Chicken Showers and Cursmudgeons: Boston Comic Con 2016 Wrap Party

 

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This was my 3rd Boston Comic Con and I did the worst I’ve ever done at this show.

I also had a fabulous time.

To explain: At cons I get a table, table costs money, most shows I make my “table money” back selling my books and prints and whatnot. Last year at Boston Comic Con I actually sold out of my book and made a nice stash of extra cash. I enjoyed this. This year I did just okay, made maybe 2/3rds of my table back but still, I had a good time.

I went home with ink stained fingers (a result of putting artsy smudges over my art) and still hating humanity but only as much as I love it.

Mostly I had a good time because I go to these things not just to sell my stuff and make my table money back at least (that is nice though) I go to get out of my fucking cave and see what my work does to people when they see it.

To see someone freak out over one of my prints, to watch them paw through my portfolio of originals and see the expression on their face change, to see it light up when they turn the page; to watch them read the back synopsis of Nefarious Twit and tell me, “This sounds great.” that’s the stuff I’ll go to conventions for.

I also go to talk to the rest of the folks who are busy practicing alchemy in their own caves. All my friends at Bad Kid Press who I share convention space with, all the talented creators who I’ve gotten to know in the Boston scene, all the pros who I get to talk shop or watch create on the spot; I learn something from everybody. And we find common ground.

Highlights this year for me:

Erik Larsen

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I’ve been reading Savage Dragon by Erik Larsen since it came out 20 years ago, met him once before in New York City, and this weekend my friend Jeff told me his line was finally gone at the end of the last day of the con so I frantically tried to draw my version of The Dragon for Erik to have but I kept screwing up the fin! So I went for one of my personal favorites from The Dragon’s rogues gallery (and an easy one to draw) and drew up Mr. Glum and me and Jeff walked over to Erik’s table and I gave him my scribbles. Larsen’s a totally nice guy, thanked me for it and asked me what pens I use and then talked to us about his own tools of the trade; even showed Jeff and I some of his pages and where he used his different tools.

This is a man who drew some of the first Spider-Man comics I ever read.

That’s why I go to cons.

Chicken Showers

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It was a very hot and sticky con this year, it was 95 degrees outside on Saturday in Boston, and we at Bad Kids Press might have had the hottest corner of the con (air conditioner was deader than disco hanging above us) so by the end of the day on Saturday I was a sweaty, hungry husk of a comic book creator. I take the train and then a bus to get home from the convention center so it’s about an hour and some change until I get back to where I live. I packed a nice little lunch for the con but didn’t have dinner at all so when I got home I immediately dropped all my art supplies, threw off my sweat-soaked clothes, tore open the fridge and grabbed a piece of chicken I cooked the night before and promptly took it with me into the shower and there, with no shame whatsoever, devoured it like some sort of feral, loofah using king.

Chicken showers are glorious; do try them if you have the chance.

This whole ordeal, this was a highlight.

Baby Groot is my Homie

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Guess what else was, I know a baby who’s become internet famous. My friends Dave and Tracie have a baby named Charlie and these cruel caregivers are constantly dressing up this little crumbsnatcher in various outlandish garbs. The child is too young to walk or voice his protest so he could not stop his folks from dressing him as Baby Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy. Photos were taken at the con and now Charlie’s beautiful mug has taken over the internet and has been featured on Entertainment Weekly and whatnot. Oh, and the director of the movie himself tweeted the pic of Charlie as a reveal of how Groot will appear in the sequel.

That, that is why I go to con.

Also, I was 5 feet away from Gillian Anderson as she walked past me.

That is why I do anything.

So I can tell my 14 year-old self, “Dude, you’re never gonna guess what happened.”

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I’ll Be At Boston Comic Con This Saturday and Sunday

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I love being at Boston Comic Con.

I’ve done New York and a few other cons scattered throughout New England and Boston is my favorite.

