The Walking Dead, FanExpo, and More!

Isn’t it weird to be back on schedule again? Maybe I’ll get some reviews up shortly as well. (No promises!)

The Walking Dead

Nowadays with comic book sales, it’s really difficult for books to sell over the 150,000 mark. Seriously.

Back in the 70’s and 80’s, comics sold by the millions. Then the 90’s hit and suddenly comic book sales dropped. Was it over-saturation? Was it people upset with the “death and re-birth of Superman?” Maybe comics just weren’t worth their value come the 90’s anymore. Maybe when writers and artists quit working for the big-names in the 90’s, it shook up the faith in the industry?

And now in 2000, comic book sales get beaten down by both legal and and illegal downloads through comic-related websites or torrent sites.

It wasn’t until DC rebooted their franchise did comic sales start regularly peaking over 100,000 per month. With Marvel’s big blockbuster comic events, their sales teeter between 100-150k.

If I were to tell you that an independent comic – not owned by the big two: Marvel and DC – sold over 380,000 comics two weeks ago, would you believe me?

Image Comics The Walking Dead #100 sold 383,612 – the most a comic has ever sold since 1997!

Since the book’s arrival to television, the comic hasn’t bumped up much in sales. It wasn’t until the few issues building up to #100 did the sales start to increase. Dramatically.

Maybe if there is decent content out there, comics still can be saved? Either way you look at it, a little guy just beat the crap out of two big guys.

Way to go, Image.

FanExpo Canada

FanExpo Canada has almost arrived! I’m very excited to be going this year – not only because the legend and my personal idol, Stan Lee will be there. It’s also because I just love being able to mingle with creators and artists over something we all share in common.

I’m also looking forward to doing another major recap like how I did last year.

Although I met a lot of these people in the past, I have to say, the comic guest-list so far is pretty damn impressive:

Stan Lee (!!! X-Men, Fantastic Four, Hulk, Iron Man, Spider-Man, etc.)
Neal Adams (!!! – Everything under the sun)
Bob Layton (Hulk, Captain America)
Len Wein (X-Men, and billions of other things)
Dale Eaglesham (Alpha Flight, Hulk)
Tony Daniel (Batman, Teen Titans)
Steve Epting (Avengers, Civil War)
Mike Choi (!!! – X-Force, X-Men, cover artist)
Jimmy Cheung (Avengers)
Dale Keown (Hulk, cover artist)
Ed McGuinness (!!!)
Steve McNiven (Wolverine, Civil War)
Tony Moore (The Walking Dead)
Yanick Paquette (Swamp Thing)
Carlos Pacheco (Uncanny X-Men)
Esad Ribic (Uncanny X-Force, XO Manowar)
Leonard Kirk (X-Factor)

Not to mention there’s a ton more. Yeah, I’ll be busy that weekend for sure.

NaNoWriMo Update

Remember when I started my NaNoWriMo back in January? Well, who wants an update?

Just over 75,000 words into it, I’ve decided to cease production and work on something else. My reasons are personal, but I know a few of you have been wondering about where the status is on the book.

As for my new story, I’m doing some heavy plotting and kicking around many ideas in my head. I’m really, REALLY, excited to do this next story.

Unlike the first story, I felt like I HAD to write it, rather than this new story where I WANT to write it. It’s a major difference.

I’ll keep you posted when I get going on it some more!

Until next time, keep on Space Truckin’!

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Bizarre Comic Book News

“Derek, where have you been?”

I know, I know! I’ve been busy, damn it! Luckily, I have a pretty decent-sized update to share with ya’ll.

But first, if you haven’t already, add me to Twitter!

With the Avengers movie just rearing its head this weekend and already posed to make over $500 million world-wide in just over a week, methinks it’s pretty safe to say that Marvel will be pumping out tons and tons of movies very soon.

A New X-Movie in the Works?

I digress. I was running around on the internet during the past week and came across some ridiculous movie news that I’m not entirely sure about.

There’s a pretty heavy rumour at Collider suggesting that there will be a New Mutants movie in the works.

While sure, those are some low-tiered superheroes to be dealing with, the last thing I’d want 20th Century Fox to screw up is one of my favourite “family” books. By “family” I mean that New Mutants aren’t like the traditional X-Books where there’s always fighting and planning. These folks are youngin’s who just try to enjoy life and are also just mutants.

While sure, you could argue they’re fighters (because superhero books involve fighting), I just know if Fox did fire out a New Mutants flick, it wouldn’t captivate anything that the New Mutants were – or are – for that matter. Albeit, seeing a CGI Warlock would be pretty exciting.

Who Hates the Watchmen Prequels More than this Guy?

Now I’m no doctor, but not bringing in comics because “you’re going to lose money” seems like a pretty hefty gamble.

