It’s a big Con weekend in the Midwest with annual shows in Iowa (see our earlier preview today here) and Kansas. The eighth annual Free State Comicon will be held this Saturday, October 19, 2013, from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. in Lawrence, Kansas. It will be held in Building #21 of the Douglas County Fairgrounds at 2110 Harper Street where it was located in previous years. Admission is $5.00.
Tag Archive: Ande Parks
After a crazy day of an insane volume of fans storming Bartle Hall in Kansas City Saturday for the biggest Planet Comicon event in more than a dozen years of events, it seemed like everyone came back Sunday for Day Two with aisles jam-packed again. And for fans of all things borg like us, it was a banner day, meeting up with the original Bionic Woman herself, Lindsay Wagner, and the current writer on Dynamite’s Bionic Man series, Aaron Gillespie.
First up–Bionic Man cosplay. The idea was inspired by my own large-sized action figure as a kid. Originally planned by DW and me for SDCC 2012, it seemed a great fit for a borg.com tie-in, too. Always looking for something original for other fans to enjoy, we’d never seen anyone re-create Steve Austin, the Bionic Man, at any convention ever, or posted online anywhere. As the idea developed we decided it needed something more–and we moved from the character to the 1970s action figure itself. With bionic eye, inserted arm circuitry, a pair of classic red and white striped Adidas Dragons, the classic red track suit, and the key identifier–the patch that was used as the official fan club badge and stuck on the chest of every Bionic Man action figure, which makes sense for the toy but would never make sense on the show–we had all but one thing left. Decades ago you could find plastic hair at costume or theatrical shops but go searching and you’ll come up empty. So we searched for full face masks that could be altered and came up with a JFK mask that could be cut and repainted, which seemed to do the trick. Add some spirit gum (which may never ever come off my face) and temporarily lose the goatee, we found contact lenses from a UK retailer, made the patch from transfer paper using Web images and interfacing, and temporary tattoo material, and we have the Six Million Dollar Man large-sized action figure. We got some good reaction to it at the Elite Comics Halloween event last year, and when we saw Lindsay Wagner as a guest of this year’s Planet Comicon it was obvious I was going to wear it to the show.
Planet Comicon announced this weekend that advance tickets for Planet Comicon 2013 are now available for sale. This year Planet Comicon is Saturday, April 6, 2013 at 10:00 AM – 7 PM and Sunday, April 7, 2013 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM at downtown Kansas City’s giant Bartle Hall, a switch from the show’s home at Overland Park International Trade Center from past years. The relocation was the result of the growing numbers at the event in the past two years requiring an expansion to this larger venue.
Use the below link to purchase a single day or weekend pass. There is no limit to the quantities you may order.
Advance tickets will be sold until midnight on Sunday, March 17, 2013. After that time, they will only be available for sale at the event.
Weekend passes for adults are being sold at a discounted rate of $35.00. All other prices will be identical to on-site pricing.
Advance tickets are available for sale only through Paypal, which accepts all major credit cards and bank debits.
Advance tickets will also be made available soon through the event facility and certain area retailers, including Elite Comics, located at 11842 Quivira in Overland Park, KS.
As the world’s biggest Green Arrow fan I have seen it all when it comes to the Emerald Archer. My preference has always been for the 1970s Oliver Queen by Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams, but I soon grew to love Mike Grell’s urban hunter version set in Seattle, and later became a believer in Phil Hester and Ande Parks’ run, especially when joined by Judd Winick’s new spin on Speedy.
I spent the entire night awake waiting in line at San Diego Comic-Con this summer to see the preview of the new CW Network series Arrow, about a younger Oliver Queen. I think it is going to be a successful series that will rival the CW’s Smallville or Supernatural. Admittedly I have not enjoyed the first year of Green Arrow in the New 52 for various reasons I’ve discussed here before. So I was looking forward to seeing the Captain Atom team of Judd Winick and Freddie Williams II taking on Green Arrow in the one-shot Green Arrow #0 released this week.
And I wasn’t disappointed.
The seventh annual Free State Comicon will be held this Saturday, September 8th, 2012, from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm in Lawrence, Kansas. It will be held in Building #21 of the Douglas County Fairgrounds at 2110 Harper Street where it was located in previous years. Admission is $5.00.
