Sunday, August 18, 2019

Chew Vol. 2: International Flavor

Title: Chew Vol. 2: International Flavor

ISBN: 9781607062608
Price: $12.99
Publisher/Year: Image, 2014
Artist: Rob Guillory
Writer: John Layman
Collects: Chew #6-10

Rating: 4/5

The thing about Chew that makes it even more special is that it is not afraid to keep on taking the story further. It’s pretty unusual to begin with – Tony Chu is a cibopath, someone who can pick up psychic impressions from anything he eats, who works as an agent of the FDA, now the most powerful agency in America after a bird flu epidemic killed millions, making chicken illegal. But Layman doesn’t stop there in this new collection: he brings back Chu’s old partner, who now has robotic parts on his face and chin; a USDA special agent has a ‘specially trained rat named “Jellybean” equipped with miniature cameras and parabolic microphones for surveillance’; there is a ‘cibolocutor’, a man who communicates solely through cooking; and there is fruit that, when cooked, tastes exactly like chicken but is actually from outer space. This is the sort of stuff that comic books do best.

The book isn’t all about the wonderful craziness – Layman has interesting characters and well-plotted storylines. The cast are funny and odd and strange and intriguing; the dialogue has a rawness and a reality and a unique feel to it; and the story takes unexpected turns that keep you wanting more. It’s bizarre and oddball book, but in all the good ways, and I’m really glad that it exists, and it was wonderful news when it won the Eisner award for Best New Series.

The other important contribution to the book is the art of Guillory, which suits the tone of the book perfectly; his art style, which feels like a mixture of Ben Templesmith and Jim Mahfood, creates the ideal reality for the balance of oddness and realism can exist without clashing. His people all look like complete individuals, none more obvious in the difference between Chu and his older brother, even though you can see the similarity. Together, these two artists make such a good book that it’s enough to tempt me to buy the individual issues, just so I can get the story quicker.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Star Trek: The Next Generation/Doctor Who: Assimilation2 Vol. 2

Title: Star Trek: The Next Generation/Doctor Who: Assimilation2 Vol. 2

ISBN: 9781613775516
Price: $17.99
Publisher/Year: IDW, 2013
Artist: J.K. Woodward, Gordon Purcell
Writer: Scott Tipton, David Tipton
Collects: Star Trek: The Next Generation/Doctor Who: Assimilation2 #5-8

Rating: 4/5

We are immediately thrust into the story with Picard and the Doctor discussing the Borg. Both men are on either side of the fence with the situation. And through a flashback to one of my favorite Star Trek episodes told by none other than Guinan (aka Whoopi Goldberg), the Doctor is informed as to why our brave Captain doesn’t trust the Borg and would never form an alliance. However, once they dig deeper and realize the Cybermen are attempting to convert the Borg and use all of their resources to take over the universe, the threat against the world becomes too great even for Picard to ignore.

The best thing about  Assimilation 2 Volume 2 is the characters. The illustrator aimed to make each character resemble their television selves, and I think it works in its favor. You can’t help but feel nostalgic or geek out when gazing upon the faces of Data, Worf, Geordi La Forge, or Matt Smith as the Doctor. Knowing you are heading into battle with your favorite characters, adds to the overall enjoyment of the story. The only downside is unfortunately you don’t get the conclusion to the story in this compilation. *sad face* You must wait until the next installment to see if their efforts work or if it was all for nothing.

Overall, Star Trek: The Next Generation / Doctor Who: Assimilation 2 Volume 2 is a must-read for any fan of either series. It’s engaging, highly entertaining, and will leave you wanting more long after you reach the end of page 72.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Star Trek: The Next Generation/Doctor Who: Assimilation2 Vol. 1

Title: Star Trek: The Next Generation/Doctor Who: Assimilation2 Vol. 1

ISBN: 9781613774038
Price: $17.99
Publisher/Year: IDW, 2012
Artist: J.K. Woodward, The Sharp Bros. Gordon Purcell
Writer: Scott Tipton, David Tipton, Tony Lee
Collects: Star Trek: The Next Generation/Doctor Who: Assimilation2 #1-4

Rating: 4/5

Two of the deadliest foes that either series ever faced join forces to terrorize various universes. Whenever worlds like these collide, the “why” is never as important as seeing how everyone’s favorite characters will engage with one another. The Doctor and Captain Picard are as different as two characters can be, and they interact exactly how you would expect. The story is enthralling and quick witted, aligning itself with the current incarnation of Doctor Who. The writing team of Scott and David Tipton with Tony Lee have a solid grasp of all the characters, and it doesn’t hurt that you already know how most of these characters speak in your mind. It reads as a fast paced episode of Doctor Who with a nice touch of Star Trek: Next Generation technology.