In Brooklyn, Bergen Street Comics manager Tucker Stone revealed that he won’t be bringing in the new Watchmen prequels.

Hold up. Why? Stone said,

“‘We won’t have it on the wall,” said Stone. “It’s not useful for graphic novels, it’s not useful for small press. . . It’s only useful for the weekly stuff. We’re gonna lose money, we’ll probably lose customers. . . It was a decision that was made. When I heard that decision, I said that’s a bad idea. . . That’s an explanation that I’ll have to give over and over again. As time has gone on, as I’ve seen online response to that project. . . This is just gross, and we don’t want to be part of this one. We’ll participate with the grossness they did to Kirby on the Avengers books, but this one. . .'”

Interesting, ain’t it?

The kicker is I would probably pick them up if I saw them at my LCS (which I know I’ll see there). But imagine all of the other folk who’d step in to want the book? Maybe Stone will just have to take in more orders than usual? Or maybe he’s right and he just knows his comic buying audience than we’re led to believe? Regardless, it’s a pretty bold statement to make.

On the other hand, what about creators rights? Now the people who worked hard on these comics aren’t going to get paid appropriately. . . Hmm.

FanExpo Canada Brings in the Big Guns

As the yearly tradition goes in Toronto, FanExpo Canada will be providing another year filled with folks in the comic industry. You may remember last year when I attended and gave a massive recap about the con. Well this year, HobbyStar has announced some big names yet again!

Of course, I’m most excited about Stan Lee, and am thrilled to meet him again. See? I met him before.

But other attendees announced are:

Adi Granov (Artist)
Tony Moore (Artist – The Walking Dead, Venom)
Greg Capullo (Artist – Batman)
Tony Daniel (Writer – Detective Comics, Hawkman)
Steve Epting (Artist – Fantastic Four & many more)
Frank Quitely (Artist – Batman & Robin)
David Finch (Artist – Batman: The Dark Knight)
Carlos Pacheco (Artist – Uncanny X-Men)
Esad Ribic (Artist – Uncanny X-Force, Ultimates, X-O Manowar)
Dan Slott (Writer – Amazing Spider-Man)

And that’s just the preliminary list. Yeesh! There’s still tons to be announced!

Needless to say, it’s shaping up to be a pretty exciting Expo. Hooray!

Avengers Versus X-Men

And at last, we have the whole “AvX” fiasco. While I’m picking up the title issues of the series plus the battles, I have to say the issues involved in the crossover are just silly. While Secret Avengers has been alright, Uncanny X-Men, and Wolverine & The X-Men aren’t too necessary, I’m finding. I’m just glad X-Factor is staying out of the foray.

Although, I will say Avengers Versus X-Men #3 was pretty decent, making me think that there’s still hope for the series. (See what I did there?) Gah.

Until next time, keep on Space Truckin’!

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’!

Massive FanExpo ReCap!

Wow! What an incredible weekend! FanExpo was so much fun this year. Great improvements were made with spacing and positioning of booths, that I never felt too overcrowded when I was there. This is the first time I went to FanExpo and could not think of how they could improve for next year. It was that good.

But on to comics! (And as a warning, all the pictures were taking by my phone)

Thursday:

For the short time I was there, I talked to TONS of artists and writers. To top it all off, I met the legendary Chris Claremont!

Upon going into the Expo at 4:00pm, I immediately wanted to meet Chris Claremont. Unfortunately, he was unable to attend on the Thursday, so I had to make my way to the second people on my list: Matt Fraction (Iron Man, Thor, Uncanny X-Men, Fear Itself) and Kelly Sue DeConnick (Osborn, Supergirl, Castle). As it turned out, meeting them was the entire highlight of the convention.

I only brought stuff up for Kelly Sue to sign on Thursday, while the Friday was for Fraction. Upon meeting Kelly Sue, I tossed down my Osborn series for her to sign and asked her a few questions. While answering, she paused and asked my name to sign.

I said, “Derek.”
“How do you spell that?”
“D-e-r-e-k.”
“Is this, ‘Uncanny Derek?'”
I smiled and replied, “Maybe.”

Needless to say, it instantly became the highlight of the convention. Then she personalized Osborn #1 for me.

Osborn Signed

I asked her if I could get a picture of her with Fraction, as he just freed up from signing. But Kelly Sue asked if I wanted to be in the picture. How could I say no?

