NYCC 2012

This year marks the 60th anniversary of MAD Magazine and editor John Ficarra took a moment to talk to us about Totally MAD, the longevity of a MAD sense of humor and the right artwork to use for wrapping fish.

I’ve heard about this [60th Anniversary book that Ficarra was holding) and I’m excited to take a look at it. Sixty years – can you give me a quick overview of the book?

John Ficarra: We had no plans to do this but Time Home Entertainment came to us and said, “Would you like to do the book for your 60th?” and we said “That’d be great!” I didn’t realize what a heartbreak this book would be. MAD has done over 26 thousand pages of material. This book is 256 pages. So, I had to leave out a ton of great stuff. In fact, I wrote in the back – I wrote an afterword where I spoke about that. And this book, I tried to represent MAD on a lot of different levels. I tried to represent all of the talent that’s been at MAD – going back to Harvey Kurtzman and Will Elder to the current staff of Drew Friedman and people like that. I tried to make it a pop culture store – so you could see in every decade what the popular movies were, what the popular TV shows, what the language was like, what the fashion was like. And then I also tried to do it from a political point of view, because MAD does a lot of politics. So, you can pretty much take an American history course – albeit through a funhouse mirror – an American history course if you buy the book.

The other great thing about the book is it’s relatively inexpensive and in the back there are what we call “The Soul of MAD” – prints of 12 of our classic covers that Bill Gaines and I picked out years ago, including the very first Alfred E. Newman and some of the others like Alfred as the Scarecrow and things like that. So, they’re suitable for framing – or wrapping fish, as we like say.

The other thing the book has is, if you go through it, it has every cover we’ve ever done running along the bottom. And the stock is just wonderful. It’s really a great paper so it showcases the art terrifically – much more so than the toilet paper we printed on for so many years. And it’s slightly oversized, so the book is bigger than a MAD page, so you get to see the art even better.

And the last thing is, I hired Frank Jacobs to write a series of essays about the questions we’re most asked: Who is Alfred E. Newman? Have you ever been sued? The MAD trips? Who was Bill Gaines? What is MAD like after Bill Gaines died? So, he wrote terrific essays, he dug up some old photos that many people haven’t seen to accompany the essays – so there’s a lot in the book and you can preorder it now at



At least half of the success of Dark Horse’s Angel & Faith comes from artist Rebekah Isaac’s, whose take on Buffyverse characters helped make this book a success.  We had the chance to talk with Isaacs about characters, fangirling and a whole lot of muffins.

First off, Angel & Faith – we’re about halfway through, is that right? Going to 25?

Rebekah Isaacs: Yeah, We’re a little bit over – I think we just finished 14. Yeah.

So, how are you feeling about it? Obviously, still invested in the characters. How are you approaching it now versus when you started?

Isaacs: Oh, man. Hopefully, just getting better with every issue. Yeah, I mean. My approach is still the same. I feel like I have been able to relax into it more just because I’ve been working, drawing the characters – so, it’s a little more fun, not quite as stressful as it was before.

I know at the panel last year, the Dark Horse and Vampires panel, you had mentioned that there was a re-watch happening.

Isaacs: Oh, yeah yeah.

You’ve made it back through?

Isaacs: Yeah… It was funny. I started watching – I started re-watching right after the Drusilla arc was over and I really wish that I had rewatched before I started that because I feel like I definitely did get a better sense of Angel and Drusilla’s relationship re-watching it. It’s like, really freaky and messed up.

It’s a little bit wrong. Actually, it’s a lot wrong.

Isaacs: Yeah, it is.

At Dragon*Con, Georges Jeanty mentioned that one of his regrets for Season 9 was not being able to do the big crossover, not being able to have a chance to work with you directly.

Isaacs: I don’t think we’re going to have a chance to do that, unfortunately, but that would have been really cool.

Maybe next time? You’re in for Season 10?

