During Comic-Con International in San Diego last month, I covered TheOneRing.net’s “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” panel for Spinoff Online!

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“TheOneRing.net Brings “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” to Comic-Con” — Click to read full article

“With Peter Jackson absent from Comic-Con International in San Diego to finish production on The Hobbit trilogy, the duty of bringing Middle-Earth to Comic-Con fell to the staff of the TheOneRing.net. Consisting of TheOneRing personalities Alex and Kellie Rice, Josh Rubinstein and Rebecca Perry, with Cliff Broadway and Cathy Udovch driving most of the dialog, the panelists dug deep into the The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, the second film of The Hobbit trilogy.

Releasing December 13 with limited information currently available from which to draw theories and deduce conclusions, the panelists energetically showed off their expertise of Tolkien lore, analyzing known sequences adapted from the novel. The most fun came when the panelists cut loose theorizing on new scenes and relationships from Smaug, including a larger role for the wizard Radagast, the inclusion of new elf character Tauriel, talking giant spiders, a Jackson-created side story for Gandalf, elven goddess Galadriel seeing combat action and Bilbo’s impending encounter with Smaug the dragon, voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch.

Breaking down the structure of Smaug and its parallel with the chronology of J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel, the panel took the crowd through the film’s outline, beginning with Bilbo Baggins and his dwarven allies meeting the giant bear-man Beorn. This encounter precedes The Company venturing into the dangers of Mirkwood, wherein lie the deadly spiders teased in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

“I want to see the ponies and sheep come out and do that catering gig at Beorn’s place,” Broadway commented with enthusiasm, referencing the anthropomorphic servants of the giant bear-man. A still shot of Beorn’s house was shown, as the giant animal played by Mikael Persbrandt towered over the small companions.”

At Comic-Con International in San Diego, I covered IDW Publishing’s “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” panel for CBR!

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SDCC: Turtle Power Energizes TMNT” — Click to read entire article

“At Comic-Con International in San Diego, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles co-creator Kevin Eastman took the spotlight during IDW Publishing’s Turtles panel, alongside ongoing series writer Tom Waltz, “Secret History of the Foot Clan” co-writer Erik Burnham and editor Bobby Curnow.

The big announcement was the latest installment of the “TMNT Villains Micro-Series” line featuring the Turtles’ arch-nemesis, The Shredder, written by Paul Allor and featuring art from the artist who launched IDW’s TMNT revival, Dan Duncan. Then, following the fan-favorite “City Fall” storyline in the ongoing TMNT title, “Northampton” will launch, with art by “Glory” artist Ross Campbell.

Tom Waltz opened the day’s Turtles discussion, touching on how the events of the ongoing series have led to the surprising and dramatic transpirings of “City Fall,” where Leonardo has been seduced by Shredder and the Foot Clan. “We spent a lot of time bulking the backstory of the characters, which is a distant separation from past backstories of different Turtles iterations — we fit certain parts in,” Waltz said. “The family dynamic in our series is different, especially regarding conflicts between the brothers. We had Leo and Donnie bumping heads, where in the past it was Leo and Raph. It had us thinking about Leo more and his place in the pantheon. He’s the Cyclops of the team — the straight and narrow, by the rules kind of guy, so we thought, lets shake that up a bit and manipulate his psyche and — forgive me for saying this — bring him over to the dark side.

“Leo and his demeanor is something Shredder in the modern world is attuned with and it appeals to him,” Waltz continued. “In being resurrected from Feudal Japan, Shredder has an old school attitude and he isn’t too keen on Karai. She’s female and he does not believe she’s able to lead, even though she’s capable of doing so — and Karai knows that. So bringing Leo into the fold changes things in not only what he’s doing in the mythos, but in adding conflict — family conflict. We have two families at war with one piece, Leonardo, being tugged back and forth.””

Covered the “Mega Man” and “Sonic the Hedgehog” Archie Comics panel at San Diego Comic-Con International last weekend, where the creative teams for both universes talked details on what’s coming next following the “Worlds Collide” crossover!

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“SDCC: Flynn, Kaminski Power Up ‘Sonic’ & ‘Mega Man’ After ‘Worlds Collide'” — Click to read entire article

“Archie Comics’ Sonic the Hedgehog and Mega Man panel kicked off in style at Comic-Con International in San DIegowith an 8-bit beat soundtrack playing under a trailer of things to come in the wake of the current “Worlds Collide” crossover event.

