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Prime #1/2 (Malibu Comics/Wizard, April 1994).

§ March 31st, 2014 § Filed under from the vast Mikester comic archives § 8 Comments

So for a while there, price guide/news/interview mag Wizard would offer special issues of various ongoing comic series, usually numbered as “# 1/2” (and there may have been a “#500” in there once or twice, too) that you could send for by mail using the special certificate ‘n’ envelope enclosed. And also by sending that check or money order, too…hey, Wizard ain’t runnin’ a charity, here. The comics themselves generally contained a new short story unavailable anywhere else, plus some sketchbook work or similar backmatter rounding out the publication.

I only availed myself of that particular scheme a handful of times…I sent away for the Sin City #1/2 and Daredevil #1/2 and probably a couple of others I’m forgetting.

And, of course, the comic pictured above: Prime #1/2, by Len Strazewski, Gerard Jones and Norm Breyfogle. Prime, for those of you too young to remember or have just generally driven the ’90s comic market out of your memory, was a modern spin on Captain Marvel, in which a kid gains the ability to transform into a seemingly adult-aged superhero. In this case, the kid, I don’t know, exuded some kind of fleshy substance to, in effect, grow his superhero body around his actual body, and I think I probably need to take a look at these comics again and remind myself that was what was actually happening.

At any rate, it’s my memory that this was one of the better titles that came out of the Ultraverse superhero line published by Malibu, even though it’s been a couple of decades since I’ve read these and that semi-recollection of our hero’s abilities the paragraph previous is about as much as I can recall at this time. Even flipping through this #1/2, now that I have it out of the box, it all looks brand new to me. And I did read the series, at least for 18 issues of its initial run.

I always say “I should pull these out and reread these” when I’m reminded of some comic I know I read and enjoyed a long time ago and haven’t looked at since. But, there’s only so many hours in the day, and sometimes it’s just going to have to be enough to know that I did enjoy them at one time, even if the specific details have faded away.

Oh, and back to the whole Wizard #1/2 thing…these special issues usually came with one of these “Certificates of Authenticity,” to ensure you weren’t receiving one of those cheap knock-off bootleg #1/2s that were flooding comic markets all across the world:

Thank goodness, this comic is an authentic! It’s the authentic-est!

Airlock #2 & #3 (Eclectus Ltd., 1991).

§ March 24th, 2014 § Filed under from the vast Mikester comic archives § 4 Comments

This wasn’t the first issue of this particular series that I’d purchased…it was #2, which had a Not-Safe-for-Work-ish cover I didn’t want to spring on you without warning.

Anyway, Airlock was a short-run black and white anthology series that I bought primarily because it contained “Taffy and the Pirates,” a humor-adventure strip by Cutey Bunny creator Joshua Quagmire:

There are other stories of note, too: issue 2 has “The Iluvlussey,” a funny and nicely-cartooned take on Greek myth by Tim Burgard, “Lost in The Jungle” by To Be Announced‘s Mike Bannon, and the Swamp Thing parody “Yuck Thing” by Jorge Pacheco:

It wasn’t all humor strips; there was an ongoing “Caligula” serial by Rod Underhill and Topper Helmers that was fairly elaborate and certainly mature reader-oriented, as you might imagine.

Issue three cover-features Panda Khan…or rather, “X-Khan,” as he’s known in the story within, and…well, I didn’t realize, or I’d forgotten, how science-fictiony these Panda Khan comics were, though looking now I see this cover of Mr. Khan on a meteor fighting a guy shooting a laser gun, so what do I know. I never read those comics, so beyond being vaguely aware of his ties to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, my knowledge of Panda Khan’s adventures is alarmingly deficient. This is also the most I’ve typed the words “Panda Khan” in my entire life.

The Taffy strips return and wrap up in this third issue as well. Quagmire (along with Dean Norton) also provides an illustrated prose short “Cyberfox,” which is some funny-animal sci-fi business.

There was a first issue, though I don’t recall having seen it, and that’s probably the sort of thing I should have checked for at the shop prior to writing this entry here. My usual sources don’t have any info on what was in the first issue, so I don’t know if I’m missing any Quagmire there. The “Taffy” story in the second issue pretty clearly starts there, and I’m also fairly certain the me of 1991 would have sought out that #1 if I’d known there was something in that issue I had to have.

