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RI Comic Con 2018 Recap

By JAY ROBERTS

The following takes place between Saturday, November 3rd, and Sunday, November 4th. Events occurred in real time…even if I don’t write about them in chronological order.

Some might recognize my paraphrasing of the opening of the TV show 24. I think given the fact that Kiefer Sutherland was one of the parade of stars in attendance at the 2018 Rhode Island Comic Con, it is appropriate.

I spent two days at this year’s event and bore witness to many of the available options for entertainment in both the Dunkin Donuts Center and the Rhode Island Convention Center. With the exception of a couple of celebrity encounters, I decided to focus most of my time on other aspects of the convention. This recap includes interviews with writers and podcasters, photos galore and my impressions of a number of experiences. So settle in and enjoy the ride!

THE ALAN TUDYK EXPERIENCE

Long before I had decided to cover this year’s convention for an article, I knew that I wanted to go to the show. This was due to the fact that actor Alan Tudyk was scheduled to be in attendance (he was actually supposed to appear at last year’s convention but had to cancel).

Given the fact that I am a huge fan of the TV show Firefly and the follow-up movie Serenity, (I’ve met three other members of the cast in the past) getting to add Tudyk to the “I have met list” was the one true “me” moment that I had planned for in the midst of the more impartial look at the convention.

The first thing I had to do when I arrived to the convention was check in and pick up my media pass. This took about 30 seconds and then it was off to wait in line at his booth in the Rhode Island Convention Center.  Or so I thought. As it turned out Alan Tudyk had been moved to the Dunkin Donuts Center for his autograph signing, so I had to backtrack and stand in line there instead. While I was waiting in line with a sizeable contingent of his fans, I ended up striking up a conversation with more than a few people, including one couple, Jordan and Amanda, for a bit about a variety of topics. This was something that repeated itself a few times over the two days I was at the convention with other people as well. Just good naturedly talking about the shows we like and the people that made them. Camaraderie seemed to be a watchword that was taken quite seriously by all the fans. At least the ones I ended up talking to anyway.

Of course, the chat with Jordan and Amanda was ended abruptly when it was learned that Tudyk hadn’t arrived yet and wouldn’t be showing up until 2:30 pm. As all the waiting fans departed the line, I wondered what that meant for his scheduled 1:30 pm pro photo shoot.

To get that answer, I headed back to the Convention Center to purchase my photo ticket from Epic Photo Ops. It was there that I was told Tudyk would indeed be there for the 1:30 pm time. When the appointed time arrived, all the people waiting for their photos were told to stand in line to be given a new time to get our photos taken because Tudyk still hadn’t arrived. As we we all waited, I struck up a conversation with Victoria Shepard and A.J. Szymanowski, another couple of Tudyk fans. While the conversation was essentially a variation upon a theme from the signing line, it at least kept us occupied.  It was becoming a bit annoying to stand around waiting but all of a sudden we were being led into the photo area instead of just being told to come back at a later time. Alan Tudyk had arrived!  The line moved quickly and soon it was my turn. We shook hands in greeting and a few seconds later the photo was snapped and I was headed out of the room to pick up my print of said photo.

I should mention that this was my first experience with Epic Photo Ops and it couldn’t have gone better. As I followed the exit line, I passed by the table where my printed photo was already waiting for me to pick up. When I got scanned out of the photo aread, my digital copy of the photo was automatically sent to my email address. I certainly can’t find any fault with their performance as it pertained to me.

I spent a few more minutes talking to  A.J. and Victoria (where I learned that A.J. and I had the fact that both of our fathers had been cops in common) before heading back to the Dunkin Donuts Center and stood in line for about an hour or so for Tudyk’s signing session. When it was my turn with him, I had him sign my copy of the Firefly The Official Companion Volume 1 book that I’d brought with me. When I mentioned that I’d had three other cast members sign the book already he said, “Oh, you got Morena to sign it today?” (Morena Baccarin was also a guest at the convention) I told him that I’d actually met her a few years back and that his appearance was the main reason I came to the show in the first place. I didn’t see the inscription he personalized the book with until after I’d left the line but it said “I am a leaf on the wind”, likely the best known line of dialogue from his character.

That was Saturday. On Sunday morning, I crossed over to the Omni Hotel for Alan Tudyk’s Q&A panel. As it was the only celebrity panel I would attend all weekend, I made sure I got there pretty early. As I waited in the designated press line, I made conversation with a couple of other press attendees including Tracy Allen from PopHorror.com. Once we got in the ballroom and both moderator Clare Kramer (who played “Glory” on Buffy The Vampire Slayer) and Alan Tudyk were introduced, the questions came quickly and covered a variety of topics ranging from his casting in the upcoming Doom Patrol series and how he came join the Star Wars franchise. Once the questions from the audience started, Tudyk’s work in Firefly, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, Wreck-It Ralph and numerous other projects were covered.

Tudyk shared details about a possible third season of Con Man or as he put “or not.” He talked about people he wanted to work with, projects he’d like to be involved with, stuff he’d taken from the sets he’d worked on. What he took from the Firefly set ended up being a rather touching story related to the eventual making of the Serenity movie.

There was a lot more ground covered but those were some of the highlights. Each person that asked a question got a signed item from what Alan laughingly described as his “bag of crap”. Some of the stuff was old room keys from other hotels he’d stayed at, a packet of coffee, a road map of the state of Georgia or some gift cards from his celebrity swag bag.

While I didn’t feel the need to ask any questions, it was an entertaining 45 minutes full of stories and laughter and a rousing ovation was given as the panel concluded.

In all, the time spent face to face with Alan Tudyk was brief, but as a Firefly fan totally worth all that extra walking around in order to accomplish the personal goal of meeting him. Lacking any sense of impartiality, it was a complete blast for me and helped illustrate why the Firefly motto of “Keep Flyin'” still resonates to this day with every Browncoat and I’m no exception.

From left, Jay Roberts and actor Alan Tudyk

COMIC-CON INTERLUDE #1

If you happened to be looking to make a possible love connection or at the very least a new friend or two to hang out with at conventions, you could always check out The Geek Speed Dating. The company held four sessions each day for prospective geeks looking to make a match with a fellow attendee. I didn’t attend the sessions myself because that is definitely something for the younger crowd. However, from all that I’ve heard, this does seem to be a pretty popular destination at the con.

Geek Speed Dating signage

TALES FROM ARTIST’S ALLEY – MICHAEL GOLDEN

While there were a number of well known comic artists at this year’s show, the one that interested me the most was Michael Golden. He’s known for a lot of work with both DC Comics (Detective Comics, Nightwing) and Marvel Comics (The ‘Nam, G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, Savage Sword of Conan) as well as being the co-creator of Rogue from the X-Men and Bucky O’Hare. But for my brief encounter with Golden, I was mostly interested in his work on the first twelve issues of Marvel’s The Micronauts. There had been a small desire in acquiring a sketch from him but that turned out to be impossible. Still, it was great to meet him and I did come away with my copy of the first issue of The Micronauts signed.

Michael Golden

THE COMIC CON INTERVIEW – JENNIE WOOD

I was rather pleased to once again encounter writer Jennie Wood. Her graphic novel series Flutter was a big hit with me when I first met her at the 2013 Rhode Island Comic Con. Since then I’ve only become a greater fan of her work. This year, Jennie was the writer of the Altered Reality Comics The Rhode Warrior comic. I picked that up from her on Saturday along with a couple other projects she had a hand in creating. When I returned on Sunday, Jennie took some time out to talk to me about Rhode Warrior, the upcoming Dark Horse Comics collection of her three volume Flutter series and a few other topics. Here’s how that conversation went:

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: I wanted to start with The Rhode Warrior. How did it come about that you got the job to write the story?

JENNIE WOOD: Well, I know Ian Chase Nichols, who is the guy who created Rhode Warrior. He’s a fantastic artist and writer and he works for Altered Reality Comics. He and I had been wanting to work together for a while and he finally got the green light to do another Rhode Warrior comic, to kind of reboot it for this year’s Rhode Island Comic Con. So he asked me if I wanted to take it on and I said “Yes!”

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: When you were writing it, did the story come easy? Where there guidelines you had to fit? Did they have an idea of the story they wanted you to write or did they give you what would pass for free rein to creat the story before edits and everything?

JENNIE WOOD: Ian gave me free rein. I know that it is a character near and dear to his heart because he created her, so you know, I wanted to make sure that I did it justice.

He’s very passionate about the character and he and I are good friends so I felt that same passion. I wanted to just do it right. Also, she’s the Rhode Warrior, you know? She’s of Rhode Island, she’s part of Rhode Island. She’s very proud of that, so I wanted to do Rhode Island proud to.

So when I sat down to do the story, I was given free rein which was great. Altered Reality, it’s a world that’s already created that I was writing within so I had those limitations. We also wanted to keep it as kid friendly as we could. We have Little Rhodie for young kids but keep it PG-rated, which is fine. But me, I just really wanted to make a comic that would do Rhode Island and Rhode Island Comic Con proud. So I created a story that involved Rhode Island Comic Con and it possibly being cancelled. I set the story in Providence. I really tried to make Providence a character and just put as much love for Rhode Island as I could into it.