“I’ve been working on this story for over a year now, and I still get excited watching that trailer,” said Paul Kaminski panel host and Editor of both “Sonic the Hedgehog” and “Mega Man.” Other panelists included “Sonic,” “Sonic Universe” and “Mega Man” writer Ian Flynn, Archie Comics President Mike Pellerito and artists Ryan Jampole, Jon Gray and Evan Stanley. The main topic of discussion was, of course, the conclusion of “Worlds Collide” and what happens to all three titles in the event’s fallout.

“About three months before Archie got the Mega Man license, I thought a Sonic/Mega Man crossover would never happen,” Flynn said. “But I plotted one out anyway because I thought it’d be fun. Then, Capcom said they wanted to do a crossover with Sonic.”

“So the crossover’s great, but lets talk about the aftermath beginning this fall,” Kaminski said, passing the buck to new “Sonic the Hedgehog” artist beginning with issue #252, Evan Stanley.”

At San Diego Comic-Con International, I covered Nickelodeon’s “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” panel, complete with character design reveals for Season 2 and included every major voice actor from the show — it was awesome!

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“SDCC: Nickelodeon’s “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” Team Parties with Fans” — Click to read full article

“If there’s one thing fans can accuse Nickelodeon’s “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” cast and crew of, it’s having a party even when there’s no pizza. The energetic and lively panel hosted by Executive Producer Peter Hastings played to a packed house at Comic-Con International in San Diego and included EP Ciro Nieli, Story Editor Brandon Auman and the voices of Raphael (Sean Astin), Donatello (Rob Paulsen, who voiced Raphael in the 1980s “Turtles” cartoon), Michelangelo (Greg Cipes), April O’Neil (Mae Whitman) and The Shredder (Kevin Michael Richardson).

“‘Ninja Turtles’ has only been on the air for ten months now, and it’s already become a global phenomenon — so thank you!” Hastings declared. With Season One wrapping in August, the “Ninja Turtles” team has big plans for Season Two, and the panel had fans mesmerized with teaser footage and character reveals throughout.

“We’re launching into Season Two with new characters and places to go,” Hastings continued. “Everybody was like, ‘This show’s gonna suck! I hate it! They’re messing with my childhood!’ But the response has been so great.”

Commenting on Roseanne Barr voicing Prime Kraang, Hastings said, “We just thought who’s the scariest person we can get?”

“People often ask what drew me to the part of Raphael. Nothing did. It’s Raph!” Astin said. “When Cipes is voicing Michelangelo, we’re laughing so hard it costs the studio money.”

“I’m just so excited voicing Mikey,” Cipes said in his normal speaking voice — which sounds exactly like his Turtle character. “Growing up as a kid watching the 80s cartoon, he’s made me who I am today. He got me into martial arts, skateboarding, meditating, eating pizza.””

In her first official interview ever, Siya Oum spoke with me about her creator-owned series with Aspen Comics, “Lola XOXO.”

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“SDCC: Siay Oum Wanders the Wasteland in Aspen’s ‘Lola XOXO'” — Click to read entire article

“Siya Oum has been working in comics for the past decade coloring covers and interiors for Aspen Comics. Now she makes her creator-owned debut with Aspen’s “Lola XOXO” as both writer and artist, announced at Comic-Con International: San Diego and slated for release in 2014.

“Lola” stars a merchant woman surviving in the ruins of a great war, as she travels from location to location, bartering goods and supplies essential for survival. With a small hand-held arsenal at her disposal, Lola tries to break free from her past and look towards a brighter future.

Oum spoke with CBR News about “Lola XOXO,” revealing more details on the newly announced series and tells her story of how “Lola” came to become a reality at Aspen.

CBR News: Siya, before jumping into “Lola XOXO,” can you tell us a little about yourself, how you broke into the comics scene and ended up doing steady work with Aspen?

Siya Oum: It started about thirteen years ago when Top Cow Productions was exhibiting in Seattle, WA for a convention. I brought my sample pages with me and David Wohl was kind enough to look at my work, giving me great constructive criticism. I started to keep in touch with David years later, and he showed my work to Vince Hernandez at Aspen. My skills did not quite develop enough yet for pencils, but I was coloring my work digitally since college, so they started me off on color assists, then covers. Of course, I had to keep working at my art on the side, doing other projects for whatever I could get my hands on.

Not much is out there on “Lola” aside from the image released in a brief press release — what can you tell us about the story and who she is as a person?

“Lola XOXO” takes place thirteen years after a huge war. The majority of the United States has become a large wasteland of mercenaries, raiders, merchants and people barely getting by with their day to day lives. Lola was seven years old when she was separated from her parents right before the conflict began.The story is really about her struggle to adapt in this new world and separate herself from her past.”

