So, today was our first Comics For Christmas event of the year and I have to say... it was an amazing experience! The staff was very welcoming and appreciative, the parents were also very happy with us for, as one mother told us, "taking the time to brighten up our kid's day" and more importantly; the kids we're happy. Amongst the things we brought for the kids were: back packs, pencils, note pads, toys, coloring books, crayons, color pencils and of course comic books! It was great watching the kids going through the items inside their brand new back packs and seeing their eyes light up when they recognized Spider-Man or the Hulk! We loved every minute of it!
But we didm't just bring them gifts, we also played video games with them, drew some sketches for the kids that wanted one, interacted with them and made them laugh. At first we were a bit overwhelmed because you just don't know exactly how sick the kids might be or what level of pain they may be going through, but once we were introduced and the kids acknowledge us; it was all smooth sailing from there on out. We met this wonderful little boy named Gideon whom we found out, wears a cape with a big letter "G" on it every time he's getting shots. His mom approached us a asked if we could make a sketch for her representing that cape with the big letter "G" on and of course; we had to comply! You can see the results in the picture below. :)
It's safe to say that the event was a success when the staff already invites you to come back for as many times as we'd like and they want us to set dates for next year! We are so blessed to have been allowed the opportunity to interact with such wonderful parents, kids and staff that we immediately agreed to come back! Days like this make all the sacrifices, the long hours, the back pain, the reading the comics to make sure they're appropriate for children... seeing the reactions on those little kid's faces, seeing those smiles on the parents faces; seeing how grateful the staff was; it makes it all worth it! This is only the beginning, expect a lot more from Comics For Christmas!
Today was a special day for dozens of kids at Barnes & Nobles in Virginia Beach, Va... for today was Marvel Comics Day! The event is a new initiative Barnes & Nobles is utilizing to bring in kids to reading through comics. Hmmm... I think I've heard of that before, oh yeah... Comics For Christmas! This is the same basis of our non-profit organization, using comic books to encourage kids into reading as well as bringing a little bit of joy to kids who otherwise might not be so lucky.
The day started with by giving every kid some golden tickets for a raffle to be drawn at the end of the event. Then it was story time. The host read a Hulk story and then a Wolverine story to finish. Then the kids would each get an original superhero name, then they made "Black Widow" cookies and they finish with a a raffle. The atmosphere was very jovial and kids were extremely engaged. I have to say, it was a blast seeing dozens of kids who loved these characters, dressed in their favorite superhero costumes and simply having a good time! All an all it was a very fun event that I hope to see more off. I;m happy to see others take our initiative and run with it because at the end of the day, it's all about the kids.
If you wanna know more about Comics For Christmas and how you can be a part of our mission for kids, visit: http://www.truthfulcomics.com/comics-for-christmas.html
-Manuel A. Carmona
Best Comic Book Movie
Thor: The Dark World
In a year of great comic book related movies one stood above the rest as the best of all, at least in my opinion, and that was Thor: The Dark World. I really enjoyed the first one but with the sequel Marvel/Disney went all out. The scope of the film is truly epic and fans worldwide agree, Thor is a force to be reckoned with, both in the comics as well as the films and thanks to the massive success of The Dark World, we'll be getting another one of these fantastic films.
Best Cover Artist of 2013
Francisco Francavilla is an amazing artist any way you look at it but in my opinion, this year has been the year in which he's established himself as THE cover artist in the comic book world; especially with his work for Dynamite Entertainment. As a fan of Pulp characters like The Shadow and The Spider, I've had a great time collecting all these series coming out from Dynamite and Francavilla's covers are one of the main reasons to get these titles. Here's only a few of them...
Best Cover of 2013
The Man of Bronze Doc Savage
Artist- Alex Ross
Publisher- Dynamite Enterteinment
Best Writer of 2013
Brian Michael Bendis
(Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, Powers, Guardians of the Galaxy)
Favorite Penciller of 2013
(Avenging Spider-Man, Savage Wolverine, Inhumanity)
Best Inker of 2013
(Batman, Birds of Prey, Batgirl)
Best Creative Team of 2013
Kathryn Immonen (W)
Valerio Schiti (A)
Journey Into Mystery
Well my friends... I think my pull list is about to get a big hit in terms of how many print books I get on a monthly basis. Here's the thing, last Christmas my wife gave me a NOOK from Barnes & Nobles as a present and, even though I loved it, I was kinda ignoring it because I felt that if I read too many digital comics I'd be turning my back on this medium that I love so much. As it turns out, prices on comics keep going up, page count keeps going down, plot lines are being dragged on way too long in order to sell trades and my bank account keeps suffering because of it I feel I have to support the comic book industry. So, last night I got my NOOK, charged it and I said to myself: "the heck with it"! Today i took my NOOK out at lunchtime, downloaded Thor: The Mighty Avenger Vol. 1, read it, took it all in and... I LOVED IT!!! The colors were as vibrant as they were intended to be, the pages moved just like a comic would, the prices are far less than the print versions and more importantly; I can carry 100+ books anywhere and everywhere I go without a problem. I absolutely love my NOOK. So, from this day on I solemnly swear that I'll cut my "pull list" at least in half and I'll be reading the trade version on my NOOK. Thanks Barnes & Nobles and thank you NOOK! (This read like a paid advertisement for NOOk and/or Barnes & Nobles but I swear it wasn't!) LOL!
