Pearls Before Swine Signing Tour

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Cartoonist Stephan Pastis, creator of Pearls Before Swine, goes on a signing tour across the United States!

Monday, 3/24           Vroman’s Bookstore, 695 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA – 7:00pm

Tuesday, 3/25          Bookworks, 4022 Rio Grande Blvd NW, Albuquerque, NM – 7:00pm

Thursday, 3/27       Swift Creek Middle School, 3700 Old Hundred Road, Midlothian, VA – 7:00 pm  RSVP on Facebook!

Friday, 3/28              Park Road Books, 4139 Park Rd, Charlotte NC – 6:00pm RSVP on Facebook!

Saturday, 3/29         WORD Bookstore, 123 Newark Ave, Jersey City, NJ – 4:00pm – RSVP on Facebook!

Monday, 3/31           A Room of One’s Own, 315 W Gorham St, Madison, WI –  6:00 pm - RSVP on Facebook!

Tuesday, 4/1             Joseph-Beth Booksellers, 161 Lexington Green Circle, Lexington, KY – 7:00pm - RSVP on Facebook!

Wednesday, 4/2       West Shore UU Church, 20401 Hilliard Blvd, Rocky River, OH  - 7:00pm - RSVP on Facebook!

Thursday, 4/3          BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar Blvd., Austin, TX - 7:00pm - RSVP on Facebook!

Saturday, 4/5            Watermark Books, 4701 E Douglas Ave, Wichita, KS - 5:00pm - RSVP on Facebook!

NC – Free Comic Book Day 2014

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Brian Stelfreeze, Jeremy Dale, Jason Latour, Andy Runton, and many more appear at Heroes Aren’t Hard To Find on Saturday May 3, 2014 for Free Comic Book Day!

Press Release:

Free Comic Book Day 2014 at Heroes is going to be our best yet! Come out on May 3rd to meet great comic artists, get free comics and have a great time with your pals at Heroes Aren’t Hard To Find! Check out our awesome guest list below and please save the date!

Creators will be signing from 1PM to 5PM (or longer at the creators’ discretion)

NATALIE ANDREWSON – Artist: Mamuna, Meanwhile
CHRIS BRUNNER – Artist: Loose Ends, Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight, The Ride
SHAWN CRYSTAL – Artist: Deadpool, Fantomex, Archer & Armstrong
JEREMY DALE – Writer/Artist: Skyward
SANFORD GREENE – Artist: Rotten Apple, Deadpool, Wonder Girl, Methodman GN
JOHN HAIRSTON JR – Painter
JASON LATOUR – Writer: Wolverine & The X-Men, Winter Soldier, Loose Ends Artist: Southern Bastards, B.P.R.D., Django Unchained
JACKIE LEWIS – Artist: Play Ball
JAY POTTS – Writer/Artist: World of Hurt, Atomech
BUDD ROOT – Writer/Artist: Cavewoman
ANDY RUNTON – Writer/Artist: Owly
HOYT SILVA – Artist: Quatermain: Ghosts of the Nzadi
BRIAN STELFREEZE – Artist: Day Men, Domino, Matador, Batman: Shadow of the Bat

NOTE: Free sketches are at the discretion of the artists, and are not guaranteed.

RSVP on Facebook!

Heroes Aren’t Hard To Find 
1957 E. 7th Street, Charlotte, NC 28204

Mad Monster Party Charlotte 2014 Con Report!

Tom Savini & Katie Bearden. Photo courtesy of Long Walk Productions.

Tom Savini & Katie Bearden. Photo courtesy of Long Walk Productions.

 

The Mad Monster Party returned to Charlotte this weekend, March 21-23, 2014, by far their biggest effort yet. This was the third year for the convention that celebrates everything from old school Twilight Zone to A House of 1,000 Corpses, and everything in between. In fact, where else could you find Leatherface himself, RA Mihailoff reciting the Bard with Shakespeare Carolina, while music legends The Misfits looked on? It was truly a bizarre weekend.

