Friday, December 16, 2011

Four Year Anniversary!


This is it! Our favorite event of the entire year, the celebration of another year of our existence and this year we extended the celebration to THREE DAYS! Here's the skinny: It all kicks off on Friday, December 16th where we will be joined by the fine fellows you see on the flier above. They will be here signing, sketching and talking comics so make sure you stop by and say hello! Saturday, December 17th continues the signing tradition with even more comic creators! What's better than this? Well, EVERYTHING in the store will be 25% off on both days, including all the great books you can pick up from these fabulous creators!

Finally on Sunday, December 18th we'll be bringing the party to the Full Cup on Van Duzer St to kick back, have some drinks and provide some entertainment! There will be live music and DJ stylings of Socko & Tiger Jones! It all kicks off at 9:30! Be there!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Tis The Season…for comics!

Christmas really snuck up on me this year! Maybe it is the mid 50’s weather, or maybe I am still decompressing from NYCC. Whatever the case, the holidays are just around the corner! To that end I am going to share some of my very favorite Christmas themed comic covers

Pretty sweet stuff. I don’t notice as many holiday themed covers on modern books but perhaps that is just a sign of our more politically correct times. I still say “Merry Christmas” rather than “Happy Holidays”…so sue me!
SO here are MY picks for comic related items that would fit nicely in any house for ANY holiday:
1) DC Comics Archive Editions/Marvel Masterworks. These handsome hard cover collections with heavy stock, high gloss pages present the key works of the big two publishers to better advantage than the originals. It is a truly affordable way to add big runs of early issues to your library.
2) Vampirella Archive Editions – The Warren Publishing group originally owned Vampirella and along with Eerie and Creepy pretty much owned the horror genre back in the 60’s and 70’s. These editions present the early Vampi issues in their original size and format with nothing missing! Not just a collection of stories these Archive Editions present each issue in their entirety. I especially like the letters pages!
3) Walking Dead Collections –Hard cover or soft cover…GET these! The BEST comic on the stands deserves a place on your book shelf! Nuff Said.
4) DC Universe Online – The MMORPG based on the characters appearing in DC Publications is now FREE TO PLAY, and that includes the game software. The game is massive. The game is colorful. The game is Fun. PLUS the Flash runs on his cosmic treadmill. What could be better than that?
5) Movies…movies….MOVIES! This was the summer of the Superhero at your local theater and now those movies are all out on Bluray! Captain America! Green Lantern! Thor! Whether you get the DVD, Bluray or digital editions, just GET ‘em!
6) Maus by Art Spiegleman. If you have to ask you really NEED this one. Perhaps the single most important graphic novel/comic in the HISTORY of our hobby. Seems like a saw a few copies of the collected edition at Comicbook Jones! I need a new copy myself!!

7) An official Red Ryder BB gun with a compass in the stock and this thing which tells time? Maybe not but if you don’t already own it get yourself a copy of Christmas Story. It’s a classic AND Ralphie can be seen slipping a comic book with a Red Ryder sales pitch into a copy of mom’s Look magazine.

I am sure other items will occur to me as the big day draws closer. I the meantime have to slip a copy of Previews news into my wife’s backpack!!
That’s 30!


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Alvin Hollingsworth…creator

I have a soft spot for creators. Musicians, Actors, Writers, Artists….whatever. They don’t even have to be particularly GOOD creators. Just the act of creating has a value that cannot be calculated and adds immeasurably to our collective self exploration. Carl Sagan once postulated that we humans are one of the organisms through which the Cosmos knows itself. If in fact we are the “eyes of the Cosmos”, creators facilitate that sight by making the colors richer, the textures fuller and the music just that much sweeter.

As a comic collector I have a special fondness for the people who give us our comics. Of course we all know about the giants from the past like Jack Kirby, Curt Swan, Bob Montana, Seigel and Shuster, Joe Simon and so many more. Today we have the likes of Ed Brubaker, Geoff Johns, Jim Lee and an entire generation of creators who consistently push the medium to new heights of creativity.

I am always happy when I discover a new or forgotten creator. In this case it was the latter, His name was Alvin Hollingsworth. Hollingsworth drew comics in the 1940’s and 1950’s. He had a nice clean and very realistic style that was more along the lines of what you might have seen AFTER 1970. He often inked his own work. Alvin was definitely ahead of his times.
He worked on titles such as Wings, Rulah, Jungle Goddess, Master Comics, Witchcraft, Mysterious Comics, and Romance Comics such as Youthful Romances.

In fact after he retired from the Comic Book field, Hollingsworth became a renowned fine artist and taught as a college professor at the University of new York and Hostos Communtity College. His subjects included the civil Rights for women, Jazz, and dance among others.

Alvin left us in July of 200 at the age of 72.

Hollingsworth was African American.

I mention this because the Golden Age of comics was hardly “golden” if you were an African American. Like so many areas of American life, people of color were either excluded entirely or made use of only as a stereotype. It may be hard to believe today but it was not until 1948 that a black man was allowed to play Major League Baseball and it would be nearly another thirty years before an African American was hired to MANAGE a team in the majors.
Hell, it was not until 1968 that TV saw it’s first interracial kiss. And even then Kirk was only kissing Uhura under the command of an alien influence and doing his best to resist it! Now I don’t know about anyone else but *I* would not have to be coerced to kiss Nichelle Nichols!
In the world of comic books we did not see men and women of color as leading characters or heroes in comics until the late 60’s and early 70’s with the likes of The Black Panther, Luke Cage, The Falcon and Storm. Old prejudices die hard.

So back to the 40’s and 50’s and the world of Alvin Hollingsworth. African Americans were almost completely non-existent in comic books. When they DID appear it was in the most demeaning and stereotyped manner. Bug eyes, grotesquely large lips, and huge ears. These depictions in NO WAY resembled any person of color who ever populated this planet. Worse than that, African Americans were portrayed as lazy, superstitious and cowardly. All completely untrue and unfair stereotypes.

If that was how FICTIONAL characters were treated one can only imagine how many doors were closed to African American creators at the time. The odds were not particularly good.

But every now and then someone comes along who beats those odds. Hollingsworth was simply too talented to be denied.

And he also had the opportunity to portray African Americans as beautiful, dignified people in Fawcett’s experimental title Negro Romance.

Romance comics were coming into their own around 1950 as the Superhero wave of the Golden Age was going into decline. Fawcett’s other romance titles were selling very well and editor Roy Ald, a Caucasian editor by the way, decided to take a shot at targeting an African American audience made up largely of females! Ald had worked with Hollingsworth when the latter was a very young man and the two got along very well and became close friends. Ald actually wrote the book while Hollingsworth did the pencils. It is unknown whether or not Alvin inked this book but given the fact that he was also a capable inker it is likely that he did this as well. Hollingsworth and Ald portrayed African Americans in a far more complementary, if (you will excuse the pun) romantic, light than other comics. These were attractive, educated and desirable people. If the characters were somewhat sacirine, so were the white characters in Fawcett’s other romance books. (In fact MOST Fawcett characters tended to be a bit…bland. Captain Marvel lead the pack!)

It is not known if Hollingsworth did ALL of the artwork in Negro Romance but he did pencil a great deal of the book.

Although Negro Romance only lasted three issues the mere fact of it’s existence is remarkable and reflects the talent and sensitivity of the men who created it.

Of course I did not know Alvin Hollingsworth and have only ever seen a few pages of his work. But he was a man and like many men I HAVE known, Alvin overcame great odds and I am sure he paid a personal price for that. He left the world a bit richer and more beautiful than he found it. And he made a powerful statement without blowing anything up to do it.

Alvin Hollingsworth was a creator.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving

That’s 30!


Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Sometimes you find moving and poignant moments in the places you least expect it

It was the last day of NYCC. And on a whim, on my way out my I suggested to my daughter Alyx that we might take in the retrospective on gene Colan going on in one of the side rooms. I have always been a great fan of the great Gene Colan. I always thought of him as more than just an artist.

I had always seen him as a consummate story teller. He did more with shadow and light to create the full range of human emotion than perhaps any comic artist in the history of the medium. For you younger readers who may not be familiar with gene’s work, I strongly urge you to check out any reprints you can get your hands on.

He was perhaps most famous for his work on Tomb Of Dracula, Iron Man and Daredevil but he was highly prolific and those titles represent only the tip of the iceberg. Along with Jack Kirby and Curt Swan, Gene was a giant.


What really drew me to the panel was the fact that Don McGregor was speaking. I had always loved his work on Killraven in Amazing Adventures. He had created truly three dimensional characters with all the beauty and warts that flesh is heir to. His run on Amazing Adventures was very much ahead of it’s time and stands up today as a thoughtful and deeply textured science fiction epic. Frankly I wanted to see if Don was as…human…as his writing.

