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Free Comic Book Day!

Hey gang!  It’s that time of year again…warm weather, summer blockbusters, grilling, and of course, free comics.  This upcoming weekend not only sees the release the of the highly-anticipated sequel Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, but Saturday is Free Comic Book Day 2015, an annual celebration where you can go to any Local Comic Shop and choose from dozens of funny books printed exclusively for the event. And did I mention they’re free?

And if you happen to be in the Kansas City area this weekend, come visit Elite Comics where there will be a dozen or more artists and creators on-hand to promote their own work, including yours truly!  I’ll be there from 10am to 5, where I’ll be taking commissions, selling prints, custom sketch cards and bookmarks. I’m also bringing several Avenger-themed sketch covers which will be available for commissions, including All-New Hawkeye, Captain America, and Age of Ultron #1!
I’ll even have a new print to commemorate a much-hyped scene from the new movie, available exclusively for the event!
Hulkbuster_Hulk 001
Of course, you should consider supporting your local businesses by actually making a purchase or two as well and there will be plenty of options at either of these great Topeka locations: Gatekeeper Hobbies, Vintage Stock, or Boom! Comics.
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ITEM: Upcoming Event at Oddfellow’s

Hey again, internet-using people!

Feels like I was just posting about Planet Comicon and here i am again promoting my next appearance.  This Friday (in two days, holy crap!), I’ll be at attending my very first First Friday show (redundancy intended) at Oddfellow’s Fine Books Collectibles in downtown Topeka from 5 to 8:30.  They have an amazing selection of classic literature, rare first editions, modern classics, and of course, comic books.  I’ll be on hand to promote Geek Theory (which is taking a week off, sorry!) and to sell prints.  I also have a few spots open for commissions for personalized book-marks and sketch cards.
I’m also excited to debut a new series of bookmarks I designed that will be made available exclusively at Oddfellow’s!  Each one is based on a classic piece of literature (including a more modern classic) and were drawn and colored by yours truly.  See below for a sneak peek!
If you’re in the downtown area for the First Friday walk, please stop by and see us!
LOTR_bookmark 001
 “This bookmark isn’t big enough for the both of us!”
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Thank You, Planet Comicon!

Another year, another big, crazy convention.  This past weekend marked my third turn exhibiting at Overland Park’s premiere convention, Planet Comicon.  I’ve attended for years but have only just recently began attending as an artist and this year was my most successful to date (not to mention the most fun).  I met lots of great people, saw lots of old friends, and was commissioned to do lots of new art.  I even met Karen Gillen for about five seconds!

I just wanted to take a moment and thank all involved in making this year’s con a great event.  From all the people working it behind the scenes, all my friends and colleagues in Artist Alley, the great guests who inspire and entertain us all with their work, and most importantly the fans who show up and give us a reason to be there.  Also a big thanks to my wife, friends, and family who showed up to support me and occasionally bring me food and provide me much needed potty breaks.  You guys really keep me going and inspire me to do my very best, at the table and away.

This year’s convention season just started and I feel like this year’s gonna get better and better.  Next up, you can find me at my very first First Friday exhibit at Oddfellow’s Fine Books and Collectibles (http://www.oddfellowbooks.com/) where I’ll be debuting my very first series of bookmarks!  For more details on this and other upcoming events and projects, check this space again soon…

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Finally got my Hogwarts Letter!

Been a while since I used this as a blog but I figured I should.  In less than 24 hours, I’ll be escaping the dreary cold of Kansas to the beautiful (yet rainy) warmth of Florida!  This will our first vacation in over a year and the first in several years where a comic book convention will not be involved.  I’ve even agreed not to look up local comic book stores, which I always do.

Our anniversary was just under two months ago but we’re going to celebrate our anniversary.  We spent a week at Walt Disney World six years ago for our honeymoon and as I’m no longer working retail and can actually go on vacation during the holidays, we’ll be celebrating that as well.  We’ll be spending a day at Disney, while the rest of the week will be spent at Universal Studios, to which I’ve never been. Our main objective in going, however, is to experience the wonder and excitement of our favorite book series brought to life: the Wizarding World of Harry Potter!  Magic, and owls, and the threat of Dementors around every corner!

