Tag Archives: Brian Clevinger

Around the Web April 11, 2014

In a rather surprising announcement yesterday, Comixology announced that they are becoming a subsidiary of Amazon. The digital comics outlet has made quite the name for itself the last few years, and even has the distinction of being the highest grossing non-game app in the iTunes store. It’s currently unclear what this acquisition will ultimately mean for users, but details will likely be coming soon.


While I’m a fan of both companies, I do get concerned when too many things that I enjoy get clustered under one company. There is always a risk of the market being run by edict instead of by competition to be the best service.

Over the last couple decades there has been a consistent push to blame violent video games for the various violent events that occur in real life, such as the Washington Navy Yard and Sandy Hook shootings.  While events such as these are tragedies to be certain, it is wholly incorrect to blame video games for the actions of these deranged individuals. In a recent article by the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund  two more studies to the existing mountain of evidence to support the fact that violent video games do not increase violent tendencies in individuals.


In the end, the only “evidence” to support the idea that video games cause violence, is anecdotal, which is, in fact, not evidence of any sort.

There has been some speculation lately about the fate of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and whether or not the show will get a second season. I think it’s safe to say that the show hasn’t been performing quite as well either ABC or Marvel would like, but that is not to say that the show isn’t performing. It has the highest ratings of any ABC show that night, it is not too far below the network’s average, and to be fair, they’re directly competing with N.C.I.S. which is one of the highest rated shows on TV right now. In all likelihood we will get at least one more season out of the show and if the ratings can turn around, maybe more.

agents of shield

Hopefully the end of the season will gain some last minute momentum, thanks in part to its tie-in with Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Webcomics are a wonderful thing. Personally, I start off my day by reading several rather enjoyable ones. The only real problem is that sometimes it’s hard to keep up with them, especially the ones that come out daily. For those of you who have this issue, here’s a list of 17 webcomics that have wrapped up their runs and are available for you to read at your leisure. Among them is Starslip, which is one of my personal favorites, and 8-Bit Theater by Atomic Robo’s Brian Clevinger.




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VA Comicon: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

banner_VAconThis past weekend was one of my local comic shows, the VA Comicon. While very different than events like New York Comic Con, these small, local shows are actually some of the most important in the comic industry. They allow fans of all kinds to get together, buy and sell comics and other geek paraphernalia, but more importantly they allow geeks to meet and socialize while not requiring they shell out $85 for a weekend pass. Unfortunately these small events also have some considerable drawbacks. So without further ado, Therefore I Geek presents The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of the VA Comicon.

The Good

It had been about four years since I’d made the relatively short trip from Hampton Roads to Richmond for a VA Comicon, but this year I decided to do it.  Much like when I last attended, there was a big name—Rob Liefeld—intended to draw people in.  Last time I jump on the chance to get autographs from Chris Claremont, Michael Golden, and Larry Hama, but they were nowhere near the draw that Liefeld is.

Rob Liefeld, a.k.a He Who Shall Not Be Named.

Rob Liefeld, a.k.a He Who Shall Not Be Named.

It was so great to see that this local convention has grown so much in the past few years. The show has grown so much in fact that they had to move venues. The location, at the Richmond International Raceway, was a plain, but clean building that allowed for a rather spacious convention experience.

In addition to have more people in attendance, the number and quality of exhibitors has improved.  In addition to Liefeld, Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener of Atomic Robo were present. It was nice to see these guys again, but at a smaller show after the craziness of NYCC. There were also several booths selling all kinds of interesting stuff. Check out the end of the post for links to my favorites.

The Bad

Local shows like this are a great way for fans to who don’t have the opportunity to go to large cons to get out and have at least some of the experience. That having been said, a fair number of these people are lacking in convention etiquette. For starters, on more than one occasion I was accosted by the smell of someone who hadn’t showered recently. Unlike many small shows, this one was blessed with a spacious hall and therefore I was not pressed up against people.  If I can smell someone from a couple feet away, they have a body odor problem. There were also several times where people would essentially block the entire aisle for no apparent reason. In larger conventions I see this as almost unavoidable given the sheer number of people who are in the space, but here more than once people could have simply stepped two feet to the right or left and made space for people to pass.

The Ugly

The convention layout had some incredible flaws. In my mind, the most egregious of these was how panels were addressed. Basically they had a couple sets of metal bleachers were set up in the middle of the room and the person conducting the panel sat or stood in front of them and tried to talk over the crowd milling around booths behind them. This is no way to attract people to either attend said panels or host them. Panels can be one of the most memorable things about a con and these were severally bungled. What I have seen at other conventions that don’t have separate rooms available for panels, is having a small area segregated off with curtains and a small sound system present so that panel-goers aren’t stuck in the middle of the con and the speaker can be heard. Panel isolation doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but it makes a difference.

The red circles indicate areas where panels should not be located.

The red circles indicate areas where panels should not be located.

