Monday, July 30, 2012

Art Attack: October 2012's Coolest Covers

-I can never ever get enough Dustin Nguyen in my life.

-I've seen prettier covers from Phil Noto than his Astonishing X-Men for this month, but few more inventive. The man has range.

-J.H. Williams is a fantastic Wonder Woman artist. He excels at strong females, as he has shown on Promethea and now Batwoman. He also does a great job portraying exotic beauty outside what we think of as the norm, which some folks have a tough time nailing with Diana, but that's how she should look (in my opinion).

-As many lengthy Marvel runs are wrapping this month, we get some great retrospective cover pieces, but perhaps none as majestic and flat out pretty as Steve Epting's Captain America. The colors add a lot too.

-Francis Manapul's design sense is nuanced and exploratory, but he also knows how to just make a good ol' fashioned super hero cover.

-After all these years, Alex Ross can still produce images that just leap off the page in an almost spooky way, and his Ghost cover does just that.

-Lotta Dave Johnson this month. That's a great thing.

-Francesco Francavilla and zombies seems like a match made in...heaven? That seems wrong. But it looks good.

-I never knew how much I needed Frazer Irving to draw the Masters of the Universe.

-Todd McFarlane is on a freakin' roll in 2012. Awesome!

-Michael Komarck is the next big thing in cover artists as far as I'm concerned.

ANIMAL MAN #13 by Steve Pugh
ASTONISHING X-MEN #55 by Phil Noto
AVENGERS ACADEMY #38 by Giuseppe Camuncoli
BATMAN & ROBIN #13 by Patrick Gleason
BATWOMAN #13 by J.H. Williams III
BPRD: 1948 #1 by Dave Johnson
CAPTAIN AMERICA #19 by Steve Epting
DEADPOOL #63 by Dave Johnson
THE FLASH #13 by Francis Manapul
GHOST #1 by Alex Ross
GHOSTS #1 by Dave Johnson
GLORY #29 by Ross Campbell
HACK/SLASH #21 by Tim Seeley
HAWKEYE #3 by David Aja
INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #527 by Salvador Larroca
MARVEL ZOMBIES HALLOWEEN #1 by Francesco Francavilla
ORCHID #10 by Massimo Carnevale
SPAWN #224 by Todd McFarlane
UNCANNY AVENGERS #1 by John Cassaday
UNCANNY X-MEN #20 by Carlos Pacheco
WOLVERINE & THE X-MEN #18 by Nick Bradshaw
WONDER WOMAN #13 by Cliff Chiang
X-MEN LEGACY #275 by Mark Brooks

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Ben & Jordan Watch Bachelor Pad: Episode 1

The bonds of brotherhood between Ben Morse and Jordan Geary were forged during their time as students at Connecticut College, where they spent four years losing at intramural sports (except softball in 2004!), forming their own fraternity because the school wouldn’t let them, making student films one professor called “unfortunate” and regularly beating their friend Dan Hartnett in Goldeneye.

Today, they live 20 minutes apart in New Jersey with their respective lovely wives, sharing passions for miniature golf, diner cuisine and the music of Motley Crue. They also both watched and blogged about Games of Thrones this past season to the thrill of perhaps a dozen.

For years Jordan has been trying to sell Ben, who has never watched an episode of The Bachelor or The Bachelorette, to watch Bachelor Pad. Despite their youthful enjoyment of reality romance classics like Temptation Island and Paradise Hotel, Ben was skeptical, but decided to go for it.

Bear wit to their wit, wisdom and frequent allusions to Mark L. Wahlberg as they try and bring some much needed dignity to these people’s search for love/money/fame/a place to crash for a few weeks.

Ben: As the rookie on this team, I’m going to be letting Jordan take the wheel and mostly reacting, but I did want to make the initial observation that I stared into the eyes of Chris Harrison and saw no soul looking back at me, and that’s the prerequisite I look for in hosts of reality shows that involve “looking for love.”

Introduction to our trashy contestants


Jordan: I don't know this guy. Seems like a douche. Likes to pose in front of the camera and make a duck face when he isn't good looking or engaging. If I were the president I would say in a growl GET OFF MY PLANE!

Ben: Yeah, it seemed like from what I saw the show was relying heavily on this dude being a big deal because he was just on the last Bachelorette, so he’s got “heat,” but to those of us who didn’t watch that, he was just a smug grin. I have seen few gents who better exemplify “the clothes make the man.” He looks fairly suave in a suit, and like a goof in a tank top and board shorts.

