Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Comic Con 2011 - Report PT 2 - Notes added


I dig the Jughead and Archie masks

I also dig that these comics are still in print

My favorite costume of the show - complete with coconuts!

Some of the magical Hall H crowd

6000+ fans fill Hall H
The panel for Fright Night was good, largely buoyed by an engaging cast. They also showed a bunch of clips and a few of them were quite intense and scary - but also funny at the same time - like the  original.

The Sony panel started with a 'behind the scenes' short film from Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance that featured the directors doing all kinds of crazy crap like filming on roller blades at 60 mph.

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

Johnny Whitworth, Idris Elba, Nicholas Cage

Next was 30 Minutes or Less, from the director of Zombieland. Funny cast and funny panel. Aziz Ansari is hilarious.

30 Minutes or Less Cast - Nick Swardson, Michael Peña, Aziz Ansari

After 30 Minutes was Total Recall. The clip was awesome and the panel confirmed (after seeing Colin Farrell in the Fright Night panel as well) that Colin Farrell is funny, witting, charming and smart in addition to being a great action hero. I think the whole cast is terrific and I am really looking forward to this SF action film.

Total Recall - Kate Beckinsale, Len Wiseman, Jessica Biel, Colin Farrell, Bryan Cranston, John Cho
Last for Sony was The Amazing Spider-Man. This was a great panel that started off a bit rough with a fan at the mic asking questions even before the panel was introduced. Ralph Garmin (funny, funny guy) was the Sony moderator and tried to get the guy off the mic. The audience mic light came up and a guy in a dime store spidey suit just kept talking about how he had never been to comic-con before and that he was Spidey for Halloween when he was 2 and that he loved Spider-Man. Ralph tried to get him to leave, but the guy kept going. It was a bit uncomfortable until the kid pulled off his mask. It was Andrew Garfield and the crowd went NUTS!

There were 2 more clips - one with a bit of story and one that introduced the Lizard and showed a couple of shots of the baddie. The animation and skin texture is amazing.

The Lizard (Rhys Ifans) arrives at the Amazing Spider-Man panel.

Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone
Then it was back to the main part of the convention...

Some hack pulp author by the Total Recall hover car

Baby Joker - My favorite Joker at the con...

Along with Artist's Alley, the Indy Publisher area is a big favorite. Every year I walk the aisles and buy a few books from the folks that have manages to get their books written and drawn and printed - often they are their own publishers. I'll give some of my favorites a "Pulp of the Week" shout out in the weeks ahead.

Part 3 tomorrow

Monday, July 25, 2011

Comic Con 2011 - Way Overdue Report PT 1


Wow. Another San Diego Comic Con has come and gone. The young crowd continues to swell its ranks to dominance. Artist Alley was packed and the panels were full. The 6000+ seat Hall H continued to hold full events by the movie and tv studios. This report is by no means chronological, but the pictures are...

R2 serves up the drinks!

While the costumes were out in force - the studios were only partly there - with Captain America out that weekend, there was no panel for that or any other Marvel movie except Ghostrider: Spirit of Vengeance. The directors of that are most likely insane. In a good way. For us anyway; it may get them killed. Seriously. They were rollerblading down mountain roads at high speed holding onto the back of a motorcycle with one hand and a camera with the other. 

The Sony panel also had a very funny presentation for 30 Minutes or Less.
One of the panels that I was most looking forward to was the one for The Last Airbender: The Legend of Korra.

I missed the panel by a mere 20 people (in a 2000 seat hall). But thanks to the magic of youtube, we can see and hear that panel. You can watch the gorgeous trailer here. Someone has also posted the entire panel in a series of parts beginning here.

The exhibit hall did not seem as crowded to me as in years past, with the exceptions of Wednesday's preview night which was packed, and Sunday, which was also packed.

I was very encouraged by the number of people spending a lot of time in Artist's Alley. Strolling the aisles is one of my favorite parts of the Con. I got a few nice sketches, including a beauty of Samaritan by Brent Anderson.
The Exhibit hall is a massive emporium of wonders catering to tastes of all kinds. Here is a tiny sampling of the things that caught my eye - both the odd and the awesome.

Gaming - Wizards of the Coast had a small D&D booth - they used to have a huge presence...

Wizkids also had a tiny space - I don't dare call it a booth - it was literally a cabinet. The guy there was great and the figures looked good. They also had Gears of War and Halo. I'll get pics of those at Gencon...

There are no figs in the Hunger Games game... That license is going to be a very good one for Wizkids after the movies come out...

More tomorrow...

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Pulp of the Week - Mystery Men with David Liss interview


Mystery Men #1 and #2 of 5
Written by David Liss
Art by Patrick Zircher
Published by Marvel Comics

DC comics made a big splash when the First Wave Universe premiered. They were making pulp comics in a new way. Not set in the past, not set in the DC Universe, but set in their own universe. They hyped it as cel phones and airships. What they created, combining pieces of the past—Doc Savage, the Avenger, The Spirit—with non-super-powered DC characters like Batman and the Blackhawks, was a failed mess. In most of the books the world seemed just like our own except for an extra airship or two. The best book was the Spirit, but even Spirit fans didn't seem to love it.

