Emerald City Comicon Day 2

On Saturday, we got up early in the morning because our friend Anna was going to meet us at our place before we left for the con.  Anna only got tickets for Saturday, but this was her first con, and she didn’t really know what to expect.  Comic conventions are awesome and crazy wonderful, but they can also be chaotic, crowded, and overwhelming, so I have to give props to anyone willing to brave it for the first time!

Once we got there, we quickly picked up Anna’s badge, and then went up to the main hall by escalator again skipping the packed line to get into the showroom.  This time there was also a line to get on the elevator, though not nearly as bad.  What WAS bad were the convention center representatives, who I guess hadn’t really talked to the people running the con or something?  They didn’t seem to know how the line was supposed to be organized, or didn’t know how to handle the crowd, but they were just randomly screaming at people to go here, then go there, then you can’t be hear, contradicting each thing they wanted us to do with the next, and being very unpleasant about it at the same time.  So naturally, the crowd completely ignored them, which just made them more angry.  But then they started letting people into the top floor, and the line moved away from the convention center reps anyway.

For day two, we started by going to the “Wil Wheaton Vs. Paul and Storm” panel, which I guess is actually a show that they tour.  Paul and Storm are a musical/comedy duo I was not very familiar with, but Ellen was.  I was just figuring on going to see Wil Wheaton’s panel on Sunday, but Ellen really wanted to see this one too, and it was very much the right choice.  Their show was quirky and histerical.  I’ve always known Wil Wheaton was good public speaker, but he does stand up (I guess the show could be considered stand up?) very well, and played off Paul and Storm nicely.  Plus, I got to see the greatest 36 seconds on the internet (just google “kitty sail” and laugh…. and be sure to watch WITH music).

After that the three of us tooled around the show room a little bit, got a quick bite, and made our way down to the gaming area for a panel on Wil Wheaton’s web show, Tabletop.  Wil wasn’t their, just the producer of the show, but he was very informative and gave us a lot of background and behind the scenes info on the show.  He also gave us lots of suggestions on running our own game nights, and talked about what kinds of game were good for different situations, and what kinds worked well for episodes of the show (as well as what kinds didn’t).  While he couldn’t out right say it, he STRONGLY suggested the first season will be coming out on DVD in the not too distant future.  Then of course he took the opportunity to plug International Tabletop Day.  He told us all about what the day was supposed to accomplish, how to participate, suggested using the #tabletopday hashtag on twitter as much as possible, and the like.  Being a fan of the show, it was pretty cool!

After eating a real meal, we headed back to the show floor to check out the artists and booths.  One of the things that’s awesome about Comicon is just seeing all the artists there, signing autographs, talking to people about there work, and often drawing sketches for people (usually for a price, but what do you expect?).  We’d looked around the show floor before but this was really the first extended amount of time we’d spent there.  Then, I bumped into my old DM, Seth!  This is the second ECCC I’ve run into him, and it was great to catch up.  I have been too busy to play in his campaign for a while now, so this was fun!  At one point when we were on the show floor I found the booth for Working Class Villains.  They are a group of independent artists that produce action figure inspired works of art.  They had an incredible 3D representation of the dungeon of Castle Grayskull on display that you can actually look up online (they have it for sale on their website).

Our last panel of the day was Gillian Anderson.  I used to be a big X-File fan back in high school, and Ellen has recently become a fan herself, so we were kindof excited.  Well…. she’s certainly aged well.  She’s not really red headed anymore, but as beautiful (if not more so) than she was during the show.  But that’s really all I can say in favor of the panel.  She was a pretty terrible public speaker.  Nervous, flighty, talking a lot without really saying anything.  I guess she did have some bizarre questions to deal with (one young lady told her that Skully was her role model, and was Ms. Anderson familiar with Skully and Mulder slash fiction?…. yuck)  Her best moment was the last question where the guy just rambled on for 10 minutes until she pantomimed handing him a joint.

