Monday, August 25, 2008

A Great New Blogger

I may not be objective about this, but my oldest son has decided to start a comic review blog. He's freely criticized a lot of what I read in private so as a joke I suggested that he do his own reviews about comics he likes. He loved the idea. After setting up a blogger account for him, he let loose into the most recent comics I bought, we read them together and he started reciting his reviews to me while I type them. Now he goes to the comic store each week and picks out his own comics in addition to what I buy that he may be interested in reading.

The response has been overwhelming so far. He's been doing this for a couple of weeks now and several other comic sites have linked to his blog or started conversations about what he's been doing. Each time there is a new comment on his blog or another email sent to him he is overjoyed. Some of the creators whose work he's reviewed have contacted him as well, which was an even bigger thrill. The whole project has amplified his love of reading and his ability to analyze what he's reading. He even decided to review a movie, too.

So if you or someone you know would like to read what a 7 year old thinks about today's comics or you want to remember what it was like to enjoy a comic for what it was in its most basic form, check out his blog, leave a comment and spread the word.

Life of Reilly Update

I've been getting more emails lately asking about the status of the book so I figured it was update time.

During the summer, I had to stop working on all of the fun stuff like fact gathering and interviews because between creators enjoying their summer vacations and participating in comic cons it was difficult to get the interviews done. I was able to make a lot of headway into the restructuring of the book (the not so fun stuff).

The most difficult part of the book was always going to be making it read like on sequential story instead of the journal updates as they were originally reposted. I also have to insert a lot of the new comments from creators into various chapters of the book where they apply. I didn't want the book to just be a collected version of the old columns in the beginning and then a series of new interviews at the end. I want it to read like there were 20 of us sitting in a room for a couple days talking about the Clone Saga. I think it will read much better that way.

To do all of that means I have to go back and rip the old stuff apart. I have to make sure that Glenn and I aren't repeating ourselves a dozen times. I have to go back and chop a lot of my descriptions of the story that came off more like a review and less like a synopsis. And Glenn is going back and touching up some of his old comments. Looking back on the columns after all these years let us see thing from a new perspective. I realized that I was very wordy and opinionated. Glenn felt he was a little harsher on some things than he needed to be. He wants to be the inside voice in the story, guiding the reader through the ins and outs of the story from the perspective of someone who was involved at the time. He doesn't want to come off as too opinionate on some of the creators and their methods, though and is trying to make it as factual as the accounts of one person can be.

All of that 'boring' stuff is what I've been working on through the summer. That was always going to be the hardest part of the book and I'm almost done with it so that's a relief.

By the end of September I want to have all of the new commentary and interviews completed. Howard and Terry are the only ones that I still need to do a lot of work on. The rest of the creators commentary/interviews are in various stages of completion and most of them are already done.

Sometime in late October or early November I want the book to be arranged in the way I'd like it to see press and it will be ready for Glenn to go over and add more info and the rest of the contributors will have a chance to have a look and correct any mistakes or offer last minute thoughts on the subject. It'll also get a pass by Danny Fingeroth who has been very helpful to the whole project.

By December the book should be in the hands of an editor. I'm fortunate that I know some professional editors who like the idea and will take a look at it as a personal favor.

This should put the completion of the book at the end of '08 or sometime in January of '09, which is only about a month off of what I was hoping for. I've been scouting some printers and some publishers so I could have things ready to go to print and have copies ready for the start of con season (New York in February, I believe).

There are two things which may delay the book. The first is if it gets picked up by a major publisher. Due to the fact that publishers work well in advance with the projects they have, there most definately wouldn't be any room for this book on next year's schedule. That's one of the deal makers or breakers that I'll have when it comes down to what to do with the publishing of the book. As much as I'd like the help and support of a big publisher to carry it, I also don't want the interference or delay to do so. If I can find the right mix, then I'm all for it but most likely this thing is going to be self published. Number crunching on that will be done around October when everyone else gets a look at the book.

The other possible delay could happen if freelancing goes well. I was fortunate this summer to be able to work on two very cool projects: The Star Wars Encyclopedia for Random House and the DC Superhero Collection Magazine for Eaglemoss. It took up some time, but I was still able to work on Life of Reilly. I'm looking forward to some more projects from Eaglemoss and I'm trying to get myself considered for a very, very big project from the editors I worked with on the Encyclopedia. It'd be a lot more involved than what I did for the Encyclopedia and it would have to take priority. Depending on how much work is involved, I would maybe have to push back my work on the Reilly book. Possibly, but not likely. I've been pretty good about balancing my schedule and can probably do it again, but it's still a possibility. And if that does happen, it wouldn't only push Reilly back about 6 weeks so it wouldn't be a huge disaster.

So that's the plan. That's what I've been doing and what I hope will be happening over the next 5 months. This book has taken up several years of my life with the initial columns, the planning stages and actual work of the book but the end is near and I am very optimistic about the final product.

More soon!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

A New Ben Reilly Story

Just a short update to let everyone know that for the first time in over 10 years (since the Clone Saga ended) Ben Reilly is going to be featured in a new story.

It's a flashback, so it's not exactly like they're bringing him back...yet, but the very idea that he'll be featured in a new comic and one with the exposure that a Spider-Man/X-Men story will have, is a good sign.

Ben Reilly will be in the 3rd issue of the series so if you want to send a message to Marvel that you want more Reilly then I would suggest going to your local comic shop and pre-ordering the 3rd issue. Maybe even get two.

Typically, sales go down on the second, third and subsequent issues of a miniseries so if there is a healthy bump for part 3 it'll be obvious that Ben Reilly's appearance is the reason why.

Also, the mini is written by the incredibly talented Christos Gage so I'm sure the character will be in great hands.

The full article can be found here:

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Clone Wars

It officially began for me with the midnight madness sale at Toys R Us last Friday. At 12:01am, the new Star Wars toys featuring characters and vehicles from the new Clone Wars movie and television series went on sale and I was there in line with the entire family.

Not all of the stores were having the sale so we had to drive about 30 miles to our closest participating store. Any thoughts of how crazy 'I' was to do this were put to rest when we pulled into the parking lot and saw at least 150 people of all ages waiting patiently for the doors to open. Amidst the fans and the collectors were a couple dozen representative of the 501st who helped with things like crowd control and making sure that the smaller children could reach the items that were placed too high for them.

