SAN DIEGO UBER-PIMP (PART ONE)
Man, San Diego Comic Con was a complete blast this year!
Thankfully, I don't sleep much more than a few short hours a night anyway, so the relentless pace only ramped me up for filling my breakneck schedule with even more convention madness. And fill that schedule is exactly what I did. I did three jam-packed days at SDCC this year, working my way from one end of that mile-long convention hall to the other. I walked every inch of that floor, both upstairs and down, and I went up or down every single isle. Of course, despite my best intentions, it just wasn't humanly possible to return for a second look but I certainly made sure I was seen. All three days consisted of more meetings, events, parties, schmoozing, shopping, and introductions than most humans do in an entire year, and I got to meet some very, very cool people. Of course, more than anything else, my weekend consisted of me collecting CD after CD after CD of comic promotional materials from creators to run in this very column… which, if you keep reading, you'll be seeing some of before the bottom of this very page!
Sadly, the sheer insanity of the con made it impossible for me to see everyone I wanted to. Somehow, despite me sporting two of my most electrically flashy suits and walking around with a big, fat check for my man Rob Osborne in my pocket, I never saw one of my favorite people in all of comics! Certainly wasn't Rob's fault either, because I kept hearing he was looking for me too, but that's just what happens when you cram thirty-thousand people into a mile-long convention center and then distract them with X-Wings and Pokemon and Diamond Dallas Page and people dressed in rubber Batman suits… and oh yes, lots and lots and lots of comics. I barely saw Jason McNamara either, even though we planned to do much hanging out at the convention center during the day and the bars at night. I hear him and Tony were stashing bottles of booze in the bushes between their late night stops, too, so you know they would have been an absolute blast to hang out with.
But sometimes that's just how San Diego Comic Con goes. You get washed up in the crowds and you miss shit. But at least I got some funny convention stories! I'm saving the good, juicy con stories until next week, I got 'em, and I'll tell you all about 'em, but that's for next time. Needless to say, San Diego treated me as unbelievably excellent as I could have ever hoped for. Life has been damn, damn fortunate for your Comic Pimpin' amigo of late, and I've been smiling so much my cheeks have been sore for days. As if San Diego didn't treat me good enough, things were just as blissful once I got home…
Upon returning home from one of the most manic fun weekends I've had in recent memory I was greeted with an email in-box bursting with love and appreciation from folks I met at San Diego, a mailbox overflowing full of CDs from comic creators taking me up on my mail-in offer, and not one but two "Best of the Bay" awards from the San Francisco Bay Guardian for the Isotope. "Best Comic Store 2004" was great to receive, and I absolutely have to thank the folks of San Francisco and the surrounding areas for treating us so well in this year's reader's poll, but even more than that I couldn't be more honored or more proud that the SF Bay Guardian editors chose to create a new award to bestow us with "Best Comic Store in Which to be a Girl."
This is what it looked like in this week's Guardian:
Best Comic Shop in Which to Be a Girl
The Bay Guardian has a surprisingly high number of lady comics nerds on staff. We've leafed through countless ratty issues of Octopus Schoolgirl Tentacle Gangbang to find the issue of Oh My Goddess! that our little niece has been begging for. We've been shamelessly macked on while grimly thumbing through haphazardly chronological issues of Doom Patrol, while some clerk goes on and on about how The Crow was based on a comic book, and did we know that The Crow was based on a comic book, and so on, until we've finally wanted to scream, "Yes! We know that it was based on a comic book! Go back to your cash register and sit there, flunky boy! Read that issue of Concrete and pester me no more!" Even in progressive S.F., the chick-friendly comics emporiums are few and far between. But when we saw a 12-year-old girl in Isotope Comics curled up on the sofa reading Archie, we knew this was a quality joint. Plus, owner James Sime has an "only the sexy nerds with the good social skills" hiring policy, which makes for a much better shopping experience. 1653 Noriega, S.F. (415) 753-3037.
