Friday, March 30, 2007

SUPER REAL NOTES - Emerald City Comicon this weekend!

It's time for the fifth annual Emerald City Comicon, the Pacific Northwest's largest comic show!

As usual, there's a never ending lineup of top notch guests (including my all time fave creator, Michael Golden!), the show really goes all out in that department.

I'll have a table in the artist alley this year, table 203, which looks to be at the front of the con hall right as you come into the area!

Looking forward to meeting friends and fans all weekend!
Stop by and say hey if you're at the con!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

SUPER REAL NOTES - Review-o-rama!

A couple weeks after the books came out, Super Real VS The Comic Book Industry is piling up some reviews...

Here are 3 more that have hit over the last couple days, 2 reviews are some of the best I've received for the series, and one just didn't like the sidetrack/detour the special took. Have a look!


First up we have a review over on BROKENFRONTIER.com from columnist and Super Real fan Jason Berek Lewis -
Martin’s comedic writing skills get stronger with each issue.
and
Martin has rewarded his dogged fans with a light, entertaining special that gives indie talent a chance to shine. He is a true champion of independent comics, and Super Real is a winning read every time.
Please check out the full review HERE
(and you can post your own comments via the link in the forums there too)


Next we have a review in the weekly PAPERBACKREADER.com column STRAY VOLTAGE by Dan Head -
I dug this issue the most, and I recommend it highly to anyone with an even half-developed sense of humor.
and
The sense of playfulness in this book shines through from start to finish, making this one a real winner.
Please view the whole review HERE


And last, the not so swell review from Marc Mason's THECOMICSWAITINGROOM.com -
SUPER REAL is a book that is very much worth your time, but ultimately this digression for the series doesn’t pay off.

Marc just wasn't feeling the art here most of all, and the different tone, which is fine, you can't please em all. :)
Check out the full review HERE

Oh, and I almost forgot, found this one the other day while Googling the Special...
A podcast review from COMICNEWSINSIDER.com, episode 81 features a review of the special from the review pair, and while they go on about liking the book and wanting to check out the regular series, when it comes time to rate it (via a 3 tiered soundbyte rating system), they only gave it two "MEH's" (middle rating)... come on guys, you know you liked it better than MEH!! ;)
You can check out their podcast HERE (remember it's Episode 81)

So, 2 loved it's, an it was good but not great, and an "I like the series, but the special didn't do it for me"... to paraphrase.
Not bad!

STAY TUNED,
jason

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

TALES FROM NETFLIX - March

Time for another helping of overlooked gems from DVDland...

ALTERED - My wife added this to the queue, I'd never heard of it, turns out it's a horror/sci-fi genre piece from the writer/director of the massive indie hit THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT. Apparently his first offering since that little low budget creative dynamo... Eduardo Sanchez helms a more polished effort, that takes familiar genres, again to new territory. I don't want to explain much of the story, as it's a treat to watch unfold, but it focuses on a group of young men, and their past with supposed abduction, of the alien kind.

Altered is well written, well shot, and well executed in the plot department. It's full of nice touches on troupes of the genres we all know and have seen before, that makes for an enjoyable and fairly edge-of-your-seat thrill-ride through one dark evening in the boonies. Sound familiar? Well, yes, that could be the Blair Witch summary, but Altered more than stands on it's own.

This is really worth checking out if you like cool little sci-fi or horror work.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Check out the film's website HERE

LOGAN'S RUN (1976) - This is another one of those movies I, a genre loving disciple, should've seen in my 30 odd years of movie viewing, but am embarrassed to admit I haven't. I always thought I'd seen this, just too far back to recall, and had envisioned it as something entirely different than what it was. Any way, I had the pleasure of catching this on TCM's Oscar movies month a little while back, and of course, am glad I did.

While the special effects, wardrobe, and style at work in the movie are certainly dated, LR holds up really well 30 years later, certainly not near as much as 77's Star Wars (thanks to Lucas' groundbreaking special effects), but mostly thanks to the moral and societal themes present in the distant future tale. I can see why Bryan Singer was attached to remake this, the plot is very interesting.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

NIGHT OF THE LIVING DORKS - Just released, this 2004 German high school comedy mixes zombies into the formula to enjoyable results. It's well filmed, has a nice cast, and a fun story. It's full of some fun moments where they play with the central casts (a group of 3 high school friends) circumstance, they've been turned into flesh eating zombies but no one knows.

