Monday, July 18, 2011

Now that you´re naked why don´t you jump into this field of cactuses ?

Okay, I totally expected this to be a fully blown post about how THE BULLETPROOF COFFIN is just three kinds of Airwolf but instead here is part two of what was originally going to be the introduction for my posts on GRATIS COMIC TAG 2011.

I would have posted sooner but as I never learn from past experience on Saturday I ate a sandwich just before going to sleep which gave me a really bad case of indigestion. After a few hours of unsuccessful toilet runs I finally managed to throw up and sleep a few hours after that but for the rest of Saturday I was completely useless and I slept through most of Sunday. I was totally appetiteless and only ate some peanuts. Maybe this time I will finally learn something from the experience.

And speaking of painful experiences, there is still a lot to cover about how my GRATIS COMIC TAG 2011 went and the overall resume before I can - hopefully - come to the comics themselves. Who knows ? I might even finish this series until the end of this month so I could give other people comic presents on my birthday. That would so rock ! Although I probably should be a bit careful with that, otherwise my brother may take it as another attempt to make myself appear cooler than I am.

Yeah, because a caveman like me is the epitome of coolness.

No really, like we saw in my last post, being " cool " nowadays must mean having no sense of direction, less brains than a piece of dried bread and less stamina than a newborn kitten. Because it´s not very clever not to have a map if you always get lost whenever you leave the house ( my tip : don´t leave the house - period ). And if you don´t have a map you should at least ask for directions or write down the address where you want to be. Or you could use my method which is just go in any direction and the rest will work itself out somehow. Which leads to the usual result : me being completely lost and having to get back of an area that has even remote signs of civilization like public transportaion. Preferably before blacking out from fatigue, starvation, dehydration or - my favorite - the combination of all three.

Yep, I´ve just got coolness written all over me.

So, when last we tuned into SUBZERO´s exciting high octane travel adventures he had just decided to make another trip, this time to the WORLD OF COMICS shop in Stuttgart. Which is kind of " on the way " since you always go through Stuttgart when you return from Esslingen to Neckarweihingen. I´m saying kind of because you have to disembark the subway on Stuttgart central station and walk a good while down the Königsstrasse to get there. Although to tell the truth, in reality you´re going more " up " then " down " so you´re really going Up the Königsstrasse. Which sounds kind of an insult now that I read it. " Hey, up the Königsstrasse, you maggot ! " Or something like that.

Back when the Heinzelmännchen comicshop in Stuttgart was still open I always made sure to stop there on my way back from the comicshop where I picked up my american comic subscriptions. They had a special table where all the newest books were laid out and I could always peruse the newest releases. I also often had a chat with some of the employees or even the owner - if he had time for that.

I think that shop was one of the reasons why I read more comics outside of my pull list back then. I´m not sure if I read more comics outside of my comfort zone back then or if I just had a wider comfort zone but there was always some french BD or german publication that caught my eye and was added to my reading stack. Some new album of JOHN DIFOOL, THE TECHNO FATHERS, CEREBUS or any other new stuff by Moebius, Harm Bengen, Milo Manara, Oscar Gimenez or Enki Bilal.

I remember that back then the so called " manga boom " had just hit Germany - as usual ten years later then in Spain - and I started adding a few manga titles to my regular comic diet like CASE CLOSED, KENSHIN, OH MY GODDESS and LONE WOLF AND CUB. Although I was getting LONE WOLF AND CUB through amazon to boycott the distributor for american comics in Germany.

The thing was that there had been an american edition from Viz comics in the 80s right around the time I was doing my military service in Munich of LONE WOLF AND CUB that was in the usual pamphlet format. It´s one of the more lengthy titles so I don´t know if they published it in it´s entirety. In Germany CARLSEN COMICS has also started publishing the series but they did it in big mote phonebook - like volumes. And they also gave up after a dozen or so issues. I even got a few of them at half - price from the Sammlerecke a few years back.

So I always had heard what a great manga LONE WOLF AND CUB was but I never got to read it since the german version as well as the american version had been discontinued. A few years went by then suddenly there was news that DARK HORSE was going to publish the entire manga in a 28 volume pocketsized edition with covers by famous comic artists and fans of the series like Frank Miller. Which got me really excited so I immediatelly put it on my pull list. And on every visit to my comicstore I asked if the first volume of LONE WOLF AND CUB had finally arrived. And on every visit there was no new volume of LONE WOLF AND CUB. Or an old one.

Until my comicdealer told me - I think this was around one year and a half that I had put it on my pull list - that there would be no volumes of DARK HORSE´s new edition of LONE WOLF AND CUB in german comicshop. Not now or in the near future.

The thing was that PANINI COMICS was going to do a new edition of the series ( or was in the preparations to do so in a few years ).

And since the distributor of american comics in Germany was somehow connected to that they didn´t want to compete with a possibly superior edition. Especially if it reaches german readers first. You can´t sell your comic if everybody has already bought and read it.

So they just cancelled any customers orders for DARK HORSE´s LONE WOLF AND CUB and apparently some of the comic dealers knew this at some point. Just another example of a german comic publisher trying to force his books on german readers. And I think it´s not so much that I was suspecting the german translation could be inferior to the american translation - which I did. I think what really ticked me off that all those years I was waiting to read this manga that got so much praise from everybody and then finding out that somebody cancelled my orders just to sell me his version.

Which would have succeeded IF Panini had also thought about eliminating the other source for american comics into Germany : amazon. When the german editions began to see print I had gotten a few books from amazon but I think I became a regular customer through the LONE WOLF AND CUB series.

