Hey, gang. As I’m sure you know by now, Boston Comic Con was in fact forced to cancel at the last minute, due to the manhunt that took place in Boston and the neighboring area on Friday. My understanding is that the organizers of the con are hoping to be able to reschedule, and ask for everyone’s patience and understanding as they work toward this. On the bright side, many guests of the con who had already flown in wound up at various other sites on Saturday, such as Comicazi, signing and sketching for free. I wasn’t able to go to any of these, but I hope some of you did—if you were there and feel like writing to me about how it was, drop me a line and I’ll post your thoughts on the blog.
Some quick updates on what’s happening in my world:
Attended: PAX East, where I finally got to meet Brian, the delightful blogger of Bells’ Kitchen. He’s got a pretty fun overview of his experience at PAX over on his blog; go check it out!
Played: Injustice: Gods Among Us on the PS3. I’m about 85% of the way through Story Mode. Unfortunately at this point, I would not recommend spending the $60 for this title. While the gameplay itself isn’t bad, the story and overall delivery is some of the poorest I have ever come across in a video game. If you’re really intent on checking it out, give it a bit of time for the price to drop and just play Versus. I kind of wish I had taken those three hours playing this game over the weekend and spent them reading comics instead.
Currently Reading: Hawkguy, catching up on Fables trades, and my usual round of weekly webcomics. If you aren’t reading JL8, you’re missing out something huge. Also just picked up A Song of Ice and Fire paperbacks and hope to start making my way through those, because I’m …
… Watching: Game of Thrones. Obsessively.
Working on: My next post for CSBG; wedding planning; day job.
Speaking of which … back to work I go. ‘Til next time.
Hey there. I know I haven’t posted in a while, as work and wedding planning have taken over every aspect of my life. But I find myself completely unable to focus on much today; I finally remembered this poor, derelict blog, and decided I need to ramble a bit.
There isn’t much I can say about what happened yesterday other than to reiterate how tragic, disgusting, and outright awful it is. But Boston, New England, America in general are tough as nails and will endure. This is one of the wonderful things I have read today to counteract the sadness with some optimism. And keep in mind there is lots you can do to help. I hope all of you, your families, and friends are safe.
To relate this post back to comics, Boston Comic Con announced that they intend to move forward with the show as planned this weekend. A portion of proceeds from their art auction will be donated to the American Red Cross toward relief efforts, and I believe they will be accepting cash donations as well. Many creators have come out on Twitter and other social media platforms, voicing their support for the show. You can find a list of guests/attendees here; I was pleased to attend this show the past two years, and both were a great time. I plan on being there Saturday, so if you will be around and would like to say hello, please drop me a line and let me know.
One other minor note; in case you missed it, I have a couple of posts up on Comic Book Resources. More coming as soon as I have a free moment that is not occupied by picking out chair covers or licking envelopes.
Hope to see some of you this weekend.
Much love and stay safe.
You may remember when I confessed my disappointment upon meeting Clay Mann during Boston Comic Con a few months ago. I didn’t go into any detail other than to say that I walked away feeling let down, and left it there. But as it turns out, and as anyone smarter than me could evidently have told you, there’s not much you can say on the Internet that won’t eventually be discovered. As such, Clay Mann found me. And he messaged me. And he apologized. It was extraordinarily kind—not to mention unexpected—and has certainly given me a much different perspective on the experience I had. And I just wanted to share that with you all, because he’s a stand-up guy, and doesn’t deserve to be thought of otherwise due to something I may have written here.
You may or may not know that Clay is working on a new Gambit title that was announced recently. And while Gambit is far from being one of my favorite characters (I’m probably in the fangirl minority there), I’ll still give this book a shot, because one of its creators was kind enough to reach out to a disheartened fan. That should mean a lot.
Oh, man. Hello, all! Hello, home computer! I’ve missed you so! By now I’m sure my usual “I’m so busy, oh my God, I never have time, what is the meaning of life if I can’t read comics, I’m trying to post more I SWEAR” rant has gotten insanely old. So let’s just skip right on over that.
I’ve been wanting to talk about Boston Comic Con for weeks. I went several Saturdays ago, and it was a blast. Even better than last year, and so much fun despite a much larger crowd. First things first—a huge thank you to the organizers who put this on, as they continue to outdo themselves year after year—and congrats for knocking it out of the park. Last year was awesome, this year was amazing. My expectations are already set for 2013.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Here’s the skinny.
For me, comics shows are more about getting to meet creators and interact with people, and less about scrounging for merchandise or sitting in panels. I got to meet Jeremy Bastian, Katie Cook, Phil Noto, Jimmy Cheung, Peter Nguyen, Clay Mann, and Cliff Chiang, among a bunch of other people, and some I didn’t get the chance to talk to, like Scottie Young and Stephanie Buscema, whom I’m so sad to have missed. Then there’s the few people bowed out—like Brian Azzarello, Amanda Conner, and Phil Jimenez, but that’s okay because it was still amazing even without them. I probably wouldn’t have known what to say to Brian Azzarello anyway—the guy seems like he’d be kind of intimidating in person. And meeting Amanda Conner might have easily charmed me enough to crack my moral conviction not to purchase Before Watchmen, so … you know, at least I’ve still got that going.