Being near the last in line of that many people meant that the pickings were slim for us, but my oldest boy (and the biggest fan) was able to scoop up a few of the new clone troopers, which are his favorite ones anyway. At least the store was smart enough to realize that there would probably be a lot of hording and limited the amount of items that one could purchase to 12. That made it a little more balanced unless some scoundrels came in packs to take advantage of the system. The only figure that was on the want list that we didn't get was the new Yoda, but I had a backup plan in mind.

There was a Walmart near our home that wasn't advertising the toys going on sale but it was open 24 hours. So with the kids asleep in the car and my wife with them, I went into Walmart and checked out the toy aisle to find 3 skids of toys all still in their cases. After asking a manager to open them for me I found, not only Yoda, but a few other clone troopers and commanders to surprise the kids with when they awoke the next day.

The older boy especially has been playing with the toys nonstop and earlier this week a 4 minute clip of the movie was released on the net. Look here:


I've been fortunate enough to see and read a lot of the behind the scenes stuff in regards to the Clone Wars due to working on the new Star Wars Encyclopedia. Buy here:

Excited as I was with what I had seen already, watching a full scene like that pulled it all together and got me even more hyped than I had already been. It's an amazing clip and if the rest of the film and series match that quality then Star Wars fans are going to be quite happy.

I'm not sure how aware the general public is about another Star Wars film coming out, or that it will be leading into a television series this Fall but I have a feeling a lot of people are going to be caught off guard by how great this thing is.

I know my family can't wait until August 15th.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Swimming in the DC Pool

Thankfully, the freelance assignments seem to keep coming.

While I'm still knee deep in working on the Star Wars Encyclopedia for Random House/Del Rey and The Life of Reilly, I've just taken on a very cool assignment with DC Comics and their licensing/marketing department.

Even more than the Reilly or Star Wars projects, the work with DC will allow me to stretch my writing muscles even more since it's exclusively writing. It will also give me the opportunity to familiarize myself even more with the various characters and worlds of the DC Universe. The first character that I'm going to be writing about is one of my favorite villains in comics, so that was a pleasant surprise. When it comes down to it, I get to participate in the comic company that's home to Batman and Superman so how can I not be excited about that?

The Star Wars Encyclopedia is almost finished (at least my involvement in it). It really is just a massive collection (3 book set at over 1200 pages on sale 11/18/08) that will contain more information than any Star Wars fan could possibly hope for.

As comic con season winds down after this week's San Diego con, the creative types will be free once again to partake in interviews and I'll be able to offer more information on how The Life of Reilly is doing. I've been able to do a lot of grunt work behind the scenes as I wait for the interviews to start up again so I think I'm still on track with my original publishing estimates.

I am just thrilled to be able to say that I've now done freelance for the two biggest comic companies with Marvel and DC and the biggest publishing company with Random House. I've waited years to have opportunities like this. Now I just have to make sure I don't blow it.

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Life of....Skywalker!?!

I mentioned a freelance project that I was juggling in between working on The Life of Reilly book and now I can finally reveal what that project is.

The Star Wars Encyclopedia

Yep, the Star Wars Encyclopedia. Like the first edition of the SWE, this one is also being written by the great Steve Sansweet but will feature a hell of a lot more content...about 1000 pages worth covering everything from the Old Republic to Star Wars: Legacy. There will be detailed entries for all of your favorites from the films, along with characters from the Marvel comics series through the Dark Horse comics and up to and including the new animated Clone Wars movie and television series.

This is going to be the most complete source for information on Star Wars that exists and I am honored to be a part of it. My role in this project has been to assist the production department with the art for this massive set. In a nutshell, I'm looking through the archives to select the pretty pictures that will be going along with the entries.

I thought that detailing the behind the scenes events of the Spider-Man Clone Saga was tough, but it's a cakewalk compared to searching through tens of thousands of images to select the best ones for the thousands of entries that will be contained in this definitive set. I am in awe of the work being put into this book from Steve and the other writers to the editors and production department, all of whom are determined to give Star Wars fans something that is absolutely spectacular. After having seen some of the finished pages, I was completely blown away with how amazing this looks already, and there are still several months to go to fine tune things even more.

This is a book for anyone who has ever been touched by the magic of Star Wars. For fans who remember as far back as Jaxxon and those who have just discovered Darth Caedus along with those who only care about the six films. This book will cover everything from the A-1 Deluxe Floater (catch it if you can in Mos Eisley during Episode IV) to Zzzanmxl of the Zanibar mercinaries.

The book should be hitting stores on Black Friday just in time for you to pick one up as a Christmas gift for yourself or any geek you care about. I'll have more information on the project as I learn it.

Oh, and things are still looking good for The Life of Reilly, too. I just finished up the new Tom DeFalco segments and Tom Lyle and I have started to get things ready for the big segment with him.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Hype of Reilly 10.5

It's been awhile, but I wanted to offer a brief update just so no one forgets about this little project of mine.

There may have been a lack of updates, but that's not because things haven't been happening. Just the opposite. I'm currently working on a dream freelance gig that has kept me pretty busy. It's a great opportunity that's very challenging and a heck of a lot of fun. Unfortunately, I can't talk about any of the details at this time, but it is something that I'm very proud to be a part of and I can't wait to start promoting it near the end of this year. I'm also trying to finalize another very cool freelancing job that I hope will get settled within the next couple of weeks. It's another project that's pretty different from what I've done in the past so I am pretty excited to make it happen. Hopefully I'll have more to say about that one soon.

None of these projects have taken away my concentration from The Life of Reilly, though. I've been working non stop on making changes to the original columns and getting things just right for how I want the book to read. Now that this part of the process is almost finished, it'll make adding the new interviews and commentary that much easier when I get it.

No news on any new additions to the cast. I'm in the stages of finishing up the segments with Eric Fein and Tom DeFalco and in the next few weeks I will probably do the long anticipated Bob Harras, Howard Mackie and Terry Kavanagh interviews. The interviews themselves tend to be the easiest part of writing the book since things tend to work themselves out, which is why I've been working on the old material and creating bridges for the new stuff. I'm not sure if there's anyone else on the wish list of creators that's left for me to talk to, although I would love to try and reach John Romita Jr. He's the definitive Spider-Man artist, for me, and I think his work on the Clone Saga finale was especially good.

