Friday, May 25, 2012

Upcoming Event: HeroesCon

Rather than do a single post as we do with other events, since HeroesCon is near and dear to our hearts, we're making June "HeroesCon Month" on Exile.  It's the 30th Anniversary of our hometown con so there's a lot of great stuff to talk about this year.  There's so much stuff to look forward to we're working on a series of posts focusing on different aspects on HeroesCon.

Here's a sampling of what's coming on Exile in June:
  • Heather's Top Ten Things to Do at HeroesCon
  • Interview with Team Cul de Sac's Chris Sparks
  • Interview with local cosplayer, Suzann Knudsen
  • Interview with local cosplayer, Victor Goldberg
  • Where to Eat at HeroesCon
Since Seth is a part of HeroesCon's organization and management, he's going to take the month off from writing for Exile.  HeroesCon is by far the busiest time of year for Seth and the Heroes staff, so most of his time will be be taken up with Con preparation.  He will still be editing Exile's HeroesCon posts, and you can keep up with his writing for Heroes' blog

HeroesCon is June 22-24 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  The con takes place at the Charlotte Convention Center located at 501 South College Street, Charlotte, NC 28202.  In addition to the show itself, there are events like the Friday night Drink and Draw and the Saturday night Art Auction to look forward to. Advance passes are available for purchase here.  Single day passes are available at the show. 

The show hours are:
Friday: 11am-7pm
Saturday: 10am-6pm
Sunday: 11am-6pm 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Abbreviated Reviews

     In the spirit of restraining myself and limiting my usual tendency to over-write, here's a list of things I've been reading/hearing/enjoying.  This is also an exercise of sorts.  I'm working on writing a few small potato, self-printed comics at the moment, and am being increasingly mindful of the fact that comics are a visual medium. In other words, I can't write write as much as usual.  So with that in mind...


1. Eddie Campbell's Alec: The King Canute Crowd and Alec: How To Be An Artist
 Masterful use of autobiography in comics.  Not so much self-serving as self-aware and conscious of the changing world around the self.  Both illustrate Campbell's progression from a young cartoonist to the point where he started moving beyond youthful indiscretion toward a more earnest, mature focus. (

2.  Rust: Visitor In The Field
 I picked up creator Royden Lepp's first volume after reading the short story in Archaia's hardcover Free Comic Book Day Offering.  An easy all ages read, but manages to be mysterious and poignant at times.  The dust of the family farm is apparent in visuals and tone, as is the rust and grime of the machines. (

3. What I Did
This collection of three books by Norwegian cartoonist Jason are simple only on the surface.  Get past initial assumption that these are simple comics and you'll see a great deal of depth.  Strong visual storytelling, and an equally strong sense of story as a whole, even when the comics are free of language and dialogue. (


1. Billy Bragg and Wilco: The Complete Mermaid Avenue Sessions
Hearing these three discs of unrecorded songs will remind you of the lyrical genius of Woody GuthrieBragg and Wilco add original music to the bare lyrics, illustrating their own respective prowess at instrumentation and lyrical phrasing.  Disc one is a classic. (

2.  Charles Mingus: Oh Yeah
It's the legendary jazz bassist/composer playing piano and singing.  Titles like Hog Callin' Blues, Devil Woman, Eat That Chicken and Oh Lord Don't Let Them Drop That Atomic Bomb On Me imply a largely blues and gospel-infused record. An odd but worthwhile record to seek out for the jazz and blues fans among you. (

3.  Hammock: Chasing After Shadows...Living With Ghosts
It might verge on New Age at points.  There's a direct/indirect connection to some of Brian Eno's ambience.  Manages to evoke varying emotions and environments.  Music that works well in the background, especially if you're cooking or working on a creative project. (  

That's it for the first of what may become a series of attempted Abbreviated Reviews.  If you check any of these books or albums out, let me know what you think.  

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Winston-Salem Toy and Comic Show Report!

This past Saturday, Seth and I made the trek North-ish to the Winston-Salem Toy and Comic Show organized by the fun gang at Ssalefish Comics.  Gathered in a old home goods store were vendors hawking comics and toys as well as a row of artists sharing their mini-comics and art. Bret and company (especially Adam Casey, who was responsible for some fun show badges) put together a small, but bustling show.  

Once we checked in and received our awesome press and guest badge, we made our way over to one of our local favorites, Henry Eudy.  Henry's table was full of brightly colored mini-comics and his ever popular Pee-Wee Herman print.  More than one person was heard to squeal over the Mr. T whiskey swilling funny man. 

