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Tag Archive: Mike Grell


Kansas City Comic Con 2017 has been an event full of fun for both visitors and the creative guests the attendees came to meet.  One of the show highlights was a Green Arrow Quiver/Sounds of Violence reunion of writer Kevin Smith and artists Phil Hester and Ande Parks.  The trio delved into the impetus for bringing Oliver Queen/Green Arrow back from the dead back in early 2001 after the character had been killed off and replaced with Connor Hawke as the Green Arrow for a generation of readers.  “I was a big fan of the character going back to the day.  I loved Grell’s Longbow Hunters and I loved the book that followed Longbow Hunters.  It was like a Vertigo book, but wasn’t technically a Vertigo book, but it was very grown-up.”  When Smith was visiting the DC Comics offices discussing a Superman screenplay back around 1996, Smith said he popped his head into Green Arrow editor Darren Vincenzo’s office and said, “Hey, man, if you ever want to put Green Arrow in the Top 10, let me write the book.  I think I got a story.”  A year later when Smith was working on Daredevil, Vincenzo recalled the conversation and asked if Smith was serious about Green Arrow. 

Smith, Hester, and Parks had each worked with editor Bob Schreck, who had just moved to DC from Oni Press, where Schreck had been co-founder.  Schreck wanted Smith for the Green Arrow project idea and asked who he’d like for his artistic team, and Smith suggested Hester and Parks in part because of their work on Swamp Thing.  “I fell in love with it deeply,” Smith said.  The team was solidified and they moved forward with the project.  “Having these two dudes enabled me to go where I wanted to go,” Smith added.  Already established artists at the time with a catalog of works, Hester and Parks expressed gratitude to Smith for selecting them for the project and Smith said the collaboration with Hester and Parks on the project helped cement his position in the comic book industry as a creator who is now regularly tapped for insight into the comics industry in documentaries on comics, among other things.  “The only reason I get to be in that stuff is because I have credibility in the comic book community because of stuff like Quiver.  Quiver was the one particularly,” Smith said, further noting the book won national awards.

And speaking of Mike Grell, Grell was also a guest at KCCC this year. Always great for a conversation, Grell was busy working on sketch commissions for attendees this weekend.

Smith also discussed working with Dynamite Comics to bring together later projects with Phil Hester and artist Jonathan Lau on Green Hornet and The Bionic Man.  Hester said there was much back and forth communication in creating the story, and Smith emphasized the collaborative effort, “I used to be a guy that was like ‘oh, I just want to write it myself–I don’t want any input.  And then one day you work with people who add something, and then it’s ‘God, that’s incredible!'”  He used as examples contributions from Chris Rock in his film Dogma and Will Ferrell in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back–both actors who made contributions to the script but didn’t ask for or want any writing creditsand creator David Mandel in the animated Clerks.  When fans reference great lines that Smith didn’t write he said he makes sure to credit the writer.  “It’s important for collaborators to cite those people who are your collaborators.”  The panel was hosted by the Worst Comics Podcast Ever’s Jerry McMullen (shown above after the panel with Hester, Parks, and Smith).

Lee Meriwether and Doug Jones at KCCC 2017.

In the celebrity autograph area at KCCC 2017, a reunion and momentous meet-up involved actress Lee Meriwether and actor Doug Jones.  Both Meriwether and Jones worked together on the film The Ultimate Legacy, which also starred Raquel Welch and Brian Dennehy.  Meriwether and Jones are unique in that they represent contemporaries in acting but also represent bookends of a sort for the 51-year Star Trek franchise.  In addition to her many famous roles in series like Barnaby Jones, All My Children, and Batman, Meriwether played the character Losira in the original Star Trek series episode, “That Which Survives.”  Jones, an actor who has performed both as creature characters where he is often unrecognizable–a Lon Chaney of today as one fan referred to him–as well as more standard roles, has performed in more than 150 films and TV series (from one of the creepy Gentlemen in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode “Hush” to the creature in next month’s new Guillermo del Toro release The Shape of Water).  Plus Jones has appeared in 100 commercials, including as the classic McDonald’s moon-shaped mascot “Mac Tonight.”  And Jones currently plays the alien leading character Lieutenant Saru on this year’s latest Star Trek incarnation, Star Trek Discovery.

