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THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN As the legendary comics hero celebrates his 50th anniversary, a brand new film restarts his big screen adventures.

PLUS Prince Valiant Love & Rockets WonderCon Comic-Con APE

Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield in The Amazing Spider-Man




House Of Lies









IN BETWEEN. Order Showtime now and you can get $25 CASH BACK* CALL 1-800-SHOWTIME or go to *Sign up for Showtime and you can get $25 cash back after three (3) months of paid service. All qualified $25 claims will be paid in the form of a $25 Visa prepaid debit card. Offer expires 12/31/2012. To receive your $25 prepaid debit card, write your name and address on a 3x5 card and mail it along with your three (3) month’s paid service bill dated between 1/1/2011 and 3/31/2013 indicating your new Showtime subscription to: $25 Showtime National Rebate Program, Dept. SHO, P.O. Box 430796, El Paso, TX 88543-0796. Offer available to new Showtime subscribers only. Minimum of 3 months Showtime subscription required. Limit 1 Showtime offer per household in any 12-month period. This cannot be combined with any other offer. Prepaid card will be mailed to you within 8-12 weeks after the receipt of docs. Keep a copy for your files. Card can be used wherever Visa prepaid debit card is accepted. To obtain cash from your card, visit a participating Visa member bank and present your card and ID. Your response must be postmarked by 4/14/2013 and received by 4/28/2013. ©2011 Showtime Networks Inc. All rights reserved. SHOWTIME and related marks are registered trademarks of Showtime Networks Inc.

COMIC-CON ANNUAL 2012 EDITOR/DESIGNER Gary Sassaman CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Fae Desmond, Jackie Estrada CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Blake Bell, Charles Brownstein, Martin Jaquish, Brian M. Kane, Gary Sassaman, Tom Spurgeon SPECIAL THANKS John Cornett, Jason Geffen, Gary Gianni, Mick Mayhew, Laureen Minich, Eric Reynolds, Mark Schultz, Douglas Lathrop

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER LIKE US ON FACEBOOK COMIC-CON ANNUAL is published by Comic-Con International: San Diego. All material, unless otherwise noted, is © 2012 San Diego Comic Convention and may not be reproduced without permission. The views and opinions expressed in the feature articles and guest biographies appearing in this publication are those of the authors and do no not necessarily reflect those of San Diego Comic Convention. Biographical information is supplied by the guests.

IN THIS ISSUE 08 COVER STORY: YEAR OF THE SPIDER Spider-Man turns 50 with a brand new movie, The Amazing Spider-Man. 14 WONDERCON 2012 The show moves to Anaheim: here’s what to look for, including special guests and more! 20 COMIC-CON 2011 PHOTO ALBUM A look back at the big event of the year. 32 SPIDER-MAN @ 50 Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, and the Romitas: 1962 and the birth of Spider-Man and the Marvel heroes. 38 LOVE & ROCKETS @ 30 Los Bros. Hernandez’s seminal alternative comics title changed the industry when it launched in 1982. 42 PRINCE VALIANT @ 75 Hal Foster’s incredible creation has stood the test of time. Plus Gianni and Schultz’s current version. 48 COMIC-CON INTERNATIONAL 2012 Early info on this year’s big event, including guests, Eisner Award judges, the Masquerade and more! 68 WILL EISNER SPIRIT OF COMICS RETAILER AWARD An interview with Tel Aviv’s Comics and Vegetables, the 2011 Award recipient. 72 APE: THE ALTERNATIVE PRESS EXPO Coverage of the 2011 show and a sneak peek at 2012’s event.


Images presented in this publication are copyright their respective owners and presented for historical and research purposes. Comic-Con, the Comic-Con logo, and the WonderCon logo are registered trademarks of San Diego Comic Convention. PRINTED IN CANADA by Lebonfon Printing. Comic-Con International P.O. Box 128458 San Diego, CA 92112-8458 2


SPECIAL ONLINE EDITION! Click on the links in the purple boxes for updated info on our website!



Back in the 1960s—a whole century ago—DC’s 80-Page Giant line of books prom-

BOARD OF DIRECTORS President/CFO: John Rogers

ised hours of reading pleasure. We hope we’re able to recapture that for you with

VP/Administrator: Events: Robin Donlan

this second Comic-Con Annual, which tops 80 pages for the first time. Our feature articles include work by some of the finest writers on comics out there, as they help us celebrate the anniversaries of Prince Valiant, the Amazing Spider-Man, and Love & Rockets. We also give you a long look back at Comic-Con International 2011 with a special photo album, as well as sneak peeks at the 2012 editions of WonderCon, Comic-Con, and APE, the Alternative Press Expo. And speaking of WonderCon, you won’t want to miss our first show in Anaheim, CA! One of the big panels at that event will be an exclusive look at the new Amazing Spider-Man film, which is this issue’s cover feature, including interviews with star Emma Stone and director Marc Webb. For updated information on all of our events, visit!

VP/Administrator: Operations: William Pittman Treasurer/Chief Technology Officer: Mark Yturralde Secretary/Executive Assistant: Mary Sturhann Directors At-Large: Frank Alison, Alan Campbell, Ned Cato Jr., Craig Fellows, Eugene Henderson, Anastasia Hunter, Lee Oeth, Chris Sturhann Executive Director: Fae Desmond Director of Marketing & Public Relations: David Glanzer Director of Print and Publications: Gary Sassaman Director of Programming: Eddie Ibrahim Director of Talent Relations: Maija Gates HR/Office Manager: Sue Lord Guest Relations: Janet Goggins Exhibits: Director of Operations: Justin Dutta Exhibits: Sales: Rod Mojica

ON THE COVER Emma Stone is Gwen Stacy and Andrew Garfield is Peter Parker in this EXCLUSIVE photo fom the new movie The Amazing Spider-Man. See the feature article beginning on page 8. Cover photo by Frank Ockenfels 3 © 2012 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. Spider-Man character ™ & © Marvel & Subs.

Exhibits: Registration: Sam Wallace Eisner Awards Administrator: Jackie Estrada Professional Registration: Heather Lampron, Anna-Marie Villegas Program Participant Registration: Amy Ramirez Line Management Coordinator: Adam Neese Assistants to the Executive Director: Lisa Moreau, Tony Kim Assistants to the Director of Marketing and PR: Damien Cabaza, Karen Mayugba, Mike Stoltz Assistants to the Director of Programming: Tommy Goldbach, Christopher Jansen Assistant to the Director of Talent Relations: Joey Plaskett Exhibits Assistant: Alex Gentry Office Staff: Patty Castillo, Cecy Cordero, Ruben Mendez, Glenda Lynn Vanetti, Julia Wallsall

EVENTS: Anime: John Davenport, Josh Ritter At-Show Newsletter: Chris Sturhann Films: Steve Brown, Josh Glaser Games: Ken Kendall Masquerade: Martin Jaquish Technical Services: Tristan Gates

EXHIBITS: Artists’ Alley: Clydene Nee Art Show: LaFrance Bragg Autograph Area: Katherine Morrison Exhibit Floor Managers: Taerie Bryant, Michelle Hylton, Andy Manzi, Brian Turpin

MISSION STATEMENT Comic-Con International: San Diego is a nonprofit educational corporation dedicated to creating awareness of, and appreciation for, comics and related popular art forms, primarily through the presentation of conventions and events that celebrate the historic and ongoing contribution of comics to art and culture.

OPERATIONS: Archivist: Eugene Henderson Deaf and Disabled Services: William Curtis Hospitality Suite: Mikee Ritter Information: Bruce Frankle Logistics: Dan Davis Materials Chief/Blood Drive: Craig Fellows Registration: Frank Alison, John Smith Volunteers: Sue Lord, Jennifer Maturo, Marc Wilson

Photo by Rudy Manahan








JUNE FORAY: Comic-Con Icon The legendary June Foray is the latest recipient of the Comic-Con Icon Award. The award was given to the first lady of cartoon voices as part of The Scream Awards, telecast on the SPIKE cable network in October 2011. Ms. Foray is the voice of such pop culture icons as Rocky the Flying Squirrel and his nemesis Natasha Fatale on Rocky & Bullwinkle, Nell Fenwick on Dudley Do-Right, Granny on Tweety & Sylvester, Aunt May on Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends, and Ursula on George of the Jungle, just to name a few of her thousands of animated cartoon credits. Her recent autobiography, Did You Grow Up With Me, Too? tells the story of how she became one of the legends of voice-acting. In addition, Ms. Foray has been an important part of Comic-Con International over the past four decades, appearing at the event numerous times since her first appearance in 1973. Comic-Con’s Icon Award is presented to individuals or organizations who have been instrumental in bringing comics and/or the popular arts to a wider audience. Ms. Foray’s large body of work has placed her squarely in the realm of pop culture greats. She joins an impressive list of past Icon Award recipients, who include Frank Miller (2006), Neil Gaiman (2007), George Lucas (2008), Stan Lee (2009), and Ray Bradbury (2010). (For more on June Foray, visit

A Cast of Thousands BY MARK EVANIER

Someone once referred to June Foray as “The female Mel Blanc.” Which caused animation director Chuck Jones to famously remark, “June Foray is not the female Mel Blanc. Mel Blanc is the male June Foray.” But of course. Both of them spent decades upon decades providing voices not just for animated cartoons but also for radio shows, commercials, dubbing sessions . . . anywhere you could be heard and not seen. Those who think they know most of what June has done are wrong. Even June doesn’t know most of what June has done. Year after year, her life involved going from one recording studio to June with her co-authors, Mark Evanier (l) and the late Earl Kress. another, living from microphone to microphone. In a given day, she might record two commercials here, a couple of cartoons there, the voice of a talking doll at her next stop, and then finish the day by replacing the dialogue for an on-camera actor who looked but didn’t sound right. She started (mumble mumble) years ago and has been doing it long enough to grow gracefully into the role of Granny, the owner of a very famous Tweety Bird. But she can also still sound like a 10-year-old boy or even a flying squirrel who probably isn’t much older than that. I was a fan of June’s before I had any idea who she was. As a kid, I loved old Warner Brothers cartoons and new Jay Ward cartoons and any sort of Stan Freberg record . . . and as I eventually learned, June was in all of them. But then June was in just about everything. I think I was asked to write this piece because for the last few years, I’ve occasionally had the stunning (to me) experience of “directing” June in voice sessions, mainly for The Garfield Show. I put that word in quotes because you don’t really direct June Foray. You hire her . . . and once you’ve done that, you’ve done the hard part. Then you point her to the proper microphone and you give her a script and tell her which parts she’ll play. She can play anyone or anything with a voice higher than Thurl Ravenscroft’s. You book her, then you get the heck outta the way. Don’t even think of telling her how to read a line. She’s June Foray, after all. If you want her to do it again . . . well, that probably won’t be necessary but she’s professional enough that she’ll do it again even though it was perfect the first time. She’ll do it to humor you so you can pretend you’re really directing her. But you can’t. Because she’s June Foray. She is such a treasure that to give her the Comic-Con Icon award is to state the obvious. Even leaving aside all she’s done to promote animation (founding ASIFA), promote short films (serving on the Academy board), and make so many childhoods so much better, she deserves this award like no one has deserved any award. Because she isn’t just an actress. She’s a cast of thousands, and we love every one of them. 4


Foray Icon Award photo by Mark Davis/PictureGroup; Evanier-Foray-Kress photo by Chuk Gawlik

COVER STORY: Frank Quitely and Jim Lee

Splash Page

Over the past few years, Comic-Con has been commissioning all new art for the covers to its Souvenir and Program Books. Below is artist Frank Quitely’s original pencils (left) and inks and colors for the 25th Anniversary WonderCon Program Book, published in April 2011.

For the Comic-Con International 2011 Souvenir Book, DC co-publisher Jim Lee contributed his first-ever cover, featuring a sneak peek at the New 52 version of the Justice League. The cover—inked by Scott Williams (right) and colored by Alex Sinclair (inset below) was so popular it was used for the third printing of the first issue of the new Justice League comic book. See page 74 for Shannon Wheeler’s APE cover story!

Art © 2011 DC Comics



Splash Page

HISTORY LESSON: THE COMIC-CON 40th ANNIVERSARY BOOK Comic-Con International: San Diego celebrates its 43rd year in 2012, as the longest continually running comics and popular arts convention in the country. Over the past four decades, the show has grown to be a pop culture phenomenon. Since 1970, the San Diego Comic-Con has been a must-attend event for comics fans all over the world. The incredibly rich history of the convention is celebrated in Comic-Con: 40 Years of Artists, Writers, Fans, and Friends, a beautiful hardcover coffeetable book. Published by Comic-Con, in conjunction with Chronicle Books—one of the leading publishers of art, photography, and pop culture books in the world—this beautiful 208-page history features an amazing assortment of exclusive art and photos, many of which have never been seen outside of the Comic-Con archives. Topped off by a wraparound cover by cartoonist Sergio Aragonés and with an introduction by dean of science fiction writers and long-time Comic-Con guest Ray Bradbury, this book is a veritable time capsule of Comic-Con—and comics!—history. You can purchase your own copy by visiting The price is $40, but when you buy it directly from ComicCon, we pay your postage and sales tax. Visit the website for complete details, and order your copy today!



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Comic-Con International Hotel Reservations Open

JULY 12–15:

Comic-Con International: San Diego San Diego Convention Center (Preview Night: July 11)

OCTOBER 13–14: APE (Alternative Press Expo) Concourse Exhibition Center, San Francisco, CA 6


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The Amazing Spider-Man celebrates his 50th anniversary in comics this year. That half-century has been highlighted with a long list of incredible adventures, in comics, animation, television, video games, and especially movies. Most appropriately, Columbia Pictures chose this year to introduce their entirely new take on the Webslinger. After a trilogy of immensely popular films by director Sam Raimi, the Spidey saga restarts under director Marc Webb and starring Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker, Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy, and Rhys Ifan as Dr. Curt Connors, aka The Lizard. ComicCon Annual talked to Webb and Stone about the new film and what it means to bring a new look and feel to a legend. 8


Photos © 2012 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc.; all Marvel Characters including the Spider-Man character ™ & © Marvel & Subs.

Marc Webb Director Marc Webb’s first film was the critically acclaimed 500 Days of Summer, a quirky indy romance starring Joseph Gordon Levitt and Zooey Deschannel. A giant action film based on one of the world’s most popular comic book characters may seem an odd choice for a second film, but as you’ll see from this exclusive interview, the aptly named Webb is more than up for the daunting task of introducing a totally new version of Spider-Man with a lot of action, a little romance, and the story of a boy becoming a man.

Your first film was 500 Days of Summer, which is very different from The Amazing Spider-Man. What made you tackle a project that’s so different? Marc Webb: There are parts of it that are obviously very different . . . the action parts of it and the scope of it is certainly quite large. But at the end of the day the character journey isn’t that far off. [They’re both] about young men learning how to grow up despite adversity in a sense. But I think what drew me to this was it was a story about a kid who grows up without a father. My first impulse when I had been talking about doing the movie with Marvel and with Columbia was there was a missing piece. There’s this opportunity there to explore the emotional residue of what it means to be an orphan. If your parents are taken away from you when you are 6, 7 years old, that’s going to leave a mark on who you are, and that was very compelling to me. I thought it was really interesting. It’s not something that you’d really seen explored very much cinematically with Spider-Man or with Peter Parker. His parents are spies and there are different stories that come up here and there [in the comics]. But to me it’s not necessarily about rendering the comic, it’s about being loyal to a character and really thinking about how that character would behave in the real world. You have to take him off the page and insert him into a universe that feels real and tactile and recognizable and that’s a real trick. That’s a challenge of any adaptation and in particular with comics, which can be very heightened. But what makes Spider-Man and Peter Parker so specifically interesting is that he’s an intensely relatable character, more so than I would say about 99 percent of superheroes. Peter Parker has the same problems that we do and comes from a working class family. He’s very relatable and so to extend that into the cinema just seems sort of natural. We wanted to keep it more grounded, and part of that Photo by Jaimie Trueblood

Marc Webb on the set of The Amazing Spider-Man.

grounding is to really think about how this kid would grow up given the circumstances that he was assigned as a very young kid. And that story about his parents and their absence plays a much bigger role in this film than we’ve seen. You came out with a new poster in December that said “the untold story” on it. Is that the untold story you’re looking to tell? That’s part of the untold story certainly. It’s really important for us to be able to communicate that this isn’t a remake of Sam Raimi’s movie. There’s new territory, there’s a new villain, it’s a different Peter Parker. When you look at the original comics, do you look at that as the Holy Grail or as a jumping off point? Jumping off point. I mean there are certain truths and there’s certain iconography that you just can’t undermine, and I have to be loyal to parts of the cannon. And there are also wonderful, wonderful stories and characters that emanate from that. The Gwen Stacy saga is something that I think is just really incredible storytelling. That’s something that we were curious about exploring in a very specific way. But there are certainly things from the Ultimate Spider-Man series that were really inspiring too, like Mark Bagley’s art. I really love the way Spider-Man’s body moves: it’s more alive, more gymnastic, with a velocity to the way the character moves in the later comics. And the world that we live in is different than it was when Spider-Man was first invented and I wanted to be loyal to a contemporary feeling. Besides, with Sam I think they sort of did that before. So I wanted to make it a little less stylized and a little bit more realistic. Why did you feel Gwen Stacy was the way to go as opposed to Mary Jane?

We’ve seen Mary Jane. I also think that Gwen Stacy is a young scientifically minded woman who’s super smart, maybe even a little bit smarter than Peter at times. I like that dynamic, that there was a rivalry between the two of them in some way. And I think Emma and Andrew’s chemistry really describes that in a fun, very intimate way. Was there a moment when you tested them when you just said, “This is it . . .”? Yeah we did screen tests and Emma just showed up and it was all over. Andrew’s a pretty intense guy, but she had him in stitches between takes. She had him just cracking up, and I would watch them in between takes. They didn’t know each other and she’s just so comfortable and so confident. You needed that energy because Andrew is a very dominating presence and she just went toe to toe with him, which is exactly the dynamic we needed. Looking at the trailers and the poster, this film seems to have a bit of a darker tone to it, yet Spidey has always been a wisecracking, fun kind of superhero. Are you able to maintain that humor in your film? There’s this trickster quality we were very keen on exploring, with that humor and that fun and that wisecracking stuff. We wanted to keep that alive, but we wanted it to be realistic. We wanted that humor to come from a real place. My aim was to create a world where you could feel all those emotions. There are certainly darker, more intense feelings in this movie. There is betrayal, there is tragedy, but there’s also humor and romance. So it’s a very complex bouquet of emotions, but what you have to tread on is what feels authentic and what feels real, and you have to earn those different emotions. There are moments of furiousness and gravity, absolutely. But are there WWW.COMIC-CON.ORG


Webb on Spidey: “You have to take him off the page and insert him into a universe that feels real . . . and that’s a real trick.” moments of humor and levity and whimsy? Absolutely. Andrew was really great. He used this term to describe Peter Parker in Spider-Man and Spider-Man in particular: he’s a trickster. He was like “How would Spider-Man web this guy? He’d give him a wedgy or he’d do some awful graffiti.” There’s a punk rock quality to Peter Parker that’s really irreverent and fun and that’s something that Andrew embodies in a way that we haven’t seen before. Certainly the materials that have come out have a darker sentiment or there’s a darker projection, but we’re very keen on staying loyal to the humor of Spider-Man. It seems the way Spider-Man is, his powers and the way he moves, would really lend itself to 3D. When we first talked about it, it was in the heyday of 3D and there was a lot of craziness about it, but it was never forced upon us. I thought if there’s ever a movie that should be in 3D, it’s Spider-Man for crying out loud. And watching it in 3D, particularly in IMAX, even the early stuff I’ve seen, it’s fantastic. You get a visceral feeling that you don’t get any other way when you have good 3D. We shot this all in stereo so it was native 3D. Nothing has been converted. And when you get that scope, the movie gradually expands. It starts off in a very intimate, small way and gradually expands to take advantage of that sensation. So do you have to see it in 3D? No, you’ll still get the thrill of it. But those point-of-view sequences, those came very directly from a philosophy about putting the audience in Spider-Man’s shoes. We wanted them to feel what he feels, and that’s where those sequences came from. You’ve been quoted as saying that you wanted to do less CGI in this film and more real stunts. We really made an effort to shoot everything practically. In the second half of the movie we expanded and started using CG just because there are things that human beings can’t do, like swinging through the streets off of a 60-story skyscraper. But I wanted there to be a grounded quality to the fights and to some of the swinging, so we built up to that while doing stuff, practicing. We shot a whole sequence underneath Riverside Drive in New York where we had a series of traveling rigs, which are wire rigs that were designed by Andy Armstrong, our stunt coordinator. Nothing of that scale had been done before where you could actually get a stunt man or at times Andrew to swing back and forth as Spider-Man would swing. It’s an incredible feat of engineering that’s never been successfully attempted before and you really feel it. You mentioned at one point that Andrew could have a second career as a stunt man. He’s very, very good physically and was really focused on how Peter inside the Spider-Man suit moved. He was always very focused on trying to create a spiderlike Spider-Man. He wanted to invent the character that possessed the body of Spider-Man. We would do dozens of takes just to get an elbow move right, just to get the head turn and the shoulders crooked in just the 10 COMIC-CON ANNUAL 2012

right way so it felt like a legitimate, strange, spider-like creature underneath this suit. When you were shooting on Riverside Drive in New York, how do you deal with all these people who are trying their best to capture video and photos and put it on the Internet? Does that kind of thing drive you crazy? It does. It does because they’re shooting it from the wrong angle and we spend a lot of time lighting things for our camera, not for the other people’s cameras and that’s frustrating. But at the same time there’s enthusiasm and interest. I would be that guy with a camera waiting outside. I would do that. If I weren’t making movies, I’d be a fan and I understand that. I think it’s the world in which we live now and you can’t control the conversation, you can just be a part of it. What bums me out is that I want to maintain some element of mystery, but you also have to engage people, especially given the fact that we’re starting a new chapter of Spider-Man. People need to understand that we’re defining it in a new and different way and we have to spend time articulating that. You don’t want people just inventing or assuming the story is one thing when it’s really something quite different. And it’s frustrating when you can’t control the mystery as much as you would like to. Let’s talk about your three lead actors and what each of them brought to their roles, starting with Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker, the Amazing Spider-Man. Andrew’s passion for the Spider-Man character is present in every frame of the movie. He cares really deeply and was so committed. And I think if any Spider-Man fan saw him on a day-to-day basis, they would deeply respect what he’s brought to this and how much he cared. It’s just undeniable and I really admire that and how much he’s given to the character and to the movie. [His speech in Hall H at Comic-Con] is a perfect example of why Andrew was the right guy. It’s about a loyalty to this thing that really moved him when he was young. He was a skinny kid that felt physically insecure. He wasn’t a big kid, and everybody else was bigger than him and stronger than him and faster than him. That stuck with him and I think that helped define his work ethic in a way. He read a lot of Spider-Man when he was a kid and I think that got under his skin and you could feel that. He wrote that speech, you know. [See page 12 for Andrew’s Hall H introduction.] And the e-mails I got from him very early on in the process were filled with a deep expression of love for the character. It’s pretty moving. It’s pretty cool and he really owned it and that I admire. That’s really what he brought to the table, that intense commitment. Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy. Humor and beauty. What I love about Emma is that every guy falls in love with her, but with every woman on the set, she’s like their best friend. She is so cool. But what I like about her too is that she’s new and she’s not cynical and she really represents women very

well. I think she’s a real strong woman, she’s a strong character and she puts a lot of herself in that. The other thing she can do is she represents the funny in the movie. She brings so much humor and wit. There’s a quick scene about halfway through the movie with her and Dennis Leary where she was improvising some things and every time we screen the movie, even at this early stage, it brings the house down. She delivers and she’s unashamed. Dennis is a highly trained, incredibly successful comedian and she went toe to toe with him. She was incredible. She can hold her own with anybody. I met Judd Apatow not long after we started shooting and we were talking about how amazing Emma was, and you know we all think that she’s one of the great comediennes. Lucille Ball is her hero and you can really see that, but she also delivers a really authentic, emotional performance. There’s some scenes in the movie between her and Andrew that are just beautiful and very moving, that are romantic but aren’t about humor. They’re about connection and loss. She can stir you up. Finally the villain, Rhys Ifans as Dr. Curt Connors. The Welshman. He’s fantastic. He brings a surly sophistication. Curt Connors is a friend of Peter Parker. He is an ally who evolves into an adversary, but Peter always cares deeply for Dr. Connors. Rhys has two sides to his personality. He has a wonderful kindness and warmth, and he has this surly rock ’n’ roll part of his personality and you really sense both of those in this movie. All the Spider-Man films have kind of had a bit of an origin story at Comic-Con. What was it like for you stepping on the Hall H stage for the first time? We were all a bit nervous because we feel a real obligation to the fans and we had a lot to prove. I think after we showed the footage you could feel the audience connecting and laughing at the right times and being interested and surprised at the right times. It felt really good. There were a lot of blog posts afterwards that were really like, “Oh . . . now we get it.” It’s a big intimidating environment, but Comic-Con is the heart of those hardcore fans, and it was really, really important for us to have a presence there. We all came out of it feeling really, really good. I took a train back home and everybody was glowing. It was a really great experience and a great environment. What was the one thing you didn’t see coming in making this film? I don’t know if there was one thing. I think what I started to notice was how many kids you see running around in Spider-Man outfits—not just on Halloween—and how meaningful it is to people. How people really actually care and how protective they are of Spider-Man. I find it moving and inspiring. That was a surprise: the scope of his impact across the world and not just in America. It’s like you go all over the place and Spider-Man is everywhere.

Emma Stone Emma Stone is coming off—by her own estimation— her best year yet. The young actress had roles in the critically acclaimed films The Help and Crazy Stupid Love and a cameo in Friends with Benefits. She returned to Saturday Night Live to host for a second time and managed to pull off one of the best shows of the season. But a good part of her year was spent hanging out with Spider-Man, both on the set and at Comic-Con. We talked to Emma right before Christmas about her role as Gwen Stacy, her love of Comic-Con, and the possibility of an action figure looming in her not-so-distant future.

