Saturday, November 19, 2005

Art Class


How this could have changed my life. Sam Bunker should be a fanboy hero. Having kids create comic books seems like a perfect way to teach artistic concepts. You are forgiven Miss Miller. The 80’s just weren’t this hip.

If you want the kids to practice their sketching, the Alex Ross notebooks looks perfect. That's where I got the pictue of the Flash shown above

I Want to be a Producer

I would love to get a whole slew of better comic book movies. But alas, I don’t know anyone in Hollywood, I don’t know anyone who’s wealthy, and I myself am poor.

It’s interesting to note that one producer could be behind so many quasi-terrible movies.

Michael Uslan is the Emmy and Annie award winning executive producer of the five Batman movie, several Batman animated movies, the Swamp Thing and producer of Constantine and National Treasure among others.
And now he’s taking on manga? Sounds ominous.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Reminiscing Richie Rich


Richie Rich held great sway over my imagination when I was a kid. Let’s start with the covers. Each cover contained an absurd demonstration of his family’s wealth. For example, I can remember a swimming pool filled with loads of cash. As a kid this kind of imagery embodied fantastic truths. If you were wealthy, you naturally found utilitarian uses for your money. If you ran out of marbles, why not break a pearl necklace? Rubies and emeralds were perfect for a snowman’s eyes and mouth. Dollar signs were a perfectly appropriate moniker. Why not shape all of the topiary in the front yard in such a fashion? Plus, being able to have whatever you want in life is very appealing at any age.

Inside each issue, Richie would experience all kinds of adventures, and move through a range of moral issues. He was such a nice guy. His friends were nice. And he was always so helpful to everyone around him. His cousin and nemesis, Reggie Van Dough, could always mix things up too. Whether it was taking money from orphans, or framing Richie into looking like a jerk, I always loved to see him get his comeuppance in the end.

Sure, he dressed like a spaz, but that winning personality could overcome such fashion choices. The most important thing though was that his money gave him access to a life I could never have. Time machines. Helicopter backpacks. Rocket ships. Who couldn’t love this life?

It never occurred to me what a jerk everyone must have thought his parents were. They were not only wealthy, but they felt the name to wear ties and scarves covered with dollar signs. They hired away the greatest scientist the world had ever known, Professor Keenbean, keeping him from the work that could save humanity. And they never supervised their kid. They’re actually kind of despicable.

My final judgment of Richie isn’t so harsh though. He provided me with hours of entertainment. He inspired my imagination. Spider-Man was a snotty teenager, but Richie was someone to look up to. And I plan to introduce my children to him one day, assuming someone is smart enough to market some editions in my price range.

Places to Go Before I Die


I don’t usually read the Montgomery Advertiser, but they usually don’t have such great destinations. Their review for The Green Lantern restaurant is kind of surreal. Who would have predicted that Green Lantern could possibly have sold out like this? Green Arrow or Booster Gold sure, but the Green Lantern? It's very dis-heartening.

My favorite quote:
Whether a family celebration or dinner for two, Green Lantern will envelope you in a warm and welcoming surrounding.
Tell that to the former denizens of Coast City.

Jackpot

I thought of a phenomenally terrific idea for a comic book series over last weekend. (I still have to write a post about my attendance last Sunday at the Alamo Drafthouse's Hobbit Feast in Austin. I won't have a full post about that until Saturday or Sunday probably.)

I'm actually writing a comic book script. I don't know for sure whether it's indie or mainstream--it could really go either way in the revision. But writing the initial draft is sure a lot sure of fun. Now if only I could draw.

Those are the only details that I'm willing to offer right now, scant as they are. I just wanted to go on the record as starting it during this week. Someday when I'm famous, millions will come to view this post. At least if Blogger doesn't go bankrupt.

Concerning Tolkien and Marvel

I have more to occupy my time than I could ever finish in the rest of my life. But sometimes at 3 A.M., strange intersections occur that make me question the connections between my different distractions.

I have been reading old Fantastic Four comics lately. You know, the original, unadulterated Kirby/Lee material. So I had been reading them for about an hour, when I decided it was time to finish up and go to bed.

Before I can sleep, I must read at least one paragraph from a book. One of the books I am re-reading right now is The Fellowship of the Ring. Serendipity or exhaustion must be in play, because, the point at which I started reading seemed no different from the Fantastic Four! I read several pages before I was able to shake off the Marvel mode, and join the world of high fantasy.

