While in Baltimore to attend Baltimore Comic-Con 2013, while I had some pre-con free time on Friday, I decided to visit the pop culture museum, Geppi’s Entertainment Museum. The museum, which is just down the street from the Baltimore Convention Center at Camden Station (across from Camden Yards), is owned by Diamond Comics Distributors President/CEO Steve Geppi. A majority of the museum’s holdings are from Geppi’s private collection.
In recognition of the con this weekend, admission is half off for all Baltimore Comic Con 2013 attendees on September 7-8, 2013. What follows is a series of photos I took while visiting. The collection is vast and varied–and my cell phone camera photos do not do the 16,000-square-foot pop culture museum justice.
We’ve featured Brooklyn-based illustrator PJ McQuade before because of his frequently comics-friendly work. His latest piece, created for the MF Gallery’s 10th anniversary exhibition, is something of a show-stopper: a mash-up that seems to have struck McQuade purely because of the awesomeness of the sideburns on both Quint in Steven Spielberg’s Jaws and Wolverine. Thinking about it, it was inevitable, really. The original painting is already sold, but you can buy a print of this from McQuade’s Etsy storefront.
My favorite part of the design is the tribute to that much-missed (by some of us nostalgic old farts, anyway) feature of old Marvel comics, the corner box. This lovingly rendered image of the late great Robert Shaw is also available from McQuade’s Etsy shop, if you’d like the disembodied head of a salty old sea dog semi-permanently staring you out from the cover of your laptop/dash of your speedboat/whatever. I know I do. And now I’ve got a mysterious longing for sushi, too.
I mean, yeah, of course there is, as we live in the age where our memories of the past are preserved for us in the cloud, so it isn’t a surprise. But I’d forgotten these things even existed until they popped up in my Tumblr feed.
“Dedicated to the appreciation and preservation of the most important art form of the latter half of the 20th century: PrestoMagix,” the Tumblr in question has all sorts of package shots of various PrestoMagix “games” from the late 1970s and early 1980s, including several Marvel and DC Comics ones. If you aren’t familiar with the magic (excuse me, magix) behind these things, basically they consisted of an illustrated background and an acetate sheet of various characters, vehicles, etc. The idea was that you put the sheet on the background and rubbed the back with a pencil, so the image on the sheet transferred to the background — thus creating your own little story.
Apple.com has premiered the first trailer for Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope, the film by Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me) examining the cultural phenomenon that is Comic-Con International by following the lives of five attendees.
As you can see from the cosplay-heavy trailer below, the documentary also boasts plenty of familiar faces, including Kevin Smith, Seth Rogen, Eli Roth and Stan Lee (who, along with Joss Whedon, is one of the executive producers.
Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope opens April 6.
Throwing our lot in with “graphic novels” as the focus of the store years ago as opposed to “pop culture,” “superheroes” and associated merchandise seems to have been a winning strategy for this past decade. I don’t know if it was motivated by market insight so much as the fact I am passionate about comics as a medium but have limited personal interest in contemporary pop culture or toys, etc. With an e-book future ahead, I’m not sure if this will continue to pay off.
—Peter Birkemoe, owner of Toronto’s much-beloved comics shop The Beguiling (which is also a thriving original art dealership and co-sponsor of the Toronto Comic Art Festival), on the pros and cons of his store’s approach to the comics medium. I like the way Birkemoe frames his store’s business model as a matter of personal preference rather than a declaration that it’s the One True Path; I like the concise way he describes it, because when the decision was made it wasn’t so much brilliantly simple as riskily simple; and I’m a bit dismayed by his concerns about the digital future, which I’d never really considered as an obstacle for excellent stores like The Beguiling in quite that way before.
The quote comes from Tom Spurgeon’s holiday interview with Birkemoe, which is well worth your time in its entirety, even if only for the image of store manager and longtime blogosphere fixture Christopher Butcher being sent out into the world on various missions like the funnybook James Bond to Birkemoe’s M.
As I continue to wait patiently for word that I can put a Snoopy license plate on my car out here in California, Andy Khouri at ComicsAlliance brings word that Australians in the state of Victoria will soon be able to sport DC Comics heroes on theirs.
