Pledge Your Fur! The Squarriors: Summer Oversize Hardcover Goes To Kickstarter

Written by Neil Greenaway

Ghost, an assassin for the Maw. Interior from Squarriors: Summer #2.

Squarriors is a story set in a world where an unknown event in the late '80s led to the extinction of the human race, and the rise of intelligence in the other members of the animal kingdom to the human level. Flashing forward to the mid-'90s, we see that groups of the animals have formed into clans (like the Tin Kin, the Maw, and the Amoni) - each following a different code of behavior. As the varying clans vie for control of the forest, bloody warfare erupts between the different factions of this feudal society.

The first volume of the comic (Squarriors: Spring) followed the Tin Kin tribe as they tried to decide whether to face the encroaching armies of the other clans or to leave their home in search of a better place. By the end of Spring, the characters (that survive) have seen political intrigue, murder, betrayal, and redemption - and war seems imminent.

Team Ash

Team Ash

Author Ash Maczko & artist Ashley Witter (collectively known as Team Ash) and the folks at Devils Due Publishing had accomplished a truly remarkable feat - creating an independent comic series with an intricately woven story; lush, beautiful art; and high production values. The second volume of the series (Squarriors: Summer) was all set to continue expanding the lore laid out by the first book, but two major stumbling blocks kept getting in the way: time & money. Everyone knows that creators rarely strike it rich off of their passion projects, and so both Ash & Ashley have taken work on other projects - pushing the next issue of Squarriors ever farther away. Which brings us to the new Kickstarter.

In an attempt to raise the funds for the final two issues of Squarriors: Summer (#4 & #5), Team Ash has teamed with DDP and Cold War INC. (the company behind the Squarriors TCG) to launch a crowdfunding campaign with some interesting rewards for fans of the comic series and the card game. The new offerings include enamel pins, a Squarriors stor-folio, KS exclusive variant cards for the Squarriors TCG, and the Squarriors Vol.2 Oversize Hardcover. Join us as we take a closer look at the campaign! Pledge Your Fur!


First, the new Kickstarter video (starring Ash, Ashley, and John Neuls & Matt Reynolds from Cold War INC.). The book looks awesome, and the skit made me laugh out loud.


A “hard no” to a music video? Oh well. Let’s have a peek at the rewards that you CAN get. The oversize hardcover editions of Squarriors are 30% larger than a standard trade paperback, and they are gorgeous! I have the first volume from a previous Kickstarter, and it makes a striking addition to my bookshelf. You can get either or both of them, and they come with KS exclusive variant cards for the TCG!

Both Oversize Hardcover Editions of Squarriors are available, and each comes with an exclusive TCG variant card.

You can pre-order both of the new single issues (Squarriors: Summer #4 & #5), and they also come with KS exclusive variant cards for the TCG! These would ship separately, as they were released. All of the issues are available as digital rewards as well.

Pre-Order the new issues of Squarriors: Summer….

…. or order the entire Squarriors: Summer series in single issues!

If you already have all of the single issues, then certainly you need a place to keep them. This snazzy new Sqauarriors themed Stor-Folio will hold up to 30 single issues.

The Squarriors Stor-Folio!

If you missed out on the Kickstarter for Sqaurriors: The Card Game in early 2017, you can pledge to get the retail edition of the box set here - and it comes with a KS exclusive variant King card! In Squarriors: The Card Game, you control a tribe of woodland critters engaging in violence, betrayal, and mischief. Utilizing advanced tactics, relying on a unique code of the wild, and carefully selecting creatures, playing a game is like creating your own story from the comic series. Give it a try and play online here.

The Squarriors: The Card Game pledge level comes with an exclusive variant King card.

There are pledges that will get you all of the exclusive variant cards for the Squarriors TCG.

If apparel is more your thing, there are Squarriors enamel pins and t-shirts as well! The t-shirts feature either King or the Bloody Paw design and come in sizes from S-2XL. Though the art MAY change for the pins, the concepts show Redcoat, the Bloody Paw, King, & Emperor Ra!

Both of the Squarriors t-shirts come in men & women’s sizes, S-2XL.

Pledge Your Fur by wearing Squarriors enamel pins!

I hope that this campaign succeeds. The world of Squarriors is a beautiful one and I would love to see it fleshed out further. For as epic as the story can feel, I have to keep reminding myself that the events we have seen in the series so far have all taken place in the confines of one small patch of forest - but the animal uprising is taking place all around the globe. There is still SO MUCH of this story left to explore.

You can support the Squarriors Vol.2 Kickstarter by clicking here!

You can read past interviews with Team Ash by clicking here, here, or here.

You can see more work from Team Ash at  squarriors.comcoldwar.us; or ashleywitter.com.

Squarriors: Summer #1.

Squarriors: Summer #2.

Squarriors: Summer #3.

Kickstarting the Apocalypse - Daniel Crosier talks about Camp Crash Episode 2

Written by Neil Greenaway

The Camp Crash release poster, featuring the art of J. James McFarland.

In a post-apocalyptic landscape, a group of full-grown children (who never left their parents basements) are taken to a dystopian summer camp and taught the art of warfare.

That is the basic idea behind Camp Crash, a new web-series being developed by Writer/Director Daniel Crosier and the crew at Misassembly Productions. Filming at GRACe (the Globeville Riverfront Arts Center), Crosier and his crew produced the first episode in 2017 and debuted it in late December at the Mutiny Information Cafe in downtown Denver. When asked about the main theme and production Daniel said, “We wanted to feature a secluded, unknown backdrop of Denver where we can enact our absurd, creative script - and see what magic would erupt from it.”

And now the time has come for episode 2. This time around, the Misassembly crew are turning to crowdfunding for their production and running a Kickstarter campaign. Created by Crosier, the goal for this project would be to complete the new episode with friends (both new and old) while further uniting Denver’s creative community.  Misassembly also wants to bring backers on the production’s journey through the Kickstarter campaign.  Participants will have opportunities to be on set, experience a death scene, and take part in the creative process while also partaking in collectibles.

I had some more questions about the Kickstarter campaign, the new episode, and the Camp Crash series in general - and Daniel was kind enough to take some time from his busy schedule just to appease my curiosity.


Neil Greenaway:  Can you explain the concept behind Camp Crash?

Daniel CrosierCamp Crash is a mishmash of influences like Mad Max, and Meatballs.  After seeing Mad Max: Fury Road I was thinking about what my approach to a post-apocalyptic jaunt might be.  I thought about dystopian summer camp, and since I had access to GRACe in Globeville, that is artist studios and stockyard, I decided that’d be a great setting. I wanted to make it found object, and involve my friends as much as I can to achieve something along the lines of a dramatized Burning Man gathering.

Hagar T. Mangtooth holds aloft the hand of Daniel Crosier, writer & director of Camp Crash!

NG:  What is the web-series about?

DC:  After the economic crash in ’08, kids retreated to their parents’ basements.  Some never moved back out. So the parents signed the kids up for summer camp to get them out of the house.  Along the way, one group of kids is hijacked by Hagar T. Mangtooth, camp counselor of Camp Crash, where he takes them to learn the art of warfare.  There they must fight to become camp director! The greatest of honors!

NG:  Can you tell us about some of the main characters that inhabit this world?

DC:  You have the four kids who are your guides through this terrain.  But you meet characters like Hagar T. Mangtooth, the camp counselor. Mangtooth is the surrogate father figure - or bumbling, sword wielding uncle - that you never want to have, but are stuck with. Plus the valkyrie warrior, A.R. Mas Tildun who guards the gates of Crash.  They’re all worthy of their own action figures.  The upcoming episode 2 will introduce Stu Moungus; camp director Faux Mangina; and the like of Meo Toto.  After which will be a flood gate of absurd characters.