As a bonus, readers get a glimpse of a previous “generation” with another Doctor in one chapter that works to great effect. The change in art for this issue by the Sharp Bros. is a brilliant move as it shows the many contrasts of the older series with its sharp colors and straight forward action that a certain Captain and his crew are well known for. The throwback sequence is tastefully done with its bold and dynamic action with a touch of Mike Allred-ness thrown in for good measure. The rest of the series is painted by J.K. Woodward and Gordon Purcell which sets its own moods from planet to planet and from TARDIS to Enterprise. The moody coloring and portrait-like shots of the characters shows off the many worlds these adventurers are exploring as they uncover the mystery of the deadly alliance of Borg and Cybermen. As the tale progresses, the debate of who is worse begins unfolding for The Enterprise crew and The Doctor and his companions.

Staying true to form, there are no easy answers for anyone. The Tiptons and Lee have really shown the right amount of heart, emotion and honesty from the Doctor’s side as well as showing the wit and big questions fans know from the Next Generation crew. The creators leave good hooks at the end of each chapter just like in any long form story telling to keep you wanting more. It wouldn’t be a bad thing were they to release the series weekly or bi-weekly like the TV shows they are portraying as fans appetites have become harder to satisfy. Whether you’re a fan of Doctor Who, or TNG, or even if enjoy a good sci-fi adventure, this book is loads of fun on all fronts.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Sweet Tooth Vol. 3: Animal Armies

Title: Sweet Tooth Vol. 3: Animal Armies

ISBN: 9781401231705
Price: $14.99
Publisher/Year: Vertigo, 2011
Artist: Jeff Lemire
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Collects: Sweet Tooth #12-17

Rating: 4/5

Animal Armies, like the In Captivity, follows two major story arcs: that of Gus, at the Preserve, as his kindhearted nature begins to turn colder and harder at the injustices inflicted by very bad men; and that of Jepperd, who finds help from two women he’s helped before, and forms a questionable alliance with hyper-violent biker cultists attack the militia stronghold.

What I love (so far) about Sweet Tooth is that every volume in the series builds upon the prior book without jarring transition–and every volume in the series is better than the one that came before it. Such was true of In Captivity, as we learn the mixed–even honorable–motivations of characters like Dr. Singh and Jepperd. Such is true for Animal Armies, as Jepperd attempts to atone for what he’s done to Gus, by amassing an army of feral biker cultists who worship hybrids, and convinces them to take the militia by lying and promising them the hybrid children. Truly, Jepperd’s game in Animal Armies is to find the strange deer boy who worked his way into Jepperd’s desiccated heart, and find a way to help him.

That’s not to say that everything is all roses for Jepperd and Gus. In fact, it’s just the opposite. And this is very apparent in…

Poor Gus. AGAIN, seriously, poor Gus! In this third volume, he’s starting to mistrust humans, especially adult men, and especially those in power. Dr. Singh has lied to him about letting him go home, Jepperd lied to him about the Preserve. When soft-hearted Johnny, a janitor in the Preserve compound, gives Gus chocolate and tries to befriend the hybrids, Gus starts to show signs of wising up to his human captors. He starts to different, harder decisions – telling Johnny to leave them alone, telling Wendy to hold back when Buddy is attacked. Although these are small things, it’s darker foreshadowing for the future – because Gus already thinks of his father’s gospel as truth, and that he never should have left the woods to seek out others. That humans – especially men – are the monsters his father warned him about.

In this volume, we’re re-introduced to several characters – three humans that I enjoyed very much. Johnny, the janitor at the preserve and the brother of head-runner (and really bad man) Abbot, is an easy favorite. We first were introduced to his character as he helped Jepperd’s breakout in the months before. Johnny is ridiculed by the other militia men, beaten, and otherwise marginalized – but it’s clear that while he has a conscience and wants to do the right thing for the hybrid children (and for Jepperd), he also feels loyalty to his brother and wants to bring him back from the dark place in which Abbot now resides.

The other two standout human characters are Lucy and Becky – both women that Jepperd and Gus have met before in the brothel hotel, and who Jepperd remembers from the Preserve. Lucy was captured and experimented upon, her child cut out of her by Doctor Singh. And though she managed to escape the Preserve, her scars and desire for vengeance and blood (seen from Out of the Dark Woods) is a powerful thing. As is the bond between Lucy and Becky.

Finally…there are the hybrid children. Wendy and Gus deepen their bond in Animal Armies, and we get to see (and feel) more of Bobby. (There’s a particular scene when Bobby tells Gus that he makes him happy. I dare you to read it without feeling tugging of heartstrings. I DARE YOU.)

And…there’s Buddy. Silent, poor Buddy. Without a voice, without a family, Buddy’s story is the saddest of them all.

This volume is (almost) bookended by two scenes without dialogue, voiced over by Dr. Singh. The first, is Singh’s tapes, as he pieces together what he knows about Gus and the pandemic (and flirts with some terrifying hubris – dude, you’re probably gonna have to check that later in the series).

The second scene is when Singh discovers Gus’s father’s bible, and reads the gospel-like predictions he has for his hybrid son. Chilling and incredibly effective.

