Tag Archive: Jai Nitz


Dumb and Dumber car Wizard World Des Moines 2015

What makes a great Comic Con?

Wizard World Des Moines combined all the right elements this past weekend to create a new annual Midwest destination tradition.  A mix of big name celebrities, comic book creator icons, fanboys and fangirls attending in costume, a variety of vendors, gaming opportunities, current genre properties, the unexpected, taking along family and friends (and meeting new ones and catching up with old ones) and taking in some good food.  And thanks to the success of its first effort, Wizard World will be back again next year at the Iowa Events Center, May 13-15, 2016.

If you missed it, check out our coverage at borg.com yesterday here.

A comic and pop culture convention is even better when your own favorite character seems to have his own theme at the show.  Take our own favorite, Green Arrow, for instance.  This weekend you could have met the artists for the three best Green Arrow series ever produced, including artist/writer Mike Grell:

Milton Bunce Mike Grell Wizard World Des Moines 2015 Zorro

Artists Milton Bunce and Mike Grell at Wizard World Des Moines 2015 Sunday.

And as luck would have it, Mike found a lost piece of original art he brought to the show, a cover prelim/rough for a 24-year old annual issue he created:

Grell WWDM 2015 cover rough annual 4   Green_Arrow_Annual_Vol_2_4

There’s no place better to pick up original comic book art than a Comic Con, whether it’s a sketch commission or original pages that artists bring to the show to gawk at or even purchase.  (Thanks for bringing this one, Mike!).

And there’s one of the other of the three major artists known for his Green Arrow work (he’s done Batman and a ton of other characters, too), Neal Adams:

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Wizard World Des Moines

Convention planner Wizard World is holding its first pop culture convention in Iowa this weekend, introducing Midwest genre fans to sci-fi icon William Shatner (Star Trek), horror icon Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street), Billy Dee Williams (The Empire Strikes Back), Alex Kingston (Doctor Who, Arrow), and Jewel Staite (Firefly), plus Emily Kinney and Michael Cudlitz (The Walking Dead), comic book writer/artist Mike Grell (Green Arrow), Iowa’s own Brandon Routh (Superman Returns, The Flash) and a giant roster of other celebrity guests from film and TV, past and present.

Arrow -- Image AR315C_ATOM_0001 -- Pictured: -- Photo: Cate Cameron/The CW -- © 2015 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Brandon Routh as The Atom and Superman

Other familiar genre actors scheduled to attend include Manu Bennett (Arrow, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey), Dean Cain (Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman), J. August Richards (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Angel), Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville), Lou Ferrigno (The Incredible Hulk), Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters, Psych), Cassandra Peterson (Elvira, Mistress of the Dark), Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad), and both Sean Patrick Flanery and David Della Rocco from Boondock Saints.

Alex Kingston River Song Doctor Who

Alex Kingston, River Song from Doctor Who, and Dinah Lance from CW’s Arrow.

Several well-known comic book writers and artists will be featured in Wizard World’s Artist Alley in addition to Mr. Grell: Des Moines’s own Ant Lucia (DC Comics “Bombshell” covers and posters), Neal Adams (Batman, Green Lantern/Green Arrow), Mike Zeck (Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars), Iowa-based artist Phil Hester (Green Arrow, The Flash), Michael Golden (Star Wars, The ‘Nam), our pal Jai Nitz (Dream Thief, Tron: Betrayal, El Diablo), and many others.

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Jackie Brown Pam Grier

This August thousands of sci-fi, fantasy, and superhero fans will attend the inaugural Kansas City Comic Con, a new comic book and pop culture convention to be held at the Kansas City Convention Center at Bartle Hall.  Four months away and the show has already booked some great movie and TV guests as well as the very best comic book and fiction writers and artists in the U.S.

Headlining the show will be none other than Jackie Brown herself, actress Pam Grier.  Not only is Ms. Grier known for her leading role in Quentin Tarentino’s hit film, but she has also starred in the classic 1970s films Coffy and Foxy Brown, as well as Fort Apache The Bronx, Something Wicked This Way Comes, John Carpenter’s Escape from L.A. and Ghosts of Mars, and TV series including Night Court, Crime Story, Knots Landing, Miami Vice, Bones, The L Word, and Smallville.

Colin Baker Doctor Who TARDIS

Many Doctor Who fans will get their first chance to meet Colin Baker, who played the fan-favorite Sixth Doctor on BBC’s original series from 1984 to 1986.  Known for his bright patchwork jacket, you may have seen him most recently in the funny film The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot, discussed earlier at borg.com here.

Barriss Offee   Shaak Ti

In this big year of Star Wars, Kansas City Comic Con attendees will get an opportunity to meet two actresses known for their roles as Jedi Knights in the Star Wars prequels.  Nalini Krishan played Barriss Offee, a Jedi Knight and General in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones.  Also scheduled to appear is Orli Shoshan, who played Jedi Knight Shaak Ti, also in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones (as well as deleted scenes in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith). 

