Chicago Comic-Fest

New Recommendations:

Patrick the Wolfboy & Footman 15

Boy we had a good time last weekend! David, the Mighty Rothes & I took a day trip to Chicago for a little comic con fun. Well – Sarah brought a bag of things so she could have “quite reading fun” while Jeff, David & I had comic book fun – she’s such a good sport.

I’m going to limit the amount of time I regale you with tales of our adventures because I’m excited about a couple new things I read that I got there & want to talk about that – so here are the highlights.

I think Jeff & David spent more time in the dealer room than I did. David cleaned up on a boatload of statues & Jeff did some trading & wrangled up some issues he was looking for. Meanwhile – I talked. Hey you’ve got to stick with your strengths!

I met Billy Tucci & had him sign one of my copies of Shi. What a pretty book that was! He was very personable & easy to talk to. So many people I encounter have no clue what they believe in or stand for so it was kind of refreshing to see someone who’s not shy about putting his faith & values securely all out there.

I got a couple more prints for my girls from Jeff Moy – they were so pleased with what I got them last time. My daughters LOVE the girl superheroes & we all like his take on them. We got on a geek-speak roll about sci-fi shows & cartoons – that was fun! I have to watch myself though I can really talk your ears off about that stuff.

Check these artists out!

Bill Wilkison

There were two guys there that totally cracked me up (sorry, sucky cliché use there). One was Bill Wilkison. He draws sketches of the con attendees & I was one of his victims. You can see the sketch posted under my columns. Everyone who has seen it bursts out into uncontrollable laughter. While this is crippling my ego, I still like it – it makes me smile. Eh, I accept the fact that I’m pretty funny looking, so caricature is really the only way I should ever be depicted.

Anyway, Bill was super nice & his quick wit kept the three of us laughing constantly. If I can be crass for a moment – the con sketches are really a great marketing thing him. It breaks the ice & draws people to his table – then his personality takes care of the rest. I’m already seeing that being (or at least appearing) approachable is half the battle at these things.

I’d encourage you to check out his work at http://homepage.mac.com/bwilkison. Or stop by & talk to him at the next con – I’m sure you’ll find it very entertaining!

Art Baltazar

The other guy who kept us laughing was Art Baltazar. (His superhero crayon sketches are a RIOT!) I was instantly drawn to his bright, colorful artwork – mainly characters from his Patrick the Wolfboy book. Yeah! FINALLY I’m down to one of the new things I read!

One of the million fragments of things that makes me, is that I’m a mom. I’m always looking for something to share with the kids (I’ve got to get them properly “geeked up” you know). Patrick the Wolfboy is delightful! Talk about a character you just want to give a big hug to!

The artwork is crisp, fresh & consistently charming. The book is done in vignettes rather than big stories. I got the first two collected editions & I had a big smile on my face throughout the read. Jeff read them on the trip home & I heard him laugh out loud several times.

Don’t get hung up on the fact that I said it’s a “kid-friendly” book. There is SO much subtext there. I mean c’mon –
there are nods to both Calvin & Hobbs AND the Rocky Horror Picture Show in the first volume alone. The characters really blossom in the second volume; which is an even richer gold-mine of in-jokes.

I can’t wait to buy the next volume. You can sample it for yourself our on Art’s fantastic website – http://www.artbaltazar.com/. And if you’re socks aren’t properly knocked off – you must be made of stone – get therapy – soon.

Footman 15

Now finally, FINALLY I get to talk about my find of the weekend. God-bless the self publishers! I love original artwork, but if it wasn’t for great storytelling I would have lost interest in comics long ago. So here is your GOOD READ ALERT! Do yourself a favor & pick up Footman 15, by Christopher Rich-McKelvey, Bald Guy Studios (http://www.baldguystudios.com).

There is a line between fantasy & reality, and the guardians of that line are the Footmen. Our nameless heroine is the fifteenth generation trained to make sure the fantasy world stays out of our real human lives. Each issue is one self-contained story of her exploits.

The first issue, “Fairy Fire”, has the Footman tracking an elusive mythological creature know only to her as The Beast. Along the way she wipes out a gathering of fairies (which seem to be the equivalent of cockroaches to her kind) & has an awesome knock-down-drag-out with a Dryad possessed oak tree.

The BEST part is when she finally confronts The Beast at the end of the book. I could not possibly spoil the ending for you. But what transpires sets the stage that this is a woman trained to follow orders. Feeling morally convoluted about the life she lives & the tasks she must undertake is a luxury she cannot abide.

I thought the second issue “Therapy” got even more interesting. Told in frame story fashion – she is visiting a therapist & telling him about her missions. I LOVED the one mission she was on where she had to go take care of a child who had been “infected” by a fairy.

But the part that kept me hanging on was WHY in the heck she was telling this guy all this stuff? Was she sick of the business of killing? Maybe she wasn’t as hardened as she seemed – maybe she was looking for answers or validation?

By the end though, her motives are clear. AGAIN – I wouldn’t dream of telling the rest of the story from here & ruining the wicked twist to it all. After issue two she proves once again she is one cool cookie here to do a job.

There is so much to like about this book!

Two things are done well. First is the establishment of the fantasy world. Christopher totally gets it right. I spoke to him a little at the con & he is very interested in the history of fantasy, fairy tale & legend. He has studied the roots of these stories & it is evident in the vividness of detail in both picture & prose.

Secondly – he’s just flat out created an interesting character. (AND she looks hot – love the pixie hair-cut!) Okay we’re
taking a detour for a minute & it’s going to be ALL ABOUT ME for a paragraph or two (Hey it’s my essay!!!) – but I’m building to something about the book, I promise.

I have a great longtime friend who works at a movie theatre. He’s one of the most creative (and analytical) people I know – we could talk anything to death. One evening a few months ago I dropped by his work & we sat bathed in the distant whirr of the projectors & talked about a story idea.

He said he liked what I was saying but pointed out that maybe the EXACT SAME story might be more captivating if told in a different way & we hashed through examples.

I ruminated on what we talked about for a long time until I had an epiphany – my writing style it TOO darned linear! I always want to TELL the story – get to the end – get to the point. Storytelling can be so much more beautiful & riveting when revealed slowly. Take time to build the character…construct the history, the relationships – then the reader will more likely care about the EVENTS.

When we are given the RIGHT pieces of the story – we naturally want more. (Now I’m back to Footman 15 – see it didn’t take long!) For me this is what Christopher has done with this character. I want to know more about her now. Is she really ice cold – or just trained to be cool? Who’s giving her these assignments? What’s the history of her training & the legacy of the other Footmen?

And a good character can’t just hang out & be interesting. With an unlimited number of mythological creatures to confront & exterminate, Footman 15 has the potential for tons of exciting escapades while we learn more about her.

Okay did I gush enough? *laughing* Seriously though – this is a good looking book that already has some captivating tales to tell. Looking forward to more….

I have come to two conclusions about what I put out on the blog.

One – I want to attempt to avoid writing about what EVERYONE else is. (That Astonishing X-men thing was an easy to hammer out “Omigosh I haven’t written anything in February” deal.)

The other conclusion is that I want to write about stuff I like. I get no pleasure at all from ripping up something. Sharing good things is just more enjoyable.

So in the meantime – I’ll be going to “Linear Writers” therapy & I’m going to keep reading. Then when I find something I
like, I’ll try to stop for a minute & tell you why.

See the delusion that I have readers STILL lingers. *smile*


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