Here is where I picked up my reading in LOTR, from Book I, Chapter 3:

'I can hear a pony or horse coming along the road behind,' said Sam.

They looked back, but the turn of the road prevented them from seeing far. 'I wonder if that is Gandalf coming after us,' said Frodo; but even as he said it, he had a feeling that it was not so, and a sudden desire to hide from the view of the rider came over him.

'It may not matter much,' he said apologetically, 'but I would rather not be seen on the road--by anyone. I am sick of my doings being noticed and discussed. And if it is Gandalf,' he added as an after thought, 'we can give him a little surprise, to pay him out for being so late. Let's get out of sight!'

It sure seemed no different from Stan Lee's dialogue! Re-reading it now, I must just be tired. Time for bed.

Friday, November 11, 2005

What If Argott Wrote a Comic Book?

A perennial favorite, What If, will be returning in the months to come for a new incarnation. It includes some writing by Don Glut. That makes me happy. I don't know what is about imaginary stories of imaginary stories, but I always find them to be appealing. I may have to pick this one up.

Comic Book Thief

I was cruising through some old Usenet posts, and found one that I thought was interesting. The post was from 2003 entitled "Comic Book Thief?" in alt.comics.alan-moore. There was a long debate regarding morality of comic book piracy on the web.

One of the more interesting notions involving abandonware was offered by Johanna Draper Carlson. I find the notion that video games are being abandoned to be somewhat intriguing, after enduring two holidays seasons of nostalgic joysticks being pushed on me from every retailer imaginable.

An (out of context) copy is preserved below:
From: Johanna Draper Carlson

Felicia Harmon wrote:
> In this age of digital piracy, creative individuals have to be more
> protective of their works, not less.

That's a different argument from saying that companies should be allowed to let works they own simply disappear. Our current cultural fetish for extreme copyright protection means that lesser-known works are being forgotten, or in certain cases, being lost. (Wired had an article on video game abandonware on this topic.)

Most people are more sympathetic to Well-Known Writer being hurt than Big-Name Corporation. Legally, there's little difference, but morally, maybe there should be.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

From: Brian Henderson


On Fri, 15 Aug 2003 06:43:44 -0400,
Johanna Draper Carlson wrote:
>That's a different argument from saying that companies should be allowed
>to let works they own simply disappear. Our current cultural fetish for
>extreme copyright protection means that lesser-known works are being
>forgotten, or in certain cases, being lost. (Wired had an article on

video game abandonware on this topic.) That's another good point, Johanna. There are many video games that are gone/dead/never coming back. There is no chance that the company that created them will ever re-release them. They are old, dead technology, but some people still enjoy them. They get online and trade ROMs of games that haven't existed in 20 years.

So what exactly is the harm in this? Technically, it's illegal. Fundamentally though, it harms no one and most of the companies who produced the games went out of business 20 years ago! They couldn't re-release them today if they wanted to, they don't exist!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

I wish I could write posts as well as this guy

Aiee! Run From Kelvin's Brainsplurge!

No, run toward it. Really, click that link as quick as you can. Kelvin's publishing the kind of blog I wish I was capable of producing. The content and writing are spot on, and his use of graphics is sophisticated and entertaining.

But since my posts are so stale, why trust me?

Damn.

Try linking to his posts on The Harrowing and European Filth Merchants. That should convince you.

UFO

The marathon continues. This is a really, really entertaining show.

Yes, this is a post to ensure that I don't miss having a post today. Take pity on me.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Quick Links to Current Events

* Visit Asylum Comics and Video that recently opened in Marietta, Ohio.

* Donate to Chicago Public Radio's This American Life and receive a thank-you gift of shot glasses featuring the art of Paul Hornschemeier, of Sequential fame.

* Read a favorable assessment of comics in our culture from the book reviewer, Martin Levin, of the Globe and Mail in Toronto. Included in his praise are Marjane Satrapi (Persepolis), Daniel Clowes (Ghost World and Ice Haven), David B. (Epileptic), and Charles Burns (Black Hole).

* The Hammer Museum and The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles are featuring "Masters of American Comics" exhibition from November 20 through March 12, 2006. The exhibition will include the work of Winsor McCay, Lyonel Feininger, George Herriman, E.C. Segar, Frank King, Chester Gould, Milton Caniff, Charles M. Schulz, Will Eisner, Jack Kirby, Harvey Kurtzman, R. Crumb, Art Spiegelman, Gary Panter, and Chris Ware.

* Gen Con So Cal will have the first U. S. screening of the Scottish comedy feature film, GAMERZ. Gen Con So Cal begins November 17 and ends November in Anaheim, California.

* Jim Lee and Brad Meltzer will be Guests of Honor at the New York Comic-Con next year. The New York Comic Con takes place February 24th – 26th, 2006 at the Jacob K. Javits Center in Manhattan.

* Speaking of Brad Meltzer, he's inked a deal to write exclusively for DC next year.

* Check out the reviews of the Electronic Arts game "Marvel Nemesis" (featuring a story by Millar and the character designs of Jae Lee), and the Activision title "X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse."

And Jog the Blog Shall Reign Supreme

Stop going to Dave Ex Machina. It's so day-before-yesterday. The best new blog that I just discovered is Jog the Blog.

That's JOG THE BLOG, for those of you keeping score.

Jog the Blog is better than Dave Ex Machina, because Jog the Blog is easier to say than Dave Ex Machina, unless of course you have studied Latin.

Check out one of Jog's recent posts that includes fabulous links about comic lore, Swordquest, and Super Mario. Cool stuff. His other posts are good too, I'm just too lazy to create that many hyperlinks.

The Swordquest contest was every kids dream. I bought heavily into the Swordquest-phenomenon, but at 9-years-old I couldn't understand what I was playing. My father thought they were the worst games ever, and I was convinced that he never came home with the 4th cartridge because he didn't think I was capable of winning the contest.

Sorry Dad.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

My Son's Super Power Revealed

My four-year-old son spends about 52 hours-a-week drawing. It's beginning to wear on me. Unfortunately, he hasn't inherited any of my natural artistic talent. And he makes me guess what it is that he's drawing. Every time.

But today I had a breakthrough. I noticed something peculiar about the drawing that he handed to me. About 75% of his drawings are yellow.


Why could this be? No one likes drawings. Even more mysterious, no one can see yellow drawings. But my son appears to have no problems with them.

I believe this is evidence of latent powers which are beginning to emerge. Infrared Vision. He sees the world differently than normal people. As I am sure you can imagine, I am very proud. I myself have no powers -- my superhero name, Argott, is largely a delusion on my part. My son, however, has his whole future ahead of him. And now I have evidence that he could be a superhero.

I decided to investigate further. I ran the picture through the document enhancer, and this was the result.

This is like one of the best days of my life! Not only is the image clearly a robot head (which means he can see yellow, and he draws cool things with it), but he also shows great artistic promise.

How should I proceed from here? I am worried about finding effective methods for cultivating future super abilities in them. While Infrared Vision is very useful, it really is only the foundation of a crime fighting career. Much more work needs to be completed if he is to have all of the opportunities in life.

I'd give anything for Infrared Vision. I tell you, I sure wouldn't squander powers like these and won't let my son squander them either.

Sketch of the Day



I'm sure that there's a logical explanation for this origin story. Maybe she just thought it was a star.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Awesome Dave Ex Machina Discovered

Sometimes I'm surfing and I come across a blog that knocks me out with it's really impresses me. Dave Ex Machina had such an effect on me tonight. How come I've never ran across you before Dave Ex Machina? I immediately added Dave Ex Machina to my blog roll. His topics are diverse and awesome

(Hint: Click on one of the links above, to see what I mean.)

If you need proof just check out this post referencing Heroscape, or
Check out this post referencing 80's music, or
Check out this post referencing a classic board game, or
Check out this post referencing Jimmy Olsen.

Ah hell, just check out Dave Ex Machina.

Silly Daddy Purchase

I just bought a great-looking graphic novel today by Joe Chiappetta called Silly Daddy. I am really primed to start reading it as soon as I can get my kid to bed. The biography on the back mentions that Chiappetta is a former wrestler. This got me to thinking about how the clerk at the bookstore looked at me with that smug superiority when I made this purchase. I am kind of used to this reaction - you know that's just part of the deal when you buy graphic novels. Some people will think that it's kind of funny, some people won't.

If I was the bookstore clerk I would have the same reaction. Except, it wouldn't be when someone was bringing up a graphic novel by a former wrestler. It would be when they were purchasing a current magazine about pro wrestling. I'm not really that big of a person. I need to feel superior to others sometimes too. And for God's sake, it's wrestling. (I gotta' admit though, Deadman looks like a bad ass on that cover.)