After talking it over with a few fans, I have also decided to include a checklist somewhere in the book which will include every issue relating to the Spider-Man Clone Saga, which will include appearances by Ben Reilly and Kaine in books other than the main titles and assorted minis, etc. I just think it will be a great tool for people who want to track down these issues for themselves.

I am also going to be doing some sort of section where readers and retailers discuss their memories of the story. I'm not looking to have anyone review the series or particular moments, just offer their recollections on what they were thinking at the time the stories were coming out. That sort of thing. So if you worked in a comic shop or were reading the Spider-Man books during the Clone Saga and want to send in some of your memories and maybe get into the book you can email them at with the subject: Clone Saga memories.

That's pretty much it, right now. Back to Life of Reilly and the mystery project(s).

Monday, April 21, 2008

NYCC 08 Sketches

Anakin Skywalker by Tommy Lee Edwards

Obi Wan Kenobi by Tommy Lee Edwards

Scarlet Spider by Shawn Alleyne

Jeff Hardy by Chris Vince

The Undertaker by Chris Vince

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Hype of Reilly: Part X

I have a shorter update this week as I’m knee deep in putting the finishing touches on Phase One of the Life of Reilly book.

The process to convert and condense the old columns and weave them in with the new content is almost complete. My cutting down of the review pieces of each issue has almost been completed and soon I’ll have Glenn’s re-workings of his commentary. Don’t worry about losing commentary, though. Glenn (and I) thought it’d be good to go back and trim some of the moments that may have come off as inflammatory regarding other creators, but we’re making up for some cuts with a lot of new information from Glenn, too.

Tom Brevoort graciously offered to have his brain picked on his recollection of the story. While Tom wasn’t as knee deep into the story as some of the other people he is a human encyclopedia when it comes to all things Marvel Comics. I’ve said many times before that the editorial point of view on this story seems to be the crown jewel since there are some things that happened that even the writers were unaware of. Usually what ends up happening when I talk to one of the editors is that I get so much new information that I have to go back to an interview with someone else that I thought was wrapped up and follow up some more.

I was able to touch base with former EIC and current Spider-Girl writer, Tom DeFalco, as well. Tom helped out a great deal when Glenn and I were doing the series of columns years ago so it will be nice to have him back to comment on some of the newer material/revelations. A bit of an aside here: if you aren’t reading The Amazing Spider-Girl, you’re missing out on one of the true gems of the comic industry. The Spider-Girl book has the same feel as one of those classic books from the 70s and 80s but deals with a future Peter Parker and more specifically, his offspring May(day), who now wears the webs. For those of you who may be a bit ticked off at the un-marrying of Peter and MJ in the main books, The Amazing Spider-Girl is the book for you. There’s a reason it’s still going strong after more than ten years. It’s a perfect, all ages book that will appeal to both kids and adults who want to read comics the way they used to be written.

We have another artist coming on board for the discussion. Tom Lyle is going to be discussing his time as both an artist and a writer during the Clone Saga. Not only did Tom do a lot of the early design work on some of the major characters (including the Scarlet Spider), but he was one of the first artists to bring Ben Reilly and his alter ego to life on the pages of Spider-Man. I think his work (both on Spider-Man, as well as Robin and a few other series) went highly under-rated.

The biggest news of this week was that former Marvel EIC, Bob Harras has agreed to participate. The responsibility for ending the Clone Saga, tying up the loose ends and moving Spider-Man forward fell on Bob’s shoulders. For awhile it looked like we weren’t going to be able to get him, and I was being a bit vague when people have been asking about his involvement. I guess at this point I should stop being surprised when people agree to work on the book since it’s been happening so much, but it always gives me a smile when I can get one more person to relate their experiences on this story, especially someone who had a role to play like Harras’.

I’m still waiting on the Mackie/Kavanagh interview, which should happen within the next week or two. It’s always difficult to try and organize a get together with a bunch of different people, but we all agreed that it would be more fun and interesting to do this one in person and give off a vibe similar to the old group meetings during the actual storyline.

The delay has been a bit of a blessing because it’s enabled me to fine tune the work in progress and gather enough information so that I could ask them some interesting questions. These were two of the most requested creators from the old columns so I want to give the fans a segment that will live up to the hype. Based on some small chats with Howard, I think you’re all going to be quite pleased with what he and Terry have to say. I’ve said it before, but it will be worth the wait.

I hope to have Harras’ interview done within the week, be well underway with Lyle and Eric Fein and likely finished with Mackie and Kavanagh in the next two weeks or so. From there, I’ll be finishing up things with DeFalco and Dezago and Glenn and I will work on putting the thing together in a more seamless fashion. Then it will be Danny Fingeroth’s turn to take a look, work on the introduction and help bring it all together. At this rate, I’m looking to be finished writing and editing the book by the end of May. Then again, I’m still working on trying to get one or two more participants for the book (someone let John Romita Jr know to email me, please) so that may delay things a bit.

And since people have been asking, yes, I will be at the New York Comic Con, but I won’t have a table. You may see some sort of LoR propaganda floating around, but I don’t have all that much to show off at this point. Maybe I’ll have a LoR t-shirt to make it easier to spot me?

I’ll also be attending Wizard World Philly and it looks like I will have a table, or at least be sharing one. By that point I should have a lot more information about the books progress and scheduling and maybe I’ll be able to show off some new material to anyone who’s interested.

So if you’re going to the New York or Philly cons, find me and say ‘hi’…or give me a smack.

Oh well, that wasn't as short of an update as I thought it'd be.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Life of Reilly Archives are Up

Here's something to keep everyone busy until the book comes out.
In looking over the old columns as I posted them one thing stood out even more than the spelling mistakes...the book is going to have a hell of a lot more content.

Time to start trimming my review segments to make room for all the new Q&As and commentary.

Relive the magic here:

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Hype of Reilly: Part IX

This installment of ‘Hype’ is a little later than the bi-weekly schedule that I’ve tried to keep, but I’ve been a lot busier with the book lately so…

In the past couple of weeks I was able to get Fabian Nicieza to do a short interview for the book and got it completed, as well. Fabian had a small but pretty crucial role to play in the Clone Saga with The Final Adventure. Glenn Greenberg had previously written about how that mini-series almost didn’t come to pass with all of the revisions involved and I wanted to get Fabian’s take on the situation. His interview is a nice addition to the book.

I also touched base with former Spider-Man Editor, Eric Fein. Eric was working on the books with Danny Fingeroth before the Clone Saga even began and continued on Spider-Man well into the storyline. We’ve just started things rolling, but I really do enjoy getting editors on this storyline involved with the book. They have a perspective that reaches beyond the creation of the stories and are fleshing out these behind the scenes details even more.

Fans of the original columns were really interested in hearing what some of their favorite writers had to say about their time on this story and I think I’ve done a good job of capturing that, but the real behind the scenes stuff seems to come from the editorial side. Bob and Eric have had some interesting information that even surprised me and I anticipate more details when Danny Fingeroth gets his say.

The JM DeMatteis interview was also completed this past week. Currently the JMD segment is around 18 pages and just shy of 9000 words. It’s the longest interview I’ve ever done, but DeMatteis is a wealth of information and it’s fascinating to pick his brains on just about everything. In terms of the Life of Reilly, the DeMatteis segment is second only to Glenn’s in terms of content. We’ll see how things stand once everything’s wrapped up, though.

It looks like the big Howard Mackie/Terry Kavanagh mini-summit will occur in the next week or so. Coordinating schedules between people is difficult, but it’s going to be well worth the wait. Terry and Howard are two of the people that were most requested by fans of the original columns to be interviewed and I’m ecstatic to have them both on board.

New York Comic Convention is nearly here and that’s where the Life of Reilly hype machine will officially start. Due to my frequenting of a lot of Spider-Man related websites, as well as a few other mainstream comic sites, a lot of people are aware of the book, but the NYCC is where I will unleash to information to all. It’s actually part of a long term goal of getting out to a bunch of cons this season to promote the book and by this time next year there should actually be a book to show off/sell. I would like nothing more than to usher in a Clone Saga panel at the ’09 New York Con as a wrap up to the whole thing. We’ll see.

That’s it for now. Gotta go finalize the Budiansky piece.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Reader Poll on Comics Retailing

Alan Doane at Comic Book Galaxy is conducting a reader poll about people's experience in comic shops. The best responses get a comic prize pack valued at about 50 bucks. Entries need to be received by Sunday, though, so get clicking.

It's a pretty neat little exercise, even if you aren't interested in the prize pack.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Hype of Reilly Part VIII

I’ve got some good news for you all. This has probably been the busiest couple weeks of working on The Life of Reilly since I first made up my mind to actually do the book.

I’ve been in a very good rhythm lately and I’m trying to use it to my advantage and just keep working while I have the energy and the time to do so. This has involved a few very late nights and some early mornings, but there has been a great deal of progress, which pleases me to no end.

And based on the feedback that I’ve been getting over the past couple Hypes and the ‘One More Day’ piece, you’re all very anxious to have me getting this thing going. Actually, I was surprised by how many of you were mad that I took some time off of the project to work on the ‘One More Day’ piece. I know you all want this book to come out and I’m doing my best to stay focused. I only had two lazy days in the past few weeks and that’s because Cerebus creator Dave Sim was making the rounds on the net to promote his forthcoming Glamourpuss title. I would kick myself if I didn’t make the attempt to be online while he was taking time out to answer questions about his career, controversial beliefs and his new book.

But I digress.

I’m knee deep in the interview process with both JM DeMatteis and Bob Budiansky, and a lot of information going on with both of them. DeMatteis is one of the creators that fans of the old LoR column were dying to have feedback from and I don’t think that they’re going to be disappointed. My interview with him is actually growing much longer than I thought it would be because even when he answers a question that I thought was open and shut he sheds light on something that makes me want to follow up even more.

JM DeMatteis has long been one of my favorite writers and one of the top 3 Spider-Man writers in my opinion, but conversing with him about this story and how he constructs a scene and gets into a character’s head just gives me an entire other aspect to respect about him. I’m very pleased with this part of the book and how it’s going. Now, I’m not even sure when I’m going to be finished because there’s just so many new questions that I have with every segment of the interview that the thing has taken on a life of its own.

Bob Budiansky was an essential piece of the Clone Saga puzzle for me. Being the one who inherited the storyline in the middle of the run, it puts him in a very unique situation. While most of the people I’m interviewing for the book are being asked questions pertaining to their own work on the Clone Saga, I’ve found that a lot of what I’m discussing with Bob is more of a commentary on the original commentary. That’s not to say that we aren’t tackling new subjects and things from Bob’s individual perspective, but this is the first time (so far) that there are responses to Glenn’s original column commentary.

For those fans that preferred the parts of LoR that focused on the events surrounding the seemingly constant changes in direction to the storyline, Bob’s section is going to be your favorite.

Mind you, I’m not saying that the Budiansky material negates Glenn’s commentary, but there is another perspective involved now and new details that are filled out that explains things in much greater detail. Like the DeMatteis material, the Budiansky stuff has expanded further than I thought it would and there’s even more to go.

I also had a new addition to the book that I hadn’t planned on previously. George Khoury, writer of Image Comics: The Road to Independence from TwoMorrows Publishing, will be answering some questions of mine and helping me get some facts straight when it comes to a very important part of The Life of Reilly. George has done some great research on different facets of the industry and knows a great deal about the speculator bust of the 1990s.

Hopefully, he’ll be able to add to the evidence that the Clone Saga had nothing to do with the crash of Marvel and the industry. It’s been a popular misconception since the Clone Saga ended that everything bad in comics was a result of that storyline and it’s false. A lot of the creators that are contributing to the book will have ways to support that, but George will have a lot of facts on hands, too.

What all this means is that there is a slight danger of the book skyrocketing in page count. My latest estimate was pushing 300 pages. And remember, until we get a definite word back from licensing, this is 300 pages without art. This is also before we get to key commentary and interviews with Danny Fingeroth, Terry Kavanagh and Howard Mackie, which is probably going to be one of the biggest sections of the book.

Final editing of the original columns (particularly my synopsis of the issues) will have to be done once I’ve completed gathering new material. While I don’t think people would mind a thick phone book style trade paperback, I want to try and keep the price of the book as affordable as possible. That’s something that’s still months away from worrying about, so I won’t focus on it right now.

