Sunday, June 10, 2012

Suddenly : Erlangen !

Yes, I was pretty convinced I wouldn´t go but what else was I supposed to do the whole holiday long ? And even if I could not go for the full four days I didn´t have to work until Sunday. So I decided to spend the first two days with comics, comics and more comics....and a bit of rain, but that´s always a given on german comic conventions.

Now true to form I only decided to go to Erlangen at the last minute which meant that on Wednesday after work I had to organize everything. Since I could only attend the convention at the first two days this meant I could not travel back with my brother which meant getting a ticket for the train.

I managed to get a ticket at a relatively moderate price although I didn´t realize it was a stopping train and we would go through every one - horse town on the way back. But more about that later.

So I had my ticket which meant the next step would be to look for a hotel room. As I had waited for the last moment this could have been a problem but since it was only for one day I found a few hotels that had vacancies. I also could have just partied through the night from Thursday to Friday - a suggestion by my brother - but unlike him I tend to see my visits to Erlangen more of a vacation than an opportunity to surpass the twelve labors of Hercules. So getting to sleep in a nice bed is fine by me. One of the hotels with still available rooms was even the hotel were my brother stayed but for money reasons and to stay a bit on my own I decided against it, which was not my best idea. Now with my ticket and my hotel room reservation the only thing left to do was packing the suitcase - or in this case the trolley case. On my last conventions I always took the trolley and it´s always more comfortable. I decided to take the big one because it´s the only one in which the folding chair fits.

When you get to a certain age standing in line for hours is not as much fun as it used to be and even if there was no particular artist announced where I went " Oh, I absolutely have to get a sketch from him. " it´s better to be safe then sorry.

It´s always better to have and not need than to need and have not. And even if I only got to use the folding chair a few times when I was last in Erlangen it sure came in handy when I had to wait half an hour for a bus because there was no bench or other place to sit on at the bus stop.

Now I especially bought this folding chair in Spain, because I couldn´t find an adequate here. Because you need one that´s comfortable, but not too big to fit into a suitcase. It has to be light because you will have to carry it but it must also be sturdy enough to carry your weight. So unless you want to embarrass yourself at the convention you better try it out before buying. And it has to be easy to fold and unfold.

Like I said, there was nobody on my signing list so I didn´t have to pack any comics for signing. And since I have most of the things you need for bad weather ( woolly hat, gloves, scarf, two umbrellas ) and all necessary drawing materials in my working bag anyway I only had to take out a few things and put in my sketchbooks. I also packed some clothes to change after the first day but although I now had everything I needed I couldn´t shake the feeling that I had forgotten something important. Which is just a thing. You always think you have forgotten something even if you didn´t.

Anyway, on Thursday I woke up right on schedule and took a shower before putting the trolley into the trunk of our car. Since there was only the folding chair and some clothes in it I also put my other bag in it but I was pretty sure it wouldn´t work out this way on the way back because then the trolley would be full of comics. I hitched the ride to Erlangen with my brother so the first 20 bucks I spent were for gas but nobody rides for free. This year my brother had decided to take the route we took the last time we came back from Erlangen because - even if it wasn´t shorter than our usual route - it sure was a lot more relaxed and easier to follow.

We even did make good time until the last kilometers when we ended up in one of the only three traffic jams of that day. Twice. So instead of around twelve o´clock - which is when the convention begins - we arrived sortly after one o´clock but all things considered we had worse trips to Erlangen. We even got off the Autobahn a bit sooner than necessary but that was okay.

Since it had already started we decided to enter the convention quickly and not go to the hotel. Even if my brother was surprised I didn´t leave the trolley in the trunk. Yeah, right. I´m hauling this baby all the way to Erlangen only to leave it in the trunk and spend the whole day schlepping all the comics around the Kongresszentrum. No thanks.

The reason why you take a trolley is so you can have the heavy or bulky things with you but only when you need to. You put the bottles of water there or your comics or your jacket when it´s hot. And I really spend a lot of the first day putting my jeans jacket in the trolley and getting it out again. Because outside it was kind of chilly, then it was rather hot inside, then I went outside and it was cold again, then it got warmer, then it started to rain, then it was back again to the convention, then out again.......just endless fun.

No really, whenever Erlangen takes place and no matter how the weather is before it, it always has to rain at least once during Erlangen. The last month had ended with pretty sunny and warm weather but the nearer we came to Erlangen the colder and rainier it got.

Which didn´t interest me that much once I was inside the convention. Although I have to confess I almost forgot that I had to pay for tickets. Normally I just take the four day ticket which is cheaper but this time I had to buy tickets for the two days I was staying.