Thank heaven: Isotope Comics owner James Sime welcomes little girls (and big ones too) to the Best Comic Shop in Which to Be a Girl.
That, my friends, is truly glorious.
One of the main motivating factors for me to become a comic retailer in the first place was that I wanted to create a comic store that would appeal to people who you don't traditionally see in a funnybook shop. Coming from a decade worth of experience in fine dining and swank bartending I knew that I was uniquely skilled to bring something to comic retailing that could make a comic store someplace where a non-traditional comic customer would want to be. One of the groups I wanted my comic shop to appeal to most was women. Not just because I like them personally, and not just because I agree with the old bar adage "wherever there is five women there will be twenty five men," but because I'd just like to see more women in the industry. As creators, as publishers, as retailers, and as readers. More than anything else I saw the major barrier between women and comic reading were the stores where those comics were being sold. Hell, the majority of comic shops aren't appealing to me and I've been addicted to the hobby, the books and the culture of comics all my life. So I made sure that when I unveiled the Isotope I made it as friendly and appealing to my female guests as I knew how. As anyone who has attended one of our events will tell you it's been a pretty successful endeavor, but I'd be a liar if I told you that the SF Bay Guardian bestowing "Best Comic Shop to be a Girl" is anything short of great honor to me. I couldn't be more proud.
But enough about me.
In all likelihood you're reading this column this week because you know that for the next couple weeks I'm going to be running a series of columns that I affectionately call "San Diego Uber-Pimp" wherein I keep my promise by featuring every single comic, mini-comic, webcomic, and graphic novel that the creators prepared for me (by burning a CD) and putting it in my hand either at San Diego Comic Con or got their CD through the United States Postal Service within the time allotted. You're here to see some fucking comics, aren't you?
Yeah, me too.
Think of this as a virtual San Diego Comic Con, minus the crowds or the heat or the over-priced hotel rooms. You get to skip all that, but still get to see an incredibly broad and diverse range of comics. Personally, I'm really happy with the variety of submissions I got for this, everything from undistributed mini-comics you've probably never seen in your life to a few different webcomics that you won't see in any comic shop to lots of independently published comics and graphic novels to well-promoted comics from well-known creators published by "front of the cataloge" publishers.
One of comic's greatest assets is that it is an artform, an industry, and a community where high and low art intersect on a daily basis. Yet the industry often times degenerates into chronic ghettoization, snobbery, cliqueishness, and segmentation based along lines of publishing, styles, geography, colorization, and even spandex bodysuits… but not here. Readers of this column flip the bird to stupid clique bullshit, because they know it's all comic books, and they've lined up this year with their CDs to prove it. We've got something from all the far corners of the comic industry; there's manga and minis, superheroes and emo boys, the hip and the square, the greenhorns and the virtuosos.
In other words, a terrific virtual San Diego Comic Con experience.
This week I grabbed a stack of CDs off my pile and got to work formatting what was given to me into some kind of consistent shape. Several of these following entries I've written additional information about, based on my personal experiences with the books or the time I've spent fooling around on the creator's websites, so don't be surprised if the whole column reads a little bit like every Comic Pimp column does. I can't hide my writing any better than I can get my hair to stop standing up in the air, so those are just two things I don't even try to do. You come to the Comic Pimp's house and you're going to get the Comic Pimp whether you like it or not. Also a couple of the following I had to edit for space, but I'm sure everyone who has been featured here will be happy with any additions or subtractions I may have made.
If your book doesn't get featured this week, relax. It's on its way. We've only scratched the surface with this week! Also, just to satisfy the curious out there, there was no secret strategy implemented to decide which CDs I chose for this week. And I didn't choose to feature these books in any particular order whatsoever.
That is, except for this first one. Which was the first CD I got.
