SCOTT PILGRIMS FINEST HOUR

SCOTT PILGRIM’S FINEST HOUR
Written and Drawn by Bryan Lee O’Malley
Published by Oni Press

Reviewed by Marc Mason

Amidst a flurry of hype and excitement, Bryan Lee O’Malley delivers the conclusion to the SCOTT PILGRIM saga, with only a few questions left remaining to deal with. The obvious one is whether or not Scott and Ramona can find themselves again and repair their relationship after it was devastated in volume five. But the real question is:

After a six-year journey, has O’Malley delivered a worthwhile conclusion to his tale, or has he fallen flat on his face and taken the series with him?

Answer: the former, not the latter.

One of the more conflicting things about this series, no matter how much I’ve liked it, is that while it is funny, action-packed, creatively interesting, and loaded with fantastic characters, Scott himself is a colossal douchebag. In fact, in comics, perhaps only Iron Man matches Scott’s level of doucheness as a lead character in a series. So one of the things I was curious about in heading into this final story was whether or not Scott would overcome his basic nature and become someone worth truly rooting for. I won’t go into the spoiler-y details, but suffice it to say that the title of this book should give you a hint as to how the creator deals with that very issue. Scott has to be redeemed, and it’s the how that elevates this book to the plateau it needed to reach in order to offer a satisfying conclusion.

Indeed, Ramona’s role this time around (as far as “screen time” goes) is rather reduced. Her presence is on every page, as Scott struggles to pull himself together after their split, but ultimately, this book, this series, really, is about Scott’s journey from massive fuckup to someone worthy of receiving love and affection- not just from Ramona, but from his friends and even his family.

That makes it sound like heady stuff, so I should assure you that we are once again treated to plenty of wicked cool action sequences and ludicrous dialogue, as well as some sloppy hookup attempts. In short, when I finished, I felt like O’Malley had given me as a reader what I deserved. And I look forward to sitting down some day and reading all six books in succession.






OMNIUM GATHERUM 67-A

Omnium Gatherum #67-A: San Diego Comic-Con International 2010, The Mornings After Math.

By
Vincent S. Moore

Howdy, folks.

Welcome once again to the Omnium Gatherum.

Whew, I am glad to be home again.

Unfortunately, I still have columns to write about Comic-Con 2010. So I will beg the indulgences of your folks out there on the internets to be patient with me as I resume daily life and its demands while finishing up pieces begun at CCI ’10.

What’s in store, you might ask?

Well, let’s see…

How about my coverage of The Black Panel 2010?

Or reviews of some of the comics I bought at the show?

Or, my attempt at covering the Dynamite Entertainment panel?

And how about I throw in a general wrap up about the show itself and the near week spent in San Diego?

How does all of that sound?

In the meantime, let me pimp my earlier columns, to help drive some traffic and to start to centralize my CCI 2010 coverage in one place.

Try these links on for size:

OG 62

OG 63

OG 64

OG 65

OG 66

OG 67

That should hold you folks until I get off my lazy butt, er, … I mean, until I can find all of my notes and the like and complete those columns to my usual standard.

Hey, wait a minute, did I just promise to write four more columns this week?

Aw, man.

Well, back to the salt mines.

See ya, folks.

Namaste.

OMNIUM GATHERUM 67

Omnium Gatherum #67: San Diego Comic-Con International 2010, Day 2: The Nappy Hour Enters The Light Of Day

By
Vincent S. Moore

Howdy, folks.

Welcome once again to the Omnium Gatherum.

And on the second day of Comic-Con, I wished I could rest. But there was too much to do, from checking in at The Antidote Trust booth to taking time and walking the floor to talking with old friends. And finding the time to go to at least one panel.

I only went to one panel on the second day because, while speaking with friends, I completely forgot about the Grant Morrison panel and missed it. That happens some times at CCI; the show is so big with so many people that one gets caught up in one activity to the detriment of another.

No matter, though. I did make the one panel I really did want to attend. Which was the Nappy Hour, moderated by Keith Knight.

Knight–an award winning cartoonist whose work crosses between mainstream and alternative worlds with ease–had, for many years, hosted a gathering of black creators after hours at a local bar in San Diego. These gatherings, informal to the point where the invitation would often be photocopies of hand drawn notes done by Knight, were a meeting place for a group of people who might have thought they were the only ones but truly weren’t.

This year, with his status as a special guest of Comic-Con International, Knight was given the opportunity to bring the gathering into the light of day.

I entered room 3 at the San Diego Convention Center to see a nice size crowd for a brand new panel. The crowd itself was lively and mixed of race and gender. A buzz of conversation filled the room while folks waited for the arrival of the panelists.

The first to arrive was Spike Troutman, creator of Templar, AZ, followed by Dwayne McDuffie, one of the founders of Milestone Media, co-creator of Static, and writer and story editor on Ben 10, Justice League, and other shows.

Spike, in the time before the panel began, entertained the early arrivers with humor and conversation. That early banter would reflect the way in which she dealt with the questions to come.

Dwayne added into the flow of conversation but mostly watched.

As the time for the panel to formally begin rapidly approached, Keith Knight prepped a large tablet for what the audience and I would learn to be the series of questions he wanted the panel to answer.

While I sat taking notes on my laptop, I had an odd feeling. I wasn’t too far off-base as Michael Davis, another of the founders of Milestone and moderator/mastermind behind that annual Comic-Con event The Black Panel sat behind me and greeted me. Now, I tend to be so focused on what I’m doing sometimes I can be oblivious to other stimuli in my presence. This was one of those times. I was so intent upon taking notes for this column, I simply took Mr. Davis’ outstretched hand and shook it. It was shortly after that it occurred to me how weird it was for him to sit behind me. Perhaps it was my critique of The Black Panel 2009, which I entitled Niggapalooza (for those who didn’t read that piece you can find it here, that drew him to sit where he did. I also wondered why he was there anyway. Was it to check out the competition? Was he afraid of anyone criticizing him openly? Who knows? And really who cares? I, like everyone else in the room, was there to listen to and enjoy the Nappy Hour.

