And speaking about bringing people some Christmas cheer, the Big Christmas Contest I announced in my last post - where I gave away free comic books - is now finally over. Which is not a moment too soon.
EVERYBODY´S WAITING FOR THE MAN WITH THE BAG
I know that it´s more blessed to give than to receive but let me tell you, it´s a heck more work too. Now I´m not saying that it wasn´t a lot of fun to do the contest. All the participants were really good sports and understanding ( which is why I threw in a few unexpected extras in the end ) but I´m glad it´s finally over and I don´t have to do another one until the end of next year. If I decide to do one next year. I´m not sure if that would be as big as this one since a lot of comics from earlier years have piled up this time. In any case it would be much easier - or at least financially less taxing - if I could find a sponsor. And speaking about sponsors I want to give a big shout out to the guys and gals from ANDIS COMIC EXPRESS who managed to ship my last order to arrive at just the right time so that I could add a few extra books like the ( almost ) 100 page thick WORLD OF ARCHIE DIGEST which I didn´t want to include at first since the cover was damaged from rain. But seeing how high the demand was for FREE COMIC BOOK DAY issues I decided to throw it in.
That´s another thing that really surprised me. The issues from FREE COMIC BOOK DAY were much more in demand than the comics from GRATIS COMIC TAG - past AND present. I guess that indicates that there are still a lot of german comic fans out there who can´t get their hands on FREE COMIC BOOK DAY comics as easy as myself. Which is something I will have to keep in mind for future contests. I will need more FREE COMIC BOOK DAY comics and I will DEFINITELY need more AXE COP.
But as I said, that´s something to ponder for another year, right now I´m just glad it´s finally over. Initially I had planned to do a special letter to all the participants with a mindblowing drawing by liddle old moi where I would be very eloquent and generous and witty and whatnot. In the end I decided that as nice as that would be it would really just serve to inflate my ego and the people who had entered the contest would much more prefer to get their comics before Christmas instead. So I spent most of last Friday bagging comics, going through my stuff for old envelopes that I could use, getting all the packages ready and bringing them to the post office in town. I was even lucky enough to finish all that at the right time because they went out the same day. And thanks to the hard working people at the post office ( and I know what I´m talking about since I used to work there myself ) some of the packages arrived the very next day.
Up to this day I have heard from all people who entered the contest but one and all the comics arrived undamaged and everybody seems to be pleased with what they got. I almost got rid of all of them ( there were some comics from GRATIS COMIC TAG where I had multiple copies that weren´t as sought after as I thought ) and most people got all the comics they were interested in so all things considered I would label it a success.
So I want to say thanks to all the people who participated in the contest, I hope you do enjoy the comics and have a wonderful Christmas. And to all the people who didn´t participate or wanted to and haven´t gotten around to do it I have to say : Sorry, folks, it´s done. There are no comics left. Better luck next year - or whenever I decide to give away comics from my own collection for free. How do I know I´m NOT crazy, again ?
BUT THAT WAS LAST FRIDAY - WHAT HAPPENED AFTER THAT ?
You are of course absolutely right. And I really tried on various occasions to do a new post after my last one but there always was something else to do - like getting some last minute Christmas presents for instance.
Longtime readers of my blog ( all three of them ) might remember that I usually do most of my Christmas shopping at the Stuttgarter Comicbörse that takes place just before the holidays but this year there was none ( for those of you who have been wondering why there have been no posts about this years Stuttgarter Comicbörse ). Which is the reason why getting Christmas presents this year was much more difficult for me. For those who want to know what happened : this year the place where the Stuttgarter Comicbörse always takes place was renovated and apparently the people who usually organize the whole shinding were unable to find another venue for the comic fair - or they just didn´t care and didn´t want to go through all the trouble of filling out papers and work and stuff.
Be that as it may, deprived of my usual source of printed Christmas joy, I had to look for other ways to find some gifts. I had already ordered some from amazon like books or shirts, which put a big dent in my budget.
Because normally I just order comics or the occasional DVDs when amazon has one of their " 2 tv series for 20 € " sales. And in most cases you get your ordered items in one package and if it´s books only shipping´s free.
