Holy crap, hide the children. San Diego Comic Con is nigh!

Craziness has gone into high gear for everyone in the industry it seems. It?s also rather insane at the homestead here since we?re getting all packed up to move as I type this out.

Needless to say, I?m getting this baby in early before my desktop gets boxed up. My wife is eyeing me right now? I better be quick.

Good sized column for you folks this week. We?ve got some interviews and even a few tid-bits I managed to dig up, even though everyone is saving themselves for The Con.

For those of you attending SDCC, maybe I?ll see you. Don?t be afraid to say ?hi? if you spot me. Furthermore, someone suggested that we do an SBC/ATR meet-up/drink-up and I thought that was a swell idea. So, anyone who is interested is welcome to join us at the Hyatt bar, Saturday evening at 8pm. Also, if you are someone that wants me to check something out, or show off a mutant chinchilla collection, drop me a line and I?ll be sure to note it in my ?Stuff to do? list: steves@silverbulletcomicbooks.com.

As for Con coverage, I will be updating ATR in bursts. I?ll try to get something out each day I?m there. I?m sure there will be some cool stuff to send your way.

Standard Disclaimer

    : All the Rage is known to have rumours, speculation, and downright hearsay from time to time. Maybe even gossip. Keep in mind that What you read in that regard may end up being off the mark, or just plain lies (but not lies directly from me, of course). The truthinormity of a certain piece is gauged by it?s factor score. Pretty simple, really. For the other items involved in the column, the factor score determines the ?Eff Yeah!? factor. Got it? Good.

With the amount of sleep I?ve been getting lately and everything going on, things have taken a turn for the surreal. It?s best that we get started?

Old Archie TMNT Arc To Be Completed at Last?

Hey, any of you remember the Archie Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic that spun out of the old cartoon? Yeah? Well, I do, dammit. From what I can recall, it never wrapped up the final storyline. Poor thing was canned before it could be finished.

Now I?ve heard that the aforementioned arc has been greenlit to be finished up for Mirage?s 25th Anniversary. Not only will the unfinished stories be published, but the previously released parts will be re-issued, too. Or so I hear.

This Has A ?Heroes In A Half Shell? Factor Of Seven Out Of Ten

Is Wraith ROM?

I?ve been hearing for a little bit some people out there speculating that Marvel?s Wraith may be Rom, everyone?s favourite Space Knight. The latest place I saw this pop up is over at the excellent Occasional Superheroine blog.

So, what do I know? Well, I know that there are a few gifted writers out there that want a crack at Rom. To my knowledge, there has been / would be difficulty with the rights and everything, what with Hasbro owning them, et cetera. However, Marvel and Hasbro have been ?working together? on things like toys? And bringing Rom into Annihilation: Conquest WOULD be awesome. A few months back I would have told you ?no dice? on the whole thing. But now I?ve heard that some things have changed. How have they changed? I guess that?s something I?d like to find out.

Will Wraith turn out to be Rom, though? Hmmm? I don?t think so. I mean, doesn?t Wraith have Kree-DNA? Anyhow, I?m not ruling it out, mind.

That is if Rom is even coming back. And if I was a betting man, I wouldn?t bet all of my Rom toys on it. Not right now, anyway.

But a fanboy can dream, can?t he?

This Has A ?Rom! Come Back!!? Factor Of Four Out Of Ten

Mr. Big Optioned

Everyone seems to wanna make movies out of comics these days. And why not? They have an illustrated script right there. Makes sense to me. One comic I was happy to hear got optioned for a possible future film is Mr. Big, from Little Foot Publishing. I believe I?ve mentioned this possibility before in this very column, but now it?s confirmed. What is this comic, you ask?

?In a watery world where only the strong survive, the denizens of a pond launch a plan to eradicate Mr. Big, a giant snapping turtle that is terrorizing them. Despite a few protests warning of the possible consequences, the animals solicit the support of a murder of crows to carry out the plot. But the scheming crows have their motives to carry out the kill.?

There you go. Read some nice information on Mr. Big here.

This Has A ?I Wonder If Anyone Will Make A Film About The Band Mr. Big? Factor Of Ten Out Of Ten

Garth Ennis Talks Some Streets of Glory

Hunkered down in a secret fortress somewhere in the New York area, a man by the name of Garth Ennis pounds away at a keyboard, attempting to provide the general masses some pleasant entertainment. I?m sure most of you know who he is. Preacher, Punisher MAX, Hellblazer, Battler Britton, The Boys, Chronicles of Wormwood, and tons of other work has his name stamped on it. One of his latest projects is a Western comic called Streets of Glory, due out this fall from Avatar Press. I managed to smuggle in a few questions to Garth about this?

