Wednesday, June 28, 2006

My Erlangen Diary part 3

As you have probably already noticed I didn´t get to post in the last few days. That is in part due to the fact that I was trying to free some space on my computer. Add to that the fact that I made the mistake to surf aimlessly so I ended up uploading tons of files and burning CDs left and right. Which has freed some GBs on my computer but which hasn´t helped with getting posts done for this blog.

The second reason is that I normally sleep a few hours directly after work because when I get home the computer is not always free so I take the chance to catch up on my sleep so I can post later. But in the last few days my brother insisted to let the sun in and let some fresh air into the bedroom - of course while I´m trying to sleep. This can´t be done in the seven hours BEFORE I get home or AFTER I´m done with sleeping. And it sure as hell it can´t be done when he´s alone there, sleeping and stinking up the room. I don´t know how it is with all you readers out there but I don´t sleep very good in a room that is bombarded with sunlight and a constant draft. When I was younger ( meaning very little, like when I was a little boy ) I had trouble sleeping with the lights out but over the years I got used to sleep in darker lit rooms. Now I can sleep best in absolute darkness and light just bothers me when I´m trying to sleep. Of course my brother has no such limitations being able to withstand the fiercest environment when he´s trying to sleep. No lights, no winds, no thunderstorms, no hail, no rain, no explosions, no earth quakes or apokalypses. I think it is not possible to wake him from sleep with conventional weapons. But enough of the deathlike state my brother enters whenever he sleeps ( the only thing that partly resembles this it the " odin sleep " of Marvel´s Thor comics ) and my sleep deprivation problems.

Just one last comment - in a case of an attack by aliens on earth and the following enslavement through mindcontrol I would be the only eartling who is immune to it. Sleep deprivation, changing the daily routine constantly, malnutrition, not getting enough water to drink, being constantly bombarded with insults and / or propaganda and undergoing grueling work ? Dude, that´s my daily bread and butter. Like Rick Jones once said : Try counting to one billion in the negative zone without going crazy.

But I really should get to the next part of my Erlangen diary since I´m not sure how often I will get to post in the next two weeks. The rest of my family will be in Spain on vacation which means that I will finally be able to get the comics back into my desk, label my videos and watch all the tv shows I have been taping like the last season of 24 ( which was shown like six months ago ) and six videos of CASE CLOSED. Since my brother will only be gone for only two weeks this will be my only chance to catalogue my videos and get them in order. So I guess I will spend the next two weeks in front of the VCR and trying to get as much done as is humanly possible without collapsing - leaving me no time for the column. So I want to post as much as I can this week between my preparations for next week. The first two things I will be doing this weekend after the rest of my family has left will be buying and drinking water till it comes out of my ears and making and eating one big salad ( meaning a real salad with green salad leaves in it and tuna fish and feta cheese - not just some tomatoes and cucumber and calling it salad ). So without wasting any more time let´s get to the next day of my diary :


Today I awoke at six o clock. We didn´t have any showering gel with us so I washed myself with the soap and a small pack of dove showering gel that the hotel provided us with. Which worked out pretty good. At the breakfast I finally saw the pool, which according to my brother is just as big as the pool in Spain. Since I haven´t seen that much of it because on my last visit to Spain it was constantly raining I had to take his word for it. For breakfast I had spiced ham and salami and no jam or nutella this time. After finishing breakfast I woke my brother and emptied the comics I bought yesterday from my suitcase. While my brother ate his breakfast I read the new issue of DIE KLEINEN MUTTERFICKER and then we drove to the Kongresszentrum where the convention was held. This time we found it rather fast but we were a bit early and had one hour till the con opened again. After half an hour the shopping mall near the Kongresszentrum, Galeria Kaufhof, opened and me and my brother took turns to buy the most important thing for the next days in Erlangen.

Which in his case was showering gel ( which he later on forgot in the car so we ended up using the small packs of gel from the hotel for the rest of our stay ), tooth paste, deo spray, water and - socks ! That´s right, socks. My brother has this strange obsession with buying socks whenever he gets the chance...which from his account stems from the fact that I never buy any socks. But that´s only because he buys enough socks for both of us and I normally spend most of my money on important things like comics. He wanted to share the water with me but I bought my own because he had only two bottles of water and I need one bottle of water per day at minimum. He bought some cheap water anyway that did not taste that good ( of course I sampled it before I went to buy my own ) so I decided to pay a little more and get some Volvic water with just a taste of orange and apple. The orange had a bitter aftertaste but apple was okay.

Since I bought way to much comics yesterday ( and the big comic fleamarket hadn´t even taken place since it was scheduled for Saturday ! ) I decided to try and get some sketches ( yesterday I got a sketch of Charon by Levin Kurio and a sketch of Aische and one of the little motherfuckers by the Dinter brothers ). At first I went to the table of SCHWARZER TURM where I had a quick chat with Robi ( comparing our t - shirts again ) and then went to the CARLSEN booth to ask how the requirements were to get a sketch from Humberto Ramos who was one of the main reasons I went to Erlangen and got a number for Ralf König. You always have to ask what you have to do to get a sketch which was one of the reasons why I didn´t even try to get some sketches from the PANINI booth since their requirements are like a mix between SURVIVOR and the LAS VEGAS GAMBLING TOURNAMENT.

If you don´t know Ralf König you probably don´t leave the house very much, he´s this guy ( or gay which term you like better ) who draws this hilarious comics about gay people. It doesn´t matter if you are pro gay or anti gay but his comics are ( the ones I read anyway ) damn funny because he´s just a master of situation comedy and timing always focusing on how strange the customs of heterosexual people must look to gays. A few of his comics have been adapted to film like DER BEWEGTE MANN or WIE DIE KANICKEL. Sorry, I don´t know the american titles. Anyway he´s know everywhere and I know his comics are translated to spanish by LA CUPULA and his stuff has appeared in comic magazines like EL VIBORA ( kind of the spanish version of HEAVY METAL ) which sadly has been canceled this year. So he´s pretty famous and I decided to get in line for a sketch while waiting for the start of the signing of Humberto Ramos. I had a quick exchange with the master ( I asked which comic was his latest one since everybody in line had a different book to sign ), got a nice sketch and a number for Humberto Ramos. My number was 39 so I didn´t expect to get a sketck at the first day but there were two signings sheduled for the following days so I counted on getting one eventually. I mean I especially bought the REVELATIONS hardcover from to get a sketch. Not that I minded, the art was mind blowing and I didn´t have the american issues, but it would be extra plus good to have it signed. I already counted on having to purchase it to get a sketch which ( as I mentioned in one of my earlier postings ) is one of the reasons I stop buying new comics published in Germany six months before Erlangen.