The panel was not crowded. There may have been 50 or 60 of us there. Mostly “old timers’ like me. A few younger fans were there as well. But that intimacy only added to what was to follow from a remarkable man.
I am here to tell you that Don McGregor may be the MOST human being I have come across in decades. He spoke for some time about his close friend, Gene Colan, telling more than a few funny stories. There was nothing maudlin or self pitying in his recollections. On the contrary, Mr. McGregor allowed those of us in the room to celebrate his friend’s life and work in a very intimate way. He gave us all a gift. Don made us feel as if we are also friends of Gene. I do know this. Mr. Colan was a very fortunate man to have a friend like Don.

It was impossible not to see the deep feeling Don has for Gene and if he was able to stay clear eyed, he was about the only one. Let me just say there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. In fact Alyx (jaded college student that she is) had a good cry with him after the presentation and he was genuinely moved by my daughter’s empathy.

So human.

As you start to get older you can’t get away from the fact that you are going to lose people who you love. There is no getting around this fact. It is one of the more bittersweet aspects of life I think. There is a special poignancy when it is the loss of a FRIEND. We choose our friends with great care, especially those we share a lifetime with. If you are lucky, you have one friend like that. I am doubly blessed that I have two.

Listening to Don remember his friend made me realize all over again just how dear my old friends are to me…and that one day one of us will be leaving that close knit circle.

So thank you Don.

Thank you for sharing your humanity and memories of your friend.

Thank you for moving my child to tears.

Thank you for reminding me of how precious my friends are to me.

And thank you for being so damned human.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Some post NYCC observations.

While NYCC has become a multi-media, multi-genre event ranging from live performance to movies, TV, Anime, Sci-Fi and more, for me it has always been about the COMICS. As usual I was very quickly reminded that big shows are generally not the places to shop for older comics if you are looking for a bargain.

YES there are MANY comic bargains at large shows such as NYCC. There are endless $1 boxes stuffed with GREAT reading. Modern comics tend to be heavily discounted and trade paperbacks/hard cover collections are slashed by over 50% by Sunday. You can even find decent prices on LOWER GRADED Silver and Golden Age Comics.

BUT if you are looking for higher grade or scarce Silver/Golden Age books steer clear. Even Mid Grade books tend to be over priced. The dealers are also less inclined to make deals at a big show than they are when I see THE SAME guys at smaller shows all year!

I went to NYCC with a very specific shopping list this year. I wanted high grade (VF or better) copies of Batman #227 and Detective #441, and a Fine copy of Laugh #61. I also wanted to get a copy of Vampirella #1 (1969) in VG or better condition. While I found all four books at the show, the prices on the first three were not only over Overstreet guide, but WAY over! Consequently I only purchased the Vampi at the show.

I will get into some of the reasons for the over pricing later in this column.

Now let’s talk about the Laugh, Batman and Detective comics, which I DID purchase from Ebay right after Comiccon.

Batman #227 is a highly sought after Neal Adams cover and has been going up rapidly in both demand and price. In VF the current OS Guide has it at $89 but that is a low price. I had been tracking it on ebay auctions and VF to VF+ copies were typically going for around $200. I saw an 8.5 unslabbed (not in a CGC case) copy at NYCC for $400! The dealer would not budge below $375 so I took a pass. That Sunday I put a bid down on this copy (below) on Ebay and got it for $218. When it arrived I was extremely happy with the condition (VF+) as it was every bit as nice as the NYCC copy I passed on.
Win for me!

The copy of Detective that you see below is in VF/NM condition. I got it for $20 on Ebay. It was selling for $100 at the show. FORTY PERCENT over the guide price of $60. This was even more egregious than the batman #227 because Detective comics in this issue range have been somewhat flat over the past few years. They DO go up in value but only by small increments. The dealer would not come down below $80. Ebay gave me another win!

Finally there is this Golden Age copy of Laugh #61. Not as I have mentioned in other columns Golden Age Archie comics are VERY hard to find in any condition over VG. WHEN YOU CAN FIND THEM AT ALL! So I was more than willing to pay twice guide (Guide is $30) for this book. I found two dealers with the book. One was in VG and he wanted $100. Another had a copy in about the same condition as the scan below and he wanted $225. Again, the dealers were not inclined to make what I thought was a good deal. I found THIS copy on Ebay for a Buy It Now of $30. I did not even have to bid!

So why are dealers at large shows such as NYCC a) over pricing the books and b) showing reluctance to “deal”?

Two reasons.

First, a guide is ONLY that…a “guide”. A dealer, any dealer has every right to ask any price they like for a book. There is no rule here. A dealer will make a decision on the desirability of any given book. Often they sell BELOW guide because a given book simply won’t sell at the overstreet price. It is up to the COLLECTOR to determine if any given book is “overpriced” for HIS/HER collection. In my case, it was my determination that these books were over priced at the show. That judgement was confirmed by the prices I ultimately paid for these books online.

Second, a large show is VERY expensive for dealers to attend. Aside from the table fees, there is transportation, their time and the inevitable theft that comes with large crowds. The dealer must factor this into his prices or he does not stay a dealer for long.

Also, large shows tend to bring out casual colletors and impulse buyers who simply don’t know that it is perfectly acceptable to haggle (within reason) over the price of a book. In short, the size of the crowd creates a selling atmosphere in which the dealer does not HAVE to come down on his prices. I have purchased from many of the very same dealers at smaller shows in New Jersey and gotten a price they refused to give me at NYCC!

The next question I know is coming is “Isn’t buying comics from Ebay risky? How do you know the book is in the advertised condition?”

Valid question. In fact you Do have to be careful buying on Ebay. I NEVER bid on a book without large, sharp images in the ad. I often send emails to the seller asking for additional internal scans. However, given the feedback model used on Ebay, most sellers actually UNDERGRADE their books. They do not want to risk bad feedback. Typically the books I get are about a half grade BETTER than advertised. Also, keep in mind that dealers at a show display their high priced books to their best advantage. Often in Mylar which enhances the look of the book. You have to be careful with a LIVE transaction every bit as much as with an online purchase.

The really interesting aspect of all this back issue collecting is the fact that Overstreet does not take online auctions into account when they come up with the values they place on comics. Those values are determined by a board of advisors, many of whom are (guess what?) DEALERS! Now why oh WHY would they not want the actual price that collectors are paying to be the value used in the guide?

I wonder…espically when MOST of these same dealers sell and auction online at prices LOWER than those they use in live transactions. Again, they are entitled to charge anything they want to either online OR live. It is up to the saavy collector to get the best price.

Which is why I am giving you guys the heads up here!

By the way…I DID get my Vampirella #1 at the show (VG+) for a very nice price ($60 or 30% BELOW guide) so there ARE deals to be made at big shows. Just make sure to do your purchasing in the LAST hours of the LAST day when the dealers are more motivated to getting those last few sales before they pack up!

Again, let me emphasize that ther ARE tons of great bragains to be had at any big show. You just need to know where to look!

That’s 30!


Monday, October 24, 2011

Digital Comics...The New "D.C."?

This year at NYCC one of the hot topics for discussion was the growing popularity of digital comics and what they might mean to the future of the hobby. The question of whether or not Digital Comics would become part of the retail landscape has already been answered. They are here to stay. Look at the home page right here at CBJ and you will see a link to a digital comics vendor.

The question of digital comics breaks down into two parts, aesthetic and financial.

Let’s talk bucks first.

Digital comics make all the financial sense in the world. They are ridiculously cheap to produce and distribute when compared to their printed counterparts.

Both digital and print comics are created in the same way. Someone writes, someone draws, someone inks and someone edits. No difference.

However it changes drastically from there. Take print first:

Presses and press time needs to be secured and the comics must be physically produced at some cost per copy to the publisher. Press/printing time is NOT cheap.

Physical Comics are printed on PAPER. Again, not cheap.

Physical comics use INK.

Physical comics use staples.

They have to be broken down, packed in boxes, sealed, stored, inventoried,

shipped, and in some cases returned.

Some copies are damaged, destroyed or stolen in this process.

As someone who works in Logistics and transportation I can tell you that NONE of that is cheap. It’s why you pay so much for your copy of Fear Itself!

Another thing about physical comics…you have to leave your house to get them. For those of us who live close to a comic shop this is actually FUN, but for many collectors who do NOT have a shop readily available, collecting becomes a very arduous task. Those collectors have to travel around looking for their books, or subscribe to the comics they want. They generally won’t have the books on a Wednesday AND they pay shipping more often than not.