A bit of line management would also be helpful. Rob Liefeld’s line ran diagonally across nearly the entire 36,000 square foot room. This meant it had to cross the aisle twice and cut through the middle of the con floor (also right past the panel area) and behind all of the exhibitors booths. I made about four passes around the con floor and each time I passed the line, the single person running it was trying to figure out if someone was or was not in line and where the line actually was. A slightly better floor layout and a couple of extra volunteers and this could have gone much more smoothly.


This wrap up may seem a bit negative, but I had a really good afternoon. VA Comic Con, don’t get down on yourselves, you did a great job. I’m really pleased to see how much things have grown in just the last few years while I’ve been absent. I’m looking forward to the next convention.

Don’t forget to check out the links!

Altruistic – Wood products with a geek flavor

Pixel Who – Doctor Who Pixel Art

Super Sox Shop – Handmade Sox, Swords, Stuffies, and Sacks

Desktop Gremlins – Paper Craft Books

Geek Boy Press – Geek Apparel

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Filed under Andrew Hales, Events

Being Wrong Never Felt So Good

Now, I don’t know about you, but I love being right.  I love being the person who has the correct answer; the one who picks winners.  (I still can’t figure out sports though, I’ve gotten every World Cup Final wrong.)  Even when it comes to comics I love to be the person who knows what plotline will work, which author will do a great job on what books, and even which books will succeed.  Having said that, I have never before been so happy to be completely and utterly wrong.

Back in 2007, as a comic book rookie, I was wandering through poorly lit aisles full of sweating, questionable smelling geeks at a Big Apple Con when I came across a booth manned by a creator proudly selling his new book.  I stopped for a minute to look at what he had to offer.  The writer was so excited that energy radiated from him as he talked about his creation.  He told me with great enthusiasm that his first couple issues had almost sold out and he was getting ready for another printing.  The book looked all right, but I wasn’t particularly impressed and didn’t think it would go very far.  As I walked away I filed the name of the book in the back of my mind along with other useless knowledge that’s stored away, waiting for the right moment to whip it out and show off my vast knowledge.  That creator was Brian Clevinger and the book was Atomic Robo.


Flash forward several years to a moment in one of my local comic book shops as I happened across several issues of Atomic Robo.  Like a good little brainiac, I recalled the info I had stored away for just such an occasion, and investigated to find out what was going on with this book I had written off so readily.  As it turned out, not only had the book survived, it had excelled, earning a highly coveted Eisner nomination in 2008. While not a mainstream book, Atomic Robo had managed to carve out a considerable fan following.

I wasn’t quite ready to admit I was wrong, so I waited a few more months, but curiosity finally got the better of me, and I decided to check it out.  Now I wish I had read this sooner.  Atomic Robo feels like a cross between the humor, adventure, and energy of Indiana Jones and the simple art style of Hellboy.

The first volume, Atomic Robo and the Fighting Scientists of Tesladyne is one of the funniest books I’ve read in a very long time.  Throughout the book there is a wonderful sense of adventure.  The stories in this first volume loosely follow the same plot line, following Robo, a sentient robot built by Nicola Tesla, and several adventurer scientists from Tesladyne Industries as they combat giant ants, mobile pyramids with robot mummies, and other things far too weird for the US government to handle.  These stories provide a nice introduction to the world and main character.  Along the way, the story arc occasionally takes humorous side roads into adventures with mobile pyramids and ancient death rays.  My favorite story is the stand alone tale of how Robo receives a letter from the grandchild of one of his former WWII buddies who had died.  It is a touching story about how an immortal robot deals with outliving his friends.  What could otherwise be a tricky subject is told with grace and skill.  Then the story just moves on, as it should.  The book covers the first 6 issues of Atomic Robo and issues 1, 5 and 6 introduce a potential reoccurring villain in the amusingly stereotypical Nazi super-scientist Helsingard while issues 3 and 4 follow Robo to Egypt and a fabulous flashback to Robo’s “manned” mission to Mars.

Each story is complimented superbly by the art, which is wonderfully simple and uses a vivid color pallet, reminiscent of Mignola’s Hellboy issues.  Often, simple art styles run the risk of a lack of expression or emotion, but that is not the case with Scott Wegener’s art.  Despite lacking most human facial features, Robo is able to convey a full range of emotions, which is a serious credit to Wegener.

My only complaint with Atomic Robo and the Fighting Scientists of Tesladyne is that some of the action sequences were a little vague, sometimes making the progression from one panel to the next unclear.  This is such a minor issue that it does not take away from the overall enjoyment of the book.

So far Atomic Robo has completely surprised me in the best way possible, and I have to give it four and a half out of five stars.  The first volume was funny and adventurous, and with 6 more volumes published so far, I cannot wait to jump back into this world and see what is in store for Robo and the gang at Tesladyne.


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Filed under Andrew Hales, Comic Reviews, Comics