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.
How do Batman and Black Lightning handle high gas prices?
The tale is told in Brave and the Bold No. 163, from June 1980, with Paul Kupperberg and Dick Giordano doing the honors. In it, a well-organized gang is hijacking oil trucks in both Gotham City and Metropolis, driving up the cost of gas.
Batman handles the Gotham end, because helping soccer moms fill up their 1979 Aspen Wagons is more important than the Joker's latest plan to poison the city's Harvey Wallbangers. This not being a job for Superman, it falls to Black Lightning to work the Metropolis angle.
We open with Batman foiling one heist, but missing several others. Black Lightning fares worse: He bursts into the cab of a moving oil tanker, has fisticuffs with three armed hoods, and may get an old lady killed.
What happens to the old lady? I don't know, Kupperberg and Giordano never say. In addition to that mistake, Black Lightning also completely forgets he can throw lightning bolts for the entire issue. Whether that's Kupperberg's oversight or Giordano's, I can't tell.
Anyway, after some detective work, both heroes track the hijacked oil to a facility midway between Gotham and Metropolis. They throw down with an indeterminate number of militiamen, who are commanded by a former army general who's also a Gotham City senator.
The general/senator is stockpiling gasoline for one of those insane, implausible plots that only make sense to comic-book supervillains:
With two heroes and a millions of gasoline around, you'd expect such a story to end with a massive explosion. They just couldn't afford such a thing back in 1980, though. As Black Lightning explains:
Over $1 a gallon? Man, times were tough back then.
A few months ago, Beaucoup Kevin wondered aloud why so many conservatives are Star Trek fans, when the show clearly depicts a multiracial cast existing in harmony in a near-socialistic universe.
My first answer was a little flippant: “Because quantum torpedoes make things blow up real good.” My second answer had a bit more thought: “Star Trek presents the fantasy that a military commander, wielding a mighty starship, can be the ultimate force for good in the universe.”
Think about it: Kirk could usually solve the most ingrained problems with a good bluff and a few phaser shots. The Federation’s civilian leadership was usually depicted as incompetent, to the extent that it existed at all. Kirk was basically David Petraeus at warp speed.
Consider two examples from the Original Series:
The Apple: The Enterprise finds a race of humanoids kept in a childlike state by a computer tyrant named Vaal. The Enterprise destroys the computer with a heavy phaser barrage, leaving the natives to discover self-determination for the first time.
A Taste of Armageddon: The Enterprise finds two planets who have been at war for centuries. But they now handle the war by computer, with the “casualties” reporting dutifully to disintegration booths to commit suicide. Kirk exposes the planets to real warfare, with the prospect of real destruction, and they are forced to find a way to live together.
Those two episodes contain about 75 percent of the Bush Doctrine. Maybe we can run the ol' corbomite bluff on the Sunnis and Shiites.
I’m in a bit of a quandary. I have my eyes on a rather pricey item for an Xmas gift for the missus; being a stay at home dad, however, I’d be buying it with her own money (gosh, dear, it was nothing, really). Also, she’d notice a certain amount of currency disappear from our bank account when I get it. So, I’m turning to eBay for a solution.
I’ve listed original comic character commissions here. Low low prices for single figure portraits, a few bucks more for multiple figures. For readers of this blog who might follow The Ineffables (all five of you), anyone requesting an Abraham Lincoln will get a giant robot thrown into the composition free of charge. Who else offers that?
Pictured: my ode to the Adam West Batman, “Some Days You Just Can’t Get Rid of a Bomb.” (Alas, my rope ladder/shark attack homage won't fit on the scanner.)
I’ve mentioned before that while I have a ton of 70’s Kirby in my long boxes, I’m hesitant to drag them out here because I can only sound like a fool trying to add to the volumes that have already been said about Jack Kirby. I can’t leave this series out of my October posts, however, because it’s my personal favorite of Kirby’s works and also the place where I first encountered the King.
