The first annual Comikaze Expo is this weekend at the Los Angeles Convention Center, and I’ve been assisting the organizers with some of their programming. I’ve put together three exciting and very different panels for the show, and I’ve been invited to participate in a fourth. In addition, I have two Fraggle Rock signings at the Archaia booth.

Yes, it’s going to be a busy weekend.

If you’re going to Comikaze—and if you’re not you really should be—here’s where you can find me.

Saturday, November 5th

10:00-11:30 a.m. – Archaia Booth (#1709)

I’ll be signing copies of Fraggle Rock, discussing the upcoming Dark Crystal graphic novel series with fans and singing selections from Les Miserable and Jesus Christ Superstar. Well, maybe not that last bit. (That is, unless you want me to. I mean, it’ll be first thing in the morning, I’ll be signing on my own and will probably be hurting for company. I think it’s safe to say that if you’re actually at the show that early and come by to see me, we can talk about or do whatever the hell you want.)

1:00-2:00 p.m. – Room 4

Darkness Rising: New Voices in Horror Comics

Do the things that once gave us the shivers still have the ability to terrify? How many times can we be startled by zombies, vampires and psychopaths before they lose their shock value? What can a genre that’s existed for centuries do to remain relevant to a generation of readers who grew up watching Freddy, Ghostface and Jigsaw? Join Dan Fogler, R. H. Stavis, Jackson Lanzing, David Server and Nicole Sixx as we discuss the process and practice of writing horror comics and figure out how to offer up a fresh serving of fear in this era of Paranormal Activity and The Human Centipede. If you’re a fan of horror or a writer looking to work in the genre, this is the panel for you!

I assembled the above panel and although I’m not mentioned in the panel description, I’ll be serving as moderator. It’s an eclectic, lively and very bright batch of panelists who are sure to have interesting things to say on the subject of scary stuff. If you’re a fan of horror comics (or horror in general), be sure to stop by.

4:00-5:00 p.m. – Room 306AB

Spotlight on Womanthology

Originally devised by Renae de Liz as a way to give women creators of all abilities a chance to be published, the Womanthology project has become one of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns ever. This anthology graphic novel has gained the support of virtually everyone in the comic book community and the first volume, HEROIC , remains one of the most highly anticipated comic book properties in some time. In this panel, various contributors will discuss the development of Womanthology, their individual roles in the project, and the legacy they are building. With Cat Staggs, Bonnie Burton, Kimberly Komatsu, Jenna Busch, Jody Houser, Amanda Deibert, and Mary Bellamy. Moderated by Nicole Sixx.

I won’t be appearing on this panel (for rather obvious reasons), but I did help pull it together and will be out in the audience showing my support. This will be the largest Womanthology panel held since the project was announced, and will be the first panel to show art from the project. As far as I’m concerned, that makes this one a can’t miss.

Sunday, November 6th

1:00-2:00 p.m. – Room 2

How To Make Comics (Great For Kids!)

Everybody’s talking about how comics are growing up, but have we (gasp!) forgotten about the children? With a bunch of publishers starting kids-oriented imprints and many educational programs introducing youngsters to reading through comics, is this audience finally getting proper recognition? Join Tim Beedle (Muppet Robin Hood), Neo Edmund (Zenoscope’s Silver Dragon books), Kazu Kibiushi (Amulet), Paul Morrissey (Casper the Friendly Ghost) and Heather Nuhfer (Strawberry Shortcake) as they chat about what makes “all-ages” awesome, what titles hooked them in the first place as kids and what
downright fun it is to make comics the whole family can enjoy. Moderated by Tom Pinchuk (Unimaginable).

I was invited to participate in the panel on all-ages comics, and of course I was very happy to do so. I’m a firm believer that we need more comics for kids in the market, and an industry-wide system of support to ensure that they reach the readers they’re intended for. Everyone on this panel is a friend of mine and an extremely talented creator. It should be a good time for the whole family, provided I can remember not to swear.

2:00-3:00 p.m. – Room 306AB

Fraggles, Froud and a Frog Named Kermit: Bringing Jim Henson to Comics

For over 75 years, the work of Jim Henson has entertained and inspired viewers of all ages and won him millions of fans worldwide. Today, the legacy of this creative genius has expanded into a new medium—comic books! Join Tim Beedle (Muppet Robin Hood, The Dark Crystal: Creation Myths), Paul Morrissey (The Muppet Show, Fraggle Rock), Joe LeFavi (Fraggle Rock, Return to Labyrinth), Jeff Stokely (Fraggle Rock) and Ian Brill (Farscape) as we discuss and dissect all the ways that The Jim Henson Company and Disney are putting puppets to paper. Learn how classic fantasy movies such as The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth along with beloved TV shows like The Muppet Show, Fraggle Rock and The Storyteller have been brought back to life by the writers, artists and editors responsible. Plus, discover how this new medium is allowing The Jim Henson Company to bring life to some of Jim Henson’s unrealized projects, such as the upcoming A Tale of Sand.

