Posts Tagged ‘Comics’

RATING RECENT READS

❤ = LOVE

☠ = EXTREME DISLIKE

☃ = INDIFFERENCE

It’s simple: a GREEN HEART means I loved the book, a RED SKULL & CROSSBONES means I extremely disliked the book (I attempt to reserve the word HATE for things I truly hate– and I try not to hate on inanimate objects) and the INDIFFERENT PINK SNOWMAN is just a “Meh. Who cares?” moment.

I offer short commentary with very few– if any– spoilers!

I’ll leave it up to you to decide if it is worse that I dislike a book or worse that I don’t give a shit either way.

Please note that the books are not listed in any particular order.

RECENT READS

Cross your legs! You're a QUEEN now!

☃ Queen Sonja Volume 1 GN ($19.99, Dynamite) It’s no fun to read something that is mediocre– and Queen Sonja is mediocre. Like many of Dynamite’s fantasy/action books– the story just sort of wanders around– lamely attempting to fulfill its’ obvious predetermined destiny. You get no real sense of danger or gravitas or immediacy — just one mindless action sequence after another. Unfortunately, writer Joshua Ortega has also written a script that relies on a subtle drawing technique– with many panels sporting no dialogue or words of any kind. This is extremely problematic because the quiet– yet important–moments seem totally lost to artist Mel Rubi’s pedestrian art style. Rubi’s work is fine for all-out action sequences– but lacks the detail and finesse needed to get across the silent sections in Ortega’s script.

Dynamite’s Red Sonja has always been just a tick above bland… But Sonja’s ascension to Queen– obviously meant to inject a new wrinkle into the time-worn sword and sorcery formula– may actually make matters worse. To satisfy readers, creators will need to keep the action scenes frequent and in the forefront… Yet does it make sense for a Queen to risk life and limb every time an angry Minotaur or pissy Priest shows up for a grudge match? Wait. Check that. This is a Red Sonja book. Rational plotting doesn’t matter– nor has it really ever had a place– here.

And the whole barely dressed thing– now that Sonja’s spending days sitting on a cold, hard throne? Rubi still draws Sonja with less clothes than most artists do… But Nerd Alert™! Our fire-haired Hyborian Cocktease now spends half the book fully clothed! I don’t see that sitting well with Mr. Fanboy. But then, if you’re still buying this comic book for the Tits ‘n Ass Quotient™– then the review above isn’t going to help– or mean a damn thing to you– at all.

Snyder, Albuquerque & King: A Dream Team

❤ American Vampire Volume 1 HC ($24.99, DC/Vertigo) Been waiting for this collection since I first saw the comic released in floppy form. The great reviews only made it more of a lustful object. Now that I’ve had it in my hands, I can say American Vampire met all my expectations and then some. I always  that think when you read QUALITY comics, you should try to give the creators (if you can stand it) anywhere from 5 to 10 issues to hit their stride. Sure there’s shit out there that’s only going to smell worse with each subsequent issue (see the Lobo: Highway to Hell review below)– but I am talking quality work here. American Vampire is top-notch snuff. Snyder delivers a clever script filled with clever bits and Stephen King seems reinvigorated by challenge of writing in a different medium. The writer of Cujo and The Stand also does Snyder a huge solid by making certain that everyone reading his foreword knows that AV is Snyder’s baby– and King is just a happy hired hand. Rafael Albuquerque’s art is bold and straight-forward and not afraid to play in the sunlight. That’s important since most Vampire/Horror comics overdose on the dark foggy gloom and doom. It’s going to be a long, hard to wait for Volume 2!

Not much GOOD, a lot of BAD and the whole damn thing is UGLY

☃ The Good, the Bad and the Ugly GN ($19.99, Dynamite) I normally hate to do this because it seems extremely cheeky– but here I go anyway: Do you see the Queen Sonja review that starts off this post? Please go there and replace Chuck Dixon as the writer and Estev Polls as the artist– and that review works for this review because this Dynamite book suffers from the exact same problems. I like Chuck Dixon’s work but here it reads as if he threw in the towel when he saw the pedestrian nature of Polls’ art. As a comic book writer, one of the worst, most disappointing things that can happen to you creatively is to see your story turned into mush by an average artist. (The same curse, of course, can apply to artists who must struggle to elevate boring scripts with astounding art.) But make no mistake: Polls art is bland, bland, bland… Made even worse by Marc Rueda’s monotone coloring. Marc never sees anything in any these Old West tales he doesn’t want to color a nice shade of shit brown. And that’s a shame too. Polls and Rueda need to take a long look at American Vampire (also reviewed directly above). Not everything in the past need look covered in 2 inches of sepia-toned dirt.

Also, on a side note just to artist Polls: Believe it or not, not every bandit of Mexican descent looked exactly the same back then and not every Apache dressed in the same pair of pants, vest and matching scarf/headband (with only minor variations). Your characters look like they came out of Central Casting on some old black & white 1950′s TV Western. In truth, there may be more subtleties in Polls’ art than we can see– but that’s what happens when somebody colors everything in the damn book the color of two-day old mud.

Another "TRICK" cover. Art is NOT half as good inside

☃ G.I. Joe Disavowed Volume 1 GN (19.99, IDW) I am relatively new to this whole G.I. Joe comic book thing. I was dragged in after reading several excellent stories by Chuck Dixon. (There’s that guy again– this time referred to in my usual positive manner.) Too bad– but this book wasn’t written by Chuck. The story in Disavowed– written by Josh Blaylock– seemed decent enough but I had to quit reading the book half-way through because of the cartoony art by Steve Kurth and Eric Wolfe Hanson. To me, when you’re doing this kind of stiff– where you ask the reader to suspend belief and agree that there  are actual military machines and various apparatuses that can do these amazing things– the artwork has to be grounded in reality. This art isn’t. It also gets a little more cartoony as the story progresses.. So I lost interest and stopped reading the book. I will avoid both of these artists in the future– unless their style changes significantly. If you like that crazy, lazy art that passes for Saturday morning cartoons now— maybe you’ll enjoy it. Just not for me.

Me like this Joe

❤ G.I. Joe Volume 3 GN ($19.99, IDW) This book– primarily written by Chuck Dixon and drawn by Robert Atkins & S.L. Gallant– is the exact anti-thesis of  G.I. Joe Disavowed (reviewed above). Dixon’s story is well paced, laced with lots humor and seems to have a full understanding of the subtle esoterica deeply embedded in the G.I. Joe experienceand can effectively explain those points to new readers. (Like me.) Atkins/Gallant make for a potent art team– as they explore Dixon’s story across with professional clarity. Volume also has a back story by Brian Reed– who published some excellent work on the late, lamented Ms. Marvel comic.

How about calling this "We Will Disappoint You"?

☠ We Will Bury You GN ($17.99, IDW) Oh, I did not like this book at all. I always try my best to support smaller publishers (although IDW– like Dark Horse– is not exactly small any more). I also make a point of supporting new creators whenever and wherever I can. That’s why I buy 99% of the indie books that I do. But I also don’t throw my money around willy-nilly.  Every week, I attempt to at least glance at a few pages of preview art before making my final decisions on each of the books I buy– especially if I am not familiar with the titles or the creators. After all, this isn’t the Bank of Insideman.

These searches can be very time-consuming each week (depending on the number of hardcovers and trades released)… But I do reasonably expect to be entertained by the stuff I buy. That’s why story previews are crucial… I am able to weed out the few books that don’t interest me– normally based on art. (Story quality is very hard to determine in 4 to 6 pages.)

I’ve written it on the SAYL Blog many times before and I’ll write it again: If publishers make it near impossible for me to find a preview of a book I have NEVER even heard of before– there’s a 99% chance I will not be bothered to purchase it. My reasoning– if the makers/publishers are trying that hard to not show a preview… I’ve got to believe the book is bad news. Makes sense, right?

Well, I could not find a preview for We Will Bury You– but given its zombie story, I thought “What the Hell?”–  as I was partially taken in by the cool Ben Templesmith cover. Unfortunately (with the strains of The Who’s “Don’t Get Fooled Again” blistering the inside of my brain cavity), What the Hell quickly turned into What the Fuck?

The art inside this book was so stylized (in a bad way) that I stopped reading after only 7 pages. I quickly thumbed through the rest of the collection and saw nothing that would make me change my mind. Weirdly, I may have really liked Kyle Strahm’s art on a different independent book– say a Sherlock Holmes mystery… But the cartoony aspect of  his work here was an abysmal style choice by everyone involved: the artist, the editor and the publisher… Just irritating as hell.

On a side note: I do not want to give the impression that I  stop reading books on a whim. It is very unusual for me to quit reading anything that I have purchased. I try to enjoy every book I buy to end– considering I spent my hard-earned money on it. But when something like the art in this graphic novel is so wrong for the subject matter… Sometimes it is just better that I stop, cut my losses, make a mental note for the future and move on.

Losing Traction

Incorruptible Volume 2 GN ($16.99, Boom! Studios) It actually pains me to give this collection a so-so PINK SNOWMAN rating. Why? Because I very much enjoy Mark Waid’s Irredeemable series, and  I want Incorruptible to be just as good. The first volume of Incorruptible excited me on two levels: #1 it was good #2 I thought it was extremely ballsy to start another title that was the yin to Irredeemable’s yang… Especially so soon after the first series had just launched. Crapping out on the second series could harm the first series. Thankfully, I can report that nobody’s crapping out here… But the 2nd volume of Incorruptible was not as good as the first. The writing seemed a little rushed. The art even more so. None of this is so dire that I’ll stop reading it. I just want it to get back on track quick.