Which begs the question: why in the world am I looking forward to reading a graphic novel written by a former wrestler? After all, I'm not particularly athletic, and I'm generally envious of people who have that kind of talent. First, I flipped through the book, and it doesn't seem to be real heavy on the wrestling. In fact, I can't find any evidence from my quick scan that there is any wrestling in it. Second, the book is about a Daddy, a subject to which I intimately relate. Lastly, by entering the comic industry Chiappetta has apparently decided it was time to buckle down and start taking his life seriously.

I'm sure if Joe ever reads this he will want to say, "Screw you Argott." I apologize in advance.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Recent Comic News

Chris Elliot's New Novel Accidentally Lifts Material from a Graphic Novel

If you are planning to read Chris Elliot's new book, The Shroud of the Thacker, a terrific companion volume would definitely be the graphic novel, Heartbreakers Meet Boilerplate, by Paul Guinan and Anina Bennett. Elliot's novel is a parody that takes place at the end of the 19th Century. Apparently, Elliot accidentally included Boilerplate as one of his characters after being fooled by the promotional website that Guinan and Bennett produced. Chris Elliot has already reached a deal with the to indies to ensure they receive reasonable compensation. Make sure to check out the other part of the Guinan/Bennett website, too.

Sources: The Media Bistro and the Kansas City Star (free registration)

Indy Writer Charles Burns Scores Big in Hollywood with Sale of Black Hole

This news is really exciting to me. I have read enough reviews of Burns 10-year odyssey Black Hole to wet my appetite. I actually ordered the book last weekend. I usually don't get so excited over teen culture and supernatural venereal diseases (Thomas Disch covers such material quite adequately in Camp Concentration), but the buzz on the book has been absolutely maddening. Paramount Studios will be producing the film and French director Alexandre Aja will be at the helm. Keep watching over the next several weeks and I'll let you all know my take on Burns's tale. Now if only someone would take this kind of notice of Alex Robinson's work. (Note to Alex: Include more deformities in future projects.)

Sources: Now Playing Magazine and The Film Asylum

Two New Superman Movies in the Works Including Long-Awaited Donner Footage

Everyone is really talking about the latest Bryan Singer outing Superman Returns, and how it was recently announced that it will be released in IMAX format. But the even better news is that Warner Brothers has finally cleared the release of Richard Donner's footage for Superman II. This is a major development, as Donner was fired when he had already completed filming on 70% of the movie. Major portions of his film were whisked away to the netherworld of the studio vaults. Donner will be restoring the original Superman and Superman II for a DVD release in 2006. Some of the devotion that fans have paid to the "lost" movie over the years can be found here, here and here.

Sources: About.com, SyFy Portal, and Yahoo News

Thursday, November 03, 2005

UFO Parachronisms, Episodes 2 & 3

NOTE: See the original entry for Episode 1.

Synopsis for Gerry Anderson's UFO Episode 2, "Computer Affair" - When a mission results in the deaths cerebralral pilots Commander Straker is forced to examine the motives of some of his subordinates.

Synopsis for Gerry Anderson's UFO Episode 3, "Flight Path" - Commander Strakerinvestigatetigage the blackmail of one of S.H.A.D.O.'s operatives.

UFO was made in 1970 and takes place in the "future" 1980. Each episode is packed with all kinds of historical inaccuracies and inventions that have never happened. I call these Parachronisms.

-----

Assessment of one scene from UFO's Episode 2, "Computer Affair"

Red Dust - Parachronism. Red Dust is so 1983, making it's chronologically-correct debut on the television mini-series V. Or maybe I'm wrong and these visitors are somehow related to those visitors


Assessment of one scene from UFO's Episode 3, "Flight Path"

Fire on the Moon- Parachronism. Let me get this straight: in 10 years time we are not only able to construct a Moonbase, but also we develop an artificial atmosphere there0? If the Moon has an atmosphere, why do we need a Moonbase with airlocks?

Sketch of the Day


He can get a utility belt on Halloween.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

When Will I Get Over Halloween?

In the lead up to Halloween, Scott over at Polite Dissent, posted some very worthy entries for his Top 5 Childhood Monsters.

Running down his list:
#5 Sleestaks
#4 The Tentacled Monster from Space: 1999
#3 Max
#2 The Giant Ants from Them!
#1 The Count

Of course all of the Polite Dissent's nominees are just inane compared to my #1 Childhood Monster. Bill Norton's 1972 Gargoyles will always be at the heart of all my psychological problems. I am sure I cannot convincingly convey the terror and fascination that this film held for me in my youth. But if you read this blog every day, you might begin to understand.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

UFO Parachronisms, Episode 1

Synopsis of Gerry Anderson's UFO Episode 1, “Identified” – After 10 long years of waiting Ed Straker, leader of the secret UFO fighting organization S.H.A.D.O., has finally achieved a decisive victory in his mission.

Filmed in 1970, the events in UFO take place in 1980. The show is enshrined with anachronistic imagery. One can only marvel at Gerry Anderson’s optimism when seeing his 1980’s era moon bases and flying submarines.

Indeed the term anachronism doesn’t even feel right, because we’re so used to thinking of it in terms of things that appear in the past before they are actually invented. (For example, a movie that mistakenly shows a Roman soldier wearing a wristwatch.) However, UFO has things that have not yet been invented at all, even in the present.

I call this parachronism. The Greek prefix para- is used in so many seemingly related ways (e.g. paradox and paranormal) that parachronism fits perfectly.

Assessment of Parachronisms from UFO’s Episode 1, “Identified”

1. Hand Held CameraAnachronism. There weren’t any hand-held cameras this small in 1980.


2. First-Person ShooterAnachronism. I just wanted to know if the bullets are made out of chrome too?


3. Handcuff BriefcaseCorrect Chronology. There is a long and established precedence for handcuffing a briefcase with top-secret information to one's wrist.



4. Orange Vests to Increase VisibilityCorrect Chronology. This is probably overly generous, but there is some foundation to believe that by 1980 wearing orange vests was beginning to occur among the safety conscience. Now my only question is, what motivates a motorcycle escort of on a top-secret mission to seek high-visibility?



5. Gull-Wing Door CarsAnachronism. Oh, it was so close, but the first Deloreon was released in 1981.



6. “Futuristic” CarsPARACHRONISM. By 1980, there was a definite trend toward making cars even boxier, not curved.



7. Elevator RoomsPARACHRONISM. Anyone in possession of an actual elevator room is urged to leave a comment. Or better yet, e-mail me.



8. Mainframe ComputersCorrect Chronology. As a government agency, S.H.A.D.O. would not have yet updated their computer systems in 1980. I don't think most started until the late 90's.




9. VideophonePARACHRONISM. And might I add, it’s already 2005; where the hell are our videophones?!?


10. Moon BasePARACHRONISM. That is unless of course there really is a super-secret government agency fighting UFOs.


11. Purple WigsCorrect Chronology. Think punk rockers.


12. One-Way Mirror Changing RoomsPARACHRONISM. While one-way mirrors are in fact used in all kinds of ways, I’ve yet to see them employed for changing rooms. Thank God.


13. Removable Legs on PantsPARACHRONISM. Let’s just leave it at that.


14. Silver SkirtsPARACHRONISM. The only place that silver skirts have ever been widely worn were at millennium parties.



15. Mesh ShirtsCorrect Chronology. Oh the shame! I owned one once.


16. “Skydiver” Rocket SubmarinesPARACHRONISM. I sure would like to own one of these.


17. “S.H.A.D.O. Control” Buck Rogers HelmetCorrect Chronology. The people in the Buck Rogers show wore helmets like these all the time in 1980.


18. Corny Flying Line – Correct Chronology. They really nailed this right on the head. Airplane!, which was released in 1980, was filled with lines like:

“These clouds give about as much cover as a g-string on a belly dancer.”


19. Convenient Alcohol DispensersPARACHRONISM. Oh, if only it was this easy.


20. RV AmbulancePARACHRONISM. Wouldn’t it be nice to go to the hospital in style?



21. Electro Tissue AnalysisPARACHRONISM. Just imagine how this technology would have aided the Reagan adminstration's war on drugs.



22. Secret Passageway for CasketsPARACHRONISM. If only death were really this fun.

Sketch of the Day


Aquaman gets a bad rap. His comic books are are a lot more exciting than the picture above would suggest. Usually.

Halloween Memories

Well they're memories now. I took my son out for various forays in his Spider-Man over the last week. We walked to the mailbox. We went to a "fall festival." And of course we went trick-or-treating last night.

I saw more superhero costumes than I have ever seen at this smallish festival.

1 Superman
1 Thing
1 Human Torch
1 Mr. Incredible
3 Spider-Mans (including my son)
1 Wolverine
1 Flash (wow!)
2 Batmans

I think I'm missing one or two. All of the costumes were made out of cloth.

My son, who is four, was particularly disappointed that he wasn't the only Spider-Man. He thought he would be the only one -- I think he thought he was the only kid dressing as Spider-Man this Halloween. He was rather moody about it.

I thought to tell him that they were all Ben Reilly Spider-Man clone, too cheer him up. Then I realized that story couldn't cheer anybody up.

I could have also consoled him by telling him that when I was a kid, I would have killed to have this many superhero costumes to choose from. Especially costumes that weren't made of cheap plastic. You know, the kind that had "SPIDER-MAN!" written across them to completely kill the illusion.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Fan Film of the Day - The Cave


The last fan film posted here was a very short Hellboy clip. Today's nomination also features Hellboy in a slightly more substantial film called The Cave. Made in stop-motion, the short action depicts a fight between Hellboy and a group of zombies.

Zombies, Hellboy, and Halloween. Nothing better on the web.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Alien Abduction - Close Encounter of the 3rd Kind

Well, Part 1 of my UFO DVD arrived from Netflix in playable condition. Now I can begin watching some episodes and seeing if they really change my life.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Explore Blogs - Star Wars Mystery

Ever click into one of those links that scroll by at the Explore Blogs on the opening page? One I clicked into earlier threw me for a total loop. Beli's Bio Blog was totally incomprehensible. It was written in some kind of strange code. My paranoia flare -- could Beli be dabbling in national security issues?

I became more alarmed when I noticed the word Tatooine -- clearly from Star Wars. How could it be legitimate if it contained Star Wars references that I couldn't place. It took me another minute-or-so to realize that what was being recorder were prices associated with the economy of the massive online game, Star Wars Galaxies. Here's a section of text from a typical post:

20 cpu for stacks above 2k (standard price 12 cpu)Distoze, Tatooinian
Domesticated Milkmilked from domestic eopie, dwarf bantha DR=583, FL=353,
PE=894, OQ=939 » Marked as available on Tatooine 2 hours ago.

Imagine my embarrassment.

Sketch of the Day


I'm waiting for that call from Marvel or DC. I'll accept a contract from Mad Magazine too. I'll even stoop to selling sketches to the New Yorker.

Is anyone out there?

Don't Judge Me By My Friends

For those of you want an idea of the extraordinary buzz that Argottmania has been generating, a Superior Political Blog has linked to one of my articles. I wonder what could have possessed him to do that?

Alien Abduction - Part 2

For those of you following the chronicles of my UFO journey, Disk 1 didn't arrive from Netflix yesterday as scheduled. I'm going out of town to visit my brother-in-law this weekend. We are leaving before the mail comes so I won't be getting Disc 1 until (hopefully) late tomorrow. I wonder if it will arrive intact?

For those of you who aren't interested in the mere fictional imaginings of aliens and UFOs, Hacking Netflix recently posted an interesting link. A new DVD-by-mail service for UFO fans that I am sure has Netflix shaking in its boots can be investigated at UFODVD.com.

Fan Film of the Day

I like this animation of Hellboy; it's very close to the movement I perceive when I'm reading Mike Mignola.

It's too short though, offering only a taste of what's possible.

Open a Comic Store, Go Mad

The retailing side of comic books has always been a mystery to me. I was oblivious to them when I bought them as a kid at my local grocery store. When I was thirteen I began frequenting a comic book store, and by the time I was eighteen, very few of the traditional outlets carried them.

Johanna Draper Carlson had two posts that deal with the retail end of the business in the current market. The first post offers an example of the frustrations that can arise when working with Diamond. In the second post she describes the Marvel's new agreement for returnable merchandise.

For a more comprehensive chronicle of the steps involved in opening and running a comic book store, visit the archives of the oft-discussed store called Riot. The inconsistencies in sales and traffic sound maddening.

Is this why my wife doesn't want me to open a comic book store?

Friday, October 28, 2005

Sketch of the Day


I wore a lot of Batman shirts in my day, but at least I'm a human being.

This Week's Obligatory Comic Reviews

Flash #226, DC
Finish Line, Part One

Ok, I'll admit I bought this one because of the cover. I loved the Flash when I was a kid. Everything about him was cool, but nothing beat the way he stored his costume in the ring. I was happy to see it again.