At this point I honestly can’t remember what booths I went to or who I met in what order, so I’m just gonna run through this thing.
Jeremy Bastian! He was awesome and super nice in person. I bought a sketchbook from him and he gave me a free pin with the Cursed Pirate Girl on it. I told him how much I loved the first volume and wondered about the second, and he said it was still unfortunately a ways off—which, considering how incredibly detailed his art is, doesn’t bother me one bit. I would wait forever for him, his stuff is that stunning. He pulled out a portfolio and showed me some finished pages (which look awesome!), and I was totally flattered that he even let me see. I told him I was very excited for more Cursed Pirate Girl and he seemed genuinely thankful. And he’s so humble. He’s a totally cool guy. Guests like him make the con.
Katie Cook’s table was beside Jeremy’s, and she is equally as nice and super funny. She was cracking jokes at her own expense left and right. She is
hilarious on Twitter and I told her so—yeah, I kind of gushed. I’m a fangirl, I can’t help it. I told her how much I love Gronk, and I bought a copy of the book from her which collects the first volume of Gronk strips in color. She was also doing these little playing-card-sized watercolor sketches of various characters, and I grabbed one with Robin on it that says “Sidekick” with him looking all sad. It’s SO CUTE and might be my favorite thing I got at the con, which is saying something.
Clay Mann. I can’t begin to say how excited I was to meet him; his art, specifically his X-Men, more specifically his Rogue, has been a favorite of mine. Knowing he was a guest was a major part of the reason why I went to the con at all despite being in the middle of a move. I put a stop to my schedule and came out to see this artist, because he took the time out to come see us. I thought it would be amazing to get a sketch and tell him what his work has meant to me.
We met. It was disappointing.
Actually, it was kind of devastating. I debated whether or not I wanted to get into specifics here, but in the end, I’m not going to badmouth the guy. I walked away from his table feeling pretty sad. Not all creators treat their fans the same. I’ll leave it at that.
So at this point I’m walking around still trying to process the … experience I just had. And I was sad. And I wondered if I was just completely wasting my time there.
That was until Phil Noto. Oh my goodness, Phil Noto. Stan Sakai has a rep for being the nicest guy in comics, but I’m thinking Phil Noto could give him a run for his money, and I totally gushed over him. I praised his wonderful X-23 work, and mentioned how I had the chance to meet Marjorie Liu a couple of months earlier, and how she had nothing but wonderful things to say about him. I was DYING for a commission from him, but his list was full. He asked if I was going to be there Sunday, and unfortunately I wasn’t, so I couldn’t get anything from him. I told him I’d buy a print instead in that case (he had this gorgeous one on the table), and as I grabbed my wallet he was like “No, don’t worry about it, you can have it.” He felt bad that he couldn’t get me a sketch and so gave me the print for free. I was so touched and happy and amazed, and just … couldn’t believe he did that, it was so sweet. I thanked him profusely. He also signed an issue of Birds of Prey I’d brought with me from way back when, and drew a little Oracle on the corner of the cover. He is the awesomest dude ever and I am even more in love with him than before. LOVE. He made up for my experience with Clay Mann tenfold. Clay Mann? Who, what?
Next up, Cliff Chiang. His commission list was also maxed out. Apparently it got full within fifteen minutes of the start of the con—no chance. I bought a print from him as well, chatted a very small bit, and that was it. He looked incredibly busy and as a huge line was forming behind me, I didn’t hang out for long. Very nice guy, though. I admitted to him that the current Wonder Woman has been difficult for me to follow, but he asked me to stick with it, and I said I would for the time being. He’s kind of hard to say no to—his art, and his Wonder Woman, are beautiful to me.
Jimmy Cheung. Commission list: full. Another miss, but I had him sign a Young Avengers trade for me as well as the first issue of Children’s Crusade. I asked him if he was sick of drawing the Young Avengers yet, and he warmly said no and that he was happy to continue drawing them so long as they keep assigning him. He was very soft spoken and sweet, and had a lovely accent. He asked if I’d read all of Children’s Crusade and if I’d enjoyed it, which I told him I did tremendously. At which point my Fiancé decided to leap in and say something along the lines of “You should know how high a compliment that is, because she’s a harsh critic.” Jimmy was like “Is that true, are you tough?” and I must have turned red with embarrassment when I responded with … “Umm … no, I don’t think I’m that tough,” only to be further called out by Fiancé.
At the next table over to Jimmy was Peter Nguyen, who apparently listened to this whole exchange, because I looked over and saw him laughing. We spoke to him and his commission list was … OPEN! I got him to draw me a Batgirl, which was framed and hung up on a wall immediately upon arrival home. It’s beautiful. Peter was super nice and so cool and funny. Turned out he was going to be making his way to Worcester for a few days after the show, and we shared a laugh over his complete inability to pronounce “Worcester.” He was a very fun, completely adorable, totally cool guy. Fiancé also bought a gorgeous print from him of Zatanna and Black Canary (which I have already stolen). Thank you, Peter—the con wouldn’t have been the same without you.