Next to Henry, we found the infamous Full Sanction crew with a table full of funny.  I decided Joe and Rusty were brilliant when Adam Casey first introduced me to them at SPX 2010.  Their "Threats" mini was one of my favorite things I picked up.  I showed it to more people than I could keep track of.  On top of selling their minis, Joe and Rusty bought a stack of old comics at the show and decided to replace the covers with ones of their own design.  We only got to see a few of these, but they were quite amusing. 

On down the row, was Ben Towle, who had illustrated the mini, Strikes, written by the man behind Ssalefish, Bret Parks (who is signing the comic on the left).  Strikes is the story of Bret and his dad seeing the Empire Strikes Back when it first came out in the theater.  Bret's story and Ben's art combine to create a story that truly captures the nostalgia of the first trilogy.  Ben also had several of his own books and original art from both the Animal Alphabet and Alpha-Beasts series. The next alphabet series, Alpha-Books, is kicking off next week which will feature characters from works of fiction each week.      

Once we made it past the artists, there were a number of familiar faces among the vendors as well as good deals on comics and toys to be found.  Even better for those shoppers whose mothers and grandmothers think outside of the short box, there was a glass blower set up.  Not only did "Original Designs in Glass" have a wonderful display, but Ken Curtiss was actually making pieces during the show.  Seth and I were very happy to find beautiful and unexpected gifts for some wonderful ladies in our lives. 

And now, on to the ever important Loot List:
  • The "Adam Casey is to blame for this nonsense" Package which included Drac-Drac-Drac-Drac-Dracula, haha., The Three Cent Pup, and some awesome classic non-sports trading cards. (Side note: I love mini comics in a package.  I think this is a great way to market minis.  I especially love when there's a surprise inside. Thanks Adam!)
  • Death Pinata by Henry Eudy
  • Strikes by Bret Parks and Ben Towle 
  • The Total Full Sanction Package which included Threats with a Winston-Salem Toy and Comic Show exclusive cover (it has a baseball card on it!), Dino Docs, Sun/Mun, Dirt Worst #1 and #2, [F(S]PX), All in Danger Now, The Official Handbook of the Full Sanction Universe, Justice Camp, and The "To Do" List.  
  • Original Art from Henry Eudy and Ben Towle from the Animal Alphabet and Alpha-Beast series
Want to see more? Check out the Flickr set.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Free Comic Book Day Report!

Free Comic Book Day at Heroes Aren't Hard to Find was packed full of comic and sketching goodness.  The day started super early on our end with the dollar books to be set up and all the last minute prep any good event entails.  Once ten o'clock rolled around, the fun really started with the store filling up almost instantly with fans, collectors and the curious.  The Heroes staff spreads the free books out on the racks amongst the rest of the comics.

Outside of the store was a long row of long boxes contained dollar comic books for sale.  Fans, both young and old, spent hours combing through the boxes finding stories new to them or that missing issue from a collection.  It's always interesting to watch people's digging styles.  The speed of flipping always makes it easy to spot an old pro. 

A new addition to FCBD was local artist, John Hairston, Jr.  John set up his easel in the morning and worked for several hours on a new painting for an upcoming gallery show. You can see this completed painting and many more at John's show "1962: The Age of Marvels" presented by Heroes on June 1, 2012.  

 Starting around one, the empty tables around the store were filled with artists who were met with fans eager for sketches.  Sketch subjects were a wide range of fun topics with a lot of Avengers in the mix.  I guess we're not the only ones who really liked the movie! The artists were all in really great spirits and it was fun to watch the fan interaction.  

 We were able to pick a sampling of the free books and enjoyed reading them on Sunday.  I'm especially looking forward to the new Superman Family Adventures from Franco and Art Baltazar.  I'm sad Tiny Titans is ending, but happy to see this new series.  The Archaia hardcover book is absolutely beautiful and I am still blown away by the concept of a free hardcover on FCBD.  It will be interesting to see how this concept develops in the coming years.  

Books picked up:
  • Atomic Robo & Friends
  • Barnaby
  • Buffy/The Guild
  • DC Comics The New 52 Custom Edition
  • DC Nation Superman Family Flip Book
  • Finding Gossamyr/Stuff of Legend
  • Image 20
  • Moomin Color Special
  • Mouse Guard, Labyrinth & More HC
  • My Favorite Martian Special Edition
  • Spider-Man Season One
  • Star Wars/Serenity
  •  Top Shelf Kids Club
  • Walt Disney's Donald Duck Family Comics
You can see more of all the day's activities on my flickr photostream.  

