Long Beach Comic Expo: Hex11, Man vs Rock and Aero-Girl

The Hex11 table. Photo by Michelle Zaludek.

The Hex11 table. Photo by Michelle Zaludek.

During the Long Beach Comic Expo, I was able to interview some of the creative minds behind Hex11Man vs. Rock and Aero-Girl

Their comic books range from sci-fi-fantasy adventures to classic hero origins to the downright comical, but they each give solid insight into the Expo and how incredibly diverse comics can be. Hex11 was one of the five nominees for the inaugural Dwayne McDuffie Award. Aero-Girl and its creators have been long-time recurring participants in the Expo. And Man vs Rock is bursting onto the Expo scene with — excuse me — rock solid enthusiasm.

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Video games and comics play co-op

The mesh of comics and video games has been on the rise recently. Between the resounding success of the Arkham series — with the third installment coming later this year — and a slew of others entering the ring, it’s easy to see how the two worlds would mix.

Game programmer and student Anthony Ramirez, and Creative Director and Co-Owner of Miscreant Studios, Hank Garcia, were able to talk over phone. San Luis Obispo GameStop manager Emily Hern was able to speak in person.

Together, they paint a quick picture of how the two worlds mesh together. While each were optimistic about the relationship — each citing Injustice: Gods Among Us as a prime example — they warn that the intricacies of different hero’s backgrounds can be difficult to translate.

The extra sound comes from samplings collected from Injustice.

Scribd’s “Netflix for Comics” and why you should be using it

Buying comics digitally is a relatively recent phenomenon that’s made it possible to have access to a library anywhere, anytime.

It’s a pocket-longbox, so to speak.

On February 10 a website and app combo that was already acting as a “Netflix” for books, Scribd, announced the addition of 10,000 comic books. It creates a whole new world for accessing comic books that’s a little more versatile than other aggregate sites like Comixology, for $8.99 per month.

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Super statistics on heroes

Some of the ins and outs of superhero comics are a little hard to find on their own. Not that the information is lacking — in fact, it’s everywhere — but finding it all in one place is a little tiresome. Let’s fix that. The following infographic is a compilation of some of the statistics on superheroes and their encompassing media.
It’s just hitting the surface, so if there’s anything you’d like to see in future infographics, be sure to let me know in the comments below.
Click on the link or on the infographic to enjoy an interactive version of Know Your Hero.

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The bridge from reader to creator: Starting your own comic

How does a comic get started? What kind of idea is so powerful that it springs forth and pushes forward to a full story that’s inherently different from other mediums? After all, both visual and literary elements have to come together in a comic to make a singular work. Webcomic authors and illustrators were able to talk about the different ways that a comic gets off the ground.

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Origin stories of San Luis Obispo comic readers

Let’s talk origin stories. In comics, the classic origin stories are back-story. The mythos behind a hero — or villain. Who caused the wrong they need to right? How did they get their powers or their awesome crime-fighting technology? Where did they get their cape, and does it need to be dry-cleaned?

But what about the reader? How did they get started on their journey to read? Questions over what made a reader pick up their first book, and what attracts them to what they’re reading now inspired me to go out and ask.

I was lucky enough to have Reid Cain, owner Dr. Cain’s Comics and Games in San Luis Obispo let me sit in for a couple of hours and interview some of his customers. Click on any picture to start the slideshow. 

Buying comic books for you

A first look upon entering Dr. Cain's Comics and Games in San Luis Obispo, Calif. Owner Reid Cain says he prides himself on keeping a clean, welcoming environment.

A first look upon entering Dr. Cain’s Comics and Games in San Luis Obispo, Calif. while Reid Cain walks to the front of the shop. Photos by Michelle Zaludek.

Before we can get into the finer, fancier details of enjoying your comics and caffeine, we should go a little broad: buying traditional comic books.

Trust me, I get it. Walking into a comic book store can be a little daunting — read: very daunting. Some places are apt to make you feel a little like you’ve walked into a place where you’re just not welcome.

Not to fear! Some comic book stores have realized the err in their ways and are working at, as owner of Dr. Cain’s Comics and Games in San Luis Obispo Calif., Reid Cain, said “Getting it away from the boy’s club a little bit. [Some shops] act like a secret club, and I don’t want my shop to be like that.”

Since the Bronze Age, where the gritty superhero story reigned supreme, a large portion of the male audience created a culture of exclusivity that surrounded the medium.

“As [comics] grew and matured, they started to attract a wider audience,” said co-creator of Miscreant Studios and comic reader, Hank Garcia.

Even though men — and pretty much everyone — in tights are great, you don’t have to feel confined to them by any means on your quest for the one comic to rule them all anymore.

Cain emphasized that keeping a clean, well-lit shop that people felt comfortable exploring was a top priority for him.

Cain emphasized that keeping a clean, well-lit shop that people felt comfortable exploring was a top priority for him.

“There’s a kind of comic book for any genre you’re interested in,” Cain said, “I try to match the book to the person.”

“It more or less depends on the individual,” Garcia said on choosing a comic book, “… Comics that interest me are dark ones … I even loved the original space biker, Lobo, [with an] ego so inflated that it can be used as a flotation device in case of [an] emergency.”

“The mixing of words and art is really powerful,” said Cain who’s own first comic book was issue 1, volume 1 of Saga of Crystar, Crystal Warrior, which he found at a 7-11 in his home town in Colorado. “… The power of the book is your imagination, the power of the comic book is someone else’s interpretation [of a storyline].”

“Ultimately, let your yes’s be yes’s and your no’s be no’s,” said comic reader Gabriel Gomez.

Additionally, whether you want to read an indie series or a big-name title, don’t worry about starting at the very beginning. Anything you’re unsure about can be Googled. Besides, some issues are great as standalones anyway. Do you have to know the characters in volume 2 issue 11 of Justice League of America to get what’s happening and be invested? Definitely not.

Now that you’re prepped for your shopping trip, be ready for our first pairing coming up this weekend.