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Tonight in Portland: Batman ’66 signing!

2 Aug

by Mike Hansen

At Bridge City Comics, owned and operated by my homie Michael Ring. Check it:

Batman '66 signing poster


…Also, note the CORRECT use of the apostrophe in ’66 in the headline: none of this upside-down, lazy smart-quotes crap on this website. ONLY THE BEST FOR YOU.

Catching Up (chunky edition) (Part 2 of 2)

1 May

by Mike Hansen

So what else has happened lately that’s worth a mention?

Gygax Magazine #1 cover

Gygax Magazine #1


The first issue of Gygax Magazine, the spiritual (and visual) successor to the classic Dragon Magazine, was released in February. If you’re a longtime tabletop-RPG fan like me, it’s pretty great; I’ll write more about it soon.


Comics Buyer’s Guide was abruptly cancelled by its publisher, criminally at issue #1699. In its early years, CBG allowed comics fans to connect and feel that they were part of a community (much like Star Trek events did for Trekkies). I always enjoyed reading my weekly CBG in the 1990s much more than Wizard and its magazine competitors, though the strange politics dividing these publications always baffled me (and probably boiled down to the big mouths of a handful of comics “superstars” more than anything). Cofounder Maggie Thompson and longtime contributor Tony Isabella have both found new outlets for their work, so congrats to them.


Two online manga sites, JManga and Square Enix’s online service, have been/are being shut down. JManga customers are screwed, as there’s no way to access the comics they paid for. Yet another example of why DRM hurts the end-users.


On a related note, a modder has figured out how to run EA’s near-crippled new SimCity game without being always-online. Since two-time Worst Company In America EA has no intention of making this officially possible, I hope this demonstrates to other publishers that their customers will find a way to use their product the way they want. Here’s what users need to know to modify the game themselves.

(I hope the courts will soon recognize digital purchases as property and not licenses, allowing the first-sale doctrine to apply and allowing end-users to use and modify the content however they choose. There was that recent court decision that digital material (which can be easily copied and redistributed) cannot be resold as “used” content and doesn’t fall under the first-sale doctrine…)


Speaking of the first-sale doctrine, I was happy that the Supreme Court recently ruled that publishers are not protected when third-party sellers import their product from other countries and resell it at lower prices. The idea that prices should be higher in America, whether for books or drugs or anything else, has always irritated me. Now, if only that other court ruling from a few years ago that manufacturers can set minimum prices at all can be overturned…


One of the internet’s best comics sites, Comics Alliance, was surprisingly shut down by its owner, AOL. I’ll miss the commentary and analysis. Hope its columnists find new venues quickly.


One of my favorite cable-TV channels, G4TV, is basically dead, now that X-Play and Attack Of The Show are cancelled. Best of luck to all of the talent with finding lucrative work elsewhere. (I notice that Ninja Warrior reruns have recently returned. G4’s owner, Comcast, has no idea how to keep this channel viable, does it? Everything I’ve heard about the replacement “Esquire Network” sounds very Not For Me.)


I was sad to learn of the death of writer Robert Morales. His 2003 Captain America story, Truth: Red, White & Black, is one of Marvel’s best miniseries. His 8 Cap issues the following year were excellent, too. I just learned about his 1980s work in Heavy Metal; I definitely plan to track it down now. Alan Moore wrote a moving tribute to Morales.


Speaking of Moore, The Beat has been serializing a great investigative series on the history of Marvelman entitled Poisoned Chalice. While the internet is littered with comics opinions/reviews/analysis/hype (often in the name of getting a lot of traffic/clicks – obviously, I don’t care much about that!), there isn’t a lot of true comics journalism, so this series is worth celebrating.


Disney’s recent suspension/cancellation of numerous Star Wars projects and dismantling of LucasArts isn’t surprising to me. Few companies are as robust in their brand management, and Disney doesn’t want anything to distract from its marketing campaign for the new Star Wars films. (If only Warner Brothers understood how to manage its superhero brands: The cartoon versions are generally terrific (so of course they’re getting cancelled), while the comics and film versions have often suffered from top-down corporate mismanagement.)


Disney’s recent layoffs in its hand-drawn animation division did surprise me, though. Yes, the computer-animated “Paperman” short is brilliant and has a “hand-drawn” feel, but that shouldn’t mean the dismantling of the foundation of the company’s legacy. No wonder there will be a memorial service for 2-D animation at Comic-Con


It turns out that comics bogeyman Frederic Wertham made up his not-so-scientific evidence of comics causing juvenile deliquency. Who’da thunk it?


Last month, a lawsuit was filed arguing that Zorro should be in the public domain, that Zorro therefore belongs to everyone, and that the property’s licensor has no right to force others to pay to use the character. I haven’t found any updates on the suit; it sounds to me like the plaintiff has a pretty strong case, despite today’s ridiculously long copyright periods.


Sales on Marvel NOW titles seem to be stabilizing much faster than DC’s New 52 lineup. Both lines have brought some new readers into comics shops, so that’s a good thing; but both lines have also lost older readers, so that’s not so good. The overall industry is healthier than ever, though, so maybe it’s just superheroes?

