Okay, ramblers, let's get ramblin' - comics style!

Hey, did you hear that there was a comic con in New York this weekend? Yeah, apparently a few people had a bit of trouble getting in or something.

Ah… super-narrow-focused understatement humor. Gotta love it.

Anyway, unsurprisingly, there’s a lot of word out about the first NY ComicCon around the inter-ma-net – some good, some not. In the end, people’s opinions about the success of the show seems to largely depend on which side of the door they were on when the Fire Marshal and the NY State Police cut off admission.

I don’t know… it sounds like it was a fun time (you know, provided you got in), but given the many stories of people turned away at the door and my seething hatred of super-crowded events, I can’t say I’m terribly upset I missed this one. I’m a more of a small con guy, myself, which is why Wizard World Boston was so much fun for me (grumble, grumble). Maybe I can make it down to Baltimore or Pittsburgh some year.

And for the record, I don’t think the actions of the NY authorities were wrong at all. If you wanna find out what can happen when fire codes and max. occupancy limits are blatantly ignored, go and Google “Station night club fire” sometime. I drive by that site at least once or twice a month. There’s still a makeshift memorial there. It’s still haunting.

Oh, Jonah Hex. Why does your new DC series have to be so damn good? The last thing I need right now is another monthly comic to buy. But I know that if I wait for the trade on a series like this, it’ll die off before it’s time.

Yeah, I know, issues 1 & 2 sold out. But a quick Google search shows the sales figures on #2 were 26,200, making it the number 78 book for December (don't have the link handy, sorry). So yeah, a respectable enough Top 100 showing for a non-cape book, but still not setting the world on fire. And given the inevitable nature of All Things Comic Booky, it’s bound to drop further, which will then fuel the inevitable Series Death Watch where self-proclaimed online pundits predict the book’s death for months on end.

So stop the cycle before it starts and give this book a try, if you haven’t. Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray’s stories have been sort of formulaic for the first 4 issues – Hex tracks down a bounty, gets caught up in some local trouble because of it, shoots a whole lot of people dead, rinses and repeats – but it’s a formula that works really, really well, so I’m not one to judge. Whether you like your Westerns served up Sergio Leone style, or prefer the more modern approach of an Unforgiven or a Deadwood, there’s something you’ll like here. And if you don’t like Westerns at all, I ask you this: do you like the justice-motivated anti-hero type of character? Your Conans, your Punishers, your Dirty Harrys, your Charles Bronson in Death Wish types, your Batmen? Well, you’ll like Hex, too, so quit yer bellyachin’ and read the book already.

The art by Luke Ross is worth checking out, too… it’s sort of Cassaday-lite (I mean that in a good way).

And every issue so far has been a done-in-one story. Single issue stories! Remember those? No two-issue-at-best-yet-padded-out-to-six stories here!

So yeah, read the book. Please?

Finally checked out that Power Girl fan film everyone keeps talking about. I thought it was kinda funny, the coffee shop cameos were clever and well-handled, and I was especially impressed that the actress playing PG didn’t look completely ridiculous in the costume (even with the infamous peek-a-boo window - maybe it's almost generic nature of the costume that keeps it from looking completely stupid in real life?). Her voice, however… may I suggest that if the Last Daughter of Earth-2 Krypton (or would that be Krypton-2? I’m confused.) can’t lay off the smokes, maybe she could at least switch to lights? She sounds just a few short years away from doing the best Harvey Fierstein impersonation in the JSA. Look out, Ma Hunkel, you've been dethroned!

If you were me, not only would you be dealing with near-daily existential crises caused by your impending 3oth birthday (April 30th, for those of you playing at home), but you'd also have the following waiting for you at home in your DCBS shipment that arrived today:

Optic Nerve 10
Legion of Super-Heroes 14
Marvel Team-Up 17
I Heart Marvel: Web of Romance
JSA 82
Superman Chronicles Vol. 1

Woot, though a "woot" with an exception. I was supposed to get LSH 15, but Diamond shorted DCBS, so I didn't get it with this shipment. Last time Diamond shorted DCBS on a book I ordered, Adam Strange 8, they never refilled the order (stupid, stupid Diamond). DCBS credited my account, which was tres cool, but it took me months to track down the book. Long story short, I have no faith in Diamond's ability to meet its obligations to the consumer, so I bought LSH 15 at a local comic shop this weekend. So I have that to look forward to, also, which is nice.

