Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Guilty Pleasure Gifts For Geeks

Shopping for your nerdy pals is an easy task, especially if you yourself identify with "nerd" culture. Buying for these like-minded companions ends up feeling like shopping for yourself ("I would love to have this Indiana Jones bust, thus such-and-such will love it, too!"). There in lies the challenge to find the perfect present, the overlooked specialty item that your Doctor Who loving friend didn't notice. You could go for the obvious Sonic Screwdriver, or you could get the light up Tardis USB hub, with sound effects to boot. It's about finding a gift that isn't just what your loved one would buy for themselves; it's finding something they didn't even know they wanted, and perhaps would be a bit embarrassed to purchase in person. Below are a few items that will surprise even the most devoted fans, and guarantee that the recipient will be more than grateful for your inspired choice.

For the Spider-Man Fan:
The Spider-Man Snuggie
Where to Find It: This item was offered in Previews a few months ago, so expect to see it at your local comic book store if you are lucky. If not, several stores are offering it online as well.
Let's be honest, any Snuggie is a guilty pleasure. Frequent thrift store trips have shown that this novelty item has made its way through the gift and re-gifted cycles the past few years. Now that they come in colors other than United Airlines Blue and Leopard print, they are worth keeping around for decorative purposes as well as snuggle times. This Spidey Snuggie is too good to pass up! It will also make a great companion gift with Spider-Man coffee mug / hot chocolate combo. (If your friend is more of a DC fan, you can opt for the "Superman Comy Throw Blanket With Sleeves"). 

For the Star Wars Fan:
Star Wars Deluxe 3D Kites
Where to Find It: Amazon may be your best bet, and their supplies are limited!

I genuinely flipped out when I saw these, but guess what? I never ordered one for myself. As an impulse buy they are kind of expensive, especially for an item that has a good chance of getting stuck in your neighbor's tree. But as a gift it's the perfect excuse to fly a kite and mumble to curious passers-by that "I got it for Christmas".

For the Batman Fan:
Adult-size Batman Underoos
Where to Find It: Target, Kohl's, various online vendors
Would I be caught dead buying these in person? No. Would I be caught dead wearing these? More than likely.

For the Scott Pilgrim Fan:
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Video Game
Where to Find It: Currently for download only on PS3 and Xbox 360
This shouldn't really be on the guilty pleasure list, but I'm putting it here just because so very few people seem to appreciate this gaming gem, especially fans of the Scott Pilgrim books. I can see where some may be turned off by the meta aspect of the game-inspired-comic-turned-movie-turned-video-game, but this is one tie in that goes beyond sharing titles. It's as much fun as any great Super NES game from your childhood (think Zombies Ate My Neighbors), and just as challenging, too. Reluctant fans are missing out on a very unique entity by avoiding this downloadable game for PS3 and Xbox 360 (it's truly unfortunate, or rather just plain shitty that this is not available for download on Wii considering how many Nintendo references were in the books). Save your pals the trouble and download it for them; they'll thank you after the countless hours of enjoyment they will receive.

For the Hello Kitty Fan:
The Hello Kitty Personal Massager

Where to Find It: Ebay. Maybe.
Get it? Guilty? Pleasure? I don't think they'd turn you down, but it may be hard to get this rare item since the unintentional vibrator didn't stay on shelves very long. Here's an archived image from when it was still on sale at Amazon.

For the Doctor Who Fan:
Tardis USB Hub
Where to Find It: You'll have to special order it from your comic book store. Otherwise look for it overseas or online (even Sears has it on their website).
I was serious! This UK import would be pretty amazing on just about anyone's desk, even if they aren't a huge fan. If you want to go for a twofer, throw in the 11th Doctor coffee mug!

For the Fan Who Has Everything:

Why, a donation to your favorite nerd related charity, of course! Despite all of the "Digital Monday" shopping madness, giving to a well-deserving charity is a sure fire way to give the best gift of good karma for Christmas. Read more about The Hero Initiative, Can't Stop the Serenity, and the CBLDF at this link.

If you are still looking for the perfect gift, many of these items and several hundred other awesome presents can be found at Sci-Fi Genre. Happy Hunting!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Charities For Nerds

During tough times, the holidays are when we all throw our budgets out the window in order to show our friends and family a little appreciation. It's also the time of year when those in need are most deserving of that something extra. It's easy to forget that despite the stress from my current job and the lack of funds I face from time to time, I still have a job, something 1 in 10 adults in this country don't have. Many of those people don't have the luxery of cutting back on purchases in order to pay for Christmas presents because there is no budget to cut.

Fans of comic books are no strangers to charity. Many of our most beloved characters give of themselves selflessly year round, serving as role models for us all to aspire. We may not be able to save lives in the heroic manners that Supes and Spidey do, but the faceless charity donor makes a difference in lives, too. Since this is a blog in appreciation of all things nerdy here is a list of some of the best charities for comic book fans:

The Hero Initiative
"The Hero Initiative creates a financial safety net for comic creators who may need emergency medical aid, financial support for essentials of life, and an avenue back into paying work. Since inception, the Hero Initiative has been fortunate enough to benefit over 40 creators and their families with over $400,000 worth of much-needed aid, fueled by your contributions! It's a chance for all of us to give back something to the people who have given us so much enjoyment." 

Straight from their website, the Hero Initiative helps creators in an industry that doesn't provide health or retirement benefits for the hardworking individuals behind the scenes. I have previously written about this organization's charity auctions at conventions, which often benefit specific creators. My purchase of a life-size Batman cardboard cut-out helped a creator in need. You can help in many ways, whether it is donating directly via pay-pal, signing up to be a volunteer at one of the convention booths, or if you are a creator that would like to donate artwork for auctions they will gladly accept that too! This is a perfect opportunity to give back to the creators that have given us all so much to love.

Comic Book Legal Defense Fund

"Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection of the First Amendment rights of the comics art form and its community of retailers, creators, publishers, librarians, and readers. The CBLDF provides legal referrals, representation, advice, assistance, and education in furtherance of these goals."
You know that jar of change sitting next to the register at your local comic book store? The one you see every week but don't always bother to drop change into? That jar is what helps protect the First Amendment rights of the creators that made the comics you just purchased! It's worth donating for that reason alone, but they do more than fight outdated censorship laws. Comic book creators up against Goliath-like corporations who don't know the difference between copyright infringement and parody, store owners facing criminal charges for selling adult content to other adults, even individuals facing the entire US government for owning manga; all of these individuals have received help from the CBLDF in what would otherwise be hopelessly daunting cases. Your donations keep the scales of justice balanced and fair in a country that has a looong way to go in appreciating the art form of comic books.

