Friday, October 10, 2008

Reading Level of This Blog

blog readability test

Movie Reviews

Not as high as what my site altjiranga mitjina received, but not too shabby.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Save The Superman House

This post is being put on my other blog altjiranga mitjina also.

The house where Jerry Siegel created Superman is falling down. The city of Cleveland where the house is located has done nothing to save this house, where one of the most recognizable literary figures in the world was created, so Brad Meltzer is trying to save it. He's organized a group called The Siegel & Shuster Society to this end. Go to this page and read more about it.

Their auction is only half done and they've already raised $53,000, more than their goal of $50,000. Go check out their auction, or if your pocket book isn't quite that big go buy a t shirt.

Superman is an American Icon and his history needs to be preserved.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Happy Birthday Jack Kirby

Jack Kirby would have been 91 today. The entire comic industry owes a debt of gratitude to Mr. Kirby and his amazing talent.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Con Anti-Harassment Policy

Go to this site and read.

This is important.

I've read the arguments that a con shouldn't have to have a specific policy spelling out that it's wrong to grope a woman, that it's already against the law and should be common sense, but unfortunately some fans (and it's a small fraction) don't have that common sense. It's like a company has anti-harassment policies in its human resource policies. It just makes good sense that a con has something spelled out and some sort of policy to follow when someone has a complaint.

Cons are supposed to be fun and no one should have to worry about things like this.

Friday, August 15, 2008

A Lot of Copies

A picture from next year's release of The Watchmen movie. Looks really good. DC has reportedly printed over a million copies of the paperback of the series. I can't recall that any of the big super hero movies like Batman, Spider-man or Hulk sold that many extra copies of their comics and Watchmen is doing it based just on its trailer. Does this mean that this movie is going to be a big hit, I'm sure DC and Warners was worried since outside the comic community Watchmen isn't as big a name as Batman or Spider-man. It's going to be interesting to see what happens.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

And In This Corner...

The big summer match up between Marvel and DC. I have to say that this is the best issue of "Final Crisis" so far and it's made me decide to pick up the next issue...probably. I'm still on the fence on this series. I read an issue and seem to be more lost than when I started it. I'm really not a big fan of the current DC universe so maybe this book isn't for me.

On the other hand I am enjoying "Secret Invasion" quite a bit. While I think the previous two issues kind of were drug out and could have been combined into one issue, this issue the action starts moving again. But I have to ask, what was the point of the space ship that landed in the Savage Land with all the Marvel Heroes from the 70's. It seems like they all were skrulls, so what were they up to? And didn't the previous issue of SI end with Captain America? Did I miss something? Still I am enjoying this series and really like what they're doing with it.

Take Two Asprins and Call Me In The Morning

I take a back seat to no one in my geekiness over Buffy, but the new issue just made my head hurt. Maybe it's because I've never read "Fray" Joss Whedon's future take on the Slayers, but trying to read the future speak of hers just made my head hurt. And I hope they really didn't think that the future big bad was a future Willow was a surprise. I figured it out from her first appearance in the shadows. There was some good scenes in the book, Buffy's dialouge was true to form. I really enjoyed her "Boy, The English Language is just losing it....I should have treated it better." And Dawn and Xander had some great lines. When Dawn tells Xander that he has to ride her, well that was a classic Buffy moment.

Kids Comics Aren't Just For Kids Anymore

I've just realized that two of my favorite comics are supposedly for kids. I just picked up the first issue of "Spider-man Loves Mary Jane" written by Terry Moore. Terry is also the writer/artist on another favorite comic of mine "Echo." The art is by Craig Rousseau and is also very good. In fact I really liked the art in this book, it's cartoony without being too cartoony but not realistic, it fits the story perfectly. I never picked up this book before, but have heard it was good also before Moore took it over. I may have to go back and hunt up past issues. This book was fun, but you get the feeling that there is a seriousness just beneath the surface.

The other book has been out a little longer. It's "Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam" by Mike Kunkel. Mike does the writing and art on this book and his style is very cartoony but I love it. This book is really so good.

These books are being targeted for kids, which is great, I'm glad to see some really good comics being done for kids. But they can also be read by adults. They've leapt to the front of my list of comics to read for sure.

I'm also looking forward to the new Supergirl comic. It's called "Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures In The 8th Grade." And Supergirl looks like Supergirl, not some extra from the Playboy channel. This is also a comic aimed at kids, but from what I've seen and read it looks like it'll be a great read.

(And I'm going to take a deep breath and not post about why it seems all comic females have to be dressed like they're auditioning for a role in the new Cheetah Girls video.)

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Terry Moore

Terry Moore is the writer/artist mainly known for the long running black and white series "Strangers In Paradise." For the majority of its run Terry published the series himself. Image published it briefly before Moore took it back under his Abstract Studios imprint to publish himself. I admire what Terry did with SiP, but I ended up not as a big fan of the series at the end as I was at the start.

His newest creation is "Echo" another self published black and white comic. This comic is fast becoming one of my favorites. From what I've read he's structuring it to last around 18 issues. I find myself eagerly awaiting each new issue. And one thing he seems to have been able to do is keep up on a schedule for the book, which a lot of other self publishers still have trouble doing.

Terry is also taking over the writing chores on "Runaways," a series published by Marvel that Brian Vaughn created and more recently Joss Whedon wrote. I usually wait for the hardback volumes of the series to come out, I have the first two and thought the series really good. I'll be looking forward to Terry's take on the characters.

And finally he is doing "Spiderman Loves Mary Jane" comic. Which I might just have to check out, since he seems to be on such a roll lately.
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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Preacher and Swamp Thing Coming In Hardcover

From San Diego Comic Con: Preacher and Swamp Thing will be collected into hardback reprints. Hopefully they'll do like they are currently doing with the Starman collection. This is great news, as I've been holding off on buying the trades hoping that something like this would happen.

Impact Comic Characters Back

From San Diego Comic Con: DC Comics announced it would be bringing the old Archie Comics superheroes into the DC Universe. Actually this will be DC's second attempt at doing something with these characters, after their failed !mpact line from years before. J. Michael Straczynski will be introducing the characters in the pages of The Brave and the Bold.

