Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Spirit v1: Batman/The Spirit

Crime Convention
by Jeph Loeb and Darwyn Cooke (storytellers), J. Bone (inks), and Dave Stewart (colors)

Batman and the Spirit travel to Hawaii to save Commissioners Gordon and Dolan from a gang of super villains.

The story looks great. Cooke, Bone, and Stewart do not disappoint. There are some beautiful splash pages.

It feels as if there is a little too much in this crossover special. At 40 pages it is almost double the length of a standard comic book. Every one of those pages is crowded with words, plot, and characters.

Even though it won an Eisner Award, this story doesn't compare favorably to the other stories in this collection. It is a jumbled mess. Some plot points are over explained. Not all the transitions work. On the whole the story feels very rushed.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Spirit v1: #6

Almost Blue
by Darwyn Cooke, J. Bone (inks), and Dave Stewart (colors)

This story breaks the mold, if there was one. It doesn't feel like any of the previous stories or even like a typical Spirit story. It feels like noir blended with science fiction.

Despite the heavy use of narration, especially in the first few pages, the panels do not feel crowded. Cooke has done a great job of balancing the text and the pictures. They don't clash with one another, they sing together.

Once again the Spirit takes an unexpected detour in his continuing search for Alvarro Mortez. Even though this series is a collection of one-shots they each have their own special flavor. This is possibly, probably the most satisfying story to date.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Spirit v1: #5

Media Man
by Darwyn Cooke, J. Bone (inks), and Dave Stewart (colors)

The spirit battles gangsters who are using his image to sell cans of pork & beans.

There has to be a hidden message beneath this story. It is a little too weird for there not to be. Possibly it is a comment on the advertising industry.

The visuals towards the end feature some smashingly great sequential art. Cooke out does himself with the last 7 pages. Most if not all of the word balloons (sparsely distributed as they ate) are unnecessary as the pictures tell the story.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Spirit v1: #4

Silk Satin
by Darwyn Cooke, J. Bone (inks), and Dave Stewart (colors)

This story is all kind of awesome. From the first page to the very last the story unfolds. There is no padding or filler. There is a fair amount of dialogue and narration which is paired with appropriately sized panels and drawings. Dave Stewart uses different color palettes very effectively as the story changes tone and setting.

The Spirit captures Hussein Hussein in Central City. After the con man escapes police custody the Spirit teams up with CIA agent Silk Satin to recapture him.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Spirit v1: #3

by Darwyn Cooke, J. Bone (inks), and Dave Stewart (colors)

A tip jars the Spirit's memory and he thinks back to the day Denny Colt died and was born again as the Spirit. This is his origin story. It unfolds as he digs up the grave of Alvarro Mortez, another man who is rumored to have come back to life.

Most of the story is a flashback. It is narrated by many people: the Spirit, Ebony, Commissioner Dolan, Ellen, an unnamed villain. The look and feel of the flashback are quite different from the bookends that surround it. The lines seem thinner, but harder and angular; and there are more pastels and day-glow colors.

On the whole this story it has a very different feel than the first couple in this series but is no less gripping, intense, or thrilling. It is an open-ended one shot. The ending is both satisfying and frustrating.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Spirit v1: #2

The Maneater
by Darwyn Cooke, J. Bone (inks), and Dave Stewart (colors)

There's nothing new here. This story has been told before. It is a tale of revenge. P'Gell seeks justice. The Spirit seeks to uphold the law. Is he misguided for doing what he does? Is she evil for doing what she does? Is life a zero sum game?

Moral quandaries aside, what stands out is the art. Cooke and Bone tell the story with a very light touch. The coloring by Dave Stewart is divine. The wordless panels aren't plentiful but well placed and say so much.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Spirit v1: #1

Ice Ginger Coffee
by Darwyn Cooke, J. Bone (inks), and Dave Stewart (colors)

The Spirit rescues television anchor woman Ginger Coffee after she is kidnapped by gangsters.

The story is beautifully drawn and colored but what really stands out is the humor. Much of the funny stuff is driven by a misunderstanding or a lack of information. She knows something that he does not. Additionally, she knows he doesn't know but prefers to keep him in the dark.

