AJP Toon

Hanging around the Web

Haven't done this in a long time, and for some reason the end of the year seems an appropriate juncture to collect up various links and stuff as to where you can find me on the old inter-web thingy.

Alan J Porter - Scribbler of Books, Comics, Article and other stuff... - the main website for all my writing activities.

Live Journal - been on here the longest (since 2002). Drifted away from it being a personal blog over the last few years as social media accounts took over, but hoping to drag it back more in that direction in the future.
The Content Pool - Thoughts and observations on the many facets of Digital Publishing.
Can't See The Forest - my blog space on the RevolutionSF.com site - currently using as a collection point for my Star Trek Comics Timeline project.

Personal FB page - I only friend people I know, meet, or have worked with.
4Js Group - FB page for my consulting practice.
WIKI: Grow Your Own for Fun & Profit - FB page related to my latest book project.
GOD SHOP - FB page for my online manga style comic.
Austin Comics Creators Group - FB page I maintain for the ACCG.

@alanjporter - my main Twitter account for personal observations and writing updates.
@4jsgroup - for digital publishing and technical communications industry thoughts and updates.
@austincreators - Twitter account for the Austin Comics Creators Group.( Which I don't update nearly as often as I should.)

Me on other sites
- Amazon.com author's page.
- Goodreads author's page.
- Library Thing author's page.
- RevolutionSF - Where I hang out as an Editor-At-Large, contributing the occasional column and movie reviews.
Tokyopop - GOD SHOP online comic.
- Wikipedia entry (which is in need of updating)
AJP Toon

The Weekly Haul - 12/29/10 - What comics I picked up this week and why.

The last visit to Austin Books of 2010 today. So how did I end the year in funny books?

Action Comics #896 (DC) - Paul Cornell continues to knock it out of the park with his excellent run examining just what makes Lex Luthor tick. The Jimmy Olsen second feature is also a fun read. Perhaps my favorite mainstream DC title of the moment.
Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes #2 (Marvel) - All ages title based on the cartoon series currently running on Disney XD. Picked up a copy to see how it matches up to the animated show (which I've recently started to catch up with).
Batman: The Brave & The Bold #2 (DC) - The cartoon series continues to be an absolute blast, and these tie-in all-ages style adventures are often just as much fun. Although not sure why this title went through a "re-launch" last month as there is no discernible change in style, content or format.
Batman: Dark Knight #1 (DC) - The overdue launch of the newest Batman title by David Finch. Never the quickest artist around, adding scripting chores to the mix means this book is almost doomed to shipping delays from the start. having said that, on a quick flick through the art looks dynamic - so I hope the story holds up too.
Detective Comics #872 (DC) - Great to see DC's flagship book returning to its titular roots under the new creative team of writer Scott Synder and artist Jock.
Captain America #613 (Marvel) - I've been dipping in and out of this book over the last few years, the individual stories are often strong but somehow it never hooked me enough to make it a monthly book. Trying again with the start of a new story arc.
Jack of Fables #49 (DC/Vertigo) - The penultimate issue of my pal Matt Sturges' fun filled and absurd (in the best sense) trip through the many lives, and lies, of the fairy tale Jack.
S.H.I.E.L.D. #5 (Marvel) - The thinking man's back story to the creation of the modern Marvel Universe. The gap between issues makes it sometimes difficult to pick up the threads of this densely plotted series, but each issue is a reward in itself. I hope that when they do a trade collection of this series if comes with annotations and notes.
Thunderstrike #2 (Marvel) - An exercise in sheer nostalgia here, as I have fond memories of enjoying the original series and this next-generation style revival is looking interesting.
Widowmaker #2 (Marvel) enjoyed the first issue of this Black Widow/Hawkeye/Mockingbird mini-series enough to pick it up again.
AJP Toon

My Movie Year in Reviews

Thanks to my good friend, Rick Klaw, I've been lucky enough to attend quite a few advance press-screenings for various movies over the last 12 months. when appropriate I have even penned a few reviews for the great folks over at RevolutionSF.com.

As much as a reminder to myself, here's a run-down and links to my various reviews from 2010.

CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER - 7/10 - The third installment of the Narnia chronicles revolves around the two youngest of the Pevensie children, Lucy (Georgie Henley), and Edmund (Skandar Kyenes), returning to the magical land of Narnia, where they are legendary rulers, to join their friend, King Caspian (Ben Barnes), in a search for seven magical swords needed to drive an all encompassing evil that is infiltrating his newly peaceful realm. Also reluctantly drawn into the adventure is their annoying and skeptical cousin, Eustace (an excellent Will Pulter in his first feature role).