Physical comics take up a HUGE amount of space. Don’t believe me? Come by my house and I’ll give you a tour of the “dungeon”, IF you can actually fit down there! It’s wall to wall comic boxes with no end in sight. That ALSO costs me money as I pay for every square foot of my house just like anyone else with a mortgage.

I never ran the numbers but I would bet it costs me several hundred dollars a year to store my comics, between the above mentioned space, comic boxes, boards, bags, and shelves etc. I own upwards of 15,000 comics now and they are ALL bagged and boarded. If you want to make sure your comics STAY in good shape you need to do REPEAT this process for all of your books every few years. YOW!

Digital comics won’t deteriorate. They will look EXACTLY the same 100 years from now as they do the day they are created. The don’t get ripped. They don’t get musty. They don’t get water damaged.

Again, digital comics make all the financial sense in the world.
BUT, I’ll take print thankyouverymuch.

Why? If Digital Comics are all THAT why would I EVER want an archaic, nasty, soot ridden, (ugh!) PHYSICAL comic?

Here is why…

Physical comics are self contained. They ARE the app and I don’t need a gadget to read them.

You can HOLD a physical comic in your hands, turn the pages and lose yourself in other worlds on a lazy afternoon at the beach, or in the car, even on the POT! Anywhere.

You can fold it in half and put it in your back pocket.

You can carefully maintain it in mylar and proudly display your collection to your friends.

You can physically flip through your boxes of comics, reliving the halcyon days of yore (or mine) when you first obtained these multi colored beauties.
You can get your favorite creator to sign your physical comics….if you’re nice!

Yes the DIGITAL image may never fade while the physical one DOES, but the physical comic just looks better to me. Sort of how some people swear that vinyl sounds better than a CD or digital recording.

Physical comics are collectable. Someday you might sell them for a profit. Maybe not. But it is a lot of fun grading and pricing them!

I spent several happy hours yesterday putting my NYCC purchases into bags and boards and then nesting them in their proper boxes while taking another look at each and every one. Can’t do that with digital. I suppose you can create a new folder on your computer from time to time but it ain’t the same!

Same Day (when there ARE same day) Digital comics COST roughly the same as physical comics. Why would I spend the same money for a DC as a PC? (I suspect that, before too much longer, digital comics released the same day as their physical counterparts will cost a lot less than the hard copies.)
I do think that, for the foreseeable future that digital and physical comics will co-exist. Each format has it’s virtues.

Digital in particular means that ANYONE can publish, which is a wonderful opportunity for creators AND fans.

Physical comics have all the strengths, and flaws, of being tangible, which is actually a virtue in itself.

So fold your comic and stick it in your back pocket AND fire up digital on your iPad.

Either way…it’s COMICS!!

That’s 30!


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Requiem For The True Superman

As this was “The Summer Of The Superhero Movie”, I was going to be writing about my opinion on the best ever SH movie. In my opinion that continues to be Superman-The Movie. The idea began to germinate in my mind when I went to see Captain America and found that it shared a quality with the earlier film that I think is essential in a great superhero film (or any film for that matter). The central character must be HONEST. The actor must take the subject matter absolutely seriously even when it is in the fantastical realm of science fiction or fantasy. This is especially crucial with an Iconic character such as Cap or Superman. Chris Evans was so successful as Cap because he was HONEST as an actor with the character.

Because HE believed, WE believed.

No one ever did this better than Chris Reeve as Superman. In fact he may have been the single most honest actor I have ever seen. Not necessarily the most talented, although he was certainly that, just the most honest. He respected Superman…was honest in his portrayal and never made light of the Man of Steel. And while his CLARK was over the top, he was also a very HUMAN being. Again, honesty.
As I mentioned earlier this WAS going to be a column about my take on Superman-The Movie but then I got to thinking that the anniversary of Christopher’s death was coming up. Sure enough when I looked it up the anniversary is October 10th.

So I decided that this column would be why I do believe that Superman was an absolutely REAL person.

In the final analysis you can best judge a person’s essential character when they are under duress. MOST people shine when things go well. But how does a person react when they have everything stripped away?

One can say that up until his accident, Chris reeve lead a storybook life. He was a major motion picture star, had legions of fans, a lovely wife and many causes that he supported. It must have been pretty cool to be Chris!
Then, in a blink the single most important thing he had was stripped from him. His health. He went from being a vital, athletic man to near total paralysis. Many people would have turned towards the wall, given up, or even turned bitter. Many people would have grown angry and lashed out at those around them. I am sure that Chris struggled with all of this.
But what he DID was become the real Superman.

He embraced his lifelong activism more than ever, championing the necessity for Stem Cell research. He became a spokesman for this cause, tirelessly working to get the message out.

Reeve was elected Chairman of the American Paralysis Association and Vice Chairman of the National Organization on Disability. He co-founded the Reeve-Irvine Research Center, which is now one of the leading spinal cord research centers in the world. He created Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation to speed up research through funding, and to use grants to improve the quality of the lives of people with disabilities. The Foundation to date has given more than $65 million for research, and more than $8.5 million in quality-of-life grants.

The Foundation has funded a new technology called "Locomotor Training" that uses a treadmill to mimic the movements of walking to help develop neural connections, in effect re-teaching the spinal cord how to send signals to the legs to walk. This technology has helped several paralyzed patients walk again.

He never quit. He believed that, one day he would walk again. He never waivered from that belief for the rest of his life. AND he shocked his doctors by actually regaining some movement.

In 2000, he began to regain some motor function, and was able to sense hot and cold temperatures on his body. Reeve then moved his left index finger on command. "I don't think Dr. McDonald would have been more surprised if I had just walked on water", said Reeve in an interview.

Chris WAS going to win. I really believe that Superman was going to fly again.

He just ran out of time.

On October 10, 2004 Chris Reeve died from cardiac arrest after being given antibiotics for an infection.

But he never gave up.

And that was his victory.

There is a line at the beginning of the 1970’s Bio-Pic “Brian’s Song”. It goes: “All true stories end in death.”

Chris’s life was a true story so it could not end any other way. But I like to think more about how he lived than how he died. And I especially like to think about how he left…



I believe in Superman.

He’s my hero.

His name was Christopher Reeve.

That’s 30.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Pre Comic-Con This N’ That

Well NYCC is less than a month away and it looks like, once again it is going to be a blast! Attendees who purchased their tickets prior to the mailing this week should be seeing heir passes in a few days. I myself am posting my ever watchful dog Scully at the mailbox just to make sure there are no mishaps! Of course she DOES sleep most of the day so the “ever watchful” part is probably more like the “occasional glance”…and now that I think of it, the only thing Scully ever really looks at is her supper dish. Oh well, she IS furry and often wags her tail so all is not lost.
This year the Show is going to be over FOUR days, Thursday-Sunday October 13-16. For those of you who are going for the first time, prepare yourselves!

