Tag Archives: comic book movies

Looking Forward to ‘Avengers 2’? Support Your Local Comic Book Shop

Black Widow, Hawkeye, Nick Fury. Even Iron Man and Thor. There was a time when most people had never heard of them.

They’re household names now, thanks to Hollywood’s insatiable appetite for comic book movies. Audiences can’t get enough of them, and stories that were once the sole domain of kids reading under the covers by flashlight and nerds hoarding slim, colorful volumes in boxes under the bed have become entertainment for the masses.

This summer will be a major one for comic book aficionados with three anticipated adaptations headed for the big screen. The season kicks off Friday with “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” sequel to “The Avengers,” the third highest grossing movie of all time.

Late summer will usher in “Ant-Man” (in theaters July 17), starring Paul Rudd as the insect-sized superhero, and a reboot of Marvel’s “Fantastic Four” (Aug. 7).

It’s fitting that 24 hours after the debut of “Age of Ultron,” shops around the country will observe Free Comic Book Day, a celebration of the genre that gave us The Hulk, Captain America, Thor, Iron Man and other memorable characters in the film franchise.

Launched in 2002 by Diamond Comic Distributors and a panel of industry retailers, publishers and suppliers, Free Comic Book Day is held annually the first Saturday in May.

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The goal of the event is to introduce readers unfamiliar with comic books to this unique literary format and their local independent comic book shop.

“Each (shop) is unique in its community, with a style and personality all its own,” according to www.freecomicbookday.com.

I’ve never been much of a comic book reader. I remember thumbing through my older brothers’ issues of Archie and Superman, but I never really got hooked on the genre. Still, with my love of fantasy, reading and stories, I’ve always felt a kinship with comic book enthusiasts. The comic book store is one of my favorite places to hang out.

As an entertainment reporter, I frequented one Lancaster shop — Bases Cards and Comics — for more than a decade. I first visited the store in 2000. It was the year of “X-Men,” when comic book movies became more than just kids stuff, and I was looking for quotes from fans who were already familiar with the mutant heroes.

The readers browsing at the shop that Wednesday morning were eager to talk about why they loved the X-Men. I found them to be warm, engaging and surprisingly articulate with good things to say about the history and social relevance of the Marvel series.

Bases quickly became my go-to spot for dozens of stories, an invaluable resource for research and gathering quotes and opinions about whatever comic book movie du jour Hollywood was about to unleash. Winding my way among the brightly colored racks, I’d pounce on unsuspecting browsers in hopes of scoring an interview.

The shop also happened to be — and still is — a great place to spend time in, full of interesting, friendly and eccentric personalities. Owners Rob and Janice and manager James Preston are three of the most fun, welcoming people I’ve met. I have fond memories of chatting with them and their intelligent, opinionated customers about everything from Spider-Man, to the Man of Steel, to The Dark Knight, to San Diego Comic-Con, to Star Wars vs. Star Trek.

If you’ve never visited your local comic book shop, I urge you to give it a try on Saturday. At best, you’ll discover a thrilling new series or rekindle your passion for a childhood favorite. Maybe you’ll meet some potential new friends with common interests.

At worst, you’ll leave with a handful of free comics.

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Aside from Bases, Lancaster is home to two comic book shops. Battlegrounds carries a small selection of volumes, but specializes largely in tabletop gaming. My friends tell me that Horizon Comics offers great prices and selection.

Each shop will have its own policy to determine how many comics you’ll receive on Free Comic Book Day, but you’re guaranteed at least one, as long as supplies last.

Among the titles to be handed out are Doctor Who, Pokemon, Avengers, Transformers, Avatar, Street Fighter, Teen Titans Go!, The Tick and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

To find a participating comic book store near you, visit www.freecomicbookday.com.

Photos: http://www.freecomicbookday.com, http://www.comicbookmovie.com

Spilling WonderCon’s Best Kept Movie Secret

Among the main attractions of WonderCon Anaheim are the movie panels, which are almost as much fun as hanging out with shameless exhibitionists clad in spandex. The latest edition of the giant Southern California nerd-fest, which wrapped yesterday, highlighted anticipated films “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” “How to Train Your Dragon 2,” “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” and “Godzilla.”

However, the real thrill of the panels comes in the form of those little gems you discover when you least expect it. This year, the biggest surprise was director Matthew Vaughn’s upcoming comic book adaptation “The Secret Service.” Twentieth Century Fox unveiled some rough but intriguing footage of this stylized spy flick, despite the fact that Vaughn was reluctant to tip his hand so early, according to moderator Ralph Garman. The film is due for release in 2015.

Based on a comic book by Vaughn’s previous collaborators, “Kick-Ass” writer Matt Millar and artist Dave Gibbons, “The Secret Service” is about a rogue British intelligence agency designed to accomplish what the CIA and MI6 cannot. The movie stars Colin Firth,  Samuel L. Jackson and Michael Caine. It is also rumored to feature cameos by the likes of Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, David Beckham and Elton John.

The footage unveiled Saturday featured Firth in proper English gentleman mode, sharing a pint of Guinness at a pub with a young British street punk played by Taron Egerton. Firth’s seemingly harmless secret agent is attempting to recruit the incredulous lad when the meeting is interrupted by a gang of thugs. The actor calmly strolls to the establishment’s double doors, slides the lock shut, then proceeds to kick his would-be assailants’ butts, making particularly ingenious use of his umbrella. Of course, Firth never breaks a sweat. His dry British wit is his deadliest weapon.

The scene was followed by a montage of clips that were equally tantalizing, suggesting “The Secret Service” is Vaughn at his best with the hilariously violent edge of “Kick-Ass,” the action movie panache of “X-Men: First Class” and the gritty British quirks of the director’s debut film, “Layer Cake.”

“The Secret Service” appears to make excellent use of Firth’s quintessential Britishness, for which he was celebrated in “The King’s Speech” and “Pride and Prejudice.” And then there is the unlikely presence of Jackson, apparently on a quest to pop up in every comic book movie known to man.

As Hollywood persists in stripping the pages of every graphic novel it can get its hands on, from Marvel’s invincible franchise machine to DC’s ever growing repertoire, “The Secret Service” looks to be a smaller, refreshingly original entry in a genre built on endless possibilities. You should be hearing a lot more about in the future.