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.