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Showing posts from 2009

A Totally Cliché End of Year Post

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Here we are on the verge of a new decade, and we’re all burdened with the obligatory self-reflection that comes with the glorified holiday that is New Year’s. For many, the only change that will last is the hangover, and even that will hopefully be short lived. I’ll put aside my other posts for another day, and acknowledge the elephant in the room. Enter the obligatory “Top ______ of the Year” list! Since I’m not a huge fan of overrated milestones, or randomly ranking things, this post may come off more snarky than usual. I promise to be back to my chipper self in about 5 days. And my apologies for the lack of images, I'm in Australia, it's 90 degrees, I'm melting.(Images Updated, 1/1/10) Enjoy!

Top 9 Books of 2009 I Would Pay You to Read


9.Detective Comics
Publisher: DC
Writer: Greg Rucka
Artist: J. H. Williams III

I can’t plug this book enough (previous Detective review). Batwoman’s days in Detective are numbered, as I’ve already seen promo shots of the various ways Batma…

A Genuine Nerd - Part II

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Here is Pat holding down the register. Challengers doesn't glow, that's just a light leak in my camera.

In showcasing comic book fans, and continuing with my favorite comic book store employees, I bring you the proprietor of Challengers Comics + Conversation, Pat Brower. Anyone who knows Pat will tell you, they are the luckier party.

Having opened Challengers with W. Dal Bush just a year and a half ago, Pat and company have already claimed a spot among the wide-ranging Chicago comic book scene (Chicagoans have an insane amount of stores to choose from). It’s a store that shares many qualities with Pat’s personality: instantly welcoming, eclectic, and often host to some killer parties. If you are in the Chicago area and have yet to visit Challengers, make the trip sooner rather than later – I guarantee it will become part of your comic book buying routine. But back to Pat! Even if you know him, you probably won’t ever have his taste in comics pegged. He could probably find a …

What's Old Is New Again....And Nothing Is Ever New

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“I hope this is the first comic you’ve read in a while. I hope you found it on a shelf in a real bookstore somewhere, and took a chance. I hope a lot of people are picking up comic books for the first time.

You see, a lot of people think comic books are just for kids, like Saturday morning cartoons. And many of them are, though they’re usually better drawn and written. That’s great, but it’s hardly the whole story.

Maybe you’ve seen a story in your local newspaper or a spot on TV that told you about the new kinds of comics that are coming up, all kinds, many of which have the kind of intense character involvement and sophistication of plot that you’d expect from a novel. Maybe you’ve heard of Marvel’s Moonshadow or DC’s Watchmen. Comics are growing up, expanding the borders to include the kind of stories that people of any age might enjoy.

I hope you’ve enjoyed Wolverine. Chris and I had a lot of fun working on it. Just remember, if this is your first comic book in a while, that comi…

Comics + Music = Gotham's Sexy Jam

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Partly inspired by Bryan Lee O’Malley’s recommended playlists for Scott Pilgrim, and partly showcasing a habit that many comic book readers share, I’d like to offer some comic book mix CD’s. This is a…risky venture. Musical tastes vary so widely, what I may find suitable listening for a book may in fact be offensive to other reader’s ears. I’m willing to take that risk, in the name of sharing passions, which is my reason for writing this blog in the first place!


If the title didn't already give it away, the first book to get the suggested listening is...Detective Comics!

I first got the idea to make this playlist when reading Detective on an airplane. Listening to my ipod on random, a song came on that was so insanely fitting, I made a mental note to share it with the eight of you who occasional read this blog. This playlist is specifically inspired by issues 854-857, the Elegy storyline featuring Batwoman fighting against the Wonderland inspired villain-ess Alice. Unlike a film s…

Christmas + Comics + Scott Pilgrim

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The fake Christmas tree is up, the John Coltrane is playing, the Nintendo DS is charged, these are a few of my favorite nerdy things. Santa went to Area 52 in Hobart and got me volumes 4 and 5 of Scott Pilgrim. Below are a few of my favorite moments from Scott Pilgrim, some of them feature video game references (there are many). They even quote Monkey Island in this book, a point and click adventure game released by Lucas Arts* in the early 90’s. Obscure? Yes. Satisfying to recognize? Indeed! In addition to gaming references, there are equal amounts of music and film references, from Scott’s various Smashing Pumpkin t-shirts to a blurred Gross Pointe Blank poster in the background. Bryan Lee O’Malley has even included a “recommended listening” playlist in the back of the last few volumes. But the pop culture references aren’t the only things that make this book so loveable. In between the arcade style ninja fights, there are some truly heartbreaking moments that these characters endu…

A Genuine Nerd - Part I

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Lately I keep harping on about missing comic book stores in the states. It just goes to show how much actually visiting comic book stores on a regular basis effects my reading experience. Sure I'm getting plenty of reading in - I'm up to volume 4 of Scott Pilgrim - but I miss those fresh new books, talking to folks about them, seeing what sells out, and the satisfaction of knowing it will happen again the next Wednesday. Sitting in my apartment here in Tassie, unemployed and reading comics, makes for a very isolated existence.


