Thursday, December 17, 2015

Hundreds pack in for Star Wars movie marathon in Southgate

Fans as young as 10 were among those waiting in line at 3:30 a.m. this morning to rush into the MJR
Theater in Southgate.
In all more than 300 fans waited in line, up to four hours, for the right to be among the first to see “Episode VII” also known as “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”
PHOTOS: Star Wars fans attend movie marathon
The hitch? About 16 hours of movies prior to the screening of the newest installment of the series.
The fans were waiting outside for the right to be among the first to see “The Phantom Menace” which was originally released in 1999 and is almost universally hated among fans of the franchise.
The theater was showing all seven numbered installments of the franchise, skipping out only on the animated release called “The Clone Wars” that bridges the gap between the original and prequel trilogies in the saga.
First among those in line were St. Clair Shores residents Ken and Amy Willard. They arrived at the theater around midnight, in full costume. Ken was wearing Mandalorian Armor designed to look like iconic bounty hunter Boba Fett, while Amy was wearing a Princess Leia Organa costume.
“It’s a once in a lifetime experience,” Ken said. “You just have to do it.”
Despite the first three films being shown generally being the least popular the fans didn’t mind getting up that early.
“It’s been 10 years since we’ve had a movie in theater,” Lincoln Park resident Andrew Aben said. “Plus I can just sleep through 'Attack of the Clones' if I have to.”
Aben was seeing the marathon with Dearborn resident Devin Crawford.
“Yeah it’s almost 24 hours of movies,” Crawford said, “but this is about the experience. You have to see them all in order.”
RELATED: 7 Star Wars toys expected to be hot after "The Force Awakens."
For some fans seven movies weren’t enough. Several had tickets to the marathon, and also a ticket to the 10 p.m. showing of the newest release.
“I know I’m going to love it,” Southgate resident Thomas Weid said. “I’ll be happy to see it again right away.”
Those who were seeing the marathon and the second screening were in for about 22 hours at the theater.
“Hopefully it’s worth it,” Flat Rock resident Sarah West said. “This is the first time I’ve seen ‘Star Wars’ in a theater.”
Among the youngest in the audience was 10-year-old Ethan Schmidt of Gibraltar, he was there with his dad Erik.
Ethan cited “The Phantom Menace” as his favorite film in the saga.
“I like the end with all the fights,” he said. “Darth Maul is my favorite character.”
Erik said that despite most people calling “The Empire Strikes Back” as their favorite, his favorite is “The Return of the Jedi.”
“That’s the first movie I have real memories of seeing in theater,” he said. “My father and I saw it together.”
Schmidt was excited to share the newest trilogy with son, Ethan.
“The Force Awakens” smashed records with more than $100 million in pre-sale tickets for opening weekend, and was on track to gross more than $200 million in its opening weekend. The previous record for pre-sale tickets was “The Dark Knight” which sold about $25 million before its release.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

“Star Wars” marathon begins Thursday at MJR Southgate Digital Cinema 20

The MJR Southgate Digital Cinema 20, 15651 Trenton Road, Southgate, will show a marathon of all
six previous “Star Wars” movies in chronological order beginning at 4 a.m. Thursday. The viewing will start with 1999’s “Star Wars – Episode I: The Phantom Menace” and end with 1983’s “Return of the Jedi.”

Costumes are allowed at the marathon, which costs $50. If moviegoers do not want to see all six movies yet want to see others, they still have to pay $50. For questions or further information about the marathon, call the MJR Southgate at 734-284-3456.

Theaters put limits on costumes at new ‘Star Wars’ movie

For many, Christmas will come early this year when the hotly anticipated “Star Wars: The Force
Awakens” opens worldwide this weekend.
The long-awaited seventh installment in filmmaker George Lucas' beloved space opera that began with 1977’s “Star Wars” – his love letter to the matinee serials he loved as a child that changed the way movies are made and spawned a gigantic merchandising empire – is predicted to dominate the box office for the next two weeks at the very least and gross $2 billion before its theatrical run ends. Tickets have been on sale since Oct. 19.
Across metro Detroit, theaters are gearing up for a busy weekend and are cracking down on costumes. In the case of Cinemark and AMC Theatres, both are allowing costumes but within reason. Movie-goers cannot wear masks and face-paint, nor wield toy weapons such as blasters (laser pistols) or lightsabers. However, AMC is allowing lightsabers.
“AMC does not permit weapons or items that would make other guests feel uncomfortable or detract from the movie-going experience,” the Leawood, Kan., theater chain says on its website.
“Guests are welcome to come dressed in costume, but we do not permit masks. In short, bring your lightsaber, turn it off during the movie, and leave the blaster and Darth Vader mask at home.”
This is a safety factor, said Tahli Montgomery, the supervisor on duty at the AMC Star Fairlane 21 at the Fairlane Town Center in Dearborn.
According to Montgomery, if movie-goers are wearing a mask or face-paint, they will be asked to remove it. If they have to be asked more than once, they will then be asked to leave the premises. Likewise, if they are seen with toy weapons they will be asked to return them to their car; if they refuse, they will then be asked to leave the premises, as well.
Mike Mihalich, the founder/CEO of MJR Digital Cinemas in Bloomfield Hills, said the nine MJR theaters in Michigan, including the MJR Southgate Digital Cinema 20, will allow movie-goers to wear costumes to “The Force Awakens” on Thursday only. However, no masks, face-paint and toy weapons will be allowed.
“This is a different kind of deal,” Mihalich said. “This is going to be the biggest grossing film in a long, long time – maybe ever – so we’ll let people (wear costumes) on Thursday. This is an exception.”
The MJR Southgate is having a marathon of all six “Star Wars” movies – “Star Wars,” 1980’s “The Empire Strikes Back,” 1983’s “Return of the Jedi,” 1999’s “Star Wars – Episode I: The Phantom Menace,” 2002’s “Star Wars – Episode II: Attack of the Clones,” and 2005’s “Star Wars – Episode III: Revenge of the Sith” – beginning at 4 a.m. Thursday. (See sidebar for more details.). Costumes will be allowed at the marathon, Mihalich said.
RELATED: 7 toys expected to blow up after the release of Episode VII However, once the Thursday screenings are over, costumes will not be allowed at any MJR location, he said.
The policy on MJR's website says: "Costumes, masks or like attire is not permitted in the theater."
Mihalich said the reason for that also is a safety factor.
Theaters across the nation have increased safety protocols and banned costumes as a result of a mass shooting at a movie theater July 20, 2012, at a midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises.”
The shooting took place at the Century 16 movie theater in Aurora, Colo., when graduate student James Eagan Holmes went on a rampage. Holmes, whose hair was dyed to resemble the Joker was dressed in body armor, was convicted of killing 12 people and wounding 70. On Aug. 24, he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
In addition to following theater rules about costumes, movie-goers are asked to leave their cell phones in their cars or turn them off completely during the screenings. If caught on their cell phones, they will be asked once to silence them; if they are asked again, they will be asked to leave the premises.
Montgomery encourages movie-goers to come early and asks for them to be patient.
“It’ll be pretty busy,” he said. “People need to get here early. We’re talking 30 minutes before the movie starts; there’ll be long lines. If you’re coming to a 7 p.m. show, get here at 6:30 p.m.”
Mihalich advises movie-goers to purchase tickets online to minimize waiting in long lines. Movie-goers shouldn’t avoid “The Force Awakens” this weekend if they don’t believe they’ll get a seat. Mihalich said MJR will open up other auditoriums to accommodate more screenings.
“We’re playing on lots of screens, and there’s lots of seats available,” he said. “Digital today is certainly more flexible than 35 mm films. This might be the highest-grossing film of the last 10 years.
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” (Rated PG-13) opens nationwide Friday, with some screenings Thursday evening. Check local listings for showtimes.

