Amazing Arizona Comic Con 2014 took place at the Phoenix Convention Center last weekend, January 24-26. I represented BOOM! Studios at our booth, along with writers Paul Jenkins (“Deathmatch,” “Inhumans”) & Eric M. Esquivel (“Bravest Warriors,” “Loki: Ragnarok and Roll”) and artists Wook-Jin Hunter Clark (“Adventure Time: Flip Side,” “Megagogo”) & Missy Pena (“Bravest Warriors”), plus BOOM!’s Marketing Assistant, Stephanie Hocutt. They’re all awesome people! Below are some memories from throughout the weekend.

This weekend was the 5th annual Long Beach Comic & Horror Con at the Long Beach Convention Center in California. It was a mellow show with a consistent stream of excited fans who were interested in the BOOM! Studios and Archaia line-up, and indie stuff in general. Below is a small gallery of my favorite photos of the show, taken from behind the BOOM! booth!

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.””

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.””

Based on the email conversation I had with him regarding his “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Villains Micro-Series: Alopex” one-shot, writer Brian Lynch is very much a TMNT fan!

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“Brian Lynch Hunts the TMNT with Alopex” — Click to read full article

“Brian Lynch spoke with CBR News about the origin of Alopex and what it was like to find himself working with TMNT co-creator Kevin Eastman on designing the character. We also discuss how the “Alopex” one-shot ties-in with the current TMNT “City Fall” storyline and venture beyond the TMNT universe to touch on his other projects, including his “Despicable Me” prequel, “Minions,” and hope to return to the Buffyverse for a new “Spike” story.

CBR News: You introduced Alopex in the “Raphael” one-shot — was she a character you initially pitched to IDW? Can you talk about how she come to be?

Brian Lynch: She was a character I pitched to IDW, yessir. Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird’s original “Raphael” one-shot was the first appearance of Casey Jones. Casey burst onto the scene fighting with Raph, but then quickly became an ally. I thought it would be fun to reverse that storyline — we introduced Alopex as a potential ally, and then have Raph deduce that she’s the enemy.

Alopex was to be blindfolded and taken to the Turtles’ home, but she could still find her way back because of her abilities. For this plan to work, we needed an animal with an incredible sense of smell. I checked out this new site called “wikipedia” (you should go look, it’s amazing!) and learned foxes have insane senses of smell. The white arctic fox lent itself to two visuals we liked: a pristine white fox in the middle of grimy New York — that seemed cool — and if she got blood on her paws, it would really pop and stand out.

Alopex is an arctic fox that was mutated and trained by Shredder — everything she is, is because of him. She’s one of his most loyal soldiers. The humans in the Foot don’t know what to make of her — they’re a bit weirded out by her, but she doesn’t care. As long as Shredder is okay with her, she’s happy.

Her personality, her powers, her name — that was all in the original pitch. Bobby Curnow helped flesh out the story details. The brilliant Kevin Eastman came in and designed her, coming up with the idea of war paint on her face and the shark’s tooth, among other things. Then Franco Urru brought her to life so beautifully when he illustrated the issue. That first issue was a fun process. Alopex had an easy birth.”

With San Diego Comic-Con commencing this week, TJ Dietsch and I broke down our top must-have exclusives available at the show! Below are a couple highlights, but click the link to see the master list.

“TOYING AROUND: The 2013 Comic-Con International Wish List” — Click here to read entire article

“TJ Dietsch and CBR Assistant Editor Andy Liegl decided to run down the coolest Comic-Con International merchandise exclusives. These are the pieces we’re waiting in line to spend our hard earned cash on, including Transformers and TMNT figures, Pop! Vinyls, a Deadpool Corps collectors set, a Star Wars Black Series Boba Fett figure, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers pieces, “Iron Man 3″ MiniMates and lots more.”

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TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES | At last year’s show, Nickelodeon had a killer exclusive TMNT Leonardo action figure and this year they present his arch-nemesis, The Shredder. The Hollywood Reporterrevealed the figure last weekend, which comes with a removable mask in all its bladed glory. Expect this one to go fast — Leo didn’t last very long.