One important fact is that I’ve finally begun the transitioning of the columns to book form with the new material in place. That was the big hurdle that needed to be crossed. These aren’t going to finalized until all of the interviews are completed, but now the first few chapters are complete with ‘placeholders’ designed for ease of execution when it’s all wrapped up.

In the next couple weeks, I hope to finish up the DeMatteis, Dezago and Budiansky segments and start on the grand finale of new material with Mackie and Kavanaugh.

Another update in a couple weeks…give or take.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Ride for Kids Charity Event

Ride for Kids ( was started back in Atlanta in 1984 by Mike and Diane Traynor, when a child of a friend of theirs was diagnosed with a brain tumor. They sought help from their friends in the motorcycling community to raise money to help find a cure for the disease. Their success in the first event led to expansion in different cities across the country, and in 1991 Mike and Diane started the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation (, devoting all of their time to fundraising efforts for more research into pediatric brain tumors.

Since 1991, The PBTF has been the official charity of the Honda Riders Club of America. The program has raised more than 30 million dollars since its inception, and has become the largest non-profit source of funding for pediatric brain tumor research outside of the government.
The goal of the PBTF is trying to isolate the cause, find a cure and make the quality of life easier for those that are fortunate enough to recover from brain tumors.

Artist Tommy Lee Edwards has taken up the cause for the past several years. He recently had this message for those interested in helping the PBTF: “Dear friends and family. Last year, hundreds of North Carolina bikers and I travelled the triangle area and contributed to a national fundraising total of $4.5 million.

Giving my time as a motorcyclist was my way of showing support for those families battling every day with childhood brain tumors. This year, my hope is to shatter last year’s fundraising efforts by donating not only my time to ride- But also my professional background as an official Star Wars illustrator. I’m thrilled to have the support from Lucasfilm on this truly inspiring fundraising endeavor.

This year Lucasfilm has offered to sponsor me by helping me create a limited edition (300 count) run of Star Wars lithographs. I’ve set up a website for this endeavor ( With every $30 donated on this website, people will get this exclusive Star Wars print sent to them, and know that their money (thru ride for kids) is going DIRECTLY to the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation. Sticking with the theme at hand, I've created an all-new exclusive illustration of speeder-bike troopers for this one-time exclusive print. It measures 30" x 15", and is printed on a high-quality 80# coated stock.

With help from many of you, I was able to raise $2000 for last year’s ride. I plan on smashing last year’s total by offering up this incentive that will hopefully catch the attention of my fans, comic fans, Star Wars fans, and people who just want to help some families battling pediatric brain tumors.”

This is a great event and a great cause and for those of you who are able to donate at least 30 dollars, the lithograph is a wonderful keepsake.

Please feel free to cut and paste the information here and spread the word about the Ride for Kids Charity Event.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Life of Reilly 35.5

The 'One More Day' special edition featuring a Q&A with Marvel Comics Editor in Chief Joe Quesada.

This didn't delay the LoR book by more than a couple of weeks, but a lot of fans were asking if I was going to comment on the 'One More Day' story so I figured I might as well say something about it.

While not a true continuation of Life of Reilly, it was a nice, brief distraction.

You can read the column back where it all began at Comic Book Galaxy here:

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Book of the Week 1-30-08

Y, The Last Man 60
Written by Brian K Vaughn and illustrated by Pia Guerra
Published by DC/Vertigo

Y is one of only a handful of stories that I was able to read from the very beginning and follow the series through to its conclusion. Preacher and Bone were the others. While I was a big fan of Sandman and Cerebus, too, I had started reading those series several issues into their runs.

There’s something special about being with a series from start to finish. In a time when fans are blasting reboots and retcons of their favorite longtime characters from Marvel and DC, the lure of a finite series like Y is that you know that there is a definite story to be told along with an ending in mind. It keeps the filler down to a minimum.

Y, The Last Man focuses on Yorick Brown, the only male left on a planet after a plague kills everyone on Earth with a Y chromosome. What would the world be like if there were no more men left? Could society function at all? For over five years, Vaughn and Guerra revealed their new world to us and managed to entertain and make us think.

Like the Preachers and Sandmans before it, fans of Y were speculating on the end for some time now. After the cause of the plague was seemingly explained, Yorick’s reunion with Beth and the death of 355, there didn’t seem to be any huge revelations or shocks that the book could have left. The cover of the final issue was revealed several months ago and everyone had a guess on the possible outcome and I think everyone was proven wrong.

Vaughn certainly didn’t go the route that I expected, but maybe I’ve become too cynical as a comic book reader and didn’t believe that someone could pull off the great finale. As much as I liked the Preacher series I felt that the final issue was a bit of a let-down. Same goes for Cerebus. But the Y finale works on many levels.

We don't get any answers in terms of the plague, but the cause of why all the men died was never important to the story. It’s all about how Yorick and the rest of humanity survive afterwards. It’s about a young man and his relationship to the women around him. It’s about the effect that these different women have on Yorick as he experiences life. In the first issue, there is a moment where Yorick is talking about how he’s become almost agrophobic and doesn’t want to leave the house anymore. Interestingly enough his journey to save the world took him across the globe.

The book was always more about the characters than the actual 'gimmick' of the plague and Vaughn ties up all the plotlines with those main characters in a very believable way. The finale of this series is filled with moments of laughter, grief, and despair, but most of all, this issue is about hope. There were a few moments in the book where my emotions almost got the better of me, particularly with one of the main 'goodbye' scenes.

Given the events of the previous few issues, it was going to be impossible for readers to get a fairy tale like happy ending, but the final image in this epic story is as memorable and uplifting as any fan could hope for. Y, is a modern classic and the creative team gave us a series finale worthy of this legendary run.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Hype of Reilly: Part VII

It’s been awhile since I commented at all on the Life of Reilly book. After the sudden death of my mother, an abrupt change in my career status, the latest computer I had crapping out and the Holiday hustle and bustle there wasn’t much time spent on the book.

But things are back on track and moving along quite well again.

I’m in the process of doing the big JM DeMatteis interview right now. The first draft is ready, but I have a lot more follow up questions to go through. It’s one of the harder interviews I’ve had to write due to the fact that he’s one of my favorite writers (and I need to keep from acting like a fanboy) and there’s a difficulty in asking intelligent questions that are going to be interesting to readers of the book, but not bore him by being repetitive.

