Toronto ComicCon Recap!

As promised, my review from the Toronto ComicCon!

But first, I’ve been crazy-busy with work. I thought I would have had this up sooner, so I apologize for being so late. Blame the vikings.

ComicCon

I got to the Con around 11am and due to some unfortunate lack of organization, I didn’t get in until twelve – and that was by purchasing an advanced ticket. While I didn’t whine or complain at all, I knew the reasoning behind it was because this was the first year for the Con. Usually the Con is small and does not cater to so many celebrities, as well as the anime, science-fiction, and horror audience. Alas, I don’t think the people running the Con were expecting such a large turn out. Props to them for keeping their heads cool, despite all of the rage-induced fanboys that went after them.

The workers at FanExpo and the Toronto ComicCon deserve more respect than they’re given.

I managed to get in and pick up some early issues of X-Men for a great price. X-Men #16 and X-Men #19 (last story by Stan Lee) were picked up at an excellent price. However, my prized win was picking up a pretty decent quality copy of Amazing Adult Fantasy #8. Originally called “Amazing Adventures,” the title changed with issue #7. The stories were by Stan Lee, with the artwork & cover done by Steve Ditko.

Seven issues later with issue #15, this title would be renamed “Amazing Fantasy,” and feature the first appearance of a nobody named Spider-Man. With issue #15, the series would get canceled. The rest is history.

AmazingAdultFantasy

While I didn’t bring anything to sign for him, George Perez was there and as expected, had the largest line at the Con.

A few friends of mine lined up for signatures with Mark Bagley, while I met up with Swamp-Thing artist, Yanick Paquette. I got chatting with him and he explained to me a few extremely interesting things about his artwork and how he does it. I won’t go into details here, however. He was a incredibly down-to-earth guy and was absolutely hilarious.

After a few more scores: Uncanny X-Men #201 (first Cable) and the mini’s of X-Men: Phoenix Endsong and Cloak & Dagger volume 1 #1-4, I headed off to see the sketch duel between Paquette and Daredevil artist Paolo Rivera.

Both gentlemen were hilarious at the panel – making jokes and describing their reasonings to why they got into art in the first place.

As for the sketches, they were challenged to draw Spider-Man punching a shark. Yup.

Overall, it was a great time. I wish I had both arrived earlier and was able to go the second day, but alas, work calls!

I’m definitely excited to see what the next Con will bring!

Keep on Space Truckin’!

Review: Swamp Thing #7

Can you believe it?! A DC Comic review!

I’m not going to lie, I’ve been reading Swamp-Thing since the New 52 began because I’m a sucker for horror. This is quite possibly one of the best decisions I’ve made. But on to the review, shall we?

Swamp Thing

Swamp Thing #7
Scott Snyder (writer), Yanick Paquette (pencils, inks), Nathan Fairbairn (colours), Travis Lanham (letters), Paquette & Fairbairn (cover). $2.99

It may have taken seven issues, but we finally have our Swamp Thing. However, if you were complaining about not seeing our monster-hero of the Green until now, then I’d have to question if you’ve been reading the same series of Swamp Thing that I have.

Scott Snyder has built this series up without the “hero” being present, yet still drew in readers each month. How? He created a world where a hero was needed by keeping the soon-to-be Swamp Thing – Alec Holland – human. He re-established the story for new readers, while keeping it still interesting enough for older ones to want to come back to read. Building suspense and story along the way, the true horrors of the Rot were what kept everyone coming back. Each issue would end with the reader asking, Where is our hero? Not because Swamp Thing wasn’t there, but because there was no glimmer of hope left for the world.

Issue seven brings Holland with his last breath of air – the Rot has overcome him while the Parliament of Trees die, condemning Holland for not becoming the Swamp Thing sooner. Scott Snyder makes Holland remain human as long as possible not only to make his inevitable change into Swamp Thing that much more important, but to give the fear behind the series that much more power. The assimilation of the Rot, the terror it brings, and the death it creates – all of it boils into the climatic moment where Holland finally accepts his fate.

To sharpen the point, Yanick Paquette completely obliterates any sort of safe feelings with his artwork. An acid trip with trees and fire, Paquette truly adds depth and chaos to the story with his impeccable take on the nature Snyder built. Details are unbarred – the grit, the grain, the green – all building to the single-page awakening of the Swamp Thing puts any panels he’s done prior in this series to shame.

Colours are absorbent with rich shades of greens and stings of orange. The balance of colours for Fairbairn are something to strive for as a colourist. Even with such a limited colour palette, the book glows with emotion and power.

As if they were meant for each other, Snyder, Paquette, and Fairbairn meld their story-telling into something glorious.

And that something glorious, to paraphrase Snyder is: “The monster.”

Grade: 10/10

And just hang in there! This review is posted over at The Blood Theatre! Check it out!

A Few Announcements!

To keep you all updated with the goings-on with this site and writing, I felt as if I should dedicate an entire post to this.

