San Diego has always been a hotbed in the world of comic books.
San Diego’s Gaslamp District has been home to Comic Con International San Diego for the last 50 years.
Homage Comics and Wildtsorm Studios, helmed by Image Comics founder Jim Lee, were based out of La Jolla, producing some of the biggest names in the industry today: J. Scott Campbell, Ryan Benjamin, Marc Silvestri, Whilce Portacio and Brett Booth.
IDW Publishing, known for publishing modern day “G.I. Joe” and “Transformers” stories is nestled into San Diego’s Liberty Station bay front.
Comic Con International is slated to open the Comic Con Museum in Balboa Park, which will celebrate the history of comic books with a collection of exhibits reaching all the way back into the Golden Age of comic book history.
That being said, Convention.Life is always happy to see new things in the world of comic books sprouting out of San Diego.
The weekend of March 9, 2019 was jam packed full of comic book goodness, with the seventh-annual San Diego Comic Fest being held at The Four Points by Sheraton in Kearny Mesa, and the second-annual San Diego Rocket Con being held at The Scottish Rite Center in Mission Valley!
San Diego Comic Fest was started in 2012, as a counter point to the grandeur and sometimes overwhelming size of San Diego Comic Con. A group of comic book fans and veterans decided that they needed to start a convention reminiscent of the earlier, smaller versions of Comic Con. In its seventh year, the idea is holding strong.
As I walked in to the lobby of the Four Points by Sheraton, I was immediately greeted by a large-scale reproduction of an iconic image from the 1902 film “Le Voyage Dans La Lun (A Trip to the Moon)”, by Georges Meilies. They would be screening the film that weekend. With most conventions screening anime all hours of the day and into the late night, it’s refreshing to see something unique like this.
Entering the exhibit hall, it felt like time stopped at the start of the Modern Age of comic books, and I had been transported back a few decades before variant-lenticular-chrome-sketch covers were ever invented.
Racks of comic books blocked the windows, filled with images by Jack “The King” Kirby, John Romita Sr., Neal Adams and Steve Ditko, among other legends.
Toys, that were originally meant to be played with, and have now become collectibles, were stacked on tables and shelves, calling out to my youth.
Original artwork could be found on every table in the exhibit hall. Original pages published by DC Comics, Marvel Comics and Disney. One of the greatest things I have ever had the pleasure of seeing at a convention, I found at San Diego Comic Fest this year: an original commissioned sketch of Captain America by Jack “The King” Kirby. Signed and confirmed authentic. In color, no less. This was a museum piece if I ever saw one. Mind blown.
I was able to speak with legendary artist Sergio Aragones, creator of “Groo the Wanderer”, while he put me to work, helping him organize his table filled with books. The man has the best moustache in the business, and probably the quickest wit, to boot.
I spoke to Stan Sakai, creator of the great samurai rabbit “Usagi Yojimbo”. We discussed the evolution of his artwork and style from his first drawing of Usagi to his most recent. Such a great talent and giant in the world of comic books.
Outside of the exhibit hall, I was treated to part of one of the most in-depth series of lectures I have ever experienced, moderated by comic book historian Arlen Schumer. In the panel, he chronicled the rise of comic book artist and visionary Jim Steranko, from his early work in “Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos” into “Captain America” and “Doctor Strange”. Schumer followed the artist’s career from under the wing and shadow of Jack Kirby, into the psychedelic imagery and art of the mid -70's. Such an impassioned performance, filled with unique insight.
Suffice it to say, San Diego Comic Fest was great experience. Going into its seventh year with such success and content, it’s easy to imagine that they will be around for much, much longer, and continue to grow exponentially.
Down the road, at the Scottish Rite Center in the heart of Mission Valley, the second annual San Diego Rocket Con was on full tilt, complete with a replica Delorean from “Back to the Future” and a Doc Brown cosplayer meeting us as we entered the front door.
San Diego Rocket Con is the brainchild of the owners of San Diego comic and hobby shop “TC’s Rockets” located at 5155 Waring Road, San Diego, CA 92120. It was created in hopes of “revitalizing the quality of collectors shows” and promoting “the congregation of fellow geeky trades such as trading cards statues, comics, games, cosplay and so much more.” It’s a promise that they deliver in spades.
Rows and rows lined the main exhibit hall of the convention, packed full of deals:
Toys from the 1960’s and 1970’s. Toys from Japan. Custom and boutique toys. Toys for today’s collectors. Toys strictly for playing. Toys that should’ve never been made. Toys they didn’t make enough of.
Comic books reaching back into the Golden Age. Comic books released the week before the convention. Trade collections and art books.
Playing cards. Trading cards. Sports cards. Statues and action figures. Vinyl and diecast.
And as I slowly meandered through the aisles of vendors, I ended up at the end of the room, which put me face-to-face with Flash Gordon, himself. Special guest to the convention, actor and cult hero, Sam Jones! He was holding court to an audience of captivated fans, sharing stories and speaking genuinely to each and every person who took a second to say hello. People say that you shouldn’t meet your heroes, out of fear that they won’t meet up with your expectations, but Sam Jones accessible, funny, intelligent and outspoken. I was able to speak to him for a few minutes, on a number of topics ranging from what we’re both collecting to why we both love attending conventions. Special guest, indeed.
The second hall held even more vendors, with the room’s centerpiece being a Nintendo “Super Smash Brothers” tournament held on the raised stage. The tournament consisted of about 75 gamers, sorted into brackets, competing for prizes and (to some of them, more importantly) bragging rights. I made my rounds through the competitors, and asked them each if they thought they had a shot at winning the tournament. There was no shortage of confidence in any of them. With controllers in hand and headphones strapped to their heads, they dove into the tournament and prepared for button-mashing battle.
The convention ended with a car full of things I probably didn’t need, but really, really wanted. I had a meaningful conversation with Flash Gordon. I took photos with professional cosplayers, and I watched a bunch of gamers pushing their skills on a 64-bit battlefield.
In its second year, San Diego Rocket Con made good on their efforts by putting on a high quality collectible show. They’ve put themselves on the right track, and I look forward to attending their 2020 convention.
A fun-filled weekend of comic book everything at San Diego Comic Fest and San Diego Rocket Con.
I just picked up this amazingly articulated 1000toys RIOBOT The Iron Giant diecast figure. This roughly 7.25” figure is well made with the right balance of diecast metal and PVC. Almost every joint can be bent and turned, minus the fingers. But that is made up for with three sets of hands. Knowing their audience, 1000toys provided three heads with slightly different eye expressions. This figure also has option to change out his mouth to show his teeth. The “S” being a clip in an interesting solution but does miss out on having the chain around his neck. Watch the full unboxing and get a feel for the figure by clicking the video link below.
The Iron Giant is one of my favorite animated films. I have the Ultimate Iron Giant from Trendmasters still in the box and a very well played with Trendmasters Remote Control The Iron Giant, so well he’s missing an arm. As a huge fan, I regret not getting Mondo’s deluxe version but couldn’t get myself to spend the initial capital for a figure I want to take out of the box and enjoy with my kiddos. I definitely can’t get myself to pay what it’s going for on eBay. Wow, does this figure feel like an affordable second chance. It’s not too large for my desk at home and it’s pretty sturdy I feel comfortable letting my 10-year-old handle the figure. By the way, he’s a big The Iron Giant fan too (patting myself on the back).
・Product Name: RIOBOT Iron Giant
・SRP: USD120（Outside of Japan）
・Release Period: August 2018
・Pre-order Start: February 16, 2018
・Weight : 400g
・Parts Included : Exchangeable Hand Parts x 2 sets, Exchangeable Head Parts x 2, Exchangeable Teeth
THE IRON GIANT and all related characters and elements (c) & TM Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
We were going through Long Beach Comic Expo when I caught Joel stopped dead in his tracks with his face about a foot away from a messenger bag hanging in one of the exhibitor’s spaces. I shifted my eyes to the bag and saw a large intricately sewn “WHOVIAN” with hints of the show built into the logotype. Both gawking at the detail, that’s when we met Kyla. You should have seen our faces when we found out she hand embroidered it.
Kyla is living the creative person’s dream, making pieces of art she likes while making a living out of it. All of her wearable art is made by her, each is done one by one with her hands. Considering the uniqueness of each piece, she’s able to keep them at a reasonable price. Or what she calls, “Affordable Couture.” It embodies her tagline: One of kind items for discerning ladies and gentlemen. Whatever it is, it’s working evidenced by how many people we saw coming and leaving with something accompanied with a smile.
Kyla didn’t always have this completely figured out. She got her degree at the Philadelphia College of Art with a focus on ceramics and glass. Which she jokingly said she never used since. Kyla then went into teaching and after 20 years of frustration with the educational system, she dove into what’s she doing now.
Time to plan your Presidents’ Day weekend at the 2019 Long Beach Comic Expo. This family-friendly event will include over 150 exhibitors, high-profile industry guests, and plenty of panels and activities for every pop-culture interest. Below are just a few examples, scroll down to view the full Programming Guide.
Captain Marvel: Origins: A look at Captain Marvel, Carol Danvers, with two of the writers who know her best: Gerry Conway, who introduced the "Ms. Marvel" version of Carol in the 1970s Ms. Marvel comic series; and bestselling novelist Margaret Stohl, whose The Life of Captain Marvel comic retold the character's history as a lead-in to the upcoming feature film starring Brie Larson and Samuel L. Jackson.
Space Expo: A con-within-a-con experience that’s all about space exploration and hands-on STEM education! Featuring experts in their respective scientific fields, kids (and kids-at-heart) can have fun with science-based interactive experiments! Space Expo's Guests of Honor are NASA InSight scientist Farah Alibay and NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory engineer Troy Lee Hudson.
C3 Presents: Comics: Breaking In and Staying In: The road to a career in comics and the creative arts can take many twists and turns — and they don't stop once you get in. Join Marvel Comics publisher John Nee, DC Comics/Valiant Comics/Lion Forge editor Joseph Illidge, artist James Jameson (American Gods), and cartoonist Javier Hernandez (El Muerto) for a riveting discussion of the different ways they've developed their careers.
Women on the Dark Side: Not all female artists and creators are about unicorns and glittery vampires. Hosted by Anne Toole (HALO: Lone Wolf), Kate Jonez (author, Santa Muerte), Susan Lee (Wraith of Love), and Madeleine Holly-Rosing (Boston Metaphysical Society), attendees can get some critical insight from women who create truly dark and challenging art and content, with just a touch of humor and whimsy. Whether it’s comic books, novels, or art, these are the women who are creating content that connects with our deeper, darker side.
Long Beach Comic Expo 2019 tickets are on sale NOW. Kids 10 and under get in FREE, with a special discount available for all Long Beach Unified School District students. Get you tickets here. For additional information about the expo, its exhibitors, and the attending special guests go to longbeachcomicexpo.com.
