Friday, January 6, 2017

Calgary Expo 2017 Wish List

Well, here we are again, once again it's time to slowly start gearing up for the Calgary Expo. While I may have been a bit critical of their guest line-up last year, (Feeling there was more of an emphasis on celebrities than comic creators) I must admit, I had a great time. Picked up some great comics, some great art, met some artists I admired. Even got to do a fist bump with Stan Lee-how cool is that?
Oh and he upped the resale value of my Spider-Man trade paperback...

And as they've recently announced guests like Nathan Fillion, Christopher Lambert, Danielle Panabaker, Millie Bobbie Brown and Jim Shooter, I figured that I would give them a list of people I would like to see them invite this year. 

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Schweitzer-Man meets Stan Lee!!!

I had gone to the Calgary Expo many times over the past few years and despite getting the autographs of some actors, artists and writers, I never sought one from the man who was arguably the main attraction to each and every convention he went to: Stan Lee. 

You'd think a huge nerd and history buff like me would want the autograph of one of the few living legends left from Marvel's golden age but, and I must be honest, sometimes I'm not the biggest fan of Stan Lee himself. 
I'm not going to deny his accomplishments but I think a lot of times people give him too much credit undeservedly and he's very unwilling to share that credit. 

Friday, September 23, 2016

Schweitzer-Man Meets Steve Blum

I had hoped that I could kick off my first day in the Calgary Expo by getting the autograph of the one and only Stan Lee. However it seems that I should have checked the program a lot more closely because it turns out he was doing his autographs in an entirely different building. 

By the time I had already figured this out, chances of me getting an autograph from him at the time were slim to none. It wasn't a total loss though since he would be doing other signings throughout the day so I decided to head towards the main autograph area and get the John Hancock of voice actor Steve Blum.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

2016 Calgary Expo Wish List

Every time I go to the Calgary Expo, I always seem to have a great time. I always buy lots of great stuff like comics I've wanted from days gone by or art that I can't stop looking at (None of it's porn; I have the internet for that). 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Comics Conundrum: IDW's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

I was born in 1986 and one of the earliest cartoons I remember watching as a kid was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. At one point my parents actually had to ban it for a while because I was using the moves I saw on the show on my two sisters. Not my fault that my parents sired girls who looked exactly like Bebop and Rocksteady...

If you squint it does look like them

Once Batman: The Animated Series began airing, the Turtles I saw less and less of. Recently I tried watching a few episodes on Teletoon Retro and if I'm honest, the series just doesn't hold up. To me, it's too goofy and ridiculous. Now before you start sending me hate-mail, let me just say that if you still love the show, that's great. I, however, do not.

However, my waning fandom notwithstanding, Ninja Turtles continued to thrive and remain a part of the popular culture. Sometime in 2011, I was at a comic book store and saw that a new Ninja Turtles comic had recently been launched by IDW Publishing. Feeling a bit nostalgic, I decided to pick a few issues up. There were good, I enjoyed them but I didn't really feel like it was a series I wanted to keep up with. Hell, at that point I wasn't even into the comic collecting phase I am now.

So flash-forward about two years and I was on a comic book website and someone was talking about how much they were enjoying IDW's TMNT series. I remember someone in the comments section throwing out the praise, "THIS is how you do a reboot!"
Like me, whoever made that comment was probably shaking their heads at DC's New 52. I decided that I would give the series another closer look and bought the first two trade paperbacks.

The following week I went back to my local comic book store and bought the next two trade paperbacks. And since then I've bought every trade paperback that's come out. This series kicks major ninja ass!

Instead of wasting time telling an origin story that most people familiar with the franchise are aware of, it starts out with three of our heroes and their mentor Splinter battling some thugs being lead by a mutated anthropomorphic cat named Old Hob. How obvious that a cat and a rat are trying to kill each other...

Meanwhile, rude and crude Raphael has been missing from the group ever since they mutated over a year ago. From there we meet the usual group of side characters: April O'Neil (Sans yellow-jumpsuit), Casey Jones and Baxter Stockman, just to name a few. We also learn some interesting things like why in the first volume the Turtles are all wearing red masks instead of the standard colored-coordinated ones we'll see later on.

And of course, we get our familiar villains like Shredder, Krang and even Bebop and Rocksteady. I was worried that when these two showed up that they would just be made into Nolan-esque versions of themselves but they still seem like the two goofs from the original cartoon.

Nothing about this series feels weak or that the writers and artists aren't putting 100% of their talent on the page so that they can tell the best stories possible. I think the high-point of the series so far has been the 'City Fall' storyline which takes up two whole volumes of the trade paperbacks but doesn't feel like it's being drawn out simply because Kevin Eastman and the other writers don't know where to take it.
Kevin Eastman mugs for my camera before giving me an autograph and some advice

Now, does this series have a darker tone than any of the cartoons? Oh yeah, but nothing that would make it only for mature audiences. Yes, the Shredder does use those spikes on his gloves a few times, bad guys get their asses kicked but never does it feel like it's being dark for the sake of being dark. I actually burst out laughing when I realized that in one scene where Michelangelo cooks breakfast, there's an obvious picture of Gordon Ramsay in the kitchen.

You thought I was making that up, didn't you?

What's also great is that everything that happens in one story will have an impact on the following story and sometimes the heroes have to question their own motives and wonder aloud if they're really doing what's important. At the end of the most recent volume (Number 10) Donatello-without the help of his brothers-makes the risky move in seeking the Foot Clan's help because he believes they are all that stands in the way of the Krang taking over Earth.

There's a lot more that I could say about this series but I'm afraid that my words just wouldn't do the comic justice. If you're a fan of the franchise, were let down by the recent movie and looking for a great Ninja Turtles story to get into, this comic is exactly what you're looking for.

Oh and on one final note, if you weren't sold on this series already, they've recently done a crossover with another license under IDW Publishing: Ghostbusters.
Brings a tear to your eye, doesn't it?

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Comics Conundrum

For the past two years, I've become really obsessed with comic books and visual storytelling. I suppose I always was in love with the medium but it really has gone to Ludicrous Speed since the 2013 Calgary Expo. I would constantly talk about them at work, talk about stroylines, great writers and artists to the point where I'm probably referred to as "The Superhero Guy".

In early October I did an inventory of all the comic books in my apartment and came to a total of 151 single issues, 38 trade paperbacks, four books based off of webcomics and 11 books related to comic writing, art books etc. Ten days ago I did another inventory count and the number of single issues nearly doubled. Currently standing at 283 and I've still got more coming in the mail within a day or two. 

Just a selection of the comics in my apartment (I'm more of a DC fan)

My supervisor at work (For the sake of anonymity, I'll refer to her as Captain N) suggested that maybe I start a blog and just talk about comics there since I do it on Facebook so much. Not a bad idea except that I barely update this blog as it is and I tried doing something like this with cartoons a few years ago and never really went anywhere with it. 

However, with Lent coming up, I decided to do what I did last year and abstain from buying comic books. It'll help me save money and also I'll be able to buy more stuff at this year's Calgary Expo. And if I'm not buying comics, I suppose it'll give me more time to catch up on one's that I haven't gotten around to actually reading yet and maybe even use this blog more often. 

With that said, I'd like to announce that my next post will be about one of my favorite ongoing comic series, and that's IDW's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. 
This is how you do a reboot of a long running series