I’m not from Rhode Island. I live in Boston, but I come here a lot and there’s a lot of stuff I can relate to in terms of being the scrappy underdog that is often overlooked, which I feel like Rhode Island and Providence is. This is a beautiful city, it’s a beautiful state but people forget about it. And I put a lot of that into the comic and I could relate to that. And that’s what I tried to do, just relate to The Rhode Warrior as a character and the setting on a personal level.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: I’d like to switch gears and go to Flutter. You have the three graphic novels out in singular format but you have the trade collection of all three coming out on Dark Horse on, I believe November 21st, or somewhere around that.

JENNIE WOOD: Yes.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: I remember reading a post on social media that it was your dream to have them publish it, so how did you get the deal with them to publish the collection of all three (graphic novels)?

JENNIE WOOD: About four years ago, Dark Horse Entertainment, which is separate from Dark Horse Comics, wanted to sign a “right to shop” to build a movie deal for Flutter. So I’ve been working with them for a while on that. And that’s still very much in progress.

But, they explained to me that Dark Horse Comics was a separate entity but I had been going back and forth with Mike Richardson of Dark Horse Comics about doing something for Dark Horse Presents, like a short comic. And just the timing on that was never right. You know, I sat down to do it, Dark Horse Presents was cancelled again.

So when I finished Volume 3 of Flutter, I approached Mike Richardson about putting it out as a collection, cause I wanted to do that anyway and I said, “All three are done. How about Dark Horse putting it out?” I’ve always felt that Flutter belonged at Dark Horse, it just feels like a Dark Horse book. And he got back to me and said yes. So it’s coming out later this month.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: Now you had mentioned that you had been working with Dark Horse Entertainment and you said that there was progress. Is it is still progressing or is it stuck in “development hell”?

JENNIE WOOD: (Laughs) They decided to switch gears and focus on it as a movie, as a screen play. And I’m actually taking a crack at writing that screenplay. And that’s hard to do just because I’ve been very close to the graphic novel story for so long. So we’ll see where all of that goes, but it’s exciting.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: Now you also have other works that you do. You work on the series Fubar, which is zombie tales.

JENNIE WOOD: Yes.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: There never seems to be a lull in that lately. You have zombies and it sells. When you’re writing them, are you writing the stories and them someone’s doing the art or is there a collaboration between both you as the writer and whomever happens to being doing the art for any particular story?

JENNIE WOOD: With anthologies, it’s usually you write the story, you send it in to whomever’s putting the book together, editing the book. And then they find the artist that they think would be the best fit and then the artist takes it and runs with it. Sometimes they get back to you and want to make edits and say something like, “We’re going to take this one page and make it two.” Or “Do you want to make a dialogue tweak based on how this was laid out.” But there’s much less back and forth with something like that than with a bigger series like Flutter.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: I’m looking at your table here and you have your Singularity- Rise of the Posthumans. I know that was a prose novel anthology. What is the overall concept and your story in particular?

JENNIE WOOD: Singularity is a steampunk anthology set into the future. Basically, “madman destroys the world and the world has to rebuild itself”. It’s funny because I wrote, well it’s not funny, but I wrote this story two, three, maybe even four years ago. And, you know, post-apocalyptic but the new ruler is…basically there’s another genocide going on and killing off all the Jewish people but set into the future.

So it’s (her story) about two women who basically work together and they’re a couple. It’s about them trying to escape all of that. And I’m not going to tell you if they do or not because that’s a spoiler! All the stories are connected in this kind of post-apocalyptic world. It kind of goes back to the Victorian era. There’s no electricity. So you have this interesting mix of futuristic technology but 1800s type world.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: I can’t wait to read it! Now, where you’ve worked on both anthologies and you’ve worked on your own stuff, do you find…is it different? Do you have to be more collaborative with the anthologies as opposed to your own work? Or because you’re working with an artist on your own work as well, do you have to be open to changes or alterations to what you envision for your characters or your story?

JENNIE WOOD: It really depends on who I’m working with more than the project. I mean, when its a graphic novel series like Flutter, I’m creating that whole world but I’m doing it with an artist so there’s just a lot more back and forth as we build this world together. With an anthology, it’s a shorter story, so it’s really just tossing the ball. The script is the football and I’m tossing that ball to someone, to an artist, and let them run with it and see where they go.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: How has the weekend been going here for you?

JENNIE WOOD: Amazing! Everyone’s super friendly, super supportive. The Rhode Warrior has been, (points to table) that’s my last copy…almost sold out of that. Getting a lot of great feedback from that and a lot of enthusiasm about Flutter as well.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: I’m always glad to hear that. One last thing, we share a love of sports. How about the Red Sox?

JENNIE WOOD: So excited about the Red Sox. That weekend, Games 3, 4, and 5 was a roller coaster. Not a lot of sleep, but very, very exciting.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: I just want to thank you for talking to me today. Continued luck and I can’t wait to see Flutter on the big screen!

For more on Jennie Wood, check out her website  by clicking HERE.

Jennie Wood

COMIC CON INTERLUDE #2

Speaking of the Red Sox, if you are still basking in their World Series title as a lot of us are, the convention had you covered. You could take the “Sox VR Home Run Challenge” and through the use of virtual reality, take some cuts at the plate.

The Red Sox VR Challenge

A SPIN AROUND THE VENDOR’S FLOOR(S)

A big part of any comic convention is, of course, the vendor’s floor. And at the Rhode Island Comic Con, there was much to behold because not only did they have the main floor at the Convention Center but there were just as many vendors inside the outer hallway of the Dunkin Donuts Center as well.

And the treasure troves of stuff to be had could boggle one’s mind. You had everything from toys and T-shirts, to comic books and original artwork. If jewelry is your thing, you were covered. Need a new book to read or maybe some prop weapons? Check and check!

There was a whole lot of everything and whatever your particular focus, you were sure to come away with something that you just HAD to have!

For me, I took many a walk around the vendor’s area all weekend long and even if I didn’t make a purchase at one booth, there was always another booth down the line that had me reaching for my wallet.

I stopped by the Pawpetual Pins booth and spoke ever so briefly to Holly Smith who was running the booth.

Holly Smith of Pawpetual Pins

While they didn’t have the size I was looking for, Nineteen Sixty Three,  who’s tagline is “We Make Nerd Gear,” had a great Serenity T-shirt that I’m going to have to hit their website (click HERE) to get my hands on.

There was the Thirteenth Floor Art & Clothing Store (click HERE) that had some outstanding artwork from Billy Ludwig.

13th Floor Art and Clothing

And believe me, this is just barely scratching the surface.

Federation Comics had a great selection of movie posters and one sheets. I ended up making a Christmas purchase for a friend of mine and grabbed up a couple things for me too.

Comic books vendors were in decent supply for the convention. Pleasant View Comics had a nice setup and Ally helped me fill a couple holes in my comic collection. Another vendor, who requested to remain anonymous as they are getting out of the business and don’t need the publicity, gave me a great deal on a certain single issue that I’d been looking to get my hands on for a long time.

Pleasant View Comics signage

When I attend a convention, I invariably come home with at least one prose novel. And at this year’s Rhode Island Comic Con, there were plenty of authors to choose from. The majority of the authors were based in Rhode Island, so they were also promoting the upcoming Rhode Island Author Expo (to be held December 1st). Between promo cards on their tables and when they were talking to me, they all had a genuine enthusiasm for that event as well as Rhode Island Comic Con. For more on the Expo, click HERE.

While I myself am mostly a mysteries and thrillers fan, I was intrigued by a number of the stories that were on hand at this convention. You had science fiction from the likes of R.K. Bentley (click HERE), who’s Where Weavers Daire sounds amazing. There was also horror writer Christa Carmen (click HERE) and Emily Tallman (click HERE) who writes both horror and romantic fiction. I spoke briefly to all three of them and came away eager to check out some of their work.

Author Emily Tallman

In short, the vendor’s floor would be an easy way to quickly find yourself broke if you didn’t exercise some caution. You’d be happy because you’d found something that you wanted and/or needed but with so much to see, only a lottery win would let you afford it all! Still, it sure was fun to “window shop” a bit!

THE COMIC CON INTERVIEW – MICHAEL TERRACCIANO

Among the many new discoveries for me while I was walking down each aisle of Artist Alley was the web  comic/graphic novel series Star Power. You can check out the webcomic online by clicking HERE, or you can pick up one of the four (at this point) printed graphic novel collections of the story so far. I spoke with Star Power writer Michael Terracciano on the Sunday of the convention and here’s what he had to say about the comic.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: Can you give us a brief synopsis of the series that you’re writing, Star Power?

MICHAEL TERRACCIANO: Sure. Star Power is a web comic that I do with my friend Garth. I’m the writer, he’s the artist. We update new pages every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at our website StarPowerComic.com.

It’s about an astronomer on a space station in the far future who gets granted “the star power”. Now she has to figure out why it chose her, where it came from, what the hell’s coming after her now and why, and what happened to the rest of the galaxy beyond the borders of her interstellar civilization.

I do think it has action like Star Wars and heart and optimism like Star Trek. It’s the bright shining future that, like, no one writes about anymore.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: Is it geared toward kids, all ages or it’s pretty much anyone can read it?

MICHAEL TERRACCIANO: Anyone can read it. The same way that classic Star Wars is a lot of kid’s first sci-fi space adventure. Classic Star Wars wasn’t geared towards children, but I watched it when I was 6, 7 maybe even 5. I have very early memories of it. So Star Power is in that vein. Not for kids, but kids could easily get into it.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: What made you decide, was there a specific design to making the lead character a female? Was that how it developed originally? Did you start writing it as a male character and find it worked better as a female?