In any case, I hope DC catches up to figuring out what the current market wants soon: of all comics publishers, few have such a high percentage of utterly disposable material as DC these days, and gimmicks like variant covers (which are still way too common), “WTF” plots, and unnecessary character deaths aren’t going to build brand loyalty (but at least universal outrage prevented the killing of Green Lantern John Stewart). DC’s properties and creators deserve better than to be in the company of crap like Bluewater and Zenescope. I really don’t think people want 52 monthly titles from DC; the titles seem to keep getting cancelled before the next rushed replacement series are ready to go…

Kudos to DC for finally pulling the announced Orson Scott Card-written Superman story. While in general I try to keep my opinions of creators and their work separate, I think it’s never a good idea to allow an active hatemonger to be associated with the world’s most recognizable Good Guy.

And now that the Before Watchmen travesty is over, here’s a very brief excerpt from a 1988 letter by Alan Moore, via Steve Bissette’s excellent blog (currently serializing a fascinating history of the prozine WaP (a.k.a. Words And Pictures) – go there to read the whole thing):

Ironically, the higher I progressed in the industry, the more of its indignities were made visible by the elevated vantage point…

It is, after all, difficult to feel cheated when earning more money than you’ve made in your life…

It’s only when you realize that DC could license a Saturday morning Rorschach cartoon series complete with Blot the Dog and two mod teenybopper sidekicks that you realize how much you don’t have. You don’t have the dignity of calling your work your own. You don’t have total control over how it is presented…

– Alan Moore, letter published in WaP! #6, copyright 1988 Alan Moore

(Hope that brings more traffic to Mr. Bissette; he’s one of comics’ most outspoken and intelligent writers on creators’ rights, and he deserves the widest possible platform.)

Death Proof The End

ECCC: the Cosplay photos (part 2 of 2)!

27 Mar

by Orion Tippens

(Mike here: Here’s the rest of Orion’s best ECCC 2013 photos! I think you’ll agree they were worth the wait. As always, click to make ’em bigger. I believe Orion is available for professional photo gigs around Seattle as well as children’s parties.  😉  )

Photo Mar 02, 12 28 59 PM

Rogue and Gambit

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When the Emerald City Comic Con exhibit floor is open, you have my permission to buy.

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Avengers crossplayers Assemble!!

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Ninja Turtlettes

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Crashing this castle, with no survivors!! (Castle Crashers)

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I have altered my gender, pray I don’t alter it any further…

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Alan Scott, Golden Age Green Lantern! Always cool to see younger fans play lesser known characters

Photo Mar 02, 12 28 20 PM

Darth Maul. He was on stilts when I took this picture.

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Said she was from a webcomic..I should have written it down.

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Always brings a smile to see parents and their kids dress up on a show they probably enjoy together, especially when it’s Doctor Who.

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Deadpool will Catch Them All!!

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Classic Sonic!!

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Master Chief, I think.

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Hawkeye and Black Widow

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Ash and Misty from Pokemon

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The Doctor and some uninvited photo bombers from the Mushroom Kingdom

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Morrigan from Dragon Age, ready for a very long conversation

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Photo Mar 02, 3 31 25 PM

No idea who they were supposed to be. I just got into the frenzy of other people snapping pics that probably didn’t know who they were either, and thought I’d join in! [I think the one on the left is Codex from The Guild? – Mike]

Photo Mar 02, 3 17 51 PM

She-Ra, Princess of Power strikes a pose

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GLaDOS from Portal 2

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Miss Liberty and The Tick!

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Jean Grey and Scott Summers put the X in dysfunctional super-powered married couple relationships.

Photo Mar 02, 2 42 23 PM

Black Cat and Rogue

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Radia, from the Tron:Evolution Xbox 360 video game. She told me quite a bit about the game…seems very underrated, at least the story.

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Orion’s Exclusive ECCC Pics (part 1 of 2)!

26 Mar

by Orion Tippens

(Mike here: Orion KILLED it with these sweet pics from the 2013 Emerald City Comic Con. I’m just going to post these in random order: together, these photos really capture the essence of walking a convention floor. Click on each photo to make it superbig. How many of the brilliant creators in these photos can you name? And yeah, I probably should’ve tried to post these a couple weeks ago: I’m polishing up the final draft of a script that’s being drawn for Comic-Con. More in a bit…)

Photo Mar 02, 12 26 42 PM

The 1st Spider-Man Fantastic Four appearances – never to be touched again by human hands.

Photo Mar 02, 12 26 40 PM

Poison Ivy vs. Batgirl

Photo Mar 02, 12 26 32 PM

hint: webcomics genius.

Photo Mar 02, 3 16 45 PM

Fauhawk Superman vs. old school Lex Luthor!

Photo Mar 03, 8 14 33 AM

Writer of great DC comics of the past, now a voice for creator-owned books and digital publishing.

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Photo Mar 02, 12 28 43 PM

Wil Wheaton surrounds himself with love.

