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Announcing… The Obligatory Everything But Imaginary!

Well guys, it’s been about twelve minutes since I launched a new product, so it’s time, wouldn’t you say?

I’ve been reading comic books since about 1985 or so. Since 2003, I’ve been writing about them over at and various other places all over the internet. And now, because absolutely nobody is demanding it, I’m presenting my new series of collected features from the corners of the web, The Obligatory Everything But Imaginary.

The idea is simple: every couple of months, I’m going to gather up five or six columns, essays or reviews from my somewhat vast archives that fit a chosen theme. I’ll do a little bit of editing, add some footnotes to give them necessary context and to inject a little additional commentary, and then put them in the e-book stores of the internet. The question, of course, was what to call this not-at-all-new series of columns. Taking a page from the great Bill Watterson, who chose the title The Essential Calvin and Hobbes for a book that collected two previously published books of comic strips which themselves had previously been published in newspapers (and was therefore not even remotely essential), I decided The Obligatory Everything But Imaginary had a nice ring to it.

Today I present the OEBI Vol. 1: A Revolving Door in Heaven. As the solicit text I wrote states:

When a superhero dies, nobody thinks they’ll stay dead. When a superhero kills, everybody gets up in arms. When someone close to a superhero bites the bullet, no one knows what to think. A REVOLVING DOOR IN HEAVEN is a series of handy essays about the phenomenon of death (and life) in mainstream American comic books.

The Obligatory EBI is not a money-making proposition for me, it’s a name recognition thing, so I’m offering the volumes as cheap as I possibly can. In the store, where you can get it in any format for whatever e-reader you happen to have, it’s a whopping zero cents. That’s right, absolutely free. In the Amazon store, you can’t set a book for free unless you meet some very specific criteria involving where the book appears digitally and exclusivity and sacrificing a Peruvian tree frog at midnight on the winter solstice… long story short, this book isn’t eligible. So I’ve set it at the lowest price Amazon will allow, 99 cents. But fingers crossed, Amazon will notice it’s free elsewhere and price-match… they do that sometimes.

Anyway, however you want to get it, the book is available now. Check it out, tell your comic-lovin’ friends, and feel free to suggest topics for future volumes!

A Revolving Door in Heaven at
A Revolving Door in Heaven at



Opening Night of the Dead

Combining the wit of the Siegel City stories with an offbeat look at horror stories, Opening Night of the Dead is my little twist on the zombie tale.

From the back cover:

The Climax Studios Festival of Fear is a Halloween tradition, but with monsters roaming the theme park and a monster movie filming on the adjacent film lot, what hell will break loose when a real zombie surfaces and starts biting? When you can’t tell who’s alive and who’s undead, can a stuntman, a makeup artist, a sleaze-slinging blogger and a pair of former cops stop the end of the world from sneaking off the studio lot and infecting all of California?

Available now:


Christmas Shopping: A Quest

I very rarely Christmas shop anymore. At least, not in the traditional sense. I don’t like crowds, I hate trying to find a parking space, and sifting through thousands of items trying to find just the right one holds no appeal to me whatsoever. There’s a reason that the week after Thanksgiving’s Black Friday now begins with a day called Cyber Monday. Shopping online is far more convenient, far less frustrating, and quite often, much cheaper.

A few years ago, my buddy Mike called me up and asked if I would be willing to brave Black Friday with him. He needed a new receiver for his home theater set up, and he was hoping to get a good deal. Being a good friend, I agreed. We wound up in Best Buy, where we found that the entire store had been laid out in a labyrinth of sorts, and just like a classical labyrinth, one would have to walk the entire length of every aisle in the store in order to escape with your purchases. There was a swarm of people there, a mob in fact, and Mike and I had to charge through, pushing and shoving far more than polite young men such as ourselves are wont to do, before we finally found the electronics section… and didn’t find the component Mike wanted. We wound up driving an hour out of our way to a smaller electronics store that was also having a sale. Mike found exactly what he wanted with almost no fight at all. That store is out of business now. Go figure.

