29 November 2006

Help Wanted: Comics Promoters?

Comics Should Be Good offered an essay yesterday by the extremely likeable comics creator Jimmie Robinson that, in his own typically rambling style, makes a good point but lays the "blame" at the wrong doorstop:

If you're reading this, that alone makes you exceptional, makes you care about the medium of comics. You might even visit your comic store each week to see what's new on the rack. You perhaps display a few trade paperback collections on your shelf at home. But let's not split hairs here, while I applaud your efforts there's no denying the fact; you are not helping comics.

...Creators, like myself, demand more from you than cover price. If you read my books, whether from Image, Marvel, or DC, then I expect you to share the love. Why keep it a secret? Why not tell others outside the "cottage"?

...Retailers listen to their customers, but most readers hardly talk to the storeowners, or clerks. Today's retailer has hundreds, if not thousands, of titles to sell, but without your help that stock will tilt one way, or another. Retailers can't read your mind, but they will try when they have no option. No help. What can you expect when so many are making a beeline to a book, to the register, and out the door? Stop, smell the roses. Show interest in books that you like, and let retailers know. Don't merely hope it will show up on the shelf, ask for it by name.
First off, his condescending opening almost kept me from reading any further, but I like Robinson so I stuck with him. Then, he started demanding and pointing fingers, and I got a bit of a chip on my shoulder.

Creators are in no position to demand anything from their prospective audiences. Outside of religion, the choice to proselytize is exactly that, a choice, and one can enjoy a particular piece of work, or an entire art form, without being expected to become a missionary on its behalf. In fact, the kind of zealots Robinson is calling for can be incredibly annoying and actually turn people off from that which they love so dearly. (Is ADD still around?)

There is someone creators should be more demanding of, however, and that's their publisher. It's the publisher's job to let retailers know about their books, to promote them to potential readers, and to ensure that their books are kept in print and as widely available as possible. Of course, this assumes the publisher has some ongoing financial incentive to do any of the above.

* ahem *

So, the problem with comics isn't that there aren't enough of us talking about Civil War or Bomb Queen or [insert underappreciated indie darling here] around the water cooler at work. The problem is that, even if we were, comics are still relatively inaccessible when compared to other forms of entertainment.

I'm not talking about the old "comics are juvenile" argument, either. While someone's individual taste in comics might be juvenile, there are hundreds if not thousands of comics that appeal to a variety of mature tastes and the vast majority are not marketed very well, if at all.

So, Jimmie, if you're looking for help, you're barking up the wrong tree.

But your publishers won't help...

...without your demanding they do it.

PS: Wikipedia offers a definition of viral marketing that I agree with and I think is particularly appropriate for this dicussion:

Viral marketing sometimes refers to Internet-based stealth marketing campaigns, including the use of blogs, seemingly amateur web sites, and other forms of astroturfing, designed to create word of mouth for a new product or service. Often the goal of viral marketing campaigns is to generate media coverage via "offbeat" stories worth many times more than the campaigning company's advertising budget.
Whether it was his intention or not, Robinson's essay is effectively a viral marketing campaign for both himself and his work, particularly Bomb Queen. Whether you agree with his opinion or not, give him credit for being a savvy self-marketer.

PPS: Per the cyncial * ahem * above, taken at his word, this is a potentially good sign: IMAGE'S NEW MARKETING GUY, MARK HAVEN BRITT

28 November 2006

The CBC Library is Open

CBC LibraryThe latest update to Comic Book Commentary is now available: the CBC Library, your new one-stop-shop for all of your comic book-related Amazon.com purchases.

The Library features an eclectic mix of books, DVDs and games I recommend, as well as select Amazon Listmania lists, in a wide range of categories: Batman, Fables, Artesia, Essential Reading, More Essential Reading, Essential Marvel, Absolute DC, Fantagraphics, No Spandex, Greg Rucka, Charlie Huston, Los. Bros. Hernandez, Pulp Superheroes, Superhero Cartoons and Cult/Noir Movies.

I'll have more set up over the next couple of weeks, but between what's there now and the fully functional search feature, you can help justify the obscene amount of unpaid time (and money!) I spend on comics by shopping in the CBC Library today.

