Welcome to the weblog of the writers and artists of Ferret Press (a publisher of fine comix) and PANEL (a Columbus, Ohio comic creators collaborative.) Here you will find our musings on comics, art, the creative process, politics, the web, and life.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006
 
  Posted by Tom on 11/28/2006 09:42:00 PM :

       Time to brush up that AKA

New OGN line from DC to target the tween girl crowd called MINX. Read it on some feed on LJ. I guess it's been in the works for a couple of years. I hope it takes off. Thrilled as it means all new Jim Rugg art in a graphic novel.


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  Posted by Dara on 11/28/2006 09:35:00 PM :

       Heroes TV show: 1, Heroes webcomic: 0

I'm absolutely loving NBC's Heroes. They've done a fantastic job so far of developing the characters, the mysteries, and the "universe" of the story. Each episode advances the overall story arc, fills in the backgrounds of the characters, and unlike Lost, manages to answer a few questions instead of constantly introducing new ones.

The online heroes "graphic novel," on the other hand, is a complete and utter waste of electrons. Then again, considering it's an "Aspen Comics" production, would you expect otherwise? The character vignettes are complete throw-aways, adding less than nothing to the show's storyline or the characters' background and depth. And the art. Oh god, the art. Michael Turner clone/wannabe Micah Gunnell makes my eyes bleed. Check out this astounding bit of anatomy from chapter 8 of the online comic...I think it's supposed to be a representation of the character Simone Deveaux, played by actress Tawny Cypress:



Are you kidding me? Look at that torso! Look at that waist! Her friggin' leg is thicker than her waist.

Ugh. Such lousy art on such a high profile project just makes me sad.


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  Posted by Tony on 11/28/2006 09:54:00 AM :

       Bankies! 2006 Mid-Ohio Edition

It’s time once again for the 2006 Bankies, Mid-Ohio Con Edition! These awards recognize the good, the bad and the ugly from each convention.

Steve Rubell Award for achievement in the field of Hosting: Dara Naraghi, for setting up the pre-show party.

Goin’ Places Award: Panel, for the flossy passport-themed book.

DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince award – to our own Andy Bennett, for hooking up his iBook and providing the music at the party during the breaks in Poophouse’s set. Despite a power surge that nearly caused his external hard drive to crash – and some impromptu tech support -- DJ B3NN3TT recovered and brought teh rock.

Burnin’ Down the House award – to Ian and the rest of the Poophouse Jug Band (http://www.myspace.com/poophousereilly) for providing the energetic live music at our “Unmasked” pre-con party Friday night. You guys actually got comic book fans to dance! In a bar full of people! Now that’s an accomplishment.

Urban Ninja award (or: Poor Convention Center Security award) – to Twisted Gate Entertainment (http://www.twistedgate.com) publisher Ray Scott for actually managing to spend the night inside the convention center, sleeping in a hallways above the convention floor. Damn impressive, and a funny story to boot.

Obi Wan and Yoda Annikin Award: McGurr, McClurg, Kish, Barlow, and all those who all definitely there in spirit.

Saucer of Milk Award: Craig Bogart. “That guy is like *two* clones of Jango Fett.”

Heather Locklear Award for best cameo: Tony Goins. No table, but still there.

Lighting My Cigar With Someone Else’s $100 Bill award – to the inconsiderate jerk (or jerks) at the pre-con party who stacked two plates full of the free appetizers we’d provided for everyone, only to take a half-bite out of one piece and discard the rest with their dirty napkins thrown on top. What a waste.

Little Florence Nightingale award – to the little girl (who couldn’t have been more than 4 or 5 years old) who heard Dara coughing while she was walking past his table with her family, and came up to offer him a cough drop. Talk about sweet!

Big Pimpin’ Award: Sean McKeever, who had a full table all to himself, often populated by a posse.

Lose Your Cool, Lose Your Sale Award: the dealer who stood at his booth screaming profanities into his phone while Craig stood there with a stack of comics to purchase. Craig left the books there since he didn't want to give my money to an obvious @$$hole.

Sometimes I Doubt Your Commitment to Sparkle Motion Award: Low traffic in general at the show. Traffic at the show was either feast or famine. Sunday being the worst. Good weather or parking fees? Don't know what was holding `em back. When conventioneers have the time to look around tables or close up: that's a crappy show.

Talky McTalk award, Part 1 – to DC/Vertigo editor Bob Schreck, for being one of the chatiest guys I’ve ever met. Even the simplest fan exchanges turned into 15 minute conversations.

Talky McTalk award, part 2 – to DC/Vertigo editor Bob Schreck, for being open, approachable, and attentive to all of us aspiring comics creators who dropped by for portfolio reviews and advice. He didn’t brush off anyone, imparted much wisdom, and took the time to talk to everyone in full. Bravo!

Why Buy The Cow? Award: Mike Dolce, who gave Tony two copies of his book Sire for free. It’s really pretty good, check it out at http://www.mikebooks.com.

Paris Hilton Award for achievements in the field of over-exposure: Catwoman. We counted at least three different women wearing different Catwoman costumes at the show: the purple Jim Balent version, the gray Animated Series version, and a black Darwyn Cooke version.

Put That Away! Award: To twink Green Lantern, for reminding us once again why Batman wears his drawers outside his tights. It’s so no one can see the outline of his junk.

Baba Wawa Award: Pam Bliss, who prepared for her Barbara Walters interview by getting choked up while telling about one special National Lampoon cartoon she saw as a kid.

Come And Knock On My Door … Please Award: Apparently Larry from Three’s Company was really trying to mack on the `82 Playboy model at the bar the other night and we missed the whole sad display.

