Posts Tagged ‘Punisher

22
Apr
12

100 Comic Book Movies

With a little time to kill this afternoon, I decided to make one of those “Movie List Challenges” over on Facebook. Being the sort of nerd I am, I whipped up a list of 100 movies based on comic books, graphic novels, and newspaper comic strips. Some of these are kind of indirect — the comic strip was made into a broadway musical, the musical was made into a movie. Some of them will be movies you’ve seen but maybe didn’t know were comic books first. Some of them will be foreign and some of them, especially the movie serials of the 40s and 50s, will be characters you’ve heard of in movies you didn’t know existed. And although I tried to stay with theatrical films, it’s possible a made-for-TV movie or two snuck in while I wasn’t looking. But let’s see how many of ’em you’ve seen. For the sake of fairness, I’ve put an asterisk next to each movie that I’ve personally viewed…

1. The Adventures of Captain Marvel (1941) *
2. Batman (1943)
3. Congo Bill (1948)
4. Batman and Robin (1949)
5. Superman and the Mole Men (1951)
6. Blackhawk: Fearless Champion of Freedom (1952)
7. Lil’ Abner (1959)
8. Batman: The Movie (1966)*
9. A Boy Named Charlie Brown (1969)*
10. Tales From the Crypt (1972)
11. The Vault of Horror (1973)
12. Superman (1978)*
13. Flash Gordon (1980)*
14. I Go Pogo (aka Pogo For President, 1980)*
15. Popeye (1980)*
16. Superman II (1980)*
17. Annie (1982)*
18. Swamp Thing (1982)
19. Superman III (1983)*
20. Supergirl (1984)*
21. Howard the Duck (1986)*
22. Superman IV: The Quest For Peace (1987)*
23. Akira (1988)*
24. Batman (1989)*
25. The Punisher (1989)*
26. Return of Swamp Thing (1989)
27. Dick Tracy (1990)*
28. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)*
29. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze (1991)*
30. Batman Returns (1992)*
31. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)*
32. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: Turtles in Time (1993)
33. The Crow (1994)*
34. The Mask (1994)*
35. Batman Forever (1995)*
36. Judge Dredd (1995)*
37. Tales From the Crypt: Demon Knight (1995)*
38. Barb Wire (1996)*
39. Tales From the Crypt: Bordello of Blood (1996)*
40. Batman and Robin (1997)*
41. Men in Black (1997)*
42. Spawn (1997)*
43. Steel (1997)
44. Blade (1998)*
45. X-Men (2000)*
46. Ghost World (2001)*
47. Blade II (2002)*
48. Road to Perdition (2002)*
49. Spider-Man (2002)*
50. American Splendor (2003)*
51. Daredevil (2003)*
52. Hulk (2003)*
53. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003)*
54. X2: X-Men United (2003)*
55. Blade: Trinity (2004)*
56. Catwoman (2004)*
57. Garfield (2004)*
58. Hellboy (2004)*
59. The Punisher (2004)*
60. Spider-Man 2 (2004)*
61. Batman Begins (2005)*
62. Constantine (2005)*
63. Elektra (2005)*
64. Fantastic Four (2005)*
65. A History of Violence (2005)*
66. Man-Thing (2005)*
67. Sin City (2005)*
68. Son of the Mask (2005)*
69. V For Vendetta (2005)*
70. 300 (2006)*
71. Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties (2006)
72. Over the Hedge (2006)*
73. Superman Returns (2006)*
74. X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)*
75. Ghost Rider (2007)*
76. Persepolis (2007)*
77. Spider-Man 3 (2007)*
78. TMNT (2007)*
79. The Dark Knight (2008)*
80. Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008)*
81. Iron Man (2008)*
82. Punisher: War Zone (2008)*
83. Surrogates (2009)*
84. Watchmen (2009)*
85. X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)*
86. Iron Man 2 (2010)*
87. Jonah Hex (2010)*
88. Kick-Ass (2010)*
89. The Losers (2010)*
90. RED (2010)*
91. Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World (2010)*
92. The Adventures of Tintin (2011)*
93. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)*
94. Cowboys and Aliens (2011)*
95. Dylan Dog: Dead of Night (2011)*
96. Green Lantern (2011)*
97. The Smurfs (2011)
98. Thor (2011)*
99. X-Men: First Class (2011)*
100. The Avengers (2012)

01
Apr
12

2 in 1 Showcase Episode 261: Avengers Vs. X-Men Pre-Game Show

With Avengers Vs. X-Men starting this week, Blake and Erin talk about the run-up to it, including the launch event, Marvel AR, and Infinite Comics, with a critique of Mark Waid‘s Luther. Plus, they get into all the news from WonderCon and Emerald City, including the new Valiant Comics, Womanthology, the Rocketeer, and more! Plus — April Fool’s gags are irritating, Draw Something is cool, and cats are adorable. In the picks, Erin is enjoying Anne Rice‘s The Wolf Gift and Blake doubles up with Superman #7 and Atomic Robo Presents Real Science Adventures #1! Contact us with comments, suggestions, or anything else at Showcase@CXPulp.com!

Music provided by Music Alley from Mevio.

Episode 261: Avengers Vs. X-Men Pre-Game Show

07
Dec
11

Classic EBI #143: Christmas Comics From Riverdale to Strange’s Sanctum

There’s been some buzz lately about the possibility of a sequel or prequel to the classic Watchmen series from DC Comics. And honestly, I don’t know if it’s that great an idea…

Everything But Imaginary #426: The Problem With Watchmen 2

But moving back in time, let’s look at one of my favorite columns from Christmas past. Every year, I do a column looking back at some of my favorite Christmas comics, as well as the new releases from that year. Let’s head back to 2005, and some Christmas comics from a year where they were sorely needed.

Classic EBI: #143: Christmas Comics From Riverdale to Strange’s Sanctum

Continuing last week’s in-depth examination of this year’s crop of Christmas Comics (including a focus on Disney comics), we’re going to start this time in Marvel Comics’ New York, with two offerings that took me by surprise – one in a good way, one not so much.

First up was the Marvel Holiday Special. Marvel put out an oversized collection of Christmas comics every year for a while in the 90s and just brought the tradition back last year. I kinda wish there were more than just three stories per issue, but you take what you can get. This year’s issue, sporting a great cover by Stuart Immonen, opens up with “Mole Man’s Christmas.” In this story, written by Shaenon Garrity with art by Roger Langridge and Al Gordon, the humble Moloids have launched yet another attack on the surface world, this time kidnapping Santa Clauses right from the streets. The Fantastic Four, naturally, begin plans to launch their assault on their underground kingdom, only to discover that they’re trying to find their ruler, the missing Mole Man. As the rest of the team plans for a more direct approach, the Thing takes a different tack – trying to hunt down his old enemy using a mysterious clue. This is a fairly entertaining story – any spotlight on Ben Grimm is a good thing, and it’s rare to see a Citizen Kane parody in a Christmas comic.

