Man of the Moment


Sean William Scott


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"Reading his blog is like watching a beloved 50's Rat Pack Vegas act"--Larry Young
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"Dorian Wright is intelligent and slightly bitter, like a fine coffee."--Kevin Church
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Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Tuesday's Habitual Comics Review 

Nodwick #26: This issue isn't terribly friendly to new readers. Not only is it a direct continuation of last issue's story, but it's another chapter in the book's long meta-plot about a trio of evil adventurers trying to resurrect a long-dead god.
Oh, wait, a lot of you probably aren't familiar with this book. It could generally be described as "gaming humor," as it features characters who first appeared in Dragon magazine. It's about three adventurers: the plucky optimistic cleric Piffany, the mage Artax, and the drunken violent warrior Yeager. Oh, and there's their hench-man, Nodwick, whose job is to haul their loot around while they go around killing monsters. Nodwick, naturally, is the only sensible person in the group, and he's continually having horrible things done to him by monsters, or more usually by Yeager and Artax. It's an excellent, all-ages fantasy series that doesn't require you to have any knowledge of any particular fantasy game, from the same creator as the equally excellent ps238.
Anyway, back to the issue at hand, it's part of an on-going meta-story, but for long time readers it's nice to see that story moving along a bit, finally. For new readers, I'd suggest picking up the first Nodwick trade paper-back, available at all good comic shops.

Supreme Power #13: Again, while it's nice to see some forward plot momentum in the faux-JLA, and while it's nice to not have a naked woman's breasts shoved in my face on every other page, this title is still taking an awful long time to not really go anywhere. I'm still tolerant of it because there's at least the potential for quality, and it's thus far the only Straczynski title I can bring myself to read, but this is still mostly a book that's being bought because Pete likes it.

Ultimate Fantastic Four #13: It's not that I dislike Adam Kubert's work. I just prefer the work of his brother and his father. Ellis appears to be having fun with the techno-babble, so it's hard to dislike the book, but going back to Kubert after having Stuart Immonnen on the book feels like a let-down.

Losers #18: Why do I get the feeling that this flash-back storyline is a far more honest appraisal of US military action in the middle-east than Marvel's upcoming "True Tales of Heroic American G.I.'s Versus the Godless Infidels!"

Dork Tower#29: It's been interesting to watch this title slowly morph from "gaming humor" to a more general humor title, while still retaining enough of the gaming-themed edge to please the old fans. The Matt/Kayleigh/Gilly triangle comes to a head, and as usual it's all Igor's fault.

The Witching #6: Glacial pacing aside, I sometimes get the feeling I'm the only one really enjoying this book. It's really quite damn funny, and I'm strongly leaning towards the interpretation that the book was intended to be a sly humor title with DCU magical trappings all along. Plus, the father of the main character is based on one of my favorite little-known historical figures, Jack Parsons.

Adam Strange #3: Beautiful art, and a rip-roaring sci-fi adventure ripped right out of the old pulps. As I said before, this is the model for what a super-hero comic should be.

Frank Ironwine #1: I'm a mystery fan, and I've been very disappointed in most of what passes for mystery entertainment these days. More often than not mystery films have devolved into a sub-genre of action, much like sci-fi and horror, and television and print mysteries have placed more and more of an emphasis on the cold, rational, forensic side of crime-solving, ignoring the human element of crime altogether. The only American mystery show I really watch with any regularity is Law and Order: Criminal Intent, not only for the stellar performances of the leads, but because it's the one show that doesn't over-look the human element of crime.
And that's what this latest one-shot from Warren Ellis is all about; the human element of crime. In just a few short pages he sketches out a marvelously well-rounded and recognizable lead in Frank Ironwine, and though he bears a superficial resemblance to many of Ellis' other leads, he's very much his own character. In a way, I'm glad that shipping problems have lead to staggered releases for the Apparat books, because I've got a feeling that had they all come out at once the unique qualities to a book like this would have been over-looked.
Carla Speed McNeil's art is also, as expected, excellent. Her figures are expressive, but her work maintains a very loose, fluid and cartoony quality that makes them very accessible.

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Monday, November 29, 2004

X-Men: Ultimate Picture Book 

I've actually been meaning to inflict this upon all of you for some time, and just now found my scans...



The guy playing Beast is kind of hot, but really, these are the saddest looking X-Men I've ever seen.



Given the out-fit she was made to wear, I really hope the lady playing the Scarlet Witch got a new agent ASAP.



At least the guy playing Cyclops looks like he's having a good time hamming it up, but really, that Scarlet Witch costume...no wonder she went insane and killed half of the Avengers, it was the outfit that drove her to it.



Uhm, yeah...




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Sunday, November 28, 2004

Beat To The Punch... 

Gyaah!

Neilalien links to an on-line version of one of Treasure Chest's many anti-communist stories, "This Godless Communism"...

Guess who was planning on talking about some of these stories in the very near future...

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Your Japanese Fan Art Site Of The Day 

invisible-visible

Click on the X-Men and Justice League links for some nice illos...

(Yes, I am spending my Sunday morning looking for yaoi art on-line, why do you ask?)

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Saturday, November 27, 2004

Posters 

Something I meant to mention earlier, and forgot, and I might as well mention it now while I've got retail issues on my mind.

Promotional posters are welcome, because retailers like things that make their jobs easier, and free advertising is one of those things that makes our jobs easier. Most stores have at least some space that can be used for promo posters, and at our store it's a space on the wall above the new comics racks, which would otherwise be dead space because of our shop's high ceilings. Plus, since the posters are meant to advertise comics, it only makes sense to put them in the same area where people are looking for comics.

On Wednesday we received two promo posters. One was all one dark color, with indistinct artwork that didn't show up against the dark background, and lettering that was completely unreadable. The poster gave no indication whether it was for a comic, a graphic novel, a video game or what.

The other poster was bright, colorful, with clear artwork and lettering that could be seen from across the room. Not only did the poster indicate that the title advertised was an ongoing monthly, but it indicated that several graphic novels are currently available, and that you should specifically ask your local retailer for them.

Guess which poster is going to go up above the new comics racks, and which is going to be tossed into the recycling bin.

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Friday, November 26, 2004

Black Friday 

There's a popular myth in America that the Friday after Thanksgiving is the "busiest shopping day of the year." Actually, that dubious distinction generally goes to the Saturday before Christmas. For those who work retail, the day is generally referred to as "black Friday." Management, jokingly, suggests that this is because today is the day the profit ledgers switch over from the red ink to the black ink. Those who actually work on the floor generally peg the name origin of the name on one of the more negative connotations of the word "black"; such as the mood of all those turkey-gorged consumers who feel an obligation to go out and buy presents for the relatives they resent and they already had to spend a day with.

Now, comics retail and holidays are an odd combination. Usually, the last thing on people's minds when a holiday is coming up is buying comics (unless of course the person in question is the type who must have their new comics on the day they are released). And on a major shopping day like today, comics are traditionally an afterthought. People are more concerned with getting to their local big box department stores to buy 32 inch HD TV sets at a whopping 5% off than go buy little Timmy that Marvel Masterworks: Spider-Man set he probably doesn't actually want because Steve Ditko and John Romita draw a "weird" Spider-Man, that doesn't look like the "normal" Spider-Man of Todd McFarlane.

What we probably are going to sell a lot of are gift certificates, usually to people stopping off on their way to or from one of the many malls in our area. This is probably for the best, because comics fans are particularly shirty about getting exactly what they want and nothing else. "This All-Star #18 is only in "fine" condition! I already have two in "fine" condition! I need a "very fine" or better! God, Mom, can't you do anything right?" has been uttered by many a comic fan on a Christmas morning. Best to avoid the whole messy scene and get a comic fan a gift certificate, let them make up their own mind, is what I usually tell relatives.

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Thursday, November 25, 2004

Happy Thanksgiving 



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Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Why Yes, I Am Vain, Why Do You Ask? 

--Pleasant surprise at work today (which was unseasonably hectic); pal Ian came in and was flipping through the latest issue of The Comics Journal when he turns to me and says: "Have you read this yet?"
No, I reply, I haven't. Why?
"Because they quote you in it."

Now, I'd like to say that I was a responsible adult about this and didn't mercilessly give Mike grief about the fact that my name appears in an issue of TCJ and his doesn't. I'd like to, but I can't...

(Of course, my internal monologue was, "Crap, better get some real content up this week.")

--You know how I want Green Lantern: Rebirth to end? I want the final issue to reveal that, nope, Hal Jordan was always a murderous monster and now he's worse than ever before. Just so that fanboys never again attempt to nag DC into changing things just because their pride was wounded by the "tainting" of a fictional character.