The Blood Theatre

I’ve taken up the job as a contributing writer to a friend’s Horror Fan website called The Blood Theatre. (http://thebloodtheatre.com/)

I’ll be writing some features (Versus Mode), horror comic reviews, horror book reviews, and film reviews from time-to-time. It’s a pretty exciting engagement to take on. If you love horror films, books, games, or whatever, I highly recommend you check it out. I’ll keep you posted on here when my stuff gets updated or whenever we’re getting something exciting going on that’ll affect everyone.

In fact, I’ll be reviewing DC’s Swamp-Thing and it will be up shortly.

Don’t forget to bookmark the site and join the forums! I’ll see you there!

Blood Theatre

Toronto Comic Con

I’ll be in Toronto this Saturday for their ComicCon (a smaller version of August’s FanExpo).

Legendary creator George Perez will be there, as well as Dale Keown, Paolo Rivera, and Leonard Kirk. Given that I’ll be reviewing Swamp Thing shortly, I’m definitely going to take advantage that its artist, the magnificent Yanick Paquette will be there.

Expect me to post my take on the whole event (and maybe some pictures) when I get back and have the time to update it! I’m really excited for it, but unfortunately will be only able to attend one day. I’ll do what I can!

Novel Writing

As I’ve mentioned last month, I’ve jumped back on doing my NaNoWriMo project. I currently have eleven days left to write and I’ve gotten in about 10k words. I know it’s not a lot, but I’ve actually spent a LOT of time with character and plot development. It’s taken precedence over writing. I had some recent “realizations” that made me have to take a few days off from writing so I wouldn’t botch the rest of the novel. It’s what I needed to do.
One day I’ll explain it all to you.

What Else?

I’ve been working my butt off. Isn’t that enough?!

Keep on Space Truckin’!

Review: Secret Avengers #23

I haven’t done one of these in a long time! Time has flown by!

In Secret Avengers, as seen by the cover – Venom joins the team. Oh, and by the way, Venom is now Peter Parker’s old high school colleague Flash Thompson. I’ll admit, I haven’t been catching up with my Spider-Man lore at all. When I saw Flash Thompson for the first time in years, I couldn’t believe he was missing his legs. He lost them due to fighting in the Iraq War. I had no idea Marvel went down that route at all. Kudos to them.

Secret Avengers

Secret Avengers #23
Rick Remender (writer), Gabriel Hardman (pencils, inks), Bettie Breitweiser (colours), Chris Eliopoulos (letters), Arthur Adams & Peter Stiegerwald (cover). $3.99

The last time I can recall reading a story with so much intensity due to dialogue was Fred Van Lente’s Taskmaster mini-series. Writer Rick Remender does such an incredible job at giving everyone important moments and nails every voice along the way. I’ve always been iffy with Hawkeye because I find writers never know what to do with him. He’s either too much of a jerk or a complete goof. Remender nails the character and even gives subtle hints to why the character is that way. The same goes for Ant-Man. I was wondering why Warren Ellis just forgot about the character during his brief stint in the series. Turns out Remender had something special planned with his characterization.

The story moves on a very strong pace. Nothing is filler and everything is useful. Reading through the book, I felt as if Remender overdid himself with the story – there is just that much happening all of the time in the book. The conversations that need to be had are said. This is a solid story.

Art by Gabriel Hardman is also exceptional. The wonderful noir feeling throughout the whole issue is completely tasteful to the changing scenery. From the view of the Lighthouse in space, to a hospital scene, to another world and a gritty city – the transitions are flawless in his storytelling capabilities.

But what I must point out is how incredible Bettie Breitweiser’s colouring job is. Hands-down, the colours are the best thing about the story. Images truly come alive with Breitweiser’s great work on tones and highlights. Looking at the light pollution from the city gives so much more life to the buildings, while the transitions onto the final few pages carries the same energy to the climactic cliffhanger. Facial features are accented beautifully, and nothing is ever overdone. Dean White has a run for his money with Breitweiser on the prowl.

Criticizing the story however, I find that Remender is trying to buff his team up with as much “awesome” as possible. Last issue Captain Britan joined, while in this issue, both Jim Hammond (The Human Torch) and Venom have jumped on-board. While I do not mind the great variety of the series, I found that the previous writers: Ellis, Spencer, and Brubaker, couldn’t incorporate everyone into the story because it was stretching itself on the cast. Remender was able to give mostly everyone a voice, but the larger cast will certainly leave some heroes out of place.

While currently Remender is keeping a fine job with the cast on Uncanny X-Force (and passing characters off to Jason Aaron), I’d just hope Remender can keep doing stories like #23 – fully encapsulating and balanced enough for everyone to have a say.

Grade: 8.5/10

Keep on Space Truckin’!

Power Girl And Her New Costume

I didn’t see this one coming.

After years and years of Power Girl’s infamous “boob window” being open for all, DC has finally decided close the draft.

Let’s see the new costume, shall we?

Power Girl

No, wait. Sorry. That was the old costume.

Here’s the new one:

Power Girl

Can you even recognize her in this new drawing? Done by the legendary George Perez, it’s definitely a shocker!

What’s even more mind-boggling is how DC is doing such a drastic overhaul to one character while Catwoman still gets the short end of the stick.