Can't Stop The Serenty / Equality Now
"We are here to support equality. We hold true to the the ideas that people should “aim to misbehave” if it means doing the right thing, that a government shouldn't destroy the rights of its citizens, and that anyone can make a difference even if they don't believe it. We support our causes and do what we do because we live in countries that give us the freedom to do so. But there are other people out there who can't do what we do. So, once a year, we hold Can't Stop the Serenity: a charity screening to raise money for Equality Now."
Fans of Joss Whedon's Firefly may already be familiar with this annual event that combines love for the short lived television series with charity. Proceeds from screenings of Serenity which happen all over the world, go toward Equality Now, a foundation that raises awareness for women's rights. Joss Whedon knows a thing or two about strong women, and his fans are more than happy to help make our world a little more Whedonesque. You don't have to wait for the next year's screenings to help out; donate today!

These are only a few of the charities one can choose to contribute to this year. Whomever you decide to give your time and money, be sure that that they are legitimate representatives of a charitable organization; comic books aren't the only place you'll find diabolical individuals looking to take advantage of the giving!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Headscratching Headlines in Comics

Syke! Marvel does not plan to roll back any current titles to $2.99. Expect to see minis, one-shots, and the horrible 90's sounding "Point 1" comics at the lower price. I guess everyone feels pretty dumb for believing those Marvel editors when they claimed otherwise at recent panels. The timing did not help either considering these (now retracted) announcements came hot on the heals of DC's promise to lower all $3.99 titles back to $2.99. Well played, sirs. Dirty, but well played.

Grant Morrison appears in the new My Chemical Romance music video! I saw this a few weeks ago when the video premiered after an episode of Jersey Shore (don't judge me) and I thought maybe I was  imagining things, but a quick trip to the internet has since confirmed the cameo. His appearance isn't that surprising since Morrison is a fan of The Umbrella Academy, singer Gerard Way's awesome Dark Horse book (Morrison wrote an intro for the trade). It is possible that Grant Morrison also wrote the script for the video considering that it is an incomprehensible hot mess. It's been so long since MTV has shown videos on a regular basis, I think people have forgotten how to make good ones. I'd rather see Way working on a new comic.

Batwoman 0 will be released November 24th. Not really a headscratcher, but I thought I'd throw it in here because I can't freaking wait for this book to come out. Stupid delays from the other 27 Batman titles pushed back the release of this book, which is perturbing to say the least. No doubt it will be worth the wait!

Our Valued Customers is a pretty amazing blog, especially for anyone who has ever worked in a comic book store / visits one on a weekly basis. (Seen on Comics Alliance)

That's all I've got for now folks. Stay tuned as the barrage of end of year posts begin, and boy does this year deserve a lot of reflection....

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Comics To Keep You Up At Night

It's the day before Halloween and you don't have a costume yet; you probably aren't planning to hit the town except maybe the local video store to rent horror movies. Not all of us have the desire to dress as our favorite comic book characters, but there is an alternative to enjoying the holiday with comics in mind; seasonal reading of course! Grab a cup of pumpkin spice latte and dig into your bowl of Halloween candy while you read some of these spooky tales.

Arkham Asylum
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Dave McKean
Publisher: DC
If you like...: David Lynch films, Victorian horror stories, The Shining

One cannot have a list of eerie tales without Grant Morrison's Arkham Asylum. The Dave McKean drawn graphic novel is one hell of a creepy story no matter what time of year you pick it up. The book follows two parallel stories about Arkham; a present day Batman entering the madhouse after it has been taken over by the inmates, and a look into the asylum's troubled beginnings. This book is remembered as a classic not only for being well-written and stylistically bold (not to mention a record breaking best-seller), but at the time it pushed the boundaries for a Batman story. Prior to its release, The Killing Joke and The Dark Knight Returns delivered more violent blows than previously seen in the Batman books. But while those stories approached violence with the subtlety of a hammer, Arkham crawls under your skin and reminds you just how terrifying deranged freaks in costumes would be in real life. Whether you are re-reading this groundbreaking book or picking it up for the first time, it goes with Halloween like bats and Gotham.

The Long Halloween
Writer: Jeph Loeb
Artist: Tim Sale
Publisher: DC
If you like...: Whodunit capers, Batman stories featuring every major Batman villain ever, the early unstoppable team of Loeb / Sale

It is widely accepted amongst comic book readers that whenever Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale collaborate on a project it is a must read, and The Long Halloween is largely responsible for that assumption. In this 13-issue limited series, Batman works towards capturing the mysterious "Holiday" serial killer with clues leading to every major player in town. Although it is not very frightening, this story of murder and intrigue is a suspenseful read. Since The Long Halloween features a different holiday for each issue it's suitable for any time of year, but it begins and ends with the night of mischief. If you're interested in more ghostly tales, consider picking up Haunted Knight, a collection of Batman Halloween specials created by Loeb and Sale prior to The Long Halloween.

(For more recommendations, continue reading below.)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Halloween Costumes On The Cheap - Part VII

Peter Parker / Jimmy Olsen

These two are together since they require a lot of the same items. Both are photographers for major newspapers (albeit in different universes), and both are fans of sweater vests. Here’s what you’ll need for either costume:

  • A camera; doesn’t have to work, but an older 35mm one with a neck strap will look best
  • Khakis 
  • White shirt tucked in, with sleeves rolled up to the elbows
  • Sweater vest
  • For Jimmy Olsen, a bowtie; for Peter Parker a regular tie or none
  • Press pass with newspaper and character name on it (I found a sample of one made for Parker's Daily Bugle)
  • Manila folder containing photos (for Jimmy, blurry shots of Supes flying through the sky, Peter will have better pics of Spidey)

These costumes are so simple yet accurate, I’m disappointed there aren’t more of them at Halloween or at the cons. All of the details add up and even people who are vaguely familiar with the characters will enjoy your costume.