DeConnick Fraction UncannyDerek

After telling Matt Fraction that I’d return for him tomorrow, I ran into Marvel’s Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso and VP of Creative Development, C.B. Cebulski. After chatting for a few moments, this happened:

Alonso Cebulski UncannyDerek

Needless to say, I was at the convention for literally a half hour and was completely enthused about how everything was going so far. I could peruse through comics, toys, booths and the-like without any issues of cramming or bumping into anyone. I managed to nick a few more Uncanny X-Men’s off of my pull-list for dirt-cheap (and in great quality) too. I picked up Uncanny X-Men #95, #120, (both which Claremont signed later) #132, #135, and #266 – the (arguably) first appearance of Gambit.

I walked down Artist’s Alley – a place designated for artists and writers to hang out and chat with fans. The first person I ran into was Marko Djurdjevic. He was quite the outgoing person – very laid back and care-free, but with a hint of elitism. I soon figured out why. I had quite a few of comics for him to sign – and I asked him what’s next on his plate. He told me he just quit Marvel about two months ago and that he was going back to video game concept art. Albeit shocked, I congratulated him and asked why. He simply told me his contract was up and he did not want to have to deal with higher-ups anymore. Fair enough.

One of the comics he signed was my copy of New Mutants #27. I told him that it was my favourite cover I’ve seen in awhile, and he began to laugh. He absolutely hated it and thought it was the worst “piece of shit” he ever created, and that he “has it buried” in files so he can never see it again. Admittedly, I found that hilarious too, but I congratulated him and went on my way.

It wasn’t until the next morning did I find out what was REALLY going on with him. I was anything less-than shocked.

I went on to find a very modest artist, Jimmy Cheung, who revealed to me that he has been working on Avengers: The Children’s Crusade for the past TWO years. He also clarified that it takes about two and a half months for him to finish one book of The Children’s Crusade. No wonder why it looks so breath-taking. He also said that the last few issues will probably be delayed because there is still much work for him to finish with. But he was a great, genuine guy.

From there, I headed to the panel, “Breaking into Comics: The Marvel Way.” As an aspiring writer, I would love to know some tricks of the trade. The panel shed some light on how writers can break into the medium and definitely raised some good pointers on how important it is to not just love comics. There’s a lot more to the trade than it seems.

Breaking Into Comics

From left to right: Matt Fraction, Axel Alonso, C.B. Cebulski, Mark Brooks (Uncanny X-Force), and Arune Singh (Marvel Communications).

My last guest of the evening was Fred Van Lente (Taskmaster, Incredible Hercules, Chaos War, Alpha Flight). Like Cheung, Van Lente was a truly genuine person, and I was really looking forward to speaking with him. Wearing a dress shirt and suspenders, he was really excited and involved when chatting with me. He also gave a few writing pointers. I then asked him how him and writer Greg Pak got to co-writing everything. Turns out Pak had too much on his plate during Incredible Hercules as Pak was busy with World War Hulk at the time. Marvel tossed over Van Lente for help – and the rest became history. The duo worked well together. Van Lente said that Pak would initially start writing and left Van Lente to really finish the stories – and essentially, that is still how they write to this day.

Van Lente also mentioned that he received his humour in comics as a defense mechanism for being picked on all the time through grade and high school. Turns out we have a ton in common, too.

Friday:

The busier of the two days, Friday was my day to see Claremont, as well as wrap things up with Fraction and hopefully run into a few other wonderful people.

Arriving around 2:00pm, I met Matt Fraction again. I asked him a few questions about writing comics – how he is able to separate all of the voices from one another (ie. How Pixie uses magic but doesn’t come off as Asgardian). But he also said that some voices he couldn’t get, so he didn’t use them – which is his reason to why Storm hardly ever spoke during his run on Uncanny X-Men.

I then asked him some general writing questions and re-mentioned I was an aspiring writer. There, Fraction looked me in the eyes and gave me incredible advice for literally, the next five minutes. He was very involved in telling me the “do’s and don’ts” as well as touching base with his own past experiences – struggling to get started and now working with a wife, mortgage and two children. But the way he spoke to me, it was if he was teaching me how to write. He was very emotive about how his writing process works and what I could do to succeed. It absolutely floored me. I stood there, absorbing every word he said as it was so profound to my ears. And no, I will not repeat it. 🙂 When he was done, I had nothing else but great thanks and appreciation his way.

After I shook his hand, I walked away from the table and pulled out my notebook to write down everything he just said to me. Yes, it was that important to me.

Since it was now Friday, new creators were down Artists Alley to meet. Artist Alex Maleev (Moon Knight, Scarlet, Daredevil) was consistently doing commission work at his table – and always surrounded by an audience. I walked by his table about four times, and each time he was doing something different. Here is Maleev working on an Elektra:

Elektra Maleev

Passing Maleev, I met Stuart Immonen (Fear Itself, New Avengers, Superman). As if Cheung and Van Lente weren’t enough, Immonen was intense and graciously happy to be doing what he is doing. I cannot remember what I asked him unfortunately, however, the panel I saw him at shortly after was pretty darn fun.