My wife and kids thank you!

PS: Don't forget Blogwatch, your up-to-the-minute, one-stop-shop for anything and everything that's worth reading in the comics blogiverse. If it has a feed, it's in the Watchtower!

On The Shelves: 11/29/06

Reading is fundamental. Don't waste your time reading bad comics out of habit!

My weekly, semi-informed look at select comic books being released Wednesday, 11/29/06 follows. The full shipping is list available at ComicList.

[NOTE: Not all of these titles will actually arrive in all stores. If your LCBS offers a pre-ordering service, be sure to take advantage of it. If not, find another one; or try Khepri.com or MidtownComics.com]


Dark Horse Book Of Monsters HC

Outlaw Scorn 3030 AD #1 (Of 6), $3.95

It's been a while since I've picked up something from Arcana, but they still get automatic flip-through status on the basis of past successes like Ezra, 100 Girls, Jova's Harvest and El Arsenal.

Dead Sonja She Zombie With A Sword #1, $3.99
Dead Sonja She Zombie With A Sword Dead Sexy Ed #1, $9.99
Dead Sonja She Zombie With A Sword Zombie Bloodbath Ed #1, $3.99

Love the publisher's name, and the "Dead Sexy Ed" is a clever bit of marketing for the Platinum Maxim audience.

Talent #4 (Of 4), $3.99

Looking forward to seeing how tightly this wraps up, and whether or not the movie deal affects its execution any.

Conan & The Songs Of The Dead #5 (Of 5), $2.99
Dark Horse Book Of Monsters HC, $15.95
Star Wars Legacy #6, $2.99

The Book of the Dead was an excellent read, so I'll definitely have to check out Monsters. Legacy has been a most pleasant surprise, almost tempting me into checking out some of the other Star Wars-related titles. Still waiting for someone to do a Riddick comic, though.


Wow...not a single DC title of interest this week! One Year Later has been a wash for me, resulting in my dropping almost every ongoing series I was reading pre-Infinite Crisis while adding a few new titles to my pull list.

Action Philosophers Vol 1 Giant Sized Thing TPB (AA), $6.95

I believe this is a re-offering on the collected version of the first three issues. Get it if you missed it the first two times!

Hero Street #1, $2.50
Perfect Storm #1, $2.99

It's Wednesday, so this must be another new comics publisher! Seriously, though, when it comes to books of any type, I'm of the opinion that there's no such thing as too many publishers and applaud everyone who takes a shot at it, self-publishers and micro-publishers included. I don't believe that superheroes need to be left to the Big Two and the occasional effort from Image, either, as there are plenty of underexplored angles and untold stories that work perfectly well with the spandex set. That said, if you're going to jump into publishing, look before you leap and come correct. HeroStreet Press' web site is a perfect example of how to not make the best first impression, with limited information on their titles and an early indication of an inability to meet deadlines (ie: the newspaper).

Zombies Vs Robots #1 (Of 2), $3.99

One of those concepts so stupid it might actually be good. I'll be sure to check out the trade.

Emissary #6, $3.50
You're Not The DM Of Me T/S LG, $16.99

Noticed on the Image boards a week or two ago that Emissary was in danger of cancellation due to low sales. Haven't checked it out since the decent-but-not-compelling first issue, but I wonder how much the early change in writers affected it. [UPDATE: "...unfortunately sales dropped precipitously between issues 1 and 2 (by well over half). So, while the folks who are reading seem loyal, there just does not seem to be enough support for the book to keep it going past issue #6." --Jim Valentino]

Done To Death #5, $3.50

I liked the first issue but seem to have fallen behind during my hiatus as I'm missing #s 2 and 3. Hopefully Midtown has them stashed somewhere.

Captain America #24 CW, $2.99
Immortal Iron Fist #1, $2.99
Powers #21, $2.95

Brubaker and Fraction on Iron Fist is verrrrrry tempting... I think it might be time to finally cut Powers. My interest has waned during my hiatus and the last two issues have sunk to the bottom of my to-read pile.

Dummys Guide To Danger #3 (Of 4), $3.25

An entertaining, over-the-top gory read, it continues Viper's streak of quirky titles.