The campers march! A still from Camp Crash episode 1.

NG:  The first episode saw the campers gathering and meeting their camp counselor for the first time. Can you tell us what to expect from the second episode?

DC:  Once they enter Camp Crash, it is the Hall of Mess time, where the locals hunt wild burritos - plus some endearing moments for the campers - layered with moments of death, combustion, blood and glitter! So, you know. Happiness!

NG:  I know that after the second episode, you want to film 9 more episodes of Camp Crash. How much of the story do you have planned out already?

DC:  The scripts are all done.  However, I treat them as a living organism and not some bible. They are  free to change drastically.  I purposely left details like locations, set pieces, costumes, and props vague so that we can utilize what we have in our limited grasp.  Limitations breed innovations.

The actors are encouraged to make their characters their own.  Create back stories.  Make their own costumes. Inform us on how their story goes. Improv on set. Very exciting stuff! Like Twizzlers!  Is it a straw or just a candy? I am here too say that it is indeed both.  Probably best not to be used as a hose for your car though.

NG:  A lot of the characters in Camp Crash are played by Denver local artists, and you have several more involved on the production side of things. How did you bring this group together?

DC:  You’re right. They are friends or started out as friends of friends.  We have a wonderful family unit.  There is nothing I wouldn’t do for these cute boogers! With that, it is all about networking.  They enjoyed the material. Saw that it could be a fun fever dream. Off we went.

Hagar T. Mangtooth threatens Kid 2 in Camp Crash episode 1.

NG:  Does everyone work well together?

DC:  Indeed.  I think so.  I think there is a large family element. Episode 1 was a hilarious time in front of that camera and behind.  Lot’s of food and planning! I did not want to waste anyone’s limited time.

NG:  You had said that the actors were encouraged to create their own characters and supply some of their own props - that must add a chaotic, mismatched aesthetic to the series. Did that add any challenges to the production?

DC:  Yes. To expand on what I mentioned. They were able to inform the script, and how things were shot.  I might be the writer and director, but with a group effort like that I welcome when my cast and crew pitch new ideas.  I don’t have all the answers.  I would suppose that could be perceived as arrogant if I did.  I wanted to create a safe space to share ideas.  Truly make it a team effort!  With that, yep, the script was always changing.  The other scripts for the future episodes continue to change.

NG:  Several of the high-end backer rewards for this campaign feature opportunities to be a part of the filming process. Do you think it will be fun seeing fans interact in a real way with the project they are funding?

DC:  I think they’ll have a blast.  They might have paid to play.  They are a larger component for us to get to the finish line and beyond.  We are open to have them be part of the family.  I think that is one way to strengthen the creative community both locally and globally. 

With the state of politics and the world reshaping the way that it is, I feel we need to open our hands and homes because we’re all in this together.  So let’s have fun making art and more importantly an endearing mess.  Camp Crash, baby!


Hagar T. Mangtooth (played by Allan Elijah Cutler) in the new Camp Crash Kickstarter video.

Along with Daniel, the cast of the new episode already includes Denver actors Allan Elijah Cutler (seen in the KS video), Ashley Frary-Lutz, Kelly Shortandqueer, Bonnie Finley, Craig “Pepper” Deluca, and Amanda Armstrong.  Behind the scenes, Camp Crash has Ryan Policky as the director of photography and editor, with music from The Limbs and Little Fyodor. Misassembly co-producers Pete Roskop, Gerhard Ka’aihue, Elise Sargent, and Quddus Ajimine (alongside a local support system of family and friends) were also involved.

Crosier reflected on one of his favorite moments during filming, saying,  “I had a fantastic time working with my remarkably talented friends creating this absurd world as truck drivers passed by scratching their heads at what was transpiring in front of them. Good ol’ family fun!”

The Camp Crash Episode 2 Kickstarter ends on August 10, 2018. Look in on their campaign, watch the video, and support this humorous new web-series if you can!

To learn more about Camp Crash and support the project, click here.

To read another interview with Daniel Crosier, click here.

To learn more about Misassembly, click here.

Also, the version of Camp Crash episode 1 that appears at the end of the Kickstarter video (seen above) is the edited cut. To see the NSFW version (contains full frontal nudity) click here.

A.R. Mas Tildun is greeted by Hagar T. Mangtooth in Camp Crash episode 1.

A Walk Around the Denver Zine Fest 2018

Written by Neil Greenaway

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The Sunday of June 24th, 2018 saw the return of the Denver Zine Fest to the McNichols Building in downtown Denver. Put together by Kelly Shortandqueer and the Denver Zine Library, the Zine Fest is a one-day celebration of 'zines, self published comics, and the local art community. Hosting 90+ different artists and vendors, the Zine Fest's offerings covered an amazing array of topics and genres - superhero parodies, political manifestos, day-in-the-life diaries, and high fantasy. Kelly was set up with all 18 issues of his Shortandqueer 'zine. Adri Norris had her line of Women Behaving Badly books and art on exhibit. Jake Fairly had the vest and glove to match his This Is Heavy Metal books. And Zak Kinsella had his Doodle Fight championship belt proudly displayed.

The Denver Zine Fest 2018 entrance banner.

Denver Zine Fest 2018.

Kelly Shortandqueer at Denver Zine Fest 2018.

Adri Norris at Denver Zine Fest 2018.

Jake Fairly at Denver Zine Fest 2018.

Doodle Fight champion Zak Kinsella at Denver Zine Fest 2018.


Lonnie MF Allen (art director at Suspect Press) was there with his award winning mini-comic Delineate. Lonnie also did the poster art for Denver Zine Fest 2018!

Lonnie Allen at Denver Zine Fest 2018.

Denver Zine Fest 2018 promo poster by Lonnie Allen.


J. James McFarland had a table full of his self-published books. I picked up the latest issue of Maize (his 1920's adventure comic), 2 issues of politik (his political 'zine), and a copy of his new Zines About Hoarding poster "Hoarding: How To Be the Best At It!". Of course, I already own every issue of the Zines About Hoarding series.

J. James McFarland at Denver Zine Fest 2018.

A poster about Zines About Hoarding by J. James McFarland.

Politik: Paradigm by J. James McFarland.

Politik: Detention by J. James McFarland.

Maize #3 DCC 2018 Preview Edition by J. James McFarland - featuring Lights Out (written by Deanna Destito).


Karl Christian Krumpholz had a small set-up where he was sketching and selling his 30 Miles of Crazy comics. I was also able to pick up a huge (14"x17") Hellboy commission that Karl had been working on for me. He created a beautiful piece of original art!

Karl Christian Krumpholz drawing silly faces at Denver Zine Fest 2018.

A Hellboy commission done by Karl Christian Krumpholz.

Karl Christian Krumpholz making silly faces at Denver Zine Fest 2018.


Ted Intorcio was at the show with a selection of the independent comics and zines put out by Tinto Press. I bought a copy of RM, a new graphic novel from Josh Bayer. I had never seen Mr. Bayer's work before, but his art was beautiful and drew me right in to the book.

Ted Intorcio of Tinto Press at Denver Zine Fest 2018.

RM by Josh Bayer from Tinto Press. (front cover)

RM by Josh Bayer from Tinto Press. (back cover)


Daniel Crosier and Elisa Sargent were sharing a table at the Zine Fest. Daniel had his comics and art out for sale, while Elisa was there promoting her upcoming series with artist Laurissa Hughes - When Baked Things Attack! Daniel also has a KickStarter running right now for the second episode of his web series Camp Crash! I picked up one of the promo posters from Elisa and one of the CopSquatch mini-comics (illustrated by Daniel).

Elisa Sargent & Daniel Crosier at Denver Zine Fest 2018.