ATR: For those out there that that have little to no idea what Streets of Glory is about, could you please tell us a bit about this “straight, all-out, balls-to-the-wall Western” and the characters involved?

Garth Ennis: In the fall of 1899, Civil war veteran and gunfighter Joe Dunn rides into the Montana town of Gladback, in search of his old love Shelley. She’s not exactly overjoyed to see him, and neither’s her daughter Isla. Gladback is a changing place; the old west is settling into its grave, with newly arrived developer Charles Morrison only too happy to hurry the burial along. The sudden reappearance of Dunn’s old enemy Red Crow, Apache renegade and bloodthirsty lunatic, throws a spanner in everyone’s works- though Dunn is aided by his old army buddy Tom McKinnon and wide-eyed newcomer Pete Morrison, who he saves from bandits in part one.

ATR: What’s the appeal of Westerns to you? What is it about the genre that you love?

GE: The epic scale of the stories. The vast landscape that provides the backdrop, the sense of history unfolding in front of you. Larger than life characters; big personalities under a big sky.

ATR: Do you feel this title will offer something new to the genre? Or are you more focused on just telling a good story and to hell if it offers anything “new”?

GE: The latter.

ATR: I can see that Streets of Glory looks great? Now, that’s because of artist Mike Wolfer. How has it been working with him?

GE: Mike’s been great- he requires minimal direction and he’s happy to do his own detailed research. Great sense of character and storytelling, much of it in the faces when necessary. Very good at action. I’ve been wanting to work with him since I read his work in Warren Ellis’ Strange Killings, one of my favourite comics.

ATR: How do you feel that fans of Westerns will take to this title?

GE: I never anticipate reader reaction. That way lies madness. I put the stuff out there and hope for the best.

ATR: Any Western comics you reading these days? Which ones out there strike you as the best?

GE: Not these days, but my all time favourite is Jonah Hex: Two Gun Mojo, by Joe Lansdale and Tim Truman. Violent, brutal, action-packed, very funny indeed. Beyond that, the westerns I like best are all novels and movies.

ATR: One non-Streets of Glory / Westerns question a friend insisted I ask: Do you feel that moving to New York helped your career? What were the differences pre-move and post-move?

GE: Workwise, none. No difference in the work I do or the way I do it.

And there you have it. Thanks to the ninjas that got the questions to Garth?

This Has A ?He Should Have Armed Himself If He’s Going To Decorate His Saloon With My Friend? Factor Of Nine Out Of Ten

Tony Lee Reveals He?s in on a Rough Trade

Every now and then there’s a large chunk of detective work when writing a column like this, and this week my detecting was rewarded after I pieced together something interesting and possibly big from regular mentionee Tony Lee.

I’d heard rumours over the last couple of weeks that he was working with someone in TV on a project, and last week on his Blog he asked his readers to give him impressions on two phrases – ROUGH TRADE and OFF THE GRID.

I took some duct tape (?cause duct tape makes you smart) and some interrogator Gnomes over to Tony’s and made him spill his guts? or, at least give me the inside-track as to what?s goin? on.

ATR: So, Tony. Rough Trade?

TONY LEE: You know, that’d be a great name for a comic, wouldn’t it??


TL: Okay, okay. Basically there’s a new TV series on the USA network called Burn Notice. It’s pretty much ‘What if Jason Bourne was fired and had to work in Miami as Magnum, PI with Bruce Campbell as his sidekick – with a bit of MacGyver thrown in‘. Suffice to say, it’s incredibly good. Anyway, Michael Wilson – who’s the Consulting Producer on the show has been popping up on Warren EllisTHE ENGINE board.

At the time (about a month back) I was working on a very loose idea for a thriller involving Identity theft and the ramifications of stealing the wrong identity – say a serial killer, or an assassin, that sort of thing, and I spoke to Mike off the board to ask his advice on how certain things would have worked out when he was active, get a second opinion so to speak. As it was I found that not only was he a mine of information, but he was also incredibly quick to work out where I was going, throwing his own suggestions on the mix. We clicked immediately – and within a couple of days I’d shelved my original idea, and we were working on something different together.

ATR: So, that’s Rough Trade?

