Book Expo America 2012 Day 0

For the Zero Day of Book Expo America 2012 I got to see and enjoy a couple interesting things and following I shall share them with you. The only place on the Expo floor was the gifts and remainders, but there are definitely booths there that are worth seeing.

I discovered an AMAZING pop-up book that features original art pieces made specifically for this book by Alex Ross, Joe Jusko, Leinil Francis Yu and more. The most amazing piece actually has to be Amanda Conner’s Thor vs. Loki. INSANE! The book is published by Jumping Jack Press, a division of Up With Paper and will be in comic stores in July and everywhere else after Labor Day.

Being a gift section the main focus was products and I discovered an awesome optics/eye frame company. I always felt trying to get cool frames at a reasonable price was impossible, but with Scojo it wouldn’t be. Scojo Gels are designed to be reading glasses, but the way they’re made is not like regular reading glasses, so one can pop out the glass and put their prescription in. This isn’t what they recommend, but one can do it.

 

 

 

Next up the Parodies LLC booth caught my eye. Mostly it was for the art which happened to be by one of my favorite back in the day of independent comics rise, George Komninos who self-published the comics, Portrait of a Young Man as a Cartoonist & KIP. He’s focused more on single panel and pop art and working with the writer of Parodies to create funny images.

 

 

 

 

 

The final thing on the show floor to catch my eye was the Buddha Board. It’s a fun little art/play technology that I even made a little video of.

There was one panel in the Monday selection that I thought I’d find interesting, amongst mostly panels focused on booksellers, as I couldn’t afford to do BEA Bloggers and that was on Russian Children’s Literature. At the panel they mentioned and showed off one series/book that really caught my attention and that was MASHA AND THE BEAR. The book I saw was a puzzle book, but it totally sold me on wanting more of this, the cartoon, the book, whatever, translated or at least subbed. Here’s one episode to whet your appetite, which is all in Russian.

The final main event was the BEA Editor’s Buzz. I was only able to get three of the six books discussed as people are carnvourois at BEA, but I was happy to at least get PANORAMA CITY by Antoine Wilson, which I already started reading and am loving.

Super excited for the Expo to officially begin and really losing my mind.

Favorite Movies of 2011

Rango: Gore Verbinkski’s animated western affair was a total delight to the eyes. Accompanied by an amazing soundtrack and perfectly well done jokes, I loved every moment of it. I was sorely disappointed when the blu-ray came out without the one component I felt it surely needed though. The film was made by having the actors actually perform the entire film on a soundstage as if it were play. Snippets of this were seen in the trailers and I was really hoping to see the entire version of this, but alas. So as much as I loved RANGO, that hurt it’s long term love for me. It’s an awesome film though.

Take Me Home Tonight: I was not expecting to enjoy this. After the debacle of other films that tried to recapture that 80’s spirit or the concept of the insane night of partying, I never thought there was a chance I could like this. Yet it came on to HBO and I quickly got entranced by Topher Grace. On That 70’s Show he was probably my least favorite, but he’s evolved a bit and he has a strange mix of Jason Bateman and Michael J. Fox in him. Anna Faris didn’t hurt here either and having Demetri Martin, Bob Odenkirk and Michael Ian Black in important cameo roles really helped.

Hobo With A Shotgun: Holy hell was this a sick freaking film. It was way better than it ever deserved to be, one can of course thank the cast for that, because the film itself actually isn’t really good. The gore effects are fun and the violence is excellent, but the writing is garbage, the oversaturated film stock effect and scratches to make it “grindhouse” worked against it visually and the nudity was really luke warm. Rutger Hauer, Trailer Park Boy’s Robb Wells and Rookie Blue’s Gregory Smith really help bring it from waste of film to worthwhile fun viewing.

Hanna: This flick just blew me away and I had hyped myself up huge for it too. I got to hear Saoirse Ronan, Eric Bana and Joe Wright talk about the film, the intense training and the setup of film making at the New York Comic Con in 2010 and everything really geared me up for it. I was not disappointed in the least. It is not a perfect film by any means, but it is amazingly shot, Saoirse is a joy to behold and there are elements that just make it an infinitely a watchable flick that I can see myself returning to over and over.

Beginners: Quite possibly my favorite film of the year. I recently watched it again and I loved it all over again, reassuring my previous feelings and thoughts. It actually jumped ahead of its previous spot in this rewatch. Melanie Laurent and Christopher Plummer truly deserve Oscar nominations for this film. Mike Mills is a horrible artist, but he is an amazing story teller and film maker. Listening to the commentary track and hearing him point out things that definitely made the film better but that even my trained eye missed because I was too attached and pulled into the narrative turned the film into not just a heartwarming tale, but a real mastery of cinema for me.

