Pretty Sketchy: Hail to the Junior, baby.

A little while back, I won a free commission from Mike Schwartz, creator of the finished-for-now web strip Oceanverse, for ordering issue #5 of the Oceanverse comic from DCBS. Mike's a hell of a nice guy, a great artist, and Oceanverse is a lot of fun, so I was happy to order, anyway, but winning free art was icing on the cake. Anyway, having recently finished up the first (and, to date, only) Shazam Family Archives volume from DC, I had Captain Marvel, Jr. on the brain. Know how much influence Elvis Presley took from Junior, I figured it was time that influence got paid back, so I asked Mike for Junior in the style of an Elvis album cover. Well, clearly Mike delivered, mashing up the iconic titling of Elvis's debut record (even doing a good job matching the font!) and the karate-style posing of later Elvis. Yeah, I'm pretty pleased with this, and it is already hanging in a place of honor in my nerd cave.

You may remember that I have two other pieces from Mike - B'wana Beast and an Aquaman that still gets me a surprising amount blog traffic nearly 3 years after first posting it. So I'm not surprised this piece was good, but still, it blew me outta the water with awesomeness. So thank you, Mike, thankyewverymuch.

Going back to the comic shop.

So after 6 years, I am no longer a regular Discount Comic Book Service customer. However, I cannot stress enough that this is not a reflection on my experiences with DCBS. They're excellent people over there in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and they offer both amazing customer service and some of the best discounts around. If you're going to buy comic books online, do so through them. You'll be glad you did.

No, I'm walking away from them so that I can walk back to being a regular local comic shop customer.

See, I first went the online route back when my son was born. I knew I wouldn't have the time to stop by on a regular basis in those early, diaper and spit-up filled days and I didn't want to miss anything. Sure, it was weird to lose a vital part of my Wednesday routine, but the convenience of having everything show up on my doorstep once a month helped me get over that pretty quickly. Plus, comics were starting to go up in price, and the DCBS discounts were amazing; so much so that even with shipping costs, I was still saving quite a bit of money.

Plus, it helped that my LCS at the time kind of sucked, and was routinely forgetting to pull books I had ordered. What's the point of a pull list if they won't pull the stuff you've listed, right? And, as it turned out, they went out of business a few months later, anyway.

But a few years ago, we moved into our current house, and there ended up being a great shop just a few miles up the street, The Time Capsule in Cranston, RI. It's a well-organized shop, a pretty wide-selection of monthly books, lots of trades and toys and records and video games and things, and a nice selection of back issues (always 50% off the marked price). I'd stop in once a month or so to check things out, or shop at one of their sales, or just pick up something I'd missed. Then it got to be every few weeks. Then every other week. Then every week. They got to know my name, they'd give me the subscriber discount even though I wasn't yet a pull list customer, and it was just a friendly place to stop and shoot the breeze about comics. Turns out, I really missed that last one a lot more than I thought.

Meanwhile, my tastes have been changing, and I'm not buying as many new comics as I used to, so even though that DCBS discount is still sweet, when I factored in shipping I was still paying as much per month for comics as I would if I were buying them right off the stands. Sometimes even a little more. The choice was pretty clear.

So am I saving as much money as I used to? No, probably not. But it's nice to have a "home" comic shop again. As insular as comic bookery can be, it's good to be reminded that there is a social aspect of it, provided you actually have a decent local comic shop to foster it. For the first time in a long time, I do.

Most people don't realize internet cat videos were invented in Maine in 1980 to promote a bank at Christmas.

The tree is up, the lights are strung up outside, the sound of Christmas music is starting to feel like it's actually appropriate to listen to now, and the kiddo got to start in on his Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar this morning, so my favorite time of year is officially underway. But I still feel like something's missing.

Ah. That's better. This ad was created for Bangor Savings Bank in 1980 and ran on Maine TV stations for years and years, and as a result is as much a part of Christmas tradition in my mind as Charlie Brown's scraggly tree, Max the dog's one tree branch antler, and wondering what the Misfit Toy doll's deal really was (I say she cuts).

This is a vital piece of my childhood, and I'm glad someone had the smarts to upload it to YouTube so I can revisit it whenever I like. It's depressing to think these cats are probably long dead now, but I try not to focus on that, and invite you to do the same.

I am thankful for the Marvel/Hasbro commercials for G.I. Joe comics.

(Pop culture has brought me a lot of joy. Seeing as this is the month we talk about how grateful we are even as we greedily stuff our faces, I figured it couldn't hurt if I let the culture what is popular know how I feel about it.)

I was already reading comics by the time these first started airing, so I can't claim to be one of the scores of kids led into comic bookery by these ads, but they captured my imagination all the same. Were they just additional ads for the toyline, sneaking around FCC guidelines for animation in toy commercials by instead featuring the tie-in issues that just so happened to feature the latest figures and vehicles? Sure. But still, they're exciting, well-made, and biggest of all, they were TV commercials for comic books. That's pretty rare even today.

Friday Favorites: I am thankful for this sequence from All Star Superman #10

(Pop culture has brought me a lot of joy. Seeing as this is the month we talk about how grateful we are even as we greedily stuff our faces, I figured it couldn't hurt if I let the culture what is popular know how I feel about it.)

Click to Supersize, 'natch.

This page from All Star Superman #10 by Grant Morrison, Frank Quitely, Jamie Grant, and Travis Lanham is easily my favorite Superman sequence ever. It's pretty quiet, whether you're judging by the rest of the series or all of Superman ever, but it's very powerful.

Also, when you think of Superman, you probably think of him catching someone (usually Lois) as they fall off a building. It's a clever take on that particular Supertrope to see him actually prevent that happening for once, and given the sort of writer Morrison is, you have to figure that's intentional.

I am thankful for Craig Ferguson's musical cold opens.

(Pop culture has brought me a lot of joy. Seeing as this is the month we talk about how grateful we are even as we greedily stuff our faces, I figured it couldn't hurt if I let the culture what is popular know how I feel about it.)

Want to buy some X-Men trade paperbacks cheap? I can help.

I have the first 5 trades of Matt Fraction's Uncanny X-Men run - Manifest Destiny, Lovelorn, Sisterhood, Utopia, and Nation X - as well as the first X-Men Forever trade available for sale on eBay. Auctions end Tuesday night, so get on it!

Pretty Sketchy: You must be this tall to stomp the park.

Vacationing Godzilla here was drawn for me by Al Sparrow, a guy I know from the Comic Geek Speak forums who also writes a web strip called Thugs. He said his only regret was that he didn't think of having Godzilla step on Legoland instead. Well, I'm pretty happy with the theme park choice you made, Al. Thanks!