The event created by KC Fancon who used to have the catchy slogan “Get your Freak-on at the Free-con” is well worth the five bucks admission and is a fun event focusing on the Kansas City area comic book scene. Featured creators at this year’s show include penciler/inker/writer Ande Parks (Green Arrow, Antman, Capote in Kansas, Union Station, El Diablo, Kato, Lone Ranger), writer Jai Nitz (Kato, Silver Star, El Diablo, Tron: Betrayal, Blue Beetle), penciler/writer Steve Lightle (Classic X-Men, Legion of Superheroes, The Flash), and writer Seth Peck (Fear Itself: Wolverine, ’76). Get sketches of your favorite characters from artist Damont Jordan, and chat about and purchase copies of the newest Star Trek novels from Kevin Dilmore and Dayton Ward.
By C.J. Bunce
One of the Midwest’s best pop culture and comic book conventions was this past weekend, Planet Comicon, which has been Kansas City’s largest fan convention for more than a dozen years. The show seemed to be bursting from its seams this year with thousands of guests, and appears to be outgrowing its venue at the Overland Park International Trade Center.
The film and TV headliners for this year’s show included Edward James Olmos, best known to sci-fi fans for his role in Blade Runner and as Adama in the Battlestar Galactica reboot series. He signed autographs and took photos with fans both days of the show. Here he is with Erin Gray, who appeared with other actors from the 1979-1981 TV series Buck Rogers and the 25th Century:
Gray also appeared on an episode of the Syfy Channel’s Hollywood Treasure last year.
The other featured major guest from film and TV was Billy Dee Williams, best known as Lando Calrissian in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, but also as Harvey Dent alongside Michael Keaton in the 1989 Batman film. His current work includes a stint on USA’s White Collar.
Billy Dee also appeared at the show both days. (I offered a woman in line $5 to say “Billy Dee, Billy Dee, Billy Dee!” when she finally met him but didn’t take me up on it. And it’s OK if you don’t get that reference).
Early Saturday morning legendary comic book artist Michael Golden is getting fueled up before embarking on a sketch of Green Arrow:
Michael is known for his work on such titles like Marvel Comics series The ‘Nam, GI Joe Yearbook, Star Wars, and Micronauts. He is also the co-creator of the X-Men character Rogue.
I’ve been a fan of the different styles Mike Norton uses in his art for quite a while. Here he is signing one of his comic pages for the Green Arrow/Black Canary series, where he did the pencil work and comic book legend Bill Sienkiewicz provided the ink work:
Mike is working on a creator-owned project currently and has previously worked on Runaways, Gravity, the Young Justice animated series comic book. He was actively sketching pages for fans at the show and produced probably a dozen at least over the weekend, including this great image for me:
Unfortunately Bernie Wrightson wasn’t sketching at this year’s convention, but he was signing plenty of shirts and books for his Frankenstein book. Wrightson’s horror artwork goes back several decades, with his first published comic work with House of Mystery in 1969. He co-created Swamp Thing in 1971. His work has appeared in Creepy, Eerie and Vampirella, and Batman: The Cult. Here Wrightson is at a signing table with Freddie Williams II and his wife Kiki:
Freddie is well known for his work on his Robin series, and is currently one of the DC Comics top artists. We reviewed his and JT Krul’s Captain Atom series here at borg.com a few weeks ago. Freddie was busy creating sketches for fans and speaking on panels at the show.
Currently working on projects for Dynamite Comics, Bionic Man writer Phil Hester and Lone Ranger writer Ande Parks had pages of original artwork as well as copies of their books new and old that they were signing for fans, including a lot of low-priced original art from their run on the DC Comics Green Arrow series:
It’s great that these guys have tackled both the writing and illustration sides of comic book creation.
I got to catch up again with a couple well known Kansas City authors. Here, Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore, two of the best known authors of Star Trek novels, talk with fans at the show.
The NBC TV series Heroes co-creator Tim Sale was signing books and art at his booth:
Sales’ past work includes art in Batman: Dark Victory, Batman: The Long Halloween, Daredevil: Yellow, Hulk: Grey, Spider-Man: Blue and Superman For All Seasons. (What’s with these color titles, anyway?). His unique stylized paintings on Heroes featured into the plot of the series.
I spent time chatting with Rob B. Davis, currently providing illustrations for a Sherlock Holmes series and past artist for Malibu’s Deep Space Nine comic book series, writer Jai Nitz, who was juggling signing copies of his Kato and Tron: Betrayal series while moderating different comic book panels at the show, borg.com writer Art Schmidt, local writer Justin Cline manning the front of the convention, and Todd Aaron Smith, who sketched this great Black Canary image for me:
Smith had provided storyboards for Family Guy and other animation art for shows like South Park and various DC Comics and Marvel Comics TV series. Current Marvel Comics lead writer Jason Aaron could be found with some good lines of fans waiting to get copies of his various Hulk, Wolverine and X-men series signed:
The facility was packed wall to wall with plenty of booths selling everything from graphic novels to collectible action figures, original comic book art, and comic book back issues. Here, Elite Comics comic book store owner William Binderup appears to be raking in some cash from sales of comics at his booth:
Show producer Chris Jackson seemed pleased with the success of this year’s convention.