Who Will Rule Again

From San Diego Comic Con: Ok, I was wrong. The "Who Will Rule" teaser was about Vulcan and the Shi'Ar against Black Bolt and the Inhumans in a new mini series War of Kings.

Cloak & Dagger Return

From San Diego Comic Con: Valerie D’Orazio better known for her blog Occasional Superherione will be writing a new Cloak & Dagger mini series. I've never been that big a fan of this duo but I really enjoy Val's blog and look forward to seeing what she does with the story.

Legion Coming To Smallville

From San Diego Comic Con: Writer Geoff Johns will be bringing the Legion of the Super Heroes from the 31st Century to ours in the television series Smallville. This is interesting, Smallville is one of my favorite shows and I have enjoyed the way that they have been introducing other super hero characters into the show.

Everyone figures that this series will end when Clark finally becomes Superman. How about turning it into Metropolis than and showing his start as Superman? I really hate to see this show go off the air and I fear it's closing in on its run.

Gaiman On Batman

From San Diego Comic Con: Neil Gaiman is going to write a two issued Batman story entitled "Whatever Happened To The Caped Crusader?" It is slated to come out at the start of next year. Andy Kubert will do the artwork. This follows shortly after the ending of the current Batman R.I.P. storyline, so does it mean anything?

Whedon and Cast Talk Dollhouse

From San Diego Comic Con: Nothing really new to report about Joss Whedon's new show Dollhouse, but he was there with Eliza Dushku (‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’) and Tahmoh Penikett (‘Battlestar Galactica) to talk about the show. I just wish I had been there as this is the show that I'm most looking forward to in the coming season. It will be on Fox in early 2009. Let's hope Fox gives it more of a chance than it gave Firefly.

Milestone Joins DC Universe

From San Diego Comic Con: Milestone Comics will merge itself into the DC Universe. The Milestone Comics were created in the 90's by Dwayne McDuffie, Christopher Priest, Denys Cowan, Michael Davis and Derek T. Dingle. Milestone Media was a separate company but DC Comics published the new series. At that time the Milestone universe was also a separate universe from DC, but they still had a few cross overs. Now the Milestone Universe will be part of the DC Universe.

Vertigo Crime Imprint

From San Diego Comic Con: Vertigo Comics will publish a sub imprint called Vertigo Crime that will feature black and white graphic novels in hardcover. The first two titles announced were Dark Entries by writer Ian Rankin and Werther Dell'edera as the artist. The next one is Filthy Rich by Brian Azzarello and Victor Sankin.

Kevin Smith on Batman

From San Diego Comic Con: DC Comics announced that Kevin Smith will be doing a Batman mini series featuring a former Green Arrow villain that Smith created when he worked on that series,

Barry Allen Returns As Flash

From San Diego Comic Con: DC Comics announced that they are bringing Barry Allen back as the Flash in a mini series entitled Rebirth. The creative team is Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver, the same team responsible for Hal Jordon being brought back as Green Lantern. Where that leaves Wally West they wouldn't say. I'm not really sure how I feel about this. I'm not reading too many DC Comics now, but I will probably be interested in at least picking up the first issue of this mini series and see how it goes.

New On Going Agents of Atlas Series

From San Diego Comic Con: Marvel announced a new ongoing Agents of Atlas series to be written by Jeff Parker.

Who Will Rule?

From San Diego Comic Con: Marvel's teaser for their next Big Event was the tagline "Who Will Rule?" From what little they said of it sounds like they're gearing up for a battle with the Gods of the Marvel Universe.

Darwyn Cooke Adapts Parker

From San Diego Comic Con: Darwyn Cooke is going to adapt the Parker crime novels by Richard Stark (Donald Westlake) for IDW Comics. The four novels he is adapting are The Hunter (aka Point Blank), The Man with the Getaway Face, The Outfit, and The Mourner. The first issue will come out in late 2009.

Martha Washington Omnibus

From the San Diego Comic Con it was reported by the artist Dave Gibbons that the entire Martha Washington storyline plus extras will be collected in a one volume omnibus. Martha was a character created by Frank Miller and Dave Gibbons for Dark Horse Comics in 1990. The first mini series was Give Me Liberty, followed by Martha Washington Goes To War, than a one shot called Happy Birthday Martha Washington, followed by another one shot Martha Washington Stranded In Space and than a final mini series Martha Washington Saves the World and ending with a one shot Martha Washington Dies. All this plus extra art and notes from Dave Gibbons will be included in this new edition.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

News From San Diego

San Diego is where the big news is announced from the Comic world. Over the next however many posts I will talk about what I find exciting from the world of San Diego and what I find interesting that they've talked about. Don't look for a complete round up of news from the con here, you can go to Newsarama or CBR for that. I just want to point out what I will be looking foward to.

San Diego Comic Con

This is the weekend for the San Diego Comic Con. The last one I went to was 2002. The first one I went to would have been in the late 80's. I remember the year that the Chicago Con (the real Chicago Con, before Wizard bought it) was just a weekend before San Diego. I ended up going to Chicago and than spending the week inbetween with my friend and artist Terry Pavlet and than heading to San Diego. That was the year that I did the Christmas issue of Quantum Leap for Innovation Comics. George Broderick, another friend, was an editor there. In fact I think I was the one that alerted George to the fact that there was a comic book company in his neck of the woods in Wheeling West Virginia.

The first San Diego Con I went to was when I met Sam Kieth. We had talked before, on the phone, but met in person for the first time. We shared a room with Wendi Lee and her boyfriend at the time, another artist that did some work for Eclipse Comics (I'm sorry I can't remember his name now). We were staying at the Hotel San Diego, not exactly in the best area of town. If I remember right across the street was an area where the local winos hung out.

That first con George Lucas came to the con. He had the con people put a different name on his name tag, like that would hide the fact of his identity. Everyone at that Con knew what George Lucas looked like. But at that time the Con wasn't invaded by Hollywood like it is now. You'd see a few Hollywood types, but they were there mainly as fans, not pushing anything. At that time Hollywood, like most of the rest of the world, didn't think appearing at a comic convention would help push anything.

