Atlantic City Boardwalk Con Puts Focus Back on Comics, Cosplay

ACBC Atlantic City Boardwalk Con Mike DlAlessio cosplay

For all the spectacle of a San Diego Comic-Con or a Wizard World, there' something that's been slowly slipping away from the concept of the comic book convention: the comic book. Oh, it's still there, but now it's become a mecca for video game developers to show off their latest beta releases and Hollywood movie studios to generate buzz for their next year's action movies.

Mike D'Alessio is no stranger to comic conventions. He may not be known to the fans, but to the industries who attend these conventions, he and his Promoguys Marketing Group are major -- nay, invaluable -- players. Now D'Alessio is bringing all his experience and klout to bear as he brings the first annual Atlantic City Boardwalk Con to New Jersey -- but this isn't just another comic book convention, as you'll see as we talk with Mike about what's going to make this convention bigger and better.


Shannon Maer Brings Fantasies to Life Through Art

Shannon Maer Big Dog Ink Oz Wicked West Comic Book

To say that the Internet has revolutionized society is a saying so commonly obvious that even the television gecko and camel sneer at me for saying it. But for fans of comics and fantasy, it truly is a whole new world -- or rather a doorway to whole new worlds -- as it allows new artists to have their material seen by millions of people at once. I've seen my share of struggling artists showing off their talents (and, sometimes, lack thereof), but I was particularly taken with the work I started to see from a name I hadn't encountered.


St. Louis Represented in Masterchef Junior

MASTERCHEF: Judges Bastianich, Ramsay and Elliot with the Contestants in the “Junior Edition: The Class of 2015” Season Premiere episode of MASTERCHEF airing Tuesday, Jan. 6 (8:00-9:00PM ET/PT) on FOX. CR: Greg Gayne / FOX. © FOX Broadcasting Co.

If you're looking for someone with the longsuffering patience needed to deal with a room full of children, Gordon Ramsay probably isn't going to be on your list. But that unexpected mix is part of what makes MASTERCHEF JUNIOR such a fun watch for viewers.

Representing my home town of Saint Louis, Missouri, is Ayla, an eleven year old whose already got a signature dish in her culinary repertoire: Corn and Pumpkin Soup. "I learned from my mom's cooking school," says Ayla. "It ws the first recipe that I had to learn and master."

But there's a distinct difference between what she does best and what she likes most. "[Pumpkin and Corn Soup] is definitely the think I make the best," says Ayla. "But my favorite thing to cook is Chocolate Souffle."


Joshua Mills and Christmas Miracles

Joshua Mills, Christmas Miracle, now available

Joshua Mills has been in the recording business for fifteen years now, but only this year released his first Christmas album. Focused on a theme of miracles -- and the desire to bring miracles back to Christmas -- affected not only the album title, CHRISTMAS MIRACLE, but several of the tracks, which are a blend of original songs and traditional standards.

With Christmas fast approaching, we spoke with Mills about his album as well as the unique production methods involved in making it happen.

How daunting is it to set out to do brand new music for a seasonal niche that's packed with some pretty long-standing standards?


The Bare Necessities: Mark L Miller and Zenescope's Jungle Book

Mark L Miller and Mowglii

Zenescope has carved out a niche in the comics industry through their unique and sexy adaptations of fairy tales. In their Grimm Fairy Tales universe, they've established realms for adaptations of Wonderland, the titular Brothers Grimm characters, Neverland, and others.

Standing apart from these intersecting worlds of fantasy is Zenescope's THE JUNGLE BOOK, now entering it's third miniseries with FALL OF THE WILD, In anticipation of the advent of this new chapter in the adventures of Mowglii on the island jungle of Kipling, we corralled series writer Mark L. Miller for a little Q&A about some of the mysteries of Mowglii.

THE JUNGLE BOOK: FALL OF THE WILD is advertised as the third book of the trilogy. Was it planned to be a trilogy from the beginning, or is it something that just evolved that way after it had begun?


Responding to the Whispers: Lisa Haisha

Lisa Haisha

Lisa Haisha (who contributed our Top Ten Romantic Comedies list) makes her living in Hollywood as a life coach and spiritual teacher. But she's also one who puts her teachings into actions, through her charitable foundation, Whispers From Children's Hearts. While compiling the Top 10 RomCom list, we asked her more in-depth about her foundation, and what motivated her to take action on behalf of abused and neglected children around the world.

Whispers From Children's Hearts was inspired out of a trip you took with your husband, Lee Aronsohn, to speak with the founder of a safehouse in Cambodia for abandoned and abused children. Was there a defining moment during that interview that solidified your need to do something?


Legends of the Film Maker: Brett Culp and the New Batman Phenomenon

Brett Culp with Kye Sapp

Recently, I had the privilege of reviewing one of the most impacting documentaries I've seen in years. You may be surprised to learn that it was about Batman. You also may already be dismissing the film, because of that. That would be your great mistake -- because the film is about so much more than a superhero. It's about identity, and the power that stories have on people -- and the power those people in turn gain over their environment and their lives because of a story.