“Aspen Comics exclusively revealed to CBR News covers for four new titles releasing in 2014, including Frank Mastromauro, Vince Hernandez & Mike DeBalfo’s “#Cosplay,” Mastromauro & Marco Lorenzana’s “Awaken Skies,” Hernandez & Giuseppe Cafaro’s “Fathom: Kiani” and “Legend of the Shadow Clan” vol. 2 by David Wohl, Brad Foxhoven & Cory Smith.”

“SDCC EXCLUSIVE: Aspen Announces “Awaken Skies,” “#Cosplay” & More” — Click to read entire article

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I’ve recently begun working as an Assistant Editor at ComicBookResources.com, but even more fun — I’m now a contributing writer, too. Huzzah! Mission accomplished! Super pumped for this gig.

Here are intros to my articles with CBR thus far, mostly being coverage of Comic-Con International in San Diego last month and a couple reviews. Click through to the full articles if they interest you.

“Black Kiss II” #1 Review — Click to read entire article

“Black Kiss” couldn’t be any more mature and still considered mainstream — it’s more layered than “Tarot,” but far from Manara. Gratuitously lubing crime noir with erotica and a spurt of horror, “Black Kiss” is Howard Chaykin’s definitive mark on all three genres.

The original “Black Kiss” takes violence to the extreme with a secret undertone frequently implied but never confirmed. It’s great stuff — stuff you should keep in-between your mattress so unsuspecting eyes don’t find it. “Black Kiss II” has a lot to live up to, and while the original is not required reading for newcomers, this issue gives off strong prequel vibes, taking place roughly 70 years before the original.

RetroSTUFFED: Valiant’s 1992 “Harbinger” #0-7 — Click to read entire article

In 1992, Valiant promised a dramatically different alternative to Marvel and DC’s superhero lines. The company aimed to offer readers quality superhero comics sporting top-tier talent with an indie edge. “Harbinger” was one of the company’s earliest releases, and in a sentence, it was a street-level superhero series with a splash of sci-fi, populated by teens who have supernatural abilities and a man who wishes to control them.

In the opening storyline, aptly titled “The Beginning,” writer Jim Shooter and penciller David Lapham began their tale in the just-passed year of 1991. Kids with superior abilities, dubbed “Harbingers,” are encouraged to train under the wing of Toyo Harada at his Harbinger Foundation to learn how to control their powers. A shadier version of the X-Men’s Professor Xavier, Harada has discovered a particular teen with a superior telepathic skill set: Peter Stanchek.

CCI: The Terry Moore Panel — Click to read entire article

Artist and writer Terry Moore, known for his strong female protagonists and bringing women readers into comics, spoke on his properties with a receptive crowd during a panel at Comic Con International in San Diego. Moore, whose original work is published through his own company, Abstract Studios, touched on the future of his currently ongoing title”Rachel Rising,” his last project “Echo,” the 20th anniversary of the Eisner Award winning series, “Strangers in Paradise,”the meaning of life and where he stands in the Creationist vs Evolutionist debate.

Moore opened with a touch of humor before diving into his horror title “Rachel Rising,” “We’re here to talk about my books — ‘Twilight,’ ‘Twilight Part 2,’ ‘After Twilight’ and ‘What to Do After The Next Twilight.’ Surprise! I’m doing a horror series.”

CCI: The Chilling Horror Comics History of the 1950s — Click to read entire article

“The Chilling Archives of Horror Comics ‘Zombies'” panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego came on the final day of the event, appropriately scheduled after the CCAS Sunday Devotional and Christian Comics panel in Room 32AB. Focusing on pre-Comics Code 1950s horror comics, the panel was led by Eisner Award-winning comics historian and co-editor of Yoe Books, Craig Yoe, and Steve “Karswell” Banes, host of TheHorrorsOfItAll.comvintage comics blog, which to date has over 1,500 horror shorts posted.

IDW Publishing and Yoe Books recently released “Zombies,” a hardcover collection of 1950s horror comics hand picked by Yoe and Banes. The book is already sold out on the distributor level, and is the duo’s third horror collection through IDW, including “Bob Powell’s Terror” and “Dick Briefer’s Frankenstein.”

CCI: Dave McKean on Dawkins, Christ and “The Magic of Reality” — Click to read entire article

In front of a packed crowd during his panel titled “My Two Years with Dawkins, Christ and a Small Crab Called Eric” atComic-Con International in San Diego, artist, writer and indie filmmaker Dave McKean recounted two recent life events on radically opposite ends of the philosophical spectrum: an all-ages book he illustrated with scientist and Atheism proponent Richard Dawkins called “The Magic of Reality,” and a film he shot starring Michael Sheen in Port Talbot, Wales called “The Gospel of Us,” a modern day interpretation of “The Passion” story chronicling Jesus Christ’s final days of life on Earth.

