Friday, April 10, 2015

Roger McKenzie: The Devil He Knows

Interview by Dan Johnson

Charlton Neo’s Roger McKenzie Talks About Netflix’s Daredevil

The big event for comic book fans this weekend is the premiere of Netflix’s Daredevil. The Man Without Fear, whose show is the first step towards The Defenders mini-series on Netflix, has had a number of talented writers and artists weaving his tales for over fifty years now. A few of them gathered recently in Hollywood to celebrate the premiere of the series, including our very own Roger McKenzie. Between his writing for comics and hobnobbing with the Hollywood Elite, Roger sat down for a quick interview to discuss his take on Daredevil and also give us the inside scoop on his upcoming projects for Charlton Neo Comics.

Dan Johnson: First off, congratulations on getting the invite to the Hollywood premiere for Daredevil. What did you think when you got that invitation?

Roger McKenzie: “Who? Me?” David Bogart, Senior Vice President of Operations & Procurement, Publishing, Marvel Entertainment, LLC called me a week or so before the premiere with a most kind invite! So he really got the ball rolling. So he’s to blame. I’d be planning to watch Daredevil here at home, never imagining I’d be seeing him on the Big Screen in Hollywood!

Johnson: You mentioned your wife, Tami, couldn’t attend the event, so you went with Charlton Neo Publisher Mort Todd. From there you arranged a meeting of the West Coast Charlton Neo Crew. Who all did you see while in California?

McKenzie: Mort and I had a great dinner with Arrowhead and ACP Publisher, William Mull (who graciously picked me and Mort up from LAX!). There was also my longtime friend, Kevin VanHook and man-about-town Daerick Gross, Sr., the amazing artist on our brand new Knightingales comic!

Johnson: Excellent! I want to ask you about Knightingales later. First, tell us about the trip to Hollywood and premiere. They gave you the full red carpet treatment, right?

McKenzie: The trip was fine and fortunately I DIDN’T trip as I shambled my way along the red carpet looking for spare change…

Johnson: And you were able to meet Charlie Cox, the actor playing Daredevil. What was your impression of him on the screen and in person? Does he live up to the persona of the Man Without Fear?

McKenzie: On screen, Charlie captured the essence of Matt Murdock/Daredevil perfectly. Off screen he’s charming, gracious, and even mugged for a few photos with the likes of me! Hopefully that won’t affect his career too negatively…

Johnson: Who else did you meet from the show at this event?

McKenzie: Besides Charlie, I met Skylar Gaertner who portrayed young Matt Murdock, and, from Marvel, Joe Quesada and Jeff Loeb!

Johnson: I know you can’t give anything away, but what was your impression of the episodes you saw? Is this series going to be true to the comics?

McKenzie: We got to see the first two episodes. They were both very true to the spirit of the comics. I think fans of Daredevil will be very happy with the direction the series is heading as well as the characterization. There’s enough of a “back story” to establish the characters and keep it interesting without bogging down the storyline, and just the right amount of Daredevil action. The stories are character-driven. I like that. A lot.

Johnson: I know movies and television shows always take bits and pieces from the various incarnations of superheroes. Was there anything on the screen that you saw that you could point to and say, “That’s mine. That line is one I wrote or that action is what I would have that character make.”?

McKenzie: No specific lines of dialogue particularly jumped out at me as mine from the comic book scripts. Lots of actions tho, that I would (and did) have the characters make.

Johnson: In spite of the trip to the West Coast, you still kept busy with your work for Charlton Neo. You have some big projects coming up. First off, there is the reboot of Yellowjacket. Tell us about that.

McKenzie: The original Charlton Comics first comic book was Yellowjacket, an anthology of superhero and horror stories launched September 1944. Artist Rodney Bennett and I have dusted off the old character, modernized him some while at the same time trying to very much keep the “Old School” magic that made comic books fun. If you want dark, grim, violent and depressing comic book superheroes, then don’t waste your time on Yellowjacket. If, on the other hand, you’d like your heroes to be…well…heroes again, then you just might like the new Yellowjacket! Rodney and I are working on the first adventure now. And if will appear either in the pages of The Charlton Arrow or as a weekly PIX-C Sunday Funnies webcomic!

Johnson: And then there is Knightingales, which you mentioned. Tell us about that.

McKenzie: Here’s our tagline: “First do no harm. Then try to survive. Nurses Cynthia Doyle and Betsy Crane--Knightingales in a world gone horribly wrong...” Artist Daerick Gross, Sr. and I will be debuting Knightingales as a weekly PIX-C Sunday strip beginning 4/12/15!

Johnson: Sounds great! So that is something else Arrowheads can look forward to this weekend. And finally, when do you think you’ll be invited to your first Hollywood premiere for a Charlton Neo adaptation?

McKenzie: Any minute now!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Jay and Eddie’s March 28, 2015 Comic Book Show

By Dan Johnson

The 2015 Con Season officially kicked off for me on Saturday, March 28. On that day, I attended Jay and Eddie’s Comic Book Show at the Winston-Salem Hotel and Spa in Winston-Salem, NC. The show was a one-day event that ran from 10:00 AM until 4:00 PM. In spite of some initial confusion in locating the hotel, the day was a blast.


Joining me at the con were two of my Charlton Neo collaborator, Rodney Bennett (who is working with me on the reboots of Gunmaster and Rocky Jones) and Will Boyer (who is working with me on Hip Hop for Pix-C). The Charlton Neo Crew was given the best seat in the house, next to actress Amber Dawn Fox, who recently played Officer Bello on season five of The Walking Dead. Being a fan of the show, but not having seen this past season, I did my best to avoid spoilers. Amber seems like a very nice young lady (as you can tell from the photos I have included, she has great taste in reading material). I hope her character made it out of this season alive (although I know how this show rolls and anyone could become lunch on the run for a zombie at any moment).

The seats we had were also pretty sweet as we were right across from a dealer who had some nice $2.00 Silver Age and Bronze Age books for sale. I was able to pick up a few comics I had been looking for thanks to this gent, including two Silver Age Charlton comics, Fightin’ Air Force #29 and Fightin’ Marines #54.


I really wanted to explore the show more, but getting across the aisle was the best I could do for the most part since we had a pretty steady stream of patrons come by our tables in the six hours we were at the show. In that time, I talked to anyone and everyone that came by about Charlton Neo, as well as The Flash television series, Avengers: Age of Ultron and the comic books I had found earlier at the show. We even had a couple of writers who expressed an interest in working with Charlton Neo and I discussed what we were looking for at this time. These folks must have liked what they heard because I got submissions from both of them just a few days after the show.

I also had some friends stop by the table to chat for a while, including my friend Kevin C. Hunt, who you can see dressed up as Doctor Doom. Indeed, Kevin snapped a number of the photos that accompany this review and I’m grateful he was able to help us capture some moments from this show.

Rodney took some commissions and knocked them out of the park (as you can see from the photos). The one of War Machine was for Robert Muhammad, a gentleman that Rodney and I have both met at various local cons over the past few years. Robert is also one of our newest members at the Charlton Neo Comics Facebook Page.

After the show wrapped up, Rodney, Will and I headed over to a nearby Pizza Hut where we discussed plans for our various Charlton Neo projects. Rodney and I have a great story arc mapped out for Gunmaster and we discussed what we wanted to do with this character and concept. Also, Will and I plotted out Hip Hop’s destiny, including a rival we will be introducing into the strip and a potential love interest. So, all in all, the day was fun and productive. And really, you can’t ask for anything better of a comic book show than that, can you?
© Dan Johnson