This third volume also continues the strange shared dream sequences between Gus and Jepperd – it’s clear now that both can see what the other is doing. Not only that, but also the pair seem to be following the words of Gus’s religious father. What’s up with that? I don’t know. I’m excited to find out.

To Alaska, we go.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

9/13 – 9/15: Rose City Comic Con Returns to Oregon Convention Center


Portland, OR (July 22, 2019) – The 8th annual Rose City Comic Con by LeftField Media, Portland’s premier pop-culture event, will unite 70,000 fans of comics, technology and science, television and film, custom art, over-the-top cosplay, and more at the Oregon Convention Center from Friday, September 13 through Sunday, September 15, 2019. The convention floor and panel rooms will buzz with hundreds of hours’ worth of programs including: celebrities and experts hosting panels and exclusive reveals; cosplay fashion shows; gaming tournaments; iconic pop culture memorabilia collections; and as always, a diverse array of activities for the whole family.


Family-friendly pavilion Rose City Jr. powered by the Toy Association returns with even more playful events planned to educate and entertain kids of all ages and parents alike. University of Oregon will return to the convention this year with more large scale programming for students and faculty to interact with attendees.  Department of English Professor Ben Saunders, Director, Comics and Cartoon Studies Minor, will return for programming this year. Fans can also catch the school’s beloved Puddles The Duck on the convention floor. Beer lovers can also get a taste of the local scene at Ninkasi Brewing Company’s beer garden on site.


Those who want to kick off the festivities a little early can take in a Portland Thorns match versus the North Carolina Courage for Rose City Comic Con Night September 11. This package includes a ticket to the match and an exclusive Rose City Comic Con + Portland Thorns T-Shirt.


In addition, esteemed comics publishers ONI Press and Dark Horse Comics will return to the convention. Attendees will have the opportunity to stop by their booths for special announcements and exclusives.


With Rose City Comic Con 2019 hosting more energetic programing, more globally recognized talent, and presenting more exclusive previews and announcements to attendees than ever before, it continues to grow into a standout annual destination – and unite fans at one of the largest pop culture events in the country.



WHEN: Friday, September 13; exhibit hall hours 1pm – 8pm

   Saturday, September 14; exhibit hall hours 10am – 7pm

   Sunday, September 15; exhibit hall hours 10am – 5pm



WHERE: Oregon Convention Center

      777 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd

      Portland, Oregon 97232


Screen Stars:

Comic Guests:

Fans and attendees can keep up with Rose City Comic Con’s social media channels as guests are added to the show line up.


TICKETS: Daily and full weekend passes are available. Badges purchased before July 25 can be mailed to a provided address, saving convention goers time from waiting in line. Prices will increase the door.
  • Friday Only Admission: $35
  • Saturday Only Admission: $45
  • Sunday Only Admission: $40
  • 3-Day Weekend Pass: $75
  • 3-Day Premium Pass: $139.99
  • Kids Admission: $15. Valid for kids ages 3-10. Valid for full weekend or any day individually

WEBSITE: https://rosecitycomiccon.com/ is updated regularly with new guests, exciting exhibitors, and special programming.


SOCIAL MEDIA:

    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RoseCityCC/
    Twitter: @RoseCityCC
    Instagram: @RoseCityCC


About Rose City Comic Con
Founded in 2011, Rose City Comic Con quickly became Portland’s largest and most diverse comics convention. Building from the strong, independent creative community in the city and combining well-known creators, celebrity guests, and cosplay enthusiasts in a family-friendly atmosphere, RCCC brings together a variety of passionate fans in one epic weekend.

About LeftField Media
LeftField Media, LLC is an events company focused on developing face-to-face events in a range of communities rooted in contemporary culture and shared passion. LeftField was formed in 2014 by Greg Topalian (President, LeftField Media) and is now owned by Topalian and Clarion Events Ltd. With a keen sense of the evolving needs of businesses and their consumers, as well as new opportunities created by change, LeftField takes a clean slate approach to its work. LeftField’s portfolio includes Awesome Con (awesomecon.com), Washington D.C.’s Comic Con; Rose City Comic Con (rosecitycomiccon.com), in Portland, O.R.; Big Easy Con (bigeasycon.com), in New Orleans, L.A.; and Anime NYC (animenyc.com), a Japanese pop culture festival in New York City. LeftField Media is headquartered in historic Trumbull, C.T. (leftfieldmedia.com).

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Sweet Tooth Vol. 2: In Captivity

Title: Sweet Tooth Vol. 2: In Captivity

ISBN: 9781401228545
Price: $14.99
Publisher/Year: Vertigo, 2010
Artist: Jeff Lemire
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Collects: Sweet Tooth #6-11

Rating: 4/5

A cross between Bambi and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, SWEET TOOTH tells the story of Gus, a rare new breed of human/animal hybrid children, has been raised in isolation following an inexplicable pandemic that struck a decade earlier. Now, with the death of his father he’s left to fend for himself . . . until he meets a hulking drifter named Jepperd who promises to help him. Jepperd and Gus set out on a post-apocalyptic journey into the devastated American landscape to find ‘The Preserve’ a refuge for hybrids.