27 November 2006

VS System: My new favorite card!


The artwork on this card is amazing! By far the most beautiful card Upper Deck has published for VS. Head on over to Metagame to get all the particulars on Wally's freakish power. Don't leave Metagame without visiting their main VS page. It's jammed packed with preview cards.

Happy 2nd Anniversary

Once again I missed the blog's anniversary this year, though this time it's more a result of the long hiatus we've been on since the summer. Still caught the right month, though, so it's all good.

Two years of blogging about comics have seen some serious ups and downs here at CBC -- in output, traffic and personal gratification -- but while organizing my collection last night (now up to seven longboxes and three short boxes), I realized a few things:

1) Comics are great reading and come in a variety of genres and styles;
2) There are way too many covers that would make my mother blanch;
3) I have way too many comics.

The third point is the most important one at the moment as it will be at the root of -- drumroll, please -- CBC's 1st Annual Holiday Giveaway Bonanza.

Over the next two weeks, I'll be giving away two sets of comics -- one Big Two-related, one Indie sampler pack -- plus I'll be eBaying a bunch more as I continue to make the move to mostly trade-only. Stay tuned for details later this week.

Happy anniversary to us!

25 November 2006

AdWatch: Platinum Studios' "Babes"

"You may not be able to get into her pants...
but you can have her in yours.

Platinum Studios Mobile"

It's in Flash format, so I can't figure out how to save it and display it here, but I came across it on the main page over at The Pulse (of all places) and you can view it here: mobile_120x600_babes.swf

I'm guessing this predates Jim MacLauchlin's joining Platinum as EiC, but considering the fit he threw behind the scenes over being a suspect in last year's Mid-Ohio-Gate, you'd think he'd want to be a bit more careful about being associated with such blatantly sexist advertising.

You'd think...

CBC Quickees: Big Two Roundup

I'm so far behind on reviews these days that in order to jumpstart my critical faculties, I've grabbed a stack of comics from my most-recently read pile and, focusing on some of the floppies I'm still reading from the Big Two, am giving random ones the super-quickee treatment.

Criminal #1-2 (Icon/Marvel, $2.99), Captain America #3 (Marvel, $2.99), Daredevil #91 (Marvel, $2.99)
Ed Brubaker has officially become one of my favorite comics writers, whether it's working within his own gritty world in Criminal, or making two of Marvel's best-known but least interesting characters immensely readable. The first two issues of Criminal feel like a spiritual sequel to his autobiographical A Complete Lowlife, as if he's examining a path he might have gone down himself if not for his writing talents. It's crime noir with a very human edge to it, and Sean Phillips' artwork suits it perfectly.

Over in Daredevil, he's taking his time with his story of Matt Murdock reclaiming his life after being put through the ringer by Bendis, opting for a methodically paced character study that mercifully sidesteps Civil War. Captain America is, of course, unable to avoid Mark Millar's hamfisted fiasco, but Brubaker deftly weaves the strands of his ongoing storyline featuring Bucky, Red Skull and General Lukin into the universe-spanning crossover and continues to prove that bringing Bucky back from the "dead" was a better idea than most people, myself included, thought it was. It's all in the execution, and so far, he's pulled if off quite well.

The Incredible Hulk #100 (Marvel, $3.99)
Greg Pak's "epic" story continues and it's the most fun I've had with the Hulk since catching the old TV show on the Sci-Fi channel back in 2000. The highlight of this issue comes in the backup story as the Hulk's inevitable return to Earth is nicely set up and almost makes up for the slapdash Illuminati/Civil War nonsense it all ties into.

Moon Knight #6 (Marvel, $2.99)
As a Moon Knight fan and a Charlie Huston fan, I'm happy to say that the finale to this reintroduction of the silver avenger does what it set out to do and does so quite engagingly. (The total punking of Taskmaster, though, felt a little off based on my limited knowledge of the character.) I like Huston's take on the schizophrenic anti-hero but am really looking forward to a new artist eventually coming onboard because Finch's hyper-steroidal style just doesn't work for me at all. The cover to this issue is absolutely hideous, bearing little resemblence to the signature artwork of Bill Sienkiewicz, whose work remains the definitive benchmark for the character.