I had the great fortune to be invited by local independent film makers, Long Walk Productions, to hang with them at their vendor booth for the convention. This meant that my time was split between working the Con and also enjoying it from a visitor’s perspective. It’s interesting to see things from both sides of the house, especially if you want a clear impression of what is really going on around you. It’s always a good thing, unless of course you are reviewing a restaurant. In that case, I assure you…stay out of the kitchen.

The Mad Monster Party (MMP) was set up between two large ballrooms at the University Place Hilton in Charlotte. The hotel is situated by a small lake, amongst many shops and restaurants all connected by small footbridge. Parking was a little tricky, but almost always is at events such as these. MMP utilized every bit of space that they could, lining the hallways of the hotel with various vendor booths and installing a gala tent in the parking lot. Everywhere you turned, strange collectibles and stars of the macabre awaited. Upon set up Friday, it seemed as though everything was planned to perfection. Little did I know how busy things were in the lobby with people trying to get through Will Call with their pre-paid ticket receipts.

And then, of course, came Saturday. Saturdays are notorious for being the busiest convention day because that’s when most people are able to attend. It became evident quickly that the volunteer staff was not prepared to handle the situation. Social media began to explode with posts citing excessively long lines and ticketing issues among other things. Television and film star John Schneider, who was there to do a special screening of his new film Smothered, remained positive as he told me, “We had a good turnout [for the screening] but I wouldn’t do it on a Friday night again, because I’ve had a bunch of people say that they couldn’t get in last night because in order to see Smothered, they had to get in here first. And the line was too long, so by the time they got their ticket, Smothered was either already started or over.” Aside from that snafu, Schneider seemed rather pleased with the rest of MMP.

That seemed to be the consensus all around. Nightmare on Elm Street’s Heather Langenkamp, commenting on the amount of people waiting in line to meet her,  “It’s something like I have never experienced.” For the most part, vendors and celebrities were easily accessible, with no more than a 10 minute wait at any given time. But as Saturday progressed, maneuverability waned. Table lines grew wildly, specifically for William Shatner, Cassandra “Elvira” Peterson, and Corey Feldman. Traffic flow to the tables was not designated prior, so fans were coming at them from all sides. It was a complete cluster. Finally, someone had the sense to put some silver duct tape on the floor in front of Elvira’s table to split the flow of traffic in either direction. Feldman told me, “I think it’s [MMP] great, you know. It’s probably the biggest one I’ve seen outside of [San Diego] Comic Con, that would be my guess.

Joe Moe, one of the three event organizers, was on hand throughout the weekend, talking to vendors, guests, and overseeing things first hand. I witnessed him assess a pedestrian traffic jam and quickly remedy the situation by addressing volunteer staff and guests. Having been on the working side of conventions before, I know how overwhelming things can become. Moe, always with a smile on his face, took it all in stride. “We’re having some growing pains, yes. Ballpark, it looks like we’re on track with 4-5,ooo in attendance, which is what we had hoped for.” Moe also made sure to respond to comments on social media outlets throughout the weekend, which were not always positive, and address concerns in the best way that he could. “We’re really responsive to fans.”

Many of those fans had some downright horrible things to say in their posts. This is the first time that I have seen that level of response to a convention. Sure, I had issues with the event. For starters, the power went off twice in the ballroom leaving everyone in the dark for a few moments. The A/C was all but non-existent. There wasn’t enough signage or a proper map laid out in their pamphlets to let guests know which celebs were in which ballroom, or to provide the location of any special panels (the tent in the parking lot, in case you were wondering). One of the actors, I won’t name names, bumped into me at a water cooler. “I ain’t seen a staff member in hours.” He’d had to abandon his autograph table in order to get a drink of water because volunteers all but disappeared the more chaotic the crowd became. There were so many things that I witnessed–again, as both vendor and guest–that I would have done differently.