MICHAEL TERRACCIANO: Star Power has a kind of an interesting, well I think it’s interesting, backstory. It started out as a pulp two fisted ray gun adventure called Captain Space. It had a male space cop protagonist, but it didn’t really work. Our villains were more interesting than Captain Space.

When I was talking…when Garth and I were really looking over the scripts, we need to change things up a bit. This was around the time of the New 52 reboot in DC Comics when all the great female characters were rebooted into just crappy versions of themselves. We’re not seeing what we want, let’s make it. Let’s do it without patting ourselves on the back, like “look at how progressive we are. Look how we are two guys making a female lead.”

We didn’t want to make a big deal out that, we just wanna do it. By virtue of just doing it, make that be the big deal by itself. So, we played with the character. We found out that she was way more interesting than Captain Space. Compromised some more, bounced some ideas back and forth until she turned out as you see her in the books.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: Now your artist is Garth Graham. Were you a team before? Did you discover each other’s work trying to find someone to work with? How did your partnership come about?

MICHAEL TERRACCIANO: Prior to teaming up to do Star Power, we were both doing individual webcomics and we both met at a convention we were both exhibiting at. It was ConnectiCon in Hartford, Connecticut…Gawd I want to say back in 2005, maybe even earlier.

We just struck up a conversation, made friends, stayed in touch over the years. I brought my previous work to a close, he brought his previous work to a close. I said, “Hey dude, do you want to work together on something?” and after some convincing he signed on to do Star Power, well Captain Space and then it turned into Star Power.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: You said that it’s a webcomic so that you update that first. How long before it goes from the webcomic to your printed volumes, the four volumes that you have available right now?

MICHAEL TERRACCIANO: It takes about a year. That’s just due to the update schedule. We put up a new page every Monday, Wednesday and Friday so three new pages a week. Every chapter is 24 pages and every story is five chapters. There’s a set limit on how long the story is. With the update schedule, plus some breaks or convention weekends, holidays. It takes us about a year to finish the story, run the Kickstarter and then it gets printed and we distribute it to the people who have supported us or who meet us here at conventions.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: You have the four volumes available, about when would volume 5 come out?

MICHAEL TERRACCIANO: We’re updating the last chapter of our fifth storyline online now. It should be done the end of this month, early next month. I should know the exact date, but with convention weekends and other real life happenings, it could get pushed back and forth. So we’re hoping by maybe January or February 2019 we should have the Kickstarter for Book 5 ready to go.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: Now the webcomic is available at Star Power Comic.com.

MICHAEL TERRACCIANO: Star Power Comic.com, yeah. Anybody can read everything we’ve ever done over the past five years on that site. But there’s some “lore junkie” stuff in the books. If you need to know the individual histories of aliens and characters that are just way too exposition heavy to fit into a story. But if you like to know that sort of stuff, there’s “lore junkie” stuff in the back along with Garth’s sketchbooks to see his design process.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: That’s always a good thing. Especially for people first starting out with it, the books give them more of the background.

MICHAEL TERRACCIANO: More of the background, some of the histories that would be too clumsy to explain in a natural narrative or a dialogue. And maps of the star system where space station Sanctuary 6 is. Again, just like extra stuff you can’t find online.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: We’re here at Rhode Island Comic Con, have you exhibited here in the past?

MICHAEL TERRACCIANO: Nope, first time Rhode Island Comic Con, just giving it a try.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: And how has the reception been so far?

MICHAEL TERRACCIANO: Pretty good. Lots of people who come by seem very very interested. If they can’t buy books, they are definitely interested in taking a card, wanna check us out online. But the people who have bought books, either want them all at once or at least want to try the first one. A couple of people have come back the next day and said, “Alright, I need the rest of these.” So it’s been nice.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: That’s always nice. Especially at a con, if they’re coming back.

MICHAEL TERRACCIANO: Yes, Yes. I mean, people stop by because Garth’s artwork is stunning. It catches their eyes and they go like “Oh my gosh” and sort of linger. But when they come back because they like what they’ve read, that makes my heart happy…”Oh you like the story too, oh thank you.”

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: I know for me, being a long time comic fan you always appreciate the art. But for me, it wouldn’t matter how beautiful the art is, if the story isn’t there, so I can imagine how good that feels when they say “I’ve come back for the story”.

MICHAEL TERRACCIANO: It feels very, very good. And that Garth’s artwork and my writing seem to compliment each other so well and work so well together as a team really makes Star Power feel like something special. I hope other people think so too.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: Well, I’m certainly looking forward to reading it myself.

MICHAEL TERRACCIANO: Thank you, thank you.

Michael Terracciano

KIDS CON

Kids Con Banner

One of the best innovations on the part of Rhode Island Comic Con is their Kids Con. It runs simultaneously with the regular convention but is completely geared towards the younger crowd that attends with their parents. It gives the youngsters something to do that is FOR THEM. I’ve seen this in action at previous RICC shows I’ve been to and this year’s installment was exceptional as well.

You had entertainment options like April’s Balloon Creations and artist Jim Weicherding. You could have painted on tattoos or henna tattoos from The Bling Stop. They also provided kids with a chance to make their own sand art.

The Providence Children’s Museum, including Madeline Cirullo, was on hand to provide kids with the opportunity to design and make their own super hero gadgets.

Madeline Cirullo of the Providence Children’s Museum

As you can see, this particular option went over well with young Gwendolyn Lochelt who was very intensely making her project.

Gwendolyn Lochelt

Later on Saturday afternoon, the Mad Science of Southern MA & RI put on a science demonstration that drew a fair number of kids and their parents. I went to the show as well and have to say that while the experiments done where squarely aimed at the age level of the kids, it was more entertaining than anything I saw in 12 years of science classes when I was in school. “Jolting Jonathan” Breindel was a lively presence as he walked the audience through the presentation. His light-hearted manner drew the kids in and drew out laughter at times from everyone. Also on hand were “Atomic Allen” Converse, the chief mad scientist and “Terrestrial Teresa” Gisburne. I know that I wasn’t the target audience but still I really enjoyed the show. You can learn more by clicking HERE.

“Jolting Jonathan” Breindel of Mad Science

http://www.southernmass.madscience.org

THE COMIC CON INTERVIEW – SEAN WANG

Comic writer and artist Sean Wang has over 18 years of professional illustration to his credit. On the Saturday portion of the convention, I stopped by his table and ended up picking up the first two volumes in his science fiction graphic novel series Runners. When I returned on Sunday, I spoke to him about the series, here’s what he had to say:

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: To start off, very simply, can you give me an overview of the story behind Runners and how came upon creating everything to go with it.

SEAN WANG: Yeah sure. It’s basically a fun sci-fi action comedy about alien smugglers. So if you if like the original Star Wars trilogy or Firefly or Guardians of the Galaxy, it’s very much in the vein of space opera.

Basically, it just follows the exploits of a group of smugglers. In each of the two books so far, they take on a different smuggling job for the Mob and get in over their heads as you would expect them to. So they wind up on the run from bounty hunters, pirates, the police and the occasional conscience.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: Conscience, I notice how that one came last.

SEAN WANG: Yes. They have their moral dilemmas over what they’re doing and sometimes it takes a little longer to cross that line than others.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: Now you have your website, runnersuniverse.com, do you do the graphic novels…do you put anything online in advance, how does that work?

SEAN WANG: I am posting it as a webcomic. It’s been fallow for a few years as I was doing freelance. But I’m right now in the process of ramping it back up. So starting sometime in early 2019, it’s going to be starting up again in webcomic form. And I’ll be posting new pages a few times a week and then once a whole book is done, I’ll probably go through Kickstarter to get a print volume done.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: You have two volumes so far. Do you have a set idea for how you are doing it, for how many volumes you wanna have it, how you are sketching that out.

SEAN WANG: Yeah, actually that’s a great question. I’ve been working on this since probably the late 90’s when I first came up with the story and I had a whole lot of story ideas and enough material for pretty much a lifetime’s worth of work. But I wasn’t sure how much work that actually meant. So I took a good chunk of last year and actually decided to plot out the entire rest of the series and figure it all out. I actually have the story wall at home covered with colored Post-its, each color assigned to a different character and it filled up an entire wall. And through that I planned out the whole rest of the series, which will be another eight graphic novels. So the total will be ten books and at this point I have every major plot turn and every character arc figured out. And knowing all that, I’m more excited to get back to it than ever. So book three is already fully written and the rest is already plotted out, but book three I’ll start jumping into next year.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: Switching gears away from Runners for a moment, you also were involved with The Rhode Warrior comic for Rhode Island Comic Con this year. I believe it was a pin-up that you did. How did you get the call to do the work.

SEAN WANG: Oh okay. With that, actually before Runners, I got my start in the industry writing and drawing for The Tick comic books for New England Comics.  So I did a number of those books and seasonal specials and continued to do a bunch of covers for a number of years.

Through that, I got to know Ian Chase Nichols, who has been working on The Tick more recently. He’s also involved in the Rhode Island show so he reached out to me. I guess he liked my artwork enough to want to see if I wanted to contribute a pin-up for The Rhode Warrior this year.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: Going back to Runners, what’s your pitch to draw people in at the comic cons?

SEAN WANG: It’s a fun sci-fi action comedy about alien smugglers. And if you if like  Star Wars, Firefly, Guardians of the Galaxy, that kind of fun space opera then you’ll definitely like it. It is the sort of thing where I feel like everyone who has picked it up and been willing to give it a try has really loved it. And has been eagerly waiting for the next one and gets really involved in the series and into the characters.

