RI – Puke Force Signing

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Brian Chippendale appears at Ada Books on Thursday, February 25, 2016 at 7:00 PM to sign his debut graphic novel with Drawn & Quarterly, Puke Force.

Ada Books
717 Westminster Street, Providence, RI 02903
(401) 432-6222

UK – Beast Wagon Signing

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Owen Michael Johnson and John Pearson appear at Gosh Comics for a signing from 2:00 – 3:00 PM on Saturday 27th February 2016 to celebrate the launch of BEAST WAGON.

RSVP on Facebook!

Gosh Comics
1 Berwick St, SoHo, London W1F0DR
United Kingdom

IL – Kaijumax Signing

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Cartoonist Zander Cannon appears at Challengers Comics on Friday, February 26, 2016 from 7:00 PM – 10:00 PM to celebrate the launch of KAIJUMAX Vol. 1!

RSVP on Facebook!

Challengers Comics
1845 N. Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 278-0155

SC – Faith #1 Signing

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Artist Meghan Hetrick appears at Borderlands Comics & Games on Saturday, February 13, 2016 from 1:00 PM till 5:00 PM to sign the store exclusive variant cover of Valiant’s FAITH #1! Meghan is also the artist for Vertigo’s Red Thorn and several covers for DC and Marvel. Megan will have prints and art for sale as well.

RSVP on Facebook!

Borderlands Comics & Games
1434 Laurens Road, Greenville, SC 29607
(864) 235-3488

NH – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #55 Signing

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Cover artist Ben Bishop appears at Double Midnight Comics on Wednesday, February 24, 2016 on 10:00 AM to sign Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #55!

RSVP on Facebook!

Double Midnight Comics
245 Maple Street, Manchester, NH 03103
603-669-9636

PA – Patience Signing

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Daniel Clowes appears at the Parkway Central Library in conversation with Sam Briger on Thursday, March 3, 2016 at 7:30 PM to speak about his new graphic novel PATIENCE!

Press Release:

Celebrated graphic novelist and Academy Award-nominated screenwriter Daniel Clowes is the multiple Harvey, Ignatz, and Eisner Award-winning creator of the alternative comic Eightball. His graphic novel Ghost World was adapted into an acclaimed film directed by Terry Zwigoff and starring Thora Birch. Called “the country’s premier underground cartoonist” (Newsweek) and “a bona-fide cult hero” (The New Yorker), he is a frequent cover artist for The New Yorker. His new graphic novel is a psychedelic science-fiction love story, veering from violent destruction to deeply personal tenderness.

Free Library of Philadelphia – Parkway Central Library
1901 Vine Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103
215-686-5322

Rhode Island Comic-Con 2015 Report (with an interview with Chris Claremont)!

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I went to Rhode Island to see John and Chris. John is my best friend of 25 years. We have been through it all: four divorces (two each), five marriages (he can make it six), new careers, new houses, and the almost-death of his first son, Jonathan, back in 2000. John and I have been to a number of conventions together (see here, for example), and it was time to add the Rhode Island Comic-Con to our roll.

Chris is Chris Claremont. I love John like a brother, but let’s be clear: Chris is what drew me, a lifelong Southerner, to New England on the cusp of winter (November 5-8). I have been a fan of Chris since high school, when my friend Margot introduced me to a pretty cool comic called The Uncanny X-Men. The first issue I bought was #216. I read it, was hooked, and started buying it each month. My father noticed my zeal, and realizing he could teach investment skills while doing something fun with his soon-to-be-too-old-for-him son, he started advancing me allowances to buy back issues. I learned to grade comics and spot value, and within a year, I owned issues as far back as #12, the first appearance of Juggernaut.

I just realized: that was when Stan Lee was still writing the series.

Eventually, I let my collection stagnate, and then I sold it in 1999 for a couple thousand bucks so I could marry wife #2. (Now I don’t have her or the comics, and guess which I miss more?) But I never forgot my adoration of Chris Claremont. Then I saw he would be in Rhode Island, and I called John, with whom I hadn’t planned a trip all year. John said, “I’m in,” and I thought, You better be.

Rhode Island Comic-Con isn’t as large as San Diego or C2E2, and it isn’t as venerable as, say, DragonCon. But it is on the rise. I had this brought home to me when I talked to Susan Soares, the director of media. She told me she was expecting 60,000 attendees. In 2012, there were 16,000. This is an increase of 275%—in only three years! It is the “largest and most income-generating event in the state,” according to Susan, who expects the convention to keep growing because (1) Rhode Island is not a saturated market, (2) the staff is professional and easy-going, and (3) they advertise the heck out of it.

