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Lifelike

Dara Naraghi's graphic novel Lifelike is now available in both digital and print editions. Click here for more info.

Books – Dara
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Image of Cory Doctorow's Futuristic Tales Of The Here And Now
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Books -Panel
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Image of Comic Book Tattoo Special Edition
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Archive for the ‘craptacular’ Category

(By the way, there’s an update here.)

Last year, my hometown comics convention, Mid-Ohio-Con, celebrated its 30th anniversary. Sadly, that was also the year that the independent show was acquired by Wizard World conventions. Almost immediately, comic creators and fans of the venerable show took to Facebook and Twitter to lament the passing of an era. Like any other long-running comic con, it had its share of ups and downs, but at the end of the day, MOC was always a fun show to attend, never too crowded or too “Hollywood,” where guests were easily accessible to fans, and the atmosphere was relaxed and congenial.

 


(Above: a couple of the earliest sketches in my con sketch book, acquired at Mid-Ohio-Con. Typhoid Mary by John Romita, Jr. (1990) and Beanworld by Larry Marder (1993).

 

MOC was the first comic con I ever attended as a fan, starting sometime in the late 80s, 1988 maybe? I know it was when it still hadn’t moved to Columbus. And I’ve been attending the show as a comics fan for over 20 years. As a creator, I’ve had a table at the show since 2002. Coupled with Columbus’ own indie/small press show in the spring, S.P.A.C.E., these 2 shows are more than just comic cons to me. They’re institutions, traditions. They’re a chance to meet old friends, respected creators, and new fans. Colorist Matt Webb and I used to get together for a drink every year he was there. I looked forward to catching up with fellow Columbusites Sean McKeever, Darryl Banks, and Chris Sprouse at the show, and going out to dinner with my fellow PANEL Collective members and new friends after the show. The pre-con parties that used to be sponsored by my local store, The Laughing Ogre, were legendary. Free beer, food, entertainment, and a chance to mingle with creators in a fun environment. What a blast!

I remember the first time my young daughter attended the show on my guest badge, dressed up as Batgirl. Or the time before that when a life-sized remote controlled R2D2 chased her around the convention floor, much to her delight. Having slowly built up my profile as a writer over the last several years, I can’t explain the sheer joy and appreciation I felt when folks would seek me out at MOC and ask what new books I had out since the previous year. The first time I was invited to participate as a comics pro on a panel was at MOC.

 


(Above: Mid-Ohio-Con 2002, my first year attending as a creator, not just a fan (yes, I had green hair). Also my table at MOC ’03 (or maybe it was ’04?) This is when the con was at the Hilton at Easton Town Center)

 

Several years ago, the con’s long-time showrunner, the personable and accessible Roger Price, sold the show to James Henry and his brother. The con had been struggling for a few years by this point, but I feel that the Henry brothers did an admirable job of trying to turn things around. Certainly, they were very open to working with local creators and the Columbus community, and were especially fair and generous with me.

But that’s all in the past, as this year, it’s a different story. Sure, Wizard World retained the Mid-Ohio-Con name, but that’s just window dressing. The guts of the show are now all Wizard World, and everything that entails. Just Google Wizard World conventions and see what folks have to say about the infamous Gareb Shamus’ low-rent outfit.

 


(Above: me and the PANEL crew on a small press panel, I believe at MOC 2006. And my booth at MOC 2008, when it had moved back down to the Greater Columbus Convention Center.)

 

I debated whether to apply for a table or not. An artist alley table which used to cost $125, is now $200. Yes, a 60% increase. And attending the show as a fan will also cost you a lot more this year. For the past 3 years, I had been comped a table at the show. So after hearing from other creators that they were offered free tables, I broke down and decided to contact the new organizers. In my email, I introduced myself and my history with the show (20+ years attending, 9 years tabling as a creator, 4 years organizing/sponsoring a pre-con party, volunteering for con programing as both moderator and panel guest, etc.), listed my credits (Image, IDW, DC, etc.), listed my upcoming projects (Dark Horse Presents, CBLDF Liberty Annual), and asked if they would be willing to provide a comp table. Their answer?

“Unfortunately, we have no more comp tables available for Mid-Ohio. If you would like to attend tables are $200. See artist alley form attached.”

