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. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Review: Finder: Talisman Limited-Edition Hardcover

Considered a fan favorite of Carla Speed McNeil's Finder series, the extremely limited edition hardcover of Finder: Talisman is finally collected together in one volume. Set in a world much similar to our own, yet with many shades and hints of a not-too-distant future, Finder: Talisman tells the tale of a young girl Marcie and her search for magic within the pages of a long, lost book.
The most impressive facet of this story relies in the tale's innocent, believable tone. McNeil's account of Marcie's life is dreamlike and whimsical and all the while rooted in a developed and established world. This story is so strong that eventually you feel as if you are reading a journal entry, a past history filled with secrets and confidence meant solely for you. It contains a personal relationship with the reader that is lacking from many comics written today. I am curious to pieces how much of this book stems from McNeil's own life and how much from her imagination. Either way, I applaud her.

Concerning the artwork, McNeil's style is a bit plain for my tastes. The entire book is printed in black and white (which for an extremely limited edition, I would expect an updated color version), but of course some prefer the original untainted by the new. It wasn't that McNeil's art bothered me (it's actually quite nice and different), it just failed to thrill and pull me in deeper. But this is purely aesthetic tastes--look on to the provided samples. If you like what you see I implore you to read.
If you're wondering what the differences are between the Finder: Talisman hardcover book and the limited-edition hardcover book, from what I can tell, there are only a few minor differences. The first is obviously the cover. The limited edition hardcover sets to replicate the sought-after book that the character Marcie searches for, while the normal hardcover looks more modern in design. The limited edition is limited to a print run of 250 copies (which is stands true to the definition of "limited") and is signed and numbered by Carla Speed McNeil herself. Other than that...well, they're practically the exact same, just one is priced more affordable than the other. They're both the same size for Christ's sake! But then again, I'm sure you'll shell out the extra cash for this if it's you're favorite thing under the sun.

Overall rating: 3.5/5

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Review: Joe Golem and the Drowning City Deluxe Hardcover

Chances are you're reading this review because of one of two reasons: 1) you're a loyal fan of Mike Mignola's work or 2) you've read/purchased the previous hard cover edition of Joe Golem and the Drowning City and are toying with the idea of upgrading for Dark Horse's Deluxe Edition HC. As a huge Mignola fan I am slightly biased by his gorgeous art, but I hope to set that aside to provide you with a brutally honest and opinionated review.

First and foremost, the premise behind Joe Golem and the Drowning City is a fascinating one. Set fifty years after torrential earthquakes and a rising sea level have left city of Manhattan submerged under 30 feet of water, fourteen-year-old Molly McHugh finds herself an orphan living in the extremely dangerous Drowning City. As luck would have it, she is rescued from her meager life by an elderly psychic named Felix Orlov, aka Orlov the Conjuror. Never expecting Orlov to be a  true psychic, she slowly yet surely realizes her caretaker's powers are indeed real--real enough to attract the wrong kind of attention from the villainous Dr. Cocteau and his gas-mask wearing monster men. But they're not alone. A clock-work detective named Simon Church (a nod and a wink to Sherlock Holmes) and his hulking strongman Joe Golem have secretly kept tabs on Orlov over the years, expecting just such an attack. Joe leaps to Molly's defense and thus begins our pulp adventure. Everything you would hope to expect from a Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden co-authorship.

Now that you're expectations are high, allow me to readjust them accordingly.

Joe Golem and the Drowning City is not just an illustrated novel (that's right, fans of Mignola, this is NOT a graphic novel--please don't be confused), this is one-hundred-percent a Young Adult illustrated novel. Just what does that mean? Well, if you believe The Hunger Games holds literary merit over Lord of the Flies and Battle Royale, than you're going to find this book to be the best damn thing since Frozen Yogurt became known as "Fro Yo." Sentence development, unnecessary ramblings, and shameful amounts of white space (this book could easily be half the size if formatted properly), this book reeks of the tropes found in Young Adult fiction. This is not to say that the book is bad and the writing is poor (co-author Christopher Golden provides some charming visuals unnecessary of any illustrations and his opening sequence is one of the most captivating I've read in years) but only that I was unprepared for the quality of the work.

Fans of Mignola's art and comics like myself might be disappointed too. I've already mentioned that this is NOT a graphic novel (second warning), so what should you come to expect? I counted three illustrations that take up the entirety of a page, the rest are of a marginal size, all of which are in black and white. For the most part Mignola's artwork represents old Germanic woodblock prints, however in Joe Golem there is no action or gusto in these pieces compared to his comic art. They all  feel silent and inert, simple and more sketch like than what you might typically consider an "illustration." 
Now for what you've all been waiting for--discussing the Deluxe Edition. From what I can tell (keep in mind I read a digital copy) there is absolutely nothing different from the first hard cover addition other than the size,  slipcase, limited edition signature plate (this book is limited to 1,000 copies), and the inclusion of the previously unprinted "Joe Golem and the Copper Girl" (which you can still purchase digitally). All of these amendments for nearly fivefold the original price (unless you rush to Amazon where it's currently going for $62.99). Personally, I believe the St. Martin's Press edition published earlier this year is superior solely for the gorgeous art on the dust jacket alone--plus it's already a hardcover! But if you have the money to burn and feel like owning some kind of bragging right, you can fork up the generous wampum for the most expensive and over glorified Young Adult novel I've ever seen in existence.

Overall rating: 3/5