This is another example of Kirby trying to expand the subject matter of comics beyond superhero fare into the back half of his career. With just a couple exceptions, a Jack Kirby comic was a fantasy or sci-fi affair rather than the chronicles of a costumed crime fighter. Most series’ took a cosmic turn, filled with ginormous space gods and bizarre alien gadgets. Even the New Gods, which had mythic overtones, was replete with Mother Boxes and Boom Tubes and Mobius Chairs and other technologies, far removed from the magical creatures the title of the series might have implied. Usually, if Jack Kirby was drawing a crumbling ruin, it was a fortress left in prehistory by alien visitors.
Kirby hauled out a somewhat different visual vocabulary for the Demon. A Kirby monster is a Kirby monster, but transplanting the creatures to a shadowy woods with an ancient stone fortress and witches dancing around a bonfire under the stars is quite a bit different from most of Jack’s back catalog. Jason Blood’s cast of supporting characters lurked in quiet studies leafing through crumbling manuscripts and Jack made it as compelling as Reed Richards hanging out by the Negative Zone portal.
This second issue is the conclusion of the Demon’s origin story, showing us the pawn of Merlin who had a human soul grafted to it (literally, a demon possessed by a man) sent out into the world with no inkling of his true nature to battle evil when the need arose. Ancient enemy Morgaine Le Fey tries to raid Merlin’s tomb in Castle Branek only to wake the cackling guard dog named Etrigan which the wizard keeps in his employ. Later, Jason Blood and another of those law officers from a remote European village (still on horseback and sporting only one arm in which to carry his kerosene lantern into the castle’s darkened corridors) take off to the woods to track down Le Fey and her minions before they can conclude their nights deviltry.
These panels which conclude the climactic fight scene slay me: they start as a typical bombastic Kirby fight scene before going horribly, horribly wrong at the end. As if the title of the book wasn’t going to scare some potential readers away, Jack has to go and turn up the brutality in the middle of his funny book.
DC Universe: Last Will and Testament is one of the most suspenseful comics I've ever read.
Yeah, that's the one where Geo-Force decides to take on Deathstroke at the end of the world, written by Brad Meltzer. Of course it's got some ridiculous portions*. But Meltzer found the one thing, literarily speaking, that Geo-Force can do better than anyone else.
He can die.
Usually, your knowledge of comic book tropes inhibits your sense of suspense -- you can be reasonably sure Batman will not end up RIP. But for a C-lister like Geo-Force, your knowledge of kayfabe turns it into a genuine page-turner.
What kind of character shields would a guy like Geo-Force have? Is Geo-Force more of a Steel II, or more of a Red Tornado? Aren't Looker and Technocrat both dead? With Geoff Johns on the loose, no C-lister is safe.
Also in this book, Meltzer does a great job of setting up Geo-Force's internal conflict. Not only is he a C-lister, he's the nominal head of a C-list country. Markovia's been conquered and reconquered for centuries. And being in the DCU, there are individual people more powerful than his country. And then there's that deal with his half-sister ...
You'll notice I titled this piece "Leave Geo-Force Alone." Expect a series of posts pointing out the hidden strengths of the DCU's most-maligned tinpot superhero.
* Why wouldn't Geo-Force know what his own name means in his own native language? What's that bit where GF tries to pull out the sword? Why would Rocky Davis be the confessor for the DCU -- and why would he have a literal confession booth?
"The Mid-Ohio-Con 2008 Charity Auction is now live on eBay. The auction features original art drawn by many of our guests at Mid-Ohio-Con 2008, as well as a number of other special contributions. All proceeds from the Mid-Ohio-2008 charity auction will be donated to The Hero Initiative and The Make-A-Wish Foundation."
MCCAIN: OK, seriously. Why does he have so many henchmen? I'm a level 72 ranger and he's only a level 8 paladin.