If ever there was a place I wasn’t expecting an Air Force One reference, this was it. Kudos.


Jordan: It's the hot girl from the season where the bachelor was one of the cavemen from the Geico ads! Was looking forward to seeing her as she is gorgeous and nice, but SHA-BAM she has WAYYYYYY too much makeup. She looked like Dee Snyder or as if she covered her face in cotton candy.

Ben: Man, I’ve already forgotten this girl from having watched the episode three days ago aside from loving the way she spells her name.


Jordan: This guy always reminded me of Matthew Perry in looks and demeanor. He is a guy I'll be rooting for early.

Ben: The nice guy. To get on my radar on this type of show, you need to go to one extreme or the other, so I’ll also be pulling for Reid early on. Felt badly about how this episode ended for him, but it also made me worry about how easily he gets emotionally attached.


Jordan: Ugh, this guy. I can't decide if this guy looks more like a chimp or the oldest brother from the Brady Bunch. Either way, not enough looks to warrant that cockiness. I mean, c'mon dude. You scored JILLIAN, which is slightly more of an accomplishment than saying you scored a date with a mule.

Ben: Glad to see your harsh judgment of the female form is not limited to period fantasy pieces, I think that would have really let down our regular readers. But yeah, this guy won a season? Really? It’s enough to make me think reality television isn’t a viable avenue for finding true love. I can see him either pissing everybody off quickly and getting turfed or floating under the radar until close to the end because “the drunk guy isn’t a threat.”


Jordan: WOO HOO! My favorite girl from the caveman bachelor's season! Why is she my favorite, you ask? Because she has a grating personality, zero self awareness, and wears completely inappropriate outfits. She is tops on my list of people likely to say the cliché “I'm here for the money, not for YOU!"

Ben: Don’t forget “I’m not here to make friends.” At least one person already dropped that one this week.

Yeah, if by “completely inappropriate outfits” you mean “completely inexplicable outfits,” I agree. You’re on Bachelor Pad, lady, you don’t need to bother throwing a pastel mesh top over a bra, just go all out. The crazy eyes though…yeah, she’s a winner. I do hope she follows through with her promise of physical violence on Chris.


Jordan: This girl Ben's dad knows so I am going to hold my tongue for now. Only initial thoughts: She has GREAT sound bites and is HIDEOUSLY ugly. Did I just say I would hold my tongue? Whoops. Still, she's gonna be fun to watch.

Ben: Yeah, so here’s the story: I can’t recall ever actually meeting this girl, but I guess she was in the same class as my sister and was indeed coached by my father on a youth soccer team. He watched her on The Bachelor and said she’s certainly utilizing every lesson he imparted on her.

She certainly embodies all the worst qualities of the wealthy suburban community I grew up in to a hilarious parody degree. There is no chance in hell she will win, but I hope she hangs around as long as possible to say dumb stuff and so hopefully we can get my dad on here to do commentary.


Jordan: I don't know this guy, but this music suggests he is a villain. He seems jerky enough that I just might find this guy to be my favorite guy on the show. Wait...he just grinned at himself in the mirror...THIS GUY IS DEFINITELY MY FAVORITE!

Ben: Remember what I said about Reid as far as being a fan of dudes on either extreme? Yes, this guy is great. He had a lot of great moments already, but I think my favorite was when he flat out told us “Yeah, I’m telling everybody what they want to hear” and then so seamlessly preceded to do so. Even though he’s come right out and said he’s the bad guy, he’s still such a good liar I see him going far.

Also, I made the Patrick Bateman comparison when he was doing push-ups and then one of the other contestants did later in the show.


Jordan: This fan girl is annoying personified.

Ben: In a way, yes, but honestly, when she was first introduced that was when I became sold on the show, because the idea of not just fans but complete psycho fans being unleashes on these not-really-celebrities is phenomenal. How can you not love the concept of people watching these shows religiously and then actually getting the chance to go and stalk their favorite reality TV eye candy up close and personal? That sounded a bit sociopathic, but you get my gist.

Also, Wikipedia tells me she is a Jumbo Tron Operator. That is amazing.

Chris “SWAT”

Jordan: I like this guy. He is a strong, big guy with a soft side. I identify with this.

Ben: I was onboard once they transitioned from shots of him taking down a perp to him sipping wine in a room with 18,000 candles. My early favorite.