In this second volume, Lemire explores the heartbreaking story of Jepperd and how he went from a devoted husband to the ruthless mercenary he is now. Meanwhile, Gus is captured in a camp with other hybrid creatures where he meets Dr. Singh, a scientist studying the plague that’s wiped out so much of the world. By traveling more into Gus’ past, Singh will learn more about the plague, as well as clues at how some of it might relate to Gus and his father.

In Captivity follows two major story arcs: that of Gus, as he learns a little more about his world and his unique roll in it; and that of Jepperd, who reflects on his past, his choices, and the howling rage inside.

If Out of the Dark Woods was the introduction to Lemire’s strange, post-apocalyptic world, In Captivity broadens that world, and its players, immensely. In book 1, we readers only know what Gus knows: the world is full of bad people, some kind of sickness has taken over, and that sickness is somehow tied to animal-hybrid children (who are the only ones immune to the plague). Naturally, any remaining scientists would want to experiment on the immune subjects, right? In that light, In Captivity puts a whole new spin on animal testing. Basically, all of the ugly things one imagines humanity doing, humanity does – pregnant women are abducted; their babies are tagged, categorized, experimented upon; and any human-hybrid children have huge bounties placed on their furry heads.

Gus, unfortunately, discovers this the hard way.

Poor Gus. Seriously, poor Gus! I kept thinking this while reading volumes 1 & 2, as he’s duped again and again, not just by Jepperd, but by Dr. Singh and others at the Preserve. And, to some unknown extent at this point, by his own father, who has clearly lied to the boy since his infancy. As we dive into Gus’s memories, all of this becomes painfully clear.

This is also the first time that Gus meets other children – all hybrids, like himself. There’s the pig girl Wendy, who is as clever as Gus (though younger, and her hybridity is more pronounced than Gus); there’s the groundhog named Bobby, who can speak only in stunted grammar and basic sentences; there’s the silent Buddy.

All we know of these children is that they have no homes, and little hope, despite Gus’s optimism. As Wendy tells Gus, once they come for you, you don’t ever come back.

It’s hard not to ache for these characters, and want them to survive and succeed and escape this horrible place…

But what’s so fascinating about In Captivity is that while there certainly are Bad People – the militia, for example, is shudder-inducing – there are characters who are nuanced, layered creatures with shades of gray. Take, for example, Dr. Singh, who is bone-weary and dedicated to finding a cure for the disease that will claim all of humanity.

Or, take a more powerful example: Jepperd.

At the end of Out of the Dark Woods, I despised Jepperd – even though you know he will betray Gus, it doesn’t make the betrayal any more palatable.

But in In Captivity, we learn why he betrays Gus. We see who Jepperd was, what he sacrificed, and how he has become the man he has become.

I don’t want to spoil it, but I found his arc incredibly moving. We learn about his wife, their unlikely match, and how much he loved her. We also witness Jepperd’s mental collapse – his fragmented memories, his repetition in words, eerily (and beautifully) reflected in Lemire’s mirroring artwork.

And by the end of In Captivity, we see Jepperd come to a conclusion and revelation of his own… which can only mean trouble for the folks at The Preserve.

I cannot wait to see what happens next – and what it means for the straggling survivors in Gus and Jepperd’s broken world.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

The Manhattan Projects Vol. 1

Title: The Manhattan Projects Vol. 1

ISBN: 9781607066088
Price: $14.99
Publisher/Year: Image, 2012
Artist: Nick Pitarra
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Collects: The Manhattan Projects #1-5

Rating: 4/5

How to review a trade paperback without giving away the plot? The Manhattan Projects is a bonkers mix of science, conspiracy, aliens, Nazis and cannibalism. It is geek heaven, with geek heroes and geek references and all the stuff we all love. It is inventive, has more imagination than most mainstream science fiction films and books, plenty of grizzly gore and yet doesn’t take itself so seriously that you can’t just enjoy the ride. Which you will…

Ok, so maybe a bit more is required to explain this collection by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Pitarra. This is the opening; part 1 if you will. I suggest you discover the rest for yourself.

In our universe, the Manhattan Project was the research program that produced the first atomic bomb during World War II. The project was under the direction of Major General Leslie Groves, who plays the same role in this alternative history. Robert Oppenheimer also plays a pivotal role in both reality and fiction. In Hickman’s universe, the team is made up of Einstein, Fermi, Feynman and other famous scientists.

Our story starts with Groves recruiting Oppenheimer and informing the latter that he has free reign for his projects. He also explains that the atomic bomb project is only one strand of science under investigation. More ‘fringe’ sciences are the real mission. While Groves is showing Oppenheimer around the facility, they are attacked by Japanese robots sent by psychic Buddhist death-monks, which highlights the point nicely. The good Doctor dispatches the robots in a highly quirky and relevant way. This introduction is weaved in with Robert’s childhood, growing up with his evil twin, Joseph (not real) and younger brother, Frank (real). This jumping back and forth through time is a key feature throughout the edition, as people aren’t what they seem, and our protagonists’ back-stories explain the present to the reader. It is not a spoiler to say that Joseph becomes a serial killer, as this happens very early on in the book.