This story is followed up by the unsuspected gem of the collection, “Yes Virginia, There is a Santron” by Jeff Parker with art by Reilly Brown. It’s Christmas Eve and Dr. Strange is throwing a party at his inner sanctum for the Avengers and their friends, including the Marvel Universe’s newest would-be superstar, Gravity. As the heroes enjoy celebrations of various yuletide holidays, including a particularly funny bit with Spider-Woman finding herself unable to escape the mistletoe, across the city a young woman is working on her masterpiece – a Santa Claus android, but the robot seems to have some preliminary programming that threatens our heroes.

The punchline is predictable and the story is full of plot holes, such as how the robot Santa managed to find Strange’s mystically-shielded sanctum, but you know what? It doesn’t matter. This story is much better than it has any right to be. I really enjoyed it, and I can see myself reading this story every Christmas.

Finally, Mike Carey and Mike Perkins give us “Christmas Day in Manhattan,” in which an old supervillain heads out on one last mission to give his kids a Merry Christmas – only to run afoul of some of New York’s heroes. Carey gives us the requisite Christmas poem and Perkins does the story in an intriguing style that mirrors an old woodcutting. It’s not great, but it’s good.

Another Christmas offering from Marvel didn’t score quite so highly with me – Punisher: Silent Night from Andy Diggle and Kyle Hotz. I got this because of my stated purpose of snagging every Christmas comic I could, but this really didn’t work for me. It’s basically a Punisher story with an excuse to get him in a Santa suit to set up a hit. Diggle writes a decent old-fashioned Punisher story, but as the only version of the character I’ve ever really enjoyed is Garth Ennis’s dark comedy, this isn’t a book that’s really for me.

Now Archie Comics, like Gemstone last week, gives us a whole slew of Christmas offerings, starting with their annual Archie’s Holiday Fun Digest. Like all Archie digests, this is a fun mix of new and old stories – 100 pages worth for just $2.39, making these comics still the most bang for your buck out of any comic books being published. The issue opens up with Archie in “The Job” – a simple, sweet little tale of Riverdale’s favorite redhead serving as a department store Santa Claus.

My favorite tale in this book, however, is Dilton in “Scientific Santa.” When Dilton’s cousin Dexter refuses to believe not only in Santa Claus, but in any Christmas tradition whatsoever, the boy genius and his girlfriend Danni set up a super-scientific workshop to give the kid a dose of the real holiday spirit. I’m a longtime fan of Archie Comics, and I was really happy to see this story using some favorite characters from the short-lived Dilton’s Strange Science series from the early 90s. Plus in the follow up, “Computer Chip Shot,” as Dilton and Danni try to pack up their equipment from the previous tale things go a little haywire, resulting in another fun story.

The comic is full of stories with Sabrina, Betty and Veronica, Cheryl Blossom and the whole gang, and it’s a lot of fun.

But also like Gemstone, in addition to their annual Christmas special, holiday tales bled into many of their regular titles, such as Tales From Riverdale Digest #7. While not all of the stories in this issue where Christmas tales, enough were to include it in this rundown. In “Wait Right Here,” Veronica is stunned to discover that good-natured Betty, of all people, is feeling a case of the humbugs as she is ignored by snooty store clerks who think because of her less-than glamorous appearance that she doesn’t have anything to spend. The girls star in this issue’s other major Christmas contributions as well. In “Some Things Never Change” their old friend, the fairy Sugar Plum, spice up Veronica’s dull Christmas party, then in “A Dreamy Teen Christmas,” the girls first put together a Christmas Tree for a charity auction, then plan to try to win it themselves. Finally, Sugar Plum makes a return appearance in “Veronica’s Wonderful Life,” in which the richest girl in Riverdale gets a taste of what the world would be like if she had never been born. “It’s a Wonderful Life” parodies are nothing new, but this one had a really amusing punchline that makes it stand out.

Archie had even more Christmas offerings, such as Betty and Veronica #213 – in “Keeping Up Traditions,” Veronica blows off her annual Christmas outing with Betty for a date with the new guy in town, but then her conscience starts to plague her. Sugar Plum shows up again in “Treed!” to help the girls decorate the enormous lodge mansion – but the well-meaning fairy, as she usually does, takes things too far. Finally we have “Spending Spree,” in which Veronica sees Betty scrimping for Christmas presents for everyone else while she goes out on her usual selfish shopping sprees. Suddenly, she comes up with the greatest Christmas present of all.

Betty and Veronica Spectacular underwent an interesting metamorphosis this year, adding fashion pieces and advice columns to its comics in an attempt to make it more of a “teen magazine.” I actually think this is a clever idea that, hopefully, will bring in more female readers – or at least help retain more that otherwise would have “outgrown” the comics. But with issue #72, this comic too adds some Christmas offerings. “What a Card” shows Veronica going overboard on her own attempt at a Christmas Card after Betty’s handwritten poem becomes a smash hit. (For best friends, these girls are extremely competitive.) Also, “The Nite Before X-Mas!” is a twist on the old Clement Moore poem that kind of serves as a roll call for the kids of Riverdale High School. The comic also includes a page of “Holiday Glitz” and a Holiday Trivia Quiz – fun stuff for the girls.

Last but not least, there’s Veronica #166, but don’t let the title of the comic fool you, Betty is all over this one too. In “A Dickens of a Tale,” a flurry of shopping greed from Veronica brings her a visit from three spirits that show her how she abuses her best friend, worries her parents, and how her greed will leave poor Archie torn between her and Betty for many Christmases to come. Clearly, this is Veronica’s year for spectral manifestations with amusing punchlines. She comes back in “Party Time,” in which she gets the idea to throw a big Christmas party and asks her dad to pay for it. Mr. Lodge agrees, but is put off by her frivolousness – until he arrives at the party for a big surprise. Veronica is a really schizophrenic character – one minute she’s as greedy as Ebenezer Scrooge, then a few pages later she’s got a heart as big as Tiny Tim.

At any rate, these Archie comics are a blast and well worth sharing with your kids on Christmas morning. I’d actually hoped to cover two more Christmas specials this week – the Image Comics Holiday Special and Dan Slott’s GLX-Mas, but thanks to the intricacies of December shipping, I haven’t gotten either of those yet. But I think I’ve made my point – there are a lot of great Christmas comics out there.

And I hope that you’ve enjoyed this little foray into some of the wonderful offerings we’ve got this Christmas. May you all have a wonderful, Merry holiday with your friends and family – I know I will. Don’t forget to vote in the 2005 Everything But Imaginary Awards — for a full list of rules and categories, follow this link to the Everything But Imaginary Awards Thread. And come back next week for our special year-end EBI, in which I put on my prognosticator cap and tell everyone what the comic book industry needs to do to thrive in 2006. MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT!

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 BlakeMPetit@gmail.com.

27
Jul
11

Classic EBI #101: Costume Party

To my surprise, part of our Maine trip last weekend included a quick trip to a small-town comic shop, prompting me to write today’s EBI about one of the greatest things in the world of a geek: the comic book Bargain Bin.

Everything But Imaginary #408: The Beauty of a Bargain Bin

Heading back to 2005, though, in the days after New Orleans’ annual Bacchanalia known as Mardi Gras, I wrote about something that I liked about Mardi Gras as a child — costumes… and about what makes a great superhero costume.

Everything But Imaginary #101: Costume Party

Yesterday, friends, was Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, in the city of New Orleans, a day made up of revelry, frivolity, debauchery and lots and lots of alcohol. Not really my kind of day to be honest. Any interest I ever had in Mardi Gras died off when I was in my high school marching band, playing the trombone in parades, listening to people on the parade route shout outrageously clever things like “Only 50 more miles!”

I hated those people.

One thing I did like about Mardi Gras, once upon a time, were the costumes. People don’t dress up as much as they used to, but when I was a kid Mardi Gras was a mini-Halloween, an excuse to put on masks, wigs, capes or makeup. The best costume I ever had, in fact, was a Captain America costume my mother made, complete with a cardboard shield that I painted myself.

Thinking about this made me realize that Captain America really does, in fact, have one of the most effective superhero costumes there is. A superhero costume shouldn’t be about giant shoulder pads, whips, chains or trenchcoats. It should, instead, convey who the character is and what he does. The test of a superhero costume would be taking someone who has never seen him before and asking them to pick him out of a lineup based just on the name.

This is what makes Cap’s costume so great – it’s simple. It’s red, white and blue. It’s got your stars and your stripes, eagle’s wings, a distinct soldierly look to the design and, just in case you still haven’t picked up on it, a great big letter “A.” Anyone could be given a pin-up of the Avengers and a list of their names and immediately be able to match which one is Captain America.

Let’s compare this to one of my favorite whipping boys, Gambit. What does he wear? A purple and blue jumpsuit under a trenchcoat. It says nothing about his name, which in turn, says nothing about his powers (the ability to make stuff blow up, in case you forgot). Nobody looking at the X-Men could figure out which one was Gambit without a nametag.

Not many of the X-Men have very distinctive costumes, by that account. Iceman is covered in ice, so that’s a plus, and Archangel’s wings are a giveaway. Cyclops’ visor gives him that one-eye look. Hank McCoy definitely looks like the Beast he is, but then again, that name could also be suggested for Nightcrawler or even the Juggernaut. And what about Storm, Shadowcat, Marvel Girl, Havok or Rogue?

Wolverine does have something of a feral, animalistic look to him. His best costume ever, by this definition, was probably the brown-and-orange he wore for some time in the 80s and 90s. The other uniforms, although similar in cut, are blue and yellow, which only suggests a wolverine to a Michigan State fan.

You have these problems whenever your character has names and powers that don’t quite mesh. What does Justice do? He’s a telekinetic. Which has nothing to do with justice. So he wears a fairly generic blue and white outfit. Spawn? He has some sort of ill-defined magical powers, and a look that has absolutely nothing to do with his name. He’s a poster child for a character with a costume that the creator would just think looked cool, without any thought to functionality, practicality or recognizability.

Some characters are halfway there. The Atom has a tiny little atom symbol on his forehead, but you can’t see that from a distance, and his costume is a standard red and blue. Unless the picture of him has him standing next to something else gigantic by contrast, letting you know he’s someone who can shrink to a tiny size, you may not be able to pick it out. The Punisher wears black with a big white skull on his chest. Yeah, that could potentially signify punishment. Or it would make someone think of Deathstroke, Deathlok or Deadman. Cyborg is covered with cybernetic parts – half-man, half machine. A cyborg. Or maybe Machine Man. Or Robotman.

You see the problem here?

Most of the really iconic superheroes have really iconic costume designs. Look at the Flash – although several characters have used that name, they’ve all worn red and sported a good old-fashioned lightning bolt motif. Lightning, of course, denotes speed, and red is a very fast color. Green Lantern works too – any Green Lantern costume. They all feature the only two things you need for that costume design to work: green is a main color and there’s an image of a lantern. Bam. That simple. Even the golden age Green Lantern, whose costume has a lot of red and purple in it, has a drawing of a green lantern on his chest – a much more lifelife drawing, by the way, than the later GLs had.

Color is a bonus for a lot of characters. Green Arrow? Well, if the Robin Hood motif wasn’t enough to tip you off, the color green would do it. Blue Beetle wears a blue costume with patterns and big golden eyes that suggest an insect. Simple. Red Tornado wears all red, plus he’s got a great big “T” on his chest.

Initials, of course, are another time-honored method of identification, particularly for characters with less distinctive powers. Superman and Wonder Woman are two of the most recognized comic book characters in the world, but their powers don’t really have anything to do with their names – strength, speed, flight, durability, etc. Basically, they can both do it all, which is what makes them super and wonderful, respectively. But since it’s hard to design a costume that says “this dude can do anything,” they wear costumes that look bold, proud and majestic. Bright colors, inspiring, classic designs… and on their chests, an “S” and a “W.” So if you’re looking at the lineup of the Justice League, you’ll guess Superman is the guy wearing the “S” and Wonder Woman is the one with the “W” – although she should be easier to pick out since she’s frequently the only active female member of the team.

The initials also help out Daredevil, but he doesn’t need them as badly as Clark and Diana. Aside from the “DD” symbol, he wears all red, just like a devil, and even has two little horns. He’s had other costumes – a yellow one and one that was mostly black – but neither of them worked nearly as well as the classic red.

Then of course, you’ve got the best costumes of all, the ones for heroes with a definite gimmick and a definite look to go along with it. Batman, for instance. He doesn’t have any powers, but he dresses up like a giant bat to scare crooks. So he has a dark costume with pointed ears and a giant, sweeping cape that comes to points like the wings of a bat – plus a picture of a bat on his chest. He looks like a bat-man. It’s an incredibly simple design, and it works perfectly.

And this finally brings us to what many people say is the best costume in comics, and I wouldn’t be inclined to argue – Spider-Man. How did he get his powers? Bitten by a radioactive spider. What does he do? Well, according to the song, “whatever a spider can.” So he wears a big spider on his chest, a bigger one on his back and covers the rest of the ensemble in spiderwebs. Magnifico.

All of the major characters – at least the ones known to the general public – have those kinds of simple designs, the ones that grab you, the ones that let you know at a glance what the character does. So comic creators and fans take note – if you want your superheroes to hit the big time some day, keep these rules in mind. Play it smart.

Leave the chains at home.

FAVORITE OF THE WEEK: February 2, 2005

This isn’t the first time I’ve given a “Favorite of the Week” nod to DC Comics’ The Monolith, but I’m sad to say it looks like it’ll be the last. Issue #12, which came out last week, was the final issue of this fantastic comic book about a young girl who inherits a house with a secret in the basement – a giant stone golem. This last issue doesn’t end the story of Alice, her best friend Tilt and the mystical protector they found, but it does bring it to a great resting point. The last line of the issue is one of the most profoundly heartfelt of the series. If you never read this title, go out and find the back issues, then write to DC and make your voice heard. Runaways got a new lease on life due to fan response – there’s no reason it couldn’t happen for this incredibly worthy series as well.

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 BlakeMPetit@gmail.com and visit him on the web at Evertime Realms. Read past columns at the Everything But Imaginary Archive Page.

15
Jun
11

Classic EBI #95: The 2004 Comic Book Industry Progress Report

This week in Everything But Imaginary, I’m digging into the newest force in independent comics, Kickstarter. How does it work? How has it worked? Is it worthwhile?

Everything But Imaginary #403: Kicking Things Into Gear

But going back in time, this week’s classic EBI is the final column from 2004, my “2004 Comic Book Industry Progress Report.” A little time capsule that’s kind of pertinent, considering where comics are right now.

Everything But Imaginary #95: The 2004 Comic Book Industry Progress Report

Hello there, all, and welcome to the final Everything But Imaginary for the year 2004. It was a year of ups and downs, highs and lows, smooth and chunky, and when all was said and done, I think it wasn’t too bad a year at that. That said, there are always things that could be done better, and as such, we here at Everything But Imaginary Global Headquarters have compiled the following progress report for the comic book industry, for the retailers, and for you, the fans. So take a look, see where you fall on this hierarchy, and do what it takes to make 2005 a better year for comics than 2004.

For the Comic Companies:

*Keep up trying to attract younger readers. I have to give credit where credit is due, Marvel and DC Comics have both made great strides this year in their effort to reach out to the pre-teen and younger crowd. The new Marvel Age line, offering a mixture of contemporary retellings of old stories and brand-new stories with Marvel’s teenage characters, is a great idea. The Johnny DC imprint, rounding up all of the DC Comics based on cartoon shows, is also a very effective way to brand which of their titles are appropriate for younger readers — plus they get major bonus points in my book for things like activity pages and a letter column (something woefully missing from other DC Comics these days). I want to see both of these lines grow and prosper this year, so fans, try out some of these comics even if you consider yourself too old for them. And if you know any kids who might like a few comics, this is the place to start.

*Conversely, remember to keep your comic book prices reasonable. I love Gemstone Comics for what they’ve done with the Walt Disney properties, but I’m still in a tiff about charging $6.95 an issue for Uncle Scrooge and Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories. Yeah, clearly they’re gearing this to the collectors. But guys, the collectors will read the books anyway. It’s insane to have the two flagship titles of a Disney line priced too high for a child to buy them! If you must have a title for “collectors,” why not call it Walt Disney Masterpieces or something? Just make the other books affordable.

*Remember: that old adage about the only bad publicity being no publicity is nonsense in the long run. Controversy sells, true, but not for long. Sure, when people rant and rave about how bad a comic book is, other people may pick it up for an issue or two to see what all the fuss is about, then they’ll drop it and join in the ranting and raving. Soon you’ve reached everyone there is buying comics, and the sales will fall. And fast.

*Take advantage of your multi-media properties. Spider-Man 2 was one of the top-grossing films of the year. Smallville is a hit. Kids everywhere are singing that godawful Teen Titans cartoon theme song. There is no reason not to use that to your advantage. Including a mini-comic in the Punisher DVD (a comic by the regular creative team, no less) was a very nice touch. So was handing out the special edition Amazing Spider-Man where Frank made his first appearance at the movie theatres. I saw a lot of people in the theatre reading that comic book before the film started. Push the comics based directly on the films and TV shows and, more so, try to link them. Advertise the Superman: Birthright hardcover book as being the bridge to Smallville that it is. Play up that you’re going to have writers for that show on two of the comics next year (Superman and Superman/Batman). And if the Bryan Singer run on Ultimate X-Men ever finally comes out, God help you if you don’t let the non-comic readers know about it!

For the Retailers:

*Clean up, dammit. This doesn’t go for all retailers, but I’ve seen a lot of comic shops that are an absolute mess. Dusty shelves, 15-year-old posters on the wall, hastily boxed back issues in no order whatsoever and comics dating back to 2000 sitting on the new release shelf. That’s ridiculous. And it’s no way to run a business. Get out the broom, put up some new posters, alphabetize the old comics and you might just get more customers, as opposed to the people who walk by your store, squint in confusion, and then wander off to the pet shop next door, which at least has an excuse to occasionally be filthy.

*Be friendly. The best comic stores — the ones that I go to on a regular basis — are the ones that treat everyone with respect, be they a first-time customer or someone who’s had a pull list for years. Talk to your customers. Help them find what they want. Don’t be patronizing or snooty — not only does it cost you a customer, but it helps perpetuate a stereotype that holds back the whole art form. As I’ve said before, if it’s something the Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons would say… don’t say it.

*Take some business classes. Too many retailers are just fans who decided to open their own shops. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but when the proprietor has no idea how to run a business, all the love of comics in the world won’t keep it going. First figure out how to maintain a profitable retail business. Then apply that to running a comic book store. The husks of abandoned comic shops across the country prove how vital that lesson is.

For the Fans:

*Stop buying bad comics, particularly when there are so many great ones you aren’t reading. You would think this was a given, but a lot of people simply don’t grasp the concept. Now I’m not suggesting that you should go out there right now and drop every other title from your list, I’m saying you should be more discriminating. If you’re getting 194,246.7 X-Men related comic books a month, are you doing that because you still actually like all those titles, or because you haven’t missed an issue since 1977 and don’t want a hole to appear in your collection? If it’s the latter, that means it’s time to rethink things.

*If a comic is getting critical acclaim, try to find out why. There are certain comic books that you hear us funky reviewers praising month in and month out. She-Hulk. The Monolith. Fade From Grace. But these books don’t have the gargantuan sales numbers of other books of (arguably) much lower quality. We know you’ve heard the buzz by now. Why not see what all the fuss is about? And nobody is saying you have to like any given comic book. I’m just saying that if everyone keeps talking about how great a comic is, it may be worth your time to try an issue or two and see what all the deal is.