Readin' - finishing off the new 52 (or what I read of it, anyway)

Caught up on the rest of DC's New 52 (well, on the rest of the 13 or so books I had actually decided to read, anyway), so here's some super short reactions on those (no sense belaboring the point, seeing as the rest of the comics readin' internet's already digested and passed these by now). Maybe some spoilers, so watch out.

Aquaman #1 - I worry that Geoff Johns is actually overselling his attempt to deal with the usual "Aquaman is lame" criticisms head on. Thankfully he shows Aquaman proving why he's actually an awesome superhero, but by having everyone still outright berate him after he's saved lives might undo all the work put into the awesome parts. But still, it's a new Aquaman book, I like how the man himself is written, and surprisingly for Johns, no one has gotten eviscerated on panel yet, so I'm giving this at least a couple issues.

All Star Western #1 - Or, really, Jonah Hex 2.0, because if you liked Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti's previous Hex series, you'll dig this, too, since only really the setting is different (and neat as it is, I hope Jonah's visit to Gotham is a short one). But still, the story is off to a good start, and Moritat's artwork is amazing, so I look forward to reading more, but I'll probably catch up with it in the trade paperback, which is how I've been reading the Gray/Palmiotti Jonah Hex series anyway.

Wonder Woman #1 - Wonder Woman and all the usual Greek god stuff with a horror twist? I'm intrigued. And enough of a Cliff Chiang fanboy to want to read more if only for his artwork, though Azzarello's story is off to an interesting start. But another I'll probably trade wait on.

Frankenstein, Agent of SHADE #1 - I was really looking forward to this, especially after the Frankenstein Flashpoint mini, which was the only bit of Flashpoint I bothered with at all, and that was pretty good. This, though, was a little bit of a letdown. Not sure why, but it just didn't click with me. Even for a book with such a weird high concept, it still felt like there were a bit too many mad ideas thrown around. Maybe it'll come together better when collected. But hey, Jeff Lemire has me as a regular for Animal Man, so it's not like I'm not a fan of the guy.

Stormwatch #1 - Another high concept book that just didn't come together for me the way I hoped it would. This, though, wasn't due to the mad idea content so much as that it just felt choppy. But again, maybe it'll come together better in trade, and I have enough faith in Paul Cornell to give it a second shot then.

Blue Beetle #1 - It feels way too soon to already be rebooting the Jaime Reyes Blue Beetle from square one, especially since this new version seems to lack all of the fun, easy humor, and charm of the Keith Giffen/John Rogers-written series. Pass.

Mr. Terrific #1 - I think Mr. Terrific is a great character with a lot of potential, and I was really looking forward to this book, but it just crashed and burned with me. Choppy plot, art that looked rushed, and a story that just didn't connect with me at all. Of the new DC books I read, this was probably the biggest disappointment, especially since I anticipated it so much.

Looking back on all the new 52 #1 issues I read, here's how I'd rank them:

1. Demon Knights (added to pull list)
2. Animal Man (added to pull list)
3. Batman (added to pull list)
4. All Star Western (enjoyed this a lot, but will follow in trade the way I read the previous Hex series)
5. Aquaman (giving it a few more issues to see if it'll be a regular read, trade read, or what)
6. Action Comics
7. Wonder Woman
8. Catwoman
10. Frankenstein
11. Stormwatch
12. Justice League
13. Batgirl
14. Blue Beetle
15. Mr. Terrific

"Good artists copy, great artists steal." R.I.P. Steve Jobs

56 is just too damn young.

I was never a big cult follower of his, but he was the sort of guy where I could see EXACTLY why he had such a cult following. A lot of the innovations for the Mac, like the graphical user interface and the use of a mouse, were actually pioneered by the guys at Xerox PARC, but Xerox never wanted to do anything with them for fear of diverting resources away from their copier business (oops). Jobs was smart enough to see that they were onto something, and brazen enough to use it. A lot of people will call him a visionary. I think that's a fair assessment.

And Pixar. Pixar started as a division of ILM, but George Lucas sold it off because he didn't want animation diverting resources away from his special effect business (oops). Thanks to Jobs' drive and his willingness to let some insanely talented filmmakers use the technology to tell their stories (and show off just what that technology could do in the process), movie making was changed forever. Not just animation, mind you, but movie making.

And then, of course, there's the i... well, iEverything. iPods, iPhones, iPads... they've gone from fancy toys to absolute ubiquity in about 10 years. Name another device type that has been adopted so universally, so fast.

So long, Steve. Thanks for it all. I get the distinct impression you were a damn hard man to work for, but I can't argue with the results. And also, thanks for responding to my group member's email when we did a project on Pixar for that multimedia class I took back in college. Your response was the very model of conciseness, but you answered our questions and gave our presentation a hint of that allure that only a brush with celebrity can provide. We appreciated that.

Seven. Even though this card features Eleven.

I've been typing away on this blog thing 7 years today. Huh. If you've been along for any moment of the ride, I appreciate your time. Updates will continue to chug along in fits and starts, but after all, isn't that how it all started?

I should go and find me some cake and cartoons today. Cake and cartoons are the traditional gift for 7th blogaversaries (and just about everything else), right?

Okay, really, what ABOUT the children? - DC Comics and Young Readers

Lots of talk all over the inter-ma-nets since the New 52 started about the books' appropriateness (or, often, lack thereof) for children, and people have very strong opinions on the issue. The detractors worry that kids may be exposed to content that they're not ready for, and they say that for an initiative aimed at courting "new" comics readers, none of it seems particularly suited for anyone below high school age. Those that are enjoying the new books think that they're fine, and that DC books (and most major publisher comics, in fact) haven't been aimed at kids in 20-30 years, that kids are more interested in TV and video games, that DC already has their Johnny DC line, and they think that when most people say "comics should be more kid-friendly" they really mean that "comics should be like the comics these people read as kids."

I'm oversimplifying this, I know, but stay with me here.

So regardless of your stance on the issue, what do YOU think should be done? How should DC court the younger reader - through the main books, through a separate line - or should they court them at all?

As for myself, I'm torn on the issue. I think there should always be books for the younger readers. Get the books out there and get the kids hooked... not just on DC or even comics in general, but on reading! Anything that gets kids reading is always a good thing, and if it instills an early appreciation for the comics form, all the better. But even though I haven't appreciated the increased sex and violence (and sexual violence) in a lot of DC books over the past decade (that's not what I want from a DC book), I think I'm okay with the "regular" books being written for an older audience. And that's because of the direct market. If comics were sold everywhere like they were when I was a kid, I'd want them to be more All Ages, because there's more chance of younger eyes seeing them. But in a direct market comic shop, well, you don't get a lot of kids in there anymore. Even the really, really good ones don't have more than a small kids' section. If you want comics in a direct market world, you're actively seeking them out, which means you're likely a little older and have $3-4 a pop to drop on books.

