Sharing The Love: The Random List Edition

I haven’t been as good about keeping up on this as I should have been, so in the interest of getting the new year off to a good start, I’m going to throw out a quick list of cool things I’ve discovered recently.

  • I’m going to start with the Worcester Writers Collaborative, a group I recently found and joined for its New Year’s Day group dinner. Long story short, I’m usually not comfortable around strangers so attending this gathering was a big step outside my comfort zone, but I met some cool people and I’m looking forward to joining future get-togethers.
  • Star Wars – The Force Awakens. What’s left to say? It was a Star Wars movie in the classic sense.
  • Castle Panic. One of the many games my wife and I got for Christmas. It’s quick and easy to learn, light, fun, and surprisingly challenging. Veronica and I have played this several times since we got it, and we’ve had some real nail-biter sessions.Descent
  • Descent – Journeys in the Dark. Another game, this one a board game-style dungeon crawler. It took me a while to digest the rule book and our first game was definitely a fumble-through, but once I got used to it I found the quests move along quite smoothly. Veronica and I are in the middle of a campaign-style game, which takes about 20 hours to complete and, thanks to the branching storyline, can be replayed several times with different individual quests.
  • Macallan. Single-malt Scotch. I like it. Scotchy Scotch Scotch.
  • Ms. Marvel. Still my favorite Marvel title.
  • Skyrim. I know, I’m very late to the Skyrim party, but I’m enjoying it…not as much as I could, but I have books to write.

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.

 

Great Minds

Nothing of consequence today, but I was amused to see the variant cover for the upcoming Ms. Marvel (which you should really check out), by Annie Wu (who you should also check out, because I dig her stuff). The concept: the star of the series, at school, subtly displaying her power in front of her locker, which contains her costume. Sound familiar? It should…

Action Figures #1 at left, by Tricia Lupien; Ms. Marvel #3, at right, by Annie Wu.
Action Figures #1 at left, by Tricia Lupien; Ms. Marvel #3, at right, by Annie Wu.

Creative simpatico is its finest!