Author: Craig Zablo

The Creature from the Black Lagoon is Back!

As many of you know, I’m a big fan of monster movies. Especially the classic monstersFrankenstein, Dracula, The Wolfman, and of course, The Creature from the Black Lagoon.

So you can imagine my reaction when I found out that a new series of original novels based on these characters was coming out later this year. You can read about The Creature from the Black Lagoon‘s novel HERE.

Don’t worry, I’ll keep you posted on new additions to the series.

MegaCon Report

One of the best parts of attending conventions is meeting up with folks that you don’t get to see often enough. MeganCon was no exception. I spent the bulk of the show hanging at the table shared by my best buddy John Beatty and Alberto Ruiz. Now THAT was a blast [and I plan to write about the experience later].

Directly across from Alberto and Beatty’s table, Bob McLeod was set up. Bob‘s sketch list was full and his new book, Superhero ABC was selling like hotcakes. If you have [or know anyone who has] young kids, Bob‘s book would make the perfect gift! Heck, I even saw fans without kids buying it for themselves!

Alex Saviuk was set up. Alex is a great guy who’s been busy the last couple of years doing storyboards for movies in addition to his comic work. Alex has a true love of film and so it was great to spend a few minutes catching up with him.

Mark Pennington was there on Saturday sketching for fans. Mark had a really cool Conan painting on display. Mark said that it was a commission for a fan and the fan wanted Mark to change it so that Conan was wearing a horned helmet rather than the wolf’s head. While I can understand the fan’s thought process, I think that the painting would look cooler the way that it is.

Mark was sketching for fans and turning out some really nice pieces. James Howell got a Batman in the rain that was so nice that he went back to get a Joker [also in the rain] so he’d have “bookend” pieces. Matt Hollub also got on board for a piece from Mark. I would have as well, but my reference was with another artist and Mark was only going to be at the show on Saturday. Still, I know just the sketch I’d like to get from Mark, so the next time we’re at a show together, you know I’ll be in his line.

Although I was on two sketch lists [Adam Hughes and Phil Noto], and Alberto did me three gratis [3!!!] Stallone pieces [more on that later], I wanted to try and pick up a piece of art for a buddy who’d done me some favors.

I thought that Shawn Surface might just be the man for the job, and boy was I right. Shawn has done some work for my buddy, Bill Black’s AC Comics, as well as Mitch Hyman’s Bubba The Redneck WereWolf. I’d talked to Shawn at a few cons over the years about getting a Stallone sketch from him… but since I wanted to get a piece from my buddy, that had to come first. Shawn was more than up for the task. I really liked the way it turned out. I’d like to tell you that you can click HERE to see the piece, but instead you’ll see Shawn and what a Mage sketch might look like. LOL. Ok, ok… it wasn’t THAT funny [unless you know James Howell and have read THIS].

Gus Vasquez was there. We talked a bit about the work that he’s been doing on an animation feature. I also asked him about his niece, Rosario Dawson. What a year she’s had with her involvement in Sin City and Rent. We also discussed the comic, OCT [Occult Crimes Taskforce] that she’s co-creating with David Atchison and Tony Shastee. Rosario and Gus will be among the tons of guests at Heroes Con later this year.

Andy Smith was there. When he wasn’t sketching for fans, he was looking for something to take back home to his daughter.

Jesse “Cadre” Hansen “the hardest working man” in comics was set up with his crew. I really wanted to spend a few minutes catching up with Jesse, but the time just wasn’t there. We did say “hi” a few times as we passed each other though.

MegaCon, like most cons these days, has people showing up in amazing costumes. Sometimes the folks really look like the characters that they’re supposed to be.

Thor had a cool helmet and his beard and hair were right. Still I thought Thor would be taller than me. I love Eric Powell’s The Goon. And he’s a character that people seldom choose to dress up as. Still, I thought The Goon would be bigger than me. A lot of people choose to dress up as Batman. Although, not too many are lucky enough to have Batgirl and Robin [also in great costumes] along for the ride. But I have to admit, I thought that Batman would be taller than me. You might think that I was starting to feel like “the big man in comics” but you’d be wrong… see I met up with the Kingpin!

If you’ve ever been to a con, you know how much goes on. I’m sure I’m leaving out some stuff… still, I’ll post my new Adam Hughes sketch tomorrow [I LOVE IT!] and my thoughts on hanging with Big Beatty and Alberto soon.

MegaCon: "I’m Not Wearing a @#$%# Costume!"