I will be making my third appearance with Bad Kids Press there; we’ll be in the gulags at Artist Alley at tables E1000-1003. I’ll be taking over an entire half table myself and it will be spilling over with my prints, original art, copies of my novel Nefarious Twit, copies of the graphic novel I made with artist Catalina Rufin titled Oblivion Suite and whatever the hell else I feel like slapping down.

Sorry to be so forward.

I enjoy hawking my wares but the most fun I have at cons are the conversations. Real, lively conversations between me and other fans, between me and creators who I admire and between creators I’m just finding out about. There’s too much talent in the world and I am in possession of far too little of it.

Luckily when I leave a good con I always feel a recharge on my batteries and I set to plugging away again so I can nab more of it.

If you’re at the con this year come find me (Artist Alley E1000-1003) and we can argue about why Stranger Things isn’t as good as everyone says it is. Also we can plot to steal more of that talent for ourselves.

Oh,

I’m selling Nefarious Twit at a special con price of $12 a pop

Oblivion Suite will be discounted to $10 a piece too.

Large color prints, (22×14) $10 bucks

Smaller color prints, (8×14) $5 bucks

I’ll have some original art with me, pick one you like and talk to me, and we’ll hash out a deal.

Here’s a little preview I’ve been busy getting in the drawing mood:

                                                Click and Scroll Through

It Takes A Nation of Minions to Hold Us Back

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I need to get a job, and I know I’m not the only one. Because unemployment is still more widespread in this country than eyebrow piercings at a Juggalo Gathering (low-hanging fruit, snatch) or “coexist” stickers at an Ani DiFranco concert’s parking lot (this being fruit that’s resting on the ground).  And like a lot of people currently looking for work, this is the first time in my life, at least since I was 15, that I haven’t had an actual job.

And I haven’t had a real job in a long time.  Not since I hurt my back working at a medical warehouse lifting heavy shit and loading up trucks. Sure, I’m a world famous novelist now thanks to my book Nefarious Twit, and I got legions of fans from as far away as Mongolia but I still need to make some extra cabbage. Also some benefits would be nice. But living as I do now, off the corpse of the old world, hustling together funds as a freelancer and novelist, I’ve learned one important thing about myself: I miss wearing a uniform and hating humanity.

For some reason those two things seem to go hand in hand.

So I’ve decided to get back out into the workforce the best way I know how, with lethal force. I’ve decided that the only job I’m now fit for is becoming a professional henchman. You heard me, costumed villainy seems like the most rewarding livelihood I can aspire to now after the drudgery and degradation of professional wordsmithing.

But I need to find the right gig. One that gives me a kickass suit along with some nice bennies, because I need to get the snaggle-trap that I call my mouth to a dentist immediately. But most importantly I need to find a hench-job that won’t end up getting me killed by some heroic dickweed.

Here are my options, these are the finest organizations that a tenderhoof, aspiring minion like myself could hope to join. Let’s compare packages and see what would get me the most not-dead as well as a decent 401k plan.

The Foot Clan

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Yep, those Californian Raisin masked, ninja goons that work for Shredder who get their asses handed back to them routinely by the Ninja Turtles.

Pros: Okay, even though I was banking on the purple outfits, those actually only belong to the animated version of The Foot, who are all robots, (lousy scab robots taking all our jobs) the live-action Foot wear sexy and slimming black pajamas with weird, mesh bugged-out eye-protectors. I happen to think I’d fill one of those out nicely.

Cons: Upper management are incompetent dicks. Obviously, this is going to be a problem no matter who you hench for but it’s really painfully apparent here with The Foot. First off, you have a buffoon like Shredder as your number 1 boss. Shredder, who’s wearing a sparkly purple body suit that looks like the outfit that Eddie Murphy passed on wearing for Raw because it looked too gaudy.

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On the real, his shit was so bedazzled it looked like Liza Minnelli, Liberace and Robocop getting into a sequined purse fight as J.J Abrams filmed the whole thing. … What I’m trying to say is that it was shiny.