Well, the thing with the t - shirts was that I was looking for some very specific shirts and of course they were at three different shops. Which of course means that you have to pay for shipping three times, they arrive at three different dates and you don´t get a bill which you can pay when it´s convenient for you. Instead they draw the money from your account forehand so that´s the last time I ordered more than one t - shirt from amazon at the same time. Initially I wanted to buy five ( one more for myself and one as a present ) but getting three was expensive enough.
So since I couldn´t find what I wanted at amazon I did what I always do when I need some comics fast and have run out of options : I went to my regular comic shop in Esslingen. In my last post I mentioned that I don´t go there as often as I did in the past or as often as I liked. But whenever I really need some obscure comic, some back issue I erroneously sold or a hardcover that´s long out of print I can always rely on my trustee comic shop. I always say that if you can´t find it there it probably doesn´t exist. I remember how I bought the hardcover of the second volume of Kurt Busiek´s and George Perez´ AVENGERS ASSEMBLE run from a dealer at amazon for 10 or 15 bucks above cover price all pleased with myself to have found this out - of - print gem. Only to find it for the regular price at my regular comic shop two weeks later. In pristine condition to boot.
By the way : please do get the hardcovers from this run. I know that they are a bit more expensive than the trades but they´re worth every cent.
But back to my Christmas shopping. There weren´t many new comics in my subscription box because lately my pull list gets shorter and shorter.
What was even more alarming was that I didn´t find any books outside of my pull list that I could add to my pile of comics to buy. Which was a good thing this time because - as you may remember - I was mainly there to buy some comics for other people. Not myself. Nevertheless it wasn´t a good sign because in all my past visits I found at least a dozen comics to add to my buy pile. But this time there was really nothing from DC or Marvel that was anywhere near interesting. Even worse I was put off getting the issues of Joe Madureiras for SAVAGE WOLVERINE after seeing how the inker and colorist totally butchered his artwork. If you think the final product Marvel delivered when he was drawing his first ULTIMATE work was bad - that stuff was like a painting by Rembrandt compared to what they did to his new stuff. I was ready to take a chance on Joe Madureira´s art again after I saw some of his pencils online but they really flushed this one down the toilet. As they do with most books.
Anyway, you can get every book that´s out there at my regular comic shop - if you can find it. Now that they packed all the trades and hardcovers into boxes because they can´t fit it into the shelves otherwise it´s impossible to just browse for a trade. You have to know in advance what you want or you are going to spend a lot of time there. Not that I mind spending a lot of time at a comic shop. Are you kidding ? I live for that. Especially if it´s a comic shop as big as the SAMMLERECKE in Esslingen where you can get lost for days in the long corridors and passageways that are filled with huge stacks of comics. And this time I had to go down into the catacombs to look for some Avengers comics from issue 300 onwards.
It´s not the most fondly remembered period in Avengers history but after listening to the CGS spotlight episodes on the Avengers in the Chromium Age ( part 1 / part 2 ) ad nauseum I was craving to re - read some of the comics from that period I still had, especially the Gatherers storyline.
COME GATHER ROUND AVENGERS WHEREEVER YOU ROAM
Well, while I was re - reading the whole storyline ( or at least the parts I kept ) I noticed that there where some huge gaps between the issues. Thanks to the good folks at GRAND COMICS DATABASE I checked all the covers and Bob is my uncle if I didn´t have all those issues without any missing. Avengers was one of the books I had on my pull list and I bought all the issues when they came out. I know that some time back - which might be more than a decade ago now that I think about it - I sold some of them but for the life of me I couldn´t remember anything that had happened in those pages. Which should have been the first warning sign.
If you have read a series for a long time and you can´t remember what happened over a period of - roughly - 50 issues ? Not a good sign. You can bet repulsors against arrows that it wasn´t too memorable. But, always the optimist, I wanted to make sure if the period was as bad as people made it out to be. So I made a list of all the issues that might have been of interest and I checked all the issues out between issue 300 and 375, which is the finale of the Gatherers Saga. And while some of the issues I sold weren´t all that bad most of them were either not that important to keep in a collection or outright bad. Yes, I´m not ashamed to say I had totally forgotten how unoriginal, boring and awful some of the stuff was.
