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Thursday, September 15, 2022

Interview with Gail Simone at 2022 Ottawa Comiccon

Ottawa was graced with Gail Simone's presence from September 9 to September 11, 2022, at the Ottawa Comiccon and, naturally, we just couldn't resist the opportunity to meet her in person and ask about our favorite DC books she'd co-created and/or written. 

The weekend saw a steady stream of Simone fans lining up to chat with her and get comics signed, and we felt incredibly lucky to get twenty minutes of her time. Rather than transcribe the entire 20 minute interview (a lot of it was talking about Ottawa in general), I'm just going to jump to the good bits. Since, as per usual, my interviews are all over the place, I re-structured this article so everything made chronological sense.


Gail Simone: "I grew up in a really isolated area -- outside of a very small town -- so we just didn't have access to things. But we'd go to flea markets and garage sales when those things would happen, and I was getting frustrated with things I was reading as a young girl -- y'know, the fairy tales all had to have a prince come in so that you could live happily ever after, any adventures that happened were accidental because you couldn't go out and seek them on your own. Even though I love Alice in Wonderland, she still falls down a rabbit hole accidentally. Same with Wizard of Oz, she gets taken up in a twister and taken somewhere. And so, I was at a sale and I saw a cover of a Justice League comic and Wonder Woman was on it. I had never heard of her before, I didn't know anything about her, but I could see that she was a princess and seemed like she could make her own decisions and kick butt and didn't need to be in the kind of story that I was used to reading. I was between 8 to 10 years-old at this point. Then, when I was watching Batman '66 and Barbara Gordon came on screen, and this show left quite an impression on me. It was colorful, it was loud, and there was this really smart red-headed character -- and I thought "this is a world I could get involved in" and from that point on I just read everything I could." 

Yvonne Craig as Barbara Gordon/Batgirl in Batman 66


Simone: "I didn't really have anybody that I read comics with at the time, and I don't even know if anyone knew I read comics because I was a huge theatre nerd and a huge English literature nerd, and I had skipped all but one year of English in high school...but I read all the time, that's what I did. I read everything but I would put the comic behind the Hemmingway or Steinbeck so that no one could really see it -- it was my 'dirty little secret', at the time." 

Simone: "When I was getting ready to graduate from high school at 16 and I had to talk to the heads of the departments and answer questions, and the head of the English department asked me "Don't you ever read any junk? Do you only just read this stuff?" (implying Hemmingway, Steinbeck, Orwell, Twain, etc...) and I replied with "Oh no! I just love this stuff, I don't read junk!" [laughs] I never did tell them I read comics which now I wish I would've, but that's kind of what the state of people's opinions were at the time -- it would've been something else for people to make fun of me for, and in my heart I didn't want to be made fun of that for that."


Simone: "Where I'm from in Oregon we had an amazing comic book store at the time. Right around when I was  in college, I was a really big fan of Love & Rockets, ElfQuest, Frank Miller's Daredevil, Claremont's X-Men,... all of those things. I read a little sampling of everything, as I could afford it. Anything I could get a hold of. Libraries weren't carrying this stuff at the time. My buying and collecting was really sporadic at that time due to funds, I really loved the more adult and darker things that were happening: Alan Moore's Swamp Thing, Black Orchid, Hellblazer, Neil Gaiman's Sandman... all of that."  


Simone: "The Simpsons for Bongo Comics was my first actual comic book writing. I was writing a column online for Comic Book Resources (CBR), and it was getting a lot of attention in the industry... including with editors. Scott Shaw, who I'd made friends with online... I am a big fan of his Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew work... he was working for The Simpsons at the time, and he told me they were really looking for humor writers and that I should talk to them. He just kept talking about and bringing it up, and finally he told me he just gave them my number and they'd contact me. So they called me and asked me to write for them, and I was in shock. I just decided to try it because... well... how many times does someone get an opportunity like this?"

panel from a Simpsons story Gail Simone wrote.
Lil' Goodfellas from Simpsons Comics #50 published by Bongo Comics (2000)


