[Baltimore Comic-Con 2014] The Rafer Roberts & Nightmare the Rat Interview

Rafer Roberts is a D.C. area creator, member of the D.C. Conspiracy, and contributor to the Magic Bullet free comics newspaper, as well as the mastermind of comics like Plastic Farm and Nightmare the Rat. The latter of which is also about to be very successfully kickstarted, and marks his second crowdfunding success. It’s the story of a nightmarish and mischievous rat (somewhat reminiscent of another famous rodent), and his misadventures in Hell City. Plus it’s an homage to 1900s newspaper strips, something that is well reflected in the kickstarter, whose goal is to print a newspaper-sized edition.

You may have also heard of Roberts thanks to his collaboration with Justin Jordan on Thanos and Darkseid: Carpool Buddies of Doom, or more recently thanks to his backups in X-O Manowar (once more alongside Jordan), or Shutter (alongside Ryan Ferrier).

I got a chance to catch up with him at Baltimore Comic-Con, and chat about all of his many projects, including an upcoming appearance in Imaginary Drugs, coming in January from IDW. Read More

[Small Press Expo 2014] A Very Special Show Indeed

Small Press Expo has become a yearly high-point. No other show has as strong or eclectic mix of comics and small press, or represents what I am reading these days quite as well. There are quality creators and publishers around every corner. Stories with depth, great art, quirkiness, experimental leanings, harsh edges, plus just a bit of madness, are not in short supply. It’s truly the perfect mix of new and familiar!

Last year was a bit overwhelming, and foolishly I thought things would be different this time. I knew more of the creators, and more of the debuts that I wanted to get. And yet, none of that really helped. Any hope of systematically seeing everything was dashed. Instead, sensory overload and mad dashes were the words of the weekend. There was just that much quality material. I cannot emphasize it enough. I bought a ton of stuff, and made note of so much more, and yet I am still noticing creators or comics I missed. It’s unfathomable that I could just walk by Yuko Ota and Ananth Panagariya (of Johnny Wander fame), and yet I did. Shamefully, that is not the only example, although perhaps my wallet is somewhat thankful. It was one high after another, and I look forward to experiencing it again piece-by-piece, as I read all the wonderful books that did make it home with me. Read More

[Baltimore Comic-Con 2014] Longer & Better Than The Last!

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Finally, it all comes around. The past few years have been all about firsts when it came to conventions. Everything was new! No more, this was my second time attending Baltimore Comic-Con, and thankfully it was even better than before! Plus it lasted longer – after the success of last year’s show a third day was added, making the whole thing a Friday through Sunday affair. It’s true that the first day was a little slow in terms of attendance, but for those present it was an excellent opportunity to familiarize themselves with the Exhibitor Hall, as well as get signatures from big name creators without the lines that inevitably took shape later.

And, yes! There were a lot of excellent creators in attendance, may of which I was incredibly excited to see. Unlike previous conventions I made a point to hunt down signatures. From Gail Simone, to Mark Waid, Paul Levitz, Garth Ennis, George Pérez, Greg Capullo, Cliff Chiang, Francesco Francavilla, Cully Hamner, Carla Speed McNeil, Rafer Roberts, Jeremy Bastian, Matt WagnerDavid Petersen, Paul Pope, Joe Quinones, Amy Reeder, Brandon Montclare, Charles Soule, Jeff Stokely, Michael Alan Nelson, James Tynion IV, and Bryan J.L. Glass – I caught them all! Whew! While this involved a good amount of time spent in line, it was well worth it, and mostly mitigated by the awesome fans around me. Conversations sparked up, and generally made time pass just a little quicker, even when I spent two hours waiting in line for Pérez.

Speaking of whom I was able to get my hands on a convention special of Sirens #1, and then get it signed by the man, which was quite excellent! Fun fact, all of the women in the comic are based on real life people, many of whom will be attending conventions with him in the future (including his wife). Also, Francavilla’s Black Beetle: Necrologue is still happening, it has simply been delayed temporarily. I got to speak with him briefly while getting my copy of Black Beetle #0 signed, and was delighted learn this. Similarly, McNeil has a bunch of stuff coming up soon, none of which has been formally announced, but it seems incredibly exciting – certainly something to keep an eye out for! Read More

[Otakon 2014] My First Anime Con – From the Cosplay to the Panels!

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This year is quickly shaping up into my best convention-going experience yet. It was the first year for Smudge! Expo, the second for Awesome Con (although my first attending), and now my first time attending Otakon, which is also my first attending an Anime convention. So many firsts, and all of them fantastic! Never mind that Baltimore Comic-Con and Small Press Expo are just around the corner, and that they are sure to cap everything in grand fashion.

But, Otakon! Why did I enjoy my first time so much? Truly, it’s because it guaranteed that I am now completely, unabashedly back into manga and anime. I’ve gradually found my way back for a little while, but this one event kicked all of that into gear. Which is fantastic! Mostly because it’s helped me broaden my horizons, and placed so much on my radar. So, let’s talk about it! Read More

A Crash Course in Manga – Part II

Last time we spoke about the origins of manga and the beginnings of the modern industry during post-war Japan. This was a difficult period, and adjustments had to be made. In their way, however, the industry started to flourish and the modern age of manga began.

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