The Adventures of Sgt. Shark!

Matt and I are both big, BIG lovers of comic ads.  I mean, if you can’t appreciate the sheer lunacy of those classic Hostess ads where Big Time Hero defeats Never-Again-Seen Villain by exploiting their fried pie weakness the we are just not on the same page!.  Not to mention all those O.J. Dingo ads!

But I recently decided to give in and read The Great Darkness Saga, and I found this masterpiece in Legion of Superheroes #291:

That’s right, it’s a story about a regular rough-and-tumble dude JUST LIKE YOU (and his one-eyed parrot, of course,) who uses his bro-tastic shark tooth pendant to PUNCH A SHARK AND REDIRECT A SUBMARINE!

Friends, my $5.95 is already on it’s way to Florida.

Aurora Rise

We haven’t discussed the Aurora theater tragedy here, but it was one of those events that was just too raw and literally close-to-home for me to discuss appropriately.  While I have no more clarity or insight now than I did a month, there IS something related to the event that cannot get enough press: All C’s Collectible’s Aurora Rises event this weekend.  All C’s has put together an incredible benefit, assembling a signing with Mike Mignola, Matt Fraction, and Steve Niles on two days, a silent auction featuring original art and much more, and almost certainly more once the event If you’re in the Greater Denver area, PLEASE show your support and drop by to help raise funds for the shooting victims.  For more details,  please check out their Facebook Event or Twitter feed.

Quarter Bin Treasure Chest

One of my favorite things about cons is back-issue diving.  And one of my favorite things about that is discovering insane old Silver Age books.  I thought I’d share a few I found at Denver Comic Con.  None of these were a quarter, but they were all under $2.

I’ve never read a Blackhawk comic before, but that’s just Silver Age madness!

The superhero boom is obviously upon us!

I thought this was the same character from our, but I was mistaken.

A note from the editor right on the cover? Always a good sign.

I don’t have to explain why this is awesome, right? It’s Superman and he Guardians!

It gets even crazier when Hitler shows up! Oh damn, I ruined it.

Giant robot? Check. Creepy old-school sci-fi name? Double-check.

.

Secret identity hijinx!

DAMN, Emma Frost!

I’m glad the days of Fredrick Wertham are behind us, where paranoids found dirty drawings in every nook and cranny.  And I really have no problem with the realism in comic art today, where artists take it to draw every zipper and seam in a costume (or uniform, if you’d prefer).

But I was reading Uncanny X-Men #534.1 and came across this panel…

…and I can’t help but think that’s no seam.  I have no idea how this made it into a Marvel comic.

You Should Be Reading: Hark! A Vagrant

I’m pretty bad about reading webcomics.  Sure, I know they’re the big new thing, but with so much other stuff to keep track of online they wind up on the bottom of my surfing pile.  Ironically, I tend to pick them up when the print collections come out because, obviously, I do everything the wrong way.

And so it is with Kate Beaton’s webcomic Hark! A Vagrant, which I just recently snagged after hearing too many good things about it to keep ignoring.  And sure, there are the occasional superhero gags, like this great one about my buddy Aquaman:

But it’s just as likely to be about Canadian historical figures and Victorian literature, as evidenced by this amazing strip based around Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper.” At first I thought I had to be misreading something, or misremembering some long-ago reading assignment but no, Beaton went there.  And thank goodness she did, because there aren’t nearly enough comics that appeal to the literary nerd in me and still manage to be outright hilarious.

While there’s likely a chance the literary/historical focus could alienate some readers who are more into comics featuring Final Fantasy sprites, I found it a breath of fresh air.  Much like R. Sikoryak’s Masterpiece Comics, I found the pieces much easier to appreciate when I was familiar with the material they reference, but still easy to follow and get the joke even if I didn’t know the Canadian politician in question or (I know, I know) read Jane Eyre. 

Please, check out Hark! A Vagrant.  Besides, unless you’re weird like me, it’s free!

Denver Comic Con: A Legend is Born!

As regular readers know, I’ve been pretty pumped about the Denver Comic Con (two words, thank you) and Literary Convention, set to come to the Mile High City in June.  We got the chance to chat with Matt Deragisch, DCC’s Social Media Coordinator, to talk about the con, the literary conference, and try twisting his arm into giving us a guest exclusive.

L.E.M.U.R. – There have been plenty of hotel cons and indie gatherings in the Denver area, but as far as I know this is the first time anyone has tried to put together something of this size and scope.  Why is now the right time for a large-scale convention in Denver and how did DCC come about?

Matt Deragisch – Now is the right time for this kind of comic convention because the comic scene in the greater Denver area and Colorado at large has been brewing. It’s time to showcase that body of interest. There’s so many different angles and interests that come from the people organizing this convention, yet they all share the same passion for comics. That’s the place this convention is coming from as it’s all to support the Comic Book Classroom.

