Wednesday, April 30, 2008

"My Vacation....Thus Far"

As usual, I've done more each day on my vacation than I normally do at my regular job.

Chores accomplished thus far:

1) Kelzed and repainted stained areas in both the kitchen and back room where there had been water damage.

2) Scrubbed down, bleached and retouched up mildew spots on the back of the house where I had enclosed that pourch and around the bottom of the house.

3) Sprayed bleach water on the shingles on the back roof to kill any moss and algie.

4) Repainted boards where the gutters will be reattached from the man working on putting on new shingles.

5) Emptied all gutters of pollen and blossem pedals from trees.

6) Mowed the front yard.

7) Dug out my mom's flower bed and got rid of all the weeds, then replanted flowers.

8) Redid ceiling panels in both the entrance way and bathroom with new supports.

9) Other misc. chores.

10) Sat down here tonight and wrote this blog post listing what I've done to date.

Along the way I've managed to read a few comics. I'm working on "Part Two" of the Blue Beetle review, first trying to completely understand the events of the DC Infinite Crisis limited series just so I can do so. (Which is turning out to be the hardest part of it all!)

And today while I was next to the back of the house, I noticed something sticking partially up out of the ground. Digging that up I found it to be a toy pistol. When I got back inside, I scrubbed the dirt from it, and, amazingly, it cleaned up fairly well. Enough so in fact that I could read the inscription on the barrel which said: "Esquire, Amsterdam, N.Y.". Seems what I've found (after a bit of research) is a mini metal cap gun from the late 1950's-early 1960's made by the Esquire Novelty Company. HERE is what it looks like. It's approximately 6 inches in length, and was originally plated (since worn off), and the trigger/hammer spring mechanizm no longer seems to work. Worth virtually nothing save that it's just a little "buried treasure" that I can relate to: Old, worn, not quite as shiney, a little beat up, and with parts that no longer seem to work as they once did.

And I think tomorrow my wife and I may go to Elizabethtown, KY. where I can go by WaldenBooks and see if there's anything new in the way of comics I want. We'll probably go by the antique mall there as well (which has older comics for sale). Take a little break from this week of working around the house.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

"Reviewing: Charlton Bullseye"

In 1981-82, Charlton Comics decided to try a little project. They published ten issues of a title called Charlton Bulleye (a comic BOOK version of a house-fanzine with the same title).

In each issue they debuted the work of some fan artist/writer (unlike their previous 1960's title, Charlton Premiere which showcased mainly pro work). Some of these were pretty good; some not so much. But they encouraged many a fan to send them samples of their work.

Even I submitted a story to this title. It was one of the "Elmo Jenkins" strips I'm done for "the small press". My response from editor George Wildman was not too pleasant an experince for one attempting to get his work actually published in a professional endeavor. In fact, Wildman stated that (ahem!) "I had no idea as to how to do comic strip work!" Well...maybe he was right. Any hoo, Here's the infamous cover to the strip I submitted (just for my own history-sake). The interior work did indeed get published later on by a SP pubber called "High School Comics", and the Jenkins character went on to be probably the most recognizable of my work I ever did (in fact, dat's "why" the name of this blog, of course).

But...I'm rambling here. This is supposed to be a review of the title itself.

There were several stories of interest that I should mention printed within the pages of this ten issue series. Probably the most important that I should mention is that it was the last appearances of such Charlton 1960's heroes such as "The Blue Beetle", "The Question", "Captain Atom" (the cover which featured him, No. 7, shown ABOVE), and "Nightshade".

Dan Reed did the art chores for all save "Nightshade", which was both written & drawn by Bill Black (of AC Comic's reknown). Benjaman Smith wrote all of the stories for those characters. They were so-so tales and not that impressive, but at least, it was really nice to see Charlton give them all one last shot.

Other issues gave us such as Arn Saba's first app. of "Neil The Horse" (in issue #2; a character that enjoyed a lengthly run by Renegade Press), "Rocket Rabbit" by Mark Armstrong (also in No.2), work by both Gary Wray and Gary Kato in #3 (you may recalled "Mr. Jigsaw" which ran in Charlon's Scary Tales #38 as well as a title of his own, plus other work by Kato published by Ocean Comics), Martin L. Greim's "Thunder Bunny" in issues #'s 6 & 10 (a character later on published by Warp Graphics), and "some" Gene Day artwork in issue #9.

So...No.'s 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 9 & 10 are the most desirable of this set. Seven out of ten issues having something worthwhile isn't a bad average. I'm afraid issues #'s 4 ("The Vanguards"), 5 ("Warhund", a barbarian tales with a somewhat interesting style of artwork), and 8 ("weird & scary" stories), weren't up to par with the rest of the issues, but even so, for the completist, worth picking up just for a set.

At this time in Charlton's publishing history they were willing to try about anything just to stay afloat. It wouldn't be too much longer until the company finally disappeared. But this was a very good effort for them before they did and well-worth the effort to add to anyone's collections. Overall, I give this series a "B+".

Monday, April 28, 2008

"The Vacation Begins!"

For those so inclined, here's a little Stan Lee Interview from the pages of this month's SCI-FI Channel Magazzine. Sort'a interesting as he talks about his cameos in the new "Iron Man" and "Incredible Hulk" flicks, and some new animated stuff he's involved in as well. (Just a few paragraphs from the world's greatest salesman and promoter.)

And I am Officially On My Vacation! Yes, at 5:30 P.M. CST tonight when I locked the door behind me at work I began my 7 day adsence from my job, or, at least the daily job I "go to". Let's hope the rest of this week isn't as bad as it started out for me today.

