DragonCon 2017 Report (Including Interview with Jai Nitz)!

Before I saw Suicide Squad, I knew nothing about Chato Santana, who is the alter ego of El Diablo, the pyrokinetic gangbanger from East LA. After seeing the movie, he quickly became my favorite comic book character and one of my all time favorite characters in any medium. The reason I personally enjoy him is because he’s relatable. Everyone has their own regrets and every person wishes they could redeem themselves for something they’ve done in their past. Deadshot, Captain Boomerang, and Harley Quinn all seem to revel in their villainy, while Chato seems reluctant to even talk about it. He thinks of himself as a monster and attempts to control himself which is a direct contrast to, say, Harley’s defense of stealing from a department store: “We’re bad guys, it’s what we do.”

So, I was stoked when I realized that Jai Nitz, the creator of my anti-hero, would be at the very convention I was reporting on. This was my second year at DragonCon, and any of my loyal readers (thanks mom and dad!) would remember that last year I accidentally interviewed Nolan North, the voice of Deadpool and Desmond Miles from Assassin’s Creed. This year, however, I got an agreed interview that wasn’t illegal! Jai Nitz is what anyone would imagine the creator of a Latino Robin Hood would be… badass, intelligent, willing to sell all his stuff for $100. (These are all jokes, please don’t sue me). Reader beware, spoilers and ruined headcanons await!

How did you come up with the idea of Chato?

Chato is not a real name, it actually means butch, thick, beefy. The idea is that he would have had a real name at some point, it would have been Jaime or Guadalupe or something. He was always a big guy, so everyone would call him Chato. That was after my dad. They called my dad butch because there were seven kids in his grade with the same name as him. Everyone was called a nickname instead of just “Jerry.” That was kind of a nod to my dad, and the idea of who Chato was came from my cousin, Jaime. He’s my age, growing up close to the border in a culture that is 95% Hispanic. Drugs and human trafficking are not a thing on the news, they are a way of life. There are people who are dealing drugs and moving humans. They are not villains, they are Robin Hoods. They are sticking it to the man, instead of doing this nefarious, horrible crime to be on television, that’s not who they are. Not that my cousin is doing that, but I saw him in a situation where he was dealing with a lot of different stuff than I did. What would I have been if I had been in the same situation? In East Los Angeles where Chato was from, it is very much the same thing. There are neighborhoods that are closed off to the police because in 1992 only 10% of the Los Angeles police force was Latino. Today it’s 60%. Then, no one spoke Spanish. No one knew what to do if you got stuck in a Spanish speaking neighborhood. David Ayer, the director of Suicide Squad, his movie, End of Watch, is about a lot of that. It’s a lot about dealing with a culture that is alien to your own, and in the original El Diablo series, he was a gang lord. He was the Robin Hood of his neighborhood. He was the guy you would go to if you had a local problem that the police wouldn’t help you with. It was trying to show that just because you commit crimes doesn’t make you a bad guy, and just because you do bad stuff doesn’t make you a villain, and just because you save people doesn’t make you a hero. It was very much blurring the lines and I don’t think anybody was ready for that when I wrote it.

I think I fell in love with him when I first saw him.

If you meet Jay [Hernandez, actor for Chato in Suicide Squad] in real life, you will fall in love again because he is stupid good-looking.

How did you get your start in comics?

I got my start by self-publishing right out of college. As a new writer, the best way to make it in comics was to make your own comics. So I wrote my own comics and I found artists to work with. That was on the creative side, then you had to put on your business hat and you had to learn to make the files available to a printer, how to send them to be scanned by a scanning place because you didn’t have a scanner big enough, how to get those books printed and distributed, how to take them to conventions and sell them. Then that was my business card. I handed that out and said “please hire me.” It’s much easier for an editor to read a comic book than it is to read an idea on a piece of paper. Then once they trust you, they will read your ideas, but not until they believe in you as a writer. The best way to make them believe in you as a writer is to show something that you’ve written. If you want to write a comic book then write a comic book to hand out. So that’s what I did and I did it every couple of years until I finally started getting regular work. After about eleven years of trying, self-publishing, doing independant stuff, I got enough work at big publishers to go full-time freelance.

Did El Diablo actually die at the end of the movie?