Add to that the constant change of artists, no clear direction of story, a lot of forgettable and mediocre crossovers like ACTS OF VENGEANCE ( which really has been made into an omnibus by Marvel, talk about totally losing contact with your customer´s demands ), Rage doing a bad and at least ten years outdated impression of Mr T, Spider - Man hanging with the Avengers and then deciding that their adventures were too cosmic and high and mighty for him ( which didn´t really make any sense since he was in all the cosmic confrontations anyway like in the Avengers classic tussle with Thanos where Spidey released the spirit of Adam Warlock from his imprisonment thus basically defeating Thanos ), and of course the leather jackets and you are starting to get an idea why this period has such a bad rep among those of us who have lived the times.
Of course not all of it was bad and if you have listened to the Comic Geek Speak spotlight episodes you know where to look for the nuggets. For me one such big chunk of nugget is as soon as the Gatherer story begins because I´m a sucker for parallel universe stories ever since I read FLASH issue 123, Flash of two worlds ! by Gardner Fox and Carmine Infantino. The story introduced the whole concept of parallel earths to the DC universe and to the comic book world. Everything that happened in the DC universe ever since ( and probably in every other comic company that took the idea of other worlds and ran with it ) has its roots in this one comics. So it´s no wonder it´s so often imitated and copied. Even tv shows like STAR TREK, HEROES, EUREKA, DOCTOR WHO and especially FRINGE owe a great deal to that first comic where two Flashes from different universes were depicted on the same cover for the first time.
I´M STUCK IN PARALLEL WORLDS IT´S SUPERNATURAL
Yes, I love parallel universe stories in any shape or form and the only way to top that is with a parallel universe story in which everybody dies !
Which basically was what the Gatherers was all about. One big " parallel universe in which everybody dies " story, in fact the mother of them all since all the parallel universes get blown up which is where the Gatherers are gathered from. How can you resist such a concept ? Especially when it has some extra stuff thrown into it that seems to come from the writers smoking a lot of illegal substances like the Gatherers using a braindead watcher as their GPS to help them pinpoint possible candidates. Once Steve Epting becomes the regular penciler the show is really up and running and the fecal matter really hits the mechanical environment cooling device, so to speak. There is just one little complaint I have.
Not enough parallel universes dying stuff in it. Okay, you might say how can you do more ? But the thing is that we really don´t see all that many parallel universes which in my opinion was a huge mistake. Don´t tell me how the particular universes of the various members of the Gatherers have died - show me. Don´t tell me what a psychopatic, raping son of a b - word their Vision is. Show me. And don´t tell me that it´s an alternate version of our Vision. Let me think that it´s our Vision and THEN - when I think he has gone off the deep end - make me realize it´s somebody else.
I think that would have really taken the whole story to another level. Anyway, there was some really crazy s - word going on in these days and there always were four or five things going on at once with all kinds of soap opera pining between the Black Knight, Sersi, Cristal and Pietro.
Which for me is the part where Schadenfreude becomes a big part of my enjoyment of the issues. Someone once said " Leave it to the Germans to come up with a word for being delighted at other peoples misery. "
Now this has either to do with Schadenfreude being a big part of german society, or just the fact that the germans have a word for everything. The psychological pain caused by sadness that can occur when you realize that your own weaknesses are caused by the inappropriateness and cruelty of the world and circumstances. The germans have a word for that too, my friend. Weltschmerz. Much shorter, don´t you think ? The germans really have a word for everything. That thing you do with your teeth when you get home from work to read that hardcover that was laying on your comic pile for months only to stubb your toe when you are just about to read it because the hot babe next door was skipping rope topless and you walk backwards into a pie ? I bet the germans have a word for that too.
So why the Schadenfreude you might ask. Because I think Cristal only gets what she deserves since she was the one who broke up with Johnny Storm to be with Quicksilver. If you have read issues 131 and 132 of FANTASTIC FOUR you know that this is one of the worst break ups in comic history.
You know, that would be a great idea for a future Valentine´s Day post : Top Ten worst comic book break ups. Back to my Schadenfreude that the marriage between Cristal and Quicksilver was a real trainwreck during every moment of it, Johnny Storm is the most sympathetic character in this. He really shows grace under fire when he wishes Cristal all the best.
Not that he takes it very good when he finds out she cheated on him.