The final bit I want to touch on is none other than the great guys over at Firetower Studios. As you all know, I have been a huge fan and unwavering supporter of one of their books, Princeless by Jeremy Whitley. Well, I had the opportunity to meet Jeremy Strutz, who illustrates another one of Firetower’s books called The Order of Dagonet, also written by Jeremy Whitley. As a thank you for my reviews, Jason did a wonderful Princeless commission for me, which you can see here. Jason is very kind and I enjoyed talking with him and looking through his sketchbook. He signed a copy of Dagonet for me, and then it was time for me to go. What a great ending to the con.
Of course, I have failed to mention many other great things about Boston Comic Con this year. For instance, there was a lot of fun cosplay—my favorites were Evey Hammond and V. I got to meet Renae de Liz, otherwise known as the woman behind Womanthology. The team at Nerd Caliber had a charity booth going for Child’s Play. And best of all, I got my picture taken with Batman.
What more could a fangirl want?
Um … so, it’s been what, a month? Yeah, sorry about that. Thanks to those of you who sent messages in my absence. Life has gotten sorely in the way of comics and blogging, though it hasn’t necessarily been a horrible break. Moving house, working hard, and other events have conspired to take me away from you, Sleepers, but I have every intent to rectify this. Starting with …
Will you be there this weekend? I’ll be in attendance on Saturday getting my ticket at the door, and I’m pumped. Look for a review of the event here in the following week. I also have some other goodies in store for you, including an analysis of area comic shops and a special guest post.
Keep your eyes open, and keep reading.
Yeah, that was pretty awesome.
So I went to this signing at Pandemonium Books in Cambridge last night. I found out about it kind of last-minute (good thing I finally signed up to Twitter) and was looking for someone to come with me, which no one did because my friends are lame and don’t like to drive out to Cambridge. Lucky for me, I happen to work in this lovely city, so I’m here every weekday whether I want to be or not. Last night was one of those rare occasions I actually wanted to be here. I mean, I even stayed at work for an extra half hour for the opportunity to meet Marjorie. That’s dedication (right?).
I got to Central Square and I basically had no idea where I was going. I’d never been to Pandemonium Books before, and for some reason I was expecting this gigantic, Borders-like book store, which could not be further from what I actually found. It’s a tiny little thing just around a corner off Mass Ave.—not bad tiny, but more like cozy tiny. Any That’s Entertainment Worcester customers who have come to the Fitchburg store will know what I mean. The ‘Burg is small, sure, but it gives you a nice “homey” feeling that the 10,000 square feet in Worcester just can’t. Pandemonium is much like this (although it appears they do have a good gaming space downstairs that I didn’t check out), and when I walked in, I was immediately greeted by the kind gentleman behind the counter who asked me if I was there for the signing.
I arrived incredibly early—the signing was at 7:00 and I’d gotten there at about 6:15, so I spent some time perusing the shelves and feeling a little awkward. A table of Marjorie’s books was set up in the middle of the floor, with a little over a dozen chairs lined up facing it. Let me reiterate—this place is small. It was a small setup. So while my brain was expecting some sort of grand assembly beforehand, when I walked in and realized we’d all be breathing down her neck, I admittedly got kind of nervous. I’m more of a “hang back” type of person when I go to these things—sit in the middle of the pack, keep quiet, and just wait to get up to the table to get my book signed. No nonstop chitchat from me, no hassling the creator—at most I may ask for a picture, but that’s as far as I go.
At quarter to 7:00 when it was just me and one other girl sitting there by ourselves (in the front row, no less), what I thought was panic but actually turned out to be excitement set in. I was admittedly concerned that no one else would show up for this thing—how terrible would that be? Well … I was concerned up until the point Marjorie walked in, immediately began talking to us, and offered to sign our books, that I relaxed a little and thought, yeah, this is completely awesome. Others did arrive, of course, but it was still a tight-knit group, and very relaxed atmosphere—so much so that I broke my “keep quiet” attitude and asked a couple of questions.
Marjorie is incredibly sweet, fun to talk to (and listen to), and totally easy going. She read a short excerpt from her new book, Within the Flames, and took Q&A about many topics, from her work with Marvel, to her novel writing, to her opinions on the DC reboot and whatever in between. (I totally meant to ask her about her poodles, too, and I forgot. Damn.) Honestly, some of the Marvel stuff was a little depressing—such as hearing that her pitch for an all-female team book consisting of She-Hulk, Elektra, and Mystique was shot down because it “won’t sell.” We all know Marvel and DC pander to teenage boys, but actually hearing that confirmed out loud by a creator leaves me kind of gutted. Luckily there are still plenty of good things to keep me happy and excited, such as Marjorie’s upcoming run on Astonishing X-Men. There were also plenty of other girls in the audience—girls who read comics and actually know what they’re talking about, and that’s always awesome. We aren’t as rare as you might think.
At the end, I shook Marjorie’s hand and thanked her for taking the time to speak with us. She sincerely thanked me for coming out, and I hopped out of the store to catch my late train home, quite tired but very happy.
And then the weirdest thing happened this morning (thank you, again, Twitter).
Apparently, none other than Mister Junot Diaz had been present in the audience with us last night. I remember looking at him as he asked questions, thinking to myself that I’d surely seen him somewhere before… hmm… he’s sooooooo familiar? Well, it turns out it was Mr. Diaz—a fact I only knew from reading my Twitter feed this morning where everyone basically had the same MIND BLOWN reaction I had. Jesus—this man’s books were practically my college curriculum. Fiesta 1980 is one of my all time favorite short stories. Dude was in the same room with me all night and I had no clue. The event was already awesome on its own, and I’d woken up this morning still floating a little from the high it gave me—to read about that just took it to another level. Two for the price of one.
