A Look Back At The Strangers #1

When it comes to the Ultraverse, there is often something enjoyable to read. I enjoy reading about superhero teams, specifically X-Men from Marvel Comics and Justice League from DC Comics to name a few. I also enjoyed Freex and UltraForce from the Ultraverse. What I like about superhero teams is that I get to discover varied characters (the good, the evil and the ones in between), witness how they develop and act when something big or problematic happens.

With The Strangers #1, published by Malibu Comics in 1993 as one of the launch books of the Ultraverse, I experienced another bout of enjoyment and engagement but in a rather unique way.

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Cover of The Strangers #1 with art by Rick Hoberg.

Written by Steven Englehart with illustration done by Rick Hoberg (whose work was inked by Tom Burgard), the story begins with a shot of life going on in San Francisco. Several characters riding a jammed cable car get distracted when a man and a pretty lady (both seated) do the “wild thang”.

Because of the disturbance, three guys grab the arrogant guy (separating him from the lady) threw him out of the cable car. Immediately after that, the cable car suddenly gets hit by a bolt of energy (perceived as lightning) from the clear sky causing the vehicle to start slipping downwards until it hits a car and its passenger.

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Bob and Hugh start to notice something strange.

Then a series of things begin to happen. Candy (the lady earlier) acted strangely as the arrogant guy called her attention. Art students Bob and Hugh witnessed the sudden formation of a bag of apples. The kid Leon discovers his new ability to run fast and make sudden turns. Dave witnesses a momentary transformation of himself. Fashion designer Elena gets inspired to create something heroic.

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Leon’s ultra speed realized while Candy walks pretty.

You must be wondering – how is the quality of this old comic book?

In terms of storytelling and characterization, this is pretty good work done by Steve Englehart. The way I see it, this is a story about strangers (truly living up to the title) who got changed as a result of a single incident that affected them. Each of the members of The Strangers were nicely and efficiently introduced. A creative approach was used to present their respective abilities which made sense as the events unfolded. By the end of the comic book, I really felt very engaged and excited to anticipate the next issue.

When it comes to dialogue, I like this exchange between Bob and Hugh.

“You know what I think?”

“No, what do you think?”

“I think it must have something to do with the lightning that hit us!”

“Nonsense! Lightning does not work like that!”

“You got a better idea?”

As for the visuals, Rick Hoberg’s art (inked by Burgard) combined with the color design by Paul Mounts is still very wonderful to look at. The facial expressions are convincing, the action has impact, the visualization of the super powers is pretty creative and there are lots of small details on the backgrounds (people, city environment, etc.) that are worth examining.

Overall, The Strangers #1 is a fun and engaging old comic book to read. Never mind the financial value it carries right now. Focus more on its story and art, as well as the other details that reflect the talents of its creators. More importantly, the experiences of discovering something fresh and getting to know brand new characters really defined this comic book.

The Strangers #1 is highly recommended.


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

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Wonder Woman at Toycon 2019

This past weekend I managed to attend, for the fourth straight year, the annual Toycon at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City. Attending it was more crucial not only for me but for many other geeks here in the Philippines since the other pop culture convention – AsiaPOP Comicon Manila – got postponed to next year.

One of the first things I did after spending some time in the long line was finding the Wonder Woman exhibit which was at one of the function halls on the 2nd level of the convention center.

Here are some pictures I took for your viewing pleasure.

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The Wonder Woman Collectors PH exhibit.
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A close look. Even Artemis is there.
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A closer look!
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This one resembles Gal Gadot somewhat.
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This one has a dolly look.
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A nice recreation of the cinematic Diana.
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Wonder Woman on the horse looks impressive.
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Someone looks at the Wonder Woman exhibit.

As I mentioned before, Wonder Woman is my favorite superhero of all time and she is truly the queen of all superheroes.

As I explored the main exhibition floor on the ground level of the convention center, I found a few more Wonder Woman figures there. Check out these pictures I took.

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Cinematic Justice League Wonder Woman. 
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Wonder Woman in fighting pose.
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Wonder Woman mixed with the DC Comics villains.