You see...I forgot and left my lights on the car last night, so this morning when I got out there to go to work in it, the battery was dead. Had to wake up my wife, let her get dressed and drive me to work in her van. And (wouldn't you know it?) I left my lunch bag IN the van, so no dinner for me until I went next door and had one of the women in the office pick me up a burger when they went out at noon. Then I had to get a ride back home tonight.

I planned on coming home and hooking up the battery charger...but then it started raining (still is). Finally I resolved myself to getting up fairly early tomorrow morning and putting about a 3 hour charge on it. I just hope it hasn't run down so much it won't take one.

I have been able to save up some cash to spend this week IF I can get around to the places I want to go.

In today's mail I got in both the set of Charlton Bullseye 1-9 as well as the DC Infinite Crisis set. Reviews here soon on both.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

"Just Didn't Get That Lightning Bolt For Me"

I wish I could think of something really nice to say about the DC Shazam! The Monster Society of Evil limited series; I really do. 'Cause I'm a fan of Jeff Smith's Bone books. But I'm afraid the best thing I can say is that I won this entire four issue series cheap on an eBay auction because I really don't think I would have bought any issues past No.1 had I not.

I found no feel of the original big red cheese anywhere in the scripts. The magic that Bill Parker,C.C. Beck(and later, Otto Binder) created, simply wasn't there. In fact, the whole thing made me feel much like the disapointment I got after reading John Byrne's DC mini-series some 20 years ago, The Man of Steel, whereas he re-wrote "Superman's" history. That was one of those series where the company wanted to update a character and make him relavent to the audience of the time, and ended up letting someone batardize him into their own image.

S!TMSOE wasn't "quite" as bad as that, but over-all, I was very let-down by it. Smith reverted the original age of Billy Batson by a good three years making him not much more than a toddler when he received the "Shazam" powers, and the supporting cast was redone. And, I know it's not the 1940's anymore and certain types of stories just won't work today, but honestly, the original Captain Marvel should have been left to history and not revived by DC Comics in the first place due to their lengthly lawsuit with Fawcett (a good 13 years until Fawcett finally got tired and "gave up") save for reprinting the original material. Over the years since DC's had Cap', they've tried everything from using C.C.Beck to win back over the original (and new) readership of the character, to making him a more serious (and even at time, sinister) type of hero. I'm sorry...but their current attempt of doing something new with him just didn't get it for me. I'm straining to give the series a "B", and that's out of respect for both Captain Marvel as well as Jeff Smith.

Friday, April 25, 2008

"An Amazing Donation!"

Well it's all over the "comic news" today that the original artwork pages for Amazing Fantasy 15 (first app. of "Spider-man", of course) has been donated to The Library of Congress. If you'll click Here it'll tell you more about this generous donation.

Makes me wonder about the covers to this comic, however, and "who/whom" it might be that actually have them? There were two different covers done for that comic. One was penciled by Kirby and (presumingly) inked by Steve Ditko, and the other was both penciled & inked by Ditko. The Kirby/Ditko was used and is the icon any comic book fan worth his salt knows, although the other has been reproduced both in B&W as well as color over the years. (It's a shame we'll never know exactly how that Ditko version would have looked colored as the coloring job was done years later, rather than in 1962.)

And, speaking of artwork, I still occasionally have something new to show over on my "Unpublished Artwork" link in the right column. I change this without warning, but if you're so inclined you might want to check that out from time-to-time just to see if it's been changed.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

"Who Watches The Watchmen Producers?"

Finally finished re-reading that Watchmen TPB collection last night. It was perhaps even a little better the second time around. After reading several inks which I Googled about the forthcoming film, however, I'm not quite so enthusiastic to see it (although I'm sure I will).

Unlike series such as Sin City where its creator (Frank Miller) had a hand in the film's production and could keep a good eye on the script and costuming to make sure it followed the original concept, Alan Moore has so alienated himself from any filmed versions of his work due to total dissatisfaction in the way they've turned out.

I can't say I blame him after seeing what has happened to many of his creations. Even though I enjoyed such movies as John Constantine and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen on their own as entertaining movies, they were each a far cry from the original material (V for Vendetta, I felt, was the closest of the Moore adaptations).

But I can't totally agree with Moore's philosophy against film adaptations of his work simply because I know if I, personally, had written material which was slated for film adaptation, I'D be right there argueing each and every point to try to make sure that it was being handled correctly rather than simply signing over any rights to it and "washing his hands" of the entire matter.

Dave Gibbons, the artist of The Watchmen series, stated that he felt the film couldn't be made correctly due to it being dated material, and true, there are a lot of aspects from the original series that have little or no reverance to current world events. In the limited series we saw such figures as John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon, and The Soviet Union was invading various countries bringing the planet on the verge of a world-wide nucleur war. Today that emphasise would probably have to shift to "the middle east" in terms of nucleur treats to our civilization (or possibly, even the "far east").

The series still holds well as a classic story, though, and time pieces still work for me in films. If they didn't I wouldn't enjoy movies made of mid-evil knights, 20th. century wars, or any material which referred to past historical or fictional events. We aren't fighting the nazis anymore, but it doesn't make a film such as Cassablanca any less important or enjoyable to watch.

At first I thought the costuming looked pretty good on the various WM characters, but on second looks of these I find flaws which I feel are pretty annoying. The masks (and other points) have been altered to give certain characters in the story more of an up-dated feel, and all of this is really as unnecessary as the molded nipples on the Batman's armor. It looks like just one producer could get this right? You take the original character, you LOOK at the costuming, you tell the costume department to create an exact reproduction of the outfit. How difficult can that be?

Time will be the only way I'll be able to tell how I'll ultimately feel about The Watchman movie (slated to be released in March of next year).

