A strange look back at the obscure Black superheroes of the Golden Age

I love comic books, and its long, strange history through its mainstream American publishing. Imperfect, by way of how Black superheroes have developed over the many decades, but in an awesome, positive direction. I am a reader of color, of mixed race complexation, yet often identified as Black because of my darker skin tones and facial features. Yet, I haven’t thought much of my representation throughout my many years of reading. I was more concerned with inclusiveness, being part of the grander designs of those comic book multiverses, and that is enough.

Yet, I ponder over some often said comments on the arguable statement of Marvel’s Black Panther, created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, being our first mainstream Black fictional superhero. This is certainly believed, since the recent popular and award-winning Marvel movie brought much attention to this previously mid-tier character of comics. It’s probably true, before I research anything.

When we often think Americanized super-heroes of a top-ten tier, we think the most prominent in this modern age – Spider-Man, Superman, Batman, Iron Man, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Captain America, Wolverine, Hulk. Most of these, have long standing roots dating back through decades of comic book history. All of these have primarily Caucasian appearances, set to their most known popular incarnations.

Since then, we have Spider-Man (Miles Morales), Cyborg, Storm (X-Men), Falcon, Luke Cage, Static Shock, Blade, Black Lightning, and more. All Black and proud, part of a building legacy. And it’s great that we get representation out there for comic readers, especially for those very young and discovering comics for the first time.

In my early years, I discovered my first Black super-hero in the comic pages of 1980s run of The New Teen Titans written by Marv Wolfman and George Perez. He was part of a very super-team where all seemed equal, together, a group of young friends with personal problems and gripes, yet also helping to save their city, planet, universe, and beyond. Part of that team, was Victor Stone, better known as Cyborg – a young African America man who became part machine, resulting from a tragic accident. With that, the powers and strength of an enhanced body, and he can a shoot powerful, sonic energy blast from his arm cannon. Cyborg was awesome, and still is. So, he is my first mainstream Black superhero. Storm of the X-Men follows a close second.

Though my readings and early obsessions with big comic book crossover melodramas, especially Crisis on Infinite Earths, Secret Wars, Infinity Gauntlet – I would learn of many more black superheroes. I would read many more comic titles from 25 cents bins, and become obsessed with sourcebooks like DC’s Who’s Who, and Official Handbook to the Marvel Universe. Many more of mine favorites include the Black Racer, Bronze Tiger, Vixen, Bishop, Green Lantern (Jon Stewart), and more

So for this Black history month, I looked back to this recent claim that Black Panther was the first black superhero. Black Panther appeared in Fantastic Four #52, released in 1966 as an African king from the fictional land of Wakanda. He would not be well-known for a while in the mainstream until the recent movie. And, he was far from any top favorite super-heroes as I enjoyed those closer to the X-Men and DC Teen Titans more. I liked the costume, and I like panthers, and that was it. I never realized how significant T’Challa really was, until later on as I enjoyed critically acclaimed runs by Christopher Priest, Don McGregor, Reginald Hudlin, and Ta-Nehisi Coates. He also showed up in various cartoons, toy shelves, video and board games in the over the last two decades.

Yet, what legacy for Black superheroes, is known before the arrival of our king of Wakanda? Before 1966, to the Golden era of comics of the 1930s to 1950s?

So, I dug through the awesome archive of human history that is our Internet and its many searchable resources. I also picked through some comics history on my shelf including the highly recommended recent book, Invisible Men, The Trailblazing Black Artists of Comic Books, by Ken Quattro. Here are my compiled findings.

The first Black superhero to hit the niche pop culture of early comic books appeared first in 1934 in the Mandrake the Magician. daily newspaper strips. Lothar is Mandrake’s best friend and crimefighting companion, also an African prince of the “Seven Nations” a fictional league of African jungle tribes. His super power was his mighty strength, stamina, and invulnerability to any weapons, and magic. his early appearances had him featured as a servant with poor English skills. His clothing choice was typical of such depictions of a mighty, yet very foreign African man at the time.

