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Comic Book Club Celebrates One Year

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The Comic Book Club hosted by Peter LePage, Justin Tyler and Alexander Zalben celebrated its one-year anniversary Tuesday with an all star lineup of guests including: Seth Meyers (Saturday Night Live), Bill Hader (Superbad), Brian Michael Bendis (Powers, Ultimate Spider-Man,), Ed Brubaker (Captain America, Criminal) and Matt Fraction (Casanova, Punisher: War Journal).

Dressed in suits, LePage, Tyler and Zalben operate the show like a late-night talk show at the very intimate People’s Improv Center in New York City’s Chelsea District. They joked and thanked the sold-out audience members for ringing in their one year anniversary, even though it was almost never sold out.

The hosts conducted the show bouncing off the guests, making it a lively and enjoyable discussion of comics with two respected comedians and three fan favorite comic creators.

Bendis, Brubaker and Fraction in New York City for the Marvel Winter Summit meetings, asked that the audience forgive them as they had been in meetings since 8am that morning.

Zalben asked them to feel free to outline everything they had discussed during the meetings, to which Brubaker replied: "Mostly watching Brian and Jeph (Loeb) yell at each other…and everyone is in Alpha Flight from now on."

"It's great for the young guys," said Bendis pointing towards Fraction. "They get to revisit their Marvel bullpen fantasies." Those fantasies being the stories Stan Lee used to tell in inserts of the Bullpen and how it was such an exciting, "House of Ideas."

Zalben asked how the guests all came into comics at a young age. Hader said it was basically from the old racks at the grocery store. Meyer went into how he started reading the collected editions like X-Men Classic, and then moved into the more mature stuff, "Like Watchmen and Sandman."

Fraction told the story of his very first comic, "Which was Batman #200-and-something where he was battling some dude named Crazy Quilt." Bendis said he adapted a Chris Claremont Starjammers story in grade school, to which his teacher was impressed, "and now I adapt Spider-Man."

"My father, he worked on a base," said Brubaker, "and he wanted my brother and I to start reading at a young age and he would go around to his guys on the base and have them give him their unwanted comic books. So my brother and I would fight over a Fantastic Four #4 that had no cover."

Hader and Meyers shared anecdotes from their time on Saturday Night Live and their comic book related skits. Meyers discussed a skit where he was running a comic book shop and Ian McKellen was the guest and how he went from comic book nerd to Gandalf in between sentences. Hader did his impersonations including one of Al Pacino as the Hulk.

They changed topics to go into their segment, "The Rack," where the hosts discuss last week’s comics and brought up Fraction’s Punisher: War Journal #13. "This is the most metal thing I’ve ever written," said Fraction. "That cover should be painted on the side of someone’s van."

Zalben asked him his approach to the character. "Well, he’s a superhero who murders people, kind of a slippery slope of a character," said Fraction. "War Journal is bringing the character into the Marvel Universe…I think Ennis’s take on the Punisher is the best crime book possibly ever."

This statement caused Brubaker to clear his throat loudly, garnering yet another laugh from the audience. They passed into other segments with audience questions where Bendis and Brubaker praised each other’s best work. "I love Powers, and Ultimate Spidey," said Brubaker. "I think my favorite is Scene of the Crime," said Bendis.

Bendis praised Fraction’s Casanova during an audience question for why the series is so awesome. "Because it’s like the first two minutes of a Prince album and you just know that those two minutes are the best two minutes of music you’re going to hear all year."

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