Kevin Smith Funded A Movie With His Collection, I Got Fifty Bucks

Kevin Smith Funded A Movie With His Collection, I Got Fifty Bucks

My title is bitter, but I’m not. Maybe a little wistful? Definitely rambly. This is a rambly, introspective-y post about my comic collection and how I sold it.

Moving makes you appreciate how little space you have. It also, in my case, made me appreciate how friggin heavy comic books are. Especially when you have a couple thousand of them.

The picture you see above? All gone. All of them. “Taken off my hands” for fifty bucks by a comic shop on Long Island. I wasn’t reading them. I wasn’t going to move them to the next apartment. I wasn’t going to break them up into lots and sell them on eBay.

To paraphrase Jesse Ventura, “I ain’t got time to (sell my comics on eBay)!”

I bought a lot of those comics for fun. For love of characters.

I also bought a lot because collector focused magazines published in the 90s told me they were going to be worth something some day. There was a point where I BOUGHT EVERY SINGLE X-MEN COMIC THAT CAME OUT IN A MONTH 3 MONTHS IN ADVANCE BECAUSE IT WOULD GET ME A VARIANT COVER. Ahem. Sorry for the all caps. But much like the times that I blew a portion of my savings on an expensive guitar, and another portion on a semi expensive (and instantly outdated) video camera; I really ponder what I was thinking.

I posted this photo on Facebook a few months back, when a local shop owner was supposed to stop by, make me an offer, and take them off my hands. The reactions, even from non-comics fans were “ZOMG! You can’t sell/get rid of those!”

But I could.

It’s weird to think that there’s been a culture built up around investing in comics. It’s not supposed to be about that. Comics are art (though I suppose people invest in art), but comics are also entertainment. Who purchases or views a film with the expectation of a profit? Or does so with a book?

This culture arose because there weren’t reprints of comics. People were nostalgic. They wanted the comics that were a part of their childhoods but had been lost. And they were willing to drop a lot of money to get them back.

But now, not only are there affordable reprints, some packaged beautifully and recolored, there are also digital comics, making issues of comics like Jack Kirby’s Kamandi available at a mere 99 cents an issue. It’s pretty awesome, but it also means that most comic readers my age who are hoping for any kind of profit on their collections are probably shit out of luck.

So there’s no need to be a comic collector anymore. You can just be a comic book reader. There’s no need to “complete the run” and keep buying a comic you hate. You can keep and buy the comics you want to.

I kept two long boxes. Plus a bookshelf and a half of hardcovers and trade paperbacks. Aaand the hundred something comics I’ve bought digitally. I’m still reading comic books. But I’m not hanging onto the past anymore, or hoping for a comic to get better simply because I love a character.

I’m reading and buying what I want to, and telling you about it here.

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Some People Call Me A Ghost Cowboy…

Some People Call Me A Ghost Cowboy…

…some call me a werewolf of loooove.

Some people call me Maur-

Sorry.

When I get bad jokes or bad writing in my head, I get it out. But I don’t get it out and delete it, nope, I share it with y’all.

This is yet another horror comic recommendation, and FYI, I am totally going to cheaply re-use these in October to get more traffic and whatnot. This comic, like American Vampire, falls into a category of “horror western.” Written by Cullen Bunn with art by Brian Hurtt, this is The Sixth Gun.

That’s Drake Sinclair. Our resident mysterious gunslinger leaving a Pinkerton to die. Pinkertons were the worst. They were a ‘detective agency,’ but they were really hired guns selling their services to the highest bidder. You’ll find in this series and in the excellent HBO drama Deadwood that they were indeed the worst. Pinkertons were the worst. I cannot state this enough. Though I should do some reading to find out if in fact these fictional stories are correct in their assessment, I do find comfort in assuming that strike-breaking, undead general aiding goons were the worst.

Yup, I said “undead general.” That’s our villain. General Olliander Hume. An evil Confederate general with an evil gang and six evil guns that each have their own unique power and are bound to their owners for life.