Jordan: Now this is a fan. Dancing in a bikini, cocky, over-tanned, and she is in love with sappy-as-hell Michael. Intriguing.

Ben: I think it was actually Michael who later told Reid the guys were “keeping Donna around for physical reasons,” which pretty much sums it up. She’ll hook up with a bunch of the people she watched on TV and then get eliminated once people really start playing for money.


Jordan: This guy has Bing Crosby eyes and likes to hit things. Wait...both of those are Bing Crosby traits. Don't like him.

Ben: I liked him during his intro package because he was an MMA fighter and that’s cool, but his personality and weird clothing choices became extremely grating as the show went on. I do think his athletic background is going to help him out if the challenges remain physical ones, so he could prove to be cockroach-like.

The Twins

Jordan: My wife swears one of these girls was on The Jersey Shore and hooked up with one of the guys in Florence. All I know is they are annoying and I already want them off of my television.

Ben: Yeah, they seem straight out of reality TV casting purgatory where I imagine hundreds of perky post-grads sit around in a hot tub until their number is called. Everybody else on the show hates them, so accordingly I want them to stay.


Jordan: Who is this smiley Nick guy? The producers already don't seem to like him with how little they showed him.

Ben: Yeah, I did not appreciate that only half the contestants got intro packages. I had no idea who this guy was other than that he’s jacked.


Jordan: Enter Rachel, the person I couldn't see onscreen in seasons past without adopting a mock husky smoker voice. She is still gross to me. Sounds like that cigarette-smoking, coughing weasel from Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

Ben: Already forgot her. She had a nose ring?


Jordan: Enter Sarah, someone I don't know and seems pretty airheady and ugly. Were she on a cavernous bridge I would slam my wizard's staff on the ground and yell YOU SHALL NOT PASS!

Ben: Completely out of left field reference. Love it. Already forgot her.


Jordan: Enter Ryan...the 28 year old virgin. Apparently he was on Deanna's season. Who the hell is Deanna? I'm already lost. Still, Ryan seems nice...though it looks like he is wearing lipstick.

Ben: Just looked him up on Wikipedia, and not only is he a former NFL player, he was picked last in the 2003 draft, so he was “Mr. Irrelevant.” He also played in the UFL and is currently a high school dean.

No chance whatsoever.


Jordan: Tony walks in. The camera promptly forgets him.

Ben: I may have thought this was Nick. Whatever.


Jordan: Jamie walks in. She is very pretty. If I remember correctly I was angry that she was voted off of The Bachelor the last time because I thought she was so pretty. Luckily, this is Bachelor PAD, where being pretty is really all that keeps you around.

Ben: That awful headband thing she wore to the elimination ceremony was to me the equivalent of when I’d wrestled guys with bright orange wrestling shoes and know I was going to lose horribly because only somebody really good could get away with wearing bright orange wrestling shoes.


Jordan: Michael, the wuss, comes in. He is a very, very sweet guy...I just can't handle more footage of him staring at the ocean super sad he is alone. I am already dreading him falling in love, getting his heart broken, and then moping. It'll happen. YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST!

Ben: Love this guy. Why? Because he already knows he is playing a strategy game and said as much into the camera within the first hour and mocked those who didn’t get this. I don’t care if he has a dozen soliloquies, he is already ahead in my book. The thing that will prevent him from winning is that he already won last season and thus people will want him out.

Didn’t he also win Paradise Hotel?


Jordan: ERICA ROSE! WOOOO! She is such a ridiculous personality. For all you newbies, she MAKES this show. Her face is a plastic surgery mishap, but her off-kilter brain is sheer joy.

Ben: I wanted her to lose immediately, but I suppose that proves your point that she’s a compelling character. I will still be happy when she does lose.

Let's begin the chaos!

Jordan: Ed is a nutjob, and not the type that's loveable. More the creepy uncle at a party. Watching him interact with people is like watching a slow motion car crash you are unable to stop.

Ben: By this point I wasn’t just wondering how he won a season—though I still was—so much as how he functions in everyday society/is not in jail.

Jordan: LOL the twins could not look more aghast that they will be competing "together". This is why it was wise of me to kill off my identical twin at such a young age.

Ben: How many times did Chris Harrison repeat that they were competing together? Probably almost as many times as he’s hit people with his car and then continued driving as a cold, dead smile creeps across his face.