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

"Hell's Bells"

Well today at work after ordering many tools and selling a trailer, wholesale drags over this entire skid of No.2-size iron dinner bells for me to rummage through whose boxes had all gotten damaged in shipping. It was a mess.

It appeared that this bunch had gotten crushed from the weight of other tools and every box there was literally all to pieces. So much so, that the most I could do was check each box to make sure the bell was complete, then use spare pieces of cardboard and duct tape to reconstruct each box. There was 13 bells, and out of these I got 12 complete ones (one missing or lost parts and with a broken yoke). Needless to say, we now have an over-abundance of large dinner bells in retail for sale.

And in today's mail I received some sets I'd won from auctions: Shazam! The Monster Society of Evil limited series 1-4 (DC), the 2003 DC Dr. Fate limited series 1-5, plus 15 misc. issues of Powers (published by both Image and Icon-Marvel). Naturally, reviews will be forthcoming.

However, first I want to finish re-reading my DC Watchmen TPB. I was looking for something good to read last night and drug that out and re-read about 1/2 of it. It's just as good as the first time I read it around 20 years ago. I'm anxious to see the movie they're making from that classic Alan Moore series (and just hope that someone doesn't screw it up as bad as their attempts of OTHER Moore material).

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

"The Grass Is Always..."

It's always something.

I finally dragged my butt out of bed around 7:30 this morning and literally just sat on the couch watching an old John Wayne western on Turner until 10:AM, then got dressed and got out of the house by 10:30. I've just been so beat lately due to every day I have one off from work, there's always something that has to get done.

And today it was mowing my backyard, plus my mom's yard. So I get the riding lawnmower going and drive it over to my yard first and finish that up, then back to her's and do all of the front yard, and about 1/2 of the back, when I noticed the mower making a different sound. I looked behind me where I'd just gone over and, sure enough, the grass wasn't cutting at all. I figure one of the belts must have slipped off. So I park the riding mower, get out the push mower and finish all of that up, as well as all of the trim work.

By that time my mom had gotten home from her part-time job and I went to help her get groceries, as well as some for myself, and by the time I got all of this finished it was 2:30 PM.; 4 hours to do a job that usually takes maybe an hour and a half.

We called a mower repair man that I knew and I told mom that I'd split the bill with her. I also told the repair man not to be in any great hurry as it'd be another two weeks before I mow again (what with the local gasoline prices).

In comic news, I got in that reprint of Tales of Suspense #39 yesterday. This is one of those premium reprint comics that were packed as an extra in the "Marvel Legends" action figure in 2006. I have a few others of these, but by far, this one is the neatest I've seen of the bunch. The cover (save for a "not for resale" notation at the bottom of the fc), is an exact reprint of the original including the original twelve cent cover price and date/number square.

Of course there's some modern advertisements in the interior and back cover, but the stories inside are pure pre-'64 "Marvel Magic" with the first two Iron Man appearances from 39 & 40 (March & April, '63) which were also his origin story and the first "golden" armor tale.

The fantasy stories from the original 39 are omitted to make room for the second IM tale from #40, but that's fine with me. I think it's pretty neat having those first two tales together like that and in color as well. Classic Stan Lee, Don Heck,Jack Kirby/Dick Ayers stuff.

Other comics due in are actually overdue. (Maybe sometime this week.)

The Countdown is on for my vacation (beginning one week from today).

Sunday, April 20, 2008

"Retrospect: The Blue Beetle"

The Blue Beetle has been around for a very long time.

First introduced in Fox's Mystery Men Comics #1 (August, 1939), makes him one of the oldest of the costumed super heroes. In fact, it wasn't until the second issue of that title that he received the familiar azure costume which would basically stay the same for many years (appearing in more of a "Green Hornet" garb in the first issue). The original GA version of the BB was, in his civilian life, a man named Dan Garrett.

Fox published this character in both Mystery Men Comics as well as a title of his own for most of the 1940's (as well as the publisher: Holyoke). For a short while BB even had his own teenage sidekick named: "Sparky". Then in the mid- 1950's, Charlton Comics acquired the rights and published a few issues as well, reprinting older tales, and he also appeared in their title: Space Adventures. His origin was also told in Charlton's Nature Boy #3(1st. issue, and this was probably BB's actual first silver-age app.). BB's popularity was such that he even appeared in a short-lived newspaper strip, and a radio show as well as a "pulp" magazine.

In the late 1950's-early 1960's, I.W./Super Comics reprinted a couple of his GA tales in a title called: "The Human Fly", then BB went into hiatus until 1964 when Charlton decided to revive him in ten issues or so of a rather uninspired series, and then he disappeared once more until he showed up as a back feature in Captain Atom as a different hero with a revised costume and origin designed by Steve Ditko(in this version he was a man named Ted Kord). He graduated to his own title and in the second issue of that the fate and true origin of the second version was told, as well as the fate of the original golden-age BB. (An interesting side note here is that in 1965 in BB V2 #5, cover dated March-April, well-known comic book guy Al Weiss's first published pro work was in the "l.o.c." page of this issue where he won a contest to redesign BB's costume!)

After the 1960 series he disappeared again, showing up only in the Charlton Portfolio(a tale originally slated for publication in the 6th. issue of the Ditko version but never published, it's been since released in the DC hardcover Action Heroes Archive V's 1 & 2) and Charlton's last showing in the Charlton Bullseye comic book #1 (1981). There were also two different reprint issues of BB published in 1977 by Modern Comics.

Later on, AC Comics got permission to do new stories of the various Charlton heroes (BB, Captain Atom, Nightshade, etc.) and he got an issue of Americomics(#3), and it was shortly thereafter that DC Comics finally got all of the Charlton character rights and reintroduced him and his fellow Charlton heroes in the pages of the limited series, Crisis on Infinate Earths. Several of these heroes got either their own titles, or at least, limited series, including Blue Beetle, Captain Atom, The Peacemaker, Thunderbolt & The Question.