This time around there was no meticulous game plan to get as many sketches as possible since most of the interesting artists were signing at PANINI and the comicfans have to do a triathlon to get a sketch. I never can understand how they organize these things and it really does seem like the most important thing for the guys from PANINI Germany is that they get to hang out with their favorite artists.

Usually the first thing I do is walk around, greet the usual suspects, shake some hands, kiss some babies, well, what us comic celebrities do when we meet every two years. But since I only would be in Erlangen for two days ( and I had to leave at 15.00 hours on the second day to catch my train home ) I didn´t have as much time to take it all in. Instead I went looking for the one table where I wish I had spent more time the last time around. There is always this ONE table were you just rush through and you tell yourself you will come by a second time but then the convention is over and you never got around to it. There was a table where they sold trades and comic hardcovers for 10 EUROS each and last time I only picked three or four of them.

In the meantime I´m buying much more comics as hardcovers so the table was twice as important now. After 20 or 30 minutes of wandering around without any clue ( which I pretty much continued to do for the rest of my stay at the convention ) I found the table, and like expected there were dozens of people going through the piles of trades and hardcovers.

I was just going through the fourth box when I had the idea to ask one of the staff if the hardcovers in the bookshelf above the table was also at 10 EUROS each. Which is a good bargain price even compared to most of the amazon offers. I think I spent at least an hour there in which I must have gone through all the boxes twice until I had a pile of around 23 trades and hardcovers.

Now since the offer was Buy 11 trades / hardcovers for 100 EUROS ( You get one for free ) and I didn´t want to spend 200 EUROS on the first table I had to thin it down a bit. One of my rules has always been to never spend everything at the first table you get to and although I had singled out this table in particular to spend my first money I didn´t want to have to drag around 22 heavy hardcovers for the rest of the convention. So I made one pile with the comics I didn´t already have, a second pile with all the comics I already have in single form and a third pile with the few hardcovers I just couldn´t leave because at 10 EUROS it´s a price you can´t beat.

Now which hardcovers did I pick ( and they were all hardcovers ) ? First THUNDERBOLTS - SIEGE and THUNDERBOLTS - FEAR ITSELF. Thunderbolts is one of the books where I made the switch from single issues to trades - or rather hardcovers in this case - but where I´m way behind. They are not in sequence but I´ll have to get them sooner or later anyway so this was a no brainer. As were AVENGERS ACADEMY - PERMANENT RECORD and AVENGERS ACADEMY - WILL WE USE THIS IN THE REAL WORLD ? which are volume one and two of the series. Ever since it started I heard nothing but good things about the book but somehow I missed my window of opportunity at amazon. I almost ordered the first four hardcovers from amazon last month but now Í was glad I didn´t.

Another series I always intended to follow was GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY which I left when Paul Pelletier went to another series ( I think WAR OF KINGS at that time ).

I had looked into some scattered issues the following months but the art was really not that interesting. Still I wanted to find out how things went from the last issue I read from Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning so I picked up volumes 2, 3 and 4.

Okay, so far all new books and we´re at seven books already. Now I picked two books from the You deserve to be shot in the head if you don´t buy these pile namely AVENGERS ASSEMBLE volumes 4 and 5. For 10 EUROS each. Since I already have volume 3 I just had to pick these two so that when I get around to re - read them I can do all three in one sweep. Now the art in them is a bit all over the place and I think volume 5 is the weakest in that departement. It has only three issues by Alan Davis, some by Ivan Reis and Kieron Dwyer and one by Brent Anderson. Okay, volume 4 doesn´t have more issues by Alan Davis but most of the rest is done by Jerry Ordway and Steve Epting with one issue by John Romita Jr and Norm Breyfogle thrown in. Still, it´s one big story and now I only have to find the first two volumes which won´t be easy. They have just been reprinted in softcover but if I really buy comics I already have I don´t want it in softcover.

Now I was at nine books which meant that if I could pick another one there was a free one in it too. So the next one I decided on was also from the pile of books I already had, namely the seven part ETERNALS miniseries by Neil Gaiman and John Romita Jr. So far I only had the single issues but I have already re - read them three times. My brother bought the german trade - bummer - but I wanted to get the hardcover because I´m not sure if the comic was really done for single issues or if it was just broken up into seven parts. Like MARVEL did with the MAN WITHOUT FEAR series by Frank Miller and John Romita Jr. First it was announced as a graphic novel but then Marvel had some doubts and released it in single issue form to be on the safe side. The bad thing was that the collected edition came out only three months after issue five. So all the readers felt kind of cheated.