So it’s definitely the sort of thing where if you if trying it, I’m pretty sure you’ll like it especially if you like fun space adventure. And if you like your comics to be fun. Because even though I have like a whole ten volume intergalactic war story planned out, I never want my comics to be dark and gritty. I still want to be fun, like color-wise, character-wise…a lot of fun banter, a lot of fun action scenes. While still having some dramatic stakes.

So if any of that sounds interesting to you, then definitely it’s the book you should be checking out. And also, you can read it for free at runnersuniverse.com so you don’t even have to pay for it if you don’t want to. Although if you want to buy it, that would be wonderful.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: Well, I know I picked up the two volumes yesterday. I’m really looking forward to having time to sit down and read through it. How has the Rhode Island Comic Con been for you this year? How’s the reception to the book, the whole weekend been progressing for you?

SEAN WANG: Oh it’s been really good. It’s always fun doing these shows and it’s always great meeting new people and finding new people to get enthused about the book. So yeah, it’s been a great show.

For more on Sean Wang, click HERE.

Sean Wang

COMIC CON INTERLUDE #3

If you are a movie buff with an emphasis on short films or fan made films, then you might’ve wanted to take in the Geekfest Film Festival 2018. Over Saturday and Sunday, you could check out over 30 films that covered everything from the aforementioned fan films, horror flicks, sci-fi movies, animated films and more.

Geekfest Film Festival

THE REAL JOEY PANTS

In my original plans for the Rhode Island Comic Con, I had thought about meeting actor Joe Pantoliano. He’s also known by the nickname Joey Pants, which is why the header says what it says. I wasn’t sure if I was going to do it, but on Sunday afternoon I arrived at his table in the celebrity room and spent a few minutes talking to the prolific actor (seriously, the man’s been in over 100 movies and TV shows) about his work on the sadly almost forgotten CBS crime drama EZ Streets. He played mobster Jimmy Murtha and for my money it will always be my favorite performance from Pantoliano. This was the year before his role on The Sopranos started and unfortunately EZ Streets was a failure in the ratings. When I brought out the sole DVD that has been released for the show (featuring the pilot episode and two random episodes), Pantoliano exclaimed that I was a “connoissieur”. Pantoliano really enjoyed the show and remembered that there had been an attempt to remake the show years later that also failed. In the course of our brief chat I mentioned that the show was so rare that not even the bootleggers at the convention had it and that I had begun to bother Shout Factory! to get the rights to the show released in full.

THE COMIC CON INTERVIEW #4 – ALEX PEREZ

During the course of my time on the floor in Artist’s Alley, I came across the booth for the Comic Crusaders / Undercover Capes. On Sunday morning before the convention opened up to the general public, I sat down with Alex Perez, the man in charge and talked to him about the Comic Crusaders website and the Undercover Capes podcast. Here’s what he had to say.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: You own Comic Crusaders, are you the owner of Undercover Capes as well?

ALEX PEREZ: I’m the CEO. Comic Crusaders, that’s just me and I have writers from all over the world and then on Undercover Capes it’s myself and I have several partners under that.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: Let’s start with Comic Crusaders. That’s your comic news and reviews website.

ALEX PEREZ: Exactly. That’s exactly what it is. Comic book previews, news, reviews, interviews. We’ve spoken to a lot of great independent artists, a lot of fantastic artists from Marvel and DC, we’ve even spoken to the godfather of comic books in the UK, Pat Mills, the Stan Lee of the UK.

So we’ve had people come and notice the brand and say, “Hey, you wanna talk to me?” So I’ve been blessed with having people approaching us asking us if we want to talk to them.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: How did Comic Crusaders come about? What was the germ of the idea that got you started?

ALEX PEREZ: The germ of the idea people want to be an entrepreneur and own their own business. So back in about 2006, I said “I love comic books, it’s always been a big part of my life. Let me attempt to try to do a store. Me and my friends had always talked about that. So the early beginnings were to be a store. However, the economy started tanking, times got difficult, I moved from New York to Massachusetts. When I landed here four years ago, my wife looks at me and says, “Why don’t you change this and be the TMZ of comics?”

I’m like, “I’d like to be the TMZ of comics, without the gossip.” She goes, “Then do that.” So I started changing my website around to look more newsy and then I put out a call for reviewers, to start with. The first reviewers that I got came from England, the UK, “Oh we’d be interested, what are you guys talking about?”. Cuz in the UK, there are some different books, probably sometimes there a little delayed, so we would have the opportunity to probably get things a little earlier. Something like that we’re very excited about.

So once I built at least three guys to come on board, I started pitching to the publishers what we’re trying to do. A very positive landscape for comics, build a good community. And they were with it, and began to send me PDFs for previews and whatnot and review copies. And then my team started banging out reviews and the next thing you know, we caught the notice of a lot of creators and other publishers. So anytime we’d ask, “Hey would you like us to take a look at your line?”, (They’d say) “Absolutely, here. Here’s the portal.” I’m like, “Wow!”

So we got a very early start and a good start because we started with positivity.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: That’s a good way to go.

ALEX PEREZ: Absolutely!

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: You see a lot of the negativity online, stuff that they just get a glimpse of it and declare it stinks so a little positive reinforcement is actually an uncommon way to go.

ALEX PEREZ: Absolutely. Because there’s a lot of things going on in the comic book community. Comics-Gate, arguments about POC and diversity, diversity hires only for diversity hires sake and whatnot. So there’s a lot of noise in the industry when you look at it in the social scale through apps and whatnot. But when you come to a show like this at a comic con, you see none of that. You see nothing but love and community between fans of all types. Whether it’s games, comics, Hollywood fans. But they all come here together, it’s amazing, you see none of it. It drives me nuts when I see that socially via the apps, you see so much negativity. There are some people like Gail Simone, trying to fight the good fight with love, not bad words. So that’s great not to see it here in person.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: Moving on to Undercover Capes, how did your podcast come about?

ALEX PEREZ: Okay, so when Comic Crusaders was born, two years later my guys started rumbling cause my team grew. I started getting a lot more female writers from all over the world and a lot of other males added up to the team. And they said, why don’t we do podcasts?

But I knew nothing about podcasting. But one day, another writer comes to the team and this guy named Dusty Good comes out of nowhere and says, “I’d love to be a reviewer.” Tried him out, everything worked out. After one month, he goes, “Hey, I’m a podcaster and I would love to work with you on a podcast. I said, “I know nothing about it.” He says, “I’m an engineer, I got you.”

He basically helped me set up the podcast. We called it “The Capes” at first and it was basically myself, him and two of my other writers from the team and it went well. Dusty had a lot of personal issues he was going through within that first year and unfortunately had to step away.

When he stepped away he said, “Alex, I’m going to give you Undercover Capes. It’s yours, do with it as you wish.” So from there I just looked at my team and said, “Ok guys, this was given to me. The first thing I want to do is thank you guys for your service. I want to make you partners in this.” Once we pulled the partnership stuff, then it’s let’s start building the shows and the next thing you know, I have people again in the UK, West Coast, down South. Even as far as Australia now, my podcast team.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: So, a worldwide reach then?

ALEX PEREZ: Exactly. And it’s amazing because we can talk to any type of creator no matter where they are in the world. Where going to have someone that will be available at whatever time, just because of all the different time zones we’re hitting. I mean, in Australia, it’s already tomorrow.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: Yeah, it’s like 15 hours ahead I think it is?

ALEX PEREZ: Exactly. Can you imagine trying to do to a podcast with an Australian on American time? So when I’m drinking a beer at night, he’s drinking his first cup of coffee.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: We hope.  You had mentioned that you have a cast of characters for writers. You have a large, diverse group of writers working for Comic Crusaders. Do you feature a lot of turnover to that? When someone leaves, do you put out an open call?

ALEX PEREZ: I put out an open call. Sometimes guys gotta take a step away. Whether’s it’s health issues, family concerns or just kind of reinvigorate/refresh. Some of them step away for a month, some of them don’t come back. Those that don’t come back, so long as you let me know, I don’t mind. I have an open door policy cause I appreciate what my writers do. And so long as you never do anything negative to hurt me, why shouldn’t I not bless you back in.

So as soon as someone does leave, yes, I put out a call via social forums. You know, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. My most successful forum has been Twitter, but some of my best come out of Facebook.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: Now you’re at Rhode Island Comic Con this weekend. How has it been going for you, the foot traffic? Have you had a lot of people stopping by to check it out and been able to talk to them and get them to check out your site and your podcast?

ALEX PEREZ: Yes, it’s been great. The foot traffic Friday looked a little slow, but it’s something you can expect on a Friday. However, Saturday was great foot traffic. I mean I’m giving away free goodies.

People have been leering at me when I say “free”. I don’t want blood, I don’t want nobody’s soul. It’s really free. It was donated by a lot of great publishers for the fans. So yesterday, they were much more receptive to the freebies, to the business cards, what we were about. And it was great to see after the show, when I looked through my social media on Comic Crusaders and Undercover Cape, fans were reaching back out saying “Thank you for the freebies, thank you for the free raffle.” So it kind of made me feel really good that people were appreciating what we are doing.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: That’s always good to hear. Now I had spoken to you yesterday in advance of setting this interview up and you had mentioned that you were possibly going to be interviewing artist Joe St. Pierre for Undercover Capes. Did that come about?