Since I had some time before the start of it I went looking for some comics and found the booth of Andi´s Comic Express where I gave them a big thank you for saving my comic collection and where I looked at the trades of Mike Grell´s JON SABLE trades. I didn´t buy them because I have to buy them one at a time because of my tight budget but I hadn´t had a chance to see the actual trades and I don´t like to buy comics without seeing them first. But I bought two issues of Kelley Jones´run on BATMAN. Then I went around the vendor tables buying some comics and went on to the signing. I stood in line for two and a half hours ( it was supposed to go for two hours but Humberto decided to add an additional 30 minutes ) but I didn´t get a sketch. At the end of the signing the people of CARLSEN told the remaining people in line that the numbers of today would be valid for tomorrow. The best thing about waiting in line for a sketch is talking with other fans and comparing the sketches from your sketchbooks. The worst thing is that you always are next to a person who loves all the comics you hate. In my case it was a die hard fan of the Ennisher. After the end of the signing for today I was pretty exhausted so I went to the stairs near the entrance where some pillows were spread out and a monitor was showing clips from animes. I sat down, listened to my jazztracks and made some notes into my diary ( by the way there IS a new episode online of RedJazzRadio - link in the link section of this blog ) which were the last ones I could make of this day and the next so for the rest of the second day and the third day I have to rely on my memory which is not sooo good.

If my memory is correct at the end of the day I met up with my brother only to find out that while I was pretty tired and only wanted to get back to the hotel as quick as possible he insisted on going to the meeting of the Comicforum, a german online message board. We had no idea where it was taking place but with the address and a city map of Erlangen I managed to get us there without many detours. Altough I was initially against it ( and the fact that my brother drank too much beer for my taste ) it was really nice. Of course I sat next to a femal gambit fan but as the night progressed we had a really good time the discussions getting more absurd and funny as the meeting progressed. During one of the conversations I realized that Gambit is in fact the Kenny of the X - Men, which in hindsight is one more reason for Marvel to let me write an X - Men comic because I promise to kill him off in the worst way possible in every issue. Now before you dismiss the idea of Gambit as the X - Men´s Kenny just think about all the things they have in common : nobody understands them because they have a speech impediment ( Kenny´s coat and Gambit´s accent ), they both come from poor white trash families, both wear stupid coats and their death is highly entertaining.

Afterwards we went to the SCHWARZER RITTER with a few of the Comicforum people. There was not much room at the table so I sat down at the next table where some time later three other comic fans ( two guys and a woman ) joined me. We got to talk and I found out that they were MOSAIK fans who had come all the way from Leipzig to the convention. The woman was especially impressed that I, as a superhero comic reader, knew who the ABRAFAXE were and we had a good exchange till another guy sat down at our table who was weird at the beginning ( I am always suspicious of people who start singing without any apparent reason ) and who got really annoying over a short period of time. He was really starting to insult the guys from Leipzig till we told him to shut up. After being thrown out he even tried to get back in but we all decided to call it a night and head back to the hotel.

The others wanted to call a cab but I insisted that they let us drive them because in our conversation we found out that we were staying at the same hotel ( what a coincidence ). Which sadly meant a long walk since our car was still where the meeting of the Comicforum had taken place. But we arrived at the hotel safe and sound where some of their friends were still up and we were introduced to them ( one of them was the husband of the woman ), had a short conversation but went to bed pretty quick.

So although I didn´t like the idea of going for some beers we met some nice, fellow comic fans. But I fear that´s all we have time for today. I hope I can post more of what happened the next two days in Erlangen tomorrow.

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    Saturday, June 24, 2006

    MARVEL tricked SUBZERO ( and what I have been reading, too )

    Yesterday I was at the comic shop. I initially wanted to wait a few weeks after Erlangen to go to the comic shop because I still have tons of stuff to read. But if I wait to long the stuff just keeps piling up. And since I got some spending money yesterday I decided to spend it on the best thing money can buy : comics. I got TAROT - witch of the black rose 38, 52 week four to six, SQUADRON SUPREME 4, WONDER WOMAN 1, SAVAGE DRAGON 126, JSA 86, FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD SPIDER - MAN 9, NEXTWAVE - agents of H.A.T.E 5 and SHANNA 1.

    I know what you´re thinking. SHANNA 1 ? Isn´t that more than one year old ? Yes, it is. But it´s been sitting in my bag with all the other issues from that series because Marvel tricked me. They tricked me ! When I ordered the series through PREVIEWS it was solicitated as a Marvel MAX series. When I ordered it it was an uncensored, action packed, boobs flying everywhere adult comic. And when the series came out it was a watered down, totally censored, no nipples or boobies Frank - Cho - light Marvel Knights sissy version. Not that I neeed naked boobs in every comic I read. There are tons of comics I read without exposed boobies on every page ( for that there are comics like TAROT ) but when you advertise with boobies you have to deliver the boobies. It´s just something that you owe to your readers. Don´t lie to your readers. Because the worst part is not that there are no boobies but that they were not honest about it. If the readers knows beforehand that there will be no naked women he can base his decision ( among other things ) on this fact. Not this fact alone but it IS part of the decision process. IF however you make a decision on facts that turn out to be untrue that decision turns out to be wrong. If you knew there would be no boobies you may nave ordered it or not. But you would not have ordered it based on facts that are untrue. And there was no chance to cancel the order when readers had the information that it would be different from the advertised version. You had no chance to react.

