NEW YORK COMIC-CON, PART 2 OF 2
I knew going in this year that I only had one day to be at the show and that I wouldn't be able to cover it all. There are corners of the Javitz Convention floor I never walked down. I made it through all of Artist's Alley, but it was a complete shotgun approach, only talking to people who didn't have a line or who I happened to make eye contact with first. (Or, in Joe Caramagna's case, recognized me and called me over before I saw him. He has an e-book out now, you know, just in time for Halloween.) I didn't have time to wait in long lines for brief introductions or the kind of chat that just blocks out the line of fans standing behind me who just want a quick autograph or something. I'm sort of self-conscious that way with my press pass.
In retrospect, maybe I should have been more aggressive, but then I would have missed some other experience I had. I filled my day pretty easily, though there's a lengthy list of people I didn't get to touch base with that I wish I had. It's the number one reason I want to get to the show for two days next year.
FIRST, I GO OVER THE RAINBOW
On the main show floor, I only bought books in two places. The first was at a dealer who had a couple dozen short boxes filled with half price trades and hardcovers. I picked up "The Marvelous Land of Oz" by Eric Shanower, Skottie Young, and friends. It's too beautiful a series not to own in hardcover. I'm going to start agitating for an "Artist's Edition" of the series now, I think. I don't know what the status of the original art is, but I'd hope it would be possible.
Speaking of which, Skottie Young announced on Sunday that he's done with the "Oz" series after six years and six books. The wording on the blog post is a little vague, but it sounds to me like the series is done. We'll have to wait on official word if it was canceled, or the creators felt like they said all they had to say, or what might have happened. If I had to guess, I'd say the numbers aren't through the roof and the book's talents were needed elsewhere.
It's an impressive body of work and a notable run in today's comics landscape. I admit I haven't kept up with all of it, but I intend to have all those hardcovers on a shelf someday. The artwork is too beautiful to ignore. Special credit goes out to Jean-Francois Beaulieu, whose color work and design is as important a part of the book's overall look as Young's inks. It's not just the color schemes that are bright and lively, but the subtle designs and textures he incorporates that elevates the book into something that feels more important and worthy of attention than you might think at first glance.
In a comics landscape that rewards creative teams for jumping around so often, it's nice to see a success like the "Oz" series, even if it now must end. "All good things," right?
THEN I GO BACK TO EUROPE ON YOU
The other purchases I made were all at the Papercutz booth. They had a pre-release copy of "The Smurfs Anthology," Volume 2 there that I did not buy. (It's on my Christmas list. I have to give family members the easy options, too, you know...) What I did go for, though, was a selection of their more all-ages friendly titles imported from Europe. Judging by the names, they come from France and Italy. All are first volumes of series that are scheduled to run multiple volumes. Here's the rundown:
- "Benny Breakiron in The Red Taxis" is the first of two (so far) editions collecting Peyo's comic series about a little boy with super strength. Yes, it's the Smurfs' creator's superhero comic book series. Sort of. I've only read the first few pages, but I'm already collecting some thoughts on what an interesting display of comics craftsmanship this book is. I'll have more to say on this one in the weeks ahead. (Here's the series' website.)
- "Dance Class Volume 1: So, You Think You Can Hip Hop" comes to us from France by writer Beka and artist Crip. It's a beautiful looking book, done with bright colors and clear cartoony art. Having a daughter in dance class and nieces in more advanced classes, I've become aware of the craziness of dance schools in recent years. I look forward to seeing how much of that is reflected in this book. And then I look forward to sharing it with my daughter someday. Five books are out now, with plans for at least two more to come. (Here's the series' website.)
- "Sybil: The Backpack Fairy Volume 1: Nina" comes to us from writer Michel Rodrigue and artists Antonello Dalena and Manuela Razzi. It's the story of a girl named Sybil and her fairy friend, Nina, who drags her into crazy madcap adventures. The art is a mix of Disney and manga, brightly colored and attractive. The purple hair against the green background works. Credit goes to Cecilia Giumento for the color work. Four volumes are out so far. Disappointingly, the 8 x 10 inch size of the first book shrinks down to 6.5 x 9 inches for the rest. (Here's the series' website.)
- "Ernest & Rebecca Volume 1: My Best Friend is a Germ" aims even younger, with the story of a six year old girl whose parents' marriage is disintegrated as she befriends a germ. Again, this is Antonello Dalena and Cecilia Giumento at work, so the art is very similar to "Sybil." Lots of panels, clear storytelling, a strong sense of negative space to help in telling the story and not just meeting an artist's deadline, and more are at work here. I can't wait to dig into this one. There are four books in this series so far. (Here's the series' website.)
There's one other series I completely missed at Papercutz and didn't see in my all-too-quick perusal at the booth. "Monster" ran four individual volumes, but also had a slipcased set. It's written and drawn by Lewis Trondheim, so it's worth a look.
KEEPING IT SIMPLE
I didn't bring a sketchbook with me. I did that last year and never took it out. I didn't bring any comics to sign, though I did see a couple of things related to that of interest. The "Walking Dead Covers" hardcover just came out, and I saw a couple of those getting signed around tables at Artist's Alley. It's a smart idea: You can bring one book and get a whole lot of people to sign it for you. ("Comics Buyer's Guide" once made a book for that purpose in the early 90s. I have one somewhere. It's a fascinating time capsule of attitudes, creators, and their hairlines. It's also a heavy oversized hardcover, which seems counterproductive to the book's purpose.)
The other interesting thing I saw this year that I had never seen before was people keeping the books to be autographed in the bag and board, but having a square area cut out of the bag for the creator to sign in. Occasionally, they used tape around the cut out area to, er, emphasize where to sign? Or to keep the integrity of the polypropylene? I'm not sure if they then transfer that autographed book to another bag that's in one piece when they get home or what. It did have an unfortunate side effect for one fan, though, whose Stan Lee autograph ran outside of the comic and onto the bag. Now he has to keep that bag with that comic to have the whole autograph.
I didn't attend any panels. My original intent was to hit the IDW panel first thing on Saturday morning to hear the new Artist's Edition announcements, but my timing getting into the city didn't work out so well. I missed it completely. (Regretfully, that also meant missing my one chance to visit with Scott Dunbier, one of those Nicest Guys In Comics types I inevitably miss at shows these days.)
Spent some time in the CBR Tiki Room sky booth, which is always a fun place to hang out. It's filled with people getting work done for the site as well as being a nice place to sit for a minute. Even with all the furious work happening in there -- interviews, video editing, panel write-ups, etc. -- it feels placid next to the insanity of the show floor below it.
I met ROBOT 6's Brigid Alverson there for the first time this year and had a great chat. I don't know how much more to add in there other than to say she's fun to talk to, an obvious comics fans, and a smiling bundle of energy.
Talked all too briefly with Todd Nauck, who had his markers and pens out, sketching up a storm.
Ran into John Siuntres while walking off the Artist's Alley floor section, and had a great time talking about the state and history of podcasting, our day jobs, and comics in general.
When I was in the Alley, I noticed John Romita Jr. holding the longest line in the place, but with Rob Liefeld and Chris Claremont (at opposite ends of the room) maintaining a decent line, too.
Time to call Bill Watterson. . . Work that charm, Scott Dunbier!
The "Jack Kirby New Gods" release and Dave Gibbons' "Watchmen" books are of interest, of course, but more for me as what they signal than for the specific books, themselves. This is the first time DC has licensed stuff out for the format. These two books open up a whole new playing field for AE books of the future.
THE NEWS OF NEW YORK
Two bits of news from the show were especially exciting for me.
First, more Artist's Editions from IDW! They won't be coming out until sometime next year, but new AEs for Jim Steranko's "S.H.I.E.L.D." and "Captain America" runs is good news. It'll be interested to see what the original artwork for some of those pages looked like, as Steranko used different techniques with those stories. A "Peanuts" AE will be a treat that could lead into other comic strip releases. I love "Far Side," don't get me wrong, but I don't think we need to see Gary Larsen's art full-size. We can also eliminate "XKCD" from consideration, though I bet that's all on the computer, anyway. If IDW wants to shoot for the moon, though, it's ti but now I'll be along for the ride on something.
Second, new "Quantum and Woody" issues from the newest holders of the Valiant/Acclaim license will no doubt further doom that publishing effort. Bringing Christopher Priest and M.D. Bright back together for this is a great move. Bringing the series ahead in the timeline will help make a clean break from the messy publishing issues of the first series.
Will it sell? I have no idea. This is a line that exists, to begin with, to bring back people who love those characters. That's a number that diminishes every year as time goes by and the distance from the last iteration increases. Are the Valiant characters still surviving on the backs of their relatively brief glory days of the Jim Shooter era? Or the 60s era? Each revival is notable, but brief. I don't get my hopes up, but at least I'll get some new "Quantum and Woody." Works for me!
PIPELINE PHOTO PARADE, PART TWO
We conclude this year's round of cosplay pictures, starting with the Predator sequence:
This Predator drew a large crowd just inside the front doors, with lots of people taking the chance to take a photo with him. That includes a certain wise Jedi seen here...
This would make an interesting crossover: Predator versus Thanos with the Infinity Gauntlet. No, wait, Predator doesn't stand a chance.
Wolverine showed up for a fight, too, and let Jubilee take the picture. Marvel would not allow this crossover to happen because Wolverine was seen with a cigar in his mouth and smoking is bad, kids.
This is likely the most convincing-looking Wolverine that I saw at the show, though there might be demerits from the way the claws coming out from between his fingers instead of out of the back of his hand.
But here's the Wolverine picture that takes me back to my teenage mutant fandom: Jubilee and Wolverine! C'mon, it doesn't get any better than that, does it? I didn't see any modern Jubilee cosplayers around. Can someone point me at a pic? I have a feeling most fans prefer the younger, more Robin color-a-like character to the dark and brooding vampire mother.
Lots of mutants moved through the convention floor in packs. Can't get enough X-Men. Too bad Jim Lee wasn't on hand to see the group clad in his costume designs.
As cute as they are, I don't generally take pictures of kids in cosplay. For perfectly logical reasons, some parents don't want their kid's picture thrown out all over the internet. This one is anonymous enough, though, that I think I'm safe. Wolverine is short, after all. It would make sense that he'd ride Dad's shoulders through the convention. If you look carefully, Deadshot is coming in the opposite direction.
Clock King from Justice League Antarctica, or Keith Giffen's all-too-brief "Suicide Squad" run with Paco Medina. (That series didn't last long, but I liked it a lot.)
Mysterio showed up near the Marvel booth. You can't see it in this picture, but his head piece had glowing colored lights in it. What would have been more impressive -- and gotten him immediately thrown out of the convention -- is if he had a fog machine hooked up behind him.
Futurama, of course!
This is the downside to being a part of a larger crowd taking pictures of a group in cosplay. Everyone's looking in a different direction. Cobra-La-La-La-La!
Another nice assortment of DC heroes. Superman is just New 52-ish enough to show us why the old costume is better.
I didn't see any shrubbery or unladen African swallows or rabbits with nasty, big, pointy teeth, but I did see this guy.
One of my favorite shots of the show: Lola at the Marvel booth, in front of the sign from the show she appears in. Tip for photographers: Don't take all of your pictures from a standing position. Crouch down for one every now and then. New angles are more interesting.
Cute enough yellow rabbit, right? But look at the dude coming into frame in the bottom right corner. He's carrying a disembodied head. Another artistic tip for photographers: Contrast is good!
Another Deadpool variation at the convention. You couldn't swing a rubber chicken without hitting one.
I shoot manually. While I let the camera do the focusing, I choose my own aperture, shutter speed, and ISO speed. That means I take a lot of test pictures to get the lighting right in the place I'm in before I take a real picture. I can zone in pretty fast to where I want to be by now. This is one of those test pictures meant to get a sense of the light in the room. I was about a stop underexposed and the shutter speed was too slow. Still, there's something oddly fascinating about that floating white head in the middle of the picture looking over the unwitting guy's shoulder in front of him. [Editor's Note: That's Jack, from the Jack in the Box fast food chain, Augie! You need to get to CBR's West Coast offices more often.]