Last year when I participated in the BlackMilk photoshoot and meet-up in NYC, JL and Cam made a little announcement about obtaining a Warner Brothers license and I have been looking forward to their Harry Potter collection ever since. Albeit, almost exactly one year later, my nylon Harry Potter dreams are coming true. I couldn’t be happier if a had kitten named Crookshanks to keep my company during the release. Being a Ravenclaw, I was originally worried that the collection would mostly contain pieces allowing wearers to display their Gryffindor and Slytherin house pride, but fortunately BlackMilk has covered all four houses! I’ve been saving up for the release for quite some time since I want to ensure that my Harry Potter wardrobe quota is met.
When BlackMilk released their Lord of the Rings and Hobbit collection, some of my best bi-coastal friends and I met up via Google+ hangout for a Tolkien themed shopping date. We decided to do the same thing for this release, which luckily is earlier than last time. Instead of wine, I’ll be preparing a frosty mug of frozen Butterbeer to consume during our magical shopping spree. I may even don my Ravenclaw dress robes. Below are some of the pieces I’m trying to choose between. Chances are I’ll end up buying most of the items I’ve posted. Too bad I can’t use my Luna Lovegood wand replica to cast a spell that would replenish my bank account. Also unfortunate, my bank account isn’t full of gold and my account isn’t at Gringotts. Nor are my bank tellers Goblins. You can see the full collection on the BlackMilk Pinterest page, but here are my top picks!
I wasn’t planning on writing a panel schedule post, but last night I received some exciting news and it looks like I’ll be able to attend both days of Baltimore Comic Con! Which also means, I have more panel flexability because I won’t be trying to maximize my floor time and fit everything into one day. I’m especially excited because I really wanted to attend the Fables panel but since it is 2 hours long, I didn’t think I would be able to. But now I can! Anyway, here are the panels I’m most likely going to attend!
3:00-5:00 – The Official East Coast Fables Panel
The Official East Coast Fables Panel will feature Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, Adam Hughes, Barry Kitson, Chrissie Zullo, and more of the extended Fables family for a whole TWO HOURS. Join them as they discuss the past, present and future of the series, do giveaways and more for the first hour and then go behind-the-scenes and delve inside the construction of a new Fables story in the second hour.
5:00-6:00 – IDW Presents: Joe Hill
As the Locke family’s long ordeal comes to a close with Locke & Key: Alpha, join IDW’s VP of Marketing, Dirk Wood, as he moderates a discussion with award-winning author, Joe Hill. Come find out Joe’s thoughts on the end of his run on Locke & Key, and his plans for the future! Featuring Q&A, hi-jinx, and tales told in the inimitable Joe Hill style!
1:00-4:00 – Costume Contest sponsored by Stylin’ Online!
The fun begins at 1:00 pm! With $1,000 up for grabs for the best overall costume and prizes for each of the 10 categories, this is one event all of you cosplayers don’t want to miss! Adult Categories have a $5 entry fee per person. Contest registration at booth #2505.
2:00-3:00 – IDW: The Big Panel
Join IDW’s VP of Marketing, Dirk Wood, with industry legend Walter Simonson, and a host of special surprise guests! Find out what IDW has planned for the rest of 2013 and beyond! Madcap laughs, Q&A, announcements, prizes, and a guest appearance from a creator you won’t believe!
At most conventions it’s difficult to meet and spend one on one time with creators because of huge lines and such, but that is not the case at Baltimore Comic Con. I usually don’t write a “Writer’s I Can’t Wait To Meet” post because chances are, I’d have to spend most of my con floor time waiting in a line, and quite frankly, that’s not why I go to cons. Midtown Comics often hosts comic signings with wonderful creators in the industry, so I always make my way over to those and I reserve my con time for mingling with friends, admiring cosplayers, purchasing new toys, and swooning over all the prints in artist alley. But for Baltimore Comic Con it’s reasonable to formulate a mental (and now physical) list of writers you’re looking forward to seeing. Here are mine!
Mike Carey – Baltimore Comic Con is Mike Carey’s only United States convention of the year, and I’ve currently been re-reading and obsessing over his Unwritten series for Vertigo. Carey has an original graphic novel coming out later this year based on Tom Taylor’s adventures and I’ve been dying to find out more information about the story. You may also be familiar with Carey’s other series Lucifer, which is a spinoff of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman. He’s also written some Hellblazer, Fantastic Four, and a whole lot of X-Men.