Now, I completely understand my place in the “hot celebrity guests” pecking order. I know I’m not a main draw like Bill Sienkiewicz or Jeff Smith. And I’m not saying I automatically deserve a free table. But at the same time, I’m not some Joe Shmoe off the street whose only contribution is selling photocopied “prints” of copyrighted Marvel & DC characters. I’ve got a body of work that I’ve been building for the past 10 years, including high profile properties like Ghostbusters and Terminator, as well as creator-owned books and small press publications. And I’m a local Columbus guy who has been been supporting and promoting this show for a very, very long time. To go from being comped a table for the past several years to being summarily rejected with a one-sentence form letter response stung a little, to put it mildly.

So I waited a few days to think about it, and not say or do anything rash. And I contacted Wizard World back and explained that while disappointed, I was still interested in having a presence at the show, especially since I have a story in this year’s CBLDF benefit book and have been invited to sign at the CBLDF booth to raise money for the fund. All I was asking for was a measly guest badge to the show. Again:

“If you would like to attend as a professional pro passes are $25 for the weekend with a valid business card.”

That’s right, at a Wizard World show, comics professionals are treated to an amazing discount of 26% off the advance price tickets. Incidentally, as a means of comparison, I’m attending the NYCC show in New York as a professional, and their pro badges cost a mere $10 compared to the regular $85 advance price. For those of you who don’t want to do the math, that’s an 88% discount for a 4-day show that features a couple hundred more guests than MOC, and boasts major publishers, etc.

 


(Above: Unmasked party, 2006 & 2007. Live music by Poop House Reilly.)

 

And again, I  understand that Wizard World has a business to run. But I find my treatment a bit puzzling, and very frustrating, given my long association with the con. Doubly so, in light of reports such as this one on The Beat that shows WW comping all sorts of creators:

“In recent months, Wizard has also been reaching out to pretty much every cartoonist on earth to invite them to be guests at their shows. The basic invite includes a table but no travel or hotel room…Yesterday there was evidence of Wizard taking it to a whole new level, as indie cartoonists were tweeting about their own Wizard invites.”

and

“[Brian] Harbin further tweeted that his invite was particular surprising given past history: ‘Back when I ran HeroesCon, there was a ton of bad blood between us. They’re dicks. So I was like ??? at the invite. …Well, I don’t bear them super ill will or anything. I’m tempted to email back and ask for a plane ticket/hotel room.’

I don’t know, maybe WW somehow forgot about me. I mean, I’ve only been on the MOC mailing list for 20+ years, and their guest list for 9.

Seriously, what’s the point of going around and buying up regional shows, when you’re not going to make the slightest attempt to build any sort of relationship with the community and the show’s long time advocates? As you can see from the canned replies above, there was zero effort and zero interest on their part in engaging me in conversation or trying to work out some sort of a deal. Not even a nominal, token one. Nothing. Thanks for contacting us, here’s our website where you can pay us your money, good bye.



(Above: posters from 4 years of “Unmasked,” the pre Mid-Ohio-Con party organized by me, with a ton of help from my friends in the PANEL collective. Artwork by Tom Williams and Andy Bennett.)

 

So ok, I should just let it go and take the high road. After all, it’s just a comic convention. But you know what? It’s a comic convention that means something to me. And being dismissed in this manner sucks, and bothers me a great deal, and just validates every crappy thing I’ve ever heard or read about how Wizard World runs a con or treats fans.

So this is the part where, despite my better judgment, I lapse into an unprofessional rant. I know I shouldn’t, but screw it. Not only will I never pay money out of my own pocket to attend Mid-Ohio-Con, or any Wizard World convention, but Mid-Ohio-Con’s new corporate overlord can go fuck itself. And while we’re on the topic, Wizard World can take their precious Rob Liefeld, and has-been convention whore actors like Adam West and Burt Ward, and “celebrity” guests like William Holman (“Contestant – Bachelor Pad; The Bachelorette”…wow!) and shove them straight up its ass as well. I don’t wish for anyone to lose their job, especially in this economy, but when they day comes that Wizard World goes extinct the way of Gareb Shamus’ other much-maligned venture, I won’t shed a tear. The comics industry will be better off with a more progressive, responsive organization being in charge of regional conventions. We as creators deserve better, we as fans deserve better, and Columbus certainly deserves better.

RIP, Mid-Ohio-Con.

PS. For nostalgia’s sake, you can check out one of the longer con write-ups I did, for the 2005 show, here. And there’s a bunch of pictures from the first Unmasked pre-con party we (the PANEL collective) sponsored in 2006, after The Ogre stopped doing so, here.

The 90s weren’t just a dark period for comic books, they were pretty bad for comic books on TV as well. Exhibit A: The Fantastic Four’s own Johnny Storm (voiced by 90210’s Brian Austin Green) rapping:

Um…right.