Originally written for republished with permission.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The 7 hottest Star Wars toys and collectibles just in time for Episode VII

“The Force” is about to awaken more than just on movie screens.
The seventh film in the “Star Wars” saga (Actually the eighth theatrically released film after the 2008 animated “The Clone Wars”) is set to drop Nov. 18, at which point Star Wars merchandise is expected to skyrocket in interest and value.
PHOTOS: Star Wars merchandise to own before the release of "The Force Awakens"
Quick Stop Comic Shop co-owner Dennis Barger, the self-proclaimed “king of the nerds” picked out seven pieces of merchandise he expects to be among the most sought after by Friday.
Among his criteria, he chose both new and vintage items, and items from price points that should be affordable to all level of collectors.
Check out Barger’s selections in the video below.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

In other news, Barger ages again

Not all is right in the comic book world, something is amiss.
Normally characters from the pages of comics near and far don't age (unless it's in a splinter universe, or advances the plot.), however on this day, the second of December, year of our lord 2015, one such character has aged by an entire year.
That's right lads and lasses, Dennis L. Barger, Jr., co-owner of Quick Stop Comic Shop admitted via a Facebook notification that he was in fact born, and continues to age.
Make no mistake, the self-anointed "King of all the geeks" is definitely a character of epic proportions, but he continues to break all the rules and not follow the well-known tropes of his genre of pop-culture.
Anyone that knows the man, knows its mostly myth and legend, but on this day hundreds of friends, coworkers, acquaintances and other people he vaguely knows reached out and told him "Happy Birthday," in one way or another. Some simply with the words, others with topless photos of Bea Arthur (who ironically enough is having a career resurgence because of it.). It's unclear if those are related.
Barger had an outpouring of support not seen since any other person with a similar number of Facebook friends also celebrated their own birthday

*Editor's note, this is a barely modified version of the post from his birthday last year.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

ComiqueCon put this man in his place, and it was glorious

In the past six years I’ve been to more than 200 comic book and pop culture shows, conventions and other events.
You could say I’ve become obsessed with conventions. It wouldn’t be a false statement. I’ve been to shows in five states and two countries, both as a working member of the media and as a straight up fan.
PHOTOS: ComiqueCon
Being at a show is what you could call my “happy place.” I’m comfortable at them, like a second home.
That’s what made Saturday special. I was completely out of place.
It wasn’t a bad thing.
ComiqueCon, a show by women and for women, was just different. It was a beautiful thing. There were dozens of female writers, artists and creators from the comic book and graphic art world.
Typically at a show there will be one or two female creators, or if it’s a big show maybe as much as 10 percent of the tables.
That’s a huge disparity from the real world. Women represent more than 52 percent of comic book buyers, but a far lower number when it comes to creators.
Marvel and DC Comics, the two major publishers print upwards of 50 titles a month each. Almost every book has a writer, artist, inker and letterer, yet the two companies usually employ less than 30 women in those positions in a given month.
Numbers are fluid each month depending on which titles. All of the creators are independent contractors, so technically no men or women are employed in any of those capacities.
Those numbers increase a bit at the second level of comic book publishing companies, but industry wide less than 40 percent of creators are women.
When women are typically featured at a comic book convention there has historically been one or two panels set up with two or three creators on it.
This convention was all encompassing, writers, artists, letterers, inkers and other women in the industry were not only the featured guests, they were basically the only guests. (A few men who work on books with women were featured but for once they were the extreme minority.)
It was great. I met more new (to me) creators than I do at a typical show.
I sincerely hope that show founder Chelsea Liddy is willing to put in the time and energy to bring the show back to Dearborn again next year.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Journalist invited to guest on ‘Podbros Promotions’ podcast

For the better part of a decade I’ve wanted to be a podcaster, but for various reasons I’ve never gotten around to it, at least not officially.
A few years back, some readers might remember the ‘Culture ‘Cast, that I started with good friend and then-coworker David Komer, but it was extremely short lived. It also wasn’t a podcast, we used a video player to post it and save on some editing time, and it was recorded on a video camera with no microphones.
It also only lasted three episodes.
LISTEN: Podbros Promotions episode 47 with Dave Herndon.
Then last year I decided to write a story about a podcasting network started by Lincoln Park resident John Bruske and a bunch of other local men.
I convinced a bunch of them to get together and chat, and even told them to feel free to record it and post it as a podcast.
They did, and I was officially featured on my first “real” podcast on the network.
Flash forward about a year, I was asked to be on one of the (now more than 30) shows on the network.
Bruske wanted to interview me about what it’s like being a modern journalist, how I do it and where I see the future of the industry.
I’m not used to being on that side of the table, I’m always the one asking the questions, but I think it turned out well.
The show I was on is called “Podbros Promotions,” where Bruske goes around and interviews people from all walks of life. I was lucky enough to be featured on the 47th episode which he posted Sunday morning, and I was asked back for a future episode (whether it posts at #48 or a future episode) about my toy collecting and the industry there.
Give it a listen and let me know what you think.