I also pretty much finished a shorter Q&A with Mark Bagley. Mark is in the unique position of having worked on two Clone Sagas and I wanted to get his thoughts on both stories. Honestly, I suck at interviewing artists and Bagley is another favorite of mine, but I was having problems coming up with some interesting yet intelligent questions to ask. Thomas Mets, a Spider-Man fan who posts on Brian Bendis’, helped me a great deal by offering a bunch of things I could swing by Mark.

The exciting thing for me is how the project has started to balloon with more participants joining than I ever thought possible. The latest person to sign on is former editor Bob Budiansky. Bob was thrust right into the Clone Saga just around the time that Ben Reilly officially took on the mantle of Spider-Man. It’s going to be great to hear what stories he has to tell about what was going on behind the scenes during his involvement in the story.

While Danny Fingeroth guided the books from the beginning of the Clone Saga and Ralph Macchio came on to end the story, Bob was in the interesting position of having to handle things right smack dab in the middle and that’s where a lot of people believe the story started getting changed around, lengthened, etc. Bob’s participation will set the record straight on a lot of things that were only speculated about for years.

In terms of timing for the book, I was hoping it would be ready in time for con season but that’s a near impossibility now. Con season of ’09 seems like a better bet.

The most difficult part has proved to be in writing a story around the columns and trying to make the book read a bit differently. Originally, I was thought about taking the columns, printing them out and making a simple print version that people could hold in their hands. Then I thought I should try and add some new material as a bonus, but it was still going to be about 90-95% old material. As time as gone on, the thing has taken on a life of its own. The creative participants have more than doubled with a lot more commentary being added to Glenn’s.
Re-organizing the old pieces to make everything flow better has been the biggest headache. I’ve re-written the opening pages half a dozen times, trying to pick the best way to lead off, along with writing lead-ins to different chapters, etc.

For example, a new interview with JM DeMatteis sheds light on some of the things we discussed during the opening and mid sections of the column. Inserting the DeMatteis commentaries on Judas Traveller in Chapter 6 of the original columns means reworking some of Glenn’s commentaries about it for a more conversational flow. We’ll also have the point of view of Editor Danny Fingeroth on the same subject so I need to chop up my overview of the individual issues we’re discussing to make it read better.

It’s looking like more than half of the book will now be all new material and that seems to grow by the day. It’s a huge bonus to the fans of the column that were planning on picking up the book, but it has been a big reason for the delays.

So right now my desk is buried in paperwork. To the left, I have print outs of chapters from the original columns, all redlined and ready to be edited. On the right is a stack of ongoing interviews printed out with notes of which chapters they’ll be inserted into. Each of the interview stacks are loaded with Post-It-Notes with follow up questions. There’s a notepad on the corner of the laptop with the front half dedicated to things I need to go over with Glenn and the back half being reserved for the things Danny needs to go over. There’s a separate book off to the corner of the desk with questions and excerpts ready to be reviewed by Howard and Terry for the forthcoming interview and finally a small legal pad with a list of things to do that is slowly getting crossed off.

Yeah, the book has turned out to be a lot more time consuming than I originally thought, but looking at the desk and all of the wonderful information going into the project I know that it is going to be worth the effort and definitely worth the wait for readers.
I need to go take a nap.

Go to ‘The Haven’ section of to read HoR parts one through six.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Book of the Week 1-16-08

Fell #9
Written by Warren Ellis and illustrated by Ben Templesmith
Published by Image Comics

It’s been about half a year since the last issue came out and there was a definite void left that needed to be filled. Unfortunately, this book is hard to top and the absence of new issues did leave a hole in my monthly reading. Ellis is on a tear right now, with a great new take on Marvel’s Thunderbolts, as well as his creator owned work Black Sunday and Doktor Sleepless being published regularly, but Fell is one of a kind.

The main comic book part of the story is only 16 pages (which helps keep the book at a ridiculously low price of $1.99), but Ellis and Templesmith pack more story into fewer pages than any other comic can offer. There isn’t a single wasted space in any panel. Every inch of space is wisely used through Ellis’s narrative or Templesmith’s detailed art. And in a time when a lot of comics take several issues to tell a single story, each issue of Fell is a complete, self contained story.

The series is about Detective Richard Fell, who’s assigned to Snowtown, a morbid little city across the river from where he used to work, filled with townspeople who only come out at night if they’re going to commit a crime. We aren’t given the reasons why the detective had to be ‘demoted’ to Snowtown, but that missing history isn’t important to the story. Detective Fell is intelligent and unforgiving. Each case he is assigned to is crazier than the next and the detective must rely on his mind to get the best of the situation, though it doesn’t always work.

My favorite moment in the series was during an interrogation in which Detective Fell and his suspect matched wits with each other for the entire issue with a resolution that was unexpected. Think Detective Frank Pembleton interrogation scenes from the old Homicide television show.

This latest issue offers another unique take on a detective story staple: the hostage negotiation. Like the interrogation story, this issue shines particularly due to the way Ellis is able to write dialogue. You never know where it’s going and there’s a true sense of suspense because not all of these cases are going to go the Detective’s way. As interesting as it can be to follow Detective Fell's breakdown of a typical case, I find these types of stories even better. Fell knows procedure inside and out, but that doesn't necessarily mean he has the upper hand. Stories like this showcase the detective's sharp tongue to be as important as his deductive reasoning.

As a bonus, each issue contains a behind the scenes look at the making of the book at the main story, which gives insight into the storytelling process, complete with the inspiration for the issue. I don’t know what’s more frightening: that some of these stories are pulled from actual events or that Ellis’ mind is able to come up with even more horrifying things.

Monday, January 14, 2008

One More Day/Brand New Day

If you believe that the voices on the Internet represents the majority of comic book readers, then the new Amazing Spider-Man run is going to sell around 20,000 copies an issue which would make it one of Marvel's lowest selling titles. I'm basing this on the fact that the book currently sells around 100,000 copies and Internet polling shows about an 80% unfavorable rating.

I'm very anxious to see the actual sales numbers in a couple months. I also believe that the book is still going to be selling around 100,000 copies an issue. Since the book is shipping three times a month, you're looking at around 300,000 copies of Spider-Man being sold a month, which will be a lot more than the combined sales of Amazing, Sensational and Friendly a few months back.