TL: Yeah. It’s the title that was originally suggested for Burn NoticeRough Trade was idea one, Burn Notice was idea two. And to be honest, it fits the comic idea better ? Burn Notice is stylised, whereas Rough Trade is going to be in the dirt gritty – it’s Tradecraft, and it’s Rough and Ready.

Of course it means something totally different in the UK, so we ignore that!

ATR: *chuckles* What’s it about? Who’s involved?

TL: Well – it’s a 6 issue arc / miniseries that keeps an ensemble team of characters – similar to what [Ed] Brubaker‘s doing with Criminal. The characters in the first arc are connected to, but might not be in the second arc.

The first arc, Off the Grid, is slightly formulaic in the sense that we have to establish all the characters, including the agencies, ‘bad guys’ etc. You’ll soon notice that there aren’t really any ‘bad’ guys, so to speak – everyone’s out for themselves.

Off the Grid focuses on a young male grifter, ‘John’ (Short for John Doe, as he’s been burning identities for so long, even he doesn’t know who he is) who’s an expert in identity theft. He can pickpocket you, skim and scan your card in a matter of seconds and get it back before you even notice it’s gone. Now he’s a streetwise guy who burns the wrong identity at one point, and finds himself in a whole load of trouble. There are hit squads out after him, the news is claiming he’s a Terrorist, the day is not going well.

Luckily for John, there’s ‘Agent Roe’, a late thirties / early forties burned out female Spook who needs him alive for a reason we can’t give away – and she’s a lot more savvy to what’s going on. So, while this manhunt is happening, she’s keeping him half a step ahead of everyone. But of course there’s the question of why she’s doing it – and even whether she’s still an agent, or if she’s gone off the grid herself…

There’s a little bit of Bourne, mixed with a small part of The Odd Couple as they work together on getting John out of this mess. and John’s not going to be the ‘weak sidekick’ – he brings his own skill set to the table. And as the story progresses, you realise that he too might not be as ‘innocent’ a victim as he claims. He might have his own agenda…

ATR: Hey, man, that sounds pretty damn good. What format is it going to be in? Monthly? Graphic novel? Who’s publishing it?

TL: At the moment, that’s up in the air as we haven’t decided yet on a publisher. We’d like to do it in the Image ‘Slimline’ style – 16 pages of solid story followed by several pages on the truth behind Tradecraft, or thoughts from an ex-Spook, that kind of thing. That said, that doesn’t mean that we’re looking primarily at Image, just that the format is very tempting for us. Both Ellis and Matt Fraction have said how it’s a great format to work in – and of course it gives great content for a lower price.

Hopefully at San Diego [Comic Con] we’ll get a better idea of where we’re going – as obviously it’s only been gaining momentum for a month. We’re not ready just yet to print, for example. But Mike’s coming down from Hollywood to do a few things movie/TV wise, and while he’s here we hope to have a couple of chats with publishers. And a lot of beers!

ATR: Mmmmm?. Beers. Have you found an artist?

TL: Funny enough, one found us. Two days after we start planning this, Scott James and I chat about something totally different. Scott’s a long term RPG artist, and his style is spot on for what we’re looking for – mainstream yet stylised, with a serious grit in the inking and colours. As you can see here from the sketches of Roe and John, he’s already taken the ball, and he’s running with it!

If I had pitched this myself with Scott on art, we’d have a very good chance of being taken seriously. With Mike and myself, we add a whole new level to the product – with Mike coming from a TV / Movie background with several projects already in production, we’ve already got the post-book options sewn up. We just need to make sure that Rough Trade is as good a book as we can make it. And I’ve scripted out a draft of the first nine pages and you know what? I love it. Seriously love it. It’s got a flow that works, a subtle black humour and a non stop rollercoaster ride of emotion. You can tell it’s a sibling of Burn Notice.

ATR: Provided that you lock down a publisher, when will this be coming out?

TL: As a Slimline format it’d be quicker to draw, but it really depends on the publisher. We’d want two, maybe three issues in the can before soliciting, so it’d most likely be early 2008, most likely February, March time. But as I said, it’s early days yet – we’ve got the bulk of #1 already written, we could have this out by the end of the year!

