Not sure if everyone else feels this way, but it sure seems to me the presidential race has stagnated to where anytime the main Democratic candidates are onscreen, they're routinely explaining their way out of their latest scandal or speech faux pa. Matt Drinnenberg mentions something along these lines this week's Rail. Every day seems more of the same.
Obama, however, is impressively teflon-like regarding any negative impact. After his latest controversial episode (the "bitter" speech), his poll ratings actually went up! Hillary, no longer dodging imaginary sniper fire, remains dog-paddling upstream. But she's not out yet and, I predict, won't be. She's predicted to take Pennsylvania's Primary (weekend after this) by low double-digits.
Summer Movie Fare of the Fantastic
For whatever reason, of all announced movies expected to be release this summer, Iron Man is the one I'm the most jazzed about, and luckily, is among the first on the schedule with a May 2nd release date. The trailers look incredible and I predict this to be the most faithful comics-to-movie adaptation this side of Spider-Man.
I was so disappointed in Ang Lee's Hulk a few years back, I'm having a hard time getting worked up about the new Ed Norton version, but it's slowly growing on me. I like the trailers, but I'm having reservations about so much CGI in so little space (the effects look unfinished or unpolished to me). However, Norton is taking the project very seriously, and is reputedly in a dogfight with Universal about final cut, so my fears may be unfounded. I certainly hope so.
AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL is another movie I plan to be in line for opening day. Despite intense fan trepidation regarding revealed plot details (particularly in reference to Shia LeBeof's presence shifting focus off Harrison Ford), I can't help but be attracted to this. I hope I'm not let down.
CANOVA: The Comic, Update
The current "story arc" of John Miller's CANOVA: The Comic online series is going to wrap up over the next two to three weeks, and Mr. Miller wants to take some extra time to make sure it's appropriately mind-bending, so is taking an extra week to prepare the last two chapters. So, no comic this week, but it will return next week to begin answering old questions and stimulate new ones. Hint: CANOVA's story may continue in other media.
After the conclusion of the current story, John Miller and Terence Nuzum will announce their new joint online comics project.
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Before I even got into the main dealers area, I was met by Creature Productions' John Lewis (rock salute gesture) and Ashley Lewis preparing to launch Creature Film Fest
The lovely and talented goth lady of fantastic fiction, Andrea Dan Van Scoyoc, cuddles with yours truly in our traditional DoubleTree greeting.
Standing roughly in the area of Andrea's table, I turn to capture the main dealers "lobby". Spirit orbs abound!
Golden Age comic artist Allen Bellman, here with his wife, was a partner to Stan Lee's Timely Comics as far back as the '30s!
At the celebrities table, L-to-R, Lauren Chapin, Cathy Wynkoop, and Debbi Storm. I don't remember who the man in the silver "dress" was.
Our traditional group picture. Front row, L-to-R: Zachary and Jacob Jones. Back row, L-to-R, John Miller, Terence Nuzum, Nolan Canova, Brandon Jones, Chris Woods.
Tim Gordon, left, is the owner/promoter of the Tampa Comic Con and Toy Show. A really nice guy and an exhibitor himself, he knows fandom inside and out.
John Lewis, left, hangs out for a bit at the Comics & Critters Too booth. Right in front of John, roughly shoulder-level, you might be able to just make out two small containers with tiny live snakes in them!
This is the aisle with HooHah Comics and Comic & Critters Too ("south" wall).
PCR artist John Miller (CANOVA: the Comic), center, is being held captive by two Stormtroopers. Or is it the other way around?
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PCR artist John Miller, left, deals with actor/madman Joel D. Wynkoop. And yes, that's a Wynkoop fan shirt he's wearing!
The delighful actress Lauren Chapin ("Kathy" on Father Knows Best) graciously posed for this portrait with yours truly (left) and Joel D. Wynkoop (right).
Lauren asked Joel how he normally deals with movie critics who diss his flicks. Joel demonstrated.
This is a very special photo for me. It's been roughly 25 years since I'd been in the same room with comics legend Pat Broderick (left)! Yours truly is on the right, grateful that after several missed opportunities, Pat & I were finally reunited.
Chris Woods, left, John Miller (orange shirt), and Terence Nuzum (Cramps T-shirt) peruse one of the many video dealers tables. A bright Spirit Orb hovers over John's head.
Moving back over to the first aisle, John Miller goes it alone at another impressive video dealers table
A regular dealer of video and paper memorabilia, this table is in front as you come in approaching the middle aisle.
Having wrapped up our shopping for the day, we retire to the Player's Lounge, which fortunately, had moved up its opening hours. At our "regular" table (and pic taken by me from my seat), L-to-R, Chris Woods, Brandon Jones, John Miller, and Terence Nuzum. Brandon's boys are obscured behind Chris from this angle.
I swing around so I can get Brandon's adorable children in the photo. Jacob, left, and Zachary sit with proud papa (grey cap), while John Miller smiles, bemused.
Thanks to Brandon for taking this pic so I (center) can join in. Terence Nuzum, left, and Chris Woods, right, discuss video purchases.
