Thursday, April 22, 2010

Deus ex Comica: The Eight Day Tour

Busy week or so on the horizon for Deus ex Comica...

Last weekend’s C2E2 experience (or lack thereof!) has me really jazzed for the Pittsburgh Comicon this Saturday. Although I don’t have a table at the show, I am scheduled to be on the “How to Get Published” panel in Room 3 at 2pm. It should be fun to chat about the book, as well as get a chance to visit with friends.

Next Thursday, April 29, I’ll be talking about and reading selections from Deus ex Comica at the Nordonia Hills Branch of the Akron-Summit County Public Library as a part of their Meet the Author series. That kicks off at 7pm and will be followed by a question and answer session.

Then on that Saturday, May 01, I will be in Willoughby signing copies of Deus ex Comica and visiting with other comic book fans as a part of Comic Heaven’s Free Comic Book Day celebration! I’ll be there from 12-3, but the fun lasts all day, with a store sale planned, along with various super heroes and Star Wars characters (I hear there will be biker scouts!) all in attendance.

I'll have copies of Deus ex Comica: The Rebirth of a Comic Book Fan with me at all these appearances for anyone interested. I appreciate everyone who supported me and my little book over the last year. If you’re around for any of these events, please feel free to stop by and say “hello.” It’s always great to meet and hang out with other comic fans!
  • April 24, 2pm-3pm: "How to Get Published" (Room 3), Pittsburgh Comicon, Monroeville Convention Center, 209 Mall Boulevard, Monroeville, Pennsylvania
  • April 29, 7pm-8pm: Nordonia Hills Branch (ASCPL), 9458 Old Eight Road, Northfield (330.467.8595)
  • May 01 (Free Comic Book Day!), 12pm-3pm: Comic Heaven, 4847 Robinhood, Willoughby (440.942.6960)
If you're unable to attend any of these events but would still like to pick up a copy of Deus ex Comica, Lulu is offering free shipping on the book with the use of coupon code FREEMAIL305, now through May 01. And, as always, the book is available through Amazon and signed copies are available direct from me. Thank you, again, to everyone for your support!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Adam & Jeff's '80s Alternative Rewind Adventure Continues

The Church
17 April 2010: The Winchester Tavern and Music Hall, Lakewood, Ohio

I decided to run myself hard these last few nights. I was in Chicago on business and was able to hang out with a bunch of friends in town for C2E2, then I flew home Saturday afternoon to make it to The Church’s show at the Winchester in Cleveland suburb of Lakewood that night with my friends Jeff and Anna.

My flight landed in Cleveland around 4:30, allowing me just enough time to retrieve my car, grab a quick bite to eat, call Tracy and the kiddo to say "hello," and get my tired body over to Jeff and Anna’s place in time to head up for a pre-show beverage and then the show. None of us had ever been to The Winchester before, in fact, I’d never heard of the place until I found out The Church would be playing ther
e. We found the place just fine, though, and were early enough to head down the street to Sullivan’s for a pint, then to The Winchester for the show.

Now, the last time Jeff and I attended a show, it did not end well. So there was a certain level of trepidation heading into the night. However, the Winchester’s music hall was like the Phantasy Theater for grown-ups, and the atmosphere was exactly what you’d expect for a mellow ’80s alternative band going on 30 years since their first album release. But what was unexpected was the quality of everything that went into the evening.

When we entered the hall, we were each handed a glossy 28-page full-color program, a five-song EP, and a truly unique concert experience. For this show, a part of the “An Intimate Space” 30th Anniversary Acoustic Tour, Steve Kilbey, Peter Koppes, Marty Wilson-Piper, and Tim Powles performed one song from each of their albums in reverse chronological order. So things opened with “Pangaea” from 2009’s Untitled #23 and ended with “Take It All Away” off the band’s self-titled album from 1981. In between, the band played some incredible music, supplemented by between-song banter that ranged from insightful back story on the next song or album the song was from to amusing anecdotes of the era to bad puns and jokes.

An early misstep was “Reptile” – one of my favorite tracks off the incredible Starfish album reworked for El Momento Siguiente with a jazz influence, but the biggest disappointment of the night was the Spanish revision to Gold Afternoon Fix’s “Metropolis”. Those two classic songs felt brutalized in the attempt to make them sound fresher. Happily, though, everything else was really good. I’m not familiar with much of the band’s more recent stuff, but first set offerings like “Invisible”, a country flavored “Louisiana”, and “Comedown” were excellent.

After the first nine songs, the band took a fifteen minute intermission before returning to effortlessly move through the classics. “Under the Milky Way”, the Beatles-esque “Already Yesterday”, “Almost With You”... every one of them were standouts! This was followed by three songs spread over two encores where they were finally able to break their own self-imposed rules about what could be played that night. While it wasn’t surprising that they were going to play it (news travels quickly on the interwebs if you know what you’re looking for), that didn’t affect how surprisingly powerful their cover of the Smashing Pumpkins’ “Disarm” was in execution. Spot on, and rocking hard, I never would have guessed The Church could deliver on a song like that. And the show closer, “Grind” from Gold Afternoon Fix almost made up for the transgressions on “Metropolis”.