He can’t die. HE CAN’T DIE! His powers dictate that the devil that possesses him. This is explained in the first series, and in the new series it is explained that, every time he dies, the devil just brings him back and takes more of his soul, so he gets more evil each time he dies. I was explaining this to David Ayer at the premiere of the movie. We were walking out of the movie, and he said, “How do we bring him back?” and I said, “You don’t have to. He can’t die. Every time he dies, the devil takes more of his soul and brings him back, so he comes back more evil, so if people like him in this movie, the next time he comes back, he’ll be worse, and the next time he comes back, he’ll be even worse. In your movie continuity, he says, ‘I was born with the devil’s gift,’ and the idea is that he was stillborn and the devil took him then, and every time he has died since then, the devil has taken more of his soul as he has brought him back every time.’”

If he drinks alcohol, will he just explode?

Not at all. His powers are magical in nature, which is the other reason you can just bring him back, because there is no science in how he throws fire, just as there is no science in how [Captain Boomerang] throws a boomerang, there is no science in how [Slipknot] uses ropes to climb stuff, there is no science in how [Deadshot] is the best shot in the world. He is made of demonic magical fire.

The reason I ask is because there is a deleted scene in the bar where Harley asks everyone what they want, he says, “Water,” and she says, “That’s a good idea, honey.”

That was definitely a great character moment. That was that character recognizing, “Me losing control is not good for anybody.” Because he knows what’s inside him, even though no one else does. The other thing is, it’s not really in the movie universe, but it would be the kind of thing I would explore. Nobody really believes him. Nobody really believes that there is a devil inside him. There are people who can fly, there are people who dress up like bats, there are people with magic power rings, but nobody believes he is possessed, and then you see it, and it’s a different animal.

I like how, in the movie, the other characters are afraid of him.

There’s a lot of really good subtle storytelling in the film that gets lost. They had re-shoots, and they had to change this, and they had to move scenes around, and stuff like that, to where there is some stuff that makes no sense. I’ve seen the movie so many times it isn’t funny. But then there is some stuff that is subtle like that, where even Deadshot realizes, this guy could kill us aaaaaaall. And nobody pays attention until it comes to that.

What are you working on next?

I’m working on a book called Suicide Squad Black that has El Diablo as the leader of a Suicide Squad team. It was supposed to come out last month, but it’s been delayed, so hopefully it will come out in 2018.


Going into this interview, I was expecting just to talk about comics, not to get a lecture on race relations and the social economics of East Los Angeles. But I’m glad Jai discussed those topics. I admire how he puts his background in his work. It helps him maintain his passion, which was evident when I talked to him.

And I’m definitely buying Suicide Squad Black when it comes out. Who’s with me?


Jai with a really cool El Diablo cosplayer


Cover of El Diablo #1 (2008)

Early Bird Rates Extended for Planet Comicon Kansas City 2017

Press Release:

Early bird pricing EXTENDED for Planet Comicon Kansas City! Purchase NOW for the best price of the year!

This year, Planet Comicon Kansas City promises to deliver an incredible list of comic creators, special guests, and an entire universe of cosplay, collectibles, and interactive fun…not to mention a full slate of panels and demos for adoring aficionados, aspiring artists, and curious collectors of all ages. Planet Comicon Kansas City has grown to be one of the top 25 pop culture and comic book events in the country by attendance and you do not want to miss one minute.

ACT NOW to take advantage of early bird pricing for a 20% discount on Friday and Sunday single day, adult and youth admissions.

Deadline for purchase at this special pricing has been EXTENDED to November 20, 2017. You will not see a better deal. And don’t forget that Planet Comicon Kansas City is your best value for the entire family – children 7 years old and under are free!

Special guests! Comic creators! The excitement is building!

We’re thrilled to announce the addition of celebrated comic creators Megan Levens (Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Star Trek, Spell on Wheels), Jai Nitz (Co-Creator Suicide Squad’s El Diablo, Co-Creator Dream Thief), Geof Darrow (Shaolin Cowboy, The Big Guy and Rusty the Robot Boy, Hard Boiled), and Kyle Strahm (Spread, Downfall, Octane Bloodstain). They will be joining an ever-growing list of celebrities, fellow comic creators, and cosplayers coming to Planet Comicon Kansas City in 2018!

Currently scheduled to appear include:

  • Jason Aaron Scalped, Star Wars, Southern Bastards, Thor
  • CW Cooke Solitary, Stillwater
  • Abby Darkstar Cosplayer & Gamer
  • Amy “Lita” Dumas WWE Hall of Fame
  • Chad Hardin Harley Quinn, Temerity
  • Ryan Hurst Sons of Anarchy, Outsiders, Bates Motel
  • Amy Jo Johnson Power Rangers, Felicity
  • Jae Lee Inhumans, Dark Tower, Batman/Superman
  • Charles Martinet Voice of Mario and Luigi
  • B. Clay Moore Hawaiian Dick, the Whistling Skull, Savage, Endless Summer
  • Michael Rooker The Walking Dead, Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Sean Schemmel Dragon Ball Z
  • Mark Sheppard Supernatural, Battlestar Galactica, Warehouse 13, Firefly
  • Sting WWE Hall of Fame
  • Trish Stratus WWE Hall of Fame
  • Freddie E. Williams II Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, He-Man/Thundercats Series

Many more creator and celebrity guests will be attending the show. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter or stay tuned to our website each week for more guest announcements.