FULL PROGRAMMING GUIDE
Saturday, February 16, 2019
11:00am - 12:00pm: Voice Acting: Secrets of the Stars
Speakers: James Mathis III, Arryn Zech, Eric Bauza, Rikki Simons
Description: Some of the most exciting voice actors working today take part in a very special panel! James Mathis III (the voice of Black Panther), Eric Bauza (Master Splinter, Bugs Bunny), Rikki Simons (INVADER ZIM's GIR and Bloaty), and Arryn Zech (Blake Belladonna in Rooster Teeth's RWBY) share stories about their work in the recording booth and answer fan questions about bringing fan-favorite characters to life.
12:00pm - 1:00pm: GOTHAM’s Tze Chun: Delivering a TKO to Comics
Speakers: Tze Chung
Description: Come join GOTHAM writer/producer Tze Chun (ONCE UPON A TIME) for a freewheeling panel that will answer your questions about the hit series' just-started fifth season even as it raises more about what's to come. Plus, a look at TKO Studios, Chun's new comics publishing company that's introduced binge-reading and other innovations to the world of comics, making waves just two months since its debut at the end of 2018! Moderated by comics historian Jessica Tseang (AMC's SECRET HISTORY OF COMICS).
1:00pm - 2:30pm: Storytelling on the Page
Speakers: Ron Marz
Description: A Long Beach favorite returns! Top comic artists work from the same script to demonstrate – in real time – how to break down a comic book story. Gain new insights into how to both write and draw a page from beginning to end. Writer Ron Marz (GREEN LANTERN, SILVER SURFER) provides the script for the artists. Hosted by Buddy Scalera (DEADPOOL) of Comic Book School. Sponsored by Marvy/Uchida markers.
2:30pm - 3:30pm: Horror, Fantasy, and Folklore: Making the Timeless Timely
Speakers: Ponsak Pichetshote, Norm Harper, DJ Kirkbride, Javier Hernandez
Description: Creators Pornsak Pichetshote (Infidel), Norm Harper (Haphaven), DJ Kirkbride (The One and Future Queen), and Javier Hernandez (El Muerto) take part in a wide-ranging discussion of how their works update and expand familiar themes for modern stories and contemporary audiences.
3:30pm - 4:30pm: Batman, Batwoman, and Beyond
Speakers: Kevin Nowlan, Rick Leonardi, Marguerite Bennett, Joseph Illidge
Description: It's the Dark Knight's eightieth anniversary! Join BATWOMAN and DC COMICS BOMBSHELLS writer Marguerite Bennett, former Batman editor Joseph Illidge, BATMAN BEYOND artist Rick Leonardi, and legendary Batman artist Kevin Nowlan for a discussion of the past, present, and future of one of the most enduring characters in pop-culture history.
4:30pm - 5:30pm: Breaking Into Toy and Product Design
Speakers: Logan Lubera, Mandie Roman, and Ray Makowski
Description: Learn the secrets of creating cool geek stuff for crates and shelves alike straight from the experts. From t-shirts to collectible statues, what makes a great product? And how does someone new break into the industry? Join Loot Crate Creative Directors Logan Lubera and Ray Makowski and Mandie Roman of JapanLA Clothing, Loot Wear, and her own company, Geeky Glamorous, for an informative conversation moderated by Toy-Wizards.com Editor-in-Chief Loryn Stone.
10:30am - 11:30am: The Fine Art of Character Design
Speakers: Joel Adams, Bobby Timony, Logan Lubera
Description: How does a character's look reveal strengths, weaknesses, and personality? What choices go into the color of a shirt, the thickness of the hair, or even how many loops go on the belt? Comic Book School's Buddy Scalera (Deadpool) leads a discussion with three experts in the world of character design: King of the Hill veteran and comic book artist Joel Adams, Loot Crate Creative Director Logan Lubera, and multiple Harvey Award-nominee Bobby Timony (The Night Owls).
11:30am - 12:30pm: FilAm Creative: Voices Live!: FilAms in Comics, Animation, and Film
Speakers: Bobby Pontillas, Patricio Ginelsa, Mark Nazal
Description: Filam Creative: Voices hosts a special live podcast recording at The Long Beach Comic Con Expo! Join Voices hosts, Arlyn Dela Pena and Walter Talens, athey have a conversation with special guests Bobby Pontillas (Oscar nominated Director at Taiko Studios, Disney), Patricio Ginelsa (Director of feature films Lumpia and Lumpia 2, music videos by Black Eyed Peas), Mark Nazal (VFX artist, two time Emmy award winner Gotham and Lucifer), and other special guests as they talk about the contributions of Filipinos in comics/animation and film, their own work, how they got their starts, and so much more.
12:30pm - 1:30pm: Geeks Got Your Back
Speakers: Shawn Crosby, Meg Hartman, and Susan Fox
Description: Anti-harassment has become a hot topic within the geek community over the last several years. Whether it is anti- harassment policies or grassroots awareness, more and more geeks are looking for ways to make the geek community a better place to everyone. Come join us as we discuss ways in which we can all just be a little more excellent to each other.
1:30pm - 2:30pm: GeekFest Filmmakers Panel
Speakers: Jackie Dallas
Description: Learn how to create low-budget, high-concept genre films from this year's batch of talented filmmakers touring with the Year 6 Tour.
2:30pm - 3:30pm: GeekFest Program 1 - Fan Films (Marvel/DC)
Description: Little Man of Steel, Red Hood It, Rise of the Catwoman, Deadpool the Musical 2
3:30pm - 4:30pm: GeekFest Program 2 - Geek Girls ROCK!
Description: Planeman, Once Upon a Costume Live, CC, Nano
4:30pm - 5:30pm: GeekFest Program 3 - Star Wars Fan Films
Description: Star Wars: The Toys Awaken, Star Wars: Dresca, One Day I'll Become The Lightsaber Maker, Star Wars Dark Legacy.
Sunday, February 17, 2019
11:30am - 12:30pm: TOKYOPOP Presents: International Women of Manga
Speakers: Mallory Reeves
Description: Celebrate diversity in manga by joining TOKYOPOP to learn about our new exciting original titles by diverse female manga creators from around the world. With a varied selection of genres and art styles, there's something for everyone from these talented creators, including our special guest, writer Mallory Reaves (the upcoming KILALA PRINCESS) who joins us for a Q&A session!
12:30pm - 1:30pm: Sunday Conversation with DC Comics' Dan DiDio
Speakers: Dan DiDio
Description: Dan DiDio invites you to join this afternoon chat to talk about your favorite comic book memories and why we all love this medium and give you a sneak peek at events occurring across the DC Universe. All are welcome; no RSVP required!
1:30pm - 2:30pm: Justice League Detroit: A 35th Anniversary... Celebration?
Speakers: Gerry Conway, Chuck Patton
Description: In 1983, DC Comics' Justice League franchise was reinvented with a lineup that would include Aquaman in a leadership role and showcase new members Commander Steel, Vixen, Gypsy, and Vibe. With Aquaman a billion-dollar franchise and the others mainstays of the WB's "Arrowverse," it's time to reconsider the JLD legacy with the team's writer-artist team of Gerry Conway and artist Chuck Patton!
2:30pm - 3:30pm: JOE ON JOE Presents: G.I. Joe Fandom Today!
Speakers: Jeremiah Stafford, Paul Galliano, Curtis Herod
Description: A special LIVE recording of the popular JOE ON JOE podcast celebrates what may be the greatest toy line of all time! Host Joe Slepski and a panel of G.I. Joe experts discuss the various aspects of the brand – toys, comics books, TV shows, and movies – and how the fans have kept G.I. Joe thriving for more than half a century!
3:30pm - 4:30pm: Fanbase Press Presents: The Past is Now! Nostalgia in Comics & Graphic Novels
Speakers: Norm Harper, Bobby Timony, Marguerite Bennett, Todd Nauck
Description: Pop culture's obsession with the '80s and '90s is reverberating through comics and graphic novels like PAPER GIRLS, STRANGER THINGS, and more. Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon moderates an engaging panel about the past in the present and future with guests Marguerite Bennett (MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS), Todd Nauck (MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000), and Bobby Timony and Norm Harper (THE SEQUELS).
11:30am - 12:30pm: Space Expo Presents: SCIENCE IMITATES FICTION (And Back Again)
Speakers: Ron Marz, Gerald Blackburn
Description: 50 years ago, humans took a giant leap and stepped on the Moon. Many of the people responsible for getting us there were inspired by science fiction comics and novels. This panel features a former NASA engineer who worked on the Apollo Moon missions talking about how comics inspired him, along with comic book writer Ron Marz (GREEN LANTERN) talking about inspirations from real life space exploration he took for his work. The panel will be moderated by Ben Dickow, President of the Columbia Memorial Space Center, which sits on the birthplace of Apollo, the site the famous Apollo Capsules were built just up the freeway in Downey.
12:30pm - 1:30pm: Space Expo Presents: NASA's New Horizons Mission
Speakers: Gene Perry, Dennis Schnell
Description: Presented by employees of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, this panel highlights the New Horizons mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt, touching on the New Horizons probe itself and all of its scientific instruments, a timeline of the mission including milestones and scientific discoveries, details and latest findings on the newly discovered Ultima Thule, and highlight some of the other exciting New Horizons programs: Juno and Bennu.
1:30pm - 2:30pm: Webcomics Advocates Presents: The Webcomics Gathering
Speakers: Brendan Creecy, Eddie DeAngelini, Ambrose Quintanilla
Description: Join Webcomics Advocates co-founder Brendan Creecy (BRAX THE ALIEN ROCKER) and webcomic creators Eddie DeAngelini (COLLECTORS), Ambrose Quintanilla (GOPHER-IT COMICS), and moderator Kristen Parraz (the COMADRES Y COMICS podcast) as they celebrate and discuss the exciting world of webcomics! They will also give any webcomic creators in the audience 30 seconds to promote their comic to the crowd. All creators and fans are welcome!
