Star Trek autographs and New York Comic Con swag

There were so many comic book creators, publishers, vendors and other guests at New York Comic Con this year. Michele and I tried not to spend too much money, or buy too many things, because we’re on a budget, plus there’s only so much you can fit into a one bedroom apartment.

One of the major highlights of NYCC for me this year was meeting actors Anson Mount and Melissa Navia from Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.

I’ve been a Star Trek fan since I first watched the original series in reruns on Saturday evenings at 6 PM on WPIX Channel 11 when I was a kid in the early 1980s. As a long-time Trekkie, I really enjoyed the first season of Strange New Worlds. It was very cool to meet Anson Mount and Melissa Navia, who both did great work on the show. Mount and Navia really made the time to greet all the fans such as myself. I’m definitely looking forward to season two.

I purchased the first Quad trade paperback from publisher Sumerian Comics, formerly known as Behemoth Comics. Quad is a very well done post-apocalyptic dystopian anthology series by South American creators Aluisio C. Santos, Diego Sanches, Eduardo Ferigato and Eduardo Schaal.

I also purchased the John Carpenter’s Tales of Science Fiction: Twitch graphic novel from Storm King Comics. This one is written by Duane Swierczynski, drawn by Richard P. Clark and lettered by Janice Chiang. It was cool seeing both Clark and Chiang at NYCC again.

Last year at NYCC we met creator Sara Richard in Artist Alley. Michele really enjoyed her artwork, so this year she purchased Richard’s book The Dead Hand Book: Stories from Gravesend Cemetery.

As I mentioned in my last blog post, I bought a copy of Empty Graves: 31 Horror Portraits by Dave Fox at NYCC. Fox really knocked it out of the park with these spooky illustrations.

I also got the Forbidden Planet variant cover for Sweetie Candy Vigilante #1 published by Dynamite Entertainment. Artist Jeff Zornow, writer Suzanne Cafiero and editor & art director John Cafiero were doing a signing at Forbidden Planet NYC on Thursday evening after the show.

Michele bought a copy of Highball #2, published by Ahoy Comics, from artist Fred Harper. She also got the NYCC convention exclusive cover to Godzilla vs. Mighty Morphin Powers rangers from the IDW Publishing booth as a gift for me.

Finally, I bought Michele one of the absolutely adorable Purritos from Uncute. I was tempted to also get one of those eerily cute Tentacle Kitty stuffed animals. Maybe next year.

Michele and I both had a lot of fun at New York Comic Con, and as you can see we picked up some cool stuff at the show.

New York Comic Con 2022 Artists Alley spotlight

New York Comic Con 2022 was held on October 6th to 9th at the Jacob Javits Center in Manhattan. It was an exhausting but fun experience. One of my favorite parts of the convention was once again Artists Alley, which featured a large, diverse selection of comic book creators.

Here are some of my favorite creators who I met at New York Comic Con this year. I have included links to their work, so you can check them out for yourself.

One of the great things about NYCC is it gives you the opportunity to meet creators who are visiting from outside of United States. I’ve been enjoying the work of Italian artists Marco Santucci and Maria Laura Sanapo over the past few years for DC Comics and other publishers. I’ve been interacting with them on social media, so it was definitely nice to actually get to meet them.

In my mind Dan Jurgens is one of the definitive, all-time great Superman artists. I loved his work on the character in the late 1980s thru the mid 1990s. He also did very good work on Captain America for Marvel Comics and the Image Comics series Common Grounds. It was a pleasure to finally meet him and be able to let him know how much I have enjoyed his work.

It was good to see The Hero Business creator Bill Walko at NYCC again. He’s got a really fun art style. The Hero Business is such an enjoyable series. If you haven’t read it yet then I highly recommend ordering the upcoming The Hero Business Compendium to be published by New Friday Comics, the creator-owned division of Lev Gleason Publishing.  The Compendium will be a 472 page book in oversized graphic novel format collecting the complete ten year The Hero Business saga and is scheduled for release next month.

It’s also always good to see artist Russ Braun at comic cons. He’s a genuinely good guy and a talented artist, having drawn the classic Batman storyline “Venom,” War of the Gods and Fables for DC Comics, as well as regularly collaborating with writer Garth Ennis on a number of projects, among them Battlefields, The Boys and Jimmy’s Bastards.

Not to sound like a broken record, but it was also great to see Andrew Pepoy again at NYCC, back for the first time since before the pandemic. He’s an amazing artist and a good person. Andrew has a few advanced copies of this long-awaited new The Adventures of Simone & Ajax book Lemmings and Tigers and Bears! Oh, My! at the show. I’m looking forward to receiving my copy in the mail soon.

Alex Saviuk and Keith Williams were the art team on Web of Spider-Man from Marvel Comics when I was in high school in the early 1990s. I really enjoyed their work on the series. I don’t know if it was coincidence or design, but they ended up sitting next to each other in Artists Alley, so I wanted to get a photo of the two of them together.

Lynne Yoshii has a beautiful art style. I first discovered her work on the great Gotham City Garage series. She since drawn stories for several DC Comics anthology specials. I’m looking forward to reading the recently released Nuclear Power graphic novel from Fan Base Press that she illustrated.