And of course there were plenty of cosplayers. Here a few Batman characters huddled for a photo:
But I think the best was this “Hello Kitty meets Stormtrooper” mash-up:
No doubt it would have been a far different Star Wars had Luke showed up to rescue the princess with this outfit.
Review by C.J. Bunce
My exposure to the Lone Ranger was via Saturday movie serials featuring Clayton Moore’s portrayal of the masked lawman and his partner Tonto, played by Jay Silverheels. I watched these with my dad, and he had watched them in the theaters as a kid. My exposure to Zorro was via Guy Williams’ portrayal in a similar series I watched with my dad. Williams, of course, later played Will Robinson on Lost in Space. Moore and Williams looked alike to me, and I’ll admit if you told me George Reeves (who portrayed Superman in the 1950s alongside these other shows) had starred as Zorro or the Lone Ranger I would not have been surprised. I mention all three together here because they all could be the same forthright hero played by the same lead actor. So from my view it is a no-brainer that you would hook up the two Old West characters from this period of classic TV. I also was familiar with the Antonio Banderas films The Mask of Zorro and The Legend of Zorro.
The Lone Ranger: The Death Of Zorro Issues #1-5, published last year, was released this week in a trade paperback edition and it’s definitely one you’ll want to check out if you like Westerns, especially the old Lone Ranger and Zorro serials, or if you’re just looking for something different.
This is not a team-up in any shape or form. It is more like The Godfather, Part 2 in its structure with Don Diego/Zorro as Don Corleone and the John Reid/The Lone Ranger in the Michael Corleone role, of sorts.
A fully realized historical fiction novel is lurking somewhere between the pages of this book, held back only by the required page count for the comic book format. Expect something much more complex than, say, the current All-Star Western series by DC Comics (which is brilliant in a different way). Unlike the Jonah Hex story, this is a shoot ‘em up only secondarily. Like Jai Nitz’s work on Dynamite’s Kato Origins series, Ande Parks delves deeper into the characters we only know on the surface. In fact I have been getting the vibe reading Dynamite Comics titles in the past year that this rich writing of background and relationships is becoming a hallmark of the publisher’s writer choices. Along with that, this trade paperback features another stellar retro homage to Zorro and The Lone Ranger by cover artist Alex Ross.
Note that this is not a Zorro book as much as Lone Ranger book, as the Spanish masked hero dies early on, which should be no surprise based on the title. But his spirit and legacy fuels the actions of the Lone Ranger and the rest of the story. The audacity of killing off one of the heroes so early was surprising, but in a good way just as Steven Seagal had shared billing in the trailers with Kurt Russell in Executive Decision, yet was eliminated within minutes of the opening credits. You could see Parks and artist Esteve Polls branching off on some past Zorro stories. Polls’s artisitic style for this book is very classic Western.
Look for themes of honor, loyalty, racism, brutality, corruption, Civil War aftermath, Spanish influences in America, the legacy of Native Americans–there is a lot that is woven into this story. Parks even works in a subplot involving bushwhackers much like the James brothers into the story. Plenty of strong-willed characters can be found here, and villains who are not just the guys in the black hats, but characters with their own rules and motivations, however clouded or deluded with the hindsight of the modern reader.
You need only have a passing interest in the Old West to get looped into this story. Those who wouldn’t think to give the genre a try are missing out, and I would place this story alongside DC Comics’ El Diablo: The Haunted Horseman as a good entry point for new readers (Parks served as inker on El Diablo, BTW) as Dynamite currently has several title featuring The Lone Ranger available.
Ande Parks will be known here to fans of Green Arrow as inker for several years on the DC Comics title along with artist Phil Hester. he also has written several works, including Capote In Kansas, Union Station, and The Green Hornet: Blood Ties.
The Lone Ranger: The Death Of Zorro is now available in bookstores and online.
Review by C.J. Bunce
All Star Western #1 was the coolest, most unexpected surprise of DC Comics’ first round of 52 issues. But to the extent All Star Western #1 was a standout series opener, writer Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti and artist Moritat along with colorist Gabriel Bautista set the bar even higher with issues #2 and #3.