Gary Fisher and his family meet attendees at KCCC 2017.

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Today thousands of sci-fi, fantasy, and superhero fans will converge on Kansas City as Kansas City Comic Con returns to Bartle Hall.  The show again has booked several comic book and fiction writers and artists as well as some great movie and TV guests.  This is the third annual Kansas City Comic Con event and the show boasts one of the largest assemblages of nationally known as well as local writers and artists, with hundreds of creators to be featured.

The star attraction of this year’s show is a reunion of actors from director Richard Donner’s Superman as an early celebration of next year’s 40th anniversary of nearly everyone’s all-time favorite superhero movie and Superman–the late Christopher Reeve.  Film co-star Margot Kidder (Lois Lane) returns to Kansas City, plus several supporting cast members including Sarah Douglas (Ursa), Jack O’Halloran (Non), Aaron Smolinski (Baby Clark Kent), Jeff East (Young Clark Kent), Diane Case (Young Lana Lang), and via SKYPE, a live video appearance by actress Valerie Perrine (Miss Teschmacher).

  

Fans of classic television can meet one of the original actresses who played the Catwoman in the 1960s Batman series, Lee Meriwether, plus Robin himself, Burt Ward.  Star Trek Discovery star Doug Jones, also known for hundreds of roles in films like Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth, and Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer, will be making his first appearance in Kansas City.  Disney fans can meet Eva Bella, the actress who voiced the young Elsa, and Livvy Stubenrauch, the actress who voiced the young Anna, in the animated film Frozen.  Stuntman and actor Hamid Thompson (Jurassic World, Spider-man: Homecoming) will be on hand, as well as two Lucasfilm Star Wars animated series voice actors: Tom Kane (Yoda) and David Ankrum (Wedge), plus two of the Power Rangers performers: Karan Ashley (Yellow Power Ranger) and Walter E. Jones (Black Power Ranger).  And convention staples Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes are also returning to Kansas City for the show.

Last minute additions for the show include Colin Cantwell–the concept art designer of the original Star Wars Death Star, X-Wing Fighter, TIE Fighter, and more, and Gary Fisher–that’s right Carrie Fisher’s beloved dog who accompanied her on the PR and convention circuit continues to tour to visit the crowds that became commonplace for him over the past few years.  Nationally known comic book creators featured at KCCC include legendary writer/artist Mike Grell as well as Star Wars writer and Eisner winner Jason Aaron, artists Phil Hester and Ande Parks (along with Kevin Smith this may be the first time all three of the Green Arrow “Quiver” era creators have appeared together at a convention since a San Diego Comic-Con appearance when the book was first released), writer Jai Nitz, authors Dayton Ward, Kevin Dilmore, Holly Messinger, Jason Arnett, and Nicholas Forrestal, artist Johnny Desjardins, artist David Finch, artist Mark Sparacio, artist Art Thibert, artist John Davies, writer Frank Tieri, writer James Tynion IV, and comics legend Bob Hall.  But that’s only scratching the surface–check out the full list of national and local creators here.

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It’s only two weeks away.  November 10-12, 2017, thousands of sci-fi, fantasy, and superhero fans will converge on Kansas City as Kansas City Comic Con returns to Bartle Hall.  The show again has booked an onslaught of comic book and fiction writers and artists as well as some great movie and TV guests.  Kansas City Comic Con annually boasts one of the largest assemblages of nationally known as well as local writers and artists, with hundreds of creators to be featured.

The star attraction of this year’s show is a reunion of actors from director Richard Donner’s Superman as an early celebration of next year’s 40th anniversary of nearly everyone’s all-time favorite superhero movie and Superman–the late Christopher Reeve.  Film co-star Margot Kidder (Lois Lane) returns to Kansas City, plus several supporting cast members including Sarah Douglas (Ursa), Jack O’Halloran (Non), Aaron Smolinski (Baby Clark Kent), Jeff East (Young Clark Kent), Diane Case (Young Lana Lang), and via SKYPE, a live video appearance by actress Valerie Perrine (Miss Teschmacher).

