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Entries in Guest Posts (2)


Comic-Con, C2E2, and Joe Quesada's Nerd Rock

Note: The Creation of Adam is happy to welcome guest blogger Amanda Hicken from
Clue into Cleveland, an excellent blog that unlocks the treasures of that oft-overlooked Ohio city.  Follow her on Twitter @ADHicken.

From July 21-24, thousands descended upon the San Diego Convention Center for Comic Con 2010. If you're a comic book fan like me, San Diego Comic Con is the once-a-year mecca for all things comics.  There were over a thousand exhibitors and artists including heavy hitters like DC and Marvel, as well as small press, movie studios, and comic retailers. In addition to the booths, attendees were treated to a bounty of exciting exclusives such as  Marvel's big reveal of the Avengers' director and cast (love Joss Whedon and Mark Ruffalo). 

Since the first Golden State Comic Con in 1970, the SDCC has blossomed into something that's much more about comics. In its current iteration, other forms of popular art -- such as tv, movies, toys, and video gaming -- receive just as much focus as comics (if not more, on occasion).  Networks often use the convention to preview new shows or boost fan support with panels of current favorites like ChuckDexter and Community. And at last year's SDCC, an entirely new audience comprised of Twilight Moms stormed the floor in a Team Edward v Team Jacob Battle Royale (kidding ... slightly). 

However, the flipside of this popularity is that the Comic Con has come under criticism for overcrowding. From travel expenses, sold-out events and the occasional scuffle, the SDCC may not be for everyone. If you can't make it to Comic Con, though, you don't necessarily have to miss out on meeting your favorite comic book artist or writer. There are a number of other conventions across the country and throughout the year with plenty of action for comic fans.  

At C2E2: Amanda and Frank Cho, writer and illustrator of Liberty Meadows, Mighty Avengers, and Hulk. One of these opportunities is the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo.  Since moving out to Cleveland a couple of years ago, I've attended some of the smaller, local conventions like Northeast Ohio's Tiki Con.  However, I hadn't been to a large scale convention until Scott and I took a roadtrip to Chi-town a few months ago for C2E2. April 16–18 was a weekend of firsts -- not only was it my first major convention and first time in Chicago, but also the inaugural C2E2.  

C2E2 was organized by ReedPOP, who produces the popular New York Comic Con, and was held in the Lakeside Center of the sprawling McCormick Place.  Estimates had attendance at 20,000-30,000 -- a much more bearable crowd than SDCC's 100,000+. 

However, just because the crowd was smaller didn't mean attendees missed out on a quality con.  With 290,000 square feet of exhibit space, there was plenty to see. DC and Marvel were there with the most prominent booths and a full schedule of signings and events - featuring talent such as Geoff Johns, Andy Kubert, Marjorie Liu, Jeph Loeb, Greg Pak, and Fred Van Lente - as well as costume contests, new video game demos, and a DC talent search.

In addition to the exhibitors' booths, there was Artist Alley which allowed guests to meet their favorites - such as Alex Ross and Frank Cho, as well as introduce themselves to new talent.   Transylvania Television and writer Eric Rampson gained Scott and I as fans that weekend. And we got to add something to my Hulk collection when we purchased a piece of the original line art from artist Ryan Stegman’s Incredible Hulk/Red She-Hulk  issue, right before he was signed to an exclusive by Marvel.  

There was also a number of opportunities to speak with comic heavyweights at the weekend's panels and events.  As a Marvel fan, hearing XMen teasers and Editor in Chief Joe Quesada hold his own against a long line of questions and debate was a thrill.  By far, though, my favorite panel was Bill Willingham.  Willingham creates amazing stories (Fables, Jack of Fables, and his writing on the Angel comics is fantastic). And during his panel he did not disappoint -- offering up a lot of info on his upcoming storylines and answering the audience's questions with straightforward and humorous answers.    For once - standing in line didn't seem so dreadful. 

After the convention floor closed for the night on Saturday, there were a few opportunities for socializing. 'An Evening with Neil Gaiman' allowed fans to join him for dinner as he took the stage to benefit the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. There was also the Kirby Krackle show at REGGIE'S rock club which is where Scott and I met with some Chicago friends on Saturday night. 

Kirkby Krackle, featuring Marvel Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada.A nerd rock band from Seattle, Kirby Krackle has been making the convention rounds because of songs based on their love of comics.  On top of their great songs and enthusiastic performances, we also got to see Marvel's Quesada play a few songs with them.  

Rockstar Quesada was a stark difference from Editor-in-Chief Quesada who we had watched deftly answer questions at the Cup O' Joe Panel. The afterhours version rocked out with Kirby Krackle with complete abandon.

Seeing this - along with catching one of the exclusive Red Hulk guitar picks they were tossing to the audience - made the afterparty one of the highlights of my convention experience.

For its first year, C2E2 was a definite success.  It featured a lot of big names in the comic industry and exciting events - all of which you could actually enjoy because the crowds weren't too overwhelming. As my first major convention, I really don't think I could have found a better experience.  C2E2 2.0 will be back next March and I can't wait to make another trip out to Chicago for it. In the meantime, there are sites that can help you find conventions in your area.


Gorillaz Concept Surges on Plastic Beach

Today, The Creation of Adam welcomes guest blogger Paul Tsikitas, who writes about music at In the Wake of Poseidon.


When Snoop Dogg first welcomed me to the world of Plastic Beach, I was unaware of what a strange and wonderful world I was getting myself into. Gorillaz is usually synonymous with fantastic collaborations and excruciatingly catchy tunes, yet at first glance, Plastic Beach seems like too many collaborations, musically very different from their 2001 self-titled debut and 2005’s Demon Days. The album doesn’t pick up with its catchiest tunes until five tracks deep, when the album’s first single, the ultra groovy and funky "Stylo" kicks in. This sounds like I’m knocking it, but quite the contrary. Although this won’t be many listeners' go-to Gorillaz album, especially when you are looking to party, this is easily the Gorillaz' finest album as an art form.

Plastic Beach is a concept album that is all about environmental disaster and the artifice of our world culture. It's a sprawling record with loads of tracks varying in sound and style. While this sound is more complex and much more synthetic, it perfectly mirrors the themes of an artificial utopia. This isn't to say there aren’t any organic sounds to be found. A song like "White Flag" brings in an Eastern string section juxtaposed with some excellent rhymes care of British rappers Bashy and Kano and a flourishing back beat.

The sounds are constantly shifting and bringing different moods and feeling onto the shores of Plastic Beach. There are slower, poppier ballads like the Grandaddyesque "On Melancholy Hill" or the fabulous slow space ballad "Empire Ants", both of which are excellent moments of clarity on the album. Then there are the catchier numbers like the infectious and skewering "Superfast Jellyfish" or the frenetic Mos Def jam "Sweepstakes." These songs have layer after layer of compounding sound. It's a lot to take in, as the sound is far more complex than some of the more simplistic moments in the Gorillaz catalog.

If there is anything evident here, it's that Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett have evolved the Gorillaz into something beyond a fictitious cartoon group of primates pounding out dance floor-ready tunes. This time around, they are making a social statement as well as taking Gorillaz into new direction. The frenzy of guest stars from Lou Reed to Bobby Womack proves that Gorillaz is a collective genius. Albarn and gang have a great pulse on high quality pop music with an introspective touch. Plastic Beach is sure to be one of the more memorable records of the year and one of the best to kick off a new decade.