First off, the design and format of the book is unique among DC Comics’ New 52. Chapters have an Old West style separation and font, with catchy titles like “Showdown at House Arkham,” “A practitioner of murder,” and “No news is good.” The aura of Gothic and Old West can be found at every angle.
The foreground of landscape scenes have a nice, almost ghostly style that evokes the 1800s-1920s, using a lot of brown and sepia tones. But the silhouette of grand manor houses and leafless trees on the landscape of an almost photo-real, painted horizon backdrop will have readers stopping in their tracks. Two page spreads with 22 individual panels keep the action scenes moving at full force, and the would-be campy “Pow,” “Crunch,” “Crash,” and “Clop Clop Clop” fill in the necessary sound effects for a Jonah Hex-led shoot ‘em up. We also get some nice splash pages of Hex, looking tough in his own half-faced way.
Unlike several other New 52 titles that unapologetically are going for the biggest shock they can provide to readers, the cartoonish quality of Jonah Hex’s gore serves to tame down the realism of the violence, creating the right venue for a fine good guy vs. bad guy battle to the end, with guns a’blazin’ and bodies fallin.’
The writers have kept up the momentum of the story with the most unlikely of pairings, the fragile Doctor Arkham against the stout Jonah Hex. These two continue together to confound each other, but, for once, in issue #2, Arkham has revealed that there is a killer about even within his own timid, early-era psychiatrist reality.
By the end of issue #3 we have a better look at the villainy coming in future issues, a “cult of crime” based on the story of Cain and Abel. Arkham serves to sleuth out the story while Hex is there to destroy those who get in the way and leave a body count. In issue #3 we also see the duo forming their first potential ally, by saving a city leader named Cromwell. Yet, no one lives long in early Gotham City.
The story has a vibe reminiscent of a short-lived series published a few years ago starting on Free Comics’ Day called The Ballad of Sleeping Beauty (one of the best titles ever), an eight-issue series from Image Comics, by Gabriel Benson and Mike Hawthorne, that hinted at the potential it was ultimately unable to fulfill—a “Gothic Western” that immersed the reader in the Old West. All Star Western is far better, but it does show there are limitless Gothic Western stories that can be told, not just with Jonah Hex and not just in Gotham City.
As an added feature to All Star Western, these issues #2 and #3 have an ongoing mini-series about the character El Diablo. This add-on bonus is full of quick stories in limited panels, but adds to the Saturday serial mystique of a Western series like this. If you like the character El Diablo, I’d suggest Jai Nitz’s very cool El Diablo: The Haunted Horseman graphic novel, drawn by Phil Hester and Ande Parks. And as for another book with a similar Gothic vibe, check out Batman: Gotham by Gaslight, by Brian Augustyn, with a powerhouse art match-up of Mike Mignola and P. Craig Russell.
Review by C.J. Bunce
One-shot comic books—those issues that carry a complete story in typically about 24-30 pages, usually to fill a gap in a publishers current showcase of stories, remind readers of characters of the past, or even introduce a work in its own right with no intention of continuing on in a series—don’t often result in much that is memorable. A book like Batman: The Killing Joke is an example of the best kind, and the recent Green Arrow Incorporated is an example of one that doesn’t stick with you very long after reading.
But the new series Avengers Origins has started off right with its volume of expected one-shot issues of more obscure Marvel Comics superheroes, beginning last week with Ant-Man & the Wasp. Like all one-shots, the story must be told quickly and here writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa has double-duty with two characters, albeit with an intertwined story. He is pretty successful with Ant-Man and lesser so with the Wasp. But the big takeaway from this issue is the almost dream-state painting style of French artist Stephanie Hans. Her animal and insect work evokes David Petersen’s Mouse Guard work, and her depiction of Janet Van Dyne, the Wasp, is both realistic and unreal. In fact it is her creature drawings and work on Janet that counterbalances the lack of story and character development that Aguirre-Sacasa brings to Janet.
The story encompasses the back story of Dr. Henry Pym, seeking a grant to fund research into shrinking technologies after his wife is murdered, accidentally crosses paths with Janet Van Dyne, daughter of another scientist seeking grant money. Henry is stodgy and over-focused on his work, Janet is free-spirited. Their relationship slowly grows and doesn’t actually come together until literally the last panel. What is missing is chemistry…why she falls for him so quickly. But all this is forgivable for the brief page count, as the rest of the story is packed with action and interesting curiosities.