Unfortunately, it never really goes much of anywhere (not that you'd expect it to), or does too much with the concept, but it is none-the-less a cool sidetrack through the zombie genre, that will please zombie fans, or those who enjoy some goofy 80's style horror themed fun. Did I mention it's lots of fun!?!
RECOMMENDED

THIS FILM IS NOT YET RATED - TFINYR is a great documentary on the Motion Picture Association of America, and the process by which they rate every movie you've ever watched. Like movies? Than you'll like this look behind the curtain of the ratings system you've seen and followed all your life.

Don't worry, it's not a dry doc pic, the director/writer fills the movie with many directors commenting on their experiences with the review board, and even hires a private detective to help expose the secret members of the MPAA. It's really kind of startling how much we take the system for granted, especially in light of what's exposed here. And, as a creator of media myself, this certainly hits close to home.
RECOMMENDED

ZOOM: ACADEMY FOR SUPERHEROES - Okay, this isn't a good movie by any stretch of the imagination. It's not even a good superhero movie. Zoom is uninspired, and while pretty to look at, oddly lifeless, the director knows how to set up a shot, but gets zero out of the cast and straightforward seen-it-all-before story.

There's more than one god-awful montage, Tim Allen not even bothering to phone it in, and a predictability factor that's off the scale, BUT, but, if you like comic books, you'll find some fun to be had here. Cheap, pretty, boring, lifeless, fun, but hey, comics were disposable entertainment once, so just pretend this is a 20 cent miss from the spinner rack...
MILDLY RECOMMENDED

ON THE RADAR RECOMMENDATIONS
(The more mainstream fair most folks, if not all, have already heard of):

BORAT - What is there to say about Borat? It's worth checking out for the heaping helping of deleted scenes (including a hilarious Baywatch spoof), and the promo tour video...
THE PRESTIGE - There were two nicely filmed turn of the century magician movies last fall, and THE PRESTIGE was the best of the two. Directed by Christopher Nolan (he of MOMENTO, and BATMAN BEGINS) with much of the cast from Batman Begins (the impressive Christian Bale returns along with the always superb Michael Caine), but where I felt Nolan was lost in a hopelessly overrated blockbuster with BB, here he's on his A-game and knocks it out of the park. Simply superb!
THE DEPARTED - You don't need me to tell you how great this is, or the Oscars, see it for yourself! A great movie!
FLUSHED AWAY - I really wasn't looking forward to this, it was lost amongst a sea of CG animation flooding the box office, and was from studio Aardman, makers of Wallace and Grommit, of which I'm not too smitten, but it was excellently animated, finely written, and zipped along a great pace. Very good!
THE LAST KISS - Another I didn't care to see, I enjoy Braf, and liked his Garden State, but this seemed too similar. While it is VERY similar in tone to GS, it is fun to watch, with a solid expansive cast, and believable real life love story (similar to Vaughan & Aniston's more comedic take on the darker side of romance, The Breakup)...

Monday, March 26, 2007

I SAW IT ON TV: Battlestar headscratcher

The third season of the best show on TV, Battlestar Galactica, has come to an end, and in true cliffhanger fashion, we were treated to some crazy stuff to chew on. Aside from the nuttiness of the those nuggets we've been given to mull over, the real crazy thing here is that we have until 2008 to think on them!!

Is Starbuck in Apollo's head?
How can those be four of the final five Cylon's?
Who's the fifth cylon?
And most of all, why the hell were they singing Hendrix?!?

What the frak!?!

Well, apparently we have a 2 hour movie this fall to tide us over, something to do with the story of the Pegasus that somehow ties into season 4. Maybe they'll all be jamming some other 60's rock tunes...

So that was season 3?
Kind of an odd one (but at least they didn't wrestle any polar bears).
It was really good though, and I really enjoyed the recent "filler" episodes it seems most everyone else was complaining about, but as with the season 2 ending, it'll be interesting to see where things go from here (whereas with season 2 it was shock at the unexpected direction, with season 3 it's more questioning the recent developments).

Saturday, March 24, 2007

SUPER REAL NOTES - Sucky Wizard World LA wrap up!

Ahh, the title says it all...
Here we are almost a week since it ended, and I'm just able to update how the 2007 Wizard World Los Angles convention went.
First off, the show itself was fairly well organized, I say "fairly" because, well, aside from having what seemed like an improved guest list (both creators, and celebrities), the show was down in attendance (despite the numbers Wizard reports, which were tied to *ahem* Captain America #25 variants), and once again competed with heavy traffic at the LA convention center.
Last year WWLA was on the same day as the LA Marathon, which passed directly in front of the convention center, this year, the last day of the show, Sunday, saw the hugely attended "Dub" car show in the neighboring hall that made any approach to the venue almost completely inaccessible, even though the crowd for the comic show was minuscule in comparison.
Long Beach, the home the first two years (I first exhibited the second year, 2005), was at least the only show in town, and had a much much better location for after hours activity (and everyone I've ever heard talk of the Long Beach shows, prefered that location as well).
So yes, this was my third year doing the show, and it's always been marginal at best attendance wise, but I've always done real well despite that, till this time anyways.