To me the first cons seemed big, but compared to what San Diego is now they were small. The last one I went to six years ago was huge. It's interesting, it can be fun, but it's not a comic book convention anymore. It's a lot more than that.


Zot was written and drawn by Scott McCloud, better known now as the guy that wrote those books about comics, back in the '80's and published by Eclipse Comics. The first ten issues were in color, than the series went to black and white. I remember buying the comic when it first came out and liking it. Eclipse, Pacific, First, all these were new companies, opening the comic field up to an exciting time.

This book collects all the black and white issues of Zot that were written and drawn by Scott McCloud. The first ten, color issues, are not collected. McCloud refers to them as his learning curve for Zot. And there were two issues of a fill in drawn by Chuck Austen that is not included. But what is included is some great comics.

This is a great month for comic collections. American Flagg is finally supposed to come out. Bill Loebs' Journey is also supposed to be out this month.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Spending Habits

This post was conceived after reading a post by Heidi over at Comics Fairplay, one of my favorite blogs about comics. She was talking about how the economy is making her look at her spending habits and asked about how it changed ours. I was going to write an answer on her blog, but the more I think about it the more I realize that it may end up being kind of long winded so decided perhaps I should post it here instead.

It wan't that long ago that I didn't really think about the price of gas. Ok, maybe a little longer ago than it seems, but when gas was around two dollars a gallon or less, it didn't seem that big a thing. I wouldn't really think about gas prices when I was thinking about my expenses for the week. Stopping at a gas station to fill up was likely twenty dollars if that much. The last time I filled up my gas tank it was over $50.00. And I drive a Camary. It gets great gas mileage, I can drive from New Orleans to Memphis on one tank of gas and still have almost a quarter of a tank of gas left. Nowdays just thinking about driving anywhere makes me think about how bad I want to go or do I really need to go, I don't want to have to fill up the tank anymore than I have to.

My Local Comic Shop is about twenty five miles from where I live. Now I work in retail and I hate when people come in the store where I work and talk about how far they had to drive, all the way from Covington to Slidell. Well the reverse trip is what I drive to my LCS. Now I can sympathize with them when they say something like that. For me to drive to my LCS it's a fifty mile trip.

I can give one example of raising gas prices cutting back on my spending. This last week I didn't go to my LCS. There were none of the comics that I really want coming out this week, there were a few that I might have been interested in, but I didn't want to spend the money on gas. And I knew if I drove all the way out (ha) I would feel compelled to buy a few comics just so I didn't feel like the trip was a complete waste of time. Used to be I wouldn't have minded just picking up half a dozen comics to give them a try. But half a dozen comics could wind up costing twenty dollars.

That's another thing. I never worried too much about my comic spending before. It's been a long time since I tried to buy everything that was published. (Back in the days of the beginning of the direct market I did try that. At one time I had just about every comic First, Eclipse, Pacific and a bunch of other new companies put out. All those comics are long gone now.) But now I can go buy five comics and the price is over fifteen dollars.

I'm going to show my age here and recall back when I was a kid I could buy a couple comics, a coke and candy bar for a dollar. Yes, I know everything has went up in price and that was a long time ago, but I wonder how kids buy comics nowdays. Are their allowances that much more now?

Nowdays a comic has to be good to keep me reading. Once I used to buy to complete collections. Once I got rid of most of my collection I cured that habit. Now I'll buy a comic while it keeps me interested, but as soon as it stops I drop the comic. Lots of times that might mean when the writer leaves the comic, depending on what the incoming writer does to keep the comic interesting. I no longer have to buy every issue of a certain character just became I want to keep my collection complete. Except for a few comics I'm not even that big on keeping the past issues. If I think the comic is good enough to go back and read I'll buy the trades.

So when I'm at the LCS shop looking at the new issues I find it hard to pick up something new unless I've heard good things about it. I used to experiment with buying trades more too. Twenty dollars or so for a nice size trade wasn't that bad a deal. And it still isn't, but I have to think what else I could use that twenty for.

The price of everything is going up. As gas prices either continue to go up or even stablize at the prices they are now, more things will go up. The majority of goods and food are transported by trucks, which use gas, which cost the trucking companies to spend more money, which in the end gets pushed back to the rest of us. My last trip to the grocery store I ended up spending over fifty dollars and I was able to carry all the groceries in on one trip. And that was without buying any expensive meats or anything. Used to be I'd have to make at least two trips if I spend that much money.

Besides comics I spend a good bit of money on music. So I have to think if I want the new CD by My Morning Jacket or a couple of comics. I have to think about how much use I'll get out of which, the cd I might listen to and put on my Ipod to continue to listen to. The comics I will probably read and end up throwing to the side and perhaps not ever picking them up again, until it's time to get rid of them.

It's also made me look at how I buy my comics. In a previous post I talk about buying hardbacks through Amazon instead of my LCS. It just makes sense if I can save anywhere from ten to twenty dollars on the purchase. I hate to do it, I want to support my LCS, but I can't support it to my determinate.

It also means sometimes I don't buy the floppy and wait for the trade to come out. I know that's a sure way to cause the regular monthly to die if enough people do that, but if a single issue costs $3.00 and the trade costs $15.00, it's usually a better deal since more trades collect at least six issues of a series.

The price of gas continues to climb, the price of everything continues to climb, except for one thing. My salary. I don't think what people make is keeping up with how much everything is going up. And that means things have to get cut. I used to eat out at work almost everyday. Now I try to bring my lunch as much as possible. Just eating out once a week was anywhere from thirty dollars to fifty dollars a week. A lot of these expenses used to not seem that bad, but now it all adds up too quickly.

Unfortunately I don't foresee gas prices going down or even stop from going up anytime soon, so it will just mean more cutting back on comics and other things.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Hulk Movie

I saw the new Hulk movie this morning. Let me state first that I'm one of the few that enjoyed the first Hulk movie. There were problems with it, but I thought it was nice that it tried to be different from the typical superhero movie. Still saying that I have to also say that I enjoyed the new Hulk movie.

It's not an Iron Man but for an action/super hero movie it was good. The movie kept things moving so the pace didn't slow down. I thought the scene in the bottle factory when Bruce Banner was trying to explain to a bully why he didn't want to upset him and with his poor grasp of the language actually ended up telling the guy "You don't want to make me...hungry."