2:30pm - 3:30pm: DIY Comics: Publish, Don't Perish
Speakers: David Pepose, Rob Kutner, Russell Nohelty, Kate Leth, Christie Shinn
Description: Kickstarter, Patreon, the "Image model": whether it's the first comic you've ever published or just the most-recent, there are many different ways to reach your audience. These freewheeling panel showcases the paths taken by a wide range of creators: writers David Pepose (SPENCER & LOCKE) and Rob Kutner (SHRINKAGE, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart), cartoonists Kate Leth (ADVENTURE TIME) and Christie Shinn (DEMON BITCH: SHE SUCKS), and writer/publisher Russell Nohelty (THE COMPLETE CREATIVE). Moderated by writer Rylend Grant (ABERRANT)
3:30pm - 4:30pm: Animated Lives: Behind the Scenes of Creating Cartoons
Speakers: Larry Houston, Chuck Patton, Ian McGinty, Samantha Glow Knapp
Description: Cartoon-industry veterans Larry Houston (X-Men: The Animated Series), Chuck Patton (G.I. JOE, Kulipari: Dream Walker), Ian McGinty and Samantha Glow Knapp (Welcome to Showside!) take part in a fun-filled discussion about their experiences in making cartoons for television. From sharing personal stories of the business and how the process has changed over the decades, to describing how their skills have served them in other creative fields, it'll be a strong finish to your Long Beach Comic Expo experience
11:30am - 12:30pm: Cospositive: Cosplay With Confidence
Speakers: Ivy Doomkitty
Description: International cosplay superstar Ivy Doomkitty leads a discussion focusing on body image and confidence in oneself, self-worth, ways to work on confidence, and how to stay positive in the community when faced with negative people or negative comments on social media. Other topics covered will include cosplaying regardless of age, gender, body type/size, disability, etc. and having respect for one another.
12:30pm - 1:30pm: All-CAPS: Tales of the Comic Art Professional Society
Speakers: Bobby Timony, Christie Shinn, Norm Harper, Barbara Randall Kesel
Description: Comic Art Professional Society of Los Angeles members share stories of their careers in comics. Join legendary editor Barbara Randall Kesel, irreverent creator Christie Shinn (DEMON BITCH, SHE SUCKS), and Eisner Award nominee Norm Harper (RIKKI) and multiple Harvey Award nominee Bobby Timony (THE NIGHT OWLS) for a freewheeling conversation moderated by CAPS member Loryn Stone.
1:30pm - 2:30pm: GeekFest Program 4 - SciFi
Description: NarcoLeap, The Shipment, Paleonaut
2:30pm - 3:30pm: GeekFest Program 5 - Comedy
Description: Dark Specter, Portrait of a Superhero, Gryphon, Animo Galactic Galaxy
3:30pm - 4:30pm: GeekFest Program 6 - Geekcetera
Description: The Indies Prop Wars: Prop Harder, Metroid: The Sky Calls, Hot N Nerdy
4:30pm - 5:30pm: Level Up Your Cosplay! with Ivy Doomkitty
Speakers: Ivy Doomkitty
Description: Have you been cosplaying for a while but feel like it's become stagnant? Do you want to figure out how to turn a basic costume into a stellar one? Seasoned costume professionals show how you can turn up your costume to over 9000! Q and A to follow!
Guide subject to change
2019 is going to be a banner year for Comic-Con. Not only will the organization celebrate its 50th birthday in America’s Finest City, but it will venture off into a new frontier with the opening of the Comic-Con Museum in Balboa Park. The museum will document the long and storied history and relationship between Comic-Con and San Diego, and will celebrate all things comic book related, from its early beginnings to its current influence on all things entertainment media related.
While the museum hasn’t provided an official date for their grand opening, there continues to be an anxious buzz emanating from the walls, reflecting the anticipation of amazing things to come. The museum has already started holding special events, prior to their official opening, giving attendees a small glimpse of the museum’s potential.
Recently, Convention.Life was invited to participate in a very special event being held at the museum. Comic-Con held a one-day symposium for aspiring artists and writers, as well as professionals, interested in the art of storytelling.
The event was called SAM: Storytelling Across Media, and Comic-Con didn’t hesitate at pulling out all stops, inviting some of the comic book industry’s biggest names to be special guests for the day. Guests included: DC Comics Co-Publisher and Chief Creative Officer (and comic book legend) Jim Lee, writers Julie Benson and Shawna Benson, and writer-of-all-things J. Michael Straczynski.
The symposium’s panels focused on teaching methods for creative and successful storytelling across all media: Animation, Sound and Music, Film, Comic, Board Games and Video Games. Additionally, guests held panels in storytelling in Long Form / Short Form Writing and Augmented / Virtual Reality.
Convention.Life sat in on the first panel of the day, which turned out to be a spotlight on DC Comics Co-Publisher and Chief Creative Officer (and, again, comic book legend) Jim Lee.
It isn’t often that one gets the opportunity to sit in a room of 50 people, alongside one of the masters of the comic book genre, as he freely gives out his secrets for effective storytelling.
On the basics of storytelling in the comic book medium:
There are three kinds of shots. There’s the wide Establishing Shot that’s good for establishing location, relationship between objects. Then there’s the Medium Shot which is good for conversations, interpersonal dialogue between characters or objects. Then the last shot is the Closeup. The Closeup is used mostly to convey emotion. Every artist will create a different series of shots, and that actually is part of style that you don’t see. So, there’s the style of how people draw faces or bodies, but you don’t see the storytelling. You feel it as you read the story. It’s all in the hands of the artist.
Lee continued, focusing in more on the fine details of the storytelling, and creating a visual world that has roots in real life.
Within a shot, there is foreground, middle ground and background. They all have varying degrees of detail. All these little details, to me, they do tell a story, and when I draw a panel, I do think about that. I think about the objects in the background. I think about their clothing. I think about the way they sit and stand. I think about their histories that brought them to that moment. No one may care about that, but I feel like it does add something that readers subconsciously pick up on, and understand who these characters are, without having a whole mini-series to explain who they are.
Typically, in the medium of comic books, it starts with the writer. They create the story, panel by panel. It is the artist’s job to interpret and tell the writer’s story through images. In discussing the difference in workflow with writers of differing styles and control over the story:
“Panel 1, establishing shot, Gotham City.” That’s Brian Azzarello.
Alan Moore would be “It is April 13, 1993. If you look in the almanac, it was a hazy day, full of humidity. 87 percent. Please note this with a dial in the foreground. Please use the Helvetica font on that device to indicate…” I mean, there were scripts where it was 3 pages of single-spaced information about one page.
So its different.
I think that, what happens when you work full script, is that it allows the beats on the page to better reflect the emotional content of it, because [as a writer] you might have something that you really want to convey in a story, and the artist either missed it or doesn’t put the attention needed.
But there are times that I deviate from it. I think the whole point is like ‘What’s the information that has to be conveyed on this page, and what’s the best visual look for it?’ We always encourage artists to deviate as needed, if they think they can create something that looks visually more appealing.
When speaking about working in the strictly visual realm of comic books, as opposed to other types of storytelling, another of the artist’s jobs is to overcome some of the medium’s disadvantages:
When talking about storytelling, what’s interesting today, I was thinking about all the other people that are going to talk about how they create for their mediums. Every medium has shortcomings and pros and cons. One of the things that people talk about in comics that’s missing is there’s no sound, but I disagree. When I read comic book, I don’t see the sound effect. I don’t read it. I just hear it.
In closing, Lee reminds the aspiring writers and artists that practice always makes perfect.
It’s always refinements of refinements.
The symposium concluded with Lee raffling away every piece of artwork he did during the seminar. A signing followed in the museum lobby afterwards, with Lee signing everything put before him by his adoring fans. He was there for an hour, signing and talking with everyone, continuing to tell stories.
Jim Lee has been drawing comic books for the past 30 years. He is a founding creator of Image Comics and is currently DC Comics Co-Publisher and Chief Creative Officer.
The Comic-Con Museum is located at:
2131 Pan American Plaza, Balboa Park
San Diego, CA 92101
You can find out more about the museum on their website: https://comic-conmuseum.org
Saying that it was a pleasure to interview with Camilla d’Errico, is an understatement. Her passion for her work, and fun-natured personality were infectious. Never mind that we dig her work, talking with d’Errico made us bigger fans of her as an artist and a person. She was kind enough to share some of what makes her works what they are and gave us some insight into what drives her creative choices.
Coffee, Comics, and Listening to Her Parents
d’Errico started early on as an artist in comics making ends meet as a barista. She remembered her first San Diego Comic Con in 1998, when she was one of just a handful of women at the show. Looking around DCon, d’Ericco expressed her excitement at the representative diversity in a typical pop culture convention these days.
She remembered how tough it was starting out and how her parents supported her pursuit of art as a career. But seeing her struggle, they suggested she go to college as most parents would. They felt getting a degree would help her cause. Looking back, she thanks them for that nudge. d’Errico explains that going to Capilano College is where she learned about painting. She also remembers being told she wasn’t a good painter. Looking at her work, the list of gallery showings, and successful collaborations, we’d beg to differ.
In fact, d’Ericco shared a story from early in her career of how she wandered into a gallery in Vancouver where they were doing a snowboard show. She had just finished a series of snowboard artwork for Ride, who sent samples of all eight boards to her. d’Errico thought it was a perfect match, she can’t house eight snowboards in her studio apartment, maybe they can be part of the show.
Unfortunately the gallery didn’t take the snowboards but instead were more interested in selling the actual art, which d’Errico explained were just on paper, but they sold. Later, the gallery owner asked her for more artwork but this time on canvas using acrylics. d’Errico said to herself, “Yeah, I’ll give it a shot.” And that’s what launched her into being a painter.
These days you can find d’Errico’s work on more than just snowboards and canvas. She shared that about 10 years ago she realized that people only have so much wall space for prints, and decided to branch out into merchandising. With dye-sublimation becoming more common, so was the trend of wearing art. d’Errico’s work lends itself to fashion and so her fashion line was born.
About two years ago she was wandering around San Diego, where d’Errico ran into a shop that had an amazing collection of vintage plates. She fondly remembered the one piece that grabbed her attention; it was an ostrich head on a woman’s body in a Victorian dress. She was so amazed by the work; d’Errico hunted down the plate designer and started collaborating to start her plate series.
d’Errico explains collaboration has been a big part of her work. She goes out into the world and sees something then reaches out, or someone reaches out to her. If a project feels like the right fit and the timing is right, she’ll go for it as a way to stretch her creative legs into different media. Some of these collaborations have gone into bigger partnerships with Disney, Vizkids, and Hasbro to name a few.
Documentation and/or Commentary
Authenticity in the emotion of d’Errico’s paintings is important to her. The paintings she creates come from some place within her, to drive the concept. When talking about her works, d’Errico described her paintings as her diary and how each show is an entry in that diary. She talked about how she can look back at past shows and remember where she was in her life at the time.
A recent example of this was her show, “Sky,” at the Corey Helford Gallery in Los Angeles. The concept was a reaction to the division happening in America, a country she has family in, and a country she loves deeply.
“My show, ‘Sky’, was me showing the world, we’re all connected, and we’re all multi-cultured. Every single person here comes from multi-culturalism, and especially America.” She explained that every piece has a sky in it, which was inspired by an Italian saying, “We all live under the same sky.” d’Errico talked about the usage of butterflies, “to show the connectivity. Butterflies migrate and they’re everywhere in the world. They’re transformative; they bring life to the world because they’re pollinators.”
