To celebrate Valentine’s Day this year, we are listing out the Top Ten duos in comic books today. In the spirit of the holiday, this list isn’t exclusive to romantic couples; bromance, womance and other creepy forms of couples-ship are represented here.
1.) Alana & Marko (Saga)
There couldn’t be any other couple at the top of our list. Alana and Marko are what Romeo and Juliet would have been if they weren’t both giant pussies. Love forged in wartime is especially difficult when the two parties have guns pointed directly at each other. Somehow these two fugitives managed to escape all sorts of danger on their way to having a baby, and temporarily sharing a nice, quiet life. They have problems just like any other couple, and are willing to risk horn and wing to keep their family safe and together. This isn’t just called a fantasy series for the pissing dragons and robot TVs; this is the quintessential relationship, the taboo story between star-crossed lovers with the guts to keep fighting.
2.) Susie & John (Sex Criminals)
While not your traditional super-powered protagonists, Susie and John share quite the special bond. Their ability to freeze time and commit crime after orgasming is a telltale sign that they are in sync as two people can possibly be. This super-weird ability aside, they are two of the most realistic characters in the pages of comic books today. They deal with everyday problems just like the rest of us, but are a model for how two flawed people can come together and find solace in each other’s Quiet.
3.) Superman & Wonder Woman
If any couple here embodies the phrase “Power Couple,” it’s these two juggernauts – hell, the name of their first graphic novel is Superman/Wonder Woman: Power Couple. One an indestructible alien, the other a Princess of the Amazons and Goddess of War, that’s just about as powerful as you can get; all that’s left is for them to release a cover of “Drunk in Love” and it’s official. These two kick ass because their stories are not dependent on each other. Superman is going strong without even a reference of Diana, while Wonder Woman has the new Goddess of War concerned with much bigger problems. Yet, together they are a solid team, focused on one goal in one solid book.
4.) The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl & Tippy Toe
Not every close friendship needs to be between two humans. Equipped with her pink bow tie, Tippy Toe is Squirrel Girl’s best friend. As Doreen Green embarks on a journey through college, Tippy keeps her grounded by reminding her of how proud she should be of who she is, what she does and where she comes from. I can’t say enough how great it would have been to have an encouraging friend like Tippy when I went to college. Tippy is down for Doreen, and even jumps in the middle of a fight between her and Kraven to save her. Only two issues in, and I am considering getting myself a pet squirrel.
5.) Spider-Man & Silk
Holy pheromones, Batman! Since joining the Spidey-group right before Spider-Verse, Silk and our Peter Parker have had an animalistic attraction to each other. Watching them in work must have been twice as insulting for the bad guys they took down, who get the crap beaten out of them, then get to watch Spidey and Silk slobber all over each other while they bicker about who looked better doing it. Silk gets her own series next week, but you can’t keep her and Peter away for long. This relationship is one based off ass-kicking and making sweet spider love; what else do you need?
6.) Batman & Joker
Ah, crazy love. There is definitely some hate love in this relationship. During the Death of the Family storyline, Batman broke Joker’s heart. The yin and yang that the two had was completely thrown for a loop when Batman put an end to Joker’s game when he threatens to reveal the Joker’s secret identity. Oddly enough, it turns out that Joker knew Batman’s secret identity the whole time, but was only interested in the charade the played. It was theater to him – a loving partnership. Now that we’re in the thick of Endgame, we’re seeing a lover scorn. Joker is not taking any prisoners this time, and in reality, just seems to be really butt-hurt that the Batman doesn’t want to play with him.
7.) Tony Stark & Tony Stark
Nobody loves Iron Man quite like Iron Man can. In the relatively fresh Superior Iron Man series, Tony Stark has developed a mobile app based off the Extremis technology, transforming citizens into images of perfection – for an unprecedented fee, of course. This kind of ego stroking is just what makes Tony Stark the Kanye West of the comic book world. Everybody wishes they could find somebody who loves them like Tony Stark loves himself. It’s non-stop hilarity for readers, and hands-down the most self-adoring relationship out there.
8.) Hawkeye & Hawkguy
There’s no romance here… I hope. Kate Bishop and Clint Barton are like a big brother and little sister, and are both Hawkeyes. During the 21 issue run of Hawkeye (and the Hawkeye vs. Deadpool mini-series), they have been freelancing their way across the Marvel Universe as a crime-fighting powerhouse. There’s plenty of bickering and fighting, but even more kicking ass to save each other from sticky situations. With Fraction & Aja’s run ending soon, I hope that Kate Bishop doesn’t fall to the wayside. Then again, that’s something that the Clint Barton I know would never allow.
9.) Carl Grimes & Lydia (The Walking Dead)
If you’ve been following The Walking Dead, then you know it has been a hard knock life for Carl Grimes. Mom? Dead. Sister? Dead. Right eyeball? Dead. Safe to say, he’s been through some shit. This whole time, he hasn’t really ever had a friend who can understand what he’s been through. Sure, there’s Sophia, but aside from losing loved ones, she hasn’t really ever seen the dark side. I mean, Carl’s a guy who talked with Negan for consultation. One day alone in a cell with one of the Whisperers, Lydia, and Carl are smitten. The jury is still out on this one, as there’s a good chance Carl is getting played, but for the moment, Lydia seems to be the best possible thing for Carl right now.
10.) Mark & Maggie (Postal)
We don’t know too much about Mark and Maggie yet. We know she is his waitress and he is a regular in her section. We also know that she feeds into his OCD by stacking his fries just right. Maggie is nice to Mark. Therefore, Mark wants to have sex with Maggie. Even though Maggie, like the rest of the town, has a record, she seems like the type of gal Mark will want on his side when shit hits the fan. Together, they are better. – Adrian
Another year is in the books, and we here at Hush Comics couldn’t pass at the chance to rank our favorites of this year’s releases in all types of mediums. Some of the winners will surprise you; heck, some of the results surprised us. The results are completely subjective, and therefore were chosen with infallible logic. We would love to hear your opinions on what we have chosen, or if you thought we missed anything. This should be a fun review before we gear up for 2015.
This year’s nominations are…
Best Comic Book Series (Monthly On-going)
DC Comics – Batman (Scott Snyder & Greg Capullo)
Image Comics – Black Science (Rick Remender & Matteo Scalera)
Image Comics – Saga (Brian K Vaughan & Fiona Staples)
Another year is in the books, and we here at Hush Comics couldn’t pass at the chance to rank our favorites of this year’s releases in all types of mediums. Some of the winners will surprise you; heck, some of the results surprised us. The results are completely subjective, and therefore were chosen with infallible logic. We would love to hear your opinions on what we have chosen, or if you thought we missed anything. This should be a fun review before we gear up for 2015.
