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Tag Archive | Brian Michael Bendis

The Week in Geek

A clearing-house of geek activities and news for the week.

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SAN DIEGO COMIC CON DOCUMENTARY 2010

For some reason, yours truly thought it would be a good idea to submit a story and photo to the casting director of the 2010 Comic Con Documentary. Perhaps it was the allure of Joss Whedon and Stan Lee. One can never REALLY know.

It was sent off Saturday – got a phone call back on Monday, and conducted the telephone interview on Wednesday. We’ve been asked to submit an audition tape by no later than July 2nd – stressing our intentions for Comic Con and why they should follow us around.

How crazy is that? I have a feeling that my giant comic book tattoo has something to do with it. Probably also my intention to photograph and/or take video of people with comic book tattoos for either one really awesome post here on the blog, or to create a webpage. Not sure yet. But it’s on my list of things to do.

AND: We will be dressing up in costume. I kinda gave up on the Hit Girl cosplay idea. Something about wearing leather in the sweltering climate of Southern California in late July. Instead, I’ve chosen a far less nerdier angle – BSG characters. Both Dan and I. Already ordered our dog tags (Apollo and Starbuck, respectively) – just have to put together the off-duty uniforms . Nothing that would attract a ton of attention, but I like the idea of paying homage to one of my favorite television series without donning a screaming purple wig. OK – I’m also getting a bit too old for cosplay. I’ll admit it. I think late 20s or early 30s should be the cut off, unless you’re a model.

Our friend Smalls is going as a Merlotte’s waitress one of the days, so I thought I’d try donning some Fangtasia apparel – to balance it out. We are initiating True Blood Tuesdays and might even pick up some Tru Blood bottles to drink out of.

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X-MEN: FIRST CLASS

James McAvoy has finally dispelled all those Hobbit rumors, and he’s now signed up to play a young Charles Xavier in X-Men: First Class – a prequel to the first four films in the series. It will be directed by Matthew Vaughn of Kick-Ass fame and penned by Jane Goldman. Aside from knowing that yes, the young man can act – the next big question is, can he pull off the part? There’s going to be all sorts of continuity baggage, because Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen played digitally altered younger versions of their Xavier and Magneto characters in at least two X-Films already. So presumably McAvoy will be a much younger version of Xavier, and won’t be interacting with the X-Teens at all. OR WILL HE!? No one knows.

I was a bit “meh” at first – thinking McAvoy and Stewart look nothing alike. But I did a little facial comparison, and I think they can pull it off. The only weird thing is now I have raging boner for Professor X, which is not OK. There was never a moment, nor should there ever be a moment where I’m sexually attracted to Professor Xavier. But I can’t help the sexy. Guess that might change when I bear witness to a bald McAvoy. :\

ALSO: Runaways looks like it’s actually going to take shape, because it gained a screenwriter this week. Not sure why the original series creator/writer, Brian K. Vaughn, wasn’t tasked for the job – since he writes comic books AND wrote for several years on Lost. *shrug*

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SCARLET PREVIEW

Brian Michael Bendis seems like a pretty cool dude, and I’ve been trying now for several months to find a body of his work that I enjoy. It started to be Spider-Woman, but then that series quickly fizzled out. I’ve picked up the first TPB of Powers, and it’s alright so far…but I’m not completely blown away by the misogynist bits clustered here and there. But I do LOVE the art of Alex Maleev, and I’m a sucker for a red-head with guns. So, when Bendis unveiled the Scarlet Preview on Twitter yesterday…I knew that I would definitely need to start collecting this series from it’s infancy.

I’m sold on the artwork already. I would probably pick up almost anything Maleev does at the moment. I haven’t been this attracted to the artwork of an artist in my entire history with comic books. So – having a female centric book helps, with a writer that seems competent and who I am desperately trying to connect with in some work of art or another.

Barriers this book will have to surpass in order for me to give it a passing mark – it will have to be much more than a male action hero with breasts. It will need to feature at least more than one woman on its pages. It would be even better if the two women actually liked one another. You can see I’m still skeptical about this, but anxious to delve into a creator owned series. Those are like my bread and butter. Mmmm.

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That’s it for the moment. This weekend will be condo remodeling intense again – but I picked up a few books from the comic shop yesterday and I’m unveiling a month-long project for June which will hopefully be interesting and entertaining.

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Stumptown Comics Fest 2010: Day One

We arrived at the Stumptown Comics Fest 2010 around 11am yesterday, checked in and got our volunteer badges. Our first stop was the Dark Horse Comics booth to pick up some freebies (buttons, poster, etc) AND Dan showed off his tattoo to the guys, who took a pic and posted it on Twitter.

