Tag Archives: Free Comic Book Day

Cleveland, Assemble and Clue Into CLE Comic Book Creators!

Avengers Assemble this Friday! (from marvel.com/avengers_movie)

Only a few days remain until a movie opens that I’ve been anticipating for years: this Friday, the Avengers assemble!

As a longtime Marvel fan, I’ve been looking forward to this blockbuster since it was first officially announced after the success of Iron Man.

And as if I needed another reason to see the movie, downtown Cleveland was transformed last summer into one of the film’s urban battlefields. As much as I love Cleveland, the idea of seeing E9th Street getting blown up on screen really excites me.

Needless to say, I’ll be heading out to a midnight showing on Thursday night near my local comic book shop in Sheffield Village. I plan on seeing it at least twice - once so I can revel in my Marvel fangirldom, and a second so I can enjoy the glimpses of Cleveland besieged by explosions and bad guys.

Action Comics #1 (from comics.org)

This isn’t the first time, though, that the world of caped crusaders has collided with Cleveland.

As the birthplace of Superman (created by Clevelanders Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster), Cleveland boasts an amazing heritage when it comes to writing and drawing comic book heroes.  Even today, current and former Clevelanders continue this legacy – writing, drawing and inking for both indie publishers and powerhouses like Marvel and DC.

Awhile back I did a post on some of the ways Cleveland and comics connect - from Harvey Pekar to Calvin and Hobbes’ Bill Watterson. In honor of the Avengers opening, this time around I want to share a few crimefighting and sci-fi comics with a Cleveland connection:

Brian Michael Bendis, who grew up in Cleveland and is the architect of many Marvel books including Avengers, at C2E2 2011

Brian Michael Bendis: It’s fitting that one of Marvel’s heavyweights and the architect of a number of current Avengers titles is originally from Cleveland’s eastside. In 2000, Brian Michael Bendis helmed the debut of Marvel’s Ultimate Spider-Man and continues writing it today with over 100 issues under his belt.

Having also written House of M and Daredevil, among many other books for Marvel, he’s currently writing for my favorite Avengers team: the New Avengers. In addition to traditional superheroes, Bendis created and writes the gritty Powers as well as the Jinx line of crime comics.

Taskmaster #1 (from comics.org)

Fred Van Lente: Called one of the more idiosyncratic and insightful voices in comics, NYT-bestselling author Fred Van Lente shared in a 2008 interview that he grew up in the Cleveland area after moving here.

When I pick up a Van Lente book I have high expectations for a seamless combination of action, humor and really relatable characters — even if those characters are the Incredible Hercules or Taskmaster, which was one of the most simulataneously touching and action-packed Marvel miniseries I’ve read in the last few years.

Van Lente also created Cowboys and Aliens (the basis for last summer’s movie) with Andrew Foley, as well as one of the first comics Scott introduced me to - Action Philosophers! with his Evil Twin Comics cohort Ryan Dunlavey.  This August, he’ll be participating in Valiant Entertainment’s relaunch with Archer & Armstrong.

Wonder Woman #8 (from comics.org)

Brian Azzarello: Although he may now call Chicago home, DC’s Brian Azzarello was born and raised in the Cleveland area. He became most well-known for writing 100 Bullets. Published through DC’s Vertigo line, the dark, hard-boiled crime series was honored with both the Harvey and Eisner Awards.

Among a long line of DC characters, he has written for both Batman and Superman, as well as Doc Savage.  And although we’re not even halfway through, 2012 has been a powerhouse year for Azzarello:

  • His post-apocalyptic Spaceman miniseries rockets to its conclusion this summer.
  • On his ongoing run of Wonder Woman, the character has undergone a number of fascinating changes and risen to be a Top 20 title for the first time in years.
  • And he’s collaborating on not just one – but two – of the books in DC’s highly anticipated Before Watchmen series - taking on my two favorite Watchmen characters Comedian and Rorschach.

On a personal note, meeting him and briefly chatting about favorite dishes at Greenhouse Tavern was one of my highlights from this year’s C2E2.

All-Ghouls School Tradepaperback (from sumerak.com)

Marc Sumerak: After spending time in NYC where he worked on Marvel’s editorial staff after college, editor and writer Marc Sumerak moved back to his hometown of Cleveland in 2003 to continue his career.

In addition to titles like Power Pack and Franklin Richards: Boy Genius, Sumerak’s most recent work includes his first original graphic novel All-Ghouls School and Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four: Hard Choices, a free comic in Marvel’s substance abuse prevention campaign.