Simone: "This was before and around the same time as my CBR column started. A group of people helped get that website together. I coined the name and a lot of people came up with the list of examples, and then the rest is history... it's now used in Hollywood and has become a trope. This was a direct reference to Green Lantern v3 #54 (1994) where GL Kyle Rayner's girlfriend is killed by Major Force and shoved in a refrigerator for the hero to discover. In the 90s I was reading a bit of everything when I could get my hands on it -- I'm not a collector and, because of the lack of availability in my area, I didn't always have consistent runs. So, yeah, I definitely remember Knightfall and Death of Superman. The death of Superman event was HUGE. But I was definitely not reading as many comics in the 90s as I was when I was younger, and that's when I sat down to wonder why...  because comics had always been a part of my life upon first discovering them. And then I started to realize that a lot of things were happening to female characters just to forward the male character's story. For example: Barbara Gordon was shot in the spine, and for a long time Wonder Woman was de-powered,...y'know, there was just so much going on like that. So I started asking the question "Is that why more women are not reading comics?", because my favorite characters weren't being treated very well during that 90s era." 

The infamous issue the website is named after.


Simone: "DC sought me out. I was at my first convention [San Diego Comicon] and signing at the Marvel Comics table (I had previously released a few Deadpool comics at the time), and Geoff Johns from DC came over and told me that he'd like me to meet the editor because they were going to be doing a Birds of Prey comic (because the television show was just about to come out). "I'd like you to meet the editor," he said, and I was like "Can you even go from a Marvel table at a convention to meet a DC editor?" Being from a small town, I didn't know the etiquette... so this was all very new to me. I ended up meeting Lysa Hawkins, who was the editor at the time, and got to know what they working looking for -- and the I pitched an idea. All from there, Birds of Prey happened."


Justin for DC in the 80s: "I was legit impressed with the amount of obscure villains that appeared in the Villains United series you wrote. We're talking C-level villains I haven't seen since the 1980s. At first I thought, wow she must have a pretty deep memory of 80s DC books and read extensively, but now I'm learning that you only read sporadically. So was that your first side quest at DC? Poring through the history of DC and reading all the Who's Who?"

Simone: [laughs] "Well... I have a decent knowledge of comics, it's just that I'm not the person who could say "in issue #102 such-and-such a character appeared"..  my brain just doesn't work that way. But the truth of that is I had a Suicide Squad pitch in at DC -- which I think every writer does because we ALL love Suicide Squad -- and they came to me and said "we're going to do a book called Villains United and we'd like you to write it? We like the way you're writing villains". I was so excited. This was going to be a really amazing assignment, I couldn't believe they were asking me to write a Suicide Squad-like book. So I started asking if I could use the Joker, the Penguin, Mister Freeze, and all of these other bat-villains in the series and the answer was NO to all of it. I thought to myself "why are they asking me to write a villains book when I'm not allowed to use any of the villains?"... and the answer was that they were being used elsewhere in stories. So, the stubborn part of me that likes to cause trouble [laughs], started thinking "How can I make this book interesting and about villains?". So I started thinking about who I could use that they wouldn't say NO to... and one of the characters was Catman." 

Catman went from a D-list bat-villain to one of the bad boys of the DCU under Simone's writing.

Simone: "I really thought that Catman could have the potential to be the best tracker/hunter in the DC universe because we didn't really have one at that time. So I pitched that. He'd been in Africa for a period of time and he's remade himself, and I gave them the pitch and they were like "whatever, Gail. This is weird." But then when [artist] Dale [Eaglesham] sent in a one-page art piece of Catman standing on a cliff in Africa, in barely-a-loin cloth, with his hair in the breeze, lookin' pretty fine [laughs], DC said "okay, now we get it." So they allowed that. And then I created Scandal Savage, Ragdoll Jr and the Parademon. So it was basically me trying to find a team of villains DC would allow me to use -- that was how the Secret Six happened."       

Justin: "How did you end up with Bane and the Mad Hatter?"

