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It’s that time of year again! San Diego Comic Con.  And it’s a zoo. So if you’re hoping to run into someone specific, you better know where to to find them.

Here’s my hand-shaking, book-signing, question-answering schedule as it stands now…

THURSDAY: 4:30-5:30pm – MARVEL COMICS: Next Big Thing Panel, Room 6DE

SATURDAY: 3:00-4:00 Take to the Sky: Skybound and the Next Generation of Independence— Things continue to look up for Skybound, Robert Kirkman’s imprint at Image Comics. The premiere original Witch Doctor has sold out nationwide, the all-ages hit Super Dinosaur continues to soar, and Kirkman’s first-ever writer’s room-driven crime drama, Thief of Thieves, is a critical success…what’s next? Join Robert Kirkman as he discusses the future of the imprint with his stable of creators, including the creative teams behind Witch Doctor, Thief of Thieves, and more! Expect only AWESOMENESS. Moderated by Sina Grace. Room 25ABC

FRI- SUNDAY: SIGNINGS @ MARVEL BOOTH – #2329

Friday – 12-1pm

Saturday – 2pm- 3 pm

Sunday - 3 to 4 pm

Awesomely – word is that Marvel will be giving out a comic with first previews of several books, including GAMBIT!  So bring stuff you already have of mine for a signing – or just come up and I’ll have this sneak peek jam comic!

There’s even an interview about the book over at Marvel.com and some unlettered preview pages!  Like THESE…

  

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The rumors and whispering in dark corners of the internet were right – GENERATION HOPE is ending in MARCH with issue #17.  {sad face emoticon}

If you’re interested to know more, I talk about it all over at ComicBookResources.

From the get-go, they asked me to write 5 issues leading up to April’s big cross-over event (Avengers vs. X-Men).  I approached the gig as a chance to wrap up the major stories of the series’ first year (while also tossing in some new elements I was interested in playing with).

This did not blindside me in the least.  We’ve talked sales numbers and the fate of the book for months, so I knew this was coming before the first issue came out in shops.  I got to tell the stories that I wanted to tell as I wanted to tell them (my editors Jordan White and Nick Lowe were AWESOME collaborators).  So I am nothing but grateful!

ANYWAY – the final two issues pack a TON of pay-off into their pages!  Not just of my issues, but for folks who have been reading the whole way through.  So I hope you’ll stay on board till the end (or grab the trade).  And page 16 of the final issue is maybe the single comic moment I’m most proud of so far. {happy face emoticon}

^ Some preview art from GENERATION HOPE #16 with pencils by Takeshi Miyazawa! It’s out mid-February with the final issue (#17) out mid-March.  And they are CRAZY-COOL comics.

THANK YOU! to all the folks who have been so kind an enthused from the moment I took over through the announcement today.  Since I’m not working in live theater anymore, it’s really nice to still hear people’s responses to this stuff and know that I’m connecting.

I’ll be back SOON with some VERY BIG non-Marvel related comics news!!!  So hang tight, cool cats. {kissy face emoticon}

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Hi!!   I won’t prattle on – because I’ve been doing it TONS elsewhere!  So, instead, here’s a round up of places I’ve talked and what else you might find there…

Cover for GENERATION HOPE #15 -------------by Jorge Molina----------- in stores January 2012

All things X-MEN (including bits about Generation Hope) in the near future:

A round up of the X-Men: Regenesis panel discussion at NewYorkComicCon.  (feat. Kieron Gillen, Jason Aaron, Peter David, and basically EVERYONE…)  >> though, note my disclaimer comment after the article.

Hardcore X-Men fans ask me questions about Generation Hope:

ComicBookResources’ weekly X-Position feature.  My first appearance!  (Hope it’s not the last…)

I hang out with comedians and creators as we shoot the comic book $#!+:

Comic Book Club Live! in NYC.  Other guests are Jason Hurley & Jeremy Haun, creators of THE BEAUTY (Top Cow Pilot Season).  It’s a GREAT, ORIGINAL crime story!  (You should buy it.)

  • More chats will roll in VERY SOON. (And those will have a bit more CAPTAIN AMERICA & BUCKY discussion.)
  • Thanks to everyone who came up and chatted at NYCC or those who have hit me up on TWITTER!  I genuinely love to hear from you guys.
  • ASTONISHING X-MEN #43 comes out WEDNESDAY (10/26!!)!  It’s a self-contained done-in-one story that I really, really like.  Preview pages below. You should buy it from your LOCAL COMIC SHOP!

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Because NO ONE asked for it – I interview myself about my upcoming comics projects!