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Ant Lucia

In addition to great creators from outside the Midwest, like Black Widow artist Phil Noto (as we mentioned here at borg.com yesterday), the great thing about returning to a Con year after year is running into all our friends who write, sketch, or paint incredible works for a living.  Planet Comicon 2015 was no different.

Take for instance Des Moines artist Ant Lucia (pictured above).  Three years ago Ant was just beginning to put together great genre characters like DC superheroes and Star Wars characters in a unique retro style of poster art.  Flash forward to 2014 and an entire month of cover art at DC Comics was devoted to his creations, and statues based on his DC Bombshell designs are selling off the shelves in every town across the country.  Ant’s beautiful designs are second to none, and there’s not a more deserving guy to achieve such success from his ideas.

Other creators at Planet Comicon this weekend with national success included Jason Aaron, who had his own rock star sized line of fans getting his new Star Wars series autographed, as well as artist Freddie Williams II, drawing sketches for fans and signing copies of his Legendary Starlord series, among other works.

Jordan and Fyffe

Pictured above are artists Damont Jordan and Bryan Fyffe.  Damont had a new “spirit fox” print available that blew us away, and he churned out sketches for fans all weekend long.  And we noticed other artists at the Con were coming to Bryan’s booth to buy his framed art for their own homes.  Bryan has the best eye for design of anyone we know, and creates a variety of inspired multi-media works.  His most recent commercial illustration was for some major franchise properties, as well as the cover of John Renehan’s new novel The Valley.  Check out some of his work at his website here.

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Planet Comicon banner 2015

The biggest pop culture and comic book convention ever in the region begins today.  It’s the third annual Planet Comicon to be held in its new venue–the Kansas City Convention Center at Bartle Hall.  This year is even bigger than last year’s show, with more vendor space and more creators in Artists Alley.  Set-up began yesterday morning and continued until late last night.

We discussed some of the media guests previously here at borg.com.  You can get a current line-up at the Con’s website here.

Don’t know where to begin?  Start here, with this short list creators and attractions to check out:

  • Amanda Lynn Chainmaille Creations, Booth 812
  • Elite Comics, Booth 2214 at the Pillar
  • Kansas City Costume Company, Booth 928
  • Wildman Drinking Horns, Booth 1017
  • Writer Jason Aaron, Booth 153
  • Artist Rob Davis, Booth 1036
  • Author Kevin Dilmore, Booth 323
  • Artist Bryan Fyffe, Booth 2740
  • Artist Greg Horn, Booth 2730
  • Writer/Artist Phil Hester, Booth 536
  • Artist Damont Jordan, Booth 2739
  • Artist Ant Lucia, Booth 2745
  • Writer Jai Nitz, Booth 540
  • Artist Phil Noto, on the wall past Booth 2745
  • Writer/Artist Ande Parks, Booth 538
  • Writer Seth Peck, Booth 139
  • Artists Nathen and Keven Reinke, Booth 1436
  • Artist Greg Smallwood, Booth 542
  • Author Dayton Ward, Booth 323
  • Artist Freddie Williams II, Booth 2776
  • Artist Darryl Woods, Cosplay Showcase

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Phil Noto Black Widow

The last day of the year is finally here, and with that the last of our reviews of the best content of 2014.

We’ve previewed comic books each month thanks to publishers like Dynamite Comics, Dark Horse Comics, IDW Publishing, BOOM! Studios, and Image.  We sample the best of all that Marvel and DC Comics has to offer, too, and although we don’t have enough time to review everything we review those titles we think our readers might like to check out, especially those with a sci-fi, fantasy, or retro angle.  And we read plenty of books–sci-fi and fantasy, pulp and spy novels, movie and TV tie-ins, even Westerns and steampunk, as well as non-fiction books about movies, TV, and other genre topics.  This past month we have looked again at these titles, as we narrowed our selections to what we think are the very best.  So here are our picks for Best in Print for 2014.

Black-Widow-5

Best Comic Book Series — Black Widow, Marvel Comics.  We were wondering early on what would take the place of Fraction and Hollingsworth’s Hawkeye series for the most satisfying superhero fix.  It didn’t take long to see this other Marvel series looking at another superhero in a similarly personal–but very different–way.  It was a standout in a great year of comics.  Phil Noto’s art and colors were incredible and Nathan Edmondson’s story didn’t let up once.  Full of action, espionage, and intrigue.  A great series to catch-up on in a trade edition.  See our reviews of the series here and here.

AfterlifeWithArchie_07-0

Best Comic Book Mini-Series — Afterlife with Archie, Archie Comics.  Who would have guessed someone could make Archie and friends so accessible to any demographic in the 2010s?  And whose brilliant idea was doing it via a horror genre story of zombies taking over Riverdale?  Smart writing by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and spooky atmospheric illustrations by Francesco Francavilla made for a sumptuous series like no other.  Not technically a mini-series, it feels like one because of its staggered release.  See our earlier raves about the series here.