A great night.
I guess my Monday deadline somehow morphed into Thursday….
Hello, readers. Guess what? I read some books! And I have opinions about them! Shocker, I know. Also, I totally lied with half those covers I posted last week. Sorry about that.
I’m sad. :(
I’m sad because I really want to like this title. I really, really do. But it’s so … it’s so … I don’t know how to explain why it isn’t working for me. I guess, when it comes down to it, honestly … it doesn’t feel like Barbara. It just doesn’t feel like her to me. This new role of hers, it’s so … “forced” is the best word I can think of to describe it. It’s not Barbara—not the one I know—and that’s kind of shocking considering that Barbara Gordon is Gail Simone’s bread and butter. If anyone at all understands that character, it’s Gail—they’re practically interchangeable. Yet, as much as I want this to succeed, it just isn’t firing for me.
I wish I could explain it better … it’s just not right. It doesn’t feel right. And the writing style … there’s so much narration. That worked in Gail’s Birds of Prey when you needed the POVs of several characters, but it’s not clicking here. There’s too much of it; there’s too much telling and not enough showing. It’s so flat, and I … I don’t know how much more of this I can back. And that makes me so, so sad.
You know what else? I have read this story before. I think that’s what’s really bothering me more than anything here, is that it still feels like we’re going backwards. Which, we are—literally, we’re dialing back the clock in terms of character ages and whatnot, but I also mean to say that we’re going backwards allegorically. The stories and the progressions of these characters have taken giant steps downward. This idea of a character called Batgirl finding her footing—I have read this before. I read it in Bryan Q. Miller’s Batgirl run, and I even read it in Chuck Dixon’s Batgirl: Year One. Why am I reading it again? I’m not getting anything different this time, not one bit. Barbara healing and regaining use of her legs is only influencing this story on a very minor level—it isn’t enough to make these issues feel fresh or different. This issue was all about reuniting Batgirl and Nightwing. I should have been moved by it, but I wasn’t. Not even close. I put this book down, blinked a few times, and wondered what was wrong with me for leaving it feeling absolutely nothing.
So … what does one do in this situation? Do I keep reading this in the hope that once the groundwork is laid and some of the setup “fluff” is out of the way, I might have a more interesting story? Might I feel more for this character by issue #13, as opposed to issue #3, and is it even fair to have to wait that long? Ardian Syaf’s artwork has been great. Other than that, I haven’t got much. A part of me doesn’t want to give up on the title, because I do love Barbara and this is apparently the only Barbara that I’m going to get for the foreseeable future. I also have a certain level of faith and respect for Simone, and I want to be able to lean on that. But with every issue of this so far, I’ve only left feeling disappointment. And I never thought I’d say that.
…And with that, an interesting idea turns into utter horse poop, as Nick Spencer fills this issue with preachy drivel and a needlessly despicable downturn that I guess is meant to be humor. Biggest waste of $3.50. To say I was mortified while reading this on the train is a massive understatement. And to top things off, I read the solicit for #4 to find it isn’t even due on the shelves until April. Buhbye; I’m OUT.
I was a little worried when this was first solicited, because with a title like “Not a Hero,” my immediate thoughts were that they were turning Magneto into a villain again. That would be the worst thing you could do to the character in my opinion, and just as bad a regression as Barbara Gordon re-donning the Bat cowl. Magneto has grown by leaps and bounds in the last few years, and I’ve always enjoyed him as a villain, but I find I love him even more on the side of the angels. His presence is still so very grey—he’s so ambiguous, and in the hands of a writer who knows how to use it, that’s an invaluable quality. And so I shook my fist at the sky for a bit at the thought that this wonderful drama might be taken away for something as utterly boring as Magneto turning “bad” again. Happily, upon reading this issue, I find that this is not the case. Not yet, anyway.
Our introduction to this story centers around what is something of a storytelling cliché—Magneto is being framed for murder. Exciting, right? Bet you’ve never read anything like that before. It’s okay, though, because there are things here that make up for the questionable originality, and by the end of issue one, we can see that ultimately the story is going to deal with much more than who’s framing Magneto. I have to hand it to Skottie Young—everyone knows him for his great artistic talents, but he’s making a transition to writing here, and he’s not doing a bad job of it at all. It most certainly beats out a majority of the crap you see on the Marvel shelves these days, and rather easily at that. Young has a good handle on the characters in issue one, particularly in a scene that involves Captain America and Iron Man calling out Cyclops and Mags to get their act together. The cliffhanger reveal at the end—I really should have seen it coming. I can’t believe I didn’t. It’s some good stuff.
And Clay Mann on art duties … wow. What can I possibly say to do this guy justice? In a short couple of years, he’s hands-down become one of my favorites, and every book he’s on makes me drool a little bit. He’s wonderful. He’s coming to Boston Comic Con next year, and I am getting a sketch from him if I have to wait in line all weekend. Outstanding.
