Con Report: Wizard World Richmond 2016

wizardworldrichmond9wizardworldrichmond10I meant to do this last week, but didn’t get around to finishing it—started it, just didn’t finish it. Had a great time, though, at the Richmond Wizard World.

I traveled to Richmond with daughter, Brittany…via motor vehicle. Yes, all ten and a half hours! wizardworldrichmond7Quite the drive. We arrived just in time to not be able to unload at the loading dock! So we had to hoof it all the way from the parking deck pulling my convention set-up. Friday was an incredibly dead day. Not sure exactly why, could have been “the races.” I have no idea what those were, but when we checked in to the hotel they asked if we were here for “the races.” I assured them I had no idea what that was and was there for the comic show.

wizardworldrichmond5Saturday was better, but only after Gene Simmons stopped talking. The doors opened at 9am, but nobody—and I mean NOBODY hit the floor until shortly after 9:30, which is when Gene stopped answering questions. After that, though, Saturday turned into a fun day with a lot of traffic. This time, I was able to snap some photos of some proud new owners of assorted works of mine (see all the photos attached!). wizardworldrichmond8I’m hopeful—as I asked them all to do so—they’ll drop me a line to let me know what they think.

I was next to Jose Delbo, too, and it was nice to chat with him and his family. I’d never met him before and aside from being talented, he was incredibly nice!

Me and Danny Fingeroth!

Me and Danny Fingeroth!

I sat in on a fun panel moderated by Danny Fingeroth about comic writing. Also on the panel were Gary Cohn, Victor Dandridge and Michael Lent. (wish I had a picture of that, but I don’t…sorry) Danny always puts on fun panels and so I’m glad he continues to ask me to participate.

I got to meet Sam Jones, who most of you will know as Flash Gordon from the 1980s sci-fi piece Flash Gordon, complete with soundtrack by Queen. Now, normally I’m not really into the media personalities.wizardworldrichmond4 I mean, it’s cool they’re there and all, but there’s pretty much no one I want to meet so desperately that I’d pay $30 for a photo with them. I saw a “break” in the line with Sam Jones, so I really just went up to tell him I appreciate his work on Flash…and the dude ended up being one of the nicest folks ever!

wizardworldrichmond6A highlight of the weekend was having dinner with Todd Fisher and the super-talented Larry Elmore. Elmore is from Kentucky and we talked about all sorts of fun southern stuff. I’d met him before, sometime back in the late 80s or early 90s, but never had the opportunity to “hang out.” Brittany and I hadn’t planned to even hang out because of being tired from the drive, but when the night was over, we were very glad we did!

Brittany, Me, Ashley, Larry Elmore, Todd Fischer

Brittany, Me, Ashley, Larry Elmore, Todd Fischer

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Wizard World Richmond

Gonna be a short blog this time around—I’m still looking for ways to find more hours in my week, but none of you are offering any suggestions!

This weekend I’m back on the convention circuit as a comic book guest at Wizard World in Richmond, Virginia. I’m very excited to be attending as it will be my very first ever comic show in Virginia—heck, in that entire neck of the woods!

Hopefully those in the region will stop by and say hello. You can find me in Artists Alley at Booth B33. I’ll be there aided by my lovely daughter.

The show starts today (that’s Friday, Sep 9, for those of you reading it later) at 3pm and runs until 8pm. 9am until 7pm on Saturday; and then 10am until 4pm on Sunday.

On Sunday, I’ll be participating in a panel with a host of exceptionally cool and talented folks! From 2:00 until 2:45, former Marvel Spider-Man editor Danny Fingeroth with host the panel Words Into Pictures: How to Write Comics. As I said, I’ll be joining him, but also on the panel will be Blue Devil’s Gary Cohn, Prey’s Michael Lent, and Wizard World rock start U Cre-8’s own Victor Dandridge! The panel will take place in room E11.

So, come on out and see me. Pick up some books. Get an autograph or two! It’s always fun! I’ll see you there!

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That happy summer magazine

With kickoff to the new season of football starting…today! (we’re talking college football, ya bums, which is the only football that really matters!) I thought I’d yak about it a bit.

