Monday, February 21, 2011

And now some items the “Collecting 101” archives….

(A side note here. The “Collecting 101 Archives” are actually stored in a secret government warehouse just two shelves over from the Lost Ark, but as we have misplaced the Ark, it is unlikely that the Archives will surface any time soon.)
First up – The “Keys” to collecting.

If you have been collecting for more than about 20 minutes some other collector, dealer or publication will refer to a certain issue of a certain comic as a “key” issue. A key issue can be:

1) A first appearance of a character (Superman, Spiderman etc.)

2) The first issue of a new book (Avengers #1, FF #1 etc.)

3) The death of a significant character (Gwen Stacy, Johnny storm etc.)

4) A significant change in the direction of a book, character or universe. (Crisis On Infinite Earths, Civil War etc.)

5) The beginning of a run for a creator or creators who make a big impact. (Neal Adams on Green Lantern or Frank Miller on Daredevil etc.)

Not all books that meet this criteria can be considered keys of course. While Daredevil #1 certainly IS a big time Marvel key, one could hardly say that about The Human Fly #1 . The “key’ word to keep in mind is SIGNIFICANT. If the event does not make a big change, it can’t be considered a key.

There are two compelling reasons to keep track of key issues. First, these are landmarks in the evolution of your favorite book/characters and generally have long term impact on the universe they “live” in. Second, keys tend to increase more in value as collectibles than non-keys.

To the second point, there has been a tendency over the last couple of decades to label marginal or obviously insignificant events “keys”. Why? Because it generates a short term spike in the “value” of that book on the back issue market.

My personal favorite of the non-key, keys is the numbering snafu. Every now and then a company will put a book on hiatus and then restart at #1. This is done to reignite interest in a given book or character and to bring new readers into the fold. Sound marketing strategy to be sure. But that does not make the new Iron Man #1 the actual Iron Man #1, especially when the company will, sooner or later revert to the original numbering. You will see dealers at shows bump those books up a few bucks. Beware. They almost always come back down in value. Renumbering does not generate keys.

Variants are not keys. While they are very nice and I collect a lot of them myself, variants are just a different cover. Even variants that are short printed only rarely hold elevated value, and in any event are more in demand because of low print runs. Not because they are keys.

So there you have it. Key issues are fun to collect and will broaden your appreciation of your comics and it’s history, but they are not nearly as plentiful as we have been lead to believe.

Now for something truly mind numbing!

Have you ever gone online to buy a back issue and seen the following…

“Action #242 – VG Solid Grade (CFO,CVR CRS, AD)” and said to yourself…HUH?

Well then you have been exposed to Comic Collector Abbreviation Hell! Few who enter can ever expect to come back alive…unless they have my handy dandy cheat sheet.

Now if that Action #242 ad had actually been written in English it would have said:

“Action #242, Very Good Solid Grade (Center Fold Out, Cover Crease, Arrival Date on Cover)”

That’s a lot clearer BUT also a lot more typing. However those facts might directly effect your decision to buy so you really need to know those abbreviations or it could cost you MONEY!!! With that in mind here are all the abbreviations you will ever need!

ad = Arrival date
bc = back cover
bndry = bindery
brc = bottom right corner
brttl = brittle
bttm = bottom
chew = chewed
chp = chip
cfo = center fold out
cl = cover loose
clr chp = color chip
coa = certificate of authenticity
ct or clr tch = color touch
cnr = corner
crs = crease
cvr = cover
cvrlss = coverless
dst shad = dust shadow
dtch = detached
ext = extra
fc = front cover
fd = faded
fxng = foxing
gl = glossy
grs pncl = grease pencil
int = interior
lft = left
lt = light
lt sub crs = light subs. crease
mnr = minor
mrvl chp = marvel chip
mssng = missing
owp = off white pages
pc = piece
pg = page
pll = pull
r = restored
reinf = reinforced
restpld = restapled
rll = roll
rstd = rusted
slvrfsh = silverfish damage
smll = small
splt = split
spn = spine
stckr = sticker
stmp = stamp
stn = stain
stpl = staple
sub crs = subscription crease
tn = tan
tny = tinny
tp = tape
tr = tear
wp = white paper
ws = water stain
wtr dmg = water damage


By the way – P=Poor, G=Good, VG=Very Good, F=Fine, VF=Fine, VF/NM=Very Fine/Near Mint, NM=Near Mint and M=Mint (good luck with that last one!)