Second off, you gotta deal with boss number 2, the bald guy Tatsu. Tatsu, who not only has a name which sounds like a fake lesbian Russia pop duo (seriously, they might not even be Russian) but the guy looks like the Grumpy Internet Cat doing a DeNiro impression. I can’t take orders from this guy.

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Concerns: Does joining The Foot mean I have to renounce Pizza? Because if so, that’s a problem.

 

A.I.M.

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Marvel Comics’ “Advanced Idea Mechanics,” a bunch of evil scientists dressed like scary Devo trying to take over the world or build a time machine so Firefly was never canceled or something.

Pros: With your new bitchin’ yellow hazmat suit you can strap on your walkman and crank some Van Halen while you do the best Marty McFly from Back to the Future disguised as “Darth Vader from the Planet Vulcan” impression ever attempted.

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Cons: Working under M.O.D.O.K., the ridiculously giant-headed floating grimace on a hoverchair who’s prone to screeching. I think I’d rather work at a burger stand under the Napoleonistic command of a 16-year-old “Manager on Duty” with a pimple decorated wispy moustache than take orders from this tiny-armed hover turd.

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Concerns: Math. Science. Math-Science. Any number or fact heavy research really. Actually anything with the words “advanced” or “mechanics” usually frightens me. I’m not crazy about “ideas” either to tell the truth.

Stormtroopers

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These aren’t the droids you’re look—fuck you, you’ve seen Star Wars. Even if you haven’t seen Star Wars, you’ve seen Star Wars. You know who these dinks are.

Pros: I’m guessing since you’re part of a giant outer space fascist regime that the bennies and pay have got to be pretty good. Right?

Cons: These guys do tend to get killed a lot. And even if you happen to survive long enough to get promoted there’s always the hanging threat of getting force choked by your supervisor.

Concerns: Wait, those were the droids I was looking for. Shiiit.

Crazy 88

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Pros: Sweet Kano mask. Also, there’s a lady in charge, nice to know I’ll be joining such a progressive group of killers.

Cons: Did you see Kill Bill? The Bride didn’t even let them keep their severed limbs. Yeah, the lucky few who came out of that internal organ super soaker blood fight alive weren’t even allowed to pick up their hands and feet in hopes to get them reattached. F that.

Concerns: Actually it might be hard to figure out which appendage belongs to you since everybody’s wearing matching suits. Hopefully she cut off your weapon hand and you have your initials written on your katana or battleaxe or whatever. Kinda like when your mom used to write your name on your lunchbox just in case some other dweeb had the exact same tin Thundercats food suitcase as you….moms.

Cobra

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Pros: Kid’s show,  so nobody ever dies. Seriously, you could get shot down in a jet and you would always wind up parachuting safely down to the ground so you could hench again next week.

Cons: Being a lowly “blueshirt” Cobra Trooper seems pretty choice, what with the never getting shot angle, but the downside is working under Cobra Commander. A backstabbing, tantrum throwing maniac, who possess perhaps the most piercing and nasal shriek in cartoon history. Imagine getting reprimanded by that voice every day of your life. Even worse, just imagine that voice telling you, “Good job” or “Yeah, I’m going to need you to come in on Saturday. That would be great.”

Concerns: Baroness and Destro seem like swingers, am I right? What are the chances of a Cobra key party happening? And will Tomax and Xamot reenact my Wincest fan fiction?

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The Monarch’s Henchmen

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The butterfly guys who look like they have Cyclops from X-Men’s old skullcap on. 21, 24, come on, “Let me tell you a story about a little henchman named Speedy…”

Pros: You’re on the best show currently still being produced. Also Dr. Girlfriend, sorry, Dr. Mrs. The Monarch is super capable and a brilliant leader unfortunately…

Cons: Brock Samson is going to kill you (see the aforementioned Speedy.) Why? Because Dr. Mrs. The Monarch is only the number 2 in this operation and her husband The Monarch still calls most of the shots. This might be the cushiest job in organized evil if Dr. Mrs. The Monarch didn’t let her love blind her (mostly) to the fact that her husband is an obsessed, childish manboy with poor planning skills who not only routinely fails at his objectives but is constantly sending his henchmen to their deaths from his lack of foresight.

