Thursday, May 20, 2010

1 Town,1 Weekend, 2 Shows

Weird and bizarre. Those are the first words that come to mind when I try to describe the fact that there are going to be 2 comic book conventions in Montgomery County, MD in the same weekend. That would be the weekend of September 10-12, 2010. The cons I am referring to are...
Intervention is new. SPX has been around for 15 years. Both claim to be focused on small, independent creators.

What's the deal with the scheduling? There's nothing about this issue on the SPX web site but the Intervention folks have addressed it in a FAQ on their website. Basically it sounds like at the time they paid for the convention space they didn't know when SPX was going to held and assumed that it would be later in the month since it was for the last couple years.

One of the tag lines on the Intervention website is "Your Life Online, In Person". Their website also makes the case that their focus is on web comics, where SPX mostly is focused on print media. There are already a number of webcartoonists who are scheduled to be exhibiting at SPX. This doesn't invalidate Intervention's description of itself but the waters do seem to be a bit muddy. That's not a good or a bad thing. The two shows are close enough to each other that attendees and exhibitors could easily take part in both shows on the same day.

I'm sure that some people will do just that. Will a significant number of people attend both shows? I dunno. One draw back to having two independent shows on the same day is that you will have to pay seperaqte admission fees to both shows. At the moment Intervention is open for pre-registration although the only option is to purchase a weekend pass for $40, is planning to let people purchase a weekend pass on the day of the show for $45, and has plans to let people purchase single day passes but have yet to announce pricing for that option.

In contrast, SPX traditionally does not allow attendees to preregister. The rates on their web site are $10 for a 1-day pass or $15 for a weekend pass, both of which can only be purchased at the show.

Another difference between the two shows is that Intervention has a message board; SPX has a blog. For the most parts the posts on the message board seem upbeat and hopeful about the show. There is one post from a creator who has already paid to attend SPX asking the Intervention folks to move their show so that she can attend both shows. For the most part there isn't a lot of activity on the boards but the show is still months away.

Based on pricing and past experience alone my perspective as a potential attendee of these two shows is more favorable towards the more established show, SPX. I've attended SPX three times in the past 7 years, most recently last year. I want to attend again. I admit that I'm curious about Intervention but the price seems kind of steep.

Intervention does have some entertainment scheduled but a dance party doesn't sound like my sort of thing. I'm more interested in finding new things to read and attending some panels. I'll keep checking back so see what Intervention has to offer that I can't get at SPX and I might change my mind before the 2nd weekend of September rolls around but for now just planning to attend SPX.

Monday, May 3, 2010

What I Read - May 3, 2010

Over the weekend I finished reading Daredevil: Return of the King.

What's it about? The Kingpin returns to the Big Apple and teams up with Daredevil to take down the Hand. Of course the Kingpin isn't revealing all that he has in mind to Murdock, but in time it becomes clear that he isn't quite as honorable as he wants to appear.

The first chapter was awesome. It was all Kingpin. Both Brubaker and Lark really did a superb job on that chapter. The dialogue and the images were spot on brilliant. With the exception of the the Hand there are no supernatural or superheroic elements in this chapter. It read and felt more like a chapter from a good noir story.

The rest of the book fails to live up to the promise of the first chapter. It felt rushed in places. I tend to think that it might have benefited from being stretched over a few more issues. There were a lot of loose plotlines that came together and were either resolved or at least moved forward all in the very small space of the last four chapters. Some of it felt a little off kilter and out of whack with Brubaker and Lark's story up to this point and obviously was done to set things up for the creative team that followed them. I'll admit that I'm curious to see what comes next but not curious enough to give the book a try. After almost 40 issues I'm ready to move on and read something else.

Looking back on the Brubaker/Lark run on Daredevil. I think that it started strong and had its high points but wasn't consistently great. I'm not sure what sort of reader I would recommend it to. It has some superheroic elements but often felt like a dark, gritty story about man who seems too emotionally supressed to confront his feelings and make some sense out of his life. This makes it frustrating at times but also makes it an interesting character study.

Good? Yes. Great? Not on the whole. Overall it was worth my time and money but I dunno if/when I'll reread it.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Free Comic Book Day 2010/DC Comic Convention 2010

I didn't do anything special for Free Comic Book Day, which was yesterday. My local comic book shop isn't too exciting. There are others that do a better job, I'm sure. Honestly though, who cares. I don't. Its really an event to get non-comic book readers into the store. I don't even try to stay current with comic books. I just read whatever I feel like reading. Sometimes (rarely) it will be something new or fairly recent; more often it is something years if not decades old.

Today I went to the DC Comic Convention which, of course, wasn't in DC; it was at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA. I managed to escape without spending too much money, just $20 including the admission fee. I still have a ton of stuff to read from my trip to Reading, PA at the end of March. I didn't think too much of the convention. Will I go the next time it happens? Probably. There were no panels, but there were several creators and quite a few dealers. It would have been nice if there been some panels.

I bought three trades at the convention from a dealer who had about twenty boxes of $5 trades. The only problem with his assortment was that going through it was kind of like listening to a broken record. I kept seeing the same books over and over again, I saw 20 or 30 copies of some books. I looked through another dealer's boxes of 1/2 off trades but didn't end up buying any from him.

The three trades I bought are all things that I've wanted to read.

The Dark Phoenix Saga - written by Chris Claremont, penciled by John Byrne, inked by Terry Austin; collects Uncanny X-Men # 129-137. This was a classic when I starting to read X-Men comic books. I like to think of it as the crown jewel of the Claremont/Byrne/Austin run on the X-Men; although some might argue that Days of Future Past deserves that distinction. I've read it before but it has been a long time. I have the first three issues in the Uncanny X-Men Omnibus that I bought in 2008.

What's it about? Lots. Kitty Pride is introduced in the first chapter, as is Emma Frost and the Hellfire Club. The X-men tussle with the Hellfire Club. Jason Wynegarde's (a member of the Hellfire Club) manipulation of Jean Grey (Phoenix) leads her to go insane, which leads to her being put on trial by the Shi'ar Empire, and then there's the battle for her life, with Cyclops by her side, against the Shi'ar Imperial Guard. Its a great read, as I remember it. Hopefully it will live up to my memories of the story.

Spider-Man: Kraven's Last Hunt - written by J.M. DeMatteis, art by Mike Zeck; collects Web of Spider-Man # 31-32, Amazing Spider-Man # 293-294, Spectacular Spider-Man # 131-132. This is one of those classics from the late 1980s that I've never read. I've never been a big Spider-Man fan. I've wanted to read this partly based on reputation and partly because I really enjoyed penciler Mike Zeck's run on Captain America in the early 1980s. What's it about? I'm not entirely sure, although the title seems to imply that it involves the death of Kraven, one of Spider-Man's foes who goes back to the 1960s when Steve Ditko was drawing the book.

Agents of Atlas - written by Jeff Parker, art by Leonard Kirk; collects the Agents of Atlas mini-series #1-6, plus some of the early appearances of the main characters from the 1940s and 50s, plus What If? #9 from 1978 which inspired this 2006 mini-series. I've heard such good things about this series and it sounds so cool that I finally picked it up, since they were practically giving it away. What's it about? An oddball team of crime-fighters. Honestly that's all I know. That and the fact that they all first appeared in the 1940s or 1950s but were seldom used after then and only once appeared as a team prior to this mini-series.