Nick Bradshaw @ Hal Con 2

Nick Bradshaw @ Hal Con 2
Nick Bradshaw @ Hal Con

The other neighbor I had at Hal Con 2011 was non other than Marvel Comics artist Nick Bradshaw. And while I was a little jealous of the attention he got as prepared to my booth (though I understand it), I wouldn’t have passed up the chance at meeting him for the world.

Nick is currently working on Wolverine and the X-Men, one of the many new titles to come out of the X-Men: Re-genesis storyline. While I haven’t actively followed X-Men since Claremont  re-took over waaaaay back in X-Men #100 and trashed everything I loved about the series, I have been keeping abreast on everything X over the last decade via web blogs and wonderful website such as UncannyXMen.net.

Nick’s work just blows me away. I saw him doing some sketches for fans (and am cursing myself for not asking for one) and the speed yet skill with which he works is simply astounding. One of my favorite artists in comics in Chris Bachalo, and I was shocked by how similar their styles were – it was no wonder then that afterward I learned that Nick often does covers for Chris’s titles. Makes sense.

During slow periods I’d talk to him and flip through his book of original art, all of which is stunning, and got to ask him questions I’ve been dying to ask people in person for years. For instance: in one large panel from an X-Men book involving a dragon, I noticed a drawing of a main character atop a building that was very small. Now, if it was small in the original art, it would be almost invisible in the finished comic. So why put it in? Apparently it’s mostly for the colorist, helping them know where the breaks in the colors should go. Who knew?

In any event, Nick is awesome a deserves all the attention he’s getting. That, and meeting a Marvel artist for more than 10 seconds is something I’m happy to scratch off my bucket-list.

Art by Nick Bradshaw
X-Men art by Nick Bradshaw

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A Neon Village @ Hal Con 2

Milan McKay & Ellen Curtis
Milan interviews Ellen for a future episode of “A Neon Village” centering around Hal-Con 2011.

True to form there was a high media presence at this year’s Hal-Con. Although I’m a bit of a media-whore (you have to be doing what I do) there are often no critiques I hold in higher regard than the simple blogger or vlogger putting his or her opinion out there onto the Internet. I’m thrilled that media of this type is becoming more and more recognized in this country, to the point where certain bloggers are being given press-passes at some large conventions. That is awesome.

One Blogger / YouTube Channel creator I was happy to see again was Milan McKay, host of the YouTube channel “A Neon Village.” Milan gave us a great review of Black Womb several months ago and has promised a review of Infinity after picking it up at last year’s Hal-Con, which I eagerly await. but he’s a busy man, and we get that. I’m sure he’d ask where Infinity2 is if I bugged him where my review was. 😉

Anyway, Milan is a great guy who is lots of fun to talk to and hang out with. He was even helping authors carry out their loads of unsold books when I last saw him, which is the type of thing you have to be a real class-act to do. If Milan’s listening, his efforts do not go unnoticed.

In addition to hosting A Neon Village, Milan writes an indie comic called Freaks with Feelings, an odd character-study piece which continues to amaze. It’s got two issues out currently, both in that great “put together with a stapler and a xerox look” that hides the true genius inside. Come on, Ink’d Well Comics! You’ve got a genius on your front door in need of a publisher! Get your game on! 😉

Here’s hoping for another Neon Village sometime soon.

Milan McKay & Ellen Curtis
Is it just me or do the Womb-eyes make it look like Ellen has devil horns? Creepy.

Drakaina Muse @ Hal Con 2

Drakaina Muse & Me - Hal-Con 2011
Drakaina Muse & Me: photo not by me for once, one of her friends was kind enough to take it.

Drakaina Muse graced the Hal-Con convention again this year, and I was fortunate enough to have her as my neighbor.

For those unfamiliar with conventions, having a good neighbor is key. You have to be able to get along with them, they have to be nice, and they have to not try and steal your clientele. Drak was, as she was last year, awesome.

Drakaina is a model / muse (she prefers the latter, I think, and it’s well deserved judging by the amount of artists she inspires). Images inspired by her have appeared in various comics the world over, as well as a plethora of online contributions too numerous to mention.

In addition to being striking, she’s also one of the nicest people I’ve ever met at a con. She’s also richly intelligent, which is why I was very happy to learn that  her team is working on a comic-book adaptation of her character.

Always kind and always wonderful, Drakaina Muse helped make this convention a great one again this year and hopefully we’ll be neighbors again soon.

Hal Con 2, Day 2

Nelson the Robot - HalCon 2011
Nelson the Robot

After a slightly slow first day, the second day of Hal Con 2011 really blew me away. We again almost sold out of every title this year, and both the Writer’s Toolkit workshop yesterday with Ellen Curtis and my “Writer’s Block” panel today went over really well with full attendance for both.