Concerns: I just hope 21 likes me, because I like him and I want us to be friends.

 

Gayboy Berserkers or Smegma Crazies

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These are the leather-clad wasteland warriors who work for Lord Humongous (You know, the Ayatollah of rock and rolla) from Mad Max: The Road Warrior.  Apparently there is some sort of sexual preference caste system at play here.

Pros: Depends what you’re into I suppose.

Cons: I really don’t do well out in the sun for too long. Granted, I may  be fashioned with some kinky sort of leather gimp suit but I think I might even cook worse in that. When might I expect some sort of Nuclear winter? Perhaps I can just do this marauder thing on the offseason?

Concerns:

Gayboy Berserker seems pretty clear and concise to me, but what exactly are the duties and proclivities of a Smegma Crazy? Does it just mean you’re into both sexes and you’re really hygiene-conscious or just really fixated on that particular bodily substance, its accumulation and even (possibly) its acquirement?

Basically, I am nothing but concerns on this one.

Final Thoughts

If you’re thinking that it’s a bit of a stretch that I’m actively seeking a job in costumed villainy consider this:

“Fast food gives people diabetes and clothing stores have sweatshops, is there a company hiring teenagers that isn’t evil?”

This observation comes from the animated show Ricky and Morty, and is voiced by the character Summer, a teenage girl who is decidedly copasetic with the knowledge that she works for the devil, like the actual devil. My point here is that nowadays it’s hard, and not just for teenagers, to find employment in any company that you actually agree with morally 100 %. Because if you follow the money far enough it usually tends to have blood on it eventually. But none of this is really new, is it? Unless you’re working your dream job employment for most of us has always meant compromise on at least some level. Which is perfectly fine when you understand that most of adult life is about finding the compromises that we’re willing to make while still trying our best not to make the compromises that will unmake us.

Which leaves me back at becoming a henchmen, because if you’re already going to be compromised, better yet, if working life is going to force you into being a drone, you might as well be a drone that has some flair and maybe some sort of stupid helmet too. Sure, you’ll still be living under somebody else’s rules but at least you won’t be living under the same rules as everybody else.

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Stucco Faces

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I used to stare up at the stucco ceiling and see faces staring back at me. Much of my idle childhood was spent doing this and I think it was wisely spent. The faces in the stucco never frightened me, though many were grotesque, the faces of monsters. Same goes for the faces I’d see in the bathroom tiled floor, or in the wooden grooves of furniture, the monster faces staring back at me in whatever the walls of our apartments and houses were made of.

Google tells me this is called “pareidolia”

noun  par·ei·do·lia \ˌper-ˌī-ˈdōl-ē-ə, -ˈdōl-yə\

Medical Definition of pareidolia

:  the tendency to perceive a specific, often meaningful, image in a random or ambiguous visual pattern <The human brain is optimized to recognize faces, which could also explain why we are so good at picking out meaningful shapes in random patterns. -New Scientist, 24 Dec. 2011

I say that Pareidola sounds like a Tool album title. I still see faces and entire scenes with strange characters all the time when I look at a surface. It comforts me, inspires me, sometimes it reassures me; that my imagination isn’t broke. That I’ll always have some juice left in the tank. That my weird shit will never leave me.

I could be wrong.

Scientists at the NNT Communication Science Laboratory in Tokyo did a study and their results told them that neurotic people are more likely to see faces in inanimate things. Possibly because they’re wired to be alert for danger. Lots of danger has a face.

Usually human.

Makes sense, I’ve never been quite sure if I’m really chill or really anxious with a chill facade.

All I know is I’m 34 years old, an author and I use words like chill on the reg.

Also “on the reg.”

Either way, even if it’s a sign that I’m mentally bent I look forward to all my stucco friends. Maybe I’m just comfortable never being truly at ease?

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Getting My Hands Dirty

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“I’m worst at what I do best, and for this gift  I feel blessed.”

– The guy from Pearl Jam

I like to do a lot of arty stuff. I write fiction, I write non-fiction, I draw, I color, I play guitar, I sing, I write songs, and sometimes I even perform some combination of these things.

But I can only really concentrate and practice two of these things at a time. Maybe it’s really only one but I can’t keep from getting distracted by something else while I’m working on creative stuff.

This might mean I’ll never be a master at anything I work at, but it also might mean I’m constantly getting a ideas on new ways to approach creating.

More and more I see how all these things can bleed into one another. I can be thinking about song structure and how a pre-chorus builds anticipation or misleads before the explosion of the real thing and bam, it will make me think about how I’m putting together the plot of a novel. It’s all connected, even if that connection is all in my head, it’s all the same to me.

So anyway, I’ve been neglecting my art for a few weeks (I had a music show to do) and it was really satisfying to buy a new pilot parallel pen (I junked my old one switching it to a waterproof ink) and just fucking around and moving some dark shapes around the canvas.

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Drawing and music can be the most calming things I do. I can lose myself in them so completely and I love that act of disappearing. Writing is more satisfying in the sense of the feeling of accomplishment when I’ve put together a piece and reworked it to the point where I think it’s ready to give to the reader.

Alright, time to get back to the page. Words and pictures this time.

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The First Action Hero ?

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What is the first modern action movie?

I was having a beer with a buddy last night and he said either Raiders of the Lost Ark or maybe one of the early Bond movies…

I don’t have my own answer yet.

To me modern action films as an art form were something perfected in the 1980s and into the early to mid 90s. Sure, there are still great action films being produced but so far that 80s/90s period seems to have not only produced the greatest amount of action films but also the best of the bunch too. Simply put, it was a golden age for blowing shit up and quipping about it on the silver screen.

And this is also the time when what I think of as the modern action film came into being.

Action films are like heavy metal in that unlike most other types of art their inclusion in either category can change over time as what we deem “metal” or “action” changes. Because since inherent to both is an aesthetic of extremism and what we think of extreme always continues to escalate by the nature of extremism itself, things that were once thought of as metal, say Black Sabbath or early Zep or Deep Purple, become merely hard rock or just rock after bands inspired by them push things even further. Likewise films which were once billed as action films, The Great Escape, Dirty Harry, any western starring John Wayne, looking back at them now, they’re so slow, character driven, and devoid of relentless action we now consider them either action/adventures or crime dramas or simply westerns; all with elements of action but not wholly defined by this attribute as proper action movies are.

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Which is weird and unique feature for any genre on both accounts. Because, ska for example, doesn’t become not ska enough over time. A drama doesn’t become no longer dramatic enough a decade after it’s released. Gangsta rap might sound dated now but it’s still what we would call gangsta rap. Even horror films, sure, many older ones seem slower paced and less scary to modern audiences but we don’t stop considering them part of their genre for not keeping up with the trends.

Action films though keep getting more actiony, at least they did. There’s was a huge leap from the 60/70s to the 80s/90s and on. But I don’t know anymore, I don’t watch as many as I used to. I’ve outgrew them a bit, I got old and now I want to know why someone wants to kill someone not just how. Maybe there’s a ceiling on action, maybe we reached peak action in the 90s or early 2000s and there’s no way to go now but sideways?

Which is fine with me, more extreme doesn’t make a better action film (or a better metal album either) the stuff that makes any movie better is what makes a better action movie.

But for sure there is a certain level of actioness that manifested itself for the first time sometime in either the late 70s or early 80s and that’s what I think of when I think of action films.

Dirty Harry, The French Connection, stuff like that had scenes, whole sequences that were proto-modern action movie to me, another musical analogy, sorry, what Stooges is to punk, that’s what these type of films are to action films.

But they’re not the true debut of the new type of action film that we think of when we say action movie.

So what is?

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