Well, Lothar seemed also a bit stereotypical of the African muscleman. manservant (possibly slave as well). Yet, that was far more acceptable and dignified than racist depictions of Blacks in comics of that time. Among the most dubious was “Whitewash” Jones, a young, very minstrelized patriot who joined Captain America’s Sentinels of Liberty in pages of Young Allies, published by Timely Comics in the 1940s (later Atlas Comics, then reborn as Marvel Comics). I don’t count him, or Ebony White (The Spirit, by Will Eisner), or Steamboat (Fawcett’s Captain Marvel series), or any awful racist depictions of the era. They don’t inspire, and held back the potential for better Black superheroes in a time where real life African Americans fought proudly yet segregated, throughout World War II.

I did a bit more digging and found the Red Mask featured in the pages of Best Comics, in 1939 which only lasted four issues, and very short printed. Unlike Lothar, the Red Mark stood alone, featured in his own stories. He wore a simple red mask, and fought bad guys. Weirdly, his skin color changed from cover to cover, and in the pages as well. But, for sure he was an African (edit: correction, not African but likely a Pacific Islander) chief who masqueraded as a heroic masked fighter. Not much else is known.

But then, a real surprise came in 1947 with an obscurity, All Negro Comics – a single-issue, small-press American comic book published, written and drawn solely by African-American writers and artists.

Inside this special issue were multiple stories including “Ace Harlem” was an African-American police detective. The featured superhero was Lion Man, the first Black hero created by a Black man (Geo. J. Evans Jr.). He was “a college-educated African American sent by the United Nations on a mission to a uranium deposit on Africa’s Gold Coast, where he adopted the mischievous orphan Bubba.” Though his character costume was jungle-tribal style attire, it meant to more to inspire black American pride in their African heritage.

Yet, still a jungle-themed man, but with noble intentions at least.

Eventually came Jungle Tales #1-7, released circa 1954 featuring Waku of the Bantu, another African prince protagonist hero who battled sometimes battled supernatural foes. His serialization was part of an anthology of tales published by Atlas Comics (previously Timely Comics, and then soon rebranded as Marvel Comics). Waku was a more developed hero who favored non-violent solutions, yet skilled at martial combat, by writer Don Rico and artist Ogden Whitney. The comic art and storytelling was high quality…

And that pretty much all, ushering in a new Silver Age of comic books to come with the rise of Marvel Comics and the evolution of DC Comics. The Black Panther of Marvel Comics would arrive, though still carrying on the jungle royalty archetype. At least T’Challa wasn’t restricted to a loincloth, and hailed from a nation that was more technologically advanced, yet remained hidden and low-key to prevent the curiosity of outsiders.

The 1970s would play up a new type of African American hero, the urban tough city streets defender with the likes of Luke Cage, Black Lightning, Green Lantern (Jon Stewart), Black Goliath, Misty Knight; major players of the Blaxploitation era. Black Vulcan of the Super Friends TV cartoon, I think, was the first Black superhero to hit the mainstream beyond comic books.

Soon after, many more including the New Teen Titan’s Cyborg, where I jumped in. The 90s brought so many more Black superheroes of all types, including African princes to jump back in. Some would get an upgrade and felt more fitting to our modern era. Even Mandrake’s Lothar developed into more in his character reboot alongside Mandrake in the Defenders of Earth animated cartoon and comics. He was still a loyal bodyguard, but described not as an African prince. According to his action figure package lore, he is a “Ninja from the Caribbean.”

So yes, African American and Black superheroes in general share a strange yet developed tradition, which may not have had the best beginnings, but will remain and continue to represent, and be admired and inspire for centuries to come.

In memory of the Konami Code, a life hack symbol from Kazuhisa Hashimoto

UP, UP, DOWN, DOWN, LEFT, RIGHT, LEFT RIGHT, B, A (and then Start usually)

For my life forward, that famous Konami Code known among classic video gaming enthusiasts, shall remain a part of my continual development. That was my first cheat into a grand system, for a secret shortcut can provide the best path to victory, in dealing with stacked unfavorable odds in the way.

Thank much to the code creator Kazuhisa Hashimoto, long-time video game developer, programmer, and producer of many Konami published games, who recently passed away on February 25, 2020, at 61 years of age. He remains well-known among game history enthusiasts, as the person who implemented a sequence of button presses intended for early Konami-published games for the 8-bit original Nintendo Entertainment System. The result of this sequence would give the player special advantages, such as extra lives or power-ups, to help finish a difficult game.

The sequence meant for play-testers in the development of his first game Gradius. The develops left the code within the game, to avoid possible glitches and disruptions in its complex program. This code was used in other games by Konami at the time, and eventually discovered by the public, and shared.