Certainly, there were cases where the venting was called for. If I’d pre-purchased tickets and still been subjected to a 3.5hr line to hand in the receipt, I would have been pissed! If my car had been lost by the valet (yes, that happened) the whole world would have known about it. But, the majority of the complaints were, in my opinion, blown out of proportion. I don’t know anything about this Joe Moe or his colleagues. But what I do know, is that someone who is a fanboy at heart, got the idea to start a convention. A party by the fans for the fans. For everything that was wrong, so much of the weekend was right. Even Disney World gave me a headache (fast-pass my behind). But it was still one of the greatest vacations of my life.

That being said, let’s consider the rest of MMP, shall we? One minute I’m discussing special effects make-up with the great Tom Savini, and the next, I’m cracking jokes with the likes of Richard Kiel and Dick Miller. There was a panel between WWF (yeah…I said it) legends Rowdy Roddy Piper and Hulk Hogan. Henry “the Fonz” Winkler was showing off children’s books. Cherie Currie was chatting me up on the history of rock legends the Runaways. Corey Feldman used my cell phone. Megan Grant, a licensed cosmetologist and entrepreneur, was set up with her Get Dead Crew, providing air-brush and prosthetics to people, literally turning them into monsters on site. There was karaoke in the hotel bar Saturday night. I laid down the boogie and played that funky music til they died. Or at least until the Misfits’ Dr. Chud cracked up laughing at me. The highlight of my weekend at MMP was Saturday night at midnight, when an estimated 1,000 guests piled into the gala tent to watch a screening of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, featuring a spectacular shadow-cast troupe called That Type from Charlotte’s Cinebarre, and featuring the film’s stars Barry Bostwick, Patricia Quinn and “Little” Nell Campbell. RHPS historian, Larry Vizel was on hand to film and conduct interviews for the upcoming 40th anniversary documentary Rocky Horror Saved My Life. It was an historical evening. In her second year attending with her family, Roseana Matthews found a “Golden Ticket” in the “Monsta Bar” she had purchased. The chocolates were a monster mock up of the famous Wonka Bar, with 6 lucky winners being upgraded to RIP status.

I guess the point that I’m trying to make, is that people need to lighten up. Unless something truly horrible happened to you or someone you care about as a direct result of something at a convention, you’re problem isn’t as big as you’re making it out to be. MMP is, as Moe said, experiencing growing pains. In 3 short years, the event has grown exponentially. Given their celebrity guest list, perhaps they should have considered a different venue. This is an event that is convention center worthy, crammed into a hotel. In order to make up for the overcrowding (which, according to local news, had the attention of the Fire Marshall), organizers will need to carefully consider where they set up next year. Or at least, reconsider the amount of vendors in the halls (many in wheelchairs had difficulties navigating) or alter the layout. Volunteer staff could be better trained. But this is how it is done, honestly, trial and error. As an event organizer, you try to prepare for every possible scenario you can imagine and you train your staff based on that. Without fail, something unexpected will always crop up; being short handed, celebs that cancel, ticketing issues, photo-op issues, and so forth. Conventions should be looked at as viable organisms, growing and changing and evolving. They will never be able to please all fans all the time. But they will certainly try. Year to year, they’ll try.

And it’s important for MMP to learn from their mistakes and move forward a little more prepared next year. For every celebrity guest I interviewed raved about how much fun they were having and how they couldn’t wait to come back. Celebrating all that scares us excites our film heroes, too. “Your first scare is the most important one you have,” said Langenkamp, admitting that the Flying Monkeys from the Wizard of Oz is what started it all for her. Dick Miller laughed, “I’ve very rarely been scared by movies…except for something Shirley Temple did.” Barry Bostwick had other ideas, “You wanna know why I do this? I do this to talk to lovely people like you and to oogle the girls. I just sit here and watch the girls go by.” Thanks, Barry.

