Black Comic Book Festival – Bright Star Rising

Black Comic Book Fair 2017

Black Comic Book Fair 2017

It’s the Little Con That Could – from its very first year in 2012 with a modest attendance, The Black Comic Book Festival has reached its 5th year and it’s grown remarkably. This year, the event expanded to two days, Friday and Saturday with full programming till 6-7 PM.

It was very gratifying to see so many parents and children scoping out the works of independent artists and writers. Even when it got to critical mass on Saturday afternoon and the Schomburg Center (for Research in Black Culture) couldn’t contain more, there was that spirit I’ve encountered at comic cons – keep it moving. Shuffle, side step, angle the body and shoulder through or just stop till a space opens. No biggie. For sure no one was leaving without seeing it all.

So I got my belated copy of WATSON AND HOLMES Vol. 2. Can hardly believe I missed it when it came out in May! I’ll never underestimate the value of social media links again. Also excited by BLACK, a new series under an independent publisher, Black Mask. I bought issue 1 and after reading it during a lull in panels, went back for the next two – it’s serious and fun. Another fan is born.

Cosplay Live at BCBF 2017

Cosplay Live at BCBF 2017

And the Cosplay was real! I can say these enthusiastic costumers could grace the best of comic cons anywhere! Storm was strongly represented by at least 3 wonderful variations, right down to the whites of her eyes. Luke Cage could not look better in crayola yellow heels and tied yellow blouse. I loved them, and the audience roared their appreciation as well. Well done, all!

A tribute panel to artist, comic book creator, publisher and entrepreneur David Anyabwile for his beloved comic book series, BROTHERMAN, was very inspiring. He spoke earnestly of his childhood, how a caring family life nurtured his love of drawing and telling stories about being black and proud.

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The festival was developed by Deirdre Hollman, Director of Education and Exhibitions at the Schomburg Center, who was seeking new ways to enhance educational projects for the Junior Scholars Program. After connecting with John Jennings and Jerry Craft, visionary artists, the idea of a comic festival utilizing black talent became their mission. They have been united in continuing to improve the festival, with great success, indicated by the increasing attendees and artists each year.

The Schomburg Center has been a benevolent host to this event, as they also maintain library research hours while keeping it all orderly upstairs. Big hugs and thanks for sharing.

It may seem small, but the Black Comic Book Festival is big where it counts – talented artists, attention worthy panels and unlimited creative energy that’s infectious. I hope this con keeps going and going till some child (or children) in the audience is one day a published comic artist or writer, sharing what they learned right where they learned it.

Missed it? It’s back next year – make it a date!

All photos by GF Hazard

Wake Up, NYCC


Is this any way to run a world class comic con?

Is this any way to run a world class comic con?

So, got my New York ComicCon 2015 tickets. Hooray, not.

I don’t like to quibble much if in a random drawing I don’t get picked, but today I must quibb. My fave hobby is going to NYCC, and has been for the past decade. The ups and downs of securing a ticket were minor, and I always got tickets. This year, it was a major mess. The queue system, which in 2014 utterly, totally whacked out the fair chances for tickets for hundreds, was used again this year. And produced exactly the same results.

Hit the NYCC order ticket button and nothing happens. You must go on Twitter or Facebook to find out there’s a different link, which the NYCC site should have taken you to. That ate up a good 5 seconds which was enough to send your aspirations into the black queue hole.

After getting in BQH at 12:02, I watched this overly congratulatory digital queue message as the show clix tab spinned eternally for the next 30 minutes. All the while I itched to refresh despite the queue page assuring me I didn’t need to, that my place in the line would forever be marked and I only needed to wait my turn but if I did refresh I would return to launch point. It was torturous to just sit and watch as tickets ticked away.

At about 12:22 or so, NYCC posts a message on Facebook that although demand has slowed the process, all is well with show clix although the NYCC site has frozen. Then they direct folks to show clix directly. Deja vu hit me hard. At 12:40 I knew I’d lost hope for VIP tickets and dropped to hopes for 4 day at least. And the show clix tab keeps on spinning, minutes just keep on ticking.

By 12:55 my hopes were on fumes. Can ANY mass ticket handlers have servers this slow? I was at a commercial computer and it was quickly getting expensive to watch a static screen. NYCC flashed another message to NOT use their site, and again provided a link to show clix. At this point I wondered if show clix even knew we were coming.