We spoke with the film's director, Brett Culp, about what drove him toward this project, and some of the many benefits that are still coming out of the film.

Everyone in LEGENDS OF THE KNIGHT has a Batman story to tell, but there was one that was missing, and I'd like to get that one. What's your Batman story?


Justin. B. Williams: The Day Walker Out of Ferguson

2.3.N PIMPIN feat Day Walker and TheGIFT.I.C.

Justin B. Williams is a busy man these days. In addition to work he was already performing with his HI FIVE Community Development Corporation and his career in music as part of 23n PIMPIN featuring Day Walker and TheGIFT.I.C. he has also become a correspondent for the Allman in the Morning show on 97.1 FM, as well as Susie Moore's podcast, Q with a View.

What's propelled Williams -- a.k.a. The Day Walker -- into the spotlight is a combination of being the right person in the right place. In this case, the place happens to be Ferguson, Missouri, where The Day Walker has been in the thick of the peaceful protests, while working in cooperation with Emerson Electric to help revitalize Ferguson.


Archon 38 Encounter: The Art of BatSpats

Michelle Benz of BatSpats

Archon 38 continues to be the gift that keeps on giving! Nestled amongst the many vendors set up in the expansive dealers room, I chanced upon a chillingly familiar looking couple: The Joker and Harley Quinn!

But there was no need to scream or fire up the Bat-signal: this was the booth for Michelle Benz, the creative genius behind, and some intriguing and refreshing takes on familiar comic book characters as well as other pop culture icons and tropes.

Here's a snippet of the encounter. Enjoy!


C.S. Marks Rides High at Archon 38

CS Marks, author of the Elfhunter series

The Archon science fiction convention is quickly taking the express train into yesterday, and I still have so much material left! One of the more interesting writers I encountered in the main aisle was C.S. Marks -- a biologist whose scientific background guides the framework of her fantasy stories, the Elfhunter series. Don't let the pointy ears and fuzzy animatronic horse fool you: Marks is one sharp cookie with a clear idea of where she wants to take her readers.

But don't take my word for it! Click the video below and get some insights into the world of Alterra (and it's residents, both humanoid and equine) straight from the horse's mouth (so to speak).




David J. Pedersen's Got Angst. Lucky Him!

David J. Pedersen, Angst

One of the most enjoyable aspects of the annual Archon convention isn't the costumes you see or the panels you attend or the goodies you buy. It's the people you meet.

While volunteering as a panelist and roaming the hallways like a homeless web reporter, I made the acquaintance of David J. Pedersen, author of the fantasy novels Angst and Buried in Angst. Admittedly, it may or may not have been the posters (and personal appearances) of his model, Cristi, which initially attracted me to his table, but the means, in this case, justified the ends. Or something like that. What I'm really trying to say is that I grew my circle of friendly acquaintances in the community, and learned about a new series of fantasy novels which take a unique approach to the tried-and-tired sword and sorcery formula.


Carl Potts on Alien Legion: Uncivil War

Carl Potts is just as responsible for my comic fandom as Stan Lee, Bob Kane or Will Eisner. Not only was he responsible for helping industry luminaries Jim Lee and Art Adams break into the business, Potts also wrote or edited many of my favorite comics in the 80s and early 90s, including Dr. Strange, The Defenders, The Punisher War Journal, Strikeforce: Morituri, Marvel Fanfare, Shadowmasters, and the original graphic novels Last of the Dragons and The Alien Legion: A Grey Way to Die. That graphic novel spawned a very successful ongoing series under Marvel's more mature Epic imprint. Now, thirty years since its inception, the Alien Legion is back with an all-new mini-series, Alien Legion: Uncivil War. The first issue is scheduled to hit the shelves on 6/25/2014. The former Marvel Editor-In-Chief took some time to discuss the past, present, and possible future of his beloved space warriors. 


Pat Shand: Grimm Fairy Tales Turns 100!

A long time back (it seems) I remember reviewing Raven Gregory's Return to Wonderland. That has been my one and only exposure to the Zenescope line of comics. Certainly I've been aware of them. The eye-grabbing covers (yes, I'm male, why do you ask?) have captured my attention on more than a few hundred occasions. But I did not realize what was being built across the various titles. And now that the company is at the stage where their flagship title is nearing its 100th issue, I think it's time I gave this indie publisher some of the respect it deserves.

So a few emails and some time-zone mathematics later, I'm on the phone with Zenescope's Pat Shand, asking all the neophyte questions and trying to get a handle on all these various characters running about the titles as they prepare to kill each other.


Ted Nugent: "Maximize the Good While Crushing the Bad and the Ugly"

Ted Nugent

If you're enjoying the current crop of outdoor-related reality programming, you may want to check out -- and thank -- Ted Nugent's Spirit of the Wild. Now entering it's 25th season on Outdoor Channel, Spirit of the Wild is an up-front and unsanitized look at hunters and hunting starring Ted and Shemane Nugent doing what they love.

