get in.

After reading Stumptown the night before, I knew I had to get one of the limited edition Stumptown prints from Matthew Southwarth as soon as I got in.  So, that was step number one for my ultimate satisfaction of the day.

I believe mine is 29/100

Last year, I was so overwhelmed with it being basically my first comic con and me losing my wallet earlier in the day that I really just went for the free stuff and wandered around with my head chopped off.  This year, I had a game plan.

So, first off, I spotted the Image booth with Ryan Ottley sitting with only a crowd of a couple people in front.  I moved in and looked at his folder of sketches which were super cheap!  I got one sketch that was him planning out the cover of Invincible #56 with some sketches of the body shape of Allen the Alien.  The other one was this wonderful piece of work which has an old man holding a cane with a mail box on top.  I asked him if it was from anything and he said, “well, my brain.  I was just doodling around and came up with it.”  I also got him to sign the resolution to the controversial issue in which Adam Eve dies (the one where she quickly resurrects #64) with him remarking, “oh, that one was fun!”

My brainstormin page has this in the size of a thumbnail, but is pretty close to the final product

Afterwards, Lillian and I rounded the corner of the same booth to find Kieron Gillen, writer behind Phonogram.  I bought Phonogram: The Singles Club, and he signed it and what not.  He was exceptionally charming.  I thought he had a Scottish accent, but Wikipedia says he’s a Brit.  So, I’m rather confused.  He talked about how the TPB of The Singles Club just came out that day so it was like his newborn baby he had to show off to the world.  As he was signing it, he made sure to get the spelling of my name right, and then he talked about how every publisher he’s worked for has misspelled his name at some point and how it’s really frustrating.  I’m fairly certain I remember calling them bastards or motherfuckers, but Lillian and I were staring dreamily into his eyes and weren’t able to notice.  I’m pretty sure, that, if given the opportunity, Lillian and I would have talked to him all day… preferably at a pool with drinks in hand.

Kieron really didn't look like this when we met him... I think he's trying to look like a super serious artist

After getting the picture I went, “oh fuck!” realizing that I never got a picture with Ryan Ottley.  He seemed a little indifferent to my charms (joking about him having to sit down all day probably wasn’t too wise), but still an all around cool guy.

Holding up the Old Man piece

Lillian and I went over to Atomic Comics booth and said “hi” to my favorite comic providers and talked about how hectic it was.  Lillian and the Woman who works there (I always forget her name) talked about Kieron Gillen and how Lillian did not want him stolen away from her.  The gal said that Lillian having Kieron was okay because “Geoff Johns is mine!”

Walking over to the creator alley, Lillian and I came upon some local and independent comic zines where I bought one of their things.  We also met Daniel M. Davis of Monster Commute who was super neat.  I talked to him about silkscreen, woodblock, and linoleum printing.  We also discussed the time differences between creating something digitally (his favorite would be through vectors which he has been doing for 15 years or so) and then through traditional mediums.  He was super neat and offered for me to hit him up through e-mail to talk about some art more and was interested at looking at some of my stuff.  I really don’t think any of my stuff (even though it’s drastically different) really compares to his, but I definitely appreciate the offer.  Lillian bought a print off of him of Abraham Lincoln as a Frankenstonian monster with “He’s watching You” at the bottom because she doesn’t really like good ol’ Honest Abe too much and thought it was hilarious. Check out Monster Commute!

I kept on getting distracted watching his mustache while talking to him

After finally making it to Artist/Creator Alley, I was about to peruse the booths of creators when a guy walked past us in a bright green costume.  Of course, he didn’t have the hood up over his face, but as he passed I went “wow, that is a bright green man.”  Then, it hit me.  GREEN MAN FROM ALWAYS SUNNY!  I turned around as I told Lillian to get the camera ready and yelled out “Green man!”  He promptly turned around and I went – to make sure – “from Always Sunny, right?”  He replied “yeah” and I asked for a picture.  Then, I promptly texted Monique imagining her seething jealousy (even if it wasn’t Charlie).

I wonder if those would be considered cut off gloves?