So is the answer a separate kids' line? I think so, but I don’t know that Johnny DC is the answer, at least not the way it currently exists. The reality of Johnny DC is that if a book doesn’t have a cartoon supporting it, it doesn’t last. Some really great books that haven’t been tie-ins have been published as part of this line – Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam!; Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade; The Family Dynamic – but none of them made it very long. Billy Batson lasted over 2 years, but a lot of that time was due to production delays. Supergirl was a mini-series that has never been followed up on, despite how well it was received. And Family Dynamic was supposed to be a 6 issue series, but got canceled after 3! Meanwhile, Cartoon Network Action Pack, Scooby Doo, and Looney Tunes continue to have great runs since they have the support of TV shows. Teen Titans Go! and Justice League Unlimited had healthy runs, too, but faded soon after their shows did. This is the final season of Batman: the Brave and the Bold, so you have to figure that book’s not long for this world, either. It’s the reality: with Johnny DC, success = TV, and while the books may be good, I fear that it stifles creativity, both in terms of new properties (like Family Dynamic) and newer, younger-skewing takes on existing properties (Supergirl, Billy Batson).

(Yes, I realize Tiny Titans is an exception to this rule, but one book is hardly a proper refutation.)

I think Marvel does it right with their Marvel Adventures line and associated mini-series that aren’t labeled Marvel Adventures and yet we know they count. First and foremost, the books aren’t “kids’ books” by any stretch. Marvel Adventures Spider-Man is a long, long way from the Spidey Super Stories sort of thing that I bet most comics fans think it is. What you get with that book, whether in its original incarnation or its current run, is fairly traditional, straightforward superheroing, only without the on-panel ultra-violence. The current series even has its own established continuity and (brilliant) supporting cast, so it reads like it actually “counts,” for those that like that sort of thing. Spider-Man, the awkwardly named Super Heroes, those mini-series like Spider-Man and the Secret Wars, Dr. Doom and the Masters of Evil, or that more recent Captain America one, they’re all true Marvel Comics in both look and feel. Nothing “kiddie” about them, they’re just truly All Ages.

Another thing Marvel Adventures books have going for them? You can find them EVERYWHERE, and in a variety of formats: traditional comic books for the direct market shops, magazine sizes for places like newsstands and places like Target, paperback digests for the bookstores and, most importantly, school book fairs. Marvel is not only making the content, but they’re actually making it available in places where the intended audience – multiple audiences, in fact – are going to actually see it. Certain Johnny DC titles get traded, sure, but I never see them around much, at comic stores, regular book stores, or anywhere else. And remember, I have a 6 year old at home who likes cartoons and superheroes, so I spend a lot of time looking at and buying kids’ books featuring those characters. I can find a DC Super Friends Young Readers prose book just about anywhere, but finding comics for my son featuring those same characters (or some version thereof) is a whole lot harder.

I think availability is the real key here. Get the books out to where the people are, and you might actually be able to make something like Dean Trippe's proposed Lois Lane, Girl Reporter more than just a dream book for comics bloggers. There’s a young audience out there ready, willing, and able to read about these characters, but it seems like DC has never made more than a token gesture at courting it. The other parts of the Time-Warner media empire have no problem making a Batman available for every conceivable demographic and entertainment format, and yet the comics people seem to fear brand dilution would occur if they tried it. That has never made a lick of sense to me.

Readin' Supplemental: Catwoman #1

Okay, all the talk here and elsewhere led me to actually pick up Catwoman #1 at my LCS today. And actually, I didn't think it was too bad. I don't believe Selina wasn't written terribly "out of character, per se,at least not based on what I've read in the past (admission: I've read very little solo Catwoman), just more like the thrill-seeking sneak thief of older versions than the "Robin Hood with a fantastic bottom" we've had for the past decade or so. She's the bad girl, she's pretty irresponsible, she's not above using anything at her disposal to get what she wants, and you'd do well not to cross her. I can see why this didn't appeal to the people it didn't appeal to, but as for me, I may actually give this a second issue. Emphasis on "may."

That Sex Scene... it was garbage, put in there (and in the way that it was) just for puerile shock value, and if I don't pick up issue two, it's because an otherwise decent story was sidelined in the last few pages by scene that just screams "Shit is EXTREME, yo!!! They shud call thiz LOLCatwoman becuz Batman's all like 'I CAN HAZ FURBURGER?' HA HA HAHAAAAA ROXXXXORRZZZ!!!1!!1 Hey where's my Ed Hardy shirt, bro?"

Yeah, I can see why that pissed so many people off. Doing "sexy" in comics is difficult no matter the genre, and with superhero comics its even tougher still. It works in something like Empowered, where it's done with fun and a surprising amount of heart. Here, though, not only is it really out of place, but at best it's forced, and at worst it's... well, pretty much what we got. Le sigh.

And, also, if I can be all That Guy for a moment, that's pretty flimsy body armor Bruce is wearing if Selina can pull it up his chest like it's a sweatshirt. And his abs have abs! Given that I liked the art in the rest of the issue, I was asking why reality and anatomy suddenly went out the window in the final page. Beside the point with content of the scene and all, I know, but still, it bothered me.


Haven't done one of these in a while. I've been reading comics where and when I can, but with grad school, it's hard to keep up on everything, and most of the rest of the inter-ma-webs have already long since discussed and digested these (particularly the DC New 52 books), so these will mostly be just brief reactions rather than reviews. Maybe a little SPOILERY, too, so you've been warned.

Daredevil #s 2 -4 - Loved the first issue, as I said, and it continues to stay excellent. Mark Waid, Paolo Rivera, and Marcos Martin are just killing on this one. The fights with both Captain America and Klaw were both cleverly written and amazingly depicted, and really, they're both the perfect opponents for DD on two different levels, so I'm surprised he hasn't tangled with either of them more often. I also enjoy the new status quo for Matt Murdock's legal career, and I'm looking forward to seeing where that goes. Top of the pile material whenever it comes out, and I never thought I'd say that about a Daredevil book.

Moriarty #s 1-4 - No shortage of Sherlock Holmes-related comics in the past few years, but this is the best of the bunch by a long shot. It's an interesting take on Professor Moriarty - broken and beaten, but determined to get his empire back, even if it takes a little anti-heroing along the way (though only because it serves his purposes). Writer Daniel Corey, like many non-canon Holmes writers, gets out as many of the toys and characters as he can fit into the story, but they're used well and not just there for set dressing. There's a twist at the end of #4 that I kind of expected, but it's delivered in a way that I was not expecting and it floored me as a result. Read this, people. Read the hell out of it.