Plot-wise, this installment is the thinnest of the Narnia stories, as it lacks many of the twists and turns of others, and it does not include any grand battles. Yet The Dawn Treader has always been my favorite book in the series (it's actually the fifth installment), as it's the most character driven.
- Full Review

DESPICABLE ME - 6/10 - Pretty much everything you need to know about Despicable Me is covered by the four theatrical trailers, which have been playing for a while now. String three of the trailers together and you basically have the first five minutes of the movie.

The predictable plot centers around an aging and somewhat unsuccessful super-villain named Gru (voiced by Steve Carell), who has been upstaged by a young upstart, Vector (Jason Segel), after he pulls off a theft of one of the Pyramids.
- Full Review

RED - 8/10 - RED is everything recent movies such as The Losers and The Expendables tried to be but failed. A mix of buddy movie, band reunion, May-December romance, political thriller and plain flat out action movie, it works on all those levels except one.

The one area it falls down is with the political thriller plotline which is meant to be the driving force behind the heroes' actions. But it doesn't really matter why they are doing what they are. It’s just fun to watch them do it.
- Full Review

ROBIN HOOD - 4/10 - When you sit down to watch a movie with the words "Robin" and "Hood" in the title there are certain things you expect to see. You know, things like the lead character becoming an outlaw, taking to Sherwood Forest and then robbing the rich to give to the poor.

If that's the expectation you have for this Ridley Scott directed Russell Crowe action flick, don't hold your breath, because none of that happens until the closing minutes of the movie.

Whatever this movie is, the one thing it isn't is a Robin Hood movie.
- Full Review

SCOTT PILGRIM VS THE WORLD - 9/10 If you've ever played a video game, read a comic, watched anime, jammed in a garage band, liked movies, or been in love; then you need to see this movie.

It's as simple as that.

I've read snarky reviews in some of the mainstream press that say this movie is only for video game obsessed twenty-somethings. They are wrong.
- Full Review

TOY STORY 3 - 8/10 - When Pixar originally announced they were doing a sequel to Toy Story, I was skeptical. There was no way they could recapture the magic of the original, which is simply one of the best buddy-movies ever made. Yet, in 1999 they proved me wrong. Toy Story 2 was a wonderful movie.

If I was skeptical eleven years ago, I was even more distrusting this time around. The early trailers made it look like this was going the way of most franchise third installments, and suddenly overload the plot with a mass of new characters I didn't care about.

It also appeared that it was pandering to Hollywood's current infatuation with 3D. I should have known better. My new mantra should be "Trust in Pixar."
- Full Review

TRON: Legacy - 4/10 - Back in 1982 a movie was released by Disney that I never expected to see from that particular studio; a movie dealing with the still nascent world of computer science and its growing impact on pop culture. That movie, Tron, proved to be a little disappointing in terms of story telling, felt over long (even though it was just 96 minutes), but was for its time a visually stunning event whose imagery stayed with me long after the movie was over. Over the years it became something of a cult classic that many, including myself, remembered fondly.... - Full Review
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James Bond comics covers from around the world - #104 - "Operation: Bluchar"

Art for the James Bond comics story, Operation: Bluchar, an original story, first published in issue #8 of the Swedish James Bond, Agent 007 title in 1984.

Russian reprint cover

This story was also reprinted and published in Finland, Hungry and Norway.

Find out more on the history of James Bond in comics, check out JAMES BOND: A history of the illustrated 007, now on sale through a good bookstore near you!
AJP Toon

The Weekly Haul - 11/27/10 - What comics I picked up this week and why.

A few days late visiting the fine folks at Austin Books this week, but we can't let a week go by without refreshing the stack of four-color fun. Today's selection definitely had a focus on iconic characters in tights & capes.

- Action Comics #895 (DC) - The best DC Universe title of the moment gets better each issue as Paul Cornell continues to offer an intelligent take on what drives Lex Luthor.
- Amazing Spider-Man #649 (Marvel) - Dan Slott's new "Big Time" story arc is proving to be a fun take on the modern Spidey and his supporting cast.
- Astonishing Thor #1 (Marvel) - Mike Choi's art gives this new Thor title an interesting illustrative look. Hope the Robert Rodi script lives up to it.
- Batman & Robin #17 (DC) - I'm looking forward to Paul Cornell's fill in story arc and his first Batman story.
- Batwoman #0 (DC) - J.H.Williams artwork made The Batwoman stories a while back in Detective Comics made it one of the best looking comics in decades. This one-shot reintroducing the character looks like it will maintain that quality.
- Detective Comics #871 (DC) - Talking of Detective Comics, with this issue new writer Scott Snyder promises to return Batman to his "World's Greatest Detective" roots - it's about time.
- Fantastic Four #585 (Marvel) - Still consistently the strongest Marvel title of the moment.
- Justice Society of America #45 (DC) - Picking up this run to check out the art by my friend, Scott Kolins.
- Thunder Strike #1 (Marvel) - Always the most fun of the string of 1980s style "replacement heroes", it's good to see Eric Masterson back.
- The Traveler #1 (BOOM!) - The latest entry into the new line of Stan Lee inspired heroes. This one written by the always entertaining Mark Waid.

