Category Archives: Comic-Con

Comic-Con 2015 Movie Review: ‘Vintage Tomorrows’

Historian James Carrott poses with Cherie Priest. Photo by Ben Z. Mund

Historian James Carrott poses with Cherie Priest. Photo by Ben Z. Mund

“Vintage Tomorrows” has got to be the best title you could give a documentary on the steampunk movement and it lives up to it. This is a much-needed comprehensive look, both informative and quite a lot of fun. The documentary made its world premiere at the Comic-Con Int’l Independent Film Festival this last weekend.

Produced and directed by Byrd McDonald, this documentary is based on the book, “Vintage Tomorrows,” by James Carrott and Brian David Johnson. They’re in the doc and so are many other notable figures. Interviews and appearances include authors William Gibson and Bruce Sterling (The Difference Engine), Cherie Priest (Boneshaker), China Miéville (Perdido Street Station), Cory Doctorow (Makers), Gail Carriger (The Parasol Protectorate series), Paul Guinan and Anina Bennett (Boilerplate: History’s Mechanical Marvel), Ann and Jeff VanderMeer (Steampunk, The Steampunk Bible), Nisi Shawl (Everfair) and Phil and Kaja Foglio (Girl Genius), and founder of Steampunk Magazine Margaret ‘Magpie’ Killjoy.

What’s all the fuss about, you ask? The story of steampunk, followers will tell you, is for everyone. To give a sense of the many voices and answers to the question, “What is steampunk?” we begin with a whirlwind of responses from many of the participants. Initial segments are sliced together with one person seeming to complete another’s sentence. “Steampunk is…” leads to answers such as “based upon science fiction of the 19th century” and on down to line to rallying cries such as, “you show up in a top hat and spats and you’re there to cause a riot!”

For an ostensibly literary movement, you would expect a rather low-key and subtle vibe running throughout. And, darn it, that is basically what you have and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, what people who are involved with steampunk would have you know is that there’s a strong sense of wonder, adventure, and excitement attached as well. And things are evolving. What may have begun as a quirky meeting of minds, circa 2005, has found formidable and creative leaders in the last ten years.

Steampunk today takes itself more seriously. The irreverence has been tempered a bit with a higher level of self-scrutiny. For instance, as the documentary explains, in order to be more inclusive, steampunk needed to confront the Victorian era’s colonialism and elitism. While history is what it is, attempts are made to address the past. For instance, you hear one participant say she no longer wears a pith helmet, an obvious symbol to her of colonialism.

Attempts to bring the Victorian era into the 21st century are likely to always be weird but that is part of steampunk. Enthusiasts will tell you that a big method to the madness is an attempt to get back to something tactile and real. While a steampunk follower may own an iPhone or iPad, that doesn’t mean he or she doesn’t do it grudgingly. A recurring battle cry is that we’ve lost something vital with today’s technology. There is no steampunk smart phone or laptop. However, we have each other. We have community. Steampunk encourages you to not be afraid to look backward as you find your way forward.

Be sure to visit the official Vintage Tomorrows website right here.

7 Comments

Filed under Comic-Con, Documentaries, pop culture, Steampunk

Comic-Con 2015: THE PEANUTS MOVIE release date: November 6, 2015 (USA)

The-Peanuts-Movie-6-November-2015

The ultimate Peanuts movie is on its way!

If you’re at Comic-Con, then you’ll want to make your way to Petco Park, at 100 Park Blvd, for a very special look inside Snoopy’s dog house. Explore within the walls of a giant inflatable Snoopy doghouse. The kids will love snuggling with beagles, snapping selfies with Snoopy, exclusive giveaways and lots more. July 9-July 12, from 9:00AM-6:00PM /PST.

From the imagination of Charles M. Schulz and the creators of the ICE AGE films, THE PEANUTS MOVIE will prove that every underdog has his day.

If you enjoyed the recent animated feature, “Mr. Peabody & Sherman,” (my review here) then you’re also going to want to see “The Peanuts Movie.” Presented by Blue Sky Studios and 20th Century Fox, this is sure to please those of us who have loyally followed the Peanuts gang over the years all the way down to the newest of viewers.

The synopsis: Flying ace Snoopy (Bill Melendez) takes to the skies to chase his nemesis, the Red Baron, while best friend Charlie Brown (Noah Schnapp) embarks on his own epic quest.

The release date for The Peanuts Movie is November 6, 2015 (USA). Be sure to visit the official website right here. For even more about Peanuts, you’ll also want to visit the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center in Santa Rosa, California. To be sure, they are celebrating this latest Peanuts venture. Find them here.

