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Pacified.

§ March 24th, 2023 § Filed under indies § 13 Comments

Okay, first thing’s first…in my last post I referred to a comment left on the Dilbert post by a real dummy who turns up on occasion to impress us all with…well, with nothing, because he always just looks foolish. However, I made the mistake of not specifying which comment, as I figured it was likely self-evident. But I did hear from a few of my regulars, who feared perhaps I meant them, and I’m here to say…no, you’re all good. If you’re a semi-regular commentator, or even a new one, who participates in good faith, you’re fine. Just don’t be like this guy, who is the, ahem, scumdog in question.

My apologies to anyone for whom I may have caused undue anxiety!

• • •

Okay, I left off last time halfway through one of Customer Sean’s comments, so here’s the part I’m responding to today

“And what about the great–if short-lived–Pacific Comics? Cool and fun content by Jack Kirby, Neal Adams (except for the goofy Skateman), Mike Grell, Dave Stevens, Steve Ditko,Bruce Jones, Richard Corban, Michael T. Gilbert, Sergio Aragonés, and others. And the coloring on Pacific Comics–by Steve Oliff–always made those comics pop! I would say Pacific Comics and Eclipse Comics–who took over publishing some of the Pacific Comics titles after Pacific Comics folded–were my two favorite Independent publishers of the ’80s.”

Yeah, they’re okay.
  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Oh, okay, fine.

Pacific Comics was a mail order outfit, a series of retail stores, a distributor and a publisher that began operations in 1971, founded by the brothers Bill and Steve Schanes. According to the Wikipedia article, they were 13 and 17 years old respectively in ’71 when they started all this, which is pretty amazing.

Now, the Wikipedia article says Pacific “dipped its feet into publishing” with a 1979 John Buscema art portfolio, which seems to ignore this:


One, which was a comics magazine published by Pacific in 1977. Steve was one of the credited character models for the lead story. I have to admit, I’ve never read One myself, but I’ve seen tons of copies of this over the years, even having had a few come through my own shop in its 8 1/2 year history. I might even have one in the back issue bins right now, I’d have to check.

My earliest encounter with Pacific Comics releases was spotting them on the spinner racks at the newsstand I used to regularly visit in the early ’80s before switching over to an actual comic book store for my new books. I remember seeing Jack Kirby’s Captain Victory and Sergio Aragones’ Groo the Wanderer there


…and the only reason I can come up with for not buying them at the time was that my comic dollars were limited, and with this indie titles being a buck (or a buck fifty) a throw, versus the…I forget, 50 cents, 60 cents each thaqt DC and Marvel books were, I just didn’t seem to have the budget for them. It really baffles me that I didn’t at least buy Groo given my childhood of being a big Sergio fan. Ah well, What Can You Do?

I think the first (and possibly one) Pacific Comics series I bought new off the rack was 1983’s Berni Wrightson Master of the Macabre


…purchased of course because this was the fella what drew Swamp Thing. Somehow this was the book that got me to splurge a whole $1.50 for a non-Marvel/DC, non-Extra Special-Sized Spectacular comic book. I seem to recall feeling as if some paradigm had shifted, now that I’ve moved into the slightly pricier realm of indie comics.

And a year later, after Pacific had gone under and Eclipse Comics picked up their titles, I’d apparently thrown comic budgets to the wind as I bought my first Groo, the previously-announced-by-Pacific-but-now-it’s-from-Eclipse Groo Special, new off the rack for the princely sum of $2. Which would lead me to paying back issue prices of all the previous Groo issues, which, thankfully at the time, were still pretty low. Not as low as buyin’ them new, but that’s what I get for being a cheapskate at the time. It did however instill the comic-buying lesson of “buy it new if you want it.”

I would also later go on to pick up as back issues the great EC Comics-informed anthology series Alien Worlds and Twisted Tales, mostly written by Bruce Jones. And of course I became familiar with their other releases simply by virtue of handling the books over my decades of comics retail. Familiar enough to understand that Pacific Comics was a high quality publisher of excellent comics that alas died out too soon, but helped establish a precedent for other indie publishers to follow.

And by “Deadbeats” I don’t mean the Claypool comic.