A When Baked Things Attack! promo poster from Elisa Sargent & Laurissa Hughes.

CopSquatch mini-comic by Allan Elijah Cutler & Daniel Crosier.


Thane Benson was there with his Burnt hardcover and a batch of his hyper-detailed posters and prints. I bought all three issues of his Quick: The Clockwork Knight mini-comics.

Thane Benson at Denver Zine Fest 2018.

Quick the Clockwork Knight #1 by Thane Benson.

Quick the Clockwork Knight #1 by Thane Benson.

Quick the Clockwork Knight #1 by Thane Benson.


Wanderweird had a table where he was selling his psychedelic stickers, prints, and hand-painted video game medallions. I got a copy of his mind-expanding book, Remember.

Wanderweird at Denver Zine Fest 2018.

Remember by Wanderweird.


Zac Finger was at the Denver Zine Fest promoting the Tucson Zine Fest and his spread included 'zines from a variety of Arizona creators. I bought several books made by Zac and several more from Tucson artist Adam Yeater.

Zac Finger at Denver Zine Fest 2018.

Zac was in Denver promoting the Tucson Zine Fest.

One Last Day Mini-Comic by Adam Yeater.

The 9th Art, cover by Adam Yeater.

One Last Day Mini-Comic by Adam Yeater.

Cinderella II mini-comic by Zac Finger.

Paradisiac Beings by Adam Yeater.

Super Back To the Future 2 by Zac Finger.

GMO Corn Park mini-comic by Zac Finger.


Cori Redford had her full display out including her 'zines, her Dungeons After Dark coloring book, her conspiracy chart, and (of course) a selection of her dick art. I picked up both issues of her Denver Deviations zine, her 24 Hour Monster Party mini-comic, and Open At Your Own Risk (her book of dicks). 

Cori Redford at Denver Zine Fest 2018.

An Incredible Hulk button from Cori Redford.

Denver Deviations #1 by Cori Redford.

Denver Deviations #1 by Cori Redford.

24 Hour Monster Party by Cori Redford.

Open At Your Own Risk by Cori Redford.


Charlie La Greca was the man behind the table for the Denver Independent Comic & Art Expo (or DINK!). DINK always has a cooler full of free comics for kids, but at this show Charlie also had the two issues of Environmental Justice Chronicles that he co-wrote and illustrated.

Charlie La Greca strikes a pose behind the DINK! table at Denver Zine Fest 2018.

Environmental Justice Chronicles Book 1: Mayah's Lot, written by Charlie La Greca & Rebecca Bratspies with art from Charlie La Greca.

Environmental Justice Chronicles Book 2: Bina's Plant, written by Charlie La Greca & Rebecca Bratspies with art from Charlie La Greca.


Neil Ewing had a table with a spread full of self-published comics and bootleg toys. I got 5 new books full of his comedic goodness: The Ballad of Peaceways, Peaceways Returns, The Tomb of the MeatBeast, Solar City 4: Redux, and his newest book Freaky Chili. I was only recently made aware of Neil's work, and I am loving what I have seen so far. 

Neil Ewing at the Denver Zine Fest 2018.

The Ballad of Peaceways by Neil Ewing.

Freaky Chili by Neil Ewing.

The Tomb of the MeatBeast by Neil Ewing.

Peaceways Returns by Neil Ewing.

Solar City 4: Redux by Neil Ewing.


There were some free copies of The Philadelphia Secret Admirer floating around the Zine Fest, and I grabbed a few issues. I had never heard of the cover artist (Rachel Pfeffer) before, but these covers intrigued me. You can see more of her work at her store, Rainbow Feather.

The Philadelphia Secret Admirer #2, cover by Rachel Pfeffer.

Denver Zine Fest 2018 entrance.

The Philadelphia Secret Admirer #3, cover by Rachel Pfeffer.

A Walk Around Wizard World Des Moines 2018 - With Cosplay & Convention Gallery

Photography by Maia Parish

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Wizard World Comic Con Des Moines 2018 took place June 1 - 3, and Nerd Team 30 was there to cover it! In a collaboration with the Mother F**ker In A Cape podcast and Parish Media LLC, we sent R. Alan Brooks and Maia Parish to Iowa for the weekend to see what they would think of their first Wizard World convention. They came back with a bunch of photos and reported that the convention - while on the smaller side - still managed to spotlight comics, creators, cosplay, and art. Be on the lookout for interviews from Mr. Brooks with Nichelle Nichols, Charisma Carpenter, Lisa Berry, Papa Bear Cosplay and more in the coming weeks.

Below are two galleries of pictures taken at Wizard World Comic Con Des Moines 2018. The first is a walk around the convention - showcasing some of the vendors, creators, and other sights around the con floor. The second is a collection of some of the amazing cosplay that was on display during the weekend.


A Walk Around the Convention

The HyVee Hall, home of Wizard World Des Moines 2018.

R. Alan Brooks, covering the convention for Nerd Team 30!

Mike Watson stands with Vigilance at Wizard World Des Moines 2018.

HotShot comics by Mike Watson.

Vigilance & Mike Watson at WWDM 2018.

 

Brad Jones showing off his latest movie, Jesus, Bro! at WWDM 2018.

Brad Jones (aka the Cinema Snob) at Wizard World Des Moines 2018.

 

Lloyd: Case Files From Season 1 - a cartoon based on Brad's cat.

Ren McKinzie at Wizard World Des Moines 2018.

Artist Ren McKinzie at WWDM 2018.

We asked if we could take this photo. I swear. The art of Ren McKinzie.

Zac Atkinson at Wizard World Des Moines 2018.

 

Zac Atkinson standing with his art at WWDM 2018.

The Teen Titans drawn by Zac Atkinson.

Chris Holmes (aka Inner Demon) at Wizard World Des Moines 2018 (1).

 

Some of the art from Inner Demon at WWDM 2018.

The art of Chris Holmes (Inner Demon) at WWDM 2018

Chris Holmes (aka Inner Demon) at Wizard World Des Moines 2018 (3).

Chris Holmes (aka Inner Demon) at Wizard World Des Moines 2018 (2).

 

Some more of the art from Inner Demon at WWDM 2018.

The Wizard World Des Moines 2018 VIP bag.

I think the pink one in the middle is dead...


Cosplay Photos

Remember, Cosplay is Not Consent.

Cosplay at Phoenix Comic Fest 2018 - Over 150 Photos

Written by Neil Greenaway

The Phoenix Convention Center.

Nerd Team 30 was able to attend Phoenix Comic Fest 2018 - and the Phoenix cosplay community was out in full display! With a combination of the security threats last year at Phoenix Comic Con 2017, the steep ticket price increase at the re-branded Phoenix Comic Fest 2018, and the ever-present Phoenix heat, I had worried that the turnout this year might be a little lacking in terms of cosplayers - but I was wrong. The costumes being worn were no less interesting, imaginative, or intricate than they have been in years past. There were some changes to what was worn, most notably the lack of prop guns or military characters. This must have affected the Arizona chapters of the 501st and the Mandalorian Mercs, neither of whom had their normal large presence at the show. While the big Star Wars cosplay groups were definitely missed, their absence did allow more of the singular characters a chance to shine. So take a stroll through the convention with us as we present a gallery of over 150 cosplay photos from the Phoenix Comic Fest 2018!


All photos taken by Neil Greenaway, Roberto Martinez, & Todd Jones.


Phoenix Comic Fest will be back in 2019 as Phoenix Fan Fusion!

Phoenix Comic Fest will be back in 2019 as Phoenix Fan Fusion!

Victim Blaming for Fun and Profit - Cosplay & DCC

The line to enter Denver Comic Con 2017.

The line to enter Denver Comic Con 2017.

