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“BRIAAAAANNNNN!!!” [shakes fist]

§ August 13th, 2018 § Filed under collecting, Uncategorized § 4 Comments

So this Twitter discussion with Pal Andrew got me nostalgic, in a way, for my days of comic collecting just prior to my frequenting dens of iniquity, er, I mean, comic shops…well, okay, same difference. Anyway, I was thinking back to my comic buying progression, from occasional purchases from grocery stores and newsstands, to buying those three-packs of Star Wars comics at Toys ‘R’ Us, to digging through stacks of old comics at used bookstores, to making the rounds on my bicycle of all the local convenience stores and that one nearby grocery store.

It was one day in 1983, while going to one of those convenience stores that was a little farther afield trying to track down an issue of something or other, that I ran into a friend of mine from school. I told him what I was up to, and he said “oh, you should check out Ralph’s Comic Corner, it’s a comic book store in Ventura, they should have what you’re looking for,” and thus did my long association with that store begin, leading to my evenual employment there, and of course to opening up my own store. So, should anyone ever ask how I ended up in my current situation, you can blame old schoolmate Brian Lindquist, wherever he may be now.

Not to say that Ralph’s was my first-ever comic shop. I visited one in Simi Valley prior to that, after having seen an ad or a coupon or something cluing me into its existence. That was a slightly further trek to make than the relative closeness of Ventura, so we didn’t go to that store very often (I think ultimately only about a half-dozen times, at most, including that one time I met Chris Claremont).

But, as I was saying, before delving deep into the world of THE DIRECT MARKET and all its horrors, I had various places around town that I’d hit up for comics, some relatively close, some requiring a little more of a journey, and you’d have to check them most of them out on a pretty regular basis to make sure you were seeing all the newest releases. The aformentioned grocery store usually had a pretty good selection, and, especially during the summer, more than once I’d show up on New Arrival Day just a little too early only to see the uncut bundles of comics sitting in a cart, waiting for some probably overworked employee to finally find the time to open ’em up and toss them on the rack.

The one place that was more of a “last resort” was a convenience store that was a little farther away than the rest, so I didn’t go there too often, especially since they inexplicably charged tax on comics (something that periodicals weren’t subject to in Califoria at the time), and even worse, sometimes the comics would have a price sticker directly affixed to the front covers! Eep! On the other hand, that particular shop was the one place I ever saw the Superman Spectacular out in the wild, which is still one of my favorite Superman stories, so I can’t think of it with too much disdain.

The best place in town to get comics was a place deep in Oxnard called the Strand Newsstand, which had pretty much everything. Tons of magazines, lots of paperback books, the extensive porn wing, and, of course, multiple spinner racks of comical books. Once I started going there (and we went there weekly, both my dad and I), my need to circulate amongst the other convenience stories pretty much declined (though I’d still pop in once in a while to tide me over between Strand visits). The weird thing about this newsstand, which has me wondering about their distributor situation, is that they’d occasional get stuff that primarily would go through the comic shop direct market. PC Comics, such as Groo and the Berni Wrightson Master of the Macabre, I found there. Fanzines like The Comic Reader. The first issue of Don Rosa’s Comics & Stories. The Comics Journal. And they seemed to get things a little bit earlier than my other funnybook sources, too.

Whatever the reason for their comic stocking advantages, this store became the place for me to get my regular comics fix…even after discovering Ralph’s Comic Corner, this place was still closer to us and I split my purchases between both shops. Eventually, I did more or less fully migrate over to just buying from Ralph’s, especially once I started seeking out back issues.

A lot of those places I used to buy from have since closed up shop, or stopped carrying comics…presumably for reasons unrelated to my no longer visiting them. It’s certainly a lot easier for me now to stay on top of gathering the comics I want to read, since all I have to do is wait for them to show up at my store after I order them. (I mean, theoretically, given the usual vagaries of our supplier.) Definitely more convenient, but somewhat…lacking in the mystery and excitement I used to feel traveling from shop to shop wondering what will be there, what new comic will I discover, what new stories will I hardly be able to wait to get home to read.

§ July 21st, 2012 § Filed under Uncategorized Comments Off on …

Our sorrow for the victims of the Aurora, Colorado theater shooting, and our sympathies for their family and friends.

Mike’s Lunchtime Update 3013.

§ March 1st, 2011 § Filed under Uncategorized § 1 Comment

  • Those Church ‘n’ Birdie cats, they pulled a fast one…America’s most beloved comic strip about a comic shop, The Rack, has returned! The cast is reintroduced here, and behold, the first “new look” strip! Characters live, characters die, nothing will ever be the same again!
  • And now, as part of an ongoing examination of the work of filmmaker Jim Wynorski, here’s an in-depth look at the cinematic classic The Return of Swamp Thing.

Something borrowed, something new, something bat, something blue.

§ August 29th, 2010 § Filed under Uncategorized § 3 Comments


Had no idea such a thing existed:

Batman Wedding Garter Set Black Bat with Gift Box

…now, when they come up with the Swamp Thing garter belt (vines) or Sluggo garter belt (shoelaces) then we’ll have something.

Love Superhero Style.

§ August 25th, 2010 § Filed under Uncategorized § 5 Comments


So regular commenter on the site, Roel Torres, and his drawin’ pal Scott Arnold have just unleashed their first comic book onto the world, Lightning Girl Loves Rocket Boy, an essentially done-in-one graphic novel featuring the romantic travails between two young college students who are also, it just happens, superheroes.

Roel was nice enough to pass along a copy to me, and I quite enjoyed it. I liked how the superheroics were pretty much just in the story for the purposes of how it affected the romance, and not the be-all, end-all of the story with a romantic subplot squeezed in. The dialogue is light and humorous when it needs to be, and services the romantic melodrama without being overly melodramatic and goofy.

Though it took me a page or three to get used to it, Arnold does a good job on the art, handling both the character interaction and the superheroics with his particularly stylized cartooning. All the characters are distinct and consistently portrayed and instantly recognizable, which is a plus considering the emphasis is on what happens to the leads when they’re NOT out in their superhero work uniforms.

The story itself is 50 pages long, but there’s a lot packed into it. There’s no wasted space on the pages, and no wasted time moving the plot along. No decompressed storytelling here. Yes, it’s a “boy meets girl, boy loses girl, does boy get girl back, I ain’t tellin'” plot, only with superheroes, and even with that twist, I’m sure we’re all familiar with the tropes of the genre. Even so, it still moves along at a quick and entertaining clip, and the basic story thread is given enough unique embellishment to go down easy.

If I were to bust the guys’ chops about a thing or two on the comic…having “The Beginning” at the end of the story? Oh, Roel ‘n’ Scott, say it ain’t so. You know the Mystery Science Theater 3000 guys would totally rake you over the coals for that. Also, the computer lettering used in the book was…well, not terrible, but just slightly distracting, but I got used to it. And there’s a panel or two in the comic where the characters felt like they weren’t really integrated into their backgrounds, such as when they’re standing on a rooftop but it looks more like they’re hovering over it or pasted into the panel. But that’s just getting nitpicky, and any rough edges the comic may have is the sort of thing experience takes care of. (Plus, I like comics with a rough edge or two…I’d rather read a comic produced by amateur creators just starting out in the field, like this one, than a fifteenth Avengers ongoing.)

But, overall, a good first effort, and I’d like to see more from these fellas. Maybe not more of this specific story, as, even though there’s a “#1” on the cover (and, ahem, “The Beginning”), it feels like we reached a definitive ending with this story and it’d be a shame to undo that. It stands on its own as an enjoyable addition to the relatively-sparse “Superhero Romance” genre.

If you go to the official blog, you can read an extensive preview of the comic, and you can order your very own copy right here.

• • •

In other news:

  • I received my package of Neil the Horse comics yesterday, and they’re all in good shape, with only the first issue having a crease or two on the covers. Can’t really complain for a 99-cent bid, though I have to admit I’m not thrilled about paying a certain amount for shipping, and then seeing that the actual shipping cost was only about a third of that. But…full run of Neil the Horse, under nine bucks total, stop complaining, Mike.
  • Hey, Superman: Secret Origin #6 is coming out today. Finally. Took ’em so long, it’s almost time to revise Superman’s origin again.
  • Bully, America’s Greatest Little Stuffed Bull, presents to you Archie Comics Versus Kids’ Fads. It’s a battle Archie only rarely won, if ever. (Ignore the first reader comment, where someone proclaims Archie late to the party for featuring a Wii-type game on a cover. Um, the Wii is still selling, last I heard. DO NOT TEMPT THE BULL’S WRATH, COMMENTER.)

In which I advertise a comic even further by discussing its advertising.

§ August 24th, 2010 § Filed under Uncategorized § 4 Comments


So Marvel and DC (well, mostly Marvel) regularly sends out packs of advertising postcards for shops to give away, usually listing all the tie-ins for a crossover series, or pushing some new title or storyline or what have you. They make for nice promotional items, and I’ve seen more than a few customers marking off titles they’ve picked up on the card’s checklists. And I’m sure a lot of them end up on display back at home somewhere…like, I’m not coming right out and saying that I have the “Planet Hulk” postcard on my fridge door, but I might.

That one I scanned above has received more reaction from our customers than any other card released so far. Okay, mostly it’s “they’re getting rid of a member of the Fantastic Four? Again?” but nearly everyone who’s seen the stack of these cards on the counter has commented on it. And really, this is about as perfectly pure and simple a targeted advertisement as I’ve ever seen. Okay, your average non-fan off the street may not get it, but every comic fan 1) recognizes this as the FF logo, and 2) knows that, hey, that should be a “4” in there, not a “3,” therefore something’s happening to one of the characters. The information on the back of the card is almost redundant…everything you need to know is pretty much right there on the front. (But if you need to know…it’s a storyline starting in next month’s FF. And you should be reading FF right now anyway, because writer Jonathan Hickman has been doing a good job on it.)

