Author: Craig Zablo

MegaCon 2004 Report

When I said I’d be gone for a few days, I had no idea it would be over a week before I got back to updating the ZONE.

MegaCon was a great show. Big Beatty was sharing a table with Casey Jones [who does some of the best con sketches around]. Bob McLeod was just around the corner. I hadn’t seen Bob in probably 15 years… but boy, did the memories come flooding back. Bob, Beatty and I talked about all of the conventions we used to travel to, as well as the poker and pool we used to play. Bob sketched almost nonstop the entire show. The fans love them some Bob McLeod. And rightly so.

I ran into fellow fans and art collectors John “Johnny StarWars” Higashi [who wore his StalloneZone t-shirt] and James “The James” Howell. They were planing their strategies for the show. These are two of the nicest guys you’d ever want to meet. Before the weekend was over John Higashi was one of the seven people from the entire show to win an opportunity to purchase a sketch from Walt Simonson. [And what a sweet one it turned out to be.] I hope to get to spend more time with them in Atlanta.

Michael Lark sketched away all weekend long. I picked up two pieces from Michael. It was funny because when I expained my Stallone theme to him, I said, “So you can draw any Stallone character you want.” Michael said, “Great I know who I want to do.” I said that I would check back with him in a bit and as I started to walk away asked, “Who are you going to draw?” “Mickey,” Michael said with a smile. “Uh, you are going to draw Rocky and Mickey, right?” Michael laughed and said, “Oh, I see. When you said a Stallone character, you meant a character that Stallone played, not just any character from his movies.” Whew! Had we not cleared that up, I would have come back to find a very nice drawing of Mickey! As it turned out Michael did a scene from Rocky with Mickey, Rocky, and his cut man… you know the scene… “Cut me, Mick!” Michael was selling a really nice sketchbook as well, so I picked up one for me and another for a friend.

James O’Barr was there. I had initially hoped to get a Stallone sketch from him. That didn’t work out, but I did get James to autograph my copy of The Crow trade paperback. Maybe I’ll get the chance at another show.

Koi Phan was sketching away. I’ve been a fan of Koi’s since I first saw his sketches popping up on the internet. I went over and introdced myself. Koi not only remembered my name but said, “You’re the reason I came to MegaCon!” I had written him a couple of months ago asking if he was coming to MegaCon. I told him a bit about the show and that I hoped he could make it. He had no plans to, but decided to check it out on my suggestion. And that he remembered my name. How cool is that? I picked up a Stallone sketch for myself and a Batman for my oldest son’s collection. Koi does great work. Check out his site and I’m sure you’ll agree.

Walt Simonson came stopped by the table and I was able to get him to re-autograph my Alien and Manhunter trade paperbacks. He had first autographed them over 20 years ago! Walt is a really cool guy. He has an Elric series coming out later this year and the advance art looked awesome. A Stallone by Walt would be sweet…

Kelsey Shannon came by the table. Kelsey is flat out the man. Some kids were playing hack-sack near the table. I jokingly asked Kelsey if he wanted to join in and he replied, “I do know how to play.” That’s all I needed to hear and I had Kelsey in the game in no time at all. The funny thing is… Kelsey really knew how to play! Add THAT to his list of accomplishments… amazing artist, able to eat a block of cheese in an hour, and competitive hacki-sacker. Kelsey did a drop dead gorgeous Sly sketch for me. Big Beatty is going to ink it on blue-line so I’ll be able to retain the original pencils.

I ran into Cully Hamner on the way to the restroom. We had some small talk and he said he would be up for another Stallone. It’s going to be hard to top his first one, but I hope that he tries either at Atlanta or Heroes con later this year. Cully went to the restroom to get a stain off his shirt. As we were walking out of the restroom, I told him about “Shout” wipes. They’ll get out almost any stain and I try to always keep some at work. Cully said he’d check into them. Cully said, “Hey thanks for the tip.” He immediately followed that up with, “I guess I shouldn’t say that as we’re leaving the restroom!”

The Gaijin crew were busy all weekend. It was cool to meet Alison and to see Adam again. Since I got my Adam Hughes sketch, I haven’t tried for another, hoping that some lucky soul will be able to get his/her first… but I have to tell you, seeing the beautiful work that Adam does, I’m always tempted to get in line! Cully, and Kelsey and Brian and Karl were also very busy. I hope to get Brian to do a Stallone for me at Atlanta or Heroes this year. That would kick butt. Kelsey wore his StalloneZone shirt while he was sketching… talk about cool! Also, Gaijin had advance materials on The Ride on display. This book looks to be a winner. Tell your comic dealer to order you one or you may get left out.

Alex Saviuk stopped by the table for a few minutes and we talked about the life of a freelancer. He had me laughing because freelancers face the situation of not enough work or too much work due at the same time. Never a happy medium.