After this, I we went down to the bottom floor of the gaming area to try a few games.  We started with a few games of Tsuro, which is one that was featured on Tabletop.  It’s very light weight, and quick (you can play a game in 10-15 minutes) and will definitely be featured at our Tabletop Day game night.  We followed this up with a strange little game called Dungeon World.  At this point we were trying games brought by the Seattle Story Games group.  Story games are RPG’s that are more narrative based then character based, and often are played without a Game Master.  Dungeon World seems as though it tries to split the difference between more mainstream RPG’s (sharing a large amount of DNA with D&D specifically) and the more indie type story games.  While it does have a GM, it has a number of mechanics meant to help drive story, and give a greater amount of narrative control to the players.  I am not sure what I think of it.  Conceptually I like the idea, but one play through, though enjoyable, was not enough for me to decide how successfully it hit its goals.  After that, we played a lovely little game called Zombie Cinema.  This one was a full fledged story game, proudly showing it’s indie roots.  It’s a GMless RPG where the players ultimately build a Zombie movie from the ground up.  Intriguingly, and unlike just about every other Zombie themed game I have ever heard of, the point is not to get your player to survive, but to build the best zombie movie possible.  As such, getting killed in the game can actually be viewed as a GOOD thing!  I still need to play it a few more times to get a real feel for it, but I think I just might be in love with this game.  And it comes in an old fashioned video cassette box, how awesome is that??  (I’ve already ordered a copy, and will post a full review ASAP!!!)

Well, that about wraps it up for day 2!  I can’t believe how much we did over the weekend.  Up next, Day 3!

Review: He-man and the Masters of the Universe issue #1

I know MOTU isn’t for everyone, but I grew up with the toys, the cartoon, and comics.  I first started collecting the toys when I was in the hospital as a 3 year old after my burn accident.  Apparently (though I don’t remember it) one of the times they took me out of my room for one of my treatments (which were unpleasant to say the least) balling I screamed at my dad that I wanted Beastman.  Why I screamed that, I don’t know, but he got me the Beastman action figure, and almost everyone who came to visit brought me a He-Man figure of some sort.  I built up a nice little collection of them!  Since then the toy company has periodically tried to bring them back, The New Adventures of He-Man in the 80’s, a new cartoon, toy and comic in the early 00’s, and now they have a line of “collectors” action figures, and starting the 4th of July, a brand new comic returning to there original publisher, DC comics.  It has a bit of competition, as I thought the 2002 comic was hands down the high point for the franchise.  So how does the new comic stack up?

Well, first I’ll look at the art.  Often art can make or break a comic, and in this case it’s very hit and miss.  It’s not terrible, but it’s not consistent either.  There are a few gorgeous pictures of Beastman in the issue, including one really stand out splash page.  The art however changes from one panel to the next, and some pictures are real angular and lacking detail.  The first couple pages (the dream sequence) are out right terrible.  Another thing to note is the redesigns on the characters.  Some of the colors are changed, some have new oddly segmented armor, and almost all of them seem to have random patches of scale mail armor added, and all I can say is WHY?  If you are going to do redesigns, at least do GOOD redesigns (see the 2002 comic).  It’s no surprise that the best picture in the book is Beastman who’s design unlike the rest is almost unchanged.  On the the plus side however, the cover is spectacular, and about as iconic and quintessential He-Man as you can possibly get.  If only the rest of the book had stuck stayed on par with the cover and the pictures of Beastman.  A few small bits I did like, the basic design of “woodsman” Adam, and the brief look we get of his father (apparently Randor??  though I could be wrong)  Oh, and the COMPLETE over haul of Teela into a generic blond in a metal bikini?  Are you KIDDING ME?  What lame brain came up with that?

Now, onto the story, which ironically, can ALSO make or break a comic.  While it is nothing stand out here, we’re on much better footing then the art.  The basic gist is that at some point, Skeletor won, and somehow erased everyone’s mind, leaving Adam thinking he’s a lowly wood cutter with no memory of being He-Man.  This starts to change however when he has dreams of his former life, and sees a mysterious falcon in the woods.  This spurs him on a sort of self identity quest, and he attempts to leave his forest, only to run into Beastman who is apparently supposed to prevent him from leaving– battle ensues!  Nothing complicated, and not great, but it does have a sort of classic fantasy feel to it, and better, it allows a reader to follow Adam and discover the world of Eternia for the first time through his eyes, making this extremely accessible to someone new to the world.  Apart from that though, this is just a small piece of the story, and I can’t give a more detailed and thoughtful review until I’ve read a few more issues, and get a clearer picture of where they are going.  Over all a solid, if not exactly stellar opening to what COULD be a very promising story.

Final Grade – 3.5 out of 5 stars