Wizard World

This Friday is brought to you by Hugging Kitteh

Things to do in and around LA this weekend:

Los Angeles Times Festival of Books at the USC Campus, Saturday 10 AM to 6 PM and Sunday 10 AM to 5 PM. Admission is free!

The FoB commercial:

The 45 Show gallery closing event at the Twenty Miles East Gallery in Pomona, Saturday 5 PM – 10 PM. RSVP on Facebook

Wizard World Anaheim Comic-Con in the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim (duh), Orange County, Friday through Sunday. On-site tickets: $35/per day or $55 for 3-day ticket. RSVP on Facebook

Wizard Magazine runs out of magic

The year 2011 isn’t messing around. Just days after the end of one era (and see here for an addendum to that story), we’re met with another.

According to various reports Monday, comics and pop culture magazine Wizard: The Comics Magazine will cease publication effective immediately. Sister publication ToyFare has also been discontinued. Both now join the ever-growing list in the much theorized death of print newspapers and magazines. (Magazine Death Pool has yet to come out of retirement for this.)

While Wizard, which debuted in 1991, faced more than its share of criticism and derision (Frank Miller famously ripped up an issue during a keynote speech in early 2001), plenty of it I think justified, the magazine was easily the most high profile coverage of mainstream North American comic books in its heyday. For a while, the magazine was so successful, it outsold most of the comic books it covered. In the late 1990s, I knew several people who had given up reading comics for whatever reason, but still read Wizard Magazine so they could keep tabs on what was going on. During a time when comics had otherwise vanished from newsstands, it was the industry’s only mainstream and most accessible presence.

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Liked Iron Man? Be a Hero and Help Out

So, how ’bout that Iron Man movie? Pretty cool, huh? You bet it was!

It’s, like, totally over 90% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. It MUST be awesome.

It is so totally the best superhero movie ever in the history of ever since ever first started.

Way.

Yeah, it was tons of fun. You know what’s not fun? Liver failure.

Sorry, I know. Bummer seque.

Sadly, one of the comic book artists that made Iron Man so memorable for hundreds of thousands is suffering. His name is Gene Colan.

Yes, yes. Funny last name. Go on, get it out of your system. I’ll wait.

(*snicker*)

Yes, okay, where were we? That’s right, Gene Colan.

In late 1965, Gene Colan took over drawing the Iron Man stories in an anthology comic called Tales of Suspense. He replaced Iron Man co-creator and artist Don Heck, who is credited in the Iron Man movie along with fellow Iron Man creators Stan Lee, Larry Lieber (Stan Lee’s younger brother) and Jack Kirby. Gene Colan’s time with the character proved so popular, that in 1968 the character graduated to starring in his own comic book series, The Invincible Iron Man.

Gene Colan also had a significant run of drawing Daredevil in the mid-1960s to early-1970s, but most people don’t really have fond memories of the Ben Affleck movie, so we’ll just gloss over that part. He also made his mark on Howard the Duck, which was an even worse movie, but the comics were great satire.

Anyway, on May 10th, writer Clifford Meth announced that Gene Colan was sick and because people in comics back in the 1960s and 1970s didn’t get health insurance or 401K plans or anything else beyond a simple flat rate per page, Gene and his wife are facing immense medical bills. As the Iron Man movie rakes in over $200 million worldwide, it seems a shame that some of that financial gratitude can’t be passed on to one of the first artists to portray the character. Without his hard work and talent, it’s possible the character never would’ve lasted long enough to make it to the big screen. So, if you would like to help out in some small way, there are a few ways you can help:

  1. Donate to The Hero Initiative – This not-for-profit organization exists for the sole purpose of helping establish a safety net for comic creators like Gene Colan who did not financially benefit from the success of the comics and characters they worked on. And there are many. Make a donation and ask that your contribution be directed to help out Gene Colan.
  2. Bid on a fundraising auction item – Writer Clifford Meth has begun an auction to help raise money for Gene Colan. The auction started today and includes (or will include) lots of fun stuff by Stan Lee, Harlon Ellison, Neil Gaiman, Gene Colan himself, and lots of others.
  3. Buy cool Gene Colan stuff – Marvel Comics and The Hero Initiative have teamed up to help raise money for Gene Colan. If you’re going to any comic book conventions this summer (I’ll be at Comic-Con in San Diego), be sure to look for limited edition art prints. Additional Gene Colan-themed items will be released by Marvel in August and September.

Okay, that’s my spiel. And if you haven’t seen Iron Man yet, go see it!