I like the way that they are trying to tie all their movies together, with sly references to the super solider formula and of course at the end with the Tony Stark cameo. I'm one of those old fogeys from back when Marvel was introducing all their characters and I remember as a kid loving it when Spiderman popped up for a few panels in the newest Daredevil. They created a world where all their heroes lived in together. Seeing it in the movies is pretty cool too.

The movies not perfect, but overall I enjoyed it and think it's a good addition to the Marvel universe of movies.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Whether to Buy?

I'm a strong supporter of my Local Comic Shop. Always have been and always will be. Back in the day if I happened to pick up a comic someplace that I had in my folder back at the comic shop I made it a point to still pay for the comic in the folder, I had it on hold, I just felt like I should pay for it.

But I have a problem. Books like the above, the new Starman hardcover collection. It sells for $49.99 at my LCS. On Amazon I can buy it for $36.49. (And actually it was advertised for $31.99 up until recently.) Even if my LCS offers me a discount, which might be 10%, I'm still saving ten dollars or more if I buy it from Amazon. That's a good bit of money as far as I'm concerned.

I want to buy my purchases from my LCS, but I can't justify paying that much extra money for a book when I get it for a much less expensive price.

I buy all my comics from the LCS but I admit that I've bought other hardback collections from Amazon. The two Love and Rockets collection, Invincible, Runaways and others. I still buy my trade paperbacks from the LCS, so the Daredevil, Walking Dead, Fables collection all come from my LCS. The difference in price with the hardbacks is just too big to pass up.

So what do you do?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

William Messener-Loebs

Journey is one of the best comic books every published. This comic was published years ago, it tells the story of a different Wolverine, Wolverine MacAllister, a frontiersman during the 1800s in the Middle American Wilderness. Mr. Loebs both wrote and drew the comic.

Lately Bill and his wife Nadine (it's hard to talk about Bill without Nadine, the two come as a unit) have fallen on hard times. Bill lost his right arm while an infant. After producing comics for Marvel and DC Bill found his talents no longer sought after. Changes in management meant changes on the talent. Bill found himself without work. Through some bad times Bill and Nadine ended up living in a Salvation Army shelter. Recently there have been some efforts made to help them out and from what I've read things have improved some.

But where are the new Bill Loebs stories? Where is new issues of Journey? Why have the past issues of Journey not been collected into trades? I've read recently that Fantagraphics was thinking of publishing a phone book edition of the series and more recently I've read that IDW is supposed to be doing a collection of the first twelve issues this summer. I'm not sure which is true, but I hope that there is a collection coming out from someone of this landmark comic series.

Bill or Nadine won't remember me, but some of my past comic book history is intertwined with them. My first published work was in the back of an issue of Journey. It was titled "The Duel" and was drawn by Sam Kieth. I would call and talk with Nadine about the story and she would offer advice before the story was done.

Years later when Sam Kieth was asked to contribute to the newly created Image Comics he came up with his character The Maxx and asked Bill Loebs to script it for him. At that time Bill said no. Sam came to me (and he might have asked a few others inbetween Bill and me) and asked if I wanted to help him with the scripts. It didn't take me long to say yes. At the time I think a lot of writers were seeing Image as an artist's company, most of the original founders were using friends and people that no one knew to write the series they were creating. I wasn't worried. This was the big time for me. I was doing a lot of short stories for a lot of small publishers, but nothing that was bringing in any real money.

Well, anyone that has read The Maxx knows my name was nowhere to be found on it. Sam was able to convince Bill to give it a go and decided to use Bill as the writer. I'm sure Bill has no idea that I was ever involved with the series, however briefly.

The first San Diego Con I ever went to I met Bill Loebs. It was the year that Sam Kieth, Wendi Lee and her boyfriend (I can't remember his name but he drew a few things for Eclipse) and I shared a room at the convention. Bill has always been a great guy.

Someone get JOURNEY in print. Let's collect those old issues and even better yet let's get some new issues of a JOURNEY comic out there.

Monday, May 12, 2008

New Creator Blog Added to Side Bar

I just added David Lapham's blog Fantastic Life! to my sidebar. David Lapham is the writer/artist/creator of Stray Bullets, one of my all time favorite comic series. He is currently writing and drawing Young Liars for Vertigo. I'm still on the fence on this series. I wasn't that thrilled with the first issue, but the second one was much better. Since it's David Lapham I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and stick around for awhile.

And does anyone know where I can get the rest of the Stray Bullets paperbacks? I have the first three but missed the remaining ones. Or I should say get them for something less than outrageous money, I've seen them listed on for a lot more than I really want to pay for them.

But everyone should check out his blog, I've been enjoying it. And give Young Liars a chance.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Gene Colan in Poor Health

It's being reported that Gene Colan is in poor health at the moment. According to a release from his wife:

My darling, sweet, handsome and brilliantly gifted husband’s liver is failing. The complications are very nasty. This week it’s fluid retention and encephalitis. He’s on powerful meds now to diminish the symptoms. He sleeps a lot and has very little energy.

When I first started collecting comic books my favorite character was Daredevil. The first comics I can remember collecting were the Barry Smith drawn ones with Starr Saxon, but shortly it was Gene drawing the hero.

Gene's art was like nothing else out there. I loved his art. His characters always looked more real to me. His panel design was not always the standard. Gene was not afraid to try something different.

I grew up with Gene's artwork. To me he was probably the first artist that I followed. And for most of Howard the Duck's run he was the artist. How much better can that be: Howard the Duck, Steve Gerber and Gene Colan?

I hope I won't have to be writing about Gene's passing soon. We just lost Steve Gerber, I don't want to lose Gene too. For more about this and for something to do go check out this page.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Iron Man Movie

I went and saw the new Iron Man movie last night. In comic book movies there are two levels, the first being the Spiderman movies that are the top of the list, the best ones. The last Batman movie would fall in here. Than there is the bottom of the list, where others movies fall, like the last Superman movie. Iron Man belongs in with Spiderman. For the longest time Marvel used to have problems with their movies based on their comic characters. It seemed like they could do nothing right, while DC had the first run of Superman movies and than the Tim Burton Batman movies. While Marvel had movies like the Punisher. Now the situation seems to be reversed. Except for the recent Batman movies DC seems to be having trouble getting their characters on the big screen.

