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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Reviews as of 11/7/11

Batman. Arkham reborn
Usagi Yojimbo: The shrouded moon
JLA: World War III
Scott Pilgrim: Finest Hour
Crisis on infinite Earths TPB
Sentinel vol. 1 & 2

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Long Beach Comic & Horror Convention 2011 Review

Saturday, October 29, 2011 Review
Welcome folks, it’s another round of Comic Convention reviews! It’s been almost four whole months since the craziness that is called San Diego Comic Con and so the time to hunker down and chill a bit at the Long Beach Comic & Horror Con has arrived so it’s time for my review.

Long Beach Comic and Horror Convention 2011 Review (LBCC / LBCHC)
In its third year of livelihood, the former Long Beach Comic Con has been re-named Long Beach Comic & Horror Con ran from Oct. 29th-40th at the Long Beach Convention Center. 

Ticket prices started at $25 for single-day passes with 2-day passes available as well. Kids that are 10 and under have free admission. There were also special writing and inking panels you could pay to attend, one of those things I’ve never seen at a Con before, the pay-to-play aspect of a panel.

Besides the name change and ramping up of the “horror” theme this year was the drawback of the previously 3-day event to just a Saturday and Sunday programming. It appears due to last year’s light Friday afternoon attendance along with exhibitor’s ability to set-up shop on a weekday for a smaller Con helped funnel the event to this shortened timeline. The shortening of the event to just two days seems to have worked, the artists and vendors I spoke to said that the Saturday event had more traffic than last year though Sunday was indeed a light on attendees.
Compared to this year’s earlier Long Beach Comic Expo which was a very small one-day event held in one room, the LBCHC was held in the downstairs main hall of the Center along with several rooms on the main floor for panels (which I didn’t attend any of).

Get Up & In
I arrived at the event way early since I wanted to park in the main lot under the convention since it is very helpful to be there if you’re buying a lot of items and need to store them in your car instead of carrying it around you all day. I was told that the parking lot would open at 6 a.m. but didn’t open until 8:30 a.m... They originally blocked the entrance with cones so I thought they were full of vendor autos already so I therefore parked in the open-air lot across the street. It was $1.00 more and involved a bit more walking, but not too bad. I learned my lesson though and got to the lot on Sunday before 9 a.m. and was able to get a nice spot next to the elevator that took you up to the main entrance.

Ticketing this year was a lot better planned than last year. If you got there early (an hour) there were just a few early attendees so you just had to wait in front of the ticketing line until the registrars got their printouts for you to check-in. There was separate booths for exhibitors/press, dame-day ticket purchases, pre-paid/online by alphabet, and lifetime membership passes.
I bought my ticket via the Living Social 2-day pass deal ($22 vs. normal $45) and they couldn’t find my name on the registration list. They did take my confirmation printout and gave me my badge and wristband as well as the limited edition Hulk #1 LBCHC edition which was unexpected. Last year it was crazy long getting tickets; it could be sped up more if they doubled the people handing out badges.

The line wrapped around the escalators to the west wing of the con as the event neared the 10 a.m. opening. There was a small announcement ceremony that the event holders had near their banner which was hard to hear since the PA system was too far away and turned down low, and I was just less than 10 feet away from the MC. The announcement stretched to 10:10 a.m. so the Con opening was delayed until the MC said his thing, it would have been better to have the opening ceremony BEFORE the convention hours since I’m ready to go in at 10 a.m. and not listed to some yapping that I can’t even hear.

Doors finally open and a slight rush of people take off down the escalators and the line behind be breaks down a bit with people in line behind me are taking off passing me by. The big lines start off at Jason Scott Campbell’s, David Finch’s, and Amanda Conner’s booth initially. The longest line for an artist I could see all day was Finch’s. JSC might have been longer at one point but his was stationed at the front entrance which I didn’t pass by too often.

The Lowdown
The show floor was a lot bigger this year with the entire hall almost totally filled with booths and tables. There was a wrestling ring area, small laser tag and plenty of table and chairs near the food aisles in case you needed to sit down.

There were a good mix of indy stores and self-press publishers, small toy vendors and comic booths. There were a few booths selling Golden Age/Silver Age and CGC books as well as the booths selling TPBs for 40-50% off and moderns for .50 cents to a buck a piece. I ended up taking a couple back-pack refills worth of back-issues!

Who ‘Dat?
The main thing for the LBCHC though is the artist’s alley which is the main attraction for the Con. The area was large and the center points of the convention center, the aisles were nicely spread wide apart so you didn’t have to worry about traffic compared to the set-up at SDCC. There were tons of artists and writers you could meet and get original art, prints, sketches, books, etc.
One of the positives about going to a comic convention is meeting the creators in-person that you may not have been familiar with or exposed to their works. It’s been a generally positive experience in meeting the creators and them explaining their wares to attendees. Meeting with the creators and them being nice and personable brings a positive response from comic readers in my opinion. 

After seeing some of their works in-person, buying some OA or sketches I ended up following their works. I pick-up their back issues, purchase their artwork, and follow their new projects. So remember artist alley people, be nice to the people stopping by since fans help keep your projects in the news!

Comic Artists and Writers Alley
Here’s a general run-down of the creators I personably stopped by their booths and met. There were a lot more creators there for sure but this short synopsis is for the ones I checked out. So check it out people.

Bernie Wrightson (Swamp Thing, Doc Macabre) – Legendary comic artist, I’ve gotten his autograph on a couple Swamp Thing items at the previous LBCC shows and this year was able to finally buy an original piece of art. While the published pieces were still out of my price range this time his portfolio folder container preliminary artwork than ranged from $10/$20 (rough sketches of weapon designs, panel layouts) to $100 (preliminary creature designs!). I almost went for a winged creature preliminary drawing but ended up choosing a prelim. from a Warblade comic featuring him fighting a Daemonite creature. He and his wife dress up as scarecrows on Sunday.