Taking a sideways glance at the story what stands out is the contrast between the Spirit and Ginger Coffee. She isn't wearing a physical mask but seems to be wearing one whenever she speaks. Her words ring as hollow and somewhat robotic. He is wearing a mask but all it hides is his face, his words come across as very honest and uncensored.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Scalped v3: #18

Falls Down
by Jason Aaron (writer) and Davide Furnò (artist)

Officer Franklin Falls Down, the one honest cop on the Prairie Rose Police, re-enters the picture. Red Crow wants him to find the person responsible for the death of Gina Bad Horse. Before he can take on that task he's got some problems, past and present, to deal with.

As with many of these 1-shot spotlights this one contains a tragic element. Even before he was shot up during a drug bust he had experienced personal tragedy. Add to that how hard it is to be the one honest officer in a crooked department and it starts to become clear that the path Falls Down has chosen is not an easy one.

Furnò's art compliments and emphasizes the tone of the writing. The wispy lines and textured faces he draws make the characters come to life.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Scalped v3: #17

Dead Mothers - Chapter 5
by Jason Aaron (writer) and R.M. Guéra (artist)

Dash goes back to White Haven to look for Shelton. Red Crow continues to deal with people who question his role in the murder of Gina Bad Horse. The arc ends. It is time for the story to move on.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Comic Book Resolutions 2012

With a little over two months until the end of the year it seems like an appropriate time to start thinking about comic book resolutions. The biggest resolution I made at the beginning of this year was to read more and buy less. Specifically I wanted by "to be read pile to shrink" and avoid buying things that I just ain't going to read.

Aside from that my only other resolution was to read more Batman comic books, specifically some of the classic Batman story lines. Prior to 2012 the only big Batman stories I had read were

- The Dark Knight Returns
- The Cult
- Hush
- The Long Halloween

So far this year I have read

- Year One
- The Untold Legend of Batman (3-part mini-series)
- Rules of Engagement (Batman Confidential 1-6)
- A New Dawn (Batman Confidential 26-28)

I also read books 3 and 4 of Gotham Central. Strictly speaking it is not a Batman book but it is a Batman family book.

At the moment I am reading Year Three (Batman 436-439) and also have Ghosts (Batman Confidential 40-43) sitting on my shelf waiting to be read.

There are a few other books that I want to read before the end of 2012:

Martian Manhunter: American Secrets - For almost 10 years I only had the first issue of this 3-part mini-series. A couple years ago I found the third one in a bargain bin at Baltimore Comic Con. A couple months ago I found the second one on Comic Collectors Live, for a reasonable price. Now that I have assembled the entire story it seems like an appropriate thing to push to the top of my reading pile. I hope it lives up to my expectations.

The Spectre 9-12 - by John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake - I bought the first 35 issues of this series a few years ago. I started to read it, was enjoying it but didn't get far into it before putting it down to read something else. I need to get back on that horse and start reading this series again. Based on my usual reading habits four issues seems like a reasonable number to try read over the next couple months.

The Mice Templar volume 2.2: Destiny

I will read other things aside from those I just listed above before year's end but as far as targeted reading goes I think this list will suffice for now.

I am working on a list of what I want to read in 2013. It won't be a comprehensive list of everything on my TBR shelf or of anything and everything that I would like to read. It will be a manageable goal which includes books from various types of writers, artists, and publishers.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Scalped v3: #16

Dead Mothers - Chapter 4
by Jason Aaron (writer) and R.M. Guéra (artist)

Bad Horse searches in White Haven, outside of his area of jurisdiction, for Diesel, whom he suspects of committing murder on the Rez. Red Crow gets a visit from Nitz, in his casino. Nothing gets resolved but a new character is introduced and some blood gets spilled in the process.

Does anything end well in this series? So far the answer is no and with just one chapter left it doesn't look like this story arc is going to diverge from that pattern.