This movie keeps all the best from the comic and updates it so it plays in today's world. But what makes
this movie work is Robert Downey, Jr. This man takes the role of Tony Stark and makes it his own. Actually all the actors in this movie do an exceptional job. Iron Man is a fun movie from the beginning to the end. What was suprising were the humor bits in the movie. There were a few times I laughed really hard at what was going on. But the humor wasn't forced or a tongue in cheek bit done to let the viewers know that they really know how silly superheroes are. The humor came from the characters and the situations.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Comics This Week

This week was a fairly light week as far as comics purchased. New Avengers # 40, Daredevil: Blood of the Tarantula, Fantastic Four # 556, DC Universe 0 and I picked up a copy of Young Liars # 2 which I missed from a few weeks ago.

New Avengers was interesting, telling the start of the Invasion from the Skrull's point of view. The ending shows another hero that is really a Skrull. I won't spoil the surprise, if it really is a surprise. I'm not sure how many people will be surprised, this hero seems to have been named as a Skrull online awhile ago.

Daredevil I found to be a typical story that could have been done at almost anytime in the hero's continuity. While the monthly series is one of my favorite reads this was just bland.

DC Universe didn't make me want to pick up the coming Final Crisis. I have to admit that I haven't been following very many DC titles lately. Everytime I pick up a DC title I just find I can't get into it. I was enjoying Manhunter, so hopefully I'll be able to pick that up when it comes back. Again the ending of this issue has what is supposed to be a BIG surprise and again it seems that this reveal has been leaked online for awhile now. Nice art, but I still haven't decided if I'll pick up the series when it comes out or not.

Young Liars was better than the first issue, but I'm still at something of a loss with this series. I loved Stray Bullets and really want to like this series. The first issue really left me cold and that's why I originally passed on the second issue, but my local shop owner convinced me it was worth a second look. I'll stick around for another issue or two to see what's happening and than decide if it's worth continuing.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Echo # 2

I know, another review that is beyond late. This book has been out for weeks now, but I wanted to at least make mention of it. The first issue of Echo really was just a setup for what is coming now. We only saw a little of what was happenin. This issue the storyline starts to open up and we start to find out more about the characters.

From what I've read so far I'll be back for the next issue. Terry Moore's art is always first rate and it continues to be so in this series so far. I like the way he can be realistic and than throw in a "bigfoot" moment in the art.

I'm intrigued by the storyline so far and am interested to see where he goes with it. I was a semi regular reader of Strangers In Paradise, but I felt it wallowed in its melodrama too much, and after reading it for so long I had to finally give it up.

It's kind of interesting that three of the big independent creators from the old days of the black and white explosion: Dave Sim, Jeff Smith and Terry Moore all came out with new books around the same time.

Joss Whedon's Dollhouse

From what I've read they've started filming the new Joss Whedon tv show "Dollhouse".
The show stars Eliza Dushku as the main character Echo. Eliza was Faith in the Buffy shows as no one needs to be reminded. Fox explains the show:

"Echo (Eliza Dushku) is a young woman who is literally everybody's fantasy. She is one of a group of men and women who can be imprinted with personality packages, including memories, skills, language—even muscle memory—for different assignments. The assignments can be romantic, adventurous, outlandish, uplifting, sexual and/or very illegal. When not imprinted with a personality package, Echo and the others are basically mind-wiped, living like children in a futuristic dorm/lab dubbed the Dollhouse, with no memory of their assignments—or of much else. The show revolves around the childlike Echo's burgeoning self-awareness, and her desire to know who she was before, a desire that begins to seep into her various imprinted personalities and puts her in danger both in the field and in the closely monitored confines of the Dollhouse."

I'm very excited that Joss is returning to television, after making what I consider three of the best shows ever in Buffy, Angel and Firefly. The new show has a lot of his old writers coming back to work with him, which is another plus. Another actor from the old shows will be in this show. Amy Acker, better known as Fred, will have a regular role in the series.

Hopefully this will be a show that they will give a better chance than they did Firefly. I for one will be watching when it comes out, hopefully it will be on the Fall schedule.

Walking Dead

I know I'm way behind in even trying to talk about the latest issue of The Walking Dead. But I have to make a comment on the latest issue, the end of the attack on the Prison. Kirkman has been saying before this storyline started that there were going to be big changes in store for the comic and not all the characters would make it through. That was an understatement. I can't think of any comic that basically wipes out over half the cast in one storyline.

I don't want to give too much away, just in case anyone hasn't read the end of the storyline yet. The effect of not knowing hits you like a bat upside the head. No matter who I thought was going to die I was still taken by surprise.

For readers who see this series as a zombie comic you're doing yourself a disservice if that's the reason you don't pick it up. Yes, there are zombies, but they are not the focus of the series. Some issues go by and you don't even see a zombie. This is a character driven series, a story of people coping with loss and trying to survive in a world that is completely changed from what they know.

This is one of my favorite comics being published today. It is published by Image Comics. The above imagine is of the newest trade collection that should be out soon. It's the eighth trade. The series is coming up to its 50th issue. How many comics from the Big Two make it to issue 50 nowdays? Much less one from one of the other publishers.

If you haven't tried this comic yet, you really should. It's not what you expect and I really think you'll be surprised by how much you end up liking it.

Giving Fans A Bad Name II

The heirs of Superman writer and creator Jerry Siegel were awarded the copyright to Action Comics #1. Now what all this means legally is for better minds than mine to figure out. There's still a lot to be figured out, it seems that they only have the rights to what appeared in that first issue, so where does that leave characters like Lex Luthor and others that came in later issues? Where does that leave DC as far as publishing Superman comics? Lots of issues to figure out.

