Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The story thus far - part 2

Since my brother has missed his flight and will thus stay in Spain till Friday I have decided to use the time for another installment of the ever so popular link posts. Even if I have to constantly put the computer on standby. I don´t think I can cover everything in this post but let´s start.


Spider - Girl relocated

I wanted to start with some good news and what could be better than Spider - Girl getting more exposure ? I´m not sure if it is because of the demands of fans or if Marvel wants to give Mayday Parker one more chance but the new adventures of everyone´s favorite wallcrawler Spider - Girl are now to be found in the pages of the newly launched WEB OF SPIDER - MAN comic. I know the title is nothing new ( as older Spidey fans might know ) but you have to say that Marvel sticked to their " no new Spidey titles after BRAND NEW DAY policy " for two years. We will have to wait and see how this all works out but it could be the beginning of Spider - Girl´s return to a solo title. I know how this sounds but Legion of Superheroes also started in Superboy comics ( twice ) and took over the main feature and later replaced Superboy altogether ( twice ). And I think Mayday has at least that much star quality.

  • spider - girl moves to web of spider - man


  • Madman Atomic Comics ends


    After the good news we come to a bit of bad news. I´m saying a bit because although Mike Allred is ending the Madman Atomic comics series with issue 17 this is not the end of Madman. It´s not the first series Madman had and it´s not going to be the last even if it is unsure in which capacity the book will continue. Still I´m sad to see this incarnation of the Madman books go since I especially enjoyed the experimental and trippy approach Mike Allred took ( like I wrote in my my big madman atomic comics post ) something that is reflected in the critical acclaim and positive response by fans. There is a special on the way and I have to say I´m excited in which incarnation we will meet Frank next.

  • mike allred ends madman atomic comics


  • Angel meets Fallen Angel ( well, kind of )

    It seems that female characters are all on the move this month this notice tops Spider - Girl who only moves from one comic title to another. Because tv hit series ANGEL´s supporting character Illyria makes the move from tv to comic book. And not to her own series rather she is going to star in a four part storyarc of Peter David´s IDW comic FALLEN ANGEL.

  • Angel´s Ilyria on Peter David´s Fallen Angel



  • Now I don´t know how this came to be as there is no mention of it in the article. I only know that I´m thinking about giving FALLEN ANGEL a new try after it gave comicfans one of the biggest ripp offs in comic history. Back in the day when the series started at DC Peter David hinted that the title character might be his version of Supergirl that just was canceled at the time. Hinted at but never outright confirmed or denied because he got himself caught in a catch 22.

    You see because of legal reasons he couldn´t openly use the name Supergirl or the character he had created for DC. So the minute he openly said it was Supergirl it would have been the end of the book. So he had to create a new character even if he worked in many similar traits to keep the readers thinking it really could be Supergirl. But it never was.

    Now on the other side he couldn´t openly confirm that the main character in FALLEN ANGEL was not and has never been Supergirl because than he would loose all readers who only read the title thinking they were reading the continuing story of Peter David´s Supergirl. Eventually the gig was up when the book went to IDW from DC and Peter David could spill the beans. I still think that it wasn´t a good way to handle the situation and is one of the reasons why I have problems with Peter David. I think the right thing would have been to tell it like it is from the start.


    One of the most important things in the comic industry that can´t be bought with gold but is worth more than anything else is the reader´s trust. It´s why CrossGen went down in the end : because they weren´t honest with their readers and didn´t admit when they had problems. And the way Peter David used the reader´s insecurity to boost sales on FALLEN ANGEL instead of relying on the strength of the book and just telling his readers : " Hey, it´s not Supergirl, it´s not what I could have done with Supergirl but it what I WOULD have done with her and never could. But with this new book I can. So if you liked me on Supergirl you will LOVE me on Fallen Angel. And if you loved me on Supergirl you will now want to have kids with me. "

    Or something along the way. Anyway, to add to that bad aftertaste in my mind the series in itself was not that good to begin with storywise and artwise. It had Sachs & Violence guest starring in the last two issues but apart from that the characters were just to undefined to really strike interest with the readers and it was all just too full of the usual writers clichees. You know what I mean :

    Main character with a mysterious past who is the meanset mother on the block but has his own code of honor underneath. He / she has a heart of gold and must do drugs ( liqor, tobacco, narcotics, heroin ) to be interesting. Because an addiction is not a sign of weakness but of strength. The main character lives in a mysterious town with it´s own unknown history in a bar with other mysterious characters with a dark past.


    Well, sounds familiar ? I guess I can bury my hopes of reading a comic about Heroguy who used to be a baker and who one day started to fight crime because it was the right thing to do. And who has no mysterious past, doesn´t do drugs and lives in a normal town. On the other hand that sounds a lot like my life as a comicbook and who would want to read that ? Anyway, so far FALLEN ANGEL is not on my " to get rid of " pile but mostly because I have the complete run and I want to re - read the series before making a definite decision.

    And while we´re on the subject of Peter David here´s an in depth interview with the man who wrote such crap like YOUNG JUSTICE but also gems like SPIDER - MAN 2099.

  • in - depth peter david interview


  • peter david on x - factor and madrox


  • Marvel´s mistakes - the events

    As it is something I should have posted long ago here is the third and final part of Matt Ampersand´s thoughtful and insightful look at what Marvel´s doing right and where it´s mistakes are - this time focusing on the events and doing the resume. And I couldn´t have said it better : Marvel should stop on the events before hurting itself. And I mean that in both senses.

