Category: Comic Geekery

Writing for the One Fan that Matters

Hi. I’m Jeremy Flagg. People call me Remy (my mom hates this) partly because Remy LeBeau is an amazing member of the X-Men and partly because it sounds classier than being called Jer. I’m known as the sarcastic guy. It’s a mantle I uphold with pride. But this post is less about me the author, and it’s about my fans.

I’m incredibly uncomfortable saying I have fans.

The first time I signed a book for a fan, I signed my name wrong. I shit you not, I forgot my name. I get incredibly anxious when I discuss my fans, because rock stars have fans. Actors have fans. Angry Birds has fans. Me? I have people who read my books and like them. Fans? Right? While this seems like a no-brainer for some, it’s humbling to say somebody other than me enjoys my work. Tonight I received an email stating that somebody used the word “favorite” when discussing my book. Favorite? I think of that word and I think chocolate lava cake…my book is on the same playing field as cake? I’m humbled.

Let me talk about my fans for a few minutes, they’re some of the coolest people I’ve ever met. Geeks. I love you. Selling my books at conventions, my fans are the ones who come to my table dressed as Rorschach from Watchmen one day and show up in their finest Kylo Ren costume the next. My fans are not only a geek, but they wear it with pride. They also know I have duct tape and I’m the first to mend breaking costumes. I wish I remembered to photograph more of their geeky awesomeness.

My fans are parents who have young kids who love to write. I had a young boy stop and talk to me about his “stories.” He told me epic tales of the adventures him and a friend from grade school craft. I believe they were the Adventures of Taco Man, what I believe will someday be a best seller. He spent a solid half hour telling me how he prefers to write than play outside. I listened, because someday I will be standing in line to have him sign my copy.

Tonight I opened my blog to write a post. I thought I’d write about my latest movie lists and I took a moment to check for any emails from fans. I found myself reading.

I am so incredibly humbled by this I found myself blushing. A real person took time from their life to compliment something I created. They felt strongly enough to leave encouragement to move forward. Reviews can be flattering (or devastating) but this was a human reaching out to another human. While I say I often write for myself, truth be told, I am writing for the kid I used to be. I’m writing for that geek who hid in the closet afraid to admit he was passionate about things other people remarked as silly or childish.

I write for this fan.

My fans have a sense of humor. They laugh in an awkward way that makes us all laugh. My fans are fierce masters of their fandoms. My fans get excited when new superhero trailers are leaked online. My fans know random obscure sci-fi books nobody has read before. My fans argue if Alien is a better movie than Aliens. My fans recognize at my core, I am a big kid. My fans. If I say it enough maybe I’ll get comfortable? My fans, they’re the reason I open my computer and write when I’m not in the mood.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is, thanks for being a fan. Everything I write is for you.

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Bangor Geeks Represented For Third Year

As you can see, the Bangor Comic & Toy Convention did not disappoint. This year I decided to have some fun and treat it less like a vending opportunity and more like attending a con with a permanent bench. Chris MacMillan, the organizer of BCTC continues to put on a great show that mixes a diverse set of interests from superheroes to anime, to MTG to consoles, and wrestlers to cosplayers. I continue to be amazed that hiding not too far from my hometown in rural Maine, there are geeks waiting for a chance to break out their costumes and delve into a world of storytelling, art, and collectibles.

Like last year, I was seated next to Amanda Kahl, a long time friend, illustrator, and graphic novelist. We had the opportunity to geek out, talk shop, and bounce ideas off one another. Unlike last year, I was smart and brought back up, a friend from my University of Maine Farmington days, Dan Johnston came and sat with me. Unfortunately, his iron will isn’t quite the same and he found himself victim to the amazing baubles of several vendors. I do have to admit, he scored some amazing artwork I’m a little jealous of.

The best part of it isn’t just meeting new fans, but seeing familiar faces for the second year in a row. I had multiple people say, “Loved your last book, gonna grab your two new ones.” I’m a bit more secure with signing books, well, at least until they ask for a personal message and then I just turn into an idiot. I had the chance to talk to hopeful writers and even a young man in the prime of his grade school years telling me about his awesome comic book adventures. Really, how much more happy can a guy get when he’s staring at a mini version of himself thirty years ago.