I did a version of this panel at the West Hollywood Book Fair, but we have a different crew of panelists this time around, as well as the ability to show art from the books we’ll be discussing. If you’re a Jim Henson fan, you’re going to want to be there, especially if you’re curious about some of the new Henson comics that Archaia will be putting out this year.

3:30-5:00 p.m. – Archaia Booth (#1709)

I’ll be wrapping up Comikaze with a group Fraggle signing in the Archaia booth. I’ll be hanging out with Joe LeFavi, Heather Nuhfer and Paul Morrissey, and we’ll be signing copies of Fraggle Rock while dancing our little bums off to the show’s soundtrack. If you’ve never experience a group Fraggle signing before, they’re usually a lot of fun. And considering we’ll be coming down off of a weekend of con craziness, I’d say anything could happen!

This is Comikaze’s inaugural year, so hopefully you can make it down on Saturday or Sunday to ensure they get a good turnout. LA could use a good comic convention, and the people running Comikaze clearly have their hearts in the right place. Plus, Elvira is one of their special guests. How cool is that?

Hope to see you there!

Back to the Big Apple

I’m not entirely sure how it happened, but somehow New York Comic-Con is once again upon us. I’ll be at the convention again this year, signing copies of Fraggle Rock and helping to promote The Dark Crystal: Creation Myths. I’m currently scheduled for three signings, but you never know…a few more may be added before the show’s over and done with. Here’s the current lineup:

Friday, October 14th

5:30-7:00 p.m.

Saturday, October 15th

10:00-11:00 a.m.

Sunday, October 16th

11:30-12:30 p.m.

All three signings will be in the Archaia booth (#1546). If you’re going to be at the show, stop by and say hi. I’d love to see you.

That’s if I can actually make it onto the show floor. When it comes to conventions, anyone who says procrastination is your friend is probably just trying to ensure they’re able to get tickets. I waited too long to register for the show, and now pro registration is sold out. As a result, I’m currently without a badge.

Fortunately, it looks like Archaia may have an extra badge for me. If not, well…I’ve always wanted to see the Statue of Liberty.

Hope to see you all there!

2011 West Hollywood Book Fair

The 2011 West Hollywood Book Fair is less than a month away, and once again I’ve been helping the fair with its comics and graphic novel programming. I certainly hope you can make it this year because we’re putting together some great panel discussions and signings to mark the fair’s 10th Anniversary.

If you’re not familiar with the West Hollywood Book Fair, it’s one of the largest literary events in California, drawing over 25,000 people to the city of West Hollywood over the course of one day. All genres and types of books are represented: fiction, non-fiction, poetry, children’s, YA, experimental and, of course, comics. If you enjoy reading at all, there’s something for you.

This year’s fair is on Sunday, October 2nd. I’ve put together two panels for the Comics and Graphic Novels stage, one of which I’ll be moderating and both of which I’ll be attending. I hope you can make it out for at least one of them…

Creators Assemble!: The Rise of the Graphic Novel Anthology

12:15-1:15 p.m.

Moderator: Asterios Kokkinos (Devastator)

Kazu Kibuishi (Flight, Explorer)
D.J. Kirkbride (Popgun)
Michael Woods (Outlaw Territory, Low Orbit)
Nicole Sixx (Womanthology)

As the graphic novel has grown in popularity, so too has the graphic novel anthology. Are these story collections an attempt to keep short fiction relevant in long-form comics? Are they born from a desire to explore a theme from many points of view? Or are anthologies simply a way of compiling some of the best work in comics into one diverse book? Join some of the writers, artists and editors responsible for five of the most highly acclaimed graphic novel anthologies as we discuss how bigger can be better, what makes a great collection and how the anthology format benefits creators.

Jim Henson and Comic Books: Putting Puppets to Paper

2:45-3:45 p.m.