I love how there’s also conductor directing an orchestra to back up Johnny’s hip hop stylings. Nothing says “funky” like white pants and an orchestra!
(via CBR’s Comic Book Legends Revealed)

Now Craig will have a brand new book to have Rob Liefeld sign at this year’s Mid-Ohio-Con:

It’s up to the living avatars of war and peace to root out the hidden forces who look to plunge the country into a deadly civil war in HAWK AND DOVE #1. The exciting new series will be written by Sterling Gates and illustrated by legendary superstar comics artist Rob Liefeld.

In an announcement that came as no surprise to anyone (except maybe a handful of brain-dead racist assholes huffing glue behind the dumpster of a Taco Bell somewhere), flavor-of-the-month and world-class douchebag Donal Trump finally revealed that no, in fact he won’t run for President of the United States of America.

“I’ve decided that we are going to continue onward with ‘Celebrity Apprentice…I will not be running for president as much as I’d like to.”

I know, I know, big disappointment.

So as The Hairbag’s political ambitions come to an end, so too does this short-lived blog feature. Sure, after just the first 2 postings, our humble blog climbed to the top of the Google search results for “donald trump douche bag,” claiming the #1 and #2 links. But much like claiming you got to third base with your sister, it’s a dubious honor to say the least, and certainly not worthy of celebration. But at a minimum, the world got a couple of fantastically funny comedy routines at the expense of ol’ Turdhead, courtesy of Seth Meyers and none other than President Barack Obama.

So long, Mr. Trump. You may never become President of these here United States, but history will always remember you…as a worthless, self-aggrandizing, misogynistic, arrogant, vapid douche bag.

Look, I know that Trump is only pretending to want to run for president to increase the ratings on his reality show and promote his “brand” (which incidentally, despite the myth he likes to propagate of Trump the savvy businessman, is mostly an empty charade of a fast-talking charlatan with failed casinos and multiple bankruptcies in his wake). We all know he has no intention of actually running. But in the meantime, the media is so willing to give him what amounts to free air time for his show and other dubious ventures, that I think it’s more than fair to poke some fun at him, using his own ridiculous words. Case in point, from USA Today:

“I have a great relationship with the blacks. I’ve always had a great relationship with the blacks,” Trump said on Talk 1300 AM radio in Albany, N.Y.

In light of his repeated reference to “The Blacks,” I’d like to change his moniker on this blog from Donald Trump: Douche Bag to Donald Trump: Culturally Aware Douche Bag. I wonder when he’ll get around to talking about “The Gays” and “The Foreigners”.

Also, The Onion sums it up perfectly and succinctly (as they always do) in this headline:

Trump Unable To Produce Certificate Proving He’s Not A Festering Pile Of Shit

(thanks to Tom for the above link)

Recently, while looking for comic covers to post as part of the Weekend Versus feature, I ran across several more books from a publisher called Spoof Comics. You may remember them from this previous edition of Weekend Versus, featuring their oh-so-clever Wolverbroad vs. Hobo book, or this one, featuring Spider-femme vs. Denim.

Well, I’m here to tell you that judging by the covers of their other books, it’s a testament to the strength (and insanity) of the 90s era speculative market that they lasted as long as they did. Again, I’ll be the first to admit I haven’t read a single one of these comics, but honestly, I can’t imagine any of them actually being funny. For example, we’ve got O-X: Cow O’ War:


Because nothing’s funnier than recasting Valiant’s successful X-O: Man O’ War as a cow. Cow’s have udders, which are funny, right? Ugh. Or how about The Punish-her Score Journal:

First of all, the character’s name doesn’t even make sense, other than it’s the best they could come up with that would somewhat rhyme with Punisher. I don’t even want to know how they wove in the theme of dating and sex and “punishment,” because I have a feeling it’s a bunch of frat house juvenile humor. But hey, check out the early Dave Johnson cover. At least he went on to bigger and better things.

And speaking of great cover artists, the folks at Spoof Comics were at least smart enough to know they’d have a better chance of selling their books if they put some recognizable talent on the covers. My guess is the interiors of these comics were drawn by hungry, naive young artists with way more enthusiasm to “break in” than actual alent. You know, the Bluewater model. So if you can get some nice looking covers, you may at least trick some unsuspecting souls into buying your crap comics. Case in point, Swamp Thang:

Oh, Kelley Jones, you must have had a car payment to cover that month. But at least it’s a really good cover. And then there’s Spider-femme:

That’s right, despite the normal looking (and sized) breasts, that’s pinup artist extraordinaire, Adam Hughes. Incidentally, the above cover is from their anthology series Spoof Comics Presents, which, get this, lasted 19 issues! And in that year and a half of publication, they gave us such gems as Daredame:

…Vertigo parodies like Dame Patrol:

…and the super-innuendo of Green Lanterns:

(by the way, I’m pretty sure that’s a Cully Hamner cover on GL)

…and so many other comedy classics, from Justice Broads to Wet Shirts. I’m telling you, Spoof Comics was a veritable (un)funny factory, churning out not just comic book spoofs, but also those of celebrity rock bands. Behold, Kisses:

But even in the early stages of their careers, guys like Adam Hughes and Kelley Jones probably charged too much for a cover (and by too much, I mean “not free,” which seems to have been Spoof Comics’ payment standard), so their other books looked more like this:

That’s right, Youngspud. What’s funnier than a parody of Rob Liefeld’s Youngblood book, than a bunch of potato superheroes? God, I can just imagine all the funny lines in that book: the heroes drink a lot to get “mashed,” or maybe they fight a French supervillain knows as The Fry?

Well, I’m afraid that’s about as much as I can stand to write on this topic. But before I go, I’ll leave you with the best of the bunch. Behold teh funny of Soul Trek:

I don’t even want to know.

Everyone’s favorite arrogant blowhard, speaking with CNN’s Candy Crowley about how he’s handle the delicate situation in Libya:

TRUMP: Somebody said, what would be your theory or what would you do in terms of Libya? I’d do one thing. Either I’d go in and take the oil or I don’t go in at all. We can’t be the policeman for the world.
CROWLEY: You’d just take their oil?
TRUMP: Absolutely. I’d take the oil. I’d give them plenty so they can live very happily. I would take the oil. You know, in the old days, Candy –
CROWLEY: Well, wait, we can’t go –
TRUMP: – Candy, Candy, in the old days, when you have a war and you win, that nation is yours.

I’d imagine the rest of that conversation would have gone something like this:

TRUMP: Candy, Candy, you silly girl. Aside from the fact that broads don’t know a thing about how the world really works, I gotta say, if you want to be on TV, you really need to drop a few pounds. But back to this whole Libya thing, my policy is simple: go in, guns a-blazing, kick ass, take names, and show them Ay-rabs who’s boss. Then take their oil. And their women…but only the good looking ones.

Sigh.

But who am I to argue with Donald Trump’s foreign policy approach. Hell, that’s how ol’ Dubya would have handled it, with all his cowboy swagger and take-no-prisoners studly diplomacy. And that turned out swell for our country (not to mention Afghanistan and Iraq), didn’t it?

“The world laughs at us. They won’t be laughing if I’m elected president.” —Donald Trump

In the long history of smug, arrogant, worthless human beings, Trump doesn’t even qualify for the human part. What an absolute waste of oxygen this douche bag is.

USA today has a brief look at 9 different TV pilots being filmed, all hoping to be picked up for a fall season. It’s an odd assortment, but I’ll only mention the ones that might be of interest to the genre fan:

Alcatraz – “A crime drama involving our country’s most infamous prison, Alcatraz, and the team investigating the mysterious re-appearance of its 1960s inhabitants in the present.” Brought to you by JJ Abrams, trying to recapture the lightning-in-a-bottle magic of Lost (it even features Jorge Garcia in the cast).

Locke & Key – “Based on the graphic novel by Joe Hill, this suspenseful thriller follows a family in crisis as they move into a haunted house full of secrets, dangers and wondrous opportunities.” I just recently read the first 2 trades of this IDW series by Stephen King’s son, and it’s pretty damn good! I’m not even really a fan of the patented “Stephen King New England horror” genre, but Hill does a great job building up his characters and the mystery, and the antagonist is truly creepy, in a very normal way. The source material can surely support a TV show, I guess it just comes down to the execution. I’d love to see this one.

Napoleon Dynamite (animated) – “The quirky Idaho teenager and his pals from the cult movie live on in animated form.” I’ll admit, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. But seriously? 7 years too late, folks.

Terra Nova – “A family heads back to dinosaur age to save humanity in this time-travel fantasy.” Executive producers include the dude that produces “Nikita,” and some dude who did “Debbie Does Dallas: The Musical”. Um, oookay. It’s for Fox, so not sure what to think of this.

There’s also a Charlie’s Angels remake, and the much-talked-about David E. Kelly take on Wonder Woman. But no need to talk about those.