My spirits vacillated with the posts to NYCC Facebook page. Very few posts were about success. Most were screaming at error after error message in the queue; some people even got timed out! A repeated refrain: “This is f***g ridiculous”. I liked one response: “how can a site run by and for nerds not work?”

Like I said, I at least got tickets, after I finally got to the order page and plugged in for 4 day and got dropped into BQH and then back twice until the 4 day were sold out and managed to get Sat & Sun only to get a white screen of death for 25 more minutes, and then “can’t display page” twice. Then and only then did the page allow me to finally give them my money. So kind of them.

All told, I was online attempting to order NYCC tickets for 2 HOURS. And scrounged out only single day tickets. Really, I love you guys at ReedPop, and Fensterman the Man. But after being propelled from deja vu to groundhog day this is straining my affections for NYCC.  The first convention had its crisis but NYCC learned quickly how to manage ticket holders and wannabe ticket holders. Yet last year’s gum-up is repeated with fanfare.

Let’s add hot sauce to this cooked goose: eBay and StubHub had tickets on sale while many of us were still in BQH. Scalpers pose as fans faster than fans, I guess. Let’s not forget that on a timed application you are required to complete a survey. No pressure, though.

Yes, some people were going to get tickets and some won’t, that’s a given. But listen to the howling of your fans on Facebook and Twitter and know that ya gotta do better. Going with show clix again seemed a tactical faux pas; they still couldn’t handle the traffic which we were assured they could. The energy and disappointment and bad feelings around this consecutive ticket buying mess will be a blot on an enterprise that used to bring such anticipation. Now it brings the dreads, jitters, and worse – second thoughts.

Bring back the fun before the fun, NYCC. Help us look forward to going again in 2016.


Musing #1

Just taking a moment on a borrowed computer to cater to my need to return to my fave activity.

Just thinking of the reviews stacking up (Superman, Star Trek Into Darkness, NYCC 2013…) makes me sad. But also redoubles my efforts to get my computer back on track.

Soon, oh soon Lords of the Mechanical Magic Kingdoms.

Come back soon and see!


IRON MAN 3: A Man with Sensitivity

Tony Stark show his sensitive side in Iron Man 3

Tony Stark shows his sensitive side in Iron Man 3

“It may sound absurd, but won’t you concede that even heroes have the right to bleed. It’s not easy to be me.” from SUPERMAN by Five for Fighting

This time around Tony Stark aka IRON MAN can’t keep his quips as light as he used to. After his recent adventures in New York with the Avengers, Tony starts feeling the weight of the too-close-to-death clashes in his life.  This Tony is feeling feelings and it’s gumming up his works, so to speak.

And I loved that about this outing. Tony Stark is grown up. He’s the man beneath the can’t-touch-this shell, facing the costs of winning or losing. He wants to keep what really matters, and who – Pepper Potts.Tony admits how deeply he feels about her and the worthlessness of his life without her. One of my favorite scenes. But Tony hasn’t thrown in the wrench yet; the movie unspools with some really cool Stark bad-ass touches. Villains sprout up and deflect or deflate as fast as the suit’s thrusters. There was action to spare, with special effects that worked overtime. Well, except for the plane rescue; looked like the producers made cutbacks there although it was certainly not predictable. Especially loved the stark (oh, pun) switch from sunny Cal to wintry whiteness.

Big caveats to Ben Kingsley. I love him anyway but he was so off his lofty acting grid yet made it all hang together. His final scene was just a masterful touch. Big love to Gwyneth Paltrow, back in heels and peeling them off. Her Pepper is a perfect fit for Tony, and their screen chem is still magic on the third round. Don Cheadle got to go commando without the suit and that always makes my movie day. Oh, and as for the after-credits burn: I left with a big smile.

So if I haven’t said it, I loved IRON MAN 3. Fast, crunchy, funny and touchy-feely; a great ride especially on the rainy day that I saw it. If there’s a vote, I’m down for IRON MAN 4.

NYCC 8 is Coming!

We made it through NYCC 7, 2012 without VIP tickets, toughing it out on frigid cement floors, blood draining from our legs on extended waiting lines, and standing shoulder to hip to toe with fellow 4 day ticket holders. And WE LOVED IT!

