Tag Archives: Malibu Comics

Catch-up con report

Brittany, Chris Ulm, and me at SDCC2017

I haven’t done a con report since MegaCon, and that was back in June. So this will be a catch-up Con report!

In July I did the Orlando Collect-A-Con in Altemonte Springs. It was a fun show and I’m already planning a return there for next year! Also in July, I went out to San Diego Comic Con for the second year in a row (thanks to my buddies at Ka-Blam!). I got to see many old pals, including my former boss and Malibu Editor-in-Chief, Chris Ulm!

Steven Butler, Barry Gregory, me, John Crowther

I was no sooner back from SDCC when my other old pal, Steven Butler was in town for a convention in Tampa. I rode out there with old pal Barry Gregory and we were joined by new pal John Crowther for a fun dinner and lively chat!

In early August, Jeff Whiting and I made the long trip up to Pikeville, KY for the inaugural Pikeville ComicCon. We had a blast. What an awesome first show it was. Got the chance to meet a lot of new people there. Got my fingers crossed for an invite back to the second one—yes, it was that cool of a show!

Stephen Rosys, Jeff Whiting, Cody Barker, Todd Goodman, Mike W. Belcher, Me, Aiden Belcher

In late August, I went to the Orlando Infinity Con. This was my second time to be there and this is one of the closest ones to my home, so it’s very easy to do.

I had planned to do the Lake Collect-A-Con in October, a show I’ve done before and look forward to doing again, but my band chaperone mishap the day before (you can read about it here if you missed it) kept me from attending. Yes, I basically laid around the house and moaned all day. If you don’t believe me, ask BJ. I’ve been to LCAC twice, and I’m looking forward to making the third one next year.

I had help a few weeks later, though, as Brett supplied the muscle to get me in the door at Emerald City Comic Fest, another inaugural show. This one, too, was very good. One thing I really liked about it was that admission was free! Not sure how the show managed to pull that off, but the free admission got a whole host of folks in, some comic fans and some just curious to see what all the noise was about. Met some new folks, but had the chance to catch up with Dave again, who always brings me something to sign when he comes to a show I’m at. I think I’ve signed more books for Dave than any other single person. He brings me books I’ve forgotten I worked on!

Barry Gregory, John Crowther, me!

Another fun thing about ECCF is that The Geeky Mom set up right beside me! (that’s BJ, for those of you with raised eyebrows right now!)

Central Florida is a great place to be if you like comics, comic conventions, and meeting comic creators!

Coming up, I’ll be at Smashcon on November 18th and unless I can work out a show for early December (trying to, but it may not happen), that’ll be my last show for the year.

 

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Daytona Beach Comic Con Report and Leesburg Tomorrow!

Last Saturday I attended my first ever Daytona Beach Comic Book Convention held on the campus of Embry-Riddle. Wow. Pretty much what I have to lead with! The show was held in the basketball gym…but it’s not like you think; remember, this is a university gym, so it’s much fancier than most high school gyms. Truthfully, except for entering and exiting, I didn’t notice it at all.

What I DID notice, however, was the abundance of comic books! If I were a betting man—and I’m not—I’d bet there were more comic books at this show than at MegaCon. I didn’t count them, of course, but it sure felt that way.

Me with Jeff Whiting at Daytona Beach Comic Con

Me with Jeff Whiting at Daytona Beach Comic Con

A highlight was having my table situated next to both my old pal Jeff Whiting and my new pal Jesse Hansen. I’ve swapped some email with Jesse over the last year that might end up turning into something in the future (you always know you’ll be the first to know here); and Jeff I’ve known since I worked with him back in the early 90s. Jeff was one of my go-to inkers when I was an editor. He was there with his own creator-owned book, Shanghai! We had a blast catching up. Plus, he rocks a pretty mean hat!

I also got to meet a couple of folks I’d never met face-to-face before. Artist Alex Saviuk (who I seem to recall meeting briefly when I was at con while a Malibu editor) and Bill Black, now retired publisher of AC Comics. (Bill is also the photographer of the photo of me and Jeff; while Jeff’s wife Patricia is the photographer of the Jeff POV photo!)

Jeff's POV from our tables at Daytona Beach Comic Con (actually, this is Patricia's POV, Jeff's wife)

Jeff’s POV from our tables at Daytona Beach Comic Con (actually, this is Patricia’s POV, Jeff’s wife)

It was such a fun show, I’m working hard to stay in the good graces of the show’s organizer Tom Raupp—because I want him to invite me back for the next one!

Tomorrow (Saturday, June 13), I’ll be at the first ever Leesburg Public Library Comic Con

. They’ve got a whole slate of guests, including the band Grabthar’s Hammer (if you don’t know that reference, what are you doing still here? Go Google it so you can be cool like the rest of us!); some live action roleplaying; and a bunch of cool authors…including me!

So, head on up to Leesburg, listen to some music, buy some books and get some autographs—it’s FREE! I’ll see you there!

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Unintentional Part 2

So last week I started off thinking I was participating in a blog tour that I’d accidentally already done, then shifted to the release of The Remaining, then started yakking about the projects currently in the works. Well, I got kinda excited talking about it but really ran out of space…so I wanted to finish talking about the other projects I’m working on that just aren’t quite as far along.

Trumps1.2-3  trumpslogoSo first up I’ll give you the Cliff Notes version on this first project. In the late 90s, I started working with artist Anthony Pereira, an artist I’d actually discovered while working at Malibu. We decided to do a project. He finished the first issue…and then promptly disappeared. Seriously. Well, fifteen years later, he’s now found—AND working on issue #2 as if no time had passed. It’s really kinda cool. But, the fact that the first issue of Trumps is completely penciled is the reason this one is listed first here.

I’m in the early stages of a Champion mini-series with artist Kevin Tuma. Kevin’s been around for a while and we’ve actually worked on a single issue before—but it was never published. Kevin drew issue #3 of the ill-fated Vortex mini-series published by Comico. While I haven’t asked, he’s probably still owed a chunk of money like the rest of us. Champion, for those of you who are paying attention, was a secondary character in Cat & Mouse vol. 1. He played a more pivotal role in SilverStorm vol 2. So there are some changes in store for the character, but I think you’ll like what’s going on with him.

BlogBeltThrough my old Malibu pal Kurtis Fujita, I “met” artist Gabriella Rosetti. On facebook (of all places, right?) Kurtis pointed out that one of his martial arts student was also a really talented artist. And because Kurtis is certainly one whose artistic “filter” I trust, I want to check out her work. I was blown away by her pencil work! We started chatting and she’s now working on the preliminary sketches while I flesh out a plot. I don’t have her permission to post this image—and while I should have asked first, I’ll risk reprimand because I didn’t plan ahead better and because I think you really need to see this so you can get excited, too! I know it’s just a peek, but I’m so excited to see what she comes up with. It’s a straight sci-fiction piece…and I’ll just leave it at that until we’ve got a little more.

EPSON MFP imageA few months ago I reconnected with another artist I worked with back in the Malibu days and we just swapped a handful of emails before it came up he was interested in doing more comic work. As I don’t have an editor’s budget anymore, I laid it out for him and he was still interested and so we’ve kicked around the idea of a second Demon’s Tails mini-series. Patrick Rolo has drawn a few sketches at this point, as I’m still fleshing out the plot for it as well. I love the way he handles Demon, though…so I hope you’ll be seeing much more here.

Last, but certainly not least, I’ve just started talking to an independent publisher about doing a series of graphic novels. While nothing’s set in stone yet, I’m very excited about the optimism and excitement displayed by the publisher. Yes, I’m intentionally being very vague because of that very thing. I don’t want to say too much. I will say this (so those of you really paying attention might actually figure out which project it is): the story started as a comic series then shifted to an illustrated novel. The novel is written. Finished. The content screams for images, though, and so I’m SOOO excited to be talking about turning it into a series of graphic novels. Yep, you’ll definitely hear more here when I can talk about it.

A few other things kinda cool—not quite as exciting as the new stuff, but still kinda cool. I’m working on graphic novel collections/compilations for some of my older work that is no longer available for whatever reasons. I’ve collected as much of the original art as I could find and am moving forward. First up will be Demon’s Tails (and it helps, I think, that I’m working on vol. 2!), followed by Krey. The only way these are currently available are as back issues—and likely in the reduced boxes. I know I pick them up from the reduced box when I can find them to take them to shows—but I’m tired of looking, so I’ll just print up the compilations and also try to make them available digitally!

Dang it, got long again. Thanks for hanging in with me!

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Northridge Earthquake 20 years later

Some events in a person’s life stay with them forever, most of them firsts: first kiss, first touchdown, first car, etc. Other events as so big to us that they just embed themselves in our memory and stay there. There are two times in my life when I really thought I was about to die.

Twenty years ago, the Northridge earthquake struck at 4:30 in the morning. I was in bed, sound asleep, having been up late and out on the town the night before. BJ and I went with some of the people she worked with at CSUN to a comedy show in downtown LA. We had a great time, but came in late.

People asked me if I knew what it was when it hit, after all, I’m a Mississippi boy and I’m more accustomed to tornadoes than earthquakes. But the answer to that is absolutely yes—I knew exactly what it was. And it scared the crap out of me.

The quake, 6.6 or 6.8, depending on the source reporting, lasted for about 40 seconds. We lived on the bottom floor of a two storey apartment complex on campus and I thought it was about to fall in on BJ and I and kill us. We didn’t know what else to do, so we just held on to each other.

For 40 seconds we told each other over and over that we loved the other…and hung on tight to one another.

It’s fortunate it was dark and we couldn’t see anything because I think that would have scared us even more. We’d have seen items flying across the room. The dresser at the end of our bed was on the opposite wall, upside down.

For 40 seconds, I thought I was about to die.

When it stopped, our first thought was to get out. As we exited our bedroom into the long hallway, we discovered we had about a foot and a half which we could walk: the closet doors which lined the hallway had buckled out leaving us that small room to walk. Because we couldn’t see, I felt my way along the wall. When we turned the corner, the hallway door was open so I reached in and grabbed a coat.

Our feet crunched through the living room a small ways to the door. What I couldn’t see then, was that my two bookshelves had emptied all the contents into the living room. Items from the small kitchen that was attached, had found their way to the living room and most of it shattered. We lost all but a couple of pieces of the good china we’d received at our wedding.

I could probably go on for a long time about that night and the following months, but you probably wouldn’t want to read that much. BJ was the highest ranking school official on campus for several hours—we lived there, duh. She dove in to the task of caring for all the students on campus—she wrangled her crew together and put volunteers to work. It was pretty impressive.

A lot of people took really good care of us after that—after all, we’d lost our place to live! My colleagues at Malibu proved that they weren’t “just” colleagues and in fact were extended family by helping us sneak in to our apartment—which had been condemned—and get all of our belongings out and moved to a storage unit. Tom Mason and his wife let us live with them for a while—something I’ll never forget because we were essentially homeless at that time. We lived in a residence hall at the Jewish University on Mulholland after that until CSUN had a new place for us to move in to and return to campus.

I had problems sleeping for about year after that.

Even today, if I feel the house shake, a little chill runs down my spine.

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Sometimes I feel … like lunch with Stan Lee

Okay, so I don’t really feel old…but sometimes I feel old.

Let me ‘splain.

Recently one of Brittany’s teachers asked me to come talk to some of her classes about comic books, their production, etc. Her classes were graphic design classes so it was all relevant and I certainly never mind talking about comics! However, as I was talking, I mentioned one of my highlights at MarvelBu was a lunch with Stan Lee (Yes, it’s true! Me and several of the Malibu editorial crew got to have a long lunch with him. WAY cool!). The entire class of about 20 high schoolers did not respond in the “I’m impressed” fashion I usually get…so the next words out of my mouth were “you know who Stan Lee is, right?”

With the exception of my daughter, not one of them knew Stan Lee.

Not one.

And I could tell it wasn’t because they were shy or didn’t want to speak up—you can just tell. They did not know his name.

What?

Really?

What planet am I on?

How can you not know who Stan Lee is? How can you not know him from his name plaster all over every Marvel comic for more than 25 years? How can you not know him from his voice was on all the Marvel cartoons in the 70s and 80s, exclaiming his trademarked “Excelsior!”? How can you not know him from his cameos in just about every Marvel movie? Or does he just become “that old guy who’s in all the superhero movies?”

For people of my generation, Stan Lee IS The Man! Even the people who aren’t comic nerds know him. This is the man that is partially responsible as creator or co-creator for all the characters in current pop culture that is dominating the film industry (Marv Wolfman is a close second, of course!). HOW CAN YOU NOT KNOW WHO HE IS?

The sad thing is that most of them know who Elvis is. Aside from the face that Hound Dog was a song in Lilo and Stitch, for some reason, they just know. Oh, it’s not that I’m dissing Elvis, he certainly has his place in pop culture. But we’re talking Stan Lee. In 100 years, no one will know Elvis outside of a history book. Spider-Man, and possibly other Lee characters, will live on in the literary and pop culture worlds for generations. And really, there is no comparison of Jailhouse Rock to The Avengers.

See? Now you know why I feel old…but don’t really feel old.

I’m through ranting now…move along. Nothing more to see here.

Don’t know who Stan Lee is! Sheesh!

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Happy New Year! Looking forward to 2013

Happy 2013 to everyone who visits here. 2013! Wow. Every now and again, I still get the weird feeling when talking about the 2000s; I mean, in the 1980s we were thinking 2000-anything was the far off future with flying cars, jetpacks and Jetsons style tv-phones. We’ve got the cool tv-phones, but that’s about it. Still, it feels odd to look at the date sometimes.

But 2013 is shaping up to be another busy year, especially while we’re still trying to sell the house (prayers appreciated to help get the thing sold!). The first part of the year will see me shepherding the first ever Full Sail Comic Anthology. It will feature 5 stories by Full Sail students. The goal is to get it out for a grand release at MegaCon…of which I’m also a guest (don’t have my list of panels yet, or I’d let you know). Brittany has two auditions in March for the music departments at Belmont and UNA and she’s getting excited about those.