What to me is almost shameful is the reaction of a lot of fandom to this decision. Instead of celebrating the win of one of the creators of one of the most famous icons in the world these fans are worried what this might mean to their daily fix of Superman. They are calling the Siegels greedy for wanting what should be rightfully theirs. People are claiming it would be all right if it was Jerry Siegel winning the award, but since he's dead that would be kind of hard. Why shouldn't his family share in some of the riches that Jerry's creation brings in.

A contract was signed is what is used to side with Warners. They didn't have to sign the contract, they wanted the quick money. Well, it wasn't that much money, even for the time. What they wanted was to get their character in print. At that time no one had any idea what a comic book character could achieve. If there were any ideas they probably would have imagined things alongside what comic strip creators achieved. Even though comic strip artists sold their rights they could end up making a lot of money and work on the strips they created for years.

If anyone thinks it is fair for two naive, young creators signing away their life's opus without knowing what they are doing is missing the point of characters like Superman, who represent the good guy looking out for the little guy.

Giving Fans A Bad Name

My question is pretty simple: Why should a woman have to wear a button to tell strangers not to grope her breasts?

What am I talking about? You can read more about it at this post from Occasional Superheroine.

Reading the guy's justification of the whole thing is...I'm not sure what it's like. I'm reminded back in the day when Amazing Heroes was published and they had a column by a supposed young comic fan and it read like the worst cliches of comic fans. You read it not sure if it was a parody or real. That's what reading this was like, thinking that this couldn't be real, but unfortunately it is.

Comic Fans worry about comics being accepted as worthy of adult readership, maybe they should worry about comic fans being accepted as adults. With stunts like this it makes it hard.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Dave Stevens Dies

I remember when I first saw Dave Steven's work. It was in the back pages of a Pacific comic, Mike Grell's StarSlayer. Like everyone reading it I was blown away by the artwork. The story that went along with this artwork proved pretty good too. Pacific published a few more chapters of the strip which was of course The Rocketeer and it was finally finished and collected by Eclipse Comics. Than Comico got a go at the series for two issues. It finally ended up with a final issue at Dark Horse Comics.

I'm not sure if Dave was the first to start championing Bette Page or just at the start. In the Rocketeer he created a character that was a stand in for the former pin up queen Bette Page. He was a big fan of hers and latter became a friend and helped her.

Dave Stevens was not a fast artist. From what I've read he would labor over a single panel, working till he got it perfect in his eyes. Unfortunately the comic industry is not set up for such a painstaking artist and he did little more work. He made his living doing commissions and illustrations for others.

When I first saw Dave's work it was an exciting time for the comic book industry. The direct market was just beginning and it seemed like there was an infinite multitudes of possibilities for the industry. Marvel and DC were no longer the only comics that people wanted to read. New companies were appearing almost overnight. Pacific, Eclipse, Comico and more were publishing a lot of new exciting comics.

Dave's art and writing seemed to reflect that excitement. There was such a love for the medium in his artwork. His stories were fun to read. Everything didn't have to be doom and gloom. You could have fun in comics.

My sympathies go out to his friends and family.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Howard Again

More of Steve Gerber and Howard the Duck. I picked this up when it first came out years ago as a miniseries and have been meaning to pick up the trade collection but never got around to it. A few weeks ago I decided to get it. It's Steve Gerber back on his creation and is worth the price of admission. If you're a fan of Steve Gerber or Howard the Duck, pick up this collection and you'll be glad you did.

The Ten-cent Plague

A new book by David Hajdu, the author of Positivetly 4th Street, is coming out next week on March 18. I haven't seen anything about this book before this week. The book is about the censorship battles from the fifties. I enjoyed his previous book on Bob Dylan so I'm looking forward to this. I'm always interested in finding good books on the history of the comic industry.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Steve Gerber R.I.P.

Most of my heroes have been more of the literary bent. I actually was thinking along these lines earlier today, how most guys can tell you all about what type of bat you should use, the difference between gloves, etc, but some reason none of that held much interest for me. While other boys were worshipping at the shrine of Mickey Mantle or Micheal Jordan I bent knee for names like Stan Lee or Harlan Ellison.

One of these heroes of mine just died last night. His name was Steve Gerber and he wrote comic books for a living. But what comic books he wrote. In the 70's he wrote comics for Marvel. He wrote Man-Thing, Defenders, Omega the Unknown and many others. Reading a Steve Gerber comic was like reading no other comic book. And of course he created Howard the Duck. Unfortunately the character is mostly remembered today for a movie that is considered to be one of the worst ever made. The movie did not come close to capturing the spirit and life that Steve brought to his four color creation.

Mr. Gerber had pulmonary fibrosis, a condition that turns the lung tissue to scar and destroys the lungs ability to function. He had trouble breathing. I can imagine the pain and struggle he took to just breath, having seen this in the past year with my Dad. It's heartbreaking to watch someone you love just struggle to take a breath, to not even be able to walk across the room without being out of breath.

Even today some of my favorite comic books are those that Mr. Gerber worked on. His run on the Defenders is one of the best team comic books ever done. His Man-Thing took a character that literally had no personality and created a comic like no other. His Howard the Duck will always be a high water mark for any comic creator.

I never met the man, but tonight I am grieving. He's talked about his illness in various places, so this isn't a complete surprise, but you always hold out hope for the best. For more about the man go read Mark Evanier's more eloquent post or read some of Steve's last posts himself at his blog.

Sometimes someone that you never meet can touch you in ways that you never imagine. Steve Gerber was one of those people.

Friday, February 1, 2008

The Sword

I never saw Ultra and after picking up a random issue of Girls and being lost in the midst of the story never went back to it I never gave much thought to giving The Sword a try. But I've read a few good reviews of it and a few bloggers have reccomended it so I decided to give it a try. Today I picked up the first three issues. (I know the fourth issue is pictured, but I haven't read that one yet, I only have the first three issues so far.)

I was very impressed. The first issue takes its time in setting up the characters and the situation. I felt bad when Dara's family was killed. The Luna Brothers had succeeded in making me care for them within the first half of the book.

For some reason this series reminds me of Roger Zelzany's Amber series. I just started re-reading the Amber series and even though there is no real similarities between the two series there is something about the two that seem to connnect.

