Cranboyz Online

A place for the members of the Cranboyz to share stories about Comic Books, Conventions and Artwork!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Collectorz Tool for collections

If you read our blog than you or someone you know, at some point or another, have or had some sort of comic book “collection” or another. For most of the members of our blog I’m confident in saying the collection is a generous size. Trying to figure out a way to keep wish lists and current collection lists current and accessible has always been interesting to say the least. Always allowing my short attention span to kick in when at a con – “oh squirrel, oh squirrel”; and forgetting more than half the books I actually wanted to get. After doing some searching I came across a product called Comic Collector by They created databases for Movies, Books, Music, Comic, Games, MP3 and Photos. I purchased the Pro edition of the Comic Collector and thought I’d share.

Comic Collector v.5.3 comes in three editions free, Standard and PRO. Free allows trial edition to a limit of 100 comics which is what I started with. Eventually, I purchased the Pro edition. The database is really cake to use but you can get as advanced as you want depending on your technical capabilities, usually simple is best. The database software allows you to catalog your comics automatically including full issue data, creators and character lists, cover art, etc. Now the great thing is the power of having your comics in a database. Say you are prepping for a con and you have 20 long boxes of books, but you only need the books you want signed by a specific creator.  If you search for that creator by name it will produce every comic you own. If you play your cards right and organize your boxes let’s say by number; you can enter your box number where the book is located in the notes field. Let’s look at some features…

First, the online comic database from provides issue details, cover art, etc containing over 270 thousand comics and growing! They are also receiving a data feed from Diamond Comics, so anything new that is release will be added to the Collectorz online database; which is pretty great to have a live feed of current comic issue information at all time. That’s pretty hot.

Adding inventory is pretty simple too. There are numerous ways to accomplish this. You can manually enter in titles and search. This will show entire run results by volume. This is handy if you have the entire run and you can just add all of them. Have a bunch of “$1.00 bin boxes.” No problem there either (in my TV infomercial voice). There is a barcode app for your mobile device that will read your books into a list, queue them up and enter them all in at once. Also pretty hot! The app isn’t free but the manual title entry is so the choice is yours. I use my phone connected via USB cable and never had a problem with it.

Exporting and sharing is also possible via mobile app (also not free) but you can browser your database and wish list and never forget another book at another con again. Sharing is possible with PRO members and I can’t blog too much on this feature because I haven’t used it yet but, I have friends that l-o-v-e it.

Of course my most favorite part of the database is the browsing of comics in my database. I personally love the Cover Flow View and lists, statistical facts by publisher, title, creator and how about the total of all cover prices of your entire collection. I know, I know…hot.

I will include a video from the vendor as well as screenshots but implore you, if you have any type of collection you want to track, try this product. I am receiving nothing from this blog post. I think it’s a great product, that’s all. What can you lose, the basic install is free!

Comic Collector Free Trial -

  The MacOS X edition is compatible with Mac OS X 10.5.8 or highter (Leopard, Snow Leopard, Lion and Mountain Lion)

 The Windows edition runs on Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista and Windows XP.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Josh Medors Remembered

Yesterday while picking up my new books, Popa text me that Josh Medors had passed away.  I knew of Josh's long battle with cancer and how hard it had been.  I also knew he recently had been back in the hospital due to additional problems, however it still struck me pretty hard.
 I first met Josh at the infamous Screaming Tiki Convention in 2008.  Pretty much every creator there was looking for something to do, so when I asked Josh if he was doing sketches he was more than happy to take one on!  We talked about his run on GI Joe: America's Elite and it was very obvious he was a Joe fan!  I couldn't believe he had pages from his run and was pretty psyched to pick up two.  As a matter of fact, I was kicking myself later for not getting more! I let Josh pick any GI Joe character he wanted to draw and after he told me he liked to give some of the second tier characters a shot, I wasn't surprised to see him drawing Barbeque in my book.  What I couldn't believe was the amazing amount of detail he put into it! Like I said, the show wasn't a huge success, so Josh told me that as long as I left my book with him he would keep adding detail, and he did! 

