I love Baltimore. I really do. The traffic coming up on the 95 from North Carolina might not be the best, but it's always worth it once we get into the city and see the convention center that host the Baltimore Comic-Con.
Though there wasn't a Ravens game (as there usually is) there was an Orioles game (Camden Yards is right next to the Convention Center). I took my girlfriends son there on Friday night and we watched the Orioles whup the White Sox 4-0.
I love Baltimore.
The amazing Randy Tischler was there to hook up behind the panels with two press passes so Melanie banks and I could do our usual run of interviews, photos, and book reviews from aspiring artists. This was the best year by far!
The shows second annual yearbook featured Stan Sakai's ever popular, and one year shy of 30 years in comics, Usagi Yojimbo. It featured artwork from talented folks that were scattered throughout the show, and the always fun "scavenger hunt" began. 10 signatures would get you a print that wasn't included in the book, and for every 5 after that you'd get another. Always fun! (In case anyone missed the previous years book, it featured Frank Cho's Liberty Meadows!
Joe Hill (Author of Locke & Key) was a huge hit at the IDW table and the line wrapped around the interior of the Con like some sort of hungry snake. It was an awesome opportunity to meet Joe Hill, who was donning an awesome Watership Down T-shirt and he had one of his father's novels tucked in his back pocket.
I had some interview rounds with folks like Brian Pulido, Jimmy Gowenley, Stan Sakai and others (The Interviews from THIS year's show are undergoing editing - the links will take you to previous con interviews) - Stan Lee was unable to make the Con this year, but AMC had the show "Comic Book Men" on hand down on the floor while Kevin Smith (yes, that Kevin Smith) and Jason Mewes were upstairs previewing a showing of their new cartoon film. You could tell whenever the Comic Book Men crew were on the floor because the place would just erupt in cheers and applause!
The Cosplaying was amazing, as always! and I did some candid pics with Melanie and the Cosplayers.
Stan Sakai sat quietly at his table illustrating the next issue of Usagi Yojimbo while a lan of fans waited patiently for a signature and a hand shake.
Don Rosa (of Uncle Scrooge fame) exclaimed that this had been his best state side show in FOREVER and mentioned that he only ever had lines like this in Europe!
Mike Mignola was once again at his (very) sparse table (does he really need to promote anything, he's Mike Mignola) and being very pleasant with everyone who wanted to chit chat with the famed Hellboy creator.
David Petersen was at his Mouse Guard booth entertaining fans with personalized mouse guard quickie sketches and discussing the next story arc of Mouse Guard "The Weasel Wars"
Frank Cho was set up with a two new sketch books and was also accompanied by Cosplayer Ivy Doomkitty who was selling prints of her, illustrated by Frank Cho titled "Dat Ass"
I Spent sometime over at Insight Studios table discussing a future project with Mark Wheatley and Marc Hempel, of which we are all very excited but can't actually discuss right now. But when it hit's everyone's going to be super excited!
Both days were packed to the brim with treasure hunts, panels, costume contests, getting together with old friends and having a pretty amazing time for 48 straight hours.
As a matter of fact, I even spoke with show promoter Marc Nathan about something really special both Melanie and I would like to do there next year. Once that all gets ironed out I'll fill all of you in with the details!
I can't wait for BALTIMORE COMIC-CON 2014 - They're stretching it out to a 3 day event! September 5-7th.
Mark your calendars!!
Free Comic Book Day is right around the corner. I'll be working but my buddy will be going in my place to pick up a few choice requested titles.
Here's something I've been thinking about recently.
Archaia is releasing the 1st Hard Cover Book in Free Comic Book Day History. You can read about it here with an exclusive interview with David Petersen.
Now I'm just as excited as anyone else. This is an amazing opportunity for everyone, both the companies and the fans. I'm also really glad to see that it's an Independent publisher that is making this first leap. I think that's really important and I think it's something to take note of for a very important reason.
Will this whole thing become a perversion of the spirit of Free Comic Book Day? as an avid fan and collector of comic books and seller and buyer on eBay I see how things work behind the scenes. And I don't like what I think may becoming down the pipe.
Here's an example - when I go to a convention there's a few rules I follow. Not always, but sometimes. When I go to a creators table I usually will buy Sketch Books (if available), Original Art and Prints and I may purchase a commission (if their list hasn't gotten too long). That's how I support the Artist. I will not buy individual issues from them most of the time for a couple of reasons. 1. I can usually find it cheaper on eBay and 2. they usually have a collected volume that I would rather purchase off the table. I do the buying portion because Sketch Books, Original Art, Prints and Commissions are always going to be cheaper if you buy from the artist. They're going to get a larger chunk of change from selling those than from selling their individual issues. When I look on ebay the ONLY thing that's cheaper is the individual comics. Everything else is at least double the price, and I can't stand it! A print that cost's $20.00 on the Artists table will go for $50.00 on eBay. You know why? because you can't get it anywhere else. If you don't catch a Con, you're screwed. The same thing happens with individual issues - and I really HATE this - the guy standing in line with 50 copies of a Free Comic Book Day issue of, oh, I don't know, say Mouse Guard - get's them all signed and then hocks them for $10.00 a piece. It's disgusting.
