Posts Tagged ‘Captain Carrot


Everything But Imaginary #487: Follow the Four-Color Road

You may have noticed, but I’ve been on something of an Oz kick lately.Books, movies… and yeah, comic books. So today in Everything But Imaginary, I take a look at the land of Oz in comic books, past and present, with even a glimpse of future in there.

Everything But Imaginary #487: Follow the Four-Color Road


2-in-1-Shots Episode 1: K’Rot?

showcase logo smallBlake’s bringing in a new format for the occasional mini-episode, starting this week, the 2-in-1-Shot! When you see this, expect a quick rant on a single topic, then you can be on your way. In this first shot, Blake looks at the introduction of “Captain K’Rot” in DC’s upcoming Threshold title, then gives a quick recommendation for Jonathan Hickman‘s Avengers #1. Contact us with comments, suggestions, or anything else at!

Music provided by Music Alley from Mevio.

2-in-1-Shot Episode 1: K’Rot?


Classic EBI #104: Closing the Want List Gap

Earlier today, a chat with a buddy of mine got me thinking — is it possible that being a fan of a character may be an obstacle to writing great stories with that character? And is that something that can hold me back?

Everything But Imaginary #411: Undue Reverence

But in this week’s Classic EBI, I take a look at books I’m missing, stories that are left unfinished… the famous comic book WANT LIST.

Everything But Imaginary #104: Closing the Want List Gap

I have many goals in my life. Write a best-selling novel. Win an Eisner Award. Correctly identify all 11 herbs or spices. But then there are days where I think it would all be complete if only I could find a copy of Uncle Scrooge #295.

I realize that has to sound kind of absurd to some of you. To those doubting Thomases, I can only say, “I know you are but what am I?” However, I’ll bet most of you understand. Those of you who have been reading comics for a long time, particularly those who started out on the newsstands before discovering the miracle of a comic shop pull folder, know similar pain. We all have those horrible, glaring gaps in our collection, and we all would give anything to close them in properly.

It’s a story we’ve all lived. We get into a title after it’s already begun and now we’ve got a desperate race to find all those issues we missed. In my case, it was a late start reading Don Rosa‘s brilliant “The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck.” Over the years, at comic shops and conventions, you’d find me voraciously shuffling through long boxes, asking dealers if they had any issues and scouring the quarter bins in desperate hopes. Ronée was particularly amused the first time she ever saw me take out my want list and get on my hands and knees to peruse the less-accessible long boxes. Now, years later, I only have one issue of this run left to find, and even the news that Gemstone comics is finally going to do a trade paperback collecting this run can’t stop me from looking. I consider myself a comic book reader rather than a collector, but there are some stories worth getting the collecting bug for.

The boom of the trade paperback market has made the want list gap easier on me. I never would have read all of Neil Gaiman‘s Sandman series or the entire first series of Runaways if I had been unable to get the collections. Still, chances are there will never be a point where every single comic book ever printed will be readily available in trade paperback, and that means you’ve got to learn to dig.

I’ve completed a few runs this way over the years. I managed to piece together the entire Keith Giffen/J.M. Dematteis run of Justice League Europe, and I’m only one issue away from having a complete run of their Justice League/Justice League International/Justice League America days. By hook and crook (and hunting and searching) I managed to score a complete run of the legendary Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew. And I’m only 20 issues away from having every regular issue of a Superman title published since the 1986 revamp (that’s five issues of Superman, seven of Action Comics and eight of Adventures of Superman, for those of you keeping track).

As frustrating as it can be to hunt down those single issues, it can be even worse when it’s an entire title that you discover long after the fact. For example, I was never familiar with Bill Willingham‘s work until he did a few Sandman Presents miniseries. When he started his own Fables series, I jumped on at the first issue and immediately became a fan.

