Thursday, June 29, 2006

Walking on McCloud Nine

Right now I'm what you call a happy son of a bitch. Not only did I get an artist for my Postcards story, not only do I have a 4-day weekend coming up, and not only do I have three signed comics coming my way, but I also got a copy of Scott McCloud's Making Comics in the mail today. This is one book the collector in me holds no sway over. Nope. I'm going to use this book, you can bet on that (well, use it gently, of course, but use it I will).

When I figured out what was in the envelope, I quickly sat down and devoured the first chapter, "Writing with Pictures." It's nothing short of perfect. I mean, McCloud is a comic genius. While Will Eisner certainly did a great job of detailing the ins and outs of sequential art, McCloud just makes it so much...easier. His use of comic panels instead of prose text to explain each idea really hammers home the reasoning behind it all.

This book looks to be the perfect how-to book for comic creators. But screw all this writing about it, I'm going to go read the thing. I'll be back when I'm done...

Coming Attractions

I might be bored with buying and reading current comics, but that doesn't mean I can't enjoy some minty fresh back issues. Signed no less. Don't these look pretty? I have these two beauties (and another I won't show just yet) coming my way next week. The only thing better would've been meeting Mr. Brubaker myself.

Damn it feels good to be a comic whore sometimes.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Goodbye Mint Condition, I’ll Miss You

Earlier this week, Darrel, an editor I work with, told me he was curious about graphic novels. I saw this as an opportunity to get him interested in sequential art, so after getting an idea of what movies he’s enjoyed, I decided to lend him my copy of A History of Violence, by John Wagner and Vince Locke. I chose this particular title because of the subject matter and the quality of the presentation, but also because the copy I have isn’t a first edition.

I think he’ll like the book, so I’m doing my duty as a comic fan to further the medium. But let’s face it, I was not about to hand over a book that’s near and dear to me. If the future of comics depended on me handing over a pristine first edition, then maybe, but as it was, no way.

When I stood before him with the nearly flawless book in hand, I started the conversation by saying, “I’m letting you borrow this, but there are rules.”

“Uh oh,” he said jokingly, with a fake ominous tone and a laugh that was a little too uproarious for me. He obviously had no idea how serious I was.

“No, seriously,” I said, my face stern as I brought the conversation back to the level of seriousness it deserved. “I’m a book collector. And I’m a comic collector. And I like to keep my books in pristine condition.”

I showed him the copy of A History of Violence I was about to lend him, making it readily apparent he was not yet meant to reach out to grab it. No, that would happen only after he agreed to the rules. “I’ve already read this book,” I said, indicating the undamaged spine and the flawless pages and covers. “I’ve been known to read a book several times but still be able to return the book for a full refund without the clerk ever considering the book might’ve been touched, let alone opened and read.”

By now another co-worker, Georgie, was watching the conversation unfold.

“Oh no, you’re one of them,” Darrel said, again trying to bring some levity to the conversation.

“That’s right,” I said. “And I’m giving this to you with the hopes you can treat with the proper respect.”

After a moment of silence, I felt he understood the gravity of the situation, so I reached out and handed him the book. “Lucky for you this isn’t a first edition or we wouldn’t be having this conversation. But as it is, we’ll consider this a trial. You only get one strike.”

The three of us talked animation and graphic novels and Hollywood for a few minutes as Darrel flipped gently through the pages of the book. At one point I was discussing my desire to break into the creative side of comics when Darrel spoke up. “When I read books,” I heard him say as he tossed the book into his bag, “I’m generally so rough they’re practically destroyed; unreadable when I’m finished.”

My heart stopped for the briefest of moments. Did I hear him right? I tried to replay the last few seconds of the conversation. Did he say he destroyed them, or that he was just usually pretty rough?

“Oh, he didn’t like that,” I heard Georgie say in the distance, my mind so focused on trying to determine what he really said, what he really meant, that I couldn’t even keep up with what was currently being said. Darrel said something about being nice this time around, but I wasn't listening anymore.

I took a deep breath and tried to forget what I saw and what I heard. "It’s not a first print," I told myself. "And it’s a trial offer. I have to give him the benefit of the doubt and hope that he’ll keep his end of the agreement. If not, well, we don’t have to do business ever again."

With that, I said my goodbyes and left as quickly as I could, getting out of there before I changed my mind and asked him to give it back to me. But on the way home, I replayed the scene a few times. No matter how I tried to spin the transaction, I could only come up with one conclusion: I’ve seen the last of my pristine copy of A History of Violence.

I hope the world of comics can appreciate my sacrifice.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Are You Ready for Some Football?