Simone: "Mad Hatter I asked for and was allowed him. For Bane, DC asked me to put him in. The film [The Dark Knight Rises] was going to be coming out eventually, and he needed to be used and built back up again. I did NOT want Bane. All I knew of Bane, at that time, was that he was a big, hulking guy that was on some sort of drug and he broke Batman's back. I just didn't see a role for him in the Secret Six. But they asked me to do it, and I kind of liked the challenge, and I thought "How could I write this character so he fits into the Secret Six and doesn't undo anything from his past characterization, but kind of builds on it?" So that's when came up with him and Scandal having that father/daughter relationship. I just wanted to add some texture to it. Now I love Bane and I love writing him."

Catman and Bane
panel from Secret Six #9 (2009)


Justin: "You wrote the All-New Atom series featuring Ryan Choi as the Atom. Just had to ask, was the Atom one of the characters you grew up reading as a youth? Did you ask for that project?"

Simone: "I didn't ask for it. Originally, Grant Morrison had a pitch in for it, but Morrison couldn't do it, so he actually asked them if they could get me to do it. And, I LOVE science. When I was a kid, if I wasn't going to be a writer, I was going to be a science teacher. I just loved science, and still do. So to be able to do a story about a town with a lot of weird science going on just really excited me. I didn't end up using that much from Grant's pitch, but I used some of it and just ran with it. I had a blast. And working with Mike Norton was amazing."


Simone: "This was something they asked me if I'd be interested in doing, and I love -- as you can tell by reading my work -- I love the psychology of characters, so I read the old issues and thought it was a pretty cool idea but wasn't real modern."

Justin: "Yeah, I remember her being a Lois Lane villain, and then later appearing in Booster Gold as a antagonist in the 80s..."

Simone: "I just felt that she needed a bit more texture and modernization. So, that's how we did that."


Simone: "Dr. Psycho [a Wonder Woman villain] has popped up in a lot of my stories. I like him because he causes a lot of problems and I like dealing with the psychology of his character so that he's not just straight-up villainous without a reason behind it." 

Simone: "Batman has great villains, and the best ones have a psychological component to them. I don't really have a favorite per se, but I was asked to write a Poison Ivy arc. I really didn't want to write Poison Ivy, either. It was just one of those characters that I didn't really have an affinity for. But then I thought "Well, what could I do to make me want to write her?" and then I started thinking about seasonal effective disorder and how it might affect Ivy with the plants and her powers and stuff, and then I was more interested in her. Now I love her. I'm writing her in other things and she's a great character to write. I just couldn't grab on to her until then." 


Simone: "I like the Firestorm character a lot and I liked what they wanted to do with him in the beginning talks of New 52, but it just wasn't working out the way I thought it would, so..."

We can't thank Agence Pink and Ottawa Comiccon enough for allowing us this opportunity to interview Gail Simone





Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Scavenging for cool stuff at the Ottawa Comiccon (2022 edition)

As mentioned in our Ottawa Comiccon 2022 wrap-up article, this was Ottawa's first REAL post-pandemic convention in the last three years and these type of events tend to not only draw in comic book vendors, but vendors who specialize in 80s awesomeness... I'm talking action figures, trading cards, movie posters, and other bric-a-brac. This is right up my alley: I love taking it all in and seeing what hidden gems I can unearth.   

I'm always on the lookout for any old action figures to add to my collection. I kept my eye out for Kenner Super Powers figs (loose or carded), but could only find one vendor selling them. A few vendors were selling loose Toy Biz DC figs, but it was figs I already owned (and mine were in better condition anyways). One vendor had a carded Toy Biz Robin for a very reasonable price ($25 CAD), but I paused on it and (unbeknownst to me) a buddy of mine scooped it up for his collection and sent me a photo the following day boasting of his score.

Nice pick up, Adrian!

There was maybe 4 or 5 vendors selling vintage actions figures from the 80s and early 90s. The other toy vendors stuck exclusively to new action figures released in the last decade or funko pop vinyls.