Which was dangerously close to starting late.

There was an unquiet rustle in the room as the time to begin approached. Or had it nearly passed? I wasn’t completely sure myself. But does anything involving us black folk always have to start late? I hoped not at the same time I worried it would.

To kill time and take my mind off of the impending disastrous start for the Nappy Hour, I looked around the room once again. For a first time with this panel, I noticed the room had filled up pretty quickly. There was high energy in the room.

Finishing his preparations at the easel, Keith Knight took the stage as the din of the casual conversations continued.

I turned to look at the room again. Now it was close to standing room only. A very nice turn out it was looking like.

I wondered if the late beginning more indicative of Knight’s style than of an attack of Colored People’s Time in public. A throwback to the laid back manner of the original bar oriented Nappy Hour, perhaps? I wasn’t sure but desperately wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt this time.

Knight finally took the podium and announced that this was the first Nappy Hour officially sponsored by Comic-Con International. Following the applause, he introduced himself and his work and gave a brief history of the Nappy Hour. Knight particularly focused on his original intent for creating the Nappy Hour, namely a chance to meet with other black creators at a bar to talk shop. He wanted to bring the Nappy Hour to a larger audience, especially to show this gathering wasn’t exclusive to black folk and that anyone could attend and enjoy. Knight delivered his opening monologue in a relaxed and joking style.

Knight then looked at his panelists and noticed he was two short. One, David Walker, couldn’t attend CCI due to other matters. The other, Ned Cato, Jr., an official with CCI and operator of geekroundtable.com, hadn’t arrived at start time and possibly wouldn’t due to his schedule and/or any bizarre happenings on the convention floor.

So, Knight seemed to feel the best way to handle this situation was to have the two present panelists introduce each other. Spike, coming from the independent side of the comics industry, admitted she didn’t know who Dwayne McDuffie was but that upon hearing she would be on a panel with her, her husband informed her of McDuffie’s ties to Milestone and to the TV show Static Shock. None of this impressed her. But when she learned he was black, Spike looked him up on Facebook and friended him. It was somewhat interesting to hear Dwayne’s resume from Spike’s perspective.

As Spike finished, Ned arrived late due to business with CCI.

Dwayne basically said he saw and friended Spike on Facebook and that was all he knew, quick and to the point.

Keith took his turn and talked about Spike in a casual manner. He mentioned his Facebook connection with her. In turn, Spike retorted something I didn’t remember but it killed the audience. Leading to applause for her.

Knight then introduced Ned who spoke of his involvement as CCI floor manager, of his website geekroundtable.com, and his relationship with Knight.

Knight referred to Ned as the Negro Whisperer for his strength/impossible task of dealing with “difficult” black creators on the floor. Particularly Knight himself. He then mentioned an incident earlier at this show when Ned approached Knight with a scolding look up his face and spoke to Knight in Swahili. The audience laughed.

Knight returned to his description of the Nappy Hour, only to be interrupted by Spike’s sarcastic commentary.

Knight started to explain his approach to this panel, was interrupted again by Spike (if it seems as if I don’t like her, that isn’t the case; however, she did offer comments and commentary at times that were almost off-putting to me), and then continued to describe the approach of having a list of subjects to cover by the panel.

Which brought us to the easel that held Knight’s attention just before the panel began.

Written upon the white tablet were the following subjects: That Black Thing: Do’s and Don’ts; A Character You’d Love To Write For; Awkward Moments; Kickstarter; and SDCCI, Where Is It Going?

First up was That Black Thing. Knight asked the panel how does being black affect their comics and other work?

To get the ball rolling, Knight mentioned only getting work or consideration for work during February.

Spike then, with humor and some veiled anger, tackled the topic by saying it had lost her interviews with newspapers, jobs, et cetera by being constantly assaulted with a variation on the topic question: how does being a black female affect your comics work or your ability to sell your comics? One could tell by the time her answer was complete this was a very touchy subject with her.

Dwayne initially deferred to Ned, who said the black thing was something he tries to interject into his work, into events at CCI. It was why he created the Geek Round Table. That black thing is what he pushes out onto the world everyday.

Dwayne went into the struggles of dealing with mainstream comics (mentioning there were 2 black writers in mainstream superhero comics 20 years ago and now there’s 3). Spike interjected from her worldview about that number. Dwayne wrapped up his answer quickly after that.

Knight mentioned The Comics Journal’s black artist issue, issue #160, as an early inspiration to him to pursue cartooning. Even though he couldn’t draw, he wanted to do this comics thing so badly he found a way to make what drawing he could do work for him. As Knight spoke about this to Dwayne, McDuffie talked about the reaction to that issue in the Journal’s letters pages. And how Fantagraphics ended up apologizing to its angry readers for covering black cartoonists. Dwayne’s still mad about that reaction, albeit in a joking manner. Knight mentioned the problems and the hypocrisy about that issue and the comics industry’s reaction to black creators.

I thought to myself, and now the white folks bashing begins. Does it always come down to this for people of color? Ending up complaining about how we are treated by whites?

As I wondered about that, Keith Knight revealed he had brought a timer of some kind to the panel to control how long the group would speak on a particular topic. He struggled with timer briefly before it went off on time.

Assured it was working properly, Knight moved on to the next topic: Do’’s and Don’ts. He elaborated upon the topic by asking more general questions: how to do comics; what to do; any advice for the audience on getting into comics, coping with cons, etc.

Spike’s basic advice was don’t trash anybody in the industry because the comics world is small. Dwayne interjected his opinion about that point and Spike countered. She then mentioned her minor participation in the Spurlock documentary being filmed at Comic-Con, pointing out how she didn’t fit the casting profile but tried anyway. She also said one should always practice. And be prepared to sacrifice some aspect of one’s life: dating, etc.

Ned pointed to social media as a way of creating and growing an audience. Along with the old yet new advice of writing daily (blogs are good for that kind of writing), anything to keep audiences coming to your web presence. Blogging ain’t hard, according to Mr. Cato; start with two words a day, then move to three, etc. Ned added the always good to hear advice not to give up and to develop a hard skin. He suggested one could grow their audience through momentum. Finally repeating himself to say continue, continue, don’t give up.