--Boy, that Ultimate Fantastic Four sketch cover sure is terrible looking. It's like a bad photo-copy of the pencils.

--I'm going to go out on a limb here and predict that sales on the Marvel Holiday Special 2004 end up resembling sales on Spider-Man: India.

--Every time I see that picture of Alex Ross dresses as the Phantom, as I did in the Battle of the Planets art book we got in today, I can't help but think that the proliferation of that image is doing more damage to the reputation of people who read comics than anything else in history ever. But then, I am a bad, cynical man.

--How can we tell that the pirate trend in comics is dead and buried? Archie is doing a pirate themed gag on the most recent issue of Archie and Friends.

--Every time I see an article in Wizard along the lines of this month's eight page "director's commentary" for Astonishing X-Men I think "Wow, Wizard had an extra eight pages to fill this month..."

--Finally, I'm not quite sure what to make of this call I received today: "I know you normally get your new comics on Wednesday, but are they going to be delayed until tomorrow because of the holiday?"
Uh, no, tomorrow is the holiday sir, so the comics came in today as normal.

I mean, it almost sounds like a reasonable question, except that it implies that events in the future can affect the past, and that's just too much quantum hoo-haa to deal with in comics retail...

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Your Eyebrow Raising Inducing Moment Of The Day 



Wait, it gets better:



That's right...Krypto isn't just a super dog, he's a super trannie!

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Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Three Manga Reviews 

Descendants of Darkness vol. 2 by Yoko Matsushita:
Most of this volume is taken up by a long story, "The Devil's Trill", about Guardians of Death Tsuzuki and Hisoka trying to unravel the mystery of a cursed violin and a demonic contract passed on to a young music student via a corneal transplant. Even for this series, it's a very dark and violent story, though it does make suggestive use of some of the secrets of lead character Tsuzuki's past that have yet to be revealed. Art and story wise, the series is still straddling the line between pretty boys and out and out yaoi (which reminds me, I really should write up reviews of some of those yaoi books I've been reading lately). Still, the dark aspects are well balanced by humor, and if you're a fan of darker manga (or pretty boys) you might want to check this series out.

Ranma 1/2 vol. 28 by Rumiko Takahasi:
Twenty-eight volumes in it's hard to believe that there isn't anyone reading manga who hasn't heard of this series and checked out at least one or two volumes. At the store it's one of our strongest selling manga titles, and with the influx of new, younger manga fans it looks set to be rediscovered (mostly by kids who have already caught up on Inu-Yasha and are looking for more Takahashi material). It's the same formula we've seen in almost every Ranma book, several comical short stories and one longer story, with embarrassing things happening to the varied and eccentric cast of characters. Of note in this volume is the introduction of a promising new character, Akari Unryu, a pig-obsessed pig-breeder who falls improbably in love with hard-luck Ryoga, who of course is cursed to turn into a pig every time he gets splashed with cold water. Frankly, it's a welcome relief, as there are plenty of already existing love triangles in the book and giving Ryoga a new character to play off of opens up the story possibilities for him beyond the "try to break up Ranma and Akane" habit he's been in.

Musashi #9 vol. 1 by Takahashi Miyuki:
The artwork on this series is nice, if a bit unremarkable. Were I feeling uncharitable I would describe it as "Generic Manga Style #3." The stories are also fairly typical action/adventure/espionage yarns, involving a super-competent secret agent rescuing ordinary people from terrorists. That being said, I did enjoy the book. It was fun to see the super competent #9 in a nice variety of action set pieces. The meta-story, involving a secret, underground police force that handles the threats to world piece that are just a little too big for the normal police and military is a nice frame-work, and something I'd actually like to see more of, rather than the short vignettes we get in this book. Actually, that's probably the weakest element of this book: there is no over-arching story to give it structure, just four short stories, each with a different cast and villain, the only common element being the title character showing up to save the day. And, for that matter, was it really necessary to have the character be mistaken for a boy in every single story?

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Monday, November 22, 2004

Comics Inventory Control Observations 

Marvel seems to be forgetting that a "new #1" is not only a good point for new readers to pick up a comic, but for old readers to drop it. Case in point: Captain America #1, which, given that it's Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting, is actually a pretty good comic, despite the fact that's it's, y'know, Captain America, and like Thor and Iron Man, I've never had any interest in the character at all. I mean, maybe if they wrote him as a sly satire of jingoism and unthinking "patriotism" I would be interested, but that's unlikely to ever happen. In any case, this latest release seem to have lost more readers than it's gained, so it's a net loss of readership overall.
In contrast, the new Iron Man has been a very strong seller. The Iron Man fans didn't drop it, the Warren Ellis fans picked it up, and good word-of-mouth has prompted lots of other people to pick it up.
Another point about these relaunches that Marvel seems to be forgetting is that the general public (i.e., just about everyone else in the world) is not aware of the politics and economics of comics publishing, so they see "#1" in big letters on the latest issue of Captain America and they get confused, because as far as they know, Cap comics have been continually published for years and years.

Sales on Gemstone's Disney comics seem to be slowly trending up, and that's sales to kids, not collectors (though the number of adult collectors interested in Disney material would surprise you...it's not necessarily the usual suspects buying them. I was asked about a new edition of Don Rosa's "Life of Scrooge McDuck" series from a customer I would have never expected to be interested in Disney books, given the kinds of thing he usually buys). On the other hand, sales on DC's kids line seem to be dwindling. The most recent two issues of Powerpuff Girls, usually right behind Teen Titans Go as our best-selling kids book were terrible. If this $2.95 price point stays on the books, I'd expect sales to decline even more. $2.25 is seen as just about reasonable for parents, who probably spent less than $1 on a comic the last time they bought them for themselves...$2.95 for a flimsy paper pamphlet is a bit much.

Variant covers: I'm noticing that for the most part people are ignoring them. They're buying just the cover they like. Which means strong sales on one cover, and lots and lots of extra copies of the other cover. Superman/Batman #13 is a great example of this trend. That Supergirl cover, despite what you may think of Turner's talent as an artist, was a nice, iconic image of Supergirl. It's sold very fast, and we probably only have a few left. The other cover, a muddy brown collage shot of Supes, Bats, and D. Seid is just sitting there, stinking up the shelves.

Intimates has sold very well, but I want to see what the second and third issue do before I declare it a success. I'm guessing that the style of the book may grate on people's nerves before too long.

Ocean has so far sold much better than any of those three-issue minis Ellis did for Wildstorm recently. Make of that what you will.

We appear to have not sold a single copy of Spider-Man: India. I'm not terribly surprised.

IDW books are selling like Image and Marvel books. And by that I mean, any copies we do sell, we only sell during the first four days of the book's release.

Reprints: Identity Crisis is still picking up new readers. Yes, some people are buying the reprints, but the vast bulk of sales on the reprints and back-issues have been people hearing about the book from friends or reading reviews and wanting to check it out. A lot of people who don't normally buy many DC books are picking it up as well. In contrast, these latest reprints of Secret War aren't selling. We seem to have hit the wall on sales on that title. Of course, if we'd had a current issue to sell alongside the reprints, that might have been a different story...

Oh, and Humankind has proven a strong seller for us as well. I can only bring myself to look at it in small doses, but it looks utterly and absolutely like every other book Top Cow has ever published, so I can't imagine why it's got so much appeal when the rest of Top Cow's line has been trending down for months.

Speaking of Top Cow's sales, the two year wait between issues of Rising Stars has killed sales on it dead.

Antarctic Press is also on a strong, downward sales trend, with the sole exceptions of Gold Digger and Neotopia, which sell to a small, cult-audience. If I had to hazard a guess as to why this would be, I would say that the easy availability of actual manga has lured people away from the strange, manga-doppelganger material Antarctic exclusively publishes.


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Monday Morning Links 

--It's been brought to my attention that a ten page preview of Brian Wood's and Rob G's Couriers 3: Ballad of Johnny Funwrecker is on-line. I really enjoyed the first two Couriers books, and the Rob G illustrated Teenagers From Mars, soon to be released in TPB, was excellent as well. If I can't convince you, Newsarama has posted an interview with Brian Wood that should.

--Laura has noted an eerie moment of prescience in Aquaman comics of the past.

--The Undeniably True Story of Gef, The Talking Mongoose.

--I love how All the Rage runs leaked press-releases as hot rumors...such as Steve Sadowski possibly doing a Medieval themed book for IDW (which, if true, is more remarkable in that it will be what prompts me to finally buy an IDW book...unless of course they're Medieval zombies written by Steve Niles...). Of course, this being a comic book column, they make the usual witty and mature jokes about how Sadowski should ask to be paid in "wenches." Uh, guys...there's a reason why my favorite book that's never going to happen is the Steve Sadowski drawn Wildcat/Wolverine cross-over, "You Look Like You Could Use A Massage."
(The best book that's never going to happen: Mike's dream of a Brian Bolland illustrated Black Canary/Zatanna cross-over, "Fishnets Ahoy!")

