Posts Tagged ‘Hellboy


Classic EBI #192: How Do You Buy For Your Geek

Valiant Comics is back! Again! Really this time! With their newest announcement, I go over the history of Valiant, from their first signs of trouble (:coughACCLAIMcough:) to the revelation of their Free Comic Book Day cover for 2012, and I give those working for the company a few suggestions.

Everything But Imaginary #427: Valiant Comics, You Dirty Tease

But going back in time, we’re sticking with Christmas, and another of my “buying for the geek on your list” columns, this one from 2006.

Everything But Imaginary #192: How Do You Buy For Your Geek?

The countdown has begun, friends. We’ve got less than a month left until Christmas, Kwanza, Chanukah, National Boll Weevil Appreciation Day or whatever it is you personally celebrate. No matter what, the time has come to start your shopping in earnest, because pretty soon the time will come to start handing out those gifts.

And as those of us who proudly gather under the Geek Umbrella know, this is the time of year when we both give and receive those great gifts that come with our heritage: comic books, DVDs, statues, toys, pencil boxes with the Punisher’s logo on them… in this day and age, there are more geek goodies available than ever before. So as has become something of a tradition here at Everything But Imaginary Global Headquarters, today we’re going to talk about some of the goodies currently available for the Geek out there. Now for most of you, you don’t need this list. The people in a Geek’s life are often non-Geeks, and when you do have a fellow Geek to shop for, you can pretty easily figure out what to get for them. So this guide isn’t for the regular EBI reader. No, my friends, this is a guide for your family and friends. This is a checklist of the New and the Cool out there in comic stores and retail outlets alike. Today we’re gonna talk about the swag you want for Christmas, so print out this column and conveniently leave it lying around where the clueless loved one may happen to find it. Trust me, you’ll thank me later.

As a Geek, perhaps the second-greatest shared obsession (second behind comic books, of course), are DVDs. Right now, there are a lot of ‘em out there. Superman fans have entered a golden age. Just yesterday saw the release of Superman Returns in two editions (a barebones and a two-disc special edition), plus a 14-disc collector’s edition that collects it along with all four of the original Christopher Reeve movies, the director’s cut of the original Superman and the never-before seen Richard Donner cut of Superman II. I haven’t had a chance yet to view the Donner cut (which is also available separately), but several reliable sources (i.e. Mark Blicharz) are reporting that this original version, what the movie would have been had the Salkinds not fired Donner before the movie was completed, is the best superhero movie ever made. And I believe that – even the original cut was close, only the cheesy ending prevented it from reaching that peak.

If you’re not up for the greatest superhero movie ever made, how about the greatest superhero TV show? Justice League Unlimited, having been prematurely ushered from the airwaves by the knuckleheads at Cartoon Network (do I sound bitter?) has now hit the DVD shelves. Spinning off the original solid Justice League cartoon, the new series added dozens of other DC characters to the original seven Leaguers, often giving minor heroes the spotlight and making some of the most exciting moments in superhero history. This show was just plain brilliant, and even if there aren’t any new episodes in the making, I can watch the old ones again and again. And again.

If you’re not in the market for DVDs, how about home décor? Comic geek statues are becoming pretty big these days. DC Direct’s “Women of the DC Universe” line, for example, shows off the likes of Power Girl, Supergirl and Harley Quinn as designed by Adam Hughes. Graphitti Designs has statuary showing off Jeff Smith’s Bone characters, View Askew stars like Jay and Silent Bob, Bernie Hogarth’s designs for Tarzan and the stars of the classic Tales From the Crypt comics.

Speaking of those classic comics, Gemstone has begun a new line of archive collections of those old EC Comics titles, like Weird Science, Shock SuspenStores and Tales From the Crypt. Add this to already venerable archival lines such as the Dark Horse Archives, DC Comics Archives and Marvel Masterworks, and there are thousands of classic, legendary comics available for the Geek in your life.

Ah, but you don’t have anyone on your list interested in the classics of the past, you say. Your friends are looking ahead, to the new technologies. Not a problem, Marvel Ultimate Alliance, which is getting rave reviews, is available for virtually every video game platform there is. If you’ve got a friend who managed to fight through the crowds and win one of the estimated twelve Playstation 3 units available in North America (or if you’re stuck in the past and still playing on a PS2), they can now suit up as Spider-Man, Captain America, the Fantastic Four or any of 20 playable characters, then throw down with dozens of different villains. A good gift for the comic geek or the gamer on your list.