This Has A ?Burn Notice Is My Fave New Show, Btw? Factor Of Ten Out Of Ten

Indie Front: Skipper and His Bizarre New World

Skipper Martin is new to the world of the comics industry, and it only makes sense that he?d bust into it with a comic about a man who is new to flying. Already on the racks awaiting your perusal, Bizarre New World from Ape Entertainment has been lauded by readers and critics alike. Skipper is no stranger to ATR, either, as he?ll explain a bit later. But first he?s going to tell you all about Bizarre New World.

ATR: Heya, Skipper! Okay, let’s start off with a stock question– What the heck is Bizzare New World for those who haven’t had the good fortune of reading it yet?

Skipper Martin: It?s the best darn book I?ve ever written! Alas of course, it?s the only book I?ve ever written. But before you pass off that purely paltry pointless piece of personal prattle, I?ll say this in my defense, I?ve never read anything quite like it, and that?s one of the main reasons I produced the darn thing. It felt like uncharted fertile territory to spin a fun yarn.

It?s all about a regular John Q ordinary bloke who one day discovers he can actually defy gravity. I wanted to tell a tale about how a real person might deal with this. You?ve seen flying people in comics you say? Too true, but this story takes place in our very real world, with real ramifications.

ATR: So, the guy is the first man to fly under his own power… and there are no superheroes? No supervillains? No ALIENS? Just what are you trying to pull here?

SM: Flying is an incredibly common human fantasy. Its true comics have made flying people seem almost pass?, but I never intended to tell that kind of story. In my mind being able to soar among the smog doesn?t necessarily persuade anyone to help out their fellow human being. In all my personal flying fantasies I?ve never saved a kitten from a tree, stopped a bank robber, or saved the earth from an alien attack. Nor did I have the urge to pick a fight with someone else wearing long-johns, not even once. But hey that?s just me.

ATR: I love how this title is about a regular guy who has to deal with this newfound power, and how he goes about dealing with it. What was the original impetus for you to come up with this story? Was there any trouble getting this project up and running?

SM: I believe the story came from a very innocent pure place from the back of my mind. I remember quite a bit of my childhood, I have my mother to thank for that. Because I can draw so easily on that part of my past, it?s a snap to remember lying upside down hanging over the edge of my bed imagining I could walk on the ceiling. I would visualize stepping over the door jams, and walking among the ceiling fans. Fun stuff, but nothing compared to flying dreams, especially lucid flying dreams! I remember they would typically start out with super jumping ala? Lynda Carter?s ?Woman Woman.? That would usually get my mind to thinking how unreal it all was, that would lead to the realization I was dreaming, then I?d take off like a rocket at will! Little did I know how common this kind of thing was. I wanted to capture that kind of innocent awe. No outlandish origin scenes, just poof, I can fly, so now what? Staying away from silly plot devices like science experiments, and magic Egyptian artifacts helped me keep the story very human and relatable. I want people to imagine they were in Paul?s shoes, hence the snappy tagline ?What would you do if you could fly??

As for trouble getting started, I had the same problems I?m sure most people go through. Self doubt, money concerns, jock itch, ?Heroes? envy, you know – the usual. The self doubt never went away, but fortunately, ?Heroes? turned out to be completely different than my book, and as for the jock itch, I recommend Gold Bond Medicated Powder, regular strength. The maximum strength stings a bit. Remember kiddies, a clean crotch is a happy crotch.

ATR: Words of wisdom, indeed! It seems that there’s some history with you and All the Rage in the past. Something about… a chainsaw-wielding llama? *laughs* But, seriously, I heard that a previous ATR Doctor, Blair Marnell, helped you out. Could you tell us about that?

SM: Blair certainly has some bragging rights. He was the only person I knew with a connection to comics. I floated the flying guy ideas by him, and he agreed it would make a spiffy funny book. He told me how hard it would be to find the right artist to collaborate with, and I mentioned an old friend of mine Tone Rodriguez. I?d lost touch with Tone, but Blair was the perfect guy to be talking to of course. He?d been dealing with the industry and not only knew him, but within minutes I was holding his business card. Soon I was telling Tone all about my book, he tried to talk me out of making it, I forged on anyway, he helped me get the book made, the book hit the shelves, and here I am writing this to you, the current ATR guru. Funny how things have a way of working out huh? Yes Blair has the distinction of being one of the very first people who believed in my story. I paid homage to the man with the cover of issue one. I made him the writer on the newspaper article ?FLYING MAN DISCOVERED!?

ATR: Nice. That was awesome of Blair to do. So, can you please fill us in on the talented team you work with on this book?