Fans of classic television can meet one of the original actresses who played the Catwoman in the 1960s Batman series, Lee Meriwether, plus Robin himself, Burt Ward.  Star Trek Discovery star Doug Jones, also known for hundreds of roles in films like Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth, and Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer, will be making his first appearance in Kansas City.  Disney fans can meet Eva Bella, the actress who voiced the young Elsa, and Livvy Stubenrauch, the actress who voiced the young Anna, in the animated film Frozen.  Stuntman and actor Hamid Thompson (Jurassic World, Spider-man: Homecoming) will be on hand, as well as two Lucasfilm Star Wars animated series voice actors: Tom Kane (Yoda) and David Ankrum (Wedge), plus two of the Power Rangers performers: Karan Ashley (Yellow Power Ranger) and Walter E. Jones (Black Power Ranger).  And convention staples Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes are also returning to Kansas City for the show.

Original actors from the Batman TV series, Burt Ward’s Robin and Lee Meriwether’s Catwoman.

Nationally known comic book creators featured at KCCC include legendary writer/artist Mike Grell as well as Star Wars writer and Eisner winner Jason Aaron, artists Phil Hester and Ande Parks, writer Jai Nitz, artist Johnny Desjardins, artist David Finch, artist Mark Sparacio, artist Art Thibert, writer Frank Tieri, writer James Tynion IV, and comics legend Bob Hall.  But that’s only scratching the surface–check out the full list of national and local creators here.

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Shado–one of the best supporting DC Comics characters in the 75-year history of Green Arrow–is again front-and-center in this week’s re-release of the classic 1990s storyline, in trade paperback for the first time.  Green Arrow: The Hunt for the Red Dragon, reprints Green Arrow Issues #63-72, featuring long-time story writer Mike Grell with artwork by Rick Hoberg and inks by John Nyberg.

When a man appears with a gift for Oliver Queen, he leaves Dinah back in Seattle and takes off for Japan in search of a woman with a red dragon tattoo, his ex-lover and foe, Shado.  The gift?  The very same film prop bow used by Errol Flynn in the 1938 film classic, The Adventures of Robin Hood, a film with special meaning for Queen.  But what is behind the gift, and why this mission to give Shado a large sum of money?  After Queen finds Shado they both discover a darker plot, and a villain ripped from the pages of the national crime news in the early 1990s.

   

Shado was created by Mike Grell and first appeared in Grell’s landmark series Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters.  A modified version of the character appeared in CW’s Arrow.

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Happy Mother’s Day!

More than 100 comic book artists came together over the past year to create what is one of the best joint art projects featuring superheroes that has come out of the industry.  And it’s all about the biggest superheroine of all.  Some of the best-known names in the world of comics volunteered an original work of art featuring Wonder Woman, penciled, inked, painted, or otherwise colored on a 75th Anniversary DC Comics Wonder Woman blank comic book cover.  It’s all for a good cause that gives back to, and in effect pays forward comic book creators that came before them.

It’s called the Wonder Woman 100 Project.  All proceeds of the auction of the original artwork will go to the Hero Initiative, an organization that helps out the comic book industry by contributing funds to individuals and their families in the event of medical and financial crises.  Most of the comic creators the fund helps were piecemeal workers in their careers over the past decades or those without any kind of retirement program.

    

And for those who can’t afford the original artwork, the Hero Initiative is creating a hardcover and softcover edition compiling all the covers that will be for sale in June 2017, with proceeds of those books also going to the Hero Initiative.

You’ll see some of the very best Wonder Woman images you’ll ever find.  Many are from well-known artists, but some of the finest works are showcased by more recent artists entering the industry.

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Felix Leiter. 

He’s James Bond’s American CIA counterpart, played onscreen by more actors than have played James Bond himself: Hawaii Five-O’s Jack Lord (Dr. No, 1962), Cec Linder (Goldfinger, 1964), Rik Van Nutter (Thunderball, 1965), Norman Burton (Diamonds Are Forever, 1971), David Hedison (Live and Let Die, 1973, and Licence to Kill, 1989), Bernie Casey (The Living Daylights, 1987), John Terry (Never Say Never Again, 1983), and most recently Jeffrey Wright (Casino Royale, 2006, and Quantum of Solace, 2008).  Leiter was a key player in six Ian Fleming novels–Casino Royale, Live and Let Die, Goldfinger, Thunderball, and The Man with the Golden Gun–where he drove a Studillac, which was a Studebaker with a Cadillac engine.

