Archive for April, 2009

All Work and No Play…


I’ve been writing about nothing but the Lubbock Comic Book Expo for a couple of weeks, and we all need a quick palate-cleanser.

And that’s that. You may now return to your usual workaday schedule.

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Lubbock’s Comics Connections: Rachael Simmons

To my complete surprise, yesterday’s move went extremely well — I’d originally planned to take ’til the end of Wednesday to get my stuff moved, then spend Wednesday evening cleaning the old apartment. But it turns out, thanks to some timely assistance from my brother, that 99% of everything has been moved into the new house. Now tomorrow, I can get the place cleaned up, toss my vacuum cleaner in the trunk, and get gone ’til checkout on Thursday morning.

Of course, there’s a downside to all this — namely, the new house is much, much smaller than my old apartment, and it’s looking like my entire stay here will be plagued by stacks of boxes that I’ve got no room to store elsewhere.

But enough about me — let’s take one more look at a Lubbock artist who will be appearing at this Saturday’s Lubbock Comic Book Expo at the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center: Rachael Simmons.

Rachael was born in Plant City, Florida, and moved to Lubbock when she was 10. Discovering manga and then Spider-Girl, she threw herself into reading all the comics she could and abandoned her plans to become a veterinarian so she could become a cartoonist. She even moved back to Florida to study at an arts high school, but gravitated more toward sequential art than the fine arts and painting taught in Florida.

After moving back to Lubbock, she got involved with the Lubbock Sketch Club and began sending samples of her work to comics companies. With a lot of rejections in the mailbox, Rachael eventually got a call from Red 5 Comics — they had been following her blog and were interested in working on a project with her. Soon, another new project was offered — in this case, a commission for a Harvard business professor for an educational comic book.

Rachael used to work at the Children’s Art Academy, where she taught kids about art and illustration, but she’s taken a hiatus from teaching to work on her freelance comics work.

Y’all have probably heard me say a few times how impressed I am with the artwork produced by the folks at the Lubbock Sketch Club, but I gotta say Rachael’s stuff blows me away. I got to flip through her portfolio a week or so back, and she’s doing absolutely world-class stuff. I think she’s gonna make a breakthrough to Marvel or DC sooner rather than later.

Go meet Rachael at the Lubbock Comic Book Expo this Saturday before the major comics companies whisk her away to New York…

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Lubbock’s Comics Connections: Marc Watson

Well, I spent all day yesterday getting moved into the new apartment. All the furniture is moved over, but I’ve still got a lot of little odds-and-ends to try to get moved. And I need to vacuum and scrub the bathrooms. In other words, I spent all day yesterday working like crazy, my feet hurt, and I gotta move a bunch more stuff over the next couple of days.

But even moving day madness cannot stop the highly necessary promotion of this Saturday’s Lubbock Comic Book Expo — nor can it stop me from giving a shout-out to yet another talented Lubbock artist who’ll be appearing at the Expo! Today, let’s meet Marc Watson.


Marc was born in Aurora, Colorado, and has lived in numerous places around the Lone Star State. He is a 2006 graduate of Texas Tech and current Lubbock resident. He operates Stranded Studios here in the Hub City. He does a lot of work on murals around the city — he’s painted murals at RC Wheels and Props, Dave’s Need 4 Speed (that’s the picture below), PetSmart, the main branch of Covenant Medical Center (and that’s the pic above), and the new Covenant Women’s and Children’s Hospital.


In addition to murals, Marc has also worked in jewelry, sculpture, ceramics, sketch art, and life drawing. His latest project is a children’s book called “Apples the Rat.” He’ll have a six-page black-and-white promo ready for the Expo, but the finished product will be fully painted in watercolor and 48 pages long. Here’s a little of what Marc had to say about it:

As for the story, it follows our main character as he finds himself in a new place as well as a new sense of belonging. I tried to balance a book that had both a cute side but also a side that kids would think was cool and exciting. I want to also maintain an overall good moral, while still including the aspects of pirates that kids love, such as sword fighting.

Folks, he’s talking about sword-fighting pirate rats, and I think that’s something we can all get behind. The only way to make that more awesome would be to add gorillas or rocketcars, and that might be too much awesomeness for one children’s book.


Again, Marc and Stranded Studios will be at the Lubbock Comic Book Expo this Saturday at the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center. Stop by and see him, as well as all the other local artists.

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Lubbock’s Comics Connections: Ginny Case

Okay, folks, it’s Moving Day. I’m not going to be getting all my stuff into the new house until the very end of the month, but this is the day I’ve got set up for moving all my large furniture — the bed, bookshelves, dresser, hideabed, etc. I’m also getting my gas turned on today and switching my Internet service to the new address. So I won’t have a lot of time to hang out unless y’all wanna rush down here and help us get the dresser shoved into the truck.

But I’ve got at least one more of this series on local comics talent to get online before the Lubbock Comic Book Expo this Saturday! Today, we’re going to focus on Ginny Case.

Ginny was born and raised on Long Island, New York. She attended the State University of New York in Fredonia for Illustration and Theater, but moved to Lubbock a few years ago with her fiancée — now husband — Christopher.