Dwayne’s advice was don’t tell your friends about your ideas, but make the work, make the comics. Also to take advantage of comics convention to speak with creators, that most creators will share their experiences. But please don’t send Dwayne your trilogy; he suggested sending it to Michael Davis instead.

Knight’s words of wisdom were don’t eat the food downstairs at the San Diego Convention Center. That there was nothing worse than the public restrooms on the Saturday at Comic-Con. In a more serious tone, he said to persevere, to keep working at it. That all creativity and producing art is a muscle. With that answer, Knight beat the buzzer.

Knight moved to the next topic, A Character You’d Love To Write For.

Dwayne tackled this one first, saying he has been lucky in his career to write most of the characters he was most interested in writing. Perhaps he would like to write Little Lulu. Or maybe even The Doctor from the BBC’s Doctor Who.

Spike was next, admitting she was behind on mainstream characters. Although, because of her introduction to the X-Men characters via the Fox films, she would be interested in writing Angel and Beak from Grant Morrison’s New X-Men run. Spike said she hated the ways angel was drawn, reflecting that the character would change looks depending on the artist but were usually not representative of how black women look in reality. She found the relationship between the two characters interesting and would want to develop them more.

Ned admitted he has never written for comics. But that his ideal character to attempt would be Storm of the X-Men and Black Panther fame. Ned would want to make her more regal, more African in personality and manner, to give Storm more negritude. Spike at this point added Storm should divorce the Black Panther, an idea that was met mostly with a few boos from the audience and some laughs.

Keith said he would like to try writing for Daffy Duck, saying to any Warners executives who might have been in the room he has some big ideas for a cartoon or two. Keith felt Daffy is the most versatile of the classic Warners cartoon characters, in the sense that one could do anything with him. He mentioned Daffy as crazed miser and as Robin Hood as examples of the character’s versatility. And, just as he said that, Knight beat the buzzer again.

A time was coming when the buzzer would win the day, though.

Shifting gears, Keith asked the panel to share with the audience any Awkward Moments they dealt with in the past. What Knight was looking for wasn’t simply embarrassing moments, but those odd times some but hopefully not all black people face when interacting with whites who are clueless to the nuances and minutiae of being African American. He added that a lot of awkward moments happen at cons, those awkward race moments.

Spike quickly spoke up with don’t touch her hair, which is done in the so-called dreadlocks. Please don’t pet her hair. It took 14 years to get it that way but it isn’t something out of a freak show or anything like that. The audience found both laughter and agreement with Spike’s somewhat heated response.

Dwayne, after playfully admitting he didn’t like answering after Spike, talked about the Static Shock television show experience. That the show, and therefore he, never had any toys, posters, shirts, or stickers made to promote the program. McDuffie recounted how, in a meeting with a large toy company about trying to get some Static toys on the market, had an executive say to him that black folks don’t buy their children toys, so why do static toys (Michael Davis, not one to let a moment pass that couldn’t reflect back upon himself, added his two cents into this recollection from behind me). Dwayne tried to deflect the still with him pain of this statement by saying that of course black people don’t buy toys for their children since they have all those dirty syringes to play with and the like. A knowing laugh came from the audience and the panel alike. Then he pointed out that Static Shock as a cartoon had an 80% white demographic, but wasn’t thought worthy of having a toy line unlike many other shows.

Spike added that she hated this attitude from the mainstream. This pattern of whitewashing aspects of culture, of discarding and disregarding peoples of color in the great pop cultural melting pot.

Ned interjected not completely under his breath, naming names such as The Last Airbender, Starship Troopers, and others.

Then Ned admitted to having so many awkward moments that it would be hard to narrow them down. But he confessed to being very sarcastic and that he has to tone it down when dealing with Comic-Con attendees. He recalls a situation where, after organizing a disjointed autograph line, those in line with tickets to receive autographs kept asking him if they would actually receive the very autographs for which they were in line and had tickets. Ned said he got in trouble for correcting one slow lady by making her repeat several times that she would get an autograph because she had a ticket. He also confessed that his sarcasm rises during Comic-Con. But, really can anyone fault him for this?

Keith Knight started to answer, got buzzed but went ahead anyway. He recounted a time when he received a call from old college friend, wondering if Knight was interested in doing some art for this person’s company. Being a working artist Keith was interested. Until he found out the work was for a malt liquor company. Knight tried to defer and deflect some by mentioning the political tone of work, as a way of kindly backing out of the project, but his friend still wanted Keith because, well, malt liquor is aimed at black folk. And surely, how could Keith resist?

How, indeed.

With that bit still lingering in the air, Knight pushed on to the next topic, and hot current one it was: Kickstarter.com

Knight preambled by saying it is easier to self publish nowadays versus the immediate past, and now it is becoming easier to self fund projects. Via Kickstarter.

Spike took up this topic, as she had the most experience with Kickstarter. She was onto Kickstarter before it became cool. Spike described the website and idea, for those who didn’t know, as a place where one can ask for donations from ordinary folks to help fund worthwhile creative projects. She pointed out that if you are already going ahead with work on their project, then Kickstarter will work for you; but if you have nothing, basically no Kickstarter for you. Spike continued to describe her experience. When she first started out doing comics, Spike, like many basically starved and struggled. She wanted to share her experiences in learning how to survive on less with other up and coming cartoonist via a comics project. But, with her own webcomic to do, she would need another artist to work on the project. And she wanted to be able to pay that artist for his or her work. Unfortunately, she wasn’t getting rich on the webcomic. So what to do? Well, here was Kickstarter. Spike put together a proposal and submitted the project. Her goal was $6000. By the time the funding deadline was reached, people had donated upwards of $13000. Spike then shifted into some self promotion, holding up copies of the Templar AZ trades, saying the new book would be similar in design. Poorcraft is the name of the Kickstarter project. Spike concluded by suggesting for some of the audience members interested in creating comics to go to Kickstarter.com before searching out a publisher. That they should be independent.