Now Marvel has taken a stab at New Pulp and I think they are on to something great. Mystery Men takes place in New York in the regular Marvel Universe in 1932. As far as I know, this is the earliest a series has been set in the MU. The heroes (thus far) are not super-powered. The villain, however, is another story. He exudes occult mystical powers.

Mystery Men follows a millionaire playboy with a Robin Hood complex. He puts on a mask and calls himself the Operative. The Operative is trying to unravel a criminal conspiracy among the New York elite that is led by a frightening occult powered character called the General. The Operative is trying to find a killer.

Also involved in the case is another masked hero, the Revenant. He looks a bit like Moonknight and acts like the Shadow. He seems to have gotten the corrupt NYPD on his case and after crossing paths with the Operative, he decides they should work together.

The Operative doesn't want the help and the fact that the Revenant is black doesn't make it any easier, but we know they're getting together. Issue #2 introduces the Rockettrix (not her real name, but the best description) with ties to the murder.

David Liss has nicely tied together a trio of pulp characters that I want to see more of. The story is good so far and the characters are charming, crude, tough, fascinating, and believable. I like the book a lot so far. Hopefully sales will be good enough to have the title continue.

I haven't mentioned the art yet. The art is GREAT. Patrick Zircher's style feels right for the period, but is modern at the same time. The entire first issue is done with horizontal panels, giving it a very cinematic style. The art is clear and direct and reminds me a little bit of Steve Bryant (Athena Voltaire). That is a compliment, by the way.

The second issue continues with the horizontal panels, but does break them up a bit. The colors by Andy Troy are also excellent, clean and subdued, but with color motifs to help define locations.

The final page of each issue so far has been an essay. Issue One's article is by the writer, David Liss, and he discusses the thrill of adding to the beginning of the Marvel canon. He relates how he decided that the social issues of the 1930s would not be glossed over—that racism, sexism, poverty, and worker's rights would play a part in the narrative. They do, and I think he has used them in his story well.

In the second issue, artist Patrick Zircher discusses the design path of the character's looks.

I really hope these essays continue.

Go out and buy this great bit of New Pulp, you won't be disappointed.

Interview with David Liss

The first two issues of Mystery Men are out and they are terrific. The essay at the back of the first issue tells a bit about the genesis of the project, but I was wondering about your background with pulp and the history of the 1930s. Had you studied the era or was this an excuse to do just that?
It really was more of an excuse to learn about the 1930s.  Over the years I've read various things from and about the period, and, of course, there are films.  Like anyone who enjoys comics, I have always found a lot to love in the pulp era, but this was my first serious creative engagement with the period. 

Have you read much original pulp of the era? If so, what titles or characters are you familiar with?
I've read a lot of pulp crime over the years, and I've read most of Robert E. Howard's Conan stories.  I have not actually read that much of the primary heroic pulp, though I have read the original stories of some characters like Doc Savage and the Spider.  And then, of course, many of these characters have ongoing legacies in comics and other media that I've read.

Are you aware of the "New Pulp" movement - contemporary authors writing new stories set in the classic pulp era?
Yes, I have several friends who have contributed to some of these new pulp anthologies, and I have another new pulp project of my own in the works, though I can't yet talk about it.  I love the revival. 

So far it seems that the 3 main characters - The Operative, The Revenant, and Sarah Starr have no innate super-powers. The villains do. Will we be seeing super-powered heroes in Mystery Men?
Hmm.  Best to stay away from spoilers, but I will say that the amulet the General is after is packed with all kinds of surprises. 

How did you go from writing historical mystery novels to comics?
I was asked!  Marvel editor, and pulp-enthusiast, Bill Rosemann read one of my books and contacted me to ask if I liked comics and would I be interested in writing them.  The answer was yes & yes.  My first project for Marvel featured the pulp hero, the Phantom Reporter.

Are you a long time comics reader or are you new to the genre?
I was away from comics for the period of time I was in graduate school, when I lacked the time and money for comics -- or just about any leisure activity -- but otherwise I'm a lifelong fan. 

What titles or characters are your favorites?
Some of my long-time faves include Daredevil, Spider-Man, Punisher, Captain America, Batman, Superman, Legion of Super-Heroes & Martian Manhunter, but I've always followed the story more than the character.  My investment has always been less in titles and individual heroes than which creators are putting together good comics, so I'll read just about anything with a cool story. 

What writers or artists excite you?
On the writing side, these days my favorite creators are probably Robert Kirkman, Mark Millar, Brian Bendis and Ed Brubaker.  I feel like I've been very lucky, because in my projects at Marvel I've been paired with some of the best artists out there.  Francesco Francavilla and Jefte Palo, who have been doing the art for Black Panther, are both fantastic.  And then, of course, there's Patrick Zircher's phenomenal work on Mystery Men.  In terms of detail and beauty, as well as art that advances character and story, Patrick's work on this book is about as good as it gets.