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: Jai Nitz
This year I continued my Comicon season by commissioning sketches from comic book artists of my favorite characters, Green Arrow and Black Canary. I always like to let the artists do whatever vision they have with the duo and am always blown away by the results and at this year’s Planet Comicon it was no different. It’s even better when you watch artists take on characters for the first time.
At Planet Comicon weekend itself, I met Greg Smallwood, who I found at Artists Alley with the forthcoming Dream Thief co-creator Jai Nitz. Greg sketched this great piece for me, and I’d LOVE to see a series with this classic look.
Black Canary never before looked more like she was going to take everyone out of commission with that sonic scream!
I also asked my friend Damont Jordan to give me his take on Green Arrow and Black Canary and gave him a few weeks after the Con to take his time with it. Somewhere we started chatting up adding extra characters and I threw out the idea of something like “oh yeah, why not include Super Grover, too.” And BAM! Check this out:
Ok, I’ve been holding back. I landed my hands on the first issue of Dark Horse Comics’ new series Dream Thief a few days ago and WOW–I am convinced it’s the next big thing. It’s one of those from outta nowhere books that comic book stores better start ordering in droves for its May 2013 release.
We’ll preview Dream Thief here as we get closer to its release. What’s it about? Here’s the official promotional blurb from Dark Horse:
Your dreams… His nightmare! After stealing an Aboriginal mask from a museum, John Lincoln realizes that the spirits of the vengeful dead are possessing his body and mind while he sleeps. His old problems have been replaced by bloody hands and the disposal of bodies—and now remembering where he spent last night has never been more important…
The series is written by Jai Nitz with art by Greg Smallwood. We’ve reviewed works by Jai Nitz here at borg.com before, like the cool Tron: Betrayal, the comic book prequel to Disney’s big screen Tron: Legacy. He’s also written some great stories in the pages of Dynamite Comics’ Kato series and the awesome DC Comics tale El Diablo with Phil Hester and Ande Parks. And the creator-owned series Dream Thief is sure to be Smallwood’s break-out book.
Dark Horse has released this great teaser piece featuring the story’s masked hero that really sums it all up:
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.
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.
…before the Legacy there was an Uprising…
That’s a pretty catchy introduction to the new animated series previewed last year with the home release version of Tron: Legacy on DVD and Blu-Ray and at Comic-Con in San Diego. Back then the prediction was that we’d see the series by this January, and there are no reports out from Disney as to the cause of the delay. Like The Hobbit and rebooted Star Trek, this will be a “sequel prequel” fitting in between Tron and Tron: Legacy, but apparently after Jai Nitz‘s Tron: Betrayal graphic novel, since it will start after Clu takes over the Grid.
The early trailer looks fun, like a cross between the original Speed Racer series from the 1970s mixed with a little modern anime, and it shares the overall feel of Tron: Legacy, the live action film that continued the adventures of Flynn and Tron from the original film, Tron, from 1982. It also looks to have a lot in common with the Tron: Evolution video game released last year. Clearly Disney appears to be coordinating its Tron franchise elements, although the release of Tron: Uprising would probably be more popularly received closer to Tron: Legacy’s release.
Tron: Uprising , which was originally to be available January 3, 2012, is now scheduled for release in May. Early marketing describes the book and animated series as follows:
- When the computer world of The Grid is taken over by an evil tyrant, one young man named Beck must join forces with the legendary hero Tron to free his home city. Under Tron’s tutelage, Beck will take on a secret identity to fight back, bringing a superhero sensibility to the world of Tron. Featuring brand new settings, characters, and vehicles, TRON: Uprising will bring a unique style and classic storytelling to the Disney Channel and Disney XD! The animated original movie, hitting TV screens in spring 2012, will kick-off a brand new series in summer 2012. Kids who can’t get enough of superheroes, action-adventure stories, and the sleek and unique look of TRON are sure to love this retelling of the TRON: Uprising original movie. The novelization will be a retelling of the events of the movie, and will include a full-color eight page insert with frames from the stunning animated feature!
The series is expected to air on Disney XD and possibly the Disney Channel. There has been no other releases about whether or not there will be an animated movie as stated in the promotional materials. Tron: Uprising will air in 10 initial episodes.
