Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Fan Expo 2010 - Letter from the President

Sorry to pull the focus away from the Marvel 1980s, but I need to vent about the Fan Expo 2010. This year's show has been harshly and justly criticized by the media, fans, and myself. The President of Fan Expo put out the following letter of apology:

After reading this letter, the only thing I can do is shake my head. How can they claim they were unfamiliar with the North Building when the convention was originally held there for many years before moving to the South Building in recent years? Not to mention the Fan Appreciation Shows through the year that are also run out of the North Building. Sadly, this excuse is a blatant insult to their fans.

There's no mention of compensating fans, such as allowing them free access to those Fan Appreciation Shows or their other Comic Expos during the year. Sad and disappointing, but that's what you should expect when dealing with Fan Expo Toronto.

If only WizardWorld Toronto could step up next year. It could provide fans with a viable alternative and grab hold of that market.

1984 - Secret Wars #1 unpublished cover

Check out the penciled version of Mike Zeck's cover to Secret Wars #1. Note the extra characters that were removed in the final product: Thor, Mr. Fantastic, Shadowcat, Colossus, and Cannonball.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Thumbs down on the Fan Expo 2010

First off, I’d like to commend Fan Expo 2010 on their guest line up (including William Shatner, David Cronenburg, and Stan Lee) and their exhibitors (DC Comics, Marvel Comics, Disney, and Electric Playground). Their efforts here have put this convention into the top 10 in North America.

However, logistically, they still have a hell of a lot to learn. I was fortunate to have an exhibitor friend at the show who gave me a pass in exchange for working the booth. I didn’t have to endure the horrors I witnessed and have been reading about all weekend on the Toronto Fan Expo facebook page.

From the attendees point of view and mine, the Fan Expo was a terrible disappointment this year. Deluxe ticket holders were left to line up for hours just to get in, re-admission required 2 hours, volunteers/handlers were clueless and yelled at attendees, the show was oversold on Saturday, and tickets were being sold on Saturday despite the fact that they were oversold and that they weren’t actually letting people into the show.

Despite all of the crap and the hot, muggy weather, the attendees deserve some credit as there was no violence. I also felt bad for the exhibitors, as they were screwed with thousands of customers stuck outside and the narrow hallways allow virtually no traffic through.

Fan Expo really needs to expand their venue, perhaps even split up the show across the North and South buildings of the Convention Center (or maybe split the show up by attraction, say having the SCI-FI and ANIME show on another weekend), and really do some research and hire some intelligent and veteran staff who know how to control traffic flow and handle large crowds. They also need to treat attendees as paying customers instead of cattle ripe for herding and the electric prod. 

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Toronto Fan Expo 2010

Sorry for that lack of updates lately, it's been pretty crazy. I covered the Toronto After Dark Film Festival for The Black Glove Magazine (http://the-black-glove.blogspot.com) and took a handful of days off on vacation. Now, I'm back and looking forward to this weekend's Fan Expo 2010. It's Canada's biggest comic con and all the big players are coming, Marvel Comics, DC Comics, and Stan Lee!

For more information, check out: http://www.fanexpocanada.com

Of Marvel 1980s note, Bob Layton will be a guest and I'm hoping to get him to sign my Secret Wars Omnibus. As well, Marvel Comics is offering an exclusive Alpha Flight variant of Avengers #4 (seen on the left).

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Simonson Original Art eBay Auction - Beta Ray Bill

Plugging an eBay featuring a beautiful piece featuring Beta Ray Bill by Walt Simonson donated on the behalf of the family of a fallen solider. 100% of the proceeds will go to a college fund established for his 3 daughters. The auction ends today, so if you have the money, put a bid in on it…:)

Monday, August 16, 2010

1981 - Avengers Annual #10

Writer: Chris Claremont
Artists: Michael Golden (penciler/colourist) and Armando Gil (inker)

Claremont and Golden pull off one of strongest Annual efforts of the 1980s. This wonderful self-contained book featured a big event that was actually told in one story within one issue! Imagine that.

Avengers Annual #10 highlighted Claremont at his best, skillful handling a large cast of characters and at the same time, giving Rogue and Carol Danvers the special attention they needed (and for which Claremont was famous for as well). Claremont clearly loves Carol Danvers and has a history with the character having written her in her long-since cancelled series. Claremont excelled at moving the action along, compressing the story (with word-heavy caption I’ll admit), and really delivering value in this one double-sized issue.

This issue showed us the efforts that both the writer and editor put in to ensure that these events were in continuity and worked with all the other events that were recently happening in the Marvel Universe. They took advantage of the continuity and rewarded long-time readers.