Handed to me at 8:30 in the morning on my first day of the con, as I sat bellyup to the bar with my plate of eggs and a bloody mary in hand. "Athena Voltaire" is more than just an on-line strip I very much enjoy, but I have to say that artist Steve Bryant has to be one of the most polite, charming and affable people I was fortunate enough to meet at this year's San Diego Comic Con. He's good people and he makes good comics. I can't wait until I can start putting a hard copy of his book in people's hands.
by Paul Daly, Steve Bryant and Chad Fidler. Published on-line by Modern Tales
When Hitler's occult forces threaten the world, only globetrotting aviatrix Athena Voltaire stands in their way...
High Adventure! Lost Cities! Daring Rescues! Narrow Escapes! Mystical Forces! Nazis! Join Athena Voltaire, as she races against time to save the world. Barnstormer, air racer, crack shot, trick rider and Hollywood stuntwoman, Athena Voltaire is a woman with a colorful past...and a dangerous future.
As world forces escalate to the inevitability of World War II, another war is being fought between the forces of white and black magic as S.S. Commander Heinrich Himmler and his Nazi occultists race to unlock the secrets of the hollow Earth and a lost race of super-mortals. Only Athena Voltaire can foil the Third Reich and their most insidious plan to conquer the free world!
The most recent page or pages are always free to everyone but for a dirt-cheap subscription rate ($2.95 a month or $29.95 a year) you can indulge your Nazi-smashing appetite with the Athena Voltaire archives (around 70 pages), along with the rest of the ModernTales comic archives. For subscription information visit www.ModernTales.com.
by Paul Harmon. Dog Meat Sausage Works
The wars are over, but the weapons still walk the earth.
Man lives like an animal under the shadows of his own monstrous creations. One woman, 1000, is such a creation a weapon of war who searches for her own humanity only to find the savagery of man and his imagination.
by Sherard Jackson. Antarctic Press
One part "Gundam," one part Robert Heinlein, Assembly is a giant robot morality play set in a world where war and rain are constant.
"Assembly" is the story of Shon, a sixteen-year-old girl, who wants to join the State military in order to help out Elaine, her older sister, financially. Elaine, however, wants her to stay in school and keep from following in their dead parents' footsteps. To Shon military service seems logical, but she doesn't understand the consequences of joining or the service's high mortality rate.
"Assembly Volume One" is a 144 page black and white graphic novel for a mere $9.99 American from the kick ass comic publishing folks at Antarctic Press. Available everywhere thanks to Diamond Comics Distribution, Cold Cut Distribution. Hobbies Hawaii, and FM International. ISBN 1-932453-51-2
Other books by Sherard Jackson:
"You Can Draw Transforming Robots"
Volume One 192 black and white pages for $19.95
From Antarctic Press
Semantic Lace Vol. 1: Ghost Story
128 black and white pages $9.95
Check out what else Antarctic Press has to offer:
"Along The Canadian" issue #3, "White Crane & Buffalo"
by Joel Rivers. Obion Comics
Watch yer back, hombre, as the only certainty is a loaded six-gun!
1873, Arkansas. Sheriff Johnston limps back to town after his encounter with the Snake Handler Jones. He arrives only to find a band of outlaws terrorizing Fort Smith. Is Ned Cole, the bandits' leader, a heartless killer like the Marshals claim? Or, are the real villains wearing badges? The Sheriff has little time to wonder, as all Hell is fix'n to bust his town apart.
24 pages, Black and White, only $2.95 American. Distributed by Cold Cut, Diamond Comics Distributors, and FM International.
by Randall Kirby. Flop Productions
This all-ages book features a zombie fighting a talking potato.
"Bop Comics" is an irreverent superhero book featuring kid superheroes Flying Man and the Scarlet Mortimer, as well as fan favorites Captain Zombie and Emaciated Corpse Boy. Lots of pages of cool comics lurk within the pages of "Bop Comics" hood which sports a stunning cover by Brian Douglas Ahern. Did we mention zombies fighting talking potatoes? Zombies! Talking Potatoes! Fighting! Drawn by a guy named Kirby!