We move over to Germany, where Hitler is interacting with a scientist who has a robotic arm. Then it gets really bizarre: alien visitors; dead scientists and American presidents playing important roles; and traveling between parallel universes. Suffice it to say that there is enough on every page, and in almost every panel, to keep any science-geek or science fiction fan interested.

Praise must go to Hickman, whose imagination has leaked onto the page. Best known for the Image Comics series The Nightly News and Pax Romana, as well as writing for Marvel, his writing is sharp and witty and packed full of nods to classic science fiction and the formative days of modern physics. The characters all have great personalities, caricaturing their real world equivalents. However, you could probably know nothing of the scientists such as Fermi and Daghlian and still get a sense of how they interacted within the real world. There is a little history lesson sneaking into the story.

The artwork by Nick Pitarra is, for my taste, slightly odd. Everything has a slightly grainy, rough feel to it. It is interesting, however, and fits the story and characters well. Each real world character looks like he should, and the aliens are truly alien. The gore, when it occurs, is suitably nasty without feeling exploitative. His style is original and flawless and definitely gives you the sense that this is not the world we live in. He’s also worked with Hickman on Marvel comics and they clearly complement each other well. As for everyone, art is a personal experience. To make it clear, there is nothing wrong at all with Pitarra’s work. It suits the story and matches the imagination of Hickman’s story.

I can’t wait to read more from The Manhattan Projects.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Latest Update

Today, I came to my blog to start writing and scheduling some new reviews when I find that everything I had previously scheduled from around February to today are gone. So many reviews are missing, I before today I had not kept copies of them anywhere but on here. That's obviously going to change now.


Along with several months worth of reviews, it also seems that my write-up on how Wizard World Portland from this year was... so I will have no re-write that as re-post it as well.

I apologize that I didn't catch this issue sooner. Please continue to watch this space for new posts weekly.

I am also still working towards transitioning into a podcast format, and will make sure to post the information once I have everything setup.

Thank you for your continued support.

-John

Sweet Tooth Vol. 1: Out of the Deep Woods

Title: Sweet Tooth Vol. 1: Out of the Deep Woods

ISBN: 9781401226961
Price: $12.99
Publisher/Year: Vertigo, 2010
Artist: Jeff Lemire
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Collects: Sweet Tooth #1-5

Rating: 4/5

There’s a certain sense of intimacy that comes through whenever an independent comic creator handles both the art and writing duties on a comic. When Eisner-nominated Jeff Lemire (Essex County Trilogy) moved to Vertigo, these indie sensibilities thankfully remained intact in The Nobody, an eerie homage to The Invisible Man. Sweet Tooth is no different; it’s a post-apocalyptic oddity that feels at home beside Vertigo’s best, but still bears the personal touch of an artist whose intention is to tell an enchanting story rather than appeal to the mainstream.

In a near future where much of humankind has fallen to a mysterious illness, bizarre boy/deer hybrid Gus resides in the center of Nebraska State Wilderness Sanctuary with his protective but ailing father. He’s repeatedly told never to stray too far from their cabin, as Gus’s kind has been hunted to near extinction. But when Gus’s father inevitably passes away, Gus is taken from his serene habitat by drifter Tommy Jepperd, whose intentions are ambiguous until the final few pages of ‘Out of the Deep Woods.’

Lemire masterfully introduces this barren landscape to us through Gus’s broken narration. Gus is an innocent child whose view of the world is so narrow that when he finally leaves the park he’s as clueless to what dangers civilization holds as us readers. What caused this virus? What caused the survivors to give birth to mutant hybrids shortly after the virus struck? And, crucially, why does Gus’s father tell him that he was born before the virus? There’s never the sense that Lemire lacks a grasp on the haunting epic he’s telling. He’s a confident enough storyteller to let the narrative unravel in its own time.

Gus’s narration itself is superb. So many comic book writers attempt to capture the mindframe of an illiterate freak/mutant/animal/robot, and the result seldom rises above embarrassing child-talk. Lemire writes Gus as someone who is not stupid but new to the world; the ruined Nebraska still induces a sense of wonder in the horned boy, and his trust in the sinister Jepperd is so wholesome it almost hurts.

Lemire’s art is also quite unique, depicting a world that is seemingly empty but always treacherous, sterilized yet chaotic. Other than a group of masked marauders Gus and Jepperd briefly encounter there’s little in the way of clich├ęd imagery that has propped up post-apocalyptic fiction ever since A Boy and His Dog and Mad Max.