Isaacs: Oh, yep. Definitely. As long as they’ll have me. I have been able to, luckily, draw most of the Buffy characters in some form or other. Buffy and Xander were in, well, Buffy a couple of times just as little flashbacks. Xander is in a flashback. And then Spike, showing up in the next arc of course, so. But yeah, that would be really cool. I hope I’ll be able to draw Buffy soon.

If you did swap over, which character did you wish you had more time with, that you haven’t had a chance to do?

Isaacs: I really, I love Xander so he would be really fun to draw now – especially with the eyepatch. It’s super stylish. And that’s one whole eye that I don’t have to draw. That’s my lazy side coming out.

So, with the familiarity, with the number of issues you’ve done – I’ve noticed and one of the things that I love about both this book and the Buffy book is how integral the art is, how you convey so much in just the expressions. Like, there was one moment in one issue – when Angel was going to Connor, and for some reason he had like 14 muffins in his hand. I don’t know why he did, but I love that it happened. How much of that is coming from you and your confidence with these characters?

Isaacs: The muffins were me. That came more from my personal experience always being so hungry when I get off of a flight. And so, I figured, Angel’s dragging everybody around right after they’ve got off the plane. They haven’t had a chance to eat so, I imagine that he would maybe have snapped out of it and realized, “Oh, you guys are starving. I’ll buy them some muffins.”

It was just one of those one-panel moments where I was like, “That is awesome.” Can you give some hints about what’s coming up – I know they’ve got the Spike and Willow series and Drusilla’s coming up in her own series.

Isaacs: Drusilla? Oh, right, the mini. I don’t know what’s going on with that. I’m out of the loop on that. Yeah, it looks awesome. I was able to see the first issue.

Beyond that, can you give us any idea – because it seems like everything is going crazy in every Buffyverse book at once.

Isaacs: Oh yeah. It’s going to get even crazier. I can’t spoil too much. We are going to get some really great Ripper flashbacks in the next arc and that’s going to tie in with the Giles flashbacks. What’s happening in the present day (is) going to start to matter a lot more. But other than that, it would be difficult to say anything without giving too much away.

So, what’s your favorite comic?

Isaacs: Well, besides Buffy and Angel & Faith – one book that I really love that I think all Buffyverse fans would really enjoy is Locke & Key. Have you been reading that?

A friend of mine gave me the first trade and said, “You must read this.”

Isaacs: Oh, the first trade is so – like, once I got to the end of it, I was like, “Holy crap. How – I’ve got to get every single issue of this right now” and I was so mad that I couldn’t get to the comic store that day. It’s not – it’s still wrapping up. I think there’s one more arc to go but it’s got a lot of similar elements to Buffy and Angel.

One last question – since I did fangirl at you earlier. Anyone here that you’re going to get a little flippy about?

Isaacs: Oooh. Well, I probably won’t get a chance to actually talk to him or stand in line to see him, but Yoshitaka Amano from the Final Fantasy series – I’m a huge Final Fantasy nerd, so I at least just want to go by and view him from a distance and just giggle.

Oh, I know that feeling.

Rebekah Isaacs is the regular artist on Dark Horse Comics’ Angel and Faith comic. You can check out Rebekah’s variant cover on issue #15 at the end of this month and she will return to her regular penciling duties on issue #16 this November. 

I’m sure you’ve got it marked down in your iCal already, but if you didn’t know, The Dark Knight Rises comes out on home video on December 4th. And in case you need any inspiration to pre-order it, or just otherwise need a reason to buy the disc when it comes out in less than two months, we have a new trailer for the Blu-ray release, which is embedded below (via Coming Soon): (more…)

You can’t believe how active he is, bouncing right in front of you and talking about a litany of projects that make a man 1/3 his age exhausted by the prospective workload.

Stan Lee doesn’t stop, he never has, and you half wonder if he ever will. Right now, the co-creator of some of Marvel’s most well known and beloved characters has set his sights on conquering viral videos, launching Stan Lee’s World of Heroes — a Youtube channel with shows from Lee, fellow comic writer Peter David, reality TV star Adrianne Curry, journalist Jenna Busch, and others.