When everyone heard that you were first going to be a part of The Amazing Spider-Man, they automatically assumed you were going to be Mary Jane Watson. What appealed to you about appearing in a big superhero franchise movie and taking on an iconic character such as Gwen Stacy? Emma Stone: When I auditioned for it, I didn’t get the full script, I only got scenes between Gwen and Peter and I screen-tested with Andrew. I heard about Spider-Man and I didn’t think that was something I would want to be a part of. I just thought that probably isn’t right for me. Then I had the scenes and I realized that this was a really interesting fantastic relationship between two people and that I was being really close-minded. I liked all the Spider-Man movies and I’ve liked so many superhero movies that I don’t know why I had that kind of mentality about it. Then I went in and auditioned with Andrew and started learning more about Gwen Stacy and her history and just fell in love with the character and with the fans, too. I started reading forums and getting involved more in the comic book universe and it just became something I really wanted to be a part of, just because of all those elements. You went from playing a literary character in The Help who was in a much beloved book with its own kind of following, to a comic book character who’s iconic and has this rabid following. Was there a big difference for you between those characters and how they’re treated by their fans? Well of course the characters themselves are incredibly different and there seems to be a different fan base between Spider-Man fans and fans of The Help. There are conventions for Spider-Man fans and there aren’t for The Help fans, although I would love to see a convention of The Help fans. It could be like the Big Lebowski Fest. But they’re two totally different worlds to me even though they both had such a rabid following. There’s a difference just in terms of bringing the material to life. There are different incarnations of Gwen Stacy and of Peter Parker throughout comic book history, all these different storylines to pull from depending on what kind of script you’re going to patch together. With The Help, it was such a distinct story that kind of needed to be matched line for line in a way. It felt different just in Photo by Albert L. Ortega

Emma Stone at the Spider-Man panel at Comic-Con in 2011.

terms of becoming part of it and the way the material was adapted. But I’m so excited to be part of a movie with a built-in fan base in that way. You go to Comic-Con and there’s so much passion in one room. Everybody’s so passionate about these characters and how they’ve affected their own lives. It’s a really cool thing as an actor to know that you’re part of something that’s so much bigger than you. You’re not creating it from the ground up, you’re trying to fill the shoes of someone that’s been around a lot longer than you. It’s really exciting. I love that aspect of it. Why do you think the producers and writers went with Gwen instead of Mary Jane? Well, Gwen’s story happened before Mary Jane’s, and I think that coming back to their roots, it was interesting to explore the woman who came before Mary Jane. I think she’s such a definitive part of Peter Parker’s relationship with Mary Jane ultimately, who is literally the polar opposite in personality of Gwen Stacy. I think just building that into Peter’s life and seeing that story from the very beginning was really interesting. And of course Gwen’s story is so beautiful and important to the story of Spider-Man that I think they wanted to come from that angle at this time. Director Marc Webb’s first film was 500 Days of Summer, which is more of a bittersweet romance. What do you feel he brought to Spider-Man with that kind of background? I think that a huge part of what he brought to SpiderMan was the true core of the relationship, and how even though this is a boy that’s been bitten by a spider and given super powers, he is a very human teenage boy that just happens to be under these circumstances. He’s lost his uncle and he’s falling in love for the first time and he’s going through some incredibly human experiences while not quite being human himself anymore. And I think that Marc’s vision was just that it’s a very huge world that we’re operating in but the story itself is in a room between people. There are elements of Spider-Man all throughout that; big sequences and scenes with action and violence, but I think Marc really cared so much about the heart of the story and the humanity in his relationships. When the comic was first created back in the 1960s, one of the things that separated it from other comics was the kind of soap opera elements of it. Do you think the heart of this movie is a romance story?

I think that a big part of the heart of this story is romance, but there’s also the story of an orphan boy who’s searching for his father and searching for his place in the world. I think that’s a big element in this movie from the very beginning, him feeling instantly like an outcast because he was left as a child. He still was put into a different set of arms [with Uncle Ben and Aunt May] and he’s cognizant of that and you can see that in the movie. But it’s not like it happened when he couldn’t remember it. I think that’s a pretty major element, too . . . coming to terms with who you are and what you’re responsible for, even if people walked away from you. What was it like working with Andrew Garfield? I think his deep love and appreciation for Spider-Man were pretty apparent throughout the entire process of the movie. I think it’s really awesome to have such a huge Spider-Man fan play Spider-Man because he was so protective of all the elements of Peter Parker’s nature. It’s a really nice thing to watch someone who’s read all the comics and dreamt of being this person since he was four years old bring that dream to fruition. I think he’s such an excellent actor and such a great person that I feel so proud of him and what he did in the movie. What did you think when he stepped up to the mic at Comic-Con and revealed his own Spider-Man story and his history with the character? WWW.COMIC-CON.ORG 11

Stone on Gwen: “It’s a really cool thing as an actor to know that you’re part of something that’s so much bigger than you.“ I think we all were biting our nails for that moment because we knew like maybe an hour before that he was going to do that because they had to bring him out early through a different way. It was really last minute, and he was like, “This is what I’m doing, by the way,” and it was so heartfelt, so honest, and couldn’t be more indicative of the way he played the character. It was just all heart and I thought it was fantastic. I loved it. What did you think of the costume that he wore on that day? I think it was from Target. It was pretty great. Yeah, he could have walked around Comic-Con in it. A number of actors and directors have come to Comic-Con in disguise so they can walk the floor. Do you have any ambitions to do that or have you done that? I would love to do that. I was going to be a Stormtrooper last year, but we had to leave right after the panel to fly back to L.A. so I didn’t get to do it, but hopefully next year. Well, now I can’t be a Stormtrooper, but I’ll pick something else. What was the one thing that surprised you the most about making this film? It was Marc’s approach . . . at the end of the day you’re sitting on the floor looking into the eyes of another actor and it’s just like real life. I feel the heart of it really remained, and it didn’t ever feel

bigger than us in that way. It felt like a human story. I like that. That surprised me because I thought it was going to feel so daunting every day, with wires and harnesses and green screens and it was a pleasant surprise. So how do you feel about the possibility of having your own action figure? Is that going to happen?! If any kids get an action figure of me and act like I did with action figures then it’s going to be a highly inappropriate situation. That’s the next question: would you keep it in the package or would you take it out? I would take it out. Always take it out! At Comic-Con you wore a button that read “What would Laura do,” in reference to producer Laura Ziskin, who passed away last summer. What kind of influence was she on this film and you in particular? Oh God, a huge one. I can only speak for myself but she was a huge influence on me. I named my dog after her husband [screenwriter Alvin Sargent]. She sat with me and would talk to me about how she met Alvin, and the feelings that she had when she met him and how she felt that they mirrored certain elements of Gwen and Peter. So I couldn’t play Gwen without thinking of Laura. And when she was on set, we were lucky. Every day that I was there she was there at some point. But that love story she was so

in love with—Gwen and Peter’s love story—and was so protective of, she had such beautiful ideas for it. I was very affected just in terms of playing that character by Laura. We’ve read a number of times that “Comic-Con is your favorite place on the planet.” Why is that? Because it’s concentrated, it’s like 100% passion in one venue. It’s fantastic. I love that everybody’s there for different reasons and then they’re in the halls for the same reason and then they’re kind of milling about and everybody’s into the same kind of thing. How rare is it to go to a place where everybody is into the same thing? There’s just such a positive feeling there and there’s so much excitement and everybody’s so intelligent about why they’re there. They’re there because they care about something, and that is I think the greatest quality in human beings. The fact that it’s a bunch of people in one place that are that way is really exciting to me every time. One last question: if you could host Saturday Night Live every week would you? Yes, in a heartbeat. In a heartbeat! Look for the special Amazing Spider-Man panel at WonderCon in Anaheim! See page 14 for more details about the event and bookmark www.comic-con. org/wc. The Amazing Spider-Man is in theaters July 3, 2012.

Andrew Garfield’s Amazing Hall H Introduction The Amazing Spider-Man portion of Sony’s panel was about to start in Hall H on Friday, July 22, but the gangly guy in the dorky Spider-Man costume at the question microphone wouldn’t shut up. And then he removed his ill-fitting mask and revealed that he was actor Andrew Garfield. Hey, everybody. Can I say one thing? I think this might be the most incredible day of my life, and I’ve always wanted to be at Comic-Con in Hall H at Spider-Man with all of you guys, it’s always been a dream of mine. So thanks for having me. You have no idea how much this means to me. I’ve always wanted to come here as a fan, and this is my first time so here I am as a fan. I just want to say a couple of things. [He removes his mask to reveal . . . ] I’m Andrew Garfield and I’m here introducing this panel, The Amazing Spider-Man panel. Stan Lee says that the reason why Spidey is so popular is because all of us can relate to him, and I agree. I needed Spidey in my life when I was a kid, and he gave me hope. In every comic I read he was living out mine and every skinny boy’s fantasy of being stronger, of being free of the body I was born into and [having] that swinging sensation of flight. And upon receiving his power—unlike most who’ve become corrupted—he used it for good, and I think we all wish that we had the courage to stick up for ourselves more, to stick up for a loved one more or even a stranger you see being mistreated. Peter Parker has inspired me to feel stronger. He made me, Andrew, braver. He reassured me that by doing the right thing it’s worth it, it’s worth the struggle, it’s worth the pain, it’s worth even the tears, the bruises and the blood and I wouldn’t be able to stand here in front of you guys right now without feeling that Spider-Man was here with me with his reassuring hand on my shoulder making sure I don’t fall over and concuss myself. He has inspired countless people: girls, boys, men, women—all of us—and he has saved lives and he’s saved my life, and I owe Webhead a lot and I owe Stan the Man a lot and I’m humbled to be here—like you do not know—to share the work that we’ve done with all of you. This is my first Comic-Con. This is definitely the coolest moment of my life and thank you for being here and sharing it with me.


Photo by Albert L. Ortega



WonderCon in Anaheim: March 16–18 WonderCon, one of the country’s best comics and pop culture conventions, moves to Anaheim, CA and the beautiful Anaheim Convention Center for 2012. Taking place the weekend of March 16–18 (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday), WonderCon is coming off its best year ever, with over 49,000 attendees at its 25th annual event in San Francisco in 2011. Moscone Center South, the home to WonderCon for the past 9 years, is undergoing renovation work in the first six months of 2012, so dates were not available for the regular venue. Rather than miss a year, Comic-Con International, which has put on WonderCon since 2002, decided to turn to an alternative location for the show: the Anaheim Convention Center, the largest convention center on the West Coast and one of the largest in the world. The Exhibit Hall is filling up fast with some of comics’ biggest and best publishers, including DC Comics, Marvel, Archaia, Aspen MLT, Bongo Comics Group, BOOM! Studios and KABOOM!, IDW, Prism, SLG Publishing, and Top Shelf. In addition, video game companies such as Capcom and Electronic Arts (EA) are on board, along with such other exhibitors as Cartoonists Across America, G4 TV, Quantum Mechanix, the Society of Illustrators Los Angeles, and many more. You can expect a stellar group of small press comic publishers, an amazing Artists’ Alley section, an Autographs area filled with some of your favorite stars, and a wide assortment of old and new comics, original art, action figures and toys, apparel, books, movie memorabilia, and just about everything else under the pop culture sun. In addition to the Exhibit Hall, WonderCon offers attendees, professionals, and exhibitors the complete convention experience. Fans can expect exclusive programming from the top comics publishers in the country, movie and television panels, anime, autographs, games, the popular Saturday night Masquerade (now in its eighth year), and portfolio reviews. The Comics Arts Conference also returns to WonderCon with a full slate of academic-themed programs based on the history and criticism of comics. (See page 18 for more info.) WonderCon in Anaheim has an incredible list of special guests from both comics and speculative fiction. See the article beginning on page 16 for a complete list of guests, all of whom will be featured in programs throughout the weekend, along with an amazing schedule of panels, previews, workshops, and events for attendees of all ages. With the change of venue, WonderCon is more than ever a “must-attend” event on the convention calendar, especially with the addition of the beautiful Anaheim Convention Center and surrounding area as a bonus to both long-time and new attendees. Make it a long late-winter weekend in Anaheim and visit WonderCon, then take in Disneyland right next door after the convention!

WonderCon at a Glance: When: March 16–18, 2012 Friday, March 16: 12:00–7:00 Saturday, March 17: 10:00 Sunday, March 18: 11:00


am–7:00 pm

am–5:00 pm

Nighttime programs continue after 7:00 on Friday and Saturday

Where: Anaheim Convention Center 800 West Katella Avenue Anaheim, CA 92802


ONLINE: 3-Day Badge: • Adult $40 (SAVE $10!) • Junior/Senior $20 (SAVE $5!) 1-Day Badge (Friday OR Saturday): • Adult $20 (SAVE $5!) • Junior/Senior $10 (SAVE $3!) 1-Day Badge (Sunday): • Adult $10 (SAVE $5!) • Junior/Senior $5 (SAVE $2!)

ONSITE: 3-Day Badge: • Adult $50 • Junior/Senior $25 1-Day Badge: (Friday OR Saturday): • Adult $25 • Junior/Senior $13 WonderCon in Anaheim offers attendees warm weather, an abundance of hotel rooms, and great dining opportunities. Anaheim is easy to get to from all over the country, whether by air (LAX, Long Beach, and John Wayne airports), train, or car (via easy access from Interstate 5). The Anaheim Convention Center is located right next to the Disneyland and Disney California Adventure theme parks and is within easy walking distance of Disneyland’s free Downtown Disney district, featuring shopping, a multiplex movie theater, and fine dining, including ESPN Zone, House of Blues, Rainforest Café, Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen, and Tortilla Joe’s. And right outside the door of the Convention Center are two large hotels—including WonderCon’s official headquarters hotel, the Hilton Anaheim—with numerous dining options, whether it be a quick bite, a relaxing dinner, or just a refreshing drink. In addition, the center is right down the street from The Shops at Anaheim GardenWalk, which features Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., California Pizza Kitchen, McCormick & Schmick’s, P.F. Chang, Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion Cuisine, and The Cheescake Factory, other restaurants and shops, and its own multiplex theater. Numerous other restaurants and shops can be found on Katella Ave. and the streets surrounding the Convention Center. 14 COMIC-CON ANNUAL 2012

1-Day Badge: (Sunday): • Adult $15 • Junior/Senior $7 Children 12 and under are free with a paid adult. Ages 13–17 pay Junior prices. Seniors are 60+ years of age. Active-duty military pay the Junior/Senior price. This offer does not extend to dependents. Even though your badge is needed to get into all events, it does not guarantee you access to any event if it has reached its capacity. Rooms are not cleared between events. Most autograph signings are of a limited nature. Your badge does not guarantee autographs at any event.


8th Annual WonderCon Masquerade

Costumers: The Stage Is Reserved for You on Saturday Night!

WonderCon’s Headquarters Hotel: The Hilton Anaheim WonderCon is proud to announce that Travel Planners will be handling all WonderCon hotel reservations for 2012. The beautiful Hilton Anaheim will be the headquarters hotel for WonderCon. Located adjacent to the Anaheim Convention Center, the Hilton is a short walk to Downtown Disney and Disneyland and not far from other dining and shopping attractions in Anaheim. The Hilton has restaurants, a food court, and a Starbucks located on site as well as their Mix Restaurant and Lounge. The lounge is located in the center of their spectacular lobby and is open until 1:30 AM every night. The Hilton is approximately 14 miles from John Wayne Airport and the Long Beach Airport. The Hilton Anaheim will be the home for special WonderCon nighttime events, including games and the Hospitality Suite, where you can grab snacks and meet and greet some of your fellow attendees. The hotel offers an incredible WonderCon room rate of just $129/night for up to four people in the room. You can get complete details—and reserve a room at this special rate— by visiting shtml. Reserve your room today to be a part of all the action and fun at WonderCon 2012! Masquerade photos by Kevin Green

No celebration of comic books, movies, and the other popular arts would be complete without recognition of the art of costuming. Conventions like WonderCon are great places to see attendees show off their creativity and talent, and sometimes their creations are just as good as—or even better than—the costumes seen on the big screen or professional stage. In celebration of the many remarkable ways that people’s imaginations can devise to clothe the human form, WonderCon again presents its Saturday night Masquerade costume competition. The Masquerade takes place on WonderCon’s main stage, with a master of ceremonies and a panel of judges, featuring theater-style lighting, enhanced sound, and large HD video screens displaying great close-up views for all in the audience. Some costumes will be re-creations from movies, comics, TV, video games, Japanese animation, and other sources; other entries will be completely original designs from the clever imaginations of the entrants. Some entries will be solo costumes, while others will be groups with a shared theme. If you’ve crafted a costume, or plan to, we encourage you to share your work on the stage, not only because of the thousands of smiles you’ll create but because you might take home a trophy or prize as well. Last year’s audience, which numbered over 2,900, lined up long before the doors opened, to enjoy the show’s amazing and entertaining creations. Showtime will be Saturday, March 17, at 8:30 pm at the Anaheim Convention Center. Only a WonderCon single-day Saturday badge or a 3-day badge is needed to participate or attend (while seating is available). Doors will open for audience seating at 8:00, and the event will run approximately two hours. Costumes must not have been purchased or otherwise commercially obtained; they must be of original construction or show significant modification of pre-existing materials. All genres are welcome, as are all levels of experience, from the novice to the seasoned convention costumer. Complete information, detailed rules, and an advance entry form are available at wc_masq.shtml, or you can write the Masquerade Coordinator in care of the address listed on page 2 of this publication to get a copy via mail. A limited number of contestant slots are available, so interested costumers should obtain the rules and sign up for a reserved spot now. The deadline for advance entry is March 2, 2012. Last-minute entries will also be accepted until 1:00 pm on the Saturday of the convention, unless all the contestant slots fill up before then. Impressive WonderCon trophies will be awarded by a panel of guest judges in categories to include Best in Show, Judges’ Choice, Best Re-Creation, Best Original Design, Best Workmanship, and Best Presentation. In addition to these trophies, a number of companies and organizations will present their own awards. Visit the website page listed above for complete information.

Contestants from the WonderCon 2011 Masquerade. WWW.COMIC-CON.ORG 15



Special Guests


(artist, Monkeyman and O’Brian, Ultimate Comics: X) Arthur Adams began working in comics at the age of 19, pencilling the Longshot limited series published in 1985 by Marvel Comics. He has since worked on many titles for the major comic companies. His own series, Monkeyman and O’Brian, launched in 1993. Arthur is currently working on a fleet of covers for Marvel. He has also done illustrations for trading cards, posters, shirts, magazines, movies, books, and video games and worked in toy design, packaging art, and even label art for XMen-themed Campbell Soup cans. Arthur lives in Northern California in the woods somewhere, like his hero, Bigfoot.


(cartoonist, Groo, MAD, Sergio Aragonés Funnies) One of MAD magazine’s longest-running cartoonists (only Al Jaffee has been around longer) and the creator of dim-witted barbarian Groo the Wanderer, Sergio Aragonés is one of comics’ most popular creators. Most recently, the man some call the world’s fastest cartoonist launched his own monthly comic book series at Bongo Comics, Sergio Aragonés Funnies.


(author, Fanboys, Ready Player One) Ernest Cline has worked as a short-order cook, fish gutter, plasma donor, elitist video store clerk, and tech support drone. His primary occupation, however, has always been geeking out, and he eventually threw aside those other promising career paths to express his love of pop culture full-time as a spoken word artist and screenwriter. His 2009 film Fanboys, much to his surprise, became a cult phenomenon.  These days Ernie lives in Austin, Texas with his wife, their daughter, and a large collection of classic video games. Ready Player One is his first novel. 


(artist/editor, Womanthology, The Last Unicorn) Renae De Liz has accomplished a lot in her first five years in comics. She illustrated the New York Times bestselling graphic novel adaptation of Peter S. Beagle’s The Last Unicorn for IDW, as well as a few other adaptations such as Anne Rice’s Servant of the Bones. In 2011 she created and managed Womanthology, a 350-page anthology entirely by women with all proceeds going to charity. She raised $109,000 on Kickstarter, becom16 COMIC-CON ANNUAL 2012

ing the #1 most successful comics project and 25th most successful Kickstarter project of all time. She lives in Maine with her husband, sons, and cats.


(writer/historian/producer, Garfield, Kirby: King of Comics) Mark Evanier has worked with Jack Kirby; written hundreds of comic books, including Blackhawk, New Gods, Bugs Bunny, The DNAgents, Crossfire, Scooby Doo, and Tarzan; and written dozens of TV shows, both live-action and animated, the latter including most of the animated Garfield shows for the last 20 years. He is the author of several books on comics, including Kirby: King of Comics, which won two Harvey Awards and one Eisner. He has several other Eisners for his work with Sergio Aragonés on Groo the Wanderer and other silly comics. And he’s hosted countless panels at both Comic-Con and WonderCon.


(artist, The ‘Nam, Micronauts) Artist/writer/creator Michael Golden, cocreator of the X-Men’s Rogue character, Spartan X, and Bucky O’Hare, is known for his groundbreaking work on The ‘Nam, Micronauts, G.I. Joe, Dr. Strange, and numerous other characters and titles. He is counted as one of the best cover designers and storytellers in the business. Currently, Golden’s work can be seen as the regular cover artist for Spawn, while future work includes a few secret projects for IDW and DC and the Spartan X trade paperback.


(author, Locke and Key, Heart-Shaped Box) Joe Hill is the Eisner Award–winning writer of Locke & Key (IDW) and the author of the New York Times bestsellers Horns and Heart-Shaped Box (William Morrow). He lives in New England, where he rules as a cruel snake god, satiated only by a ritual sacrifice of meats and cheeses.


(artist, Angel & Faith, Magus) Rebekah Isaacs is a penciler/inker best known for DV8: Gods & Monsters with writer Brian Wood and her current work on Angel & Faith with writer Christos Gage and executive producer Joss Whedon. Her career began soon after graduating from Savannah College of Art and Design in 2006, penciling several Devil’s Due titles. She landed her first mainstream job with Ms. Marvel #38. Since then she has illustrated several DC and Marvel titles and is having a blast playing in the Buffy universe. She lives in Florida with her fiancée

Jon Price, writer of their creator-owned series Magus, and their cat, Fantastic Donut.


(author, Sandman Slim, Kill the Dead) Richard Kadrey is the author of seven novels, including Aloha From Hell, Sandman Slim, Kill The Dead, Butcher Bird, and the graphic novel Accelerate. The fourth book in the Sandman Slim fantasy noir series, Devil Said Bang, will be published in October. The Dino De Laurentiis Company is developing Sandman Slim into a feature film. He is also a photographer working under the name Kaos Beauty Klinik.


(cartoonist/writer, WayLay, The Simpsons) Carol Lay’s weekly strip, WayLay, ran for almost 20 years in papers in the U.S., including the LA Weekly, NY Press,, and Buzzle, and abroad in such places as Tokyo and Hong Kong, Sweden, Norway, and a tiny daily paper on Gibraltar of all places. Lay’s strips and illustrations have appeared in Newsweek, MAD magazine, The Wall Street Journal, and The New Yorker. Her books include MYTHOS (Pocketbooks/DC Comics), Goodnight, Irene (Last Gasp), The Big Skinny (Villard/Random House), and three strip collections. She currently writes and draws stories for Simpsons comic books (Bongo). Lay lives in L.A., mostly for the alliteration. For more info, visit www.carollay. com.


(artist, Justlce League, Batman: Hush; DC Comics co-publisher) Jim Lee is a renowned comic book artist and the co-publisher of DC Entertainment. Prior to his current post, Lee served as editorial director, where he oversaw WildStorm Studios and was also the artist for many of DC Comics’ bestselling comic books and graphic novels, including All Star Batman and Robin, The Boy Wonder, Batman: Hush, and Superman: For Tomorrow. He also serves as the executive creative director for the DC Universe Online (DCUO) massively multiplayer action game from Sony Online Entertainment (SOE). As part of DC Comics’ The New 52, Lee is drawing Justice League.


(writer/artist/creator, Hellboy, B.P.R.D.) Mike Mignola is best known as the awardwinning creator/writer/artist of Hellboy. He was also visual consultant to director Guillermo del Toro on both Hellboy and Hellboy 2:The Golden Army. He coauthored (with Christopher Golden) the novel BALTIMORE, or, The Steadfast Tin

Soldier and the Vampire. Mike lives in southern California with his wife, daughter, and cat.


(artist, Amazing Spider-Man, Young Justice) Todd Nauck is the artist of the best selling comic book of the last decade, Amazing Spider-Man #583: the Spider-Man/ Barack Obama Team-Up. Todd is a well known artist of the comic book industry and works regularly for Marvel and DC Comics, with 17 years of credits including Amazing Spider-Man, Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, Teen Titans Go, and Young Justice (now a cartoon on Cartoon Network), as well as countless others. His art was recently prominently featured on the season 8 finale of ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition as well as on episodes of ESPN’s NFL Sunday Countdown.


(writer/creator, 30 Days of Night, Criminal Macabre, Mystery Society) Steve Niles is best known for such works as 30 Days of Night, Criminal Macabre, Simon Dark, Mystery Society, and Batman: Gotham County Line. He is credited, among other contemporary writers, with bringing horror comics back to prominence, writing and publishing comics and anthologies since the mid 1980s. As a freelance writer, Niles currently works for four of the top American comic publishers: IDW, DC, Image, and Dark Horse. 30 Days of Night was released in 2007 as a major motion picture, and more of his comics are now optioned for film. Niles’s zombie comic, Remains, is part of Chiller Network’s Chiller Presents series, which premiered in December.


(writer/artist/creator, The Goon) Eric Powell is a five-time Eisner Award– winning writer and illustrator. He has worked for every major comic publisher but is best known for his dark comedy series The Goon and for pissing off people who don’t have a sense of humor. Currently, Eric is collaborating with acclaimed director David Fincher, Blur Animation, and Dark Horse Entertainment to bring The Goon to life on the big screen as an animated feature film.