You’re Killing Comics award: Part 1: Lack of variety at the show. No Manga/Japanese shwag dealers, no Top Shelf. Tom cries. But hey, you can get a novelty t-shirt. Whoopey friggin' do!

You’re Killing Comics award: Part 2: To booking that dork who won the I wanna be a superhero show. Maybe a worse sin than having the remainder cast from Three's Company.

You’re Keeping Comics Alive award – to Jubal Faircloth, attending his first comic con as an “industry pro,” who despite the small crowds and general lack of interest towards small press comics, was still excited and cheerful. Nice job on your book, and here’s to seeing you at SPACE in 2007.


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Monday, November 27, 2006
 
  Posted by Tony on 11/27/2006 03:52:00 PM :

       Newsarama on Mid-Ohio Con

Here's Newsarama's take on MOC:

The 2006 MOC Bankies are coming up tomorrow ...


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  Posted by Craig on 11/27/2006 11:17:00 AM :

       Craig's MidOhio Con Report

At the 1988 MidOhio Con, I got to shake hands with Stan Lee; this past weekend’s show actually managed to top that one, making it my own personal best convention both as a fan and since I started self-publishing. I heard a lot of grumbling from other exhibitors about it being slow (and Sunday was completely dead), but Saturday went so well for me that the second day didn’t matter. I rolled out a $14 trade paperback as an experiment, and it actually succeeded, selling well enough to pay for my table and give me some shopping money. I can’t wait to see how it goes at SPACE next year, and I’ll most likely shift to a webcomic/annual tpb model for The Ineffables from here on out. The freakishness factor at this year’s show was actually kind of low (my regular favorite, the bald Nightcrawler, was nowhere to be seen, and that short blonde Aquaman dude was actually walking around dressed as a normal guy at one point), so I only got a few pictures; here are the highlights:

We parked at the wrong end of the convention center, so we came in to an ominously empty, silent cavern of a place that looked deserted. I told my wife that I would ask the guy sitting at the information desk over there for directions. As I walked over, she was saying “er, Craig…”


Oh. Seems I wasn’t wearing my contact lenses that morning. I imagined myself as Mister Magoo, shaking my fist and yelling “why won’t you answer me?!!?”

Here’s a work-in-progress by Andy Bennett, which I promised to post so he couldn’t deny its existence. Now, I’m a big fan of the ‘70s Marvels myself, but it boggles my mind that anyone would ask for a Champions sketch of all things. But hey, who am I to talk, I post loving essays about the Shogun Warriors…
…which brings me to my own fanboy moment for the weekend, meeting the great Herb Trimpe. I think we made a real connection there, notice that arm around my shoulder and his “best wishes” on the sketch. Other people just got “wishes” on their sketches, but he gave me his best wishes.
Here's that sketch:

A couple thoughts: Herb Trimpe aside, if I were attending the show purely as a comic collector, I’d probably never come back. The dealers had tons of expensive silver age books, and tons of overpriced new stuff that’s probably still on the shelf at the Ogre, but nothing in between. If I was trying to complete a run of a specific series, I wouldn’t have found what I was after. I was hoping to find some Sal Buscema Hulk’s from the late 70s/early 80s, and they weren’t there; likewise any FF between Kirby and Byrne, etc. I did finally have some limited success digging through discount boxes, but those were unorganized and mostly 90s books the dealers hadn’t been able to sell at their own stores over the last decade. Also, the comic dealers themselves seemed outnumbered by guys selling DVD’s and T-Shirts.

At the small press panel, Bob Corby made the remark that 20% of the comic stores on his direct mail list for SPACE fliers have closed in the past couple years. Yikes! Perhaps if comics were aimed exclusively at older readers, eschewed self-contained stories, and featured stories that are heavily continuity-driven, more people might read them and this trend would reverse itself.

Past cons have followed a formula of being really busy at opening time, then slowing down through the day. Perhaps because of the new downtown location, I saw the opposite this time; It didn’t look like the con had opened at 10 a.m., but slowly built as the day progressed. When we returned from the panel at 2:00, I was surprised by the size of the crowd compared to when we left (note for Roger: I’d prefer to be on panels on Sunday, when the crowd on the floor is smaller. Then again, I guess I won’t complain about the exposure in either event).

Quote of the weekend: a guy stopped at my table to look over my books, so I gave him my sales pitch. He said, “I don’t read much, thanks.”



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  Posted by Dara on 11/27/2006 07:49:00 AM :

       Monday Morning "Guess the Artist"

This week's page is courtesy of fellow PANEList Andy Bennett. Guess away.



(click image to greenify)

(previous weeks: 9/12/2005, 9/19/2005, 9/26/2005, 10/3/2005, 10/10/2005, 10/17/2005, 10/24/2005, 10/31/2005, 11/1/2005, 11/2/2005, 11/3/2005, 11/4/2005, 11/5/2005, 11/6/2005, 11/7/2005, 11/14/2005, 11/21/2005, 11/28/2005, 12/5/2005, 12/12/2005, 12/19/2005, 12/26/2005, 1/2/2006, 1/9/2006, 1/16/2006, 1/23/2006, 1/30/2006, 2/06/2006, 2/13/2006, 2/20/2006, 2/27/2006, 3/6/2006, 3/13/2006, 3/20/2006, 3/27/2006, 4/3/2006, 4/4/2006, 4/5/2006, 4/6/2006, 4/7/2006, 4/8/2006, 4/9/2006, 4/10/2006, 4/17/2006, 4/23/2006, 5/1/2006, 5/8/2006, 5/15/2006, 5/22/2006, 5/29/2006, 6/5/2006, 6/12/2006, 6/19/2006, 6/26/2006, 7/3/2006, 7/10/2006, 7/17/2006, 7/24/2006, 7/31/2006, 8/7/2006, 8/13/2006, 8/21/2006, 8/28/2006, 9/4/2006, 9/11/2006, 9/18/2006, 9/25/2006, 10/2/2006, 10/9/2006, 10/16/2006, 10/23/2006, 10/30/2006, 11/6/2006, 11/13/2006, 11/20/2006)

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Saturday, November 25, 2006
 
  Posted by Dara on 11/25/2006 08:09:00 AM :

       "PANEL: Travel" hits the road today

The 8th volume of our well-reviewed small press anthology, PANEL: Travel, debuts today at Mid-Ohio-Con!