OBAMA: Well, if you'd bought the Grassroots Organizing and Oratory/Colgate Smile proficiencies you could min max it so that you...
MCCAIN: Why is he even IN this campaign? I thought this was supposed to be a high level party.
OBAMA: Well, maybe some people got tired of the grim and squinty "Matterhorn, son of Marathon" shtick you keep doing. Dude, could you be any less original?
MCCAIN: Oh my god, I did not leave my left nut in a tiger cage in the Tomb of Horrors to spend my Friday nights mopping up after the new kid.
OBAMA: "My friends, I am a totally unoriginal grizzled character class stereotype. I should lead the party because I have more testicular damage than that one."
MCCAIN: Yeah, well, you pal around with dark elves.
OBAMA: OH NO YOU DIDN'T.
MCCAIN: Whatever, so's your mom.
OBAMA: So's your FACE.
MCCAIN: So's your Mom's face!"
And next, here's a particularly funny product description (for a heater, of all things) from the ever-clever online retail site woot.com a few weeks ago:
"Paris London, voter: My question is about the economy. Oh my God, what the hell are we going to do? What the hell, man? Somebody, for God’s sake, do something!
Senator Mac: My friend, a lot of Americans are angry, confused, and fearful right now. I should know. I’m one of them. People are hurting, and not just those people who deserve it. Why, just the other day, I paid $6.99 for the very same buffet I used to pay $6.49 for. And that was the early bird special. It’s clear that something, anything, needs to be done, no matter how feckless or ineffectual. So I am instructing my subordinates to suspend my campaign until the next question in this debate. It’s time to get serious, my friends.
Senator Bam: While they’ve been living the high life on Wall Street, all the lowlifes are living on Main Street. Things have been positively 4th Street, but a nightmare on Elm Street. We’ve seen 221 Baker Street turn into 21 Jump Street. But look: the thing we have to do is cut the strings on these golden parachutes. I pledge to you that within two years, I will eliminate not only golden parachutes, but every color of parachute besides the red, white, and blue."
The new Hulk DVD comes with a coupon for 20% off a subscription to Marvel’s online comic service. Tempted by the offer, I revisited the site and sampled some of their free comics… and still found them to be awful. Garish recoloring that renders linework insubstantial, a collection that is a mile wide but only an inch deep with many series’ offering only one issue or incomplete runs of a collection you‘re only borrowing… I’ll stick with my DVD-Roms and lament the day Marvel pulled the plug on the complete series scans they once offered.
But hey, what’s this? Marvel might be guarding their back catalog too closely, but that doesn’t mean that manufacturer Gitcorp can’t get licenses elsewhere. Lo and behold, I’ve just cracked open my complete DVD-Rom collection of Star Trek comics-- every comic ever published by Gold Key, Marvel, Power Records (three by Neal Adams!), DC Comics, Malibu, etc., including every series from Kirk’s to Janeway‘s. As always regarding this format, I can’t recommend them enough. Okay, I haven’t been tempted by the Archie and Jughead collections, but there’s hope for future projects of this nature. If they ever put out a set with Neal Adams and Jim Aparo Batman comics or a complete Justice League of America, I’d have my reading time booked up for the next twenty years.
I could stare at the old Gold Key series covers for hours:
Johanna Draper Carlson reviews PANEL: Work, the 11th volume of our anthology series, over at her Comics Worth Reading blog. Unfortunately, it's not all that positive.
"Unfortunately, the package is the most satisfying part of the assemblage. I can appreciate the imagination that goes into the various comic attempts, but as intellectually interesting as some of them are, none of the stories or art will stay with me."
For me, Moore's kind of a difficult figure. On the one hand, I think the idolization of pimps is one of the most corrosive aspects of pop culture. On the other hand, he pulled it off with such good humor that it's hard to hate.
Plus, he killed Monday, whooped Tuesday and put Wednesday in the hospital. Then he called up Thursday to tell Friday not to hurry Saturday and Sunday.