That's all folks, if you don't have a costume yet, you are probably planning on staying in or you are rocking your store bought costume. Either way, now you have a head start on next year for awesomely nerdy costumes!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Halloween Costumes On The Cheap - Part VI


Okay, so you kind of need to look the part for this one. But if I had blonde hair right now, I’d totally go as my favorite Slayer. I think the best way to get this costume across is to dress like Buffy during her most stylistically iconic era, that being during seasons 1-3 where she wore skirts and had a French manicure most of the time. Later seasons have her wearing a lot of turtlenecks. And Leather pants. So many leather pants! This is just a loose guideline for how to dress like Buffy:

  • Mini skirt and white tank top OR
  • A spaghetti strap dress, a red satin one will look very 90’s chic
  • Jean Jacket or skirt length shirt to wear over outfit
  • Boots. Cute ones, preferably leather knee highs
  • Manicured nails
  • Small hoop earrings
  • A big gaudy silver cross necklace
  • C ring from Angel (and these are pretty easy to find at thrift stores seeing how popular they were in the 90’s)
  • Frosty make-up (think pinks and whites)
  • The stake (this is all you really need to make the costume)

Again, without the blonde hair, you may end up looking like a Clueless extra carrying a stake. But if you can afford a wig, go for it! Everything else will be easy and inexpensive. And hey, for brunettes, just wear pants, darker make up, a push-up bra, and go as Faith!

(More comic book themed costume ideas here, here, and here!)

Faith's style remained consistently "bad-ass" throughout the series. 5x5!

Halloween Costumes On The Cheap - Part V

Matt Murdock / Daredevil


This costume is far more comfortable than Daredevil’s tight red leather suit, and is probably less embarrassing considering the general public associates that with the terrible Ben Affleck film. Here’s all you’ll need:

  • Suit, button up shirt, and red tie; nothing too flashy or expensive (he’s a lawyer but not high paid)
  • A pair of red tint sunglasses
  • A walking stick covered in red tape with a white tip (electrical tape will look best)
  • Having waves of ginger-tinged hair will help

If anyone asks who you are, just say a blind lawyer. If they don’t get it yet, they probably won’t appreciate it when you tell them you’re Daredevil. It’s also pretty easy to use the same method as the Clark Kent costume, but replacing the Superman logo t-shirt with a scarlet red tee that has “DD” on the chest. Again, a sharpie will do the trick here since his logo is nothing terribly intricate.

(More comic book themed costume ideas here, here, here, and here!)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Halloween Costumes On The Cheap - Part IV

Scott Pilgrim / Ramona Flowers

These costumes require a little more DIY action, but from the number of Scott / Ramona’s I saw at the recent Chicago Comic Con, it’s a pretty easy costume to make. If you plan to wear it this weekend, better set aside an evening to make a trip to your local thrift and drug stores. Instructions for both costumes are after the jump!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Halloween Costumes On The Cheap - Part III


It’s tough thinking of easy costumes for the ladies. There aren’t a lot of iconic alter ego costumes, and as much as I love Alias, Jessica Jones is obscure, even for comics. If you are a Neil Gaiman fan, there is a 78% chance that you already own a Death costume. Those of us who didn’t go through a Goth phase during high school can still easily come up with the necessary items:
  • All. Black. Clothes
  • Fishnets in some form will help, leggings, sleeves, shirt
  • Heavy black eye make up / lips
  • Black chipped nail polish
  • Messy dark hair (I think making it look like The Cure’s Robert Smith is best)
  • An ankh symbol necklace

The ankh charm may be the only thing you’ll have to hunt down, but I think even cutting the shape out of cardboard and painting it black will do just fine. Being pale will also help you with this costume, but with that many black accessories, short of being Jersey-Shore orange you will look the part. People who aren’t familiar with the Sandman comics will have little reason to question your costume since you will look more than appropriate for the occasion. See below for a look at one cos-player's take on Death!

Sandman - Death by *Rossassen on deviantART

*This post is a continuation of entries on cheap comic book themed Halloween costumes. See our previous posts for the Superman / Clark Kent costume and Hellbazer!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

$2.99 Comic Books - Too Little Too Late?

With the recent announcements from both DC and Marvel that they would release all new comics at $2.99, I find myself torn between feeling relief / confusion / skepticism. This drastic measure is no doubt a direct result of rumbles amongst fans and retailers alike the past few months, not to mention slumping individual issue sales. Until these changes hit the shelves, it's hard to say how this gamble will play out for the big two - will it be a winning move or a bust? Here's a look at the possible outcomes from both sides.

Cheaper Books = More Customers = More Sales

2010's mantra among fans seems to be "less is more" as pull lists have gotten shorter and shorter for many regular customers. Citing high price tags and waning interests, fans are finding that they can live without the five ongoing Avengers titles and stick to one or two. With the prices being lowered, those that dropped a title for the high price tag may decide to start reading it again. A 25% discount is pretty significant, and will be noticeable for fans perusing the shelves. It's also a sign that publishers are actually listening to fans with this sweeping price cut, and customers are likely to show their appreciation by picking up more titles at the (kind of) new, cheaper price tag. What makes this change so unique compared to other industries is the lack of competition. This is not the result of an outside company offering deeply discounted alternatives, it seems to have been done "for the fans". Of course, retailers are always open to ways of bringing in new readers, and I doubt the big two would implement such a change without the support of the comic book stores.

Cheaper books = Saving More, Not Spending More
For readers that dropped certain titles at $3.99, will they even notice when the price goes down? Unfortunately for the big two, the damage is done and there will be no going back for some customers. Once a reader finds they can drop a title and not miss it, will it matter whether or not it is cheaper? Or say the titles a customer currently reads are at $3.99. They will notice the discount once prices are lowered, but will that prompt them to pocket those savings or go back to the shelves for another title? If a reader can receive just as much satisfaction from a $10 purchase when they were previously spending $14, what's the incentive to spend the money on a new title?

In all of these possible scenarios, there is the opportunity for publishers to lure back customers that have cut back a book or two. But what about the customers that have quit reading individual issues entirely? Those folks will be a little harder to win over, especially if they no longer go to their local comic book store on a regular basis. It reminds me a lot of when Blockbuster pulled out all the stops in an effort to lure back everyone who left them for Netflix. After no-late fees, subscriptions, delivery services, and $1 kiosks, guess who recently filed for bankruptcy? It wasn't just that customers found a cheaper alternative; after being price gouged for years, the better offers weren't enough to gain renter's loyalties once again. The same could be true for fans that gave up on comics when books went from $2.99 to $3.99.