§ March 22nd, 2023 § Filed under indies § 15 Comments

Smicha1 cashes in with

“Mike, how do you handle it as a retailer when you feel that a product just isn’t worth the money? Are you pretty candid with your customers? You seem like a pretty ethical guy so I imagine you must be occasionally kinda torn between maintaining the trust of your customers and making that scratch. Have you ever felt compelled to actively dissuade someone from buying something because you know they will be disappointed?”

It’s…not always easy. Yes, of course I want to make a buck, even quite a few bucks, at all times in order to maintain my lavish* lifestyle. But here and there I cut costs on things to 1) encourage sales, and 2) lessen the burden on customers, such as probably charging less on comic supplies like bags, boards and boxes than I should be. And a lot of my back issues are very cheap, he humblebragged, but that’s mostly a case of pricing accurately due to condition. I probably kept my Funko Pops at a lower price than I should have for too long, and now that I’ve raised the price a buck or so I actually seem to sell even more of them. And there are other things around the store, mostly more merchandise, where I price ’em out at a buck or two below retail.

I have been known to angle some customers away from some comics and towards other comics that may be more to their liking, based on either what they say they’re looking for, or based on my knowledge of their tastes if I happen to have that in the ol’ mental database. That’s just a function of salesmanship. I don’t just come right out and announce “boy that sucks, don’t buy that” to everyone in the shop, because my taste ain’t your taste, some person might like it.

This was a point of discussion in the old comicsweblogosphere a decade or so back, about some folks who just broadcast to their entire clientele via newsletter reviews telling them to either “buy” or “not buy” comics that, um, they were carrying, which seems self-defeating. One on one suggestions with individual customers is one thing, just telling everyone “don’t buy this comic, it’s the worst” is another. The distinction, sadly, was lost, as the internet is where nuance goes to die.

My favorite example of this is the fella what slagged some Big Two event book to all his customers, then wondered a few months later “huh, wonder why [said event] isn’t selling for me?” Boy, get Hercule Poroit on that case.

What I’m trying to say, in between dragging out old grudges, is that I do try to find ways to keep my customers happy, and to help them spend their dollars wisely. I try to focus more on the “you might want to check this out” versus the “I don’t know if that’s for you” tack, but in the latter case I try to offer something else they would like as an alternative.

• • •

An additional note on that post about the most recent Nexus graphic novel: I was looking at the Nexus Wikipedia entry, where it states that Mike Baron and Steve Rude have “parted ways,” and that Rude is doing his own graphic novel. I talked about the recent Baron Nexus story, and with a new story by Rude apparently coming…does that mean the ongoing Nexus saga is split into separate continuities, with each creator deciding independently on what to do with the character? That’s going to seem a little strange. But then again, Nexus has always been a little strange, that’s part of the appeal. We’ll see what happens, I suppose.

• • •

Okay, I’m going to skip over responses to the Dilbert post in order to keep with the current locally-centered zeitgeist of ’80/’90 indies. Anyway, y’all had good comments there, with the exception of a recurring dipshit who popped up to say something stupid, but I left his shame intact for future generations to gawk at.

So, onto the next post, where none of you deadbeats have bought my Zot!s yet…but you left lots of good comments, so I guess that’ll do.

Cassandra Miller asks

“Do you, by any chance, have the Matt Feazel issues? Because I’m missing those…”

Those Feazel issues seem to be the popular ones…the mini-comic #10 1/2 and the full-sized issue #14 1/2. I did have a 14 1/2 but that sold right away. Sorry about that.

As a consolation prize, please enjoy this early post on my site (from within the first month of its existence!) about my even earlier encounter via the mails with Mr. Feazell. WARNING: link rot ahoy!

• • •

Daniel T tees me up with

“Mike, did you like Badger: Shattered Mirror? That was the only post-First thing I read and I thought it was pretty good.”

What Daniel T is talking about here is one of the two mini-series published by Dark Horse Comics after the demise of First Comics, the previous publisher of the Badger.


Released in 1994, these two series presented essentially mutually-exclusive origins for the character, Shattered Mirror being the serious one, and Zen Pop etc. being the wacky one.