It wasn’t until then, however, that I learned of The Elementals. This was a much-ballyhooed series from Comico back in the 80s and 90s, written, created and occasionally drawn by Willingham, about a group of people who died, were resurrected with superpowers, and became hero/celebrities. Between three volumes of the regular title and a slew of assorted specials and miniseries, the Elementals lasted for over 75 issues. I, however, didn’t know anything about them… until a few months ago when my local comic shop had a “50-percent off the cover price” sale on a slew of old titles that had been sitting in the back room. I noticed Willingham‘s name on one of the covers and wound up getting the first 20 issues of Elementals Vol. 2 for a real bargain price. And now I’m stuck desperately hoping to find the rest of the issues somewhere, somehow, and for some price I can afford without going broke.

What’s more, once you’ve been doing this little dance for a while, you learn there are certain rules. For example:

• If you are looking for a single issue (for example, issue #295), they will have the issue immediately preceeding it (#294) and the issue immediately after (#296), but not the one you are looking for.

• When you finally find your issue, you won’t have the money to get it.

• If you have the money, it will be more than you really should spend, considering that you still haven’t eaten since Thursday and Aunt Imogene shouldn’t go much longer without her insulin.

• If you decide to spend the money anyway, you will be accompanied by a wife/girlfriend/other such individual who will either mock you mercilessly or make you wish you had never been born for spending so much money on a comic book.

• If you find the issue you need for a reasonable price and there’s no one there to stop you from purchasing it, you may as well play in traffic and buy lottery tickets, because you’re the luckiest geek alive.

It’s easier than it used to be. Online retailers and auction sites like eBay, plus fan communities like this one, have made it easier than it used to be to network with people and find that one last comic you need, that Four-Color Holy Grail, that last mass of paper, ink and staples that will suddenly make your life complete.

But no matter how easy it gets to find those suckers online, it can never really replace the thrill of sifting through those long boxes, catching the corner of the book in your eye, raising it up to display the cover of that issue you want, jumping up and squealing with delight and then finally bonking your head on the table you’re under. Because that’s how it always happens.

And for some sick reason, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

FAVORITE OF THE WEEK: February 23, 2005

I know, you’ve heard me talk about Uncle Scrooge quite enough in this column already. I don’t care. Last week’s #339 featured Don Rosa’s “The Crown of the Crusader Kings,” one of the best Scrooge comics in years and easily the most exciting comic to hit the stands last week. Scrooge and his nephews find a clue that can lead them to a legendary crown left behind by the Knights Templar, and they go forth on a quest to find it. Rosa seamlessly weaves a little real history into a rip-roaring treasure hunt adventure with lots of comedy along the way. This is the epitome of what an all-ages comic should be — something you can read to the kids and still enjoy yourself. This issue gets my highest possible recommendation.

Blake M. Petit is the author of the superhero comedy novel, Other People’s Heroes, the suspense novel The Beginner and the Christmas-themed eBook A Long November. He’s also the co-host, with whoever the hell is available that week, of the 2 in 1 Showcase Podcast. E-mail him at and visit him on the web at Evertime Realms. Read past columns at the Everything But Imaginary Archive Page.



Classic EBI #63: When a Book Becomes a Comic

It’s a pretty literate week in this week’s EBI. In the new column, #365: Running on the Anti-Comic Book Ticket, we discuss a Maryland state senator whose campaign has taken a nasty turn. And in this week’s classic EBI, we’re looking back at the process of turning a classic work of literature into a four-color masterpiece…


When a book becomes a comic

Adaptations have been a subgenre of comic books since the beginning. There was a time where virtually every hit TV show, from The Honeymooners to I Love Lucy, had their own comic book. In more recent years we’ve seen other crossovers like ALF or Married With Children, but these days the bulk of comic adaptations come from sci-fi or fantasy shows and movies like Star Wars and Aliens or from children’s TV shows like Powerpuff Girls.

But such adaptations are not limited to television and the movies. For nearly as long as there have been comics, some creators have tried to use the medium to adapt books. You know, the ones with lots of words and little or pictures at all. For decades there was the enormously popular line of Classics Illustrated, which retold tales like War of the Worlds, Moby-Dick, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer or even Jane Eyre as comic books. The line was immediately a hit, no doubt in large part because of students who tried to read the comic book instead of the novel when assigned the book in school. (FYI, kiddies, that trick never works.)