The contents of the issue itself were fairly interesting. The interior conflicts and fears of Wally West, through the lens of his expanding family obligations are very capably scripted by Joe Cavalieri. I was actually impressed that Cavalieri managed to balance traditional comic fun and slight elements of a grittier core.

I didn't really understand the last third of the book, but I think that by picking up the next issue many of these "mysteries" will be explained.

VERDICT: Ready to buy the next issue of The Flash.

The Book of Lost Souls #1, Icon (Marvel)

Introductions All Around

What do you get when you mix a suicide (I think), a magic book, and a talking cat? Basically, you can look forward to a slow and hard-to-follow story.

The only J. Michael Straczynski that I have direct familiarity with are Babylon Five and Supreme Power. Both are "cereberal" refittings of properties that preceded. Babylon Five tries to extend some of the core concepts of Star Trek, while Supreme Power looks re-envisions both the Squadron Supreme and Justice League.

If I had to guess who Straczynski is trying to imitate here, I would have to say it's The Sandman. However, Gaiman's first issue is a lot more compelling than Straczynski's first issue. Still, it is an introduction, and it's difficult to tell if any real movement is in store for future issues.

VERDICT: Will possibly (reluctantly) purchase the next issue of The Book of Lost Souls.

Knights of the Dinner Table Magazine (Kenzer)

Resident Medieval

For those of you who aren't familiar with the format of this book, you should really check it out. Each issue of the magazine contains 15-20% of brilliantly redundant artwork featuring a group of roleplayers who work through their adventures and personal tribulations. The remaining parts of each issue are loaded with articles featuring games, books, and comic books. This is publication is a real value, and it's entertaining to boot!

The current storyline is beginning to wrap up. For the last several issues, master dungeon master, Brian, has been running his first game in years. He has all of the Knights (Bob, Dave, Sarah, and B.A.) at each other's throats, and someone has been forced to enlisted help from beyond the table.

Overall, I've found this story-arc to be riveting, popcorn entertainment. This issue, by Jolly Blackburn, is an especially strong contender in the current sequence.

VERDICT: Will be the first one in line to buy the next issue of Knights of the Dinner Table.

I Wish I Were a Superhero; I'm Glad I'm Not a Smurf

Mick Martin over at The Daily Burn wrote recently wrote his 100th post. In addition to describing his comic book journey, he also offers his vision of what superhero comics should be. His points are right on target, and should be read. (I couldn't possibly do them any justice by trying to enumerate them here.)

I would like to point out one of the strange ironies of one of the statements in the post:
That’s why comics claiming to portray what superheroes would “really” be like don’t carry much weight with me. It’s a stupid, worthless endeavor. Superheroes have never been real and never will be. It’s ridiculous to bind them with real world rules. You might as well have an Identity Crisis for the Snorks or the Care Bears.

Strangely, this week's news about the Smurfs seems related to Mick's observation. Here's the justification for the acts of violence against the Smurfs. A little bit of the original video can be seen at ifilm.

I sure hope the little guys come out of it okay.

Dear Bobby - November 19, 1961


November 19, 1961

Dear Bobby,

The Russians have just been upsetting me more and more as of late. When they removed Stalin's body from Lenon's tomb late last month, I thought things looked promising. I was even more encouraged when the changed Stalingrad's name to Volgograd. All of this was encouraging. But then I hear the Vladimir Yefimovich Semichastny has succeeded Aleksandr Nikolayevich Shelepin as the head of the CIA. I'm sure you know what that means!

Anyway, I didn't really write you to complain about my problems but to thank you for thie comic book that you sent me.

The Fantastic Four #1 was a a nice little romp. I was a little angry that the story didn't match the cover. And aMoleman? What kind of villain is that? He was real wimpy looking, unworthy to challenge the power of these four extraordinary individuals. The monsters were nicely conceived but there weren't enough of them.

I don't really think the Thing should be a part of the group. He destroyed the door to someone's business, a city street, and a innocent bystander's car. These aren't the acts of a hero! I'm going to "wait and see" about this Human Torch--he certainly doesn't have the nobility or maturity of his counterpart in the Invaders. Reed Richards is admirable and that Invisible Girl is cute. I think those two should get together.

I certainly admired her pluck in her insistence that we have to beat the commies to space. There may be something to that.

Your Loving Brother,
Jack

P.S. I am enclosing a picture of a Union soldier that I drew to test my artistic skills. Not bad, huh?