Sumerak gives back to the Cleveland comic book community as well by hosting POP! The Comic Culture Club. Open to all Cleveland-area comic book fans, retailers and professionals who want to share their love of the medium, the group meets twice a month at the Cuyahoga County Public Library’s Parma Heights Branch.

Marc Sumerak’s Pop! Comic Culture Club is open and free to all Clevelanders interested in the medium

Other Cleveland-grown authors and artists to clue into (and by no means is this an exhaustive list):

  • Brian K. Vaughn, who wrote the critically acclaimed Y: The Last Man, Ex Machina and Marvel’s Runaways and recently returned to comics with his newest book SagaI’ve torn through the first two issues of this St. Ignatius alum’s fantasy “space opera” and highly recommend picking them up along with issue #3 when it comes out in a couple weeks.
  • Michael Sangiacomo, a longtime reporter at the Plain Dealer on the breaking news and crime beat. In addition to sharing his love of comics through his PD column on pop culture, he is the author of several graphic novels including Tales of the Starlight Drive-In and Phantom Jack, the story of a newspaper reporter who can turn invisible.
  • P. Craig Russell, whose artwork is such a thing of wonder that I’d be remiss if I didn’t include him in this list though he’s from south of the Cleveland-area.  Included within his vast body of work is a comic-adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Coraline  and a story in issue 113 of my favorite ongoing series Bill Willingham’s Fables.

Michael Sangiacomo’s Tales of the Starlight Drive-In (from talesofthestarlightdrivein.com)

While you can order many of these creators’ books online, Cleveland is blessed with many independent comic book stores scattered throughout the region.

I’m a huge proponent of heading to these brick-and-mortar stores instead because you’ll not only be able to get many of these books there, but also explore an entire world of comics worth your time.

And this Saturday, comic book stores nationwide are making it easy for newcomers to discover new reading material.  Free Comic Book Day takes place every year on the first Saturday of May and it’s the one day during the year when participating comic book shops give away free comics to anyone who visits their stores.

Search for a participating comic book store near you at freecomicbookday.com

From the east to westside, Clevelanders have a number of shops to choose from to pick up their free comic books. Cleveland.com has put together a rundown of the different stores’ festivities and Cleveland Scene’s The Dork Side features 5 of the 40+ free books you need to pick up.

Come Saturday morning (after catching up on my post-Avengers zzz’s), I’ll be at Comics Are Go! in Sheffield Village.

Formerly Astound Comics, Comics Are Go! recently moved their store from Westlake to Sheffield Village (5188 Detroit Rd., Exit 148 off I-90) and on Free Comic Book Day they’ll be introducing new and longtime customers to the new location starting at noon.

Hopefully I’ll even see a few new comic book readers there!

WhyCLE Challenge: Reasons 7 – 13 to Love Cleveland

One of this week's reasons why I love Cleveland: going to an Indians game. Although the Indians didn't win on Wednesday, getting my picture with "Slider" (well, Slider's statue) and hanging out in Progressive made up for it.

As I posted last week, I’m taking the WhyCLE Challenge in May where I’ll be tweeting a daily reason why I love this city.  You can follow those reasons and my other tweets @ADHicken.  I’ll also be recapping these reasons on my blog each weekend.

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Reasons 7-13 to love Cleveland taken straight from this week’s Twitter stream:

#WhyCLE Reason 7:  Cleveland’s comic book history & celebrating @FreeComicBook Day @WestlakePorter http://ow.ly/4O5Kg #FCBD

#WhyCLE Reason 8: More natl coverage for #CLE! @playhousesquare’s work w/@cleveplayhouse @wviz = economic success in arts http://ow.ly/4PHeY

#WhyCLE Reason 9: Events like Chef Jam, where food meets rock at @rock_hall. http://wp.me/pPIgG-Aj #HappyinCLE #clefood

#WhyCLE Reason 10: Tues. in @TremontWest. Tonight eat @ Civilization, Ty Fun & Tremont Scoops &10% benefits Arts in Aug. http://ow.ly/4R21x

#WhyCLE Reason 11: The #Indians! There’s nothing like catching a game after work to make the day that much better. #GoTribe! [Another picture from Wednesday's game: http://tumblr.com/xu12hda3ec]

#WhyCLE Reason 12: Bowling at Mahall’s in #Lakewood where I can score games by hand. Love this place! http://ow.ly/4SU5k #happyinCLE

#WhyCLE Reason 13: Another excellent exhibit to check out at #CLE’s @rock_hall. Women Who Rock opens today: http://ow.ly/4TLnk

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Want to catch up on previous reasons why I love Cleveland?