KS – TMNT Co-Creator Signings


Kevin Eastman, the legendary co-creator of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, comes to Lawrence for a day filled with fun activities for the whole family on Saturday August 27, 2016!

It all kicks off at 10:00am at the Lawrence Public Library for a FREE, kids only workshop. He’ll talk about how to create your own comic, finding inspiration, character creation and tips on how to draw in your own style. Kids are welcome to come in costume and bring their own drawing pads.

Later he will be at Boom Comics celebrating their one year anniversary. Starting at 2:30 Kevin will be signing autographs and memorabilia. Tickets for this event are $30 and include three signatures per person. Tickets are limited, and will go on sale August 15th at Boom.

Also appearing at Boom are comic creators Ande Parks, Jai Nitz, Chris Grine, Greg Smallwood, Kyle Strahm, and Buster Moody!

RSVP on Facebook!

BOOM Comics
2429 Iowa Street, Lawrence, Kansas 66046
(785) 856-2709

Lawrence Public Library
707 Vermont St, Lawrence, KS 66044

IL – Michael Moreci Signing


Writer MICHAEL MORECI appears at Defiant Comics on Wednesday, August 17, 2016 from 4:00 – 8:00 PM. He’ll be signing copies of his TWO new number one issues: SUICIDE SQUAD MOST WANTED: EL DIABLO & BOOMERANG #1 and REINCARNATE #1!

Suicide Squad (soon to be a major motion picture!) follows Boomerang and the Squad as they embark on a mission to take down a ruthless dictator within a small, unstable Central American nation, but when the mission goes awry, the Squad must jump in a helicopter and flee as all hell breaks loose. But amid the chaos, the team realizes one of them was accidentally left behind: Boomerang! How can he stay alive long enough to be rescued when a whole army wants him dead?

ReincarNate (soon to be a major television series!) focuses on down-on-his-luck private eye Nate McCoy. After being shot in the head during an investigation, Nate gains the ability to interact with versions of himself from past lives: Jameson, a wild west lawman, and Alan, a contract killer from the 1960s. With their help, Nate takes on the dangerous underworld, crooked cops, and scumbags, including El Panda, a criminal heavyweight who may have been responsible for the murder of his father.

RSVP on Facebook!

Defiant Comics
7234 Madison Street, Forest Park, IL 60130
(708) 771-3339

DC Announces SDCC 2016 Details

000000000000000-JUSTL_Cv1_ConVarPress Release:

DC Entertainment is pulling out all the stops in 2016 to make Comic-Con International: San Diego an event to remember for the multitude of fans attending July 20-24. The greatest Super Heroes and Super-Villains in comics and pop culture, the hottest artists and writers, exciting events and panels along with some of the most popular movie stars in Hollywood will all combine to make the DC booth (#1915) the place to be every day of the convention.

Comic-Con International: San Diego 2016 will be the launch pad for a yearlong celebration of DC’s famed Amazonian Super Hero. DC celebrates the 75th anniversary of Wonder Woman with a variety of activities commemorating her iconic evolution on and off the page. On Saturday, July 23 from 3:00 – 4:00pm in Room 6DE, fans will be treated to some of the creative talent at the heart of Wonder Woman’s past, present and future, along with a few surprise guests at the “Wonder Woman 75” panel.

Rare Wonder Woman costumes and props will be on display in the booth, including the original costume worn by Lynda Carter in the 1970s “Wonder Woman” television series as well as the costume donned by star Gal Gadot in the upcoming “Wonder Woman” 2017 feature film. Wonder Woman herself, Gal Gadot, will accompany her co-stars Chris Pine (Capt. Steve Trevor) and Connie Nielsen (Queen Hippolyta) to the DC booth for an autograph session, Saturday from 12:15 to 1:00pm. Wristbands for the Wonder Woman cast signing will be extremely limited and will be distributed beginning at 6am Saturday morning at the Sails Pavilion with the WB queue via lottery.