And if that isn't enough to get you to go check out the Bop Comics website www.BOPComics.com, you'll definitely want to click on over to see Randall's numerous first-prize winning Wizard costume contest entries. Slick as hell!
Wait no longer! Get your hands on the industry's premiere talking potato and zombie book by contacting the author at email@example.com or sending a fistfull of cash to:
489 SW 3rd Street
Ontario, Or 97914
by Stephen Emond
"Emo Boy" is about angst, frustration, being a teenager, and all things Emo.
This comic is a look at Emo culture (angsty, over-analytical, indie sub-culture) through the eyes of Emo Boy, possibly the most unpopular kid in high school. He lives with his best friend Maxine on her floor, and the two of them make their way through high school together, every day's survival, another victory. Also present are 'Roni, the African-American kindergartner Emo Boy identifies most with; Penny Nicholson, his life-long crush; and Drew Somerville, said crushes jock boyfriend.
Taken individually, each 28 page black and white issue of "Emo Boy" promises a self-contained angst-filled rock and roll coming of age life story. The series as a whole further develops the characters, situations, and people that make up Emo Boy's world.
Available directly from series creator Stephen Emond at the official Emo Boy website http://www.stephenemond.com/emoboy.html
by Ben Towle. Slave Labor Graphics
A raccoon-hunting monkey, Ches "Goatman" McCartney, and an aging and cantankerous Ty Cobb are only a few of the oddball characters you'll encounter in "Farewell, Georgia," an anthology of four authentic folk legends and tall tales from the American South.
48 pages, Black and White, only $6.95 American. Farewell, Georgia is available everywhere at good comic shops that carry Slave Labor Graphics. Distributed by Cold Cut, Diamond Comics Distributors, and FM International. Also available directly from SLG's webstore.
"Furious Fist of the Drunken Monkey"
by Rich Stahnke and Kel Nuttal. Imperium Comics
A down on his luck chimp with a drinking problem comes to possess a powerful alien weapon, and he has to decide if he'll work to save the world or use it as the ultimate bottle opener.
Chip is jobless, unmotivated, facing eviction, and has a growing bar tab. He finds himself possessing a ring, of alien origin, which can transform into a power gauntlet that increases its wearer's speed, strength, and stamina. Along with his toad sidekick, Al, Chip faces his first trial by fire when he tries to stop the rampaging mutant henchmen of The Gene Gnome. The first issue has spaceships crashing, toad licking, beer goggling, rampaging alien warlords, mutated animals, a homicidal dwarf, and one hungover chimpanzee, who hates being called a monkey.
Damn good stuff.
32 pages of black and white "Drunken Monkey" action for only $2.99 American! In stock at quality funnybook shops everywhere, or available through re-order from Diamond Comics Distributors (MAR04 2673). You can also get a hook up directly from www.ImperiumComics.com or from Mister Rich Stahnke himself through his studio www.MorpheusForge.com.
"Gun Street Girl"
by Barbara Lien-Cooper and Ryan Howe. Published weekly at www.GraphicSmash.com
"Gun Street Girl" is the story of Liz, the bodyguard, enforcer, and general hired muscle of Eddie, a magician who's seen better days, and their adventures in a lower-class-but-not-slimy London where the humans are often more dangerous than the monsters, of whom many are content to just have a drink with Liz and Eddie at the end of the day.