  • what marvel is doing wrong final part


  • DC´s mistakes

    And since I don´t want to be onesided here´s Kirk Warren´s look at what DC is doing wrong. Although it doesn´t mention really important stuff like needlessly changing Power Girl´s magic cleavage window from it´s easy to draw oval to a complicated " don´t even know what to call it " new form.


  • what dc is doing wrong


  • While being on the subject what DC is doing wrong one of it´s problems is that their patent company Warner has no idea what their books are all about. Otherwise I can´t explain how they ( or anyone ) could even entertain the idea to call something as timeless and with so much still untapped potential as the Superman franchise " broken goods ". It could be that this is just a cheap ploy in their battles about the rights but it´s not good publicity. The only problem Superman has are lazy writers since almost nobody seems to know how to write Superman something that Graeme McMilan explores in this article.

  • nobody knows how to do superman


  • Now I know what you´re thinking : it´s easy to call somebody else lazy. But in the case of Superman that is true. I mean the first problem is that too many writers just thibk he´s too powerful and get writers block. They think he´s superfast, superstrong, invulnerable ( not really ), has supersenses like superhearing, supervision, superstrength, heatvision etc. Well, thinking that way never really helps. If you start any project constantly thinking what you can´t do you will most assuredly fail.

    So instead you have to focus on what can hurt Superman. Like magic. Do something with magic and he goes down. Okay, that way he usually goes for help but that way you could have Zatanna in the story....rrowwr. Or if you don´t like magic go with science : kryptonite or red sun radiation.


    Okay, kryptonite is the oldest trick in the blook but red sun radiation gives you a lot of options. Or you can have him go up against someone who can neutralize his powers or suck them out of him like the Parasite.

    Okay, you don´t want to go that option of just nullifying his powers because that seems lame. Then you have to go with options where his powers don´t make a difference. One of the things Superman depends on is what he knows. Like his senses. He does have supersenses but what happens if he can trust what he sees or hears or smells ? What if somebody can create illusions or change his memory ?

    If he can´t trust his memory or what he knows to be right and wrong.......if he can´t tell the difference between dreaming and being awake.....if he doesn´t know which way is up or down.....how can he act ? You see where I´m getting at. Another option would be to emphasize where his limits lie. Lex Luthor has had the upper hand for years because Superman was unwilling to take the law into his own hands.

    Or the last option is to do what Grant Morrison did : remembering what the character is all about. How he´s a cypher for striving for the best in humanity and then try to spin that into a story using the rich well of incredible ideas the lore of Superman has to offer. I don´t think it´s that difficult to write a good story if you keep that in mind.

    Comic book writing 101

    Speaking about comic writing ( said the master of the segueway ) here are some articles on the subject. The first one is by Dave Gibbons and it also has some tips on which tv shows to watch.

  • dave gibbons on how to write comics



  • The second one by Shannon Cronin tells you all about how to become a successful comic writer in 5 steps. Some of the comments show that most readers see the piece as satire but I have to tell you it is the dark reality my brother.

  • 5 steps to become a successful comic writer


  • And just so you know what all this talk about Tyrese Gibson and Mayhem is about here´s the link where you can get further information on the newest comic book bestseller. Now dare to tell Shannon Cronin she´s wrong.

  • tyrese gibson on mayhem


  • Movie mistakes

    I don´t know but the longer I am writing this post the more I get the impression to write the latest chapter of the big book of wrong. First what Peter David did wrong on FALLEN ANGEL, then what Marvel as a whole did wrong, then what DC as a whole is doing wrong, then what DC is doing wrong with Superman, then what´s wrong with today´s successful comics......I´m just a bundle of negativism today, ain´t I ? So to beat a horse to death here´s a look at the top 5 things comic movie adaptions do wrong ( not that I count showing Eva Mendez´butt - if it was her real butt and not a buttdouble - since any occasion to show a nice butt is much appreciated ).


    Although I have to add that while he´s right on the subjects of cramming too many villains in one movie, needless waste of interesting side characters and needless origin stories that take too much time from the movie ( how much origin story did you ever need for a James Bond movie ? ) I have to say " Veto ! " on the Stan Lee cameos. They are a timeless tradition and you have to give credit where credit is due. It wouldn´t be a real Marvel movie without the cameo. And it´s not like they are long scenes that are essential to the whole movie. In that regard I find the cameos by Quentin Tarantino more annoying. Although he was cool in ALIAS.

  • 5 things comic movies need to stop doing


  • Top lists

    And lastly to end this post on a more positive note here are two of those popular top 10 ( or top 25 ) lists, the first being the 25 coolest villains and the second one the 10 comic characters who deserve a second chance. Although I have to add that in the first case it would be nice if we had a few words of comment why they made the list and what makes them so cool.

  • 25 coolest villains


  • As for the second list : Kamandi, Spider - Girl and X - O manowar are all good examples - especially since Spider - Girl has gotten a new home with WEB OF SPIDER - MAN and Kamandi is now on DC´s brandnew Wednesday Comics but after the death of Mike Wiringo it seems unlikely that TELLOS will be continued since it was partly his loveletter to comics.


    And I would have to include LEAVE IT TO CHANCE another comic milestone that´s also enjoyable for kids.

  • top 10 superheroes who deserve a second chance


  • Anyway, the next part will all be about books anding and changes in the creative team. I will however make an exception in the case of 100 BULLETS as I´m reading the final issues right now. I think the event of such a grand opus ending deserves a post of his own.