I’m all giddy with excitement for the start of football season. With two tickets to the Packers/Vikings game in December, why shouldn’t I be?

To get the party started, I picked up this nice Ahman Green jersey card numbered to only 25. Of course, there was very little excitement when I won the auction, less when I got it in the mail, and even less when I put the card in a plastic sleeve and stuffed it away in the closet. Turns out that just like with comics, I’m finding myself less and less interested in any aspect of the football card hobby. So much so that last night I contemplated the best ways to sell off my collection with it being only 76 percent complete.

I wonder if this is normal for other hobbies. I’ve heard many comic, book, and card collectors complain that they get bored from time to time and have to pull back from the hobby for awhile before diving full bore again when they’ve recuperated. But is that the same for hobbies like painting, or woodworking, or scrapbooking?

Because I’ve gotta be honest, I’m getting tired of this ebb and flow crap. Just read my blog from beginning to end and you’ll recognize this isn’t some random notion. It happens way too often for me to actually be able to say I love the hobby. I mean, how can I say that when a quarter of the time I question its worth?

Of course, that won’t stop me from bidding on other cards or comics on my list, which is probably just another part of the problem.

Friday, June 23, 2006

The Fine Art of BroDart

“Mmmm, beer. The cause of and solution to all the world’s problems.”
- Homer J. Simpson.

It’s amazing just how right Homer is. Of course, you can substitute beer with collecting in my case, but the thought is the same. I’ve always been intrigued by the fact that readers throw slurs my way, calling me a freak, a loser, or an obsessive compulsive nerd who needs to seek counseling. Well, to me, my collecting is my counseling. Or more precisely, my need to collect is the problem, but the peripheral stuff is the solution.

I’ve said before how making lists or putting comics and football cards into their final resting place can actually be very therapeutic. In a world of stress, I find my incessant habits to be very rewarding, relaxing, and enjoyable.

Let’s take BroDart as an example. For those who don’t know, BroDart is to dust jackets what Mylar is to comic books. It serves as protection and presentation enhancement. It’s essentially a sheet of plastic that wraps around the dust jack to offer a snug, perfect fitting outer shell.

I use this protective sheet of plastic for several reasons. The obvious reason is that it protects the book’s dust jacket. And as I’ve said before, it also makes the jacket look damn sharp by hiding tiny imperfections and giving it a bright, shiny sheen. Additionally—and I openly admit this—while I read a hardcover, that smooth, unblemished surface gives my hands a bit of pleasure while my eyes enjoy the story. It’s just another way, albeit a small one, to get more senses involved with the reading experience.

But while none of these benefits can be neglected, I also love the action of putting on each sheet of BroDart. It’s a simple task that takes concentration to do correctly. By focusing on each step in the process, my mind can no longer worry about the stresses of the day. Instead, I need to take into account the needs of the book in front of me, and how important it is to focus on every detail. Hunching over the work table, folding and caressing, double checking my work…this all relaxes me. Ask any woodworker or model maker. It’s that focus, that precision that makes the hobby relaxing.

Let me put it another way. Have you ever washed a new sports car? Remember how it felt to run your fingers over the curves, over those smooth surfaces? Or the satisfaction you get when you’re done that you not only spent time doing something you love, but by doing so, you also protected and enhanced something you consider beautiful. It’s the same with BroDart. Pulling the sheet so it’s snug against the dust jacket, then running your fingers to crease that lower edge so it too is nice and tight…it’s toned down eroticism. A feast for your fingertips as well as the eyes and soul.

But unlike a shiny new car, calling a dust jacket or book sexy might get you thrown in the loony bin. In reality, however, it’s not that different. It’s just not as well known, and thus, not as accepted. More people like me need to step out of the shadows and admit to enjoying things others consider weird before we stop being looked upon with fear or rejection.

My hobbies and the enjoyment I get from them, they don’t damage my life in any way. I don’t neglect my wife or friends. It’s not something I need counseling for. It’s simply a form of enjoyment others consider different, so it’s not acceptable.

But that’s okay. You go on hating, while I go on enjoying my life, including those small things like putting BroDart on a new Frank Cho collection.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Grand Opening

Ah, sweet bliss.

I got a box of BroDart in the mail yesterday, which meant I was finally able to open my Fantastic Four Omnibus. And let me tell you, the experience was heavenly. I held the oversized book in my hands, feeling the weight and smelling the pages as I turned it over to soak in every square inch of that gorgeous behemoth. I tugged at the plastic wrap and gently pulled it open, making sure the plastic didn’t snag any of the fragile edges. There was an audible sigh. At first I thought it was the book offering a sign of relief for finally being released from its dungeon, but I quickly realized it was me releasing a breath I didn’t know I had been holding.

