*Obie, through his dabbling in arcane magics mixed with ancient corrupt business practices, has had not just the colors of his fur switched, but a complete overhaul of his work ethic as well…I think I’m kinda okay with the mishap.
Alrighty, Denizens, I’m going to try something a little different for a change. Something that will still let you know about some great comics only in a slightly different format with a topic that will change from week to week. Why am I doing this? Well, I’ve been reviewing the new comics of the week since early 2010—without fail, thank you very much—and writing out a review of say Super Duper Comic Bonanza #1, Super Duper Comic Bonanza #57, and everything in between has begun to diminish my enjoyment of my weekly Wednesday haul. Now, I will still jump in and go into detail about specific new books (or at least ones that are new to me) from time to time, I just won’t be saying the same thing over and over again every month about the same comics I always talk about.
So, topics can cover anything and everything, and if you’ve been with me since the beginning—love you, Mom!—then there will certainly be some repetition of stuff I’ve previously mentioned over the past seven years. Some comics will probably appear multiple times here and there, but that will mostly depend on the topic at hand. That said, I promise there will also be a bunch of new stuff coming at you to stretch your wallet and fill your book shelves. I will provide links to the most readily available, and most affordable version of the books I talk about. So, if a comic or trade strikes your fancy, please click the link and make a purchase so that I can get a little somethin’ somethin’ from mycomicshop.com or Amazon.com—hey, if you buy a book from Amazon.com, feel free to also buy a lawnmower or a refrigerator so I get the commission from that too.
Anyhow, let’s get this thing started! On to…
I’m not completely certain where my earliest comic books came from or if my parents actually paid enough attention to look under the Casper the Friendly Ghost issue to find the odd Batman or Spider-Man issues or the more intense Weird War Tales, Swamp Thing (issue #10 to be exact), and Sandman waiting beneath. All I know is that I had an impressive stack of bent, battered, and bruised beauties to flip through and to be amazed by. I was much too young to know how to read, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t understand the gist of what was happening from the sequential art, and in the event certain scenes didn’t make sense, I made up what was happening in the story in my head. It was all good.
The more kid-oriented books were fine—I loved their vibrant colors—but it was all about superheroes and monsters for me. Werewolf by Night drew me in every bit as much as The Mighty Thor, and with my already established love of movie monsters like Godzilla, and amazing television shows like Johnny Sokko and His Flying Robot and the animated Speed Racer, I no longer had to wait for a scheduled show to air. Through comic books, I could now enter strange, fantastic worlds whenever I wanted; I visited often.
The thing about comics, like jelly beans, once you sample one or two you only want more more more. My treasured stack of books never failed to entertain, but I soon noticed that things often seemed unfinished by the final page of the issue. There seemed to be something else, something more waiting to be discovered. As a seven-year-old, I had no way of knowing what else was out there. The few cartoons on TV made me excited for the characters I loved on the page, and the Mego action figures I hoarded, despite being routinely eaten by my dogs, only compounded my enthusiasm for monsters and superheroes. But comic books were never located in the toy aisle. They did not have commercials on TV. The problem was that I did not know where comics came from or, more importantly, where they ended up.
Then came the day I saw my first spinner rack.
Marvel Two-In-One or The Invincible Iron Man or The Amazing Spider-Man and some Willy Wonka Bottle Caps candies if I begged my parents enough.
Swamp Thing #10 and The Micronauts #2. With Swamp Thing, it became apparent that not all artists are created equal, and that when it came to the gorgeous lines, the mastery of anatomy—the muscle definition, the lines at someone’s eyes when they smile, the stance one has to take to maintain one’s balance—no one could come close to Bernie Wrightson. His work was shocking, his monsters horrific, his hero equally disturbing, but no matter how utterly terrifying I found his character, Anton Arcane, I would read this comic over and over again. I would linger on every single panel, appreciating the blades of grass and leaves on the trees just as much as the grinning, misshapen death’s head of Arcane as he tormented the heroic Swamp Thing. When I bought my first issue of The Micronauts, a story about a strange blend of heroes from a microscopic universe imperilled by a terrible despot, I had already fallen in love with the awesome toys, but it was finding issue two at the newsstand at the Summit Mall in Akron, Ohio, that I became a comic book collector. I could no longer miss an issue without that dreaded feeling of missing out on something important. I was hooked and now knew I had to be diligent in my trips to the news stand, I had to be sure to not miss a single part of what became my favorite series of all time.