Before I tell you what I ultimately bought, I'll tell you what I walked away from:

1) Total Justice Black Lightning (1996 - Kenner)

Not a pic of the actual carded fig.
Image source: unknown

I've been passively collecting carded Total Justice action figs for the last two years and so far I've acquired most of the figs from series 1, 2 and 3. I still don't have Black Lightning here, but the seller was asking nearly double of what they typically go for. I understand that it was a comic convention and he probably marked up his prices to cover vendor costs, but $30 CAD was way more than I was willing to pay and rather than haggle the price with him I just moved on to something else. 

2) Legends of the Batman (1994 - Kenner)

not the actual carded figs I saw. source: unknown

At $20 CAD per fig this was a very reasonable price, especially since they still included their Skybox trading cards in the package (which can go anywhere from $3 to $10 CAD per card, depending on the seller). My issue with the Legends of the Batman figs is that, in all of the variations of Batmen in the collection, Dark Warrior Batman isn't the one I was most crazy about.  I would've easily shelled out $20 CAD for KnightsEnd or KnightQuest Batman (based on the AzBats designs from Knightfall), but couldn't justify it on a variations of Batman that probably only appeared once in an Elseworlds one-shot. As for The Riddler, well, there were other figures I wanted more (and I already own his Skybox trading card).

3) Man of Steel Deluxe Steel (1995 - Kenner)

not a photo of the actual fig I saw.
source: unknown

Among other things, Kenner's Man of Steel action figure toyline was predominantly known for having 9 different versions of Clark Kent Superman. Thankfully, they managed to sneak a version or two of Steel (John Henry Irons) into the collection. The deluxe version of Steel had a shinier finish and one of his weapons made a noise or something. Steel gives me all sorts of nostalgic vibes for the Death and Return of Superman storyline from the early 90s, but the vendor wanted $50 CAD for it. I considered it, but decided I could get more for my $50 if I looked a bit harder.

Every hardcore action figure collector knows that the REAL DEALS are found in the trenches -- especially if you have an idea of what you're looking for and have a pretty good memory of which accessories go with which figs.

I appreciate the vendors who try to sort their loose figs by toyline.

After about an hour of looking around, here are the figs I picked up:

photo source: mine

Robin from Kenner's Batman Returns toyline (far left) was only the cape, since I already owned a cape-less version of the fig. Kenner's Swamp Thing was found in the bottom of a vendor's bin of loose figures, and it was a version I didn't own yet -- so I quickly snatched that up. Mr Freeze is the 'Arnold version' from Kenner's Batman & Robin movie toyline and was actually dug out by a vendor after I told him what type of stuff I was looking for. While I told myself  I'd only stick to DC action figs before walking into the convention, Mattel's Secret Wars Kang was just too good of a price to pass over -- especially with his belt/harness-thing intact. It's too bad he didn't have any of his accessories, but hey, for the price I paid no complaints.

..and for anyone wondering, yes, I did purchase a carded fig:

photo source: mine

Of the new McFarlane Toys DC Super Powers figs, Darkseid was the only fig I was really seeking from the first wave. I've owned several different versions of Superman and Batman figs in my life, but I've never owned a Darkseid fig. Yeah yeah, I know... it's not his classic 'Super Powers Collection' design (which I would've preferred) but I'm willing to overlook that.

While rummaging through their wares, we briefly interviewed a few vendors on the last day of the event to find out what was hot and what was not...

Vendor: Ottawa Toy Hunter
Sells: A bit of everything (action figures, comic books, collectibles, memorabilia.. but mainly focusses on 80s stuff)

Darren (of Ottawa Toy Hunter) in front of a wall of Kenner Super Powers and Toy Biz Marvel figs. photo source: mine

Justin: So this is the first time in, like, 3 years you're actually in a convention again?

Darren: I've come out of semi-retirement for these shows, so it's really good to be back.

Justin: During the pandemic, how was the collector's market for vintage action figures? 