Oh well, enough about the show, on to the good news...

The good news was I got to hang out with my buddy Javier Hernandez, who's based out of the LA area so I don't get to see him too often, but we had neighboring tables at the show, and when he wasn't busy with his El Muerto movie premiere (yes, he's big time :)), we got to go out and explore the town.

On Friday night we, along with his lovely girlfriend Bernyce, headed out to the Meltdown Comics after party, grabbing dinner across the street at a great Indian food place.
Unfortunately, I'd ordered sake for the first time (more on that later), and (prior to imbibing the Asian intoxicant) spilled the fish platter juices all down my shirt! Ahhh, I'm not the most coordinated of souls it's true.
The dinner was good though, great Pad Thai, and the saki interesting.
I didn't get too messed up on it or anything, but again, more on that later...

For the time being it was across Sunset Blvd to the oasis of comics known as Meltdown. I'd previously visited the shop on my first trek to the LaLa-Land show... this time they had a party in the back room, complete with open bar, live music, live art, and DJ.
Yes, that's saki+open bar folks... look out!
So, after getting acquainted and seeing my friend and issue 3 variant cover artist Felipe Smith (he of Tokyopop manga MBQ fame, who lives just down the street, but could barely be bothered away from the drawing table), it was time to marvel at the wonder of the Melendrez Brothers, a jam/classic rock band, made up entirely of 10 to 14 year-olds. I say marvel because these kids could play! 3 of the members were in full on dreads and mashing guitars and drums with the best of them, switching from all out jams to Hendrix and more with style and skill.
Wow!
After that, Jim Mahfood (SR Special number 1 artist) was up on the live art boards, a very cool performance any comic fan should check out (as Jim and crew put on shows at just about any major show). All now accompanied by a DJ spinning eclectic beats (many on 45's no less!)...
That was the highlight.
Turned out I was up almost 24 hours at that point, and on the way home the saki did a number on my bladder, making for some preempted police exposure in a go at some bushes, a stop at the nearest BK to use the token only restroom, and a downtown alleyway detour to relieve the sharpest urine induced pains of my woeful existence, mere blocks from the hotel.
Curse you saki!! You're the only unknown variable to the evening and had to have brought this upon me (and my unfortunate chauffeur in the the shenanigans, Mr Hernandez)...

Sooo, Saturday night Jav-Man had his big movie premiere in San Diego at the Latino Film Festival, and I kicked it back at the hotel room after the show, crashing and sleeping before 9pm...

After being fully rested it was on to the Dub induced trauma of getting into the show Sunday AM, and after the deadest day at any con since the infamous Las Vegas show (the con that answered the question, "What happens if you through a large show, and no one attends?"), Jav and I headed to East LA for some great Mexican food (though I forget the name of the place La Ta-something).

On the way back to the hotel we stopped off at Little Tokyo for drinks and sharing sketchbooks, a tradition I'm afraid we won't be able to continue, as I don't see it being viable to return to another Wizard LA show next year...

But, it was good times, despite the anemic attendance at the show.
Wondercon kicks WWLA's ass up an down the Cali coast I tell you!

Looks like Meltdown just put up a slide show of the events, it's starts off with all the works from the gallery showing (forgot to mention that part) and then shows some of the festivities...

Friday, March 23, 2007

MEANWHILE AT THE MOVIES... 300!!!

After waiting for the wife and my schedule to sync up and catch it together, I've finally seen Frank Miller's 300.
What a treat.
What a fabulous work of art put to film.
So good...
Aside from being a visual and cinematic treat, with it’s visceral imagery, and choreographed idealized forms, aside from the stirring sounds and the thundering bellows, 300’s assault isn’t just on the senses. Sure, director Zack Snyder puts Frank Miller’s source material to impeccable use, but it’s hard not to be moved by the story of these fabled 300 Spartan’s and what they stood for.
In today’s world we’re so detached from the things we take for granted, and the privileges bestowed, and even our entertainment can be so mindless, it’s nice to have something that takes you and challenges you to think beyond your world.
As much as 300 is an ultimate balls-out testosterone laden us-versus-them tale, it’s also one of fighting for what you believe in, and standing for what’s right. A testament to those who’ve come before and given countless lives in the name of what we live.
Sure, it’s still just a big Hollywood spectacle, but damn, what a good one!

Loved it!