Now I´m not saying that the same thing happened with ETERNALS but you can´t help but notice that there are none of the usual last page splashes or cliffhangers in this story. So I hope this reads much better ( or a little better since Neil Gaiman´s writing can´t really improve being of the usual exceptional high standard ) and the variant covers that are included look much better than the regular covers. I never understood why they slapped such fugly covers on the regular issues when they had all those gorgeous covers by John Romita Jr.

Okay, mission accomplished - pile narrowed down to ten hardcovers. So for number eleven I picked the new hardcover printing of AVENGERS - THE KORVAC SAGA which would have been my next pocketbook from amazon anyway. These last few months I have found a few pocketbooks by PANINI UK at amazon and I have to say I really like them. I don´t know what the reasons are why PANINI doesn´t do any pocketbooks in Germany ( maybe the german market is still reeling from the horrible Condor pocketbooks ) but it´s a real shame. I already have four X - MEN pocketbooks - two from the regular series and two from John Byrne´s X - MEN THE HIDDEN YEARS - and the last one was AVENGERS - THE BRIDE OF ULTRON. It contains the issues 158 to 167 and it´s all written by Jim Shooter with incredible art by John Byrne, George Perez, Sal Buscema and George Tuska.

You know, after he quit Marvel Jim Shooter has gotten kind of a bad rep by some people and I almost forgot that he not only wrote one of my favorite megasagas at Marvel, SECRET WARS which was the first one period, but also some of my favorite issues of AVENGERS. Now the next pocketbook that is announced on the last page of The Bride of Ultron is THE KORVAC SAGA ( which features the first appearance of the Guardians of the Galaxy ) so instead of getting the pocketbook for six or seven bucks I picked up the hardcover - for free.

This is my fourth hardcover of these classic story reprints after PROJECT PEGASUS, ASSAULT ON OLYMPUS and THE OVERTHROW OF DOOM and I have to say I really like the full package. There are always all covers included and some factsheets from the OHATMU or somewhere else. The only thing I sometimes miss - but that might just be me because I´m spoiled by the spanish BIBLIOTECA MARVEL editions - is a foreword or an introduction explaining what´s so special about the story I´m about to read. For those who haven´t read this classic tale I don´t want to spoil too much ( you better skip the next paragraphs ) but this is the one where the Avengers blow it. I didn´t get to do a special post on Valentine´s Day but if I ever did one this would be one of the stories I would pick. Because it basically is a love story even if it has the usual fighting and space aliens and end - of - the - world - stuff and capes and tights.

This is the story of Michael Korvac who fell in love with a woman, how he became a god to lay the universe at her feet and how the Avengers killed them for it.

Short and sweet. Okay, I had picked the comics I wanted to buy and even got a nice comicbag to put them all in. Not that I really needed it but when you buy eleven books you should get a bag. And it´s a really nice, sturdy bag. So, this was my first purchase in Erlangen, which was around 290 dollars of hardcovers for 100 EUROS, not a bad deal. Right about now was the moment when I was glad I picked the big trolley since surely all the hardcovers wouldn´t have fit on the bottom of the smaller one. That´s not something you want to do : put hardcovers on top of another. At least not more than you have to.

Okay, that´s enough for Today as I´m starting to make more and more typos and you´re probably as exhausted from reading all this as I am from writing it. And we have only gotten to my first two hours or so.

Whew ! I will continue my account of my visit to the Comicsalon Erlangen 2012 in my next post where we will hopefully get to the other comics I bought on the first day, what else I did at the convention and what happened after the doors closed. For me it´s time to do some cooking and watch the episodes of ONE PIECE I missed while in Erlangen.

Since I wrote so much about the Guardians of the Galaxy and the Korvac Saga here´s a clip form the animated tv series AVENGERS - EARTH´S MIGHTIEST HEROES. The art is a bit blocky but most cartoonshows imitate the style of BATMAN ADVANTURES without really trying to understand why it was so successful. Anyway, despite of the art the cartoon show is quite good, with lots of action and really funny. Just like the old Avengers book used to be. What´s especially good is the interaction between the team members and it seems only the Wasp and Hawkeye seem to get along with the Hulk.

As usual this episode is mixing classic elements ( in this case the Korvac saga ) with the newest developments which is the reason that they didn´t use the team of the Guardians of the Galaxy from that story but the newest version with Adam Warlock, Star Lord, Groot and - best of all - Rocket Racoon. I mean it´s worth to watch the episode just for the racoon. Now since the second season hasn´t started in Germany there are some download links for the full episode for my german readers here , here , here and here .