NewMadridEarthquake1990Some years ago—long before the internet and email—I used to receive regular packages from my dad full of newspaper clippings of assorted stories of interest and sports pages. Now, he didn’t just save me all the sports pages, but only the ones that had news about the Arkansas Razorback football team. Back in the pre-internet days, it was very difficult to get news of my favorite team because I was outside the state of Arkansas. In fact, when I was living in California, during football season I’d get a vhs tape around Thursday that had the game from the previous weekend in addition to the sports pages.

I absolutely loved getting those packages. I’d read up the papers, watch the game…and often I’d call dad. This was in the day when you had to pay for your long distance call by the minute, so our football conversations were often brief.

Dad used to send me the summer preview edition of Hawgs Illustrated, which is loaded with roster/player/coaching info to get Razorback fans hyped about the upcoming season…after he was finished. Somewhere along the way—and I don’t remember exactly when—I got a copy in the mail addressed to me! And it was NEW! I called and asked Dad if he’d sent me a copy because I was confused why the publisher was sending me one…and he said he’d ordered me a copy when he ordered his copy. One year my magazine even came with a post-it note attached that said something like “From Dad.”

He’s been doing that every year since.

My happy summer magazine, courtesy of my dad!

My happy summer magazine, courtesy of my dad!

And it’s STILL a happy surprise to get the magazine in the mail…mostly because it reminds me that my dad was thinking about me when he ordered his copy.

Thanks, Dad!

Here’s to a fun football season! Go Hogs, WPS!

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Review of a couple of freebies from SDCC

As many of you know, San Diego Comic Con is now a hot spot for freebies and exclusives. I’m a comic purest enough that I have no idea what special toy items were there…and I don’t really care. But man, the lines were long for some of them. Thousands of attendees lined up for the freebies in many of the major booths. I walked by the DC booth once to see a well-oiled freebie machine as con attendees were walking through at a steady pace receiving free DC swag from several staffers. Actually, a pretty impressive site.

Even though I wasn’t after any of that, I managed to grab a couple of free comics simply by walking by and having a copy offered to me. I gladly took them, of course. Free comics!

AfterworldTwo such free comics were Colonel Corps by DC Comics and Afterworld by Panini. I read both of them and though they may “look” similar in quality, they are far from it.

I read Afterworld first because it looked a bit cooler than a comic with multiple KFC Colonels. The cover featured a shirtless barbarian wielding a nasty axe preparing to take on a few soldiers. Even flipping through the book, the art is actually pretty good. I have no idea who any of the creators are: Stefano Vietti=script; Gianluca Gugliotta=art; Stefano Simeone=colors. All of the names other names (editors, etc) are Italian, so this may very well be a comic made in Italy and translated for the American market. That’s purely a guess, though.

Wait. Did I say “translated?” Silly me. In the 12 pages of art, there are only 254 words…and that includes the sound effects and “to be continued.” That averages to about 22 words per page.

And there’s the problem. I have no idea where the story takes place. I have no idea who the barbarian is. I have no idea why the soldiers are after him. I have no idea how he goes from defeating the soldiers to suddenly finding himself in a cage.

And then, when I learn the “story” is continued…I just don’t care.

At the end of page 7, we suddenly get some first person narrative of the main barbarian character who wonders how one of the enemy soldiers can be quick…or disappear. We, of course, never learn which it was. Like I said, I just don’t care.

KFC02Colonel Corps claims to be the 2nd issue…and it may very well be, but I’d never heard of it before. That said, even though this story was silly-goofy, I always knew who the characters were and where they were doing what they were doing: Evil Colonel Sunder stole the secret recipe and split it unto parts with alternate world good Colonels getting a single part. Good Colonel has to put together a team of Colonels (the Colonel Corps) and stop evil Colonel Sunder and get the missing parts of the recipe back). And this story had a multitude of characters, so of the two, I SHOULD be confused in this one.

But I wasn’t. Of course, it shouldn’t surprise me because it was written by Tony Bedard with art supplied by Tom Derenick (pencils) and Trevor Scott (inks). Derenick is a solid visual story-teller and Bedard knows what’s necessary in the text for the reader. It’s not over-written by any stretch of the imagination, it’s just nicely done!

As a side note, Colonel Corps also has a nice homage cover to the JLA #1 cover by Kevin Maguire.

Of the two freebies, Afterworld was a waste of dead trees while Colonel Corps was a fun read. And no, you can’t have my copy!