Dwayne took up the topic, saying he was looking to buy a house and got buzzed by the timer. But I think the universe was having its moment of commentary as well.

Running over the time, Spike added that the creator of Rocco’s Modern Life has funded a new project via Kickstarter.

Knight wondered if the other panelists were interested in going this route.

Dwayne said he wants to finish Road To Hell, a 20 year old graphic novel project. But his real problem is he can’t keep artist on the book past the first 100 pages.

Ned shifted away from using Kickstarter to talk about a return of community and community funding. He asked if the audience remembered days of rent parties. Ned told the audience to talk with local folks, their churches, neighbors, and others. He was very interested and even passionate about restoring a sense of community in America. And that any creators out in the crowd should become mentors.

Keith, aware of the rapidly evaporating time, broached the final topic and the most controversial. That of where would the Comic-Con be in 2012 and beyond.

Michael Davis, after having been behaved for so long, just had to blurt out that the show would not be leaving San Diego. Trying to recover the panel’s focus Knight tried again to receive answers from the panelists, but Mr. Davis just had to interrupt loudly again.

This breach of decorum (okay, I know this is Comic-Con, so I may be asking an awful lot from attendees, but still, where was the courtesy?) continued as an audience member mentioned that Disney now owns the show, implying it would be moving, perhaps to Anaheim.

At that point, Ned had no other choice but to correct this lady and put it out to the crowd that the show, that Comic-Con International is ours, that it belongs to the fans. He continued to say that no one working for CCI is paid. That he always has been a volunteer with the organization, that he isn’t being paid for his time and efforts during the show. I could tell this was and is a very sensitive topic for those who give of themselves to Comic-Con.

Spike seemed amused by the feeling from some but not all independent creators who attend the show that growing Comic-Con will help them. She felt that CCI being bigger isn’t designed or done for the small creators, but for Hollywood.

Knight added that when Comic-Con and the hotel housing attendees sell out early, it simply does not allow any new folks to attend the show.

Spike related the story of a colorist she knows who couldn’t get a room at this year’s show and who was sleeping on her hotel room floor. Not an uncommon occurrence even going back to the pre-Hollywood days of Comic-Con, but still demonstrates both the need for a place with more affordable hotel rooms and the desire by many to attend this show. Spike concluded by picking up on Keith’s point that Comic-Con should be more accessible to more people.

Dwayne, trying to lighten the mood of the panel and the audience but also speaking perhaps to another aspect of the problems facing the show, said Comic-Con International needs to keep comping him his hotel stay.

Feeling the growing tension in the room, Ned spoke up to say that Comic-Con has no plans of leaving San Diego. However, before the crowd could react to this statement, he continued by adding that the San Diego Convention Center, as it exists today, is just too small for the show. Ned said that outside of moving to somewhere else, the show can’t grow. Simply put, Ned continued, the city needs to expand the convention center. Which is an approved project with a projected cost of nearly $769 million. The question then is where will San Diego find the money?

Spike exclaimed Kickstarter as a way to raise the capital needed.

Dwayne asked when the proposed expansion of the center could be done by.

Ned answered, saying if the plan were to go into effect this year, the expansion would be done by late 2014, so he felt that 2015 would be the date by which Comic-Con would have use of the added space.

The audience, trying to help, asked about sending more Comic-Con programming to the neighboring hotels.

Ned replied, saying CCI is already doing that. But that the hotels balk at added expense of food and drink of those people wandering through their facilities. He continued by reminding us all that Comic-Con International is a non profit organization. It is very difficult to deal with businesses that worry about the bottom line. Comic-Con doesn’t want to leave San Diego. But, as Ned wrapped up, reality may force a change of venue. And then the buzzer sounded.

Knight started to open up the floor for any final questions.

Which is when Michael Davis spoke up again, saying the show would never leave San Diego. Keith tried to cope with this interruption by telling the audience this was the mayor of the city speaking. Davis countered by making a joke, saying we wouldn’t be here after the Comic-Con of 2012 anyway. There was some strained laughter at that.

Someone in the audience asked Dwayne to talk about the Milestone Media deal.

Dwayne said the founders of the company simply created the comics they wanted to see. And that the company took advantage of early 1990s comics and speculator boom. The existing publishers of the day wanted more properties, hot properties to capitalize upon the boom audience. And so Milestone and its characters were wanted. Dwayne said the company used that desire to their advantage to leverage the best possible deal at the time. He added that most people are shy about negotiating when they shouldn’t be. Dwayne concluded by advising those creators out in the audience to be willing to ask for what they want.

With that and the time coming to an end, Keith Knight put out a last call for promotion by any of the panelists.

Ned (geekroundtable.com), Dwayne (Ben 10 and other fine animated and comics entertainment), and Spike (Templar AZ) all did so. With Knight wrapping up, pointing the audience to his space in the small press area.

Knight ended by thanking everyone for coming to the first Nappy Hour panel. Hopefully of many more to come.

The audience applauded and, with that, the panel came to an end.

Until next time, folks.

Namaste.

OMNIUM GATHERUM 66

Omnium Gatherum #66: San Diego Comic-Con International 2010, Day 1: My First Panel

By
Vincent S. Moore

Howdy, folks.

Welcome once again to the Omnium Gatherum.

As a sign of my growth within the comics industry, I sat on my first panel on Thursday night, courtesy of The Antidote Trust.

The Antidote Trust, that gathering of likeminded self and independent publishers, has held a panel on how to do this comics thing for oneself for three years now. Even though the panel takes place late in the evening, the audience has been growing each year. People who are on the outside want to learn how to get on the inside of the comics industry and will attend any panel that can offer “The Secret”.

There is no real secret.

If there is one secret to making it in comics, it is being willing to keep going, to outlast everyone else. To know what you want to do.

Which was the theme of The Antidote Trust’s Indie Comics How To panel.

The group and the audience in the hallway waited past the time the panel was originally supposed to begin. The preceding panel was running long. I didn’t know what to think of that. I often see into certain happenings as if they were omens. At the time of this delay, I hoped it wasn’t an omen of anything bad to come.