Action Comics #1 - Better than I was expecting, yes, but still not the sort of thing I feel the need to follow every month. Especially not at $3.99. Superman-as-working class hero does seem interesting, and there are some hints at the new status quo that I'm curious to see unfold, but I can wait for the trade on it.

Animal Man #1 - This I'll be buying regularly. Jeff Lemire's story hit all the right beats for me, blending Buddy Baker's home life, superheroics, and downright creepy creepy creepiness at the end. And the Believer interview that opened the book was a clever exposition trick. Travel Foreman's artwork took a little getting used to at first, but once the creepy creepy creepiness set in, I realized he was the perfect artist for the job.

Demon Knights #1 - Even though I loves me some Paul Cornell comic bookery, I was wary of this because I hate the Demon. But he, as well as the rest of the cast, are used brilliantly, and I'm anxiously awaiting the next issue. I was wrong to doubt Paul Cornell. The Magnificent Seven in a D&D setting featuring characters from the DC Universe? Of course I shouldn't have doubted him!

Batman #1 - Simply put, everything I look for in a Batman book. Some detective work, some creative face kicking, gadgetry, Gordon and Bullock, Batman actually using his Bruce Wayne public mask to do some good... yes, definitely. More, please.

Batman Incorporated #8 - Wow. Not a good note to end the book on, guys. Ugly, confusing, utterly skippable in every way (sort of like that all-text Joker issue of the regular Batman book that Morrison wrote a few years back). Reminded me entirely too much of Batman: Digital Justice, and not in that nostalgic "oh, remember when that looked mind-blowingly ahead of its time?" kind of way, more like how you look back at it now and wince.

DCnU Math: Amanda Waller



Seriously, DC, why'd the hell you do that to Amanda Waller? That's not the Wall. She's barely even a shelf now! And it's not even like she looks like Pam Grier (who played Amanda on Smallville) or Angela Bassett (who showed up as her in Green Lantern). That actually looks more like Aisha Tyler. And while Aisha Tyler is hilarious, a great performer and, by all accounts, a cool person, she's not the Wall.

As usual, DC Women Kicking ass goes into much more detail, and wonderfully at that.

Friday Favorites: The Elongated Man (and Sue, of course)

Ralph Dibny, a.k.a. the Elongated Man, and his wife Sue Dearborn Dibny. Adventurers. Globe trotters. Bon vivants. Detectives. Essentially, The Thin Man's Nick and Nora Charles except one of them is a stretchy superhero and they don't have a dog. And fun as hell.

If you read superhero comics, you know DC spent the last few years being very, very unkind to the Dibnys. Bad, bad things happened to Sue, all in the name of giving other heroes something to react to, and then she died (well, actually, she died first, with the bad, bad things being revealed via after-the-fact retcon, but whatever). Ralph moped around a while, got some measure of justice for her death, then died, too. We got a quick hint of a post-mortem silver lining for them as ghost detectives (or, really, detective ghosts), then nothing. Probably because after all the grimness they had been through, trying to rework them as "The Thin Man by way of Topper" was too much, and too late.

However, as they're quick to remind everyone, DC's running a whole new (or at least really, really revised) ballgame right now. Some of the old continuity remains, a lot of it seemingly doesn't. Seems to me that some of the more unpleasant bits could easily be swept under the rug, don't you think?

Come on, DC, give us back Ralph and Sue. Alive, well, and fun as ever. You're all about diversity of titles, and I think a light-hearted, globehopping superhero detective book is something that has been sorely lacking for a good long time.

Pretty Sketchy: Doctors Who

My Tony Fleecs 1-a-day sketch cards came in! I requested "any two incarnations of Doctor Who you like," so I got this cool diptych of the Matt Smith and Tom Baker Doctors, which is cool because I had yet to get solo sketches of either. What's really cool about this for an over-the-top Whovian like me, though it comes across better in the actual art than in this scan, is that the respective Doctors' TARDISes are differing shades of blue, just as their actual TARDIS props were/are on the show (Baker's being much a much lighter shade than Smith's).

Thanks, Tony! Also appreciated were the Anakin Skywalker and Ahsoka Tano card I commissioned for my son, which will be the subject of a future Pretty Sketchy post.

Justice League #1: meet the new boss, who so far is not noticeably different from the old boss.

This will probably sound funny, but it didn't matter to me whether I loved or hated Justice League #1. I just wanted to have a strong reaction one way or the other. As it happens, this first issue was pretty good, which was sort of my problem with it.

This re-boot/launch/start/whatever is kind of a big deal, as major company superhero comic bookery goes, and it should really start off like an explosion, energizing reader minds into thought and action, whether positive or negative. Geoff Johns and Jim Lee, however, put out a decent comic book, which I suppose is something of a big deal considering I've never been the biggest fan of either man's work. The story of how this particular version of the band gets together kicks off well-enough, has a few fun character moments, leaves us to ponder a few questions, and starts off the whole storyline with enough happening that you get a good amount of story going on without it feeling like it's just padding for the inevitable collection.

But still, there's not a whole lot of "wow" here, or at least not enough. For a kick off of this alleged magnitude, merely decent isn't really enough.

I'm curious to see where things go from here (though I'll probably wait for the collected volume to hit my local library), and I'm looking forward to some of the remaining 51 first issues we've got headed down the pike to us this month (like Frankenstein, Aquaman, and Mr. Terrific, to name but 3). But even though I liked Justice League #1 alright, the new 52 didn't kick off with a bang, nor even a whimper, more of a "that happened."

(I still hate Superman's battle armor costume, though. God, that's fugly.)

Another Awesome Thing Canada Gave the World: The Man They Call Reveen!

Okay, according to Wikipedia, it was Australia that really gave the world hypnotist Peter Reveen, a.k.a. Reveen the Impossibilist, a.k.a. The Man They Call Reveen, but Canada is where he's most famous, so I say it counts.

Anyway, one of the joys of growing up near Atlantic Canada was getting some of their TV commercials in the daytime, since some of our channels broadcast up there (and we used to get CBC, too, which is why I still hope to one day have hair just like Nick from The Beachcombers). And right around the mid-to-late 80s, one of the stations ran a lot of ads for Reveen's touring stage show as it hit the Maritime provinces, and something about them really seemed to captivate my entire middle school.

Maine was never a hotbed of hypnotism fandom, so I figure it has to be the song, which is awesome.

Hell, he was still using that song as of 2008!

And come on, wouldn't you?

