Friday, April 17, 2015

ECCC 2015 (or Rotoscoping from Memory)

Finally, a moment of thought and reflection over last weekend’s most excellent convention in Seattle, the Emerald City Comic Con. I’ve been thinking a lot about how I’d like to discuss ECCC and what that convention means to me as an avid comic reader/fan and aspiring writer/creator, especially in comparison to other conventions I’ve previously attended. I suppose I could go into heavy detail about my trip, from the exhaustive planning and packing procedures and navigating an alien cityscape, but realistically I feel like no one (especially me) cares to hear those mundane-sweet-nothings because they’re actually not sweet. They’re about as stale and useless as a sun-dried dog turd (good luck with that).

Instead, I think I’ll talk about the exciting stuff. You know, the detailed leavings that get you pumped to read, make, and discuss comics. That’s why we go to these conventions, right? To meet people with similar interests, discover new, astounding material that feels so cutting edge that it practically wears the creator’s last meal, and to inhale the permeated creative juices like the elusive drug that it is. This way by the time you’re ready to travel home, you’re already considering and planning for the next show (thinking: what comics will I discover next? will I get the chance to meet x, y, and z creators that inspire me? maybe, if I finally get my shit together, I can create a sweet comic to share too!). These are the signs of a great convention, essentially what you take away from the experience. Or, to break it down even further, what you got and what was given.