I’m still going to check for it at the shop anyway.

Miscellaneous Cat-Head Comics (1987 – 1992).

§ March 17th, 2014 § Filed under doog boog, from the vast Mikester comic archives § 4 Comments

So I was looking at this little stack of Cat-Head Comics from the Vast Mikester Comic Archives, trying to decide which one to talk about, when I decided “ah, heck, let’s throw them all up there.”

Duck & Cover #1 (1988)


Duck & Cover #2 (1989)

Satire and poetry written by Stephen Beaupre and Steve Lafler, taking on politics, religion, big business, and more. A special appearance from Dog Boy in #1, putting the bite on Rupert Murdoch!

Femme Noire #1 (1989)


Femme Noire #2 (1989)

Mystical detective shenanigans by Lafler, with Maria (the title character) and her occasional love interest, Dog Boy’s pal BenB (the hollow-eyed fella on the cover of #1). Dog Boy makes appearances here and there over the course of the story.

Out the Next #1 (1987)

A Beaupre solo book, more or less, with “ART • DESIGN” and a cover by Lafler. Mostly text/poems by Beaupre with accompanying photos and drawings. The condition of this copy is a little rough, having found in a quarter box sometime in ’88/’89. You can see the tears at the top of the cover caused by careless box-thumbing. JUST SAY NO TO CARELESS BOX-THUMBING. No Dog Boy appearances aside from the back cover ad.

Prometheus’ Gift #1 (1992)

A couple of short stories, including the Jack Kirby-esque “Snakes!” Tiny Dog Boy cameos in a two-page art/text collage and on the cover, as well as two unpublished Dog Boy covers rounding out the book (as a “sleazy way to fill up space,” Lafler himself admits in the introduction).
Those Dog Boy appearances aren’t in the Doggie Style collection (unless I missed something), since that was primarily reprinting his solo stories from his own titles and Buzzard. Most of the above would have been out of place there.

Anyway, there’s some fine and strange comic-booking in the above publications, some of which I suspect are pretty difficult to find at this point (the indicia for Prometheus’ Gift includes the note “first printing October 1992, barely two thousand copies if we’re lucky”). Poking through all these again makes me want to go back and try Bughouse one more time, since that was the one Lafler project that never really grabbed me. I do own the first issue…I’ll give it another go and let you know what I think.

You can keep up with what Lafler is up to at his official site.

Trypto the Acid Dog! #1 (Renegade Press, 1988).

§ March 10th, 2014 § Filed under from the vast Mikester comic archives § 4 Comments

This comic came out just before my entry into the funnybook-sellin’ life, and as such I managed to miss it when it hit what I would eventually be able to refer to as “our shelves.” I read about it in the fan press so some such thing, or maybe just saw ads in other indie books, but 1) the title sounded funny, and 2) it was written by that fella from Lost in Space and that fella from Robocop and drawn by Steve Leialoha and thus caught my comic-collecting eye. You know, not in a “my GOD my life is incomplete unless I have this comic!” but in more of a “yeah, if I see it, I’ll pick it up” and thus did it go on the mental want-list.

At some point shortly after its release, I was at a comic convention in the Los Angeles area where I spotted a dealer selling…some comic or ‘nother, I don’t recall which one, but he was trying to move copies of said comic by having them packaged with a free bonus comic. Somehow I managed to notice that one of the comics was packaged with a copy of Trypto the Acid Dog! #1, and (as I recall) the price wasn’t too far off the mark from what Trypto‘s cover price was, and that’s how I got my hands on this here comic book, my friends. Can’t remember for the life of me what the other comic was, since I gave it away or who knows what, but here’s hoping it wasn’t something stupidly expensive today. (“Pffft, Amazing Spider-Man #129…who cares?”)

Anyhoo, Trypto the Acid Dog! is about a pet who gains powers from exposure to illegally-dumped chemicals, and uses said powers to avenge his family’s deaths at the hands of evil industrialists. Sounds a bit heavy-handed, and…well, maybe just a little (the evil company is called “Toxicem,” whose owner rants about the interference of “those bleeding-heart environmentalist scumbags”) but that’s a feature, not a bug, and the whole comic is a weirdly-funny, weirdly-sad, almost Golden Age-ish tale of the Little Guy getting his vengeance against The Big Guys. Worth checking out if you can find it.

