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WonderCon comes to LA (OK, Anaheim but close enough)

March 16-18

Next weekend, the 25th WonderCon, a comic book convention traditionally held in the San Francisco area since 1987, will be hosted in Anaheim, a city in Orange County just south of Los Angeles. For those that have always wanted to go to San Diego Comic-Con, North America’s largest comic book convention, this is your chance to get to a more accessible and manageable version of that show. No 3-hour drive, no instantly sold-out tickets, and just a generally easier vibe. Both shows are owned and run by the same company, so format-wise, you’re basically getting the next best thing with less stress. Registration is still available, and unlike with Comic-Con, onsite registration will be possible, meaning you can decide to go that day and drive on down.

Unfortunately, WonderCon’s move to the Anaheim Convention Center is probably only temporary. They lost their usual home at the Moscone Center due to planned renovations at the time.

So what can we expect to see at WonderCon? The programming schedule for Friday, Saturday and Sunday have been posted, and there is plenty to do whether you’re new to comics or a longtime fan. Or explore the floor.

Here are some recommended highlights from the program:

Friday

2:00-3:00 Quick Draw! — It’s another battle to the death with Sharpies at twenty paces! Three of the fastest cartoonists alive draw and duel in what is always a standing-room-only event at Comic-Con in San Diego. This time, we have Scott Shaw! (The Simpsons), Disney legend Floyd Norman, and a player to be named later, all sketching like mad on the command of Mark Evanier. If you’ve never seen one of these, you need to experience it! Room 204

3:30-4:30 comiXology Open Discussion: Everything Digital! — Digital comics are the hottest topic and fastest-growing segment of the comic industry — with comic fans, retailers, and publishers embracing this new distribution and retail model. From self-publishing to same-day-as-print sales, digital retailer storefronts, and more, comiXology is the undisputed leader in this, the digital charge. Join CEO and co-founder of comiXology David Steinberger along with guest panelists for an open discussion on everything digital. All topics are game! Room 203

5:30-6:30 CBLDF: History of Comic Censorship — Learn the shocking history of comics censorship and how even today comics and the people who make, sell, and read them are still threatened. Comic Book Legal Defense Fund executive director Charles Brownstein tells the sordid tale, from the public book burnings and Senate hearings that led to the Comics Code Authority in the 1950s through the attacks on retailers in the 1980s, artists in the 1990s, and readers today that the CBLDF is working to combat! Room 211

Saturday

11:00-12:00 Womanthology Get the story behind the hottest Kickstarter project of the year, a graphic novel produced entirely by the top women in the industry! Over 200 creators combined to create Womanthology,  and all profits go to the charities of GlobalGiving.org! Project mastermind Renae De Liz and a host of surprise creators offer sneak peeks, inside tips on how to break into comics, and more! Room 213

12:30-2:00 CBLDF Live Art Jam — Witness amazing live art created before your eyes by the industry’s greatest superstars! WonderCon special guests Jim Lee, Rebekah Isaacs, and Eric Powell plus special surprise guests will make original art on the big screen, giving you a one-of-a-kind glimpse of their creative process, and then a chance to bid to take their work home. The proceeds of this auction benefit Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, who protect the industry’s First Amendment rights. Stop by the CBLDF booth (417) for your bidder number, then come watch great art happen before your eyes at the CBLDF Live Art Jam! Room 203

3:00-4:00 Kids Can Draw Cartoons with Kristian Sather — Hey kids! Kristian Sather (Bonkers, Jetsons, kristiansather.blogspot.com) will demonstrate the techniques used in drawing funny cartoon characters. You will learn how to draw your own funny cartoon characters using basic geometric shapes. Join Kristian for this fun & informative session! Room 210

8:30-11:00 WonderCon Masquerade It’s Saturday night’s big event! Join the crowd and be enthralled with the parade of costumes and characters across the big WonderCon main stage. Ballroom, Third Level

Sunday

11:30-1:00 Secret Origin of Good Readers — Talking comic books, why we need them in our classrooms and libraries, and how to use them with Bill Morrison (The Simpsons, Bongo Comics), Steve Rotterdam (Bonfire Agency), Nancy Silberkleit (anti-bullying and literacy advocate), David Rojas (education consultant), and Mimi Cruz (Night Flight Comics). An overview of the comic book medium will include helping educators and librarians navigate the wonderful world of comic books, highlighting specific ways comic books and graphic novels can be used to engage a variety of learners while promoting reading and literacy. Educator comic book packages will be provided for attendees on a limited basis (or until supplies last) at the conclusion of this presentation. Free online 70-page The Secret Origin of Good Readers companion resource book [PDF] and other exciting materials at www.night-flight.com/secretorigin courtesy of XMission.com. Room 203

