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Tales of the Con Posts

Afterthoughts – VV Comic Expo – Tales of the Con

The most important thing for us here at TOTC isn’t comics or pop culture or any of our hobbies, it’s our community. After all, none of us would be where we are today without the support of our communities through our lives. So when we heard about the Verde Valley Comic Expo we were absolutely ecstatic.

This was after all, a place for comic creators of all types locally and abroad to come together, and it was happening in our own backyard no less. The TOTC team hit the local street this past Saturday in full colors to see what it was all about.

Organized and ran by locals almost entirely, The Verde Valley Comic Expo ended up being something of a hit in Cottonwood. Three hundred and ten total guests were in attendance including the six of us, and I only really count as half of a person! There were fans of all ages and levels of involvement there, from kids brought by their parents to see cosplayers to die hard comic fans eagerly picking through cardboard longboxes.

You wouldn’t have just found local comic fans and creators there, people came from all over the valley for the expo itself and some of the presenters came from out of the state just to be at our humble little comic expo in Cottonwood. How could TOTC miss such an amazing chance to listen to stories, shake hands and kiss babies?* (*Editors note: No babies were kissed, especially not by the literally undead member of staff.)  

Getting to be right at the ground level of this kind of engagement and excitement here locally was sort of amazing. It’s one thing to stand in a big convention like Phoenix, but it’s another to see how this small little group from last year managed to pull in a three hundred guests this year. I wouldn’t have ever imagined running into someone like Michael Gallagher (famous for his work for MAD and on Sonic the Hedgehog) or Jim Hanna out here on the frontier. Then there’s us, a bunch of grimy and dirty punks and nerds getting to be journalists!

The froth was alive in the hall of the cottonwood Rec center, densely packed from wall to wall with artist booths and people from all over the valley and the Midwest. I don’t know how the Jan “The Janimal” Quisumbing and Dave Beaty managed to set up such a smooth event, but we want to give a huge shout out to them. Some of us at TOTC have covered events around Arizona for half a decade now, if not longer, and few have gone as swimmingly as Verde Valley Comic Expo did.

It was really the kind of place that you’d feel welcome at whether you were a super-fan, a creator yourself, or just someone who wanted to look at some talented artists creations and talk to other people who like comics.

We have so many interesting stories even from our humble little comic expo that we’re excited to share. Everyone at a convention really does have a story to tell, from artists to writers to fans. You can bet Tales of the Con will be there to find out what they are.

-Glam Grimfire

Be sure to check out our photos from the event.

 

Hype?

Batman vs. Superman started in most of the world last week, if it hadn’t already before wherever you’r reading at this. TOTC is comprised mainly of comic fans of all shades. The Chief himself is the biggest The Dark Knight Returns nerd I know in the world; which is a bizarre segment of people that oddly co-aligns with people who are fans of Ben Affleck and his Phoenix Tattoo. We were all fucking super excited for the movie, a year and change worth of constant advertisements telling us to be excited for it later and we were tellingly less so.

The BVS marketing deluge is tantamount to marketing based harassment. Call it pandering or whatever –it was clearly successful in getting thousands of people to go see a bad movie, but the constant commercials filled with snippets of a rubber puppet fest comprised of Superman colors and Batman colors flying over the screen while marketing words force you to think about how excited you are grew old around the fifth or fiftieth TV spot.

Some of TOTC’s staff had started looking for ways to get around having all of this movie marketing shoved down our throat around the Blockbuster Season last year. A starting regularity in the world these days is not having any choice over how much sheer advertising we have to endure. As if the movie industry has become scared that if we aren’t reminded of a product (because that’s what they are) every five minutes that we might forget it exists.

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Simply put: if you really want to watch it, ignore it. Like a bizarre version of a sports draft, we all have a few movies a year now that we try and ignore everything about. No spreadsheets or obnoxious lifehacks needed. Finding a way to ignore advertisements will help you in the long run.

A full time media blackout has its advantages. Free yourself from the froth of a trailer offering a banquet that’s ten minutes of new footage and you’ll start to see that most Blockbusters these days are as much about giving away the whole movie in trailers as they are getting you in a seat in a theater to actually watch it.

Offending our sensibilities in a particularly egregious way is those movies that fill the category of Nerd Movies, the majority of films that come out today exist purely to hype brand awareness for something or to start a franchise.

The great promise of Batman Vs. Superman is, after all, not that the movie will guarantee itself to be good: but to guarantee that there will purely be more movies in this franchise. Keeping us aware of what happens and who’s in the movie during the entire production is important because it makes the list of reasons that comic fans (especially people who only read superhero comics) have to go to the theater.

Some theaters even offer trailers for trailers. TOTC doesn’t think it should be that way, it’s hard science, maybe. Just hear us out here – ignore the trailers for your next favorite movie and you’ll be rewarded when you go to the theater and actually get legitimately surprised about something Find a way to block out and ignore all of this constant advertising about your favorite things, and you’ll get to one day experience the unique feeling of being legitimately surprised about something, and yes, disappointed too.

Written By A Skeleton

T.S.O.L. An Outsider Perspective

 

Written by The Offender

This was my first ever “real” Punk show so I was expecting to see mohawks and lots of military boots. Burned into my mind for all eternity, the images of SLC Punk’s band performances were replaying with each song on the radio. I was informed by my friend and partner in crime for this adventure, The Motherfucker, that T.S.O.L. has been in the music industry for 38 years. Having been in the music industry for that long means that T.S.O.L. has both a dedicated fan base and excellent music as well. En route to the show, we blasted the T.S.O.L. top-15 from Google Play Music on the way down and I recognized quite a few of their songs including “Abolish Government/Silent Majority” and “Nice Guys”. It was a strange feeling realizing that a band I didn’t know was actually something I had listened to in elementary school. Without realizing it I was re-discovering a band from my childhood that had played a major part of my development. The nostalgia hit me like freight train when “Flowers By The Door” came over the stereo and both T.M.F. (The Motherfucker) and I went silent.

Having arrived at the venue an hour early T.M.F. and I proceeded directly into the grocery store across the street. Browsing the liquor isle reminded me of the proximity to ASU (15min) as all of the .750ml bottles of good whiskey and vodka were gone. Left with the choice of garbage brand liquor or mid grade bullshit, I grabbed a bottle of brandy and headed for the checkout counter. T.M.F. and I skated around for a bit and browsed some amazing glass work at the local head shop. We regrouped in the parking lot and we killed most of the bottle. We thought about buying drinks at the venue, but $4 for cheap beer was too pricey for our collective budget. We stashed the liquor, our boards, and whatever valuables we had on us and proceeded to the Yucca Tap Room.

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The Yucca Tap Room is an unassuming double bar with sound stage and bar in one room. Pool tables and bar in the other. We approached the back entrance of the bar (street-side on southern) where there is a small smoking section and rear entrance, for quick getaways. We were directed around the building by a lone security guy lurking at the rear entrance. He was no doubt waiting for some punks to try sneaking in. When we rounded the corner there were a few small groups of people milling about in the parking lot and a merchandise booth for T.S.O.L.. I sidled up to the merchandise stand and acquired a T.S.O.L. patch for by bare vest, my patch jacket was left in the car. Upon seeing a bunch of random dudes working the booth, T.M.F. Grumbled about how un-punk it is to not be running your own merch stand and we proceeded to the will call.

The security was pleasant and despite a discrepancy between my out of state ID and the doorman’s non-UV flashlight I made it in without a hitch. T.M.F. on the other hand wasn’t so lucky. He only had a paper ID as proof of his being over 21. Since he didn’t have a “real boy ID” he was forced to spend the duration of the show in the under 21 pit. We made it into our respective areas and there was security spread sparsely about the room; two guys at either end of the stage and a third floating about as a decoy. The guy posted up at the fence dividing the minors from the rest of the adults really got on T.M.F. and my nerves after he shouted at T.M.F. for going outside to smoke a fag. It’s not our fault the guy looked and sounded like Gimley from Lord of The Rings! After we dropped that comment he seemed to calm down a bit and was content to glare at me from across the room. There wasn’t a whole lot of excitement from security other than a drunk teenager at the end of the show that got laid out for running his mouth and giving the door man the finger. More on that later in the article.

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Father Figures opened the show and played an exceptional set. Their high energy was infectious to those in the soundstage. The aggressive guitar of Michael Cornelius rang out deafening those in close proximity. Anyone left with a semblance of their eardrums intact was quickly dispatched by Tom Reardon’s vocals. Bobby Lerma throttled his drum kit for those in the back of the room. Within minutes a mosh had started and people were moving and grooving, albeit rather violently. They didn’t have too large of a crowd, but I blame that on the people being next door at the secondary bar starting their drunk. Maybe next time they’ll go to the grocery store to get their drinks and do the mingling after the show. I was content to stand in the back by the sound booth and take pictures of the band and the mosh pit. There were quite a few people thrashing about in the pit and even a few ladies handing out beatings to anyone in their direct vicinity. Despite not having a “packed house” they stayed onstage for a solid 45 minutes and got a deafening farewell from the crowd.

With voices shouting and fists flying I headed to the bar nearest the stage to get away from the chaos. I ordered a Rogue Brutal Bitter and smirked at the bartender when she looked longingly for more than a dollar tip on the $4 beer. Two beers later and I was starting to feel my drunk. Father Figures was on their second to last song and the crowd wasn’t going to let them off with an easy 45 minute set. As they finished up the last song I headed outside for a smoke. After being distracted by a way-too-hot-for-this-show punk chick, I found T.M.F. and we traded cameras and strategies. He was put off by the dwarf Gimley and grumbling about security, but we made a game plan for the next two sets.

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Left Alone was the second band of the night. By the time they took the stage the crowd had moved into the soundstage area and what little standing room that remained was quickly consumed. Under Elvis Cortez’s melodious voice and Nick Danger’s heavy bass line the crowd was at their mercy. Once Cobra began ripping out quick drumlines, the area in front of the stage quickly became a free-for-all. I took a strategic position in the back between the bar and the crowd and pulled out my camera. The band was picturesque and the crowd photogenic. The crowd photos were great and the mosh photos I took looked awesome. During the set I noticed some of the -21’s passing around flasks and sneaking into the +21 area. All I could think was that poor T.M.F. was dealing with a bunch of drunken teeny-bops with a mild buzz. So midway through Left Alone’s set I headed to the -21 section and traded cameras with T.M.F. He introduced me to some bubbly blonde girl from his high school days, sorry I’m bad with names, and I handed him my belt flask with a wink and a nudge, we both know better than to supply minors with alcohol. I made my way back into the bar/stage room and continued taking pictures of the crowd and band.

When T.S.O.L. took the stage the room was stuffy and hot from the constant moshing. I forwent the customary between set cigarette to get a prime location front stage. While the band was doing sound check and Jack was telling jokes I climbed up on stage to take some pictures of the crowd. Everyone flipped me off, no surprise there, I returned their kindness and started taking pictures.

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T.S.O.L. was not going to let the crowd go without giving them a musical what for. Ron Emory’s guitar screamed out for violence and the crowd was more than willing to oblige. Jack Grisham was animated, belting out lyrics as he hopped and danced about. Chip Hanna played with a fervor that would honor any of their previous drummers. Mike Roche’s bass lines poured out at a steady cadence keeping the chaos mellow.

Being posted next to the -21 fence was a hassle once the pit got going. Some cougar half my size got uppity when I pushed her off of my crotch so I could take some decent pictures. Sorry lady it was a PUNK show not a Scottsdale club, I soon found myself being pushed slowly into the -21 area by her and her equally height challenged charge. After using what the enraged cougar described as “highly illegal” elbow shoves, I was able to assert my territory in the corner. The mosh pit got pretty intense and there were numerous times when I was forced to put the camera away and thrash wildly at the fists and elbows, (I thought those were illegal?).

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With the pit in full swing and all manner of body fluid flying about the room, I attempted to take some more pictures, but was caught off guard by an unforeseen body shove. As I fell forward I put out my free hand in an attempt to stop myself and palmed one of the pedals for the guitar. The guitar stopped coming from the monitors and both the drummer (Chip Hanna) and guitarist (Ron Emory) gave me looks that would have burst a weaker man into flames. I threw my hands up and screamed apologies until a second shove threw me half way into the -21 section where some poor unsuspecting girl caught my arm with her face. I straightened myself and the girl and I had a brief stare down. I apologized again and forced my way back towards my corner, the area now occupied by the cougar and her man. There was another sound malfunction caused by the grind-happy cougar (suck it nerd!). To which I rejoiced greatly in having not been the only person to cause a sound malfunction. After some highly aggressive hip maneuvers, I hope you all have bruises, I had cleared a decent area from the drunk grinders and asserted decent shooting position.

After the metaphorical dust had settled and T.S.O.L. had exited the building I made a beeline for the front doors. Most people stayed inside to continue drinking or flirt with the punk chicks. T.M.F. and I had other plans. We did some mingling with a random group of people and the obscenely attractive punk chick, Miss Baylynn Wednesday the owner of Poser Productions (check out her Facebook), she got my number because I do things differently. When this 20 year old kid; I say kid because of how this guy handled his drunk, was getting escorted out of the under 21 section. After wrestling his arms free from the door man and his helper he proceeded to go on a drunken rant about how the security personnel were oppressive and abusing their power. The security guy stood there like the gentleman he assuredly was and listened to the poor drunken fool. That is until the kid threw up a middle finger right in his face. Upon seeing such a blatant show of disrespect to a man that could have easily made a human pretzel out him the door man cut in.

“Do that again you little punk and see what happens.”

With the level of inebriation he was at, the kid saw no other option than to oblige the door man. No sooner than the drunk was able to throw a second bird he was on the ground. My wrestling instincts kicking in, I noticed the hand hold the door man was using and let out a bellowing laugh. The kid struggled for a few seconds until the pain of the hold set in and he succumbed to the security personnel.  The door man then turned to us and shouted something about the guy doing this repeatedly and that we were next. We all agreed that the kid deserved his fate and laughed as the police hauled him off.

We then noticed Chip Hanna off by the -21 entrance packing his gear. Ever the opportunist we struck up conversation and asked if he wouldn’t mind doing an interview. He obliged us, not that he had much of a choice, we were standing right next to his gear. Chip was a longtime touring mate of T.S.O.L. while in the band US Bombs so it was natural for T.S.O.L. to ask him to be their drummer. This show being his 9th show with the band, he played as though he had been with them for years. When asked if he did any nerdy shit Chip admitted to playing The Legend of Zelda and Mario on the NES. (Full interview will be posted soon!).

We also interviewed Elvis Cortez the lead vocalist/guitar for Left Alone, after making sure that we weren’t some big shot news outlet. (soon Elvis soon…) Due to technical issues we weren’t able to recover the audio from the interview, but I happen to have impeccable memory! It turns out Elvis is a big Star Wars fan, original trilogy. He thinks the prequels suck, and in his twenties he used to collect the action figures and models. When he decided to pursue music he sold all of his Star Wars things to buy his recording equipment. Now he plays in a successful Ska-Punk band but he holds Star Wars in high regards. We agreed that the new trilogy’s X-wing fighters look flimsy and the stormtrooper helmets too streamlined. Elvis thought that the Chrome-trooper (Captain Phasma for all you nerds) was utterly useless. And I clued him in that she will probably see a comeback in the next movie. We asked him what advice he would have for anyone trying to make it in the music industry and advice for us too. He simply said keep doing what you love and don’t let anybody stop you.

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This has been a Tales of the Con article and an OFFENDER original. -SUCK IT (PUNK) NERDS!

It’s Morphin’ Time! – Tales of the Con

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Seeing as everyone knows and loves this treasure from our childhoods, we decided to just jot down our quick first impressions of issue #0 of the 2016 Mighty Morphin Power Rangers comic.

Dr. Bombeii:

      Like anyone my age, The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was a big deal as a child. Seemingly ordinary kids (teens) that join together with each other and their giant robots to fight monsters from space. When evil is vanquished it’s all wrapped up nice and clean with a visit to the juice bar and a good laugh.  What’s not to love? I watched the show religiously every afternoon as a kid. I had all the toys, and I was even excited for the Motion Picture to come out. Now as an adult it’s a fond childhood memory that has become a bonding point with my young son. We watch the original show together along with the spinoffs that I missed along the way.