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  • Howling Commandos only retire when they´re good and damned ready.

    Thursday, July 09, 2009

    Marvel Knights loose Iron Man wins

    Since I have been re - reading my old comics the last few days I thought it might be interesting to show which comics I have decided to get rid of now that I´m streamlining my comic collection and what the motives behind it are.


    And it´s a nice change from the all link posts I did lately. I mean I only post links that I think are important but I - and I hope my readers - like it more when I can just talk comics. Yes, it´s another journey to the great and not - so - great comics of Yesteryear.....at least the first part of it :

    the ones that are on the chopping block :

    MARVEL KNIGHTS 1 - 3


    Now this series should have been great. It really takes an effort to make a team up between Punisher, Daredevil, Black Widow, Dagger and Shang Chi boring but somehow Marvel succeeded. The art by Eduardo Barretto seems not up to his usual quality and the story is rather - meh. To top it all of we have seen better fights of normal guys against Ulik in the pages of Thor where Lt. Stone at least had the guts to shove a grenade down his throat.

    Keeping all that in mind it´s no wonder that I made my best impression of " exit stage left " after issue three since the other heroes decided to go after the Punisher in issue 4. Good riddance.

    SAM AND TWITCH 9 - 21


    The first 8 issues had it all : an interesting murder mistery with the UDAKU storyline, good art by Angel Medina and lots of action. So it is a real surprise that it all goes down the toilet starting with issue 9. It´s just too full of what I call " expository Bendis dialogue " that I can really enjoy it. In some old comics there was this thing later generations called expository dialogue which was used to give the reader vital information even if it was not a very realistic way to talk.

    Now expository Bendis dialogue is when two or more characters talk for page after page without anything happening and with no information for the reader. It´s all there to let the writer flex his writing muscles and stroke his ego. You know, the kind of " talking head " pages that good writers try to avoid and which has almost killed the DAREDEVIL franchise.

    I won´t say that Bendis doesn´t write good dialogue but if I want to see two characters talk and talk and talk for hours then I watch a movie or go to the theatre. Comics are about action. And another thing is that if I buy a Sam and Twitch comic I want to read a Sam and Twitch comic and not a Jinx comic. I really don´t care for bounty hunters as the heroes. The reason I stopped reading the book is - I guess - that I had just enough of watching Twitch become more and more of a selfcentered I - don´t - give - a - crap - about - anything - including - my - partner grade A a$$hole. With bad art I have to add.

    JUST A PILGRIM


    Okay, I´m not sure if I ever was a fanatic Garth Ennis reader but I guess this book landed on my pull list in the wake of PREACHER. With both titles beginning with a p and sounding a bit religious I was ready to take a chance but there are worlds between Preacher and Pilgrim. Carlos Ezquerra is a spanish artist and even if it´s not an art style I like I really have seen worse. As to the story that´s pure Garth Ennis and that´s the problem.

    It has the same gross out moments and tough as nails characters as Preacher but without the great underlying story of Preacher or the wonderful character moments it´s just lacking. There is a good portion of symbolism involved and even a main character that shares traits with the kind of lonesome cowboys Clint Eastwood used to play. But without the positive aspects of Preacher it´s just so full of the grim and gritty that it only can be read as a dark comedy on life. Much too cynical for my taste. There are some nice covers in this series especially in the second miniseries GARDEN OF EDEN but it´s just not worth it.

    TRINITY ANGELS


    Like MARVEL KNIGHTS this series should have worked. I mean three scantily clad babes drawn by Kevin Maguire trying to save the world. How can this go wrong ? The problem is that it is kind of the anti - TAROT as it has too much story and not enough cheesecake to be really worthwhile. The characters don´t really come alive and there are several guest artists even if one of them is Jeff Johnson. Hmm, I wonder what ever happened to him. He did a really great WONDER MAN series and had this kung fu series at CrossGen but I think he was one of the few artists Marvel didn´t aquire. In any case I´m missing issue 6 so it´s not even a complete run.

    Reading the issues I became aware that there were some interesting books coming out by ACCLAIM with great artists like Velluto on Bloodshot, Scott Eaton and Bart Sears on X - O Manowar but the only other comic I really followed was the brilliant Quantum and Woody. One of THE best superhero comedies right up there with the Giffen League.


    But that was all I read apart from two or three X - O Manowar issues by Sean Chen. Acclaim did continue some of the Valiant books but for me they were always Valiant light.

    For instance while the Valiant series of X - O Manowar was about a barbarian warrior named Aric who had battled against ancient Rome and who landed in our time with a high tech alien armor in the Acclaim X - O Manowar it was a science wizard wearing a high tech armor. In the Valiant version we had Conan the barbarian wearing an armor more advanced than Iron Man and like Captain America he was a man out of his time. But while it were only a few decades with Captain America Aric came from a few centuries back.

    That was one hell of a concept and one hell of a series that even had superstar Bart Sears in the final issues. Now the Acclaim version was basically Iron Man with the Iron Man armor. Not really innovative. Which I think just shows why Accalim folded.

    the ones that have escaped the chopping block :

    SLINGERS


    After re - reading the issues I have realized that they are not as bad as I thought on first reading. Maybe it´s the fact that the issues mesh better if you read them in one sitting or I expected too much because of the rave reviews the series was getting when I first read it. This time around it was a pretty decent read.