Here’s part one of my MegaCon report…

I arrived at the show early… early enough to be #2 in line. My good buddy, John Higashi had already claimed the #1 spot. We spent the time until the show opened looking at art, talking to other collectors as they arrived, playing “war” [at one point I had Higashi down to just two cards and he came back to take the lead… finally I begged for mercy and a stop to the madness].

When the show opened Higashi and I made a bee-line to Adam Hughes‘s table. Allison was trying to bring order to chaos. There was something like 22 dealers already in line before the doors opened. Higashi and I made the list as #1 and #2 for the “fan list.” We visited with Allison for a bit and then Higashi was off and I was in his wake… but before I scooted, I was able to set up a commission with Phil Noto!

Our next stop was Josh Middleton‘s table. Josh does great work, but it just wasn’t in the budget this time. Someday… I hope!

I then headed over to John Beatty and Alberto Ruiz‘s table. We were laughing and cutting up when James Howell walked by. I asked James if he wanted to take a walk around artist’s alley. He said, “Sure.”

So here we are strolling through artist’s alley. Talking to artists, checking out the folks in costumes, greeting other collector’s and just having a fun morning.

All of a sudden a guy steps in front of James and swings up his camera. James brings up his arms in a “What the heck are you doing gesture.” The guy lowers his camera and points at James. The guy then brings his camera up for a picture.

I’m looking at both of them wondering what the deal is when James suddenly yells, “I’m not in a @$%*%! costume.” Then it dawns on me. The guy thinks that James has come to the show dressed as Kevin Matchstick from Mage.

I bust out laughing which makes James turn a darker shade of red. James looks at me and says something to the effect of “He thought I was in a costume.” I’m fighting back the tears as I point to him and answer, “You are!”

Dennis Weaver and a Different Kind of Three

What’s that saying about deaths of famous people happening in “threes? Today, I’d like to discuss a different kind of three.

It was announced today that Dennis Weaver passed away on Friday. Weaver, was by any definition a celebrity. He has over 100 credits listed on his filmography. Weaver was an actor, director, composer and more.

My fondest memories of Dennis Weaver always involve my grandfather. We’d watch Gunsmoke [Weaver played Chester the deputy who always seemed to be yelling “Mr. Dillon, Mr. Dillon!”] and later McLoud [the country cop who ended up in New York City]. My grandfather and I really enjoyed Dennis Weaver in any role. So wouldn’t you know it, we watched the world premiere of “Duel” [directed by Steven Spielberg]. I can remember, during commercials, my grandpa and I talking about how exciting the movie was.

Of course Weaver was known for many other roles. He starred in the Gentle Ben tv series, had a role in Orson Welles‘ classic “Touch of Evil,” memorable guest appearances on all kinds of classic shows and headlined dozens of other movies. Still it is those three roles that I cherish most. It’s obvious why.

My thoughts and prayers go out to Dennis Weaver‘s family, friends, and fans.

Don Knotts & Darren McGavin: RIP

Pictured above are Darren McGavin and Don Knotts who appeared together in Disney’s No Deposit, No Return. As many of you have already heard, both recently passed away within a day of each other.

Don Knotts, best known as the bumbling but loveable Barney Fife on The Andy Griffith show, died on Friday from pulmonary and respiratory complications. Knotts appeared in more than 25 films and seven tv series but it was his role as Barney Fife that brought him the most awards [five Emmys] and fan recognition. Looking at Mr. Knotts’ filmnography, it’s obvious that he would have had a successful career even without the role of Barney Fife [over 50 years in the business, movies, tv, etc.], but the world would have been a bit sadder place.

Darren McGavin, 83, passed away on Saturday from natural causes. Although Mr. McGavin had a long, successful career in movies and on television; there were two roles that standout for me. The first was as newspaper reporter, Carl Kolchak who discovered a real vampire in modern day LA in the made for tv movie “Kolchak: The Night Stalker.” [Although I was never a fan of the series that the movie spawned…] The second role was that of Ralphie‘s dad in the classic “A Christmas Story.”

My thoughts and prayers go out to the families, friends and fans of both Mr. McGavin and Mr. Knotts.

Frank Miller: In His Own Words

The other day I linked to an article that discussed Frank Miller‘s upcoming graphic novel, Batman: Holy Terror!

Miller‘s novel is getting a lot of press and it doesn’t even have a publication date yet. Of course the subject matter [Batman takes on al Qaeda] is pretty controversial.

If you want to see what Miller actually said about Batman: Holy Terror!, his work on Sin City, Daredevil and more, then click HERE for a transcript of an interview posted at Newsarama by Charles Brownstein.

Wolverine: Cool Again?

Wolverine used to be one of my favorite comic characters.