This nostalgic code is an odd note for one person to be remembered, after passing away. It’s referenced often, and well-known to many hard-core gamers of every generation, as a nostalgic footnote into the complex history of interactive games. What made the Konami Code special? There were many cheat codes and game hacks at the time, usually shared in gaming magazines and tip books. But the Konami Code, so unforgettable though history

For me, it was a symbol of my upbringing with the glory days of Nintendo’s 8-bit era. I lived a less-privileged childhood, often hustling in the deep urban city streets of San Francisco for money. Nearly every NES video game of my early collection, I saved up for, from doing small errands for some street artists around Fisherman’s Wharf. It was a hard early life not depending on my parents for money, but I found my way through an advantage of many there knowing my parents, thus trusting me with their money.

My Nintendo collection grew, with much money earned on my own. After the included Super Mario/Duck Hunt game, I purchased Blaster Master, Legend of Zelda, Contra, Life Force, others including the first Final Fantasy game on the day it was released. But, going back to Contra, I would find a special fixation.

Contra was an awesome side-scrolling shoot-em-up game, an epitome of 80’s macho space marine commando types sent to stop some sinister hybrid army of enemy soldiers and nasty space aliens. That game was difficult for me at that time. Yet, I felt obsessed with finishing its programmed conclusion eventually. I had rescued Princess Toadstool from King Koopa, defeated Ganon twice, triumphed over mutant overlords, and street gang bosses. But saving the Earth by dodging a hail of bullets, traps, claws, lasers, and everything else in between seemed impossible on less than three lives and limited continues.

I would learn through an old Nintendo Power magazine, of some cool secret code that gives 30 extra lives to one playing Contra. Just use that secret Konami code with special directions on your Nintendo Control Pad, and there you go. You can save the Earth on much easier terms.

And that I did, finally ending the game to a somewhat satisfying end. I would tell my friends, share at school, proudly share the mighty secret that Contra the game can be beaten, with this super-secret code. And then, I discovered and shared the same code in other Konami published games, usually in Gradius and Contra sequels.

But something happened with repeat plays that original Contra, and my love later for the Gradius games. I got really good, especially with Gradius III on the Super Nintendo. I could play that on the hardest mode, and lose 0-3 lives in one single play without a single continue. Yet, I had to punch in that code, to bring that satisfaction of added safety, or…

Maybe a small reminder of just how much power I had before the game begins. Nothing felt hidden from me that could otherwise be found, and perhaps that’s the real power of the Konami Code, where it was applicable.

And then, much else difficulty in systematic design seemed less unfair. Never look at the obvious in front of you, as an impossible puzzle. See what else there is, and especially look out for cheat codes in some metaphorical sense. Cheat codes in that sense were should be legal, yet not well known to the general public for obtaining tough objectives in difficult times. That for me would include applying for free school credits in community college through proving my lack of income, discovering tax fixes leading to a bigger refund, volunteering to do press work that would get me into special events, with free food and sometimes free places to stay. So much more, from all this, leading me to survive in the most difficult times.

So thank you Kazuhisa Hashimoto, for creating that memorable, fun way to originally test your games. Having that, lead the way to a path many gamers of hold, can still symbolize for the rest of our lives as that life hack held within.

Treasures of the Portland Retro Gaming Expos, Part 2 (Nintendo Power!)

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(Continued from Part 1 of my adventures through the annual Portland Retro Gaming Expo, 2019)

This next part is dedicated to an awesome featured part of the PRGE, its video game history room. This mini-museum is presented by the Video Game History Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to preserving interactive entertainment’s past. Their focus for this show was the 30th anniversary year of Nintendo’s Game Boy handheld, and Nintendo’s pre-Internet game counselor service. 

So, many amazing treasures on display here, I took some pictures, of which I am proud to share below…

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A display of company jackets worn by the Nintendo Game counselors…

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Just who were these Game Counselors? Well, back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, players could call via their telephone, and speak to a human being on getting through the hardest part of their video games.

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The game counselors had a variety of aids, handbooks, demo copies, whatever it took to deliver that awesome service with a smile.

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And more interesting Nintendo treasures from within

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An example of a game counselor station, which in its prime had over 400 ready to take calls.

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One of many subtle touches to build company pride, among the service.

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Many counselors had their own maps, some hand-drawn and their own notes to help callers

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And there is the Game Boy portion of the PRGE history museum. Lots of ads and posters, showcasing its past aesthetic.