Also, I have Gordon Geary chained up in my basement as a contingency plan if you ever go rogue.

Jordan: Of the teams, off the bat I think Jaclyn and Ed will turn out to be hilarious to watch. That said, I am a Reed and villainous Kalon fan, who are both partnered with fans, so my rooting interests are primarily with those two teams to start.

Ben: Yeah, Ed and Jaclyn should be a great train wreck. I’ll also be rooting for Kalon and Donna as well as Michael and whoever he was with. Rachel? Do they keep the same teams the whole season?

First competition: Falling for Love

Jordan: So I love this competition. Hearing "TILT THE HEARTS!" rivals "RELEASE THE KRAKEN" for me.

Ben: I thought they at least got handles or something to hold onto then noticed about midway through that they were just pushing against the sides. I got way more anxious about the whole thing than I should have. My wife made fun of me.

Jordan: Won't spoil who wins the first competition...oh hell yes I will. It was Bing and The Twins. I was not amused. Hopefully these winners' days are numbered.

Ben: I’m telling you, as long as the challenges are physical in nature, the MMA guy and energetic young twins are going to do pretty well against the folks from a reality show where your primary goal is to wear a suit/dress and drink a lot. You could be in for a rocky road.

And poor Tony/Nick, who’s a beast of a man and thus had no chance in heck of staying cramped in that tiny heart.

Winners Date

Jordan: These people are boring. The producers sense this and shorten this segment to approximately two seconds of a skinny dip scene.

Ben: When MMA guy started riffing off past seasons’ dates that theirs resembled, he officially crossed the line from potentially endearing sap to weirdo who probably bid thousands on a lock of Chris Harrison’s hair on eBay.

Post-Winner's Date

Jordan: Blakely is already sounding completely batshit insane. God, I love her so. As I write this she is currently talking about punching her teammate in the throat.

Ben: Not just punching, mind you, but donkey punching, which I was not aware you could do to the throat.

Jordan: Cue Jamie kissing Blakely's teammate. YES! LET THE GAMES BEGIN! While this is good for Chris as Jamie is definitely the most attractive girl on the show, he just awakened a Blakely monster.

Ben: I applaud him using his status as the most recent contestant to appear on TV to hook up with as many women as possible.

Jordan: So this Bing Crosby guy is telling everyone his plans on how he will win? This is not wise, Bing. Sounds like he will be off soon. Once Erica Rose threatens you, it's over.

Ben: I felt so bad for SWAT guy, who got sold out and then went on about how he got sold out for the next half hour. Could have been a contender.

The Voting Ceremony

Jordan: SWAT guy is sweating it out during the vote. He seems like the kind of guy that is made for killing Predators, not Bachelor Paddin'!

Ben: I was really hoping against hope he would not suffer for the sins of his fellow fan, but there was really no finesse to his trying to swing votes as he was literally just frantically begging and asking if there was anything he could do (I’m pretty sure he would have killed somebody if asked). If only an escaped con had run through the pool and needed tackling at that moment!

Jordan: Paige is the girl seemingly getting the votes for the girls. This is sad for Matthew Perry, but I think he can outsmart the others and keep her. Just a hunch.

Ben: He doesn’t strike me as a thinker, more of a heart on his sleeve type; I think his morals will be his undoing.

Jordan: A Reid-Kalon alliance? THIS COULD BE EPIC! Can't believe I am rooting against Erica Rose, but I just like Reed and Kalon more.

Ben: It would indeed be tremendous if it lasts more than a week, but I get the sense Kalon will set himself up as everybody’s ally.

The Verdict

Jordan: After some hi-larious Blakeley looks, Swat guy and Paige get the boot. Once again, my hunch is completely off. These two were boring as hell, so the show is better off as a result.

Ben: Glad to know my support is as much the kiss of death on this show as it was on Game of Thrones. At least SWAT guy just had to hop in a limo rather than get run through the gut with a broadsword. And he’s got that pic with Chris Harrison…UNTIL HE REALIZES CHRIS HARRISON DOES NOT APPEAR ON FILM.

I felt bad for Paige, both because she got eliminated and she now needs to go back to playing the secretary on The Office when not operating her Jumbo Tron. I hate that show.

Jordan: Holy crap this season is going to blow our faces off. I love summer trash television.

