Talking To Ben Bates, Jim Valentino, Matt Wagner, Steve Lieber And David Marquez At Wizard World Portland

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Ian Melton got to speak briefly with a number of comic creators at Wizard World Portland last weekend. And he had plenty to share. He writes.

Ben Bates was a creator whose work I was only slightly familiar with, but has had runs on Mega Man, the cover for the Sonic/Mega Man FCBD, My Little Pony, and a recent TMNT Villain Micro-Series issue spotlighting the IDW introduction and origin of Bebop and Rocksteady. However, meeting this creator was a great joy as his interaction with the younger fans present was just wonderful to see. Ben Bates did sketches for almost every signature he did, and took time to provide younger fans with full sketches of whatever characters they asked. He currently is hopeful to do more work with IDW and TMNT and has a proposal in for a new mini-series that will hopefully be released so this writer can get it as soon as it comes out. The joy and pure exuberance this creator had at Wizard World Portland made me a huge fan of his.

Jim Valentino was at Wizard World happy to sign older works of his, from issues of What If… to Guardians of the Galaxy, and Shadowhawk. However, he was not there to promote any of his own work, be it writing or drawing, but to promote his studio Shadowline and the books of creators like Kurtis J. Weibe, Nick Spenser, and Jimmie Robinson. Many of Image's huge hits come out of his studio imprint which and he is beyond happy at this point to promote other creators and work behind the scenes. Asked about his own upcoming work he said he has nothing planned, and if Shadowhawk was to ever return in the future at this point it would not be with him doing it. The only thing he said he has maybe thought about doing was more Normalman, because "Mike Richardson loves that comic so much and wants me to do it for Dark Horse Presents". At this point though he has no plans to do so and his focus is just on promoting and working to make Shadowline stronger as an Image imprint.

Matt Wagner was busy doing sketches and was very happy to talk about Grendel/Shadow which he is hard at work on. Planned for release later in 2014 (though no firm release date has been set) the series will a be three issue full prestige format mini-series written and drawn by him, taking up a great deal of his time and leading him to comment that his convention appearances this year will be reduced so he can work on this project, as well as any Tower Chronicles work he needs to attend to. Asked about returning to Grendel Prime, Wagner said there are lots of stories to tell about the character but Grendel/Shadow is his focus now and no Grendel Prime stories are planned for anytime soon.

Steve Lieber is loving working with Nick Spencer on Superior Foes of Spider-Man and is hopeful that series will run as long as it can. He loves working on the book and with the shift back to Amazing he hopes that if the book ends its current run it will continue on in some format, but at this time he is still doing work on it and has no idea what the books publishing future is. "I love working on it just because it is the first time as an artist I've been able to draw funny and I love doing it." As he finished as sketch of Shocker he had nothing but huge praise for Nick Spenser as a collaborator and hopes to keep working with him for as long as there is a book to work on.

David Marquez is excited to be launching Miles Morales Ultimate Spider-Man #1 with Brian Michael Bendis this year and really hopes fans will check out the Ultimate Spider-Man #200 he and Mark Bagley are drawing together. That jam issue, along with All-New X-Men #25 will feature his artwork and he's happy to see his work coming out steadily, with his normal output he says being 11 issues a year plus work on his creator owned projects such as The Joyners in 3D (which he had copies on hand to show and it looks beautiful!) but he really hopes to stay with Brian Michael Bendis on his upcoming work. "Brian and I as collaborators have very similar ideas and sense of story, and beyond that we've become great friends so as long as Brian wants to work with me I want to work with him." The idea of working on the X-Men appeals to David and other Marvel characters but at the moment launching Mile Morales with Bendis is something he very excited about, as well as getting people more aware about the Joyners in 3D which is very proud of.