Category: Books

Fantastic Finds at Wondercon 2012

Each year I head north, back to the San Francisco Bay Area, to attend the Wondercon Comic Book Convention, but this year I headed south, to Anaheim, where I had the opportunity of spending two days shopping and scouring the tables of pop culture and comic books for those unique and rare finds. I spent an enormous amount of time strolling between the tables that is Artists Alley, and visiting with the next wave of talented publishers, writers, and illustrators. It’s a fantastic way for a writer to network and meet other aspiring artists. Here’s some of the rare goodies that I picked up.

All Crime Comics #1: Tucked away between the animation studios in Burbank, California is a well-respected comic book store called, “House of Secrets”, and inside this store of serialized stories is a publishing company calling itself, “Art of Fiction”. The guys and girls from A of F have released a number of sketchbooks profiling the artwork of comic book and animation illustrators and are now extremely proud to release the first issue of “All Crime Comics”, a story that tells the exploits of Dodger and his crew of thugs as they plan to over-throw the kingpin of Chicago in the year 1989. It’s a savage and bloody tale of crime, one in which friendships are busted wide open like a head that’s been clubbed with a baseball bat, and where nothing ever goes as planned.

Ashcan Press: These two former record label owners and punk rockers based out of New York City are now creating and writing comic books and I give them two thumbs up for their hard work. After stopping by the Ashcan Press table and meeting Patrick Klindon and Matthew Rosenberg, I walked away with a copy of the first issue of “The Urn”, a limited series that tells the story of an ex-motorcycle gang member on a vengeance induced trip across the country. In addition, I was gratefully given a copy of “We Can Never Go Home”, the story of a teenage boy and girl learning of their newly acquired super-powers and having to run from their ordinary lives after an accidental murder. The boys from Ashcan Press have a spirit and drive for creating and writing comics that I admire and I hope to hear and see more from them very soon.

Monica Richard’s Naiades: She was the frontwoman of numerous bands in the HarDCore scene out of Washington D.C. and her most recent release is not only an album, but also an illustrated book filled with lyrics and poems and artwork by Bernie Wrightson, James O’Barr, and Kelley Jones (among many others). I’d describe her sound as a blend of the Cocteau Twins and Fugazi, with the Celtic ambiance of Enya. It’s unique, engaging, and most importantly of all…interesting. How did I find this rare gem? Well, Monica is engaged to comic book writer and screenwriter Steve Niles, who handles bass guitar duties on the album. So rad, yeah!

Some Damn Good “Cal McDonald Detective Tales”

Artist Kelley Jones provides the illustrations

Some genres really do mix well together and there couldn’t be a better pairing of genres than that of Detective Crime Noir and Horror. Steve Niles (author of 30 Days of Night) seamlessly combines these two genres much like The X-Files had done with its blending of Detective Procedurals and Science Fiction. The world that Niles creates is a dark and strange one, yet palpable. The degenerate demons and vindictive vampires of Nile’s world are common beings amongst us, but sometimes they need a little investigating, and sometimes the investigations can get a little bloody.

Cal McDonald Detective Tales features the private detective, and unabashed junky and alcoholic, Cal McDonald as he investigates crimes of the supernatural sort. He’s your typical private eye, full of skepticism and cynicism, and he handles his investigations like any other Los Angeles “dick” of the 1940’s and 50’s; with a loaded gun and a pair of bloody knuckles. However, McDonald’s prime suspects are ghouls, geeks, and goons of the psychopathic variety. It’s certainly not an easy job, but somebody has to clean up the dirty scum that preys on the even dirtier scum that haunts the Los Angeles streets.

I met Steve Niles last October at the Long Beach Comic Book and Horror Convention. He hosted a panel and talked about independent publishing and writing and I have to say, for a man that has a lot of sick and twisted ideas, he sure is a very pleasant person. I purchased a copy of this limited edition book and had him sign it for me. It came inside a zip-lock plastic “evidence” bag as if it were a potential piece of evidence, bagged by a detective and submitted to a court of law (or thrown into a box amongst other forgotten evidence items at the police station, i.e. O.J. Simpson’s gloves, Tupac’s police report, etc.). It’s a true rarity and if you ever happen to find a copy of the book in those more esteemed comic shops and book stores, don’t hesitate, buy yourself a copy and be sure to enjoy the madness.