Joe Hill – I haven’t yet met Joe Hill which is kind of crazy since I admire him and his prose so much! I was thrilled to see his name on the list of attendees this year and I can’t wait to introduce myself to him. Joe and I have followed each other on Twitter for quite some time now (ever since I wrote a few reviews gushing about him & Gabriel Rodriguez’s brilliant Locke & Key series), and I’m so excited to get to see him IRL. I’m also a huge fan of his horror novels Horns, Heart Shaped Box, and of course NOS4A2. And holy smokes, I am so excited for his upcoming Wraith: Welcome to Christmasland comic!
Sean Gordon Murphy – You may also recognize Sean Gordon Murphy from my Top 7 Artists I Want To Give All Of My Money To post from yesterday. Murphy is a jack of trades having mastered both writing an incredible story and illustrating one in his own stylized manner. I first fell in love with Murphy’s work after reading Punk Rock Jesus, and I’m currently loving the Vertigo series, The Wake, he’s co-creating with Scott Snyder. I actually met Murphy at a Midtown signing a few months before I left for filming, and again on Free Comic Book Day, but nonetheless, I’m excited to see what he has with him in Baltimore. Oh! He also designed a super awesome Batman Black & White statue that you have a chance of winning from Comics Alliance.
Mark Waid – Mark Waid is another writer I’ve met in the past, but I’m still really looking forward to seeing again. Waid was at Baltimore Comic Con last year and he has one of the best senses of humor of anyone I’ve ever met. He helped moderate the Marvel NOW panel which was getting ready to launch at the time (oh, memories). Waid actually made my brother stand up in the middle of the panel because he just so happened to be borrowing and wearing my “I’m not Daredevil,” t-shirt from WeLoveFine which Matt Murdock dons in issue #7 of Mark Waid’s incredible run. Daredevil is my second favorite Marvel hero (second only to Spider-Man), and I absolutely adore the direction Waid has taken the series in. He’s also written some other notable stories like Kingdom Come and Superman: Birthright. So yeah, he’s kind of a big deal to me.
Bill Willingham – Bill writes one of my favorite Vertigo series of all time, Fables. I love everything that he’s done with the characters and how he’s modernized their story. He’s managed to create one of the most fascinating universe’s in comics today, and he shows no signs of stopping any time soon (thank goodness). I’ve also previously met Bill Willingham at last year’s New York Comic Con and he had plenty of hilarious stories to tell, including one about my best friend Melissa as the drunken Snow White from a signing in Texas a few years back. Baltimore Comic Con is also hosting the official East Coast Fables panel which is going to include the majority of creators who have worked on the book, and it’s going to be a full TWO hours!
After going back through my list, I’ve realized how many of these creators I’ve already met! Being the huge comics fan that I am, it doesn’t even lessen the excitement level for me the slightest bit, and I am so thankful for that feeling! One more day, and to Baltimore I go!
Normally I would narrow my list down to the top 5 artists I’m excited to see, but Baltimore Comic Con is an exception to all conventions. It was my favorite show I attended of 2012, and it’s always full of the industry’s top talent. Unlike SDCC or NYCC, it’s a much smaller scale convention, and it’s one of few that feels like everything about it is planned for fans. Many creators I’ve talked to have said that Baltimore Comic Con is one of the shows they do the best at, so it’s beneficial for both attendees and industry folk. But enough about the convention! Here’s a list of the top 7 artists I’m dying to buy prints from this year!
Sean Gordon Murphy
At San Diego Comic Con this year I was hardcore coveting the exclusive Wolverine and Venom Labbits by Kidrobot, but sadly, I didn’t get them. Call me crazy, but I was unable to choose just one. I had to have both or neither, but with limited suitcase space, and my Super Best Friends Forever exclusive, the Hasbro My Little Pony, and a vast selection of new prints, I wasn’t going to be able to carry them back with me if I tried. Since I’ve gotten home, both Labbits have appeared online (and on my Amazon wish list) but then I heard about the new blind box mini Labbit series that Kidrobot is producing and I nearly lost my mind. The line includes miniature versions of the aforementioned Labbits, as well as Galactus, Doom, Loki holding Thor’s hammer, Deadpool, Red Skull, Doc Ock, and Punisher. But Kidrobot’s site says there are 10 in all, so there must be one more that hasn’t been revealed yet! The figures are 2.5 inches tall, retail for only $9.99, and they’re being released on September 12th (online and in-store). Needless to say, I’ll be making a trip to SoHo so I CAN BUY THEM ALL.
It’s no secret that Jeff Lemire is one of my favorite writers and artists currently producing content in the comic book industry, which is why I had been looking forward to reading Trillium since the day it was first announced at NYCC in 2012. Trillium is an 8 issue miniseries written and painted by Lemire centering around two characters; Nika Temsmith, a botanist working in space 1,000 years in the future in search of a rare flower, Trillium, needed to cure a virus from 3739, and William Pike, a WWI veteran journeying through the Amazon while experiencing PTSD. The series is a science fiction love story, subtitled The Last Love Story Ever Told, which takes place across time and the universe. Intriguing, am I right?
In typical Jeff Lemire fashion, the first issue completely exceeded all of my expectations. The issue is divided into two 14 page sections which tell the stories that lead the main characters to meet each other from each of their points of view. There’s something poetic about two characters who’re meant to fall in love with one another literally meeting in the middle of the issue (similar to how all relationships require compromises, and for each person to meet the other halfway). Lemire has taken the typical story structure of most literature (exposition –> rising action –> climax –> falling action –> denouement) and recreated the story chart for Trillium by applying it in a way where the end is directly in the center of the book. Technically speaking, there is no falling action or denouement in the first issue because both sides of the climax constitute the rising action for one of the characters. The way Lemire is able to revolutionize storytelling never ceases to amaze me. After reading the first issue, I watched this interview with him on CBR, and learned that each side of the story not only has an equal number of pages, but it also has an equal panel count on each page, and the exact same page layout for both character’s stories. Lemire is correct in stating that he “created the perfect mirror.” He also informs CBR that the second issue, which comes out this Wednesday, is going to be all about language.
I would be remiss in ending my review here without mentioning the beautiful artwork that enhances the narrative, and takes on a burden equal to that of the prose in conveying Trillium’s story. Flipping through the painted panels is reminiscent of what it must feel like to experience a lucid dream in Lemire’s head. The book is water colored by Jose Villarrubia who previously worked with Lemire on his last Vertigo series, Sweet Tooth. There’s a clear shift in the style of art used in Sweet Tooth to the style used in Trillium (which is similar to the art in Lemire’s original graphic novel Underwater Welder), and there’s no doubt that the pair have certainly grown and matured together in their progression from series to series. One of my favorite aspects of all of Lemire’s artwork is that the way his character’s are drawn allow the reader to grasp the experience and stress behind the character’s journey up until this point in time. So far, we’re aware that William is a war veteran, but it’s his physical features and flashback panels that give us a hint as to how traumatized his character truly is. If you haven’t read Trillium #1 just yet, I highly recommend purchasing the issue as a physical comic. You will reap the rewards of the flip book element of the story and the mirrored panels will be more easily appreciated than if you were to read it digitally.
Trillium #2 debuts in comic shops this Wednesday September 4th.
Seeing as how this is a holiday weekend and all, I had a little extra time this morning to lay in bed without feeling guilty and while I was browsing through my twitter feed, I happened to see a tweet by my internet friend Jen, alerting me to the fact that Target is now carrying Pumpkin Spice M&M’s. I leaped out from under my covers with a kind of motivation on par with how Captain America must feel when Nick Fury gives him a new S.H.I.E.L.D. assignment. I threw on the closest t-shirt, pair of shorts, and Converse sneakers I could find, all the while having daydreams about how the rest of my day would play out. I stopped only for a second to visit the Target website, and make sure that my precious pumpkin spice M&M’s were in stock at my preferred Target location. I can’t remember anything from my drive over. Did I listen to music? Probably, my mind was 100% focused on the end goal. I parked my car, ran into the store and bounded down the M&M aisle. Peanut M&M’s, Peanut Butter M&M’s, Milk Chocolate, Dark Chocolate, Coconut, Almond… OMG THERE AREN’T ANY PUMPKIN SPICE. I immediately began to freak out. I had flashbacks to last year and began feeling a pit form in the bottom of my stomach. It was going to be Candy Corn Oreo’s all over again. “Douglas Adams would tell you not to panic,” I told myself. I began to breathe. I looked for the closest Target employee and told him I NEEDED pumpkin spice M&M’s but they’re not in the M&M aisle. “Hmmm, I saw those earlier today,” he said, “Give me a minute.” I paced and paced until he returned from customer service with three packages in hand! I became so excited that I nearly jumped up and down in the middle of the store. Achievement unlocked! “Here you go!” he said, handing me one bag. “I think I better get at least two packages…” I thoughtfully countered. So yeah, now I am the proud consumer of Pumpkin Spice M&M’s. The second half of my quest, the return home, is anticlimactic compared to acquiring my precious, so I’ll go right ahead and describe the taste to you.