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Avengers: Exile's First Movie Review

First, full disclosure: I do not read the Avengers or the Avenger members' individual comics.  I tried reading the new Avengers Assembled book.  It wasn't that I didn't like it, but rather that I couldn't remember anything about it just a few days after reading it.  I tell you this so you know that I don't have the history or the baggage with these characters that some fans do.  I don't use the term "baggage" in an insulting way.  Anytime a fan of a comic or novel series comes to a movie based on one of those works has expectations and visions as to what that movie should be.  While both types can enjoy the same movie, there are differences in how they view it.  With that being said, here's my spoiler free review.

I have been looking forward to this movie since the trailer at the end of the Captain America credits.  I really enjoyed the individual character movies that built to the team coming together.  I had high expectations for Avengers based on how much I liked those movies as well as my love for the director, Joss Whedon.  I've always thought if anyone could pull off the large ensemble cast of the Avengers it was Whedon and pull it off he did.  (Sidenote: I want Whedon to direct an Avengers/X-Men movie so Robert Downey Jr. and Hugh Jackman can have a Whedon penned snark-off.)

Throughout the movie, each actor has the opportunity to shine in their roles as Earth's Mightiest Super Heroes.  From Robert Downey Jr.'s on point snark as Tony Stark that never waivers even in the face of an alien war to new member, Mark Ruffalo's unwilling and humble Hulk.  Ruffalo was a big question in this film as he replaced Ed Norton who had done a great job in the most recent Hulk origin story.  Not only was the CGI Hulk based on Ruffalo's physical appearance a needed improvement over earlier attempts, but Ruffalo's portrayal brought something indescribable to Banner/Hulk that other actors seemed to miss.  While I like Norton as an actor and as the Hulk, I can't say his presence was missed.  

Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth stayed true to their character portrayals.  Steve Rogers is still that untarnished American hero willing to sacrifice his all for our country and Thor is still...well, Thor.  I like both actors, but I also feel like they are the most interchangeable of the current cast.  They do well in the roles without necessarily bringing anything special to them.  (This became clear to me when I struggled to write what it was I like about them.) When I got to the end of this review, I realized I hadn't even addressed Hawkeye (please don't be mad at me, Seth).  Jeremy Renner is a very capable and entertaining action star and he brings that to his role at Hawkeye, but like Evans and Hemsworth, there's nothing really special about it. 

Tom Hiddleston as Loki is becoming one of my favorite villains.  Even in the midst of committing the act that made me the most angry and upset during the movie, I still couldn't really hate Loki.  He's the bad guy that I can't not like.  Sure, he's starting a war that could destroy the planet, but he's just so impish about it. It makes me feel like Loki's not really bad deep down, he's just misunderstood.  I love a character that can give you such conflicting emotions.  Hiddleston really captures the roguish nature of Loki from his body language to his facial expressions.  

I would be remiss not to address the ladies of the movie, the Black Widow and the newest S.H.I.E.L.D. member, Maria Hill. (Gwyneth Paltrow makes more than a brief cameo as Pepper Potts, but really only serves to give more background to another character.)  Scarlett Johansson brings the same ass kicking vibe to the role as she did in Iron Man 2 with some added emotional depth.  I'm not a huge fan of Johansson, but I really like her as Black Widow.  I also enjoyed the casting of How I Met Your Mother's Colbie Smulders as Maria Hill.  I like that Marvel is bringing some no nonsense female characters to the screen.  Even Hill's skin tight S.H.I.E.L.D. uniform manages to scream "all business" rather than "sexpot"

Samuel L. Jackson is his usual as Nick Fury, but the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent I really want to talk about is Phil Coulson.  Clark Gregg has brought so much to what could have been a small role.  Agent Coulson has been the character that binds all of these movies together.  He handles all of these larger than life heroes with humor and affability.  He's calm in absurd situations and even amongst all of the Avengers, he is my favorite character.  Tony Stark's sarcasm rolls off of him and he doesn't even blink when facing down Norse gods.  Forget the Nick Fury movie, Clark Gregg deserves his own movie as Agent Coulson.  

To sum it up, I thought The Avengers exceeded my fairly high expectations.  It builds on the earlier movies and makes me look forward not only to Avengers 2, but the coming individual character movies as well.  I can't wait to see it again!

*Viewing Note: I saw this in 3D because that's what they were screening.  I didn't feel like the 3D really added much (especially in light of the increase of ticket price).  In fact, I forgot I was watching in 3D at points and at other points, I felt a little dizzy.  Sure, there are a couple of cool moments during the battle scenes, but those don't really justify the 3D viewing for me.