    But I was also reminded why I didn´t like the series in the first place. The writing is just lazy and undecided. The author tries too many different things instead of deciding on one direction to go. The motivation of the characters is just to unexplained and there´s no real development to get a feeling for them. And we have all read better teen angst in NEW MUTANTS. The main characters bicker and fight amongst themselves but it always seems they´re talking AT each other not WITH each other. As for the happenings of the zero issue it all just turns the team members into idiots who can´t follow the simplest safety rules.

    The story in itself is too short but that may be because it was ended before it´s time. As for the art I have to say that there must have been a time when I really liked ChrissCross but that time seems to have passed and there are just too many fill - in issues in the series. As it is the sad part is that both Prodigy and Ricochet have their best moments in LONERS and AVENGERS : THE INITIATIVE. I think the last one may be the real reason why I´m keeping SLINGERS because it´s kind of a prequel for Prodigy. The only problem is that now that I have decided to keep them I have to check out the number ones since it seems that there is a different number one for each team member as I have gotten the Hornet issue.


    For those who don´t know the story : Once upon a time Spider - Man had some legal problems ( which is not really narrowing it down ) and while trying to clear his name he adopted four different superhero identities : Ricochet, Hornet, Prodigy and Husk. Yes, I thought the same : what a brilliant way to simplify his life. Instead of the problems of ONE costumed identity Peter now has FOUR TIMES as much. But hey, it sounds good for Marvel so what the hey ! He pretty soon ditched them anyway.

    Anyway, the story was so memorable that I have absolutely no idea what it was about. I wouldn´t even have remembered the first thing about it if I hadn´t re - read SLINGERS. Now at Marvel somebody must have realized that they had just thrown away the potential for four new superheroes by making them new alternative identities for Spider - Man. And so the idea for SLINGERS was born. In the book a former superhero who wants to regain his glory gives the four costumed identities to four teenagers and so the team of the Slingers is born.


    On the first night out a terrible accident ( as if ) happens and hijinks ensure....It´s not as bad as I make it sound but again there are some big plot holes and it´s hard to identify with such a selfcentered and unsympathetic bunch. Well, at least sometimes they are. Aw, they´re good kids just not too bright.

    IRON MAN Vol 3 issues 1 - 21 and 26 to 49


    I was pretty sure that I wanted to keep issues 26 to 30 because THE MASK IN THE IRON MAN is the best story of the run if not one of THE best Iron Man stories ever. If you only read one Iron Man story in your life there are a few to choose from and THE MASK IN THE IRON MAN is my personal favorite. The art by Sean Chen that is always solid really shines in these issues even if there is one done by later regular artist Alita Martinez.

    What really blows you away is the story by Joe Quesada, Mr. Marvel himself that reveals a real insight into the character of Tony Stark. But the best is the first page of every issue. If you are a comic writer or comic artist or any kind of comic professional you have to read the story. Because Joe Quesada uses the same words in every first page but through using different pictures and the context of what has happened before it´s always different. This is really comic writing 101.

    Normally I would put up an amazon link but they don´t have it on stock and you should be able to find the trade in good comic stores.


    I wasn´t so sure of the other issues though. I think one of the main problems I had with this volume is that although Sean Chen is a capable artist he needs a re really powerful story to bring his a game and although Kurt Busiek writes a good story it seems we have seen it all before. Tony comes back from the dead, regains his fortune and starts another company with Happy Hogan and Pepper Potts as employees.

    There is the underlying mystery of who wants to kill Tony Stark and a new love interest with Rumiko Fujikawa as well as the unavoidable confrontation with the Mandarin but it feels like just another day at the office. Also I lost interest about the time of the crossover with THE EIGHT DAY so I missed the big payoff as to who the mystery villain was.

    Despite this I think I will keep the issues to number 21 because it is a solid run with good art and even some issues done by Mark Bagley, Tom Grummet and Paul Ryan ( of whom I really would like to see a regular series again ). And I wouldn´t get that much money for them anyway. I have kept all the other Iron Man issues so I´m keeping them as well.


    As for the post issue 30 floppies : the SONS OF YINSEN story is not that interesting even if it has repercussions to the last issue around 48 but the two stories after it are more interesting like the story that introduces MGH to the Marvel universe and has guest art by Paul Ryan. REMOTE CONTROL on the other hand is the typical greek drama about friendship, lies, deceit, betrayal, love, revenge and murder. The art is not my favorite ( it´s the artist who was did the fill - in issue in MASK IN THE IRON MAN ) but the story won me over.

    As usual I was reading the issues before deciding which ones to keep ( which is the reason why I still haven´t read more than one comic from the last haul from the comic shoppe ) and after I had read the first three issues I had to read the rest before going to bed. Now the only problem I have is that I don´t know what happened to Rumiko. The only negative point is that if you read it now you know the rule that whenever some old friend of the main character that nobody has heard about appears he´s the new villain. We know this since HUSH but I think this was pre - hush so even if it is a cliche if you read it now Quesada did it first.

    The writing is so effective that even while the reader suspects the villain all along it tries to turn our suspicions in other directions. Now looking at which issues I got and when I stopped reading the book I guess that I returned to Iron Man after MASK IN THE IRON MAN ( which I had heard good things about and bought at Erlangen ) and stayed because I heard that Keron Grant is going to take over the penciling. Now Keron Grant is one of the artists I like and my brother hates.


    Because he draws too mangaesque and he doesn´t do elbows. I always like the pure energy and the action his art transports to the reader. So that´s another reason to keep the run and not break it up into three or four short batches. It is just easier to look for the issues 22 to 25 than to decide which issues to keep and which to sell. Before ending the subject of Iron Man I have to say that one of the things I like in this volume is that Tony Stark the inventor takes centerstage. One of the reasons why I have always followed Iron Man is that as an inventor he does have a creative side much like an artist.