(artist, Amazing Spider-Man, Impulse, Crimson) Humberto Ramos has been drawing comics since 1993, when he began at Milestone Media, followed by Impulse for DC. In 1998 at WildStorm, he co-founded the Cliffhanger imprint with Joe Madureira






















Lee photo by Victor Ha; Snyder photo by Kevin Green; Waid photo by Lori Matsumoto; Wheaton photo by Atom Moore






and J. Scott Campbell, and published the creator-owned series Crimson and Out There. In 2005, he released the creatorowned Revelations through Dark Horse. At Marvel, Ramos has worked on Peter Parker, Spectacular Spider-Man, Wolverine, New X-Men, X-Men, and Runaways. His most recent work includes the “Big Time” and “Spider Island” story arcs in Amazing Spider-Man and the creator-owned Fairy Quest Book 1.


(editor-in-chief, Legendary Comics) Bob Schreck is the editor-in-chief at Legendary Comics, which recently entered the marketplace with the successful release of Frank Miller’s Holy Terror graphic novel. He is currently developing many other new projects for Legendary, including The Tower Chronicles, written by Matt Wagner and illustrated by Simon Bisley. Schreck is a 30-year veteran of the comic book and entertainment industry. He worked for Marvel Comics and Comico: The Comic Company in the 1980s, worked for Dark Horse Comics during the early 1990s, and then started Oni Press in 1997 with business partner Joe Nozemack. In this century, he spent nearly 10 years at DC Comics, where he was in charge of the company’s Batman franchise and worked under DC’s Vertigo banner.


(writer, Batman, American Vampire, Swamp Thing) Scott Snyder started his writing career with a collection of his short stories, Voodoo Heart, which was hailed as a “Hot Debut” by Kirkus Reviews in 2006. He soon turned his attention to comics, with early work for Marvel (Iron Man: Noir), and his co-creation of the Vertigo title American Vampire, with artist Rafael Albuquerque,

which won both the Eisner and Harvey Awards for Best New Series of 2010. He also wrote an acclaimed run of Detective Comics before launching the new Batman and Swamp Thing titles as part of DC’s New 52 line.


(artist, The Spectre; cover artist, Justice League Dark, DCU Presents) Ryan Sook has been working in comics for the last 15 years as a penciler, inker, and cover artist. His work includes The Spectre with J. M. DeMatties, B.P.R.D. Hollow Earth with Mike Mignola, Arkham Asylum: Living Hell with Dan Slott, X-Factor with Peter David, Seven Soldiers: Zatanna and The Return of Bruce Wayne with Grant Morrison, and Wednesday Comics: Kamandi with Dave Gibbons. Currently Ryan is the cover artist for two titles in DC’s New 52 line, Justice League Dark and DCU Presents.

FIONA STAPLES (artist, Mystery Society, SAGA) Fiona Staples is a Canadian artist known for her covers, which earned her a Joe Shuster award in 2011, and her interior artwork. She’s dabbled in everything from horror to superheroes, illustrating series such as Mystery Society and the Eisner-nominated North 40, and doing covers for Superman/ Batman, DV8, and T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents. She’s currently working on the fantasy epic SAGA with Brian K. Vaughan, due out in 2012 from Image.


(writer/letterer/designer, Elephantmen) Eisner Award winner Richard Starkings started out as a cartoonist and selfpublisher in the UK. He contributed gag strips to Tardis and published four Doctor

Who fanzines of his own. He landed work as a lettering artist on the latter issues of Dez Skinn’s Warrior, Detective Comics, and Batman: The Killing Joke. Starkings became group editor of the Boys’ Adventure titles at Marvel UK, where he broke in Bryan Hitch, Doug Braithwaite, Dan Abnett, Liam Sharp, and Andy Lanning. In the U.S., Starkings created the Comicraft studio, whose fonts are now the mainstay of the lettering industry. But it was always his intention to create and publish his own comic. Image Comics’ sleeper hit Elephantmen is that comic. 


(writer, Superman: Earth One) Winner of the Inkpot, Eisner, Hugo, Saturn, and Ray Bradbury Awards, J. Michael Straczynski wrote 2010’s wildly popular Superman: Earth One graphic novel, with volume 2 due out in 2012. His current film credits include the story for the first Thor movie (he also wrote the comic), the screenplay for Underworld: Awakening (released in January), and several new movie projects, including Shattered Union and Vanishing Point, both for Bruckheimer/Disney. 


(writer/editor, Kingdom Come, Irredeemable, Daredevil) Comics professional Mark Waid has, at one time or another over the past 25 years, held pretty much every job the industry has to offer, from publisher to PR flack to editor to colorist. He is best known, however, as a writer, creator of the Eisner Award–winning Kingdom Come graphic novel with artist Alex Ross, and over 1,200 comics besides, including long runs on The Flash, Fantastic Four, Captain America, Irredeemable, Ruse, and Justice League of

America. A well-known comics historian, Waid looks to the future—and the past— with his upcoming line of digital comics.


(actor/author, Star Trek: The Next Generation, The Big Bang Theory) Wil Wheaton’s successful acting career began in 1986 with acclaimed roles in Stand By Me and Toy Soldiers. In his teen years, he played wunderkind Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Currently, he plays Evil Wil Wheaton on The Big Bang Theory, notorious hacker Cha0s on Leverage, Doctor Isaac Parrish on Eureka, and Axis of Anarchy leader Fawkes on The Guild. But Wil is much more than just an actor; he’s an author, blogger, voice actor, widely followed original Twitter user, and a champion of geek culture. Wil currently splits his time between acting and writing.


(writer/editor, New Teen Titans, Tomb of Dracula) Marv Wolfman has created more characters that have gone on to television, animation, movies, and toys than any other comics creator since Stan Lee. Marv is the writer/creator of Blade, the Vampire Hunter and creator of Bullseye, the prime villain in the 2003 Daredevil movie, and he was the writer/creator of the New Teen Titans, a runaway hit show on the Cartoon Network. Marv also writes video games for many companies, including Warners, Sony, Disney, and others. His adaptation of Superman Returns won the industry’s “Scribe” award, and his nonfiction book Homeland, The Illustrated History of The State of Israel won the National Jewish Book Award among others.

Bob Schreck Headlines Comics Arts Conference’s Sixth Year at WonderCon The Comics Arts Conference celebrates its sixth year at WonderCon with special guest Bob Schreck, the co-founder of Oni Comics and Legendary Comics’ editor-in-chief. Bob will discuss his life in comics publishing and his predictions for the future of the medium with Stanford Carpenter (School of the Art Institute of Chicago). In other programs, Professor E. Paul Zehr will compare Batman and Iron Man to answer the question: Can biology beat technology? Which is more effective: Batman’s development of his physical side or Iron Man’s technological amplification? Dr. Robin Rosenberg will turn from Batman’s body to his mind, asking, “What’s the Matter with Batman?” Along with Batman writers and artists, Rosenberg will consider whether the Dark Knight can be diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder, and if so, which one. Dr. Andrea Letamendi and DC writer Gail Simone move the discussion from Batman to Batgirl, exploring the lessons learned from Batgirl about female superheroes and trauma. Dr. Travis Langley leads a discussion on bringing Batman to the classroom, exploring how an examination of the psychology of Batman can be a jumping-off point for instructors to introduce concepts in literature, composition, linguistics, and gender and cultural studies. And Daniel H. Wilson brings the conversation back to Iron Man through a discussion of his novel Robopocalypse and the present and future of technological fusion using concepts from Iron Man comics, neuroscience, biomedical engineering, and robotics. Other panels include discussions of how comics work formally, comics and feminism, continuity in comics, and the adaptation of comics to other media. The Comics Arts Conference is an academic conference in the heart of Wonder-Con and is designed to bring together comics scholars, professionals, critics, and historians to engage in discussion of the comics medium in a forum that includes the public. 18 COMIC-CON ANNUAL 2012



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the masquerade party is one the highlights of comic-con’s saturday night.

the doctor will see you now . . . one lucky autograph winner got the stars of Doctor who (karen Gillan and Matt Smith) to sign her cast.

CHew creators rob Guillory and John layman with their eisner awards for best continuing series.

the adrian empire duels out back on the convention center balcony.

batman ponders his next purchase.

tsuneo goda with his beloved creation, domo, and his inkpot award.

at the comics fandom 50th party (l to r): paul levitz, wendy & richard pini, and michael uslan.

katie sackoff and bryan cranston talk batman year one.

my neighbor tortoro won two anime company awards at the masquerade.

axe cop creators ethan nicolle and his brother malachai at their panel ... malachai is the youngest special guest to ever appear at comic-con!

that’s one powerful family!


OPPOSITE PAGE: (clockwise, starting in upper left): Raina Telgemeier accepts her Eisner Award for Best Publication for Teens for her graphic novel, Smile; one of MAD’s maddest writers, Dick DeBartolo with his Inkpot Award; Star Trek’s original Captain Kirk, William Shatner, at the panel for his new documentary The Captains; Jeff Smith celebrating the 20th anniversary of his award winning comic series, Bone; when genre icons meet: Hello Kitty Slave Leia; just a fraction of the giant Exhibit Hall; fantasy author Sherrilyn Kenyon at her Spotlight panel; actor Henry Cavill backstage after The Immortals panel; Joss Whedon talking about his Dark Horse comics series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel; and just one of thousands of attendees who paused to take that perfect photo. WWW.COMIC-CON.ORG 21

the walking dead’s robert kirkman, interviewed by g4’s blair butler at the image comics booth.

the winners of the 2011 Comic-Con international independent film festival.

rick baker signs for his fans.

special guest jo chen.

amazing spider-man’s andrew garfield and emma stone.

games were everywhere . . .

writer joe hill introduced the locke & key TV pilot.

as were comic books!

legendary artist tony dezuniga with his newly minted inkpot award.

ATTENDEE INTERVIEW: The Hometown Newbies What’s up? Katie: The Twilight panel was awesome but my favorite panel was for Batman: Year One. The panel was hilarious and the interaction between the panelists and everyone that came to see it was very engaging and it was just really great. This is Nathan’s first day. He didn’t go on the other days. [Nathan likes the toys, including Beyblades, Harry Potter Legos, and Pokémon.] We heard today [Sunday] is a good day to kind of walk the floor and purchase some things before everyone leaves. I still don’t know what to expect. I’m loving the original art. I didn’t come with anything in particular that I wanted to purchase, but I’m sure I’ll walk away with something. Best thing about Comic-Con? Brandon: I like being able to see all the detailed toys and all the displays. Being able to see the panels and previews and stuff, that’s a really cool experience, too. NAMES: Brandon, Nathan, and Katie FROM: This place called “San Diego,” evidently in California NUMBER OF YEARS AT COMIC-CON: Newbies all, including a 16- and an 11-year old (not pictured) 22 COMIC-CON ANNUAL 2012

Katie: For me it’s been the community of Comic-Con. I’ve been going on Comic-Con’s Facebook page a lot. If I have any questions everyone’s been really, really cool about answering them. I haven’t been able to kind of wrap my head around all of [Comic-Con]. But it’s been a really positive experience. Everyone’s been very nice and supportive and just works with you, real helpful, so that part’s been awesome which makes me want to come back. Happy ending? The Hometown Newbies got tickets for 2012!

A World of 99.4% Pure Imagination (and 0.6% Evil Genius) Welcome to Planet Quirk! We’d take you to our leader, but on any given day you’ll find us debating whether that’s James T. Kirk, Buffy Summers, dread Cthulhu, or Colonial President Laura Roslin. So—if you like to geek out over any kind of sci-horror-fantasy-book-game-film-comics fandom at all, just pull up a captain’s chair and stay as long as you like. (It’s cool; we know this guy with a machine that can get you home again before you left in the first place…) PLANET QUIRK RECOMMENDS

Join us online • • •

the cast of hbo’s game of thrones, with creator george r.r. martin (far right).

charlize theron talked about two films: prometheus and snow white & the huntsman

famed comics artist jordi bernet was a special guest.

fantasy author kim harrison.

gabriel ba and fabio moon won the eisner for best limited series, daytripper.

Looking north through the giant exhibit hall.


daniel craig at the world premiere of cowboys and aliens, at the civic theater.

chuck’s yvonne strahovski greets the fans in ballroom 20.

the groo crew (l to r): mark evanier, sergio aragones, tom luth, and stan sakai at the annual “sergio and mark show” panel.

special guest ernie chan.

fantasy author patricia briggs.

comics artist jamal igle with his inkpot award.

chester brown read from his new book at his panel.

the comic-con/robert a. heinlein blood drive once again set a new record!

twilight stars taylor lautner, kristen stewart and robert pattinson returned to comic-con.

the bongo comics booth was a popular spot for kids of all ages.

booster gold and blue beetle look a little different . . .

ATTENDEE INTERVIEW: The Panel Junkie What’s up? I’m very much a panel junkie. I like to just kind of sit here and soak up the knowledge and the geeky goodness, as it were, of meeting and asking questions of people whose work I follow. If you’re trying to be the best panelist ever, study Bruce Campbell and learn from him. I also attended a DC Batman panel that was great. I’m a big fan of Judd Winick as a writer, he’s a favorite of mine. For me, it’s all about the panels. What did you buy? I’ve already got my official Comic-Con T-shirts, but there’s always an opportunity to find something that’s just like “Oh, my gosh . . . I can’t believe they’ve got that, I’ve got to have it!” You never know what you’re going to run into, that’s the best part.

NAMES: Brian FROM: Garden Grove, CA NUMBER OF YEARS AT COMIC-CON: Second time, first time as a “full four-day attendee”

Favorite comics? I I follow several of Marvel’s Ultimate titles. I’m always on the lookout for a good Vertigo or Dark Horse title. There’s always a good graphic novel that’s coming out, and that tends to be what I look for these days. Best thing about Comic-Con: It’s got to be the collective “geekdom,” for lack of a better term. There’s no place, no time, no event on the planet where for an entire weekend you’re going to find this many people [together] with so many common interests. For four days you can just come here and geek out to your hearts content. It’s really impressive and you can just really let your inner geek out. No matter what your genre is, you can come here and this town is yours for just that purpose, and that’s just a great, wide-open, let your hair down kind of feeling. WWW.COMIC-CON.ORG 25

author christopher moore at his spotlight panel.

lee meriwether was one of the popular stars in the autograph area.

superstar directors peter jackson and steven spielberg (with his inkpot award) talked about the adventures of tintin.

dan vado and his slg publishing celebrated their 25th year in comics.

lucasfilms’s former dir. of fan relations, steve sansweet, accepting his inkpot award.

cutting of the cake at the comics fandom 50th party: (L to r): bill schelly, maggie thompson, dick and pat lupoff, roy thomas, and richard kyle.

jim mccann and janet lee were excited to win the eisner award for best graphic novel for return of the dapper men.

stars eve myles and john barrowman presented the new torchwood: miracle day series. 26 COMIC-CON ANNUAL 2012

stan lee and morgan spurlock signed the comic-con documentary movie book at the sideshow collectibles booth.

this giant transformers statue at the hasbro booth became a favorite spot in the exhibit hall to take a photo.

co-publisher and justice league artist jim lee sketching on the big screen in the dc comics booth.

mutts cartoonist patrick mcdonnell won the bob clampett humanitarian award; he’s seen here with presenter ruth clampett.

editor-in-chief axel alonso and writer greg rucka at one of marvel’s panels.

the view from above: the always busy artists’ alley dominated the south end of the exhibit hall.

longtime comic-con volunteer dawn devine retired and received an inkpot award.

oni press’s james lucas jones conducts a portfolio review.

this catwoman has a little bit of steampunk in her, we think.

indy and dc comics creator jeff lemire.

comics writer jen van meter.

ATTENDEE INTERVIEW: The Indie Comics Lover What’s up? John: The thing I’ve enjoyed so far is the benefit of experience that a lot of the people down in the Exhibit Hall have got and are getting, so it’s not so crazy. If you want to go do something, there’s a clearly defined line. Katherine: The crowd control is getting better. Although the crowds—even at their busiest—are a very chill crowd. These are good people to come and experience this with. John: And it doesn’t matter who’s standing behind you . . . there’s something you can strike up a conversation about. I’ve been introduced to so many things just talking to people because we have one thing in common and then they’ll say, “Oh, well . . . I love this other thing.”

NAMES: John and Katherine FROM: Oak Park, CA (north of Los Angeles) NUMBER OF YEARS AT COMIC-CON: John since 2002 (give or take a year or two); Katherine is here for the third time


Favorite comics: John: I really love indie comics. It’s fun reading creators who just have their own stories to tell. They write, they draw, some of them do their own publishing. I love what indie creators will do because they can do anything, they answer to no one. [Comic-Con] is a place where they can really thrive and kind of band together. You walk down a whole line of comic creators and you go there for one, but then you end up getting hooked on the work of the guy in the booth right next door because those creators have been talking the whole time. Best thing about Comic-Con: John: The minute we walk into the Exhibit Hall the first thing we say is we are among our people. Katherine: It’s good to be home.

artist matt wagner draws his signature character, grendel, at one of the cbldf’s master class sessions.

syndicated cartoonist mell lazarus.

designer/cartoonist seymour chwast with his inkpot.

penn & teller on stage in the packed indigo ballroom at the san diego hilton bayfront hotel.

michael c. hall of dexter on the showtime panel.

pee wee herman backstage in hall h.

part of the volunteer crew giving out bags at registration.

this year’s comic-con bags became dresses, coats, vests, and much more.

kevin conroy and mark hamill (the voices of batman and the joker) at the batman: arkham city panel.

eisner award presenters dave gibbons and jonathan ross. WWW.COMIC-CON.ORG 29

artist bill maus in artists’ alley.

sarah michelle gellar returned to comic-con with her new show, ringer.

the big bang theory cast takes a bow after their panel before a packed house in ballroom 20.

this ingenious centaur costume include working hind legs!

oh, well ... time to go home. see you next year!

PHOTO CREDITS: PAGE 20: (Clockwise from upper left): Tony Amat, Austin Gorum, Austin Gorum, Johnakin Randolph, Chuk Gawlik, Kevin Green, Tom Gurnee, Oscar Benjamin, Eric Oleas (center): Allan Barsody. PAGE 21: (1st row, L to R): Sergio Palacios, Oscar Benjamin. (2nd row): Tony Amat, Kevin Green, Kevin Green. (3rd row): Eric Olaes, Chuk Gawlik, Scotty Oson. (4th row): Johnakin Randolph, Rudy Manahan, Kevin Green. PAGE 22: (1st row, L to R): Barry Brown, Kevin Green. (2nd row): Johnakin Randolph, Tom Gurnee, Kevin Green, Kevin Green. (3rd row): Albert L. Ortega, Tina Gill, Oscar Benjamin. even batman has to consult the PAGE 24: (1st row, L to R): Austin Gorum. (2nd row): Albert L. Ortega, Oscar Benjamin, Barry Brown, eventS Guide once Albert L. Ortega. (3rd row): Kevin Green, Tony Amat, Albert L. Ortega. (4th row): Chuck in a while. Gawlik. PAGE 25: (1st row, L to R): Eric Olaes, Rudy Manahan, Oscar Benjamin, Oscar Benjamin. (2nd row): Albert L. Ortega, Barry Brown, Austin Gorum. (3rd row): Kevin Green. PAGE 26: (1st row, L to R): Eric Olaes, Fritz Harmon, Barry Brown, Chuck Gawlik. (2nd row): Albert L. Ortega, Tony Amat. (3rd row): Oscar Benjamin, Kevin Green, Albert L. Ortega. (4th row): Aaron Turkeltaub. PAGE 28: (1st row, L to R): Kevin Green, Kevin Green. (2nd row): Tony Amat, Barry Brown, Eric Olaes. (3rd row): Kevin Green, Barry Brown, Patrick Yeung, Chuk Gawlik. PAGE 29: (1st row, L to R): Brian Wong, Rudy Manahan. (2nd row): Sergio Palacios, Oscar Benjamin, Oscar Benjamin, Albert L. Ortega. (3rd row): Kevin Green, Kevin Green, Johnakin Randolph. (4th row): Brian Wong. THIS PAGE: (1st row, L to R): Chuk Gawlik, Albert L. Ortega. (2nd row): Austin Gorum, Allan Barsody, Patrick Cristobal. (Batman): Sergio Palacios. INTERVIEWS AND ACCOMPANYING PHOTOS ON PAGES 22, 25 and 28: Douglas Lathrop. 30 COMIC-CON ANNUAL 2012




Steve Ditko

John Romita Sr.

John Romita Jr. ™ & © Marvel & Subs.

Over the past 50 years, no new American comic book character has captured the hearts and minds of fans like the Amazing Spider-Man. Launched in Marvel Comics’ final issue of Amazing Fantasy—a series that had already gone through its third title change in its 15-issue run—Spidey’s first appearance almost seemed like an afterthought, a shoe-horning of a superhero into a dying fantasy book. But over the years Peter Parker and his brightly colored alter ego became Marvel’s most popular character, spawning a slew of spin-off titles, all kinds of merchandise, television cartoons, and a series of some of the most popular superhero movies ever made. A new one—aptly titled The Amazing Spider-Man in this 50th anniversary year of the character—is due out on July 3 (see the cover story on page 8). But the celebration of any comic book character’s anniversary begins with the talented writers and artists who told his stories. With Spidey that includes writer/co-creator Stan Lee (along with the many talented scribes who took the reins after 32 COMIC-CON ANNUAL 2012

him) and three of the legion of memorable artists who illustrated his exploits: Steve Ditko, Spider-Man’s co-creator and artist for his first 38 issues (plus Amazing Fantasy #15 and two Annuals); John Romita Sr., who had the unenviable task of replacing Ditko on the book but actually took the character to even greater success; and Romita Senior’s greatest creation: John Romita Jr., who put his own indelible stamp on the character. These three artists, along with Stan, are key to the success of Spider-Man over the past half-century. Blake Bell (Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko) looks at the Ditko mystique and his lasting effect on the character; Tom Spurgeon (The Romita Legacy) chronicles the tale of father and son artists whose Spidey art is among the best ever produced; and we start with a look at Stan Lee’s career and that memorable year of 1962, when new superheroes came fast and furious from the writer/editor and his small staff of co-creators and artists.

C O M I C - C O N 2 012 A N N I V E R S A R Y C E L E B R A T I O N

™ & © Marvel & Subs.

