Tagged: Mark Wheatley


The Ruby Files Vol. 1 cover art: Mark Wheatley

New Pulp Publisher Airship 27 Productions has announced that Pulp Ark and Pulp Factory award nominated cover artist, Mark Wheatley will return as cover artist for the forthcoming The Ruby Files vol. 2.

Press Release:

Mark Wheatley, who crafted the beautiful cover for The Ruby Files vol. 1 has signed on to contribute a cover for the upcoming The Ruby Files vol. 2.

After announcing the news, Airship 27 publisher, Ron Fortier told All Pulp that, “Mark’s gorgeous cover on volume one has deservedly been nominated for the Pulp Factory Award for Best Pulp Cover of 2012.  So you can image how thrilled and honored we are at having him on board for this new book. He’s one of the most admired artist in the field today.”

Ruby Files co-creator, Sean Taylor also commented, “When I heard Mark Wheatley was back on board for another cover, I couldn’t believe it,” Taylor said. “I mean, let’s be honest, the stories may have really driven the book home for the first collection but what really, really attracted readers to the book in the first place was Mark’s cover. We couldn’t ask for better. Period.”

And Ruby Files co-creator, Bobby Nash added, “I’m thrilled to have Mark return to The Ruby Files. The cover to vol. 1 is great and really helped push the sales of the book. It’s a beautiful piece of art.”

On returning to The Ruby Files, Wheatley told All Pulp, “I’m looking forward to being inspired by more lurid, irresponsible, titillating, pulp-pounding action!”

The Ruby Files vol. 2 is coming soon from Airship 27 Productions with stories by Sean Taylor, Alan J. Porter, Ron Fortier, and Bobby Nash. Interior illustrations provided by Nick Poliwko under a cover by Mark Wheatley. Rob Davis returns as book designer.

Keep watching http://rickruby.blogspot.com for more The Ruby Files vol. 2 news as soon as it becomes available.

Marc Alan Fishman: The Top Five Best and Worst Of 2012

Good morning, good afternoon, or good evening, my ComicMixers! I hope you all had a merry Christmas, a sassy Chanukah, and grumpy Festivus if you were so inclined. So, with Father Time about to hit the retcon button on our daily calendars… I thought it would be apropos to reflect a bit on those amazing and terrible things that made my year. Please note: this isn’t ALL about comic books; you’ve been warned.

Because I like to start on a dour note… here’s The Worst!

5. Avengers Vs. X-Men Vs. My Sanity: Simply put, this stands up as yet-another-example of what makes me hate the mainstream comics business. No matter how many times they lather us up with “we’ve got the best talent on this”, “this will change everything”, and “you won’t believe what happens!”, they always end up the same. Bloated, predictable, and unending. Every Marvel event since the dawn of Brian Michael Bendis has finished up in deeper doo-doo than when they began. His boner for “shades of grey” is unnerving. We get it; making our favorite characters wail on one another is why we buy comics. But, hey… guess what? It isn’t. I’d much prefer a well thought out story that ends instead of a non-stop soap opera.

4. The 2012 Election: Not the result, mind you, but the unending nature of it all. For what felt like nearly the entire year, we were privy to 24 hours a day coverage of not only our POTUS but everyone vying for his seat. It brought out the worst in the candidates and the politically charged masses along for the ride. In the worst case, certain louder-than-usual politico-creators became so unnerving I was forced to hide them from my feeds. First world problems? You bet. But no less annoying on my life and times this year.

3. Wizard World Conventions: The movie definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. So Wizard World changes the guard on high. They attempt to make sweeping changes on the floors of their traveling circus, making D-List celebs the premier attraction. They continue to maintain the second highest per-show cost for visiting artists. In short? They continue to drive away the very thing that started them out so very long ago: comics and the people who make them. While my li’l studio always sells well at these abominations… rarely are we joined in celebration at the end of the cons. Hence, my finger of shame this year.

2. Green Lantern: Another finger of shame… a ring finger! Geoff Johns has taken Grant Morrison’s Five-Year Plan model and Michael Bay’ed it to death. As I’ve been forced to note several times this year, the continual event fatigue on the entire line –which shouldn’t even be a line – is too much to bear. And while the majority of 2012 was spent with Sinestro and his gal Friday Jordan traipsing around the universe righting wrongs… this Rise of the Third Army is the emerald icing on a sheet cake of excess. Too many McGuffins, too many predictable plots, and a brand-new Lantern who thus far is more a caricature of “not-a-terrorist” than a fleshed-out legacy ring-slinger. One I’ll happily predict will last in prominence half as long as the last not-ready-for-prime-time-player, Kyle “Costume Change” Rayner.