Wilds End issue 1

Best Comic Book Writing – Dan Abnett, Wild’s End, BOOM! Studios.  Abnett’s Wild’s End really caught us by surprise.  An incredible fantasy read that is truly unique from BOOM! Studios.  Anthropomorphic characters with incredible archaic dialogue that’s witty and smart.  A crazy mash-up of War of the Worlds, Christopher Robin’s neighborhood, and the dark edge and high stakes of Revival.  We can’t wait to see what’s in store for the rest of this series.  Check out our earlier review here.

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Dream-Thief-Escape-2-Cover

Fans of Jai Nitz’s John Lincoln, the man who keeps waking up after killing people he’s never even met, and Greg Smallwood’s cool masked anti-hero, will be happy to see Lincoln coming back to the comic book racks next month.  Dream Thief: Escape continues the adventures of a man trapped in his own body, with vengeful spirits taking over and avenging their own deaths while Lincoln sleeps.

Escape is the sequel and Volume 2 of Dream Thief, which we reviewed last year at borg.com here.

Dark Horse Comics has released a preview of Issue #1, which follows after the break.

Dream Thief Escape teaser

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Toshiro cover

A steampunk robot samurai.  And Civil War era zombies.

It’s the Dark Horse June 2014 release of Jai Nitz (Dream Thief, Kato, Tron: Betrayal, El Diablo) and Janusz Pawlak’s new graphic novel, Toshiro.  We’ve discussed Nitz’s writing plenty of times here at borg.com.  Toshiro is Pawlak’s first published work in comics.

You will love Nitz’s creation story for this mecha-samurai who shares a name with the actor who played one of the most famous samurai on film (Toshirô Mifune’s Kikuchiyo in The Seven Samurai).  Toshiro is a creation of the Northern forces in the Civil War, a self-aware, living robot with a steam-valved heart.  He’s an American-built super-soldier, sold to Japan as the highest bidder.  “Raised” with Japanese traditions and old world values, he winds up in Manchester, England, 1867, with an equally deadly, and maybe wiser, partner.

spatter

Toshiro knows he is machine, yet he reacts as if he is a true samurai.

This is a steampunk buddy cop story, with roots in a story out of a spaghetti Western.  Here a Zorro-esque, anti-hero has a tough-as-nails partner and they live in a world at war, but with incredible tools of battle well ahead of their time.

Polish artist Pawlak’s work is something out of a Quentin Tarentino novel, yet Tarentino’s blood and guts is kids’ stuff compared to Toshiro slicing heads with his katana.

toshiro_tpb_page

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TOSHIRO TPB CVR 4x6

A new borg is coming in a mash-up of steampunk and horror.  Steam-powered tanks will clash with katanas in a new graphic novel, Toshiro, from Dark Horse Comics coming in June.  Writer Jai Nitz (Dream Thief, Tron: Betrayal, Kato) and artist Janusz Pawlak have created a “mechano-samurai” named Toshiro whose adventure story will take readers across a Victorian clockwork world, “battling horrors too dark for mankind.”

According to Dark Horse:

With his mysterious partner, the world-famous adventurer Quicksilver Bob, Toshiro must face Earth’s greatest foe yet: the soul-stealing, zombie-creating jellyfish from beyond.  Janusz Pawlak’s jagged inks and moody watercolors create a world of dread and mystery.

toshiro_tpb_page

Toshiro bends and blends genres to make something altogether new.  Janusz and I wanted to play with Victorian steampunk, alternate history, Lovecraftian monsters, and the magic of Tezuka’s Astro Boy to tell a story,” said writer Jai Nitz.  “We wanted to wear our influences on our sleeves, but do the hard work of creating something new.  I think this book will appeal to any fans of adventure.”

Keep checking back as borg.com will preview Toshiro in June 2014.  Toshiro arrives in comic book stores June 4, 2014, but you can pre-order it now at Amazon.com.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

Michael Golden cover to Dream Thief Issue 5

It’s a five-issue limited series with no ties to any current franchise.  It’s a gritty tale you might find from someone like Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, yet it’s not just another crime noir caper.  It’s a story about a superhero story for sure, but a reluctant one, who comes with plenty of baggage and character flaws and draws his power from what could be a cousin to Loki’s mask from Mike Richardson’s The Mask series.  It has its own unique, cool look, too.  It’s Dark Horse Comics’ Dream Thief, and if you missed it this year you’ll soon have a chance to pick it up in a trade edition.

On a particularly wrong time, wrong place outing with a friend, John Lincoln steals an aboriginal mask from an art museum display.  He then finds himself tumbling again and again through other people’s lives, waking each new day with the memories of a person who used John’s body to kill someone.  And each of the victims?  They deserved it.  In his quest to discover what has happened to him, he sleuths out the truth behind the acts of his own girlfriend, the mob, and baddies of every variety.

Smallwood Dream Thief panel B

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