L.E.M.U.R. – Since the con is a fundraiser for it, what is Comic Book Classroom?

MD – Comic Book Classroom is a 6 week curriculum where students learn to read or advance their reading proficiency through the use of comics then are tasked to create a comic themselves. CBC uses state standards and has put together a curriculum that is being asked for across the state, and starting to be asked for outside the state faster than materials and teachers can be tapped. There’s clearly a need and a desire for this program and part of Denver Comic Con is to showcase that.

L.E.M.U.R. – Comic conventions are no longer only the province of San Diego or Chicago.  Other than a good cause, what will DCC offer that no other con has?

MD – Passion. We’re not another ReedPOP convention, or a simple vendor floor convention now in Denver. Those cons are great as well, but at the end of the day everything they’re doing is to throw a great show and make some money. We also want to have a great show, but we’re raising money for Comic Book Classroom, nobody behind this con will directly make any money from Denver Comic Con. We care about comics, we care about the program we’re promoting. We care about putting together the best show we can possibly give Denver. I think our attendees will feel that difference come June.

L.E.M.U.R. – Most people think of comic cons as just a fun weekend, but there’s also a literary conference attached to this one.  What was the motivation behind adding the literary component, and what is the goal of those three days? Is it a lit conference attached to a con or is it the other way around?

MD – The Literary Conference is its own animal. It takes place June 13-15, Wednesday through Friday, while the Convention will 15-17 Friday through Sunday. Dr. Christina Angel has been the real heart and soul of the Literary Conference. I think it’s great that we can have this component as well, to show  the literary potential held in comics. With this conference in one hand and supporting the Comic Book Classroom in the other, all being headed by Denver Comic Con, we really embody this full argument that comics are a noteworthy medium. We can get people reading with comics, they can be great forms of entertainment and fanfare, then we can show that they have the same potential for artistic and literary creativity as any other medium.

Good luck talking to Jason Aaron; I'll be the one hogging all his time asking questions about Shark Rider.

L.E.M.U.R. – What kind of community/retailer involvement do you have lined up?

MD – We are working very closely with local retailers to make sure this convention will be as successful as it can be. We know that our first line of interest, and our most vocal supporters will be all the local comic book stores. Ideally we can make a big enough spark locally to garner some new customers as well, and that’s what the retailers are hoping for, it creates a great synergy. We’re even working with locally started Drawer Boxes to make the most of what the local scene can offer.

We’re tied to the community beyond that though. We have ties to the Denver Drink and Draw, and to Homebrew Comics from Boulder. There’s a lot of different people from different walks of life working to make sure this convention succeeds.

L.E.M.U.R. – Which panels are you looking forward to the most?

MD – I’m going to break form on this question and answer this personally, as we’ll be covering so much fandom between our animation, media, and comic guests. If you look closely we have an amazing line of Vertigo talent and seeing if we can fit all of that talent in one room would be a blast. Also Zach Howard who’s a local talent did the art for an amazing IDW mini, “The Cape” and having the opportunity to hear him talk about that process is something I’m looking forward to.

Come get your mint-in-box Star Trek: The Next Generation Wesley Crusher action figure signed...

L.E.M.U.R. –  What kind of experience can fans expect on the convention floor? Publishers? Retailers? Pros?

MD – You’ll see the Retailers, Pros, local artists, and a little bit more. Despite everything we’re still a first year con. We’ve had a lot of interest and it’s been one of our hardest struggles to try and get publishers on the floor. We have a great deal lined up and are fitting in everything we can, I feel positive that we’ll have something lined up by the convention weekend. Something you can expect to see is the graduates of the Comic Book Classroom on the floor signing their work side by side with the pros.

L.E.M.U.R. – What are you most looking forward to showcasing?

MD – The community. Having lived in Colorado my entire life it always felt odd that Denver didn’t have a big comic convention. Having the chance to show that there is a community and there is an interest here in Colorado is huge, and it feels like a victory to see this whole event coming together.

L.E.M.U.R. –  There have been several big-name guests announced from all areas: Jason Aaron, Mike Allred, Billy West, Wil Wheaton…Can we convince you to tell us someone who hasn’t been announced yet?

MD – I wish! I really do, but when we announce and how we announce guests can be ‘a thing’ with agents and contracts involved.

While he’s already been announced I can say our most overlooked guest is Noah Van Sciver He has a graphic novel about Lincoln coming out soon called, “The Hypo”. He also has an amazing indy comic series named “Blammo”. He’s even still turning out weekly strips for the Westword, well worth your time to check out his work.


