Monday, September 26, 2005

Pure Class...ic

Classic
You're Classic Batman. You're the old school,
iconic Batman that everyone knows. Your
sidekick is Dick Grayson, the original Robin,
and you also team up with Batgirl alot. You're
the World's Greatest Detective, and also one of
the best fighters on the planet. You're against
guns and lethal force. Right now, you're pretty
much in the prime of your career, before you
become haunted by Dead Sidekicks and loved
ones.


What kind of Batman are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Hmmm.... I'm not sure how I feel about that!

In the picture is Batman rubbing one out? No wonder he hides in the shadows and has a cape to hide himself, from cops and decent people...

Friday, September 23, 2005

Happy birthday, Bat-Mac!

Yay! A very Happy Birthday to Bat-Mac!

Incidentally, Mac, it seems you share a birthday with comicbook-writing legend, Peter David!

As a birthday treat, have this lovely comic advert featuring Marvel's greatest hero, Meatloaf:

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

I am Samu, the Reader. It is my task to note all comics of significance. Only to note them...and never interfere.

In response to an e-mail question, here's some disjointed and rambling thoughts on the comics currently in my pull-list. If you can't rant on a blog, where can you rant?
If anyone reads this and disagrees, or even agrees, with anything here then please feel free to argue with me on the comments page. :)

--

Peter David's Hulk run was woefully short - he works best when he's got time for some longterm character developments. As I said to Mac the other day, the Hulk House of M arc was good, but would've been so much better if it had been set in the proper Marvel universe -- as it stands you know they'll be no ramifications or development from the story at all, so in the long run it just feels a bit pointless.
Still, I'm looking forward to PAD's 2 new books starting soon - X-Factor and Friendly Neighbourhood Spider-man. I've always thought that PAD really gets Spidey as a character so it's great to have as a regular Spidey writer. Shame he's having to start with a crossover though. I've just read the last arc in Marvel Knights Spider-man and I don't rate Reggie Hudlin's writing at all. A couple of nice ideas with the Absorbing Man, but I thought his pacing and dialogue and the ending with Aunt May were all terrible. I've dropped the title from my standing order, but am now probably going to buy the next 3 issues because of the crosover! Bah!
It's nice to have X-Factor on my pull-list -- I'm not getting many X-books anymore and, well, I miss them! That seems particularly sad to me as it was the X-Men that got me buying the monthly comics. Of the 3 core books I've only been getting Astonishing X-Men (enjoyed the last issue, although the publishing delays were annoying. Hopefully that'll be sorted out after the current hiatus). There was a time, not so long ago, that I was buying Uncanny X-Men and adjectiveless X-Men just out of loyalty, to keep an unbroken run of issues, but I've since realised that that's pretty stupid. As much as I love the characters and miss reading about them, I just wasn't enjoying the writing of Chris Claremont or Peter Milligan on those titles so I had to drop them. As I was saying to Bat-Mac recently, when we were discussing the new All-Star Batman & Robin, I don't have the money to be buying books that I'm not really enjoying. And it's important to be selective and only spend my monthly money on books that are worthy of my support -- surely Marvel aren't going to get rid of a bad creative team if the books are still selling, even if people are only buying because of a twisted loyalty to the title or characters. I wish more regular readers thought like that -- vote with your feet, people! Besides, there's no need to spend my meagre monthly comics allowance on books I know I'll be able to pick up at a fraction of the price later from the back-issues boxes at a fair.
The only other X-related book I'm getting is Cable & Deadpool, and I keep changing my mind as to whether that's good enough to keep in my monthly order or not. Fabian Nicieza occasionally uses too much incomprehensible technobabble and deus ex machina, but I did love the last issue which was a low-action, pure-characterisation single issue story, so I'm with it for a bit longer at least. Same thing with (New) Thunderbolts -- just when I'm lmost getting bored by a confusing plots or reliance on technobabble, Fabian reels me in with an interesting plot-twist (the re-appearance of Baron Zemo in the last issue).

I'm still enjoying New Avengers - fantastic art in the current Sentry story, much better than David Finch on the first arc. Still, it seems a bit odd that we're 9 issues in yet the New Avengers haven't really done anything! S.H.I.E.L.D. did everything in the 1st arc, and now Emma Frost and the Fan Four are saving the day in the current story! And the team isn't even complete yet! It's typical Bendis plotting pace I suppose. He's getting away with it so far in this title, but generally speaking I find he sucks at writing superhero action scenes. At least the NA are acting like a team and saving the day together in the current Amazing Spider-man issues. This is the best Amazing story arc from Strazyncski since his original Morlun one, although his writing is still far from perfect (mainly because I'm still feeling the sour taste left by his Sins Past story).
I'm having the same pacing problem with House of M -- if it really is going to "change the Marvel universe forever" it should be feeling more epic than it has so far. Too many talking heads and splash pages (like the 2-page spread of Wolverine falling from the helicarrier) and not enough action or plot development. And why exactly are Mystique and Toad apparently fighting alongside the good guys in the last issue? I thought they were well up for a bit of mutant supremacy?
Anyway, at least Bendis is still doing good things on Daredevil. And Brubaker taking over shouldn't be half bad at all.