SM: Christopher Provencher gives the characters a pulse, lets them breathe. He gives the book a very distinct style allowing the mundane to feel real, but knows how to break out into the fantastic when the story requires it. I can?t wait to see him do something other than my little tale. Since my book is so grounded in reality, he doesn?t get the chance to allow his fantasy talents to flourish, but I don?t think I?ll have to wait too long.

It?s getting harder and harder to come up with new compliments for Colorist / Letterer Wes Dzioba. Most of the BNW reviews take the time to mention his beautiful color work, and with damn good reason. I couldn?t imagine BNW without him. Then there?s penciller maestro Tone Rodriguez. He did a great variant cover to issue one, and three BNW short stories, even taking the time to write 2 of them. He?s also the guy who?s steered the ship every step of the way. He?s no doubt talented, but I?m happier just calling him my friend. Thanks again to Tone for looking out for me.

ATR: I’d be lying if I said I didn’t do a -little- research before asking these questions… I’ve discovered that you are getting some excellent feedback about BNW. How does that make you feel? Something about AICN calling it the best comic so far in 2007?

SM: I would sit there reading those reviews with every fiber of my body clenched. I was petrified of what people might think. Then the heavenly words would fly across my monitor and it became physically impossible to stop smiling, which led to punching the air, kicking tables, embarrassing white man dancing, and uncontrollable bouts of shouting into mirrors ?YOU DA? MAN!!!?

It was exhilarating to find out people enjoyed the book. So much effort had gone into making it great, and now there was the proof in print. As for being called ?best comic,? I nearly had to clean my chair!

ATR: You may have to start writing with wipes if it keeps up? BNW is running only three issues, right? What’s next for you? Any irons in the fire? Any plans for new titles? Come on, we have to know.

SM: First up there?s more Bizarre is in the works. The follow up double-issue one shot is being pencilled right now by Chris, and he?s laying down some killer pages. We?re aiming to put that out early next year. In the meantime I?m working on BNW webcomics for my appropriately titled website http://www.bizarrenewworld.com. For those stories I?m working with some very talented folks like Micah Farritor, Connor Willumsen, Neal Bailey, Troy Dye, and Megan Levens among others. Also coming soon is a very cool project called ?Creator Swap? with the great guys from Ape Entertainment?s ?White Picket Fences.? We?re taking on a WPF tale, while Matt Anderson, Eric Hutchins, and Micah Farritor will take on a ?Bizarre New World ?short story. The early results are nothing short of pure fun. It?s been a blast taking a dip in each other?s pools. I?ve also been asked to work on a short ?western? anthology piece, as well as a project with my brother Scotty called ?Reverend Red & the Brother Bobby Band.? Fun stuff a comin?.

This Has An ?I Can Fly!? Factor Of Ten Out Of Ten

The Stuff People Say About SDCC

People just can?t simmer down about San Diego Comic Con. That?s to be expected. Hell, it?s all I?ve thought about the last couple of weeks. Okay, maybe longer. Anyway, I wondered what some of the people I know and admire in the industry would have to say about The Madness that is to be SDCC?

Tony Lee (Hope Falls, Starship Troopers): ?San Diego ’07 is my third, and to be honest, it’s going to be my easiest. For the first time in three years I don’t have a booth to either manage or find myself tied down to one, which although is liberating, does however mean that finding me can be a bit of a pain, especially as the new Group Editor of Markosia, I’m supposed to be having meetings and suchlike.

I have a couple of meetings planned (but they’re more meetings with editors I already deal with), and I have the usual ‘come by the stand and we’ll work something out’ emails – I’m not taking any pitch proposals. I’m not even talking pitches – well, apart from Rough Trade, and that’s more a ‘what if’ than solid proposal. I have a couple of interviews. I have a couple of people pitching me projects for Markosia. I’m going to buy things, see friends and spend a lot of time in Redfields at the Hyatt. This year I might even see some of San Diego and even Tijuana. Who knows.

I’ve not got to the point in my career where many editors know me and will chat to me. They may not give me work, but I get to chat and have beers with people who, as a kid I worshiped. And that’s enough for me this year at San Diego.?