I'm using Mouse Guard as the example because I see it on eBay on a regular basis. I know it sucks if you can't make it to a show, and it's nice that people are giving you the opportunity to buy it another way (even though it was originally free) but to Bleed someone dry is just sort of shitty, you know.
And here's the future problem I see. Archaia is doing a great thing. But just imagine how much that book will be selling for in a year. Two years. More. And then the two big guns, Marvel and D.C. might just get the picture - hey! what if we release these as 1:50 options to the stores - that way they can overstock on our garbage and then they can only hand out a few of the RARE Free Comic Book Day Hard Covers. People still will come out for FCBD but I fear it's going to turn into some sort of cut-throat competition for fans.
The point of this day is to promote readership (obviously) and having the first Hard Cover will do that. However, I have a bad feeling that this is going to lead to more sharks on eBay - sad kids who didn't get the Variant edition of a free comic on FCBD or didn't get the 1:50 Hard Cover or whatever they may come up with.
I hope I'm wrong. I hope that the spirit of FCBD remains in tact and doesn't become twisted.
I'm throwing this out to all the aspiring writers and artists out there!
Do you have material that you'd like to have reviewed? Would you yourself like to be interviewed on the site? Shoot me a message in the comments block below and I'll send you a mailing address where you can send hard copy books or scripts (all will be reviewed and posted on the site!) or you can send an attached copy of your work via email - either way is fine.
The main reason for this site is to HELP promote Independent artists who may otherwise not have the means to have there material published or are lacking exposure.
-----------------Marvel & D.C. (The Evil Within?) An Intermission
I was never really a fan of Marvel and D.C. and I know I'll draw a lot of criticism for saying this, but all of the best art I've seen and all of the best stories I've read have come from either smaller publishers or by means of Independent publishing. I have some marvel books and a few DC/Vertigo - It's sort of like when your playing in a band - The audience wants to hear songs that they know and can sing along with, so you have to do covers of other peoples work to get your feet wet. Once the audience starts to recognize your unique talents and abilities, it's time to wash them over with your own material. It's a sad truth but it is what it is. The first Comic I ever bought was Amazing Spider Man issue 347 (With an Erik Larsen Cover no less!) and the first song I leaned how to play was "House of the Rising Sun" - but things change, you know. People grow.
I mean, look at the Image guys, that's how they started - everyone plugging away at Marvel. Look, I don't know how Marvel and D.C. actually treat their employees because I've never worked there. I know that when some comes up with an idea there, the company usually ends up owning it. I do know that working for other people always has it's downfalls (you know, like, working for other people, aving them steal your ideas or keep them and then except all the accolades, praise and acclaim - and sometimes fortune - for it), and working for yourself has it's downfalls (No Insurance, no retirement benefits) but working for yourself or for a publishing company that understands - you've got the best thing in the world. CREATOR OWNED RIGHTS. God, I love saying that. Creator Owned Rights. Let's get a level on this mic here - I'll start with the publishing companies.
IMAGE & DARK HORSE (Probably the two most influential after Marvel and D.C.) Producing great works with minimal complaints (if any) from most artists and writers. Most Notable from the Dark Horse group (for me, at least) is CONCRETE by Paul Chadwick and HellBoy by Mike Mingola - oh, well, BEANWORLD By Larry Marder too - but that's only been as of recently, as he was under his own publishing company before releasing the Hard Cover collections. Usagi Yojimbo by Stan Sakai. Frank Miller's Sin City, Eric Powell's THE GOON - the list goes on and on, and as far as I can tell (since I have no immediate access to these people or their private contracts) Dark Horse gives them complete autonomy over their own works. and that's what makes all the difference here. CREATOR OWNED. they tell their stories the way they want to and illustrate them how they see fit (collaborative pieces not withstanding) and they have an understanding and appreciative label. Dark Horse also releases some great work from other people as well. Shannon Wheeler just released his Too Much Coffee Man under the Dark Horse Banner - and a some years back Dark Horse released a hard cover collection of arguably one of the best online artists and one of the most hysterical, with Nicholas Gurewitche's "The Perry Bible Fellowship" and if I'm not mistaken, Penny Arcade releases their books through Dark Horse as well -- Okay, I've run out of space to talk about image. I'll get to them in another one. But I do want to mention Diana Shutz (the Editor for Dark Horse Comics) I hear her name dropped at least a dozen times at the cons and just as many in my interviews. All good things said about her, so she must be doing something right over there.
