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“My tubes are flashing wildly…!”

§ October 11th, 2013 § Filed under golden age, grendel, pal plugging § 5 Comments

So it turns out I was wrong, so very wrong, when I suggested that the story on the cover of Amazing Adventures #4 (the Ziff-Davis one from 1951, not one of the three that Marvel Comics did) could no way be matched by whatever story was within:


No, the story is just as crazypants as the cover promises:


Two aliens decide to use love robots to conquer the Earth, but their plans go awry when…well, you can probably guess. You can read it for yourself here, starting on page 3. Special thanks to reader Paul, who has kindly declined my offer of quatloos (as my mouth was writing space-checks that my United Federation of Planets Bank couldn’t cash), but I will happily direct you to his website, to the Inferior 4 Livejournal where he regularly contributes items of interest, or to Amazonwhere you can track down many of his fine works, in print or digital formats.

In other news…man, after that story, do you really want other news? How ’bout this, since Employee Timmy sent this link to me via the Twitter: Dynamite and Dark Horse teaming up for a three-part crossover between Grendel and the Shadow, written and drawn by Matt Wagner. Holy crow. I find this…acceptable. Very acceptable indeed.

Or maybe it could be released bi-weekly…my expectations aren’t totally unrealistic.

§ April 4th, 2012 § Filed under grendel, retailing, swamp thing, this week's comics § 10 Comments

So we had that little Avengers Vs. X-Men release party thingie last night…that’s where we get special dispensation from Marvel ‘n’ Diamond to release the comic ahead of the normal Wednesday street date. Well, a whole four hours ahead, I guess, since technically I could have started selling all the week’s new comics the second Felix’s paws were pointed at the witching hour*, but frankly I’ve put in enough time at the shop lately. I needs my beauty sleep…I mean, really, have you seen me?

But away, we put out the AvX #1s, and moved quite a few, which kind of surprised me since our town tends to roll up the sidewalks once nighttime rolls around, but we had a bunch of folks stroll on in and a good time was had by all. And we had bit of a mini-sale, too, so it was definitely worth staying open a little later than we normally do on Tuesdays.

I was mostly still working on processing the new comics order and pulling for the comic savers, so I tended to let other folks at the shop handle the AvX crowd. But there were a couple of things about this week’s new comics I wanted to point out:

1. Looks like Marvel is moving toward that slightly less-slick/”self-cover” format on some of their books. It’s not quite the same as the paperstock of the interior pages, but the covers ain’t as slick as they used to be. It’s not like that for every Marvel this week, but it is for quite a few of them.

2. The third issue of that Avengers movie tie-in Fury’s Big Week is out this week…and for second there I thought all our copies were damaged and missing pages. But no, it’s 20 pages of comics, the covers…and no ads. A while back Johanna was wondering what happened to comic book ads, in which it seemed like all the ads in recent Marvel and DC comics were just house ads for other Marvel and DC comics. But Fury’s Big Week doesn’t even have those…it just does away with the extra non-story pages altogether and gives you a 20-page booklet. Were previous issues of this series like this, and I just didn’t notice it?

Anyway, I guess this is the next cost-cutting device in maintaining the monthly floppy format…just plain using less paper, since they’re not making any money selling ad space on the extra pages anyway.

3. Also, Dave Sim has a new issue of Glamourpuss out. I love this comic, but God help you if you try to explain to someone what it’s about, because they’ll just look at you funny.

4. Swamp Thing is also out this week, with New Swampy finally making his debut. …I think it was worth the wait, though I wish every issue were 64 pages long, no ads, and released weekly, which I think is an entirely reasonable and economically-sound demand.

Enough about new comics…let me talk very briefly about some old comics. Reader Tom asks

I’d be happy to see an update, however brief, on the Great Grendel reread you were doing a while back… they were favourite comics of mind but I’m not sure they’ve aged well.

