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!

DOOM

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.”