Josh Wagner (Fiction Clemens): ?My clan and I used to have a tradition of travelling to the Oregon coast for a 5 day camping trip each July. As of last year, this tradition has shifted to ComiCon. We leave Missoula (Montana), drive to Seattle/Portland, drink and carouse… drop down the coast through places like Big Sur and the Redwoods, soaking our consciousness in the motion of travel. San Diego is the X on the map. By the time we arrive we should be good and thick with gypsyism. This is the only way to prepare for the hordes of costumes, characters, and craziness that is the great ComiCon stewpot. What am I looking forward to most? When meeting new people is as natural as breathing, when the journey home is like waking up from a nice long dream.?

Frazer Irving (Gutsville, Inhumans): I’m currently working on Gutsville for Image at the moment? we’re kinda relaunching issue 1 with a second printing at the con ?cos the first printing sold out pretty fast, which does mean we bumped the next 2 issues a bit to allow new readers to follow at a normal pace. This will be the first con where I?ve got a table to sit at, so I’m excited to see how that pans out. I’ll be sharing the table with my Phonogram buddies and artist/girlfriend Fiona Staples. This year I shall be avoiding sunburn and trying to avoid vomiting on my bed again.?

Eric Trautmann (Perfect Dark: Janus? Tears, Checkmate): “My plans are to sit at Prima’s booth, and wish I was Neil Gaiman. It’ll be nice to see some friends I rarely get to see, and hopefully walk away with one job in hand.”

John Layman (Thundercats, Marvel Zombies vs. Army of Darkness): ?What I’m looking forward to at SDCC: Same thing I look forward to every year. At five minutes after midnight on Friday, I get together with a secret-society of comic’s most powerful individuals, where we light candles, stand in a pentagram painted in ram’s blood, and conduct dark rituals to determine exactly what comics you will buy over the next year. Then, we have pot-luck dinner. This year Brother Didio is bringing his world-famous canary wing and puppy heart chili. Mmmmm. Scrumptious!!!?

Joe Rybandt (Dynamite Entertainment): ?I swore, SWORE I wouldn?t get sucked into the ?Oh my GOD it?s San Diego? and run around like I was on fire the week before and instead breeze in and out all cool like Fonzie, but here I am, running around on fire and upping my trip from 2 days to 5 the week before leaving??

Christian Beranek (Dracula vs. King Arthur, Silent Devil Productions): I’ll be at booths #2514 (Zenescope) and #930 (Silent Devil) promoting several new creator owned projects. Zenescope recently picked up the rights to Willow Creek and co-creators Josh Medors, Denny Williams and myself will be on hand to sign a special #0 edition. The book is limited to 1000 copies, so make sure you grab one quick! I’ll be debuting a preview book of my new graphic novel Venice Is Sinking. Co-creator and artist Mario Boon is travelling from Belgium to make the show, so make sure you stop by and see us! Last, but not least, there will be a preview edition of Hip Hop Chronicles. Co-written by myself and Jiba Molei Anderson, the project takes the lyrics from the great MCs (Tupac, DMX, Eric B. & Rakim) and turns them into comic stories. The project was done in conjunction with Universal Music and Spacedog, and the full graphic novel will be published by Zenescope this fall.

Matt Busch (You Can Draw Star Wars, Pucker): “The biggest thing I look forward to every year at Comic-Con is the INSPIRATION. Sure, the show can be overwhelming, but I find that seeing all the wonderful new things other artists have been working on is the perfect kick in the ass to get me fired up for more. It’s not a competitive thing, so much as it’s great to see everyone else doing well, living the dream, and exploring their creativity. It makes me anxious to get back to the drawing board and do the best work I possibly can.”

Brandon Jerwa (Battlestar Galactica: Zarek, BSG: Season Zero): “The thing I love about SDCC is the way it’s so unpredictable! You never know what sort of opportunity might come your way from a chance meeting or random drunken conversation. I do have a couple of meetings set at the moment – one to discuss a not-yet-announced “done deal” and one to discuss a prospect – but beyond that, anything can happen. Also, I should take a second to mention that my lovely traveling companion Jessica Blackshear is going to be writing an advice colum for Comics Waiting Room called “Jess Knows Best.” It’s all in the family here…”

Skipper Martin (Bizarre New World): ?I’m chompin’ at the bit to see ?Superman Doomsday?! It’s the storyline that brought me into reading comics, and I’m expecting nothing but the best from those guys. I’m also looking forward to seeing Kevin Smith do his thing live, and I’ll be stopping by the ?Star Trek? presentation. Very curious to see where they’re going to take the franchise. Other than that I’ll be just meeting as many people as I can, and hockin’ BNW!?