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

Okay, well, you go figure the " gig " out and I´ll be over here figuring out what exactly I´ve been put on this Earth to do, how I ended up in a magical Kung Fu city where no one teaches anyone Kung Fu, and what I´m supposed to do when the cosmic powers of a big firebird dump themselves right on my head.....

Friday, June 01, 2012

I should be preparing for Erlangen

No, I really should. At this time I should have already booked the hotel, I should have sorted out which comics to get for the signing, checked out which artists are the most important to get sketches from and already have a plan for which panels and exhibitions I´m going to attend.

But this year I have a job and the most important day at work is Saturday so I have to work on Saturday. Which means that I can´t stay the full 4 days which so far has always been a given.

No matter what, aside from the first Comicsalon Erlangen where I was unaware of it´s existence, I have been there every time and always for the full 4 days. Because otherwise the long trip there just isn´t worth it. Up until now I went every two years without fail regardless if I had a job, no job, had to do my military service, had to drive there myself etc. Well, it seems the streak ends this year.

What makes things worse is that even if I wanted to go for the first two days and then take the train home all by my lonesome I can´t. Because I´m so far over budget that I couldn´t even pay the lottery tickets this week. I´ll have to wait until Monday to see if I have enough money to pay some debts and my latest order from amazon. And that would leave me at the ultimate limit of my budget right now.

There is of course the possibility that I could make the trip to Erlangen with my brother and then - if I can´t find a Hotel room - tough it out until Friday without sleep. I could take a loan from the war chest and wait with paying my debts until next month. But I´m still reluctant to do that because I´m trying to be in the black figures someday.

On the other hand, Erlangen is only every two years and I don´t have anything better to do since I don´t work on Thursdays and Fridays anyway. And like I always say : the best things in Erlangen are free. There are not many places where you can meet all the comic people and I really need more sketches. So right now I´m kind of undecided but the prospects of me going to Erlangen don´t look good.

And if I really should be able to go it´s going to be one of my usual chaotic trips anyway.


If you can´t go to any conventions this year, what just might be my fate this time around, at least you can read LOVE AND CAPES creator Thom Zahler´s writeup of his experiences at Houston’s Comicpalooza! festival ( exclamation mark required ), Kristin Bomba´s con report from the Dallas Comic Con and Dore Ripley report from San Jose’s Big Wow ComicFest . And if you like it a bit more exotic Mark Millar has a travel diary about his trip to the Phillipines where he talks about the Filipino comics scene, the massive amount of promotion for the signing and the crowds of fans that showed up. And since we´re already in that corner of the world here´s an article from the LOS ANGELES TIMES in which Joyce Man profiles the Hong Kong comics industry , which after a decade of falling revenues is experiencing a resurgence largely due to the Internet.

If you DO go to conventions you might want to read Tom Spurgeon´s 170 tips for going to the San Diego ComicCon as you might find some interesting tips there.


One graphic novel I absolutely have to check out if I really manage to go to Erlangen is Nicolas Mahler´s Angelman of which the english version has just been published by Fantagraphics . I don´t know if I already mentioned it on this blog but I first became a fan of Nicolas Mahler through his brilliant FLASCHKO series which are all strips about a guy in a heating blanket and his mother.

Mother : What are you watching, Flaschko ?

Flaschko : Beats me. Is it art ? Or pornography ?

Mother : How long have you been watching this ?

Flaschko : Half an hour.

Mother : Then it´s pornography.

Now it may surprise some people that a guy who looks primarily for the art is a fan of Flaschko and Nicolas Mahler but he´s just a brilliant comic artist. It´s not easy to condense human life into the tiny microcosmos of a small town or the street in which you live. Mahler goes even one step further because he manages to capture the essence of what makes us human not in a house, not in a room in that house but just in one corner of a room. The small corner where Flaschko sits in his heating blanket, watching tv and having verbal exchanges with his mother who is just so typical laconic and on the point. Who answers Flaschko´s existential cry of pain " Mother, why have you borne me ? " with a simple " You were getting too heavy in the long run. "

Besides Flaschko ( which has already three volumes out I think ) Mahler has done a lot of other books like TNT and LONE RACER, both about sportsmen who are underdogs. The first one is about a boxer, the second one about a racecar driver who both try to have a comeback but I have to say I like the second one better because in LONE RACER the lead character ( no pun intended ) really pulls it off.

His newest comic is ANGELMAN but like all of his heroes ( or antiheroes if you want ) Angelman is not your typical superhero although he has to deal with the typical supoerhero stuff. Which in the case of Mahler ( who enjoys the scene around superheroes more than the actual superheroes himself ) means that the typical superhero stuff is changing powers, being retconned, undegoing changes because of copyright issues and living through more and more absurd stories - mirroring the progression of superhero comics through the ages - and ultimately falling prey to some of the same boondoggles that have plagued the writers and artists who created some of the most memorable heroes of our age.