Ben: Thanks for getting me into this, buddy. Man cannot live off The L.A. Complex and Dallas alone.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

56 Things I May End Up Remembering From Comic-Con 2012

San Diego! Land of perpetual 73-degree weather and $12 mixed drinks!

Like fellow blog bros Ben and Kevin, I made it out to Comic-Con International this year for work. I know that the general consensus from average fans or their moms is "Wow! That must be a lot of fun!" Conversely, the people in the industry I talk to's Twitter feeds are all, "And now I will lead this march into the jaws of hell!!!!!" In actuality, I think the show has some "crap I've got to do" to it, but that's totally drowned out by awesome adventures of drunken love of the artform revelry wrapped in absurd Hollywood promo materials and cosplay.

In other words, I had a great time. Maybe the best show for me in five years of flying out as a pro.
Here's everything I can recall of vague importance that would appeal to the CKT's readership of "People I hung out with at the show who are probably vanity Googling themselves right now." Let's do it!

* Randomly before the show, I got contacted by my hometown paper The Flint Journal, and they did a story about me going to the show. That was INSANE.

* Let this be the last time I tell this story with a twinge of stress in my heart: Comic-Con was already 45-times crazier for me this year since its early weekend meant it crossed over with one of my twice-annual, ten day graduate school retreats. I can't miss these retreats and still graduate on time, so I'm eternally thankful to my program head at Hamline University Mary Rockcastle for just being like "You should just fly out four days early! It's cool!" even though she probably should have busted my chops for it. Could not have survived the past two weeks without that.

* It was a super comics-y week at Hamline aside from the impending con. Not only have my job and proclivity to just say "Batman" as often as possible earned me the "comic book guy" label at school, but cartoonist Gene Yang was also at the residency for the first time as a full on professor. When I saw him, he was all, "Kiel...I heard you get to go to Comic-Con. No one told me there was a special dispensation, dude!" Apparently this is Gene's first miss in over a decade, but he was a rock star on campus all week, so I think it turned out.

* Of course, the night before I left it was my roommate's birthday part at a bar called The Happy Gnome. Of course, my flight to San Diego was at 7:00 AM. Of course, they didn't turn off the cabin lights the entire time we were in they sky. Of course, I was working ten minutes after checking into my hotel at 9:45 local time. Woof.

* On the up side, my father and younger brother Clint were at the show. 12 years ago, dad took me to Comic-Con for the first time as a high school graduation present, and this year, Clint wanted to do the same before he heads out to MSU. It was nice having them around on the CBR Boat and going out to eat at some weird British fish & chips place instead of hanging in the Gaslamp on Friday.

* It strikes me how much the con has changed even in my brief time coming when I think about how dad and I's trip in 2000 involved the Hollywood aspect where we saw a Kevin Smith panel and heard via a waitress the Angelina had bailed on a panel, but this year when I asked dad how his first day was, he said, "Great! We saw Anthony Bourdain AND McLovin!"

* Work went well. Despite my being at school in the whole runup to the show, the CBR staff was way on top of stories ahead of an at the con, which meant less freak out phone calls during the weekend and more partying. Props in particular to Jonah Weiland and Stephen Gerding – neither of whom made it into the show and onto the floor.

* But you know, when not making the show floor means you're on the boat all day, that ain't bad neither.

* My roommate Steve Sunu also did the all-star job of the Millennium covering for me and covering the show in general. You have to, have to, have to, have to, HAVE TO watch this first person video of Steve running the "Walking Dead" zombie course at Petco Park.

* Speaking of which, I found the above photo of Steve shaking Kirkman's hand at said event on the Facebook page for Geek Magazine, which I thought kinda funny.

* So happy I got to hit the comics blogging panel Thursday night hosted by Douglas Wolk with Heidi MacDonald, Andy Khouri, Rich Johnston and Tom Spurgeon. Sat amidst a packed room with Caleb Goellner and David Uzumeri. Perhaps the best parts were when Tom asked the crowd who there actually read their sites, and us and Brigid Alverson made up 50% of the respondents.
* But serial, at one point Heidi said she's stayed in comics this long because it has the nicest people, and the rows around shushed me for laughing too loudly.

* No but super serial, I thought it was really interesting how the default answer to Douglas' "Who do you write for?" question was "myself." I do a lot of writing for myself, but almost none of that involves my work writing. Maybe in selection of topic to cover do I get closer to writing for myself. But I always view my comics writing on CBR to be for consumers, retailers and creators...probably not necessarily in that order. (Okay, and I write for other journo-types a way higher percentage of the time than I'd care to admit). Not saying one is better than the other, but it was weird to feel in the minority there.

