That’s Not What I Meant: Geoff Johns on Secret Six

No matter which comics news site(s) you read, I’m sure you’ve seen a lot of coverage on the recent New York Comic Con. My Google Reader was packed with stories from the show, many of them duplicate information. Sometimes, I like to read how Newsarama, Comic Book Resources, and Comics Alliance cover the same information. In CBR’s coverage of the Justice League of America panel, one quote jumped out at me.

“A ‘Secret Six’ fan wanted to know if there was a possibility of those characters appearing the New 52 soon, Johns stating that because Gail Simone defined them so well he wanted to leave them alone for a while and focus on characters that were less well known, but ‘Never say never,’ Johns added.”

So Simone did such a good job with them that you want to leave them alone? That’s mental! She defined the characters so well, that you put them away? The superhero industry is built on well-defined characters. Look at the DC line. Take away the Justice League characters. What’s left? A bunch of under-performing books filled with bland characters. Without distinct personalities, they will just fade away. He was around for barely five years, but who can’t instantly hear Ragdoll’s voice? It was the same way with the other Secret Six members – Scandal, Deadshot, King Shark, Catman, Jeanette, Bane, the whole gang.

Secre Six #36

You ever hear the joke about the Justice League? How if you put them in a dark room, you wouldn’t be able to tell who said something? I’ve read each of them for years, but I’ll be honest; I can’t tell you how Aquaman and Hal Jordan’s voices are different. Or Barry Allen. Or Ted Kord. Or Ray Palmer.

Just to finish off my DC hate, let’s look at the X-Men. Make fun of Claremont and his “accents” all you want, but his characters had voices: Wolverine, Rogue, Gambit, Cannonball, Banshee, Nightcrawler, Colossus, Beast, Magneto, Wolfsbane, Emma Frost, and on and on and on. Well-defined. Unique. Lasting.

Sorry. I’ve been rereading Secret Six recently. It was such a good book. I hate that it doesn’t come out anymore.

New York Comic Con 2012

New York Comic Con was … decent this year. Good guest list. Placing Artist Alley in its own aircraft hangar was nice. But there were so many people. And so many people stopping in the middle of aisles to take pictures. And so many swords bashing me in the face. Thanks Deadpool.

The only thing I can show you that no one else on the internet can is my new art!

Let’s go!

In the seven years since the current volume of X-Factor started, there have been a lot of artists on this book. Like dozens. So I’ve seen a lot of interpretations of the characters. Some artists draw Rahne Sinclair really well in human form. Some draw her really well in wolf form. But Emanuela Lupacchino does both. I was talking to Peter David and his only reply was “You don’t have to tell me.” Lupacchino lives in Italy, so seeing her at an American con is rare. So when I saw she was going to be at the show, she was the #1 (and possibly only) commission I needed.

Wolfsbane by Emanuella Lupacchino

My first convention was the 2008 Baltimore Comic Con. One of the commissions I wanted was Mike McKone, who had a great Teen Titans run. The character? Raven. Unfortunately, he was behind on his pages, so he wasn’t drawing at the con. But now, four years later, I caught him early in the show.

Raven by Mike McKone

No disrespect to Mark Brooks, but I was actually in line at the Marvel booth to see Kieron Gillen. While in line, Brooks was doing sketches. I like his work, so I said my standard “your favorite villain.” Almost always, the artist has to think about it. I’ve gotten Two-Face, Captain Cold, Dr. Doom. But never Sabertooth. Until now.

Sabretooth by Mark BrooksLee Bermejo is just awesome. At the DC Booth, he was doing sketches for fans. His favorite villain? A common one, the Joker. Sick, dude.

Joker by Lee Bermejo

And to finish of this post, I’ve got an older piece of art. Back in April, I saw Katie Cook at the Boston Comic Con. This was my only piece from the show and I guess I never got around to scanning it. For those of you who don’t know, Katie draws a webcomic called Gronk.
“Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but the New England Patriots have a player called Rob Gronkoski. We call him Gronk. So I was wondering if you could draw Gronk in Gronk’s jersey.”
Gronk by Katie Cook

New York Comic Con 2011

I wasn’t a big fan of last year’s New York Comic Con. With 70,000 people crammed in an under construction Javitz Center, it was more like being pulled along a river of people than strolling around a comic convention. You could hardly walk around anywhere other than Artist Alley. It was a three-day show, but I didn’t bother going back Sunday. Too stressful.

For that reason, I wasn’t planning on going this year, but after a few months, I get antsy and need that atmosphere. I called my boy Ronnie up and told him I was coming down.

I’m really glad I did.

Construction was finished, so despite a rumored 105,000 attendees filling three huge rooms, everything was very accessible. With the exception of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s ridiculous lines, I managed to get all the autographs I wanted. I got three great commissions. I met someone who has meant a lot to me since before I could speak.

Me and Oscar the GrouchAnd more than all that I had a once in a lifetime experience. But we’ll get there, first – the sketches.

One commission I wanted to get was a Batwoman by Amy Reeder. Sadly, she was only doing a couple a day, so I was too late to sign up. But Artist Alley is huge. There were plenty of other options.