            Hi, I’m Roberto. I helped create the Denver Comic Con. I worked with its founders shortly after its conception in 2010. In the years leading up to the convention I helped create fundraisers for the Comic Book Classroom (a charity associated with the con, since renamed the Pop Culture Classroom) and assisted in the creation of the convention’s ever-awesome Team Cosplay. All of this culminated in my serving on the now-defunct steering committee in the con’s second year. During this time the national comics convention scene was being rocked by a precursor to the #MeToo movement in the form of a community-wide backlash against harassment.

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            Before I go further let me paint the scene for 2013: stories of harassment went viral and people in power were being held accountable for failing to institute appropriate measures to protect patrons. Or worse, covering up for known predators. Or worse still, being outed as predators themselves. Sounds awfully familiar, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, just like in Hollywood and Washington in the years that followed, con harassment had been going on for ages before it was finally addressed. In response, we (Team Cosplay) insisted that Denver Comic Con institute an anti-harassment policy.  I wrote the document with assistance from the rest of the steering committee and approval from Team Cosplay.

            In the intervening five years, the comic convention community has done good work fighting harassment; but going by the numbers there’s still a lot of work to be done. An alarming amount of horror stories still go viral every con season. I think of the widely-reported ones in the same way I think of cockroaches: for every one you see there are a multitude that go unnoticed. As stated by Andrea Ayres in the linked Comics Beat article, “Abusers hide in plain sight. Harassers rely on the silence of those around them and societies prevailing sexist attitudes. They take advantage of weak reporting mechanisms and the culture of shame and fear that surrounds sexual abuse.”  In response more cons are embracing anti-harassment policies, more people are speaking up about what they’ve encountered, and reporting mechanisms are getting stronger and stronger as a result.

            Working on DCC’s anti-harassment policy, I ran into some problems when trying to deal with the steering committee’s prevailing attitudes. It wasn’t just sexism that was a problem (though that’s a huge component), but also an attitude that harassment is sometimes justified. The problem stemmed from some of the older staff who did not understand costuming, cosplayers, or the culture that had made them a force in the geek world.  For the most part this didn’t create much friction because they accepted that they just didn’t understand that part of geek culture – and besides, we had an entire team dedicated to handling the cosplay aspect of DCC, so they didn’t have to give it much thought.

            These same people were on board when we wrote protections against catcalling, groping, and lewd advances; they all agreed these actions were wrong. They wanted to make sure our patrons knew we stood against this behavior and would protect them as best we could. But when we got to the specifics of what we considered harassment, some of the more ugly attitudes accompanying their lack of understanding with cosplay showed up. At one point a person in the upper echelons of convention management laid down their feelings to me on the subject in writing:

People suck and say mean things, and everyone knows this; from the schoolyard to the grave, we have to cope with assholes. Do I like the fact that this is the world we live in? Nope, but I also don't squeeze my fat ass into spandex and walk around a massive convention; if I did, I would expect ridicule because I'm inviting it. And if I chose to do it anyway, I'd have the thick skin necessary to shoulder the criticism. When you dress in a costume, whether it be skimpy or not, you are asking for the attention of everyone around you and implicitly asking the question about how you look. When you ask such questions, you should not expect to hear only answers you like. If you don't want commentary on your body, then don't welcome commentary. Have the backbone to take whatever the assholes will say or wear a tee shirt and jeans and shut up about it.
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            There are going to be some of you who ask, “What’s wrong with this statement?” So I’m going to tackle this one piece at a time.  First and foremost, when you wear anything, regardless of its being skimpy, eye-catching, good looking, bad looking, a costume, or normal everyday clothing, etc., the only time you’re asking for a commentary is when you’re actively saying, “Hey, what do you think of my outfit?”  This applies at all times, even if a person is wearing something to get attention. For instance, if you were attending Swan Lake would you yell “That tutu makes you look fat” from the audience? If you went to Cats would you yell “F**kin’ fake cat-guys, I bet they’re just pretending to like felines to get instagram followers” to the performers?  (If the answer to either of these questions is “yes,” please take a good hard look at your life and the choices you have made up to this point.) Obviously performance and cosplay are different[*] but the basic idea applies equally to both art forms: just because someone is in an eye-catching outfit/costume doesn’t mean they’re inviting commentary.

[*] In costume contests the two definitely overlap.  Also, trivia, the term "cosplay" was created by Nov Takahashi and does not involve skits, just dressing up in costume. (Special Thanks to Becca Feiner for that)

            This doesn’t mean that commentary is universally frowned on, of course. Overall I’ve found cosplayers love to talk about their costumes, the characters they’re choosing to embody, and every minute detail of what went into the blood, sweat, and tears of crafting.  If you want to talk to them about that, strike up a conversation by all means. But if you want to say something remotely negative about the costume, it damn well better be polite and constructive -- and I’d still say think thrice before you open your mouth. The only valid excuse I can think of to say something negative without reservation is when someone is literally dressed up as a Nazi or something similarly stupid and/or evil.

            Barring that, if you feel the need to voice your discontent with their costume or with the way it looks on the person wearing it, my big question is why? These costumes are labors of love that the crafter, regardless of skill level, probably put countless hours into. You don’t have to laud praise on a person just because they’re in costume, but please keep quiet if you’re not into it.

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            Going back to the fat aspect, please apply the same logic to commenting on fat people’s appearance both in and out of costumes. If you feel the need to comment on a fat person’s appearance relating to how you think they ought to lose weight, be ashamed, or wear a more modest outfit, kindly keep that shit to yourself and consider that this too is none of your damn business. Additionally, as a fat dude, I’ve got to say that wearing a t-shirt and jeans has never shielded me from unwelcome comments on my body, so I’m not sure why that’s supposed to be a valid solution to dealing with negative commentary. So, with all due respect, I’d like to invite the assholes who are actually the problem to stop vomiting their running commentary on all that they see 24/7 like snot-nosed toddlers who have no concept of what rude is.[**]

[**] You’re not “just being honest” when you just say random hurtful shit to strangers. You’re bullying.

            I hate the idea of someone with these attitudes dictating the con’s policy. I trust damn near everyone at the ground level of DCC to do their best to defend the con’s patrons and deal with any gross behavior they might encounter. But were any incident to require someone higher up the chain of command to pass judgment, I shudder to think what verdict they might render.

            It’s been five years since I received the email I quoted above. I hope that in the intervening time the author has changed their opinions and views on the subject; but I’m not optimistic.  We need to demand better from our leadership in every aspect of American society from top to bottom, in geek life, politics, the entertainment industry, the service industry, the custodians union, the chicken-plucker’s guild, everything. And if the current leadership isn’t willing to learn, change, and do better - then I hope they have the good grace to move aside so we can continue down the roads they’ve blocked for too long.

6 Comments

Roberto Martinez

Roberto Martinez was born and raised in the city of Denver, Colorado. He writes in a variety of forms including comic scripts, screen plays, stage plays , nonfiction, fiction,  and poetry. He worked to help create the Denver Comic Con and continues to contribute to the Denver Independent Comics and Art Expo.  He’s been active in the industry for eight years, starting with a supernatural western called Boot Hill.  More recently he was in the anthologies Dinopocalypse and  Cryptids and Cogs.  In 2016 he won Sigma Tau Delta’s award for Best Short Play submission for A Quarterlife Crisis Inspired by Connery and Lennon and went on to stage three short plays called Life Lessons which can be viewed on YouTube.

Bottoms Up: True Tales of Hitting Rock-Bottom - An Anthology About Our Darkest Hours

Written by Neil Greenaway & Cachet Whitman

Bottoms Up: True Tales of Hitting Rock-Bottom (2017), front cover by Ben Passmore.