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MIGHTY MORPHIN’ POWER RANGERS | What’s old is new again as the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers are storming the market place lately with new merchandise. Check out these exclusive character stands for Bluefin Tamashii Nations’ upcoming Red and Green Ranger S.H. Figuarts toys, which go on sale later this year. The 3-stand pack also includes a mystery piece for an as-yet unrevealed character from the MMPR line. Then over at Bandai, they’re offering a special edition Legacy Power Morpher, including the Green and White Ranger Power Coins. It’s limited to 1000 pieces, so don’t wait too long to pull the trigger!

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DOOM | Twenty years ago DOOM stormed gamers’ PC’s and truly defined the term “first person shooter.” The game was the most installed piece of computer software in 1995, even beating out Windows 95 (DOS for the win!). For the 20th anniversary of the game’s 1993 release, Symbiote Studios is offering this 3.5 inch Space Marine figure with removable helmet and the most coveted weapon of the game — the BFG 9000. Don’t know what “BFG” stands for? Google it.”

I did a quick interview with writer Jason Ciaramella about his “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Villains Micro-Series: Old Hob” #3 one-shot which dropped yesterday from IDW Publishing!

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“Ciaramella Guides ‘TMNT’s’ Old Hob on a New Path” — Click to read entire article

“The first time readers saw IDW Publishing’s version of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in action, they were taking on a mean-spirited mutated cat with one eye named Old Hob. Since the debut of the TMNT’s new continuity almost 2 years ago, Old Hob has been uncomfortable in his position as lead lackey of Baxter Stockman, who in turn works for the inter-dimensional being, Krang.

While the anger-fueled cat has cut many shells in his young career, he’s also been betrayed by his masters and even escaped death. Now, breaking out on his own and poised to start carving his own destiny, Old Hob was last seen with fellow mutate Slash, dodging his former employers.

Writer Jason Ciaramella and artist Dave Watcher usher in the new-look Old Hob in this week’s “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Villains Micro-Series” #3. Ciaramella spoke with CBR about his “Old Hob” issue and the future of this mighty mutant animal.

CBR News: Jason, Old Hob is introduced in the very first issue of IDW’s ‘Ninja Turtles’ continuity as a primary villain — how has he grown from that initial appearance to where he is in your story?

Jason Ciaramella: I think he’s figured things out. He knows the landscape and he’s putting together the pieces to build a bigger picture. Early on he was more reactionary, unsure.

What can you tell us about Old Hob’s life before being mutated by the ooze?

Well, the scene I wrote showing Hob as a fluffy little kitty is brief, but it made my kids cry so I think I nailed that one.”

Check it out dudes! In “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” #22 of IDW Publishing’s ongoing series, Michelangelo’s reading Tom Waltz and Guiu Vilanova’s “After the Fire” 100 Page Spectacular. Page 8, panel 1.

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“TMNT” #22 co-written by Tom Waltz & Ninja Turtles co-creator Kevin Eastman is a MUST READ! The obvious (but is it really?) plug aside, the writing’s solid and accessible — Mateus Santolouco’s artwork is the grand slam sealing the deal for this book. It’s energetic, fresh and apparent he knows what the hell he’s doing in portraying expression and emotion, but most importantly the Turtles as individuals.

If there was only one TMNT comic book you read in your life, I would have said it’s “TMNT: Secret History of the Foot Clan” #2 any time before tonight. Not anymore. Now it’s “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” ongoing #22. The creative team lights this thing on fire, presenting the best elements from all corners of the TMNT mythos in one action packed and emotionally charged issue.

Writer Joshua Williamson and artist Mike Henderson spoke with me about their “TMNT Villains Micro-Series: Krang” #1 one-shot story from IDW Publishing.

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Williamson & Henderson Join Brains for ‘TMNT’s’ ‘Krang'” — Click to read entire article

“IDW Publishing’s ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ ongoing series has been shipping regularly for almost two years now, and in that time it’s seen two spinoff titles in ‘TMNT: The Secret History of the Foot Clan’ and the ‘Micro-Series’ lineup featuring one-shot stories of major heroic players in the new continuity. The latest spinoff is the ‘TMNT: Villain Micro-Series,’ a 4-issue miniseries (that actually maintains the same numbering as the first ‘Micro-Series,’ picking up with #9) spotlighting a different TMNT rogue in each issue.

The first bad guy takes center stage this April as writer Joshua Williamson and artist Mike Henderson — the team behind the digital-first series “Masks and Mobsters” — pen the tale of Krang before we meet him in the main title.

CBR News: Where in the IDW TMNT continuity is this story set and how does it affect the greater picture of the IDW Turtle-verse?

Joshua Williamson: It takes place right after ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ #20 and gives you a glimpse of how Krang became the ruthless killer we all know and love. The ‘Micro-Series’ issue shows his motivation and why he’s not stopping until his mission is accomplished. For readers it gives a bigger glimpse into why he is doing what he does. After this issue, Krang is reminded why he has chosen his path with renewed dedication.

The best way to describe our story is ‘Black Hawk Down’ with Krang. Krang sneaks on a mission to assassinate his father’s arch enemies and nothing goes as planned. Krang is stranded without his bodysuit and has to survive… and complete the mission.

Krang’s a hideous creature to look at — are you running with this perspective on the character or have you attempted to capture the ‘softer side’ of Krang?

Mike Henderson: I’m not sure there’s a soft side to be captured, actually. Or if I would want to make him relatable even if I could. If we can get the reader to root for someone as nasty as Krang can be, then I think we can call this one a success.”

2013 is here and I wanted to show off my favorite three Christmas gifts from my mom and dad — I think they’ve come to accept I’m a grown man-child.

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1) Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Complete Series DVD Box Set — Man, I really, really wanted this but didn’t have the dough to put down on it. At San Diego Comic-Con this year, I went to the SHOUT! Factory booth to purchase the Con exclusive set, but they were sold out by Sunday afternoon. Suck! Thankfully, mom and dad delivered and I felt like an 8 year old at 28.Yes, many of the episodes are horrendous, but it’s a time capsule thing for me, and the fight scenes aren’t that bad. Plus, the little one gives it her attention.

2) Turtles Forever DVD — I hadn’t seen the entire thing online, waiting for a DVD release. This is a must-see for every kind of TMNT fan. So well done.

3) Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation Season 1 DVD — Don’t judge me, but yes I asked for this. I’ve heard it’s one of the worst shows in all of geek culture, let alone the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and I had to find out for myself. It does look terrible, though.

This is all stuff I really, really wanted but couldn’t shell out the cash for. I lucked out and received other cool stuff, like new shoes and clothes, but these were the fun presents! Thanks mom and dad, and Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone!

Added new photos to the Boon Monster tumblr today! My three favorites are below: the Monster playing with nunchucks (her mom and I were going to be Ninja Turtles for Halloween, and we bought her a rat costume but it was too big — next year!), a sleeping Monster and twilight in Silver Lake. Yes, I know my camera phone needs an upgrade.

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I spoke with Mateus Santolouco & Erik Burnham, the creators of the upcoming “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Secret History of the Foot Clan” miniseries — looking forward to this!

Santolouco & Burnham Reveal the “Secret History of the Foot Clan” — Click to read entire article

CBR News: Mateus, Erik — not much information is out there on ‘Secret History of the Foot Clan.’ What’s the core concept and where does it pick up in IDW continuity?

Mateus Santolouco: Oroko Saki is still alive and the Turtles are doing all the research they can to learn how this is even possible. They get acquainted with the work of Doctor Patrick Miller, who has discovered ancient Japanese artifacts which may reveal the origins of this legendary ninja clan — and maybe the secret to Shredder’s longevity. While we follow the Turtles and company in search of these secrets, we dive deep into the Foot Clan’s origins before Hamato Yoshi and Saki, learning how Shredder rose to power and to — immortality?

Erik Burnham: Like Mateus said, this is Saki’s story as much as the Foot Clan’s and we get to see him in ways he’s not typically shown. Have you ever seen the fearsome Shredder as a toddler? I thought not. Mateus came up with a fantastic story, and what I like most is how he shows Hamato Yoshi was not the only person in the TMNT mythos IDW is building who faces a tragic end as a result of trying to do the right and honorable thing. It’s a great bit of dramatic meat to chew on.”