Being from the same general area, we had the chance to see Josh at quite a few shows.  Popa and Andy picked up sketches from Josh  the next time we saw him and I had a chance to buy a few more of his GI Joe pages.  Josh and his wife Charlotte were always great to talk with at shows and his name on a guest list was a reason to be more excited for a convention.  Josh was just as much a fan as he was creator.  I last got to see Josh at the 2012 Pittsburgh Comic Con.  He put on a friendly face and chatted as much as he could but it was clear he wasn't feeling his best.  I didn't get to talk with him as much as in the past but I will be always be glad for the visits we did have.
 Josh had to cancel his most recent appearance in Akron, but I was glad to see his pal Sean Forney.  Sean remembered me from shows and let me know that Josh really wasn't doing well.  It's so terrible that anyone should go through what Josh and his family have, made even worse by him being gone now.  As little as I knew him, he was a fantastic person and as you can see, he was an amazing artist!  I'm  thankful that because of his artist abilities I had the chance to know him. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012


Yesterday we attended the first Akron Comicon, held at the University of Akron Student Center. This was a one day show with a nice blend of guests and events.  A new show is tough because you are starting from scratch with no actual idea of how things will work out or what to expect.  You can plan the perfect show but if no one shows up, that's it!  This was not an issue for the Akron Comicon!

The show was easily accessable from the interstate and thanks to frequent Facebook updates, addresses were posted for the nearest parking areas.  The Student Center is a nice, clean environment with several places to eat, right in the building!  And as Darryl Banks pointed out, they didn't gouge you with Con prices!  We actually ate at a Penn Station across the street from where we parked, but that was convienient too!  And as any Canboy knows, the FedEx Copy Center a block away was perfect!  The Student Center also provides lots of room for growth with  numerous halls and rooms available to expand into.

The Con boasted a solid guest list feturing Norm Breyfgole, Gerry Conway, Joe Staton, Darryl Banks, Tom Batiuk and many others!  There was a diverse selection of dealers selling the usual comic books, shirts, supplies and toys but also original art, art supplies and other items.   The room was a modest size, a safe bet for a first show, but it was easy to find.  Numerous signs in the building guided people along and the stairs and elevator were both right at the show entrance.  The room got pretty full and it became a tight squeeze in the early afternoon, but that's a good sign because people wanted to be there!

This is an important thing, the show had a fun atmosphere!  People were excited for the show, excited to be part of it! I didn't get the feeling that anyone was there, just because.  They were there to be a part of things!  There was an art contest, a costume contest, panel discussions, the HERO Initiative was set up, ECBI (the Elyria Comic Book Initiative) had hourly seminars on how to make your own comic book, as well as a few more fan groups!  The staff was friendly and happy to talk with people!  The promoter came out a few times and welcomed fans waiting in line before the show!  The con's tag line, "Fans First, Fans Always" felt real!

The artists I spoke with all were busy and had full sketch lists. Norm Breyfogle was busy signing books and talking with fans the entire day.  Dealers I spoke with were happy that people were buying. like I said, everyone wanted to be there! 

I took my nephew to the show and we met with Eric. The three of us were there almost all day and enjoyed ourselves.  We ran into a few of our friends we normally see at these events, but I also ran into a co-worker!  He's been looking to fill some holes in his Silver Age collection but has never been to a show!  We ran into a friend of ours from High School, now a High School teacher, who came to check out some of the panels and meet creators!  Robert Jenkins and Michael Savene really succeeded in making this con a community based event!  They managed to appeal not just to the normal comic book geeks but fans of all sorts, who all came together for a day of fun!

I wish the Akron Comicon all the best and look forward to updates on the 2013 show!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Darkness

 Until this weekend I'd never once read a page of Top Cow Comics "The Darkness" series. I've still never read a word of "Witchblade." I suppose it's a little unusual that I never looked at either book, only because Marc Silvestri was always my favorite of the Image founders so you'd think I might have looked at his studio's most popular books at one point or another. Maybe it was the books' reputations for emphasizing titillation over story (which may or may not be justified, again, I've never read any of it) or maybe it was just that the art, while always dynamic always seemed somewhat impenetrable to me. It was almost too much of a good thing -- too detailed, too sexy, too posed. Too much style that I didn't expect there to be much substance.