Readers, Retailers, and Creators

Without a doubt I will probably pick up a few more titles with a price decrease. Or perhaps more toys, or trades, or candy bars, whatever strikes my fancy that week. My budget is set and I like to try new things when I can afford it. I will say though, the titles that I did drop due to price I probably won't get again. Ender's Game is a perfect example. At $3.99 per issue, that title made for a tough sell when I could get it in trade form for so much cheaper. The amount of endless minis associated with the title meant I'd literally be spending close to a hundred dollars - on a series that was supposed to be six issues. A decrease in individual prices on that title will not be enough to bring me back; however, I may pick up the next science fiction classic mini that Marvel decides to release at $2.99 (Dune, Dune Dune!!!).

Unless readers buy more comics with their savings, retailers don't stand to gain much from a price decrease. Not all titles are returnable; in fact, a vast majority are not. Many stores have cut back on orders as well as selection in an effort to reduce the amount of unsold merchandise on the shelves. A smaller profit margin on all major titles doesn't seem like a very good way to help retailers' bottom line. Creators are also affected by the price reduction. A reduction in price may mean a reduction in pages. According to Marvel, they won't reduce the number of pages, but DC has vowed to reduce their 32 page titles to 30 pages to offset the price change. How does Marvel plan to cover the costs? Will creators still be paid the same per page? If these titles start coming out in newsprint (a cheaper alternative to the glossy pages currently being used) then I wouldn't question the publishers ability to lower prices; otherwise, the cost to publishers is unseen and therefore open to speculation. And that's where the "too good to be true" comes in. How are these books suddenly cheaper? Outsourcing to cheaper labor? Lay offs? Was I simply being ripped off when I paid $3.99 for the same content? Who is paying for that extra dollar now? "We'll be making less money" seems like an unlikely explanation. The paranoid consumer in me thinks it is more likely that they won't lose profits because they were making like gangbusters at $3.99 per book and a price increase from $2.99 was overkill in the first place.

I don't want to think that my demand for a cheaper product resulted in a pay decrease for someone else, or a reduction in quality. As it stands, it sort of makes buying these titles feel like going to Wal-Mart to save a few extra bucks - the savings always come at someone else's expense. At the end of the day, whether they price a title at $2.99 or $10.99 the same statement is true for me: "If it's not worth buying, it's not worth reading." I'll still only buy a book for what I feel it is worth, and despite Marvel and DC's generous offer to lower their prices, there is no guarantee my saved pennies will go back to them.

The above image was taken at King's Comics in Sydney, Australia, the land of always-expensive-comics.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Halloween Costumes On The Cheap Part II


Unless you run in knowledgeably nerdy circles, this costume probably won’t be easily recognized. Random strangers on the street may recognize the name Constantine but they will be confused when they see you don’t look / act like the Keanu Reeves catastrophe. But for the H-Blazer fans that see you on Halloween, this obscure costume is sure to leave a lasting impression. Here’s what you’ll need:
  • A tan trench coat
  • Black pants and suit jacket
  • Black thin tie
  • Pack of cigarettes
  • A cross
  • A small bible
  • Vial of holy water (a clear hotel size shampoo bottle filled with water marked “holy water” will work great)
  • Carefully disheveled hair
  • British accent

This costume is all about attitude. No gimmicks, no “ah-ha” moments upon viewing. You simply have to be the character. With the necessary props and a reluctantly badass attitude, once they realize who you are, comic book fans in the know will love you forever. If you have an equally nerdy pal willing to go along with it, have him dress up as a cabbie and be Chaz for the night.

*This posts is a continuation of entries on cheap comic book themed Halloween costumes. See our previous post for the Superman / Clark Kent costume!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Halloween Costumes On The Cheap

Not willing to splurge on the $100 Batsuit with utility belt? Want to avoid the embarrassment of going to a party dressed in the same Joker costume as your co-worker? Or are you simply too broke to go for a store bought costume? There are plenty of comic book character costumes you can make from items in your own closet. Keep checking back as I will continue posting ideas until the holiday weekend arrives!

Clark Kent

It may not be as fun to dress up as Superman’s alter ego, but you’ll certainly get more props for creativity. And let’s be honest, most of us can pull off Clark more easily than Kal-el. Here’s what you’ll need: 
  • Jacket and dress pants
  • A button up dress shirt
  • Red or blue tie you won’t mind parting ways with
  • Some bendable wire, or a thin wire hanger
  • Black rimmed glasses
  • Superman logo t-shirt
  • Two safety pins

Most of these items are pretty self-explanatory (glasses, suit) but what makes this an awesome costume is that everyone will know it’s Superman, but you won’t have to wear a cape and blue tights. Put the superman t-shirt on beneath your suit and dress shirt. Leave the top four or five buttons on your shirt unbuttoned, pulling the middle out towards your armpits. Gather the edges and pin these parts down or, if you have yet to guess where this is going, pin it where you would be pulling open your shirt to reveal Supe’s costume. Lastly, the tie! This will really complete the costume. Tie it around your neck, loosely. You want it to be around your collar, but not too tight, as it should be comfortable. Make a small cut one-inch from the bottom of each end of your tie, preferably at the back where it will be hidden. After straightening out your thin bendable wire, cute it in half. Push each of the wires through the small holes until they reach the knot. Cut the wire where it will touch the end of your tie then tuck it into the hole, bending the wire if necessary. This will now make it possible for you to bend the wire, and the tie along with it, to create a “blowing in the wind” effect. Voila! You have one epic costume on your hands. 

Another tip, this works just as well for a Supergirl costume. I did this a few years ago as inspired by the fantastic Adam Hughes Supergirl mini-bust from the Women of DC series of statuettes.

The most expensive part of this costume? The wig rental at $20

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

24 Hour Comics Day - Chicago

Update 10/21/10: Here is a link to the completed comics created at Graham Crackers Comics in Edgewater, along with a video shot on location by Cameron Keleher!