Although I wanted to sit down immediately and begin reading the early adventures of the Fantastic Four, I resisted. Instead, I took the 10 minutes necessary to properly fit a sheet of BroDart over the dust jacket, caressing the smooth surface of the plastic as I fitted the two together, long lost lovers finally together for all eternity.

Once finished, I put the protected cover back on that hardcover, snuggling it tightly to the boards. That classic cover enshrined in a protective sheen that enhanced the cover’s radiance. Now that was heavenly. Only then could I sit in my chair and read the first few chapters without hurting the dust jacket.

Yes, life is good.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

This Comic Stuff Has Gone Too Far

“I had the most terrible dream last night,” Stephanie told me earlier today. “Josh Howard was in a car wreck and suffered head trauma. It was all over the radio and TV but you were out of town and I was trying to get the news to you.”

“You know the comic stuff has gone too far when your wife is dreaming about it!” she said.

I wasn’t sure if I should laugh or be creeped out. Why the hell was my wife dreaming about comic creators and car wrecks? And why Josh Howard? Should I take this as a sign that I should be hunting down signed back issues or asking him to draw me another Dejah Thoris?

Regardless, my wife and I both wish Mr. Howard a long, healthy life creating comics. But for now, maybe I should keep the news about his new Eve series to myself.

I finally figured out why I’m into comics one day but not the next. The reasons probably won’t surprise you, but my solution just might. Look for more information in the coming days...

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Absolute Confusion

I’ve been sitting here for 15 minutes trying to decide the tone of today’s post. Do I voice my concern with my lack of interest in 99% of the September solicitations that were released this week, or do I focus on the one shining gem amongst the mass of insignificant titles? Or should I risk losing those few readers I do have and try to tackle both issues?

See, I’m a bit perplexed by my lack of interest. It seems that once again I could care less about what’s coming out. The thrill simply isn’t there. Sure, those issues bearing an Adam Hughes cover or those special issues like Ultimate Spider-Man #100 caught my eye and will catch my wallet when that time comes, but for the most part, I couldn’t care less about the comics I’m reading.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love comics. I love the stories and art. But it’s time (again) to seriously evaluate how I get my fix: on a monthly basis or by waiting for the collected editions. A quarter of the books I get now I’m waiting to read when I have several issues in a row, and half I’m already buying both the monthlies and the trades, so what’s the difference? Aside from being able to participate on message boards and getting to put my pretties into shiny plastic, there’s no real benefit to get monthlies.

But oh man, look at the benefit of waiting for the trade. Just one look at the Absolute DC New Frontier has me mapping out a spot for it on my bookshelf. Not only will it make a fine addition to my book display, but I can’t wait to hold that behemoth in my hands, feeling the weight of it while I read Darwyn Cooke’s story and soak in those Dave Stewart colors. Plus, I get the whole story in one or two sittings instead of waiting months to read the next chapter while hoping I haven’t forgotten what insignificant events happened last time.

Lucky for me I don’t have to make a decision any time soon. Instead, I get my next delivery from DCBS in a few weeks when I’ll have a Christmas in July, a Christmas devoted to nothing but comics. If that box of goodies doesn’t get me excited about monthlies, then I’m switching to trades for good. And with books like New Frontier coming soon, that’s not a bad thing. But if I do become giddy like a school boy, I’ll be back on the wagon, telling the world how I’ve changed my mind again and can’t wait to read all those cool monthlies.

Monday, June 19, 2006

My First Day All Over Again

Give me a break! With all that indecision at Barnes & Noble last week concerning whether to buy those Superman books or the X-Men hardcover, I managed to walk away with an imperfect copy of the one book I did buy, Coma. Sure, it was a bargain book and cost less than five bucks, but damn it, I’m a book collector. Have been for years. And I’ve perfected my process of finding that one gem out of all the others. So how the hell did I spend 10 minutes scrutinizing all four copies yet come away with this crap?

I have no idea how this dust jacket got through my radar. Not only is there a quarter inch line of blue ball point pen ink on the back cover, but there’s also a small, reddish splotch the size of a nickel. I can almost understand missing one of those, but both of them? Good grief, did I not even turn the book over? I mean, steps 3 and 14 both clearly state that I must slowly look over every section of the back cover for quality insurance. How could I miss both? Do I need to take this to the next level and actually print out a checklist?

I was distracted, sure, but that’s no excuse. I’m no novice. This isn’t my first day on the job. I’ve done this thousands of times before. My only guess is that I skipped a step or two when I removed the only “flawless” dust jacket from one book and put it on another, the one with the tight spine and crisp white pages. But where did I slip up? I either put the dust jacket back on the same book, or I never bothered to look at the back cover. Either way, it’s unacceptable. I mean, if this were my career, I’d have to seriously consider laying myself off.