So we’ve met Drake Sinclair. Here’s Becky. A bunch of lousy, no good Pinkertons come after her father, and through some shenanigans that I won’t spoil, leave Becky with a dead father and a magic gun. OK, I kinda spoiled things. But I didn’t tell you how the Pinkertons shot her father in the head. Oh. Crap.

Pinkertons are the worst.

 

Monks with guns!!!

And here’s General Hume’s evil gang of ghouls. I can’t say that they’re all ghouls in the strict definition of the term, but gang of ghouls sounds great, so hey, I’m going with it.

I’m barely touching on what makes The Sixth Gun such an enjoyable comic. Bunn’s story moves at a quick (and funny!) pace, constantly introducing characters and building a rich, rich mythology. The book feels like a classic western film, but doesn’t feel constrained by those trappings. Hurtt’s art has a loose, lightly inked feel. His eyes are amazingly expressive yet cartoony. Working together, the two come up with a spectacular book. I’ve read issues 1-6 of this series, and plan to read more. Before I get into where to buy and all that, I want to note something.

When I got back into comics in late high school, after a brief hiatus where I thought reading comics was responsible for my lack of success with the ladies, I was introduced to some comics that were different than what I had read before. The art was better. There weren’t any thought bubbles. Comics kind of looked like movies. And that was what was being marketed. A “Widescreen” approach. But widescreen seemed to be the main takeaway that the comic marketers and press had from film. Well, there’s more to film, and more to storytelling than aspect ratio.

Look at that page. That is brilliant editing and brilliant storytelling. If you’re going to compare a still image on the page to a moving image…well….that’s a moving image on a still page. I don’t know if that makes much sense, but goddamn it’s good comics. It doesn’t need me to tell you how good it is (Though I guess it does, since you’re not reading it).

Anyway, you can be like me, and buy The Sixth Gun on Comixology. It’s $8.99 for six issues. That is amazing. You can also go to your local comic store or book store and pick it up in print, or buy it on Amazon.

 

 

Saga: Issues 4-5…Oh, wait…no, a distraction

Saga: Issues 4-5…Oh, wait…no, a distraction

I was all set to tell y’all about Saga issues 4-5 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, but then, a few pages into issue 4…

Double page sex planet spread! (Haha…sex planet…spread…)

Then I was ready to buck up. To be mature. To be an adult.

Then I honed in on this panel.

 

Boobs pressed up against glass, a manic, almost daring “You won’t F me” look…it’s just…

 

Ah…ha…haha….

Hahahahahahahaha. Ok, seriously, I’m ready to review these comics. Right, Lying Cat?

Ok, yeah. I’m lying. I’m totally not ready to talk about the latest issues of Saga that I’ve checked out, but I’m curious, any of my readers checking this out? If so, drop some thoughts below, and I’ll talk about them when I ACTUALLY talk about these two issues.

 

 

Life Is Lame So Let Me Eat Your Brain, AKA More Horror Recommendations

Life Is Lame So Let Me Eat Your Brain, AKA More Horror Recommendations

Soundtrack for today’s post: “Zombie Graveyard Party” by Be Your Own Pet, a song which quotes the first, if not the second as well, Return of the Living Dead film. Both films DO feature actor Thom Matthews as a zombie trying to pressure his girlfriend into letting him eat her brains (IT’S A METAPHOR). But anyway, this isn’t “Watch That Movie!” (though you should), this is “Read This Comic!”, so in the spirit of the fall that needs to come ever so much sooner, I’ll continue with some horror comic recommendations.

Let’s start off with iZombie by Chris Roberson and Mike Allred. This is a comic I’ve been meaning to catchup on myself for a number of reasons. What are those reasons? I’m glad you asked!

1) Mike Allred’s art is amazing. He’s got a retro-poppy style that’s fun to see contrasted with violence and gore.

2) Chris Roberson caused a whole big hullaballo a couple months back when he announced he would no longer work for DC Comics because he found them unethical in their treatment of creators. I haven’t read much by him other than this first issue, and I’d like to give him a shot based on his ethics.