Monday, September 14, 2015

11th Annual Youmacon 2015 Celebrates Japanese Pop Culture

The production team from Youmacon – a Detroit-based, four-day anime, gaming, art and comic convention celebrating Japanese popular culture – today announced details for Youmacon 2015, scheduled for Oct. 29 to Nov. 1, 2015 at downtown’s Cobo Center and Renaissance Center.  Festivities will take place 24-hours-a-day beginning at 8 p.m. on Thursday evening through 6 p.m. on Sunday.

Similar in theme to most major Comic Cons, Youmacon (named for the Japanese word youma, meaning demon or ghost) is an all-ages mix of interactive games and events, cosplay, celebrity guest panels, live musical performances, exhibitors, artists and more.  Highlights of the event, now in its 11th year, also include a Charity Masquerade Ball, video game and table top gaming rooms, a Live Action Mario and Donkey Kong Parties and a massive 100,000+ sq. foot dealer’s room for shopping anime and other collectibles.  Last year’s Youmacon drew more than 18,000 attendees.

“After celebrating our momentous 10 year anniversary last year, our team really worked hard to assemble an even greater series of events for this year’s Youmacon,” said Morgan Kollin, chairman and founder of Youmacon Enterprises/Defying Conventions.  “Youmacon has become one of the staple events in Downtown Detroit and has continued to grow year after year. We hope to break our attendance records again this year and whether you’re attending your first Youmacon or your 11th, this one promises to be the biggest and best yet!”

As part of this year’s larger-than-ever Youmacon, more than 30 anime industry celebrities and special guests are expected, including actors, producers, musicians, artists and more.  For a complete list of special guests, please visit:

Registration is open till September 15, 2015 online at Platinum passes are available for $125 and three day passes for $55. Following September 15, tickets will only be available at-the-door.  Pricing options include a three-day pass ($60) or Friday only ($30), Saturday only ($40) or Sunday only ($20) passes.  Thursday evening’s activities are free and open to the public.  Attendees should note that tickets sales are cash only.

The Detroit Marriott at The Renaissance Center is serving as Youmacon 2015’s official event hotel, with overflow rooms available at the Westin Book Cadillac, Holiday Inn Express & Suites Downtown Detroit and the Greektown Casino Hotel.  Complete event, registration and lodging information is available at

About Youmacon

Created by Youmacon Enterprises/Defying Conventions, Youmacon is popular culture event similar to most Comic Cons, however instead of focusing on comic books, Youmacon is a celebration of Japanese popular culture and its influence on our own culture over the past few decades.  Common themes throughout the event are anime (Japanese animation), video games, Japanese-style artwork and comics and the rising Internet culture influenced by all of the above.  Youmacon brings a unique all-ages mix of interactive games, celebrity guest panels and live musical performances to downtown Detroit.  For more information, visit


Thursday, September 10, 2015

RECOUNT: My first flight was with the Blue Angels!

I’ve never been on an airplane before. Not until recently that is.
Always one to jump in feet first and ask questions later, I was offered the opportunity to fly in the Blue Angels support plane, the C-130T Hercules “Fat Albert.”
PHOTOS: Herndon's adventure with the "Fat Albert" crew.
While it’s not one of the fighter jets, it’s a plane nearly as impressive--maybe more so. the pilots and crew on this flight aren’t worried about just themselves and possibly a passenger, but sometimes dozens of others.
As the weeks turned to days, turned to hours, to minutes, my anxiety level got higher. I should have bought a ticket and flown somewhere, just so that it wasn’t my first flight.
I shouldn’t have agreed to go on the flight at all.
Why am I doing this again? I kept thinking.
But the experience was just too cool to pass up.
After what seemed like hours of waiting after check-in, a women in a Blue Angels jumpsuit emerged from the building we were standing near. My heart skipped a beat, realizing this was the moment.

She came over and gave us the first of four pre-flight briefings, making sure to mention we’d all be provided with air-sickness bags.
Next we moved a few hundred feet down and spoke with a flight engineer. He also mentioned the air sickness bag.
Good thing I hadn’t eaten in 24 hours.
After his briefing, we were allowed to walk down to see “Bert.” A truly impressive plane. We were given another quick briefing, and then turned loose to explore the massive jet.
We were not only given permission, but encouraged to shoot photos and video of the experience.
For about 15 minutes or so a group of military personnel and other members of the media were given miniature tours, posed for selfies and enjoyed scoping out the aircraft.
The pilots arrive.
I’m rarely awestruck, given the opportunity to meet and chat with people from all walks of life in my career, but this was something special.
We were allowed to listen in on the pilot briefing the crew for the day’s mission, which he spoke with such confidence and speed most of what I heard I still haven’t deciphered.
Then he turned to us and explained what he had said in terms I could understand.
The gist of it, we were going to go really fast. So fast that we would feel multiple G-forces on take off, and on the turns, and also experience weightlessness in Zero-G.
We’d be going over 300 knots, and taking off at about a 45 degree angle.
We boarded the plane for the last time, I sat between another member of the press and an female airman stationed at Selfridge Air National Guard Base.
Time to strap in.
Before the plane started moving she pulled out her air sickness bag.
I leaned over and told her that if she needed it, I might too. As I got mine out, I told her it was the first time I’d ever been in a plane.
Her face got ghost white. I can only imagine how many ways in which she pictured me evacuating my stomach contents.
Then she started telling everyone on her left about my first flight.
We started taxiing down the runway. I got out my phone and tweeted a quick goodbye to everyone, just in case.
And suddenly I felt like I weighed 1,000 pounds. With the G-forces I probably did, then just as quickly I was floating.
This went on for the next four hours, the constant lurching and pull of gravity, then floating and repeating.
One thing that didn’t happen, I never used the bag.
Oh, and the flight was only actually about eight minutes long. Longest, and shortest eight minutes of my life.
Then we were on the ground, the rear cargo door opened and we got to see as the Blue Angel jets taxied down the runway.
I survived.
OK I was never really that nervous about surviving, but I was anxious about not being “the guy” who needed to use the air sickness bag.
Once back on the ground the captain quickly gave us a rundown of what we’d done, posed for photos with anyone who wanted one, and then made himself and the crew available for interviews.
I pulled out my phone and noticed that he had favorited my tweet, not long after I’d sent it.
That’s right, while I was in the back worried about the flight, he was hanging out on Twitter.