She works as a full-time artist, writing and illustrating comics and doing private commissions. She has a self-published comic, “Athenaeum,” from Flaming Hand Comics, which is Ginny and Chris’ personal studio. It’s a fantasy adventure that takes place in a strange world where artists are brought to revive their lost creativity. “Athenaeum” is set to premiere at the Comic Book Expo on May 2.


She’s also working on a project called “Requiem for Innocence,” which is an immense science fiction epic. The prologue will be published this fall, with subsequent volumes every six months. How large is “Requiem for Innocence” going to be? Each volume of the series will be around 100 pages long.


Want to see more of her artwork? Check out her DeviantArt page. And don’t forget to come meet her at the Lubbock Comic Book Expo this Saturday, May 2, at the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center! Ginny and a lot of other artists will be there!

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Friday Night Fights: WOK! THOP! ZOMP!

It’s been one heck of a week. If I ain’t mentioned it before, I’m in the midst of moving. No, haven’t gotten a job yet. (Starting to doubt that’s ever going to happen) I’m moving into my brother’s spare apartment here in Lubbock. I won’t be paying $600+ every month in rent, though I’ll still be paying a ton for various bills. Anyway, we’ve had family in town all week long trying to get the apartment liveable and trying to get all my stuff moved over. We aren’t done yet, not anywhere close. So there’s been the stress of moving, combined with the stress of doing prep work for the Comic Book Expo. I’m worn plumb out, and the weekend won’t be much of a break — I’ve still got lots of stuff to pack and move. But if I can’t have a proper weekend, I can at least have a proper dose of FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

Today’s bit of brutality comes from June 1971’s Amazing Spider-Man #97 by Stan Lee and Gil Kane, as Peter Parker smacks a drug pusher around.


Remember, kids, don’t do drugs, or some radioactive spider-powered nerd is going to ZOMP you good.

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Lubbock’s Comics Connections: Nicholas Webb

Yes, as a matter of fact, we are doing an awful lot of this series on Lubbockites who work in comics, cartooning, and animation. The Lubbock Comic Book Expo is coming up in just a little more than a week, and there are a lot of local artists who’ll be appearing there. So I want to spotlight as many of them as I can — comics reviews can wait. Today, we’re taking a quick look at Nicholas Webb.


Nicholas Webb was born here in Lubbock and graduated from Abernathy High School in 2003. He studied at the Art Institute in Dallas, but is now back in Lubbock.


He has worked as a sprite animator for a cell phone game called “Shadow of the Incubus” and was the colorist and letterer for Issues 11 and 14 of a comic called “Reynard City.” He also drew the cover for Issue 14 and will be the penciller for a future issue of the series.


Again, Nicholas is going to have a table at the Comic Expo on May 2 at the Civic Center. He’s just one of many extremely talented artists who’ll be on hand. Don’t miss the chance to stop by and say hi.

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Lubbock’s Comics Connections: Star Comics

Not all of the Hub City’s comics ties are linked directly to comics creators — without supportive comics retailers, there probably wouldn’t be any sort of comics scene in Lubbock at all.

Way back in 1977, a guy named Don Mitchell started a used bookstore on 34th Street called Star Bookstore. He had a friend named Joe Gulick who had visited Mile High Comics in Denver, and Joe and his brother Mike discovered that Mile High got new comics much earlier than grocery stores, dime stores, and other places that sold comic books in Lubbock. Realizing that they’d be able to get comics a week or two earlier if Lubbock had a comics shop, they suggested to Don that Star should sell some comic books.


Soon after, in October 1977, Don sold the store to Mike, and the name of the store was changed to Star Books and Comics. Mike sold the store to a long-time customer, Sid Devours, in 1981. Books and RPG sales were phased out around 1992 to make the store all-comics, all the time. Sid died in August 1999 — his nephew Robert Mora took over the business and still runs it today. The name of the store was changed one more time to just plain Star Comics back in 2004.


The store is still located at 2014 34th Street, and they’ll be one of the vendors at the Lubbock Comic Book Expo on May 2 at the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center, so you should be sure to stop by and say howdy.

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Lubbock’s Comics Connections: Rob Weiner

We got a lot of local comics creators who are gonna be at the Lubbock Comic Book Expo on May 2, so I’m gonna start running these Comics Connections bits a bit more often. One of the more important comics folks we’ve got around here doesn’t draw or write comics, but he’s still had a huge impact on the comics world here in Lubbock: Rob Weiner.

Rob was a reference librarian at the Mahon Library here in Lubbock for 12 years. He took a position at the Texas Tech Library as Humanities Librarian a year or two back. He also serves as the Liaison for the College of Visual and Performing Arts and Librarian for Film, Art, Sequential Art, Music, Dance, and Theatre.

In case you haven’t noticed, the Mahon Library and the Lubbock Public Library System has one of the best graphic novel collections in the country, and Rob is the guy who made it all possible. He started building the collection 10 years ago and grew it from a few books to over 4,000. He has published numerous articles and given talks and seminars about building graphic novels collections for libraries.