      Naturally I was excited when I caught wind of this new comic series based on the original Mighty Morphin characters. This comic seems to follow in Hollywood’s footsteps with a reboot that isn’t a reboot. It keeps to the same basic plot as the original series albeit in modern times. They all have smartphones, text each other, and share class notes on a server run by Billy the Blue Ranger. Fans will recognize the plot points immediately as our story takes place just after Tommy, The Green Ranger, joins the rest of the Rangers.

        The art is fantastic, capturing the action and iconic battle stances of the rangers well. The writing is also strong in this issue as it explores Tommy’s struggle with Rita’s control over him that may not be as broken as the Rangers hope. I enjoyed seeing Zordon putting the Red and Green rangers in their place as they started to argue and point fingers. All together the story seems to be updated just enough, while expressing a slightly more serious tone that I think will benefit this comic series as it goes on. I can’t wait to read the next issue!

Boneman:

      Sitting around this old, dusty bigass black box that was my parents TV when I was a little kid. Power Rangers was something my older brothers had actually shown to me, not something I waited with a drooling mouth for when it used to air. I can’t even remember if it was UPN-45 or Fox Kids or whatever the hell the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers aired on back in the day – what I do know is that, for me, Tokukatsu affected me deeply from a young age. As a teenager I would end up watching favoring Kamen Rider more than I did these young teens in spandex. Yet, at the heart of it all, I’ve still managed to sneak in not only the US based Power Rangers into my watching habits every few years, but even some of the original Japanese versions like Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger (localized in the US as Power Rangers Pirate Armada) and Akibaranger (never localized!)

      So when I heard that BOOM! Studios would be doing a Mighty Morphin Power Rangers comic, I was ecstatic. BOOM! has been making waves in the comic book industry over the last few years with their shotgun-blast of all-ages reading material so them getting Power Rangers is basically a natural fit.

      Yes the book has one of my favorite writers on it and art that seems like a natural fit (especially in the Bulk & Skull backup story) but that’s not what I enjoyed most about Power Rangers.

      What I enjoyed most is the feeling that, if this had been around when I was a little kid, I would have read it at school every day. Even though it contains references to push-notifications and smart phones, Power Rangers feels like it’s timeless. I don’t know if BOOM! Studios can sell a comic purely with the power of nostalgia, I don’t really think there’s a group of creators alive that can do that, but I’ll be buying issue #1 just to see what kind of road they want to take these five teenagers with attitude on.

Chief:

      I really loved this comic book! In 1993, when the first Mighty Morphin Power Rangers aired, I was almost seven and was already a huge fan of shows like Voltron Force and Transformers. I can remember how excited it was watching all the coming soon trailers for it because for me it was something new and exciting, there wasn’t really a lot on TV back then. Now it’s been about 22 years since I’ve seen Power Rangers, but I have to say I got just as excited as when I was six transported back to that feeling of fantastical adventure. It was like going back and recapturing a huge piece of my childhood.

      The art and writing worked very well, hand in hand, it made me feel like I was watching it all over again for the first time. The hardest part of the series was this panel where the red ranger steps out of his car and says “Hey Trini, good weekend?”  I was instantly caught way off guard by what the internet refers to as “the feels”, on page four it’s the first time you really see the yellow ranger in the comic. I was taken back to 2001 when we lost the live action actress Thuy Trang in a tragic accident.

      What I am really interested in seeing in this new “reboot” is more character development, for both the blue and the yellow ranger. I also look forward to continuing to see how the dichotomy between the newly turned green ranger plays out in this series and all the new possibilities.

The M0therfucker:

Brace yourself! This week Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers kicked down the door in the EPIC debut of the comic’s  Issue #00!! Together, Author Kyle Higgins and Illustrator Hendry Prasetya bring back this beloved gem of the nineties, all while paying the utmost respect to the life-long fans by keeping the original, action-packed artistry and story plot. Tommy, also known as the Green Ranger, (keeper of the Dragonzord) makes his introduction with nothing short of a twist of fate,under the mind altering control of REPULSA when his fellow rangers need him most! Speaking as one of the original T.V. series’ greatest fans, I’m ecstatic that two amazing artists are pouring their souls into this ICON of live action, american bad-assery!