Optimous Douche here. Pay close attention to this man’s shirt. He was selling nothing…except prophetic insight as to what will lie ahead in the realm of comics at Wizard World 2014.
It’s not a slight, merely a marker of where profitability now lies in the land of geek. The high-end talent at this years’ extravaganza inside the Philadelphia Convention Center were squarely in line with the interests’ of the masses. Dr. Who, Walking Dead, the allure of huffing in these stars’ pheromones is what enticed the city of brotherly love (and Jersey). Instead of letting the waned presence of DC, Marvel and Image booths bother me this year, I decided to revel in my own interests outside the funny books and enjoy the exuberant squeals of fans when Whoopi Goldberg, the cast from Firefly would appear around corners. Even Curtis Armstrong, Booger from Revenge of the Nerds, couldn’t walk six steps without a fan hitting his gate or stopping it completely.
I do believe both Marvel and DC should try to crush this bitch in ‘15 to prop up their incoming tsunami of serial movies. But that’s the future, in ’14 indie comics ruled and this even goes for those creators who sit or sat upon continuity high once. There were a handful of big guns, but 98% of them were more interested in passion projects and the future than what they are doing in the bigger publishing run books presently.
I also had so many WTF are the big two thinking conversations that I thought I was a Tron literally inside a message board. Many an indie publisher will be very happy in coming months at the invasion of talent looking to pillage their pages. I won’t drop the dime on any one creator; just know guys that if you could talk about this stuff amongst your circles you WILL find kindred spirits of frustration.
Comics – The Big Guns
Neal Adams was on hand basically enjoying the just deserved spoils for his years of labor. Always willing to look up from commissions to share a story or an anecdote, he is the true pinnacle of what the golden comic years should be. His signature on material also isn’t that highly marked up. SUPERMAN VS. MUHAMMAD ALI was pretty close to retail. “Well, what about the creators that charge nothing Optimous?” They are rare and most are still working or talked about names.
This is the art of JG Jones. While I know his fame is steeped in DC and BKV I have a hard spot for Emma Frost. JG is working on something and will reveal it soon. He told me, but stole my phone and then slipped me a forget me now pill.
Jim Calafiore of X-MEN and many a’ other book fame, was on hand featuring a book he recently did with Gail Simone called LEAVING MEGAGOPOLIS. Spurred by fan outrage around the canceling of SECRET SIX, Jim and Gail decided to write a tale they wanted to tell about the safest city on earth until the heroes one day go bat shit. The part that intrigued me the most was the fact the entire story is told from the vantage point of normal folks trying to escape the city, which basically twists a one note concept into some high concept survival horror. Volume II is being talked about now.
I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating – you want the pre 52 DC than look no further than INJUSTICE GODS AMONG US. Don’t be faked into thinking this is some video game tie-in bullshit, this story packs punch and Mike S. Miller’s art is just as much to do with this success as Taylor’s words. Mike let slip that this book will most likely encompass the five year span that kicks off to the video game (we are in year two right now, so still plenty of time folks) and we might be seeing this book delivered weekly soon in the coming months.
I felt really really bad for the things I said about MY LITTLE PONY on this Ain’t It Cool – Poptards – Spoiler Alert – @Mark_L_MILLER – robpatey.com – @mattadlercomics podcast after meeting the book’s delightful artist Agnes Garbowska.
Now, for all my bitching about lack of booth size presence, I will give credit to Zenescope for once again buying a sizeable footprint of space. While there is the cheesecake, this is cheese steak local company who I always give a chance before I get dismissive about some lovely lady lumps. I really really enjoyed the WONDERLAND SERIES, and I’ll admit bias here because I wrote the back-up stories, but also Mark L. Miller’s JUNGLE BOOK.
Ethan Van Sciver and Greg Capullo were also on hand. Ethan’s table was buzzing with tons of commission work and perusing so I didn’t want to halt a man making money and Greg’s line was 14 miles long. Sorry, I wait in no lines.
Comics – Small Budgets, BIG IDEAS!
Again, the ¼ of the hall that was devoted to comics was comprised of 98% indie books. I didn’t cover them all; in fact I didn’t cover many this year. Frankly, for the first time I was discerning and editorialized my coverage as I was investigating.
I see a pattern after covering this beat for the past six years, there are some books that will live and die here. Hey, you dig rolling this way and you can profit off your footprint, rock on. I simply can’t cover the same story year after year. This is a cool one and our first foray into the aforementioned indie prevalence, THE LAST WEST is an awesome premise and a quite finely polished book for rolling off presses not fueled by movie or mouse money. What if one family drove all human innovation and then said fuck you once they almost gave us the bomb? A 2014 very different than the one we know. Co-writer, Lou Iovino said Volume II is coming. Oh, for all of you upstarts looking for a best-practice Kickstarter template, feast your peepers on Lou and crew.