March will also see me at the Hot Springs Village Writers Conference, a small Writers Conference in Hot Springs, Arkansas. As soon as I get a flyer or website from them, I’ll post it.

I’m also excited to report that it looks like I’m going to have some decent movement on four—yes, 4! Comic projects this year! I’ll be posting a little more about each in the coming weeks (including some art), but a highlight would be as such: Tim Holtrop has just started character sketches/designs for BEAH (now planned as a graphic novel). Tim seems to be excited about it, so his excitement has me all antsy again.

CITIZENS is a project that I started in the late 90s, even had a bunch of pages done before the artist decided he didn’t want to finish it…I recently dusted it off and heavily revised it when I met Joe Badon through a Christian Comic Creator group on Facebook. It’s morphed from a heavily sci-fi into a steampunk story and I like the way it’s going…I’m hoping to see pages from Joe fairly soon and will give sneak peeks here.

Sand Gears is another of story that started in the late 90s and had a few pages penciled and inked by an artist. It is also heavily revised and has more art than any of the projects listed here. Quinton Bedwell is doing the art and there would be more done, likely, if he hadn’t been waiting on me. I’ll tell that story later, but Sand Gears is probably the first project I talk about here in a few weeks.

JC Grande, whose name I’ve seen popping up on several projects lately—and which is a good thing for our project—has done some character designs and is working on the first few pages for The Rejects, a story about a group of misfit superheroes.

Henry Martinez, an artist I worked with as editor back in my Maliby days, has agreed to do some work on a project that I’m pretty excited about…but he’s been very busy so I won’t call out any project names at this time, but will put his name here to help possibly motivate him. 😉

I hinted on Facebook about a steampunk project with legendary artist Jerry Bingham and there’s been no taker on the project yet—but it’s been pitched around to some comic publishers. It’s been seen by a select few and the responses are good, but the right publisher just hasn’t seen it yet. Attached to this blog you’ll see a promotional piece done by Jerry and superbly colored by Emily Kanalz.

Last August I wrote a pitch at the request of a publisher for what could be a very high profile project not just for me but for the publisher. The more time passes the more I suspect the final answer to be no…however, I’ve not heard a final no from the publisher, so I hold out that it may still happen. When it does, you’ll be among the first to know.

Lastly, please enjoy the annual Mann Family Christmas/New Year Greeting: https://docs.google.com/open?id=0B5xOrrK1R8tbMHMwQUJTY1ZVZzg I hope 2013 is great to you!

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The Comic Book Heroes by Jones and Jacobs

My job at Full Sail University has me in the company of a couple of “Comic scholars,” and while I often think they’re blowing hot air (yes, I’ve told them as much), they’re a lot of fun to be around and to talk with…plus, they have some of the coolest books. So I recently borrowed The Comic Book Heroes from Dr. Simone Carati (don’t ask me how to pronounce it, even he doesn’t say it the same way twice! Just think of Count DeMoney from History of the World Part 1). The book, written by Gerard Jones (an acquaintance from my comic days whom I had the pleasure to edit all of once…yes, once!) and Will Jacobs, who, I don’t think I ever met, is a broad sweeping story of the comic industry.

First, let me say what a fun read it was. Beginning in the late 50s, the book covers the behind the scenes story of the writers, artists, publishers, movers and shakers of the industry through 1996 (which is about when this, the second edition, was published). Initially, many of the names mentioned I’d never heard of. As a long-time reader myself, I’m a few years younger than J&J and didn’t start reading until the early-mid 70s, a time by which authors J&J were already bored of the content being produced. Once the story gets to the late 60s, I’m familiar with just about every name mentioned.

A reviewer on Goodreads wrote that it is “an opinionated insider’s history,” and I’d have to agree…but disagree. I don’t think this can be taken as serious history. As much as I like Gerry Jones (and I do!), there’s a lot of details he gets wrong about Malibu. Granted, Malibu is a very small portion in the book and doesn’t even enter the picture until the final chapters, but that’s what causes me to say this; if he gets so much wrong about Malibu, then how much of the other material is also suspect? Much of it, I’d say. How do I know he gets the Malibu stuff wrong? Simply, I was there for most of it.

But let me be quick to add; do NOT let that stop you from reading this book. This isn’t a book for the casual comic reader or even for one not interested in comics at all. But anyone interested in working in comics should read it because—even if it is opinionated, it’s full of a lot of valuable information about the relationships formed in the industry and really, how vital they are to success of those working in the industry. The book reveals J&J’s love for the 50s-60s work…and then almost nothing ever matches up. They fill the book with aesthetic judgments, many of which I agree with, but all of which do not belong in a “legit” history. Often they come across as bitter and slightly jaded and sometimes that even caused me to laugh out loud.

A long read, but a very enjoyable one.

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