Archive for the ‘Comics and Graphic Novels’ Category

New York Comic Con 2019!   Leave a comment

IMG_1913Me, having a Mary Tyler Moore moment at the entrance of NYCC 19

So yeah, I went to another New York Comic Con this year. As usual, it was quite the spectacle of costumes, chaos and crowds. I tried going on a Friday this year instead of a Saturday, naively thinking it’d be less attended. It wasn’t. Sheer ridiculousness. But in a good way. Was a bit different this year, though, because I came without my son. He recently joined the Navy, passed boot camp and all that. Missed him, but made him feel a bit less left out by purchasing three “The Walking Dead” graphic novels for his enjoyment. Needless to say, the sting of not being able to attend was lessened a tad.

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Horrible backwards selfie, but who cares? I’m in!

I’m always a bit nervous before I enter NYCC. Will my badge show up as validated? Will I be mistaken for a Changeling and morph into something regrettable? Will my ticket fall out of my bag onto the sidewalk and be snatched up by Sephiroth? But make it through I do, in one piece, despite shuffling through the enormous wedge of humanity struggling to slip through the main gate entrance booths.

Shortly after I arrived, I met up with my friends Arwen and Aragorn. We toured the Jacob Javitz center in search of Funko Pop versions of themselves.

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A royal pair and their handler

I felt kind of important shuffling around with Arwen and Aragorn. Every five seconds they’d be politely pulled over and asked if their photos could be taken. And they graciously obliged.

We went downstairs in the Artist’s Alley, usually less crowded and filled with amazing art from artists whose illustrations fill the pages of famous graphic novels and classic comics. But not today. We gave up after about twenty minutes, quite unable to even get close to any tables to admire their work, except for a female artist whose name I neglected to remember. Her gig was propaganda posters using classic Star Wars characters – you know, Princess Leia, Han Solo, Luke Skywalker and their ilk. Very nearly purchased one but couldn’t see myself shambling through the crowds carrying one of her pieces without it getting destroyed, even if it was in a carrier.

But I love graphic novels. That’s my thing. I head over to the area where they’re all situated. I can’t seem to find my old pals from Man Vs. Rock, mainly because it’s so crowded and they aren’t in their usual place (sorry guys! I promise to find you next year!), but I do find Oliver Mertz from First Law of Mad ScienceThe same thing happened last year with him – it was so unimaginably crowded last year that I missed his booth. So I made up for it by buying everything up that I didn’t get to do last year. The artist and partner in this venture was also in attendance, Michael S. Bracco.

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Oliver Mertz, new father and proud purveyor of his work

I wind up buying several back issues to catch me up on this wonderful series. I also add to it a T-shirt that reads, “Don’t blame me, I’m the writer.” I’ve already worn it a bunch of times.

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Somewhere in the massive crowds, I spot Dark Horse Publications. OH MY GOD, DO I SEE …NO…IT CAN’T BE…IS IT?

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The comic that guided me through my twenties

There’s a huge banner with one of my all-time favorite comic characters, The Flaming Carrot. I rush up to a booth attendant, pointing to the banner. “Where is that book?” I spurt out, heart all aflutter. He points to a bookcase across the way and I rush for it. I hold it in my hands, turning the pages slowly. All the wonderful memories of this lovingly stupid but heroically brave carrot come racing back. As I pay for it, the booth attendant says, “Yeah, you just missed him by about ten minutes. Bob’s a great guy.  He would’ve autographed it for you.” Oh don’t tell me that. Gosh, I feel a bit disappointed but heartwarmed because this treasure from my twenties rests in the back of my backpack. I later devour it on the train.

I also pick up a couple of copies of Paper Girls, a wonderful series about twelve-year-old paper delivery girls in 1988 who get caught up in a time warp of sorts – two warring factions from the future show up the day after Halloween just as the girls are delivering their papers. I heard it’s now going to become a television series. Can’t wait!

But what’s a Comic Con without costumes? Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of great shots to share this year, mainly because I was struggling to get around. But I did take a couple.

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Kaonashi, AKA No-Face, chronicled on phone by fan

If you haven’t seen the rather creepy Japanese animated film, Spirited Away, well, perhaps you should…or shouldn’t…based on this image and extremely well executed costume. Kaonashi is bound to create nightmares.

And what’s a Comic Con without a swarm of Spidey?

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Web of intrigue? Or a bunch of people without imaginations or resources?