Lucky for me, I can go back to B&N and switch it out for a better copy. Hell, maybe it’s a sign indicating I should go back and pick up those Superman books. But what about my confidence? This is the type of thing that could send me into collecting tailspin. Will I second guess myself endlessly next time? Will I even be able to make a decision at all? If this gets out to the collecting community, my reputation will be ruined. I need to take corrective action immediately or all could be lost.

Friday, June 16, 2006

The Bane of My Existence

What the hell is wrong with me? I get a little money and all of a sudden I can’t make a decision to save my life.

Case in point:

I took the day off to recuperate from a few hectic days of work. So I’m driving along this morning, heading to the movie theatre to see an early showing of Cars, when out of nowhere I have to buy something. Now! I have $95 left from the bonus I got two days ago and my burning pocket is beginning to singe the hair on my thighs. If I don’t whip out my credit card soon, I’ll have a seizure.

I do a quick u-turn and head for Barnes & Noble. Before I get halfway there, I’m already plotting my plan and it no longer incorporates going to the bookstore. Instead, I decide to turn back for home and buy that new X-Men Omnibus from Instock Trades. Doing that won’t feel as good as spending the money and actually walking away with something in hand, but I’ve had my eye on that collection for awhile, and there’s no time like the present.

Of course, I mull this over for roughly one minute longer than it actually takes me to get to B&N, so in I go. No more than eight steps inside my eye catches bright reds and blues and an old Superman logo.
”Ooooh, cool,” I mutter to myself. I do a quick glance around to make sure no one heard me talk to myself, then I pick up the hefty book, Superman: The Dailies 1939-1942. It’s a gorgeous hardcover that reprints the first 966 Superman daily newspaper comic strips. Of course, right next to it is another hefty book, Superman: Sunday Classics 1939-1943. Both are B&N exclusives.

Now I have a dilemma. Go home and get the X-Men book online or pick up these beauties now. Damn! What to do? Naturally, I can't rush into this, so I walk around the store while I think it through. Of course I'm in a bookstore so I find another book while I'm debating the issue. Lucky for me, Coma by Alex Garland, is only $5 on the bargain table, so it really doesn’t effect my decision. After comparing the quality on the four copies in front of me and switching out the dust jackets so the minty fresh one is teamed with the tight, pristine book, I’m off.

I peruse other books with Coma tucked safely under my arm, ensuring it’s protected from possible damage caused by a sweaty palms or obstacles that might be jutting out from table, bookshelves, or passerby. I pick up a few other books, but nothing catches my interest. How can they when my mind continues to turn over my debate?

But unfortunately, there’s no decision to be had. There’s too much at stake here. I leave the store without Superman.

Driving home, my indecision takes a turn for the worse. Instead of looking at the problem logically, I begin to kick myself for spending money on lunch three times this week. And why did I have to order a pizza last night? What an idiot. Had I simply taken a sandwich to work a few times or eaten macaroni and cheese last night, I’d have enough money to buy all three books. Instead, I have to carry this baggage with me the rest of the weekend.

Then it gets even worse when I start to tell myself that I don’t need any of those damn books anyway. I already have a backlog of unread books on my shelves, so how will three more make me any happier? It’s not like I’m going to have time to read the damn things anytime soon. Screw ‘em.

So what do I do when I get home? I start checking online prices for the books I’m looking for. Good, God, man, what’s wrong with me? Why can't I just make a fucking decision?

I’m telling you, sometimes I wonder if I should take up a new hobby.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Two Hundred

Guess who just got a $200 bonus for his five-year anniversary at work. Yep, me. And guess who’s already jonesin’ to spend spend spend. Yep, me again.

Let’s see how long it takes to spend that money, shall we? I deposited the check 24 hours ago, and I’ve already spent $68 on a box of BroDart.

What’s next?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Milkin’ Honey

Boy, does Frank Cho know how to milk his art for everything it’s worth or what? But if anyone’s going to milk his own art, it might as well be the guy best known for drawing breasts. I love the man’s art, and I readily admit that I purchase anything with his name attached, even if it’s just a hardcover reprinting previously published work, as is the case in the recently solicited Liberty Meadows: Cover Girl.

Just like Frank Cho Women: Selected Drawings and Illustrations, you won’t be finding anything in this new hardcover that you haven’t seen before. And that’s fine by me. I like the idea of being able to flip through his work without having to dig through my boxes of comics.

A couple of nights ago, I was doing just that, perusing Women while Stephanie updated the checkbook. She turned to me and asked what I was looking at. I held up the cover.