Since then, it’s all been online shopping for me. And sites like Things I Want have made it even simpler since one of my relatives found it last year. My entire family, and most importantly, my girlfriend are all on it now. Some people would argue this takes the fun out of Christmas shopping. I say these people are clinically insane. The shopping is the one part of Christmas that I’ve never enjoyed.

This is not to say I never buy anything in a store around Christmas. Far from it. But I never venture into a store with a list, desperate to find just the right thing for just the right person, because chances are I already got it online. When I’m in a store, I typically buy things that are Christmas-related. DVDs, books, CDs or trinkets to review here on the site, or things that I just think are cool. The other day, for example, I found a small Whitman Sampler tin with Charlie Brown and Snoopy, two of the greatest comic strip characters ever, featured both in their original incarnation from 1950 and their final incarnation in 2000, just before the death of creator Charles Schulz. You don’t often see the two depictions next to each other, but with next year marking the 60th anniversary of the comic strip, we’re seeing more and more cool Peanuts stuff hit the stores.

But I digress. I had hoped to take care of all my shopping this year the week after Thanksgiving, but as you may have heard, I suffered a series of catastrophic computer failures throughout the autumn months that pretty much ensured I would instead be spending the bulk of my November paycheck on a new laptop computer. This is the part that sucks about getting paid only once a month. The good news is that our usual payday, the 20th, happened to fall on a Sunday in December, which meant we’d get it on the preceding Friday. I’d have another paycheck and two whole extra days before Christmas. I managed to get a few things during the month, but yesterday when I got home I hopped online and ordered the lion’s share of what I was planning to give this year, and all but one item is guaranteed to be delivered by the 24th. Of course, it’s entirely possible that on Christmas Eve I’ll be posting a rant about not getting my packages on time, but that’s a risk I’m willing to take.

This morning, old Mike called me again and asked if I’d be willing to take a run with him to pick up his weekly comic books. I said I’d be happy to, if he didn’t mind stopping at a Best Buy. (That’s right, our previous experience did not sour us on Best Buy. Quite the contrary, I take personal credit for the fact that Circuit City shut down, because after a few nasty experiences there I boycotted it in favor of Best Buy entirely). We got in the car and headed out, and as we drove, Mike commented that “at least it’s not Black Friday.”

And, because God has a sense of humor, this is exactly the moment that we ran headlong into the bumper-to-bumper traffic.

“Yeah, you know that Black Friday isn’t actually the busiest shopping day of the year anymore, right?” I said. “The Saturday before Christmas is.”

We got home after several hours and a few unexpected adventures, and I now officially only have one item left to purchase. I know exactly where I have to go for it, but there was no way I was going to subject Mike — or myself — to the mob we’d have to fight. I’ll take my chances going Monday, when most of those loons are back at work.

And then when I got home…

I got back from our little excursion to find something really great in the mail — a large package from Thom Zahler of one of my favorite comics, Love and Capes. As you may have heard, early this year Zahler made an irresistible offer to fans: a chance to be drawn onto the cover of issue #12 of the comic. This was the big wedding issue of Mark Spencer, alias the Crusader, and Abby Tennyson. I’ve spoken at length before of just how much I love this comic book, so I’m not going to get into it again, but I am gonna talk about just how damn cool it is that Erin and I got to attend the wedding. We’re both huge fans of this comic, and to see ourselves not only on the cover, but also in the crowd in the interior of the comic (not part of the original package at all) made me absolutely giddy.

For the price of our admission, Erin and I got drawn onto the cover with such notables as Felicia Day and Dwayne McDuffie, and we also got two autographed copies of the comic and two autographed prints of the artwork, suitable for framing. I bought this around Valentine’s Day, but getting it in the mail was like an early Christmas present. Thanks again, Thom, not just for making such an incredible comic book, but for allowing us to be a small part of it. If you haven’t read it yet, the wedding issue is available in finer comic shops right now, or you can order back issues, the collected edition of issues #1-6, and assorted clothes, pins, and goodies from the Love and Capes online store. Seriously, people, I cannot recommend this comic book enough. Go out and get it now.

In fact, one could say it would make a perfect Christmas present for the comic geek on your list, couldn’t one?

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March 2023

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