Darren: The pandemic definitely drove the market up... everyone was back home, people were getting CERB payments, and just reliving their childhood through nostalgia. I noticed a huge surge in sales for vintage toys.

Justin: So what did you see the highest demand for?

Darren: Kenner Star Wars figs from the early 80s, especially the ones from the Return of the Jedi film. G.I. Joes were extremely popular during the pandemic. I'd noticed that the value of G.I. Joes had risen tremendously, and WWF wrestling (as a whole... figs, memorabilia) had gone up. In regards to Marvel and DC toys? Marvel may rule to roost when it comes to the MCU (TV shows, movies), but when it comes to the toys, everyone LOVES DC Super Powers. Everyone has great memories -- especially of the 'Power Action' features. As a matter of fact, Todd McFarlane is reissuing the Super Powers figs and I'm hearing the sculpts are really nice. I think collectors are wishing McFarlane's figs had Power Action features, so maybe they'll start adding those in future waves. Who knows? But Super Powers are still well-loved. I sold a few this weekend. One was a loose but complete Cyclotron, who is super rare to find -- I actually picked him up in a lot in Ohio. A few loose Kenner Batman figs sold. Collectors look at the condition of the fig and if all the accessories are included. I also sold some G.I. Joes and Star Wars figs over the week-end, but no Marvel figs from the 80s or 90s yet. I just had a collector a few minutes ago looking for Transformers -- that's also been a hot toyline through all generations (G1, G2, modern) -- he was just here looking for accessories. If you're a collector, always keep your accessories. If you open it up, bag them and keep them all together.

Justin: So I also noticed you have also vehicles and playsets. Are these in big demand? Or are collectors mainly interested in single figs? Or both?

Darren: They want a bit of both. They want the figures obviously, but the vehicles and playsets so they can display their collection.

Justin: Are you noticing that collectors buy for speculative reasons hoping to flip it for more money after the new show or movie comes out? Or is the opposite where a show or movie (i.e. Masters of the Universe) inspires a collector to go seek out the old figs because they got hit with a wave of nostalgia?

Darren: There are many investors/collectors buying on speculation hoping to resell for higher when demand goes up, but there are also a lot of collectors who are buying with their son or daughter, trying to share their hobby with their kid. This really started to happen during the pandemic -- maybe they found their old toys and now they're re-living their childhood with their kids.

Justin: Can't blame them. They don't make action figures now like they did in the 80s. /stares into the sunset wistfully

Darren: With the new McFarlane Toys Super Powers, it's way cheaper to collect those then trying to track down the originals. I'm really hoping McFarlane Toys finally produces those wave 4 and 5 figs we never got due to the Super Powers Collection getting cancelled. I would love to see a Deathstroke.

Editor's note: You can find the The Ottawa Toy Hunter on Instagram.

Several other vendors we interviewed who specialized in 80s action figures and memorabilia echoed similar sentiments; all 80s vintage IPs were in demand, with G.I. Joe and Star Wars topping the list. Some vendors commented that the action figure collector market was unpredictable, citing demand for 1980s Ghostbusters action figures and playsets ebbing and flowing over the last three years [this might be due to 2021's Ghostbusters: Afterlife film renewing interest in the franchise].


I also tend to search vendor booths for DC memorabilia from the late 70s to the early 90s: coloring books, trading cards, board games, school supplies, posters, paintings, treasury editions, promo items, calendars, novelty items, paperback novels, toys... whatever looks interesting and worth blogging about.  

A few items I passed on:

1) Supergirl movie storybook (1984)

not pic of actual book I saw. image source: unknown

I totally dug Helen Slater as Supergirl and totally regret passing on this. It was full color book and included scenes from the film. I can't remember if it was softcover or hardcover. I don't know what I was thinking... I guess I was trying to be economical, but for the price the vendor was asking I should've just went for it.

2) 'The Untold Legend of the Batman' and 'The Superman Story' TOR paperbacks

I actually wrote about these in an article from 2021. For anyone who doesn't know what I'm talking about and doesn't feel like clicking on the link to read about it, TOR published a few black-and-white paperback-sized books reprinting a few select DC stories back in the eighties. They published seven in total and I didn't have these two. Why did I pass on them? Well, they were pretty banged up and are actually pretty common to find, so I figured there was a good chance I'd run into them again someday.     