X-Factor #13 (Marvel, $2.99)
I've always liked when team books take an issue to slow things down and give a brief glimpse inside the various characters' heads. Done right, not only is it a satisfying read in and of itself, it also serves as a perfect jumping on point for new readers, and that's exactly what Peter David, reteaming with Pablo Raimondi, delivers here.

Blue Beetle #8-9 (DC, $2.99)
Who would have ever thought that the new Blue Beetle would end up being one of the best things to come out of the Infinite Crisis clusterfuck? Because it is; hands-down. Pitch-perfect characterization, a peripheral DCU setting that allows for plenty of elbow room, and a great team of artists that maintains a consistent look and feel.

Robin #156 (DC, $2.99)
Some people are going to complain about the after-school special tone of this issue's National Suicide Prevention Lifeline tie-in, but I think Adam Beechen handles it well, offering a solid done-in-one story that, like X-Factor #13, works as both a character piece and a perfect jumping on point for new readers.


Firestorm #31 (DC, $2.99)
As much as I'm looking forward to Dwayne McDuffie taking over Firestorm, I'm going to really miss Stuart Moore's work, which I've only come to appreciate post-Infinite Crisis. He tells a solid superhero tale, balancing the requisite soap opera dynamics and Biff! Pow! Smack! with an appealing dash of political commentary. This, along with Robin and Blue Beetle, are the kind of superhero comics DC does better than Marvel and I wish more of their titles were in this less-cynical vein.

24 November 2006

Bilson & Demeo off The Flash! Why?

DC finally got around to watching a few episodes of the 90s Flash TV series. When Didio stumbled onto this clip, it was the end for Bilson & Demeo.

PANEL: The Incredible Hulk #100

The Incredible Hulk #100
Art by Gary Frank, Jon Sibal and Chris Sotomayor
Written by Greg Pak
November 2006, Marvel Comics

On The Web: Fox clips of Spider-Man 3

Last night Fox aired Spider-Man 2, with an added bonus. During the airing, Fox included interviews and clips promoting Spider-Man 3.

Spoiler Warning:
There is new footage, some extended clips from the trailers, and most importantly an official shot of Venom.

22 November 2006

What if Civil War #5 was good?

It might read a little something like this:

Check out Tetsubo Productions - Wherein I Show Why I Shouldn't Be Allowed To Use Photoshop for the hilarious remix of the entire issue.

I dropped Civil War after the incredibly lame fourth issue, unable to stomach any more of Mark Millar's weak attempts at plotting and dialogue, and after reading several reviews like this one I'm glad I did.

Can someone please explain to me why this juvenile hack is one of the top writers in the industry? I mean, I'm no Grant Morrison fan, but at least I can acknowledge and respect his talent. Millar, though? He makes Jeph Loeb look like Shakespeare.

Gratuitous Eva Mendes Moment

The Ghost Rider movie may end up being more Elektra than Spider-Man, but Eva Mendes makes it a must-see no matter what. Happy Thanksgiving!

21 November 2006

Gay Penguins a Menace to Society

You can't make this stuff up...

Persecution of the Penguin Book
by Claire Kirch, PW Daily -- 11/21/2006

Movies about penguins might be box-office gold (March of the Penguins; Happy Feet), but controversy has been dogging a picture book about penguins, published in June 2005 by Simon & Schuster.

And Tango Makes Three, written by professor of psychiatry Justin Richardson and playwright Peter Parnell, illustrated by Henry Cole, is the story of two male penguins at the Central Park Zoo, who hatch and raise a penguin chick. The tale is based on an actual event that occurred at that zoo in 1998.

Although Tango has received a string of awards and honors, including an ASPCA Henry Bergh Book Award, and was an ALA Notable, parents in Shiloh, Ill., 20 miles east of St. Louis, recently complained to the school district that the book promotes "the homosexual lifestyle" and is easily accessible to children in the elementary school library. These parents are asking that Tango either be shelved in a restricted area or that children wanting to check out the book obtain parental permission...

[read the entire article here]
Stupid, stupid, stupid...