"Gun Street Girl" is simply good storytelling that owes far less to Superman or Clive Barker than it does to Michael Caine in "Get Carter" or Godard's "Band of Outsiders" or Richard Lester's "A Hard Day's Night" or the work of Kathy Acker. GSG has been hailed by Fletcher Adams of the website www.comicskins.com thusly: "When you're running around with a tag line of being 'named by Mark Millar as one of the three most promising new talents in the next wave of comics writing', you better have a darn good story to tell. After reading Lien-Cooper's 'Gun Street Girl,' I can see what Millar is talking about. At the heart of the story, GSG is a buddy story. . . The two characters have a genuine chemistry, moving beyond the basic brains/brawn concept and refusing to be absolutely defined by any single adjective... It's very difficult to nail down any sort of comparison for this title, but it makes me think of a lighter-toned Hellblazer, featuring elements that will appeal to fans of Fables." The website www.brokenfrontier.com recently added: "It does not attempt to be frighteningly relevant by referencing popular TV shows yet it is nevertheless a 'pop' comic. . . . 'Gun Street Girl' resembles much that has come before on TV and cinema screens, in pulp novels, comics and video games yet it doesn't indulge in pastiche. It rather creates a new whole; wholly familiar and wholly new." Barbara's writing was recently compared with that of Willingham as well as with Bendis, Gaiman, and Roberta Gregory.
"Gun Street Girl" is drawn by Ryan Howe and written by Barbara Lien-Cooper, a founding member of Sequential Tart, the managing editor of the excellent Comic Book Artist magazine, and comics columnist at www.SilverBulletComicBooks.com. "Gun Street Girl" is updated with new pages every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. The most recent page or pages are always free to everyone but for a dirt-cheap subscription rate ($2.95 a month or $29.95 a year) you can get your fill of all of the Gun Street Girl archives (around 150 pages), the rest of the GrasphicSmash comic archives, and do your part to support the ever-growing webcomic community! For more subscription information visit Graphic Smash.
by Todd Meister & Jennifer Feinberg. Slave Labor Graphics
Scrowlie cats, weird tales, and conspicuous consumption combine in the cute, yet terrifying Little Scrowlie.
"Little Scrowlie: The Call of Cuthbert" chronicles the adventures of a particularly scrowlie cat and her friends (human, cat, and ghost) in their cosmic battle with an evil straight out of today's headlines, as bad fashion, imaginary Lovecraftian horrors, and the instability of post internet gold rush Oakland combine with nefarious cat furrier conspiracies in a veritable Voltron of terror. The trade paperback collects issues one through four, along with bonus stories and pinups.
Issues are 24 pages, Black and White, only $3.00 American. Trade paperback (issues 1-4 plus extras out September): $10.95, 120 pages. ISBN: 1-59362-000-4 Little Scrowlie is available everywhere at good comic shops that carry Slave Labor Graphics. Distributed by Cold Cut, Diamond Comics Distributors, and FM International. Also available directly from SLG's webstore.
Check out more of Jennifer Feinberg's art and drop her a friendly email while you're at it. http://www.chi-jen.com
"The Nice Guy"
by Michael O'Connell, Tim Watts, and L. J'amal Walton. Fool Court Press
For every guy who's ever had a woman tell him he's a "nice guy," a "good friend," or that he's "like a brother" to her…finally, there's a comic that feels your pain.
"The Nice Guy" is an online comic that just released its first print issue. It's about a guy named Jeff, the quintessential "nice guy"- ignored by women (except as a "good friend" or a shoulder to cry on), stepped on, taken advantage of, and generally kicked around. But Jeff manages to get by with the help of his two best friends and roommates-"Peg," the muscle-bound, sandwich-lovin' woman magnet, and Frank, the angry, bitter, and quite vocal "Mail Boxes 'N Stuff" clerk-and despite having to deal with Becki, the unrequited love of his life who is clueless about his true feelings for her and prefers, instead, tattooed jerks that cheat on her and break her heart. Just like life, "The Nice Guy" is a mixture of comedy and pain, and delves into all of life's important issues-love, dating, acceptance, movies, music, basketball, beer, and Mr. Cookie Face.
"Free Nice Guy" strips are available on the 1st and 15th of every month, along with new wallpapers and other goodies, and the first print comic, "The Nice Guy: Pilot", can be purchased on the site.
