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Tag Archive | Dark Horse Comics

Wonder Northwest 2011: Recap

Sad to say – even with no expectations, Wonder Northwest did not live up to them. The DH and I each bought a weekend pass but only ended up attending Day One. It was advertised as a Comics and Pop Culture expo, but was severely lacking in the comics department.

Zombie fun at Wonder Northwest

The show floor was anemic compared to either Stumptown or the Portland Comic Book Show. The only publisher there was Dark Horse Comics. TFAW and Cosmic Monkey were representing with some books and a few artists/creators were sprinkled about…but mostly it was Toys and Collectibles. Those are the elements I usually steer clear of at cons. Did pick up two hardcover collections of The Stand and The Dark Tower series however. Digging on the Stephen King adaptations.

I did appreciate the live DJ (lots of great soul songs) but the volume made it difficult to chat so I’m kinda glad there weren’t artists or writers I wanted to see. We wouldn’t have been able to talk anyway. The booths in the registration area were cool – lots of great Portland organizations like PDXYar, The Alter Egos Society and PDX Browncoats representing.

All of the panel offerings were enticing, if not heavily attended. We were bummed to miss the Boilerplate, Zombie Epidemiology and Geeking Back to the Community panels due a series of unfortunate events (late arrival, leaving to put on zombie makeup, forgetting ID and having to drive home and back). I’m sure the costume contest on Sunday was awesome too, but we opted for dinner with my fam instead.

I guess what really threw me was the average age of the attendee. At least 50% of those in attendance were teens or early 20s. Loads of anime kids in costumes. It just made me feel so incredibly old! Didn’t really start enjoying myself until we hit up the hotel bar for a Zombie (the alcoholic beverage) and watched some nerdy Rock Band. Sadly cut short for zombie evening exploits.

The Zombie Walk itself was lackluster compared to previous outings and getting all dressed up didn’t seem worth it by the time we got to the Bossanova Ballroom for the Zombie Prom. We arrived 30 minutes early to stand outside in the evening drizzle. Eventually many of the other folks split off and filtered on over to the Lovecraft for the official after party.

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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.

Sugarshock and Dark Horse Presents

The first encounter with Sugarshock by Joss Whedon took place entirely online. No…I didn’t steal it from teh internetz. It was offered up FREE of charge at Dark Horse Comics Myspace Presents way back in 2007. It’s still available in back issues of the online publication.

What lead to the discovery of Sugarshock was actually following Carolyn Main, a local Portland artist and HS friend of my DH. Who is now my internet friend. Though we have yet to meet in person I do stalk her through the cyber-webs and followed a link she’d posted one day – which spit me out at Dark Horse Presents, and into the arms of some lovely comic book fare.

MySpace is sort of like Friendster now…in that nobody uses it. I’ve actually deleted my page because it was way too wide open to the public…and I never used it. Which leaves the obvious question – how long Dark Horse will be using this medium to publish previews and one-offs. It looks like they already took a month break while Myspace laid off a crap ton of it’s staff, and in the interim published the content on the official Dark Horse site. This seems like a better landing spot than having folks access the material on a venue that is rapidly becoming obsolete.

I don’t particularly care for webcomics. There, I said it. I want my comic content published in print. But there is something refreshing about previewing content online or publishing a one-shot on the web. It’s the freedom to fully browse the book you generally don’t get in a comic shop. Smart stuff.

However, entirely online comics can be confusing and frustrating for a collector. Especially if we find something we genuinely like and will want to read more than once – or prominently display on our bookshelves. To resolve the despair of folks who feel more comfortable with a solid literary object in our hands (re: will NEVER own a Kindle) – Dark Horse prints and distributes some of it’s online content.

The actual Sugarshock book appeared on the shelves in October 2009, nearly a full two years after it appeared online. And since I’d already read and loved it in the ethers, when I was at Floating World Comics the other day – I snatched it off the shelves and purchased it.

What’s so wonderful about this book? It has a zany, off-the-wall humor which Whedon hasn’t unveiled since the early days of Buffy, and makes for a fun, quick read. It features a mostly female cast (with a robot dude thrown in for good measure). It’s about a rock band battle in outer space. The title makes me think of “Soft Shock” from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

If you loved that one – check out the acoustic version.

Oh, and Sugarshock is an Eisner Award Winner. This was back in 2008, which was the year of Joss in comics (Astonishing X-Men, Buffy and Angel all rolling along).

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Batman: The Dark Knight

This review is going to be tempered with the admonishment that I consumed one shot of alcohol, an alcoholic beverage – and three slices of pizza JUST before seeing this movie.

So – I was a bit giddy and giggly as I entered the theatre, and may not have been in my right mind for much of the first half.