The wordless panels are brilliant composed and placed. They are a vital part of how the story is told. So much information and feeling is conveyed in what they depict. The silent exchange of glances between Red Crow and Dino Poor Bear is probably the best example of this.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Scalped v3: #15

Dead Mothers - Chapter 3
by Jason Aaron (writer) and R.M. Guéra (artist)

Bad Horse gets some help, which he didn't request, in solving a very personal case. Leading up to and following that he tries to mentor Shelton and deal with memories of his mother.

It feels as though pieces are starting to fall into place. It seems unlikely but not impossible, given his passionate response to Dash's statement early on in this chapter, that Red Crow is directly responsible for the murder of Gina Bad Horse. Outwardly, at the very least, he is more disturbed by her murder than is her son. Ruling out the possibility that some bit player may be the murderer, the tone and track of the story seems to point the finger of blame at another passionate and central player in this story.

The interrogation scene deserves to be singled out. It only lasts four pages and cuts away before it gets graphically gruesome. Still, the final panel on the next to last page of the scene leaves little to the imagination as to what is obscured from view on the next page. Without showing the worst part Guéra leaves the end of the scene up to the reader's imagination to fill in this making it possibly more horrific than if he depicted the gruesome details.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Scalped v3: #14

Dead Mothers - Chapter 2
by Jason Aaron (writer) and R.M. Guéra (artist)

Dash has to deal with Shelton, the dead prostitute's eldest child, and Nitz, his boss. One wants him to find the man who killed Pamela Bittan, the prostitute, the other wants him to find the man who killed Gina Bad Horse, his mother. Nitz could care less about Pamela Bittan. In the end Nitz has to tip his own hand in an attempt to keep Bad Horse in line.

The visual storytelling is beautifully handled. Once again there are lots of wordless panels. There are also some very wordy panels. Both work in the context of the story although the wordier ones do seem a bit crowded.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Scalped v3: #13

Dead Mothers - Chapter 1
by Jason Aaron (writer) and R.M. Guéra (artist)

It hasn't hit Dash yet. He doesn't find out until 3/4 of the way into the chapter. In the end Red Crow is the one to break the news to him. Dash doesn't have the time to deal with it then because he's getting ready to deliver a similar message to a group of kids, the oldest of whom is just 12. Someone else should have broken the news to them, but the others were a little too chicken-hearted to do so. On his own initiative Dash delivers the bad news to them, in the immediate wake of Red Crow's visit.

There's more to the chapter than these two exchanges of information. The chapter opens with a drug bust and a very unorthodox interrogation. Those are intense moments in their own right but the most memorable ones are those that end the chapter.

Sometimes it feels as if there ought to be more sound effects. In this chapter the lack of them has a powerful effect. The pictures tell it all in the wordless places. To include sound effects would be redundant and steal the thunder that the pictures provide.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Scalped v3: #12

Dreaming Himself into the Real World
by Jason Aaron (writer) and John Paul Leon (artist)

Bad Horse sleeps and dreams and wakes up. He wakes in his dreams and he wakes in the real world. He dreams of all the people in his life: Red Crow, Special Agent Nitz, Carol, and finally he dreams of Gina, his mother.

Dreams can take many forms and Bad Horse's dreams are not all of the same nature. The pacing of the narration, internal monologue, dialogue, and visual storytelling shift as the tone of the story does and seem appropriate in each instance. When his dreams are darker, more disturbing, and induced by his fears everything seems rushed and out of control. When he dreams of his mother the pace slows, seems more measured, less hectic.

This is the right place to have a guest artist step in. The transition from Guéra's style to Leon's isn't seamless but that's okay. This is a different sort of story within the larger story. What really matters here is the high quality of the visual storytelling and that the images work well with words on the pages.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Batman: Year One - Chapter 4

Batman 407: Friend in Need
by Frank Miller (writer) and David Mazzucchelli (artist)

Batman may be the title character but inside the pages of this story he shares the spotlight with Jim Gordon. Gordon is the heart and soul of this story. Batman is integral to the story as a whole but the fourth chapter is all Gordon.

This story leaves this reader hungry for more. Batman's story arc feels incomplete. His origins are explored and explained but his interactions with Catwoman and the mob are left dangling.