PS: Considering recent[ish] developments, I wonder if Diamond would accept And Tango Makes Three for distribution?

On The Shelves: 11/22/06

Reading is fundamental. Don't waste your time reading bad comics out of habit!

My weekly sporadic, ill-informed look at select comic books being released Wednesday, 11/22/06 follows. The full shipping is list available at ComicList.

[NOTE: Not all of these titles will actually arrive in all stores. If your LCBS offers a pre-ordering service, be sure to take advantage of it. If not, find another one; or try Khepri.com or MidtownComics.com]


Casanova #6

Project Romantic HC Sgn, $60.00

Haven't had a chance to read my copy yet, but I did check out Debbie Huey's adorable effort and flipped through the rest and it looks like another winning Project from AdHouse.

100 Girls Vol 2 TPB (resolicited), $9.95

Volume 2?!?! Either I'm really out of the loop or this is a typo and it's actually the excellent volume one. Arcana's web site makes no mention of it at all.

Conan #34, $2.99
Perhapanauts Second Chances #2 (Of 4), $2.99
Star Wars Legacy #1 (New Ptg), $2.99

The first volume of Perhapanauts was a bit of a let-down, so I'll wait for the trade on this second effort before checking it out.

Blue Beetle #9, $2.99
Jack Of Fables #5, $2.99
Uncle Sam And The Freedom Fighters #5 (Of 8), $2.99

After reading this, I was seriously tempted to drop everything DC publishes, but that's the baby with the bathwater approach and I'd have to drop comics completely since we all know DC isn't the only place in the industry this kind of stuff happens. I have dropped almost all of their high-profile titles, though, as the direction the overall DCU has moved over the past couple of years doesn't interest me in the least. Blue Beetle, though, has been a most pleasant surprise, existing far enough on the periphery that it feels almost completely unconnected to everything else, much the same way the grossly underrated Son of Vulcan mini-series was a while back.

Hot Mexican Love Comics 2006, $5.00

Um...what!?!? Oh, ok, that sounds interesting, actually. Suspect I might have to go to Hanley's to get this one.

Casanova #6, $1.99

Casanova #5 was a great read, and Fraction's text pieces at the end of each issue will make a great standalone book some day. Be interesting to see if he and Ba surpass Ellis and Templesmith's Slimline output by the middle of next year. What was the last issue of Fell, anyway?

All New Off Handbook Marvel Universe A To Z #11, $3.99
Daredevil #91, $2.99
Heroes For Hire #4, $2.99
X-Factor #13, $2.99

With Palmiotti and Gray signing an exclusive with DC, Zeb Wells will be taking over Heroes for Hire and I suspect I'll be dropping it at that point. No offense to Wells, whose work I've never read, but I'm barely hanging on through P&G's strained Civil War tie-in, and as much as I like the characters, I can no longer justify keeping titles on my pull list "just because".

Dead At 17 Vol 2 #2, $3.25

I wasn't a big fan of this series in the past, but the first issue of this latest volume, now an ongoing series, piqued my interest.

Will Eisners Dropsie Avenue SC, $16.95

The first Eisner graphic novel I ever read and it remains one of my overall favorites.

20 November 2006

Random Top 5: Most Anticipated

The reorganizing of the apartment continues, but the comics bookshelf is complete, with every graphic novel and comic book-related book I own now in one place. Some had been stashed away in longboxes, but now that they're all breathing freely, I've noticed there are several I've yet to get around to reading yet.

As soon as I'm finished reading The Prestige, the five I'm most anticipating getting to next are:

5) Black Superheroes, Milestone Comics and Their Fans, by Jeffrey A. Brown
4) Outlaws, Rebels, Freethinkers & Pirates, by Bob Levin
3) Project: Romantic, by Various
2) Goodbye, Chunky Rice, by Craig Thompson
1) Will Eisner's The Spirit Archives: Volume One
What are you most looking forward to reading next?

18 November 2006

Belated Halloween Happiness

Bumperboy is one the reasons I could never give up comics completely!
Debbie Huey rocks.

14 November 2006

The Prestige, Comics, Life, etc.