Bottoms Up: True Tales of Hitting Rock-Bottom (2017), back cover by Danny Hellman.

"I've lost some close friends and family to addiction. Watching them lose the struggle has made me feel frustrated, impotent, anxious, angry and depressed, so I can only imagine how they felt. "Bottoms Up" is my attempt to humanize addiction through real stories told by actual addicts."
J.T. Yost in "A Word From the Editor"

In May of 2017, Birdcage Bottom Books (an independent publisher out of New York)  held a Kickstarter for a new anthology graphic novel called "Bottoms Up - True Tales of Hitting Rock-Bottom". The campaign described the book as:

"...an anthology collecting real stories of bottoming out from alcoholism, drug dependency, sex addiction, body dysmorphia, pornography addiction and more. These stories have been adapted into comics by a team of incredibly talented and diverse cartoonists."

The idea behind the book was simple: addicts from all walks of life were asked to contribute stories of the time that they hit rock bottom. The stories could be credited or anonymous (at the authors discretion). These were then handed off to different artists who added pictures to the words and created a "graphic story". I hesitate to say comic - as not everything in this anthology is necessarily a comic, but they are all powerful examples of graphic storytelling.

The list of artists involved with the project includes several stars of the indie comic scene as well as several people that I had never heard of (but was glad to discover). Some of the artists to participate were:


- Josh Bayer

- Haleigh Buck

- Kevin Budnik

- Josh Burggraf

- Max Clotfelter

- Peter S. Conrad

- Nate Doyle

- Rachel Dukes

- Chad Essley

- Mike Freiheit

- Tatiana Gill

- Danny Hellman (back cover)

- Jordan Jeffries

- Gideon Kendall

- Victor Kerlow

- Brendan Kiefer

- Karl Christian Krumpholz

- Sara Lautman

- Lizz Lunney

- Daniel McCloskey

- Chris Monday

- Fred Noland

- Adam Pasion

- Ben Passmore (front cover)

- Simon Petersen

- Summer Pierre

- John Porcellino

- Gillian Rhodes

- Matt Rota

- Kevin Scalzo

- Holly Simple

- Karl Stevens

- Michael Sweater

- Meghan Turbitt

- Noah Van Sciver

- Elaine M. Will

- Jess Worby

- George Wylesol

- Adam Yeater

- J.T. Yost

Sweaty Booze Husk pg3, drawn by Jordan Jeffries

That Summer, Way Back pg1, drawn by Matt Rota


The crowdfunding was successful and ended up earning $3,075 more than the intended goal. My copy arrived in early October.

Also from the kickstarter campaign:

WON'T IT JUST DEPRESS THE READER?
I won't sugar-coat it: There are a lot of harrowing stories included in BOTTOMS UP!, but I've tried to balance it out with some levity (every addict has got at least one funny story). Both the story-tellers and the cartoonists adapting their stories are a diverse group, so there is a natural variance in both tone and style.

The Big Chicken pg2, drawn by Max Clotfelter.

I have never dealt with REAL addiction. I have seen it in my family members and my friends - bosses and co-workers - but it was always several steps removed from me. I toyed with hard drugs for a while after high school, but got out before there was any real damage done (I heard a comedian recently call this being "White-Boy Addicted"). So when it came time for me to discuss Bottoms Up: True Tales of Hitting Rock-Bottom, I found myself lost when looking for the right words to use. These stories are powerful, beautiful, and graphic - but they also touch on pieces of the human experience that can be uncomfortable to talk about even for those who have lived them. And for those who have never found the bottom as it is described here, such depths can seem unreachable.

In an effort to see the feelings behind these stories a bit more clearly, I reached out to five of the creators who worked on the anthology: two who had adapted an anonymous story (Karl Christian Krumpholz and J.T. Yost) and three who had chosen to illustrate stories from their own lowest points (Adam Yeater, John Porcellino, and Noah Van Sciver). I asked all five of them the same two questions:

1. How did you come to be a part of the anthology?

And

2. Why is the subject of addiction important to you?

After I spoke to the creators, I reached out to my friend Cachet Whitman - an amazing artist who has been very open about her own struggles with addiction - to see what she thought. Here is what they had to say.


Adam Yeater

1. I harassed J.T. enough so that he finally said he would put me in. I also bribed him with kickstarter giveaways.

2. I have battled with addiction in some form or another my whole life. Whether it be food, drugs, love, collecting junk or even making art. We are all junkies for something.

Adam wrote and drew the story "Gateway Drugs" in the anthology. You can see more of his work on SmackJeeves, Facebook, or the One Last Day store.

A few panels from Gateway Drugs, written & drawn by Adam Yeater.


Noah Van Sciver

1. J.T. Yost asked me if I had any comics or a story about the worst time of my life. I immediately thought of 2012 when my life fell apart and I had to move in with my mom and her cat Marigold. It was the end of a 6 year relationship and all I could do was think of suicide.

My comic is about a night in particular during that period when I had lost my mind and went to a club to see a local band play their farewell show just hoping to see my ex there but instead feeling like everyone hated me.

2. Doesn't really apply to me since addiction wasn't a part of my story.

Noah wrote and drew the story "Marigold" in the anthology. You can see more of his work at his blog or at Kilgore Books & Comics.

Marigold pg1, written & drawn by Noah Van Sciver.


John Porcellino

1. J.T. asked to me to be a part of it, he needed a few pages to fill it out, and I suddenly had a quick one pager spring to mind, so I whipped it up for him. I don't often contribute to anthologies.

2. My comic is not about addiction, just about the lowest point of my life, which I documented in my recent comic "South Beloit Journal" from Uncivilized Books. I was twice divorced, heartbroken, alone, and living in winter poverty in a gritty small town in Northern Illinois. It seemed an appropriate memory to serve up for J.T.'s anthology.

John wrote and drew the story "Imaginary Cat" in the anthology. You can see more of his work at his Patreon page or at Spit and a Half.

A few panels from Imaginary Cat, written & drawn by John Porcellino.


Karl Christian Krumpholz

A few panels from 86'ed: His Last Drink, drawn by Karl Christian Krumpholz.

1. I first found out about the anthology through Kickstarter. Since the subject matter about addiction, drinking, etc sometimes plays a part in my own comics, I was interested in the project and donated to the Kickstarter fund. There was already a list of cartoonists that were to be a part of the anthology, so I had thought that the book was complete. It was only when J.T. (the editor) announced that additional artists had joined the anthology that I reached out to him to ask to be included. 'An Introduction to Alcohol' (my latest comic) had just come out, Birdcage Bottom Books was carrying it, so J.T. already knew my work and how I dealt with the subject matter. When I reached out, he was literally putting together the TOC. My addition to the collection got in just under the wire. I am very happy to be included.

2. Well, the idea of addiction, especially alcoholism, does seem to creep into my work. It was one of the driving forces in my relationship with my father, which I explored with 'An Introduction to Alcohol'. Also, it's a fact of life about living in the city, which I deal with in my weekly '30 Miles of Crazy!' comic. A lot of my stories do start in bars, and like most things in life, there is a dark side of the culture. I see it all the time: people not knowing where the line is, starting some sort of obnoxious drama, and getting tossed out. The story that I did for Bottoms Up! is a true story that I literally saw played out before me over months. I know the guy in the comic and one of my bartender friends described the situation perfectly. These characters on the street are also often our friends and sometimes, you have to know when to step in and cut them off for their own good.

Karl drew the story "86'ed: His Last Drink" in the anthology. You can see more of his work on Twitter, Instagram, or his website - KarlChristianKrumpholz.com.