JAMES: Wow, James, thanks for sitting down to talk about all the awesome stuff you have coming up!  I’m a huge fan!

JAMES:  Please don’t gush.  You’re making us look desperate.

cover art for GENERATION HOPE #13 by Ibraim Roberson

JAMES: Fair enough!  First off, you were just announced as the new writer of GENERATION HOPE, Marvel Comics’ new young X-Men characters.  What can we expect from your issues?

JAMES: UNBRIDLED ENTHUSIASM.  Also, the teaser obviously lets you know that I’m bringing Sebastian Shaw (longtime X-villain, immortalized by Kevin Bacon in this summer’s X-Men First Class movie) into the mix.  But he is NOT the only X-character matriculating into Gen Hope…

But the number one thing I want people to know is that we are working hard to make this book easy to jump on to if you haven’t been reading it (or any X-men stuff).  I sincerely believe in making comics accessible to new readers in every issue.  But there will also be several big pay-offs to stories that have been building since  Kieron Gillen (the O.G. Gen Hope scribe) started the book.

I know that sounds like a tricky balance, but it really isn’t.  New and old audiences will both enjoy a scene that has previously established information – as long as characters are having an emotional response to the idea/event/etc. – and, most importantly, one that forwards the story and develops the character.

JAMES: So you’re saying there will be more focus on character, and less on tights and punching?

JAMES:  Yes and no.  Punching is still an emotional reaction.  But so is kissing, crying, betrayal, quitting, manipulating, and even… sacrificing your life.   The first story has a lot of action, but is ultimately setting up a lot of the emotional turns that will change everything for the team around issues #16 & #17.  Also, the book is gonna get a lot more hormonal.  The way any teenage story should be.

JAMES: Yikes! Changing topics – you’ve been shamelessly promoting (read: begging for support) your first creator-owned comic’s Kickstarter campaign.  What made you decide to do an “Apocalyptic Buddy Comedy” about the Rapture??

The Life & End Times of Bram & Ben art by Remus Brezeanu

JAMES:  Well, rather than get into my whole relationship with theology and religion – I’ll say there was a period a few years ago where I became fascinated with feature films made by televangelists.  Most of these were about “The End Times” (The Rapture, the Antichrist, etc.) – and starred B-or C-list names like Corbin Bernsen, Casper Van Dien, Jeff Fahey, and even Mr. T.

My biggest problem with these (okay, one of my biggest problems) was that – though the idea of the Rapture is that ‘good people’ are taken to Heaven and the rest of us jerks must live out a ‘tribulation’ to test our ultimate fate – almost all the characters are essentially still good Christian people.  That is NOT an interesting story!

Look, we’re never going to get difinitive proof that any religion is ‘true.’  But isn’t the much more compelling (and hilarious) Rapture story one about people who absolutely don’t believe in a religion getting hit with the reality that they blew it?  Seriously – WTF would you do?!?  

JAMES: So this isn’t a “pro-Rapture”, cautionary comic?  Like those weird, scary CHICK Tracts?

JAMES:  No.  But it’s not necessarily an “anti-Rapture” comic either.  In my mind, it’s no different from saying “what if you woke up and found out GHOSTS were real – and how are you going to deal with them?”   There are people who seriously believe in ghosts, and those who don’t.   I’m just interested in creating a fictional world where the “is there/isn’t there?” question answers itself in a HUGE fashion – and then tell a story that explores the reactions of people who totally bet on the wrong outcome.  

JAMES: So why a self-produced comic?

JAMES: Honestly?  Because I don’t think any other medium would let me tell this story.  The simple fact that there are jokes happening near people’s religious beliefs means that 95% of storytelling avenues would be terrified of helping me get this out into the world.  And to be honest, I have no idea how much of an audience there may be for this book.  But I know that I’d be excited to read it, and so would (a fairly diverse spread of) plenty of people I know personally.

more interior art by Remus Brezeanu

The truth is,my friend and collaborator on this (Jim Festante) and I may very well lose a lot of our own money on this. But I believe in what we have planned so strongly that I’m willing to risk it.  But I do hope that those who would like to read a book like this show support early with the Kickstarter campaign.  It’s going to make a huge difference as to our ability to get the book out quickly and at the level of quality we think it deserves.

JAMES: Well, I’m sure people reading this are at least willing to trade a $2 donation for a digital copy of the first issue!

JAMES:  I’d hope so.

JAMES: Anything else coming up we should know about?

JAMES:  Yes!  Actually, before either of those projects coming out – the issue I wrote for ASTONISHING X-MEN #43 will come out in October!   I am beside myself to have the opportunity on a book that was previously helmed by Joss Whedon and Warren Ellis!

