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I looked through my Amazing Heroes Preview Specials for way too long trying to find that book’s original title.

§ August 18th, 2017 § Filed under pal plugging, publishing, self-promotion § No Comments

A couple of reactions to Wednesday’s post:

Eric L asks

“OK, but was Radioactive Adolescent Black Belt Hamsters any good? The title sounds like a blatant rip off, but it seems to have lasted a while so maybe it had something going for it?”

The fact that the title “Adolescent Radioactive Black-Belt Hamsters” was so on the nose was pretty much part of the joke, and folks kept putting out books with more tortured variations of that title format. Even Marvel was going to get in on the act, with a one-shot titled Grown-up [or Adult] Thermonuclear Samurai Elephants, but it took so long to come out that the fad had passed, and it was renamed Power Pachyderms prior to its eventual unleashing.

But Hamsters was the first out of the gate in the “‘borrowing the Turtles’ sauce” race, and…well, as these things go, it wasn’t bad. I only had one copy of the comic in the store for me to flip through and remind myself of the actual contents:

…and of course it was the 3D special, which was a small bit of a challenge to my aging eyes. But, you know, it was amusing enough, and professionally done…it did its job as a funnybook. Also as I recall, other issues featured work by Ty Templeton and Sam Keith, so there were some interesting art jobs on the series that you probably wouldn’t have expected. Yes, it will always be remembered as “The First Knock-off of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” and it deserves some credit (or, more likely, blame) for leading the way for the [blank] [blank] [blank] [animal, maybe] titles that would follow, but as black and white boom comics go, it’s certainly nowhere near the bottom.

Dave Carter says

“The comic I remember most from the B&W boom was Mark Martin’s Gnatrat. I recall quite enjoying it at the time (though may tastes may have been less discerning in those days…)”

Trust your memories at least on Gnatrat and related titles, Dave…as I mentioned in this post about The Boom, Mark Martin’s comics were Quality Products by a talented cartoonist, definitely top echelon of the period. They are Batman/Daredevil/Frank Miller parodies, but they hold up. There was a complete Gnatrat trade paperback a few years back…out of print, but used copies are cheap on Amazon at that link.

• • •

In other news:

  • The next installment in the Swamp Thing-a-Thon at my Patreon should be up over the weekend, or Monday at the latest. Only one dollar gets you a extra giant wall of text from me twice a month!
  • Alan David Doane notes a recent David Letterman interview where the talk show host reflects on frequent guest (and comics legend) Harvey Pekar. I remember watching all of these as they aired all those years ago…usually funny but so uncomfortable. I think it was in that final appearance that Dave got pissed at Harvey and referred to American Splendor as “this Mickey Mouse thing.” I suppose I could go look this up on YouTube, but that’ll probably just make me agitated.
  • Bully, the Little Bull Stuffed with SPF 300,000 sunscreen, looks directly at the Sun-Eaterwithout protective lenses! Bully, NO! Always be safe when observing solar events!

Apparently Twitter was celebrating some Cat Day or ‘nother recently…

§ August 11th, 2017 § Filed under pal plugging, retailing, scans, self-promotion, the thing § 2 Comments

…being one of the at least three Cat Days recognized by God and man. Alas, I missed the August event, but I’m ready for the ones in October and February with this little ol’ panel right here:


Yeah, that’s right, cats are doin’ it for themselves, standin’ on their little cat feet, and not taking any guff from the fella with the syringe. He totally had it coming. Anyway: Cat Day, everyone, Cat Day!

In other news:

  • I mentioned the new Mister Miracle #1 on Wednesday, and it was quite the hit apparently. My initial order on this was a little on the low side, since New Gods material that’s not by Kirby can be bit of a hard sell…but after having several customers ask about it and getting some additions to the pull lists, well, I was convinced to go a little higher. Not high enough, it seems, as they’re gone now, but I would have been out a lot more quickly otherwise. Oh, and Diamond seems to be out of stock on ’em as well, so look forward to that second printing announcement Any Day Now…if it hasn’t happened already. I don’t know, I was busy today.