J.T. Yost

Shot Thru the Heart pg4, drawn by J.T. Yost

I think I can combine both of those questions, if that's ok:

Although I am not an addict myself, I do have family members and close friends who suffer from various addictions. I have lost both family and friends to drugs and alcohol. I see Trump and the current administration paying no more than lip service to a serious epidemic of addiction in the U.S., and I think it's a subject that needs to be addressed.

Although there is less of a stigma attached to addiction than there was in the '30s when Alcoholics Anonymous was founded, I think it's safe to say the majority of those fighting addiction still feel a certain amount of shame in admitting to their struggles. After being moved by hearing countless stories of hitting rock-bottom by my friends and family, I thought comics would be a perfect medium to tell these stories and humanize what addicts go through in coming to terms with their addictions and, hopefully, keeping them in check. I collected stories in several ways: I asked friends & family to share their stories with me, I solicited through social media, and I set up a website to which people could anonymously send in their stories. Once I'd collected and transcribed these stories, I reached out to a curated list of cartoonists and asked them to pick a story that resonated with them to adapt. The cartoonists were also free to tell their own stories if they were themselves addicts. I asked that the writers remain anonymous (even if the artist was also the writer) to ensure there would be no repercussions, and so they would feel free to be honest and forthcoming.

J.T. drew the stories "Shot Thru The Heart" and "Down The Hatch" in the anthology as well as putting the project together and editing the final book. You can see more of his work at Birdcage Bottom Books, Facebook, or Tumblr.


Cachet Whitman

Rock bottom is a place that, for several years, I became very intimate with. I was a heroin and meth addict. However, it neither started nor ended there, and there are often other variables that can bring a person to rock bottom. I had a boyfriend for a while, to whom I later lost my virginity, and we stayed together for just over three years. I was too naive to notice that he had an agenda for my life: to control every aspect of it. Over time he groomed and manipulated me, and all the common things that come with psychological abuse. Being with him was my first introduction to any drug. While he convinced me that marijuana and psychedelics are generally harmless, he was able to get me hooked on hard drugs, and heroin quickly became our top priority.

Rock Bottom pg2, drawn by Lizz Lunney.

Through heroin, he lost a lot of his inhibitions and became much more violent and psychologically abusive. During the latter half of our relationship I was beaten, raped, literally brainwashed, forced to do horrible things against my will, driven to ruining my business and subsequently destroying my online reputation, and cut off from all contact with the outside world. I was essentially held captive. The worst of it happened when we were homeless, after we had drained all of our money on drugs and got evicted from our home. When I miraculously escaped from him later on, I finally weaned myself off of heroin, but went straight to meth full-time. I went through nine living situations and street-homelessness twice in just two years. Not a single one of those situations was safe. I endured constant emotional and physical abuse just to keep a roof over my head. Most of the people who let me stay with them were older men, and every time it was a case of biding my time until they were fed up with me and gave me an ultimatum: sex or the streets. I chose the streets each time (although I would not blame anyone for choosing the former). Through being so broke and homeless I had no choice but to quit meth. I had to focus on surviving. Fortunately, as I distanced myself away from drugs, the living situations I found myself in became less and less terrible and I landed myself where I am now -- a place I couldn’t imagine being any better, despite living with Complex PTSD.

This book touched a really deep part of me, and from the moment I started reading I simply couldn’t put it down. I can’t express how much it means to me that there is a book dedicated to the experiences of reaching absolute lows and suffering at the hands of addiction. These are difficult topics to discuss, and these are the things that have a difficult time reaching conversation. I’ve always felt a bit silenced because these sorts of things are deemed too “uncomfortable” to talk about. They may be disturbing, but the dark world of addictions and suffering is happening constantly around us, whether we like it or not. This book made me feel so validated and I’m utterly grateful for it. I hope it can make others who have experienced or are experiencing similar predicaments remember that they are not alone, and perhaps it can give hope and understanding to those who are less familiar with these topics.

Cachet is an artist working out of Denver, CO. To see some of her work, you can look to her Tumblr or her DeviantArt page.


This book will obviously mean different things to different people. I saw this as a powerful collection of cautionary tales - warning of the possible wrong turns a life can make. On the other hand, Cachet saw this book as a light at the end of a dark tunnel - recognition that the path she traveled was taken by others. The fact that we came away from the book with different takes on the meaning started a conversation between us that might not have happened otherwise.

The original printing of "Bottoms Up" has long been sold out at this point. However, after winning Best Anthology at the Denver Independent Comic & Art Expo's annual Dinky Awards - the book is headed back into print. You can pre-order a new printing of "Bottoms Up: True Tales of Hitting Rock-Bottom" on the Birdcage Bottom Books website, with new copies expected to ship out in August of 2018.

Whiskey-A-No-Go pg2, drawn by Gideon Kendall.

The 2018 DiNKy Award for Best Anthology/Collection goes to Bottoms Up!

Tearing Yourself Down pg2, drawn by Kevin Budnik.

Comment

Cachet Whitman

Cachet Whitman grew up in California, but now happily resides in Colorado. She started doing freelance illustration at sixteen and has been making a living out of it ever since, but wants to spread her horizons in comics and other professional avenues.  Hardworking and efficient, she has done artwork for hundreds of clients all over the world. Having worked with so many different clients, she specializes in variety and will draw just about anything you throw at her. She just really, really loves to make art.

Avengers: Infinity War - A Spoiler Free Review

Written by Patrick Fitz-Gerald, Esq.

The Avengers: Infinity War (2018) Movie Banner.

The Build-Up

What would you wish for if you could have anything? More wishes? All-encompassing power over everything in the universe? The return of Planter’s Cheeze Balls? How about the instant death of half of everything?

I tell you what I would wish for: A Marvel movie system so good and so successful that one day I could go see a big screen version of The Infinity Gauntlet. Well, thank the Magus, I don’t need a genie or a monkey’s paw or even a weird metal glove, cuz I am getting my wish this Friday!

That’s right, after 10 years of build up, Marvel has assembled every single actor in the world to make the 2nd most expensive movie of all time: Avengers Infinity War.  I personally, could not be more psyched. (Note: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides was the most expensive. Also note: Ben Affleck is not an actor).

Avengers: Infinity War (2018) illustrated poster.

Let’s start with what we know: There’s these rocks that do stuff, and if you get them all you can do pretty much anything. Thanos, who is bad and purple, has been trying to collect ‘em all like some kinda Poke-man for a long time. With the hippin’ and the hoppin’ and the bippin’ and the boppin’. Now, too many of these rocks are on Earth for Thanos NOT to come here, so he got some baddie buddies together and booked a flight straight for the small blue dot we call home. When he gets here, he is going to grab a quick Cinnabon and some Aunt Annie’s pretzels (‘cuz that’s what Earth is famous for) and do some jewelry shoppin’.

Thankfully for Earth, the number of superpowered, magic or super-smart people has multiplied rapidly since 2008, so we MIGHT be ready for whatever Thanos has got up his non-existent sleeves. Also, Hawkeye is here too. Just in case Thanos has never come across a bow and arrow before.

Here’s what I think is going to happen in the movie: Thanos arrives and goes on Reddit: “I am Thanos, AMA.” Somewhere in the thread, DM_me_purple_dicpix reveals where all the stones are. Thanos asks politely for them. They are given to him, because he promises to build a big, beautiful space wall to protect us from aliens like him, and he leaves. Then, 2 hours of intense shawarma-eating wrap this thing up before the mid-credits scene reveals the upcoming Star Wars crossover: Yoda v. Rocket Raccoon!  

Infinity Gauntlet (1991) #1.

Shit, I’d probably still love it.

Seriously though, I remember reading the comic Infinity Gauntlet as a kid and thinking about how great it was to finally just see the worst case scenario play out. You know, we never get to see what happens if the worst of the worst actually succeeds in getting ultimate power? What a great idea, right? I mean what would happen if one of those James Bond super-villains was actually able to irradiate the gold supply at Ft. Knox? What then?