Matt Fraction – Hawkeye (Marvel Comics), Sex Criminals, Satellite Sam, Ody-C (Image Comics)
Rick Remender – Black Science, Deadly Class, Low (Image Comics)
Scott Snyder – Batman, Superman: Unchained, The Wake, American Vampire (DC Comics), Wytches (Image Comics)
WINNER – Scott Snyder
Super Unchained #7
Superman Unchained #8
Batman, Superman Unchained, The Wake, Wytches. The man is a comic book writing machine. And just because he writes a lot doesn’t mean his quality comes down either. After all, he does have an MFA from Ivy League university Columbia; the man knows what he is doing. And he is making fanboys and fangirls around the globe very happy with his work. – Adrian
Second Place – Josh Williamson
For me, 2014 was the year of Josh Williamson, and I’m pretty sure that’s exactly how he wanted it. He was previously known for GHOSTED, but in 2014 Williamson launched two new series both of which have been pretty darn well received by their audiences and critics. Nailbiter is one of the most original and psychologically terrifying horror books to come out in 2014, but Josh apparently wasn’t done there; he decided to break the mold for fantasy books as well when Birthright came out in October. Williamson has a great career in the world of comics, especially for being less than 30 years told, and his unique take to storytelling is no doubt a huge factor in his success. If you’re not a fan or simply haven’t read his books yet do yourself a service and pick them up now. You can thank me later by sending me a nice bottle of wine. Or cookies. – Keriann
Third Place – Matt Fraction
Sure, he looks like Harry Potter’s dad, but Matt Fraction would never make fun of a muggle. Fraction has put in some good work with Marvel over the years, but this year has been an exceptional year for him. With Sex Criminals, Fraction and artist Chip Zdarsky have pushed the boundaries of censorship, and his Hawkeye run has been one of the highest-grossing books Marvel has in its lineup. Both of those books have netted him an Eisner Award in 2014. Recently, he has been the writer of Ody-C, an outer space interpretation of Homer’s The Odyssey. If you’re ever bored, check out his Twitter page, where his display name is “butt stuff reindeer.” He’s kind of a weirdo, and I mean that in a good way. – Sherif
RUNNER UP – Geoff Johns
If there was a crown for most consistently badass comic book writer, it would go to Geoff Johns. He’s like a reckless magician, introducing amazing and interesting new characters, and then vanishing before they ever really get a chance to live up to their potential or be fully fleshed out. I wish Johns could just write Justice League and Superman forever (not to mention Green Lantern, a book which he ended his ten year run on last year). Where Johns really gets it right is that he sees and plans the big picture before we even see the first panel; there is a plot of planning – logical planning – that go into a Johns story, and where you end up is exactly where you were meant to, and whether or not you saw it coming, you can’t believe that nobody ever thought to do this before. – Sherif
RUNNER UP – Rick Remender
With a pen of righteous glory, Rick Remender has a thing or two he could teach other comic book writers. This year Remender killed it this year with Black Science. His masterful way of telling a single story through the eyes of many (with vastly different viewpoints) resulted in me giving standing ovations in the middle of my living room. Each character he brought to the page had something new to offer. No one character was driving this ship and that made for very memorable reading. Remender also knows what it means to let a story drive a genre. Black Science is all about multidimensional travel – very sci-fi heavy. But if you were to read an issue with just text and conversation bubbles and all blank panels you’d probably find yourself just as intrigued and captivated. That’s the sign of a truly good writer. That’s why Rick Remender is Hush’s writer of the year. – Taylor
Very soon, our comprehensive review of the Best of 2014 will be making its way to you all. Articles of awesomeness, and podcasts to boot. This is all new to us, so stay tuned! When it all goes live, you can find it here.
Tekken has further diversified their cast with the announcement that a new character named Shaheen (Translates roughly to “God of the Falcons” in Arabic) from Saudi Arabia will be added to Tekken 7, debuting in Japan in arcades next month. Source: Twitter
The fighting game we’re all really excited for, Mortal Kombat X, has released some details about characters and gameplay. We now know that the story takes place 25 years after the events of Mortal Kombat (9) and will feature a relatively aged Kung Lao, as well as an online Campaign mode that allows you to forge alliances with different MK factions. The game comes out in April. Source: Pelaaja magazine and AeroGrunt.
PlayStation Plus members, rejoice! Free for PS4 this month is inFamous: First Light. I don’t regret paying for it when it came out, but it’s definitely worth your time now that it is free.
A $50 LEGO set just dropped today that includes a Batman mecha-suit and, get this, a Wonder Woman invisible jet! Grodd does not stand a chance. Source: LEGO.com
I bet you didn’t know that Hawkeye writer Matt Fraction is actually a great guy in real life? If you visit WeLoveFine.com right now, you can purchase Hawkeye gear that supports Futures Without Violence, an organization dedicated to the eradication of violence against women and children (violence against men is still encouraged).
Thanks to 3D printing, is there really stopping anybody with a lot of money from becoming Batman? A collaboration of 3D printing companies say “Hell No!” Check out their prototype of the Arkham Origins Batsuit. Source: 3Dprint.com.
TV season is out to heat up with premieres of Agent Carter (1/6/15), American Horror Story (1/7/15) and Archer within the next week. Get your DVRs ready!
Athletes are modern day super heroes, and Marvel has created a documentary to show why. If you like sports figures as much as you like your comic book characters, check out their new documentary, 1 of 1: Genesis. Source: YouTube.
Phil Noto, artist of Black Widow, has put together a series of throwback, photo-realistic variants for various Marvel books set to come out in February. Source: ComicsAlliance.
The new Daredevil series on Netflix is gonna be bananas; we already knew that. What I didn’t know is that Marvel TV exec Jeph Loeb (yup, the guy that wrote Batman: Hush) is going for a vibe kind of like HBO’s The Wire. I don’t know how that will translate into Matt Murdock’s life, but those words can never be bad. Source: EW.
The mythical A+: Classic comic book material. Belongs next to your copy of The Notebookand The Joy of Cooking.
A: Would definitely recommend to all comic book readers. Even more so to fans of the genre or characters
B: Enjoyable read. Fans of the genre or characters will especially like.
C: Non-essential read. Can be enjoyable for fans of the genre or characters, but likely for only one or two events in the books.
D: Unenjoyable book. Read at your own risk. Might find satisfaction if major flaws are overlooked.
F: Please don’t buy this book. Donate your money to a local comic book writer’s workshop instead to inspire future generations to write something better than this trash.