Sometimes I wish everyone had my same moral compass and I'll tell you why. I say this because in this day and age, it seems that wanting fairness for everyone makes you naive or an idiot in society's eyes. I feel we should treat others the way we want to be treated no matter who we are or what we do, that's how I was brought up; that's how I live my life. I say this and the example I want to present to you is how unfair the comic book industry has been, is and if we don't act on it; always will.
One of my biggest gripes is the fact that the comic book industry was built on the backs of a few, very talented artists and writers like Jack Kirby, Bill Finger, Steve Ditko, Gary Friedrich and many more that simply got taken advantage of by greedy individuals who only cared about dollar signs. But this is not exclusive to the comics industry, I'm just expressing my disgust with the industry as whole due to this important fact. The thing is, corporations made, and are still making millions upon millions of dollars while those people who actually put in the work and created these characters got nothing in comparison. It's sickening really!
I understand they signed those contracts, I understand they had a choice (if you can call it that) and I know that the "Big Two" aren't doing anything "illegal", but just because something is legal, doesn't necessarily mean it's right. Like the great Dr. Martin luther King Jr. once said: "Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal". Now I'm not comparing these corporations to Hitler, my point is that wrong is wrong, it doesn't matter if the law covers your heinous acts, if you treat someone unfairly; you're still wrong!
I do know, without a shadow of doubt, that those creators who started this medium we love so much should've had a far better compensation and recognition than what they got; regardless of what the the law stipulates. I wish I woke up tomorrow and when I checked the news I find out that the "Big Two" were announcing that their golden age creators were going to get a % of the sales from those characters they created, that the Kirby heirs would be getting a piece of the pie, that Bill Finger would be credited with being the co-creator of Batman and all those characters he created and his heirs would be getting a retroactive payment of what he should've had in the first place if it weren't for scumbag lawyers taking advantage of honest
and hard working creators. Now THAT would be super heroic.!
-Manuel A. Carmona
Here are some links so you can understand what I'm talking about and why I'm so angry about all this.
Why boycott Marvel?
Jim Starlin on Cosporate comics
Jack Kirby Documentary
In Search of Steve Ditko Documentary
-Manuel A. Carmona
Today we celebrated Tabernacle Church's Harvest Festival 2013 and I can only described it by saying... it ROCKED! There were plenty of kids from all over Norfolk, dressed in their Halloween costumes and having a grand ol' time. There were tons of games for the kids to play, there were clowns, balloon animals, tons of candy and of course; FREE COMIC BOOKS!!! That's where we come in. Through our non-profit organization Comics For Christmas, we gave away more than 400 comic books to at least 80 kids; completely FREE of charge!
We had an absolute blast handing out those comic books and what a reward it was to see all those kids' smiles when we handed those comics to them... priceless! There were a few kids that we've come to know because they follow us from event to event, which makes us feel good for two reasons: 1.They know what were about and 2. They like comic books and in some way it's because we gave them their first comics; which makes me feel pretty darn good! As if handing out free comic books wasn't enough, we also handed out candy to the kids so everyone left our table with a big smile; and that makes me very happy.
We want to help Tabernacle Church of Norfolk for organizing such a wonderful event for the kids around the community and for allowing us to be a part of it for the second straight year, we hope to be there next year and every year after that. It was truly a blessing!
-Manuel A. Carmona
For those who interact with me on the internet (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) is common knowledge that I'm the president of a non-profit organization called Comics For Christmas and that we had scheduled an event for this weekend. It was called The Comics For Christmas Free Comic Book Giveaway at The Book and Movie Exchange and we were going to give away at least 2,000 comics and candy to every kid that stopped by the store. But, what ended up happening was far from what we've expected and to be honest, it was quite upsetting to say the least.
The thing is, we do this because we care about kids, we want to encourage kids to read and we put a lot of effort behind this events, we invest our money and time trying to make this events as successful as humanly possible, but we need the support of the people involved with the events as well. We make the flyers, print them and provide the store owners with enough flyers to pass along to their customers and of course, we expect them to pass them along.