    Of course he also is kind of crazy since he always seems to turn every invention into a weapon but that´s another story. As always Tony goes through a few armors during the book even ending up in one of his first ones. There have been a few stories where he uses his old armors and it always has the same effect on him - he´s reminded of how he liked the feeling of the old armor. I guess it must be like driving an old car. It may not be as fast and padded as the new fancy cars but it is such a good feeling to feel the vibration of the engine and being pressed into the seat when it pours on the full velocity. There´s a certain nostalgia to the smell of sweat, motor oil and old battles against such pesky guys like the Blizzard, Whiplash or even....Captain America ? Whom he fought a lot.


    Anyway, before Tony Stark became the most hated guy in the Marvel universe - and now thanks to DARK REIGN the biggest loser - he was a really cool guy even if he sometimes was a bit weird. The part in the Keron Grant run where he tries to live like a normal guy without his fortune is full of comedy relief. The realistic part is that living this experience once is enough for him.

    Once again that´s all for today and I hope this wasn´t too boring. Next up : a few more links with some patented commentary from me.

    Corrections : the main character of X - O Manowar was named Aric not Alaric, my bad. Although now that I think of it Alaric does sound much better. I have to remember to use the name in a comic sometime.

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  • As you may have noticed I have disabled the comment function for this post. Not because I don´t like to read your comments ( so keep them coming ) but because someone is constantly posting spam. Now on one side it´s kind of flattering that someone thinks I have enough traffic that he can get something from this. And for a few eeks I was glad to just delete it but enough is enough.

    Sunday, July 05, 2009

    And on the seventh day he rested

    You may have noticed that I did not do a review of Captain America 600 for the 4th of July. I know, some of my readers will be wondering what I´m talking about since I have deleted the announcement.


    What happened is that I thought I had taken the issue 600 with me at my last visit at the comic shop but when I wanted to read it Yesterday I realized that it´s still in my bag back at the shop.

    So I deleted the announcement and couldn´t do the post. I thought about doing a different 4th of July post but I couldn´t come up with anything that I haven´t already said in my big Captain America post ( which can be found in the top ten posts link at the end of each post) or right here and which includes a german version of the text .

    The 4th of July is no big holiday here in Germany anyway and even in Spain the big date in July is the 25th which is the day of the patron saint of Spain. Which - by the way - is also MY patron saint. So instead of doing a new post I have tweaked my last post a bit. And really, that last post was a really long one. When I do a post I usually read over it the next day just to make sure everything is as it is supposed to be.

    It usually takes quite some time to finish these posts and at the end I can barely keep my eyes open or look for typos. So Yesterday I read the post as well as some of the links which I hadn´t read before, added a few links ( like one for an interview with Jonah Hex writers Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti that I also included in my big Jonah Hex post ) and some text to clarify a few things. Yes, not everything we bloggers do gets noticed.


    Apart from that I added a link for an episode from ComicGeekSpeak about Blackest Night 0 to my final post about free comic book day.

    Then in the middle of the night I had a panik attack and started going through my comic boxes sorting out the stuff that´s going into the FOR SALE box for a few hours. So today was my day of rest and I haven´t done much aside from finishing to put my mixtapes in order, get up to date on what my link partners are writing and watching CSI and THE MENTALIST. Tomorrow I have to do a few things like going to the bank and getting new dates for physio therapy but with any luck I can continue with doing the next round of links. I thought about adding one or two on this post but I´d rather not scatter them over too much posts. The sooner I can wrap this up and get to important stuff like Power Girl the better.


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  • The only one who didn´t worry about fitting in was Hal. He let the rest of the world fit in around him.

    Friday, July 03, 2009

    The story thus far - part 1

    I haven´t posted regularly the last few weeks so I have to make up for that now. Because both of my brothers are on vacation right now I took the opportunity to do the stuff I can´t when they are both around.


    Here are a few of the things I´ve been up to :

    A. Put all the vcr tapes in order

    The last time I was in Spain my older brother used my absence and that of my mother to totally rearrange the living room furniture to transform it into his own personal home cinema center. Of course he didn´t empty out all the vcr tapes before that so when he moved the furniture all of them fell out. And of course he put them back all wrong so that it was impossible to find particular tapes. So it took me a whole day to take them all out, sort em through and put them in the right order.

    B. Start watching the ONE PIECE tapes

    Because the tapes were all mixed up I couldn´t find the tapes of ONE PIECE, a pirate / superhero anime that I had been following for the longest time. But a few years back my younger brother was more interested in playing on his PS2 than catching up with the show and we made it a habit to watch the episodes together. While I was in Spain they rerun the episodes so that my brother was now up to date and I wasn´t. When the episodes were shown again a few months back I watched them but there was a huge gap of episodes I hadn´t seen. So now that I have the opportunity I´m watching the episodes. So far I have finished the first Davy Back fight.


    C. Put my mixtapes in order

    Last time I came from Spain all the tapes were in the wrong order and I couldn´t find my mixtapes of hot chicks like Janet Jackson, Beyonce or Mariah Carey. Since they are now in the right order I could also put my mixtapes where they belong.