Glad I hadn’t noticed that then, I might have jumped out the back!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Demolition Derby time, part 2. Monroe County Fair 2015 9 p.m. show

Video from all heats and the finals of the 9 p.m. show.

Wayne County Fair "Night of Destruction" videos

Have you backed Bayani yet? You should

"Bayani, a boy of 11, is desperately trying to care for his sick father (a fisherman) and keep
food on the table for his small family. Unfortunately, the sun has been shining down on the islands for the last month and night refuses to fall. The land is growing parched from the constant heat and the fish are moving further and further away from shore. During this disaster, the rain god, Pati', recruits Bayani to undertake a quest rescuing the nine kidnapped daughters of Lady Moon from the horrible monsters of lore. Bayani embarks on a great adventure with his friend, Tala, and using their wits, the kids defeat one hideous creature after another in their quest to rescue each of the Moon's daughters."
Sorry it's a short post, but there isn't a whole lot you need to know other than that blurb at the top.
Writer Travis McIntire is a really cool dude. I don't know him well, but I've talked with him at several shows, and read some of his other work. Based on that, you can't go wrong supporting him on this endeavor.
Go take a look at the video, and back him with a couple of bucks. The book looks amazing, and I need to be able to read it. I can't do that unless he raises another $1,000 in the next 4 days.
I don't ask often, but please go support him.

Demolition Derby time! Monroe County Fair 6 p.m. show 2015

 All six races from the 6 p.m. show.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Creative team for upcoming "Grumpy Cat" comic named

Dynamite Entertainment, following the wave of excitement generated from the May announcement of their upcoming Grumpy Cat comic book series, is pleased to announce the complete creative team for the upcoming first issue, scheduled for release in October. The series writers include Ben Fisher (Smuggling Spirits), Ben McCool (Captain America and the Korvac Saga), Royal McGraw (Detective Comics), and Elliott R. Serrano (Army of Darkness). The interior artists will be Ken Haeser (The Living Corpse) and Steve Uy (Avengers: The Initiative), who also contribute cover artwork alongside Rebekie Bennington (Doodle Jump), Agnes Garbowska (My Little Pony), and Tavis Maiden (The Konamis). Dynamite will also offer two special cover variants: a Blank Authentix edition, perfect for fans with artistic talent to personalize; and the first-ever "Create-Your-Own-Meme" edition that provide Grumpy Cat lovers an outlet for their own curmudgeonly witticisms.
Each of the contributing writers and artists has chimed in with their enthusiasm for the project:

Rebekie Bennington, artist: "When I first got the message about doing some art for Grumpy Cat, I didn't know if I could handle the pressure of being judged by the grumpiest cat on the internet... but then I realized that my own general grumpiness made me a perfect fit!"

Ben Fisher, writer: "Grumpy Cat has managed to transcend from meme to globally recognized personality with astonishing speed. Nearly anyone with Internet access knows that face, across all ages and nationalities. It's a huge honor to be given the opportunity to participate in her entrance into a new medium. Comic books are a natural fit for Grumpy Cat, along with her supporting cast of friends and family. I'm having a blast writing these great characters and developing their world. Also, Dynamite promised that if the books do well, they'll let me pitch the Chocolate Rain graphic novel."

Agnes Garbowska, artist: "I'm working on Grumpy Cat! I am so honoured that I can take part in capturing Grumpy Cat herself in comic book form. Currently, I am working on the covers for the comics. I wrapped up a cover for issue #1 and am working on a cover for the next issue. I am super excited to be a part of the Grumpy Cat team!"

Ken Haeser, artist: "I jumped at the chance to work on Grumpy Cat when Dynamite told me they were putting out a comic. How often do you get to work on something that is so universally known? Everyone knows Grumpy Cat! And hopefully it'll bring in a lot of non-comic readers to check it out. All I know is that it is going to be a lot of fun!"

Tavis Maiden, artist: "This is literally the first thing I've worked on that my kids think is cool. When I was tasked with capturing Grumpy Cat's likeness and personality for the covers, I was met with grueling deadlines, harsh criticism, and sweeping revisions... er, I mean, praise be to our Fluffy Overlord, may we never be good enough for her."

Ben McCool, writer: "Like millions worldwide, I've had countless chuckles over the past few years thanks to Grumpy Cat. I was lucky enough to attend the miserable moggy's official birthday party last year, and didn't think I could possibly trump it in terms of cat-related coolness. Little did I know I'd find myself in a position to write stories about Grumpy (along with Pokey, her eternally optimistic, happy-go-lucky brother -- shenanigans aplenty are an absolute guarantee)! I'm delighted to be part of such an exciting, fun-filled project, and can't wait for you all to read the madcap misadventures of Grumpy Cat."

Royal McGraw, writer: "Life isn't always roses. Sometimes it's the stuff you use to fertilize roses. Grumpy Cat has become an internet sensation because she's not afraid to voice the grumpy truth... and look adorable doing it. Personally, I'm thrilled to help Dynamite Entertainment bring Grumpy Cat to a brand new medium!"

Elliott R. Serrano, writer: "I'm really excited to be a member of Team Grumpy Cat! Ever since she gained fame on the 'internetz', Grumpy Cat was destined to join the pantheon of animal personalities that have captured our imagination. Grumpy Cat gets to say the things that we all think, yet are too polite to say. When writing Grumpy Cat, I had to get in touch with that part of myself that's not afraid to point out that while the cloud may have a silver lining, it's still raining. Let's face it, the reason we all love Grumpy Cat is because we each have a little Grumpy Cat inside of us."