Similar to statuary, prop replicas are becoming a big business as well. Quantum Mechanix has begun a line of replica props from the movie Serenity, such as Alliance Money Packs and Captain Mal Reynolds’ pistol. There are tons of props available for such movies as Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Batman Begins and Hellboy, and now comic book props are available as well. You can own Green Lantern’s power battery or Captain America’s mask. These last few have always kind of perplexed me, actually – how do you make a replica of something that, technically, never existed? Ah, well…

Dark Horse Comics, always a home for quality collectibles, is putting out a ton of cool stuff too. They’ve got plenty of statues and books, but also unique items like lunchboxes, playing chards, Zippo lighters, Christmas tree ornaments and Syroco-style figurines featuring classic Peanuts characters, Golden Age DC heroes and even Kellogg’s cereal mascots like Snap, Crackle and Pop and Tony the Tiger.

What about the young geeks out there? As a medium, comic books need to make an effort to lure the young, after all. The good news is, there’s stuff out there for them too. The Marvel Adventures and Justice League Unlimited digest paperbacks are solid reads, and it’ll always be fun to stuff a stocking full of Archie digests. If your kid is into Disney, you can give ‘em a gold mine, with stuff like Gemstone’s The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck and The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck Companion. These books aren’t just for the young – they’re some of the best comic books ever made, bar none.

It really is a wonderful time to be a Geek, friends. There’s more stuff out there for us than ever before. So what are some of the things on your wish list this year? What neat goodies are you hoping to find under the tree? Share your wish lists with us here. And here’s hoping you get everything you need, and a few things you want.

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, and check out his new experiment in serial fiction at Tales of the Curtain.


Classic EBI #58: From the Movie Theater to the Comic Shop

No new EBI this week, because Erin is here and she wins. but I can still bring you a blast from the past…

April 14, 2004

Everything But Imaginary #58: From the Movie Theater to the Comic Shop

A week ago, we here at Everything But Imaginary Global Headquarters talked to you about the current crop of comic books that have been turned into movies. What, you don’t believe me? Go ahead, click here to read last week’s column. Remember now? Ah, good times, huh? (Sigh.)

Anyway, our discussion last week was about how we’re getting a lot of pretty solid comic-book-to-movie adaptations these days, and that’s a good thing. The question, though, is whether or not those movies ever translate into higher sales of the comic book. Unfortunately, I think the answer is probably “no.” Or at the most optimistic, “not for long.” When Spider-Man was released in 2002, it was seen by millions of people, but of those millions about three new people picked up comic books, all named “Bernie.” That wasn’t quite the windfall we want if we’re going to get comics out of the shadowed corners of the artistic spectrum and make them big again.

There are a lot of ways that visibility can be increased. One of the most obvious is the premium giveaway — this has happened to me twice in recent years. When I went to the opening-day showing of X-Men, I got a movie prequel comic, and when I went to the Empire Strikes Back: Special Edition premiere, I got a free Star Wars: X-Wing Rogue Squadron #1/2 special. This was extremely cool to me, and cool to my friends as well. Unfortunately, most of us already read comics on a regular basis, so we weren’t the target audience. There were others in the theater with us of course, adults and children who got the free comics, several I even saw reading them while waiting for the movie to start, but how many of them actually went out afterwards and found a comic book shop to pick up the next issue? Painfully few.

The implementation of Free Comic Book Day has been a real help with this idea, and tying it in with a major comic book movie is a good plan — if it’s marketed properly. This year’s FCBD will be the Saturday after the Wednesday premiere of Spider-Man 2. If people like the movie, they may want to check out some comics, especially if they know they can get them for free. That’s the tricky part: if they know. Would it be that difficult or expensive for Marvel to perhaps attach an ad to the beginning of Spider-Man 2 (if you put it at the end nobody will be there to see it) telling the audience “Get free comics this Saturday! Go to to find the store nearest you?” That would be three days of advertising to the people who’ve got time off in anticipation of the coming July 4 weekend – if that doesn’t drive up business to comic book stores, what would?

Oh yeah. The store. That’s problem number two.

I keep harping on this, I know, but it’s important. As much as I love the comic book store, keeping the focus on direct distribution is just a case of preaching to the converted. People walking out of a Hellboy theater last weekend or a Punisher theater this weekend, having enjoyed their respective films, may be interested to read more about the characters, perhaps in that clever 25-cent Hellboy: The Corpse special, but how will they do so if they don’t go to comic shops already? Let’s say this person (we’re going to call him Fred for the sake of expediency) is already a voracious reader. Fred reads lots of novels, magazines, newspapers, etc., and has no preconceived notions about comics being just for kids. But Fred doesn’t know where any comic store is, so how is he going to learn more about Frank Castle?