Pick of the Week:
Ody-C #1 – A
I’ve never read a Fraction book before, but if they’re all anything like Ody-C, I might have to start. In short, at its most perhaps offensively basic, Ody-C is a science fiction space opera gender swapped taking its the Odyssey. The book is full of crazy ideas feeling much like a Hickman book – like Pax Romana or the Manhattan Projects. The art is appropriately abstract, colorful, and French looking (think Moebius or Marvel’s Soleil line) to reflect that kind of story telling approach. The two coolest ideas come aboard the ship in which the captain (Odyssia, the gender swapped Odysseus) and her for co-captains must float in psychic in order to stear the ship, and her symphony that must reprogram space as they fly through it. The book is incredibly enjoyable and a lot of fun to look at, and I do highly recommend reading it. My only criticism is the source material: I know I’ve read the Odyssey at least three times in my college experience, as I’m sure any other liberal arts major has, and I found myself being too distracted at times trying to crack the gender code to be able to focus on what was going on. I guess I would have liked either a longer first issue or a more basic one just to get my footing before launching into the crazy stuff so that I could get a sense of what from the original Greek masterpiece mattered. – Cuyler
Dark Horse Comics:
Alien: Fire & Stone #3 – B
One word – creepy! Creee-py!!! This series continues to be great and It continues to freak me out. However, some aspects are starting to get old and, for the first time since the Fire and Stone series began, I found myself a bit tired with the “mysterious black goo” ponderings. We’ve gotten plenty of examples of what this stuff is capable of and how horrific its effects are on any life form. This is a minor gripe overall, and it certainly doesn’t take away from the story. There’s only one issue left in the Aliens arch of Fire and Stone – this will effectively round out the prequel of the ongoing events. There’s plenty of action left to be had and a ton of mystery to be unraveled. After this many issues, I’m confident that Fire & Stone’s conclusion will be eerily fantastic. – Taylor
Superman #36 – A
Wow, I can’t believe I am this excited about a Superman book. Geoff Johns has gotten me hooked on another superhero I have been skeptical about. Ulysses is finally coming clean about a secret he’s been keeping from Superman. Only, we still have to wait another issue to find out what it is! The reference to Brian Azzarello and Jim Lee’s For Tomorrow stands at the forefront as the best pat of this issue. Superman has since learned that while he is the strongest being on Earth, he still cannot cure disease, cannot control men’s urge for war. It’s some really deep stuff that I really feel deserved to be revisited here. Cheers to another knockout issue for Johns and Romita Jr.! – Sherif
Arkham Manor #2 – A-
After DC has spent the past couple months throwing new Bat-related titles to the wall, I think this could be one that has finally stuck. Arkham Asylum has fallen and Gotham has found the perfect place to house the criminally insane – Wayne Manor. To infiltrate the Manor and find out what is really going on, Bats has disguised himself as Jack Shaw, a John Doe criminal. Things take an interesting turn when it turns out he can’t protect the inmates anymore than he can the other citizens; hopefully he hasn’t bitten off more than he can chew. I love the originality of this series, and it immediately reminds me of Jeph Loeb’s The Long Halloween with the mysterious tone it takes. If you love Batman, or mystery, pick this book up while it’s still in its infancy. – Sherif
Futures End #30 – B-
That… was, surprisingly, not all that bad. I’m going to try to not get my hopes up, but I’m tempted to believe that this might actually go somewhere interesting. This week’s edition of Futures End focuses on one of the plot points that actually seems to matter so far. I’m dubbing this, “Attack on Cadmus Island” (Catchy, ain’t it?). Attack on Cadmus Island has everything I could really want: the action is great, decent art, and to top it all off actually moves the story forward! There’s even a couple of pretty great surprises in store for those who’ve been keeping up so far. To quote Big Barda, “….Did not see that coming.” – Moke
The Flash #36 – C
This trope may have been done before, but when future Barry Allen came to kill present time Barry Allen, things got a little mixed up. Now, they have swapped places… sorta. The Barry Allen from the future is now parading around like he owns the present time while the other Allen is stuck in some parallel dimension. Basically, the story is getting really convoluted, and the point I thought was the climax ended up just dragging the story out a little further. That being said, this future Flash is brutal and efficient, and willing to kill anybody he knows will upset things in the future. I’m not sure where this arc will go, but I can definitly stay on until I see what kind of awkward mess this is going to be for the present-day Flash to iron out. – Sherif
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Ghostbusters #2 – A
Most 80’s kids have already imagined this team-up in their heads with toys, but still seeing it come to fruition is awesome! Crossovers are always kind of iffy, as the IDW X-Files one that crossed over with these two properties earlier this year was a little weak, but this one so far has been great. Seeing the banter between Donatello and Egon is exactly what I wanted it to be and the pairing of characters is perfect. The story has just barely gotten past the, “Ghosts don’t exist!” or “You’re a giant talking turtle!” things – which will obviously be there, but it still is setting up something good. The art is as good as you could ask in mixing styles and characters and, all around, this issue is must have for any 80’s kid or any nostaligia-loving enthusiast. – Jacob
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #40 – A-
The fight between the mutants of the series continues in this issue as we see the mutated animals battling the humans-turned-mutants, Bebop and Rocksteady. All this while, Casey helps out the O’Neils, and Donatello is off doing his own thing and may be going behind the turtles back to do so. All of which makes for a great issue of TMNT and although it seemed more to set up next year’s Mighty Mutanimals book, it still felt like a solid piece of the story and was a really enjoyable read. Santolouco continues to impress as the artist and it always brings a smile to my face to see Kevin Eastman contribute on an issue. – Jacob
Samurai Jack #14 – B+
Jack has been on a quite a journey recently since he lost his sword, which was the one thing that could defeat Aku and send him back to his time. In this issue we now see Jack being judged for losing such a weapon of power and whether or not he should be worthy of such a gift again or not. We don’t figure out whether or not they decide on this issue, but we reach a point where everything is on the line and Jack must act out with only his wit and no weapon. This story has been a very enjoyable read and I have loved the art of this whole series, as Tartokovsky’s style transfers so well to comics – which is why his other book, Powerpuff Girls, is so successful, as well. – Jacob
X-Files: Year Zero #5 – B-
This month’s Year Zero brings the story to an end and we finally get to see how the first case in X-Files history brought about what the X-Files is today. Despite being an interesting story and idea I think the execution was a bit wrong as I was never really into the story as much as I usually am when it comes to X-Files. It has a pretty cheesy ending over all and the different art styles for the modern and past X-Files teams makes me more interested in the series both I have not been a fan of most of the art coming out of X-Files as it just has way too may shadows. Ultimately I would say try and pick up this book to complete the series but over all this issue and mini series as a whole is one that will likely be forgotten in time and maybe even retold differently depending on the future of `. – Jacob
Shadow Show #1 – A-
Shadow Show is not what I was expecting, but that ended up being okay. Initially, I was disappointed because the first page opens up and where I was expected something more fantastical and dark, I was greeted with warm artwork that was more reminiscent of a children’s book or Miyazaki movie. I’m not normally a fan of children’s book artwork in the comics I read, but as the story continued I realized what a great fit it really was. The adaptation of Joe Hill’s By the Silver Water of Lake Champlain was wonderful. The story is sweet and sad, and while the climax may have been a little predictable I was not left wanting. It had a great flow and to it and read really well. While it was a sad story, it still left me with happy feeling when I finished it. I’d definitely recommend this book. – Keriann
Rasputin # 2 – B
They say a picture is worth a 100 words. Whoever they is, they sure are right. Rasputin relies more on the art than it does on narration and dialogue. I’m a big fan for the way the storyline is unraveling itself between his history and the present. It feels organic and seamless and for a story steeped in so much mystery and magic, so the sort of timelessness really works well for the story. The use of red is brilliantly well-used. It’s a life force or death, but it’s the red the use of blood that’s really the narrator. It succeeds in a way that Trees kinda of fails. A lot of information and intrigue happens within panels of each other but while at the same time it doesn’t feel rushed. Rasputin is off with a Antoine to Verkhturye and to his ultimate destiny… (Insert maniacal laugher here.) – Jené
Trees # 7 – C
You can tell that Trees is gearing up to actually start – kinda of like the first act in a film; I think I’ve already said something similar about this storyline the last time I reviewed it. And it still seems that way. I think we only have to wait about two or three more issues until things really start coming to a head. At the moment, it still feels like there are too many characters and storylines; I want them to start weaving together more. I have my favorites and I’m bummed I can hang read more about the artist and the biologist more. Still not all that sure where Ellis is taking the storyline, but, Transmetropolitan was amazing and I trust Trees is going to be just a good. He’s still doing something right if I’m glad to see Trees on the list to review. Overall, it’s an issues to get to a means. – Jené
