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Posts Tagged ‘Bill Willingham

For dubbing our San Diego condo “Hive Five Headquarters,” we sure were quiet during the actual convention. Surely, the other blogs were covering all of the actual news stuff (OMG EYE-STABS) while we were out, you know, having fun and stuff. But we wouldn’t be much of a comic blog if we didn’t talk about San Diego Comic-Con itself, so here’s the day-by-day goings on through the eyes of us High Fivers.

Wednesday, July 21

Not much really goes on at Preview Night, but it’s always nice to get the lay of the land. Early access to the floor and first pick of whatever is for sale is cool and all, but that’s more or less all that happens. The highlight of Preview Night (for me) was definitely getting Bill Willingham to sign my copies of Ironwood #7-10 (pfft, don’t judge me). He was shocked when I pulled them out of their bags, and for a minute I thought the whole exchange was going to be super-awkward, but then he jovially asked for our I.D. cards and starting sharing some insider information with us, like how his former studio mates’ mugs are hidden in the cover art of issue #10.

Maggie’s Preview Night highlight? Shaking Michael Dorn’s hand and mumbling “Thank you,” like a big dumb fangirl.

Aside from that, I managed to pick up Power Man and Iron Fist #50, Flash Volume 1 #289 (first Firestorm back-up, the first thing George Pérez ever did professionally) and DC Comics Presents #17 (Superman and Firestorm team-up, a huge hole in my Ronnie Raymond collection). Hell yes.

Thursday, July 22

All the other blogs are putting in their two cents about this, so we might as well follow suit. Yes, Westboro Baptist Church protested Comic-Con and it’s “worship of false idols.” While High Five! unilaterally agreed with Warren Ellis’ plan of “ignore, ignore, ignore,” some attendees opted to counter-protest. Whatever, go for it. My biggest problem was that while most of the signs mocked religious intolerance (I did laugh at “the Cylons destroyed the 12 Colonies for your sins” and Maggie loved the “Kill All Humans!” sign wielded by a Bender),  some of the signs in the counter-protest (namely “Fuck God”) were just as offensive as Westboro’s signs, more or less giving Phelps and crew exactly what they wanted. Oops.

Inside the convention center, we got Hava all badged up and headed straight for the “BOOM! Irredeemable/Incorruptible” panel. Highlights included the potential for character-specific one-shot tie-ins and listening to Waid and Peter Krause discuss their writing process. Oh, and the Irreedemable perfumes by Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab (friends of Hava’s, plug plug plug).

Later we hit up the “Mondo Marvel” and “DC Comics 75th Anniversary” panels. Holy shit, I could listen to Dennis O’Neil (Green Lantern/Green Arrow!) and Jerry Robinson (creator of Alfred, Robin, and the freakin’ Joker!) talk all day. Fun Fact: According to Jerry Robinson, Batman’s sidekick was NOT named after the bird, but after Robinson’s own childhood nickname.

Maggie and Hava tried to hit up the “Geek Girls Exist” panel but the place was well over capacity and half-full of dudes. Bummer! Still, rather than pout, the girls gave up getting in and held their own Geek Girls panel at a bar on Fifth Street, because this is San Diego Comic-Con, and you can always find something awesome to do when your original plan falls apart. Big congratulations to the Geek Girls’ Network for hosting a massively successful panel!

Later on, Maggie went over to w00tstock and met Wil Wheaton and Aaron Douglas and Matt Fraction while Hava, Jon, and I went to the BOOM! Studios’ Fifth Anniversary Drink-Up and spent upwards of an hour and a half chatting up Peter Krause. Hell of a way to end a night.

Friday, July 23

Friday was Room 6DCE day. After sitting through the “Marvel Video Games” panel (and, I’ll admit, “Marvel vs. Capcom 3” looks pretty rad), the barrage of DC panels began.

First up was “Spotlight on Grant Morrison” and, my god, that was entertaining. Between his bajillion impressions, he announced the release of an Absolute We3 and revealed that Seaguy: Eternal will be coming sooner rather than later.

Next up was the “Batman: The Return” panel. The stage was packed, with Grant Morrison, Bryan Q. Miller, Gail Simone, Paul Dini, Paul Cornell, Judd Winick, Scott Snyder, Frazer Irving, David Finch, Dustin Nguyen, and Mike Marts (I probably forgot somebody). Biggest news was that Morrison will be replaced by Peter Tomasi on Batman and Robin while Morrison starts a new Batman team-up book called Batman Inc. Paul Cornell will also write Knight and Squire (which we’re all pretty psyched for) and a Batman Beyond ongoing was hinted at. Also, the whole panel kept joking about how Dick Grayson is about to get “a bullet in the brain” meaning that I’m pretty sure Jon and I were right (at least about something).