Below is my tried and true , well not actually TRUE true…more like semi true in the sense of not being exactly false…NYCC Survival guide!
1) Make use of the tools and schedule posted on the New York Comic Con Official Website. ( ). They have everything from floor maps to panel and show schedules, a list do’s and don’ts, booth locations for every dealer and show exclusives. This is all tied into an online show planner tool so you can print out your master plan! Trust me, you will NOT be able to attend every event at the Con. If you go in blind you will likely miss that ONE event you want to see most. So spending a few hours with the Show Planner is time well spent.
2) Arrive EARLY on the day of the Con. It is an absolute madhouse and it is very easy to find yourself still waiting to get in a good hour after the convention starts. Get into Manhattan early, have a BIG breakfast (you are going to need it! But more on food in a bit), and be among the first on line. One of the best times at the Con, for me, is chatting to people who are waiting to get into the show. It is a great opportunity to make new friends who share your passion for comics.
3) Bring a shopping “kit”. Believe me you don’t want to be walking around the floor with your swag dropping behind you. My kit consists of a good sized back pack with the following: two or three very sturdy shopping bags, a poster tube, bags and boards for any loose comics, Comic Book Price Guide, Folder with my show plan print outs, camera and extra batteries, and some snacks.
4) Ok, let’s talk food. You do NOT want to buy food inside the Javits Center. It is not bad by any means but it IS expensive and if you are like me, you have a limited budget. I for one would rather spend my dough on collectibles and not a $6 hot dog. Eat before you come in, slide a bag lunch or snack into your kit, and go OUT for dinner. There are several reasonably priced eating options outside the Javits Center. Believe me you ARE going to need to eat and refuel as NYCC will severely test your endurance!
5) We all know that one of the main reasons we attend the Con in the first place is to satisfy our UNBRIDLED AVARICE! When I look around at all that swag and all those dealers I feel like an Orange Lantern! Larfleeze Lives! MINEMINEMINE!!! BUT you can’t have everything so you need to maximize your bucks. Take the time to make a shopping list. What items are you aggressively hunting? Which are “nice to have” and which are low priority? Set a drop dead price for your items. Don’t over spend on a collectible. You may not get it at the Con but it WILL come your way down the road at your price if you are realistic in your expectations. Don’t go ANYWHERE without your trusty price guide. A CBG or Overstreet guide is a must in your kit. Second, shop around! Chances are that several dealers have the items you want. Don’t be afraid to bargain (just be polite and reasonable) and do your buying at the END of the day, preferably the end of the day on Sunday. Why? Dealers always give their best prices at the end of a show. Also anything you buy early, you are going to have to carry around for the rest of the day (unless you have a VIP pass and access to the VIP lounge).
6) FREE STUFF! Even if you don’t spend a DIME on a single comic or collectible you can go home with BAGS of free swag, from comics, to tee shirts, toys, posters…you name it. This should be your first hunter/gatherer activity because the best swag always goes FIRST. Hit the smaller companies first because they generally run out of give a ways before the big guys like Marvel and DC.
7) PACE YOURSELF. Especially if you are attending all four days you are going to need to take some breaks just to get away from the crowds. Breaks are the best time to find a quiet place and organize your swag/purchases to make sure they are not being damaged or lost. It is also a good idea to use breaks as a way to hook up with people you are attending the show with. Over the course of the day you WILL get separated so having a set time and place for a break will cut down on the “OMG!! I lost my little brother” syndrome.
8) Secure your personal electronics and your money. You are going to be sharing space with 100,000 people and on Saturday in particular you won’t be able to MOVE on the main floor. It is easy to lose your I-Pod, Cell phone or money if you don’t keep them secured properly. Plus, as much as we don’t like to think so, not everyone is honest. People WILL try to take your stuff if you tempt them by leaving it within easy reach. Keep your money in a front pocket and not in a wallet or purse. Think about living without your I-Pod (LEAVE IT HOME!)for the day and make sure your cell phone is secure on your person. Also, most of the transactions you will make will be in cash. While it is rare to find a dealer who will try to cheat you with change and such, they ARE handling so much money at the same time that it is EASY to make a mistake. It is ultimately YOUR responsibility to make sure you account for all of your change on purchases. COUNT it right there in front of the dealer before you leave the booth. A little vigilance will keep your weekend from being ruined by loss or theft.
9) One of my personal pet peeves is people dominating an autograph line. Nothing is more inconsiderate than bringing a BOX of items for a creator to sign. They have a limited amount of time to sign and if they burn up ten minutes of the hour on one person then other fellow collectors are going to go away disappointed. Don’t be a part of that problem. Three items or less is plenty and will help the line move along!
10) FINALLY make sure to tell everyone you meet that YOU shop at the very best comic shop in the world. Comic Book Jones! (Ok it’s a shameless plug but then I am a shameless guy !)
By now I don’t have to tell anyone that I am a die hard DC Universe Online NUT! Well if a wide open world full of DC goodness did not draw you in. If the addition of Green Lantern power sets and content wasn’t enough to get you to take the plunge. If the opportunity to join a league with ME (Coldfire!) didn’t grab you (Though that SHOULD have sent you running!), then how does FREE TO PLAY grab you??!!

(That’s ME above. ICONIC huh? :) )

Yup, coming at the end of October the good folks at SOE are making DCUO (DC Universe Online to you noobs!) free to play. Of course there are Premium and Legendary tiers that you can pay for but you can get into the world of DCU, play all the in game content and even join a League for NO bucks! I look at it as a great introduction to the game. A chance to dip your feet in and see if you like it. THEN you might decide to opt for a full access LEGENDARY plan that (among other things) allows you to have unlimited in game cash, 16 characters or more, free updates and full voice chat options. Both the PC and PS3 versions of the game will be going F2P!
NOW is the time for you to suit up and take down Brainiac!... Storming the inner Batcave to defeat brother Eye alongside SEVEN other team mates never gets old…and who would NOT want to become a member of the Justice League (you get THAT opportunity when you hit level 30!)?
And THAT’S 30!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


It’s almost impossible o believe but it has been a decade since the Towers fell on 9/11. So much has changed since then. A generation has past and 9/11 has moved from “current events” to history. This week I am going to share a column I wrote a day or so after the attack. It was originally printed in The Staten Island Advance.
No pictures this week.

No videos.

Just a remembrance from those days:

I took the Staten Island Ferry to NY this morning, as I have countless days
from the time I was in High School, through my days at Hunter College and
for the past two decades working in the "city that never sleeps". In all
respects the trip was exactly the same as it has been every one of those
thousands of days...except it wasn't.

As I came through the turnstiles on the Staten Island side, I found myself
looking for faces. The familiar faces that we ignore every day, but are so
much part of the background of our lives. I didn't see many. Perhaps I will
see more tomorrow.

I stopped for my morning coffee at the Dunkin Doughnuts stand. The same
middle eastern man who always serves my coffee with a smile and a good
morning. Except he didn't smile today. He looked hurt. Maybe he'll smile
tomorrow. I hope so.

I took the very same seat on the boat as I always do. Usually I open my
coffee and bury my face in a book or read the sports pages. Today I didn't.
Today I took a minute to really taste my coffee. Funny...most days it has no
taste at all. This morning it was the best cup I ever had. I hope it tastes
this good tomorrow.

I continued to look for familiar faces. People who also take the same seats
every day. I did see one young lady that I "know". She usually travels with
her friend. She wasn't there today. Maybe tomorrow. I hope so.

I stood out on the foredeck as we passed the Statue of Liberty. Funny how I
never really noticed just how beautiful the old lady really is. Was she
standing just a bit straighter today? It must be my least I
think so.

The cloud reaches out over the water this morning and I could smell it while
we were still five minutes from the dock. Everyone was looking at the naked
skyline, now barren of it's grandest symbol. The eyes of my fellow
passengers became very hard. Not anger...not fear...something else.
Something that told me that I wouldn't want to get into a fight with us. As
for me, I glanced over to the Empire State Building. She dominates the
skyline once more. How lonely she looks.

Walking up past Battery Park to Bowling Green Station, every eye was turned
up Lower Broadway. The Towers and the shade she cast downtown now gone. The
acrid smoke brought coughs from many people. We wore the coughs somewhat
proudly I think. It was sort of like doing penance.
Perhaps the air will clear tomorrow.

On the train a pretty girl smiled and said good morning to me. Normally
suspicion or shyness would have prevented that. Will she smile tomorrow? I
hope so.

My shoes still have the dust that collected on them last Tuesday when I
walked along South Street to the Ferry.
I noticed the shoeshine stand in Grand Central was back to normal. Several men were having their shoes shined. I'm not quite ready to part with my dust just yet.

Maybe tomorrow.

Stay Safe...and always remember


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Goodbye...Farewell and Amen Redux

One of my favorite words in the English language is “bittersweet”. The expressions is wonderfully textured, promising sadness and happiness within the same experience. I often find this experience in music and film.

The final scene in Casablanca when Bogart sends Bergman off with her husband even though they both wish to stay with each other is bittersweet. The parting hurts but doing what they both know to be right is the sweetness that leavens the pain.

Sinatra at 50 in his seminal Reprise Album “September Of My Years” waxes bittersweet in such songs as “The Way You Look Tonight”
Some day, when I'm awfully low,
When the world is cold,
I will feel a glow just thinking of you...
And the way you look tonight

Final episodes of well loved TV shows can be bittersweet. One of the most memorable images I can remember on television is the final shot of the last episode of M*A*S*H* “Goodbye, Farewell and Amen”

It is never an easy thing to say “goodbye” to things that are dear to you.

Friends, lovers….chocolate chip ice cream.

Saying “goodbye” can be very…


Just so we’re clear here…I HATE SAYING GOODBYE!

So how does this all tie out to comic books?

Glad you Poozers asked!

For a DC comics fan like MOI (or even just me) this last week has been especially bittersweet. A bunch of final issues have come down the pipe to make room for the new 52 coming the first week in September. Supergirl, Powergirl, Superboy, Justice League Of America, Batman and on and are all singing their swan songs.

Considering that there are very FEW things I dislike more than saying “goodbye” , I had a very bittersweet week.

I am going to miss Stephanie Brown. She came a long way as Batgirl but she never lost her Buffyesque take on life.

Connor Kent finally finds comfort in his own skin…but that “skin” is going to go through some pretty radical changes…so will Kara’s.

Clark and Bruce are going to have to rediscover a friendship that made them “World’s Finest”…if they rediscover it at all.

Saying goodbye to Oracle is going to be especially hard because she may just be the most remarkable hero in all of the DC Universe.