    Now it remains to be seen if the right lessons are learned, two of which are of course 1) more Tom King/Mitch Gerads comics, and 2) more good Fourth World comics. The wrong lesson is 3) “better crank out more Fourth World comics as fast as possible by anyone we can get, it’s hot hot hot right now!” but let’s see what happens.

    I did have one person come in to grab the comics because, as this customer declared, “Mister Miracle is my favorite character!” I’m really curious about what her reaction was to the actual comic, since it’s quite a different take than what we’ve seen before. Depends how she liked Grant Morrison’s Seven Soldiers version, I guess.

    Fellow blogging machine Ryan has a few words to say about this here new Scott Free funnybook, so go see what he’s got to say.

  • NOT COMICS: pal Andrew talks about his brief obsession with slot car racing, one that I also shared for a short time in my long-ago youth. As I recall, the gimmick with the set I had was that the cars could change lanes, which I thought was pretty slick. The neighbor kid across the street and I whiled away some precious days goofin’ around with these things. …I’ve got no big reveal or life lesson here, just thought you should know I wasted my life doing stuff other than reading comics.
  • Don’t tell Bully, the Little Stuffed Bull Too Young to Know about Such Things, but that Amalgam-ated character’s name could have been truncated into much, much worse form. I mean, that had to be on purpose, right? …Anyway, I apologize in advance. (Oh, and I just looked at the comments there, and I guess Twitter pal Evan beat me to the same shameful conclusion.)
  • Hey, have I reminded you lately about my store‘s Instagram page? I set it up quite a while ago, but I’m trying to use it more frequently now…usually posting pics of goodies around the store and new acquisitions, with the occasional pic of Aunt Petunia’s favorite nephew. Please, follow me there if you are so inclined!

 
 

image from Unexpected #197 (April 1980) by George Kashdan & Ruben Yandoc

Blogging about that particular comic in the year 2017.

§ August 3rd, 2017 § Filed under pal plugging, publishing, self-promotion § 1 Comment

First, my pals Matt and Chris took listener questions for the latest episode of the War Rocket Ajax podcast, and you can literally hear joy die in their voices when they get to mine (at about the 53:50 mark). Don’t worry, fellas, some day you’ll come around to my way of thinking!

Second, if you follow me on the Twittererers, you may have seen this thread a while back where I talk about a fella who used to be in the magazine distribution business who came by to see if I’d be interested in buying comics. He didn’t have any on hand at the time, but from the sounds of things his particular heyday was about the late ’80s/early ’90s period of the comics boom. Of particular note, he mentioned receiving a notice from a publisher to not distribute some bundles of a particular comic that had been delivered to him, and to have them destroyed. Well, he said he kept a couple of bundles intact “just in case,” though he couldn’t recall that actual title in question.

And just yesterday, the gentleman came back in with a sampling of the comics that were in his possession. Plenty of those Jim Lee X-Men #1s, one of the bagged X-Force #1s (though the bag had been slit at one end and the trading card removed), and a copy of the recalled comic of which he still had hundreds of copies. And that comic was:


…the Saved by the Bell Special from 1992.

To start with, this is assuming the gentleman’s account is correct, and that this is the comic the publisher asked to be pulped. I only saw the one (very beat up) copy (the scan above was stolen from the Grand Comics Database). He said he had plenty more of this very comic, and for the sake of argument I will take him at his word.

Next, my initial assumption was that there was a publishing date discrepancy…the comic the gentleman had contained a March 1992 publishing date in its indicia, whereas the GCD listing linked above had it dated at March 1993. Maybe there was a licensing issue, thought I, and Harvey wasn’t actually allowed to send out that comic for whatever reason…a problem cleared up a year later when they reissued it. However, the Comic Book Database gives the comic a 1992 date as well, so maybe there’s a typo at GCD? I don’t know.

Also the Holiday Special is a nearly direct reprint of the first Saved by the Bell comic from 1992, so I thought maybe that was just the previous edition’s indicia…except this indicia very clearly stated it was for the “Saved by the Bell Special.”

Ultimately I can’t find any reason for this to have been pulped, other than the sheer fact it was a Saved by the Bell comic. The gentleman said he definitely got a letter from the responsible party instructing him to shred these things, but unless he tracks that letter down (and he may yet…he says he thinks he still has it) I have no idea why this issue was allegedly held back. I don’t recall anything from the time, since that definitely falls within my early years of working comics retail, and I can’t find anything on the Recalled Comics site, so…who knows? It’s a Mystery for the Ages, one to pass down to your children, your grandchildren, your great-grandchildren, all the way ’til the end of time. Or I find more information, one of the two.

And third, the next installment of the Swamp Thing-a-Thon should be up over at my Patreon page soon…if not by Friday, then on Monday. Thanks for your patience!

Seriously, what kind of nightmarish story is behind FaceFace?

§ June 13th, 2017 § Filed under dick tracy, pal plugging § 1 Comment

So the other day, Fake AP Stylebook cocreator and pal Ken Lowery posted a pic by our mutual Twitter buddy ingdamnit of an interpretation of one of Ken’s childhood Dick Tracy villain drawings. That reminded me that, a number of years ago on this very site, I made up a few Dick Tracy-esque villains of my own and offered them up to Ing for visual reinterpretation. And boy, did Ing deliver:

You can see the full size images in Ing’s tweets here, here and here. Aren’t those great?

You can support Ing via Patreon right here.

You never know when I’m going to call YOU with questions about Cap’n Quick & A Foozle.

§ June 9th, 2017 § Filed under low content mode, pal plugging, question time § 1 Comment

Okay, to follow up on Chris Gumprich’s Cap’n Quick & a Foozle question from a few days ago, on whether or not it sold:

Yes, I did speak to my old boss Ralph about it, and his initial response was “…boy, that was a long time ago.” What he remembers, however, appears to jibe with my semi-educated guesses, that it sold okay at the time, due to 1) being a different kind of comics market then, with more people sampling oddball indie titles, and 2) being created by Marshall Rogers, who was an active “name” artist then (and not the gone-too-early legend he is now). Not a huge seller or anything, but did well enough. At any rate, we agreed it probably moved units that Marvel and DC would probably kill for now.

• • •

Blogging sister Tegan has the latest installment of her essays up at her site: “Tegan and Sara Made Me Queer” is #11 in a series, and you can encourage this sort of behavior by contributing to her Patreon, like I know I do.

• • •

Sorry for the short post, but your pal Mike needs to get some of this “rest” he’s read about in books. I’ll be back Monday with more of this exciting typing you’ve come to know and love!

Almost too much Howard the Duck content.

§ May 31st, 2017 § Filed under howard the duck, pal plugging § 4 Comments

Now I generally like the Howard the Duck movie, as I’ve noted before. No, it’s not a terribly accurate reflection of our favorite fowl Trapped in a World He Never Made, but it has its moments, and more importantly, it has Lea Thompson…and so I don’t end that sentence in an overly sexist fashion, it also has Tim Robbins, who’s a lot of fun.

But Howard the Duck has been coming up in conversation at the shop a lot more often lately, thanks to his cameo appearances in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies. I even had one kid (“kid” i.e. approximately late teens/early 20s) point at a Howard the Duck somethin’-or-other in the shop and exclaim “hey, it’s that guy from Guardians of the Galaxy!” so the cultural rehabilitation of Howard amongst today’s youth continues apace. I mean, it has been 31 years since the movie’s release, so I imagine there’s at least a generation or two who either have avoided direct exposure to the film (though it’s been occasionally available via online streaming) or, more likely, weren’t there for the huge bombing of the film and its subsequent equivalence with “disaster.”

I’ve been asked a handful of times if I think Howard may get another film of his own. Despite what I just said, about Mr. Duck experiencing something of a — “popular” resurgence isn’t quite the right term, but you know what I mean — that film still casts a long shadow. As a trusted advisor once informed me, it seems unlikely any studio executive would want to be the fella/lady on record saying “yes” to a new Howard the Duck film. Even though…right now, Marvel Studios has yet to have a poorly-performing release, so if there was a new Howard flick, just on Marvel’s rep alone butts would meet seats. Or it could be Marvel’s first big flop, and we’d be right back where we started.

For the time being, it’s probably just continuing cameos for Howard, which is just fine, and frankly, it’s something of a miracle we’re even getting those. That aforementioned Marvel Studios rep for continuing hit films is most likely what got someone to say “ah heck, a Howard cameo might not hurt anything” and let it in.

Anyway, the reason for all that typing is that, on the occasion when someone unfamiliar with the comic asks me how the movie compares (and believe it or not, the topic comes up quite a bit at the shop), my go-to example has been the particular bit of business regarding “quack-fu.”

“Quack-fu” in the comic is the hook by which writer Steve Gerber (along with artists John Buscema and Steve Leialoha) examines the then-huge pop culture faddish-ness of martial arts:


…the movies, the magazines, the “learn the secrets of the masters” ads, even Marvel’s own Master of Kung-Fu series. It’s an extended and pointed satire of a contemporary cultural trend with the additional contemplation of violence and its acceptance in media and society.

The movie strips “quack-fu” of all that context, and suddenly it’s just another duck joke:


…and a way to move the plot along by having Howard kick butt when it’s convenient.

This may be the most blatant example of Howard’s misuse in the film. Like I said, the movie does have its moments, and overall it’s likeable enough, but you’re not getting the satirical commentary of Howard’s comic in here. (Sorry if I made anyone’s monocle pop out by saying that.) And I wonder if that’s the sort of thing that would translate to a new big-budget Marvel action movie anyway. Can you imagine? “It’s like Network, but with a talking duck!” I mean, it’s not impossible, and would certainly be different from the usual superhero fare, but I don’t know if the world is quite ready for it.

• • •

In other news:

Free to be…comics and me.

§ May 5th, 2017 § Filed under free comic book day, pal plugging Comments Off on Free to be…comics and me.


So this will be the 16th year of the industry-wide Free Comic Book Day event, and I’ve participated givin’ away all those free funnybooks each and every time. It’s hard to imagine I’ve been doing this for just over half the time I’ve been working in comics retail, but time flies when you’re having fun, I suppose. It’s even harder to imagine that this year will be the third time I’ve hosted FCBD at my own shop. (You can see how it went the last couple of times, if you’re interested.)

I’ve talked about the event a whole lotta times in the past, and I don’t really have much to say beyond what I’ve already said. I’ll set up the tables, put out all the comics, let folks take what they want (I mean, don’t grab the entire stack of a certain comic or anything, but help yourself to one of each if you’d like), set up the special in-store deals that help pay for everything, and let those comic book hijinks ensue. Anyhoo, this post from last year goes into a little more detail re: the hows, the whys, and the wherefores if you’re curious. And if you’re still curious, you can feel free to ask me whatever you’d like in the comments here. I don’t mind!

Plus, if you’re wondering, yes, I did talk pal Dorian into doing his Free Comic Book Day reviews again this year, though he says he’s just going to focus on recommending what he thinks are the better releases, and not spend time slamming the stinkers. That specific post isn’t live yet, so just keep refreshing postmodernbarney.com over and over again ’til the reviews appear very early Saturday morning. EDIT: They’re up!

I’m sure I’ll report back here on Monday about how things went. Every single year, I get the jitters about things not going well, nobody showing up, me still stuck with carton upon carton of leftover freebies…and every year I discover my fears are unfounded as nice, sizable crowds fill my store and happily gather their free goodies. Let’s hope the same thing happens again this year! And you, reading this…if you’re in the area, come by and see us! Me, my girlfriend Nora, my dad, the aforementioned pal Dorian, and the possibly-returning Batman will be glad to see you!

• • •

In other news:

  • Pal Andrew celebrates the 11th anniversary of his site, Armagideon-Time. He’s one of the best writers, and one of the smartest minds, that we’ve got in our virtual neck of the woods here, and you should do yourself a favor and follow his work, if you don’t already.
  • Ken Lowery of Fake AP Stylebook fame — and with whom I helped write a book— has written a brand new comic book available on Comixology: The Night Driver, illustrated by Gavin Guidry. G’wan, get a copy…it’s only $1.99. That’s almost free!
  • Blogging sister Tegan presents…the Last Star Wars Essay. It’s good. Really good.
  • A reminder: Bully, the Little Bull Stuffed with Electric Current, is still offering up 365 Days of Resistance.

“Star Wars demoted to bimonthly” is hard to imagine now, too.

§ April 17th, 2017 § Filed under captain america, pal plugging, publishing, question time, retailing § 6 Comments

Back to your questions:

Argh!Sims arghed:

“Since you and GregA were discussing it on the Twitters and all … Did you find any more info about the proposed cancellation of Captain America back in the ’80s? That was at least a minor deal back then, and I seem to remember it was going to end around 300, with Cap being aged and having his ‘final’ victory over the Red Skull”

Yup…Twitter pal Greg posted a scan of a news item from an old Amazing Heroes (#69 from 1985, to be exact). I hope he doesn’t mind me borrowing said scan to present it here, since I’m too lazy to scan it myself:


My memory at the time is that is was kind of a minor deal, as you say. Mostly surprise that Marvel would even think about ending one of their…well, maybe not a flagship title, as such, but certainly a long-running title with one of their most famous, if not top-selling, characters. You know, back in the day when every ongoing series didn’t get relaunched every 18 months.

And yes, I did spend some time going through subsequent issues of Amazing Heroes trying to find any kind of follow-up on this announcement, as well as going through the Amazing Heroes Preview Specials that would preview the next few months’ worth of content for individual titles. Alas, I couldn’t track down what I was looking for, which was confirmation of my vague-ish memory of someone at Marvel basically saying “hey, we realized that we couldn’t cancel Captain America, of all titles — that would be be crazy!” I said in the Twitter thread that followed that my belief was that said cancellation might have been forestalled by licensing deals that might have been dependent on Marvel continuing to publish and support the character, but that’s just a mostly uninformed assumption on my part.

Anyway, I am relatively certain that it was said somewhere, in some news story or interview, that the cancellation of that particular title was reconsidered because of the nature of the character and its importance to Marvel. And, if I recall correctly, I think it was also said by someone that the title wasn’t actually in danger of cancellation, and that its inclusion on the list above was a mistake. Now, I owned and have read a lot of comic ‘zines over the decades, so I don’t know where exactly I saw all this…or even if I did, since I should probably accept that possibility. If anyone has more specific information, feel free to let me konw.

• • •

Old pal Brandon wants to know

“Have you ever been witness to a major collapse of shelves or avalanche of comics?

I have seen some pretty precarious shelves in the backs of comics shops before and it was always a concern of mine going into the back room of your old place of employment (though admittedly that was purely anxiety driven).”

Well, true enough, the shelving in the back of my old place of employment was very end-of-Raiders of the Lost Ark-ish, with shelving stretching up to the ceiling, filled with countless comic boxes. It was all quite sturdy and secure, however, and in the three different locations that store had while I worked there, I don’t believe there ever was a major collapse or shelf failure.

Now, that one time someone busted in through the ceiling to steal some…uh, Witchblade and Spawn comics, I thought maybe some of our bookshelves out front were knocked over, but from the look of things it was just a huge mess made by broken ceiling tiles and insulation.

The only time I can remember any sort of in-store shelving collapse was a hook busting loose that connected a shelf to its supporting unit and a bunch of books falling off. No life-threatening epic disaster stories to tell, thankfully. But here’s something to tide you over:

• • •

In completely unrelated news…pal Andrew could use a little assistance, if you’re able.

Every time I mention Mark Russell, I think of the piano-playing political satirist.

§ March 31st, 2017 § Filed under pal plugging, self-promotion, this week's comics § 8 Comments

So the interesting thing about these Hanna-Barbera/DC superhero team-up books is how in most cases, some attempt is made at making them…well, if not in continuity with the regular DC universe (such as its continuity is right now), at least not directly contradictory. Well, to be fair, I don’t know if that’s the case in the Suicide Squad/Banana Splits book since I haven’t read it yet, as 1) I’m not a Suicide Squad guy, and 2) my only real experience with the Banana Splits is enjoying the cover of their theme song by the Dickies. But Green Lantern and Adam Strange cross over into alternate universes to meet Space Ghost and the Future Quest gang, respectively…and even Top Cat falls through some interdimensional portal to meet a cowled crusader of some note (setting up what seems to be a very Howard the Duck-ian premise for the forthcoming series). It’s sort of the difference between the early Marvel/DC crossovers where Spider-Man and Superman have just always existed in the same world and they didn’t get around to meeting each other until 1976, versus the Marvel/DC crossovers from a couple of decades later where the Marvel and DC continuities were explicitly described as “different universes,” with even a jointly-owned character who could facilitate said meetings.

The exception seems to be Booster Gold/The Flintstones, which just throws Booster back in time to the Flintstones’ version of the Stone Age, without worrying about, you know, how Anthro fits in, or whatever. This was written by Mark Russell, who writes the regular Flintstones series, and as such this particular crossover fits right in the darkly satirical tone of that book. Russell also scripts the Snagglepuss back-up in the aforementioned Suicide Squad/Banana Splits comic…and of course I read at least that part of the book immediately. Yes, Snagglepuss is, as the writer describes him, a “gay Southern Gothic playwright” in the 1950s, and how he deals with officious types who don’t approve of him and his work. The brief sample we get is a tad more serious than Flintstones, but Snagglepuss’ dialogue is fun to read, and I look forward to hearing more of what that ol’ mountain lion has to say in his upcoming series.

As for the others: Adam Strange/Future Quest is right in line with the Future Quest series, fitting right in with the tone of that comic…I mean, what’s one more weird adventure character like Adam Strange in a book already full of them? Lots of fun, and, oddly enough, semi-connected to Strange’s appearances in the recently-completed Death of Hawkman mini. Green Lantern/Space Ghost has some nice art by Ariel Olivetti (making it match quite nicely with the Olivetti-illustrated Space Ghost mini from a few years back). Maybe a little wordy, with maybe too many small-ish panels, but you definitely get plenty of story for your buck that way. And while I’m generally surprised at just how much Hanna-Barbera has let DC get away with so far, Howard Chaykin’s “Ruff ‘n’ Reddy” is…well, Chaykin-y. Not for kids, though frankly the number of kids who are currently Ruff ‘n’ Reddy fans can probably be counted on one anthropomorphic paw.

Anyway, they’re all weird, and I enjoyed what I’ve read so far, and I expect I’ll enjoy the Banana Splits one, too. Hopefully they’ll do more Hanna-Barbera team-ups, because quite frankly once I thought of the Killer Croc/Wally Gator pairing, I’d had great need to actually see it.

• • •

In other news:

  • Blogging pal Tegan is writing for Medium, and her recent column on the passing of Bernie Wrighson is a must-read.
  • I have a few favorite artists who’ve drawn the Thing…Jack Kirby, of course, and John Byrne, and Barry Windsor-Smith…and RON FREAKIN’ WILSON.
  • And don’t forget…if you’ve got comics questions for me to answer, or topics for me to discuss, drop ’em in the comments to this post!

No, not actual horses.

§ March 24th, 2017 § Filed under buttons, employee aaron, pal plugging, swamp thing Comments Off on No, not actual horses.

So Former Employee Aaron (in that he’s no longer doing my cruel, heartless bidding…he’s still at my former place of employment) has a buttonmaker, and I’d featured some of his creations on the site before. Well, the last time I saw him, when I stopped by the old shop to do a little horse-tradin’, he had a surprise for me. Another handmade Swamp Thing pin:


Why yes, that is Swamp Thing as drawn by Steve Bissette and John Totleben from Saga of the Swamp Thing #21 (1984). Now to await a formal occasion for which I may use said pin as the perfect complement to my coat and tails.

In other news:

  • So Brian Cronin over at Comic Book Resources put up an article discussing the old Nickelodeon TV show Video Comics, which I talked about myself, due to the Swamp Thing connection, about four years ago. Brian was good enough to link back to my old post, since I had a few additional memories about the show not covered in his article. Thanks, Brian!
  • Hey, Matt Wilson is running a Kickstarter to fund his next comics project, Everything Will be Okay, done in conjunction with Joe Hunter, Rodrio Vargas, and Josh Krach. Looks like it would be fun, and they have a little ways to go yet on reaching their goals, so pitch in if you can!
  • Bully, the Little Punching Bull presents…Daredevil versus Hitler! (No, not that Daredevil.)

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