Yeah, I have a bad habit of not following up on things like “I’M TOTALLY GOING TO REREAD ALL OF, SAY, JUSTICE LEAGUE TASK FORCE AND REPORT BACK TO YOU” because Mike of Bloggings Future occasionally doesn’t like being constrained by plans made by Mike of Bloggings Past and I just never get around to, you know, stuff.

But I did reread all the Matt Wagner-written Grendels, and the Four Devils, One Hell mini by James Robinson, and a few of the other minis…and pretty much got burnt out/lost interest at about the same point in the various 1990s Grendel minis as I did when they were originally coming out. The minis that came out after that (including 1999’s Devil Child, which I first read during this “great Grendel reread”) tied back in to the early Hunter Rose-era of Grendel, which I have far more interest in than the future-history storylines that occupied most of the ’90s issues. I did reread all those late ’90s/2000s Grendel, but I think I’ll probably never get around to reading those few minis that I skipped originally. Ah, well…it’s not like I haven’t read enough comics.

* Yes, I know on most Felix-style clocks the hands aren’t in the shape of Felix’s paws. But I wrote it and don’t feel like changing it. So there.

The Great Grendel Re-Read Project continues apace…

§ February 7th, 2012 § Filed under grendel, retailing § 9 Comments

…and actually jumped ahead a bit the night my technical problems began, as I passed the time waiting for utility software and installation-type things to work on my computer by working my way through that pile of Grendel I just happened to have sittin’ here. (In case you’re curious, as of today, I’m about two or three series into the Grendel Tales from the early ’90s, after skipping ahead and reading the harrowing Devil’s Child from a few years ago.)

In the process of rereading these, I was reminded of this particular product, as advertised in the later Comico issues from about ’89 or so:


I’m pretty sure this was the same product available in comic shops and not just through mail order, as at the time we certainly had a stack of about five or six packages of Grendel masks at the shop. (That $34.95 price point sounds about right.) It took us…a while to sell them, but sell they did, and I kind of wish we still had them so I could run across rooftops at night throw ‘em on the eBay or something.

Fine, I was joking about the “running across rooftops” thing maybe, but I did have a regular customer of ours ask me way back when what would happen if someone bought one of these masks, wore it while getting up to some hijinks (i.e. of a felonious nature) and suddenly Action News Team 7 is there at the shop’s front door wondering what my part was in all this. I think I told him I’d throw on one of the other Grendel masks and chase them out, because hey, no such thing as bad publicity.

…Okay, I probably wouldn’t have done that, and I’m pretty sure no one who did buy the masks was likely to go out on a crime spree, thanks to my extensive background checks, so I’m pretty sure I was safe from being the center of a media firestorm. Well, at least until a couple of years later when Superman died and fingers started pointing at me — “He’s the one! That comic shop guy killed Superman!”

Anyway, that’s a swell ad, and I hope and pray that was actually Grendel creator Matt Wagner modelling the mask in the photos there, because that would be awesome. Yeah, I know, it probably isn’t, but don’t you poop on my dreams.

And how about that airline food, am I right?

§ January 30th, 2012 § Filed under collecting, grendel § 17 Comments

So since I’m sure you were wondering, I finally checked at the shop for those Grendel issues I skipped all those years ago, and it turned out we had them all save one. AUGH. …That’s okay, since the one we’re missing is easily obtainable on the eBay for next-to-nothing Buy It Now prices and usurious shipping costs, so I’ll get around to picking it up eventually.

I did finishing rereading the Christine Spar Grendel run (issues #1-#12 of the second Comico series, 1986-7), and…man, I’d forgotten about how crazy the Pander Brothers art was on this series. Well, okay, I actually hadn’t forgotten, but I was certain my memory of it was exaggerating just how out there it was, but nope, I was remembering it just about right. …That’s not a criticism of the art, by the way…it did take a little getting used to, and it is a bit on the wild side, but it would be hard to imagine this series drawn any other way.