But here’s the thing…

In my experience, “goodbyes” are almost always balanced by some pretty wonderful “hellos”. For every actor who leaves the stage, another enters.
So it will be with…DC!

Oracle with go or change but Barbara Gordon will be reclaiming the title “Batgirl”

Kara Zor-El is still going to be Supergirl, though word has it that, most of the time, she will be a bit…cranky.

We are going to rediscover the wonder of watching a young man from another planet become the greatest hero of all time.

There is going to be a new, and from the looks of it, dynamic Justice League Of America.

Oh and Batman will be…Batman.

Some things never change!

I suspect that Johns and company at DC will stay very close to the core elements of all these beloved characters. Myths change with the time but the essential story is eternal.

I will miss my old friends, some of whom have been around since the last real DC reboot in the mid 80’s. Others we have picked up along the way.
It has been a wonderful journey.

And I have heard many fans who feel a bit betrayed by all of this. As if DC is just casting aside their characters AND their established fan base in an effort to engage a new generation of readers.

Yeah…it took me a couple of years to warm up to Captain Picard and “The Next Generation” but once I did, THEY became old friends too.
And here’s another thing…

Old friends, like favorite books never really leave us.
We can always visit with them again.

Farewell old friends….Welcome new friends. I am betting the new journey will be every bit as much fun as the last one!

That’s 30!


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Popcorn please!

In days of yore (or mine as the case may be) there was a Saturday morning entertainment known as the Movie Serial. These films were chapter plays running between 10 and 20 minutes with a new segment being released each week.

These serials were also called "chapter plays". In essence they were motion pictures broken into a number of segments called "chapters" or "episodes". Each chapter would be screened at the same theater for one week. The serial would end with a cliffhanger in which the hero and heroine would find themselves in a situation from which there apparently could be no escape. Viewers would have to return in subsequent weeks to see the cliffhangers resolved and to follow the continuing story. To my knowledge no one ever actually “died” from hanging off the cliff.

Made on an extremely limited budget, using unknown or “C” list talent. Serials were quickly cranked out and fed into the movie theater chains of the day.

Movie Serials were especially popular with children. From the silent era and “Perils Of Pauline’ (1914) through the 1950’s, the chapter play was a Saturday staple. The advent of television would eventually spell the demise of this particular art form.

During the peak of their popularity, Movie Serials were dominated by Westerns, but virtually every genre from crime drama to horror was used in these chapter plays.

During the Golden Age of movie serials (1937-1945) the subject matter turned to what we refer to as “genre” sci-fi and of course Superheroes began to show up and eventually dominate the form. Both Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers were especially successful and made a star of former Olympian Buster Crabbe.

The honor of being the very first comic book superhero, to appear in a serial was Fawcett’s Captain Marvel (although The Green Hornet who’s origins lay in radio appeared a year earlier). Made in 1941 this 12 part chapter play was produced by republic Pictures and starred Tom Tyler in the titular role. While Captain Marvel did not have the light hearted, humorous nature of the comic books, the Serial was very successful and is looked upon today as one of the very best sound era chapter plays.

With the success of The Adventures Of Captain Marvel, the flood gates opened. Batman, Captain America, Blackhawk and, of course Superman followed over the next few years. Superman and Atom Man Vs. Superman (1948 and 1950 respectively) were both quite popular and also just about the last gasp of a dying art form. The Superman serials starred former song and dance man Kirk Alyn in the titular role and an impossibly young Noel Neill as Lois Lane. (Neill would later replace Phyllis Coates on TV’s Adventures Of Superman and is the actress most connected to the role).

While Captain America and Batman bore little resemblance to their comic book counterparts. Captain America, in fact was originally a different character entirely and pretty much only the costume was changed. This made little difference, however to the millions of kids who flocked to the theaters each Saturday to follow the adventures of their favorite comic book heroes.

Yes, these comic book adaptations were crude and low budgeted. The scripts often bore little resemblance to the source matter. (Though the Superman serials WERE fairly faithful adaptations given the limitations of budget and special effects). The actors were strictly ham and eggers. BUT the super hero chapter plays did prove that comic book characters were marketable film properties and inevitably lead to the summer blockbuster films of today such as 2011’s Captain America and Thor.

That’s 30!


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Ok you Poozers, who thinks they have what it takes to join THE CORPS?!

Like thousands of gamers around the world I have been playing DC Universe Online since launch…and having one HELL of a time. The MMORPG released by Sony Online Entertainment for the PS3 and PC, drops the player into the sprawling DC universe with a plethora of powers and skill sets available. The character creation is extensive, allowing you to customize everything from the color of your hair to the type of weapons you carry. The player can choose to be a flier, a speedster or even a Spiderman style acrobat.
On top of that, DCU Online is an ACTION RPG. Unlike most MMO’s where you click an option and wait for your avatar to carry out the action, in DCU you are mashing button combos like crazy. Which works perfectly in creating the frenetic atmosphere that is the daily life’s breath of your average meta-human!

Despite some early technical issues which are common to any new MMO, DC Universe Online is a hoot and has generated a rabid player base. But there has always been one thing missing…

Green Lantern powers! While there are missions where you fight alongside the Emerald Avenger and against Sinestro’s forces, the player (YOU) could not wield hard light powers.

That is about to change with DCU’s first expansion pack, “Fight For The Light”. While you will not actually become a Green Lantern yourself you CAN become a Corps reservist and your own shiny ring. And I am not just talking power beams here. Your GL ring will allow you to create CONSTRUCTS and chain them together creatively to unleash devastating attacks and powerful protection.

Sheild yourself with a huge baseball? Yup.

Wield a hard light chain saw? You got it.

Run over a villain with a green…FREIGHT TRAIN??!! You bet!

The reservists' ring is programmed with a greatest hits of the constructs that have been used in the core.

In addition to the POWERS, new worlds from the Green Lantern cannon will open up, including a jail break on OA and encounter with Atrocitus plus all new alerts, duos and challenges!

Fight For The Light will release later this summer at ONLY $9.99! This is a great jumping on point for anyone who has been thinking about playing the game. If you are a DC fan, a comics fan or an MMO player you will NOT be disappointed!

If you DO decide to jump into the world of DCU Online for PS3, look me up on the RELENTKESS server. My toon is Coldfire and their just MIGHT be a league invite in it for you!

That’s 30!


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

DC Reboot? It’s Not The First Time!

As just about anyone not stationed at the North Pole knows, DC Comics is planning a company wide reboot this fall. All of it’s mainline titles (52 in all) are getting a fresh make over. From Superman losing his underpants to the return of Barbara Gordon to the mantle of the Bat, it’s an all new DC coming your way.

To say that a lot of fans are up in arms over this turn of events is something of an understatement. Just surf the comic sites and you will see tons of forum threads castigating the “destruction” of the DCU. I have even seen reports about an organized protest at the SDCC!

I’m just not sure what all the hubbub is about…bub.

It’s not exactly the first time that DC has rebooted the DCU, chucking decades of back story and cannon.

Anyone here remember “Crisis On Infinite Earths” from way back in 1985? COIE was a 12 issue mini-series that essentially wiped out all of the DC continuity that had been built up since 1958 and the introduction of The Flash in Showcase #4.

And it was not a BAD thing.

Over the years DC had built up a convoluted and intricate continuity. So much so that, in order to hold it all, they had to create a multiverse of alternate earth’s to explain all of the inconsistencies that had built up over decades of story telling and editorial changes.

For long time readers this lush and textured universe was easy to understand and navigate. It was, however very off putting to new readers. It was just not possible to jump into a mainstream DC title in 1983 and “get” all the nuances and subtleties that had been built up in the various characters. Marvel, which was much younger simply did not have that problem…yet.

The solution that DC comics came up with was to wipe the slate clean and start all over. This was done in the dimension sweeping Crisis on Infinite Earths.

All of the alternate realities were wiped clean. Extraneous characters were done away with (including my beloved Superpets! *sniff!*). Iconic characters such as Barry Allen and Kara-Zor-El were killed off. When the dust settled there was just a single earth and a single DC Universe. Superman was once again the SOLE survivor of the doomed Planet Krypton, there was no Justice Society, No Golden Age Superman or Batman…no SUPERBOY!
At the time that COIE hit the stands a lot of fans were pretty upset about this. (sound familiar) They were SURE that the DC editors had betrayed their loyal readers. Many threatened to jump ship!

But a funny thing happened. The books were suddenly fresh and new approaches were actually GOOD. It wasn’t too long before fans forgot all about the Pre-Crisis DCU. Old timers like me still remembered the stories but the NEW DCU had been embraced by the fans. Sure, we still missed Barry and Supergirl, and Barbara would wind up as Oracle, but the stories were good and the DCU continued to turn.