Stupid, stupid Diamond.

Can you remind me how to get to Sesame Street again?

One of the added bonuses of having Liam around is getting to re-explore the landscape of children’s television. I’ve written before about my appreciation of Jack’s Big Music Show (which, again, is brilliant, though I wish they’d make more episodes already), but the show I may be having the most fun with is Sesame Street. The Street is a little different then you may remember – it’s very segmented now, seeming more like a collection of smaller “shows” than a particularly unified program – but the same comic sensibility that always made it watchable for viewers past the target audience remains.

Like the best Warner Brothers cartoons, there was always a lot of humor that zoomed right over the kids’ heads and aimed straight for the parents. That’s still there, thankfully, but it’s a little different now. Now, Sesame Street is being written by people who likely grew up watching Sesame Street – and it shows. Now the sly pop cultural references buried within the script in order to keep the parents and grandparents entertained often include fondly remembered bits of Street lore. One episode dealt with a neighborhood-wide karaoke night, and the songs the characters sang included the likes of “New Way to Walk,” “The Ladybugs’ Picnic,” and the long-lost “The People in Your Neighborhood,” which of course was sung by good ol’ Bob McGrath. (because, honestly, who else could?) And just the other day, hardcore porridge addict Baby Bear said that he was unable to help with whatever the hell it was that Telly Monster needed help with because he was on his way to Hooper’s Store for Mama Bear to pick up… wait for it… “a loaf of bread, a container of milk, and a stick of butter.” (“I remembered, I remembered!”) Sheer nostalgic bliss.

There’ve been a lot of changes over the years around the block containing the brownstone at 123 Sesame Street – the Fix It Shop is now the Mail It Shop, Luis & Maria and Gordon & Susan’s kids are teenagers now, Gina is a veterinarian, Grover is a seasoned world traveler, and Elmo appears to rule the roost with an iron, furry fist – but there’s enough familiarity still there to make it seem as if very little time has passed since you were still firmly within the target demographic.

But if only they’d bring back the Noo Nee Noo Nee Noo typewriter. And maybe Billy Joe Jive, Super Crime Fighting Ace.

You know, I've always loved our neighbors to the north.

Via Sophie: This is the poster by Darwin Cooke advertising this year's Shuster Awards, the awards for Canadian comic book creators (named, of course, for Superman co-creator Joe Shuster).

The website says they'll being sent to comic shops throughout Canada in March. This poster is a thing of beauty, and I'd like one a whole damn lot. So if you're a Canadian comic shop owner and you have a spare one of these lying around, I'd be more than willing to take it off your hands. I'm just sayin'.

PS - Canada rules, women's curling is surprisingly fun to watch, and Tim Horton's makes the best maple glazed donut on the planet.

Sometimes a terrible beverage is just a terrible beverage.

I decided to see if I couldn’t break my recent case of reader’s block by re-reading a book I loved back when I was in college: Microserfs by Douglas Coupland. So far, my little ploy is working – I’m over 100 pages in and I haven’t gotten bored with it, so it looks like that for the first time in awhile, I may be sticking with a non-comics book for the duration. Yay me.

There’s been a downside, though – unexpected, although honestly, I should have seen it coming.

Have you ever gone back and tried to re-experience the things you enjoyed as an angsty teenager / early-twentysomething? They don’t always hold up so well, do they?

Don’t get me wrong… it’s still a decent book; otherwise, I wouldn’t waste my time reading it. The story, though not particularly dynamic, is compelling, the characters are mostly interesting, and I certainly appreciate the craft of Coupland’s writing style. He has a dandy way with a phrase sometimes. The dialogue, though? Yeesh.

Here’s what I compare it to: did you ever have a stoner roommate who’d get really high and then prattle on endlessly about all manner of nonsense, all the while convinced he or she was actually being really profound? Yeah, the dialogue not only does all that, but it drinks the bong water when it’s done.

See, the book is about this group of people who all are coders and bug-checkers for Microsoft. One of them gets this idea for some admittedly cool sounding software (It’s a game! It’s a design tool! It’s a floor wax and a dessert topping!), so they all leave MS to start their own company. It’s very early 90s. Anyway, in between all of the action (such as it is), they talk. A lot. About the computer industry. About coding. About logic. About human-as-computer metaphors. About Lego. About The Mary Tyler Moore Show. No one can just talk about, to use an example from the book, wanting to try Crystal Pepsi. They have to comment upon the increasing number of transparent products in modern society, and whether or not this indicates a decline in the spiritual substance of the world (or some such malarkey). No one ever gave that much thought to Crystal Pepsi - not even the people at Pepsi.