First I’ll talk about what I got (tangible objects/purchases*):
**NOTE** I think I should mention that I rarely, rarely buy comics and my purchases here might appear extreme and daunting (at least they are for me). If you’re a cautious reader like myself, I’ve placed links to the creator’s pages. Maybe you can find some free reads online before you make a financial commitment. There’s always the library too. **END NOTE**
I picked up nearly all of Corey Lewis’ new books. His DGAF sense of style and coloring blows me away every time I see his work. His sheeeeet is slick!
I dropped over by the Study Group/Floating World Comics table and dropped a wad of cash on this reprint of Kilian Eng’s first art book Object 5. The poster work he’s done for Mondo is phenomenal and his sense of colors really remind me of Otomo’s cities in Akira while his designs are yanked right out of Blade Runner. It’s a cool combination worth checking out. Apparently the owner of Floating World is working on a comic with him, which is neat. I’d love to see more sequential work by Eng since all I’ve read is Syklus.
Also, I picked up a copy of Ben Sear’s Double+. I started following his Tumblr a couple months ago and really liked what I saw. His colors are getting really great too. You can read his work on Study Group here.
I realized SG was also selling some comics by Jonny Negron on the final day of the con. They’re massive sized comics printed on newsprint called Adapt. Thankfully I wasn’t aware of them until the end since they’re unbelievably huge. I took a photo of an unfolded copy in comparison to a normal size comic book (kind of looks like Big Guy is about to get down in a chessss-t match, heheh). 
Across from Corey Lewis was a really neat creator-owned comic by Tony Wetz called God Speed Mew! I was really impressed by Tony’s production quality on the book. The art is consistently great and the paper stock is nicey nice. Plus, plus, cats on motorcycles!
Met another indy creator named Mike McGhee and picked up his comics called Star Fallen. He’s another great blend of euro-comics/manga and I’m loving how I’m finding more creators with similar tastes. Checkout that sticker sheet with the pizza in the pokeball. Practical useage, people!
Silver Sprocket Bicycle Club were rocking some of their comics. These guys have been on my radar ever since last year’s San Francisco Zine Fest and they put out a bevy of great creators. I picked up a couple issues of Liz Suburbia’s Cyanide Milkshake that I was trying to track down (I think she’s got a new book coming out from Fantagraphics, btw). Also, I discovered a new artist I’m really excited about, Lauren Monger. That’s her book Sleepwalking and that print below is a sample of her work. I’ll admit I’m a huge sucker for watercolors, but damn me, if that story in Sleepwalking doesn’t entertain. Any book that starts off with a good dick joke told by anthropomorphic animals is required reading imo.
Speaking of water colors, I couldn’t resist purchasing these pieces of Farel Dalrymple’s This Will All Hurt. There’s so much about Farel’s art that moves and inspires me: his colors, his penchant for tiny details, his throwaway/permanent character dialogue. It’s like he’s not afraid of failing and uses the scraps in his art to his advantage. For instance, see that little mouse wearing the coat in the second panel? A nod to Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH? Maybe. Who knows? Farel knows. And I feel he’s cool with him knowing and us not.
Again, back to water colors with a couple more small buys. These are Shing Yin Khor’s Center for Otherworldly Science 1-3. My pal Johnny recommended I sample her wares and I’m really excited to read these. They look bold, brightly colored, and maybe something that’ll make me cry…
A couple more small buys. Here’s Caleb Goellner and Buster Moody’s Task Force Rad Squad III. If your into anything Sentei/Power Rangers, your sure to love this series. I also really dig Moody’s art. He’s got this 70′s underground cartoonist vibe that reminds me of Robert Crumb & Kevin Eastman.
Keeping up with childhood nostalgia, I was really surprised to find this Waiting for October fan-zine for the perfectly, zany Nickelodeon show from the 90′s, “The Adventures of Pete and Pete.” If you’ve never seen it, I highly recommend watching a couple episodes. It’s about the closest you’ll get to David Lynch directing a children’s show, with a revolutionary soundtrack added for good measure. Listen here.
Here’s some comics I got from the guys behind Speculative RelationshipsTyrell Cannon and Scott Kroll. I think I first became aware of Tyrell’s art through his fan art on Prophet, but I dig his art on his creator series just the same. I’m really excited to read these and pick up their future issue of SR (it has a great lineup and the cover by Sandra Lanz is a stunner).
Here’s some newer titles I picked up on whim because the art is hawwwwt! S.M. Vidaurri’s issue of Jim Henson’s The Storyteller: Witches is really something to behold. His layouts are unconventional and remind me more of a children’s picture book than a comic, kind of like what Emily Carroll is doing in her work. Afu Chan’s art on Halogen is neat and I admittedly succumbed to the media buzz. I’m hoping it’s worth it. Ziritt’s art on Space Rider’s looks all kinds of crazy, definitely some Kirby influences running amok. Funny thing about this comic, I ran into so many people during the convention reading/carrying it, that I’d definitely say it was the comic of the con. My only Marvel purchase was Jake Wyatt’s issue of Edge of Spider-verse. It was really great meeting him in the flesh and hearing he has multiple projects coming out this/next year. He’s posting some killer work on his tumblr page that you should check out.
Did some pregame shopping over at half-price books and got these for a song and a dance. Seems like I scoured the earth for a decent priced copy of The Witching Hour in hopes of reading Annie Mok and Emily Carroll’s story and I finally found one! Definitely a treasured find. And that Frank in the River by Woodring was only a $1. There’s still 20 something copies left if you go by the Half Price Books in the University district.
Also snagged a cheap copy of Taiyo Matsumoto’s Blue Spring. Score!
And found these really shitty comics for half off too. Bought them as a joke, because, you know, I’m going to burn them in front of anime conventions or something…
More .50cent/$1 bin finds. I bought the CMYK Vertigo Quarterlies since they seemed like good short-story research material. Both the DHP and Genesis have peaked my interest in the past and fiddy cents felt like it was worth paying to look behind the curtain. The Deforge book was a strange find, right in the middle of a bunch of marvel/dc titles. But obviously, obviously the elephant in the room is that issue of Moebius’ Airtight Garage. IN A FUCKING 3-FOR-1 DOLLAR BIN, PEOPLE!!! Some dude had the gaul to ask if it was mine when I set it aside. Of course it’s mine! Mine, mine, mine! Keep your greedy little chode fingers away!
Also, came across these back-issues of Rue Morgue at the same exhibitor’s booth, because, you know, I’m a horror fiend til the day I die.
Yep, that’s essentially what I got from the convention, but I think it’s especially paramount and vital to note what was given (wisdom/experience) by the end of the weekend. Because as a whole, this trip would have been absolutely meaningless without the interactions I had with many individuals at, and around, ECCC. 
For one, my boy James Scott really played the titular role of friend, confidant, and host during this Seattle trip (along with his awesome lady Ashley and their cat, Ponyo). It’s been maybe a little more than a year since James and I first met and bonded over our taste in comics, and I’m really surprised by how great a friend he’s become. I think he made me an offer to stay with him in Seattle for the con shortly after last year’s, and the fact that he stayed true to his word really solidified our friendship. Not only that, but how we’ve both managed to honestly relate our wins and losses at creating comics is really refreshing. I think we both come from a lucky position in life to have friends and family that are so supportive, yet at the same time there’s something more beneficial when you have ties to someone who shares the same goals. It’s cathartic in many ways. Plus, knowing someone has your back in this industry seems and feels pivotal. If you haven’t noticed, the comics industry is fairly cliquish. I recommend finding some like-minded individuals and when you find them, treat them nice. Maybe they’ll do you a solid. Like give you kickass art, as so:
Here’s some more examples of nice peoples giving awesomeness away like it aint no thaaaaaaaang.
As I previously mentioned, Farel is definitely one of my favorite dudes. Chatting and talking with him is always so unexpectedly candid that I feel like I walk away with a new perspective on creating comics. For example, he mentioned how he recently dropped out of illustrating a script for a major publisher to pursue his own creator-owned like of work. This is an important topic (the pursuit of individual creative endeavors) that’s really important and deserves reminding (especially for young comic writers). Not all comic artists want to tell your story and share your same vision. Sure, it’s cool if the vision is shared but imagine how much easier it is if the artist picks up a pencil and totally turns her/his back to you. Is the artist supposed to forgo her/his dreams just because you have a project that demands their work? I think that every comic writer should know and be reminded that artists are not machines or cheap Etch a Sketch playthings. This is important for every comic artist’s career.
So thanks for drawing what you wanted to draw in my copy of PGW, Farel!
Same goes to Brandon Graham. A general consensus confirms that this guys is beyond nice and casually cool. I like his approach to the comics scene. He’s definitely not a creator that stares past you at the ever growing line. He listens to your words, is kind, conscientious, and totally in the moment. Even if he doesn’t recognize you, he will write down your name on a card for reference. I admire the shit out of those traits. I mean, at this point Brandon probably doesn’t need to attend conventions, yet the brother still does. And half the time he’s hunched over sketching kewl doodles like you see below. That’s dedication. That’s commitment. That’s awesome comics.
Meeting Marley Zarcone* was also another highlight to the weekend. I don’t know what I expected her to be like (offish maybe?), but she was definitely not what I had in mind. Instead she was probably the brightest and most personable of the late-night Sheraton crowd. Listening to her talk smack about Stokoe and parts of the comics industry was sooo… perfect. But hearing her give James and I encouragement on pitching/creating comics was definitely the inspiration needed to last one more year til the next ECCC. **Definitely HAVE to thank Amy Clare for prodding Marley our way**
Had a great discussion with writer/artist Sarah Horrocks about the horror genre too. James told me I should check out her work and I recall reading an impressive article she wrote about Under the Skin somewhere before. She turned out to be really nice and knowledgeable in all things macabre. I love sharing enthusiasm with other people, but especially in regards to horror. There’s certainly this cultist vibe among horror fans that’s hard to describe. I feel the reason is because we all like to be scared and secretly hope to rediscover that feeling once more. I mean, for most creeptastic flicks your lucky if by the 2nd or 3rd viewing you’re feeling any sense of unease. There’s nothing that compares to that first viewing. So when you meet other horror fans it’s like two meth-heads talking dealers. And every once in awhile, if you’re lucky, you hear about an elusive new supplier that’s got a better high. Some drugs Sarah pushed my way were The New York Ripper and Suspiria. I should probably look up her podcast and give that a listen too. Here’s the comic I bought from her with a really neat sketch.
Also, also! I met Christy Karacas, one of the creators behind my favorite Adult Swim cartoon SUPERJAIL! If you can’t tell, this is the only time I decidedly geeked out during the convention (I rarely ask to get photos taken with people—just imagine me uuhhrrmaaguurd-ing really loud, okay?).
There’s also a dozen more smaller conversations I had throughout the weekend that truly made the con so great. But I think rather than listing off every person I interacted with, I’ll send out private messages. That sounds more appropriate, rather than creating some public academy awards list of dicks I want to suck people I wish to thank. That’s more my style anyway. 
If any of you little critters don’t like it, you can eat me.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Review: The Strain Vol 1

Horror comics are my bread and butter, my broccoli and cheese, my dead baby and Worcestershire sauce, and whenever a new horror comic comes out in stores I am eager for something insidious, something terrifying, but most importantly, something new. Coming out tomorrow (November 13th) is David Lapham and Mike Huddleston's collected adaptation of Guillermo Del Torro and Chuck Hogan's novel The Strain. Although this comic might not be classified as something "new" since the source material is a book of the same name, it is safe to say the contents inside are sure to please most fans of the macabre. 

Here's a blurb pulled straight from the Dark Horse's mouth:

"When a Boeing 777 lands at JFK International Airport and goes dark on the runway, the Centers for Disease Control, fearing a terrorist attack, calls in Dr. Ephraim Goodweather and his team of expert biological-threat first responders. Only an elderly pawnbroker from Spanish Harlem suspects a darker purpose behind the event--an ancient threat intent on covering mankind in darkness."

The "ancient threat" they talk about are vampires. Is that so shocking? No, I don't think so. 

But the point of this vampire tale has more to do with the biological or scientific happenings behind vampirism rather than the occult. The words "outbreak" and "epidemic" are used enough to suggest these first chapters are leading to something much more deadly and devastating to mankind and it's only a matter of time before the entire world sees symptoms. Surprisingly for six issues of comics this first volume hardly moves past the third day mark in regards to a timeline, allowing very little to actually happen. My personal favorite chapters happen to have nothing to do with the present day situation, but rather the history of an old Russian Jew and his previous history with the head vampire. I won't give any of it away, because it's quite entertaining.
The only problem I had with the comics was Mike Huddleston's art. That's not to say that his cover art isn't amazing--the detail, the gory, brilliant detail--but the inside pages look plain and simple, nothing to call your nearest mate about. It bothers me that Dark Horse assumes that most of their horror comics should look like Mike Mignola comics, mainly heavy attention to Chiaroscuro. The end product never looks distinct. I honestly believe Dark Horse could have slapped a BPRD sticker on the cover and half the readers wouldn't have known the difference.

Besides this little side note, the story of The Strain is quite effective and I'm sure David Lapham did the source material justice (although I haven't read Del Toro and Hogan's book to make comparisons). I am curious to know just what any differences might be. About the story itself, I am slightly disappointed with the vampires. They are kind of clownish in their attributions, pasty and white as the Pillsbury Doughboy, with long, bloated tongues that act like stingers. I think Del Toro should have stopped with Vampires with his amazing creations in Blade 2, but for some reason he felt these creatures needed their own story too. 
Overall, I'd say this comic is entertaining and very coherent in structure and plot, the art is a bit bland for my tastes but gets the job done from a-z. If you're looking for some light reading (certainly lighter than the novel) pick up the Strain for a fun romp in the bone yard.

Overall: 3.5/5

Thursday, October 11, 2012

APE is October 13th and 14th in San Francisco

I'm looking forward to this: the hundreds of small press tables, the panels specifically focusing on creators outside of superhero comics, and the novice comic book creator's smell of desperation--I mean, I mean-- swell of discovery. Yeah, that sounds more reaffirming.

Yes, the Alternative Press Expo in San Francisco, CA is a sight to behold. And this year is of particular interest because all three Hernandez brothers will be in attendance, as well as one of my favorite artists in the dealings of bizarre oddities and strange arrangements, Jim Woodring. Check out the official website here for more information and check back to Go Suck a Comic next week for more APE 2012 coverage.

Friday, October 5, 2012

GSAC Attends 'Days of Terror' and 'Sac-Con' in Sacramento

If you have followed my site since it's earliest inception, you will notice the reoccurring topics of "horror" and "comics." These interests are my bread and butter in the entertainment industry. I am allured by sequential storytelling and if elements of the macabre are added to a story, I am nearly a fan for life. So when I heard that the Scottish Rite Center in Sacramento was hosting a two day horror convention called "Days of Terror" followed by a single day comic convention known as "Sac-Con," I did what any normal fanatic would do. I took the days off from work.

Here is an account of the two events, back to back: the guests, the artists, and the awesome finds.

Days of Terror

Miss Misery's Days of Terror to be specific. Honestly, I didn't know what to expect from this show. In the past Sacramento has hosted the "Sac Sci-Fi Horror Show" and it appears Miss Misery's Days of Terror has taken it's place. Of course there is no problem with that as long as the show offers some amazing guests and key vendors. Certainly the website offered a great line-up of c-list celebrities, but unfortunately there was no big name guests to really draw in the crowds.

Upon entering the building and gazing at the convention floor, most guests could tell things were looking like a ghost town. And not in the way that would cater to most horror enthusiasts. There was simply no one there. The main showroom for vendors featured too many empty tables, many of which were pulled back from the main stage. If I wasn't granted a press pass (which I am very grateful for), I would have felt very cheated for the entrance fee of $20. The average attendee could see what Days of Terror had to offer within 30 minutes.

However Days of Terror offered it's own share of excitement and discoveries. While walking around the floor I came across some extraordinary comic talent and shared a good amount of face time with the lot: Tone Rodriguez, Paul Allen, Gary "Gaz" Gretsky, and Jason Dube. The ever vocal Mel Smith chatted with me about the latest on Dead Ahead 2, his new Creepy KOFY Movie Time comic, and asked me about my plans on a Big Trouble in Little China comic (all currently under wraps). I love Mel. He's one of the most down to earth guys in the comic industry and always speaks from the heart. If you ever get the chance to meet him, do yourself the favor and strike up a conversation.

While running around the vendor room, my cohort Justin Hopper and I found a vendor with an amazing selection of graphic novels for unbelievable prices. All of his paperbacks were $5 and his hardcovers were $10. I wish I brought more cash to throw down but luckily he was there the next day at Sac-Con (let's not get ahead of ourselves). Anyway, I walked away with four League of Extraordinary Gentlemen books, which completes my collection--now I can finally finish up the series before Alan Moore squirts out another. We also found some great graphic t-shirts from the guys over at (their selection is vast and the price is cheap--I implore you to check them out). I found the perfect Return of the Living Dead shirt to wear around this Halloween. I was also pleased to meet one of this year's Face Off contestants Nicole Chilleli who *SPOILER ALERT* recently returned after being eliminated earlier this season. She spoke of working at Safeway in the past but due to her success on Face Off she is currently working full-time in special makeup FX. Good for her!

The remainder of Days of Terror felt insignificant. I wish there was more that stood out, more of a wow factor--God, I sound like one of those crackhead judges on American Idol. But seriously, this Horror show had some good potential. I feel like the show is off to a good start if the show runners decide to return next year. I have three offerings for any future shows: 1.) Add at least two big name guests to the roster (why was Jeffrey Combs at Sac-Con but not Days of Terror?), 2.) Add some panels (were there any this year?), 3.) Get some vendors! If there's empty space, please offer it for a low dollar amount to any creative talent willing to sign aboard last minute (the amount of empty space in the vendor room was pathetic to say the least). Also, did Rebekah McKendry attend the event? I looked high and I looked low but Alas! no Miss McKendry was found.


As weird as Days of Terror turned out, Sac-Con turned out even weirder. But in the best possible way.

According to the Sac-Con home page there were over 1900 attendees at this September's event. And holy crap did it feel like it. I've never in my life walked into a Sac-Con feeling like I was transported to WonderCon. Man oh man, did it feel good! Energy was flowing from the guests, from the vendors, and especially from the attendees. People were not just there, people were happy to be there.

My first surprise of the day was to find the extremely talented independent artist Z. E Pangborn. While on the ride to Sac-Con, I related to my friend Thomas how gorgeous this artist's work was and how happy my girlfriend was with his creations. So happy that she desires to decorate an entire room with his art. How surprised I was to see his work once more at this year's Sac-Con. It turns out that Pangborn is a local to Northern California. If you take a look at how intricate his penciling is you'll immediately know how worthy he is of the comic book medium. If any editors of Heavy Metal are reading this, scout this man's talent now!


The vendor floor at this quarter's Sac-Con was filled with surprises. Comic books, video games, toys--pick your poison, because everything was there. It seriously felt like a mini-ComicCon. I staggered around through the crowds big-eyed wondering where to go first. As luck would have it, I found an amazing Creature from the Black Lagoon toy I had never imagined finding there and then. Maybe at Days of Terror, but not so much Sac-Con. This Creature toy stands more than 12" tall and is a perfect addition to my collection. The most special part about it is that I've seen it being auctioned on ebay before but never realized the superior, gargantuan size. The asking price for this beast was $25. My offer of $20 was gladly accepted.


One of the many talents featured at this Sac-Con was Mick Gray (inker on Promethea and the current Batman and Robin) whom I tend to find in attendance at most conventions in California. Slowly but surely Mick has been kind enough to sign most of my Promethea issues. I promised his wife I would help spread the word about their latest endeavor--to build an eco-friendly solar powered roof. Donations start at $5 and work their way up to $200. Of course there are some pretty sweet rewards if you choose to donate. Check it out here.


While walking around the convention floor I saw many cosplayers dressed as Adventure Time characters who were definitely excited to meet voice actress Hynden Walch (Princess Bubblegum in Adventuretime and Starfire in New Teen Titans). I also overheard one attendee just ecstatic to have met actor Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator, Frighteners, Star Trek Enterprise). The attendee couldn't stop glowing over his signed Re-Animator poster. I went back into the depths of the vendor room and came out with two more affordable finds. I've longed to read The Upturned Stone by Scott Hampton and bargained the hardcover copy for $5. I also found a copy of Paul Chadwick's Concrete for $4 that I haven't read just yet. Both are well worth the price paid.

All in all, this has been the best Sac-Con I've ever attended. Although Days of Terror was a bit of a bust, the amount of face time with the guests and artists, was well worth making an appearance. To see Sac-Con grow in attendance like this only gives me hope that one day Days of Terror will be a thriving attraction for horror fans in the Northern California area. And hopefully by then, Sac-Con will have grown to a much more appropriate size. You never know. There's no word of WonderCon returning to San Francisco. Someone has to fill it's shoes.