Thomas Jane (The Punisher, Hung, The Mist)- The actor had a nice booth near the entrance promoting his comic publication (RAW Comics) and also set-up next to artist Tim Bradstreet, and kicking it laid back while wearing aviator glasses and a cigar while at the booth. Didn’t see a line at his booth when I went there and had him sign a Punisher movie adaption comic. Told him I just finished watching the entire first season of Hung DVD a few days earlier.  He also had a panel Saturday night with Tim Bradstreet. He does drive a sweet Masarati which I saw him jump into at the close of the convention.

Job Bogdanove (Power Pack, Superman)- One of the main artists during the big “Death of Superman” event for DC back in the 90s. Missed getting a sketch when he was at the Hero Initiative booth. Ended up getting a Doomsday head sketch from him and he told me that that drawing was for the first time he get the handle on Doomsday’s skull framework and was very pleased with it. Me too, the DD sketch he made was kicking and his pricing for a head sketch was very reasonable.

Joe Benitez (Titans, Lady Mechanika)- After missing his signing at booths for the past year I finally got his signature on a few books, I’m disappointed that I didn’t request a quick headshot commission since his booth was pretty empty near closing time and his pricing was reasonable as well. I saw him complete a couple headshots of Lady Mechanika for someone and they look sweet.

Darwyn Cooke (Parker, D.C.: The New Frontier, The Spirit)- Busy man at the Con, jumping in at the Hero Initiative Booth both days as well as the IDW booth to promote his new Parker book. He did quick head sketches on the Parker: Martini Edition HC book that I saw as well as hand-tinting color on a $20 Parker limited edition print. He was signing books all weekend for donations to Hero Initiative. He even told me a story regarding pilot his Chuck Yeager autograph when he was signing my New Frontier Special comic.

Amanda Conner (Power Girl, The Pro) – One of the booths with the constant lines of fans all weekend. There were comic fans who wanted sketches and prints as well as people becoming instant fans when seeing the line around her and then watching her draw. There were a good amount of people who got from her the half-torso drawings that takes about 20-30 mins. To pencil, ink, and color as well as those who got the quick 3 min. head sketches which she did for donations for the Hero Initiative. She was very nice to the fans and happy in answering questions both days. Buy some of her prints if you ever get a chance to see her at a booth!

Jimmy Palmiotti (Jonah Hex, Ash)- Sitting next to Amanda Conner at a parallel booth is her husband and noted writer/inker, Jimmy. Very nice guy and was signing a gazillion books for fans (Jonah Hex, Freedom Force, Power Girl, etc.). Once of the few booths where he was just there to sign for fans and not actually selling anything. Very nice talking to people and asking how they were enjoying the show.

David Finch (Moon Knight, Batman) – THE BUSIEST and LONGEST  line around both days was for the current hot artist on Batman: The Dark Knight. He was going solo that this show vs. SDCC, so the line for sketches and signatures was the same so you would be waiting hours for his signature if people ahead of you were getting sketches, some people I know were in line for 2+ hours. Almost every other person in line for him wanted head or torso sketches so he was booking all day and even lost his voice at the end of the show on Sunday. Also a nice guy and thanks his fans when getting sigs on books. I wish I got a head sketch commission from him. He only does pencil sketches (no inks) for the convention sketches, does anyone know if pencil work displays fine on the Marvel Fallen Son blank covers?

Ray-Anthony Height (Spider-Girl, Fear Itself: Fearsome 4)- One of fun artists to get sketches from at cons since his drawings are always so good. I had to skip out this time on getting a sketch due to budget constraints but I finally was able to get his “Bigtime: Spider-Girl” comic that he did signed. He was also working on a full-figure drawing with color of Hawkgirl that was just fantastic.

Drew Johnson (Wonder Woman, The Authority)- One of the first artists I ever talked to when I started going back to Cons last year and also the artist that I always end up walking away with art from at each show, this time a page from Supergirl and an inked & water colored drawing of Raven from Teen Titans. I also got a nice Ms. Marvel sketch from him too.

Christos Gage (Avengers Academy, Thunderbolts)- When I found out this writer was appearing I had to bring tons of his books to sign. Writers at the show (especially from DC’s new 52 relaunch) were a good amount than I’ve seen before. Again, nice guy and signed all my books and thanked me for reading.

Scott Lobdell (Teen Titans, X-Men)- I only saw him at his booth for a couple hours late on Sunday, I originally thought he skipped out on attending. He had a good amount of fans there, especially those wanting his sig on the new 52 books he’s working on.

Kevin Eastman (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)- Had a steady line during his signing appearing Saturday night. I was mis-informed he was going to appear on Sunday too which bummed me out when I found out he wasn’t coming back on Sunday. Would have loved to get the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles HC book and have him do a quick sketch on it.

Mike McKone (Spider-Man, Teen Titans)- Had him sign a ton of Teen Titans comics sine his volume of the series I am actually trying to complete the entire run. One day I’d like to be able to afford one of the original art pieces.

Dustin Nguyen (Batman, Detective Comics)- Had some cool chibi prints of his D.C. and Batman/Robin characters which is  always a draw to attendees. Thanked me for reading when I had him sign a Detective Comics book.

Whilce Portacio (Batman Confidential, X-Men)- A busy man between 1-3 p.m. since those were the hours he was signing at the Golden Apple booth the Hulk #1 ltd. Ed. That he did the cover for.

Stan Sakai (Usagi Yojimbo)- Nice creator of the phenomenal book and was cool to sign and doing a quick Usagi sketch on the covers. He was there only on Saturday. I do have an idea for a commission for next time I see him.

Todd Nauck (Spider-Man, Young Justice)- Had a steady amount of fans stopping by and getting sketches and signatures. One of the stalwarts of the So. Cal convention scene with many fans.

Steve Niles (30 Days of Night, Simon Dark)- Had a panel and booth at the con and was signing books for fans and dressed as a classy devil on Sunday.

Mark Waid (The Flash, Irredeemable)- Did signings at Hero Initiative on Saturday and for a couple hours at his booth on Sunday. He was hosting a writing panel as well. Nice gentleman and I pretty much got his signature on all my D.C. comics I had of his in my collection.