There have been attempts to resurrect Classics Illustrated over the years, but none have ever really caught fire the way the originals did. Blame it on the superhero glut, I suppose, or Cliff’s Notes or the fact that kids today can download papers on the books off the internet instead of reading the comic, finding an even easier way to cheat.

But just because Classics Illustrated isn’t turning books into comics anymore doesn’t mean nobody else is either. The Dabel Brothers studio (DB Pro) is really making a name for itself with adaptations of books like George R.R. Martin’s The Hedge Knight. Based on a short novel set in the same universe as Martin’s popular Song of Ice and Fireseries, albeit a century or so earlier, the story is about a brave but untested squire attempting to pass himself off as a knight after the death of his master. The six-issue miniseries was published by Image for its first three issues, then jumped ship to Devil’s Due for the last three. All six will be collected in a trade paperback soon, no doubt.

This is a great fantasy comic with a powerful story (adapted by Ben Avery) and some beautiful artwork by Mike S. Miller, who (for my money) is the best comic book artist not enough of you have heard of yet.

DB Pro isn’t resting on its laurels, though — it’s already begun comic book versions of other novels in Robert Silverberg’s Legends anthology, where The Hedge Knight was first published. Books like Raymond E. Feist’s The Wood Boy and Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time: New Spring are all in the works or on the shelves already. DB Pro has also picked up properties like the Dungeons and Dragons series Dragonlance, so there’s a lot of literary stuff to be found here, and all of it looks wonderful. In fact, if any of the Dabel Brothers happen to be reading this, I’m pretty sure I could help ‘em secure a contract to adapt a certain superhero novel that was published not too long ago…

The Dabel Brothers’ comics, like Classics Illustrated, are straight adaptations of preexisting stories, akin to Dark Horse publishing Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones. Just as Dark Horse has seen fit to expand the Star Wars universe with other projects, though, some of my favorite “literary” comics are those that take a great book and run with the idea to create something new. Perhaps the literary universe that opens itself to this the best is that of L. Frank Baum’s Oz. With literally hundreds of books, movies and stories told about the fate of his world since his death nearly 90 years ago, it is almost inevitable that many, many Oz comic books would hit the stands.

I’ve loved the Oz books since I was a child, almost as long as I’ve loved comic books, and seeing a good comic adaptation of the work is a rare thrill for me. Especially when it crosses over with other properties I love. The first Oz comic I ever saw was actually a three-part crossover miniseries by E. Nelson Bridwell, Joey Cavalieri and Carol Lay: The Oz-Wonderland War, starring Roy Thomas and Scott Shaw!’s delightfully goofy creation, Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew. In this story Roquat, the Nome King, invades and conquers the land of Oz, transforming many of our favorite characters into ornaments and sending the rest into exile in a neighboring dimension, which happens to be Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland. Our heroes don’t run into Alice, but have plenty of adventures with the likes of the Mad Hatter and the White Knight.

To defeat Roquat without their most powerful allies, though, our heroes need superheroes – even superheroes with long floppy ears. Piercing the dimensional barrier to Earth-C, the Ozites manage to recruit the Zoo Crew to join them in Wonderland and stage a rebellion to take their world back. Aside from a great, silly story, Carol Lay deserves an enormous amount of credit for melding the art styles of Shaw’s Zoo Crew with the art of classic Oz and Wonderland artists.

This wasn’t the first Oz comic, of course, (brief moment of useless trivia for you here: the first ever Marvel/DC collaboration, preceding even Superman/Spider-Man, was an oversized one-shot adaptation of MGM’s The Wizard of Oz movie), but it was the first one I read and remains a favorite.

On the other hand, some people have taken the Oz property and gone in an entirely different direction. In the mid-90s, Ralph Griffith, Stuart Kerr and Bill Bryan launched an ongoing series called simply Oz through Caliber comics. In this much darker version of the story, the Nome King and the evil witch Mombi conquer Oz (if it seems like he does that often, blame Baum — ol’ Roquat seemed to do it in every other book back in the day) and does so in a much more brutal fashion. Queen Ozma is imprisoned, the Wizard and the good witches are banished and spells are cast on Oz’s greatest heroes — the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, the Lion and Dorothy Gale herself — making them carry out his evil bidding.