I don't have a problem with people bitching about the story. It's certainly their right to complain about a comic book that they bought, although there are a few people out there ranting about what they've heard and haven't bothered to actually read the book itself.

What's really unsettling is the over the top reaction by a lot of people out there. A majority of the fans seem unable to make their case for why the books are bad without resorting to profanity or name calling. The people that have destroyed their copies of 'One More Day' amuse me the most, since their way of sticking it to Marvel seems to be to pay for the book (and generate sales) but then mutilate it, leaving them with nothing. Still others just don't get the idea that Spider-Man, like Batman, Superman and every other Marvel and DC book are corporate properties.


Here's an entertaining sampling of some of the 'edgy' critiques of the book:

Tough guy

His rear end must be sore

Not a good idea to use a child proof lighter

The creme of the crop

Those were only a few of the more popular ones making the rounds, and it's only a small sample of what's out there regarding the current Spider-Man storyline.

As a comic book reader and fan, I feel guilty by association with these people. The media in general seems to have stopped using the whole 'BAM'/'POW' crap when discussing comic books but thanks to outlets like Youtube and Message Boards, there is a whole new way to feel shame about comics.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Top Ten Comics of 2007

2007 was another great year for comics. In my opinion, these were the best of the best.

10. Star Wars: Legacy
John Ostrander and Jan Duursema. Dark Horse Comics
This is the Star Wars series fans have been waiting for. Thrusting the series one hundred years into the future, the creative team has a lot more free reign, instead of just worrying about what to do with Han, Luke and Leia. I’m a huge fan of the original trilogy characters, but there is only so much you can say with them before you age them too much or contradict continuity and have the fans up your ass. Ostrander has kept enough ties to characters we love (Artoo is still around and the main character is a Skywalker descendant) but has also redefined the ‘rules’ of the Star Wars universe. The result is an exciting continuation of the Star Wars saga that appeals to fans of the original trilogy and those who prefer new characters in the expanded universe stories.

9. Ultimate Spider-Man
Brian Bendis, Mark Bagley and Stuart Immonen. Marvel Comics
Mark Bagley stepped away from the book after the exhilarating (and shorter) Ultimate version of the Clone Saga, but Stuart Immonen stepped in on art and the book didn’t miss a beat. ‘The Clone Saga’ storyline featured shocking revelations and twists with every issue and introduced a new character (in Peter’s female clone) that has a wealth of storytelling opportunity. Bagley’s final arc had Spider-Man teaming with the more urban heroes of the Ultimate Universe, after a short segue to introduce Immonen to the book in story featuring The Spot, the book got back to its grand storytelling with ‘Death of a Goblin’. Goblin brings back Norman Osborn, who appears to be even more dangerous when just making threats while in a three-piece suit than he does in his Goblin guise. After seven years and over 100 issues, this is still the best Spider-Man book on the stands.

8. The Boys
Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson. Dynamite Comics
Garth Ennis let loose. DC Comics let go of the controversial, hype violent look at superheroes out of control and the people that are responsible for containing them, but the book lost none of its’ steam when moving to Dynamite. The first storyline of the year focused on the anti-hero team investigating the murder of a guy seemingly at the hands of a popular superhero. The investigation led them to uncover the horrific secrets of the Tek Knight and his relationship to his former ward, Swingwing, among others. You’ll be hard pressed to find a more violent, vulgar, genre skewering book on the stands that has this level of creativity and wit. A lot of creators try to show their chops by taking on the establishment, but Ennis still continues to show them how to do it in a most entertaining way.

7. All Star Superman
Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely. DC Comics
Morrison makes Superman soar whether it’s finding a unique take on the Lex Luthor’s battle or sending the character off to Bizzaro World. He’s been able to put a new spin on stories that may seem like re-tellings by anyone else. Hell, even Quitely has managed to make Superman and Clark actually look like two different people with nuances in body language. Different creative teams come on board the Superman titles every few years in order to ‘fix’ the character or ‘bring him back to greatness’. They try and find the right combination that will make Superman a compelling or at least relevant character for today’s generation. Look no further than Morrison’s take to see how to make Superman compelling, relevant and highly enjoyable.

6. Y, The Last Man
Brian Vaughan and Pia Guerra. DC/Vertigo
We got a possible explanation on what caused the plague that killed all the men on the planet and while most readers were less than impressed with the revelation, a few months later some more information showed that maybe the truth behind the plague wasn’t revealed. The fact that we may never learn the truth is for the best, anyway, since the enjoyment of the series has been about the ride that we went on with Yorick Brown. The latter months of the book showed the long-awaited reunion of Yorick and the woman he loved. There was also the shocking and heartbreaking resolution to Yorick’s relationship with the agent assigned to protect him. Neither event ended the way anyone could have predicted. The final issue nearly upon us and I hope the conclusion is as satisfying as the ones all the fans have created in their heads. Good luck, Brian.

5. The Punisher
Garth Ennis, Lan Medina, Howard Chaykin and Goran Parlov. MAX/Marvel Comics
When Garth Ennis started writing the Punisher years ago the book took the form of a wild, over the top adventure featuring an obsessed maniac as its lead. Slowly after the book went under the MAX banner and away from the Marvel Universe, Ennis started adding layers of humanity to Frank Castle all while putting him through some of the most insane and horrifying adventures to date. In recent months, the Punisher had to contend with going up against a group of widows of those criminals he previously killed and was partnered by a woman scarred both physically and emotionally. The latest storyline has introduced a baby Castle didn’t know he had, who is being used as bait by the maniacal Barracuda (one of the most twisted, violent and evil villains Ennis or any other writer has creator) Ennis had the uncanny ability to humanize a character like Frank Castle so completely and to a much greater degree than just ‘the mob killed his family so now he punishes all criminals’ without changing his origin. He has added so much depth to the character that it’s really hard for me to imagine anyone else writing the character.

4. Captain America
Ed Brubaker, Steve Epting and Mike Perkins. Marvel Comics
One of the best superhero books on the stands didn’t feature its lead character for most of 2007 and that may have been the best decision. While there have been some great Cap runs, the true sense of who Captain America is and what he means to the country, his teammates and the people around him have gotten lost in the shuffle. By having him out of the picture, Brubaker has given the other characters the power to embrace (Iron Man, The Winter Soldier) or reject (The Red Skull) the ideals of Steve Rogers’ Captain. The latest storyline is going to feature someone new taking on the roll of Captain America and I trust it will give Brubaker another chance to exemplify the ideals and the sense of purpose that the character represents. If and when Steve Rogers returns, he will do so with a renewed sense of purpose and to a world crafted by Brubaker where his ‘mission’ is truly clear.