Next was the “Superman: Man of Tomorrow” panel with J. Michael Straczynski, Jeff Lemire, Sterling Gates, Shane Davis, and Paul Cornell. Straczynski discussed his upcoming run on the “Grounded” storyline in Superman (nothing we didn’t already know) and the Superman: Earth One graphic novel he’s writing, with art by Shane Davis. Cornell revealed that Neil Gaiman’s Death will be a major character in Action Comics #894. The biggest news (to us, at least) was that the Phantom Stranger would be a major character in an upcoming Superboy book by Jeff Lemire. YES.

The last panel of the day was “DC Nation.” Dan DiDio, Straczynski, Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, and Jim Lee (flanked by fans in costumes, including a Darkseid who stayed frighteningly in-character) revealed a few future projects, but nothing too crazy. Mostly that Geoff Johns will write a book starring Bart Allen and the other speedsters called Flash: Speed Force, that he’s writing a Dex-Starr Valentine’s Day special, and that he has an upcoming secret project with Grant Morrison.

On the way out, after nearly six hours parked in 6DCE, we ran into fellow blogger Kelson from Speed Force. Who’d have thought people from the internet have, like, faces and stuff!

Maggie and Hava headed over to the Geek Girls Tweet-Up while Jon and I went to Tweet House Party on the U.S.S. Midway and watched William Shatner, Brent Spiner, and LeVar Burton promote a website they knew nothing about and then run away to a VIP area. At least we got to be serenaded by Alice Cooper’s son’s band (Oh God. No).

Saturday, July 24

By this point, we were exhausted, and we still needed to get a ton of shopping done. The only panel we attended on Saturday was “Avatar Press and Max Brooks” where they talked endlessly about Crossed and Lady Death before casually mentioning that Warren Ellis is working on a second volume to Ignition City and that Supergod #4 is fiiiiinally ready to ship next Wednesday. While there wasn’t much news on the Ellis at Avatar front, listening to Max Brooks riff for 45 minutes was a hoot. He even touched on inter-fandom animosity, saying, “Everyone gets to have something, even teenage girls who are afraid of penises. Suck my blood, but don’t touch my tits!”

The rest of the day was dedicated to buying books and gathering sketches (we’ll share those in a separate post) and autographs. Jon managed to track down a sweet copy of October 1976’s Captain Britain #1 (complete with mask) and Maggie got June 1967’s Strange Adventures #201 (featuring an old Animal Man story that’s screaming for the Silver Age Recap treatment).

The most awesome thing of all, however, was talking extensively with Frazer Irving (who drew a three-second Batman for Maggie even though he wasn’t supposed to) and getting a bunch of books signed by Grant Morrison. Oh, and this.

We win at everything.

Sunday, July 25

I guess Hall H had nothing going on because the Exhibit Hall was fucking packed. Everybody walking past the immense line to get signatures and sketches from Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, and Francis Manapul asked what the deal was and then walked away, unimpressed by some of the best artists in the business.

Maggie gathered 3 out of 4 signatures for her copy of 52 #1 last weekend, with a bit of Con luck on Sunday. We were talking with Greg Rucka at the Oni Booth about some of his upcoming books, including the next issue of Stumptown and a new Queen & Country novel.  As Rucka signed some comics for Maggie, up walked Geoff Johns. Rucka signed 52, then turned around and handed it to Johns for her. The two writers shared an “Aw! Remember the good old days!?” moment, and Maggie did a fist pump because in case you didn’t know, now that Johns is running half the DCU, his signing lines are enormous.

The only panel we attended on Sunday was the “DC Town Hall Meeting.” Dan DiDio and Jim Lee really, really wanted to know what we thought of digital comics. (Answer: We like them, but don’t you dare fuck with our weekly books.) Also, Maggie may have terrfied poor Mr. DiDio. He brought it on himself though, when he asked (albeit jokingly) if she didn’t mean to be at a Harry Potter panel instead.  Sorry, DiDio. You mess with the bull, you get the horns.

We’ve got more San Diego news in store, including some reviews and the High Five! Sketchbook, San Diego edition. Stay tuned!