This writer was honored with the opportunity to speak to Nugent about his show, but also his music and his unfettered political opinions -- and anyone who's heard Nugent interviewed knows the best thing the interviewer can do is get out of the way and let Nugent take over.

The new season of Spirit of the Wild debuts Tuesday, July 2nd at 8:30pm EST on Outdoor Channel.


Andrea Logan White: Moms' Night Out

Andrea Logan White's resume ranges from heavy drama ("Sarah's Choice") to light comedy ("Veggietales: Princess and the Popstar") to apocalyptic action ("Revelation Road: The Beginning of the End"). But it has been consistent in one respect: it's target audience of Christian viewers. This May, she stars opposite Patricia Heaton (The Middle), Sean Astin ("The Lord of the Rings" trilogy), Glee's Harry Shum Jr., and country music superstar Trace Adkins in the family-friendly comedy "Moms' Night Out."

We spent a few moments with Andrea to discuss her role in the film, and about being a Christian in the film industry.

You'll be starring in the upcoming film, "Moms' Night Out." But you're more than just acting in it -- this was your baby from the beginning, wasn't it?


Vicki Lawrence: America's Favorite Mama

Long before Tyler Perry made himself up to look like an old woman, the young Vicki Lawrence was putting on the padding and powder to make herself into Thelma Harper for The Carol Burnett Show. The character was too big to be held to sketch comedy, however, and insisted on having her own show, giving rise to six seasons of the fan favorite situation comedy, Mama’s Family.

As Time Life presents the complete series on DVD, and Vicki tours the country with her “two woman show” of herself and Mama Harper (see for details and schedules), we were privileged to steal a few moments to look back at the roots of Mama’s Family.

Can you recall your feelings, and the audience reaction, the very first time you walked out on a stage in the persona of Mama?


Knightess Rouge: On the Serious Business of Cosplay

Knightess Rouge

Comic conventions have come a long way since I first began attending them back in the mid 1980s. Back then, even the large conventions -- in this case the Chicago Comicon, pre-Wizard World -- were pretty much glorified flea markets with a focus on comics, games and toys, with the big plus being that your favorite artists and writers would be in attendance. Oh, and to get an autograph, you just had to stand in line -- not buy a ticket. (If anyone wants to hear my Peter David story regarding book signings, I never tire of telling it.)

Even then, there were fans who wanted to take things up a notch and create costumes of their favorite comic book heroes and villains. I myself created a hand-made Joker outfit that largely consisted of a white pair of pants and a white Don Johnson cotton jacket that had been soaked in purple Rit, white pancake makeup, lipstick, and a pistol that popped out a "BANG!" flag. That was about as elaborate as things got in those days.


Alison Arngrim: Original Prairie Bitch

Alison Arngrim Little House Prairie

If you had a television at all in the 1970s and 1980s, you can't help but be intimately familiar with Little House on the Prairie -- and thus, you probably grew up hating one of the original "mean girls" of media, Nellie Oleson.

"Nellie" -- Alison Arngrim to citizens of the real world -- is all grown up now, and while she's still true to her Little House fans, she's moved on to other facets of entertainment... and some extremely important work as well, turning personal tragedy into an impetus for rescuing children in trouble. Despite working in some disturbing corners of the world, Alison remains full of energy, spirit, and good humor. I hope that comes through in this transcription as much as it was evident in our actual conversation.

We've met up on Twitter, where you're very active.

I tweet. I twat. I'm all over it.


Dr. Dina: The 4/20 411 on Medical Marijuana and Media Myths

Marijuana has been a plot device in film and television ever since the 1936 debut of "Reefer Madness" and on up through every Cheech and Chong film of the 70s.

Most recently, pot was the driving force between the multi-season Showtime series, Weeds, from Jenji Kohan. The series starred Mary-Louise Parker as the fictional Nancy Botwin, a suburban soccer mom and widow who turns to selling weed to make ends meet after the death of her husband. The adventures quickly escape suburbia and into the realm of Mexican drug cartels and DEA agents.

As fictional as Nancy Botwin is, the woman she was modeled on, known as Dr. Dina, is as real as they come. An outspoken advocate for medical marijuana as well as a force of nature, Dr. Dina spoke with The Trades to deliver "the straight dope," so to speak, on the American love/hate affair with weed.

Why is this an important issue to you, and how did that come about?


Further Down the Rabbit Hole with Frank Beddor

Frank Beddor Hatter M Looking Glass Wars Interview

Once upon a time, a certain creative individual found himself possessed of the idea to write an alternative take on Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Several years later and a number of prose books and graphic novels under his belt, Frank Beddor still finds himself lost in the wonder, as Princess Alyss and Hatter Madigan continue to weave their personas into new adventures, in new forms.

Perhaps there really is a stream of imagination coming from the Wonderland dimension. If so, Beddor seems to have tapped into it's mainline, and is drinking from it deeply.


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