1962: Stan Lee & the Birth of the Marvel Heroes BY GARY SASSAMAN 1962 is the year when Marvel Comics really started. While the Fantastic Four, the flagship title of the Marvel Universe, launched in 1961 (cover-dated for November of that year), the extended Marvel Universe saw its birth 50 years ago. And it’s impossible to talk about that year and comics without talking about Stan Lee. Born Stanley Martin Lieber in 1922, “Stan the Man,” as he would eventually become known in the 1960s, had spent over 20 years in comics by the time the FF rolled around. He started working for his cousin (by marriage) Martin Goodman at Timely Comics in 1939. In 1941, he made his debut as a comic book writer, with a text piece in Captain America #3, graduating to actual comic book stories with issue #5, and created his first superhero, The Destroyer, in Mystic Comics #6, cover-dated August 1941. It was the first creation of many to come over the next 70 years. After a stint in the Army Signal Corps in World War II as a writer, Stan returned to Timely, where he continued as editor-in-chief and art director, positions he held for the next 25 years until he took over as publisher. In the 1950s, Timely Comics became Atlas Comics, and the line survived the tumultuous era of that mid-decade, when the comics industry imploded under the weight of censorship and Congressional hearings, with a greatly reduced lineup of books. By the early 1960s, the company was putting out mildly toned fantasy/monster titles such as Journey into Mystery, Strange Tales, Tales of Suspense, and Tales to Astonish, along with teenage humor books (Millie the Model, Patsy Walker) and westerns (Kid Colt Outlaw, Two Gun Kid). Publisher Goodman came to Stan and told him of the success of National/DC’s Justice League of America and asked him to come up with a superhero team book like it. His response was The Fantastic Four, co-created with Jack Kirby. The book was the antithesis of DC’s JLA. Its heroes were a collection of misfits, banded together by adversity and a strange sense of family, created with a science fiction origin that paid homage to Marvel’s monster books while still reintroducing superheroes (one of which, a new version of the Human Torch, was one of Timely’s more popular characters in the 1940s). The FF was a stunning success, showcasing heroes entirely different for comic books in 1961, and quickly garnered an avid following. Stan boldly

proclaimed it—with just the third issue, no less— “The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine.” Nobody complained or disagreed. After that first major hit, Stan turned his attention to more superheroes, and 1962 was a very good year. The Incredible Hulk—again co-created with Kirby—was first out of the gate, published in March. The character again combined the monster theme with a superhero concept, but it wasn’t a breakout hit like the FF. The Hulk went from gray to green, from inarticulate monster to learned scientist in a behemoth’s body, from tattered purple pants to purple briefs, in its short six-issue run. The character returned a few years later as a co-feature with Ant-Man (another confused hero who quickly became Giant Man) in Tales to Astonish, and went on to become one of comics’ most beloved anti-heroes, along with a popular television series in the 1980s. Stan Lee had another big hit with his next co-creation, this time with Bullpen stalwart, artist Steve Ditko. The Amazing Spider-Man launched in the final issue of Amazing Fantasy (#15) in June 1962 and moved into his own title in December. June also saw the introduction of The Mighty Thor in Journey into Mystery #83, co-written by Lee and his brother, writer/artist Larry Lieber, and drawn by Jack Kirby. The above-mentioned Ant-Man came next, also in June, and again by Lee and Kirby. Crusading scientist Henry Pym first shrunk to ant-sized proportions in Tales to Astonish #27 in 1961 but returned in costume in issue #35. Rounding out the year, Iron Man debuted in Tales of Suspense #39, published in December. His first story—written by Lee and Lieber and drawn by Don Heck—presented him in gray armor, which quickly became gold in the second issue (an all-new costume debuted eight months later). But it was Spider-Man that was the breakthrough success, a title that quickly became synonymous with Marvel Comics, which is what Goodman formally rechristened his company in early 1963. Spider-Man was lightning in a bottle for comics: different, edgy, angst-filled, and quirky. Stan and his collaborators and co-creators launched a unified universe where heroes not only lived in the same world, but knew each other, cross-pollinated in a small number of books in Goodman’s relatively tiny publishing empire. Stan also marketed his comics better than anyone had done since the days of EC Comics in the

early 1950s. He was funny, talkative, and friendly to readers, making them feel like they were a part of a whole connected community. He made his audience want to read all the Marvel books—even Millie and Kid Colt. He introduced the “Bullpen Bulletins” page, a chatty, homespun peek behind the scenes at Marvel. Stan’s small group of interrelated books quickly evolved into a full-fledged universe, but at the same time it felt like a small, intimate family. If you were a Marvel fan in the 1960s, you felt like you were part of something beyond comics, and that sense of community was due to Stan and how he marketed the titles and how he treated the readers in letter columns and elsewhere in the books. The company quickly became popular with college-age readers (proving that comics weren’t

Stan at Comic-Con in 1975. WWW.COMIC-CON.ORG 33

just for kids anymore), and Stan went on the road from campus to campus—eventually even appearing at Carnegie Hall—to preach the comics gospel according to Marvel. Beyond Stan’s marketing prowess, he and the artists created an incredible collaborative environment. Working in the “Marvel Method,” Stan provided his pencilers with a story synopsis and let them work out the beats and action through the 20- to 22-page stories, for which he then provided dialogue. Most of the artists working at Marvel with Stan at that time were never better. Their collaborations with Stan brought out some of their very best art, including Kirby and Ditko, Heck, Dick Ayers, Gene Colan, Gil Kane, and John Romita. Their work with Stan on that first decade of Marvel Comics set a benchmark for superhero comics that—for some readers—has never been topped. While Stan is still “Chairman Emeritus” at Marvel Comics, he has gone on to become one of pop culture’s leading spokespersons. His cameo appearances in all the Marvel movies have garnered him a name recognition beyond the pages of the comic book heroes he co-created, and he has appeared on television in shows such as The Big Bang Theory and Chuck, and has had two reality series, Who Wants to Be a Superhero?, and Stan Lee’s Superheroes. He has been a producer or executive producer on all the Marvel movies, TV shows, and animated series. Now approaching 90, Stan remains as vital and creative a force in and out of comics as ever, developing new characters and concepts with his own company, POW! Entertainment, and working with publishers such as Image Comics (Blood Red Dragon, with Yoshiki), BOOM! Studios (Soldier Zero, The Traveler, Starborn), Archie (Stan Lee’s Mighty 7), VIZ (Ultimo), and others, along with movie and TV projects. And Stan has his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame! These early heroes Stan co-created with Kirby, Ditko, and Heck have all demonstrated incredible staying power. Fifty years later, Spidey has just survived “Spider-Island” in a recent storyline and his ongoing adventures continue under writer Dan Slott and artists Humberto Ramos, Giuseppe Camuncoli, and Stefano Caselli, along with a new series, The Avenging Spider-Man by Zeb Wells and Joe Madureira and the recently rebooted Ultimate Comics Spider-Man by Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli. The Incredible Hulk just relaunched with a new first issue by writer Jason Aaron and artist Marc Silvestri. Both Thor and Iron Man are currently under the watchful eyes of writer Matt Fraction and artists Pasqual Ferry (Thor) and Salvador Larroca (Invincible Iron Man), besides being part of the ongoing adventures of The Avengers. All four characters are appearing in huge, big-budget movies this year: Spidey in Amazing Spider-Man, a reboot of his big screen adventures; and Hulk, Thor, and Iron Man in The Avengers. The Marvel Age of Comics that had its beginnings in 1962 has never really ended, and those heroes created 50 years ago will seemingly go on forever.



e. , when he worked on Spider-Man and Dr. Strang Ditko in his studio in 1965, during his Marvel prime

“Too bad someone like him can’t be an idol for teenagers to imitate.”—Amazing Spider-Man #33 Steve Ditko is the co-creator and original artist of the Amazing Spider-Man. Co-creator Stan Lee is immortalized in pop culture history as the strip’s writer, but in fact, Ditko wrote the last 14 issues of his 38-issue run, and plotted even more. No doubt, Lee’s contributions to the success of the strip (including, for each and every issue, scripting the banter so fondly remembered as one of the strip’s signature elements), and to the success of the Silver Age of Marvel Comics, are many. Still, the drivers that made Spider-Man a truly unique book—in fact, a revolutionary comic book—can be attributed to Steve Ditko. Ditko’s idiosyncratic visuals, his empathetic characterizations, and his sense of costume design all pumped new life into a medium overrun by mythical figures that stood like marble statues . . . and had as much personality. Another aspect that made Ditko truly unique was his fight to maintain the Spider-Man strip’s integrity, which made him the first artist of his generation to control the narrative arc of a superhero strip. Also unique was Ditko’s decision in late 1965 to walk away from a multimillion-dollar franchise approaching the peak of its popularity based primarily on his influence. Often derided for his unwillingness to participate in comic book fandom’s cult of celebrity, often chastised for his rigid adherence to an unpopular philosophical viewpoint, Ditko is the only artist in the history of comic books to consistently live by his personal and professional principles: “I never talk about myself. My work is me. I do my best, and if I like it, I hope somebody else likes it, too.”

Ditko, born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania on November 2, 1927, came to New York City in 1950 with one goal in mind: to be a comic book artist. That made him unique from day one. First published in 1953, Ditko settled in at Charlton Comics for the majority of the 1950s. Charlton paid a pittance but offered Ditko something no one else could: the least editorial interference in the industry. After a brief stint at Marvel in 1956, Ditko returned in late 1958. Years of collaborating on Twilight Zone–inspired stories cemented Ditko’s status as Lee’s favorite collaborator (evidenced by the allLee/Ditko anthology title Amazing Adult Fantasy). When Jack Kirby, co-creator of The Fantastic Four, handed in five pages of pencils for a concept named “Spiderman” (no hyphen)—a teenager with a magic ring that transformed him into an adult hero—it didn’t match what Lee had in mind. He wanted something different than Kirby’s grand flare. He wanted what only Ditko could produce. What would make Spider-Man different from any strip prior was that when the main character received his superpowers, his life became worse. Captain America went from a 98-pound weakling to an Adonis, beloved by a nation. Peter Parker went from bookworm to hated and misunderstood vigilante, dogged in his personal life by the specter of the costumed hero’s responsibilities. What Stan Lee perhaps didn’t anticipate was the depth of thought that Ditko put into the narrative. Lee, in charge of Marvel’s editorial direction since he was a teenager, had overseen the development of the formula inherent in the superhero genre since the early 1940s. In Spider-Man, he thought

he was getting a simple—repeatable—tale about a superhero with foibles, but Ditko had other ideas, and these ideas are at the core of what made the narrative so unique, and influential, in comic book history. It was Ditko’s dogged insistence on grounding the series in Peter Parker’s teenaged life that was central to elevating Spider-Man above the designation of a “really good superhero strip.” Initially, Lee imbued the strip with many elements of the “fantastic” that were endemic to the traditional comic strip. For example, issue one featured a runaway space shuttle that Spider-Man helps bring down, and this made Ditko bristle: “I preferred that we have Peter Parker/Spider-Man ideas grounded more in a teenager’s credible world,” says Ditko. “The story idea undercut the teenage context. It’s like having a high school football player playing in the Super Bowl.” By the time Lee presented his origin for the Green Goblin, Ditko had had enough. “I rejected Stan’s idea,” remembers Ditko. “A mythological demon made the whole Peter Parker/Spider-Man world a place where nothing is metaphysically impossible.” Healthy clashes over plotting were a by-product of the “Marvel Method” of comic book production. Lee, with little to no staff at his disposal in the early 1960s, gave his artists a story synopsis, and then gave them the creative license to map the plot in any way they saw fit. Lee did so for expedience’s sake, and the artists certainly enjoyed not working from a full script. Ditko took full advantage of this and, by about issue 10 on Spider-Man (and similarly with Kirby on Fantastic Four), he was the one doing the lion’s share of the writing. This gave Ditko the freedom to explore a generous narrative arc that had never been attempted before in a superhero book. Superhero strips were generally “closed,” meaning that each issue was self-contained, driven by a two-act plot (superhero intercedes, defeats the villain). But in Spider-Man, Ditko was determined to not rewrite the same story issue after issue and instead added a depth of continuity and character development that even Lee couldn’t have foreseen. Ditko was deeply influenced in this aspect by author Ayn Rand’s two seminal novels, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. These works of philosophical fiction greatly influenced Ditko’s sense of heroism, individualism, and not compromising one’s beliefs in the face of populist adversity. Ditko was determined to show growth in the character and was reticent about evolving Parker as the romantic hero popularized by Ayn Rand’s main protagonists. And Ditko took his time, the progression gradual. The artist was openly credited with contributions to the plot of the trilogy in Amazing Spider-Man 17–19, where the hero literally retires before his triumphant reemergence. In issue 24 and in the first Annual, Ditko tackled the idea of superhero psychosis, a result of maintaining a dual identity (using the term psychosomatic in a comic book for likely the first time). The culmination of Ditko lifting Parker from bookworm to man, from doubting Thomas to full™ & © Marvel & Subs.

fledged hero, took place in the strip’s most famous issues, 31–33. Ditko dedicated page after page in the opening of issue 33 to the spine-tingling climax of Spider-Man rising from defeat, discarding a mountain of machinery off his back (a metaphor for Parker putting his past behind him). It is one of the most highly regarded sequences in all of comic book history. Ditko concerned himself with the evolution not only of Peter Parker, but also of the book’s supporting characters. Flash Thompson begins the strip as a bully, but as Parker’s growth into manhood is developed in part through his confrontation, so is Flash’s character. Issue 8 features the boxing match between the two boys, and Ditko returns to this in issue 26, when a frustrated Parker pounces on Thompson in full view of the school’s principal. Thompson’s maturity comes to the fore when he secretly visits the principal’s office to own up to his transgressions. Ditko not only put the focus on the supporting characters as key to the book’s success, but he also made the bold move of refreshing the setting for the series by having Parker graduate from high school in issue 28. Introduced are pivotal characters still in play 45 years later, such as Harry Osborn and Gwen Stacy [the latter featured in the new Amazing Spider-Man movie]. During this time, Parker becomes more comfortable in his own skin, even turning down invitations to college parties, something unimaginable for the bookworm in the strip’s origin tale. As important as his contributions are to the narrative arc of the series, the uniqueness of the book is firmly rooted in his contributions to the visuals. Even in Ditko’s rendering can the evolution of Peter Parker be seen in a way no other artist had captured before. On the very first page of Amazing Fantasy #15, Ditko brilliantly stages the splash panel to evoke instant empathy for Parker. He is physically separated from his classmates, wearing adult clothing, with schoolbooks underarm. Flash Thompson’s hand is pushing Parker to the outskirts of the collective. Ditko even forces Parker to carry around an umbrella to signify his tortured status. But by issue 33, even Spider-Man in costume is no longer the stick insect that Ditko drew in the first few stories. He is the chiseled hero, a man with an independent mind. Also never to be underestimated is how Ditko’s ability to capture despair drove the empathy that so resonated with comic book fans. The weight of the world looked like it took a tremendous toll on the body of Peter Parker. It could be seen in Ditko’s slumped figure drawings, or the darkness that Ditko draped over Parker during his soliloquies on reconciling his desire to lead a normal life with

the great responsibility imparted upon him. Even supporting characters like J. Jonah Jameson were given greater depth by Ditko’s rendering of exposition, as seen in issue 10 where Jameson reveals his true personal motives for dogging the hero that he’d never be. Ditko’s flare for costume design was also key to the strip’s success. Covering Spider-Man’s face allowed readers the world over to imagine that they were the hero. Villains like the Green Goblin, Dr. Octopus, Sandman, and the Lizard are imprinted in the minds of children, generation after generation. All of these characters have been used in the Spider-Man movie franchise, a true testament to the contributions of Ditko’s visual flare. So strong was Lee’s trust in Ditko as a storyteller that Lee remained silent, letting Ditko direct the entire strip on his own for over a year until issue 38, his last. With Ditko gone, Lee swung in John Romita, and the book was turned completely upside down in literally one issue. Gone was any aspect of Ditko’s development of the character— Peter went from being an individual to a well-liked member of the collective—and the self-pitying theme of “Woe is me with these powers” was recycled repeatedly. The book went from being revolutionary to being a really good superhero book. How do you measure success? For Steve Ditko, it is likely standing up for one’s beliefs, even when the cost was loss of the increasing fortune and fame he would have realized had he remained on the Spider-Man strip. Fans may not like that Ditko doesn’t do interviews. They recklessly label him a “recluse,” even though he’s shared his thoughts on comics and his process at length in self-published essays going as far back as the 1970s. And he consistently answers fan mail to this day. He never has perverted his self-published work simply to appeal to a wider demographic and is still publishing comics at the age of 84. It’s these attributes that helped make Spider-Man a book still worth discussing 50 years after its inception. Too bad someone like him can’t be an idol for teenagers to imitate.


“I never talk about myself . . .” —Steve Ditko, from Showcase #73 (Mar.–Apr. 1968), centerfold bio. “I preferred that we have Peter Parker/Spider-Man ideas . . .” —Steve Ditko, “A Mini-History: 3. The Amazing Spider-Man #1” from The Comics v. 12 #11 (Nov. 2001), p. 1. “I rejected Stan’s idea . . .” —Steve Ditko, “A MiniHistory: 1. The Green Goblin” from The Comics v. 12 #7 (July 2001), p. 1.

Blake Bell lives in Toronto with his son, Luke. His most current book is The Secret History of Marvel Comics: Jack Kirby & the Moonlighting Artists at Martin Goodman’s Empire published by Fantagraphics. He is the author of the Eisner-nominated biography Fire & Water about Bill Everett; Strange & Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko; and the editor of the Steve Ditko Archives and Bill Everett Archives series.


THE SPECTACULAR JOHN ROMITA SR. AND THE SENSATIONAL JOHN ROMITA JR. BY TOM SPURGEON It was the biggest gamble in comics history. At stake was the future of Marvel Comics. At its heart was John Romita Sr. The year was 1966. The comic book company owned by pulp magazine impresario Martin Goodman and operated by his cousin-by-marriage Stan Lee was in the midst of a startling creative and sales renaissance. Having gone by many names and now known as Marvel Comics, Goodman’s four-color funnybook line had begun to innovate in a field in which they had served as slavish imitators of the latest trends for the previous two decades. The anchor of Marvel’s new superhero effort was Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s awesome adventure comic Fantastic Four. But in many ways the heart of Marvel Comics in 1966 was the title Amazing Spider-Man. Telling the story of a young superhero who struggled with the burdens and responsibilities of his special abilities, Lee’s scripts were brought to astonishing life by industry veteran Steve Ditko, who soon also co-plotted the stories. Ditko’s artwork was authentic and breathable; his Peter Parker in equal measure suffered the palpable miseries of his teenage years and enjoyed the thrills and physical escape provided by his superhero identity. In a move so surprising that the shock and mystery of it hasn’t worn away 45 years later, Ditko left Marvel and his unique place within its growing talent roster. Spider-Man needed a new creative hand, a new artistic voice. That job fell to relatively new Marvel recruit John Romita Sr. Romita came through in spectacular fashion. After a few tentative issues on Amazing SpiderMan where he later admitted he hewed too closely to what Ditko had accomplished, Romita settled into one of the signature art and story runs in superhero comics history. There were indications that Romita might make it work. In 1966, Romita was already an experienced superhero comic book artist with a passion for costumed adventure material. He had come back to Marvel, a company he had departed from in the late 1950s, in part for a crack at doing material in the superhero genre. John Romita wasn’t about to let this chance pass him by, whether it was on a title like Daredevil or under the much harsher spotlight provided by May Parker’s devoted nephew, Peter. Romita’s late 1950s and early 1960s experience as a stalwart of industry leader DC Comics’ romance line helped immensely in this new gig. The Romita Spider-Man was surrounded not just by attractively drawn and well-designed bad guys but by beautiful young women that became strong love interests, characters like Gwen Stacy and Mary Jane 36 COMIC-CON ANNUAL 2012

Watson, the latter a supporting character for the ages that Romita nailed into the consciousness of comics fans from her very first appearance. Nearly as beautiful in his own way as the women of Amazing Spider-Man was Romita’s Peter Parker. Like many of the readers of the 1960s Marvel Comics, the Peter Parker character had settled into his own younger adulthood at some considerable distance from his uncertain high school years. Romita’s Parker dressed more fashionably. He dated, and danced, and even for a time rode a motorcycle.

™ & © Marvel & Subs.

Art by John Romita Sr. for the 1975 San Diego Comic-Con Souvenir Book Romita had in his time away from superhero comic books learned to stage comics as well as any comic book cartoonist had before or after. His pages were perfectly balanced, and in every scene the characters were placed in physical proximity to one another in a way that was clear and attractive. As was the case with the best directors on Broadway, Romita’s scene work was impeccable. Whether Spider-Man faced a physical confrontation or Peter Parker an emotional one, readers quickly picked up

on the stakes from how the characters physically related to one another. Every page was potent. The John Romita Sr. run on Amazing Spider-Man cinched its main character’s slow climb into the licensing and publishing major leagues and all but made certain Marvel’s eventual market dominance starting in the 1970s and for the majority of the years since. Romita Sr. proved that Marvel was more than its initial, stellar lineup of creators and potent roster of characters. His rise showed that Marvel Comics embodied an approach to storytelling that could flourish under multiple devoted hands. Romita, who had come to Marvel quietly in 1965 and seemed destined for a series of assignments providing pencil art on secondary characters slightly out of the spotlight, had become Marvel Comics’s most valuable player in its most vital era. In the 1970s and 1980s, Romita became even more crucial to Marvel’s growing success. He began to share Spider-Man penciling duties and eventually moved off the title altogether (although not without story and art contributions to a defining storyline of that era, featuring the death of the Gwen Stacy character). Romita settled into a Marvel staff position, providing guidance in the production of Marvel’s line and cementing the look and presentation of its characters for a wider audience. When Spider-Man appeared as a balloon in the Macy’s parade, it was from a design by John Romita. When the character reached out to young readers through a publishing partnership with the Children’s Television Workshop, it was John Romita’s art that captured those kids’ imaginations. When the wider audience represented by newspaper strips experienced Marvel in that time-honored way, it was through the pen of John Romita Sr. Posters, costume designs, record albums, and a continuing array of comic book covers— all of these things bore Romita’s touch as Marvel steamrolled into a publishing and licensing phenomenon, first drawing the attention of Hollywood through which the company may be best known today. In the years leading up to his retirement, Romita progressed from the company’s most valuable player to the avatar of its artistic lifeblood. His is a remarkable legacy. The greatest contribution Romita may have given Marvel Comics was, with wife Virginia, the talent and devotion of his son and namesake John Romita, Jr.—a name sometimes shortened in Stan Lee banter-speak to “JR JR.” The senior Romita’s move into production and special projects and away from monthly comic book making didn’t mean the Marvel line was no longer graced with the Romita

name. It only meant that the mantle had fallen to the next generation. The family name was in great hands. John Romita Jr. debuted at Marvel in 1977 and quickly rose on the ladder of assignments to superhero penciling superstardom with cherished runs on titles like Iron Man and with what had become the company’s most popular characters by the 1980s, the Uncanny X-Men. The younger Romita had from an early age seized on the bulk of his father’s artistic skill set, most notably a gift for attractive figure making and a proclivity toward modern-looking costume design. Romita Jr.’s art had a more kinetic quality than his father’s, appropriate for anyone who came of age in comic books during the growing influence of animation and Japanese comics storytelling. Almost from the start, Romita Jr. had displayed a classic, American sense of arresting, single-image, comics beauty that his father never quite achieved, a palpable line on paper that harkened all the way back to the great newspaper cartoonists of the 1930s and 1940s. A startling run of issues on his father’s first Marvel-era title, Daredevil, cinched Romita Jr. as an artist for the ages. Those comics, from scripts by Ann Nocenti, featured a mix of cityscapes and rarefor-Marvel pastoral settings, put on display both mundane threats and highly memorable monsters, and provided psychological drama to match the physical. Every last bit was executed by Romita Jr. with authority and clarity, and he emerged from that period as not just a talented artist but a special one. And then he got even better. While other cartoonists of his generation became minor entertainment moguls through self-publishing, Romita Jr. became the greatest of his era’s drawing board workhorses, producing page after page after page of powerful imagery centered around his skill for arresting single images. Comic book storytelling had since the senior Romita’s era moved more and more into a movie-style dependency on individual, memorable moments of the kind that seared into the brain of its enthusiastic readership. John Romita Jr. became the greatest purveyor of that style of superhero comic book and with almost casual aplomb provided stop-and-stare moments for the ages connected by solid, progressive storytelling in the moments in between. In the 1990s and into the 2000s, Romita Jr. settled back into the world of the character through which his father had built the family reputation: Spider-Man. Spider-Man wasn’t Romita Jr.’s only memorable assignment during the last two decades: he’s worked with a variety of characters ranging from The Eternals to the Incredible Hulk, and with A-list writers like Frank Miller and Neil Gaiman, all to powerful effect. But it’s the Spider-Man work that will likely endure. As much as Steve Ditko and Romita Jr.’s father ever did for Peter Parker and his alter ego, if one were to collect the most impressive single moments from Spider-Man’s long career, the instances that burn into the cultural memory and the dreams of fans everywhere, the vast majority would come from the pen of John Romita Jr. His SpiderRomita Sr. photo by Jackie Estrada; Romita Jr. photo by Daniel Sakow

™ & © Marvel & Subs.

John Romita Sr. sketches at Comic-Con in 1979, as a friend looks on. Top right: Romita Jr. at the Marvel booth at Comic-Con in 2008. Lower left: JR JR’s Spidey circa 2000. Man, sometimes brooding, occasionally hesitant, but always powerful, is what that character looks like now, and likely always will. Unlike most members of his father’s generation, John Romita Jr. has also carved out significant time to create work that he—at least in part—owns. His art for the writer Mark Millar on the series Kick-Ass was key to that property’s heady success on the printed page and on movie and television screens. Working with John Romita Jr. provided Millar’s story not just the benefit of the artist’s simple but hugely effective character designs, not just access to Romita’s blend of Western and Eastern traditions when it comes to depicting violence. Kick-Ass succeeds to massive degree because it’s a broad, pointed, satirical inquiry into the nature of superhero comics that just happens to boast that genre’s best modern practitioner for its basic look and page-to-page feel. No one else could have done that

but John Romita Jr. It’s almost not fair to the other comics of its kind. The history of American comic books is filled with impressive talent, men and women who in many instances have worked to a significant degree in the form’s most unique genre: the superhero. The legacy of John Romita Sr. and John Romita Jr. is one of unflagging excellence at the drawing board, integrity when it comes to each and every aspect of comic book creation. They are the real deal, five decades and counting. John Romita Sr. was the man Marvel needed in 1966 and became the man Marvel couldn’t do without in the decades afterward. As the most consistently excellent artist of a talented generation, John Romita Jr. fulfilled the promise of his father where it most counted: on the page. There are no two artists exactly like them, nor will there ever be again.

Tom Spurgeon is the editor and publisher of the Eisner Award–winning website The Comics Reporter. He is the co-author of Stan Lee and the Rise and Fall of the American Comic Book (2003) and the author of The Romita Legacy (2008). He is a former managing and executive editor of The Comics Journal and wrote Wildwood for King Features Syndicate from 1999 to 2001.