Graphic Novels
- Superman: Earth One (DC) - Thought it was time to check out the new original graphic novel designed to reintroduce the Man of Steel to a new generation of book store readers.

CARS comics magic.

As much as I enjoy writing prose, be it for books or articles; there is something extra special about creating comics. For year's I've had a sticker on the side of one of the filing cabinets in my office that reads "COMIC BOOKS: Enjoy the Art of Reading," and that for me is the perfect description of what makes the medium so special - that magical mix of art and words that combines to provide, at times, an almost magical experience unmatched in any other type of story-telling.

If creating comics is special, then working on all-ages comics is pure joy. The looks on the various kids' faces at the recent Wizard World con in Austin when they spotted the CARS books on my table were priceless. So were the various "thank you"s from parents who were looking for a way to share a love of the medium with their kids, or for something that would engage the younger generation in a love of reading. All-ages comics can be the perfect cross-generational bonding experience.

This morning I received a note from my good friend, and indy-comics champion, Wayne Beamer that once again bought home the point of the power of comics.

Thought you'd love to know my daughter Skyped me last night so I could watch my granddaughter Zoe reading your CARS Vol. 1 Graphic Novel to her brother Zack. Thanks for making comics my grandkids love to read. :)

That short note made my day.

(1) Postscript to this post from Wayne - What Alan and I didn't know before he wrote his awesome blog post: Going to a doctor's appointment the other day, Sandy told a little boy on an elevator that a friend of hers wrote comics about the Cars chracters on his t-shirt. In turn, his Mom asked Sandy to give Alan a big thank you for writing comics her child could read. Awesomeness squared...

(2) and CARS cover artist Allen Gladfelter has started blogging about his experience working on the CARS book over the last couple of years. - Check out his stories and sketched HERE

AJP Toon

Great words..

Yesterday marked the 47th Anniversary of the first broadcast of Doctor Who, easily the most influential TV show of my life. Who has been a constant companion, even when it was off the TV I was still immersing myself in its mythos through novels, comics, and audio dramas.

Like most Who fans, I posted a couple of things on my Facebook page yesterday linking either to videos or the relevant BBC archive pages.

When I switched on my laptop this morning the You Tube page was still on a Who video - but what caught my eye was a link to something I had not seen since it's first broadcast in 1989; the final moments of the final story in the "classic" Dr. Who era.

There are worlds out there where the sky is burning, and the sea's asleep, and the rivers dream. People made of smoke, and cities made of song. Somewhere there's danger, somewhere there’s injustice, and somewhere else the tea's getting cold. Come on, Ace — we’ve got work to do!

What great words with which to both end an era, and sow seeds for a unknown future.
AJP Toon

The Weekly Haul - 11/17/10 - What comics I picked up this week and why.

Haven't done this in a while, but let's take a look at the stack of comics sitting on my night stand, thanks to the fine folks at Austin Books:

- Amazing Spider-Man #647 & 648 (Marvel) - after a couple of weeks on the road I'm catching up on what is probably one of the consistently best superhero titles on the stands at the moment.
- Avengers Prime #4 (Marvel) -The best of the various Avengers books currently being published. Alan Davis art is always a sure winner.
- Batman #794 (DC) - It isn't often the main Bat-title is under the care of a single writer/artist - I'm interested to see how Tony Daniel will handle it.
- Batman: The Return #1 (DC) - With a creative team of Grant Morrison and David Finch this should be a solid read.
- Batman Incorporated #1 (DC) - I must admit I don't like this idea of franchising out the Batman persona - but I'm curious to see how Grant Morrison handles it.
- Captain America: Man Out of Time #1 (Marvel) - Mark Waid's run on the mainstream Cap title was the last time I read it on a regular basis, so I'm happy to see him writing the character again.
- Knight & Squire #2 (DC) - Despite my misgivings about the Batman Inc. concept, I'm loving this uniquely British spin on the Batman franchise written by my friend Paul Cornell - this is "Carry On Batman."
- Northlanders #34 (DC/Vertigo) - This great historical series continues to deliver strong story telling every issue.
- The Last Phantom #3 (Dynamite) - This is turning out to be a very interesting take on The Ghost Who Walks.
- Soldier Zero #2 (BOOM!) - another interesting take on the superhero genre from Paul Cornell.
AJP Toon

Life catch-up

Well despite the promise I made to myself late in September that I would update this journal on a more regular basis, i have somehow managed to ignore it for over a month. My only excuse is that it's been a hell of a busy, and eventful month. Well it's time to rectify that situation....