Cover by Steve Black.



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  Posted by Dara on 11/25/2006 12:58:00 AM :

       "Unmasked" party a success

The pre-show party tonight was quite fun, and we had a great turnout. Thanks to the Poophouse Jug Band for entertaining the crowd, and to my fellow PANEListas Andy, Tony, and Tom for helping out with the party. More details and a full set of pictures later, but for now, here are a few shots:







See you all at Mid-Ohio-Con in a few hours!


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Friday, November 24, 2006
 
  Posted by Dara on 11/24/2006 03:06:00 PM :

       "PANEL: Travel" . T-minus 1 day

"Vegass" by Tom Williams



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Thursday, November 23, 2006
 
  Posted by Dara on 11/23/2006 12:34:00 PM :

       "PANEL: Travel" .. T-minus 2 days

"Transcendence" by Sean McGurr and Steve Black



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Wednesday, November 22, 2006
 
  Posted by Dara on 11/22/2006 09:42:00 PM :

       "Unmasked" press coverage

I'm hoping for a real good turnout at "Unmasked", our little pre-Mid-Ohio-Con shindig. The press release has been making the rounds, with coverage on The Pulse and the Mid-Ohio-Con new page, plus Kevin Melrose posted about it on Blog@Newsarama, Beau Smith mentioned it in his Busted Knuckles column, and Tony Isabella's Tony's Online Tips column did some name dropping as well.


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  Posted by Dara on 11/22/2006 07:37:00 AM :

       "PANEL: Travel" ... T-minus 3 days

"Bystander" by Dara Naraghi and Andy Bennett.



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Tuesday, November 21, 2006
 
  Posted by Tom on 11/21/2006 10:17:00 PM :

       Comic Tools

Sometimes at a show or just in conversation, I get asked what I use when I draw. Well here's a blog centered around that whole query. Unless you're an artist, it's like reading a fishman talking about what bait he uses. But it may be useful to some. Adrian Tomine, Jim Rugg and Bryan O'Malley are some of artists that jumped at me on there.

I'm more of the mind: whatever works. Lately I've been using sumi brush & ink for fill-ins and faber castell brush pens for everything else on 2 ply bristol. Mostly because I've been in a hurry lately with projects. Constantly having to dip back into the pen gets in the way. I cut the inking in half by doing that. Coloring is a toggle between Painter and Photoshop. Sketching at shows isn't much different except I've been trying these terracotta pencils for tone. They mesh nice with some of the earthtone brush pens.


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  Posted by Dara on 11/21/2006 09:32:00 PM :

       Famous artists interpret "The Fountain"

Check out this New York Times gallery of famous artists interpreting visuals from the new Darren Aronofsky movie, "The Fountain". Some gorgeous pieces by the likes of Phil Hale, Barron Storey, Jim Lee, and James Jean.



(via The Lint Trap)


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  Posted by Andy Bennett on 11/21/2006 09:43:00 AM :

       Is Galactus REAL?

From Your Mom's Basement comes this Jack Chick-inspired spoof that invariably made me think of Craig Bogart:
















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  Posted by Dara on 11/21/2006 07:53:00 AM :

       "PANEL: Travel" .... T-minus 4 days

"Random Encounter" by Tony Goins.



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Monday, November 20, 2006
 
  Posted by Craig on 11/20/2006 11:24:00 AM :

       Way Back Machine

I’ve referred to my obvious Marvel bias before; for two and a half decades, the young upstart comic company had a far better cast of characters and stable of creators than their competitors at DC. Every now and then, however, the folks at the company formerly known as National would come along and produce something memorable (usually with talent on loan from Marvel). While flipping through my long boxes searching for fodder for another post, I stumbled across the single issue that rolls all the goodness DC was able to muster over two decades into a single package, the only DC comic anyone needs to own:

Justice League of America #200

Editor Roy Thomas delivers a dream team of creators producing a ginormous 72-page self-contained story commemorating the anniversary of Earth’s other mightiest heroes. Writer Gerry Conway pens an editorial in which he talks about JLA stories having a “cosmic scope”, and gives the reader just that with this issue. Back in the days before decompression, you set aside an evening to read a hefty book like this, and you got your $1.50 worth of story and then some. The story is structured like the earliest JLA comics, wherein individual characters would deal with aspects of a case in separate chapters before converging on the main threat at the end. Like all good anniversary issues, this story relates back to the origins of the super-team, when a group of meteors crashed to Earth, each hatching an alien menace which the super heroes united to defeat. As it happens, however, the aliens planted a post-hypnotic suggestion in the minds of those founding Leaguers, compelling them to gather the meteor fragments at a later date, when they would hatch “seed clones” of the original monsters and start the ruckus anew.

George Perez draws an origin/introduction and framing sequences between chapters, as new Leaguers split up to track down mind-controlled founding Leaguers who are searching for meteor fragments. As the chapters roll by, the reader is treated to an utterly amazing cast of classic artists (and one interesting newbie I almost saved for Dara’s MMGTA), many revisiting their classic characters.