All in all, in spite of a few hiccups–some preventable, some not–I think Mad Monster Party was a huge success. It is a relaxed environment where you get to hang out with the celebrities, rather than being separated from them like at some other conventions. Between the few panels that they had, the movie screenings, and the Rocky Horror reunion, it was definitely worth the ticket price for anyone who attended. Even though I did my fair share of mumbling and complaining throughout the weekend, I will admit, as a fan I am grateful an event such as this has been put together. I hope that, in time, other fans will learn to appreciate what all goes into putting on an event of this size and what they got to experience over all. I’m looking forward to seeing what 2015 brings for the Mad Monster Party!

Photos courtesy of Garrett Marks and Walker Bait Productions, unless otherwise noted.

Cassandra "Elvira" Peterson.

Cassandra “Elvira” Peterson.

RA Mihailoff (Leatherface) reciting with Shakespeare Carolina and Long Walk Productions.

RA Mihailoff (Leatherface) reciting with Shakespeare Carolina and Long Walk Productions.

Patricia Quinn chatting with the Carolina Ghostbusters.

Patricia Quinn chatting with the Carolina Ghostbusters.

Barry Bostwick.

Barry Bostwick.

Joking around with Richard Kiel.

Joking around with Richard Kiel.

Setting up in one of the MMP ballrooms.

Setting up in one of the MMP ballrooms.

NC – Chris Giarrusso Signs

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Chris Giarrusso signs at Ultimate Comics on Saturday April 12th from 10:30 am till 4:00 pm!!

Ultimate Comics
6120 Farrington Road, Chapel Hill, NC 27517
(919) 806-8282

NC – Action Lab Day

actionlabPress Release:

Acme is very proud to have partnered with Action Lab Comics to bring you a unique and in-depth entertaining learning experience on Saturday March 29th for FREE!

Come out and join Skyward creator Jeremy Dale, Skyward editor and Action Lab marketing director Kelly Dale, Ehmm Theory co-creator and artist Larkin Ford, Action Lab president Kevin Freeman and Ehmm Theory co-creator and writer Brockton McKinney for a day of SEMINARS, SIGNING and SKETCHING, all FREE to the public!*

SEMINARS
at ACME COMICS PRESENTS
    1. WRITERS FORUM with Jeremy Dale & Brockton McKinney, 11:00 AM
      • How to create story outlines, judge pacing and craft a script for an artist!
      • How to connect with an artist or vice versa and how you know you have a good fit!
      • Learn collaborative “Do’s” and “Don’t’s”!

 

    1. ARTISTS FORUM with Jeremy Dale & Larkin Ford, 1:00 PM
      • How to turn a written script into finished art!
      • How to decide between working with full color and black & white!
      • How to layout a cover to standout on the store shelves!

 

  1. BUSINESS FORUM with Kelly Dale & Kevin Freeman, 3:00 PM
    • Once you have an idea or finished product, how to market it via social media or conventions to stores and the public!
    • How to present your portfolio or story to a publisher!
    • What constitutes intellectual property and how to protect it!

 

SIGNING & SKETCHING
at ACME COMICS
  • Kelly Dale & Brockton McKinney - 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM
  • Jeremy Dale & Larkin Ford - 3:00 PM – 4:30 PM

*Each of the three sessions is limited to 10 attendees, so please reserve your spot via FacebookTwitter ore-mail in advance! Only those seriously interested, please! Just a few spots left so reach us today!

Acme Comics
2150 Lawndale Drive, Greensboro, NC 27408

NC – Savage Wolverine Signing

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Superstar comic artist Phil Jimenez (Infinite Crisis, Wonder Woman, New X-Men) and new comic writer/ animal advocate Scott Lope at Jake’s Memory Lane Comics on Saturday March 15th at 1:00 pm.