The excitement surrounding Wonder Woman’s 75th isn’t just limited to the show floor. Beginning Wednesday evening, fans will also have a one-of-a-kind opportunity to take a photo in the cockpit of Wonder Woman’s iconic invisible jet, located on the corner of Island and 6th, just outside the San Diego Convention Center in the Gaslamp district. Illuminating at night, this unique experience will also feature larger-than-life Wonder Woman art pieces being created live onsite, with art inspired by her history and upcoming film, by female artists throughout the weekend.

For fans that like to root for the bad guys, the “Worst Heroes Ever” will be in full effect at Comic-Con with a host of “Suicide Squad”-related activities. Throughout the weekend, the DC booth will feature costumes and props from the movie, in theaters August 5th. Comic fans will get a big dose of Suicide Squad, courtesy of the DC – Suicide Squad: Most Wanted panel on Friday from 11:15am-12:15pm in Room 6DE. The Harley Quinn team of Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner will be joined by artist Mauricet (HARLEY AND HER GANG OF HARLEYS), along with writer Rob Williams and legendary artist Jim Lee, the team bringing fans new adventures of these villains-turned-heroes in SUICIDE SQUAD: REBIRTH, on sale August 3rd.

000000000000000-DK3On Saturday, fans will be lining up early to make sure they meet and get autographs from the cast of “Suicide Squad” when they make their appearance at the DC booth from 1:15 – 2:00pm. Cast members will include: Margot Robbie (Harley Quinn), Will Smith (Deadshot), Jared Leto (The Joker), Joel Kinnaman (Col. Rick Flag), Viola Davis (Amanda Waller), Jai Courtney (Captain Boomerang), Jay Hernandez (El Diablo), Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Killer Croc), Scott Eastwood (Lieutenant GQ Edwards), Cara Delvingne (Enchantress),  Adam Beach (Slipknot) and Karen Fukuhara (Katana). As with the “Wonder Woman” cast signing, wristbands will be extremely limited; they will be distributed Saturday morning beginning at 6am at the Sails Pavilion with the WB queue via lottery system.

Scheduled nearly every hour of the Con, the DC booth will also host an array of appearances and autograph sessions for some of the best artists and writers in comics including, but not limited to, Scott Snyder (ALL STAR BATMAN, AMERICAN VAMPIRE), Tom King (BATMAN, SHERIFF OF BABYLON), Liam Sharp and Nicola Scott (WONDER WOMAN), Peter Tomasi and Pat Gleason (SUPERMAN), Hope Larson and Rafael Albuquerque (BATGIRL), Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti (HARLEY QUINN), Julie and Shawna Benson (BATGIRL AND THE BIRDS OF PREY) and Dan Jurgens (ACTION COMICS, BATMAN BEYOND).

Ever wanted to “Be The Batman?” Then come to the DC booth for a hands-on demo of “Batman: Arkham VR,” the first virtual reality experience that allows players to put on the cape and cowl of Gotham’s Dark Knight like never before. From Rocksteady Studios, “Batman: Arkham VR” immerses players into the gritty world of Gotham City through the eyes of the World’s Greatest Detective. And if that’s not enough Batman, the booth with also feature a life-sized LEGO Batman statue. Demos for Batman: Arkham VR will also require wristbands, available at the Sails Pavilion beginning Thursday at 6am.

For fans of DC Super Hero Girls, it’s time once again to “Get Your Cape On” and mingle with the young heroes from “Super Hero High” in real life! The DC Super Hero Girls will be on hand to pose for pictures and give autographs to fans throughout the weekend. DC Super Hero Girls character Katana will also dazzle fans in the booth with her exhibitions of expert swordplay. Following the success of the New York Times best-selling original graphic novel DC SUPER HERO GIRLS: FINALS CRISIS, the heroes return in the upcoming original graphic novel DC SUPER HERO GIRLS Vol. 2: HITS & MYTHS and the original animated direct-to-DVD movie DC SUPER HERO GIRLS: HERO OF THE YEAR.

Any self respecting fan knows that no comic book convention is complete without cosplay, and the DC booth is the go-to spot for some awesome cosplay get-togethers every single day:

  • Thursday, July 21, 2:30pm – DC Comics Bombshells cosplay celebration
  • Friday, July 22, 5pm – Suicide Squad “Squad Up” cosplay celebration
    • Location: Island and 6th Avenue, near Invisible Jet display
  • Saturday, July 23, 5:00pm – Wonder Woman cosplay contest
  • Sunday, July 24, 2:30pm – DC Super Hero Girls cosplay contest

All cosplayers who attend will be awarded a special custom DC Fans medal for participating (while supplies last).