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Life Drawing




HOW LOVE & ROCKETS BROUGHT COMICS DOWN TO EARTH BY Charles Brownstein In 1982 comics were in the process of becoming something new. Creators and publishers were taking chances with more-sophisticated stories that appealed to the savvier clientele frequenting the growing comics specialty store market. The result was a year of auspicious work. Frank Miller, well into his groundbreaking run on Daredevil, shocked fandom by killing off his signature character Elektra. Archie Goodwin and Al Milgrom launched the Epic line at Marvel, creating a home for creator-owned work by domestic and international creators in the Direct Market. Jack Kirby debuted Captain Victory, a creator-owned series through

San Diego independent publisher Pacific Comics. Over in England, newcomer Alan Moore began his landmark stories Marvelman and V For Vendetta in the pages of Warrior magazine. Throughout these and other events rocking the comics world, the underlying theme was that the medium was growing up. Yet all of the comics making waves were still firmly entrenched within traditionally understood escapist genres. It was another 1982 debut that would truly move comics into the realm of unqualified adult fiction—a magazine-sized anthology by three brothers from

Southern California called Love & Rockets. Instigated by eldest brother Mario Hernandez as a showcase for his work and that of his younger siblings Gilbert and Jaime, Love & Rockets started life as a self-published fanzine late in 1981. Gilbert worked up the nerve to send a copy to The Comics Journal, hoping for a review in the firebrand magazine. Instead he received an offer from its editor Gary Groth to publish the comic as an ongoing series. Love & Rockets #1 hit comic store shelves in the summer of 1982, marking the dual entry of Los Bros. Hernandez and Fantagraphics into the comics publishing marketplace. The early issues of Love & Rockets were informed by a completely unchauvinistic history of comics. As boys, the brothers had absorbed their mother’s affection for the medium and were exposed to a wide range of material, from the cartoony kids humor of Dennis the Menace, Hot Stuff, and Archie to the heroes and monsters of Marvel legends Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko. In the late ’60s and early ’70s Mario began bringing ZAP and other undergrounds home, introducing the work of greats like R. Crumb and Gilbert Shelton to their visual vocabulary. These influences worked their way into each brother’s art styles. Mario’s work paid homage to the heavy line of underground masters Spain and Rand Holmes. Gilbert mixed the monsters of Gil Kane with the curvy heroines of Wally Wood and infused his stories with an unapologetic sexuality. Jaime was the most polished of the three, and his stories were immediately appealing for their extraordinarily charming heroines who looked like they came from a planet where Dan DeCarlo and Frank Frazetta jammed on an adventure strip. Alongside each other, their comics affirmed the visual diversity of the medium as a powerful means of personal expression. Just as important as the comics history on view in the drawings is that they weren’t the only influences Los Bros. brought into their comics. It was clear that comics were an important aspect of their lives, but they weren’t life itself. Jaime and Gilbert were both steeped in the Los Angeles punk scene, and their

Art © Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez

Opposite page: cover art from Love and Rockets #5, 1983, by Jaime Hernandez. Above: L&R #1, 1982; (l to r) Gilbert, Jaime, and Mario at Comic-Con 2011; L&R New Stories #3, 2010. characters reflected the aspirations, attitudes, and fashions of the young people in that milieu. Even more notable in the context of the time is that their stories were dominated by credible female protagonists who possessed a sexual dimension but were never mere sex objects. Love & Rockets debuted to a positive reception, with Jaime and Gilbert taking it over entirely within the first few issues. Emboldened by positive critical success and Groth’s unwavering encouragement for the artists to simply be themselves, they quickly dropped the genre pretenses they first used in an effort to be commercial, and instead developed complex, character-driven universes rooted firmly in the real world. Once they took possession of that freedom, their stories leapt into uncharted terrain. Jaime’s Locas stories document the emotional realities of becoming an adult, through the eyes of his signature character, Maggie, and the lives that orbit her. We meet her as an 18-year-old who gets swept into the glamour of travel and adventure under the wings first of heroic boss and infatuation interest Rand Race, then larger-than-life female wrestling champ and mentor Rena Titañon. These stories are told in breathlessly excited letters to her adorable punkette best friend Hopey and reflect how young people develop their identities in the buoyant period where youthful wonder has yet to give way to adult responsibility. When Maggie returns from her adventures, she and Hopey veer into their twenties, and Jaime makes the reader fall in love with them as spritely but tough free spirits. When he confirms that they’re lovers, it’s done in a matter-of-fact way that expresses an attitude toward sexuality that’s honest rather than confrontational. In carefully rendered vignettes he peeks in on their lives as they move from carefree kids with nothing to lose to sudden adults where tragedy, disappointment, heartache, and confusion have replaced potential with grace. In his most recent work Jaime continues Hernandez Bros. photo by Tina Gill; Brownstein photo by Betsy Gomez

to chart new ground, writing honestly of middle age and the conflict between ageless self-conception and the relentless force of time. Gilbert is best known for the Heartbreak Soup sequence of stories, a heady ensemble series that uses magical realism and a large multigenerational cast to portray the social makeup of Palomar, a remote Central American town. Strongly influenced by Latino art and culture, Gilbert’s stories broke ground for how comics can behave as an expression of culture. His use of language, heavily peppered with Spanish names and words, added a musical quality to his writing that was similarly unique within the medium. Gilbert’s stories behave as a tapestry, shifting not just between characters, but between several stages of their lives, to develop a richly woven depiction of what’s fluid and what’s enduring in relationships, families, and communities over time. He shares his brother’s matter of fact view of sexuality and often goes farther in exploring the sexual lives of his characters, delving into the role of sexuality as a motivational force in defining identity. Gilbert’s contributions to Love & Rockets also include a large body of wildly surreal experimental pieces that meld the humorous and grotesque. His fascinations with surrealism, sexuality, and family ensemble pieces have merged in his current work exploring the offspring of Palomar matriarch Luba as they develop their lives in the contemporary United States.

The Hernandez Brothers sit comfortably within the modern graphic novel pantheon, but when they first emerged, there was little precedent for their work. They are unique not only for the substance of their comics but for the fact that they weren’t out to prove a point. While other creators were seeking to change comics by injecting more adult storytelling, art, and themes into the traditional comics genres, the Hernandez Brothers were simply following their own muses. The undergrounds embraced explicit sexuality and coarse language in part to subvert the commonly held belief that comics were kid stuff. The Hernandez Brothers depicted sexuality because it was part of life. They weren’t drawing their personal fantasies, they were exploring how people behaved. Where Harvey Pekar and late-period Will Eisner adhered to literalism in their portrayals of everyday life, Los Bros didn’t shy away from injecting fantasy and surreal elements into their work and still pulled off the honest depiction of life as it’s lived. The Hernandez Brothers changed comics by internalizing the medium’s history and language, then using it to express their personal visions. In the honest portrayal of life as they saw it, they created a vision of comics for adults that was neither tawdry nor reactionary, and instead affirmed a world of new possibilities for the medium to explore.

Charles Brownstein is the executive director of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (, a non-profit organization protecting the medium’s First Amendment rights. His writing about comics includes the award winning books Eisner/Miller and The Oddly Compelling Art of Denis Kitchen.


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Art © King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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The Ballad of




75 Years of Comics’ Greatest 4Q Hero by Brian M. Kane


magine you are a 9-year-old boy and you are lying on the living room floor reading the Sunday comics, or a 16-year-old saving each weekly installment of an artist you have admired since you were 10, or even a young man of 19 perfecting your skills by copying those same four-color fantasies. There is no television. There are no video games. There are movies, but most are in black & white. It is February 13, 1937, and Prince Valiant in the Days of King Arthur by Harold R. Foster has just premiered. Now imagine your name is Frank Frazetta, or Ray Bradbury, or Jacob (Jack Kirby) Kurtzberg. One day you will be an “Icon,” or a “Legend,” or a “King,” but for now, just for now, on this day 75 years ago, you are simply a fan. It is hard for us to think of these three artistic and literary gods of the 20th century as boys. They were/are giants among us. They loomed larger than life, and their works not only enlivened our imaginations but embodied much of what we remember as popular culture milestones for the past 50 years. Yes, they may have been giants; gods to some, but it was Hal Foster that all three of them worshiped. To this day, Bradbury unabashedly wears his love (that’s love, people—not appreciation, not highest regard—love!) for Foster on his sleeve. Kirby, Frazetta, and many early comics artists, including Alex “Flash Gordon” Raymond, liberally swiped from Foster, and the first appearance of Batman in costume during his origin story is a swipe of a panel from Foster’s Tarzan. Yes, Foster illustrated Tarzan too, and he was the first artist to draw the Lord of the Jungle for comics. In fact, Foster’s reach extended beyond just comics artists because it was Foster’s Tarzan pages that the Disney animators used as a model for the background scenes in The Jungle Book. But Prince Valiant wasn’t just popular with artists and writers; he was everybody’s hero. “Val” was one of the first international superstars to reach that valuable, highly sought-after 4Q (four quadrant) market consisting of males and females, above and below age 25. In the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s, comics

were the pop culture visual medium, and Val was box office gold. What is so incredible about Prince Valiant is how today’s readers are embracing the strip’s resurgence, prompted by the recent reprint

volumes. For the first time ever, Prince Valiant’s epic adventures are being reprinted from restored color engraver’s proofs. These oversized New York Times bestselling hardcovers, published by Fantagraphics, have the approval of the Foster family. You only have to look at the many reviews both professional and personal on Amazon, and you will see the words beautiful, brilliant, ground-breaking, fun, vibrant, action-packed, exquisite, and gorgeous used over and over again to describe this tour de force of art and writing. As you read through the adjective-filled quotes and comments, you will begin to understand that what made Prince Valiant so popular when it first appeared is also what makes it popular today. While these stories have dark elements, they are not dark stories. Val is not some brooding, guilt-riddled anti-hero—he’s a Hero with a capital H. Prince Valiant resonates with readers today just as much as it did 75 years ago because the stories are timeless, the artwork is stunning—better than most top tier cinematographers could ever hope to imagine— and because Val’s creator was a genius. The genius of Hal Foster was not just in his technical proficiency to illustrate the most beautiful strip ever created (which it is); no, Foster’s true gift was his ability to let the story drive the art and skillfully craft characters that people would care about very deeply. Val is an enormously complex person. That’s right, person! He is not a one-dimensional, cookie-cutter, lukewarm, stereotypical, politically correct, personality-by-committee hero. He is brash, clever, impetuous, light-hearted, cocky, romantic, crafty, skilled, humorous, willful, smart, flawed, and above all else brave! He is someone you want on your side, and heaven help you if he is against you. He has been known to deliberately drop an enemy to his death, unapologetically hang another, leave a path of bodies in his wake (tastefully bloodless, of course), and cleave a foe’s hand off during a fight—then smiling, saunter from the battlefield while nonchalantly wiping the blood off his blade. And we love him for it! It is what Foster referred to as “an honest brutality.” Val exemplifies WWW.COMIC-CON.ORG 43

Hal Foster in his studio working on Prince Valiant in 1947. the one trait missing from most of today’s fictional characters—passion—and he drips it from every pore. Foster’s development of multidimensional characters does not end with just Val. All of Foster’s people are individuals. Each character is not only visually different from the next, they also have different personalities. Their speech is different, their body language is different, they have wrinkles and scars, and if they stub their toe or have their hearts broken, we feel for them. You can almost imagine that each person on a Prince Valiant page, even the minor ones, has a history, a rich, full life that precedes their ever walking into the scene. To Foster’s credit (and to his wife Helen’s as well) the women in these stories are often smarter than the men. And, just to be clear, while “The Winning of Aleta” storyline that ran from May 1944 to January 1946 (see Volumes 4 and 5 of the Fantagraphics editions) begins with Aleta in shackles being dragged by Val through the desert, this Queen of the Misty Isles is no frail flower and could kill Val any time she wants. Lucky for us Aleta has other, more “insidious” plans for Val, who often complains that he will never understand the ways of women. Finally, one of the more interesting yet overlooked elements to Foster’s storytelling genius was how he used Prince Valiant to mirror society, thereby drawing us into his world. When Hitler marched through Europe, Val fought the Huns—and the strip was immediately dropped from German newspapers. Even though Foster later claimed the Hun invasion was a coincidence, one gets the feeling it was said with a knowing nudge and a wink. During World War II, when husbands, brothers, sons, and friends were falling on fields of battle, a 44 COMIC-CON ANNUAL 2012

beloved, faithful friend of Val’s died in combat too. And let’s not forget that “The Winning of Aleta” saga, perhaps the most romantic sequence ever created in comics, occurred during WWII when the greatest percentage of readers in America were women. Then, after the war, just as the soldiers were returning home, Val travels to America to rescue his pregnant wife, and it was here among the Native Americans where their son Arn was born, thus heralding in the beginning of the Baby Boomer generation. For the next decade, as Val and Aleta raised their children, they were in sync with other young couples who were raising their own children (back then one of my neighbors even named their daughter Aleta!). In the 1940s, and ’50s, Prince Valiant was nothing short of art reflecting life— with a dash of swordplay. Foster wrote and illustrated Prince Valiant until 1971. That amounts to 34 years, or 1,764 weekly pages, without missing a single deadline, and he continued to write and lay out the strip for 9 more years with illustrator John Cullen Murphy. When Foster retired from Prince Valiant in 1980 at the

age of 87, he had worked on the strip for 43 years. Not surprisingly, Foster is in four artistic Halls of Fame—more than any other comics illustrator. He is in the Will Eisner Hall of Fame, the Joe Shuster Canadian Comic Book Creators Hall of Fame, the National Cartoonists Society Hall of Fame, and the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame. In 1980 editor and author Cullen Murphy began writing Prince Valiant, and the father-son team continued until Jack Murphy’s passing in 2004. Today, writer Mark Schultz and artist Gary Gianni continue Val’s adventures. It is only fitting that Prince Valiant’s wanderings continue, even after 75 years, for the witch, Horrit prophesied to Val long ago, “You will have high adventure, but nowhere do I see happiness and contentment.” Personally, I am wishing Val many more un-contented years! Before Superman and Batman, before The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Chronicles of Narnia, before Joseph Campbell understood “The Hero’s Journey” and David Lean dragged Peter O’Toole through a Technicolor desert, there was Harold R. Foster’s Prince Valiant, comics’ greatest 4Q hero.

Brian M. Kane has taught art for 14 years and has a master’s degree in history of art from The Ohio State University. He is the author of the Eisner-nominated, Ippy Award-winning Hal Foster: Prince of Illustrators (Vanguard), The Definitive Prince Valiant Companion (Fantagraphics), and James Bama: American Realist (Flesk). Kane’s essays also appear in Volumes 1 and 4 of Fantagraphics’ new Prince Valiant reprint series, for which he is also a consultant. He is currently working on a new book collecting all of Hal Foster’s penciled layout pages and would appreciate it if anyone owning a page or a pencil sketch by Foster would contact him.

FLESK PUBLICATIONS promoting the arts through quality collections Celebrate our 10th anniversary all year with special giveaways and exclusive signed books at our booth at WonderCon®, Comic-Con® and APE. Flesk’s books feature the art of: James Bama Terry Dodson (at Comic-Con®) Craig Elliott (at WonderCon® and Comic-Con®) Gary Gianni (2012 Comic-Con® guest) Petar Meseldžija Mark Schultz (2012 Comic-Con® guest and at APE) Jim Silke (at WonderCon® and Comic-Con®) William Stout (at WonderCon®, Comic-Con® and APE) Bruce Timm Al Williamson and more...

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Features new work by Elliott, Gianni, Meseldžija, Schultz and Stout. 64 pages, 8.5 x 11 in. $24.95 hardcover with jacket


By Mark Schultz Introduction by Craig Elliott 352 pages, 8.5 x 11 in. $39.95 paperback


Written and designed by Craig Elliott Introduction by Iain McCaig 68 pages with four gatefolds, 9 x 12 in. $29.95 hardcover with jacket



An informative look at both Gary Gianni’s rendition of the Prince Valiant Sunday strip and his own working procedures. Foreword by Mike Mignola Introduction by Robert Wagner 112 pages, 9 x 12 in. $29.95 hardcover with jacket

Flesk Publications is the producer of a full line of art books in the comics, graphic novel, fantastic, illustration, pin-up and fine arts fields. Visit for signing schedules, to view our entire line of books, to shop online and for exclusive interviews.





Writer Mark Schultz and illustrator Gary Gianni

Gianni & Schultz: Walking in the Footsteps of the Master When Hal Foster stopped drawing Prince Valiant in 1971, he passed the reins of the strip to cartoonist John Cullen Murphy (Big Ben Bolt). Foster kept his hand in by writing and laying out the strip until 1980, when he officially retired. Cullen Murphy (John’s son) began writing the strip and they continued on it until John died in 2004. At that point, King Features picked Gary Gianni (Monstermen) to illustrate the strip; Gary turned to his friend Mark Schultz (Xenozoic Tales) to write it. Both Gianni and Schultz are special guests at Comic-Con this year in celebration of Prince Valiant’s 75th anniversary. How did you first discover Prince Valiant? Gary Gianni: I rarely saw Prince Valiant when I was a kid. My family was staunch Chicago Tribune readers and Val appeared in a different paper, the Chicago American. When I was in high school I’d buy books detailing the history of comics and, invariably, Val would be featured among the other great comic characters, but I never really read or looked deeply into Foster’s work until John Cullen Murphy asked me to help him. Ironically, to this day, I still don’t get to see the printed strip. It doesn’t appear in any local newspaper. I do look at it online however, but it’s not quite the same. Mark Schultz: I can’t think of a time when I wasn’t aware of Prince Valiant. I can specifically remember my parents reading it to me out of the Sunday paper when I was five or six years old. It wasn’t, however, until I had become a practicing artist that I began to properly appreciate just how important his work was in the development of dramatically themed adventure comics in general. What do you think of Foster’s art and storytelling? Gary: I study Foster’s work just about every day.


I find myself marveling at something as specific as how beautifully he catches a facial expression or how simply he renders a pine forest with some well-placed black inks. I can be impressed by his storytelling abilities or I’m struck with the elegance of his compositions. The man was a master artist. Maybe Al Williamson said it best: “Foster’s work gets better every time you look at it!” Mark: Foster was the first true adventure cartoonist, inventing the form practically single-handedly with his work on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan strip. He refined that visual language and took it to unmatched heights in Prince Valiant. The man had an illustrator’s understanding of form, composition, and rendering, a painter’s grasp of color, and a cartoonist’s eye for compelling storytelling. His achievements and inventions are to this day unmatched—and have become so ingrained in the fabric of comics storytelling that they are taken for granted. More readers need to realize how much of a seminal influence Foster was on practically all the artists who created the superhero genre, let alone other strip artists. Is it intimidating taking over a strip with such a long history and artistic legacy? Gary: “Intimidating” might be too strong a word but I can feel self-conscious if I give it much thought. This feeling may stem from the responsibility of maintaining a 75-year legacy in an age where adventure newspaper strips are passé, or from critics who complain about other artists and writers continuing long after the original creator’s gone, or from the readers who feel some sort of proprietary connection to Foster’s canon. In reality, these are niche considerations. No matter how much you and I care about these things, the majority of the Sunday newspaper readers don’t give a hoot about Foster

or the 75-year legacy or if Homer Simpson took over the throne. (Well, actually, readers might enjoy that.) My point is, the strip needs to be vital and entertaining—today. In the end, Mark and I are trying to tell a good story. We hope to engage readers, young and old, for about 30 seconds on a Sunday morning. That’s all. It’s the only way Mark and I could possibly pay homage to the great Mr. Foster. Mark: Gary and I realize that we can never meet the expectations of many long-time Valiant fans, and of course we don’t have the strip’s traditionally generous page space to work with, but we do our best to keep the strip’s spirit alive. The classic characters were all so well conceived and are fun to play with. You’ve been doing the strip for eight years now. What do you feel is your best storyline to date? Mark: I guess I’m slightly partial to the adventure in Ab’Saba and the characters of Skrymir and Makeda who were key players in that story. That was a long, complex tale that worked out well, I think. Gary: I don’t think of the strip in terms of storylines. At the moment there are 3,907 pages of Prince Valiant’s life. I drew about 450 of them. Other artists will continue the saga and hopefully, someday, there will be a 100-year anniversary. When I look at the strip collectively, I feel fortunate to have played a minor role in the vast scheme of Val’s history. Despite what I’ve stated regarding today’s audience, the strip, as far as I’m concerned, will always be “Hal Foster’s Prince Valiant”! For more on Gary and Mark, see the Comic-Con special guest bios, beginning on page 52. Photo by John Fleskes; art © King Features Syndicate, Inc.


% 20OFF! AND






GET READY FOR 2012! We’re gearing up for the best show ever! Comic-Con International returns to the San Diego Convention Center July 12–15, with Preview Night on Wednesday, July 11. Over the next dozen or so pages, you’ll find your first sneak peek at this year’s event, including the special guests, the anniversary celebrations, info on the Masquerade (and how to sign up!), and this year’s Eisner Award judges. And don’t forget to nominate you own favorite comic book store for the 2012 Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Awards (see page 71 for the official ballot). The best way to keep informed on everything you need to know for Comic-Con 2012 is to follow us on Twitter (, like us on Facebook (, or subscribe to our RSS feed at These three things will keep you up to date on information such as when badges go on sale, when hotel reservations open, and when the programming schedule goes live on the website. The most important thing you can do RIGHT NOW is sign up for a Comic-Con Member ID! You must have a Member ID to purchase a badge for Comic-Con 2012. See the article on the next page for information on how to get your very own Comic-Con Member ID!


Photo by Rudy Manahan


NEW for Comic-Con 2012: Your Unique Member ID! To help increase the efficiency of online registration and badge sales, all those who want to attend Comic-Con and/or WonderCon in 2012 are now required to sign up first for a COMIC-CON MEMBER ID. A Comic-Con Member ID is FREE and available to all adult and junior (ages 13 to 17) attendees with a valid and unique e-mail address. (Children ages 12 and under may not register for a Comic-Con Member ID.) Your Member ID will add you to Comic-Con’s verified special member “E-List.” As a member, all year round you will receive important information regarding registration, online badge sales, housing, and other announcements, including access to early-bird or special e-list presales. Signing up for a Comic-Con Member ID is quick and easy, and you only need to sign up once: your Member ID will be valid for all Comic-Con affiliated events in 2012 and beyond. By requiring a unique e-mail address for each Member ID, our hope is to increase the speed of the online registration process and prevent duplicate registrations that allow scalpers to purchase multiple tickets and sell them at inflated prices. The Comic-Con Member ID system is intended to allow more fans to purchase tickets for this highly popular event. Everyone who intends to purchase a ticket for Comic-Con 2012 must register for a Comic-Con Member ID; that includes attendees, professionals, press, and volunteers who apply for a complimentary badge. For more information and to sign up for a Comic-Con Member ID, please visit

Comic-Con International 2012 Anniversary Celebrations Each year Comic-Con International focuses on watershed moments in comics and pop culture history. This year’s special anniversary celebrations will be saluted in both onsite programming and the show’s Souvenir Book, featuring historical articles and incredible art produced by attendees and by fans from all over the world. Best of all, you can be a part of the celebrations, even if you can’t make it to the show! Visit php for details on how to contribute art and articles based on the following special celebrations. The deadline for contributions is April 20, 2012.




In 1912 two amazing creations leaped full-born from the vivid imagination of Edgar Rice Burroughs. John Carter’s first adventure, A Princess of Mars, was serialized in All-Story Magazine from February through July of 1912 as Under the Moons of Mars; the epic adventures of Tarzan of the Apes began in the pages of that same magazine in October of that year. The two creations of the prolific Burroughs have gone on to appear in numerous novels, movies, television shows, comics, and much more, including Disney’s John Carter movie.


Hal Foster’s Prince Valiant in the Days of King Arthur, a beautiful full-page Sunday comic strip, began in 1937. Foster’s incredible illustrative style and storytelling ability separated this elegant and exciting strip from pretty much everything else being published at the time (and, one could argue, ever since). The strip continues today by artist Gary Gianni and writer Mark Schultz, who are ComicCon special guests this year to help celebrate the history and ongoing influence of Foster’s great creation. For more information on Val and the current strip’s team of Gianni and Schultz, see the feature article beginning on page 42.

Stan Lee and Jack Kirby set the comics world on fire with The Fantastic Four in 1961. In 1962 the duo—along with artists Steve Ditko, Don Heck, Dick Ayers, and writer/artist Larry Lieber—struck again, creating “The Marvel Age of Comics” with the creation of the Amazing Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk, Ant-Man, Thor, and Iron Man. These enduring characters have flourished over the past halfcentury, in comics and on the big screen (with even an Ant-Man movie in production!). For more information, see the feature article beginning on page 32.

In 1981, three California brothers took their love of comics, movies, animation, and all things pop culture and created their own fanzine, titled Love and Rockets. Gilbert, Jaime, and Mario Hernandez published the first issue, then moved the book to Fantagraphics in 1982, its home ever since. The brothers have had an incredible impact on the alternative comics scene and are currently producing some of their best work ever. The Hernandez Brothers are guests at both Comic-Con and APE in 2012. For more information about Los Bros. Hernandez, see the feature article beginning on page 38 and the Comic-Con special guest bios, beginning on page 52.

20th ANNIVERSARY OF IMAGE COMICS In 1992, seven popular artists stopped doing freelance comics work and formed their own imprints under a new company, Image Comics. Erik Larsen, Jim Lee, Rob Liefeld, Todd McFarlane, Whilce Portacio, Mark Silvestri, and Jim Valentino took the comics world by storm, proving once again that the creators were just as popular as the characters they drew. Image has gone on to be a major force in the comics industry. A number of Image founders and creators are Comic-Con 2012 special guests; see the special guest bios beginning on page 52 for more info.






The “Class of 2011” poses for their photo: last year’s Eisner Award recipients

The panel of judges for the 2012 Will Eisner Comics Industry Awards have been announced. These judges will choose the nominees in more than two dozen categories, from Best Writer to Best Graphic Album. The ballot they compile will then be voted on by professionals in the comics industry, and the winners will be announced in a gala ceremony on the evening of Friday, July 13, at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront.

attending school and working numerous jobs. He describes owning a comic book store as “the best job in the world for someone who likes to share the joy of fine comic books!” Calum is a member of ComicsPro, and Strange Adventures has won several retailer awards including the Eisner and the Shuster. It was named best Canadian comics store in Previews magazine, Canada’s Readers Digest, and The Coast newspaper readers poll.

BRIGID ALVERSON has been reading comics since she was 4. After earning an MFA in printmaking, she headed to New York to become a famous artist but ended up working with words instead of pictures, first as a book editor and later as a newspaper reporter. She started MangaBlog to keep track of her daughters’ reading habits and now covers comics and graphic novels as a freelancer for School Library Journal, Publishers Weekly Comics Week, Graphic Novel Reporter, Comic Book Resources, MTV Geek, and Robot 6. She also edits the Good Comics for Kids blog at School Library Journal.

JESSE KARP is a school librarian at LREI, an independent school in New York City. He teaches the graduate course Graphic Novel: Narrative and Sequence at Pratt Institute, and he served three years on the American Library Association’s Great Graphic Novels for Teens Committee. He is a graphic novel reviewer for Booklist magazine and is the author of Graphic Novels in Your School Library (ALA, 2011) and the YA novel Those That Wake (Harcourt Children’s Books, 2011).

CALUM JOHNSTON is the owner of Strange Adventures: Comix & Curiosities, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, which he started in 1992; he has recently added a third location. Originally from Montreal, Calum began selling comics at a farmer’s market while



LARRY MARDER has had a long career in the industry, including creating, selling, publishing, and promoting comics. On the creative side of the comic book field, his Beanworld series has delighted readers from grade school to grad school for more than a generation, earning him a spot on the New York Times Graphic Books Bestsellers List. On



the business side, Larry has been executive director of Image Comics, president of McFarlane Toys, and marketing director of Moondog’s, a chain of Chicagoland comic book stores. He currently serves as president of the board of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. BEN SAUNDERS, professor of English at the University of Oregon, was hired by the university to teach the plays of Shakespeare, but since receiving tenure in 2006 he has also worked steadily to establish that institution at the forefront of Comics Studies. He is author of Do The Gods Wear Capes?: Spirituality, Fantasy, and Superheroes (Continuum Press, 2011), and a founder of the university’s undergraduate minor in Comics and Cartoon Studies. (For more info, see Ben’s special guest bio on page 58.) MARY STURHANN has been secretary on the Board of Directors of Comic-Con International since 1994. Mary started attending conventions 31 years ago. She is an avid reader of books, comics, graphic novels, and manga. She collects old movies and enjoys gaming of all kinds, but leans toward board and card games. She attends and works as staff at several conventions, including Comic-Con International and WonderCon, and is the recipient of an Inkpot Award.



