Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Friday, September 18, 2009

When Superman Needs A Giant Mirror...

He goes to Palomar Observatory, of course. Scott Kardel, my pal and the guy to whom I turn for all information related to astronomy, is Public Affairs Coordinator for the observatory. He posted a great Super Friends clip over at his Palomar Skies blog. In it, Superman travels to Palomar to make use of their 200-inch mirror.

Scott's blog is a terrific resource of knowledge and photography, so be sure to bookmark it for return visits in the future.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Dreadnok: Bloodbath

Going back to the first time I saw Heavy Duty from Hasbro's The Rise Of Cobra preview at Toy Fair, I knew I wanted to use him as the base for a custom. The design was perfect for a character from DDP's Dreadnoks Declassified, specifically the one seen taking cover behind the table in this panel:

from the pages of Dreadnoks Declassified
With a little paint and some new weapons, the final result just needed a name and a story.

Dreadnok: Bloodbath

Bloodbath's Filecard
Here's the layered PSD file if anyone can use a G.I. JOE filecard template.

Bloodbath is armed with the Combat Shotgun and Machete (painted) from Marauder "Gun-Runners".

Dreadnok: Bloodbath

Saturday, September 12, 2009

New Blood: Night Adder (Cobra Security)

I received my HasbroToyShop.com order for some of the wave 4 figures from The Rise Of Cobra this week. Included was Night Adder, the first unique Cobra character introduced to the property since the 25th Anniversary construction style debuted in 2007.

Night Adder I

Night Adder II

Night Adder III
With Shadow Tracker coming in 2010's Pursuit Of Cobra line, Hasbro's follow-up to The Rise Of Cobra, we'll be getting another brand new character in just a matter of months. This development is right up my alley, as there just haven't been enough distinct personalities in Cobra beyond the army builder figures. Sure, I still wish Hasbro would produce previously established characters like Zandar, Zarana, Zanya, Thrasher, Road Pig (and the tooling used for Night Adder makes for the perfect Road Pig body), and Big Boa, but I'm all for new blood, as well. In fact, I was planning on injecting some into my own collection from the moment I saw the Heavy Duty figure from The Rise Of Cobra in images from Toy Fair. I'll save that for tomorrow, though.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Inception Teaser

So the teaser trailer for Christopher Nolan's next project, Inception, was released online this week, but there hasn't been much talk about it. Maybe that's because people don't really know what to say yet. Of course, that's the brilliance of Nolan's non-Bat work, isn't it? With Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Cillian Murphy, Michael Caine, Ken Watanabe, Tom Hardy (Handsome Bob in Guy Ritchie's RocknRolla), this film is packing a stellar cast. Tom Berenger is in it, too, but even he has managed a couple of memorable performances in his career (A Murder Of Crows comes to mind). This is obviously the movie to see next summer, Iron Man II be damned.

With Paramount's odd decision to delay Martin Scorsese's Shutter Island until February, it looks like DiCaprio will be headlining the two biggest thrillers of 2010.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Ten Reasons Why The Rise Of Cobra Was Better Than G.I. JOE: Resolute

Before I begin with this list, I'd like to preface this entry with two notes and a warning.

First of all, I'm a big fan of Warren Ellis' work, and not just his comics. His episode of Justice League Unlimited, "Dark Heart," was fantastic. Ellis is an extraordinarily gifted writer, and one I count among my favorites. Having said that, I'm not sure if he was right for this job, or if he just phoned it in without taking it very seriously. Maybe the "webisode" micro-series format created a problem, or perhaps Sam Register, Ruiner Of All That Is Good, had too much influence over the final product. Whatever the case may be, this is not an indictment of Ellis' ability.

Secondly, I thoroughly enjoyed the animation and most of the character designs in G.I. JOE: Resolute. Joaquim Dos Santos is another master of his craft, but like Ellis, I felt his talents were wasted on this project. When I first saw this collaboration announced, I honestly believed that Resolute would be the best G.I. JOE release of 2009. I don't know that my initial assumption could have been more off the mark.

As for the warning, if you still haven't seen either of these, and you plan to do so eventually, stop reading. I'm not going to hide spoiler text, so proceed at your peril. With that out of the way, I give you Ten Reasons Why The Rise Of Cobra Was Better Than G.I. JOE: Resolute:

10) Hawk was in command. For whatever reason, Hawk was totally MIA in Resolute. The whole, "Duke is in charge," aspect of the Sunbow series was one of the many things I hated about it, and here he was, right back in command of the whole goddamn team. Aside from a couple of elements involving the history of Snake-Eyes and Storm Shadow and a reference to (the wrong) Springfield, this thing seemed to be catering to fans of the 1980s cartoon from the very start. For people who grew up with the Sunbow episodes as their idea of what G.I. JOE is, I'll admit that Resolute was an improvement, but that's really not saying much. Maybe fans of the show were predisposed to being more easily entertained by this stuff, but as a Hama fan, it was an absolute letdown.

9) Stephen Sommers didn't pussy out when it came time to kill one off the good guys (er, girls). Just after Scarlett's audition for CSI: Washington in Resolute, we see an explosion on the U.S.S. Flagg, followed by the revelation that a well-known JOE had been killed while on guard duty. That JOE was Bazooka, who was killed off-screen by Storm Shadow. In fact, agents of Cobra (aside from Major Bludd, who also died off-screen) are the only named characters who die in front of the audience. We never see a JOE, or even an anonymous civilian, die on-screen. Why? Well, a lot of it probably has to do with the fact that Resolute Cobra Troopers are about as effective with their weapons as the Stormtroopers in STAR WARS. Several of them miss Duke and Scarlett at very close range. It was like I'd suddenly been transported back to the '80s, despite promises of "grown-up" G.I. JOE animation. When it came time to kill off Cover Girl in The Rise Of Cobra, though, Sommers didn't hold back. His Zartan stabbed her right in the back and on through the screen of her large tablet-thingy. Sure, Resolute was violent, but with the absurd amount of poor aim and the completely one-sided battles, the violence it did showcase seemed forced. Violence for the sake of violence does not make for an entertaining experience.

8) No one confused the stratosphere for a fucking tunnel. Seriously, when G.I. JOE has a job that requires sending someone halfway to outer space, just how the hell does Tunnel Rat draw that duty? And was it really even necessary for him to float up there to apply his "power surge" cure-all? With all the technology used in this story, couldn't we come up with something that wouldn't require sending the wrong guy on a balloon ride twenty or thirty miles up in the air? Okay, just to avoid any future confusion, anyone who's not sure of the difference can use this diagram (original located here):

not a tunnel
7) Duke wasn't doing his Wolverine impression. Seriously, I like Steve Blum's work, and the guy has plenty of range. Why, though, does his Duke sound exactly like his Logan? If you've seen Hulk Vs. or Wolverine and the X-Men (and you should if you haven't), or even played any recent Marvel-based video games, it's fairly distracting.

