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Into the Void – Issue #1

If you’re all wondering where I’ve been, here’s your answer.

Into the Void Issue 1. By Joe Benkis and Kim Mehsling

Into the Void Issue 1. By Joe Benkis and Jim Mehsling

The first issue of the all-ages action/adventure comics “Into the Void” is now finished. Jim and I are working diligently on issue #2, but we want to get the first issue into the hands of comics fans everywhere.

By all-ages, I don’t mean “boring” or “just for kids”. I do remember a day, though, when comics didn’t have to be “dark” and stuffed with adult-themed material to be fun. It’s very much in the spirit of Doctor Who, Star Wars (the original series, please), and even a bit of “Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew”.

Jim’s prepping the files to go to the print house right now, I’ll be back soon with a a sneak peek for you of the first few pages: In the meantime,here are some of the character profiles.

Captain Speedball: Fearless leader and generally nice fella.

Toad: Faithful sidekick, and loving (almost) every minute of it.

Crash and Dash: Engineering and video-game zen-masters.

MDK 3030: Ship’s security officer (and cuddle-bunny)

I hope you’ll all have as much fun reading the comic as we did creating it. So, how do you get your hands on a copy? I’m glad I asked…

First off, check out our Kickstarter. Jim’s got a lot of great prize levels (you know you want him to do a sketch of Rocket Raccoon for you). T-shirt designs are on the way. But the coolest thing, to me, is that Jim’s going to do variant sketch covers, but those are limited to 25 backers. For those people, Jim will hand-draw one of the ITV characters on the cover of your comic for you.

Here’s the URL for you:

Please spread the word. Also, you can like the comic on Facebook. I’ll try not to clutter this blog with ITV updates, so you’ll definitely want to follow our progress over there:

Thank you all for your patience as we get this going. I promise I’ll be back to the usual nonsense – along with my non-attendee reactions to San Diego Comic Con – soon.




SDCC Photos Round 1: The Doctors

As referenced in an earlier post, every Comic Con experience becomes its own thing. Comic Con isn’t something you do. Comic Con is something that happens to you. You set a course, pick a few guiding principles, and go along for the ride.

2013 is the first Comic Con I’ve attended since I started watching Doctor Who. I was always aware of the presence of the Doctor at the Con, but heading into this Con, I was determined to connect with some Who fans and get photos of the costumes.


All the Doctors. Get ready to take a step to the left, Mr. Smith.

A few notes to begin. I‘ve watched only the new Doctor Who. Of that, I’ve seen only the first two seasons. I am madly in love with David Tennant in the role of the Tenth Doctor. Even though I can’t imagine why any person would like anyone else in the role, I am determined to give Matt Smith fans the benefit of the doubt. After all, if there’s anything I’ve learned from watching Doctor Who, it’s that everyone should chase their passions with their whole heart and soul, no matter how daft they seem.

Me and him. Right here. I love the Tenth Doctor.

Me and him. Right here. I love the Tenth Doctor.

That’s actually the one thing that I enjoyed most at SDCC in my search for other Who fans this year. Whovians (as I discovered we are called) have an unbeatable zest for life. We are the Wolverines of zeal. There’s a relentless, optimistic view that informs the television series, and that infects the lives of the Whovians I met. I’m not saying every single Who fan is this way, but the ones passionate enough to dress up and head to Comic Con sure are.


Having said all of that, I am not ready to move on to another Doctor. I will punch you in the face, Eleventh Doctor, if you don’t live up to Ten.

I heard no arguing about which Doctor was the best. No one seemed to care who knew the most about Doctor Who trivia. New Who fans were always welcomed with open arms.

Even though some of my best friends are MSTies, I still hear a Joel vs. Mike debate on occasion at Comic Con. That never happened with the Whovians, even though there are literally 5.5 more incarnations to argue about.

Instead of arguing, there was a relentless drum banging of super-passion for their own favorite Doctor. There wasn’t a negative word spoken about any of the other Doctors, companions, or anything else. Sure, people grumbled about certain episodes being stronger or weaker, but overall if you had your favorite Doctor, people were content to listen to you rave about him until it was their turn to spread some love for their own favorite.

So to all of you who had to listen to me rave about my man-crush on David Tennant, go ahead and comment with your own favorite below.

Now, a couple of notes on the costumes.

When I downloaded my photos, I was not surprised to find only photos of the Fourth, Tenth, and Eleventh Doctors. First off, I haven’t seen the classic series, so it’s entirely possible that there were Doctor Who cosplayers that I missed because I didn’t even recognize the outfits. I did take pictures of a couple of people that I thought might be classic Doctors, but people later told me I was wrong. It was easy for me to spot Nine, Ten, and Eleven, since I’ve seen them the most. And, Four’s scarf is instantly recognizable.

Film Title: Dr Who.

If you don’t know this scarf, there’s something wrong with you… even the CCG knows the scarf.

Also, I was not surprised that I didn’t spot a Nine. The dress doesn’t really seem distinctive, and there isn’t as much geek love for Eccleston as for the other new Doctors.  I would guess that there were no Nine costumes in the convention, but I would be glad if someone could point me to a photo that disproves my hunch.

That said, there were a lot of Doctors at the Con. It’s a great costume and is easy to pull off. Talking to the people, they also love the fact that it’s not bulky, awkward, or hot. It’s easy to walk the floor, look, shop, and attend panels in the suit. Plus, everyone immediately knows you are ready to have a conversation about Doctor Who as you’re standing in line for the next panel. I had even thought about going as the Tenth Doctor this year, and I’ve never done a costume for Comic Con.

That’s the good news for Doctor Who cosplay. The bad news is that there are so many Doctors, it’s hard to pull off something unique or different from the others. Some people managed a distinct look by getting a different prop from a specific episode and/or being a girl. But, it’s tough.

The really bad news, though, is that I got some great advice on where to get a Ten costume for next year. (Sorry, I should have said that the “really bad news” was specific to my wife).

So, on to the pictures. Go the the SDCC Photos page. There’s commentary on all the photos. Be on the lookout for a poll on the Doctors. Just be aware that Gerry and Marty are the best Doctors of all time for reasons you will learn when I post my daily recaps.

As always, questions/comments are not just welcome, but are appreciated.

SDCC 2013: The Con is ending, but the updates are just starting

Let’s get this out of the way. To anyone who has never attended San Diego Comic Con, no one calls it “San Diego Comic Con”. For people who attend, it’s just “Comic Con”. The first, biggest, and the best festival for pop culture and visual arts in the universe, it will always be simply Comic Con.

2013 SDCC 157

2013 marks my fifth Comic Con, and each one is a unique experience. It’s not just that the panels, vendors, and booths are different year-to-year. That’s part of it. But, as the long weekend plays out, each Con develops its own storyline. Thinking of it like a movie, each year isn’t a remake or a sequel, it’s a reimagining of the Con. And, it’s so big that everyone’s story is one-of-a-kind. There are people who could read my upcoming accounts and think to themselves, “it’s like this guy was at a totally different convention”. And that’s true – each of us who attended does have our own, personal Con.

And to any of you who attended, please reply with links or comments on your own Con experience. I’ll be searching out other stories of SDCC to capture the mosaic that is 2013.

Going into the Wednesday, I had bold and optimistic plans of live blogging parts of the Con. A variety of factors prevented me from doing so. First off, let’s be honest, for a Casual Comics Guy who’s just getting back into this, that scheme was a bit #lofty. I still don’t have a 4G phone and for much of the convention days, I couldn’t even send or receive text messages because of bad reception in the halls and an overcrowded digital network. Wifi reception was spotty to say the least, and phone batteries ran down quickly when searching for active hotspots.

With that said, it’s time to move on to the fun stuff. Over the next several days, you’re going to start seeing posts coming fast and furious about SDCC 2013. Of course for me, at this time, fast and furious might mean two updates a day. Please subscribe so that you’ll get notified when updates are posted. That way, I can stop bugging everyone on Facebook when I post something. My wife will thank you.

As I said, each year’s Con has a different story. My SDCC story this year is one of unexpected delights. Over the next week, you’ll hear the story. Along the course of the weekend, I came up with the maxim “You don’t always get the Con you want, but you usually get the Con you deserve”.

One thing… as I’m writing this right now, I’m on a plane to Dallas, hoping to get back to Omaha at a reasonable hour. I missed my flight this morning. So, that means for now even I don’t know how this Con story is going to end. Based on the long weekend, though, I’m sure I’m going to get the Con I deserve. For better or worse. You and I will find out together very soon.

You will start seeing a day-by-day recap. There will also be a ton of fun photos; I promise. I’ve got over 150 on my camera right now. I’m sure not all of them are in focus and some are duplicates, but there are plenty to share. Plus, I’ll be linking to pictures of things that I saw that others took pictures of as they put them up on their sites.

Regarding the daily recaps, I’ll tell you the same thing I told my wife when we got engaged. I can’t promise you it will always be fun, but I can promise you it will be an adventure.

I’ll leave you with some common themes and topics I’ll be discussing in both the daily recaps, as well as standalone posts:

The people – Between the attendees, the vendors, the volunteers, and the staff, Comic Con genuinely has the happiest, most accepting, friendliest, and most helpful human beings in the world. If you’re reading this because we met at Comic Con, THANK YOU! Ain’t no people like Comic Con people.

The joy – Because of the people, but somehow also separate from the people is this overwhelming joy. Even when you run into a rude person or a bad situation, it’s not possible to stay mad.

The surprises – There were a lot of panels and places I just “ended up”. Things I didn’t set out to see or do that really caught me off-guard. There are things I knew that I would love that totally exceeded my expectations (Spoiler Alert: It was the World’s End panel. #lofty). There were also unexpected bundles of happiness dropped in my lap from nowhere. I have so many new web sites, authors, and comics to follow-up on that it will take me straight into 2014.

I’m going to end with a couple of shout-outs and then say a little prayer that I make it home to Omaha at a reasonable hour.

A few people that I knew were going to be tremendous people to hang with at this Con: Anthony Fankhauser, the semi-reliable roommate. Justin and Michelle (check out Justin’s blog here) lifelong Con buddies. The Con would not have been the same without the magic, guys.

A few people that I had never met before this Con, but that I am positive I will see again: Maria, my morning line BFF and coffee pal. If you’re reading this, Maria, I’ll never forget the sugar again. Marty and Jeremy the coolest Doctors at the Con, and the ones who traveled the farthest (Australia and Ireland, respectively. Mary, my “mom at the Con”. You are tremendous people. Thanks for the great times.

The artists. So many talented people: Tess Fowler, Chris Guttierez, Mike Sanchez, Sara Richard, Russel Walks. You’ll be seeing links to their art in the coming days. Visit their pages. If you see something you like, buy it. Some of them have active Kickstarters, so I’ll be listing them first. These people are ultra-talented and we need to support them with both our words and our dollars so that they can keep creating.

Thanks for reading and stick with me. I can’t promise it’ll always be fun, but it will be an adventure.


*drops the mic* BOOM!


A Handcrafted SDCC Update


These two awesome, crafty girls made their own plush versions of the Fourth and Tenth Doctors.

SDCCC Line Update


The line for Balroom 20 is already forming. This group is in line for the X-Files… which starts at 3:00 tomorrow. Good for you, superfans!