Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Deus ex Comica Goes to College

I’ve known Mark close to 35 years now, somehow always managing to keep in touch as life has taken us in various directions. If you’ve read Deus ex Comica, you know Mark and I shared a love of comic books as kids – discovering fantastic characters inhabiting these alternate universes, reading them at campsites together while with our families in the summer, and basing adventures with our G.I. Joe action figures on the Marvel Comics stories we devoured.

Mark is now an Assistant Professor of English at George Mason University, and he has been trying to come up with a way to get me on campus to speak to his ENGL 493: Graphic Novels class since I published Deus ex Comica earlier this year. The university’s Fall for the Book Festival has finally provided that opportunity. So now one of the Fall for the Book events is my visit with Mark’s class! My talk will be during that class’ regular scheduled time, Tuesday, September 22, at 3:00pm, but will be held in Grand Tier III inside the Center for the Arts on the Fairfax campus, and it will be open to the public.

The Fall for the Book Festival is an annual event in the Northern Virginia, D.C., and Maryland area that is now going on its 11th year. Headlining the week of author talks and special programs this year are E.L. Doctorow and Sherman Alexie, but it looks like there’s a little something on the schedule for everyone... from poets to novelists to children’s writers, to talks on the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall to the Obama presidency to writing and publishing in the 21st century. Good stuff all around, and I am honored to have been invited to participate in this great event!

I’m still putting my talk together, but I plan to touch on subjects like my love of comics, my rediscovery of the medium as an adult and par
ent, how I consume comics now versus as a young teenager, the writing process, and the self-publishing experience. So if you’ll be in or around the area next month, please consider coming out to the festival, sitting in on my talk, and joining the conversation!


What: Deus ex Comica Fall for the Book Festival Author Talk

When: 3pm, Tuesday, September 22

Where: Grand Tier III, Center for the Arts, George Mason University

Cost: Free and Open to the Public

Monday, August 17, 2009

Marvel Unbound - Summer Hodge-Podge

So it's been a while since I've written a Marvel Unbound, but I haven't stopped reading those Marvel collected editions we all know and love (well, love to varying degrees, as you're about to read). There have definitely been some hits and misses among the books I've been reading. I'll try to keep the complaining to a minimum and focus primarily on the good stuff in this capsule edition of Marvel Unbound.

First up, Ms. Marvel. I picked up the first three
trade paperbacks from TFAW's nick & dent sale a while back and ripped through these slim volumes at a really fast clip. I'd had my eye on the series from reading Bendis' run on Mighty Avengers, and Brian Reed does a great job bringing this character back to the forefront of the Marvel Universe with solid, entertaining stories. The bulk of the art is handled by Roberto de la Torre, who gives the title character just enough cheesecake factor to keep you coming back, and Chris Sotomayor’s colors simply pop off the page. This was a fun series of books, and I’m definitely planning on picking up the subsequent three volumes that collect Ms. Marvel’s saga up until the title character is taken over by a Dark Reign replacement.

Next, we have two volumes of Mini Marvels: Rock, Paper, Scissors and Secret Invasion. I don't think I know anyone who has an unkind word to say about Chris Giarrusso's work. Between the two, I’d say I enjoyed Rock, Paper, Scissors better than Secret Invasion, but it was all good. It's light, fun and perfect for every fan of any age. And these two digest-sized collections are perfect for introducing little minds to the big world of the Marvel Universe. My kiddo still brings up jokes from these stories with giggling laughter. I'm tempted to make a day trip down to the Mid-Ohio Con this year just so the kiddo and I can meet Mr. Giarrusso, shake his hand, and thank him for the entertainment.

Civil War: Heroes for Hire and Civil War: X-Men. Wow. These were both incredibly bad. Read both of them over the course of a couple days (the X-Men in one sitting). Slight, inconsequential, painful to read. These two books are perfect examples of what’s wrong with forced event tie-ins. Avoid these.

It's no secret I'm not an Ultimate Universe guy. I read the first couple Ultimates trades and it just wasn't my cup o' Marvel tea, but my love of Bendis' work prompted me to pick up the Ultimate Spider-Man: Ultimate Collection, Volume 1, collecting the first 13 issues of that title. I guess I'm just not the target audience for this line (or I'm terribly unhip), because tedious is probably the best way to describe the book. It felt like it was trying way too hard to be cool and it felt dated (especially Aunt May). Not sure where else to turn to give the Ultimate Universe a try, I mean, I figured if anyone could get me into it Bendis would be the guy.

In an effort to wrap things up on a positive note, let’s talk New Mutants Classic, Volume 3, which is the Bill Sienkiewicz run with Claremont. Three words: Demon Bear Saga. Loved revisiting this trippy storyline and gorgeous art. This is the era I was reading New Mutants full-on, which always makes the rereading that much more fun because you're reliving a bit of your childhood as you're flipping through the pages. Great appearances by Magneto, Cloak and Dagger, and a beautifully rendered Nightcrawler add to the great things about this volume. Along with Dani’s Demon Bear Saga, we also get a fairy tale featuring Rahne, a rock fable starring Sam, and gorgeous Sienkiewicz pinups of each of the New Mutants. Good stuff all around.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Chicago: The Con (Part 4)

Over the duration of the Chicago Comic-Con, we watched chalk artist Eric Maruscak recreate Carlos Pacheco’s Ultimate Avengers cover of Wizard #213 (which was also used for the cover of the convention program) as a giant 9 foot by 12 foot mural on the floor in the lobby of the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center. Apparently, Maruscak has done this at ten other Wizard shows, four of them being at the Chicago venue. This one took him around 20 hours to complete once the image was sketched out during the first four hours of Thursday’s preview night. It was pretty amazing to watch the mural evolve over the course of the weekend, and we enjoyed tracking its progress each time we entered and left the building.