In time, the panel cleared out and The Antidote Trust members entered room 5AB to set up for the how-to panel.

Geoffrey Thorne, gentleman writer of comics and screen, acted as moderator, introducing each of us. Starting with Robert Roach, creator of Menthu and The Roach; Dale Wilson, creator and writer of Caffeine Dreams; Richard Hamilton, creator and writer of Return Of The Super Pimps and Miserable Dastards; Andre Owens, creator of Force Galaxia; and myself.

Geoff decided, after speaking with each of us, to shape the panel along the lines of any questions a newbie to comics would ask. This choice allowed for each of us to give our thoughts on a particular topic, all aiming towards the goal of offering as many different ways to craft and publish comics.

Now, having covered different events over the years, I won’t claim to be a reporter but will do in a pinch. Unfortunately being an actual participant this time around plus the freezing cold of the conference room, I did not take any notes and can’t fully capture from memory that details of the panel.

What I can do write about the highlights in the hopes they will help anyone who wants to publish their own comics.

Geoff, as moderator, walked us through the development of an idea into a comic from the perspective of someone who wants to make comics and is starting from scratch.

So, first, the idea. How to write it?

The consensus from the panel was writing was as much about learning the craft as it was about telling an interesting or exciting story. The idea which starts the project should attempt to find the balance between being a love of the creator and something that can find an audience to which to sell. It was pointed out that resources about writing are all around if one takes the time to look.

And here is where the beginnings of the secret of perseverance enter the conversation.

If one has an idea, the panel put forth, then one has to take and make the time to develop it properly into a form that will find acceptance by an audience. And that takes knowledge, the willingness to keep learning, and just sticking with it.

Second, assume the perspective creator can’t draw, where to find an artist?

Places to find artists, according to the panel, range from one’s local comics shop to online resources like Pencil Jack and Digital Webbing and Deviant Art. Once one has the artist, keeping him or her may require giving some equity in the idea or working out a quid pro quo with the artist. But be wary of companies out there who will take advantage of one. Richard recounted his story of dealing with one such company that connected him with his artist but stole all of the money intended to pay for the art. He was able to contact the artist and cut out the bad middle man, but learned it might be better to deal directly with an artist.

Third, how to get the nearly created creative team to gel and work together with differing personalities?

Here the panel couldn’t completely agree. Robert pointed out as writer and artist, it can be more about letting one voice speak in the story more than another, about decided when to let the writer shine or the artist kick butt. But it was felt by more of the group that, given the greater likelihood of distance between the writer and the artists, the chances of building a friendship or relationship may difficult and unnecessary. The real important was to get the work done. To have a good enough of a relationship between the team that work begins, continues, and comes to some point of completion. And that may take a few tries to get it right.

Again, perseverance is the key.

Fourth, the tough choice: to go with an existing publisher or to self publish.

With the exception of yours truly, the other panelists were all self publishers, so the choice was obvious from everyone perspective. Richard mentioned he had contacted a number of publishers with no luck before being encouraged to do it himself. For Robert, Dale, and Andre, going the self publishing route was the first and last choice.

But, even being one’s own publisher isn’t the end, just merely the end of the beginning.

And so…

Fifth, how to get out into the marketplace? To deal with Diamond or not to deal with them? How to brand oneself?

Most of the other panelists weren’t going through Diamond, the major distributor of comics to comics shops. Their paths took them other places. For example, Dale came to comics from more of a literary and science fiction background. His book reflects that sensibility. For him, having The Antidote Trust set up at the West Hollywood Book Fair one year was a no brainer. Unfortunately, just about no one did well at that show. The exception being Dale’s Caffeine Dreams. So he returns there every year. Because that’s his audience, his marketplace. And that’s how he gets out there. He is also using the web with webcomics.

Richard countered by saying his experiences with Diamond were not so bad as long as one remembers they are a business. The current sales threshold of $2500 wholesale cost of product may mean deciding to go the trade paperback route instead of going with the floppy.

Doing shows like Comic-Con is another way of getting out into the marketplace to find one’s audience. I brought up the title I edited, Lazarus: Immortal Coils, and how it is available via IndyPlanet.com as a print on demand book, another way of getting one’s comics out there to the people. The real trick is to be flexible and find all the possible ways of reaching an audience at one’s disposal.

And flexibility is another aspect of perseverance.

See a pattern yet?

Next up questions from the audience.

A couple of folks asked more about the process of putting together a team and getting a book out there.

The panel, within the limited time remaining, did their best to answer by going back to points made earlier about finding the right people and doing whatever it takes to get one’s project out there. The point is to do the work, a point that many folks have made and continue to make to those who seek The Secret.

Do the work, learn as you go, and you can achieve a level of success.

With that the third Antidote Trust Indie Comics How To panel came to a close.

Until next time, folks.

Namaste.

AISLE SEAT 2.0.58

AISLE SEAT 2.0.58: SDCC DAY 8,512

By Marc Mason

I’m done.

I walked out of the convention center around 430pm, having completed my “full scan” of the con- a walk down every aisle, at least a glimpse of every booth. My last full stop was a visit with an artist pal who was kind enough to show me some top-secret pages from an upcoming book. They look absolutely stunning, and I can’t wait to see it in print.

That’s the kind of thing that makes SDCC fun.

Today I arrived at the show late. By the end of last night, my feet were in horrendous condition. I have blisters on my left pinky toe and my right heel, so no matter which way I adjust my stride, walking hurts like a bastard.

I’ve already walked about six miles today. Fun, eh?

So there was no way I was going to make the press event I was scheduled for at 1130. Instead, I took my morning slow, got myself together and ready to walk, then headed off for Seaport Village for a quiet oceanside lunch. I dropped by Asaggio’s and ordered up a calzone that I ate while watching the waves caress the shore below my feet. I let my mind wander to the things that truly matter most to me right now. And once I had achieved a sense of calm, then and only then did I make my way to the con.

If you have never been to the show, I cannot impress upon you enough just how important it is to get yourself away from the building and go someplace and enjoy the beauty and tranquility of life elsewhere. That can make a huge difference between whether or not you have a good time or a rotten one.

Once I got inside, I did a little of my scan, then alit at the NBM booth for my final shift of the con. Once again, I was PornGuard, overseeing the section with the Eurotica and Amerotica graphic novels. Such a fascinating array of customers I saw in that space over the last three days. I was always intrigued when women actually stopped to look; very few by themselves, most with a guy, and in what they chose. When one particular book sold out, I thought it was very telling, as it was the one that I feel is the most female or couples-friendly item in the catalog. If you print it, they will come.

After the shift, I went off to finish my round. Along the way I saw the usual gaggle of friends, famous folks, and comics illuminati that I stopped to chat with. Unlike last year’s Saturday, this was a nice and relaxed day, and I got done what I wanted to with very little hassle.

So I’m leaving this year with a suitcase of reasonable weight- I didn’t go soliciting books to review. What I got, I bought for myself because I really wanted to read them. I need to do more of that, because if I do, I’ll continue to enjoy the medium to its fullest

And that, folks, is really what this show should be all about.

OMNIUM GATHERUM 65-A

Omnium Gatherum #65a: San Diego Comic-Con International 2010, Day 1: My First Panel

By
Vincent S. Moore

Howdy, folks.

Welcome once again to the Omnium Gatherum.

Hey, where’s the rest of the column?

Sorry, folks, but time is catching up with me at Comic-Con International. I mean, I do have to sleep some time. Right?

Right?

Right?

Look for more updates of this feature soon. As soon as I get some more coffee.

Thanks for checking in to CWR. We’re trying our best for y’all.

Back soon.

Namaste.

AISLE SEAT 2.0.57

AISLE SEAT 2.0.57: SDCC DAY 1,274

By Marc Mason

Or does it only seem like it?

So last night, I tried to find my hotel room, only to discover that I had drank it. Both Brandon and I tied on one in epic fashion, and we discovered a couple of other friends that had as well. So when I woke up this morning… wow. It was ugly. My head was pounding, and I had no voice. On the bright side, when the room was spinning last night, I didn’t have what usually comes next after that.

No repeat tonight. If you’ve ever tried to do cast interviews for a TV show in a loud room when you have a hangover and no voice, you’d understand.

After the stuff with the SGU folks, I caught up with a friend that just arrived in town today, did some shopping (I performed my legal duty to buy SCOTT PILGRIM 6), and then did my stint at the NBM booth. Once again I guarded the section with the books from the Eurotica imprint. It turns out that I am a very efficient smut peddler- I helped move a LOT of books, though to be fair, that sort of material doesn’t need much assistance.

Finishing up that two hour block, I headed down the first aisle and began my through run of the show. I found a booth that was doing better prices than everyone else on discount trades, including $5 books from IDW. I pulled one of those, two 60% off Marvels, and two 60% off DC books. Pretty solid haul- $36 total for the five.

I also had the opportunity to bump into other folks I know and hadn’t seen yet as I completed my afternoon and do some catching up. I got all the way back to aisle fifteen on my thorough run before deciding to call it and head back to my room. Now it’s time to get ready to wander back down and do dinner. Then: a much soberer version of BarCon.

That’s feasible. Right?

OMNIUM GATHERUM 65

Omnium Gatherum #65: San Diego Comic-Con International 2010, Day 1: My Lunch With Dan DiDio

By
Vincent S. Moore

Howdy, folks.

Welcome once again to the Omnium Gatherum.

The first full day of San Diego Comic-Con began both earlier and later than I expected. I woke up early enough to get started on my day. But I chose to grab a few minutes more sleep after a long night. When I finally got up and actually moving, I realized I was running late. So I dashed out of my hotel and headed over to the convention center.

Which I hoped would be easy.

And it wasn’t.

By 9 am there was an ocean of humanity in my way.

I arrived at The Antidote Trust booth nearly 30 minutes late but to find my booth mates holding down the fort as the early con goers made their ways to their destinations. I settled in and started the day.

Until my legs grew tired of standing there waiting for interested patrons to stop by the booth. Now, don’t get me wrong. I love comics. I love selling comics, particularly those I worked on and those of my friends. However the never-ending flow of people going by can make one feel frustrated. Working in a comics store, what I see of comics buyers are those who are coming into my place of business to buy comics, whether it be one or many. Being at a comics convention can often mean having to work harder to convince some but not all potential buyers of your wares to actually buy your wares. If you are a bigger publisher, the books can sell themselves. If you are a small publisher, you may have to sell the books above and beyond whatever ways you may have packaged to the book to sell to comics shops. It can feel frustrating and tiring most of the time and satisfying when someone is willing to spend their money on you instead of or in addition to the big boys.

So I took a walk around the convention to see what I could see.

Along the way I bumped into Art Thibert, an old friend of mine, and his family. It was good to see more friendly and familiar faces. They looked good and Art shared really good news that is his to share with the world. Suffice it to say, it is always good to see old friends at these shows. It is a reminder that who one knows is as important as what one can do.

As I would learn again later.

After growing sick of walking the overcrowded floor and buying a couple of comics and an art book, I returned to TAT’s booth.

By the late morning most of the folks who are sharing the booth were there. Not necessarily a bad thing, but the small press booths at Comic-Con are designed to hold two people, maybe three. The Antidote Trust, at the time of my return in the late morning of Day 1, had six people standing behind the table. It was a bit tight. Thank the Buddha we’re all friends and friendly with each other.

One thing that makes the day pass for a dealer is having good company. So many different and wide ranging conversations took place.

For the most part, my day at the booth would follow this pattern. Standing, interacting with customers, walking the floor to stretch my legs. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Except for my second walkabout the convention floor.

On that occasion, the good fortune I’ve been having so far this convention led me to bump into Jim McLaughlin of The Hero Initiative. Jim just so happens to be a customer of Comics Ink where I work. So he knows me. I simply stopped to say hello and had something wonderful fall into my lap.

Jim asked me, after we exchanged pleasantries, if I could do him a favor.

I said yes, after he said he needed to check something first.