Now it’s been nearly 30 years since these came out, and thus probably nearly 30 years since I’ve read the darn things. I am sure I liked them well enough, though I can’t honestly remember a thing about them. Badger is on my upsettingly long list of things to reread while my mortal coil remains unshuffled-off, so maybe I’ll get around to them again someday. However, my current sense of the Badgers funnybook history as a whole is, as I may have mentioned before, that some subtle lifeforce that powered the appealing balance of serious/wackiness of the Badger’s tales had begun to peter out near the end of the First run, and was never quite acquired again. Maybe a solid reread of the series may alter that opinion, but that’s my overall memory of everything.

“…Do you have anything to say about the language changes made in the B&W collection?”

Daniel’s referring to the Zot! book reprinting that series black and white run of issues from 11-36. And I have to say…I didn’t know there were language changes! I presume “word choices,” and not that they’re all suddenly speaking Swahili or something. Scott himself says he “fine-tuned the source material” on his site, and I suppose that means more than just touching up the art for republication.

So I tried looking for examples online and didn’t have any luck, so if there are any out there I missed, or, Daniel, if you want to tell me specific citations, I’d love to see them. But to answer your question in general…if Scott thought the changes were necessary, then it’s his book, I’m perfectly fine with whatever he did. Unless he, like, hid new drawings of Sluggo or Swamp Thing throughout, in which case I’d be ecstatic.

• • •

And before I pack it in for the night, let’s see what Customer Sean has to say

“Mike, as long as you are talking about Capital Comics characters who went on to First Comics, what about Whisper?”


I gotta say, I didn’t pick up on Whisper at the time. Looked a little too ninja-y to me, and my eyes just kinda glazed over whenever “ninjas” were brought up in whatever comics I was reading (aside from the Teenage Mutant Turtles who were also you-know-whats, of course).

With the comics ninja craze long behind us, I’m probably a little more open to checking them out. If only I’d thought about it before my previous place of employment went the way of HBO Max programs, as I’m sure they had a full run of every iteration of the series. Plus, with my backlog already thoroughly logged, I’m not sure when I’d get to it anyway. As it stands now, I think the opening issue of First’s Crossroads series may be the one thing I’ve read featuring the character. Ah well, can’t read everything.

And Sean’s second question is about the late, lamented Pacific Comics, but I’ll get to that next time. Thanks for checking back in, pals.
 
 
 
 

* Sometimes I’ll splurge on buttered toast, rather than dry.

Mars attracts.

§ March 17th, 2023 § Filed under indies § 26 Comments

Chris crossed over with

“Here’s the thing I’ve found with Nexus, I’m a longtime fan, but if Steve Rude isn’t drawing it, it’s pretty much unreadable for me – same with American Flagg with Chaykin. Zot! Is probably one of my all time favourite series, love the colour and bw series.”

Steve Rude is, of course and will always be, Optimal Nexus. But I’m a little more forgiving of he guest-artists, I think…the character and setting designs laid down by Rude were so strong, that so long as you followed his lead to some extent, the visuals were passable. Like, that recent graphic novel release I was talkin’ about, Richard Bonk’s artwork was just fine. No, it wasn’t Rude, but it mostly did the job (the one confusing storytelling point I hit may have been just as much a scrip problem as anything else).

A couple of names I mentioned that had been guest-artists on the title include Paul Smith, whose tight, smooth lines were well-suited for the project, and Rick Veitch, whose penchant for strangeness accentuated the weirder side of the series. I know the artist who ultimately wrapped up the First Comics ongoing was…not a favorite, but even still I thought he did a passable job.

But the real lesson learned from this series is that, even if the guest-artists were talented, it was Steve Rude’s work that made the book sing. Most (but not all) of the post-First Nexii have been Baron/Rude collabs, which is why this most recent book with Bonk’s art came as bit of a surprise.

I will say Les Dorscheid, who colored many issues of Nexus, did a good job illustrating those painted covers on the regular series near the end there.

As to American Flagg! with or without Chaykin…I stated in a later post that I liked Staton’s work on the title, even if maybe it seemed a little too…”innocent,” I guess, in the face of all the shenanigans and goings-on in this book? Mike Vosburg worked perfectly well for me on the title as well, since, I mean, if you can’t get Chaykin, get Vosburg. The only artist on the book that put me off was Mark Badger, which, no offense, I liked him on other stuff, just didn’t care for him here.

“While we’re throwing out great 80s Indy series, let’s add Mars from First to the mix….”