MLC is teaming up with Jimenez, Lope and, of course, the Savage Wolverine to fight Rhino poaching. 100 percent of the proceeds of Savage Wolverine 12 and 13 from our store will be donated to Animal Warriors to help take the fight to the poachers. This is a great family friendly event. We have plenty of copies to get signed by the Marvel Comics creators. The signing starts at 1pm.

In addition to the signing, we’ll have some crazy good specials, including a fifty cent comic sale!

RSVP on Facebook!

Jake’s Memory Lane Comics
5214 Market St. 105, Wilmington, NC 28405

Team Eastman’s 2014 Turtle Tour

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KEVIN EASTMAN, co-creator of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and longtime publisher of Heavy Metal, kicks off a year of touring across the United States and abroad this weekend with an appearance at Jared’s Epic Party in Dallas, TX! Visit Kevin’s website for full details of all his original art available for sale and regular updates about his schedule. And stay in touch with Kevin on Facebook and Twitter!

Upcoming 2014 appearances and signings …..

February 22 -  Jareds Epic Party – Dallas, TX

March 2   - Sac Con – Sacramento, CA

March 28 and 29 – DLUX Expo – Detroit, MI

April 5 and 6 – Gem City Comic Con – Dayton, OH

April 25 & 26 - Calgary Comic Con, Canada

May 3 - Free Comic Book Day, Jetpack, Rochester, NH

May 9 & 10 - WAP! Comic Con, Ft. Lauderdale, FL

May 31 & June 1 - Indy Pop Con, Indianapolis, IN

June 6 & 7 - Niagara Falls CC, Niagara Falls, Canada

June 21 - Heroes Con, Charlotte, NC

July 12 & 13 - Capitol City Comic Con – Austin, TX

July 24-27 - San Diego Comicon – San Diego, CA

Sept 12 & 13 - Wizard World – Richmond, VA

Sept 26-27 - Alamo City – San Antonio, TX

October – Australia and New Zealand TBA

NC – NOFRIENDS Reunion

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NOFRIENDS family reunion! featuring the one and only Adam WarRock and Tribe One! plus The ThoughtCriminals! Roanoke, Virginia’s Illbotz! and sets by kristybee!, Mikal kHill, Sulfur (Sean Church) and more!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

8:00 PM DOORS / 9:00 PM SHOW / AGES 18 & UP WELCOME!
$7 in advance / $9 day of show ($2 surcharge for under 21)

RSVP on Facebook!

The World Famous Milestone Club (est.1969)
3400 Tuckaseegee Road (between Karendale & Glenwood) Charlotte, NC 28208
(704)398-0472

Ichibancon 2014 Report!

Two years ago, my knowledge of anime was limited to three facts: (1) it was made in Japan, (2) the characters had weird hair and eyes, and (3) my daughter was obsessed with it. She would emerge from her room after a weekend binge, hair wild, eyes bloodshot–looking like a character herself, actually–and I would think, “What does she see in those shows?”

Then I watched Fullmetal Alchemist, then Death Note, then Black Butler, and I thought, “OK, these are pretty cool.” So cool, in fact, that I took my daughter to Ichibancon 3, my first anime convention, in 2012. We are now back from Ichibancon 5, held January 9-12 in Concord, NC, a suburb of Charlotte. It has grown a lot since our first year–bigger hotel, more dealers, more fans, and three days instead of two. Last year, for instance, there were 2-3 arcade games in the hallway. This year, a room was devoted to Street Fighter, Technika 3, Versus City, Dance Dance Revolution Extreme, Guitar Freaks, and about a dozen Playstations and Xbox 360s.

There were also more guests than before. J. Michael Tatum, Bryce Papenbrook, Cherami Leigh, Jad Sexton, and Chuck Huber all had Q & A sessions following by autograph signings. I sat in on Bryce’s Saturday Q & A, which had about 100 attendees in a ballroom that seated nearly 400. Respectable, but not great. Afterward, five or six people left, and about 300 streamed in. Soon cosplayers were standing against the walls and out the doors, waiting for the weekend’s headliner, Vic Mignogna.