3) A zombie is the main character. While I am a stickler for Romero-style zombies, the zombie in this comic does appear to be magical in nature, therefore, it’s up to the creative team to define their own zombie rules.

The basic concept of the book seems to be that our main character Gwen is a zombie, she has to eat a brain once a month, or she becomes your typical mindless zombie. When she eats a brain, she gets the brain’s memories, which I assume like in this first issue, leads to her solving mysteries with a friendly ghost and a were-terrier. Yup, were-terrier. Thus far, maybe it’s a stretch for me to recommend this as a horror comic, but I hope the scary side of these characters/creatures is shown in addition to their everyday quirks.

The first issue is pretty enjoyable and sets up a number of subplots while introducing you to some interesting characters. It’s a mere $.99 on Comixology. You can get the trade paperbacks on Amazon, or at your local comic book store.

Were-terrier gives me a perfect segue into my second recommendation: Full Moon Fever by Joe Casey, Caleb Gerard and Damian Couceiro. I sadly don’t have any images to share from this book right now, cause my buddy Rob has it. So join me in angrily shaking your fists at him!

(Pause for fist shake)

That was a rigorous fist shaking! Good job, everyone. Anyway, Full Moon Fever is like a lost John Carpenter film. The concept is…

wait…

wait…

WEREWOLVES ON THE MOON!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Long version of concept: Not necessary, just go buy and read this).

Couceiro’s art is very clean, his werewolves are horrifying, and I may nitpick that a few of his characters look alike, but that happens in horror movies too, and oh yeah, it’s about freaking werewolves on the moon, so I was grinning ear to ear while reading this no matter what. Casey and Gerard’s story is kept tight, they get in and out in 88 pages, and of course, leave you on the perfect classic horror note of “The End?”

As far as I can tell, this comic isn’t digitally available yet, so go ahead and order it from Amazon! They’ve got it right HERE and apparently only have one copy left, so buy it now! Again, this comic is pretty John Carpenter-y and that is one of the highest compliments I can give ANYTHING. If I ever compare you or anything you do to John Carpenter, I have said the nicest thing I will ever say to you. I love that man and his films.

Now, I’ll play you out with the classic Jewish Werewolf anthem, “Werewolf Bar Mitzvah.”

Tales From The Crypt: Horror Comic Recommendations

Tales From The Crypt: Horror Comic Recommendations

I have not actually ever read a Tales From The Crypt comic. I should. I’d like to.

Hey! Hey Future Paul! If you’re reading this, IN THE FUTURE, do one of two things:

1) Read Tales From The Crypt

OR

2) Travel back in time, and force yourself to read Tales From The Crypt prior to writing this post, AND make sure to make our past self edit this post if you half ass things and show up while this post is being written.

Anyway…horror! I love horror. I love monsters. I love crazy killers. My tastes probably veer towards the over the top but I appreciate the stuff that plays it straight too. So, as I’ve started this piece by rambling about Tales From The Crypt, you can surmise that horror is not limited to the movies, and exists in comics too. Here’s a brief list of recommendations to get you started.

The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard

This is a comic I recommend with reservations. I don’t follow the series anymore, and I don’t care for the television show. I liked it initially, but it wore kind of thin for me. However, I definitely recommend checking out the first collection if you like the show, especially if you’ve never read a comic before if only to compare the differences in storytelling and pacing. (My sis-in-law Chelsea will be doing this).

Locke and Key by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez

This is the inside of someone’s mind in this comic.

Locke and Key is the story of a family blessed with and cursed by a set of magical keys that open special doors.  Each key has it’s own unique function: such as granting access to someone’s mind, changing the holder’s sex, or allowing the user to leave their body and fly freely as a ghost. The catch is, the keys only work for those under the age of 18. The Locke kids have to understand the keys while also defeating an ancient evil. If that sounds a little Stephen King-y, well, this is written by his son, Joe Hill. But Hill is his own writer, and gets his creep on in his own way, while Gabriel Rodriguez brings the gore and violence, while also keeping things a bit cartoony, which winds up making it all the more freaky. Start with volume 1, Welcome to Lovecraft, then buy up the rest.