There were also content issues: "Witchblade" is about a cop and cop stories don't really interest me; "The Darkness" was about a mobster and mob stories interest me even less. There were supernatural elements to both but not enough to really draw me in. Until recently I pretty much expected to go through my life never reading Top Cow books.

Well, a year or so ago my friend Jeremy Haun signed an exclusive deal with Top Cow and was announced as the artist for "The Darkness" as part of a wide-line reboot. Jeremy and I love the same horror movies (namely the bad ones) and he's an awesome artist so I try to pick up as much of his stuff at possible. But I still didn't initially bite on "The Darkness." A month or so ago the first five issues of Jeremy's run were collected in a TPB -- a ten dollar trade, I might add. That's cheap. Thumbing through the book the art was AMAZING -- and I'm not saying that because I'm friends with the artist, this is top drawer stuff even if I'd never met the guy before.

So last week I went into my local comic shop and didn't find a lot that caught my eye, but I saw that "Darkness" trade and the next issue so I could get the whole story. And this time I picked it up. And I gotta tell you -- it's STELLAR. I mean, this is the best stuff I've read off the new racks in a couple years.

 I don't think I've read anything David Hine has written previously. If I have I don't remember it but he's writing a very fast, but very heavy story here. The basic gist is he manages to separate the protagonist Jackie Estacado from 'the darkness,' the evil force that's a part of him and gives him powers from the dark side. Oh, but Estacado also got all his dreams to come true, namely for the love of his life (who was apparently dead) to be back to life, and for them to be married and have a family. Meanwhile, there's a new foreign crime lord in town and a mob turf war is breaking out. Estacado can stay home and run his business during the day and, at night, unleash his doppleganger, The Darkness, his dark side, to get his hands dirty. And, believe me, The Darkness gets his hands seriously dirty. This is a HORROR comic, at its heart.

But what makes the book stick out, to me, are the subplots. They're perfect subplots because they pick at the main story, compromising the main character's actions and intentions. All the good cliffhangers are coming from underneath the main story, namely how The Doppleganger is affecting Estacado's life from the outside, instead of from the inside, which I gather was how it worked before this story arc, before they were split into two beings.

Comics live on great cliffhangers and I can tell you -- and I don't want to spoil anything -- but several issues already have had some of the most F**D up cliffhangers I've read in a long time. And I mean that in a great way -- like the creators are saying 'how can we mess with our protagonist's head in the most disturbing ways imaginable.' In a story that seems to be built on giving him everything he wanted the 'be careful what you wish for' adage is being blown back in his face. Oh, but the book is NOT for the faint of heart. It's definitely R-rated, with violence, sex and other things some people might object to. But it all feeds the story, instead of being for shock value. Well, not for gratuitous shock value anyway.

And the art is off the chains. Haun can draw some crazy monsters from his main character's imagination that are flecked with everything from Lovecract to Clive Barker but he can also draw a sweet little kid having a bedtime story read to her by her dad. And those are sometimes on the same pages. He can also draw some beautiful women and tough-as-nails mobsters, but they're still CHARACTERS. Their expressions matter, they're nuanced and relevant. I haven't recommended a comic in a long time, most of what I read is fine but doesn't make me jump up and down and scream 'READ THIS.' "The Darkness" makes me jump up and down and scream "READ THIS."

 So, read it already.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Mid-Ohio 2012

Here are the sketches I got this weekend at Mid-Ohio con. They are Thorbuster by Bat Hilliard. He is a really cool guy. Also, Mockingbird by Sketchblocked Darryl Banks. Kang the Conquerer by Adam Withers and Iron Man Mark 3 by Alan Davis. Stories and descriptions of each can by found on my Comic Art Fans page. It was a great con. Thanks Shane, Andy and Popa for making it a great birthday weekend! Better scans to come.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Four Color Heroes

Hello Cranboyz!  Just checking in with an update on coloring.  I've been continuing to practice with colors with as much time as I can spare, pushing myself to be better and to work faster.  I've got a couple of pieces I'd like to share here, to show my progress.