The collection of paintings and drawings d’Errico created was to empower people, “and to show the world that we should love each other’s uniqueness.” She did this by making her most diverse works to date.
Looking to the future she describes the next show will be her interpretation of the Zodiac at the Haven Gallery. This will not be as politically charged but it will be inspired by what she’s connected to. An example is that she might make the Cancer interpretation in honor of her friend/coordinator, who is a Cancer herself.
Camilla the Fan
We asked, “If you didn’t have deadlines and had eight hours to do whatever you wanted, what would you work on?” Without hesitation, d’Errico exclaimed that she would work on her fan fiction, specifically her stories from The Walking Dead. Oh, yeah, she writes too and has gotten some great responses. If you’re interested in her other hidden passion, join her Patreon to get access. Here’s another one that may get you to click, she’s written and vampire novel series. Yeah, you’re interested.
One of our favorite nuggets about d’Errico was finding out she is a big Masters of the Universe fan. Unintentionally, she happened to see a text during the interview that seemed to pull her out of what she was saying. She apologized then explained there were limited Skeletor cereal bowls at the Funko booth and was excited to get one later during the show. No apologies, that got nerd-points with us. She’s just as much a fan as she is a creator.
Which brings us to Bee-ra, one of many of what d’Errico calls her Fuzzbutts. Last year she partnered with Planet Bees to raise funds by doing a series of bees. And the response was so overwhelmingly positive; her Fuzzbuts became another extension of her personality, the fun cute version of herself. She took the opportunity to celebrate her 20-year anniversary at SDCC by creating POP Bees, where Bee-Ra, Harbee Quinn, and BeePool made their appearance.
One Person Making a Difference
We ended our interview on a somber but good note with d’Errico about Stan Lee, no words, we shared sad smiles and the feeling of eyes welling up. Earlier in the interview she reflected on how much Stan Lee meant to her, knowing him and seeing what he has done inspires her. “It made me realize that one person can change the world.” She made the point that everyone starts small but can make an impact. Again, it was more than a pleasure to converse with Camilla d’Errico; she was inspirational. If you get the chance to catch her at one of her many shows, stop by and say, “Hi.” She’s as fun, charming, and inviting as her work.
It has been a week since pop culture icon and legendary comic book creator Stan Lee passed away at the age of 95. While the world remains in mourning for a man that has touched so many lives, it would be remiss for the contributors here at Convention.Life to bare witness to this watershed moment without sharing in the celebration of his life and work.
I just wanted to take this opportunity share a memory. That’s all. My personal tribute to Stan.
When I was younger, I was your typical latchkey kid. My parents both worked during the day, one as a nurse and one in the military, and for a majority of my youth, that would mean that when I got home from school, I was to adhere to the strict rules of my parents: “Don’t open the door for anyone. Don’t use the stove. Just do your homework until we get home from work.” That was fine with me. I was a responsible kid. “Helicopter Parents” didn’t exist yet. I was completely happy being home alone for a short time.
Sometimes, though, I would forget to put my house key in my backpack, which meant that I couldn’t get into the house for a couple hours until my parents came home. When this would happen, unfortunately ever so frequently, I would open the door to my garage and stay in there.
We kept an old leather couch in one corner of the garage. It was next to the garage door, so ambient light from outside could leak in while I laid down on the couch. After the first couple times this happened, I ended up hiding a few comic books under the couch cushions, so I could lose myself in stories of Spider-Man, The Avengers, the Hulk, The Fantastic Four and The X-Men. There wasn’t enough light in the garage to do homework, but there was enough to flip through my stash of comics.
Those characters, those comic books, reaffirmed important lessons that my parents tried to teach me. They taught me to be a good person above all else. They taught me the importance of family. They taught me we aren’t all the same, and that we are all flawed, but that being different is okay. They taught me that teamwork makes the dream work. They taught me that “With great power, comes great responsibility. They taught me that the ideas of a single person, when put out into the universe, can effect change for generations to come.
They also taught me different languages. They taught me new words. They taught me alliteration. They taught me onomatopoeia. They taught me about the subtleties of dialogue. They taught me negative space and forced perspective. I learned how to draw human figures in motion.
There are an innumerable amount of lessons that I have learned, both directly and indirectly, from comic books.
As I grew older, my interests naturally expanded into other things, but I still had a passion for comic books in one way or another.
Many things have happened since my days on the garage couch. I inherited my Uncle Noel’s collection of comic books that reached back into the early 1970's. I’ve attended San Diego Comic-Con almost every year since 1993. I’ve worked as a photographer, covering conventions throughout Southern California. I’ve traveled to different countries, meeting some amazing people along the way - celebrities, authors, illustrators, Hollywood studio executives, cosplayers and comic book fans alike. I’ve even had several opportunities to speak to Stan, The Man, himself.
Regardless of where my life has taken me to this point, I can trace a lot of it back to an old leather couch in my garage. I can trace a lot if it back to the comic books stashed under the couch cushions. I can trace a lot of it back to a single guy, and the characters he created.
Thank you, Stan Lee. Thank you for speaking your ideas out into the universe, and planting seeds of imagination. It is an invaluable legacy you leave behind.
Within seconds of the film starting, I felt the need to put on a space helmet and ensure my air filter was fresh. Prospect didn’t use too many high production tricks, just a few tastefully sprinkled visual notes to immerse you in this world. I’m a sucker for a slow burn with the time being spent on showing me who the characters really are, and I got that with this feature film.
A strong side note: the wardrobe/costumes were beautifully crafted and intentionally created, they were characters themselves. The individual suits felt like visual representations of each character’s traits.
I can’t recommend this film enough to those tired of SciFi movies that build a script around a new visual effect, or a ridiculous catastrophic event, especially the ones that don’t show how people would actually react in those situations. Prospect is the type of movie that will have a strong cult following and I’m excited to be there from the beginning.
Prospect stars Sophie Thatcher, Pedro Pascal, Jay Duplas, and is written and directed by Zeek Earl and Christopher Caldwell. This is also the first feature film distributed by Gunpowder & Sky’s label DUST. DUST is now on my radar thanks to this movie and I can’t wait for more innovative storytelling from these creative minds.
SYNOPSIS: A teenage girl and her father travel to a remote alien moon, aiming to strike it rich. They've secured a contract to harvest a large deposit of the elusive gems hidden in the depths of the moon's toxic forest. But there are others roving the wilderness and the job quickly devolves into a fight to survive. Forced to contend not only with the forest's other ruthless inhabitants, but with her own father's greed-addled judgment, the girl finds she must carve her own path to escape.
If you’re still reading and are the type to be the above mentioned ravenous cult following movie goer, come back here after seeing the film and check out the early short film from 2014. It’s amazing to see this concept evolve but keep to the original intent. I’m officially a fan of Zeek Earl and Chris Caldwell. Creatives like them inspire me to stay up and keep writing my own work.
This year, Los Angeles Comic Con had approximately 100,000 attendees over its three days from October 26, 2018 through October 28, 2018. On Saturday night, 75 lucky fans were awarded with the unique opportunity to attend a special after-party on Hot Topic’s tab! It was an amazing night full of food, fun, drinks, exclusive Funko-sponsored giveaways, and the company of a bunch of toy collectors talking about all things vinyl and pop culture.
What better way to end a long day of awesomeness at the 2018 Los Angeles Comic Con than to party on into the night as a guest of Hot Topic, hosted by Hot Topic’s Nerdette, at an intimate meetup at Downtown Los Angeles’ Lucky Strike bowling alley and restaurant?
Convention.Life joined in on the festivities. Consider us lucky beyond words.
After the convention floor shut down, we made our way past The Staples Center, through LA Live, and to the front doors of Lucky Strike, where we checked in and got our super swanky Hot Topic private event wrist bands. We were also handed a non-descript red raffle ticket that would turn out to be the key to hidden Hot Topic gold.
For the next two hours, we traded stories, compared collections, and shared a post-convention dinner against the backdrop of neon bowling, free drinks and Game 4 of the MLB World Series playing on four giant TV screens. HT Nerdette made sure everyone felt like they were at home, and talked to every single person at the meetup. One of the nicest people you’ll ever meet at a convention. Hands down. High fives and a bunch of laughs. Genuinely happy to be there.
As the night drew to a close, we all gathered at the front of the room, non-descript red raffle tickets in hand. Usually, when you’re given non-descript red raffle tickets, it usually means that a few huge prizes are given away, to a few lucky people, while everyone else walks away with a non-descript red raffle ticket souvenir. This was definitely not the case at the meetup. At the end of the night, EVERYONE at the meetup went home with a Funko-sponsored / Hot Topic Exclusive raffle prize. EVERY. SINGLE. PERSON. These prizes were nothing to sneeze at, either. We saw Harry Potter prototype figures, autographed exclusive cereal boxes, New York Comic-Con Exclusives, Conan O’Brien San Diego Comic-Con Exclusive Pop figures and Disney prototype mystery mini figures, just to name a few. Suffice it to say, everyone walked away from the event happy.
Thank you for an epic night, HT Nerdette. We can’t wait until the next meetup!
Check your local Hot Topic stores, or go online, to find exclusive Funko merchandise.
You can find HT Nerdette on Periscope, where she lets viewers in on all upcoming Hot Topic merchandise.
We go to these conventions to celebrate pop culture and the worlds they transport us into. This time I decided to take an early look at future pop culture influencers by checking out a few screenings. My two favorites were the first episode of Deadly Class, of course, and the wild ride that is Mandy, goodness gracious almighty. Or maybe just I like posters that are heavy on the redish/purpleish/pinkish hues. Don’t worry, these are spoiler-free comments.
Of course I covered Deadly Class’ screening at LA Comic Con, it’s no secret I am a fan of Rick Remender and especially this book. And if I’m going to get the opportunity to see the first before it airs in 2019, damn right Imma be up in there. And it was glorious. As Remender said in our interview at SDCC, he ensured fans we would see a live-action version that is true to the book. The casting couldn’t have been more spot-on and director Lee Toland Krieger captured the tone and mood felt as I flipped through the pages when originally taking in the story as a comic. If you have the chance to see it at a convention ahead of time, don’t hesitate. If you have to wait until 2019 to catch it on SYFY, it’ll be worth it. Thanks to the Russo brothers for giving this the push it needed and giving Remender the room to make it what he wants it to be. I can’t wait for the rest.
Then there’s Mandy. Oh, my goodness, Mandy. The Halloween season may be over but fans of this genre should be happy this wonderfully gratuitous gem is now available outside of the theaters (Youtube, Amazon). If you’ve seen it, buy it. If you haven’t let your senses get washed over with full-Cage awesomeness, grab at least one friend because everyone knows a trip is better with company. Go see it and know you’ll never be the same, but we still love you.