Phil Noto came by the table and when Big Beatty asked him how he was doing Phil said, “Great. I sold EVERYTHING.” This was on Saturday… with another day still to go! Phil and I discussed a Stallone sketch and Phil said he could have it to me on Sunday. We talked about either something from Nighthawks, which Phil really likes, or an “old school” Rocky. Phil decided to go with Deke DaSilva from Nighthawks and it is a beaut. I still hope to get a Rocky and Adrian from him in the future.

Wild Bill Black was there. Bill and I did a few circuits of the convention during the 3 days we were there. Bill presented me with the latest issue of FemForce [124] which features a backup story by Nick Northy and Jeff Austin. And one of the “stars” of the stroy… Detective Zablo! I’ll post more about that later this week. Mark and Stephanie Heike were there. Each time I passed them I’d trade them some cinnamon hard candy for some sour candy. Billy “The Playa from the Himalaya” Marimon was there. Rik Levins showed up. And it was great seeing both of them.

Tim Townsend made an appearance to drop off flyers for his Tim-O-Palooza. Tim hosts a party each year during the weekend of MegaCon. Tim had never met Bob McLeod and so I walked over with him. Bob had made some really nice comments about Tim‘s work the day before and so it was really cool to see two pros who appreciate each other’s work get a chance to meet for the first time. Beatty and I had intended to make it to Tim‘s party — we had the invite – – but after a trolly ride from hell at the end of a long day, we decided against the journey. Maybe next year…

Meanwhile back a John‘s table, he was sketching away. John had brought his markers and colors and was giving the fans more than their money’s worth! He did the best con sketches I have ever seen him turn out and he was diggin it. I can’t wait to see what he has in store for the fans in Atlanta and Charlotte this year!

The capper to the show was dinner with Big Beatty and Brad Vancata. Then it was back home to catch up on all the work that didn’t get done that long weekend. I’m almost caught up. I should be completely caught up in time to leave for AtlantaCon next month! [Actually, by the end of the week I should have scans of all of my sketches posted!]

MegaCon Bound

I’m going to be gone for a few days. My best buddy and partner in nonsense, John Beatty and I are heading to Orlando for MegaCon.

MegaCon is a huge 3 day convention of comic artists and movie/tv celebrities. I’m usually not someone to line up for autographs but it will be cool to see the cast from the original Lost in Space. And I gotta admit that I wouldn’t mind talking to Brian “Cobra” Thompson or Glen “Demoition Man” Shadix for a minute or two.

The real fun will be meeting up with artists and getting a few new Stallone commissions. I’ve met most of the guest artists before, but the one guy that I haven’t met and hope to get a Sly drawing from is James “The Crow” O’Barr.

At any rate, if you’re in driving distance of Orlando, come on by. Big Beatty will be set up at a table sketching and I’ll be somewhere at the show. Just look for the big guy with the StalloneZone shirt!

Man on Fire’s Latest Trailer

Man on Fire  could turn out to be a really cool movie.

Man on Fire  stars Denzel Washington and is directed by Tony Scott. Denzel plays a the bodyguard who is shot and left for dead when his client, a child, is kidnapped. Denzel recovers and goes after the kidnappers.. doing what he does best. Killing anyone who gets in his way.

If the movie lives up to the latest trailer, we’re in for one fun ride.

Bring on a New “Dawn of the Dead”

When I first heard about the remake of Dawn of the Dead  and that George Romero was not directing it, I was very disappointed.

The I heard about that Ving Rhames was heading up the cast and the fact that it wouldn’t be a scene for scene remake and my interest picked up.

Now that the official Dawn of the Dead website is up and running, I can’t wait to see it.

Miller & Rodriguez on Sin City

Frank Miller‘s Sin City directed by Robert Rodriguez! Man, that news is just too good to be true.

Frank Miller’s a genius. Daredevil... RoninThe Dark Knight Returns300 and my personal favorite, his Sin City series.

Robert Rodriguez is the man behind El Mariachi, Desparado, Once Upon a Time in Mexico and the Spy Kids Series… 1, 2 and 3D.

Now Rodriguez is teaming with Miller to bring Sin City to the big screen. And when I say, “teaming,” I mean as co-directors.

According to Harry at Ain’t It Cool News the screenplay will pull from Sin City, That Yellow Bastard, The Big Fat Kill and possibly Booze, Broads & Bullets.

The only thing cooler than that is how Miller and Rodriguez got together.

The Bride is Back

After seeing “Kill Bill” I left disappointed.

I felt that the hospital scene was excessively gross… even for a movie which thrived on excess and went down from there.

Yet, I will probably return to see the conclusion in Kill Bill 2.

I’ve heard that it is more like Tarantino‘s other films. I sure hope so.

Well… if it’s half as good as the latest advance poster, then I’ll leave happy.

[For a larger look, click HERE.]

New Punisher Trailer

A new trailer for The Punisher  is here!

I think that the movie will probably do okay at the box office
but it could go either way.

If the younger crowd gets behind it, it could do pretty well. If the reviews are good and it’s advertised to reach the baby boomers, it’ll do even better.