I solemnly swear that I am up to no good… :)

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Groot: Lord of the Dance

GROOT 001

Cute huh? Been dying to draw the little guy since his star-making turn in “Guardians of the Galaxy” a few months back.  I’ll have this available as a print for sale tomorrow at FreeState Comicon in Lawrence, KS at the Douglas County Fairgrounds.  I’ll also have some other new prints and I’ve got new comic book sketch covers available for commissions (including TMNT, The Walking Dead, and Avengers).

If you’re in the KC/Lawrence/Topeka area, come by and hang out. I mean, if nothing else I’ll have free candy. And who doesn’t love candy? That is free?

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Free Comic Book Day 2014!

Hey, all, I’m gonna be at Elite Comics this Saturday to celebrate Free Comic Book Day.  In addition to having copies of the Geek Theory minicomic, I’ll also be doing sketches, selling prints, custom trading cards, and will have a variety of blank sketch covers available for commissions.

Sketch_cards 001A few samples of artist trading cards

I also hear there will be cakes.  Multiple cakes.

Yeah, that got your attention, didn’t it?

So, if you’re in the Kansas City area or you feel like taking a drive, come visit Elite Comics in Overland Park and say hi!  Or at the very least, head to your local comic shop and pick up some books.  It’s an awesome day for fans and creators alike.

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This weekend’s comic book reviews

Since I read a lot of comics, I’ve decided to share my thoughts on a few I read this past weekend.  Who knows, maybe something will peak your interest?  And if you have read them, let me know!  Agree, disagree?  Feel free to comment below!

Harbinger #20 (Valiant Comics)

Harbinger has been a brilliantly weird comic since the Harbinger Wars event ended but Valiant’s flagship superhero title is finally getting into more serious territory. The story jumps around a bit from the apparently very near future back to the present where perennial villain Toyo Harada is still on the hunt for new psiots to join his foundation, while also searching for former protégé Peter Stanchek and his “Renegades.” Peter and the team get very little screen-time, as this issue deals almost entirely with Harada and the fallout from his “mind squall” in the previous storyarc.  We’re also introduced to a new psiot in the form of @X (no, not a misspelling), who seems poised to take on a much bigger role as the series continues. While it falls under the banner of “Must-Read Valiant”, and it is the start to a new arc, a basic understanding of the series almost seems essential to the book’s enjoyment. A lot has happened with these characters of late and this issue in particular, while good, hardly seems like a good starting point for new readers.

Joshua Dysart’s writing is as solid as ever and his handling of Harada demonstrates why the powerful businessman is one of the most formidable and complex villains in comics right now. Art duties are handled by Harbinger Wars’ own Clayton Henry and his work is just plain brilliant. Seriously, the man is a beast and the Valiant universe is lucky to have him. The coloring by Brian Reber is fantastic and really makes the book look and feel fantastic.

While hardly a good jumping-on point, if you’re a fan of the Valiant Universe or you’re just looking for a different take on superheroes, Harbinger is a book worth trying. And if the solicits are any indication, crazy stuff is about to go down very, very soon.

Score: 7.5

High Crimes #1 (Monkeybrain Comics)

High Crimes by Christopher Sebela, with art by Ibrahim Moustafa, is a mystery, yet not in the traditional sense. See, there’s a lot going on in this book and the real mystery is how it all ties together. It’s also very weird. The discovery of a dead body in the snow is just the start as we’re introduced to a down-on-her-luck former snowboarder who now works with a private investigator (like I said, it’s weird) and the pursuit of a possible murderer who is also the target of what appears to be a clandestine black-ops team run by a trigger-happy individual that makes “Thunderbolt” Ross look positively rational. The premise is intriguing and there is enough going on to keep this reader clamoring for the next chapter.

