Thursday, August 30, 2007

AnimeVegas this weekend

The 4th annual AnimeVegas will be this Labor Day weekend (Saturday, Sunday, and Monday). I've attended (and have had a booth) the previous three years (I'll have one this year also so stop by and say hi!) and it's always a fun time. The guest of honor this year is Yoko Ishida, who has recorded theme songs for many anime shows as well as doing voice work. There'll be a performance by Yoko Ishida as well as a signing afterwards. As with previous AnimeVegas' there'll be other voice actors, j-pop performers, and various dealers selling all of the anime things you NEED (ha - but seriously, the Japanese are the kings of cute!). There's also all day and night anime screenings (two new animes I'd recommend are Beck and The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzuniya), cosplay (people who dress up as their favorite characters), and a variety of panels featuring guests and events such as Japanese bingo, a dating Sim demo, and charity auctions.

Both of the photos here are from AnimeVegas 2006.

For more info go to:

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Jack Kirby!!!

Jack Kirby would have been 90 years old today. Kirby died February 6, 1994. I remember first reading about his death in USA Today. I was sad and in shock because I thought if anyone would have lived until at least 100 years old, it would have been Jack Kirby. It's hard to imagine what the American comic landscape would look like if Kirby hadn't made such a huge imprint on this medium. This photo shows two covers of The Jack Kirby Collector, a magazine devoted to the art of Jack Kirby and these two images are great examples of the power and dynamism of Kirby's art.

Head over to, Mark Evainer's website, click on "News From Me" and scroll down until you get to Mark's Tuesday (August 28th) post titled "Jack Kirby". Mark Evainer was a long time friend and collaborator of Jack Kirby and is the foremost authority on everything Kirby related. Evainer has two Kirby biographies coming out, with the first one called Kirby: King Of Comics arriving in stores in October.

This page of original art is from Jack Kirby's Black Panther from about 1977. The year that I was looking to buy an original Jack Kirby art page at the San Diego convention (I think that was 1997 or 1998) I was looking for something from his DC Fourth World titles (such as Mr. Miracle, New Gods, Forever People, etc.), but I wasn't having any luck with that search. I was happy though to find this Black Panther page though because it captured what I was looking for. Basically I was looking for a dynamic page from a title that Kirby both wrote and drew and that was inked by Mike Royer. While I enjoy the many styles and inking that Jack Kirby's art encompassed, my favorite Kirby era was his 1970's period when his art was really blocky and primarily inked by Mike Royer. Every panel exudes so much power even when the characters are just standing around talking. I think that one of the main reasons that Kirby was so prolific (besides the fact that even top artists of his day didn't get great page rates or royalties) was because his imagination was just screaming to be unleashed!

I'm going to call September (since August is almost over) at my store (Alternate Reality Comics in Las Vegas, of course) Jack Kirby month and for everyone who reads this, comes to my store, and mentions Ich Liebe Comics and Jack Kirby, for the month of September they'll get 25% off any book that Kirby wrote and or drew (including the Marvel Essential volumes, Jack Kirby Collector, Silver Star, and the Fourth World Omnibus).

Bendis/Mack circa 1995!

This is Brian Michael Bendis holding a book called Jinx that he had something to do with. Seriously though in 1995, way back when the internet as we know it today barely had its training wheels on and I had just started up my store, Bendis, David Mack, Greg Horn, and James Hudnall were doing their Caliber tour and I was lucky enough to host them. Note the uber cool Love and Rockets shirt Bendis is wearing!

I'll always fondly remember that signing because I got to have both Brian Michael Bendis and David Mack as my first signing guests.

Here we see Bendis doing his Wolvie pose, foreshadowing a character he wouldn't write until years later. David Mack is of course to the right of Bendis probably wishing he wasn't next to the fashion victim that is me in the white t-shirt. Greg Horn is in the red shirt (and he didn't even die afterwards!) and James Hudnall is on the left of Bendis. We had just finished eating at this submarine themed restaurant (I think it was called Dive!) that no longer exists on the Las Vegas Strip.

Friday, August 24, 2007

John Stamos is Preacher!

Garth Ennis at the 1996 San Diego Comic-Con with the Preacher action figure I made for him out of a John Stamos (actor from tv's Full House) doll I bought at a Toys R Us. The pants are from a Skipper doll (and thus don't button up in the back because Jesse has a bigger ass than Skipper) and the shirt was air brushed black by my friend Jim who owns Cosmic Comics here in Vegas. Kate and I, with a marker, stubbled up his face (the John Stamos doll, not Garth's) and reddened up his eyes.
Before giving my homemade Preacher action figure to Garth (and I made this figure well before Vertigo made theirs), one early morning before leaving Vegas for the convention I went to a local church to pose the Preacher doll next to their statue of St. Viator (I hadn't thought of what I would have done if a church official had come out while I was doing that!). I wonder if Garth still has his John Stamos Preacher action figure?

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Jim Rugg owns the pencil!

This awesome illo is by Jim Rugg, artist of The Plain Janes (someone commissioned this piece fom him of the Janes as the JLA) and writer / artist of Street Angel.

Another commission Jim Rugg did featuring Aquaman, of course. He's got some other great pieces on his live journal at: I'm not sure if he's still doing commissions, but I'd guess that if a person headed over to his live journal and asked him, he'd let you know (as well as what the price would be). I'm going to see if he's up to doing a Promethea commission for me.

Everyone needs to fire off a letter or email to DC letting them know that an Aquaman prestige format book by Jim Rugg would be a highwater (let the groans commence!) mark for the character!

Mark Twain liebe comics!

"The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them." - Samuel Clemens

Chance In Hell is Gilbert Hernadez's (of Love and Rockets fame) newest graphic novel and if you've never read anything by Gilbert Hernandez, this is a good book to sample. His storytelling style is probably best described as a cross between David Lynch and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. After experiencing a Gilbert Hernandez comic you'll see why he's considered an alternative comics pioneer.

Initial D is just a really good manga (drawn in a very atypical style for manga) about street racing, specifically mountain street racing (also called drifting). The main character is Tak, who started off as a tofu delivery driver (seriously this isn't as wonky as it sounds) and he's hard to beat when he's in his Eight Six. While Initial D is mostly about racing and cars (and heavily researched racing and cars at that), it also has a great cast of regular characters. Initial D is very kinetic and at twenty seven volumes already it's still very engaging and I always look forward to a new volume even though prior to reading this manga I had no interest in any kind of car races. There's also a very good Initial D anime (the manga goes beyond the anime) and there's a live action movie, but I haven't seen that.

The Black Canary mini series which wrapped up this week was really entertaining on all fronts and I'm looking forward to the Green Arrow and Black Canary Wedding Special as well as the series they'll share together later this year. Booster Gold was also a pleasant surprise as I've never been a huge Booster Gold fan or fan of time travel stories. This could be one of the sleeper hits of the year.

Hellblazer has really picked up for me with the addition of Andy Diggle writing this book and Leonardo Maco's art is perfect for this title. With issue six of The Brave and the Bold, Mark Waid and George Perez deliver another solid comic that harkens back to the way comic books read and looked from yesteryear without being clunky or feeling dated.

I wonder what Mark Twain's favorite comics would be?

Friday, August 17, 2007

Good As Derek Kirk Kim

The newest Minx graphic novel came out this week and it's one of the best books I've read recently (my other favorite Minx title is Plain Janes). I've liked Derek Kirk Kim after reading his other great graphic novel Same Difference and Other Stories which came out in 2003 that he wrote and drew. When I first heard about Good As Lily I was a little concerned that it wouldn't be as good as Same Difference because Kim wasn't drawing it, but somehow they've found a clone of Kim named Jesse Hamm who really does a bang up job on the art (seriously it is eerie though how similar his style is to Kim's).

The Minx line from DC was mainly created to attract more of a female audience, but of course that doesn't mean that guys won't like books like Good As Lily or Plain Janes unless they need all of their entertinment to have lots of explosions, slugfests, or other testosterone elements. Good As Lily has great characters that are instantly likeable and grow within the story. I don't want to talk much about the premise of Good As Lily because it's better through self discovery, but the situations that arise from the premise lead to some really good humor bits and good quite moments.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Fantastic Wieringo

Mike Wieringo, artist most known for his work on the Flash, Fantastic Four, his creator owned Tellos, and as co-creator / artist of Impulse, died of a massive heart attack Sunday, August 12th at the way too young age of 44.

I've been a fan of his artwork for a long time, but sadly never talked to him or told him how much I enjoyed his art so I never knew the Mike Wieringo that fellow creators that worked with him and fans that did talk to him at conventions and elsewhere are talking about through message boards and blogs all over the internet. As much as Mike Wieringo's art was universally loved, Mike Wieringo, as a person was even more loved and now missed. On, artist Cully Hamner has a beautiful, sad eulogy for Mike Wieringo. Over on, if you scroll down the August 14th posts until you get to Abhay's post titled "Just A Note About Mike Wieringo...", he excerpts some writing from Mike Weiringo's blog that shows those who didn't know Mike Wieringo what he was like.

This morning I re-read my favorite work that Mike Wieringo did with Mark Waid, a Fantastic Four storyline collected as Fantastic Four: Hereafter. Basically, Reed, Sue, and Johnny go to heaven to bring Ben back to this mortal realm. Who the Fantastic Four meet in heaven I'll leave to those of you who haven't read this story yet, but this is a favorite because it works as a great tribute and because on some levels it is a breaking of the fourth wall story, my favorite kind of story. Every panel of this story was lovingly rendered by Mike Wieringo and it'll always be one of the benchmark Fantastic Four stories.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

more cats on the internet

Because there's not enough cats on the internet already, here is Malificent (the white cat, Kate named her this after the witch in Sleeping Beauty) and Alucard (the black cat, "Alucard" is "Dracula" backwards named after the character in the manga / anime Hellsing). Of course people only name cats for their own amusements because cats don't really come when you call them. For those of you allergic to cats, I apologize for this post.

Our cats are yin and yang in just about every respect. Malificent (white cat) is female, Alucard (black cat) is male. She's a long hair, he's a short hair, her meower doesn't work too good, his does, he wants to always play, she doesn't, she doesn't like other critters (except people), he does (tolerates them), he's a teenager, she's of an advanced age, etc.

Our cats adopted us, it's not like we set out to have salt and pepper cats (although I think it's cool that things ended up this way). Our white cat adopted us when we were living in our condo and we took her with us when we moved to our house (she didn't appear to have other "owners") so she's been with us for over ten years (her age has been estimated to us as being 15 years old). Our black cat has been with us for five years and he's probably a little over six years old.

The following is a true story: I first saw our black cat outide our patio window on Halloween morning of 2002 as I was making coffee. So it was probably fated that we become his new "parents" (not that I'm superstitious or anything of that nature). After seeing him a few other times over the next week or so, I mentioned to Kate that we should bring him indoors and that our white cat might like a companion. So Kate placed lost kitty notices on our local neighborhood mailboxes and after no one claimed him, in the house for the black cat it was (and I was especially happy because while I like most cats, I've wanted a black cat since I was a wee lad). Sadly, our cats don't get along, as Alucard thinks he owns the place and Malificent is too passive to kick his ass, but she's getting a little better about his being in her "space". We call our cats our "fur kiddies" - aren't cat people pathetic (grin)!?
Kate getting ready for work. Actually we don't let our cats go outside being that I'm possessive (and I worry about what some people who don't like cats might do to them if they go in their yards). Alucard just crawled into her bag - gee cats never crawl into bags or boxes, do they!?
This is Malificent after getting back from a bad run in with the cat groomer. Seriously, poor Malificent had to go to the cat doc after our San Diego trip because she wasn't being her old self. After we took her to our regular vet and they x-rayed her they had us go to a vet referal center because they found a mass close to her heart. The doc at the vet referral center anesthetized Malificent (that's why her leg is shaved) and extracted some clear fluid from the masses and determined that she didn't need to have the mass operated upon. Besides her leg looking really frail (and or that she'd been to a bad barber), I'm happy to report that she seems to be back to her old self.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

big show wrap up!

This is Scott and Heather, two of my Vegas friends that let me hang out with them every now and then. This was little Davy Smuckers' (I've given him that as his new middle name because with a name like Smuckers he has to be good) first convention and he told me that he'll definitely be going again and his favorite part of the convention was visiting with JH Williams III and his lovely wife Wendy. JH Williams III had another awesome sketchbook this year and you may be able to get one if you visit his site. This week's Batman #667 is the first part of his three part story with some little known writer named Grant Morrison and it's all that and more (great jumping on point)!
Thursday night of the convention I managed to get into the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF) party with an hour to spare and I wished I was there longer although I was busy having a nice dinner with my friends Dave, PJ, Brooke, and her brother and his friend. Pictured here are some of the Sequential Tarts ( who aren't my wife. Next year Sequential Tart will be ten years old!
This is me and my friend Todd after the long, but very entertaining Eisners. Sadly I only got to hang out with Todd at the Eisners and with him and his wife, Brandy, at the Warner Brothers panel on Friday morning and I don't have a picture of Clan Murry from this year's convention. Next year they'll have a new daughter that they'll have to introduce to the craziness of this big show!
For several years now, me and some of my Vegas friends skip Saturday at the convention and do what we call beach day. Beach day is awesome because it's the beach and it's a good way to get a break from the big show (especially Saturday which is the off the hook day as the kids would say). In this photo we have Harry and his son Jake and they're always gracious in sharing their digs with those of us that do beach day (this is also my shout out to the Fagal family, whom I also didn't get a group shot of this year). Scott, Heather, little Davy Smuckers, and Alex, along with the Fagal family helpd give everyone a little more elbow room by being at the beach instead of the con on Saturday. I spent the early part of beach day with my friends PJ and Brooke who drove me out to and let me sit at their IHOP table for breakfast.

All in all, I'd say this was a successful convention. Personally I think that as long as you stay away from the big huge movie / tv panels and those areas of the convention you're less apt to not have a good time. For me the movie / tv panels and their respective areas of the convention are too draining and I can better appreciate what happens in those panels by reading about them later. You can only really experience some of the comic centric parts of the convention while at the show (like the Alison Bechdel and Miriam Katin panels). I lament not seeing people / creators / or panels that I didn't find out about until the convention was over or they were competing against something else, but that's just going to be the nature of a convention this big. My favorite purchase was this awesome import dvd on Alan Moore called The Mindscape of Alan Moore. It's $40, but it's got great production values, has some great insights into the idea space that is Alan Moore's head, and also features many great interviews with cartoonists that have worked with him over the years. I bought some great looking books from some cartoonists that were in the small press section of the convention, but haven't gotten a chance to read them yet (that'll be an entry in about a week). Although I didn't get to talk or say thank you to many of my favorite comic creators, I did get to do so with some. That and hanging out with friends (and my wife Kate, who actually enjoys the convention more than I do) in an environment that is a huge celebration of the many facets of this wonderful medium we call comics is what will have me returning to this 18 ring circus year after year.

the big show pt.3

San Diego 2007 continued... So now the San Diego convention is being called the new Cannes in some circles (actually they should be calling it the popular culture Cannes because the indy / arty side of the medium isn't really talked about at all, rather it's just the loud, shiny, expensive projects that are getting promoted). With me in this photo is Lark Pien. She was nominated for best colorist this year for American Born Chinese, which she didn't win, but she was happy when American Born Chinese won for best original graphic novel. Every year for the past several years Lark Pien sells these small uber cute canvas paintings and this ends up being one of my favorite purchases from the convention. She also does mini comics including Long Tailed Kitty (

Kate dressed as a variation on Poison Ivy.

The new Flash!! I was joking with Kate that we should have had kids so that we could torture them through costumes. Actually, I'm sure the kids dressed in costumes were having a great time and I'd bet it's a struggle to get them out of their costumes. On the last day of the convention, as we were leaving in the lobby, there was a little group of kids dressed as Nightwing, Scarecrow, Catwoman, and the Punisher and they were mock fighting each other. Unfortunately I didn't get any good pictures of them.
This photo of Jack Kirby's New Gods as action figures is from DC's website and even though I didn't see them at the show, they said these prototypes were there. I don't follow much in the way of action figures, but these look fantastic and will look excellent next to my Darwyn Cooke New Frontier figures.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

the big show pt.2

I like taking pictures, especially of people in costumes so here are some of my favorites from this year. I think there may have been more people in costumes last year, but that may be because I wasn't in the right places this year to see them. In the background at the Top Shelf booth as I was selecting this picture I just noticed the guy with brown hair sitting behind the Top Shelf booth (to the right of the Lost Girls book) is Matt Kindt. I meant to see him during the convention as I looked through his new Top Shelf book Super Spy (it looks really good), but with everything else going on I forgot. Matt Kindt also illustrated Pistolwhip and Mephisto, two great books written by Jason Hall (disclaimer - he's also a good friend) also published by Top Shelf.

Captain American looks pretty alive to me!

This guy in the red Spidey speedoos was really funny, actually the funniest thing I saw / heard the whole show. He called himself Spidey Sam and had a camera guy filming him as he was spouting pro-Republican, pro-Bush rants to everyone who passed by him. He has a website:, but he doesn't have any of the footage of himself in this attire up yet. While I marvel at the pair it takes to do something like this, I wonder if he just does this just for the fun of it or if he hopes someone will "discover" him.

Now that's a funny shirt!