Photo Mar 02, 12 28 24 PM

If you don’t own all of his comics work, you really should. REALLY

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Photo Mar 02, 12 28 11 PM (1)

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Did anyone actually PAY $1000 for a year-old Walking Dead comic?!

Photo Mar 02, 12 27 51 PM

Extermination has never been so colorful, and huggable.

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Looked at this and I thought, what would be the worst thing you could bring home to show the wife and kids after a day at a comic con?

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artist on one of the better-selling New 52 DC series.

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hint: you may have a tattoo of his artwork.

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Just letting you all know, Invincible is the greatest superhero epic story ever!

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hint: Okay, this one’s a freebie.

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Only at a comic or related convention is this considered normal.

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Emerald City con life.

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hint: Really nice Image artist…

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…doing what he does best.

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Photo Mar 02, 12 26 54 PM

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hint: one of Image’s best-selling artists.

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It’s not a comic con without some huge tower of geek apparel for sale.

I’ll post the creators list after this break:

Continue reading

My Comic-Con ticket buying experience

20 Feb

by Mike Hansen

So unlike a lot of folks’ horror stories, I had no problem buying Comic-Con tickets this year.

I got a Member ID in advance. I clicked the link in the email. I read the instructions. I watched the video. I clicked the green button and waited for the screen to reload, until the webpage loaded the waiting room. I was number 450 in line. I waited for the page to refresh every two minutes, until it allowed me to purchase tickets after about 5 minutes. I bought tickets. A few hours later, I got confirmation emails.

That’s it. Feel free to hate me now.

If it makes you feel better, I’m applying for professional status (thanks to my comics writing and freelance research work for Marvel), so hopefully you won’t have to worry about me taking a paid badge from you next year.

Cool webcast tonight

13 Nov

by Mike Hansen

Die Antwoord tour posterAs part of their 2012 tour, the band Die Antwoord will be appearing at an event at Meltdown Comics, one of SoCal’s best comics shops (often seen on Attack of the Show!). It’ll be webcast, so check it out – more details here at Boingboing.

Creator benefit signing in WA this weekend! [UPDATED]

31 Aug

by Mike Hansen

Just saw this from Anina Bennett (Boilerplate):

Comics for a cause! Paul Guinan and I will be at I Like Comics in Vancouver, WA this Saturday. Come to their party for Karl and Myrna Kesel, a fundraiser to help pay medical bills for their adopted son. Guest schedule as follows:

Saturday 9/1:
12-3 Paul Guinan & Anina Bennett
12-4 Dan Prado

3-5 Kurt Busiek
5-7 Shannon WheelerSunday 9/2:
11-1 Aaron Lopresti
2-4 Pete Woods & Rebecca Woods
2-4 Guest of honor Karl Kesel
4-7 Randy Emberlin
If you’re in the Northwest, check this out! I can attest from personal or secondhand experience that all of the creators are super-nice and super-talented, and are down with a very worthy cause.
UPDATE: Anina just alerted me to an online benefit for the Kesels as well, which ends at midnight PST tonight – check it out.

It’s Friday! Here are some photos from Comic-Con

31 Aug

all photos by Orion Tippens
(click to make photos bigger)

Marvel needs a “Marvel NOW!” sales boost

4 Aug

by Mike Hansen

Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #1 (May 1984) ...

Now THIS was a must-read as each issue came out, at least for superhero fans.

Brian Hibbs talked about Marvel sales at his store in his latest column:

And Todd Allen responds at The Beat here:

I can see their point – Marvel hasn’t created a sense of urgency (outside AvX) for its books as must-reads (especially as periodicals) in a long time. The Heroic Age couldn’t have been more pointless – even the books themselves made fun of the phoniness of the concept. I get the impression that, for the most part, creators aren’t being given free reign to go as crazy on titles as they could in the past (’80s Uncanny X-Men still blows my mind by how much every issue gets away with), and that readers are giving more of their money to DC and Image, both of which have a lot of titles that people want to buy as each issue comes out. Marvel NOW better be frickin’ amazing!

What do you think?

R.I.P. Ray Bradbury

6 Jun

by Mike Hansen

A photograph of science fiction author Ray Bra...

Ray Bradbury in 1975 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sad news: Ray Bradbury, one of the greatest authors of the past century, died yesterday at age 91.

He wrote 27 novels and over 600 short stories, many of which stand as among the greatest works of English literature of all time. Not only did he make science fiction respectable, but he made it necessary to read – his audience learned much about the world in which they lived by experiencing his dreams of the future. Some of those dreams have even come true.

Everybody has heard of (and should have read) Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, Something Wicked This Way Comes, The Illustrated Man, A Sound of Thunder… Bradbury taught me how to be a better writer, a better reader, and a better dreamer.

Many of his finest short stories were adapted into comics in the 1950s by EC Comics, and these are well worth tracking down.

Tributes to Bradbury and his genius have multiplied throughout the day, and rather than add to them with another lengthy piece I’ll just share this: a short video of Continue reading

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