Tommy Yune (Robotech, Speed Racer)- Didn’t see him at the RobotechX booth on Saturday until the convention closed, so I caught up with him on Sunday. Kinda blindsided him which I asked for his sig on a “couple” books and I whipped out a stack of comics…he’s lucky I only brought the first issues for sigs and not entire series!

Jason Scott Campbell (Danger Girl, Cover Artist)- Had a sweet booth smack-dab in the center of the entrance way. Steady long line both days, didn’t get anything signed this time (see my So. Cal Comic Con report from this Summer). Wish I checked out his convention sketch prices.

Gerry Conway (Firestorm, Spider-Man)- Another legendary writer that I brought books to sign for when he was there on Saturday.  Was signing at the Desert Wind Comics booth and gave sigs with donations to Hero Initiative.

Mark Beachum (Samuree, Flare)- Brought him a couple old-school Samuree books from the Continuity Comics days for signing. He showed it to his pals since they haven’t seen some of his old work before from the series.

Ale Garza (Teen Titans, Supergirl)- Had him sign my Supergirl comic issue, was there both days but closed his booth early on Saturday.

Bob Layton (Iron Man, Hercules)- Was initially stationed at the back of the convention on Saturday but thankfully was put in the main center of artists alley for Sunday (I think he get Stan Sakai’s booth). Got my Hercules book signed and had cover recreations available.

JonBoy Meyers (Arana, Spider-Man)- Picked up a sketch of Dagger (of Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger duo) and his sig on a Green Lantern TPB, was bummed at the last con that I didn’t get to buy his reasonably priced preliminary sketches he was selling. Will definitely be picking up more from him in the future.

Mike S. Miller (DCU Universe: Legends, Superman)- One new artist I stumbled up at the show that had a striking similarity to Jim Lee/Ed Benes. He is the inker on the comic version of the DC Universe Online game. He had really sweet OA for sale and I just missed out on timing on getting a sketch from him. Will be on the lookout for his at shows in the future.

Norm Rapmund (Booster Gold, Superman)- Didn’t get anything signed this time, but if you know the 90s then you now Norm Rapmund’s work. I need to grab some Superman comics now for the future.

What Else Was There?

A booming public address system that’ll jostle you if you’re standing underneath one of the speakers. Very disconcerting especially at Amanda Conner’s booth, while you’re watching her draw the PA would come on and startle you.

There was a backstage show with karaoke and star wars Jedi performances. So if you needed to sit and wind down you could watch some side-performances.

Wrestling ring- You could hear people hitting the mat across the hall when they were performing. Don’t know if there was tons of attraction going on there though.

Laser Tag area near the ring where for a donation you could play laser tag against people in Star Wards costume.

The inaugural Masquerade Ball was scheduled at 8 p.m. Saturday night, but it was being held a full hour after the convention hall closed, so by the time you were ushered out you had to kill an hour before the event happened. Would have been nice if the event happened closer to the hall closing time in order to direct leaving visitors to attend the event. Does anyone have video on YouTube of the Masquerade event or link to it?

There was also a Magic: The Gathering/Warcraft card gaming event being held, but since Mr. Monster isn’t into it, didn’t pass by it for a review.

Lots of zombie cosplayers due to the same night the Long Beach Zombie Walk was happening down the street where they were trying to break the zombie attendance record or something.
Lots of really intricate Cosplayers and their costumes both days along with store-bought ones. More kids in costumes during the Sunday event.

All-in-All
I had a blast and washed away all the bad jive from the San Diego Comic Con fiasco (buying tickets, entrance line, foot traffic, etc.). LBCC is a laid back show, you can spend an hour or 2 days just hanging around. A great place to talk to creators, check out comics, see cosplay without hassle. Pricing for the show is light-years better than the Wizard World cons whose target is mainly autograph signings and photo ops with B- & C-level actors.

What Can Be Improved?
Since the con is still in its infancy, there are still a lot of kinks and things that can be improved. 

Here are my humble suggestions:

1. More publishers! Apart from Top Cow & IDW, there were none of the other big name houses in attendance. Where was Dark Horse, DDP, Archie, Bongo, Valiant, Image and most importantly Marvel & DC? In order to try and establish the show as a preeminent comic book convention in the U.S., LBCC will need to get more support from the big dogs. Some of the publisher’s top artists already set-up booths, so why not have the pubs truck their booths from SDCC and set-up in Long Beach as well? Would love to get signings from Geoff Johns and Jim Lee at a D.C. booth, Joe Q. and Lenil Francis Yu at a Marvel booth.

2. Cosplay is one of the big draws to a convention, look how it exploded at SDCC and also how gigantic Anime Expo is with cosplay? Well LBCC is smack dab in the middle location of both of them (with AX in L.A.), so why not ramp up the promotion of the event? The masquerade inaugural ball this year was a good step, too bad it was starting one hour AFTER the convention hall closed so unless people were going to hang out for an hour they left. It would be nice to had greeters telling people at the door when the convention was closing that the masquerade ball was happening still to help remind them. Invite the “key” name cosplayers to attend the event and have them in panels, copy how the new Comikaze event is having Yaya Han at their show.

3. Bring in MORE comic book dealers. Make it a priority presence to keep increasing the dealer booths, bring in modern dealers, TPB/HC resellers, manga, CGC and old-school comic dealers to attract the different niche collectors.

4. Where are the original art dealers? One of the things I liked at this year’s SDCC were the many OA dealer booths where you could peruse artwork and purchase them from a wide range of periods and artists. At LBCC there were none apart from the artists selling their own OA pages. Bring in some OA dealers and combine the comic book experience.