The growth hasn’t been easy to manage, however. In 2014, the convention made headlines for the wrong reasons, overselling and getting shut down for half a day by the Providence fire marshal (see this link for the full story). I asked Susan how that contretemps would be avoided this year, and she outlined a three-part strategy:

Expansion. Last year’s event was confined to the convention center in downtown Providence. This year, they planned to situate some elements (like the dealer room) in the adjacent Dunkin Donuts Center.

Day 3. Instead of being Saturday and Sunday only, this year’s convention would start on Friday.

Scanned badges. Using the New York Comic-Con model, convention employees would scan badges as people enter and exit. This would allow them to track how many people are in the convention center at any time, thereby not exceeding capacity and getting shut down.

Overall, the strategy was a success. They had sold out of Saturday one-day tickets by 11:00am on Saturday, but I heard no other accounts of people being turned away. There were, however, navigation problems. In a convention spread across two buildings, I was surprised by the dearth of directional signs. Plus there were no printed maps—the only map was on the mobile app—so all weekend, I heard people murmuring “Where is the dealer room?” or “I can’t find Vic Mignogna’s table!”

After two circumnavigations of artist alley, I found Chris Claremont, who had been gracious enough to agree to an interview.

Me: Chris, I want you to know: you are the reason I am at this convention. I wanted to see you. Princess Leia? Pssssh. Besides, she cancelled.

Chris: Oh, really? She cancelled?

Me: Yeah. [And she wasn’t the only one. Nearly a dozen celebrities were quietly flensed from the web site as of Friday morning. I’m used to one or two no-shows, but double digits?]

Chris: The funniest thing I’ve heard is the projected opening weekend gross for that film global is one billion. I saw the very first show of Star Wars at the Astor Plaza in New York, and it was empty. It gradually filled up, but there were empty seats, and we figured, nice movie when it started, but when it finished, it was like, holy shit. We walked out the door, and the line was four-deep around the block, and it didn’t go away for about three months.

Me: Speaking of movies, what do you think about Marvel’s movies, especially X-Men?

Chris: So far, Marvel has done very, very well. Kevin Feige is a brilliant film exec. Lauren Shuler-Donner is a brilliant film exec. Between the two of them, they have nailed the Marvel pantheon. The X-Men movies maybe aren’t as financially lucrative as The Avengers. On the other hand, the casting of them is breathtaking, from the first X-Men to Days of Future Past—and, from all accounts, Apocalypse. Kevin, by the same token, starting with Iron Man, it’s been an incredible ride. I mean, Ant-Man? Who would have thought Ant-Man?

Me: Ant-Man was good.

Chris: That’s the point. It was good. And, more importantly, the actors playing the roles seem to enjoy the experience. They want to come back for more.

Me: Did you have any involvement in the X-Men movies?

Chris: Well, I helped crystallize the deal that got it all started back in the beginning, when I was briefly an executive at Marvel. I provided north of 80 percent of the source material for the characters. I mean, they’re all my guys and gals. And two-thirds of them are pretty much straight adaptations of my work. I suppose you could honestly say it was all my fault.

Me: And we’re very grateful.

Chris: Actually, the funny part is, every so often I sneak into the Marvel movies. Scarlett Johannson’s secret identity in Iron Man 2, when she walks into Tony’s house and is introduced as Natalie Rushman . . . well, Natalie Rushman is a secret identity that I invented for the Black Widow when she did a four-part team-up where she had lost her memory as the Black Widow and thought she was a schoolteacher from Boston named Natalie Rushman [this takes place in Marvel Team-Up #82-85, and the alias is actually Nancy Rushman].

Me: Cool. Switching gears a little, you’ve written comic books, and you’ve written prose novels. What’s the difference in writing the two?

Chris: When you’re writing comics, the writer’s job is to tell the story to the visual artist. All the work that goes into writing a novel goes into describing the scene. [He opens a copy of Marada the She-Wolf. A Red Sonja-like character, Marada was created by Chris and the English artist John Bolton.] So it’s describing this scene so that John Bolton could bring it to life brilliantly. Which he does. It’s giving him the sequence of events and allowing him to do what he does best, which is draw a picture that makes you go, wow! When I first drafted this scene, there was going to be lots of dialogue about how she lost her father, lost her mother, yadda yadda yadda, blah blah blah. But when I got to the scene, when you see the images, when you get to this image, you don’t need any words. I mean, if you can’t figure out what’s going on, if you can’t figure out the emotional relationships just from looking at it, then neither of us is doing our job. John did his job brilliantly, unlike me talking now. The key to being a writer in comics is to know when to shut the hell up and let the artist do the work.