Anyhoo, just wanted to give some appreciation to this promo item. Well done, Marvel’s marketing department…well done.

• • •

In other news:

If one were to listen to the one year anniversary installment of War Rocket Ajax, featuring those Clown Princes of Podcasting Chris Sims and Eugene Ahn, you may hear them answering a Listener Question from a certain M. Sterling, at about the 1:27:30 mark.

EDIT 8-29-10: Had to shut off comments, as this particular post was attracting a lot of comment spam, for some reason.

FLINTSTONES OF TWO WORLDS.

§ August 23rd, 2010 § Filed under Uncategorized § 14 Comments

This is The Flintstones Double Vision (September 1994), a comic book adaptation of the live action feature film starring John Goodman as Fred:


The “Double Vision” in the title refers, not to the Foreigner song, but to this comic’s particular format…while at first glance, it appears to be a 3D comic:


…in fact, it’s two different adaptations of the same story! Looking only through the blue lens, you’d see the story as drawn with the characters resembling their live action counterparts (scans grayscaled for clarity):


Looking through the red lens, you’d see the story with the characters in their traditional animated form:


And if you were to look through both lenses:


OH GOODNESS DON’T DO THAT

Anyway, you don’t see anything in 3D, despite having to use 3D glasses for this particular gimmick. You do get to read a comic with one eye squeezed shut, and boy doesn’t that sound like fun.

An interesting thing on the cover:


They use “you know who” to make it rhyme, sure, but John Goodman’s name appears nowhere in or on the book, which I thought was odd since so much attention was paid to delineating the man’s features on the cover. But then, it’s not like actors get ballyhooed on comic book adaptations all the time as it is…you’re not getting the actor, anyway. You’re getting drawings of the actor. And there’s probably some additional licensing hoohar involved if you actually use the actor’s name, maybe…I really don’t know.

On the other hand, comic book adaptations of movies are kind of a moot point when you can own the actual movie about four or five months after seeing it in theatres, like I’ve written about before.

So, The Flintstones Double Vision…bit of an oddity, and a latter day example of a comic book genre that’s very nearly gone* nowadays. Also, it doesn’t appear to be in the Overstreet Price Guide, so I’m totally pricing this at $3000, and none of you can stop me.

* Yes, I know there’s a currently running adaptation of the Star Trek movie. That’s why I said “nearly gone.”

“Sounds disgusting!”

§ August 20th, 2010 § Filed under Uncategorized § 8 Comments

And now, a brief excerpt from

from Peter Porkchops #41 (Dec. 1955)

Here is what I found in my parking space behind the shop yesterday morning.

§ August 19th, 2010 § Filed under Uncategorized § 7 Comments


Not sure who did it…my name is spelled correctly, so that rules Employee Aaron out.

Also, minor correction to my headline here…this is actually the space to the left of my normal parking space, and you can see part of my truck on the right hand side of the picture, there.

…Yes, this is really what I’m posting today. Sorry, been a bit occupied with some some other things I need to deal with. Normal service should resume tomorrow, with any luck.

I’m joking about the “young man’s game” thing.

§ August 18th, 2010 § Filed under Uncategorized § 11 Comments


Neil the Horse is one of those series I’d been meaning to acquire for a while now, having somehow missed it during its original 1980s run. However, we never had more than a few issues at the shop, and didn’t feel like trying to track down the missing ones because I’m old and tired and back issue hunting is a young man’s game. But when a full run of Neil popped up on the eBay (and pictured above with the image from the actual auction) for an opening bid of ninety-nine cents…well, that was hard to resist. And I ended up winning the lot with that opening bid.

True, the shipping cost is seven and a half bucks, apparently for parcel post, which is…well, I’ll let this old post of mine explain, but even so that’s still a full run of Neil the Horse for under ten bucks, and therefore I won’t gripe too much.

There are other indie series from the early-to-mid ’80s that I missed that the store doesn’t have and I’m seriously thinking about picking up for cheap via the eBay, because clearly I don’t have enough comics already. And I’m still looking for the elusive Yummy Fur #9, which (if I recall correctly) was one of the issues of the series not carried by Diamond, making it a bit of a rare item. Well, sure, I at least have the lead story reprinted in one of the Ed the Happy Clown trade paperbacks, but the knowledge that I have issues #1 through #8 and #10 through #32 weighs upon me in a way that only fellow obsessive-compulsive funnybook readers can understand.

And by the way, I didn’t say anything about it at the time…but as only vaguely implied in that how to ship comics post, I’d bought a run of Minx on eBay, which is an eight issue series, and the seller wanted to charge me twelve bucks to ship ’em. Twelve. Dollars. That’s crazy talk, and I told him so. He eventually saw reason, but I guess that was my fault for not nailing down shipping ahead of my bidding.

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