Overall this story is a tour de force and a must read for any and all fans of the bat. Mazzucchelli's visual storytelling and art are on a level that few artists have matched. Miller has spun a damn good story but without a master like Mazzucchelli handling the art chores it wouldn't be half the story it turned out to be.

Friday, September 21, 2012

BCC2012 Panel: Spotlight on Frank Quitely

Panel: Spotlight on Frank Quitely
(Recorded on Sunday, September 9 at the 2012 Baltimore Comic Con)

José Villarrubia (r) interviews Frank Quitely (l) - Roughly two-thirds of the panel was a discussion between the two artists. The audience got a chance to ask some questions during the last 20 minutes. Both men talked kind of quietly, no pun intended.

Audio (51:44)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

BCC2012 Panel: Tribute to Joe Kubert

Panel: Tribute to Joe Kubert
(Recorded on Sunday, September 9 at the 2012 Baltimore Comic Con)

Panelists: Thom Zahler, Tim Truman, Robert Greenberger (moderator), Tom Raney, and Paul Levitz

Three of them (Zahler, Truman, Raney) are alums of the Kubert School. Levitz worked with him going back to the early 70s. Greenberger leads them in a discussion centered around their memories of Kubert, mostly as a teacher and mentor.

Audio (56:44)

Other 2012 Baltimore Comic Con Panels
- Spotlight on Phil LaMarr
- The History of Censorship in Comics

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

BCC2012 Panel: The History of Censorship in Comics

The History of Censorship in Comics with Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF) Deputy Director Alex Cox and Comic Book Author and Historian Fred Van Lente

This was recorded using my iPhone and the audio is less than perfect. It may be necessary to adjust the volume in order to hear everything.

Audio (1:03:26)

2012 Small Press Expo (SPX) - Final Thoughts

I didn't set a budget for myself this year. I spent $100 (which includes $15 for a 2-day pass) and came home with several books. I was tempted but did not buy any sketches this year.

The variety of books and other products available at SPX continues to intrigue me. I love being surprised and there were plenty of them at this year's show. I'm always anxious that all I am going to see at SPX is the same people, selling the same things, giving me the same sales pitch as the year before. There was a little of that but there were also enough new things to excite me.

I made it to 5 panels and I could have gone to more. I recorded all 5 panels on my iPhone and am planning to post the audio here, probably next week. Two of them were a lot of fun. The others were informative but a little more low key. I didn't go to any of the artist spotlight-type panels. Instead I opted for the subject-oriented, discussion-type panels. Overall I was very impressed by the slate of programming for this year's show. Every time I chose one panel over another I was a little sad that I was missing out on the panel I didn't attend.

I bought three books that I came to the show with the intention of perusing and/or buying: Maggie the Mechanic by Jamie Hernandez, District Comics, and Wizzywig by Ed Piskor. Everything else  I bought was new to me.

I didn't see everyone that I thought I would see. I walked around a lot but I didn't hang out in the evenings. Maybe if I had I would have seen more faces that I recognize.

I love that this show is in my backyard.

I continue to be annoyed that SPX and Baltimore Comic Con are so close together on the calendar. I just don't get it. For the third year in a row I went to both and I probably will again next year. If I ever choose to go to just one (and not the other) then SPX will be the one (and not the other).

There's another local convention this coming weekend but I am all conned out for the present. I don't have any plans to go to any conventions for at least 6 months. I've got a ton of books to keep me busy reading until next Spring.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

BCC2012 Panel: Spotlight on Phil LaMarr

Panel: Spotlight on Phil LaMarr
(Recorded on Saturday, September 8 at the 2012 Baltimore Comic Con)

There was no moderator for this panel. Phil just answered questions from the audience for an hour.

The audio is broken into two pieces. This was recorded using my iPhone and the audio is less than perfect. It may be necessary to adjust the volume in order to hear everything.

Part 1 (1:18) - Part 2 (51:44)

2012 Small Press Expo (SPX) - Day 2

Even though I saw most of what there was to see on the show floor on Day 1, I wandered around, bought a few more books, and took a few pictures. I spent considerably more time in panels than I did perusing the aisles.