Maybe at one time I found this sort of “human nature meets junk culture” discussion vaguely interesting, but now I find myself wishing Coupland would lay off the pipe and go outside to get some fresh air for a few minutes (and while we’re on the subject, maybe he could stop eating all my Cheetos, too).

Let's list again, like we did last winter...

Mikester may have re-awakened a sleeping beast, so if this turns into a meme again, blame him. So here now for your blogging enjoyment is, again in no particular order, 100 More Things I Love About Comics (you can see the list I made last year here if you're curious):

  1. Scott Pilgrim
  2. Justice League Unlimited
  3. The Teen Titans theme by Puffy AmiYumi
  4. The Teen Titans show itself, for that matter
  5. Gene Colan
  6. DC's new Showcase books (which is the perfect format for a Sugar & Spike collection, HINT HINT!)
  7. Box Office Poison and Tricked by Alex Robinson
  8. All-Star Superman
  9. Nextwave
  10. IDW bringing back The Maze Agency
  11. X-Men Legends for PS2
  12. The Superboy & the Legion of Super-Heroes tabloid with the wedding of Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl (1000 years in the future, and the universe is still plagued with bell-bottoms)
  13. The Flash TV series
  14. The new Marvel Team-Up by Robert Kirkman
  15. The often unsung work of colorists, or color artists, or whatever the hell they want to call themselves
  16. The Comic Geek Speak podcast
  17. The I Read Comics podcast
  18. The unparalleled hyperbole of Stan Lee
  19. The Best of the Spirit trade paperback (hey DC, howzabout a Best of Plastic Man next?)
  20. "The Ballad of Barry Allen" by Jim's Big Ego
  21. Afforable Little Lulu reprints from Dark Horse
  22. The album sized reprints of Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck comics produced by Gladstone and Disney - the perfect size for those stories!
  23. The Fantastic Four movie, which I actually liked better than Batman Begins
  24. Evan Dorkin's blog
  25. Mike Wieringo's sketch blog
  26. Reading one of the New Teen Titans drug issues (the one with Speedy on the cover) out loud as a class in second grade
  27. The current Legion of Super-Heroes book by Mark Waid and Barry Kitson
  28. The occasional letter pages in the above comic book
  29. The letter pages in Starman (which were more often about various & sundry bits of pop culture ephemera than about the book itself)
  30. The Darkseid gag in the first Ambush Bug mini-series
  31. Who's Who: The Definitive Guide to the DC Universe
  32. Discount Comic Book Service
  33. Graphic novels in libraries, for helping me discover new comics I might not have read otherwise, as well as saving me a ton of money by letting me read and enjoy comics I would have been disappointed in if I had actually spent money on them (e.g. New Avengers is a decent read for free, but I don't know if I'd ever want to actually buy it)
  34. Fred Hembeck Destroys the Marvel Universe
  35. The theme song to the 60s Spider-Man cartoon
  36. Jack Kirby's 2001: A Space Odyssey series, which had almost no connection to the movie whatsoever
  37. The theme song to Nextwave.
  38. The ad for Spalding basketballs drawn by Jack Davis, starring Rick Barry and Dr. J, that ran on the back of every comic book published for about 4 decades.
  39. The Tandy WhizKids helping out Superman with a TRS-80, of all things.
  40. The Earthwar storyline in Superboy & the Legion of Super-Heroes
  41. Mr. Mind
  42. The Encyclopedia of Super-Heroes by Jeff Rovin (multiple factual errors and all)
  43. The Defenders, esp. the early issues of the original series and the brief revival from a few years back by Kurt Busiek and Erik Larsen
  44. Kitty Pryde
  45. Art Adams
  46. Why I Hate Saturn by Kyle Baker
  47. Space Cabby
  48. Chronos, the entirely too-short-lived DC series written by John Francis Moore
  49. Chase, the entirely too-short-lived DC series written by D. Curtis Johnson
  50. The Creature Commandos
  51. Seasons 2-4 of the Superboy TV series (the ones with Gerard Christopher)
  52. Superman: Secret Identity
  53. The Joker talking about boners.
  54. Squarecat Comics
  55. Bizarro
  56. 70s and 80s JSA stories
  57. Yvonne Craig as Batgirl
  58. The fact that Batgirl was a librarian (library workers represent!)
  59. Ed McGuinness
  60. Gorilla Grodd
  61. Batman's "sci-fi closet"
  62. The Land of Nod, Oddville, and Jetcat's Clubhouse by Jay Stephens
  63. The Marvel Comics Video Library, produced by Prism Entertainment. I must've rented the whole series over the course of one winter back in grade school.
  64. Joe Kubert
  65. Scott Kollins (esp. his work on The Flash)
  66. Mike Parobeck
  67. The fact that any DC book you own from circa 1983 probably has the "Masters of the Universe" preview insert in it. There was no escaping that damn thing!
  68. Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld
  69. Arm Fall Off Boy
  70. The Tick
  71. Jim Aparo's Batman
  72. The No-Prize
  73. John Byrne, pre-Cranky Old Man of the Internet era
  74. Walter and Louise Simonson
  75. Varying shades of Kryptonite
  76. Curt Swan
  77. The weird jogging-in-the-air pose that Wayne Boring always drew Superman doing
  78. Dan DeCarlo
  79. Kurt Schaffenberger
  80. The constantly changing t-shirt slogan gag (who created that, Kurtzman or Elder?)
  81. The now retired DC bullet logo
  82. Marvel's Godzilla series
  83. Nova, the Human Rocket - the only superhero guaranteed to be a bigger loser than you!
  84. The JLA satellite
  85. The two Superman/Spider-Man crossovers
  86. The X-Men/Teen Titans crossover
  87. The JLA/Avengers crossover
  88. Adam Strange by Andy Diggle and Pascal Ferry
  89. Hello, I'm Johnny Cash from Spire Christian Comics
  90. Old school Marvel monster comics
  91. DC 100 page issues
  92. American Elf/Sketchbook Diaries by James Kochalka
  93. Jaime Hernandez
  94. Scott McCloud
  95. Archie meets the Punisher
  96. Carmine Infantino
  97. The Incredibles
  98. The Hulk's purple pants
  99. The very notion that radiation could give you super-powers instead of killing you
  100. The fact that I'll get to introduce Liam to all of this and more.