The action starts with Pat Broderick, inked by Terry Austin, as the Martian Manhunter bursts in on one of my favorite DC characters, the original Firestorm. Apparently J’onn J’onzz has been away for a while, because Firestorm doesn’t recognize him.

The Aquaman/Red Tornado confrontation is drawn by Jim Aparo, who should have been given the Batman chapter, but this still works anyway. Recognizing that Arthur Curry’s super-swimming ability isn’t much help against the android elemental, The Phantom Stranger steps in to lend a hand. Apparently he knows that fate decrees an early victory for Aquaman in order for good to ultimately triumph, or something.

Dick Giordano shows us Zatanna getting her head handed to her by Wonder Woman, before Gil Kane gives us a jaw-dropping Green Lantern/Atom meeting. As an added bonus, each chapter has one of these pin-up pages, and all of them are worth the price of admission.

Next up: Hey, it’s Carmine Infantino again! Here’s how the Flash is supposed to be done, as he runs rings around the Elongated Man; I hope whoever’s on the new series is paying attention.

The chapter dealing with the Green Arrow & Black Canary/Batman showdown was a surprise to me; I didn’t realize this artist was even around back in 1982. My scan isn’t great, but I’ll leave you to guess who penciled & inked Oliver Queen’s humiliation and post the answer in the comments. I don’t think this one’s too hard.

Last but certainly not least, Joe Kubert himself comes along to show Hawkman getting bit*h slapped by Superman. These chapters all fill five pages, and this fight scene must have been the hardest to stretch out. Supes punches Katar Hol out of the atmosphere and straight into the Zeta Beam, providing us with an Adam Strange cameo at no additional cost.

Wow, that’s a lot of comic goodness. Are the last 22 pages ads? Nope, there’s a whole comic’s worth of story drawn by George Perez waiting at the end of all that. Having humbled their successors, the founders unite the fragments, witness the rebirth of their original foes, and get trounced themselves. The fifteen Leaguers all unite, then break into new groups to give their foes the thrashing they deserve. Here’s Firestorm, the Atom, Green Lantern and Martian Manhunter fighting a giant stone monster and a big golden bird.


(That’s the Green lantern I remember. He’s got what would later be called “the greatest weapon in the universe” on his finger, and he’s using it to make a cannon to fire the Atom from. Gimme more of that—swatting foes with big green hammers or giant fists, or stone monsters with giant jackhammers. Bonus points to any comic that has him fighting the original Tattooed Man.)

I recently picked up the first issue of the new JLA and saw a few of these heroes standing around talking for 22 pages that were probably the first chapter of a six-part story. Having read a book like JLA 200, you’ve got to be kidding, right?

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  Posted by Dara on 11/20/2006 07:38:00 AM :

       "PANEL: Travel" ..... T-minus 5 days

"Uprooted" by Matt Kish and Steve Black.



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  Posted by Dara on 11/20/2006 07:34:00 AM :

       Monday Morning "Guess the Artist"

Marvel week continues. As Borat might say, "In my country, they would say last week's page very difficult...not so much...this week."



(click image to make the sexy crazy eyes)

(previous weeks: 9/12/2005, 9/19/2005, 9/26/2005, 10/3/2005, 10/10/2005, 10/17/2005, 10/24/2005, 10/31/2005, 11/1/2005, 11/2/2005, 11/3/2005, 11/4/2005, 11/5/2005, 11/6/2005, 11/7/2005, 11/14/2005, 11/21/2005, 11/28/2005, 12/5/2005, 12/12/2005, 12/19/2005, 12/26/2005, 1/2/2006, 1/9/2006, 1/16/2006, 1/23/2006, 1/30/2006, 2/06/2006, 2/13/2006, 2/20/2006, 2/27/2006, 3/6/2006, 3/13/2006, 3/20/2006, 3/27/2006, 4/3/2006, 4/4/2006, 4/5/2006, 4/6/2006, 4/7/2006, 4/8/2006, 4/9/2006, 4/10/2006, 4/17/2006, 4/23/2006, 5/1/2006, 5/8/2006, 5/15/2006, 5/22/2006, 5/29/2006, 6/5/2006, 6/12/2006, 6/19/2006, 6/26/2006, 7/3/2006, 7/10/2006, 7/17/2006, 7/24/2006, 7/31/2006, 8/7/2006, 8/13/2006, 8/21/2006, 8/28/2006, 9/4/2006, 9/11/2006, 9/18/2006, 9/25/2006, 10/2/2006, 10/9/2006, 10/16/2006, 10/23/2006, 10/30/2006, 11/6/2006, 11/13/2006)

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Sunday, November 19, 2006
 
  Posted by Dara on 11/19/2006 05:55:00 PM :

       "PANEL: Travel" ...... T-minus 6 days

"Round Trip" by Matt Kish



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  Posted by Dara on 11/19/2006 05:53:00 PM :

       Hey kids, tattoos!

Check it: Spin Master GR8 TaT2 Maker, a toy tattoo gun for kids!
"This easy-to-use tattoo maker kit includes an electronic tattoo pen and funky stencils. Using soft, safe pulsating action, the tattoo pen creates realistic, washable designs with dramatic effects. "
(via boingboing)


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Saturday, November 18, 2006
 
  Posted by Dara on 11/18/2006 11:50:00 PM :

       "PANEL: Travel" ....... T-minus 7 days

"Good Humor" by Sean McGurr and Tim McClurg.



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  Posted by Tom on 11/18/2006 01:49:00 PM :

       Our own "Unmasked" party to precede Mid-Ohio-Con





Aaaaaaand the official press release:

FERRET PRESS SPONSORS FREE PRE-MID OHIO CON PARTY ON FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 24

Columbus, OH – Fans and pros alike were disappointed at the news that the legendary pre-con party sponsored by local comic book store The Laughing Ogre was not planned for this year. But fear not, comic fans, as the mantle has been passed on to a new successor. Ferret Press, a Columbus-based publisher of small press comix, in association with the local writers/artists collective known as PANEL, will be sponsoring “Unmasked,” a pre-Mid Ohio Con party.