When we first walked into the exhibit hall we heard a muffled clashing sound toward the right/back wall area. It was early, so we figured it was the sounds of setting up and we didn’t think twice about it. As we walked the exhibit hall and got closer to the noise only got louder. Then we saw it, a wrestling ring?
I’ve seen wrestling stars at conventions before and have seen a wrestling ring with some quick demos or two but the difference this time: there was a full program with a set area for a crowd to gather and get in on booing the bad guys. There seemed to be a storyline building throughout the day and the narrative was paid off with a headlining event at the end of the night. Click here to watch the main event unfold with none other than 2015’s WWE Hall of Famer, Rikishi!
Rikishi’s KNOKX Pro Entertainment did a great job putting together an integrated, fun, and inviting, space for the kids (and parents) to enjoy live wrestling. The interactive experience was a bonus added layer of entertainment. As fans of wrestling during the Attitude Era, Steve (fellow Convention.Life correspondent) and I had a blast watching it all unfold.
The wrestling didn’t stop there, even the exhibitors "brought it." In this talent highlight we met with Carlos Flores, and when we say talent, Carlos is brimming with it from all directions. We were greeted by Carlos' fully branded booth promoting The Mighty Luchador, specifically his latest vinyl creation, Señor Fuego. Standing at a full 7” tall and a removable jacket, I couldn’t take my eyes off of him. I came back a few times and debated spending $65, show special price ($74.99 online).
I think I will regret not picking up this vinyl awesomeness but even more, I’m upset with myself for having such tunnel vision. I was so focused on the purchase of Señor Fuego, I forgot there were so many other options. At the very least a comic or even one of the sweet shirt designs. Well, if he doesn’t sell out before the next show I see Carlos, I HAVE to get something. All of Carlos’ works displayed at LBCC was just a taste of his talents. After chatting with him I learned he’s an Art Director, Filmmaker, and a well-versed Motion Designer. After checking out some of his projects on his site, I recognized seeing most, if not all, of them as a consumer. He’s created works for clients such as Beats, to The CW and some of the DC T.V. show opening titles, to Disney Infinity demos, to Coors Light, and even stage graphics for Demi Lovato. Here’s the best part about all of this, I had to dig this info out of Carlos. He didn’t blurt any of these things out to try to impress, he was there to share The Mighty Luchador works. He was so excited to talk about this passion project of his and what a fun creative outlet this it is for him.
It shows in the craft and care he puts in the work. Super talented and humble, I don’t think Carlos would say that about himself because, well, he’s so humble. But I’ll say it for him, he’s super talented and very humble. Next time you’re at a convention and you see The Mighty Luchador, don’t make my mistake of not getting something. Trust me, I won’t do that again. Señor Fuego shirt, I’m looking at you.
As for the rest of LBCC, it had everything else we love and look for in comic conventions from the comic books themselves, to rare collectibles, and the creative mashups represented in the many pieces of apparel and pins. Now that it’s over, the bad news: the next LBCC is a year away. The good news: LBCE is happening in only five months, oh yeah!
Welcome to the most brutal high school on Earth, where the world’s top crime families send the next generation of assassins to be trained. Murder is an art. Killing is a craft. At King’s Dominion High School for the Deadly Arts, the dagger in your back isn’t always metaphorical, nor is your fellow classmates' poison. – Image Comics
We started taking stock in Rick Remender's writing during his time in the Marvel NOW! era, back in 2012. Joel followed Remender's Marvel stories while I dug into his creator-owned works. I'd like to think, combined, Joel and I equal one complete almost super-fan. Considering Remender's rare appearances at comic conventions, Joel and I were fortunate to get one-on-one time with Rick at San Diego Comic-Con to learn more about Deadly Class, what drives his creative brain, and how he balances all his projects with his amazing creative partners.
How faithful do you feel the TV adaptation of Deadly Class is to your books?
I don’t have to feel because I'm writing it. So, I know that it's very much the books. That was one of the things when we had a lot of various parties that were interested in this. I said, "I'm going to be with it from top to bottom." I'm going to be involved and make sure that what we create here is a representation and true to the intent of what Wes and I have created in the book.
And so to honor that, I live in L.A. now and I've just been giving my life over to ensuring that what we do is, top to bottom, exactly the same as the book and the same spirit. The joy of it is being able to take those stories and instead of just having 22 pages to tell the story. I can take that chunk and now we have an hour of television. And so, we get to go in and we get to talk about other characters. We get to talk about other storylines, we get to unpack them and get to live in the world. We get to immerse ourselves deeper in the stories and we have a great room of writers. And me and my co-showrunners, we all get together with them and it's a pleasure to be able to take the intent and the tone and the world of Deadly Class and unpack it and really start to explore all aspects of it.
How is it working with screenwriters versus writing on your own for print?
It’s an interesting thing that there’s any sort of delineation there, because comic books, especially something like Deadly Class, is a serialized story. And I write it in final draft, it’s still images as opposed to moving images, but good dialogue is still good dialogue. Good stories are still good stories. So translating it has been quite easy. I have a history where I ran an animation studio and I've written video games and done a few features that didn’t get made. But I spent a lot of time in the production side of things as well as doing comic books. And so I do have a background in that stuff, which I think has enabled me to transition to the showrunning fairly seamlessly. But in terms of script, I've always had an opinion that a good script is a good script and the formatting is really just a matter of formatting. Like, being able to unpack something and go, it's not a still image, it's not just this and this equals that. It's actually this walks into this, this person says that then moves on and the camera drifts, it's not that big of a leap. You just have to then start animating it in your head and you know, written enough animation that wasn't much of a step for me.
Is it natural, when writing, to consider the script for possibly going to screen?
No, the approach I take to writing translates pretty seamlessly into the television. I think that when we were writing the pilot episode I ended up using probably 40% of scripts from the comic book. And then I would take those and then instead of just being a still image that I'd given to Wes to draw, it would be a matter of unpacking that and being able to move and have the characters actually there and consider camera directions a little bit and transitions and things like that. But I think, it really just is a matter of formatting. I think that there's this idea that, can TV people write comics? Or can film people write comics? Or can comic people write film? And it's just telling a good story and then knowing the limitations of the medium you're telling it in.
Based on your animation background. Did you see Deadly Class as possibly an animated feature or animated show, or any of your other books possibly being animated?
Animation is definitely something we've had some meetings and got pretty far down the field with one property and is still talking about it. And then there are a lot of aspects of Deadly Class where we're trying to find ways to incorporate and use Wes Craig’s art in the show. That will be a nice surprise for people. I love animation. I especially love 2D animation. If we could translate any of them into that with the right team, becomes it really comes down to having a bunch of people who are passionate and want to do it because it is such a labor of love, anytime your hand animating anything. I love animation, it would be great to see some of it translated that way.
Tell us more about your professional animation career?
I spent three years in effects animation before moving into character and then running a satellite studio to WildBrain, funded by Yahoo during the dot com stuff, where we were producing cartoons that never saw the light of day because the dot com bubble popped and Yahoo! pulled their funding. So, I had spent a lot of time creating cartoons from top to bottom that were just never seen and I was pretty heartbreaking. In fact, led me back to just making comic books, because comic books get made. I don’t know how many people are going to read it. I don't know how far to go. But I know what I know it exists. And the process of building up an animation studio getting to work spending a couple years grinding out a bunch of cartoons and doing it top to bottom, only to have those disappear into the ether was like, okay, I am fucking done with that. And then when I went back to comic books after that.
Talk to us more about how you went from being a visual artist realizing someone else’s story to becoming this story originator.
There was never a separation, there was no wall there. I think that most artists have stories in their head and most writers have visuals in their head and art direction ideas. I grew up writing stories and drawing and animating. I used to take novels, and animate them in the corner, so you get the flipbook. I was always just really drawn to pop culture art. And grew up as a skate punk grommet reading comic books and watching things like Evil Dead 2 and Big Trouble in Little China and all those things. Better off Dead and all that culture. And then Robert Williams paintings and then Robert Crumb and Zapp Comics. And then that led me to Adrian Tomine and Dan Clowes and Evan Dorkin where I really got an eyeful of, "Oh, we can do anything with comics. We can tell any kind of story." So I was always doing both. Deadly Class is based on journals that I wrote from those years. Most of Marcus' journal entries are altered up versions of things that I wrote in my journals when I was a young man. So when I was animating full-time and drawing comic books, I would then spend my nights writing in my journal and writing stories to decompress from the art. And then I started writing stories for artists that I knew. I think the first one that I wrote for someone else was Doll & Creature, John Beebink and Mike Manley drew that, quite beautifully. I then started getting more artists and people that were interested in working with me and had other pals like Kieron Dwyer and Tony Moore and Jerome Opeña and any number of people that were willing to draw the story side. And so then I found a balance for a while.
Around 2005, I was writing four books and was also starting to write Dead Space for Electronic Arts. And then I was also storyboarding From Russia with Love for Electronic Arts when I was drawing a book for Bruce Campbell called a Man with the Screaming Brain at Dark Horse. Then year by year, the writing work kept coming and coming and I started turning down art jobs and then I was just full time writing. And so, then it was probably you know, I don't know about inevitable, but it was a natural transition for me. It was kind of where my head was at because I can generate a lot of ideas and I when you’re drawing you can only do so many of them. And so being able to write, I spent the last 15 years now, locked in a room typing 14 hours a day because I have to get them out. You have to spit these things out of my head. And the more I do the more I want to do. So, it’ll kill me. They say, find what you love and let it kill you. And so I'm in the midst of doing that.
Do you find it hard to find that team to take your properties to the next level?
That’s the other reason I moved to L.A.. I'm going to be involved in my shows. I'm writing a film based on one of my books. I've got another TV show in development based in one of my books. I've got a few things. I've got another one of my books going into production and starts filming soon that hasn't been announced yet. And I'm there, so that I can be as involved as possible in ensuring that the translation is pure to what the intention of the book was. And if better idea comes along, then we take the better idea. But I make sure that it's not something where I am doing a yard sale of these things that means so much to me, so that other people can come along and thumb print it and turn it into their work. It's a collaborative effort, you want them to feel that it's something that they're involved in. That everybody is having a lot of fun and as it goes down the line you have to be comfortable with letting the next line of people, you have to hire the right people. Then it's a joy, because other artists are coming in and expressing themselves with something that you lit the fuse on and you get to see their interpretation of things. You have to find a balance between being sort of protective and vetting those things and letting people be artists and express themselves. And then also making sure that you stayed sort of true to the intention and what the thing actually is.
What's your conceptualization process and organizational workflow to keep these stories as fresh and original they are and also to give these projects the time you seem to be giving them. Do you just not sleep?