Another Tomasi Triumph

❤ The Mighty Volume 2 GN ($17.99, DC ) I liked Peter J. Tomasi before I even knew I liked Peter J. Tomasi. Weird, huh? Let me explain, as this happens to me every once in a while: I pick up a book and start reading it. The writer is a complete unknown to me. By the end of the book, I go,” Wow! That was great!” Then I don’t read anything by the writer for a while. Then I finally read another collection and I think the writer is great again. Normally by my third “literary surprise”– I  get the message and indelibly associate the great writing next to the great writer’s name. This is exactly what happened to me with Tomasi’s run on Green Lantern Corps.

I believe his GL Corps represents the absolute best Corps stories DC has ever printed– by far. That’s a roundabout way to simply state that Tomasi’s The Mighty is also a fantastic comic. It’s a different, fresh take… Just off-kilter enough to cement its position as another great addition to the growing Super-Hero with a God Complex genre.  If you are a little slow on the uptake (like me), remember Tomasi’s name. Even though he has written a lot of DC comics– I have a feeling he’s just getting started on the really good stuff!

Getting Better Every Time

Atomic Robo Volume Four: Atomic Robo and Other Strangeness GN ($17.95, Red 5) I tweeted Atomic Robo writer Brian Clevinger the other day to tell him how much I enjoyed Volume 5 of Atomic Robo. He politely (and very cleverly) wrote back that I must be psychic– as Volume 4 (not 5) was just released… And it would be a while before Volume 5 saw print– as all the stories had not even been written. I replied that I was, indeed, psychic and expected Atomic Robo Volume 5 to be the BEST YET. Of course, I can’t really see into the future– but I can say it is just this type of clever writing that makes Clevinger’s Atomic Robo sing off the page. Clevinger now fully understands the world he has created around Robo and he uses it extensively and gleefully.

You can tell that he and artist Scott Wegener are having an awful lot of fun. I have always advocated that the best Film and TV comedies come about because everyone involved– the writer, director and cast are having fun. Now that Robo is successful (and getting ever more so)– I really do expect more of the same excellent stories from Clevinger and Wegener. These two are at the top of their respective games and it shows. The other nice thing about Atomic Robo? Adults and kids can both read the book with equal enjoyment and abandon– as Clevinger writes on many levels throughout the collection. Score one for the good guys!

Beautiful in its simplicity

❤ Zerokiller GN ($16.99, Dark Horse) Strangely, I sometimes have more issues when I read a great graphic novel then when I read a bad one. When I begin reading a new series and realize that I really like it– I start wondering if the publisher is continuing the story in floppy form past the book I hold in my hands. It always sucks when you’re near the end of a great story– especially if there is no Volume 2 already sitting in your stack.

I seriously don’t know whether Dark Horse is still printing this book– and there is a simple reason: I don’t want to know. Especially not in advance of my reading the story. I don’t want the good or bad publishing news to sway my feelings on the story one way or the other. I don’t mind if I know details– but I also don’t actively attempt to find out. (Hopefully that makes sense.)

Even though Arvid Nelson’s story mimics some of the same elements in Warren Ellis’ FreakAngels (Zerokiller takes place in a post apocalyptic flooded Manhattan, FreakAngels in a similarly hobbled future London)– I still find myself very attracted to the simplicity of Nelson’s story. There are also some very entertaining text inserts in every chapter. Normally writers use these inserts to flesh out their future worlds– and I can find them to be extremely tedious. But Arvid’s futuristic pamphlets are a MUST READ for anyone who wants to experience the full Zerokiller story.

I just finished reading Zerokiller and I thought it was very good. A promising start. I can’t wait for Vol 2. Given the last page of this volume, I hope there is– or will be– another one soon.

This ISN'T the Highway to Hell. This IS hell.

☠ Lobo: Highway to Hell ($19.99, DC Comics) Scott Ian, rhythm guitarist for Anthrax, is a self-professed comic book fan who admits to never having written a comic book before the 2 issue Prestige Format Lobo series that DC collects here. All I can say is, “Fuck man, it shows– because your repetitive story and simplistic dialogue really, really blows.” I found this to be the worst comic I have read in many years…. And I extremely disliked almost every frigging panel of it!

Naturally, I blame DC Comics for this debacle. I mean, what were they smoking when they asked the rocker to write this book in the first place? Did they mistake him for someone with actual comic book scripting talent? In the collection’s foreword, Ian states that he readily admitted his second thoughts to DC Brass– but was assured by various folks that they were assigning an excellent editor to walk him through the process. WTF? There are hundreds of more talented writers who would give their left nut (or ovary– I don’t want to be sexist here) to write any DC comic with any character… And they pick this guy?

Simply put, Ian’s story is rife with predictable crap, sophomoric jokes/ puns and one-note bullshit. Sam Keith’s art looks like he’s continuously drawing a rat’s nest on amateur night. Seriously. Monkey’s and elephants draw better than this. Still, I can understand a first time writer being captivated with it. I was taken with the art almost every time I saw one of my comic script pages come to life. Sure, I knew when I was looking at crap art too… But it was crap art drawn from my crap story– so I was always prejudiced… Just like Scott Ian is here.

But this shit? I am very familiar with Keith’s work. Given the premise of Highway to Hell– I fully expected something “out there” from the artist. What I didn’t expect: Keith scribbling like he forgot how to fucking draw. Or Keith deliberately seeming to turn in the shittiest art job of his life to see if  DC would be stupid enough to pay his page rate for it. On a good day, none of these scratchings remotely resemble what I consider to be Keith’s art work. In fact, every single page reminds me of what you would expect from an artist drawing while completely drunk, on a wet cocktail napkin with a bleeding black felt tip pen.

Here’s a couple more reasons I don’t like this… Whatever it is: #1 It depresses me that DC would even print this book. It’s existence shows a shocking lack of taste and good judgment, #2 It also upsets me that DC would then reprint this shit into a collection. Not content with just thoroughly butt-fucking their monthly customers, they also felt the need to ream their hardcover and graphic novel customers too (and at what must be a much higher price point than the original comics) and finally, #3 DC is known to possess many unpublished stories with one thing in common:  They were all pulled from publication (many at the last second)– with the overriding excuse being that the company found the completed works far too risqué or edgy for publication. Thankfully, it now seems that some of these comics will finally see print…But what really puzzles me– if DC can be so steadfastly against publishing a quality story because is supposedly contains objectionable content– why wouldn’t anybody take a stand and call Lobo: Highway to Hell an unprintable piece of shit and shelve it?

Just once I would like to see one of these companies step up and say, “Sorry creators but your story didn’t turn out as planned. In fact, it sucks. Here’s your paychecks– but don’t expect this to see print.”

I know it’s “pie in the sky” to even entertain the thought that something like this scenario might ever happen in a big corporation.

Would you pay $19.99 for a year-end collection of comics that DC deemed so shitty they couldn’t possibly print them as regular releases? Maybe one issue of each never printed book (two if a series was truly filled with horrendous shit)– just to show us what they could have published… But didn’t because they respect us too much? This way DC could recoup some of their money on these bad series/investments and we could reward them for not trying to force crap on us under the guise of quality.

Would you pay for a “Best of the Worst” collection like that?

Brothers & Sisters, People of Earth… I would gladly pay DOUBLE THAT $19.99 PRICE… Especially if it meant that I never had to waste my money or– more importantly, my time– on shit like Lobo: Highway to Hell.

By all that’s holy, if you have been fortunate to avoid this series so far– please stay the fuck away from this thing.

☞See you soon with another review column– if reading some of these craptaculars doesn’t kill me first!

Please remember to check my first Hardcover and Graphic Novel review column– where I review 30– count ‘em 30– recent collections.

CLICK HERE TO BE TAKEN THERE!

And it’s empty…

Manga & Wine... Yum.

…Just like my dreams of ever reading all these books.

Yes, each shelf is stacked TWO ROWS DEEP. Yes, there are FOUR MORE shelves just like this one.*

In all seriousness, I will finish every one of them… As soon as my clones arrive.

*Yes, CCW*TV Blog Readers– I really did listen to you… ALL of you!

WHEN ONE POST IS NOT ENOUGH!

What's wrong Comic Book Guy? Angry customers got you down?

After receiving tons of personal emails and several great posts on my Quit Spending Your Money with Assholes post– my fellow collectors made me realize I had forgotten TWO VERY BAD THINGS shitty retailers do.

So let’s just pretend I was smart enough to remember to add these thoughts to my original post:

#8 Retailers– Stop PADDING your customer’s Pull List.

You do NOT want to meet me in this condition!

Goodness, how did I forget about this? Maybe because I am not a small guy. An ex-football player/amateur boxer, almost 6′ 3″… I don’t tend to get fucked with. If I do, my practiced looks of death (old school Clint Eastwood stuff) or my shitty, arguably esoteric over-the-top comments (either meant to stun or kill)– combined with the above physical attributes, normally leaves the average punk asshole pissing their pants.

But yet, an asshole comic store owner or two– on occasion– has still been ballsy enough to pad my Pull List.