As the series opens, a trio of college kids from our modern-day Earth stumble into Oz to find that the Freedom Fighters — lesser-known Oz characters like Amber Ombi, Tik Tok, Professor H.M. Wogglebug, T.E. and the Hungry Tiger — have been struggling for ten years to free their home from evil. Naturally, they join in the fight. As someone familiar with the books, it was a treat to see so much of the focus be on characters that weren’t in the famous movie, which was a fine work in and of itself but really wasn’t a very good adaptation of Baum’s work. Since the movie is what just about everyone knows, however, it was great that the comic showed off the other wonderful characters for a while. (Man, was their Jack Pumpkinhead freaky, though.)

This fantastic series does take some liberties with the property, mostly in the character designs (Bryan’s Lion and Hungry Tiger looked more like they belonged in the Thundercats cartoon than a Baum book), but it captured the spirit of the world and the characters very well, and one could easily imagine Baum’s world turning into this Oz if it had been allowed to grow up. The series lasted for 20 issues, a zero issue showing Roquat’s invasion and a handful of miniseries and specials before moving to Arrow Comics for a six-issue Dark Oz miniseries and a new Land of Oz series that lasted nine issues. I haven’t read these follow-up series yet, but I’m looking for them, and if they’re half as good as the first Oz, I have no doubt I’ll fall in love all over again. And if anyone knows if there is any chance of bringing the property back, for heaven’s sake, tell me.

There have been a few other comics based on Baum – a series called Oz Squad about an adult Dorothy acting as a double-agent between Oz and Earth, and a series of graphic novels by Eric Shanower that seem to be much more in tone with the original series, not unlike the many official novels and most of the imitators that have been published. I haven’t read either of these series, but Oz nut that I am, I’m on the lookout for them.

It’s easy to look at the comic book rack and see a dozen X-Men or Spider-Man titles and get angry about the seeming lack of new ideas. But let’s not forget that an idea for a comic book doesn’t have to be brand new to be a great one. There are a lot of great books out there sitting on the shelves of your local bookstore just waiting to make the transition to the comic book shelf. The symbiosis can work both ways as well — fans of the Oz books may pick up an Oz comic, fans of Caliber press may be intrigued enough to check out the original Baum. It’s a win-win situation, I think. We just need more studios and creators willing to take the shot.


Will Pfeifer has really done some incredible things lately. Aside from a good run on Aquaman, he’s taken one of my favorite old properties and breathed new life into it with H-E-R-O. With issue #16, Robby Reed (the original bearer of the device that turns people into superheroes) recruits the first device-holder of this series to help him find the man who’s got the device now… a dangerous, brutal man who gains the powers of a hero but none of the conscience. A superpowered killer is on the loose, and only two guys who still don’t understand their own power know how to stop him. I can’t wait to see where this comic goes next.

Blake M. Petit is the author of the superhero comedy novel, Other People’s Heroes, the suspense novel The Beginner and the Christmas-themed eBook A Long November. He’s also the co-host, with whoever the hell is available that week, of the 2 in 1 Showcase Podcast and the weekly audio fiction podcast Blake M. Petit’s Evercast. E-mail him at and visit him on the web at Evertime Realms. Read past columns at the Everything But Imaginary Archive Page.

(2010 Note: How times change. Since I write this column, the Dabel Brothers have sort of fallen apart and Baum’s Oz works are a smash hit as part of Marvel’s line of comics illustrating novels, both classic and contemporary.)


2 in 1 Showcase Episode 185: The Unsung Heroes

This week the boys line up another top ten (or seven… or eight…) episode, as they get together to discuss some of their favorite underrated characters from comics, television, movies, video games, and even a book or two without pictures. Which warriors do the guys say just don’t get the respect they deserve? And in the picks, Blake selects Superman/Batman #75 and Kenny digs on Booster Gold #35. Contact us with comments, suggestions, or anything else at!