--Probably coming later tonight, thoughts on comics inventory control. (Coming later tonight because, well, I actually have to do inventory first...)

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Sunday, November 21, 2004

Criminally Late Reviews 

Outsiders #17: Man, that photo cover is distracting, isn't it? My sole complaint with this story at this point is that it runs the risk of being a little too earnest.

Identity Crisis #6: Oh come on, you know that they're not going to really make him the killer without providing a damn good explanation. It's a nice twist and one of the most effective cliff-hangers I've ever seen in a comic, but it does drive home the point that this series has relied heavily on red herrings to divert the reader's attention.

Angeltown #1: Philips and Martinbrough do a good job of introducing the core cast. We're given hints at characterization mostly, rather than fully fleshed characters. The mystery, concerning the murdered ex of a missing basketball player, is perhaps a bit too inspired by real-world events, but there are hints already that not all is as it seems. A promising start for the mini.

Ocean #2: More beautiful artwork from Sprouse, and Ellis' story remains compelling, with new twists added.

Challengers of the Unknown #6: A thought I had the other day: many artists and writers of Chaykin's generation are still writing and drawing comics as if it was still the early 80s. Chaykin's not. Not only has his work evolved, he's still ahead of the curve compared to almost everyone else.

Solo #1: I can appreciate the quality of Sale's work, but he's never been on my list of favorite creators. The art here is certainly quite nice, but I'm a little disappointed with the quality of the stories, and the reliance on super-hero stories. What I was hoping for in a book of this nature was the kinds of work that top talents can't do in a regular book or mini. I wanted more personal and idiosyncratic work.

Intimates #1: It's a bit of an odd beast. It wants to be something new, and it certainly looks like almost nothing else out there, but none of the characters are particularly engaging and I really don't have much patience for teen angst comics. I'll give it a couple more issues, because the talent behind the book is obvious. Let's hope it goes somewhere.

Adam Strange #2: Great action, an intriguing story, and beautiful art. This is what super-hero comics should be.

Wild Girl #1: I'm gong to be very bitchy here and ask: would the reviews for this book be quite so negative if people didn't know that Leah Moore was Alan Moore's daughter? My gut feeling is, no, people would be more willing to give it a fair chance if they weren't looking for reasons to dislike it. The art is wonderful, and while the story is more suggestive than explanatory, I'm more tolerant of that approach in a mini. It has sold well for us, largely to people who don't read super-hero books.

Catwoman #36 and Batman #633: And War Games ends pretty much the only way it could end...in disaster. It'll be interesting to see what the various Bat-creators do with the new status quo...at least until the next big editorially mandated cross-over changes the status quo all over again. I think for me, what this cross-over drove home is that, at the end of the day, there are just too many Bat-family titles.

City of Heroes #6: Kind of a fun comic if you play the game. Sort of goofy if you don't. The "heroes must serve on a jury when another hero is accused of a crime" gimmick is amusing, but the strength of the comic is Brandon McKinney's art.

Losers #17: Another good issue, though the coloring seems a little off. I don't know if it's something I've just noticed or an attempt to visually convey to the reader that this issue is a flash-back, but without knowing the context it would be hard to say.

Plastic Man #12: So, let me see if I have this right: people don't like Kyle Baker's goofy Plas stories, and they don't like Scott Morse's Plas-as-super-hero story either. Then I guess what people want is a grim, dark version of Plastic Man, similar in tone and content to the new Space Ghost series. If sales decline enough, rest assured, I'm sure DC will try that before canceling the book.
(Y'know how I sometimes point out that kids like certain comics that people don't necessarily expect them to? Plastic Man is one of them.)

Spider-Man #8: This...this is awful. This is worse and farther from the right tone for a Spidey book than the "Gwen bangs the Green Goblin" story-line in Amazing Spider-Man. Pete owes me big time for making me buy this. (And in fairness to him, he only wants to know who kidnapped Aunt May.)

Strange #2: This isn't actually bad, but it's paced at the glacial rate that Marvel seems so fond of lately.

Fallen Angel #17: Please, DC, I'm begging of you...just one year without anything bad happening to a female character, especially a pregnant one, that's all I ask of you...

JLA #107 and JLA #108: Busiek's first issue is cute, a nice reaffirmation of the current status of the characters and an introduction to his approach to the book. His second issue, however, is fantastic. It's great fun, in a twisted, through the looking glass way. And while I'm not necessarily opposed to Ron Garney's art, it does seem rather...plain in comparison to the story.

Ultimate X-Men #53: And all the good-will that Vaughn had built up on this title evaporates, just like that...terrible, boring, cliched ending.

Ultimate Spider-Man #69: Apart from the fact that no-one, anywhere, ever talked like any of Bendis' characters do, this is actually a surprisingly good, low-key adventure comic. This book is at it's best when it's not taking itself too seriously, as it has been in the last couple of "team-up" storylines.

Teen Titans #18: The appeal of this kind of story is that it makes a nice reward for the long-time comic fans. Lots of little in-jokes, lots of broad hints at future stories, lots of elements of interest only to long time fans. Of course, since this is another one of those books that sells strongly to people who aren't long time comics fans, it would have been nice if some of those elements had been toned down a little. It's a fun story, but a little frustrating in that regard.

Superman/Batman #14: Everything I said about Teen Titans, repeat here, only emphasize it more strongly.

Adventures of Superman #634: Uhm...I'm sure the creator's thought this was very funny and original, but honestly...no, I can't even get too annoyed by it, it's just kind of...lame.

She-Hulk #9: It's nice to get back to the book's usual tone and setting, after the cosmic storyline I didn't care for. Pelletier's art is always nice to look at, but Juan Bobillo really is a better fit for the character. There's just something more appealing about his chubby, baby-faced figures.

Hawkman #34: A good start to what looks to be a good super-hero adventure story involving the return of Hawkman's rogues gallery. Not ground-breaking work by any means, no, but good super-hero comics.

Conan #10: Long-time Conan fans will instantly recognize where this story is heading, but Busiek adds some nice twists to it, highlighting the "mystery" aspects of the tale.

Wildstorm Winter Special: Bruce Jones and Josh Middleton tell an important story about the history of some of the WildC.A.T.S. characters, which would probably have meant a lot more to me if I had any interest in the characters in the first place. Allen Warner and Carlos D'Anda have a slight, but well illustrated Deatblow story, and I'm just going to pretend that I never say Will Pfeifer and Scott Iwahashi's Jack Hawksmoor story. The star story is Tom Peyer's and Cary Nord's Apollo & Midnighter story. Beautifully illustrated, with a slight but amusing story that nevertheless displays some of the better takes on the character's personalities, especially in contrast to their cross-bleed counterparts Pluto and Daylighter.

Ex Machina #6: I really shouldn't have to still be telling people that this is a quality, clever, original book that they should be buying, should I?

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Saturday, November 20, 2004

Another Quick Post 

--Remember not too long ago when I was lamenting that what I really needed as a retailer was a good, kid-friendly, general audience super-hero book starring characters like Supergirl, Batgirl and Wonder Woman because of the large number of little girls I get in who want to read comic books about those characters? Yesterday a good object lesson in why this is necessary walked in. A little girl, who couldn't have been more than five years old, came in with her two older brothers and her grand-mother. One brother, the younger, immediately gravitated to our back issues of Shonen Jump, which is fine and mostly age-appropriate, while the older boy kept looking at stuff that was clearly not within his age range (though, to his credit, he acknowledged to his grandmother that they were not within his age range...didn't stop him from looking though). The little girl however, after picking out the newest issue of Mickey Mouse kept looking over at the super-hero books like her brothers. And she showed a definite interest in the super-hero books with female characters on the covers. Which is the pattern I've usually observed with little girls looking at super-hero comics--they want the ones with other girls on the covers. Unfortunately, given the way our shelves are arranged and given her height, this meant that the only comics with women on them in her line of sight were Humankind and Witchblade...
If I had a general audience Supergirl book to sell, I'd have made that little girl's day.

--The Cult of the Eye: America's Fastest Growing Cult Sensation

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Friday, November 19, 2004

Proof Of Concept 

I want a Larry Young action figure.