If there were any shortcomings for a Wonder Woman fan like me at Toycon 2019, it’s the lack of Wonder Woman comic books. Unlike the previous editions of the Toycon, the convention this year had noticeable lesser comic book sellers on the floor. I was unable to find a single Wonder Woman comic book.

Before I close this piece, I encourage you to read why I’m looking forward to Wonder Woman 1984 (opening June 2020) and why I find the No Man’s Land scene iconic.

On Facebook, I encourage dedicated Wonder Woman fans to check out the Wonder Woman Collectors PH group, the Wonder Woman movie page, and the Movie Fans Worldwide group.


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker Revealed!

Let me say one thing clearly – Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi is a train wreck and it made me very disappointed (I saw it twice in different cinemas), even doubtful about the future of the Star Wars movie franchise in the current post-George Lucas era.   Really, I disliked the work of director Rian Johnson.

Hours ago, the official teaser trailer of Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker was revealed and already it is generating tremendous buzz online not only among fans but also among moviegoers in general. The reception is overall positive and already moviegoers have something to watch out for this December. Also it is nice that director J.J. Abrams, who directed Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, is back and this time he wrote the screenplay with Chris Terrio (Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice).

For your enjoyment, posted below is the official teaser trailer. Watch it now!

What can I say? The teaser trailer was nicely done which is no surprise at all. Even the Rian Johnson train wreck The Last Jedi had pretty and engaging trailers. Going back to The Rise of Skywalker teaser trailer, what made me smile was the return of Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian and he was co-piloting the Millennium Falcon with Chewbacca! It has been almost thirty-six years since Williams last appeared as Lando on the big screen!

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Welcome back, Lando Calrissian! Welcome to the 21st century, the age of social media!

What really intrigued was the end of the teaser trailer with the unexpected appearance of a large piece of a major structure from long ago. Equally intriguing was that recognizable evil laugh as the screen went dark. Now it is up to J.J. Abrams and his creative team to explain on the big screen those two elements.

Another intriguing thing is the subtitle involving the surname Skywalker. Who (or what) exactly is the Skywalker on the rise? We all know what happened to Luke Skywalker in the dreaded The Last Jedi and given Mark Hamill’s voice-over in the teaser trailer, it is only logical to expect that his character will return in ghost form Like Obi-Wan and Yoda. Personally I don’t think Luke will be the one on the rise.

General Leia (played by the late Carrie Fisher) is Luke’s sister but as the movies of the past showed, she never identified herself as a Skywalker. The Last Jedi did show her using the Force (is Rian Johnson a Mary Poppins fan?) and MAYBE she might present herself as the new Skywalker being the only living offspring of Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker and use the Force more.

But then maybe the Skywalker-on-the-rise may not necessarily be a person related through family bloodline.

I was thinking that it is possible that the name Skywalker will go beyond family and be used to establish a brand new Jedi movement. A movement in which Force users, starting with Rey (Daisy Ridley), will have their own definition of the Jedi teachings as well as a new vision about using the Force. Considering the very limited learning of the Force and the Jedi she had with Luke plus the fact that she took ancient Jedi books with her in The Last Jedi, it is possible for Rey to establish her own philosophies of the Jedi. This would put her in similar ground with Luke Skywalker (after the events of Return of the Jedi).

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The Rise of Skywalker will open in cinemas worldwide this December. Hopefully it will turn out to be a great film and help Star Wars fans forget about the train wreck called The Last Jedi.

From this point on, we can only wait until the movie opens in cinemas globally this December. At the very least, I can say that I’m feeling hopeful that The Rise of Skywalker will be fun and, more importantly, set the direction of Star Wars properly and recover from the disaster of The Last Jedi.

There is still a new hope for Star Wars fans!


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

 

 

 

Carlo Carrasco’s Movie Review: Shazam!

I’ll just say it out loud – I had a lot of fun watching Shazam! at the local cinema today. I’m not even a fan of the character Shazam/Captain Marvel (as he was called prior to Marvel’s legal takeover of the name) and still I enjoyed watching the movie. I rarely watch comedies in the cinema but I still had a lot of fun with Shazam!