Leiter gets his first solo adventure ever this month in his own series, Felix Leiter, from Dynamite Comics.  James Robinson (Starman, Scarlet Witch) is writing the series with artwork by Aaron Campbell (The Shadow, Uncanny).  Issue #1 features a cover by Mike Perkins and Andy Taylor and an alternate cover by Gabriel Hardman and Jordan Boyd.  Leiter’s first appearance in comic books was in Mike Grell’s Permission to Die, reviewed here at borg.com.

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The new series finds Leiter in Japan, where he is pursuing Alena Davoff, a woman he has a close past with.  She happens to be a Russian agent.  He’s a detective since the loss of his hand and leg, but the CIA pulls him back into the mix with a Connery-esque Bond as Leiter pursues Davoff.

Check out a preview for Issue #1 of Felix Leiter, courtesy of Dynamite, after the cut.

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Ten years after Return of the Jedi, Topps trading cards editor and writer Gary Gerani was tasked once again to meet fan demand for more Star Wars trading cards.  Many years before he would create photo cards for a new trilogy of prequels, he would team up with Lucasfilm’s Steve Sansweet to showcase Star Wars as interpreted by some of the best artists that contributed to the films or would re-imagine the “Star Wars Galaxy” in their own styles.

The three resulting trading card series have been released in the 2016 addition to Abrams ComicArts successful hardbound series featured here previously at borg.comStar Wars Galaxy: The Original Topps Trading Card Series includes the works of more than 170 artists in more than 200 card reproductions, plus commentary by Gerani and an afterword by notable poster artist Drew Struzan.  Unlike the prior volumes in the series, only the obverse image from the cards, which featured the artwork, is included.

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You’ll find an incredible array of imagery by a surprising combination of artists, including rare images you will have seen only if you collected the original cards.  So you’ll find the work of Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Ralph McQuarrie, Moebius, Drew Struzan, Dave Dorman, Al Williamson, Howard Chaykin, Mike Grell, John Eaves, Mike Zeck, George Perez, Jim Starlin, Dave Stevens, Walter Simonson, Gene Colan, Rich Buckler, Bill Sienkiewicz, Mark Schultz, P. Craig Russell, Dave Gibbons, Sergio Aragones, Boris Vallejo, Charles Vess, and Gil Kane.

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The volume includes the entire run of portraits created for Star Wars Galaxy specifically for the Topps cards by Joseph Smith–the original art was later bought by George Lucas for his personal collection.

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With DC Comics’ summer Rebirth reboot, many monthly series turned bi-weekly, and we’ve now already seen the first eleven issues published of many series.  Like the many reboots before it, DC Comics introduced the Rebirth continuity to re-ignite its fan base after the success of the prior reboot–the New 52–dissipated.  So many shake-ups and change-ups occurred in the New 52 that you’d pretty much need to read the entire DC Comics line to keep up with what has happened to even the key Justice League superheroes.  With two issues per month that’s difficult for any reader to keep up with.

One of the better sellers in this year’s Rebirth line is the Green Arrow title.  Under the New 52 Oliver Queen encountered as many changes to his character as anyone.  In fact fans of Green Arrow were probably better served subscribing to the Arrow tie-in comic book to the television series to get a dose of the classic crusader.  As likely as not the success of the CW Network series coupled perhaps with fans’ hopes for big changes from the New 52, and a restoration of the essential Oliver Queen, could account for the sales success of Green Arrow in DC’s Rebirth universe.

Otto Schmidt served as artist and colorist on the series in the introductory chapters.  Bringing Oliver’s older look back to the character, complete with the goatee, was a move in the right direction.  Schmidt used the supersuit of the modern update yet his style conjures up both Neal Adams and Mike Grell’s key design elements that defined Green Arrow’s look for decades.  Writer Benjamin Percy, who was the writer on the series before the Rebirth kicked in, re-introduced the second key element that defines Oliver: his partnership with Black Canary.  The lack of the Arrow-Canary partnership contributed to the wane of Oliver’s story in the New 52–as a solo character Queen was just too much like everyone else.  Percy’s other shift is reminding everyone that Queen is first and foremost a fighter for social justice.  In contrast to the billion dollar company he sometimes owns and sometimes loses, Queen is the ultimate anti-corporate superhero.  So these three elements: his look, his partnership with Black Canary, and his brand of justice, form the framework for what could be a solid Green Arrow series going forward.