Me: So would your instructions for that panel be “Have someone lying on the bed,” or would you describe exactly how it should look?

Chris: Well, depends on the scene. Marvel did a 9/11 remembrance book [Heroes, released December 2001] where a writer and an artist would team up to do a poster commemorating what happened and how they felt about it, and when my page came around, I spent about 2,000 words describing the scene, and Salvador [Larocca] just drew this brilliant, brilliant picture, and as far as I was concerned, it didn’t need anything more from me. I had done my work, he had done his work, and the end result was brilliant.

Me: Very good. So you were inducted into the Comic Book Hall of Fame earlier this year. What was that like?

Chris: A lot of fun. One of the more unexpected things in my life. It’s way too cool for the likes of me.

Me: It doesn’t surprise me at all.

Chris: Well, you can think that. I’m not supposed to because I’m supposed to be shy and modest. But it’s way cool.

Me: When did you start doing conventions?

Chris: When they started asking me. How else can you meet the fans? In the old days, it was more fun because people would write letters, and the nice thing about them is it tells you what they were thinking of and how they were reacting to specific issues. Now it’s all posted online, and you seriously have to go looking for it. There aren’t that many hours in a day. But conventions are a really nice way of putting a face on the readership.

Me: What are a couple of your more memorable convention experiences?

Chris: Just meeting people. It’s a weird sensation when you run into creators, actors, people you’ve respected, and they tell you how cool you are, and you go, “No no no, that’s my line.”

Me: Do fans ever just go to pieces meeting you? Do they cry? Hyperventilate?

Chris: Oh yeah. But the cool thing is that now I’m starting to see a lot more young kids coming, which leads one to believe there’s hope.

Me: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Chris: Get a day job [laughs]. Being a writer is like being an artist: if you’ve got the bug, you do it. You don’t argue. You can’t argue. Then it’s just a matter of kicking at the wall until something sells. And then, once you make the first sell, you go for the second, then the third, then the fourth, and so on. There’s no real secret to being a writer. There’s just having an idea and then having the madcap determination to see it through to fruition.

You might assume this is an excerpt from the interview. It is not. This short conversation lasted over 20 minutes because we were sitting at Chris’s table in artist alley, and he was signing books all the while. My recording of the interview is peppered with crowd noise, his sidebars with other fans, and announcements blasted over the PA system. Chris had trouble getting into the convention—apparently, his vendor badge could not be located—and the interview started late, when he already had more people waiting for him than a Soviet bread line. Yet it was one of my best interviews ever. Chris is articulate and witty, and he cares a lot for his fans. Though I didn’t hyperventilate, meeting Chris Claremont is one of the highlights of my life. And it happened at Rhode Island Comic-Con.

The rest of the convention was as you might expect. Dunkin Donuts Center is a basketball arena, which makes it an odd venue for a convention. The dealer room was on the court, which was roomy, but some of the celebrities were tucked away in what looked like janitor closets. Know who had the longest signing lines that I saw? Tom Kenny and Bill Fagerbakke—you know, SpongeBob and Patrick, which confirms my theory that the next growth market for collectors is 1990s memorabilia.

There were few fan-led panels, which disappointed John. Such panels were the seed of conventions back in the 1970s, but they are in danger of disappearing in this bigger-is-better era. John likes the panels. He considers himself a fan but not a super-fan. The super-fan award goes to the girl I saw at Jim Beaver’s table. Tears streaked her teenaged face, and after she and her mother walked away, they stopped and hugged as though a dog had died.

Friends, that is fandom. That is love. Wil Wheaton says that the defining characteristic of being a nerd is that “we love things. Some of us love Firefly and some of us love Game of Thrones, or Star Trek, or Star Wars, or anime, or games, or fantasy, or science fiction. Some of us love completely different things. But we all love those things SO much that we travel for thousands of miles … we come from all over the world, so that we can be around people who love the things the way that we love them.”