David Marks (Avatar Press): Comic-Con is one of those subjects where everything that can be said about it has been said. It’s a horse of a different color and more than just a comic convention. Comic-Con is the biggest pop-culture event in the world, and every other entertainment -related convention is measured against the standards and sheer magnitude of this one event.

San Diego is sort of the New Year for the comic and entertainment businesses, the entire industry plans its schedule around Comic-Con unlike any other convention. Avatar E-I-C William Christensen has been planning an epic release schedule for 2007-2008 for quite some time, and from my first conversation with him about Avatar’s marketing plans he let me know that Avatar would be firing all its guns at Comic-Con this year like at no event before in Avatar’s 10 year history. With some great new series like Ennis’ Chronicles of Wormwood and John Russo’s Plague of the Living Dead, Avatar Press has been gaining momentum in the early half of 2007 for an unheard of list of high profile releases that will debut at Comic-Con. Black Summer, Doktor Sleepless, Crecy, 2001 Maniacs, new Night of the Living Dead, new Stargate SG1, and even a new TPB from Alan Moore are all available first at San Diego, and these great new series are just the tip of the iceberg. At our panels we will be announcing all the great new stuff coming this fall and in 2008 such as two new Chronicles of Wormwood TPBs by Garth Ennis, a brand-new series from Ennis called Streets of Glory, and new work from Warren Ellis that is going to floor the industry.

Avatar Press, not Marvel or Dark Horse or the WB, is bringing one of the finest and most diverse guest lists to the Con, including Warren Ellis, Robert Englund, George Romero, Tim Sullivan, Mike Wolfer, Jacen Burrows, Brian Pulido, and several others (not including special, unannounced guests.) That’s the type of magic Comic-Con creates, you get the best from everyone and often its way more than people expect.

This Has A ?They Said It? Factor Of Ten Out Of Ten

Parting Shots and In Closing

I just read that Ray Stevenson (Titus Pullo from HBO’s Rome) may be replacing Thomas Jane as Frank Castle in the upcoming Punisher 2 movie. Personally, I think it would be awesome to see my favourite Roman Centurion as Frank. Perhaps we’ll find out in San Diego? The original source for this rumour can be found here.

For all you blogonauts out there, check out this new offering to the hungry internet gods called Cosmic Rants by my pal, Tobey Cook. Consider it an exposition of the consciousness of a guy who’s been obsessed with comics for decades. Tobey has one true love, and it involved illustrated narrative held together with staples.

I came across a couple must-have books for you fellow monster lovers out there. The first is Hell Beasts: How to Draw Grotesque Fantasy Creatures by Jim Pavelec. If you are looking for a guide to show you tips on creating various scary creatures, from Ogres to Leviathans to Zombies to Harpies and many, many more. Jim provides pointers on what you need and drawing basics. The book is just beautiful. Even though I?m no artist, I still found it to be quite amazing. The other monster-themed tome I want to tell you about is Monster Spotter?s Guide to North America, an amusing, fun and informative book by Scott Francis (with illustrations by Ben Patrick). Basically, you need this book to figure out if you?re going to be camping out with El Chupacabra or if you look like lunch to the Adlet. I don?t think I?m ever going to leave home without it. Save yourself from certain doom: Buy these books.

Seen Myspace Comic Books, yet? Pretty cool if you?re on MySpace a lot.

My friend Michael Bailey is doing a podcast of his very own, called Views From the Longbox. Listen to the latest episode to hear his opinions on comics? And most recently, Rob Liefeld.

Need a decent interactive map so you don?t get completely lost and die from starvation at SDCC? Enjoy.

For you DCU fans, these Countdown Presents video montages I found might interest you. Start with #4, The Funeral of Flash?

There are people hauling boxes off around me and — Hey! I?m not done with this yet! Jeez. Some people. Anyhow, I should wrap this up, before my computer is taken away. Hope you enjoyed it. I?ll be seeing many of you at the Con and as usual, I love hearing from the rest of you. Here are the places you can reach me / find me (for I will be armed with my awesome laptop over the next week):

Email: steves@silverbulletcomicbooks.com
Livejounal: http://synabetic.livejournal.com
MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/synabetic
ComicSpace: http://www.comicspace.com/steven_g_saunders/

You can also find me on Facebook. To my ?arch-nemesis? (who?s not Layman) who just added me on there the other day: You have a very lovely spousal unit and child, sir (although the same goes for Layman).

Here they come for my desktop? Until next ti —

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