Whatever challenges the filmmakers led by director David F. Sandberg faced, they succeeded in making their movie fun, action-packed and more importantly telling a story with a lot of heart with the main characters. It also proved crucial that Warner Bros. marketing team did not spoil the pleasant surprise the movie had all along and that surprise alone is already worth the price of admission.

Shazam! introduces moviegoers to Billy Batson who has moved away from multiple homes as he searches for his mother whom he got separated from as a child. At the new family he moved into, he meets Freddy Freeman who lives with a disability. Things change when Billy meets an aging wizard named Shazam and gains his power. By simply saying the wizard’s name, lightning strikes Billy to become the muscular, adult caped superhero. Along the way an obsessed Dr. Sivana rises with a lust for power which only means trouble for the Billy Batson/Shazam and his friends.

Why is storytelling a success in this movie? Answer – it was done with a lot of heart and director Sandberg succeeded in getting very strong performances from the cast. You will really sympathize with Asher Angel as Billy Batson who lives with a missing link in his personal life and often finds himself lonely. This is a movie about a teenager who does not aspire to become a superhero at all but rather find his mother anyway he could. The superhero aspect of the film is an extension (but a very significant one) of that core concept.

In terms of storytelling tone, Shazam! looks so much like a comedy based on the way it was marketed but rest assured the movie is not a dominant comedy at all. In fact it has a lot of dramatic scenes and even some horror elements spread around. Darkness? There is some of that by means of horror elements. Grit? Very little of it too. Cynicism? Non-existent. Clearly the DC Cinematic Universe under the leadership of Warner Bros. executive Walter Hamada continues to move away from the darkness, the grit and cynicism of Zack Snyder’s influence and for me that is a good thing.

In terms of performances, this film has a lot of good acts. While Asher Angel excelled as Billy Batson, Zachary Levi truly brought Shazam/Captain Marvel to life on the big screen. Not only does he really look like the superhero (as if he was ripped straight from the comic books), Levi was successful in playing his character with the act and mindset of a teenage boy. Jack Dylan Grazer was pretty engaging as Freddy Freeman (who is the in-movie geek and superhero culture researcher) and so was Mark Strong as Dr. Sivana. The other cast members like Grace Fulton, Ian Chen and Faithe Herman were good players as well. To sum it up, the quality of performances from the cast is varied and at the same time of good quality and nice artistry. From drama to humor, these cast members really pulled it off.

Shazam! was made to tell a compelling story that can be taken seriously while at the same time it delivered the humor and spectacle to satisfy moviegoers who want their superhero cinema experience to be enjoyable. When it comes to weaknesses, I say that the first twenty minutes was kinda slow. While the film is indeed very wholesome, the horrific imagery of the monsters can scare little kids and compel their parents to cover their eyes.

As a superhero comedy, it definitely is a more fun to watch than any of the Deadpool movies. As a superhero spectacle, Shazam! is quite comparable not only with DC Cinematic Universe movies but also with other humor-laced superhero movies from Marvel Studios. As a DC Cinematic Universe movie, Shazam! is 3rd best to Wonder Woman.

Given its high amount of fun, engaging storytelling, good comedy and solid performances, Shazam! is highly recommended! I urge you to watch it as soon as you can and for the best visual experience, I recommended watching it on an IMAX screen if you can afford it. Shazam! is a lot of fun and you will love it! Very clearly the DC Cinematic Universe continues to improve and its future under Warner Bros. and Walter Hamada looks very bright!

For your enjoyment, posted below are some videos related to Shazam.


Thank you for reading. If you find this article to be engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco.

 

 

 

 

 

My Coplay Photography (Part 1)

I enjoy taking pictures of people who express their artistry, their concepts and charm through the art of cosplay (costume play) which has grown tremendously popular here in the Philippines over the past several years.

Along the way, pop culture-related events like comic conventions, cosplay gatherings, cosplay parades and other related fan events got organized around the country giving cosplayers even more opportunities to come out in full costume.

Here in the Philippines, I was fortunate to attend such comic conventions like the AsiaPOP Comicon Manila and Toycon which are very similar events showcasing action figures, comic books, movies, TV programs, comic creators and the like. Both AsiaPOP Comicon Manila and Toycon are unsurprisingly popular events that attracted countless cosplayers.