I was reminded of this comic the other day when a customer asked us for it, and I once again confused “what Mike has in his personal collection” with “what the store has available for sale”* and said “oh, sure, we’ve got those” before finding out “no, I don’ts gots those.”

Trypto’s made a couple of other appearances as well, as noted on Mr. Mumy’s own site. I have the A1 anthology mentioned there, but I think I forgot the multi-issue appearance in Dark Horse Presents, and, as usual, now that I know about that hole in the collection, I’ve got to fill it. It’s an oddball little comic, and I hope that, as mentioned on Mr. Mumy’s page, that more Trypto adventures will someday see print.

EDIT 3/11: It’s been pointed out to me that pal Nat has a complete Trypto collection available for sale over at About Comics!

* That goes the other way, too…I’m sure I have something in my collection, only to realize no, I’ve just seen it at the store every day for the last couple of decades.

normalman – The Novel TPB (Slave Labor Books, 1987).

§ March 3rd, 2014 § Filed under from the vast Mikester comic archives § 1 Comment

I bought the first issue of normalman back in the early days of my “hey, I just found a comic shop and I really want to try comics by people other than Marvel and DC” phase, mostly because, well, it looked like it would be funny.

And it was! This probably remains my favorite work by Jim Valentino (then, only “Valentino”)…fun, goofy comics about the one guy without powers on a planet filled with superheroes and villains. I recognized the subjects of the parodies on each cover, even if I didn’t specifically know a whole lot about all of them at the time. A couple of friends of mine were also reading the series, and we had a good time talking about some of the gags in the book (such as the ongoing, issue-after-issue roll-call of the Legion of Super-Heroes parody, and the highly*-entertaining-to-a-bunch-of-teenagers Man-Man, with his Ganja-Breath.

Normally, I don’t try to buy collections of comics I already own, though looking at the shelves I can see that despite repeatedly claiming so, I’ve done it more than a few times. It’s hard to resist a nice-looking trade paperback sometimes, especially if the better paper and clearer reproduction improves on the original. The original series was in full color, wrapping up in a 3-D annual, and, well, I don’t have anything really against 3-D as such, but I tend to prefer my comics in two dimensions, and not read through a pair of cardboard glasses with colored lenses. The trade is in black and white, and I think the content suffers a bit as such…the color of the original series was part of its charm, I think. However, the tradeoff is that I can now more easily read the story from the 3-D annual without trying to figure out where I put my 3-D glasses this time, instead of just keeping them in the bag with the comic like a reasonable person.

I wasn’t really seeking a collection of this series or anything. It just so happened that, at some point in the early ’90s, we were putting together a wholesale purchase from Slave Labor Graphics at the shop, and I happened to see this book in the catalog. “Huh, I’d never seen that collection before, that’ll be neat to have” I thought, and added it to the order on a whim. And here it is, still on my shelves, a couple of decades later. Almost right away there were some issues with the book, with the first few pages beginning to come loose from the spine, which bummed me out a bit. Otherwise, it’s still a nice package…

…which has been totally supplanted by The Complete normalman, released by Image Comics in 2007 and including all the normalman-related material published after the first book’s release (like the normalman 20th Anniversary Special). Doesn’t seem to have Max the Magnificent however, which features not only Max, who’s popped up in normalman, but also an appearance from Captain Everything, so you normalman completists will still need this.

Anyway, that newer collection is pretty tempting, and still available from Diamond. That’ll be neat to have.

* Obvious pun obviously intended.

Ultra Klutz #28 (April 1990).

§ April 20th, 2010 § Filed under from the vast Mikester comic archives, indies § 6 Comments

So I was just poking through the Vast Mikester Comic Archives when I took note of the cover date on this comic.

Barring the usual cover-date-usually-a-month-or-three-off shenanigans usually involved in comics (though this was a small press book, and may actually have come out in April), this comic is now 20 years old.

The series is cartoonist Jeff Nicholson’s parody/homage/take-off on the Japanese giant-hero-versus-monsters TV show Ultraman, and unfortunately, this is the only issue of the series I own, so I don’t really have a whole lot to say about it. (You can read a more extensive appreciation of the series here.) Not sure why I wasn’t following it, exactly…Nicholson’s stories in this issue were amusing, and it wasn’t like I was shunning indies or black-and-white titles or anything. Probably just a case of “I can’t read everything” more than anything else.