So, a great start to what looks to be another classic Vertigo series, then. Jeff Lemire pretty much delivers the perfect introduction to Sweet Tooth’s world. Lemire himself has described this series as “Bambi meets Mad Max”, but ‘Out of the Deep Woods’ shift in tone actually reminded me more of David’s journey in Spielberg’s A.I. than either of those movies. Only without Jude Law and the dumb aliens, hopefully.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Wizard World Teams With Transition Projects On Comic Book Program In Portland

Wizard World is proud to team with Portland-based Transition Projects to help put comic books,

As a Thank You, fans who donate two or more items to Transition Projects during Wizard World Portland will receive a free pre-autographed celebrity photo from a selection of previous Wizard World guests. These photographs are available to fans on a first-come, first-served basis while supply lasts, one per family donation per day, at the full discretion of Wizard World.

Fans can learn more about Transition Projects at https://www.tprojects.org.

Wizard World events bring together thousands of fans of all ages to celebrate the best in pop culture: movies, television, gaming, live entertainment, comics, sci-fi, graphic novels, toys, original art, collectibles, contests and more. The second event scheduled on the 2019 Wizard World calendar, Portland show hours are Friday, February 22, 4-9 p.m.; Saturday, February 23, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sunday, February 24, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Kids 10 and under are admitted free with paid adult.

Wizard World Portland is also the place for cosplay, with fans young and old showing off their best costumes throughout the event. Fans dressed as every imaginable character – and some never before dreamed – will roam the convention floor and participate in the famed Wizard World Costume Contest on Saturday evening.

For more on the 2019 Wizard World Portland, visit http://wizardworld.com/comiccon/portland.

graphic novels and other reading material in the hands of those transitioning from homelessness to housing in the Portland metro area, for Portland’s most vulnerable citizens including veterans, women, and people with disabilities. Wizard World is asking fans to bring graphic novels, comics, science fiction books, or any other similar materials to Wizard World Portland on February 22-24 and leave them in a specially marked donation receptacle near the Special Guest Registration desk.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Kistler, Koblish, Estrada, Cook, Ortiz Among Top Creators At 2019 Wizard World Portland, February 22-24


Jeremy Clark, Mostafa Moussa, Joe Wos, Shawn Coss Also In Artist Alley At Oregon Convention Center

Art by Thomas Estrada.pngPORTLAND, Ore., January 29, 2019 Mark Kistler (“Secret City,” “Imagination Station”), Scott Koblish (“Deadpool”), Thomas Estrada (Disney, DreamWorks), Tom Cook (“Masters of the Universe,” “Scooby Doo”), Phil Ortiz (“The Simpsons”), Shawn Coss (“Cyanide & Happiness”), Jeremy Clark ("Grimm Fairy Tales," "Day of the Dead") and Mostafa Moussa (“Superman,” “Fantastic Four”) are among the leading creators scheduled to populate Artist Alley at the seventh annual Wizard World Portland at the Oregon Convention Center, February 22-24. The weekend will also feature many demonstrations and discussions at the Creative Stage.

Other artists and writers scheduled to appear include James Morris (Three Kingdoms trilogy), Brett Weldele (“The Surrogates,” “The Beauty”), Joe Wos (“Mazetoons”), Jason Christman (licensed Lucasfilm/Star Wars), Jed Thomas (“CryptTV,” “The Amity Wars”), Ray Wenck (Random Survival, Ghost of a Chance), Jerry Pesce (PescEffects) and more.

Wizard World Portland  will also include non-stop live entertainment, gaming, exclusive Q&A sessions with select celebrities and autographs/photo ops with with top stars such as Aquaman headliner Jason Momoa, “Supergirl” Melissa Benoist, “Teen Wolf” star Tyler Hoechlin and nine “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” stars including Alyson Hannigan, Alexis Denisof, James Marsters, Juliet Landau and Julie Benz, as well as a dedicated kids zone and more, along with Wizard World’s Master of Ceremonies, Kato Kaelin.

Wizard World events bring together thousands of fans of all ages to celebrate the best in pop culture: movies, television, gaming, live entertainment, comics, sci-fi, graphic novels, toys, original art, collectibles, contests and more. The second event scheduled on the 2019 Wizard World calendar, Portland show hours are Friday, February 22, 4-9 p.m.; Saturday, February 23, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sunday, February 24, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Kids 10 and under are admitted free with paid adult.

Wizard World Portland is also the place for cosplay, with fans young and old showing off their best costumes throughout the event. Fans dressed as every imaginable character – and some never before dreamed – will roam the convention floor and participate in the famed Wizard World Costume Contest on Saturday evening.

For more on the 2019 Wizard World Portland, visit http://wizd.me/PortlandPR.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

2019 Outlook

Last year there were a great deal of ups and downs for me personally. I'm hoping that 2019 will play out better and I wanted to give my loyal readers an idea of what's coming down the pipeline.

As I had mentioned towards the end of December, I'm considering making some major changes to how I broadcast information on both of my blogs (Zanziber's Point of View and RPG4EVR). Because I find difficulty finding time to be able to sit and write, I am thinking of moving towards a podcast based system. I have no problems at all talking about my viewpoints and opinions, and this would also open-up some opportunities to include people outside of myself to add content to what is brought here.

