TX – Punisher #1 Signing

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Writer Becky Cloonan (Gotham Academy, Killjoys, Southern Cross) appears at Austin Books & Comics on Wednesday, May 4, 2016 at 5:00 PM to sign PUNISHER #1!

RSVP on Facebook!

Austin Books & Comics
5002 N. Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78751
(512) 454-4197

Ichibancon 2016 Convention Report (With Vic Mignogna Interview!)

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A few years ago, when I was still in high school, a person who liked anime was made fun of for it. My school had a manga/book club, and the entire group was often ridiculed by jocks who wouldn’t know good writing if it were mixed in their protein shakes. Despite this, I grew to love the art form, and when I learned that there were whole conventions devoted to it, I begged my dad to take me to one. Surprisingly, he agreed.

Anime conventions were smaller then, including my first, Ichibancon 2012, which was held at a tiny hotel in Charlotte, NC. I originally went with two friends to meet none other than Vic Mignogna, who was–and remains to this day–my favorite voice actor. We stood in his autograph line for about 30 minutes, and when I finally got to his table, I said “Hi” in a talking-to-your-crush-for-the-first-time voice.

Now, five years later, I’m still going to that same convention. It was held this year over New Year’s Day weekend at Embassy Suites Hotel in Concord. Comparing this year’s Ichibancon to the one in 2012 is like comparing the inside of the TARDIS to the inside of my closet. Over 5,000 attendees pre-registered this year, which doesn’t include those who bought a badge on-site. I don’t think 5,000 people even knew about it in in 2012. The cosplayers were awesome. I saw anime, Marvel, and DC characters, plus assorted Pokemon and pop culture figures (the guy dressed as John Cena was meme-tastic). One group of cosplayers was from Undertale, a video game that just came out, which was impressive in its immediacy and quality. Dozens of panels were scheduled on just about any nerdy topic you could imagine, even for Homestuck, the webcomic created in 2009 by Andrew Hussie. The gamers had their own room: dozens of PlayStations and Nintendos (and I don’t mean Nintendogs) projected onto the walls. There was even a TARDIS bouncy house for all the children. I didn’t see the cosplay contest, but I’m sure it was fabulous, especially since, for the first year, a $500 prize was available for first place (this would probably cover the cost of half an automail leg).

Speaking of automail, I got a chance to talk to my five-years-ago idol, Vic Mignogna. Vic is the Johnny Depp of anime. Other voice actors were there, including several members of the cast of Durarara!! (Saki Mikajima, Kasuka Heiwajima, Seiji Yagiri, and Saburo Togusa), whom you don’t see often. But Vic was clearly the biggest draw: one girl came all the way from New Jersey to meet him.

After seeing him a dozen or more times over the years, I felt more relaxed than that initial time. Here is what we discussed.

Me: As Edward Elric, you’re very emotional and over the top. Then you recently switched to playing Kasuka on Durarara!! who is emotionless with a very emotional brother. What was that like?

Vic: You know, I have to tell you, I’m kind of naturally emotional and expressive with my voice. Then, when I was doing Durarara!!, started, and they asked me, can you take the emotion out of it? Can you make it flatter? I’m thinking, it’s pretty flat already. So, yeah, that was a big change.

Me: How long have you been doing conventions?

Vic: Wow. Honestly, maybe a total of thirteen years.

Me: How did you get started?

Vic: Well, I got started in voice acting sixteen or seventeen years ago, and I didn’t know anything about conventions. In fact, there weren’t any at the time. Then, a few years into my career, I saw Monica Rial, and she said to me, “Hey, do you want to go to an anime convention?” I was like, “A what? They have conventions?” I went to Star Trek conventions when I was a little boy, but I had never been to an anime convention. So I went as a guest to one in Ohio, in Columbus, and I was just blown away. I couldn’t believe that there were these wall scrolls with my characters on it and pencil boards and plushies. I had no idea this stuff existed. That was the first one I went to, and of course it ramped up since then.

