Friday, July 23, 2010

SDCC 2010: Announcements Worth Noting

What makes it bearable for fans like myself who miss the International Comic Con year after year? Why the squeal-inducing announcements made by publishers of course! Press releases throughout the year by Marvel, DC, and increasingly, movie studios, are just business as usual; San Diego is where things get serious. Or seriously awesome. Often both! These are some of the noteworthy announcements thus far, with more to come:

Batwoman is finally coming! I didn't want to get my hopes up until I saw some artwork, and now I can officially start getting excited. Technically this isn't a San Diego announcement as it was posted on DC's blog The Source a few days ago, but as they note, the timing is close enough. 

The Walking Dead television series for AMC has a trailer! Though the footage has yet to hit the internet, (see below) the mere thought of seeing this in the near future is enough to send my heart aflutter. Even more exciting, Bear McCreary is doing the soundtrack! For those of you who don't follow composers, McCreary is responsible for one of the best series soundtracks ever for Battlestar Gallactica.
UPDATE 7/24/10: Until a better version hits the internets, here's what we got...and trust me, the sheer awesomeness of the trailer transcends the shaky cam video. (You can view the trailer after the jump!)

World War Z is being made into a film! Written by Max Brooks, WWZ is a detailed account of the fictional zombie apocalypse as told by its survivors. This announcement is kind of bittersweet for two reasons. Firstly, Brad Pitt is set to "star" in the adaptation. Not sure how a book told from several dozen perspectives will have a star, and Brad Pitt's attempts to turn into a character actor the past few years have proved less than impressive. Secondly, Quantum of Solace director Marc Foster is set to helm the film. Considering what a snooze-fest that 007 film turned out to be, I'm hoping this turns out better than it sounds.

Marvel's Strange Tales anthology is getting a second volume! On top of the fantastic news that we get to read more of these hysterical takes on Marvel characters from top indie creators, the three issue mini will be ad-free!

In an ongoing effort to showcase nerdom positively, here are some photos by con-goers, of con-goers at SDCC. See lots more after the jump!

If Josh Brolin took over the role of Tony Stark....

Friday, July 16, 2010

Spotlight on Stores: Greater Dayton Area

After many years leading a nomadic lifestyle, one thing I have come to appreciate is the unusually large selection of comic book stores here in the Dayton area. From the long running Funny Books in Vandalia, to Maverick's, the only comic book store that was open on New Year's Day of 2003, it has always been easy finding what one wants. As a teenager, most of my purchases were made at the infamous Bookery Fantasy, as well as Dragon's Lair, a store that unfortunately closed down after 30+ years because as rumor has it, the owners divorced. Since leaving Ohio for school (and to generally maintain my sanity), a lot of new blood has come into the area. Friendly staff and a "new school" feel to these young establishments make them must-see stops for locals and out of towners alike.

1. TAF Toys Action Figures

Closed Monday
Tues: 12 - 5
Wed: 12 - 7
Thurs:12 - 7
Fri: 12 - 7
Sat: 12 - 5
Closed Sunday

37 S. St. Clair
Dayton, Ohio US

TAF first established an online presence before opening its doors, as the owners began with an ebay store. Though much of their sales are still online, nothing compares to seeing firsthand this mecca of toys and graphic novels. When it comes to action figures, TAF has the most knowledgeable owner of any store I've been to, making it perfect for collectors of rare toys. Looking for the final piece of your Fin Fang Foom? They probably have it. Want the San Diego Comic Con exclusive Joker figure? I know they have it. How about the Back to the Future II mini mates? Yup.

TAF manages to pack a punch with their limited space, so don't expect your browsing to be quick.
Toys! Trades! More than meets the eye!
Seen at the above right is the store's owner, along with my recent purchase of the Gotham Central HC.
 If you are in TAF and can't find the toy you're looking for, then it doesn't exist.

As much as I love toys, I'm far from a collector. But TAF has plenty to offer your average comic book reader as well. A whoooole lot of graphic novels, and most, if not all, are 50% off.  I would love to see this store establish itself and stick around the area, but they have recently started to cut back on orders. This may simply be a case of the owners deciding to focus exclusively on toys - but it is a bit worrying. They have stopped ordering comics except for pre-order, so don't expect to find individual issues on their shelves. It's still well worth a visit for their unique toy offerings, or graphic novel bargain hunting, and you'll keep coming back for the friendly staff. (Keep in mind, if you really love this store, they will still sign up new club members! Just make sure you put down everything you want on your pull list cause you won't be able to grab it off of the shelf here).