As of this writing, I am still working on getting the right equipment and learning more about how the process actually goes. When I begin, I plan on making the podcasts around 45 mins to 1 hour in length and will be more than just reviews. I will incorporate some additional opinions about the state of the comic book industry, role playing games, cons and other events as well as local items within geek culture. I also look forward to doing some interviews with artists, creators and people I happen to meet at events I'm attending.

On that note, I should make note of the various upcoming events that are coming to the Pacific Northwest in 2019.


We just had Fandom PDX up in Portland not too long ago. This is the second year, and I haven't gone once. For me, it's scheduled way too early in the year and all the advertising I saw was primarily anime based. Since my anime tastes run to the old school (Robotech), and I don't understand many of the series that have cropped-up over the last 2 decades, I have decided to give Fandom PDX a pass.


I recently learned that I Like Comic Con is taking a year off in order to make the next event in 2020 even better than the inaugural event in 2018. I wasn't able to go last year, which I really wished I had been able to attend, because there was some serious talent I would have loved to meet. I'm eager to see what they'll have planned for 2020.

As my loyal readers know, I was able to attend 2018's Oregon Coast Comic Con and had a fun time. Unfortunately, due to circumstances behind the scenes, it seems like that was the last time we will see Oregon Coast Comic Con. I don't want to bring-up sore issues, nor do I want to open old wounds so I will not post the information that I have learned through various sources since I have not hear the other side of the story.

And that segues into Cherry City Comic Con. It doesn't look like there will be another Cherry City Comic Con any time soon. There was a big issue with being able to actually hold the event soon after Oregon Coast Comic Con. One day, the promoter posted a video declaring that the event was cancelled, and the very next day it was miraculously saved; although many of the guests that had been promoted to be attending would not be able to.

While I'm uncertain about the actual circumstances behind this cancellation and resurrection, on the face of it there seemed like a ploy for marketing and trying to get everyone's attention to possibly motivate people to actually purchase tickets. From what I saw when I attended, and the information I have received from people who were either also attending or even a guest/vendor there, the entire event was incredibly lackluster. From what I saw personally, there were not nearly as many people attending as in years past. Also, there were many of the booths that were empty and vendors there that had no real connection to comic books.

It's very unfortunate that Salem has not been able to keep a decent show alive; between Cherry City Comic Con and Northwest Comic Fest. I know that the Facebook Group "Pop Culture Northwest" has been holding small events in Salem. Maybe if these were expanded, held on a Saturday instead of a Sunday, and received additional outside promotion, these events would be akin to the old Portland Comic Book show that used to be held at the Memorial Colosseum. IMHO, it doesn't actually have to be too fancy and have a ton of Hollywood guests to be good.
Since I am on the topic of events that have been cancelled, there has been some news that the once cancelled Walker Stalker Con for Portland will be returning later in the year. The event was scheduled for February (I believe), and I had seen many people making posts about their eagerness to attend and making plans. Then... for some reason... they cancelled. Just this past week, it was announced that they are trying to work with the venue to come back to Portland in November. We'll see how that plays out.



As much as I would love to go back to Emerald City Comic Con, it seems like it is being managed poorly. The last year I attended, it was more crowded that in years previous; and that was somewhat unpleasant to me. It seems that it has grown even more, to the point that they have moved the celebrity area and main stage has been moved to a hotel that is about 4-6 blocks away from the convention center. I understand that Seattle is working on building a new convention center (or modifying the existing site), but this level of expansion and inconvenience to the con goers is not sitting well.

The biggest issue with having the main stage and celebrity area away from the area where the other panels, artists and vendor are is the fact that there are always so many people outside of the event either trying to sell you something, scalp badges to the event, or potentially mug you. This will create an even more unsafe environment for people who simply want to go to the event and have a good time. They have already paid so much for badges, travel and other related expenses and now they're being told that they will need to go to a remote location in order to get the full experience of the event. I look forward to the new convention center opening in 2021.

For the first time, I have submitted my request to be part of the media for this years Wizard World Portland. This will be February 22-24 and should be a fun event. If I'm approved, I hope to bring my photographer friends from Chrysalis Rising Photographic Studio to help document the experience. Perhaps I will have transitioned to the podcast format by then as well and I can get some great interviews recorded. I'm very excited.
You can bet that I am looking forward to Rose City Comic Con, running September 13-15. As my loyal readers can attest, this event is my favorite from all the events in the Pacific Northwest. Early last year, I was hoping that I could get a table or booth for my non profit; Comic Book Covers 4 Cancer. Due to circumstances, I was unable to commit to this level of attendance. There are several factors that are in play for the likelihood of attempting this for 2019, so I am uncertain at this time. You can bet that it I am unable to table at the event, I will make sure to submit my application to be able to cover it again as in years past.