The free event will take place on Friday, November 24th, from 8 PM till midnight. The venue will be the oh-so-cool “Underground” at Barley’s Brewing Company, 467 North High Street, Columbus, Ohio (directly across from the convention center.) Comic book fans and pros alike are invited to come mingle, meet and greet, see and be seen, talk comics, and just have a good time.

“This is our hometown convention, and the pre-show parties have been a tradition,” said Dara Naraghi, Ferret Press publisher and PANEL co-founder. “We wanted to make sure we carried on the tradition in the fun, relaxed manner fans have come to expect. Plus, we’re always looking for an excuse to get together with friends and colleagues and drink a beer!”

Admission to the “Unmasked” party is absolutely free, but a donation box will be setup for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund in hopes that attendees will contribute a small amount. In addition, the event will feature free appetizers, live music, free comic books, and other surprises. Barley’s will provide a cash bar, which will include a fine selection of their micro-brewed beers. “By the way, the Underground at Barley’s can accommodate around 150 people, but I’d still recommended that you drop by early because if past years are any indication, we just may have to turn people away if we reach capacity,” suggested Dara.

Columbus-based Ferret Press was founded in 2002 and is a publisher of fine small press comic books. It embraces the spirit of independent comics and self-publishing, and enjoys a close relationship with the writers and artists collaborative known as PANEL. For more information on “Unmasked,” as well as directions to Barley’s, please visit www.ferretpress.com

# # #


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  Posted by Tom on 11/18/2006 01:11:00 PM :

       It begins..



The decent toward debauchery that is OSU football. I take solace in the fact the season's almost over.


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  Posted by Dara on 11/18/2006 11:21:00 AM :

       The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: a trio of DC Comics reviews

I recently dropped a book, am on the verge of dropping another, and much to my surprise, have found an unlikely series that's fresh and intriguing.

The Good: Aquaman - Sword of Atlantis



I've never been a huge Aquaman fan, though I've also never been one of the "haters." I've always thought there's a great deal of potential in stories set in a seldom used backdrop: the earth's oceans. I mean, think of the possibilities. So when Kurt Busiek re-launched this title as part of DC's "One Year Later" event, complete with a new hero and a mysterious stranger who could (or maybe not) be the original Aquaman, I wasn't too interested.

Then I read an interview in which Busiek said that his approach to the book was going to be as an epic heroic fantasy, a la Lord of the Rings, set underwater. That hook got me to try the book, and I have to say it's been a great ride so far. Unlike so many other annoyingly decompressed book these days (see below,) the story is dense, layered, and full of action, character building, and mystery. The characters are diverse and different, and Busiek plays them off each other very well. And although Jackson Guice's art is a bit looser and sketchier than I prefer, it's still very evocative, and he has a knack for presenting the grand-scale shots called for by the script.

It was recently revealed that both Busiek and Guice are moving off the book. However, the new team of fantasy novelist Tad Williams and artist Shawn McManus sounds like a fantastic replacement to me. I will admit that I haven't read any of William's novels, but I think his background of sword-and-sorecery epics will mesh in perfectly with Busiek's fantasy take on this title. I definitely looking forward to this book each month.


The Bad: Hawkgirl



I tend to like the B and C-list characters more so than the big guns of the DC universe. I don't know, there's just something about characters who aren't near-gods that I think allows for more storytelling opportunities. And as goofy as Hawkman's costume (and convoluted history) is, he's still one of my favorite characters. I've been reading this new series since its inception.

DC's "One Year Later" approach to this book was to re-title it (from Hawkman,) and feature Kendra Saunders in the lead amidst the backdrop of the mystery of Hawkman's disappearance. The creative team? Walt Simonson on writing duty, with Howard Chaykin on art. Needless to say, I was completely jazzed. Hell, I think it would have been just as cool to announce Chaykin on writing, with Simonson on art.

Man, what a complete and utter letdown. This book has become the poster child for decompressed storytelling. You can literally read an issue in less than 3 minutes, and despite the pretty pictures and funky layouts, nothing happens! Simonson has taken a "story" that at most should have been done in 2 issues, and stretched it across 8 or 9. What's worse is that it's so painfully unoriginal and boring. What a sad product coming from one of the industry's legendary storytellers. Ugh.

I know I should have dropped this book by now, but I suppose its my one remaining "completist" vice. But if this dismal trend continues for a few more issues, the book's getting the ax.

The Ugly: Manhunter



Another street-level, low-power DC hero that I seem to be drawn towards. As with Hawkman, the Manhunter character has had an insanely complex and confusing history, with many different iterations and interpretations. This newest series introduces a female LA district attorney in the role, as written by Marc Andreyko, with art by Jesús Saíz.

The series started out strong and developed a cult following. Andreyko managed to take a rather unlikeable character (chain-smoking, divorced, caustic Kate Spencer) and made her into someone you actually come to care for. I became one of the hardcore followers of the book, promoting it to others as a smart, solid read. Later in the series, he did an "origin" issue spotlighting the costume itself which I thought was very clever and a treat for longtime DC readers. (SPOILER, skip to the next paragraph if you don't want to know: it turns out the costume itself is a Darkstars uniform, the gauntlets came from Batman-replacement due Azrael, and the power staff is from former manhunter, Mark Shaw.)