Captain America: If anything has come close to really being a quality live action adaptation of a comic book, it has to be the Markus & McFeely written, Joe Johnston directed The First Avenger. It hit all the right notes of feeling like a comic book literally translated from the page to the screen. I of course am not trying to discount Sin City here, that is a remarkable film but that fells more like recreation than adaptation in my mind. This film borrows from the comics without actually fully just recreating them as live action sequences. Plenty of quality inside jokes, awesome action, conceptual changes that fit the Marvel Movie universe better and not that he’d ever get acknowledged but Hugo Weaving deserves an Academy nomination.

Hugo: One of the most stunningly visual films in years, Martin pours every inch of himself on to the screen. You can tell he loves Méliès as much as Brian Selznick, if not more so. John Logan did almost a pitch perfect script adaptation of the book which Martin painstakingly tried to envision on screen. He made the decision to use Brian’s art as full inspiration for the look and feel of the film and it showed through every sequence. It was filmed in 3D, although this was not necessary to make an a good film, it ended up allowed for effects 2D imagery would not allow, such as seeing an eye through a clock, the inside of the clock and at the same time what the flock sees… the intricacies of the new 3D technology which also allows for hologram like effects was amazing on the big screen. I am actually worried how this one will translate/did translate to 2D. I’ll discover when it comes to dvd/blu ray since I don’t own a 3D TV and won’t for a long time. The performances in this are fabulous as well, Ben Kingsley dazzles, but Chloe Grace Moretz and the young Asa Butterfield are the the film and rightfully so.

The Muppets: I went in with trepidation and not all my fears were uncured, there are a hell of a lot of flaws in this film. Flaws that one could say “It’s a ‘Muppet’ movie, why are you trying tear it apart?” but I’d return with “It’s also a Jason Segel script, who is an intelligent writer and works on one of the most continuity driven shows on television, he should know better, but I do realize Bobbin and Thomas might’ve been the derailers (sic)”. So it’s really not a perfect film, but it is Muppets and Whitmire and Goelz really tried to keep the magic alive. Also, “Muppet of a Man” is one killer freaking song. The actual episode of The Muppet Show Special in the film is quite special as well.

Sherlock Holmes – A Game of Shadows: I utterly adored the first Guy Ritchie version of Holmes. Every element of it. The acting, the story telling, the cinematography, the action, the music, the set design, the costumes. In Game of Shadows, the only factor that goes in a much different design and direction is story telling, but it’s applicable to the story they are telling. This movie is less about an actual mystery and sleuthing, but about about precognition, notice, strategy and fore thought. While the first film showed the Holmes that would inspire a Gregory House or Adrian Monk who breaks down the mystery as he goes along or ties it all together at the end, this time we see the side of him that inspired characters like Sean Spencer and Patrick Jane who see the plot as it unfolds and is always one step ahead of the villain. I’ve already written another review of the film which explores it differently and expands why I loved it, but I felt here I’d speak from another point of view.

Some early Cool Things Coming Up at the 2011 New York Comic Con

First of note is the nine course dinner at wd-50 with food writer and SVP of Creative at Marvel C.B. Cebulski and former Vertigo editor turned Marve Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso. Oh and Joe Quesada will be there too. While I personally would rather spend $606 and have an even LARGER meal at wd-50 with some close friends, this event is the perfect opportunity for 10 folks who want to make their NYCC experience even more amazing. If I had $550, I’d probably go, but I don’t… so, there’s that!

Opening night for folks who can afford themselves 4 day tickets there will be a very special concert from DJ Z-Trip. Labeled as America’s favorite DJ these days and one of the original kings of mash-up, this could be an exciting addition to events. This one is free to 4 day ticket holders and while it may seem like there’s no pop-culture tie in, one would be wrong. On closer scrutiny one of the songs that first got Z-Trip noticed was his re-mix of the RUSH classic “Tom Sawyer” which got featured in the cult classic SMALL SOLDIERS starring  a teenage Kirsten Dunst, a teenage Greg Smith (famous now for the TV series Everwood and Rookie Blue and the film, Hobo With a Shotgun), some of the world’s greatest stand-ups (Dennis Leary, David Cross, Jay Mohr, Phil Hartman) and a who’s-who of classic Hollywood as the voices of the toys (including Ernest Borgnine and Frank Langella).   If you need some extra incentive to check the concert out, go to Z-Trip’s website where you can download almost all his albums for free.

Also notable is the Speed Dating event.  I really wanted to attend this at last year’s convention and scheduling of private press events, walking the floor and meeting certain folks preempted it.  This year I feel it is an experience I should have as both an attractive, eligible nerd bachelor and as a pop-culture journalist.

There are many comic book releases, debuts and toys at the show this year.  None of the panels have been announced other than the Jay & Silent Bob Get Old Live ticketed event.  As much as I enjoy them, I listen to Smodcast enough and have seen the Kevin live speaking DVDs, I don’t need to see them live, but it could be a great experience for someone else.

As time gets closer I’ll plan to try and break down the panels, IGN Theatre events, various booth happenings and possible exclusive press events I’ll be involved in.  I hope you  look forward to that.

Things about Captain America: The First Avenger in bullet point format for all the bullets that flew in the movie

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• There’s a Winter Soldier figure in the toy line for the film… This has nothing to do with the film, but maybe it does? There are distinct references.
• None of the Howling Commandoes are mentioned by name during the film, only in the credits. That was kind of weird.
• This may be the bets origin story for Steve Rogers ever.
• There are little nods to Marvel history, but they blink or you miss it and also the kind of references that you REALLY need to know your Marvel stuff to really catch. One of them was quite the tease and I hope there’s a chance it makes an impression in later Marvel Studios Universe.
• That super serum is way more powerful than ever. It doesn’t just enhance your body, but your brain. At least that’s how it seemed with how good Cap suddenly got without training and be a dog & pony show for months.
• The dog & pony show sequence was awesome.
• The origin for Red Skull was pretty excellent.
• There was no Strucker or Zemo, although I guess that’d make things complicated
• Peggy Carter is British, I’m not sure if this actually means anything since before the invention of Sharon Carter, Peggy was basically an unnamed girl working in the French Resistance who went on a date or two with Cap.
• Dominic Cooper does a pretty good Mad Men like twist on a Robert Downey Jr. impression, which essentially is what he said he did to prepare for the role in interviews (studied the son and older version of the character from IM2)
• Tommy Lee Jones was pretty awesome for an old man.
• Pre-serum Rogers kind of looks like a bobblehead at times, but it isn’t too bad.

I LOVE the “twists”/re-thoughts on the origin:
• James Barnes and Steve Rogers being the same age and best friends back in Brooklyn
• Red Skull being the first failed super soldier and the twists that the serum can bring out the best or worst in people.
• Rogers having to prove he’s right for the program even though Erskine handpicked him.
• The whole war bond promoter section where he’s wearing a version of the regular costume and the only reason he decides it’s time to go to battle is because he thinks Bucky is a POW or dead and he wants to recover him.
• Then biggest thing is that Captain America has no secret identity. The world knows he is Steve Rogers. That has been done before in comics, in certain ways, but never from “day one”.

Armchair Comics Editing in 2011

In 2006, Dean Trippe did what all of us comic fans do occasionally, armchair editing. It’s much like armchair booking for wrestling. I had decided to really go the armchair route though. In armchair booking for wrestling you don’t just throw together matches, you tend to also come up with new angles and gimmicks as well. I decided what if I took that approach to armchair editing. I stuck to MARVEL and DC like Trippe did, but I’ created a whole new universe for both companies using their established characters.  The biggest thing to remember with Armchairing is that you can/try to ignore everything that is currently going on or is being set-up to go in a totally new and different direction that will still be possible and make sense to fans.

Now with DC about to do their own super reboot in September which almost resembles this entire idea and Marvel in kind of a strange state of existence with their titles, I’ve decided it’s time to try and do this again for shit & giggles.

My rules in 2006 were seven core titles for each company, but to be as progressive as possible.  I may be less progressive now with current interests, but I’ll keep the core 7, ignoring things such as MAX,, Ultimate Comics and such.   I’ve noticed that DC Comics is actually doing a super reboot as well, so my energies will be focused to just  MARVEL.  Still 50 titles is too many, 7 sounds just about right.  The 50 new DC titles do have some gems in the rough though. I hope you enjoy.

The Mighty Avengers by Roger Landrige and Chris Samnee.  The team that brought you The Mighty Thor bring it all back to the square one, but with a faster pace bringing in the full onslaught of all Avengers incarnations together for a book much like DC’s CURRENT version of JSA.

X-Men by Peter David and Clayton Henry.  Peter will bring his overarching, but brilliant pierced drama work of X-Factor to the more popular and well known mutants of film fame with one of the most under utilized artists in comics.

Spider-Man by Paul Tobin and Ronan Cliquet.  The writer of the Marvel Adventures version of Spidey understands the character and has created a version better than any.  While his current Matteo Lolli is fantastic, Cliquet has a dynamics needed for one of the premier titles of the universe.

Strange Tales by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Kev Walker.  The entirety of Marvel’s supernatural forces get explored on a regular basis from the man that brought us a great miniseries about just this and the current artist of Thunderbolts.

Mysteries of the Future by Dan Slott and Paul Pelletier.  Years ago Dan Slott described to me a great Marvel future exploring paths set up in his Great Lakes Avengers books.  It’s time those ideas saw fruition and who better than an artist who can tackle humor, action and space with precision.

Cosmic by Keith Giffen, Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning and Marco Rudy.  The men who made Nova, Silver Surfer and more into the best things ever combine their writing efforts with another amazing, but underutilized current DC artist to bring the best the Beyond can bring.

Fantastic Family by Jonathan Hickman and Jimmy Cheung.  Hickman has proven himself with these characters and should be given the chance to reimagine them from scratch with an A-list artist who is also bar none one of the best in the biz and the World’s Greatest Comics Magazine deserves such.

To see my much more radical ideas from 2006, check out this link.