Rob wrote an article in the 2008 issue of Texas Library Journal about the history of and how to catalog Graphic Novels. He is the author of “Marvel Graphic Novels: An Annotated Guide 1965-2005” and “Captain America and the Struggle of the Superhero,” both published by McFarland Press. He also wrote a chapter in “The Gospel According to Superheroes” that focuses on Captain America. Weiner has also written and spoken on the Grateful Dead, Music and Film topics.

Heck, Rob is really blowing up pretty big right now. Texas Tech is spotlighting his new Captain America book, and SciFiPulse has an excellent interview with him (as well as a cartoon of Rob as Cap that is far too funny).


And don’t forget, Rob will be at the Lubbock Comic Book Expo on Saturday, May 2! He’ll be giving a presentation on “The Reality of Spider-Man” at 11 a.m.! Don’t miss out!

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Uniform Fetish

I do believe we’ve mentioned the Lubbock Comic Book Expo, haven’t we? Sure, we have! Remember, it’s going to be on Saturday, May 2, at the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center, during the annual Lubbock Arts Festival. It’s just two bucks to get into the Arts Festival, which is one holy heck of a bargain, and if you wanna head over to the Comic Expo, it’s dead solid free, which is an even better bargain.

Now let’s talk about some of our events for a bit. The one thing everyone seems pretty stoked about is our costume contest. We had a good one last year (I’m still impressed by the guy who dressed up as Fry from “Futurama” to win first prize), but it was pretty small. We want to have a lot more people in costume this year.

So if you’ve got a costume, please bring it! I don’t care if you’re young or old — they make a lot of really cool kids costumes nowadays, but there are a lot of dedicated cosplayers out there who make their own costumes by hand. So if you have a costume, wear it and come down to the Civic Center on May 2. The costume contest is set for 4 p.m. If you wanna come before that, we’d love you there — people in costume are great for bringing in more attendance. Heck, if we like your costume, we may send you to walk around the Arts Festival to help drum up some interest in the Expo.

So seriously, if you have a costume, we want to see you there! If you look like this:

We wanna see you!

If you look like this:

We wanna see you!

Heck, even if you look like this:

We STILL wanna see you!

Costume Contest! May 2 at 4 p.m. at the Civic Center! BE THERE!

Hey, wait a sec, I haven’t listed any of our scheduled presentations yet, and time’s starting to run short, so here’s the list right now:

11 a.m.: The Reality of Spider-Man with Rob Weiner

12 noon: Lubbock’s Comics Connections with Scott Slemmons (That’s me!)

1 p.m.: Texas Tech Library 2D Lab demonstration

2 p.m.: Texas Tech Library 3D Lab demonstration

3 p.m.: Flash animation with Paul Davidson from South Plains College

4 p.m.: The Costume Contest!

5 p.m.: The Future of Comics in West Texas with Will Terrell and Robert Mora

Is the Comic Book Expo on your calendar? It better be! Or else I’m showing you my Out-of-Shape and Unshaven Dr. Manhattan costume!

UPDATE: As Will Terrell notes in comments, the grand prize for the costume contest is a commissioned illustration by him! This is normally a $150 – $200 value, so y’all should feel free to get wildly enthused and start tearing up the joint.

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Time after Time

Let’s take us a look at some comics about time travel. By which I mean, I’m actually reviewing these comics in the year 3942 and have just sent these reviews back to you in the past. In the future, we have robot vacuum cleaners and the Internet! YAY FOR THE FUTURE!

Booster Gold #19

This is pretty much just an epilogue for the last storyarc. We’ve got two versions of Booster running around ancient Egypt, Booster’s sister Goldstar gets set up for a heel turn, and Rip Hunter goes on a mission in time that almost gets screwed up by Booster’s deep time meddling.

Verdict: Thumbs down. This is just incredibly boring.

And that cover. Oy, that cover. Can I just focus on that word balloon?

Oh, I’m sorry, but my wishes involved a comic book that wasn’t mind-numbingly boring. That’s why I’m glad I’ve got this next one to read.

The Umbrella Academy: Dallas #5

Everyone’s running around 1963 either getting ready to assassinate President Kennedy, or trying to prevent the assassination. The problem is that Spaceboy, Kraken, and Spaceboy messed up their trip to the past and have spent the last few years in Vietnam, which is a heck of a long way from Dallas. So we get a very nice sequence where a bunch of American soldiers, including a chimpanzee, drag a mystical mummy through the jungle in a quest to end the Vietnam War early, but they get attacked by Vietnamese soldiers, who are all hopping vampires. Number 5 and Rumor, along with a bunch of Time Commandos are in place and ready to stop Future Number 5 from saving the President, so can the rest of the Academy get there in time to stop them?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s confusing as heck, but it’s also grand fun to read. Lots of great personality bits, lots of great action, and the battlefield scene with the vampires (while not really culturally precise) (unless that’s just an indication of China sending their own soldiers to help the North Vietnamese) is just wonderful fun. While “Booster Gold” is becoming a case study in how to make time travel both confusing and boring, this one is showing how to make it all look cool.

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