They, whomever it is They are, call him Reveen. I suppose They could be Everyone, seeing as Reveen is, in fact, the man's given surname, but whatever. He has an excellent song, he makes money making people humiliate themselves, and he makes Canadians of a certain age very excited. That's livin', friends.

And I totally want to be known as The Impossibilist from now on.

You better stand back... there's a HURRICANE comin' through!

And, sadly, it is not professional wrestler Gregory Helms, but in fact an actual hurricane. Rhode Island doesn't get a lot of these, so a lot of people are freaking out, thanks in no small part to the news media, who are pretty much promising everything up to (and by now, maybe even including) zombies. Ever since they got huge ratings showing Katrina coverage, every storm is the next Katrina. Sigh...

All media-drive promises of an apocalypse I doubt very highly will actually come aside, if you've already dealt with Irene, I hope you made it through okay, and if you're in the path like we are, stay safe.

Man, we had tickets to go see Juliana Hatfield tonight and everything. I'ma take a page out of Helms' book and shining wizard the hell out of this actual hurricane.


That this is a thing, it perplexes me. And yet, the very… THISness of it all, makes it strangely compelling.

Not $29.99 plus shipping and handling compelling, mind you. More like $3 at a yard sale compelling. Which I’ve always thought is the best kind of compelling.

(cross posted from my Tumblr, Better Living Through Junk Culture)

The Protector: not Robin, but the 5th next best thing

The November solicits for DC are up in all the usual places (here, for instance), and what to my wondering eyes should appear but this solicitation for Tiny Titans #46:
Art and cover by ART BALTAZAR
On sale NOVEMBER 30 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED E
What happens when Robin is called away on a secret mission with Batman? The team will need a replacement! Enter: The Protector! Will he be welcomed with open arms? Or will someone like, say, Talon, have something to say about it? And where does Nightwing fit into all this?
Well, this made me weirdly happy. If you don't know, the Protector was a character who appeared in three special issues of The New Teen Titans co-produced by DC, the Presidential Drugs Are Bad M'kay Council (or, you know, whatever it is that was actually called), and various corporate sponsors. One of those sponsors was Keebler. One of Keebler's competitors, Nabisco, had the licensing rights for Robin, so he had to be replaced by our boy the Protector here (so sayeth Marv Wolfman and George Perez).

Anyway, I remember these comics being a pretty big deal at the time (they even managed a write-up in The Mini Page, the newspaper insert kids' supplement of record in the early 80s), and they were EVERYWHERE. I even remember we read this one:

out loud as a class in second grade as part of our nascent, pre-D.A.R.E. anti-drug educational time. And even when you're only 7 or 8, reading comics for class credit is awesome. It didn't hurt that it was actually a pretty decent story as these things go. I remember everyone in class was floored by the revelation that Speedy had once been an addict, even if none of us knew who the hell he was at that point.

(Funny thing, though... even though we read these in class, they never actually gave us copies. We had to hand them back. Seems like it might have been a better education tool if we had actually gotten to take these home. Might have led a few more kids into reading comics, too. I'm just sayin'.)

But even though I had never read New Teen Titans before this point, I knew from house ads in other DC books that the team was led by Robin, so this new guy, who even then I realized was probably just a redrawn Robin, was a bit of mystery to me. Only a bit, though, since he had no real character of his own... our boy the Protector is pretty bland, and probably intentionally so, since if they couldn't make him Robin, why make him cool? Hell, he's almost shunted aside completely in favor of Speedy in the above issue, as I recall.

But still, as a mostly forgotten (wisely or otherwise) bit of DC lore, a guy whose only other appearance was a Who's Who Update 1987 entry, he's got curiosity value going for him, and I can't wait to see how Art and Franco manage to drag this particular also-ran out of the cold.

Pretty Sketchy: The (Ginger) Ghost in the Darkness

Every holiday season the Comic Geek Speak forums, there's a Secret Santa sketch trade. Participants get another forum member's name, and everyone sends their people some books and their attempts at artistic endeavor. I feel badly for the people who get me as their Santa, because me and the good drawing, we're not so well acquainted (admittedly, I try to make it up to them by sending as much additional swag as I can manage to affordably send). I got this Hellcat a few years back from a fellow forumite I know only as Filthy McMonkey, and I wish I could've scanned it better, because I love the effect of Patsy coming out of the darkness there, which is surprisingly badass for a character best known for exclaiming "cheese and crackers!" in times of stress.

Man without fear, but maybe at long last some hope, or at least a sense of humor.

I've never read much Daredevil. Not out of lack of interest, he's just a character I've never gotten around to reading besides a smattering of the Frank Miller material (Born Again, the Man Without Fear mini-series), Kevin Smith's run, and a few random issues here and there (the Secret Wars 2 tie-in where the Beyonder gives him back his sight, for instance). I've always meant to catch up, especially the rest of Miller's run, and some of the Bendis stuff, but the reviews I've read over time, especially the last few years, just make Daredevil's life (and, subsequently, the book) just seem like the ultimate gauntlet of human misery. I don't need everything to be sunshine and puppy dogs, but I do like at least a little fun in my comics, so I stayed away. Besides, if I wanted to read Daredevil put through his paces, I'd go for the Miller stuff, not the Miller Tribute Bands that followed.

That sounds insulting and unfair to the many creators since Miller's day, who are talented, true, but it's not entirely untrue, either. As with Batman (and Wolverine, even though he just drew that book), a lot of the people who followed Miller didn't seem interested in giving us their version of the character. It never seemed like we'd see Creator X's take on Daredevil (or Batman or Wolvie), but instead Creator X's version of Frank Miller's take on Daredevil. Miller brought Matt Murdock to his lowest point and utterly destroyed his life, and gave us the story his fight back from the edge. And that, of course, is a great story, but it's a story you can only really do once, even in comics. How many lowest points can one man have, even if he's a superhero?

So, long story short - too late - I never could get into Daredevil.

I think Mark Waid is changing that, though. I picked up the first issue based on good word of mouth and a love for a lot of Waid's previous material, and I wasn't disappointed. I think this could be the best thing he's written in a few years. I don't have a lot of previous Daredevil experience to draw back on, obviously, but what he's writing seems true enough to the character to fit in with both his swashbuckling beginnings and the gritty crime drama character he became known as, and take things in a new direction besides. Waid writes Murdock as a man who has survived the worst life can throw at him (which, from what I understand, has involved divorce, imprisonment, having his identity revealed, heading a ninja clan, and demonic possession): "Every time I finally hit bottom," says Murdock, "God would find me a bigger shovel." Now he's trying to rebuild both his life and his law practice, as well as try and convince everyone that he's not really Daredevil (even if he is).