But the best part is the voice cast, with Bruce Boxleitner, practically non-existent in the title role in Tron: Legacy, who will reprise his role as Tron; Elijah Wood, who played Frodo in The Lord of the Rings series, will play Beck, a character on the Grid that is trained by Tron and takes on the show’s villain, General Tesler, played by Lance Henriksen (Alien series, The Right Stuff, Terminator). Also appearing will be Mandy Moore (Tangled), Paul Ruebens (Batman Returns, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Mystery Men), voice actor from hundreds of animated series Fred Tatasciore, Emmanuelle Chrique (Entourage), Nate Corddry, and Reginald VelJohnson (Die Hard, Die Hard 2).
Here is the trailer for Tron: Uprising:
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.
When the original Disney movie Tron arrived in theaters in 1982 it was a technological innovation. Jeff Bridges’ Kevin Flynn and Bruce Boxleitner’s Tron, a user and a program, interract in a fully realized alternate universe after Flynn is sucked into his own computer system. Nearly thirty years later the Disney sequel Tron: Legacy revisited the computer world known as the Grid to show us what happened to Flynn and Tron.
But before the film’s release, Disney released a graphic novel in two parts that explains what happened between the two movies. And the result is actually better than what we saw onscreen in the movie sequel.
Tron: Betrayal, written by Jai Nitz, takes us to the world that we wished had made it to the screen. The graphic novel compilation includes a nice prologue to get the reader that missed the original film up to speed on the events of the original Tron film. This was enormously necessary because Disney failed to re-release a DVD version of the film in the months leading up to the release of Tron: Legacy. (A prior edition had been released more than a decade ago, but in classic Disney marketing style it had not been put back into release once it sold out).
Tron: Betrayal begins with Kevin Flynn revisiting the Grid. He works with Tron and begins building a new world, a “perfect world”. Flynn uses the same Tron movie laser technology to transport between realities, and in our world we learn his wife is pregnant with the son we will meet years later in Tron: Legacy. Lori, whose avatar was Yori in the original film, is still with Tron’s user, Alan.
Kevin is addicted to the Grid and subtley Nitz reveals a man who each day becomes more and more obsessed, a man who can hardly pay attention to his life in the real world, his wife, his new son, his business he is supposed to be running.
Flynn needs to be in two places at once. So he creates an avatar of himself to carry out his work on the Grid, called Clu. Clu works with Tron and his loyal assistant Shaddox, who points out that Clu is doing all the work, with little help from Flynn, the creator. And as a new pest called gridbugs infest the world, “life finds a way” (to quote Jeff Goldblum from Jurassic Park), and new gridpeople are spontaneously formed–isomorphs or “isos”–including a self aware female named Ophelia (in the film Tron: Legacy this would be revisited with the character Quorra). Flynn declares all isos are to be protected by Tron and Clu.
The key conflict becomes clearer, the same conflict that would be revealed in the new film: Clu, just like a computer program would react in the real world, does not know what to do when confronted with ambiguity as Clu is given seemingly inconsistent direction from Flynn. What is a perfect world?
In part 2, Flynn’s real life falls apart. He has a son, but his wife has died and he is left to raise son Sam with his other obligations still pressing in on him. His inlaws are there to help…but nothing works for Flynn. Here Jai Nitz has set up relationships and realities that, despite being a fantasy story about a guy who gets sucked into a video game, reflect modern pressures of life in a believable way.
Beyond the complex story of priorities, faith, and duty, Jeff Matsuda and Andie Tong’s artwork is excellent, all locked into this dark world inside the computer sphere. The cover by Jock is up to his typical cool style. Neon cycles, including Flynn’s superbly crafted white light cycle we barely see in the new film, are a great extension from the perfect cycles of the original film. It is here where the look is better than the final film, even though the final film looks great in its own right. What is certain is that this story would have made a better film, for several reasons.
First, this story includes the title character, Tron, in a key role. Tron: Legacy inexplicably barely used Tron, and when it did, we barely got to see the beloved actor Boxleitner be the Tron we loved in the original film. The movie is called Tron, right? Is Boxleitner’s fee greater than Academy Award winner Bridges? Also, this is the story that happened following the events of the original film and this is the story most fans would want to see. The Flynn of the new the film is washed up. He is past the character most fans would want to dig into. He is the Dude from The Big Lebowski right before he ODs. The new film was subtitled Legacy and it is about Flynn’s son Sam. Yet we as fans care for Kevin and Alan, the original characters that excited us. This story also allows a greater depth of character than we were shown in the movie.
With the graphic novel Tron: Betrayal we get to see what that more ideal film could have been. And that would have made a very cool movie.