(Pause and smile) It’s gnarly. I've had to turn down wonderful trips to Spain to Brazil to Ingelum to England to Canada, all over the world. I just don't have time, but I also feel like it’s an incredible blessing to be able to make art and tell stories that people actually read. I've always said I would be doing this even if it was just for my friends, there's no stopping this. Whatever it is, whatever this is that propels me to do it. I just have to do it. So being in a place where I can do it and do it the way I want to do it, and people want to pay and buy a ticket to join in on that, is such an incredible privilege. I feel like I have to do my best work on every project and that they deserve the best from me. And so, to that end what I end up doing is, 14 to 15 hours a day seven days a week and I've been doing that for so long, that's just normal now. I don't know how long I can keep it going. Maybe I've got another you know four or five years in me before I hit a wall in and my heart explodes, but for now, I'm holding it together. I've got a great team of co-showrunners and some of the best artist in the world in comic books. So provided I'm giving them great stories and able to do my best work on the dialogue end, when the pages come in, it really helps to be surrounded by incredibly talented people for sure.
You always find the perfect artist to go with your stories. How do you get these great artists lined up?
We cook up everything, I come to them with ideas. And then we bounce designs back and forth and I'll take a stab at drawing some. And they’ll take a stab a drawing some in some cases and other cases I don't draw anything. We'll talk about the characters we develop it together. So it's a partnership they co-own the properties. They are not hired hands.
In terms of finding the artist, I've been following Matteo for years before I hired him to come onto Secret Avengers with me. We had such a great time working together on Secret Avengers, I pitched him the basic idea of Black Science and he loved it and he came onboard. Black Science exists in the form that it exists in because of his dedication and his craft. You can see trade by trade of that book, you can watch him go from a really great artist to a world-class dominating force of power. He is an absolute mother-fucker. And Moreno Dinisio has been coloring him for the majority of the series, you can watch Moreno also progress from a really good colorist to probably one of the very best working colorists in the world right now. That's because of the dedication and the staytuitiveness and people who find a project they love it and they build it. There's nothing harder because the comic book industry has such a short attention span that after issue one the comic book press can't pay attention. People just can't pay attention. So, when you're keeping a book going for a long period of time, past issue 20, past issue 30, past 40, it becomes very difficult, it's a lot of work. And especially for an artist who sometimes can feel that they're working in a vacuum, doing they're very best work. But these guys just do it for the work. That's something that's beautiful about Matteo is that he manages, in a very Zen way, to turn everything else off and just make the best pages every single time.
In terms of how I find them, I'm an artist myself. I'm an art appreciator. I spend a lot of time in the art communities and on the art boards and following people. So, I have a wish list. I wanted to work with Bengal since 2008 when I saw one of his art books. And so we started talking five years ago about a book, and how to do something that was not what you expect from him. To take something in the American Southwest and modern Western mixed with Convoy mixed with Bullet, and to do something that was completely not what you expect from his wheelhouse. To push him the same way that Mobius does Western in Blueberry. And what comes out of it is spectacular. He really pushes himself to do things. He brings so many wonderful sensibilities to that book that you just don't see in most places. Or something like, Jerome Opeña and I talk about fantasy and he loved the idea. And I said, let's do a Jodorowsky style fantasy where we go nuts but at the core of it is just a really simple story, about a guy trying to get a bad guy to a place and the compromises that he's making along the way.
I got very fortunate in starting to work with Jerome. He was at the Academy of Art University when I was teaching there. His sketchbooks were being passed around and we ended up meeting each other. He came in to help out on Strange Girl, one of my very first books, and then that led to him joining us on Fear Agent. There wouldn't be Fear Agent without him. He was penciling by issue four to hold that thing together, Tony had gone off to do The Exterminators at Vertigo, and Fear Agent would have disappeared without Jerome Opeña. I'm very fortunate because not only have I found great artists, I found great friends and people that I identify with and love. And their staytuitiveness and their hard work are the reason these books exist and the reason I'm here.
We really liked your work on Captain America, with John Romita Jr., on Castaway in Dimension Z, we’d put it up there with Daredevil: Father.
Thank you, that's really high praise. Being assigned Captain America after Ed had done such a wonderful job on the series for so many years is a poison chalice and I knew it. No matter what you do, if I had emulated Ed perfectly, and had done espionage then the fans would have been pissed off. And so, I just went back through Jack Kirby's career. And I found when Jack Kirby had pissed the most fans off was when he had started being his most creative, is when he created Arnim Zola, was when Jack was unbridled off the chains fucking Jack Kirby. So, I just I reread that stuff and I said, "Alright, I'm going to do a love letter to when Jack got shit on by the fans and I'm going to do a love letter to Jack." I'm going to try to take his character and dig in to the Arnim Zola stuff he created and tell a human story that hopefully sheds a new light on Steve and gives him an adoptive son and just really ties that up and makes Arnim somebody who really matters to the cannon. And the character changes and then something feels like it was human and mattered to him and really dig into his past in a way that we haven't seen. Some people liked it, some people didn’t. All I can do with any of these things as bury in and pour my heart out and that's what I did on that. So, it's nice to hear when people dig it.
Maybe that's why we love Rick Remender's work so much. We can feel him pouring his heart out on to every page. Deadly Class is a humanly connected action-packed coming-of-age story, with an 80's punk vibe. While reading it, I can't help but hear an 80's soundtrack running throughout. Give it a read, if you haven't yet, and see what soundtrack plays in your head.
In AD 323, a fleet of Roman ships is lost in a storm, and they find themselves on the shores of the New World, one thousand years before Columbus. Unable to return home, they establish a new colony, Roma Occidens, radically altering the timeline of America and subsequent world events as seen through the eyes of one family. – Dark Horse Comics
This exploration of alt-history is what writer Justin Giampaoli calls Rome West. We sat down with Justin and talked about his first San Diego Comic-Con signing, the genesis of Rome West, and learned more about his path to getting his book published through Dark Horse Comics.
How did your first signing at San Diego Comic-Con go?
It went pretty well overall, a good mix of family and friends, and the random people that rolled through. It was the first time that the cover artist, Matt Taylor, had been to the U.S. and been to Comic-Con. I think it was a really cool experience for him.
How did you get teamed up with Matt Taylor?
I met Matt through Brian Wood. Matt had done some covers for the Rebel series at Dark Horse, the Revolutionary War comic that Brian Wood and Andrea Mutti did. And we really never considered anyone else except Matt.
Brian showed me pictures of the Rebels covers before they went to print and said, “Hey, how would you like to have this guy do to cover for Rome West?” I was like, “Yeah, sold, that's it. He's the top of my list.” Our editor approached him and made it happen.
Matt's work is really good. It's got sort of a warm depth to it that I really like, and kind of a painterly aesthetic that I feel transcends the world of comics and is almost at the level of Fine Art. It was a really great, eye-catching cover. We're really proud of it.
Brian Wood, how are you two connected? Give us a little about your path and how you got to Rome West?
The arc I'm on now started in 2005. I started a blog, Thirteen Minutes, where I reviewed comics because I just wasn't really seeing the type of critical work that I wanted to read. You sort of had the frat boy humor of Wizard magazine on the lower end of the spectrum and then you had kind of this like haughty erudition of The Comics Journal on the other side, which was very academic and there was nothing really in between.
The blog ran for 10 years from 2005 to 2015 and through the course of doing that for a decade, I met tons of writers, artists, editors, industry folks, and kind of struck up a relationship with Brian right around 2007. I've known him for more than a decade now. And that morphed into doing some editorial work; writing introductions to books, contributing to back-matter of some of his books, and other friends' books. Then in 2015, we decided to co-write a project together. After pitching a couple different things, that became Rome West. Now I'm kind of branching off and doing my own writing as well.
Do you have any other books, or projects, coming down the pike?
Nothing that has been announced, a little bit of a scoop for you. What I can say, Andrea and I will be doing another mini series at Dark Horse. We hope it's out about this time next year and it's sort of a Sci-Fi drama.
Andrea Mutti is your illustrative partner for both Rome West and this new book. You feel like there’s a solid combo there?
Andrea, again, I met through Brian, is a really prolific artist in Italy and in Europe, and he's done a lot of Italian comics. Particularly, a series of Dylan Dog, which is a huge comic in Italy that's a very long multi-year ongoing series that different people have contributed to and he's really been breaking big into American comics.
He recently relocated to the U.S. as well. He lives in Florida. That happened just this summer in July, literally like a week ago. Andrea is a great collaborator, he's full of energy. He's always willing to jump in and do thumbnail sketches, redo pages, do character designs, he's just an endless ball of energy.
I like his style because he really fills the panels with a lot of detail. He also works traditionally still, in pen and ink, and he's not digital yet. Because of that I feel like he has the ability to really load the pages with a lot of detail and he'll kind of spatter and speckle the page with flecks of ink. He has a willingness to really dirty up his pages that I think a lot of other artists don't do. That gives a lot of grit and realism to his pages.
How is the collaboration like with Andrea?
I would say it's become collaborative the more projects we've done together. Doing Rome West was really the first project I'd worked with him on, so I tended to write more full scripts and kind of went in as an egotistical writer and expected him to just follow my script. With our next project at Dark Horse I scripted a little looser and I sort of went into it asking him, “What kinds of things do you like to draw?”
He's a big Sci-Fi fan. He actually worked for the Italian government in a certain capacity that I can't really reveal but it ties directly to the nature of this book we're doing. So, he has a background in this and he was a lot more involved collaboratively in doing character designs, what to include in certain sequences, and in story.
Like I said, I'd scripted a lot looser. I will typically just tell him know, “Hey, these three things need to happen on this page. However you want to do that and whatever panel configuration that you feel would tell the story the best visually, go for it.” And so, I think we learned to trust each other a little bit more now that we've been collaborating for about three and a half years now.
Rome West is your first project to get yourselves out there and get exposure at Comic-Con. Are you going to try something different for this new book?
Not totally different, the big difference is that Rome West was serialized in a digital book at another publisher first. At Dark Horse, we went straight to trade (paperback) and it's basically being solicited as a graphic novel for the book market. Our next series at Dark Horse will be a little more of a traditional comic. That will come out as a four-issue miniseries first, we'll get to have floppies, and go on to a monthly cycle. But after that, I'm assuming it'll be collected. I'd say it's more of a traditional approach to the comic book industry.
Does Andrea plan to go to Comic-Con next year, if you two go that route?
We've talked about it loosely. We're really trying to get him out here. I'd love for him to come to San Diego. He's never been to San Diego Comic-Con before. He's done New York Comic Con a couple times. So, I'd love to be able to get him out here for our next series. Maybe line that up with a store signing as well at our local retailer.
How is it going from a creative/creator mindset to thinking about the business end of it?
I think it's been maybe a smoother transition for me than other folks trying to break in, basically, because I've had Brian Wood as a mentor. He's been in the industry for 20 plus years now. Not only did I feel like I had good mentorship from him in terms of how to approach a script and actually hammer out the writing end of it but on the business side.