And as with Hellboy 2 – it might be a statement of the movie itself if one of my favorite aspects was “The Watchmen” trailer – which had me in AWE! I’m sorry, but this film has the potential to become my all-time favorite comic book movie. It’s finally a film that I know the source material well, and it looks visually stunning. There is so much meaty content to this picture, even Zak Snyder could not fuck it up.

Another fun aspect of TDK was going to a Friday night release in a packed theatre, with people who actually seemed genuinely excited to see the flick. As opposed to the last couple of screenings I’ve endured, where the general audience response was fairly lackluster.

Batman knows how to pack ’em in.

As for the film itself – I am going to say it is a worthy runner-up to Batman Begins. It’s following the trend of “serious” Comic Book film adaptations that don’t mince around too heavily in cheese-pot dialogue and too many shots of spandex.

In fact – remove the silly names like “Batman, Joker, Two Face” etc, and you pretty much have yourself a modern day action movie. There were heavy themes such as terrorism, and a commentary on heroes and villains that I thought was intriguing. I’m not very familiar with the Batman comic mythos, or even the TDK source material, but I felt like it was doing DC’s favorite caped crusader justice. Ah, justice was a theme too! How proper.

I will admit to liking the Villains better than the bat. Heath Ledger pulled off an amazingly eerie performance, with so many disturbing and somehow unique character ticks…I think his portrayal will probably be legendary.

Aaron Eckhart breathed life and soul into Two Face – a villian I remember having sympathy and compassion for from the “Batman Animated Series” back in the yester-years of my childhood.

Also notable – Morgan Freeman (when is he NOT good? Oh yeah, Wanted) as Lucius Fox, and Michael Caine as Alfred were charming. Together these characters had some of the meatier dialogue in the film. In fact, I would say they were almost scene stealing.

Thumbs up to Christopher Nolan for recognizing their potential to spice up these bit parts, and bringing real heart to a film that was overall very dark.

It was dark, insanely fast paced AND LONG. Holy crap – I had no idea this film was three hours going in, but it definitely felt like three hours coming out. Not that I would say three hours wasted. It was worth seeing, but it had a little bit of “Return of the King“-itis, in that I spotted at least three to four distinct endings that were not really endings.

I’m a bit bummed by the ACTUAL ending, which I won’t divulge here…but I was hoping for more screen time out of this particular character. Nuts to all that, I suppose.

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Nabbing The Goon

I picked up this comic book for Dan because it was published by Dark Horse (publisher of Hellboy and BPRD to name a few ). I also remembered reading a little blurb about it in Wizard a few years ago. The cover caught my eye, and it seemed amusing in a bizarre way, which is right up Dan’s alley.

Did he love it? Of course he freaking did! We have a good enough relationship (what with the knowing each other for 5 years) that we can pick up a movie, book, comic, action figure, food item, CD, video game, etc – and know perfectly well how the other will enjoy it.

Needless to say, Dan loves The Goon, written and drawn by Eric Powell. Me – not so much in love. It’s a bit too silly and random for me. I like meaty, contenty comics but it’s not needed all the time. Comics can also be entertaining.

Dan digs the writing style and will laugh out loud about it. I paged through one book and chuckled a bit. What really attracts me is the Art, which is what initially captured my attention. It works well with the humor, and I love the characters. It’s fairly cartoon-y, but Powell brings a nice zest to it, and I would definitely read his books if I didn’t have a huge stack of other things to delve through and report about.

I’ve been trying like hell to get Dan to “guest star” in this blog, because his tastes differ from mine in the comic world. He tends to like what I like, but he also has his own personal favorites that I don’t particularly care to read. And vice versa. Anywho – he insists he cannot write (bullshit) but I figured I could do something in his stead, and plug the book that he’s reading.

Also worth noting – The Goon is being made into a computer animated film. Apparently the film will be directed by David Fincher. I’m not sure how live-action directors translate to computer-animated directors…and since that really isn’t my field, I won’t do too much speculating in this area. I like a few of David Fincher‘s movies, so he’s got approval from me.

Which I think is a perfect medium for this comic. The humor is irreverent, random and a bit silly. It would be incredibly challenging to capture in live-action. I will for sure see this when it comes out, and not just because Dan will inevitably drag me to it.

I think the main element lacking for me in The Goon is a really cohesive storyline. It’s basically a series of funny one-shot stories strung together (at least in the two TPBs I read). If I could see a plot forming from all of them, it would be different. I would love to see this material made into a movie, because a plot would have to be hammered out in order for the film to work on any level. I know one exists within the structure of the series, but it would be lovely to condense the weird down into a fun 90 minute chunk.

My point, I guess – is that The Goon entertains, but never quite enlightens.

And I suppose the English major in me demands structure and some mentally engaging elements in the story in order for me to keep reading through. The Goon doesn’t satisfy on all those levels…but is worth checking out for a fun, zany trip into Powell’s weird world.

Much Love, Mindy C