Lee talked about why he would start a new project, his cameos, his favorite cocktail, and what he thinks of all these comic book reboots during a brief roundtable following the World of Heroes panel at New York Comic Con. Here now is that interview:

On starting a new project after all he has done:

Oh, because it’s fun. It’s not like working. Everything I do is like playing. If you think about it, I’m with glamorous people, and we’re doing things that we hope entertain other people. People seem to love what we’re doing and come over and thanks us for it. Who would ever want to give that up?

On his numerous cameos in the Marvel Movie Universe:

Those cameos, I love them. In fact I was talking to somebody who’s connected to DC and I was saying to him just before: “You’ve got to get me a cameo in a DC movie.”

On his favorite cocktail:

Anything I drink with you on Cocktails with Stan (he says to Jenna Busch). No, my favorite drink, if you mean real drink is a screwdriver, but I ask for half as much vodka as you’d normally put in it because I can go crazy with liquor.

It was at this point in the proceedings that I could see that time was winding down — Stan had a flight to catch, so I quickly asked the Fearless Leader a couple of questions of my own.

Stan, you had a hand in creating so many iconic characters, now we’re in the era of reboots. Is there any character you’d want to go back and change if you could?

Stan Lee: Yeah, there was one character I did called Diablo, a villain, and I liked the name and we were on a fast deadline and we did the story. And I can’t remember to this day what his personality was or what his deal was or what the hell he was all about. Diablo is the only character I don’t think I did a good job on.

Quick follow up: The reboots that have been going on, do you think that they’ve had a negative effect on what you and your contemporaries did?

Stan Lee: No, I think you need those reboots because you can’t keep doing the same things over. If you stop to think, even the books; every month, month after month and so many versions. It’s not just one Spider-Man book there’s I don’t know how many Spider-Man titles that come out and it’s the same thing with all of them.

You can and should check out Stan Lee’s World of Heroes on YouTube by clicking here


NYCC 2012: More Floor Pics & TOYS!

photo by Michella Ventres

Our New York Comic Con coverage isn’t nearly at an end — we’ve still got Jason Tabrys’ con diary, our exclusive interviews with Mad editor John Ficarra, Angel & Faith artist Rebekah Isaacs, our roundtable interviews with Kevin Smith, Walt Flanagan, and Stan Lee, our look at Epic Mickey 2, and more — but the con itself has come to a close. The Jacob Javitz Center in Manhattan catered to an estimated 115,000 cosplayers and fans, Nathan Fillion teleported from a conference call, Norman Reedus allegedly shouted at people from on top of an RV, and a grand time was had by all.

Right now, all of those fans are at home or on their way. Their spandex is hung in their closets, and our reporters are drinking copious amounts of vodka to stave off an attack of the con-flu. For you, though, we have the final round of pics from the floor of NYCC. Want more toys? How about most of the toys displayed at the Mattel booth? Want more cosplay? Fine! Here! As the con comes to an end, we hope you’ve enjoyed our coverage as much as we’ve enjoyed providing it and we hope you’re psyched about the rest of the cool stuff we’ll be delivering to you in the next couple of days.

Pics by: Shelly V.

It is the greatest pop-exploration of a zombified post-apocalyptic landscape since Romero’s heyday and it has brought the un-dead to the mainstream. The Walking Dead is on-top of the mountain right now. The most eagerly anticipated book on many pull lists and the most anticipated show on television. The all-father of that world — Robert Kirkman — has gone from a well-respected member of the comic community blessed with the gift of anonymity, to a mega-star who causes lines to nearly stretch to the length of a city block just for a chance to shake his hand.

Robert Kirkman has made the dead walk, turned the living into monsters, and created a zed-horror re-birth, and as the third season of The Walking Dead drew near, he sat down with me at the New York Comic Con in the inner hull of the Skybound booth.

Why did you choose to do a prose novel when it came time to flesh-out the back story for “The Governor”?

Robert Kirkman: I don’t like flashbacks per se, and in the comic book series I think that it’s very important to continue moving forward. So for me, just going back for a number of issues and telling a back story seems to be something that would be a little bit too jarring for the audience that supported the comic book series. And, at the same time, I don’t like spin-offs. So I never wanted to do a spin off comic book where it’s like “Oh here’s another Walking Dead comic that comes out concurrently with the series”. I feel like that could weaken the brand and I’m really proud of the fact that if you want to read the Walking Dead, you can just read 1-through-whatever in comic book form. But there were good stories; you know, there were cool things I wanted to tell about the Governor, and bringing him into another medium like novels made it make a little more sense for me.

And so, I think being able to read the back story of the Governor in prose form — where it’s a little bit of a different experience — but tying it into the comic books, so that it does apply. And you can then go back into the comics with an extra understanding as to what happened before. I think [that] was a really cool thing, so I thought it was a fun experiment.


-Spoiler Alert-

Now you say you don’t like flashbacks, and I’ve seen the first two episodes of season 3 and they look great, but there is bit of a time jump though between a season 2 and the beginning of season 3. Are you guys going to go back and show the winter, or anything like that? Is there any plan to explore what has happened since then?
Kirkman: No, no, I mean that’ll all be back story that we’ll reveal through telling the story. I mean, there will be things you will discover that happened during that time that we didn’t see. If you noticed nobody died over those months and so that story would be somewhat boring and I think that the opening scene of the premier pretty much shows what they’ve been doing during that time. They’ve been moving from house to house and I think that story has already been told.

-End Spoiler- 
Do you think Rick kind of has to turn into parts of Shane slightly, like he has to take on parts of Shane to actually succeed as the leader of the group?
Kirkman: I mean there’s definitely a darkening to him that you know could mirror Shane to a certain extent, but I think that Rick Grimes is just becoming a darker, meaner Rick Grimes. I don’t think that he’s going to be spiraling out of control and necessarily ‘losing himself’ the way Shane did, I mean he may teeter on the edge, we may see a little bit of that, but I think that Rick Grimes is a lot more together. So there will be differences.Is this season totally going to take place in the realm of the prison and Woodbury?

Kirkman: I can’t answer that! But, I will say that there’s a lot of unexpected stuff coming this season that people won’t be expecting…cause it’s unexpected, but yeah, I mean our budget’s a little bigger. I think that the show is going to be pretty huge, and I think people will be surprised in the different directions that we go.

Can you see yourself ever passing off the baton on the comic to somebody else, or is it just done when you’re done with it?

Kirkman: No. I mean, I think it’s a story that I’m telling, it would feel weird to just bring someone else in and let them just continue the story, because I do have plans, and I do know what I’m doing. If I stopped anywhere before issue 300 at this point I would have to tell the next person “Okay, now this builds to this and then this builds to this and then we’re going to be setting this up and then this is going to happen and then you want to go here and do this, and these people are getting introduced… ” I mean, I have way too much stuff planned to ever pass the baton.

You’re not going to tell me any of that stuff, right?
Kirkman: No, no. Ha!

Any desire to direct an episode?

No, directing is work. I mean there’s Billy Gierheart, Ernest Dickerson, Guy Ferland, some really talented directors that work on this show and it’s just crazy work. You know, I see those guys at work like Michelle MacLaren, really talented directors that work on the show. There’s an art form to that. I certainly don’t think I have the skill set, nor the desire to do that much hard work early in the morning and that late in the night.

Last night, I was here and I saw you walking the floor — my wife was actually mesmerized by the Mattel booth and walked right past you. Do you appreciate the ability to still do that or is that a rare thing? 

Kirkman: I mean I get stopped a lot, but if I keep walking I tend to do ok.

You’re not wearing a shirt that says like, you know, “I”m Robert Kirkman from The Walking Dead”?

Kirkman: “No, no, no I definitely don’t do that. I mean I like conventions, I like stuff. I like Transformers, I wanna look at the Lego Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I think that my son is really into new the Turtles and I think it’s a great cartoon and I love just checking that stuff out. One of my saddest moments, because I don’t have a lot of sad moments in my life because my life is pretty awesome, is the fact that I’ve been at every convention where they’ve shown footage for Iron Man 3 and I have never seen it. It’s like “I would love to watch that, why can’t I go to those panels?”

Go in cosplay.

Kirkman: I’d go, but I just don’t have time. I’m usually booked up, I have a panel against a panel and it’s just frustrating. I love going to cons.

While at New York Comic Con on Friday, I had the chance to sit down with Mike Mignola at his table in Artists’ Alley and talk to the legendary artist/writer about Hellboy in Hell, the look of Hades, Red’s ultimate end, and which familiar faces might also pop-up in the hellscape. Check out the Q&A below, and be sure to look out for Hellboy in Hell this December. In addition, you can also pre-order Lobster Johnson: The Burning Hand volume 2 right here.

Will we see any familiar faces in hell, any historical figures that you’re going to damn?

Mike Mignola: I don’t know about historical figures, that really hasn’t occurred to me. Mythological figures, yes. We will see some familiar faces from the Hellboy world, not a lot, I don’t want it to be just a parade of rematches, but there are definitely some.

When did you come up with the “Hellboy in Hell” concept?

Mignola: Early on in doing Hellboy, I knew that eventually I was goona have this arc of him on Earth end and I’d pop him into Hell because there’s so much stuff I wanted to do there. So yeah, it was always the second act, or maybe the third act, I don’t know what it is. But I knew I was going to do it and when I’d gotten away from drawing the comic, I knew that if I was going to come back I wanted to come back and draw the “Hell” stuff. Hell would be so much more fun to draw then the regular world.

Do you think you’ll ever fully kill Hellboy, just completely leave the character?

Mignola: Well, I guess. I mean he’s as dead as he’s going to get probably, but there is a final thing Hellboy needs to do. So there’s definitely an end of Hellboy… I think.

So he can die in Hell essentially?

Mignola: Well, he can finish his… how do you put this? It is funny actually dealing with a character who’s already dead because what do you do to him? But there is a journey he still has to make. There is still a couple of hoops he still has to jump before the pain ends for him. (Mignola smiles)

What inspired the design for Hell?

Mignola: Hell was entirely made out of stuff I want to draw. When I did the Amazing Screw-on Head I had so much fun working from old references of architecture and old buildings and that kind of stuff… wrecked boats. That’s kind of the world that I want to set my things in. There’s a lot of different geography to Hell, but a lot of Hell will be this… my comfort world of old buildings and rotting old wharfs and ships and things like that. No airplanes!

I actually just read Gotham by Gaslight the other day and it was really good. DC is doing… they’re reaching back and doing some of these animated movies from some of these older books, the classic books. Would you like to see Gotham by Gaslight turned into an animated movie? Or do you think it is too dark?

Mignola: Oh, I’m so not involved in any of that stuff, but I guess it would be great because it certainly makes sense. The fans seem to really still like that thing. I hate to say it, but it kinda wouldn’t make any difference to me because it’s something I did a trillion years ago. It’d be interesting to see if I get a check for it…

Do you read the current Batman books?

Mignola: I don’t read any Batman. I’ve never read Batman, I was always a Marvel comics guy and even then that was only years before I drew comics. So I still have no idea what goes on at DC comics, especially after they did that “52” thing, that is entirely geared to an entirely different audience than me.

You can check out some of Mignola’s art on his site,

If you’ve been to a large comic convention, or even a mid-sized one, you probably have a favorite part. For some of you, maybe the sales floor holds the most appeal. For others, it may be the cosplay, the panels, the demos, or the display cases that tortuously hold hostage a large collection of toys that neither you or I can play with for a long, long time.

For me though, my con-happy place exists within the confines of Artists’ Alley. There, in that area that is typically annexed from the rest of a con, the people who draw our comic heroes and put words in their mouths exist. These folks are the motor of the comic book industry. Honestly, I’m not really a Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Image, or IDW fan — I’m a Mark Waid fan, a Brian K. Vaughan fan, a Mike Mignola fan, a Clayton Crain, Steve McNiven, Warren Ellis, Jo Chen, and Alex Ross fan.

There is nothing craven or terribly commercial about Artists’ Alley. It isn’t filled with people shilling for those companies so much as they’re filled with tremendously creative people, happily mingling with their fans and promoting what they are passionate about. Sure, money changes hands and prints and original artwork get sold sometimes — afterall, tremendously creative people need to eat too — but there is no charge for a conversation and often there is no charge for an autograph or a picture, and that is a rarity in a world where a bit player from a long dead TV show can and will still charge $50 for the same access.

This weekend, I had the privilege to spend about 4 hours in a packed Artists’ Alley– making brief small talk with McNiven, buying a print from Ivan Reis, meeting both Mark Waid and Paolo Rivera. The best part though? Sitting behind Mike Mignola’s table for about 10 minutes beside the man who created Hellboy as I conducted an interview with him between signings and conversations (you’ll get to read that shortly).

Why was that experience one of the single best experiences of my con? Because I got to witness the true adoration that Mignola’s fans have for him and his creations. Something I saw at other tables with other comic pros as well.

I’m a cynic, but nothing could bitter or sour the experience of seeing a guy as he says — with a slight tremble in his voice — that Mignola has inspired him to be an artist. That’s someone meeting their hero, that’s someone making their dream come true and it sticks with you. Hell, the next day, I also had a slight tremble when I met Waid, and this ain’t exactly my first rodeo.

The point is, that that enthusiasm and that thrill seeps into you and you can’t help but nerd/geek out a little while you’re in Artists’ Alley  because this kind of access seemingly belongs in the bizarro world and these people are the one’s whose work is driving not just comics, but now has a hand in the shape of TV and film as well.

It’s more than big names though. Artist’s Alley is a land of discovery as well. This year, I met an action figure sculptor named Enrico Botta. Enrico has sculpted a Farscape action figure that went to market and he had some tremendous DC concept pieces. I hope to tell you a little more about him in the near future and the same can be said for an artist known as Epyon5, who produces hero and villain prints and paintings on old newspaper and comics.

These are just some of the people you can meet in Artists’ Alley, some of those jewels that are known and unknown. So, next time, when you go to a con — let the others wrestle over those con-exclusive Aquaman cuff-links and get your ass to Artists’ Alley.

The Nerdbastards Con Crew (as we have labeled ourselves thanks to the kind of poorly thought out decisions that rule a sleep deprived mind) began their NYCC Saturday in a magical place called the press lounge. Grunts and wistful memories of more restful times filled the morning conversation. Anne (who got her Nerdbastards deputy star this weekend) recalled her lengthy Saturday schedule while I maintained my “so bitchy I could punch a baby” visage that is brought upon the world by the letter “C”, which stands for coffee, a beverage I do not drink. Soon, Anne was headed on her way to see about a cartoon mouse and I was headed for artist’s alley.

We’ll have more on that and all the amazing stuff we saw in the near future, but for now, take a look at the latest amazing cosplay shots from NYCC 2012:

Pics by: Shelly V.

Its hard to believe that 10 years ago at this time, Fox was misusing and abusing a little series called Firefly, Joss Whedon’s now seminal series which combined space opera with the Old West to create one of the most unique and fascinating science fiction shows since the originalStar Trek. Naturally, it was cancelled after 13 episodes.

Well, on this occasion of its tenth anniversary, and as they’re airing the run of Firefly in intended order, the Science Channel hosted a special tenth anniversary panel for Firefly at New York Comic Con today. Although it was unlikely to be the barn-burner the one in San Diego was earlier this year, there was still enough for Browncoats to get excited about: a first look at the Browncoats Unite special (which airs on November 11 at 10 pm), some insights from the people that made the special, and even some surprise guests (each more surprising than the last).

So let’s end the teasing there and segue into a recap of the panel, as interpreted by our fine Bastard crew.