3) Batman: The Animated Series 3-D board game (1992)

image source: Ottawa Toy Hunter

Anyone who grew up as a child in the 70s or the 80s probably remember the thrill of receiving a new board game as a Christmas or a birthday present. Board games would arguably get A LOT better in the next two decades, but we didn't know that back then and embraced them for what they were: another chance to demonstrate your superiority over your friends by totally destroying them at a game meant to foster friendship and community. I had a few board games and they received a lot of play -- most notoriously my Simpsons board game (in which I memorized all of the trivia answers) that made me absolutely insufferable to play against. So, riding the nostalgia wave of my youth, a board game based on the Batman Animated Series definitely caught my attention... the cherry on the icing being that it was a '3-D' board game:   

Just look at how much fun those kids are having on the back of the box!
image source: Ottawa Toy Hunter

Why didn't I buy this? Well, I spotted it at the beginning of the convention, but didn't really want to lug it around with me all afternoon -- so I made a mental note to swing by the vendor's booth before I left. One thing led to another and I ended up forgetting to go back. Maybe next time.

I ending up purchasing these two Golden Look-Look Books (circa early 90s and early 80s, respectively) after finding them in a vendor's big box of random books since I remember borrowing these from the school library when I was much much younger. Here's our review article on these.

image source: DC in the 80s


Every Ottawa Comiccon I've ever attended usually has at least one vendor selling vintage non-sports cards, and I tend to seek these dealers out like a rabid bloodhound. For this event I hit the motherload -- a dealer who seemed to have amassed quite a collection of non-sports trading cards after a 3-year convention hiatus:

It's hard to tell from the photo, but this a table filled with completed non-sports trading cards sets. image source: mine

I love these vendors -- you can purchase an entire non-sports trading card set (with no inserts or chases) for anywhere between $15 to $50 CAD (sometimes more, depending on the rarity and demand of the set). Are you seriously regretting sending your 1993 Valiant/Image Upper Deck Deathmate trading cards to the Salvation Army several years ago? Buy the entire set for $15 CAD. [That was a trick question -- nobody regrets throwing those out.]  Or how about a set of those 1980s Topps Wacky Packages stickers/cards you were always trying to complete? Here's the place to find them. 

Marvel Comics trading cards saw a huge jump in price during the pandemic (ex: a complete set of 1990's Marvel Universe series I went from $100 to $400 CAD, and that was without the holograms). As for DC Comics trading cards? Not so much. Actually, they seem to have gone down in price. For this reason, I have been known to leave sets on the table if I felt the vendor was asking too much and/or I already owned the set. What did I end up buying from this table? Nothing, because I was drawn to these instead:

If this isn't an impulse buy, I don't know what is.
image source: mine

My love for Topps non-sports trading cards goes back as far as I can remember. I've written about Topps products more than I care to admit. The brightly colored wax packages, the flimsy cards, the low price point, the cards that joined to form a giant puzzle... these are my favorite things to impulsively pick up, especially when they're at a $2 to $3 CAD per pack and there's a vast selection. My DC-related pick-ups from this table were:

While I already own complete sets of all of these movie trading cards, I still enjoy picking up and opening the occasional pack when I see them in the wild. What can I say? Cheap nostalgic thrills.

Also purchased from the same vendor (and once again proving that Topps would make a card trading set out of anything they thought could sell): wax packs of 21 Jump Street, ALF and Growing Pains cards:

For anyone too young to remember, 21 Jump Street was a police TV drama about young-looking undercover cops who investigated juvenile crime, ALF was a sitcom about a mild-mannered American family living with an alien, and Growing Pains was sitcom about a mild-mannered American family living with Kirk Cameron. Ah, the eighties. Out of pure anticipation to see what the trading card gods would bless me with, I had to rip these open [also, it makes for a more entertaining article].

