Boston ComicCon!

I spent my weekend working Boston ComicCon with my wife, and as always, the cosplay watching was one of my favorite parts.

My now-autographed copy of Solo Avengers #12, featuring Amanda Conner's first published work.
My now-autographed copy of Solo Avengers #12, featuring Amanda Conner’s first published work.

 

Before I get to that, I have to share my happy fanboy moment. Writer/artist Amanda Conner, one of my favorite comic artists, was at the con, so I dug out my copy of Solo Avengers #12, which features her very first published work. This is an original copy, which I’ve held on to throughout the years (and through several comic collection purges) because I really liked her art — so much so that I wrote to Marvel and praised her work. Marvel ran the letter three issues later.

I have no idea why her artwork struck me like it did, I just knew Amanda would one day be big in the industry, and that I had to keep that comic no matter what.

I brought both to the con for Amanda to sign, and when I presented her with the issue with my letter, she exclaimed, “I remember that letter!” Apparently, I had authored her very first fan letter. She signed that issue too, adding a very nice inscription. I guess this stands as an object lesson to people trying to make a career of their art: a few sincere words of encouragement from a complete stranger can be very powerful.

Amanda Conner's note to me. You can see my name at the top edge of the photo.
Amanda Conner’s note to me. You can see my name at the top edge of the photo.

Now, onto the cosplayers. BCC wasn’t quite as cosplayer-heavy as some other shows, but they were out in force. Here are some of my favorites…

My favorite costumes of the show. The really cool part? They were two individual cosplayers who just happened to bump into each other.
My favorite costumes of the show. The really cool part? They were two individual cosplayers who just happened to bump into each other.
My friend Laura as Pepper Potts (on the right, obviously).
My friend Laura as Pepper Potts (on the right, obviously).
My friends Lara (who, cheap plug, runs Black Cat Tours in Salem) and Kate as two iterations of Captain Marvel.
My friends Lara (who, cheap plug, runs Black Cat Tours in Salem) and Kate as two iterations of Captain Marvel.
Kate again as Black Widow (bonus fun fact: she is Russian, and she can kick your ass), my buddy Justin (the Jake Hawking series) in his award-winning Assassin's Creed outfit, and some guy who shouted "Geronimo!" a lot. Weirdo.
Kate again as Black Widow (bonus fun fact: she is Russian, and she can kick your ass), my buddy Justin (the Jake Hawking series) in his award-winning Assassin’s Creed outfit, and some guy who shouted “Geronimo!” a lot. Weirdo.
Arya Stark, complete with Needle and Nymeria.
Arya Stark, complete with Needle and Nymeria.
A very cool and subtle Kamala "Ms. Marvel" Khan.
A very cool and subtle Kamala “Ms. Marvel” Khan.
My favorite part of Mad Magazine!
My favorite part of Mad Magazine!
Usagi Yojimbo. Please note the raised eyebrow. I love little touches like that.
Usagi Yojimbo. Please note the raised eyebrow. I love little touches like that.
My wife with one of the many Deadpools. Head to storiedthreads.tumblr.com for the full story on their meeting.
My wife with one of the many Deadpools. Head to storiedthreads.tumblr.com for the full story on their meeting.

Anatomy Of A Bad Cover

cover-lowrestrimCover art has been on my mind a lot lately. As previously mentioned in this blog, I rather agonized over the cover concept for Action Figures – Issue Two: Black Magic Women; I noted the conceptual similarities between the covers of Action Figures – Issue One: Secret Origins (by my artist Tricia Lupien) and the forthcoming issue of Ms. Marvel (by Annie Wu); and my buddy J.M Aucoin recently unveiled the cover art for his upcoming Jake Hawking omnibus (which, I add, I am looking forward to, since I am not a big e-book reader).

Cover art is a pretty critical element of the final novel package, and an element that a lot of novice authors overlook or ignore. Pop over to Lousy Book Covers and you’ll see how wrong covers can go, and I think that will serve as enough of an explanation as to why good covers are important. I mean, would you pick up any of those books?

Comic Book Resources recently posted a harsh, but dead-on, analysis of the cover for the newest relaunch of DC Comics’ Teen Titans. At first glance, the artwork (by Kenneth Rocafort) looks pretty damn cool, but CBR delves into its flaws in terms of concept, composition, and how it presents its characters — in particular Wonder Girl, who CBR maintains is sexualized to a ridiculous degree. It’s hard to disagree.

Teen Titans CoverThe background clearly suggests a high school setting is involved, and the book is called Teen Titans, so it’s not unreasonable to assume we’re looking at a teenage girl — and teenage girls do not look like that (not without the benefit of no small amount of plastic surgery).

It’s easy to dismiss criticism of Wonder Girl’s look as pointless fretting over sexed-up comic book females because that’s what comic book females look like, they’re idealized versions of real women, so shut up already and enjoy the book for what it is, but chances are, the people saying that are all guys who like their super-heroines to look like Victoria’s Secret models, but that’s one reason why such representations are so subversive: they send a message to readers that this is the norm for female characters.

This cover is the latest misstep for DC Comics’ “New 52” relaunch, which also shrank Starfire’s already skimpy costume, reimagined Harley Quinn as a pole dancer, and turned Amanda Waller, one of DC’s best characters, period, from a big, middle-aged African-American woman into a young, skinny, sexy African-American woman, because reasons.

Someone needs to show DC the memo that girls and women read comics too. Better yet, they need to show them Kelly Sue DeConnick’s run on Captain Marvel and show them how to do a character redesign right.

 

Sign, Sign, Everywhere A Sign…

Last weekend was my farewell to the Connecticut Renaissance Faire for the season.

King Henry VIII treats the peasants to a dramatic reading.
King Henry VIII (Christian Galpin) treats the peasants to a dramatic reading of Action Figures at the Connecticut Renaissance Faire. Yes, it was as weird as it sounds.

My wife’s assistant Kate is back for the final weekend (after taking a few days away to go to New York, get engaged, and meet Captain Marvel writer Kelly Sue DeConnick while dressed as Captain Marvel…and yes, you read all that correctly), which means I get to stay home and work on draft one of book two of Action Figures.

That’s right, I am already working on the sequel, and I have been getting the “Write faster!” treatment from people who have already blown through book one, and want to be on the test-reader list for book two. Flattering, that.

As flattering as all the requests I received over the weekend to sign copies of my book. I think I signed eight copies, and one thing I learned: it’s tough coming up with unique and witty inscriptions. But it’s a good problem to have.

I also received a few inquiries about the e-book version, and so far things are on-track there. I’m expecting the Kindle version to be ready to go next week, and sorry, Nook owners, it’ll be a lot longer before you see a version. I’m taking advantage of the Kindle Direct Publishing perks, which means I’m locked into a Kindle-exclusive deal for 90 days from the e-book’s release, so non-Kindle owners will have to wait a few months more (or download one of the many free Kindle aps for your computer, tablet, or phone).