When 3:00pm rolled around, I got in line for Chris Claremont which was already about thirty people long. His signing was at 3:30pm. Next to him were artists Kalman Andrasofszky (X-23, NYX) and Dale Keown (Incredible Hulk). I spoke with Dale very briefly and thanked him for being an inspiration to my drawing. I told him how I re-created a cover of his and how it got me back into drawing again and he was beyond-happy to hear that. Then came Chris Claremont.

Claremont Keown Andrasofszky

From left to right: Claremont, Keown, and Andrasofszky.

Meeting Chris was pretty exciting. I heard stories that he was a bit rude at times, but I was giving him the benefit of the doubt today. He signed my copies of Uncanny X-Men #95, #107, #109, #120, #137, #141 and #142. I asked him how he came up with the ending of the Dark Phoenix Saga and what made him decide that Jean Grey should die (as killing off a main character was unheard of back then). He gave me quite the long answer which left me satisfied. After he was done, I asked if I could get a picture with him. He said, “Sure” and I stood beside him. As I did, he grabbed the next person in lines stack of books (the ENTIRE run of X-Men Forever) and started signing them. I posed and saw in my peripherals that he hadn’t looked up. Maybe he hadn’t heard me? I asked again if I could get a photo with him. He said, “Sure,” and so I stood beside him waiting. Alas, he didn’t look up. My result:

Claremont UncannyDerek

I suppose I should have expected that.

During my line up for Claremont, a panel with Matt Fraction, Kelly DeConnick, and Stuart and Kathryn Immonen had started called “Couples in Comics.” I arrived about twenty minutes late, so I unfortunately missed who the other folk were (I can’t know EVERYONE in the comic business). The room was partly filled – which is a shame because the panel was great. Not only did everyone speak about how they work in the business together, but Fraction and Stuart both spoke about how it was to be partners. There, Stuart said how he usually doesn’t read the dialogue to what is said in the scripts – but rather, draws the actions instead. Kelly Sue was blown away by the statement, while Fraction seemed a bit shocked over it. However, Kathryn stepped in and said that Stuart was being a bit overzealous in that statement, leaving the room with a ton of laughs. It was a really fun and exciting panel to be at. I wish I had just seen the whole thing though.

Fraction DeConnick Immonen

From left to right: Fraction, DeConnick, Stuart and Kathryn Immonen.

After the panel, I decided to see the final artist I would meet for the day: Leonard Kirk (New Mutants, Sigil). He was busy working on commissions too, and unfortunately had very little time to talk. I wished to get a commission out of him, but he was backed up and I was on my last day there. Boo-urns. However, it is still great to see a local resident here work for Marvel. It’s still pretty neat.

FanExpo was one excellent adventure this year. For only going for two days, I accomplished quite a bit. I did miss out on Mark Brooks and Dale Eaglesham – who were on my “to see” list, and I missed out on a few panels. However, the information and encouragement I left with made all the difference.

Until next time, keep on Space Truckin’!

Comics!

X-Men 95 Signed Claremont

“Almost therreeee. . .”

Last time I heard someone say that, they blew up over Yavin. . .

I haven’t really drawn in a long time. I completely forgot how elated it made me feel. Until I went to FanExpo in Toronto this year, I was completely unsure on how well being a comic book artist or writer could be. I mean, I’m just a University graduate with a writing degree who can draw mediocre pictures with some elaborate stories. (I’m giving myself that!)

I have recently been motivated to get a drawing board and actually work-out my thoughts and drawings. Heck, even if the drawings are garbage to others, at least I’ve conveyed the message of the comics through some sort of imagery.

Drawing Board

That motivation really didn’t strike me until I met Leonard Kirk for the second time (the first being a convention earlier last year). And only then did I realize how realistic and possible it was to “move up” writing comics.

Although he is a native American, he moved to my hometown when he was six and lived here ever since. How do I know? I chatted it up with him. Needless to say, he grew up in my neighborhood his whole life, and surprisingly, he draws for Marvel!

During the Dark Reign storyline, he did the Dark X-Men series, and now he is currently working on New Mutants, starting on issue #15 here.

The fact that I was just talking to a home-towner, and I greatly appreciated his work – it blew me away! I can say I’ve now pretty much idolized the man.

The other day, I read up on ComicsBeat that New Mutants #15 sold over 35,000 copies! That’s from a local artist! Mr. Kirk also told me about how drawing works within Marvel, and showed me some of his art catalog.

The moral of the story is that no matter what, you’re almost there. You just need to stick to it. And I guess also to not lose your starboard engine and crash into the Death Star.

Back to the drawing board!

Keep on Space Truckin’.