1. Comics News Coverage: Well it finally caught up to us too, didn’t it? CNN begat CNN, and from them spawned the 24-hour news cycle that has extended to comics. Between Newsarama, Bleeding Cool, Comic Book Resources, and others (hold your tongue for a second, please) all looking for an audience… We’re left scouring trash-bins and date books in order to report anything about our beloved industry. I waive the white flag. And now to those who think I hold this very site on the fire? Nay. ComicMix is about writers expressing their opinions, and that’s enough for me to remove us from said blaze. Simply put, the news is important, but the environment we’ve built to report and sustain it is sickening. Marvel, DC, and the like can’t sneeze without us finding out about it… and then creating a backlash over it before the press releases have hit an inbox. Enough is ‘nuff said.

And now… The Best:

5. The Dark Knight Rises: Three cheers for Christopher Nolan’s magnum opus. Yeah, I know… The Avengers was more fun. But it wasn’t close to TDKR’s level of sophistication. Neither movie was flawless, but Batman kept me on the edge of my seat pretty much the whole way through. The depiction of Bane was as good as it will ever be – menacing, big picture villainous thinking, and an actual brain amidst the brawn. But Bane wasn’t what made the movie. Bale’s Wayne was nuanced, angsty without being annoying, and above all else… visibly human. Nolan, in spite of Frank Miller and Grant Morrison showed that you don’t have to depict the God-Damned Batman to show the world a fantastic caped-crusader. Add in a brilliant turn for Selina Kyle, and it added up to one of my favorite flicks of the year. I would have put Django Unchained in this spot, but I haven’t seen it yet.

4. Marvel Now: If you read my reviews over at Michael Davis World (and I know you do…), then you’d know just how much I’m loving the House of Mouse these days. Fantastic Four / FF is proving thus far to balance the whimsy the series used to be known for with mature overtones. Iron Man, while nowhere near as good as Fraction’s run, is still entertaining. Superior Spider-Man has me legitimately interested in the wall-crawler again. Mike Gold has tried several times to recommend Captain America to me. My Unshaven Cohort is reading an X-Men book for the first time ever. And Avengers? Epic as I’d ever want it to be. Marvel looked at DC’s retcon-reboot-whatever, and opted instead to play it safe. Frankly, it’s proven to me that it was the right thing to do. Sales spikes or not. By choosing not to throw the baby out with the bathwater, Marvel is stealing me away one book at a time

3. The Baltimore Comic-Con: Unshaven Comics took the 13-hour drive to the East Coast, and boy howdy was it ever worth it. We sold an incredible amount of books. We rubbed elbows with industry giants at the Harvey Awards. We got to hand our book to Phil LaMarr. We had dinner with Mark Wheatley, Marc Hempel, Glenn Hauman, and Emily Whitten. And at that dinner? We had crab cakes as big as softballs. Frankly? It was a weekend of a lifetime. Such that we’ve already registered and purchased our table for 2013. It’s the most comic-book-centered convention we’ve been privy too. Charm City? Color me charmed.

2. Unshaven Comics’ Sales: Hate to get all self-promotional here, but screw it. Unshaven Comics had a simple goal. With no distribution, no investors, and nothing more than our blood-sweat-n-tears… we wanted to sell 1000 books over the course of a year. After attending a dozen shows, and doing our best work ever? We sold 1406. We made amazing connections, saw fans actually seek us out at shows, and gained over 300 Facebook fans without purchasing an ad or doing anything more than hustle. By hook or crook, we’re making the smallest impact known to man on the comic book industry. But I’ll be damned—it may actually be working. All it’s done is fuel our fire for 2013. 1,667 books moved next year will mean we see the shores of San Diego in 2014. Beards on.

1. Bennett Reed Fishman: Simply put, no other moment, comic book or otherwise, is worth a hill of beans in my world. On January 27th, 2012, I became a father. Ever since, every single thing I’ve done has been for the betterment of his life. Having been an ego-centered bearded ne’er-do-well for far too long, suddenly became moot. In his eyes and smile, the world around me means nothing. And when at 5:30 every day he stops whatever he’s doing, and smiles ear to ear when Batman: The Animated Series comes on? It tells me this kid is my kid. And my worldview is 100% different. Sorry, comics. You never stood a chance.