But any goodwill and following that Andreyko had built, he began to squander away as the book fell victim to the dreaded decompression disease. Once again, simple storylines stretched out painfully across multiple issues, pages featuring basic talking heads scenes would feature a mere 3 panels with a combined total of 10 words of dialogue, and the action became less frequent and less exciting. The final storyline about some bible-quoting serial killer with a super powered razor blade killing women was insipid and pointless.

And then there was the art. Saíz was a competent, if not dazzling artist. But when he left to become part of DC's various Infinte Crisis books, he was replaced by Javier Pina. Again, not a terrible artist, just spectacularly plain. If you need someone to illustrate a script and turn your word into pictures, Pina does a competent job. But if you need someone with a clear, personal style, or eye-catching renditions, or clever and innovatibe page layouts, look elsewhere.

Even though the book was recently "canceled" at issue #25, it's been announced that due to critical and reader acclaim, DC will give it another 6 issues to build its audience back up. Unfortunately, I will no longer be on board.


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Friday, November 17, 2006
 
  Posted by Dara on 11/17/2006 07:27:00 AM :

       "PANEL: Travel" ........ T-minus 8 days

"A Day in West Virginia" by Tony Goins and Dan Barlow.



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Thursday, November 16, 2006
 
  Posted by Dara on 11/16/2006 11:54:00 PM :

       "PANEL: Travel" ......... T-minus 9 days

The 8th volume of our anthology debuts at Mid-Ohio-Con.

"Fat Man Walking" by Craig Bogart



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Wednesday, November 15, 2006
 
  Posted by Dara on 11/15/2006 12:11:00 PM :

       Alan Moore on The Simpsons!

Apparently not breaking news, but I just ran across it. Alan Moore will be appearing as himself in a future episode of The Simpsons.
"Though it is presently unknown when the episode will air, Moore has already recorded his lines at Lodge Studios in Abington Square, Northhampton. Moore features in a sub-plot involving a newer and "cooler" comic store opening in Springfield, one so cool that it manages to get the "Watchmen" writer to make a rare personal appearance in the shop, threatening directly the dominance of the Android's Dungeon, the local comic store managed by the infamous Comic Book Guy."
The Simpsons hasn't been really funny or relevant for years now (with the exception of their Halloween specials,) but this episode I'm really looking forward to. The writers and producers are obviously huge comic book fans, and they do a great job of skewering the various idiosyncrasies of our little hobby.


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Tuesday, November 14, 2006
 
  Posted by Dara on 11/14/2006 11:26:00 PM :

       Herb Trimpe back on the MOC guest list

Hey, good news for Craig: according to the Mid-Ohio-Con website, Herb Trimpe will indeed be attending the show:
"Several weeks ago our friend Herb Trimpe sadly notified us that he was not going to be able to attend our show, due to a personal obligation. Needless to say, Mr. Trimpe did not want to disappoint his fans, and continued to work to resolve the situation. To everyone's delight, Herb Trimpe has just informed us that, barring severe weather conditions, he WILL be coming to Mid-Ohio-Con!"


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  Posted by Tony on 11/14/2006 09:26:00 AM :

       It's time to admit it ...

... Ra's al Ghul's plot in "Batman Begins" was ridiculous.

First off, Ra's runs this group of ninjas that apparently are in charge of destroying cities. Ninjas don't destroy cities. Ninjas slip unnoticed into your compound, silence the enemy, and vanish without a trace. To destroy a city, you need Columbus, Ohio's own Curtis LeMay.

Secondly, Ra's' initial plan to destroy Gotham City is to cause an economic depression. Let me get this straight: The city sucks, so we're going to make it suckier? In what way does that destroy the city? It's still there ... just worse.

Thirdly, Ra's' second plan is to put a fear toxin in Gotham's water supply. But the fear toxin doesn't affect you when you drink it, just when you breathe it. WTF? So now he has to steal a microwave device to vaporize the water. Not since the days of Adam West has Batman faced a plot so needlessly convoluted.

And finally -- How does the microwave bomb boil the water without affecting human beings? Humans are, like, 90 percent water, aren't they?

So yeah, gimme the 1989 Tim Burton "Batman" any day. In that one, the Joker was just going to gas Gotham City and be done with it.


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Monday, November 13, 2006
 
  Posted by Craig on 11/13/2006 11:25:00 AM :

       Long Time Ago Machine

Today we arrive at the intersection of Geek Street and Nerd Avenue, the comic book based on a science fiction movie or series; in this case, the mighty Star Wars series of the 1970’s. With only two hours of film to refer to, and without the lumbering behemoth of official canon dragging along behind, Marvel was handed a cast of characters whose personalities and relationships were still carved in very simple forms or left largely undefined. Rather than the stuffy, dogmatic structure of a modern day Dark Horse adaptation, these comics retained a free-wheeling sense of anything-can-happen. Sure, you knew reading it that Luke or Leia weren’t going to get killed, but your expectations of their behaviors weren’t defined by layers of continuity set forth in subsequent films or even in other media outside of the movies. Some purists might cast them aside as being irrelevant or outside of continuity; I find them more fun to read for that very reason.

Here’s my favorite cover from those early issues: from issue #2, we see a ‘roided up Luke Skywalker blasting away at an alien horde as he barks orders to Ben Kenobi while the old man waves his lightsabre over his head like a crazy man. That’s Star Wars done Marvel style! (I was amused to discover that that six-issue movie adaptation from 1977 has all the extra material Lucas added for his “special editions”, including a radically different depiction of Jabba the Hutt.)

Star Wars #11 was actually the first time I laid eyes on the characters in comics form (forget getting your hands on those first few issues back then; multiple printings were all snatched up), and boasts one of my childhood’s most memorable covers. I remember being disappointed that the sea monster actually has a small role to play in this particular issue; Luke Skywalker doesn’t appear to battle it until the last few pages, the majority of the book being taken up by Han Solo’s delicate negotiations with a rival space pirate who has kidnapped Princess Leia.