With Snyder turning in the incredible remake of Dawn of the Dead, and now 300, he's quite a talent to watch, and hopefully he can work his magic on the long languished Hollywood version of THE WATCHMEN!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

MAKE MINE MANGA: OEL Roundup OR Holy Shit! These books are good!!

It's been a while since I checked in with some manga, and one of the things travelling for cons affords me, is some reading time, in airports and on planes... so I've got a good stack of recent Tokyopop OEL (or original English language) mangas that I spent time with.

Normally I rate the books individually, either as Not Recommended, Mildly Recommended, Recommended, or Highly Recommended... but since this group was spectacular, all falling under the HIGHLY RECOMMENDED category, I'll go ahead and rate them on a scale of 1 to 10!


AFTERLIFE Vol.1
Written by Stormcrow Hayes with art by Rob Steen
Afterlife is a dark introspective tale that looks at the afterlife and one possible scenario where everyone ends up in the same place once they die, that's neither Heaven or Hell, but more a mysterious limbo. Everyone fills the dark, alien landscape as-is upon their death, and are given no answers as to why they're all there, or what they're to do, except for a very select few who become guardians of the lair as it were, tasked with keeping order for all time (yet are otherwise no more informed than the rest).

Afterlife explores rich themes, and also weaves a strong tale, that moves forward to the future second and third volumes. If you've ever contemplated death, or what comes next, you'll enjoy exploring one possibility here, that's both well written, and uniquely illustrated.
9 out of 10

GYAKUSHU! Vol.1
Written and drawn by Dan Hipp
Dan Hipp is a co-creator on the semi-popular Image comics series, The Amazing Joy Buzzards, and anyone who's seen that work will recognize his cartoonish style instantly. Here Dan turns in a completely different fantasy-style dark hero's journey, with storyteller flair.

Gyakushu! volume one sets the stage for the bandaged and mysterious protagonist "The Thief", slowly revealing the critical moments that shaped his path and defined him as the man we now see, and the events that lead up to it. It's an epic similar in tone to the dark fantasy of Tolkien, with nice touches of character and menace that are in keeping with some of the best works of comic book fantasy. High praise, but Gyakushu! truly is a solid first outing that leaves the reader setup and anxious for more.
9 out of 10

PANTHEON HIGH Vol.1
Written by Paul Benjamin with artwork by Steven & Megumi Cummings
First off, I love this book!
Pantheon High is superpowered adventure done to perfection, with an imaginative premise (high school teen offspring of the gods, complete with the abilities of their mythical parents, all attending one school for their kind), and a razor sharp story and plot. There are moments in the first volume where Benjamin sets scenes up that play out masterfully, showcasing his cast, while delivering choreographed action the likes of the best of whats found in cinema. Meanwhile the Cummings' artwork is detailed, rich, stylish, strong, and sexy.

If you enjoy the themes of the X-Men, done right, or superpowered adventure within real world settings, give this book a shot. It's damn fun, original (especially for this genre), and good!
10 out of 10

SNOW Vol.1
Written and drawn by Morgan Luthi
Snow showcases, more than anything, Luthi's strong cinematic/animated sensibilities, that are a treat to read. A sci-fi epic centered on a person of mass destruction (with the ability to destroy worlds no less), trying to leave his life at the hands of the Warmongers behind at the farthest reach of the galaxy. Familiar sci-fi themes, sure, but Snow is wholly unique in the approach and creativity of Luthi.

While, of these four, it may be the weakest story, Snow is still a fabulous comic that completely transports the reader to the worlds laid out by the creator, and tells a fun, cosmic yarn. Grab this if you like sci-fi comics, or fun animated artwork.
8 out of 10

Once you add this quality list of OEL outings to the already strong lineup that's proceeded it, Tokyopop have published an impressive list of quality comic offerings that are criminally underrated. Unfortunately the OEL books are a bit of an oddity, that although published by TPop, are not marketed at all, and turn off the closed-minded - manga purists who deem them as not "true" manga, and comic book fans who view them as more "big eyes, and speedlines". Folks, comics are comics, and as long as you close your mind to other formats, or stay within your comfort zones, you're missing out on some of the best of what the medium has to offer, be it Tokyopop OEL, European Graphic Albums, indy comics, whatever... do yourself a favor and give one of these books a try if you haven't!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

IN CASE U MISSED IT: New comic available from Super Real creator Edward Pun!

The fabulous issue 2 variant cover artist, and contributor to the recent Super Real Special, Edward Pun, is releasing a new comic at the upcoming Emerald City ComiCon...

BETSY MAE BITE

I've seen pages from this before, and I can tell you it'll be really nice!