2. Bell, Book, & Comic

Closed Mondays
Tue: 11 - 8
Wed:11 - 8
Thu: 11 - 8
Fri: 11 - 11
Sat: 11 - 8
Sun: 12 - 6

458 Patterson Rd.
Dayton, OH 45419

If Cheers were a comic book store filled with enthusiastic fans and gamers instead of barflies, it might look something like Bell, Book, & Comic. My first visit to this store was on FCBD of this year, and I was  blown away by the welcoming atmosphere of this store. Customers are obviously comfortable when they lazily lounge on couches in the gaming room, and are on a first name basis with the store pets. It's the kind of store you want to come back to, just to hang out. In an industry with customers that continue to age, an inviting vibe is rare and also necessary to the survival of brick and mortar stores. Comics are no longer reaching millions of children through news stands and 7/11's, or attracting hoards of speculators out to make money on "collector's item". The industry needs stores like Bell Book to keep readers coming back, for comics, for trades, for toys, and above all, the interactive experience that is unique to buying comics face to face. I think many long-established stores have a hard time maintaining this kind of environment, as owners can become bitter about the industry or lose interest in comics. Nothing says "time to retire" like complaining to customers about the industry you work in. It's called "new management" and it can save your business from dying with you. But I digress. This is definitely NOT that kind of store. They've been around for seven years yet the staff has the enthusiasm of young go-getters, with the experience to bring you what you need.
During FCBD Bell, Book, & Comics was pretty bumpin', even at 6pm
You can just tell this guy is ready to help you pick the perfect die.
Dr. Crusher AND Diana Troi? Yes Please!
If you don't come here for the company, then you'll be more than happy with the merchandise. Tons of well organized back issues, an exceptional selection of new titles and trades, and pretty much anything you need to meet your gaming requirements. In fact, they have so many awesome products I have a hard time leaving this store empty handed. My most recent find? Parker: The Hunter HC for $10. This store has a lot of good things going for it; here's hoping they can keep it up.

3. Superfly Comics

Mon: 12 - 7
Tues: 12 - 7
Wed: 11 - 8
Thurs: 11 - 8
Fri: 11 - 8
Sat: 11 - 8
Sun: 12 - 7

132 Dayton Street
Yellow Springs, Oh
(937) 767-1445

Superfly may be the newest store to the area, but don't let that fact make you hesitant to visit. If there was any learning curve for this new business, they exceeded it shortly after opening three years ago. As the name implies, Superfly is very laid back, which isn't surprising considering they are located in the hippie centric town of Yellow Springs, about half an hour away from Dayton. So what makes this store worth traveling off the beaten path? Because the people who own the store don't follow the beaten path, and that's a good thing for us, the hungry customers. For instance, notice that they are the only store open on Monday. This is fantastic for readers like myself who shop on days that aren't Wednesday. Don't get me wrong, I love the scent of fresh new comics like most fans, but because my books are pulled at an out of state store, I can browse any day I want and not have to worry about my favorite title selling out. And I have Monday's off. So this store? On my good list just for that.

On a personal note, the above gentleman was my boyfriend when I took this photo. Later that day we became engaged!
Joss Whedon + Usagi Yojimbo
Here is another store featuring their $1.00 comic section - smart.
Yes, they made a comic book feat. that captain from Generations who bravely relinquishes power to Captain Kirk. Okay....getting off topic. Superfly is great!

Winning over new customers with convenience is a smart move on Superfly's part, but it's not what makes you want to stay. It's well lit (owners: this DOES matter in setting the tone for you store), so you don't feel like you're in a casino / basement while you shop, and everything is very well organized. Also, did you see the Joss Whedon section? Bonus points, right there. The staff is friendly, but they'll let you browse in peace, and they host super awesome events like a midnight release for the final volume of Scott Pilgrim. Which is great for fans like myself who thought the book was coming out this week because it shipped this week. Instead of feeling like an idiot for showing up on the wrong day, I will benefit from the situation! Look for coverage of this event next week as I venture to my first midnight (comic book) release.

To be continued with Part II where we focus on stores established in an earlier era, the "old school" if you please.

Monday, July 12, 2010

A Fond Farewell to Harvey Pekar

I hate to update the blog with sad news, and I'm sure many readers will have already heard by now, but Harvey Pekar, author of American Splendor, has passed away at age 70. The cause of death has yet to be determined. Since Harvey's body of work revolved so heavily around his own experiences, there is something particularly tragic about his death. How will Harvey's story end? We'll never again see where life takes him, or have the pleasure of reading stories with his unique, yet relate able perspective. For many fans, reading American Splendor was as close as they'll get to reading about themselves. His experiences and feelings were shared by many, regardless of age, background, or comic book preference. We've all hated our jobs, felt frustrated by the mind-boggling actions of strangers, or just felt like our purpose in life wasn't clear. Harvey felt all of those things, and even though his incites may have been a simple matter of expressing what he felt, the honesty of his observations remains unique among comics, or any other art form for that matter. His influence has been significant, and I doubt that other fantastic autobiographical works like Fun Home or Blankets would have been created if it weren't for Harvey having the courage to put himself out there in the first place. People will continue to share their own stories in comics, but none will be Harvey's. And for that, even if it's just for a day, we can all feel a little bit lost.

For a few words from someone who knew Harvey personally, here is a link to Alison Blechdel's blog, author of Fun Home.