Happy New Year to all of you who read my articles week in and week out. May 2013 prove to be a safe, prosperous, and amazing year for you all.

SUNDAY: John Ostrander


Emily S. Whitten: Making Art and Words of Wisdom

It’s Friday night and I’m standing on the crowded floor of a packed concert with friends when suddenly, it hits me: the perfect little plot point to tie together two parts of the first storyline for the new comic I’m working on. Naturally I immediately have to make some notes before I forget the idea. Five minutes later I’m back to the show, but kind of wishing I could be in two places at once so I could enjoy the rest of the show and be working on the new idea at the same time. Too bad reality doesn’t work that way.

Instead, we all have our own little difficulties and stumbling blocks to get over when it comes to creating art – like procrastination, or writer’s block, or fear of failure, or what-have-you – and I’d just been hit by one of mine, which is definitely distraction. Or, to put a more positive spin on it, the way my brain seems to like multitasking all the time. Sometimes it can be a good thing – like when I haven’t worked on a story in a bit and suddenly an idea comes to me out of nowhere. But other times, the distractions come at all the wrong times, like when I’m in the middle of working on the story and something else comes along; or when I have a great idea but no good way to preserve it or to start working on it right away. (Thank goodness for the notepad-type apps on smartphones, at least, which have helped a little with that problem!)

Creating is a funny process. Sure, there are some universal fundamentals to it, but everyone does it differently. Some writers are prolific, while others take years to write one novel. Some comics artists want a detailed script from a writer, while others like a loose framework they can play with. Some people like to get feedback as they go; but others don’t want anyone else’s eyes on their work until they think it’s perfect.

No matter how different each person’s process may be, though, everyone has to face their own hurdles as they create, because, let’s face it – it’s not easy. Sure, sometimes it may feel easy – you’re barreling through a story or a page of art and everything is flowing out like it’s never going to stop; but then it does, or you get stuck on one paragraph or frame of artwork for a ridiculous amount of time; or you look up at your clock at three in the morning and wonder if everything you just made was terrible. Or maybe none of these things happen to you; but I guarantee something in your process feels like a struggle from time to time.

At times like that, I find it helps me to be painfully aware of my shortcomings, so that I can remind myself of ways to overcome them. The reminders may be deceptively simple – e.g. don’t get distracted; that other thing will still be there when you’ve run out of words to write about this idea; you need to stop doing everything else and get back to the story – but just by owning the flaws and actively calling my brain to attention to overcome them, I have a much easier time actually doing so.

I think this same concept can be applied all the way through the process – from the very beginnings of your creation through to the part where you’re hoping to share it with the world (presumably in a profitable way). And since all of us experience the process of creation and sharing that creation in different ways, I thought it would be neat to see what some successful folks in the comics industry might offer as their best advice for successful writing or making art; giving us a window into what these creators find most important to keep in mind throughout the process (or possibly what they’ve learned by overcoming their own challenges), and providing us with some helpful thoughts, reminders, or encouragements as we work on our own art.

Thanks to the handiness of Twitter, through which I solicited advice, these contributions are all coincidentally in the form of handy, bite-sized little mantras that we can memorize, put up on a Post-it somewhere, etc. as needed to help keep us all on track as we make good art amidst the busy whirlwind of life. So without further ado, here they are!

@VictorGischler: Know yourself. Look inward and identify in which direction your enthusiasm lies. Also coffee. Lots of coffee.

@GailSimone: No one looks back and says, “I wish I’d taken fewer chances.”

@Reilly_Brown: Have a clear goal in mind from the start. “Success” is if the audience gets your point.

@MikeSHenderson: Keep challenging your weaknesses, and never stop acting like a professional.

@AletheaKontis: My Best Advice = Shut Up & Write.

@FredVanLente: There can always be one more draft. Have fun. Be a good person before a good artist.

@Janet_K_Lee: Sit your butt in the chair is #1. #2 Be fearless. Always try to learn and try something new.

@PaoloMRivera: I always tell everyone to sculpt. As for writing, just make people care. That may not be advice, but that’s the goal.

@JimMcCann: Allow yourself to fail every once in a while. Then make it better. :)

@kabalounge (Georges Jeanty): Make sure you are telling the story and not just trying to show off your artistic skills.

@MOWheatley (Mark Wheatley): Write. Draw. Do it again. Do it a lot. Keep doing it. Do it some more. Then do it again.