ALEX PEREZ: It happened. Joe was just walking around looking for our table cuz our number’s not listed. But I told him down the corner on 400. Came on down, sat with my host for the No-Prize Podcast, Bud Young. And Bud and JSP kicked it for about 30 minutes talking about the show, all of Joe’s future projects. And obviously with Venom being out, Joe got a little hot because he was early on in those Venom artwork on Marvel. So I was very happy that he got a lot more attention this year, cause he has a great project on Astronaut Ink called The New Zodiax.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: Oh yes, I’ve read it.

ALEX PEREZ: Isn’t that a great book?

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: Every time I’ve seen him at maybe three or four other cons, each time since the first time when I bought the trade, I’d ask him, “When’s the next one coming out? When’s the next one coming out?” So like you, I’m really excited and think it’s a really great read.

ALEX PEREZ: I’m trying to make him make sure that “Taurus” looks like me. (laughs)

For more on Comic Crusaders, click HERE. To check out the Undercover Capes network of podcasts, click HERE.

Alex Perez of Comic Crusaders

NEW EXPERIENCES

I had a couple of new experiences in attending my third Rhode Island Comic Con. The first was simply going to both weekend days of the event. Whenever I’ve attended a comic con (the 2005 Wizard World Philly convention being the sole exception), I’ve just gone up for the Saturday and gone home afterwards. It was always one and done for me. But since my media pass covered the entire weekend, I took advantage of it and immersed myself that much more.

That second day featured the other new experience. My friend Roger was at the show handling guest wrestler Road Warrior Animal. Back when I was about twelve and the Road Warriors were the dominant tag team in wrestling, I worshiped at the altar of Animal and Hawk. So being able to ride up with my friend and Animal for Sunday’s closing day of the convention was a fun little treat. It’s not that anything earth-shattering happened in the car ride or anything, but I got to have a chat with Animal in a setting where I wouldn’t be interrupted all that much. Believe me, the twelve-year-old wrestling fanatic inside of me was pretty excited the whole ride up.

Road Warrior Animal

COSPLAY

This year’s convention was, as would be expected, packed with cosplayers that hit pretty much the entire spectrum with their character choices. You had more than a few Harley Quinns (in her various incarnations) as well as dozens of other comic book characters), zombies, Game of Thrones characters and a whole lot more. Of course, I was on the lookout for anyone doing Firefly cosplay and I was not disappointed. One of my favorite random cosplayers was dressed as Spoiler from the Batman family of characters. I was rather amazed and impressed to see a relatively unknown character being so well represented. The following photos are just a sample of the all the costumed wonderment that there was to behold.

Firefly’s Malcolm Reynolds and Kaylee
Firefly’s Inara and Kaylee
Firefly’s Jayne (two of them at once!)
Cosplayers Victoria Shepard and A.J. Szymanowski
Cosplayer Kit Espada as Pippi Longstocking
Spoiler
Supergirl
Little Harley Quinn
Deathstroke
Domino
The Riddler
Doctor Strange
Cyborg
Mrs. Brisby from The Secret of NIMH
Doctor Who – The Fourth Doctor
Batman family
Hawkgirl
Raven
The Flintsones car

FINAL THOUGHTS

So there you have it!

My experience at the 2018 Rhode Island Comic Con was one for the books. I got to meet someone that I’m a big fan of but even more importantly I got to really dive deep into all that a convention has to offer. It gave you plenty of avenues to explore your individual passions. Whether it was meeting a celebrity, buying a comic, talking to and making new friends, or dressing up as your favorite character, it was all there waiting for you to make it happen at the 2018 Rhode Island Comic Con!

I should mention my special nod of appreciation to everyone involved in the show for providing the media pass for the event.

After having an overall positive experience like this, I am actually quite looking forward to what’s to come for Rhode Island Comic Con 2019!

PUBLISHER’S NOTE – This year’s Rhode Island Comic Con also featured an exclusive black and white Pennywise Funko Pop that was available exclusively at the Toy Vault booth. It was such a treat to purchase one of these!

Exclusive Pennywise Funko Pop sold by Toy Vault

The Cassette Chronicles – Lizzy Borden’s ‘Menace to Society’

By JAY ROBERTS

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.

LIZZY BORDEN – MENACE TO SOCIETY (1986)

Menace To Society is the second album from Lizzy Borden and I’d venture to say that it is one of the band’s most memorable releases. This is almost certainly due to the fact that the album contains one of the group’s all-time best songs in “Notorious”. 

Even though my timeline with the group didn’t start until the Visual Lies release, I do remember hearing “Notorious” on the various hard rock and metal specialty programs I would listen to on the radio. The song is an absolute classic! It rocks you hard and fast and with singer Lizzy Borden spitfiring the lyrics and the memorable backing chorus to give me depth to the song, it was pretty much the perfect situation for this song to come alive.

The problem for me with this particular album is that while others may consider this a classic of the mid 80’s metal era, I found myself more than a little unhappy with the majority of the other tracks on the cassette. 

The album opened with “Generation Aliens” and while it had a fast paced music soundtrack and a speedy delivery of the vocals, the song just never really took off for me. That kind of balls-out metal attack was also featured on “Stiletto (Voice of Command)” but with the same result. There’s nothing overtly wrong with the songs but at the same time, it is instantly forgettable once the song ends. It doesn’t have a stick to your ribs kind of staying power.

If I’m being honest, I felt that way about “Terror On The Town” and the title track as well. Even though I wrote about the band’s Give ‘Em The Axe EP in a previous article in this series where I said that I enjoyed the raw sound of those recordings, I just didn’t with this release. 

I say this because songs like “Bloody Mary”, “Love Kills”, “Brass Tactics” and “Ursa Minor” were gawdawful. And while I didn’t care for the songs in general, I was left wondering if the material would’ve sounded better if there’d been more of a polish to them in the production.

I also wonder if the fact that I loved the way Visual Lies sounded so much, if that affects the potential enjoyment factor for any of the releases that come before it. A song here and there sure but is my overall perception filtered through my love of that album? Gives me something to ponder as I listen to albums for future articles.

I should mention that the song “Ultra Violence” stands out alongside “Notorious” as a great track from the album. But unfortunately that’s about it. I missed out on this album when it was released in 1986, so when I dug this album out of the “Big Box of Cassettes” I had some high hopes that it would affect me in the same kind of positive manner that Give ‘Em The Axe did. But those hopes were mostly dashed and instead I was left feeling kind of gypped because I should’ve really dug this album. The fact that I didn’t seems like a musical failure on my part.

NOTES OF INTEREST – The album was reissued on CD in 2002 and has four bonus tracks. It was reissued again in 2018 on vinyl.

On June 14th, 2018 the new Lizzy Borden album My Midnight Things was released after an 11 year wait between new studio albums.

The Cassette Chronicles – Europe’s ‘Prisoners in Paradise’

By JAY ROBERTS

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.

EUROPE – PRISONERS IN PARADISE (1991)

Welcome to another edition of “How did I not pay more attention to this album when it first came out?”

After the release of Europe’s 1988 album Out Of This World, I kind of soured on the band a little. So three years later when they released Prisoners In Paradise, I didn’t really give it much of a second thought. I heard the title track and while it had all the earmarks to make it a “Europe-type” song, I just kind of said, “OK” and moved on with my life.

But as luck would have it, the album ended up in my collection TWICE. My friend Jeff found a CD edition of the album and I picked up the cassette on a shopping trip. Once I got around to listening to it, I definitely have to break out the wet noodle for 50 lashes due to a small musical mind.

Now, it has to be said first off that if you didn’t like the 80’s sound of Europe, you probably won’t think much of this album either. But for those of us who do enjoy all that encompasses being a child of the 80’s metal era, this album is an audio feast.

The album opens with “All Or Nothing” which is a rocking track with a vibrantly ripping guitar solo. The band sounds great and singer Joey Tempest is in fine voice throughout each and every song on the album.

Side one really doesn’t have much of a downside. I liked the chorus to “I’ll Cry For You” a bit more than the main portion of the lyrics, but still overall the song was a great listen. “Little Bit Of Love” gets  your blood pumping and no matter where you turn, there’s a lot of quick stepping rock and roll for you to enjoy. “Talk To Me” and “Seventh Sign” are also staggeringly great.

When you flip the cassette over, things continue on in thrilling fashion. While the title track has all the hallmarks of a ballad in terms of the lyrical content, there’s far more “power” than “ballad” to the track. 

There’s more of an edgier rocking vibe than you might be used to with “classic Europe” on the song “Bad Blood”. It’s like you are being let in on something very few know about. It might be some kind of hint of what was to come when the band reformed, but any which way you look at it, the song is a winner.

For me, the only real downside to any one song on the album was on “Homeland”. The song was pretty slow moving and featured Tempest reflecting back on life and decisions made.  But I ended up restless to get on to the next song. 

But in the spirit of all that is good in rock and roll, the last three songs on the album more than make up for the momentary disappointment on “Homeland”. 

The song “Got Your Mind In The Gutter” has a great vibe. The rocker grabs you and there’s a great vocal turn from Tempest. And while “Til My Heart Beats Down Your Door” likely will make you think it is another ballad, it actually has more going for it than that.

While I loved most of the album, I particularly enjoyed the last song “Girl From Lebanon”. There’s just something to this song that really made it so appealing to me. As I listened to it, I couldn’t help but be struck by Joey Tempest’s vocals. They seemed almost conspiratorial in nature and made me think the track would serve as a great musical theme for a spy novel or something. Of course, the lyrics don’t really lend themselves to this idea of mine, it was just the overall feeling I got from the song in total.

