PCR EXTRA, Issue #23

Joining the Fifth Anniversary celebration today is Buzzboy. John Gallagher writes and draws the adventures of the "Most Upbeat Super Hero," who appears daily on Buzzboy.com. It's the charming story of a guy who likes to play superhero, his former villain-turned-ally-and-chef Doc Cyber, and faithful sidekick, Becca, who refuses to wear a costume. The strip is all-ages friendly and an awful lot of goofy fun. It doesn't take itself too seriously. It trades on all the comics clichés without becoming a boring parody of them. And it includes plenty of pop culture references for your nostalgia needs.

Gallagher published four issues of the series back in 1998-99, following them up with a pair of one shot issues featuring a reworked look for the strip -- more animated looking, with gray tones. You can watch the progression not just of Gallagher's art through the books, but also of his storytelling style. He's moved to a more conventional multi-tiered page instead of his earlier comic book manner of laying out the panels in more bold and dramatic ways.

[Buzzboy]If you'd like to see some of that wild work, you won't have long to wait. Gallagher will be releasing a trade paperback compilation of those issues this August, to coincide with the San Diego Con. It's being gray toned and relettered to help it blend in with the rest of the Buzzboy body of work. If nothing else, it'll get rid of that ugly Whizbang lettering font. To top it all off, Michael Avon Oeming is contributing the cover for it, which you're seeing here for the first time anywhere. If you like it, there are plans to make a poster out of it, so stay tuned to the Buzzboy web site.


Over the past five years, I've written more than 400 comics, but the only way to sort through them is by using the spotty CBR Search utility, or by going through the Archives pages, month by month. Instead of putting you through all that grief, however, I've taken some time in the past week or two to look through all the columns again. For the rest of the week, I'll be presenting some of the highlights and the low-lights of the past 5 years, focusing mostly on the three years at CBR since those are the best, I think. I've broken it up into neat little chunks, and added commentary and background material when appropriate. If you haven't been following Pipeline for five years, I think you might be surprised at how much stuff I've covered in the past half-decade. I know I am. And I was there.


Convention reports are something I've always loved to read. My first major con was San Diego in 1999. For the five years before that during which time I had internet access, I only knew of such things from the reports of those lucky on-line people who attended them and posted long rambling reports to USENET. There were con reports that, as I recall, would go on for pages and drop names, news, and events. I ate them right up.

When it became my turn to attend these events, I wanted to replicate that style for myself. I love to write those long con reports, complete with pictures, miscellaneous ramblings, and rampant name-dropping. The reason I go to comic book conventions is for the socializing. I see people at conventions that I won't see anywhere else. The comics the dealers are trying to sell can be found on eBay. I don't need to go to San Diego to shop for comics. The socializing is what makes it fun, so that's why the bulk of the con reports include name-dropping.

The Comic-Con International: San Diego is the biggest convention in the United States each year, with an attendance pushing 50,000 and a con floor that is expanding to be 300,000 square feet and a quarter mile long this year. It's also a major event for CBR. We've carried extensive coverage of it for the three years that I've been here. We've been the first place to find the Eisner Awards winners, a major sponsor of the Eisners, and we even have the acceptance speeches up on Real Audio. It's a major thrill for us, and for me, as well. That's why it's the San Diego reports that take up the most room and ramble on the longest. It's also my big annual vacation now and I can't imagine the circumstances that would force me to drop it, short unemployment or family emergency.

In August of 1999, I accompanied the gracious Joe Torcivia for my first trip to San Diego. Amongst other things, it was also my first trip on an airplane in 22 years and my first time outside of my own time zone. It was a grueling four days, plus two in the air, but the most fun I've ever had in my life.

Before I left for the convention, I wrote a column on what I was looking forward to in the schedule. When I got back from the con, I devoted three columns to covering it all. The first dealt with general impressions of the con floor and its surroundings. The second dealt with the panels I attended, and the third was rampant name-dropping.

I returned with Joe to San Diego in August 2000 a little more sure of myself. The convention wasn't completely new to me anymore. I knew a little about the place and its surroundings. Plus, I had been on CBR for more than a year. Something CBR Executive Producer Jonah Weiland had warned me about a year earlier came true: People recognized my name. Being on CBR for more than a year meant more nods of recognition from creators when I handed them a business card. It was a big ego boost and I had another great time.

Just to make things more interesting, CBR updated daily from the hotel room shared by Jonah and CBR News Man Beau Yarbrough. This meant some late nights typing away from high above San Diego. There was something of a fraternity going on with the late night pizza, sodas, and web site updating.

In addition to the traditional preview column devoted to San Diego, I also wrote shorter columns that saw print on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. (Yes, there was another new column as per the usual on that Tuesday, but it was written in advance and had nothing to do with the con.)

As if that wasn't all enough, I unloaded the new and trusty digital camera for a photographic look at the con later in the week, and did a final wrap-up column a week after that.

In July of 2001, we were all back in San Diego again. This time, however, I flew out on my own and spent the weekend on an air mattress on the floor of the CBR "luxury suite" in a hotel just across the road from the con center. More late nights, more pizzas and sodas, and more write-ups. This time, however, I came better equipped. My then-new Handspring Visor with keyboard attachment was worth its weight in gold. Not only was it easy to carry on a flight, but it came in handy to write first drafts of the column. I can remember writing some of the material used in columns on a layover in Las Vegas on the flight out. I got some funny looks from people, but that's OK. It was too cool to be writing on that little screen. Oh, and rechargeable batteries are your friends. Those late nights did lead to a little tiredness and confusion as I ended up running the same review in two straight columns. The sad thing is that nobody e-mailed me to correct me on it. Go figure.

It took seven Pipelines to cover it all, including the preview, a travelogue/rant on the flight out, a photograph album, and the four convention days of the column. (1 2 3 4)

This year, we'll all be back to San Diego again, and I'll be bringing along Pipeline Frequent Con Travelling Partner, Dani, for the trip. It'll be her first trip to the San Diego Con, and I'm looking forward to seeing the con through new eyes again. That's the first weekend in August. Look for all the fun and games then.

The Pittsburgh Comicon has fast become a Pipeline favorite. It's a 6 hour drive away. It's relatively small, and it's got a great number of big name guests in attendance to make it worth a weekend. It's also a great warm-up for the con-going season. The first time I attended was April of 2001, and I went so far as to write up a pair of columns from the con itself. The first appeared on Saturday, and the second on Sunday. Two more columns followed that up to wrap everything up. (1 2)

This year, I attended again, but managed to tell the whole story in just three columns. (1 2 3)

A new addition to the major con scene this year is Wizard World's entrance into Philadelphia. It's about time, and you can read about it in the 17 May 2002 column.

Wizard World Chicago will have to carry on without me this year. I've attended the previous two, though. In 2000, the con report included a bunch of pictures (including one of me with Doctor Doom), an early review of the WITCHBLADE TV series pilot movie, and Mark Waid doing karaoke. (1 2 3)

In 2001, I gave daily column updates a try in Chicago on Saturday and Sunday. It was in the latter column that I asked why people would wait in line for an hour for an autograph. The next day, I stood in line for an hour to meet an artist and get a sketch. I don't know if the fact that it was a sketch and not just an autograph absolves me from hypocrisy, but here's hoping!) Following that, a pair of columns attempted to include all the pictures I took at the convention that year. (1 2)

Those are just the big cons. Those reports leave out all the smaller conventions I've discussed in Pipeline over the years, such as the 1999 National Con in New York City, the 2000 National Con, the 1999 Madison Square Garden convention, the 2000 MSG Con, the 2000 Small Press Expo in Bethesda, Maryland, and the Big Apple Conventions of and January 1998, June 1998, and November 1999.


Second only to my love for comics is my love for DVDs. I wasn't interested at all in movies until the DVD format came along. The first paycheck I got from my first real job after graduating college paid for (amongst other things) my first DVD player. Since that was the first week of July 1998, I guess I make it under the wire for being an "early adopter." Since then, I've watched the market expand exponentially for the format, and have become something of a movie buff myself. I'm a widescreen snob. I get nauseous watching pan and scan movies. Now, with DVDs, I can at last see the movies in the manner in which they're supposed to be seen.

I'm also something of a frustrated DVD reviewer. I've written reviews for three different defunct web sites now. It's gotten so bad that I've forgotten the names of two of those three. It's all for the best, though, as I barely have time to watch discs these days, let alone review them.

Sometimes, though, I get to put those muscles to work through Pipeline. CHASING AMY, UNBREAKABLE, X-MEN, FARSCAPE, and even G.I. JOE: THE MOVIE are some examples of DVDs that have fallen under the Pipeline microscope .


I have a large stack of comics to give away this week. They run the gamut from CrossGen to Marvel to Image and everything inbetween.

CrossGen is featured for today's giveaway. I've got enough here that I'll be giving away two different stacks of them. This includes a pair of issues of RUSE, THE NEGATION #1-3, MERIDIAN #18-20, SCION #19-21 and more. I have about 25 comics in all. I'll split them up as best I can into a stack of 13 and a stack of 12 and send them out to two lucky winners that I'll choose at random based on the following instructions:

If you'd like a chance to take home this care package, send me an e-mail with a subject header of "Wednesday Giveaway". Include your mailing address in the body of the e-mail. I'll be picking two e-mails at random later this week at a random time. Goody bags will hit the post office in the next couple of weeks. One entry per person per giveaway, please. Entrants are not limited to North America. If you're overseas and would like a chance at this package, you're more than welcome to enter.

Good luck! Tomorrow: Marvel mini-series.

Pipeline's 5th Anniversary continues tomorrow (and every day through Friday) with another comics giveaway, more original art, and more looks back at five years of column writing: The columns that got away. The creators who were specially profiled. And some recommended trade paperbacks. See you then!

You can e-mail me your comments on this column, or post them for all the world to see and respond to over on the Pipeline Message Board.

More than 400 columns are archived here at CBR and you can get to them from the Pipeline Archive page. They're sorted chronologically. The first 100 columns or so are still available at the Original Pipeline page, a horrifically coded piece of HTML.

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