Now before commenting on any other superhero news I just wanted to mention that it seems that Alan Davis has now Red Bull flowing through his veins. Otherwise I don´t know where he takes the energy from to not only do a kickass storyline on the new CAPTAIN AMERICA book and covers on any other comic - that hasn´t a cover by Walter Simonson or Art Adams - but also draw a Clan Destine story that goes through this years annuals of DAREDEVIL, FANTASTIC FOUR and WOLVERINE. Oh, and he also will be doing a story that goes through the Thor books. Now I don´t know if he has given up on sleeping or if he has done these some time ago and they are all coming out in bulk now. Any way, I´m not complaining because I love me some Alan Davis.


Now I´m a bit behind on my DC news since I consciously try to stay away from it ( it´s just too depressing ) but I wanted to post this interview with Judd Winick on CATWOMAN and BATWING because Batwing is going to cross over with NIGHTWING and JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL, two of the few DC series I´m still reading. Although Justice League International is slated to end with issue 12 . Damn you, DC, you got me again.

Okay, you ask why is the DC news so depressing ? Because they are just desperate at this point. Otherwise I can´t explain why they came up with the big news that Earth 2´s Alan Scott is gay just after Marvel announced Northstar´s big fat gay wedding ( which should be the title for the issue ) in ASTONISHING X - MEN 51 ( preview ) . Already there are negative reactions to DC´s new gay reveal like conservative Christian campaign One Million Moms dropping off Facebook .

Since we´re already on the subject Joshua Yehl has an article on The State of Gay Characters in Comics you might want to read so you know which comics to check out ..... or stay away from depending if you´re for such things or against it. Of course Erik Larsen´s Mace character is missing from the list but so are a few others since the focus seems to be on the ones who have been in the news. And Brett White asks What's So Special About Marvel's Gay ( Mutant ) Wedding ? analyzing what Marvel's latest plot development says about modern comics and American culture.

Back to DC´s NEW 52 newsarama have published a few interesting ONE YEAR LATER posts ( it is one year later than when the NEW 52 was initially announced ) about 10 suggestions for the future of the NEW 52 , 10 lingering questions about the NEW 52 , 10 characters who should thank the NEW 52 as well as the best of the NEW 52 and the worst of the NEW 52 . Although I have to say I don´t think it´s a bad thing that DC is having so many fill - in issues by tried and true artists. Okay, some readers wanted the NEW 52 to be all - new all around. But I have always said that publishers should give more books to comic artists who put solid storytelling over flashy art and who can deliver a book on time.

Because you don´t want to have the case that the issues that should give your regular artist a break end up destroying your shipping dates. And really, when DC announced it´s new lineup I was a bit surprised that they didn´t get the best creators on the books and opted for a lot of new artists. Not to dis them but this is the new " we either are going to make history or BECOME history " lineup so it´s make or break time. I also was a bit surprised how many writers did three or four books. Talk about stacking the deck against oneself instead of bringing the whole a - game to one book. And make it the best you can make it.

Now, talking about a book that failed to be the best DC can make ( or maybe that´s really the best JLA book DC can come up with now ) : I have finally gotten around to read the JUSTCE LEAGUE ORIGIN hardcover by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee ( one of the reasons why I don´t have much money right now ) and to use a word from YOUNG JUSTICE´s Robin, I was quite underwhelmed by the story. For a story that is supposed to not only re - introduce the newest incarnation of the Justice League but also the new DC universe not a lot of information was given to the reader.

Like others have pointed out before me, it read very much like an early issue of the Avengers and a lot of time and space was wasted with flashy action and splashpages that could have been used for characterization. And some of the splashpages even dropped the ball like the doublepage spread with Superman going up against Darkseid. Which should have been one of the F - WORD YEAH ! moments of the story. All in all a bit disappointing and the inclusion of Cyborg ( or better the shoehorning ) was totally unnecessary. Cyborg has always been the heart and soul of the Teen Titans and his part could have been handled better by Justice League members like Red Tornado or Mister Miracle who would have made much more sense in a story involving Apokolips.

And still more negative DC stuff : One of the big things is still the uproar over DCs BEFORE WATCHMEN and like I wrote before, I´m reserving judgement of the project until I can actually take a look at the issues. To cover this all Noah Berlatzky from Slate does a pretty good analysis of the situation and the controversy while Robin McConnell talks about his reasons for being against it .