Score: 8.0

She-Hulk  #1 (Marvel Comics)

She-Hulk has been the source of many unique takes on super-heroics. Her Sensational series broke the fourth wall and gave the jade giant a self-deprecating sense of humor. Her previous series played like a David E Kelley joint, with a satirical bent, a quirky supporting cast, and a willingness to show heroes and villains in a procedural light. This time around the emphasis is more on lawyering and it certainly “serves” the character well, terrible pun intended.

When not writing half the books on the stands, writer Charles Soule is a practicing lawyer, so he knows his stuff and uses it to his advantage. This is a smartly written book that doesn’t skimp on the humor. Soule writes Jen as a smart, sassy woman who is only too happy to demonstrate her wit and intelligence but still isn’t afraid to go all “Hulk smash” if the opportunity arises. Jen is also gorgeous to boot, thanks to the amazing work of Javier Pulido, whose attention to detail and innovative layouts makes this book as fun to look at as it is to read. Muntsa Vicente’s colors shine as well, delivering a beautiful palette that brings every page to vibrant life.

If you’re a fan of more character-driven books like Hawkeye, or you just like your superheroes using terms like “litigation” and “counter-suit”, She-Hulk deserves a place on your pull-list.

Score: 9.0

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Old School Comic Reviews: Punisher 2099 #1

Ah, the 90’s.

If you were a comics fan during this decade, chances are you picked up something that was just overflowing with testosterone, whether it be big guns, big boobs, or tiny, tiny waists and ankles.  If you don’t know what that means, I refer you to the amazing works of Rob Lifeld.  Comics in the 90s were like action films of…well, the 90’s: big, boisterous, super-violent and without a single trace of logic.  Good times.

In 1992, Marvel Comics published an imprint dubbed Marvel 2099, which featured futuristic takes on a number of their most popular properties: Spider-Man, Hulk, the X-Men, and even Dr. Doom received the 2099 treatment.  And so, of course, did the Punisher.  This Punisher, despite the resemblance, is not Frank Castle, who is long dead and gone as we learn late into the issue.  This ‘roid-infused vigilante is Jake Gallows, a cop whose family is gunned down in front of him (even in the future, origins are derivative) and when their murderer is allowed to walk, decides to take matters into his own hands.

File:Punisher2099.jpg

The story doesn’t take every cue from Castle’s origin but it may have benefitted from making the “hero’s” loss more tragic.  Rather than losing his wife and children, Gallows sees his mom, brother, and sister-in-law killed before his very eyes.  Not that it isn’t tragic but it just seems like there could have been a greater emotional connection to the character had his loss been greater.  The ways in which the characters are dispatched are weird; books under the Comic’s Code Authority were not allowed to show much, if any blood, and violence was much more subdued back then.  One of the characters is blasted by a weapon that seems to hypnotize the character, while simultaneously blowing them to pieces. Or something. It’s weird.

The story, by Pat Mills and Tony Skinner, is fairly one-note: it starts by showing the Punisher in action, brandishing some ridiculous but pretty rad weaponry, before delving into flashbacks to show how he came to be.  They present their protagonist as basically Frank Castle but in the future and with crazy armor.  He also seems to be pretty much on his own; no mention of superheroes apart from the fact that his family are members of the Church of Thor.  Yep, Thor has his own church because that’s how Gods work.  Tom Morgan’s very dated art doesn’t fare much better as it’s all typically 90’s: every single character looks like an extra from a Van Damme movie, while Gallows looks exactly like his predecessor, with little to set the two apart.  It’s also interesting to note the giant skull emblazoned on his entire torso, with the teeth coming to rest seemingly as armor on his crotch.

Gallow’s decent into becoming an anti-hero is not without merit and certainly when we discover, through one final flashback, that Gallows has in his possession Frank Castle’s War Journal, his transformation is complete, if not a little formulaic.  In the last page of the journal, Castle beckons the reader to “carry on [his] work.”  Gallows certainly does and while it’s entertaining, he’s not your daddy’s Punisher.  And ultimately, that’s a shame.

In the book’s defense, that might just be the best line ever written.