* If you're interested, here's a smattering of panels I reported live over the weekend: DC's Batman panel where I picked up one of the few giveaways I didn't lose – a Snyder/Capullo Court of Owls mask! Then there was the Ultimate Marvel panel and this Legendary Comics one and this DC graphic novel one and...oh hell, you get the idea. I've got to say that the panels for the big two came off as kind of rote this year. Part of that was a lack of big announcements outside of one or two things like new Sandman or Quentin Tarantino comics, but it's also because I just kind of felt like a lot of the standard bearers of these panels were a little off their crowd pumping game. No surprises even for the diehards, you know?

* That said, the fact that Marvel and DC have so many panels can kind of drown out the noise from something like the Image panel Saturday that seemed to carry a lot of energy and announcement weight. I suppose that the same can be said of how many books the big two release and how much of that sites like CBR cover what comes out, but I kind of feel like the pace that spaces out things in a regular news cycle fights against the wash of panels at CCI.

* So what I'm saying is, read that Image panel report.

* Okay, one more panel note: the DC Young Justice panel really gave you the feeling that between Scott Lobdell, Bobbie Chase and non-attendees like Tom Defalco, Bob Harras has just put his favorite lineup from his '90s Marvel band together on the Teen Titans comics like they never broke up. I imagine the readers of those books have at least a few genes in common with people who go to Credence Clearwater Revisited to hear "Down On The Corner" or whatever.

* I've always been a bit flummoxed by the costume people, but I can't admit that it's kind of fun to see what they pull out, and each year I seem to chat up at least one cosplayer who's terribly nice. This year, it was this girl dressed as Poison Ivy who sat next to me at the Batman panel. Every nerdy college student within five seats was trying to pick her up, and she dealt with it with aplomb.

* I was only on the floor of the show for 12 seconds on Friday, but I was happy that those 12 seconds were spent talking to Joe Keatinge. If you didn't already know, Joe is maybe the most ENTHUSIASTIC comics maker in the business right now. He's just so pumped about every project he picks up, and spoke to me in beaming fashion about his upcoming Thanos mini series at Marvel, calling the character one of his all-time favorites. I believed him. Also: Joe's Image series Hell Yeah! is severely underrated right now for how it riffs on comics history in a total non-obtrusive way, but that's going to have to be the subject of its own post at a later date.

* Also important: Joe knows everyone who's ever done a book for Image Comics ever, so if you meet him at a show, look around the group of people he's with and say "Who are your friends, Joe?" Then you get to meet Emi Lenox!

* One more observation from the floor: when you're a fan walking around San Diego and you see people in the biz chatting each other up, you may wonder what they're talking about. Maybe they're talking about the proliferation of comics culture in the world? Maybe they're talking about the profits and perils of digital comics? Maybe they're talking about some rad new series you won't see for another six months? No, I'm just messing with you. What they're talking about is "how much the other publishers booths suck balls compared to theirs, because you think our booth is the best one of the floor this year, right?" Booth envy. IT'S ACTUALLY A THING.

* Saw my friend and my O.G. comics industry mentor Ivan Cohen at the show too briefly (always too briefly). If you didn't know, he's writing issues of DC's Green Lantern: The Animated Series comic now. Sounds like some FUN stuff coming up there.

* Met new ComicsAlliance E-i-C Joe Hughes, who I instantly recognized from cons past even though we were never introduced. That seems like the best kind of person to be running a site like CA. Bumped into Joe maybe 45 more times over the course of the weekend. Excited to see what he does over there.

* Speaking of CA and Caleb as I was a moment ago, he's had some pages from what I think may still be a kind of secret comics thing on his iPhone that were so cool they made my eyeballs bleed. And THEN he told me the final would be in full color.

* Thursday night, I hit the CBLDF party, which has become a kind of annual tradition. On my way there, Sam Humphries sidled up on me like some kind of ninja, and it was the first of many times we laughed a lot that night. Sam and I talked about how Comic-Con has gotten to feel like summer camp – i.e. you kind of know where you're going in downtown San Diego after having to walk around that crazy mall on 2nd to get to the Westgate one night each year. It's like remembering where the old canoe launch is.