Over the years many of the story elements that had been done away with returned. Even Krypto came back! Supergirl returned, The Justice Society did too, and all of a sudden we are 30 years removed from the last reboot.

In short we have reached a Flashpoint.

It’s time to start again.

What fun!

Comics should always belong to the younger generation of fans coming in, just as they belonged to all us “old timers” whether we came in during the Golden Age, Silver or Bronze ages…even the “modern age”. Maybe we will come to call this new generation of comics “the Diamond Age”.

And we can ALWAYS go back and enjoy all of the great stories that came before. They are no less valid or “real” they are stories. And good stories, like old friends can be visited again and again.

So I for one plan to give DC a chance, even if they did rob Superman of his underpants.

That’s 30!


Oh and here's a treat! The trailer from DC Animated's newest release. Coming this fall...

Batman Year 1!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Upcoming Events!


Here it is, the BIG ONE! Everyone's been waiting for this movie and it's certain to be the big blockbuster superhero movie of the summer. Bigger than Thor and Green Lantern combined, I'm sure of it! It all goes down on Thursday, July 21st, starting at 9pm. Grab your ticket to the midnight showing and head down to the store for some snacks, drinks and a super special sale where you can save anywhere from 15% - 70% off everything in the store! We're expecting it to be pretty packed so get here early!


This will be taking place on Friday, July 15th and will be a $25 sealed tournament. It starts at 4pm and like the pre-release there will be special release promos specific for that day. This day we'll also have plenty of merchandise for the new set including booster packs, sealed boxes, intro packs and fat packs. It's like Magic Christmas!


Hit the bins! We'll be ending the month of July in style with a big bad Back Issue Sale! It will start on Monday, July 25th and run until Sunday, July 31st. Here's the deal, every day that goes by the more of a discount you'll get. We'll start with a 10% discount on Monday and increase it 10% every day until we culminate with 70% off all back issues on Sunday, July 31st! For anyone who might be confused:

Monday, July 25th - 10% off all back issues!
Tuesday, July 26th - 20% off all back issues!
Wednesday, July 27th - 30% off all back issues!
Thursday, July 28th - 40% off all back issues!
Friday, July 29th - 50% off all back issues!
Saturday, July 30th - 60% off all back issues!
Sunday, July 31st - 70% off all back issues!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Upcoming Events!


On Sunday, July 10th we will be holding another Customer Appreciation Sale because we love you! There are a couple of different ways to save and you have an opportunity to get a bigger discount just for doing something insanely simple. So, everyone gets a 20% discount off everything in the store just for showing up! There's much more though:

Some of you may know about our other business - helping people save money on their gas and electric bills. Come in, bring your utility bills and allow us to show you how you can save money on your bills. It's real easy! If you bring in one of your utility bills (either gas or electric) you'll receive 25% off everything! But, bring in both your gas and electric utility bills and you'll receive an additional 10% off for a total of 30% off everything in the store!

BUT, there's even more! If you decide to become a customer (it's absolutely free and you're guaranteed to save money on your monthly bills, we'll tell you how), you'll get even more of a discount on Sunday. Become a customer with either your gas or electric and receive 35% off everything in the store or with both your gas and electric and get 40% off everything in the store!

There's even more added incentive for bringing in your bills. Everyone who brings them in and becomes a customer will receive a ticket which will guarantee you a prize of either a $40 gas rebate card, 3-day/2-night getaway, free Companion airfare ticket, 7-night vacation or an Apple I-Pad! Winners will be announced on the spot.

So, here it is again: Just for coming in you get 20% off everything in store. Bring in one of your utility bills (either gas or electric) and receive 25% off everything in the store. Bring in both and receive 30% off . Become a customer with either your gas or electric and receive 35% off everything in the store or sign up with both and receive 40% off everything in the store plus a ticket to win one of the prizes mentioned above!


Potter fans unite! The long awaited conclusion of the Harry Potter series is finally here - Harry Potter & the Deathly Hollows Part 2! Grab your ticket to the midnight showing (or one of the many late night showings they have) on Thursday, July 14th (technically Friday morning) and then come down to the store starting at 9pm for a special Potter-inspired tailgate party! We'll have food, drinks and a special sale where everything in the store will be between 15% - 70% off! At our last tailgate party everything in the store was 45% off!

Feel free to bring your own booze if you like, we do tend to run out. Also, many showings of this movie have already sold out so we suggest you get your tickets ASAP! See you there!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Deconstructing Captain America

It is only a few weeks until Captain America will make his major motion picture debut! I know there was an earlier movie, a TV pilot, The Merry Marching Marvel Society and various animated appearances but THIS is the big time. An “A” list picture with all the fanfare that goes with it.

I’ve enjoyed Thor and Green Lantern this summer but THIS is the one I’ve been waiting for. My hope is that Cap will have the sort of debut that Superman had back when Chris Reeve first authored the part.

The early buzz is certainly encouraging, and every trailer I’ve seen sucks you right in!

As is the case with every major Superhero movie, interest in the character goes up as we get closer to the release date. With that in mind I thought I might take a swing at deconstructing captain America for those of you who may be new to the character. Bear in mind that this is only MY take on Cap.
To understand the essential core of the character it is important to have a feel for the time in which he was created. Cap first saw print as we were about to enter WWII.

It is easy today to overlook the fact that, in 1941, there was a real sense that The Third Reich would indeed last 1000 years. Hitler’s Germany had already conquered most of Europe, forged an alliance with Imperial Japan and a non-aggression pact (that they would eventually violate) with Russia. There seemed to be little that would even slow down the Nazi juggernaut. It was this threat that slowly pulled the United States from it Post WWI isolationist stance and transformed us into a player on the world stage. Part of that transformation required…symbols. Iconography for people to rally around. Patriotic songs, films, frankly racist imagery portraying the enemy as sub human and close censorship were all vital parts of that propaganda machine.

What better iconography could there be than a red, white and blue avenger decked out in the American Flag, socking the Nazi paper hanger square on the jaw? Thus was born Captain America. At his core Cap is the idolized image of America’s ultimate protector.

In all the years since his debut that essential fact has not changed.

Cap remains the protector of the American Idea.

HOW he protects it has changed many times.

During WWII he was the physical antithesis of the Nazi Ubermensch.

In the early 50’s it was Captain America “Commie Hunter”

During the Viet Nam Era it was Captain America as a man out of his time still fighting the good fight.

POST Viet Nam Cap articulates for the first time that he is not the protector of any single administration, party or political belief. He is instead the protector of the core IDEA that the Founding Fathers based this country on…liberty for all people. This revelation comes at a time when, so disillusioned by the corruption in government, Cap drops his red white and blue trappings for the personality of Nomad.

Most recently, Cap has been out of uniform filling the shoes of Nick Fury but that has not felt right either to Cap or anyone else.

In the latest issue of Fear Itself, Cap dons his uniform again and is simply, Captain America protector of THE PEOPLE.

In all of his incarnations going back some seven decades Captain America has been the idolized icon of American strength and virtue. He has at times reflected the extreme jingoism that periodically sweeps any nation. At other times he has been a counter culture champion.

His very iconography, the American Flag, labels him to friends AND enemies of America so he is by definition polarizing.

All of these facets make Cap endlessly fascinating to read and I imagine, fascinating to create.

For all of these things though, it important to remember one thing…

Cap is the hero by which all other Marvel heroes are measured. He is the example.

Captain America….HERO.

That’s 30!


Thursday, June 23, 2011

By now you have all read the spate of negative reviews on Green Lantern. Over the past several days I have also heard a lot of comic fans chiming in their disappointment. As with all things reviewable one opinion is as valid as the next. So for all of those who disliked the film, I am here to present the loyal opposition!

For me Green Lantern was a classic Saturday afternoon pop-corn eater. While it certainly was not the Godfather, or even Iron Man, GL was a healthy dose of Sci-Fi Superhero fun. The action was well paced and the cast was likeable.

Most of all, the movie stayed true to the basic character of both Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps.

When DC first revived their Golden Age Superheroes (GL, Flash, Hawkman, Atom etc.) they made a decision to modernize . To revamp the character origins and motivations from a more magic based mythology to something more akin to Science Fiction. Thus The Flash got his speed from a lab accident, The Atom was a scientist who invented a shrink ray, and Hal got his powers from a highly advanced form of technology.

Jordan in particular was modeled after the Mercury Astronauts like John Glenn, Alan Shepard and Gus Grissom as well as the legendary test pilot Chuck Yeager, who was the first man to break the sound barrier. His adventures were hell bent for leather space operas. Along with Mystery In Space, Green Lantern was DC’s most space spanning title.
In this area the film is absolutely faithful to the GL mythology. It’s big…with aliens…and space ships…galaxy spanning fights…and lots of green construct goodness.