Did this book blow my mind? No, but it did some things well, did other things great, and was all around an enjoyable read. I wasn’t asking for much more than that.
More happiness! Have you seen this little bit of WIN called Princeless #1? Well if you haven’t, then you’re sorely missing out.
It’s soooooo great. It’s so great. I remember reading about this on the internet somewhere and I wasn’t really planning on checking it out, but then I found it on the shelf and read the first three pages and was like OH MY GOD, THIS IS SO WONDERFUL. Three pages—that’s all it took. And, you know, that’s kind of a big deal in a situation where you’re paying four bucks for a book when you weren’t anticipating having the expense at all. But this was so worth it, and I absolutely can’t wait to have the next issue in my hands.
This is a story about a princess named Adrienne who grows up being read stories about other princesses who get locked up in towers and have to be rescued by handsome princes who slay dragons and ultimately win the princesses’ hearts. Adrienne is baffled and outraged by this idea, criticizing and belittling the stories, and makes her mother promise her not to lock her up in a tower, only … of course you know that’s exactly what happens, right? The resulting scenario is nothing short of hilarious, adorable, brave, and pretty much unlike anything else on the comic racks right now. Whitley’s writing is beyond clever, and I found myself laughing at something on every page of the book. It’s smart enough for adults to enjoy, yet still written with a young audience in mind. This is exactly the type of thing you should be giving to the little girls in your life. Introduce them to comics now, with this. And actually, I take that back—it isn’t just for little girls; not even close. Adrienne is not the only character in this book—don’t let the “princess” thing fool you. Boys will enjoy this as well, and I encourage you to pick it up to find out why.
If I could get you to read one book and only one book this week, I would give you Princeless #1, and I wouldn’t even blink.
Since the debut of this title, I’ve had nothing but praise for Uncanny X-Force and Rick Remender. That hasn’t changed yet, and I don’t see it on horizon any time soon. Just when I think the story has reached a plateau and couldn’t possibly get any better, another issue comes out and BAM—I’m smacked in the face with the awesome.
The problem with loving a book this much is that it makes it insanely difficult to review. When you have no criticisms, there isn’t much left to say beyond shameless, unabashed gushing. And you have to admit, that’s kind of boring to read.
But I literally have nothing bad to say. There is nothing I would change about this book—not a thing. Not the writing, not the pencils, not the pacing, not the colors. Well … I suppose I might change the price … and maybe I’d make it ship twice a month, because I can’t get enough of it. But that’s all. Not much to ask.
If you’ve been subbing to this title, you know that Remender has been building up the Dark Angel Saga for quite some time—since day one, in fact. It’s some of the most well-timed and patient writing I’ve seen in recent memory. The thing I love about this book is that when I pick up an issue, I can tell that Remender has taken his time with it. He isn’t writing with collected editions in mind or decompressing the story, as one might accuse of Bendis’ Avengers titles. No; there’s a level of thought and care and precision to what Remender does, and it comes through in his scenes and character interplay. It’s harmonious. It’s a melody to which I never want to stop listening. If even a quarter of the other books Marvel puts out demonstrated this much attention to their craft, I’d be a much happier comics reader.
Jerome Opeña on art is no different. You look at these pages, and you know instantly that these babies were not rushed to meet looming deadlines. Opeña is careful, crafty, and deliberate, and the results are a joy.
On the surface, this is a black ops book. It’s assassinations and unspeakable deeds; it’s an X-Men book that’s not very X-Men-like. But read deeper, and you know these characters are about much more than that. This isn’t just about taking out threats before they become threats; this is a story of addiction, inferiority, self-worth and self-hate, fear and perceived altruism … and so much more. But Remender lets you figure that out for yourself; it’s underlying, and he doesn’t beat you over the head with it. I love that. The mark of a good writer.
Big changes are coming up for this team, and I can’t wait to find out what Remender has planned for the next year of this book. Best one on the X-shelf.
Hey, y’all. I haven’t gotten my comics in a couple of weeks, so I’m a little behind in the reviews. I should have some Flashpoint stuff up by next week, if all goes well. In the meantime, we were in a stalemate in the poll results until someone pushed option number two over the bump into a total of four votes and gave it the lead. Looks like I’ll be picking up some DC books in September, per your requests. That said, I am a little surprised that only eight of you voted—given that I know how many page views I’m getting per week, that’s a pretty low number. Oh well. Eight of you have spoken, and I shall listen!
Did anyone see Green Lantern last weekend? I’m hearing some bad reactions to it but I haven’t gotten to the cinema yet. I wonder if this is one that’s better left for the Netflix queue?
In other news, I hope you all checked out the comics article on boston.com today. Worth a read.
Some sad information I’m sure you’ve all heard by now—R.I.P., Gene Colan. If any of you have “Liked” the That’s Entertainment Facebook page, you’ll find a note posted from manager Ken that’s a lovely testament to what a nice guy Mr. Colan was.
That’s all I got for now. Until next week….
Oh, man! So fun! I hope you all went. Did you all go? Let’s have a somewhat-belated rundown!
I basically roped the Boyfriend, along with one of my best friends, into going to this maybe somewhat against their better judgment. We are talking full-out, uncensored geek mode for this one. I’m pretty sure I got on their nerves/surprised them/scared them a little bit, but I’ll get into that shortly. First thing’s first.
