The best things in life...still cost a buck

Since I would probably make a poor Comicon correspondent, I'm gonna make this as painless as possible on myself. Let's just say that the 12th annual Phoenix Comicon came and went, and that I had a very good time while I was there.

Unfortunately, I only attended three days of the four-day event (Thursday thru Saturday). Still, I'm certain that I got to see the very best that the dealers, presenters and fans of comics, anime, manga, sci-fi and fantasy had to offer.

Tons of caped (and non-caped) crusaders were to be ogled everywhere: From Batgirl and Captain America to Vash and Willy Wonka, fanboys and fangirls of every age were there wearing their needle-stitching hearts on their sleeves.

As for the kung fu pimp, my costume consisted of a 1-inch Green Lantern pinback button pinned to a beige Timberland baseball cap. But my business there had at nothin' at all to do with the Comicon catwalks. St. Paco had a hot date with the long boxes.

Just like last year, the Phoenix Comicon offered me lots more of the kinds of books that I never brought back from San Diego–bronze age dollar comics. Then, too, such books may not have been my primary interest then. But they are now and I'm happy to say that Ed's Comics of Mesa, AZ was there once again to feed my need.

Without actually preparing a want list of books, I roughed together a vague idea of the kinds of books that I wanted to buy. My instincts were leaning towards one or two titles from which I could put together a decent sequential run of 6-12 comics that would give me a nice chunk of particular vintage flavor.

As fortune would have it, hiding within Ed's boxes was a decent smattering of early Power Man and Iron Fist comics. The books I snagged would immediately allow me to quench my old school thirst like a Slurpee™does for a fat kid on a hot summer's day in...well, Phoenix.

The modest pile of about twenty books that I walked away with on Saturday included three reprints of iconic books that my piggy bank will not yet permit me to purchase, as well as a bunch of original issues for which I probably should have paid much more than a buck each.

Posted below are cover scans of ten of my spine-tingling buys. Read 'em... Well, see 'em and weep.

Oh, yeah. I actually paid $10 bucks for this last one. But it's the second issue of Iron Fist, whadda' ya expect?!


Who's the fairest con of all?

Fair San Diego Comicon,

Tis' a shame how long it hath been since I last saw thee.

Ahhhh, twas' a time once when my heroic heart gazed out merrily o'er the rainbow bridge with much longing for my summer sojourn hither! But nay, fair maiden! No more doth mine eyes look upon thee. Nay, nay, I say!

Alas, tis' that those formidable giants of Tinsel Town hath made thy pearly doors near impossible for e'en this thunder god to breach. And in the vast span of days that hath passed since I looked upon thee last, methinks thy place in mine heart hath been filled.

Aye, 'tis indeed another Comicon that has gratefully received my summer sojourn. And though she be not as fair as thee, she is fair enough that I am pleased. In every way she is a Phoenix arching over the smoldering ashes of a desire that I, like a fool, believed could ne'er burn for any but thee!

What a fool thou hadst made of me, temptress.

And lo, seated there at her well-attended tables this year were none-other than Sir Patrick of Stewart, Lavar of Burton, Will of Wheton, Mirina of Sirtis, Michael of Dorn, Brent of Spiner, William of Shatner, Edward of Asner, Louis of Ferrigno and many more that I ne're would hath expected to cast mine eyes upon.

How is it that she accomplished such a heroic feat...lest it be a mere bewitching trick? Nay, I trust it to have been only a portent of the greatness that is to yet to come from her. And by my hammer, it doth make my heart swell. Zounds! By my hammer, it does!

Aye, and as I once did ere long for thee, San Diego Comicon, I look now forward with an eager heart to what the fair Phoenix Comicon mayhap prepareth for me and mine in the years that are to come. Aye, indeed.


...A Thousand Words

Yes, yes. I've been neglectful of the blog as of late. Fortunately, the Phoenix Comicon starts tomorrow, so perhaps I'll have something interesante to blog about soon. In the meantime, in the absence of words, howz about lookin' at sum purty pictures?