Right in the middle of all this is Ryan Reynolds, all thumbs up and envelope pushing in the truest 1960’s NASA tradition. He has that sort of “what the hell” quality that when leavened with the humility and post 80’s angst that we expect in our Superheroes, makes his Hal Jordan accessible to the audience.

Who can complain about any movie that has Kiliwog and Tomar Re, OA and the Guardians, a VERY creepy Hector Hammond and an equally leggy Carol Ferris?

PLUS can anyone say they DIDN’T get just a SMALL lump in their throat when Reynolds says the Oath?!

My only complaint is that we did not get nearly enough Mark strong as Sinestro. He dominated every second he was on the screen. And here is the big weakness of the film. Sinestro is Hal’s arch nemesis, not Parallax. Parallax, quite frankly always struck me as a bit “second tier” in the bad guy department. However, since this was an origin flick, Sinestro is still a Green Lantern and NOT a bad guy.

One can only hope he goes to the “Yellow Side” for any sequel.
Green Lantern may not be The Godfather, or even The Dark Knight, but is sure is a lot of fun and well worth a viewing!

Oh and by the way, make sure to check out the GL ANIMATED SERIES this fall!!

That’s 30!


Thursday, June 16, 2011

The New DCU Line Up!

Well here it is boys and girls! The complete launch list of 52 titles for the coming DC Comics Reboot. It looks like DC will be running up some horror titles in their main line. For the most part horror titles have been regulated to the Vertigo line. This is hardly surprising given the fact that horror and Vampires in particular are enjoying widespread popularity at the moment. I am kind of bummed that Powergirl is noticeably absent. Also no Justice Society, but on the other hand who wouldn’t be excited about Frankenstein Agent Of Shade. I don’t even know what that one is about ! But it SOUNDS cool!!!

While I am going to miss Stephanie Brown as Batgirl and I would have been happier had Superman kept his under ware, I AM going to give this reboot a fair shot and I HOPE that I am blown away by the all new DC comics line.

Action Comics
All-Star Western
Animal Man
Batman and Robin
Batman: The Dark Knight
Birds of Prey
Blue Beetle
Captain Atom
DC Universe Presents
Demon Knights
Detective Comics
Frankenstein, Agent of SHADE
Green Arrow
Green Lantern
Green Lantern Corps
Green Lantern: The New Guardians
Hawk & Dove
I, Vampire
Justice League
Justice League Dark
Justice League International
Legion Lost
Legion of Superheroes
Mister Terrific
Red Hood and the Outlaws
Red Lanterns
Resurrection Man
Sgt. Rock and the Men of War
Static Shock
Suicide Squad
Swamp Thing
Teen Titans
The Flash
The Fury of Firestorm
The Savage Hawkman
Wonder Woman

And for those who have never seen it. This is the opening cinematic from DCU Online. What a movie THIS would make!

That’s 30!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Some Stuff!

It was with some trepidation that I went to see X-men First Class this past weekend. After the very successful and GOOD X-Men the franchise steadily declined into mediocrity. I’m pleased to say that this movie returns the series to it’s former top flight status.

I realize that purists will have some issues with the way the origin stories and timelines were shuffled around a bit. I won’t deny that the film makers played loose with cannon. But as a MOVIE I thought First Class was entertaining and accessible to audience members that may not be comic book fans. And what can be wrong with that.

In particular I got a big kick out of the not so subtle homage to such early James Bond films as Dr. No, From Russia With Love and Goldfinger! The film being set mostly in 1962 made it a natural for this type of film style. About the only thing missing was opening “Bond credits” with a hit song and an Aston Martin for Professor X to drive. I was not surprised to see that the film was shot at Pinewood, the home of Bond. In fact I would be delighted to see Michael Fassberger take up the mantle of 007 after Daniel Craig is through with it! Not only did he do a great job as Magneto, Fassberger is a legit action/adventure type in the mold of Matt Damon. James McAvoy was spot on as Charles and Jennifer Laurence was surprisingly touching as Raven.

Kevin Bacon was an interesting choice for Sebastian Shaw and I thought he carried it off quite well. Bacon is a tremendously talented actor and added a lot of nuance to what could have been just another two dimensional villain.

There were some great cameos for long time fans but I won’t spoil that for those who have not seen it yet.

So DC is rebooting their entire line. I am never opposed to a reboot! Cleaning cannon every now and then allows new readers to come in and not have to pick up on a decade or more of back story. It doesn’t render previous stories invalid. It just allows for a fresh take on familiar characters.

Having said that I AM a bit concerned over Barbara Gordon taking up the Batgirl mantle again. Not because I did not enjoy her in that role. It is just that ORACLE is such an important character on so many levels that I have to wonder if we won’t ultimately lose more than we gain by this. Watching Barbara overcome her paralysis to become such an integral figure in the DCU has allowed her to grow into, perhaps, THE preeminent hero in comics. Batgirl has, after all, always been a secondary character. Sort of the utility infielder of the Batman family. I just wonder if she isn’t being demoted here. PLUS I think Spethanie Brown is just great as Batgirl!
Well…as with all things new, I’ll wait to see how they execute this change before passing judgment.

James Arness, known to generations of fans as Matt Dillon from the classic TV series Gunsmoke, passed away at age 88 of natural causes. Arness was well known to Sci-Fi fans as the creature in the Howard Hawks Classic “The Thing From Another World” and also from the post atomic “Them!”.
Arness portrayal of Matt Dillon cemented the iconic square jawed Western hero in the American TV audience consciousness just as John Wayne had done for movie goers. In fact the opening of the very first episode of Gunsmoke was introduced by “the Duke” in which he predicted that Arness and the show would be a success.
How right he was. Gunsmoke ran from 1955 through 1975 and an incredible 635 episodes and James Arness was recently voted #6 in the top 100 all time TV heroes.

That’s 30!


Sunday, June 5, 2011

Since I Haven't Done A Gellery For A While....

Since I haven't posted a gallery in a bit I thought I'd share some new Tomb Of Dracula Slabs including a #1! And also a really nice VF copy of Archie #45! Golden Age Archies in higher grades are VERY hard to come by so if you have ANY high grade Archies from the 1940's, 50's or 60's HOLD ON TO THEM! (And also shoot a scan to CBJ or and we'll include them in future galleries!

Oh and here is an unsollicited plug...RUN! Don't walk!!! Go See X Men First Class NOW!!! STAT!!! IMMEDIATELY IF NOT SOONER!

(OK I liked it!)

That's 30!


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Simply The Best

When you go to the Comic Book Jones Website you might notice the small blurb that says the store was voted #1 by Dark Horse fans. You may also be aware that the store is up for ANOTHER very prestigious award, the Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award. Heady stuff indeed!

So what does this all mean? Well these awards are driven by customer nominations and THAT means people are taking time to communicate to the comics community that CBJ is a pretty special place!

Now I will admit that I just MIGHT be a bit biased…(I can tell you’re shocked!) but I concur, Comic Book Jones IS a pretty special place.

Now before I expound further let me point out to those who don’t know. Even though I have been penning this column for some time I am not employed by CBJ, I related to any of the staff, nor has anyone from CBJ bailed me out of jail…recently. I’m a customer just like most of you reading this. I just happen to be a customer who likes to shoot off his (virtual) mouth on any number of subjects, so my opinions are my own! Add to that my basically misanthropic nature and getting compliments out of me is sort of like pulling adamantium from a stone!! I mean I’m the guy who said of Sinatra “nice voice but needs some seasoning!”.

Now that my disclaimer is finished...

What makes a comic store a special place to visit? I mean aside from the fact that most, if not all comic stores are stuffed with all sorts of fascinating items. These days you can buy just about anything you want with a mouse click and there are thousands of specialty shops to choose from, (Staten Island has at least three that I know of) that all have more or less the same items. So unless you happen to live within walking distance of a particular store, why pick one over another? Only one reason that I can think of…

The people.

Comic Book Jones has some pretty amazing people. The people who work there…the people who shop there…the wonderful gifted creators who visit there on a very regular basis…all of them (you) are the reason why people come to CBJ and why the store is so widely regarded as special.

It must have been only a few months after Comic Book Jones first opened that I decided to give it a try. I live in Tottenville and had been shopping at a store elsewhere on Staten island, about the same distance from my house as CBJ. On a whim I decided to give this new place a try. I figured if I didn’t like the place I could always go back to the other joint!