American Legends #4&5 – C-
American Legends came to an end this week and it will not be missed. Overall the series just really missed the mark in my opinion. It never really hit that level of excitement I think it was striving for. It was campy as all hell, even through to the very end. The last panel concluded in such cheesy fashion I basically heard 80’s family sitcom music in my head while I read it. Now don’t get me wrong, the series wasn’t horrendous, it had its moments and it came with a really fun premise, it’s just that every week I felt this issues fell a little short and issues 4 and 5 were no exception. Davy, Sally and Mike’s adventure came to a close, naturally, and if anything it was poorly thought out, rushed, and a little confusing with a pretty boring climax. That’s what she said! Sorry, I couldn’t resist. The main problem with issues 4 and 5 really was that everything just felt rushed. Maybe it was supposed to be interpreted as nonstop action, but for me it didn’t read that way. It all just felt very choppy and hectic. I didn’t like that Paul Bunyan appeared to be a relatively normal sized man with a blue goat, instead of an ox. Johnny Appleseed was written like a no good dirty hippie, but was still probably the best character in the whole series. And apparently it is extremely easy to kill people with his apple seeds. I’m pleased that the series at least had fun and creative ideas, but sadly in my opinion it was mostly just a flop. – Keriann
Superior Iron-Man #2 – B+
I love me some good guys behaving badly. Tony’s acting like a bit of a d*** and I, for one, am thoroughly entertained. Extremis 3.0 is a hit, problematically so. Naturally, one of the more traditional hero-types comes to investigate (Not gonna lie: I didn’t even know Daredevil was in town) [Ed note: Daredevil relocated to San Francisco after his law license was stripped in NY for exposing his identity]. They fight. Hilarity ensues. Let’s be honest, although a bit morally ambiguous at the moment, Tony hasn’t fully crossed into villain territory. I find myself wondering what implications this might have on the Marvel U as a whole. A**holishness aside, I think I could get used to this new Tony. Though it initially caught a lot of flak, Superior Spider-Man ended up being wildly popular, and I’m just itching to see the type of damage a Superior Iron-Man could cause. – Moke
Scarlett Spiders #1 – B
The Spider-Verse event has begun branching into smaller, varied events that focus on a few particular Spider-Men/Women. Scarlett Spiders follows the three primary cloned Spideys. They’ve been given the very important task of unveiling the secret behind the cloning capabilities of their pursuers, The Inheritors. I really enjoyed the set-up. The setting is gorgeous, the danger feel real, and the interaction between all the Spider-heroes is engaging. I can see the potential for the Scarlett Spiders series. My biggest fear is that it will become cluttered with non-essential and distracting characters. The level at which I’m invested in the Spider-Verse plot and chronology has made me a bit more impatient than typical; hopefully it won’t backfire on me! – Taylor
Spider-Man 2099 #6 – B
I’m all about all the Spider-Men and Women lately! The comic book world has been inundated with Spider-heroes of an infinite number of alternate realities and so far it’s all made for a great adventure. The plot in this series of Spider-Man 2099 maintains it original composition while weaving in the Spider-Verse happenings without making things seem too forced. This issue highlights multi-armed Peter Parker, Miguel O’Hara and (my favorite) May a.k.a. Lady Spider. It’s fairly apparent that the grand planners at Marvel are strategically placing certain Spider-Men in particular storylines. Each one has a specific role to play and thus far this has played out in a very exciting way. Spider-Man 2099 will be one of the branched series to really pay attention to. Their relation and interaction with Morlun is sure to be pivotal to every other arc.
All-New Ghost Riser #9 – D
Ever since the end of the introductory arc of The All-New Ghost Rider I’ve been losing interest in the series. The first five issues rocked my world; it resulted in a high-set bar for the follow-up story. Filipe Smith (writer) has displayed a vast lack of creativity by essentially copying the plot from the previous arch. Dialogue is incredibly corny. Altered and added story elements are unbelievable and forced. The artwork is quite difficult to read. A lot of aspects are misfiring. The outlook is equally bleak. There aren’t a lot of opportunities for this series to improve – Smith has everything locked in fairly rigidly. To diverge now would feel awkward and unnatural. Our best prospects are to hunker down and wait for this all to pass. – Taylor
Panel with the Most Awesomeness:
That about wraps it up for our reviews this week! Look for next week’s previews coming soon. Any comic books you didn’t see reviewed that you want reviewed? Any grades you didn’t agree on? Let us know in the comments!
All images taken from ComiXology app and the credit for them goes to the respective publishers; thanks to IDW Comics, image Comics, Dark Horse, Boom! Studios, Oni Press, Dynamite Entertainment, DC and Marvel for putting out great books.
We were just walking around Denver Comic Con, minding our own business, when Yanick Paquette decided to be the coolest guy in the world. About a month ago, we decided to spotlight our favorite guests at the convention, and Yanick was quite impressed with our research on his piece. When we met him at the convention, we saw not only his extreme talents, but his charisma at work. After chatting it up for 10-15 minutes at his booth, watching him draw a commission for Jean Grey, he asked us if we would like to interview him the following morning. YES! We tried to play it off cool, but we were really excited to meet him. One day and a full night of research later, we were ready to go. We discussed everything from Swamp Thing and Wonder Woman: Earth One to independent books and colorists. He is a full transcription of what went down when Robert and Sherif sat down to interview Yanick Paquette.
Click on the link to take you to all of our Denver Comic Con 2014 articles
Hush Comics: You just got back from an insane touring schedule in Europe. How does the comic book convention scene abroad compare to how it is in America?
Yanick Paquette: Well, a few years ago, in Europe, you would not charge for sketches and it was more about meeting the fans, I guess. The way I see it, the modern convention, the American structure where fans come and pay for sketches and fans interact, is really the model for everybody now. Except maybe France, who will always resist. In the U.K. for instance, the shows are getting bigger, better and longer. This is the case in the United States, too. Here, it is the third year in Denver. It is a pretty decent, huge show. In Montreal, I’m from Montreal, and there were little shows trying to pop up now and then and there were crappy shows and they didn’t last. We have a show in Montreal. I’m not sure how many editions there are, maybe the 5th edition. Now there is some traction.
I am doing a lot of shows, only because my schedule allows it. As I’m not doing a monthly book, I can agree to more. For instance, in August, I am going to Argentina. Eduardo Risso has a small show there. He’s invited just a few people. That is going to be fun. I’m doing Malta. I’m doing a few other shows abroad. [This weekend] it is Charlotte for me. I’m all over the place. It’s good. When I started doing comics, the idea was, ‘Can I get a living out of just drawing? That is good enough if I can get a living out of drawing. Not even a big living, just drawing and get some money.’ That was good enough. But it turned out it’s a way to travel now, so I am traveling all over the place. That was unexpected, but it’s great.
HC: Checking out your Twitter feed, we see that you do as much promoting of other creators as you do for yourself. Is there any work out right now that you feel that the world needs to know more about?
YP: There is Jeremy Bastian, over there. He has a booth here. He is doing something called Cursed Pirate Girl. His stuff is absolutely amazing. He is shy and gentle, and he works his thing. It’s, of course, not Marvel and DC, because it is way too good. He’s been doing his thing forever. Now he is getting some attention in Europe. Obviously that kind of material will work super well in France. I think he is getting there now. Everyone should be aware of this man’s existence because he is just a miracle.
HC: A couple of months ago you expressed the need for DC to start trying to keep their elite colorists in their staple. Can you go into some detail about how much a colorist contributes to the work of the book?
YP: It is a massive contribution. I’m not going to give names, but I’ve been colored by people who have just destroyed my entire month of work. As you open a book, it is the first thing you see. You don’t see the story, because you have to read it. The picture takes some time to acknowledge, but the color is the first thing that is going to punch you in the face. A good colorist can help you with the story telling, can push forward the understanding of the page – the atmosphere and everything. I’m inking myself. I’m penciling and inking, and the only other guy on the team is the colorist. It’s a two-man operation. There’s a lot that I leave for him to do, and it’s truly a team effort. Back in the day, in the 80’s for instance, colorists could do 10 or 20 books a month. It didn’t matter because it was just flat, simple color. But now it is complex stuff. And when it is complex you can really screw it up. [Doing his best colorist impression] ‘I’m going to airbrush everything. I’m going to paint over things.’ Sadly, there are a lot of people in DC and Marvel, mostly at DC, that is part of the problem that will go into not-so-great coloring.