Since we´re on the topic of creator rights and last post was about one of Jack Kirby´s greatest comic epics THE FOURTH WORLD SAGA here´s an article by Zak Sally who feels that Marvel should give credit to Jack Kirby for the large part he had in creating the Avengers , and the best way to do this would be to fully fund a Jack Kirby museum. And Matt Brady at WARREN PEACE SINGS THE BLUES has an article about Topps comic series BOMBAST and SATAN´S SIX ( of which I own a few issues ) featuring characters created by Jack Kirby, part of an unsuccessful attempt to launch a Kirbyverse of their own .

Mtv Geek has and interview with Adam Warren about his upcoming 7th volume of EMPOWERED and he reveals that a number of Empowered one - shots are in the works, written by him and illustrated by various guest artists. There is also an interview by Deb Aoki on with Adam Warren about his strong women characters, his upcoming books, and his epiphany upon discovering anime and manga.

EMPOWERED back cover by kiwine a.k.a. TRANTKAT a.k.a. Kevin Hérault

Being a creator owned series there are long waits for each new installment of EMPOWERED, a topic Graeme McMillan touches in his new column on The Middle Ground about his attitude in regards to late creator owned comics versus regular superhero books . I´m not so sure if I make that big distinction between superhero books and creator owned in my attitude towards lateness or switching artist in the middle of a story.

Unless I´m totally uninterested in the art - in most cases because I don´t really like the regular artist or because I buy the comic because of the story - I like the guy who starts a story to also finish it. Lately I´m tending more to buying collected editions ( and mostly hardcovers at that ) and it´s really jarring when you read one big story and you have a different artist in every issue. Of course this can be a big plus if you get a collection like X - MEN SCHISM and have such great artists like Carlos Pacheco, Frank Cho, Alan Davis, Daniel Acuna and Adam Kubert. Too bad they had to add X - MEN REGENESIS by Billy Tan which brings the whole thing down a few notches.

Okay, with superhero books I kind of accept the fact that there will be fill - in artists from time to time. Heck, when I started reading american comic books I only got scattered issues which weren´t necessarily in chronological order so there were bound to be different artists on them. And even when I finally got them from a special store there were bound to be fill in artists from time to time. Some of the fill in artists I didn´t like at first, like Rick Leonardi who kept popping up in my UNCANNY X - MEN and DAREDEVIL issues and late became one of my favorite artists. I mean I was really sad when there was an issue by Kelley Jones of SPIDER - MAN 2099. And I really like Kelley Jones. But SPIDER - MAN 2099 was Rick Leonardi´s book and anything else just didn´t look right.

So I had a lot of fill in issues or better shelf issues when I started collecting comic books. For the younger readers : shelf issues were finished stories out of continuity that publishers used to print in case of an emergency, mostly an issue not coming out on time. Which doesn´t necessarily say anything about the quality of the comic. Contrariwise, one of my favorite DAREDEVIL stories, one of the best I ever read is a fill in story : DAREDEVIL 245, written by Ann Nocetti ( who later became the regular writer ), penciled by Chuck Patton and inked by Tony DeZuniga ( who did a lot of fill in comics back in the 80s and who sadly passed away on the 11th of May ).

The story has the Black Panther as a guest star and it´s about Wheeler, a guy down on his luck who is addicted to gambling and who owes money to every bookie in Hell´s Kitchen. Once a member of Wakanda´s Armored Forces he crosses paths with both superheroes when he tries to rob a bank to buy some food so his wife will stop locking herself up in her room. Both superheroes manage to foil his attempt ( he still has the battle armor from his glory days ) but they fight against each other - what do you expect in a superhero comic - over what should be done with Wheeler.

The Black Panther wants him to leave his family ( Wheeler´s wife is a cousin of T´Challa ) and never see his wife or son again. But Murdock believes there´s still hope for Wheeler.

And while the story starts off really sad it has a promising ending. Wheeler has a new job, he´s out of debt, he has sworn off gambling for good and there is food in the kitchen. The last panels shows his shadowed figure standing in the doorframe with a broken arm and it´s a really emotional ending ( read a longer review of the issue here ) .

So having a fill in story might not be that bad.

As for creator owned comics they get a lot more leeway from me because basically I´m not reading it for the character - or at least not only for the character - but for the creator. USAGI YOJIMBO is one such book on my pull list and I really don´t care when it comes out. Every new issue is wonderful and brilliant and while it might be interesting to see others interpretation of the longeared samurai rabbitt I buy it for Stan Sakai´s unique magic. The same goes for Erik Larsen´s SAVAGE DRAGON or whatever Terry Moore is doing after he finished STRANGERS IN PARADISE.