Jim asked me if I would be willing to do him a big favor. The Hero Initiative had auctioned off an hour lunch meeting with DC Co-Publisher Dan DiDio. Four out of the five winners were here and ready to go. The fifth was stuck in traffic on his way to the convention center and would miss the meeting. No substitute had been found and Jim was about to ask someone person at the DC Comics booth when I happened to walk up.

Talk about being in the right place at the right time. Or as we Nichiren Buddhists say, I was in rhythm.

I said yes, of course.

That started what was to be the coolest event of Comic-Con 2010 so far.

In time the other four participants gathered in the appointed meeting spot at The Hero Initiative’s booth, we all headed over to the Hard Rock Hotel, led by our minder, a very nice gentleman by the name of Ray. After passing through the mayhem occurring in the vicinity of the Gaslamp Quarter–from product placements to hype events for various shows to the many hangers-on handing out flyers and the like to passersby–and a brief hassle outside the hotel, we entered the Hard Rock and rode the elevator to the 12th floor and our lunch with Dan DiDio.

The room where we were to speak and eat and drink was a elegantly designed place, with lots of metal trim and simple furniture. The spread on the table was typical of this kind of event–fruit and vegetables, finger food and cheese. The bar was fully stocked, ready for just about any demand. And in the corner of the room sat the man himself.

We were all introduced to Mr. DiDio, with Jim starting off by introducing me as a troublemaker. We both laughed. That’s the kind of verbal play the customers of Comics Ink feel comfortable to engage with the guys behind the counter. Although, I thought to myself I hope Jim hasn’t read any of my past columns. Thus marked as the one who might cause trouble and aware of the warning against gauche behavior, I sat down at the end of the light tan leather couch nearest to Mr. DiDio’s chair. Each of the five attendees were more formally introduced to Dan (I mentioned working for Kevin Grevioux when I shook hands with him) and seated and one of the ladies working for the Hero Initiative–Christina was her name, if I remember correctly and if not, I apologize for the lapse–asked each of us for our drink requests. I asked for mine next to last in order (a screwdriver) and with that the conversation began.

I had heard Dan DiDio was a no-bullshit sort of person. He lived up to that statement very quickly.

I found Dan DiDio to be a very personable man, probably typical of someone who reaches the kind of position within a corporation that he holds. His laugh was warm and almost infectious. His manner and delivery straight forward yet friendly. Immediately I felt both at ease and a need to be on point with how I dealt with this man. Also, as with any comics fan on the path to becoming a professional, I wanted to take the best advantage of this shot without blowing it.

Dan started by trying to figure out what our initial questions would be. He did this by simply picking five of the hottest topics in fanboy circles. He did this with humor to lighten the tension. Which struck me as odd. Unlike myself, the four others in the room had paid for this privilege. I would imagine they would have been bursting with questions. But they sat there listening to Dan talk about the struggles to keep fans happy while bringing in new fans.

So Dan started asking each of us what our first comic was. And he said don’t our first DC comic, but our first comic, regardless of company. The first guy said his was the issue of Adventure Comics where the golden age Batman died. My being a know-it-all comics shop guy blurted out it was Adventure Comics #462. Dan said something to the effect of that was mighty Waid of me.

Mr. DiDio moved around the room, asking the same question, getting different answers. As my turn came, I never did answer. Mostly because the conversation started to turn towards other topics. Not that it matters to me. Any reader of the Omnium Gatherum knows what was my first comic; I’ve said it often enough here.

When the conversation truly began, one of the others asked his question about the dropping of the veil between the Vertigo characters and the main DC Universe and whether it would be possible for that to mean the return of Wesley Dodds the golden age Sandman. Dan handled that with a fair explanation about the balancing act between trying to honor some of the original heroes of the original universe and closing some characters’ doors permanently.

Next was a question about the new Batgirl that led DiDio to do his own producer’s commentary, as it were, about the process of creating the new Batgirl. This included talking about the story arc left on “the cutting room floor” where Barbara Gordon would have recovered her legs, resumed her career as Batgirl, only to lose it all and have to train Stephanie Brown to take her place. But, with the success of Batwoman, it was felt two red-headed Bat-related female characters would be too much. So Stephanie got her shot much sooner than planned.

Other questions were asked, about Wonder Woman’s new costume and Superman’s walkabout. Dan answered both with, first, a serious explanation of the hows and whys of recent Wonder Woman history, including the lateness plagued run by Allan Heinberg and Terry Dodson and Gail Simone’s recently finished run. The bottom line of this was the momentum surrounding Wonder Woman after Infinite Crisis was dissipated and lost and DC was in need of something that would rekindle interest in the Amazing Amazon. Enter J. Michael Straczynski. The idea of changing the costume and the origins slightly seemed likely ways of renewing interest in Wonder Woman. Which, for anyone who follows the comics blogosphere, is something that has happened. Oh, and Dan did say the jacket would be gone soon.

It was in the course of answering this question that I saw more deeply into the man. I saw the man who struggled to balance so many different agendas and demands. I saw someone who loved comics and wanted/wants to make the best ones he can. I saw a man who believes in his work but can laugh enough at himself and his job and even at those who buy his product, not in ways that ridicule but in ways that lighten the load and the spirit.

The only question I had to ask, after prefacing it by being open about this column, was how did he deal with the kerfuffle over the death of Ryan Choi.

I am a person of color. Naturally, seeing heroes of color is a good thing to my way of thinking. The more, the merrier. So the loss of one hero of color is felt more powerfully by fans of color than by white fans. But I wanted to know not so much why was this decision made but how did it and the reactions to it affect Dan DiDio.

His explanation, while it didn’t completely satisfy me (aren’t those colored folks ever satisfied?!?), was enlightening as much into the decision making process as it was into his coping strategy for dealing with crazy fans.

Basically, with the return of Ray Palmer, Ryan Choi was redundant as a character. More deeply, DiDio talked about the struggle to bring more characters of color into the DC Universe while acknowledging just how diverse the DCU is today. In addition, he talked about balancing those fans who want and need to list every indignity done to a female character or a character of color as a way of showing they are not represented and those fans who don’t want anymore characters of color in the books. In other words, a task that may have challenged Solomon’s wisdom.

