Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Batman Day- the video!

Here is a video photo-montage of Batman Day from Saturday, July 26 at the Union West Library in Indian Trail. The video was made by Al Bigley with pictures from several sources. Al is a comic book and concept artist and his credits include working on the style guide art and the packaging art for products for Batman: The Animated Series. If you ever bought a toy from that line or a Happy Meal from McDonald's back then, then you were looking at Al's artwork- no matter where in the world you were. It goes without saying, Al is a Batman fan! Check out his blog here: http://bigglee.blogspot.com/

Monday, July 28, 2014

Batman Day Report!

Everybody wants to be Batman! That fact was made evidently clear to me when I saw the response to our Batman Day event at the Union West Library. Estimations put the crowd for our two hour event at about 160 people, and about 45 people enjoyed the movie, Subzero.
  We had a Joker ball toss game, a Batman and Villain logo matching game, a Justice League Soduku, and coloring pages, but it seemed the hit of the day was the Batrope Vs. Mr. Freeze's Tower where one child would build a tower from white foam blocks and another would toss a Batrope over it and try to pull the tower down. Just getting the rope where each player wanted was tougher than it looked- and at just four feet away! Plenty of bookmarks, coloring pages, posters, buttons, masks, tattoos, posters and comics were given out.
 Along with all of that, there was a drawing for comic packs,  Batman keychains and a Lego Batman set!
 It was a library, so naturally, all books and videos with any connection were put up on display for checkout- kids stuff in the children's area, the more graphic and adult stuff in the adult and teen area. Volunteers helped carry the day to successful close. Branch Manager Hannah Terrell handed out tickets for the drawings and popped popcorn for the movie. Circulation Manager Nancy Thompson came in on her day off and guided people into the building, ran the Joker ping-pong ball game, and helped with clean-up after the movie. Terri Savago in Children's donned her gear and was Bat-Gram, taking on all requests for books, taking pictures and helping to keep things on schedule. And the circulation staff handled the crowd while checking materials in and out and helping in the children's area.
 The featured guest was Batman who made an appearance in his "old-school" uniform along with the more modern Red Robin. 
Among the more interesting heroes in attendance was a Batman in flip-flops, a Captain America (what's HE doing here?!), and an amalgamation that could be Venom Batman or Batvenom! All in all, a very cool day of fun for our little Bat-fans!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Batman Day is Saturday! Batman Week part 4!

 You don't want to miss this one, folks! Saturday, from 2-4 pm at the Union West Library in Indian Trail there will be a celebration of Batman! Drive up in your Batmobile! Bring your little Bat-mite! Batman is 75 and we are going to have fun!
 To start- dress as your favorite DC Comics character- hero, villain or butler! Or bring or sign up for your own Super Powered Library Card! Then show us your outfit or super powered card to get a special prize pack! But hurry- these are limited to about 30!
 There will be coloring sheets, a memory game and a ball-toss game- all geared to get you stuff! You could get a Batman timeline poster, Batman buttons, bookmarks or even one of over 100 comics (of all kinds)!
 We will cap things off with a drawing where some lucky winners will get some incredible Batman keychains, or books, or----a Lego Batman set!! Then everyone can head into our theater for a special showing of Batman & Mr. Freeze- Subzero!

Check out all this Bat-cellent swag!

There is something for everyone in here!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Batman at his BEST! Batman week Part 3!

 Let the debate begin, but today's look at the Dark Knight looks at him at his best, and for me that means Batman, the Animated Series.
 What's their to love about this series, you ask? First, it ran for four seasons (honestly pretty good for a kids' cartoon!) and when it was done it spawned a number of other series including Superman, Batman Beyond, Justice League and Justice League Unlimited.
 Second- the look of the show was amazing. Bruce Timm designed the characters and their styles using simplified, angular lines that still looked impressive and unique from person to person. The backgrounds had a noir feel to them, and incorporated a lot of retro styled elements on the buildings, cars, planes and other things (like blimps). It was old school, it was contemporary and it was sci-fi all at once.
 Third- While it was still a guy in a costume chasing down other guys in costumes, the creators built a world where these scenarios could be plausible. There was real tension in scenes or between characters along with a lot of stories that continued to build the characters up. This is what pulled so many college kids and adults into the show- it was written for a broad audience.
 Fourth- Kevin Conroy's voice work on Batman and Bruce Wayne was spot on. Not so over the top like in the Nolan films and not straight-man funny like Adam West. When I read Batman now, I "hear" Batman with Conroy's voice.

 You are welcome to drop in at the Union West Library on Saturday, July 26 to debate which show or story run or movie was Batman at his best. We'll be celebrating 75 years of the Dark Knight with activities, give-aways and the Batman, the Animated Series movie, Subzero! Hope to see you there!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

You're only as interesting as your best villains! Batman Week Part 2!