Some quick comic book reactions.

There may be spoilers. So, you know, you've been warned.

Showcase Presents Superman Vol. 1 - Dear lord, I finally finished this! And it was a fun, if excessively goofy at times, read. I know a lot of people have had a hard time enjoying this book, but I think they're looking at it all wrong. Don't go into this expecting the stereotypical superhero stories. Instead, read this as a superhero sitcom. It's I Love Lucy or The Dick Van Dyke Show, but with superpowers. Story begins, wacky set-up occurs, hi-jinks ensue, story ends with everything exactly the way it was as when the story began. Rinse and repeat. Once you realize there's no difference between Lucy scheming to get into Ricky's show and Lois scheming to find out Superman's secret identity, everything falls neatly into place.

All-Star Superman 2
– Grant Morrison is obviously having fun with this book, and it shows. This issue was less about story than about some more of Grant’s patented “mad ideas,” but they’re such fun ideas that it’s hard to fault him for it. I keep saying how I want to wait for the trade on this, but let’s see how well my resolve holds up when issue 3 hits.

Nextwave 1 – This is the sort of comic book I dread – a first issue that makes me actually want to continue buying the series. Damn you, Warren Ellis, and your hilarious, over-the-top new team book with a catchy theme song and everything! I definitely need to see where this is heading.

Marvel Team-Up 16 – I’m liking this storyline so far, and I think these characters all play well together, but if this is one of those time travel stories where the heroes’ actions change history so that the story never actually took place (in the restored timeline, I mean), I’m gonna be a little pissed. If a story didn’t actually happen, then why did I have to read it?

LSH 13 – The war storyline comes to a satisfying, if a bit-too-quick ending, but the best part of this is that the best letter column in comics history returns. Woot! And don’t blink, or you’ll miss the new Polar Boy (and a recommendation for To Kill a Mockingbird – on sale now!).