The DC booth will also include a green screen where fans pose in backgrounds from their favorite DC comic characters, films and games, including the Suicide Squad movie, the Wonder Woman comic, DC REBIRTH, DC Super Hero Girls and the Injustice video game.

Fans will also be treated to a series of must-attend panels spotlighting DC’s iconic characters, and sneak peeks of yet-to-be released series. Highlights include:

  • Fans jaws are still agape and minds blown from the biggest comics event of 2016: DC’s linewide REBIRTH relaunch! Join moderators Dan DiDio and Jim Lee along with some of the industry’s most creative talent to see what’s to come! (Saturday – 5:30, Room 6DE).
  • Presented as “Comics for Dangerous Humans,” dive into the disruptive new pop-up imprint from My Chemical Romance front man and Eisner Award-winning writer Gerard Way, DC’s YOUNG ANIMAL. Joined by an experimental group of collaborators, Way will unleash a collection of bold new stories that will take the medium to places never before seen (Friday – 5:30, Room 5AB).
  • After more than 75 years of stories, the Batman family of comics has never been hotter! Join the DC talent behind your favorite Dark Knight tales for an exclusive look at what’s next for the World’s Greatest Detective and his crime fighting colleagues! With Tom King (BATMAN), Scott Snyder (ALL STAR BATMAN), Julie and Shawna Benson (BATGIRL AND THE BIRDS OF PREY) and James Tynion IV (DETECTIVE COMICS) among others, this is the best time to explore the gritty streets of Gotham City! Room: 6DE
  • Be there as top talent from the genre-defying Vertigo imprint such as SUICIDERS: KINGS OF HELL.A. writer/artist Lee Bermejo, LUCIFER artist Lee Garbett and SHERIFF OF BABYLON writer Tom King discuss what’s to come in their current series (Thursday – 4:30, Room 8).
  • Always the most hilarious panel at the Con, the MAD Magazine panel led by longtime editor John Ficarra and his “Usual Gang Of Idiots” including longtime artist Sergio Aragones and GOODNIGHT BATCAVE artist Tom Richmond will be one not to miss (Thursday – 6:00, Room 5AB).
  • Highlighted by stunning new Wonder Woman 75th anniversary figures, the DC Collectibles panel will unveil their latest line of action figures, statues, props and more (Thursday – 10:00, Room 9).
  • The Graphitti Designs booth #2314 will also once again carry highly collectible, exclusive variant comic books available for SDCC attendees only. All titles will be on sale beginning Wednesday Preview Night, July 20. DARK KNIGHT III: THE MASTER RACE #5 features an exclusive cover from BATGIRL artist Rafael Albuquerque and sells for $15 and is limited to two (2) copies per customer. Additional variants include BATMAN #1, WONDER WOMAN #1, and SUPERMAN #1 featuring art by Jim Lee and imprinted on silver foil, each selling for $10. JUSTICE LEAGUE #1 also receives the exclusive convention variant treatment, featuring cover art by Tony Daniel imprinted on silver foil and selling for $10.

Download the new DC All Access mobile app for a complete list of panels, behind-the-scenes coverage and in-depth interviews directly from DC’s web series, “DC All Access.” The app is available for free at the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store.

Squad Up! Suicide Squad Cosplay Contest


Press Release:

The Squad Up! Suicide Squad Cosplay Contest launches today from DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. and invites you to cosplay as your favorite squad member for a chance to win a trip to San Diego this July for Comic-Con International. Have you always wanted to build a Deadshot mask? Is Harley Quinn your spirit animal? Got a purple alligator-skinned coat in the back of your closet that you’ve been wondering what to do with? Then this contest is for you!

Here’s how it works:

  • Assemble a costume based on the look of any of the following characters from Warner Bros.’s upcoming Suicide Squad film: Deadshot, The Joker, Harley Quinn, Colonel Rick Flag, Amanda Waller, Captain Boomerang, El Diablo, Killer Croc, Enchantress, Slipknot, and Katana.
  • Take a photo of yourself wearing your costume. Make sure it’s a good quality photo that really shows off your costume!
  • Enter using one of the three methods of entry listed here.

You can find the full list of rules and conditions here. Trust us, you’ll want to check them out. After the entry period, fans will be able to vote in two separate rounds and help us choose finalists in each of the character categories. Once we have our finalists, eleven different winners—one for each character—will be chosen.

We expect some heavy competition, but don’t worry, we’re here to help. At the link are some tips, as well as a gallery of characters to help with your costumes. Click on the photos to zoom in on them.