*Be heard. In this day and age, the only thing that can build comics readership (until the companies do something to engender a major societal shift) is your word of mouth. If you have a comic you love that no one is reading, tell them about it. If you’ve got one that you think your non-comic reading cousin would like, lend them a copy. If you’re at a bookstore and see an old lady trying to pick out a comic book as a gift for her grandson, make a suggestion. And be heard by the publishers too. Chat it up on the message boards. Write them letters — even if they don’t publish letters anymore, there’s bound to be someone reading them. It’s true that the best way to vote is with your wallet — buy what you like, don’t spend money on what you don’t like — but it can’t hurt to tell the folks in charge why you like or don’t like the comics you’ve chosen to purchase or chosen to ignore.

FAVORITE OF THE WEEK: December 22, 2004

It was a good week, but not a great week in comics, and the best comes from a rather unlikely source. Space Ghost #2 continues the dark, shadowy origin of a character best known today for hosting a goofy talk show on Cartoon Network. This is the origin of the classic Space Ghost, though, and this is a great issue. Stranded on a distant world, betrayed by the peacekeeping force that he fought for, Thaddeus Bach was left for dead. But now he’s not only alive, he’s mad. It’s hard to believe that the same Joe Kelly who writes the incredibly dull Justice League Elite also writes this comic, and it’s fantastic to see the beautiful artwork of Ariel Olivetti. I’m really starting to anticipate this comic each month.

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 BlakeMPetit@gmail.com 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.

 

18
May
11

Classic EBI #92: What’s So New About It?

In this week’s all-new Everything But Imaginary, I talk about the terrifying news that Seth MacFarlane has been hired to reboot The Flintstones, an in the process pick apart why some reboots work and others don’t.

Everything But Imaginary #399: Runaway Reboots

But moving back to December 8, 2004, I had a particularly pertinent discussion. As rumors swirl about massive renumbering over at DC comics, I back then I was already discussing renumbering and misleading prefixes in…

Everything But Imaginary #92: What’s So New About It?

In the land of comic books, there is one thing you can be certain of — publishers will never tire of starting a comic book over with a new issue #1 in the desperate attempt to boost sales. We’ve seen it with Captain America and Iron Man, we’ve seen it with Catwoman and, soon, She-Hulk… we’ve even seen it with stalwarts like Wolverine. Legion of Super-Heroes is about to start volume five of that title. And if you don’t mind, I’d rather not even discuss the Punisher.

This drives the people who care about such things (geeks like me) absolutely crazy, if for no other reason than that we’ve got to constantly remember which volume of a series we’re referring to while having a debate. (“It happened in Fantastic Four #12!” “Which Fantastic Four #12?” “Er…”)

If a company feels the need to relaunch a title with a new #1, I prefer them to at least make a slight alteration to the title. Give it a subtitle, for instance — instead of Doctor Strange Vol. 3, the series was Doctor Strange: Sorcerer Supreme. That was cool. Or make a massive alteration that still keeps the feel of the book, such as when Justice League of America gave way to simply JLA.

There’s one other trick, of course, that publishers can pull out to make it seem like they’re launching another title instead of repackaging an old one, a trick that’s been used frequently of late: stick a “new” at the beginning of it. This isn’t a recent trick, it’s been happening at least as far back as the 80s, when Marv Wolfman and George Perez resurrected Teen Titans as The New Teen Titans. Marvel Comics turned Defenders into New Defenders towards the end run of that title, and even Jim Valentino turned his ShadowHawk property over to Kurt Busiek as New ShadowHawk for seven issues.

Why “new”? Well, what word has better connotations to drag in readers? “New” means it’s bold and exciting and innovative! (And even if the comic isn’t really any of those things, that “new” stamp gives it the feel that it is.) But something can only remain “new” for so long. Even if the book was still good, after a while the “New” Teen Titans weren’t all that new anymore. Eventually DC realized that and changed the title of the book again…

…to New Titans.

Okay, so maybe they kind of missed the point there. But eventually New Titans gave way to Teen Titans Vol. 2, which gave way to The Titans, which gave way to Teen Titans Vol. 3, which if nothing else proves that whoever is in charge of titles at DC Comics has learned absolutely nothing.

These days, though, it’s Marvel that’s really letting the “new” banner fly high. It started when Grant Morrison took over the adjectiveless X-Men comic book and asked that “New” be added to the title. This was done for two reasons:

1. Morrison was trying a totally new take on the superhero genre (well, kinda, except that what he actually did was wallow in the existing superhero genre even as he deconstructed it).

2. It made for a really cool logo that could be read the same upside-down as rightside-up.

When Morrison left the title changed back to just plain X-Men, but Marvel apparently liked the New X-Men moniker and applied it to another title they already had — New Mutants. Volume two.

(Brief aside here, New Mutants, New Warriors and a few other such books don’t quite fall into the category I’m talking about here because they weren’t originally repackaged versions of old titles — although each would be cancelled and spawn a second volume — but rather actual original concepts that were given the “new” label right off the bat to make them appear bold and exciting and innovative, even if they weren’t.)

So New Mutants Vol. 2 became New X-Men: Academy X. Well points to Marvel for at least giving it a subtitle. Interestingly, I think the “new” label fits this book much better than it ever did Morrison’s. While I loved that run, don’t misunderstand me, this book simply feels “new”er. Nunzio DeFilips and Christina Weir have done a great job crafting original characters who aren’t really superheroes, but students that are acutely aware that some day they may be called upon to become the next generation of X-Men whether they want to or not. It makes for one of my favorite reads every month.

This may even be one of those rare titles to not outgrow the “new” label, assuming it lasts that long. The book is about Xavier’s school, after all. It’s not that big a leap to imagine these students graduating a few at a time and a new class coming in to take their place, thereby keeping the book perpetually fresh.

And finally we come to the two big “new” titles to hit the stands in recent weeks — New Thunderbolts and New Avengers. The original Thunderbolts series, for those who don’t recall, was about a group of villains who first masqueraded as heroes in a scheme for domination, then had a change of heart and became heroes in fact. In this incarnation, a few remaining original members of the team begin it again with the hopes of recruiting other villains and giving them the same chance they had at redemption. Is it “new” though?

Well… yes and no.

About half of the characters are new to the title, and the returning characters (Mach-IV, Songbird and Atlas) are cast in decidedly different roles than when they were first on the team. The format of the book, however, seems the same as the original — lots of conspiracies, lots of questions about people’s loyalty and even a big shocker twist ending at the conclusion of the first issue. Not that any of these are a problem, mind you, but they do tone down the “new” aspect.