Me: I’ve also seen you at conventions like DragonCon that are not strictly anime conventions. Talk about the difference between those.

Vic: Anime conventions are very special in and of themselves. There is a real strong sense of community because everybody is there because they love this one specific genre of entertainment. Multicultural, pop culture conventions are more of something for everyone. It’s nice to have an anime presence there, but they don’t typically have the same feeling, a sense of family that you get at an anime convention. I suppose it would probably be the same for any convention that pertains to one thing. If you went to a Supernatural convention, it’s a little more focused. But I enjoy pop culture conventions, mostly because I’m a big sci-fi fan myself, so it’s a real pleasure to get to meet other sci-fi actors that I’m a fan of.

Me: Who is your favorite celebrity you’ve ever met?

Vic: Oh, Bill Shatner, of course. I’ve loved Captain Kirk since I was a little boy. [Want to see Vic as a little boy? Click here.] And you know, when I was young, I used to go to Star Trek conventions, and he is the only one of the original cast I never got to meet. Now, to literally be represented by the same manager who represents Bill, we get booked into conventions together, and we’ve gotten to have dinner together and travel a little bit and hang out, so it’s a real privilege.

Me: Have you had to suppress the urge to squeal like a fangirl?

Vic: All the time. All the time. [Laughs.] I want to respect him and not turn into one of those fanboys he’s dealt with for forty years.

Me: I read on your Wikipedia page that you were once a law enforcement officer.

Vic: I was. Right after college, my mom, who lives on the eastern shore of Maryland, was very good friends with the chief of police in the city where she lived. She always used to brag to him about her son who was a moral, ethical, upstanding member of the community. And so he said, well, I’d like to have someone like that on the police force. I didn’t have any plans right after college, so I went back there and went through the police training and became a cop for two years. It was never a career move. I enjoyed it a lot, but it isn’t something I want to do forever.

Me: It takes a special person to do that job.

Vic: It does. And to deal with the darker side of humanity so much of your life, always having to enforce the laws and deal with people breaking the rules can make a person very cynical and depressed.

Me: I have a copy of your Gospel of John CD. What was the genesis [see what I did there?] of that project?

Vic: Actually, it’s kind of interesting. I was at a convention, and a mother came up to me and said, “My daughter loves your work. She could sit and listen to you for hours. She loves your voice. You could read the phone book and she would listen to it.” I thought, what a nice thing to say. Then I thought, maybe not the phone book, but what if I were to record something of more importance and give it away. So I went home and recorded the Gospel of John and used a contemporary translation and played the piano underneath it to make it easy to listen to. I put a lot of money into it myself to get all the discs pressed, and now I give it away at conventions because what better thing to give to fans of my work than something that is very precious to me?

Me: Do you have plans to do more books?

Vic: I would love to, but it takes a lot of time, and to be honest, I don’t know what book I would do. There aren’t a lot of books of the Bible that stand by themselves, that tell the whole story. If you’re gonna get one chance to tell someone the story of Jesus, why he came, what he did, his ministry, his rising again, all of that, it’s all pretty self-contained in the Gospel of John. So I don’t know what book I would do, and it’s very time-consuming. I don’t have a lot of time, especially now with the Star Trek series I’m doing.

Me: So the Star Trek series is still going well?

Vic: Oh yeah. Bigger than ever. We just finished shooting episode six. Popularity is growing, and viewership is growing. At the risk of sounding partial, it’s fantastic. It looks and feels and sounds exactly like the original series. We have managed to continue the original series in every way, so you feel like you’re watching episodes that were never broadcast.

Me: But they’re all original stories.

Vic: Oh yes. From the recreation of the sets to the lighting, costumes, make-up, story, music, editing, characters—everything. No amount of description can prepare you for the quality. And it’s free. Just go to startrekcontinues.com. The first episode is wonderful, and the second is better than the first, and the third is better than the second. They just get better and better

Me: Last question. What is it like dealing with all the fangirls who are much younger than you?