2:00-3:00 Stump Mark Waid — Superstar comics writer Mark Waid (Daredevil, Irredeemable, Kingdom Come, Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, and more) is joined by Jonah Weiland of ComicBookResources.com in a contest of wits! Drawing on questions submitted by CBR readers, and throwing in some of his own, Weiland will desperately try to “Stump Mark Waid” on a variety of comics trivia. Will the comics Internet prevail or will Mark Waid stand triumphant? Show up and find out! Room 203

3:00-4:00 Comics for Kids — Despite the fact that most of us fell in love with the comics medium when we were children, good comics for kids seem few and far between…or are they? Join moderator and APE Entertainment editor Aaron Sparrow, artist James Silvani (Darkwing Duck, Richie Rich), artist Amy Mebberson (The Muppet Show, Strawberry Shortcake, Toy Story), Shane Houghton (Reed Gunther, Casper Scare School), Archaia editor Paul Morrissey, Beanworld creator Larry Marder and more for a lively discussion on kids comics, their place in the industry, and how to break into the business! As a bonus, children attending the panel will be eligible to win comic books and sketches the artists will draw during the panel! Room 203

Digital Comics Update: Dark Horse launches Digital, NBM goes interactive, Nook gets Graphicly app, Archie translates digital to Spanish

Comic books continue their evolution into digital comics, where the sequential art form is available on mobile devices like the iPad and Android, game systems like the PSP, and web browsers. Expanding in distribution, getting more competitive with prices, and experimenting with interactivity – these are all good signs that digital comics might be growing from infant to toddler.

After some delays, Dark Horse Comics will launch their anticipated Dark Horse Digital program later today. The system was built in-house and uses a web-based system supplemented by apps for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. The comics will be priced starting at $1.49 $0.99 (versus competing apps that have comics starting at $1.99), and will be available in bundles as though you’re buying a full graphic novel collection. The app will be free and come loaded with the first issue of Hellboy: Seeds of Destruction by Mike Mignola and John Byrne. There will also be five free comics available: the first issues of Criminal Macabre by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith, Joss Whedon‘s Fray, Mike Mignola’s Abe Sapien: The Drowning, Gerard Way‘s Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite, and Mass Effect: Redemption. The app will have hundreds of other comics for download, including issues of Conan, Joss Whedon’s Serenity, Eric Powell‘s The Goon and more. An Android app will follow.

Meanwhile on the Nook Color, Barnes & Noble has launched a new app store which includes three graphic novel apps from Graphic.ly: Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 by David Petersen, Mark Millar and JG JonesWanted, and Mark Waid‘s Irredeemable. All of the apps have been specially optimized for the Nook Color e-reader, which uses Google’s Android platform. Graphicly also has digital comics from major comics publishers available on the iPad, iPhone/iPad Touch and Android, on the web, Adobe Air, and Google’s Chrome browser app.

Dinosaurs Across America (iPad screenshot)

NBM Publishing and their all-ages Papercutz imprint has teamed up with TWP Interactive to produce what they are billing as the first interactive graphic novel, Dinosaurs Across America by Phil Yeh. (It’s not the first, but it’s still cool.) Dinosaurs Across America was first published as a traditional graphic novel in print in 2007. It was named one of the best 25 graphic novels of the year by School Library Journal and has won acclaim for its ability to teach geography to children. The new interactive edition allows the reader to zoom in on individual states, learn fun facts and play with puzzles. The interactive version is now available for $9.99 as an app for iOS devices (iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch), and for $4.99 as an e-book on Koobits.

And finally, Archie Comics continues its aggressive pursuit of digital, launching Spanish language versions of some of their digital comics Monday. The comics are available on Archie Digital, as well as their iOS app for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch provided by iVerse, and the Sony PSP. An Android app is coming soon. Further translations into French and Hindi are planned as well.

New Graphic Novels, Comic Books for You – 12/16

Never read a graphic novel before? Haven’t read a comic book in years?