Ah, yes, Mars, by Mark Wheatley and Marc Hempel, released for 12 issue sin the mid-1980s. This was a favorite series of mine, marred only by occasional back-up features I didn’t much care about beyond wondering why they were eating up 8 perfectly good pages that could have been devoted more to Morgana, Dawn, and the mystery of Mars. That cover pictured here grabbed my attention (“why is that lady’s face also on the robot?”) and only set the stage for the more serious weirdness to come.

Back issues should be cheap if you can find them. There was a trade (and signed hardcover) goin’ on nearly 20 years ago from IDW, but that’s long out of print. It could stand a new reprinting…it was a beautifully-illustrated and plenty-odd story that would be nice to hand over to some of my customers.

It’s mindboggling to think how many series just like Mars are out there. Short-run comics with great talents and unique stories that came and went, forgotten save for the occasional flip-by in the bargain bins. I’m sure many a person zipped right past it in the dollar box or quarter box or whatever without ever realizing what was contained inside would be right up their alley. At least Mars did get a trade, even if it was a while ago. So many worthwhile books never even got that chance.

Grimjack and Dreadstar and Nexus, oh my.

§ March 10th, 2023 § Filed under indies § 15 Comments

MixMat swirls things around with

“Dont forget Jon Sable Freelance and American Flagg! though i’d stop when Grell and Chaykin stop drawing, their stories arent the draw-its when their creative juices are flowing and inspiring them to draw that both series are at their best. Sadly, Flagg only had 12 Chaykin drawn issues. Jon Sable Freelance had 30 or so beautifully drawn issues by Grell, with compelling superior stories too. Imnsho.”

Howard Chaykin was on American Flagg! much longer than that, though in general I think people hold those initial twelve issues as the peak of the series. Chaykin wrote and drew through issue #26, with guest-artists on #13 (James Sherman/Rick Burchett) and #14 (Pat Broderick/Burchett).

Issue #27 was the full-length conclusion to the Alan Moore/Don Lomax back-up stories that had run through the previous few issues. (And talk about your forgotten Moore work — not highly regarded at the time, if I recall, but I thought it was amusing.)

Then after that it’s Chaykin on scripts only (though still doing the covers), with Joe Staton and Hilary Barta on art chores for #28-30 (Burchett and Barta on inks for the last issue). Honestly, I liked Staton’s work on the book, but I typically like anything Staton draws anyway.

The next storyline is when Chaykin drops off the book entirely. Mark Badger and Randy Emberlin are on art, Chaykin scripts issue #31, with the script for #32 credited to both Chaykin and Steven Grant. #33 is by Grant and Badger, which remains the creative team through #37. Chaykin’s last cover was #30, with Badger doing cover illos for that run.

Chaykin comes back to covers with #38, with a story by J.M. DeMatteis, and Badger and Emberlin still doing the art. And than that remains the creative team (though Badger starts inking himself with #41) through #45.

Issue #46 is the return of Chaykin to the interiors, as he starts to wrest the book back into shape, along with DeMatteis, Mindy Newell, Mike Vosburg, and Paul Smith. #47-8 features a Chaykin plot, with Newell scripting and Paul Smith drawing. #49 replaces Smith with Vosburg. Then the last issue of this series, #50, is Chaykin on script, Vosburg on art.

When then leads into the 12-issue Howard Chaykin’s American Flagg!, which I had remembered as being just all Chaykin, all the time, but issue #1 is Chaykin with Newell scripting, and Vosburg on art. #2 is Chaykin with John Moore scripting, Vosburg still on art with Richard Ory inks. That’s how it stays through issue #8. #9 is Moore as the sole script credit, same art team, and that’s how it goes through the end of the run. Chaykin and Vosburg collaborate on the covers in various combinations. I think this second run, while not being all Chaykin, was likely closer to his vision than the “in-between issues” on the previous series, hence the new title.

I have to admit, I checked out of the series myself during that first run after Chaykin left the book entirely, though I am tempted to go back and read those DeMatteis issues. I seem to recall it was specifically the direction the book took at that point that Chaykin sorta openly mocked once he was back on the title, but still, you know, I was the one guy who liked the Moore/Lomax thing, I suspect I can survive DeMatteis Flagg!