But the reason I did buy this issue was due to it containing a back-up story by Yummy Fur‘s Chester Brown, in which his bunny character visits Japan and finds himself in the midst of one of Ultra Klutz’s monster battles:

Brown’s art seems a little more rough than normal, but still it’s an enjoyable short. And I’d completely forgotten about the fact that there’s a three-page Dishman story in here as well. Yes, Dishman. Read about him at the link, there. (Someday I need to find the rest of the Dishman mini-comics to round out my collection.)

Anyway, I don’t really have a “review” as such of this comic….like I said, I grabbed it off the rack for the Brown back-up, was reasonably entertained by the rest of the book, and then stored the comic away. Plus, as far as I can remember, this is probably the first time I’ve read the comic since my original reading of it all those years ago. Mostly, I’m just amazed that, well, here’s something I just bought on a whim for a few minutes of entertainment…and here it is, still in my possession, two decades later.

And here I am, just a few lines of this post back, thinking about looking for more comics to buy to plug holes in the ol’ collection. We really are slaves to our possessions, sometimes.

But on the other hand, all those comics are helping to feed this here website, so it’s not all for nothing, I guess!

CZAR CHASM #1 (C&T Graphics, 1987).

§ February 9th, 2010 § Filed under from the vast Mikester comic archives § 2 Comments

I picked up a copy of this black and white small press anthology magazine in those long-ago days prior to my entry into the funnybook selling business. In fact, if I recall correctly, this magazine was in a stack of books being offered “FREE with $10 Purchase” (or something like that). Anyway, I grabbed it partially because of my interest in sampling a lot of the black and white indies at the time (and the ’80s were a real heyday for that sort of thing), but mostly because I saw Cynicalman creator Matt Feazell‘s name on the cover.

As it turned out, this wasn’t Feazell’s usual stick-figure style…actually, it was a story that had been drawn back in ’81:

However, there was a stick-figure style story elsewhere in the anthology (The Stick Dick in “Vengeance Day” by Eric Mayer), as well as a Morty the Dog story by Steve Willis and a Mightyguy lead story by Tim Corrigan. The magazine contains mostly short humor strips like the above (though the Feazell strip is more “slice of life”), and there is one horror strip that seems somewhat out of place. But overall, this is an entertaining mix of cartooning styles, some more polished than others, but all demonstrating an honest, homemade expressiveness that your typical 30-part superhero crossover punch-em-up can’t match.

The black and white boom of the 1980s did result in a lot of junk, but it did occasionally come up with a bit of enjoyable oddball weirdness like Czar Chasm, and I kind of miss that.

Pied Piper Graphic Album #1: Hero Alliance – End of the Golden Age GN (Pied Piper Press, 1986).

§ February 2nd, 2010 § Filed under from the vast Mikester comic archives § 4 Comments

I remember an extensive preview in Amazing Heroes catching my attention for this graphic novel (by Kevin Juaire, David Campti, Ron Lim, Michael Whitherby, and others) and subsequent series. In a way, it was kind of a proto-Astro City, throwing the reader into a generational superhero saga with just a touch of poignancy and a focus on how superheroes and “the real world” interact. This initial installment focuses on Victor, one of the last original heroes still active, and his encounter with the villainous son of a former comrade. Here’s a quick shorthand sequence of how Victor experienced the passage of time and changing attitudes:

This came out during the period of reimaginings of superheroes in “realistic” terms, trying to play out the implications of superheroic activity and relationships to their logical ends. Watchmen and Marvelman and even Mark Gruenwald’s Squadron Supreme series were part of this movement, if not outright defining it, and Hero Alliance kind of falls within this spectrum. Maybe more toward Squadron Supreme‘s more “traditional superhero” end than the “dismantling of the genre” end of the Alan Moore works, but it’s definitely an attempt at a more mature superhero story.

The follow-up monthly series from Innovation unfortunately didn’t keep my interest for all of its short run (I only bought 11 of the 17 issues), and it did have maybe a few too many cheesecake-y covers, which wasn’t unusual for this particular publisher. But for a while there, Hero Alliance was an interesting series, and a reasonably successful experiment in an alternate take on superheroic funnybooks. I wouldn’t mind seeing this reprinted in a volume or two for modern audiences, someday.