Of course that was back in the day. At that time, he was the mysterious little guy with the beserker rage. Chris Claremont or Frank Miller were penning his stories and John Byrne & Terry Austin or Miller & Joe Rubinstein were providing the art. Yeah, like I said, it was years ago.

Still the latest issue of Previews had two covers featuring Wolverine that were pretty cool. The first, the cover to Wolverine: Origins #1 is by Joe Quesada. The second, the cover to Wolverine #41 is by C.P. Smith.

I haven’t read a great Wolverine story in years. Maybe one of these issues will break that bad-luck string.

AH, Everyone Wants Something

Yesterday, my buddy, John Higashi and I got together over lunch to discuss our “strategy” for next weekend’s MegaCon.

For those of you who don’t know, John Higashi is considered the “master” in the art of getting commissions from artists. Don’t believe me, then take a look at John’s personal collection.

Unbelieveable, huh?

We’re both hoping to get on Adam Hughes‘ sketch list. If you’re not familiar with Adam Hughes‘ art, here’s a link to his site. Check it out and I’ll be here when you get back.

Wow! You were gone quite a while. I can’t blame you though because Adam is such an amazing artist. Now you can see why everyone – including John Higashi and me — hope to get something from him next weekend.

I’ll be sure and let you know how it turns out.


Zeck, The Punisher and a Graffiti-Filled Wall

I came across this cool Mike Zeck Punisher piece the other day. It was first used as a pin-up in an issue of Marvel Fanfare and then later turned into a poster.

When Mike decided to do a pin-up of the Punisher with a huge gun against a grafitti-filled wall he was left the the problem of what to use for the graffiti. He decided to fill it using the names of friends. In some cases the friends were “couples.” As a joke he listed “Zablo and Sly” because of my admiration for Sylvester Stallone.

If my memory serves me correctly he poster was made about about 15 years ago. [Yep, years before the StalloneZone was created!] Unfortunately some of the folks listed on the poster have passed on. And in many cases the couples have split up.

Last I heard though, Zablo + Sly were still going strong.

Batman Works

If push came to shove and I had to name my all time favorite comic character, it’d be Batman.

Maybe it’s because he’s grounded in reality. Well, as much reality as you can get in the super hero genre. Batman doesn’t have super powers. Anyone with the same determination, will power and, ahem, bank account could become Batman.

Another reason that I like Batman so much is that there are so many takes on the character that work. Think about it…

Adam West‘s tv Batman was camp.

Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams Batman was the world’s greatest detective.

Steve Englehart and Marshall Rogers [along with Terry Austin] explored the struggle for balance between Bruce Wayne and Batman.

Frank Miller brought us the Dark Knight as Dirty Harry.

Doug Moench, Kelly Jones and John Beatty looked at the horror/supernatural aspect of Batman‘s universe.

I could go on and on but the point that I want to make is that each of these takes is different, but they all work.

Currently Matt Wagner is doing a riff on Batman in a six issue mini series called Batman and the Monster Men. It’s a story of Batman‘s first encounter with super villians.

And you guessed it, it works.

Raf’s Blog

My buddy, Rafael Kayanan has started his own blog. Raf‘s a really talented individual. He’s a highly skilled martial artist who trains celebrities and works as a technical advisor in the film industry. Raf‘s also an accomplished artist who has illustrated for comic books, film, games and tv.

And now Raf has started his own blog. It’s going to be on my daily read list. Check it out and you may find it on yours as well!

A Really Big Mega Convention

If you’re anywhere near Orlando, Florida from February 24th – 26th, you may want to check out the MegaCon convention.

In addition to George Perez, who is the Guest of Honor, there are going to be a ton of comic book artists and movie / tv celebs on hand to sketch and sign autographs. Of course there will be a ton of dealers selling the latest comics, dvds, graphic novels and who knows what else.

I’ll be there looking to pick up a few more Stallone sketches. Big John Beatty will be there as a guest [sharing a table with the incredibly talented Alberto Ruiz]. If you can make it, swing by Big Beatty’s table and at least say, “Hi.”

It’s Not Your Dad’s Running Scared

Up until a few minutes ago I don’t think I’d ever even heard of Running Scared. No,. it’s not that old Billy Crystal movie, this “Running Scared.” is being released on February 24th and stars Paul Walker.

It’s not that I’m a big Paul Walker fan [although I did like him in The Fast and the Furious].

It’s not that I’m a big Wayne Kramer fan [although The Cooler did get very good reviews].

What it is, is… I thought the trailer looked pretty interesting and the website even better. Let’s hope that the movie doesn’t let us down.