3. True Story, Swear to God
Tom Beland. Image Comics
Heartwarming, funny and amazingly honest, Tom Beland’s autobiographical look on his relationship with Lili is a ‘slice of life’ story done right. A lot of self published and small press creators go the auto-biographical route with their work. It takes a special talent to be able to stand out enough to get picked up by a company like Image (and be recognized for Eisner nominations) but it’s also an amazing feat to make one’s seemingly ordinary life compelling enough where you want to shell out three bucks to read it. Beland has that special ability to make his life worth reading about without resorting to being exploitive or arrogant. If anything in the series, he treats himself worse than any other character. I’ve never met Tom or Lily, but through TSSTG, I feel like I know them.

2. Criminal
Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. Icon/Marvel Comics
The title is getting re-launched with a new number one (for volume two of the series) and hopefully it’ll attract a few new readers with the move. The creative team behind Sleeper has been doing masterful work here using the freedom of the Icon line to tell gritty, intelligent, adult stories without resorting to gratuitous violence or sex. There is more character development in the small cast of characters in this series than some comic companies have in their entire line. While Criminal follows the thoughts, planning and execution of some ‘bad’ people, the characters Brubaker writes aren’t entirely without redemption. He isn’t writing about traditional comic book (or Hollywood) type villains. The characters here are extremely complex and layered. They don’t necessarily believe what they’re doing is evil or even necessarily wrong, but their actions are a means to an end for their own survival and twisted sense of purpose.

1. The Walking Dead
Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard. Image Comics
At this point in the story, the zombies are almost an afterthought. The characters in TWD have discovered that there are greater evils in the world than the undead and maybe getting chomped on by a walking corpse isn’t the worst way to go in this universe. This year we had a resolution to the Rick and Lori baby storyline, along with an interesting wrap up to the identity of the father speculation going on. The most anticipated storyline occurred towards the end of the year and is still in motion: the return of the corrupt Governor and his townspeople of Woodbury. It’s been speculated that this storyline will ‘change everything’ and Kirkman has proved that when it comes to The Walking Dead, that statement isn’t just hyperbole. Those who’ve complained about the lack of zombie chomping action are completely missing the point of the book. It’s so much more than a slasher type horror book. The psychological horror of the unknown, along with the true human nature of the survivors is what’s really frightening.

Best Event Book
The Sinestro Corps War
Geoff Johns, Dave Gibbons, Ivan Reis and Ethan van Sciver. DC Comics
DC could have easily turned this into a catastrophic mess, with a ton of meaningless tie-ins just for the sake of pulling in a few more bucks but they left well enough alone and let the creative team do their thing. This is the second part of the Green Lantern ‘trilogy’ that began with Rebirth, also by Johns and van Sciver. Sinestro, Green Lantern’s arch enemy and is tired of getting his butt handed to him by the Lanterns creates his own army of ring bearers, all using the yellow ring embodying fear. Again, this sprawling, sci-fi epic took all of about twelve chapters to tell within the two core Green Lantern series and a couple of spin-offs. The creative teams kept the series tight and it allowed for the story to be told in as concise a manner as possible. I was never that big of a Green Lantern fan (and really only read him in the Rebirth mini-series, but due to the work on ‘Sinestro Corps’ and the hint of things to come, I think I’m going to stick around longer.

Best Way to End a Marriage
Spider-Man: One More Day
JM Straczynski and Joe Quesada. Marvel Comics.
You’d think there wouldn’t be that many candidates for this but you’d be wrong. From the Green Arrow/Black Canary honeymoon murder…okay, I just wanted this category to recognize ‘One More Day’. Why? Well, because it’s not the end of the world scenario that some fans have made it out to be. I liked that Peter Parker was married. I liked the unmasking storyline. I would have preferred if the supernatural element was left out of the resolution. The truth is, though, I can see the reasoning behind the company wanting Spider-Man to be perpetually single. I can recognize that the unmasking was a mistake for the character and the events of the books subsequently proved it. And in a series where the main character was bitten by a radioactive spider, got cloned, went to a different planet and picked up a living costume and fought against gods I suppose the Mephisto connection isn’t that far fetched. Marvel needed to make Peter Parker single again in a way that didn’t make him or Mary Jane look bad (so no cheating, divorce, etc), that didn’t seemingly age him (no killing MJ off and making him a widower) or wipe out years of stories in a Crisis on Infinite Earths style event and this was the best way to do it. Time will tell. And I’m going to give them the time.

Best Book You’ve Never Heard Of
Brielle and the Horror
Jared and Jordan Barel and Alex Goz. Loaded Barrel Studios

You’ve heard of it if you read my older reviews, but all anyone really cares about is when I write about Ben Reilly so it doesn’t hurt to mention this book again in case you neglected the hype the first time around. This was the first issue of the attempted live-action graphic novel. The creators used real actors to portray the characters in the book and then photographed the panels in sequence to the story, then hand drew over the photos to create a pretty unique-looking piece of art. Aside from the cool artistic tricks, it’s got an interesting horror story, too. The comic follows a teenage girl, Brielle, who witnessed her father’s death five years ago. She’s trying to pick up the pieces of her life while doing the things that 16-year-old girls do. She goes to school and worries about boys and who she’ll go on a date with to the big carnival, etc.

Best Individual Issue
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #23
Peter David and Todd Nauck
I’m a lifelong Spider-Man fan, and as I mentioned above, I actually enjoyed the storyline where he revealed his identity to the world and then had to deal with the ramifications of that decision. No writer handled the aftermath better than Peter David on FNSM and this issue dealt with the long awaited confrontation between Peter Parker and J Jonah Jameson. Jameson, who has built a publishing empire on trying to destroy Spider-Man (not to mention the times he was involved with actually trying to kill him) now knows that the identity of the man he’s hated for so long is someone who’s been on his payroll for years and whom he’s treated almost like a son. How can the confrontation between the two not be awesome? It was. And like the emotional, Amazing Spider-Man #400, this issue may have been ‘erased’ from continuity, but that by no means diminishes its power.