    D. Streamline my comic collection

    Since reading an article in DOLMEN about the difference of collecting comics and amassing comics I have started to get rid of comics I won´t read again or which I don´t want in my comic collection. So far I have only been able to go through the few boxes that were on shelfes somewhere. Since I´m all alone now I could go through all the hundreds of comics I have in my secretary and in the big boxes and all the others I didn´t have access to before.

    My problem is that my brother keeps rearranging our room as he sees fit which means adjusting to his needs - and totally ignoring mine. Usually it works that way that whenever I have rearranged all my stuff so that I can work again he puts all the furniture where it blocks my access to my comics and everything else. Which is one of the reasons why my stuff and my comics are so totally all over the place. One of the things I have also been doing is putting collections and runs together that were in seperate places. So far I´m making good headlomg in streamlining my collection but it is really hard to decide what to get rid of because somehow it´s like choosing between your kids.


    Anyway, I have selected a huge pile that I will get rid of. Right now I´m putting them online at several comic forums to see if I can sell them at a good price and every time I go to the comic shop I take the worst cases with me. When selecting the comics I always put them in three piles. One pile for the ones that are so worn out or have other defects so that I can´t sell them to other collectors. One for the comics I sell for one buck because they have a price tag of one buck or less. And the third pile for the rest.

    The first time I took some comics to the shop was a sobering experience since I took some grade - a stuff and didn´t get much for it. That´s why I now make it a habit to never take number ones or special issues to the shop. As a last resort I will do that but then it will be like fourty number ones at the same time.

    Of course that´s not the end of my streamlining efforts since I still have to go through some boxes that I can´t reach now thanks to my shoulder injury. But it´s the first step. So far I´m trying not to break up complete runs and storylines. Wnem I´m done with it I will probably have to go through the remaining comics again. The work of a comic collector never ends.

    E. Close gaps in my comic collection

    Since I´m online and putting my comics for sale anyway I´m also looking to close the gaps I still have in my comic collection. The same reason why now is really not such a good time to sell your comic collection is the same reason why now is the best time to buy comics online : everybody and his brother is selling his comic collection. Maybe it´s the actual state of economy, maybe readers are fed up with hyped crossovers and price increases that border on the insane.


    In any case there is now a lot of quality back issue stuff at the lowest prices available. Just Yesterday I found someone who is selling some of the Green Arrow and Black Panther issues I still need. He also sells a lot of trades at a really low price but since I already have the Captain America issues of the Brubaker run I will stick to the Daredevil trades. Usually I buy them at half price at the german comic fairs. But I missed the last one and even if he sells the trades only four bucks cheaper than normal price that´s roughly half the german price.

    F. Start throwing away old PREVIEWS catalogues

    As with most stuff they have accumulated and since there isn´t much to do with them I have to start throwing them away. It´s not as if there are other comic readers out there who need them or I can get something for the paper. So I have put them on a big pile and everytime I leave the house I take a few with me to throw them into the paper bin.

    Anyway, that´s what I´ve been up to the last weeks besides physio therapy and having to do all the normal chores. Inbetween I feel like a composite legionnaire because sometimes my shoulder hurts so bad that I think I´m Arm Fall Off Boy on other occasions my feet are so swollen that I think I must be Bouncing Boy. I have sat down at the computers a few times in the last days but in most cases I was either too tired already and just switched it off or it took me some hours alone to stay up to date. And THEN I was too tired to post anything.


    But I have wanted to do a new post for a few days now and today I´m finally going to. I thought that my next post would be about comic books, Dc messing with Power Girl´s boobs ( if you have read the first issue of the new series you know what I mean ), the long promised big Teen Titans post or even the last part of my convention diary of last year´s catastrophic visit of the Salon del Comic de Barcelona - or at least a new solicitation rundown - but there is so much stuff I have to comment on that it will have to wait. As it is I will have to split it into various parts so here is the first one.

    Comic sales crash in May

    I admit that this is kind of old news now but nevertheless I wanted to post it. According to ICv2 no comic passed the 110K mark in May and it should really surprise noone with the 3.99 price tag that´s put on more and more books these days.

    Again the 3.99 price point

    And speaking about the price increas in comics Joe Quesada has answered.....or better given his final answer to the 3.99 price increase. After the comments of Marvel's General Counsel, John Turitzin, had leaked out ( Tales from the Kryptonian covered it in an earlier post ) Marvel´s head honcho has to try to contain the damage. The comments that were made : "We’re always testing our pricing on our comic books to see to the extent to which it is inelastic, and we can increase our profit in that business."


    and "We’re just looking to maximize our profits for that business while not alienating our own fan base by making them feel that they’re gouged, which I hope you don’t feel.” sparkled a lot of anger by comics reader and rightly so.

    Now Mr. Quesada has answered this but before putting up the link I wanted to comment on some things he says. I know I have no idea of the actual comic business but as a customer for more than 20 years I think I can at least share my viewpoint on this.

    I can´t understand that he´s unwilling to give an exact price rundown from a business point of view. Not that I like it much but here in Germany comic companies won´t even publish their printruns or the monthly numbers like in America. So this is no real surprise.

    The fact that the smaller size was not an experiment to find out if this would be more cost efficient is kind of disappointing though. All the more since it doesn´t seem that he´s in the least interested in following that train of thought. Now on the matter of crappier paper I have to say from my experiences as a comic publisher that the cost difference to better quality paper is really small. It´s something I have also heard from most comic guys I know so we can take that as a fact.