Music provided by the Podshow Podsafe Music Network.

Episode 185: The Unsung Heroes

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Everything But Imaginary #364: What If… DC Comics Merged With Archie?

Comixtreme is back! Kind of! You can find it at for the time being, while we try to sort out the .com issue. But this week’s Everything But Imaginary column is waiting for your scrutiny. This week’s column is based on what happens when my mind starts wandering. What If?-style questions get asked. And we’re looking at a big What If this time… what if DC Comics merged with Archie Comics?

Everything But Imaginary #364: What If… DC Comics Merged With Archie?

Oh, and don’t worry, Other People’s Heroes fans. This post isn’t replacing that one for today. I’ll be up a little later. I’m editing even now.


EBI Classic #52: Spandex and Seltzer

In this week’s new column, Everything But Imaginary #356: Where Jonah Hex Went Wrong, I take a look at the latest comic book movie to hit theaters, and one of the biggest flops the industry has ever seen… and just why it was so bad. And here at the ‘Realms it’s time for another classic EBI column. From March 3, 2004…

Spandex and Seltzer

Although this column is about comic books in general (in particular, how to improve them), it’s undeniable that superheroes are the dominant genre in American comics. So let’s think for a moment about those traits that make a good superhero: he should fight evil. Simple enough. He should have a distinctive look — I don’t necessarily mean a “uniform” or a “costume,” but this character should have a consistent appearance and manner of dress while he’s on the job. Oh, yeah, one more thing. He should be funny. Really, really funny.

Okay, stop scratching your heads, I’m going to explain that one. Sure, there are a lot of spandex types that aren’t even remotely funny. The Vision, for instance, is a typically cold, stoic character, and as good as Supreme Power typically is, it’s not a title that will conjure up a lot of laughs.

But superheroes, as much as I love ‘em, are sort of a silly concept to begin with — people who put on tights and capes and run around beating up muggers… this is not the product of a well-balanced mind. So melding superheroes with pure comedy is something that has been tried again and again over the years, frequently with very good results.

You can find examples of comedy superheroes as far back as the Fawcett Comics Captain Marvel series (reprinted as Shazam! in the DC Comics Archive collection). While early adventures of this character attempted to be a bit more serious, in line with contemporaries like Superman, within a few years the writers realized how silly a concept they really had — a small boy who could say a magic word and become a grown-up superhero — and began to have fun with it. They introduced characters like Mr. Tawny, the talking tiger, and goofy villains like Mr. Mind, an alien worm that could crawl in someone’s ear and control their brain. (Kudos to Geoff Johns for resurrecting the concept in the recent JSA/Hawkman crossover, by the way.) You had looney villains like Dr. Sivana, whose every scheme seemed to include capturing Billy Batson and preventing him from saying his magic word until the gag fell away or something, then Captain Marvel would wipe the floor with him. Basically, you had some lighthearted, fun comics that are still a joy to read today.

A contemporary of the big red cheese, of course, was Jack Cole’s Plastic Man, a stretchy hero with a sense of humor when he fought crime. He paved the way for wisecrackers like Spider-Man, and currently he’s being used in his own series by Kyle Baker, who is doing the best Plastic Man since Cole himself. (Although there was a late-80s miniseries by Phil Foglio and Hilary Barta that never gets enough credit.)

Superheroes then faded, then came back, then got corny, then got “relevant,” then got gritty, and at this point it seemed like people would rip the hair from their skulls at how depressing superhero comics were. Sure, there were a few exceptions like the silver age Legion of Super-Heroes. That was a pretty cutting edge title at the time, with characters actually dying and turning bad or getting kicked off the team, stuff that you didn’t see in other superhero titles, but at the same time there was still room for fun, goofy characters like Bouncing Boy, Matter-Eater Lad and the Legion of Super-Pets.

Then came the 80s and two of the best humor superhero concepts ever. First was Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis’s Justice League. Coupled with artists like Bart Sears and the great Kevin Maguire, these teams lasted for five years on two titles that took our classic DC icons and made them funny as all get-out. They turned second-stringers like Blue Beetle and Booster Gold into Abbott and Costello for the spandex set. They made Guy Gardner a pansy with a blow to the head. They turned the Martian Manhunter into an Oreo fiend. Their ideas got goofier and goofier and worked more and more, and thank goodness they came back last year with the Formerly Known as the Justice League miniseries, because we really needed it.

The other good superhero comedy of the 80s was John Byrne’s take on the formerly “savage” She-Hulk. Originally just a carbon copy of the Hulk with a supermodel figure, Byrne saw the inherent goofiness in a seven-foot green attorney/superhero and went one better. In Byrne’s title, the She-Hulk actually knew she was in a comic book, and would frequently break the fourth wall, talking to the writer, to the reader, and using gags like “Meanwhile” captions to help her travel much faster. It was incredibly funny stuff, and after Byrne’s run on the title ended, other writers tried to copy his style but it was never quite the same. If you can find back issues of either of his two runs on the title, they’re worth picking up, though.

So what have we got these days if you want superhero humor? Aside from the aforementioned Plastic Man, not much. Sure, some books like Spider-Man still crack a lot of jokes, or maybe Mark Waid will give us a particularly funny issue of Fantastic Four, but that’s not the same as a regular humor fix. Doug Miers did a great series a while back called The Generic Comic Book, which starred a Generic Man fighting generic villains and cracking up the reader in the process, but that only lasted 13 issues (although there is the promise of a Generic Mini-Series later this year).

Occasionally you’ll get a comedy miniseries like the anxiously awaited I Can’t Believe It’s Not the Justice League or the fantastic Gus Beezer specials Gail Simone did before she went exclusive to DC. Bongo comics still does occasional issues of Radioactive Man, taking Bart Simpson’s favorite comic book and using it to poke lighthearted fun at all eras and styles of superhero comics, but the ostensibly quarterly series seems to take longer to come out with each issue.

I want more. I want to be able to laugh more at our buddies in tights. I’d like to see the Defenders return as a comedy series (because let’s face it, with a name that generic humor is an obvious ingredient). I’d like to see a sort of “buddy movie” miniseries with famous buds Wonder Man and the Beast (kind of like Roger Stern did a few years ago in his Avengers Two miniseries, but funnier).

Blast it all, I want to see the Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew meets Peter Porker the Spectacular Spider-Ham crossover classic.

So what makes you laugh about guys in spandex? What Are some good superhero comedy titles that I missed? What’s being published right now that I should know about? You know what they say, laughter is the best medicine. And if your general practitioner is Doctor Doom, you want to stay away as long as possible.

FAVORITE OF THE WEEK: February 25, 2004

Speaking of the Legion of Super-Heroes, Legion #30 easily took my award for best comic last week. The conclusion of the “Foundations” storyline sees the Legion along with a time-tossed Superboy and a brainwashed teenage version of Clark Kent take on Darkseid, who has kidnapped and perverted heroes from the past in his own bid to rule the universe. Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning have crafted an epic to rival “The Great Darkness Saga” as one of the best Legion stories ever told, and Christ Batista’s pencils have never been better. I’m sorry to see this writing team leaving the book, and whoever is coming in after their five years of stewarding these characters has a very tough act to follow.

I still miss Matter-Eater Lad, though.

Blake M. Petit is the author of the superhero comedy novel, Other People’s Heroes, the suspense novel The Beginner and the Christmas-themed eBook A Long November. He’s also the co-host, with whoever the hell is available that week, of the 2 in 1 Showcase Podcast and the weekly audio fiction podcast Blake M. Petit’s Evercast. E-mail him at and visit him on the web at Evertime Realms. Read past columns at the Everything But Imaginary Archive Page.


Everything But Imaginary #316: Somebody’s Favorite

One thing I’ve learned in my years of columns, reviews, and podcasts. Every single comic book character — no matter how obscure, how poorly-written, or how outright goofy — is the favorite character of SOME fan. And boy, will they let you know.

Everything But Imaginary #316: Somebody’s Favorite
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