These comics don´t come out every month and if there´s a bit of a wait between them I don´t care. There is still a big pile of comics I haven´t read and in the meantime - and this goes for the superhero comics too - there are a lot of other series I haven´t had the chance to read. Like the NEW LOVE AND ROCKETS comics, Jeff Smith´s RASL or such brilliant graphic novels like ASTERIOS POLYP or Darwyn Cooke´s HUNTER series. You see, there is plenty of stuff to read whenever an issue is delayed. Of course I´m not always this relaxed and laid back because sometimes I´m going crazy when a particular comic I can´t wait to read is late. After all I´m only human.


Now this is always the part of comic news I want to write about least of all, namely when another of the great comic creators dies. And even more so when it happens only one week apart as not only the aforementioned Tony DeZuniga has gone away forever at the age of 79 but also Ernie Chan has left us at the age of 71 . Oddly enough both artists were from the Phillipines.

The newest editions of THE LINE IS DRAWN have a Tribute to Tony DeZuniga with Jonah Hex crossovers and a Tribute to Ernie Chan and this one is all about mash ups with the comic character he was best known for - Conan the Barbarian.

Another great artist who passed away is HERMAN creator Jim Unger who died at 75 . You probaly have read one of his brilliant cartoons somewhere.


More bad news : Freelance artist Oliver Nome, who has worked for Wildstorm and Aspen but has no health insurance, is suffering from a brain tumor, and his dealer is selling off his art to help pay for the surgery. Here´s the link if you want to help him out.

An interesting article from John Jackson Miller looks at the shape of the comics market in 1995, before Diamond Comic Distributors had a virtual monopoly on distribution. This might be especially interesting for younger comic readers since it´s their chance to get an impression how things used to be done in the comic industry.

Last but not least, this is also the last chance to vote for the Eisner Awards as the deadline is next Monday.


One of the things that pisses me off lately are the previews. Well, not the fact that there are previews or the selection but what really gets me riled up is like, for example when I get a preview like the preview for AVENGERS vs X - MEN 5 which says 10 page preview. But it´s not. Now the normal comic reader gets all giddy when he reads 10 page preview but you see, pages 1 up to 5 of that preview are the variant covers ( can´t have enough of those variant covers ), page 6 and 7 are the recap doublepage spread and only the last three pages are the actual preview pages.

So if it´s a 3 page preview then call it a 3 page preview. Or if you must a 3 page preview with variant covers and recap. But it´s not a 10 page preview with only 3 actual storypages.

And what´s up with all that variant cover crap at Marvel anyway ? Okay, so they haven´t flushed their superhero universe down the toilet like their Distinguished Competition. But do we really need that much variant covers ? Now don´t get me wrong. I´m not against the occasional variant cover by really good artists like Walter Simonson, Frank Cho, Paul Pelletier or Art Adams to celebrate special issues like anniversary issues and the likes.

But what´s so special about a variant cover when I get 25 or 30 of them EVERY FREAKING MONTH ( and we´re just talking about Marvel here and not counting all the variants by other companies ). You have variant covers on them second or third printings which in the worst case means somebody just slapped a panel from the issue on the cover, then you have the regular variant covers and then you have on top of this all the DEADPOOL MONTH or VAMPIRE MONTH covers. Which makes no sense. I really don´t want a cover with Spider - Man, the Human Torch and the Vulture on WINTER SOLDIER 6 ( preview ) - unless they actually appear in the issue. And maybe not even then. So cut it out Marvel, will ya ?

This week´s most interesting Marvel previews preview AVENGERS ACADEMY 31 ( I really have to start reading this series ) , DEFENDERS 7 , HULK 53 with art by Dale Eaglesham, WOLVERINE 307 with art by Paul Pelletier and WOLVERINE & THE X - MEN 11 with art by Nick Bradshaw. Here is also a link for the rest of this week´s Marvel previews and for more previews Marvel, DC and other publishers .


Before we come to our last bit of Marvel news I have to mention that The Guardians of the Galaxy - but more importantly Rocket Racoon - have a spectacular return in AVENGERS ASSEMBLE 6 . I always was a big fan of that little sharpshooting rascal and I was really disappointed when Paul Pelletier left the Guardians of the Galaxy book. Props for the gun toting space raccon.

Which is that Marvel has released its second CASTLE original graphic novel STORM SEASON based on the books that are mentioned in the series. The main character is called Derek Storm and these were the books Richard Castle was writing in the tv series of the same title before he found his new muse Kate Beckett. There also are some Nikki Heat books out ( three so far ) but with my always overtaxed budget I haven´t been able to get any of these so I don´t know if they can live up to the high expectations of bestseller fans around the world. Especially the hot scene between Nikki Heat and the character who´s based on Richard Castle that was mentioned in the tv series.