@brubaker (Ed Brubaker): My advice would just be keep doing it. You can’t control success.

@BenMcCool: Work hard, often & with abundant passion. Also, resist urge to drunkenly hassle editors. [ESW note: This is very wise.]

@jpalmiotti (Jimmy Palmiotti): Don’t listen to others’ BS, and stay focused.

@DennisCalero: Write and draw as much as you can and take it seriously.

@SkottieYoung: Do it a lot then do it more after that. Then, you know, keeping doing it.

@jerhaun (Jeremy Haun): Honestly @skottieyoung has it right. It’s all about being the guy that just doesn’t quit.

@GeneHa: @skottieyoung Exactly. Dave Sim said everyone has approximately 10K bad drawings in them. Keep drawing until most are outta your system. Also look for people who draw things differently than you do. Why does it still work, or even work better?

@PatrickZircher: Marry money. [ESW note: Hee!] Also, read any interview in which a mature comic pro talks about the work itself.

@JeffParker: Keep it short, be extremely clear to the extreme. Directness is harder than it looks.

@PaulTobin: Don’t stop. Choose what you love, not what you think will sell.

Also, study what you love. Understand why. Give your voice freedom.

@DavidGallaher: Always keep making stuff.

@PeterDavid_PAD: Buy my book on the subject.

@JoeKellyMOA: Do what you do every day. Intentionally do bad drafts so you get to good ones. Know when to take a nap. Go out for inspiration.

@LForLloyd (David Lloyd): There are really good books recommended by professionals here, but practice makes perfect, too… : )

@JamalIgle: Be yourself. Cliché, I know, but I’ve had more success when I listened to my gut. Your voice is precious; hone it, shape it, no one can take it away from you.

@DeanHaspiel: Live. Love. Make. Don’t hate. Be true. Show up. Commune. Commit. Deliver. Repeat.

@ColleenCoover: Read comics from before you were born. Don’t keep trying to redo stuff if it’s not perfect. Learn from mistakes and move on.

@FrankTieri: Also, get used to hearing “no” a lot. Even after you break in.

Excellent words of advice from great creators, all of whom share their work and wisdom on Twitter (so I’ve provided their usernames in case anyone is wondering where to follow them). I hope you all find them as helpful as I do!

Thank you to everyone who contributed to this column, and until next time, Servo Lectio!




Mike Gold: Why I Didn’t Cold-Cock Walter Simonson

There’s been a lot of high-quality books lately that reprint classic stories straight from the original. My friends at IDW do a lot of those, so they’ll be deeply depressed that I’m not going to be talking about one of theirs. And of course there’s no reason to believe a comp list wouldn’t change my attitude.

Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear; in this case, about two months ago. We’re at the vaunted Baltimore Comic-Con – in specific, the Harvey Awards dinner. Walter Simonson had an advance copy of Titan Books’ hardcover collection of the Alien movie adaptation, as done by Walter and the late and much, much missed Archie Goodwin. This book was the exception that proved my point that doing an absolutely first-rate adaptation of a movie is a near-impossibility.

The needs and treasures of the comic book medium are different from those of the movie medium: we have total control of time and space and we’ve got a special effects budget that is limited only by the collective minds of the producing talent. Movies, on the other hand, have going for them music, motion and the benefit of the shared-experience. Apples and oranges.

The Goodwin-Simonson Alien was one of those rare exceptions; perhaps the best of those exceptions. Either way, it was and is worthy of this new high-quality format.

So when Walter was showing off his advance copy like a proud papa before an audience of some of the most talented people in the artform (Mark Wheatley snuck me in), I thought about doing what every other red-blooded comic book fan would think of doing: cold-cocking the son of a bitch, stealing his book, jumping into my Ford Focus and driving back to Connecticut, laughing hysterically while leaving my daughter to fend for herself.

I maneuvered into position in the darkened room, avoiding Louise Simonson. While I’d take Walter on, I do not have what it takes to take on any person who could be so gifted and so nice after working for James Warren. Then, and only then, did I have an epiphany.

I’ve known Walter for decades and decades. We lived near each other on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, we played on the same volleyball team. We’ve dined hither and yon – he once drew a massive prehistoric landscape on the linen tablecloth at a Skokie Illinois restaurant in order to “illustrate” a point. I respect and admire Walter as one of the nicest human beings on the planet… with the exception of the volleyball courts.

But that’s not why I didn’t cold-cock Walter Simonson. Clearly I’ve gotten old, an aging lion gumming his dinner in the corner of the cage while the younguns are preening themselves for pussy.

