Archon 39: Having a Blast

Archon, like many other science fiction conventions, is a showcase for cosplay. Here are just a few of the folks who are having a blast with critical blast at our con this year.


Archon 39: Interview with Harlan Ellison

Few men in the genre of science fiction stand as tall as does Harlan Ellison. From anthologies to comic books to television episodes to movies, if it's science fiction Harlan Ellison has been there, done that.

It was my distinct privilege and honor to speak with Mr. Ellison has he attended Archon 39.


Composer Frederik Wiedmann on Process, Experimentation and Superheroes

Back in July, composer Frederik Wiedmann’s work on SPECTRUM was covered here. It was a masterful piece of music that took us on a journey through the senses. After the release of the soundtrack that accompanies JUSTICE LEAGUE: GODS and MONSTERS, we had an opportunity to chat with the talented composer and ask him a few questions about his experience, process and whether or not Bruce Timm has him on ‘speed dial’.


Larissa Lam on 'Wonder Woman' and the Inspiration behind her Anthem for DC's Power Couple

I’d love to consider myself to be some great investigative reporter, who scoops big stories and has sources to provide inside information. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. That being said, through the power of social media I am occasionally presented with something so amazing I need to write about it.

Enter singer/songwriter, Larissa Lam.

She had shared her song, ‘Wonder Woman’, with me on twitter and, as a comic book nerd, I had to listen. Needless to say, I loved it so much I had to know more about the woman who used her talents to write and sing a song that references DC’s Power Couple.


Mark Millar: Time-Travel, Superheroes, and the Next Millarworld Movie Adaptation

Mark Millar Millarworld Chrononauts comics superhero film adaptations Critical

The difficulty with transcribing an interview with comics writer Mark Millar is not one of attuning the American ear to the Scottish accent. Rather, it's in the judicious editing out of all the exclamation points you find in your notes. Mark, like the comics he produces, is a high-energy personality, and every utterance comes across with a sense of excitement and urgency.

And why shouldn't he be excited? He's had several of his comic book projects turned into films, with more of those on the way, and he's living out the dream of playing daily with superheroes, and getting paid to do so!

The owner and operator of Millarworld sat down with CriticalBlast for a few moments to talk about his latest graphic novel venture, CHRONONAUTS, as well as drop some knowledge on us about some of his other projects he has coming down the pike.


Buddy of the Beast: Austin Basis

Austin Basis CW Beauty and the Beast JTnT JT Forbes interview Critical Blast

Austin Basis has a long and varied career in acting -- and lately a lot of it has been at the CW. As the newest season of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST gets underway, we spoke with the actor about his career and where things are going for his character on this fan-favorite television show.


You’re a very persistent actor. You’ve taken the traditional route from playing unnamed characters and bit parts, and worked your way up the ladder. Which I actually like to see over the “I just discovered somebody, let’s cast them and write them a million dollar check.”


Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer: Creating Gold

Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer Ava Gold Havana Critical Blast Interview

So you have a new music single and video debuting, "Havana," and I understand that this is inspired by the story of your parents coming to America from Cuba. Can you elaborate on that story a little bit?

My dad came from Havana. My mom came from Santiago. There was just a lot of crazy things that happened and challenging sacrifices they had to make to get to this country. You know, in pursuit of the American dream.


Raymond Cruz on Upcoming Major Crimes: "You're Going to be Left in Tears"

Raymond Cruz Major Crimes Julio Sanchez TNT Critical Blast

TNT's MAJOR CRIMES succeeds because it doesn't have a single star -- it has a constellation of stars that put all their light on telling the story, and let the show be the object of focus. One of these terrific actors is Raymond Cruz, who portrays Detective Julio Sanchez. We stole of few moments of Cruz's time to talk about his character's evolving story on MAJOR CRIMES, which airs Monday nights on TNT.

The big question for MAJOR CRIMES fans right now is, "Does Julio Sanchez have a grip on his anger issues?"

You know, he's working on that. [laughs] As you know, things don't happen overnight. What's great and fascinating about the show is you get to see someone who has to deal with things in real time, over a period of time. He just returned from a five month suspension without pay, he's attending counseling, he's living with his mother.