For the record, I do not think Pull List’s are sacrosanct… Especially if a customer is open to try new books or tends to have a heart attack if they miss out on the next big thing (like Chew #1 or New Mutants #12 or whatever).

If the store owner and the customer have an understanding– and especially if the buyer has a flexible budget– then I see absolutely nothing wrong to a retailer adding a few books to their pile… With one very important caveat: Retailers– Don’t fucking pitch a bitch fit if the consumer decides they don’t agree with your picks! Even if you approach your additions with the utmost consideration and with the best of intentions… Not everything you put aside for your collectors is going to line up with their sensibilities… So understand you are running a fucking business not a social club or a praise the retailer parlor… And you must allow other people to have opinions too. If your customer doesn’t want a book, live with it. If they’re like a lot of guys I know who let their retailers pull extra books here and there… Then they buy more books than they ever put back. Lots more.

Besides, if they don’t want a first print of Chew #1, I’m certain you’ll be able to find something else to do with it.

WHICH BRINGS ME TO…

Retailers-- if you TAKE from your customers... You are NOT this guy!

#9 Retailers- Don’t you DARE take books OUT of customer Pull List piles! If you do, you are nothing more than a common thief. It’s simple. When a customer hands you a Pull List– you both enter into a contract. The customer informally (or formally, depending upon the shop) agrees to buy all the books you hold for them and you agree to provide said books for the customer– as long as something beyond your control doesn’t occur. (Your death. Shop burns down. Distributor truly shorts your copies.)

So assuming that the customer orders the books and the retailer provides the books– everything should work perfectly, right?

Well, you’ve forgotten about GREED.

Just like the little pissant mole no one’s ever seen before– who runs into a shop to clear out all the remaining first print copies of Green Arrow #31 because they hear they’re “rare”– retailers can get itchy fingers too. All of a sudden that Chew 1st Print sitting in “Fred’s” subscriber pile starts to look a lot better on eBay for $60– especially since Fred hasn’t come in to pick up his comics in over a month.

Retailers, I’m telling every one of you that’s a greedy asshole– DON’T DO IT. Fuck the bad karma points related to such an immature, asinine move. If you screw over your customers by not giving them the books they ordered– they will leave your store. You can tell them they look like a pussy– even call their mother’s a whore– and they will still stick around… But if you don’t pull their books or don’t keep the “hot” ones in their pile… They will run away from you faster than Danny Glover sprinting away from a chance meeting with Mel Gibson at Nobu Malibu.

And here’s another way that playing fast and loose with the “hot” books on people’s Pull Lists will bite you in the ass. You know those geeks that you think spend most of their time reading Power Girl comics with one hand… Thinking that leaves them little time or energy to do anything else– much less talk?

Well, nowadays they do “talk”. Not face to face mind you but by posting on Blogs like this one (or others currently more popular than this one), while they’re on xBox Live… or on Twitter. Or Facebook. Or MySpace. And one of the main things they do is talk/tweet/text/post about that no-good Fat Ass that screwed them out of a 1st print of Amazing Spider-Man #583And then they call you and your store by name.

Tempt the scorn of an internet-connected fanboy at your own peril.

THE FLIP SIDE

And while it’s easy to think from these 2 articles that I hate retailers... I don’t! In fact, I find the large majority of comic book retailers are honest, well-intentioned business people– often fans attempting to make a living off a medium they love. I don’t hate comic book retailers… I hate bad, nasty, petty, greedy schlubs who pass themselves off as comic medium lovers– when they are nothing but small-minded opportunists.

The books you order cost money whether you buy them or not.

That clarified, the customer also needs to pick up the slack in their end of the near-Faustian bargain between comic buyer and comic retailer. Don’t let your books sit in a retailer’s pull box forever. (And by forever, I mean more than a couple of weeks… and waiting a month may as well be a lifetime.) Unless you have a prior arrangement with your retailer– there is NO good excuse for NOT picking up the merchandise you ordered in a timely fashion.

If you have a sudden family emergency or work assignment that will keep you away from the comic store for weeks at a time… Take 2 seconds and call, email or text the retailer to let them know. And don’t try to tell me you can’t find a few seconds to make the call or tap out an email. Even in the most grave of circumstances (barring your own inability to communicate due to sickness or accident) there is NO palatable excuse to leave your retailer hanging… Especially if they pull a lot of titles and/or hold other pricey merchandise for you.

Just like you, these people go to work every week in hopes of making a few bucks to survive long enough to order new books for another day. When you leave your books languishing in their customer bins– you are hurting your retailer. They have to pay for these things whether you do or not… And since you ordered these books, you have an iron clad obligation to pay for them… I don’t care how shitty your life or financial situation is.

Life's tough-- don't run from your obligations. Pick up your comics!

If say, you lose your jobDon’t play Mr. Cool. Tell your comic book store owner. 9 out of 10 times, the retailer will work with you. Some will even let you slide totally scot-free. And the others that ask you to rack up another couple of hundred on your credit cards to fulfill your obligations? They are within their rights to do so… And you should quit whining and pay them. The cool things about comics and related memorabilia: You can jump on eBay and sell the shit tomorrow that you purchased yesterday. Be creative. The last thing you want to do is stick any decent business with your problems… Especially most “Mom & Pop” comic stores that– like a lot of other small businesses– are currently one bad week away from going under. Man up, Woman up– and go pay the piper.

One final thought on Pull List management: If you see a rough cash flow situation in your near (or far) future… Be a smart, decent person and take the titles off your list that you’re most willing to pass on in a cash crunch. And drop your Pull List altogether if you even think you will not fulfill your obligations to your retailer. You’re a much better person if you don’t knowingly leave someone holding merchandise you know in advance you are not going to pay for– just because you can’t bring yourself to “own up” to your financial condition.

In the end, the retailer/buyer boils down to one common theme: Trust.

If you can trust your retailer, celebrate them. If you can trust your customers, celebrate them. Without trust and the follow through that earns it– there is nothing between you… Certainly no respectAnd you both need to go your separate ways.

Since I am a 99.9% “Wait for the Hardcover or the Trade Paperback” kind of guy, I’m going to put my money where my mouth is and let you know what I’m buying every week. Since people keep asking why I buy so many books every week, I expect all you floppy readers to tell me what I am doing right and what I am doing wrong… And I may even chime in on occasion and defend my choices. Not that a personal preference should need defending, mind you…

I might also point out why I am not buying some stuff as well… And the list may also generate a rant or expose a pet peeve… Just like this week’s list did (again)… So watch out for that!

I truly have to question what a publisher is thinking when they willfully release 5 “Campfire” Editions in one week… And what distributor allows it to happen. Seems awfully excessive and counter productive. I bet they could have sold twice as many of these books if someone had the damned foresight to understand they were overloading the distribution pipeline with this particular product type. Of course, the distributor and the publisher don’t care. They sold their books as non-returnable to comic book stores– so they’ll do just fine. It’s the comic store owner that’ll take it in the “shorts” with this book line this week– as customers quickly realize they cannot afford to buy 5 classic adaptations at one time. This bullshit dumping is the exact subject of my recent post, COMIC BOOK RELEASE BS*.

I’m also finally holding strong with my promise to stop buying books that no longer entertain or impress me.

I have noticed that with the rise of the personal computer– even “5th rate” shitty artists and writers now have access to tools that disguise the amateur nature of their art and story. Some of these books that I– and many other comic fans– have paid good money for do not come remotely close to surpassing the quality that I’ve seen in some of the crudest homegrown “fanzines” produced in the 70′s and ’80′s. If some person wouldn’t pay 25 cents for a quality fanzine in 1974… Then it’s time for me to stop rewarding crappy artists and writers by paying $19.99 for their shit collections today.

I’m all for supporting the indie scene. In fact, most of my book purchases fall outside of the Big Two publishers. But now it seems like every ass with an Intel processor and $3k burning a whole in his or her pocket fancies themselves a top-notch comic book entrepreneur.

So I’m here to put such deluded “creators” on notice: If you make it near impossible for me to find “art previews” for your collections, I will not buy them anymore. I tire of being shocked by pathetic art and a juvenile story sense. If you burn me with a shit trade or hardcover once– do not expect me to continue to pay for your graphic arts or creative writing educations.

That’s what Student Loans are for… And this “easy mark” has finally started closing his wallet.

THIS WEEK’S HARDCOVERS, GRAPHIC NOVELS & MANGA

Alice in Wonderland Campfire (#1)
Amory Wars Ultimate Edition HC (Was not impressed with Volume 1, passing on the Ultimate Edition)
Angel Hole In The World (I’ve given up on IDW’s Angel. Certainly don’t need an episode retread)
Avengers Invaders (Already own the hardcover)
Batman Arkham Reborn
Brain Camp
Captain America Theater of War (Already own the hardcover)
Cinderella From Fabletown With Love (Shawn McManus is one of my favorite artists. I wish he drew more comics!)

Shawn McManus' art is the shit, baby!

Complete Dracula (Already own the hardcover)
Corrective Measures Vol 2 (The first volume stank… No second chances here)
Creature Tech (Image Edition)
Cyberforce Hunter Killer
Dark Tower Battle Of Jericho Hill HC
El Arsenal Vol 1 (This looks really cool)

Escape From Terra Vol 1 (This looks possibly cool too)
Fogtown HC (I have been enjoying ALL of the Vertigo Crime books)
Frankenstein Campfire
GI Joe Origins Vol 3 (Started reading these. Don’t know why. They are really fun sometimes.)
Harry Houdini Campfire (#2)
Hellspawn Complete Collection HC (Should I buy this? Maybe I will. Maybe I won’t.)
Hulk Fall Of The Hulks Savage She-Hulks
John Stanley Library Nancy Vol 2 HC
Losers Book 2 (Great books. Forget the movie. Read the books!)
Luke Cage Noir (Already own the hardcover)
Magog Lethal Force
Milo Ventimiglia Presents Berserker Vol 1 (We’ll see…)

Sign me up... Even though I have NO IDEA what I am getting into!

Moby Dick Campfire (#3)
Punisher Max Naked Kills (I love Punisher Max)
Robinson Crusoe Campfire (#4)
Robocop Vol 1 Revolution (We’ll see…)

Shadoweyes Vol 1 (From the creator of Wet Moon. Looking forward to it!)
Sherlock Holmes Study in Scarlet (Already own it and The Hound of the Baskervilles)
Sonic The Hedgehog Archives Vol 13
Spider-Man Gauntlet Vol 4 Juggernaut HC
Starmaker Leviathan (This is one of those leap of faiths that I am less and less inclined to take lately)
Tarzan the Jesse March Years Vol 6 HC (Great series. Art is not for me)
Thief Of Always (Read a previous edition. Was not taken with the pencils-only art)
Treasure Island Campfire (#5!)
Walord of IO Vol 1 (Just didn’t like the art-deco style art)

MANGA

Bakuman Vol 1 (I hear good things…)
Ikigami Ultimate Limit Vol 6
InuYasha Vol 51
Negima Vol 27
Starcraft Ghost Academy Vol 2 (Amazed this is coming out! Volume 2 took so long to come out, I thought it was canceled!)

I put "Shadoweyes" into a Google Search and THIS PHOTO came up... So I'm rolling with it!

Tezuka’s Black Jack Vol 12 (I should read this, huh? Almost everybody seems to praise it!)

Imagine if this was the only way to your local comic book store.

Sales of overpriced DC Absolute Editions and Marvel Omnibi* would plummet!

(*The plural for Omnibus)

Yeah, an iPad has all kinds of bells and whistles-- but can it fit on a Spinner Rack?

The SAVIOR or the DEVIL… Depending on who you ask.

Apple may take a 30% vig on those millions of applications offered for sale in their APPS Store– but they earn PENNIES for each iTunes track or “album” purchased. This is well-known. Why is Apple willing to do this? Because they want to sell more iPods. They are willing to have the iTunes store “break even” (I’m sure it does better than that) to make the majority of their ca$h on their hardware.

Apples used the “pennies per track’ defense fighting the Music Industry… Whose major players insisted that they be allowed to up the price of individual songs from .99 cents to $1.29. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was afraid he would sell

Ice will tell you it's ALWAYS been "All about the Benjamins"

less iPods because of the price increase. This was also the same reason Amazon fought the book distributors over selling Digital eBooks for more than $9.99. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos worried he’d sell less Kindle eReaders. Jobs would be having this exact BATTLE with book publishers now that Apple has released the iPad– except Bezos already lost.

Neither titan had to worry. Digital content prices went up and their hardware sales still increased… As more and more consumers decided to indulge in the new gadgets.

Unfortunately, it seems that many Comic Book Store Owners are under the pie-in-the-sky impression that Marvel, DC and the other comic book publishers will somehow use this new platform to aid their retail stores. Some retailers are so deluded, they’ve actually convinced themselves that the major 2 comic publishers (Marvel & DC) will use digital comic delivery as a means to “help” them “recruit” new customers for their comic stores.

And maybe they will– initially– if it makes the right economic sense for them. But if Marvel & DC can make more money on digital comics by foregoing all PHYSICAL distribution– meaning every single “Brick & Mortar” comic store would go “poof”… They would do so tomorrow in a gnat’s heartbeat.

We’re all dealing with DISNEY now. The same Disney that opens retail stores by the thousands, then runs the same stores into the ground– and closes 3/4 of them tomorrow without batting an eye. (That’s how little something like retail sales means to Disney’s massive bottom line.)

Disney entering the comic game– coupled with the SUPERHERO MOVIE BOOM– has finally awakened Time-Warner… And they are suddenly treating DC like a more significant Corporate Cog. In fact, given recent rumors, I can easily predict that DC Comics will be moving their headquarters to Los Angeles any day now. Disney Studios has lots of land and lots of cash to build more buildings.

HOPE YOU LIKE DRIVING IN RUSH HOUR, DC EMPLOYEES!

Former DC Publisher Paul Levitz was the linchpin in keeping the old comics distribution paradigm alive. Since he’s not there anymore– and since the SUPERHERO MOVIE Can no longer be ignored… Everything is going to change. Things will change so much– that I’m afraid a previously unreleased, unpublished Warren Ellis Hellblazer comic finally seeing print is not going to make up for all wacky new stuff we’ll be forced to do if we want to keep reading these things.

Luckily for me (and every other retailer and collector)– most of this (except DC’s cross-country move) is a ways away from now.

Which is good for me, as I simply refuse to read comics on a computer or any other electronic gizmo. (I can barely stand to view short comic book previews on a LCD screen of any kind… So digital comics are definitely out for me as a reading option.) I like the tactile sensation of holding a book. I like being able to bury my nose in the paper pages (unless the book was printed in China of course).

But I’m an old man by today’s standards. Sooner than I’d like, kids will grow up not knowing what paper periodicals are.

Many comics have long been printed as loss leaders for merchandising sales anyway. I once had a DC Bigwig tell me that the Wonder

It's "Do or Die" with the Benjamins.

Woman comic hadn’t made any real profit (or had lost money) since the ’60′s… But DC couldn’t afford to stop publishing it because of the huge yearly windfall they received from merchandising the only RECOGNIZABLE Female Superhero. DC felt (and rightly so), that if they didn’t show they were making the effort to publish at least one MONTHLY Wonder Woman comic– that they would seem to be abandoning the character… And they would severely harm Wonder Woman’s merchandising potential.

As stated above, Brick & Mortar Comic Book Stores will CEASE to EXIST (as we know them) if the Big Two decide one day to go all digital, all the time.

But I don’t need to tell retailers any of this. The smart ones already get it. DISNEY could care less about them– and will violently jilt every comic book retailer the MINUTE they figure out how to make more money on comics utilizing the DIGITAL MEDIUM.

As costs for physical distribution– including gas, paper, ink and other essential materials continues to rise– comics (especially floppies) will eventually price themselves out of the market. (Hell, they’re almost there now.)

I’m not relishing this occurring in the least. But it WILL happen.

Pissed off about comic book quality now? Wait until you have to spend $80 of your own paper and printer ink to print out some great comic you’ve just read on your iPad… Because one day soon– that’s the only way that– you’ll be able to hold a new paper “comic book” in your hands.

I see only one silver lining to comics entering this new digital age. At least people won’t be paying exorbitant amounts to CGC to “slab” their new comics before they even read them. No physical comics– no new books smothered in an unnecessary protective plastic shell. Sorry fans that favor idiotic wastes of time, natural resources and collector’s money!  No more slabs for you!

But then again,  if you bought into the overly hyped marketed “necessity” of CGC grading– without questioning why you should have to pay someone else to grade your comics… Then reading a comic on an iPad probably seems “cool” right about now.

This isn't the question I'm asking... But it's close.

There are a lot of good comic-centric blogs out there… So I feel very privileged that you have decided to spend some of your valuable time here– reading mine. I promise that I’ll always try to do my best to make things interesting. Whether or not I actually succeed will be for you to decide.

Which brings me to this topic:

Have you ever noticed how some Bloggers post a lot of shit but don’t really take the time to delve into their subjects or report on their topics… PREFERRING TO JUST ASK QUESTIONS?

Dan Slott’s taking over Spider-Ham full-time! What do YOU think of that?

The San Diego Comic Con may move to Newfoundland! What do YOU think of that?

Better than the New Avengers?

Marvel Studios just unveiled the cast of their new Great Lakes Avengers movie! Did they make the right actor picks? Do YOU think Snookie and The Situation got the shaft?

Can you believe DC is publishing 49 Bat-Mite One-Shot Comics in October? What the heck are they thinking? What do YOU think they’re thinking? Any thoughts?

DO YOU GET THE IDEA? I THINK YOU DO… DO YOU?

It’s not lost on me that my statements concerning this issue might be misconstrued as being a little pompous– especially for mentioning this sad practice when my Blog is only a couple of weeks old. But, hey– I’ve been reading blogs since the beginning of Blogs, buster… So I think my comments have just as much validity as any other person posting on this subject via the wild, wild internet(s).

And please don’t get me wrong: I think an occasional question or poll is a GREAT THING for any blog!

Questions and polls (both of which I have already generated here) are great ways to spur interest and to solicit participation from your readership… And while many of us blog because we have things we need to get off our chests… Any blogger who says they could care less if anyone reads their blog is fooling themselves… and attempting to bullshit you. Bloggers want you to read and participate.

If Bloggers didn’t want us to read their opinions– they wouldn’t publish them. They’d just walk up and down city streets mumbling to themselves. (Which is actually what I used to do before I started to blog.)

So, with the thought of questions in mind– Why do so many damn Bloggers ask so many damn questions?

Personally, I think they’re just being lazy.

I’ve designed and constructed a blog now… I am writing a blog now… And I have already admitted twice in 2 separate posts that my admiration for Bloggers has increased tremendously. If you want to do this right– it’s not easy. And, at least for me, the only way to do this right is to actually have an opinion on 99% of the subjects I focus on here. (And if I don’t have a serious opinion– then I hope I at least have a decent enough joke to make some of you laugh!)

Why Not?

There is one comic related blog I read every day where the Blogger never stops asking fucking questions. He or she (I don’t really know their sex… I think I know but I don’t really care) starts off strong every day but then as their cell phone starts to ring or other distractions of the day start to mount, they go into SQM– Serious Question Mode. How easy do YOU think it is to post some news bite (or rumor) and then ask how people feel about it? (Let me tell you just how easy it is: It took me seconds to type the previous question.) With no real opinions to formulate, you could easily becoming the Guinness Book of World Records Blog Post Poster Child by sending those suckers off into the ether at 2, 3 or 4 an hour… And still have time to scarf down a fruit pie and guzzle a coffee.

If Blog importance or validity were measured by the sheer number of posts– my Blog would definitely have the shortest, limpest, uh, post count in town. I simply can’t write 20 posts a day and still do the things in life that pay my bills. I mean, I am enjoying the experience so far– but if you think I’m gonna lose my house over this or stop [*gasp*] making enough money to buy comics or Girls Gone Wild! DVDs because of this blog… Well, lets just say, “You don’t know me.” and leave it at that. ;-)

Plus– I don’t have 20 decent thoughts every day. There. I said it. (Sadly, my indecent thoughts are legion.) There. I said that. Too. And anybody who does think that they have 20 decent musings worth posting every day better have the first name “Stephen” and the last name “Hawking”– or I’m gonna call foul!

In the end, I am adopting a strange (for me) live and let live approach to this subject. What other Bloggers do is really none of my concern. If they want to play “20 Questions” every day, let them have at it!

I know this all probably sounds just a little crazy…

What do YOU think?!?


*Or something your Friendly Neighborhood Retailer really wishes didn’t screw YOU– and THEM– every month!

How not to run an INDUSTRY without really trying.

You go to your Local Comic Store (LCS) every week (normally on a Wednesday) to buy your comics… Or you get them shipped to you via mail order, right? And you probably figure, “How hard could this be? They’re all just shuffling some books around!” Or you might overhear the store owner complaining about getting screwed for some reason or another and then think, “What a whiner!”

Well, I’m here to tell you this Comic Book Biz AIN’T as easy as you think!

I am not going to launch into any grand detail about the intricacies of running a Comic Store– or how to operate a magazine distribution business. There are people far better qualified than I to do that.

Instead, I’m going to focus on one awful– POTENTIALLY DESTRUCTIVE– problem that affects the entire industry at least once a month… A subject that rarely, if ever, get’s discussed in the open air.

WHY DO COMIC BOOK PUBLISHERS RELEASE AN OVERWHELMING DELUGE OF PRODUCT AT THE END OF ALMOST EVERY MONTH?

Competition = GOOD Monopolies = BAD

I mean, “WTF?… Right?” Why is it you can go almost 2 months without seeing your favorite monthly comic and then at the end of the 2nd month you see 2 ISSUES in the SAME WEEK? Or 4 STATUES in one week?

And why is it that almost every time you walk into your local store at the end of the month– you are met with a monumental pile of product that you could only afford to buy if Angelina Jolie was your wife?

Who is the moron that allows this shit to happen– month after month, year after year? I mean, Hell… Comics have been around for a long time now. You’d think that the only major comics distributor would have figured out a way to stop this mad dump from occurring every month, right?

UH, NO. APPARENTLY THEY HAVEN’T

And, in my opinion (and remember, it is just my opinion), there are only 3 possible reasons why the professionals in this industry don’t fix this problem: 1) they have entered into some ridiculous distribution contracts that prohibit them from stopping the monthly crush, 2) they aren’t smart enough to fix it or 3) they don’t fucking care enough to fix it.

I’m sure most of you know that the comics you buy at your comic book store are non-returnable. Some of you may even know that certain publishers allow retailers to adjust their individual book orders higher or lower after submitting their initial orders. This practice– labeled FOC ordering– means stores can adjust their orders closer to a book’s actual release date (retailers order comics a full 3 MONTHS in advance)… And therefore the store owners can hopefully be more accurate when ordering their non-returnable product.

Sounds great doesn’t it? A long-standing system proceeding in a nice, orderly fashion: You reserve your books, your shop orders the copies they need to satisfy their customers… And then everyone sits back and relaxes as the products arrive on the day everyone expects.

To paraphrase a Justice League International J.M. DeMatteis/Keith Giffen-era Blue Beetle, “BWAH-HA-HA-HA-HA-HAAAAA!”

AND MONKEYS WILL FLY

Many companies will make a fraction of their items returnable over the course of any given year… And they do so under strict rules and guidelines accepted by the retailers, the distributor and their own business departments. Each company’s return policies are their own– and their conditions can vary widely.

How would you like me to SHOVE this THICK WOODEN CANE UP YOUR ASS at least ONCE A MONTH?

Needless to say, no company wants retailers to return ANY merchandise. For publishers and distributors– the process is a time and money consuming hassle. Workers have to he specifically hired to deal with these returns– and despite the best efforts of all the entities involved… The product rarely comes back in the same shape it originally went out in. So it’s understandable that publishers try awfully hard to never give comic book retailers a reason to demand a non-returnable book become returnable.

Here is one of the most UNIVERSAL reasons retailers can return a book: The comic is not released within a specified time frame. If an issue arrives “X” weeks past its’ scheduled due date– the companies are normally forced to take it back.

Companies rushing to publish and distribute their products before these non-returnable deadlines expire is the MAIN REASON why EVERYONE gets BURIED with comics and comic-related merchandise at the end of every month. The companies know they are behind schedule– yet they also know they have a cushion of several weeks to release their books before their product is returnable… And if they can just squeeze ‘em out and hurl them into your local store by the end of the month…

RETURN “THIS”, YOU DIZZY BITCHES

Here's another tip: He who holds ALL the cards WINS!

There are millions of reasons why the system doesn’t function as planned– from creator work delays to overseas shipments being held by customs. Very few of these fuck-ups can be fixed by any of the parties involved… Except ONE.

When a book is delayed, there is only one party in this entire process that can make the end result easier on everybody… One party that could say, “No. Wait. That’s too much stuff to all come out in just one week. It will put an unnecessary burden on the retailer and the consumer.”

And the party that could stop this? THE DISTRIBUTOR.

Understand that I’m not expecting the book publishers to fix this problem. It will be a frosty day in Hell when DC won’t release a huge book just because Marvel is releasing 2 or 3 of their best sellers as well. (And vice versa.) And the smaller comic book companies? Many are lucky to publish whenever the can… So you can’t count them in on any steady plan.

So if you can’t expect the publishing companies to release their books in an even pattern under some sort of “Gentlemen’s Agreement”… How can this CRUSH be fixed?

By the distributor instituting a reasoned allocation pattern.

Since the current distributor is the only major distributor for the vast amount of comics and merchandise you see every week, they know in advance exactly what is coming out every week. They know if Marvel is inexplicably releasing FOUR X-Men reprint volumes or 2 issues of the “weekly”  Spider-man comic in the same week. They know if DC is about to release 2 Women of the DC Universe Busts, 1 Cover Girls of the DC Universe Statue, 1 DC Chronicles Aquaman Statue and 1 Christopher Reeve as Superman Statue all in one week.

Consequently, they could stop this madness.

It's HARD to be the ONLY KING!

Wouldn’t it be nice of them to step up and say, “No more of this bullshit. We are putting undue artificial pressure on an already fragile industry in a frighteningly fragile economy… There is no reason to overload the retailer or the consumer with late merchandise that could potentially cripple them financially. You don’t want customers forced to choose between late shipping products either. In that scenario, somebody always loses. If we release these items in an orderly fashion (as originally intended)– retailers will sell more product because customers will be able to afford more product. Everyone wins.”

“So– along those lines– we are only releasing 2 DC Statues and 1 Spider-man comic book this week. Since Spider-man is only published 3 times a month– the book simply will not have a skip week this month. We will also only release only one DC Statue and one DC bust every week for the next several weeks until this unfortunate product backlog is efficiently distributed.”

“And, by the way RETAILERS– Even though these circumstances are NOT of our making and were beyond OUR control… Since we are doing our best NOT to crush you with product by artificially overloading our distribution channels with delayed items… Please note that NONE of the delayed product affected by these allocation shifts will be returnable… No matter how far the product arrives past it’s ‘due date’.”

And you know what? With one simple announcement… All the shit, all the anger, all the disappointment and all the physical, mental and financial burden that occurs every month– would stop.

Instantly.

OF COURSE, A FEW RULES WOULD BE IN ORDER

See? That WASN'T so damn HARD, was it?

Everybody would have to make certain that no publisher would deliberately abuse this new process to their advantage… And books that contained substantial creative team changes would still be returnable. (After all, a misrepresented product– whether intentionally misrepresented or not– is still a misrepresented product no matter how long it takes to reach your local store.)

With a few minor safeguards put in place– this system would ensure easier, more enjoyable comics selling and buying for all involved… Unlike the current system– which benefits only the Publishers and the Distributor during a ridiculously overloaded release week.

My guess is, if enough comic books fans and comic book retailers wrote the various publishers and the distributor… And finally stood up for their hobby and their businesses en masse by contacting the press about this chronic problem– the substantial outcry created would force an easy– yet long overdue– change in a failing system that continues to ignore the basic financial needs of its retailers and end-use consumers.

So next time you hear your retailer grumbling or find yourself silently cursing your shitty low paying job as you gaze–  financially fucked– at the huge wall of books that were all released in just one week (and that you can’t afford)… Think about getting off your ass and doing something about it.

Who knows? By approaching this idea sanely and correctly… Maybe the whole monopoly family will realize that they’re really tired of all the bitching and moaning… And a small nudge will be all that’s needed to make things a heckuva lot better!

A NEW WEEKLY FEATURE

Since I am a 99.9% “Wait for the Hardcover or the Trade Paperback” kind of guy, I’m going to put my money where my mouth is and let you know what I’m buying every week. Since people keep asking why I buy so many books every week, I expect all you floppy readers to tell me what I am doing right and what I am doing wrong… And I may even chime in on occasion and defend my choices. Not that a personal preference should need defending, mind you…

I might also point out why I am not buying some stuff as well… And the list may also generate a rant or expose a pet peeve– like this week’s list did for me!

Let’s start with this week’s RANT: This week sees Marvel releasing  FOUR X-men reprint volumes. Can you tell me why? There’s no special event or movie on the horizon. No significance to these books being reprinted now. So it was just greed, right? Or maybe incompetence? Or both?

Or worse– the just didn’t give a flying fig at all about their retailers or their customers. (That’s a whole other post that I promise to write.)

By the way– the 2 X-Men hardcovers are woefully OVERPRICED. You can purchase a copy of the X-MenL Phoenix Saga in TRADE PAPERBACK for at least half what this hardcover costs. And the original floppies for the X-Men: Mutant Genesis storyline are available at most comic stores for 50¢ eachor less!

THIS WEEK’S HARDCOVERS, GRAPHIC NOVELS & MANGA

Archie: Pureheart The Powerful (There’s a limit to even my Archie love!)
Army of Darkness  League of Light (Let’s compare and contrast the stories written in this volume (including one scribed by Elliott Serrano) to Elliott’s hip, funny, solo turn in Army of Darkness: Ash Saves Obama TPB that arrived last week, shall we?)
Azrael Death’s Dark Knight
Batman Whatever Happened To the Caped Crusader (Already have the HC)
Complete Jon Sable Freelance Omnibus Vol 1 (After Grell’s excellent “Ashes to Ashes” Jon Sable GN, this is a must!)
Doc Savage Double Novel Vol 39 (Personal fave. Love all their pulp reprints! YOU should read Doc Savage!)

One of the BEST BUYS every month. MORE BANG for your Entertainment Dollar!javascript:;

Flight Vol 7
Four Eyes Forged in Flames
(Did I screw up by not purchasing this?)
Hulk Fall Of The Hulks Red Hulk (Already have the HC)
JSA Vs. Kobra
Marvel Masterworks Mighty Thor Vol 1 SC
(Don’t go here. If I bought all these, I’d need a wing to house my books!)

Marvels Project Birth Of Super Heroes HC (I greatly preferred the cool looking Human Torch “variant” cover!)

Torch & Subby: Together Again for the very FIRST TIME!

Mondo Urbano
Neil Gaiman Dangerous Alphabet

Night of the Living Trekkies
(Looked interesting or Fun… maybe)
Shadow Double Novel Vol 40 (Great book… But I stick with Doc Savage and The Avenger)
Shermans Lagoon Discover Your Immer Hermit Crab
Showcase Presents Sgt. Rock Vol 3 (See “…would need a library wing ” statement above)
Siege Battlefield HC (Yes, I know. But sometimes I have to buy stuff I don’t want because of what I do.)
Star Trek DS9 Fools Gold (Ack! Didn’t watch the show)
Super Pro KO Vol 1
Superman Whatever Happened to Man of Tomorrow
(Already have the HC)
Thundra King of Congo Archives Vol 1 HC (Looks cool but not for me…)
Usagi Yojimbo Vol 24 Return of Black Soul (Read Vol 23 with the intention of buying all of them– sadly unimpressed)
Valentine Reloaded
Vampire Tales Vol 1
(I have a big soft spot for Marvel’s B&W Mags from the 70′s. Great stories + nudity!)
Walking Dead Vol 12 Life Among Them
Women of Marvel Celebrating Seven Decades HandBook)
(Nope)
Woman of Marvel Celebrating Seven Decades (Random stories thrown together just because they feature women? Nope)
X-Men Dark Phoenix Saga HC (1st random X-men reprint. Horribly OVERPRICED)

Ugh! The first 9 1/2 MILLION TIMES Marvel printed this story wasn't enough?!

X-Men Mutant Genesis Premiere HC (2nd random X-men reprint of the week. You can buy ORIGINAL FLOPPIES for 50¢ each!)
X-Men Powerless (3rd random X-men reprint of the week)
X-Men We Are X-Men (4th random X-men reprint of the week)

MANGA
D.Gray Man Vol 18
Hikaru no Go Vol 20
JoJo Bizarre Adventure Vol 15
Kaze Hikaru Vol 18
Rosario + Vampire Season II Vol 2
Skip Beat! Vol 21
Slam Dunk Vol 11

Bakuman Vol 1 comes out next week! I hear it’s going to rock!

IT’S QUITE SIMPLE, REALLY

This is one of the BEST BOOKS you're NOT reading... And now it's CANCELED.

The good guys at CCW*TV– comic retailer par excellence Jose Melendez and comic writer extraordinaire Elliott Serrano– are very high on the obvious talents of one Mr. Jeff Parker. They like him so much, they mention his name often and are always certain to note whenever a new “JP” book arrives. Since they turned me onto Jeff’s work, I have already mentioned him in several posts (here and here) and even reviewed his Namora #1 one-shot comic on this very Blog.

The fact that Jeff’s book– Agents of Atlas (also known as “AoA” for brevity’s sake)– was never a big hit had been quite the topic of discussion (and bone of contention) for most folks posting on the highly recommended CCW*TV Blog. So much so, when Marvel dropped the bombshell that Jeff had decided to end the current AoA run with issue #5, practically everyone on the blog declared the comic’s demise a national tragedy.

It should come as no surprise, then, that I also personally believe Agents of Atlas is one of the FINEST COMICS Marvel has printed

in well over a decade…Which makes “Jeff’s decision” to stop the book cold all the more distressing to me and other discerning comic fans. Some say Parker made the smart move to “cancel” the title himself before Marvel did it themselves… That way he could leave the book on his own terms and with his vision intact. I absolutely agree.

Namora and M-11 get their DESTROY on.

And even though Agents of Atlas is soon ending active publication, I strongly suggest that you make a point to pick up all the various Trade Paperbacks or Hardcovers that are available before they too sell out. Cancellation doesn’t mean a book is dead. There are a lot of great AoA adventures for you to read if you haven’t already done so!

Which brings me to Jose politely insisting that I finally read the Agents of Atlas: Turf Wars hardcover the other day. When he went so far as to  double-check and determine that this new collection wouldn’t spoil my current reading of Marvel’s Dark Reign crossover books– I read Turf Wars immediately.

Upon reading the hardcover and enjoying every single page of it (despite the annoying, frequently rotating, list of pencilers)– I decided to try to determine exactly why Agents of Atlas didn’t sell– in any of its’ various incarnations– considering the huge amount of talent involved in the book from Day One.

The obviousness and simplicity of what I decided may just shock you.

THE GOOD STUFF
Another Leinul Yu Comic Book Cover Master Class

Another Leinul Yu Comic Book Cover Master Class

Let’s quickly run down what the Agents of Atlas creative team and the publisher did right. As already stated, Parker and company really couldn’t have devised and created a better comic book. One CCW*TV Blog poster noted that he felt Marvel had done their part in supporting the book as well– and that is true. They gave AoA like, What? 3 different chances to succeed– despite never seeing powerhouse sales? And Marvel execs certainly let Parker run loose in the Marvel U– with one-shots and guest stars from the likes of the #1 best-selling Avengers book to the popular X-Men and Hulk comics. They also contracted with the über-talented Leinel Yu to create the regular series covers… And for my money, you can’t pick any better living comic book cover artists than the triumvirate of Leinel Yu, Brian Bolland or Olivier Coipel.

So we have a fantastic book, popular guest-stars that should guarantee lots of crossover sampling and beautiful book covers… So what went wrong? Why didn’t Agents of Atlas sell?

THE 1ST THING THAT WENT WRONG

#1: Jeff Parker is too talented.

I know, I know… I can already hear you screaming, “How in the fuck is that a problem?”

Well, I’ll tell you how it’s a problem: Because Parker is so talented, people saw Comic Companies putting his name on lots of books (Underground for Image and Mysterius the Unfathomable at Wildstorm– to name just a few “instant classics”)… Yet hardly any fans knew anything about the man– let alone that he could actually write comics.

Parker is one of those rare polished professionals that jumped into a Marvel writing gig without already making a “name” for himself as a writer at some other comic company or in some other mainstream medium like television, movies or prose fiction first. In fact, prior to his current Marvel stint, Parker had mainly worked only as an ARTIST.

Get the pattern? Parker had ZERO “heat” as a writer. There was nothing to differentiate his stellar work from the hundreds of other comic book writers already busting their asses attempting to make a living.

You may have been a big fan of Jeff’s art– but chances are you didn’t know bupkiss about his writing ability. The Big Two (Marvel & DC) will tell you that in this era of $3.99 comicsnot being a name writer is a big negative. Marvel definitely loves hiring all kinds of famous and semi-famous prose writers whether they have proven comic writing skills or not. (DC, sadly, is following suit.)

Yet Marvel hired “No-Name” Parker anyway and given his awesome talent– immediately launched him on a new title… Something that is virtually unheard of in nowadays. Usually– especially when working for DC or Marvel– every creative person must toil in less popular “B” and “C” titles first… Learning their craft and building that “name”– before being given a shot at the “Big League” characters. They definitely don’t get to shepherd their own book straight out of the chute.

So, as weird as it sounds– Agents of Atlas’ sales have been a “victim” of Jeff’s superior talent– as Marvel gave Parker the book long before he had the chance to build the huge fan following most writer’s acquire before being offered such a major opportunity.

At $3.99 per issue, current readers cannot afford to give new talent a shot… Unless, of course, someone pairs the newbies with a already popular creative partner or places them in “creator proof” titles like Spider-man or Batman… In other words, books that have proven over time to sell well despite the quality of the creative teams involved.

Agents of Atlas was far too obscure a title to ever be considered “creator proof”… And Marvel taking a gamble by putting Parker at the helm is a commendable decision. It is also a very hopeful sign that Marvel actually values and looks for something other than exceptional pencilers when evaluating potential new comic book employees.

Parker’s overabundance of talent brings us to the MAIN REASON Agents of Atlas did not sell well. The reason being so simple that I must fault Marvel for not catching on and doing something to correct it.

THE 2ND THING THAT WENT WRONG

#2: The strange, giddy SYNOPSIS PAGES that Parker wrote for every issue of the continuing Agents of Atlas’ comic book.

As noted above in Reason #1, the new $3.99 price point makes a casual comic buy virtually a non-existent animal these days. Most comic enthusiasts are  not going to pick up a new book– especially a continuing book they aren’t already reading– just on the strength of a cool cover drawing. They need much more. And with the popularity of huge company-wide crossovers diminishing by the year, the Synopsis Page is one of the only major tools left to convince a possible new patron to take a chance on a new title.

Unfortunately, Gorilla Man-- not enough people knew enough about you to save you.

Whenever you have an exceptional writer– especially one that decides to work in the comics field– their work/vision tends to eclipse the power wielded by their editors. This is not a phenomenon that only adversely affects the comic book industry. Every medium has popular writers that get away with bloated, eccentric works– simply because they can.

Now, it’s very clear that Parker was not given the freedom to indulge some of his wilder eccentricities because of overwhelming popularity. He was far too new at the scripting game to enjoy such creative license. I believe Jeff “got away” with his quirkier dalliances because the Powers That Be couldn’t bring themselves to stifle his creativity– and wanted to keep this wonderfully talented man satisfied and working for them (and not the Distinguished Competition) for a very long time to come.

As a person who has made a pretty satisfying career out of entertaining folks, I can tell you without equivocation that every writer needs an editor… If anything– just to encourage said writer to keep going down the “good paths” in his or her work. Writing the SAYL Blog is one of the hardest “assignments” I have ever undertaken… Not for the sheer volume of grunt work that a Blog requires– but because I am own editor.

So we’ve got Jeff Parker– great writer– seemingly given little editorial guidance or interference when writing a series of weird, off-putting first page synopses for every issue of Agents of Atlas. How these pages ever saw print is amazing– as they contradict everything one might learn in a “Marketing 101″ class. Every person involved– including Parker’s AoA Editor– obviously did not understand or give enough credit to the valuable importance the Synopsis Page now holds in determining what books comic readers buy.

And it is my considered opinion that no one told Parker to quit writing these extremely important marketing blurbs just for CURRENT Agents of Atlas reader.

Rarely (if ever) did Jeff write a catchy, straight forward synopsis that might benefit or encourage a non-reader to purchase his book.

As a reader from Issue#1, I  can tell you I loved the cool, wacky synopses that Parker wrote. At least he was attempting to do something different… Right? But I’m not the person that Jeff or Marvel should have worried about. I was already a true believer in the comic. But after reading several of these complicated, overly mocking introductory segments back-to-back– I knew the tone used in these pages was a horrible mistake. I could literally envision thousands of comic fans picking up different Agent of Atlas issues for their beautiful Yu covers or popular guest characters– only to quickly place them back on the racks after reading the near indecipherable, almost always impenetrable Parker synopsis.

I know it’s tough to believe that something so seemingly inconsequential could be the main culprit that led to Agents of Atlas demise. Could it really be that everyone’s hard work was wasted just because of a few quirky synopsis pages?

You damn well better believe it could.

Consumers are literally overwhelmed with choice these days– hence all the overtly titillating product enticements and quick-cut movie trailers that tell you a film’s entire plot in 2 and 1/2 minutes. If the potential object of desire doesn’t hook you instantly– or expose itself so frankly that you can relate to it immediately Chances are you are going to ignore it and move on to the next bright & shiny thing that does.

So before you go blaming Marvel completely for canceling your favorite comic, please try to realize that– like all things– there is more than enough shared culpability here. I have no doubt that Jeff Parker’s wildly inventive style is mere months away from gaining wide mainstream acceptance. I can also easily see Jeff eventually considered as the “American” equivalent of an Alan Moore or Warren Ellis.

Unfortunately for Agents of Atlas fans– that day isn’t a reality… yet. But take heart. It IS right around the corner.

THUNDERBOLTS-- Another Parker comic YOU should read!


What if the WORLD ENDED and NOBODY gave a shit?

Let’s just get on with it: I did not like Revolver by Matt Kindt. Not in the least. Not even a little.

(WARNING: Moderate– but ultimately insignificant– SPOILERS ahead!)

Revolver operates around the premise that Sam– Kindt’s main character– a disenfranchised, down-on-his-luck nebbish who goes to sleep one night and wakes the next morning to discover that he’s now one of the few survivors in a post-apocalyptic, dystopian world.

Check out the ANNOYING "news feed" at the bottom of EVERY page-- or not!

Sam finally sleeps in his new-found Hell, only to wake the next day to find he’s back in the “normal” world– a place where life is still sane but also plods along at a monumentally tedious pace.

From that moment forward, Sam “revolves” between these two worlds– with one day spent executing a massively boring  routine and next day chock-full of terrifying experiences.

As the narrative progresses, Sam starts to look for– and learn about– things in the “regular” world that will help him in his alternate existence. He begins paying more attention to every aspect of his life and surroundings– noting, for example,  the location of a handy boat or learning how to hot-wire a car.

Tension and anticipation build nicely– only to be ultimately  destroyed when Kindt shows no intention of forcing his characters to evolve or grow past their petty idiosyncratic “real world” insecurities… Despite they’re being dumped into the middle of such a harsh habitat.

In Normalville, Sam can’t stand his job and dislikes his boss even more… Yet screws the same woman with gusto in apocalyptic land. Sam kills in self-defense and winces as people suffer in the bombed-out city but can barely raise his voice to help– let alone care for– the same people in his placid existence. This pattern continues day after day, over and over– until Sam’s disdain for his crushing banality reaches a tipping point.

But just when you think Revolver’s intriguing premise will finally take off,  it implodes.

Kindt’s Revolver attempts to showcase the indomitable will of the human psyche. How one insignificant man– faced with unbeatable forces– can rise, control and even conquer his indifference. Unfortunately, that’s not what really happens here. The author confuses Sam’s deciding to “man up” with maturation and a sense of caring… When the former is simply a reaction to his unavoidable circumstances and the latter feelings are actual choices.

At his best, Sam is just a reactionary soul no matter what world he resides in– allowing forces he cannot control in each world to dictate his actions.

Somehow, understanding this causes Sam to become even more insufferable and unlikable than ever before.

The first MAJOR problem with Matt Kindt’s Revolver surfaces with the painful smear of banality that permeates his main character– and every other character in the story too. I don’t know who edited this mish-mash of disconnected scenes posing as revelatory genius… But if anyone did, they needed to tell the author that if he wanted us to feel for his characters– or anything for his graphic novel at all– that he had to have at least one character in his story worth giving two shits about.

And there isn’t one anywhere in Revolver… In either world.

In his mundane life, Sam treats his girlfriend Maria with overriding disaffection– only to insist on searching for her in the other world after the bombs fall. Why? What is Sam’s reasoning here? He expresses little–if any– love for Maria in his regular life. Would he not then feel relieved to finally be rid of her in his other life? The answer is he would… So the reader is left to assume that Sam only wants to find Maria in the bombed-out world because he either feels guilty (what for we are never privy to)–  or worse– he misses having somebody to treat like a doormat.

At this point, the last shards of Kindt’s story disintegrate. There are no likable characters or character development, no real story progression and worst of all– a sense that NONE of it matters… Especially when Sam discovers he can always return to his normal existence without consequence (no matter what happens in the alternate reality). When Sam then also finds that he can choose which world to live in simply at will… All integral story tension disappears within a panel or two.