This annual focused on Rogue who attacked Ms. Marvel and stole her powers using her mutant absorption abilities. - there’s a great battle sequence displaying how lethal Mystique can be as she and Rogue take out most of the Avengers. It was interesting to see Claremont tie up some loose story line from his tenure on Ms. Marvel. And again, working the Claremont strong woman angle, Carol tears a strip of her teammates over her rape (see Avengers #200).

The only criticism of this book would be the fact that the Avengers almost seem like guest-stars in their own Annual. Especially as the Avengers get their asses handed to them by the Brotherhood (to bring the overall plot about would claim Avengers fans of course). Okay, one more bit of criticism: most of the 1980s suffered under poor paper quality and colouring. I’d love to see these pages recoloured and printed as part of some Marvel Premiere Edition.

Interestingly, there’s a little girl in the hospital who’s called “Maddy Pryor” and of course any X-Fan worth their salt will recognize that name… turns out those Claremont was a fan of the folk band, Steeleye Span, and of their popular lead singer, Maddy Prior.

And lastly, this issue stands out for all of the above as well as being the first appearance of Rogue and of course, the spectacular art by Golden.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Favorite 10 Marvel one-shots of the 1980s

  1. Spider-Man vs Wolverine – Jim Owsley and Mark Bright/Al Williamson
  2. Silver Surfer – John Byrne
  3. Excalibur Special Edition “The Sword is Drawn” – Claremont & Davis
  4. New Mutants Special Edition – Claremont and Arthur Adams
  5. Uncanny X-Men vs Teen Titans – Claremont & Simonson
  6. Phoenix – The Untold Story
  7. X-Men Special Edition #1 (Reprinting Giant-Size X-Men with a backup feature by Dave Cockrum)
  8. Spider-Man: Soul of the Hunter – DeMatteis & Zeck
  9. Wolverine Jungle Adventure – Walt Simonson & Mike Mignola
  10. Starlord Special Edition – Claremont, Byrne, and Austin

Worthy of mention…
- Hulk vs Wolverine Special Edition
- Fantastic Four Roast by Fred Hembeck

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

1980 - Byrne/Austin X-Men print for the Marvel Comics Calendar

I could only find one of what I'm assuming is a 12 print calendar. If anyone has anymore info on this calendar please pass it on... It's a beautiful drawing...

I also came across a few pics from the 1980 Doctor Strange Calendar... enjoy...

Mike Zeck:

Frank Miller:

George Perez:

John Byrne:

Thursday, August 5, 2010

1982 - Amazing X-Men Jam Piece

Came across this and had to share this amazing piece of work...

Colossus by George Perez
Cyclops by Paul Smith
Nightcrawler by Dave Cockrum
Wolverine by Bill Sienkiewicz
Kitty Pryde by John Byrne
Storm by Bob Wiacek

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

1984 - Amazing Spider-Man #248

"The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man!"
Writer: Roger Stern
Artists: Ron Frenz/Terry Austin

While the first story wraps up a two-parter that pitted Spidey against Thunderball of the Wrecking Crew, Amazing Spider-Man #248 is known for the 11 page back-up story. It’s a personal favorite and recognized by fans as one of the more memorable tales of the 1980s. If you haven’t read this issue, I won’t spoil it. Go out and pick up a copy. Go ahead, I’ll wait… Okay, I still won’t spoil this story, so you can read through without fear of spoilers.

In an interview with Roger Stern in Back Issue #10:

“I literally woke up one morning with that story in my head. (…) It was definitely the first time I got to work with Ron – although thankfully not the last. He perfectly captured what I was imagining; scripting the story was just a total joy. (…) I wrote the entire ‘Conover’s Corner’ column when I wrote the plot. (..) I’m flattered that people are still talking about it. At the time, I was just enjoying myself, writing Spider-Man stories, and hoping that the readers would enjoy them too.”

Also, from an interview at spiderfan.org:

“Partly, I'm sure that it sprang from a desire on my part to do a short human-interest story in the style of Will Eisner -- that's why the story is partially advanced through newspaper clippings...I was trying to be Eisneresque.”

It’s not hard to see that Ron Frenz did his best “Ditko” impersonation in these pages. And Terry Austin’s inks do a wonderful job finishing that homage. The last dialogue-free page is powerful and demonstrates what kind of dramatic story telling can be accomplished with solid artwork.

Hopefully this is one Spider-Man story that will remain sacred and no writer will ever touch.

Jacob Conover, the reporter who wrote the framing newspaper story within this back-up story has actually appeared a few times, particularly in the 1990s, throughout the Spidey titles, including Stern’s Spider-Man: Hobgoblin Lives.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Let's play the unpublished cover game! (Round 4)

It's that time again... let the guessing begin... name the original covers the following unpublished covers were intended for.


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