Saturday, June 30, 2012

Good Shop, Bad Shop: My Comic Shop Pet Peeves

I have been meaning to write this for a while. I don't just love comics, I love comic shops. They hold the annals of comic history, and offer some idea of community no matter the quality. However, I have seen my fair share of mediocre and down right crappy shops that are both unpleasant to shop in and add to negative stereotypes of comics. I have compiled a list of what ruins a shop for me.
The Bad
1. Dirty, Cluttered, Unorganized
Boxes and random memorabilia should be blocking off half of the store. his should be a no brainer, but I have been to a shop where over 60% of the shop was just covered in stuff that would probably never go away. I can't imagine the owner knew where anything was, and my best suggestion would be to have a big de-cluttering sale. It is like being on a comic book version of "Hoarders". I have not seen another shop quite like this, but I am sure there are a few out there. There should be a system to inventory and any patron should be able to find it.

2. Bad Service
When I am signing my receipt, don't indignantly throw the pen at me, I am your patron and I just gave you money I could have spent online or at another shop. In any business service is key; this applies double for comics as the most well known example of a comic shop owner is Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons. Comics get an anti-social rap to begin with, and when some one actually fulfills those stereotypes, you hurt the medium and the culture. Greet people as they come in and don't yell when you are talking. I have only encountered truly bad service at a couple of places, but nothing makes a patron not want to come back more than treating them like a jerk for spending money in your shop.

3. Too Much Emphasis on Collecting
Let me qualify this by saying that I know collecting is an big aspect of comic sales, but overpricing everything deemed "collectable" will turn people off and will lead to overstock and clutter. Comics are for reading and I never want to go to a place that is filled with expensive things I don't want and can't afford.

4. A Game Shop With Some Comics in It
Now, I do enjoy some tabletop, and I do like card games, but I run into this pretty regularly where the shop has a taste of every nerdy thing under the sun. While I understand some of these tings typically net more money than comic books, don't call yourself a comic shop unless that is your main focus. In my experience, shops that try to do it all are either really big and have the space to do it all well, or they have disappointing supplies of one category, usually comics. Be a true specialty store!

5. Only Carrying the "Big Titles" & Superhero Books
This usually comes from a similar situation to #4, but I have seen it in some "only comics" shops. Comic is a term used to denote graphic and sequential literature, not just people in tights fighting the baddies. Now, I love superheros, and they are clearly the mainstay of american comics, but I love the medium as a whole. I urge comic shops to branch out to different genres and to carry lesser known titles. Grab some new customers with your selection of serious works and keep your old ones with your hero books.


Location:Oak Park, IL

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Brief Update

Hey, world, I haven't been able to do many comicy things lately, but I recently read "Sweet Tooth: Animal Armies" and I am currently reading "Maus"for the first time.

Sweet Tooth is a phenomenal series, and I can't wait to finish it up. This comes with little surprise, as Jeff Lemire has become one of my favorite writers due to his current Animal Man run. It's dark, interesting, and different from other post-apocalyptic works. Pick it up if you're a fan of the genre, or need a good entry spot.

I found it strange that despite my love of comics that I had not read the most recognizable comic to non-comicy folk. "Maus" is one of the most fascinating holocaust stories I have ever read. It could easily be an all text book, but Spiegelman created a great visual to tell his father's story. I don't need to say much about "Maus", it did win a Pulitzer, but everyone should read this book if they consider themselves a comics fan.


Location:Oak Park, IL

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Updating from the library

A few more reads I picked up at the library with my little sister. Sadly, she can't read these for a few more years, but she is making her way through the Tintin books.


Location:Oak Park Main Branch Library

Superman vs. The Elite: Review

Since my social calendar is pretty much non-existent right now, I get pretty excited about the little things. New comic day, superhero movies, and DC animated features. I am a pretty big fan of DC's catalog of animated features, and the most recent "Superman vs. The Elite" continues the standard of entertaining and pretty good cartoons put out by DC.

"Superman vs The Elite" is based on a turn of the century(2001) issue of "Action Comics" where Superman faces down some new meta-vigilantes who do not shy away from killing the baddies. The premise is the same and, although I have not read the issue, many reviews have said the new animation is quite deeper since it had time to expand upon what was crammed into one issue.

My opinion of the feature lean on the highly positive with a few concessions for the dialog.The premise, animation, and overall tone of "Superman vs The Elite" was quite Good. Superman faced a big threat while dealing with societal concerns toward justice, but it was hard to ignore some of the crappy banter of the members of The Elite. They drop corny lines while criticizing Superman for being a hokey hero, oh the irony. Outside of the leader, Manchester Black, the members of The Elite are stuck in one dimensional ruts. Coldcast is the strong quiet type, The Hat is a drunk, and Menagerie is slut. I would normally shy away from the word "slut", but every time she is on screen, she talks about how much she wants to sleep with Superman, then Manchester Black yells at her to "keep it in her pants", so, I don't have much to go on in the way of diction. Despite the mediocrity of The Elite, the relationship and dialog between Superman and Lois Lane was top notch. Their conversations are witty, cute, and feel very realistic for the two characters.