What about New Avengers? Well, the old Avengers disbanded after several of them died and one of them got crazy and a few of them quit, so when there was a major jailbreak at Ryker’s Island, somebody had to come in and fix things. Who’s that gonna be?

Good question.

We’re still not 100 percent sure who the final “New” Avengers lineup will be, but the safe money seems to include Captain America, Iron Man and Spider-Man (all of whom have been Avengers in the past), Luke Cage, Spider-Woman and Daredevil (who have at least associated with the Avengers), Wolverine (who already stars in four Marvel Universe titles a month and has absolutely no business being in this book but decided to jump on board since he was barred from being on the permanent roster of New X-Men: Academy X on the grounds that he wasn’t technically a student), and Sentry (who was once a bigwig in the Marvel Universe although nobody remembers him anymore).

So “new” is kind of stretching it here.

Not to say it’s bad, mind you. For the most part I enjoyed the premiere issue and I’m anxious to see how it goes. I’m just not sure how Marvel will still be able to justify having a “new” on the title by issue #25 or so, unless they plan to argue that the original Avengers lasted for 503 issues, so this team will still be newer at least until they hit 504.

Basically what this all boils down to is sort of a note to the comic book publishers — look for new adjectives. No pun intended. Now I’ve got to get back to work on my next book — it was going to be called 14 Days of Asphalt, but now I find myself leaning towards New Other People’s Heroes.

FAVORITE OF THE WEEK: December 1, 2004

This week was easier than expected for me to choose. New Avengers was good, Monolith is always a treat and G.I. Joe continues to impress, but nothing scored as high on the ol’ fave-o-meter as Y: The Last Man #29. Yorick, the last man on Earth, is dying. Agent 355 is looking for the ring he lost on the crazy premise that it somehow may have kept him alive. Dr. Mann puts all the pieces together. Brian K. Vaughan writes a lot of comic books every month, but none of the others I’ve read even approach how good this one is.

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 BlakeMPetit@gmail.com 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.

13
Apr
11

Classic EBI #85: Deconstruction and Glory

With tax season upon us, we’re all going to look for less expensive entertainment. In the interests of helping us all with that dilemma, I’ve taken it upon myself to sift through Amazon for a few graphic novels that — at least as I write this — can be had for under ten bucks a pop.

Everything But Imaginary #394: Eight Under Ten

In the classic EBI from this week, we go back to Oct. 20, 2004, when I look at the two extremes of the superhero genre…

Everything But Imaginary #85: Deconstruction and Glory

There are many types of comic book fans — the geeks, the fanboys, the gaming crossovers, the alts, but there are only two types of fans that really get on my nerves. First are their ones who only read superhero comics. The ones who refuse to come out of the narrow little shell and experience all of the wild, diverse realms of storytelling that comic books have to offer. Second, the ones that refuse to read superhero comics, the ones who think they’re too cool for that and anyone who enjoys a superhero comic is intellectually beneath them and that by picking up this week’s Amazing Spider-Man you are contributing to the downfall of western civilization. (You are actually doing this by picking up Action Comics.) [2011 Note: I wrote this during Chuck Austen’s run on Action Comics. I stand by this statement.]

Smart comic fans, I think, should fall somewhere in-between these two extremes. Nobody should ever read any comic they don’t like (save your money and buy something good), but it’s even more important not to close yourself off to a great story just because of the genre it is written in.

Just as comic book fans have divided themselves into these camps, however, superhero comics to a very large degree have divided themselves as well, and although there are some exceptions, almost all mainstream superhero titles these days play more to one side of the spectrum or the other — they deconstruct the heroes, or they glorify them.

“Deconstruction,” of course, is nothing new — one could argue that it goes back as far as Green Arrow’s discovery of his sidekick Speedy’s heroin addiction. There are lots of kinds of deconstructive stories — those that show the heroes has having all-too-human flaws or feet of clay, or those that simply show them failing, or achieving victory but at too high a price. The darker threats, the mass murders, the terrorist actions. These are the “deconstructive” comics.

Pretty much every title under the Marvel Knights banner fits this description — Daredevil is a great example. He was, in his early days, a brighter character, akin to Spider-Man, but as time went on he got darker and darker. Now his comic is the epitome of gritty, showing hard crime and real consequences. Matt Murdock’s world is not a nice place to live. Brian Michael Bendis, of course, is one of the tops in this realm of comics — along with guys like Grant Morrison and Bruce Jones, and perennial favorites like Frank Miller and Neal Adams. These are often the only comics the “too cool for school” crowd will touch, mainly because it’s so “grim” and “edgy” and helps to shatter the ideals of the spandex-clad warriors they sneer at the rest of the time.

Then we have the flip side of superhero comics — those that take the traditions and standards of the genre and raise them up, glorify them, and make them seem fresh and new again. Take a look at Mark Waid’s Fantastic Four for a primary example of this. While the “Unthinkable” and “Authoritative Action” storylines he told last year did get pretty dark, he stayed with what made the characters the heroes they were rather than pull them down, and he closed off that chapter of their lives in the “Afterlife” story by bringing back the Thing (killed in “Authoritative Action,”) with a little help from a certain Man Upstairs who looked an awful lot like Jack Kirby. Some readers balked at the unabashed sentimentality. I thought it was brilliant.

Geoff Johns has also proven himself quite adept at the glorification of superheroes, and he does it in a way that Waid often does too — he mines their pasts, digging into classic stories from the golden, silver and bronze ages, and uses them to craft something totally new. A lot of his Teen Titans series up to this point has been about bringing together threads left by the classic Marv Wolfman/George Perez incarnation of the property, but updating it to fit in the new members of the team. In Flash, he keeps taking old villains and remaking them into more serious threats (as he did with the likes of Mirror Master and Captain Cold) or introducing new threats that tie into the past of the character (like Murmur and the new Zoom).

Johns may just save his best storyweaving skills for JSA, however, and it’s no wonder. This is the first superhero team in the history of comic books, and several of the oldest characters in industry are still members. What’s more, they have progeny and proteges that are carring on in their names. Johns has brought together the legacies of the Star-Spangled Kid and Starman stogether in Stargirl, restored Hawkman to a characterization that actually makes sense and even made a character with the goofy Golden Age moniker Mr. Teriffic a deep, interesting character.