Check it out HERE

SUPER REAL NOTES - Special reviews

The reviews for the Super Real Special #1: Super Real VS The Comic Book Industry started to come in last week, and here are the first two that I've seen (they were both pretty short and sweet, so I'll include the full write-ups along with the links):

AINTITCOOLNEWS.com
While I don't believe that this is the strongest entry in the series, SUPER REAL VS. THE COMIC INDUSTRY continues to engage in the same wackiness that has become a hallmark of the series. This special is different in that it pretty much pits the team against characters who embody the comic book clich├ęs that tend to dominate the industry. Each chapter is illustrated by a different artist with creator Jason Martin doing the writing chores. It's a light read to be sure but there's enough fun in it to keep SUPER REAL fans happy as well as amuse potentially new readers.
- superhero

NEWSARAMA.com (Best Shots)
While it helps to be somewhat familiar with the team and concept of “Super Real”, it’s not completely necessary to enjoy this hilarious evisceration of epic brawls. As the cover bills it, this is an “all action special” wherein members of the team face off against a series of characters who are just a tiny bit analogous to famous comics faces. Much of the humor comes from those analogues, particularly the Marvelous Mutants. Creator Jason Martin clearly has a good time writing this, and he’s joined by some great artists, including Boo, Edward Pun, Daniel Campos and J.D., and Jim Mahfood (who delivers on the Mutants bit). For new readers, Martin does include a Super Real recap up front, and displays his fine musical taste in a list of faves near the back. Fun stuff.
- Troy Brownfield

Thursday, March 15, 2007

SUPER REAL NOTES - Wizard World LA this weekend!

I'm off to Wizard...
WIZARD WORLD LA that is, at the Los Angeles Convention Center!!
I'll be there with my friend Javier (El Muerto) Hernandez starting tomorrow Friday 3/16 on thru Sunday 3/18!


Come by artist alley if you're at the show, I always love meeting SUPER REAL friends!

I'll have all four issues of the book, the last of the 2006 Super Real Sketchbooks (still available via the website store for $10ea with a sketch!), plus the all new....
SUPER REAL PINUPS VOL1.0
40 pages
Full color
Cardstock cover
21 pinups from 20 artists
Including:
JOSH HOWARD
JIM MAHFOOD
TODD NAUCK
HECTOR SEVILLA

and many more!
$10ea
also now in the website store


The books turned out really nice!

STAY TUNED,
jason

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

SUPER REAL NOTES - Digital Beta & you... YES YOU!!

Anyone who follows TSL! knows that digital comics are on my mind, and as a publisher in this modern age, rightly so.
Back when Super Real was getting set for it's print release, I'd hooked up with the fine folks at GraphicSmash.com, the action comics arm of the Joey Manley ModernTales.com webcomic empire. ModernTales was the largest subscription based webcomic collective on the web, and Super Real ran for a time there as a webcomic. For various reasons I decided to stop offering the book as a "webcomic" after the print distribution began, but ever since then, I've been eager to get Super Real back in digital format, only hosted directly from the website.

Rather than create manual html based page views, I'd been taking in the digital developments and weighing options. Joey Manley himself created Webcomicsnation.com last year, an affordable set of tools (basically the ModernTales creator interface turned public and tied to hosting options) to allow anyone to host their own webcomics. Also in the last year some digital download sites have sprung up, most notably DriveThruComics.com and Pullboxonline.com, offering content (partnered with the websites) for download via PDF or the new CBR format, for a fee anywhere from two dollars to .99 cents.

As, again, I wanted to associate Super Real content with the website proper, and I was skeptical of some of the elements of these sites and their setups (price, format, scope, design), and with Pullbox unwilling to talk about potentially offering Super Real, I'd held off moving forward. However, with what is now four issues of the series out in print, the time felt right to offer the first issue online, digitally, for free (a good way to potentially bring in new readers). Enter my friend Jeremy Rayment, aspiring comic creator, and flash guru who'd set up the Super Real flash trailer from last year. You see, Jeremy had been in contact with me regarding a new flash based reader he was designing for comic books.

Turns out Jeremy had wanted to replicate the feel of reading printed comic books via the web, finding many of the tools he'd seen too foreign to the format he'd come to love from print. Not only that, but he wanted something simple that any creator could easily utilize for displaying their comics on the web. As we talked and things progressed with Super Real, I warmed up to the idea of possibly using this format for my new digital content on the website.

Well, over the last week, Jeremy and I have been working behind the scenes to set that up, and work out some of the kinks of the ereader's interface. The content is now live on the website, and I think, running pretty smooth, but here's where I'd like you TSL! readers to come in... If you'd take a moment and click on over to the new ISSUE INFO & PREVIEWS page of the website, you'll find every issue of Super Real laid out as before, but now clicking on the cover images, you'll find previews for each book, setup via the FLASHBOOK COMIC READER - the complete first issue, and previews for issue 2, 3, and the Special.
Take a spin through there and let me know your thoughts.

What do you think of the reader?
The functionality?
Anything that's missing?
Anything that needs fixed?
A little beta testing before I roll it out to the mass public. :)

Here's the link:
http://superrealgraphics.com/issue.html

Please let me know what you think!
Thanks,
jason

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

IN CASE U MISSED IT: LITG

If you regularly follow comics but not Rich Joshnston's column on CBR, LYING IN THE GUTTERS, what's wrong with you?
Yes it's a gossip column, but Rich has been doing it for years and is plugged into the industry like no other, and aside from "gossip" there's always plenty of good solid content.

Take this week for example, short but sweet, there were still a couple of salacious items:

He's got another link to Todd Allen, author of THE ECONOMICS OF WEBCOMICS, and his summation of the Captain America media blitz, which really boils down the failures of the market to capture sales from this mainstream media event (as it often fails on every occasion).
Check that out HERE
It's a good read.

There's also a spiffy preview to what could be a HUGE new book from master writer Warren Ellis, BLACK SUMMER. What looks to be Ellis's evolution of The Authority via Avatar, likely in the next issue of Previews.
I'll be sure and put this on my pull list, you may as well too, or you'll just end up chasing copies after the fact...

Friday, March 09, 2007

SUPER REAL NOTES - Wondercon 07

Well, I've been too busy this week to really blog, but I wanted to do a Wondercon wrap up, so here it is a week later...

This was my second time at Wondercon, having regularly exhibiting San Diego Comic-con International since 2003, I'd been anxious to make it to the other show put on by the same folks, and last year I took the plunge. My wife and I had both previously been to San Francisco, but last year with my getting a small press space at the show, we thought it'd be a great opportunity to explore the city (in addition to my doing some Super Real business). We opted to drive down from Portland, an 11 hour drive south on Interstate 5, and stay downtown.

So, after exploring the city last year via cable car, taking in firsherman's warf, and driving the corkscrew streets, this year I went to the show myself, strictly for the con, and while 2 or more people driving may save some funds, one person is certainly cheaper, and a hell of a lot faster to fly.

I was to share hotel expenses with my friend Randy Kintz from Portland, but things didn't work out and I ended up completely solo. So instead of splitting the rate on the con hotel, The Argent (at $160 per night), I opted for a place called The Mosser, that appeared almost as close, but for only $50 a night if I took the base single with shared bath down the hall. Yes, no bathroom in the room, but when you're travelling for cons, you have to cut any expense you can. All the info on the web made the hotel look very nice, despite the price, so I took a chance.

I had a direct flight Friday AM of the show and arrived at SFO well ahead of schedule to blue skies and warm weather (same as last year). After making my way long distance to the baggage and figuring out the shuttle setup I found a shuttle (all major airports have shared-ride shuttle service to downtown/local attractions for a fraction of the price of a cab, with no prearrangement necessary), and then had to promptly wait 30 minutes for another passenger, any passenger, to show up. After that mild delay it was straight to the con hall.


I made it to Moscone Center South, the new location for the show around 9:30/10AM, with the con opening at noon, got checked right in and on to my artist alley space to set up shop. So everything went smooth.

Friday, it turns out, was my best day of the show, buoyed by an original art sale, and Saturday was the busiest day, with Sunday being my next best day in sales. Yes, the busiest day of the show was my worst (but still a good day). The con was much larger this year in terms of floor space, having moved to the new (actually older), much larger hall, and only occupying about half of that space. The show has plenty of room to grow. As for growth, attendance felt better this year, on top of what was already a solid show last year.

This time I exhibited in artist alley as opposed to getting a small press booth, and artist alley was a good size. Turns out my friend Jason Kruse whom I'd met at the infamous Las Vegas Comic Con a few years back, where he was my neighbor, was one aisle over, and we got to catch up and talk shop (check out his book THE WORLD OF QUEST and watch for a write up of it on TSL! soon). I had also planned to meet up with my friend Dave Dwonch from NPC Comics' SPECIAL EDucation at the show as well. I met Dave at last years show, and aside from being a nice guy, and talented up-and-coming creator, we're sharing some expenses at the upcoming Pittsburgh Comic Con.

