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.
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!
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.
I’ve been working my butt off. Isn’t that enough?!
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)
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?”
“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.
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?
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:
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
Yesterday, as I mentioned in an earlier blog, I was off to Toronto for the ComicCon held at the Convention Center.
Needless to say, I had a great time and fun was presumably had by all.
Numerous vendors set up with fantastic deals for comics of all-sorts. Not to mention, artists such as Jamal Igle from Supergirl, and Alex Milne from Transformers were there. Although I never did introduce myself to them, it was awfully neat to see them sketch out various characters throughout the day. A lot of artists were also offering commissions. However, I opted out.
It was held in a fairly decent-sized room – enough for about three-hundred people to fit in some-what comfortably. I picked up around eighty back-issues, plus some nice rarities, such as She-Hulk #1, and X-Men #66 (the final issue of the series).
But that will bring me to why I titled this blog “lesson learned.”
Without mentioning any names, when I found X-Men #66, it literally was in great condition. The price was a bit steep, but I mean, it was really in great shape. It was in its plastic, boarded, and had three stickers on the plastic bag – on the top right. The stickers, about one inch in both width and height, were going down the bag. One said “Sal Buscema art,” the other, “Last Issue in Series,” and the final one with the price.
Given the quality of the comic and the price (which was pretty much on par with its quality), I decided to purchase it. I went up to the dealer and he told me, “I just got this book recently. It’s a great book (as I’m sure all the dealers say) and I’ll give it to you for a good price.” Needless to say, he gave me the book for half of what the sticker price was. I figured it was a great deal. So I enjoyed the rest of the con.
Getting home, I of course, peeled off the stickers on the plastic. Unbeknown to me though, was that they were covering some “irregularities” on the cover. The top right cover of the book was torn and taped back together by scotch tape. Although it wasn’t too noticeable, it would explain the discount I was given.
Admittedly, had I of known about the damage, I would have still purchased the book. Also, the dealer clearly knew of the problem, and saved himself grief later on by giving me a discount.
What the lesson I learned was is check comics before you buy!
I usually do, however, I have no excuse for this one. I was also lucky to get a “deal” with it – while others may not be so fortunate. So I came up with a few guidelines which others, including myself, should follow.
– Do not hesitate to open up the comic package and look over.
– If you’re nervous about damaging the comic yourself, go ahead and ask the dealer if you can. I’ve been to enough conventions to know that they will be more-than-happy to show you the comic, plus talk about the history of the book.
– Check price guides! A website I have linked on my blog to the right here, Comics Price Guide, is a great source of prices for comics. That is to say, print off a list of what you want, and when you see it, judge the quality for the price. I know I paid the right price for my “damaged” issue of X-Men #66, so I am not too upset about the problem. Regardless, I had a price guide with me to know when a comic was too over-priced.
– Do not just look at one dealer. Often times, you can find the same book of equal or even better quality – cheaper – than where you first saw it. Scour the con grounds first, then buy!