On my first visit I was hooked. Not by the merchandise but by the atmosphere. From day one I was met by people who actually SMILED, who took the time to chat, to know MY name…in short where I was treated more as a FRIEND than as a customer. Nor was I any exception. I quickly saw that the staff treated EVERYONE that way. In fact the FIRST thing Socko asked me after getting my name was if I wanted a cup of coffee! You see there is always a pot of fresh hot Joe for the asking. There are also chairs and couches where customers are ENCOURAGED to sit down and BROWSE. I talked comics and the hobby with the staff and some of the customers in the store for over an hour before I even began shopping! By the end of that first visit I felt as if I had been there for years. Now here is the thing that really sets CBJ aside…when I returned a week later no one had to ask my name or what I might be interested in reading. Socko, Tiger, Waffle…ALL of the staff remembered. The reason they remembered was that they all took the time to actually listen the week before. I can’t tell you how rare that is. And how welcoming. One week in and I was part of the “family”.
Over time I became more interwoven in the community of CBJ and Socko and Tiger asked me if I might like to write an occasional column for the site. They know a HAM when they see one but I think they got more than they bargained for! I think I’ve written over a hundred of these now! (can’t get me to shut up!) And never once was I asked to modify an opinion or change a word. That’s pretty special treatment let me tell you.

Now there was anything wrong with the other joint. It is a nice store and the people are polite. But that’s about it. No reason NOT to shop there, but no reason to go to VISIT. CBJ gives you a reason to visit. It’s not the events (though they are GREAT), not the books or statues or toys…

It’s a cup of coffee on a Saturday when you aren’t even shopping…it’s a long conversation with people who you never met but just happen to be in the store…it’s Gore taking the time to suggest a book you MIGHT like…it’s Waffle putting a variant on the side because he knows you will like it…it’s Tiger who is the may just be a bigger Yankee fan than I am…it’s Socko who absolutely MELTS when he gets around small children…and everyone who I failed to mention but who make coming into CBJ one of the best parts of my week.

It’s people

Onward to San Diego!

That’s 30!


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

They are all 10's!

I have always liked strong, independent female characters. Whether in film or TV, OR in comics. I have never cared much for those eye candy, damsel in distress types as they tend to make for stereotyped role models. While Hollywood has sadly gone backward in this area, both TV and comics are replete with powerful, EMPOWERED female characters. From Scully to Buffy…from Starbuck to Nikita, the roster of strong women continues to grow. With that in mind I thought I would offer up a few words each about my personal favorite female comic book characters. In no particular order, here are my top ten.

Power Girl –Not only is she at superman levels with her powers, she is also a natural leader (JSA All-Stars). Karen is gutsy, decisive and smart. She is someone you believe that other very powerful men and women would willingly follow into battle.

On top of saving the world on a regular basis, PG is also the head of her very own company and has friends who DON’T necessarily dress up in spandex. As we all know Karen Starr tends to “stand out” in a crowd and the way she deals with the way the men around her are distracted by her *ahem* assets is funny, charming and surprisingly real in tone. I get a huge kick out of PG because she does come off as a “real” person with all the foibles and pratfalls we are all subject to.

Of all the characters on this list PG would the most fun on talk radio!

Sue Storm – Of all the female characters on this list, I think sue has come the farthest. As originally constructed, the “Invisible Girl” had a pretty wimpy power, spent her time as a) a hostage and b) mooning over Reed. Well Sue of today sure isn’t your daddy’s Invisible Girl. Today she is clearly the most powerful member of the FF AND co-leader along with Reed Richards. Sue has some serious Force Field Mojo that gives pause to all but the most powerful opponents.
On top of THAT Suzie is also wife, mother and mentor to quite the brood. From her two gifted children to DRAGON MAN, Sue Storm is the rock that holds the group together. Reed may be the brains but Sue is the heart and soul of the FF. A remarkable person.

Of all the characters in this list, PG is the one you’d like to go to a comedy club with!

Batwoman – Kate Kane is just plain TOUGH. Physically…mentally. She could give the big bat himself a pretty fair fight. Her personal code of ethics forbade her lying about her sexual orientation even though it effectively ended her military career. She went through some tough times after that but came out on top. She overcame. Together with her dad acting sort like her personal version of Oracle, Batwoman gets the job done efficiently and professionally.

Of all the characters on this list Kate is the one you want to teach you tactics and military theory.

Supergirl – How would you like to slap a big red “S” on your chest and try to live up to the mantle of Superman himself? How hard would THAT be? Now try doing it as a teenaged girl! A teenaged girl from out of town….WAY out of town.

Now I have been a Supergirl fan since the 1960’s so I am not even going to pretend to be unbiased here. But this version of the Girl of Steel shows a wonderful mix of courage and vulnerability. Kara regularly faces challenges that would give her legendary cousin pause. She does this even though she is not sure she will ever live up to Superman’s example. She overcomes even when she’s afraid. Now THAT’S courage.

Of all the characters on this list Kara is probably the most likely to listen attentively to your problems.

Witchblade – Sara Pezzini is Dirty Harry only TOUGHER. Plus HOT. And that’s not even counting her connection to one of the most powerful forces in the universe. She was seriously bad ass BEFORE that. Sara is regarded as one of the best cops on the force, even though her perps more often than not come in various states of disrepair. Pez is completely no nonsense and that INCLUDES her relationship with her (semi?) sentient weapon. As near as anyone can tell Sara is the first keeper of the blade to share even equal control over the relationship. In my opinion her most admirable character trait is her sense of duty. She has often wanted to relinquish the Witchblade and all the weirdness that goes along with it. But she sticks because she knows there is a job to be done and that she is the best person to do it.

Doesn’t matter if she’s happy with it. It’s her job and she does it.

Of all the characters in this list, Pez is probably the one you’d most want to have a beer with.

The Magdalena – I am about the current Magdalena (Patience) here. I LOVE this character. Here we have a direct descendant of Christ himself and the latest in a long line of divinely empowered holy warriors who DOES NOT TRUST THE VATICAN! And with good reason. They see her merely as a weapon while Patience wants a life AND a reason for what she does. She is not content to merely take orders from the church. Patience wants to know WHY she is being aimed at her foes. She sees herself as a person and a warrior, NOT a tool. Talk about conflict. I mean she trusts Vampirella more than the Vatican!

Of all the characters on this list patience is the one I want to get my back in a barroom brawl!

Wonder Woman – Diana inspires. She inspires just by the example she sets every day. Like Superman and Batman, Wonder Woman is so much more than just her powers and skills. She’s one of THE BIG THREE. Other heroes want to live up to her example. At her very best Diana is both Warrior and Diplomat. She is an emissary of peace…just sometimes with a sword.

In comic book history and popular culture Wonder Woman is the very embodiment of female empowerment. Just ask Denny O’Neill what happened when he tried to depower Diana!

He took away Wonder Woman's powers, exiled her from the Amazon community, and set her off,sans costume, into international intrigues with her blind mentor, the dubiously-named I Ching. These changes did not sit well with Wonder Woman's older fans, such as Gloria Steinem.

Of all the characters on this list Diana is the one I’d most likely become tongue tied with!

Catwoman – You can never tell whether or not Selina is a hero or a villain. She IS the best thief in the DCU though. What makes her so appealing to me is how free she is. Selina follows no rules but her own. She goes where she will, does what she wants and loves at her own discretion. Catwoman is also extremely loyal to her friends and those she cares about. She is SO loyal that even though she knows that Bruce Wayne is Batman she has never betrayed that secret.

Of all the characters on this list I would most want Catwoman with me in a fox hole.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer – Funny, sardonic, super powered, independent AND well dressed? Buffy may just be the coolest hero EVER. Now I won’t talk about Buffy the movie or TV character. Just the comic book hero. What a journey she’s been on! Season Nine has seen her at the head of a Slayer Army, experimenting with her sexuality AND crashing through a mountain whilst having sex with a super powered Angel. Oh and her sister was a centaur and also a Giant. Makes me tired just thinking about it! On a more serious note, Buffy is perhaps as nurturing as Sue Storm. The Scubbies are not just her allies and friends. She sees them as family. When Buffy commits to someone, it’s forever. She even love Faith like a sister, though she’d never admit it.

Of all the characters on this list I would be most likely to invite Buffy to Thanksgiving Dinner.

Oracle – Started out as Batgirl. Shotgunned by the Joker and put in a wheelchair for life and THEN became truly dangerous to criminals as Oracle, hacker supreme. Every time Oracle appears on the comic book page she shows us what true courage is. She is an example of the indomitable spirit that all people are capable of. Plus she is also UBER hot! Barbara single handedly held no Man’s Land together in the early days after the big Quake. She also demonstrates that intellect is a far greater weapon than muscle.

Of all the characters on this list Barbara is the one I would want to coach my little league team!

So that’s my personal top ten. I wanted to squeeze Batgirl in here as I find Stephanie brown one of the most delightful characters in comics but she JUST missed the cut. Make her a solid 10A!

And that’s 30!