"Who’s Frank Cho?” she asked, genuinely interested.

“One of the best pinup artists in comics,” I said, studying another image of Dejah Thoris. “I like the way he draws women. They’re sexy, but they’re real.”

"Let me see,” she said, turning her chair around and reaching out her hands greedily. I handed the book to her but obviously wasn’t able to mask my hesitation. “Just give it to me. I won’t hurt it.”

With reluctance I let her take it and watched as she flipped through the pages, saying things like “Oooh, jungle girl.” It didn’t take long for her to notice one of Cho’s trademarks: big boobs.

“They’re huge,” she said.

“Yeah, but they’re real,” I countered, pointing out how they moved with the action instead of just standing perky and perfect like in most depictions of women found in comics.

“They’re huge,” she said again.

“But proportionate,” I said, pointing out that these women are larger than most comic heroines, with larger legs and arms and butts, too.

“Why do they have to be so big?” she asked. “I mean, you don’t see Spider-Man running around with a giant [expletive deleted].”

“But no one wants to see Spider-Man with a bunch of junk swinging through New York,” I said. “Everyone can appreciate an attractive woman.”

Or so it seems. If not, then Cho wouldn’t be able to sell his art over and over again in different formats. But as it is, there’s definitely a market. And I’m the first in line each time. As a matter of fact, I’ve already placed my order for Cover Girl. It just remains to be seen if this new book will keep me from buying back issues of Liberty Meadows…issues I’m collecting for the sole purpose of having those beautiful covers.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

What’s Next?

I must be tired. For a collector with money just begging to be spent, that’s not a good thing to be. For the last 45 minutes, I’ve been scouring the Internet for things to buy, but I have no focus. I have no idea what to get into next. If I’m not careful, that could spell doom for me and my pocketbook.

Football cards? Eh, it’s the off season. Next!

First edition hardcovers? I already have the next few novels I plan to read, so why bother? Next!

Comics? I’m in a bit of a holding pattern with comics right now, just biding my time for that Princess of Mars series to hit. I’m unable to get motivated to read anything I already own, and making a purchase doesn’t seem to be the right thing either. Next!

Comic art? Yeah, that’s something I can get into. It’s been on the back burner for awhile now, but with Mark Wheatley continually catching my eye with his ERB artwork, it might be time to change that. Plus, being a part of the Postcards creative team I get to see sample art as it comes in, so I’m fighting the urge to interrupt the artists and ask to buy a page or two. (What’s the etiquette on that anyway? Is it impolite to offer to purchase art for a book you’re editing before the book is actually finished? For now I’m resisting, but I might breakdown at any minute.)

But let’s face it, I’ve been down this road, oh, I don’t know, three or four times already this year, and with no more room on the walls and no money or desire to “waste” on professional frames with UV coating, well, it’s hard to get jazzed about something that’ll be sitting in the closet. (That’s an interesting concept coming from someone with boxes of cards, comics, and books hidden away in the dark corner of my closet.)

I don’t know, maybe I’m just burned out on collecting all together. I mean, if I can’t get interested in anything, maybe it’s time for me to hang it up for awhile. Or perhaps collect something new. There is one thing that I’ve always wanted to collect but never managed to find a way to do it successfully: money!

Then again maybe I should take a nap before I start talking all crazy…

Monday, June 12, 2006

Dejah Thoris Puts On a Bikini

I’m not sure who I’m more upset with, Mark Wheatley for changing his Princess of Mars artwork so Dejah Thoris is scantily clad instead of naked, or IDW for asking that he make the modifications in the first place. Or maybe I should be upset with a culture that would make such a request expectable.
I’ve never been a big fan of artists altering to their work for the sake of sales. Sure, I understand the reasoning behind it, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. I voiced my concerns over Frank Cho’s modifications to Marvel’s Shanna, the She-Devil mini series, but this is even more near and dear to my heart. It’s Edgar Rice Burroughs we’re talking about here. His Barsoom series got me reading as a boy and made me want to write. This is sacred ground for me.

On top of that, I plan to plunk down good money for these 1-in-30 variant covers. But once I get my hands on these pretties, will I appreciate them for what they are, or will I only see the dastardly addition of Dejah’s bikini top? It's hard to find fault at all—especially with the painting in the background being the original Princess of Mars book cover...nice touch Mark—but damn it, try as I might, I can't get my eyes to stop focusing on that new bikini.

Don’t get me wrong, my grumbling has nothing to do with my desire to see breasts (well, maybe just a smidge, but not because of the breasts themselves but because everyone knows Martian women don’t wear clothes). What I’m complaining about is seeing and appreciating the original artwork but knowing that the art I finally get to bring home will be inferior. Let’s face it, no matter how minor the addition, these new covers just aren’t as good as the originals.