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More past relics, and merch tie-ins

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And of course Tetris, which helped make the Game Boy a smashing success.  it’s main launch title which initially came with the Game Boy.

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But before the Game Boy, Nintendo had other handheld products which helped paved the way for company success.

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The Nintendo Game Boy had more than just games!

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Including a sewing machine peripheral.

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Overall, this was an awesome experience for fans of Nintendo and game history. Check out www.gamehistory.org for more on the Video Game History Foundation.

My early years of the San Diego Comic-Con, 1994-1999

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The San Diego Comic-Con will reach its golden 50th year anniversary, this year. I am super excited, not just for being the surely amazing extravaganza of this yearly event…

2019 is personally exciting for marking my silver 25th anniversary in attendance for the annual Comic-Con, since 1994.

I proudly think back to each wonderful year being special and well worth the travel costs (with setbacks at times). I always look forward to the SDCC, being my shared megacenter on converged passions in creative print and digital media routed in deep, imaginary levels of far-out storytelling. Thus, I share many personal moments with friends, interact with and cheer on creative talent, embark on crazy treasure hunts, panel-hop, discover new properties, promote my projects, do a lot of presswork, help retailers, and much more.

The SDCC is now more important to me than all the holidays, and birthday. I love this show, with all that connects to it. And with all that, comes the growth and constant changes it brings. Now that means lotteries everywhere, more outside events, grander cosplay meetups, more art commissions, creator interactions, celebs, and the chance for comic companies to really stand out (getting more difficult now).

But it wasn’t always that way. Comic-Con had its simple carefree years slowly escalating to its maxed-out frenzy now. You could walk in, buy a ticket, and do regular convention things like shop and meet some artistic creators or B-tier celebs, admiring the cosplay in between. San Diego Comic Con just offered more of it, which was my impression between 1994-1999, my first five years in attendance.

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The Exhibit Hall in 1998, picture credit – the 1999  San Diego Comic-Con Souvenir Guide

Conventions focusing on collectibles and fandom would become my jam throughout the 90s, starting with my first Star Trek convention in 1991, then a few small local comic conventions in San Francisco. I regularly attended a quasi-convention that occurred twice-a-week, east of Los Angeles (Frank and Sons). My euphoria bloomed from treasure hunts among dealer tables, usually obtaining cheap comics, anime VHS tapes, odd trinkets, and cards.

On with the show!

I would learn of the San Diego Comic-Con through early comic book mags including Wizard, Comics Buyers Guide, and similar zines. It seemed like an important big deal and bigger than anything I attended before. Eventually, my time to see for myself would come for the first time in 1994, with a ride offered to San Diego along with an extra ticket, by a very good friend.

My time there was short, and my wallet small. I purchased a stack worth of bargain comics adding to a pile of promo freebies (lots of ashcans) from the various booths. I also missed out on a lot of great programming…

 

Above: The Friday and Saturday Schedule from the 1994 Comic-Con Event Guide.

I would return to buy my own ticket for 1995 and 1996, but only a day for each. For 1997, I would buy a full pass but only attend three days. Then for 1998-1999, I come as a retailer representing my comic book store worked in Diamond Bar, California (Comics and Stuff), to engage on the more business side of the industry.

Comic books, everywhere!

Comic books were my main focus in attending, branching off as a buyer and having an interest in meeting creators or listening to them talk. Throughout the 90s, comic books and graphic novels were the center focus of the show for most attendees. Bargain bins were everywhere, vintage and rare books were plenty, and all the main companies were present.

The crazes were a mixed bag. Indie comics were on the rise, with Image taking the lead (but then Wildstorm, Top Cow sub-publishers beginning to splinter off). The bad girl craze was in full effect, where scantily clad warrior women would take charge with Lady Death, Vampirella, Shi, Witchblade, Fathom in the lead. Marvel Comics presence weakened a little since their record-breaking boost in the early ’90s, but still showing strength with its many X-Men and Spider-man titles,. DC Comics also hit some trouble spots but grabbed new attention with some very different series including JLA, Kingdom ComePreacher. 

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Page clip from the 1999  San Diego Comic-Con Souvenir Guide

Plentiful presence of creative talent!

Best of all at the SDCC, nearly all the creators of the popular books were there. If there was someone you admired, just bring your books or buy some at a booth, then find out which spot that person was at for a good signing. Neil Gaiman, Garth Ennis, Grant Morrison, Jim Lee, Todd McFarlane, J. Scott Campbell, Mike Turner with many more were around!

Sketchbooks were a common thing to bring, and essential for the best personal interaction with artists. Many artists were often happy to provide a little doodle or something grand for commission price. I would just pull out a backboard from a bagged comic. I would go for pretty much anyone, but finding someone I admired by chance.

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Six-Pack from the Hitman series by John McCrea…not exactly the late 90s, but definitely a favorite artist of the time.

There’s more than comics at Comic-Con, right?!

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1995 San Diego Comic-Con event guide

Right, and plenty around. But, not front and center.

The Hollywood presence was small, using the Comic-Con to promote with some grand display or large props including the train from Mystery Men or the Time Machine from The Time Machine. Such things were visually cool but wouldn’t attract much in lines unless there was signing or swag (usually a poster) given out. When there were movie panels promoting wide-release, usually the director, some staff, and some co-stars would show up. The top-billed cast to a major film would be unheard at this con, at the time.

Pop-culture presence outside of comic books was dependant on fan and cult popularity. Xena, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Babylon 5, X-Files were often discussed and sought in collectible merch, plentiful on the Exhibit floor. The Star Trek franchise remained strong, with plenty of fans dressed as Klingons and Starfleet crew proud to represent.

1999 was a killer year for movies among the geek culture, with Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, The Matrix, Austin Powers IIBlade, Blair Witch; all bringing new talk and buzz among attendees to help to promote and buy the fresh merch. Movie marketers were definitely taking notes, for the next decade to come.

Meanwhile, I would find a growing love for Japanimation, or as it was growing to be called…anime. The SDCC was a place for such fans to gather and appreciate the growing fandom of Dragonball Z, Sailor Moon, and many new imports on their way. Cosplay was well represented, as the anime conventions would raise that craft to new levels.

Indie film companies also had their presence at the SDCC, most notably The Troma booth, where Lloyd Kaufman himself would greet fans and recommend a VHS tape or something called a DVD.

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A two-page sampling of events from the 1995 SDCC Event Guide

Social interaction!

The show would grow from 34,000-42,000, keeping steady and never selling quite out. The lines to enter first on Wednesday and Thursday morning were absurdly long, leading to bigger crowds and forcing the SDCC organizers to adapt and grow for the coming years.

Throughout the day, one could easily make friends sharing a large table, waiting for a panel to start, or waiting in line; sometimes sharing in treasures gained, or overhearing a discussion of who would win in a with a fight of who, discussing latest storylines in comics. Such social interaction of Comic-Con would remain a cornerstone of its success for every year.

Cosplay was growing, though we referred to that scene as “people dressing up” and less of the sub-culture it’s become today. Craftmanship was appreciated as a surprise, though effort and tribute were worthy enough of a point and shoot of our very limited 35mm cameras.

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The Comic-Con nightlife was small, yet available for those willing to stay up. The Saturday night Masquerade and after party at the convention center was the best bonus for attendees there for that night. For many others on Thursday to Saturday, catching a movie in one of many rooms through the late night remained plentiful. I could always count on some random anime or goofy indie film to watch with a few strangers and be very much entertained. Afterward, some fun chit chat among strangers and looking to see what else left for us night owls.

The Exhibit Hall at Comic-Con, a growing thing…

Only a fraction then of what it is now. Here is the layout for 1996:

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I recall a giant life-sized Alien queen at the Dark Horse booth, something I wish would come back rebuilt. All the big comic book companies had large signs with big tables of freebies. Next up from comics were toys as McFarlane Toys were highly visible, setting a new standard for other companies to catch up. Moore Creations was popular for a while, taking some daring steps with collectible female-oriented figures…especially Lady Death, Witchblade, then Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Some variant colors of figures were around, sometimes con-exclusive. That trend was just beginning.

Overall, the Exhibit Hall had something for everyone, with surprises sometimes. I remember one time waiting in line, and suddenly I met Renee O Conner (Gabrielle from Xena the Warrior Princess). I smile and she smiled back while signing autographs for others, then a security man motioned me to get to the back of a very long line, which I had no time for.

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Panels, panels, panels!