But how upsetting it is to stop by on the day of the event, have the store owner pull you aside and tell you: "I went on the website on the flyer and found photos that made me not pass the flyers". The photo in question was the one I posted to the right ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------>
Pretty much every comic book fan knows that the character being portrayed by the model is none other than Sara Pezzini (aka Witchblade) and that Cosplay is in no way, shape or form pornography. I mean, if we want to get technical, there's far more offensive material in a DVD/Blue Ray store than on any Witchblade comic book, but regardless, because of our last Truthful Comics Spotlight the store owner didn't promote our Comics For Christmas event; AT ALL!!! As you might imagine I'm beyond upset and because of this we won't be visiting The Book and Movie Exchange tomorrow or ever again because we feel that it was totally unncesary and rude to have us pay for flyers and then basically throw them in the trash because you didn't bother to either contact me or do your research into who the character is or what the model is doing. This could've easily been avoided by giving us a call, e-mailing us or even massaged us through Facebook but to wait until we arrive at your store, after we've been promoting your store non-stop everywhere we go and we're ready for the event, and then you basically tell me that you don't know how many people will come because you didn't like a picture on my website and it made you not pass the flyers to the parents; that's unforgivable.
Regardless, kids did showed up and we handed out a few hundred books, candy, we had some great interactions with the parents and the kids who attended and we even left a few dozen comic books in case some kids show up tomorrow. I have to admit that I'm so disappointed with this whole situation that if it wasn't for the kids, I'd stop doing it but we have a mission and making kids happy is more important than wasting a few bucks and a few hours because of some people who lack vision.
I hope that we can find other establishments who are willing to open their doors to us and believe in our cause which I believe is so important. Kids need to learn to read, they need to love reading and what better way to instill that love of reading than to provide them with books filled with stories about their favorite characters. They'll follow their favorite superheroes on numerous adventures and hopefully they'll graduate into novels and so on. I want to help light that spark of imagination in their young minds and I'll use comic books to do the trick.
Today was one of those days when I just wanted to take my family out for a long drive without a specific destination and just wing it. Fill up the gas tank, lower the door windows, open the sun roof, turn the volume and just enjoy the ride; so that's what we did! We drove for a while and my wife spotted a dance studio (she's a professional dancer) and asked me if we could stop real quick, to which I replied: "Sure". Of course, I immediately spotted a book store right next to the dance studio and I told her I wanted to check it out afterwards. The books store was independently owned and it looked inviting.
There were tow male clerks who immediately acknowledge me and my family and were very courteous, something that employees from every field are missing more and more these days! I looked around for a few minutes and they asked me if I needed help, but before I could ask them, I noticed that one of the clerks had a pile of at least 50 comics in front of him! All I could say was "Yes you do!" He looked at me funny and I said "Comics, do you guys carry comic books?" And he said "Yes we do!" He showed me three aisles full of comics ranging from Batman to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to The Mighty Thor to Wildcats! It was a beautiful thing!!!
As soon as I turned that corner where the clerk told me to, I was suddenly in front of what can only be described as a comic book hidden treasure! Even more so when it's located in Virginia Beach, so to me it felt like I was a pirate, and I discovered an abandoned treasure chest full of comic book gold! I'm talking about hundreds, if not thousands of comic books, and at great prices too! It's too bad that I had just went to my local comic shop and spent a pretty penny there, because I only had so much extra cash to spare. But rest assure, I'll be stopping by this book store on a more regular basis and I'll be getting a bunch of those comics they had in their store.
So, next time you're in Virginia Beach and get the mood to buy some comic books, visit AFK Books, Music and Movies.
They're located at:
4801 Shore Drive, Suite D
Virginia Beach, VA 23455
OK, so I saw Iron Man 3 in the theaters and I was itching to give you all my two cents about them the film but, I was giving you all some time to see it for yourselves. If the box office numbers are any indication, you've probably seen it by now so I don't think I'll be spoiling anything that you either haven't seen or haven't read on the internet already, so please; bear with me. :)
Due to the fact that I got the movie spoiled by some very annoying Facebook "friends", I went into the movie with a bit of negative feelings towards a few things regarding the treatment of classic characters; but I still gave it a chance. And guess what? I absolutely enjoyed this film! I actually enjoyed it way more than I thought I was going to for many reasons, and the few things that annoyed me weren't even that annoying after all. So, shall we begin?
When we first see Tony Stark, he's having panic attacks, he's distant, doesn't sleep, he's hiding behind his work and his relationship with "Pepper" Potts is "rocky" to say the least. He's obviously still shaken up by the events that transpired in New York where he found himself looking for answers and for the first time, he had none! If there's one thing that Tony Stark can rely on is his genius and the ability to find all the answers, but the moment when he met a god of thunder, aliens and parallel worlds, he came to the abrupt realization that he was, as he himself puts it: "a man in a tin can".