5. Add more check-in booths for pre-registered ticker buyers. Don’t keep people waiting in line longer than 15 mins. Trying to get their badge or you’ll turn off their giddiness by waiting in line for so long. I’ve read reviews from first-time attendees and they’re not coming back because they were so turned off by the line and wait time on Saturday.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Reviews as of 8/1/11

Day by Day Armageddon
Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour
Usagi Yojimbo: The shrouded moon       
JLA: Waorld War III
Sentinel Vol. 1 & 2
Batman: Long Shadowss
Batman: Secrets
Batman and the Monster Men
Green Lantern: Passing the Torch
Wonder Woman: MIssion's End
Wonder Woman: Down to Earth
Spider-Girl Vol. 2
Incognito

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Reviews as of 8/1/11

Thor: The Mighty Avenger (Vol. 2) TPB
Daytripper
Hellboy: Masks & Monsters
X-Men: Messiah Complex
Bad Girls

Saturday, July 30, 2011

San Diego Comic Con 2011 (Sunday) Report & Review

SDCC 2011: 1-Day (Sunday) Report and Review
Now I haven’t gone to the San Diego Comic Con since before it grew into GIGANTIC proportions (around ’03 or ’04). I first went to Comic Con in the late 90s when you could pretty much see all the booths in a couple of hours; I’ve also been when the build-up was happening to its mass-market popularity so heading out to and experiencing Comic Con today was quite an experience (good  & bad).

GET YOUR TICKETS HERE
As those who experienced the hassle of ordering tickets for 2011 know it was both a major pain and chore just to acquire them. Online ticket purchase crash earlier this year on several occasions causing SDCC to continue to adjust dates when the public can try to order them. Those that took time off to try and purchase them during the first round got skunked since it wasn’t until many weeks later that ticket ordering kind of started. It was a Saturday morning that the final announcement that online ticket purchase was finally available, of course the site was hammered immediately and only those that managed to refresh their browsers over and over to hit an order screen were lucky. 

I was inquiring on some comic message boards if Sunday tickets were easy to acquire since I did not know if I had time to try and log on Saturday, forum responders said Sundays were slower and tickets should be available through the next day…thankfully I didn’t listen to them since Sunday tickets sold out within minutes of open registration. I was able to get two Sunday tickets after F5ing the browser for close to 5 hours. I was even told that some people’s friends who were in IT had commandeered their office servers to try and acquire tickets only to get one pass. 

I sure miss the days of being able to stand in line the same day as the event and still be able to get in.

LET’S ROLL TO SAN DIEGO
I knew that there was pre-paid parking now available on-line to order ahead of time, but when I checked the day before of course every pre-paid parking option was closed, so I hoped for the best for parking situations. In the past I was able to park in the Gas lamp District just a few blocks from the convention center about an hour or two before the convention started, and that was on Saturdays. This year I decided to head out early and arrived in downtown San Diego without any morning traffic. I hit Market Street and headed to the last open-air parking spot I remembered being able to park at. Behind the Metro Transit and hotel was the parking lot, of course half of it was roped off for trailers and containers for the event. There was a short line to get in and space was limited, thankfully getting there at 8:00 a.m. still managed to get a great spot…

Parking Cost: $30.00
Of course the cost of parking was ridiculously high, the highest I’ve paid, beating out daily rates in Los Angeles and San Francisco. The short walk across the railways was a plus though and well worth it if you needed to drop-off items in your vehicle in-between events.

THE LINE OF LINES
Getting out of the car and seeing the convention, you see throngs of people. Tons. So it was time to find the line entry, I remember being able to stand in line near the entrance back in the day, this time it was starting behind the Marriott hotel. When I say behind, I mean waayyyyyyy behind. The line for Sunday morning stretch from the entrance, the side, the back, the parking lot, the marina parking, the back of the marina and then wrapped again. It took about 15 minutes just to walk from the SDCC entrance to where the end of the line began. Once in line it was thankfully orderly and it started moving forward around 8:30 a.m. The march took roughly 20-30 minutes to get to the upstairs ticketing counter. Getting your badge pass was ultra-quick and took less than a few minutes to acquire. I remember when the computer ticketing (along with the manual book) was first introduced and the process still took a long time. 

Once badged-up, we received our convention book (now in Color!) and also got the cool daily Con report that was helpful if you wanted updated news just for the day. The freebie table was weak with just flyers and handouts, I still don’t know why people stand in line for that, just go online and get the same information.

There was a line to get in and spoke to another guest who said he was only able to get Sunday tickets. The line started moving around 9 a.m. to get into the Convention which amazed me since most Cons I’ve attended only open exactly at the time (the event time was listed to start at 9:30 a.m.). Went down the elevator and finally into the Convention hall and it is still huge. Since we were still early and I wanted to hit Artist Alley first to get some signatures I could not find an event staffer to ask where the location was. Once staffer said it would be on one of either side of the Hall….gee thanks. 

Other staffers were talking on their cell phone. Thankfully I had a staffer point out the location on our guide and point us in the right direction. Arrived at the artists alley and it was pretty empty with only a handful of artists already set-up, must’ve had a hard partying Saturday night! I rounded the artist’s alley a few times since it was the location where all the original art dealers were. 


ARTIST’S & THEIR ALLEY
Here’s my brief synopsis of the artists I was able to meet or at least pass by. I was disappointed that I missed because their booths were listed under a Studio name and not theirs so I didn’t bring any books for them to sign. I wanted to stop by some dollar book booths to try and root for comics for signature signings, but just didn’t have time to stop and sort with all the traffic going on.

I wish SDCC would give a larger font for artists or the booth vendors since I always had to stare pretty thoroughly to make sure the artist at a booth was the person I was looking for and not some assistant or someone else since I’m not familiar with their faces.

Jeff Smith- Saw him at his booth for signing between 4-5 p.m. when I came by at the start time the line for his signing was two booths long and I was just one person shy of the cut-off line. Since I had to see another booth before closing I knew there was no way I could wait in line for his signature so I ditched the line. I walked by around 4:45 p.m. on my way out and saw my place in line was still a good 15 minutes away from getting to the front.

Adam Hughes- No line at his booth when the convention started, didn’t know he was going to be there and I had no books on me. Didn’t know if he signed at certain times of if you could just walk up to him.

