It’s that time of year again. The start of my convention season, and the next several weeks are looking to be busy.
We kick of next week at the STC Summit in Orlando. It’s been a few years since I was last at this event, and I’m looking forward to catching up with my professional colleagues, and meeting some new people. The conference sessions are looking interesting, and as I’m not speaking this year I should have more time to sit back and absorb some new knowledge.
As soon as I get back from Orlando, it’s off to Houston for Comicpalooza. Over the last few years this has rapidly become one of my favorite pop-culture/comics events. Three days of fun, networking, and entertaining guests. Along the way I’ll be participating in a few panels:
- The Secret History of James Bond in Comics
- The Editing Process
- Finding Writing Inspiration.
In early June I’m heading to Poland for the first time to speak at LocWorld #37 in Warsaw on the subject of Content Convergence. Should be a great experience.
At the end of June I’ll be a little closer to home with my first appearance at SoonerCon in Oklahoma where I’ll be on panels discussing:
- Artificial Intelligence
- Podcasting: How to win Listeners and Influence the Internet
- Doctor Who: Regeneration – It’s a Lottery
- All Ages Comics as a Development Tool
I’ll also be doing a reading (I just need to decide what that will be).
Phew… it’s going to be an interesting couple of months, and I’m looking forward to it. If you’re going to be at any of these events, make sure to come find me and say “Hi.” – See you on the road.
Although I have been making my compulsory regular visits to the kind folks at Austin Books, it’s been over a month since I did one of these round ups of what’s sitting on my reading stack of four color fun. So without any further delay, lets pick up a few comic books:
- Amazing Spider-Man #679 (Marvel) – Still the one Marvel book I pick up on every visit to the store. Writer Dan Slott and the team continue to produce entertaining stories of a modern-day Peter Parker while managing to respect the character’s rich legacy and spirit. If only other franchise titles could learn from this one.
- American Vampire #23 (DC/Vertigo) – Scott Snyder has managed to do the almost impossible, make a vampire story interesting and relevant again. No sparkles here – just good old plain horror with a savage twist. The current arc is set in the 1950s and has that James Dean vibe running through it. Highly recommended.
- Dark Horse Presents #8 (Dark Horse)- Unlike the majority of the American comics buying market I love anthology books (must be from being raised in British comics). I have found this incarnation of DHP a little hit and miss, but there is usually something to like in almost every issue.
- Doctor Who #14 (IDW) – My buddy Tony Lee may no-longer be writing the book, but I must admit that this first arc from new writer Joshua Fialkov which drops the Doctor and companions into the middle of the movie Casablanca, along with a bunch of aliens, is an inspired idea. Wish I’d thought of it!
- Fantastic Four #602 (Marvel) – Alien invasions,! Galactus towering over Manhattan! This is classic cosmic FF style old-school adventure with a modern scientific twist from Jonathan Hickman and Barry Kitson.
- Fatale #2 (Image) – Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips latest noir crime story with an apparent supernatural twist. These guys have reinvented noir crime comics in recent years, and this latest entry in the genre is just as compelling as all the others.
- Green Hornet Annual #2 (Dynamite) – I just like the Green Hornet (but not THAT movie version) and will pick up most stories he appears in. Some work, some don’t – but I tend to give them all a try.
- The Last Phantom #10 (Dynamite) – Again another character that I pick up no matter what. Overall I’m enjoying this take on the character by Scott Beatty – maybe not the way I’d write him, but it’s an interesting perspective on what it means to be “The Ghost Who Walks.”
- The Lone Ranger #2 (Dynamite) – This pretty much completes the trifecta of “characters I’d love to write one day” currently published by Dynamite. The first issue in this new series of the original masked man by Ande Parks kicked off in impressive style, and I’m looking forward to seeing where he takes this story arc.
- Rachel Rising #5 (Abstract) – Reading a horror story written and penciled by Terry Moore seems a little at odds as he is such a nice guy – but as with all his other work, he weaves a compelling tale that just makes you want to pick up the next issue.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #6 (IDW) – I’m really enjoying this reboot of the Turtles franchise – these aren’t our cartoon Turtles, but a re-imagining of the seminal title that kicked off the 1980s independent comics boom. It’s good to have them back.
- The Twelve #9 (Marvel) – How long is it since issue #8 ? – November 2008! – During its initial run in 2007/8 this was one of my favorite books and I’ve been waiting for it to resume – will it stand up to the expectations of my memory after a gap of just over two years?
- Uncanny X-Force #21 (Marvel) – OK I’ll admit I’m not a big fan of Rick Remender’s stories on the whole – but as this arc focuses on the Captain Britain Corps – it becomes a must read.