Towards the end of the first DC BB title, the original GA BB was both reintroduced and killed off for good, and although BB's title didn't last but just 24 issues, he remained a constant character as part of The Justice League America (an friends) until he was assassinated in the pages of Countdown to Infinite Crisis. The character also appeared in such myriad titles as The L.A.W. limited series, Secret Origins V2, Extreme Justice, and Showcase '94 (among others) and there was also a storyline that related to BB in DC's Time Masters limited series. In truth, there's been more appearances of a character called "The Blue Beetle" in various issues of DC Comic titles total than of the previous appearances of such a character in all of the preceeding titles published by other companies before them.

If you click onto any of the links in red ABOVE it'll show you various incarnations of the character in various companies and titles. (Scans courtesy of the GCD.)

But you know how comics go. DC had killed off the original version of "The Question" in the pages of their "52" title, and revived him in another form, and thus we knew we wouldn't have to wait long until they did the same with BB because, well, not using him would be a wasted property.

And so, in Infinite Crisis, we got us a new version. One that's completely different from previous ones. As the character, Jaime Reyes, he first appeared in Infinite Crisis #3 (2/06) and as the costumed BB, in Infinite Crisis #5 (4/06). He came in the form of a hispanic, male teenager whom "the beetle scarab chose". (He wondered why the scarab had skipped over the previous BB and not given him powers, but as anyone who's ever read the Ditko version knows, the Ted Kord version did that chosing himself, and NOT the scarab.)

To summerize parts of the Origin of this newest version of BB, I turn to the two-page sequence as the back-up in Week 32 (02/07) of the "52" series.

According to that, the BB scarab was residing in The Rock of Eternity, but when the old wizard "Shazam" was killed and The Rock of Eternity was destroyed it landed on a vacant lot in El Paso, Texas. There it was discovered by teenager, Jaime Reyes, who took it home, and in his sleep that night the scarab fused itself to his spine.

When he awoke he found himself hearing babbling alien languages and seeing unintelligible communications from the scarab. In time, Jaime discovered it could create an armor around his body, as well as a number of weapons ("Transformer-like"). This whole storyline reminds me very much of "The Amazing Spider-man" and "Nova", in which both were teenagers and had powers thrust upon them unwittingly, and then had to learn exactly how to use such powers for the good.

To quote "Powers and Weapons": The Beetle Armor can reconfigure to create energy cannons, blades and shields, and wings which give The Beetle the power of flight. The A.I. ("alien intelligence") weapons system allows Beetle to look onto and track any energy source--biological, technological, or mystical".

The writers on this newest BB series on the first 14 issues were Keith Giffen & John Rogers on issues 1-6, 8-10, & Rogers (by himself) on 7, 11-14. Artists varied from Cully Hamner on 1, 2, 4, 7, 8, &10, Cynthia Martin on 3 & 6, Duncan Rouleau on 5 & 9, (and additional inkers and the like). I especially liked Rouleau's Alex Nino-ish work, but all of it has been very "acceptable" and good.

Our story opens in issue #1 with BB in the desert fighting the Guy Gardner Green Lantern. It flashes back to an earlier scene in El Paso, Texas where Jaime and his friends, Brenda and Paco are walking through a vacant lot and he finds the "Beetle Scarab". Back and forth between scenes of the GL battle, and Jaime talking with his fathe at his dad's garage, and finally to where Jaime meets an eyeless girl named "Probe", to the end where he finds himself alone and naked in the desert.

In the continuing storylines we find that Probe is a member of "The Posse', a group I would compare to Marvel's "Wolfpack" of teenagers with extraordinary abilities and powers. Flashback to the scene where he's naked in the desert but finally finds his way back home after borrowing some clothes from a Salvation Army-type deposit box and given a ride, where his family wakes up with a shock! Seems he's been gone, not just "that night", but an entire year!

This is later on explained that when he was helping members of the Justice League (in space) that he was in a dimension where time was different and what was just a short time there, was several months on Earth. Jaime also finds that his father has since lost his garage and walking with a cane due to being shot by someone gunning for one of his employees.

In continuing storylines he gets acquainted with "The Oracle" by pc (aka:"Barbara Gordon"), meets "The Phantom Stranger", travels via a 4th. World "Mother Box", eventually makes up with Guy Gardner, and even meets the makers of the BB Scarab, which turns out NOT to be of a mystical nature at all, but advanced alien technology. All along the way he discovers other powers he now possesses from the Beetle Armor.
He also finds Brenda has been removed from her home after her father's death (who had abused her) and now lives with her aunt (who's much more than meets the eye) and re-meets The Phantom Stranger when he attempts a rescue of other Posse members from a prison of their own making. We see more of a romance budding between Jaime and Brenda as well, and his and Paco's friendship takes a step further when they actually begin working together.

Paco, in fact, helps Jaime buy back his father's garage and becomes partners in that business.

Up to this point, this series is really very, very good. The only real complaint I have about the introduction of new characters these days (especially in "The DC Universe") is that you have to go through a lot of extra BS before you get to their personal stories. Such as the case with this new BB that began in the pages of DC's Infinite Crisis limited series. You really have to read all of this before you can get the whole picture of the character. Even so, it was nice to see some cameos along the way of the original Golden-Age, AND the Silver-Age BB's and it was interesting how the writers tied these older versions of the hero into the current one.

Thus far, I give this series an "A". Stay tuned for a Part II review of this title at some future date.