American Vampire by Scott Snyder, Rafael Albuquerque, and Stephen King

American Vampire offers two tales for the price of one! In the “A” story written by Scott Snyder, you get the tale of aspiring Hollywood starlet Pearl who is beset by bloodsucking Hollywood moguls (and vampires, too! Oh, me, you’re hilarious). While in the “B” story written by Stephen King, there’s the origin story of Skinner Sweet, old west outlaw as he becomes the titular “American Vampire.” The basic plot appears to be a vampire class war. The vampires that immigrated from Europe haven’t tainted their species by creating any new vampires in America. That is…until they mess up, and in Skinner create a vampire, and an enemy, that has almost none of their weaknesses. Albuquerque’s art does a great job of separating the timelines, while Snyder and King seem to be doing a great job of crafting their distinctive tales while also crafting a larger, cohesive narrative.

So that’s a start. For those who need a “if you like this, you’ll like that,” Walking Dead TV show viewers, zombie fans in general, check out The Walking Dead comic. Stephen King fans, H.P. Lovecraft fans, people who go to key parties, pick up Locke and Key. Finally, those who like down and dirty grindhouse films, westerns, vampires, and things that combine those three things, check out American Vampire. Or check out all of them…IF YOU DARE!

Consider this PART ONE of horror writeups. I’ll be back…(Vincent Price Thriller Laughter)

(Insert reference to teen rebellion song), Runaways by Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona

(Insert reference to teen rebellion song), Runaways by Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona

Being a teenager sucks. SUCKS. You’re always getting punched in the face…it’s rough. Plus girls suck, or if you’re a girl, guys suck, or if you’re a gay guy, guys suck, or if you’re a lesbian, girls suck. Stuff sucks in general. Plus no one understands you and you’re a unique snowflake and all that.

Imagine, if on top of all of that, you found out that your parents were super villains.

Did you picture it?

I know, a real punch in the face. Your world is shattered.

That’s the premise of Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona’s Runaways, a Marvel Comic book involving people with super powers and such, but not so much with the super hero-ing.

Runaways plays with your expectations a bit. It takes place in the Marvel Universe, but in a corner that’s away from the interference and watchful eyes of The Avengers, Spider-Man, or any other do-gooder. Mostly because they’re all either based in New York, Space, or The Great Lakes, while this story takes place in California.

Alex, Gert, Molly, Carolina, Chase, and Nico are all teens who see each other once a year because their parents are all friends. While they may have all had fun as children, they’re all awkward and full of hate, so hanging for these family get togethers has become a real chore. So of course, when Alex tells them all about a secret passage, they’re all up for it.

And they see their parents dressed like this:

And then their parents sacrifice a young woman who doesn’t look much older than them.

Yeah, kind of a punch in the face.

Across eighteen issues in this first series, Vaughan and Alphona tell a tale of heroes and villains, aliens, witches, time travelers, mutants, mad scientists and straight. up. gangsters. All while remaining grounded in what it feels like to be a teenager. Alphona’s art is a little rough in the first few issues, but becomes really polished. By the time you get to issue 18, you’ll be amazed at how he’s defined and evolved these characters.

You should read this comic if you liked Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Veronica Mars for sure, but also if you’ve ever been a teenager and suspected that your parents might be evil.

This series was mainly written by Brian K. Vaughan and drawn by Adrian Alphona, but Takeshi Miyazawa does a few pick up issues on art here and there, offering a more manga-y take on the series while never making it feel like a different book. A couple of other creative teams took over after Vaughan and Alphona finished their run (including Buffy creator and Avengers director Joss Whedon) but none (for me, anyway) captured the same spark or energy that the creators of these characters did.

You can get the first issue for FREE on Comixology RIGHT NOW. Then buy all the rest at $1.99 a piece. Do it. I have bought this series in individual issues, in trade paperback, and in hardcover. It’s that good. You can buy it on Amazon or at your local book store or comic shop too, of course, but read the first issue. Again, it’s FREE. Then let me know what you thought.

