Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Houston Con Goers - Please Read!

Hey comic book folks. Gonna offer you some information on upcoming events.

There are two events coming up in August. One is Amazing Houston Comic Con, and the other is Space City Con: Houston, TX (which has changed its name to "Houston Con")

As you know, two conventions of a similar type probably won't last very long in the same city in the same month. People can't spend that kind of money twice.

So I've poked around and I've got a bit of information for you all.

Amazing Con
-Also has a convention in Vegas and Arizona
-Definitely has at least one top industry name, despite his issue with feet (Love ya Liefield!)
-And is brand new to the market of Houston

Houston Con
-Changed their name from Space City Con (quoted as reorganized)
-Went Bankrupt as Space City Con
-Has not managed space well in my experience

I am obviously biased at this point. I've been to SSC before, but I have not been to Amazing. I wasn't pleased with SSC when I attended, and yanno... it's not for everyone, but now I have to worry about the fact that people might go to SSC/HC and spend their time and hard earned money, and NOT attend Amazing which is later in the month, which could be a much better con and I feel really deserves a chance in the Houston market. If it fails hard because of SSC/HC I doubt they would come back.

Also, name changing after a bankruptcy just screams sneaky to me and I'm not a big fan of it. BUT, that said, I have information that the cause for having to close the doors was related to poor sales and some very serious electronics malfunctions. That definitely adds weight to the fact that it wasn't a shady deal going on.

So, please pass this around. Let your friends and possible attendees know, and I know many vendors/artists and friends of vendors/artists occasionally read what I type. I want people making an informed decision regardless of what it is.


-Colt

Monday, May 26, 2014

Comicpalooza 2014 - Part 2 : Poisitve Thoughts

I'm so giddy about this part. I get to relive large moments of a great con, and let my readers in on so many things that media and news won't cover because they weren't REALLY there. However, I'm going to break this down a little, so that people can go to the sections that interested them. I don't want to waste your time.

Registration-

It was FAST. It may have been a huge line, but man did it move. The individual running Will Call was excellent at making sure his volunteers were always handling a customer, and those volunteers were expedient, friendly, and genuinely happy to be there and helping.

As a VIP my shwag bag was missing a few things that I had not noticed at the time of registration. I didn't have to worry. About an hour later I walked up to one of the volunteers and told them, and they quickly drug me over to a booth, filled my bag up with the goodies I was missing and a few extra to boot. It was awesome.

(However, my VIP badge apparently belonged to another individual originally as it had her name on the back. When I went to ask someone about this, the three volunteers standing around not doing anything actually told me "Well, be glad you got a badge"... that irked me, but yanno... not every volunteer is useful, nice, etc and the excellent treatment made up for that small annoyance)

Artists-

The talent this year held many of the same wonderful artists from years back, but on top of that several very large names in comics were in attendance, and everybody was glad to see me and any other individual that came to their table. (except Mike Mignola and Neal Adams... they just did not appear to be enjoying themselves nor felt like engaging their HUGE fan base. Bad day? Maybe. Rough night? Possibly. Eithere way, small bits of some peoples soul were chipped away by the reception they got from these two individuals)

Stan Lee. Seriously. Generalissimo! Regardless of where you fall in liking Stan Lee due to the Kirby Conspiracy or not... he's such an enjoyable figure. He was friendly, engaging, and must have a bionic hand (seriously... thousands of signatures I'm sure). His handlers might have been a little "move it along and don't waste our time", but I can't actually blame them for that... there were a lot of people and everybody needed their fan time.

CGC. They've never been a presence at 'Palooza before that I have seen. They were very noticeable this year, and it was a great thing. I feel like seeing several signs for folks grading comics is one of the true signs of becoming a big convention. Not only can you have a great time meeting the creators of your childhood, but you can verify that you had that great time with a memory that will last forever in it's air tight packaging!!

The Live Art Auction. This is my FAVORITE part of this entire show. The chance to watch so many amazing artists perform in front of you is not only a treat but an awe inspiring event. Not only that but all of the money raised goes to the Ronald McDonald House. It's a wonderful cause, and an amazing chance to own some of the most amazing art!!! (I continued my streak of winning a few pieces and could not be happier!)

Games-

If you read my negative thoughts, you might be shocked to hear this, but the entire set up was superbly done. Schedules were met, tons of prizes and free gifts were handed out as well as many a newcomer taught how to play games. Whoever ran this part of the convention needs a pay raise. They nailed it hard!!!