As we walked across the back counters, I found Steven T. Seagle.  Now, I’ve only read “It’s a Bird…” but I was blown away by it, and decided I needed a copy since I had only read a library copy.  Walking up to the booth, a guy was getting Steven to sign basically 60 comics.  The fan was really nice and allowed me to butt in to buy a copy of the book.  I mentioned to Mr. Seagle that I had read the comic over the summer and had e-mailed one of my Professors suggesting her to use the book in one of her essays because she studies how disease (particularly incurable) is portrayed in sequential art.  He replied, “well, I’m the guy for that!”  Then, he gave me his card suggesting for me to get my Prof to e-mail him when they were done with the essay because he was interested.  He then signed my book adding in a Superman diamond that had a question mark inside it.  The other fan and I both laughed when he did it, but I realized that that symbol basically summed up the entire meaning of the graphic novel.  It was pretty powerful.

I'm guessing someone said something really funny beforehand because I have a really stupid expression

We then continued down and met some independent publishers such as Erika Moen.  She was really nice and I saw that she did a comic conversation with Lucy Knisley (whom I love the work of and might travel down to Portland for the Stumptown Comics Fest just to meet).  Their art is kinda similar, and I really liked briefly talking to her, but Lillian and I were both already running low on cash.  Lillian almost bought a card that had two anemones fighting and it read “Let’s not be Anemones.”  The guy next to her was exhibiting some photographic nudes with octopus tentacles on their bodies.  It was really, really amazing.  Lillian was about to get one, but decided not to.  If anyone knows who this artist is, please let me know.  I really want to check out his other work.  Okay, I just looked, and Dylan Meconis was next to Erika Moen.  Her work is equally hilarious especially with the french revolutionaries, but I know there was a guy exhibiting between them, and I don’t remember who.  Awww shucks.

AH HA! (this is an update, by the way) I figured out the Octopus Photo mystery! Erika Moen was actually selling them and she’s the nude in the photographs!  Some of the photographs can be found at Visioluxus.

After figuring out the confusing (because you have to look over so many people), yet utterly simple organization of things, we finally located Greg Rucka and Matthew Southwarth who I really wanted to sign my recently purchased Stumptown print.  Well, Rucka was heading to lunch, but I got Matthew to sign it, and he was super friendly.  I didn’t get into any deep conversations with him past the standard “your art and portrayal of women is phenomenal,” but the overall experience was nice.

I'm pretty sure some creators get so tired of taking pictures that they just start making goofy faces

Right next door was J.H. Williams III, and I went over and looked at the art he was exhibiting.  It was phenomenal going through his inked work for Detective Comics/Batwoman and seeing his crazy original layouts in person.  However, I feel like I kinda pissed him off… I was looking at his book he had for sale (I’m pretty sure it was the last one he had) and I couldn’t afford it (with only 28/138 dollars in my pocket) if I wanted anything else at the show.  Then, after telling him that I couldn’t get it, but if I could get him to sign a comic and take a picture, he seemed a little peeved.  I felt really bad and a bit embarrassed afterward.  He was still open and sort of friendly, but just kinda terse.  Lillian really liked looking at his line work on the originals, too.

Dear Mr. Williams, I would have bought that book of yours if I had the money. I would have taken you out to dinner, too. I'm sorry if I made your day a little bit worse...

After getting the majority of the artists’ signatures or whatever that I wanted to (realizing only until after the show that I forgot about a handful including Doug Mahnke and Brian Azzarello) and not having the cash to get anything from Dustin Nguyen, Lillian and I braved all of the exhibitors selling their comics.

Really, there wasn’t anything that good this year.  I mean, I love it when they bring comics and have them for 50 cents each, but then they’re usually not organized.  Plus, with a backpack on, it was kinda hard to maneuver in the narrow passages to find the area I wanted to look at.  Lillian never found any Sailor Moon comics that she was looking for which sucked.

Then, as we were near the photo booth (where Stan Lee was behind… even though we never saw him) there was an exhibitor with a whole box of TMNT comics for $2 each, which is a fairly reasonable deal.  I bartered with the lady (by looking pitiful because of not having enough money) and got 13 comics for $20.  I was quite pleased that these included the micro-series for each turtle that were one-shots that came out right around when Vol. 1 was at about issue #9 or so.  These go for 10-30 dollars each on eBay, so I was rather proud.