Now as to Jon Sable, Freelance…no, no, don’t run away, I’m not going to do the same cribbed-from-comics.org cataloguing like I did above. But I will agree with Mixmaster Mat that the series was at its best when 1) Grell was writing and drawing it, and 2) Grell was interested in drawing it, as there were a few issues near the end there where even Grell’s art was a little on the…flimsy side, shall we say. I think I dropped the book before Grell left, as I believe the art began to decline around the same time the cover price jumped up, so, you know, that was that. Those earlier issues still hold up, though, but I do have a fondness for this later issue.

“There was also Crossroads that kinda, sorta was First’s major miniseries Crisis type crossover, though i thought the art was dreadful.”

I enjoyed this series quite a bit, myself, though I was less interested in the first issue (teaming Whisper with Jon Sable) and more enthralled with the Grimjack/Nexus/Dreadstar final issue (by Mike Baron, Luke McDonnell and Val Mayerik) which was just about everything I hoped it would be. I do admit a fondness for the fourth issue (Grimjack and Nexus‘ Judah Maccabee) as it was drawn by longtime favorite Shawn McManus. Joe Staton drew an issue, Cynthia Martin drew that first one…I think overall these had pretty good art teams, but it has been a while since I’ve looked at them, so maybe I’m remembering them through a nostalgic filter. But, hey, everyone likes what they like, so who am I to judge. I stand by that last issue, however…it’s, as the kids say, a banger.

By the way, I have Zot! for sale at my store.

§ March 8th, 2023 § Filed under indies § 34 Comments

Thom H. asked, way back when last week

“These early ’80s indie superheroes happened just before I came to comics. I’ve always been curious about them, but a little daunted by all the starts and stops, changes of publishers, etc. Which would be the best/easiest one to hunt down all these years later: Zot!, Nexus, or Badger?”

Well, the easiest would be Zot! if only because 1) it’s just 36 issues (not counting the Matt Feazell one-offs), 2) it’s only from one publisher, and 3) I have 98% of the run currently available for sale at my store! And aside from this big unanswered question, it’s pretty much self-contained and comes to a reasonably satisfying conclusion. (Plus you can also read this webcomic for free, that takes place after the series.) They remain relatively inexpensive (especially the ones I’m selling!) and the trick is just tracking them all down (most of which are at my store, so that part is probably easy!).

After that, The Badger might be the next-easiest to figure out, as all you really need is the original series itself (issues #1-4 published by Capital Comics, #5-70 from First Comics) and the Hexbreaker graphic novel, which is actually sorta important to the character’s development. There were several Badger things published after this series ended, but it my opinion they weren’t…quite up to the level of the initial series. But the good news is that if you do want to collect them, the very nature of the Badger character and his stories means that you can pick ’em up and read ’em pretty much in any order without worrying about things like “continuity.”

Even the original series itself is of varying quality, with the better material in the first half or so of the run. It actually sort of peaked in the initial Capital run, but there’s still some good material in later issues.

And then there’s Nexus, which, like Badger, began at Capital and continued to First Comics, but it’s a little more complicated in that Nexus started with three magazine sized black and white issues, then continued as a color series with a new #1. That color series transitioned over to First Comics starting with issue #7 and then ran ’til issue #80. Mostly good, the best issues are the ones drawn by co-creator Steve Rude but many of the other artists that fill in for him are very good as well (with only a couple of clunkers). Paul Smith draws a few issues, and c’mon, you know that guy is good.

It’s after that run ends that the onslaught of minis and one-shots start, and honestly you’re gonna need a Wiki or an FAQ or something to get those straight. Or just look it up on comics.org to figure out when which series was released and figure out the story that way. There are a lot of these tie-ins, however, so be forewarned. (God Con, a two-parter from Dark Horse, may be my favorite of the bunch — self-contained, drawn by Rude, and pretty wild.)

• • •

Anyway, there are more questions and comments from you guys over the last week or so that I still want to address, but I’ve reached the end of my blogging time for the night so it’ll all have to wait. Thanks, as always, for reading and participating, pals.

The “spooky guy in pinstripes” was 9-Jack-9, I have more to say about him in a later post.