Bought a copy of Empty Graves: 31 Horror Portraits by Dave Fox which contains some incredible, creepy artwork. Dave Fox has been working on a series of horror portraits over the past few years, and it’s nice to have them all collected together. He really knocked these out of the park, capturing the spooky, eerie essence of some of horror cinema’s most iconic villains & monsters.

These were just a few of the talented creators at New York Comic Con. It was an enjoyable show, and I’m grateful I had the opportunity to attend it.

Comic book reviews: Satan’s Prep

It has sometimes been commented that high school is hell.  It can certainly be a very unpleasant experience; I can attest to that firsthand.  But eventually you do get out of it.  However, what if high school was literally Hell?  That is the premise of Satan’s Prep, a graphic novel written by Gabe Guarente and illustrated by Dave Fox, Luis Chichon & Tricia Van den Bergh.

Satans Prep cover

Trevor Loomis is an apathetic individual drifting through his teenage years.  He has led an unremarkable, underwhelming life.  Then one day, while plugging his guitar into a defective amp, he is electrocuted.  Through some sort of bureaucratic error his soul is sent to Hell.  There he is set to spend an eternity attending St. Lucifer’s Academy for the Hopeless and Damned, aka Satan’s Prep.  His fellow classmates are other teenagers who died before their time, as well as various adolescent demons.

The torments of Hell are visited upon the human students of Satan’s Prep, courtesy of both the devil-spawned faculty and the demonic teenagers, who are the jocks and bullies of the afterlife.  Guarente’s story is rather like John Hughes meets Clive Barker.  This is a very dark comedy.

Trevor becomes the unlikely inspiration of the human students, who regard his stoicism & indifference in the face of the torments of the damned as “badass rebel defiance.”  Trevor, however, thinks he knows better:

“I don’t have the heart to tell Steve and the other guys the truth. That what they took for rebellion was really cowardice in disguise. Or, if not cowardice, complacency. I was a specialist at both in my other life.”

Of course Trevor then meets Persephone Plumm, a cute Goth girl who appears to be attracted to him.  Persephone tells Steve that when she was alive she suffered from immense depression.  After running away from home she walked into the path of an oncoming tractor trailer, dying and ending up in Hell.

Satans Prep pg 33

Persephone is the first person Trevor has ever really cared about.  But she then begins hanging out with the demon jock clique headed up by Moloch, an arrangement to keep them from pounding the tar out of Trevor.  Angry, he wants to find a way to get her back.  But then Trevor’s pal Steve suggests that Persephone might not be what she seems.  Perhaps she is a succubus, a deception by Hell sent to cause him to finally snap out of his lethargy & resignation and actually care about someone or something, just so they can then snatch it away.  As Steve explains it:

“It’s genius, actually. They give you hope, only to rip it away. Much more effective than ripping you limb from limb.”

Trevor is not quite sure what to believe.  Nevertheless he cannot help but care for Persephone, and hope that she really is what she seems.  And that spurs him on to organize his fellow human students into trying to stand up to the demonic tormentors of the school.

Guarente’s scripting on Satan’s Prep is very good, darkly humorous & sardonic.  But his plotting of the story is somewhat uneven.  Scenes and events could have flowed a bit more smoothly into one another.

Guarente never takes the time to explain exactly how most of the human students ended up at the school.  Trevor is supposedly in Hell because of a mix-up in the paperwork.  A guy named Miles who was a stuck-up, spoiled rich kid on Earth is presumably there because he was a total jerk.  But the rest of the humans really seem like they were given a raw deal.  Guarente could have developed them more fully.

I also thought the ending was a bit weak. It felt like Guarente wanted to have a story that was simultaneously self-contained and that left the door open for sequels. But I don’t think he quite pulled it off as successfully as he could have.

Probably the strongest aspect of Satan’s Prep was the artwork by Dave Fox, who illustrated the cover and the first half of the book.  Fox is a really talented artist.  His characters are very expressive and full of personality.  He was the designer of the visuals for the book’s cast, and he draws them all incredibly well.  I was especially amused by his depiction of the school principal Cerberus.  The guardian of the underworld’s middle head is urbane and well-articulated, while his other two are savage and rabid.  And fitting a giant three-headed dog into a suit & tie is quite a sight.

Satans Prep pg 17

Fox’s use of gray tones in his artwork is very effective.  It definitely gives the story real atmosphere.

It’s regrettable that Fox couldn’t illustrate the entirety of Satan’s Prep.  Having the second half of the book drawn by two other artists breaks up the flow of the story somewhat, as well as results in some of the characters’ visuals being a bit uneven and off-model.

I certainly do not want to disparage the work of either Luis Chichon or Tricia Van den Bergh.  They both appear to be talented artists.  It is just that both of their styles are quite different from Fox’s work, as well as from each other.

I did like the coloring by Aya Ikeda-Barry on Satan’s Prep.  She colored almost the entire book (Matthew Petz is listed as the co-colorist on chapter three, so I’m not certain about the division of labor there).  Having Ikeda-Barry coloring the majority of the story probably gave it a bit more consistency of tone & atmosphere across the work of the three different artists than in might otherwise have had.

Oh, yeah, I wish the size of the lettering could have been larger.

Although a somewhat rough production, Satan’s Prep was still a good read, and it’s worth a look.  If there is a sequel, hopefully Guarente will take his experiences writing this and improve upon his craft.  His work shows definite potential.  Likewise, ideally a follow-up will have a single artist illustrating the entire story.