After that those two powerhouses - I see us falling under IDW and Fantagraphics (whose old timey comic strip releases are INCREDIBLE - Check out the New POGO Volume one Hardcover they just put out - simply amazing!
After that (again, just my opinion) you've got TOP SHELF (which is producing a huge variety of some of the best material I've read in years!!), you've got Jeff Smith's Cartoon Books, Terry Moore's Abstract Studios - you've got Archaia Publications with David Petersen's Mouse Guard and soon to have Jeremy Bastian's Cursed Pirate Girl! They've also got some great Jim Henson works as well. You've got BOOM! Studios...
And of course, you've got the Grand daddy of Self Publication, Mr. Dave Sim with Aardvark Vanaheim Inc. A man who showed everyone it COULD be done! A lot of companies followed in that wake - some made it, some didn't.
Mirage had a nice long run. Ben Edlund's NEC (though they are still releasing books) - David Lapham's El'Capitan (again, still publishing? I don't know) Some of them had a long run, some short. A few only put out one title and then faded away. But the point is, there was and STILL IS - a lot of great material circulating out there that no one has ever heard of because Marvel and D.C. have clouded the minds of children. Disney buying Marvel certainly didn't help - and the continuous release of sub-par to okay Super Hero Films in the past decade has almost clogged any any hope of some really great Indie titles seeing the light of day. I would rather see a film about Craig Thompson's "Blankets" over another Iron Man film.
Ohhhh, but they released a Hellboy movie - so I guess we satiated the Indie masses, right? NO! But hey, they made a Sin City Film - so.... NO! Even in the world of Independent comics - things can go wrong. Ego's can get too big. Perception of what a great book is doesn't necessarily translate to anything else but that. That being said however, I'd still love to see a MADMAN movie of a film about THE GOON. there's a ton of stuff out there that's in the works - that are happening right now - the more exposure, the better it gets. But the key thing is to remember where it all came from. It came from nothing. It all came from pure imagination and love of the medium - most of these guys idolized Kirby and Steranko - maybe they didn't like how the Industry treated them and decided to do things their own way - maybe they submitted their work to the big two and decided they'd rather not sell their souls and lose control of the thing they love the most. Their creations. Their properties. Their souls.
People with work so great shouldn't be struggling so hard. It saddens me. It upsets me. When I go to the conventions and see the Kings sitting on their thrones with their prints of Dogs Playing Poker and their Black Velvet Elvis pieces it angers me, because when I take a stroll down Artist Alley I see some magnificent works! Masterpieces! Venus De Milo's, Mona Lisa's - Salvador Dali's! the Peasants, down in Peasant alley.
Now don't get me wrong. There's a lot of crap in artist alley too. But the ones who aren't committed, who aren't dedicated to honing their craft or turning out work on time, who aren't willing to slave away endless hours a day for a labor of love that may turn into nothing - well, they fade away. Gradually but surely. They aren't hard to spot, and you can avoid them like you would a leper. Don't walk to close to their table and you should be good.
And I'm not saying that Marvel and D.C. don't have amazing artists! they do. One of my favorite artists of all time is being held captive by MARVEL. Frank Cho - Frank Cho should be working on Liberty Meadows - his independently owned title, which is the bee's knees, I assure you - but that doesn't pay the bills, you see. and Marvel and D.C. can afford to buy up the best artists in the industry and make sure they work for them and them alone. Adam Hughes, Phil Noto, ummm, I don't know. I know there's a lot of great artists working for the big two though... arghhh, and Frank Cho has Stockholm Syndrome now (he's writing and drawing his own MARVEL Story!!! NOOOOOO!!!!)
Okay, I got a little carried away with all that. What with Chris Roberson Leaving D.C. and all I guess I felt a little inspired and jumped up on my soap box. :)
However - I can't just jump on his coattails and ride them all the way - because even he said himself
"The Short version is, I don't agree with how they treat the other creators and their general business preactice"
Well heck - that sounds like a personal reason to me. Does D.C. keep they're employees locked in cages? Is part of their regular business practice making Chris Roberson go and get all the executives coffee and scones? I don't know... If it was though, I'd leave too!
(End of Intermission - which was actually longer than the whole thing all together.... Sorry)
SOOOOOO.... The original point I was trying to make: Let's support independent artists.
If you've got work - we here at "BTP" would love to check it out and spread the love all around!
So let's all get together and make a difference around here!