Dan's BPRD tattoo gets some love.

We promptly ran into Joe M. – a friend and former co-worker who also has a strong obsession with comic books. It was a pleasant surprise. Joe is big into the Yelp community, and was attending a Food Cart event later that day, but he hung out with us long enough to attend the first panel.

We made a beeline for Natalie Sept and Matt Howard’s table – they were selling some awesome buttons and prints. You can find their products on this website here: natmatt.org.

Matt, Me and Natalie

Awesome buttons from Nat and Matt - check 'em out!

We browsed for a little while longer, and ended up at the Things From Another World booth – where they were selling a ton of Trade Paperbacks for 50% off. It was pure torture! Dan scored a BPRD paperback and I bought the Marvels paperback – each for about $10. You can’t got wrong, right?

Then it was time for the Teaching Comics panel. I’ve put together some video from the event.

The video is not comprehensive by any means – the panel itself was nearly two hours, and the real meat of it happened towards the end, but it might give you a better idea of what it was like to spend two hours witnessing the intriguing conversations brought up by these folks. It felt like the beginning of something wonderful. The initial moments of a movement to make comic books a more respected literary tradition. The professors were just as compelling as the industry folks – sometimes more so. Featured in the video – James Sturm (Center for Cartoon Studies), Diana Schutz (Portland Community College), Brian Michael Bendis (Portland State University), Benjamin Saunders (University of Oregon), Trevor Dodge (Clackamas Community College, Pacific Northwest College of Art), Katya Amato (Portland State University).

Another exciting factoid – Portland State University has the ENTIRE DARK HORSE COLLECTION available for viewing. No really, everything. How wonderful is that?

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Stumptown Comics Fest 2010 Schedule

Posts regarding the Stumptown Comics Fest 2010 will be dominating this blog for the weekend – I’ll also be doing a lot of tweeting with pics and some footage from the different events I attend, so prepare for some uniquely Portland, Oregon content gracing these walls. The agenda breaks down in the following days.

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FRIDAY NIGHT

Stumptown Kick-Off Party at Guapo Comics from 7pm-10pm

Celebrate the start of the Stumptown Comics Fest in style! Featuring a book release party, slide rule comic strip slideshow, $450 in prizes. Art exhibit by Graham Kahler.

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SATURDAY

– Arrive at the Fest at 10am to get volunteer badge and schmooze a bit

Teaching Comics Panel at Noon with Brian Michael Bendis and Diana Schutz (THEN SKIPPING OVER TO) Matthew Southworth’s Elements of Style panel using examples from Greg Rucka’s Stumptown!

– Enjoying the Fest until our volunteer gig starts 4pm-6pm

– Attending the 4th Annual Stumptown Comics Fest Trophy Awards and Comics Art Battle at Cosmic Monkey Comics

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SUNDAY
 – Breaking into Comics Panel at Noon with folks from Oni Press and Darkhorse Comics
Q&A with Craig Thompson about forthcoming novel Habibi from 1-1:45pm
– Art Tour from 2-4pm
– 4pm-6pm hanging out and enjoying the fest
The Stumptown Comics Volunteer Appreciation & After-Fest Party 2010 at the Bossanova Ballroom with Paul Pope DJing.
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– Other goals for the weekend include
  1. Scoring a signed copy of Spell Checkers from Joelle Jones and Jamie S. Rich
  2. Visiting with Natalie Sept and Matt Howard (HS friends who are exhibiting)
  3. Hitting up the Dark Horse Comics booth for some promised free goodies

Other than that – just soaking up the atmosphere of Portland’s Big-Little Comic Book event. I’ll try and do as much live blogging as is humanly possible!

Let me know if there’s something I’m missing folks. 😉

Hoping to return with more reviews and other kinds of love next week.

Kick-Ass? Yes, It Does.

Thanks to the ultra cool Hisham, we were able to score tickets to a 7:00pm screening of Kick-Ass last night at the Lloyd Center cinemas. We ended up with pretty decent seats, and Dan Robertson spotted one of comic-doms most famous of scribes – Brian Michael Bendis, who was kind enough to snap a photo before he entered the theatre. 

Dan Robertson and Brian Michael Bendis

 Just another one of those awesome perks of living in Portland, Oregon. It also helped that Bendis tweeted he was attending the screening. Which means we kind of Twitter stalked him. But that’s ok, right? Right? 

*NO SPOILERS AHEAD* 

I’ll avoid revealing secrets or twists, anything else you’ve already seen in the trailers.  

THE STORY 

The premise of the Kick-Ass plot is that nerdy, comic-book loving High School  dude Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) decides to dress in a costume and become a superhero, Kick-Ass

He has a few mis-steps along the way, including being stabbed in the stomach and hit by a car. This causes the insertion of metal plates around key areas of his body, which give him a higher pain tolerance and protects him from the several beatings he receives throughout the story. 

While the bulk of the movie and novel belong to Dave Lizewski/Kick-Ass (he gets the voice-over) of equal importance are the bits featuring Hit Girl and Big Daddy. In the book they are introduced as real-deal vigilante superheroes, and then are revealed to be less so by the conclusion. 

The movie kept with the authenticity of their origin story and imbued them with much more dignity and chemistry. Mark Millar’s version of Big Daddy was entirely unsympathetic. But with the help of the director Matthew Vaughn, Nicholas Cage managed to pull off a quirky character and layer him with emotion and motivation, something notably lacking in the Big Daddy on page. This was the first role I’ve seen him in, in a long freaking time, where he didn’t annoy the crap out of me. Yay him. 

On screen, Hit Girl became a multi-dimensional person who loves her father, and puts up with his superhero training antics because of this love – rather than a personal desire to kill and maim. Though she’s REALLY REALLY good at it. The best action sequences in this film belong to her. 

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Bye Bye Batwoman

My friend Hisham loaned me a couple issues of Greg Rucka’s Detective Comics: Batwoman run, and after reading through, I decided this series might be a gateway into the DC comics superhero world. I actually started scanning the interwebs for news of a series devoted to Kate Kane.

Sadly – this is not to be. At least not a version penned by Greg Rucka.

Many of you might have already heard – Greg Rucka has left DC Comics. Not just the Detective Comics series – he is dropping any books he was writing for them. Here is a post from his website explaining his reasons.

This follows quickly on the heels of my learning last week that the Spider-Woman series will be limited to only seven issues, as Alex Maleev, the artist is unable to continue with the demands of the motion-comic and the physical product. But Bendis assures us she’ll be in Avengers. Doesn’t that make you want to run out and pick up a copy?

Not me. Not really. If my post last week didn’t clarify my reservations about getting into female superhero comics, the blows dealt to heroines in the last month should help reinforce my hesitation. Not only are superheroes complicated investments of time and money, but the female-centric books are cancelled after brief stints, despite popularity, awards, steady sales and accolades heaped on them.

It’s sad to think that women may only fair well as characters in an alternate universe where we have equal standing with men. Perhaps my disillusion with superhero comic books these last few weeks is merely a symptom of my greater disillusionment with gender inequality in society.

It’s hard to blame dudes like Bendis and Rucka for trying  to bring fully realized female characters into the spotlight. It’s not their fault they can’t rewrite reality.

But women aren’t asking male comic book writers to magically gift us equality, we’re simply requesting women characters with as much intelligence, strength and intrigue as men. We want women who are strong, like the mothers, sisters, daughters, aunts, grandmothers, co-workers, and friends that surround us.

The kind of equality I seek is not in completely abolishing the unique aspects of gender that make men and women different. Those elements help create personality and character depth. What most comic books need is a writer who can create human beings with depth, nuances and character struggles. And then make an equal number of these human beings female.

Lastly it’s up to the artists to clothe them properly.

It’s a simple formula, but one that takes an incredible amount of work. It requires that you respect the experiences and viewpoints of people with whom you do not share the same sex. It might also require more females writing comic books. Sadly, it seems that none of these are things DC or Marvel or many of the smaller publishers want to commit their resources to.

That’s fine – I’ll commit my time and money to those who do.

LINK LOVE:

This dude gets it.

An article about writing strong characters, who also happen to be female.

A Crisis of Faith in Superhero Comic Books

This is all Spider-Woman’s fault. So blame her.

And by Spider-Woman, I mean Brian Michael Bendis. And by Bendis – I mean all comic book writers. Blame them.

I’ll admit that I was no fan of Secret Invasion (which killed my comic book appetite for at least a year). But now that the dust has settled, I’m back to picking up Marvel books. Lucky for me that Marvel is attempting to be more inclusive of my gender.

And that’s where Spider-Woman enters the equation.

That's right girl, exercise that Primal Scream.

Traditional superhero books have always been a difficult stretch for me. This isn’t the first time I’ve ranted about that fact either:

Maybe it’s the same reason that I never enjoyed Superman, the Justice League, Captain America or The Avengers quite as much as the X-Men because the X-Men have always been the under-dog, and I’ve always had an intense fascination with the under-dog. Wonder Woman/Superman, Batman, Captain America all get love wherever they go. Of course their duties lie in protecting and serving the American Dream.

The X-Men on the other hand were hated and feared by the general public and often their help was misconstrued as violence. So their reasoning behind saving the world was always more compelling, and constantly being questioned. Also, most of them aren’t some mystical being or aliens, which makes it easier to stomach their differences. They’re real people who struggle with oppression and bigotry.

These thoughts aside – I’m starting to wonder if my continually underwhelming attempts at continuing to read X-Men aren’t also based around some kind of nostalgia and sense of loyalty, versus a true desire for superhero books.

Which leads me to the state I’m in today…I’d love to get behind a character like Spider-Woman (she is neither magical nor an alien, just a woman who’s been seriously screwed with most of her life). In fact, judging from the Issue #1 of the new Bendis run, I’m pretty sure I’ll start becoming a regular reader.

I’d like to say the same for She-Hulk as well – I’ll probably pick up the Peter David run and read through that at some point…but there must be some reason that I don’t stop by on Wednesday to pick up these books specifically.

Spider-Woman, and the overall push for Marvel to become more woman friendly has caused me to stop and really examine the work I’m attracted to, and for what reasons.

I’m sure you’re probably thinking – it’s silly to think you have to support women centered books…men certainly don’t have a similar allegiance. Have you ever encountered a dude beating himself up for not purchasing Ultimate Spiderman because he wasn’t supporting his gender?

Sure – budget plays a factor. I can’t afford to support every single book with a woman in the lead role. Financial constraints demand that I am selective with the titles I pick up on a regular basis.

There’s time constraints too – I can only read so many comic books.

Maybe it’s processing through the decades of history behind most Superheroes that causes me to go numb when I ponder picking up their book. Consider the fact that a comic book character is a serious investment of your time and energy. Like any other person in your life – they need to prove their worth. They need to be the right fit. Because chances are – they’re going to be there for awhile. The X-Men have become permanent fixtures in my life (permanently inked on my skin, even). These books  and characters have lasted longer and produced more content than any other popular culture phenomenon in history. No, seriously.

Spider-Woman takes a moment to contemplate her long and tangled history.

With Spider-Woman, it took me about 30 minutes to read through her Wikipedia page and get all the background information. She’s a character that has been meddled very little with – aside from the Secret Invasion crap. And that’s all behind us, like some distant, bad dream. As far as I’m concerned – she’s wide open.

And that is highly appealing.

Superheroes lead lives FULL of baggage – dead relatives, failed marriages, stolen identities, murder, financial troubles. Once in awhile it’s nice to make a clean break of it, without resorting to world altering timelines. It’s funny how some creators, writers and editors think this is the proper way to achieve catharsis or transformation. If there’s something wrong with the characters –  just change the world.

I can appreciate what Bendis is doing here (at least in this first issue). Instead of saying – “Let’s completely change this person’s world (again) and have Spiderwoman in a new reality!” He’s keeping it real.

She’s actually experienced everything in her current timeline and retains the knowledge of these events. There is not going to be some magic eraser or delete button to take it all away. She’s going to survive and push on despite the decades of bullcrap weighing her down. And maybe, just maybe…she can take care of some of that baggage without having to change the world. She can simply change herself.

And by she – I mean Bendis. And by Bendis – I mean all comic book writers.

I’ll save my thoughts about motion comics and the artwork of Spider-Woman for another post.

Emerald City Comic Con 2009: A Recap

This image was the front page of the convention program.

This image was the front page of the convention program.

Dan and I hit the road around noon yesterday, on our way up to the Seattle Comic Con – otherwise known as Emerald City Comic Con. We had tentatively planned this trip a few months ago, dependent upon funds and time and the aligning of the fates.

Well, at some point last week, on the verge of deciding not to go, I checked their site to see what exciting guests might peak my interest and swing the vote. Turns out – a few, including:

Jewel Staite (Kaylee from Firefly)

Tahmoh Penikett (Helo from BSG and Paul Ballard from Dollhouse)

Ray Park (Darth Maul, Toad)

Aaron Douglas (Chief Tyrol from BSG)

Michael Hogan (Colonel Tigh from BSG)

and Wil Wheaton (Wesley Crusher from ST: Next Generation)

Pretty kick ass line up. Then I spotted in the artist/writer’s tables Mike Mignola and Greg Rucka, and was sold even further. So – Dan and I debated up until Friday evening about whether or not we would attend. Saturday morning, we decided yes.