Denver Comic Con runs June 15-17 and the Literary Convention is June 13-15.  Tickets, guest lists, and more info can be found at denvercomiccon.com.  For the latest breaking info, follow @DenverComicCon on Twitter and hit their page on Facebook.

A New Project

I’ve done a little shilling for the Denver Comic Con in these pages lately (June 15-17, get your tickets now!), but there’s something else comic-related happening this summer.  Cellar Door, a Denver literary anthology, is releasing an all-comic issue timed to come out around the convention.  Titled (and themed) “Ancient,” you’ll see work by some great and committed Denver-area cartoonists.  If you’re able to track down a copy, you’ll also see a 9-page story titled “What REALLY Happened to the Seven Wonders of the World,” drawn by FotB Andrew with words by me.  It’s a humorous (hopefully!) look at what destroyed mankind’s greatest engineering marvels, and if nothing else it will be amazing to look at. 

There’s also a Kickstarter going on to help defray printing costs, which is worth checking out for a little more backstory on the project and the opportunity to snag a copy once it comes out, potentially for less than cover price.

If you’re even remotely curious what happens when we don’t even attempt to come close to honesty keep your eyes peeled, we’d appreciate your support!

Our DCU Retcon

Geoff Johns, now DC’s Chief Creative Officer, has expended a considerable amount of time and effort restoring the DCU to what he remembers and loved as a kid.  And good for him!  He did the work, came up through the ranks, excelled at his craft, and wound up in a position to guide DC to what he likes best.  However, it does open the door for every other fan and DC-lover to do the same thing.  When we (inevitably!) become the CCO we’ll do the same thing.  As a sneak peak, here’s a preview of the things we’ll do to restore DC to what we remember as kids.

See, I didn’t start reading DC books until ’92 or ’93 with the death and return of Superman. There actually aren’t many good memories of DC when I was a kid to which I’d want to return, but there are somethings I’d do responsibly with my great power.

  • Flashpoint/ DCnU was all a dream. The Psycho-Pirate awakens from it to find he’s still in a padded cell within Arkham. ANNNnnnndd….
  • Barry’s dead. It’s nothing personal, Bowtie, but your death was the best thing about you story-wise. We’ll pick up with Wally again sometime after Waid’s phenomenal arc, “The Return of Barry Allen.” I like my heroes full formed rather than whining about the burden of legacy and self-doubt. Also, what’s wrong with guys with gadgets? Captain Cold’s powers are now natural? WTF?!? Instead of being inspired by the cool Icicle, he’s inspired by the douchy Johnsian Icicle, Jr.? Come one Manapul! I’d have a moritorium on the use of Captain Cold so that he could rest from having such a horrid redo.

  • Justice League International – This has come back somewhat with the New 52, but I like the idea of a Justice League in every country.  In fact, it was SUCH a good idea that Marvel had their own take on it with the Fifty-State Initiative.  It allows for more interesting backdrops, more characters to get spotlight, and gives other areas of the DCU such a time to shine.  To this end, Max Lord isn’t a villain anymore, either.  He was such a good bureaucratic good guy, a character we just don’t ever see.  And much like the (Marvel) Sandman’s return to villainy from heroism, it doesn’t feel right.  We’ve seen too many of his inner thoughts to buy that.
  • I’d also bring back annuals. What better way to tell a few short stories, tryout new writers/ artists/, make a few bucks, throw in some nifty supplement material, and entertain the reader? If there’s something better than an annual not tied to a cross-over, I haven’t found it. To my mind, an annual is a good way to both audition talent and examine aspects of a character or character dynamics that can’t find page space in the regular book.
  • No more Rainbow Lantern Corps – There will always be Green Lanterns, that’s a given, but the rainbow Corps (Corpses?) are only diluting the brand.  First task: get rid of all but green and yellow rings.  That’s been enough for 60 years.  We’ll then pare that down to one lantern corps: Green.  Most likely, just to make my mark, I’ll keep one yellow ring and have a lone Sinestro Corps member (not Thaal Sinestro) patrol the universe serving up fear.
  • Jason Todd is dead – Nuff said.  Fuck that guy