Don't know what I'm talking about? You better ask somebody. Or at least click on the link above and check out some of the rhymes.
October's theme continues: The Frankenstein Monster #6
I first became familiar with Mike Ploog’s work in books like Ghost Rider, Werewolf By Night, and Man-Thing. He was Marvel’s go-to guy for all the oddball characters in the early 70’s; I wouldn’t equate his style as typical of a horror comic, but rather cast his brand of goofy caricature (a term I use lovingly) as fitting a line of books that had a certain pervasive weirdness to them; anyone so inclined can scroll down to the very first WBM post to see examples from a favorite old Man-Thing.
So I was a bit surprised when I started tracking down Marvel’s old Frankenstein series and saw the completely different tone on these pages. Heavier, more detailed, brooding, yet retaining his sense of the bizarre. Either he was simply at a different point in his career when working in this series (which predates his tenure in Man-Thing by several months), or perhaps he had a fondness for this material which inspired him to put a little more love into the book.
The story: Frankenstein’s monster, brought back from the frozen north into modern times, is stalking Europe to find the last remaining descendants of his creator’s family to complete the mission of revenge he started in Mary Shelly’s book. He comes to the crumbling ruins of Castle Frankenstein at the same time as a local law officer (almost four decades ago, it seemed reasonable that the constabulary in remote European villages would still be on horseback, wearing a sword and scabbard; not sure how that would fly today) who is investigating the disappearance of a number of convicts from the town jail. The villager recognizes the legendary creature and assumes he is responsible for the disappearances. Frank tries to reason with him, then beats him senseless before moving on to the castle.
Lots of scans this week; there were just too many great looking panels to choose from. Here’s Frank exploring his old homestead, where he finds a bunch of twisted mutants lowering a victim into a pit. A fight breaks out when they see him, and during the melee he gets a view into the hole where a giant spider is spinning a web around its latest offering. I love writer Gary Friedrich’s contribution to these panels: he employs an old device many readers may not be familiar with, called a “caption”, which allows the writer to add a bit of a literary touch to the narrative rather than simply scripting a movie storyboard. I won’t say one method is more or less valid than the other, but the old school way certainly adds a lot more flavor to the story and makes for a much denser read. Check out the panels below, and the text that had me checking to make sure I wasn’t holding an old EC comic in my hands.
Frank gets chained to a wall before the villain appears and explains his master plan. His kidnapped felons have their wills drained by giant spider venom before joining his army of slaves, a fate planned for our, er, hero. He is then left alone to await his execution, the spider lurking in the pit before him. He tries pulling loose some of the masonry he is chained to only to release a torrent of water from an underground source behind the wall; he has a choice of facing the giant spider or drowning. As the water rushes in from the small breach he has made, the constable he met earlier enters the chamber, followed soon by the villain whom he recognizes as his own boss (sheriff? Burgermeister? Whatever). The two men engage in swordplay as Frank watches, realizing that the level of the water draining into the pit has risen, allowing the spider to float up to the top and escape the pit!
Um, yeah, there are a couple problems with that last plot point. Instead, enjoy this killer panel of Frank saying “F*#k it, I’m getting out of here!” don’t know why I like it so much, but Ploog hit this one out of the park.
Constable escapes, villain drowns, and Frank wrestles a giant spider while the castle crumbles around them. Good stuff. Even better: as the ancestral home of the Frankenstein family collapses, Friedrich manages to insert the word “paroxysm” into the script. That word appears so much in 1970s Marvels it must have been code for something; perhaps the centerpiece of some form of drinking game devised by the writers or somesuch.
Tony and I won't be there but a lot of my cohorts in the Chemistry Set will. Join them at Jim Hanley's for a signing of NO FORMULA: Stories from the Chemistry Set. Jim Dougan, Kevin Colden, Elizabeth Genco, Rami Efal, Michel Fiffe, and Vito Delsante will all be on hand. Don't know how many folks reading this live in New York City but there you go.
The new President should learn from the example of Batman, rather than following the example of the Best and the Brightest in Vietnam as has the Bush Jr. team. The Johnson Administration were slow and reactive, always seeking to keep their options open (the very opposite of boldness), as have Paulson and Bernanke (see herefor a discussion of this). Batman goes into a situation not with one plan, but with 12. A wide range of scenarios are considered and planned for. In the real world the actuals will be none of these, but the act of full-spectrum planning will better prepare them to react. Even more important, preparing for 12 scenarios forces openness to the possibility of extreme outcomes — a key to achieving a rapid OODA look in the face of unexpected events.
I am personally hoping we get the Hank Paulsen of Zur-En-Arrh.
First, I apologize for posting. I am struggling through some very trying times and I had asked Dara to remove my name from the list of blog contributors on the left. Dara, I don't mean to be a weasel, I just really wanted to share this.
Jacob Covey at Fantagraphics writes a lengthy but fascinating post about his dislike of digital giclee prints. I have always disliked these as well, and been endlessly suspicious of the digital production of art and comics and zines, much preferring the laborious handmade affairs with all of their irregularities and imperfections. Covey, however, manages to articulate these things far better than I was ever able to, and this post is worthwhile reading.
An excerpt I found especially effective: Admittedly, I'm making a soapbox stand with this show by insisting on prints that have had the human hand involved somehow and by denouncing digital prints which are exactly what they sound like: Prints done on an inkjet printer. These prints are also called "giclée" by those who are understandably embarrassed by all the coldness that is connoted by the term "digital print." Honestly, the only reason to call digital prints giclée is to distract from their origin and to imply repsectability. What is a screenprint? A print made through (traditionally silk) screens. What is a giclée? I have no idea. This great article on the etymology tells me it's a French term that could mean the following: "a spurt of blood, a burst of machine-gun fire, a splashing with mud." So the term is awesomely poetic but still only poetic propoganda.
And this: I think it's crucial that the buyer is aware that the [giclee] print is a product that can be replicated at a moment's notice (just send it to print on the computer) and reproduced infinitely, without variation. And while these prints can be promised as limited editions this is still essentially meaningless inasmuch as a person could scan and print a virtually identical giclée...and even as a theoretical practice I find it cheap and subversive to the model that artists rely upon in valuing reproduction editions.
None of this would be an issue if giclees weren't almost ludicrously expensive. For example, I know Tom Williams frequently sells high quality digital color reproductions of his art at shows. But these (I think) are offset prints and Tom sells them for a reasonable $10 to $15, not the $200 to $300 that a giclee costs. Additionally, as far as I know, Tom isn't billing these things as limited edition high quality prints. He's simply giving people an opportunity to own some color Tom Williams art at a pretty reasonable price, and I can respect that.
Anyway, I have long benefited from the thoughts, experience, and collective wisdom of the might Panel collective, so I'd really like to hear what you think of this issue.
I know half of you are watching it tonight: The finale of Project Runway.
Who's got who? Is Leanna a lock? What's the point spread on Kenley? What's the over/under on Blayne's skin tone? Will Suede get one more chance to refer to Suedeself in the third person? I'd put a Lincoln on Korto to win if somebody gave me 3-2 odds.
If you want to spoil the Bryant Park collections, check out this blog, which seems to be aimed at people who are very happy. I didn't look at them, but I did have a gander at the decoy collections from Joe, Suede and Jerell.
Jerell was kind of a disappointment, wasn't he? He won the last challenge, but his final collection kind of shit the bed. My theory is that had too much time to work on his collection. He had time to over-noodle it.
I believe everyone's entitled to one reality TV guilty pleasure, and up until recently mine was always America's Next Top Model. I'm enjoying Project Runway a lot more. It's nice seeing people who actually kind of know what they're doing, and who are actually learning things. Plus, I enjoy seeing the creative process from a field outside of writing and drawing.
Sometime in the early 1970’s, someone woke up and realized that the reality of living in a world under the threat of a cold war and arms race was a bit more terrifying than the fanciful creatures populating the old Universal monster movies and decided to relax the restrictions of the comics code a bit. Roy Thomas had just taken over the editorial reins from Stan and was launching “Marvel Phase 2”, a huge wave of new titles and characters into which he was suddenly able to incorporate a bunch of non-superhero, horror themed books with darker, weirder plots and extended storylines that would appeal to a far broader audience than the superhero fare. A whole range of characters who were technically villains got their own titles that had classic runs lasting for years once Marvel was able to roll out the vampires, werewolves, and, er, “Zuvembies.”
The most prominent of which was Vlad the Impaler, better known as Dracula. Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan became the House of Ideas’ answer to Wein & Wrightson, dropping their title character’s gothic horror themes into the modern sensibilities of the late twentieth century. The result was about a gazillion issues (including magazine spin-offs and specials) devoted to a super-powered mass murderer who was always one step ahead of the plucky band of vigilantes on his tail.
My personal favorite, though, is Werewolf By Night, both for those early issues drawn by Mike Ploog (more on him next week) and for the outrageous and bizarre avenues his adventures traveled. For this week’s October monster-themed post, I’ll bring out the best of both these worlds, a Dracula/Werewolf showdown drawn by the incomparable Gene Colan.
As a crossover between the two series, the story in this issue focuses more on Jack Russell, the young man living under the Werewolf’s curse. He and his psychic girlfriend Topaz have come to Transylvania to research his family tree in hopes of learning more about the lycanthropic curse that has plagued his family for generations. Shortly after their arrival, the European equivalent of the “dumb hillbilly” makes a less-than-subtle play for Topaz-- by bringing a knife along with him when he crashes their room at the local inn. Regrettably, he stumbles in after the moon is risen and is greeted by Jack in his hairy guard dog persona.
A brief tussle leads to the stalker getting murdered in the street by the werewolf, which draws the attention of the neighborhood Vampire. The werewolf is less successful in fighting Dracula, but Topaz’ own sorcerous powers drive the Count away. The following day, Jack and Topaz are investigating the Russoff family home when they discover his father had been spying on Castle Dracula.
About Gene Colan: his painterly style captures a hell of a lot of energy; I’d compare his work to Carmine Infantino’s, though the actual line work is galaxies apart. Add to that the somber mood he drapes over the page with his use of shadow (abetted here by the great Tom Palmer on inks) and he stands as a horror artist equal to Wrightson. In addition, I’d place him second only to John Buscema for drawing women. The contemporary artists who devote so much page space to cranking out soft porn featuring anatomically twisted fetishist freaks could learn volumes just from the legs below the line of that coat in the panel below.
Moving on, before I start to sound like Jeff from “Coupling”…
Drac spots the couple approaching and swoops down to capture Topaz so he can learn about her strange powers. Jack follows, but the moon has risen by the time he arrives, so it is the Werewolf who once more confronts the vampire. The furry gets his head handed to him again, Dracula strikes down Topaz before she can use her powers, and the issue ends on a cliffhanger as Dracula decides to see what werewolf blood tastes like. The concluding chapter was to be found on the same spinner rack in the form of the latest issue of Werewolf By Night.
Brian Wood's signing at the Laughing Ogre today from 3 till 7. Out of all the Ogre signings this year is the one I've been looking forward to the most. Aaron's work I'm barely familiar with. Loved the Other Side. Don't know who Daniel Way is. No slight on him personally but *I don't read a lot of the mainstream cape books. Especially Marvel (save the Omega series this year).
I don't really know what I'll be walking into. Admittedly I've been looking for the Vertigo edition of Demo on the cheap. (I'm keen on the larger format) That mission was full of fail. Regardless, it will be cool to meet Wood, so no worries. I hope they keep the signing events happening.