McKean is a man who is all about the experience. “I’m not cut out for this [business], I don’t have skin thick enough,” McKean said in his British accent. “I make hopelessly uncommercial decisions, I’m terrible at that. But my thought is — if there’s something personal for me to get out of the experience, I can do it.

CCI: Valiant Joins ValiantFans.com Panel, Reveals Upcoming Programs — Click to read entire article

Reminiscent of Valiant Entertainment’s status in the comic market for over a decade, theValiantFans.com: The Unofficial “Summer of Valiant” panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego was tucked away in the back corner of the Convention Center and played to a small, but enthusiastic crowd, and after the panel had ended, Valiant CCO Dinesh Shamdasani gave CBR exclusive first word on the return of the popular Gold Logo Program.

Brian Wells of Valiantfans.com hosted the fan-run panel for the first time since 2007 — only this year Valiant has a line-up of titles currently being published. “X-O Manowar,” “Harbinger,” the newly released “Bloodshot” and “Archer & Armstrong” in August complete what has been dubbed “The Summer of Valiant.”

CCI: Bill Willingham’s “Fables” Panel — Click to read entire article

A star-studded team of creators joined writer and creator Bill Willingham for the “Fables” spotlight panel celebrating Vertigo Comics’ long running fairytale series at Comic-Con International in San Diego. Editor Shelly Bond, artists Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, Andy Lanning, Andrew Pepoy, letterer Todd Klein, colorist Lee Loughridge and writers Lauren Beukes and Sean E. Williams were present. Artist Shawn McManus was scheduled to attend but could not make it. As the panel began, Willingham made a surprise announcement, much to the dismay of the jam packed audience: “This will be my last San Diego show for awhile. Only because there are so many good shows now and I had to turn down others to do this and it’s time to give others a shot. We need to mix it up a little bit.”

But that announcement wasn’t the only surprise in store for the crowd, as Willingham unveiled another convention-related piece of information. “We’re going to have a nearly-all ‘Fables’ dedicated con called Fabletown and Beyond — it’s ‘Fables’ and books like ‘Fables.'”

CCI: Ben Edlund Panel — Click to read entire article

To kick off his spotlight panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego, “The Tick” creator and “Supernatural”executive producer/writer, Ben Edlund, was granted a 2012 Ink Pot Award — Comic-Con’s achievement award given for excellence overall since 1974.

Nerdist Writer’s Panel host and “The Thrilling Adventure Hour” co-creator Ben Blacker served as moderator for Edlund’s spotlight panel, also joined by actor Shadoe Stevens — who often interjected oddball questions with his deep, booming voice. Surprising the crowd halfway through the discussion with his witty bass was musician and voice actor Doc Hammer, and “The Venture Bros.”creator, Jackson Publick. The group had the appearance of easy going surfers with their long, wavy hair, cool sunglasses and hip hats.

CCI: Oni Press RevolutiONIzes Comics Panel — Click to read entire article

The RevolutiONIze Comics panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego was hosted by Oni Presseditor-in-chief, James Lucas Jones, and played to a small crowd of around a dozen when it commenced but filled out over time. The panelists, some of whom arrived late, included a lineup of the company’s hottest up and coming creators: Brahm Revel of “Guerillas,” Matt Dembicki of “XOC,” Scott C. of “Double Fine Action Comics,” Rich Stevens of “Diesel Sweeties” and Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurttthe writer/artist team on the supernatural-western hit,”The Sixth Gun.”

Feeling out the room, Jones asked the crowd what their favorite part of Comic-Con has been so far, to which Stevens set the tone for his words to come, saying, “The giant Power Ranger statue. And his giant package. I got a picture.”

CCI: World Building With Archaia Entertainment — Click to read entire article

Archaia Entertainment’s “How To Tell A Better Story Through World Building” panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego was not to be missed by up and coming creators seeking to produce their own original stories. Hosted by Archaia Editor-in-Chief,Stephen Christy, the panel featured three experts on the subject of world building: “Mouse Guard’s” David Petersen, “Rust” creator, Royden Lepp, and “Cursed Pirate Girl’s” Jeremy Bastian. The three creators shared their intricate thoughts on what went into creating their unique, rich worlds to a standing room only crowd.

Christy began by citing key elements which go into successful world building and the implementation of those ideas on the printed page: Characters and costumes, culture, history, language and colloquialisms, and location and architecture. Christy said the process is almost theatrical in nature — what goes into making a great world in the sequential format are all elements representative in the best stage productions throughout history.

I’ll post more as they go live. Thanks for checking out my stuff!