6) Snake-Eyes wasn't Duke's bitch. In The Rise Of Cobra, it was all Duke could manage to get Snake-Eyes on the ground with a cheap shot during a sparring match. Duke needed that Delta Six accelerator suit just to keep up with Snake-Eyes. In Resolute, Duke's grumpy glare and, "You be ready when we need you," shit is exactly the time for Snake-Eyes to give a look that says, "I'm going to do what I need to do, and I'll be ready when I'm good and goddamn ready, Duke. And hey, if you don't like it, I can go ninja upside your stupid face." That's all Snake-Eyes needs to convey that message, just a look. From behind a mask. And don't even get me started on the bizarre crossbreeding of continuities where Duke punks Snake-Eyes out with Scarlett, guilting her into choosing to be with him before Snake-Eyes even leaves the room. Why the need to cut Snake-Eyes' nuts off in Resolute? Just to make Duke look tougher?

5) Cobra Commander managed to be sinister. Joseph Gordon-Levitt's Cobra Commander was infinitely more minacious than the imbecilic portrayal in Resolute. Despite excusing past failures by saying, "it suited (him) once to appear weak and cowardly," in order to "motivate" his subordinates to "think," what does the Resolute Cobra Commander do when the chips are down? He massacres his own followers and locks himself in a panic room. After telling Duke he won't be able to stop Cobra's doomsday device du jour from firing, Duke apparently locates a convenient deus ex machina in the form of a switch that redirects the weapon. Right at Cobra headquarters. Can't stop it, but you can aim it right at us! Oy vey. Gordon-Levitt's character exuded scary and threatening, delivering a competent Commander that can be taken seriously.

4) Destro and Baroness actually did stuff. Resolute transformed two of the most compelling, interesting personalities of the entire mythos into a wannabe, Bonnie-and-Clyde-style duo of common thugs, their sole purpose in the story being guard duty over a building and a group of hostages. Destro was actually shown to be an arms dealer with a grudge against his client states in The Rise Of Cobra, and Baroness turned out to be more than just his tagalong/sidekick/lover. ROC Destro is a convincing villain; Resolute Destro says, "Aw, that's just bloody cheating."

3) Arnold Vosloo's Zartan, scripted perfectly by Stuart Beattie and performed flawlessly by Vosloo, was a completely enjoyable character. He was exactly what a villain should be, cold and calculating, a creepy sociopath who makes the audience have a good time with all the awful things he does. Beattie gave him a trademark whistle, which even gives you a good chuckle immediately after you realize the guy probably murdered the President of the United States. The Zartan of Resolute was shallow and one-dimensional, more of a minor plot obstacle than a character. It was glaringly obvious that absolutely no thought went into his inclusion beyond, "Oh, yeah, get the guy who can blend into his surroundings into the story." What was Zartan's contribution? Stereotypical monologuing until he gets shot in the back in the most intellectually lazy scene of the entire affair.

"I like the idea of living in a world where I can kill anyone I like, any time I like. I don't need the money; I just need the killin'." Fuck's sake, that's garbage. It's not at all true to any previous depiction of the character, either.

2) Storm Shadow was not portrayed as a whining, petulant child in The Rise Of Cobra. His bitching and whining in the animation is rivaled only by the bitching and whining of obnoxious "fans" who insist that The Rise Of Cobra "insulted" the source material and ruined their childhood memories. Going back to the original Marvel series from the '80s, and even in the awful Sunbow cartoons, Storm Shadow was always an honorable warrior. Always. There were no exceptions. He was never a pathetic, sniveling twat who would conspire in his own uncle's assassination, simply because the man refused to share a dangerous secret with him. His sole motivation in the non-flashback scenes of Resolute was his jealousy of Snake-Eyes, and his reason for becoming a terrorist in the first place was that Unkey Hardmaster didn't wuv him enough. Every aspect of this interpretation of Storm Shadow was an abject disappointment.

1) The Rise Of Cobra was fun. I don't mean it was, "turn off your brain," mindless action, like some critics have suggested. I mean the movie, the story, the characters, and the action were all fun. Resolute failed miserably in this department, crawling at a snail's pace and feeding its audience an overdose of unnecessary exposition. That's not to say Resolute needed more shooting or explosions, but it needed more something, as it was dreadfully boring. There was actually plenty of action, even if most of it was poorly executed. The problem was with the contrived story and phony dialogue that wrapped around the action.

Like pretty much everyone else who grew up with the G.I. JOE books published by Marvel Comics, I have a personal preference for those stories, and I would have been happier if The Rise Of Cobra had adhered more closely to them. What really matters when it comes to this sort of thing, though, is that a filmmaker gets the fundamentals right, and Stephen Sommers accomplished that. But hey, don't take my word for it. Listen to Larry Hama in this interview:

I really like it. I mean, I like it for all the really sort of basic reasons. I think they were really true to the core of the characters. Scarlett seems like Scarlett. Snake-Eyes comes off as Snake-Eyes. Storm Shadow is Storm Shadow.

Compare that with what he had to say about Resolute:

I read a couple of the scripts, and it just seemed like he really didn't understand the characters. I wasn't really interested. He didn't seem to also understand anything about military terminology or technology, for that matter, either. So I just turned myself off.

'Nuff said.

Ten Reasons Why The Rise Of Cobra Was Better Than G.I. JOE: Resolute

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Ballad of G.I. JOE

The Ballad of G.I. JOE from Funny or Die:

What a cast!

Alexis Bledel as Lady Jaye
Billy Crudup as Zartan
Zach Galifiankais as Snow Job
Tony Hale as Dr. Mindbender
Vinnie Jones as Destro
Chuck Liddell as Gung Ho
Julianne Moore as Scarlett
Henry Rollins as Duke
Alan Tudyk as Shipwreck
Olivia Wilde as The Baroness
and Sgt. Slaughter as Himself

Thursday, August 06, 2009

The Invasion Of Tacky Villain Island

These were posted on the official G.I. JOE: The Rise Of Cobra movie site. They did a great job with the animation, but not so much with the figures walking. They're totally goofy, but there are some really funny moments. Pay attention to how many times Cobra Commander's costume changes in his first scene and the Cobra Trooper's reaction to seeing Snake-Eyes.

Firefly steals the show in part two, and Stalker and Beach Head miss an obvious Jules & Vincent moment. I was disappointed when the clip didn't end with the two of them looking over breakfast menus in a diner.