Here are some pics of cosplayers I took in the comic conventions.

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Model and actress Ameera Johara as Wonder Woman during the 2016 AsiaPOP Comicon Manila.
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Also taken at the 2016 AsiaPOP Comicon Manila was this Harley Quinn cosplayer who posed for me.
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This Miles Morales Spider-Man cosplayer surprised me at the 2017 AsiaPOP Comicon Manila when I was searching for old comic books. I took the opportunity to photograph this.
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This picture I took at the 2014 Nexcon in Pasig City.
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This Wonder Woman cosplayer posed for me during the 2018 Toycon.
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Miles Morales Spider-Man and female Deadpool cosplayers posing with some fans during the 2017 AsiaPOP Comicon Manila.

Apart from comic conventions, there were also times when I took cosplayer photos in other instances or activities. Check out my pics below.

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A few years ago, Festival Mall in Alabang, Muntinlupa City had cosplayers like this one standing in front of shoppers trying to get their attention and convince them to drop some money into the rectangular box on the floor.
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Harley Quinn cosplayer posed for me during the day when Comic-Con Asia had its press conference and media presentation at a hotel in Pasay City in early 2018.
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The Cosplay Craze event at SM City BF Paranaque saw these two “clashing”.

This is my first post of cosplay photography that I took and I hope you enjoyed viewing it. I’m still trying find other such pictures among my files and once I get them organized, I’ll post them here.

Also if you are organizing a pop culture event and you need online media and/or photography coverage, please feel free to contact me so that we can discuss business terms privately. Thank you.


Thank you for reading. If you find this article to be engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco.

 

Why I’m Looking Forward To Shazam In Cinemas Even Though I’m No Fan Of The Superhero

Let me start by confirming that although I am a geek and I read lots of comic books – especially superhero stories of Marvel Comics, DC Comics and other publishers – I never was a fan of Shazam (formerly called Captain Marvel before Marvel Comics took the trademark legally) nor was I fond of the Marvel Family (Captain Marvel, Jr., Mary Marvel and others) he was identified with.

But even so, I still will watch in the cinemas Shazam!, the next DC Comics Cinematic Universe movie from Warner Bros. starring Zachary Levi, Asher Angel and Jack Dylan Grazer. It is directed by David F. Sandberg and it will be released worldwide on the first week of April.

For your reference, watch the latest trailer below.

 

Shazam/Captain Marvel has a very long history in superhero comics. While the superhero belongs to DC Comics, he (and the related characters) started in comics published by Fawcett Publications in the early 1940s. He debuted in Whiz Comics #2. Believe it or not, in terms of comic book sales Shazam/Captain Marvel was the most popular superhero of the 1940s and not even Superman could match him. DC Comics sued Fawcett on the grounds of copyright infringement and in part this contributed to the publisher’s decision to cease publishing any comics of Shazam/Captain Marvel by the year 1953. This was only the start of the long road before Shazam and the related characters became part of DC Comics.

When it comes to the DC Cinematic Universe, movie productions are now being done under the careful watch of Walter Hamada and already major improvements have happened such as Aquaman making over $1 billion in ticket sales globally. Shazam! is a film clearly made under Hamada’s leadership and based on the previews, it seems like director David F. Sandberg and his creative team have done a good job and somehow they managed to get good performances from their actors.

As to why I look forward to watching the movie even though I’m no fan of the character, here are my reasons:

1. Seeing Shazam’s literary concept translated into cinematic form – For those who are not familiar with Shazam/Captain Marvel, the superhero’s concept goes like this. There’s a homeless teenager named Billy Batson who was chosen by a very old wizard to continue a fight against evil. Being the chosen one, Billy Batson becomes the muscular, caped superhero Shazam/Captain Marvel by simply saying “Shazam” (which attracts a quick bolt of lightning to him enabling the transformation). In my view, this classic concept deserves a cinematic adaptation. Although the movie trailers showed bits of it, I feel there is more than meets the eye. The transformation from teenager to caped superhero is one thing, his character development is another. This brings me to my next point.