5 Questions with: Haeravon

With all of the hype surrounding the recent release of the trailer for FALLOUT 4, I decided it was time to start getting myself back into the mindset of an open-world, first person RPG. I had recently been on a racing game kick, and with my anticipation for FO4 being kicked into overdrive, I grabbed my copy of FO3 and went to work.

Typically, after grinding a game for a few hours, I like to grab a FAQ and see everything I've missed. You can call me a cheater if you must, but I still get loads of enjoyment by playing with a handy-to-reference guide.


The Art of Lying: YA Author Paula Stokes

Paula Stokes author YA Goodreads Liars Inc The Art of Lainey Critical Blast

Young Adult Literature. It's been officially a thing now for a handful of years, offering up stories that appeal to young and old alike, featuring young protagonists in a variety of plots.

Paula Stokes is carving out her own place among the pantheon of YA authors, with two novels, LIARS INC and THE ART OF LAINEY from Harper Teen. I first met Paula in St. Louis, and was glad to get in touch with her on the release of LIARS INC to discuss the YA market and get some insights into her own process.

I was fortunate enough to be one of the early proofreaders on LIARS INC, what feels like so long ago. What was going on back then that provided the inspiration of Max's story?


Toying with Monsters: The Art of Kris Mobley

Kris Mobley Critical Blast

One of the things we love to do at Critical Blast is provide a platform for artists who haven't had much exposure -- the people you haven't heard of yet, but the people you'll likely hear of in the future.

One of those people is Kris Mobley, who's taken a unique approach to the subjects who sit for his portraits. They're monsters. And Mobley toys with them.

Fortunately for Mobley, these monsters are plastic figures. Let's find out what's behind all that.


It's not unusual for graphic artists to do portraits of classic monsters, but you're approach is to use the toy versions of them as models -- and retain the toy appearance. What drove this decision, and why the REMCO models as opposed to items like the Aurora model kits?



Heathen, a Kickstarter Graphic Novel You Need To See

Heathen by Natasha Alterici -- Back it on Kickstarter!

I love to browse Kickstarter for cool new inventions, clever board games and exciting graphic novels. Recently I came across Heathena new graphic novel project from Oklahoma-based artist Natasha Alterici. After reading the synopsis, I immediately backed her project. I then contacted Natasha to learn more about the project, her interest in comic books, and herself. 

Tell me a little about yourself and how you came to be doing a Kickstarter for this graphic novel project? What drew you, no pun intended, to the comic medium? And who are done of your artistic influences? Your style on Heathen reminds me of Ashley Wood, which isn't a bad thing!


Riding the Lightning: Robert Venditti and Van Jensen on Writing Flash's 75th Year

DC Comics Flash 75 Robert Venditti Van Jensen

Anniversaries. They have a nasty habit of just sneaking up on you without notice. Some of them seem to come faster than others, and even The Fastest Man Alive has to eventually succumb to them.

While much has been made of Batman's 75th anniversary, we're now leaving behind the year of the bat and entering the era of the lightning. And with a hot new television show burning up the airwaves, it's never been a better time for fans of The Flash. So we sat down for a little conversation with current FLASH scribes, Robert Venditti and Van Jensen to get some insight into being at the helm of the Scarlet Speedster at this pivotal point in his history.

How fun is it -- or how scary is it -- to be at the helm of THE FLASH at what has to be his most visible point in 75 years?


Atlantic City Boardwalk Con Puts Focus Back on Comics, Cosplay

ACBC Atlantic City Boardwalk Con Mike DlAlessio cosplay

For all the spectacle of a San Diego Comic-Con or a Wizard World, there' something that's been slowly slipping away from the concept of the comic book convention: the comic book. Oh, it's still there, but now it's become a mecca for video game developers to show off their latest beta releases and Hollywood movie studios to generate buzz for their next year's action movies.

Mike D'Alessio is no stranger to comic conventions. He may not be known to the fans, but to the industries who attend these conventions, he and his Promoguys Marketing Group are major -- nay, invaluable -- players. Now D'Alessio is bringing all his experience and klout to bear as he brings the first annual Atlantic City Boardwalk Con to New Jersey -- but this isn't just another comic book convention, as you'll see as we talk with Mike about what's going to make this convention bigger and better.


Shannon Maer Brings Fantasies to Life Through Art

Shannon Maer Big Dog Ink Oz Wicked West Comic Book

To say that the Internet has revolutionized society is a saying so commonly obvious that even the television gecko and camel sneer at me for saying it. But for fans of comics and fantasy, it truly is a whole new world -- or rather a doorway to whole new worlds -- as it allows new artists to have their material seen by millions of people at once. I've seen my share of struggling artists showing off their talents (and, sometimes, lack thereof), but I was particularly taken with the work I started to see from a name I hadn't encountered.


St. Louis Represented in Masterchef Junior

MASTERCHEF: Judges Bastianich, Ramsay and Elliot with the Contestants in the “Junior Edition: The Class of 2015” Season Premiere episode of MASTERCHEF airing Tuesday, Jan. 6 (8:00-9:00PM ET/PT) on FOX. CR: Greg Gayne / FOX. © FOX Broadcasting Co.

If you're looking for someone with the longsuffering patience needed to deal with a room full of children, Gordon Ramsay probably isn't going to be on your list. But that unexpected mix is part of what makes MASTERCHEF JUNIOR such a fun watch for viewers.

Representing my home town of Saint Louis, Missouri, is Ayla, an eleven year old whose already got a signature dish in her culinary repertoire: Corn and Pumpkin Soup. "I learned from my mom's cooking school," says Ayla. "It ws the first recipe that I had to learn and master."

But there's a distinct difference between what she does best and what she likes most. "[Pumpkin and Corn Soup] is definitely the think I make the best," says Ayla. "But my favorite thing to cook is Chocolate Souffle."


Joshua Mills and Christmas Miracles

Joshua Mills, Christmas Miracle, now available

Joshua Mills has been in the recording business for fifteen years now, but only this year released his first Christmas album. Focused on a theme of miracles -- and the desire to bring miracles back to Christmas -- affected not only the album title, CHRISTMAS MIRACLE, but several of the tracks, which are a blend of original songs and traditional standards.

With Christmas fast approaching, we spoke with Mills about his album as well as the unique production methods involved in making it happen.

How daunting is it to set out to do brand new music for a seasonal niche that's packed with some pretty long-standing standards?


The Bare Necessities: Mark L Miller and Zenescope's Jungle Book

Mark L Miller and Mowglii

Zenescope has carved out a niche in the comics industry through their unique and sexy adaptations of fairy tales. In their Grimm Fairy Tales universe, they've established realms for adaptations of Wonderland, the titular Brothers Grimm characters, Neverland, and others.

Standing apart from these intersecting worlds of fantasy is Zenescope's THE JUNGLE BOOK, now entering it's third miniseries with FALL OF THE WILD, In anticipation of the advent of this new chapter in the adventures of Mowglii on the island jungle of Kipling, we corralled series writer Mark L. Miller for a little Q&A about some of the mysteries of Mowglii.

THE JUNGLE BOOK: FALL OF THE WILD is advertised as the third book of the trilogy. Was it planned to be a trilogy from the beginning, or is it something that just evolved that way after it had begun?


Responding to the Whispers: Lisa Haisha

Lisa Haisha

Lisa Haisha (who contributed our Top Ten Romantic Comedies list) makes her living in Hollywood as a life coach and spiritual teacher. But she's also one who puts her teachings into actions, through her charitable foundation, Whispers From Children's Hearts. While compiling the Top 10 RomCom list, we asked her more in-depth about her foundation, and what motivated her to take action on behalf of abused and neglected children around the world.

Whispers From Children's Hearts was inspired out of a trip you took with your husband, Lee Aronsohn, to speak with the founder of a safehouse in Cambodia for abandoned and abused children. Was there a defining moment during that interview that solidified your need to do something?


Legends of the Film Maker: Brett Culp and the New Batman Phenomenon

Brett Culp with Kye Sapp

Recently, I had the privilege of reviewing one of the most impacting documentaries I've seen in years. You may be surprised to learn that it was about Batman. You also may already be dismissing the film, because of that. That would be your great mistake -- because the film is about so much more than a superhero. It's about identity, and the power that stories have on people -- and the power those people in turn gain over their environment and their lives because of a story.

We spoke with the film's director, Brett Culp, about what drove him toward this project, and some of the many benefits that are still coming out of the film.

Everyone in LEGENDS OF THE KNIGHT has a Batman story to tell, but there was one that was missing, and I'd like to get that one. What's your Batman story?


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