G.I. JOE: The Rise Of Cobra opens tomorrow!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Dr. Mindbender Gets His Fix

So after receiving my Defense Of Cobra Island seven-pack, I wanted to "fix" the straps on Dr. Mindbender. When you first remove him from the package, the straps curve inward and even look to be one piece on some of the figures. I've seen people mention heating them up and all kinds of things, but the solution is much simpler than that.

25th Anniversary Dr. Mindbender
Okay, see how the belt of his harness sits above the sculpted belt on the figure's waist? Just pull the removable belt down over the sculpted one, and the straps will straighten themselves out quite well. It's a snug fit, but work it from both sides and you'll get it. That's all there is to it.

Fixed Dr. Mindbender
And as great as Dr. Mindbender, Night Creeper, and Alley Viper are, the real sleeper hit from this set is Range Viper. I liked the original ARAH version as a kid, and all, but I love this update. I thought it looked good when I saw him online, but having him in my hands made all the difference in the world. This is a great figure, one of the best Cobra Trooper builders in the line.

25th Anniversary Range Viper

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sign Here, Please: Rod Whigham

Up next for me on Friday was Rod Whigham, artist on issues 31, 34-36, and 38-56 of Marvel Comics' 1980s G.I. JOE title. This was a great period for the book, and Mr. Whigham's art was a big influence on my ideas of what the property should be. While chatting with him, he mentioned wishing he'd done a better job with these books, but I loved every panel of every page. In fact, my display of loose 25th Anniversary/Modern Era G.I. JOE figures is going to consist mostly of a large diorama inspired by his artwork and Larry Hama's stories. I took a couple of my favorite issues, #45 and #46, to HeroesCon to have him sign.

G.I. JOE #45 signed by Rod Whigham

G.I. JOE #46 signed by Rod Whigham
It was a real treat to meet Mr. Whigham after so many years of enjoying his contributions to the G.I. JOE universe, especially when he was so friendly and outgoing with his fans.

Sign Here, Please: Rod Whigham

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sign Here, Please: Michael Golden

Looking back to the earlier days of G.I. JOE comics, my next stop was at the table of Michael Golden, artist of the legendary G.I. JOE Yearbook #2 cover. My best friend had given me a copy of that book, so I took it with me to have it signed:

G.I. JOE Yearbook #2 signed by Michael Golden
Mr. Golden was very friendly, and he took the time to discuss his upcoming project, a rerelease of Yearbook #2 for IDW. He's already redone the cover, and he's adding several pages of artwork to the story. Hearing him talk about it made me want to see it right away, but he said to expect a late 2009 or early 2010 release. Mr. Golden also had prints available for sale, including this Cobra print which I absolutely had to buy:

Signed Michael Golden Cobra print
As you can see, most of my Friday was spent collecting artwork and signatures on books. I'll have another classic G.I. JOE artist for my next entry.

Sign Here, Please: Michael Golden

Friday, July 17, 2009

Sign Here, Please: Tom Feister

Next on my list to track down at HeroesCon 2009 was Tom Feister, one of the artists on IDW's G.I. JOE: Origins, written by Larry Hama. He also worked on DDP's G.I. JOE: Frontline earlier this decade. Of all the writers and artists I've met from the comic industry, this was one of the coolest, friendliest guys of the bunch. And not only is his artwork fantastic, but he has a real familiarity with the original Marvel title, and a great Larry Hama story to go along with it. In addition to talking JOE, he really dug Jennifer's Question plush, which she was carrying around in her bag on Friday. In fact, he sent us over to Cully Hamner's table so she could show it to him. He was equally impressed with her Etrigan plush and Rorschach plush, which she had on Saturday and Sunday respectively. We really enjoyed meeting and talking with him, and I hope he makes it back to Charlotte next year.

I took my copy of Origins #1 with the Tom Feister cover to the convention center on Friday:

G.I. JOE: Origins #1 signed by Tom Feister
I also had to pick up one of the prints he had for sale, and it wasn't difficult to choose this one, featuring Snake-Eyes from the cover of G.I. JOE: Origins #5. I mean, it's Snake-Eyes.

Tom Feister print
Like I said, I hope to see him again at next year's convention.

Sign Here, Please: Tom Feister

Friday, July 03, 2009

Sign Here, Please: Jeremy Dale

With so many people who've contributed to G.I. JOE comics over the years at HeroesCon 2009, I had a stash of books to get signed. The first artist I located Friday morning was Jeremy Dale, artist on six of the twelve books that were included in the 25th Anniversary comic two-packs. There are no credits in the books, which were written by Larry Hama, but he recently posted a list of which ones he drew here. I was armed with issue #36½ (featuring Tomax and Xamot) and issue #7 (featuring Destro, Baroness, and Iron Grenadiers).

G.I. JOE signed by Jeremy Dale

G.I. JOE signed by Jeremy Dale
Not only was Mr. Dale kind enough to sign those books (and seemingly surprised that they were in as good condition as they are), but he also had G.I. JOE prints for sale. How could I resist? The guy's artwork is fantastic, so I had to add these to my collection.

G.I. JOE print signed by Jeremy Dale

Cobra print signed by Jeremy Dale
Jeremy Dale is currently offering original artwork from his G.I. JOE comics, so be sure to check out his site.

Sign Here, Please: Jeremy Dale

Monday, June 29, 2009

HeroesCon 2009 In (Very Few) Pictures

Okay, so I know I said I was going to take more photos at HeroesCon this year. I really intended to do it, too. The best laid plans, and all that. Of course, I'm usually shopping for action figures, busts, statues, and various other collectibles at least as much as I'm shopping for books, but that wasn't the case this year. I only came home with seven or so action figures this time, which is less than I usually buy the first day. It wasn't for a lack of trying, either. The selection of stuff I didn't already have just wasn't there. No, I spent most of this year with my face buried in boxes of books, coming home with a dozen or so trade paperbacks and hardcovers and around 400 single issues. Sorting through all those books is a big part of why I haven't updated the blog yet. I did manage to snap a few photos, though, but I'll have many more pics of what I brought home than from the con itself. Anyway, here's what I managed to get:

This is the con floor from the seating area over near the concessions. That crowded booth in the background under the "Aisle 200" sign had just dropped from ½ price trades to $5 trades, so they were having a busy Sunday.
HeroesCon 2009 floor

Here's the Sci-Fi Genre booth. I visited their store in Durham last year, and I've ordered from their online store several times. What a great, friendly group of people they are. Looking back, maybe I should have bought that $6 Supernova figure hanging there.
Sci-Fi Genre booth