Which is understandable when you put yourself in his place. At that time Johnny and Cristal were separated because Cristal had to stay at the hidden city since they weren´t immune to the bacteria outside of it.
Every time he wants to get Reed to find the city there´s a crisis which is naturally much more important and when he finally finds the hidden city and flies there to live together with Cristal he finds out she has ditched him for the least likeable Avenger. And then her bogus explanation " Oh, he was injured and while I was nursing him back to help we just fell in love. It was an accident. I just wanted to help him recuperate, I swear. "
SHE ACTS JUST LIKE A NURSE WITH THE OTHER GUY
Okay, am I the only one who missed the part that Cristal has some secret healing powers that nobody knew about ? Don´t they have special healers for that in the fabled city of Attilan ? Where did she get the idea she would be better qualified than any of the guys with special powers ? WTF ? I mean, come on, Cristal. Why WERE you there in the first place ?
Okay, to make it short before I totally go on an off topic rant about this ( although it´s already much too late for that ) : Cristal and Johnny were lovers, oh lordy, how they could love, swore to be true to each other, just as true as the stars above. He was her man, but she done him wrong.
Which brings us back to the Gatherers and the Avengers. And the fact that in the whole love triangle ( which is much more a square than a triangle now that I think about it ) between the Black Knight, Sersi, Cristal and Pietro those last two I mentioned get no sympathy from me.
Now there are still a few things left for me to say about the whole Gatherers period, but I´m afraid I have to leave all that - as well as the rest of my recounting of my visit to the comic shop - for my next post.
Leave it to me to start with the Christmas spirit, continue this with one of the worst periods of Avengers history ( although what followed was even worse, but, hey, even this was put into the big THE CROSSING omnibus so Marvel really is getting desperate ) and end up with the worst break up in comics history ever. Only on TALES FROM THE KRYPTONIAN.
Anyway, I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas even if it didn´t snow here in Germany. Nevertheless, we still have pretend snow like in this festive picture of british Big Brother participant Sophie ( I´m always ) Reade that I´m posting in answer to a special readers request. Now if that doesn´t help to cheer up your yule log I really don´t know. Boooing !
Apropos Boing ! , a girl that made a huge BOOOOING ! in the pants of all male movie goers from the 80s is cult movie sexbomb extreordinaire Joyce Hyser who celebrated her 56th anniversary just four days ago and to whom I wanted to give a belated shoutout. And before you ask : you don´t know Joyce Hyser, you don´t remember the movie JUST ONE OF THE GUYS for which she is best known but I bet you remember this scene where she shows her incredibly big ..... talents. That´s Christmas Spirit !
Back in the 80s your best bet to see some naked breasts were screwball comedies because you knew even if the script was totally worthless and the actors without any kind of talent you were going to get boobage. Joyce Hyser may not be famous and may not have played in the best movies but every prebubescent boy growing up in the 80s saw this movie.
And to think she almost didn´t do it. Joyce had a no nudity clause in her contract and was against showing her wonder twins especially after a female friend told her : " Honey, WITH THOSE BREASTS if you GO TOPLESS in that scene, NO ONE you meet will EVER look you INTO YOUR EYES again ." Thankfully she shot the scene showing her breasts and without showing them and in the end decided that the scene didn´t work if she didn´t go topless. This is what I call " poetry in motion ".
So the thanks of an entire generation of hormone driven boys is yours for logic winning over superstition. Or naked breasts winning over whatever.
Now before I can finally put the bow on this one there is still the matter of the video at the end of the post. In my last post I included the first part of the three hour long PBS special about superheroes. Sadly the second part has been deleted from YouTube so I hope you watched it already.
I already mentioned their ten part documentary series about American Cinema so I won´t post that and I´ll safe the video about the columbian comic for another post when it´s more appropriate. Now for something a bit more related with Christmas I thought about posting IT´S A WONDERFUL LIFE, one of the indispensable Christmas movies which I haven´t seen so far in my tv guide. But instead I´m posting one of my favorite Christmas movies : ERNEST SAVES CHRISTMAS with the great, late Jim Varney playing the part of Ernest P Worrell, the role of his life.
New to the blog ? Everything you need to know about TALES FROM THE KRYPTONIAN : top ten posts / more posts of interest
What will be my husband's trade?
Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor, rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief.