Convention report: Comic Con San Diego 2013

Zombie Nation: From Folklore to Modern Frenzy
By E.R. Vernor
Published By: Schiffer Publishing LTD, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-7643-4450-3
Review copy sent by publisher

Review by Ida Vega-Landow

The popularity of zombies has yet to wane, as seen by the recent debut of the movie “World War Z”, based upon the book by Max Brooks. Brooks also wrote “The Zombie Survival Guide”, a tongue-in-cheek survival manual for those who believe the Zombie Apocalypse will soon be upon us. But “Zombie Nation” is a serious, non-fiction book about zombies in legend, literature, movies and TV. I found it to be as entertaining as Brooks’ book, though not as funny.

Eric R. Vernor has written other books on macabre subjects, such as “I, Lucifer: Exploring the Archetype and Origins of the Devil” also by Schiffer Publishing, and “Goth Girls, Vampire Vixens and Satan’s Sirens” by Dark Moon Press. He was a guest speaker at Dragon Con 2011 on a panel about vampires, and has been published in Penthouse, Philadelphia Weekly and Dark Gothic Resurrected Magazine. But his writing style reminds me of my homeboy Patrick Thomas, oddball writer of urban fantasy and creator of the “Murphy’s Lore” series. Especially when he punctuates, leaving out vital pronouns and misspelling words.

He also got the plot of “White Zombie” wrong; this 1932 movie starring Bela Lugosi is about a Haitian landowner who is really an evil zombie-making sorcerer, who tries to steal a new bride from her husband by turning her into a zombie. Vernor claims he turns the husband into a zombie, which is completely wrong. It makes me wonder about the accuracy of the other zombie movies that he provides spoilers for; all of director George Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead” Series, the “Resident Evil” movies, “28 Days Later”, etc. The only ones I’m sure about are the ones that I’ve seen myself, like “Wes Craven’s The Serpent and The Rainbow” and “Shaun of the Dead”. On the whole, Vernor has positive things to say about these popular zombie flicks. I just wish he wouldn’t write so awkwardly while he’s saying it.

On the positive side, he does give us useful information about the difference between traditional zombies made by voodoo and zombies created by science; radiation, virus, an experiment gone wrong, etc. He also mentions the “zombie attacks” caused by “Bath Salts”, the synthetic designer drug Methylenedioxpyrovalerone or MDPV, which caused 31-year-old Rudy Eugene of North Miami Beach to attack a sleeping homeless man and eat half his face before the police were able to shoot him to death. He also mentions the Zombie Walks that have become an annual Halloween event in several cities, as well as the origin of zombie lore in the Carribean and the way it spread to Europe and the Western World. I could have done without the mention of Zombie Jesus, which as a practicing Catholic I find offensive. But in the spirit of tolerance, and the recognition that not everyone shares my religious beliefs, I guess I’ll have to get used to it. (But I don’t have to like it!)

So, if you’re looking for a serious source of Zombie lore to back up your belief in the coming Zombie Apocalypse, or just to prove that there are real zombies out there, get a copy of “Zombie Nation” to prove your case. Just remember to research the various zombie movies yourself, so you won’t be influenced by the errors in Vernor’s spoilers, which you should take with a very large grain of salt. By the way, did you know that salt is one of the traditional ways of fighting a zombie? According to Haitian folklore, if you’re a bokor, or zombie maker, you should never feed a zombie salt because it’s an element of the earth and helps to remind zombies that they are dead and should be at rest. That’s one tidbit you won’t find in Vernor’s book; I just threw it in for you as a freebie. You still have to buy the book at your local bookstore or favorite online bookstoreComic Con San Diego 2013

Report by Ginger Mayerson

This was one of the happiest, mellowest, most enjoyable Comic Cons I’ve had in years. (The only thing that made me frown was my hotel’s pricing and reservations policy, but that has nothing to do with this report.) Once again the marvelous shuttle buses were the perfect bookends for a day at the con. I was also very grateful for the mini Con Guide because I never liked ripping the big con guide up to carry it around. With as much gear as I carry, any extra ounces eliminated are a blessing.