If these images were the regular edition of the covers, I doubt I’d raise any concerns at all. But that’s not the case. These variants will cost $30 or more, and I’m already questioning my need to own them.

The books in question, issues 4 and 5 of the mini, are still months away from being announced, let alone going on sale. That’s a long time to be debating this issue, but if my track record is any indication, debate this issue I will. It’ll be an interesting match up of wits and will power. Who will win, the collector or the art lover? Only time will tell, but to be honest, I think we’ve both already lost...

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Every Penny

When I went out with Stephane last weekend and talked geek nonstop for three hours, one of the things we discussed was how we store our comic collection. I cringed at the thought of his hodge-podge organization, and he laughed endlessly about my need to categorize everything, as if tracking each of my purchases was somehow overly obsessive. He seemed to accept my desire to alphabetize, and he certainly understood the notion that I need to have everything in pristine condition, but those extra steps I take seemed to confuse my friend and give him great amusement.

But Stephane isn’t the only collector who finds my methods to be a bit anal. Over at the Collector’s Society, svndst1030 wrote, “I used to be like that but I realized how much time I was wasting so I just went to being somewhat organized.” Although he was partially joking and still feels the need to be organized to some degree, I can’t help but think that not only am I not wasting time, I’m actually getting optimal enjoyment from every comic I buy, making them worth the price I pay, if not more.

Let’s take the latest issue of Catwoman as an example. Including shipping and the Mylite2 bag with acid free full back, the issue cost $2.30. In theory, just reading and enjoying the comic a single time is worth $2.99, the book’s cover price. But for me, I enjoyed it many more times, but not by reading the thing over and over (God no, how could I keep the thing mint?).

The first thing I did was stare at and enjoy that gorgeous Adam Hughes cover. Not his best effort, but it still took a considerable effort on my part to tear my eyes away and finally open the book to start reading. Of course, reading takes me a little longer than the average comic reader, too. Not only do I soak in each panel, I also turn each page so slowly and so gently you’d think it would turn to dust if I put too much pressure on it.

Next I took five minutes to enter the issue into my Comic Collector database. Here’s where I store all the information I can think of for that issue: creators, issue number, title, date purchased, purchase price, storyline, characters…you name it. I spelled it all out in this database, loving every mundane moment.

Then I scrutinized the covers, the spine, the pages, looking for every miniscule defect I could find. I spent maybe three minutes on this task, and I enjoyed every second (well, except for that one deflating moment when I noticed the color-breaking spine crease near the top staple on the front cover. D’oh!). After putting my grade report into the database, I searched my Catwoman collection to see if there were others with similar defects on the front cover (lucky for me, this was the first and only). Had I not been taking the time to add the details for each and every issue into my inventory, how could I determine if I was having a consistent problem with spine stress? Just one more advantage of “wasting time.”

After that, it was time to put the book into its bag and seal it up for all eternity. There’s something therapeutic about putting a comic in its clear plastic bag. It’s like returning a baby bird to its nest. It just feels right. It’s natural. Peaceful. And after it was all sealed up, I looked at that cool Hughes cover again, enjoying it even more behind that shiny wall of protection. How does a thin piece of plastic make comic art look better? I don’t know. But ask any fan who uses Mylar bags and he’ll say the same.

After all that, I still wasn’t done. There was even more value to be had for my $2.30 because I now had to flip through my other comics, peaking at each issue for the briefest of moments as I looked for this issue’s final resting place. Once I found its spot, my heart warmed yet again. “Goodbye friend,” I said to myself, already looking forward to the day I’d revisit her. “I’ll be in touch.”

And when I closed the box to shield my precious from the light of day, I said a prayer and thanked the universe for such a lovely thing as a good comic book.

Yes, I spent close to 45 minutes on something most others are lucky to spend 15 minutes on, speeding through on their way to the next story. And for me, it wasn’t a waste of time. Oh no, it was anything but.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

We Interrupt This Broadcast...

We interrupt this broadcast to bring you a special announcement. Postcards, an incredible new anthology edited by Jason Rodriguez and yours truly, has finally been announced. And believe me, the news only gets better after this...wait until you see the names attached to this project.

I'm not only excited about this project because my name will be printed inside, but this really is a fantastic book. I know the theme. I've read the stories. This is a book comic readers can enjoy, but so can their non-comic reading parents and spouses. So if you're looking for a book to help get your loved ones interested in the format, Postcards is only a year away.