Mean Cat (Steve Lafler, 1981).

§ January 29th, 2010 § Filed under doog boog, from the vast Mikester comic archives Comments Off on Mean Cat (Steve Lafler, 1981).

This 24-page, magazine-sized, black and white comic is Steve Lafler’s second publication, as per his introduction on the first page. Our titular aggressive feline is featured in a couple of stories within…here he is in action:

…though half of the book is devoted to other characters and features, such as “Angry Young Carrot,” “Crazy Eddie,” and “Naked Avenger,” as well as a page of poems by Steve Beaupre.

I spent a lot of the eighties and the early nineties being a Steve Lafler completist, or at least as best as I was able. I think I’m still missing a couple of the Dog Boy comics he published under his Cat Head imprint, but I’ve got his short-run and one-shot books like Femme Noire and Out the Next and a complete run of his Buzzard magazine, and so on. When Bughouse came out in the mid 1990s, it didn’t really do anything for me and, for whatever reason, I just sort of fell out of following his work after that. But I still have fond memories of getting big laffs from Dog Boy and Benb and his other crazy comics, so thank you for that, Mr. Lafler. And the man is still producing plenty of comics, which you can learn about at his official website.

This copy of Mean Cat turned up in a very large collection we acquired at the shop in the late ’80s, from a collector who didn’t do very much to protect his comics from the elements. For example, by not bothering to invest a couple of bucks in some comic bags, his entire run of Iron Man had a half-inch of water damage at the bottom of each issue. You can probably see the water spotting in my scan above, though the paper of the cover is heavily tanned as well, particularly on the inside. There was a copy of Guts (another early Lafler book) in this collection, but seeing as then-coworker Rob was also a Lafler fan, he and I split the acquisitions and he took the Guts, and I took this goodie. (Come to think of it, Rob’s kind of been out of the comics world for a while…I wonder if I can get it back from him? If he even still has it.) (This is a terribly selfish geek-thing to think, by the way.)

I’ll be taking another weekend break from my journey through my collection, but I’ll be picking up again on Monday if nobody objects or shows up on my doorstep with rakes and torches. Thank you all for reading and, hopefully, enjoying my show-and-tell.

Kandykorn-Jackhammer #1-#3 (Pneumatic Press, 1990-1).

§ January 27th, 2010 § Filed under from the vast Mikester comic archives Comments Off on Kandykorn-Jackhammer #1-#3 (Pneumatic Press, 1990-1).

This was a local ‘zine published by artist/writer/mad genius Johnny Brewton, featuring his work as well as contributions from the remarkably various and the most definitely sundry from across Ventura County and distant parts beyond. It was a potpourri of cartoons, fiction, interviews (with the Jeff Dahl Group and Bob Forrest), reviews, clip art, poetry…basically, if it could be printed on a page, it was fair game for the magazine. The second issue even had an additional mini-comic stapled to the inside back cover.

Brewton would later move on to the X-Ray Book Company, a publisher of high-end, limited edition books and art pieces. One book he published had a swell cover by Jaime Hernandez, and another had some copies hand-signed by Hunter S. Thompson! Pretty neat.

Somewhat less neat is the following cartoon, which appeared in issue #3 of Kandykorn-Jackhammer. Yes, it’s a contribution from a 21 or 22 year old version of yours truly, your pal Mike, upon whom Johnny took a great deal of pity and willingly wasted one valuable page on my amateurish scribblings, which by all rights I should be too embarrassed to show you:

Behold the obvious jokes! The terrible hand-lettering! The inkjet-printed computer lettering! The head mirror! (Actually, I still kinda like how that doctor came out.) And isn’t that cute, I actually put a little © on it, like someone was going to steal it.

Well, maybe it’s not that bad, and it was a precursor to my brief stint as a mini-comics creator under the Full-Frontal Harvey publishing banner. But I always did appreciate Johnny’s inclusion of my comic, and I was quite happy to see it in print, and certainly proud to have been at least a tiny part of this interesting project.

And before you ask…no, that first issue did not have nude pictures of Ed Asner as promised on the cover. Nor did the other two issues. Sorry to disappoint.

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