- Witchblade #151 (Top Cow / Image) – Over the last seven years writer Ron Marz turned Witchblade from a T&A pin-up book of dubious quality into a well developed character driven dark fantasy tale. With this issue new writer Tim Seeley takes over and I’m interested to see how he handles picking up the baton from another writer after such a transformative run. No easy task.
Is it really August since I last did this little exercise? It is indeed.
I’ll be on the road next week (Look out Cedar Rapids. Iowa!) so picked up a slightly larger stack of four-color fun than usual at Austin Books today to see me through two weeks worth of comics reading needs. So what came home with me:
- Avengers Academy #23 – Enjoyed the early issues of this series, but at some point it lost my interest and dropped off my reading list. This issue introducing X-23 (whose own book was recently cancelled) to the team seemed like a good point to give it another try.
- Avengers Sanction #1 (Marvel): All I can say is that advertising works – only picked this up because of the one-page house ads in other Marvel titles recently – intrigued me enough to at least try the first issue.
- Batgirl #4 (DC) – I wasn’t too impressed by the fits issue of this titles releaunch, and I had some problems seeing Barbara Gordon back in the cowl. I should have trusted writer Gail Simone. Things are headed in the right direction and this is back on my regular read list.
- Batman: The Brave & The Bold #14 (DC) – A fun all-ages book that is in perfect keeping with the tone of the crazy, irreverent animated series. This is how the mainstream Batman books should be done.
- Batman & Robin #4 (DC) – I don’t really like this gritty scowling Batman of the New 52 DC relaunch and haven’t picked up any of the books on a regular basis; however a reviewer who I trust said that this book was doing great things with the Bruce Wayne / Damien Wayne – Batman / Robin father-son dynamic – so thought I’d give this issue a try.
- Batwoman #4 (DC)- The most creative and stunning artwork and page layouts of any mainstream book at the moment. However that innovation does cause some occasional storytelling problems, and the plot isn’t exactly grabbing my attention. So this may be the last issue where the “oh pretty” factor wins out.
- Demon Knights #4 (DC) – easily my favorite of the New 52 DC titles. Loving how my friend, Paul Cornell, is building a new team dynamic, and establishing the history of a new reality, while at the same time delivering a fun action packed book. And it’s got dragons! – Highly recommended.
- Doctor Who #12 (IDW) – The last regular monthly Doctor Who from good friend, Tony Lee and it’s a silent Christmas issue with the Doctor and Santa fighting robots. Do I need to say more?
- Ghost Rider #7 (Marvel): Always been something of a closet Ghost Rider fan (Heck I’ll even admit to enjoying the Nic Cage movie – and yes I even own a copy!), and one of the marvel characters on my “like to write one day” list*. This series is written by yet another friend Rob Williams, and introduces a new female Rider, but the concept doesn’t seem to have caught on and it all comes to an end in a couple of months, but in the mean time I’ve been enjoying this different take on the mythos of The Spirit of Vengance. (*If Marvel are looking for another Ghost Rider story – I’ll be happy to pitch my thoughts on something that links Johnny Blaze to the Western Ghost Rider of the past.)
- Hawken #2 (IDW) – Gritty violent Western with great black & white artwork from the master of Westerns, Tim Truman.
- Jingle Belle Gift-Wrapped (Top Cow / Image) – Another Christmas special, from one of my favorite writers/creators, Paul Dini. No other reason for picking it up beyond that simple fact.
- Marvel Holiday Special (Marvel): These Christmas themed holiday specials are always something of a guilty pleasure. For the most part they feature innocuous, and occasionally trite, tales of favorite heroes spreading seasonal messages. Some years the will contain a real gem of a story.
- Operation Broken Wings, 1936 (BOOM) – Translated reprint of a graphic novel originally published in France. Suffers a little from teh reduction in page size down to standard US comic book dimensions; but overall is strong, compelling espionage tale set in pre-war Germany. Well researched and very evocative of the era.
- The Ray #1 (DC) – I’ve been looking forward to picking this book up since artist Jamal Igle first posted some sketches on his FaceBook account. Should be a fun read.
- Star Wars: Agent of Empire: Iron Eclipse #1 (Dark Horse) – Easily wins the prize for longest title of the week. Simply put this Star Wars version of James Bond. – Written by John Ostrander, who for my money is consistently one of the best and most innovative of the SW comics writers.
- Zorro Rides Again #6 (Dynamite) – Writer Matt Wagner’s respect and enthusiasm for the Zorro legend and mythos comes across on every page. This is a must read for any fan of the Fox.