In addition to the usual comic book banter, my last visits also involved a bit of photography. I took some portraits of comic book store employees (a few of them old co-workers) and asked them to give a recommendation to an imaginary first time comic book reader. It's a hard thing to do, even with a real live person in front of you to find out their interests...but I let these guys be as detailed as possible, even saying they could give recommendatio…

Nerd Central

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Folks, I found a comic book store in Tasmania. It’s called Nerd Central, and what an eye opener this visit was. Remember when I said comics were ridiculously expensive in Australia because of shipping costs? I thought readers in Melbourne had it bad! Here are a few examples to give you an idea of what the Tasmanian reader faces:

1 Pack of 100 Current Size Bags = $9.50
1 Dark Horse One-Shot Comic = $7.20 (Cover price $3.50 US)
1 King Bender Action Figure = $24.99 (That’s actually a really good price…)

Even though comics are cheaper on the mainland of Australia, so is toilet paper. And video games ($65 for a USED copy of Mariokart DS? Thanks, but no thanks, EB Games). For that reason, I don’t think this store is overpricing their books. As for the toys being more affordable, I suspect they get them through a different distributor than the comics, which sadly cannot be ordered through anyone but the stateside monopoly of Diamond Distributions.


It’s hard writing about this store without so…

Updates from the comic book desert....

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My hefty stack of recent purchases from the US is quickly running low...and I've only been in Tasmania for two weeks. I think there is a direct correlation between how much I'm reading and being unemployed. Running out of comics means I'm also getting back into actual books (you know, comics without pictures?), specifically my Hugo / Nebula Award challenge. These are the anual awards given to works of science fiction each year. Some of my favorite authors have won this award including Frank Herbert and Joss Whedon (they have a Nebula award for screenplays, too). I made a challenge for myself to read every single book that has won the Hugo or the Nebula Awards. I decided to start with the 18 novels that have the prestigious honor of having won both titles. Here's what I've read thus far:

Dune by Frank Herbert
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card
The Left Hand of Darkness Ursula K. LeGuin
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K…

STAY PUFT.

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Isn't he glorious? More pictures (of people and other objects) to come soon....

New Favorite Book Alert

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Before my departure from the states, I made one last visit to the comic book shop, bought my books on hold, and picked up a few extra comics to hold me over while I’m in Australia. I took a chance on a series that has flown under my radar for months. It’s not one that I’ve heard many people talking about, positive or negative. But boy am I glad this jumped out at me from the shelf, after months of walking by and thinking “meh, can’t be that good.” WRONG. Oh so wrong. I’m talking about Detective Comics. Yes, the same one that has been coming out for 60+ years.

If you are reading any DC title right now, you’re well aware, the Caped Crusader = dead and gone. And how did the smartest man alive meet his end? A lightening bolt? Helicopter crash? Death by sloppy writing? If you read Final Crisis and got a clear picture of how he died, please enlighten me. What I did get was Superman holding the crispy remains of Batman at the end of Final Crisis 6, and the Flash and Green Lantern rememberin…

Comic Book Adventures...in foreign lands.

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A few of you who read this may already know, but I am going to be leaving for Australia here in about 6 days (hence the awesome Australian noir illustration by Sean Phillips.) I have lived their before, and usually my journeys mean long periods of time without reading comics. I *love* my comics, but it's just so darn hard to buy them abroad when I know my comic shop stateside will be holding them for me, with my club member discount waiting, too. Because of the exchange rate (the US dollar is still barely more than the Australian) and the fuel tax on top of the cost of the comics for having them shipped overseas, comic books are a high priced import for the Aussies. Gotta respect the collectors down under. However, I've been planning. I have a  stack of trade paperbacks for my stay abroad. It's embarrassing how many series I haven't read in my years as a comic book reader. We all have those big gaping holes in our collections. Here is what I've got on the menu:


The …

Comic Book *eye* Candy Part I

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Aww yeah, this ones for the ladies (and boys that have man crushes on their favorite comic book characters). This is a little segment I like to call "Comic Book *eye* Candy, or Comic Book Studmeisters". I think it pretty much speaks for itself. Comic book characters that rock my world. Part sex appeal, respect, and of course, features chiseled in ink, these are the men that keep women (and men) wanting more. They keep you reading even if their series becomes less than impressive. How many of you read those Emma Frost minis for the stellar writing? I didn't think so. And you know, I'll throw in the occasional female version of this segment for the male readers, not least of which because *I* have a few girl crushes (helloooo any female characters Gene Ha! gets his hands on). This of course is in no particular order.

Jesse CusterSeries: Preacher
Publisher: DC / Vertigo
If you like: Johnny Depp, James Dean, Buckaroo Banzai, other brooding pretty boys


I don't know a fa…

Random Panel: Part I

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And now for a dose of out of context amusement:




Intrigued? Check out issue #1 of Marvel's new mini series, Strange Tales. Enjoy!