I am so happy that I have not only attended every single Rose City Comic Con, but that I have been blessed to be a part of the media for the past several years. If I end-up going as a member of the media again, I will work to schedule some interesting interviews with a variety of guests.


While I wasn't able to attend EUCON last year, I hear it was a blast. At the time of this writing, there has been no official announcement on when the next event will be held. When dates are announced, I do plan on requesting a table/booth for Comic Book Cover 4 Cancer. I feel like Eugene may be an area that needs to learn about our fundraising activities for the American Cancer Society.

As of right now, the next series of auctions are scheduled to begin March 2nd. We'll also have our annual Free Comic Book Day series of auctions in May. The dates for the remaining 2 series of auctions are TBD and dependent on getting more covers from artists. If you, or somebody you know, would like to donate to Comic Book Covers 4 Cancer in our effort to raise $$ for the American Cancer Society, please contact me through our Facebook page. To date, we have raised just over $9,200 for cancer research since 2013.

For those of you who have blank covers that we have sent you, please let me know what the status is for receiving them back to us. There are a handful of artists who have had their blanks since 2017. We can't continue without covers to put up for auction.

If you have covers you have already worked on that you would like to donate, please PM me and I will give you our shipping address. We are also branching-out with sketch cards as well. All donations are greatly appreciated.

For those that need blanks to work on, we have plenty; unfortunately our financial situation does not allow for me to ship anything right now. If we were to receive some donations through the "Donate" button on our FB page, we would be able to ship some.

I will continue to post reviews here for trade paperbacks and graphic novels. I have a large section of shelf of trades that have been read, but now need the reviews to be written. Finding time to do the writing is the biggest difficulty right now. Changing to the podcast format would help greatly. If anyone has suggestions on equipment to use or best practices, please feel free to comment.

Oh.. and yesterday I picked-up 40 new trades to add to my collection. Here's what the "To Read" pile looks like at the moment:
I'm looking forward to sharing more updates, reviews and information when it becomes available. I hope you have an excellent 2019!





Sunday, January 6, 2019

East of West Vol 5: All These Secrets

Title: East of West Vol 5: All These Secrets

ISBN: 9781632156808
Price: $14.99
Publisher/Year: Image, 2016
Artist: Nick Dragotta
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Collects: East of West #20-24

Rating: 4/5

I was one of the few fans out there that was late to the East of West party. The series was already three graphic novels deep by the time I picked up my first trade and it wasn’t long before I caught up with the rest of the comic loving world.

Hickman has built as series that rivals George R.R. Martin in political intrigue and violence, the difference being the heavy Sci-Fi bend to the tale that Hickman tells. If there was ever a decent alternative to Game of Thrones then East of West would be it. There is layer upon layer of betrayal and conspiracy. Every character that we meet is nothing more than a pawn on a larger chess board to be moved around at Hickman’s whim, and at times the reader themselves become a pawn in the game, lead to throw favor to one character only to find that their own loyalty is misplaced and better served to be saved for another camp of characters. It would take five thousand words to properly summarize a work of this scope, and let’s face it, if you’re not reading this title this is not the volume to jump in. That would be the equivalent of doing a cannonball in the middle of a half-finished swim meet. It accomplishes nothing and you end up looking like an ass for trying. New readers need to seek out volume one and start at the beginning.

As for readers who are familiar with the world that Hickman has built through the previous 19 issues, you’re getting more of the same, but now the stakes seem higher as war looms on the horizon for all the nations and characters involved. We watch as political leaders try to grasp at the fading strands of peace before the unstoppable ending starts; you can guess at their success.
There are a handful of high points in this graphic novel, a fair share of them belong to the beautiful artwork of Nick Dragotta, who does not fail to impress with every panel. His unique style has been a cornerstone for the series and maintains its high quality in this volume.

As for the plot, there are also a handful of great moments. I’ll give a short description of each here but the over-all plot is far too extensive to cover in one small review. I suggest that you read the book for yourself if you’re experienced with this series.

  • Watching the transformation of Doma was thrilling. Going from the right hand of the President to being thrown to the wolves of the Endless Nation, we watch Hickman peel layer after layer off of this character to reveal a woman whose loyalty is to only to the one she loves, placing herself firmly in the machinations of two major camps, playing both sides against the middle, in the hopes of surviving long enough to see her lover once more.
  • The leader of the Endless Nation takes a trip to the deadlands. A place where if his feet touch the soil he will be pulled to the underworld. His fix to this problem is not only clever but humorous.
  • The assassination attempt on Xiaolian, leader of the House of Mao, is one of the high points of action not only in this volume, but also the series. There are shades of Frank Miller in the artwork, with just enough nods to Miller’s work Ronin to make an old fan like me smile.
There is more than enough here to warrant a purchase. The thick plot will take multiple read-throughs to understand and digest all of the finer nuances hidden throughout. Making this volume a value at its low price point, and a fine edition to bookshelves across the world. I give this a high score and hope you enjoy.