A little over a week ago, Rahsan Ekedal sketched this Raphael of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for me during the “Cyber Force” #1 signing at Collector’s Paradise Pasadena.

So slick.

If you haven’t read “Echoes” by Joshua Hale Fialkov or “Think Tank” by Matt Hakwins, they’re enjoyable reads regardless of personal preference and Ekedal has drawn them both. Give ’em a spin, but be careful — “Echoes” will seriously fuck up your day.

Oh man — yesterday I found two totally awesome retro items this near-30 year old geek man-child must own:

1) “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” Complete Classic Series DVD Set — Available 11/28/12 for $99.99

“Cowabunga! Experience the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle saga in this totally tubular 23-disc set of the original animated series, featuring all 10 seasons in one complete cowabunga collection! From their origins on the comic book page to the depths of Dimension X and beyond, the pizza- loving, shell-busting Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, and Michelangelo, with the guidance of their Sensei Master Splinter, have been delighting fans for decades with their turtle power. Whether it’s facing fierce enemies Krang, Shredder and Lord Dregg, saving humanity from near extinction, or battling against life-altering mutations, the half-shell heroes are always ready for heart-stopping, time-bending, straight outta the sewer action!”

2) “Star Wars” Rocket Firing Boba Fett 12″ Kenner Replica Figure — Available 3/27/2013 for $85

“Gentle Giant is proud to present their take on one of the most legendary toys in action figure history – the Rocket Firing Boba Fett. Never released due to safety concerns, the few figures that found their way out of Kenner’s factories are some of the most sought-after Star Wars collectibles in the world. Digitally scanned from an authentic 3 3/4″ Kenner prototype and reproduced to a substantial 12″ tall, no detail has been overlooked. Injection molded and made of durable plastics, this jumbo figure comes fully articulated and includes real rocket-firing action! That’s not all, this classic Kenner creation comes packaged on a 1980 Empire Strikes Back-inspired blister card, featuring original artwork, in a resealable plastic outer clamshell to help protect and display!”

Given the price tags on these sexy babies I can likely only afford one, which will undoubtedly be the TMNT DVD set. That’s my childhood packaged in a sleek looking Turtle Van. I actually own the original Kenner Boba Fett figurine. It’s out of the box, missing the gun and well loved but still; it’s a piece of geek history.

Also yesterday while doing research on the ’70s “Shazam!” TV show starring Michael Gray as Billy Batson, I happened upon the opening credits for this other ’70s T.V. show I’d never heard of — “Electra Woman and Dyna Girl.” The catchy theme, sexy jogging and Dyna Girl’s pigtails were enough to make me watch the clip a couple times. Totally wish the show wasn’t before my time and I’d love to track down some episodes.

In my interview with Paul Allor, writer of the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Micro-Series: Fugitoid” issue out tomorrow — he talks about introducing the classic character into the new IDW Publishing universe.

Allor Brings “Fugitoid” to “TMNT Micro-Series” — Click to read full article

“Fugitoid is a Mirage Studios character co-created by the founding fathers of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. The android’s first appearance with the TMNT came in the original run’s fifthissue where he was given the title of co-star, propelling the book into a surprisingly sci-fi direction.

On September 5, IDW Publishing releases a “Fugitoid” one-shot as the eighth issue of its “Micro-Series” line written by Paul Allor and drawn by Paul McCaffrey. Allor spoke to CBR News about introducing Fugitoid to a new era of readers, the strong familial themes in his story and his personal connections to the TMNT.

In the IDW continuity there has been origin tweaking, most notably for the Turtles, Splinter and Shredder — they’re re-incarnations of their former selves. How close to the original Mirage Fugitoid origin are you keeping? Can you tease us on anything you were able to make your own?

Paul Allor: I’d say the broad strokes are the same, and I absolutely tried to stay true to the spirit of the character. If this Fugitoid isn’t recognizable to fans, then I haven’t done my job. But yeah, we have tweaked to fit in with this new story. One big change is that he has a family in this iteration. Family seems to be the grand theme of the IDW Turtle-verse; both the families fate gives us and the families we create. What we owe to our family, what we’ll do for our family, and what we’ll sacrifice for them.”