Here’s some brand new stuff that came out the week of December 16 that I think is worth a look-see for someone with little to no history with comics. That means you should be able to pick any of these up cold without having read anything else. So take a look and see if something doesn’t grab your fancy. If so, follow the publisher links or Amazon.com links to buy yourself a copy. Or, head to your local friendly comic book shop.

Disclaimer: For the most part, I have not read these yet, so I can’t vouch for their quality. But, from what I’ve heard and seen, odds are good they just might appeal to you.

Chimichanga #1 – $3.00
By Eric Powell
32 pages; published by Albatross Exploding Funny Book

Chimichanga, a story fit for youngsters! In Eric Powell’s first creator owned series since The Goon, he brings his off beat humor and unique style to comic readers of all ages! No, this is not a story about a fried Mexican delicacy! This is about a little bearded girl and her escapades with a slightly less than extraordinary traveling circus.

Unfortunately I can’t find a preview of this, but if Eric Powell’s work on The Goon is any indication, this will be a weird delight.

The Engineer: Konstrukt – $9.95
By Brian Churilla & Jeremy Shepherd
136 pages; published by Archaia Comics; available at Amazon.com

An ancient sentient entity is feasting on the very fabric of space and time. Only one man can stop it: The Engineer, last survivor of the destroyed Earth. Utilizing a colossal pipe organ that enables ‘pan-dimensional travel,’ The Engineer pursues the lost components of The Konstrukt, an archaic mechanism that imbues whoever possesses it with the ability to manipulate reality itself, in the hopes of using it to defeat the creature and undo the incalculable damage it has already done. Giant bat creatures, were-crabs, immense rock creatures, amorphous witches and armies of undead abound in this pulpy sci-fi romp for all ages! Collects and completes the ENGINEER series.

Pretty good price for a hardcover collection this size. Another crazy ride that only comics can pull off. There are preview pages at the publisher link above.

Dead Run – $16.99
By Andrew Cosby, Michael Alan Nelson & Francesco Biagini
128 pages; published by Boom! Studios; available at Amazon.com

“All Speed.  No Limits.” The end isn’t near… it’s here. America has become a wasteland, leaving the few cities that remain transformed into impenetrable fortresses. Beyond these walls lies The Zone, a brutal, plague-ravaged landscape stretching from one city to the next, populated by mutants, monsters, and warring factions of survivors driven insane by disease and starvation — only the very brave or the very foolish voluntarily step foot outside the protective confines of the mega-cities. NICK MASTERS just happens to be a little bit of both. Nick’s a driver, the best there is. If you need something picked-up, delivered, or disposed of, Nick’s your man. And he’s all business. But when he fails to deliver an important package to a local crime lord, Nick’s business suddenly becomes very personal. A science fiction action piece in the vein of MAD MAX from the writer of HEXED and FALL OF CTHULHU, Michael Alan Nelson, collaborating for the first time with EUREKA creator Andrew Cosby!

Co-writer Michael Alan Nelson says on his blog, “if [you] like a little snark with your post-apocalyptic stories, this one is for you.” Here’s an 11-page preview.

The Complete Alice in Wonderland – $4.99
By Leah Moore, John Reppion & Erica Awano
48 pages; published by Dynamite Entertainment

“What is the use of a book,” thought Alice, “without pictures or conversations!”
Following up on the success of The Complete Dracula, and Sherlock Holmes, Dynamite presents The Complete Alice In Wonderland. For the first time ever Lewis Carroll’s classics, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass with “The Wasp in a Wig,” the “lost chapter” (from the Looking-Glass) are adapted into one complete tale. In this All Ages adaptation, writers John Reppion and Leah Moore are joined by Erica Awano for a 4 issue adventure down the rabbit hole!
This full color series features a massive 40 pages of story and art per issue, all under covers by John Cassaday, who supplies a unique die-cut design for the first issue that is sure to enthrall young and old. Moore and Reppion also provide bonus material such as script pages, annotations and samplings of the original text by Lewis Carroll.

Great way to prepare for the coming movie. Love the art. Check out the 8-page preview at the publisher’s link above.

The Rocketeer – $29.99
By Dave Stevens
144 pages; published by IDW Publishing; available at Amazon.com

The Complete Rocketeer saga is collected into one handsome hardcover volume for the very first time, combining The Rocketeer and The Rocketeer: Cliff’s New York Adventure into one great book. Dave Stevens’ classic adventure strip is set in the 1930s and is an homage to the classic pulp novels of the time. Cliff Secord is a stunt pilot who happens upon a top-secret experimental jet pack and meets adventure head on!