Friday, April 18, 2008

"Into the Weekend"

And in today's mail I received issues #'s 1 thru 14 of the current DC Blue Beetle series, which I'll be reviewing as I have time to read them. The dealer was nice enough to add a couple of bonus issues: Transmetropolitan #52 & Trigger #6 (both DC-Vertigo titles).

Although I'm very familiar with Transmetropolitan, this will be the first issue of Trigger I've read. All of which will fall into reviews later on.

Naturally I survived the "big quake" of '08. In fact, I slept right thru it as did my wife and cat. Although they asked me at work if I felt the tremor, I simply told them that at 4:30 CST this morning my wife told me "she felt the ground move", to which I replied, "You're welcomed." (*heh*)

Anyhoo...they finally got all of the shingles on the back of my roof now and just lack some touchup things like a little flashing, etc. being done with that. While the roofer was here I went ahead and asked him to give me an estimate on the small overhang roof over the back of the pantry which also needs new shingles and an old piece of rotting wood replaced. Plus I want a piece of flashing put between the back of the utility room and the adjoining enclosed pourch where it'd been leaking. Getting that done will pretty much get us fixed up with the outside of this old place at the moment save for some gutting.

I took off work at noon today because the boss lady wanted me to work for her this coming Sunday, only to have to waste both my gas and time going back to work for 20-30 minutes to repair the pc printer, simply because those still at work were so incompetant they couldn't do it themselves. Naturally everyone next door was either already gone for the day or didn't have a clue as to how to fix it. Same ol' crap as always.

I'm off tomorrow and hope to get to my comic shop where they're having a 20% off sale on DVD and CD's, but that's still uncertain. I definately want to get there on May 3rd. for "Free Comic Book Day", which runs during my vacation. Doing that and (hopefully) seeing the "Iron Man" movie will probably be the highlight for me that week.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Just Something to Think About"

You know, you don't have to spend a LOT of money to have a lot of good, newer comic books (or, in some cases, even OLDER ones). Here lately I've won a number of auctions on line for good size runs of various comics and have spent less than $50. even counting postage costs.

And I've won, in return, at least 75 comics total. For instance, I won a full fun of the Shazam! The Monster Society of Evil limited series for a mere $3.99. Had I purchased these seperately the cost would have been more than $25.

I've won a set of the first 14 issues of the current Blue Beetle series for around 5 bucks, and retail that would have been over $40.

15 misc. issues of Powers V1 & 2 for $2.50

The Golden DC Dr. Fate mini series 1-5 for .99,

29 different issues of Big Bang Comics for $1.99,

And from the 1980's the first 9 issues of Charlton Bulleye for less than ten bucks.

And there's no secret in how I did this. The keyword is simply: patience. You've got to remember that if you get outbidded on some comic or group of comics on an on line auction site (such as eBay), that there are hundreds more sellers that'll eventually put a similiar item up for bids. When the number of people that have already won a lot of such obtains the item, 99.999% of the time, they just aren't going to bid on that item again, right? So it finally gets to be YOUR turn to win, and then it's usually at a minumum bid (which is what I've won ALL of these books by).

I save a lot of money by doing this. I don't get a chance to visit my regular comic shop but a few times a year, and when I do, it's more than often on a special day they're having, such as a sale where back issues, etc. are discounted.

I win auction by minumum bids all the time, in fact, just by being patient. You just got to realize your spending limit.

For instance, you could put 40 different bids on lots that cost .99 each. Odds are that aren't going to win them all, but the ones that you do win, you got for less than a buck each. Before you start doing this however, start looking at those postage fees. They may be as high as $8.00 or more. So you need to figure out how much the grand total will be to keep your head above water, and also, you may actually be able to buy the items cheaper at a comic shop individually than pay the postage fees, especially on newer comics which the shop may still have at cover price (or just a little above).

A newer comic will cost you many times at least $3.00 a copy, so if you want the buy them at a comic shop and there's 5 issues in the run, then there's at least $15. you'll have to shell out. It's in cases such as this that on line auctions may prove (as they have many a time for myself) much cheaper.

Just something to think about when you're buying comics.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

"Blog Post #475"

DC's 52 Aftermath: The Four Horsmen limited series was published as a six issue limited series from October, '07 to March '08.

It was written by Keith Giffen, and illustrated by Pat Olliffe and John Stanisci.

Usually...I like just about everything that Keith Giffen has written. But I found this title pretty uninspiring, and the ending nonclimatic. It's not that it wasn't entertaining at all. In fact, there were some interesting issues, in particular, the final 3 of this 6 part series which featured appearances by The original Doom Patrol. And The D.P. were handled extremely well; better than they've been shown in some time over at DC. But it seems to me that this series was somewhat pointless to publish.

You have four different harbingers of destruction based on a Revelationist viewpoint that supposingly had already been destroyed by "Black Adam" in the "52" series, because the 4HM had destroyed his new Marvel Family, only to be accidently re-resuirrected by Superman and the gang. (Was this fight necessary?)

Could...just once...a comic book company NOT publish a dozen spin-offs from a series that was a bit over-rated over-all? Gotta give this one a "C" (and I'm pretty hard-pressed to do that).

And it was colder than the proverbial well-digger's a$$ today, or, at least "seemed" that way after we've been spoiled by higher temperatures the past couple of weeks, off-and-on, here in S-Central, KY. I stopped briefly by the local flea market on the way to work this morning and wished I'd worn something over my ears as that cold wind whipped them mercilessly.

I hurriedly looked through two stacks of misc. comics one dealer had on his table, priced at a dollar and up. He told me they were old. idea of "old" and his was a mile apart as I didn't see anything in there before 1979, and there's a reason why that's refered to as "the modern age of comics", you know. Still, they were right at the 30 year mark. Guess comics have to be at least 35 years old to me now before I consider them of any age.