In short, what I’m saying is that while I definitely should’ve listened to this album back in 1991, I’ve listened to it now. And what I found was that on what was the band’s last gasp in their first go-round, they more than delivered the goods. Prisoners In Paradise is a solid gold album that should probably be re-evaluated by a lot more people than just myself.

NOTES OF INTEREST – This was Europe’s last studio album for 13 years when they released Start From The Dark in 2004 and overhauled their sound.

Prisoners In Paradise is the last album to feature guitarist Kee Marcello.

Mr. Big front man Eric Martin co-wrote the lyrics to the song “All Or Nothing”.

Paula Poundstone returns to the Narrows Center

FALL RIVER — Armed with nothing but a stool, a microphone and a can of Diet Pepsi, comedian Paula Poundstone is coming to the Narrows Center in Fall River, MA, on November 25, 2018. Purchase tickets HERE.

Poundstone began nurturing her stand up comedy talent in 1979 as part of the Boston comedy scene. Since then, her ability to create humor on the spot has become the stuff of a legend. Little wonder people leave her shows debating whether the random people she talked to were “plants”—which, of course they never are, and complaining that their cheeks hurt from laughter.

Poundstone’s spontaneity and razor-sharp wit have made her one of the most popular panelists on NPR’s hilarious weekly news quiz show, Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me, and her commentaries can be heard on NPR’s Morning Edition and read on the Huffington Post.  Her first book, There’s Nothing In This Book That I Meant To Say, (with a foreword by Mary Tyler Moore) was published by Random House in 2007. Her second book, The Totally Unscientific Study of the Search for Human Happiness, was published last year. The book debuted at #1 on Amazon best sellers lists in Humor in Hardcover, Audible, Kindle and CD within its first ten days of release and is now out in paperback. The audio book, read by Paula, was one of five finalists for the 2018 Audio Book of the Year.

Poundstone’s guest appearances include The Late Show with Stephen ColbertStar Talk with Neil deGrasse TysonLate Night with Carson DalyNerdist with Chris Hardwick, and she was a clue in a New York Times crossword puzzle. She’s filed commentaries for CBS Sunday Morning and Morning Edition and All Things Considered for NPR. She voices the character “Paulette” in Cartoon Network’s new animated series Summer Camp Island. An avid Disney movie fan, Paula had a dream come true when she was cast to voice the character “Forgetter Paula” in Disney/Pixar’s Inside Out, winner of the 2017 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film.

Poundstone has had numerous HBO specials and starred in her own series on HBO and ABC. Her second special for HBO, Paula Poundstone goes to Harvard, marked the first time the elite university allowed its name to be used in the title of a television show.

Poundstone was the first woman, in its then 73rd year, to perform standup comedy at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. She won an American Comedy Award for Best Female Standup Comic and is recognized in innumerable lists, documentaries, and literary compendiums noting influential standup comedians of our time.

The Narrows Center is located at 16 Anawan Street in Fall River. Tickets are $45 advance and $50 day of show. Tickets can be purchased  HERE.

A DAY AT SUPER MEGAFEST COMIC-CON 2018

By JAY ROBERTS

If you are a sports fan, at some point or another you’ve probably hear the phrase “If you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t tryin'”.  You are probably wondering what a sports cliche like that has to do with a comic / pop culture convention. Well, it’s simple really. If you couldn’t find something fun to do at the recent New England Super Megafest Comic Con (a.k.a. Super MegaFest), you just weren’t trying very hard!

Making a much hailed return to Framingham, Mass., after holding the event in Marlboro, Mass.,  the last couple of years, the October 13th-14th event packed in so much into the weekend, you’d be hard pressed to have tried to experience it all. But that’s not for lack of trying, let me tell you. Spread out over two floors, there was something for everyone from across the fandom spectrum.  (For clarity’s sake, everything described in this article took place on Saturday, October 13th, the day I attended the event.)

Though Super MegaFest actually kicked off with a Cosplay/Comedy Kickoff Party on Friday night, it was Saturday morning that the festivities kicked off in full. Truth be told, the fun started before you even walked in the door. That’s because surrounding the entrance to the venue was a number of famous movie and TV vehicles. You could check out the jeep and SUV from Jurassic Park as well as the Batmobile and the Joker-ized Gotham City police car.

But if famous cars weren’t your thing, you ended up doing what I did which is go inside, get checked in so you could get your wristband and head into Super MegaFest proper to really get the good times rolling!

VENDORS

“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth”. Nope, I didn’t say it, Mike Tyson did. But I did have a plan of action that got shot to hell before I even got into the Dealer Room from which every other section of the con was accessible. I was still in the hallway waiting to get in and my plan to not buy anything died a quick death.

Much like all conventions, the vendors at Super MegaFest were selling a wide range of items. You could get rare movies and TV shows on DVD, comic books, swords, masks, brownies and so much more. What killed my “no buying anything right off” plan? One comic dealer in the hallway had a trade collection I’d been looking for and I couldn’t resist the lower than expected price. Thankfully, the line sped up and I was in the big dealer room before I could spend any more money.

Of course, being in the bigger dealers was like throwing gasoline on a fire but I managed to restrain myself and instead focused on getting the lay of the land. Plus I had a schedule of events so I had to be at certain places at certain times. This was not the time to dawdle.

I quickly found that the first floor was dedicated to not just the dealer’s room but the guest artists area as well. Meanwhile, the staircase leading to the second floor of the convention was manned by members of the New England Brethren of Pirates, one of the many groups raising money for charities over the weekend. The members at the top of the staircase were all dressed as pirate wenches while once you went downstairs, the male pirates were offering the chance to “Fight A Pirate” in the foyer before you went down the hallway leading to the rooms where panels, Q&A’s and celebrity meet and greets/photo ops were being held. For more check out http://www.nebpirates.com

ARTISTS ALLEY DEALER FLOOR PART 1

I had some time to myself before the first panel I was planning to attend was scheduled. This allowed me to take a slightly more in depth tour of the dealer’s room. As I said, there were a wide variety of wares on offer. The first stop that I made was the Galaxy Creations booth. They specialize in making highly detailed masks worn by many different characters in pop culture. The focus is mostly Star Wars related, but there are a number of other shows and movies represented in the various masks on display. I had met the owner Jaycee at another con last year and was impressed by his work. So when I saw he was here, I made a point to reconnect with him. He’s got a couple of stunningly rendered masks for the DC Comics villain Deathstroke that kept calling my name while I was there. Check out their work HERE.

John Clark of Galaxy Creations

Comic book dealers were well represented as well as those selling artwork, toys and  clothing. One dealer I talked to went so far as to point out that this convention was the second to last one he was doing before he went out of the business. This statement explained why he was offering his large display of books up for bargain prices.

Threaded throughout the room were authors, comic creators and artists too. I ended up talking to a few of them including Jay Mooers, the creator, artist and writer at Eden Park Tales. His books, comics and artwork were quite eye-catching and he had this one piece that featured a zombie Santa Claus that really stood out the most. You can check out all he has to offer at http://www.edenparktales.com

Jay Mooers, co-founder of Eden Park Tales

COMIC ARTIST AREA

The comic book guest artist list criss-crossed the entire comics universe. You had a rare appearance from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles co-creator Peter Laird, TMNT artist Steve Lavigne (who’s line never seemed to get shorter all day long), Jason Badower, Sean Chen, Tim Estiloz and many others. 

I spent some time talking to four creators in particular: Joe St. Pierre, Ron Wilson, Mike Grell and Arvell Jones. Each artist was engaging and took the time to chat.

I’ve met Joe St. Pierre at a couple other cons in the last few years. I’m not sure if it was there at those other appearances but this time around he had a banner proclaiming that has done more #1 issues of Spider-Man than anyone. Given the banner and the focus of the material at his table we almost HAD to chat about the Venom movie (we both liked it) as well as prose novel thrillers and his creator-owned series The New Zodiax.

Joe St. Pierre

Ron Wilson is probably best known for his Marvel Comics work, including the Marvel Two-In-One series that featured The Thing from The Fantastic Four. But he’s done a lot of other work which included a couple of Conan stories. I had brought along a copy of a Savage Sword of Conan trade paperback collection that reprinted one of those stories. When I showed it to him, he perused it rather carefully and told me that he couldn’t remember having done it despite his credit on the first page of the story.

Ron Wilson

Arvell Jones is another artist who’s work I read back in the day. Some of his work was used in the teaser posters for the Black Panther movie but he’s worked on some of the biggest comics for both DC and Marvel, co-creating Misty Knight while working on the Iron Fist comic with Tony Isabella. I loved his work on DC’s All-Star Squadron but when I talked with him I asked him if there was a reason that he was credited only as “Arv Jones” on a particular issue of Marvel Two-In-One. He told me that it was one of his earliest works and they (I’m guessing he meant Marvel) weren’t sure about him yet and that the first five pages were actually his sample pages. He added that when he showed them to John Romita, he was told that he should finish the story. Misunderstanding what Romita was saying, he said again that they were just samples. Romita finally told him to finish the story and he’d cut him a check. So he did, but he didn’t like the story he was telling and that was how Bill Mantlo ended up writing the story that was eventually published in issue #15 of the series.