Pumpkin Spice M&M’s are manufactured in the exact way as peanut butter M&M’s. If you bite into the shell leaving half of the M&M in tact (similar to a diagram of the Earth’s core, except, you know, with chocolate), you’ll see that just beneath the shell is a thin layer of the pumpkin spice flavoring with the milk chocolate encapsulated in the center. The pumpkin spice flavoring compliments the chocolate and sugary shell surprisingly well. I’ll buy just about anything that is pumpkin spice flavored, so I’ve had my fair share of disappointment in the past, but these delicious pieces of candy exceed all expectations. They’re spicy and sweet all at once which gives your tastebuds an incredibly satisfying experience. I’m almost kicking myself for not purchasing more packages because these have become an instant favorite of mine. I’m considering using my second package to make a batch of pumpkin spice M&M cookies, but we’ll see if they last long enough for me to get around to actually baking them! If you’re considering buying some of these, I would suggest getting them ASAP. They’re bound to sell out quickly once other pumpkin spice aficionados such as myself become privy to their existence.
A few nights ago I read the first two issues of Batman ’66 and for lack of a better phrase, I’m completely obsessed. In just 50 pages (30 pages in issue #1, and 20 pages in issue #2), we’ve already been introduced to Batman, Robin, Riddler (the Frank Gorshin version), Penguin, Mr. Freeze, Catwoman, Commissioner Gordon, Alfred, and Circe. And we’ve already gotten some classic Boy Wonder exclamations such as “Holy Evil Alliance,” “Holy Tightrope,” and “”Should I enter it into the Bat-Computer?” The first two issues each contain one main story, and a backup story. Jeff Parker, who writes the series, told the NY Post that he listens to the characters speaking while he creates their dialogue, which you can easily tell while you’re reading. Parker has a much bigger opportunity to tell grander stories since there’s no budget for effects in a comic book, and it comes through in his writing that Parker is basically telling dream Batman ’66 stories which wouldn’t have been able to be told on the television series due to monetary restrictions. We haven’t seen a full blown Batusi yet, but hopefully Parker was foreshadowing in the first issue when a bar patron asks “Batman, I was hoping to run into you! Can you show us how to do that dance we heard about?” Sadly Bats doesn’t have the time because he and the Boy Wonder are investigating a serious crime.
Jonathan Case, who illustrates and colors the series, created artwork which perfectly captures the overall tone. He uses bright neon colors which pop against contrasting backgrounds, and in the first issue with the Riddler, he outlines all of the landscapes with blue lines which creates a kind of 3D effect in a much more attractive version of Gotham. Case perfectly captures the likeness of the Adam West, Burt Ward, and Julie Newmar’s ’66 characters, using smooth rounded lines, and hairstyles consistent with the decade to depict the cast of the comic. And I just have to say this – Case’s Catwoman is purrfect. I’m also loving the use of the exaggerated sound effects within the comics’ panels. And the covers are drawn and colored by Mike and Laura Allred, who just so happen to be two of my favorite artists. I can’t even begin to count the number of times I have flipped through these issues.
According to Comics Alliance, a very classy Mad Men-like version of Harley Quinn will be appearing in issue #7. If you’re reading the comic digitally, you’ve already seen Harley’s introduction, but since I’m reading in print, I’m only up to issue #2. Batman ’66 is part of the DC2 initiative to convert readers to digital comics. I’ve been reading the physical printed copies, which are released on a very delayed time schedule compared to their digital counterparts, but since I loved the first two issues so much, I think I’m going to finally cave in and start buying the series from ComiXology… as well as the print issues… and the trade. *Makes fist* damn you DC Comics for monopolizing my bank account!