We walked around trying to sneak a peak of Stan Lee or Leonard Nemoy in which Lillian reviewed her plan of deciding to interrupt a photo session with Nemoy and a fan by joining the picture and then tackling Spock himself.  A rather risky plan, but fucking hilarious when you imagine Lillian doing this.  The line to get pictures taken with them reached all the way outside the main rooms, and we knew right away that it just wasn’t worth it.  While trying to navigate our way back to see if Greg Rucka had come back, we passed Lou Ferrigno looking kind of miserable at his booth taking pictures with fans, autographing, and displaying a slew of press photos (mostly, sadly, from his time as The Incredible Hulk).  Nevertheless, it was quite impressive to see this 58 year old guy still have huge biceps and other muscles that could probably all break both of my femurs at the same time.

Lillian and I stood in line to get the free stuff at the DC booth, and she went a little overboard.  At this point, I also got a text from my equivalent to Voldemort (I shudder at making a Harry Potter reference) which was fairly spiteful.  It almost ruined my day, but FUCK! I was at Comic Con.  Still, it hurts that someone I was so close with could be so hateful towards me when I never did anything explicitly wrong and they did.  Anyway, DC was giving out a bunch of free stuff including a bunch of comics (Joe the Barbarian, the Authority, Batman and Robin, DEMO, and Daytripper to name a few).  Looking back, we forgot to get the exclusive free comics at BOOM! and Image, but oh well.  After getting our stock and some buttons, we went over to see if Greg Rucka had come back.

Greg Rucka looking quite composed after running around the booth

Luckily, we got in just as a large line formed.  Lillian decided to go and buy and Owly shirt and apparently talked to Andy Runton for awhile about the comic.  She came back just in time for when I got up to Greg after a guy who Greg had gone, “Oh sheesh!,” over because of all the comics he had for him to sign which Greg limited down to 5 or 10.  However, right as I walked up, Greg was just like “oh hey, can you wait just a sec!  Don’t worry, I’ll come right back!”  So, I was left waiting at his booth with my Detective Comics (that Williams had already signed) and Stumptown print.  He ran over and had a brief conversation with J.H. Williams III, and Matthew Southwarth looked over at me and was just like, “so, Greg’s deserting you, huh?”  I shrugged and went, “well, I guess so!”  Greg came back doing a sort of run, ballet action with his arms slightly outstretched navigating the backpacks and chairs behind the booths.  He said “Sorry about that!” Then, he signed my stuff, and as doing so saw a person dressed up as the Scarlet Witch and said, “You know, some people… There are things that you dress up in at home… for your significant other… and then there are things you just never put on in public.”  We laughed and I made some comment, then he did his dance around the booth to come out and take a picture with me.  He observed the line waiting to meet him and said, “Hold your horses!  You’ll get me in a sec!”

He was pretty funny, but in a way that you could tell he was covertly making fun of the whole convention scene which I thoroughly enjoyed.  Therefore, I propose this, Greg Rucka, can we become friends?

Lillian and I took one last walk to see if we could spot Stan Lee or Leonard Nemoy, but failed in our great quest for Stan The Man and Spock.

Geoff Johns and Ian Sattler

We decided to leave, but, as we were leaving, I spotted that the DC Nation panel was going on.  We caught about the last 5 minutes of it where Riddler was announced as the main villain in the first Batman: Earth One graphic novels and one of the last people asking a question asked about the panel’s opinions over the XXX Batman movie coming out.  Ian Sattler jokingly kicked him off the mic.  So, at the last moment, Lillian and I got to see Geoff Johns, Brian Azzarello, Peter Tomasi, and James Robinson.

We left, went to H+M and Urban Outfitters, but we didn’t get anything.  Then, we got on the bus and headed back to Tacoma.  On a bus transfer, we had time to go across the street to the Mad Hat Tea Company which was really neat and had some great drinks.

Lillian and Monster Abe: A Matchmaker's Dream

We came back to my place and read some of our free comics as Sabretooth laid across them, and then we watched an episode of Quantum Leap as we ate dinner.  Some more comics reading, and then we played Upwords where she kicked my ass.

Sabretooth and Abe making the same ominous face

Lillian rather excited

Taking a break from reading so many comics

Overall, we had a pretty damn good day with a lot of new artwork (to now spend money on the frames) to hang up and admire.  I’m counting for next year’s ECCC (which will now be a 3 day event) to be just as awesome.