Tag Archives: Comics

Memoirs from the Dark Age

I’ve often described my new novel CRITERION as a ‘Grimdark superhero’ story. I did not set out to chase a certain tone or style, it merely followed from the concept – ‘When a super hero is murdered, what happens to his sidekicks?”

If I had to dissect the influences that lead me to the idea, the bloody trail would probably lead back to the comic book explosion of the 1990s. Funny book weren’t just for kids anymore. They became brooding, dark and edgy, and thus irresistible to a teenage mind (plus a metric ton of vampire novels, but I digress).

It was a great and terrible time of crossover events, special collector’s edition foil stamped variant covers (I still have my glow-in-the-dark Ghost Riders) and a plague of unnecessary FIRST! issues. This bloat and excess eventually collapsed like bloated things do, with the ‘tryhard’ edge-lord comics devolving into self-parody.

edgelord 2

Okay, maybe not this bad

Still, my unholy appetite was whetted and I eventually found my way to masterpieces like Alan Moore’s WATCHMEN and Frank Miller’s THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS. I’ll always love Spidey, but I like my fiction like my coffee and chocolate: DARK.

Over the next few days I’m going to review some noteworthy influences to celebrate the release of my new book CRITERION.

Marvel delivered some entertaining stuff, like the rebooted Ghost Rider, Thanos’ quest for the Infinity Gauntlet and the demonic crossover event ‘Inferno’.

The arc with the most impact for me, personally, was ‘Kraven’s Last Hunt’. It was a real shock to see my favorite hero Spidey get out-smarted and outgunned by a minor villain with a rifle and a flair for leopard skin vests. The hero and villain were both rendered as flawed human beings, struggling with their own mortality and identity.

Kraven's_Last_Hunt

by J.M. DeMatteis, Mike Zeck and Bob McLeod

How dark? Contents include: gorging on spiders, live burial, drug induced mania and suicide.

kraven chomp

He’s Kraven some spiders.

Have a favorite dark comic book you think people should know about? Drop a comment and let me know.

CRITERION is available now from Crossroad Press in print and digital

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Google Play

Smashwords

iTunes

P.S. : Liefeld is in on the joke now. pouchWe love you Rob, keep rockin’ those pre-ripped, acid washed 501 jeans.

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Comikaze 2012: Bouncy House of Terror

I had a great time at Comikaze this year.  This is only the second year for Los Angeles’ very own convention and it’s growing fast.  There were many more exhibitors and activities this year but still plenty of breathing and elbow room.  It feels good to know that my money is going to Stan Lee, too.

My friend and I took the L.A. public rail system to the convention center, which is always a treat in itself.  Between the Con and the train it feels like our city is finally catching up with some of the other great cities around the country.

I skipped the Zombie Maze at this year’s San Diego Comic Con because it was really pricey, and I was prepared to skip the new zombie experience at Comikaze for the same reason.  I found out that Activision had decided to sponsor the Comikaze Zombie maze and give everyone discounted tickets.  We got our tickets immediately and rushed inside.

We were interrogated by some small children wearing headsets about whether or not we had signed liability waivers.  That was a bit odd.  They were doing a fine job, but I do wish they had suggested I take off my backpack.  Before I knew it we were inside and sprinting, full tilt boogie, through the zombie maze.

I saw a large collection of inflatable castles and bouncy houses.  Bouncy Houses?  I was a bit crestfallen, hoping for something more challenging and scary.  I’m training for the RUN FOR YOUR LIVES 5K after all.

These were not your ordinary inflatable castles.

First, I was wearing a large backpack and had my pockets full of phone-keys-wallet-tickets-sunglasses etc.  This made crawling through, under, over, up and down a lot more difficult.  It also reminded me that in the upcoming zompocalypse we won’t have storage lockers handy when it’s time to lay tracks.

Second, there was smeared blood inside the bouncy castles.  I hope I never see that again.

Third, there were zombies chasing us through the bouncy castles and up and down the inflatable slides.

Fourth, running and jumping and diving across inflatable vinyl non-stop is like sprinting through deep sand.  It is really exhausting, and of course there are zombies waiting at the bottom of each slide.

My friend and I were both soaked in sweat at the end and will never look at bouncy castles the same way.  Maybe turning into a sweaty, blood smeared geek 20 minutes into the convention was not the best way to start the day, but I have no regrets.

"Ni!"

That herring may actually prove sufficient for the task.

We saw a lot of the usual Con fare, including some nice spacious areas for FX makeup, gaming tables and even an indoor Quidditch match.

Elvira’s ride

Plenty of trunk space

I would like to see more publishers, authors and editors there, and I expect I will in the years to come.  Thanks Stan!

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Nerd Prom 2012

Another year, another Comic Con.  This year, however, was different.  I was there as a PROFESSIONAL.

not a professional dentist

Per usual I skipped the panels and screenings and focused on the booth displays, cosplayers and creators in attendance.

Pro Writer – Comic Con Exclusive!

Fortunately I had plenty of bubble gum

The Walking Dead Super Zombie mobile – so awesome that it does not appear in the comic or the show

This car would also be very useful during the zompocalypse

A giant display with almost every Marvel action figure in an epic brawl – a direct look into the brain  of my 13 year old self.

I had a clear agenda for this convention.

1) Get my photo at the Walking Dead booth with Michonne and her pet zombies…

2) Meet other writers.

It was a terrific success on both counts.  My friends and I had a nice dinner with Alice Henderson and then we met up for drinks with Nathan Long, Mike Lee, Alix Carter, Chelsea Monroe-Cassel, Ed Erdelac and Sariann Lehrer.  This year was very different from the usual fan experience, but in a wonderful way.  It was exhausting and overwhelming as always but I returned home inspired and invigorated.   Looking forward to next year!

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