Student work by Dustin Blattner for Digital Sculpting Course

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Special Guests


(cartoonist, FoxTrot) Bill Amend is the creator of the comic strip FoxTrot, syndicated by Universal Press Syndicate. He earned a BA in physics from Amherst College in 1984.  FoxTrot began syndication in 1988 and built a client list of more than 1,000 daily and Sunday newspapers before Amend switched the strip to a Sunday-only format at the end of 2006. In 2007 Bill received the Reuben Award for Cartoonist of the Year from the National Cartoonists Society. There are currently 39 FoxTrot book collections in print. FoxTrot can be seen online at

(Dynamite), Star Trek, and True Blood (IDW). Tim partnered with actor Thomas Jane in 2004 to form RAW Studios. Together they create and develop projects for comics and film.


(cartoonist, Groo, MAD, Sergio Aragonés Funnies) See Sergio’s WonderCon bio on page 16 for more info!

(writer, Lucifer, The Unwritten, X-Men Legacy) Best known for his runs on Vertigo’s Lucifer and Marvel’s X-Men Legacy, as well as the multiple New York Times bestseller The Unwritten, Mike Carey also writes prose fiction; his Felix Castor novels have run to five titles, and he is co-writing a novel, The Steel Seraglio, with his wife Linda and daughter Louise. He is also a screenwriter and is currently working on a movie screenplay, Silent War, for Slingshot and Intrepid Pictures. His games credits include the recent X-Men Destiny game for Activision.




(cartoonist, Hark! A Vagrant!) Kate Beaton is a Canadian cartoonist who first appeared on the comics scene in 2007 with her online series Hark! A Vagrant!, which has been collected into book form by Drawn and Quarterly. Since then she has become a fan favorite, with illustrations appearing in places like The New Yorker, Harper’s, and Marvel’s Strange Tales anthology. Praised for their expression, intelligence, and comic timing, her cartoons often display a wonderfully light touch on historical and literary topics. The jokes are a knowing look at history through a modern perspective and a campaign against anyone who thinks that history is boring.


(artist, Punisher, Hellblazer) Eisner Award–nominated artist Tim Bradstreet is a self-taught illustrator whose career spans role-playing/video games, comic books, book publishing, and film. Bradstreet is mainly known for his long tenures as cover artist for The Punisher and John Constantine: Hellblazer. He continues to be a “go-to” cover artist and is currently the series regular on Clive Barker’s Hellraiser (BOOM!), Jennifer Blood 52 COMIC-CON ANNUAL 2012

(author, Parasol Protectorate series) New York Times bestselling author Gail Carriger writes to cope with being raised in obscurity by an expatriate Brit and an incurable curmudgeon. She escaped small-town life and inadvertently acquired several degrees in higher learning and a fondness for teeny tiny hats and tropical fruit. Her Parasol Protectorate books are urban fantasies mixed with comedies of manners and steampunk. Soulless won the ALA’s Alex Award. The final book in the series, Timeless, releases in spring 2012, along with the first in her Finishing School series for young adults, Etiquette & Espionage, and Yen Press’s manga edition of Soulless.


(cartoonist/illustrator, Demo, East Coast Rising, Conan) Becky Cloonan is an award-winning cartoonist and illustrator who started self-publishing minicomics in 1999. Since then she has gone on to work with Vertigo, Dark Horse, Harper Collins, and Marvel, with editions of her work published in several countries around the world. Standout works include American Virgin with writer Steve Seagle, Eisner Award–nomi-

nated Demo with Brian Wood, and her solo graphic novel East Coast Rising. She is also drawing a new Conan series from Dark Horse, with writer Brian Wood. She lives and works in Brooklyn and still tries to self-publish a new minicomic every year.


(artist, Shaolin Cowboy, Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot) Born in Cedar Rapids, IA, artist Geof Darrow went through 12 years of Catholic schooling, which left him permanently scarred. He attended the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts for four years, and from there he worked in advertising, audio-visual, animation, and comics and at the Quaker Oats company in their maintenance department. Darrow’s comics work has won him some awards over the years and lost him some. He likes to draw and is fortunate enough to get paid for it . . . most of the time. His current work includes drawing Shaolin Cowboy for Dark Horse Comics.


(writer/artist/producer/director, The Tick, Angel, Supernatural) Ben Edlund grew up semi-feral in an artistic household next to a cranberry bog. One symptom of his particularly severe form of virginity was the creation of The Tick comic book series, which he began writing and drawing in his late teens. The Tick begat a cartoon, a small merchandising empire, and a prime-time live-action TV series. Edlund wrote and produced shows such as Firefly, Angel, and Supernatural. With these and his phantom contributions to other genre highlights such as Dr. Horrible’s SingAlong Blog and The Venture Bros., he’s drizzled his middle-brow absurdism across three decades of highend cult obscurity.


(writer, Avengers, Dr. Strange, Batman) It was once said that Steve Englehart had “more hits with more characters at more companies than any other writer.” Steve is now writing the Max August series at Tor (Long Man, Plain

Man, and the upcoming Arena Man), and his comics work is still being published: the Batman film franchise is still going strong, Kilowog’s everywhere, Avengers vs. Defenders just got republished again, battling Dr. Strange and Batman for the top spot, and Coyote, Scorpio Rose, and Lorelei live on with Max. So only the Ultraverse seems gone for good.


(writer, producer, comics historian) See Mark’s WonderCon bio on page 16 for more info!


(cartoonist, Luann) Greg Evans is the creator of the nationally syndicated comic strip Luann, which celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2010. Greg has been noted for tackling tough teen-related issues and in 2004 was awarded the National Cartoonists Society’s highest honor, the Reuben for Cartoonist of the Year.


(cartoonist/musician, The Wrong Place, Night Animals, The Making Of) Brecht Evens is a Belgian cartoonist, visual artist, and musician. He studied illustration in Ghent. His first graphic novel in English, The Wrong Place, received widespread acclaim and was published across Europe and North America. It was awarded the Prix de l’Audace at the Angoulême International Comics Festival and the Haarlem Comic Festival’s Willy Vandersteen Award for best Dutch-language graphic novel. He lives in Brussels. His newest book is The Making Of.


(artist/illustrator, Prince Valiant, The Monstermen) Gary Gianni began his art career as an newspaper illustrator and courtroom artist for television, where he covered the trial of murderer John Wayne Gacy. He has received the Eisner and Spectrum awards and has illustrated books by authors ranging from Melville and Stevenson to Robert E. Howard and Michael Chabon. His comics include The Shadow, Batman, Indiana
















Hama photo by Seth Kushner; Hamilton photo by Rebecca Lewis













Jones, and Tom Strong. For 8 years he has drawn the newspaper Sunday strip Prince Valiant. Recently, Dark Horse published Gianni’s occult detective adventures, The Monstermen and Other Scary Stories, and Ras Press released The Nefertiti–Tut Express written by Ray Bradbury and illustrated by Gianni.

genetically designed detective Paula Myo. After that came the standalone novel Great North Road, published by Del Rey, which he describes as his “monster in the dark” story. Peter is taking a break from adult novels to write the Books of the Realms, a trilogy aimed at 8- to 12-year-olds.


(writer/artist, Love and Rockets) Gilbert Hernandez, the co-creator of Love and Rockets with his two brothers, was born in Oxnard, CA, seemingly with a comic book in his hand. His mother allowed him and his siblings to read comics because she loved comics as a child herself. He learned to draw his own minimalist comics at age 5, which eventually evolved into the comics he does now. He’s produced comics for almost every major comics company but prefers to do more personal work, as he believes that comics are a great place for self-expression. His career spans 30 years, and he plans to go as far as he can with our beloved medium.

(artist/co-creator, Chew) Rob Guillory is a multiple Eisner and Harvey Award–winning comic book artist. Born, raised, and currently based in Lafayette, Louisiana, Guillory is most known for his art on the New York Times bestselling series Chew, published by Image Comics. The book has won two Harvey Awards (including Best New Talent), was nominated for two Eagle Awards, and won Eisner Awards for Best New Series in 2010 and Best Continuing Series in 2011.


(writer/cartoonist, G.I. Joe, Wolverine) Larry Hama is a writer/cartoonist/illustrator/actor/musician who has worked in comics, television, and film. He is best known as the writer of Marvel’s G.I. Joe comics in the ’80s and Wolverine in the ’90s. More recently, he has scripted G.I. Joe Origins and G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero for IDW as well as various animation and video game projects. His illustrations have appeared in National Lampoon, Esquire, New York, and Rolling Stone. As an actor, he has appeared on Broadway in Stephen Sondheim’s Pacific Overtures and on TV in M*A*S*H*, SNL, and Another World.


(author, Night’s Dawn trilogy, Great North Road) Peter F. Hamilton is a Sunday Times bestselling science fiction author of 15 books, including the acclaimed Night’s Dawn trilogy. Born in Rutland, England, he still lives there with his wife and two young children. His last series of five books set in his Commonwealth universe featured the




(writer/artist, Love and Rockets) As a young aimless Latino punk rocker, Jaime Hernandez, along with his brothers Gilbert and Mario, selfpublished the first issue of Love and Rockets in 1981. It was picked up by Fantagraphics Books in 1982 and ran 50 issues before the brothers took a break to pursue solo projects. Jaime’s titles included Whoa, Nellie!, Maggie and Hopey Color Fun, and Penny Century. Love and Rockets was revived in 2000 and still continues today. Outside of L&R, Jaime has also done other comic work, magazine illustration, and album covers. He lives in Altadena, CA with his wife and daughter.


(writer/artist, Love and Rockets) Comics histories, newspaper strips, cartoon collections, paperbacks, trading cards, monster magazines and movies, rock and roll, cheesy TV shows and cartoons, and a whole bunch of funny books—all contributed

to the launch of Mario Hernandez and his brothers Gilbert and Jaime’s selfpublished fanzine Love and Rockets. In addition to contributing some stories to L&R, Mario has produced a plethora of freelance work for various underground and alternative anthologies—Rip-off Comics, Buzzard, Real Girl, and Measles—culminating in a one-shot collection, Brain Capers. His latest project was Citizen Rex for Dark Horse with brother Gilbert. It was included in The Best Comics of 2010 anthology.



(author, The Inheritance Trilogy) N. K. Jemisin is the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Award–nominated author of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, The Broken Kingdoms, and The Kingdom Of Gods (The Inheritance Trilogy), out now from Orbit Books. She’s also a counseling psychologist, a biker, and a feminist/ anti-racist blogger. She lives in Brooklyn, New York and is currently hard at work on two more books that will be forthcoming from Orbit in 2012. For more info, visit

(writers/artists, Babymouse, Squish) Jennifer and Matthew Holm are the sibling team behind the Babymouse graphic novels for young readers, which have sold more than 1.4 million copies and won numerous awards, including the 2006 Gryphon award, 2006 New York Book Show awards, and seven IRA/CBC Children’s Choice awards. Babymouse: Queen of the World was the first graphic novel ever to be named an ALA/ALSC Notable Children’s Book. The latest volume in the series is #15, A Very Babymouse Christmas. The Holms are also the creators of the IndieBoundbestselling graphic novel series Squish. The latest book is Squish #3: The Power of the Parasite.



(artist/illustrator, Marvel Masterpieces, Warlord of Mars) Joe Jusko’s career has spanned 35 years, starting with the sale of his very first cover to Heavy Metal in 1977 at the age of 17. Joe has worked for almost every major comic book publisher, producing covers and interiors for iconic characters such as Conan the Barbarian, Vampirella, and Tarzan of the Apes. His work has appeared on paperback book covers, calendars, posters, T-shirts, packaging, and most memorably the multi-award-winning 1992 Marvel Masterpieces Trading Cards. His current work includes monthly covers for Warlord of Mars from Dynamite Entertainment and Outcast from BOOM!, as well as many other projects.

(artist/inker, Daredevil, The Dark Knight Returns) After apprenticing with Dick Giordano, Klaus Janson entered comics in the early ’70s, inking an issue of Marvel’s Black Panther. He has inked just about every penciler working within the last 40 years. In the 1980s, he inked Frank Miller on Daredevil and The Dark Knight Returns. His penciling work includes Gambit, Gothic, Spawn/Batman, and Death and the Maidens. Currently, he is inking Amazing Spider-Man over Giuseppe Camoncoli and penciling Daredevil: The End of Days, written by Brian Michael Bendis and David Mack and inked by Bill Sienkiewicz. He is most proud of the students he has taught at the School of Visual Arts.

(cartoonist, For Better or For Worse) Canadian cartoonist Lynn Johnston is best known for her comic strip For Better or For Worse. Her cartooning career started with a series of humorous books on parenting. In 1978, she sent off 20 examples of a daily comic strip, The Johnstons—based on her own family—to Universal Press Syndicate. She received and signed a 20-year contract, and For Better or For Worse began. The strip ended in 2010 but still appears (in reprint form) in over 2,000 papers in Canada, the United States, and 20 other countries, translated into eight languages. It’s been collected into close to 40 books.





(writer/artist, The Abominable Charles Christopher) Karl Kerschl has been drawing comics professionally for over 15 years. He has worked on Superman, The Flash, and Teen Titans, among other heroic things, and recently self-published a collection of his weekly webcomic, The Abominable Charles Christopher. He currently resides in Montréal, Canada, where he continues to write and draw his own stories. The Abominable Charles Christopher has been nominated for several awards and has won the Shuster Award for Best Canadian Webcomic in 2010 and the Eisner Award for Best Digital Comic in 2011. The strip updates weekly at www.


(writer/letterer/co-creator, Chew) John Layman is the co-creator, writer, and letterer of Chew, the New York Times bestselling, Harvey Award, and multi-Eisner Award–winning cannibal cop comedy series from Image Comics. Layman was an editor for WildStorm Productions and has written or lettered for nearly every major publisher in comics for the last decade and a half. Other comics he’s written include Puffed, Gambit, Godzilla, Army of Darkness vs. Marvel Zombies, Scarface, Thundercats, and Stephen Colbert’s Tek Jansen. Chew is currently in development to be a TV series on Showtime.


(artist, Justlce League, Batman: Hush; DC Comics co-publisher) See Jim’s WonderCon bio on page 16 for more info!


(writer, Animal Man, Frankenstein; writer/artist, Sweet Tooth) Jeff Lemire is the award-winning Canadian cartoonist of the acclaimed graphic novel Essex County (Top Shelf) and the comic book series Sweet Tooth from DC/Vertigo. He is also the current writer of Animal Man and Frankenstein for DC Comics and has written the monthly ad56 COMIC-CON ANNUAL 2012

ventures of Superboy as well. In 2010 Essex County was named one of the five “Essential Canadian Novels” of the decade in the prestigious Canada Reads program, becoming the first graphic novel to ever be included in the national competition. Lemire’s next original graphic novel, The Underwater Welder, from Top Shelf Productions, will debut at Comic-Con 2012.


(writer, Legion of Super-Heroes) Paul Levitz has been a comics fan (The Comic Reader, winner of two Best Fanzine Comic Art Fan Awards), editor (Batman), writer (Legion of Super-Heroes), and executive (38 years at DC, ending as president and publisher). He has received the Inkpot, Clampett Humanitarian, and ComicsPro Industry Appreciation awards, and he serves on the board of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. His Eisner Award–winning book, 75 Years of DC Comics: The Art of Modern Mythmaking, was published by TASCHEN, and his recent comics writing includes Legion of SuperHeroes and The Huntress.


(author, Star Trek, Star Wars novels) Andy Mangels is a USA Today bestselling author and co-author of over 20 books, including Star Trek and Star Wars tomes; his newest is Lou Scheimer: Creating the Filmation Generation. Since 1985, his tales have been published by DC, Marvel, Dark Horse, Image, Microsoft, and others. He regularly contributes to international entertainment magazines and has scripted, directed, and produced over 40 DVD documentaries and special features projects. A national award-winning social activist, he has raised over $135,000 for domestic violence programs at the yearly “Women of Wonder Day” event. He has moderated the Gays in Comics panel at Comic-Con for 25 years! (See page 60 for more info)


(artist, Conan, John Carter of Mars) Philippine-born comics artist Rudy

Nebres began work with DC Comics when fellow comic artist Tony DeZuniga introduced him to publisher Carmine Infantino and editor Joe Orlando. He was given assignments drawing short stories for the DC mystery titles, including House of Secrets, Ghosts, and The Unexpected. Rudy moved to the U.S. in 1975 and was hired by Marvel Comics to work on titles such as Avengers, King Kull, Conan, Red Sonja, Hulk, John Carter of Mars, and Deadly Hands of Kung Fu. Nebres has also produced work for Warren, CrossGen, and Harris and worked with Neal Adams at Continuity Studios.


(creator, Akira, Domu, Steam Boy) Japanese cartoonist and animator Katsuhiro Otomo, who made his professional debut in 1973, is best known in the U.S. for his manga series Akira, which he made into an animated film in 1988. His other manga include the award-winning Domu, along with such other series as Sayonara Nippon, Visitors, and SOS! Tokyo Metro Explorers. He has directed two other animated films, Steam Boy and Memories, along with the live-action Jiyu Wo Warerani and Mushishi. Mr. Otomo has published several books in relation to his films and is currently preparing a new illustration book, Kaba 2.


(writer/artist, Swallow Me Whole, Any Empire) Nate Powell was born in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1978 and began self-publishing at age 14. His work includes The Year of the Beasts (2012, Roaring Brook), The Silence of Our Friends (2012, First Second), Any Empire (2011, Top Shelf), Swallow Me Whole (2008, Top Shelf; Eisner Award winner for Best Graphic Novel, LA Times Book Prize Finalist, and Ignatz Award winner), Please Release (2006, Top Shelf), and Sounds of Your Name (2006, Microcosm). From 1999 to 2009, Nate worked full-time supporting adults with developmental disabilities, and he has performed in DIY punk bands Universe and Soophie Nun Squad.


(writer, Starman, Justice Society of America, The Shade) James Robinson is a British-born comic book scribe and sometimes screenwriter with a career spanning more than two decades. He is currently writing The Shade and Justice Society of America for DC Comics. His prior works include Starman, Leave It to Chance, The Golden Age, Superman, and JLA.


(artist, Amazing Spider-Man, Kick-Ass, Avengers) John Romita Jr. remembers watching his father draw Daredevil at home. It obviously had a great effect on him, as JR JR went on to become one of the leading comics artists of his generation. His first work was for Marvel UK, followed by a story in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #11. He illustrated just about every Marvel character, including Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Daredevil, Punisher, the Avengers, and XMen. His own creations include KickAss (co-created with Mark Millar) and The Gray Area.


(author, The Alloy of Law, Wheel of Time and Mistborn series) Brandon Sanderson has published six solo novels with Tor Books—Elantris, the Mistborn trilogy, Warbreaker, and The Way of Kings—as well as four books in the middle-grade Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians series from Scholastic. He was chosen to complete Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series: 2009’s The Gathering Storm and 2010’s Towers of Midnight will be followed by the final book, A Memory of Light, in 2012. His newest Mistborn novel, The Alloy of Law, was released in November. Currently living in Utah with his wife and children, Brandon teaches creative writing at Brigham Young University.


(comics scholar, professor of English at the University of Oregon) Ben Saunders believes that comics make people smarter. Besides serv-


















SILKE Savage photo by Tamea Burd; Silke photo by Greg Preston





ing as curator for the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art’s comprehensive exhibition of original comic art from the superhero genre (“Faster Than a Speeding Bullet,” 2009), Ben is author of Do The Gods Wear Capes?: Spirituality, Fantasy, and Superheroes (Continuum Press, 2011) and a founder of the undergraduate minor in Comics and Cartoon Studies at the University of Oregon, where he teaches a variety of classes drawing on the Anglo-American canon of newspaper strips, comic books, and graphic novels.


(cartoonist, Savage Chickens) When Doug Savage was a kid, he always wanted to be a cartoonist. But when he grew up, he found himself working in a corporation, starving for creativity and plagued by migraines. Luckily, this predicament drove him to pick up a pad of yellow sticky notes and start drawing chicken cartoons. Published online every weekday since 2005, Savage Chickens is read by millions and has been published in books and magazines worldwide. His book, Savage Chickens: A Survival Kit for Life in the Coop, was published in 2011 by Perigee Books (an imprint of Penguin USA). Learn more at www.


(author, Old Man’s War, Fuzzy Nation) John Scalzi is the author of several science fiction novels, including the bestselling Old Man’s War sequence, comprising Old Man’s War, The Ghost Brigades, and the New York Times bestselling The Last Colony. He is a winner of science fiction’s John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and he won the Hugo Award for Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded, a collection of essays from his popular blog “Whatever.” His latest novel, Fuzzy Nation, hit the New York Times bestseller list in its first week on sale. His next book will be published in June 2012.


(writer/artist, Xenozoic Tales, Prince Valiant) Mark Schultz loves a good story, al58 COMIC-CON ANNUAL 2012

ways has. His lifelong interest in adventure fiction and science led him to create the award-winning comics series Xenozoic Tales and co-create the undersea adventure SubHuman, as well as to write such nonfiction projects as The Stuff of Life, a Graphic Guide to Genetics and DNA. He has illustrated a collection of Robert E. Howard’s Conan of Cimmeria and the autobiography of Charles R. Knight. Currently, he is completing the visuals for his Storms at Sea novella while continuing to script Prince Valiant, which appears in the funny pages of better newspapers everywhere.


(cartoonist/writer, Captain Carrot, Oddball Comics) Scott Shaw! is an experienced professional cartoonist/writer in the fields of comic books, animation, advertising, and toy design. His first published comics story appeared in the underground comic book Gory Stories Quarterly. He co-created—with Roy Thomas—the funny animal superhero series Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew! (DC). Scott was one of a handful of local comic fans who helped organize the first San Diego Comic-Con. He regularly performs his popular Oddball Comics slide show at Comic-Con, and he wows the audience along with Sergio Aragonés and Mark Evanier at the annual Quick Draw! event.


(writer/artist, Bookhunter, Empire State) Jason Shiga graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a degree in pure mathematics. He is the author of over 20 comic books, including Fleep, Bookhunter, Meanwhile, and Empire State. He is the inventor of three board games, two card tricks, and the world’s second largest interactive comic, spanning 25 square feet. His puzzles and mazes have appeared in McSweeny’s and Nickelodeon magazine. He lives in Oakland, CA.


(artist/illustrator/designer, Rascals in Paradise, Bettie Page, Queen of the Nile)

After a career as the executive art director at Capitol Records and as the creator, editor, and designer of the magazines Cinema and Movies International, as well as being a glamour photographer, historian (Here’s Looking At You, Kid), novelist (the Death Dealer series), and screenwriter (Sahara, King Solomon’s Mines, Revenge of the Ninja), Jim Silke turned, in 1991 at age 60, to his first love—comics. He has since completed the graphic novels Rascals in Paradise and Bettie Page, Queen of the Nile, plus a number of illustrated art books, including Bettie Page: Queen of Hearts, Pin-Up: The Illegitimate Art, and Jungle Girls.


(writer, Superman: Earth One) See JMS’s WonderCon bio on page 18 for more info!


(artist, MAD, Creepy, Eerie) Born in Santurce, Puerto Rico in 1932, Angelo Torres began drawing at a young age. In 1946 he moved to New York City, where he studied art in high school and in 1951 went into the Army and served in Korea. He attended the Cartoonists and Illustrators School (SVA) from 1953 to 1955, when he left to work in the comic business, including collaborations with his friends Al Williamson and Frank Frazetta. The years ahead were busy with a wide variety of projects, including Jim Warren’s Creepy and Eerie. In 1969, Torres joined the gang at MAD magazine.


(artist, Incredible Hulk, GI Joe) Herb Trimpe is best known for his 8-year run on the Incredible Hulk for Marvel, featuring the introduction of Wolverine in Hulk 180 and 181. Trimpe is also known for his contributions to several licensed characters, including Transformers, Godzilla, and G.I. Joe, all of which were featured in major motion pictures. Other titles drawn by Trimpe include The Defenders, War Is Hell, Guardians of the Galaxy, Indiana Jones, and Fantastic Four Unlimited, a quarterly publication that became Trimpe’s final effort at Marvel. Trimpe

is currently drawing G.I. Joe covers for IDW publishing, as well as extensive commission work.


(cartoonist, Wee Pals) Cartoonist Morrie Turner, a native of Oakland, CA, turned to cartooning fulltime in 1964. In 1965 he created the Wee Pals comic strip. It was Turner’s intention to portray a world without prejudice, a world in which differences—race, religion, gender, and physical and mental ability—are cherished, not scorned. One life-changing honor was during the Vietnam War when he was one of six cartoonists asked by the National Cartoonist Society to go to Vietnam, where he spent 27 days on the front lines and in hospitals drawing more than 3,000 caricatures of service people. Morrie also has the distinction of having been at the very first San Diego Comic-Con in 1970.


(writer/historian/producer, The Dark Knight, The Boy Who Loved Batman) Michael Uslan grew up loving Batman. As a young adult, he was one of the first people in the country to teach a college-accredited course on comic book folklore. Along with business partner Benjamin Melniker, Uslan has produced all the Batman films to date, starting with the first Tim Burton film in 1989. He has also written for comics, including the Archie Gets Married storyline, was instrumental in bringing the 1960s comics fan favorite title T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents back to print, and recently published his autobiography, The Boy Who Loved Batman, with Chronicle Books.


(artist, Black Lightning, Green Arrow, Thriller) Trevor Von Eeden, born in Guyana, South America in 1959, came to the U.S. in 1970. Along with co-creating Black Lightning for DC, Von Eeden has drawn Batman Annual #8, a Green Arrow miniseries, Thriller, Catwoman, Worlds’ Finest, Legends of the DC Universe, and Black Canary, among many others. He has also produced his

first self-written and drawn graphic novel, The Original Johnson, the story of Jack Johnson, “the first black heavyweight champion of the whole white world” (as the blurb goes), published by IDW.


(writer/editor, Kingdom Come, Irredeemable, Daredevil) See Mark’s WonderCon bio on page 18 for more info!