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Who says that fairy tales are just for kids? Bill Willingham’s Fables has more than enough intrigue, politics, and drama to fill any number of high-brow literary works. Fables succeeds magnificently at molding the fairy tales you loved as a child into a grown-up saga without ruining your childhood (case in point: Alan Moore’s Lost Girls. Now THAT was a scarring experience). Fables is brilliant because it works on multiple levels. It’s comedy, romance, mystery, and action all at once without denigrating into crass parody. Although some characters are more integral to the story than others, Fables never focuses on just one main character – it’s like a Robert Altman film turned comic book fairy tale. Fables isn’t just a great work of comic book fiction, it’s a great work of fiction, period, proof enough to shut up all the naysayers who believe comics are just for teenage boys and adults caught in arrested development.

Fables begins in modern day New York, where Snow White, her sister Rose Red, King Cole and many others have been exiled after escaping their homelands, fleeing a mysterious threat known only as “The Adversary.” It can be said of many series that they start off a little weak, but only get better as the series goes on. This isn’t quite true for Fables, because while it isn’t weak by any means, the early issues don’t even hint at how rich and complex the world of Fabletown becomes as the series progresses. Volume One opens with Snow White, who is now the right-hand woman of Mayor King Cole, tracking down her sister’s murderer. Things aren’t quite what they seem of course, and as Fables unfolds over 82 issues, events snowball and lead up to the big showdown, in which the villian is unveiled and kingdoms are restored… for a time.

What makes Fables so special is that seemingly minor characters end up as major players later on, significantly altering the lives of the Fable-town residents and becoming more important than they (and the reader) ever imagined they could be. They’re the ones we root the loudest and cry the hardest for. These characters aren’t the elevated paragons of perfection, clear-cut black and white archetypes that we’re used to from traditional fairy tales. They are imperfect beings, with frail relationships handled expertly by Bill Willingham. Prince Charming is a cad who’s had three wives (Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White, respectively). Snow White and Bigby Wolf have their own relationship problems, him being a wolf the least of them. The most stable relationship in the series is Beauty and the Beast’s. Healthy relationships are almost never interesting in fiction, (and really, who wants to read about happy couples?), but theirs is possibly the most fun, playful and yes, sexy healthy relationship I’ve come across in fiction, ever. No small feat.

And, like any great work of fiction, there is inevitable tragedy. The heartbreak of failed love between two characters is as devastating as the happy ones are uplifting. Late in the series, a final goodbye between a will-they-won’t-they pair ends not in forgiveness, but with one character revealing the hard, unvarnished truth about the other’s shortcomings. And it’s as painful for her to hear as it is for us, as Willingham knowingly wrenches our hearts by wrenching hers. He doesn’t let her off easy, even on his deathbed. And it just breaks your heart in half.

Most series would be content to wrap things up neatly in a bow and leave the residents of Fabletown to their happiness and content, but Bill Willingham never takes the easy route. It doesn’t end in “Happily Ever After” because, just like life, these stories will go on, even after we close the pages of the book.

-Hava

dc1I know I promised this article like, a month ago in that post about the apes, but bear with me, I’ve been busy. Also, I forgot. Also, shut up.

I freaking love Detective Chimp. Wait, why do I love Detective Chimp? Is it the fact he’s a raging alcoholic? That he is a member of the Shadowpact, a sort of supernatural police force? That he’s been around since August, 1952? That he was once Doctor Fate? That he can speak and write in every language ever (no exaggeration)? Or maybe it’s that he’s a freaking detective chimpanzee (and occasionally helps freaking Batman via instant message)? Oh, it’s totally yes to all of these.

dc2In every version of Detective Chimp’s (aka Bobo T. Chimpanzee aka Magnificent Finder of Tasty Grubs) origin, he started out as a regular old chimp. He was part of a circus sideshow where he’d wear a Holmes-style hat and solved little crimes by hitting “yes” or “no” buttons. His handler, Fred Thorpe, was good to him and so Bobo loved him back. Now, there are two ways this can go. There’s the pre-Crisis version where Thorpe dies, Bobo helps the sheriff solve the murder, and Bobo ends up becoming the sidekick of Rex the Wonder Dog. Then there’s the post-Crisis Day of Vengeance version where Bobo just kinda slips away in Florida and meets up with Rex. Either way, they end up sipping from the Fountain of Youth and Bobo becomes Detective Chimp! Unfortunately, chimps don’t have the same legal benefits as people, so when none of the clients from Bobo’s detective agency paid their bills, he got closed down and took up drinking. Tough break.