    On the other side don´t tell me that you have to pay the artists so much to keep them on the books. Because :

    1. this way I will think the higher price is justified for someone I like on a book like HULK that´s done by Ed McGuiness but I won´t think it´s justified when someone I don´t like is on New Avengers like Billy Tan. If you start arguing that way there will be a lot of books out there which in my opinion don´t deserve the higher price tag. Furthermore I will start to think that maybe it´s just a cheap trick to squeeze as much profit from the bestsellers. Bad idea.

    2. if you pay the artists that much it is kind of insulting to take it as a reason to slap the readers with the higher price tag while doing nothing about late issues or keeping said super star artists on the book for more than 6 consecutive issues. I mean if you say you need it to produce quality that quality should also cover reliability and loyalty. Meaning if a super star artist takes longer to do an issue and only stays on a book for a few scattered issues that IS the price you as a reader are already paying. So I´m not inclined to pay more.

    Yes, the artwork is far superior to other artists BUT when I have to pay it with long publishing gaps and less issues it may not be worth to buy the single issues.


    It´s true that every month the next issue of ALL STAR BATMAN & ROBIN THE BOY WONDER ( that is still being published, right ? ) doesn´t ship I have an additional 2.99 to spend on another book. But there is a point when you ask yourself if it´s really worth all the trouble and just decide to wait for the trade.

    3. the fact that better comic artists earn more money doesn´t help me get a bigger monthly budget. It is what it is and no argument is going to change that. That´s a fact that I have brought up uncountable times in discussions with german comic companies and it seems to be something that comic execs just don´t get. If a parent just wants to pay 3 bucks for a comic ( and as it is you are lucky to find a parent willing to pay 3 bucks for a comic ) it won´t matter that your 20 buck comic monster gives him the equivalent of 10 comics for 2 bucks. It´s above the 3 buck budget and that´s that. No parent ( or kid for that matter ) will buy comics in bundles.

    Another argument is that if you produce comics with lesser quality standards and another company does the high end product all the good talent will go to the other company. Meaning that only the highest quality books are worth the effort of producing it. Sorry, but that doesn´t ring true if we look at Marvel like it´s more than one company. Because they DO produce 3.99 books as well as 2.99 books which means that the 3.99 books should be selling like brownies at a weight watchers seminar while the 2.99 books should not sell at all.


    Which would mean that it is financial suicide to produce those books since they can´t sell. On the other side it would also mean that it´s impossible to have high profile artists like Brian Hitch on Fantastic Four or Steve Epting on Captain America.

    Now you may argue that some people will just buy the 2.99 Marvel books because their budget won´t allow it and they will be upset because they can´t afford to buy the 3.99 books where the best artists and writers give it their best effort. Or they will be buying less books letting the mid - level or low - level books fall to the side.

    I think readers will rather quit Marvel entirely and go to other companies like IMAGE for instance where they get a book like Erik Larsen´s SAVAGE DRAGON where Mr. Larsen is putting his love, sweat and tears in the book for 150 ( !!! ) consecutive issues. He´s writing it, he´s drawing it and for 150 issues it´s one long story without rebbots that is still entertaining.


    Or another great book like USAGI YOJIMBO that is indeed in black and white and surprisingly sells. It may be news to Mr. Quesada but there are quite a number of high quality black and white comics out there and the comic industry is still alive and kicking. It may not be very popular with most mainstream readers but if I have learned one thing it´s that the mainstream always changes according to quality. With that I don´t mean that the best comics will alway be the bestsellers. That´s not true. But when BATTLE CHASERS started nobody wanted to read sword and sorcery comics. Then BATTLE CHASERS hit, was a huge success and suddenly there were dozens of other books like it.

    And if you want the comic industry´s greatest artists and writers on the best books you might try the back issue bins where you can find such gems like DREADSTAR, ELFQUEST or NEXT MEN. One more reason to buy back issues.


    Mr. Quesada says he´s not talking about dropping books but I AM talking about dropping books. If you have 10 bucks to buy your food for the week and suddenly you have to pay 1 additional buck for bread there are three things that can happen. It can be you have that extra buck than it´s business as usual. It can be that you don´t have the extra buck so you will leave the chocolate bar at the supermarket. You will not leave the butter or the milk there because it doesn´t make sense to buy bread and not buy butter or milk. The third thing that can happen : you go to a supermarket where bread is still at the old price or where they sell a cheaper brand. Which would be like buying back issues something that has increased a lot in the last months. As well as customer to customer sales.

    Another argument is that the majority of Marvel´s books is still at 2.99 because they want to keep as many books at that price point. Okay, then why start so many new series that all start with the 3.99 price tag ? And why restart so many series with the 3.99 price tag ? Wouldn´t it make more sense to not restart books if it meant having to do the jump from 2.99 to 3.99 ? I´m sorry but that doesn´t look like Marvel is really interested in keeping as many books at 2.99 as possible. Quite the opposite. It may be that Marvel really IS trying to keep books at 2.99 but it certainly doesn´t look this way.