 

 

Reading Comics With My Pops

Reading Comics With My Pops

I told you I’d do this. I TOLD YOU! As a Father’s Day present, I presented my father with 2 graphic novels that he had never heard of and told him he’d have to write about them for this site. HAPPY FATHER’S DAY! Without further ado, I’ll let my Dad do some reviewing…he seems to be channeling Stan Lee a little bit (despite being a DC guy), so I’m adding a nickname to his byline.

Reviews of 100 BULLETS : FIRST SHOT, LAST CALL (Vertigo Comics: Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso) and CHEW: VOLUME 1: TASTER’S CHOICE ( Image Comics: John Layman and Rob Guillory ) 

By  “Terrific” Tony DeKams 

When asked by my son, the comic blogger, to review these two comics, I must admit that it proved more of a task that I bargained for in the undertaking. The last comic books I purchased were  back in 1962 when I was twelve and just beginning to outgrow my five–year devotion to any/all DC comic superheroes starting with Superman and Batman.

Comics back then were not heavy-handed in either plot or message…basically good vs. evil rehashed monthly in scenarios which changed ever so slightly in story arc. Readers became enamored with the familiarity of the environs of Metropolis and Gotham City and their over-the-top inhabitants. We faithfully put down our ten cents per comic ( twelve cents in the inflationary times of 1960-1962) wondering how our super friends would save the Earth from dangers lurking in the demonic imaginations of their evil-doing antagonists. Looking back it did seem to providee few minutes of uplifting respite from the very real dangers of atomic annihilation in our real world back then.

So, now you know where this reviewer’s viewpoint  is coming from .

Did I enjoy either one or share in the hosannas of the current aficionados of comics “suggested for mature audiences” splattered on both comics’ back covers? No. Somehow a tale about a cibopathic detective (Tony Chu…get it …cibopathics receive psychic impressions of whatever they eat…let’s leave it at that) in CHEW who struggles to uncover the murderer of a missing FDA health inspector (Evan Pepper) in a world where eating poultry is against the law does not tickle my literary taste buds. Nor does 100 BULLETS: FIRST SHOT, LAST CALL whose enigmatic Agent Graves mysteriously arrives to assist victims of all types of squalid injustices to exact revenge in a non-judgmental sort of way make me want to come back for more.

Before you twenty-something’s roll your eyes at the generation-gapped rantings of a sexagenarian, let me give credit where it is due. The noir atmosphere of both comics, more especially 100 BULLETS, creates the dismal post-apocalyptic mood intended . The detailed artwork when truly examined frame-by-frame adds so much to the appreciation of the plot.

 The tongue-in-cheek humor of CHEW made even me chuckle who was basically turned off by the subject matter and violence. Yes, the modern “mature” comic take unmistaken moral stands ( one way or the other ) dealing with issues in the twenty-first century which in itself is praiseworthy.

Perhaps if I had kept up with the evolution of the comic into its darker prisms explored since the 1970’s ,I might have a better understanding and ability to appreciate this modern genre. Sorry, Paul, you won’t see me crossing the road for chicken intrigue in CHEW or calling upon Agent Graves ( even in my darkest daydreams dealing with professorial revenge ) to symbolically reduce the population of those we love to hate . Give a much-awaited Superman  $1.00 annual issue  any day!

So there you have it. He didn’t like them too much, but seemed to appreciate the effort that went into them. So if Terrific Tony’s sticking with Superman, then I’m going to ask him to review, WITH ME, All Star Superman by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely, right here, in 30 days time. I know, I know, I was all like “superheroes: grr!” at the start of this blog, but when it comes to that genre, I’m going to treat it equal with all the rest, and tell you about the best of the best.

I enjoyed reading my Dad’s take on two comics that I enjoy, and hope y’all did too. Even if he did call himself a “sexygenarian.” That’s pretty egotistical, no?