And for once, he's enjoying it all. Which, to me, makes perfect sense. If I made it through all of that and somehow still came out the other side alive and mostly sane, I'd be dancing in the streets. It's not an unusual reaction, I don't think. And it works on both sides of his mask. What better way to prove you're the Man Without Fear than by stealing a kiss from a mob princess while trying to stop a kidnapping at her wedding? It's a great moment, one that occurs early in the issue's first story, and one that won me over immediately.

Lots of great quiet moments here, too, particularly in the issue's back-up story, in which Matt and law partner Foggy Nelson walk the streets of New York City and give us the scoop on Matt's life, his outlook, and his powers. It's exposition without sounding like exposition, and it also gives us a chance to see how Waid interprets Daredevil's powers, and how we can probably expect to see them used. There's a clever bit where Matt tries out the violin for the first time, and the sequence makes such perfect sense that it's a wonder why it took someone nearly 50 years to think of it.

Speaking of Daredevil's powers, artists Paolo Rivera and Marcos Martin are the perfect people to depict them. They both have such strong senses of design, anyway, and their depictions of how this blind man interacts with and, in his way, "sees" the world, are just amazing. Look at Rivera's cover above (or any panel he drew in the main story), or this two-page Martin spread from the back-up:
(image via IGN. Click to big it up.)

It's brilliant design, but it's also functional, and it tells the story in a way the words can't. Brilliant.

I initially resisted Daredevil #1 based on my previous limited experience with the character, but Waid, Rivera, and Martin have won me over. I'm in for a while on this, I think, or at least as long as they want to keep putting out a book this good.

"Ladies and gentlemen, rock and roll."

With those words, MTV launched 12:01 a.m. on August 1, 1981. And love it, hate it, or just don't think about it much at all (and, personally, I've gone across that entire spectrum these past 30 years), you cannot deny that it changed the landscapes of, yes, music and television, forever.

I'll let history determine whether or not that's a good thing.

Anyway, some enterprising interwebber put the entire first hour of MTV programming - commercials, station promos, mis-ordered VJ introductions and all - up on YouTube. Please to enjoy. I know I will.

Toth Wheels

Panel from Hot Wheels #4, Sept.-Oct. 1970, art by Alex Toth

Even though there have been some good toy/cartoon tie-in comics over the years (Micronauts, G.I. Joe, Rom), most people tend to think of them as pretty forgettable, throwaway books. I suspect a lot of publishers and creators think that way, too. But DC's Hot Wheels series features some of the best art of Alex Toth's career, wonderfully shadowy moody masterpieces one and all. So many gorgeous panels in #4, I had to scan something from it. The above was my favorite, though it was a tough decision. The story, "Eye of the Storm," is not likely to be listed among writer Len Wein's greatest works, but every single line drawn by Toth for this story is amazing.

Hot Wheels. Who knew?

Tumbling onto the bandwagon

I decided to give Tumblr a shot and set up Better Living Through Junk Culture. Not to replace this blog, but something to supplement it with random, quickly posted stuff that might not always fit here, or be too short to bother with here, or whatever.

Anyway, it can be found at, which probably way too long for a decent URL, but why let common sense stop me now?

Sweet Cuppin' Cakes (or How to Get Bill's Attention, Retail Edition)

Saw these at an IGA in Canada a few weeks back. For some reason, I was thinking about cupcakes for the rest of the trip and I just can't figure out why!

(Also, I found another piece of evidence to support my theory that Canada is really Alternate Reality America: IGA stores are clean there. The ones I remember growing up in Maine looked like they hadn't seen a mop since 1948, but the couple of them we stopped in for snacks in Canada absolutely sparkled.)

There's new DC superhero Pez and nobody told me?

You're supposed to stay on top of this sort of thing for me, internet. What the hell?

Anyway, I discovered these the other day when I was at Toys R Us with my son. We were standing in the checkout line, and there in the Pez display was Batman. While the apex of my Pez collecting days is behind me, I still try and pick up the nerd-oriented ones when I can, so I grabbed this and was excited to find out on that there are Superman and Green Lantern ones to accompany it.

It was surprising to see Batman, seeing as we just go a new set of Batman dispensers a few years ago, but seeing them go with the bust design like they've been doing with the Disney princesses was a good idea, because it finally opens them up to characters who they've never been able to do before. I mean, I suppose they could've made a Superman at some point in years past, but it would've just looked like Generic Black Haired Man.

They should've done this years ago, and I hope they continue. I'm looking forward to seeing who we get in this format down the line, because although this is a good enough start, it's a little skimpy right now. Of course they'd put out a new Batman, and finally making a Superman is a good idea, too. And since Green Lantern had a movie this summer, he's also a no-brainer. But they couldn't have made a new Wonder Woman, too? She has brand recognition far beyond the comics-reading world, and her old dispenser has been off the market for years. And, of course, Batman can always use a Robin.

Not that I'm complaining mind you. New superhero Pez is always a good thing, and I figured the new Captain America and Thor dispensers were all we'd be getting. This is a big ol' windfall for even semi-retired Pezheads like me.

Comic-Non Highlights (such as they are)

Comic-Non attendance was down 50% today from yesterday (it was just me at home), but considering this thing makes no money, no one really cared.

Today's panels and activities included:
90s Fox X-Men on Netflix - Just as Cheesy as You Remember: But of all the 90s Marvel cartoons, this is still the most watchable by far (tried to watch some of the 90s Spider-Man the other day and just could not get through it at all, and I had "Spider Blood, Spider Blood, Radioactive Spider Blood" stuck in my head on repeat for DAYS).

Batman the Animated Series - Possibly Even Better Than You Remember: Hard to believe this was running on Fox at the same time as X-Men.

Gammera the Invincible - Add an Extra "M" and That Means It's an Entirely Different Movie: Also, apparently public domain. It was on the public domain channel on Roku, anyway. Hell, you can go watch the entire thing on YouTube. But, no matter how you spell it, Gam(m)era is still filled with meat.

Meanwhile, over at that other convention...

Holy crap, DC and Marvel Lego sets. We may actually need to buy two of a lot of these, because I don't know that either the kiddo or myself will want to share.

Oh, and I didn't know I needed a Star Trek / Legion of Super-Heroes crossover, but now I'm actually kinda wondering how I've gotten along this long without one.

Yes, please. I will take this.

Lots of good costume photos from Sandy Eggo Day One over at Rotten Tomatoes, including a sad stormtrooper and a Darkwing Duck that will haunt your nightmares. Lots of characters I don't recognize, though, but I've decided that anything I don't know, it's just some type of Pokemon.

Vaya con libros, Borders.