Just misc. stuff, really. Image and the like and nothing special that I wouldn't have stuck in a "quarter box" had they been mine to sell.

Even with this cooler weather we were steady all day at work, especially after 10AM or so, and all the way up until closing at 5:30 PM. I suspect some of the traffic was spill-over from "Thunder Over Louisville" (the huge fireworks and aircraft display) which was happening today.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

"Mowing Time Upon Me"

I won a small lot of about a half dozen misc. Gold Key's recently. They are odd titles like Twilight Zone, and Dr. Spektor, but the main reason I bid on this cheap lot was the above pictured comic, Popeye #66 (10/62). It was one of those covers that really impressed me back then, and I've always had a love for various comic book "Giants".

This one, as well as #67, had 80 pages and NO ads, with a thicker-type cardboard cover. As you can see it features most all of the Popeye characters (save maybe, "Bluto"), all on a sinking ship in the middle of a sea storm.

There were only two Popeye Giant-sizers ever published, being #'s 66 & 67, and #66, was in fact, the first Gold Key issue after a lengthly run with Dell Comics. It seems like GK published Popeye a long time, but actually they only did 15 issues before the title was picked up by King Comics in 1966.

And on this day off from my regular job, I went down and got the riding lawnmower out of my mom's shed, aired up that perpectual flat tire, filled it with gas and mowed over her entire yard save for what I had to use my push mower on later on the trim work. I also drove it down to my house and mowed over my own back yard (the first time this year). Then I RE-mowed my front yard for the second time this season, the last time just being this past Saturday, but already it had gotten tall. With the price of gas curently, it'll probably only get a "good" mowing every 3 weeks to a month this year.

Then I changed the right front tire on my car. It'd been riding rough the past week or so, even after balancing out the air pressure and I feared it had a large knot somewhere on the backside that I couldn't see that might lead to a blow-out. After changing the tire to my good spare, I examined it, and although there wasn't a knot, there was a flat place in one area towards the center, and a bulge on the back rim. It'll still make a good enough spare if needed (plus I always keep one of those bicycle spares). I test drove it afterwards and it was smooth as silk. Amazing what a difference just one bad tire can make.

Otherwise my day was filled with mundane chores such as doing laundry, going to the grocery, etc., and I drilled a few holes in the underspace below my kitchen gutters area to allow some ventilation in the other roof (as suggested by the guy that's repairing same).

A pretty busy day for me and I won't have another off until aanother 5 days (next Tuesday), although I begin (hopefully) my vacation the 29th. of this month which will run thru May 2nd. ("Free Comic Book Day"). Wish I had this Saturday off as my local comic shop's having their 20% off sale on everything in the store, but..."that's life".

And, in closing, today had my daughter Alicia lived she would have celebrated her 35th. birthday. I can't imagine "where" the past 5+ years since her death have gone...but lately I've starting to feel pretty old.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

"Up On The Roof!"

As usual, what I thought might actually be a day that I could sit around and maybe (finally) relax a bit just wasn't meant to be.

As around 8AM my dentist called saying that there was an apointment that came opened for me to have this bad tooth extracted. I wasted no time and had this done and back home by 9AM.

But, being a very pretty day weather-wise here and in the 70's, the guy that's working on my roof came and started back on it early. Unfortunately, it was only him as he'd gotten fed-up with what "helpers" he had previously and had fired them all. Well...I certainly wasn't going to let him try to fix it all by himself, him being an old acquaitance and all, so I climbed up on the roof and we worked non-stop pretty much until 5:30 PM when we had the last of the heavy felt (tar) paper in place and metal flashing under some older shingles above this area as tonight it's supposed to start raining again and we certainly didn't want any more leaks.

Along the way, our good neighbor, Jim, stopped by and noticed we were working on this roof and went home and got his own hammer and nails and helped us considerably to accomplish this task. (After he left I finally ate my first solid meal in the past four or five days due to this old tooth being so sore.)

When the weather fairs up he hopes to have new help to finish this, but if not (and I'm off that day) I'll be back up there (mostly in his way, but) doing whatever I can on this. The upper part of the rear, right roof still needs to have the shingles removed and there's bad wood that'll simply have to be replaced. It appears that the last time this roof was repaired may have been as much as 60 years ago, perhaps even during WWII when there was a shortage of metal, and such things as tin was being recycled for use by the government (for the armed services). So there was absolutely no "flashing".

Also, there was as many of 5 various layers of OLD shingles, the bottom ones of which were wooden (cedar) as used back when. (WHAT A JOB!)

In other things...I called my mom to wish her a Happy Anniversary today, although it isn't officially that now since the passing of my dad. But had he lived just another couple of weeks they'd been married 65 years. It's a bitter sweet memory today and my heart certainly goes out to her.

In "comic news", I got in both full sets of the 1984 Fantagraphics' Dalgoda and the Upshot Graphics' Flesh & Bones Featuring Dalgoda limited series. What fun books these are! Wonderful storylines by Jan Strnad; delightful artwork by Dennis Fujitake! In a period of comic collecting we know as the 1980's, there was so very many great alternative choices we could read rather than something from just "the Big Two", such as Flaming Carrot, Cerebus, Grendel, Journey, (many, many more), and Dalgoda ranked right up there towards the top of my regular buying list of titles. I'm very pleased to once again have full runs of this character back into my current collection of comics.

I've won several good runs here lately, but they'll all be a while before getting to me, such as Charlton's 1980's series Charlton Bullseye 1-9, 25 misc. issues of Image's Big Bang, the first 14 issues of the current DC version of The Blue Beetle, and a small lot of 1960's-early 70's misc. Gold Key's. Currently I'm right in the middle of reading the DC 2007-08 limited series 52 Aftermath: The Four Horsemen, so that'll be the next title I'm sure to review here.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

"Some Quick Opinions, etc."

It's obviously an attempt on DC's part to make Superman a darker character in the current Justice League of America title, but he seems to come across more so on the covers that he does actually in the stories. The last two issues I've purchased of this, #'s 18 & 19, had The League battling the likes of the newest version of "The Suicide Squad", and a classic enemy from the past, "Kanjar Ro". Benes art is its typical "great", but Burnett's scripts seem a bit weak. I still give this book at least a "B+", and hope for better things.

In DC's The Spirit #11, it concludes a battle between him and "El Morte" (who has been risen from the dead by his mother to use seeking vengence against our azure-clad hero). I'd been hearing somewhat "not good" reviews about the current issues of this title, but I found them to be really entertaining. Not just this issue, but the following #12 which gives more information into the origin of the female character, "Sand". 'Wasn't too crazy about #13 with the various short stories, but overall this still ranks up there as one of my current favorite Dc titles. "A+".

Supergirl (DC) #23 was a different sort of story, with "The Batman" trying to teach Kara Jor-El a lesson on how an actual villian might try to harm her. It beat the sterotypes of how there's always some guy wanting to rule the world or have absolute power and seeks out the hero (or, heroine, in this case) to just beat them up and show their superiority over them.

Although I missed #24 of this title, #26 (already read 25) continued Supergirl's battle with "Reaction", he too not the typical villian. He already has all the power in the world, but chooses to rob banks perhaps just out of boredom. But... along the way through these various storylines, Supergirl saves a young boy from a fire, and he begs her, "Don't let me die!"

Naturally, she says that he won't and rescues him from the fire, only to be confronted by the child's parents who are not one too happy about her promise. You see...he was dying of cancer and that was what he was pleading for her to do was to save him from the death of his disease. Even so, Supergirl says she'll keep her promise, and then is attacked in the hospital room by someone from the future. They disapear from the room "into" the future, where her abductor gets killed, and then, The Bat-mEn shows up. This all sounds a bit confusing, I know, but it seems that by saving the child from death, it changes history for the worse, so obviously she's going to be torn between her promise and letting the child die.

I don 't wanna bitch about this, but really...Peter David handled Supergirl much better in his 80 issue run. And even the current version is pretty different than she was a few years back when reintroduced in the pages of Superman/Batman. Got to give it (at least currently), a "B".

Our above pictured comic today is the first issue of the 1994 Calibur Press series, Big Bang Comics which early issues of such were done in a nostalgic format resembling comics from the 1940's, the 1960-70's and finally a "modern" fourth and final issue (the series was later picked up my Image Comics where it was renumbered and continued for several years (a fun title).

Saturday, April 05, 2008

"On This Day Between Days"

Today I finally got the courage up to tackle straightening up a back room, where one half contains approximately 50 long boxes of comic books, and the other half is primarilly for storage of my wife's items (mostly crafts and craft supplies).

The comic book section never needs straightening as I always keep it nicely stacked, but wife's section (hoo boy!); she just piles her crap...ummm...stuff in that part and it's always a mess.

So about 10 AM I begin on this, and I'd brought home a dozen various size large boxes from work that I'd broken down. As I started filling these, I'd tape the bottoms back together. I worked on it straight through for 2-1/2 hours, filling up several bags of old clothing to send to Goodwill, breaking down and hauling out scores of old smaller boxes as well as several garbage bags full of nothing but trash. Many items I took out and stored in the shed, then I had to sweep the floors, etc., etc.

When I finally stopped it still wasn't all perfectly stacked. In fact, there was still three of the large boxes I'd brought home unused, but at least now it looks much, MUCH neater and one has a good walkway through the room and a clear path to the ajoining utility room.

Early this morning before I got into all of that I ran down to the local flea market for a while. There was a guy there with some comics; maybe 200 of them, but modern stuff. He wanted too much for them of course ($1.00 each), but I did pick out a half a dozen which he sold to me for 5 bucks.

What I ended up with was a 1994 "Big Bang Comics 4-Pack"(opened) containing all four issues of that series (published by Calibur Press), and two different 2003 Marvel reprints which had originally been premiums enclosed in packages of their "Legends" action figure sets.

One of the reprints is of Silver Surfer #11 (originally published in 1969), and the other a reprint of The Uncanny X-Men #129 (first app. of "Kitty Pride/Shadowcat", and with John Byrne artwork). The SS #11 was, of course, in a "Silver Surfer" action figure package and the UX was, I believe, in a package containing a "Colossus" figure.

I also stopped briefly by the other flea market where one guy had 40+ various issues of different "Hulk" series and wanted $40. for the lot. It wasn't too bad a price but more than I can afford to let go of this week, especially since I'm trying to save back money for my vacation next month when our comic book store has a 20% off sale on back issues during "Free Comic Book Day" on May the 2nd.

Besides that, I'm a little short on hard cash this week due to only having 33-1/2 hours at work this past paycheck due to being off an extra day or two during the passing of my father (they don't give us grief pay where I'm employed).

We did, however, get in our check from the insurance company to help repair our roof damage over the kitchen. Unfortunately with all of the rain we've been having the past few days (up to 5 inches) the weather hasn't been fair enough for the workmen to start the reshingling. Currently we have a huge tarp' over that area, awaiting fairer and drier conditions.

And even with the somewhat wet grass here, I got out today between the rains and tried to mow a bit since it'd gotten so tall in places, especially around the front of the house. Come Tuesday I need to try to get out the riding mower and have it ready to mow both the back yards here and at my mom's.