Steve Uy, artist: "Cat memes have become a part of American culture, and there doesn't seem to be anything stopping it. One day, when it overcomes hot dogs and baseball, I'll be able to tell my grandchildren that I was a part of the very first cat meme book with Grumpy Cat, and they will look upon me with awe and respect, and shower me with more love than I need. That is why I'm a part of this book."

Grumpy Cat #1 will be solicited in Diamond Comic Distributors' August Previews catalog, the premiere source of merchandise for the comic book specialty market, corresponding to items shipping in October 2015. Comic book fans are encouraged to reserve copies of Grumpy Cat with their local comic book retailers. Grumpy Cat will also be available for individual customer purchase through digital platforms courtesy of Comixology, Dynamite Digital, iVerse, and Dark Horse Digital.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Taylor man planning Toy Show for charity in Toledo

A trio of toy collectors are planning a toy show that will benefit schools and other charities.
Taylor resident Norm Stachulski, along with Monroe County resident Kris Ilstrup and Toledo resident Toby Borer are putting on the July 11 show at Trilby Park in Toledo, with a portion of the proceeds set to be donate to Toledo area schools.
“I was on the Taylor School Board,” Stachulski said, “and I see the need to give back when we can.”
The show will be open at 9 a.m. for early bird sales and 10 a.m. for regular shoppers. Admission is $6 for early entry and $3 for normal admission with children 12 and under free.
Advertised as the “My Old Toys,” toys, comics and collectibles show, it is the first show the friends have put together, but if it is successful they will plan more shows in different cities.
“The one thing we are sure of is that whatever city we’re in we’ll be donating to local schools,” Stachulski said.
Ilstrup and Borer have known each other since high school, both met Stachulski through collecting on Instagram and have become good friends who frequently go toy hunting together.
“We travel all over the tri-state area,” Ilstrup said. “We see a lot of people from our area at the shows we go to, but there aren’t other shows in the general area. That’s what we’re hoping to fix.”
Borer added that shows in Bowling Green, Ohio, and in Monroe, Wayne and Washtenaw counties are on the horizon if the initial Toledo show goes over well.
“The sky's the limit,” he said. “We want to do several a year.”
Trilby Park is at 3125 Shawnee Street, Toledo Ohio.

If you go:
When: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 11.
Where: Trilby Park Shelter House, 3125 Shawnee Street. Toledo, Oh
Price: $6 early, $3 regular

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Midway Sports & Entertainment impresses first time visitor

Go-Karts? Check.
Bumper cars? Check.
Mini golf? Check.
And the list just goes on and on from there. I'm not sure that Midway Sports & Entertainment could offer more and still be what it is.
Photos: Customers enjoy Midway Sports & Entertainment
Batting cages and water balloon fights aside, there are still more activities I haven't mentioned. This little hidden gem slipped through the cracks as I've gotten to know the Downriver area, and I'm surprised because this was right up my alley (sorry no bowling).
I hadn't driven a Go-Kart in probably 15 years, and I might have been a bit tall for these, but from the second I stepped foot into one, instantly I was 4-years-old again and sitting next to my dad as he drove me around the track.
Heading over to the batting cages, I hadn't hit a ball in probably 20 years, and after stepping in to take my chops, I still haven't. However I had a lot of fun trying.

Next up, mini golf. They offer two different 18-hole courses, both of which are difficult but not so challenging as to frustrate the player. It was perfect.
Now on to the newly improved bumper cars, which were updated recently to include a sound system and easier controls for the riders. These were always a favorite of mine as a child, and were the highlight of my night out at.
The cars were comfortable and super easy to drive. What I especially enjoyed, they seem to be radio controlled as well. If there aren't enough drivers on the course the other cars still move around and give you extra targets to bump into.
There is also a climbing wall, water balloon fighting game and much more that I didn't get a chance to try.
They don't call me the 20-Something Manchild (My personal blog at for nothing, and this place brings the big kid in me right back out. (Though the 20-something part of that will soon go by the wayside as I decline into old age and turn the big 3-0 later this year.

Monday, May 11, 2015

James O’Barr talks growing up Downriver, new ‘Crow’ movie in advance of appearance at Motor City Comic Con

“The Crow” is an iconic comic book series.
The graphic novel compendium is the best selling independent black and white comic of all time, with more than 1.5 million units sold.
That’s common knowledge among comic book fans, and the wider pop culture purveyors of the world.
There have been four movies, with a fifth on the way, a television series, prose novels and tons of spin off comics.
What isn’t well know, much of the basis for the story, and some of the writing and art was completed Downriver.
Creator James O’Barr is often hailed as being from Detroit, but before he moved to the big city, he grew up in Taylor and later River Rouge.
First published in 1989 by Caliber Comics, the story for the original run was born out of personal anguish and never intended to be seen by others.
“It’s easy to be fearless when you don’t think anyone else will see it,” O’Barr said. “I had a personal loss and needed to find a way to deal with it that wasn’t self destructive. I decided to use the comics as a diary with no intentions of it ever being published.”
After sitting on the story for years, O’Barr decided to let the book be published by Gary Reed and his start-up company Caliber Comics.
At the time Reed was a comic shop owner and could assure the books would see shelf space in his stores at least.
“I figured it would be nice to see in book format,” O’Barr said. “Figured they were an independent publisher that would make a few thousand copies and that would be it.”
O’Barr called the book atypical for the general comic book audience.
“It’s not for a mass audience,” he said. “There’s no superheroes in it, it’s dark and broody, black and white. It took a while for it to find a comic audience, but it did well in record stores right away.
“It was amazing to go to a record store and see my comic and wonder how they even found out about it. The musicians latched onto it and it grew from there.”
From there, history was made.The book quickly gained popularity, and was being stocked in more than just Reed’s stores. It was in just about every comic shop in Michigan, and quickly spread to more record stores and other locations as well.
O’Barr got used to being a “rockstar” of sorts in the metro Detroit area, but didn’t realize how far the book had reached. Not long after the book came out he travelled to England and Germany, where he saw his book in stores across the pond as well.
“It was kind of surreal,” he said. “I was still centered in Detroit and didn’t think about having an impact anywhere else. I did resist the urge go in and say ‘hey I did that, that’s mine.’”
Eventually the book was translated into more than a dozen languages and sold worldwide.
Not long after the book started selling, Hollywood came calling.
“The ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle’ movie was about to be released and it was going to make a ton of money,” he said. “Companies started buying up the rights to all the comics they could. I never expected it to get made.”
Not only was the movie made, but it was both a box office and critical success. It later spawned three sequels and a television series. O’Barr only worked on the first movie.
“I thought we made the movie we set out to make,” he said. “After that I didn’t want to be involved.”
That changed recently though. I new movie is being produced, and he’s involved as much as he can be like he was on the original. Due to contract negotiations there aren’t many details he can talk about, but he assures it will be a good movie.
“It’s not a remake of the Brandon Lee film,” he said. “It’s going right back to the source material. Everything is going amazingly well on it.”
O’Barr, who moved to Texas several years ago will be returning to the Motor City for the second year in a row as he is a featured guest at the Motor City Comic Con.
The show opens Friday at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi.
The show is open all weekend.
Friday 12:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Saturday 10:30  a.m.  to  7:00  p.m. and Sunday, 10:30  a.m.  to  5:00  p.m.