ADAM12 is a book set in hometown Philly, an apocalyptic Chinese run Philly where a man is seeking to reignite the Garden of the Eden, but still Philly. Written by Gigio Longo with art by a fellow IUP theater grad, Nick Suders, you can catch the first five issues of the six-issue arc now and the final chapter soon.
TRAILER PARK OF TERROR is my one exception to greeting show staples. This redneck Tales from the Crypt has spawned a pretty well done movie and is a really fun read with a ton of volumes for noobs to dive into. I’ll also admit a personal bias in the fact I am very good friends with one of the stars in the movie, the very talented Trish Stahl who plays Larlene.
Artist Bill McKay describes NIGHT OF THE 80’S UNDEAD as George Romero meets John Hughes. 3 issues in with fourth on the horizon, I don’t know any child of Reagan who wouldn’t have been drawn to the cover with a zombie filled Delorean just as I was. However, it takes a super nerd to see the Justice League International homage on issue 2.
I was drawn to Christine Kerrick’s booth because it was such a serene juxtaposition to the rest of the sensory cacophony. Her comic EMPIRE with the beautifully drawn ascending bride on the cover was another strong pull. EMPIRE is a 3 issues series about a girl tragically falling in love amidst the events from the Book of Revelations.
Primal Paper Comics heralds from Norfolk Virginia and are self described as basically Image with no money. I was able to speak with Justin Cristelli about his title RED KNIGHT. This is the story of a man who was once one of the best superheroes until the day the government required a license. I also spoke with Jeff Hewitt about his book THE ENDS. This is about superheroes at the end of the world, the C and D list heroes since all the good ones have left town. What I like best about PRIMAL PAPER is they are doing this for the love of the game with the appropriate level of dedication. You need more than A book folks for a comic series, the boys at primal are well on their way with many months of material.
Quirk Books is at the end merely because they are not quite a comic publisher. They are however firmly steeped in geek and even more awesome they are local to old city. Their books like PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES and WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE’S STAR WARS are awesome reads and deserve every bit of the national recognition that put them on the map. They also have a new book called THE GEEK’S GUIDE TO DATING that had one guy dressed as Blade and about as smart as Wesley Snipes afro believing he might actually touch a real woman.
I have nothing against merch, in fact I love the world of branded items and statues. Sadly, I don’t have the square footage for cases and my freakish form means there is never a t-shirt or well…anything that can properly draw my 6’ 5” frame. This never stops my eye from wandering though. Now, despite my aversions, I am still aware and the marketer in me marveled at the utter stupidity of this year’s vendors.
Here’s a tip, if you are selling something not in the realm of geekdom you still MUST have hot girls who are dressed in geek like fare. I’m talking to you foot insoles or iPhone paraphernalia. And even if you are hocking geek wares, still get some hot girls because folks like this dude, who was selling something Bluetooth related had more people in his stand than the rotund steampunk booth across the aisle. [sermon off]
Stylinonline.com impressed me the most with their wide variety of wares. I hooked in by their several hundred feet of belts honoring all realms of geekdom. Dr. Who, superheroes, Sci-Fi…anything to keep pants aloft and butt cracks hidden.
Then, like any typical man, I saw stylinonline’s revealing lady ware. Since my cross-dressing has been relegated these days to Sundays and Christmas, my attention was easily drawn to these awesome robes. Be an Orange Lantern, be Robin, but most of all be comfy in these warm wraps. And yes, I felt the material. Where most merch is about as soft as cardboard, these were actually a really high thread count with a bit of down thrown in for good measure.
The Drive Away...
It was another great year at Wizard World Philadelphia, especially now that I have accepted the fact comics will no longer be the draw they once were. Honestly, I respect Wizard immensely for not building false expectations. New York Comic Con has swung their percentages as well away from comics (percentage people, not raw numbers), but still keep the moniker in the title.
The world of geek is wide and vast and I will still valiantly try to get fans of geek TV shows into the comic book afterlife (talking to you bitchy chick dressed like Jane from FIREFLY who looked at me like I threw up on her shoes for even insinuating the continuity is moving forward at Dark Horse). Just as I was once entreated to watch an episode of Dr. Who after reviewing a comic book written by an episode author.
When Optimous isn't reviewing comics he is making the IT words chortle and groan with marketing for MaaS360, enterprise mobility management (link these three words to www.maas360.com). He also has a comic coming out sometime soon, for updates head to robpatey.com.