I really learned a lot from him, in terms of how to interact with editors, how to pitch, how to speak to artists that are involved. I've learned more about coloring, and lettering, and color theory but also about the business side, how to self-promote, market, and particularly, how to read the contract. That’s something that you never really get trained for anywhere. But really looking critically at the contract in terms of of the big three R's, as we call it; Rights, Reversion, and Royalties are the three things you want to look for. That's been tremendously helpful and sort of eased my transition into that business end of the industry as well.
It's not a world of showing your portfolio, or sample writing, to get your story out there is it?
It really doesn't work that way anymore. Maybe at the big two but when you're talking about pitching creator-owned work, most companies now, whether it's Dark Horse, Image, or some of the smaller publishers, Black Mask, or Vault. They really want you to come to the table with an assembled creative team ready to go. In that case they want you to have writer, artist, inker, letterer, colorist, and when you're pitching they're asking for sample pages up front. So, you're no longer in the concept phase, really. They want to see finished work. Having at least half of the first issue done, maybe the whole first issue. You've really got to have the team assembled and present them somewhat of a finished concept that's ready to roll.
What’s your pitch to those who have not heard of Rome West and why should we consider it?
The pitch was basically one line. What if the Roman Empire found the New World a thousand years before Columbus? That was really the pitch and we wanted to, sort of, acknowledge the fact that in real life we had the New World, had pre-Colombian contact with the old world. Right?
We know that Vikings came over from Iceland to Greenland to Canada. But you never really heard about that in history books. And so, I started reading a bunch of different articles, I was a history nut about real Roman artifacts that were found in the New World. There's been Roman coins found in California Central Valley or in the Ohio River Valley, there was a fossilized ship down in Galveston Bay in Texas that look like a Roman Galley ship. There's been daggers found in Canada. And no one can really explain how these artifacts got to the New World.
We wanted to really create a What-if scenario that would explain how those artifacts got here. One of the things we wanted to avoid was the Roman's just coming over and exterminating, systematically, Native Americans because it wouldn't really deviate from real life and Western European colonialism. We went out of our way to look for excuses why the two cultures would coexist. Whether it was similar beliefs about the afterlife or having a polytheistic society that believe in a Pantheon of gods.
One of the early ideas I had was that I wanted to see a Cherokee Legionnaire, whatever that would look like. It's sort of was a personal challenge to me, figuring out what has to happen in the writing to get us to that point where we have a Cherokee Legionnaire. It created a great visual storytelling opportunity for Andrea to design something like that from scratch. What does a Cherokee Legionnaire look like after hundreds of years of Romans and Native Americans coexisting, and kind of creating this hybrid culture. So, there was really limitless storytelling opportunities there.
Rome West is currently individual stories, it's not a serial-based. Why this format?
Originally, it was 12 individual chapters that ran digitally. To tie it together we follow the descendants of one family through several hundred years of history as a kind of the through line from chapter to chapter to give it some cohesion and through the course of doing that we try to explore multiple different locations, multiple different characters, even multiple genres. There's a chapter that's a love story, a chapter that's a war comic, a detective story.
Is this the end of Rome West for you, did you have more planned for it?
It really depends on the interest level. There's sort of a finite story presented in the graphic novel that's currently out but we certainly have ideas for additional chapters. One of the great things we did, we tried to really build a storytelling engine, we call it, where it's something like Gotham City or the reservation in Scalped, the Jason Aaron series, where the environment, the world is the main character. We cover something like 1700 years of history in 112 pages. You could literally go up and down that time line at will and pick out any setting, any location, any character, and tell additional stories in this fictitious world. If the interest is there we would certainly be willing to do more.
Were there any stories you didn’t get to tell or really wish you had time to explore?
You know, one that I really wanted to do is a story set in the world of Rome West but it takes place in the future. Maybe at the year 2100. And one of the ideas I had is that this fictional society we created would be colonizing the moon and trying to apply the lessons learned from both the real world and the world of Rome West and colonization that occurred in the New World. And trying to apply those lessons to colonizing the moon and maybe trying to do it the right way that didn't subjugate cultures.
We always thought we got the interesting play on words, not only was it the Roman Empire, Rome West, but they were traveling, or roaming West, right? Now we could tell story where we roam to the stars. That would be a fun way to kind of punctuate the series as the final chapter.
Rome West is an unexpected take on what America could have been with commentary on how we're functioning now socially. It's an interesting mirror but even more, a thoughtful read.
The Sapphire Ballroom at San Diego’s Hilton Bayfront Hotel has been silent for a the last few minutes. Handheld digital recorders have been placed on the long table at the front of the room, a small sea of blinking red lights, ready to soak up every word our incoming guests are ready to offer up. There are around 40 of us in the room, in rows of chairs facing the long table, staring at placards with the following names written on them: Scott M. Gimple, Greg Nicotero, Andrew Lincoln, Danai Gurira, Norman Reedus, Angela Kang, Lauren Cohan and Jeffrey Dean Morgan. No one is talking, but there is a nervous rustling sound around the room, because we all know, that in a moment, we are all going to be front-and-center to the beginning of the end of Rick Grimes. We are here at Comic-Con San International San Diego 2018, and we’ve been invited to speak to the cast of AMC’s “The Walking Dead” as they prepare for season 9 of the zombie-filled apocalypse.
Executive Producer Scott M. Gimple, Director and Special Effects Make-Up Supervisor Greg Nicotero and Rick Grimes himself, Andrew Lincoln, enter the room first. We are informed that the rest of the cast has been held up at their panel in Hall H, but will arrive shortly. Comic-Con attendees have just been treated to the newest trailer for the upcoming season, which has created an anxious swell in the room.
We learn that season 9 will begin with a 2-year time jump from the end of last season, and that the survivors have taken serious steps towards bringing civilization back from the brink. Old enemies have become productive pieces of a new, flourishing community, bent on fulfilling a vision of a better future for everyone left alive. Leaders have been chosen. New relationships have been established. New faces and new stories have emerged from the wastelands.
As it so often is, however, things aren’t always what they seem. Long-standing friendships are being tested. The citizens of The Kingdom, Alexandria and The Hilltop are still dealing with unresolved tragedies. Carl is gone. Morgan has left, and is headed west, joining the cast of “Fear the Walking Dead”. Rick has been holding Negan in a cell for the last two years, which has drawn a hard line between him and the rest of his extended family. And to top it all off, it has been publicly confirmed that Andrew Lincoln is leaving the show this season, and that Rick Grimes is going to die.
Then, like a swift, barbed wire wrapped baseball bat to the head, we begin.
ANDREW LINCOLN: "Hello, hello."
When asked about the new trailer and the upcoming season, secrets are held close to the vest, but cast and creators are able to share a few things about the tone and direction or the show moving forward.
GREG NICOTERO: "It’s a slightly new timeline. It’s new, interpersonal kind of issues that lead not only to different kinds of conflicts, but seeing new character combinations so deeply tied up with each other. Even though we’ve seen these characters for years and years, we just haven’t seen this."
SCOTT GIMPLE: "We really wanted to come out of the gate this year, showing you guys the show has been reinvented. We get to see Washington D.C., and that great shot of Rick on horseback, riding through and bashing the head in of a walker. Also, with the new characters that you saw in the trailer, and that little tease at the end. For me personally, I think it’s one of the most exciting times there has been on the show in a long time, because we have this new threat that was really well introduced in the comic book, and it’s something really exciting. So, knowing that we get that little bit of a tease, I love that that’s where the show is headed. It’s just different. It’s something we’ve never done before."
We are then joined by the rest of the cast, to a raucous applause that brings the throwing of chairs, group hugs, and sharing of a single, chocolate lollipop between Andrew Lincoln and Norman Reedus. When pressed about the upcoming season, the rest of the cast joins in.
ANDREW LINCOLN: "I think we’re just telling a story, and trying to tell the best story we can."
JEFFREY DEAN MORGAN: " I think we’re going to find out a very different side of Negan. Quickly as season 9 starts. There has been a growing period in trying to figure out how he got to the position he’s been in. Is that a good thing or bad thing? I don’t know. But I think there is redemption to be had for Negan."
DANAI GURIRA: " It’s people who love each other, and it’s people who want to be on the same page, but really, really aren’t. It’s a family feud that’s actually much scarier, and feels much more volatile and dangerous. Much deeper."
LAUREN COHAN: "Honestly, it’s a whole new world. Even at the beginning of the season, and how we all interact, and how things have changed after the time jump, and how things have progressed with all these new characters, it’s like, ‘It’s still the show you know.’ We’re definitely going to see us in disagreement, but we are still a family."
ANGELA KANG: " Its huge. Its epic. Just even the art direction alone, it blows me away."
The conversation then switches to how the story of our survivors is going to move on without Rick Grimes. When asked how they will carry on, the cast hints that the upcoming season is sort-of a throwback to the series’ first episode, 8 seasons prior:
DANAI GURIRA: "I think the best way to honor Rick and Andy is to stay true to telling a really honest story, and not to go to some big bold place that’s out of the realm of that tone that we’ve been trying to connect to since he set the tone in the pilot. We were able to do that, to find those connections through characters being connected in very different ways this year than we’ve experienced in the past, and got to that very key example that he and Lennie (TWD alum, Lennie James) set in that first episode."
NORMAN REEDUS: " To stay true to Andy and to Rick, we are telling the truth. We’ve had a season or two of two guys chest bumping and shooting each other, but no one ever really killed each other. This is a very female-driven season, and it’s nice to have that happen. The stories are told in a different way. It’s less bravado and more real depth. It’s like were shooting a western with feeling. I’m loving this season."
On how long it took to decide to leave the show, and how it’s eventually going to happen, Andrew Lincoln weighs in:
ANDREW LINCOLN: " I think Lennie James is a perfect example of leaving without dying and doing rather well on it. I just saw him about 5 minutes ago and he looks terrific. (LAUGHTER) So yes, there is that way. And then there’s obviously the other way, which we’ve done quite a lot. And I’m not going to tell you which way. I mean, I’d prefer the Lennie James of it all, but I think what we have in store this season is truly remarkable, and I’m very, very proud of the work that we’ve done.
9 years I was thinking about it. I suppose it was a lot to do with a conversation that Scott and I had a few years ago. Maybe season 4, about a ‘shape’, and finding some way to complete something that was never going to be completed, and then not obviously disturbing the mothership. There was a certain sense that the story has been: 'a man waking up, so you experience this world through this one man’s eyes, and it opens up into the extended family'. Now the narrative is being freed up, and it has already been freed up from the beginning of this season. You’ll see from the trailer, it’s a different tone. It feels like the show that I always felt we would head toward when we wrapped the pilot. In short, it was something I started to think about as my children got older and less portable."