    He hints at the possibility of 3.99 books going back to a 2.99 price but that´s something Í will believe when I see it. As for the point of not anting to sell less comic for more money - it seems Marvel is already doing it. And up till now I have seen nothing that undermines his statement that he would rather give the readers more comic content for their money. Till now I have only seen DC doing it which may be the reason that ne mentions it. Anyway, as usual my comments have gotten to long so here´s the link where you can read Mr. Quesada´s final words on the 3.99 price tag :

  • joe quesada´s final words on the 3.99 tag


  • It´s my own fault for letting them milk me dry

    Now despite all my bitching I have to say that I´m one of the guilty ones too when it comes to the 3.99 comics. Mea culpa. Here I am telling people NOT to support the 3.99 tag and then when I´m at the comic shop I buy them. Cami Berardi over at COMICS WAITINTG ROOM ponders the question why we still pay so much for comics :

  • shut up and give me all your money


  • It´s really an interesting read and I have to say for me there is a clear limit to what I´m willing to pay : 2.99 for a regular 22 page comic and 3.99 for either a comic with more than 22 pages - comic content - or 22 pages of top star artists. Well, what I consider top star artists : Carlos Pacheco, Ed McGuiness, Marc Silvestri, Frank Cho etc. And don´t tell me I´m too picky. A few months ago you got a 48 page comic like the JLA annual by Jerry Ordway for 3.99 so it´s hard for readers to pay the same for normal comics as it is.


    On a similar note Publishers Weekly takes a look at the changes Diamond´s new sales benchmarks have caused in the industry one year later. It seems that independent publishers have had to adapt and try new forms of retail but so far they haven´t had the idea to band together and start their own distribution system or find another distributor.

    I think I recall that when I started collecting american comics back in the 1980s there were more than one comic distributors and I don´t think there is one real reason why there can´t be more than one. Other than Diamond not wanting to let others cut into their business.

    And it seems that I´m not the only one who thinks that there could very soon be an alternative to Diamond as Kleefeld offers his prognosis for the future of distribution.

    Diamond is also the topic of Simon Jones at Icarus publishing :

    Yen, TP, Yaoi Gen on latest Diamond cancellation list

    Sharp-eyed Tweeter (Twittee? Twitterite? Twittista? ) Sean Gaffney spots several Yen Press books on the latest Diamond Previews cancellation list, and MangaBlog follows up with YP’s Kurt Hassler, who reconfirms the release schedule for said books. In other words, the books are still coming out, but Diamond has passed on them, and DM retailers must rely on another source. Anime News Network lists all the Yen Press books affected, plus cancelled items from other manga/anime companies, which includes Tokyopop, Go Comi (via PGW), and, unfortunately, Yaoi Generation; as a younger publisher with fewer established distribution avenues, YG may be hurt most by this latest round of cancellations, although it is possible they do a significant amount of business through direct online sales like many other yaoi pubs.


    These may not be big titles, but cancel enough of them, and DM retailers will eventually have enough reasons to move most or all of their manga orders to someone who keeps a more complete stock. (Someone like AAA Anime, for example. Or any of the book market distributors.) And that’s not a bad thing at all for the rest of the industry. Or even Diamond, for whom Marvel and DC are still 80% of their business. They certainly seem quite willing to cede manga sales to others, even for books from top publisher Viz, so they surely have good reasons for it.

    There is no distribution monopoly on paperback manga, so this isn’t a Diamond issue (pamphlet comics are another story). Yen Press’ books will still be released, and the good comic shops will still have them; any DM retailer committed to manga already know that they cannot depend solely on Diamond. But if it so happens that your store is one of those exceptions, don’t blame Diamond… the problem lies with the store. Why aren’t they willing to order the book for you from another distributor? And if it’s not viable for them to do so, have they voiced their dissatisfaction to Diamond? If the store cannot provide adequate answers to these questions, you should shop elsewhere.

    Optimum survival tips

    And while being on the subject of comics and economics OPTIMUM WOUNDS´Jason Thibault has an interesting article about 23 Ways for a Comic Artist to Survive and Thrive in any Economy.


    Not all the tips are for everyone but this list should be required reading for all artists. Especially struggling artists. There are really cool ideas as well as links to pages that will help you get on the right track.

    German comic award announcement and other stuff

    COMIKS DEBRIS has the winners of this year´s ICOM Independent Comics Award which was announced on the 14th of June. The ICOM award is one of two german comic awards with the Max und Moritz Preis that is given at Erlangen and mostly covers mainstream books.

  • the icom award winners


  • After CRY HAVOK ! fellow blog FORTRESS OF FORTITUTE closes it´s doors. Blogging is really not as simple as it looks and one by one the legendary ones quit. Sometimes I think I´m just still blogging because I still have so much stuff to talk about. Anyway, I haven´t been an avid reader in the last months for obvious reasons but the fortress keeper was one of the good ones. Good luck and thanks for the untold hours of entertainment.

  • fortress of fortitute finally finished


  • Well, it seems some topics follow you no matter what. In my last post I mentioned MATCHING DRAGOONS the ultimate website on all things Jonah Hex


    that just celebrated it´s three year anniversary this week ( Congratulations again ! ) and today I find an interview on THE GEEK BEAT with Justin Gray one of Jonah Hex´co writers.

  • justin gray interview


  • I have added it to the Jonah Hex post as well as the ComicGeekSpeak episode with Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti.

  • justin gray and jimmy palmiotti on comicgeekspeak


  • Last but not least Ben Morse over at THE COOL KIDS TABLE offers his list of his definite Batman comics although I have to say VETO ! on No Man´s Land since it wasn´t really a Batman story :

  • the definite batman


  • And with that I finish today´s post which has - once again - taken a few hours longer than it should. And that was only a part - roughly a third - of what I wanted to cover. I thought I could cover more but I got a bit lenghty on my comments to Joe Quesada´s last word on the 3.99 tag. Sorry about that. Anyway, I want to whish you a happy Independence Day if I don´t get to post tomorrow !


    New to the blog ? Everything you need to know about TALES FROM THE KRYPTONIAN :

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