...well, the Growing Pains pack didn't yield much. A few pics of teenage heartthrob Kirk Cameron hamming it up for the camera, and a Joanna Kerns sticker card. Well, at least I know what the completed puzzle is going to look like... a family portrait of the Seaver family... how unexpected. Truthfully, I didn't have high hopes for the set since I mistakenly confused it for Family Ties and was really hoping for some Michael J Fox cards. can't got wrong with ALF. Unfortunately I had to pry the two 'chase' cards apart (probably because they had been smushed together for the last 30+ years in the pack). ALF series 2 trading cards not only had sticker cards with puzzle backs, but special one-per-pack Bouillabaseball trading cards featuring never-heard-of characters who played a fictional game on ALF's fictional home planet. I remember the kids in my elementary school just going nuts for these and trading away REAL baseball cards to collect these. Everything else was par for the course: ALF making snappy zingers about the  least offensive things you can joke about on a prime-time family sitcom.

...21 Jump Street. I honestly don't remember ever watching this, so I'm really just in it for the Johnny Depp cards... and this set did not disappoint. Of my 5 cards, I got 2 of Johnny Depp and 1 puzzle back featuring a close-up of (what I presume to be) his throat, neck and chin. Score!


Additional wax packs I wish I had bought from that vendor:

For three measly dollars I could've had a pack of Three's Company trading cards, based on the American sitcom about the non-sexual wacky hijinks of a platonic FFM couple that ran from the late 70s/early 80s. I think they were there during my first visit to booth, but sold out when I returned. Damn. For anyone wondering, yes I looked it up and the puzzle is a portrait of the blonde roommate (Suzanne Sommers).

Back in the 90s, the only 'Bo' we had was Bo Jackson, who knew football, baseball and how to market himself, apparently. Back in the 80s, we had Bo Derek: American actress and model. Fortunately, this trading card set is about the latter. Unfortunately, the vendor wanted $5 a pack. Interestingly, this came with a little folded-up paper poster that measured about three cards tall by four cards wide.


Well, that concludes everything I picked up at the Ottawa Comiccon this year. As a side note, I'm always on the lookout for DC comics from the 1980s, but for whatever reason didn't go out of my way searching for them during this convention -- I guess I've gotten a little burned out after a year and a half of bin-diving. There were plenty of comic vendors at this event and they were all super-friendly and eager to help, but man... I was just not feeling that drive to go digging through longboxes. 


Monday, September 12, 2022

2022 Ottawa Comiccon

After a three-and-a-half year hiatus due to the pandemic, Ottawa Comiccon had finally returned. What better way to celebrate a grand return than having Gail Simone (Birds of Prey, Secret Six, Villains United, Batgirl) as a featured guest? This was Simone's FIRST time visiting Ottawa and her visit was met with a lot of enthusiasm.

You're probably wondering how Ottawa's first post-COVID Comiccon went? On Sunday evening the Ottawa Comiccon media team reported an attendance of over 40,000 visitors over the weekend. Not bad considering this convention was later in the summer than usual and fell around the same time students were returning back to college and university.

Since we're a site that tends to zero in on DC comics and/or 80s properties, comic guests of interest included Ken Lashley (Legends of the DCU, Legion of Super Heroes), Marco Rudy (Swamp Thing), Janet Hetherington (Elvira), Ronn Sutton (Elvira, Edgar Rice Burroughs comic strips), Tom Fowler (Doom Patrol), Dan Parent (Archie), Richard Comely (Captain Canuck), Mark Shainblum (Captain Canuck), Jack Briglio (Legion of Super Heroes) and Casey Parsons (covers and pinups for various DC titles). Geof Isherwood (Suicide Squad) was scheduled to appear, but had to postpone. 