I must admit I was a bit disappointed this year. There wasn’t any real banging exhibitions that’d capture my imagination. In 2017, there was a terrific curated exhibition for Star Wars (and I blogged about it). Also, The Tick and his vehicle came that year, plus so much other things to see. But this year? Sure, there’s the usual video game corrals with the million mile line. And the authors who charge $100 for an autograph. There are panels that are quite public and others that you can’t get into because the line is from here to Texas. But it’s so crowded and there didn’t seem to be any visitor-friendly exhibitions for the past two years. There’s a lot to take in, and I’m glad the event is so successful. I do support it, but maybe next year I’m going to try for a Thursday, which seems to be the slowest of all. They were practically begging people to buy tickets for that day, although a friend of mine who went said it was kind of busy.

After hours of barely managing to see all that we came to see, Arwen and Aragorn were getting mighty hot wandering around in those heavy robes, and my back began to kill me after toting around fifty pounds of graphic novels. We struggled to find the exit, although we kept stumbling into loads of entrances. Along the way, we ran into literally dozens of Spidermen/people, who gathered together for a show of kinship. 

Finally, just before the event ended, we called it a day. I had a great time as usual, although this blog can’t even begin to touch upon all that I experienced. The photos don’t do it justice either, but if I wrote about every single thing, including the overpriced food and standing in enormous lines for the toilet, this blog would never end.

So I leave you to enjoy what little I’ve written, and hope to bring you much more next year!

NY ComicCon 2016 – Reading the Small Print   Leave a comment

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The Mad Geniuses Behind First Law of Mad Science, and Me

So I went to NY ComicCon on Saturday, October 8, 2016. And sure, I could tell you about all the mind-blowing, bigger-than-bejeezus and whammo-bap-biff sights that assaulted my senses during my visit, along with the claustrophobic cosplay crowded aisles.

But no, I won’t. Instead, I’ll tell you about what everybody should be noticing, and that’s the large imaginations behind the smaller prints just waiting to be discovered.

Instead of jamming my way into the bigger, more crowded booths, I took the path less travelled – the Small Press section of the convention.

There, I found extraordinarily friendly, helpful, entertaining people, even if I didn’t make a purchase. All of these people readily shared their stories about how they managed to make it to NYCC 2016, what inspired their work, why they keep going and the sacrifices they made along the way. Clearly every one of these people are devoted to their craft, often a labor of intense love rewarded each time someone turns the pages of their works…or contributes to their Kickstarter project.

So it’s with that spirit I introduce to you some of the representatives of small presses that I met. I only wish I could write about all 40+ of them, but time and space only allows for these. Please support their works and visit their websites. I’ll guarantee you it’s time well spent.

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First Law of Mad Science, Written by Oliver Mertz and Mike Isenberg, Art by Daniel Lapham, Colors by Jeff McComsey and Oliver Mertz, Lettering by Mike Isenberg and Oliver Mertz, Cover by Ryan Brown and Issue 3 Inks by Lonny Chant. Published by Noreon Labs. Website: http://www.firstlawofmadscience.com.

I met the creators on a casual stroll, when I gazed up at the title of the first volume, “Work Until Your Family Is Sad” made me break out in laughter. Please forgive me if I get your names messed up, guys, but I think it was Oliver who gave me the impressive elevator speech that hooked me to buy this book. And while I didn’t have a chance to read it today (sorry, I had to go to work!), the bit I glanced through LOOKS GREAT! I also have a to get through FLOMS Science Club Mixtape. It’s a compendium of several artists’ works and stories.

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Man Vs. Rock, Volume 1, Written by Victor Detroy and Kevin Bieber, Art by Jared Lamp, Colors by Summer Fitzgerald. http://www.manvsrock.com

 I knew I had a winner yesterday when I walked up to this booth and one of the artists responsible for its creation acted it out for me. Obviously, I had to buy it. The creatives behind this project are a team from Maine and Texas who now live in Las Angeles but came to New York ComicCon. And as my personal dramatic reading demonstrated, this graphic novel features a strong female character AND a rock. While the female character is a strong as a rock, it’s the rock who’s the heavy hitter here. Don’t ask me to reveal all the severe consequences throughout history that the rock foisted on humankind, but if you get your hands on this book, you’ll certainly find out! Learn the truth and purchase, folks!

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Toolbox, Written by Kyle Gnepper (website – http://www.unshavencomicsonlin.com), Art by Kristen Gudsnuck (website – http://www.henchgirlcomic.com).

Another charmer of a work, this is a family-friendly graphic novel anyone can enjoy. It looks like fun and I can’t wait to read it! To quote the back cover, “Robot Justice Is Efficient Justice! Toolbox is about a future off world human settlement that reprograms a construction robot to protect them from bandits and dangerous wild life in the area. It’s equal parts science fiction and western adventure. At its heart it’s about technology, sisterhood, character and what it means to be a family.”

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Agent 81 and the Black Train, Written by Robert Geronimo, Illustration by Chilly Bliss, Ascalon Press, NY http://www.ascalonpress.com.

I spoke to the author, Robert Geronimo, for quite some time and his enthusiasm is infectious. He came up with a twisty take on World War II. I’m going to quote the back cover because it explains the plot better than I can remember. “AGENT 87 AND THE BLACK TRAIN – A true master of disguise, martial artist and linguist, Agent 87 is the world’s greatest spy. With the Second World War coming to its peak, 87 goes undercover to investigate a lethal weapons project in a Japanese-occupied region in China. With the help of a French weapons expert and a greedy mercenary, 87 unravels a plot filled with death and horror, discovering she must stop a deadly train carrying the destruction of mankind as its cargo.”

I must also add that Ascalon Press also has a division, Ascalon Games, and they’ve created an app called “Little Maia and the Lunar Express – a game where the player evades enemy rockets, aliens and a giant space monster.

A Ticket To Heartbreak and Heaven   Leave a comment

2016 NY ComicCon

I got excited when the yearly reminder to sign up for October’s NY Comic Con appeared in my inbox. For years, I swore I’d love to attend but life always interfered somehow: had to work and couldn’t get off, or something was up with the kid, or after all the bills got paid, the till’s empty and so were my pockets.

This year, however, was different. The stars aligned in my favor. For once.

Upon receiving the notice I needed to fill in my fan verification form, a method of preregistration, I counted the days until the site opened. As one can imagine, in years past, tickets to this event were hotter than asphalt in Florida on an August afternoon, and acquiring them often required a Ferengi’s ability to pilfer, smuggle and trade. So who can blame the folks at NYCC to try a new method of ticket selling so that anyone who wanted to attend actually could…legitimately?

Once the Fan Verification site went live, I filled in my name, my husband’s name and my son’s. It asked for email addresses. Since I was treating the family for tickets, I put my own email in all three. I’ve purchased tickets for various and sundry trade shows in the same manner, so why should this be any different?

Several days later, I received a notice that tickets were now open for sale for verified fans. After waiting in an electronic queue for well over an hour (lucky I hit the button right as it came live!), I purchased three tickets and was instructed that I’d need to go to another site to complete the sale. I got excited. Not only was my family going, I planned to surprise my son with his ticket, since the event takes place right before his birthday.

As I opened the site’s page to complete the sale, I noticed my email address went in on my designated field, but not on my husband’s or son’s. Strange, I thought, and went to read up on what I might be doing wrong. As it turned out, each person needs his or her own email address. What? Aren’t I buying the tickets? How come? From NYCC’s twitter feed, I quickly learned that many boyfriends, girlfriends, uncles, aunts and cosplay girls and boys believed as I did.

Suddenly, we were all shut out of living our dream. No 2016 NY ComicCon for us.

I called. The helpful and polite person on the other end verified what in my heart I realized was true: every ticket needs its own email address. If not, we’re very sorry, but we have to refund your money.

First, I wanted to cry.

Then scream.

Then kick myself for not following directions the way I should.

Enthusiasm and past Javitz Center purchasing experiences clouded my decision-making for this event. I hated myself for not following the directions carefully, but then again, why shouldn’t one person be able to buy a couple of tickets? It comes down to a factor more than just hoping to surprise someone with a nice treat: fraud. This convention is so rife with people elbowing out the legit crowd with overpriced scalped tickets, the powers that be decided to try another way.

Unfortunately, there were an awful lot of people like me, and all of us, including me, let NY ComicCon folks know how devastated we all were. All we wanted was a good time, fanning it up with our ilk, grabbing autographs and a pile of merch to take home and savor.

Yet, inside of me, a gut feeling told me to hang on. Just wait, it said, there’s going to be good new yet…

And there was.

Out of the blue, I received a nice, polite email from NY ComicCon. Apparently, they heard us. Chose to do the right thing. Gave us a second chance.

We had a brief window to verify the fans we wanted to purchase tickets for, only 24 hours, but that was more than enough time. I scrambled online and fan verified both my husband and kid. Twenty-four hours after that, I purchased tickets for all three of us.

My heartbreak turned out to be a ticket to heaven. Now we’re all going!

Hope to see you there.

Graphic Novel Projects   Leave a comment

On my Twitter feed, I follow all sorts of sci-fi creators. Writers, aficionados, artists, designers, editors, fans…everyone’s got my attention. While I simply don’t have time to click on every link I get, I do check out quite a few. That’s the beauty of Twitter – tons of information packed in a sliver.

It doesn’t take long to discover there’s a lot of people out there doing their literal best to breathe life into their loves. E-published works pop up all the time. So do gorgeous illustrations with nary a book to grace. But like many of us, the means to take these works to the next level is woefully absent. Let’s just say if .000000000000000000001 of the amount of money wasted on this year’s presidential was put towards good causes, including arts in all forms, this nation could nurture, educate and launch many artists careers.

So once that art teacher’s been let go, or the music teacher is split between 6 schools in the district, or grammar goes out the window when the English teacher teaches to the test, we all lose.

But I’m only slightly digressing here.

Determination will get you everywhere, and out of the ashes of worthy causes rose Kickstarter. For every project, there’s believers just like the you. Come up with a good idea, spread the word and eventually, if that project’s worthiness commands attention, Kickstarter investors will support even the most humble projects.

Two Tweets caught my attention recently, both graphic novel projects, using Kickstarter and other means to raise money for their projects. I like them both and thought I’d bring them to your attention.

Paradox Girl

“Paradox Girl” Credit: Cayti Elle Bouquin/Yishan Li

“Do you know what happens when you violate causality? By definition, nothing.” These are the opening words of the first “Paradox Girl,” written by Cayti Elle Bouquin, illustrated by Yishan Li, edited by Peter Bensley and published by Georgina Bensley. It’s the story of a girl who shifts back and forth in times so frequently, she runs into herself constantly…and therein lie the often humorous plot.

These dedicated artists wish to share Paradox Girl’s dream with all of you, but realize you might want to figure out who she is first (and actually, so would PG!). Their website introduces PG to you and shows the reader who charming she is. If you like what you read, there’s three different graphic novels to choose from available for purchase. They’d appreciate it if you bought a copy or two, plus left a little something in the tip jar. Join their mailing list and they’ll let you know when their next Kickstarter campaign begins.

Have Space

Credit: Eric Gignac

“Have Space Suit – Will Travel” is the second Kickstarter project that’s come across my Twitter feed. Since I can’t explain it any better than their web page does, I’m quoting it directly below:

“Have Space Suit – Will Travel is the second graphic novel adapted from Robert Heinlein’s Virginia Edition, which is the complete and definitive 46 volume collector’s set of all of Heinlein’s works. This follow-on project is approved by the copyright owner, the Heinlein Prize Trust and will be produced with the support of the Virginia Edition Publishing Company. The purpose of the Heinlein Prize is to encourage and reward progress in commercial space activities that advances Robert and his wife Virginia’s dream of humanity’s future in space. The Virginia Edition Publishing Company is responsible for the production and distribution of the authoritative text of all of Robert Heinlein’s published fiction and non-fiction – The Robert A. Heinlein: Virginia Edition Collection.”

Click on the above link and you’ll be take right to the Kickstarter page. Eric Gignac only has until July 16, 2016 to raise fund for his project. He’s more than halfway there, and if you’re will to share in his dream, show your support and donate.

As with both projects, your donations will go towards an artistic worthy cause, support science fiction folks just like yourself, and leave you with the warm and fuzzy feeling that your money didn’t go towards a campaign run by people who neither understand nor appreciate just how otherworldly and bizarre this year’s campaign has become (or fodder for yet another graphic novel?).

New Sci-fi Books Roundup – May 1, 2016   Leave a comment

I’m going to try to make this a weekly thing: a brief list of new sci-fi books or those that show up on my Twitter feed. I’d like to get the word out there to both my blog and Twitter followers that there’s some reads out there that deserve a look-over, as well as support these writers any way I can. Eventually, I’ll have more time to read these works, but at least I can promote them a little.  I’ve chosen these books at random but perhaps one day I’ll get to yours, too!

Just in case you’d like to know, my Twitter handle is @gretchenweerhei

The last hero

The Last Hero (The Last Hero Trilogy Book 1) Kindle Edition

.99 read on Kindle or FREE on KindleUnlimited

Contact with a race of pacifists convinces mankind to lay down its weapons and keep the peace. The last Medal of Honor recipient, Trent Maxwell, trades glory for the comforts of a family after the U.S. Army disbands. All that ends when an alien menace attacks the New Earth colony, which forces a crash mobilization. Trent finds himself reactivated and traveling through space to distant worlds, in order to stop this new enemy. During the century long journey of death, love, and loss, he also deals with the law of relativity that wreaks havoc with his daughter.

Outside

OUTSIDE – a post-apocalyptic novel (Outside Series Book 1) Kindle Edition

Sophie Radcliffe, a feisty Texan intergalactic agent, is a brilliant computer programmer with a photographic memory. She has worked for the Intergalactic Law Enforcement Agency for ten years and is considered to be the best human agent on the team. She works alongside two other humans, Tom Logan, a tough, ex-police cop from Chicago and Justin Adams, a talented British linguist, whose arrogant, superior ways get right under the skin of his colleagues. When the agents discover their nemesis, a Drogg named Zenzoris, has escaped his prison pod and is out for revenge, the mission to recapture him takes the agents on a terrifying, roller-coaster adventure. Will the Drogg succeed in overthrowing the Intergalactic Council this time? The agents battle against time to find the Drogg before he destroys the world.

 

The God Computer

The God Computer Kindle Edition

Book Expo America!   Leave a comment

BEA 7BEA HC GretchenBEA 4BEA 6BEA 3

Once again, my sister Gwen and I found ourselves at Book Expo America, located at the Jacob Javitz Center in New York City.  If you have anything to do with books – read, write, sell, publish, lend, stack or otherwise handle, this is it, folks, an action-packed book and publishing extravaganza, meant to pull the forces of the written word in every available direction.  It’s not for the faint of heart or feigning writers, either.  If you’re serious, you’re here.  No argument.  Every May this trade show and convention takes place, attracting literally anyone and everyone who has a connection to the written word.  If you think I’m kidding, just click here to see who showed up.  Wheeler-dealers haggle over contracts, agents meet editors to sell the next big thing, authors sign books and everyone checks out the free swag.

Gwen and I went to meet up with our agent, Marisa Corvisiero, but also to wander the aisles in search of our genres (Gwen – Women’s Fiction, me – Sci-Fi).  Even more, though, are the trends that surface during these events.  China, holding the Guest of Honor position, displayed every single genre from children’s to serious modern literature.  In the back of the floor, many digital publishing and other services commanded a large swath of space.  It seems as if writing the actual story is only a tiny portion of what digital services offers.  It’s getting the word out about everything surrounding that book that counts here.  All business regarding the writer’s craft, folks!

Of course, there’s always room for a bit of fun, natch.

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Our friend Sam Bremekamp, a Young Adult agent and writer, couldn’t make it this year, so we photobombed her way in…sort of…

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I made a couple of friends, too.

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And, of course, visited the latest in Sci-Fi.  I tweeted a few of these, but for some reason my Twitter app shamefully didn’t recognize the term “sci-fi” and instead put either “sci-on” or “sci-it.”  Kind of odd, but then again, so is the genre, so I suppose it’s okay.

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We ran into a few acquaintances during our travels…

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…and we couldn’t quite determine what the message was here, other than magenta and black is a must-have color for a young woman.

As we glanced around the swirl of activity throughout the ginormous floor, gazing at whole booths devoted to famous writers, outsized signs blasting their names while long lines queued up to obtain autographs from hot bestselling authors (books were free, too!), the thought crossed both of our minds: that’ll be us, one day.

Not “some day…” as in waxing wistful.

ONE DAY…as a very achievable goal.

So keep your eyes open, folks!  We’re coming to a bookshelf near you.

Free Sci-Fi Reads   Leave a comment

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In case any of you are wondering where you could get yourself some new, cheap and quick sci-fi reads to load on that new iPad or tablet you got for Christmas, your birthday or just for fun, have I got a link for you!

Check out Wattpad, a site dedicated to new, established and undiscovered writers of all genres, but also for science fiction.  There are literally hundreds of books to choose from, on a wide range of topics.  If you’re searching for the latest in alien lit, or want to bone up on mysterious plagues or merciless wars, here’s your chance to follow serialized books.  What’s also great about this site is it offers writers, both established and new, the opportunity to create and share their work.

By the way, it’s not just for sci-fi fans – it’s for everyone.  If you want to sink into a romance or inform yourself on a particular topic, even catch the latest on werewolves and vampires, it’s all there.

But that’s not all, folks…there’s more!

Thinking of a good story and searching for a place to put it down into words?  This site also allows you to create.  There’s no demands on writers who wish to launch their careers, nothing to sign, no rights to control, no promises to turn over your firstborn.  It’s a direct connection to 30 million readers worldwide who might just sink their teeth into your mysterious fantasy and become an ardent fan.  It’s better than a blog, it’s your work!

If nothing else, this is a good site for those who might need a bit of encouragement to start placing their thoughts into a real work.  Someone’s bound to trip over what you’ve written, and you’ll get a real chance to have others examine your work.  Sure, it might be scary, but it’s also helpful.  Think of it as a growing process, and you’ll be on your way publishing that great story you’ve been dragging around in your head.

So what are you waiting for – get writing!

 

 

 

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