A special thanks has to go out to Chris MacMillan for putting on the BCTC. I’m glad I have a place near home where I can sell books and take in the geek culture, but it’s something much bigger than that. Growing up in a small town in northern Maine, we read our comics in the comfort of our rooms and felt a little shame about chasing down super villains with our heroes. Now, decades later, geekdom is marked with pride and you can’t help but think there is a new generation of creators being made because of this exposure. So thanks, for me, and the soon-to-be’s.

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Logan – No Post Credit Scene (No Spoilers)

When the superhero genre is filled with over the top special effects and relies on the powers of its cast, Logan is a quiet movie focusing instead on the story of a man out-of-place and past his prime. When you’re a soldier without a war, and what you do best is kill, what does the world have left for you?

I’m not a fan of Wolverine in the comics. Much like Superman, his powers have been seen in a capacity that makes him Godlike and we lose the potential to fear for the character. Torn in half, decimated by a nuke, even the lost of his razor claws have done little more than slow him. Logan however quickly grounds us, bringing us into a world not far off in the future and with a character who is past his prime and barely surviving.

The story is loosely adapted from Old Man Logan, and fans of the series knew it would be altered due to property licensing. What we were given is story about a washed up mutant, trying to protect the one man who has always supported him. When a woman appears in his life claiming he has a daughter, Xavier, ever the headmaster, wants to see the child to safety. Logan on the other hand, he is an old man stuck in his ways, seeing the possibility for loss, tries to stick to his loner ways.

Tucked away in an abandoned mining silo, Patrick Stewart’s Xavier spends time caught between a man losing his mind and the sagely professor. Patrick Stewart and Hugh Jackman have a bond throughout this film that reminds us their lives have been interconnected for the last seventeen years. In heartfelt speeches and moments of tenderness between them, we see Logan’s regard and respect for the only man who has ever been a father to him. The movie goes to the extent of having them join another family for dinner to drive home the point. Sitting around a dinner table telling stories of their adventures in thinly veiled disguises, we see people, not heroes.

Similar to barn scene in Avengers 2, where we meet Hawkeye’s family, the characters are given a moment to be human. The scene is interrupted, as is the life of a superhero, but for a good long time, we are left with thought-provoking questions, something the genre is not known for giving us. What lengths would I go to protect my family? Could I be a father? Would I find commonalities with those different than me? What if my child was “different?” How does the most powerful mind feel about the fragility of his body? Will the world remember me when I’m gone?

While the movie features Hugh Jackman’s title character, a role he has grown and expanded to new layers of complexity, it is Patrick Stewart who steals every scene. Having killed hundreds of people with his telepathy as a seizure erupted and he lost control, we’re given a man whose strongest attribute is slowly failing him. Having already lost the use of his legs, we’ve always found comfort in him being able to step outside his body and move freely with his telepathy. Wrapped in self-doubt, grief, and blame for the atrocities he has caused, we see a man with no legacy, a man who tried to change the world and failed. His own mind has turned against him, and we understand his frailty. And while this sounds gut wrenching, we find ourselves often laughing at his old crotchety nature and the sharp jabs he gives to Logan. The playful Patrick Stewart we’ve grown to love, the one wearing matching outfits with Sir Ian McKellen also has a strong presence. I find myself frequently wondering where the role ended and where the actor began?

I should also include Dafne Keen for her role as Laura. X-23 is a complicated character because she simply does not understand who or what she is. Manufactured for war, she is the biological daughter of Wolverine, but has never known a father. While Logan’s mythos is wrapped in mystery from the fateful day within WeaponX, Laura has been bred for war. Watching her fight is amazing, probably the best choreographing I’ve seen in years, but it’s the moments in which she lets down her guard and becomes a child that we connect with her.  She matches Logan in intensity, rage, fighting, and even comical moments, the pair together were magnificent in being reflections of one another, a true father/daughter dynamic.

I can continue to gush, and remind people that in the 70 years of comics we’ve read, we’ve grown to love the people more than the powers. We see momentary glimpses to the young cigar smoking Canuck, but more than that, we see the story of a man who is ready to say goodbye.

Since 2000, I have had the opportunity to watch my passion play out in front of me. For good or for bad, I have been along for the ride. Seventeen years I’ve watched Hugh Jackman play my angry uncle and Patrick Stewart play my second father. While I am sad to see them leave, they are giving the characters the farewells they deserve.

Now, we wait for the Next Generation.

<SPOILER>
As the title says, there is no post credit scene. I spent a good chunk of the movie trying to figure out where the next movie (even if not starring Hugh Jackman) would come into play? Would X-23 assume the mantle and have a movie of her own? Do we see the potential of the New Mutants? When the screen remained blank, I felt cheated. It took me time to process this, but overall, I’m content that there is no continuance. Fox set out to say farewell to the characters and the moment I realized they were gone, I came to grips with what type of story this was. No “to be continued,” simply a story of a man’s last actions.

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A Month of Comic Geekdom In Review

What happens when twenty-three authors and artists share a love of comics? You get a month long event of amazing unique perspectives about the comics that shaped them in their youth and continue to shape them. From social commentary, to fandoms, to geeking out, I had an amazing time reading these articles and finding people who share my passion for illustrated stories. If you missed a story, here’s a recap of the last month.

Watchmen: A Darkness Witnessed in the Heart of Men by Jeremy Flagg
Extraordinary Assaults by Jeff Deck
Gold Age of Comic Book Movies by Thomas S Flowers III
The Resurrection of “Street Level” Heroes by Errick Danger Nunnally
Modern Heroes: Where Myth Meets Reality by Joshua Guess
Reality & Continuity, Or Why 9/11 Reveals Some Insights About Live-Action Superheroes by Lance Eaton
The Folly of Subcultural Gatekeeping, or WWXD? by Amanda Kahl
Once Upon a Time, We Were All Kitty Pryde of the X-Men by Jeremy Flagg
I get it, but it’s still okay to love Superman! by Eddie Jakes
Necessary Evils by Steve Van Samson
Again with the Superheroes?! A friendly, Well-Intentioned Rant. by Angi Shearstone
X-tinction Agenda, An Arc to End All Arcs by Jennifer Allis Provost
Escapism in Comics by Thomas Washburn Jr.
In a World of Heroes be the Purrfect Villainess by Cameron Garriepy
For the Love of Long Form Storytelling by Chris Duryea
Comics Aren’t Just for the Boys: Girl Power by Amanda Pazzanese Minaker
What Comics Taught Me by Chris Philbrook
Marvel’s Jessica Jones – Not a Hero Because of Powers by E.J. Stevens
Adventures in Babysitting, But More Mutants by Trisha Wooldridge
They call him DOOM by James A. Moore
What’s with all the Nipples? Female Sexualization in Comics by April Hawks
Son of The Demon – The Batman the DCEU Needs by Martin Campbell
Comic Characters Who Need Their Own Movie by Max Bowen

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Comic Characters Who Need Their Own Movie

Over the past decade, comics have made the big transition from the printed page to the silver screen. It hasn’t been a flawless leap, and there are a few productions that I think we as a people wish had never seen the light of day [cough, Fantastic Four, cough]. Truly, it’s a great time to be a nerd, when one of the cornerstones of geek subculture has now become part of the mainstream, and it’s a little less cool to say that you know who Wolverine is.

But here’s the problem: Wolverine’s one of the few we know. In an industry with a dearth of possible stories, we’ve seen five Spider-Man movies, six starring the X-Men, and countless Avengers titles. While more are planned, it doesn’t look like the theatrical roster is going to expand by too much. So, I decided to throw my two cents and comprise a list of characters, some from Marvel and others from different companies, that I think deserve their own movie.