Local 3 – Dammit! I haven’t been enjoying this book all that much, and planned to drop it unless #3 was really, really good. And wouldn’t you know it, #3 was really, really, really good. I suspect this is because Megan and her terrible decision making abilities weren’t the stars of this issue, but relegated instead to a small cameo. Honestly, though, this may be the best band/music biz-themed comic story I’ve ever read.

Maze Agency 2 – The mysteries may be a bit formulaic at times, but it’s the interplay of Jen, Gabe, Lt. Bliss and the other regulars that keeps me coming back. It’s not the greatest issue ever, but it’s entertaining and as warmly familiar as the detective fiction and television Mike W. Barr emulates with this book. This is comics-as-comfort food. Please keep it coming, IDW!

Infinite Crisis 4 – I was a little confused by what was going on with the Flashes, but the shenanigans of Superboy-Prime were literally jaw dropping (vayo con dios, 5th string Titans!), so it all evens out, I guess. I remain unapologetic in my like for this book.

Will You Still Love Me If I Wet the Bed? – I think this may book be a little too cute for some people’s tastes, but I enjoyed it a lot. Most of the little 4 panel vignettes reminded me a lot of things Erin and I have done and conversations we’ve had (for example, I’ve pantsed her while she was brushing her teeth on more than one occasion, and we spend more time than is probably healthy discussing bodily functions), so I’m wondering if creator Jen Prince has actually been spying on us for the past few years. Hmmm… Anyway, if you like American Elf or Squarecat Comics, you should dig this, too.

Nobody asked me if they could do this or not!

Wizard World Boston '06 is cancelled.


I guess I shouldn't be surprised. After the whole Atlanta fiasco last year, and all the negative word of mouth WW Beantown '05 received, not to mention the general consensus that there are just too many cons these days, I kinda saw it coming. But I don't have to like it!

Maybe I'm in the minority, but I really enjoyed Wizard World Boston last fall. It had all the perks of one of the bigger cons - big name guests, large Artist Alley area, rows upon rows of retailers - but it wasn't so overwhelmingly large as to seem intimidating or ridiculously tiring. Plus, it was only an hour or so away from my house. I really liked the convenience of that!

I could always just suck it up and go to the new, almost-upon-us New York Comic Con if I want the full con experience, I guess, but it's not terribly likely to happen this year, due to lack of fundage (I figured I'd have most of the year to save my pennies for Boston, dammit!), unfamiliarity with the area (I've been to NYC exactly once, so I don't really know where anything is and am not keen on driving there myself, thanks, and buses are way too expensive), and the general unpredictability of east coast weather in February. Don't get me wrong, I hope the show is a huge success and continues on for years to come, but it's pretty unlikely they'll be getting my dollars any time soon.

Don't ever forget...

Not directly related to Dorian's meme, true, but I figured it wouldn't hurt to remind people.

It just kind of speaks for itself,

I received the following message from a complete stranger in my MySpace inbox Wednesday night. It may just be the best email I have ever received:

Hi Bill,

You seem like a nice guy but with a bachelor's degree you are surely a library assistant, not an assistant librarian. It may sound nitpicky to you but there is a big difference.

Peace & friendship,
A librarian

I laughed about this for a good long time, because, honestly, who does this? I showed this to my work study kids, and they laughed as hard as I did. I showed a co-worker, and he apologized on behalf of librarians everywhere, adding "Wow, no wonder no one wants to become a librarian anymore, if you have to meet people like that!" I called up Erin and read it to her over the phone and - well, actually, she got kinda mad, threatening to drive to this woman's house and beat her up. So, I'd look out if I were you, "A librarian," because even though I have no clue who the hell you are, I'm reasonably certain my wife could kick your ass.

And so, obviously, I had to respond. I mulled over a few different options.

"F--- you," was certainly simple, and to the point, but it lacked class.

My usual stand-by in this sort of situation, "I'm confident that you will die completely and utterly alone, secure in the knowledge that absolutely no one loved you," would've worked fine and dandy, I think, but I don't know, it just felt like a little too much here. Why play an ace when a 2 will do, you know? Also, that was a lot of words to type.

I ultimately decided on:
"Are you honestly that bored?"
It seemed the most appropriate. Because the way I see it, if you have the time to create a MySpace account (I looked, and the account seemed really new - very little personal info, and one lone friend - the ubiquitous Tom), search someone out, and engage in a semantics-based pissing contest with a complete stranger, then my friend, you have no life to speak of whatsoever.