While I can't say that everyone who loves Superman should go out and buy "Superman vs The Elite", I would say it is worth watching. Try and find it on blu ray, the HD really made the animation pop. Check it out with some nerd buddies so you can make fun of the crappy dialog while enjoying Superman kicking some butt and standing up for truth justice and the American way.


Saturday, June 23, 2012

Nerd in the world goes semi-mobile!

Today, I purchased an Ipad and wil be using it to blog more easily on the move. I only got the WIFI version, but I think it will lead to more consistent, although shorter posts.


Friday, June 8, 2012

DC's "Injustice" Fighting Game Pops up at E3

I wish I had more time to follow E3 right now, but I have to settle for the snippets that I can fit in, one of which was the upcoming game "Injustice". "Injustice" is being developed by NetherRealm Studios, the makers of the 2011 Mortal Kombat game. While the art style seems very similar to MK, "Injustice" thankfully seems to be lacking the controversial, and pretty gross, finishing moves of the MK series. From the short trailer, this game is clearly not bound to standard comics reality, as we see, among other things, Batman kicking Solomon Grundy through a building. 
"Injustice" is going for the cool "let's smash everything!" persona of most fighting games. I would love another good DC hero game to rival their Arkham series, but fighting games are bottom of the barrel for story, but until that happens, I'll have to settle for this.


A Photo Reaction to Earth 2 #2

So, Earth 2 #2 came out on Wednesday. This is the comic with the controversial gay Green Lantern. I bought Earth 2 on Wednesday, and I collected my thoughts in photos.  I was informed when I purchased my copy that some people are trying to sell copies of this issue for upwards of $15. People wont even wait a few years to realize their comics aren't worth much. Oh well, enjoy my first photo reaction.


What is Mr. Fantastic doing here? Maybe I should read those issues.
Yeah, right.

What did they do to Jay Garrick's Costume?

It was pretty good! Success! 
Fucking "Before Watchmen" ad! I hate you!
Heehee, this book has pictures. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The CW's "Arrow" Releases New Extended Trailer

Well, I hate to admit it, but the CW may be able to include me as one of their viewers. I checked out this new extended trailer for their Green Arrow based show "Arrow" and it looks pretty good. The acting seems a little stiff, but if the episodes deliver what the preview shows, the CW may have an interesting take on the Green Arrow character.


Must Resist the Desire to get "Before Watchmen"

Before Watchmen launches today, I am not pleased. The prequels based on Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' classic Vertigo saga "Watchmen" have had their fair share of nay sayers, and I am one of them. Did "Watchmen"create characters that could have a great wealth of stories? Of course, but without support from Alan Moore, I do not feel right purchasing any "Before Watchmen" series. Comic companies have made bum deals to creators for most of a century now and the only way I can stand against it is with my dollar.
To be frank, I would love to read new "Watchmen" stories, but only if they were okayed by Moore and I am choosing to not financially support this endeavor by DC. If you believe DC should give creators more control over their characters, do not support "Before Watchmen".


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A Bit of Light Reading

I realized I was all out of books to read, so I made a quick run by my library and found a few things I had been meaning to get to.

Sweet Tooth vol. 2
Gotham by Gaslight
Buddha vol. 1
A Contract with God

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Old News: One of the Million Different Green Lanterns Created by DC is Gay

As I wrote before in my article concerning film and tv archery, it is strange how trends in media can catch on so quickly. Recently, there has been a lot of hoopla about gay superheroes in the comics world. I write this not to inform, as I am sure every other comics site has a more informative article, but rather to point out a few things tat crossed my mind.

The original Green Lantern was an obvious
symbol for religious piety and heterosexuality.
Comics are behind the curve- Think of a prominent gay superhero. Unless you named Batwoman, you should reconsider your definition of the word "prominent". I actually but Batwoman out there just because she is a member of the Bat-Family and she has a good series. While DC and Marvel have improved the LG superheroes (I haven't seen a lot of BTQ), television, film, and every other medium seem to have more well known gay figures. So, I agree it is nice that everyones third favorite member of Alpha Flight is marrying his boyfriend, it's great that Teen Titans introduced the gay hero Bunker, and it is wonderful that the non-space cop Green Lantern is gay, but DC and Marvel comics are still playing catchup to every other medium.

Why are only second or third tier heroes gay?- Now, It may be hard to make Superman dump Lois Lane for his "Best Pal" Jimmy Olsen, but why aren't any well known comic characters gay? Sure Green Lantern is, but there are five human green lanterns and the one in this article wasn't played by Ryan Reynolds. Comics are read by comics people, so the message of "it's okay to be a gay superhero" will reach a relatively small audience until it comes up in a more mainstream media. Superheroes from comics are easy fodder for films and cartoons, so why aren't any of the characters picked up by other mediums gay?

The new "gay" version of Green Lantern
Why are people mad?- I understand why conservative christians are mad, I disagree with their views, but they are predictable. My major concern comes from people I have seen on comment threads and discussion forums who are supportive of having LGBTQ characters, but are angered by the quick transition of formerly straight characters i.e. Green Lantern Alan Scott. Comics constantly change characters and back stories, particularly with a large reboot like DC's new52, a change like this should have been expected for some characters. While Alan Scott was a classic, he had 70 years to develop, a little change can be good. Another common complaint came from people claiming that all comics should be seen as pure fantasy and should be free of messages, political or otherwise. This complaint is ludicrous as any art form no matter how commercial or silly cannot be devoid of message.

A lot more work needs to be done- creating new gay characters and rethinking classic heroes is great, but diversifying comics can't stop after this little media dust-up. Creators should continue to seek reality and parable in their medium despite its classification as fantasy. While strides have been made by DC and Marvel to be inclusive to lesbian and gay communities, I urge the two major comic companies to continue to make comics more diverse. Why has there been no recent DC or Marvel film staring a hero of color*? I am not trying to belittle the achievements made thus far, I just want to see more.


Added (June 8)- I forgot to mention Mystique, who is  fairly mainstream and is a lesbian.

*By my count there have been five DC/Marvel Films staring black actors, but none of other races.
1997- Steel (DC) staring Shaquille O'Neal. Tomatometer 12%
1998- Blade (Marvel) starring Wesley Snipes. Tomatometer 55%
2002- Blade II (Marvel) starring Wesley Snipes. Tomatometer 59%
2004- Blade Trinity (Marvel) starring Wesley Snipes. Tomatometer 26%
2004- Catwoman (DC) starring Halle Berry. Tomatometer 10% (comic Catwoman is white)
Future?- Nick Fury (Marvel) starring Samuel L. Jackson. I did not include this film as it has not been made yet. The original Nick Fury was white and an alternate Nick Fury was created for the Ultimate universe, filmmakers chose this version of Fury for the films.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Cut List Part 2 of 2: The Replacements

My one year comics anniversary is coming up (cute, ain't it?). Anywho, these are the series I will be following in the coming several months, or until they get sucky. In addition to this list I will also continue reading Animal Man as I wrote in my last article

The Defenders- I started reading this series when it restarted about 6 months back. It began with a nifty arc following up on the "Fear Itself" event. "The Defenders" has consistently grabbed my interest and has one of the cooler teams in comics: Dr. Strange, Namor, Iron-Fist, Red She-Hulk, and the Silver Surfer.

Wolverine and the X-Men- Coming out of the big mutant split in the "Schism" event, "Wolverine and the X-Men" follows wolverine as he seeks to create a new mutant school out of the ruins of the Xavier school. As one of my favorite cartoons as a kid was the wonderfully bad "X-Men Evolution", it should come as no surprise that I love the school setting. While more serious books are nice, there is something wonderful about the classic X-Men formula about teenagers trying to control superpowers.

Uncanny X-Force- I love mutants. Make me pick a side in "Avengers vs. X-Men" and I will always go with X-Men. "Uncanny X-Force" is consistently a more serious, and often more violent, group of mutants doing the dirty work others try to avoid. With solid arcs filled with moral dilemmas, a darker art style and a team including Wolverine, Fantomex, Deadpool, Psylocke, and an alternate dimension's Nightcrawler, it is hard to not like this series.

Saga- I read about this Image series on Comics Alliance, and decided to pick up the first few issues. The strange scifi mixed with a darker sense of humor is very different than any other series I can find right now. In addition to all that wonderfulness, It is illustrated by Fiona Staples who is quickly becoming one of my favorite artists, she also drew Mystery society.

The Flash- I probably should have subscribed to this book at the beginning of the new52 as I have been reading it since the #1. "Flash" is a pretty nifty dude and so far his book has been pretty interesting. My only concern is that with the reintroduction of the new52, certain topics feel rushed. In less that 10 issues, the series has covered the speed force, the crazy speed zone, Captain Cold, Gorilla Grodd, and a bunch of other things. However, the writing has been pretty good and I enjoy the art along with Barry Allen as a character. "Flash" will probably stick around on my list for a while.

Action Comics- This is another book I should have subscribed to as I have been buying it and it is really good. Grant Morrison delivers exactly what you want and expect from him, complicated stories that will have no clear conclusion until they end, and even then it'll take a while to sink in. If you want to get into some freaky superman stuff, pick this series up, but make sure you start with the beginning TP.

Earth 2- Since this series has only had one issue, it is hard to expand upon it, but any comic that kills Wonder Woman, Batman, and Superman in the first issue should be considered interesting. "Earth 2" will follow the old school JSA characters as they are tweaked for the new52.

Worlds' Finest- This falls in the same category as "Earth 2". It is new and interesting and introduced the boob windowless Powergirl.

Justice League (maybe)- I feel like I need to follow this because it is the Justice League, yet Geoff Johns has been a complete disappointment. While some new52 series grab too much story in too little time, Johns seems content to fill a 40 page book with a few one liners and the awkward interactions of the least interesting superhero portrayals ever.