Young's new book, Proof of Concept, is a collection of six short stories, presented as Young trying to pitch the story ideas to his lawyer as potential film and television sales. It's Young pushing the best, "high concept" elements of the story, which in it's own way, is a high concept way to approach a comics anthology. The reader gets a taste for each story, just enough to pique your interest and get you to want to see more, before moving along to the next story. As an added bonus, each story is illustrated by a different artist, so the book is not only an introduction to the twisted mind of Larry Young, but to promising new artists as well. All the stories are book-marked by Kieron Dwyer's illustrations of Young and his lawyer, using a very photo-realistic style I'm not familiar with from him that's quite attractive.

The first story, Hemogoblin, is about the last vampire on Earth, being hunted by the last of the vampire hunters on behalf of a corporation that wants to find out what makes vampires immortal. It's illustrated by Damian Couceiro in a style reminiscent of Charlie Adlard. The second story is Zombie Dinosaur illustrated by Steven Sanders and Jeff Johns. It's the story that probably best exemplifies the "high concept" nature of the book. Say the title with me: Zombie Dinosaur. It has big-budget dumb-action movie written all over it. The kind of movie that only exists to show off big explosions. It's utterly perfect in concept and is one of those ideas you have to kick yourself for not thinking it up yourself, it's so simple in it's perfection.

The most visually interesting story is the collaboration with Paul Tucker, The Camera, about four children who find a time/space anomaly in their backyard. Tucker has a great approach to drawing kids that's unlike anything I can recall seeing before, and I'd really be interested in seeing what other projects he follows up this book with. It makes a nice prelude to the Jeff Johns drawn For the Time Being. Where Tucker was primitive and sketchy, Johns is detailed and slick, with a strongly realistic look. It's an equally impressive artistic debut, though almost the total opposite of Tucker's style. The story is the other big "high concept" pitch, involving time travel and the accidental creation of humanity's worst enemy. And it features probably the best time-travel related joke I've ever seen: "Sometimes when you travel through time, you just end up beside yourself."

Rounding out the book's new material is the John Flynn illustrated Emancipating Lincoln. I actually think it's a bit too jokey a concept to really wring more out of it than Young manages to here, but Flynn has a slightly frazzled style that puts me in mind of both Rob G. and Becky Cloonan, and that's a good thing. The last story is the book's only reprint, Young and John Heebink's serial from Double Image about the media travails of an invisible woman, The Bod, collected here in it's entirety for the first time. The Bod never really did much for me the first time around, and the celebrity cameos that pepper it, and seemed sort of silly the first time I read the story now come off as dated as well. Ironically, I find Kelly, the supposed villain of the piece, constantly being chastised by those around her for not being "responsible" the most sympathetic character. She's a woman who is trying to make the best out of a bad situation and gets in over her head. Those around her try to exploit her and then shrug her aside when the unintended consequences of their actions end up hurting them, and it all ends in a very "nobody learns anything" fashion. Why, if I didn't know any better I'd say that's a recurring theme in Young's work...

Apart from those slight quibbles, this is a fantastic book. It's a telling look into the slightly off-kilter mind of Larry Young and a fantastic introduction to some artists to keep an eye on. Snatch it up the second you see it on the stands.

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Thursday, November 18, 2004

Two Quick Observations 

--We did, in fact, sell out of Space Ghost. This concerned me.

--All of our anime and manga magazines sell fairly well...except for Wizard Publication's Anime Insider. I think I figured out why this is today, and bear with me if I'm just stating the painfully obvious. Most of the growth in anime and manga sales is being fueled by female customers. Overall, in fact, I'd say that most of the audience for manga and anime is women. All of Wizard's publications, in contrast, are written for a presumptive audience of twelve year old boys obsessed with sexual innuendo. I think this may be why manga and anime fans aren't terribly impressed with Anime Insider.

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Wednesday, November 17, 2004

New Comics Day Makes Me Sad... 

...because each box I open is a testament to what's gone wrong with the comics industry.

--Spider-Man: India with such authentic Hindi names as Pravitar Prabhakar, Uncle Bhim, Aunt Maya and Meera Jain, I've decided that the optimum way to read this comic is aloud in a Peter Sellers-esque "Indian" accent. It's a little too earnest for me to think that they were deliberately trying to create an offensive comic, but was there no one along this comics route to the stand that had the common sense to say "Y'know, it's probably not really a good idea to publish this."
Oh, and for you Spidey purists out there, the death of "Uncle Bhim" has nothing to do with "Pravitar" shirking his duty to society. And without his guilt over his role in the death of his uncle, it just isn't Spider-Man.

--Space Ghost is an excellent example of what is wrong with comics. It's taking a silly character intended to entertain children, and grafting a violent and mature story onto it that is totally inappropriate to the character. This, ladies and gentlemen, is apparently what comic fans want, and that makes me both sad and angry. If sales in our shop are typical, expect to hear a "sold out" annoucement from DC any day now.
And, for the record, I really want to hear some of the people complaining about the violence and "inappropriate" material in Identity Crisis to get on their moral high horse about this comic too. Somehow, though, I doubt that will happen. And before anyone accuses me of hypocrisy because I complain about inappropriate content in this comic, but not in Identity Crisis, I'm willing to forgive IC because it's at least done well. Space Ghost is not. The violence in IC is in service to the story. In Space Ghost it's clearly only there to make Space Ghost "kewl."

--I'd like to read the new issue of Robin, if only because Pete is a fan of the Batgirl comic and the two books are crossing over, but the art in this latest issue made my eyes bleed.

--The Secret War tie-in issue of The Pulse basically consists of Jessica Jones standing around for twenty-two pages looking confused while incomprehensible things happen. So, it's an accurate representation of what it's like for readers trying to figure out what the hell is supposed to be happening in Secret War.

--Speaking of Secret War, I was wondering aloud why they keep going back to press on that book, despite the fact that lack of availability on earlier issues hasn't hurt sales on later issues, while books like Madrox and Strange have had their sales hurt on second and third issues because we can't get any more copies of the first issue in. Than Mike reminded me that Secret War is $3.99 an issue. Mystery solved.

--This week's new issue of Comic Book Marketplace has a cover feature on "Comics Fighting Hate." I'm guessing that the work of Mike S. Miller won't be discussed.

--The Wildstorm Winter Special might as well have been titled the Wildstorm "We Paid For These Comics, We May As Well Publish Them" Special I'm positive that both of the Authority stories in here were initially solicited in the ill-fated Authority: Widescreen book.

--The second issue of Devil Due's Defex came in. Some time back I got a call from our Diamond rep, telling me that the original solicitation for the book, which indicated that there were two covers that had to be ordered separately was in error, and there was in fact only one cover. He wanted to know if I wanted to cancel our orders for the second cover, or convert them to orders for the first cover. Well, the first issue either hadn't come out yet, or had just come out, so I told him to convert the orders, guessing that if we thought we could order X copies of each cover, we could probably sell X+X copies all together. Well, having seen sales on the first issue, and seen how the second issue sold today (probably 90% of sales on all our Devil's Due title occur in the first week of release, and at least 75% of those sales are on new comics day), I probably should have just cancelled the order and saved the store that money. Lesson learned on future Devil's Due releases not tied into a toy-line, though.

--I'm a big ol' 'mo, and even I want the Bettie Page playing cards.

--It came in last week, but it's worth mentioning today. Traditionally Dark Horse's kids movie tie-in comics have sold poorly for us, but we seemed to have confidence in their adaptation of The Incredibles and we ordered a good amount of them. We sold out last week. In support of my theory that kids only want super-hero comics when there is a tie-in to other media, not a single kid who has come in looking for Incredibles comics since we've sold out has even considered looking at any of the other kid-friendly comics I've pointed them towards.
It's also worth noting that a good percentage of the non comics buying public (in other words, most people) seem to be under the impression that the movie was based on an existing comic.

--Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes starring Ken Ryker as Captain America

(Yeah, I know very few of you understood that joke, but I'm betting that those of you who did got a good laugh out of it...)


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Creepy 

Take a look at this:



Now, here's what kind of bothers me:



So, not only does the underground society of cast-offs and misfits have it together enough to actually codify a set of laws, but they've included a morlock-specific wedding ceremony, and found someone to set it all up in print and bind it together...

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Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Just when I'm despairing of having anything to write about today, DC's solicitations for February go on-line. So, I'll go over the list, briefly.

On a related note: I almost never go through the Previews catalog itself. Well, it's mostly because I just can't be bothered to give a damn about the majority of the stuff that's in it. Anything worthwhile I'll usually talk about after I read it. When it's on sale already. And other people can read it too. Unless you really want to know that I'm planning on buying Eros new book Sticky. Which they're billing as their first "gay porn comic," which tells me, first of all, that Sin Factory must actually be making money on Dangerous and Genus: Male, but also that whoever is in charge of writing the solicitations for Eros isn't familiar with their publishing history. Now, granted, Major Power and Spunky and Dandy Lion may not have been "porn" per se, but they were gay-themed humor books published by Eros. And I can understand why Eros might like to pretend that they never published Up From Bondage or Leatherboy, but that still leaves all those Coley books. Or are those technically "bi-sexual" porn comics? Anyway...

You may also have noticed that I almost never talk about Marvel's solicitations. Well, there are two reasons for that. One, the solicitations are written by monkeys on crack. No, scratch that, monkeys on crack would probably write more useful solicitation copy. Two, Marvel publishes almost nothing I have any interest in at all anymore. The only Marvel titles I buy are ones that Pete likes. It's also why you'll probably only ever see me write negative reviews of Marvel books from here on out, if I even bother to review them at all. Everyday I look at the shelf of comics, and I look at the Marvel books, and all I can see is "crap, crap and more crap."

Batman Family
The only things noteworthy here are the War Games trade, which was a decent enough cross-over I suppose, and the one-shot Batman: The Man Who Laughs. Now, Brubaker is a writer I've learned to at least give a chance, but frankly I think I'm too old to be interested in a "Joker: Year One" type story. Had this come out when I was fourteen I would have been all over it. And I'm apparently the only person in the world who doesn't care for Doug Mahnke's art, so I'm guessing I'll give this a pass, unless it gets really incredibly good reviews.

Superman Family
So, Ruin is really Jimmy Olsen, right? If that's the big reveal in Adventures of Superman I will be immensely happy.

I'll probably be picking up Scott McCloud's Superman mini, Superman: Strength. In general, Superman seems to be one of those characters that works better for me in smaller doses, such as minis and one-shots.

DC U
As far as the regular ongoings and minis are concerned, I'll be picking up my usual assortment and ignoring everything else. I do have to wonder, though, if anyone was really clamoring for a Flash and Wonder Woman cross-over.

Green Lantern: Rebirth hints ominously at the "final fate" of Kyle Rayner. Sheesh. I doubt they're going to kill him, but really, they may as well. Green Lantern fans aren't going to be happy until DC retroactively declares that there never was a Kyle Rayner and sends out little Hal Jordan stickers they can use to cover up Kyle in all those comics he was in...

Everyone's already pointed this out, but man, the solicitation for Seven Soldiers is long. And at 48 pages for $2.95 that's quite a bargain.

Johnny DC
So, are the books back to the normal page count and price or not? Because I have to say, upping the price on these books this last month seems to have hurt sales on them a little. A $2.25 book is an easier sell on a "kids" title than a $2.95 book.

The digest format continues with two more Scooby-Doo volumes. Now, these books have sold well for us. This is a great price point and page count for a kids comic.

Beyond the DCU
Uhm...people seem to be liking Toe Tags, but I just can't get into a zombie comic. And I'm really going to be disappointed if Space Ghost ends up being a big seller, but all currently available evidence indicates that it's going to be. There's a lot of people out there who are upset over the current incarnation of the character and want to see a "serious" version. It ain't just Alex Toth.

CMX
Musashi #9 looks to be really good, I need to get around to reading the first volume. Gals is the sort of book that tends to do well for us. No one's shown much interest in the first volume of Swan. We'll probably be able to move some copies of Tenjho Tenge...ninjas and high-school violence always seem to be good sellers.

2000AD
Skizz is an excellent book, and a new edition is long overdue.

Humanoids
Well, it was bound to happen eventually--everything this month appeals to me. Both 1000 Faces and Sanctum look good. Heck, I'm even curious about the first volume of Son of the Gun.

Wildstorm
Both Legend and Twilight Experiment look promising. Otherwise, it's the same-old, same-old.

America's Best Comics
Michael Moorcock on Tom Strong probably sounds more interesting than it'll end up being. I wonder how he'll ham-fistedly tie it into the concept of the "Eternal Champion?"

Okay, everyone's already talking about the big "variant" edition of Promethea's final issue. Now, I agree $50 is a little steep. But most of that money seems to be tied into the signed-and-numbered hard-cover. Here's the thing...I'd rather have the posters be made available separately than the hard-cover. I've got little to no interest in the hard-cover, but man, I'd sure like those posters...

Vertigo
I'm glad that Vimanarama finally comes out. Otherwise, see my above comments about same-old, same-old and only buying what I've already been buying.

DC Direct
A Simon Bisley designed Batman statue and two Jim Lee posters. Pretty standard stuff.

Now, the Crisis on Infinite Earths figures are a neat idea, but I kind of wonder if this is a case of "too little, too late." I'm constantly being harassed for new "Hush" figures and I'm already being asked about a new wave of "Dark Knight Returns" figures and even the "Long Halloween" figures...but no one except, well, Mike, seems to be excited about these "Crisis" figures.
Okay, maybe I'll get the Supergirl one, but that's only because I have a soft-spot for the character.


[Edit: This post would have been brought to you much earlier today, except, well, frickin' Blogger...]

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Monday, November 15, 2004

Amusing Retail Anecdotes 

"Do you have any Spawn: Impala comics?"
I'm sorry, I didn't quite hear the name there.
"I'm looking for Spawn: Impala comics."
Do you possibly mean Spawn the Impaler? Or are you asking me if there are any comics about Spawn's car?

"Wow, cool, you have C.S.I. cards!"
Yes, we sure do. Would you like some?
"Do you have a starter set?"
Excuse me?
"Wow, I didn't even know there was a trading-card game based on C.S.I.!"
(Now, repeat this conversation with every. single. trading-card set we get in stock...)

"Do you have any real comics?"
Uhm...as opposed to the millions of "fake" comics that currently surround us?
"No, real comics, like The Far Side!"

"I'm a bit confused by these comics."
Okay, how can I help you with that?
"Well, what order should I read them in?"
...Well, if it were me, I'd read this one before I read that one.
"Oh! So #2 comes after #1!"
Usually, yes...

"Do you have any Conan comics?"
Sure, around about which issue numbers did you want to see?
"I don't want to buy them, I want to sell them."
Okay, do you have the comics you want to sell with you?
"No, I just want to know how much you'd pay me for them."
Well, that depends entirely on the condition of the comic and the demand for it. I'd really have to see the books.
"No, I just need to know how much you charge for the Conan's you have already."
Well...it varies, but most of them are probably less than $5 each.
"So, if I brought in my copies, you'd pay me $5 each for them, right?"
No. I'd pay about half what I could sell them for, if they were ones I needed and they were in good enough condition for me to sell them.
"You mean you don't pay the same price that you sell them for! What a rip-off!"

"Do you have any comics that are less adult?"
Sure, we've got plenty of kids comics, let me show you where they are.
"No! I was just looking at those! They're too mature for my children!"
Which comics were you looking at, exactly?
"Betty and Veronica and Scooby-Doo! You should be ashamed for selling dirty comics like that to children!"

I swear, I couldn't make these stories up if I tried...

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Sunday, November 14, 2004

Everyone's Fault But His Own 

If I may briefly respond to Bob Layton's open letter explaining how the death of Future Comics is the fault of short-sighted retailers and not his:

--The comics were awful, plain and simple. They were a throwback to the kinds of material I'd last seen published regularly in the early eighties. They were not what contemporary comics fans were interested in reading. "Old fashioned" is the polite term for the art and stories. "The kinds of comics grandpa used to think were dated" was the phrase I think I actually used amongst my co-workers upon seeing their initial offerings. The art was generic to the point where I honestly couldn't tell who was penciling which title.

--Given the above, it's not terribly surprising that they sold abysmally at our store. We couldn't give the damn things away, especially not at the $3.50 an issue price. Hell, we had people declining to take the "Free Comic Book Day" offering.

--As I recall, despite the deeper discount Future offered as compared to Diamond, the process by which we had to order the books was onerous, and we frequently had errors in our orders or received books late. I seem to recall that there may have been a minimum order on titles as well, though Mike doesn't recall that being the case. In other words, it was much easier for us to order the one copy of all of Future's titles that we could sell through Diamond than deal with Future at all.

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I Almost Feel Like A Jerk Just For Pointing This Out 



That's a Neal Adams drawing for the feature Manimal (no relation to the television show) in the deservedly forgotten underground anthology Hot Stuff. But what I want you to notice is the figure on the left of the group. That's right, it's an outrageous gay stereotype in what is otherwise a "tough" prison scene. A character, I might add, who appears nowhere in the actual story. No, he's just there to remind you of all the usual, cheap jokes about fags in prisons...

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Friday, November 12, 2004

Quite Possibly The Most Asinine Thing I've Ever Heard 

Marvel to sue makers of City of Heroes
(via Franklin's Findings)

I just can't get my head around the logic of this one. Because some people are so uncreative that they want to duplicate the appearance of a copyrighted character in their game instead of coming up with something original, Marvel thinks the proper solution is to sue the game's manufacturer? A manufacturer, I might add, which actually does prohibit players from creating costumes or character names that infringe on copyrights and trademarks. What's next, suing the publishers of Silver Age Sentinels or Champions because someone might make a copy of Spider-Man or Wolverine in those games? Is Marvel that hard up for cash, or is this just an attempt to squash the competition before Marvel's inevitable on-line RPG crashes and burns?

And on a related note, here's one of the things I love about City of Heroes:

That's my character, Rum Red (Victory server, radiation Science Defender), fighting two Nazis (or as the game calls them "Nebels") out on the street, in broad daylight. You'll notice one of them has a rocket-launcher.
This is a city in which the police force is so ineffectual that fascists roam the street carrying military hardware without fear. No wonder they need thousands of super-heroes to keep crime in check...

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Thursday, November 11, 2004

Brief Notes 

--I can't seem to find my copies of Scandalous or The Tomb, but I assure you I enjoyed them and they're worth your time. Well, Scandalous is. I seem to recall having a couple of reservations about The Tomb, but without having my copy handy I can't recall what they were.

--Over at Little Terrors, Sam Costello's got a nice piece about the newest vogue in morality for horror films.

--Mike spotted this first, but here's what appears to be a short film, probably aimed at potential licensors, giving background information and and a couple of quick effects shots for the Fantastic Four movie. Am I the only one not bothered by the effort to link the powers they receive to their emotional problems? Wasn't that sort of thing discussed recently in both Grant Morrison's 1, 2, 3, 4 mini and James Sturm's Unstable Molecules?

--New comics came in yesterday, and I was overwhelemed with how dull and generic the majority of them were. A Magdalena/Vampirella cross-over, and guest appearances by Magdalena in Tomb Raider? An entire Marvel book devoted to nothing but pointless cross-overs? Oh well, at least I've got Angeltown, Challengers of the Unknown, Wild Girl and Alice 19th to keep me occupied.

--Anyone else notice how frustrating it is when you're about to reach a significant level in City of Heroes (in this case 16th) and you get over-confident and wind up with more debt than you needed XP to level up?

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Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Oh, The Angst 



(How is it a "surprise" feature if it's announced on the cover?)

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Quick Links 

Added a couple of sites:

Finally was reminded to add Brian K. Vaughn's site Channel Surfing, mostly because the most recent entry features preview pages from his upcoming GN Pride, a book I'm looking forward to.

Added The Joe Rice Media Review because it's quite good really.

And I also added beppeblog, which in Joe G.'s own words is "a simple blog about Quakerism, religion, politics, culture, sexuality, health, tutti italiani, family, friends, & me."

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Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Some Reviews 

JLA Classified #1: See, just when I start to despair of finding any fun super-hero comics, something like this comes along. Morrison blends big goofy super-hero action with pointed meta-textual commentary on the state of, well, super-hero comics. I think it's telling that the Authority/Ultimates-esque Ultramarines, who are serious and grim, are in need of rescue from the most serious member of the "light and fluffy" JLA, and that Batman goes about it in a way almost calculated to alienate all the fans of the "serious" super-hero and of the "grim" Batman: his arsenal of goofy sci-fi gadgetry. This is also some of the best art I've seen from McGuinness in, well, ever. The layouts are engaging and playful and draw you in.

WE3 #2: Quitely's art is frankly gorgeous, and Morrison's story is compelling and heart-breaking. Morrison manages to make the animal characters recognizable without resorting to humanizing their intelligence or behavior. They can speak, but they don't have the understanding of consequence or context that humans do.

Planetary #21: A place-holder issue. Some information is imparted to the reader but the larger story fails to progress. This sort of issue is necessary every once in a while, granted, but on a book that comes out as infrequently as this one it can be a bit frustrating.

Astonishing X-Men #6: I think I'm officially out of patience with this book and it's going on the pile of comics that only Pete reads. If the point of X-Treme X-Men was to reassure readers who'd rather wallow in the status quo than experience something new in Morrison's New X-Men, than the point of this book seems to celebrate the status quo. "Hey, remember 20 years ago when you really liked the X-Men? Joss Whedon does too!" And while I'm used to seeing mutation used as a metaphor for everything from race to sexuality, Whedon's use of the mutant=gay metaphor, especially in light of the politically motivated "cure," is so ham-fisted here that I find it offensive.

Y: The Last Man #28: Ah, just as questions may finally start to be answered, more plot elements are thrown into the mix...Now, see, this is how you write compelling serial entertainments.

Authority: Revolutions: Authority became a "Pete book" a long time back, but I still find some entertainment in it from time to time. Brubaker's off to a good start, and Nguyen's art is quite good here. I would have found the adversaries more compelling if they weren't so odious in their politics. There's a way to critique the notion of the Authority as benevolent fascists, but making these rebels somewhere to the right of Trent Lott politically is probably not the way to go about it.

Question #1: I may be biased, not being disinclined to dislike this solely because it isn't faithful to Ayn Rand's philosophies, but it seems to me that the play with structure that Veitch and Edwards are doing here is faithful to the spirit of Ditko's work as a whole, even if casting the Question as a shamanistic figure gives the lie to a knowable external reality independent of our senses. This was great stuff and left me insistent for more.

Blue Monday: Painted Moon #3: Ah, bowling...Clugston-Major's teen comedy is fun and twisted and just all-around good stuff.

ps238 #8: A key bit of back-story is revealed, and hints for the future are laid in the newest issue. Honestly, this is probably the best super-hero comic out there right now. It's funny, it's original, it's well-drawn and the characters are appealing. What more could you want?

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Monday, November 08, 2004

Dedicated Consumers 

Yes, despite a recent wave of protestations to the contrary, the Marvel Zombie does indeed exist. A significant number of regular comic-shop customers will only buy comics that have the Marvel logo on them. If you ask them why, the reasons you will get will usually center around issues of favorite characters or the vaguely defined notion of "quality." In fact, a good deal of Marvel-only customers are in fact Spider-Man-only, X-Men-only, or Avengers-only customers. Not only do they limit their purchases to one publisher, they further define the scope of their purchases to one "family" of titles.

Tellingly, the reverse is not normally the case. I have yet to find a single customer who only buys DC, Dark Horse, Image, or some other still-in-business publishers titles exclusively. I think the primary distinction here is that no other publisher narrowly defines their product line to one type of comic and one type of comic only. The only publisher that publishers a singular genre is Marvel. Further, Marvel is the only publisher which actively encourages it's customers to buy their products exclusively. The term "Marvel Zombie," if I'm not mistaken, was actually coined in a Marvel letter-column. This is where that vague notion of "quality" comes into play. Marvel seems to want to actively foster the notion, both within Marvel comics buyers and in the culture as a whole, that the words "comic books" and "super-heroes" are synonymous with "Marvel." Only Marvel comics, this plan suggests, are "worthy" of consideration. They're the only "good" ones.

The problem with that notion, of course, is that a sizeable chunk of Marvel's output as a publisher is no damn good whatsoever. Invariably people look at other comic books and find something else they will enjoy. Leaving Marvel with no one to sell to but an aging and increasingly small audience. I think this explains some of Marvel's recent efforts with non-direct market stores to carry only Marvel comics. A child finding Marvel's comics in Target for example, helpfully shelved near the Spider-Man toys, is only going to ever see Marvel comics. That's what Marvel wants, and they had best pray that that hypothetical child never shops anywhere except Target.

But I didn't want to write yet another Marvel-bashing piece today. Marvel has always and will always do what Marvel thinks is best for Marvel, and whether or not what's best for Marvel is good for comics retailers or the comics industry as a whole will never be part of that equation. I actually wanted to share some observations about customers who only buy one kind of comic.

In addition to the Marvel-only buyer, there is the Star Wars-only buyer. This person isn't hard to figure out, they're primarily a Star Wars fan, not a comic book fan. There is not, so far as I can tell, a similar trend for Star Trek-only buyers. I'm sure there are plenty of people who only read Star Trek novels, but Star Trek comics have never seemed very popular. I think the key difference here may be that Star Wars comics are generally seen as "part of the story," while Star Trek comics have always been officially regarded as non-canonical.

The "Gothity Goth" comics as I tend to call them have a core audience as well. Books like Johnny the Homicidal Manic, Lenore, Gloomcookie, Courtney Crumrin and all of Slave Labor's many attempts to duplicate the success of those books sell regularly and well to people who wear too much eyeliner and want to read comics about other people who wear too much eyeliner.