4 Comments

Filed under animation, Charles M. Schulz, Charlie Brown, Comic-Con, Comic-Con 2015, Comic-Con International, Comics, movies, pop culture

Gifts 2014: NERD BLOCK

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Here at Comic Grinder HQ, we’re constantly looking for cool stuff to share with you. I had just made a fresh batch of hot cocoa and was gearing up for the day when Roy burst into the office with the latest mail bag, which happened to be bursting too, at the seams, no less. “You better step it up, we have a motherload of packages and parcels. Best you get to reviewing straightaway!” And so I did. I picked up the first box and, lo and behold, it was from Nerd Block. I have heard many good things about them and I went right into taking stock of the box’s contents in the video below:

Nerd Block makes a great gift for anyone. If you enjoy pop culture, then Nerd Block has got something for you. Nerd Block is a monthly mystery package delivered right to your door filled with nerdy apparel, toys, and collectables! Every Nerd Block comes with a custom t-shirt (in your size) and 4-6 epic items. There are different themes to choose from. You can stop your subscription at any time. Packages range in price from $13.99 to $19.99. Visit our friends at Nerd Block right here.

1 Comment

Filed under Comic-Con, Comics, DC Comics, Gifts, Gifts 2014, Marvel Comics, Nerd Block, pop culture, Star Wars

Whitney Matheson Completes a 15-Year Run with USA Today

Whitney-Matheson-Pop-Candy-Meetup-2011

A routine that was so essential to so many of us out there has come to an end. Whitney Matheson completes a 15-year run of Pop Candy, the pop culture blog at USA Today.

We will all miss Whitney Matheson at Pop Candy at USA Today but, of course, when one door closes, another door opens. September 3 was her last day as she was laid off from her post that she had held for 15 years. Of course, fans have been caught by surprise and are showing their support at Whitney’s Twitter.

Here is one from the archives: A CNN iReport put together by Jennifer Daydreamer and yours truly, this is an impromptu interview with James Sime, owner of Isotope, The Comic Book Lounge, that segued into an impromptu interview with Whitney Matheson. The discussion here involves the state of comics, which is always evolving, and how they coexist with Hollywood. This is from 2010, the year that “Scott Pilgrim” and “The Walking Dead” were big winners at the Eisner Awards at Comic-Con International in San Diego.

Whitney hosted some awesome Pop Candy meetups through the years. Well, perhaps there will be something similar in the future.

Good luck to you, Whitney! We look forward to future observations and excellent writing! You are one of the best!

1 Comment

Filed under Comic-Con, Comic-Con 2010, Comics, Entertainment, Hollywood, Isotope Comics, James Sime, Jennifer Daydreamer, Journalism, Media, movies, Newspapers, Pop Candy, pop culture, Television, Whitney Matheson

Interview: David Ury and ‘Everybody Dies: A Children’s Book For Grown-Ups’

David Ury and "Everybody Dies: A Children’s Book For Grown-Ups"

David Ury and “Everybody Dies: A Children’s Book For Grown-Ups”

Daivd Ury is really onto something. Who is David Ury? you may ask. Most likely, you’ve seen him around, getting throttled, axed, murdered, or most notably, having an ATM fall on him in AMC’s critically-acclaimed “Breaking Bad.” Yes, he’s one of those character actors that you like but might not know unless you’re looking in the right places. Ury has definitely been working hard. You can catch his hilarious collaboration with his alter-ego, Kevin Tanaka, right here:

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Books, Children's Books, Comic-Con, Comic-Con 2014, Death, Illustration, Interviews

Comic-Con 2014 Interview: Charles Yu

Charles Yu is the author of the novel “How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe” and the short story collections “Third Class Superhero” and “Sorry Please Thank You.” In 2007, Yu won the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 Award. When discussing Yu’s work, Italo Calvino comes up as does Douglas Adams and Kurt Vonnegut. What strikes me is Yu’s flair for a natural and casual humor mixed in with philosophical musings and various games with language and narrative. You can read my review of “How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe” right here.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Charles Yu, Comic-Con, Comic-Con 2014, Fiction, Interviews, Sci-Fi, science fiction, Time Travel

Comic-Con 2014 Interview: Gene Yang and THE SHADOW HERO

It is an honor and a privilege to interview Gene Yang, known for “American Born Chinese” and “Boxers & Saints.” And now he and Sonny Liew offer you “The Shadow Hero.” With all the unpacking, literally and figuratively since Comic-Con, I finally share with you this interview. You really can’t say enough about Gene Yang. He has opened up a great path for others to dare to follow. Yeah, he’s that big of a deal.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under China, Comic-Con, Comic-Con 2014, Comics, Gene Yang, graphic novels, Interviews, Sonny Liew

Comic-Con 2014 Interview: Michael Cho and SHOPLIFTER

Michael Cho laughed with recognition when I compared his character, Corinna Park, with Truman Capote’s Holly Golightly. Granted, it is by no means an exact match but the two are kindred spirits in many ways. There is something very appealing and relatable about Corinna Park. In Cho’s debut graphic novel, “Shoplifter,” we observe a young woman’s struggle to find her place in the world. We appreciate that struggle as well as the increasingly disconnected world we live in. You can read my review here.

Random-House-Michael-Cho

Cho is an illustrator, cartoonist, and writer whose previously published work includes “Back Alleys and Urban Landscapes,” a collection of sketches depicting Toronto’s cityscape. Born in South Korea, he has lived in Canada since he was six.

Seth, author of “Palookaville,” has said, “Michael Cho’s ‘Shoplifter,’ his first graphic novel, is a joy to behold–so beautiful it will make all other cartoonists weep with envy.”

In this interview, Cho speaks to the impatience of youth and life in the big city for young people. This is part of an unfolding story. Cho is looking forward to pursuing this narrative further with other characters. “Shoplifter” is the first of five graphic novels with intertwined themes.

“Shoplifter” has two-color illustrations throughout and is available as of September 2, 2014. It is published by Pantheon, a division of Random House. To pre-order, visit Random House right here.

1 Comment

Filed under Comic-Con, Comic-Con 2014, Comics, Graphic Novel Reviews, graphic novels, Interviews, Michael Cho, Pantheon, Random House

Comic-Con 2014 Interview: Paul Tobin on THE WITCHER and PROMETHEUS: FIRE AND STONE

Paul Tobin is a comic book writer who is known for his work with Marvel Comics, among a full roster of other works. With Dark Horse Comics, Tobin has worked, with his wife, Colleen Coover, on BANDETTE; with Joe Querio on THE WITCHER; and with Juan Ferreyra on COLDER as welll as PROMETHEUS: FIRE AND STONE. For this interview, we focus on the writing in The Witcher and chat a bit about the Aliens Predator Prometheus crossover event.

From THE WITCHER by Paul Tobin and Joe Querio

From THE WITCHER by Paul Tobin and Joe Querio

Based on the popular book series of the same name by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski, The Witcher is an action role-playing video game developed by CD Projekt RED and published by Atari, Inc. Selling millions of copies, the short stories by Sapkowski feature a fantasy world inspired by Polish folklore with supernatural themes. The next game release is The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, set for February 24, 2015, and it will make the perfect companion to the trade paperback release of The Witcher graphic novel.

Look for the trade paperback of The Witcher Volume 1 to come out on September 24, 2014. For more details, visit our friends at Dark Horse Comics right here.

As Tobin explains, he breaks everything down by panel while making sure not to crowd the artist. Panel by panel breakdown is essential in many ways, not to mention continuity. We take a close look at some panels that set up an important plot point: the introduction of the character, Marta, hovering in the distance, who Jakob is inextricably linked to.

From PROMETHEUS: FIRE AND STONE by Paul Tobin and Juan Ferreyra

From PROMETHEUS: FIRE AND STONE by Paul Tobin and Juan Ferreyra

And we talk about Tobin’s Prometheus: Fire and Stone. It was Editor-in-Chief Scott Allie’s brilliant idea to bring together all the writers on the crossover event. While each writer had a separate stand-alone book to work on, getting together allowed them to share ideas and actually make each other’s work better.

Tobin acknowledged that he’s a very private writer but he loved this format with ideas flowing back and forth in a supportive environment. It will make reading all the books that much smoother. This blockbuster crossover event begins with Tobin’s Prometheus: Fire and Stone.

Look for the first issue of Prometheus: Fire and Stone out on September 10, 2014. For more details, visit our friends at Dark Horse Comics right here.

1 Comment

Filed under Comic-Con, Comic-Con 2014, Comics, Dark Horse Comics, Paul Tobin

Comic-Con 2014: Randy Stradley and Dark Horse Comics

Randy Stradley talks here a bit about Dark Horse Comics. He partnered with Mike Richardson to create Dark Horse and has led the way in its development. Stradley shares some thoughts on the first time Dark Horse made an appearance at Comic-Con. It was pretty humble way back then.

Looking forward, Stradley pointed to twelve new creator-owned properties that had just been announced. Among new Dark Horse projects to look forward to is Chuck Palahniuk’s “Fight Club 2,” a big step beyond his 1996 novel, full of supernatural spookiness, set for a 10-issue run debuting May, 2015. Brian Truitt, at USA Today, provides an insightful interview with Palahniuk about this new project right here.

Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg of what you can find at Dark Horse. For more information, visit Dark Horse Comics here. Some of the news you can find, like Dark Horse taking home five Eisner Awards this year, follows:

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Comic-Con, Comic-Con 2014, Comics, Dark Horse Comics, Randy Stradley