Moderator: Tim Beedle (Muppet Robin Hood, Fraggle Rock)

Brian Holguin (The Dark Crystal: Creation Myths)
Heather Nuhfer (Fraggle Rock)
Joe LeFavi (Fraggle Rock, Return to Labyrinth)
Jim Formanek (Director of Product Development, The Jim Henson Company)

For over 75 years, the work of Jim Henson has entertained and inspired viewers of all ages and won him millions of fans worldwide. Today, the legacy of this creative genius has expanded into a new medium—comic books! Learn how classic fantasy movies like The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth along with beloved TV shows like Fraggle Rock are being brought back to life by the writers and editors who are doing it. Plus, discover how this new medium is allowing The Jim Henson Company to bring life to some of Jim Henson’s unrealized projects, such as the upcoming A Tale of Sand.

The West Hollywood Book Fair is a great way to meet and interact with local authors, and to pick up some new books while you’re doing it. It’s free, runs all day and this year coincides with the opening of the new West Hollywood Library. I hope to see you all there.

For a full listing of this year’s programming, check out the fair’s website:

And take a look at this year’s PSA while you’re at it:

San Diego Comic-Con 2011 schedule

I can’t believe it’s time for Comic-Con already. I’m sure it will come as no surprise to any of you that I’ll be at the show this year, but one thing that’s new is that I actually have a signing schedule this year. Yes, I’ll be in both the Archaia booth and in the APE booth promoting a few of my current and upcoming projects.

Here’s my schedule:

Thursday, July 21

4:30-6:00 pm – Archaia booth (#2635)

Friday, July 22

11:00 am-12:00 pm – APE booth (#1804)

6:00 pm-7:00 pm – Archaia booth

Saturday, July 23

11:00 am-12:00 pm – APE booth

12:00 pm-1:00 pm – Archaia booth

Sunday, July 24

1:30 pm-2:30 pm – Archaia booth

3:00 pm-4:00 pm – APE booth

I’ll be signing copies of Fraggle Rock vol. 2 in the Archaia booth and copies of Strawberry Shortcake #1 in the APE booth. Provided they have copies of Strawberry Shortcake #1. If not, I’ll just be standing around in the booth and trying not to look creepy.

Please come see me.

I’ll also have some free issues of Muppet Robin Hood #1 that I’ll be giving out as well. If you want one, just ask.

See you in San Diego!

Behind the Scenes: Muppet Robin Hood, Part 2

A couple days ago I posted some Muppet Robin Hood audition art from Armand Villavert, Jr. It was strong enough to get Armand the gig, but he wasn’t the only artist who was considered. After all, this was one of the first Muppet comics to be produced since the 1980s. There was a considerable amount of fan interest in it, along with plenty of artists who grew up watching the Muppets and wanted a chance to put their spin on Jim Henson’s classic characters.

In fact, at one point, it really looked like Armand might not be able to draw the book. Muppet Robin Hood had already been solicited and we had a deadline in place, so Paul Morrissey, the comic’s editor, had to scramble to find a potential replacement. And the first person we both thought of was Amy Mebberson.

Now if you’re a fan of BOOM’s Muppet comics, then Amy Mebberson is probably a name you know well. She was the artist on both Muppet Peter Pan and Muppet Sherlock Holmes, and she served as the guest artist for several issues of Roger Langridge’s Muppet Show comic. But all of that work came after Muppet Robin Hood. At the time, Paul wasn’t sure how well Amy could draw the Muppets or whether her style would be one that Disney would get behind. To get her greenlit, he asked Amy to draw a short sequence from my script.

What follows is the sequence as it ran in the comic, followed by Amy’s version of it. Her version was never inked or colored and the lettering is rough and temporary, but it’s easy to imagine how it would’ve come together. Whichever version you prefer, seeing the two side-by-side helps illustrate just how much control the artist has in shaping the tone and pacing of the story, even when they’re working from a completed script. Armand’s version reads considerably different than Amy’s.

Here’s the sequence as it ran in the comic, with art by Armand Villavert, Jr.

And here’s the sequence as drawn by Amy Mebberson.

Amy really managed to bring out the comedic beats. Her version is laugh-out-loud funny and Kermit’s reaction to being handed the staff is priceless. Armand’s version, on the other hand, reads a little more aggressively. He chose to draw the sequence fairly straight, making sure the action got its due. Neither is right or wrong. They’re just different.

I would’ve loved to work with Amy (and I since have on a different project), but I’m  just glad she got her chance to work on the Muppets. After seeing the pages above, it was clear to me that she was born to draw these characters. If you haven’t read Muppet Peter Pan (written by my good friend Grace Randolph) and Muppet Sherlock Holmes, do yourself a favor and hunt them down before they go out of print!