Another essential part of a great con is always the panels of presentations, Q and A sessions, and helpful info. The first panel I went to was in 1996, ” Spotlight on Evan Dorkin,” whose cartoonist work I enjoyed in both Dork and Milk & Cheese. I enjoyed every minute of his personal humor, poking fun at audience members. I recall an awesome panel from Troma Studios (not sure on the year), where Lloyd Kaufman enacted a cheap special effect of a head squishing, very inspiring! I would also join Stan Lee briefly in a room showcasing with a short preview, the movie Blade in 1998. No Wesley Snipes present, but I was happy to see Stan Lee in person for the first of many times.

The more time I spent at Comic-Con over the years, the more exploring open rooms, sit down and see what was talked about, then move to another room..sometimes watch a movie. Such great times, that would grow!

Only a small percent of a small percent!

There are more bit to share about the SDCC in its growth throughout its 50 years, from many attendees with varied memorable, often wonderful experiences. Publishers and creatives would come and go, some keep it real, a new trend practically every year. The late 90s’s set many new roots for the next two decades, raising the experiences and possibilities of the show to its grander heights.

Here is the programming in the 1998 event guide for Friday and Saturday, which you can see from the earlier picture, just how much it has grown in that short time…

 

 

(click on each to enlarge)

What I miss, are the carefree moments of less pressure in making plans. There was definitely less of the exclusives frenzy and nearly no clamoring for celebrities. Though some lesser famous actors, directors would grow from the fandom interaction, including those notable…Bruce Campbell, Kevin Smith, Seth Green, Lucy Lawless. Comic book creators (especially popular artists including Todd McFarlane, J. Scott Campbell, Michael Turner, Jim Lee, Joe Madureira) of the best-selling books were the biggest draws of the show, for this time.

But for me, the experiences of those early SDCC years were enough to set my dedication in attending for many years forward, into the tradition I would hold, and share in many more write-ups. I would think sometimes if there was a better show for comics and related fandoms out there. Will I ever stop going to this thing? Will the show I have barely known in those old magazines, raise the pop culture of geek entertainment to mainstream status, spreading from comics to other media formats. I won’t wait long to find out, just a lot more lines with fun people.

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My only remaining picture of those late 90 years, done from a point and shoot. The rest are lost, probably forever. And yes, that’s me next to Harley Quinn..either 1998 or 1999.

Mipumi Games announces THE LION’S SONG final chapter and mobile version

Austrian indie developer Mipumi Games recently announced the full release of their award-winning adventure series The Lion’s Song as its final episode of the “Closure” will release in July. Also in the same month, its mobile version will début on IOS and Android platforms.

The Lion’s Song series comes full circle since its first episode premiered in July 2016, with its memorable and evocative story-driven gameplay, stylized graphics and haunting soundtrack. For those yet familiar with the game…

Each episode of The Lion’s Song, a narrative adventure game steeped in early 20th-century history, showcases a cast of fictional Austrian artists and scientists each blessed with an exceptional creative mind. With each chapter taking a closer look at their intimate struggles with creativity and inspiration, players can take the characters on very different paths and enjoy alternative playthroughs. The choices players make in each episode will have a direct impact on the storylines of all future and past episodes, connecting the individual episodes of The Lion’s Song into one overarching narrative. Emotions will run high as players make connections with each character, and work to navigate and experience their lives in different ways with different outcomes.

Episode 4 “Closure,” will take players on a mysterious train journey that brings together three strangers and connects the storylines of all three previously released episodes. What stories will they share along the way and where will their journey end?

Mipumi Games recently released a new trailer:

The Season Pass for The Lion’s Song containing all four episodes is now available on Steam for £8.99 / €9.99 / $9.99. Alternatively, Episode 1 – Silence is available for free with the other episodes available for £3.49 / €3.99 / $3.99 each. Episode 4 will launch on Steam in July, along with the complete season available on iOS and Android mobile platforms.

For more information on The Lion’s Song, visit www.lionssonggame.com.

Eisner-nominated series THE OTHER SIDE set for deluxe hardcover, in July

Image Comics recently announced its definitive hardcover edition of The Other Side, a Vietnam War comic mini-series by writer Jason Aaron (Southern Bastards, The Goddamned, Scalped) and artist Cameron Stewart (Motor Crush, Fight Club 2), set for release this coming July.

The Other Side tells of an unforgettable Vietnam War story from the point of view of two young soldiers on either side of the conflict.