It is obvious that talent is required and talent has to be recognized and paid accordingly. I couldn’t say if DC pays the colorists less than Marvel. I think DC, in general, will pay more. We have overseas royalties. I think they treat the artist better, but the colorist’s stature is still part of the production department more than on the art team, which was the case for both DC and Marvel. Years ago, Marvel did change that structure. DC I’m sure will, sooner or later, follow into that legal structure with their colorists because it won’t make sense. They are always on the same bracket, but it has been a few years that DC hasn’t complied with that new definition of what the colorist should be. When you have your name on the cover and the little on the royalties, it’s not going to be huge money for anyone, but it is a symbol that you are part of team and that you are responsible for the success or the failing of the product. And we recognize that.
On that subject, when I went out and said that [referring to colorists getting paid], Bleeding Cool, spun the story saying that I’m challenging DC to pay. But it isn’t confrontational at all. I have total faith in DC to do it. If anybody needs to take a breath and play ball it is the writer and the artist. That world is a pie. DC allows a piece of the cover price to be split between the art team. I am asking to revisit the pie. Let’s take a bit of my money, of the writer’s money, and the inker’s money, and let’s share that with the colorist so he is part of our team. The challenge might be to get some of the writers and artists to give. It’s more the art team that I challenge to recognize the colorists.
HC: So speaking of colorists, are there any who you specifically love and would really like to work with?
YP: I’m working with Nathan Fairbairn for… He’s my man. We have been working together for a long time. He was working with me, and Chris Burnham, on Batman Inc. We work together because of our friendship, because we have been working together for a long time and because I trust him totally. We have a good working relationship of respect. He brought forward that it’s not so cool [colorists not being paid]. Especially, Wonder Woman: Earth One has a long shelf life. Who knows how much it is going to sell? It wasn’t so fun for him to come aboard on this and not get any piece of it. In part, it was for him that I came forward saying that we should change. I had a hard time to convince him to stay on Wonder Woman. ‘I need you! I don’t want to go onto 120 pages with someone I don’t know.’ It’s very intimate. My artwork is super intimate. I spend so much time and it is very personal. And you are inviting other people in your bed to share this thing with you, you don’t want someone that you don’t trust or that you don’t know who will screw this stuff up. When Nathan was not sure, I had two other options: Dave Stewart, who is absolutely a miracle, probably the best colorist there is, and Laura Martin. Laura is also an absolute magnificent colorist. I’m glad that we ended up working out something with Nathan for this. As I do a page, I feel confident that my man has my back if something goes wrong, and if he is there, the page is going to look good. He boosts my confidence.
HC: Perhaps your most notable signature your crazy panel layouts and how you split up the panels with different elements of the story. What was your inspiration to do this?
YP: It started a little bit before Swamp Thing. I did an issue of Wolverine: Weapon X called “Insane in the Brain” by Jason Aaron. The story goes that Wolverine is trapped in this asylum and he is getting pushed towards madness by this evil guy. Every panel in that book is crooked. It doesn’t look like it if you look at the book, but none of the corners align. Everything is slightly off balance. As you get crazier and crazier, the stuff gets more crooked. There are a few pages where he snaps out of it and he comes to his senses, and then everything is super straight. It is super-subtle. I’m pretty sure nobody really saw that, but they might feel it on the subconscious level.
When I do crazy stuff, it is for storytelling purposes. In Swamp Thing, the first script came in from Scott [Snyder], a great script, but pretty down to earth. It was a 10-page script and a guy talking. To me, when I thought about Swamp Thing, I thought of an Alan Moore crazy, wild thing. In my own relationship to Swamp Thing through the years, I discovered, my first artistic love was Berni Wrightson on Swamp Thing. And then I discovered my first love in writing was Alan Moore on Swamp Thing. And then I got to do SwampThing. For me it was something personal. It was like coming back home, almost like a full circle. To me, that book had to reflect my past, the past guys who were on Swamp Thing, and my own relationship to comics. I had to put their name in there and also part of their style. The script was very down to earth. So I figured that maybe just the panel layout could be enough to give you a sense that this is not going to be like other comics, it would be pushing forward in trying things in terms of story telling. So I made a code for everything that happened in that story. If the Green is acting on reality, if the Rot is acting on reality, if you are in the Green… When Abigail is there, the panels are not straight. They are more angular because she is more hard edge, now. All sorts of details like that. You can combine, or you can dial down the fact. But they are always aligned with what is happening in the story. It didn’t take that much time that every single thing in Swamp Thing was bizarre, so every single panel was bizarre. You give what you got. It was really freeing.
At first, I did that by doing something different to reflect what Swamp Thing should be. But I wasn’t sure if people would buy it at all. Maybe it was too confusing. There are things that are challenging. But people absolutely loved it. After 2 years, as I am doing my layout for Wonder Woman, I can’t do straight borders. It isn’t the same set of codes, because what I did on Swamp Thing was for Swamp Thing. It is harder to plan with Grant [Morrison] because [Wonder Woman: Earth One] is a long story. It is hard to see it in its entirety because I don’t have the script for the whole story. It’s hard to plan the element of design. But I try to do other things that I feel are cool.
HC: Your resume is full of work with fantastic writers, even before the New52. Are there any writers who you have worked with at your days with Marvel that you would like to reconnect with?
YP: When I worked with Jason Aaron, that was the absolute best. I’m talking to you Jason! That script was so intelligent. I had fun with Matt Fraction, too. I was lucky enough to do Uncanny X-Men, which was a self-contained story, so I really made that mine. It was very packed with emotion. There were impossibly deep emotional moments. In comics, you can end up having people fighting for 3 or 4 pages. I don’t care for violence; I don’t find it exciting. What I find exciting is these impossible emotions. In that issue of Uncanny X-Men, Dr. Nemesis goes back in the past. He has to meet his mother and father then sees his father dying. His mother is dying, too, but she pregnant, too. So he delivers himself out of his dying mother. He is always pristine white; he is like Mr. Perfect. But the last few pages, he is coming out of his mom’s bedroom with himself in his arms, his coat is full of blood. What are these moments? They are so intense. They give you goose bumps. Swamp Thing was full of those moments, too. There are huge sacrifices. It’s a love story. But it was crazy and weird at the same time with profound moments. I do comics for those moments.
HC: Let’s talk about Wonder Woman. How does it differ from the monthly series?
YP: First of all, it’s Earth One. So, you know the other Earth One’s, it’s kind of like Marvel’s Ultimates. There are no rules. You can reinvent stuff. Archetypes and elements can come back because they are expected by readers. Because of that, you can play with those. We have free-reign to do whatever we want. Outside of continuity we can do anything. Wonder Woman somehow has a hard time getting a movie for herself or attention beyond the T-shirts and lunch boxes and figurines; to get her to mainstream solo status like she was in the 70’s was very hard. You can do that with Batman or Superman, but not Wonder Woman. People were like, ‘You should do the regular series! She needs help now.’ I love Azzarello’s work. I think it is great. I don’t think she needs that much help in the New52. All the usual revolutions, the big changes for the characters, like Batman for instance, The Dark Knight Returns was not part of the continuity. It was a futuristic story, like an Elseworld. I don’t think Elseworlds existed in the time of Frank Miller. But that thing was so strong, it defined what Batman was. He is now the injured vengeance-ridden kid. Same for Kingdom Come that really rebalanced everything with the DC Universe. If you look at all the films of Marvel, it is not the Thor of the regular series, but it is the Ultimates. It is the Mark Millar work that makes it to the screen. But then again, these alternate stories were so efficient and make so much sense because they have the liberty to redefine what they are in the context of today. Now, even the regular books, which are not the Ultimates, are tainted with the stories of The Avengers, stories of Aaron, and they have all been Ultimate-ized. You almost can’t tell them apart anymore. It is a revolution for a character. Try it outside of the box, and if it is good enough, the box will absorb it.
HC: How does drawing for a script oriented like Scott Snyder on Swamp Thing differ from a writer like Grant Morrison?