The character plates include Superman, Supergirl, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash and Green Lantern, and for all but the Flash, you can choose a plate that either features the hero or their associated logo. Or, in the case of Supergirl, a pink license plate. As Khouri points out, the plates will sport images taken directly from the DC Comics Style Guide circa 1982, drawn by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez and Dick Giordano, rather than the recently redesigned “New 52″ versions of the characters. They’ll become available on Nov. 30, along with several Looney Tunes plates.
Check out the plate after the jump, and for more information, visit the Vic Road Custom Plates website.
Retailing | More than 1 million customers visited participating stores on Free Comic Book Day, according to a survey conducted by Diamond Comic Distributors. More than 2.4 million of the record 2.7 million comics ordered by retailers were handed out. What’s more, nearly 54 percent of stores saw higher profits than usual for a Saturday, while more than 37 percent reported higher profits than on a typical Wednesday. [ICv2.com]
Awards | Bob Haney and Del Connell will receive the 2011 Bill Finger Award for Achievement in Comic Book Writing, established in honor of the late writer, considered the “unsung hero” of Batman. Haney, who passed away, in 2004, is best remembered as co-creator of the Doom Patrol and Metamorpho and for his work on DC titles like The Brave and the Bold, Teen Titans and Aquaman. Connell, who began his career at Disney Studios working on such animated projects as Alice in Wonderland and The Three Caballeros, became a prolific writer and, eventually, editor-in-chief at Western Publishing. He also wrote the Mickey Mouse comic strips for more than 20 years. Connell, 94, will accept his award July 22 during the Eisner Awards ceremony at Comic-Con International. [Comic-Con]
Dark Horse assistant editor Brendan Wright noticed that Mario’s, a designer clothing store in Portland, Oregon, is using art from Paul Levitz’s 75 Years of DC Comics in its window displays. It’s an interesting juxtaposition of comics and fashion, made more fascinating by Wright’s uncertainty about the message Mario’s intended to convey.
“On the one hand,” he writes, “I suppose it casts comics as a generic pop-culture backdrop, a colorful splash of nostalgia against which gray suits can stand out, your mileage may vary. On the other hand, it does posit this $200 book as an upscale item for sophisticated people who drop lots of money on clothes.”
Wright wonders “if Mario’s is using comics as ironic kitsch or cool bits of culture.” Which do you think it is? Check out his photo-filled post then sound off below.
Retailing | Free Comic Book Day founder Joe Field reports that this year’s event drew between 300,000 and 500,000 people to participating retailers, and generated an estimated $1.5 million in publicity for comics and comics stores. “Free Comic Book Day may have been my idea ten years ago, but seeing the remarkable things this event has done for the entire comics world is really encouraging,” he writes on his store’s blog. “Many of my comics retailer colleagues in the U.S., Canada and 40 other countries bring energy, creativity and enthusiasm to FCBD, making it a very special community event that is now the world’s largest annual comics’ event. All of this shows just how current the comics’ medium is — and how vital comic book specialty stores are to our local communities.” [Flying Colors, via The Beat]
Legal | In the wake of the latest confiscation of comics by Canadian customs agents, Laura Hudson looks at how creators and fans can protect themselves when crossing the border. [Comics Alliance]
Comic strips | Tundra marketing director Bill Kellogg has launched Ink Bottle Syndicate, which represents eight comic strips: That Monkey Tune, by Mike Kandalaft; Holy Molé, by Rick Hotton; Sunshine State, by Graham Nolan; Half Baked, by Rick Ellis; Future Shock, by Jim and Pat McGreal; 15 Minutes, by Robert Duckett; Biz, by Dave Blazek; and, of course, Tundra, Chad Carpenter. [The Daily Cartoonist]
In what has to be the strangest government press release in a while, the Ohio Department of Transportation announced this morning it’s turning to Green Lantern to protect its snowplows. Well, a Green Lantern.
“Taking a cue from the comic book superhero who uses green light to protect the people of Earth,” the release begins, “the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) is hoping a Green Lantern will protect its snowplows from a dangerous spike in crashes this season.”