*Lately I've been reading John Pham's Sublife which seems to be yet another wanked out Ware pastiche. If you want to get a book by Fantagraphics, this is the apparent blueprint pitch these days, as almost half their output follows this outline. Create depressing, quirky, 40 year old losers who masturbates, pines for the good old days, and commits suicide off camera in carefully laid out diagram like fashion. Throw in a hint of pedophillia and you've got a winner. Slap a random ship date on it as long as you have it in time for SPX or Christmas. I fall for the slickly put together pakaging every time. Four color with spot metallic. They need to cut this crap out and translate more European comics by Gipi or Baru. Better yet a decent collection of translated Corto Maltese.
I was all set to roll out a monster themed month for October, and even had my scans of Saga Of The Swamp Thing #1 ready to go. I figured everybody would be well acquainted with the Alan Moore and Wein/Wrightson models, but those plucky issues sandwiched between the iconic runs might deserve a little attention. I was going to go so far as to name that issue as a key moment in the reversal of DC’s fortunes, when the young upstart Marvel had paid the price of winning the battle by becoming the new status quo; when DC started putting out some great books (that title, along with a revived Firestorm and Teen Titans, for starters) while all but one Marvel book began the slide into mediocrity (c’mon, it’s Craig talking about 1982, you know which one I mean).
But then I found myself sitting behind the table at MidOhio with my face in my hands, shocked speechless when I heard someone say they didn’t know any books Berni Wrightson had worked on (I won’t point the finger at Tony-- oops). Obviously I have to dip a little further back when I kicked off Monster Month here in the Way Back Machine, because sometimes those who forget the past-- won’t ever see it again.
Alan Moore’s run with the character was absolutely friggin’ brilliant, and killed the character for any writer who might try to follow when he turned the shambling swamp monster into an all-powerful deity. Worse, he removed the character from his gothic horror roots and dropped it into a science fiction setting by the time his run on the series was through. No more gloomy castles, monsters lurking in darkened corridors, mad scientists conducting gruesome experiments… That’s the kind of horror story I’d like to see but doesn’t pop up very often anymore, and which Len Wein and Berni Wrightson perfected over the first ten issues of the original Swamp Thing series.
Issue number eight of the series is a Lovecraftian bonanza of insular villages, pitchfork-and-torch bearing mobs, and creepy netherworld creatures. Our antihero protagonist tries to rescue an old man from being mauled by a bear and is rewarded by hearing his dying tale of the curse his progenitor’s dabbling with sorcery visited upon a nearby town. Taking the old man home for burial, he finds the villagers oddly welcoming despite his monstrous appearance, and suspiciously questions their collective behavior. When a child seems to go missing he takes the lead in the search for the boy-- ironically spearheading the torch bearing mob-- not realizing the entire scenario has been staged by the villagers who for years have been compelled to feed visitors to a demonic creature living in the mine tunnels beneath their feet.
How ‘bout that gorgeous artwork; so creepy, so atmospheric. Wein could have dropped all the adjectives from his script and the book would still bring the goosebumps. Damn, I miss the gothic horror. I wish DC would take advantage of part of Moore’s premise for the character and “retire” the Alec Holland Swamp Thing, precipitating the creation of a new monster who doesn’t know he has the power to move planets (hey, maybe he isn’t even an elemental?) and plunge him into these kinds of creepy, old-school monster horror stories. I can dream.
I’m going to say it was a pretty low-key show. I know we had a lower turnout at Unmasked before the show, and it seemed a little quieter during the show. I hope that’s a one-time drop caused by the change in date. I do think early October is a better time for the show.
Trends? I saw fewer bootleg video booths, and maybe more dollar bins. I doubt I saw more than a half-dozen stormtroopers, and I’d say cosplayers were down in general. There were definitely more little kids … or maybe I was just more aware of them, sitting with Craig, Brent and Dara. I’d say the percentage of really overweight people held about steady.