** No, I haven't seen Heroes yet, though not for lack of interest. Probably end up getting the Season One DVD and watching it when I retire, along with the many other movies and TV shows I've missed over the past couple of years. I did see The Prestige, though, and loved it. (Bought the novel, which I just started reading, mistakenly thinking it was by the Christopher Priest from comics.) Christopher Nolan is up there with M. Night Shyamalan and David Fincher as one of my favorite directors, and Christian Bale solidified his standing as my favorite Batman/Bruce Wayne. Hugh Jackman's turn as his own double was quite possibly his best acting yet, showing a range I didn't realize he had. Makes me think the Wolverine spinoff might actually have a shot at being good.

** I finally stopped by Midtown Comics last week and picked up six weeks of comics, which was a wallet-bending amount even with my pared-down pull list. Some pleasant surprises in the mix, including ASP's intriguing The Killer #1, a moody take on a philosophical assassin with some exquisite artwork; the delightfully whacked-out Casanova #5, which continues to successfully walk the tightrope between smart and smarmy; and Captain America #23 and Daredevil #90, which continue Ed Brubaker's run as the best writer currently working at the House of Ideas.

** We're in the middle of rearranging our apartment to maximize our use of increasingly limited space, including an additional bookcase so my wife and I can each have our own. I pulled a number of TPBs out of random corners and now have an almost floor-to-ceiling collection of graphic goodness easily at hand! I'm going to have to cull a few marginal titles to make space for future purchases as I'm about halfway to focusing primarily on TPBs.

** Met with Jon and Howard from PopCultureShock for drinks last week and am looking forward to being able to jump back into a regular writing gig by the beginning of the year. Not sure in what capacity yet, or what it will mean for CBC, but I'm hoping to be able to strike a balance between the two, focusing on the resource and opinion aspects of this site, while tackling longer reviews, features and interviews over there. For those of you still checking in here, stay tuned! :-)

On the Shelves: 11/15/06

Reading is fundamental. Don't waste your time reading bad comics out of habit!

My weekly sporadic, ill-informed look at select comic books being released Wednesday, 11/15/06 follows. The full shipping is list available at ComicList.

[NOTE: Not all of these titles will actually arrive in all stores. If your LCBS offers a pre-ordering service, be sure to take advantage of it. If not, find another one; or try Khepri.com or MidtownComics.com]


Moon Knight #6

Tron #2, $3.50

It's kind of ridiculous how long ago #1 came out, but it was a good read so I'm still on board.

Mouse Guard 2nd Ptg #3 (Of 6), $3.50

Finally got around to reading #5 and I'm still loving what David Petersen is doing here. ASP publishes quality work, and Mouse Guard is one of their crown jewels.

Sock Monkey The Inches Incident #2 (Of 4), $2.99

The problem with going long stretches without hitting your LCBS and not surfing the comics interweb is that you miss out on stuff you might have been interested in, like this Sock Monkey mini-series I had no idea existed. Might have to TPB it.

Astro City The Dark Age Book Two #1, $2.99
Green Lantern Corps #6, $2.99
Robin #156, $2.99

I'm honestly surprised by which DC titles I'm still reading, GLC & Robin among them. Astro City, though, may be TPBd.

GI Joe Dreadnoks Declassified Sauve Cvr A #1 (Of 3), $4.95

I'm a such a sucker for DDP's GI Joe titles, especially these short-run DeClassified spinoffs. I mean, I have no idea who/what Dreadnoks are, but I'll be buying it!

Graphic Biography Malcolm X GN, $15.95

I vaguely remember reading about this and will at least give it a flip-through.

Civil War #5 (Of 7), $2.99
Moon Knight #6, $2.99
Thunderbolts #108, $2.99
White Tiger #1 (Of 6), $2.99

Just say "no" to Civil War. I am. The side stories are much better written, and the "best" of any particular issue on the main story is easily accessible online. (Side note: My dislike for Millar's writing has even made Red Son, which I'd heard such positive things about, absolutely unreadable.)

Back Issue #19, $6.95

I think even if I stopped reading comics altogether, I'd still pick up Back Issue for the warm, nostalgic feeling it gives.