Awesome Two Page Spreads - Part II

This Wednesday is shaping up to be quite an impressive day for comics! In addition to Superman: Secret Origin making its debut (see previous post), we have a book making its explosive conclusion: Wolverine: Old Man Logan. Not everyone is a regular comic book shop visitor, so I'll give you a little recap. Set 50 years into the future, the bad guys have won, and all superheroes in the Marvel Universe have fallen. Enter a broken down farmer and family man who would hardly be recognized as the once killing machine Wolverine. The story hints at something having gone horribly wrong in Logan's past, something that has made him vow to never pop his adamantium claws again. Many of the villains in this story are descendants of past powerhouses, such as the "Hulk gang", inbred relatives of the Hulk who hound Logan's family for rent on their small farm. Though some of the issues are a quick read, and you may easily guess where this story leads (a once killer turned pacifist?…

Hot Hot Books - September 23rd, 2009

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As summer comes to an end, we enter prime comic book reading season. Just a few reasons why you should get excited for the turning of leaves and turning of pages:
It's getting colder, meaning you are less likely to ruin your comics with sweaty palms.It's not too cold, so you won't be putting off your weekly visits to the comic book store.Did I mention there are a ton of awesome books coming out in the next few months?
Our favorite talented artists and writers are surely pale creatures, as they have been working all summer on exciting projects coming this fall. Criminal (2006) and Powers (2000) will make their triumphant returns, plus we still have the ongoing Blackest Night to supply us with our epic universe-altering fix. But as far as new series, there is one in particular that I have had my eye on since it was solicited (offered for order to vendors for those of you outside of the comics retail world), and that book is Superman: Secret Origin (see image below, cover for i…

What pin up girls and comics have in common....

Two page spreads in comic books smack you across the face, force you to take everything in at once, and if they're really fantastic, can bring forth a Keanu Reeves impersonation with an involuntary "whoa". I love these all consuming visuals, especially cause they are rare. (You'll see more two page ads than artwork.) This secret weapon, part of the writer / artist arsenal, is only used during the most deserving moments of wonderment. At least the most successful ones achieve this, the ones that feel necessary when you turn the page, knowing that it could not have been shown any other way.

So here is the first of many to come in a regular focus on two page spreads. I have quite  a few from memory's past, but the first ones to be shown will be from recent memory (the last two years.) Here Be Spoilers!!!


Giant Size Astonishing X-Men #1
Writer: Joss Whedon
Artist: (that dreamboat) John Cassaday


Giant Size Astonishing X-Men 1 from Comic Book Candy on Vimeo.

When I starte…

A love letter to Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips

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Sometimes its easy to see patterns in what you like. Garth Ennis is writing a new book? I'll check it out. Steve Dillion is drawing it too? Well, that makes it "the team that brought you Preacher". But this post isn't about Ennis and Dillion (expect that post in the future). No, this is about the noir loving, femme fatale fearing duo: Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. As each issue of Criminal reminds us, the secret ingredient is crime. And these two definitely share a passion for the genre that shines through in each of their collaborations.

Here's a look at what they've done so far, with a peak at the wonderful things to come:


Batman: Gotham Noir
Publisher: DC (2001)
If you like: What if? comics, alternate universe reads, Jim Gordon centric stories.

This Elseworlds one-shot shows us Gotham as imagined in the late 1940's. It isn't a stretch to see the caped crusader in this time period, especially considering that Batman was created in 1939. The most compe…

The Pull List Part 1

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Whether you have a subscription pull list at your local store, keep a mental note of the books you are reading, or just buy randomly every Wednesday depending on what strikes your fancy, you have a list of comic books you don't want to miss. The books that you frantically worry about selling out before you get a chance to make a stop at the store. These are the keepers. Here's what I currently enthusiastically read:

Blackest Night
The Boys
Criminal
Fables
Green Lantern
Green Lantern Corps
House of Mystery
Incognito
Powers
Scalped
Walking Dead
Wednesday Comics
Wolverine (at least until Old Man Logan ends)
X-Factor

Now, a few of these series are obviously on hiatus (Criminal and Powers, oddly both are my Noir fixes) but I will patiently await their returns. Both of these series are rumored to be relaunching as early as this fall.  And The Boys I still have to read the last trade to catch up, but I can't wait for the chance to buy this series book to book, as it is fantasti…

What comic books and candy have in common (more than you'd think)

Comic books have got a lot of competition these days. Many things compete for my (little) expendable income: going to the movies, going to the arcade, photography supplies, yummy burgers. None of these things are necessities in life. Entertainment is a luxury, something I must constantly remind myself in preparation for the zombie apocalypse. I currently work two (very personally rewarding) part time jobs, and still don't work full time. Yet I spend hundreds of dollars a year buying comic books, bags and boards, short boxes, long boxes, trade paperbacks, graphic novels, toys, and other clever tie-ins, such as Batarang shaped belt buckles. If any of you fat cat CEO's of various comic book companies are reading this, don't get too excited; I'm not your blindly loyal customer, no sir. This is a passion of the highest of priorities; but it is not a necessity. And I intend to keep it that way.
I'm relatively new to the comic book fan base. I've been reading comics on…