My MidAmeriCon Schedule


I’m off to Kansas City Wednesday to be a part of MidAmericon II, this years World Science Fiction Convention. If you’re planning to be there and you’d like to talk, or just see me run my mouth (with or without beer involved!), here are the events I’m scheduled for:


Silent Spaces: Comics Without Words
Thursday 15:00-16:00, 2502B (Kansas City Convention Center)

How do you tell a story without words? Artists have been doing it for centuries, and the tradition continues with silent comics and silent graphic novels. Panelists discuss their favorite silent moments, the benefit of allowing art to speak for itself, reading strategies and the challenge of creating a story without words. [Kurt Busiek, Jessica Guggenheim (M), James Bryant]

Cultural Influences in SF Art
Friday 12:00-13:00, 2504B (Kansas City Convention Center)

Science fiction and fantasy writers have mined the mythologies of many different cultures and societies, past and present. Do artists do the same? Are there specific influences that we can see in science fiction and fantasy art? Kinuko Craft’s Japanese background can sometimes be seen in her art. How do other artists’ personal backgrounds affect their art and reflect the cultures that they grew up in? [Kurt Busiek, Ms. Kinuko Y. Craft, Goldeen Ogawa, John Picacio (M)]

Fast then Slow! Pacing in Comics and Graphic Novels
Friday 16:00-17:00, 2503A (Kansas City Convention Center)

Panelists discuss what it takes to create atmosphere, drama and tension in comics, and then how to take it down a notch. What are some of the most exciting ways to create dynamic stories that fly off the page, and how do you evoke stilness when it’s needed? Our panel weave their way through some key ideas and experiments. [Alison Wilgus (M), Kurt Busiek, Scott Edelman]

Literary Beer: Kurt Busiek, Jane Frank
Friday 19:00-20:00, Literary Beer Space (Kansas City Convention Center)

Kurt Busiek, Jane Frank

Analyzing a Movie: Batman vs. Superman
Saturday 14:00-15:00, 3501D (Kansas City Convention Center)

A Siskel/Ebert, but detailed, look at Batman vs. Superman: what worked and where the film failed to live up to its potential. What could the filmmakers have done to rescue it? What was the cause of its downfall? Did it really fail as badly as some say? And does knowledge/or lack of knowledge about the comics influence the success of the film? This session is suitable for those who wish to learn more about film criticism from a fair and honest perspective, but also for those who just love giving “arm chair quarterback” reviews. [Julia Rios, Matt Jacobson (M), Kurt Busiek]

Superheroes: Oversaturated or Raising the Bar?
Saturday 15:00-16:00, 2503A (Kansas City Convention Center)

For the last decade and a half superheroes have dominated the screen. New takes on old comic book/television favorites pop up every year. Is this a healthy trend or is the topic exhausted?[Pete Balestrieri, Sunil Patel (M), Carrie Vaughn, Kurt Busiek, Marc Zicree]

Comics Collaboration: Kurt Busiek in Conversation
Sunday 13:00-14:00, 2502A (Kansas City Convention Center)

Kurt Busiek discusses his work over the last thirty years in the comics industry with Alison Wilgus. [Kurt Busiek, Alison Wilgus (M)]


It should also be noted that I’m scheduled for an Autographing session on Sunday at 3pm, but since my flight home leaves at 5pm, I’ll either be at the airport or on the way by then. So if you want something signed, please catch me elsewhere!

Astro City 34 Online Lettercol


Moving right along…

Let’s see if I can get another online column done tonight, so I won’t be horrifically behind any more, just embarrassingly behind.

We’re on to…hoopty-doo, the online column for #34, which will mostly be covering mail that came in while #32 was on the stands. First, here’s the printed lettercol text…

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We had a little production mishap last issue, and the lettering got messed up on page 3. We were able to fix it for the digital edition (and will fix it for the book collection), but the printed issues had already gone out. So for you fine single-issue print readers (the salt of the earth and the backbone of the industry!), here’s the page you should have gotten…


Our apologies for the error.

We’ll reveal the Letter of the Month in the online column!

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So. Not much text there, since we needed the room for the replacement page. We didn’t even have a Letter of the Month! I said I’d do it in the online column, so I guess I gotta do it now!

Can we have a drumroll for the potential LOTMers, please?
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Astro City 33 Online Lettercol


Yeah, okay, we’re pathetically late on the online lettercols. And when I say “we,” I mean, of course, Molly. No, wait, she doesn’t do the online lettercols. JG? No, he designed the blog here, and did out cool postmark, but he doesn’t fill the columns. Brent, then. Gotta be Brent!

Couldn’t be me! I’ve been wiped out and exhausted and allergy-y all Spring! It can’t be my fault!

Yeah, my fault. So let’s see what I can do about starting to catch up. First off, here’s the print lettercol from ASTRO CITY 33…

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What, again? Another lettercolumn? It’s like I have to do one of these every month!

Okay, I’m tired and cranky and my dog has taken to murdering padded envelopes. Not that you need to know that, but it seemed worth sharing. I think he likes popping bubble-wrap (or bubble-wrap-lined packaging) as much as the next being.

So where was I? Right, the Letter of the Month! Letter volume was up, I’m happy to say, and this month we’ve got another LOTM repeater. Say hello (again) to:


Dear Astroids,

Hey, I figured I’d try a weird salutation for a change. You may also think of it as “astro-ids.”

Re issue 31: How? How does this book just keep getting better?

First, Brent’s art was truly stunning. Oh, wait—it was Jesús Merino! Wow. I think that’s the strongest work I’ve seen from him, and it fit right into ASTRO CITY’s normal look of art.

Second, the story just kept me turning page after page to see where you were going to take this unusual style of narration. For some reason, the script reminded me of Steve Gerber’s work—not just for the “Whatever knows fear burns at the Man-Thing’s touch” feeling, but the personal touch that the narrative provided, coming close to what I think was Gerber’s masterpiece, GIANT-SIZE MAN-THING #4 way back when.

If I had any criticism, it would be for the name “Living Nightmare”, which seemed a bit too Marvel-like (“Living Laser,” “Living Vampire,” “Living Tribunal,” and of course, the Dr. Strange villain Nightmare), but I’m not sure what else you could have called him that got the message across: Fever Dream? Probably not.

The bit where Honor Guard is touting their new costumes to each other was hilarious; best sequence like that since the Wasp used to introduce a new costume every other issue of Avengers. (Can you tell I’m a child of ’60s and ’70s comics?)

Anyway, thanks for another gorgeous issue. Keep ’em coming!

P.S. Immediately after reading this issue, I went through my mail and found the signed copy of ASTRO CITY 30. Perfect timing, and thanks so much!

You’re uber-welcome, sir!

Got to give props to artists again this month—not only to Jesús Merino, who did a wonderful job and who we’re happy to have visit these pages any time (and please, check out his FLASH arc either out now or coming soon), but Alex Ross as well, without whom issue #31 would have been very different. Not only was it he who said that some of the Honor Guard members were starting to look a little dusty, so maybe some new costumes would be in order (and there’s at least one more coming), but if I’m remembering correctly, he’s the guy who suggested the Living Nightmare should return to Honor Guard, and when I said I was thinking of telling the story through the POV of whoever would be “piloting” the Nightmare this time, he said he thought it should be the Nightmare alone, developing an individual mind after all this time.

He ain’t just covers, folks.

As for the Nightmare’s name, I don’t mind names that resonate with all kinds of comics history—and it has been his name since our first issue in 1995.

Anyway. You know this already, but to let everyone else know: Them what writes the Letter of the Month are rightwise entitled to a signed copy of the comic. E-mail us your mailing address (again) and off it’ll go to you.

And now…what else we got?
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2016 Conventions

I’ve already been to Wizard World Portland the Emerald City Comicon this year and didn’t mention it here, because glorgg. Let’s see what else is on the schedule…


June 2-5, 2016
Phoenix Comicon
Phoenix, AZ
Panels/Signings: beats me.


August 17-21, 2016
MidAmeriCon II: The 74th World Science Fiction Convention
Kansas City, MO
Panels/Signings: I’m sure there’ll be some.


September 10-11, 2016
Rose City Comic Con
Portland, OR
Panels/Signings: honestly, you’re probably better off checking the show schedule than expecting me to update this page…
Hope to see you at one or more of these fine shows!

Astro City Mail – February?


Okay, I’m way behind on letter columns, so let’s catch up a little. This is the one that should have run in February, but I had a very bad Spring, fatigue-wise. I’ll catch up as swiftly as I’m able.

Anyway, this’ll be another fairly short one. To start off with, the print lettercol from ASTRO CITY #32…

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Fair warning. I have done something horrible to my back, and the doctor has put me on Valium and Percocet, so I make no guarantees about where this lettercolumn will lead us. It’s possible I’ll just fall asleep in the middle of it, because that’s the kind of debauched, exotic life this Vertigo writer leads. Sorry, team, if I’m letting the side down.

Anyway. We have a letter for you. It’s a nice letter and everything. Let’s call it the Letter of the Month, and pretend it’s from:


I’ve been thinking about the Zirr since reading ASTRO CITY #30. I once told someone that, in the real world, people don’t actually consider themselves evil, even if we would apply that label. It’s only in comic books that people (or, in this case, aliens) do evil for evil’s sake. But it’s no surprise that in ASTRO CITY, being as nuanced as it is, that still doesn’t apply. Instead, the evil alien empire is actually a victim of a few bad individuals in control. And it’s a refreshing change from the stereotype.

But you know what I’m most interested to see now? I want to see how the Zirr priestlords work. Are they in control of themselves or also victims of brainwashing? In particular, who provides the lies, um, official version of the truth for the factcasts? Surely the Zirr Emperor is too busy to worry about the details.

Obviously Kurt can go back and revisit Zozat when he grows up to answer some of these questions. I suspect he left that thread dangling for just such a reason. But much like my seven-year-old daughter, I’m impatient and don’t want to wait that long. However, I’m also easily distracted and will no doubt devour the next issue’s story, forgetting, at least until the next reread of #30, about the Zirr. There’s so many stories to be told in ASTRO CITY and not enough Kurts, so I’ll take what I can get. Thank you for keeping them coming.

[Okay, before I answer, how good were you all at pretending this letter was from Lee? It should have been easy, since it actually is from Lee, so hey, there we go. Good job, everyone.]

As for you, Lee…

…yes, it’s quite true we can revisit Zozat and crew and see how they’re getting on at some point in the future. But even if we don’t, I think the story’s pretty well concluded, even if we never learn the details of Zirr society from the inside. Doesn’t mean we can’t, of course.

Mind you, I don’t think this sort of thing happens because of a few bad eggs pulling the strings on everything else. I think it’s more about earlier, power- and conquest-hungry emperors setting a tone, lying to the public when things didn’t go quite right, and then doubling down on that as needed. The priestlords are part of the system, and once a system gets going, it works to maintain itself rather than expose its flaws. We don’t need to go off-planet to find examples of that.

So how does one change a system that’s geared to maintain itself? That’s a question for another story. Could even be about someone other than the Zirr! You never know.

Anyway. Before the Valium has me thinking about the Brady Bunch again for some reason, I’ll do the bit about how as Letter of the Month writer, you get a signed copy of this comic. E-mail us your mailing address and we’ll poot one off to you, with our thanks.

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So. What else we got?

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