Jean Michel Cousteau talks about invasive carp, diverting Great Lakes water

He was essentially raised underwater by his father Jacques Cousteau, and continues the same work today.
After a recent screening of his newest film “Ocean’s Secrets 3D” at the Henry Ford Museum’s IMAX theater, Jean Michel Cousteau took the time to meet with every person that attended the event.
PHOTOS: Jean Michel Cousteau at the Henry Ford
One of the topics he touched on during his time with the crowd was the invasion of the Asian Carp into the Great Lakes.
“As long as there is a way … to find food,” he said. “They’ll do it. It’s just like us, if you’re starving you’re going to go where you can feed yourself.”
He said that giving the species a new source of food would likely deter them from heading to the Great Lakes, provided it was easier to access than the food supply in the region.
“I think that’s what dictates them to move wherever they are,” he said.
Cousteau also spoke about the possibility of diverting Great Lakes water to other areas. He’s against it.
“I don’t think it needs to get to that,” he said. “Eighty percent of water we consume is wasted. Capture it and recycle it.”
The film will be playing at the theater at least through the end of the year.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

ComiqueCon, celebrating women in comics to debut in Dearborn

ComiqueCon is promising to be a celebration like every other, and like no other all at once.

It will be like thousands of other comic book conventions across the country in that it will be a huge celebration of the culture, it’s fans and creators.
It will be completely unique in that it is celebrating specifically the women in comics, the writers, artists, inkers and editors that create comics.
“We're thrilled to bring today's most talented ladies making comics together for this one-of-a-kind event. Women don't just read comics - they make excellent comics, too!” said ComiqueCon founder Chelsea Liddy. “I’ve been following geek culture for a long time. I couldn’t believe that there wasn’t already a convention like this. That shocked me that it hadn’t been done before.”
Liddy said she doesn’t want to focus on the negative aspect of online life, but the idea sprung out of “Gamer Gate,” late last fall. Gamergate was a sustained long term attack on several female video game creators. The attacks ranged from complaints about the quality of work to rape and death threats.
“Comics and gaming are so closely related,” she said. “ You see some of that negative stuff and you have to think about creating a space where we can be positive.”
The reasoning behind the convention, set for Nov. 7 at the Arab American National Museum, is to stop the relegation of women in comics that tends to happen at other conventions.
“Women are often on a ‘Women in Comics’ panel, but not always noticed otherwise,” Liddy said. “There is so much more that woman can talk about.”
After having the idea, Liddy went to the only comic shop --Green Brain Comics--  where she knew she’d be able to find help with her newfound task.
“If  Green Brain hadn’t been so supportive from the beginning,” she said, “this might not have happened.”
Co-owner of the store Katie Merritt knows what it’s like to be a woman in the industry. Having worked in and owned a store for more than 20 years, and keeping a close pulse on the community, her knowledge was key in getting ComiqueCon off the ground.
“When Chelsea came to us with the idea,” Merritt said, “I said ‘that sounds awesome.’ They came to us as consultants to support the show.”
Merritt along with her husband Dan, both Allen Park residents, have put on their own small press conventions in the past, serve on the committee for the Kids’ Read Comics event each year in Ann Arbor and also put on dozens of other events at the store each year.
“We have always been big proponents of making everyone feel welcome,” Katie said. “Comic books are just a medium to tell stories. No one says TV or a movie should be just for boys, or you can’t read this novel because of your gender.”
The show will be a one-day celebration, and has announced some top of the line talent for the inaugural show. One of the guests will be Dearborn native Mairghread Scott, who went into television production and also writes comics for Marvel and IDW. Scott was the first woman to author a Transformers comic last year.
Other top talent that has confirmed to be attending includes: Leila Abdelrazaq, graphic artist and author of Baddawi; Nancy Collins, author of Vampirella; Marguerite Dabaie, author of The Hookah Girl; Alex de Campi, author of Smoke/Ashes, Archie vs. Predator, Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman and No Mercy; Nicole Georges, author of Calling Dr. Laura; Mikki Kendall, co-author of Swords of Sorrow.
Many of the talent coming is working on the new comic “Sword of Sorrows,” which is a six issue mini series produced by all women teams. Issue one was written by Gail Simone, who was unable to attend the convention this year.
The first issue of that mini series has a custom cover put out by Green Brain with art by Michigan resident Dave Acosta.
“All of the profit from that book will be donated back to convention,” Katie Merritt said.
Other planned events include a costume contest, artist VIP reception, discussion panels and a screening of the documentary “She Makes Comics.”
In an effort to help with the festival’s initial startup costs, ComiqueCon recently launched a crowdfunding campaign on The campaign will run through June 6 and includes numerous sponsorship levels. Sponsors who donate at the $25 level are eligible to receive the limited edition variant of Swords of Sorrow No. 1.
Other incentives include admission to ComiqueCon 2015, limited edition ComiqueCon 2015 buttons, and admission to a private meet and greet VIP reception on Nov. 6 with ComiqueCon artists and writers. To participate in the crowdfunding campaign, visit
For more information on the convention, find the show at, on Facebook or on Twitter @ComiqueCon

A look back at @Freecomicbook day 2015

The first Saturday in May has become a comic lover’s dream. The annual celebration on Free Comic