District Comics: An Unconventional History of Washington, DC - a collection of comics about my hometown; having lived in the DC area for most of my life it proved impossible to resist buying this book, especially after I picked it up and flipped through it

The Legend of Jow Lung by Sifu Abdur-Rahim and Clay Harris - the first installment of a story set in China in the early 20th century

Wizzywig: Portrait of a Serial Hacker by Ed Piskor - a beautifully bound and packaged story which will hopefully live up to all the great things I have heard about it

I also went to a couple panels. I recorded both of them and will hopefully post the audio of them here in the near future.

Panel: Disney and the Making of Postwar Manga - The Case of New Treasure Island with Ryan Holmberg and Joe McCulloch (moderator)

Panel: Images of America - Real and Imagined with Nick Abadzis, Dean Haspiel, Stan Mack, Ben Towle, and Isaac Cates (moderator)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

2012 Small Press Expo (SPX) - Day 1

I arrived at 11:30, the show opened at 11. I spent my first hour-and-a-half wandering the show floor. I was very tentative at first when it came to approaching tables. Eventually I got over my skittishness and started talking to creators.

I didn't have any extremely memorable conversations but I did see some things I liked. I focused on what was on the tables. Many creators looked up but didn't try to say anything to me unless I made eye contact with them. Others were a little more forward. Some gave me a look that made me feel that I wasn't the sort of person with whom they wanted to interact.

I stopped by Jesse Lonergan's table. He had a big stack of original art. It was all part of his dance-themed sketch-a-day project: Dancer a Day. Most of the characters in the sketches were from Marvel and DC comics. He was selling them for $20 a piece. I considered buying one but in the end decided not to. I also decided not to tell him what I thought of his graphic novel, Flower and Fade, that I bought from him last year at SPX. I wasn't real wild about it, in large part because I had a hard time relating to either of the primary characters in the story.

I wanted to go to a panel at 1 PM but I missed the beginning and it was standing room only by the time I got there. Instead I found a seat in the hallway outside the panel room and took stock of what I saw on the show floor and what I wanted to buy. After roughly 20 minutes I went back to the show floor, looked around some more and bought some stuff.

Herman the Manatee Vol. 1 (Gets Hit by a Boat) by Jason Viola - I considered buying the latest volume (Herman the Manatee Has Had Enough) but decided to start at the beginning instead.

Jay's Brain by Jason Viola - anthropomorphic brain = genius idea

Leftovers (1,2,3) by Jason Pittman and Shelly Briggs - Sounded like a neat concept, I liked the look of it, and the price ($8 for the set) didn't seem unreasonable

The Exodus by Jason Pittman - free with the purchase of the Leftovers set

Bee Sting by Matthew D. Smith and Jeremy Massie - Redneck noir, or at least that's the way it was described to me by one of the creators.

Maggie the Mechanic by Jamie Hernandez - I've heard so much about Love and Rockets over the years and finally decided I had to give it a try. It was a toss up between this collection and Heartbreak Soup. I considered buying both but settled on just this one, for now.

In addition to buying stuff I also attended and recorded three panels. I have yet to check the recording to see how they have come out. Provided that they are for the most part intact I will post them here in the near future.

Institution Building and Comics with (l-r) Cheryl Kaminsky, Caitlin McGurk, Tom Hart, Sara Duke, and Tom Spurgeon (moderator)

Drawing Out Childhood - Summoning Childhood Experience with (l-r) MariNoami, Derf Backderf, John Porcellino, Julia Wertz, and Mike Dawson (moderator)

Comics as Children's Literature with (l-r) Renée French, Mark Newgarden, Brian Ralph, Françoise Mouly, and Philip Nel (moderator)

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Batman: Year One - Chapter 3

Batman 406: Black Dawn
by Frank Miller (writer) and David Mazzucchelli (artist)

One chapter, three characters: Batman, Jim Gordon, Selina Kyle.

This a great chapter with a good mix of plot and character developments. The variety and use of color is wonderful. The centerpiece is the struggle between Merkel's SWAT team and Batman. Very prominently in the background are the internal monologues of Wayne and Gordon as they separately come to the realization that they need one another.

Selina Kyle stands on the sidelines watching the fight between the cops and the Bat. Afterwards she puts on a cat suit, for the first time. Presumably, she was inspired by Batman who saved one of her cats. There is something heartwarming about seeing Batman save the cat.

The most unexpected and poignant part of this story is the relationship between Gordon and Essen. It is doomed and feels as though it doesn't belong. It is unclear how it will end exactly but it will in all likelihood be painful for both of them.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

2012 Baltimore Comic Con - Final Thoughts

I am very pleased with my purchases. I spent considerably less than I have at previous cons. I spent roughly $100 on art and $50 on comics. I also came home with considerably less stuff (2 prints, 3 pieces of original art, 3 collected editions) than I have in the past.

Driving in both days, instead of getting a hotel room in Baltimore, saved me at least $240 and didn't really inconvenience me at all. It is a relatively short drive, when there isn't heavy traffic.

I'm undecided on the expanded show room floor. Last year artists alley was incredibly crowded because the aisles were much narrower. In that respect, at least, it was better. Oddly enough it seemed a little too open this year. I'm not sure what to suggest but I'm hoping that they at least tweak the layout of artists alley next year. I'm also curious to hear and read what the artists thought of the new layout.

What I would really like them to do is add big banners hanging from the ceiling like they have at Heroes Con. Those banners at Heroes Con make it much easier to figure out where you are and where artists' tables are located.

So far I've listened to two of the four panels that I recorded. Both turned out ok, not great, but okay. There is a fair amount of ambient noise on them, especially the one that took place in a very large room. I am surprised by how well the microphone on my iPhone picked up voices in all sorts of directions from where I was seated. I will have to try this again in the future.

That's it for Baltimore Comic Con for this year.

Up next: Small Press Expo

Monday, September 10, 2012

2012 Baltimore Comic Con - Day 2

I had Thai food at the Baltimore Farmer's Market for breakfast this morning: Pad Thai, Coconut Chicken (on a stick), and a spring roll. It was very filling and tasty. I thought about also having some mango and sticky rice but I felt full enough.

Aside from breakfast I also bought apples, cucumbers, tomatoes, and mixed nuts at the market. I think I spent as much today at the market as I spent on breakfast alone yesterday.

Baltimore Farmers' Market

I parked in a garage near the farmers market that I originally thought had free parking. There was a parking lot where I could have parked for free, it was across the street from the garage and very full. While at the farmers market I misplaced my parking ticket. I should have left it in the car. I took it with me because I thought that maybe they would have parking validation at the market.

I didn't realize I had lost the ticket until I got back to my car. I quickly abandoned all hope of finding it and drove down to the booth to pay. At first the guy in the booth told me I had to pay the maximum, $18; then he told me he would only charge me $11; then after having some trouble with the credit card machine he told me he would only charge me $9. I thought about saying something sarcastic but I bit my tongue and just thanked him.

The garage where I parked my car for the rest of the day was a little further from the show. I was going to catch the circulator but I decided that I could use the exercise.

The line to get in was much shorter today and already moving by the time I showed up. I walked out on to the convention floor for a few minutes. It wasn't very busy. Some of the artists I wanted to see weren't at their table yet so I left the floor and found a place to sit on the 2nd level.

Panel: Tribute to Joe Kubert (11-12) with Thom Zahler, Tim Truman, Robert Greenberger (moderator), Tom Raney, and Paul Levitz - Three of the five panelists (Zahler, Truman, Raney) are alums of the Kubert School. Levitz worked with him going back to the early 70s. Greenberger led them in a discussion centered their memories of Kubert, mostly as a teacher and mentor. I enjoyed listening in but I could not help but think how different the discussion would have been if the panel consisted of long time readers of Kubert's comics.

Batman and Kitty Pryde by Thom Zahler

From 12-2 I wandered the convention floor some more. I stopped at a number of tables and bought some items that I had planned to buy and a couple that I had not. I picked up the commission that Thom Zahler did for me of Batman and Kitty Pryde (dressed as Robin). I bought Flesh and Blood (Book One) from Neil Vokes, Dames in the Atomic Age #1 from Chris Ryder, and All New Issues (Volume 1) from Bill Ellis and Dani O'Brien. I also ordered a sketch card of Galactus from Bill Ellis.