Leia herself reads more like Lois Lane in this comic; when Luke goes missing on a search for a new planet to use as a rebel base of operations, she takes off by herself to find him, only to become a hostage yet again. When Han Solo attempts to perpetuate a ruse to fool her captor, her character shows some Lois-like spunk as she turns the tables on him to cast the situation more to her liking:

While Han and Leia attempt to con their captor, Luke Skywalker has a more straightforward challenge in the form of a giant serpent attempting to devour his sinking space ship. A rather odd-looking C3PO and R2D2 follow him into an escape pod, and the issue closes with them looking from a distance at one of the goofiest looking sea monsters I’ve ever laid eyes on. Of course, I mean that in a good way.

I haven’t seen these books since I was seven years old, and just recently had a notion to track them down. I was surprised to learn that the majority of these were drawn by the mighty Carmine Infantino! I had always associated him with DC Comics, and I think he was the president of that company near the same time as these issues were published, so it’s unexpected to discover the occasional Marvel book he contributes to. Like Herb Trimpe and the Hulk, I regard Infantino as the only person who should be allowed to draw the Flash. My impressions were quite different when I first became aware of his work in the 1980’s; as previously mentioned, the photorealism of Byrne and Perez set the tone for my comic reading at the time, and I just didn’t like the quirky cartooning I saw in the Flash, which I was just picking up for the Firestorm back-up series anyway. Since then, however, I’ve grown rather fond of the sharp angles and jagged lines he uses. Looking at these Star Wars comics he drew, even the spaceships themselves have a feeling of energy in their structure. There isn’t a relaxed line on the page, and I love it.


Another revelation in the credits is the hand of Terry Austin on inks. Several of the panels of this issue have the same feel I remember from the earliest issues of the X-Men I ever read, and it seems I was giving John Byrne too much credit at the time for the striking visuals. It seems odd to see that atmosphere I’ve always associated with those X-Men books laid over Infantino’s pencils, but the results are definitely a pleasure to behold.

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  Posted by Dara on 11/13/2006 07:18:00 AM :

       Monday Morning "Guess the Artist"

Since last week Tim bitched about all the DC pages I’ve been posting, I’m going to feature a few Marvel pages for his benefit. This week’s page might be a tough one, though. Have at it:



(click image to make the sexy)

(previous weeks: 9/12/2005, 9/19/2005, 9/26/2005, 10/3/2005, 10/10/2005, 10/17/2005, 10/24/2005, 10/31/2005, 11/1/2005, 11/2/2005, 11/3/2005, 11/4/2005, 11/5/2005, 11/6/2005, 11/7/2005, 11/14/2005, 11/21/2005, 11/28/2005, 12/5/2005, 12/12/2005, 12/19/2005, 12/26/2005, 1/2/2006, 1/9/2006, 1/16/2006, 1/23/2006, 1/30/2006, 2/06/2006, 2/13/2006, 2/20/2006, 2/27/2006, 3/6/2006, 3/13/2006, 3/20/2006, 3/27/2006, 4/3/2006, 4/4/2006, 4/5/2006, 4/6/2006, 4/7/2006, 4/8/2006, 4/9/2006, 4/10/2006, 4/17/2006, 4/23/2006, 5/1/2006, 5/8/2006, 5/15/2006, 5/22/2006, 5/29/2006, 6/5/2006, 6/12/2006, 6/19/2006, 6/26/2006, 7/3/2006, 7/10/2006, 7/17/2006, 7/24/2006, 7/31/2006, 8/7/2006, 8/13/2006, 8/21/2006, 8/28/2006, 9/4/2006, 9/11/2006, 9/18/2006, 9/25/2006, 10/2/2006, 10/9/2006, 10/16/2006, 10/23/2006, 10/30/2006, 11/6/2006)

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Sunday, November 12, 2006
 
  Posted by Dara on 11/12/2006 09:43:00 PM :

       The night I saw Ty Pennington's buttcrack

No, this isn't some sort of perv fanfic.

So Wendy, Hanna, and I went out to dinner tonight at Betty's in the Short North. We were seated by the window and at some point during the night I saw Wendy staring out the window at a guy walking across the street to the restaurant. He came in quietly, knit cap covering his head, and took a corner seat at the bar. He was definitely being very inconspicuous.

"That's Ty Pennington," said Wendy.

At this point Hanna almost fell off her chair. I know it sounds weird, but aside from Rachel Ray and America's Funniest Home Videos, that little girl's favorite show is Extreme Home Makeover. We tried to talk her into going over and getting his autograph, but she was too shy.

As for me, I never did see his face so I'll trust Wendy that it was indeed him. Whenever I glanced over at the guy, all I could see was the top of his buttcrack peeking through his lowrider jeans.

According to The Dispatch, he's in town because "The TV show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition has picked the Whitehall home of former Marine Sgt. Jason L. Thomas, whose heroism is depicted in the movie World Trade Center, as its next project."

He was spotted once more by Wendy at Lemongrass on our way back. Alas, we did not stop in to ask for an autograph for fear of looking like stalkers.

But I'll always have my memory of his buttcrack.


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Saturday, November 11, 2006
 
  Posted by Dara on 11/11/2006 03:54:00 PM :

       SNAP! 2006 Pics

Even though this year's show was a bit slower than last year's inaugural show, I still had a good time at SNAP! Here are a few pictures I took at the small press comics con:

Tom Williams, fellow PANEL member of proprietor of Crash Comics, doing a sketch:



Tim McClurg, another fellow PANEL member, sketching away:



The ubiquitous Matt Feazell, king of the stick figure comics:



Tom and David Beyer Jr. yuk it up.