YP: It is hard to tell, because I am really proactive as an artist. I’ll take a lot of liberty. I consider my domain to be more than drawing what they ask. I am going to claim some land, for creation purposes. In the case of Scott, at first I had a full script. OK, we are going to do concept drawing – like the panel borders. My job was to tell the story but also push my own graphic agenda. In the case of Grant, Grant will give you a script with very basic dialogue. He will think about the big chunk of concept and all the craziness. Sometimes he locks attention to the little detail. ‘In this scene, these guys need to walk to one place or another,’ just the physicality of the mundane story telling aspect. And you will give this to your artist to make it make sense. You need to trust your artist and to give them some rope. I figure that is why he is always working with the same 5 or 6 guys because he trusts us to bring the kind of script he is giving us to a place where he is satisfied on which he can do the last pass before printing. It is a trusting, touching moment that he gives me so much room. You have to trust him too to bring that ship to the port at the end, because sometimes I’m sending pages and I’m not exactly sure where it is going to land. I trust him the way he trusts me. Because he works with the art finished, he adapts himself to what he gets. In my case, he never asks for redrawing. If I make a decision to fix something that I feel will work better, he doesn’t mind. It is always a work in progress until the last minute. He is always able to react to the art and be creative. As I do a page, I know Grant will make something out of it.
HC: Your first monthly gig was Wonder Woman. The coolest thing I remember about it was the armor with the eagle head.
YP: I did not invent that costume.
HC: I thought I had seen an earlier armor version but not one with the American flag and the eagle helmet.
YP: It’s been a while. I know that in that run of Wonder Woman, I did invent the Fortress of Solitude with the huge flying coliseum with animals in there and armor galleries. It was the new Invisible Plane, because that thing could turn invisible also. I remember designing that. Maybe I updated the armor, but I wonder if it wasn’t Adam Hughes who did it for the cover. Or maybe it’s a spin on an Alex Ross design. It’s funny that today I get to do Wonder Woman again after all these years in probably the most different context possible. Back then, I didn’t know what I was doing. I was just trying to learn in front of everyone. A lot of those pages are like [he groans]. The idea was just to get the stuff done on time. That was the challenge of the day. Learning the craft. Getting my stuff done on time. There are a lot of pages in there that I am not proud of. But I was unknown, so that was the deal. Now I have the chance to represent the character, but with no deadline, and prestige format, with a massive writer. Now I know exactly what I am supposed to me. I am fully armed and geared for the process. I am going to redeem myself.
HC: DC Collectibles is releasing a Wonder Woman Art of War statue in the image of your Wonder Woman in October. Did you have a hand in the 3D design for that?
YP: Yeah, I did the design. So, I did the turnaround. Funny thing, though – that costume that I designed for Wonder Woman, not to spoil any of the story itself, but she came to the island with that design from the man’s world. Most of the story is a flashback from before that where she doesn’t wear that. I don’t know how that is going to play out. There are still a few pages to come that I have to draw still. It might very well turn out that the design for the statue is like two pages worth of what is going on in that book. She actually wears another costume. I designed that a long time ago, way before I had a decent chunk of script. If I had to redesign it again, I might have used the version I’m using in the book, which is a little different. But yeah, I did the turnaround. That was my first statue. I had no idea how to do it.
HC: It’s cool to see that you actually had a hand in designing.
YP: Because it is a statue, they ask the artist ‘Can you figure out a pose? Can you figure out a design?’ Action figures [are different]. They did a huge Swamp Thing with the wings. It is a massive toy. They sent me a box of those that made me pretty happy. But that, I had nothing to do with. All the design is obviously mine. There is a page in Issue #8 when he is coming down at the Rot with the wings. It is a massive toy. It is bigger than everyone. It is part of the New52 set of toys. I don’t know the scale, but Swamp Thing is just a monster so he goes in the massive monster box.
HC: I know everyone is asking you when the book is coming out. Can we assume that since the Wonder Woman statue is coming out in October, there might be something around the corner?
YP: No. I haven’t done all the pages. I have good chunks of stuff to do. I feel like October might come a bit too soon. Maybe DC’s promotional department might want to gather a bunch of Earth One’s together for a big event. I know Gary [Frank] has another Batman [Earth One] going and there’s another Superman going. I think it is in their ballpark. They will find a way to sell that thing at an appropriate moment. I have a feeling that it might be at the very beginning of 2015. My goal is to finish it this year. I have been on it too long. I over-think. Working with a flexible deadline, I am doing my best. At the end of the day, the extra perfection that I have managed to put in there is the one that takes the most time. Without it, I would have totally done the book super fast and nobody would recognize there is a little… If I would just give it up, nobody would care, except for me. I could make that book super fast. That’s the problem with a long deadline, I want to do the best and then it takes even more time.
HC: Working on a non-monthly book, it must allow for a more balanced lifestyle. We were wondering what hobbies you have on the side?
YP: I do travel a lot. I do a lot of conventions. That’s what I do. I used to do a lot of music. I write music and record it. There is some stuff online.
YP: The Swamp Thing is a more orchestral film soundtrack. When I write serious stuff it’s mostly string quartets. But I’ve been writing a long time. With convention schedules, you travel and then come home and then I’m exhausted. Then I have to do two or three pages. It’s just a lot. Honestly, I don’t think I’ll say yes to too many people in terms of shows this year. But I will survive and I will take it as a warning.
HC: How did you get into writing music?
YP: It was a hobby when I was a kid, reading and writing music. In my teens I would write stuff. The things I really enjoy, there is no market. Classical or Baroque music – nobody cares for that. I went into Biology first and then I had a reality check and figured it wasn’t what I wanted to do. I considered Music for about an hour and half and then I went into comics instead. I may have ended up doing a movie score or having an orchestra. But there are so many good guys in movie scores; it’s such a huge market. I didn’t want to do jingles for advertising. I figure I will keep my music as pure as I want with no compromise. I’ll do my own thing for myself. I don’t need the public for that. I’ve posted it online because people have said, ‘You should post it online. It’s funny.’ But it’s for me really. And with the comic aspect, I’ll play ball a little bit more. And I did at first. Now I’m pickier with what I want. And maybe because I can do whatever I want in comics, I don’t feel the need to write music anymore.
HC: You have worked on a lot of established franchises. We wanted to know if you had any interest in doing something creator owned for an independent publisher or are you with DC forever?
YP: Honestly, I am looking for a creator owned in a very serious way. As I look at the industry now, DC and Marvel, every book you do, you can rest assured that the next book, even though you do your best the book is going to sell less. They are never going to sell more unless you kill a character or you put Jim Lee in the book. Every book will sell less than the one before. That trend has been going on with every single book of DC and Marvel for the past 5 or 10 years. The only places where I actually see growth is in the independent. Granted they start lower, so they have room to go up, but they do. They offer something different, something fresh. A few years ago when people would come in with a portfolio who were prime for DC, I would push them to try Image or do something independent and then come back to DC with that name. Now I am seeing the opposite. Get to DC or Marvel and make a name for yourself, then go to Image and cash in. Do something you own. From that point of view, if I would do something at Image and sell five times less, but do more money and do whatever I want. I don’t have anything against spandex and superheroes. I’ve done it a lot and enjoyed it as a kid. But it is a limited a genre. After a while you have told the story you wanted to tell. Spandex guy punching another spandex guy. I have done all the angles. I want to tell other kinds of stories. In other media, in movies or books, you get all different stories and they sell to different markets. But comics have been trapped into one mainstream, one little type of fiction. It makes no sense. But now Horror is coming again, I may not want to do pure Horror stuff. I won’t tell what I am looking into because I am not sure myself. I think the typing is good with miracles like The Walking Dead. Which is a fluke. You can’t say, ‘[In his best American accent] Oh! I’m just gonna do The Walking Dead. That seems like a profitable business plan.’ It’s a fluke! It’s something weird. But what happened is that people in the mainstream, and when I say mainstream, it’s not comic mainstream. This is not mainstream. This is a little bubble of weird geeks. The true world realizes that The Walking Dead came from a book. They enter into a comic book store with no geek preconception about qualities of DC and Marvel and the rest are amateurs. They don’t care for that. They’ll look and maybe by Chew or Saga. The readership has expanded. That is why The Walking Dead and some of these independent books are getting good numbers because it is fresh readership. It is fresh blood. It is people from the outside world coming and seeing that we are doing something that kind of makes sense.