Arvell Jones

Before heading off to my first Q&A panel, I stopped off to talk with writer and artist Mike Grell. Best known for his work on Green Arrow and Green Lantern comics, he was also the driving force behind The Warlord for DC Comics. I got to watch him work for a brief moment and then talked to him about his Green Arrow story The Longbow Hunters and about The Warlord as well.

CHARITY FUNDRAISERS

Before I headed into the room where the Q&As where being held , I stopped off and got some pictures with Oscar the Grouch! Yep, I got to “meet” one of my earliest attitude role models. It was for a charity called the Yellow Feather Fund and for $5 you got your pic taken with the Sesame Street trash can denizen.

It was one of a number of charity fund-raising going on during the weekend. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society was raising money with the chance to have your photo taken sitting on the couch with The Simpsons. And there were a few other endeavors going on as well.

Q & A PANELS PART 1

The Q&A panels were quite popular throughout the day. The first one held was for Mike Grell.  The moderator started off getting Grell to talk about the early days of his career. Unsurprisingly, being a gifted storyteller is not limited to the stories he writes and illustrates. More impressive was that while he was talking, he was working on what I can only guess was a commission and yet never seemed to be distracted from answering questions from the moderator and later the audience.

Mike Grell and moderator

He talked about working on Superboy and the Legion of Superheroes, the inability to sell some comic strips he had worked up. He gave a pretty detailed re-telling of The Warlord’s publication history. It had been canceled pretty quickly by DC’s Carmine Infantino but that the series got saved by Jeanette Kahn. Grell said that it was apparently her favorite book. He also mentioned how he knew early on in the book’s run how he wanted to end the story, adding that it took 35 years to do it but he ended the original story the way he’d envisioned.

The moderator asked about his series Shaman’s Tears and Grell talked about the book and how he’d always been interested in native cultures.

The audience got to ask a few questions as well. One woman asked him how early on did he realize that he could draw. This elicited Grell’s reply talking about growing up without TV and drawing in place of it. He also mentioned that pictures were secondary to good storytelling and detailed the difference with examples of each.

Not shy about sharing his opinion, when asked if he’d like to see a Warlord movie he said yes but emphasized his hope that it wouldn’t be like Batman vs. Superman or Justice League, two movies he didn’t like. He did specify that he liked the Wonder Woman movie though.

I asked him if he could forsee a situation where he’d do a new Warlord story in comics form and Grell said yes he could. He figured a way to bring back the character but that it would be tricky and added that maybe the story would be a good idea for the 50th anniversary of The Warlord. He said that in comics, “It’s hard to keep a good man dead”.

Remember what I said about everyone having a plan? Well, at this point I got the metaphorical punch in the mouth. After the Mike Grell panel had ended, I needed to duck out of the room for a quick minute before the start of the Lost In Space panel with Bill Mumy, Mark Goddard, Angela Cartwright and Marta Kristen. But when I got back and looked in, the room was quite packed with enthusiastic supporters of the show and actors. This made me decide to skip the panel altogether.

I did later find out that Bill Mumy was asked about his time on Babylon 5 during the panel, so I likely should’ve squeezed in somehow. That will be a regret of mine for sure.

I also ran into an acquaintance of mine later in the day. I didn’t know he was coming to Super Megafest so seeing him there was a surprise. He told me that they’d had a death in the family and that his daughter ended up not coming to the event as planned. He told Bill Mumy about it during the panel and Mumy recorded a video message for the girl to see.

WANDERING THE HALLS

With some unexpected free time on my hands from not being in the Lost In Space Q&A, I ended up checking out the rest of the second floor. 

A couple of podcasts, The Dorkening (click HERE) and The Angry Geeks Show (click HERE), were in attendance and recording live shows as well. While I didn’t spend a lot of time checking out their tables, I did catch some fun chatter from the hosts of The Dorkening as I passed by. There was also a comedy/magic show running three times a day.

You could also meet wrestling luminaries Scott Steiner, Vickie Guerrero and Mean Gene Okerlund. Meanwhile, horror fans could spend some time with A Nightmare On Elm Street alum Mark Patton or Halloween’s Tony Moran. 

The rooms set aside for the other celebrity meet and greets had Nicholas Brendon and Charisma Carpenter from Buffy The Vampire Slayer, the Lost In Space cast, actors Rusty Goffe, Cerina Vincent, Rochelle Davis and a number of others. The attending fans were lined up to meet their favorites throughout the course of the day. Some lines were longer than the other at various points, but it seemed that everyone was steadily busy whenever I wandered past the open doors leading into the rooms. 

There were a number of cosplay guests lining the hallway, selling photo ops and such as well as interacting with other cosplayers who came to their tables including Koi Fish Asylum (click HERE).

Koi Fish Asylum cosplayer

CELEBRITY MEET AND GREETS

While waiting for the James Marsters panel to begin in the mid-afternoon, I ended up having the chance to talk with actor/director Tony Dow. Now I know that most people when thinking of Dow will say “Wally from Leave It To Beaver!”, but for my purposes I was interested in talking to him about his directing work on Babylon 5. 

From left, Jay Roberts with Tony Dow (of “Leave It To Beaver”)

I accidentally timed things perfectly too. I got to his table in one of the meet and greet rooms during a lull and got to spend ten minutes talking about Babylon 5 with him. He spoke about the differences between directing B5 and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and the ins and outs of being on set directing the episodes. He seemed genuinely surprised but pleased that someone would ask him about directing and he asked me if the show was airing on TV anywhere. I told him that I didn’t think so but couldn’t be certain and that I just watch the show on the DVD sets.

By the way, Tony Dow was at the show with his former cast mate Jerry Mathers and if meeting them for an autograph and photo wasn’t enough for you, there was an extra option of having “Dinner with the Cleaver Boys” on Saturday night after the floor closed for the day.

I also got to briefly chat with Bill Mumy at his table after he returned from his pro photo op obligations. Besides his work on both Lost In Space and Babylon 5, he’s an accomplished musician and author. While waiting in line for my brief minute or two, I listened as he talked with other fans and answering their questions. Mumy had a packed weekend at Super MegaFest as he was performing an acoustic concert on Saturday night just after the con closed down for the day.

Q & A PANELS PART 2

As it turned out, I was late for the James Marsters panel and when I got there it was even more packed than the Lost In Space one. But I wanted to hear what was being said, so I found a spot in the back of the room for the last portion of the Q&A.

James Marsters panel

One fan asked about improv and if any had ever happened on the set of Buffy. Marsters said that it didn’t ever happen because if they tried to, Joss Whedon would let it go and essentially say now let’s do it right. The one time it did happen, Marsters and David Boreanaz were sent into another room to improv a verbal argument. This story saw Marsters go into his British accent and play out part of that dialogue. He concluded by saying the Joss was in the other room laughing his ass off over what was being said.

The panel concluded with a fan asking if, like Nathan Fillion has stated, Marsters would drop anything to go work with Joss again. He said that he told Joss whether it was 5 lines or 50 he’d be there so long as he wasn’t contractually obligated to be somewhere else. 

Much like Bill Mumy, Saturday night after the convention closed for the day, James Marsters was booked to play an acoustic show for those fans who were staying around for the evening’s festivities.

WRITERS PANEL

While there were other non-celebrity Q&A events going on during the day like a video game tournament, a Star Wars trivia contest and a costume contest, the one that grabbed my attention the most was the panel “Anthologies and the New Writer”. 

It featured authors Stacey Longo (click HERE), Rob Watts  (click HERE) and Stephen Lomer (click HERE) talking about ways for new writers to possibly break in to getting their work published via anthologies. They spoke about and offered suggestions for looking for online open calls. They also talked about how important it was to follow the submission guidelines and etiquette. 

From left, authors Stephen Lomer, Rob Watts and Stacey Longo

The three authors also spoke to what red flags to watch out for including some talk about “anthology mills”. 

It was an informative discussion with some humor thrown in as well. The people in attendance asked a few pertinent questions. This included my question regarding their thoughts on how important reviews are, particularly on Amazon.com which is the barometer website for such things.

I was pretty intrigued by the whole discussion and spent some time after the panel concluded talking to the authors both in the room and back at their tables just off of the dealer room.

ARTISTS ALLEY DEALER FLOOR PART 2

Towards the end of the day, after talking to the three authors, I made my way back to the dealer floor where along with making some personal purchases for myself, I ended up talking to author Colin Carlton. He was at Super MegaFest promoting his book Infinite Velocity. The poster for the book had a quote that said fans of Star Trek and Firefly would find a lot to love with the book. 

You can say that I was interested. So I asked Carlton what the book was about. His 10 second pitch was absolutely perfect. He said, “Imagine the crew of Serenity found an abandoned Enterprise”. All I can say to that was my reply was “SOLD!” You can check out more about the book HERE.

Carlton was sharing his table with Christian Hegg of Sterling Arts & Design (click HERE). Hegg designed the cover for the book. I’m looking forward to checking out the book for sure.

From left, author Colin Carlton and artist Christian Hegg

COSPLAY

As with all conventions, there was a sizeable portion of the fan base that came dressed up in some costume or another. And there was a lot to be said for many of the cosplay that I saw. From the family dressed up as The Incredibles and Mera from Aquaman, from multiple Poison Ivy’s and Harley Quinn’s to Batman, Batwoman, Wonder Woman and many others, creativity was not in short supply. One guy came dressed as music superstar Prince and his costume was amazing! My favorite was probably the woman that was dressed up as Captain Marvel from the upcoming Marvel movie. I thought the entire look was so well done that she was the only cosplayer I wanted a picture with rather than just taking a snapshot of.