Busy, busy artists at Challengers Comics
With the changing of the leaves comes the desire to lock one's self inside their apartment and hibernate for several months (at least that is the urge here in Chicago, where the nightly temperature is dipping closer to 30 degrees every night). Perhaps that is why 24 Hour Comics Day works so well as an annual fall event; it's a great catalyst to keep creators motivated during the cold winter months. Here's the gist of the project: create a 24-page comic book in 24 hours. The experience forces artists to finish a complete comic book, typos, scribbles and all. No more putting off that idea, or waiting to be inspired. Besides the opportunity to overcome creative blocks it's also great exposure, with all of the completed works scanned and hosted on websites for public viewing (see above links), and a few are selected each year for publishing, though these anthologies have not been collected the last few years (thanks friendly reader!).

This year the event was held on a particularly windy and rainy day in Chicago, the kind of perfect weather to be stuck inside of a comic book store creating non-stop for a day. I was able to catch the artists in action at Graham Crackers Comics in Edgewater, as well as Challengers Comics in Bucktown. (The only other store within city limits that participated was The Comics Vault, and unfortunately I was unable to make it out to their store.) Between the two stores I witnessed close to 30 comic book illustrators hard at work. Their experiences varied from professionals like Mike Norton and Chris Burnham to amateurs not yet old enough to see PG-13 films. Everyone brought his or her own methods to attacking the task at hand. Some came prepared with thumbnails, ready to do the final sketches, while others showed up without the slightest clue as to what would be their story. Several hours into the day artists had concepts such as, “This Predator is an outsider on his planet,” or “One word: Batrace.” (I’m betting both of these stories will be stimulating reads once they are put online.) Though pencils and ink were the most popular tools amongst artists, there were at least a few working digitally with Wacom tablets, a handful of brave souls attempting to color their works, and there was no general consensus for artwork size.

The best way to describe what it’s like to view a few dozen artists feverishly working round the clock is to say it’s like visiting a comic book factory. You get to see everything from start to finish, and by the end of the tour you are very anxious to sample the goods. Of course, comic book factories don’t really have artists on an assembly line, handing pages off to the press (maybe in Japan). No, this is more like how a 7 or 8 year old imagines a comic book factory, making it a lot cooler than the reality of publishing on a large scale. If this event doesn’t make you want to read comics, the sequential arts might not be the hobby for you.

In addition to a strong urge to read comics, 24 Hour Comics Day gave me a great respect for the creators, and particularly for their courage to actually draw in public. The thought of doing this gives me sweaty, sweaty palms. Hopefully next year I can work up the courage to attempt to join in the fun; my lack of skills aside, the ambition shared by participants was contagious. Here are some more pictures of artists hard at work to get you excited for next year!

Graham Crackers, Edgewater - More artists came as the day continued, but these are the dedicated early birds
I didn't see this guy get up once for a break ( I was only there for 4 hours though)
More pictures from Graham Crackers and Challengers Comics after the jump...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The End Is Nigh... And Other Popular Headlines

Less aimlessness, more reading!
I've been a little preoccupied lately with "real life" to read my comics as of late (see previous post), and it has also put me behind on following the industry. Boy have things gotten ugly in my RSS feed. Science has yet to prove this theory, but negativity is a contagious and all-consuming force. It's why bad reviews seem to get more attention than the glowing ones; and why painfully embarrassing moments caught on film are so popular on YouTube. We are a race enamored with bad news; that's how a fiasco like the Balloon Boy incident can garner three hour non-stop coverage on CNN. When it was revealed to be a hoax, people were pissed because they can stomach needless tragedy more easily than intentional stupidity.

That was a bit of a tangent, but I am making a valid comparison: coverage of the comic book industry is susceptible to sweeping negativity just like any other media coverage. Is the industry really headed towards inevitable doom as some have implied, or are sales down because like everything else, the economy sucks right now? True or not, the rash of stories focusing on a changing tide certainly could fall under the sensationalistic category (and yes, I realize that writing this post does contribute to the Debbie Downer mentality). Here are several of the blog posts with tones ranging from "sales are down" to "farewell to the serialized medium":

8/ 28/10 Bleeding Cool - A New “Name Withheld” For The Comics Industry
8/31/10 4thletter! - Darwyn Cooke on Cape Comix  
9/9/10 CBR - Quitters and Cutters 
9/10/10 Techland - Emanata: The High Cost of Comics 
9/13/10 The Comics Reporter - Comics Industry Picking Up Its Own 2012ish Doomapocalyptigeddon Vibe 
Update* 9/14/10 Comics Alliance - Comic Sales Plummet, No Issue Breaks 100K in August

I do think that some valid points are being made here - many customers are looking at their pull list a little more carefully these days, myself included. But this whole "mad as hell" mentality feels a lot like another group of disenchanted individuals. Is this the Tea Party movement for the comic book industry? Well, maybe not quite. If we see fans complaining that there are too many minority characters getting redistributed story space, then we're in trouble. What does worry me is the constant "can't things be like they were in 1978" mantra, or any other year of which you feel most fondly. Yes, comics are more expensive. And believe it or not, styles evolve and change, and that includes how writers treat the characters. But what people never seem to own up to is that 95% of everything sucks, always. This is a fact people. I may be fudging the numbers, but the majority of what is popular today will not stand the test of time. This applies to movies, musics, television, comics, and any other mass-produced art form. Even wildly revered works may seem dated in ten years (if that). How many of you look at the comics you bought in the 90's and think, "What drug was I on when I purchased this series?" Or, if you actually give those books a second read, realize they are enjoyable purely for nostalgic purposes? Let's not kid ourselves into thinking that we live in a drought of talent these days. Writers and artists complaining about the industry they work in is pretty normal, until you get into the kind of broad sweeping statements like "All super hero comics sux!" (those were not Mark Waid's exact words, but here they are for those who are curious). We live in a time when money is tight and we expect more for it, so let's not pretend we've all acquired better taste over night.

Lastly, there are good books out there, so stop complaining. Talk to your local comic book shop owner, and they will set you straight. I'll also do my part and promise to only write about the comics I actually enjoy - for the next month.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Nerd Wedding

Hello everyone.

I think we can get a little personal now since I am writing this post about getting married. Before heading to Chicago Comic Con (or previously Wizard World Chicago) on Saturday, August 21st, my husband and I boldly went where neither one of us have gone before. To make things nerdier, we held our Star Trek themed nuptials at Challengers Comics+Conversation where co-owner Pat Brower officiated the ceremony. We will be having a more traditional ceremony for our families in about a years time, but as far as custom made weddings are concerned, this could not have been more perfect for us. There was even a Borg cube cake! A special thanks to Pat for going above and beyond our requests; and to Michelle, Molly, Shelby and Dane for participating, especially Molly for making the delicious wedding day desserts. You can view images and video of the short ceremony below:

The Vulcan taking photographs was my cousin, Veronica. I constructed both her's, mine, and my husband's uniforms.The bridesmaids and best man purchased their own.
The away team before the ceremony (I was taking the photo)
Post ceremony glow
This vegan Borg cube cake has been assimilated!