§ February 24th, 2023 § Filed under indies § 5 Comments

So Zot! is a solidly satisfying read from beginning to end, not leaving you hanging at the end of issue #36 (or even really at the end of the webcomic), but there is one huge dangling thread left unaddressed. SPOILERS ahead for Zot! #27 (1990):

It’s New Year’s Eve on Zot’s Earth, and Jenny, her brother Butch (who is a monkey in Zot’s world, long story) and their pal Woody are visiting from “our” Earth to enjoy the celebrations. Everyone (or at least everyone with this particular view of the moon) watches the countdown, though just prior to this there is a discussion between Zot and Jenny as to when they actually met. Jenny believes it’s 1966 on Zot’s world, as the two met “a year and a half ago” when it was 1965. Zot says no, that was 1964, it’s 1965 now, and it’s about to turn 1966. And then….


It quickly becomes clear that everyone from “our” Earth saw the year “change” from 1965 to 1965, whereas everyone from Zot’s Earth saw something different:


Later, Zot’s Uncle Max hypothesizes about what happened, addressing it in such a way that it makes it seem like there was something wrong with Jenny and the rest’s perceptions:


…which I always liked as a storytelling choice. From our presumably objection observation as “reader,” the information we’re given by the story is that the year did in fact fail to change. It’s possible we’re seeing it through Jenny’s subjective point of view, but I don’t believe there’s any evidence in-story to indicate what we’re seeing is “wrong.”

Max continues:


…which probably seems at least somewhat plausible to the characters in the narrative, since Zot’s Earth is a sci-fi wonderland and Jenny’s Earth still has crime and pollution and grape-flavored Gatorade and other serious problems.

It’s bit of a frustrating set-up, in that we’re left in the position of knowing there’s some kind of mystery here, and the assumption made by the characters contradicts the reader’s observations. And that’s where this particular plot element stops, as we’re off to the concluding run of “Earth Stories,” where Zot and Jenny are cut off from Zot’s world.

I was trying to find the particular citation, which I thought was either in the story itself, a reply in a later letter column, or in an interview with Scott McCloud, where it was said this revelation may point to an “artificiality” about Zot’s Earth, but I couldn’t find it in time for what passes for a deadline around here. But if what’s left of my brain is remembering that correctly, that may be our one clue as to what’s going on. The hows and whys and whats as to what would have made that other Earth (in opposition to Max’s idea) a copy of “our” Earth…who can say?

Well, Scott can say, but I don’t know if he ever intends to return to that particular milieu. (I have an idea how to bring it back, but unless I am somehow gifted the keys to that castle, I’ll have to save it for my extensive line of Zot! fanfic, where they all meet and hang out with their new best friend, the incredibly talented and handsome Spike Merling.)

Thus, fair warning to anyone coming to Zot! for the first time…well, one, you shouldn’t have read this, I warned you at the start, and two, you’ll end up thinking about this bit of business for the next 33 years, like a certain unnamed comics blogger/retailer might have done.

I did come across another potential future story idea addressed by Scott in the Zot! letter columns that didn’t (or not yet, he said optimistically) appear in a comic, but I’ll save that for next week! Tune in next time, same Zot! channel!

Also you should find a copy of McCloud’s Destroy!! while you’re at it.

§ February 22nd, 2023 § Filed under cheese dip, indies, publishing § 19 Comments

Ray Cornwall asks regarding Scott McCloud’s Zot!

“I know there’s a trade of the B&Ws, but are they newer versions that should be read over the originals?”

As of now, The Complete Black and White Collection remains the definitive reprinting of that run of stories. However, it should be noted that there’s a two-part story from issues #19 and #20 that was drawn over McCloud’s layouts by Chuck Austen that is not included in its completed form. Only McCloud’s layouts are included. Also not reprinted are “#10 1/2,” the mini-comic drawn by Matt Feazell, and the full-sized “#14 1/2” also by Feazell.

One caveat is that, while otherwise this book reprints these stories as they originally appeared in print, the actual page size of the paperback is slightly smaller than the original comics. That’s the only real major change between the two presentations. So if I get what you’re asking, Ray, no, it’s all pretty much the same.

I am not sure of the printing status of this particular volume…Diamond Distributors doesn’t have it, but it appears readily available from Amazon.

The color issues were reprinted in a single volume by Kitchen Sink Press in 1997. Needless to say, it’s out of print. I checked out Amazon and there was a copy for (egads) $195, but other copies were available for $35 and up, so shop around a bit here and on eBay and such.

There are two more volumes in this Kitchen Sink book series that reprint up to issue #27 (except for the Austen-drawn #19-20). These are pretty much supplanted by the Complete Black and White volume.

I should also point out that Eclipse Comics published a small trade of the first four color issues, in case you wanted to know.

So basically, if you want the complete print Zot! comics collection, either buy all the comics individually (most of which I have available for sale at my shop right now, almost all signed!), or you buy that first Kitchen Sink trade, the black and white collection, the original print copies of #19 and #20, and the two Matt Feazell thingies.

Print, I said. Which leads me to what adam has to say

“I discovered zot thru scott’s website in the 90s. has anyone ever collected that series? don’t know how youd print that amazing episode thats just about falling thru the sky tho”

Adam is referring to the Zot! webcomic published at Comic Book Resources a good couple and a half decades ago.

It’s never been put into physical print, especially that one chapter adam mentioned with the long fall panel, designed for scrolling on a screen more than being divvied up across several pages in a book. I suppose it could be put in a single hardcover or something, though, as Scott himself notes, the artwork is a little “jaggy” and may not present well outside this context. Frankly, though, I think it looks fine. Printing it with jaggies an’ all would give it a solid retro feel, I think!

So, Zot! — it’s good, you should read it!

• • •

Speaking of collected editions, the newest issue of Groo: Gods Against Groo, #3, has the latest word from Mark Evanier about reprint collections of our favorite The Wanderer. And that word is “they’re looking into it,” basically trying to find a print format that 1) won’t cost you all your kopins, and 2) wouldn’t break any bones if you dropped it on your foot.

My personal feeling is that mimicking Marvel’s current “Epic Collections,” which are thick softcovers that contain about, I don’t know, about 15 to 20 issues or so, and usually costing about $40, may be the way to go. There are, what, at least a couple hundred Groo comics, plus the two graphic novels, plus other appearances here and there. That is about the equivalent of around 13 or 14 of Marvel’s Epic collections. Feels doable to me, but I’m not a comics publisher who’d have to pay for all that and then, hopefully, keep them reasonably in print.

At least that seems within reason, and that Sergio and Mark are actively trying to figure it out is good news. Sergio Aragones is a master cartoonist and that so much of it is out of print is a real shame. Thankfully the individual issues remain relatively inexpensive when you find them, so at least there’s that if nothing else.

No relation to the University of California Irvine.

§ February 20th, 2023 § Filed under indies § 7 Comments

So I’ve had Scott McCloud‘s Zot! on the mind lately, inspired primarily by recently processing a nearly-complete run of the series, most of which were signed by Scott. As is usual whenever I’m dealing with comics at the store that I have and love in my own collection, this made me want to reread the entire series. This, on top of the fact that I’ve already got a giant “to read” pile caused by my eye troubles, of course.

That didn’t stop me from rereading a few issues anyway, primarily the 3-part 9-Jack-9 story from the black and white run, a heartbreaking read that also raised a question or two in my mind about the nature of 9-Jack-9 himself. In my brief Googling on that topic (as well as a particular loose thread regarding the nature of Zot’s parallel “future” Earth of 1965), I discovered this documentary. Understanding Scott McCloud’s Zot! is an overview of the comic, as well as a biographical sketch of McCloud, his family, his entry into comics, his meeting the wonderful Ivy…all squeezed into under half and hour. Well worth the watch, and I hope you spend the time to do so:


An addendum: I’ve probably mentioned a million times before that my very first issue of Zot! was in fact picking up brand new the Zot! #10 1/2 mini-comic by Matt Feazell (which I believe I first mentioned waaay back the first month of this site’s life).

That got me to start reading the regular Zot! series when #11 launched the black-and-white run, and naturally sent me back issue hunting for the earlier color run. The elusive #5 was the last one I needed, which took me what seemed to me like forever to find…but probably only a few months, in reality. Nevertheless, every time I come across an issue 5 in the wild, like in this collection I was working on, I can’t help but to think “where were you when I was looking for you back in ’86?”

Making a…some kind of leap in collecting, not quite sure, it’ll come to me.

§ January 30th, 2023 § Filed under from the vast Mikester comic archives, indies § 2 Comments


So anyway, I was bugging pal Nat about finding a copy of Quantum Creep #1 from Parody Press, featuring an early script job by him, and having him autograph it for me. Then Sunday he surprises me with a fresh copy from his own stock personalized just for me! Sometimes I’m luckier than I deserve.