Certain creators attract dedicated followings as well. The usual suspects; Alan Moore, Garth Ennis, Warren Ellis, all have customers who will only enter a comic book store in order to buy their work, but a surprising number of other writers have similar followings. Grant Morrison, Steve Niles, even Chuck Dixon have fan-bases that will only purchase their work. Jim Lee, Michael Turner, and yes, Rob Liefeld seem to be the artists who attract similar followings. Todd McFarlane, significantly, has managed to retain a core group of fans who will buy all the comics he publishes, and all the action figures he puts out, despite the fact that his involvement with comics, either as a writer or artist, is non-existent at this point.

Returning briefly to the question of people who only buy work from a specific publisher, the only examples outside of Marvel are two now defunct companies: Chaos and Crossgen. Both companies survived as long as they did thanks to a group of customers who would go out of their way to only buy their product. Importantly, a good number of those customers were women. In fact, Chaos and Crossgen were the only publishers who attracted such a demographically narrow fanbase. Many of these women were in fact introduced to comics thanks to Chaos and Crossgen. This suggests to me that any other publisher trying to attract the dollars of women, especially new customers who happen to be women, should perhaps take a look at what Chaos and Crossgen where doing creatively, rather than focus excessively on the bad management and financial decisions that brought the companies down.

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Sunday, November 07, 2004

No Need To Panic 

We are currently experiencing giant monster related activity. There is no cause for alarm. Normal service will resume shortly.

Click here if you have no idea what I'm talking about.

Via Metafilter

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How People Get Here 

nanny dickering
nanny dickering from cracked magazine
nanny dickering art
bill ward nanny dickering
Still my most popular search term

ike perlmutter
All the information you want can be found here.

lingham massage
Step-by-step instructions can be found here. (The scary thing is, I've actually used this phrase in the context of a review...)

we got the new adventures of the fly trade in from archie
...I'm appalled by the specificity of this search.

voltron
vehicle voltron
voltron lion
I get this a lot too. Which is odd, because the only thing I've ever said about voltron was in the context of voltron fans self-administering, ahem, a "lingham massage."

thighboots
Every. Single. Time. Someone out there really has a thing for thighboots.

vintage beefcake
athletic model guild photos
lon of new york nude bodybudilding photos
bob mizer
john tristram
I talk about this stuff on another blog.

bounty on wildcat
Clearly part of some scheme of Brainwave's or Per Degaton.

beastmaster homoerotic
Well, Marc Singer's loincloth did give me a "special feeling" when I was a kid. No, not this Marc Singer, this one. (In hindsight, I had bad taste as a kid...)

why i hate postmodernbarney
Well, screw you too, pal!

super hero comics
And my site came up? Really?

gay moive
I get this one every month. What, exactly, is a "moive?"

postmodern behavior
Being ironically distant from everything, but not in such a way as to make it look like you're trying to be ironically distant. And calling it "De Grammatologie" rather than "Grammatology", despite never actually reading anything written by Jaques Derrida.

godsend appropriate for children robert deniro
I've never actually seen it, nor do I intend to, but sure, why not. Take the kids along to the movie about children dying.

she-ra erotic stories
See, it's stuff like this that keeps me up at night...

man comic art
So...three random phrases brought you to my site?

bar
Oh, come on!

spider-man human
No, he's fiction. I realize that comes as a shock to some people, but honestly, he's not real.

we want your comments about postmodern
It's too vaguely defined to be of much critical or analytical use, and it too easily dissolves into self-parody. I'm more of a structuralist/post-structuralist man myself.
The quintessential postmodern novel, however, is Donald Barthelme's Snow White.

buy worldwatch comic book
No, really, don't. It's awful.

street fighter girls
You're not talking about this sort of thing, are you?

cousin undress treehouse
No, sorry, not gonna touch this one...

gay comics
At least three sites come immediately to mind. Can anyone recommend some others to me?

indy
"Throw me the whip!"

world war games with barney.com
I'd be very surprised if there's any combat sims at a site devoted to a purple dinosaur.

whore american flagg
Knowing Chaykin's work, I'm sure there's at least one.

sad confused man
I'm vaguely insulted...

dorian wise
I feel better now. I'm glad someone besides myself recognizes my genius.

what is cognitive retreading in head injury
This is more Scott's area of expertise.

jeff strucker gay
I'm going to assume you meant Jeff Stryker. I have the playing cards, but I don't have the action figure.

the anatomy of a fish inside a fish
Here you go.




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Saturday, November 06, 2004

Kids And Comics, Revisited 

I've maintained before that there are plenty of comics for kids, and plenty of kids who read comics. And that the statement "there are no comics for kids" is generally used to mean "kids should be reading corporate super-hero comics" which is, I think, proof of the narcissism of the aging super-hero fanbase. "Kids should want to read the kinds of comics I read when I was a kid" is not exactly a compelling argument, and that's what most of the kids and comics hand-wringing boils down to.

Kids don't want super-heroes. And the kids who do want super-heroes are perfectly happy with Spider-Man, Batman, Teen Titans and Superman (and maybe Hulk--boy, is that Marvel Age version too little too late). They don't want a "kid appropriate" version of a super-hero. Kids don't like being talked down to, and they will always know when they are. They don't want the Marvel Age books. Adult collectors who buy every Spider-Man, Fantastic Four or Hulk comic there is buy them, but kids don't. Occasionally I'm able to talk a parent into buying one for a younger kid, but by and large kids do not want a "kiddy" version of a super-hero comic. DC seems to get this, and I've noticed that both Plastic Man and Action Comics are carrying the same ads as the Johnny DC books, and for the most part they've proven to be low-continuity, action/humor heavy books that kids actually like and are buying.

But, apart from all that, there is a segment of the kids comic buying populace that actually is interested in super-hero comics and isn't having their needs met. And that is little girls (and parents of little girls). I'm always being asked by little girls (and their parents) for general audience comics featuring Batgirl or Supergirl or Catwoman or Wonder Woman. Spider-Girl fills this need, somewhat, but no little girl thinks to ask for a comic about a female version of Spider-Man. Currently, both Batgirl and Catwoman are a little too continuity-heavy and dark in tone for little girls, and Wonder Woman is fine, but it's a little talky. Kids like a lot of action in their super-hero books. And I'm a little frustrated by the costume decision they made for Supergirl, because the belly-shirt and mini-skirt look is going to make a lot of parents uncomfortable, and they're the ones who are going to be buying any comics with her in it, after all.

So, what we really need in super-hero comics is more books like Spider-Girl and Plastic Man. They're general audience friendly, there isn't a lot of back-story needed to understand the comic, and they're written with kids in mind but not written as a kids comic. If DC went in this direction with some of their girl-friendly characters, both I as a retailer and DC as a publisher would be able to make a good deal of money selling those comics to little girls, who only want to see a comic about a girl kicking ass and taking names.

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Friday, November 05, 2004

I Got Nothin' 

Feeling a little under the weather today, so I thought I'd do some linking.

Reader Libby has drawn my attention to the LiveJournal community scans_daily. It's comic book fans making fun of comic book covers and panels that have been taken out of context. You know I love that sort of thing.

The lovely and talented Fred Hembeck

Laura Gjovaag's site is one I consistently dig

Johanna's reviews are always worthwhile and interesting

We need to talk Ken into posting more often

David Welsh is probably even more curmudgeonly than I am

Scott's site is essential reading

Kevin Melrose is a good man, but those dots are driving me crazy

The talented and lovely Scott Saavedra

Pata does an excellent job rounding up all the manga news in one place

Sam Costello brings us horror-type goodness all year, not just at Halloween

Shane is also essential reading

I gotta work with this guy...

Tom is like unto a kindred spirit to me, and he tells the best poker stories

And, of course, I love everyone on my side-bar, but I gotta go get ready for work so I'll have to do call-outs for everyone else some other time.

Oh, by the way, the second chapter of Dorothy is now on-sale, and the first issue is available through Diamond. If you haven't already ordered a copy, go pester your local retailer for one.

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Thursday, November 04, 2004

New Comics Day 

Honestly, I can barely work up any enthusiasm for any of the comics that came in yesterday, even to make fun of them. No Dead Time looks good, and JLA: Classified should be fun, I'll probably give Intimates a chance, and I wasn't interested in Musashi #9 but somehow finding out that the main character is a girl changed my mind (that the art is quite good helped too).

I was sort of curious about one of the pull quotes on the new Spirit Archive volume: "The Spirit is one of the greatest comic books ever created." At least, according to the "Will Eisner Companion" it is. I mean, honestly, have they run out of pull-quotes for the series? Like you're going to find a negative comment about the Spirit in a book about Will Eisner...

Something that sold surprisingly well was Joe Casey's Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes mini. At $3.50 an issue with bi-weekly shipping I expected most of our customers to pass. But I guess there's a bigger market for comics retelling older Marvel comics than I thought there was.