Since I'm still living the transitory lifestyle, I have yet to get this whole blogging-on-a-regular-basis thing down. But after one year, I think I've had enough practice to start kicking things into high gear. And I'm married now, so you know, automatically more grown up. Expect more frequent updates starting....now!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World - Dare I Say The Perfect Adaptation?

Perhaps for me to write an unbiased review, I should wait for this big stupid grin to leave my face. But I'm certain my love for this film won't diminish any time soon, might as well write it now while the film is still fresh in my mind. Firstly, this movie could not have come at a better time. I have been suffering from a disease shared by many movie goers and comic book fans alike called "adaptation fatigue". I've encountered so many poor translations in recent memory, that I don't even bother seeing all of the comic-to-movie adaptations these days. The Losers, in my queue. Kick-Ass, waiting to be watched. Wolverine, yeah. I still haven't seen it. Even the movies that usually deliver the well-adapted goods have disappointed, such as the most recent Harry Potter film. (Any fan of the book who claims to have enjoyed The Half-Blood Prince movie is certifiably insane - it was awful.) Enough about those movies that I have been too lazy or uninterested to see, it's killing my post-Scott Pilgrim high. From the first trailer, I knew this was one film I wasn't going to wait for the dvd, and now after seeing it, I plan to see it again in theaters. I can't even remember the last film I saw at the movies twice.

Since I have yet to hear one person utter their disappointment with this film, I'll focus on why this movie may be the best comic to film adaptation ever. (That being said, if you haven't read the books, you may not appreciate many of the points made in this review. Please feel free to read ahead, it may interest you enough to make you read the books!) Scott Pilgrim vs. The World shows that devoted fans and your average movie goers can both be pleased without compromising either groups' interests. Some filmmakers (or maybe producers) look at comic books as ready made films, storyboards to be shot. In rare instances, this  has resulted in interesting films, such as Sin City. Other attempts to rigorously follow the source material have had far more boring results (see Watchmen - then again don't. Because it was a soulless film that turned out to be more two dimensional than its comic book counterpart). Edgar Wright managed to follow the books very closely, frequently including exact visuals and dialogue, but there were still plenty of new additions to the film. In other words, it wasn't a two hour long nod to the fans - but it was. The divergences made sense, whether to adjust to the pacing of a film, or flesh out the characters in the series. No matter how perfectly Michael Cera portrayed Scott Pilgrim (and I think he does a fine job), it could have come across very flatly if it had been an exact copy of the character from the book. I also think Scott would have seemed far more unlikeable in the film, where as with the books we have time to reconcile his actions and understand his internal struggle better than what could have been done on film. As much as I loved the visual of Scott recalling his past relationships flippantly as Mario-tinged fantasies, this would have been downright cruel on film. And instead of having Scott absorb his Nega-Scott as he does in the final book (actually quite a touching moment), Wright chooses to show Scott happily making plans for brunch with himself, a humorous take that matches the tone of the film, but still shows Scott "growing up". These are just a few of the many ways the movie struck a perfect balance between staying true to the intent behind the series while proving that copying the books isn't the only option available.

I don't think this movie resonates as a great adaptation just because it maintained the original tone of the books; Wright's unique vision added quite a lot to the story. If Bryan Lee O'Malley's books encapsulate how love feels at 24, then Edgar Wright's film most successfully shows one's experiences at 17. More specifically, is Wright secretly a 17-year-old girl? Because his take on Knives Chau was spot on. Though much of what was included was exactly from the book, where O'Malley left Knives (still a giddy schoolgirl leaving for college and "over" Scott), Wright took her and made her a believable character. From what I recall, and 17 wasn't that long ago for me, falling in love didn't feel so inconsequential at that age. Knives deals with rejection in the film in the same ways as she does in the books (calling Ramona "fat", changing her look to be more like Ramona, envying Envy Adams), and her heartbreak is still used as a point of humor, but I felt more strongly for her since she has some  redemption at the end of the movie. In the book, it is Envy that gives (and receives) closure to Scott. But in the film this role is filled by Knives, a character that truly deserves that ending since she is the first of Scott's relationships we are introduced to in volume 1. Reading the series, I never thought about how devastating Knives' situation would have been to me at that age. I found myself relating more to her than Ramona at the end of the film. This was all re-affirmed by the filmmaker's choice to use Broken Social Scene's "Anthems For a Seventeen Year Old Girl" as Knives, broken-hearted, looks at Scott at the end of the film. Well played, sir.

The more superficial aspects that made this film amazing, from the 8-bit version of the Universal theme and logo, the Beck penned Sex Bob-Bomb musical numbers (the opening scene gave me goosebumps), to the countless references to Zelda and other games, these were just the cherries on top of an already well made movie. I expected it to be as good as the books, but I never thought I'd be lucky enough to see something as original to rival them. After many disappointments, I'm happy to see that Hollywood can still hit the mark once in a while. Let's just hope audiences come around and see it while they can.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Remember When X-Men Didn't Suck?

Yeah, me too.

Preview of the upcoming X-Men / Vampire storyline

Comparison of Ultimate Avengers 3 and current X-Men vampire themed stories

A swell summary from Savage Critics of how the current x-book offerings are so very very awful

In other less depressing news, here are some more details about the upcoming Batwoman series! Batwoman #0 will be hitting shelves in November as a bridge between the character's stint in Detective Comics and the upcoming solo series, scheduled for a February release. That's a book worth marking your calendar for, folks!

Friday, July 23, 2010

SDCC 2010: Announcements Worth Noting

What makes it bearable for fans like myself who miss the International Comic Con year after year? Why the squeal-inducing announcements made by publishers of course! Press releases throughout the year by Marvel, DC, and increasingly, movie studios, are just business as usual; San Diego is where things get serious. Or seriously awesome. Often both! These are some of the noteworthy announcements thus far, with more to come:

Batwoman is finally coming! I didn't want to get my hopes up until I saw some artwork, and now I can officially start getting excited. Technically this isn't a San Diego announcement as it was posted on DC's blog The Source a few days ago, but as they note, the timing is close enough. 

The Walking Dead television series for AMC has a trailer! Though the footage has yet to hit the internet, (see below) the mere thought of seeing this in the near future is enough to send my heart aflutter. Even more exciting, Bear McCreary is doing the soundtrack! For those of you who don't follow composers, McCreary is responsible for one of the best series soundtracks ever for Battlestar Gallactica.
UPDATE 7/24/10: Until a better version hits the internets, here's what we got...and trust me, the sheer awesomeness of the trailer transcends the shaky cam video. (You can view the trailer after the jump!)

World War Z is being made into a film! Written by Max Brooks, WWZ is a detailed account of the fictional zombie apocalypse as told by its survivors. This announcement is kind of bittersweet for two reasons. Firstly, Brad Pitt is set to "star" in the adaptation. Not sure how a book told from several dozen perspectives will have a star, and Brad Pitt's attempts to turn into a character actor the past few years have proved less than impressive. Secondly, Quantum of Solace director Marc Foster is set to helm the film. Considering what a snooze-fest that 007 film turned out to be, I'm hoping this turns out better than it sounds.

Marvel's Strange Tales anthology is getting a second volume! On top of the fantastic news that we get to read more of these hysterical takes on Marvel characters from top indie creators, the three issue mini will be ad-free!

In an ongoing effort to showcase nerdom positively, here are some photos by con-goers, of con-goers at SDCC. See lots more after the jump!

If Josh Brolin took over the role of Tony Stark....

Friday, July 16, 2010

Spotlight on Stores: Greater Dayton Area

After many years leading a nomadic lifestyle, one thing I have come to appreciate is the unusually large selection of comic book stores here in the Dayton area. From the long running Funny Books in Vandalia, to Maverick's, the only comic book store that was open on New Year's Day of 2003, it has always been easy finding what one wants. As a teenager, most of my purchases were made at the infamous Bookery Fantasy, as well as Dragon's Lair, a store that unfortunately closed down after 30+ years because as rumor has it, the owners divorced. Since leaving Ohio for school (and to generally maintain my sanity), a lot of new blood has come into the area. Friendly staff and a "new school" feel to these young establishments make them must-see stops for locals and out of towners alike.

1. TAF Toys Action Figures

Closed Monday
Tues: 12 - 5
Wed: 12 - 7
Thurs:12 - 7
Fri: 12 - 7
Sat: 12 - 5
Closed Sunday

37 S. St. Clair
Dayton, Ohio US

TAF first established an online presence before opening its doors, as the owners began with an ebay store. Though much of their sales are still online, nothing compares to seeing firsthand this mecca of toys and graphic novels. When it comes to action figures, TAF has the most knowledgeable owner of any store I've been to, making it perfect for collectors of rare toys. Looking for the final piece of your Fin Fang Foom? They probably have it. Want the San Diego Comic Con exclusive Joker figure? I know they have it. How about the Back to the Future II mini mates? Yup.

TAF manages to pack a punch with their limited space, so don't expect your browsing to be quick.
Toys! Trades! More than meets the eye!
Seen at the above right is the store's owner, along with my recent purchase of the Gotham Central HC.
 If you are in TAF and can't find the toy you're looking for, then it doesn't exist.

As much as I love toys, I'm far from a collector. But TAF has plenty to offer your average comic book reader as well. A whoooole lot of graphic novels, and most, if not all, are 50% off.  I would love to see this store establish itself and stick around the area, but they have recently started to cut back on orders. This may simply be a case of the owners deciding to focus exclusively on toys - but it is a bit worrying. They have stopped ordering comics except for pre-order, so don't expect to find individual issues on their shelves. It's still well worth a visit for their unique toy offerings, or graphic novel bargain hunting, and you'll keep coming back for the friendly staff. (Keep in mind, if you really love this store, they will still sign up new club members! Just make sure you put down everything you want on your pull list cause you won't be able to grab it off of the shelf here).

2. Bell, Book, & Comic

Closed Mondays
Tue: 11 - 8
Wed:11 - 8
Thu: 11 - 8
Fri: 11 - 11
Sat: 11 - 8
Sun: 12 - 6

458 Patterson Rd.
Dayton, OH 45419

If Cheers were a comic book store filled with enthusiastic fans and gamers instead of barflies, it might look something like Bell, Book, & Comic. My first visit to this store was on FCBD of this year, and I was  blown away by the welcoming atmosphere of this store. Customers are obviously comfortable when they lazily lounge on couches in the gaming room, and are on a first name basis with the store pets. It's the kind of store you want to come back to, just to hang out. In an industry with customers that continue to age, an inviting vibe is rare and also necessary to the survival of brick and mortar stores. Comics are no longer reaching millions of children through news stands and 7/11's, or attracting hoards of speculators out to make money on "collector's item". The industry needs stores like Bell Book to keep readers coming back, for comics, for trades, for toys, and above all, the interactive experience that is unique to buying comics face to face. I think many long-established stores have a hard time maintaining this kind of environment, as owners can become bitter about the industry or lose interest in comics. Nothing says "time to retire" like complaining to customers about the industry you work in. It's called "new management" and it can save your business from dying with you. But I digress. This is definitely NOT that kind of store. They've been around for seven years yet the staff has the enthusiasm of young go-getters, with the experience to bring you what you need.
During FCBD Bell, Book, & Comics was pretty bumpin', even at 6pm
You can just tell this guy is ready to help you pick the perfect die.
Dr. Crusher AND Diana Troi? Yes Please!
If you don't come here for the company, then you'll be more than happy with the merchandise. Tons of well organized back issues, an exceptional selection of new titles and trades, and pretty much anything you need to meet your gaming requirements. In fact, they have so many awesome products I have a hard time leaving this store empty handed. My most recent find? Parker: The Hunter HC for $10. This store has a lot of good things going for it; here's hoping they can keep it up.