* Speaking of Sam, I can never tell how many of the core readers of big superhero books are blog savvy enough to be caught up on things like "Our Love Is Real," but anyone who didn't know him before the Ultimate Marvel panel probably wanted to buy his shit after. He speaks with a lot of knowledge and enthusiasm for his stuff in front of a crowd.

* Ditto Nathan Edmundson on that front, actually.

* Anyway, back to the party: it produced the above photo with myself, Douglas Wolk, Tom Spurgeon and the rad ladies of Fantagraphics: Jen Vaughn and Jacq Cohen. It was worth it for that alone.

 * Let me be the 12,000th person to mention online that Spurge is looking GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD. I wish I got to talk to him in normal human ways more often.

 * Highly Important: Finally met Tom's brother Whit – Comics Reporter super photographer. After flipping through his iPhone, I really get the feel Whit takes more pictures of CCI than both the ladies we had working for CBR combined. He also slides wonderfully into this hilarious, Jackie Mason-esque character schtick without ever overdoing it.

* The 35 minutes I spend with John Layman at any given CCI party rank amongst my most anticipated events at the show each year.

 * Spent a lot of time talking to Chris Roberson and his wife Allison Baker over the weekend. Hot damn if those two aren't as smart and savvy as any people you've ever met in comics or elsewhere. The launch of their Monkeybrain Comics imprint has finally gelled a bunch of my opinions on digital comics together. Namely that I'm not sure the app model is the so-called "new newsstand" so many keep proclaiming it to be. Apps are still too specific and impermanent to be successful as general public sales platform like that. But they sure as hell fill the gap left by the modern direct market's inability to sell high end genre serials not published by the few standing players. In other words, Monkeybrain is to the 2010s what First and Pacific were to the 1980s.

* Comics writer, toy industry pitch man and A+ Wizard alumn Justin Aclin was my guide through Thursday night, and I couldn't have asked for a better one. He's got big things coming, this guy.

* Friday night was the super secret "Bros of Wizard" enclave where we plotted our imminent takeover of the entire industry (haha) while hopping from bar-to-bar. Attendees included Aclin, Diamond Select Toys' Zach Oat, Marvel TV's Todd Casey (and his lovely friend Mel), Archaia PR man and lovely friend Mel Caylo, Topless Robot's Rob Bricken, Kevin, Steve Sunu, Dark Horse Editor Jim Gibbons and...damn, I'm sure I'm missing someone. There are a lot of us! I love them all like brothers. No bullshit.

 * Ended our night at the Marvel party where we collided with Ryan Penagos, and I somehow missed Ben while I was doing shots with Rosario Dawson (not really but kind of).

* Also got some real hangtime with my girl Josie Campbell at the show. Realized after many nights of balcony chit-chat that her boyfriend Marly runs the "JoJo" Remembered Heroes Tumblr, and now I have a crush on him.

* I don't know what was happening at this particular point in my Jeph Loeb video interview on the boat, but I'm pretty damn sure he and I were having a GREAT time.

* Surprise CBR Boat guest of the year: Jock. He is an extremely sweet man. Like, Stan Sakai levels of sweetness even.

* That aside, my favorite boat interview for the year was a toss up between fellow Michigan State Spartan and all around thoughtful dude JT Krul and unexpected guest "Foxtrot" creator Bill Amend. Watch for those!

* I used to do these goofy celebrity sightings posts from the show, but this year my Hollywood overlap was ridiculously low in the best way. So here's my randomly short bus list on that front:

* I met everyone in the above photo on the boat except Elija Wood, who I only ever see at Comic-Con at the bar late at night. They seemed like fine folks.

* At one point, a gaggle of Hollywood types came onto the boat, like they do. You can always tell who the PR folks are by their blazers and their six bags and their constant texting. And you can tell the talent because they're the pretty ladies in the tight green dress and the high heels. This time out, the pretty lady was this woman – who I'd never heard of before she left and I said, "Who was that?" But she talked to CBR Producer Remy Minnick for like 20 minutes about the business of DVR. I guess that's what Comic-Con is for some people too.

* The Marvel booth is always totally crazy at the show, but sometimes it's that crazy because your buddy Ryan is talking to Don Cheadle on camera while Robert Downey, Jr. re-embodies the role of Tony Stark amongst 45 little Iron Mans.