But it could just as easily sink. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

The Rock is Walking Tall

One of the biggest suprises to hit Hollywood in recent years is  Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

The Rock took a bit part in The Mummy and in just a small role showed an amazing amount of screen presence and charisma. Last year’s The Rundown was one of my favorite movies of the year. It had just the right blend of action and drama.

Next up for The Rock is Walking Tall,  which I have to admit sounded like a bad idea to me. I did change my opinion after seeing the trailer.

Mel Gibson, the Man

I’ve always liked Mel Gibson. I’m talking about Mel Gibson, the actor.

Gibson could have went the easy route after the runaway worldwide success of The Road Warrior. But he didn’t. Instead he took chances… movies like Hamlet, The River, and The Year of Living Dangerously.

Then Mel Gibson, the actor, took an even bigger chance and became Mel Gibson the director. He soared to even greater heights with Braveheart and The Patriot. Gibson hedged his bets somewhat since he was the star of both of these megahits. But with The Passion of Christ he has put it all on the line.

Gibson co-wrote, directed and funded [to the tune of $30 million or more of his own money] The Passion of Christ. The movie is subtitled since the actors speak the original languages. And Gibson‘s face never appears on screen. Talk about taking chances. All of this has added to my admiration of Mel Gibson.

Last night after watching his interview on ABC’s Primetime I was even more impressed. Gibson spoke openly and honestly about his crisis of faith and how his beliefs have saved… even redeemed him. He answered the charges that he was anti-Semitic. And he refused to answer anything about his father other than to say that he loved him. Mel says that message of The Passion of Christ is “faith, hope, love and forgiveness.” It was refreshing to see a celebrity be so open and revealing. And while I may not believe everything in the same way as Mel I can honestly say that I’ve never liked him more.

I’m talking about Mel Gibson, the man.

30 & Dark Days

30 Days of Night was one of the best vampire stories in any medium in recent years. The fact that it was done in a comic made it all the more impressive.

I mean, how many people pay attention to comic books? [Thankfully the number seems to be on the upswing.]

Steve Niles then followed up 30 Days of Night with the sequel Dark Days. Surprisingly [well, not so surprisingly if you follow Niles‘ writing], it didn’t seem like a forced sequel. And it was good, really good.

If you missed out on it, or if like me, you like a trade edition for the bookshelf, then click HERE.

Red Rocks

While we’re on the subject of cool comics, Red / Tokyo Storm Warning is another trade paperback that you may want to check out.

Red / Tokyo Storm Warning is actually two comic book comic mini-series for the price of one, both written by fan favorite Warren Ellis.

Red alone is worth the price of admission. Drawn by Cully Hamner [check out his take on Sly!], Red is the story of retired CIA assassin Paul Moses who finds himself the target of a hit… by his own government! This would make a great movie and you just know who I’d love to see play Moses.

Tokyo Storm Warning [drawn by James Raiz and Andrew Currie] imagines a world where Tokyo, not Hiroshima, was nuked in WWII. Now American test pilot Zoe Flynn must help turn the tide against massive monsters!

Coming soon to a comic shop near you… or better yet place your pre-order HERE!

Get Your Goon On!

Without a doubt one of the most enjoyable comics going today is Eric Powell‘s The Goon.

Dark Horse says The Goon “is a hilarious blend of pulpy horror and slapstick comedy following the ongoing misadventures of the man they call the Goon and his spastic sidekick Franky as they battle the legions of the undead!” Yeah, that pretty much sums it up!

I’ve been buying and loving the Goon since it was a little self-published comic. Now that it’s one of the most popular comics going today, I’m still pumping it up. Although I’ve posted this link before, here it is again in case you missed it… read The Goon #1 for free by clicking HERE.

Then if you’re so inclined check out the first and second trade paperback and here’s a link for the third which is just now being pre-ordered. [That’s the cover for it to the left.]

More About Mel

The last ZONE piece that I did on Mel Gibson brought in a lot of e-mail, so I thought that many of you would be interested in another Mel Gibson update.

Mel is featured on the cover and is the subject of a lengthy article in the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly. Mel will also sit for an interview that will air on ABC’s Monday “Primetime.” Mel also has an interview in the March issue of Reader’s Digest.

Finally, the Ransom Special Edition dvd will be released on March 23rd. It’ll have a commentary track by director Ron Howard, extensive deleted scenes, a “What Would You Do” making-of featurette, and more.

If you have a passion [sorry, I couldn’t resist] for Mel Gibson movies, then February and March are going to be a lot of fun!

Rundown and Get a Copy

The Rundown, one of my favorite movies last year, will be out on dvd on March 23rd. Presented in a widescreen anamorphic format, it’ll contain deleted scenes, featurettes and more.

The Rundown had a great mix of action, comedy and adventure. On the 23rd you ought to Rundown and check out a copy!

“The Rundown” rates an A