They had an extensive library of games that you could rent by simply giving the coordinator your drivers license until you were done, and he was quite knowledgeable on many of the games and a really enjoyable individual to listen to. He was passionate about his gaming, while also able to refrain from being overbearing. It was a perfect combination for a man in his position, and it allowed me to learn several new games too! (Takenoko, Smashup, Dixit, Small World, and Kittens in a Blender *no actual kittens were harmed in the playing of this game)

Vendors-

Far from overbearing. Willing to haggle with their prices. Eager to help you find what you wanted. Unique. Original works. They were there to make money, but they weren't draining you of every dime you owned. Some of the best vendors I've seen at conventions.

Comic book sellers. There were sooo many more than last year. It was refreshing and wonderful for us hardcore comic nerds. There is nothing quite like rooting through bins looking for that one issue you need or finding a gem inside of a box of comics. (To find this gem I suggest Floyd's comics, because he had some SERIOUSLY awesome goods in his dollar boxes of comics and even if he was shocked to see it, he'd sell it for the dollar anyways!)

Panels/Shows-

I really wish I'd gotten around to more panels and I'm not sure I can truly give any type of comments on them in detail, but I can say that After Midnight was a treat as always, and the Video Game Themed Burlesque show by Dem Damn Dames was uproariously funny and one of the best memories of the convention (Not JUST because of bewbs. Their Mega Man MC had me rolling in tears of laughter). I really hope they bring them back next year. It was worth every bit of my time.

Celebrities-

Every now and again you may end up with a few stuffy celebrities that just don't seem fun, or may not appear to enjoy their fans and the atmosphere. Not this year.

Everybody was smiles, waves and eager to give their fans memories, though one man stood out from the crowd and not only went the extra mile, but did a couple of laps while he was at it.

John Barrowman. Malcolm Merlyn. Captain Jack. If he wasn't hamming it up and feeding his fans his own enthusiasm, he could be found hugging a special service animal, witnessing a gay couples engagement at the front of his booth, or making out with a Cosplaying Pam's Dolphin puppet while sitting in her lap (Seriously... there are pictures). Even of site there was a story by my friend that he, Cary Elwes, and several others were the loudest and happiest people in Mia's for dinner and were enjoying themselves immensely!

He has the recipe down. He knows that life is about enjoyment and he seeks it out and drags his fans along with him for the ride. This man is doin it right! And I honestly wasn't much of a fan until after this convention. I've watched some of Arrow, and I hear about Torchwood occasionally, but until he showed how deep his love for his fans and these conventions were, I just didn't know how awesome he was.

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So there. There is so much more to tell. I could go on for days. But this will have to do unless I get more interest. I'm afraid these long blogs may get a lot of tl;dr, but this was as short as I could make them.

In closing, Comicpalooza is the largest Southwest Comic Convention in the United States. They offer awesomeness for all walks of the nerd life, and they have proven very thoroughly throughout the years that they are not only worth my money, but they are worthy of my promotion and eagerness to see them continue to grow.

Thank you 'Palooza for giving me so many amazing memories for years to come.

Comicpalooza 2014 - Part 1 : Negative Thoughts

I'll try to go into more detail later, but for now I'll spend just a second throwing out my gut reactions of the convention. I'll start off with bad, because honestly I enjoyed the con immensely and I'd like this blog to end on an upbeat note.

The volunteers at the doors. These people had less of a clue as to what was going on than even the regular con goers. On Friday, the volunteers at hall D were adamant that ONLY Doctor Who badges were allowed in at 11:30, which had those of us who dropped 150$ to get the VIP badges all in a tizzy... a flesh rending, howling tizzy. Several of us showed them the app AND their web page where it mentioned we would be allowed early access. They said they didn't care.

Now, I'm going to break the story for a moment. People... PEOPLE... if you don't know, you do NOT tell a swarm of nerds that they aren't allowed to get what they paid for. I don't say this because I am the crazy disgruntled type... I say this because I witnessed what might have been a defining moment in nerddom, rivaled only by the Red Wedding.

So... back to my tale. They didn't care. And then suddenly they cared a lot, because every VIP badge holder, Every.Single.One., (Including me... herd mentality yo!) channeled Bruce Banner and started that slow shuffle towards the individual at the door in that calmly menacing manner (While growing green and VERY large) that causes your dog to tuck tail and make himself very small and leave a small puddle on the ground...

The short wrap up of this tale is that we got in 5 minutes earlier than we were supposed to. The longer ending is that a janitor was probably needed, and the doofus at door D was replaced by an individual with more competence and a higher instinct for self preservation.

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Next is really just a continuation of the last complaint in different form.

So, the game and panel area is pretty much separate from the convention. Getting up to those areas does not require a badge, and pretty frequently individuals have to leave the first floor proper to get to a panel on time. Not a big deal. Real simple.

Until you get out of your panel and go back downstairs to get into the convention and door nazi tells you that you have to go to the back of the LAAAAAARGE (1-2hr long line) of people that just bought their wristbands to get into the convention that is outside the convention in the sweltering heat. I'm sorry... It was NEVER overly crowded inside. I cannot fathom a reason that there was a line to begin with, but I won't dwell on that. I will simply state that if I have been inside the con already and still have my "amulet of admittance", under no circumstances should I be forced into a line to wait to regain entry. The convention forced me to go upstairs for it's programming and leave it's dealer/vendor/artist room behind... it's not like I wanted to "leave the convention".

Now, I don't know the particulars of how everything works for admittance, but I can suggest a quick idea, which is simply instead of allowing people entry into the con ONLY through the C hall entrance, allow people with badges (of all types) their own entrance. It would be the least we could do, because seriously... 99% of us probably paid early, without knowing the celebrities or the panels. We gave our money to the convention based on faith.... not forcing us to wait in line every time we leave the con or go between sections of the con is the LEAST that could be done for us.

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The gaming room. I was actually upset by this little tidbit which I experienced every night of the convention. The scheduled time for the game room to shut down was a complete lie. Every night, we were told to leave early (from 1 -2 hours early in fact) by either a policeman/woman or by an official saying that the nursing staff was going home so we couldn't be there.

That is unacceptable. The convention stated it's times and by not being able to fulfill them, they pretty much ruined several gamers nights, because honestly... there is a large crowd of individuals that only come to the con to be in that game room, and some of them came late with the expectation of being able to complete a 4-5hr game, but being unable to due to whatever snafu caused it to shut down early. Regardless, it should be an easy fix next year as long as the con knows to address it.

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My last and final beef isn't even really a big beef. It's just a moment of reminiscence to last year and something they did right that they didn't due this year. The Battlepods. One of the best fun you can have blowing up your buddies in giant metal robots... except it takes time. You have to wait in line, wait for your name to be called, and generally invest quite a bit of time for 10 minutes of play. Not something you generally want to do in the prime time hours of the convention. It is just a video game and they ARE Houston based, so you can always play the game at some other day. So, the fact that they were located in the dealer area meant that they shut down at 7 with the rest of that area and the chance for fun was over.

Last year, they were up in the gaming area. It was open till 2am. The excitement of the would wind down and people would transfer upstairs for the last few panels and to get their gamer nerd on... and there they were. The nuclear powered awesomeness that can only be 100 tons of steel under your direct, maniacal, control... and it was good. We would all line up and play into the night.

This was ideal. They made tons of money, the after hours portion of the show had a very prominent draw to keep people enjoying themselves and, I bet that the Battlepods owners made a lot more money.

Now, this could have happened at the request of the Battlepod owners, that they were moved downstairs, so I won't blame this on the convention runners at all... but I will say that it had a better home upstairs where we con goers could make use of it for so much longer into the night.

So, that is my initial negative reactions to Comicpalooza, and while it is a very lengthy post, if you've made it this far you should really understand that I just ramble on. The show was great. These issues (minus the early gaming shut down and being pushed outside into a line 3-4 times a day) were miniscule in scope and only a nit picky attention seeking blogger like myself would ever put them into words for the world to see.

Stay tuned for my positive commentary in a second blog, because it will definitely highlight why this is such a great con.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Threat - Stratum Comics (Austin Based)


It actually threatens to be a great book! I'm not goign to spoil any of the story, but I have to say the direction of the first two issues has allowed for a solid vision of the writer's intent as well as promised an exciting (And Interesting) future.

The art work as well as the coloring is far from standard fare for an independent companies title. I was impressed by the coloring specifically, as I have always felt that was one of the hardest jobs, to keep from detracting from the art itself while also adding something because the color exists at all.

My only problem is, I don't enjoy the layout of the book. It feels incredibly cookie cutter with the layout of it's panels. There were many chances to provide dynamic layouts that excited a readers eye and kept their eyes busy with more than just the art and the text. The standard non overlapping rectangles and squares actually detracted from the readability of the comic book for me, but perhaps they will take bigger chances and trend towards something innovative in the future, and even if I continue to find it troublesome, the story is definitely enough to keep me searching for the title!

I reccomend this book. It isn't the heroes you know, nor is it the same old story rehashed. It's new and fresh and I think you will find it worth a read. I would, however, suggest borrowing it from a friend or reading it in the shop to see if you like it. It comes at a steep five dollar price tag, which is slightly understandable for a local publisher, but still a lot of money for a comic book you may be taking a chance on.

For anyone interested, this is Stratum Comics facebook page! Go like them and keep up to date with all of their projects!

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Stratum-Comics/105131222880735

Graduate - Comics From Home


First off, this is one of the first comics from the new company Overground Comics. For many years now I have seen John Hughes at his booth at Comicpalooza, and last weekend I showed up to Space City Con and low and behold he is now a part of a new company here in Houston, making the first moves to push a new comic book company towards the ranks of DC and Marvel! Which is great on so many levels. I'm tired of the underground comics scene. I want to see a new big dog rise up and show DC and Marvel that they aren't the only powerhouses in the industry.

Enough of that though. Lets talk about this book.

Written By: John Hughes
Drawn By: Celia Calle

The story is intriguing. It follows Natalie, an invulnerable teenage girl, on her way to be trained to be a hero, and ends with a rather traumatic, in transit, event that leaves her with a strengthened resolve.

I find myself wanting to read the next couple of issue. This is obviously just an opener for what is hopefully a book with more substance and content, but I can't help but find myself displeased with the lack of emotion from the main character. Sure, she shouts and screams when she needs to, but I never get a sense of dread or fear from here (which could be attributable to her invulnerability), but what about the fear for those around her, or any sort of sorrow after events unfold in the book.

I've often felt that the first issue should immediatley form a connection between the reader and the main character. I'm not sure the frst issue has accomplished this at all. She doesn't show very many human qualities/emotions beyond shock, surprise, and a panels worth of determination.

Tracking down subsequent issues of Overground comics is going to be a chore and a puzzle all on it's own, but I can honestly say I will try to keep up with it, just to see if it isn't a slow starter and will be steamrolling after a couple of issues.

The art isn't entirely to my liking. It's edgy, it's different. I can appreciate that alot of people will find it aesthetically pleasing. It feels to me as though each scene is viewed through a slightly warped lense, and the artist was intent on finishing as fast as possible. I would compare it to Ben Templsemith's work (who I am NOT a fan of, but acknowledge his greatness nonetheless).

I am sure plenty of you will enjoy the art. Don't let my own personal preferences push you away from the book.

Stick with me. If I can hunt down more issues and maybe get into contact with the owners and talk with them about their vision for the companies as well as the character, I can shed a brighter light onto this title as well as their others!

 For anyone interested, this is Stratum Comics facebook page! Go like them and keep up to date with all of their projects!

https://www.facebook.com/overgroundcomiccompany

Sidekick, a real world look at a dynamic duo!


First, I'm a huge JMS fan. I'm so much of a fan that if I didn't like his book, I am unsure if I could retain journalistic integrity and post on it anyways. (This hasn't been the case yet) He's just that damn good.

And Sidekick is shaping up to be no less than another huge top seller.

What does a Sidekick do when his whole life becomes meaningless? His Hero and leader is dead. He has no money, and he's stuck with the guilt of not saving the life of his great friend. Apparently he turns to hookers and booze while desperately trying to kick start (literally) his career or find another champion of justice to cling to.

However, by the end of the first issue, there are some new opportunities that definitely give our imaginations an interesting avenue to meander down.

Pick it up and read it. It will not disappoint.

"Villains Month" or "Watch DC Eff everyone over Month"


Honestly. The jokes on all of us. Nobody but DC will win during Villains month.

So they've replaced ALL of the main titles and are instead introducing a villain taking over said title. Very cool idea. Lets make it just a bit cooler. They are going to make all of the villain titles 3-D and look pretty deggum slick.

Now, lets allow comic book shops around the world to take pre-orders on these 3D titles and then, well after that, inform everyone that DC will be deciding how many 3D comics each store will be getting. Not the distributors... Diamond doesn't have a say in this. DC is laying down the law.

And suddenly the stores have to somehow deal with the fact that their customers may not be getting what they preordered, which inevitably will cause the stores to take blame as opposed to DC. Let's twist the knife a bit more... DC has made sure that 2D first prints will be available to all of the stores to fill the rest of their orders. So all of those people who are collecting these 3D comics can suddenly tell their store that they have no interest in the 2D comic and now the store is left holding the bag on a bunch of comics that nobody wants, because it  was NEVER what they ordered to begin with.

There are so many tiny consequences to this that can land comic book stores in trouble. I'm not even going to go into it.

I'll just wrap up in saying that apparently DC is taking on the Evil facade this month in the office to help support their comic book!