Rhode Island was a great place to go for love. The convention is young, so I have no doubt they will work out the problems of limited space and no maps and unreliable celebs. Every staff member I saw, every volunteer I talked to, was a delight, which confirms what Susan Soares told me in the beginning.

So if you have the chance, go to Rhode Island Comic-Con next November. Buy your badge early. Study the schedule. Stay hydrated. It will be one of your best shows all year.

_______________________

karen line

John and I weren’t the only attendees.

deadpool

This guy was also there. Wait, he’s at every convention!

knight

Due to the no-weapons policy, this guy wasn’t allowed to be armed.

chris

Chris Claremont signs my comic.

fonz

The Fonz tells me to leave the convention.

lost

Whoops! This isn’t the way to the men’s room.

metatron

An angel just below my shoulder.

contest

Various winners from Saturday night’s costume contest, which had 70-80 total entries.

catwoman

“You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.”

Bobby

Jim Beaver asked me where I am from. “North Carolina,” I said. He nodded and said, “That explains it.” I wanted to say, “Right. Like Bobby Singer doesn’t have a rural accent!”

groot

John and Groot, not seeing eye-to-eye.

tardis

“Uh, Doctor? I think you regenerated a little too far back.”

lois

This gal is a great little Kidder.

cosplay repair

Not something you see at most conventions, but a good idea.

doctor

This guy also shows up at every convention. It’s like he has a time machine or something.

Comic Art Con Returns April 3rd

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Press Release:

The next Comic Art Con is just two months away and will be held on Sunday, April 3, 2016 at the Clarion Empire Meadowlands Hotel in Secaucus, NJ. Admission is only $10 and bring your children for no additional charge!

Now in its eighth year, Comic Art Con will once again take place in the hotel’s massive 5,000 square foot main ballroom. The room will have 45 tables jammed packed with original comic book art… and only art. No comic books here! Whether you are a big time collector or just getting your feet wet, Comic Art Con is THE can’t miss event for original art.

Show hours are 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM so be sure to arrive early and plan on spending the day. Over the upcoming weeks we will be announcing our vendor roster as well as our guest artists so stay tuned! For more information please go to www.comicartshowcase.com or email us directly at dgallo1291@aol.com

Click the link to view photos from a previous show!

NJ – An Evening w/ Kevin Smith

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Writer/director Kevin Smith appears at the Stress Factory Comedy Club on Sunday, May 1, 2016 at 7:00 PM!

A writer, comedian, podcaster, and film director, KEVIN SMITH has written and directed numerous films, including Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma, Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back, Red State, Tusk, and Yoga Hosers; Creator of AMC’s Comic Book Men; authored Silent Bob Speaks, Shootin’ the Sh*t with Kevin Smith, My Boring-Ass Life and Tough Sh*t: Life Advice from a Fat, Lazy Slob Who Did Good. He can be heard daily at Smodcast.com, a vast network of podcasts.

An Evening with Kevin Smith is a chance to get up close and personal with the man who brought the world these films.

Get tickets at the link!

RSVP on Facebook!

Stress Factory Comedy Club
90 Church St, New Brunswick, NJ 8901
732-545-4242

IL – D + Q Creators Signing

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Press Release:

Brian Chippendale (Puke Force) and Nick Drnaso (Beverly) sign at Saturday, February 20, 2016 at 7:00 PM. Cartoonist and Lightning Bolt drummer Chippendale’s debut with Drawn & Quarterly is a dark and dense social satire that comments on social media narcissism, the malice of the right, and the hypocrisies of the left. Drnaso’s Beverly delves into the barely repressed anxieties and obsessions of suburban teens. Join Brian Chippendale and Nick Drnaso for an evening of great comics and book signings!

Brian Chippendale is a musician and artist based in Providence, Rhode Island. He was one of the founding members of the Fort Thunder collective. Chippendale is the author of Maggots, If n Oof, and Ninja, and the drummer/singer half of the noise rock band Lightning Bolt. His most recent publication Puke Force comes out this Fall.

Nick Drnaso was born in 1989 in Palos Hills, Illinois. He has contributed to several comics anthologies, self-published a handful of comics, been nominated for three Ignatz Awards, and co-edited the second and third issue of Linework, Columbia College’s annual comic anthology. Drnaso lives in Chicago, where he works as a cartoonist and illustrator. His debut publication Beverly comes out this Fall.

RSVP on Facebook!

Quimby’s Bookstore
1854 West North Avenue, Chicago, IL 60622
773-342-0910

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