I’m sure that’s just because I’ve had 25 years to let these comics swirl around in my head since I first read the things, but I do adore the look of these comics. It’s…well, it’s hard to explain, and I hope you folks understand what I’m getting at here, but in a strange way the art is both sort of dated and cutting edge at the same time. It has this retro “we have seen the future, and it is mid-’80s MTV videos for New Wave bands” look, while maintaining a level of fast-paced and occasionally shocking storytelling that compares favorably, if not surpasses, most superhero comic work on the shelves now.

Plus, those guys sure did like their big jackets:

Reader Tom commented on the “misplaced futurity” of this initial storyline, with the floating phones and flying cars and such. (It did get flatscreen TVs right, though, but that’s pretty much a gimme as far as tech predictions go…I mean, the viewscreen on Star Trek was pretty much a giant flatscreen.) It had me thinking about the exact timeframe for the story, which is mostly pinned on Spar’s comment in the first issue that television interviewer/personality Phil Donahue is “70, at least. More?” Since Donahue is 76 now, that puts the time of the story at about…well, today, or maybe within the last few years. Probably after 2004, as one of the supporting characters has a “FRANCE 2004″ poster on his wall.

So yeah, flying cars aren’t commonplace in the real world, so Grendel‘s usefulness as an accurate indicator of social / technological development is pretty much nil. Sorry, gang! But seriously, would you want a world with flying cars? I’ve seen how people drive on the road, man…I wouldn’t want ‘em in the skies.

Another thing that slipped my mind until I pulled these comics out for the Great 2012 Grendel Rereading Project was the fact that most issues of this particular series had wraparound covers. You can see the fronts of them here, but aside from this smallish scan of a later non-Pander issue, there doesn’t seem to be an online source showing the full covers. If there is one, someone out there let me know so I can point folks to those swell full images of the Pander Brothers’ work on the first twelve covers. (The rest are pretty good, too.)
 

image from Grendel #5 (February 1987) by Matt Wagner, the Pander Brothers & Jay Geldhof

Now had they cast Angelina Jolie as Christine Spar for the movie, she would have played both Grendel and Grendel’s mother during her career.

§ January 27th, 2012 § Filed under collecting, grendel § 13 Comments

So all this talk over the last few days about rereading your old comics, combined with a brief Twitter-chat with Awesome Hospital‘s Matt Digges, all on top of my finally rereading Mage: The Hero Defined (yes, I got around to it!), has put me in the mood to revisit Matt Wagner’s other major series Grendel.

My original exposure to the character of Grendel was as a back-up in the first Mage series, later collected in that graphic album I showed you two days ago. And then there was the forty-issue series from Comico, followed a few years later by multiple mini-series from Dark Horse, with the Devil’s Vagary one-shot from the Comico Collection and a Silverback mini-series (starring Grendel’s nemesis Argent) mixed in there, somewhere.

Also along the way, I’d acquired the original unfinished Grendel mini-series which was later retold in drastically different fashion in the Mage back-ups. I eventually sold those off, which I’m kind of sorry about, since I really did like those big, clunky black and white comics with their semi-amateurish but compelling covers…but they’ve all been collected, including the covers (and the actual debut of Grendel from Primer #2, which I never owned) into a hardcover, so maybe I’ll grab one of those to replace their loss.

Now, I’d read that forty-issue series, which picked up with the second Grendel (Christine Spar, “granddaughter” of the original Grendel Hunter Rose), which then proceeded to pass on the Grendel character to other characters as the series progressed, and the setting of the series was pushed farther and farther still into the future, and as that series ended and the continuity continued through the multiple Dark Horse minis…I eventually lost interest, it seemed. In fact, in a very rare occurrence in my years as a comics fan, I actually stopped reading the Grendel comics halfway through one of the mini-series (Devil’s Choices, from 1995).

Even though it’s been (urgh) seventeen years, I’m reasonably sure my decision to quit midway through that series had nothing to do with the solid creative team of Darko Macan and the late Edvin Biukovic, and more to do with just having had enough Grendel. Plus, the further away we got from Hunter Rose and Christine Spar, the less interest I had in the ongoing saga. However, now, with an impending rereading of all these Grendel comics planned, I find myself interested in picking up the last two issues of Devil’s Choices, as well as the two Grendel Tales minis that followed. In fact, I keep meaning to grab them at the shop, as soon as I (ha ha) have some free time at work.

My self-imposed Grendel hiatus was relatively short-lived, as just a few years later we returned to the Hunter Rose-era Grendel with the Black, White and Red anthology series, followed by another series in a similar vein a couple of years later, and a full-length Hunter Rose story in Wagner’s Behold the Devil mini in 2007-8. (In fact, I may have jumped ahead and reread that Behold the Devil mini Thursday evening, prior to writing this post.)

I enjoyed those later Hunter Rose minis. I liked the early stuff quite a bit, and I enjoyed most of the forty-issue series from Comico. …I honestly don’t recall how much I enjoyed (or didn’t enjoy) the follow-up Dark Horse Comics Grendel minis, as it’s been so long since I’ve read them. Thus, a good candidate for a rereading, I think.

So anyway, I’ve got my Grendel comics pulled out of the Vast Mikester Comic Archives, and they’re sitting here on my desk ready to be perused, and…hmmm, that’s like almost half a small comics box-worth pile of funnybooks, there. Thatsa lotta Grendel. …I’ll let you know how it goes.

This isn’t meant to be a comprehensive listing of every single Grendel comic, of course…there are the two Batman/Grendel minis, and that Devil’s Child mini from ’99 I somehow missed, and a Grendel novel…or two, maybe? I gotta do more research.

I’ll have you know I was writing this instead of reading Mage II like I was planning to do.

§ January 25th, 2012 § Filed under collecting, grendel § 13 Comments

Related to my last couple of posts about rereading comics from your collection, is the purchasing of stories one already owns in trade paperback form. For the most part, I do try to avoid doing that, just for purely financial reasons. However, there are times when I feel compelled, like when they finally reprinted all of Len Wein’s Swamp Thing stories in the Roots of the Swamp Thing hardcover (and not just the ones drawn by Bernie Wrightson), or that Firestorm trade that had an appealing cover and put all those old comics on nice, white paper. That’s one way to get me to reread some of my old comics…give ‘em to me in a new presentation that will make me want to look at them again.

Now, since I’m a Swamp Thing fan, I’m not going to get rid of my original Swamp Thing comics after rebuying the stories in collected form, because I have a sickness and I need help. But as has been my semi-regular habit, I will happily replace my original issues with collected editions…like, for example, the early issues of Sandman. There was a time when those early issues were in high demand and sold for crazy money, and when that slipcased set of three paperbacks reprinting the first 20-something issues was released, I was perfectly fine with selling off those issues, getting the slipcased set, and using the extra money for food, gas money, and well, okay, probably just more comics.

I’ve done that a few times over the years…I bought the Watchmen paperback collection when it originally came out, but it took my acquiring of the Absolute Watchmen oversized hardcover to finally get me to throw my original run on the eBay. And I sold off my original Dark Knight Returns issues when I figured I was perfectly happy with having the story in the Longmeadow Press edition.

Over the last day or so I mentioned the Starblaze/Donning editions of the original Mage series by Matt Wagner, and I thought I’d throw the cover of the third one up here on the site just ’cause:


Mage was another one of those series where I ended up buying the collected editions because they were just so nicely done and they were in a larger format (about 8 1/2 by 11 inches, versus the standard comic book size), which resulted in me selling off the original comics. Well, actually, I used those comics as trade bait at a convention, and, like with the Sandman comics I sold, used them to get even more comics, so the vicious cycle continued. The only slight problem with this is that the Mage series included Grendel back-ups, and I didn’t want to lose those, but thankfully there was this album collecting all those stories:


This has been reprinted several times in comic book sized editions by Dark Horse, but I think this larger-formatted collection from Comico remains my favorite version.

I think, ironically, my comics blogging time has taken the place of my comics rereading time.