Thursday, April 03, 2008

"I Spy... A Comic Book!"

DC's Showcase #50(6/1964) I thought had one of the best covers of any of the silver age comics. It was the re-intro of an early 1950's DC character, "King Faraday", and it sported a beautifully composed drawing of the character parachuting into danger towards a castle, a spotlight shining on him as he shot into it. Little did I know back 44 years ago when I first purchased that comic that it was actually a reprint (even though it did have 4 new pages by Infantino/Anderson/Fox), or that this was a redoing of the cover from the original title in which Faraday appeared, Danger Trail (five issues of which were published in 1950).

When the Faraday stories were reprinted, DC chose tales from Danger Trail #'s 1 & 2, but reprinted them out of order in whcih they originally appeared. So the first SA app. of Faraday in Showcase 50 was actually reprints from Danger Trail #2, and the stories from Showcase #51 reprinted his first story from Danger Trail #1.

Above I have posted the original DT #2 cover, then below it, the SC #50, just for comparison sake. There's also another thing I didn't know. DT #3 is considered one of the most rare DC comics ever to be found from the early 1950's, and even the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide lists it as rare (10 copies of less known to exist)!

I was at my regular comic book shop the other day looking through the back issue long boxes and found that copy of Showcase 50 at what I considered a reasonable price and grabbed it up for my current collection. Great early stuff drawn by Infantino!

Other comics I picked up were issues of the current Supergirl title bringing my set to date thru #27 (save for a #24 that somehow I didn't pick up), The Spirit (DC) up thru #13 and the current JLA title up thru #19. After I've read these I'll give them a review.

Oh yeah...I also found a copy of DC's Sword and Sorcery #3 (1973) to complete that 5 issue run. Nice early Howard Chaykin work from 1973 with a cover inked by Berni Wrightson.

The only Marvel comic I got was the current Fantastic Four (#554) which I was surprized and pleased to see now being done by Mark Miller, Bryan Hitch and Paul Neary The FF hasn't looked this good in a long time and I'm glad that I started rebuying this title some time back as I'm sure I'll quite enjoy their run on the title.

Titles I've given up on include Wonder Woman and Superman Confidential (now that Tim Sale's not on it), altho I "may" regret that later. WW couldn't get any worse, and SC have at times been pretty decent even without Sale's work.

And this rain (Ghod!). I think we've had our fill of it here in South-Central, KY. now enough to last us a couple of months. Weather reports are that we'll get close to 5" before it finally stops tomorrow night, but then it looks like more in the forecast for next week! It's already made me miserable.

I awoke to what is either a severe sinus condition, or a cold, one or the other I'm not sure, yesterday morning. IF it's a sinus condition it usually lasts about three days (I've already gone thru two of those). But...if it's a cold it'll last probably off and on for ten days. I wouldn't put it past being the latter as my wife is now starting to sneeze somewhat and usually if one of us gets "something" they pass it right along to the other. (Pray for me.)

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

"Back Into The Norm"

In this week of the aftermath of my father's death, our lives have started getting back to normal.

I went back to work the day after the funeral (last Friday) and worked straight through until yesterday. My mother went back to her library job Monday as well. She's holding up pretty good. After over a year of living alone its prepared her somewhat for this situation, and she's always been a independant type, so I don't worry as much about her being there by herself. Of course, I live only three houses up from her on the same street and keep in contact with her every day and visit often.

During the course of this past week I've seen many relatives that I haven't seen (literally) in over 20 years. including a second cousin that I always joked about being my "twin sister". And the out-pouring of affection and sympathy from hundreds of friends and relatives and co-workers of the family has been quite over whelming. I can only hope that I can make just a small impression compared to what we've received from others and affect their lives in a positive manner as did my dad.

In other things...

We contacted our insurance company regarding this leak we have over the kitchen area to see if they would pay any at all in its repair and were very pleased (and VERY surprized) that they are! In fact, they're giving us enough to cover 90% of this damage which will leave us enough in savings we've put back for home repairs to cover doing the interior ceiling panels as well. Just shows the difference in ones' insurance companys. Previously we had Planter's Insurance...Now we have Farm Bureau (a highly recommended company).

Last evening the man who will be doing the repairs came by and we got up on the roof over this area and laid down a tarp until he can catch up with his current job and begin on this work. Things may finally be coming along a bit on our home here after 7 years of living in this particular place.

My first day back at work was just what I figured it would be: VERY hectic. No one had touched my section of the store in a week which led to my only being able to restock about half of what I needed. Plus I had some items that we sell already assembled and those had to be reassembled and replaced. Add that to trailer sales and "what-knot" it took the entire day to complete what I could. In fact, I wasn't even scheduled originally to work Friday but had asked my boss if I could come in and at least order tools for my section, and was scheduled to leave at 1:PM. 1:PM came and went without my being caught up and I stayed until closing, finally getting most of what I needed to restock yesterday when the warehouse reopened after being closed for the weekend.

Read today that artist Jim Mooney had died, which is yet another of my favorite creators from the silver-age of comics gone. Although he did such a multitude of work over the years on so very many titles ("The Defenders", "Omega the Unknown", "Amazing Spider-man", "Dial H For Hero" in House of Mystery,etc.,etc.) I remember him best always on the backup "Supergirl" stories in DC's Action Comics which I read many, many of growing up in the 1960's. Yet another sad loss for the comic fans.

And this afternoon while I'm off from work I'm to take my mother to the social security office in the city where my regular comic shop is, so I'm sure there's going to be some reviews of sorts here soon since I'll be stopping by to look through the new (and back) issues. I also have several eBay auction wins that'll be coming in to comment about, so's...