The Nice Guy can be found at: www.theniceguycomic.com
by Doug Wagner, Cully Hamner, Brian Stelfreeze, Chuck Dixon, Jason Pearson, Dave Johnson and many cccothers. Image Comics
"The Ride": A fast car, bullets, babes, cops, criminals, explosions and mayhem! And that's just the first issue.
Using a particular 1968 Camaro as a common thread in each story, "The Ride" is a canvas for different creators to showcase and explore their unique talents… and oh, what creators they are! The first issue starts the series off with a bang featuring two stories by Doug Wagner and stunning artwork by Cully Hamner and Brian Stelfreeze.
The '68 Camaro serves as a familiar high-octane starting point for the stories "The Ride" serves up. A character can own The Ride, steal it, receive it as a gift, or be confronted by a nemesis that is in possession of the vehicle. The car itself can be central to a given story or peripheral to it. It could be magical or possessed in one tale, up on blocks and rusted out in another. The stories can take place anytime from the sixties into the near future. In other words, The Ride is whatever a creator wants it to be. Why a 1968 Camaro? Simply put, this car oozes muscle and power, the pure essence of "The Ride."
The first two issues focus on Samantha Vega, a rookie detective with the Atlanta P.D. During a routine drug stakeout with her grizzled partner, Frank Simms, she learns of her brother's brutal murder in the small college town of Auburn, Alabama. Now, the two of them must survive a fiery road trip in order to find her brother's killer, driving Frank's personal vehicle, The Ride.
This book can be purchased at fine comic shops everywhere, if your comic shop doesn't have any copies, ask them to reorder it now from Diamond Comic Distributors. 32 black and white pages for $2.95 from Image Comics.
The fine folks behind "The Ride" also provided Comic Pimp readers with an exclusive preview of the next issue of this high-action muscle car mayhem. And, well, this is The Comic Pimp so I'm going to jump you in and show you what to expect from issue two. Enjoy!
To see more of what "The Ride" has to offer, go check out the official website:
"Robin Node: The Comic Poster"
by Daniel Lundie. Futurius Entertainment
Pulse-pounding futuristic action presented in brand new comic poster format!
"Robin Node: The Comic Poster" is a futuristic re-imagining of the mythic Robin Hood folk tales that breaks new ground in both content and format. Published as a limited edition 16.5 by 23.3 inch full-color poster, Robin Node delivers oversized futuristic pulse-pounding wall-sized action! Created by comic maverick Daniel Lundie and published by upstart UK comic publisher Futurius Entertainment.
"Robin Node: The Comic Poster" is available internationally for £1.35 UKP or $2.50 USD plus shipping from www.Futurius.com.
by Stephen Buell. Lost In The Park Press
The return of Jesus is Big Ratings.
Most disasters are.
The Second Coming arrives with big network ratings and even bigger chaos! "Video" follows a group of close friends as they make their way through an event of literally Biblical proportions, as our heroes attempt to determine their own fates in a world now faced with planetary-wide crisis of faith, widespread rioting, and the utter lack of fully staffed fast-food joints. Dark comedy and even darker drama come together as one in this original tale of abandonment, media culture, faith, and gas masks.
"Video" is a six-issue miniseries, which debuted at 2004's Alternative Press Expo and was recently featured in Newsarama's Paper Curtain column. Issues are 24 pages, Black and White, only $2.95 American. Available at fine independent comic book shops everywhere and also directly from Lost In The Dark Press. Check out a free 9 page preview here.
That's all I've got for you this week. Gotta say, I think this week we featured some damn good books, and I absolutely encourage you to hunt down the ones that catch your attention. These are all hardworking creators who just want to share their work with people like you who might enjoy what they're doing.
Come back next week for more virtual San Diego Comic Con, and enjoy another heaping helping of cool comics and great graphic novels that you might not see anywhere else. As well as more tales of my experiences working the mile-long convention floor and rubbing shoulders with the industry's cream of the crop.
Yeah… and I'll probably do a little ranting too.
Talk about comics! The Comic Pimp forum awaits.