    Now I say, Marvel knew that if they solicit the SHANNA series by Frank Cho as an uncensored comic the orders would go through the roof. So they did it. I´m not saying that it was malice on Marvel´s part and they set out to trick the readers from the get go. But they didn´t care if they could really go through with it as an uncensored version as long as they had the orders. Later on they changed it to the MK version and had Frank Cho redraw the pages. And that is something they MUST have known to happen. What ? I´m supposed to believe that a big comic publishing company like Marvel suddenly realized they would not be able to go through with it ? Afte more than 40 years publishing comic in America ? I´m supposed to believe that what was possible in Richard Corben´s CAGE is suddenly impossible with SHANNA ? Now, if Frank Cho would say : " Hey, I´m okay with this because that is how I planned it from the start. " then I would have bought it long ago. But everyone who has read an issue of LBERTY MEADOWS knows how he hates censorship and how he hates to redraw panels for newspaper publication. He even takes special care to include the uncensored versions of his strips in the issues. And now I´m supposed to be okay with this thing that I know Frank Cho will not like ? That´s just wrong. You don´t get somebody like Frank Cho and then tell him to censor himself and redraw panels. I mean what did Marvel expect ? They hired him for the boobies. You don´t hire a heavyweight champion and tell him to pull his punches. Unless you want him to cheat. And that is for me what Marvel did in this case. They took the quick money and ran.

    And that´s the reason why this issues have been lying in my bag so long. Because I don´t like to be played. But now the patience of my comic dealer has run out and I have to start taking the issues home. So not only do I have to waste my money on a series I have already not very much money to spend I also have strained my relationship with my comic dealer and he´s now less likely to give me some leeway when I REALLY need it. So thank you Marvel, I will remember that and it will go on the list along with cancelling SPIDER - GIRL and the THING. It may take some time but I will get even. So start watching your back.

    But enough of my little rant ( that topic always gets me worked up ) let´s forget about lies, treachery and all the hate. Relax. Exhale, inhale, exhale, inhale. Deep breaths. Just like Mr. Myagi taught you : search focus.

    Okay, I´´m all cool now. I´m chilling. I´m groovy, brother. Now let´s come to the comics I have read and not gotten around to write about :

    STRANGERS IN PARADISE 82 - Not much to say that I haven´t already said. It´s hard to see this series end but it is still one of the best reads. I just know Terry Moore is going out in style.

    Black Panther 16 - No, no, wait. I really liked the issue. I know I have been bitching about the previous pre - wedding issues and that I still understand why suddenly Marvel feels the need to retcon Storm´s and Black Panther´s history and introduce a new backstory for them. What´s wrong with the 30 years of history and romance and flirtation they already have ? Anyway, finally some things happened and it seems like the wedding has the possibility to be the biggest superhero disaster ever. And the art by Scott Eaton is solid as always.

    Batman 653 - Interesting read but mediocre art. It is interesting to see what happened in the missing year and it is surprising that Harvey took Batman´s job while he was away. But is it not just a question of time till Two - Face takes control again ?

    American Way 4 - Now that everybody knows that the new member is black the shit starts flying. Note to self : Don´t try to fix a mess by starting a bigger mess. As soon as I read in the solicitations that they would release the biggest psychotic killer in history to turn this around I knew this was a bad, bad idea. And it is. It just turns out worse than expected. The art on this one is good but just too clean and sugar coated for my taste. But maybe that´s just me. Still...the story is top notch. How will it end ?

  • issue 4

    Majestic 17 - This comic is incredible. But not in a good sense. This comic manages to combine two of the things I hate most in comics. 1. the old " it´s all just a dream " and 2. the old " whe are now back to where we started in issue 1 " shtick. Combined with the horrific artwork this is one series I´m glad I´m not spending any money on it.

    Sensational Spider - Man 26 - I don´t like the art in this issue. I just don´t like this overrendered, painted art that loses all kind of livelyness and movement. The story progressed from last issue but the art just threw me off. Another case of writing for the trade but not drawing for the trade.

  • Issue 26

  • New Avengers 18 + 19 - Now, that I got issue 18 in Erlangen I could read it and it was absolutely brilliant. Big blockbuster action and the way Spider - Man was used just shows the new S.H.I.E.L.D.´s attitude towards superheroes. They are just things to be used and thrown away. This will play out in upcoming issues of CIVIL WAR and the question remains if there will be a superhero community...or a S.H.I.E.L.D. after all is over. At the moment it seems that the two cannot exist at the same time.

    Amazing Spider - Man 532 - This is the issue for all people like me who read CIVIL WAR 1 and were just baffled by Iron Man´s 180 degree turn. Here is the reason why he is now a flip flopper and why Spider - Man is still on the side he is on. A great read with good characterisation. And it explains all the holes in CIVIL WAR 1.

    JLA Classified 16 - 21 - At first I didn´t want to buy the issues because I´m not particulary fond of Klaus Janson´s inks on Jose Luis Garcia Lopez´artwork. For me he needs an inker like Joe Rubinstein or Brett Breeding. But while I was in Erlange I found all the issues of this story and decided to get them anyway. And let me tell you : compared to the inks by Sean Phillips Klaus Janson is an inking GOD ! It seems that Mr. Phillips is not content with ruining comics with his artwork, now he has to start with ruining other artists work with his inks. Aside from that I really liked the story. The JLA thought that with taking this particular dictators power away he would be defeated. But he was just getting started and he turns out more dangerous than any supervillain. It seems there is a contest going on between the writers of DC who can defeat or maim the JLa in the most horrific and gruesome way. And as an old horror comic reader I say : more power to them. A good story that involves the problems of superheroes dealing with everyday politics on a global scale. This is a recommended read for all guys ( and gals ) out there who think superhero comics are too simple and only are about punching bad guys and escapism.

    Thunderbolts 100 - 103 which I will not writing about now because with all the previews that have been piling up while my comic shop was canceling this series they deserve a post all of their own.

    Sgt Rock The Prophecy 5 - One more issue to go by one of the great masters. Good art and an interesting story.

  • Issue 5

    Blood of the Demon 15 - One of the best ONE YEAR LATER stories. This series always surprises the reader and throws him a curve ball when he least expects it. Sadly there are only three issues left till the end of the series. I wonder how the new ATOM series by John Byrne will be. Well, only time will tell.

    Warlord 4 - Not much to add since last issue. The art still freaks me out and the story is kind of complicated. Not intriguing complicated just confusing complicated. Just makes me more sad that I couldn´t find any cheap issues of the Mike Grell series in Erlangen. Why doesn´r DC release trades ( or even SHOWCASE ) from good series like this ? In my opinion they should start with their best stuuf from the 70s and include a special Jim Aparo line. I mean this is one of the few artists who literally BUILD DC, who defined the look of DC for decades, who drew the most prolific and greates stories ever and they didn´t even release some special comics. That´s not right DC.