3. Superfly Comics

Mon: 12 - 7
Tues: 12 - 7
Wed: 11 - 8
Thurs: 11 - 8
Fri: 11 - 8
Sat: 11 - 8
Sun: 12 - 7

132 Dayton Street
Yellow Springs, Oh
(937) 767-1445

Superfly may be the newest store to the area, but don't let that fact make you hesitant to visit. If there was any learning curve for this new business, they exceeded it shortly after opening three years ago. As the name implies, Superfly is very laid back, which isn't surprising considering they are located in the hippie centric town of Yellow Springs, about half an hour away from Dayton. So what makes this store worth traveling off the beaten path? Because the people who own the store don't follow the beaten path, and that's a good thing for us, the hungry customers. For instance, notice that they are the only store open on Monday. This is fantastic for readers like myself who shop on days that aren't Wednesday. Don't get me wrong, I love the scent of fresh new comics like most fans, but because my books are pulled at an out of state store, I can browse any day I want and not have to worry about my favorite title selling out. And I have Monday's off. So this store? On my good list just for that.

On a personal note, the above gentleman was my boyfriend when I took this photo. Later that day we became engaged!
Joss Whedon + Usagi Yojimbo
Here is another store featuring their $1.00 comic section - smart.
Yes, they made a comic book feat. that captain from Generations who bravely relinquishes power to Captain Kirk. Okay....getting off topic. Superfly is great!

Winning over new customers with convenience is a smart move on Superfly's part, but it's not what makes you want to stay. It's well lit (owners: this DOES matter in setting the tone for you store), so you don't feel like you're in a casino / basement while you shop, and everything is very well organized. Also, did you see the Joss Whedon section? Bonus points, right there. The staff is friendly, but they'll let you browse in peace, and they host super awesome events like a midnight release for the final volume of Scott Pilgrim. Which is great for fans like myself who thought the book was coming out this week because it shipped this week. Instead of feeling like an idiot for showing up on the wrong day, I will benefit from the situation! Look for coverage of this event next week as I venture to my first midnight (comic book) release.

To be continued with Part II where we focus on stores established in an earlier era, the "old school" if you please.

Monday, July 12, 2010

A Fond Farewell to Harvey Pekar

I hate to update the blog with sad news, and I'm sure many readers will have already heard by now, but Harvey Pekar, author of American Splendor, has passed away at age 70. The cause of death has yet to be determined. Since Harvey's body of work revolved so heavily around his own experiences, there is something particularly tragic about his death. How will Harvey's story end? We'll never again see where life takes him, or have the pleasure of reading stories with his unique, yet relate able perspective. For many fans, reading American Splendor was as close as they'll get to reading about themselves. His experiences and feelings were shared by many, regardless of age, background, or comic book preference. We've all hated our jobs, felt frustrated by the mind-boggling actions of strangers, or just felt like our purpose in life wasn't clear. Harvey felt all of those things, and even though his incites may have been a simple matter of expressing what he felt, the honesty of his observations remains unique among comics, or any other art form for that matter. His influence has been significant, and I doubt that other fantastic autobiographical works like Fun Home or Blankets would have been created if it weren't for Harvey having the courage to put himself out there in the first place. People will continue to share their own stories in comics, but none will be Harvey's. And for that, even if it's just for a day, we can all feel a little bit lost.

For a few words from someone who knew Harvey personally, here is a link to Alison Blechdel's blog, author of Fun Home.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Con Season Always Guarantees One Thing...

....a chance to see the comics industry through the distorted view of the mass media! Yay! As more cons garner coverage from traditional media outlets (IMDB has San Diego Comic Con coverage on their front page), opportunities for the the industry and fans to be seen in new ways are squandered, and con attendees are often presented in a not so pleasant light. Features lean towards the goofy and / or scantily clad, and creators are almost never showcased. Whether the spotlight is on fans, vendors, or special celebrity guests, the photographs are almost never flattering. Although fans relish the opportunity for their hard work to be seen by the masses, it's safe to say that most cos-players would rather have their costumes unseen than have it in the local newspaper, poorly photographed. Just look at this year's Philadelphia Comic Con coverage from this local Philly news website:
For all we know, this (surprised) fan is dressed as The First Slayer. The vague caption and unnecessary cropping makes this image a bit ambiguous, even for comic book fans who have a better chance of guessing correctly. Any takers?
Actually a fairly decent photograph of a convention goer! It's an obvious Star Trek fan, and having been taken outside, the lighting is definitely fan / viewer friendly.
And then we have this. Another image we are left guessing at the costumes (okay, Batgirl and then....Black Cat?) this time because of the poor lighting. Most cameras actually come with flashes these days, so I'm not quite sure what happened here. Also, it's called Levels. They are adjustable.
Condescending captions are also an added benefit of convention coverage. Here's what the photographer / editor had to say about this vendor: "Before Comic-Cons got huge, this is what they were all about. Guys who know way more than you about comics selling you issues you'd never be able to get without their help. " News flash, conventions are still about these guys. Cons wouldn't be "huge" without them.
Though I'm sure this Imperial Officer cos-player considers herself a babe, I'm betting she wouldn't choose to be relegated to the "Wizard World's Hottest Hotties" slide show. Or to the caption alluding to the possible S&M tendencies her costume promises.

Not every news outlet misses the mark. Dread Central does a good job at attempting to show the Philly con goers positively (their photographer used their flash for one), and even though there is still a strong focus on the costumes and celebrities, there aren't condescending captions about fans and no eye-rolling commentary about the vendors. There is plenty of room for improvement though, like actually having pictures of vendors and creators. Of course, Dread Central also appears to be more fan oriented and not run by anyone associated with Newscorp or Time Warner.

In all,  the experience of finding con coverage in mass media is one of excitement, followed by frustration at the distorted view outsiders sometimes bring to their coverage. Not sure about a costume? Ask. Want to give a well-rounded view of a convention? Try actually covering all aspects of the show, or if you are dead set on focusing on Wizard World's Hottest Hotties, then don't have any pretenses and just do that. But above all, don't put blurry, dark photos as your final presentation of the event. It reflects poorly on both the fans and the organization covering the event. The people attending these shows are passionate about the industry and often put news outlets to shame by creating images as interesting as their subjects. Each year it does get a little better, and the coverage, good or bad, increases the public knowledge of comics. Despite how atrocious some of the images and captions were on My PHL 17's coverage of the convention, I'm still happy to see them sending people out and giving it as much attention as they did. Let's just hope next year the editorial department handles the subjects with a little more respect.

Here's a good example of what a talented photographer and comic book fan can bring to the table. Check out more of Lucianno Noble II's photos here with photos from his visit to San Diego Comic Con '08.