Heavy Metal” and anything from Warren Publishing. While my mom shopped at the local Click store, my brother and I would hang out in the magazine section, and it was there that I found a new level of horror comic in “Creepy” and “Eerie.” Here I found art by my idol, Bernie Wrightson, and was immediately stunned by a new—to me, at least—master of illustration, Richard Corben. But sitting alongside these titles was the titillating “Vampirella,” featuring the adventures of the iconic, scantily-clad, alien vampire from the planet Drakulon. Ramping things up another notch in the naughty-magazines-a-nine-year-old-should-not-be-reading was “Heavy Metal,” which went even beyond “Vampirella” with full nudity and sexual situations, often times illustrated by my new hero, Corben. Yeah, there was no way mom would buy these for us.
When I turned ten, we moved to Santa Barbara, California, where I found spinner racks in even more stores and my brother and I discovered The Uncanny X-Men and the character most of the country now knows about, Wolverine. Unfortunately, the days of finding anything other than books from Archie Comics at your local 7-11 or grocery store were coming to an end with the onset of selling exclusively to the direct market, in other words, comic book stores. This shift was a dark time for my brother and me, as we had no idea that such a thing as a store devoted predominately to comic books was an actual thing. It was an especially tough blow when my beloved The Micronauts announced at the end of issue 37 that it would no longer be sold at news stands, but rather to the direct market.
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, The Saga of the Swamp Thing, Watchmen, Teenage Mutant Turtles, and countless other comics that put the industry on the map. It unfortunately also caught the attention of speculators and the creation of a comics bubble that would go on to nearly destroyed the entire industry. Multiple comic stores had popped up on or just off of the main street, and all but one would eventually weather the implosion that shuttered the rest, including Andromeda. It was during this period in the mid-nineties that I completely dropped out of comics for a few years, but I, of course, went back; most of my life had been devoted to the medium, it was part of me.
Since then, I have seen the ebbs and flows of Marvel and DC, and the rise and fall and resurrection of many of the independents. I now pay attention to, and understand, much of what occurs in the industry, and know what it is like to be a comic book creator—writing scripts, hiring artists to illustrate my stories, digitally lettering and coloring an artist’s work, pitching to small publishers—but all the while keeping up with new comics, hunting down missed treasures from the past, meeting my creator heroes at conventions, and rereading my favorite titles for umpteenth time. Put it this way: if you ever need to find me, just go to my LCS (local comic shop) on new comic book Wednesday at around 3:45 pm, and, without fail, that’s where you’ll find me. See you there.
The Week’s Reading ListLazarus X+66 #2 (written by Greg Rucka and Aaron Duran, illustrated by Mark Chater, lettered by Jodi Wynne, edited by David Brothers, publication design by Eric Trautman, published by Image Comics). Another cool side story this time focusing on Joacquim. At times a little hard to follow, but enjoyable nonetheless. RECOMMENDED!
The Dying & the Dead #5 (written by Jonathan Hickman, illustrated by Ryan Bodenheim, colored by Michael Garland, lettered by Rus Wooton, published by Image Comics). This chronically late series is still intriguing, although diving into the side story of the war without any of the mystical aspects found in the first three issues is a very odd choice. RECOMMENDED!
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #8 (written by Roberto Aguierre-Sacasa, illustrated by Robert Hack, lettered by Jack Morelli, published by Archie Comic Publication, Inc.). Another very delayed issue, but when you have such an expertly-told, creepy-as-heck story with art reminiscent of the best of the Warren Magazine days, then the wait is definitely worth it. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Paper Girls #15 (written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Cliff Chiang, colored by Matt Wilson, lettered and designed by Jared K. Fletcher, color flats by Dee Cunniffe, published by Image Comics). My LCS never ever received this issue, so I picked it up elsewhere. Glad I did. Great chapter conclusion that leads into the exciting next adventure. Still a great series. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Tarantula (written by Fabian Rangel Jr., illustrated by Alexis Ziritt, lettered by Evelyn Rangel, published by Adhouse Books) Straight up…go out and buy this book, especially if you love Space Riders as much as I do. A scantily-clad, whip-wielding woman of mystery, the skull-faced Señor Muerte, a luchador detective, and a whole host of retro comic oddball characters make this diminutive hardcover a new prize in my collection. Love it! VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!