Well, then Trump got elected and I learned that I would MUCH rather pretend that everything is awful, but that there are pretend superheroes who will save us, than actually experience everything being awful in a world where there are no superheroes to save us. I don’t know, maybe Hawkeye is real, but I don’t think he can do it on his own. Not without a lot more arrows.

Anyway, the fun of this should be the question: what happens when evil becomes all-powerful? Well, it ain’t good. And that means there is going to be plenty of work for the 20-odd superheroes, gods and tree-people who fight evil. Frankly, this may be the only downside I can think of: there are just too many damn people in this movie. Unless maybe you kill half of them off right away. Then the remainder can get together and all spit up into new and fun groups for us to watch interact (Dr. Strange and Wanda take an acid trip to the astral plane? Cap and Teen Groot in a Bucky costume? Hulk and Drax come to Colorado for 4/20? Team Green, Assemble!)

Two things we know for sure: 1) this movie will make a ton of money for the Mouse House and 2) It will set up Phase 4 and another decade of Marvel movies. So if you are like me, and I know I am, you had better save your nickels and dimes, you are going to need them!


The Review

The Heroes take the front line in the battle for Wakanda.

First of all, you should know that any review of this particular movie is going to run the risk of spoilers, just because it’s that kind of movie. Some of the things that happen in this movie are unexpected and shocking, and others are obvious payoffs of long simmering subplots. It becomes impossible to discuss the movie without talking about how those paid off or didn’t and how surprising it was or wasn’t.

Dr. Strange, Tony Stark, Bruce Banner and Wong witness the arrival of the Black Order.

So let’s just answer the first question: should I see this movie? Yes. And you should see it on the big screen and before anyone spoils it for you. If you have liked any of the Marvel movies, there is something here that you will love. And like I said, a lot pays off in this movie and there is a lot you might not see coming. What about my kid, should I bring her? Maybe if she’s a little older. It can be quite shocking. Disturbing, even. I was going to bring my 6 year old (because I am a lousy parent), and I am glad I didn’t. I’ll show it to her when I inevitably buy it in a few months, but in our home, where she can run out of the room or hide under the covers. And ask questions. There will be so many questions.

Because there is A LOT happening in this movie. If I have any complaints, it’s this. There are a few breaks in the action to explain things to us, or let us take a breath, but mostly this movie is wall to wall things happening to all 24 main characters. Now that we have three, we know what an “Avengers” movie is like. They are big. They combine the disparate parts of the MCU. They don’t focus on just one person.  Yes, this means that some of our favorite characters’ arcs seem abbreviated, and some of the new characters don’t really get the development they should, but if these sacrifices were made in order to make this the biggest, richest, end-all be-all of Marvel movies, it probably was a good call. If you wanted to slow this thing down, it would be 4 hours long. And by now we all know that if you want more of any character, you have to go to a movie where their name is in the title.

Spider-Man, Iron Man, Drax, Star Lord, and Mantis contemplate the destruction.

While there has clearly been a Marvel formula since we saw Tony don the Mark I ten years ago, these movies have also had a fairly wide range of tones. It is in the blending of these tones that A:IW succeeds the most. Thor: Ragnarok was one of the jokiest and lightest in tone of Marvel’s movies, and that tone blends well here with the tone of James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy. Similarly, we see the Cap and Black Panther complement each other, and the mentor/mentee-with-a-mouth relationship of Iron Man and Spidey. Somehow all of these get mixed in with a base layer of sadness and PTSD to make for a very lighthearted travel through the seven circles of hell.

There has been much made about Marvel’s villian problem: they just aren’t as interesting as their heroic counterparts. I think the Phase 3 movies have made great strides to reverse this, and I think Thanos shows even more improvement. He is the bad guy, but like Killmonger or the Vulture, we get inside his head a little and understand why he does bad things. Maybe we don’t agree with it, but it makes some sense. And considering he is a purple giant who is all CGI and motion capture, it would be really easy to make him unknowable.

I know to compare the DCEU and the MCU isn’t really fair, but this film just feels so much more natural than the contrived Justice League. Does anyone even remember who the bad guy was or what he wanted in that one?

I could tell you all about all the stuff that happens and give you my comic nerd explanation of it all, but there are already thousands of those out there. Just know for now that you have to go see this, and that things always seem the darkest right before the end credits scene.

Thanos wields the Infinity Gauntlet.

Rocket Racoon and Mantis watch over Thor.

A Walk Around the Denver Independent Comic & Art Expo (DINK!) 2018 - With Over 100 Photos!

Written by Neil Greenaway

The weekend of April 14 & 15 marked the celebration of the third annual Denver Independent Comic & Art Expo (or DINK! for short) - and I was once again reminded why this is my favorite convention to attend every year. The meeting of minds between so many different facets of comic creation is an awesome and inspiring sight. There were long-time creators that have dedicated their careers to independent characters. There were members of the early underground comix movement. There were creators who work steadily for the Big Two comic companies, but whose roots in (and love for) independent comics are obvious. And mixed in among them were creators and artists from every walk of life, with diversity and representation clearly being on the forefront of the show-runners' minds.

Joe Kelly at the Alamo Drafthouse.

The show started for me on the evening of Friday the 13th - always a good night for a movie. DINK had brought out Joe Kelly as a guest of the show, and the Alamo Drafthouse was hosting a viewing of his new movie I Kill Giants with an audience Q&A afterwards. I grabbed my complimentary bunny ears and movie poster and headed in to the theater to find my seat. The film was touching and weird, with an emotional ending. When Joe took the stage, he seemed genuinely pleased to be there - and the audience was enthusiastic to speak with him. I will have a full review of that evening up soon.

The McNichols Civic Center.

The actual convention started on Saturday morning with everyone setting up at the McNichols Civic Center, located right in the middle of downtown Denver. The expansion that the show has undergone in the past year was evident from the first steps in the door. The aisles were a bit tighter than last year, and the whole place looked a little more crowded - but the show has grown to include over 250 exhibitors spread across the three floors of the building. That number is up almost 100 tables from last year.

Here is a gallery showcasing just a sample of the many creators who were on display and representing independent comics!


Erin Nations was there with the four issue series Gumballs from Top Shelf. Meanwhile, half a table away, David Espy & Alex Delia of Puncture Press show off copies of their comic - Eyesis the Untouchable. Also, they are clearly plotting something...

Erin Nations hides while David Espy & Alex Delia pose at DINK 2018.

Eyesis #5 from Alex Delia & David Espy.

Gumballs #1, #2, #3, &#4 from Erin Nations.


Be Kind, Rewind from Ron Ruelle - front cover.

 

Ron Ruelle at DINK 2018.

Be Kind, Rewind from Ron Ruelle - back cover.


Bob Conway, a Denver local comic book printer known for his quality printing and quick turnaround, was selling mini-comics and indie books that his company has printed through the years.

Bob Conway at DINK 2018.

Independent and Mini comics from Bob Conway.

Bob Conway at DINK 2018.


Artist Gerhard Kaaihue had a table displaying his comics and art, as well as a new project combining the talents of several Denver local artists and the dancers of the Clocktower Cabaret Burlesque.

Gerhard Kaaihue at DINK 2018.

The Clocktower Cabaret Burlesque project, with a cover by Gerhard Kaaihue.

 

Gerard and author Todd Jones engage in... we'll call it lively debate.


I stopped to talk with the folks at the FIne Ok Press table, who were there with their book Arro. Jay Peteranetz is a staple of the convention scene here in Denver, and he introduced me to his tablemate - Ms. Reilly Leeds. Both of them have books out now from Action Lab. Kenton Visser was looking tired set up next to Mark Stack (who may very well be hiding under the table).