The photograph above, which features some stunning graff work by Meggs, is one of several cool photos in my favorites gallery on Flickr. I hadn't rummaged through the collection in quite some time, and was really taken aback just now by the amazing images that I've bookmarked over the years.

Wanna see? Well, click here and be dazzled. Dazzled, I say.


There's Somethin' About Shiro

Words & Collages: St. Paco

When considering content for the fifth issue of Kung Fu Grip! zine, it quickly occurred to me that an interview with Shiro, a prolific graffiti artist from Japan, would be a cool inclusion to pursue. I became an instant fan of her work when I saw it on a viaduct wall during a trip to back home to Chicago, and have followed her character-based graffiti ever since.

By way of Myspace, I dropped Shiro a line to request an interview and looked forward to hearing back from the artist. But I never got a response, and didn’t feel at all slighted about it either. Some artists don’t feel all that comfortable about being nailed down in print–particularly graffiti artists.

Despite the high frequency at which Shiro "gets up," and despite the fact that many of the artist’s pieces are legal murals that she received permission to paint (like that one on a viaduct in Chicago), there’s still something very discreet about Shiro. Something mysterious even.

For instance, in nearly all of the photographs that I’ve seen of her, the artist usually has a two-finger ‘peace’ sign raised to obscure her face. Sometimes a spray can has been held up to block the view. At still other times, the bill of one of the hats that she always seems to wear has been tilted down to partially conceal her visage.

And what exactly is it that the artist is trying to hide? It can’t be her identity, because everyone knows it’s Shiro. More often than not, the photographs in which she stands posed are posted right on her blog. So it’s clearly no secret who the artist is–or what she looks like.

Speaking frankly, the artist is also as cute and as stylish as any one of her painted characters. So it’s not even a case of hiding from the world the kind of face that only a mother or father could love. Is it possible that Shiro is just shy? Well, I wouldn’t believe it for a minute, even if she told me that she was.

Perhaps it’s all just done in a mostly symbolic effort to preserve an alter ego that the artist still wants to try maintaining somehow: Shiro Miyakami, aerosol can brandishing super-heroine by day, mild-mannered nurse by night!

An article that I once read mentioned that when she isn’t painting, Shiro works part-time as a nurse in her hometown of Shizuoka. I’m thinking that maybe she should just buy a pair of thick, dark-rimmed glasses; that trick always seemed to work for Superman. And Wonder Woman, too.

Whatever it is that this not-so-masked woman is hiding, the images that she leaves on walls across the globe reveal a lot. Her letter forms, though stylized and colorful, are usually simple enough that even a grandmother could read and appreciate. Still, grandma might actually take issue with some of Shiro’s super-sexy characters that show up on public walls as naked as topless dancers.

Shiro’s colorful cast of characters includes mermaids, sword-wielding geishas, bikers, b-girls, masked wrestlers and bat-carrying ball breakers. There are mini-dress donned divas, baseball cap wearing homegirls, bikini garbed hell’s angels and even a veil-covered Virgin! And they all rock manicured nails, lipstick, earrings and hairstyles that run the gamut; from bone straight and ponytails to cornrows and cameo afros.

Shiro’s art embraces the characteristics of every woman. And that might be partly why the artist conceals her face. Like those characters (and Chaka Khan & Whitney), Ms. Shiro, too, is every woman, and chooses to limit how much she shares of herself because she’s more woman than most of us can handle.

– Originally printed in Kung Fu Grip! #5 (Preview & order here)

Ah, what the hell...Chaka Khan, CHAKA KHAN!

C'mon. You know that you have the song playin' in your head now, so go on and give it a listen. In fact, here are the Chaka Khan and Whitney Houston versions, linked below for your listening pleasure.

Chaka Khan - I'm Every Woman (1978)

Whitney Houston - I'm Every Woman (1992)