Much to Boyfriend’s aggravation, we arrived at the Hynes Convention Center about an hour later than we planned (I’m sorry, it was Saturday, I wanted to sleep in). It was noontime when we finally got there, and I couldn’t help but notice the EXTREME emptiness upon hitting the main entrance inside the Prudential. In comparison to Anime Boston the very weekend before, where scary cosplayers were spilling out into the streets and commandeering every Dunkin Donuts within a ten mile radius, getting into Comic Con was a cakewalk. We could hear our footsteps clanking on the tile and echoing as we walked down the main hallway to the convention floor, and I was admittedly pretty worried that it was going to be an empty house. I hadn’t been to this con before and didn’t know what to expect. Luckily, as we neared the ticket tables and got our entry wristbands, there were a lot more people around and mostly everyone was already inside on the con floor. There was a table of swag right by the door—DC pins and temporary tattoos, flyers, movie posters, coupons, etc. I snagged a couple of Wonder Woman pins … and thus geek mode was fully engaged.
Stage One Geekery: Unjustifiable Rage
The first vendor we encountered was a Newbury Comics stand, which I completely avoided and refused to support in any way. I was here for some serious comics, goddammit; not a music store parading itself otherwise. Newbury what? Honestly, guys, let’s not waste our time.
Eagerly bypassing that first table, we spied row after row of comic boxes spanning the entire con space. It was a comic book nerd’s dream come true. Boyfriend dug in like a rabid squirrel, burrowing under tables and getting his hands dirty with what had to have been decades-old dust. And as I worked my own way through boxes of back issues from vendor after vendor, I couldn’t help but feel the beginnings of some deep-seated rage. The Unwritten followed by Detective Comics followed by Uncanny X-Men followed by Mouse Guard?
“Why aren’t these in alphabetical order?” I said to Boyfriend, making no attempt to keep my voice down. “Or numerical for that matter. This is unacceptable.”
There were dozens of vendors all selling the same thing, and it was rare to come across one who had all their stuff in order for ease of access. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It was grotesque. No, it was insulting! And the hardcovers and trades were no better.
It got to the point where I didn’t want to browse anymore. “Do you have volume one of Gotham City Sirens?” I asked one seller. He didn’t know.
“Do you have Thor Sons of Asgard #1-6?” asked Boyfriend at another table, also tired of hunting. That seller also didn’t know what he had, and confessed that “These boxes were just thrown together by someone.” Another guy behind him was annoyed by the questions we dared ask. “Man, no one wants to dig anymore!” he complained.
Had I actually heard him say this, I would have argued back. No one wants to dig? I shouldn’t have to dig. I dig in my leisure time at comic shops; I don’t want to dig at a comics show where I only have limited time to enjoy the offerings. I expect everything to be laid out for me. It’s not about laziness; it’s about time and consumer power. It’s about showing respect to your customer by making it as easy as possible. When I want the chase, I know where to get it. It shouldn’t be here, particularly when the seller’s own lack of consideration is involved. It’s one thing when you’re talking unbagged .25 cent bins. It’s another when you’re looking for the better stuff. Needless to say, I didn’t buy anything from those guys.
I found my Gotham City Sirens vol.1 hardcover at a vendor the next row over—one of few who actually had their shit together—and I threw in a Daughters of the Dragon trade just for good measure.
Stage Two Geekery: Flaunting Your Geek Ego, i.e., “I Know More Than You”
Stage two is a brief, transitory stage, as most often you’ll find yourself knocked down a peg or two in a relatively short period of time. Think you know it all, do you? Think you deserve everything? Well there is inevitably an even bigger, more self-righteous nerd out there waiting to toss you out of this stage and make you snap back to reality.
My local comics shop/employer had a table of its own at the con, and where every other vendor brought mostly the same
stuff (back issues, back issues, back issues), the boys at the That’s Entertainment booth did it right with a variety of high-end comics, video games, toys, and the like. As we made our way through the vendor tables, I couldn’t help but turn into something of a snob.
“You should go to the That’s Entertainment table over there” I said to one guy at a different booth. “Yeah, we’re way better than these guys. Seriously, go talk to my buddy Chad, he’ll hook you up.” You’d think we were selling street drugs with the sinister way in which this was said. I’m not sure who exactly I thought I was in doing this, particularly in full earshot of our competition, but there you go.
This really isn’t the worse of it, though. My extreme comic shop loyalty aside, there are far greater displays of Geek Ego (“Geeko?”) than this. You see it in the complete stranger who butts into your conversation about how good the latest Heroes for Hire series is, just to tell you that you got it all wrong—the first trade isn’t due out until July, actually, and geez, this is nothing compared to old school Heroes for Hire. Power Man and Iron Fist is where it’s at, don’t you know?
Another example of Geek Ego is when a giant geek makes fun of their fellow geek. One of many laugh-out-loud moments at Boston Comic Con came while my friend and I were standing in line to see Frank Quitely. As we neared our turn in line, we noticed the guy in front of us snapping pictures on his iPhone of various people in costume.