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Plenty is left to be done.  Queen’s social justice efforts have only scratched the surface with eleven issues already in the can.  Instead, Percy has opted for some frivolous, but fun, nostalgia: several scenes are spent restarting a romance between Oliver and Dinah, and he’s brought back classic secondary characters like Shado and Eddie Fyers, both from Mike Grell’s definitive Green Arrow series The Longbow Hunters.  With the story now firmly set in Seattle, also as Grell had done with the setting–and not Star City–we can see some good attempts are being made to rediscover what made the 1980s and 1990s Green Arrow worth reading about.

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The best artwork in a graphic novel you will find this year is at your comic book store this week.  Seven-time Eisner Award winner Jill Thompson has created the definitive Wonder Woman origin story with Wonder Woman: The True Amazon, written and painted in the spectacularly vibrant manner only America’s most acclaimed writer-artist could create.

You may be familiar with Diana, Amazon Princess, and her ancient origin story, but this new version is a keeper–a storybook you’d read to your kids with lush colors and mythology steeped in classic folklore.  The action and storytelling are similar in execution to the best work of Alan Moore and his bold layouts, as well as the action and story development in Frank Miller’s 300–an easy comparison because of the setting and theme–yet Thompson’s story and art is far richer.  Thompson’s watercolor-painted comic pages and layout work is up there with the 1980s-1990s work of Mike Grell, and Wonder Woman: The True Amazon may very well be not only looked back on as the benchmark for all Wonder Woman: Year One attempts to come, it’s very possibly the best looking graphic novel from DC Comics since Grell’s Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters.

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Best of all, Thompson’s story is surprising.  For much of the tale Diana is anything but heroic.  An early subtitle was The Very Selfish Princess–should that give you a hint.  Thompson looked deep into the mythos of Wonder Woman–celebrating her 75th year this year–and asked “what did Diana go through to become this iconic figure?”

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Uhura Nichols

This Friday, Saturday, and Sunday thousands of sci-fi, fantasy, and superhero fans will converge on Kansas City as Kansas City Comic Con returns to the Bartle Hall.  The show again has booked the very best comic book and fiction writers and artists in the U.S. as well as some great movie and TV guests.  Kansas City Comic Con features one of the largest assemblages of nationally known as well as local writers and artists, with more than 300 creators featured.

Headlining this year’s show as part of the 50th anniversary of Star Trek is Nichelle Nichols, well known for her groundbreaking role as Uhura in three seasons of Star Trek and six major motion pictures.  Star Wars fans can meet Billy Dee Williams, best known as Lando Calrissian in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, and Brian Herring, the puppeteer behind Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ lovable new droid BB-8.  Motion picture and TV star Ksenia Solo, star of Lost Girl, Orphan Black, and Black Swan, will be in attendance Saturday and Sunday.  And fans of classic TV can meet the original Bo and Luke of Dukes of Hazzard, John Schneider and Tom Wopat.

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Nationally known comic book creators featured at KCCC include legendary writer/artist Mike Grell and artist Michael Golden, as well as current Star Wars writer and Eisner winner Jason Aaron and Star Trek writers Kevin Dilmore and Dayton Ward, Star Wars artists Joe Corroney and Bryan Fyffe, and DC Comics artist Ant Lucia.  Plus fan favorite writers and artists including CW Cooke, Sean Von Gorman, Ande Parks, Nicholas Forrestal, Damont Jordan, Arie Monroe, Thaddeus Nowak, Bryan Timmins, and Darryl Woods.  But that’s only scratching the surface–check out the full list of national and local creators here.

Green Arrow by Michael Golden    Grell GA BC

Costume contests, a cosplay wedding, a Friday night concert, gaming room, live art, panels, photo ops, autographs, collectables, toys, comics, a scavenger hunt, video games, and an offsite movie screening for Star Trek fans.  It will be a full weekend for anyone who is a fan of comics, movies, TV, superheroes, sci-fi, and fantasy.

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