This is definitely a lot more tasteful than most comics out there. Psylocke in X-Men still runs around with her ninja thong on, while Starfire is putting DC in hot water. But Power Girl, DC’s stereotypical and clichéd “big breasted hero” is actually getting toned down. It’s not only incredible to hear, but it’s a major step in the right direction in terms of finally making comics more – what’s the word? Oh yeah! Appropriate!

Now I will admit, Power Girl’s “window” defined the character as a sex object to the point where she even would admit to the ridiculousness of her clothing in the comics. It gave her sass – that’s for sure.

Power Girl

But it’s become some what of a joke within comics. The impracticality of the character and her physique – she wasn’t considered so much sexy, as she was more of a joke for the writers and artists to play along with.

And everyone seem to be okay with this?

I think the even bigger joke is, however, the amount of people arguing against the costume. While I won’t reveal who said what, allow me to post some comments against this overhaul with Power Girl’s costume that I’ve read:

“Wow this new costume sucks, as does most of the new DC costumes for the female characters at least, in an effort to pander to feminists they have basically butchered the classic looks of a lot of characters that had been the way they were for decades.”

“I can feel my Inner Feminist crying for what I’m gonna say, but I like PG classic look, it’s you know [. . .] Power Girl looks like a character who likes to be sexy for the hell of it. [This new] one… is not an example.
But at least the new costume is kinda boring and I can just hate it for that. And Heck, this might mean that DC is finally paying attention to criticisms! (I can Dream)”

“She needs the window. That’s one of her signature characteristics, like Superman’s s-shield.

“Hate. I loved her boob window and all the jokes that came with it.”

“P.G.’s too P.C. for me now.”

And yes, some of those comments are from women too. Regardless of their opinions, my opinion says Power Girl’s old costume was objectifying.

Now, I’ll also go to say that there are a ton of people out there who are for the closing of the window, but simply hate the costume. So be it. Personally, I don’t care for the costume either. For example, it took me a few minutes to realize there was a “P” around her neck.

But that really wasn’t the problem to begin with, was it?

Here’s to a small step forward!

The Case Against Gary Friedrich

In case you haven’t heard, let’s get you up to speed:

Back in the 1970’s, writers and artists at Marvel were a “Work for Hire,” meaning they were paid as they were hired for the work they do. They had to sign contracts giving up their rights as creator and what-not – essentially allowing Marvel to generate all the proceeds over whatever characters are created via these WfH folks. This was done with Gary Friedrich in 1978.

Later in the 80’s, when Jim Shooter took over Marvel, he made sure all creators, writers and artists got their fair share when it came to royalties. Unfortunately, this was before Friedrich signed his contract.

Ghost Rider

In 2007, that Nic Cage “Ghost Rider” film popped up. It (somehow) made millions and Marvel collected big time. Friedrich sued Marvel claiming the character he created was exploited (as I’m sure the 1978 contract didn’t mention “major motion picture”) at the time. On December 28th, 2011, Friedrich lost his case against Marvel and that was to be the end of it. Alas.

Marvel counter-sued Friedrich over legal fees as well as unauthorized Ghost Rider material such as cards, postcards, shirts, and the kicker: sketches at conventions.

Marvel is demanding $17,000 in lost wages from Friedrich over his unlicensed use of their character. While I can understand that, let’s quote Jim Shooter here:

Gary Friedrich sued Marvel over rights to Ghost Rider. Gary lost. Marvel sued Gary for unauthorized exploitation of their trademarked Ghost Rider property. Gary lost. He is obliged to pay Marvel $17,000.

(Shooter also goes on to explain another great deal of legalities with the case that is quite interesting, so check that out too!)

Currently the internet is in an uproar of disgust towards Marvel (who remember is owned by Disney) for what they’re doing to Friedrich. Friedrich went on his Facebook to state:

Since the various news agencies and websites have reported the ruling against me on my claims against Marvel in the Ghost Rider lawsuit, and the assessment of a $17,000 judgment against me and my company instead, I have read an amazing amount of comments in my support on the internet, and have received many messages of support directly. Although the reports of my employment situation and financial difficulties as well as problems with my health are unfortunately true, I want to let everyone in the comic book world, especially my supporters and fans of the Ghost Rider character which I invented, created, and wrote, that I am going to appeal the Court’s ruling and continue to fight this as long as I am able and that your support of me means more than you will ever know. I have heard your voices. I thank you with alll my heart, and I appreciate your thoughts and best wishes as I soldier on.

Feel free to keep in touch with me via e-mail: fgroovygary@aol.com.

Thanks again and God bless you.

Gary Friedrich

Over at writer Steve Niles’ site, you can donate directly to Friedrich to help him out financially through a PayPal account set up for him.

But like I said – that kicker – no more sketches at conventions. While it’s not in place yet, it’s terrifying to know that at any time, these creators can be buckled down and told that they owe their parent companies money. Conventions have always been another way for a creator to get additional wages to their already-low pay. To take that away from them is down-right mean.

However, on the legal side of things, it’s considered right.

So is Marvel in the right? Is this going to be the new status quo for conventions now – the fear of creators getting sued for making extra cash on the side? If so, then what about fan art and things like Tumblr? I can only imagine it being a real-life SOPA for comic creators.