Readers may know that my favorite book last year was Young Allies. So when I read that David Baldeon was going to be there, he shot up my list. And he drew a great Nomad for me.

Nomad by David BaldeonNext was Scott Kolins. Between recently finishing reading the Flash run he did with Geoff Johns and my love for villains, I was hoping he could do one of the rogues for me. He said Captain Cold was his favorite. Check this out.

Captain Cold by Scott KolinsLast was Dennis Calero. He had done a quick Multiple Man sketch for me back in 2009, but this was a full commission. He said Two-Face was a favorite of his. I didn’t have Two-Face in my book. It was destiny. And he killed it.

Two-Face by Dennis CaleroANYWAY. On Friday, after the show, I went to dinner with Marvel’s Vice President of Creator and Content Development, C. B. Cebulski, their Chief Creative Officer, Joe Quesada, and Editor in Chief, Axel Alonso.

Yeah.

The NYCC people offered a “Wanna Go on a Date with Marvel?” event. Ten fans had dinner with three of Marvel most visible employees at WD-50, a restaurant owned by Wylie Dufresne (yeah, the guy from Top Chef Masters). It was a nine-course meal with wine pairing in the wine cellar. It was the fanciest meal I’ve ever had. And so much fun.

Marvel MenuNot exactly the pulled pork tacos I had Thursday night, huh?

For five hours, the 13 of us (nine fans [one didn’t show up], three Marvel guys and the Marketing Director from NYCC) sat around, ate, drank and talked. About everything. Marvel being part of Disney. Great NYC restaurants. I talked to Alonso about the NBA. Joey Q talked about being on the set of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. We were mostly strangers, but the conversations just flowed. Some artists that were drinking upstairs stopped by. Joe (Mets fan) and I (from Boston) made fun of Alex Maleev for wearing a Yankees cap. It was just a fun night surrounded by people who all love comics. Aspiring writers. Aspiring artists. Readers. Bloggers. It was a great group of people. The ticket cost a few shekels, but I’m so glad I spent them.

After dinner, a few of us went dancing around the corner at a bar called Idle Hands. The Phonogram guys were spinning that night, but they had already finished. Nonetheless, the music was perfect:
Pulp – Disco 2000
The Smiths – This Charming Man
Depeche Mode – Just Can’t Get Enough
Human League – Don’t You Want Me
The Clash – Train in Vain
It was like someone had borrowed my iPod. After a few songs, it was quickly 2:00 AM. And my drunk legs had a trek back to Jersey.

Saturday was spent mostly poking around the rest of the con, picking up my sketchbooks, and seeing Cobie Smulders at the Marvel booth. (Robin Sparkles for the win!) I do want to mention that I picked up a book created by a couple of the girls from the Marvel Dinner. Check out Meridien City, new from Alpha Girl Comics. I picked it up to support some new friends, but it really is a quality book. It follows a homicide cop on a foreign planet with only certain livable areas – the rest of the planet is too hot. When bodies pile up around the outskirts, it’s her job to find out why. There’s a deeper hook, but I’ll leave that to the reader.

Meridien CityAfter the show, I had some BBQ and met up with an old friend from my London days. ($6 for a High Life? Really New York?) And then I went Marvel’s Chesterfest 2011. Take your neighborhood bar. Fill it with comics pros. And give everyone X-Men coasters. Yeah, it was awesome. A few more drinks, a little deliberation about approaching Jason Aaron (I left him alone), and it was time to call it a weekend.

Yes, I skipped Sunday again, but when you’re good with your budget and time, two days is plenty for a convention. It was a great show and I have no question I’ll be there next year.

New York Comic Con 2010

I realize it’s been two weeks now, but I’ve been dreading this post. Long story short: I found this year’s NYCC to be too big and too overwhelming. 96,000 people? I don’t care how big the hall is, that’s a lot of people. 96,00 people means the main floor is an ocean of people, carrying you with them down each aisle and through each booth. It’s almost to hard to browse. If you’re not going to a table for a specific reason, it’s not worth fighting your way though the crowd. You wanted to see the Marvel booth? Too bad. It’s packed like the floor at a Gwar concert. But with more costumes.

By the end of Saturday, I had bought three books (reviews … to come) and a t-shirt, gotten a bagful of signatures and received five sketches. All for under my budget. I didn’t even go on Sunday.

So before the con, I posted a list of things to check out. How’d it go?

Podcast Alley – I got to meet the guys from Comic Geek Speak for the third time. Nice dudes. Always fun to talk to. I finally met Adam (Murd), which means I’ve met all the geeks.  I also bought a sweet shirt from them: “Tosche Station Power Converters – Worth Whining About.” Easily the nerdiest shirt I own. Good times.

Free Stuff – Marvel had a generic selection of posters and preview issues, but once again DC had a good spread. Recent issues of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and DV8. Also, What’s Next issues of Jonah Hex, Hellblazer and more. A smart way to expose people to your properties.

Speed Dating – Yeah. About that. My speed dating session started Saturday at 2. I got there at 1:45. At 2:15 someone came out of the room and told us they had already started. REAL NICE. When was the last time something at a comic convention started early? So speed dating was a bust. Too bad. It sounded … interesting.

The Cultyard – Remember that sea of people I was talking about? Well, it flooded the Cultyard. I walked by once and it was too crowded to step in to. Too bad.

ART! – I can’t say I was disappointed with the art I manged to pull.

The White Violin from by Gabriel Bá

The White Violin from The Umbrella Academy by Gabriel Bá

Tara Chace from Queen and Country by Leandro Fernandez

Tara Chace by Leandro Fernandez

Tara Chace from Queen and Country by Clara Speed McNeil

Tara Chace by Clara Speed McNeil

Penny from Phonogram by Jamie McKelvie

Penny by Jamie McKelvie

Siryn by Valentine DeLandro

Siryn by Valentine DeLandro

I didn’t realize until after the show, but all five of the characters are female. Interesting.

The only other person I was hoping to get a sketch from was Nicola Scott, but her list for the weekend was full less than two hours into the con (WHAT?). Oh well, one for the future.

Everything Else – 1) I got Jeph Loeb to sign my Daredevil: Yellow hardcover. Now my favorite story is signed by the writer and artist. Awesome.

2) Nicki Clyne (Cally from Battlestar Galactica) is super nice. I went up to tell her I loved her on the show. Her smile and “Thank You” were so genuine I just wanted to take her home and love her* be her best friend forever.

3) I talked to Kieron Gillen about the (hypothetical) future of Phonogram. Specifically, what Emily Aster would think of Lady Gaga. The next miniseries would have had a theme of identity as it relates to music, focusing on Emily/Claire. And she would have loved Gaga.

4) Quotes of the weekend:

Some dude in the men’s room.: “Nice lightsaber.” – It’s probably a common compliment at a con, but dude, there’s better venues for it.

My buddy Ron, while looking for a bar: “What does that sign say under ‘The Continental?’ ”
Me: ” ‘Five shots of anything $10.’ That’ll do!!”

___

So yeah. It was fun, but it was nicer last year. Having such a big floorplan means you spend a ton of time just going from place to place. I think Fan Expo Toronto is still my favorite con I’ve been to. I’m planning on checking out C2E2 next year. Always nice to try new things.

Any one else at the show? Did you have the same experience or am I turning into an old man too early?

*Sexist comments redected.

Five Things To Do at NYCC

It’s days away now, but with the entire Javitz center filled with fanboys and otaku, you really need a gameplan. Here are five things I wouldn’t miss this weekend.

5) Podcast Alley – I listen to four comics podcasts: Comic Geek Speak, IGN Comics Smash, Word Balloon, and 4th Letter’s Fourcast. While Comic Geek Speak is the only one of those at the con in an official, exhibiting capacity, NYCC has given a good dozen podcasters their own area on the floor. Like sex, comics are so much better as a community activity than a solo one. Meet your favorite hosts and buy some swag from them to help support their show (which they probably offer for free).

4) Free Stuff – I won’t deny it. I love walking around the con seeing who’s giving what away. Free books are a good way for smaller publishers to get their name out, so you can often find sampler issues or even full comics by a creator trying to get their name out there.

DC always puts out a nice selection of new books, posters, pins, and recently rings (Lantern, Flash, etc.). Last year, Marvel also had giveaway hours that included hardcovers, toys, apparel and even some art. Careful of those crowds though. A tip: send a small child to the front of the crowd. The giveaway guy is always a sucker for kids.

3) Speed Dating – Do you want to tell the best story at your next party? The same group that hosted speed dating at the recent Star Wars Celebration (“Lookin’ for love in Alderaan places” is the best tagline I’ve ever heard.) is back! Spend two hours: The worst that could happen is you don’t make a connection. The best that could happen is you meet someone who likes to dress up like Sailor Moon (or Tuxedo Mask). Pre-registration has closed, but you can still register at Room 1A20 on Friday or Saturday. I don’t want no one to get too excited, but I’ll be there Saturday from 2-4.

2) The Cultyard – Now this is something I haven’t seen in the past. I’d describe the Cultyard as a corral of urban artist. Here, art can mean fashion, toys, animation, anything. It’s more hipster than nerd, but with comics “becoming more mainstream,” maybe the groups are blurring. One specific artist I want to mention is Tara McPherson. She did a recent Women in Comics event at my local shop, where she sketched a nice piece for me:Sketch by Tara McPherson

The scan doesn’t do justice to the pencil work, but you get the idea. And speaking of sketches …

1) ART! – I’ve said before that my favorite part of convention is meeting artists and getting sketches. Let’s see a few pieces that I got last year:

Batman by Rags MoralesBlue Beetle by FancoEcho by David MackRobin by Todd NauckWonder Girl by Franco

Batman by Rags Morales, Blue Beetle by Franco, Echo by David Mack, Robin by Todd Nauck and Wonder Girl by Franco.

So yeah, lots of art. Some people will do a quick sketch for free. Some charge for more involved pieces, but where else can you get custom art like that? And sketchbooks area great thing to show off when someone scans your shelves.

The con begins in four days.

See you there!