Here’s our chance: Fred does go to the bookstore. His bookstore may even have a graphic novel section, but he doesn’t browse it much because it’s near the back and 75 percent of it is Japanese Manga. We need a display of Punisher trade paperback in a visible area. We need a reprint of Garth Ennis’s Welcome Back Frank TPB with a photo cover of Thomas Jane. And most importantly, we need an outlet for the monthly books there as well. We need bookstores to carry comics that we never would have dreamed of selling outside a comic book store ten years ago. Something that amazes me is that our local Border’s not only put in a spinner rack some time ago, but it carries Vertigo and Max titles, recognizing that more mature people are reading comic books. Fortunately, the bottom rows still consist of Archie and Powerpuff Girls, where the kids can still get to them.

Once we’ve got Fred looking at these comics, and I hate to say it, I think we need to keep him away from movie adaptations, for the simple reason that most comic book movie adaptations just aren’t very good. Now I haven’t read the Punisher adaptation, but most of them I’ve read suffer from the same problems over and over again: the dialogue doesn’t work as well in the comic as on the screen, too much is cut out to make it fit in 64 (or 48 or, Heaven forbid, 32) pages, the action scenes don’t work because of a need to replicate camera angles and the artwork suffers as the artist struggles to replicate the faces of the actors from the film. There are exceptions to this rule, and if any fine writers or creators of movie adaptation comics happen to be reading this column, rest assured, your stuff was just plain brilliant, but in general these adaptations just don’t work. So what if someone sees a comic-based movie they like and then pick up a lousy adaptation as their first exposure to the real comic? We’ve just lost a potential reader.

And finally, I think it’s important to play up films that are based on lesser-known comic book properties. A couple of years ago I was buying a DVD and the checkout girl at the bookstore commented upon my choice of movies. We talked for a few minutes and she asked me if I’d ever been to the local New Orleans arthouse cinema.

“Sure, I’ve been there,” I lied. I’d never been there in my life, mostly out of a desire to stay entirely out of New Orleans proper without a really good reason, such as my mother is dying of an alien ailment and the only cure is the sludge that collects against the docks at the New Orleans Riverboat casino and my brother lost his car keys. But the checkout girl was cute and I wasn’t about to tell her that.

“Have you seen Made?” she asked.

“No, I haven’t, but I’ve heard good things about it.” This time I told the truth.

“I haven’t seen it either,” she said. “There’s this other one playing I want to see too, it’s called Ghost World.”

I ask, “Isn’t that the one based on the comic book by–”

Daniel Clowes,” we both say at the same time.

It was at this point that I realized that a line was accumulating behind me and people were beginning to give me dirty looks, so I paid for the DVD and left. When I got to my car, two things soon occurred to me:

1. Idiot. You should have asked her to the movies.

2. Hey, she not only knew about Ghost World, she knew who did the comic it’s based on.

Now granted, you would expect your average bookstore personnel to have a bit more savvy about that sort of thing than Joe Schmo, but she was probably the only person I talked to about Ghost World that knew it was based on a comic book. Similarly, nobody knew From Hell was a comic book first when that film came out, and you should have seen the strange looks I got from people when I tried to tell them about the Road to Perdition comic. A few people knew that American Splendor was a comic, but since the movie is about the guy who wrote the comic, they would have to be as smart as your average Warner Brothers executive to let that one slip past them.

I’m seeing a lot more of Harvey Pekar’s Splendor books on the stands these days, and Max Allan Collins finally got the chance to continue the Perdition series, but the readership spreading across the board just hasn’t happened. Perdition, Ghost World and Splendor all got Academy Award nominations, for Heaven’s sake! If that can boost sales for books like Master and Commander, Cold Mountain or a little tome called Lord of the Rings, why can’t it work for comic books?

It’s all about perception and exposure, folks. Go rent those movies I talked about, watch ‘em with some non-comic fans and then give them the original graphic novels. Watch their eyes bug out. We all want comics to be bigger and better and movies are just one way that can happen.

If only it’s done right.


Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray and Phil Winslade have taken an early lead in the race for the EBI “Best New Title” award with their great comic The Monolith. The third issue, out last week, finishes off the first story arc in which Alice Cohen inherits a house from her grandmother only to find an incredibly powerful Golem (a mystical warrior from Hebrew myth made of clay and blood) walled up in her basement. People upset over the demise of Sentinel should give this book a chance, as the story has a lot of the same “boy and his robot” feel to it, and since only the first three issues are out, it should be relatively easy to track them down and give this worthy comic a read.

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.


Classic EBI: Demons, Castles, and the House of Mouse

In today’s Everything But Imaginary column, I expend a bit upon something I mused over here Monday — the idea of a storytelling universe where the world is the real star instead of the individual characters. When has it worked? How does it work? Will I try it myself?