How can BOMBS be BORING?

But like any bad huckster who has no sense when to stop his failing pitch, Kindt places a ticker-tape line of information at the bottom of

every page that supposedly relates “news” from each world. After a scant 5 pages, the device becomes trite and tiresome– yet continues

for the entire story. Sadly, these incessant, innocuous– sometimes sardonic– made-up “facts” do something truly horrific to the overall narrative… They force the reader’s eye off the main story– causing you to constantly disconnect from the plot and characters.

The existence of this continual “news feed” in the alternate reality is even more puzzling– since there are supposedly no viable news outlets left in the apocalyptic world. If that’s true, where is all this “news” coming from? Isn’t that why the main characters are attempting to write a newspaper in the first place– to fill the news vacuum created by these horrendous events?

It’s all unlikely bullshit. Bad storytelling riddled with flawed plot holes big enough to drive a semi tractor-trailer through.

Yet amazingly, it is still not the worst thing about Revolver. I leave my biggest disdain for the art– especially the coloring.

(Now before you think, “Wow! You really didn’t like this at all, did you? You’re one of those non-superhero comic haters!” Please allow me to direct you to my first review on this site for Neil Young’s Greendale. This review should prove the opposite is true.)

In truth, I can live with Revolver’s art. Every artist has their own particular style– which is what makes art appreciation so cool… Because you may discover you like Kindt’s art more than me or find you dislike it more than me.

My problem with Kindt’s art: There are no real dramatic thematic shifts between the look of Sam’s bored existence and his apocalyptic nightmare. The only differences: bombed out buildings abound and some character appearances change (broken nose, cut on face) in the alternate reality. Kindt’s line work is so unfortunately casual here, that the fine details differentiating Sam’s two lives are often lost for the first few panels of each transition between worlds.

That means I save my biggest slam, however, for the book’s coloring– or in this case, the lack of coloring. Kindt’s inks are tinted blue in the real world and brownish in the bombed world… Yet throughout, he uses unattractive light blue and light tan colors for shading– increasing the difficultly of determining which world Sam is inhabiting on each page.

Simply put, Kindt’s color bores and does not deliver. Maybe he wanted to create a bland palette to further enhance certain blasé elements in the story or maybe he was just rushed or just lazy… Who knows? But the coloring on the book’s cover shows what could– and should– have been… And evokes more emotion in the one drawing– than any of the washed out panels could possibly achieve inside.

Sad to say– but Revolver is sloppy. Sloppy storyline, sloppy art, sloppy coloring.

The only thing not sloppy about the book? Its’ mind-boggling primo price point of $24.99 USD ($28.99 in Canada).

By now you certainly know where I stand on this: The man who’ll read almost anything, in hindsight, wishes he had never purchased Revolver at all.

I can't imagine having this many friends-- let alone this many to COSPLAY with!

This is my fave San Diego story– so I’ll cut right to the meat and forgo all my long-winded “filler” crap:

It’s San Diego Comic Con. After a hard day “working” the convention (Hey! Walking around and talking to people about their projects and books IS hard!)– I decide to hit the Gaslamp District bars with one of my Favorite Pals in the whole wide world– a married comic book writer (one of those descriptive facts will become important in a second) that I’ll call Bill. (Mainly ’cause “Bill” is easy to type.)

We walk into this bar– which is wall-to-wall. Everybody’s drinking profusely. Lots of attractive people inside too.

My kind of place.

We struggle to reach the bar. It’s worse than Manhattan’s “A” Train during RUSH HOUR. You’re forced to rub up against all kinds of people you’d rather not– but the few you do like rubbing up against make up for the close “dude-on-dude” contact.

Order drinks. Laughing. Meeting all kinds of new people. Very attractive women decide that the bar floor is too crowded and we help them hop on the bar so they can dance.

Thank you Lindsay Lohan. Thank you Paris Hilton. Thank you Britney Spears.

If you know where to look, you'll see A LOT of these in San Diego.

Out of the 5 ladies now dancing on the bar– 4 have on short dresses and have obviously forgotten they’ve gone commando tonight.

Enjoying the view. Drinks and sights are making us randy.

Bill (the married one, remember) suddenly sees a beautiful tanned goddess walk by wearing a flimsy black dress so short it should be (and probably is in Utah) illegal.

Suddenly Bill’s hand darts up and up under the lady’s skirt… Where I can tell by the way his forearm muscles are tightly flexing– Bill has decided to partake in a serious gambit of GRAB ASS.

The woman snaps her neck around and yelps, “Hey, that’s MY ASS!”

Bill, not losing a beat, replies, “Yeah, I know! Isn’t it great?

And then the woman smiles, Bill finally loosens his grip and INEXPLICABLY she says, “You’re cute.” and kisses him on the mouth.

And they say “The Meek shall inherit the Earth”.

Yeah. Right.

Just received some COMIC BOOK COLLECTIBLES in the mail!

ULTRA FAIL.

How in the HELL did my Post Office Carrier hand me this box with a STRAIGHT FACE?

Luckily, this Retailer believed in LOTS & LOTS of Packing Material.

Many of you do not.

GET YOUR ACTS TOGETHER!


HIS NAME IS

“GRIMACE JJL”

Payback can sometimes be a VERY BIG BITCH!

Preferring to remain just a shadowy figure on the internet(s)– (Really aren’t we all?)– GrimaceJJL will be the nom de plume for SAYL’s first contributor… I’ve known “GJJL” (what I don’t usually call him for short) for quite a while now.

There are (3) things I can tell you that are dead-ass certain about him: 1) He loves video games and the video game industry, 2) He loves buying games cheap… In fact, the cheaper, the better. (An outlook we should all strive for in a market glutted by shitty $60 USD craptaculars!) and 3) You can trust his opinion. He doesn’t like shitty games anymore than you do.

Will You Date My Avatar?

GJJL shoots from the hip, pulls no punches and likes women very much. He especially likes Gamer Women (note: Gamey Women” need not apply.)  This of course means he is madly in love with Felicia Day, creator of The Guild web series and Dark Horse comic books. But then… aren’t we all entranced by this fire-haired vixen?

Ah, how this “Day Woman” doth distract us!

Back on track (if only for a moment), here’s what you can expect from Grimace JJL:  Pithy Video Game NEWS, VIEWS and REVIEWS. He most likely will not be posting every day (Man’s GOTTA go to COLLEGE)– but he will often… He promises.

In the end, my hopes are high… but if it doesn’t work out– I’ll just BAN HIM. :-)

Before I do that, though– here’s a little something MORE SPECIFIC about Grimace JJL in his own words:

Exposed to the Atari 2600 in 1984, I knew that involvement in the electronics and entertainment industry was my destiny– in some way shape or form– forever. Fascinated by technology, I have been a loyal Nintendo fan since I received my first NES during Christmas ’86.

I’ve owned every single NES system since that fateful Holiday– with the exception of the Virtual Boy and DS incarnations. (I’m not a huge fan of portable gaming… But that 3DS looks hot!) During Junior High, I discovered comic books– and the combination of my love for video games– made me an Official Geek.

In High School, I was an N64 lover/Playstation hater. However, after I graduated– I joined the Air Force for six years, my views “matured”– and I spent THOUSANDS of dollars out of my military pay on Gamecube and Playstation 2 games and accessories. During my time in the U.S. Armed Forces, I found unique and different ways to get my hands on as many video games and comic books as I possibly could. Then, due to injuries sustained while deployed in Afghanistan– I was medically (honorably) discharged.

Now, as a college student– I am currently Majoring in Communications: Public Relations, with a Minor in Theater.

Insideman's Idea of Funny... NOT necessarily Grimace JJL's!

I’ve been around the world and back, I’ve seen things I’m glad I saw and saw some things I hope to God none of you ever have to see. I believe that humor is the best way to handle life’s most stressful situations. I also believe that consumers should always look out for each other… So we can keep the corporations in check and remind them that they work for us– and not the other way around. I hope to make a BIG IMPACT in all aspects of the entertainment industry. Part of that mission is making sure that we’re all aware of what’s going on and how we can spend our dollars efficiently on quality titles by quality artists… And allow the bargain bin titles to fulfill their self-imposed destinies.

For the record: I still consider the PS2 the GREATEST SYSTEM of all time. I’m a Nintendo fanboy for life but I am open-minded enough to recognize greatness and excellent execution in almost every platform. I look forward to your posts as well. Tell me what you like and dislike– and if you would like to see more of something… Or not. We’ll “blog” soon!

So there you have it!

With the addition of the sublime stylings of Grimace JLL to our roster, we now have more people writing for the SAYL Blog than are actually posting comments regularly on the SAYL Blog.

Tell your friends… Help change that crappy fact!

And with that sorrowful plea, we return to our blatant objectification of one Miss Felicia Day

ARE YOU F’ING KIDDING ME?!?

Your looking AWFULLY SINEWY, Mr. Reynolds!

HONEST TO FRICKIN’ GOD…

My first reaction when I saw this was somebody had pasted Ryan Reynold’s head on top of an illustration from the medical text, GRAY’S ANATOMY… Then PAINTED IT GREEN.

GETTING A SENSE OF DEJA VU YET?

The first and the best! Move over, GL!