Much like the Pretenders’ gig last year, The Church show afforded me the opportunity to meet another online friend in-person: Matt Wardlaw. A young guy with an old soul (musically speaking), he runs the most excellent Cleveland-based music blog, Addicted to Vinyl. We’ve corresponded and follow one another on Twitter, but it’s always great to put a face to a name, and I’m glad we finally had the opportunity to meet.

It was an impressive two-and-a-half hours of music, and Kilbey’s voice sounded exactly like it did 20 years earlier. Equally impressive was the night’s concept and the peripheral incentives we received. That a band like The Church could produce a full-color concert program, without any advertising, that provided insight on each of their albums and give it away with an EP says something about where the concert-going experience should be heading. Let’s hope other bands will follow their lead.

Monday, April 19, 2010

C2E2: The Non-Con Report

My job regularly takes me to Chicago these days, and it just so happens that I had to be in town last week when C2E2 was scheduled. It has almost become cliché among comic book convention goers (but that doesn’t make it any less true) that the best part about “con season” is meeting in-person and getting to hang out with all our online forum friends that we only get to see at these shows. So I decided to put it to the test last week.

Many of my online comic book friends are actually local to Chicago, so I knew they’d be fired up for C2E2. I also knew a few of my out-of-town friends would be coming in town early. Knowing I wasn’t going to be able to attend the con itself because of work and travel plans, I redoubled my efforts to get out Thursday and Friday night with my comic brethren.

I had a great time out both nights with friends I had met previously, folks I had been looking forward to meeting, and people I had no idea I’d be spending time with! It was great to see Dave Mathis, Chris Neseman, and (unfortunately far too briefly) Zack Kruse Thursday night. And I finally was able to meet David Price and Jason Wood in person, and also met Will Pfeifer, Tom Fowler, Conor Kilpatrick, Ian Levenstein, and Brion Salazar (who I’d met briefly last year at Wizard World Chicago). There was good, if tardy, bar-b-q from Honky Tonk and a crazy-amusing cab ride from the restaurant to the Challengers party with an ever-entertaining and very drunk Chris.
And you haven't truly felt vertically challenged until you've waited for a cab on a street corner standing between Dave Mathis and Tom Fowler.

After work Friday I was able to meet up with the guys in time for dinner again, this time at Spring World in Chinatown. David, Wood, Will, Tom, and Sal were there, along with Vince Bonavoglia, Hilary Barta, and others. Hilary, a Chicagoan and familiar with the restaurant, took care of ordering, and soon one delicious dish of food after another was brought to the table for a comic geek family style dinner.

I didn’t have a lot of time to chat with David or Wood the night before, so I made a point of making time for them Friday night. Wood and I ended up next to each other at dinner and had a nice time chatting about everything from family to comics. It was great getting to know him better and hanging out. On the other side of me at dinner was Will. We were introduced to each other the night before at Honky Tonk, but didn’t have an opportunity to chat. During the course of dinner at Spring World, we realized we’re both from Northeast Ohio (he now lives outside of Chicago). Really nice guy, and I’m looking forward to getting together with him next time he’s back home visiting.

When I think back to the origins of my book Deus ex Comica: The Rebirth of a Comic Book Fan, I have to lay a lot of credit at David’s feet. If it hadn’t been for his encouragement of the project and the way he welcomed me into the Marvel Noise online community, I don’t know if the book would exist as it does today. That’s what made the time we spent hanging out later Friday night at Kroll’s, where the Marvel party was being held, so special. We have spoken on the phone and emailed for years, but this was the first time David and I were in the same city at the same time.

It was interesting to be in Chicago, a city I have loved for years, and have my mutually exclusive worlds of work and comics collide. A few weeks ago, I was sitting in an all-day session at work, and on a break one of my co-workers said she was perusing Amazon and found a book written by someone with the same name as me. She asked if I wrote it. For the life of me, I can’t imagine what this woman would have been searching for that might have led her to my book, but it is always surprising to me when someone who either I don’t know personally or someone who I know who doesn’t know about my comic book enthusiasm approaches me.

When I was growing up, I had one friend who I shared my comic book habit with (and I’m fortunate that Mark and I are still friends to this day), but outside of that friendship comics were very much a solitary pleasure. I didn’t get to see everyone I wanted to while in town for C2E2 – I only got to say hello to Steve Bryant briefly outside of Spring World, and I never did connect with Chris Marshall, Scott Cederlund, Ryan Closs, Michael Moskop, or Rick Hansen among others, but that’s simply more incentive to attend future cons.

Would I have liked to have been able to attend the con itself? Sure. But being able to get together with friends really is what it’s all about. I know the internet spawns a lot of garbage and in niche communities there can be a lot of rotten apples spoiling the reputation (and fun) of an entire population, but on the other side of that coin is the way the web can bring together a group of geographically remote friends over the passion of a shared pastime.