 * My #1 celebrity moment came before I interview Joss Whedon in a little plywood room hidden in the middle of the Dark Horse booth. As a nice young lady from another website was finishing up before me, John Landis appeared out of nowhere looking for Mike Richardson (whom he referred to as "the basketball player"). Richardson was AWOL, so Landis just burst into the little room to shake Whedon's hand and tell him how much he loved "The Avengers." It was pretty funny to see a guy who causes nerds to freak out when they talk to him at the show freak out like a nerd because John Landis was talking to him at the show, let me tell you.

* On Saturday night, Ben and I embarked on the world's nerdiest, boringest episode of "The Amazing Race" ever when we tried to go out to eat with about a dozen Marvel staffers. 1.5 hours and seven restaurants later, we ended up eating alone in a diner with My Little Pony on the walls. Oddly, the only time I saw Bryan Lee O'Malley all show was when he was dashing through that diner towards the exit. Overall, best meal of the show. Thanks, Benny.

* Later, had the first ever event on the CBR Boat that I will qualify as a real, legit party. I mean, there's like a staff party early in the week, but those aren't ridic enough, you know?

* Somewhat related: MTV Blogs Editor Josh Wigler is a golden god. All that b.s. up there about me traveling at 5:00 AM? Chump change to how hard duder was going all weekend. * Talked to BOOM! Editor-in-Chief Matt Gagnon for a while. Really sharp in terms of how that company and their books function creatively and in the market. Example: he sees "Adventure Time" as both the kind of paying gig that can fill a comics-shaped hole in their commission work (a la the late "Nickelodeon Magazine") and also as a way to expose younger and more traditional comics readers to their other work.

* Best Eisner story I heard: upon winning the award for "Best Anthology" for Dark Horse Presents, Mike Richardson gave one of the three statues he got to his Assistant Editor (and my boy) Jim Gibbons. Not only is that a very cool thing to do, it also allowed us to declare "LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, EISNER WINNER JIM GIBBOOOOOOOOOOONS!" all night long.

* Over the weekend, Chris Roberson made a great case for never going to the Hyatt and instead hitting the Hilton Bayfront that was equal parts "The Bayfront supports unionized employees" and "Aw, fuck the Hyatt, man!"

* That said, was at the Hyatt for 15 minutes late Saturday. Spent no money, though.

* First time I ever heard someone refer to it as "The Riot At The Hyatt." How have I been missing that joke?!?!

* For some reason, I only end up catching up with Kyle Higgins in the wee hours of the morning when the bar is closed and we're both crosseyed tired. But I'm sure he's just as much fun when I'm sober/well-rested.

* People I barely missed over the weekend: saw Allison Bechdel walking through the lobby of a hotel, but she has no idea who I am, so I let her be. Saw Archaia's Stephen Christy by the pool, but he was on his cell phone. Saw Darwyn Cooke on the street, but I was on my cell phone.

* Sunday, my version of kids day involved a lap on the floor catching up with some of the folks making kids comics for the traditional print markets: * NBM's Papercutz has a new PR guy who's very helpful. Jesse Post in the hizzouse! Fans kept stopping by their booth to get some kind of Power Rangers stamp that combined with others for a free t-shirt. Power Rangers fans kind of fascinate me.

* Spoke with a few bros at Capstone Books – the Minneapolis-based publisher that did those rad Art Baltazar "Super-Pets" books. They've got a number of kids comics coming out this year and were excited both for their offerings and because it turns out two of them go to the same university as me.

* Ape Entertainment has had a TON of Richie Rich product hitting over the past few weeks. Between that and the app they've been pushing, I hope they're finding the audience for that material. New Ernie Colon/Sid Jacobson stories, y'all!!

 * Spent a while at that booth talking up Brent Erwin, Dave Hedgecock and Aaron Sparrow. They're stated ethos for publishing so many kids comics is "If we don't do it, who will?" I think that's a kind of a valid point, which is a little sad when you think about it too much. Still, they've gone from publishing creator-owned all-ages books like Scratch 9 to having a nice newsstand-distributed magazine dedicated to comics stories featuring one of the biggest animation studios in the world in a few short years without dropping much of anything along the way, so maybe not many others are meant to do it.

 * Wrapped my show getting an autograph on my copy of Love & Rockets: New Stories Vol. 5 from Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez. They said they barely had time to do anything fun at the show until that day either because they were so busy. As it should be.

* I'm sure I forgot to mention someone awesome I spoke to at this year's show. Tell me I'm a jerk in the comments, gang! And thanks for the memories!