No, I didn’t cold-cock him because I remembered I already ordered the book. So stealing his simply wasn’t worth the energy.

But it was worth the wait. Buy it before it sells out.

Alien : The Illustrated Story (Original Art Edition) by Archie Goodwin and Walter Simonson • Titan Books • 96 oversized pages • $75.00 retail

THURSDAY: Dennis O’Neil, who’s also a very nice guy



Marc Alan Fishman: Everything We Do, We Do It For You

Thank you, Bryan Adams. See? More than one good thing has come out of Canada that isn’t Wolverine related. Add that to the Barenaked Ladies, good maple syrup, and Mike Meyers’ middle career, and you’ve got one great country! But I digress. I want to come back to a topic I’ve droned on about several times: the continuing story of Unshaven Comics by way of an increasing number of convention appearances.

This past weekend we had a delightful time at what we’d consider to be the best single day convention in the Midwest – the Kokomo Con, in mid-Indiana. And it was here, amidst the moderately sized crowd of fans making their way around the convention center we were privy to my favorite part of being in this business – fans. In the five or so years I’ve been toiling over scripts, pages, websites, and social media groups, nothing has felt better than having someone walk towards our table with an ear to ear smile. “Hey! You guys! I remember you from last year. Got anything new?” Heck, even typing that makes me a little giddy.

For some of the more legendary folks here with whom I share column space, it must be a far different feeling. To be clear, I don’t know if Dennis, John, Mike, or Michael have ever been on the side of the table as Unshaven has. I know they’ve obviously all had booths or artist alley tables, mind you. But I’d be remiss to guess if they ever were the ones chasing the tables, instead of being offered them. For Unshaven, the way into the industry is by hook or crook. We’ve got fiction to hawk, damnit. And for the time being? We’re not established. Our fans are few, but mighty. For a Dennis O’Neil or John Ostrander… they merely plop themselves into a chair and let the masses come to them, and rightfully so. In contrast, Unshaven Comics has cut its teeth with a generation of comic fans I dare say are more finicky, diverse, and uneasy to please repeatedly.

The show runner at Kokomo stopped by our table several times to make sure we were doing well. We were happy to relate every time that we were pleased as punch. By the end of the day, we’d increased our book sales by 20% over the year before. And given that attendance was slightly down from the year prior? This was an even more reassuring notion for our wee little team. To that effort, he quickly quipped “You guys could make a panel for artists to tell them how to be successful at cons!” Truth be told? I’ve detailed our crazy tactics before in my previous con-centric articles. What we do isn’t hard. It’s a bit shameless. But then again, our model for business was Stan Lee, and he certainly has made a living (or two) by never denying his inner huckster.

My greater point here though is this: Beyond any salesmanship we may employ at our table, beyond any marketing and networking we do, beyond any artistic fan-service we whore ourselves out for, what makes us successful comes down to one common denominator: a quality product that connects with fans. If we made bad books, no amount of smiling and pitching would show us increasing sales 10-20% every time we return to a convention. With the blistering amount of competition there is in artist alleys around the country, it’s a badge of pride when someone comes back time and again to see you. Especially when it’s with money-in-hand.

Thanks largely to my day job, I’ve been privy to a ton of extra-curricular reading (non-comic reading, boo) about start-ups. After careful consideration, it’s become obvious to me that my own studio is in fact just that. As a slow moving startup, we’ve done everything to keep costs down, while testing our product in the market. In layman terms? We don’t pay ourselves for the all the time we dedicate to making the books, we stay at cheap hotels, and only pay for dinner when Mark Wheatley, Mike Gold, John Ostrander or Glenn Hauman  say to. And with each subsequent release, we’ve managed our risk by truly listening to our fans. After our first book (horror) and our second (rated R super-hero fare), we tried the all ages genre. And, as you read a week or two ago, the fans responded happily. And now, after several one-shots, we’re dipping our toes into mini-series waters.

And if the fans continue to be happy, return in droves, and help define a following for our beardly wares, we just might end up going whole-hog and doing an on-going series. We do what we do because of the fans. When they react positively to what we put on the page, it tells us that we share a bond not only in collective fandom… but it cements to us that our commitment to craft leads to more than a single purchase and lament.

It leads to a relationship between a fan and a creator. It leads to us one day being invited to the convention instead of chasing after it. And rest assured, no matter how we come to the con, we’ll continue to do what we always do – earning one fan at a time, until the convention hall closes.

