Category Archives: comics

Warner Bros. Montreal has super aspirations

A few weeks ago, while at the Montreal International Games Summit, I managed to pop in to the brand new Warner Bros. video game studio for a quick tour and chat with some of its key people. The studio officially opened last year, but just recently held an event to celebrate the fact that staff will soon be moving into newly renovated digs. The new offices will be in the same building, an office tower right off Montreal’s Latin Quarter, but a few floors up. Needless to say, the space is also much spiffier.

I sat down and chatted with studio head Martin Carrier and Reid Schneider, vice-president and executive producer, about what they’re going to be doing. Here’s what we discussed.

None of your titles have been announced, but you’re working on DC Comics games, right?

Carrier: We’re definitely working closely with DC on different titles, yet to be announced. It’s one of the reasons we talk to Geoff Johns and Jim Lee [the publisher's head honchos] on a regular basis. It’s interesting for our geeky side to be in touch with those guys, especially now that they’ve relaunched all the 52 [comics]. It’s a good time to be working with DC, there’s so much energy going on there. So yeah, [we’re in] the triple-A space and the casual online space.

What’s your projected size?

Carrier: Three-hundred [employees] by 2015, it’s the target date. We’ll see how fast we get there but it’s been good going so far. We’re up to 150.

How many did you start with last year?

Carrier: Four [laughs]. Four and no office. It was like there’s four of us, here’s a laptop, go home and I’ll call you when I figure something out. Then it was the hotel conference rooms, where we had wi-fi for a good month. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on December 2, 2011 in comics, video games


Stan Lee on comics and games

It’s not often I become a quivering fanboy while interviewing someone, but it happened a few weeks ago when I got the chance to speak with comics legend Stan Lee. As the man who put Marvel Comics on the map in the 1960s by creating the likes of Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four and the X-Men, he’s pretty much responsible for much of the joy I experienced as a kid.

My childhood revolved around comic books. I’d bike downtown several times a week to buy them, then spend the rest of the week reading them. I learned to draw by emulating the likes of John Romita Jr., John Byrne and Marc Silvestri, and I’m pretty certain comic books contributed a great deal to my reading ability. And that of course led to writing, which is what I do for a living. In some ways, my entire livelihood can be traced back to Stan the Man.

The topic of the interview was video games, particularly how comic books can be translated into them. Alas, the number of games based on comics that are good still outnumber the bad, a topic on which I wrote (and included some comments from Lee) over on MSN. As it happens, Activision recently released two Canadian-designed games based on comic books, both of which I found to be decently fun. Check out my reviews of X-Men Destiny, from St. Catharines, Ont.-based Silicon Knights, and Spider-Man: Edge of Time, from Quebec City’s Beenox.

I put together a bit of my interview with Lee with clips from the two games in the video below. If you’re a fan of comics, video games or Stan Lee, check it out:

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Posted by on October 12, 2011 in comics, video games


A comical signing - this weekend!

A final reminder that the Canadian launch party for Sex, Bombs and Burgers takes place tonight at the Cadillac Lounge here in Toronto. Full details are a few posts down, or if you’re too lazy to scroll, you can always click.

If you are in the Toronto area but can’t make it out tonight, you’re more than welcome to come out to a signing I’ll be doing at the new 3rd Quadrant/Hairy Tarantula comic book store in North York. As I mentioned before, the new store (it opened in November) is a co-production between the owners of two stores who used to support a nerdy science-fiction magazine called Realms that I published many years ago.

Their website is scanty, but you can check it out here, while 3rd Quadrant is also on Facebook. The new store is at 6979 Yonge St. at Steeles, located below the EB Games across from Centrepoint Mall. Here’s the map.

As for Sex, Bombs and Burgers‘ science-fiction and comic book connections… there are plenty. As famed science-fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke once said, “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” To take it a step further, any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from yesterday’s science-fiction, which means that any book about technology - Sex, Bombs and Burgers included - is also in many ways about science-fiction.

A couple of the things mentioned in the book, and here previously, make direct connections to comic books. The robotic exoskeleton currently being tested by Raytheon has been referred to as “Iron Man,” while Lockheed’s competitor cyborg suit has been affectionately dubbed the Human Universal Load Carrier, or HULC.