Because whenever I start a new manga I never start with the first issue because I hate to have to wait between volumes for the next installments. Which is what I have to do now with CASE CLOSED and it´s killing me since a new volume comes out every two months. Two months !

Anyway, not only did I get the LONE WOLF AND CUB mangas from amazon because I sure as hell wasn´t going to give the bastards, who had prevented me from reading them in the first place for so long, my hard earned money. I also did it because they were already up to volume 25 of 28 which meant that I could get three, four or five volumes with each order and read them continuously. They were only half the size of the later published german edition for the same price but you can better appreciate the brilliant page layout that way. And they don´t take up as much space which is a big plus if you have a lot of comics to store.

But that was why I was boycotting the german distributor for comics and getting them via amazon. But let´s get back to what I was reading before the Heinzelmännchen went out of business.

The other reason that I read a more diverse range of comics in that period was that I didn´t have such a tight budget to spend on comics and comics weren´t as expensive as nowadays.

Now my main avenues to keep up to date with german comics are my comicshop - when I have a few bucks left, which isn´t very often - or comic conventions and events like GRATIS COMIC TAG 2011. So, to come back to my particular case of hubris ( I always wanted to use that word in one of my posts and it really sounds much better than " exaggerated opinion of myself " ) I had decided to seek out WORLD OF COMICS but it´s been a while since my last visit so I was in for a surprise. Well, in fact two surprises. Because when I got to the last location that was known to me the shop had vanished.

Well, not really vanished since the shop was still there but it was empty. There were no comics there. I was really devastated. Had I just made the long trek out here for nothing ? After a few minutes of walking around the shop a few times I found a small pictogram with an encoded message that showed an arrow that turned to the right twice. Thanks to years of reading crime fiction like the aforementioned CASE CLOSED, CrossGen´s RUSE and a steady diet of crime tv series and movies thanks to my mother I suddenly had the intuition that this could be in reality the direction to the new location of the shop.

At first WORLD OF COMICS was directly located at the bottom level of KARSTADT SPORT in Stuttgart, then it had moved to a shop on the backside and then it moved to a somewhat hidden location at an underpass. So I followed the general direction of the arrow from the pictogramm and really, after turning left twice there was the shop which apparently was making them so much money they didn´t need new clients. Because it really would have been easier to put a sign up that says " turn left twice for the new location of comicshop ". And they wonder why they don´t sell more comics.

How about making it possible for customers to actually find you ? That´s just crazy. As if it wasn´t hard enough to sell comics to civilians they expect people to go to the backside of KARSTADT, down to the underpass and the turn left twice. Why not just close the shop down and throw away the key ? That´s faster and more effective.

Earlier I had said that there were two surprises waiting for me ( which you may have already forgotten with all the deviations I have taken so far so I´m reminding you ) and the second one was that now that I had found the new secret location of WORLD OF COMICS I had to realize that they were not participating in GRATIS COMIC TAG this year. So there were no additional copies of the free comics for me there. Sometimes I wonder how I always manage to outdo my personal catastrophes. If I hadn´t found some german issues of ULTIMATE X - MEN I was still missing the trip would have been a compltet waste of time, energy and nerves.

But that´s how it is. You win some, you loose some. It´s all a matter of perspective in the end.

On one side I had just exceeded the limits of my physical capabilities which meant that I was flat out lying on my bed the rest of the day and slept through most of Sunday. On the other hand I now knew that there was a Burger King at the subways station in Esslingen and that I could find the issues of ULTIMATE X - MEN I needed to complete my collection in a hidden shop in Stuttgart.

And that I would stay in bed on GRATIS COMIC TAG 2012 except in the unlikely case I couldn´t sleep or had to go to my comicshop on that day at all costs.

Before we come to the video section of this post I wanted to mention a gallery on Deviantart I came across while doing some research for a post, it´s from YayahCosplay and as the name implies she´s very much into the whole cosplay thing. Me I´m probably a bit too old for that or I can only play Harvey Bullock or the Kingpin.

Yaya ( I´m hope I don´t get in trouble for using the short form ) on the other side looks gorgeous, her costumes are meticulously elaborated wonders with the most minutia details, she does great make up and her results are stunning. She has some great costumes and her Catwoman puts Adam Hughes to shame. You should really check it out ! click me

Since most of Today´s post has been about LONE WOLF AND CUB the video is the first episode from the 1985 series KOZURE OKAMI which was shown on german tv station vox. Of course they had to show it after midnight and under the dreadful title DER EINSAME WOLF UND SEIN KIND but the series is pretty good for an 80s series.

It gives you a good introduction into how things were in 17th century Japan and the fights can be pretty bloody and realistic. It´s also available on DVDs where it has been cut into 5 films but I can really recommend them - as well as the original manga. While I especially like the title song ( I even tried to memorize it ), for my brother the favorite parts were when people were complaining to contract killer Lone Wolf about dragging his son into the fights and he just said it´s better for him to learn at a young age how the world is.

For my brother the contract killer represented the ordinary citizen while the complaining people represented the many youth protection organisations in Germany that censor comics, games and movies. Which isn´t that far from the truth. Here´s the first episode of KOZURE OKAMI.

New to the blog ? Everything you need to know about TALES FROM THE KRYPTONIAN : top ten posts / more posts of interest

So, who do we know who´s desperate enough and / or stupid enough to be our former mutant guinea pig ?

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