The deluxe edition will include extra content from the both writer and artist, including Cameron Stewart’s pictures, drawings, and journal entries from his preliminary research trip to Vietnam.

“I’ve never worked harder on a comic than I did on this,” said Aaron. “And if I hadn’t, I don’t know where I’d be today. This book gave me a career. And in these pages, Cameron and Dave McCaig gave us all some of the most intense and haunting visuals the war comic genre has ever seen.”

“Working on this book was one of the highlights of both my career and my life so far, and I’m thrilled for it to be re-released in this deluxe edition,” said Stewart. “I think it remains as visceral and powerful today as it did a decade ago.”

The Other Side: Special Edition hardcover (ISBN: 978-1-5343-0222-8) arrives in comic book stores Wednesday, July 26th, and bookstores Tuesday, August 1st.

SHOVEL KNIGHT: OFFICIAL DESIGN WORKS, an upcoming artbook, fans will dig

Udon Entertainment recently announced its release of Shovel Knight: Official Design Works, a treasure trove book full of behind-the-scenes art and in-depth development info.

The Shovel Knight franchise continues to dig into the hearts of fans worldwide since 2014, with over 1.5 million copies sold.

Now with developer Yacht Club Games, Udon presents Shovel Knight: Official Design Works as the definitive Shovel Knight art book for its biggest fans. Within, you will find character art, developer commentary, rough illustrations and concept art, background development images, comprehensive sprite sheets, full-page promotional illustrations, and more – including an exclusive interview with the game’s development team! Also included, is material dug up from Shovel Knight: Plague of Shadows, the game’s first major downloadable content expansion.

“After more than a year of work, it’s finally complete! We here at Yacht Club Games are proud and delighted to realize one of our dreams – a Shovel Knight art book produced by UDON!” said Yacht Club Games. “We genuinely hope you enjoy the never-before-seen concepts and anecdotes detailed within!”

(see preview below)

Shovel Knight: Official Design Works will be available for purchase in August 2017. Ask for it at better comic book stores, book retailers, and various online retailers.

 

UNDISPUTED STREET FIGHTER, new behind the game series book coming

Dynamite Entertainment announces the next volume in its Video Game Icons series, Undisputed Street Fighter: The Art and Innovation Behind the Game-Changing Series, written by Steve Hendershot and edited by Tim Lapetino, in cooperation with Capcom Entertainment.

This new book coming celebrates 30 years of the beloved fighting game franchise, with a retrospective delving into the art, design, gameplay, and storytelling behind Street Fighter, as well as the series’ impact on popular culture and game design. Over 300 pages will feature in-depth interviews and exclusive, behind-the-scenes looks into the making of the Street Fighter games while featuring some of the iconic art, design, and imagery from across the Street Fighter universe.

(see preview below)

Undisputed Street Fighter is the third book in the Video Game Icons series, after the popular release of Art of Atari and Art of Atari Poster Collection. Writer Steve Hendershot is an award-winning Chicago journalist and the editorial director of MOVA, the Museum of Video Game Art.  Editor Tim Lapetino is the Series Editor for Dynamite’s exclusive line of books, Video Game Icons, and the Executive Director of MOVA, the Museum of Video Game Art.

Undisputed Street Fighter will be available in major bookstore chains, online booksellers, and independent bookstores and to consumers through the comic book specialty market. Also, this book will be available through digital format platforms: Comixology, Dynamite Digital, iVerse, and Dark Horse Digital. Release date to be announced, check with Dynamite and Capcom sites (or your local book retailer) in the near future for more info.

 

SW Comics Recommendation: PREZ, Vol. 1: Corndog in Chief

 Prez volume 1

Prez – Vol. 1: Corndog in Chief

  • Writer: Mark Russell
  • Artist: Ben Caldwell , Mark Morales
  • Published by: DC Comics
  • Pages: 161, Publish Date: February 9 2016, Age Rating: 12+
  • Notes: Collects 1-6 of the monthly series started in 2015, and seemingly discontinued. Available in print and DC digital apps

Synopsis:

“America’s first teenaged president is on the job in this contemporary twist on a DC classic! Oregon teen Beth Ross has just been elected President of the United States of America. Age restrictions were abolished when corporations gained the right to run for office and voting booths have been replaced by Twitter, making just about anyone eligible for the nation’s top job, including the viral-video-famous Corndog Girl! Now the eyes of the nation are on Beth. But in a world so out of control that the poor are willing to shoot themselves on TV for a chance at a better life, will even the new president have the power needed to overthrow the nation’s true leaders-Boss Smiley and his corporate shadow government?