Long considered a classic, the Rocketeer has been out of print for years. Now, with the blessing and full cooperation of the Dave Stevens estate, the Rocketeer will be collected as one book and with ALL-NEW COLORING by Laura Martin (who was Dave Stevens choice to recolor the series)

Whether you’ve seen the 1991 movie or not, this is worth getting. The original source material was a comic book character that was sporadically published throughout the 1980s and ’90s. This is the first time it has ever been reprinted in one place. In addition to this $30 version, there’s also a fancier/more expensive ($75) Deluxe Edition, which is printed larger (8″ x 12″) and has an extra 100 pages of Dave Stevens’ pin-ups, sketches and other preliminary artwork. Here’s a look at the deluxe version at the blog of IDW editor-in-chief Chris Ryall.

P.T.A. Night – $12.99
By Jeremy R. Scott
32 pages; published by Image Comics’ Silverline; available at Amazon.com

It’s the creepiest PTA Night ever when the lunch lady’s soup comes alive, the janitor turns into a werewolf, and the old graveyard that the school was built over brings the dead back to life! More humorous than frightening – a treat for kids of all ages!

Silent double-page illustrations tell the tale of the Austintown Middle School on the eve of one of its monthly PTA meetings. At the beginning everything seems normal, with teachers and parents meeting in the auditorium, a janitor mopping the halls, a lunch lady cleaning the pots and pans from earlier in the day, etc. But things will quickly change, and the night will get very strange as the lunch lady’s soup comes alive and begins preparing lunch all on its own, a full moon shines through the clouds, turning the janitor into a werewolf, and a science fair project in the science lab makes contact with a UFO! The old graveyard that the school was built over brings the dead back to life, and the tenants make their way to the PTA meeting!

Very cute and very fun book. Here’s a 4-page preview at Jeremy R. Scott’s blog. This has a very clever use of the comic page, where each 2-page spread is a bi-section of the school. As you make your way through the book, you see the amusing chaos break out in different rooms. I thought this was released by earlier this year, so I’m not sure why it’s popped up on the new release list again, or why the writer/artist Jeremy R. Scott only recently got copies himself to sell. So I’m not exactly sure what’s going on, but it looks like it’s out now, so go get it! You can also buy a signed copy straight from Jeremy R. Scott right here. And there’s also the great website PTAnight.com.

Kidnapped – $14.99
By Robert Louis Stevenson, Roy Thomas & Mario Gully
128 pages; published by Marvel Comics; available at Amazon.com

A STOLEN INHERITANCE! ABDUCTION AT SEA! AN UNSOLVED MURDER: These are the elements that Robert Louis Stevenson, author of Treasure Island, wove together in Kidnapped, his novel set upon the ocean and in the wilds of the Scottish Highlands in the middle of the 18th century. Young David Balfour tries to claim his rightful inheritance from a treacherous uncle determined not to share it—and is kidnapped aboard a ship bound for the American colonies, where he’ll be delivered into slavery. He escapes in the company of a dynamic Scottish rebel named Alan Breck Stewart, and the two of them forge a powerful and memorable friendship—fighting all foes side by side, and triumphing in the end.

Marvel Comics has been doing these classic novel adaptations for a few years now. I’ve never really heard much feedback on whether they’re any good, but I thought I’d point it out because I think it’s a good publishing program, in concept. Roy Thomas is an old Marvel warhorse. He was the first person that wasn’t Stan Lee to handle their characters on any significant level, and became Marvel’s editor-in-chief for much of the 1970s. Here’s a 6-page preview, which certainly seems decent enough.

New to Comics? New Comics for You! 7/15/09

[Getting late...]

Never read a graphic novel before? Haven’t read a comic book in years?

Here’s some brand new stuff coming out this week that I think is worth a look-see for someone with little to no history with comics. That means you should be able to pick any of these up cold without having read anything else. So take a look and see if something doesn’t grab your fancy. If so, follow the publisher links or Amazon.com links to buy yourself a copy. Or, head to your local friendly comic book shop.