I do have a bit of bittersweet news to break about the issue, though – the awesome Nick Bradshaw was ultimately unable to draw the book (at the last minute)!  He had the misfortune of getting hired onto the new Wolverine & The X-Men comic written by superstar Jason Aaron.  I’m sure he feels demoted.   Instead, the book is graced by the phenomenal DAVID YARDIN – who has mostly been churning out crazy dynamic COVERS for the last few years.  So it’s a great treat to have him doing some beautiful interiors again!  Additionally, pages which take place… elsewhere will be illustrated by the seemingly un-link-able GABRIEL HERNANDEZ!

The story itself gives a big bright spotlight on two of my favorite X-ladies, Emma Frost and Danger.  This story was deliberately designed to harken back to Joss Whedon’s initial stories with Danger.  I promise you, the story will make perfect sense (and be a blast) even if you haven’t read those issues.  But if you have, we’re both tying up some unresolved parts of his run and developing her character further.  I’m VERY EXCITED about this one.

Also I’ve got a soon-to-be-revealed project with the fantastic FRANCESCO FRANCAVILLA(!!!) which will be a VERY big change up for my work at Marvel – but I couldn’t be more honored and excited to be on it :)   More on that in just a few weeks!

JAMES: This is probably way too long.

JAMES:  Yeah.  I doubt anyone’s still reading.

 

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SO I haven’t gotten around to posting (even though I wanted to put up some of the nice words said about the Namor Annual).   It struck me that this might make it seem like I have less going on – though it’s actually the opposite.

Some BIG NEWS (for me, anyways) will be coming out in the next few weeks.

In the meantime – I’m working on that, a commissioned project (that probably won’t be available to the public), two spec (film) scripts, teaching myself how to letter comics for an independent submission, and performing comedy again.

I’ll post the relevant and interesting stuff as it comes up.  In the meantime, I wanted to thank any and all the people who have popped by.

Please feel free to LEAVE COMMENTS!  Some have started to, but I’d love to know what brought you, and what were you hoping to find here?  — I’d be happy to put more of whatever that would be up on the site.

A sneak preview page from an independent comic I'll be pitching out in a few weeks. Art by REMUS BREZEANU

<—  In The Meantime

Check out handsome art for a comic I co-created with my buddy Jim Festante.  The art is by the awesome (and German!) illustrator Remus Brezeanu.

 

More Online Distractions!

– Check out the aforementioned Jim Festante hosting THE GAME SHOW (video games) on TheStream.TV

– Dig Remus’ art for web comic SOCIALFIST! – a riff on Socialist Superheroes :D  I recommend starting at the link.

– And 180 degrees away from those things – the fantastic APPLE SISTERS (a modern WWII girl group) has a comedy podcast on Earwolf that’s already getting great traction.  I love them.  You should give it a try.

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Namor Annual #1 - part 3 of "Escape From the Negative Zone"

A preview page from Namor: First Mutant Annual #1 - pencils by Max Fiumara

WOW!  It’s been a busy couple months.   The most immediate news is that 2 of 3 chapters of ESCAPE FROM THE NEGATIVE ZONE are out – and people seem to be getting what I hoped they would from it!  If you haven’t yet, grab your copies of Uncanny X-Men Annual #3 and Steve Rogers: Super Soldier Annual #1 at your local comic shop.  And ask them to pre-order you a copy the finale – Namor: First Mutant Annual #1!  It features pencils by your new favorite artist, Max Fiumara (Four Eyes, Amazing Spider-Man).

Also, the CW just aired an episode I shot of AMERICA’S NEXT TOP MODEL.  (Seriously.)   I was hired to be creepy and make the girls uncomfortable  as one of their challenges…which was easy.

 * * * * * 

If you really want to hear me go on about these, though – here are some INTERVIEWS

COMIC BOOK RESOURCES – has a preview of some art from the final chapter of Escape…!  And I field some follow-up questions with Dave Richards (who also did the first interview here.)

CHILL OUT, IT’S JUST A PODCAST – had me sit down (or rather, crawl into a BLANKET FORT!) for a TWO-PART chat about these comics.  Episode 13 is all about Escape From the Negative Zone (and some deeply nerdy diversions from there).  And in Episode 14 we shoot the shit about where I came from, as well as my appearance on ANTM.

BRIDGET CALLAHAN IS YOUR BEST FRIEND - My (best?) friend Bridget also interviewed me about the experience of being hired (through my improv comedy work) by America’s Next Top Model to mess with the girls in an episode (Cycle 16, Episode 6).

* * * * * 

And for those who might be interested in (or have been on the fence about) picking up my Marvel Comics annuals (Uncanny X-Men, Steve Rogers: Super Soldier, and Namor: First Mutant) – here are some REVIEWS that just-so-happen to insist you buy them!

WEEKLY COMIC BOOK REVIEW – “A fun, lively and jaunty story that had me laughing out loud in a few places coupled with some seriously badass art.  A- !”

COMIC BOOK RESOURCES - THE ‘BUY PILE’ – “Buy! …  All the elements here just worked, joining together perfectly while the plot rotated around Steve Rogers’ relentless military precision.  A great surprise.”

NEWSARAMA - “Humor abounds in delightfully character-specific ways… An emblematic example of skill from relative newcomer Asmus.”

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C2E2

Not the (only) reason I go to conventions.

Wow!  I didn’t go to C2E2 last year – but I’m pretty sure I’ll be going as often as possible!

It was an absolutely wonderful convention experience with great people all around.  I had the pleasure of running into my long-time Chicago friends from theater & comedy, as well as great creators from all around the country.

I’ll post some links soon to a few interviews I did while in town.  I’ll also post a few other things about the great responses we’ve gotten on the UNCANNY X-MEN ANNUAL.  (THANK YOU!, by the way.)

In the meantime, if you haven’t checked out these people before – DO IT NOW.  These are not only great people, but they’re doing truly fantastic work in comics.  Cheers.

CHRIS BURNHAM ! – Just announced at C2E2 as EXCLUSIVE to DC Comics! Though, it sounds like he’ll still be able to do creator-owned work like his brilliantly ultra-violent stuff with Joe Casey at Image (like Officer Downe which is available on the ComiX app)

TIM SEELEY – You shouldn’t need me to tell you, but Tim has been an awsome source of rock n’ roll spirit in comics for years with his smartly titilating Hack Slash.  And if you’re a fan of super-heroic madness, GET his miniseries (or trade) of Ant Man & The Wasp recent, from Marvel.

MIKE NORTON – This guy is a straight-up ace at comics art.  You’ve probably already seen his art on Gravity, Green Arrow/Black Canary, or the amazing Queen & Country. But now he’s got something really cool cooking all his own with FOUR STAR STUDIOS.  <<< KEEP AN EYE ON IT.

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Hey kids,

A lot of folks lately have asked me for recommendations of comics.  I’ll throw some up here occasionally that I think you should check out.  I should mention – these aren’t comics’ “greatest hits”.   These will all be books that I think are really worthwhie – and ones that DON’T require you to ‘know’ comics.   So while there may be more ‘famous’ stories out there – these ones will actually make sense to a new reader.

MARVEL  - (Obviously, this first entry will be about my employer.)

NEXTWAVE – One of my favorite Marvel comics of all time.  These are bat-shit crazy & completely awesome!  Only 12 issues came out, so it’s really easy to read & collect.  Essentially – B&C-List characters find out that their secret anti-terrorist team is actually run by terrorists.   Terrorists who use weapons like Robot Stephen Hawkings with Laser Eyes.  Warren Ellis’ scripts are insanely energized, and Stuart Immonen’s art is near-flawless.

Runaways

RUNAWAYS. They also have a f*cking dinosaur.

RUNAWAYS – The first few collections are available pretty cheap – and I can’t recommend them highly enough.   This comic is brilliantly accessible and relate-able for ‘non-comic’ people.  Essentially, a group of kids find out that their parents are a cabal of super-villains – and then things get really weird.   This series is written (by Brian K Vaughan) with a tremendous amount of humor and humanity without all that weird stuff like spandex and codenames.   Seriously, if you’re interested in superhero comics at all – read the first three volumes.

ASTONISHING X-MEN – This is more well known than it is ‘definitive’ for comic fans.  But this 25 issue run by Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and John Cassaday (the wonderful comic Planetary) gives you a heaping helping of action, character, and – most importantly – is REALLY EASY TO READ.   That’s no easy feat for X-Men comics (or any title that has 50+ years of history).   This run is filled with joy, thought, and craftsmanship.  And punching.  Lots of punching.

OTHER RECOMMENDATIONS

PUNISHER MAX – If you can’t get into superheroes, but love crime & violence – this is your book.  It’s got a wickedly dark sense of humor.  It takes place in a different ‘world’ than the other Marvel comics.  So there are no capes.  Just guns.  -  The title has run for a while, but you should basically be able to pick up any collection and the story will make sense.