Young Avengers and Runaways are still going strong. Probably my two favourite Marvel titles at the moment.

I'm looking forward to the new She-Hulk run too -- I've just added it to my standing order in anticipation. I didn't get the last run, but Dan Stott was amazing on the recent GLA miniseries so I'm interested to read more of his work.

Aside from the Marvel titles I'm getting, the 3 Vertigo books on my pull-list are still doing great stuff. Fables is excellent - loved the reveal of The Adversary. Y: The Last Man is as good as ever. And I'm still loving 100 Bullets, although the last issue (#64) seemed a little empty. Can't say I'm worried about that though -- experience tells me that I'll probably re-read later on, after another arc or two, and love it. As far as I'm concerned, nothing beats 100 Bullets for re-readability.


And that's the end of that chapter.
No doubt I'll ramble on again soon.

Friday, September 16, 2005

XS-ive

You're...XS!
You're Jenni Ognats, XS!

Which Legionnaire are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Spot on! I've always thought that beneath this hairy male exterior is a super-fast black teenage girl waiting to burst out and save the universe.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

WTF

A few weeks back I read 1602.

I’m not sure if I should admit this in public, but I’ve not really read a lot of Gaiman stuff. And by “a lot” I mean “any”. My mate King Asok is always on at me to read Sandman. I’ve not read Good Omens, Gaiman’s novel with Terry Pratchet. Until recently, when I went to the world premiere of Gaiman and Dave “Arkham Asylum” MacKean’s Mirrormask at the Edinburgh Film Festival, my only exposure to Gaiman was when BBC2 broadcast Neverwhere, which I watched when I was 12 and far too young to understand what I was going on.



This article was going to be a critique-of-sort of 1602. But now it isn’t. Because in researching a link to information about the Neverwhere TV show for this post after I’d completed writing the above paragraph, I found out that it was first broadcast on 12th September 1996 - just before I turned 18 and went off to university.

My memory is extremely good. Not quite eidetic, like Batman’s, but well above average. My life is interesting and I have to cope with enough retconning in the DCU without needing to implant false memories into my head. I distinctly remember being alone in the house, curled up like I used to when I was a kid and watching the first episode and thinking “WTF?”.

On reflection, I think my brain has gone through the following process:

- I didn’t understand Neverwhere when I watched it
- I remember reacting to it the way I used to as a kid when reading/viewing something I felt I was - meant to understand but couldn’t.
- Ergo I must have been a kid.

I’m now concerned. How many more of my precious memories are false. Did I really read Dark Knight Returns in one sitting? Did I cry at the end of the Killing Joke? Am I really such a big Annex fan?

I’m not quite sure where I’m going with this, so I’ll surmise briefly and stop before this becomes a Bone-like epic:

It is said that we humans are trying to find meaning in our life. I say that the pace of modern life doesn’t allow you to realise that you’re undergoing an important experience at the time you’re having it. We go back and make our lives have meaning, rather like comic book writers go rework past stories so they fit into the current world view, a process called retconning.

Batman – The Dark Knight Returns has had a profound impact on my life. Yet I couldn’t not have been aware of this when I put the book down and went straight to sleep. My brain has imbued the memory of the first reading with the resonance of subsequent readings and experiences. That is the beauty and prerogative of the mind, and allows us, with no hint of self-awareness or self-parody, to utter the immortal line “I loved you from moment we met.”

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Back once again...

...with the ill behaviour, with the ill behaviour, with the ill behaviour...
Well, exam went OK. I hope to God it’s my last one. Especially as I don’t seem to have the energy for it anymore. I’m 26, and my mind is a mushy pulp already. Tremendous.

Three hours is far too long to have to think hard about something you have no interest in whatsoever. I got half-way through the paper and then felt my mind start to wander. It took the mental powers of Maxwell Lord (hopefully his demise is no omen for my performance – maybe I should have used a different metaphor!) to get my mind on track. I had to keep repeating Batman’s response when Dr. Destiny (in JL animated) points out that Batman has no super-powers. “Oh, I have one thing” he replies, “I never give up.”

That used to be my mantra back in the day. In the previous study session I would start off each day by writing it out five times. But ironically, the Bat proves as much an inspiration as a distraction as I tend to spend half the day doodling Bat-symbols of various kinds. This then leads to a general free-for-all centring around the JLA’s insignias. Stupid Martian Manhunter – why have you no logo? Still, it means I don’t have to dispose of the paper in the “confidential waste” bin, like I do when I start doodling other things that cross my mind when you’re alone with nothing else to think about…

Thanks to Spider-Sam for running the site so brilliantly in my absence, and thanks to Rheiny and Dan for reading and commenting. We’ve had a lot of spam comments recently, some of which have been deleted, and some which have been kept because I think they are brilliant and so completely random- I can’t wait for one about wang enhancement! Also, because it makes it look like we’re loved. As the disgusting tramp woman says in the Simpsons when asked if she wants to make out with a guy who she has just loudly abused as being a Devil Dog, “Nobody wants to be alone.”