Book Day has become a huge draw nationwide.
Several local comic shops across Downriver and Dearborn held huge celebrations to honor the day.
PHOTOS: Free Comic Book Day across Downriver, Dearborn
Crowds at Allen Park’s Big Ben’s Comix Oasis, Dearborn’s Green Brain Comics and Lincoln Park’s Quick Stop Comic Shop were as large as ever. Other area stores, Taylor’s The Pack Shack, Southgate’s Hero Time Comics, and Trenton’s Comic City also celebrated the day.
The goal of Free Comic Book Day is to promote the comic book medium to new customers young and old and celebrate independent comic book retailers and their stores. In addition to giving away books, many local comic book stores are making the day into an event with writers, artists, bands and other attractions at their shops.
Celebrations at Green Brain and Quick Stop were the first of their kind. Green Brain has moved to a new larger location since last year, and Quick Stop is a new store open from the owner’s of the former Wonderworld Comics which was in Taylor.
“Welcome to the first ever Free Comic Book Day at Quick Stop Comic Shop,” owner Dennis Barger bellowed to a crowd or about 100 people who were there hours after the store opened.
Barger said the crowd was the shortest it had been all day.
“We were wrapped around the building this morning before we opened,” he said.
Patrons were welcomed to the store through a new “fully functioning,” Tardis replica that replaced the store’s main entrance. It debuted for the celebration.
It was a big hit among the crowd.
At Green Brain the celebration was bigger than ever, with the parking lot filled with comic creators and artists. It was almost like a mini comic book convention.
“We’ve been busy all day,” co-owner Dan Merritt said. “I’m really happy with the turn out.”
At Big Ben’s they tried a new system of handing out tickets to avoid the up to four hour lines they’ve had in years past. It seemed to work as the store filled up, instead of having lines wrapping around the building like in the past.
Overall there there more than 100 titles available from the major comic book publishers, with more titles from the smaller and independent publishers also available.
“This was my first time out here,” Dearborn Heights resident Katy Harrison said while in line at Quick Stop. “I can’t believe they just give away books.”

Friday, May 1, 2015

Malta Comic Con returning in December

It only comes once a year. But when it does it Rocks! Good vibes, friendly atmosphere, colourful costumes, smiling folk and the whole of St. James Cavalier buzzing with creative energy. You’re right! We are indeed talking about the Malta Comic Convention; the event you’ve all been waiting for! We’re back to make more of your dreams come true. Wicked Comics are proud to announce that the 7th edition of the Malta Comic Con will be held on Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th December 2015 at St. James Cavalier in Valletta, the capital city of Malta. The impressive venue was originally a bastion (part of the fortifications of the City) constructed by the Knights Hospitallers which was later converted to a vibrant Art’s and Creativity Centre.
Way back in 2007 we dreamt of having a comic convention in Malta. So we held a small comic gathering to see if there were any more people who shared our dream. The amazing response we received confirmed that we were far from alone. So in 2009 we made this dream a reality and held the first comic convention on the Island. One we’ve been holding annually ever since. Many were the challenges we faced along the way, but thanks to the strong local and foreign support we are blessed with we continued to grow each year, improving on each passing show. So now we’re proud to say that the Malta Comic Convention is not just a viable platform for the multitude of talented creators that continue to exhibt each year, and a credible destination for comic symposium but also an entertaining event that brings joy to the lives of many. We would like to take this opportunity to thank all the many people who each year help us realize this dream and promise to deliver another 2 fun-filled, exciting and memorable days” said Chris Le Galle co-founder of Wicked Comics.

The intimate and friendly atmosphere prevailent at the Malta Comic Con ensures that our visitors can spend quality time with their favourite creators who are always happy to chat, sign, sketch and create commisioned artwork for their fans. As customary, we will once again provide a varied guest roster of professional writers and artists who have worked on a number of popular characters for all the major comic publishers as well as other who have been publishing quality independent books. With virtually no queing the Malta Comic Con provides the ideal platform for fan-creator interaction. Complementing our guests will be a number of up and coming creators from abroad as well as a plethora of talented local creators promoting their exciting work.
The official Malta Comic Con Cosplay competition and the Fat Spidey Roaming Cosplay Awards will be returning. In addition to the various skits performed by our fabulous cosplayers, Marianne Galea and her Fantasy Showgirls will also be performing themed dances at the theatre. We’re also working on providing more interactive and cosplay oriented events which we will reveal in due time. Professional photographers will be available on both days for everyone in attendance who wishes to have some quality pictures takens. So get started on those wonderful costumes!
The video game area will once again be buzzing with activity ranging from retro to currents gaming and the fan favourite competitions will also be returning to determine the best gamers in Malta. There will also be more table top gaming than there has ever been before. Along with a number of gaming clubs and exciting game developers, the popular war gaming organisation W.A.R.S will also be present running a variety of introductory table-top and role playing games. So both hardcore gamers and begginers can join the fun.

Free movies and animations will be running in the in house cinema for the duration of the show. Fans can also look forward to much more exciting and interactive activities such as quizes, sktech challenges, work shops, informative and entertaining talks, Q&As and discussion panels featuring a number of professional guests and moderated by leading pop culture journalists! Visitors can also feast their eyes on the majestic artwork of our guests comprised in the three official Malta Comic Con exhibitions we’ll be running during the show. To round things off nicely one of the Islands most popular comics retailer Pandora’s Box Collectables will be joining a number of other retailers in offering an assortment of comic related memorabilia. In other words there will be something fun for everyone!

Wicked Comics will also be offering a number of packages for fans wishing to travel to the Malta Comic Con from abroad, which include heavily discounted accommodation rates and local transport from hotel to convention centre. Similarly Wicked Comics have a number of packages tailored for foreign creators who wish to exhibit at the Malta Comic Con including heavily discounted tables.