These next two photos are of The Outer Rim Collectibles' booth. He had a good selection of 25th Anniversary and "Modern Era" G.I. JOE figures available.
The Outer Rim Collectibles Booth

The Outer Rim Collectibles Booth

This guy was walking around in a Storm Shadow costume, so when he was standing next to me at the DC Comics booth, I decided to take a photo.
Storm Shadow costumer

And here's a shot of Jennifer with a guy in a Cobra Commander costume. She's 5'6", by the way.
Cobra Commander costumer

You can see larger HeroesCon 2009 photos on my Flickr, but that's pretty much it. As I mentioned, I'll have plenty of photos of stuff I brought home from the convention to post throughout the week, but those were the only photos of the actual con I managed to take. From what I've seen on the web, there were several attendees in recognizable costumes, but I didn't see many of them. I guess I was too busy digging through $1, fifty-cent, and even ten-cent comic boxes and wondering why no one had any recent DC Direct releases (or Marvel Universe, or JLU, or any of the pricey G.I. JOE variants). Where I failed, though, others succeeded. Here's the official Heroes Aren't Hard To Find convention set on Flickr. Seriously, I never even saw this Cobra Commander & Baroness or any of these guys. Here's some more HeroesCon costumers on ComicBook.com, too. While I did see the GL from a distance, I never caught so much as a glimpse of Wonder Woman, Cassie Hack, Renee Montoya, or that Batman. I've seen that Harley before, though, and I hope to never, ever see her again.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Twenty-, Twenty-, Twenty-Four Hours To Go

HeroesCon 2009 officially kicks of in twenty-four hours, at least for those of us shrewd enough to purchase a three-day advance pass. I'm happy to see that Sci-Fi Genre is on the list of exhibitors. Unfortunately, I don't see many of the vendors from the Northeast who used to set up shop at HeroesCon up until a few years ago. I was hoping that with gas prices down from what they were last year, some of those guys might make the trip again, but it looks like mostly regional dealers from the Southeast. That's how it's been for the last few years, and the prices and selection suffer for it. There will still be plenty to buy and lots of great deals to be had, but the days of $5 DC Direct figures and $30 long boxes full of comics seem to be gone for good.

I always take my camera with me to the convention, but I never end up taking many photos. I'm going to make an effort to do better with that this year, so I'm hoping to have plenty of pictures to share here and on Flickr. I'll try to get shots of comics and toys at dealer booths, the DC and Marvel setups, some of the talent, and some of the costumers. And of course, I'll have images of whatever figures, books, and other goodies I bring home from the con.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Seven Days in Sunny June

With just one week to go until HeroesCon 2009, the Event Schedule has been released, and here's a look at the DC Comics panels:

From the HeroesCon 2009 Event Schedule
Friday, June 19
2:00 PM
Join DC's Senior Story Editor Ian Sattler, Editor Brian Cunningham and countless DCU talent for a panel that's not to be missed. With "Blackest Night" looming, what lies ahead for your favorite universe? Find out here!

Saturday, June 20
1:00 PM
The NATION calls out once more to the DC Faithful! DC's Senior Story Editor Ian Sattler and Editor Brian Cunningham lead a list of A-list talent to talk all things DC. Come one, come all, the DC NATION welcomes you!

For anyone who may prefer an inferior universe, here's a look at the Marvel panels:

From the HeroesCon 2009 Event Schedule
Friday, June 19
1:00 PM
He’s one of the most recognized persons in the comic industry, at the center of many things Marvel. He’s C.B. Cebulski, Writer and Marvel Talent Liaison, and he’s joined by the top writers in the industry to take on all questions and drop a few surprise announcements! Join Brian Michael Bendis (Ultimate Spider-Man), Matt Fraction (Invincible Iron Man), Ed Brubaker (Captain America), Mark Waid (Amazing Spider-Man) and more!

Saturday, June 20
2:00 PM
He lost, they won. They are the new Masters of the Marvel Universe, and they are NOT nice people. The villains finally have their day, now hear from the folks pulling the strings what happens next. This panel will have the announcement of the next big chapter in Marvel history, so be there for it! Featuring Brian Michael Bendis (Dark Avengers, New Avengers), Matt Fraction (Dark Avengers/X-Men), Jonathan Hickman (Secret Warriors), and editor Jeanine Schaefer.

And on the G.I. JOE front, Herbe Trimpe was added to the guest list on Tuesday. Mr. Trimpe was the artist on issues #1, 3, 4, 6, 7, and 8 of the original Marvel series.

And while you're at the show, be sure to stop by booth #145 and check out the local Charlotte artists of the God City crew.

Jennifer & Iron Man @ HeroesCon '08

Friday, June 05, 2009

The Milestone Mission

Two weeks and counting until HeroesCon '09, and I'm going through books and making lists of what I need to complete titles, or even just stories in some cases. In addition to supplementing my Marvel and DDP G.I. JOE collections, a big priority this year will be trying to finish off runs of several Milestone Media titles. I'm specifically trying to pick up the few issues of Blood Syndicate, Hardware, Icon, and Static that I'm still missing. I'd like to pick up some Xombi and Shadow Cabinet books, too, but I'm very close to full sets of the other four, so they'll be the focus of my search efforts.

Milestone Media Comics
With Static and other characters from the Milestone Dakotaverse making their way into the DCU, I'd like to get reacquainted with them, so I'll be looking to fill out the holes in my collection when the convention starts on June 19. I've gone through all of my single issues, so now it's on to my hardcovers and trade paperbacks to see what else I'll be trying to acquire.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009


Well, I've removed the image of my McFarlane Sports Picks Plaxico figure from the site graphics. I decided to do it as soon as the Giants released him, but I just got around to starting it over the weekend. He did catch the game-winning touchdown pass in Super Bowl XLII, and all, so he'll stay on my NY Giants shelf. He's no longer a member of the team, and he'll most likely end up playing elsewhere before his career is over, so I couldn't keep him on the site.

Stupid, stupid Plaxico... Deadpool might do something dumb, but I shouldn't have any trouble out of Snake-Eyes.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Here Comes The BOOM: Monkeywrench

25th Anniversary Style Monkeywrench
Cock the glock to your head, let off about two in it. Yeah, it's a dirty job, but I just love doin' it...

Joining the ranks of my 25th Anniversary collection now is Monkeywrench, who was first introduced to the G.I. JOE line in 1986. Almost immediately after I bought a couple of figures for parts to work on this character, he showed up in Wal-Mart's inventory system as part of a forthcoming two-pack in the Rise Of Cobra movie line. I was annoyed at first, but also happy that a proper version was on the way. A few days later, images of a figure with a repainted Outback head were revealed, and I was suddenly happy I'd started gathering the pieces. I'm all for sensible reuse of tooling to create new characters from existing molds, but the key word there is sensible. Outback's head on Monkeywrench doesn't qualify.