The ladies of Fine Ok Press at DINK 2018.

Jay Peteranetz & Reilly Leeds share a table at DINK 2018.

Kenton Visser shares a table with Mark Stack (who is not in the photo).


Josh Trujillo was set up selling his new hardcover Love Machines and issues of the Dodge City series, but I walked away with a copy of his graphic novel looking at Adventure Gaming - Death Saves.

Josh Trujillo at DINK 2018.


John Hopkins and Red Team Go Colorado were on hand selling their books, while Jerianne Fulton had her enchanting dark arts on full display.

John Hopkins at DINK 2018.

Colton Muheim, Wynn Green, & Terry Schayes of Red Team Go! CO.

Jerianne Fulton at DINK 2018.


CreepHouse Comics was set up with Kevin Gentilcore manning the table. This was the first show in a while where Kevin had left prints out entirely and only sold books, and he was pleased with the results.

Kevin Gentilcore of CreepHouse Comics at DINK 2018.

CreepHouse Comics Stickers!

Krush McNulty from CreepHouse Comics.


Kaitlin Ziesmer, Mallory Hart (malloryhartart.com), and Aubrie Van Zandt (Van Zayton Arts) were all set up to sell for the weekend.

Kaitlin Ziesmer at DINK 2018.

Mallory Hart Art at DINK 2018.

Aubrie Van Zandt of Van Zayton Arts at DINK 2018.


Oil Can Drive and Exit 6 creator Sean Tiffany had his books in both trade paperback and single issue formats.

Sean Tiffany at DINK 2018.

Oil Can Drive trade paperback and sketchbook, by Sean Tiffany.


Daniel Crosier had an assortment of his original art (drawn on blocks of wood) for sale along with his comics. Terry Schayes and Colton Muheim were promoting their new indie comic distribution company - Comics Conglomerate. Jay Sternitzky & Mateo Cantu were both representing Paper Dreams Productions this year with art and books for sale.

Daniel Crosier at DINK 2018.

Wynn Green (of RTG!CO) stands with Terry Schayes and Colton Muheim at DINK 2018.

Jay Sternitzky & Mateo Cantu at DINK 2018.


Phil Buck & Tim Santos were behind the Those Shadow People table selling copies of the Those Shadow People comics as well as vinyl from their band Fresh Hats Tight Beats.

So Many Things from Fresh Hats Tight Beats.

Phil Buck & Tim Santos of Those Shadow People at DINK 2018.

The Thread from Fresh Hats Tight Beats.


Just because a convention specializes in independent comics does not mean that there is no place for comic vendors. A handful of Denver local comic shops - like I Want More Comics - were present to make sure back issues of our favorite indie books were available.

Sean Anderson of I Want More Comics at DINK 2018.

Hardcovers from I Want More Comics.

Back issues at DINK 2018, including a Shannon Wheeler mini-comic.

Back issues at DINK 2018, including early Jules Feiffer books.


Stevie Rae Drawn and Jacquelyn B.  Moore had their art out on display, while Thea Jovie Hunt was celebrating the release of her first comic book - Amelia! (it sold out by the end of the show).

Jacquelyn B Moore & Thea Jovie Hunt at DINK 2018.

Amelia! from Thea Jovie Hunt.

Stevie Rae Drawn at DINK 2018.


James O'Barr, the creator of The Crow, had a table where he was selling his prints and original art. The best deal at the booth were the stories of his time in the industry, though. And those were free.

James O'Barr at DINK 2018.

A commission from James O'Barr done for me at DINK 2018.


Good Chemistry is a dispensary in Denver that teamed up with DINK to provide a weed tour for VIP ticket holders. They also had a booth giving away free lighters with painters creating a marijuana themed mural on a large canvas.

The Good Chemistry booth at DINK 2018.

Good Chemistry was giving out free lighters and S.T.A.T.S. books.

The Good Chemistry painting at DINK 2018.


Rafael & Kristina Maldonado-Bad Hand had a table with their partner Kevin Butcher. Rafael had a new issue of his book Pilla, Kristina was selling her Lakota playing cards, and the baby made sure that things stayed cute.

Kevin Butcher with Kristina, Koda, and Rafael Maldonado-Bad Hand at DINK 2018.

Pilla from Rafael Maldonado-Bad Hand.

Some of the card designs for the Lakota Playing Cards, from Kristina Maldonado-Bad Hand.


Ztoical had prints and art out for people to browse through, while Laurissa HughesAmanda McManaman, & Alex Lupp all had books on display for the attendees to see. 

Laurissa Hughes & Amanda McManamanat DINK 2018.

Ztoical at DINK 2018.

Alex Lupp at DINK 2018.


Laser Party had a table where they were busy selling comics, t-shirts, and pins - but I was taken in by the original art of Joe Oliver off to the side. I bought a whole bunch of it.

A Witchy Lady from Joe Oliver.

 

Joe Oliver, Elijah Taylor, Sam Grinberg at DINK 2018.

A zombie head from Joe Oliver.


As a long-time artist for the groundbreaking Cerebus series, Gerhard was one of the most talked about guests at the convention. Both he and his wife greeted everyone who stopped by the table with a smile, and they were generous with their time and their stories. I hope to see them out here again.

Gerhard and his lovely wife at DINK 2018.

A commission of Cerebus from Gerhard.


Matt Kindt had some serious aviator shades to go with his booth full of comic goodies, Bryan Irwin was set up at a table demonstrating his new video game, and Jesse Dubin was out representing his company - 8th Wonder Press

Matt Kindt at DINK 2018.

Bryan Irwin at DINK 2018.

Andrew Middleton & Jesse Dubin at DINK 2018.


Carolyn & Chaz Kemp were set up at a table and selling his art and copies of her books (which he also illustrated).

Carolyn & Chaz Kemp at DINK 2018.

The art of Chaz Kemp.


Neil Ewing can always be counted upon to have some weird mini-comics on hand, but at this show he had also printed out the various layers of a photoshop file onto acetate - letting you really see and study how he used each layer to build the whole. I had never seen a book quite like it.

Neil Ewing's trading card stand's in for an actual photo of the man.

PeaceWays Returns from Neil Ewing.

A physical photoshop file, from Neil Ewing.


Microcosm Publishing had their full spread of books available, the Denver Public Library had a table set up to make custom buttons for kids, and Matt Verges had unique skate decks bearing his art for sale.

Microcosm Publishing at DINK 2018.

The Denver Public Library at DINK 2018.

Matt Verges at DINK 2018.


Amber Padilla had new mini-comics available for the show, the Art Order was selling copies of their graphic novels, and Jeremy Lawson & Jen Hickman were looking fabulous (did they really need to be doing anything else?). 

Amber Padilla at DINK 2018.

The Art Order at DINK 2018.

Jeremy Lawson & Jen Hickman strike a pose at DINK 2018.


Pepper & Bill DeLuca of Peppercopia Publishing were debuting the newest issue of there series - Side Stories of Camp Lake Kikipapi.

Pepper & Bill DeLuca at DINK 2018.

Campfire Stories of Lake Kikipapi #1 & the new issue Side Stories of Camp Lake Kikipapi from Bill & Pepper DeLuca.


Pidge had a table covered in issues of her series - Infinite Wheat Paste, the Talbot-Heindl Experience had several issues of their Bitchin' Kitsch 'zine for sale, and is Press had a full spread of 'zines and artbooks available.

Pidge at DINK 2018.

The Talbot-Heindl Experience at DINK 2018.

is Press at DINK 2018.


Creating both the badge art and the program art for DINK this year, Heather Mahler had a large display selling her art, prints, and stickers.

Heather Mahler at DINK 2018.