GOING TO Kansas City Planet Comicon: April 22 -24 2022 This Weekend!!!!

In 2019 we took the journey to check out Planet Comicon in Kansas City. I was jumping into comics head first, not knowing if I was diving into the deep end – the ocean or the kiddy pool? I had no expectations of what it would take to become a professional comic artist, which has proven to be one of the most challenging things I have ever done!

Back in 2019, our goal for going to Planet Comicon was to check it out and find out what all the buzz was about. From a business standpoint, it’s easy to see that comics are changing from the old idea that you can only ‘make it’ in comics if you work with one of the big studios. Our instinct told us that this was not the case, and over the past few years, we are seeing more and more artists leaving those studios and venturing out on their own. One of these places artists are going to is events like Planet Comicon. Events like this are among the best places to find and develop meaningful business relationships with other comic industry artists. Not to mention meeting all the incredible Comic supporters out there, as fans are the backbone of this industry. We will never forget that!

Going to the Planet Comicon in 2019 taught us so much about the possibilities and the oportintuniy to meet a variety of awesome people. This led to us having a booth in late 2019 at Wizard World in Madison, WI. One of my favorite things about that event was developing a group of relationships that continue to this today. Regardless of what opportunities are in front of us and challenges of varying degrees, we are what we make of it. Being a professional comic artist is one of the most challenging and rewarding journeys I have ever been on, yet it comes down to a simple truth: Gratitude. This world is crying for it at levels that frankly scare us.

Like any good hero’s journey, we have no desire to upend the status quo, but the call to adventure is upon us, and I can’t sit back in my corner of the world and not answer the call. So Planet Comicon, here we come! You had better watch out because we are packed with an unlimited source of love, gratitude, humility, and excitement in joining in on one of the best parties on this side of the Mississippi. See you tomorrow, Kansas City!!!!

Real Villians Wanted

Every superhero needs a fantastic villain. So what would Superman be without Lex Luther, Batman without the Joker, or Luke Skywalker without Darth Vader?

Antagonists can come in many different sizes, from physical powerhouses to mental giants. Ultimately, the villain’s purpose is to help the protagonist face and overcome a problem that the protagonist was unwilling to deal with prior. They must be worthy.

Why do you ask? Because the driving force behind Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey spurs them to become better and stronger than they ever thought they could be before. A good villain can change our definition of who and what is a hero. They are the test of the truly worthy!

However, in today’s creative storytelling works, the villains no longer threaten our heroes. We’re faced with a superficial experience. Similarly, the best villains help us question who is the ‘real villain’ or what’s the ‘true villainy’ afoot? Without them, our heroes can’t grow and change for the better or become the new person ‘reborn and resurrected’, resulting in a missing payoff when the villain is ultimate to be defeated.

One of the best examples of a ‘greatest villain of all time’ would have to be Darth Vader. He is massive in physical size, towering over his foes and visually intimidating in his all-black physical and emotional characteristics, posing a threat that cannot be overlooked or avoided by anyone in his presence. Yet, there is that excellent shroud of mystery surrounding him: what is behind that mask? The audience never sees what he looks like or deeper into who he ‘really’ is. In the originals, we only get glimpses of the type of twisted person he is under the mask and potentially what may have made him that way. Vader speaks with an unavoidably deep voice that calls us to attention and demands our respect. Physically, he is big and intimidating, but he is also knowledgeable and incredibly efficient. He never betrays his true feelings, never ‘losing his cool’ even while using the fear and anger from his enemies as his primary tool of choice.

Darth Vader exemplifies a powerful, intelligent, dominant villain that’s written in a way that commands our respect as an audience. He holds on to that identity, acting as expected – until the last moment when he sacrifices himself or ‘redeems’ himself and finally saves the protagonist, his son Luke. It’s in the final moment of an epic battle when you, the audience, know the protagonist is outmatched. However, Luke never gives up and is ultimately provided with the knowledge, experience, and wisdom to come out of his hero’s journey reborn as the new ‘ideal.’ He doesn’t leave this battle unscathed physically, mentally, and emotionally. He isn’t perfect either. No true hero is. But he overcame and is now worthy.

Yet, if we use today’s modern Kylo Ren to compare, we see that we have all the surface examples like his predecessor, Darth Vader. He’s wearing black, looks intriguing at first, maybe a little dark and mysterious. He even starts with a mask – but the mask immediately comes off. Furthermore, he has none of the backbone. Take Kylo’s intro scene as an example. He is displayed as being as strong in the force as Vader. Still, he is easily mocked by Poe Dameron – in front of his henchmen, and Poe doesn’t even suffer any meaningful consequences for publicly knocking Kylo.

From a writer’s standpoint, you invite the audience to do the same to the villain. There is no need to give him the same level of fearful respect that Vader demanded. Where’s the risk? What’s the danger? Writing this, I can’t even reference him by his last name. Next, you see Kylo break down and throw a tantrum for his lack of control, illustrating how mentally and emotionally weak he truly is. The audience is immediately shown that the protagonist will never have to possess any meaningful skills to defeat this guy. In this situation, what is a writer to do? How do you make an unforgettable hero in the face of such lukewarm evil? You’re left with the only option of making her into a ‘Mary Sue.’ Ray will never be given the respect a true hero deserves simply because you have a villain who can’t measure up…. To read the full article order your copy by clicking the button below.

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