I had two thoughts about the closing of Borders:

1. Given the number of smaller and/or independent bookstores that fell beneath their mighty, coffee-barred heel, there's probably a certain amount of karmic payback here.

2. Given the amount of time and money I've spent at various locations through the years, I'm going to miss the place a lot, karma be damned.

Growing up in Bangor, Maine, in the 80s and 90s, there really wasn't a whole hell of a lot to do after 9 p.m. If you weren't 21, didn't want to go to dance clubs, didn't want to hang out in random parts of downtown, or didn't know anyone who had a place where you could get up to all manner of illicit activities, you were S.O.L. And I, of course, was under 21 and entirely too nerdy to consider dancing, downtown, or illicit anything. But when Borders opened, it was this amazing, heretofore unheard of thing in the Bangor area: a giant bookstore that also had a cafe and, best of all, somehow managed to stay open later than pretty much any other business in the area.

Basically, if you were young and nerdy in Bangor, the opening of Borders was a little like the kids in Footloose getting to dance for the first time. At long last, there was something to do between the closing of the mall and the acceptably late enough time to get your friend who actually had a car to drive you out to Dysart's (the local truck stop and late night purveyor of pie and curly fries). It wasn't much of a nightlife, but by God, it was something, and something after a lot of nothing is pretty much everything.

Years later, after moving to Rhode Island, I worked at a different Borders for a little while. The pay was terrible, so it was a very hand-t0-mouth existence while I worked there, but it was by and large a fun place to work, mostly thanks to a few fun managers and a boatload of awesome co-workers. Some of those people are still there, and they're still as friendly as ever, so I really hate to see them lose their jobs.

I hope some good comes out of all of this. I hope the people who find themselves out of work land on their feet. And I hope that in the absence of a retail 900 pound gorilla, smaller independent bookstores are able to reclaim some of their original niche when and where they can (and they can, even in the age of Amazon, assuming they have community support). But mostly, I hope whatever comes up to take Borders' place in the landscape is similarly inviting to the nerdy kids with no place else to go.

Time once again for the World's Least Impressive Pop Culture Non-Gathering(tm): Comic-Non International!

Once again all of us here at Trusty Plinko Stick World Headquarters have been left home alone and dateless for Nerd Prom out in Sandy Eggo, so we're left to console ourselves with our own non-con for third year in a row. It won't be nearly as exciting, and given the heat wave gripping most of the country, it'll probably end up being even more sweaty than the real thing, but there won't be as many people, you won't be scrambling to find affordable food, and it'll be way cheaper.

How does it work? However the hell you want it to. Talk about your favorite nerdities with your friends. Buy some comics. Watch some movies. Draw something. Drink some beer. Argue about superheroes. Argue with superheroes. Wear a costume. Don't wear a costume. Hell, don't wear pants. It's your house, it's your rules, it's your game show.

As for what's going on around here, well, it's Preview Night, so it's a little slow. But the kiddo already found a few cosplayers:

The kid on the far-left says he's supposed to be Aqualad, by the way. A good effort, but we recommended next year he wear his shorter blue legs instead. Awesome TARDIS costume on that one guy in back, though. Bet that's hard to walk around in.

DC: everything old is new again, except for the stuff that isn't (I think).

The more I read about this whole DCnU thing starting in September - you know, the rebooty retcon that isn't actually either one of those things except for all of the reboots they're retconning (or is it retcons they're rebooting?) - the more I'm deciding that a lot of it Just Isn't For Me. All those things they have planned for Superman, for instance...

yeah, I'm all set. Parts of it feel like yet another retread of well-worn territory (all of his many parents dead, no longer married to or even dating Lois), and the parts that are changing just feel like change for change's sake. And based on what I've seen and heard so far, I don't really like the new stuff (particularly the costume... what we see above doesn't really work, at least not with the cape, and the armor he'll eventually end up in is just ugly), and if I want the well-worn territory stuff, I'll go back to the old comics.

And it's that last bit that I think is keeping me from going all Fantitlement Rage on this. I can't get too upset about any of this - none of us can, really - because there are nearly 75 years' worth of Superman comics out there, and I sure as hell haven't read all of them. I probably haven't read even remotely close to most or even half of them, and I consider myself a big Superman fan. With that much material out there, none of us can complain that there aren't comics that appeal to our particular vision of Superman (or whomever) out there. And with so much classic material in print again, it's easy to get ahold of it.

So yeah. Not For Me, but I won't lose sleep over it.

Kind of sad to see so many great books get bulldozed over to get this going, though. Take Bryan Q. Miller's Batgirl, for instance.

I've only read 3 or 4 issues of this now, but I've decided it's incredibly fun and I'm going to start tracking down the issues or trades of the ones I've missed. The issue I posted above, last month's, I believe, was one of the most fun comic book stories I've read in a very long time. It had my attention anyway, since I've been a huge mark for the Squire ever since Grant Morrison first teamed her up with Batman in his JLA Classified arc, but this was an absolute blast to read, it officially made me a fan of Stephanie Brown (a girl who just cannot catch a lasting break with DC, can she?), and it proved that you can, indeed, have a book set in Batman's sandbox that can be a decent adventure and mystery while still being - SHOCK! GASP! EXCLAMATION POINT! - fun.

Again, I have a lot of these left to read now, and I should be able to track them down, so I have that to look forward to, but it's just too bad that there won't be still more of these to enjoy. That's a real shame. I look forward to the fun reading to come, but I know I'll be out of it all too soon.

Of course, the upcoming change isn't all bad. Despite my reservations about the big guns, some of the "smaller" titles coming down the pike actually have me quite excited. Mr. Terrific, for example, sounds interesting. I was enough of a fan of the first Blue Beetle series to be curious about the new one. And Legion Lost looks to feature my favorite Legionnaire, Wildfire, front and center, so I'll give that a look. But the one I'm looking forward to the most is one that we actually seem to be getting a sneak preview of right now, and that's Jeff Lemire's Frankenstein: Agent of SHADE.

Now, I have no interest in the main thrust of this whole Flashpoint event. At all. I'm not opposed to it, mind you, but based on what I've heard and skimmed, it's mostly not my cuppa (though, admittedly, I *love* the series' take on Captain Marvel/Thunder, the whole S!H!A!Z!A!M! thing). But Frankenstein and the Creatures of the Unknown caught my eye because a.) come on, Frankenstein and a big sword; b.) it co-stars the Creature Commandos and the G.I. Robot; c.) Jeff Lemire's a talented guy, even if I don't always like what he's working on. So I gave this a shot, and two issues in, it's fantastic. It's the best sort of peripheral event tie-in in that it only barely ties in, so you can read this and mostly make sense of it even if you're not reading Flashpoint (and, I suppose, if you're reading Flashpoint and have no interest in this, you can safely skip it, but seriously, don't). The plot's interesting, the characterization is great, and there's so much What the Hell?!? going on that by the time you've begun to process the last crazy thing that happened, some other nutso thing is going on. It's Fun Comics of the highest degree, and though I've mostly given up on monthly floppy funny books, I'll probably give the Frankenstein ongoing a shot.