2. Watching the actors bring the characters to life – It seems that the right actors were hired to bring the characters – notably Shazam, Billy Batson and Freddy Freeman – to life. Having read comic books of Shazam/Captain Marvel and watched several episodes of the Shazam cartoon series on TV decades, I still remember how the traits of the characters and from what I’ve seen in the trailers and previews, things are looking good. Based on available information, Zachary Levi reminds me a lot about the caped superhero walking with a human adult body but is living with uncertainty for he really is a teenager (Billy Batson) behind it all. Levi looks good too with humor. Jack Dylan Grazer’s Freddy is a very avid geek which I can related with. Asher Angel as Billy Batson so far looks good in handling the character. Definitely I want to see more of their performances.

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Freddy Freeman and Shazam/Captain Marvel. 

3. I’m interested in superhero comedy from Warner Bros –  Since the release of 2017’s Wonder Woman, the DC Cinematic Universe turned a corner and gradually moved away from the cloud of darkness, grit and cynicism that started with Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel. Wonder Woman was not only a more optimistic superhero movie, it also had a good amount of humor successfully pulled off by the supporting cast. Shazam! meanwhile is clearly a superhero comedy and it could become the most cheerful (if not the most humorous) DC Comics movie yet without being too cheesy or too childish. Director Sandberg and the actors seem to have established a lot of synergy to carefully mix action, fun and humor. I’m hoping that what was shown in the previews is just a taste of more good and fun stuff to come. While I rarely watch comedies, I’m interested in more humor in DC Comics movies. Besides, the adulterated and exagerrated humor I saw in the Deadpool movies is just not entertaining.

4. The state of the DC Cinematic Universe under Hamada’s watch – As it is already confirmed by Warner Bros. that standalone DC Comics superhero movies will be the norm for now, Shazam! is an opportunity to show where the current cinematic universe is right now with regards to connections with other DC superheroes. Already there were references to Batman, Superman and even the Justice League (as seen in the merchandise shot in the latest trailer). I’m not expecting to see much connectivity with the other DC superheroes at all but some signs as to where the cinematic universe is going would be good enough for me. Aquaman had a small reference to the events of the Justice League movie. This is, after all, the cinematic story of Shazam/Captain Marvel. The forcing and rushing of a shared cinematic universe previously done by Zack Snyder is in the past. We must remember that we are now watching the DC Cinematic Universe under the leadership of Walter Hamada.

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Justice League references.

Those are my reasons as to why I will watch Shazam! in cinemas once it opens. I’m no fan of Shazam/Captain Marvel but the superhero deserves his cinematic adaptation and so far the movie looks very promising. I feel it also has the potential to attract lots of fans as well as moviegoers who are not even familiar with the character. We will find out soon enough if Shazam! will be a hit or not.


Thank you for reading. If you find this article to be engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco.

DC Comics: The Art of Jim Lee coming soon

If you love DC Comics as well as Jim Lee’s art, then you should watch out for the upcoming release of DC Comics: The Art of Jim Lee Vol. 1 (hardcover).

Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman as drawn by the great Jim Lee with ink by the great Scott Williams.

The publisher described the product as an over-sized art book showcasing Lee’s artwork from his decades-long career. Apart from DC Comics-related works, the new book will come with his early work with WildStorm Productions (WildCATs, Gen13, Deathblow, etc.)

The book will also feature HUNDREDS of covers plus behind-the-scenes art from the artist’s career.

According to DC Comics, the collection will be released on November 27, 2019 for $39.99 containing over 400 pages of content.

Imagine the collection with Lee’s drawings of Wonder Woman, Superman, Batman, WildCATS, Justice League, Gen13, etc. So much fun stuff to look forward to.

I remember way back in 1991 when I was still in high school reading a copy of X-Men #1 (Volume 2) published by Marvel Comics.

I marveled at how great Jim Lee’s art was back then and I even wished to see DC Comics superheroes like Wonder Woman, Superman and Batman get drawn by him.

Guess what? Jim Lee sold his production company to join DC Comics in the late 1990s and had been with them ever since.

I was fortunate enough to see Lee from a distance during the final day of the 2011 San Diego Comic-Con. Nothing like seeing the great legend in person.


Thank you for reading. If you find this article to be engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco.