Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
Comics, animation and video games, all on the same platform, all offered for free: That’s the vision Alex Simmons has for his new digital service, the Arthawk Entertainment Online Network (AEON). He’s running a Kickstarter campaign to get the service off the ground, and he already has plans to go beyond that.
Simmons is a veteran comics writer whose credits include Archie Comics (he won a Glyph Award for his story “The Cartoon Life of Chuck Clayton”), Scooby-Doo and his own creator-owned series, Blackjack. He writes in a variety of other formats as well, including creating interactive mystery stories for the Tiger Toys video game, and he runs the annual Kids’ Comic Con in the Bronx. A few years ago he put together an art exhibit, “The Color of Comics,” that traveled as far away as Senegal.
The AEON is an ambitious project. Artist Derrick A. Richardson, who has done work for DC and Marvel, is the CEO, and Simmons and Richardson have put together a team of animation, creative and technical consultants to build the platform. All this costs money, and they set the goal of the Kickstarter at $100,000. I talked with Simmons about the thinking behind the platform and what the next steps will be.
Conventions | The University of Calgary’s student newspaper looks at the rapid growth of the Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo, and the problems that go with it: Last year, ticket holders had to be turned away because the event was over capacity. “Last year it was really a shame that people had so much trouble,” says Lyndsay Peters, owner of Dragon Chow Dice Bags. “We saw a lot of frustrated customers and we talked to a lot of frustrated people. I know there are some people who won’t be coming back this year. But everything we have been told as vendors and everything that has been communicated to us shows that they are taking it very seriously this year.” This year’s convention will be held April 26-28. [The Gauntlet]
Awards | The jury has been announced for the Doug Wright Awards. [Doug Wright Awards Blog]
Conventions | Comic-Con International organizers have issued a statement regarding the technical problems many experienced Saturday while attempting to purchase badges for this year’s event: “Comic-Con badge sales opened this past Saturday and while the allotted badges were processed there was clearly an issue with some customers experiencing a frozen screen. We, along with Epic registration, are in the process of investigating this and hope to have an answer as to what occurred. Please know that we take this issue very seriously and offer our sincere apology for those who found themselves in this predicament. Thank you for your understanding in what we know was a very difficult experience for many.” Badges sold out in a little more than 90 minutes. [Comic-Con International]
My friendship and association with Alex Segura dates back to late 2004 when he invited me to join Robot 6‘s ancestor blog (or however you want to call its relation) The Great Curve. I wear my bias on my sleeve for this interview–I’ve always been a supporter of Segura’s work–be it years at DC Comics, or more recently, his current role as Executive Director of Publicity and Marketing at Archie Comics. In addition to discussing what he’s accomplished to date at Archie (and hopes to achieve in the near to long term), we delve into his own writing and musical pursuits (in the band, The Faulkner Detectives).
Tim O’Shea: Before your first stint with Archie a few years back, you worked at Wizard. So I gotta ask, what’s your reaction to the end of the print magazine?
Alex Segura: On a gut level, it’s sad. Wizard was a big part of my getting into comics – or at least, sticking with them – in middle school and into college. There were times when I wasn’t actively buying any regular comic books but would still pick up Wizard to keep tabs on the industry. Working there was also huge. It was my first full-time job in the industry and gave me a crash course in comics and how they work. I also met some of my best friends there – many of whom I still talk to on a regular basis. Hell, I live with Ryan Penagos, who I first met at Wizard. So, yeah. I have a lot of fond memories of both my time at the company and my relationship with the magazine leading up to that.
Professionally, I’m not all that surprised. There was a time when Wizard was a major tastemaker – they had a big part in the rise of Image and for a long while broke major news from the Big Two. But with the rise of comic news on the web, it just seemed like they got left behind. Hopefully this new incarnation can revive the company. We’ll see.
Not yet, but they can make you laugh while you’re waiting for chemo.
Alex Simmons always has a couple of things going on. In addition to his work for Archie Comics (he wrote their big crossover event last year), he runs the annual Kids Comic Con in the Bronx, and last December he brought his Color of Comics traveling exhibit to Dakar, Senegal.
Now Simmons has found a new place for comics: a cancer center. Lenox Hill Hospital’s Institute for Comprehensive Breast Care, to be precise. As Simmons says in a press release sent out yesterday:
Breast cancer effects women of all ages and races, and unfortunately, uniformly inflicts terror in those that have to face the disease head- on. Quite often children find themselves facing that fear with their mothers, some times sitting in the waiting area while she meets with a doctor.
Hospitals, as anyone who has waited in one knows, can be kind of grim. Alex wants to give everyone something to smile about, so he’s planning a permanent exhibit of comics images on the walls of the center to cheer up the kids and their moms. He’s looking for artists who are willing to donate original comics art or digital images that can be blown up and put on the walls. Artists who are interested in participating can find his contact info through his website.