25th Anniversary Style Monkeywrench
I did more kinds of war crimes, more times than in war times, went way before times...

With many thanks to customizer Mandingo Rex for the inspirational recipe:
  • Torso, waist, legs, and upper arms: comic pack Torch
  • Lower arms: comic pack Ripper
  • Head: STAR WARS Legacy Obi-Wan Kenobi
  • Bandolier: 2009 five-pack Snake-Eyes
  • Vest & sunglasses: Mutt Williams (deluxe version w/ motorcycle)
  • Weapon: ARAH Monkeywrench weapon
The hole in the bottom of Obi-Wan's head is bigger than the ball on Torch's neck, so I used Handi-Tak Reusable Adhesive to compensate. It will hold the head in place, but it's not permanent, so I can turn his head back and forth without removing it.

25th Anniversary Style Monkeywrench
You know what's sad, man? That I'm such a madman, bad man, with that BOOM you never had, man...

Here Comes The BOOM: Monkeywrench

Friday, May 29, 2009

21 Days

With just three weeks to go before HeroesCon 2009, here's a breakdown of some of the guests who'll be at this year's convention: You can check out some of what Ethan Van Sciver was kind enough to do at last year's HeroesCon.

Both of the Big Two publishers will have a presence there, and hopefully lots of information and goodies for everyone. And for G.I. JOE fans, this year's convention is going to be fully stocked with talent who've contributed to the property over the years:
  • Robert Atkins - Artist on IDW's 2009 G.I. JOE reboot.
  • Jeremy Dale - Artist on several of the comics released in 25th Anniversary two-packs.
  • Marc Deering
  • Tom Feister - Cover artist on IDW's G.I. JOE Origins.
  • S.L. Gallant - Artist on IDW's G.I. JOE and the movie prequel books.
  • Michael Golden - Artist behind the incredible cover of G.I. JOE Yearbook #2 (which I can't wait to get signed).
  • Rick Ketcham - Inker on IDW's G.I. JOE.
  • Eric Layton - Inker in DDP run.
  • Pat Quinn - Artist on G.I. JOE Declassified.
  • Rod Whigham - Artist on about two dozen issues of Marvel's G.I. JOE: A Real American Hero.
  • John 'Waki' Wycough - Inker on IDW's G.I. JOE.
And that's just a sample of who will be there. See the complete guest list for yourself, and start making plans to attend.
DC Nation

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Spark Mad Izm


Tuesday, March 31, 2009

G.I. JOE: The Rise Of Cobra Destro In-Hand

Okay, so I never do this, buy figures from China before they're officially released at retail. It's something I've always resisted, but when eBay seller ws_toys listed the movie version Destro figure on eBay, I gave in to temptation. The figure looks enough like the Destro I grew up with to make me want it, and for $15 shipped, I just couldn't pass on the opportunity. I was considering a similar item from another line last week, but when it broke the $100 range, I rediscovered my sense of willpower.

The Rise Of Cobra - DESTRO
When I'm finished, the world will never forget...

The figure itself is topnotch. All the paint is exactly as it should be, and the joints are nice and tight, but none of the articulated pieces stick. The design and constrcution picks up right where the 25th Anniversary line leaves off, with double-jointed knees and articulated ankles, hips, hands, elbows, shoulders, and neck. His shirt and coat collar are a separate piece, which gives Hasbro options if they want to use this body again. The head is not the reflective chrome look of the past, but closer to the metallic gray used in the Cobra five-pack from 2007. His dog tag stand has a Cobra emblem on the bottom, the kind of thing I'm sure I'd have worn around the neighborhood when I was eight years old. Like it or not, collectors, there are going to be kids who love these toys.

The Rise Of Cobra - DESTRO
What did you say your unit was called?

Destro comes with four weapons: A black pistol that fits in his removable shoulder holster, a gray pistol, a modular gray rifle that can be broken down into two parts, and a spring-loaded rocket launcher. I'm sure that last one will get some blood boiling, but the great thing about those weapons is that you can chuck them into the trash if you don't like them. I know that won't stop people from getting online to complain about them, but the option is always there. The gray pistol and rifle have pegs that fit into small holes on the sides of Destro's legs. From what I've seen, most of the movie figures share this design element. I think that would be my only real issue with them, when a holster would have made all the difference in the world.

The Rise Of Cobra - DESTRO
Destro with spring-loaded, rocket launching action...

I'm not expecting anything like The Dark Knight or Watchmen when G.I. JOE: The Rise Of Cobra hits theaters in August, nor would I have ever thought we'd get something like that from G.I. JOE, regardless of who writes, directs, or stars in a live-action version. It might be just fun enough to enjoy seeing some familiar concepts brought to the big screen for a couple of hours, though, especially when the ninjas take the spotlight. I'm not overly optimistic, though. That said, some of these toys that are coming out in the movie line look like a blast, and hopefully Destro here is just the beginning. I'm looking forward to seeing these at retailers this summer and adding a few more characters to my collection. If nothing else, I'm glad to see Hasbro giving movie lines the 3¾" treatment. Between these and the comic series X-Men Origins: Wolverine figures, it's a great year for the scale.

So stop your complaining about what Hasbro and Paramount are doing to your childhood, and just try to have some fun with the toys. Besides, your childhood was asking for it.

G.I. JOE: The Rise Of Cobra Destro In-Hand

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Move Over, G.I. Jane

Although I was puzzled by Hasbro's decision to invest in tooling for a new Lady Jaye figure this year, despite the fact she was already one of only three female characters in the 25th Anniversary line, it provided an opportunity to do something with the new body. This wasn't something I'd have bothered to do with the wave 2 Lady Jaye, since I already used that figure's upper torso for my custom 25th Zarana. It wouldn't have made a lot of sense to have multiple females running around Cobra Island with that same look, but this new body invited an easy repaint.

G.I. JOE 25th Anniversary female Viper Officer
Behind a gun, I'll make my final stand...

The 2009 G.I. JOE five-pack Lady Jaye's green uniform was painted blue, and her boots, gloves, belt, and knees were painted black. She wasn't originally intended to have kneepads, but black paint and the double-jointed knees make for a simple conversion. The removable belt, knife sheath on her chest, and satchel from the five-pack Shipwreck were painted burgandy. Top it off with a head swap from the single carded Viper, and she's ready to lead her guys into a firefight.

Custom 25th Female Viper Officer
Bad Company, till the day I die...

The Female Viper Officer is armed with a Heckler & Koch XM8, available from Marauder "Gun-Runners" as the High-Tech Assault Rifle w/ Removable Ammo clip.

Move Over, G.I. Jane

Friday, March 20, 2009

All In The Family: Conclusion

While I spent more time than I care to admit working on these customs, I'd happily toss them in a box and stuff it in the back of a closet if Hasbro would release a properly updated version of Zarana and finally get around to producing a Zanya figure. I haven't yet decided if I'll attempt to come up with Zartan's brother, Zandar. I have a base body set aside for it, but I'm just not sure I'm up to the challenge. I think some actual sculpting would be required just to make it passable, and I had enough difficulty with the painting. That's what keeps me from trying customs of Monkeywrench (check out this one by Gunslingercbr to see how he should look), Road Pig, and Thrasher, too. My only real hope for those characters is that Hasbro decides to kick out with some more Dreadnok goodness once they decide to explore some classics again after the upcoming Rise Of Cobra film.

G.I. JOE 25th Anniversary Zartan Family
A snapshot in the family album...

Speaking of the movie toys, I have some ideas I want to try with some of those characters. I haven't seen a figure yet that look as though it will work in my display as is (a couple of the vehicles are another story), but I can definitely appropriate some of the new heads. I'm really looking forward to the Heavy Duty figure, and not because I want Heavy Duty, but because I think his body style and uniform have a lot of potential for something completely different. Depending on what Marvel Universe releases in the way of female characters, I'm hoping that I'll be able to come up with a decent recipe for Jinx.

All In The Family: Conclusion

Related entries:
All In The Family: Zartan
All In The Family: Zarana
All In The Family: Zanya

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

All In The Family: Zanya

Once I was nearly finished with Zarana, I still had a desire to continue. I knew I wanted Zartan's daughter, Zanya, to go with my Dreadnoks, but where would I start? There are only three females in the line, and I've already combined parts from Scarlett and Lady Jaye to create Zarana. Baroness is the only remaining female, and she's really not much of a starting point for Zanya. It then occurred to me that I really didn't need the same articulation as what's used on the 25th Anniversary G.I. JOE figures; the most important thing was scale. I ventured into my collection room, started digging through some loose figures, and found my base: the "Arena Escape" Padmé Amidala from Attack Of The Clones. Sure, she's one of those figures that's already posed, but that was more than acceptable for my purposes. She'll eventually be used in a diorama, and she likely would have ended up in a similar pose, anyway. Not a perfect solution, but certainly better than any alternative Hasbro has offered in the modern G.I. JOE line.

I used this Dreadnoks poster and images from the pages of Devil's Due Publishing's Dreadnoks: Declassified for reference. I painted her shirt (including Padmé's sleeveless arm) purple first, and then painted over that with black, intentionally leaving the black coverage thin in some areas to recreate the effect of the colors in the DDP comic series. Her pants were painted with two coats of green, and I removed a little bit of paint from a couple of spots by touching it with my finger to create "holes" in them. I went back over those areas with a flesh color. The boots were painted black, followed by some drybrushing with brown to create the "dirty" look. The belt, holster, hands, and hair were painted black, and then I went over parts of her hair with green after that was dry. Getting the lips and eyebrows right was the most difficult part, but I've since invested in some brushes that will make that sort of thing easier in the future.

G.I. JOE 25th Anniversary Zanya
I've been a bad, bad girl...

Faced with my severe artistic limitations yet again, it was now time to add a DDP Dreadnoks logo to her shirt. What you see is actually my first attempt, and it came out better than I had expected. A découpage solution would have been preferable, but the surface of her chest wasn't smooth enough to accomodate it. I wasn't going for precise detail, but just a recognizable shape, and I think I managed to accomplish that.

Custom 25th Zanya
Feelin' like a criminal...

Zanya's bike is the Fat Ride from Mattel's Hot Wheels 1:18 Moto line, with Cobra decals from ReproLabels.com.

Zanya is armed with an M1911A1 45, available from Marauder "Gun-Runners".

All In The Family: Zanya

Related entries:
All In The Family: Zartan
All In The Family: Zarana
All In The Family: Conclusion

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

All In The Family: Zarana

When Hasbro made it clear that they had no plans to release an updated version of Zartan's sister, Zarana, in the 25th Anniversary G.I. JOE line, I looked back at the photo I took of their custom figure of the character from JoeCon 2007. The parts were easy to identify: Scarlett's head, arms, and legs, and Lady Jaye's torso. That was a good start, but I really didn't like the way Scarlett's arms looked when painted to be sleeveless. I thought Zarana could use a bit of an update, too, so I decided to go with a combination of the original look and the Devil's Due Publishing design. I switched to Lady Jaye's arms and substituted Scarlett's lower torso for Lady Jaye's, which allowed for a crop top. I painted her boots black with a bit of brown drybrushing to give them a "dirty" look. I also added Lady Jaye's removable holster belt and painted the handle of her pistol pink so Zarana could accessorize a little. I originally used Scarlett's head, but since she was one of the few members of the G.I. JOE team I had opened for my display of loose figures, I really wanted a unique head for Zarana. That led me to this head from Alyosha's Broken Arrow Toys. Here's the end result:

G.I. JOE 25th Anniversary Zarana
I know you're a bad, bad woman...

One of the things that distinguished G.I. JOE from other toy lines in the '80s was the diversity of the characters, but that hasn't been reflected as well as it could have been since the 25th Anniversary line was introduced in '07. So far, we have three black males (Roadblock, Stalker, and Alpine), three white females (Scarlett, Lady Jaye, and Baroness), four male characters of Asian ancestry (Storm Shadow [Japanese-American], Quick Kick [Japanese and Korean], Tunnel Rat [Chinese], and the Hard Master [Japanese]), two Native American males (Spirit Iron-Knife & Airborne), and one presumably Polynesian male (Torpedo). That's a total of thirteen characters, ten of whom are males. Compare that to nearly sixty unique white males, not to mention the armies of white Cobra Troopers, Officers, and Vipers in all their various incarnations. Honestly, how hard would it be for Hasbro to thrown in a few black Cobra Troopers here and there? No new tooling is required. Anyway, the line desperately needs more female characters, which was part of my motivation for trying my hand with Zarana and the subject of my next entry, which I'll post in a day or two.

As I mentioned the other day, I truly lack even a hint of artistic ability, so the concept would definitely benefit from having a more skilled painter at the other end of the brush. For my purposes, though, Zarana will suffice, at least until Hasbro finally gets around to releasing an official version. If they don't, though, my display will be fine with this attempt at Zartan's sister.

Custom 25th Zarana
Good enough for me...

Zarana's bike is the Psycholoco from Mattel's Hot Wheels 1:18 Moto line, with Cobra decals from ReproLabels.com.

Zarana is armed with a Heckler & Koch UMP, available as the Tactical Assault Rifle w/ Removable Ammo clip from Marauder "Gun-Runners".

All In The Family: Zarana

Related entries:
All In The Family: Zartan
All In The Family: Zanya
All In The Family: Conclusion

Friday, March 13, 2009

All In The Family: Zartan

My favorite G.I. JOE character since his introduction in 1984, Zartan finally got the figure he deserved in 2007's 25th Anniversary line. While I loved my original as a kid (I detailed the experience of obtaining that figure on my Must-Haves For Collectors page), the older I got, the more annoyed I became with his appearance. The half shirt look is decidedly dated (to be polite about it), but even more ridiculous was the fact that his crop top body armor had short "sleeves" that weren't even connected to the torso piece. It made no sense, and the figure suffers greatly for it. That didn't change my feelings about the character or his story in the Marvel Comic title, but when Devil's Due Publishing got their hands on the G.I. JOE license, they gave Zartan a properly updated costume. Thankfully, and much to the chagrin of fans perpetually stuck in the '80s, it was something very similar to this look that Hasbro chose for Zartan in the 25th Anniversary line. It combines the chest armor with a long-sleeve shirt under it, making it much easier to take this assassin and master of disguise seriously. Hasbro later acquiesced to the kind of collectors who long for the days of Top Gun, Reaganomics, and hair mousse overdoses, releasing a second version last year. In my G.I. JOE universe, though, this is Zartan.

G.I. JOE 25th Anniversary Zartan
Got the two glocks with oowops, the bodies traced in chalk...

Hasbro also released three members of Zartan's gang, the Dreadnoks: Buzzer, Ripper, and Torch. As great as it is to have a modern era display of Zartan & the Dreadnoks, some key members are still missing. Classics like Monkeywrench, Road Pig, and Thrasher still haven't made it into the new line, but even more crucial are Zartan's siblings and offspring, Zarana, Zandar, and Zanya. After Hasbro repeatedly said no to the question of producing these characters, I took it upon myself to add Zartan's sister and daugther to my collection, anyway. Now I've never really done anything with action figure customizing, and I have all the artistic ability of a hyena after a week-long methamphetamine binge. With the combined limits of inexperience and being utterly devoid of talent, I knew this was going to be a challenge, but I gave it a shot. Over the next few days, I'll share the results of my efforts.

Zartan's bike is the Rollin' Thunder from Mattel's Hot Wheels 1:18 Moto line, with Cobra decals from ReproLabels.com.

Zartan is armed with two HK USPs, available as the "Tactical" Automatic Pistol from Marauder "Gun-Runners".

All In The Family: Zartan

Related entries:
All In The Family: Zarana
All In The Family: Zanya
All In The Family: Conclusion

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Manifest Destiny

Expansion across the internet was as inevitable as the sunrise, but it's official: I'm now also blogging over at ActionFigureInsider.com, too. Why? Because they asked, Daniel and Jason are two of the best and most knowledgeable guys in the hobby, and there's a great team of collectors already blogging over there. The group is too good to pass up a chance to join. It's like the Legion of Doom, but with pants. I hope. My initial contribution is a lesson in Geekonomics 101, a bit of advice for collectors in today's economic recession. You'll be able to get to that and all future installments here, but I encourage you to just visit the main Action Figure Insider blog page and check out all the other guys' entries, too. You'll see pictures of customs and collections, be entertained, and learn a thing or two about a thing or two while you're there.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Sign Here, Please: Larry Hama

Having already been indoctrinated in the ways of the Force since just after my birth, I was introduced to something new at the age of five in 1982. That was the year I received my first G.I. JOE figures, Breaker and Snake-Eyes. Breaker was pretty cool, but not the most exciting toy in the world. Snake-Eyes, on the other hand, was more than just an ordinary soldier toy. He was dressed in all black, and he wore a mask. A soldier who wears a mask must be badass, right? I was intrigued, and it wasn't long before I realized there were monthly adventures to be followed in G.I. JOE from Marvel Comics. Issues #2-#10 held my attention (I didn't get a copy of #1 for a few years), but things really picked up in the teens. Characters like Destro, Dr. Venom, and Scar-Face were introduced. Betrayal occurs in the ranks of Cobra, and Baroness suffers for it. Something else happend when the series got to issue #21, though, a chapter without even a single word of dialogue. It had already been established that Snake-Eyes didn't speak, but this was a silent issue, and it introduced Storm Shadow, the Cobra ninja. Ninjas? Really? I was hooked.

I followed the series for years. Zartan and the Dreadnoks came next, and as the origins of Snake-Eyes, Storm Shadow, Zartan, and Cobra Commander were fleshed out, I grew increasingly eager for each month's new installment. When the animated series debuted in 1985, it was a tremendous disappointment. This cartoon was nothing like the comics I had been reading! '85 was also the year I really got into DC Comics. I had always loved Batman, and I already had several of the Super Powers figures, but the Super Friends and Super Friends: The Legendary Super Powers Show cartoons were the media fueling my interest. Once I read Crisis On Infinite Earths, I knew there was more to superheroes than what those shows could offer.

But even as I read titles with Batman, Superman, Firestorm, and the Justice League, it was G.I. JOE I read religiously. I could not miss an issue of that book. The stories weren't talking down to me like the animation was, they provided me with history and character development, and people actually got hit by bullets (not lasers!) in combat. This meant something to me. I didn't want to see parachutes every time an aircraft was lost in battle; I wanted consequences. Larry Hama, who wrote an amazing 149 of the 155 issues (in addition to over two dozen issues of G.I. JOE: Special Missions and most of the file cards from Hasbro's line of action figures), provided them.

It was Mr. Hama's work that most inspired me as a youth to take English and creative writing seriously in school, his storytelling that made me want to be a writer. I've only had one piece of fiction published, but I have managed to earn a living in the past as a proofreader and as a copywriter, and that likely would not be the case if I hadn't been so greatly influenced by Mr. Hama. When it was announced that he would be a guest the 2007 G.I. JOE Collectors' Convention in Atlanta, there was no way I was going to pass up the opportunity to meet a creator who'd had such an impact on me. Sure, I wanted to see the new 25th Anniversary action figures that were being shown for the first time, and I wanted to experience the convention itself, but my primary motivation in making the trip was a chance to meet Mr. Hama. I no longer have the G.I. JOE #21 I had as a kid, but I had replaced my old copy of G.I. JOE Yearbook #3, which contains the second silent story. I took it with me to Atlanta to have it signed by Mr. Hama.

Larry Hama: G.I. JOE Yearbook #3

After so many years of admiring his writing, meeting Mr. Hama, who was both friendly and humble, is a memory I will always keep with me.

There are several writers and artists I hope to meet at some point, creators like Frank Miller, Bruce Timm, Paul Dini, Jeph Loeb, Brad Meltzer, Tony Isabella, Grant Morrison, and Dennis O'Neil. I'm thinking of making the trip to NYCC next fall, so maybe I'll get a chance to scratch a couple of those guys off my list.

Sign Here, Please: Larry Hama

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Sign Here, Please: Matt Wagner

One of my favorite artists to draw Batman in the last decade also happens to be one of my favorite writers to script his adventures. Matt Wagner's Batman and the Monster Men and Batman and the Mad Monk are modernizations of Golden Age Batman stories, reaching back to the Dark Knight's early career with two tales that occur during the timeline of Batman: Year One. The former depicts Batman's first confrontation with Hugo Strange, while the latter involves the Caped Crusader's first encounter with the supernatural. Both are equally fantastic, but perhaps even better is 2003's Trinity, which covers the first meeting of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. The story is terrific, and Mr. Wagner provides what is probably the most beautiful artwork in superhero comics today.

I am always impressed with the successful execution of a writer/director in movies, a filmmaker who crafts the story from start to finish. The same is true for a writer/artist in comics. Not that collaborative efforts don't result in great books, but one person handling both tasks ensures that there is no disconnect between the intent of the author and the interpretation of the artist. When I had a chance to meet Mr. Wagner at HeroesCon last year, I brought my Trinity hardcover to have signed. Like Ethan Van Sciver, he did more than simply sign the book. See for yourself:

Matt Wagner: Trinity

The few extra seconds Mr. Wagner took to sketch out the Big Three put this book near the top of all my collectibles. I enjoyed meeting him, and it's always nice to find out someone so talented is also very down-to-earth and friendly.

One more installment left for tomorrow, and I've saved the most important for last.

Sign Here, Please: Matt Wagner

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Sign Here, Please: Ethan Van Sciver

Next on my Superman/Batman list is Ethan Van Sciver, the man behind all the fantastic Green Lantern art of the last four years. After seeing what he did with Hal Jordan, my curiosity was obviously piqued when he was announced for a brief run on Superman/Batman. His work on the first three issues of the "Enemies Among Us" story is simply astounding. Not that Matthew Clark's pages in the second half the story were subpar or anything, but Van Sciver's drawings just jump right off the page at you. He's definitely among my top ten favorites in the industry today, so I was happy for the chance to have him sign my "Enemies Among Us" hardcover at HeroesCon 2008. What really got me, though, was how he autographed the book:

Ethan Van Sciver: Superman/Batman Vol 5

What I found so impressive was how quickly and casually he sketched the Dark Knight. I realize it's something he does just about every day, but for someone without a shred of artistic ability like me, it's really fun to watch. Seriously, I can't even draw a stick figure. I also bought a wicked Black Lightning print from Mr. Van Sciver, but the guys who sell the top-loading print holders had sold out of the size it requires, so I have it put away for safe keeping until this year's con. Anyway, there's more to come from last year's HeroesCon, including another incredible sketch-o-graph.

Sign Here, Please: Ethan Van Sciver

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Sign Here, Please: Ed McGuinness & Dexter Vines

Going back to what I said in the previous post about the significance of meeting creators, I'm not one to chase down an artist or writer's signature just for the sake of having it. I'm not one to set a stack of fifty comics in front of a guy and expect him to sign all of them, either, but I digress. There are plenty of names from comics I've truly enjoyed over the years, but never thought to have them sign anything, even when they were a guest at an event I attended. For me, it's my core favorites that motivate me to seek an autograph. Near the top of those favorites is Ed McGuinness; in fact, I have the cover art from Superman/Batman Secret Files & Origins 2003 permanently inked on my right arm.

Getting my Superman/Batman Volume 1 hardcover signed was a priority in 2006, when both Mr. McGuinness and inker Dexter Vines were appearing in Charlotte. Mr. Vines was first, as he was signing and doing sketches at Heroes Aren't Hard To Find on Free Comic Book Day in 2006. After being forced to cancel in '05, Mr. McGuinness was a guest at HeroesCon in 2006, giving me the opportunity to add his signature to the book and pick up a signed print, too. I love the exaggerated style he brings to superhero comics, and I'm a big fan of the Superman/Batman series in general, so this was a nice score. I can't say the pleasure was all mine, either, as Mr. McGuinness got a real kick out of seeing my tattoo, even pulling other artists away from their signing tables to gloat. At some point, I'm hoping to complete the hat-trick by adding Jeph Loeb's signature to the cover.

Ed McGuinness & Dexter Vines: Superman/Batman Vol 1

Warren Ellis was signing at HeroesCon that same year, but the line was unreal. I just didn't feel like spending a whole day of the con waiting around in it, but maybe I should have. I don't know that I'll ever get another chance to have Ellis sign something. Live and learn!

Sign Here, Please: Ed McGuinness & Dexter Vines

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Sign Here, Please: Dwayne McDuffie

While I only have a few, I'm very pleased with my small collection of autographed comics. I've never bought a signed book, and I never will. There's no appeal in that for me. While the signature on the book is cool, what I like so much about it is the experience it represents, having met a writer or artist in person. Over the next few days, I'll share some of the ones I've managed to obtain, starting with Milestone Media cofounder Dwayne McDuffie.

While I'd always enjoyed Mr. McDuffie's work in comics (especially stuff like Hardware, Static, and Blood Syndicate), it was his writing on Justice League and Justice League Unlimited that really hooked me as a dedicated fan for life. When it was announced that he would be appearing at Cine Noir in Wilmington, NC, I immediately began making plans to attend. Winner of the Trailblazer Award in 2006, Mr. McDuffie hosted a "Superhero Cinema" panel, showing episodes of Static Shock and answering questions from the audience. I had the opportunity to pick his brain a bit more over lunch before I headed back to Charlotte, and it was a lot of fun to spend time chatting with a creator whose fiction has been such a great source of entertainment for me over the years.

My original plan was to bring a Static Shock DVD for him to sign, but I decided instead to go with the one-shot Fantastic Four Special he'd written. I'm not much of a Marvel fan in general, but in an old Marvel "Pro File" on McDuffie from a Marvel bulletin page in the '80s, he listed his, "greatest unfulfilled ambition in the comics field," as writing Fantastic Four. For that reason, the one-shot book seemed like the best choice.

Dwayne McDuffie Fantastic Four Special

Sign Here, Please: Dwayne McDuffie