Everything But Imaginary #360: Share the Universe!

And in today’s EBI Classic, let’s step back to March 7, 2004, just before a summer where a lot of superhero movies were about to cut loose, and how that made me feel…

Demons, castles and the house of mouse

Sunday evening I got an e-mail from my Uncle Todd. “Hey, looks like the Hellboy movie is number one this weekend,” he wrote. “That should make you feel good.”

“Actually,” I wrote back, “what makes me feel good is that the movie didn’t suck.” Comic book movies, at least over the past 15 years or so, since the first Batman, seem to have fallen into two categories: critical and commercial successes that pundits predict will birth a new breed of comic book readers that never actually show up, or major flops that the comic reading publish wishes people would rather forget but know inevitably will be trotted out as a comparison the next time a comic book movie is made. We’ve been lucky for the last few years. Marvel hit it big with the first Blade movie after 30 years of terrible attempts at movie and television projects, but Wesley Snipes seems to have been a magic charm, because Marvel movies have been, for the most part, very good since then. (Yes, I know some people didn’t like Daredevil or Hulk, but I did like ‘em and it’s my column, so nyeah.)

Most of these characters, with the exception of Blade, were at least moderately well-known to the public at large before the movie came out though, and even Blade had the force of coming from powerhouse Marvel Comics. I’d been wondering what would happen if someone made a good movie based on an obscure character from a smaller company.

Enter Hellboy.

Even I, geek that I am, didn’t know a tremendous amount about Hellboy. I’d read his first trade paperback, Seed of Destruction, and a few random other appearances, but I didn’t carry around much knowledge of who he was or what he did. What’s more, I was a little worried about a live-action movie because, even with a great actor like Ron Perlman in the title role, the character’s makeup looked a little campy and I was afraid it would turn people off. Still, it was a comic book movie, and since the mission statement of this little column includes trying to get more people reading comics, I took it upon myself to see the film and determine if it could potentially help.

First, the movie itself. Was it campy? Yeah. Was the makeup a little hard to swallow? Sure. Goofy dialogue and slightly unbelievable romantic subplot? Oh yeah. Nazis as villains? Boy, there’s a twist.

But was it fun?


While not as tongue-in-cheek as, say, Batman and Robin, Hellboy was a movie that knew it was taking a kind of silly premise and had fun with it. What’s more, the actors looked like they were having fun, and that sense of fun jumped out and grabbed the audience. Joel Schumaker, in directing the last two bat-flicks, took the sillier parts of the premise and played them up, utterly disrespecting the character. Guillermo del Toro (who, not coincidentally, also directed Blade II), had fun with the silly parts but respected the serious parts, the characters, the creators and, most importantly, the fans. I walked out of that movie theater feeling cheerful, ready to see it again and ready to pick up the DVD.

Ah, but the test is whether or not it will get people to read Hellboy comic books. Well, I already had the second trade on order, and I’ll be on the lookout for some stand-alone comics on my weekly trip to the comic shop this Friday, so it certainly scored with me on that account. But I’m an easy sell, I needed to talk to people who don’t ordinarily read comics. So I did. Friends, family, co-workers. And here’s the thing: while not all of them are necessarily going to go run out and start buying the complete works of Mike Mignola, every single person I talked to was aware that Hellboy was based on a comic book. That’s unprecedented. Sure, most of ‘em knew Spider-Man was a comic, but they hadn’t heard of Daredevil and an awful lot of people thought X-Men and Hulk were based on the old TV shows.

So how on Earth did a little niche comic like Hellboy get it right?

Well, part of it may be the fact that the character didn’t have the stigma of a Saturday morning cartoon or an old Lou Ferigno TV show to live down, so people had no expectations. But it’s not like it’s being promoted as “Based on the comic book by Mike Mignola!” or even as “From the same guy who drew those purty pictures for Disney’s Atlantis movie!” I think the real reason is actually very simple: even from the earliest trailers that had me worried about the makeup, Hellboy was a movie that looked like a comic book. Now a lot of the time people say that in a detrimental fashion, but I mean it as the highest compliment. From the garish colors to the freaks in makeup to the incredible amount of energy on the screen to the overriding sense of excitement that the movie generated, even with a character no one had heard of who didn’t have a cape, this felt like the beautiful image people have in their collective conscious regarding superheroes (at least, the conscious of people who aren’t snobbish enough to deride anything with a superhero as being infantile).

Like I asked, will it get more people to read the Hellboy comic book? That remains to be seen. At any rate, I doubt it will pull in huge numbers except possibly from the preexisting comic book reading market. But one thing that is undeniable is that the movie has made people more aware of comic books, and that is a very good place to start.

