Len Wein

Comics and Graphic Novels at this year’s West Hollywood Book Fair

10th Annual West Hollywood Book Fair

The West Hollywood Book Fair is this Sunday, October 2nd, and a good number of comic book and graphic novel authors, artists, publishers and retailers are taking part. There are plenty of panels and events, which all include signings immediately after. Here’s a look at what’s happening:

Programming:

The Comics, Graphic Novels & More Pavilion will have panels throughout the entire day. Good discussions will be held to examine how comics are attempting to diversify their readership, as well as the rise of graphic novel anthologies and young adult graphic novels. There will also be a look at comic book adaptations of the worlds of Jim Henson and a broader look at comics getting adapted to film and TV. The day is then capped off with a live podcast covering Superman’s impact on American and world culture.

11:00 am – 12:00 pm: Diversity in Comics panel. Former TokyoPop senior editor Lillian Diaz-Przybyl moderates; panelists: author/illustrator Leland Myrick (Feynman), manga editor/writer Troy Lewter (Priest, Cabin in the Woods), and writer Kimberly Komatsu (Womanthology, In America’s Shadow).

12:15 pm – 1:15 pm: The Rise of the Graphic Novel Anthology. Comedy writer Asterios Kokkinos moderates; panelists: Kazu Kibuishi (editor of Flight, Explorer), DJ Kirkbride (editor of Popgun), Nicole Sixx (contributor to Womanthology), and Michael Woods (editor of Outlaw Territory).

1:30 pm – 2:30 pm: The World of Young Adult Grapphic Novels. Lillian Diaz-Przybyl again moderates; panelists: author Cecil Castellucci (The Plain Janes), writer Deborah Vankin (Poseurs), and editor Barbara Randall Kesel (Vampire Kisses: Blood Relatives, Wicked Lovely: Desert Tales).

2:45 pm – 3:45 pm: Jim Henson and Comic Books: Putting Puppets to Paper. Writer/editor (and Henson specialist) Tim Beedle moderates; panelists: The Jim Henson Company‘s Director of Product Development Jim Formanek, writer Brian Holguin (Dark Crystal), consulting editor Joe LeFavi of Quixotic Transmedia (Fraggle Rock, The Storyteller, Return to Labyrinth), and writer Heather Nuhfer (Fraggle Rock).

4:00 pm – 5:00 pm: Comics to Screen & Back Again. Moderated by Sax Carr and Blair Marnell of Crave Online’s The Idiot Box podcast; panelists: writer/editor Len Wein (Swamp Thing, X-Men), executive story editor/writer Deric A. Hughes (Warehouse 13), and writer Sam Sarker of Johnny Depp’s production company Infinitum Nihil (The Vault).

5:00 pm – 6:00 pm: Inside the Comics Industry: Superman. A live broadcast of the Fandom Planet podcast hosted by comedians Tim Powers and Sax Carr; panelists: artist Jon Bogdanove (Superman: The Man of Steel), writer Elliot S! Maggin (Action Comics, Superman), and comics historian/cartoonist Scott Shaw! (Oddball Comics, Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew)

The Current Events & Hot Topics Pavilion will also include some comics mixed into their “traditional” book discussions. Writer Joshua Dysart (Unknown Soldier) will be one of the panelists for The Way of the Gun: Fascination & Fear in Fact & Fiction, moderated by writer Gary Phillips (Cowboys). Other panelists include novelists Naomi Hirahara (Blood Hina: A Mas Arai Mystery) and Adam Winkler (Gunfight: The Battle over the Right to Bear Arms in America).

The popular Amulet series of graphic novels by special guest Kazu Kibuishi

The Teen Stage has a live author interview with Cecil Castellucci (The Plain Janes, Janes in Love), conducted by blogger and book reviewer Chelsea Swiggett. The two will discuss Castellucci’s two graphic novels, as well as her popular young adult novels like Rose Sees Red.

Events:

Young Adult author Cecil Castellucci will also be exhibiting her collaborative narrative project Literary Diaspora at the Fair. She mails (yes, old fashion mails!) out words to visual artists and images to authors who then create something inspired by what they received. They then mail it back to her to add to the growing stories. So far comics artists Becky Cloonan, Joe Infurnari, Chip Zdarsky and others have participated. Cards returned so far will be displayed at the Fair, and visitors might even find a card in a books asking them to participate. Check out LiteraryDiaspora.com for more on the project.

Live Art with Billy Martinez – Indie comics creator Martinez will produce art at the Indie Comics Creators Booths all day long. Booth: C 19-22

How to Make Comic Books & Zines Workshop – The Indie Comics Creators Booths will hold workshops and tutorials all day long. Booth: C 19-22

Special Guests:

Cecil CastellucciThe Plain Janes and Janes in Love graphic novels, as well as YA novels Boy Proof, The Queen of Cool and Beige. Official site.
Kazu Kibuishi Amulet graphic novel series, Flight comics anthology. Official site.
Deborah VankinPoseurs graphic novel, LA Times staff writer. Twitter.

Exhibitors:

Archaia Entertainment – Publisher of graphic novels Mouse Guard, Return of the Dapper Men, Jim Henson projects like Fraggle Rock and The Dark Crystal, and much more. Booth: C 4-5
The Comic Bug – A great comic book store in Manhattan Beach. Booth: C 1-2
The Devastator – A quarterly comedy magazine with comics, funny writing and other wackiness run by editor-in-chief Geoffrey Golden (Cracked, National Lampoon). Booth: C 19-22, Table E
Eyedraugh Comics – Independent comics publisher located in Fontana. Booth: C 19-22, Table A
Neko Press Comics – Art studio, school and publisher run by La Mesa-based illustrator Billy Martinez, who will be producing live art all day long. Booth: C 19-22, Table H
OMGcow: A Comic Diary – An autobiographical web-comic by cartoonist Sheika Lugta of Long Beach. Booth: C 19-22, Table A

The WeHo Book Fair is happening this Sunday at the West Hollywood Library, which is itself having a grand opening the day before, and the neighboring West Hollywood Park, at N. San Vicente Blvd. at Melrose Blvd, this Sunday, 10 am – 6 pm.

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New to Comics? New Comics for You! 5/6/09

Never read a graphic novel before? Haven’t read a comic book in years?

Here’s some brand new stuff coming out this Wednesday (tomorrow) that I think is worth a look-see for someone with little to no history with comics. That means you should be able to pick these up cold without having read anything else. So take a look and see if something doesn’t grab your fancy. If so, follow the publisher links or Amazon.com links to buy yourself a copy. Or, head to your local friendly comic book shop.

Disclaimer: Having not read these yet (’cause this isn’t Wednesday), I can’t vouch for their quality. But, from what I’ve heard and seen, they just might appeal to you.

Public Enemy Volume 1 – $22.99
By Chuck D. & Adam Wallenta
Published by American Mule Entertainment

A must have for any true Public Enemy fan! 

To the general population, PUBLIC ENEMY is a world-famous, pioneering, revolutionary, HIP-HOP band that have toured the globe, selling hit records for over twenty years. Unbeknownst to most though, they are also members of a secret, global network of freedom fighters called the Underground Railroad, that help those in need and fight injustice, corruption and oppression wherever it may surface. 

In this first story-arc, collecting the first five issues of the hit series, our heroes must face an enemy unlike anything they have ever experienced. The evil Executives and their New World Order are about to unleash their master plan for world domination. Before they can succeed though, they must eliminate a young boy named Vincent who holds the key to their ultimate secret weapon. Unfortunately for the Executives, Vincent is a Public Enemy fan and he has sought out their help to expose the evil plans of the Executives. In a desperate attempt to destroy their enemies, the Executives devise a plan that will eliminate Vincent, Public Enemy and their Underground Railroad allies in one clean swoop as they set out to take over the world.

In this epic battle for peace and justice Public Enemy and the Underground Railroad fight for their lives and the freedom of the world, as they are torn apart, imprisoned and hunted down by the government in a desperate fight for their lives.

A hip-hop group as super-heroes? Sure, why not? It worked for KISS. (Uh, not that KISS is hip-hop.) Truth be told this type of crossover attempt in comics rarely works but there have been a couple of fairly favorable reviews. Plus its co-written by the group’s lead rapper Chuck D, which is kind of an unusual level of involvement for this sort of thing. So if you or someone you know likes their music, it might be a fun thing to check out.

walledinWalled In – $16.95
By Roger Mincheff & Denis Calero
136 pages; published by Ape Entertainment

The origin story of Malastraza, the brilliant, yet disturbed architect and sociopath in the upcoming feature film Walled In, starring Mischa Barton. In this chilling graphic novel of love, betrayal, and obsession the roots of his madness first take hold. From his humble beginnings as a precocious honor student in a Paris Academy, to his tutelage in the dark arts of occult architecture, Malastraza learns that many of the secrets upon which civilizations are built have been drenched in blood. When he is betrayed by his mentor and the woman he loves, Malastraza’s obsession to create the perfect structure leads him down a dark path where victims must be sacrificed in service of his grand vision. 

Another popular crossover angle in comics: the comic book tie-in to a new TV show, movie, video game or what-have-you. In this case the comic ties into a direct-to-DVD film, which itself is based on the French novel Les Emmurés (translated to The Trapped] by Serge Brussolo. As above, the results tend to be mixed depending on the source material and the creators involved in the adaptation, but for horror fans out there, this could be worth checking out, even if the movie isn’t getting the best reviews. At the very least, there’s some appropriately moody artwork to enjoy based on this online sample. (I’m not sure, but it looks like this can be read on its own without having seen the movie first.)

Plan 9 From Outer Space Strikes Again – $3.99
By Chad Helder, Darren G. Davis & Giovanni P. Timpano
28 pages; published by Bluewater Productions

Rated one of the worst films ever, Ed Wood’s Plan 9 From Outer Space continues as Bluewater and Legend Films tell the story of what happens after the film! Fifty years after the alien invasion unleashed the unspeakable horror of Plan 9, a corrupt team of government scientists reactivate the zombie horde in order to lure the aliens back to Earth! Their sinister plan: steal the most hideous weapon known to intergalactic intelligence. Only conspiracy theorist, Eugene, and his mother, a former professional wrestler, can expose the shadowy agenda of the government as they fight off the growing zombie horde. This time, a new alien force invades Earth: the revolutionary followers of the martyred Eros. Eugene and his mother join forces with the last remaining heroes of a corrupt government. Together, they must thwart Plan 9 once again, with all life in the universe hanging in the balance!

Well this is just silly. I guess the goal would be to be as bad as the movie? Morbid curiosity I guess, but I imagine fans of Ed Wood ought to get a kick out of this. (OK this kind of breaks my rule for this list of not having read or seen anything else but it was such an oddity I had to mention it.)

Boris Karloff: Tales of Mystery Archives – $49.95
By a whole host of talented folks
256 pages; published by Dark Horse Comics; available at Amazon.com

A circus performer terrorized by mysterious powers from beyond… a jade idol of a monkey that carries a curse on a South Pacific island drives a man to the brink of madness… an art gallery haunted by paintings that come to life at night… a dictator who sees enemies around every corner, but who can’t see the threat right before his eyes.

For nearly twenty years, the comic-book series Boris Karloff Tales of Mystery wove stories of intrigue, suspense, and macabre drama. Hosted by renowned actor Boris Karloff, the comic featured contributions from some of comics history’s most well-known creators: Alex Toth, Joe Orlando (EC artist and editor), Mike Sekowsky (Justice League of America artist), Frank Thorne, José Luis García-López, Arnold Drake, Len Wein (co-creator of Swamp Thing and Wolverine), Al Williamson, Jerry Robinson (creator of the Joker), Dan Spiegle, and many others.

* Originally published by Gold Key and unavailable for three decades, more than thirty spine-chilling stories are compiled in a new collection.

* Features a new introduction by Boris Karloff’s daughter Sara Karloff.

Classic old horror tales. A bit pricy but I bet it’s worth it.

The Eternal Smile: Three Stories – $16.95
By Gene Luen Yang & Derek Kirk Kim
176 pages; published by First Second Books; available at Amazon.com

A fantastical adventure through the worlds we live in and the worlds we create.

From two masters of the graphic novel — Gene Luen Yang (American Born Chinese) and Derek Kirk Kim (Same Difference and Other Stories) come three magical tales – 

The story of a prince who defeats his greatest enemy only to discover that maybe his world is not what it had seemed.

The story of a frog who finds that just being a frog might be the way to go.

The story of a women who receives an e-mail from Prince Henry of Nigeria asking for a loan to help save his family – and gives it to him.

With vivid artwork and moving writing, Derek Kirk Kim and Gene Luen Yang test the boundaries between fantasy and reality, exploring the ways that the world of the imagination can affect real life. 

These two award-winning creators produce great work, so this is kind of a no-brainer. If you can only buy one from this list, this is the one I would suggest you flip through first to see if it appeals to you. And it probably will. As an extra incentive, here’s a quick glimpse at this release, by way of a video by Derek Kirk Kim’s thankless assistant.

Oliver Twist – $14.99
By Charles Dickens, David Cerquiera & Philippe Chanoinat
64 pages; published by IDW Publishing; available at Amazon.com

Oliver Twist is the story of a young orphan who is subjected to ill-treatment in institutions in Victorian England. He falls into the clutches of the ghastly Fain and comes into contact with the seediest parts of London. The adventures of young Oliver are a story of fear, poverty and the darkness of the human soul.

This is the second book in a series of classic novel-to-comic adaptations this publisher has started to release. 64 pages seems a bit tight to adapt a 300+ page book, but I’d give it a try.

Pherone – $24.99
By Viktor Kalvachev, Patrick Baggatta & Jim Sink
104 pages; published by Image Comics; available at Amazon.com

Following Eve, a dangerously seductive woman on the edge of her sanity, PHERONE weaves a dark storyline filled with espionage, mystery, and suspense. Armed with a killer body and a killer’s mind, the femme fatale must hunt down clues to rediscover her own troubled past, bringing violence and danger to anyone who crosses her path.

The art looks pretty stunning. Hopefully the story matches, as this could be a great suspense/thriller. Not for kids, though.