SUNDAY: John Ostrander’s Alphas!



Art: Rob Moran

Art: Mark Wheatley

Star of Airship 27 Productions’ The Ruby Files, pulp p.i. Richard “Rick” Ruby took some time out of his hectic caseload to answer another reader’s question.

Sweet Thing in New York wants to know if Rick ever plans to settle down and get married?

Read Rick’s response at http://rickruby.blogspot.com/2012/10/rick-ruby-takes-your-questions-2.html

Want Rick to answer one of your questions? Leave a comment at Belle’s online.

THE RUBY FILES VOL. 1 is still available for purchase at any of the following booksellers:
Createspace paperback
Amazon paperback
Indy Planet paperback
Airship 27 Hangar ebook

The Ruby Files created by Bobby Nash and Sean Taylor.

The Ruby Files returns in 2013.

Review: Aces Weekly – Today’s Newest Future

I like anthology comics. For one thing, that’s how the comic book medium started – single-character comics didn’t really start until about six years down the road. For another, the anthology format reinvented comics with 2000AD back in the mid-1970s. Today, the anthology format is all but gone, with the notable – and highly laudable – exception of Dark Horse Presents, Creator-Owned Comics and a handful of others.

I like electronic publishing in general and electronic comics publishing in specific. I am a well-known advocate of the movement, at least in my own mind. Well before e-comics became real, I had a debate with my pal and oft-time co-conspirator Mark Wheatley, one of the most innovative and hardest-working people in the known universe. Mark advocated the potential of e-comics expanding the medium by incorporating effects that would move the medium past the boundaries imposed by print. Whereas I agreed with that position, I maintained that such additions move comic books into… something else. Not bad, not good – that depends on content. But nonetheless… something else.

Since then we’ve had various and sundry incursions into the multimedia comics world, the best known being “motion comics.” Interesting, but short of scintillating. But this is a nascent form in need of development, innovation and coddling.

Then my pal David Lloyd (Kickback, Night Raven, Doctor Who, V For Vendetta, Espers, Hellblazer, Wasteland … jeez, this guy has done a lot and, yeah, I’ve got a lot of pals who make great comics; what of it?) decided to combine the anthology concept of the past with the computer magic of an hour-and-a-half ago.

And by “an hour-and-a-half ago,” I mean that almost literally. His new title, Aces Weekly, debuted yesterday.

You’ve probably read about it in all sorts of places. I was lucky enough to get a head’s-up during last month’s Baltimore Comic-Con; Mark Wheatley showed me the first hundred pages of “Return Of The Human,” the series he’s doing with may pal (yeah, yeah) J.C. Vaughn. And I was left panting.

In addition to David, Mark and J.C., Aces Weekly offers us the talent of (take a deep breath) Kyle Baker, David Hitchcock, Herb Trimpe, David Leach, Billy Tucci, Bill Sienkiewicz, Marc Hempel, James Hudnall, Steve Bissette, Val Mayerick, Henry Flint, Dan Christensen, Dave Hine, Colleen Doran, and a lot of others of similar high caliber. No, not all are in the first issue: it’s a weekly, and as one story ends another begins, and the talent recovers.

Aces Weekly costs $9.99 per seven-issue subscription – the anthology is published in seven issue “volumes,” which is a clever idea. It’s online-only, all the material is original, and once you buy it you can read it wherever and whenever you have web access. It’s all creator-owned and, evidently, creators aren’t overly burdened by control-freak editors like me.

Check it out at www.acesweekly.co.uk. No matter how cynical you may be, have your credit card ready.

Oh, yeah. It says up there in the headline “review,” so here’s my review:

I’m jealous as hell.


Marc Alan Fishman: BaltiMORE!

Yeah, I know. The illustrious Mike Gold has already written at length as to why the Baltimore Comic-Con is an amazing experience. But Mike’s career in comics is older than I am. I had thought, for only a second, that maybe I should just move on and try another column to piss people off. But here I sit, and man, I still can’t stop smiling. So, screw it, you’re gonna hear (again) about the Baltimore Comic-Con. Maybe you’ll get a different perspective. This was my first trip to the Charm City, and I think Mike may have underplayed just how awesome this shindig is. Oh Baltimore Comic-Con, how do I love thee… Let me count the ways.

As many here have read my recent tirades about the Wizard Conventions may know… I have been seriously duped. I was raised on a convention where I honestly believed that in order to make it successful, one needed the publishers (especially the big ones) to anchor the show. How wrong I truly was! BCC was a show where the publishers were truly secondary to the main draw – the creators. In one of several walks I took away from our own table, I realized I was feet away from a litany of personal heroes. Brian Bolland, Cliff Chiang, J.G. Jones, and Gene Ha only to name a few. And while there were publishers there, they were in non-monstrosities that made them feel a “part” of the show, not the driving force behind it. The driving force truly was the community of creators. And given that I was amongst them? It was one of the few times in my five years as one I felt comfortable owning the term.

Far cooler though was the chance to truly “meet” Mark Wheatley, Marc Hempel, and ComicMix’s Emily S. Whitten. Over an amazing dinner (joined by my amazing friends/Samurnauts Erik and Cherise Anderson, Unshaven Sales Machine Kyle, and the always tall Glenn Hauman) we swapped stories, histories, personal politics, jokes, and more. And sure the crab cake was some kind of life altering experience… but just the chance to be at that dinner table in the suburbs of Maryland was some kind of amazing that I’ll be chasing for years to come. I know this is not an experience one gets simply by being at this con… but this was one perk of writing for this site that certainly is continuing to pay off in spades – even if it’s in food and stories alone.

As Mike already mentioned, the show was the perfect length. No “preview night” to force an extra day’s parking money out of the creators… just a packed weekend of festivities. It was almost as if the show runners knew that the creators who got into town early might find one another prior, and take the responsibility themselves to find a good time in the city. Preposterous!

What Mike didn’t mention (mainly because he wasn’t there to sell…) was the positively unending crowd. For two days the traffic at the show was never sparse. Our booth was literally in the last aisle of the convention center, and there was rarely a time where there wasn’t a nice gaggle of comic fans walking past our table. Unshaven Comics walked into the con with a “it’d sure be nice” goal of 150 books over two days. On Saturday alone, we netted a personal record: 137 books sold. And Sunday helped us tip the total to over 200. That makes me beyond proud to announce with three more conventions still left on our schedule, we met our years’ goal of 1000 books sold. For three guys making books in their basement, selling only on the convention floor? I’d say Baltimore put the icing on a cake made of success.

And how about those Harvey Awards? Well, all points from earlier in the week stand true: We were in awe in attendance of living legends. Phil LaMarr was an amazingly hilarious host who proved that beneath all the funny was a legit fan. Ross Ritchie proved that beyond the Gutters’ continual assault on his character, he’s a humble and very passionate man. His call to action only cemented further Unshaven Comics’ love of the medium. And hey, the 30-pound gift bag they let us leave with was nothing short of super. It’s more than possible that it will take an entire career for me to get one, but mark my words: Unshaven Comics will take home a Harvey before we retire our pencils and Wacoms.

Suffice to say, the Baltimore Comic-Con showed me exactly what Wizard is missing in it’s conventions: comic book creators. We’re not a sideshow or a footnote to be hidden on the con floor. We’re the reason this industry exists – from the billion dollar movies we create to the never-ending stream of ideas. The BCC knows how to elevate and celebrate this fact.

As a creator and as a fan, I was (and am) awestruck at what I was witness to this past weekend. And sure it took a twelve-hour car trip to get there, but it was truly a small price to pay for a head full of memories I’ll be hard-pressed to replace…

Until next year.

SUNDAY: John Ostrander

Mike Gold: The Baltimore Fun

I like comic book conventions, although I’ve been pretty hard on them lately. These days most conventions have little to do with comic books. They have a lot to do with pop culture and celebrities and movies and autographs and promotion, but over the past decade or two comic books have become the ugly stepchildren within their own temples.

Except for a handful. Mid-Ohio Con has been consumed by the dreaded Wizard ogre; that one used to be a favorite. HeroesCon in North Carolina is high on my list of the exceptional; I wish I could get there each year. There are plenty of great small shows, usually held in hotels and attracting people from about a 200 mile radius, if the weather is agreeable. And, as I’ve incessantly proselytized to the annoyance of thousands, my absolute favorite: the Baltimore Comic-Con.

First and foremost, the Baltimore Comic-Con is about comic books. The panels are about comic books. The exhibitors are about comic books. The awards ceremony is about comic books. In short, it is a comic book convention.

Second, it’s only two days: Saturday and Sunday. The burnout rate is low and people tend not to leave as early on Sundays. You can get as much done in those two days as you can elsewhere in three… or four. Third, the staff is well-trained, efficient, and so damn polite if you’re from New York your skin just might peel off in strips.