  • As a basic concept/ look, I’ve always been drawn to Hawkman. As a character…or convoluted series of characters… not so much. As Assistant CCO of DC, All of Hawkman’s origins go bye-bye. He’s not the reincarnation of an Egyptian prince, he’s not an alien. He’s not an avatar for some Hawk-god. He’s not even an amalgamation of those ideas. He’s just a shirtless guy with wings and a cool helmet that likes to beat the tar out of criminals with a mace…and he’s been around a long time. A non-origin worked for Wolverine for over twenty years. Why does Hawkman have to be from somewhere? He simply is. Done.
  • Marvel Crossovers – The Marvel/DC crossovers may not have always been great, but they’ve always been fun.  When I’m in the CCO seat the Marvel relationship will be repaired and task one will be getting the Batman/Daredevil crossover going.  I’m sure Bendis and Maleev are still up for it.  I think I’ll ditch the Amalgam concept, though.
  • Guy Gardner: Sexist Pig – Guy Gardner was always an ass, but for no discernible reason (other than spite).  Since taking the reins on Green Lantern, Johns has toned down that attitude considerably, and just made it a result of Gardner’s enthusiasm for the job.  We’re going back to the sexist braggart we all loved to hate.  But don’t worry: if you don’t like this particular take where there’s Jerk Guy Gardner, Earnest Guy Gardner is also lurking.  By Giffen and DeMatteis, if they’re willing.
  • When was the last time the Martian Manhunter actually hunted “men”? You need somebody found? Go see J’onn J’onnz. Yeah, we’re bringing that shit back.
  • No Superboy – I hopped on just after Crisis happened, when Clark Kent became Superman as an adult.  This was also before Reign of the Supermen, when DC just wanted to expand the brand.  While the Silver Age had some great stories, I think they’re silly for modern continuity.  And there have been dome decent Connor Kent stories, the whole thing seems like emo Superman.  So let’s just go back to that blissful period without a Superboy.

  • No Guardians – Those little blue guys are asses, and much like Matt’s feelings toward Professor X, I don’t think I’ve ever read a good story with them.
  • I’ve mentioned this before, but maybe someone will listen if I say it often enough. Captain Marvel and company need their own universe to play around in. It’s got to be a more timeless place. A modern setting doesn’t work, and being forced into a universe where dark psychotic killers exist turns Cap into drab generic punch’em-up kind of guy. A kid that turns into a grown up when he/ she utters a magic word is an idea that appeals to pre-teens because of its silliness and it’s wish fulfillment. A Captain Marvel book needs to be written with the same sensibility as Spongebob Squarepants or a Tex Avery cartoon. Silly and strange should be the order of the day when it comes to Captain Marvel.
  • Tim Drake: Robin – The current Robin situation is a huge mess.  Damian Wayne makes for a few good Morrison stories, but I’ve never liked the idea of Son of Batman, and it would take a huge reset button to put him back.  Honestly, I don’t know why DC didn’t do that in 2011.  Tim Drake was the right Robin for his time.  Rather than an acrobat, a physical character, he was something of a hacker, which played to Batman’s detective side and had to work EXTREMELY hard for his physical development.  And he was all planning, no impulse, which put him at odds with Jason Todd (seriously, fuck that guy).  Meanwhile, it feels like he was shoehorned into the Red Robin role because no one wanted to get rid of him but nobody knew what to do with him.  Put him back in the Robin suit and let’s get Damian back to being a digression.
  • Only Batman and Superman have multiple titles – It seems like only Superman and Batman can truly support more than one title.  Not Green Lantern, Aquaman, or Flash.  Let’s not dilute the brand, DC.  Focus your best talent on the top titles.  There don’t need to be 4 Lantern-related books on the stand each month.
  • One thing I’d keep that Johns and co. are doing right is the re-introduction of the anthology title or titles with rotating foci. While every hero or team is someone’s favorite, not all characters can support their own title. The New 52’s DC Universe Presents is an opportunity to… dare I say it… showcase characters and stories of this nature. But, why not do more? Bring back Mystery in Space and cast a wider net. Give the fans their Space Cabby, ULTRA, The Multi-Alien, Adam Strange, and others. What about a House of Mystery or a similar title for darker/ magical characters? Not only would I shuffle characters, I’d shuffle creators often. I’d use anthologies as an incentive to bring over and keep creative talent. It’s an opportunity for creators of on-going titles as well as new talent to play with more toys from the box. The only stricture would be to stay away from characters that currently have their own title.
  • Elseworlds – Placing familiar heroes in unfamiliar settings is a GREAT idea and produced some amazing stories.  Books Holy Terror, Red Son, and The Nail were both interesting takes on our heroes and took their concepts to the core so we could really examine what makes them strong.  In fact, it was such a good idea that it was the theme for an entire year of annuals.  Let’s see some more.

The Con in my Back Yard

We here at the  L.E.M.U.R. Comics Blog are pretty psyched that this summer Denver is going to be hosting it’s first major con.  Sure, there have been small hotel cons here, but it’s a good sign (both for Denver and the comic industry) that someone is trying to put on a major convention in the Mile High City, and the guest announcements they’ve been making keep looking better and better.

So we’ll be running a banner for them until the convention (June 15-17), and I hope you’ll check them out on Twitter (@DenverComicCon) or use the hashtag #DenCon.