There are also the experiments by DARPA and other agencies into boosting human capabilities into superhuman capabilities. As a Wired article on the topic details, this attempt to get soldiers to “be more than you can be” smacks heavily of comic book characters such as Captain America. And with all of the genetic research going on, such as therapeutic cloning, how far away are we from developing “homo superior,” or the mutants found in various X-Men comics?

Inspiration, when it comes to technology, is often a two-way street. For a really good example, check out the documentary How William Shatner Changed the World where a number of inventors talk about how Star Trek drove them to create new gadgets, and vice-versa.

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Posted by on March 18, 2010 in comics


Comics & video games teaching safe sex

How do you teach young people to have safe sex? As the Middlesex-London Health Unit here in Ontario understands, it’s with comics and video games!

A co-worker yesterday put me on to the fact that the health clinic has launched an online game called “Adventures in Sex City,” which is absolutely hilarious. Visitors to the site pick from one of four super heroes: Wonder Vag, a virgin whose power is to detect when a person is lying; the four-foot-tall Willy the Kid, who has “massive rock hard strength”; Power Pap, who can use her x-ray vision to spot infections; or Captain Condom, who can stretch to any size and “when used properly is 98% effective.”

In the game, which is basically a quiz about safe sex, the Sex Squad does battle with The Sperminator, who used to be part of the team until he was infected with a sexually transmitted disease. Now, the muscled bad guy has penises for hands and shoots infected sperm at you every time you get a question wrong.

I know, crazy huh? I chose Captain Condom and got only a few questions wrong - unfortunately, my knowledge of pap tests just isn’t what it should be. Captain Condom whips out his rubber shield and reflects the infected sperm back at The Sperminator every time you get a question right. Funny stuff.

On a somewhat related note, I’ll be doing a signing of my book at the new 3rd Quadrant/Hairy Tarantula comic store up in North Toronto on the afternoon of Saturday, March 20. More details on that to come.

Why a comic book store? Well, firstly, the respective owners of 3rd Quadrant and Hairy Tarantula - Daryl and Leon - are long-time home-boys who were big supporters of Realms Magazine, a venture that a couple friends and I tried a looooong time ago. Realms 1.0, of which there is virtually no online record of since we started it back in 1996 or so at the dawn of the web, was a bi-weekly science-fiction magazine (or fanzine, or ‘zine, as some called it). Daryl and Leon basically kept us in business for 52 issues with their ad money before Tom, Antoine and I realized that the whole thing was way more trouble than it was worth and called it quits.

Realms 2.0 was a revamped bi-monthly glossy magazine that my friend Kenny and I started up a few years later. We made it to six issues before going bust, and once again, very little web evidence of that whole effort exists. Daryl and Leon were again there with ads, and man was it a good magazine, if I do say so myself.

In the end, everyone involved in producing the magazines did pretty well for themselves. Antoine is now the managing editor of Toronto Community News and local blog Scene & Heard, Kenny is basically The Man at The Globe and Mail’s website and Tom… well, he sold out for some sort of IT job at Rogers. Some of our contributors did very well too - Pieter van Hiel writes role-playing games, Valentine de Landro draws comics for Marvel and Justin Mohareb is, well, bitter.

Obviously, I’ve got a bit of history with the comic book folks (heck, I still read them and my favourite writer of all time is Neil Gaiman). There also exists a fine line between technology and science-fiction, which is what many comic books basically are. Not surprisingly, there are more than a few sci-fi references in Sex, Bombs and Burgers (my favourite story to tell is how Google could create Battlestar Galactica‘s killer Cylon robots), so there is a natural comic-book crossover.

Not to worry, nerd haters: the geekiness has been kept to a minimum, so you too will be able to enjoy the book!

UPDATE: I have been thoroughly chastised by Justin Mohareb, who is one of the organizers of Fan Expo, which is kinda like Canada’s version of San Diego’s Comic Con.

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Posted by on February 18, 2010 in books, comics, science fiction, sex


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