Jim Steranko- Also didn’t know he was attending, I just walked past his studio booth and saw this man all dressed up for a swanky night on the town.

Bill Sienkiewicz- Again also didn’t know he would be there and had no books on me.
Jim Califiore- Shared a booth with Mike McKone, friendly person and signed books. Stopped by his booth later the day and was chatting with one of the attendants there, ended up getting a Secret Six page for a really good low price. Would have loved to get a full team art page.

Mike McKone- Got him to sign a couple books, had some good sales on his remaining Sinestro Corps original art. Would have gone for some art but tapped out already.

Brent Anderson- Only saw his booth in artists alley at the end of the day, can’t believe I missed his listing since I have just picked up a good run of Astro City books. Checked out his OA pages but I was priced out from acquiring any of them.

Sergio Aragones- Had an actual booth at the back of the convention near the food alley and not artist’s alley. Was away from the booth when I walked by. Stopped by later the day and waited about 20 minutes in line to get him to sign a book. His booth allowed up to 3 free autographs otherwise it was suggested to donate $1.00 per additional books for donation to the CBLDF. Sergio signed and made little quick sketches on each book. Books were cover price and you could get a poster. A gentleman purchased an original Groo page and Sergio did a quick head sketch and colored it as well. He was intrigued when I presented him with the pop-up cover Mighty Magnor comic I just got, asked if he can pop-it up and I said yes and he proceeded with his Swiss-army knife to cut the top so we could see the pop-up cover in action.

Cliff Chiang- Saw him at his shared booth doing an interview, again another artist I have been following recently and didn’t know about was appearing. Missed trying to get one of his preliminary cover art pieces that I could afford, but his booth was packing up early (4:45-ish) so I didn’t have a chance to buy anything from.

Jerry Bingham- Another friendly artist accommodating the signing of one book I brought. I didn’t get to bring Son of the Demon TPB since it was the over-size format and didn’t have room for it.

Zander Cannon- Did a quick signing of books for me and showed me three of his available Top 10 OA he did  with Gene Ha, great pieces out of my price range. Had a good amount of Smax art for reasonable prices as well.

Tony DeZuniga- Legendary Filipino artists, was able to get him to sign my Adventure Comics with the first appearance of Black Orchid which he is a co-creator of.

David Finch- Popular artist with a slight line-up at his booth. A good amount of fans awaiting sketches, thankfully his wife separated those of us only wanting signatures so we didn’t have to wait long while he sketched for others…that’s the way to do it!

Ale Garza- Got two quick signatures on some Teen Titans books, don’t know if it was a tough day or not but he was the only artist I met that didn’t say anything to me when I asked for his signature.

Scott Hampton- Was able to get my dog-eared Books of Magic TPB and a couple books signed. Scott didn’t have a stirrer for his coffee in the morning so we were watching him stir it with one of his markers. Another accommodating artist, his original art portfolio was great and I wish I could afford one.

Chad Hardin- One of the very first artists readily available in artist alley in the morning, wish I had his new Zatanna comics on hand. He and his wife were enthused when I had him sign the slightly older Countdown to Mystery series. I got to remember to bring the entire series for signing next time since it took me a few years to track down all the issues.

Jamal Igle- Was able to get him to sign a couple books as well.

Ron Lim            - I couldn’t find his area in artists alley that day, anyone see him there?

David Mack- I’m so glad I brought a few Kabuki comics, I remember seeing him years ago and never having anything ready. So this year even though I didn’t see his name on the website (I didn’t remember his studio name) I brought a few comics in case (I also brought some Rob Liefield comics but didn’t see him there). As he signed my comics he asked me if I read his new series, I told him I was just getting back in comics after over 10 years out of the loop and he was kind enough to give me 3 comics for free. I do wish I stopped to ask for a quick Kabuki head sketch, drats!

Todd Nauck- His booth was pretty busy throughout the day so I had to skip him signing a comic. Thankfully he pretty much hits every So. Cal convention I’ve been at so I’ll catch him next time.    
Dustin Nguyen- Was setting up his booth in the morning so I waited a bit so he got all his settings squared away. Asked if I liked the Streets of Gotham series and I of course said yes.

Peter V. Nguyen- Saw Peter at Long Beach Comic Con earlier this year and after finding out he did a Secret Six comic brought an issue for his signature, told me it was his first D.C. comics gig.

Whilce Portacio- A mainstay of local So. Cal conventions, able to get him to sign some comics. Always attracts a good contingent of fellow Filipino fans.

Philip Tan- Went passed his booth in the morning when it was empty, but later that day I could not find his location at all.


ITS SHOWTIME- THE FLOOR
After the brief walk-around artist’s alley (now about 9:30-ish) I headed back to circle the entire convention floor room. I was going to try and hit the Supernatural panel in Hall H, but a person in line said that the line started way early in the morning for all the Hall H shows and pretty much impossible to get in now. Once 10:00 a.m. hit the convention floor booked-up, I’ve never seen this much traffic even during the Saturday SDCC events in the past I attended. I had to navigate the booths with my elbows out to keep people from running into me since it was so tight. There was only a couple aisles where traffic was light, but once you hit the middle of the convention floor, the perimeter or the opposite end of the artist’s alley, video game area foot traffic came to a stop. Every major booth, especially those with exclusive items (i.e. Hasbro, D.C., Nickelodeon, etc.) had lines stretching within minutes of the door opening. I remember the last time I was in line and that was when Hasbro was selling Pimp-Daddy Destro.

This was the first convention where I did not stop to check out the booths since my main goal was to see the entire floor, and with the amount of people and space there was no way I could look around at each booth in detail and walk the entire floor. I even missed out on checking the upstairs signing booths to see all the B & C-level actors/models since I did not want to trudge upstairs again to see what was going on.

Timeframe to walk entire main showroom floor: 9:30 a.m.- 1:30 p.m. (4 hours) going at maximum pace.