We got a shipment of both Shi and Kabuki action figures in today. Too bad they're not in scale with each other, or you could have them fight it out for the title of "best comic about a Japanese woman written and drawn by an Anglo man that we're not supposed to openly discuss the creepy aspects of because it is 'art' and must therefore be taken seriously."

We also got two Halloween themed comics and one Christmas themed comic in. The timing of these "holiday special" comics is always so bad, I wonder why we ever bother to order any of them.

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Wednesday, November 03, 2004

The Eternal Struggle 



Oh, if only it were that easy for true patriotism to triumph over fear-mongering jingoism...

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Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Criminally Late Reviews 

--Updated blogroll:
Trash Heap and A Blog Found On A Garbage Heap, both of which I've been meaning to add for quite some time.

Insufficient Homosexual, because the world need more gay travel blogs.

Also, I added Gay Porn Blog, because I'm a big pervert. And no, it's NOT WORK SAFE!

--Quickie Reviews from Two Weeks Ago (Still Haven't Read Last Week's Books)

Identity Crisis #5: The death this issue was rather telegraphed, as was the identity of the hit-man, but the question of who is behind this all still remains. I feel no shame in liking this comic.

Teen Titans #17: I'm a sucker for this type of story, so I dug it.

Firestorm #6: So, was Ronnie killed because of this new Firestorm series, or is there a new Firestorm series because Ronnie was killed?

Manhunter #3: I'm liking this take on the vigilante-type hero. There are no easy answers for the new Manhunter and that's not glossed over.

Robin #131, Batman: Gotham Knights #58 and Batgirl #57: The pace finally picks up somewhat as the conclusion nears. This has turned out to be a better than expected cross-over.

Conan #9: I'm glad that Busiek is playing with the notion that Conan is intelligent, not just a mindless thug as many other writers have tended to portray him. This was a nice, done-in-one story that lays the groundwork for the next storyline.

Plastic Man #11: Hi-larious.

JSA: Strange Adventures #3: Any comic featuring Wildcat fighting Nazi Robots is a good comic as far as I'm concerned.

Ocean #1: If I may utter a dissenting voice, this isn't a decompressed comic. Yes, there are long, lingering panel-to-panel transistions depicting nothing but movement from point A to point B, but there's a lot of jumping forward in time going on here. If anything, Ellis seems to be compressing time a bit to move the plot forward. I think it's a promising start to a hard SF comic, something we haven't really seen in a long time.

--Slightly More In-Depth Manga Reviews

XXXholic Vol. 3 by CLAMP: I love the art-work on this title. It's moody and decadent and perfectly matches the tone of the stories. Yuko is a fascinating character, very much in the tradition of old comic horror hosts, providing warnings that no one will ever quite heed. Also in the horror host tradition, there's a strong sense that the unpleasant fates that meet people have been brought upon themselves. It's got lots of cute humor and charmingly gothic art and designs. This is quickly becoming perhaps my favorite CLAMP series.

From Eroica With Love Vol. 1 by Aoike Yasuko: I will admit, at first the art on this title turned me off. It's a little too much a product of it's time, the late seventies, and the emphasis is strongly on gender ambiguity. But what eventually convinced me to give it a try was the humor. This is a damn funny book! Lots of character based humor and lots of meta-textual jokes. And once you get into the book's rhythm, Dorian Red Gloria is a great character. Enthusiastically gay, decadent, a connoisseur of the most beautiful things, and an an absolutely brilliant thief, he's a compelling and memorable lead character. If I have a complaint it's that his original adversaries, a trio of psychic teens, are a little too "cute" and cliched to really feel like a credible threat. But with the introduction of the German NATO officer Major Klaus Heinz Von Dem Ebberbach, that problem is solved. Klaus is almost the antithesis of Dorian, concerned only with practical military matters and not caring a whit for art or beauty at all. Tellingly, in a scene where he and Dorian are discussing a painting, Klaus can only appreciate it in the sense that the painting costs as much as a tank. Dorian's response? Steal a tank from Klaus. After a while, even the art started to grow on me. And as a side note, the CMX books are probably the best reproductions I've ever seen in an English language manga translation. Good quality paper, crisp reproduction, and a translation that feels neither too "loose" nor too faithful to the original text.

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Monday, November 01, 2004

Do Me A Favor 

If you read this site, and you live in one of the following countries, just leave a comment in the comments section so that I know you're real and not a spambot of some kind:

Andora
Belgium
Czech Republic
Denmark
Ecuador
Finland
Greece
Hong Kong
Iceland
India
Indonesia
Italy
Kuwait
Malaysia
Nigeria
Portugal
Puerto Rico
Senegal
Singapore
Slovenia
South Africa
Taiwan
Turkey
United Arab Emirate
Uruguay
Yugoslavia

Thanks.

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A Folk Song is Something You Don't Hear on the Radio 

So, I've been thinking about Phil Ochs quite a bit lately. This shouldn't be any particular surprise, as he's probably my favorite singer/songwriter. He had a gift for both biting satire and metaphor that I find strongly appeals to my own sensibilities. And although he could often be highly political and topical, he lacked the narrow focus of vision that gives so much music of that nature a limited shelf-life. And he was hardly one to play the political dogma card. If you were on "his side" but you were still doing what he felt was wrong, he'd call you out on it. But there's something about the last couple of months that has been bringing me back to some of Phil's more overtly political songs. I think it's the cylcical nature of politics. Although the songs were mostly written about forty years ago, they still seem frighteningly topical and current.

I mean, let's look briefly at Draft Dodger Rag's closing verse:

... One thing you gotta see
That someone's gotta go over there
and that someone isn't me
So I wish you well, Sarge, give 'em Hell
Yeah, Kill me a thousand or so
And if you ever get a war without blood and gore
Well I'll be the first to go


I mean, not only does that aptly summarize what so many of today's chicken-hawks were doing back then, it also nicely applies to a lot of the arm-chair generals of today.

And did I mention that he wasn't content to let his side bask in the glow of their supposed moral superiority? He once famously defined a liberal as someone who is "ten degrees to the left of center in good times, ten degree to the right if it affects them personally." Which, again, in Love Me, I'm a Liberal worked then, and still works for those members of the Democratic party who have abandoned the progressive cause, or like Nader only ape the speech of progressive causes to feed their own egos.

Once I was young and impulsive
I wore every conceivable pin
Even went to the socialist meetings
Learned all the old union hymns
But I've grown older and wiser
And that's why I'm turning you in
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal


Outside of a Small Circle of Friends still stands as one of the most stinging indictments of the casual cruelty Americans are capable of inflicting upon one another.

Oh look outside the window, there's a woman being grabbed
They've dragged her to the bushes and now she's being stabbed
Maybe we should call the cops and try to stop the pain
But Monopoly is so much fun, I'd hate to blow the game
And I'm sure it wouldn't interest anybody
Outside of a small circle of friends


Which isn't to say that he was always critical. He wrote what is probably one of the most patriotic songs I've ever heard, Power and Glory, which, ironically enough, was once co-opted by Anita Bryant's anti-gay crusades in Florida.

Here is a land full of power and glory
Beauty that words cannot recall
Oh her power shall rest on the strength of her freedom
Her glory shall rest on us all

Yet she's only as rich as the poorest of her poor
Only as free as the padlocked prison door
Only as strong as our love for this land
Only as tall as we stand


But the song I keep coming back to the most, the song that I haven't been able to get out of my head for weeks, is the song that most describes how I feel about my country right now, and the people leading it. And it's the song I'm going to be humming to myself when I go into the voting booth tomorrow. So here it is, in it's entirety.

The War is Over by Phil Ochs

Silent Soldiers on a silver screen
Framed in fantasies and dragged in dream
Unpaid actors of the mystery
The mad director knows that freedom will not make you free
And what's this got to do with me

I declare the war is over
It's over, it's over

Drums are drizzling on a grain of sand
Fading rhythms of a fading land
Prove your courage in the proud parade
Trust your leaders where mistakes are almost never made
And they're afraid that I'm afraid

I'm afraid the war is over
It's over, it's over

Angry artists painting angry signs
Use their vision just to blind the blind
Poisoned players of a grizzly game
One is guilty and the other gets the point to blame
Pardon me if I refrain

I declare the war is over
It's over, it's over

So do your duty, boys, and join with pride
Serve your country in her suicide
Find the flags so you can wave goodbye
But just before the end even treason might be worth a try
This country is too young to die

I declare the war is over
It's over, it's over

One-legged veterans will greet the dawn
And they're whistling marches as they mow the lawn
And the gargoyles only sit and grieve
The gypsy fortune teller told me that we'd been deceived
You only are what you believe

I believe the war is over
It's over, it's over





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