Saturday, July 29, 2006

Perez Page

By popular demand (well, actually, a request from Tod Goldberg, but hey, he constitutes about 20% of my blog's readership), here's the original-art page that George Perez is autographing in one of the pictures below. The page itself is around 11 x 17, and thus too big to scan.

This is not the worst page Perez has penciled (he was pretty rough early in his career; he started drawing for comics at age 19), and it certainly isn't the best.

Some historical context: Perez drew this for a FANTASTIC FOUR annual around 1980. He was apparently finishing up various commitments for Marvel Comics before switching to DC comics, where in 1980 his and writer Marv Wolfman's revival of the rather silly 1960's comic TEEN TITANS would catch fire, become a best-seller, and pave the way for the 2001-2006 TEEN TITANS animated series. The page shows Perez's transition; it is drawn on paper DC furnished to its artists.

Doug Moench furnished the incredibly wordy script for the story. Moench was and is a pretty good writer, but he was never appropriate for the FANTASTIC FOUR. His metier was monsters and street vigilantes; he could never master the unique blend of slapstick silliness, gee-whiz sense of wonder, Saturday-morning serial adventure, and melodrama that made FF at its best one of the flagship Marvel comics.

Perez did pretty well with the script; but the relatively stiff posing of the characters on the page (even beyond what's necessary to build the tension for the next page) shows little of Perez's later fluid choreography of literally dozens of characters in comics like CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS, TEEN TITANS, WONDER WOMAN, and his late-90's to early 00's run on THE AVENGERS.

But the page has special meaning to me as one of the first original art pages I bought with my high school allowance back in the early 80's. So I was happy to finally get Perez's signature on it. You'll see Perez's signature in the middle panel on the bottom tier.

The Fantastic Four and related characters are trademarks of Marvel Comics; and the page is copyright 1980 Marvel Comics, or whatever the company is called now.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

San Diego Comic-Con 2006: Friday through Sunday

I didn't take a huge number of photos this year, so I'm combining these three days. Not that a lot didn't happen. I don't know what the attendance will be this year, but on Saturday the Fire Marshal cut off registration at around 1 pm, because the convention center (a several-block-long convention center) was at capacity. I have to think the memebership beat last year's record of 105,000.

Among the most memorable panels not pictured were:

-- A panel on the Seven Laws of Super-Heroes, with comics writer Grant Morrison and New Age philospher/author Deepak Chopra.

-- Another on the new films under development from Marvel Studios, featuring Jon Favreau (director of the new IRON MAN movie), the writer of SHAWN OF THE DEAD (who is writing a treatment for the ANT MAN movie, which may actually be better than it sounds), and the French director of TRANSPORTER (who is directing the sequel to THE HULK -- which will be more action oriented than Ang Lee's flop, and which, contrary to rumors, will not be direct to video). Also in the works are Nick Fury, Captain America, and Thor movies.

-- A jam-packed panel on Friday morning celebrating Spider-Man, with creator Stan Lee, '60's and '70's artist John Romita Sr., later artist John Romita Jr., current writer J. Michael Straczynski (sorry, I'm not checking the spelling), and movie producer Kevin Feige. Although he's in his 80's, Stan is still Stan.

-- A well-attended panel on VERONICA MARS, this year including the petite blond star, Kristen Bell.

Despite the crowds, the only cool event I tried to get into but couldn't was Saturday Evening's Sony Pictures panel, which reportedly featured Nicolas Cage and Eva Mendes (starring in the upcoming GHOST RIDER movie); and the director and several stars of SPIDER-MAN 3, including Tobey Maguire.

We're going back next year.

One of the coolest panels was the Warner Brothers presentation in the massive Hall H on Friday morning. Here we see Bryan Singer (right), director of this year's SUPERMAN RETURNS, with Richard Donner (left), director of 1978's SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE. Warner Brothers is putting out a set of the Christopher Reeve movies on DVD. Included will be a cut of SUPERMAN II that consists of the parts that Donner directed. (Warner parted ways with Donner midway into the movie, and hired Richard Lester to complete the movie.) the cut will include about 80% of the scenes Donner shot (the rest have been lost over the years). Donner screened one of the never-before-shown scenes, with Lois Lane at the Daily Planet figuring out that Clark Kent is Superman and testing her theory by jumping out of a skyscraper window. Watching a scene I've never viewed before with Reeve, Margot Kidder, and Jackie Cooper, complete with the music and cinematography of the first movie, was like one of those dreams where you discovery a room in your house you've never seen before. Posted by Picasa

George Perez wrote and drew the Wonder Woman comic from the mid-Eighties to the early Nineties. Here, he poses with a fan dressed as the Amazing Amazon. Posted by Picasa

On Sunday, the Art of the Cover panel featured some of the finest comics cover artists alive, including (pictured here) George Perez, Neal Adams, and Adam Hughes. Not seen are Basil Gogos (artist for FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND, hidden by the lectern), Brian Bolland, and Joe Jusko. Mark Evanier moderates. (He moderated 12 panels at this convention!) Posted by Picasa

Superman: The Movie director Richard Donner. Posted by Picasa

He's comin' at you, so you better look alive/ He's busy revvin' up the powerful Mach 5! A life-size (and possibly functional) Mach 5 from a company promoting an awful Flash-animated version of SPEED RACER. Posted by Picasa

With the new live-action Transformer's movie coming from Jerry Bruckheimer and Michael Bay, a video company promotes the mid-eighties animated TRANSFORMER'S movie, with this nearly-life-size Optimus Prime. Posted by Picasa

On the dealer's room floor: Fans dressed as various DC Comics characters. Posted by Picasa

From Friday's panel celebrating over sixty years of Superman on film and TV, here are the Jimmy Olsens from Superman Returns (far left) and the 1978 Superman film (middle), as well as Phantom Zone villain Non from Superman II (right). Posted by Picasa

I was lucky enough to get into Saturday's panel for the TV series "Lost." I arrived at Room 20 at 9:55, and managed to get a seat fairly close to the front of the 4,500 person room. A few minutes later, the room was filled. The folks on the right are the producers of the show; on the far left are actors Daniel Dae Kim ("Jin"; he was also on BABYLON 5: CRUSADE and ANGEL); and Jorge Garcia ("Hurley"), who's just as big in person as he is on screen. Posted by Picasa

Thursday at Comic-Con

Yes, I'm late in posting the photos. Here's the pictures from the first exciting day of Comic-Con, on July 20, 2006.

The first panel we attended on Thursday was the official first release of the US Postal Service's set of stamps celebrating DC Superheroes. The panel's audience was stuffed with stamp collectors, there to pick up the special first-issue covers, buy the stamps in the lobby below, and leave. Here's a shot of the blown-up stamps, hidden by a curtain. Posted by Picasa

The stamps are unveiled. Posted by Picasa

A nice shot of the unveiled stamps, with DC publisher Paul Levitz posing in front. To the left is the chief U.S. Post Office judicial officer. Posted by Picasa

A panel of artists whose work was captured on the stamps, including George Perez, Sheldon Muldoff, Mike Royer, and others. DC publisher Paul Levitz moderates. Posted by Picasa

George Perez has been one of my favorite comic book artists for nearly 30 years. Twenty-five years ago, I bought a page of original art from the Fantastic Four annual George drew in 1980. I bought it from the book's writer, Doug Moench, for a whole $8.00. Although I've seen George at many cons since, I'd never thought of having the page signed -- until this convention. Here, George (right) and writer Kurt Busiek stare in amazement at the page. Posted by Picasa

I chat with Kurt Busiek (left) and George Perez (right) at the DC booth, as George signs my page. Posted by Picasa

Kansas City Barbeque -- across the street from the Hyatt. Site of a dinner with extremely slow service. The Comic-con's in town. Posted by Picasa

Friday, July 21, 2006

Cracking the Case -- and the Bestseller's List

Many congrats to cousin Lee Goldberg, whose latest MONK tie-in novel was #8 on the Barnes & Noble nationwide best-seller's list for the week of July 9-15. And the book is a good read, too -- although it may cause you to immediately log onto Expedia and book a flight to Kaui. (Or at least order macadamia-nut pancakes for breakfast.)

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Comic-Con International: San Diego --- Preview Night

On Wednesday, Amy and I piled into the car for our annual trek to San Diego. The traffic gods were good to us, and we were able to reach town, stock up on groceries, check into our room (with a great view of the Harbor!), get our registration, and enjoy a couple of hours of the preview night of the convention. That's the night that pre-registered folks are allowed into the dealer's room before the con is opened to the public. Reportedly, 10,000 to 15,000 attendees took advantage of the preview night. Photos are below.

Just a corner of the humongous DC Comics booth in the dealers' room. Posted by Picasa

The knockout view from our hotel room. The convention center can be seen on the left, past the Marriott. Posted by Picasa

Me, with a wraparound mural promoting the American translation of TSUBASA CHRONICLES, adapted from a CLAMP manga. Posted by Picasa

Amy and Robby. Posted by Picasa

One of the spectacles on the convention floor: A lifesize Batman made entirely of Legos. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

A Tough Break for a Successful Joe

The L.A.Times today devoted an unusual front-page obituary to Timely Comics (later Marvel Comics) writer turned bestselling hardboiled PI writer Mickey Spillane.

Sunday, July 16, 2006


My visit to Westwood village yesterday wasn't complete without a trip to Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash, Kevin Smith's comic book emporium. The place always has costumes and props from Smith's films under glass, along with merchandising from the flicks. But there seemed to be more tchotchkes from Smith than usual, along with footage of Mr. Smith from one of his "concert" films playing on the store monitor. (He was telling an uproarious and quite obscene anecdote about the first time he made out with the woman who became his wife).

The net effect reminded me of the newsreel narrator's description of Xanadu from Citizen Kane : "The costliest monument a man has built -- to himself."

Mystery Monk Photos

As promised, here are photos from Lee's booksigning yesterday at The Mystery Bookstore. I left my nice camera at home, so these are taken with my cell phone camera.