  • Issue 4

  • Ultimate Spider - Man 95 - A good read like always altough the ultimate versions of Blade and Morbius look like the normal ones to me.

    So, I just found out that most of the previews I put up from BUZZSCOPE are now nonexistend. So I have to substitute them with previews from MILE HIGH COMICS or delete the ones I have no substitute for. So from now on I will have to post the pages instead of the link. So this blog will be less spoiler free from now on. Great, as if I have too much readers as it is.

    But before ending the post on this negative note I wanted to write about some of the old comics I have been reading since Erlangen. Since I haven´t had that much time on the computer to write my blog I have started to make note whenever something comes to mind like the diary I kept in Erlnagen ( to which we will come in my next post....hopefully ). First of it are TEEN TITANS issues 16 to 19 which are simply superhero gold. This, my dear comic reading fans, is the gold standard. When Marv Wolfman and George Perez were on the title it was THE best selling book of DC and to find out why you just have to read one issue. There are topics popping up in this pages other series didn´t dar to touch. Especially issue 18 that brings the topic of politics into play especially Kid Flash who is totally anti - communistic and tells the others to lay off him for being so redneck since he doesn´t give them any shit for being so damn liberal and free - thinking all the time. Wow, there really was a time you could bring something like this in a comic. Now, the heroes are all on the same level and understanding and political correct. All " Peace out. " and " We understand your pain. " that´s just too much wishy washy for me.

    Another great issue is issue 19 which stars Dr. Light in his pre - Identity Crisis version where he is just a loser. It was really funny to read and what I liked especially about the issue was that the whole thing started with Dr. Light being pissed because the Riddler stumped the BATMAN. So he escapes from prison to show everybody up. At the end he naturally is in prison again all grumpoy and pissed off but when he hears that the Riddler is doing time in Gotham again he can´t help but smiling and saying : " Maybe this wasn´t such a bad day after all. " There´s nothing better than a little Schadenfreude to brighten your day. One of the first things that I noticed was that in the german translation Changelings dialogue was changed. In the german version he tells Cyborg how he was hitting on a mousy biblarian chick when she let her hair down and took off her glasses she had beautiful eyes. In the original she was still mousy so he went out with her sister. But apparently that was just too much for german readers. Obviously the german publishers were afraid to turn the young impressionable and innocent readers into morally questionable players and playboys who just use women.

    One other funny thing about this issue is when Dr. Light decides to lead the monsters to the Titans so either the heroes kill the monsters or the monsters kill the heroes - which both works for him. And then he thinks : " If they kill the Titans maybe I can lead them to the JLA so they kill them too. " and I just can´t help picturing in my mind how Dr. Light leads the monsters in one big blazing trail of destruction through the DC universe and obliterating all heroes. But the best dialogue in the issue is between Kid Flash and Dr. Light.

    Kid Flash : " You´d sell out your own mother for a nickel. "

    Dr. Light : " No, I wouldn´t. " - " Not for a nickel. "

    That´s like right out of an episode of Beavis and Butt - Head. Nice to know that even lowlifes like Dr. Light have SOME standards and won´t sell their mothers. For cheap. This series is one of the best in history and you just need to get all the trades or issues you can get your hands on. You won´t regret it.

    The next issues I read are issues 16 to 19 of MOSAIC which is THE best Green Lantern series of all time. You can´t call yourself a Green Lantern fan if you haven´t read this sries. It´s a requirement. No, really. Can you call yourself a Batman fan if you haven´t read Frank miller´s RETURN OF THE DARK KNIGHT ? Can you call yourself an X - Men fan if you have not read THE DARK PHOENIX SAGA ? You see the point I´m trying to make.

    GREEN LANTERN : MOSAIC was a different superhero book. The series was about John Stewart the broken Green Lantern, the one with so much tragedy with his wife Katma Tui being killed off by Star Sapphire and the death of a whole planet on his conscience. It was just a question of time till he cracked so noone is really surprised whenever he gets possesed or brainwashed or mindcontroled. The othe focus of the series were the little stories involving the everyday people ( and the strangest aliens ever to appear in the pages of a comic book ) and their lives. Really personal and down to earth stories. All very surrealistic with strange dreams and a main character who was a borderline psychotic - at best. At that time there was Green Lantern Classic ( Hal Jordan ), ther was Ultimate Green Lantern ( Guy Gardner ) and than there was Green Lantern on crack - which was MOSAIC. The series was started by Cully Hamner but in the last issues somebody else took over so I stopped reading it not knowing it would end in only three issues. The miniseries spun out of the five part storyx MOSAIC where a crazy guardian of the universe made up his own pet planet from parts of different other planets. But after he was defeated the other guardians decided to keep the planet intact as a big experiment to see if different species could coexist in so confined quarters. And they left John Stewart in charge to make it all work somehow.

    The character the last issues focus on is Rose, who appeared in various previous adventures of Green Lantern, and her live. She has a different view of superheroes namely that they are not human but a different species. Which is true. Superheroes are not normal humans anymore, they have special powers and are not like they were before - some even returning from death.

    Our daddies broke rock. We break ground.

    This words are repeated throughout the story of Rose growing up the daugther of a coal miner on a farm. And through the course of the story the words take on all kind sof double meaning. Which was one of the characteristics if the series, working with double meanings and analyzing what things really mean. In the series all the meanings, metaphor or aspects of the terms " green " and " red " are explored. And there are a lot of references to architecture and music, especially jazz music. Like in one of the last issues the words " I´ll build a concert to paradies with a new tune every day. " is clearly a quote form Cole Porter´s AN AMERICAN IN PARIS song lyrics " I´ll build a stairway to paradies with a new step every day. "

    Another thing that stood out to me is that in the last issue the small window of Power Girl´s dress has transformed to some serious cleavage almost down to her belly buttton. We need more artists like this. Yes ! But honestly, MOSAIC is one of Gerard Jones best series and you definitely need to check it out. Ther is no chance in hell this comic will ever be published in Germany ( since they didn´t even publish STARMAN here ) or to be collected in a trade so try to find some issues in the dollar bins of your local comic shop. Since there is no big buzz about the series ( which will change directly after this post goes online ) at the moment you should be able to find the issues pretty easy. They are worth it.

    I hope I gave you some tips you can use and next time we will get back to my adventures in Erlangen.

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    Wednesday, June 21, 2006

    My Erlangen Diary part 2

    As I wrote yesterday the next station for me was the Zwerchfell booth. The latest issue of DIE KLEINEN MUTTERFICKER had just beeen released. For those of you in Germany that don´t know the comic ( yes, I mean you two ) it´s a comic about three twelve year old hardcore hip hoppers trying to keep it real - in Heslach ! The comic is just hilarious, especially if you know someobody who is exactly like that ( Shout out to my peep Thorsten keeping it real in Eglosheim, beyotch ! ) but is totally oblivious to it. The best part was the translation of original gangster slang to german. Of course the comic was produced by the Dinter Bros, who draw half the comics released by Zwerchfell. They are a comic instituion and have gone from being simple authors and artists to talent scouts, motivation coaches and all around contact person of Zwerchfell. Not to mention that they are acclaimed movie writers for such movies as THE NIGHT OF THE LIVING LOSERS.

    The new issue 5 seems to almost have sold out which is not surprising for me. Additionally to the brilliant comic there was also a CD included with the special edition for the comic salon with music from the german band ISCHEN IMPOSSIBLE ( Ischen is german slang for girls ). All I can say that on the first day there were enough copies available. But I didn´t pass the booth so often because you had to take the stairs to reach the second floor where many of the independent publishers were. Which probably prevented a lot of comic fans to get there.

    My third station was of course the table of SCHWARZER TURM ( BLACK TOWER ) where Robi already invited me to a seat. Now Robi is one of the best german comic authors and I think we met for the first time when they had no table in Erlangen. Just a suitcase full of comics between booths. At that time I was already a big Robi fan, not only because he wrote most of the stories for MENSCHENBLUT ( the best comic anthology for adults at that time ) but because he had been HORST BRACK a.k.a. DER BESTRAFER ( which in german means THE PUNISHER ) one of the hosts of CATCH UP one of the best wrestling shows in german television ever. Any wrestling fan who was watching at that time still gets misty eyed when it´s mentioned. So when I met Robi for the first time it was like meeting your favorite comic book writer and wrestling celebrity at the same time.

    Now since that time me and my brother had a long relationship with Robi and the guys of SCHWARZER TURM talking comics, thinking about various projects together and such stuff. They even convinced us to get to the comic action last time we were there and I also translated two spanish comics to german for them. Which haven´t come out just yet because of reasons I won´t get into now. But it´s always nice to talk with Robi because he just knows his stuff and you can learn more by listening to him tell about writing comics than by reading several books about the subject. The only thing that bugs me is that he somehow always manages to outdo me with t - shirts. No matter what cool and rare t - shirt I sport.....his is always better.

    So I sat down and had a little chat and got the first issue of LUNA the new hit series by Robi and Toni Greis. For all male readers I don´t have to explain much more since everybody knows them from their previous series ALRAUNE. It was even released in the states so don´t pretend you never heard of them. I´m onto you, fella. Now unlike ALRAUNE this new series is not straight porn but of course it has lots of beautiful naked women which is Toni Greis´trademark. And the story by Robi of course sucks you right in. I only was thumbing through the issue when I was at the hotel later and before I knew it I had begun to read half the issue. The stroy ( as far as I could ascertain from the parst I read ) is a science fiction story that takes place on a planet where women are cultivating food and all contact to males is strictly forbidden. Of course a romance develops between one of the females and a member of the male tech staff who supervise the technical equipment. Which naturally leads to all sorts of trouble that leads to a dangerous decision at the end of the first issue. I have no doubt that this series will be another top seller for SCHWARZER TURM.

    Now I had finally bought my first comics and was ready to delve into the comic book buying massacre. One comic dealer that always was at the Stuttgart comic fair ( and who got me free tickets the last time I was at the Comic Action ) had a complete run of Green Arrow by Mike Grell, but with a price of 2,50 to 3 EUROs per issue this was just way above my spending limit. Luckily I later found a dealer who had some issues for 1 EURO each so I could get 45 issues, although with some huge gaps. I also could close some gaps in my collection all for 1 EURO or less. I got the GREEN LANTERN MOSAIC issues I was missing, some Teen Titans issues by George Perez, the complete miniseries of TWILIGHT by Jose Luis Garcia Lopez, the complete ADAM STRANGE series by Adam Kubert, the trades of LONGSHOT ( because of the Modern Masters book about him - I wanted to make a special post about him after reading it but I never got around to it ) and KRAVEN´S LAST HUNT ( one of THE best Spider - Man stories written. EVER. ) for half price and some ASPEN and SOULFIRE comics from Michael Turner. When he started the new series it was just typical that somehow I managed to subscribe to the one series he was NOT drawing. All in all when the first day of the convention had ended I was pretty exhausted and just wanted to get back to the hotel.

    But of course my brother had other plans than to relax at the hotel pool. He wanted to catch a movie but since the eight o clock showing of X - MEN 3 THE LAST STAND ( yes, I still hadn´t seen it - so sue me ) had already started we decided to get something to eat. We had to walk a while ( which you should be prepared for whenever you leave the house or go somewher with my brother ) but we finally arrived at the HÜHNERTOD ( chicken death ) where my brother had no problem ordering but somehow everything I wanted to eat was already sold out. So it was more like : " No, no calamares, no hamburgers, no cheesburgers, no chicken burgers, no burgers at all. Also no chicken mixed plate and no chicken wings. And no chicken at all. Except for the chicken nuggets. " So I just asked what was left and ordered some salad and chicken nuggets. My brother gave me some of his calamares which were really good but ( of course unbeknownst to me at that time ) not the best I should eat in Erlangen. Naturally Sanchez overindulged himself with the beer which is one of the reasons I don´t like to go with him anywhere because he just knows I don´t like to drink. Which for him is normally the signal to get plastered because he counts on me picking him up at the end and playing the part of designated driver. I really don´t like driving that much and because of his refusal to eat at Mc Donalds or Burger King ( which doesn´t extend to eating all food he can get his hands on whenever me or my brother bring some of the stuff home ) we always have to go to new restaurants. Because otherwise we would know what to expect and how the food is. And that would be too easy.

    After we had finished our meal we went to see X - MEN 3 which I really liked. I mean I´m happy as long as Gambit does not appear in a X - Men movie but it was really action packed and very daring. I didn´t miss Nightcrawler since the movie versions of Beast and Angel were all very good. I wonder who the protagonists of the next movie will be since they have now assembled the founding members Cyclops, Beast, Marvel Girl, Iceman and Beast. Naturally my brother was still worked up after the movie so we went to the SCHWARZER RITTER ( BLACK KNIGHT...I think it was named in honor of the famous member of the AVENGERS ) where he had to get an alcohol free beer. Now for me alcohol free beer makes as much sense as going to the movies and closing your eyes. Beer doesn´t taste that great and I only drink it with the right meal. There´s nothing better than drinking an ice cold beer with your schnitzel on a hot summer day - but alcohol free beer ? You can´t even get a decent buzz which for me is already half the fun. If you can´t afford to get drunk - drink coke !

    Now the SCHWARZER RITTER is the most infamous bar in Erlangen with a large history with the comic salon of Erlangen. Whenever something wild, crazy and illegal happened it happened here. So it was no surprise that Wittek from the comic label Alligator Farm signed Sanchez right arm with a marker in bold black letters proclaiming " cojonsel " in retaliation for his alcohol abuse. We went back to the hotel afterwards ( which we found a little easier this time ) and that was the end of our first day in Erlangen.

    Tomorrow I will write about our second day and whom we met on our second visit to the SCHWARZER RITTER.

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    Tuesday, June 20, 2006

    TWO years later

    Today it finally rained ! I can´t believe that I´m really happy that it rains in Germany. That´s kind of like being happy it´s cold at the north pole. But the last four days it has been unbearably hot. Two years have gone by since the last time I was in Erlangen. And as always it has been both...too long and too short at the same time. On one side I´m glad that it is over because it can really tax the limits of your physical endurance. On the other side you want to spend more time with all the friends you only get to see every two years. This time the weather was really hot and there was no rain during the entire convention. I was sweating like a pig and I spent too much money on comics. But let´s start at the beginning before I forget everything that happened.It is just incredible how quick the mind forgets.


    I awoke at six o clock in the morning and went straight to the shower. Of course we had no shower gel so I washed myself with hair shampoo and almost forgot my bermuda shorts for the hotel pool. I kept walking and circles and was really tempted to take the JSA / JLA hardcover by Carlos Pacheco with me. But I resisted since there are enough comics in Erlangen.

    I had already packed all my stuff the day before and was ready to go at seven o clock but of course my brother had not packed his clothes and had to carry all the stuff for the camera. He has this crazy idea that he´s the next Stephen Spielberg and wants to shoot some reports from the convention. At least I could convince him to call one of the organisators so he could get a press card. I called the hotel to ask from which time on it is possible to check in and remembered that we had had to book single rooms instead of a double room.

    So while I had planned to leave at eight o clock ( at the latest ) my brother was still busy printing out a manual for the camera. I was listening to the traffic news on the radio because there had beeen an accident on our route but so far no mention of it. Normally I don´t eat breakfast but since I had no idea when we would have time for the next meal I eat some sandwiches with jamon. One of the things I learned at the military is to get your meals when you can. Which was a good thing since I didn´t have a chance to eat till the end of the first convention day.

    At five minutes past eight I began to take my luggage to the car while my brother ( who for a short moment had the frightening idea to take his whole computer with him ) still hadn´t gotten one piece of camera equipment or his luggage packed. When we finally started it was already half past nine and we had to fill up the tank, check the oil and the tire pressure. Which means I had to do it while my brother limited himself to arguing about the tire pressure. I assured him that on a hot day like today 2.0 bar was really enough but he insisted on putting 2.2 bar into the tires. Luckily none of the tires exploded during our drive to the convention.

    At the gas station I bought some ice cream but because of all the hassle with the tires and trying to find the right way on the map I forgot all about it. When I took it out at the end of the ride in Erlangen it had melted. We arrived at one o clock in the afternoon in Erlangen and although my brother was heavily protesting we drove to the hotel before we did anything else. I don´t know what his reasoning was for doing something else before but when you arrive at your appointed location tha first thing you do is check out your hotel. You have to know where your home base is and where your exit lies.

    At the hotel we had a pleasant surprise because a guest had arrived without his travelling companion and wanted to trade his double room for a single room so that we got our double room in the end ( which is not as expensive as two single rooms ). Then we had to take the entire camera equipment to the convention. Somehow my brother had the idea that it would start at two o clock in the faternoon instead of twelve and although I was not the one who had wasted two hours because I didn´t pack the day before I was the one to blame. In hindsight it was a blessing that we arrived later since I have heard from other visitors that they had to wait a long time to get in. But as soon as we had entered the convention my brother pulled a Kaiser Sosei on me and I didn´t see him till many hours later when he was inteviewing the Zwerchfell crew.

    Now I know you might say that you don´t know what I´m complaining about since I had feared to have to follow him with a microphone the whole time. It´s not that I have to have him always around me or that I don´t cherish every second I have for myself. But with my brother it is a bit like with Booster Gold : you don´t want to be near him all the time because of the catastrophes he keeps unleashing. But on the other hand you can´t leave him to his own devices for too long. So I spend a lot of time looking for him but we only met after the convention had closed it´s doors.

    I know I wanted to keep a detailed diary of my whole time in Erlangen but i only got to make some quick notes when I was sitting on the stairs somewhere at the brink of exhaustion or standing in line to get a sketch. On the first two days I managed to write something down but by the third day I had thrown all my resolve out the window.

    Now the first thing I did ( after walking around for half an hour just trying to get my bearings and totally under shock ) was to visit the booth of WEISSBLECH COMICS and buy HORRORSCHOCKER 10 and the HORRORSCHOCKER EXTRA-ALBUM. HORRORSCHOCKER is at the moment the best german horror anthology comic published in Germany. Like the famous EC comics HAUNT OF FEAR, VAULT OF HORROR and TALES FROM THE CRYPT ( the mag that is partially responsible for the title of this blog ) it has short stories with changing artists. The series has a strong trash factor....meaning it sets good stories and entertaining the reader at it´s highest priority. The art has clear influences from Jack Kirby but without copying. The very first issue was published two years ago also at the comic convention in Erlangen.

    Normally I´m a bit cautious with german comic book series but the publisher of HORRORSCHOCKER ( and the mastermind behind all comics from Weissblech ) Levin Kurio had released an ashcan edition of the number one that included the best preview I had ever read in my whole live. It was not colored like the actual issue but it had a part of the first story and it ended just when things were really heating up in the story. So I had to know how the story ended. I bought the first issue and I have been buying it since. Every issue is better than the one before, the list of guest artist reads like a who´s who of german indie comic stars, and one of my favorite characters is the host CHARON ( the ferryman from greek mythology who carries the dead over the river styx into the land of the dead ) and his TALES FROM THE DARK RIVER. So I went right to their booth to get the newset issues and even got a Charon sketch by Levin Kurio himself. If you have never heard of HORRORSCHOCKER you should definitely check it out. Here are some preview pages :

    Nur ein Obulus / El Dorado / Im Tal des Drachen / Niniwes Fluch

    See, I told you I would have more to say about german comics at Erlangen. Sadly, that´s all I have time for today so the second booth I visited ( which was Zwerchfell ) has to wait till tomorrow. We will then continue with the newset adventures of DIE KLEINEN MUTTERFICKER ( the little motherfuckers ) and everything else that happened.

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    Wednesday, June 14, 2006

    Erlangen - here we come

    Today is the last day before Erlangen. Finally ! I have prepared all the important things like money, comics to sign, my little book for the sketches, a book to make some drawings if it pickels my fancy and I even got a new CD - / mp3 - player to listen to my new jazztracks. I seem to somehow have lost the two CDs with all the shows of RedJazzRadio but luckily I made a new CD last week with the 100 best free downloads from the site ( if you are interested the link is right on this page ). Not so many radioshows on this one but I think with the 102 tracks on the disc I will have enough for the four days ahead of me. So this time I won´t have to think about which music to take and I will be taking only one CD. I have programmed the VCR to tape the second episode of the mirror universe saga of Enterprise with the catfight between T Pol and Hoshi ( see last post ). My younger brother should be taping it on Sunday but he always has a tendency to only screw up the really important things so I´m also taping it with my own VCR as a failsafe.

    I was at the newsstand today but as always the special issue of the COMIXENE about the comic convention in Erlangen has not come out yet. Without a doubt it will be available on Friday or Saturday when it´s all under way. Now what was I expecting ? I mean who could have known that the same thing that happened last time would be happening this time ? What´s this strange thing you called " pattern " ? Never heard of it. So I guess we will see it during the convention for the first time.

    I have checked out the brushes and pencils I will be taking and I have packed the special laserlight and the notebook for the convention diary. Sadly there will be no new posts for the rest of the week. Since I won´t have computer access the blog will be on hiatus till next week. But I´m taking the notebook and I will hopefully have some time to make notes about all the happenings in Erlangen. I have already posted announcements of the hiatus on the corresponding websites like Comicforum, Paniniforum and on digital webbing so anybody will be forewarned. I know it´s hard to be depraved of Germany´s best comicblog but it will return soon. So bear with me.

    Now about the preparations so far : I have had some mild success trying to convince my brother to let go of his newest hare brained scheme to get us both banned from Erlangen forever. He took my advice to inform the proper authorities and get some permission so we won´t get shot at or arrested.

    Just a quick cavity search and a half hour beating. Yup, that´s about it in the worst case scenario. I just don´t understand what´s up with my brother. Every time Erlangen comes around and we say : this time we will NOT be selling our own comic, we will NOT have to pay for a table and spend most of our time pimping our, this time we come as fans. Not as professionals but as fans. We are just going to have fun and buy comics, stand in line to get sketches, go to the podium discussions, visit one exposition or two, see the newest comic movies, talk with other fans why Gambit is the stupidest X - Man ever, go to the meetings and stuff. Maybe we will even get to sleep a little. But no, that´s not enough. He always has to conjure one last minute plot for world domination which usually ends in a train wreck or worse like the last time when he managed to ruin all chances for us to EVER work with Brian Pullido ( which I won´t get into now, but believe me this story is not for the faint of heart ). More and more I´m getting the feeling to be in an episode of " Pinky and the Brain " only in this case my brother is making the plans for total world domination. Oh, and in this version Pinky is the one with the brain.

    So, what am I looking forward this time apart from the cavity search by Erlangen´s finest ? Of course one big event is the fact that Humberto Ramos will be there not only at one booth but at two. He´s promoting his german release of Revelations for CARLSEN COMICS and also his series OUT THERE being published by PANINI COMICS. Which means I should have a good chance to get an original sketch from him or even some comics signed. To get them signed I´m taking IMPULSE 4 because that was the first comic by Humberto Ramos I ever got. And I didn´t even buy it myself, my brother ( my older one ) brought it for me from one of his visits to the comic store. In fact he had been arguing about it with my younger brother who had accompanied him on this special trip who thought it a bad idea to bring me this comic. Well, I liked it so much that I got all the back issues ( like I had to know what was up with Bart having fought the entire school the previous issue - that´s how you use captions, man ) and it ended on my pull list. I also am taking IMPULSE 9 and 12 which have the best appearance by XS a.k.a. Jenny Ognats, Bart´s cousin and member of the Legion of Super Heroes who is one of my favorite characters. The other comics to sign are the two part JLA : WORLD WITHOUT GROWN UPS comic which is one of my favorite works of him, OUT THERE 1 if he is only allowed to sign issues of this series and last but not least Wolverine 42. To show that fans still appreciate his current work and not only the old stuff he did. I would have liked to bring some CRIMSON comics to sign but at the moment I can´t find the american issues I have and the german trade I bought a while ago was glued so awful that it has already transformed into a random assembly of pages.

    Now on the other side I was looking forward to get some sketch from Gosho Ayoma, creator of CASE CLOSED, maybe a drawing of Shinishi together with Yaiba. But it has been announced that he won´t make any sketches, he won´t sign any comics and he will be only be giving autographs on special print cards. Oh yes, I forgot to mention that if you want to get one of those you have to take part in a lottery ( or was it you have to roll the dice ? ) and win. Am I the only one who is hearing the theme from Mission Imossible in my head now ( Dan - da - dan - da - dan - da ) ? I will show up to find out what the real deal is going to be but it´s not so attractive anymore. As for getting sketches from anybody else that will depend on who will be signing and at which time it will be.

    Of course there will be a lot of movies shown in the theaters during the convention so I hope to see the ones I haven´t gotten to see like V for Vendette, X - Men the last stand or Aeon Flux. I hope there will be no surprises like when we watched AKIRA and had to learn why it is a bad idea to have a cinema and a bar in the same buildng. Maybe we can even get to see some of the Animes shown. But I´m not sure. I ´m already getting the impression that my brother has other time consuming plans that have nothing to do with comics or movies.

    The biggest unknown factor this time will be the hotel we´re staying at because we decided very late to go to the convention and we had to get rooms a little outside of the convention area. We´re staying at the Hotel Garni but it´s supposed to have a good connection to the local busses and it has a pool. Additionally there will be a lot of people from the Paniniforum staying there so maybe we can go to the convention together. But I mean, how bad can it be since last time we were lodging in the Twilight Zone hotel ?

    There are still so many things to say but I have to wrap up this post if I ever want to put it on my blog and there are still some things I have to do for the trip. I hope you all have a great longer weekend and I will be back with many exciting stories to tell.

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  • Sunday, June 11, 2006

    vulcan booty and comic goodies

    Before I start with my post for today I wanted to mention that the comics I ordered have finally arrived on Saturday.

    I ordered them from a new online dealer, namely Andi´s Comicexpress and you can take the word express literally. Not only did all the comics I had ordered arrive in pristine condition and in nice comic bags but they arrived really fast. When I´m ordering comics online I already expect to have to wait two weeks if there are any trades in the order. But not this time. Wow. My Thunderbolts collection is complete again. And I got a nice CIVIL WAR postcard and a info booklet for Erlangen. I just love it when you order comics and you get some goodies. Here is the link if you want to check them out, they have american comics and german comics :

  • Andi´s Comicexpress

  • It´s Sunday afternoon and I finally have some time to write. After watching the episode of Enterprise ( the first with the mirror universe crew. Wow, does T Pol look hot or does she look hot ? ) and some ice cream I´m " chilling ", listening to the new jazztracks I downloaded ( just go to the RedJazzRadio link on this blog ) because there has been no new show and thinking about the last comics I read.

    But then I made the mistake to google for some pictures of T Pol for my blog...thank god I didn´t google Jolene that would have taken forever. Now at least I have some decent pics to post. I even found some animated avatars from the next episode which apparently will have a fight between mirror T Pol and mirror Hoshi ( which is german slang for guy ). Catfight ! ROWWR ! I think there is a rule that women in the mirror universe have to be ten times sexier than their normal counterparts. Which i thought was impossible in t Pol´s case but a low cut uniform that accentuates her ripped midsection goes a long way. So who´s complaining ? I really like the new uniforms.

    Anyway, back to the important stuff. It´s been now two months since I started this little blog and so far I have 30 posts, two readers, one link on another site to my blog and zero comments. So my mission in Erlangen ( apart from getting tons of sketches and drawings from artists like Humberto Ramos ) has to be to pimp my blog like there is no tomorrow. Maybe that will get more traffic on my blog. And if everything else fails I have to devote one post to Power Girl.

    Now what comics did I read ? The first was Moon Knight 2 which was really excellent but a little graphic. I was quite surprised to find such heavy imagery in the comic. On on hand I thought : Yes, that´s how comics have to be done. On the other hand I thought : Now, this is nothing I would give my kids to read. I mean, having read comics in Spain and Germany I am used to pretty heavy stuff ( on the spanish end ) but also to some heavy censoring ( on the german end ). So while I applaud it I´m also wondering how much will survive if there is ever a german version.

    But let´s talk a little about the original issue. In issue 2 we learn a little more about how Marc Spector came to the low point we found him im at the end of last issue. Like I said pretty gruesome and gory stuff but it perfectly shows the ugly side of the superhero business. It´s not all about saving cats from trees and almost naked hot chicks from drowning. Some times it´s deadly, crazy arch enemies and bloodied body parts and mutilated girlfriends stuffed into refrigerators. Great storytelling and great art. This one has it all. If you have not picked it up already you should definitely check it out.

    Here are preview pages from issue 2

    Now the new Blue Beetle series gets more frustrating for me the longer I read it. Now maybe it´s just me but in Blue Beetle 3 I realized for the first time that the story is told in two different time zones. The first is before the events of One Year Later and the other...well, after. I don´t know if that is due to bad memory on my part or if it´s because of bad storytelling. But it was a really confusing read. There was a guest artist in this issue but he was not that different from Cully Hamner, the series regular artist, to distract too much from reading.

    Action Comics 838 - I almost had finished to read the issue when I realized why Superman was not using his superpowers : he didn´t have them yet. This issue takes place before the one I read last week. Okay, now it all makes sense. The art was also not that exciting so I guess I won´t be putting any Superman comics on my pull list before Carlos Pacheco starts his run.

    Fantastic Four - A death in the family was a good read with solid art by Lee Weeks who really should be doing more comics. His fill in issues of the Hulk on the Bruce Jones run were really tight and he finally deserves some regular gig. The story was not the big earth shattering epic but a nice character study about what makes Marvel´s first family so special putting the spotlight on Johnny Storm. He´s always playing the part of hot headed team member and all around goofball that people forget how intense he can be. The one thing that always has priority is the family. Just ask Don Corleone. I also liked the John Byrne Fantastic Four story that was included.

    Some preview pages

    100 Bullets 72 Is there really somebody out there who is not reading 100 Bullets ? Or hasn´t heard about it ? At the moment it is the only Vertigo book on my pull list due to the fact that it not only has great writing by Brian Azzarello but top notch art from Eduardo Risso. Now the stories are sometimes confusing for me because there is so much going on on so many fronts. But after a few issues it all falls into place and makes sense. So although I don´t know what the two brothers have to do with the big picture I´m sure it is something important.

    100 Bullets 72

    That´s all for today and I hope to get one more post done before the start of Erlangen. Because the only way for me to post some things during the time would be if somebody in Erlangen could let me use his computer. Which I very much doubt. But I will be taking my notebook ( the regular kind not the electronic version ) so that I will be able to give you my impressions and my latest misadventures when I have returned.

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