The awesome-titled blog Good Show Sir presents “Only the worst Sci-fi/Fantasy book covers” for your enjoyment. For example, one of my favorite science fiction books of all time, under one of the worst covers you’ll ever see:

(via ComicsAlliance)

I’ll let the humor speak for itself:

(via The Beat)

You loved AVP (Aliens vs. Predators). You even liked AVH (Alien vs. Hunter). But do you have the sheer cinematic constitution to handle AVN? That’s right, my fellow geeks, I’m alking about…

Alien vs. Ninja!

Presented by Funimation, the same folks that bring you anime shows like Dragonball Z and One Piece.

The best part about AVN, aside from the trailer? Their tagline: “Alien vs. Ninja. Seriously.”

Lots of fun comic book related stuff to share, so let’s just get to it:

  • ComicsAlliance.com reviews the David E. Kelley script for the pilot episode of the new Wonder Woman TV show. Broken down in to “The Good, The Bad, and The Crazy” categories, from good decisions like getting the origin story out of the way quickly, to bizarre bits like her fleet of primary colored high-tech planes.
  • Graphic NYC has a nice interview with Kyle Baker.
  • “I still use a lot of tricks that they taught me in the bullpen to just hack it out,” Kyle notes. “Everyone who draws should do this: Dick Giordano told me ‘You sit with a timer on your desk. Every comic book page is about three tiers, and it takes about half an hour each tier. So, I wait until the big hand is at the top or the bottom, and I start inking and give myself half an hour. I ink all of the important stuff: faces, figures, a gun or a car, and then I look at the clock and go ‘Oh my god! Twenty-five minutes have passed and I’m nowhere near done!’ So, then I paint everything else black.’

  • Not a link, but in case you were interested, the DC Universe Holiday Special 2010 anthology I had a story in sold 13,679 copies in December, putting it at #147 on Diamond Distribution’s list of top 300 best selling comics in December.
  • Popular Science magazine awards their Robot of the Week title to the crazy-ass killing machine in the Tamil sci-fi movie, Enthiran. Check out the absolutely insane action in this long video clip:
  • Geekosystem has a rundown of some of the most sexist video game ads from the past few decades. Enough to make even the most dyed in the wool chauvinist hang his head in shame.

Um…I like the dude with the saxamaphone?

“But wait, Dara, what about our own Columbus Blue Jackets?” Well, since you asked:

“A great military mind, the Blue Jacket lives to fight and he has the power of mediumship to communicate with the Union Civil War Generals that he idolizes. In battle, he relies on his heart and intelligence and not on modern technology. The Blue Jacket is entirely cased in a metal suit of armor that houses a devastating array of weaponry.

For weaponry, he has an armada of 1857 Napoleon Cannons strapped all over his body. The cannons on his wrists, shoulders and thighs fire cannon balls loaded with explosives. At his side hangs the state flag of Ohio made of astral plasma. He has the ability to cocoon his victim with the flag, giving the illusion the victim has disappeared when in reality, the victim is temporarily suspended in time. “

You can see all of the Guardian superheroes (created by Stan Lee and Neil Adams!) here.

Another free rental from the library, but one that I knew was going to be bad going in. So not much vitriol here, just a few words to share my thoughts on it. As you’ve no doubt heard, this movie is just a mess. I don’t know its production history, nor do I care enough to look it up, but I’m sure the script had gone through several re-writes, and the whole movie was re-jiggered numerous times by movie executives and marketing folks, because it just can’t decide what kind of movie it wants to be. It’s neither a straight-up western, nor a supernatural western, nor a modern/retro western. It has elements of the DC Universe version of Hex, plus some lame-ass attempt at the edgy/supernatural flavor of the Hex mini-series that Vertigo published, and then entirely too much “Holywood” flare from such masterpieces as the Will Smith Wild, Wild West movie. The end result is a jumbled, inconsistent, incoherent mess which is neither fish nor fowl.

This Jonah Hex can talk to the dead, but that’s about the extent of the supernatural theme. He also wields super-weaponry like horse-mounted Gatling guns and twin crossbow dynamite launchers (yes, you read that right). The villain of the piece, Quentin Turnbull (phoned in by John Malkovich) uses some sort of mega-advanced nuclear bomb cannon (it’s never really explained in the movie, because…well, who cares) created by Eli Whitney (yes, the cotton gin inventor) at the behest of the U.S. government. There’s also some lip service paid to race relations and an anti-slavery message. Oh, and Megan Fox plays a prostitute.

Anyway, as you no doubt know by now, this is bottom of the rung Hollywood action B-movie material. About the only good things I can point to are Josh Brolin’s gruff portrayal of Hex, and that they did a pretty decent job on his scar. Other than that, it’s a waste of your time.

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