You can bet I'll have many of these bad boys in my collection come next summer.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

DHL — Delivering Happiness Late

Getting your books online has its rewards. By ordering through DCBS each month, I save a great deal of money (okay, it doesn’t actually save money because I put that savings right back into my comics fund, but you get the idea), I save a great deal of time because I don’t have to drive through rush hour to Mile High every Wednesday, and surprisingly, I get my comics in great condition. What’s not to love?

DHL, that’s what.

For the third time in a row my DHL shipment from DCBS has been delayed because of incompetence. There’s no other word for it. And there's also no excuses. Although I’ve already signed the waiver that allows them to leave the box at my front door, they once again left a note that states they’ll redeliver tomorrow. And believe me, this is beginning to piss me off.

I have a fairly stressful job, and when I get that happy email notice that tells me a box of comics will greet me when I get home, I get pretty keyed up about it. Like today. I was happy as a clam all day, laughing and singing as more and more crap piled up. Who cares about deadlines and irate customers when you have six pounds of comics waiting for you when you get home? Instead, I imagined myself enjoying a superhero yarn or two, or getting historic with Loveless. With as many books as I had coming, the world was to be my oyster.

But instead of a beautiful box of happiness, I found that fucking notice. It was stuck to my front door and I about tore it to shreds in a fit of rage (some super villain I’d be), especially when I saw the glue residue the sticker left on the door. Why can’t they just get it right? Is it too much to ask that I get my comics on time? And do they have to sick it to the door when the damn things are designed to hang from the door knob?

So I called DHL. I worked through some deep breathing relaxation while I waited for Marty, a manager at the local station. When he got on the line, I politely explained my problems, detailing how many times this has happened and how each time I was told that the “new driver” was to blame. After a little discussion of how upset I was, he called the driver to re-attempt delivery, which, unfortunately, is the same thing I was told the last three times.

I’m not holding my breath.

Now, before anyone leaves a comment to point out the fact that I already have stacks of comics and trades to read, let me say that I’ve thought of that already. And you know, for me, that reasoning just doesn’t cut it. I don’t have an explanation for why I feel this way (well, not a logical one anyway), but for whatever reason, I want something new. Those older books, well, if I haven’t got to them already, there’s something about them that’s making them unworthy of my attention. They’re yesterday’s news, so why bother?

Monday, June 05, 2006

Help Me Obi-Wan

“Oh my God!” I said with a combination of confusion and disgust while cleaning up after dinner.

“What?” Stephanie asked, turning quickly to make sure I hadn’t hurt myself.

“I can’t believe it,” I said, more to the wall than to anyone else. “I’m reading a book about Yoda.”

“Oh Honey,” she said, her eyes filled with true sorrow as if I had just told her my brother died. She reached up and gave me a sympathetic pat on the shoulder. “Let’s not tell anyone that, okay?”

“Don’t you think it’s weird that a grown man would read a book called Yoda: Dark Rendezvous?” I asked.

“Uh, yeah,” she said, her sympathy evaporating. “How can you read something like that after reading In Cold Blood and To Kill a Mockingbird?”

“I don’t know,” I said, not seeing any real reason to be reading such drivel aside from the fact that I’ve collected and read Star Wars novels for years. “I think I need to write about it on the blog.”

“Oh no, c’mon. Don’t do that,” she said, the pleading in her eyes more pronounced than ever. “We have friends who read your blog. We don’t need to tell anyone about this, do we?”

“I just think it’s something I need to explore.”

“Well, if you do, be sure to mention my reservations on the subject,” she said, leaving me to finish the dishes alone as she headed for the living room where the 2006 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, March, sat on the couch waiting for her return.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Talkin’ Geek with Stephane

I saw X-Men 3 yesterday with a fellow comic reader, Stephane. We both thought the movie was a decent bit of fun with some great moments, but it wasn’t much more than we were expecting.

Afterward, we headed next door to CB&Potts, a local watering hole crowded with 100s of happy hour enthusiasts trying to drink away the stresses of the work week. And there we were, two 30+ year old married men eating plate after plate of nachos and enjoying cold drinks, surrounded by TVs, drunks, and plenty of attractive young waitresses. But we were oblivious to it all. Why? Because we were there to talk geek; everything else was muted background noise.

Our conversation went from the Juggernaut’s costume in the X-Men movie to the early adventures of Superman to the new lesbian Batwoman. Our discussions never strayed far from comics or collecting, and when it did, we pulled it right back in.

It was fantastic.

But while the conversations were fun, I learned something dark about my friend Stephane.

“I have a stack of comics just sitting in the corner,” he said, using his hand to measure roughly how high the stack has grown. I put down my nacho and listened intently, trying to control the inevitable flinching that would show my uneasiness.