Anyone wishing to know more about these packages, and local creators/retailers wishing to exhibit at the Malta Comic Con 2015 are kindly requested to email us for more details on

FCBD: Sonic the Hedgehog/Mega Man: Worlds Unite Prelude

"Worlds Unite: PRELUDE" - It’s TWO free comic books in ONE! Just in time for the start of the ALL-NEW epic Sonic the Hedgehog and Mega Man crossover event, "Worlds Unite," comes a primer issue exclusively for Free Comic Book Day! The road to "Unite" began in the history-making "Worlds Collide" storyline, continued in 2013's "DAWN OF X" storyline, and once again our heroes must meet—Mega Man's journey chronicled on one side, and Sonic the Hedgehog's on the other! This is the must-have primer for the biggest comic book event of 2015—as two video game icons must come together… or risk dying alone! Featuring art from both Sonic and Mega Man comic book fame!

Archie Comics Celebrates Free Comic Book Day 2015 With New Titles, Creator Appearances

This Saturday is Free Comic Book Day across North America and the world – a day where participating
comic shops give away comic books to anyone coming into their stores.

Archie Comics – a Gold Sponsor of the event – will have two offerings: FCBD DARK CIRCLE COMICSand FCBD SONIC THE HEDGEHOG/MEGA MAN WORLDS UNITE PRELUDE, giving readers a look into this year's critically acclaimed new superhero line and kicking things off for the biggest Archie Action crossover event ever!


THE BLACK HOOD! THE FOX! THE SHIELD! Get in on the ground floor of Dark Circle Comics and experience the cinematic and creator-driven reinventions of these iconic properties. Who is the new Shield? How did the Black Hood come to be? Can things get more unpredictable for The Fox? Learn the secrets of the Dark Circle universe from the creators themselves via sneak peeks at the new series, creator interviews and a first glance at the next Dark Circle series – all held together by an eye-popping cover from AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE artist Francesco Francavilla!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Age of Ultron cast to ring bell at NYSE Friday

Robert Downey Jr. and Jeremy Renner will be at the New York Stock Exchange Friday morning to
ring the bell on the morning that "Age of Ultron" officially opens.

Marvel Studios presents “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” the epic follow-up to the biggest Super Hero movie of all time. When Tony Stark tries to jumpstart a dormant peacekeeping program, things go awry and Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, including Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, The Incredible Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye, are put to the ultimate test as the fate of the planet hangs in the balance. As the villainous Ultron emerges, it is up to The Avengers to stop him from enacting his terrible plans, and soon uneasy alliances and unexpected action pave the way for an epic and unique global adventure.

Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron” stars Robert Downey Jr., who returns as Iron Man, along with Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Mark Ruffalo as Hulk and Chris Evans as Captain America. Together with Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow and Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, and with the additional support of Don Cheadle as James Rhodes/War Machine, Cobie Smulders as Agent Maria Hill, Stellan SkarsgĂ„rd as Erik
Selvig and Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, the team must reassemble to defeat James Spader as Ultron, a terrifying technological villain hell-bent on human extinction. Along the way, they confront two mysterious and powerful newcomers, Pietro Maximoff, played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and Wanda Maximoff, played by Elizabeth Olsen and meet an old friend in a new form when Paul Bettany becomes Vision.

Written and directed by Joss Whedon and produced by Kevin Feige, p.g.a., Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron” is based on the ever-popular Marvel comic book series “The Avengers,” first published in 1963. Get set for an action-packed thrill ride when The Avengers return in Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron” on May 1, 2015.

Celebrate 50 Years of S.H.I.E.L.D. With Marvel Comics in 2015

 Celebrate half a century of Marvel’s premier intelligence agency in 2015 as we proudly commemorate
theS.H.I.E.L.D. 50th Anniversary! When Stan Lee and Jack Kirby first introduced S.H.I.E.L.D. in the pages of 1965’s Strange Tales #135, boldly proclaiming it “The Greatest Action-Thriller of All Time!” – the landscape of the Marvel Universe would be changed forever. Now, half a century later, S.H.I.E.L.D. has made the jump beyond the comic page – bringing us some of the most iconic stories and memorable characters in all of popular culture. Join us as we celebrate this monumental legacy with exciting new projects throughout 2015!

First, this August, S.H.I.E.L.D. #9 answers a question half a century in the making. A mystery that lies at the heart of the origins of S.H.I.E.L.D. – who is the “Man Called D.E.A.T.H.”?! Written by Mark Waid with art by Lee Ferguson – this special, oversized anniversary issue features a never before published S.H.I.E.L.D. sequence penciled by Jack Kirby and inked by Jim Steranko! Plus – Al Ewing brings you a second story featuring the return of Dum Dum Dugan and the birth of the new Howling Commandos! Along with the very first S.H.I.E.L.D. story from 1965 and the original sequence that inspired S.H.I.E.L.D.’s creation – this is not one to miss!
Then in September – find out what S.H.I.E.L.D. means to the Marvel Universe with the S.H.I.E.L.D. 50th Anniversary Specials. Five weekly one shots about the men and women who stand on the front lines, shoulder to shoulder, ready to take on Hydra, A.I.M. and the worst the Marvel Universe has to offer! From some of the best and brightest talent in the comic industry comes action packed new specials starring Nick Fury, Agent Melinda May, Mockingbird, Quake and Agent Peggy Carter! Featuring writers David Walker, Jody Houser, Chelsea Cain, Kathryn Immonen, Matt Rosenberg and Patrick Kindlon – prepare to see S.H.I.E.L.D. in a completely new way!

Plus don’t miss these other exciting projects later this year celebrating the legacy of S.H.I.E.L.D.! This June, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.comes to your favorite Marvel Comics for The Art of Evolution Variants. Featuring stunning artwork commemorating episodes from the show’s second season, these gorgeous pieces covers will be coming to these twelve titles:
·         Age of Ultron vs. Marvel Zombies #1
·         Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #1
·         Armor Wars #1
·         Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps #1
·         Civil War #1
·         Guardians of Knowhere #1
·         Hail Hydra #1
·         S.H.I.E.L.D. #7
·         Siege #1
·         Squadron Sinister #1
·         Thors #1
·         Weridworld #1

Then, experience the original groundbreaking espionage adventures as Marvel proudly presents S.H.I.E.L.D. by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby: The Complete Collection TPB and S.H.I.E.L.D.: The Complete Collection Omnibus. You’ve been granted Priority A-1 Clearance, so get ready to dive into the world of S.H.I.E.L.D. with these two can’t miss collections in September!
SOURCE: Marvel Comics.