The New Old Nu DC: there's probably no stopping them now, but in some cases, that's probably an okay thing. As for the rest, well, like I said, there's 75 years of other material to read instead. Keep that gravy train chugging, DC, and we'll continue to get along fine.

(Oh, and obviously, I'm more than willing to be proven wrong on all this. I'll be happy if the new Superman, and everything else, is awesome. If it turns out that it is good, I'll definitely give it a shot. But for now... wary.)

They Might Be Singing When They're Winning

So They Might Be Giants covered Chumbawumba's "Tubthumping" for the AV Club's Undercover series, and it's awesome, people:

They Might Be Giants covers Chumbawamba

Flans is looking very Tony Stark there, don't you think?

We want information. Information! INFORMATION! And maybe something we can dance to.

Some days it pays to open your email. Today, that's how I discovered Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling, a Boston-based duo that describes itself as "moody, minimalist, art-rock with a passion for The Prisoner." The group has put out 2 EPs of songs based on/inspired by episodes of The Prisoner, with a third planned to finish off the series.

And that would be cool enough as it is - I love how music steeped in nerd culture has evolved past the convention circuit and Dr. Demento (not that there's anything wrong with either) and into the realm of elaborate artistic endeavor - but these two kicked it up a dozen or so notches more with the video for their song "Arrival," which happens to be a shot-for-shot homage to the opening of the original Prisoner episode of the same name, using Boston and other New England area landmarks as substitutes for the England and Wales locations used in the show.

And should you want to see how well they matched up with the original, there's a picture-in-picture comparison version, too.

And yeah, the song itself is pretty rad, too. I definitely need to hear more from these people. Check out their site for more information, as well as streaming or purchasing the first two EPs, The New Number Two and Questions Are A Burden To Others.

Be seeing you.

Happy Independence Day from The Shield

Hello, friends. I'm the Shield, an action figure from Remco's 1984 Mighty Crusaders toyline and, yes, the very first patriotic superhero ever (look it up!), and I'm back at the Trusty Plinko Stick weblog internets site once again to wish each and every one of you a Safe and Happy Independence Day! Be careful with those sparklers, kids! Ha ha!

What? No. I don't want to talk about... you know... him. Why do you always have to bring this up? My therapist says I need to move past all that, and I keep trying, and yet you ALWAYS...

Look, I'm sorry. I don't mean to yell. It's not your fault. Listen, I get it. There's a movie coming out, so he's on TV, he's in the magazines, he's on Dunkin Donuts cups... he's even got his own signature donut! Man, if that's not makin' it big, I don't know what is, Sonny Jim!

And the thing is, he's such a nice guy! AND THAT'S WHAT'S WORST OF ALL!!! It'd be one thing if he'd just be a bastard, but he's just this amazingly friendly, upbeat guy and I cannot bring myself to hate him. It's all "Okay, Axis, here we come!" and "Avengers Assemble!" and "Keep 'em flying, soldier!" and "Look, here's a hundred dollars, just take it... no, it's not charity, it's a loan, you just pay me back whenever you can, I know you're good for it, and no, the Comet will never hear about this, this just between you and I, okay?" with him. I guess I don't blame him, not anymore. I've finally learned to stop thinking he stole my shtick - it's not like draping yourself in a flag is a particularly new idea - and to stop thinking he got lucky. He's a hell of a guy who made the most of the breaks he was given and has prospered as a result. Deservedly so. And that shield-throwing thing is hella cool, as I'm led to believe the kids say. Heck, I plan on being first in line on opening day to see that movie of his!

And I will likely have been drunk for some time. Oh, God, I hate myself.

Cartoon Network Hates You

You wanna know how I know this? Because they could be showing something like this:

And yet they're just sitting on a pile of unaired episodes of Batman: The Brave and the Bold.


R.I.P. Gene Colan

All the various comics news sites are reporting that Gene Colan has died.

To be honest, when I was a kid I wasn't the biggest fan of Gene's art. It was darker and moodier than the more traditionally "comic booky" art styles I gravitated toward, and I always thought the coloring looked weird.

Then, earlier in the decade, I happened across the first Essential Tomb of Dracula volume and saw Colan's artwork in black and white, and it was like seeing it for the first time all over again. Everything I disliked about his work as a kid I found that I loved now. Black and white was the key. Turns out I just wasn't a fan of his colorists (though I've grown to like his stuff in color since).

Anyway, I never got to meet the man, but I'm sad he's gone. He leaves behind an amazing legacy of artwork, and from everything I've ever heard, he was supposed to be one of the nicest guys around. His 2005 interview with the Comic Geek Speak podcast sure came off that way.

So long, Gene. You'll be missed.

Spectacular Street Art (It's a Priority)

Seen today on a pole outside the Post Office Branch on Apponaug Ave. right here in swingin' Warwick, RI.

Pretty Sketchy: Think Big!

Dewey, the Mallville Public Library's less-than-professional teen services librarian from the webcomic Unshelved by Gene Ambaum and Bill Barnes, as drawn by Barnes on the latest strip collection Large Print, and acquired at the recent Rhode Island Library Association conference. Gene and Bill gave two great presentations: one on graphic novels, giving a brief overview of the history of comics and many, many awesome examples libraries would do well to invest in (I took copious notes on the latter); and one on customer service at the library, frequently using Dewey's actions as examples of things we should not do even when we really, desperately want to. And, they were super nice guys to boot. Thanks, guys!

Major props to Marvel for this.

It's a little thing, but stuff like this is wonderful. Thanks to the Twitterati at Marvel for making my son's day (and mine!).

Hal Jordan: Predator, Nancy's laurels, and the Honestly Greatest Franchise Mash-Ups Ever

A long time ago, I posted a rant about why I don't like the character of Hal Jordan. Based on Curt Franklin and Chris Haley's latest Comics, Everybody! strip for Comics Alliance, we're all three of us on the same page.

This particular Tumblr site is almost assuredly old news to everyone by now, but if for some reason you haven't seen it yet, I give you the simple grandeur that is Nancy Panels.

Artist James Hance recently came to prominence among the internerds for his Firefly/Muppets mash-up, but he has a lot of other wonderful artwork available in various forms, including this print:

and this t-shirt:

both of which will be mine. Mine, I tell you!