Meltdown Comics

Comic Books Have Heart: Hero Initiative Raises Money for Creators in Need

You might not think it, but the comics community has a big heart. One great example is The Hero Initiative, a Los Angeles-based charity that raises money for creators who are in dire straits (not the band but the financial situation). Here’s a video I put together of a special event held at Meltdown Comics this past Saturday night.

For you savvy comics folks, that’s writer Mark Waid of Kingdom Come fame yelling out “you’ve made a powerless enemy”. He and producer Tom DeSanto were probably the most generous bidders. Mike Malve of Epic Digital Media was the winner of the Alex Ross cover in the video above. The entire night raised about $15,000 for The Hero Initiative.

First Kids Comic Book Store Opens in Toronto

Little Island Comics opens for business

Little Island Comics has opened in Toronto, Ontario, and it may be the world’s first comic book store specifically targeted to children. It quietly opened this week, with a more formal grand opening planned in the near future. The store is run by The Beguiling, an acclaimed comic book store in Toronto that has been open for 25 years now.

What a smart move!

Comic books needs kids, and fortunately more educators and parents than ever have been realizing that comics are a great reading and education tool for kids. But as you might’ve noticed, some of the material isn’t exactly appropriate for younger readers. Having a store exclusively dedicated to reaching this specific demographic, parents have a peace of mind that only the right material will reach their kids’ hands. And with workshops and other events planned for the store, it should build a wonderful community that encourages kids’ creativity and imagination.

It’s also great for a retailer to get so specific and specialized. With the digital side of comics growing, stores will have to find a good reason for customers to stop by beyond them carrying as much as everything that they can fit between their walls. Because there’s no competing with Amazon.com‘s warehouses or comiXology‘s ever-deepening library. So, survival will depend on the ability to engage customers and the larger community in specialized retailing like children’s comics. Or maybe literary and art comics, and mini-comics. A unique experience will be more important and more valuable than simply having every volume of Ed Brubaker’s run on Captain America.

Meltdown Comics in Los Angeles has done a great job at this. It helps that they have a massive space to work with, which gives them a much larger selection. But they also have international comics and mini-comics and more experimental material. And most of all, they’ve become a destination for events. Stand-up comedians regularly perform there now. Popular podcasts regularly do live broadcasts from the store. An art gallery in the back displays comics art exhibits of varying themes. Workshops are held there. Every week, there are a large number of events being held there. Meltdown Comics is a venue as well as a store. They are a physical destination that gives patrons more than any online shopping can give. Other stores in Los Angeles have similarly transformed themselves but none on the scale and success as Meltdown.

I’m hoping Little Island Comics has just as much success, and helps strengthen the children’s comics market.

Full press release after the jump. (more…)

Friday is brought to you by Doggie Cuddling Kitteh

Things to do in LA this weekend:

COMEDY – The X-ecution: Final 5 Part 2! No one was voted off last week, so Kathie Bostian of the Magic Meathands returns! It’s elimination-style improv comedy with $500 and meetings with top talent agencies at stake. Find out who gets eliminated and who moves on to the next week at The Improv Space in Westwood, Friday, 8-9 PM. Tickets: $10.

COMEDY/COMICS/THEATER – The new and improved Spectacular Superhero Variety Hour at Meltdown Comics in Hollywood, Friday, 8 PM. Tickets: $10. [Interview with director Ben Dickow]

THEATER – Another production of The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged) opens to celebrate the show’s 10th Anniversary. It’s a parody of the Bard’s plays performed by 3 men in 2 hours, at the San Luis Obispo Little Theatre, Friday, 7 PM. Tickets: $25-35.

COMEDY – The improv comedy group Held2Gether does their totally uncensored show Last Laugh Saturday at the Hot Java, Long Beach, Saturday, 8 – 11 PM.

Spectacular Superhero Variety Hour saves Meltdown Comics from uneventful Friday night

Captured Aural Phantasy Theater brings their Spectacular Superhero Variety Hour to the Nerdist Theater at Meltdown Comics this Friday night, 8 PM. Tickets are $10.

I interviewed director Ben Dickow* when they had this show at the Bootleg Theater earlier in the year, and now they’ve tweaked and improved the Spectacular Superhero Variety Hour for its debut at Meltdown. Prepare yourself for hilarious performances depicting Joker and his colossal boner, Supergirl getting hazed at college and other classic stories from yesteryear that maybe haven’t aged so well. Plus musical performances and old comic book ads brought to life before your very eyes and ears.

No superhero knowledge necessary, it’s just a great time. If you don’t laugh, you’re probably dead.

*Of course, this interview entitles me to eternal bragging rights for any and all future successes enjoyed and/or obtained by Captured Aural Phantasy Theater and its members collectively and individually.

Everyone Back to 1: Thoughts and Theories on DC Comics relaunching superhero comics synched with digital initiative

Justice League #1 by Geoff Johns & Jim Lee (DC Comics) - Hitting the cosmic reset button

In a bold gamble, DC Comics announced yesterday at their own blog The Source, USA Today (part 1 and part 2), and a letter to comic retailers that they would be replacing all of their long-running superhero comic books with relaunched stories starting over at issue #1. Each issue will be released digitally across DC Comics’ multiple platforms the same day as the print version’s release, a major shift in policy that was protecting comic shops from digital competition.

Digital comics provider Comixology has confirmed via Twitter that it will be continuing their partnership with DC Comics on this new digital initiative. New issues will appear simultaneously on Apple’s iOS (iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch), the Android and their web-based DC Store, although exact pricing has not been revealed. Digital comics are generally priced at $1.99 for a standard comic book that’s been converted to their guided view digital form. Past experiments with day-and-date releases have been priced at the higher cover price of print comics, usually $2.99.

As for the books themselves, exact details of what’s changing, what’s staying the same, and who will be working on what books, are slim. More will be revealed throughout June.

What is known is that starting August 31, 2011, a brand new Justice League #1 will be released. The following weeks, it will be joined by relaunched Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and other titles. In total, DC Comics will debut 52 comic books, approximately 13 a week! The stories will feature younger versions of their recognizable heroes, redesigned by artist and DC Comics Co-Publisher Jim Lee, and are meant to be ideal for new readers.

Justice League will be helmed by Lee and DC Comics Chief Creative Officer/writer Geoff Johns. Both Lee and Johns are responsible for a lot of popular titles from DC, so it seems only natural to team them up for the comic about their premiere superhero team.

Comic Book Resources has rumors on other titles, including Superman being written by Grant Morrison, an award-winning and critically acclaimed writer that has been shepherding Batman for the last several years. He wrote All-Star Superman, a quintessential take on the iconic character, to nearly universal acclaim in 2005-2008. A previously announced new Aquaman series by Geoff Johns and artist Ivan Reis is also expected to be part of the new universe. The two had previously collaborated on successful Green Lantern stories, including the big Blackest Night event.

The question of course: Will this work? (more…)

Comics Events in LA: Week of 2/20/11

If you’re interested in finding out more about comic books and graphic novels, a great way to discover new stories is to check out a local comics event. There’s a vibrant comics community here in Los Angeles, where you can meet artists, writers, publishers, and other readers who are ready and willing to turn you on to some amazing material.

Here are some local Los Angeles events coming up that celebrate the sequential art form.

This week:

Monday, February 21 – Sunday, February 27: Henry & Glenn Gang Bang art show featuring Henry & Glenn Forever by The Igloo Tornado (Tom Neely, Gin Stevens, Scot Nobles and Levon Jihanian) and artwork by Eric Yahnker, Coop, The Clayton Brothers, Ed Luce, Johnny Ryan, Kaz and more, at La Luz de Jesus Gallery, 4633 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles 90027. Tickets: $0.

Tuesday, February 22, 7 PM – 9 PM: Writer/actor Felicia Day will be joined by some of her cast mates of The Guild, actors Vincent Caso (Bladezz), Amy Okuda (Tinkerballa), and Robin Thorsen (Clara), to sign copies of their graphic novel and season four DVD at Barnes & Noble: The Grove at Farmer’s Market, 189 The Grove Drive, Suite K 30, Los Angeles 90036. Tickets: Wristband with purchase of graphic novel or DVD starting at 9 AM that morning.

Wednesday, February 23: NEW COMICS DAY! Find your local comics specialty shop.

Wednesday, February 23, 6 PM – 9 PM: ReggiesWorld.com launch party and signing with writer/director Reginald Hudlin (Black Panther) and special guests writer Dwayne McDuffie (JLA, Static), artist Denys Cowan (Black Panther, The Question), writers Mike Benson and Adam Glass (Luke Cage Noir), musician/comics creator Ziggy Marley (Marijuana Man), actors/comics creators Eriq La Salle (25 to Life) and Rashida Jones (Frenemy of the State), and sci-fi authors Tananarive Due (My Soul to Keep) and Steven Barnes (Lion’s Blood) at Golden Apple, 7018 Melrose Avel, Los Angeles 90038. Tickets: $0.

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Comics Events in LA: Week of 2/13/11

If you’re interested in finding out more about comic books and graphic novels, a great way to discover new stories is to check out a local comics event. There’s a vibrant comics community here in Los Angeles, where you can meet artists, writers, publishers, and other readers.

Here are some local Los Angeles events coming up that celebrate the sequential art form.

This week:

Sunday, February 13 – Friday, February 18: Steven Daily‘s Gag Me With A Toon 3, the third annual art exhibit featuring local artists re-imagining and remixing classic ’80s Saturday morning cartoons, continues at Meltdown Comics, 7522 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles 90046. Tickets: $0.

Wednesday, February 16: NEW COMICS DAY! Find your local comics specialty shop.

Wednesday, February 16, 8 PM: Comics podcast Bagged & Boarded with SModcastle’s Matt Cohen and Brendan Creecy with special guests writer Marc Andreyko (Torso, Manhunter) and True Blood actors Deborah Ann Woll and Michael McMillian, has a live show broadcast at SModcastle, 6468 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles 90038. Tickets: $10.

Wednesday, February 9, 8:30 PM: The Meltdown with Kumail Nanjiani and Jonah Ray (weekly comedy show) featuring stand-up comedians Scott Thompson, Nick Flanagan, Brent James Sullivan, Ron FunchesNick Thune, and piano-pop band Don’t Stop or We’ll Die, at Meltdown Comics, 7522 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles 90046. Tickets: $8.

Thursday, February 17, 7 PM – 9 PM: A panel discussion with screenwriter Dwayne McDuffie, executive producer Bruce Timm, director Sam Liu, casting director Andrea Romano, actor James Denton (“Desperate Housewives”) and others, will occur for the screening of All-Star Superman, the animated movie based on the comic of the same name by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely, at the The Paley Center, 465 N. Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills 90210. Tickets: free for members.

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