“Hey, Sinestro!” he shouted as the nearby cosplayer posed. This was a White Lantern Sinestro, and the poor guy had some unfortunate “bunching” issues going on in the back of his leotard (Sinestro, if you’re reading this, I truly apologize but you had to have known it to be funny as hell). The guy in front of us took the photo, thanked Sinestro with a big smile, waited for him to walk away, then turned to us and drolled,
“That was the worst costume I’ve ever seen.”
It was all in the delivery, and admittedly, he had us howling with laughter.
Is it wrong to make fun of your fellow geek? Is there some sort of ladder of geek excellence, on which many fall to the lower rungs? I don’t proceed to take it that seriously, and truth is, I’m not opposed to being the subject of said mocking. In fact, I tend to bring it on myself. Speaking of Frank Quitely….
Stage Three Geekery: Making a Fool of Yourself
I’m pretty sure I terrified almost every creator I had the chance to speak with at the con. You might say I … “oversold it.” I wish I could remember what exactly it was that I’d said to Mr. Quitely that garnered the look of genuine, outright fear on his face, but I honestly don’t. I just remember feeling the need to explain how desperately happy I was to meet him and get him to sign my copy of Batman & Robin #1. We’d come by his table earlier in the day and found that he wasn’t there; a staff worker informed us that he wouldn’t be signing again until 5:00 pm that night. As we had to leave the convention center by 5:00, I was feeling pretty gutted—this was a “rare U.S. appearance” for him and I was really excited to get him to sign a book for me and one of my friends.
Having learned he wouldn’t be back and resigning myself to the idea I wouldn’t meet him, we left the convention center and headed into the Prudential to get some lunch at Wagamama. After indulging in a hearty bowl of chicken ramen and deciding that it pales in comparison to the Harvard Square Wagamama, we went back to make one final round on the con floor, all the while with me moping that I wouldn’t get to see Frank Quitely.
No sooner had my complaining subsided, that lo and behold, to my surprise, there was Frank Quitely back at his table and signing away! He’d apparently come back early and I begged some guy to let me cut him in line, as I only had two comics in hand and would surely be but a minute. He was kind enough to let us pass (I think he had a little crush on my friend and wouldn’t stop talking to her, which suited me just fine), and after about an hour, it was finally my turn in line. I walked up to the table, introduced myself, and apparently, said something very scary because Mr. Quitely’s eyes got rather wide. From what I can recollect, I basically came across as a gushing, fanatic stalker because I’d frantically muttered something about how upset I was earlier that he wasn’t there and I was going to miss him and oh my gosh, do you know I love your accent?
Mr. Quitely, I’m sorry. I really didn’t mean to frighten you. I just wanted my comics signed … and to be able to gaze lovingly at your long hair.
Stage Four Geekery: A Misguided Sense of Entitlement
Fanboys (and girls) reasonably request a number of things from this wonderful medium of ours. We want our books on time. We want to pay less than three dollars a book. We want free comics every May. We want good stories (but we’ll probably still buy it if it sucks). Ultimately, we just want to have these characters that we love so much. We want them to grow, want them treated “right” by their publishers, want them to be around forever.
This is the easy stuff. Unfortunately, we can also be pretty demanding. It’s not unreasonable to expect to enjoy something that we’re spending copious amounts of money on—it’s another thing, though, to expect to be catered to on every level, and exploit the talent behind the very masterworks we love.
Case in point—and I hate to have to even acknowledge this—is what happened to Adam Hughes during BoCoCo this year. The long story short is that some con attendee basically pestered Mr. Hughes throughout the course of his time there to get him to do an original sketch—begged and pleaded about how badly he needed it and how much he loved his artwork, only to then auction off the commissioned piece on eBay within hours of its completion. The full story is here, where Adam Hughes’ partner discusses the situation and isn’t shy about calling out the scumbag. The result is that Hughes will no longer be doing unplanned convention sketches for the public, and thus we all suffer for the actions of one complete moron.
I don’t blame Hughes, and I’m sickened on his behalf and embarrassed by the thought that this behavior taints the reputation of this con and this city. It’s appalling. So I’m going to make my lamentations quick and just say this: DON’T BE A DICK. It’s a simple rule, and it always seems to boil down to that one lesson.
End of story.
Stage Five Geekery: No Going Back
Stan Sakai. Possibly the only creator I actually didn’t scare. I’ve never read any Usagi Yojimbo—although I’ve wanted to, the volume of back story is intimidating. The hope is that I’ll get to it someday, as I have several friends who read it religiously and love it. One of said friends was unable to make it to the con, and I decided I’d get Mr. Sakai to sign a couple of books for him.
“Hi! My friend is a huge, huge fan of yours … so I was hoping you could sign these for him?” *BIG CHEESY GRIN* When hamming it up for the creators, I choose to go the “kill them with kindness” route, as opposed to the “lower your shirt” route as shamelessly suggested by Boyfriend.
Mr. Sakai happily proceeded to sign the books and then asked me whether or not this friend of mine was a very good friend.
“Oh, yes! The best!” I replied, overly animated.
“Okay. Hang on.”
He took out a sketch card the size of a backing board and started sketching—in full out marker—the image of Usagi holding two katanas, signed it, addressed it to my friend, and gave it to me for free. Given the pricing that was listed on the table for commissioned sketches, I would have estimated it at a fifty dollar value.
