By Jason Harris
Vermont Comic Con, the first ever comic con in Vermont, took place at the Sheraton Hotel in Burlington over the weekend. The two-day convention was a huge success and will happen again next year, but on Labor Day weekend.
The first Rock Comic Expo happened yesterday at the Rockingham Park in Salem, New Hampshire. The Expo was created by J. Moulton. It ran from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. It was a day of people in cosplay and talking with authors and artists.
Moulton plans to make the comic expo a two-day event next year. He is also involved with Vermont Comic Con, which debuts in October.
The Rock Comic Expo is a one-day show happening in Salem, New Hampshire on Saturday. The expo will consist of vendors, comic book artists and authors from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Tickets to the Expo are $5. The Expo takes place at Rockingham Park in Salem, NH.
Lew Temple’s time on The Walking Dead has ended, but he’s still proud of the work he did on the series, even though he thinks his character Axel had more to do in the show.
“I was obviously disappointed,” Lew Temple said. “I thought he was going to be serviceable to the group.”
Temple was given the news three weeks in advance that his character was going to die. He was in denial at first, but after some time he had to commit to it, he said.
“My intent is to always serve the story and that was my job. I wanted to do the best job possible.”
Temple did feel “disappointed for Axel,” though. As an actor, he will go on and work, but Axel is gone forever, he said.
The character of Axel will live on in The Walking Dead comic books and in reruns.
Temple did use the comic book character of Axel as a blueprint. Since comic books are one-dimensional, he had to make the character three-dimensional.
“I’m certain that we were able to use some of Robert [Kirkman’s] characteristics of Axel, but also brought some of my own to it as well.”
The producers on the zombie series knew of Temple before he came on in season three since he had been in to see them for the pilot.
“They looked at me for the role of Merle, originally, and then after that they hired Michael Rooker. Then they needed Merle’s brother, Daryl, who at that time was not even named.”
Temple auditioned for Daryl by reading Merle’s lines differently, which he was asked to do by the producers.
“Thankfully, they hired Norman Reedus. So when Axel came around they came to me and we were able to make that work.”
Temple was aware of the popularity of The Walking Dead, but not of the cross-cultural phenomenon it has become.
“I would say it hasn’t hurt me,” Temple said about Hollywood recognizing him from the popular series. “I would say prior to The Walking Dead I had a certain body of work Hollywood was aware of, and I was working prior to The Walking Dead …”
He admits that the series has elevated his visibility, which has helped him. He doesn’t know if his time on the series has defined him, which only “time will tell.”
“I like to do diverse stuff. I’m certainly proud of the work I did on The Walking Dead and to be part of that show. It’s been such an incredible hit.”
Temple has worked with writer and director Rob Zombie on Halloween and The Devil’s Rejects. He has “a really great relationship beyond a working relationship” with Zombie.
“I adore working with him because he knows what he wants and wants what he knows so there’s not a lot of grey area in-between. He is an absolute perfectionist and he does whatever it takes to make the day work, and if that means he needs to provide something on set, he does so.”
He does expect to work with Zombie again because he thinks they work well together. He just doesn’t know when that will happen.
“I think that I bring something to his story that he appreciates. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Lew Temple in a Rob Zombie production yet again.”
Along with acting, Temple is “an incredible baseball fan.” He adores the game and it has been his first passion since he was a little boy. He’s even played it all the way up until the minor leagues with the Seattle Mariners and Houston Astros. When he couldn’t play the game, he worked as a baseball scout for the New York Mets. Now he roots for the Atlanta Braves.
“I would say I’m excited for the Red Sox, but rooting for the [Detroit] Tigers.”
Temple also writes music.
“I think that I am a pretty interesting songwriter. I think that I am able to spin a tune, at least in my head.”
He has a record deal with Universal through the Rob Zombie production, Banjo and Sullivan.
Once in awhile you get to do something really interesting, like get a glimpse into another world where people are nice, intelligent, and having fun in a different way. I had that experience this weekend at Granite State Comicon, a convention held in Manchester, NH, for people to meet who enjoy a variety of things: comics, costume play (cosplay), science fact and science fiction, fantasy, horror, anime, manga, and just hanging out with like-minded people.
This particular annual gathering began ten years ago, and Chris Proulx, co-owner of Manchester’s Double Midnight Comics, organizes the event. The show has proven popular, and grown to be a two-day event, with roughly 3000 people attending. It’s such a rush for those attending there were already people trying to register for next year, while the event was going on.
There was a great deal to see: panel discussions on various subjects, Ghostbusters, the only privately-held Delorean from the “Back to the Future” movies, R2-D2 and Imperial stormtroopers, vampires, pirates, superheroes and villains of all stripes, and even a place to play working arcade games from the past.
The people who come to the con love the stories and characters they find in graphic novels, movies, television, podcasts, and online. Many of them enjoy dressing up as a particular character they find appealing, and there are contests for best costumes in many different categories. But these are no mere outfits grabbed off the rack at a party store, they are meticulously researched and hand-crafted designs of ingenuity and creativity.
You may have seen a television show about people who cosplay and enter these contests, but in true television fashion, it shows many participants in a less-than-attractive light, editing to make them seem as if they are nasty competitors. Those in the costume contest I saw were nothing but supportive of each other, cheering each announced prize and high-fiving each category winner. I spoke with one participant who had a costume that included beautiful, hand-crafted armor. Having made armor myself, I know how difficult and time-consuming the process is, and complimented him on a stunning display. Though he was completely passed over for any prizes (an oversight, to say the least), he had no words of disparagement for his fellow competitors, no whining or complaining like you might see on television. A true hero of cosplay, and one who embodies the completely positive spirit of the whole event.
One costumer (cosplayer) who really goes above and beyond is artist Amy Fletcher, who over the years has become well-known for a series of striking mermaid costumes: steampunk mermaid, goth mermaid, even Ariel (from a well-known animated film). She’s back at cons after a hiatus, and what she does is more performance art than just dressing up. A true mermaid costume restricts ones movements, and she sits for hours at a time on display, where fascinated folk come to take pictures and marvel at the attention to detail on the current incarnation. Amy says she enjoys meeting people and being an inspiration to others, and loves to push creativity. Her attitude is: “Have fun, be yourself, and don’t care what others think!” Check out her website for great art and all things mermaid: http://sinicallytwisted.bravehost.com/.
One place that encourages and educates this convention audience (and the world beyond) is Sci-Fi Saturday Night, a wicked cool podcast of all things science fiction. Check out their site and listen in on Thursday nights for news, interviews, and commentary by a talented cast of characters and guests from film, TV, and the writing world. Yeah, when I can tune in and hear classic writers like Spider Robinson and Harlan Ellison, you’ve got me without anything else. Then they’ll bring on someone like actor Lance Henriksen from the Aliens movie, just for good measure!
And there are illustrators by the score, vending their artwork in various forms. Many have created graphic novels or other books, such as Susan Saunders, who was at her first convention, selling her children’s book Snowpocalypse, co-written with well-known horror writer Rob Watts. With a background as a schoolteacher, she’s now interested in creating literature for children. She enjoyed the people-watching element of the show, and was getting inspiration from the many other artists on display.
There were other writers as well, most notably a contingent of the New England Horror Writers. Rob Smales, one of those selling books with the group, said that there were “a metric butt-ton of good writers in the New England area– some seriously creative people.” Earlier in the day, he’d gone around the event with a death mask on to scare up some business.
You see a lot of good ideas here, such as raising money for charities– for example, the Ghostbusters of New Hampshire, who go to cons as their favorite movie characters, complete with heavy packs and gear for dealing with paranormal occurrences. They pay their own way, and make appearances and accept donations from attendees which all go to a specified charity. At the event, they were raising money for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing. The Delorean Time Machine is doing something similar, and making appearances to raise money for the Michael J. Fox Foundation.
So it was a great time, talking to filmmakers, photographers, and fans. Artisans creating accessories and vendors selling items from favorite shows and comic lines. Enthusiastic people having a ball, enjoying themselves and learning about many creative venues while meeting people from all over. If this sounds like your thing, there’s a slew of shows throughout the year, and New England hosts a number of them.
HE SAID: The Dark Knight Rises does not advance Christopher Nolan’s Batman franchise. It’s the weakest of the three movies. In his defense, it’s hard to outdo yourself when your last endeavor included Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker.
The movie starts eight years after The Dark Knight with a memorial for Harvey Dent in front of Wayne Manor. Batman hasn’t been seen since the fateful night of Dent’s death and Bruce Wayne has become a recluse with a limp.
Director Christopher Nolan portrays main villain, Bane, with the right respect, unlike Bane’s portrayal in Batman & Robin. This is the character that in Batman: Knightfall, the serial that ran in 1993, orchestrated the assault on Batman, then broke his back.
Nolan chose Tom Hardy (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) to play the ex-communicated member of the League of Shadows, the organization created by Ra’s Al Ghul. Hardy was superb as Bane. He was the right size and had the right muscle mass. The only problem is you can’t understand him 90 percent of the time. Since Nolan and his brother Jonathan wrote the screenplay, you would think they would want their words heard and understood by the audience.
Anne Hathaway (Alice in Wonderland) dons the mask and claws of Catwoman in Nolan’s franchise. Her portrayal is right up their with Michelle Pfeiffer’s performance in Batman Returns. Nolan captures the character quite well. There should have been more of Catwoman, though.
Nolan’s script abounds with in-jokes such as when Morgan Freeman’s Lucius Fox shows Bruce “the Bat” and he tells him it does come in black. This is in reference to the scene in Batman Begins where Bruce asks Fox if “the tumbler” comes in black. It also brings the franchise full circle by mentioning Ra’s Al Ghul, who was the villain in Batman Begins. Nolan also shows scenes from the first two movies to show how his trilogy is connected. It’s just too bad the movie couldn’t have had a better connection to the greatest of the previous two movies.
SHE SAID: The Dark Knight Rises clearly draws from the very first scene of the first movie, in which Thomas Wayne asks “And why do we fall, Bruce? … So we can learn to pick ourselves up.” Everything takes a tumble in this film – Commissioner Gordon’s reputation falls, Bruce Wayne has a spiritual fall, and the city of Gotham itself is set up for a fall. What’s a dark knight to do? Get up and save the day, of course. The problem is that all of these redemptions take waaaaay too long.
This movie spends too much time cutting between the looming threat of Gotham’s destruction and Bruce Wayne’s climb out of the depths of darkness, only to emerge a better man (with a hot new girlfriend in a catsuit to boot.) Anne Hathaway makes the Catwoman character all her own, and I have to agree with Jason that she could’ve used more screen time. Michael Caine (Inception) is still formidable as Alfred, but his presence is sorely missed for a good chunk of the movie. Morgan Freeman (The Shawshank Redemption) and Gary Oldman (Bram Stoker’s Dracula) are also still fantastic as Lucius Fox and Commissioner Jim Gordon, respectively. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is introduced as John Blake, a troubled cop who wants to do the right thing. While his performance is fine, it’s not difficult to figure out where he fits in with the Batman legacy.
It would be hard for any D.C. Comics villain to follow in the footsteps of the late Heath Ledger’s delectable Joker, so don’t hold it against Tom Hardy that his Bane falls short. This baddie goes from terrifying to tepid in an instant once his full backstory is revealed; plus, it doesn’t help that his face gear makes him practically unintelligible. However, if it’s hand-to-hand combat and things blowing up that makes a movie great for you, this one has plenty.
Jason and I concur: three out of four stars.
Quick introduction: I’m Rick Silva. I’m a relatively new member of the NEHW, but I’ve been involved in the local convention scene for quite a number of years. These days, most of the conventions I attend are in my capacity as a small press comic book publisher, although I’ve been fortunate enough to have had a couple of prose stories published in the last year or two, and have done panels and readings in that capacity as well.
For Boston Comic Con, my Dandelion Studios comics were sharing a table with Joe McGlone of Fallenmage Productions and his comics. We drove in early Saturday morning, and were shown right to our table by the very well-organized convention staff.
The show was held in one of the main exhibit halls of the Hynes Convention Center in Boston. We parked at the Prudential garage both days, which was pricey. I’d originally thought we could get around some of that cost by validation deals, or by moving the car to the street for part of the show, but those options proved to be too much of a hassle and we ended up paying full price both days. I think I will go back to taking the subway in (which I did for Anime Boston) if I attend this show again.
The show itself was lively and well-attended. There were some incredible cosplayers making the rounds. Star Trek, Star Wars, and Ghostbusters fan groups were set-up where the fans entered and the hallway was crowded with people taking pictures. The Ghostbuster guys even had a giant inflatable Stay-Pufft Marshmallow Man.
We had a steady stream of people stopping by our table, and just about all the local small press comic creators I know were present at the show, so I caught up with a lot of friends, and bought some new comics and mini-comics in between selling my own books.
Joe was thrilled to get a stack of book autographed by iconic horror artist Bernie Wrightson, and I bought a copy of Womanthology as a birthday present for my wife and got it signed and sketched in by eight of the contributing artists.
Boston Comic Con has been growing every year. I didn’t get too much time away from my table, but the guest list was really incredible this year, and the fans seemed to be having a great time shopping and meeting an impressive guest lists of great comic artists.
The Maine Comics Arts Festival is one of my absolute favorite shows for a bunch of reasons.
First of all, it’s all small-press creators. As much as I love buying older collectible comics, there is something really amazing about a show made up entirely by comic creators and their labors of love.
Organizers Casablanca Comics does a great job of getting the word out, and the show is always well-attended, and a lot of the audience are families discovering small press comics for the first time. It also helps that the price of admission is only $5.
Then there’s the setting. The venue is the Ocean Gateway terminal in Portland, a cruise ship facility that sticks out into Portland harbor. Forget about dimly-lit rooms or cavernous conventions halls. This place has huge windows all the way around and a spectacular view of the harbor.
It’s also in walking distance of restaurants, and for our son, the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum.
The Maine Comics Arts Festival was the first convention our son attended, at age 2. This year was his third time at the show. He’s old enough to have some input into the plans, and what he wants is a train ride!
Portland is a little over three hours from Cape Cod, so we got on the road around 6 a.m. To make things a bit more challenging, I’d pulled an all-nighter scrambling to put together the newest issue of our mini-comic series Unpopular Species (a science/nature comic about creatures that are, well, less loved). Gynn did much of the driving while I got some much-needed sleep on the way up to Portland. Fortunately, even Boston is quiet traffic-wise early on a Sunday morning, and the trip went smoothly.
We spent the day taking turns selling comics and taking the Kiddo on train rides. Turns out you can ride all day for one price. Kiddo was thrilled. Unpopular Species was a big hit, and we had a really good show in general. The ride home was exhausting, but we got back without incident.
This was the finale to a whole series of Spring conventions we’d done appearances at for the comics. Starting with Conbust at Smith College, we were at Anime Boston, Boston Comic Con, the Rochester New Hampshire Free Comic Book Day festival, the Southcoast Toy and Comic Show, and finally the Maine Comics Arts Festival. Now, we get a couple months break before a major road trip at the end of July to Baltimore for Otakon. See you out on the road!
I had no intention to attend Boston Comic Con this year. My son’s girlfriend, Amy, had brought it up a few weeks ago, but no plans were made to go. On Friday night, however, she was over visiting and brought it up again. My son, Devon, had no desire to go either, so she was doing her best to convince him. Now, I haven’t been to a comic con in many years, but the prospect of going piqued my interest. I pulled up the website and checked out the details. There was going to be 74 featured guest artists there. 74! Wow, these things have gotten much bigger since the last time I went.
I use to collect comics. I stopped pretty much cold turkey back in the nineties, when all those endless crossovers became big. They drove me nuts, interrupting the ongoing story lines of your favorite series and also forcing you to buy books you didn’t want, just to keep up. It was a sales gimmick that I quickly grew to despise and drove me away from comics completely. I’m still a fan, of sorts. I see every comic book based movie that hits the screen and I’ve been pretty happy with Hollywood’s attempts to bring some of my old favorites to life. I still have probably thirty boxes of comics in storage. It’s like the fan in me is in hibernation, I guess, like my collection.
So when I looked over that list of 74 artists, I didn’t recognize quite a few of them. I’m guessing there are many who have entered the business since my comic collecting days. But still, there were a few that really caught my eye, like Bernie Wrightson, for instance. Wrightson is an artist I have admired since I started reading and collecting comic books. You see, what first drew me into comics were horror comics. I was reading them for a couple years before I even noticed the super hero books. Maybe it was growing up watching Creature Feature on Channel 56, but I’ve always had this fascination with monsters. Wrightson was of course, an illustrator on many of the horror comics that I grew up loving. These had titles like, House of Mystery, House of Secrets, Tales of the Unexpected, and Vampirella. Did I mention he was the co-creator of Swamp Thing? Yeah, that too.