Thursday, September 08, 2005

The best there is at what he does, and what he does is eat cheese

Scientists have created a mouse with a healing factor!

Now if only they could make one that smokes cigars and says "bub."


Coming next: shape-changing skin grafts?

Monday, September 05, 2005

The real Spider-man comic strip?

Just another quick post from me to show you this:


As ever, click on the image to enlarge it.

More here.

*snigger*

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Answers to a hypothetical question: part 5

Some time ago, Scipio, at The Absorbascon, asked some hypothetical questions about you would do if you owned your local comic book store. Inspired by this, I've answered them. The answers are being posted over the course of this week.
-----------------------------------

What would you want on its website?

I think Mile High Comics is the template for all online retailers. Period. It’s a shame that living in the UK no one can compete with them on price and service even though I am an international customer for them and I only need spend $100 for free shipping.

If you have a local store then the website will probably act more as a promotional tool than a major source of business. Just make it as navigable and user friendly as possible.

You are selling product that many other stores have and so differentiation is the key. Maybe take photos of your customers and offer a $10 voucher if you are deemed “photo of the week”? That may sound lame, but I’m trying to think “outside the box”! Anything to engender a sense of community.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Answers to a hypothetical question: part 4

Some time ago, Scipio, at The Absorbascon, asked some hypothetical questions about you would do if you owned your local comic book store. Inspired by this, I've answered them. The answers are being posted over the course of this week.
-----------------------------------

What would you do to bring new people to comics generally?

Movie-related promotion is important. I would have some kind of relationship with the local cinema - possibly a free child’s ticket to a film if a certain amount is spent at your store. I would have stock of graphic novels in the cinema for people to purchase as they go in and out. Stores I know that have done this have achieved success.

You could incentives the customers to bring in new business with an “Introduce a Friend” scheme.

Do card/comic promotions. When parents come into the store, ensure they are aware of the range of Johnny Dc/Marvel Adventures/Archie comics available. We’re not talking hard-sell here; we’re talking provision of information which the publishers are pathetic at putting in the right hands.

Cross-promotion is important. For example, if people come in to buy the Smallville Series 4 DVD Box Set, offer them the Graphic Novel for half-price.

Stock comics that will appeal to different audiences. For example, stock “Fade from Blue” by Second-to-some studios for the ladies.

Stock affordable items – important for the "child present" market too. Even I can’t afford/don’t want to buy DC Direct’s Batman Hush Statue at $200. However, I can afford my Batman/Superman money box which cost me $15, and, more importantly so can kids.

In terms of the layout of the store try your best not to make it “intimidating”. For example, do not put expensive comics on the wall in places that may make people think a $50 comic is representative of the prices of a regular issue of Batman. Make it clear that regular comics are cheap and represent good value for money in terms of re-read value. I usually tell people who doubt that comics are good value that I read every comic three times – once as it comes out, once again just before I read the final episode of a multi-issue storyline, and then again a while later if it was really good.

When new customers come in asking for recommendations, try hard to understand exactly what they are after. I am a huge DC fan, but I would not recommend many current ongoing DC titles to new readers into the store, because they are relatively impenetrable with all the Crisis stuff going on. For your new Batman fans make sure you have adequate supply of Batman: Year One, Dark Knight Returns, Killing Joke, Contagion, but also try and hook them on any of the current miniseries that are not related to current continuity. However, the skilful store owner would drop enough hints that what is going on in the DCU is so exciting that you have to get a piece of it. Point out that if anything is confusing then you will be there to explain exactly what is going on.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Answers to a hypothetical question: part 3

Some time ago, Scipio, at The Absorbascon, asked some hypothetical questions about you would do if you owned your local comic book store. Inspired by this, I've answered them. The answers will be posted over the next few days.
-----------------------------------

How would you promote it?

Try and make the local press your friend. In the build up to opening your store make them aware of it. They are often desperate to fill their pages so you can help them and they in turn will help you. Whenever a superhero film is released make sure you have a spot in the paper, possibly a review of it (sadly you will not be able to write what you really think, and everything will get two thumbs up, but that’s business!)

Get involved in the local community in some way – which will also give you free publicity. If I owned a comics shop in Exeter (my home town) I would give a discount to those who supported Exeter City FC via the Supporter’s Trust which now runs the club. I would sponsor some matches too.

Make ‘Free Comic Book Day’ a local event – maybe by teaming up with other local retailers. FCBD is a great idea but all it ends up meaning is that a nerd like me gets a free comic that week.

On a more parochial level, why don’t you look at how other shops promote themselves? They have clear signs and well known brand images identify what they sell. Why not put the Bat, Super and Spider-symbols outside the shop? People will be able to easily identify it, as opposed to most comic shops which have some “pun-based” name which says nothing about what it sells.