So far this book has captured me and I intend to be back for more. In fact I'm going to have to see if I can find the fourth issue now.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Iron Man Movie

At first when I heard they were doing an Iron Man movie I wasn't all that excited. But the more I've seen of the movie the more excited I'm getting. There's even supposed to be a cross over between this movie and the Hulk movie coming out too. Paving the way for the Avengers movie that they want to make.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Heath Ledger Dead

Heath Ledger, 28 years old, was found dead in his apartment by his housekeeper. Already the internet is full of what the reason for his death was, but at the moment it's too early to tell. I have read that it was pneumonia. I think we should all sit back and just wait till we hear the official reason. His family and friends are going through enough without having to hear all the causes of his death. Regardless of the outcome, this is tragic. Heath was a talented young actor and a father and son and husband, who will be missed.

Monday, January 21, 2008

A Fan of Steve Gerber

The previous post mentions how much a fan I am of Howard the Duck. Well, I should expand that to tell you that I am a fan of the creator and writer of that comic book Steve Gerber. When Mr. Gerber was writing comics for Marvel in the 70's I was a big fan of his work. His Defenders for me is still one of the best superhero team book ever. The man did not write normal superhero comic books. And that was the joy of it.

Unfortunately Mr. Gerber is not well. He needs a lung transplant and at the moment is in the hospital. You can read more about it from the source himself over at his blog. He had went home from the hospital only to be rushed back this weekend after having trouble breathing and even standing up.

From the sound of things he is having very serious troubles and I can only wish him the best.

Rember to Buy

The Howard the Duck Omnibus is coming. Scheduled for March this huge book is 800 pages collecting all of Steve Gerber's comic book work on the duck. It will include stories from Adventures Into Fear #19, Man-Thing #1, Giant-Size Man-Thing #4-5, Howard the Duck #1-33, Marvel Treasury Edition #12, and Marvel Team-Up #96.

This is definitely one of those expensive hardbacks that I will have to put away some money for. Howard the Duck was what I consider one of the high points in comic books. I loved this book. I have the black and white Essential, but will have to shell out for this book. The only thing that could make this book better would have been to collect the comic strip work that Gerber did on the Duck too.

But I'm happy with this.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Immortal Iron Fist

For most fans X-Men was the best work of the Claremont/Byrne team. To me it will always be their work on Iron Fist. They created a believable and likable character in those early Iron Fist comics. Up to that time the Iron Fist comic had been handed to a score of different writers, each not really sure how to deal with a comic that was just added to the line due to the popularity of kung-fu. Iron Fist's character reflected that. When Claremont and Byrne took over the book they injected a new sense of life into the character. Danny became a person and not just the face beneath the mask. The supporting cast came to life. Misty and Danny's romance became a central point of the book. A back story was created. The reader just knew there was a lot of history coming up in the comic.

And than the comic was merged with Luke Cage's Hero For Hire comic and not long after that the two creators departed the series. After that the series had its ups and downs, but for my money never equaling those first dozen or so issues.

Now Marvel has brought Iron Fist back to life. The creators of the new series are Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction and David Aja. Brubaker writes one of my favorite comics at the moment, Daredevil, so I had high hopes for this series. I was somewhat afraid what would be tried also, for me the memory of the old series still held a very special place in my heart and it's when fans feel like this about a series that they become overly protective and wary of any different take on what they feel is "their" character." I have to admit I was feeling a little like that.

But happily I can report the new team has updated Danny Rand and Iron Fist and created a great new comic. They've made the Iron Fist a legacy comic. Evidently this is a character like Green Lantern where their power is handed down from person to person, keeping the hero alive if not the person himself. This actually fits in with the original series, as the Iron Fist was always said to exist before Danny Rand became the hero. Here they take the concept and flesh it out. I was a little apprehensive when I first read about this, afraid we'd see some really crazy Iron Fists throughout the years. But their versions of Iron Fists throughout the year fit into the time they lived.

What they've did is help make a history for Iron Fist. They've created a great character in the Iron Fist previous to Danny Rand. There is a lot of back story in Orson Randall and I'd like to see more of him and his history of the Iron Fist.

Still none of this would matter if they screwed up Danny Rand. And they didn't. Danny is one of those characters that is still somewhat naive in the scope of life. He's not as bad as he first was, but there is still a nice naviety about Danny Rand. He's not the jokester of the Spiderman comics, but he still can deliver a one liner when things seem dark and gritty. We see the friendship between Danny and Luke Cage, which was the best part of combining the two comics years ago. The contrast to their two personalitites and background made for a fascinating friendship.

As for the art side of things, Aja brings a grace and beauty to the character. When we see Iron Fist leaping acoss a building and jumping from a group of Hydra assassains there is a grace to the character that we've never seen before. I'm still not sure if I'm sold completely on the costume changes, I liked the old cut away shirt style, but it's close enough to the original that I don't hate it. It's just different and I'm not completely adjusted to it yet.

I missed these issues when they original came out and just now picked up the trade. I don't buy the trades for a lot of comics, but Iron Fist will be one I continue to. This is one to add to the collection.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Stan Lee and the Rise and Fall of the American Comic Book

Stan Lee and the Rise and Fall of the American Comic Book
by Jordan Raphael and Tom Spurgeon

I'm part of the generation that grew up with Stan Lee. The first Marvel comic book I remember reading was Daredevil #48. It wasn't written by Stan but at that time all the Marvel comics were written in his style. Even if he wasn't writing them, you could feel his presence in every word. At that time finding back issues was fairly easy and inexpensive so once I started collecting comics I started going backwards as well as forward. Before long I was immersed in Stan Lee's writing.

I have to admit that Stan is one of the people that helped influence me more than most. His writing may be overblown and more than a little grandiose but at its heart there laid a truth about right and wrong, about how you should live your life. Then comic book heroes were true heroes, ready to lay down their life for others, not willing to bend the rules to help themselves. I grew up believing that "with great power comes great responsibility."

Today it's easy to criticize Stan. I believed that the Bullpen was a great group of artists working with Stan that loved everything about their job. Today we know the truth was a little different. Stan was as much a showman as a creator. During some tough times we would have liked to see Stan take to heart the philosophy of his creations and do the right thing.

During the Jack Kirby art situation Stan has claimed there was nothing he could do to get Jack's art back from Marvel. This was probably true, by that point he was little more than a figurehead at the company, but the right thing to do still would have been to stand up for Jack. Add his voice to the others that were calling for Marvel to give Jack his artwork back. Even if he couldn't do anything let everyone know he saw the wrong and wanted to right it. That's what Captain America would have done. And perhaps it's naive to believe in right and wrong according to a fictional character like Captain America, but that's how I grew up.

The voices of Stan's creations were always a part of my inner voices helping to guide me in right and wrong. They were added to others that helped guide and shape my life, but they were always there.

So all this is a preamble to the fact that I come to a book about Stan Lee with just little invested. As I mentioned above, today it's easy to lay the entire failure of the comic book market at the feet of Stan Lee. For some he's been demoted to no more than basically a secretary to Jack Kirby and Steve Dikto, just adding what they wanted in the word balloons.

The real truth of who created what and how much of each creation was due to who may never be known. Too many of the people at the point of creation are no longer here or no longer talking. All we can know for certain is that none of the Marvel characters were created alone and without help.

This book presents the most even handed portrait of Stan Lee that I have seen in a long while. The writers don't try to cover up Stan's mistakes, but they don't throw Stan on the garbage pile and ignore his contributions to the comic industry either. It presents a fascinating look into the creation of American comic books and their history alongside the history of Stan Lee who happened to be there alongside a lot of this history and helping to create some of it.

The history of the comic book intrigues me and I want to see more books like this. In the last few years we've been lucky to have a few more written, but we need to see more while some of the creators of the comic book are still alive. I'm eagerly awaiting Mark (who seems to know everyone in the comic book industry and a lot of the history) Evanier's book on Jack Kirby. I'd love to see more books about the history of the comic book medium.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Buffy #10

Season Eight of the Buffy comic book series has made it to issue ten so far and I have to say that the quality of the book has been maintained throughout the run. Of course there's only been two writers on the series up to this point, Joss Whedon and Brian K. Vaughn; and with those two writing it the quality should be expected to be pretty high.
Putting the eighth season in a comic book has opened the series up to possibilities that Joss would have not had the budget for if the show had still be on television. I don't think we would have seen a giant Dawn, Willow flying through the air and some of the demons that the scoobies have faced. While I was worried at the start that this ablility not to limit the special effects would over whelm the storyline they have kept it in check.

The characters sound like the characters from the show. Of course with Joss writing them they should, but Brian pulls off this task also. His Faith arc was, perhaps, my favorite one so far. If I have any quibble with the book it's that I feel like Buffy has been getting the short end of it. I know she was in the first arc, and the present issue, but it seems she's there to make the required Buffy smart remarks and fight the Big Bad. We really haven't seen any issues yet that get inside her head or advance her character. She seems to be a supporting player in her own book.

That said I'll counter my own arguement. In the current issue we do get some characterization of the Buffster and Willow and a speed bump in their relationship. Still even with this it felt like Buffy was not the main focus of the story. I guess what I'm saying is that I'd like to see an issue that had Buffy in a quieter mode, able to expand a little more on her character and not just the one liners and the slaying.

Still like I said, this is a minor quibble, I do see Buffy moving forward, perhaps just not as fast as I'd like, and the other characters have been great. Just like watching the tv show, sometimes you have to wait till the season is farther along to discover what the true meaning of things are and I think we'll discover more as Season eight progresses.

All told Buffy has become one of my favorite comics and is the first read for the week when I get my comics.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Writing Contest

From Newsrama back in December:



Most contests in the comic book business are geared toward artists. Shadowline is bucking the tide and creating a contest geared toward writers!

According to Shadowline editor, Kristen Simon, “I’d been hoping to see a super-hero book with a strong female lead to act as a counter-point to our popular Bomb Queen series, but none were forthcoming. So I decided to come up with a contest to create a super-heroine for the 21st Century.”

The character will be 100% creator-owned as all Image and Shadowline books are (Trademark and copyright to be shared by writer and artist). The winning entry will be featured in their own self-titled three issue mini-series to be drawn by fan-favorite artist, Franchesco! (She-Dragon, Green Lantern Corps Quarterly) and back-end profits will be split between the creators.

Contest regulations are listed below. Neither Image nor Shadowline can or will be responsible for synchronicity (similar ideas appearing at the same time).

No feedback will be provided on submissions, just a confirmation of receipt.

Contest will be divided into three parts as outlined below, deviation will result in immediate disqualification:

Round One:
Contestants e-mail a BRIEF one paragraph story synopsis by January 31, 2008 to: Stories/concept must be original with original characters. No pre-existing characters may be used unless owned by contestant.

Round Two:
Ten semi-finalists will be chosen from all entries received by the above date and notified by e-mail. They will then be required to turn in 5 (five) fully scripted pages by February 29, 2008.

Round Three:
The five finalists will be announced and their synopses published on March 10. Readers will be encouraged to vote on their favorite.* (Writers are strongly advised to direct traffic to the contest via message boards, myspace, etc…every vote counts!) Polls will close on April 4, 2008.

The winner will be announced April 28 with initial concept art/character design by Franchesco. First issue will be solicited with a cover date of November, 2008.

Phil Zimelman

I forgot to mention someone in the last post that contributed a lot to the look of Diebold. All the covers to the comic were colored by Phil Zimelman, who was a colorist working for Marvel and DC at the time. He did a great job on the covers. Phil did a lot of work with Mike Zeck on his Punisher covers for Marvel at the time. I'm not sure what Phil is up to today, I haven't talked to him in years. Does anyone know if he's still working in comics today?


Diebold #1 was published in 1994. It was written by me with artwork by Brian Clifton (who did the picture in the logo for this blog.) The front cover was by Sam Kieth and the back cover was by Mike Zeck. On the second printing (yes, we did a second printing of the comic) we flipped the covers and Mike's cover became the front one and Sam went to the back. We self published the comic under the name Silent Partners. We did two issues of the comic and than kind of imploded. We received some good reviews and had decent sales for a black and white comic book at the end of the boom. I'll talk more about this comic in other posts. We financed the comic in a fairly unusual way. More in other posts.