Books I Bought

I stopped by Bradd Parton's table again. We chatted some more. I bought an alpha-sketch of Plankton (from Sponge Bob Square Pants) from him.

Alpha-Sketch: Plankton by Bradd Parton

Panel: Spotlight on Frank Quitely (2-3) with José Villarrubia - Roughly two-thirds of the panel was a discussion between the two artists. The audience got a chance to ask some questions during the last 20 minutes. Both men talked kind of quietly, no pun intended.

I went for one last walk on the convention floor after the Quitely panel. I picked up the Galactus sketch card from Bill Ellis. I stopped by Brian J.L. Glass' table; at Heroes Con he had told me that the hardback edition of The Mice Templar (Book 3) would be ready in time for Baltimore Comic Con. Apparently the printer was running late in delivering the finished product. I still haven't read the previous volume so it wasn't a great loss. I will get it the next time I see him which probably won't be until sometime next year.

Galactus by Bill Ellis

I wandered around a little more finally leaving the convention center around 4:30. I considered sticking around and having dinner in Baltimore but I wasn't hungry at the time I left the show. I didn't see the point in hanging out for a few hours so I could spend some more money.

The drive home was slow going. It took forever to get out of downtown Baltimore. Even after I got on to I-95 the traffic was still stop and go. It took me over an hour from the parking garage to my apartment. By comparison, the night before it only took me 40 minutes. Not withstanding the drive home, it was a very good day.

Up next: Final Thoughts

Saturday, September 8, 2012

2012 Baltimore Comic Con - Day 1

I arrived in Baltimore little later than I meant to but not by much. I was seated at Miss Shirley's and had ordered breakfast by 8:17. Unfortunately it took a while (26 minutes) for my order, Sunrise Benedict, to materialize. I did not short change on the tip but I did point out the deficiency on the customer satisfaction survey.

After breakfast I headed to the convention center. I arrived roughly 20 minutes before the show was due to open. I got my wrist band and got in the line which wrapped halfway around the block at that point. Eventually I got into the convention center. Until noon I wandered the Artists Alley section of the show floor, occasionally stopping to look at artwork and chat with artists. I bought one piece of art: Casper, Spirit of Friendship by Bobby Timony. At noon I left the convention floor for a couple hours.

Panel: The British Invasion (12-1) with (l-r) Mark Buckingham, Robert Greenberger (moderator), Barry Kitson, Brian Bolland

Panel: Spotlight on Phil LaMarr - At the Phil LaMarr panel, which consisted entirely of Q&A, I asked Phil how far back he went with comics and which stories he looks back on nostalgically. In his response he spoke about inheriting a long box of comics from a neighbor or relative when he was very young. He also remembered owning and reading New Teen Titans #1 and Days of Future Past (X-Men #141-142) when he was about 10 years old and sick and how it blew him away. Both panels were a lot of fun.

From 2-4 I walked the floor. I looked for Michel Fiffe. He wasn't listed on the program guide but neither was Sara Richard and I found her table. I'm pretty sure he said he was going to be here when we chatted at Heroes Con. I walked probably 75% of the floor without finding him. I did stop at a few tables as I wandered.

Neil Vokes - I perused his stack of original art. I considered buying a page but I couldn't find one that stood out. I liked them all. I am planning to go back and buy the first trade collection of the horror series he currently works on: Flesh and Blood.

Tom Zahler - I ordered a commission from him of Batman and Kitty Pryde. The color price seemed a little too high for me so I paid him for a black-and-white commission. He said I can still change my mind and get color added tomorrow, if I so desire. I'm thinking about buying a copy of the first trade collection of his web comic, Love and Capes. I've never read it but it is in the same vein as some other books that I often enjoy: books that mix everyday soap opera with superheroes.