Coming fron fictional writers who make the transition from tv to novels to comics here´s a real writer who did it the other way around. Neil Gaiman started with comics and later did novels which were adapted to the big screen and the little screen rather successfully. You know, there are people who you are envious of and then there are others who are just so brilliant at everything they do that words really elude you. Now words never elude Neil Gaiman and as proof that he´s equally brilliant at giving speeches here´s his commencement speech at the University of the Arts Class of 2012. A must watch for any artist and everyone who hopes to be creative and successful.

Also pretty successful is the first season of THE WALKING DEAD tv series, which has finally aired in Germany. Comic series artist Charlie Adlard talks about the upcoming 100th issue of the title which should be just in time to keep the german audience interested. I had the pleasure of meeting Charlie Adlard in one of my first times when I got sketches for myself in Erlangen and he´s a really nice guy. If you are in line for a drawing ask for something out of the ordinary as it can get quite boring to always draw the same stuff. Even zombies can loose their charm after the umpteenth time.

When he was at Erlangen he had just come of the X - FILES comic so I asked him for a Mulder / Elvis combo ( inside joke for those who have watched the show ) and he did a brilliant piece with Scully at the battery.

Staying on the subject of comics and tv adaptions Image Comics Publisher Eric Stephenson looks at the latest order numbers for the four Robert Kirkman - produced titles ( THE WALKING DEAD, THIEF OF THIEVES, SUPER DINOSAUR and INVINCIBLE ) noting that the two without AMC television series in their pedigree are selling fewer copies :

" There are way worse problems to have, obviously, and I’m not complaining, but it is a little disconcerting that the dividing line between The Walking Dead and Thief of Thieves and Invincible and Super Dinosaur is the attention the former two titles have received from Hollywood. Is that a good thing for those books? Absolutely. But it’s a bad thing for comics as a whole, when we sit back and let mainstream popularity guide how we as industry order and sell comics and how we as a community buy and collect comics. In essence, we wait for someone outside comics to tell us something is worthwhile before accepting it ourselves. And that’s just plain backwards . "

With ROCKETEER ADVENTURES, Rodger Langridge´s SNARKED ( preview issue 8 ) , JOHN BRYRNE´S NEXT MEN ( preview NEXT MEN AFTERMATH 43 ) and the brilliant LOVE AND CAPES series IDW is quickly becoming a big part of my pull list. And since it looks that I will be adding more of their titles like Roger Langridge´s POPEYE, the DOCTOR WHO / STAR TREK - NEXT GENERATION crossover ( preview issue 1 ) or John Byrne´s upcoming TRIO series here´s an interview with IDW Chief Creative Officer and Editor - in - Chief Chris Ryall about the state of the publisher, the progress of its major series and upcoming projects like a new THE CROW series by James O Barr, and IDW's place in the current discussion of creator - owned comics and creator rights. It´s also a good thing that Rger Lagridge´s series POPEYE and SNARKED ! seem to do so well since he just recently decided not to work for DC or Marvel anymore because of concerns about the way they treat creators.


First up a few funny and cool things I found on the internet :

For all fans of 50s EC COMICS ( and who isn´t ? ) Michael Dooley talks to SQUA TRONT editor John Benson about the fanzine that concerns itself with exactly that.

Brian Cronin counts down the 10 weirdest superhero gadgets of all times and I have to say Hawkman´s absorbascon sure would have come handy in those geography tests.

I´m not sure how many students are reading this blog although I do get a lot of comments how my posts has helped them in their college assignments. Apart from the fact that I can´t figure out for the life of me with which kind of assignment my totally confuse posts could help in any way, shape or form there is the possibility that it does. So with this potential readership in mind our first write - in list comes from Elena Verlee, namely the 10 key political issues college students need to care about .Now don´t say I´m not keeping you informed.

The second one is from Roxanne McAnn and although not really comic related this list of 9 unlikely entrepreneurs who changed the market might give an idea to some comic creators out there.

A little bit late ( sorry, I just couldn´t get around to do one of these news posts ) is this list from returning participant Jennifer Lynch and it´s the absolutely not serious list of 10 fools actually born in April . And with this we have once again reached the end of Today´s post.

In my last post I had the Jack Kirby documantary at the end of the post and I already posted the Bob Kane Story this is COMIC BOOK SUPERHEROES UNMASKED.

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

Dream a dream of pretty prey, and blood red as rage.