However, when we wound up in the FIRST wave of the 2013 ticket sales, guess who jumped all over the VIP tickets? Hmm? Yes we did and scored them in the 48 hour window, so yours truly are sitting pretty and counting days till October!

Man I just LOVE you guys at NYCC – can’t wait!

Fashionable Paley Fall Previews

Lucy Liu (as Watson) and Jonny Lee Miller (Holmes)

Sept. 6: CBS Premieres – Elementary and Vegas

Auditorium nicely filled at start time, and as usual, started on time. A great touch with these preview nights is the refreshments, usually salsa, chips or sometimes cheese and crackers with soft drinks and water. Tonight was different; we got goodie bags, just like at Fashion Week! We were fashionable at the Paley Center! Nibbles such as Kit Kat bar (my fave), M&Ms mini, Famous Amos chocolate chip cookies, a stick of string cheese, two sizes of pretzels and a neat 8 oz bottle of water. I missed the chips and dips where attendees sought of mingled as they gently jostled for eats. But I can work with the Goody Bag.

ELEMENTARY – A much publicized entry featuring a favorite actress, Lucy Liu and Jonny Lee Miller, a personable actor I don’t know well. At first glance this Sherlock Holmes did a creditable ‘Monk’ refit, with quirky movements and disjointed remarks that no one could fathom. Thankfully that impression faded, as he has no phobias to work around, lest that be fear of failure. Holmes is full of himself as Watson later tells him. Miller is a good fit for a genius just returning from his unintelligent binge with substance abuse.

Lucy Liu is the Watson to this Holmes, brought in by Holmes’ father to oversee the son’s new freedom from drug rehab. Actually he escaped on the day he was to be released, jump starting Watson’s role as his post-rehab caretaker/keeper (or as Holmes put it, his addict-sitter). She seems vulnerable to Holmes’ overbearing know-it-allness at first but she comes across as observant and capable.  It turns out Watson is a doctor, a former surgeon with a sad past, all of which comes to light under one of  Holmes’ casual, brutal observations.

I quickly liked this duo. The dialogue was sharp and uncluttered although it took a moment to absorb Holmes’ distinct British accent in the midst of the Yanks. The two actors have a visible chemistry, and their first meeting was a great example of their coming misunderstandings and revelations. First up: Watson is not a pushover, and Holmes learns it fast. Yet there is a quick bond loosely formed in this pilot; whether it’s mutual respect for the other’s intelligence or a grudging admission that they can help or need each other will show itself in time.

I felt the genesis of his consulting status was a bit thin: his NYC detective  friend of a decade ago worked with Holmes in London and now  he calls upon his just former drug addicted friend for help?  Hmm. Still, the story captures the magic of Holmes’ wit and exceptional skills of deduction well enough in the pilot. I love the supporting cast of detectives. Holmes’ people skills on the other hand, will definitely be fine-tuned by a no-nonsense former surgeon with a brilliant eye for detail as well.

The first episode successfully snagged my attention for more of this show. There were some very funny moments throughout (the theater scene was a hoot), peppered with bloody bodies and plot thickenings and twists. The sets are scrumptious, making nice use of the brownstone’s classic lines to underscore this Sherlock update.  This ep was just a bit foreseeable, but I can tell there are some surprises in store. With Holmes and Watson, that’s elementary (I hope).

VEGAS review to follow – MM

NYCC Closing In – Hurrahs and Lamentations

NYCC #6 – the host of the most – of anything sci fi!


Lover of sci fi that I am, the coming of the New York Comic Con in 2006 was like water for the thirsty. I can hardly wait for NYCC#7! Yes, I’m a Founding Attendee of this second biggest multimedia sci-fi convention in America (San Diego Comic Con is first – for now). And yes that meant I transcended the trauma of that first show where hundreds of ticketed fans couldn’t gain entry due to overcrowding! That was all straightened out by the second show and needless to say I was hooked. The guests, the panels, the vendors, the fan pageantry – the fans showed up and wanted it all.

I watched diligently for tickets to go on sale – not gonna leave me left out of the fun! I scored con-buddy Eclipse’s and my 4-day tickets for October. Then waited anxiously with finger to speed dial for notice of VIP ticket sales – ready, set…



For three years we managed to make the VIP deadline and this year, nada. Woe, woe is we. There is no nicer advantage to have than getting in first to the vendors and IGN, having a lounge and getting a cool official Con swag bag. How cruel is fate to distract my finger from dialing at the critical moment.

So we have to plan (well, differently than before anyway). First off, we do have 4-day tickets which is VIP-light; we get to do Thursday with VIPs and press and go to the party opener. That Thursday kick off was a jumper last year and definitely want to do that again. Then we plot line-queuing strategy; how early is too early? Rest assured there will be a long line by the time the sun rises on that Friday. Dawn? Midnight? Three a.m.?

Last ditch strategy: win VIP tickets from somewhere! Is there a kind, comics con Faery waiting to gift deserving, devoted NYCC fans with VIP tickets? Here we are, we love you and thank you and…

Well, when it’s all said and done, we’ll be there for the best 4-day geek fest the Northeast gets to have every year. Salivating over the guest line up, and will mark up my con planner with neat fan and guest panels. Maybe we’ll have the stamina to secure a place on the IGN line for seats somewhere in the auditorium. With the addition of the new wide screens on both sides of the stage, we’ll be able to see the guests pretty much wherever we sit (barring Klingons or other large heads in front of us). Hey, don’t judge us – NYCC spoiled us!)

It’s a wrap; stay tuned to see if a comics con Faery grants our fondest geek-wish.

Or – see you at The Con!

Time Travel to the Past at the Paley: Classic Dr. Who

Digitally Re-mastered Classic Dr. Who Screening at Paley Center
Sat., June 30, 2012 1:00

Screened: Resurrection of the Daleks, Parts I & II

Dr. Who: Resurrection of the Daleks

Cool double header for sci fi peeps: classic Dr. Who episodes: Resurrection of the Daleks part 1 & II

Met the Fifth Doctor all over again! Snappy preppy psychedelic dresser is an eye catcher, and he doesn’t wear an eight foot scarf. What a treat to see this early Dr. Who episode on the big screen. The picture was clean, very little 1980s graininess. Nice leap into the action: mysterious strangers chased by dour London Bobbies? Devilish mystery! Cut back and forth to the Tardis seesawing in a rogue time stream and we’re off!

The opening shots of the grey-toned warehouse district were beautiful and moody. Just enough grain was left visible to establish an urban decay in progress. Add to that the incidental music – a spooky organ peeled off wary notes. Then the massacre of unarmed fugitives by London coppers – ew, nothing nice about these guys.

Had to smile (although others laughed) at the ‘turbulence’ in the Tardis. The actors did barely credible tumbles as the ship swooped and dived. It was clear that the camera was doing most of the movement, like early Star Trek scenes. Even some of the death scenes got laughs as actors did wildly different death throes and screams. The most laughs were when the Daleks succumbed to the lethal virus and seemed to puke their bionic guts out. The special effects of course were early generation so all’s forgiven.

The story was hectic or eclectic: The Doctor trying to find out how they got caught in the time stream, while a crew on an isolated prison ship fights invaders. The twain meets as one of the Companions, Turlough, accidently finds the time stream elevator and ends up dodging Daleks and their human henchmen on their ship. Really, those Daleks must be super salesmen behind their toneless voices the way they seem to cajole these humans into working for them.

The poor crew of the prison ship, a mix of scientists, medical personnel and military people, blunder their way to their deaths. Not that they didn’t try; they almost defeated the Daleks at the airlock; they almost set the self-destruct, and finally one almost made it to the finish. Funny that the medical doctor had more strategic know-how than the appointed military observer.

Just seeing a different, earlier Doctor was nifty. Noting how they pass on such similar characteristics – the swagger, the bon mots, the rapid-fire geek speak – just works so well. The interiors of the Tardis get more cramped with time, it seems. This Doctor’s ship was a minimalist designer’s dream. A nice touch if deliberate, as it indicates that though Time Lords regenerate, it’s a slightly different set of nuts and bolts for the ship.

And pity Tegan, the petite pretty Companion, stuck roaming the universe in a cutesy short skirt and pumps. I liked her, but really felt down when she declined to roam anymore. I’d forgotten this was the episode she called it quits. But it was a good one; she’d just witnessed wholesale death and destruction, not to mention her own near demise. Very opportune time to reassess one’s life choices.

Davros had a neat make up job. Loved that they made his lips the most mobile and his eyes the least; only once did I see his eye peep from behind the shriveled lids. Talk about denial – here was the mastermind behind the Daleks who rolled around in half a Dalek casing, and he didn’t think he was a Dalek? Rough break! And fitting.

All told, the Resurrection of the Daleks was an eclectic mix of elements that worked mainly because this was another (if not original) outing with the irrepressible Daleks. The Doctor was practically a mop-up man for this one, as all the prison crew died, there were casualties he wasn’t there to save, another character, Stien, did the actual destruction, and the Dalek’s chief human mercenary got away. Actually I liked that he’s still afoot for further cold, calculated mischief (if he ever does reappear); good bad guys are so hard to love/hate.

The theater was nearly full for these showings (no, they weren’t like me, mainly there to get out of the inferno outside). The trivia portion was well received as were the prizes – dvds of the episodes on screen. Mixed audience with over 49 and twentysomethings well represented, and a nice number of children under 14. So it was a cool afternoon of long time favorites for some and new favorites for others.

More of these, please! Oh, wait, there is more: three more, an episode on each of the last Saturdays of the month till September. Kudos, Paley!

MUST Another One Bite the Dust? SYFY Cancels SANCTUARY

Maybe it shouldn’t hit me so hard. After all, the show has been off the radar for a suspiciously long time. Other shows had the word that they were green light or dead light, and SYFY kept silent. So on May 21 the announcement finally meandered down the pike – SANCTUARY was no-go for season five.

Cancelled? Who said that?

According to the news from, the head-honchos were everything that was solicitous and praising of the show, crew, producers, actors, noisy pideons, et al. But the bottom line was that they had no vision for continuing the series. Howl though fans did, there was never anyone to contact about the show’s future. Methinks that was probably by design as networks just don’t like being blasted by thousands of emails from disgruntled fans like yours truly.

Too, too bad. There’s some conflicting emotions about SANCTUARY’s course and whether the show was on pointe with the audience or not. Especially when so many noses got out of joint after the episode where main character Dr. Helen Magnus locked lips with another female character. For myself, the show was usually magical. The actors carried off the fact that they were usually acting to an empty room, to which SFX (virtual) surroundings were later added. The show was the first to use the Red One Camera technology on air (Wikipedia:”Sanctuary was the first television series in North America to use the Red One camera exclusively”). It was also the first show to migrate from the internet to television.

I didn’t just follow Amanda Tapping from Stargate SG-1/Atlantis, although that’s not so bad. I liked the idea of the show, of the woman who barely aged and who made her life’s work the protection of the vulnerable, ‘different’ people among us. And everyone’s gorgeous, even Biggie. I wished the stories had been more consistently quirky and original. Still it was a grand outing, a flare in the fog of mainstream programming. I’ll look forward to treating myself some cozy evenings with popcorn and SANCTUARY marathons.

So long, SANCTUARY, we knew you well and salute your bright, short existence.

Ray Bradbury – A Literary Light Eternal

Ray Bradbury in AP photo

Ray Bradbury was THE author of my childhood. Rainy days, sunny days, any day with time to myself, and the book I was likely to be reading was one by Bradbury. There didn’t seem to be any better way to spend reading time than to immerse myself in his wonderful worlds written in his wonderful poetic, lyrical style, like The Illustrated Man and Golden Apples of the Sun. I marveled at how visual his writing was, as a young aspiring poet/writer; his work inspired me to make every word count.

Bradbury made science fiction more literature than pulp. His talent at characterization, story and plot lines were just undeniably the stuff of classic literature.The usually stuffy guardians of ‘what-is-good-literature’ school, that disdained science fiction, couldn’t shut him out. To wit, Fahrenheit 451 was required reading in many classes, right along with Whitman or Twain!

I’m going to dry my eyes and scout out some of the tributes to Bradbury online. Those I’ve read so far, on his website, on Twitter and elsewhere are moving and deeply sincere.

A rainy day in NYC, another perfect day to recall my favorite author and bask in his unique imagination. Rest in peace, dear Bradbury. Your star will shine forever in our hearts.

A couple of places to read tributes:

Ray Bradbury website:

Andrew Rosenthal’s Confessions of a Science Fiction Addict in NYTimes:

Note: Mr. Rosenthal closely echoed my feelings about Bradbury’s work having a definite literary character!