And what gets me most excited is that there are still tons of comic book properties coming down the pipe. In just a week and a half the Punisher movie will premiere starring Thomas Jane as Frank Castle. I’m a little wary about that one, to be honest – I like Jane (he’s fantastic in 61*, my pick for the second-best baseball movie ever made), but the trailers disturb me. Especially the costume. Look, points to Artisan Entertainment for actually putting him in the skull as opposed to the tank top we had to sit through in the godawful Dolph Lundgren version of the character back in 1989, but couldn’t they have found a way to do it that doesn’t look like he’s wearing a silk-screened T-shirt?

(2010 Note: I rather did like the Thomas Jane Punisher film –and even if you didn’t, if you try to tell me that Punisher: War Zone was better, I will punch you in the spleen.)

Regardless, the Punisher is a much more well-known character than Hellboy and, again, I shall see the film for research purposes. Hellboy surprised me. Maybe this will too. My friend Jenny, I think, has the best attitude about the film. She has decided just to watch the flick and look for references to Garth Ennis’s run in the title. Well… if nothing else, Spacker Dave and Joan the Mouse are in the movie.

Then later this summer we’ll have Spider-Man 2, a film that will be fun, action-packed, true to the characters, a delight to watch and will leave a thousand over-hyped fanboys who went into the film expecting the second coming of Christ complaining about how much it sucked. (You don’t believe me? Let’s lay odds.) Spider-Man has certainly done more to boost comic books in the public consciousness than any film in recent memory, but I seriously think Marvel has bungled their end of it. Aside from launching Ultimate Spider-Man, they haven’t made any real strides to reach out and grab new readers, and that’s what is really needed.

Also this summer we’ll have Halle Berry in Catwoman. Let’s look at a photo of her in the costume. (You’re going to want to click on it to get a full-sized image for the complete impact):

Okay, now let’s talk about something that doesn’t make me want to wretch. This fall we’re going to have a film that, while not actually based on a comic book, does feature superheroes – Pixar’s The Incredibles, a comedy featuring the voices of Craig T. Nelson, Samuel L. Jackson and Jason “No Middle Initial” Lee. Pixar is a studio that has never failed to enchant me – even their weakest film, A Bug’s Life, is head and shoulders above anything almost anyone else is putting out for children, and if nobody has snapped up the rights to do a comic book based on this film yet, they’d better get in gear. (Gemstone Publishing? I’m lookin’ at you, buddy.)

So what else is in the works? Well, there’s been a Fantastic Four movie in the hopper for as long as I can remember, and supposedly there are film versions of every Marvel character from The Silver Surfer to Iron Fist waiting to make waves. Over on the DC side they finally gave Batman to a good director (Christopher Nolan) and a good writer (David Goyer, who wrote the first two Blade flicks and is currently writing and directing the third one). There’s also talk of a new film to resurrect the Superman franchise, but that’s been in production hell for so long that I’ll believe it when I see it. And even then, I won’t believe it unless I see a signed affidavit stating that Tim Burton and Nicolas Cage were not allowed anywhere near the film. (Don’t send me hate mail, I like them both, I just don’t think either of them are right for Superman.)

Robert Rodriguez, who has yet to take my advice about him doing a Madman movie, is set to begin work on a star-studded adaptation of Frank Miller’s Sin City comic book. Even comic book geek-turned filmmaker-turned comic book writer Kevin Smith has announced he’s going to be taking time out of his hectic schedule of not finishing Daredevil: The Target #2 to make a Green Hornet movie for Miramax. The man may not finish writing his comics very often, but no one can deny he loves ‘em, and I expect that movie to be a lot of fun as well.

And not so long ago it was announced that my personal favorite superhero comic, Kurt Busiek’s Astro City, is in the works for a feature film with producer Ben Barenholtz, who has done a lot of work with those delightful little scamps The Coen Brothers (of Fargo and O Brother, Where Art Thou? fame).

Finally, let’s think about all the great comics that have the potential to be great movies. Special effects have finally reached the point where a Green Lantern movie may be feasible, and I’d do anything to see a great cartoon adaptation of Jeff Smith’s Bone, Doug TenNapel’s Creature Tech or Mike Kunkel’s Herobear and the Kid.

So if you’re a comic book fan who loves movies, this is a very good time for you.

But what if you’re a movie fan that wants to get into comic books?

Good question. I’ll see if I can answer it in just seven short days.

Favorite of the Week: March 31, 2004

Much like I expect people who expect too much of Spider-Man 2 to be disappointed with the film, I think the same plague took a chunk out of my favorite title last week, Avengers/JLA #4. After 20 years of buildup, it was inevitable that some people wouldn’t like the book. I, on the other hand, loved it. From the damaged timestream allowing us to see practically every Avenger and Leaguer ever fighting together, to spot-on characterization of Superman, Captain America, Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) and Barry “Flash” Allen, not to mention beautiful artwork by George Perez and Tom Smith, this miniseries was everything I wanted it to be. All comics should be this good.

(One more 2010 note: It’s interesting, looking back at this column. Some of the movies I discussed here were hits, some of them were flops, some were never made. I completely forgot that Astro City had been optioned, because nothing ever came of it. Oh, and we’re all still waiting for Daredevil: The Target #2.)

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.


Time Travel Tuesdays: Son of the Best Comics I’ve Never Read

Well friends, with the great Comixtreme changeover finished, it’s definitely time to use Time Travel Tuesday to re-present all the lost EBIs, since there will be more of them soon. So let’s just go to the oldest column I’ve got that you haven’t seen elsewhere. This is from February 25, 2004, a column I wrote about going in and reading some comics that were recommended to me by well-meaning readers…


Back in November I sat down with you, my rabidly devoted readers, and we had a long chat about some of the best comic books out there that don’t get enough attention, as well as some of the best books I haven’t read but that you guys think are in the upper eschelon of comic book goodness. (You can check out that first column by clicking here.) This week, we’re going to take the first look at some of the books you suggested and that I’ve checked out in the interim, as well as one new book I’ve discovered that I’m adding to your reading list. And I think some of you will be surprised by my findings.

This works rather simply — any book you guys suggest that I haven’t read (and don’t know enough about to have formed an opinion) gets put on my reading list. I’ve formed a second reading list of great graphic novels that I think you should read. When I read a book from the first list, if I like it enough, it moves up to the second list. The complete lists will be at the end of the column.

The first book I checked out from the list you guys gave me was the premiere Hellboy trade paperback, Seed of Destruction. I’ve always had a marginal interest in Hellboy, even though I’ve never read any of his comics before, because the idea of a demon working for a paranormal investigation agency seems deliciously campy to me, and with the movie coming out soon I thought it would behoove me to read this introduction to the character before I saw it.

And actually, I thought that was the best way to sum up Hellboy: Seed of Destruction: as an introduction. We meet the character and examine the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense. We meet the ancillary characters, including my favorite, the weirdly entertaining Abe Sapien. We get a story about Nazis and monsters and a lot of cool fighting.

But that’s about it.

Reading this book and looking for answers about Hellboy’s past (let alone answers about Abe or the others) is a futile effort, there are none to be had. But that’s okay. This book exists to let you meet these characters and get interested in them, and as such, it succeeded. With any graphic novel series, the primary function of the first book is to interest you enough to make you want to read the second one. Well done, Mike Mignola (and a tip of the hat to scripter John Byrne as well.) Hellboy: Seed of Destruction is the first book to “graduate” from my list of books I need to read to my list of books you need to read.

Unfortunately, I don’t have such high praise for the second book I tried out based on your recommendations. Some people will be shocked to hear me say this (and others, I suspect, will be somewhat gleeful), but I was quite disappointed in The Invisibles: Say You Want a Revolution.

It pains me to say it, folks, it really does. I enjoyed Grant Morrison’s run on JLA and he’s writing the first X-Men comic to really get me excited in over a decade. But The Invisibles didn’t really work for me. Before reading this book, I really knew nothing about it, other than the fact that some people claim the Wachowski brothers ripped off some of the concepts for The Matrix. Maybe that’s what hurt it for me, as I read I kept looking for the parallels and I didn’t find many. The only similarities to be found in this first volume were those of a secret organization fighting against a some sort of phantom big brother that is secretly controlling the world, and the idea of people leaving their bodies behind to travel to another reality (or another level of reality). Did Morrison use these concepts before the Wachoswkis? Certainly. But there were a lot of people using the same concepts before Morrison as well.

That wasn’t what let me down, though, it was the story that let me down. Once I put down the trade paperback I felt like I’d read a 200-page anti-establishment rant with no real soul to it. The characters let me down. When we first meet our “hero,” Jack Frost, he’s blowing up a library. As someone who considers a book to be the highest product of humankind, this did not serve to endear him to me. I was let down because when I finished reading, I didn’t feel like I understood any more than I did when I started.

Now I’m going to be fair about this — I did just read the first graphic novel in a rather lengthy series, and it’s entirely possible that many of the questions and doubts I have are addressed later in the title. In fact, I intend to read the second book in the series, The Invisibles: Apokalipstick, in the hopes that it will lay some of my fears to rest. But with Hellboy I’m reading volume two because I liked what I read in volume one and want to read more. With this title, I’m reading volume two out of a sense of frustration, in the hopes that something about the book will begin to make sense. Graphic novel format is the only thing that could have saved this book for me, because if I had tried reading it in single-issue form I would have dropped it after issue four and never looked back. So sorry, Mr. Morrison, but Invisibles: Say You Want a Revolution doesn’t make the cut.

Third, I’m adding a book that I really dug that wasn’t brought up in our last discussion (it’s my column, I reserve the right to do this): Kurt Busiek and James Fry’s short-lived series from Eclipse Comics, The Liberty Project.

For those of you who have never heard of The Liberty Project (even I, crazed Busiek fan that I am, had never heard of it until About Comics announced they were releasing a collected edition last year), the concept is simple — the federal government starts a program that allows supervillains to pay their debt to society by acting as government-sponsored superheroes instead of spending time in jail. If it sounds familiar, that’s because DC comics used almost the same idea at almost the same time (1987-1988) when it relaunched its old property Suicide Squad.

The Liberty Project was a bit different, however. First of all, Suicide Squad used established DC villains like Deadshot and Captain Boomerang, while these characters were all-new (although the similarity in skill, if certainly not in character, between Deadshot and Crackshot is curious). Second, while DC’s team stuck to the shadows and didn’t operate in the public eye, the Liberty Project members were out in the open, and actually found themselves celebrities. Third, many of the Suicide Squad members remained cruel, unrepentant creatures, whereas Busiek’s creations almost all were changed by their experience working on the right side of the law. In many ways, it’s like reading a beta test for his later work on Marvel’s Thunderbolts series (about villains masquerading as heroes and some of them realizing the prefer life on that side of the fence).

Busiek still owns the characters, so I keep hoping someday he’ll return to the world of Slick, Burnout and Cimarron. In the meantime, About Comics recently published a dandy digest-sized, black and white, inexpensive volume of the eight-issue run, along with a Total Eclipse special. If you liked Busiek on Thunderbolts, you’ll dig this book.

So let’s recap. As of last time we talked the list of books you guys think I should read are as follows:

Animal Man Vol. 1
Cerebus Vol. 1
Doom Patrol: Crawling From the Wreckage
Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Boy in the World
Lone Wolf and Cub Vol. 1: The Assassin’s Road
Maus: A Survivor’s Tale
New Teen Titans Archives Vol. 1
Punisher: Welcome Back Frank
Record of Lodoss War: The Lady of Pharis
Safe Area Goradze
Terminal City
Top 10
V For Vendetta

Conversely, the list of books that I really dig that you should be reading is now this:

The Adventures of Barry Ween, Boy Genius (Vol. 1-4)
Bone Vol. 1: Out From Boneville
Creature Tech
Daredevil: Wake Up
Dork Tower Vol 1.: Dork Covenant (then Vol.s 2-6…)
Fantastic Four: Imaginauts
Hellboy Vol. 1: Seeds of Destruction
The Liberty Project
Meridian Vol. 1: Flying Solo
Preacher Vol. 1: Gone to Texas
Road to Perdition
Understanding Comics/Reinventing Comics
The Wizard’s Tale

I’m open for suggestions to add to the first list, folks, and if you’ve read some of the books on the second list and want to comment, this is the place to do it. In the meantime, it’s back to the bookstore for me!

(By the by: If you’d like to suggest a title to add to the list, please try to suggest books that are available in graphic novel form — either original works or trade paperback collections. It’s not that single-issue runs aren’t great, but for the purposes of this project, it’s a lot easier to track down graphic novels and read those.)

FAVORITE OF THE WEEK: February 18, 2004

Since I started the “Favorite of the Week” feature in this column, I think this was the hardest week ever to choose a winner. I was very close to selecting Fantastic Four #510 and Superman: Secret Identity #2, both titles that have won this honor before. I was close to selecting Abadazad #1 because it was such a great beginning for what promises to be CrossGen’s best comic yet. But in the end, I picked a title that was a fantastic conclusion to a fantastic storyline: Superman/Batman #6.

Jeph Loeb is the best writer either of these iconic characters have had in over a decade. He nails who they are, what they mean to the world and what they mean to each other. He caps off the story of President Lex Luthor in a way that is smart and satisfying (and also answers a question I had about Aquaman #15, which clearly takes place after this issue). It’s a fantastic comic book. You can keep your spiders and your x-people friends. This is a comic book that proves the first two superheroes are still the greatest.

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.