(artist, Tarzan, Zorro, Swamp Thing) Tom Yeates attended the Joe Kubert School after three years of college. He has been working as an illustrator for 30 years, working for Dark Horse, DC, and Marvel, illustrating Swamp Thing, Timespirits, Tarzan, and Zorro.  His book illustration work includes  Edgar Rice Burroughs’  John Carter of Mars  for Barnes & Noble, and a series of books on myths by Anthony Horowitz. 2011 saw the release of The Outlaw Prince from Dark Horse, a graphic novel based on ERB’s The Outlaw of Torn. He is currently working on a western graphic novel based on a Louis L’Amour story, a new Tarzan comic, and Groo vs. Conan.


Image Comics’ 20th Anniversary

Image Comics celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2012 and these founding artists will be present at Comic-Con to help mark the occasion! (Image co-founder Jim Lee’s bio is on page 16.)

ERIK LARSEN (writer/artist/creator, Savage Dragon)

Erik Larsen was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He didn’t live there long. He currently lives in San Francisco, California. He’s written and drawn a mess of comics over the years, among them Spider-Man, Thor, Defenders, Punisher, Nova, Aquaman, Doom Patrol, and Wolverine. In 1992 he and a group of upstarts left Marvel in the lurch and formed the greatest comic book company in the history of the universe—Image Comics, where he’s written and drawn the adventures of Savage Dragon for the last 20 years. It kicks serious ass.


(writer/artist/creator, Youngblood) Rob Liefeld’s comics career began in the late 1980s at DC and was jumpstarted by his work at Marvel on New Mutants and X-Force in the early 1990s; while at Marvel he co-created the characters Cable with writer Louise Simonson and Deadpool with Fabian Nicieza. In 1992 he and six other popular young comics artists left Marvel and co-founded Image Comics. His work at Image has included Youngblood and the recent series The Infinite, written by Robert Kirkman. He is currently drawing Hawk and Dove for DC Comics, a title he also worked on very early in his career.

WHILCE PORTACIO (artist, Uncanny X-Men, Wetworks)

Whilce Portacio started in comics as an inker before launching his career as a penciler. Marvel editor Carl Potts offered him an inking job on Alien Legion after seeing his portfolio at Comic-Con in 1984. Whilce was soon recognized for his work on Marvel’s Punisher, X-Factor, and Uncanny X-Men (for which he created Bishop), DC’s Batman Confidential and Stormwatch, and his original creation Wetworks. He is one of the founding fathers of Image. Currently working on Hulk, Whilce will launch NonHumans—his collaboration with film writer/creator Glen Brunswick from Image— at Comic-Con. Whilce will also resume his art school. More info:

MARC SILVESTRI (writer/artist, Witchblade, The Darkness, Incredible Hulk)

Marc Silvestri founded Top Cow in 1992 after leaving a lucrative career at Marvel. His mandate for Top Cow was specific: create the next generation of heroes and do it better than everyone else. Marc built Top Cow into an artist boutique that created iconic characters and properties such as Witchblade, Wanted, and The Darkness. Marc helped position Top Cow as a vital production company in film and television as well as acting as producer on the Witchblade TV and anime series, the Wanted and A-Team feature films, and both of The Darkness video games. Marc continues to be active as a comic artist as well, most recently in Artifacts, Image United, and The Incredible Hulk.

JIM VALENTINO (writer/artist, normalman, ShadowHawk)

Jim Valentino is the creator of such diverse series as normalman, A Touch of Silver, Vignettes, and ShadowHawk, as well as being the creative force behind the Guardians of the Galaxy for Marvel. A co-founder of Image Comics, he served as the company’s publisher from 1999 to 2004, changing the face of the company to one of the most stylistically diverse in the industry. Currently he heads his own division of Image, Shadowline, which publishes Morning Glories, Green Wake, Ted McKeever, and more. He serves on the board of directors of the Hero Initiative and is an alumnus of the San Diego Comic-Con committee.

Larsen photo by Luigi Novi; Liefeld photo by Albert L. Ortega




Gays in Comics Panel Celebrates 25th Year Twenty-five years ago, Comic-Con International unveiled a panel that would go on to have lasting appeal to the convention. The first Gays in Comics panel occurred at Comic-Con in 1988. Over that past quarter century (!), one constant has been present at all the annual panels: moderator Andy Mangels, who started it that very first year and has been at it ever since. What’s the “secret origin” of the Gays in Comics panel at Comic-Con? Andy Mangels: Back in 1988, while writing for Amazing Heroes magazine, I produced a 36-page in-depth article that ran in two issues, titled “Out of the Closet and into the Comics—Gays in Comics: The Creations and the Creators.” At that point in time, nobody had ever written about the subject in an article, and nobody in the mainstream comic book industry was out of the closet (though there were a handful who were “out” in the underground/nascent independent comic world, most notably Howard Cruse and Roberta Gregory). I interviewed a lot of gay, lesbian, and bisexual creators who were quoted anonymously, as well as a lot of heterosexual creators, about the way the industry treated gay characters, gay creators, and gay fans. The articles were released in mid-June and early July, a month prior to San Diego Comic-Con 1988. Even in those pre-Internet days, the reaction was immense. There were a lot of letters written and phone calls made. It became one of the biggest news stories of the summer! Although I had not chaired a panel before, I approached Comic-Con about doing a Gays in Comics panel. They were unsure what the response would be, but scheduled a panel in the 3,000-seat Civic Theatre. I put a panel together of some straight creators, as well as some “out” underground/independent creators. I believe there were about 700 to 800 people in the audience that year, and everyone was shocked at how high attendance was. I was only 20 years old then, and coming out to the industry as the first openly gay mainstream professional, while leading a combative panel in front of an audience like that, was a trial by fire. But it was clear to everyone that year, and in the years that followed at Comic-Con, that gay, lesbian,


(L to r) The panelists from the 2011 Gays In Comics panel: Jon Macy, Andy Mangels, Robert Kirkman, Paul Cornell, Greg Pak, Chip Kidd,and Dan Parent. bisexual, and transgendered fans and professionals mattered in the industry. You’ve done 24 panels over the years . . . which one was the most memorable for you, and why? Each year, I have a lot of people who say, “This year’s was the best one yet!” and it’s hard to disagree. After over two decades, things have changed, and the dialogues on-panel are much different than they used to be. Whereas the larger publishers used to shun the panel, many of them now suggest participants. It’s always a difficult balance finding a diverse lineup, trying to include men and women, gays and straights, people of different ethnicities and ages and fame-levels. I think Year 20 was a pretty memorable year because Paul Levitz—then the head of DC Comics—appeared on it. That sent a message to the industry—at least to those who were listening, since the comic press mostly doesn’t send reporters to this panel—that a major force in the industry felt it important to dialogue with the GLBT audience. Do you feel that the panels have fulfilled the original intent and mission you had in mind when they started? The dialogue fostered by the panels has helped change the industry itself: there are more good GLBT characters than ever; some companies have GLBT employee groups; and the word “diversity” isn’t looked at by most as an obligation but as a creative opportunity. When I began the panel in 1988, Marvel reportedly had an intercompany mandate

that there were “No gays in the Marvel Universe.” Now, not only does Marvel have gay characters, but Archie and DC have gay characters headlining their own books! The dialogue begun at the Gays in Comics panels has helped fans as well. From early fan gatherings after the panel sprang gay comic clubs, and then Internet forums and online clubs. A zine I put together in 1999 for dispersal after the panel which listed all the “out” creators at the time eventually led to the formation of PRISM Comics, the nonprofit group that supports GLBT creators and fans and which proudly exhibits each year at Comic-Con. There have been gay comic fan receptions and parties after the panel since 1999, and additional panels at Comic-Con since 2002. And attendance at all of the panels has remained stellar; we’ve inhabited a 1,000-seat room since 2006! With the aid of ComicCon, the GLBT comic fans have been able to find a sense of community within the larger comic fan community. Besides the 25th anniversary Gays in Comics panel for Comic-Con 2012, what are you working on now? I will have one new book (my 20th!) out this year, titled Lou Scheimer: Creating the Filmation Generation, from TwoMorrows. I’m continuing to write for magazines such as Back Issue and Star Trek magazine, as well as online sites, have been acting in minor roles on Grimm and Leverage, and produce the yearly charity event “Women of Wonder Day” every October.

Photo by Ted Abenheim, PRISM Comics



VISIT WWW.COMIC-CON.ORG FOR MORE INFO ON THIS YEAR’S MASQUERADE Winner of the Best DC Comics Costumes Award: “Brak-est Night,” worn, designed, and made by Daniel Proctor, David Proctor, Nikki Costa, Masoud Karkehabadi, and Carla Stockel at the Comic-Con 2011 Masquerade.


COMIC-CON MASQUERADE Anyone who’s ever attended Comic-Con can attest to the wide variety of great costumes that can be seen, whether on attendees in the corridors and Exhibit Hall, on display in glass cases, in miniature form on collectible figures, and in countless images on posters and books. Costuming is a vital ingredient of nearly all the popular arts and has been an integral part of fan conventions for many decades. ComicCon’s Saturday night big event is a unique evening of fun and amazing costume creations: the stage lights brighten, the music swells, the spotlights focus center-stage, and the audience of 4,000 who have lined up for many hours in advance takes their seats for the annual Masquerade costume show. Why is it called a Masquerade and not simply a costume contest? Because it’s more than just posing on stage: it’s about portraying characters too, a show full of spectacle, beauty, awe, comedy, light-saber battles, and song and dance, an event where you never know what’s going to happen next. The Masquerade proves that among Comic-Con’s attendees are plenty of amazing talents with creativity worth showcasing. More than a few times, contestants go on to professional costuming careers. The Comic-Con Masquerade is an event in the style of a talent competition, with a master of ceremonies, a panel of guest judges, and impressive


NEW FOR 2012

awards in various categories. The large, elevated stage has theater-style lighting and four giant highdefinition video screens providing great close-up views gathered by multiple cameras. The audience fills Ballroom 20 to capacity, and over 2,000 more people watch the show on large video screens in the nearby Sails Pavilion and other ballrooms. Some entries are solo costumes, while others are groups with a shared theme. Many are re-creations from movies, TV, anime, computer games, history, and of course comic books, but some completely original designs are presented as well. All costume genres are welcome, but no purchased or professionally sourced ones allowed. It’s a celebration of imagination and craftsmanship, and fun is the main objective! The master and mistress of ceremonies will again be the very entertaining five-time Hugo Award–winning artists and writers Phil Foglio and Kaja Foglio, who for many years have created, published, and contributed to a variety of comics, art, and games in the science fiction and fantasy genres through their company Studio Foglio. Impressive Comic-Con awards, featuring beautiful Olympics-style Comic-Con Masquerade medallions will be presented in categories of Best in Show, Judges’ Choice, Best Re-Creation, Best Original

The Comic-Con Masquerade medallions. Design, Best Workmanship, Best Presentation, Most Beautiful, and Best Young Fan. In addition, numerous companies and organizations will be generously donating their own awards to outstanding costumes. For a complete list of awards, please visit www. Because the number of entries is limited, you should apply for a contestant slot as soon as possible. All slots are usually filled far in advance of the convention, so don’t wait. To receive complete information, detailed rules, and an advance entry form, visit the above-listed website address and download the form, or request having it sent to you via regular mail by writing to the Masquerade Coordinator in care of CCI’s mailing address, or e-mail Please type “Masquerade” in the subject line of your e-mail. Photographers who wish a spot at the Masquerade Photo Op stage, where the contestants pose after their stage presentations, should also write the coordinator ahead of time to request a reserved spot, as they fill up early as well. For the rest of the year you are yourself. For Comic-Con, come dressed as someone else! Now get to work on that costume!

Any costumed entry winning one of Comic-Con’s own award categories will receive a FREE 4-day membership to Comic-Con 2013! If you have a winning costume, you’ll get your badge for 2013—Comic-Con’s extra thank you for all your hard work and talent! BADGES ARE NONTRANSFERABLE; IF A GROUP WINS, UP TO FOUR MEMBERSHIPS WILL BE GIVEN.


Photo by Kevin Green

Costumers Corner

Backstage at the Comic-Con Masquerade: What the Audience Doesn’t See! by Martin Jaquish Masquerade Coordinator, Comic-Con International and WonderCon

Best Workmanship winner: “Hyunkel the Knight,” worn, designed, and made by Edgar Mayoral


The show has started, the costume groups are taking their turns presenting on the stage, the master of ceremonies is announcing each entry, dramatic music flows from the overhead speakers, and every few minutes applause fills the air. If you’ve been to Comic-Con’s Masquerade, you know what the show is like from the audience’s perspective. Care to step behind the curtains for a quick tour while the show is running? Here, behind the tall black drapery of the 4,000+-seat ballroom, lighting is kept minimal so to not bleed onto the stage when it goes dark between each act. Only a few scattered work lights provide illumination. Contestants, show staff, and Convention Center A/V technicians speak in hushed tones, avoiding being overheard by the microphones on the stage lectern. Behind the color-changing stage backdrop, a dozen costume entrants stand lined up along the back wall, waiting their turn as they hear the music and applause of the presentation finishing up on stage. They anxiously check their props and costumes, hoping and praying their months of planning and crafting will lead to a smooth presentation with no problems. Most are nervous to step out before thousands of people who will be watching their every move in the glare of spotlights, with the high-definition video cameras sure to pick up any stumble or costume malfunction, but the backstage staff assures them all will go fine. “You’re up next; do you need help up the stairs? Looks like the rest of your group is ready on the other side. There’s your cue from the MC! Go, and have fun!” Now let’s move from the ballroom into the lit service corridor beyond. Here, among stored kitchen racks and rows of stacked chairs, the next batch of contestants are lining up, some accompanied by large carts carrying giant robot parts, dragon wings, or homemade set pieces. A princess gives her hair a final brushing, a mom helps her son put on his mask, a group make a last-minute change to their combat choreography, and contestant helpers (Masquerade staff members) move swiftly among them. “Does anyone need water?” Every few years stress or dehydration gets to someone, but help is never far away. Further down, past security guards, is the freight elevator used to bring up the oversized costumes and props that can’t be carried through the Convention Center. Wonder how some of the contestants got their large items here? Some rent moving vans and others actually build their stuff on site. Peeking out the wide doors toward the photo stage area where the costumers are escorted after being on stage, we can count about 80 photographers taking pictures and video, looking a little like the photo areas at award shows as dozens of flashes go off repeatedly, each costumer encouraged into several poses. Photo by Johnakin Randolph

[ Step behind the curtains for a quick tour while the Comic-Con Masquerade is running! [

The Comic-Con 2011 Masquerade Best in Show winner: “Saligia: The Court of Sin,” worn, designed, and made by Katrina Andrews, Dustin Javier, Marty Le Grow, Krys Lewis, Moira Malstrom, Carrie Martin, Jennifer Newman, and David Patricola Next, we pass the closed room where the judges and company representatives are briefed beforehand and where they deliberate at intermission, aided by reference photos of each of the costumes. Only the workmanship judge sees the costumes ahead of time, in order to evaluate the finer details; the rest of the judges see the costumes for the first time when the audience does. Inside this room, too, Comic-Con’s Onsite Newsletter reporter anxiously awaits award results so they can be included in the Sunday newsletter before it goes off to the printer at midnight. Now another batch of costumers walk past, returning from the photo stage to the contestant ready room, which, borrowing a term from theatre and TV, is called the Green Room. Keeping track of 100+ contestants as they move between rooms can be a challenge, so they are gathered here where they can watch the show on their own projection screen. The practice stage is here as well, built with the same dimensions as the ballroom stage so that contestants can rehearse a bit. The room is crowded and noisy, as socializing goes on in unique—sometimes bizarre—combinations of characters. Over here an Avatar-like woman covered in blue body paint tries not to rub against an elegant Victorian Photo by Kevin Green

dress. A few steps away Abraham Lincoln texts on his cell phone, while in the corner Batman chats with Beatles look-alikes from Yellow Submarine. Nearby, Iron Man shares construction tips with an alien creature that walks on stilts. While some costumers relax in chairs to await the end of the show, a few have no choice but to stay standing if their costumes won’t let them sit. The show isn’t over until the awards are given, and some of the contestants have been preparing all day. Meanwhile, the backstage helpers keep scurrying in and out, clipboards and walkie-talkies in hand. “Is all of your group here? Are they back from the bathroom? Someone left a prop behind! Ah, there it is, quick, get it to the stage!” Next door, another ordinary meeting room has been transformed even more dramatically. Thanks to a lot of pipe, metal stands, and thick drapery, temporary private dressing rooms now surround the perimeter. Mirrors stand propped against walls, and the middle of the room sports what resembles a workroom of a costume shop: chrome clothing racks and long tables covered with wigs, masks, bits of fabric, props, curling irons, spray adhesive, rolls of duct tape, and sometimes a sewing machine or two. Off in one corner, two professional makeup

artists from Hollywood are set up, donating their time and materials to help contestants look like pros. Near them are the costume repair supplies Comic-Con provides, where last-minute breakages, torn seams, and failed glue can usually be fixed in the nick of time. Now we step aside as a helper runs past, a worried look on his or her face as some detail is seen to; no one wants to be the one to let something go wrong! For the rest of the year these helpers are schoolteachers, programmers, clerks, and engineers, but for this one night they are theater staff, donating their time and sore feet to help the contestants to look—and feel—like stars for a night. “You did a great job, and the crowd loved you—didn’t we tell you they would?” Backstage after the show, the rooms are a mess of discarded paper, used makeup brushes, costume parts, unwanted wigs, empty soft drink cans, and, oddly, always a pair of shoes. But clean-up follows, then crews arrive in the wee hours to tear down the dressing rooms, stage, and screen, returning the rooms to event space for the next day. All traces of the show are erased, other than the magic smiles that many of the contestants, and most of the audience, carry though to the next day. WWW.COMIC-CON.ORG 65


JOSH, MIKEE, AND ROBYN: A FAMILY WITHIN THE COMIC-CON FAMILY Comic-Con International would not be possible without the army of volunteers who help run the event onsite. Many of those volunteers have come back year after year, forming the extended “family” of Comic-Con. Within that group of volunteers are actual families—moms and dads and sons and daughters—who have been active with the organization for years. One such family is composed of Comic-Con’s Anime co-coordinator Josh Ritter, his wife Mikee Ritter (who is Comic-Con’s Hospitality Suite coordinator), and Mikee’s daughter, Robyn Reynante, who helps her mom and has held various other jobs at the event, basically growing up at Comic-Con. Comic-Con Annual asked this family of volunteers how they first came to the show and what keeps them coming back. What first brought you to Comic-Con? Josh: I started collecting comics in 1974 and heard about Comic-Con from Richard Alf’s Comic Kingdom, the store where I bought books. [Alf was one of the founders of Comic-Con in 1970.]  I had to drive to San Diego for a comics shop, as there were none in North County at that time. I began attending Comic-Con in 1975 at the El Cortez. I spent most of my time in the dealer’s room, all 2,000 square feet of it. Over the years I have made friends and met many comics professionals. Mikee: Jayne and Theodore Sturgeon invited me to the show in 1976. I ended up volunteering the first day and have not missed a convention since then, working them all. Robyn: My mom first brought me to Comic-Con!   What do you do now at Comic-Con? Josh: Since 1993 I have been assistant or co-coordinator for the Japanese Anime department. Mikee: I am the Con Suite/Hospitality coordinator. I supervise the Con Hospitality Suite, the Industry Lounge, and staff lunch distribution. Robyn: I work in the Hospitality Suite with my mom. 66 COMIC-CON ANNUAL 2012

Left to right: Robyn Reynante, and Mikee and Josh Ritter What do you do in “real life”? Josh: I am a community services officer for the San Diego Sheriff’s Department, conducting weapons screening at the Vista Courthouse. Mikee: I work for the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency. I determine applicants’ eligibility to welfare programs. Robyn: I’m a pool guard for the City of San Diego.   What do you like best about Comic-Con?   Josh: Seeing the friends I have made over the years that I only get to see during Comic-Con, including any comics professionals and others in the industry, such as sci-fi authors that I read. Mikee: The people. There are so many truly wonderful people I have met over the years: professionals, fans, and fellow volunteers. I met Josh at Comic-Con! Robyn: Seeing everyone I have grown up with while working Comic-Con. If you were coming to Comic-Con as an attendee, what is your one must-attend panel or event?   Josh: Anime of course, but panels of sci-fi/fantasy authors would be a priority for me, and the Exhibit

Hall. It’s just a bit bigger than when I started coming to the show. Mikee: If there were a Harry Potter cast panel or a spotlight on J. K. Rowlings, I would be right there along with a bazillion other attendees. I would also have to see a WETA costume designer/fabrication panel, especially with a focus on period/fantasy pieces. Robyn: The Masquerade party on Saturday night. What currently satisfies your inner geek? Josh: The movies I have most enjoyed recently have been How to Train Your Dragon, Megamind, Harry Potter 7.2, and Captain America. Arakawa Under the Bridge is a fun anime series that I am looking forward to seeing more of. The books I have read most recently have been the Three Musketeers series by Alexander Dumas. Mikee: The Sleeping Beauty (and all of the 500 Kingdom stories) by Mercedes Lackey; she is my favorite author. I like the new TV series Grimm, and Bones is always a favorite in our house. Robyn: My current favorite author is Lee Child. I watch Castle, Sons of Anarchy, and football.

Spirit of Comics


Comics and Vegetables of Tel Aviv, Israel Wins 2011 Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award Each year Comic-Con International honors retailers from around the globe with the Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award, named after the visionary creator of The Spirit. When Eisner approached Comic-Con about initiating the award in the early 1990s, he wanted it as a way to acknowledge the important role that comic retailers play in the industry, nurturing the relationship between creators and their readers. The comic book retailer provides that vital link in getting the work from the creators and publishers to the public. Eisner recognized the importance of that link, and Comic-Con continues to recognize it 20 years after his original idea. The award is given out yearly to retailers who have done an outstanding job of supporting the comics medium in both the industry at large and their local community. (See the “Call for Nominations” ballot on page 71 for a complete list of criteria for the award and the opportunity to nominate your choice for 2012. You can also nominate your favorite store online at cci_eisners_spirit.php.) The nominees for the award are selected by a committee of industry professionals and the judging is facilitated by retailer Joe Ferrara (Atlantis Fantasyworld, Santa Cruz, CA), a past recipient. The 2011 committee included the 2010 award recipients, Curtis Sullivan and Steve Fodale of Vault of Midnight (Ann Arbor, MI). Other judges were writer/editor Anina Bennett (Heartbreakers, Boilerplate), Mike Holman (purchasing brand manager for Diamond UK), Chip Mosher (marketing director for BOOM! Studios at the time of the judging, now the marketing director for comiXology), and famed cartoonist Jeff Smith (Bone, RASL). Comic-Con’s Lisa Moreau coordinates all the information and videos sent in by the retailers during the nomination process and helps the judges during the judging process. The 2011 award recipient is Comics and Vegetables of Tel Aviv, Israel, owned by Yuval Sharon and Danny Amitai. Comic-Con Annual talked with Yuval and Danny and with Elite Avni-Sharon, Yuval’s wife, about the fascinating world of comics—and vegetables?!—in Israel. . Comics and Vegetables is a very unusual name for a store. Do you really sell vegetables, too? In the Hebrew holy book Hagadah, which we read 68 COMIC-CON ANNUAL 2012

during Passover, the phrase “and vegetables” means “and everything.” This was one of the reasons for the name of the store. Also, while looking for a location back in 2000, we stumbled upon a cute little store right next to a vegetables store and thought how funny it would be if we called the store “Comics and Vegetables” (CNV). Of course, not a day has gone by without questions from people—even the IRS!—about the location of the vegetables in the store. How did you get started in comics? When Yuval was 10 years old, he started to read his father’s MAD magazines. He found a small store that carried some translated Tarzan and Spider-Man comics, and after that he spent most of his time searching for more comic books to read. He worked all summer saving money for monthly mail orders. His favorites were Uncanny X-Men, Punisher, Captain America, and all the Batman comics he could get his hands on. Currently Yuval is a huge Hellboy fan. Danny discovered comics on a trip to London where he bought his first comic books, among them Amazing Spider-Man #300. Are there comics publishers in Israel? There are many Israeli comics being published lately. The new medium got lots of publicity through the cinema, the new Israeli Museum of Caricature and Comics (in Holon, south of Tel Aviv), and local comics festivals. Our own Rutu

Modan won an Eisner Award three years ago for her graphic novel Exit Wounds [and was a guest at Comic-Con in 2008]. Some of the more popular Israeli comic series are: Falafel Man by Dorit Maya Gur (a graduate of the Joe Kubert School), is about an Israeli superhero who fights evil and anti-Semitism, shooting Falafel balls from his hands. Uzi by Nimrod Reshef is about a rogue soldier fighting for good. Zbang by Uri Fink has been published for 20 years and has a huge following. It tells the story of teenagers in school. Ein Seora by Avi Blyer—a talented animator and illustrator—is about two friends on a bibbutz storming to the big city (Tel Aviv). Other popular titles include Farm 54 by Gilaad Selikter, which was translated to French and English, and Adirey Hatchelet (Fabulous Knights of Blue) by Offer Zanzuri. When did you first open a store, and why did you start selling comics?  Comics are a fairly new creation in Israel. There aren’t newspaper “funnies” here, distributed to your home every morning. There aren’t comics stores in every mall and on every street. In fact, there are only three stores in Israel, and two of them are owned by Comics and Vegetables.   Ten years ago, the comics situation was bleak. People who were familiar with comics from abroad found it difficult to receive magazines via

One of Israel’s most popular comic book characters, Falafel Man, and some of his fans at Comics and Vegetables in Tel Aviv.


unreliable deliveries and slow Internet orders. The only comics available were old translations of Asterix and Tarzan and one weekly comic for children called Zbang. We recognized the problem and decided to take action. In 2001, the website “Comics and Vegetables ” was launched, offering worldwide shipment of comics, news, and updates from the comics world. It also offered reviews, questionnaires, and feedback for artists from around the world. We sold comics books at malls and festivals, widening the awareness of comics. After repeated pleas from comic fans, we were determined to open a real store. In 2004, we found a nice little corner store in the heart of Tel Aviv and gave the small number of fans at the time a place to meet and discuss comics, and find products and magazines from around the world that were not otherwise available anywhere else in the Middle East at the time.   In the store, artists were able to find design and art books, comics-related support, and advice regarding independent comics books publishing. In 2006, the CNV store moved to a larger location, a few dozen meters from the old shop. Here we were able to display a wide range of products, from a variety of comics and manga to issues and merchandise from around the world—from small press to the big publishers. How is your store involved in your local community? CNV helps spread the word of comics across the country, by conducting lectures and workshops on comics. We assist in the annual national comics festival in Tel-Aviv, and we helped in establishing the Israeli Caricature and Comics Museum in Holon, a one-of-a-kind museum in this part of the world. Comics and Vegetables has always made sure to promote the local industry. We give courses, workshops, and lectures dealing with comics reading, creating, and publishing. We offer artistic and financial support to young local comics artists, assist with writing, drawing, printing, distribution, and advertising, and hold signings at the store.

Comics and Vegetables’ storefront and one of the many “Comics for All” events. Alongside CNV’s relationship with comic creators and fans, the store has established “Comics for All.” This is a group of comic artists who volunteer their time for children in hospitals, shelters for youths at risk, boarding schools for children removed from their parents, those in disadvantaged neighborhoods, and meetings of gay youth. The group offers workshops in experiential comics learning, which includes lessons, lectures, sketches, and portraits. We also donate merchandise and original comics.  The store offers a special discount card for the children of “Comics for All,” organizes illustrated donation campaigns, and attempts to fulfill every wish. For children with cancer who dream to publish comics, CNV provides all possible assistance, from meeting with famous artists who feature the children’s creations in their magazines, to organizing exhibitions of the children’s work at the Comics Museum. The store also issued a free issue of Israeli comics for distribution to the children of “Comics for All.”  What American comics are your bestsellers?  Spider-Man is an all-time favorite, and the DC New 52 books are selling through the roof, especially Batman. The Walking Dead and Chew are bestsellers in trade paperback.  We do our best to carry all publishers. Naturally, DC and Marvel are the main sellers, but the Israeli crowd is also into a lot of small press comics. The

latest Craig Thompson graphic novel, Habibi, sold a lot of copies, and Dark Horse’s Blacksad is one of our strongest sellers. What does winning the Spirit Award mean to you as a retailer? At first the phone rang off the hook. We were interviewed in every newspaper and on every news channel, and the Israeli awareness of us—and the comics medium in general—grew. But the reactions and feedback we were most proud and happy to receive were from comics retailers around the world. It meant a lot to us to be nominated and considered equal and worthy, but the winning itself was almost surreal. We still do not believe it, being a small store in a small country. Someone walks into your store who has never read comics and is interested in getting started. What comics do you recommend? We would ask the customer what brought him or her to the store. If they came because of a Batman movie, we would offer Batman: Hush, which is a great way to start. Marvel’s Ultimate line is always a good recommendation, and so is DC’s New 52 as a way to start reading comics. Most newcomers ask for standalone stories, so the best things for them are graphic novels, but it all depends on the age of the customer and their reasons to visit the store.


Spirit of Comics


The Judges Weigh In . . . This year’s Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Awards judges were tasked with sifting through an incredible amount of information about each store to narrow the field of 25 nominations down to a small group of finalists and one recipient. We asked some of the judges what stood out about this year’s nominated stores and what made Comics and Vegetables the award recipient.

Joe Ferrara

Anina Bennett

(owner, Atlantis Fantasyworld, Santa Cruz, CA; former award recipient)

(writer/editor, Heartbreakers, Boilerplate) Clearly, the bar has been raised. Fifteen years ago, every one of the nominees would’ve been an exceptional retailer and a top contender. Now, there are so many good comics shops that it was tough to choose a winner! Many of the things we used to wish for have come true in the direct sales market. The stores are clean and well organized— though I wish more of them would rack books by genre—with diverse products and friendly, knowledgeable staff. All the nominees were winners in that sense. Two things about Comics and Vegetables stood out from the crowd. First, the storeowners’ written presentation was superb. They submitted a book of photos with captions, a words-and-pictures narrative that was creative, engaging, concise, and relevant to all the judging criteria. But the main reason Comics and Vegetables won is that its owners have almost single-handedly created an infrastructure for comics fandom in Israel. They launched comic shops where there were none. They helped found a museum, run classes, and organize a comics and animation festival. They founded “Comics for Everyone,” an “association of Israeli comics creators volunteering to inspire creativity in disadvantaged children.” I don’t know how those guys even have time to breathe, but I salute them. As artist Michael Netzer wrote, they’re “striving to make comics as popular and loved as anything else in [Israeli] culture.” They embody the Spirit of Comics.

The quality of each store was highly professional and they were all deserving of recognition. Will’s intention in creating this award was to inspire comics store owners to present their stores in a more professional manner so as to appeal to a wider audience. I think he would be very proud of all of these nominees. Every comic store owner has a passion for what they do, but the staff at Comics and Vegetables were able to convey the unique way they reach out to the community beyond the limitations of their store. Their love for comics is exceeded only by their commitment to spread the word to Tel Aviv and beyond. They are the best ambassadors for comics you could ask for.

Chip Mosher

(VP, marketing, public relations, and business development, comiXology) I know when Will Eisner came up with the idea for this award he really wanted to have something in our industry to recognize great stores, but also to incentivize stores to be the best that they can be. There are so many great stores out there with so much to offer. We had 25 nominations this year, and there was not a bad store in the bunch. Unfortunately, there can be only one winner . . . but it is great to know that Will’s original vision has really come true. Comics and Vegetables had the edge in that they brought the comic book medium to

an entire country . . . you just can’t beat that! Israel just didn’t have any cultural history with comic books, so Comics and Vegetables had to start at square one. I really admired what they did. And I kept thinking to myself, “This is the store that Will would have picked!”

Jeff Smith

(writer/artist, Bone, Rasl) The presentations were all very energetic. As a comics publisher, I was happy to see so many contemporary stores with clear ideas about how to rack and display books. A lot of the nominees had dedicated children’s areas, complete with tables and chairs. Comics and Vegetables had many strong points, but it was their community outreach that really put them over the top. They almost single-handedly created a comics scene in Tel Aviv! And of course, the name is awesome!

Curtis Sulliivan and Steve Fodale

(Vault of Midnight, Ann Arbor, MI, last year’s award recipient) The top dozen or so stores looked amazing, top shelf for any business. Full range of comic books, great product mixes, and dynamite layouts. It was very hard to whittle it down to five and than one ultimate champion. [Comics and Vegetables] had a great looking store, and they had the full breadth and width of comic books, but their unabashed zeal for the medium was what put them over the top. True ambassadors of the art.

Nominate Your Own Favorite Comic Shop for the 2012 Award! Fill out the form on the next page and mail or fax it in or visit to nominate a store online! 70 COMIC-CON ANNUAL 2012

2012 CALL FOR NOMINATIONS The Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award, presented under the auspices of Comic-Con International: San Diego, is given to an individual retailer who has done an outstanding job of supporting the comics art medium both in the community and within the industry at large.


for nomination include: • Any retailer established in business for at least two years is eligible to be nominated. • Anyone—retailers, professionals, fans—may place a name in nomination. • A panel of industry judges select a group of finalists to be subjected to an in-depth examination based on the award criteria. • Recipient will be announced as part of the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards at Comic-Con International on Friday, July 13, 2012. • Previous winners are not eligible for nomination.


for judging include: • Support of a wide variety of innovative material. Providing opportunities for creators’ material to reach buyers; stocking a diverse inventory. • Knowledge. Working to stay informed on retailing as well as on the comics field. • Community activity. Promoting comics to the community; maintaining relationships with schools and libraries; keeping active in social, business, and arts community organizations. • Quality of store image. Innovative display approaches; using store design creatively. • Adherence to standard ethical business practices.

2012 SPIRIT OF COMICS AWARD NOMINATING BALLOT I place the following name in nomination for the 2012 Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award. I understand that only retailers whose business has been established for at least two years are eligible for nomination and that any nominees found not to adhere to standard ethical business practices will be disqualified. PLEASE PRINT OR TYPE

Retailer’s Name_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Store Name____________________________________________________________________Store Phone #_________________________________________ Complete Store Address_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ PROVIDE BRIEF STATEMENTS HOW YOUR NOMINEE EXCELS IN EACH OF THE FOLLOWING CATEGORIES. USE ADDITIONAL SHEETS IF NECESSARY.

Support of a wide variety of innovative material __________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Knowledge__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Community activity___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Quality of store image________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Additional comments__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Mail to: Spirit of Comics Retailer Award, c/o Comic-Con International, P. O. Box 128458, San Diego, CA 92112 or fax to: 619-414-1022 WWW.COMIC-CON.ORG 71



1 APE (the Alternative Press Expo) once again took over San Francisco’s Concourse Exhibition Center to the delight of comics fans from all over the Bay Area, on Oct. 1 and 2, 2011. Over 5,600 people attended the annual celebration of comics, which included special guests Kate Beaton, Daniel Clowes, Craig Thompson, Matthew Thurber, Adrian Tomine, and Shannon Wheeler. Photos: 1: A look at the APE Exhibit Hall from the mezzanine level. The hall was larger than ever before, with over 400 exhibitors. 2: Special guests Kate Beaton and Craig Thompson on the “Drawing Inspiration” panel. For a partial transcript, see page 76. 3: The packed house for the Daniel Clowes–Adrian Tomine panel, moderated by Dan Nadel, just one of many panels filled to capacity.













4: Cartoonist Keith Knight talks to creators Dan Cooney and Andy Ristaino on the “Indy Cartoonist Survival Guide” panel, in its third year as a popular program at APE. 5: Special guest Kate Beaton signing at the Drawn & Quarterly tables. 6: Paige Braddock celebrated the 10th anniversary of her comic Jane’s World with a panel at APE. 7: The mezzanine level of the Concourse was the spot for hands-on workshops all weekend long, such as this one featuring cartoonist/journalist Shaenon Garrity. 8: The Comic Creator Connection, teaming aspiring writers with potential artist collaborators, was packed in both its sessions. 9: Comics legends Daniel Clowes and Adrian Tomine teamed up to talk comics. 10: Cartoonists Jason Shiga and Mari Naomi were two of the artists who took part in the “Comics Coast to Coast” panel on Sunday. Photos by Barry Brown and Victoria Minnich



COVER STORY: Shannon Wheeler


Just how crazy is Shannon Wheeler? We got to find out firsthand when we asked the Eisner Award– winning writer/artist (Best Humor Publication for I Thought You Would Be Funnier) to illustrate the APE 2011 Program Book cover and official promotional poster.





The next step was a more-detailed rough, followed by pencils, inks, and finally colors. The colored version was used for the Program Book cover (at right), the promotional poster, bookmarks (at left), postcards, and local newspaper ads.


Art © Shannon Wheeler; photo by Barry Brown

Shannon sent in numerous roughs, four of which are shown above. Some of them included his trademark coffee motif, from his famous creation Too Much Coffee Man (really . . . how many comic characters have an opera?). We decided to go with number three, but it wasn’t an easy decision. They were all great.

Literary & Artist Guest of Honor: Kaja Foglio

Maker Guest of Honor: Dan Jones (Tinkerbots)



Drawing Inspiration: Creativity in Comics

Left to right: moderator Charles Brownstein talks to Kate Beaton, Craig Thompson, Tom Neely, Shannon Wheeler, and Matthew Thurber about inspiration, work, and comics. One of APE 2011’s panels, “Drawing Inspiration: The Secrets of Comics Creativity,” centered on how artists get their inspiration. Moderated by Charles Brownstein (executive director, CBLDF) and featuring APE special guests Kate Beaton (Hark! A Vagrant!), Craig Thompson (Habibi), Matthew Thurber (1-800 MICE), and Shannon Wheeler (Oil and Water), plus Tom Neely (The Wolf), this in-depth discussion revealed the secrets of what inspires them, along with a whole lot of tangents on other creative issues. Charles Brownstein: One of the things that’s really incredible about a show like APE is that, unlike anything anybody would have imagined 50 years ago when comics were being censored by things like the Comics Code Authority, and 25 years later an organization like the CBLDF had to come about to protect all kinds of free expression in comics, you just would have never imagined a room full of the diversity of artistic expression like we’re seeing here today. These panelists really represent a broad swath of what’s possible in comics, when 25 years ago you were either working on superheroes or elves. What was it about comics that drew you to have the freedom to express yourself in this fashion? Kate Beaton: Why comics? It just seemed very natural. I started with comics because I worked for a school newspaper at a university and I did a humor column and for fun I would do comics as well. I found that I had drawn all the time anyway growing up, and I wanted to do humorous stuff, so putting the two together just seemed natural. I didn’t really think comics was the real ticket for me, it’s just what you end up doing because it happens. Craig Thompson: I grew up in a working-class household, and comics just happened to be the most accessible medium, like the Sunday funnies. My household was also very religious, and they censored all the media in the house, but comics—because they 76 COMIC-CON ANNUAL 2012

were a kids’ medium—were below the censorship radar. I think that’s why my brother and I were able to access the edgiest sort of entertainment in comics and that’s what imprinted on us as an artform. My brother and I started working on a farm for a dollar an hour and that was equivalent to one comic book an hour at the time, and that’s how we thought of labor. For me, labor and comics have always been very interconnected. Tom Neely: I guess I grew up always wanting to do comics. I was given a subscription to the Floyd Gottfredson Mickey Mouse comics that Gladstone was publishing at the time. But other then Mickey Mouse, Archie, Marvel, and DC, I didn’t really have any exposure to anything else. By the time I got to high school I kind of drifted more towards fine art and got into painting, but was always doing comics in my sketchbook. Because I grew up in a small town in Texas, I didn’t have any independent or underground comics to see, and then I moved here to San Francisco and went to the Art Institute. I discovered underground comix and alternative comics, and actually you [Craig Thompson] were one of the first people I found, and Chester Brown and Renée French, and that made me realize that you can do weird stuff in comics, not just superheroes. And I started doing comics again and never looked back. Shannon Wheeler: I grew up reading the newspaper and wanting to draw comics from that. I liked things like Garfield. And then finding a stash of Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers that were left around the house and reading Fat Freddie’s Cat, I thought this is how to do comics. It turned out there were a lot of underground comix around the house, and I was weaned on those—ZAP and these really offensive other titles. For me there’s nothing shocking and there aren’t really limits. I don’t have a lot of filters, but I’m not really rebelling against anything either. I’m just doing the stuff that I genuinely love.

Matthew Thurber: I guess I feel like comics are the most effective and resourceful medium for channeling your dreams or your mental movies. Your fantasies can quickly become actualized with no budget or no resources or not even any drawing skill. So when I got out of art school, comics just seemed like an economical way of producing ambitious long pieces, when I couldn’t get it together to write a film script and get a movie made. It was very do-it-yourself. I could control every aspect of it. Charles: How is it that you find yourselves going about the discipline of creating the work and distilling the inspirations out there? Craig: I like what Matt said about dreams. I think the kernel of creativity is the daydream part, that’s maybe the only real fun part. There’s a fun stage at the beginning where you’re kind of daydreaming, you’re collecting research and at a certain point that research is a form of procrastination. For me it’s kind of a romantic relationship, and if you leave at the first sign of struggle you don’t learn anything about yourself. The point of relationships and the point of art is to conjure all the dark neuroses inside you, take the chaos out and put it in a container. Kate: I think that there is a certain amount of desperation in it. If I only made comics when I wanted to for fun, you wouldn’t see that many [from me]. I like making comics, but it’s also your job and it’s almost like when you did university papers . . . I would always work best under pressure, and that certainly helps. I have a comic where I have a self-imposed deadline of so many times a month or once a week or whatever, and I kind of need that to get it out sometimes. Otherwise I would drift off and just doodle and not finish things, because the fun part is definitely to think of an idea or to think of a joke. That’s such a big question—how does the inspiration end up becoming a comic?—because that’s your whole life if this is Photo by Victoria Minnich

[KATE BEATON: I want a comics panel that’s just people’s parents. My dad thinks Herman is funny. He doesn’t get my jokes.[ your job and it’s different every time. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s hard and the hard times are worth it, because you do it and that’s the main thing, to just keep doing it. There’s no single instance of here’s my process. It’s different every day and every time you start a new page. Matthew: I think that it’s okay to not have a regular working method. I have tried so many different styles of creating regular work, and all of them—it’s like quitting smoking 10,000 times. If you don’t have a regular deadline, maybe you could ask a friend to be your editor or something or just require something from you every week. I feel like somebody needs to take your food away or something if you don’t [produce work]. You need to be punished or else it’s not serious. Shannon: Fear and anger work well for me. I get pissed off at some publisher that turned me down. I thought, “I’ll self-publish and I’ll do it better than they could.” Getting turned down by Fantagraphics when I was starting, man that pissed me off something bad and I just drew comics hard after that. Charles: So now that they’ve published Oil and Water are you done? Shannon: I am, that’s it. I’m going to sleep. Tom: My process feels very slow and labored to me, but I feel like I’m always constantly just accumulating stuff and spilling it out whenever it comes out. It’s not a job to me. I have a day job that pays the bills, and so my comics can be much more personal that way. I don’t have to worry about any audience expectations, so I just kind of go in my cave and see what comes out and then later worry about whether anybody’s going to like it or not. Charles: With your work it seems to me, Tom, that there’s a discovery and a gestation period that goes into it. Tom: Gestation period is a way to look at it, because I often don’t really know what I’m doing until it’s finished, and then I can look at the whole thing and kind of figure out what it was I was trying to say. It sounds cliché, but for me it requires kind of a muse, an inspiration to pull ideas out of me for a finished product, but I don’t always know what it is. It’s just all these visions in my head and later I figure out what they’re about. Charles: Craig, how does that compare with a process like Habibi, where it was seven years of labor? Was that a process of seven years of discovery? Craig: Seven years from conception to publication. With Habibi I spent two years on a rough drawn version of the book before I started on the final art. But similar to Tom, I’m discovering things as I go along. I never know the endings for certain with my projects

as I’m drawing them. I don’t do it in script form. I do a drawn form of the entire book, but it’s very loosely drawn and it’s not precious. I discard hundreds of pages and redraw them to get caught up in this editing process. Charles: Shannon you’ve built a recent industry in harvesting your rejections from The New Yorker, so it seems to me that you really have very little ego about that part of the process. How did confronting that process of external rejection make you a better artist? Shannon: Quantity helps a lot. You get familiar with just putting pen to paper. But every day that I sit down to draw or write or create, I feel like I’m going through the six stages of death, with anger, denial, bargaining, etc. I feel at this point it should just be like Charles Schulz. You sit down and it’s just done because you looked at the paper. I try to be there but I’m not . . . it’s a hard process, but anger, denial, bargaining, and alcohol—drink some booze. It’s stupid, but do other people have those same feelings? Craig: I don’t think I use anger as a motivation. I do have anger in my life, but I don’t know if I use that in my art to be honest, because I think art comes from a more pure place. Shannon, it’s the dark side of the force you’re using. Matthew: Do you meditate? Craig: No, I don’t, but I do think of art as a meditation. It takes so much time that you get into a little zone and you lose a sense of yourself, which is important. I think that’s important for everyone to go into a space where their own sense of boundaries of self or ego kind of evaporate. Art has that effect. I want to destroy, so I guess there’s some anger. I am angry. Matthew: Here it comes. Shannon: He’s moved past denial, now anger. Bargaining, get to bargaining. This is good. Craig: I can’t really look at my work with any kind of appreciation until it’s in print. So maybe that’s a motivator because when it’s on the drawing board I only see the mistakes, but once it’s in print it’s fully birthed and outside of myself, and it has it’s own life so I can finally let it go. Tom: I remember when I was working on my first graphic novel The Blot and [the publisher] wanted me to make all these changes that I didn’t want to do, so that’s when I decided to self-publish it. But during that process of trying to make that decision, I talked to Dylan Williams, and he said don’t let anybody tell you what to do with your art, and I’ve stuck with that. Shannon: I don’t know . . . you look at some of the best writers that have come down the pike, and they’ve gotten good because they’ve dealt with editors.

Tom: For me I don’t think it works that way. I can’t create with somebody looking over my shoulder. Matthew: Once I sent a letter and a tape of some music I made to this band that I liked a lot. I was desperate to know what they would think of it, and they sent me this letter back that said you’re the only judge of what’s good and bad, and I thought that was really important, interesting, good advice. Charles: Shannon, is anger still your motivation when you’re depicting the behaviors of other people? I Thought You Would Be Funnier is all about human foibles and Oil and Water is a tragedy of human incompetence. What goes into how you’re putting the people you observe onto the page, and what’s the attitude that you’re trying to get out there? Shannon: It’s sort of run on this thesis that people are trying to do the best they can and how that is expressed in different ways. When I went to the Gulf and met all these people, I felt like they were cleaning up the beach. But talking to the BP official there on the beach, he’s doing the best he can, and he thought he was doing a good thing. He killed every single bit of life that was on the beach. There were no insects and no birds and no crabs. It’s just like a Philip K. Dick kind of scene, no sound except for water, which you don’t think is weird until you’re going, “What is missing? Oh yeah, life.” But he’s there thinking he’s doing great, and I kind of run with that premise. Charles: Tom, in The Wolf you spoke to some of the universal psychology of moving from being a single person to being a couple, and you address a really scary, self-confrontation that everybody has to go through in becoming that, in that mature state. What elements of your own life and what elements of just human nature in general informed that narrative for you? Tom: I guess the root of most of my work is kind of autobiographical, but it’s buried beneath a lot of scary surrealist stuff. I don’t know . . . it’s hard to figure out. It’s also partially why most of my books are wordless because I don’t really speak too well about what they’re about. Charles: Does it irritate you when other people speak about it? Tom: No, I always like hearing other interpretations, so that’s always interesting. My mother’s interpretations are usually the most humorous. She said The Blot is about global warming. She hasn’t told me what The Wolf is about. She just thinks that I should have painted nicer pictures, pretty things. Kate: I want a comics panel that’s just people’s parents. My dad thinks Herman is funny. He doesn’t get my jokes.






The busy APE Exhibit Hall at the 2011 event.


(the Alternative Press Expo) Returns

to San Francisco Oct. 13 & 14!

The Alternative Press Expo (APE) returns to the Concourse Exhibition Center in San Francisco on October 13 and 14, 2012. Coming off its most successful year ever—with over 5,600 attendees—APE once again offers a giant exhibit hall, provocative programming (including panels, workshops, and the ever-popular Comic Creator Connection) and much, much more. Be a part of San Francisco’s only major comics convention in 2012! APE 2012’s special guests include:

Sergio Aragonés

(cartoonist, Groo, MAD, Sergio Aragonés Funnies) When you think of it, Sergio Aragonés is the perfect guest for APE: his indy cred started with that most iconoclastic of alternative comics, MAD magazine, way back in 1962. This is Sergio’s first appearance at APE, and he’s the first creator ever to pull the hat trick for guesting at all three Comic-Con sponsored shows in one year! (For more info on Sergio, see his WonderCon bio on page 16)

The Hernandez Brothers: Gilbert, Jaime, and Mario (Love and Rockets)

The Love and Rockets 30th anniversary celebration continues with the first-ever appearance of all three Hernandez Bros. at APE! (For more on Gilbert, Jaime, and Mario, see their Comic-Con bios on page 54 and the feature article on page 38).

Erik Drooker

Eric Drooker is a painter and graphic novelist, born and raised on Manhattan Island. He’s the award-winning author of Flood! A Novel in Pictures, and Blood Song: A Silent Ballad. He designed the animation for the recent film Howl, a movie based on the epic poem by Allen Ginsberg, who collaborated with Drooker on the book Illuminated Poems, and the new Howl: A Graphic Novel. His paintings appear often on covers of The New Yorker, and hang in numerous collections. For more info, visit

Ben Katchor

(writer/artist, Julius Knipl, The Cardboard Valise) Ben Katchor’s picture-stories and drawings have appeared in Metropolis Magazine, The New Yorker, and other newspapers and magazines. His books include Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer, The Beauty Supply District, The Jew of New York, and The Cardboard Valise (all Pantheon Books). He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship and a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship. He has collaborated with musician Mark Mulcahy on four music-theater productions, most recently Up from the Stacks. He is an associate professor at Parsons, The New School in New York City. For more information visit

Jim Woodring (writer/artist, Jim, Weathercraft)

Jim Woodring was born in Los Angeles in 1952 and enjoyed a childhood full of poetry and perturbation among the snakes and tarantulas of the San Gabriel mountains. A self-taught artist, his works include autobiographical comics, wordless cartoon stories, anecdotal charcoal drawings, and the sculptures, vinyl figures, fabrics, and gallery installations that have been made from his designs. His multimedia collaborations with the musician Bill Frisell won them a United States Artists Fellowship in 2006. His 2010 book Weathercraft won The Stranger’s 2010 Genius Award for literature was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. His most recent graphic novel is Congress of the Animals. He lives in Seattle with his family and residual phenomena and on

Complete APE info: as we get closer to the event! 78 COMIC-CON ANNUAL 2012

APE Exhibit Hall photo by Gary Sassaman





Comic-Con International 2011 was the scene as Steampunk enthusiasts gathered on the Convention Center’s back stairs facing the Embarcadero for the Third Annual Starburner Galactic Courier Service Awards Ceremony. While not an official Comic-Con event, the gathering also presented the Annual Starburner Awards, given to honor individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the Steampunk community.


Photos by Sergio Palacios

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THURSDAY S 8/ 7c TM & Š 2012 Warner Bros. Ent. Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Comic-Con Annual 2012  

The 2012 edition of COMIC-CON ANNUAL is here! This all-new publication is a veritable 80-page giant, and features an exclusive new cover pho...

Comic-Con Annual 2012  

The 2012 edition of COMIC-CON ANNUAL is here! This all-new publication is a veritable 80-page giant, and features an exclusive new cover pho...