Brian Michael Bendis in Cleveland (a.k.a. “Can we talk about Dazzler?”).

7 04 2014
w/ Brian Michael Bendis at Comic Heaven

w/ Brian Michael Bendis at Comic Heaven

He brought us Jessica Jones and Alias. He was responsible for such “universe-changing” storylines as Avengers: Disassembled, House of M, and Secret Invasion. He employed Squirrel Girl as the nanny to Luke Cage’s daughter. Oh, and he also teamed up with Chris Bachalo to accessorize Mystique with a fabulous Louis Vuitton medical bag. He is Brian Michael Bendis.

Between various comic book conventions and in-store appearances, the last few years have afforded me several opportunities to meet some of Marvel’s most talented names: Chris Claremont, Peter David, Marjorie Liu, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Marc Silvestri, Walt and Louise Simonson, Matt Fraction, Stuart and Kathryn Immonen, Cullen Bunn, and Skottie Young. However, when a creator like Brian Michael Bendis announces an upcoming appearance, you tend to make whatever accomodations are necessary to be there… even if it involves a lengthy commute.

When word broke that Mr. Bendis would be doing an afternoon signing in Ohio, following a TEDx engagement in Cleveland, it didn’t take much convincing before the trunk of the car was packed tightly with essential Bendis books, all eagerly awaiting his signature. Being an unapologetic fanboy of Marvel’s d-listers, I was proudly dragging all New Avengers issues that featured the notable and instantly recognizable heroes Squirrel Girl and Night Nurse.

NightNurse2The event was held at Bendis’ old stomping ground, Comic Heaven, in the Cleveland suburb of Willoughby. With the incredibly friendly and gracious owner, Jim Williams, and a fantastic selection of back-issues, I cannot sing the praises of this store enough. With plenty of time to kill before Bendis was due to arrive, we spent time browsing the shelves and swapping stories with a writer from BleedingCool, who was covering the event.

True to the stories told by  folks that have met him in the past, Bendis is not only extremely personable, but he is also incredibly humble. You never know for sure what you’re going to get when you meet the folks attached to your favorite comic books. Experience has shown that there is a fair share, with less impressive rap sheets than Mr. Bendis, who come off as particularly arrogant with little desire to interact with fans.

“Can we talk about Dazzler?” Of course, this was the first question asked of the man who currently has the mutant songstress in a catatonic state in his Uncanny X-Men run. If his hearty chuckle alluded to anything, it was that he has been thrown this question on numerous occasions. “People think that if something bad happens to a character that they love, the writer obviously hates that character,” he responded. “I don’t hate Dazzler. I love her! I promise you, it will all pay-off!”

As Bendis continued signing the pile of books that were brought over state lines, we briefly discussed the upcoming Jessica Jones-centric Netflix series. All he could really tell us was that he was very pleased with what has been in development so far. As Jessica could be considered his “baby”, this would lead one to presume that the series will stay relatively true to how the former Avenger appears in print. So, has the show actually begun filming? Has the title role been cast yet?  With a grin on his face, he refused to divulge anything further.

Being an intelligent man, Bendis knows that silence often speaks volumes.

 

 

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The Secret and Relatable Lives of Dorks.

3 10 2013

la-et-still-from-the-secret-lives-of-dorks-20130926A film that references Jason Todd being voted to death (Batman #427-428) by readers, Superboy-Prime “punching” people back to life, and the arguably d-list Marvel Comics character, Night Nurse?

Yes, my fellow dorks, such a majestic thing exists!

This past weekend, Buffalo’s Amherst Theatre held a one-night-only screening of The Secret Lives of Dorks, a high school social outcast comedy penned by Western New York native, Nicholas Brandt.

While some of the “dork”-related references may leap (tall buildings in a single bound… sorry, I had to) over the heads of general audience members, the common plight amongst several of the characters shouldn’t. Those awkward first moments during courtship and the nightmarish scenarios that you fear would play out during a first date are something that all of us can relate to, both teenagers and adults alike.

Granted, most of us haven’t been completely mortified by farting and accidentally feeling up a date in front of his/her parents, but to say that you didn’t fear some equally debasing moment would take place would be a blatant lie. While the bulk of dating misshaps befall the teenage Payton (Gaelan Connell) and Samantha (Vanessa Marano a.k.a. Valerie Cherish’s step-daughter, Francesca), the adults are well-represented by Ms. Stewart (Jennifer Tilly) who relies on relationship advice from Mike Ditka’s self-help videos in order to woo Payton’s father and football aficionado, Bronko (Jim Belushi).

The Secret Lives of Dorks is smart, well-written, lighthearted, and witty. That, coupled with the relatability factor, make the film an overall fun and enjoyable experience. The movie poster states that “dorks are in right now.” It’s true… we are. We’re everywhere… and, in a way, everyone.