April's Tampa Comic Con, aka, "DoubleTree Con" (how I normally refer to it) was a different kind of experience for me. With far fewer PCR players in attendance than in the past, I knew that our sacred Fanboy Summit (post-show meet-up) would be comparatively thin. Further, the announced guest list, until days before the show, seemed relatively thin as well. So, a little lower key in energy this time. No matter, there was still a lot to see, and we always find a way to have fun and enjoy each other's company. Plus we had the added bonus of finally meeting up with the long-missing Brandon Jones (Splash Page), who hasn't been to one of these Cons in at least a year.
I hadn't even gotten to the check-in table when I ran into Creature Productions' John Lewis in the lobby. John was far more hospitable than last time (when he refused to speak at all) and seemed in a good mood. The Creature Film Fest that runs concurrently with the comics show would only have three films this day and they were all features. The only title I remember was Legends of the Comics which was playing at 1:00pm. We moved into the hallway where the Creature's table was so I could say hello to daughter Ashley Lewis, who recently announced her pregnancy (waitamminit...maybe that's why Grandpa is beaming!). Of course, I gave my congratulations. I've known Ashley since infanthood, this is a pretty big moment.
Moving into one of the two main dealers areas (this one formerly the entrance lobby), I ran into my Comic Con good luck charm, horror authoress Andrea Dean Van Scoyoc, who gave me my much-anticipated royal welcome. She is so cool, and her fiction is highly recommended.
Normally, I see Tony and Glenda Finklestein (another popular authoress) right next to Andrea, but they were MIA. Andrea explained they had commited to another convention, so couldn't attend. Hopefully, we'll catch up next time.
Of course, we wouldn't make it too far in without being assaulted by actor/madman Joel D. Wynkoop, hahaha. Joel's table is crammed full of the many, many movies he's starred in, and the resident portable DVD player usually has something of his on.
There was a good variety of independent artists/companies represented, although I was disappointed that several I'm used to seeing there in the past were, evidently, not going to show this time. We did catch Terence Nuzum's high school friend, Joe Leone, Jr, promoting his latest creation, Unlikely Heroes. Joe also helps manage the many Demolition Comics stores in the area. (Somehow I neglected to get a picture of Joe this time, sorry. There are pictures of him in past PCR issues, though).
The Main Dealers area was pretty packed with many of the familiar and welcome faces we've come to know and love, and, for the first time in a while I found a LOT I'd like to get my hands on. Not that there isn't a lot anyway, but after 40 years of collecting, I don't see all that many surprises anymore! But a few comics dealers did indeed suprise me with some choice stuff. Unfortunately, wasn't able to partake as much as I'd've liked 'cuz I a po' boy, but I vowed to come better-prepared next time!
Of the main artist celebrities in attendance, I spotted Pat Broderick (Micronauts) whom I haven't seen in nearly 25 years! We met at an Andromeda Society meeting in the late '70s, and met again at The Comic Cafe where he had a small studio in the mid-to-late '80's (I think). Terence Nuzum, who was with me at this point in the Con, remarked that Broderick's Ragman series was a personal favorite (some art was on display on Pat's table). I concurred that I'd nearly forgotten about that character, but remember being really jazzed when it first came out. It was terrific seeing Pat again.
An older man I approached spontaneously started talking to me about having known and worked with Marvel Comics' Stan Lee as far back as the '30s when it was Timely! This turned out to be Golden Age artist Allen Bellman who was attending with his wife. He had a few things on display at his table, but seemed more excited to be a featured artist in the film Legends of the Comics (directed by Walter Cronkite's son(!)) playing this day at the Creature Fest. Due to scheduling issues, however, I couldn't stay to watch the film. Maybe I'll get the DVD someday...
The classic TV celebrities section featured "Kathy" from Father Knows Best, Lauren Chapin. Next to Lauren was Debi Storm who's starred in everything from The Brady Bunch to Adam-12. I never got a chance to talk with Debi, bit I did hang with Lauren a bit out in the first dealers lobby. She was extremely nice, really first class, but was concerned that the celebrities tables, on an elevated stage at the far end of the hall, seemed far removed from where the main traffic was. I suggested she ask promoter Tim Gordon to move her out into the entrance lobby with Joel Wynkoop next time -- there's no way she'd be overlooked there!
After surveying the remianing bootleg DVD tables and remaining comics dealers (I've GOT to bring more money next time), the round-up in the main dealers room ended with a stop by a newcomer to the festivities, Comic & Critters Too, John Lewis's store.
Before we remove to Player's Lounge and the Summit, I need to remind all my faithful readers that this article is not intended to be an exhaustive guide to all the guests and events at the Con -- only my memory of them. For a complete rundown of all the guests, along with their websites and more information, please go to Tim Gordon's site, http://www.comicbookconventions.com/tampaconvention. And then bookmark it. That's an order.
The Player's Lounge had, fortunately for us, moved its opening time up closer to noon from where it used to be, somewhere around 2:30pm or so. This made it far more convenient to plan lunch at a reasonable hour and still get back to the show before it closed. Anyway, we ate, talked, and took the pictures that you see here.
After a wonderful lunch and reunion with the Jones family (Brandon, Jacob and Zachary), Terence, John and I removed to the lobby where we talked fandom until past 5:00pm -- and that only happened 'cuz my watch stopped and I didn't know it! I had intended on being home by 4:00pm since I had to work that night. I was wondering why I was seeing so many dealers packing and leaving.
The next Con should be in August sometime, check Tim's website for updates. Hope to see more of you there!