“Oh yeah?” I said, trying to laugh it off like it was no big deal.

“Yeah, some of them are just flapping out in the open,” he said, taking the menu and folding it over loosely to show me how some of his comics were flopping on top of the others.

I squeezed my eyes tightly, trying to un-see the image of his disorganized comic collection that flashed before my eyes. “Can I get another drink, please?” I asked the waitress with the weird silver ball protruding from her cheek. I turned to my friend and smiled, my heart racing as I realized I was sitting across from a criminal.

“I couldn’t handle that,” I said. “All of my comics are in the same size of bag with the same exact acid free boards. They’re all in alphabetical order and perfectly organized. I can find any specific comic in my collection in less than 10 seconds, and it’ll be in perfect condition.”

He fell onto his side, laughing. He said he’s been reading my blog, so my last comment just added to his vision of just how insane I really was. Funny thing was, I was thinking the same thing about him. What kind of loony wouldn’t have his comics organized in a box?

Apparently, the same kind of guy who would have mismatched books on his shelf. After discussing his appalling stack of comics, he told me he had recently rearranged his bookshelf, and that he was trying something new. Instead of the expected and widely approved method of going alphabetical, he had organized his books in such a way that “might be interesting” to those who perused his selection.

“For example, I have an art book right next to a graphic novel,” he said, shrugging like it was no big deal. My ears began to burn. “See, I figure that maybe if someone is interested in art, they might be interested in reading a comic.”

“I couldn’t handle that,” I said. Hell, I could barely even listen to such a crazy idea. “I have all of my books in alphabetical order. I have my nonfiction in one area, my fiction in another. Heck, I even like to segregate my small hardcovers to the top shelf because they look so cool lined up next to each other. Much better than having a shelf with a mismatch of tall and short books.”

He laughed.

I cringed.

Then I quickly changed the subject in an effort to save our friendship. “So, you thought Famke Janson did a good job as Phoenix, huh?”

Friday, June 02, 2006


I’m so back it’s disgusting. After spending an hour last night hunting down information on the new John Carter series coming from IDW in August, I went back through Previews and found all sorts of stuff I want. It’s as if The Princess of Mars opened the flood gates.

“Why are you so excited?” Stephanie asked when she got home from work.

The Princess of Mars, baby,” I said, hopping out of my seat and pointing wildly at the soliciation and the covers I had found online. “The Princess of Mars.”

“Oh boy,” she said, mentally rolling her eyes at me.

Later, on our way to dinner I said, “I can’t be out long. I need to do some more research. There’s so much I want to buy now.”

“What’s so important now? Can’t it wait?”

“No way. I’ve been out of the game so long, I feel this need to buy everything. And I need to do it now!” I said.

“How long have you ‘been out of the game’?” she asked, mocking me.

“Two days,” I said, amazed at how long and how short that time frame was.

“Oh boy,” she said again, the conversation over as I started thinking of all the stuff I planned to order this month.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Guess Who’s Back

I’m at the comic shop, pretty much just going through the motions. I don’t want to be there, and the comics I’m buying don’t thrill me in the slightest. I still hunt for the best copy of each, but even that doesn’t get my heart racing like it usually does. Sure, Previews always brings me a great deal of excitement, but for reasons I’ve already explained, I’m not even enthused about that. Behind the counter, Aaron tries to talk me into a number of series, but I decline to even talk about the books he’s telling me about. I’m just not interested.

At home I start flipping through Previews. Eh. There are some cool looking books with covers that make me want to buy buy buy, but that feeling is so muted I turn the page without much more than a cursory glance. Apparently you see one great cover, you’ve seen ‘em all. And if Previews doesn’t get me excited, nothing will. So I’m about to put down the catalog before I even get through the comics section when my eye catches two words: Mars and Burroughs.

Oh shit! What’s this? My eyes bulge out of my head like someone hit me on the back of the skull with a mallet. There on the page, staring me in the face as if it were a gift from the comic gods, is the solicitation for Edgar Rice Burroughs’ A Princess of Mars #1 from IDW. I have to re-read the solicitation three times because I’m so excited that I can’t focus on the words.

And not only are my favorite characters coming back to comics, but my favorite artist, Frank Cho, is providing a variant cover. This makes for one very happy and excited collector.

Edgar Rice Burroughs. Mars. Cho. Variant covers. If that can’t bring a collector out of a slump, nothing can.

Just found out the Cho variants for the first three issues will be limited to 1-in-30, so they won't come cheap. But that's a good thing. I'm salivating already.

Mark Wheatley will also be supplying some variant covers. How long 'til I have 'em all?