Disclaimer: While it may seem like it, I do not live in the future. For the most part, I have not read these yet, so I can’t vouch for their quality. But, from what I’ve heard and seen, odds are good they just might appeal to you.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep #1 – $3.99
By Philip K. Dick & Tony Parker
32 pages; published by Boom! Studios

THE BOOK THAT INSPIRED THE FILM BLADE RUNNER COMES TO BOOM with backmatter by Warren Ellis!
Worldwide best-selling sci-fi writer Philip K. Dick’s award-winning DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP? has been called “a masterpiece ahead of its time, even today” and served as the basis for the film BLADE RUNNER. BOOM! Studios is honored to present the complete novel transplanted into the comic book medium, mixing all new panel-to-panel continuity with the actual text from the novel in an innovative, ground-breaking 24-issue maxi-series experiment!

San Francisco lies under a cloud of radioactive dust. The World War has killed millions, driving entire species to extinction and sending mankind off-planet. Those who remained coveted any living creature, and for people who couldn’t afford one, companies built incredibly realistic fakes: horses, birds, cats, sheep… even humans. Rick Deckard is an officially sanctioned bounty hunter tasked to find six rogue androids — they’re machines, but look, sound, and think like humans – clever, and most of all, dangerous humans. Rick Deckard, Pris, The Voight-Kampff Test, Nexus 6 androids, the Tyrell Corporation: join us for the publishing event of the year!

Oh and the by the way, this story inspired the movie Blade Runner.

Interesting idea. Usually when something is adapted to comic book, there’s a writer to re-work the source material. But this comic is apparently taking the original novel word-for-word and having an artist illustrate it out. Here’s a preview, so you can get a feel of what this will be like in execution. I’m not completely sold on the concept but I like that it’s something different, and it’s worth noting. And I’m sure sci-fi fans will want to check this out.

Creepy Comics #1 – $4.99
By a bunch of people
48 pages; published by Dark Horse Comics

What’s black and white and clawing its way onto your reading list? It’s the newly resurrected Creepy, of course! Now, don’t fret, my putrid pets — these new terror tales are cut from the same cursed cloth as the outlandish originals, telling contemporary horror stories with gorgeously ghoulish art from a lineup that’ll make you lose your head!

Original Creepy artist Angelo Torres teams up with devilish Dan Braun on “Hell Hound Blues”; Michael Woods and artist Saskia Gutekunst serve up a dose of “Chemical 13″; Neil Kleid and Brian Churilla provide “All the Help You Need” at a weird weight-loss camp; and jaundiced Jason Shawn Alexander brings his phenomenal painting skills to Joe Harris’s “The Curse”! Plus Bernie Wrightson, the return of “Loathsome Lore,” and more. All this, plus one classic story from Uncle Creepy’s dank dungeon, and you’ve got 48 freakish pages of terror to bring home to mummy!

In 1964, Creepy magazine resurrected the horror genre (huge in the ’50s) using a massively talented collection of artists and writers. Dark Horse is now resurrecting that resurrection. A bit derivative? Maybe. But modern comics have a host of very talented individuals who have injected new life into today’s horror stories in comics. Here’s a preview.

Parker: The Hunter – $24.99
By Darwyn Cooke
144 pages; published by IDW Publishing; available at Amazon.com

The Hunter, the first book in the Parker series, is the story of a man who hits New York head-on like a shotgun blast to the chest. Betrayed by the woman he loved and double-crossed by his partner in crime, Parker makes his way cross-country with only one thought burning in his mind—to coldly exact his revenge and reclaim what was taken from him!

Darwyn Cooke, the Eisner-Award-winning writer/artist of such classics as DC: The New Frontier, Selina’s Big Score, and The Spirit, now sets his artistic sights on bringing to life one of the true classics of crime fiction: Richard Stark’s Parker. Stark was a pseudonym used by the revered and multi-award-winning author, Donald Westlake.

Darwyn Cooke is fantastic. Here’s a preview. Classic hard-boiled crime. I can’t wait to get this.

Franklin Richards: School’s Out – $3.99
By Chris Eliopoulos
32 pages; published by Marvel Comics

Enough of the pencils, enough of the books, enough of teacher’s dirty looks! It’s summertime and school is out of session which gives Franklin more time to get into trouble. Join Franklin, his robot nanny, H.E.R.B.I.E., his teleporting dog, Puppy, in more adventures and laughs. Put on your shorts and come out and play!

This fun all-ages read is like if Calvin & Hobbes took place in the super-hero filled Marvel Universe. Lots of fun yet smart enough for older readers too.

That’s it for this week.

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