When Rex the Wonder Dog was canceled in 1959, Detective Chimp pretty much got buried with it. He didn’t return again until a co-feature in 1981’s DC Comics Presents#35 entitled “Whatever Happened to Rex the Wonder Dog?” After this, he was quietly snuck into one panel in 1985’s Crisis on Infinite Earths #11 and from then on occasionally popped up in other books as comic relief.

dc3Finally, in 2005 Bill Willingham (yeah, the Fables guy) did an Infinite Crisis tie-in called Day of Vengeance which put the good detective back in the spotlight. He formed the Shadowpact to combat the newly host-less Spectre, who was going batshit crazy after being tricked by Eclipso into thinking that all magic was evil. They stop the Spectre, but end up losing Hammond Hall, the current Doctor Fate in the process. Captain Marvel chucked the helmet into space so it could seek out whoever was worthy, and it ended up landing back down and conking Bobo in the dome. For the duration of the Helmet of Fate: Detective Chimp (man, I have no idea why I don’t own this), he was Doctor Fate. In the end, he realizes he isn’t worthy, throws it on to the next guy, and keeps rolling with the Shadowpact. He was most recently spotted (along with the rest of the Shadowpact team) in Keith Giffen’s Reign in Hell limited series.

Anywho, I pretty much love this character because of how fucking absurd he is. I mean, he runs around drinking from a flask, saving the world from demi-gods, in a shirt that says “everybody sucks but me.” Long ways to go, for a guy who played second banana to the puppy dog equivalent to Captain America. My only question, why can’t I find any evidence of there ever being a Detective Chimp action figure?

Getting your mom into comics might very well be an impossible task for a lot of people, but here at High Five! we’re always trying to drag others down with us. Here are a few valiant ideas for getting your mom into comics.
Is your mom into 24? CSINCIS Las Miami? Or even just Law & Order? Then give her Greg Rucka’s Queen and Country, starring Tara Chace designated Minder One, spy extraordinaire for her royal majesty the Queen of England. She’s a british lady spy, and no one writes strong female characters quite like Greg Rucka. Pick up the Definitive Editio, Vol. 1 from Oni Press. Tara Chace could kick Jack Bauer’s ass and STILL have time to go to the bathroom. From there you could probably get her involved in Rucka’s Wonder Woman work, beginning with Bitter Rivals.
Or maybe your mom is more into the fantastic. Did she like The Princess Bride? Or Labyrinth? Or really any of those weird 80s fantasy movies? Give her Fables. Fables is the story of fairy tale and folklore characters exiled in New York. The first two trades are a bit all over the place, but once Willingham and Sturges got this book going, it rose above it’s premise and became totally awesome. I’ve found that Fables is generally a good entry point for anyone – new readers already KNOW the backgrounds of these characters, there’s no sense of being overwhelmed by decades of continuity and in-jokes.

Getting your mom into comics might very well be an impossible task for a lot of people, but here at High Five! we’re always trying to drag others down with us. Here are a few valiant ideas for getting your mom into comics.

onibk_322Is your mom into 24? CSINCIS Las Miami? Or even just Law & Order? Then give her Greg Rucka’s Queen and Country *, starring Tara Chace, designated Minder Two, spy extraordinaire for her royal majesty the Queen of England. She’s a british lady spy, and no one writes strong female characters quite like Greg Rucka. Pick up the Definitive Edition, Vol. 1 from Oni Press. Tara Chace could kick Jack Bauer’s ass and STILL have time to go to the bathroom. From there you could probably get your mom involved in Rucka’s Wonder Woman run.

fablesOr maybe your mom is more into the fantastic. Did she like The Princess Bride? Or Labyrinth? Or really any of those weird 80s fantasy movies? Give her Fables. Fables is the story of fairy tale and folklore characters exiled in New York. The first two trades are a bit all over the place, but once Willingham and Sturges got this book going, it rose above it’s premise and became totally awesome. I’ve found that Fables is generally a good entry point for anyone – new readers already KNOW the backgrounds of these characters, there’s no sense of being overwhelmed by decades of continuity and in-jokes.

glrebirthWhat about a Star Trek mom? I know people have Star Trek moms, cos I was at a buddy’s graduation party once and I made a joke about Romulan ale. Then his mom bopped over to me making Romulan jokes and I spent the rest of the party talking to her. Oddly enough, I’m going to recommend you take her straight to the super-heroes. Green Lantern: Rebirth. Geoff Johns sets up a great big space opera in this title, and it’s still running to this day. It’s damned good, and I’ve seen new readers who’ve never even HEARD of Green Lantern convert to DC after reading this title. This book pretty much requires a mom that was already a total geek.

Of course, all of these options assume that your mom is already at least a little bit of a media-junkie. If your mom isn’t really into TV or movies, you might be out of luck – some moms are just never, ever gonna read a funny book.

*Queen & Country #1 for free! You’ll need a program to unzip & read it.


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