But man, the stuff he’s done with Hourman is even better. The original Hourman, Rex Tyler, died fighting Extant during DC’s Zero Hour miniseries. There are two other Hourmen walking around, though, Rex’s son Rick, and an android from the future with time-travel powers. In JSA we learn that the android plucked Rex from the timestream just before his death and gave him one hour to spend with his son, who could break up that hour into increments anytime he needed to talk to his father. When Rick was almost killed fighting Black Adam, though, he and Rex switched places, with Rex back in the “regular” timestream and Rick trapped in time. Johns wrapped up that storyline in last week’s JSA #66 with an ending that showed off everything that made these characters heroes.

If we’re talking about glorifying superheroes, though, one need look no further than Astro City. Kurt Busiek, Brent Anderson and Alex Ross have created a real lush, wonderful world that pays a brilliant tribute to everything that superhero comics have to offer, and they look at it from every angle. If you haven’t read this comic, you haven’t read superheroes right.

Here’s the thing — while excellent stories have been told in both the deconstruction and glorification subgenres of superheroes, not all characters are suited for both. Superman and Captain America, for instance, never really work in deconstructed stories. When you start making Superman grim or edgy, you lose what it is that makes him Superman.

This was the big problem I had with Mark Millar’s Ultimates series, and the reason I’m not getting Ultimates 2. Millar recreated regular Marvel characters and made it a point that they were not the same as the ones we were used to. However, the new characters he whipped up seemed to me to be nothing more than the original character’s worst traits magnified to the extreme. Giant-Man was nothing more than a wife-beater. Iron Man was nothing more than a drunken philanderer. Captain America was nothing more than an arrogant nationalist.

On the other hand, characters like the Punisher just don’t hold up if you try to glorify them. Even when you go lighthearted, as Garth Ennis did in the Marvel Knights incarnation of the character, it has to be dark humor, with an undertone of madness that belies the character’s situation in life.

Then there are those rare characters that work if you’re deconstructing or glorifying superheroes. I think the X-Men are probably the best example of this. During New X-Men, writer Grant Morrison dissected these characters, brought their faults to the forefront and made them face down threats — both from without and within — that tore the team apart. Much of his story was a satire of some of the more ridiculous aspects of the characters (Magneto’s tendency to get resurrected no matter what the circumstances of his death were, for instance, or the egocentric notion that the “X” in Weapon X was a letter and not a Roman numeral). He took the X-Men apart and pieced them into something new, then he put the chairs on the tables, wiped down the counter and left.

Then he leaves and what happens? Joss Whedon comes in with Astonishing X-Men and, using many of the same characters, puts them back into costumes and sends ‘em out to be superheroes. And it works, just as well. Meanwhile, Nunzio DeFillips and Christina Weir remake their New Mutants series into New X-Men: Academy X, a book about — what else? — teen superheroes. These are kids learning to one day become X-Men, and as such, the book has several elements that both glorify superheroes (the code names, the “squads”) and break them down (how Wither accidentally killed his father with his powers, for instance).

There are many, many different things that can be done with superhero comics, and a great many of them are being done right now, done very well. There’s an old saying in some parts of the country that if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes and it will change. With comic books, if you don’t like one, just take a step or two further down the rack. Even if you’re looking at a rack of superheroes, you won’t have far to go to find something totally different.

FAVORITE OF THE WEEK: October 6, 2004

Welcome back, Bill Willingham, you have been too long absent from this list, but last week’s Fables #30 bolted you right back to the front of the pack. I’ve been a fan of this title since the first issue, friends, and issue #30 is possibly the best yet. This is the answer to “decompressed” storytelling here, everything happens at once. The Fables are reconstructing their home after a battle, the election for the mayor of Fabletown is going off, Snow White is in labor (and Bigby Wolf is the father) — there are three major storylines in this issue, a half-dozen (if not more) minor storylines, and there’s still room in there for a few surprises. If you haven’t tried out Fables, this may just be a great place to start.

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 BlakeMPetit@gmail.com 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.

 

20
Mar
11

2 in 1 Showcase Episode 214: The News From C2E2

It’s all Blake again this week as we delve into the news from the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo, or C2E2 for short! The new Wonder Woman costume, the newest cast member for The Dark Knight Rises, the new creative teams for Punisher, Daredevil, Moon Knight and Ghost Rider… and are Captain America and The Flash both re-launching again? Good grief. It’s a double pick this week, Justice League: Generation Lost #21 and Ruse #1! Contact us with comments, suggestions, or anything else at Showcase@CXPulp.com!

Music provided by Music Alley from Mevio.

Episode 214: The News From C2E2

23
Sep
10

Classic EBI #66: The Best Comics I’ve Never Read III

There will be a new chapter of Other People’s Heroes this week, friends, I promise. But because of assorted play-related activities, it’s being delayed one day. I’ll be up on Friday. Please forgive me.

In the meantime, please enjoy my (also a day late) new Everything But Imaginary column from cxPulp.com. In EBI #368, I look at the news that DC Comics is shutting down its Wildstorm imprint: Everything But Imaginary #368: The End of the Storm.

And in this week’s classic EBI, I travel back to 2004, when I took a look at some great comics that I hadn’t even read yet…

June 9, 2004

The Best Comics I’ve Never Read III: Payback Time

Longtime readers of “Everything But Imaginary” will recall my infamous November 12, 2003 column where I outlined some of the best graphic novels I’d read and discussed what I’d heard were the best ones I hadn’t. You remember that, don’t you? C’mon, it was a classic! Um… Julia Roberts guest-starred in it.

Anyway, a few months later on Feburary 25, 2004, I came back with my first progress report on which books from that reading list I’d read and whether or not they cut the mustard. Well, that time has come around again — I’ve read a few more books on the list and a few more that weren’t on the list that I want to share. The rules are simple: I have two lists, one of books I haven’t read that people have recommended and one of books I have read that I’m recommending to you guys. Once I read a book on the first list, if I like it, it “graduates” to the second list. Simple enough? Let’s get to it.

The first book I picked up off the list this time around was recommended repeatedly by my friend Jenny. Jenny told me I had to read The Punisher: Welcome Back Frank by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillion. I resisted for quite some time because, frankly, I don’t really like the Punisher as a character. I finally relented because I trust Jenny’s judgment, because I really enjoyed the Preacher series by the same creative team and because I heard several elements from this comic were being used in the then-upcoming movie.

What I got was the best Punisher comic I’ve ever read.

Ennis brought Frank Castle back to his roots in New York City, dispelled an earlier storyline where he killed people as a service to a band of angels with one snarky page of captions, and infused the book with a sense of humor I’d never seen there before. It went from being a crime drama about a gun-toting mob-targeting serial killer to being a dark comedy about a gun-toting, mob-targeting serial killer, and somehow that made all the difference.

I still don’t like The Punisher, but I liked the story Garth Ennis told about him very much. So much, in fact, that I’ve already gotten the second book of their run, The Punisher: An Army of One. It too, was a lot of fun. The Punisher: Welcome Back Frank has graduated to my recommended list.