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A health victory

If you’ve seen any of my posts on Facebook in the last year or so, you know there have been a lot of changes in health and such in the Mann household. I’ll never get it all right because I don’t pay near as much attention to it as I should. So I want to be sure that I give all the credit where credit is due, and that is to my lovely wife, BJ. She’s the one who grabbed the bull by the horns and said we were getting it done!

So some time back, my cholesterol was as high as 378. Yep. Scary. (For those who might not know, anything above 200 is considered “high”) I started taking one of the statins…and it came down, but only to about 330ish. Once we moved to Orlando, I just let my prescription lapse. Oh. Each time, the docs told me to lose some weight.

Nearly two years ago, BJ got introduced to Essential Oils. She wanted to give it a shot and help us stop taking so many over the counter drugs (advil, suda—stuff[sinus issues run amok!] Tylenol, etc). So we did…and they have played a big part of our entire get healthy journey. We’ve spent less than $50 this last year on prescription drugs (if that). And yeah, we bought Essential Oils, but the thing about them is that they are all natural.

Last year, after…ahem…an important birthday, I did the checkup…you know, rotate the tires and get the oil changed. My cholesterol was high—again. And the doc pulled out a calculator and gave me some pretty scary numbers…percentages or heart issues if I did nothing…and then numbers for if I changed things. The old role-playing gamer in me hated the percentages she was giving me, so we got busy. We changed how we ate, we drank more water, took some essential oil supplements and walked some (though we haven’t walked hardly at all since May—it’s HOT here!)

In January of this year, I had my cholesterol checked and it was 136. It was lower than 200 for the first time since around 2003! I’m now down about 12 pounds, but would still like to lose another 20-25ish.

One of the most difficult things I’ve done is “quit” drinking coke. Every other time I’ve tried, I’ve failed. So my approach this time was a little different. I decided I wasn’t going to “quit,” but was going to drastically cut back. As part of our eating change, BJ got us drinking water…a LOT of water. I’m trying to drink about a gallon of water a day. And yes, that means I make a lot of trips to the john…but I still like what it’s doing for me health-wise. I gotta tell you, it was extremely difficult at first—but water is just boring to me. After about two weeks, though, it got easier. I still drink cokes, but I consider them more of a treat, now. So I don’t feel like I’ve “failed” or “cheated” when I have them…I just try not to drink too much of them.

BJ talks more about the nitty-gritty details over on her site: drmomknowsbest.com. I’m not as concerned about all the details, but she’s up on all of it. Me, I pretty much just eat what she tells me—and I’ve seen the results so I know what we’re doing this time is working.

In all of this…our family has been healthier than we’ve ever been. Yeah, we still have the occasional thing (I still have sinus based headaches, but not like I used to get them—and certainly not the migraines which I truly believe were primarily caused by nutrasweet found in diet cokes!), but on the whole, we’re healthier than ever.

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San Diego Comic Con 2016 report

Me with Hank Kanalz

Me with Hank Kanalz

Me with Kurtis Fujita, Larry Welch, and Diana Fujita.

Me with Kurtis Fujita, Larry Welch, and Diana Fujita.

I went to San Diego Comic Con last week for the first time since 1999. There’s far too much excitement to be contained in a single blog post (and too many pictures!)…but I’m going to do it anyway!

First, I had the opportunity to go thanks to Barry Gregory and Thomas Florimonte, my pals who also happen to be co-owners of the premier comic POD (Print on demand) company in the US, Ka-Blam! And I wouldn’t have been able to accompany them without the support of my fantastic boss, Noelani Cornell. I gotta admit, it’s pretty cool to actually be appreciated for my comic industry ties (instead of having to hide it at my previous university teaching positions).

Me with Alan Payne

Me with Alan Payne

Me and Ross Richie

Me and Ross Richie

Thomas and I left Wednesday morning of the convention and arrived at SD not long after lunch (I thought I was arriving much later, but that’s another story). Barry was there waiting on us and already all set up in the Indy Comic section. Wednesday was basically “attendees trying to get free and exclusive crap.” And some of the booths had it down to a science—the DC Comics booth moved people through like a ride a Universal!