HC: Our wrap up question is, what can fans except to see you in soon and where is the best place to reach you?
YP: I’ll be Charlotte this coming weekend. I’ll probably do New York. I will be in Portland this year, too. I will be in Malta for the Italian people who may read this. I’ll be in Argentina. There is a show in Montreal. I’ll drop by there and say hello. I am fairly easy to reach over Twitter and Facebook. I am pretty well-versed in the Web 2.0. [Also check out his DeviantArt page to see some of his beautiful commissions!]
This weekend marked our first trip not only to Emerald City Comic Con, but our first trek to the wonderful city of Seattle. While ECCC wasn’t our first con, it is the first one we really attended as Hush Comics. This article is our way of giving you OUR experience. We don’t want to give you a transcript version of each panel and event because that wouldn’t fully embody our experience Note: The links for transcript versions are provided at the bottom. Instead, we bring you the most complete experience that our tired bodies could muster in a three-day period.
The Emerald City itself is one of the most gorgeous and interesting cities we’ve been in. Seattle is rainy, cloudy and sometimes really windy. We were told that it’s like that for about 9-10 months out of the year. The dreary weather was perfect for deep thinking and it makes the ground lush and green; Seattle’s weather creates a perfect storm of hipsters, coffee shops and grown men in My Little Pony costumes (even outside of the Con, from what I hear). If you think there is a Starbucks on every corner where you live, you haven’t been to Seattle. There was at least one within view of every street corner in downtown Seattle, and at one point, we found three in eyesight of each other in an indoor mini-mall. I don’t know how people there don’t absolutely hate Starbucks by now. The coffee place we really enjoyed was Seattle Coffee Works on 1st and Pike. They have magnificent mochas, chai tea, and chocolate (cayenne orange white chocolate, mmm). However, coffee wasn’t all there was to offer in Seattle.
Being right next to Puget Sound, we ate nothing but fish the entire time. The first stop we made when we got to town was the Pike Place Market. The market is full of unique shops, restaurants, street performers and a giant wall where people stick their used gum wads on (yes, it’s real, and yes, it’s disgusting). In a way, Pike Place Market, and downtown Seattle in general, reminder us a lot of 16th Street in Denver. We gorged ourselves on Clam Chowder and sushi. Our favorite spot was Blue C Sushi – which was actually right inside our hotel lobby. We had never had anything like this before: the sushi came out on a conveyor belt, an actual Sushi Train! One the blank wall above the Sushi Train, there was a projected video of cameras in Tokyo. Who knows when they were recorded, but during one of our dinners, we watched a flash mob version of Grease, Tokyo style. It was as confusing as it was enjoyable. There was also La Creperie Voila, which is a mom and pop Creperie directly outside the Washington State Convention Center; we ate there EVERY. DAY (Adrian loved the Lemon one and Sherif had the Dulce de Leche one).
We didn’t just stay at the convention, though. We took the monorail down to the Space Needle area. Aside from the breath-taking view, the surrounding area of the Space Needle was really intriguing. There was a glass museum, The Chihuly, complete with gigantic, singing flowers, and the Pop Culture Museum. The Space Needle looks intimidating from the ground, and the view from the top was amazing. The public transportation in Seattle is so navigable. The bus, monorail and light-rail system are so easy to use; Seattle is built for large conventions. We also stopped by the Museum of Flight on Thursday. We originally went for the Carol Corps Celebration, but we spent most of our time looking at all the badass planes.
By the end of our trip, we were in love with Seattle. The ease of public transportation, the friendly natives (most of the people from the Con were cool, too, but there were plenty of cranky people) and the unique melting pot that it has become, we enjoyed the city equally as much as the convention itself. And as much crap as we got for being from Denver (that whole Super Bowl thing), the two cities are more alike than their affinity for marijuana – which is not exaggerated (Canni-Bus? Really?). I guess it really is the greenest city in America.
How ECCC Works
If you’ve ever been to a comic book convention, then your logic will fail you here. Nothing is set up the way you would think it is. The autograph sessions are set up in entirely separate floors than the photo ops, the panels are immediately before or after the photos and signings – which means it’s practically impossible to do both. The photos are taken professionally, behind walls of security, and ECCC volunteers will tackle you if you take your phone out in the signature hall; yes, those areas are separate. Everywhere you go, you are herded and prodded like cattle. It was often hard to find where a line stopped or started unless you knew where to look and lines to see people were often capped and then un-capped moments later. It wasn’t all bad, though.
Everybody was generally helpful when we asked questions. The convention is mostly a local one more than an international one (like San Diego) from what we saw, so people are more likely to give you honest and positive advice when asking for directions or opinions, both in and out of the con. Like most things comic book related, ECCC has exploded within the past few years, so it’s only natural that there are some growing pains. I can understand the need for a tight system to keep things moving, but the whole ordeal feels disconnected and impersonal. Denver Comic Con (DCC) did a much better job of letting patrons interact with the very people that attracted them to the convention in the first place.
Stephen Amell – Oliver Queen AKA Arrow
Lance Reddick – Daniels in The Wire
Chad L Coleman – Tyreese in The Walking Dead, Cutty in The Wire
The layout of the convention’s exhibition hall was pretty straight-forward – it consisted of two big rooms separated by a sky-bridge. Where previous cons we had gone to, like SDCC, have been geared towards retail and pushing big brand names, ECCC is largely focused on independent artists and writers. You’ll have a guy who does beautiful air-brush paintings that he did in his garage in a booth right next to Dustin Nguyen, renowned Batman artist. We saw a bunch of our favorite comic book people just hangin’ out at their booths, giving free autographs and telling stories. The fan interaction is what makes people go to these conventions in the first place, and unless you’re looking for somebody ridiculously big in comics right now, you don’t have to stand in line for more than 10-20 minutes to do it.
Overall, the convention is fairly well organized, but it takes a good day or so to understand how things work. These two newbies were able to attend all the big panels we wanted to, get all the signatures and photos we wanted, plus meet a whole bunch of cool people along the way – but we were exhausted, every day. The convention could serve itself well by having a preview night similar to San Diego Comic-Con; it’s just getting that big. There are so many celebrities, both in TV/movies and comic books that they may need it. It would also benefit them to send in the programs along with the badges next year before the show.
They’re Just Geeks, Too!
Forget the exclusives, the big-shot comic book companies and their fancy doo-dads; why do you go to a comic book convention? More than any convention we’ve been to, we were reminded that conventions are run by nerds, with nerds, for nerds. The insane amount of comic book artists, writers and inspired product-makers made for a great opportunity to interact with people who we admire and look up to. When they’re all just hanging out at a booth, signing comics, posing for pictures and telling stories, it’s easier to erase the celebrity we’ve given them. In many ways, they’re nerdier than we are.