We didn’t arrive in Seattle until around 2:30pm, and felt discouraged about attending the Con with only a few short hours on the docket. Also we were fairly sure we’d missed an opportunity to take pics with Tahmoh (my goal for the event). Instead, we secured some wireless internet – located lodging close by (a stunning Motel 6 in SeaTac) and tucked in for the night.

We hit up the awesome Pyramid Brewery, got tipsy – stopped at the store and grabbed some champagne – got even more tipsy and spent the night watching Starship Troopers until we passed out.

After a fitful night of sleep, we checked out of our motel, hit up a Denny’s and arrived at the con a mere 1.5 hours later than we had intended. Oh – not to mention that whole day we missed too. 🙂 More madness behind the link…

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Review Mashup AND Suggestions Please!

I promised a review of Black Hole by Charles Burns and Goldfish by Brian Michael Bendis, but I was feeling so lackluster about both (I didn’t finish Goldfish, even though I liked the initial opening), that I haven’t been able to rally the motivation. Except for tonight – so here we go…

Black Hole was an intriguing metaphorical trip into HS during the 70s, with a touch of an AIDS like sexually transmitted disease that forever turns the victim into a mutant. And as with American Born Chinese, I just wasn’t able to connect as much with the material.

I felt Black Hole was too myopic and depressing – it ladled on it’s message and subject matter thickly. It managed to do this while telling an engrossing story, but there is something about being heavily preached to while reading a comic that can be off-putting at times.

I know. I know. I’ve cried about needing more meat in my books. But I felt as a reader – slightly mocked by the artistry in this book. And it was very DARK. It made me think of suicide and skeletons in the closet and all sorts of seedy things.

It felt like reading someone’s diary. A dirty diary.

So – I know – why am I bitching about it?

It’s not really bitching, I swear. Comics are capable (like all art forms) of affecting a delicate balance between story and theme, but in this case – the book seemed heavily laden with theme.

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Try the Sampler Platter

Reviewed here: American Born Chinese, Faker and Off Road

My latest trip to the library not only yielded me around $20 in overdue fines (damn the man!) but also a stack of about 20 tpb/graphic novels to consume. I’m going to forego lengthy blogs about each for a review snack pack of three books in particular.

#1

american-born-chinese-jacket-cover1American Born Chinese written and illustrated by Gene Luen Yang. It was nominated for a National Book Award in 2006 for young adult literature, the first graphic novel to ever have that honor.

So – sounds pretty tasty right? Sounds like something meaty I could sink my teeth into, what with seeing it on many folks Top 10 Lists popping up all over the net.

This book was engaging, but never resonated with me on a strong emotional level. On a literary level, I appreciated the artistry and craft that went into intertwining the three different stories together. The art, with the muted color palette and clean, thick lines works well with the theme, and is especially pronounced during the Chinese mythology sequences.

Again – this didn’t catch me in any emotional core – and that could simply be my inexperience with how young-adult Asian Americans might experience America. I could get on board with the concept of being an outsider, teased and tortured by classmates, and those lovely awkward first moments trying to woo the opposite sex. There were definite laugh-out-loud moments…but there were also sections that I feel alienated from.

I would suggest this for it’s intended audience – which is young adults, and not just the Asian American ones –  but I can’t say it’s going to make any of my Top 10 lists.

#2

Faker. Written by (yet another British dude) current X-Men scribe Mike Carey and illustrated by (yet another British dude) Jock (aka Mark Simpson). It’s published by the fun and edgy DC Vertigo label.

Here is what I’ve been thinking lately: I love Marvel’s line of popular superheroes. And I love DC/Vertigo’s naughty and subversive “adult” content.

The cover art is actually what initially spurred me to pick this book up – and the name Carey splattered in the white space held a special kind of promise, as he is right in the midst of gutting my beloved mutants, I thought I’d see what kind of extracurricular shenanigans he’s been getting himself into.

For a British dude – he’s writing expertise sure can cater to my assumptions of what Minnesota college students are like. He gets that compliment right off the bat. But seriously – this is a thoroughly engaging story, and I found myself nearly consuming it in one setting. Mostly because I was stood up for an orientation, and had an hour to kill waiting around in Starbucks to see if the person really would show.

They didn’t. But I clipped cleanly through the pages and emerged on the other end.

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