Monday, July 27, 2015

Now For Sale through Sequential Crush - Oni's Ares & Aphrodite: Love Wars

One of the greatest pleasures of summer is sitting outside, sipping an ice-cold drink, and reading a good book. I don't know about you, but I always find myself reading exponentially more during the summer months. Are you a summer reader like me? If so, and you find yourself in need of something new to dig into, might I suggest Ares & Aphrodite: Love Wars (Oni Press) by Jamie S. Rich and Megan Levens?

The romance genre is making a real resurgence in comic books, and Ares & Aphrodite is one of the leaders in this exciting renewed interest. I was beyond stoked when the creators asked if I would be a part of the project by writing the afterword, which is only available in this trade version. To make things easy, you can now buy the trade paperback version directly from me at my Gumroad store. Sure, I may not be as big as Amazon, but I will include a personalized note (stickers anyone?!) and I'm happy to sign the book if you'd like!

If you aren't familiar with the story, I'll let you in on a few things. Our handsome leading man is Will Ares, a divorce lawyer. When he meets cute-as-a-button Gigi Averelle (a wedding planner of all things) through their respective clients, it's love at first sight -- for Will at least! Gigi on the other hand, makes Will jump through a few hoops. Ares & Aphrodite is a gorgeously illustrated romance story that will keep you on the edge of your seat... Will Gigi and her suitor get together and let romance bloom or will their flirtatious battle keep on going? You are going to have to read it to find out! 

If you are interested in purchasing a copy, just head on over to my Gumroad store! I hope that you will take this opportunity to check out a fantastic romance story, and if you do, please let me know what you think!

Thank you so much for your support! 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Charlton Romance Comics Take on Alcoholism - One for the Road

Ah, cautionary tales! As readers today, these tend to be the types of stories that help give the impression that romance comics were tone deaf to the needs of teen readers -- no matter how well meaning. "One for the Road" from Charlton's For Lovers Only #81 (October 1975) is one such story. I believe this to be a reprint (or commissioned sometime in the 1960s), due to the mod clothing worn by the characters. There appears to be a signature on the splash page, but I am unable to identify the artist at this time.

Before we dive in, it's worth pointing out the narration at the top of the page as an indicator of where the story is going to go:

"In this era of pot, acid, tranks, and all the other
garbage some kids do, I had to go and get involved with
one of the deadliest things of all... booze!"

I don't know about you but in my mind, dropping acid seems a bit more risky than indulging in a glass of wine (responsibly of course), but alas! Charlton did here what they did best... baffle. Interestingly enough, just a few years earlier, Charlton and its signature character Jonnie Love gave a sequential lecture on the danger of narcotics. Anyhow! Let's move on to today's story!

As you already saw in the splash page, Eve has tried wine for the first time... and well, she likes it. Like, really likes it. Reb, the man who introduced Eve to alcohol and is quickly becoming the object of her affection, tries to get her to slow down.

Unfortunately, it becomes clear that Eve is an alcoholic. Reb's ensuing quest to get Eve off the sauce proves fruitless.

Eve's girlfriends can't even convince her to take it easy.

Eve grows increasingly irritated with the concerns of those around her. She pays no mind to them, however, and continues to revel in her new found hobby. 

Reb grows especially concerned when Eve tells him one day that she "needs" a drink. Eve doesn't see Reb's concern for her, as she feels that he is just "preaching" at her. Eve flips out on him, gets out of his car, and tells him to get out of her life. She then flags down a passing car in hopes they will drive her back to town.

The car that picks her up (Eve clearly didn't read the DC story on the dangers of hitchhiking!) contains two sketchy men, but Eve gets in with them anyway. The three head to a bar, and the men proceed to buy Eve drink after drink. When one moves in on her, she demands that the men let her out to get a taxi. The guys pull over and as she runs off, a police officer passes in his squad car. Eve expresses her displeasure to the cop in all the "rat finks" around her. Taking pity on the distraught young woman the cop calls a taxi, and lets Eve sit in his car until her ride shows.

When Eve arrives home, her mother expresses concern with Eve's drinking, blaming it on Reb. Eve explains to her that Reb tried to warn her, but she got hooked despite his admonitions. Having had enough of being questioned, Eve heads out for a martini. Suddenly, Reb shows up and declares his love for Eve... the sober Eve. Reb lets her know how much he wants to marry her, but first, she must get on the wagon. Reb takes Eve to a doctor, who promptly prescribes her a "mild tranquilizer" and assures her that the pounds she's packed on during her bender will melt away.

Upon leaving the doctor's office, Reb suggests he and his sweetheart go to city hall and get married immediately. Eve convinces Reb that they should wait a month to make sure she is "cured," and so that she can lose the weight she gained so she will look good on their honeymoon. The two kiss, and presumably, live happily ever after with not a drop to drink.

While I know this is just a comic book story, the implication that curing alcoholism with the snap of a finger and tranquilizers seems like a more damaging message to me than no message at all. Though the story is beautifully illustrated and gets its point across well enough, for me, the Win Mortimer illustrated cautionary tale, "Pajama Party: The Night I Wish Never Happened" is far more impactful.

Either way, I hope you've enjoyed this little trip into the wacky world that is Charlton! I'd love to hear your thoughts on this story!

Thanks so much for reading!
If you haven't already, be sure to sign up
for the Sequential Crush newsletter email list
for more romance comic book goodness! 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

10 Tips for Attending Comic Book Conventions - San Diego Comic-Con and Beyond!

When I spoke to my dad over the weekend, he teased, "I bet I know where you wish you were gonna be on Thursday." Sigh -- yes, dad... San Diego, California!

This year I'm not going to the annual extravaganza known as Comic-Con, but I have been to an abundance of comic book conventions over my lifetime, including San Diego. In fact, I started attending them in the womb (thanks to my grandfather being a comic book artist), so I like to think I'm a bit of an expert. I've often found myself behind artist alley tables as an exhibitor in one way or another, but I've also done my fair share of conventions as an attendee. Most recently, I went to Charlotte HeroesCon, and it got me thinking. What would be some of the advice I would give someone attending a con for the first time? So, without further ado, here are my tips for making the most out of a comic book convention. If you have anything to add, please be sure to leave a comment!

With my dad at the 2011 Eisner Awards,
the last time I attended San Diego
Comic-Con International.

1.) Arrange your pass ahead of time

If you are going to a big show like San Diego, you will undoubtedly have your pass taken care of well in advance. If going to a smaller show and you aren't an exhibitor, make sure you have a plan for getting passes. Buying them online is usually a good bet. You may have to wait in line even if you do purchase your tickets in advance, so just be sure to get to the convention with enough time to spare and with something to entertain you while you wait. Going prepared will help get your convention experience off to a great start!

2.) Plan, but leave yourself open to magic

Due to the multifaceted nature of comic book conventions, it's a good idea to have an idea of what you want to do at the con. Do you want to hit up the dealers? Stick to artist alley? Attend panels? If you have a loose idea it will help you maximize your time, but still allows for the random, the happenstance, and the magical.

You won't feel guilty if you stick to your budget!

3.) Budget

Setting a budget before you are faced with all your most favorite things in the world will help you stave off guilt and have the best time possible. I like to give myself a tiny buffer, but basically, when I've reached my max I have to stop purchasing. It is sad, but will help prevent much more serious sadness down the line! If you plan to stay after you've maxed out your con budget, having that limit in place will give you a chance to talk to people and enjoy the atmosphere without worrying about buying stuff and hauling it around.

4.) Bring a list of what you are looking for

Having a list of what you plan on purchasing will keep you focused and help you stay within your budget. Before attending a con, I like to print out my romance comic book inventory and only make purchases where there are gaps in my collection. Before I started using a list, I wound up buying too many duplicates. As an added bonus, having a list can be a great conversation starter with other con attendees!

5.) Get enough sleep

Staying up all night after the con can be a ton of fun, but so is getting the proper amount of sleep. This could just be the newly minted 30 year old in me, but seriously... you do not want to be tired at the actual convention.

Beware the dreaded convention hall food!

6.) Eat healthy meals and snacks

Convention hall food is expensive. It is also usually not very good, and sitting on the floor to eat greasy pizza is less than optimal in my experience. In that light, be sure to eat a good, hearty breakfast before you leave and take healthy snacks. Easy (not messy) snacks are always a good bet if the convention hall allows it, and remember -- no eating or drinking over dealer or artist tables! If it is nice outside, this would be a perfect opportunity to take a little outdoor break. After the convention, be sure to have a dinner plan or risk you and your friends getting hangry -- I may or may not speak from personal experience on this one!

7.) Wear comfy shoes

In the words of the legendary Stan Lee, "‘Nuff said!"

8.) Say hello

With only a few exceptions, people at conventions are extremely friendly and they want to talk to you! I know it can be a little nerve-wracking to go up to your favorite creator, but just take a deep breath, and remember that they are people too. Be polite and courteous of their time and table space, and you are bound to have an excellent conversation.

9.) Bring a rigid protective sleeve or portfolio

Most large cons will have a dealer selling supplies. However, it's a good idea to plan ahead and bring your own portfolio or rigid toploader. A small upfront investment will come in handy to store your purchases and prevent damage to those gorgeous pieces of art you pick up.

10.) Pack lightly but don't forget the essentials

You are going to get tired if you are hauling around a ton of stuff before you even purchase anything. Some convention halls do not allow rolling suitcases for whatever reason, so I advise packing light. Essentials I recommend taking with you on the convention floor include hand sanitizer, deodorant, tissues, mints, and a light extra layer. Sometimes the AC can be overpowering! You may also want to bring a small notebook or have your phone handy to jot down cool things you see that you want to investigate further.

Most importantly, have fun!

Am I forgetting anything? Let me know and/or share
your convention tips in the comments below!

Thanks so much for reading!
If you haven't already, be sure to sign up for the
Sequential Crush newsletter email list
for more romance comic book goodness!