The big show pt. 1

San Diego Comic-Con International 2007 was for me a great time and somehow I managed to not be super overwhelmed. I think this is because I took the advice of others who have suggested that faced with a convention as huge as San Diego has become, that you find the convention within that's right for you. My two favorite panels that I attended were the spotlights on Alison Bechdel (in photo above on the left of course) and Miriam Katin (photo below). Alison Bechdel gave a very entertaining power point presentation of her graphic novel Fun Home, additionally showing some very funny panels from Dykes To Watch Out For. Bechdel also read from Fun Home (while images from the book appeared on screen) and I'd guess that anyone who hadn't already read Fun Home would definitely get the book after this panel. Bechdel gave a demonstration of her art process which surprised me in how reliant she is on photographs (she doesn't trace photos though, rather she uses them as a tool to set the stage for locals and for what her characters are doing). Fun Home won an Eisner this year for best reality based work, but it was totally robbed by American Born Chinese (which was good but nowhere near the level of Fun Home) for best original graphic novel of the year.
Miriam Katin also had an excellent power point presentation of her graphic novel from last year, We Are On Our Own, which is her account of how her and her mother escaped Jewish persecution in Budapest during World War II. She's pictured here holding the Inkpot award that was presented to her at his panel. Miriam Katin's mother was in the audience while she showed photos on a screen of her parents and images from We Are On Our Own which made for the most emotional panel I've ever attended. Miriam Katin did a wonderful illustration in my copy of her book. Getting to attend Bechdel and Katin's panels and talking to them briefly were definitely the highlights of this years convention for me.
Cecil Castellucci (on the left) and Jim Rugg are the writer and artist of DC / Minx's excellent debut title, The Plain Janes and it was great talking to them briefly. They told me that they got the green light to do a sequel to Plain Janes and how that announcement didn't create big waves of excitement escapes me (probably because it hasn't been officially announced). Cecil Castellucci was also one of the people on this other great panel I attended called Comics Are Not Literature and I hope that a transcript of that panel shows up somewhere because everyone on that panel made a lot of really intelligent and interesting observations on comic books' place in the art / literature landscape.
I was happy to get my copy of Alice In Sunderland signed by the always excellent Bryan Talbot and he showed me nine pages from his next book that will be in the crime fiction genre with anthropomorphic characters done in watercolors and of course it looks amazing. He also has a prose book coming out soon called The Naked Artist which contains vignettes about comic book creators and some of the crazy things they've had happen to them at coventions and from fans.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Joel and Sandra's wedding

My friend of almost 25 years, Joel, got married yesterday and I had the winning lottery ticket as his best man (Joel was best man at my wedding ten years ago this December). Joel and his lovely wife Sandra are of course at the center of this photo, with the woman in red being Sandra's sister, Roberta, with her son Gabriel, next to her, part of the side of Joel's mom, Debra, is in the foreground, I'm to the right of Joel, and Bill Willingham, who married Joel and Sandra, is behind them.

Yes, it's THAT Bill Willingham, creator / writer of DC / Vertigo's multiple award winning Fables and Jack of Fables. How many people can say that they've been married by an acclaimed comic book writer (actually anyone can say they were married by a comic book writer, but they'd be lying)!? Joel asked Bill about a year ago if he'd perform the service and after Bill did some wrestling with Las Vegas officials on the legalese of his doing this (after all marrying people is a BIG business here in Vegas), he came out on top and the green light was given. Joel and Sandra got together with Bill to go over what they wanted said in the service and I hope the audio on the video recorder was working because it was a beautiful, unique ceremony.

I thought everything about the wedding / reception was fantastic and I don't think that's just my bias talking. Joel and Sandra's mothers looked beautiful, actually everyone took the dress code to eleven (Sandra made her own wedding and reception dress). Everything about the event including the decor of the hall, the music, the food, drinks, and the company of friends and family was spot on! Joel's dad, Ira, entertained us with some impromptu karaoke and I didn't entirely flub up my toast. If I had to do my toast after Sandra's sister's toast, I'm sure I would have been even more nervous because Roberta's toast was done with basically no warning and yet she gave an excellent toast presentation that had a lot of love with just the right sprinklings of humor. Much fun was had by all, there was much love in the room, and Joel and Sandra were looking like the happiest couple in the world.

I'm glad I got to meet Sandra's family including her mom, her sister Roberta and her husband, Edmund, and their cool sons Nikos and Gabriel and I look forward to seeing them in the future. I always enjoy visits with Joel's mother, Debra and her husband Wes, and being in the presence of Joel's father, Ira, I can appreciate that they're in the same ball club (to borrow some sports imagery). I especially want to thank my friends, many of whom I've know for almost as long as I've known Joel, for being my friends and for giving me the response I was going for with my toast and coming up to me afterwards and telling me that they enjoyed my toast even though I think I may have vibrated into some other dimensional plane (anyone who knows me, knows that I'm kind of a hyper person and that I'm not real comfortable talking in front of a group of people).

Joel and Sandra, ich wunschen sie viel Gluck in Ihr Verbindung and thank you for letting me be part of your wedding.
This is obviously Joel and Sandra in all their splendor.

And Bill Willingham is too busy to marry anyone else so anyone out there looking to be married by a high caliber comic writer should look elsewhere (although I guess if you supply Bill with a LOT of poker money he could be persuaded - grin)!