Bradd Parton - He does these neat alpha-sketches. He uses all the letters in the alphabet once to create a sketch of a character. I may go back and buy a print or two tomorrow. I asked him about Samurai Jack but he said he wasn't familiar with the show and had never done an alpha-sketch of any character from that show.

Drew Moss - He did a commission for me earlier this year at Heroes Con. It was a color picture of Batman and Wonder Woman sharing a milk shake. I showed him the Caspar piece I picked up earlier in the day and the two sketch cards that Mike Schwartz did for me a couple weeks ago. We chatted about the show a little bit and his con schedule for the year ahead.

Panel: The History of Censorship in Comics with Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF) Deputy Director Alex Cox and Comic Book Author and Historian Fred Van Lente - great overview of the subject. For the most part I was familiar with most of the history they covered. When they asked for questions from the audience I asked about Warren Publishing which they had not mentioned at all. Specifically I asked if Marvel had followed Warren's lead in publishing monster magazine, which is what happened. I was a bit concerned that they were giving Marvel and Stan Lee too much credit for bringing back horror books.

I wandered the show floor for a little while after the Censorship Panel. It was considerably less crowded than it was earlier in the day. I was still unable to find Fiffe's table. Maybe tomorrow.

Once again I made a few stops as I wandered.

Tony Fleecs - I really liked some of his prints. I think I'm gonna buy one tomorrow. The ones I liked are mash-ups of pulp novel covers and well known sci-fi and superhero characters like Princess Leia and Wonder Woman. At $10 they are too nice to pass up.

Chris Ryder - I'm very intrigued by his 64-page book, Dames in the Atomic Age, which is a mash up of noir fiction and sci-fi. I didn't want to spend anymore today but I will probably stop by his table and buy a copy tomorrow. It is a little pricey ($9) for a 64-page book but the packaging is really nice.

I left the show floor 10 minutes before it was scheduled to close for the night. I walked a little over a mile to Land of Kush for dinner. I didn't realize it was a carryout place until I got there. Instead of having a sit down meal I walked back to my car with my dinner, drove home, and ate there.

I recorded two of the panels (Phil LaMarr; Censorship) on my iPhone. I missed recording the first few minutes of both panels. The audio is probably going to need to be cleaned up a bit. If and when I get that done I may post them or hand them over to someone else to post on the internet.

Batman: Year One - Chapter 2

Batman 405: War Is Declared
by Frank Miller (writer) and David Mazzucchelli (artist)

Bruce Wayne dons the suit and becomes the Batman for the first time. Jim Gordon continues his crusade to rid the police department of corruption. The visual storytelling is breathtaking. The scene where Batman and Gordon finally meet is beautifully laid out. The pacing of the story is also well handled. Frank Miller at his best.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Toronto Comicon 2013

After listening to Tiz de Santis talk to John Siuntres about Fan Expo on a recent episode of Word Balloon I'm interested in going. Unfortunately Fan Expo happens right around the same time as the Baltimore Comic Con. But there is another con that is run by the same folks that run Fan Expo: the Toronto ComiCon in mid-March. So now I'm gathering information and trying figure out what it will take to get me there.

If I do go then I might not go to Heroes Con in June. I'm not sure. If there is a CGS Super Show in 2013 then I will want to go to that. If not then that might clear the way for me to go to Toronto and Heroes next year. Maybe I will go to all three in addition to Baltimore and SPX next year. It's hard to say at this point but as of right now I am planning to go to Toronto in March.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Batman: Year One - Chapter 1

Batman 404: Who I Am; How I Came to Be
by Frank Miller (writer) and David Mazzucchelli (artist)

The story opens with the separate arrivals of Lieutenant James Gordon and millionaire Bruce Wayne in Gotham. From there the narrative jumps backs and forth between their stories as they separately confront corruption in the Gotham City Police Department; one from within and the other from without. The chapter ends with both men feeling a renewed sense of purpose despite the fact that they both have a long ways to go in order to right the wrongs they seek to address.

The storytelling so far is awesome, masterful. It is hard to say if someone who isn't familiar with Batman would be quite as impressed or moved by this chapter as one who is. Also worth noting is that so far Gordon isn't a supporting character, rather he is one of the protagonists.