Batman Day is fast approaching at the Union West Library in Indian Trail. Now exactly a week away, Batman Day will be Saturday, July 26 from 2-4 pm.
 Today, we look at the other side of what makes Batman great- the cast of villains he must fight to protect the streets and homes of Gotham City. here are five that top my list of Batman's foes, along with an honorable mention list.
1. First up is the Joker. Appearing in Batman #1 in 1940, this clever and crazy serial/mass murderer tops Batman's list of foes. He has crippled Bat Girl. He killed Jason Todd. He has had his own comic book series and in animation is voiced brilliantly by Mark Hammil, aka Luke Skywalker. Acting legend jack Nicholson portrayed him as completely homicidal as he made a power play for the heart and soul of Gotham, while the late Heath Ledger made the Joker so beyond crazy he was completely unpredictable. No one has given Batman more problems or been extended more mercy.
2. Mr. Freeze. His is a sad tale, of love found and lost. Mr. Freeze must rely on an environmental suit to keep his body temperature ridiculously low. At the same time, he is hoping for a cure for his condition, but more importantly, he is searching for a cure for his wife's terminal illness while he keeps her cryogenically put away. Unfortunately for Freeze, he has often chosen to try and do away with Batman instead of saving his wife first.
3. Two-Face. The battle of Good vs Evil in one man, Harvey Dent is a former Gotham prosecutor now turned criminal after his face was horribly disfigured on one side. With the guidance of his lucky coin, Two-Face makes decisions on what crimes to commit and who lives or dies based on a flip of the coin.

Honorable mentions: Riddler, Hush, Penguin, Clayface, Killer Croc, Ra's Al Ghul, the Ventriloquist & Scarface, Mad Hatter, Scarecrow, Hugo Strange, Bane, Poison Ivy, Composite Superman, and Harley Quinn.

Need a good laugh? Look up these guys: Condiment King, Kite Man, Quilted Man/ Quilted King, Calendar Man.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Celebrating 75 Years of the Dark Knight!

 This opening scene from Batman (1989) set the tone for the film, and along with Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns series, set the standard for Batman for a whole new generation of comic book fanboys and girls and movie goers.
 Gone was the campy fun of a man dressed in tights  being taken seriously by  authority figures. Batman had returned to his roots- a dark, fearsome figure, meeting out justice on criminals of all levels when the criminal justice system is not able to handle the case loads, or because of bureaucratic loopholes that allowing criminals to walk without consequences. I forget what issue of Detective Comics it was, but Batman was talking to a thug and the thug said he wouldn't be convicted. "Probably not," Batman said. "That just means instead of dealing with inmates, you'll keep dealing with me." The thug then turned himself in and confessed.
 This year, Batman/ Bruce Wayne turns 75 years old, right on the heels of Superman who turned 75 last year. Both characters were created for National Comics and they each represented opposite ends of the superhero spectrum. Superman is alien, endowed with incredible abilities- flight, speed, heat & x-ray vision, super-hearing, physical invulnerability, ridiculous strength, advanced technology. There isn't much Superman can't do.
 But Batman might be the ultimate in wish-fulfillment. Millionaire (now Billionaire) single guy and ladies man, who uses his resources to educate himself as broadly and completely as humanly possible and to train his body in martial arts, endurance and survival, and equipping himself with the greatest cutting-edge technology and exclusive devices. Add in the masked, secret identity and Batman can drive 170 mph all over Gotham, break down doors, beat people up, blow things to bits and come home and go back to being Bruce Wayne and party like it's 1999 again.
 Superman was made powerful- Batman makes himself powerful.
 In his 75 years, Batman has been the mentor to a whole array of crime fighters- beginning with Robin, the Boy Wonder (Dick Grayson) who would become Nightwing and moving on to characters like Bat Woman, Batgirl (who would become Oracle), Spoiler (who would become a Robin and then a Batgirl), Red Hood (Jason Todd- a former Robin who died then became the good-guy version of the Red Hood), Red Robin (who was another Robin!), Damien Wayne (a son of Bruce, raised by the villain Ra's Al Ghul and his daughter Talia), Azrael the Assassin (who filled-in as Batman when Bane broke Batman's back), Huntress, Catwoman, Cat Girl (who was a girl Robin the The Dark Knight Returns), the team called The Outsiders, the team called Young Justice, and the Teen Titans AND he even had a hand in forming the Justice League of America.
 Batman has immersed himself into our culture in his 75 years- from comics and newspaper strips, to radio shows and movie serials, to Saturday morning and after-school cartoons to blockbuster films and video games, to action figures and Lego sets to statues and art-house collectibles, to t-shirts and ball caps to amazing cosplay outfits that show up at big events. Here's to Batman, Alfred, Robin, Wayne Manor, the Batcave and every Arkham Asylum inmate past, present and future for giving us a fun ride of 75 years and we look forward to at least 75 more!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Cartooning Club July 17- Space Heroes and Guardians of the Galaxy