This past weekend was arguably one of the best weekends ever. My best friend, Melissa, came over Friday afternoon, and we ended up having so much fun that she didn’t leave until Sunday evening! Anytime Mel comes to visit me, we always end up shopping at Barnes and Noble, Hot Topic, the comic book store, and several other locations, but this time, we were shopping with a purpose. We decided it would be fun to customize some vinyl toys so in addition to all of the books, clothes, and collectibles we usually purchase, we were also in the market for art supplies.
We spent about 13 hours painting toys while we watched Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles I & II, Terminator 2, and Robocop. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies led to us ordering a pizza (obviously). There is probably no food in the world that’s better than a New York pizza with extra cheese.
But back to toys! Melissa and I basically made our toy dreams into a reality this weekend. We’re both really into pastel colors, and if it were up to us, there would be a lot more pink in the world. So we took that dream and applied it (almost literally!) to our new collectibles. I’m so thrilled to be the proud owner of a rainbow Robocop army, a pink Batman with a gold sparkly belt, Tinker Bell’s twin sister who prefers pink, a glittery Silver Surfer, and the sparkliest Spider-Man bank you will ever lay eyes on.
My absolute favorite toys that Melissa customized are her lime green Terminator figure, and her pink Hulk. If I saw either of them on a shelf at a store or convention, I would totally purchase them immediately!
Here’s a photo of what all of our toys looked like before…
…. and after!
Paradise Kiss by Ai Yazawa is a series that feels as if it were written for me. Having gone to fashion school myself and spending the majority of my years in high school focusing more on my career than studying for tests, I completely relate to Yukari (aka Caroline, aka Carrie). In the beginning, Yukari is a shy student with little confidence and direction, but everything changes for her when she meets Arashi, Miwako, Isabella and George (students at Yaza Arts, a fashion institute). Arashi bumps into Yukari on the street and asks her to be a model for their fashion show. At first, Yukari has many reservations about modeling, but once she visits their atelier she sees how serious the group is about producing and selling Paradise Kiss label clothing. She waits several days to give them her final answer, but she ultimately decides to lie to her mother, skip out on cram school, and help out at the atelier as much as she possibly can. Infatuated by the brands designer, George, and driven by a a newfound career passion, Yukari’s character becomes way more dynamic. Throughout the series she continues to grow and push her sense of free will to the limit.
Yukari immerses herself in the world of fashion. She becomes best friends with Miwako, who is constantly comparing herself and trying to measure up to her older sister, the designer of Happy Berry clothing. Miwako helps Yukari with girly things like picking out clothing and acting as a makeup artist as well as offering her comfort in times of need, and a place to stay when things get rough. Yukari also ditches her childhood crush on a fellow student in high school and gets involved in a twisted and confusing romance with the irresistible George. It’s questionable whether George’s antics are helping or hindering Yukari’s development, but it’s a storyline you’ll be clinging to until the very last word.
One of the most fascinating aspects of the series is how self aware the characters are, and their constant habit of breaking the fourth wall. The majority of Yukari’s communication of her innermost thoughts to the reader is primarily through monologues, while the other characters will turn their heads to the read and blatantly express a thought, apologize for jumping around, or clarify which type of chapter this will be. Also, it would be impossible to fully express my love of this series without mentioning the amazing artwork. Each character is drawn flawlessly! They’re just the right mix of cute, chic, and youthful. Obviously their clothes are to die for (as this is a tale about fashion), and the atelier looks like my high school dream hangout. Throughout the series I felt connected and invested in each character’s life. I will forever be grateful to Betty Felon who enlightened me with her recommendation (for those who don’t know, she’s pretty fashionable herself ^_^). Paradise Kiss is without a doubt my favorite manga series, and I would go so far as to say that it is also one of my favorite series I’ve ever read in any form of literature.
You can pick up all three volumes of Paradise Kiss on Amazon, or at a bookstore near you that sells manga! If you decide to indulge yourself and read the series, I’d love to hear your thoughts on Yukari and the Yaza Arts kids!