In case this isn’t obvious, Quantum Creep is a parody of the sci-fi TV show Quantum Leap (which has a currently-running reboot/relaunch which is quite enjoyable, by the way). Hopefully this isn’t telling tales out of school, but Nat told me that he and his partner on the book, Ted Slampyak, were presented with that cover (painted by Thad Rhodes III) and tasked with writing a spoof of the show around it.

I haven’t yet had a chance to properly read it yet, but a quick glance through the book show it’s appealingly cartooned, and I’ve spotted a few good gags…it’s written by Nat, after all, and I know he’s funny and clever. And now that I have this comic, I’ll need to complete my collection of Nat’s Parody Press books, of which there seem to be quite a few listed in this book’s editorial page. And some of those I’ve never even heard of before, surprisingly, so this will be quite the education!

And don’t get me started on Flaming Carrot.

§ October 10th, 2022 § Filed under indies § 10 Comments

With the impending return/continuation of Miracleman by Neil Gaiman and Mark Buckingham, which, you know, I’ll see that when I believe it*, I was thinking back to some other old favorites that I haven’t seen in a while, or at least wonder if they will continue and/or conclude in some fashion prior to the creators’ — um, inability to do more, shall we say.

The first series that comes to mind is grimjack:


…and shown above is the last issue released featuring the character, shipped to stores on January 6th, 2010. This…is kind of a convoluted situation, which I discussed on this site before. In essence, the original Grimjack series ended with a particular situation/circumstance/milieu change, but further mini-series (of which the above pictured comic was one) went backwards into the title’s history to essentially tell new stories of Classic Grimjack.

Which I guess is fine an’ all, since Classic Grimjack doesn’t take much explanation and Going-Past-Where-We-Left-Off Grimjack…um, would. And unfortunately it’s been so long that continuing the story now would, while not impossible, probably would find difficulty gaining much traction since the general perception of Grimjack, as much as it exists in today’s comics marketplace, is pretty much the version you see on the cover above. It’s disappointing, especially since future events for the character were teased and sounded intriguing, but seem unlikely to happen now (outside perhaps Kickstarter-type intervention). Supposedly an animated series is being developed, but whether that would be enough to get comics that pick up the story threads from where they ended…man, I don’t know. But it’d be nice.


So pictured above is the final issue of the most recent Concrete mini-series, released June 1st, 2005. Now, that’s not the most recent new stories with Concrete, as this comic, released July 18th, 2012, does feature three new stories from the Dark Horse Presents anthology. However, the forward motion of the character’s continuity has been on hold since 2005. This 2010 article announces a follow-up mini Stars Over Sand, which is as yet unreleased. Chadwick mentions this project again in a 2017 blog post on his site. Plus, here’s a 2018 Twitter post where you can actually see (from a distance) pages from the story!

I adore the Concrete comics, and miss the days when we seemed to have new material on a relatively regular basis. It’s a different, and more difficult, market now. And I know Chadwick has other stuff on his plate, so I’m being patient, but I can’t wait to read it.


Released on July 5th, 2017, this original graphic novel (released in the same format as that publisher’s hardcover reprints of the entirety of Beanworld) isn’t that long ago, so the idea that more will come out doesn’t seem like that distant a hope. The problem is that it feels like there is a lot of story yet to tell, so many more questions that need to be answered, and at this rate…well, I don’t know just how many more original graphic novels in the series we can realistically expect. I don’t know, maybe there’s a Giant Final Book being worked on even as I type this. I sincerely hope this ends up a completed masterpiece and not a tragically unfinished curiosity. It would seem there is a planned ending to this decades-long saga, and I hope we get to see it.

I’m sure there are more, but that’s enough for now. All beloved comics, all gone too long from the racks. Like I said above, it’s a more difficult marketplace in which to publish, so I’ll appreciate what I can get, when I can get it.

• • •

Don’t worry, I’m gettin’ back to Multiverse Talk shortly. Thank you for all your comments and, most importantly, keeping it civil!
 
 
 
 

* Phrased like that on purpose, because I know someone would say something otherwise. Quoting something, but I can’t recall what.

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