Pym’s story is straight out of the classic film The Incredible Shrinking Man, although Pym takes a surprising turn at immediately taking toward liking the insects he is confronted with, experiencing no fear of horse-sized ants, and instead bonding with them and working on problems together. That cornerstone of his character is nicely revealed.
Van Dyne’s story becomes a hurried vengeance origin that forces the reader to remember the Stan Lee school of obtaining superpowers: Sometimes you just have to accept gamma rays for what they are, a quick mechanism to move you along to focus more on character and relationships. The how of becoming the Wasp is revealed so fast that you don’t really have time to scratch your head and question it.
Ultimately Aguirre-Sacasa and Hans come together to create a really good looking book, and the cover Marko Djurdjevic is a real eye-grabber.
If your only exposure to Ant-Man is the Robert Kirkman (Walking Dead), Phil Hester (Bionic Man, Green Arrow) and Ande Parks (Union Station, Green Arrow) The Irredeemable Ant-Man short-lived series, this issue is a good flashback to the original Ant-Man story, before the off-the-wall Eric O’Grady sneaked into Dr. Pym’s lab and got his own ant suit. If you haven’t read The Irredeemable Ant-Man, then there’s no time like the present to check out that funny series, also known for its great covers, showing the little hero actually was present in a previously released, character-packed, Frank Cho cover. And if you’re missing the other famous little superhero, the Ray Parker Atom character from DC Comics—who inexplicably doesn’t have his own series in the New 52—maybe someone at DC will get some inspiration from Hans’s drawings of a tiny guy in a big world to resurrect that character.
Review by C.J. Bunce
I like western movies. I like the sounds of the Old West, the cattle, the clinking of spurs as the two guys slowly meet up in the center of the old western town. I like epic western soundtracks and I like slow guitar soundtracks, and theme songs that sometimes tell a familiar story. I also have read a little Louis L’Amour and love his writing and descriptions. I’ve never thought of picking up a comic book about the Old West, mainly because they don’t make ‘em anymore.
I almost didn’t pick up All-Star Western #1, one of DC Comics’s New 52 line. Mostly because it had the crazy looking Jonah Hex on the cover. All I knew of Hex was watching a bit of the Jonah Hex movie, which for whatever reason I didn’t finish on video. But somehow (fate?) it ended up in my pull list. I have read a super western-ish book recently called El Diablo: The Haunted Horseman, by Jai Nitz, Ande Parks, and Phil Hester, that was just awesome (to be reviewed here later on). Intrigued by the idea of a current western comic in the midst of the Justice League superheroes, I read it first from the stack.
From a literary standpoint there is almost an unending supply of reasons to check this one out.
One would think a western comic took place in the Old West. This takes place in Gotham city in the 1880s, which in my mind is more Old East. The drawings have a nice old-time feel to them. The colors offer more than just sepia tones. There’s a little Mike Mignola and P. Craig Russell’s Gotham by Gaslight feel here for sure. A good thing, as I wished that book had turned into its own series.
The narrator is none other than the founder of Gotham’s own Arkham Asylum, Doctor Arkham himself. Arkham is our narrator, and he’s a bit odd. His character, his mannerisms, and his creepiness might remind you of Clifton Webb as Waldo Lydecker in Otto Preminger’s Laura. A further creepy scene may also make you think he’s a bit of Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho.
Familiar But Reliable Plot
To get us into this world quickly, the plot seems to be a mix of Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven and a Jack the Ripper tale. Pacing is reminscent of Alan Moore’s From Hell. There’s also a bit of the outcast element of Danny Glover’s Mal in Silverado. There’s a medical aspect of the 19th century as well, the sleuthing of an early Detective Comics of sorts, but again, familiar because of the similar treatment in From Hell. The art here, however, is a lot more stylish and evocative. The only downside will be if this continues to be just another Jack the Ripper story. Too many stories end up there.
The Archetype Western Anti-Hero
Not only does the half-mangled faced Jonah Hex play the anti-hero, he talks a bit like Clint Eastwood mixed with Sam Elliott. Hex’s confederate uniform really brings you back to Sam Elliot’s performance as Dal Traven in Louis L’Amour’s The Shadow Riders, but there is also a little of Elliott’s Ghost Rider’s Caretaker mixed with The Golden Compass’s Lee Scoresby. To get me to conjure any incarnation of Sam Elliott in your character is a win in my book. But then again there’s a spin on Eastwood’s Stranger from High Plains Drifter, as you can see the whole town of Gotham closing in on Dr. Arkham and Hex after only the 24th page. Who would have thought Jonah Hex could be so cool?
If you want something truly different, pick up this book.