§ January 24th, 2012 § Filed under collecting, grendel § 16 Comments

Thanks for all the responses to yesterday’s post about what you’re currently rereading (or would like to reread). As expected, I was reminded of several other comics I’d like to revisit, but that’s okay…I may not have time now, but it’ll give me something to do when I retire when I’m, like, 85 years old.

Chad brought up an interesting point:

“…does anyone ever find themselves doing a re-read of a series they remember being ambivalent about, just to see if it’s still worth keeping?”

That’s a good question, I think…by and large, any series I was ambivalent about at the time I tended to drop from the buy list, so I don’t have a whole lot in that category. But there are certain series that I followed through thick and thin, like Incredible Hulk or the multiple Superman titles, that have had changes in creative teams, or storylines that didn’t feel like they were up to snuff. For example, the post-Peter David issues of the original Hulk run…I suspect they were perfectly fine Hulk comics, but my general impression from my reading them at the time is that they weren’t really a patch on what David had been doing with the character. Probably not a fair judgement call, and I think if I pulled those issues back out of the Vast Mikester Comic Archives and reread them, my assessment would be more charitable.

I made a joke in the title of yesterday’s post that my rereading of the ’90s Superman comics was solely to document the impact of the “Death of Clark Kent” storyline from…’93, I think? I was actually just giving them a reread because…well, I’d reread the Byrne/Wolfman post-Crisis reboot issues plenty of times, but had only given the later issues a single reading as they were issued (aside from the Death/Return of Superman issues, which are very rereadable strong serialized superhero storytelling), and I wanted to see how it held up as a continuing narrative. …Mostly, it maintains a fairly consistent continuity, which started to slip a bit once attempts to incorporate elements from the TV shows and movies, along with attempted rollbacks to pre-Crisis status quos, began to undermine the very reason the ’80s reboot was attempted in the first place. Not that I have any particular problem with that…I just think it’s an interesting phenomenon that I was able to watch as it happened, rather than piece together after the fact by researching back issues and investigating comics industry history.

Since yesterday I had a couple of folks mention “The Death of Clark Kent” as a real nadir of the franchise, which has me tempted to go back and look at it again. My memory of it is primarily a lot of running around and shouting and things blowing up, which to be fair describes a lot of superhero comics, so that doesn’t really bring anything to the table, there. My other memory is how this seemed the most blatant of attempts at grabbing some of that “Death of Superman” attention that had long since dried up. But I don’t remember hating this story, so perhaps I’ll look at it again and see if maybe if it was a storyline I tolerated more than enjoyed (much like how I discovered what I willingly put up with in some of the Superman annuals, last time I revisited some older Superman stories).

~P~ mentioned

“Oh, and something that I re-read many, many times… the volumes of Matt Wagner’s MAGE. VOl 1 is AWESOME! I can read that any time or place.”

That’s another thing…I’ve probably reread the original Mage many, many times. The sequel series I read as it was coming out, and then again after it was completed. And that was pretty much it. …Not because I didn’t like it, but…I’m not sure why. Just, like with the rest of my comics, I never found the time, I guess. There’s also the fact that I have the original series in those beautiful Starblaze/Donning paperback editions, the only decent reprinting this series ever received, sitting on my bookshelves and easily within reach. Not to mention the fact that series has also been out for quite a bit longer, granting more time for rereading, particularly in my younger days when I had more time to read these darn funnybooks.

(Of course, in the midst of writing this I went down to the Archives and pulled that second series out of my boxes and I’ll get around to reading it again, soon.)

This sort of falls under Chad’s question, I suppose, but another Matt Wagner project, Grendel, is one of those comics where I really loved the earlier issues, but it…kind of lost me once the series got into the distant future and…well, if you read the comics, you know what I mean. I tried to keep up with the multiple Grendel Tales minis but just eventually lost track and interest (at least until the various Hunter Rose-era minis popped up years later). I think I just stopped reading halfway through one of the series. I wonder if I went back now, I’d appreciate those comics a little more? I’d like to think so. …Ah, well, just add those to the reread pile, too, I guess.