Thursday, July 17 at 5:30 is our next Cartooning Club at the Union West Library in Indian Trail. Last month we focused on Batman, preparing for his big 75th anniversary. This Thursday, we will learn about space heroes like Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, Adam Strange and of course, the Guardians of the Galaxy.
 In addition, someone at the Cartooning Club is going to win a copy of Marvel Presents #10 from 1976, featuring the origin of Starhawk! No, I don't mean Star Lord, I mean Starhawk. The Guardians is actually one of the older Marvel teams, going back to 1969, but the original roster was 100% different than the current group.
Buck got his start in pulp magazines.
 The Guardians are in the 31st century of an alternate timeline. Led by Major Vance Astro, a 20th century American astronaut, the team includes Charlie-27 from Jupiter, Martinex T'Naga from Pluto, Yondu from Alpha Centari B, Starhawk and Nikki.

The new team consists of Groot, the walking talking tree, Star Lord, Rocket Racoon, Drax the Destroyer & Gamora.

 The Cartooning Club is free and open to all those interested. 

Alex Raymond's art on Flash Gordon still amazes!

The new Guardians!

Win this comic!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Heroes Con 2014 late post

 Heroes Con in Charlotte happened LAST month in Charlotte, but things have been busy and keeping me away from certain projects- like updating the blog. My youngest son went with me and we had a blast! The place was pretty full on Saturday, despite the wide aisles and long tables at the artists' booths.
 After my son finished donning his Winter Soldier gear, we made our way down the first line by the restrooms we noticed a lot of the guys at these tables were Yankees! Maybe it just worked out that, but a bunch of artists from up north were put between the men's and women's restrooms. Poor guys!
 The first artist I went and found was Jeremy Dale and his wife. I had the pleasure of catching up with them at Free Comic Book Day, so it was really nice to see them again just a month later! We talked a little about Skyward, and how his style reminded me of the late Mike Weiringo's art, and what kinds of projects Mr. Dale might be eyeing in the future.
 Next up was Joe Staton, a long-time comics veteran who now does Dick Tracy. I had only found out a few weeks before the Con that Dick Tracy was still being published as a strip, so I was excited to meet the man who was keeping the old gangbuster going! I also caught up with Dave McDonald, who has two Hamster Sam books out right now, and Marcus Hamilton from Dennis the Menace. On the same block with Dave and Marcus was Kevin Siers, editorial cartoonist for the Charlotte Observer, John Rose who has been doing the Snuffy Smith & Barney Google strip, and the legendary Roy Thomas! Siers MIGHT be open to doing an appearance at our Cartooning Club in the Fall- stay tuned! Rose talked to us for quite awhile about how newspaper strips are having to change as newspapers either close shop or move to online content. He also talked about how he is gradually trying to work Barney Google back into the strip he once was the feature of, and how Snuffy Smith has also changed through the years, like being able to read where at one time he couldn't.
 Wooly McNair was at the show displaying his Black Panda series. The man has a great vision to go into the schools and share the basics of how comics are made and read in an effort to encourage more interest in literacy in children. I can't wait to see what he comes up with. Budd Root was there as well, and I might be wrong but he looked like he had something- a new project or idea or whatever, going on in the back of his mind. He looked so happy and comfortable drawing, but also so involved.
 Overall, it was crowded, a bit noisy, we did not get to see everyone we wanted to, we could have certainly used another $40-60 in spending money, and we had to leave before getting to try our hands at the annual drawing challenge- but it was a fun and exciting atmosphere with TONS of cosplay going on, and an extremely family friendly environment. The best thing is Heroes Con is still a comic book convention that actually focuses on comics and the people who made or still make them in all their myriad forms, styles and genres.
Gambit & Rogue

Hanging with the Empire

Felicia Har- I mean, Black Cat!

Riddle's Messy Wardrobe had an impressive original WASP outfit.

The newer Capt. Marvel outfit was already on the con circuit!

Winter Soldier is as tall as Thor?!

His and Her Winter Soldier outfits!

John Rose and Roy Thomas

Friends my son and I met at FCBD. Sadly, I don't remember their names...

Winter Soldier can shoot with his eyes closed!

Gotham by Gaslight Batman

Formerly known as the Justice League?

501st Shadow Trooper


Striking up a conversation!

Agent Carter

Joe Stanton

Marcus Hamilton