One of the best times I had on the floor was meeting Matt Fraction (who writes Hawkeye and Sex Criminals) and Kelly Sue DeConnick (who writes Pretty Deadly and Captain Marvel). This married couple are like the Jay-Z and Beyoncé of comic books. Both were very receptive to comic books, and despite the line, were very willing to answer questions. Along with Chip Zdarsky, who does the art for Sex Criminals, they were quite possibly also the most entertaining group there. At one point, Matt had told people that one copy of their Sex Criminals hardcover had been blessed with Chip’s semen; which one? Who knows? Other notable creators we were fortunate enough to meet were Dustin Nguyen (Lil Gotham), Scott Synder (Batman, American Vampire, The Wake), Ed McGuinness (Superman/Batman, Nova, Amazing X-Men), Gail Simone (Batgirl, Tomb Raider, Red Sonja) and G Willow Wilson (Ms. Marvel, Cairo).
The Hollywood celebs who drew us to the con in the first place are pretty nerdy, too. Chad L. Coleman, of The Walking Dead and The Wire, geeked out when we met him at his photo-op when he saw Sherif’s “Omar Comin’, Yo!” t-shirt. During his TWD panel with co-star Emily Kinney, he talked extensively about what the show means to him and was very deep about his feelings regarding the story and his character, noting that Tyreese does not think of Carol as a monster and that Tyreese is not a one-dimensional character. He kidded Emily about how she reacted to Hershel’s death. Oh, and for all you Bethyl haters out there, Emily approves. Emily Kinney loves Bethyl. Ok, that is out of our system, now.
Stephen Amell aka Oliver Queen aka The Arrow aka the best abs on the CW was fresh off a shoot that started at 3 am in Canada. He almost wore his Arrow costume and fans of the main hall were let down to know this was even a possibility. Amell talked a lot about how he shoots his bow (he doesn’t and there is in fact no safe way to shoot one on set), how he is trained by a professional archer on how to hold his bow and how his hair is “grippy” enough to hold that hood on as he runs. He was also equally excited as the fans were that in the Suicide Squad episode that Harley was alluded to and was voiced by Tara Strong (pretty much any Batman animated series ever, My Little Pony, and my god, every cartoon ever). Stephen showed his soft side by talking about his experience in helping out the BatKid story, making women in the audience sigh. And he won a place in Sherif’s heart forever by rating The Dark Knight a “10”. We both agree that Stephen Amell is one of the most down-to-earth stars and clearly loves his job.
Eliza Dushku wooed the audience within about 1.5 seconds of her entrance, even though she was almost 10 minutes late. She is so cool and so sexy; she can just flip her hair (apparently her hair is her comfort zone) and everyone will swoon. But don’t take her looks or demeanor for granted. Eliza is very aware of herself and her projects. She pitched her new project Gable 5several times during her panel. And yes, she takes Faith very seriously. She was quick to correct anyone who dared misspeak anything about the other Vampire Slayer. One fan asked her what “five by five” meant and another nervously said “Want. Need. Have.” Miss Dushku was quick to correct her with “Want. Take. Have.” Very Faith. She told us she didn’t know what Boyd’s fate would be in Dollhouse and that she broke her elbow while filming the last episode. She seems to be very used to male fans asking her semi-inappropriate questions, handling them all very well. She even indulged some by sensually feeding them her Turkish Apricots. Yeah, she fed people. Notably, she talked about how she loves all the characters she has played, but that Faith is eternal. Our favorite part of her panel was when she talked about how Buffy fans are intense; popping out of a bush and asking who she thinks she is. Hmmmm… Buffy fans would do that. At her signing, we picked a still of her from Buffy. She got very nerdy and crossed out Buffy’s name and wrote over it “FAITH” in all capitals. It was precious, and so is she.
And then there was Alan. Alan Tudyk, Joss’s gift to Firefly and Serenity. Not only was he hilarious during his photo-ops, but pretty much all the time. After picking up a baby during his pictures, he offered to pick Adrian up the same way. She missed her chance. During his panel, he talked a lot about how Wash had the biggest part of Joss in the character. Alan also broke it to fans and all that fan-fiction that Wash is really dead. “It sucks, but he’s dead.” Apparently Nathan Fillion thinks its funny that Wash died, and Summer is glad because she gets to fly the ship. His response to Summer? “Boppity Boppity Boo… You’re craaaazzzzzyyy!” He also discussed that the Firefly Christmas party became the cancellation party. Joss said he wasn’t done and Alan said every one else said, “That’s so sad. He thinks he can do it…” Alan really knows how to tell stories geared towards his audience. He also revealed that he is writing something to be hopefully released very soon… maybe. It was all very cryptic and ended with him just saying, “Yup.” Geeks will have to wait to see what that is. Every fan who asked a question during the panel got to hear, “Get some shit.” This was his endearing way of pulling out random crap from his bag, autographing it, and handing it to adorers. The best fan question was from a kid dressed as Wash complete with his toy dinosaurs. He was taken on stage and got to act the infamous inevitable betrayal scene, but rather that get some shit, the kid got his dinosaurs signed. How priceless is that? That kid and everyone in the main hall adored Alan Tudyk just a little more.
One of the most personal connections we made at ECCC was with an independent artist from Portland named Ibrahim Moustafa. He draws a book titled High Crimes, a ComiXology exclusive book (that we have since read and plan to review soon!). Just like Sherif, he is a half-Egyptian nerd who doesn’t take himself too seriously. Just like it’s great to identify with characters in the industry, meeting people who work in the industry you can relate to is just as important. We talked a lot, and it was really cool to meet someone that gifted who was willing to shoot the breeze with us. He was so cool, he even commissioned a drawing of our logo. We hope to keep in touch with Ibrahim, it not for his amazing art, then his hilarity.
Art by Ibrahim Moustafa
Art by Ibrahim Moustafa
Tips for Future ECCC-ers:
Avoid a taxi at all costs. Public transportation is the way to go. It’s cheap, takes credit cards (except for the bus), and is actually pretty quick.
Get yourself a hotel near the convention. When we went to SDCC, we “saved money” and stayed further away and took a shuttle. Long story short, it sucked. Staying near the convention center will get you much needed sleep and peace of mind. Also, if possible, avoid any of the Con-sponsored hotels. They might sell it as savings, but really, they’re paid a crap-ton of money to promote each other.
If you’re not going to sit down and enjoy a meal, don’t spend a bunch of money on it. Food is one of the biggest small-time expenses that can be limited, so why spend $30 on sandwiches when you could spend $10 and put the extra towards an artist sketch?
Cosplaying is amazing, but what’s even better is wearing comfortable shoes. You will spend hours walking, standing, rinsing, repeating. On a similar note, please do shower and wear deodorant. Yes, people will know it’s you, and they will judge you for it.
Come prepared to buy stuff: artists prints, doo-hickies, collectibles, and of course, comic books. Also know that you will be having to bring or send this stuff back home with you. Some of the best things to prepare are:
Comic book portfolio: holds approx ten issues for signing and collecting.
Poster tube or picture hard-sleeve: don’t let those prints/signatures get bent. Trust me, hiding it in a book will not cut it.
Know where a nearby FedEx is to ship back the really valuable stuff
Make a few game plans of when EVERYTHING you want to do is. Always give yourself 30-45 minutes before each show or panel to make sure you’ll get in. Depending on the popularity and room size of the event, it will be more/less likely you’ll get to see what you want. The main hall always seems to have room since it’s like 10x the size of the rest of the rooms.
Always ask questions. And just like with your parents: if you don’t like the answer you get, ask somebody else. When all is said and done, the volunteers have no real authority, so if you can get what you want without throwing a tantrum, go for it.
The photo-ops are super quick and impersonal, but the signatures allow you to take more time and converse with the celebs a bit more. This really only applies to the TV/movie celebs and the comic book creators with huge lines. Most other creators, you can spend as long as you want talking to them.