Comics in CLE: Drawing Them Together

A store locator for Free Comic Book Day can be found at www.freecomicbookday.com.

The first Saturday of May is a national holiday for comic fans.  Free Comic Book Day is the one day during the year when participating comic book shops the world over give away free comic books to anyone who visits their stores.

It’s a day to celebrate the independent comic shops in your area and the communities of comic book fans they unite.  From mainstream publishers to independent comics, a large variety of comic books are offered. When Free Comic Book Day rolls around, I’ll be at ASTOUND! Comics’ event at the Westlake Porter Public Library [updated with details for 2011 Free Comic Book Day event].  The knowledge of the guys at ASTOUND!, as well as their selection of individual issues, graphic novels and trade paperbacks has never disappointed Scott and me since we started shopping there a couple of years ago.

In honor of Saturday’s Free Comic Book Day, I figured I’d take a look at a few ways the world of comics meets the City of Cleveland. From characters found in mainstream books by Marvel and DC, to the Sunday strips and underground comics, there are many ways that Cleveland connects with comic fans.

True Believers can get their fictional Cleveland fix by reading Marvel’s Howard the Duck. Originally hailing from Duckworld - a planet in an alternate dimension that strongly resembles Earth, Howard lands in Cleveland after battling a demon focused on collapsing all of the universes into one.  Although Howard may not be too thrilled about it, he has since made his home here. And although the portrayal of Cleveland in the Marvel comic book is highly fictionalized, mentions of familiar sites – such as Case Western, Hopkins International Airport, the Cuyahoga River and the downtown Justice Center - make the occasional appearance.

Siegel's house at 10622 Kimberley Ave.

On the other hand, Cleveland finds a very real place in the DC Nation.  Superman, the Man of Steel himself, was created by writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster in 1932 when they were both living in Cleveland.  Although the ownership of Superman has led to numerous disputes between DC Comics and the Siegel and Shuster families, there is no denying the character had its birth in Siegel’s Cleveland home near the intersection of East 105th Street and St. Clair Avenue. The nonprofit Siegel and Shuster Society raised funds to fix the roof and make other repairs to the home.  And last year during the Screaming Tiki Con, a ribbon cutting ceremony celebrated the restoration.  As a private residence, it’s not a museum to visit; however, visitors can stop by the house and see the newly installed fence with a Superman logo and plaque to commemorate the comic book history that happened there.

The Sunday comics find their home in the Cleve through cartoonist Bill Watterson – Clevelander and creator of the influential Calvin and Hobbes comic strip.  For the uninitiated, Calvin and Hobbes is set in an unnamed Midwestern suburb and follows the imaginative adventures of a boy named Calvin and his trusty tiger Hobbes. In addition to smart and engaging storytelling, Watterson told these tales in a redesigned Sunday format that permitted more panel flexibility. After a 10-year run, Watterson ended the strip in 1995 saying he did what he could “within the constraints of daily deadlines and small panels.”  Watterson continues to live in the Cleveland area, having originally moved to Chagrin Falls when he was six years old (the same age as Calvin). Although he usually keeps out of the public eye,  Watterson recently granted a very rare interview (believed to be the first since 1989) to the Cleveland Plain Dealer marking the 15th anniversary of the end of Calvin and Hobbes.

The graphic novel Harvey Pekar's CLEVELAND will be out next summer.

Another more visible comic legend also made his home in Cleveland.   Underground comic hero Harvey Pekar lived on the Eastside in Cleveland Heights. His autobiographical American Splendor series (made into the movie of the same name) traces Pekar’s everyday life in Cleveland.  And it was his philosophy ’comics are words and pictures. You can do anything with words and pictures’ that makes his stories about the mundane a fresh alternative to typical mainstream fantasy and genre books.  Taking the Cleveland connection even further, it was recently announced that Harvey Pekar’s CLEVELAND will be available in Summer of 2011.  This 120+ page graphic novel written by Pekar will incorporate moments from Cleveland history like the Indians’ 1948 World Series win and the burning river into his usual autobiographical fare.

Whether it’s mainstream comics, independent storytelling or the Sunday funny pages, there’s a bit of Cleveland to be found in it all.   And with Free Comic Book Day, local comic book stores are giving the opportunity to explore more of it.

 

Comics 411:

Free Comic Book Day
Comic Book Store Locator
Free Comic Books Available on FCBD

ASTOUND! Comics
Location and Hours

Siegel and Shuster Society
SupermanLand
Siegel and Shuster on Facebook

Harvey Pekar
Who is Harvey Pekar? – WKSU 89.7
Harvey Pekar’s CLEVELAND