Everyone in the ballroom, actors, creators and press included, sense the end is drawing near, so the conversation swings away from the story of Rick Grimes, and towards the void that Andrew Lincoln’s inevitable departure is going to leave with his fellow castmates and crew.
NORMAN REEDUS: "You can’t take Rick’s place in the show. That’s not even possible. Everyone is branching off and doing different things, but everyone’s playing the same characters. No one is, like, “the lead now”. I don’t think we talk like that on this show."
DANAI GURIRA: " I always say this, and I truly mean I, and I say it to him as well, I truly believe this (to Lincoln) is the best leading man in television. He has made us all better. His leadership, his character, his discipline, his heart, his generosity, and his kindness have really paved a path for all of us to understand how to carry on without him, even though it’s extremely painful to. The death of the relationships that happen when Rick exits are very real, but at the same time, he has so equipped us to carry on, which is what a great leader does. So, I can’t be thankful enough for the time I’ve gotten to work with him, and learn from him, and understand him. It’s been a true joy to get to explore my character’s growth. She’s grown, basically in connection with him, since the second she meets him, and saves his ass a bunch, but because she can see the goodness and the strength and the power in this man, and how he takes on what he HAS to take on from a place of understanding of what he must do, versus any sort of ego or pride.
It’s all heartbreaking, as ‘The Walking Dead’ always is. But this is a special kind of heartbreak. The biggest yet, really. But it’s been an honor, sir (to Lincoln)."
ANDREW LINCOLN: "I’ve loved this season, and I don’t think there’s any desire to try and make it anything but telling the best story possible, and to continue the story.
I’ve loved this season so far, and I love working with all my buddies. I got to do scenes with all of my favorite people this season. And as a farewell, it was the greatest present I could’ve got. The reason I became an actor is to work with these people here. I love this relationship. After 9 years, these guys still want it to be great for you.
At the end of the panel, it sort of hit me a little bit. I got kind of choked up. It’s been 9 years of coming here (to Comic-Con). I love this place and I love seeing the fans. And you’ve been such a vital part of this experience. As I’ve said, my relationship with Mr. Grimes is far from over."
Looks like there’s hope for the future yet. Even in the apocalypse. Long live Rick Grimes.
AMC’s “The Walking Dead” returns for season 9 on Sunday, October 7, 2018. Check your providers for time and channel.
2017 was the inaugural year for Comic Con Revolution in Ontario and it was an impressive first showing. A full lineup of panels, a great mix of exhibitors and artists sharing their works, amazing cosplay and of course comics. You can’t have a real comic con without tons of comics. CCR wasn’t just full of what you’d want in a comic con but it was highly organized and presentable, something not too common. We’ve seen other first-year-conventions; they looked like it was their first year. CCR had their stuff together. What’s more impressive? CCR put it all together in only three months. (Slow clapping) Now that's impressive. With year one out of the way, a whole 12 months to prepare, and more than double the size and dates, we can’t wait to see what’s up their sleeves on when the doors open on May 19th.
We had the chance to ask the co-founders, Drew Seldin and Mike Scigliano, more about how they pulled off their first year and what they have planned for CCR Ontario in 2018 and beyond.
Convention.Life: As co-founders, Drew and Mike, tell us what Comic Con Revolution is. For those that missed out on the inaugural year in Ontario, how it is different from other pop culture conventions?
CCR: Comic Con Revolution is the culmination of years of experience working in the industry. We have been a part of so many different shows and always said if we were in charge we would have done this or we would have done that and now we are. Our shows primary focus is comics and the artists and creators who make them. Comic Con Revolution is 90% comics and 10% pop-culture. That is what makes our shows a unique experience for attendees as well as guests. People are there to meet creators and artists.
Convention.Life: How did you know Ontario was the right place and that CCR would do so well in it’s first year there? And you accomplished this in just three months, how?
CCR: To be honest, you can never know something can do what we did in year one of Comic Con Revolution Ontario. We took the time to find an untapped area like the Inland Empire, we reached out the industry’s best and brightest and planned down to the smallest details. We looked at message boards and took into account the complaints we saw and called upon our years of experience to make processes that can ruin an attendees experience and fixed them. People have lots of options when looking at shows to attend and if you can’t set your show apart with guests and back it up with great family friendly day then customers won’t comeback. As for how? Well, hard work, sleepless nights, blood pressure medication and a love for doing what we do.
Convention.Life: This year CCR Ontario is more than doubling its footprint from one exhibit hall to both halls plus the Mayoral Ballroom. What’s one new thing each of you are especially excited to share or at least tease?
CCR: Yes, we doubled the size of the show in year two but that had a lot to do with the reception we received from the Inland Empire in year one. Exhibitors were excited and the community as a whole embraced what we were doing and supported a first year 1-day show like I have never witnessed. When you have that kind of support in place it goes a long way. When we closed the show in 2017 we had pre-sold so many booths that we knew we had to grow the show. It became an easy decision and the team at the convention center was tremendous in helping us grow the show as quickly as we did. We have so much to talk about for Comic Con Revolution 2018 I don’t even know where to start.
Convention.Life: CCR talks about it being a family friendly event, what can the parents tell their young comic book fans to look forward to?
CCR: In this day and age it's important to create events for families to be able to attend together. We offer free children tickets for kids 12 and under and discounted teen tickets. It makes it affordable for a family of four or six to attend our show. Parents won’t have to worry about seeing inappropriate booths on our show floors. We avoid selling to companies that don’t have family friendly products and avoid celebrities that are outside the family friendly vibe.
Convention.Life: From the legendary Chris Claremont to hot new legends in the making like Dustin Nguyen, they're just the tip of the iceberg of talent CCR is bringing in 2018. How did you get such a star lineup in just your second year?
CCR: We have been in this industry for a long time and have met a lot of people over the years. These artists and creators know that if they come to a show of ours we will make every effort to run a professional show that provides an incredible experience for everyone that attends. Fans have plenty of choices on which shows to attend and if we don’t provide them guests like Chris Claremont or Kevin Conroy then they can spend their hard earned dollars elsewhere. In the end the show needs to be about comic fans and our goal is to make them happy.
Convention.Life: The panel schedule last year was stacked for the one day. There were so many informative and entertaining programs to choose from. Now that CCR is two days long and has more than double the space, does that mean that much more programming and workshops?
CCR: Of course it does! We have over 100 panels this year. We run the spectrum from panels for the comic collector, want-to-be artist, cosplayer, movie fan, you name it and we have it! Panels are such an important part of building a show like ours. We have a building jam packed with exhibitors, dealers, artists, celebrities etc. but some guests don’t come in for that and the panels they attend make the day a unique experience for them. In the end we want all our attendees to have that unique experience at Comic Con Revolution.
Convention.Life: CCR is currently in Ontario and West Palm Beach, are there any plans to expand into any other markets?
CCR: As the saying goes we could tell you but then we would have to kill you ☺. I am teasing and yes we have plans to expand, we will be announcing our 2019 West Palm Beach dates shortly and a new city as well. We are adding a third part of the country that we know loves comics. Stay tuned.
Convention.Life: What’s your elevator speech for those who just need that slight push to get them to go to CCR if they won’t listen to us?
CCR: If you are looking for a great affordable day of fun with the entire family, Comic Con Revolution has something for everyone. You will see incredible artists at work, amazing cosplayers and tons of pop culture items that will bring a smile to your face.
Look, we’re proud of our pop-culture passions. Not just those of us at Convention.Life. I’m talking about US: you, Convention.Lifers, and the rest of the pop culture convention-goers. We’re unapologetic and love what we love about this world. Nothing represents who we are better than a shirt that nails it. Nails that one obscure reference. Nails that look that needs you to take another look. Nails it so tastefully you can wear it almost anywhere but dang does it make a statement. Nails that statement so well when one of our own sees us wearing that shirt, they give you that, "Oh, snap, I get that shirt and it's dope" look. Then you give them that, "Yup, we cool" look right back at them. We've all had that moment and we love it.
Meet Rob and…Rob from GraphicLab Tees. They nail it. They nail it when it comes to shirt designs and, just as important, a comfortable fit. It’s that soft somewhat fitted fit, that makes you feel confident but relaxed. You know that fit.
But they don’t do it on their own. They know it takes a village of artists and they acknowledge it. Their shirts are a combination of their own designs and creations by other artists through online submissions. If the design nails it, they’ll make it and sell it, give the artist their cut and most importantly their credit. All designs have credits attributed to the artists in social postings to the signs on their convention booth. Think of Rob (x2) as curators. Wait, I got that wrong. Their tagline is, “The Cure for the Common Tee.”
I'm going on six shirts and three hats, below are my two favorites from the Robs. These are just a small sampling of what they offer. They’re always surprising us with new pieces at every convention. As for the Zombie’s design, it’s no longer available and I don’t think it will be coming back. That one is my, “I got this early in their career before they were cool” shirt. I mean, they’re still cool but I’m just saying, I knew them when...
Convention.Life's visit to 2018 WonderCon Anaheim brought us back in touch with some amazing cosplayers we haven't run into for a while, as well as some cosplayers we had the great pleasure of meeting for the first time. Here are a few:
Hailing from Arizona, Alina Masquerade rocked an inspired Rainbow Brite costume, throwing us all the way back to our favorite Saturday morning cartoons. She was also spotted in the classic Jessica Rabbit cosplay from Disney's "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" as well as the Sorceress from the "Dragon's Crown" RPG video game. This was our first time meeting her, but I'm sure it won't be the last.
LeQuan Bennett was arguably the hit of WonderCon this year, with crowds regularly gathering in the aisles to take photos with Ruby Rod, from the film "The Fifth Element". You can dress up like Ruby rod, and you can carry a cane like Ruby Rod, but LeQuan truly embodied the spirit of Ruby Rod. Chris Tucker would be proud. We were so happy to meet him. We hope to see him again sometime in the future. We are excited to see what comes next from this dynamic personality, coming out of Anchorage, Alaska.
We had the pleasure of running into one of our favorite cosplayers VertVixen this year at WonderCon at the MatterHackers booth, bringing to life artist Joe Madureira's Garrison character from the popular comic book / video game "Battle Chasers". The last time we ran into VertVixen was 2013 WonderCon, when she stole the show as one of the most realistic Wonder Woman cosplays we have ever seen.
Renetta Lloyd (aka Natty Lou Creations) comes to us from from Vista, California, and has designed and produced costumes for a number of theaters in the San Diego area. The unique vision of her creations is only rivaled by her skill to actually bring the designs to life. She was such a pleasure to meet in her inspired Dalek cosplay from the "Dr. Who" series. WonderCon was her cosplay debut, but she handled herself like a veteran. We cannot wait to see what comes next from this talented designer.