Enter: The Mandarin. For comic fans across the globe, The Mandarin is Iron Man's arch nemesis. Created by Stan Lee and designed by Don Heck, The Mandarin first appeared in Tales of Suspense #50 (February 1964), battling Iron Man of course! The character is described as being born in China before the Communist Revolution, to a wealthy Chinese father and an English aristocratic mother, both of whom died when he was very young. He is portrayed as a megalomaniac, attempting to conquer the world on several occasions, yet also possessing a strong sense of honor. The Mandarin is also a genius scientist and a superhumanly skilled martial artist. However, his primary source of power are ten power rings that he adapted from the alien technology of a crashed space ship. Each ring has a different power and is worn on a specific finger. But... as Hollywood often does, they completely changed the character to the point of him not even being "real", but just a ruse created by the true villain of the story. As you can tell, I'm a bit upset about this but I decided to just enjoy the movie for what it was and roll with the punches but I can totally understand why so many Iron Man fans are up in arms throughout the internet because of this plot twist. I feel your pain my brothers and sisters!
Now, some of the best moments for me came by way of "Pepper" Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) and it went from fun to shock to amazement. She was vulnerable, funny and a badass at the same time and they did it in such a way that it takes you by surprise in such a great way! The fact that she puts on an Iron Man suit and saves Tony, she gets "killed" right in front of Tony and she comes back thanks in part to the villain, and she completely kicks ass; it was a blast to see on screen. Of course, Paltrow is always easy on the eyes, but to have her in a more action oriented role is perfect for the character, especially if you're a comic book fan like me, and have seen her become a part of the Iron man Corps and wear her own Iron Man suit, it was great to see in this movie a little bit of that. It also gives them the opportunity to potentially use her in a more demanding and active role n future installments of the series, which I hope they do.
One of the cool things about this movie was the introduction of Iron Patriot into the fray. For those of you who don't read comics, the Iron Patriot armor is first worn by Norman Osborn during the Dark Reign storyline. Norman Osborn first dons the Iron Patriot armor when he establishes the Dark Avengers. The armor serves as an amalgam between Captain America and Iron Man. The Iron Patriot armor utilized a version of Iron Man's armor painted in the colors of the American flag. The armor featured superhuman strength, enhanced durability, flight, magnetic impact blasts, heat seeking missiles, miniaturized lasers, flamethrowers, and a communications system housed in his helmet which allowed him to interface with any U.S.-controlled satellite or computer network. While the original Iron Man armor utilized repulsor technology, Osborn's design does not. Stark destroyed all but one repulsor, and stated that "Oz is too stupid" to make his own repulsor-based weapons system. The star shaped Uni Beam projector on his chest because of its shape, also has a less powerful output than that of the original Iron Man model.
Now, in the movie, the Iron Patriot armor is an upgrade of the War Machine armor worn by James Rhodes (Don Cheadle). Rhodes is asked by the President to take on the Iron Patriot identity to be used as the US government's "American hero" symbol in response to the events that occurred in The Avengers. The armor is briefly stolen by Advanced Idea Mechanics (AIM) and used by Eric Savin to abduct the President, but Rhodes is able to recover the armor at the conclusion of the film and is the only Iron Man armor that still remains active. I personally enjoy seeing the character of "Rhodey" in action, be it as War Machine, Iron Patriot or as the soldier. He's one of the few people that Tony Stark can truly count on and he's also a badass; he proved it in this movie.
Now to the real villain of the story, Aldrich Killiam. Dr. Aldrich Killiam was a brilliant scientist working alongside Dr. Maya Hansen. Together they developed Extremis, an attempt to create a new super soldier. Extremis was a techno-organic virus that rewrites the body's genetic code, regenerates organs and/or limbs, gives superhuman strength, speed, endurance, reflexes and the ability to project electricity and breathe fire. In the movie we see all of these features except the electricity part, but Killiam, in part because of Tony's egocentric tendencies, becomes obsessed with power and the desire of recognition. So, in a way, Tony Stark created his greatest foe.
He's also charming, elusive, conniving and just an evil genius the likes of which Tony Stark hadn't met before. Before all the genetic tinkering, Dr. Killiam was a genius, but after Extremis, he was also a physically superior to Tony Stark and for the first time, Tony was outmatched. It was truly a great battle at the end, and we could see just how superior Killiam was to Tony, how clever Tony had to be to even stand a chance against his most imposing threat ever and how lucky he is that the has loyal friends whom he can count on.
All in all, I really enjoyed this film from beginning to end and like I said, even the parts that annoyed me didn't annoy me to the point of me not liking the film. If you haven't seen Iron Man 3 I got two things to say to you 1. Why haven't you? and 2. Give it a shot and I guarantee you it'll be money well spent.
I give it a rating of 8.5/10
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