Writer Mark Russell (God Is Disappointed in You) teams with artists Ben Caldwell (JUSTICE LEAGUE BEYOND) and Mark Morales (X-Force, Secret Invasion) to revive and reinvent a classic! Collects PREZ #1-6 and SNEAK PEEK: PREZ #1.”

Personal Thoughts (minor spoilers):

There is a lacking of something I from today’s comics storytelling, missing from the overall scope of costumed melodramas, laser guided dystopias, rebirthings, cosmic angst, and the usual civil disagreements. I don’t see much satire, hitting hard on familiar modern issues without pandering to any particular political mindset. I feel a popular mindset upon those who dare try, tend to focus upon the obvious disturbances of dystopia building, whether it’s privacy or the unending reach of the data-mugging social networkings.

But, along comes this new (and I think cancelled too soon) comic series based on an obscure short-lived series from the 1970s, Prez. The new series stands alone with little to do with the original other than the premise of a teenager president. The overall setting nor is a somewhat mix of the present, the coming present, and the far more reaching (yet less far-fetching with the absurdity of today’s headlines) style of the movie Idiocracy.  Prez invokes thought, while holding a fun house mirror to our current American views and changing ways of life. Such thought is not necessarily too serious or overlay pretentious; just brilliant in the execution that brings the reader into a strange new world of border guarding mechs and holographic politicians.

The premise of Prez one would assume is simple for the simple-minded, probably dumbed down it was for a movie, or passed off as a junior reader book. Beth Ross is a sort of victim of chance as her accidental online fame on Twitter, brought upon by a fast food accident. While raising money on a Kickstarterish health care program to her suffering grandfather, she finds more fame through and Anonymous 4-chanish prank to propel her into the Oval Office candidacy. As the title destined, Beth is eventually sworn in as Commander-in-Chief. But with that great power, comes great influence from private interests and sinister forces.

Beth Ross is a bit of conundrum in modern storytelling where the main character is not as prime as we would be lead to believe. Like our real presidents, we ponder just what they can change, with the grip on everything around her and then reaching out to her. Her very appearance is a sort of every-person, with a grasp on her own individuality and natural compassion for family and friends. She treats new problems with her own logic and fairness. It is perhaps through the reader’s sense of what’s wrong with her world and ours, is there a connection to her actions and reactions and if they truly can overcome the overreaching process. We can only wish, for there are some consequential developments in her decisions.

Photo Jul 16, 1 58 32 PM

The self-contained world of Prez is one with lunacy and far-fetching absurdity, or is it? Food delivery drones, health-care driven sickstarters, calculated pop-culture, war-machine driven entertainment, game-show immigration, and faceless industrial heads hidden behind images looking to graft their twisted culture and advert imagery unto us. Such things have elements of familiarity in our world, as all great satire should.

The trade paperback is a nice package of the first six issues, the sneak peek prologue story, and some extra goodies at the end providing a little insight and commentary. The art is well defined, with colors that pop-enough to tell the story. I hope there for a continuation someday, though more doubtful as time passes (sigh). Otherwise, still a worthwhile purchase for the content so far.

– Orion T

Time Warp, 10 years back to the San Diego Comic Con 2006..

Picture 102

The great San Diego Comic Con is coming back again, for its 47th year very soon. Attendees will find the usual large huge amount of creative talent, merchants, cosplayers, publishers, and those throughout every crack of the pop-entertainment, science fiction, fantasy, independent creative industries. Such will cover but not limited to the movies, TV shows, games (digital and tabletop), books, and comics (especially and foremost).

But here below is a flashback in pictures to a Comic Con past, to the year 2006. The show still sold out, but not as fast. The celebrity presence was settling in, though not nearly as fast as the years later. For those looking to mingle, the elbow room was there. Lines were still rough, but to the point where lotteries where necessary for tickets.

I saved some pics, and now putting them out for all Strangers to see below. Click on each for some identification and info.

That’s all for now. If you have pics of that year to add, or perhaps know more info on any pic above, feel free to leave a comment.

All pictures taken by me (Orion T), and published exclusively for Stranger Worlds 2006. For permissions on use or questions, feel free to contact me.