I could tell DiDio’s answers came from a place where he had thought a lot about the issue. Indeed, he confirmed this by mentioning conversations with Dwayne McDuffie about this topic. According to DiDio, McDuffie said one of the problems with introducing new heroes of color is as long as they do not interact with Superman and/or Batman, these heroes won’t and don’t seem real or really matter to fans. An idea that, even as I write this, I’m not sure how to grasp. Mainly because one way of interpreting this statement is to say that no hero of color in the DC Universe matters unless they get some kind of approval from Superman and Batman. In other words, the two great white gods have to give their blessing before being considered legitimate. Another way of interpreting this, a better way, is to say as long as heroes of color don’t interact as equals with Superman and Batman they are not as cool.

I can see that. I may not like it but I can see it.

The conversation continued. Topics such as digital delivery, the comics movies, and others came up and were discussed. However, at this point both due to not carrying any kind of recording device besides my memory and out of respect for Jim McLaughlin, Dan DiDio (it’s kind of hard to ignore someone who says to you during the overall conversation that one piece of inside and insightful information had better not end up in this column), the Hero Initiative and its mission, I will let what else happened remain in that room with those who were there. Suffice it to say, a good and friend conversation about things comics and continuity continued.

Towards the end of the conversation, the five of us took a picture with Mr. DiDio for the Hero Initiative’s website and for posterity. I’m pretty sure you folks will be able to look it and see it on the web either towards the end of the show or before Comic-Con comes to a close. But I also have the memories of meeting with Dan DiDio and the growing feeling (enlightenment?) that he is at heart another fan on his path to making the kinds of comics he and we all can love. It isn’t perfect but he wants DC to always be on the way to perfecting itself and its universe and the ways the company can reach audiences new and old.

With a final shake of hands, I left the room with the others.

I exited the Hard Rock Hotel, feeling grateful I had the opportunity to meet with Dan DiDio in such a setting and, naturally, for the material the meeting would provide for this column. Hey, I gotta be me, right?

I also felt that heavy indeed is the head that wears the crown.

As much as I would love to have that very job, I could see how it ain’t all it is cracked up to be.

After all, Dan DiDio has to put up with us crazy fans.

Keeping that in mind, I would like for all of us fans of DC Comics to take a moment and reflect upon the folks who put up with all of our demands and our bullshit. They are fans too. They are humans as well, with thoughts and feelings and the capacity to do things brilliant and not so brilliant. Like us, the folks behind the scenes at DC are making it as they go along, just like the rest of us. Yeah, I know these editors and creators get paid the big bucks. But in the course of earning those wages, these people also collect the wages of our rage and joy, our sorrow and disappointment at their efforts. So, have a heart every now and then.

Because it takes super people like Dan DiDio to keep our heroes alive and fresh and coming to a comics shop near us each and every week.

Thank you to Jim McLaughlin for even giving me the opportunity to attend. And thank you to Dan DiDio for sharing your time for such as good cause as the Hero Initiative and for sharing your warmth and insights and time with us fans.

Until next time, folks.

Namaste.

AISLE SEAT 2.0.56

AISLE SEAT 2.0.56: SDCC 2010 DAY THREE

By Marc Mason

I had to be up at 8 this morning. This was not a promising start to the day.

That said, I managed to get moving and get myself down to the con area. My first stop was actually not inside the con, it was a press event in the Marriott next door, which worked out nicely. I was able to relax and clear my head away from the horde, interview the guys from LOOK AROUND YOU, and get the morning rolling.

Of course, it went to shit immediately after.

I was supposed to ride in the Green Hornet’s car after that, and after I traipsed over half a mile away from the con in the wrong direction, I arrived where I was told to go and there was nothing there. I went into the nearby bank and restaurant, and no one in either place had heard of the place I was supposed to go, either.

I was a little pissed. This ultimately ate up an hour of my day. For nothing. I was so angry, I used a pedicab for the first time in my life to get back to the show. The Polish hottie on the pedals seduced me with her accent, plus, she was actually helpful in trying to help me find the place I was supposed to go.

Back inside the con, I caught up to Brandon doing his first DC signing, saw Elliott for the first time since he arrived, and then did a little shopping. After that, I worked at the NBM booth for the first time, then took off for the far end of the show to interview Dave Gibbons.

Gibbons is as charming a fellow as you could hope he’d be, and after we chatted about the official stuff, I shut off the recorder and we talked about MARTHA WASHINGTON for a few minutes, Definitely a show highlight.

Another round of chatting with folks, an hour at the NBM booth, and it was time to get away. Now: off for dinner and BarCon!

OMNIUM GATHERUM 64

Omnium Gatherum #64: The Hours After Preview Night at San Diego Comic-Con International 2010

By
Vincent S. Moore

Howdy, folks.

Welcome once again to the Omnium Gatherum.

It is now nighttime in San Diego as I write this. The long short day of Comic-Con International, also known as Preview Night, has been over for three hours. The convention center is empty at this point in time, the wares and toys and other items of the various publishers of all shapes and sizes and resting in the dark, waiting for tomorrow’s true beginning. In hotels and condos and all sorts of other accommodations in and around the greater city of San Diego are the sleeping (and maybe not sleeping) forms of those professionals and exhibitors who will once more head into the breach of the convention center in the morning, preparing for the first long true long day.

I am only up because I wanted to write something of the day. And because I’m waiting for my migraine pills to kick into action.

The preview night at The Antidote Trust booth went by smoothly, with some initial sales typical of the first night. Folks at the con are waiting to see all of the treasures being offered before they make their decision to buy. So they walk by booths, looking, watching, trying to see that one or four things which will catch their eyes and need to go home with them. And so they walked by The Antidote Trust booth. But we have the rest of the show to attract those new and old fans, to get them to sample our wares. We will have the same chance as everybody else does at Comic-Con. And we will do our best not to waste it.

I had better get some sleep now. I have to be at the booth bright and early in the morning. All to set up and be ready for the new day and all of the challenges and wonders it will bring.

I said it before, but I can’t wait.

Namaste.