Marco Rudy told us about his new creator-owned graphic novel, RDW: A Tale of Lost Fantasy, which he wrote and illustrated and had total creative control of. "I'm making a move towards creator-owned properties", he explained. We flipped through a few pages of his new hardcover book and it looked gorgeous -- exactly what we've come to expect from Marco. If you're a fan of his painted work, you'll want to check this out. More information and how to order can be found here

RDW: A Tale of Lost Fantasy

Janet Hetherington told us about Galaxy Warriors, a new sci-fi film directed by Brett Kelly that was filmed here in Ottawa and premiering at the Gladstone Theatre that weekend. Janet wrote the screenplay for the film and described it as 'a throwback to the B-movie sci-fi exploitation films of the 1970s': 

This film looks pretty entertaining and I'm a big fan of anything filmed locally (I still remember attending early screenings of Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter back in 2001), so I was all over this. As an added bonus, the movie poster was illustrated by Ronn Sutton and colored by Geof Isherwood

Janet Hetherington and Ronn Sutton with poster for Galaxy Warriors.

How could you NOT want to see this film? Just look at this flyer:

We stopped to chat with Casey Parsons, freelance artist, co-editor and co-publisher of Cauldron supernatural anthology magazine, at his table to check out his art and latest copy of Cauldron published by RAID press. Writer Sam Noir, who's love of DC comics from the 1980s automatically makes him a kindred spirit, was also hanging around and we had a chance to chat with him about his favorite comics of the era and discuss some sort of future collab for the future -- stay tuned for more on that. Sam also gave a shout out to Eric Anthony's Cave of Solitude podcast (which were already huge fans of, but it never hurts to remind people).

Artist Casey Parsons posing with Cauldron Magazine and Baxter Stock

Once we finished prowling through Artists Alley, we made our way over to the vendor tables on the other side of the convention (which will be a separate article). For anyone wondering: yes, we did get an interview with Gail Simone, and we'll be posting it shortly

The cosplayers were out in full force on Saturday and Sunday. Lots of anime/manga characters and lots of Marvel and video game characters. In terms of DC comics cosplay, Harley Quinn and Joker were still the most popular costumes. We're always on the lookout for the obscure DC characters, a few that stood out included:  

Katana (seen with Batman). It's nice to know that she's still in the public consciousness after that first Suicide Squad film. I'm a fan and I hope we see more of her in the DCU:

Image source: Martin Lee Photo

Polka Dot Man. A decade ago I don't think anyone would've ever expected a 1960's z-list Batman villain to be recognizable enough to be cosplayed at a comic convention. Thanks to the last Suicide Squad film, here we are:

Image source: Ottawa Comiccon

Peacemaker (seen with Harley Quinn and... I think... Catwoman). You already know we're Peacemaker fans, so we pretty much went crazy for this cosplay.

image source: Lee Riggins Photography

Truth be told, that Peacemaker cosplayer knocked it out of the park and that previous pic doesn't really do her costume justice, so we managed to find a better photo of her:

image source: Tiggi/Goose

While there were a few Wonder Woman cosplayers, this was the only KINGDOM COME Wonder Woman cosplay we saw (of course, this could just as easily have been Wonder Woman 84 cosplay):

Image source: Martin Lee Photo

We immediately recognized Troia of the Teen Titans, but mistook the cosplayer on the left for Superman's father from the original Superman film. It was actually the Lords of Justice Superman from the DCAU:

image source: DC in the 80s

Batwoman and Knightmare Future Batman (as seen in Zack Snyder's Justice League). Every time Ottawa Knight's cosplay comes out to a convention they always slay: 

image source: DC in the 80s

This Wonder Woman cosplayer (with Spider-Man) really went for that classic WW look that was prevalent throughout the 70s, 80s and 90s. Got to love the classics:

Fitness trainers Natasha Aughey and Xavier Renart 
image source: DC in the 80s

There was a Bane cosplayer and a Tank Girl cosplayer wandering around, but we couldn't catch up to them in time to snap a pic (or find any online pics of them). Maybe something will surface eventually?


...and that's a summary of our visit to the 2022 Ottawa Comiccon. Thanks to Agence Pink for bringing Gail Simone to Ottawa and organizing a great show. We're looking forward to the next one.