Me with Jim Chadwick

Me with Jim Chadwick

Me with Dave Dorman

Me with Dave Dorman

Most people told me that I would be surprised at how “different” the show was. Maybe it was because of that, but it didn’t really strike me as that much different than 1999, only far bigger. Yeah, there were a lot of booths of things about which I had no clue (mostly tv shows) and all the madness that is Hall H was away from the convention floor—which is where I pretty much always spent my time anyway…so, to me, it was the same, but bigger…but it was MUCH bigger!

Me with Nat Gertler

Me with Nat Gertler

Me with UV Superfan Michael Novotny, Dave Olbrich, and Tom Mason.

Me with UV Superfan Michael Novotny, Dave Olbrich, and Tom Mason.

There were far too many people I caught up with to compile a complete list here, but some of those I got to see and catch up with included Ross Richie, Hank Kanalz, Bobbie Chase, Kurtis Fujita (and his lovely bride, Diana), Alan Payne, Scott Rosenberg, Dan Nakrosis, Larry Welch, and Bob Schreck. I saw a bunch of people I just got to say a quick “hello” to without catching up—and that was still cool: Joe Phillips, Julie Anne Wight, Dave Dorman, Tom Mason, Mickie Villa, Dave Olbrich, Nat Gertler, Marv Wolfman, Howard Chaykin, Aaron Lopresti, Darick Robertson, Terry Dodson, Robert Roach and I’m sure I’m leaving some out.

Me with Julie Anne Wight

Me with Julie Anne Wight

Mostly, I spent the show catching up with friends and hanging out at the Gallant table (where Barry debuted a cool new action figure!) and Mike Hefforn of Archblue’s table.

I also got to meet some cool indy comic creators I didn’t know before the show. In fact, we hung out a bit and had a fun time: Mike Heffron, James Heffron, Steve Bryant, and Chris Murrin. They even invited us to participate in their traditional end of con debriefing!

Steve Bryant, Chris Murrin, James Heffron, Me, Barry Gregory, Thomas Florimonte

Steve Bryant, Chris Murrin, James Heffron, Me, Barry Gregory, Thomas Florimonte

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Paragould Arkansas: Friendly Neighborhood Comic Expo

Hey all my NE Arkansas friends, family, and fans! I’ll be appearing as a COMIC GUEST at the Friendly Neighborhood Comic Expo this Saturday and Sunday in Paragould, Arkansas. It has the longest show hours of any show I’ve ever been to: Saturday is listed as 9am to 9pm and then Sunday from 9am until 7pm.

ParagouldFNCEOn Sunday, I’ll have my very own Q&A, which starts at 12pm—that’s noon for those of you who (like me), have a hard time remembering exactly if 12pm is noon or midnight. It’s noon, so show up and ask me some fun questions about working in comics as a writer or an editor…or about my cool day job teaching comic writing these days at Full Sail University!

This will be about my fourth time to appear as a guest at a show in the state of Arkansas, but only the second time as a “comic” guest and certainly the first in this part of the state. The first time I was a comic guest in the great state of Arkansas was in either 1999 or 2000 and was in Little Rock. I think the name of the show was “RockCon,” but I can’t find my notes from then, so I’m not sure. I DO remember that whoever it was putting on the show, treated me well.

The next time I was a guest was in 2010, and I was the Keynote Speaker at the Arkansas Writers Conference in Little Rock. My invite there, of course, was thanks to the writing retreats I’d done at the Hemingway Writers Retreats at the Hemingway-Pfieffer Museum and Education Center in Piggott, Arkansas. You can read about my fun experience as Keynote Speaker here: https://rolandmann.wordpress.com/2010/06/08/at-the-arkansas-writers’-conference/

I returned to Arkansas as an author guest in February of 2011 at Ozarks University in Clarksdale. Regrettably, it snowed that weekend and very few people attended the actual show. However, I still had a great time because I got to meet new people and make new writerly/artist friends.

So I’m very much looking forward to being a comic guest in Paragould. I’ve got a lot of family and friends in the surrounding area—my cousin (first cousin, for those of you keeping score), Dr. Kevin Mann is even a dentist in the area—so I’m hoping to see many of them during the two days.

As a diehard Razorback fan, I’d really like to be invited to do more comic shows in this state–hint hint to all you comic show coordinators!

See you Saturday and/or Sunday! Bring some stuff for me to sign, or pick something up from me there!

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