Turns out I tagged along with Dave and his crew Saturday night... but I'm getting ahead of myself, back on Friday, I had yet to check into my hotel, until post show. Now, doing a few of these weekend con excursions, I've learned the hard way to be sure and double check the hotel BEFORE arrival and the day of check-in (common sense I know, but a simple thing I forgot at Wizard LA/Long Beach back in '05 which left me roomless). Any way, I'd confirmed the room Thursday night and let em know it'd be a late check in, so no worries upon leaving the show. In fact, it turned out The Mosser was much closer than I'd thought, only about 2 blocks from the con, and right across the street from the Marriott. It was a nice, older, boutique hotel, well appointed an all that. Soooooo, at the desk the clerk tries to upsell me to the private bath at an extra $20 a night... nope. But then she says, "Well, your room is on the 8th floor, and we have no elevator."
Yes, no elevator, or rather, the one they had didn't work.
But, I wasn't caving, "Cost cutting, cost cutting, it's all about cost cutting!" I told myself, and I hiked all 115 (give or take) stairs to my room, luggage in tow. Now to be fair, most of my luggage is con supplies, and at the hall, so it wasn't too bad, but that didn't stop me from sweatin to the oldies an stoppin along the way to catch my breath.
Yay! 3 more days of this!!
The room though was nice, and the bathroom was only 2 doors down, and everything was clean and good to go.
I'll be back to the Mosser next year (but hopefully they'll have a functioning elevator!)...

So, back to the show.
Though they pack them in well, and especially on Saturday (though Sunday was no slouch), and put on a good con, the crowds at Wondercon are very Comic-Con (as in SDCC)... that is to say, they may be bringing in more people to the show, but just like San Diego, it's a "mixed" crowd, made up of a majority of non-fandom.

While in the alley I had neighbors who were MIA on Friday but both showed up Saturday. Juston Dutta the exhibits manager moved one of them around the corner to the next aisle, so I got to split an open table with Adam and John Byrne (no, not THAT John Byrne) of THE STRANGE ADVENTURES OF H.P. LOVECRAFT. Adam is the co-artist/co-creator and John (again, not the famous/infamous comic creator) was his father. They were both nice, but I got a lot more chances to talk with John, who was great. Great neighbors, and the book, well Adam had previews (where he does the covers, colors, and letters) and it looks really good (do yourself a favor and check the link above and keep yours eyes open for it!).

I also got the chance to meet and talk with Stormcrow Hayes, the author/co-creator of Tokyopop's OEL manga AFTERLIFE. Afterlife was one of many OEL titles from TPop that I'd been anxious to check out, though like many of their titles, my shop missed getting me a copy. So, I was able to pick one up signed from Stormcrow (aka Sam... shhh don't tell), and read it on the flight home. It's a great, great work, and I'll be talking it up here soon too!

So, aside from meeting friends, making new ones, networking and the like, which on it's own makes the con a success, there's the best part, meeting fans, making new ones, and sketching and talking with people at the show! I did lots of sketches, sold art, tons of sketchbooks (the 2006 vol2 print run is going fast btw), and scores upon scores of books. It was a great show by every estimation, on every account.

One of the new fans I met at the show, Ted, was nice enough to scan the two sketches he had requested at the show for me to share...


As you can see, he came up with some unique outfits for a couple of the girls from Super Real!
I've been playing more with using markers for con sketches, and though they don't scan the greatest, I think they turn out pretty nice (but I've gotta keep improving of course).

Another sketch from the show that I can share is this one that was inked by my buddy Dave...

While it wasn't the best work from me, I think he did a great job finishing it up with inks, something I never do myself.

So, back to Dave and his friends, and Saturday night!
Dave and his friends were all local to the bay area, and we were going to just go across the street to the Chevy's bar, but someone suggested a restaurant where one of their friends was a cook that was close by.
Long story short, it was close, but not so much by foot, though only several blocks away, it was through some not so nice parts of town shall we say, at night, and once we eventually got there, it was a very fancy, small, Italian upscale eatery most of us were reluctant to enter in our full con gear etc., but enter we did.
After seating us at a bar just off the open kitchen, where their friend was working, we decided to get beers and cut out (as the menu was very pricey), only after informin the waitress of this, she still proceeded to pass out plates much to our confusion. It seemed they weren't taking no for an answer, that is until their friend in the kitchen started passing out free gourmet pizzas for us to try.
So, a couple beers and couple pizzas later, we were off back towards downtown for more beers.
However, while dining I'd mentioned, or asked about The Isotope Comic Lounge, legendary downtown San Francisco comic shop and bar (yes bar), and even though these guys were local comic-savvy soldiers, they'd not heard of the place! For those who haven't heard of it yet either, the Isotope is the creation of James Sime, a bartender turned shop owner, who stocks everything good in comics in an upscale boutique environment, with couches for reading, and even yes, drinking. Now, I'd heard all kinds of great things about the shop, and the events they put on, especially during Wondercon, so after a quick phone call to 411, we had confirmation of an Isotope event and directions, and off we went.