Vic: Well, it’s kind of funny because, if I were half my age, I would be flattered. But I really look at it more like a father looking at younger people and going, Man, if I can give some joy to this person, if I can make them feel special about themselves, because so many of these kids are struggling with who they are and their place in the world and their security and self-esteem. I feel as if I have been given an opportunity to be an encouragement, somebody that they look up to and notices them and compliments them and puts his arms around them and gives them a big hug and engages with them. I think that’s very important. I didn’t used to realize how important that is, and over the years, with all the emails and letters I’ve gotten and interactions I’ve had at conventions, I’ve come to realize that God has put me here for a very specific purpose, and that is to bring encouragement and love and kindness and support to a lot of people who are at a very sensitive crossroads in their lives.

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Of course, everyone has their criticisms no matter how much they enjoy something, and Ichibancon was not without flaws. For one thing, it needs a larger venue. There were lines to get into the dealer room and artist alley, and some of the panels were standing room only. Parking was ridiculous. I squeezed my car in next to a dumpster, and I saw people walking over from car dealerships and other hotels. According to one staff member, however, the only place large enough to expand to is the Charlotte Convention Center, whose surrounding hotels are much more expensive–$240 a night or more. Anime conventions are largely attended by teenagers, who don’t have much money (and spend what they do have on Call of Duty).

It was clear from artist alley and the dealer room that neither of them was “juried.” Some conventions judge vendors’ merchandise ahead of time and then make decisions on who gets a slot. This is done to make sure there is enough variety and quality in the room. Ichibancon, it seems, didn’t do this because there was a lot of repetition in both areas. Merchandise was mostly plushies, posters, and wall scrolls. There was no manga, and I saw only one dealer selling comic-related stuff (usually, there are more).

Even with all these negative things going on in the convention, that is no reason for the muggles to boycott this convention (I saw a picketer in the parking lot). In fact, I believe that this convention is the perfect one for any anime convention newbies.

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This was only part of the line to get into the dealer’s room.

I hope this doesn't mean what I think it means.

I hope this doesn’t mean what I think it means.

Even broken up bands come to conventions.

Even broken up bands come to conventions.

Don't be upsetti, have some spaghetti!

Don’t be upsetti, have some spaghetti!

My dad stole my brand new beanie.

My dad stole my brand new beanie.

Cosplaying is a lot of work!

Cosplaying is a lot of hard work!

A consequence of a growing convention is more rules.

A consequence of a growing convention is more rules.

Some cosplayers really know how to get a-head.

Some cosplayers really know how to get a-head.

Let me tell you about Homestuck.

Let me tell you about Homestuck.

Even wizards need to eat.

Even wizards need to eat.

I don't think these guys are cosplayers.

I don’t think these guys are cosplayers.

The gaming room is always packed.

The gaming room is always packed.

Wow! My TV isn't this big!

Wow! My TV isn’t this big!

Don't take "friendliness pellets" from strangers.

Don’t take “friendliness pellets” from strangers.

Every year, The Chalk Twins have something new for the silent auction.

Every year, The Chalk Twins have something new for the silent auction.

The sign said "pets are not allowed" but an exception was made for these two.

The sign said “pets are not allowed” but an exception was made for these two.

And this is why pets are not allowed.

And this is why pets are not allowed.

Who invited this guy?

Who invited this guy?

Memes. Memes everywhere.

Memes. Memes everywhere.

CA – FCBD: Stan Lee & More Signing

00000000_fcbd16-stan-leePress Release:

This year, THE COMIC BUG isn’t “doubling down” on FREE COMIC BOOK DAY, it’s TRIPLING DOWN with free comics, artists and activities happening on THREE stages to scratch your geek itch throughout the day!