Ray Scott of Twisted gate Entertainment, along with his "bikini team" (er, it was too cold for bikinis)



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Friday, November 10, 2006
 
  Posted by Dara on 11/10/2006 10:33:00 AM :

       Save this date: pre-Mid Ohio Con party on the 24th!

Alas, as many of you know, the legendary "Great Ogre Gathering" parties sponsored by The Laughing Ogre are a thing of the past. But I couldn't stand the idea of not having a big food-and-drink bash prior to the con, so I'm organizing and sponsoring a party through my Ferret Press imprint, with help from the PANEL guys.

WHEN - Friday, November 24, 8 to midnight
WHERE - Barley's Brewing Company (across from the convention center)
WHAT - free appetizers, live music, free comics, raffles

Admission is free, but we ask that you make a small donation to the CBLDF. You're on your own for drinks, but Barley's has an awesome selection of their own micro-brewed beers.

More details and an official show poster coming soon...


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  Posted by Dara on 11/10/2006 10:28:00 AM :

       Dara cameo

Well, if all goes well and promises are kept, Tim Fischer will have a short backup story printed in an issue of an Image title (it's hush hush for now.) But look who makes a cameo in the story as a bartender:



And no, I didn't ask to be included. But I also didn't turn it down when he told me. 'Cause that's how I roll.


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Thursday, November 09, 2006
 
  Posted by Dara on 11/09/2006 06:34:00 PM :

       Art contest at Penciljack

Got this from the webmaster of Penciljack:
"Are You Up to the Challenge?

Artists, sharpen those pencils because Penciljack.com and Buddy Scalera are teaming up to have an art contest, and we want to see what you've got!

To celebrate the release of "Comic Artist’s Photo Reference: People & Poses" by Buddy Scalera, we’ve teamed up for our first ever “Comics from Photo Reference” contest. Two talented winners will get a free copy of the book and will be featured on penciljack.com"

Deadlines are Dec. 4 (for pin-ups/covers) and Dec. 11 (for sequential). More details here.


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  Posted by Tony on 11/09/2006 11:04:00 AM :

       what I was talking about


Absorbascon is doing a review of bizarre stuff from the old William Moulton Marston Wonder Woman. I've always heard that series was kinky, but I never quite believed it until now.

Absorbascon


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Wednesday, November 08, 2006
 
  Posted by Craig on 11/08/2006 09:40:00 AM :

       Closure

http://www.legacy.com/dispatch/Obituaries.asp?Page=Lifestory&PersonId=19879431

Normal levity will resume next week.


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Monday, November 06, 2006
 
  Posted by Tom on 11/06/2006 11:01:00 PM :

       Not Freudian at all..



Hmmmm. Aqua's ramming (or 'plunging) a phalus like object into a deep wet hole. Hmmmmm.


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  Posted by Dara on 11/06/2006 10:48:00 AM :

       Monday Morning "Guess the Artist"

This week: DC's big guns. Guess away...



(click image to World's Finest-size)

(previous weeks: 9/12/2005, 9/19/2005, 9/26/2005, 10/3/2005, 10/10/2005, 10/17/2005, 10/24/2005, 10/31/2005, 11/1/2005, 11/2/2005, 11/3/2005, 11/4/2005, 11/5/2005, 11/6/2005, 11/7/2005, 11/14/2005, 11/21/2005, 11/28/2005, 12/5/2005, 12/12/2005, 12/19/2005, 12/26/2005, 1/2/2006, 1/9/2006, 1/16/2006, 1/23/2006, 1/30/2006, 2/06/2006, 2/13/2006, 2/20/2006, 2/27/2006, 3/6/2006, 3/13/2006, 3/20/2006, 3/27/2006, 4/3/2006, 4/4/2006, 4/5/2006, 4/6/2006, 4/7/2006, 4/8/2006, 4/9/2006, 4/10/2006, 4/17/2006, 4/23/2006, 5/1/2006, 5/8/2006, 5/15/2006, 5/22/2006, 5/29/2006, 6/5/2006, 6/12/2006, 6/19/2006, 6/26/2006, 7/3/2006, 7/10/2006, 7/17/2006, 7/24/2006, 7/31/2006, 8/7/2006, 8/13/2006, 8/21/2006, 8/28/2006, 9/4/2006, 9/11/2006, 9/18/2006, 9/25/2006, 10/2/2006, 10/9/2006, 10/16/2006, 10/23/2006, 10/30/2006)

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Friday, November 03, 2006
 
  Posted by Tom on 11/03/2006 11:13:00 PM :

       For real this time!



SPB:Rise! will also be debuting at the SNAP! show (or the Mid-Ohio depending on which you hit first). Collecting the first 25 installments of the webcomic in full color. Plus some added bonus stuff. Retailing at $3.50.

I honor all retailer discounts (on orders of more than one book). Once I figure out the paypal button mess you'll be able to order it from my site as well. A downloadable orderform is available too. You can preview the comic on WCN and the Sundays page on my site.


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  Posted by T.McClurg on 11/03/2006 12:22:00 PM :

       Get them gloves up, boy!

Mini Ring King is coming to SNAP! Sean and I will be pushing these for a sell out..so check us out. Free low blow or half nelson with every book. That's a promise, BROTHER!



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  Posted by Tony on 11/03/2006 11:46:00 AM :

       Finally – we’re in style


Fashionistas are all agog about the latest outerwear must-have for fall – capes!

Presented for your ahh-proval are two recent runway raves from Ralph Lauren and Valentino! They may be more Florence Nightingale than Black Canary, but they’ve still got my fashion-forward heart crying up, up and away!

Style.com



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