I’ve heard it said that Stan Sakai is the nicest guy in comics, and this experience very much proved that to me. An absolute pleasure to meet. I thanked him profusely, and of course, my friend loved the sketch.
I just picked up my first issue of Usagi Yojimbo last week.
So, there you have it—the five stages of my experience at Boston Comic Con, although there are many more to identify, and most of them overlap. There were some other awesome highlights to my con experience, of course—like getting to chat with J. Scott Campbell and watch him sketch; finally meeting the talented Dave Gordon face-to-face and getting to thank him for doing my blog’s header image; being complimented on my totally badass Wonder Woman shirt, etc.
The BEST MOMENT by far, though, was shaking Terry Moore’s hand, talking to him about Strangers in Paradise and his upcoming project Rachel Rising, and getting him to sign my books (AND take a pic with me!). I adore the man even more than I did before, if that’s possible.
A couple of regrets was that I missed the “Women in Comics” panel because I didn’t know that it existed, nor did I have the chance to meet Darwyn Cooke or Adam Hughes. I suppose there will always be other cons. Maybe I’ll get the geekery down to a controllable level by then and not scare anyone else away.
Boston Comic Con 2012, let’s do it!
I’ll come right out with it—I’m not a huge anime person… er, “otaku.” I’d never watched a lick of anything that could even remotely be considered anime until about a year and a half ago. “The Boyfriend” is hugely into pretty much anything Japanese, and at his urging, I watched a couple of series (Fate/Stay Night, Macross Frontier, some Toshokan Senso), but my love for the stuff hasn’t progressed by leaps and bounds—more like baby steps. I’m an anime novice, and Boyfriend is my trainer. You could say I’m not the most dedicated student in this particular subject.
Last year’s Anime Boston was my first ever experience in this unique world that is infinitely larger than I ever presumed it to be. I went into the con really not knowing what to expect—I was pretty blind about what I’d be encountering, and I reckon Boyfriend and his friends did that on purpose for the sake of not scaring me away. As we joked at the time, I was witness to sights I would never be able to “unsee.” But at the end of the day, I did have a lot of fun. With that in mind, I decided to give this year’s con a go.
Here’s a short view of Anime Boston 2011, from the eyes of a Saturday Day Pass n00b.
Some Things I Saw:
- Various con-goers opening and comparing their wares with childlike glee
- Various con-goers play battling in the hallways with gigantic cardboard weapons
- A dude dressed as Darkwing Duck
- A Rorschach (I don’t really understand what he has to do with this type of con, but okay)
- “Normal” people in the Prudential, looking absolutely terrified
- The very satisfying sight of Boyfriend being pummeled over and over again in Mortal Kombat 3 by yours truly in the video game room
- Lots and lots of scary nakedness
Some Things I Heard:
- “I just talked this guy into buying me this manga because I don’t have an I.D.” (How did this person actually get IN to the con, I wonder?)
- Many outcries of “Marco! … Polo!” followed by choruses of “SHUT UP” and, for some inexplicable reason, the “Buttscratcher” Family Guy meme
- The ear-piercing howls of random screaming girls
What I Bought:
- An Anime Boston “toothpick holder” (read: shot glass)
- A wicked cute chibi Ranka Lee figure for my desk that Boyfriend bought for me
- Far too much food from The Cheesecake Factory (unbelievable chicken dumplings, oh my God)
- I wanted but did not buy a pair of goggles from this nifty steampunk vendor. I don’t know why or what I would have even done with them—I just thought they looked cool. Purple lenses, hey.
- Boyfriend also tried to talk me into buying a set of replica Wonder Woman bracers and tiara for $345. Yeah, not so much.
- “Oh my gosh, dude, it’s Deadpool!”
- “That person really should not be wearing that costume.”
- “I’m hungry.”
- “Bump into me one more time and I swear I’ll kill you….”
There were a couple of things that made this year’s con a little less enjoyable, at least for me. For one thing, we didn’t go with as large a group of people as we did last year. In my view, the experience is really about who you’re sharing it with and less about the quality of the convention itself. If you’re with the right people, you can make pretty much anything fun. That’s not to say I didn’t have a good go around—just that it was different, and probably a lot more “quiet.”
That said, for what little I experienced this time, it was still a good exploit. The time was mostly spent in the dealers’ rooms and video game hall; I somehow completely missed out on the Artist Alley (which is unfortunate, because apparently there was an artist there with a totally amazing Wonder Woman print that I would have bought), the masquerade, and various other panels. I can’t say I was completely heartbroken for missing these things; our visit was just long enough to satisfy without being overwhelming. It’s hard to get fully enveloped by something that you know so little about, and more often than not, I felt completely out of place amongst the hardcore geekery. That’s a pretty rare occurrence for me. I can typically hold my geek with the best of them.
Slowly but surely, however, my venture into the world of anime gets a little deeper with each passing year. Maybe one day, Boyfriend will actually convince me to sit down and watch Cowboy Bebop, or that most holy of animes, Neon Genesis Evangelion. Maybe you’ll see me cosplaying as Rosie Stark.
Until then, I’m gearing up for the stuff that’s more suited for me: Boston Comic Con, I shall see you this Saturday.
Looking for more on Anime Boston? Check out Nerd Caliber’s great pictorials and video reviews!