The cutest moment involved the couple dressed as Belle and the Beast. I had taken a photo of them and then ten minutes later saw them as a little girl no older than three years old and dressed as Elsa came down a stairway, turned towards them and about lost it. She was smiling and overjoyed to see Belle and the Beast! Her enthusiasm brought a smile to my face.

Prince cosplayer
The Baroness and Cobra Commander cosplayers
Powergirl cosplayer
Batman and Batwoman cosplayers
She-Ra cosplayer
Deadpool cosplayer
Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn cosplayers
Penquin cosplayer
Beauty and the Beast cosplayers
Wonder Woman cosplayer
Mera from Aquaman costplayer
Incredibles cosplay
Firefly cosplayers
Batman cosplayer

CLOSING THOUGHTS

With Super MegaFest 2018 now in the books, what are my final thoughts about my Day at the Con?

First, I should mention that while my interactions with the staff were limited, the times I did interact with them, they were very helpful and professional. This might seem unnecessary to mention but I’ve been at conventions where this was not the case.

Otherwise, all I can say is that I had a great time and I’m sure other attendees did as well. I was there to cover the event so it was a work day for me, but I still managed to carve out some “me” time amidst all the running back and forth (seriously, if you want to get your steps in on your FitBit, go to a comic convention!) to get the material I needed to write this article. And believe me, this could’ve gone on a lot longer. This is just the highlights really. But after skipping the event the last few years, I was rather pleased to find Super MegaFest to be an entertaining, fun-filled way to take part in the pop culture fandom I love so much. Getting to experience it alongside others who felt the same way only heightened my level of enjoyment.

So, circling back around to the beginning, if you weren’t having a ball at Super MegaFest 2018, you just weren’t trying!

For more on this year’s event or to follow the news for Super MegaFest 2019, click HERE.

The Cassette Chronicles – Vinnie Vincent Invasion’s self-titled debut

By JAY ROBERTS

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.

VINNIE VINCENT INVASION – VINNIE VINCENT INVASION (1986)

After years of being out of the public eye, ex-Kiss guitarist Vinnie Vincent has emerged in recent months and given a number of interviews. One of the talking points in the interviews has been Vincent totally trashing the second and final album that was recorded by his Vinnie Vincent Invasion group. The All Systems Go album featured Mark Slaughter on vocals and Vincent has nothing good to say about the album or the singer.

While I once owned that album, I’ve never owned or even heard the self-titled debut release until I picked it out of the “Big Box of Cassettes” to write this article. But after hearing it, I can understand why Vincent goes out of his way to dump all over the second album.

On All Systems Go, there seemed to be much more of a focus on writing full and actual songs. Whereas on this album, it seemed the songs were given, if they were lucky, secondary importance to serving as a way for Vincent to musically masturbate with his guitar and get people to pay for it.

I know this likely means I won’t be receiving a Christmas card from Vincent anytime soon but the fact is that there really isn’t much in the way of a decent track on this entire album. There’s ten songs and none of them really stuck with me or even got much of a rise out of me at all.

While the attempt to give listeners a jolt to the heart by making pretty much every song a fast charging rock and roll romp might’ve been a good idea, I found that the uniform lack of quality songwriting trumped all. It was all about how fast and how long Vincent could play a guitar solo. 

The band lineup featured ex-Journey singer Robert Fleischman, bassist Dana Strum and drummer Bobby Rock. Sadly, they are all thoroughly overshadowed by the endless (and pointless) soloing from Vincent. At times, Fleischman’s vocals were so low in the mix as to be swallowed up by the music.

The only song that showed any signs of slowing down was “Back On The Streets” which had a somewhat darker tone to it. It also ended up being a vocal duet with Fleischman and Vincent taking turns on vocals. And yet somehow, this version of the song still managed to not work.

A long time ago, when music magazines were pretty much the only way you got news and reviews about artists, I remember reading one particular magazine’s reviews section. I don’t remember which album was being written about but the review for it was simply “This Album Sucks!” While that might seem more than a bit unprofessional, I have to confess that I had the same feeling about the Vinnie Vincent Invasion album.

I know that there are a lot of fans of Vincent out there and my opinion is likely going to be in the extremely small minority, but there’s nothing here that makes me ever want to listen to this album again. I’ve heard some mind-numbingly bad albums while writing this series, this just might be one of the worst ones yet.

NOTES OF INTEREST: The video for “Boyz Are Gonna Rock” features Mark Slaughter lip-synching over the vocal track from Robert Fleischman, who had left the group before the video shoot over a contract dispute.

The song “Animal” was on the soundtrack for the comedy film Summer School that starred Mark Harmon and Kirstie Alley. “Back On The Streets” was covered by John Norum on his Total Control solo album, which was featured in The Cassette Chronicles back in April of 2017.

Bobby Rock is currently the drummer for Lita Ford and I’ve seen him perform twice with her in the last few years.

The Cassette Chronicles – House of Lord’s ‘Sahara’

By JAY ROBERTS

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.

HOUSE OF LORDS – SAHARA (1990)

The second album from House of Lords might’ve been slightly less successful than their first album when you look solely at sales and chart records. But after listening to this album for the first time in more than two decades, I was a bit stunned to hear how well Sahara holds up. The album is a sleek, fast and at times highly aggressive guitar oriented album. While keyboardist Greg Giuffria started the band, the pomp and grandeur associated with the band’s sound gives way to the more guitar heavy sound and it comes off better for doing so.

I saw the band on the tour for this album. It was March 15th, 1991, when I saw them at the Citi Club in Boston (for those that don’t remember the place, it was on Lansdowne Street behind Fenway Park). They were opening for Nelson if you can believe it! While I am now what you might call an obsessive set list keeper, I didn’t keep track of the songs they played on this night. Oddly, I do have the Nelson set list. I was there to see House of Lords, but I brought my sister with me that night because she was a huge fan of Nelson (as well as loving their dad Ricky Nelson). So we both got to see bands we were interested in. Even more fun was the fact that we got driven to the show by my brother’s godfather in his limo.

Anyway, the album came out via Gene Simmons own label, Simmons Records, with the accompanying distribution of RCA and BMG.  The band had lost original guitarist Lanny Cordola (even though he does get co-writing credits on two songs on Sahara) and replaced him with Michael Guy. However, I’m not quite sure how involved Guy actually was with the band. While he’s listed as a band member in the liner notes, the Wikipedia entry for the album says that Doug Aldrich was the band’s guitarist. Aldrich is credited in the album notes as providing “additional guitars”. So there’s a mystery for you.

Like I said, I haven’t really listened to this album since 1991. The band’s cover of the Blind Faith song “Can’t Find My Way Home” still gets airplay on classic rock stations, so I’ve heard that song many times, but none of the other nine songs really stuck in my memory. After listening to Sahara for this article, I’m kind of saddened that they didn’t. 

The album opens with the song “Shoot” and though the term “crushing” isn’t one you might expect to read in association with House of Lords, that is exactly what this fast paced track made me think. There’s a nice gritty vibe to the song as well. I think part of that is because of the way singer James Christian’s vocals manage to get both down and dirty and soar high at the same time.

With “Can’t Find My Home” and the song “Remember My Name”, you get the required for the times power ballad tracks. Otherwise, rocking out madly is the name of the game here. There is really no track here I didn’t like hearing for the first time all over again.

The song “Heart On The Line” was written by Cheap Trick’s Rick Neilsen. He played the lead on the song as well. Probably unsurprisingly, this really did sound like a Cheap Trick with both Neilsen and singer Robin Zander performing backing vocals on the song as well.

The album’s title track might be the best example of the band’s ability to go for the more grandiose thematic openings to some of their songs. The extended opening here is still pretty rocking though. You might think that with a title like “It Ain’t Love” that you are in for another ballad, but despite opening up that way, the song soon vaults past that particular designation and becomes this big huge rocker. 

The album’s closing track “Kiss Of Fire” is just a pure ballsy rocker that really lets drummer Ken Mary shine in the intro as he slams away on the kit to fuel the adrenaline charged song. 

Given that a lot of the albums I listen to for this series are ones that I’ve either overlooked or skipped entirely when they were first released, I do enjoy finding what to me is an undiscovered gem. And with all ten songs on the album really appealing to me, I have to say that Sahara is one of my favorite albums to have written about for The Cassette Chronicles. It’s got a heavy power chord driven guitar sound, James Christian’s super vocals and it just rocks your socks off!

NOTES OF INTEREST – Despite numerous lineup changes over the years, House of Lords is still active today. The band will be playing in The Vault at the Greasy Luck in New Bedford, MA, on Sunday October 14th, 2018. And I was lucky enough to have already met current drummer BJ Zampa at that very venue when he played there on August 31st, 2018, in a couple of tribute bands (Black Knight’s Castle and Without Warning).

The Rick Nielsen written song “Heart On The Line” did end up being recorded by Cheap Trick themselves for their 2016 album Bang, Zoom, Crazy…Hello!

There’s a who’s who list of guests on this album. Others credited for playing guitar on the album included House of Lords singer James Christian, Krokus guitarist Mandy Meyer (mis-spelled Myer in the liner notes) and Chris Impellitteri. The backing vocals list included 20 people including White Lion’s Mike Tramp, Giuffria’s David Glen Eisley, Ron Keel and Autograph’s Steve Plunkett.