Vic is the Johnny Depp of anime. I had seen him at previous conventions, and each time I was amazed at how good he was with fans. He talks to them like old friends, lets girls hug him, and signs anything you wave in his face. In his Q & A, he showed the energy and improv skills of a young Robin Williams. Someone asked him–they always ask him–for his advice to aspiring voice actors, and it was this: (1) get as much experience as you can acting, (2) move to one of the best cities for voice actors–Los Angeles, New York, Houston, Dallas, or Vancouver–and (3) find a way to feed yourself. (Voice actors don’t exactly make it rain.)

Ichibancon was fun, and I was glad to see it growing. In March, I am headed to Winston-Salem to the Triad Anime Con, which is operated by the same company, Nostalgiaconventions. Maybe I’ll see you there!

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Hero Initiative Announces 20 Convention Stops in 2014

Herb Trimpe
Press Release:

Hero Initiative Announces 2014 Convention Schedule—20 dates in all!

LOS ANGELES, CA (January 22, 2014) Hero Initiative, the non-profit organization that raises money for comic veterans in medical and financial need, will be attending 20 comic conventions in 2014!

Yes! The Hero crew will be busy bees this year bringing you special guests, parties, and much more from San Diego to Calgary to New York City! We may be attending a convention near you, so make sure you stop by and help us help others who have paved the way for many others and have brought us years of joy! JUST DO IT!

Schedule is as follows:

March 7-9
Wizard World Sacramento
http://www.wizardworld.com/home-sacramento.html

March 14-16
Planet Comicon, Kansas City, MO
http://planetcomicon.wordpress.com/

March 21-23
Orlando MegaCon With special guest Herb Trimpe appearing EXCLUSIVELY at the Hero booth, #733
http://www.MegaConvention.com/

March 28-30
Emerald City Seattle
http://www.emeraldcitycomicon.com/

April 4-6
Wizard World St. Louis
http://www.wizardworld.com/home-stlouis.html

April 18-20
Awesome Con Washington DC
http://awesomecondc.com/

April 25-27
Reed Chicago C2E2
http://www.c2e2.com/

April 24-27
Calgary Comic Expo
http://calgaryexpo.com/

May 2-4
Wizard World Minneapolis
http://www.wizardworld.com/home-minneapolis.html

May 17-18
Big Wow San Jose
http://www.bigwowcomicfest.com/

May 31-June 1
Long Beach Comic Expo
http://longbeachcomiccon.com/

June 5-8
Phoenix Comic Con
http://www.phoenixcomicon.com/

June 20-22
Charlotte HeroesCon
http://www.heroesonline.com/heroescon/

July 23-27
San Diego With Hero Board of Directors member Dennis O’Neil in attendance!
http://comic-con.org/cci

August 21-24
Wizard World Chicago
http://www.wizardworld.com/home-ch.html

September 5-7
Baltimore Comic Con
http://baltimorecomiccon.com/

September 27-28
Long Beach Comic Con
http://longbeachcomiccon.com/

October 2-4
Wizard World Austin
http://www.wizardworld.com/home-tx.html

October 9-12
Reed New York Comic Con
http://www.newyorkcomiccon.com/

October 31-November 2
Wizard World Ohio
http://www.wizardworld.com/home-ohio.html

About The Hero Initiative

The Hero Initiative is the first-ever federally chartered not-for-profit corporation dedicated strictly to helping comic book creators in need. Hero creates a financial safety net for yesterday’s creators who may need emergency medical aid, financial support for essentials of life, and an avenue back into paying work. It’s a chance for all of us to give back something to the people who have given us so much enjoyment.

Since its inception, The Hero Initiative has had the good fortune to grant over $500,000 to the comic book veterans who have paved the way for those in the industry today. For more information, visit www.heroinitiative.org or call 626-676-6354.

For more information, please visit us at www.heroinitiative.org.

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