Some folks were definitely missed. I’m talking about Kish, McClurg, Brewer and all the other Panelists; Horror Movie Ray, and the Big Bald Kid.
Anyway … on with the awards.
James Dobson Award in the Field of Family Values: Mid-Ohio Con, moving to a more family-friendly Oct. 4-5 from than the customary Thanksgiving Weekend, giving us more time to be with our families.
There Will Be A Witness Award: Allen Freeman, recording the proceedings for posterity as usual.
The Legend Begins Award: Tony Goins, debuting Downs with two books. I sold five issues of Downs to people I didn’t already know, which is encouraging.
Lights, Camera, Action Award: The folks at the Columbus Indie Club, which hosted the first Mid-Ohio Con festival of local indie films.
I’m Henry the Eighth I Am Award: The Batmobile photo booth, which played the Batman theme nonstop both days.
Why So Serious? Award: The dude dressed as the Heath Ledger Joker … in a nurse’s uniform. No word on whether he made his “pencil” disappear.
Uh Thanks You Shouldn’t Have: The dude who had me sign a copy of Downs No. 1 to his mother.
Quick Draw McGraw award: Brent Bowman, who had a great con by anyone's standards just from cranking out caricatures.
Going The Distance award: The guy in the Doc Ock costume who went to the length of getting the bowl haircut for his, er, craft.
Going The Distance award, pt. 2: Chris Claremont, who signed away all day Saturday while his line never dwindled. I got to his table at 5:50 and he looked exhausted, but was good natured and stuck it out the whole time for the fans.
Heck Yeah It’s Geo-Force Award: Alan Davis, just for being there.
All In Color For A Dime award: Bell, Book & Comic. 'Nuff said. Griot Award: Craig Bogart, patiently explaining to me how comics worked back in ye olden tymes.
Last Man Standing Award: Tom Williams, the last person in his row to pack up on Sunday.
Who Was That Masked Man? Award: The “Who Wants to be a Superhero” folks, who were dressed as their own original superheroes.
Blowing Off Steam Award: Jason Mewes, who entertained his line with a line of snappy patter.
Everybody Poops Award: goes to the guy next to me who proclaimed, to everyone in earshot, his phobia of crapping in public bathrooms, during one of many lulls at Mid Ohio Con.
Everybody Poops Award, pt. 2: The guy in the restroom who kept handing out paper towels to people. Um yea.
The Marvel Liquidation Sale Award: seems I ran across more than one booth that had half off graphic novels and trades. Only problem was it was almost all recent Marvel crap. The only saving grace were the $5 Essential Marvels. I have never seen so many $1 bins in all my life. Half off Silver Age?? If only I did better table, I would have ran amok through the $1 bins.
What is F!?k is with all the Furries? Award: There was a freaking booth selling ears and tails. They were swarming my area. Still better than two years ago where it seemed half the dealers were selling t-shirts.
That's right! The show begins today. New time. New spot within the convention center. Go to Mid Ohio Con for more information. Including a seating chart so you can find all of us. Andy, Dara and myself have our own spots. Craig, Tony G. and Brent are running a bearded creator booth. Andy will be real easy to spot as he's seated next to Joe Kubert. I'm pretty thrilled that I get to finally meet Joe.
Thanks to everyone that came out for Unmasked. We debut Panel: 12 & Under.
Keep choppin' that wood Craig. Damn, I'm a tub. Cardio. Somethin'. Geesh. Shooting game from an airplane doesn't burn off the calories like it used to.
Come on out tonight for our pre-show party at Barley's. (Check out the fancy new 'street view' to get a shot of the bar) Free music and comics, cash bar and our second annual Live Art Throwdown for charity! Things kick off at 8pm. Mingle with fans and pros alike. Not going to the con? Come on out anyway. We promise *we won't bite. See you there.