Darkhawk
Regarded as a C-List hero that gets to occasionally team up with the big boys, Darkhawk has in fact saved the entire world and gone toe-to-toe with some of the heavy-hitters of the Marvel Universe [the guy was part of the Infinity Crusade, I think that at least moves him to B+ List]. His back story starts out like many heroes—as a kid, Chris Powell basically fell into his powers, after he used an alien amulet to transform into an android powerhouse.

Unlike many, his course to heroism was somewhat erratic. His mentors include Venom and The Punisher, folks whose idea of due process is a deciding whether to skin the bad guys alive or just cave in their skulls. It’s no surprise that he’s questioned the wisdom of leaving the bad guys in one piece.

Now, let’s talk powers—Darkhawk has enough for two characters. Super strength, an energy shield, a force blast, flight, even some kind of nightmare face that terrifies anyone he looks at. Yeah, his outfit makes him look like a cyberpunk Power Ranger, but he makes it work.

Multiple Man
Jamie Madrox’s own powers have tried to kill him. There, I think that’s all I need to say.

What? I need to do more. Fine, fine….

Madrox is a mutant with the power to create a duplicate of himself through physical impact. Basically, you punch him and get two to fight with. Have fun with that. He’s a member of X-Factor, a government -run mutant team because sure, the government has always had the best interests of mutants at heart.

Despite some questionably judgment in allegiences, Madrox has proven himself a hero time and again. The guy can make as many duplicates as he needs, and as far as I know, there’s no limit to this ability. He’s basically a one-man army. More than that, he can see, hear, and experience anything his copies do. Send one to infiltrate a Hydra base, but he gets killed? No worries, Madrox Prime [as he’s sometimes referred to] saw everything he needs to stop their fiendish plan.

But that’s not all! He can learn anything his copies learn just by absorbing them back into his body. He once sent a copy to spend years learning martial arts, then gained all the skills in a moment. If he gets hurt in battle, drawing the copies back into himself can heal his wounds. It’s actually a wonder that he bothers being part of a team.

Mice Templar
OK, this would be likely be multiple films, but the premise is amazing: infusing Celtic and Norse legends to tell a tale of destiny, revenge, and war. On the surface this seems like standard Disney fare: an army of mice taking on the evil rat empire, but the similarity ends very quickly. And very, very bloody

While this certainly has the potential to be a good animated series, let’s just say the parental warning would be high for this one. It’s about as gory as the movie Braveheart, and has a complex, ever-evolving story that follows a young mouse named Karic, someone who wants absolutely nothing to do with the destiny thrust upon him as a great savior, only agreeing once he sees that he’s the only thing saving his kind from complete annihilation. So, no pressure, right?

Ink
A lesser-known member of the second incarnation of the New Mutants, Tattoo isn’t actually a mutant, and has no powers that are his and his alone. Instead, he employs a mutant tattoo artist, whose gift allows him to make any ink he draws a power. Draw the biohazard sign on your hand: congrats, you can now broadcast the plague to anyone around you. A set of wings on your heels: heads up, you can fly. Hell, the guy even gave himself the powers of the Phoenix. Yeah, the same one that decimates worlds for fun. That Phoenix.

To be fair, Tattoo isn’t a real hero, and only gives himself these powers for his own gain, but when the chips are down, he steps up and does the right thing, even when that “right thing” puts him in a coma.


Max Bowen founded Citywide Blackout five years ago to support and promote Boston’s music scene. The show has grown significantly over the years, with many different co-hosts bringing their distinct personalities, experience, and expertise to the table. This show wouldn’t exist if not for their hard work.

Today, Citywide Blackout airs on WEMF every Thursday at 9 p.m. with co-hosts Matt Zappa and Tom Crossman. The show shines the spotlight on musicians, artists, writers, filmmakers, and much more.

In addition, Max is a regular contributor to The Noise Magazine, which covers the Boston music scene through live show and CD reviews and in-depth articles. He has worked as a journalist for Gatehouse Media for the last 10 years. Today, he’s the editor of the Westwood Press and Medfield Press newspapers.

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