IRON MAN: EXTREMIS - This storyline essentially reworked Iron Man in a way that brings you from his origin and into a very intriguing exploration of the very idea behind the hero.  Plus, the art is beautifully (and fairly realistically) rendered by Adi Granov.  This is intelligent, thematic stuff that still has nice character work & great action.

I’m sure there’s more.  But it’s late.  And I’m tired.

Happy reading!

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my wife!

PS - this is my wife :)

I’m breaking with tradition.   This post isn’t about promoting something.

I tend to only think to post here when I’m promoting something.   But that’s probably because I think of this as my forum as a writer & performer.  Then things like Facebook are for me ‘the human being’.

On that note, I have just recently started to get ‘friend requests’ from people I don’t actually know – but they know my work.   My wife (that just happened, BTW) has really been pushing the idea that I shouldn’t friend those people, but rather direct them to this site or to follow my Twitter.

But I’ve been resisting the idea.

Before anyone gets the idea that she’s heartless, or selfish and just wants me for herself… She’s not.  She’s actually giving to fault (special education teacher).   Which is what makes me wonder if I’M wrong on this.

But so far – I don’t think I am.  I’m an obscure writer within two already obscure fields (comics & theater).   Only a handful of people have wanted to contact me.  And unless (until?) I become someone like Grant Morrison or David Mamet, I don’t think the few people who want to dialog with me are really gonna cramp my style.  And I still feel nothing but gratitude for their interest.  I certainly don’t want to drive them away, even if it is in the form of ‘redirecting’ them to a less personal avenue.

Plus I’m still 95% certain that people aren’t reading this site.   (Not that I’ve promoted it.  Ever.)

Time will tell.  And if I do need to restructure my social networking, hopefully it will coincide with the implosion of the F-site-that-doesn’t-need-anymore-name-presence.

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That rant about people ignoring their reviews was not what I set out to write.  But I thought I’d let it fly.   Maybe I’ll circle back to what it was supposed to be later.  But in the meantime, I thought it’s worth mentioning a few things I learned about my own work from reading reviews:

1. I’m Accidentally Racist Against Eastern Europeans! - The cumbersome title X-Men: Manifest Destiny: Nightcrawler - For many reasons, I developed multiple blind spots on my first full-length comic.   But my favorite being that when I created a moment to Nightcrawler’s Frankensteinesque mob-with-pitchforks origin – I didn’t even think twice about having them carry torches.   Which several people pointed out is such outdated technology, that even rural Czech families would have upgraded to flashlights.  It NEVER even occurred to me as an option.  Seriously.

2. Even People Shunned By God Don’t Want to See God Kicked Too Much! - Sodomites!!! - In the musical retelling of Sodom & Gomorrah, we took very few creative liberties.  Faithfully retelling the story is pretty f**ked-up and hilarious.  But if we were to make sense of all the self-contradiction and irrational judgement contained therein, we had to add an explanation from our sexually frustrated God.  Actually, more of an apology.   In a song by Mike Descoteaux that serves as a coup de gras* to a comedy that already played rough – The Lord ultimately confesses to everything from watching us have sex to having “raped a 13-year-old girl…named Mary”.  I know, I know.  While we fully knew what we were getting into, I was shocked that even of the GLBT publications in Chicago said that it might go too far.  So if they’re saying that – a life of dark comedy has really blown out my understanding of people’s thresholds.

3. I Am Out of Touch With Today’s Youth!Runaways (vol 3) #10 – While this story is a step toward smoothing out my rough edges in comics, I did make one mistake repeatedly.   Fellow St. Ignatius alum Brian K. Vaughan created fantastic characters for this series and infused it with a pop culture awareness that felt real and current without being pandering.  I had a lot of fun playing with that.  One mistake though – I used my pop culture references.  And even though culture redeemed my GI Joe joke as relevant again – NO 16 year-old knows Small Wonder.

4. In General, I Am Still Learning! - Amelia Earhart Jungle Princess – To be 80% less glib, I should start by saying that I am still amazed by the work everyone did on this play (the first for The New Colony).  But the reviews completely disagreed over what was good and what was bungled about the play.  In fact, they disagreed on what the show WAS.   I expected a certain degree of that going in to what I, myself, referred to as an “action-adventure political dramedy.”   I knew what I wanted people to get from it, but that was getting lost in translation.   And once I realized that, I could see every misstep I made in the script.   Thankfully, though, New Colony let me write for them again.  And the results were much more successful.

But that’s part of it.  If you want to believe the praise, you have to also believe the criticism.

*- Mon dieu! Nous parle français!-

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