STAN LEE is coming to The Comic Bug courtesy of his convention Stan Lee’s Comikaze for Free Comic Book Day! Comikaze has arranged with Stan to give 100 lucky Comic Bug fans a FREE autograph!! Raffles to be held on Free Comic Book Day! To enter to win, you must come to Free Comic Book Day at either our Culver City shop, Culver City Teen Center or our Manhattan Beach location. Winners announced at 2:00! Stan Lee will be signing at our Culver City shop at 4:00 PM.

At the CULVER CITY TEEN CENTER just a few doors down from The Comic Bug’s Culver City location, The Con Man creator/star ALAN TUDYK, PJ HAARSMA and SHANNON ERIC DENTON will be signing FREE copies of SPECTRUM #0 from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. SPECTRUM is a Free Comic Book release based on the fictional TV show that actors Tudyk and Nathan Fillion starred on prior to their stint on the con circuit on CON MAN.

SHANNON LEE, daughter of Bruce Lee, will be signing copies of BRUCE LEE: THE DRAGON RISES FCBD EDITION along with writer JEFF KLINE later in the afternoon (exact time TBD) at the Culver City event.

Back by popular demand, LOLA XOXO creator SIYA OUM will be on hand to sign copies of THE COMIC BUG’s EXCLUSIVE SIYA OUM EDITION of MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS: PINK #1.

Also appearing at the Culver City Teen Center are BRANDON EASTON, JOSHUA FIALKOV, DAN WICKLINE, MEGAN HUTCHISON, J.T. KRUL, BARBARA KESEL and many, many others. There will also be a cosplay/fantasy backdrop photo booth courtesy of PIXELBOOTH, geek speed dating games and opportunities by CUDDLI, Power Ranger photo ops courtesy of POWER MORPHICON and a chance to meet and join the two creator groups currently running at The Comic Bug, THE SKETCHY BUGS and the female-run LADYBUGS.

Meanwhile, at The Manhattan Beach locations (The Comic Bug Manhattan Beach and The Game Hub), DEADPOOL artist SCOTT KOBLISH headlines, drawing free sketches of everyone’s favorite Merc with Mouth. Koblish will be joined by ELEPHANTMEN creator and Comic Bug store logo designer RICHARD STARKINGS, D.J. KIRKBRIDE, BRIAN HABERLIN, Eisner-Award winner ANDREW ROBINSON, ERIKA ALEXANDER, TONY PURYEAR and many others. There will also be an exciting game of SKETCH FIGHTER with professional comic artists and stand-up comedians. Pictures will be auctioned off and all proceeds benefit THE HERO INITIATIVE.

KOTOBUKIYA will be on-hand at both locations with a slew of raffles and fun giveaways.

Live coverage of all three events will be handled by THAT HASHTAG SHOW. The Comic Bug is also promising food trucks, cosplayers and fun games for the entire family. In addition to the exclusive MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS: PINK RANGER exclusive by Siya Oum, The Comic Bug is releasing an exclusive BLACK PANTHER #1 with a cover by Mike McKone.

Here’s an alphabetical listing of many of the creators who will be attending our Free Comic Book Day events on May 7th! See you there!

Agnes Garbowska (My Little Pony)
Alan Tudyk (Con Man)
Alicia Hollinger (Heavy Metal Magazine)
Andrew Robinson (The Fifth Beatle)
Barbara Kesel (My Little Pony, Wonder Woman)
Brad Rader (Bob’s Burgers)
Brandon Easton (Transformers Deviations, Agent Carter)
Brian Haberlin (Faster Than Light)
Chris Brandt (Bainst)
Chris Kawagiwa (TeeFury)
Christine Hipp (LadyBugs)
Dan Wickline (Tales of Honor)
Daniel Ramirez (Repo Thief for Hire)
Dave Baker (Suicide Forest)
Dave Crosland (Invader Zim)
David Blake Lucarelli (Children’s Vampire Hunting Brigade)
DJ Kirkbride (Amelia Cole, The Bigger Bang)
Don Walker (Agent Wild)
Ethan Castillo (11 year old artist supreme!)
Erika Alexander (Concrete Park)
Flobo Boyce (Silver Streek)
Frank Mastromauro (Overtaken, Shrugged)
Hannibal Tabu (Fathom Sourcebook)
Jodi Tong (Chubbah Bunneh and the Bunny Man)
John Ercek (Justice League)
Joshua Fialkov (The Life After)
JT Krul (Green Arrow, Fathom)
Karl Altstaetter (Emerald City Blues)
Kevin Altieri (Batman: The Animated Series)
Lak Lim (Superhero artist)
Lord Mesa (Chibi artist)
Matt Jacobs (The Arcs, Faith No More)
Michael O’Hare (Flak Riot)
Michael Tanner (Junior Braves of the Apocalypse)
MOM (The LadyBugs Anthology)
Norm Rapmund (Teen Titans)
Peter Steigerwald (Zoo Hunters)
Rafael Navarro (Guns A’ Blazin’!, Sonambulo)
Ralph Miranda (Man Fighting Street)
Ray Anthony-Height (Midnight Tiger)
Richard Starkings (Elephantmen)
Ruben Gerard (Penny Strikes!)
Shannon Eric Denton (Con Man, The Revenant)
Siya Oum (Lola XOXO)
TJ Troy (Run Downhill)
Tony Puryear (Concrete Park)
Vince Hernandez (Lola XOXO, Fathom)

Coolhaus, Dogtown dogs & Burnt To A Crisp Texas Smokehouse food trucks will also be joining us to keep bellies fed! Tee No Evil – Zany Zombie Shirts, The Hero Initiative, Defective Geeks, That Hashtag Show, Cuddli, The Official Power Morphicon Convention, Sketch Fighter and many more vendors will be joining us to bring exclusive products and activities to every location! Fun for the entire family, indeed!

RSVP on Facebook!

The Comic Bug
1807 Manhattan Beach Boulevard, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
(310) 372-6704

4267 Overland Ave. Culver City, CA 90230

UK – Punisher #1 Signing

00000000_PUNISHEr1Legendary comic artist Steve Dillon will be signing the first issue of the new Punisher series at the Forbidden Planet London Megastore at 6:00pm on Wednesday 4th May.

FRANK CASTLE LOSES CONTROL! A by-the-numbers drug bust is about to take Frank Castle by surprise and he HATES surprises. The horrible fallout threatens to send The Punisher into the heart of darkness, but Castle won’t make that journey alone: A DEA agent is on his trail and attempting to get into his head but what horrors will she find there, and will she survive the experience?

Becky Cloonan and Steve Dillon are forcing Frank Castle out of his comfort zone and taking him to the edge of the world he thought he knew!

Steve Dillon began his career as an artist at the age of sixteen, contributing to Marvel UK titles. His credits include numerous stints on 2000AD and Doctor Who Comics as well as The Punisher, Animal Man, and Hellblazer and his work with Garth Ennis on the groundbreaking Preacher.

Please Note: Due to time restraints, Steve Dillon will not be sketching at this event.

Forbidden Planet London Megastore
179 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, WC2H 8JR
0207 420 3666

CA – Avengers Standoff Alpha #1 Signing

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Press Release:

World renowned comics artist ARTHUR ADAMS will be visiting Flying Colors on Saturday April 2, 2016 from 11:00 AM till 1:00 PM.

Art is the cover artist for Flying Colors exclusive edition of AVENGERS STANDOFF ALPHA #1 which features Pleasant Hill CA’s historic landmark Soldier’s Memorial Monument. This will be your best chance to get a signed copy of this special edition that is available exclusively at Flying Colors Comics in Concord CA.

His work includes X-MEN, FANTASTIC FOUR, SUPERMAN, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, MONKEYMAN & O’BRIEN, ULTIMATE X, UNIVERSAL MONSTERS, the creation of LONGSHOT and so much more.

Arthur’s work has influenced a generation of comics artists. He currently is Marvel’s “go-to guy” for iconic and fan-favorite covers.

PLEASE NOTE: Due to the limited time Art has for this signing, he will not be able to do any sketches. We will be giving priority to fans buying Art’s Flying Colors Pleasant Hill exclusive Avengers special edition. We reserve the right to limit the number of signatures on other items. Thanks for your understanding!

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Flying Colors Comics
2980 Treat Blvd (at Oak Grove Rd), Concord, CA 94518
(925) 825-5410

MD – Poe Dameron #1 Signing

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Writer CHARLES SOULE appears at Third Eye Comics on Wednesday, April 6, 2016 from 6:00 till 8:00 PM to sign copies of POE DAMERON #1 for you, along with all his other great projects like the current Marvel DAREDEVIL series, INHUMANS, and his creator-owned LETTER 44!

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Third Eye Comics
2027-A West Street, Annapolis, MD 21401
(410) 897-0322

TX – Nova Artist Signing

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Press Release:

Cory Smith, the artist on Nova from Marvel Comics, appears at Space Cadets Collection Collection on Friday, February 26, 2016 from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM! Cory is in town as the featured artist at the Montgomery County Book Festival but is making quick stop at Space Cadets!  Want to meet a Marvel Comics artist?  Want to meet the artist behind one of Marvel’s consistently best books?  Then stop on in this Friday!

CGC Signature Series Witnesses will be on hand if you need their services.

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Space Cadets Collection Collection
27326 Robinson Rd #117, Conroe, TX 77385
(281) 298-1111

NYC – DMC/Guardians of Infinity Signing

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Darryl “DMC” McDaniels of the legendary hip hop group Run DMC appears alongside his Editor-in-Chief Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez at Forbidden Planet on Wednesday, March 2, 2016 from 5:00 – 7:00 PM to sign the second issue of their comic DMC from Darryl Make Comics and Guardians of Infinity #3 featuring their Marvel Comics debut!

ABOUT DARRYL “DMC” MCDANIELS
Darryl “DMC” McDaniels is a legendary musician. For more than 30 years he’s been an undeniable influence on pop culture. He remains at the forefront of hip hop history. As a founding member of Run DMC, he is used to being an innovator. From being the first rap group to grace the cover of Rolling Stone to the first to appear on MTV, the Grammy nominated artist has changed music, culture, fashion and language. An Emmy Award winner for the VH1 documentary about his life changing discovery, “DMC: My Adoption Journey” he is the co-founder of the nonprofit, Felix Organization. DMC has been invited to the White House by President Obama to address youth groups on responsibility and he’s appeared before Congress in support of adoptees and foster children. A Rock N Roll Hall of Fame inductee as well as a celebrated author with his novel, King of Rock; Respect, Responsibility and My Life With Run-DMC, he’s also a philanthropist. Even with this long list of accomplishments and 30 million record sales later, DMC is still releasing new music as he continues to create, inspire and motivate.

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Forbidden Planet
832 Broadway, New York, NY 10003
212-473-1576

NC – Power Man & Iron Fist #1 Signing

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Artist Sanford Greene, whose work has graced the pages of comic book series including Runaways, Shaft, Wonder Girl and more, appears at Heroes Aren’t Hard To Find on Saturday, February 27, 2016 from 2:00 PM till 5:00 PM to celebrate the release of Marvel’s all-new, all-different POWER MAN & IRON FIST #1! The original Heroes For Hire are back!

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Heroes Aren’t Hard To Find
1957 E 7th Street, Charlotte, NC 28204
(704) 375-7462

MI – Gwenpool Variant Signing

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Local artist Jay Fosgitt appears at Green Brain Comics on Wednesday, March 2nd from 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM to sign copies of his Party Variant of AVENGERS STANDOFF ASSAULT ON PLEASANT HILL ALPHA #1 featuring Gwenpool!!

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Green Brain Comics
13936 Michigan Ave, Dearborn, MI 48126
313-582-9444

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