The Writing Life

The last time I posted here I was in New York for the New York ComicCon. It was a fantastic, busy, and successful weekend during which I managed to chat to several editors, publishers, and fellow comics creators.

Personal highlights from the weekend included:
- A handshake deal on my next book project for Hermes Press.
- A couple of editors I've been talking to for a while eventually agreed to take a look at some pitches.
- Conversations with a publisher about some upcoming all-ages comics projects. (Since the con we've exchanged NDA documents and have a call scheduled to talk about other potential opportunities.)
- Conversations with another pop-culture non-fiction publisher on some potential ideas, one of which they liked enough to ask for a sample chapter and full proposal.
- Meeting an on-line artist friend in person for the first time and deciding to work on a web-comic project together.

I stayed in New York for a few days after the con, and managed to arrange a meeting with an editor at Del-Ray who I met at San Diego ComicCon a few years ago. She was gracious enough to make time for me, listen to some pitches. I came out of that meeting with requests for proposals and sample pages for a couple of original graphic novel projects, plus a proposal for a prose anthology book that I'm involved in.

All around a lot of follow-ups, pitches, and proposals to work on over the coming months.

The Technical Communications Life

After New York it was on to Philadelphia where I was attending the annual XML Conference. I was primarily there as a track manager for the conference, but we also chose the event for the official launch of my new book from XML Press.

Working on "WIKI: Grow Your Own For Fun & Profit" has been a blast, and I'm delighted that it's now available in both print and eBook versions.

Now it's time to actively start work on writing my next XML Press book, "The Content Pool" which is scheduled to be published in May next year.

The projected publication date is aimed so we can launch the book at next year's STC Summit, where I am track manager for the Education and Web Technology tracks. The Summit has been another area where I've been busy over the last two weeks, for as well as my Track Manager duties, I am also involved as the Deputy Program Director this year.

The Traveling Life

The week after the XML Conference in Philadelphia I started the new day job as a Senior Digital Publishing Consultant at PTC/Arbortext. Things got up to speed very quickly and after a week's training in Ann Arbor, MI, I was then off to Peoria, IL as part of a major new project being undertaken at Caterpillar. I will be heading back up north on a regular basis over the coming months (in fact I'm returning to Peoria a week tomorrow) - so I will need to stock up on a few sweaters!! The return to working as part of a large corporation is taking a little adjusting to - but I am excited by both the technical and personal challenges and opportunities ahead.

I know I mentioned a while back about trying to write some travel entries on this blog under the "Travels With The Laptop" banner. To be honest, while I managed it for my trip to San Diego - the subsequent trips to New York, Philadelphia, Ann Arbor and Peoria have gone unrecorded simply because they have been so busy, and I have so many other writing projects that are taking priority. I may still try and make some notes about places I visit in the future, but they won't be as detailed, nor will I necessarily write about every city I end up in.
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A New York moment

Whenever I'm in New York and have any time to spare, I usually make a small personal pilgrimage down to the Strawberry Fields area of Central Park and pause for a moment with my thoughts and memories at the IMAGINE circle dedicated to the memory of John Lennon. - It's always been a special place for me.

I happen to be in New York at the moment for the New York Comic-Con and a speaking engagement. By coincidence this also meant I was in town on October 9th, the day that would have been John Lennon's 70th birthday. No matter what else was happening I was determined to pay my respects at Strawberry Filed.

I am glad I made the effort, because yesterday evening turned out to be an evening I'll never forget.

It was a long walk from my hotel down to 72nd street (about 43 blocks). When I arrived at the Dakota building, Lennon's old home and the site of his assassination, there were just a few small groups of people standing around in quite contemplation, some laying floral tributes. But mainly an atmosphere of sadness and respect. There was a surreal moment when a car drove past and the sound of a Lennon song drifted across from its stereo system. Hearing John's voice while stood at that infamous spot seemed almost ghostly.

After a few minutes I crossed the street and headed into Strawberry Fields. The next two hours were amazing. The crowd around the IMAGINE circle was around 15 to 20 people deep. Everyone was singing. I stayed for two hours as we all sang Lennon songs, or laughed when people cracked jokes. It was a joyous, magical and moving celebration of John Lennon's legacy. The crowd kept getting bigger and bigger until the whole of the Strawberry Fields area was a solid mass of people. There was every age group from 7 year olds to 70 year-olds, along with a cornucopia of accents and languages - including the lady next to me who was using her cell phone to transmit the proceedings back to her family in Russia.

Here's a short video clip I shot from my cell phone of the crowd singing "IMAGINE". - It gives just a small hint of what the event was like.

As a friend wrote on Facebook after seeing that clip: Wherever John is now, he must think this is amazing.

Personally I just feel blessed that I happened to be in new York on this particular weekend and had the once in a life-time opportunity to be involved in something to mark the life and works of a man who had such a great impact on me personally and on society in general.