There was simply tons to do and see, and Halifax really came through with making us feel welcomed. There really is a sense of community here that just isn’t found everywhere — and there’s something for everyone. I mean, last night the Stargazer Soiree was actually very classy. I mean, probably the classiest thing I’ve ever been to (but that doesn’t necessarily say much).

A big part of all that is the organizers and the volunteers. Jen Lambe, Amanda Schreiber… these people are the real stars of this convention, not the actors or authors. and I think everyone kind of knows that.

Inner Child, 2011 edition, Matthew LeDrew, Engen BooksWe had our book launch for Inner Child and our re-launch for the newly international Compendium. There honestly weren’t as many people in attendance at that, but that’s nobody’s fault but our own for going up again Hal Con’s costume contest… I mean, nobody goes up against the costume contest and wins. 😉

There’s so much to say I’ll never say it all. Nicolas Brendan was awesome, as was Kelly Armstrong. Travis Milo (our wonderful volunteer driver) was a hoot and a half while taking us from one end of Halifax to the other. Everything was great. If I had a million years I wouldn’t be able to tell you how great it was.

Anyway, we came damn close to beating our sales mark of last year… missed it by a little, but that’s fine. It’s not about the money. It’s about being a part of something this wonderful. The Con organizers have managed to capture lightning in a bottle a second time, and that’s a rare feat.

I’m exceptionally interested to see what they have in store for Hal-Con 2013.

Hal-Con 2011 Dealer's Room
The Dealer’s Room in the early AM… a very rare moment of peace.
Heidi Paulin - What the Wild Things Read
Heidi makes a sign for the WTWTR launch.

Kill Shakespeare @ Hal Con 2

Conor McCreery
Conor McCreery entertains a fan

Kill Shakespeare was back in full force this year with Conor McCreery returning for Hal Con 2011, as well as his co-author Anthony Del Col and artist Andy Belanger. With style, silliness and blood-stained vests they made the show.

Actually they’re all really great people, and it was great seeing Conor again. We picked up the complete two volumes of Kill Shakespeare, receiving the second volume a full three days before it’s technically available. Makes me feel all special. I’ll be sure to post something once I’ve got them read, but having read a few single issues up until now I can say with some certainty that I’ll like the exploits of our heroes as they “Bash the Bard.”

Conor also dropped the bomb that they’re working on a screenplay treatment. Not sure if I’m supposed to know that… but then again, he’s met me before. He knows that I have a huge mouth, so I’m sure it’s not supposed to be a secret.

Anyway, this series is awesome and intelligent and one of the few comics on the racks that won’t rot your brain. Definitely worth a pickup.

Kill Shakespeare, Conor McCreeryMy only regret this year is that Conor didn’t come by the Inner Child launch and play tag like he did at last year’s Infinity launch. You hear me, McCreery? I know you’re just chicken. Next year, I’m proposing an Engen Books / Kill Shakespeare rap battle. Winner takes all, loser goes home. Are you man enough? lol. 😉

Ink’d Well Comics @ Hal-Con2

Returning for Hal-Con 2011 this year were friends and cohorts Ink’d Well Comics. I say cohorts because both Ellen and I got a little piece of the comic action this year, with each of us contributing prose stories for their new charity book What the Wild Things Read. Jay says he actually plans on making this a yearly production, which is just awesome. All the proceeds go to “Free the Children,” which (Heidi has informed me) is not a charity that removes children from their homes, but one that frees third-world country children from oppression and cruelty. Definitely a worthy cause. Everyone should go pick it up and feel good about themselves.

Actually there’s a small bone of contention I have with WTWTR, but it has nothing to do with the book itself. It’s because I always wanted to write and draw my own comic story, and I had it all worked out, and just couldn’t get the art done in time. Boo on me. I met Ink’d Well artists Ariel Marsh and Nick Orme while I was there this time, and now have tremendous amounts of respect for what they do and how quickly they do it. Well, I always had respect. Now I have more.

I’ve picked up Jay’s newest book Infantasy, and will be letting everyone know what I think once I get a chance to breathe again after the flight.

Jay Paulin, Ariel Marsh, and Heidi Paulin
Okay Jay, we’re going to need you to smile. That’s good Ariel… a little less, Heidi.
Jay Paulin, Ariel Marsh, and Heidi Paulin
Still good Ariel… of come on Jay, you’re not even trying!
Jay Paulin, Ariel Marsh, and Heidi Paulin
Oh my God that’s hideous! Put it back Jay! Put it back!
Jay Paulin, Ariel Marsh, and Heidi Paulin
That’s better. Whew. Okay, good shoot everyone.