Another long story short, turns out the same friend who had fuzzy directions to the restaurant guided us to Isotope before leaving, unbenknownst to me, so as the now 3 of us made our way on foot, deeper and deeper into the late night shenanigans of the red light district, we pushed the panic button and hailed a cab.
Good thing too, we were still several blocks from the shop.
Anyway, I won't go into too many details, but the Isotope exists, it's as swanky as it sounds, and stocked with an amazingly diverse range of product, all for you to peruse as you imbibe the FREE, yes FREE, open bar spirits (that is for the event anyways).
We had a good time, and I wound up staying longer as they had to cut out to make it back to town in time to ride BART home.
If you're ever in San Francisco, be sure and check out the Isotope!
(Hopefully they'll have some picks up soon that I can later add in here...)

So, free dinner, free drinks, comic shops, and lots of comic talk... it was a good night!

Which brings me back to Sunday, the final day of the show...
Directly between my hotel and the convention hall is the big downtown attraction, The Metreon, a shopping mall anchored by Sony and featuring a large theater, and the San Francisco arm of the local Things From Another World comic shop chain.
Since my time was limited, I never got a chance to check that out, but I did cut through the mall block that AM and discovered a nice, large park in the middle of the block, with a large green space, great landscaping and unique architecture leading into the Moscone Center...


Definitely a nice thing to have across the street from a convention hall.
And I'd be remiss not to mention the fabulous California diner that is Mel's, which is a mere block away from the convention hall...

I must admit, having explored more of the immediate are around the con this time, Wondercon is hands down the best location I've been to to take in a con.
You have tons of hotel options, restaurants, bars, shops of every variety, and the amazing tourability San Francisco offers.
It's not only a great show, it's a great convention destination.
I'm very much looking forward to next year!

Please realize, as lengthy as this report was, it's a fraction of what transpired, and a big hello and thanks to everyone who I met and talked with, and other friends I got books from. I hope to share more items, or con swag, in the coming days and weeks (especially with 3 big shows to go in the next month)!

See you at the shows!

STAY TUNED,
jason

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

IN CASE U MISSED IT: Digital rumblings

Since I like to muse about the EVENTUAL conversion of the market/medium to digital here on TSL, there were a couple solid notes on the movement in the last couple weeks, spurred by some announcements from NYCC about some of the bigger industry players plans for potential digital distribution.

First there was a link in Rich Johnston's LYING IN THE GUTTERS NYCC wrap up to a well informed piece from Todd Allen:
Found HERE

Then there was a more recent piece on Newsarama questioning a cross section of retailers about their thoughts on digital:
Found HERE

Basically, Marvel announced they're working on something, DC is rumored to be (but perhaps more slowly than their opposition), and Top Cow announced an odd two step of a plan that partners them with IGN.com.

As I've often noted, with the ease, dramatically lower expense, and potentially massive reach, digital is the future and WILL suplant print, it's just a matter of time, and if the big comic book publisher players make a move, it could happen very fast.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

SUPER REAL NOTES - Super Real Special out 3/7!

According to Diamond's shipping list for books arriving this week, Wednesday 3/7, the first ever Super Real Special: SUPER REAL VS THE COMIC BOOK INDUSTRY should be among the books out in the shops!

This is the all action extravaganza featuring the SR cast facing off against stand-ins for comic book icons, with guest artists galore, including the funky-cool Jim Mahfood!

There's always a chance not every region will get the books, so you might also see them next week 3/14.

Be sure and check with your retailers, or go to the website for previews and more info HERE

Thursday, March 01, 2007

SUPER REAL NOTES - Wondercon this weekend

I take off early Friday AM for San Francisco and my second stint at the fabulous bay area show WONDERCON organized by the fine folks of Comic-Con International.

This year I'll be in artist alley - space AA61

Just look for my spiffy new banners...
Ooh la la!
I splurged and I'll be rockin Super Real in front of giant Mahfood, Howard, Sevilla artworks!!!
YAY!
(Take a peek at the test run pic on the side!)

Please stop by if you're at the show!
I'll be sketching and selling all copies of the book, including a handful of advance copies of the SUPER REAL SPECIAL #1!!!!!!
That's right, I've got my hands on the first copies of the new issue!
DOUBLE YAY!
(For those that already have preorders in, have no fear, I'll get those shipped upon my return Monday)Be there!
(Don't forget, if you can't be there, you can pick up any and all - and I do mean all - items in the website store)

STAY TUNED,
jason