Citing 63 instances of drivers crashing into snowplows in just the first month of winter weather — that’s up from 57 for all of last winter — ODOT has proposed in its 2012-2013 budget request for the use of green lanterns (flashing LED lights) atop snow-removal equipment: “Research indicates that green lights have a better visibility in snowy, wintery conditions.”
Too bad the proposal isn’t for this year; ODOT might’ve been able to strike a deal with Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment for a movie cross-promotion — complete with a ready-made slogan: “In snowiest day, in blackest night, no snowplow shall escape your sight.”
(via The Plain Dealer)
Every year USA Today blogger, and comic-book fan, Whitney Matheson releases her list of the 100 most interesting people in television, movies, music, literature and, yes, comics. The 2010 edition (the 11th annual!), which concluded this morning, features a diverse mix that includes five comics creators:
• No. 74 — Jim McCann, writer of Hawkeye and Mockinbird, and co-creator of Return of the Dapper Men
• No. 59 — cartoonist Lynda Barry, whose book Picture This was released in November
• No. 41 — Jeff Lemire, creator of Sweet Tooth and the celebrated Essex County Trilogy
• No. 39 — Scott Pilgrim creator Bryan Lee O’Malley
• No. 15 — Robert Kirkman, co-creator of The Walking Dead and executive producer of the AMC television series
Taking a cue from J. Jonah Jameson, the commander of Iran’s 400,000-member volunteer militia has blasted Spider-Man as a “false” cartoon character that may be part of a “soft war” against the Islamic republic.
According to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Naghdi made the remarks last week when he announced the creation of a body called the Organization of Basij and the Media designed to increase the activities of the militia within the media.
Naghdi argued that characters that promote the authority of the government should be used in television programming rather than Spider-Man and other figures, which he seemed to suggest are part of a deliberate attempt to transform the cultural values of Iran.
“Today, we are engaged in a unique and historical war with the enemy in the frame of a soft war,” he said, expressing concern that more wasn’t being done to confront the threat.
Rod Blagojevich, the former Illinois governor who awaits a second corruption trial, has been announced as a last-minute guest at Wizard World Chicago Comic Con in Rosemont, Illinois. He’ll appear Saturday to pose for photos and sign autographs, which sell for a whopping $80 and $50 each, respectively.
Just three days ago a federal jury found Blagojevich guilty of lying to the FBI, but deadlocked on 23 other counts, ranging from racketeering to attempted extortion and bribery, tied to accusations that he attempted to sell the Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama. A hearing will be held on Aug. 26 to discuss a new trial date.
Although Blagojevich, who served as governor from 2003 until his removal from office last year, came to national attention because of the corruption scandal, he has remained in the spotlight through his brief stint on the reality series The Celebrity Apprentice and through numerous television appearances.
“Wizard World Chicago Comic Con is all about pop culture, and Rod Blagojevich is as relevant to today’s news as it gets,” Wizard Entertainment CEO Gareb Shamus said in a statement. “We think the court of public opinion will show him to be a popular figure at the show.”
A 13-year-old boy in Cambridge, England, has transformed two vacuum cleaners into a device that enables him to climb walls like Spider-Man — okay, almost like Spider-Man — earning him the admiration of classmates and the scorn of J. Jonah Jameson.
Hibiki Kono, a Spider-Man fan, spent five months designing and assembling the gadget, made from two dirt-cheap vacuum cleaners (about $22.40 each) and square wooden pads.
“My mum thinks it’s brilliant,” he said, “but she won’t let me us it in my bedroom as she is worried I may pull down the ceiling.”
Crime | Florida authorities are trying to determine whether human remains discovered Wednesday in Pasco County are those of Stephen Perry, the 56-year-old ThunderCats writer who’s been missing for more than three weeks and presumed murdered. Zephyrhills police are still awaiting the results of DNA testing on the severed arm found in a trash bin on May 16 near Perry’s abandoned van.
Tampa Tribune reporter Howard Altman, who’s been covering the Perry case from the beginning, notes police revealed the latest discovery on the same day that Warner Bros. Animation announced it is producing a new version of ThunderCats. [The Tampa Tribune]