On Thursday, after a lovely train ride from LA and long, but fascinating wait for my Press badge, I talked to artists and drank margaritas with my friends Wendy and Eric. I was very lucky this year because whenever I needed a shuttle or even a trolley, one was either waiting for me or appeared mere moments later. I was also blessed with genuinely interesting people to talk to whenever I stood in line. In the badge line, I had the pleasure of speaking to Ms. Danielle Acheampong, M.S., and emerging museum professional. She was doing research on why Comic Con is still so cool and how some of that cool might be translatable to museums. I’m a big fan of the Museum of California Art, LACMA, and the Museum of Jurassic Technology, so I found her very interesting to talk to. The time in line simply flew by, which was good because even though time was flying, we were still in that line for a hell of a long time. Once inside, we were herded up the escalator at Hall G, marched across the second floor to the escalator at Hall A and allowed to descend and then enter the Exhibit Hall. No, I have no idea what that was all about, but resistance was futile. I spent the Preview evening there talking to artists from 6 to 9PM. Seems like last year it was 7 to 9, but I might be misremembering. I do remember there was time to get a Margarita before going into the Exhibit Hall, but this year, I had to get one afterwards. There was a lot of Margarita drinking on this trip.

Friday I talked to more artists, took pictures of cosplayers, and saw the new Justice League feature, “Flashpoint Paradox,” which was wonderful, in spite of the character design, which looked like some Rob Liefeld characters and Hello Kitty had babies. But, other than that, it was pretty good and I enjoyed it.

I took Saturday off, and wandered around Little Italy and visited my friend Ann, who lives in Solano Beach.

Sunday I went shopping! Also watched a few anime. Geeze, what a hike; they had the anime way far in some kind of annex building at the Marriott. However, once there, I was amused and horrified by Bodacious Space Pirates because for me there is only ONE Space Pirate and his name is Phantom F. Harlock XIII or whatever the number is. Then it was time to catch my train and go home. And for as much as I enjoyed this year’s convention, I was really glad to go home.

Here are this year’s crop of artist interviews:

Anson Jew

Did a book with Sergio Paez on the art and business of storytelling, published by Focal Press. It explains basic film language, and interviews with storyboard artists, such as Benton Jew, who worked on Phantom Menace, and Josh Shephard who worked on a lot of films, and Sherm Cohen who’s a storyboard artist for Disney and worked on Phineus and Pherb and Sponge Bob Squarepants. It’s a how-to kind of book. Anson was too busy to do a 24-hour comic this year, but there’s always hope for next year.

Bryan Tillman

Bryan “Kaiser” Tillman’s “Dark Legacy” game is finished! He even has a con exclusive this year: a character deck called Tau. This is the first time he’s introduced a character deck, so CCSD is the first con to see it. The game is selling well online and at conventions. He’ll be at GenCon for the official launch. Bryan had hoped to launch at GenCon last year, but he was working with a local printer who really screwed up the color and messed up the orientation of the cards. So the printer refunded all the money, but there was no time to get the cards reprinted in time for GenCon 2012. Bryan ended up getting his cards printed at Iconics (I could not find their website, alas), and customer service and the product was excellent. Other than the game, Bryan has been working on sketch cards (trading cards) for Marvel, DC, Image, for Walking Dead, and Universal Monsters. He’s working with Elvin Hernandez on a book of markered pages with digital lettering. They hope to have this book for sale at Comic Con 2014. His book from last year, Creative Character Design is sold out.

Curio and Co.

Curio and Co. have moved their booth this year from Small Press in to the main booth area. It’s about the same size, but the layout is in more of an “L” shape. They also have a new book, which is a follow up book in the Frank and his Friends series, also published by Ringer Publishing. This is a different kind of Ringer Publishing, it’s contemporary Ringer Publishing, so the logo has changed and it’s a 2013 release, unlike the second Frank book, which was a 1979 book. (Note: Curio and Co. deals in faux nostalgic objects, so a 2013 release is truly new for them.) It’s a special collector’s edition of Frank and his Friends, and as always, Melvin Goodge, who, if he existed, would be pretty damn old, has written the forward. They also had new prints from Oberpfaffendorfer, their frozen foods, coffee, chocolates, and juices company that never existed. They are introducing more of the Ringer brand with paperback covers for books that were never written. Last year they’d cut a film deal for the Gadabout Time machine manual, and, as usual with the film industry, they’re still waiting for the project to start. They’re talking to investors about taking the Spaceman Jack property to larger development (in some way they couldn’t talk about at that time).