The second book I tried this time out was Criminal Macabre: A Cal McDonald Mystery, recommended by our resident Steve Niles junkie Andrea Speed. After Andrea convinced me to try Steve Niles’s Love Me Tenderloin one-shot, I started grabbing everything I could of his: 30 Days of Night, Fused… and this great graphic novel featuring the hardboiled film noir spook hunter Cal McDonald investigating an odd alliance between various groups of monsters that typically have nothing to do with one another. McDonald is a real detective, part Sam Spade, part Peter Venkman, with lots of hard-drinking, hard-living entertainment thrown in to boot. As a lover of old movies — both detective and monster — seeing those two genres sandwiched together makes for an excellent read.

The art, by 30 Days collaborator Ben Templesmith is just gory enough to satisfy slasher movie fans and just chaotic enough to get across the world Cal is living in. It’s a perfect fit.

I’ve jumped on with the next miniseries, Last Train to Deadsville, and read one of the three prose books Niles has written about Cal, Guns, Drugs and Monsters. I’m still trying to hunt down the first novel in the series, Savage Membrane, and the collection of Cal short stories called Dial “M” For Monster.

So it’s safe to say I liked this one. It graduates, big-time.

Finally, I’ve got to give props to a book that Andrea reviewed last month, which I had already purchased but hadn’t had a chance to read yet: 24 Hour Comics. Back in 1991 Scott McCloud (whom you should know because his Understanding Comics should be required reading for anyone who picks up a comic anywhere in the universe) first proposed the idea of trying to create a complete 24-page comic book in 24 hours. You could get together your materials, food, etc. together beforehand, but no writing, preliminary sketches or anything creative was allowed. Once you put your pen to the paper, the clock starts, and you’ve got just 24 hours to write, draw, letter, color (if you wish) and edit the comic to make it qualify.

Since then hundreds of people have taken up the challenge. This book collects nine of McCloud’s favorite efforts. From a bizarre tale by Steve Bissette to a rare story written and drawn by comics writing legend Neil Gaiman (who couldn’t finish 24 pages in the time allotted and stopped when the time ran out), these nine stories really show what a creator can do when he pushes himself. Some of them, I admit, fall into the category of what I think of as “pretentious alternative comics” (which is a different category than “quality alternative comics,” of which there are many), but all of the effort is appreciated and the very idea of the experiment is exciting enough for me to recommend this book. And stay tuned, because back in April a nationwide “24 Hour Comic Day” was held, allowing creators from all corners to take the challenge. A second volume will be published later this year collecting the best stories from that event.

One last thing I want to recommend, technically, isn’t a comic book, but it is about the purest comic there is: Charles M. Schulz’s Peanuts. A few weeks ago here in EBI I did a column trumpeting the arrival of The Complete Peanuts: 1950-1952, the first in a proposed 25-volume set that will collect all 50 years of the legendary comic strip. Around the same time I stumbled onto the website of the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center in Santa Rosa, Calif., and specifically, found my way to two books offered through its online store. Li’l Folks is a collection of early strips featuring the childlike characters that would eventually evolve into Peanuts. Second was a volume called Tribute to Sparky, a collection of cartoons and comic strips done by other artists to honor Schulz upon the announcement of his retirement, his death in February 2000, and then again that May when nearly every newspaper comic strip in syndication ran a tribute to him on the same day. Tribute especially is a particularly moving collection, and these two books will make very fitting bookends to the Complete Peanuts collections once those are complete.

Anyway, there’s my two cents for this round. As before, I’ll finish this column by printing my complete lists — if you’d like to recommend something for me to look out for the next time I do one of these in a few months, go right ahead. If I haven’t read it, it’ll go on the list. I’m looking for great comics that you think people might not know about, preferably something available in graphic novel form, because it’s just plain more economical and easier to find. And if you’re suggesting a series of graphic novels, make sure you give me the title of the first book in the series so I know what to look for. Ready? Here goes:

BLAKE’S READING LIST

Animal Man Vol. 1
Black Panther: The Client
Blankets
Cerebus Vol. 1
Doom Patrol: Crawling From the Wreckage
The Gypsy Lounge
Herobear and the Kid
Hulk: Boiling Point
Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Boy in the World
Jinx and Goldfish
Knights of the Dinner Table: Bundles of Trouble
Lone Wolf and Cub Vol. 1: The Assassin’s Road
Maus: A Survivor’s Tale
New Teen Titans Archives Vol. 1
Record of Lodoss War: The Lady of Pharis
Red Rocket 7
Rex Mundi: Guardian of the Temple
Safe Area Goradze
Terminal City
300
Torso
Top 10
V For Vendetta

YOUR READING LIST (From Blake)

The Adventures of Barry Ween, Boy Genius series
Astro City series (Vol 1: Life in the Big City)
Bone series (Vol 1: Out From Boneville)
The Complete Peanuts
Creature Tech
Criminal Macabre
Daredevil: Wake Up
Dork Tower series (Vol 1: Dork Covenant)
Fables series (Vol 1: Legends in Exile)
Fantastic Four: Imaginauts
Hellboy: Seeds of Destruction
The Liberty Project
Meridian series (Vol 1: Flying Solo)
Preacher series (Vol 1: Gone to Texas)
Punisher: Welcome Back Frank
Road to Perdition
24 Hour Comics
Understanding Comics/Reinventing Comics
The Wizard’s Tale

So that should keep us both busy for a while. Let’s get reading.

FAVORITE OF THE WEEK: June 2, 2004

It was a pretty slow week for me at the comic shop, and the Favorite of the Week this time out gets the crown mostly on sheer potential. Tony Bedard was one of my favorite CrossGen writers (I am hoping against hope for the salvation of Route 666 and Negation), so when I found out he was taking over Exiles, a book I’d long thought about trying out anyway, I jumped on board. I haven’t been disappointed. Bedard gave me a pretty good grasp on the characters and situations, and last week’s issue #48 closed off his first storyline with a strong finish, and good close to the previous chapter of the characters’ lives, and a great launching point for the next chapter. This story took place in the mainstream Marvel universe, though, and idea of hopping from one alternate universe to another is the hook that got me interested in this title in the first place. I’m very anxious to see where it goes from here.

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 BlakeMPetit@gmail.com and visit him on the web at Evertime Realms. Read past columns at the Everything But Imaginary Archive Page.

28
Jul
10

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 www.freecomicbookday.com 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.

FAVORITE OF THE WEEK: April 7, 2004

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 Blake@comixtreme.com and visit him on the web at Evertime Realms. Read past columns at the Everything But Imaginary Archive Page.




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