It was tough to take pictures of items in booths or have your photo taken with the statues/life-size figures since there just wasn’t a lot of breathing room or break in foot traffic for good clear shots I thought.  Any booth that had a line of more than 5 people I stayed away from since it meant that the booth would have snaking lines where I wouldn’t be able to bust through (talking to you D.C. & Walking Dead booths!).

WHERE MY COS-PLAYERS AT?
When I overheard other attendants and even other coverage reports I knew that I wasn’t mistaken that there was not tons of cos-players on Sunday. I was used to seeing costumed people every 10 steps from before, but this day it was rare to see a steadily streaming costumed folks, heck even nearing the end of the Con along the outside lobby I didn’t see anymore cos-players to take photos with. The usual roving Star Wars or Anime groups I did not see at all.

SHOW ME THE COMICS
I was pleasantly surprised to see a fair amount of comic booths at the show after hearing their near demise. Still the comic book booths were fairly limited and in my opinion accounted for less than 25% of the booth-types at the show. Saw the usual costume, cable tv, clothing, swords & sorcery, small-publishers, toys, and tons of anime-related items mostly.

Of the comic booths available, the main chunk were those catering to golden/silver/bronze age fans with a sprinkle of booths selling key, moderns and trade paperbacks. While the vintage and modern comics were retailing at their usual guide or cover price, come Sunday there were a fair batch of booths selling their TPBs from 50% to 60% off cover price. 

With my handy-dandy Evernote on my phone, I was tracking the booths that had modern comics for sale around .50 cents to a dollar; though I only noted less than 5 booths with cheap issues and usually only averaging 2-3 short boxes of which there were people already circling like vultures around. Though I circled back there just wasn’t an opening for me to look through the boxes or have space to even take a peek. 

I’m hoping Long Beach Comic Con rocks out later this year since I’m still looking for some issues to fill in my runs without needing me to go online.

HUNGRY!
Took a break around 1:30 p.m. to drop-off the signed comics (I took too much since most of it filled my backpack) in the car and lighten the load off my spine. Thankfully the air conditioning and the cool San Diego weather was good that day and the usual July heat was not in effect that day. Walked into a Café for lunch but was turned away since they were closing, along with pretty much every restaurant and dive near the Gaslamp District for some reason. I didn’t want to walk too far off so we walked a few blocks trying to spot open food places and those that were still open had lines up the whazoo. 

Ended up taking a break at a Deli across the street from the Sprint tent and ordered some sandwiches ($8.00 a pop). Ate outside to people watch and saw all the peddle cabs with their Comic Con themed rides (Game of Thrones seat, Captain America wheelcaps) along with tons of trucks, motorbikes, bicycles pulling advertising for upcoming movies, tv and other fun things. Anyone see the lady peddle-cab driver dressed up in a schoolgirl outfit? How come no one was taking that bike for a ride around town, come on fellas!?

FINAL COUNTDOWN
Finished lunch and headed back to convention center for a last couple hours before the close of the day, this time had an agenda to get some final signatures from the artists that were not at their booths earlier. 

I spent the rest of the day picking up some original comic art and checking out the booths selling OA and animation cels.  Since it was Sunday, I knew this was probably the best time to get deals (one of the reasons I chose to go on Sunday besides not hitting Saturday crowds). I was able to shave a few bucks off some purchases just by asking the sellers what their best price for an item was. I was even able to get a discount just by inquiring if there was any more art available to view.

IT’S A REAL ART-A-FAIR UP IN HERE
Since I’ve been checking out original art this year and SDCC is pretty much the only major game in Southern California to see a good amount of art dealers in one spot. I’ve preferred to purchase original art directly from artists in order to definitely confirm that the artwork is original as well as properly answer if a piece is pencil, ink over pencil, ink over blueline, with or without stats, preliminary, etc., but most of the pieces I’ve been looking at were being repp’d by OA Dealers. 

If you stayed without a few aisle radius of the artist alley then you would have seen the bulk of the OA dealers. There were several scattered dealers across the show floor on the opposite side (i.e. Anthony’s Collectibles, etc.). I was surprised at some OA dealer booths where the bulk and focus of the artwork were Silver Age or earlier pieces along with older comic strip art with nothing more modern (aka Cheaper priced).

It was nice seeing some Jack Kirby pieces, but with their prices starting around $3k I didn’t stick too long at those booths. I was able to pick up a Filmation Hawkman cel that I’ve been wanting to acquire at a really good price, for some reason eBay prices for Hawkman’s cartoon skyrocketed this past year. Stopped by Anthony’s Collectibles and his booth had tons of art to go over. 

I had time to go through only several folders and ended up getting a nice Paul Gulacy piece that I’ve been trying to acquire from a couple different sources. I probably would’ve picked up more at this booth but some pieces listed on his online store were just recently bought. Good deals though if you purchased multiple items. Passed by Cool Line Artwork’s booth pretty fast as well as a smaller booth that had a Mark Bright page from Green Lantern: Emerald Dawn II (too $$ I thought for a so-so page).

Booths 4200-4400 had the big grouping of original art dealers together. I know that Romitaman.com and Splash Page Art were in that batch. Lots of nice items to look through and not very heavily trafficked so you had a good chance of browsing through the lot of art without too much of the hassle of people side-by-side. It was pretty laid back at their booths as I was pretty much rummaging through the files and no one asked me if I had any questions at all. I did have some OA pieces I reserved from Mike Burkey (Romitaman.com) and was able to pick up a couple Green Lantern: Emerald Twilight pages (one of my favorite storylines) as well as a dramatic Spider-Girl page by Pat Oliffe (I’ve never read the comic yet but the page looked nice).
Wish tons more OA dealers showed up more at local cons as those that set-up in San Diego.


FINAL IMPRESSIONS
Wow, that is one busy, congested and stress-inducing comic convention. Sunday’s event was overwhelming, I can’t even imagine how it was on Saturday when all the heavyweight events were happening. Got to see a ton of things that I don’t even remember since I was too busy zipping by. Met some artists in-person who were very cool. Spent too much money I know I will regret. My legs and back ached afterwards, but it was still an interesting and worthwhile event.
Would I go back again to San Diego Comic Con? No, because the event has grown so large and so crowded that while fun, it was stressful as well. Just the act of acquiring tickets to the event was a chore that took me half a day for which I will not be doing again. 

Maybe if the convention center expands to give more aisle room for foot traffic, non-site crashing ticket buying and banning people with strollers (parent’s with newborns and small kids, leave them at home if you need to push them in a stroller, its not worth it to jam up people all around you especially if you stop in the middle of the floor to gawk at things). 

It’s probably a lot more fun to attend SDCC if you attend the entire 4-day event so you’re not rushing around to see everything like I did, though you can expect to pay TOO MUCH for the hotel room, overnight parking and hiked-up food prices during the show dates.

See you Comic Con, I’ll check you out online for the foreseeable future.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Comic Books: Trade Paperback & Graphic Novel Reviews as of 5/10/11

Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne
Batman: The Widening Gyre
Fables: Witches
D.C.'s Blackest Night
The Amazing Screw-On Head and Other Curious Objects
Thor: The Mighty Avenger

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Long Beach Comic Expo 2011 Event Review

I attended my first Long Beach Comic Expo 2011 this year and did have fun even though the venue was smaller than expected and some locations blocked off due to filming.
The Long Beach Comic Expo is indeed a small comic convention, it doesn’t use the main convention center’s ballroom (compared to the regular Long Beach Comic Con) and actually the event is held in one of the side banquet rooms. Even though the room and Expo event wasn't gigantic by any means, the room was packed and by noon you could expect to bump into people while traversing the aisles or going through comic long boxes.

I originally thought that since the convention hall was small that I would be out of there in less than an hour… I ended up spending most of the day there mostly checking out the artist area and a few comic booths. You could actually walk through and see all the booths in about 10 minutes if you wanted to at a brisk pace.


I arrived an hour early to the Long Beach Convention Center and since the Expo is a one-day event compared to the 3-day Long Beach Comic Con, I was able to park in the main parking lot underneath the center. I recommend arriving early to park in the underground parking since if you plan on buying items and do not want to haul them around all day, being able to hop into the elevator and drop-off the items in my car multiple times was a plus.


This is a comic-related focused event, and unlike the LBCC or Wizard World Anaheim shows, there were no “celebrities” manning booths here. Booths were primarily comic-oriented with a good amount of golden/silver/bronze age dealers, comic artists (seasoned & independent) as well as a few booths selling cosplay-related goods.

Personally, I’m a modern comic reader/collector and this Expo only had a few booths selling modern comics. Bargain hunters note that I spotted only a three bargain-related booths; one booth with a couple short boxes of 50 center comics and a big booth selling dollar comics that was packed full of buyers throughout the day.  I still prefer the Frank & Sons event for bargain-basement cheap reads, but I was able to get a backpack full of comics here as well to help fill in some gaps in my collection.

Since the Con lacked wide-berth spacing, I was constantly being bumped into while looking thorough boxes in the floor where someone would end up swooping above my head or bumping into me if they didn’t pay attention that someone was indeed on the floor. I had to stand up and elbow a few people off me a couple of times for those that don’t realize a thing called “personal space.” Thank goodness I’m not a scrawny little geek and doesn’t mind standing up to let people know to back off me to give me some breathing room. As usual, there were some smelly con-attendees there; oddly they mostly consisted of late-middle aged gentlemen.
The main reason to attend the Expo you ask? The artists and professionals there of course! Almost half the booths at the event were manned by artists, publishers, writers, etc. I was able to bring some comics from my collection and get them signed by notables such as Bernie Wrightson, Mike McKone, Marv Wolfman, Drew Johnson, and Eric Canete. I ran out of time the night before otherwise I would have looked through my collection a bit more thoroughly to find some Trent Kaniuga, Dustin Nguyen, and Peter Nguyuen comics for them to autograph. I was bummed that Peter Nguyuen was the artist on Secret Six (which I dig a lot) and I have at home, but didn’t realize he was attending.
Note to the Long Beach Comic Con program writers: When you list the artists attending the show, it would be very helpful if you can include next to their name the comics they worked on as a quick reference.
With the small venue, you were assured being able to communicate directly with the artists and get yourself a print, sketch or original art. I ended up purchasing several original art pieces as well as getting a couple sketches. Conventions like these I think help visitors get into learning about artists they may never have dealt with or know about their work before. Generally some basic sketches ranged from $40 for head/busts to $80+ for full body commissions. Don’t have a lot of cash to splurge on OA? Go ahead and support your artists and help pay for their booth by buying an art print or sketchbook. Most of the artists there were mainly amicable and nice to talk to. My suggestion for artists looking to sell sketches or drum up more traffic to their booths? Smile, there were a few “name” artists that weren’t too happy looking sitting at their booths which I think contributed to their less than stellar audience traffic.
I did enjoy artist’s booths with low general sketching prices. I missed out on one artist that was selling roughs and preliminary sketches for between $10-$20 that I planned on buying but missed out since he packed-up earlier than the show’s closing and I was caught up at another booth.

Shame that a couple aisles and the front of the center were blocked off where they were filming some web-show thing and the crew kept telling people that certain areas you couldn't walk into.

The positive part was the artists for me (I'm not a big GA/SA comic collector), so being able to meet, get signatures/sketches/OA was cool. Some artists seemed very busy throughout, though some did start packing up around 4p.m. Most of the artists did say they were planning on attending the Wizard World Anaheim Convention, a few saying only on Saturday though.

A few Cosplayers attended with mainly the Star War’s 501st Legion group in full-force. Since the ballroom was small, there was not much space for the cosplayers to march around and show their wares. Many of the cosplayers were nice and didn’t mind picture taking with some of the attendees.
Looking forward now to the full-blown Long Beach Comic Con in October!








 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Comic Books: Trade Paperback & Graphic Novel Reviews as of 4/2/11

Batman & Robin: Batman vs. Robin
Fables: Vol. 12, 13, 14
Captain America:  Road to Reborn
Captain America:  The Two Americas
Superman/Batman: Night & Day
The Dark Tower: Battle of Jericho Hill
Halo: Helljumper
Invincible: Ultimate Collection Vol. 3, 4
Cover Run: The DC Comics Art of Adam Hughes

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Comic Book Original Art: Framed and Displayed Pages- The Spectre


Theme for January 2011 Comic Art: The Spectre

Finally had a chance to get my OA into some frames and onto my wall. Put together my Spectre retrospective up for now. Planning on switching up the theme every once in a while. 

Digging on the 11x17 frames that are super-cheap at Michaels, just need to keep the pieces out of direct sunlight.

Also framed a blown-up copy of Mike Grell's Batman: Masque and a Green Lantern sketch by Dean Trippe on either side.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Deals of the Week: Shoes Galore

Picked up back-to-back shoes at the local thrift store a couple weeks ago some pretty slick kicks. Also found a pair of basic black Nike golf shoes for $15.00 that were replacing a pair of busted-up Nike golf shoes as well. Prior to heading out of the store a nearly new pair of white/black/red basketball shoes caught my eye for $13.00.

Threw them both into the washing machine and a couple days outside in the sun and they looked almost brand new!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Software Recommendation: Any Video Converter

Just in case you need to convert files to .swf, I ended up using this Any Video Converter freeware off Download.com and one of the few converters allowing .swf conversion.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Computer Issues: Plugged in, Not Charging Battery Issue on Windows 7

This issue just happened to me tonight after I did a Windows Update and turned on my eMachines, Win7 laptop (less than 10 months old) that started to show me the "Plugged in, not charging message" that I initially thought was due to the recent Windows update.


First I just turned off the laptop and removed and placed back the battery. Once I booted up and plugged the adapter in it showed 100% charge, but when I removed the cord, the battery setting read 96%. When I plugged the cord back in it read 100% still. So I knew there was an issue.

It does look like you have to do the disable, unplug AC, shutdown, then replug, boot-up to get the charge to start working again since when I just disabled/enabled, nothing changed.

Here are two ways to try and get your battery charging again.

INSTRUCTIONS #1
  • Turn off laptop and unplug the AC power.
  • Remove the laptop battery.
  • Put the AC power back in and turn on the laptop.
  • When you are back up and running off of the AC power, shut down the computer again.
  • Once shut down, unplug AC power.
  • Put the laptop battery back in followed by the AC power again.
  • Turn on laptop. Hover over the battery icon and hopefully the icon shows it charging now.

INSTRUCTIONS #2
  • You will need to go to your Device Manager and uninstall MS ACPI compliant Control Method Battery and then uninstall the device.

  • Unplug the AC adapter then shut down the laptop.

  • Re-plug in the AC adapter, then reboot. Roll-over and check the batter setting icon to make sure it reads Chargin. Did not have to scan for hardware changes.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Comic Book Store Review: Midtown Comics NYC

SUMMARY
I've earlier purchased about $25 worth of comics the month prior, but during last December Midtown Comics had a good 30%-40% off back issue sale that I couldn't pass up to help fill my collection.

I purchased some mostly moderns with a stack of Bronze issue Vertigos. Conditions were from VG-FN and upon initial inspection look as so. Only disappointment I have along with the previous order was one comic book I needed to complete my run was out of stock. This particular DC comic I ordered last month and appeared available, but when my order was fulfilled it was marked us unavailable. So when I was purchasing the following month and the issue was shown as available I ended up picking it again instead of buying it from MyComicShop.com since the price was a bit lower. Unfortunately for the second time when my order was fulfilled the comic was marked unavailable once again.

While Midtown Comics does have a nice selection of comics, their backlog of older pre-90s back issues are lacking compared to MyComicShop.com, but they do shine in their packaging which come boxed tightly and using some big bubble wraps. The comics also came packed bagged and boarded which trumps MyComicShop.com's bagged-only shipment.

Shipment was odd since while I did receive an update within three business days, the package was initially ground shipped via UPS to a central facility in my state and then shipped a second time via USPS  which I thought if it was shipped directly via Postal would have arrived a few days earlier. My first shipment initally seems to hang around the UPS sorting facility for a couple days before it was finally tracked again on USPS.

Ordered over $75 get free standard shipping.

OVERALL
Midtown Comics would rate close to a 4 out of 4 for me only if the availability of a particular comic didn't end up out of stock in two particular instances where it was ordered as well as if they had a wider range of back issue selections.
Pricing, fulfillment and shipment were adequate and refunds on missing comics were prompt and overall experience a positive. It would be nice if their Want List button was available during invetory search without having to drill down into the particular comic's description page (MyComicShop.com has a more streamlined Want List set-up) 
Sign-up for their newsletter and receive member-only coupon codes for discuounts.

Rating: 3.5 out of 4 Monster Stars

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Comic Book Store Review: MyComicShop.com

SUMMARY
Purchased around $50.00 worth of bronze, copper and modern age comics from the only store mycomicshop.com aka Lone Star Comics in Texas where they have B&M stores. Out of the 40+ set of issues, only one comic was out of stock which was promptly refunded to my payment account.

Shipping was pretty fast, with just under 7 business days from payment to receipt of comics via USPS Media Mail. All comics were bounds pretty tightly in cardboard and taped and boxed. Condition of the comics were near as stated.

The only issue I have is that apart from two comics being bagged and boarded, the remaining batch of comics were not. I don't know if this is to cut cost on shipping weight or space, but I find it pretty hokey for a comic shop to ship comics unbagged and boarded. 

Regarding shipping, while I did receive a notice that my order was shipped I did not receive delivery tracking information via an email or elsewhere on my online account.

OVERALL
While the lack of shipment tracking and lack of bags/boards, the fast delivery and only one missing comic makes this a worthwhile try. Sign-up for their newsletter and receive member-only coupon codes.

Rating: 3.5 out of 4 Monster Stars

Comics Alliance