2 in 1 Showcase Episode 141: Our Favorite Horror Artists

The Halloween Spooktacular continues with a special guest-host. Blake recruits his sisters, Heather, to sit down with him and look at some of the greatest horror artists of all time. The sibs go from the classic works of Al Feldstein in Tales From the Crypt, the great Marvel Horror artists of the 70s, superstars of Vertigo comics, some of today’s bright spots — with several surprises along the way. You may want to camp at  the Grand Comic Book Database to play along with this one. In the picks, Blake loves the Perhapanauts Halloween Spooktacular! Contact us with comments, suggestions, or anything else at!

2 in 1 Showcase Episode 141: Our Favorite Horror Artists
Inside This Episode:


Toy Stories: Welcome to Hell(boy)

So DC Comics and Marvel Comics both have 3.75-inch action figure lines now, which is awesome. They can interact with Luke Skywalker, Snake-Eyes, and Indiana Jones any time I want. But those are not the only two comic book universes out there, and as much as I love many of the independent characters, and as profitable as some of them are in the toy market, I doubted I would get them in the 3.75 scale. Until I stumbled across the following four-pack:

Liz Sherman, Hellboy, Johann Krauss & Wink

Liz Sherman, Hellboy, Johann Krauss & Wink

These four figures are based on the movie Hellboy II: The Golden Army, and frankly, are some of the best-made figures I’ve yet seen since I returned to the 3.75-inch scale. I love the Infinite Heroes line, but the figures have little articulation. Marvel Universe, on the other hand, often has SO much articulation that the figure feels cheap and fragile. These four toys look great and have just enough articulation to be fun.

Here we get Liz Sherman, Hellboy himself, the vaporous Johann Krauss, and the big ol’ monster called Wink. The designs are very good, although Liz doesn’t really resemble actress Selma Blair… of course, how often do 3.75-inch figures ever look like the actor in question? There is an issue with the accessories, though. Toys should have accessories, I love accessories, but if the figure can’t hold the accessory, it’s just a teeny bit that will get lost as soon as the cat decides to attack the carefully-planned war for domination of the kitchen table between the forces of good and evil of multiple Earths, not that I have ever witnesses such a thing personally.

Liz, for instance, has a gun and a burst of flame. The gun fits in her hand just fine, but the fire doesn’t connect at all. The two bursts of mist that come with Johann, similarly, are totally incompatible with his hands, and as far as Wink’s mace, all I can do is drape the chain (which is highly cool, by the way) over his arm. He can’t actually hold it. Only Hellboy, with his gun, actually manages to interact properly with his accessory.

I really do like these figures, and I really hope to see more figures based on other comic book universes. I’d love to get my hands on a 3.75-inch Madman, Invincible, Shadowhawk, or the team from the Perhapanauts. I know that this four-pack has absolutely nothing to do with the possibility of lines featuring any of these characters, but I wanted to mention it anyway.


Everything But Imaginary #291: One Last Look at 2008

It’s the last day of the year, friends, so let’s end it with one look back at some of the high and low points in the world of comics, as chosen by me. And then, stick around for the nominees for the 2008 Everything But Imaginary Awards! Your votes have to be e-mailed to by Monday, Jan. 5, to be counted!

Everything But Imaginary #291: One Last Look at 2008
Inside This Column:


Halloween Party: Spooky Movies For Comic Geeks

It’s time once again for a special Great Movie Ride edition of Everything But Imaginary, and as a little tie-in to the Evertime Realms Halloween Party, today I’m talking about horror-themed comic book movies! Hope you guys enjoy this walk down the creepy corners of memory lane…

Everything But Imaginary #282: Spooky Movies For Comic Geeks
Inside This Column:


Everything But Imaginary #277: Where Will the Next Wave Come From?

We all love Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, the X-Men… but those guys have all been around forever? Who are the new superheroes? Where are they going to come from? And if the readers don’t take a chance on them, how can any of them survive?

Everything But Imaginary #277: Where Will the Next Wave Come From?


2 in 1 Showcase Episode 76: Mike Mignola and Hellboy

2 in 1 Showcase

Chase is paying a visit to San Antonio this week, so Blake joins up with the back-up geeks, Mike and Kenny, to talk about the career of Mike Mignola and his most famous creation, Hellboy. The guys talk about their favorite Mignola comics, their favorite Hellboy stories, how they felt about the first movie, what they’re expecting from the second, and Kenny even gives his thoughts on the new Hellboy: Science of Evil video game! In the picks, Mike likes the current Batman Confidential run, and Blake is caught by Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam! Next week, the guys take a hard look at Batman, the Joker, and The Dark Knight. E-mail us with your comments, “Ask Chase Anything” questions, or anything else at

Episode 76: Mike Mignola and Hellboy

Inside this episode:
Superman Vol. 2 #18Gotham By GaslightCosmic Odyssey #1The Corpse #1
The Golden ArmyThe Science of EvilBatman Confidential #18Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam #1

May 2023

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