I’m happy to say I’ve got a hell of a lot of friends who go there. It’s one of the few shows Timothy Truman attends. Mark and Carol Wheatley both put me up and put up with me year after year; my daughter and ComicMix comrade Adriane Nash gets to stay in Mark’s breathtaking library and studio. Marc Hempel joins us at the Insight Studios booth. Great folks like Gene Ha, Brian Bolland, Amy Chu, Andrew Pepoy, Denis Kitchen, Jack C. Harris, Walter and Louise Simonson, Joe Rubenstein, Larry Hama, Matt Wagner, John K. Snyder III … we don’t have the bandwidth to name a tenth of the people I hang out with at the show. Even the (fairly) recently liberated Paul Levitz showed up as a freelancer.

Better still, the ambiance of the Baltimore Comic-Con allows me to make new friends, something that’s almost impossible to do at the largest shows like San Diego, New York, and Chicago. This year I was exceptionally lucky, spending memorable time with Phil LaMarr and Ross Richie.

ComicMix was there in full-force: Vinnie Bartilucci, Glenn Hauman, the aforementioned Adriane Nash, Emily S. Whitten, and the non-alphabetical Marc Alan Fishman – who was there with the rest of the Unshaven Comics crew, Matt Wright, and Kyle Gnepper, where they managed to sell out of their excellent indy comic, Samurnauts.

Probably the highlight of the Baltimore show each year is the Harvey Awards dinner, and this year was no exception. Phil LaMarr served as master of ceremonies, keeping the three and one-half hour show moving while keeping the audience in stiches, Ross Richie delivered an inspiring keynote address, and as usual Paul McSpadden did his usual amazing job coordinating the whole event.

The Hero Initiative honored Joe Kubert with its Humanitarian of the Year award – a decision made before Joe’s passing last month – and Dr. Kevin Brogan delivered a moving tribute to the late cartoonist and educator. As it turns out, Joe left us one more graphic novel. Their annual Lifetime Achievement Award went to John Romita Jr., in a presentation made by the team of Stan Lee and John Romita Sr.

I particularly enjoyed seeing Marc, Kyle and Matt there for the first time – being sequestered in that room with most of the above-mentioned folks as well as with Stan Lee, John Romita Sr. and Jr., Mark Waid and so many others seemed like a heady experience for our pals, who, I think it’s safe to say, were in fanboy heaven. Pretty damn cool. I’m proud to say our own Glenn Hauman helped in the IT end of things, and ComicMix joined Insight Studios, DC Entertainment, Boom!, Comixology, Richmond Comix and Games, ComicWow!, Painted Visions, Bloop, Captain Blue Hen, Cards Comics and Collectibles, and Geppi’s Entertainment Museum as sponsors.

And I managed to sign up a new columnist for this site. I mentioned the name above somewhere (good hunting), and this person will start out as soon as we iron out scheduling issues and the usual start-up stuff. I’m very excited about this, and you will be too when you read this person’s stuff.

We also went apeshit covering the cosplay scene. Adriane posted about 100,000 pictures on our ComicMix Facebook page, all to the obvious enjoyment of the masses. We’ll be expanding our cosplay coverage considerably, while at the same time polishing our alliteration.

On behalf of the whole ComicMix crew, I want to deeply thank Marc Nathan and Brad Tree for once again putting on the best show in comics, and to thank my dearest of friends Mark and Carol Wheatley for being our personal sponsors. We-all had a great time!

THURSDAY: Dennis O’Neil


Emily S. Whitten: In Pursuit of Lunch

O.K. This is the wiseass editor typing. Emily’s not here today.

Something about near-complete exhaustion from something called “work.”

Do not fret. Emily will be back next week, no doubt because we’ll hire Deadpool to either find her or ghost her column.

And Emily will be at the Baltimore Comic-Con  September 8th and 9th, joining fellow ComicMixers Marc Alan Fishman, Glenn Hauman, Adriane Nash, and Mike Gold (who always enjoys writing about himself in the third person), and artistic ComicMixers Timothy Truman, Mark Wheatley, Andrew Pepoy, Robert Tinnell and Marc Hempel. We’ll mostly be terrorizing the masses at the Insight Studios booth and at the Unshaven Comics booth.

Yes, I just used poor Emily’s exhaustion to plug a comics convention. Any port in a storm.

‘Till then, caveat emptor!