Wrightson didn’t stop with comic books, though. He did an illustrated version of Frankenstein, which is absolutely beautiful. Later in his career, he went on to do some illustration for my favorite author, Stephen King. Mr. Wrightson illustrated The Cycle of the Werewolf, The Stand, and even did some work on the Dark Tower series. Needless to say, I was excited at the chance to meet him.
Also on the list of artists, I noticed the name Bill Sienkiewicz. Wow! There was another guy who had impressed the hell out of me with his art. You see, Sienkiewicz brought a style unlike any other I had ever seen when he entered the comic book industry. In 1984, Sienkiewicz took over as the artist for the X-Men spinoff, New Mutants and brought an expressionistic style that was mind-blowing. I’m not sure it was for everyone, but I know he gained quite a bit of recognition and managed to work with some of comicbook greats at that time like Frank Miller and Alan Moore.
There were a couple other names that stood out to me like Bob Layton of Iron Man, Kevin Eastman of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Simon Bisley whose work I remember from Judge Dredd and Lobo. It was enough for me to want to go. To top it all off, my twelve-year-old daughter, who to my knowledge has never read a comic book, begged to go. Between my son’s girlfriend and my daughter, they managed to convince Devon to give it a try. I was happy to drive, so the plans were made. My daughter invited her cousin, Roberta, so she would have someone the same age to tag along with her.
Saturday morning, I picked up Amy and brought her back to the house. She was carrying this trash bag full of costumes because apparently the three girls were determined to dress up. They had the idea that people went in costume to these cons and they wanted to participate. I certainly wasn’t going to put a costume on, but I didn’t mind if they did. There wasn’t a lot of planning involved here, so my daughter Kay ended up as Alice in Wonderland, Roberta was a sort of Victorian age vampire, and Amy wore a Pink Floyd shirt and flag as a cape. With the girls dressed up and ready to go, we headed off to the Hynes Convention Center in Boston.
The first problem encountered is that the Hynes is near Fenway Park, and the Yankees were playing the Red Sox that day. Finding parking was an adventure. As we passed the Convention center looking for a parking garage, we saw this ridiculously long line outside of the building. That couldn’t be the line to get in, we said. Spotting several people in line dressed as comic book characters confirmed our worst fears, though.
The line moved quickly, however, and we probably only waited thirty to forty minutes to get in the building. None of us were prepared for what we found inside. It was wall to wall with people. You really couldn’t get anywhere without fighting your way through the zombie-like horde of comic book fans. At first, this really bothered my daughter. She complained to me quite a bit. I reminded her that she begged me to bring them. After a while, we all just got used to it.
Devon and his girlfriend went right over to the Newbury Comics table to check out The Walking Dead books. My family is a fan of the show, but none of us have read the books. He grabbed the first few, which was okay with me, since I wanted to read them, too. Amy grabbed a few things that she was really excited about, including a Doctor Who book as a thank you present to me. We stopped at an artist who did a portrait of my daughter and niece in anime style. This put them both in happier moods. When we hit the back row, I saw the line for Bernie Wrightson. I stepped up and he asked if I had anything to sign. I knew I had forgotten something. Oh well, he had some prints from his work on Frankenstein, so I bought one of those. More importantly, I got a picture with him.
We fought our way through the mob and did our best to take in the whole thing. I had just about given up on finding Bill Sienkiewicz when we finally stumbled upon him. I got another cool picture and my daughter got an autographed Cat Woman print. We tried to find another vendor called Madknits, who had these handmade stuffed little monsters, on the way out, but after bumping our way up and down a bunch of aisles, we gave up and decided to call it a day. The kids were hot, tired, and feeling a bit claustrophobic.
All in all, Boston Comic Con was very cool, but it definitely needs to find a bigger venue. The Boston Convention and Exhibition center on the waterfront is much bigger and more suited to something that attracts as many people as comic con does. They should probably consider upgrading, even though I heard that this was an upgrade from previous years. We all had fun, which was the most important thing. Well done, Boston Comic Con.