Karen Knighton (birdenvy)

She has a lot of new fabrics this year for her cat and owl pillows. She had a few new printes and a few new handmade art pieces. She still has a few “Snowsville” collage books on sale and said most of the art work is done for the sequel, but she didn’t have time to put it together for Comic Con 2013, alas, but probably next year she’ll have it on sale. She also plans to add foxes and half-sized mice and snakes to her line of pillows for Comic Con 2014. It’s sort of a little predator/prey thing. Karen still works in animation making commercials for small websites, and titles for films and TV. One of her more recent projects was an animation for the TV show “Cougar Town.” They did a series of 10 shorts called “Laurie’s Stories” of her rambling non sequitur statements (here’s one on YouTube that I looked up so I could understand what Karen was talking about. It’s amusing even if you’ve never ever seen Cougar Town.

SZE Jones

She is using new painting techniques. Usually she uses Chinese ink with a light wash and watercolors, but now she’s adding water-soluble oils for more depth and definition. No new sculptures, alas. She’s debating on whether she should sculpt traditionally or digitally. Next year she plans to have 3-D posters (like a bas relief, I guess).

Sho Maruse

Sho will be making original pieces and merchandise for Disney. She’s also working on a new book of her own work that will be available as a download and in print in the near future. She’s also making jewelry and they will be on sale at Etsy. She’s still doing character design, but couldn’t talk about what she’s working on these days.

Ron Brown

He has some new prints, some in marker, most in compress charcoal with white charcoal on top. He also had some new work in gouache. He had some cool Batman art in gouache. He’s working on a new comic book. He’s still teaching at Mt. San Antonio College, where he’ll be in a figurative show in 2014, which has a very nice gallery.

The Frantic Meerkat and the Mincing Mockingbird

This year they have a new 2014 calendar and Mincing Mockingbird has a beautiful new book of bird paintings with witty captions entitled “I have heard my praises sung in screams. Paintings of the Mincing Mockingbird, Volume II,” which is a very witty and beautiful book. They did a Kickstarter to have the most recent book printed. The paintings are in acrylics. The Frantic Meerkat has new cards and magnets this year. Mincing Mockingbird recently had a gallery show at the Audubon Society and has one in progress in Los Angeles. He’ll have another gallery show in October in New Hampshire.

Phil Nannay, Applehead Factory

The last time I spoke with Phil Nannay, President of Applehead Factory, creators of Teddy Scares, was in 2006, I think, they had a movie deal going with New Line Cinema, but they couldn’t come to terms. However, they signed with an entertainment company ten months ago and they had a meeting that very night at seven to discuss it further. Applehead is in Philadelphia, and the entertainment company is in San Diego, so the when and where was good for a meeting during CCSD. It’s two animation deals: direct to DVD and the other a theatrical release. They have more merchandise than the bears since last I saw them. They have graphic novels about the bears, t-shirts, hats, and blank journals. There are four graphics novels with six stories in each book. Their role out was five bear characters and now they have eleven characters. Their newest character is Annabelle Wraithright, a ghost bear. This is their first ghost bear; all the other bears are zombie bears. I called them adorable; he calls them agoreable. Next year, for the first time in five years, they plan to re-release Edmond and Redmond 12-inch bears and a 12-inch Annabelle. (Previous Teddy Scares reviews at J LHLS: GMayerson and KJohnson)

Eliza Frye

Had new prints, postcards, and t-shirts. Regalia, her wonderful full color book, has sold about a thousand copies, so if you want one of these incredible books, dear readers, act now. Eliza is working as an art director at Something Massive where she art directs on animation and other projects. I hope she does another book soon because I re-read Regalia a couple of times a year.

So that was 2013. Here’s Comic Con 2012 and Comic Con 2011 if you’re interested.