First up is a great commission of Invincible and Atom Eve by Joelle Jones.  I saw this piece online and decided to take a shot at coloring it.  This was my first attempt at using the coloring method that Comfort and Adam use, as well as a few tricks I picked up from talking to Simon Gough, the regular colorist on Robert Atkins' work on Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow.  Looking at it now, I see things I would fix, but I think it was a good first attempt.

Up next is Justice, the first piece I picked up from Robert Atkins during his Avengers month on his sketch blog back in April.  After seeing the movie, and starting to re-read Busiek and Perez's Avengers run, I was in a huge Avengers mood and decided to use this for my second practice piece.  I felt like something really clicked during my work on this one, and although I made a few mistakes along the way, I am starting to formulate a process that works for me.

Since I picked up Firestar from Atkins as a companion piece to Justice, I decided to color her next.  Again, I have a long way to go, but I really feel like I'm getting the hang of doing this.  And really, it's a hell of a lot of fun to do.  So look forward to more coming in the near future.

I'll check back in down the road with a few more pieces.  Next up, more Avengers and maybe a couple of Turtles...

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Bill's Books and Free Comics?

Hey guys. I was at Bill's Books on Free Comic Book Day and got this AWESOME sketch from Darryl Banks! He actually is a huge fan of the character Thanos. He made particular mention of the smirk that he gave him.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Avenger movie

I went to see the Avengers movie this afternoon. I went into the movie with very high expectations and I have to say I was entirely disappointed. Are you kidding!!! The movie was amazing. No I believe it was perfect. It had tons of action, character development and comedy. The two scenes that appear after the credits were great also. Many, many memorable scenes which I will not get into now as to not ruin it for anybody who has not seen it yet but I will say I enjoyed the interaction between the Hulk and Loki very much.
I look forward to more and specific discussions.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

No sleep till Pittsburgh!

Pittsburgh Comic Con 2012 was a blast this year. It was filled with high energy and friendly people while still keeping that small show feel. For the Cranboyz we kicked off our con season with our Dark Cranboyz Villians United theme sporting new swag and collecting a bunch of great villain convention sketches (and maybe a hero or two).  Popa starting with a great George Perez sketch of Ms. Marvel, which from I understand may get a coloring job from our own Andy Varcho (your welcome Andy). Shane started the con by camping out and stalking Barry Kitson’s line, followed shortly after by Popa and well worth the restraining orders I may add, the sketches are stellar. Shane has an awesome album showing the process of Barry Kitson drawing Union Jack, you can check it out on his Facebook page and or Twitter. Popa is now the proud owner of the amazing sketch of Sif.

While Mr. Kitson’s line was occupied by multiple Cranboyz Andy was off doing his own thing getting art from Andy Bennett,  Josh Medors and Dave Watchter.

Shortly after the show opened I was tracked down by Iconograph studios staff. Earlier in the week I won a free convention sketch on facebook and they needed my book and wanted to introduce the artist which was great. Ben Taylor, Stephen Burks, David Hindelang and Mark Peasley are great people and were all willing to take a crack at my sketch, in the end I went with David Hindelang who drew Megatron (Generation 1 of course).  It turned out awesome and I’ll be returning to their table in the future if I see them at more cons. I’ve included their link –

I was also able to hook James “Q” Nguyen up with a brand new freakin’ Dark Cranboyz Villians United shirt! He was pretty stoked about it.

Meanwhile books are all accounted for in artists possessions and for a Friday it’s pretty darn busy so myself and Kaity check out the Quick Sketch for charity event in the ballroom. Basically, a ton of artist do quick sketches and you buy raffle tickets to win the art. So people were winning huge art for a buck (if they were lucky) Kaity and I weren’t lucky but the art and artists’ generosity was amazing!

Saturday was a mad house thus being the perfect day for all of us to wear our new Cranboyz T-shirts that Andy and Shane designed and tweaked to perfection. 

Shane and Popa after being stalkers in Barry Kitson’s line thought it worked so well they duplicated the activity in Scott McDainel’s table. 

Of course, it paid off, come on people its Shane and Popa here. Popa scored a threating Mr. Freeze while Shane walked away with Ravager I.

Andy was nowhere to be found during most of Saturday after staking a piece of the Kitson line real estate. I think we can all agree his time was wisely spent after seeing his Chameleon sketch. After that he rallied his legs to work again and made it to Ron Frenz’s table to get a sketch of X-Men’s The Beast.

Popa locked an Andy Bennett sketch of The Black Flash, followed up by a Darryl Banks Spider Woman. We love us some Darryl Banks art, he’s an all-around great person and artist.

Shane signed up for a pretty kick ass Juggernaut by Ron Frenz and secured his spot in Dave Wachter’s sketch list for a sketch of G.I. Joe Recondo. Now I don’t know who actually started the trend but most of us walked away with a Dave Wachter piece during this show. It was well worth the wait for an authentic art piece, rather than being one of “those guys” who sport around the knock off versions. You can tell the difference because Dave Wachter authenticates his art with a special stamp, the knock offs won’t have them. (Or the artist forgot. And then your “friend” and fellow Cranboyz forgot to get it stamped for you …sorry Shane). It’s still a great sketch.  Beside that, Shane also scored some great James “Q” Nguyen art of Grifter, which James later colored in the mask and sealed the deal of it being a kick ass sketch. To wrap up Saturday before half the Cranboyz called it a weekend, Shane left his book for Josh Medors to sketch in but, Josh left after not feeling well so Josh Warner stepped in and did a really good job. We of course wish Josh Medors get well wishes and hope he’s on the road back to recovery.

Sunday was just the lone three of myself (Shawn), Kaity and Larry. It was also kids’ day which is probably explains the strategic exit of the first wave of Cranboyz.

 It was a great day filled with costume contests, kids meeting Darth Vader and good times. I picked up my book from Dave Wachter who did a great Two Face and was able to secure Shane’s G. I. Joe book with The Oktober Guard sketch. Finally, I picked up a last minutes sketch of Sonic the Hedgehog for my daughter Aubrey who is a huge fan, Stephen Wittmaak was the artist.

At this point all the books are back, the feet are sore and we are ready to hit the road back to Ohio. It was a really fun Pittsburgh Comic Con. Getting together with friends and catching up with our favorite artists and hearing what they’ve been doing. Great costumes, brief Stan Lee drive bys’ producing cheers and clapping makes it all feel like a great start to a fabulous con season.

With that said I would like to take a few minutes to thank some very special people who stepped up and encouraged my 17 year old daughter this weekend. This past weekend was her first show ever as an artist, seated in section AA across the room from Stan Lee. It was an amazing experience and eye opening for both her and me. She was pretty nervous but was quickly put at ease by the professionalism and courtesy of the other vendors and artists. There was a constant flow of positive comments fired in her direction. 

Other artists there to promote their work stopped and got a convention sketch or just stopped by to say hello and welcome. It really did feel like a family.We met such great people this weekend, Joe Fogle who has a book called “Creatures of War” and Joe Kleinman who was promoting his web comic shared some expertise and are sincerely smart and supportive young people in the industry. Of course, all the Cranboyz.  Jay Fife who I’ve always thought was a great artist and all around cool person. 

who was super supportive being a fellow female in the industry had a lot of valuable information to share with her, thanks again Kate! James “Q” Nguyen stopped by the table a couple of times and picked up a sketch for his daughter, we hope she likes it!

Finally, David DeVera, who was our table neighbor; he is the creator/writer/colorist of his comic NINJABITCH he is a cool guy who was willing to send people over from his table to check out Kaity’s art as well as get a con sketch of his character NINJABITCH. 

There were so many people that made a huge impact and we both are extremely thankful. BTW, yes I'm an extremely proud father. We hope to see everyone at the next con!!