Comic CONsciousness

by Tyler and Christo Wilson

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“The great thing about the comics industry is that it’s driven by passion

…it isn’t driven by money.”

Royden Lepp, graphic novelist, The New York Times, 7/28/14

The New York Times:

Armed Animals Don’t Invent Themselves

‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ Character Creators Fight for Cash and Credit

“Like millions of moviegoers over the weekend, Bill Mantlo watched “Guardians of the Galaxy,” the Marvel Studios space adventure that sold more than $172 million in tickets worldwide in its first four days of release.”

“The film’s success is particularly meaningful to Mr. Mantlo, 62, [who watched the film from his nursing home room] a comic-book writer who helped create one of the movie’s main characters: the foul-tempered, gun-wielding anthropomorphic Rocket Raccoon.”

 

Groot holding Rocket Raccoon, who was created by Bill Mantlo and Keith Giffen, in “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Photograph from, Marvel Studios and Walt Disney Pictures

Groot holding Rocket Raccoon, who was created by Bill Mantlo and Keith Giffen, in “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Photograph from, Marvel Studios and Walt Disney Pictures

Our very own Boulevardier Brothers have something to say,

and it’s all about comics, Comic-Con, and yes! it’s Comic-Con season again…

TYLER: I’ve been investing in comic books since I was 3 years old. Before I could even read I would join Ma and my older brother Christo on the weekly trips to the comic shop, and buy them just for the trip home which was a visual universe of amazing action packed illustrations. There was always a monthly budget for books and comics in our house, our Ma encouraged all varieties of reading, and she is proud today of her, “voracious reader sons.” I favored mostly Marvel titles, like Spider-Man and Iron Man, as I got older I was drawn toward the darker imprints, particularly Vertigo and the Hellblazer books.

 

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Illustration by Tyler Wilson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inspired by artists like Tim Bradstreet (Hellblazer) and Mike Mignola (Hellboy), many of my pieces explore the blending of humanity, the occult, and technology. Del Toro on Mignola, “Mike’s body of work is firmly anchored in comic-book and literary traditions of Machen, Lovecraft, Toth, and Kirby. Yet what has been emerging from them is a species all on its own.”

 

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The REAL Iron Man, Robert Downey Jr.

 

Comic books are actually versatile tools, they can be used to articulate views on political and societal shifts, as well as being colorful escapist fantasies. It is the rare author who can successfully combine both of these into a comic that doesn’t become overbearingly self serious or run off the rails (how many times can a character come back from the dead — really?).

There are of course some seminal works: Watchmen by Alan Moore, Sandman by Neil Gaiman, The Dark Knight Rises by Frank Miller, (soon to be newly released film Sin City: A Dame to Kill For — August 22, 2014 continues his genre) that manage to not only define entirely new worlds and characters, but to a certain extent hold up a gritty and super powered mirror to some of the real world’s problems. Comics have matured over the years, from their Golden Age beginnings like the jingoistic propaganda of early Captain America and Superman, to cynical and dark dystopian tales like Warren Ellis’ Transmetropolitan or the religiously polarizing and irreverent Preacher by Garth Ennis.

 

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From the Comic-Con website:

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Comic-Con International: San Diego began in 1970 when a group of comics, movie, and science fiction fans — including the late Shel Dorf, Ken Krueger, and Richard Alf banded together to put on the first comic book convention in southern California. Comic-Con started as a one-day “minicon,” called San Diego’s Golden State Comic-Minicon, on March 21, 1970 at the U.S. Grant Hotel in downtown San Diego. The purpose of this single day, which included two special guests, Forrest J Ackerman and Mike Royer, and drew about 100 attendees was to raise funds and generate interest for a larger convention. The success of the minicon led to the first full-fledged, three-day San Diego Comic-Con (called San Diego’s Golden State Comic-Con), held August 1–3, 1970, at the U.S. Grant Hotel, with guests Ray Bradbury, Jack Kirby, and   A. E. van Vogt. Over 300 attendees packed into the hotel’s basement for that groundbreaking event, which featured a dealers’ room, programs and panels, film screenings, and more…essentially, the model for every comic book convention to follow.

From the beginning, the founders of the show set out to include not only the comic books they loved, but also other aspects of the popular arts that they enjoyed and felt deserved wider recognition,  including films and science fiction/fantasy literature. After one more name change (San Diego’s West Coast Comic Convention, in 1972), the show officially became the San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) in 1973 with the fourth annual event. In 1995, the nonprofit event changed its name to Comic-Con International: San Diego (CCI).

 

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CHRISTO: I’ve always been a comics fan, my Dad inspired me with his 60’s comics collection, and I passed this along to my younger brother Tyler. With 20 years and counting of collecting, I think perhaps the most astounding thing about modern comic books, and the comic industry, is how successful the material has become across the media landscape. To put this is perspective, consider that in 1996, Marvel Comics was bankrupt, and yet today the Disney/Marvel juggernaut is redefining what is possible across movies and television with projects and crossovers of immense scope. But Marvel is hardly the only success story: Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead is a cult phenomenon spanning comics, television, and a critically acclaimed episodic video game series. Similarly, Bill Willingham’s modern classic Fables is also now an award winning video game (The Wolf Among Us), as well as (arguably) the inspiration for television hit Once Upon A Time.

 

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A few Comic-Con facts from mental_floss:

The first Masquerade Ball, a fan-made costume and makeup contest, took place in 1974.

In 1979, $12,000 in receipts was stolen from the Comic-Con International Treasurer’s home. As a result, the organization behind Comic-Con had to ask fans for donations to pay off the debt.

Since 2000, San Diego Comic-Con has hosted an annual film festival called the Comic-Con International Independent Film Festival, which highlights the best in genre movie-making.

Director Kevin Smith has made guest appearances at San Diego Comic-Con since 1997. In 2007, Comic-Con organizers asked the geek icon to close out Comic-Con Saturday Nights in Hall H with an hour-and-a-half long “Geek State of the Union Address.”

San Diego Comic-Con was featured on various TV shows throughout the last decade, including The O.C., Weeds, and Entourage. The comic book convention was also featured on the reality shows Beauty and the Geek and MTV’s Punk’d and The Real World: San Diego.

 

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CHRISTO: The sheer size, scope, and cross-genre popularity of Comic-Con 2014 is perhaps the strongest evidence that comic books have truly arrived as mainstream culture. You’re equally likely to encounter Joss Whedon surrounded by the Avengers, Firefly browncoats, of Buffy-esque vampires. Guillermo del Toro might be found piloting a 50-story tall Jaeger from Pacific Rim, forestalling the vampire apocalypse in The Strain (itself a trilogy of books, comics, and now a television show), or investigating the paranormal with Hellboy. In short, comic culture is now just culture, and Comic-Con is the epicenter of the new entertainment landscape.
Note: We encourage all readers to take time and explore the visual feast of unbelievable comic art by each illustrator great in this post…hence all the links, do visit their sites and Wikipedia for an eyeball full!

 

 

 

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