That’s 30!



This week I bring to you a giant rant of reasons why everyone should be reading a few comics that I think are fantastic and deserve some more love than they're being given.

First up is an oldie but a serious goldie..


Most people are familiar with the character of John Constantine thanks to the so-so movie staring Keenu Reeves. If you've been living under a rock in the comic world or just avoid comics that have been going on for a long time and don't think it's a good idea to just jump into a book then you need to rethink that mind frame and check out HELLBLAZER and quick.
John Constantine is the best anti-hero; hero that's ever graced the comics page. John has battled cancer, The Devil and has newly taken on his biggest challenge yet; Marriage!
In the 276 issues that comprise Hellblazer, some of the greatest artists and writers have created some of the most memorable and outstanding stories on the written page.
Such greats as Jaimie Delano, Garth Ennis, Warren Ellis and Peter Milligan, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Simon Bisley and Steve Dillon are just a few that you'll know right off the bat.
I myself have been an on again off again fan of the series for the past 10 years. I've jumped on when the stories were great and jumped off when money was tight. Recently, I've been reconnecting with this great book and rekindled my love for Constantine and his grim outlook on the world. The series is mostly based in England, where John lives and the stories vary from dealing with low level "magicians" to full scale demonic invasions. I strongly suggest if you've never read the series or if you've fallen off reading it for whatever reason, you get back into it and quick because it just gets better and better with each issue.


I've been shouting at the top of my lungs for a long time about this awesome book. Recently picked up by Image after being dropped by Devil's Due Publishing, Hack/Slash is the book that any comic fan can dig. The premise of the story is simple and to the point, Cassie Hack and her partner in crime Vlad, hunt down real life Slashers. (for those of you unaware of what a slasher is, Freddie Krueger, Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees just to name a few)
The series has been around since 2004 with a slew of one-shots and short miniseries by writer and sometime artist Tim Seeley. It finally became an ongoing in 2007 until it was canceled late last year. Thankfully, Image comics recently picked it up and released the aptly titled miniseries "My First Maniac" chronicling Cassie's first mission as a slasher killer.
The comic has been an underground hit and even had some mainstream crossovers with The Suicide Girls, H.P Lovecraft's character Herbert West from Re-animator, Chucky from Child's Play and my good buddies The Living Corpse.
Everything about this comic is awesome. From the fact that the main character is a girl who's not afraid of things that go bump in the night to the ever growing mythology behind the villains and heroes.
I really think that everyone should pick up the 3 Omnibi that Image has released containing everything up until this point to get caught up and snatch the new #1 issue of the new ongoing that came out recently.
This book is great and great under appreciated as far as I'm concerned.
Fans of any horror comics, strong female characters and over the top blood and guts need to get on this book and stat!


Speaking of The Living Corpse, you all need to get on this comic and now!
Created by two awesome friends of mine, this is another underground hit that really needs to see some mainstream love. The book was on Zenescope Comics until they were awkwardly neglected which prompted the guys to take their book and move on. They've come out with 6 issues and an annual featuring Cassie and Vlad of Hack/Slash. Sadly, there was never a trade for the issues but thankfully they'll be coming out soon enough. Luckily if you go on the official Living Corpse website, you might be able to grab all the issues and get some sweet variants or signed copies.
The premise of the story is pretty simple, John Romero was killed and reanimated as a zombie but quickly was given the task of watching the graveyard and keeping all the nasty things that go bump in the night in check. The series was abruptly ended with Zenescope before Buz and Ken could really get the meat and potatoes of the story out. Luckily, the series has been picked up by a yet unnamed publisher (I know who and I'm not telling..haha) and getting the revamp treatment. Also, The Living Corpse Movie is coming out soon and in 3-D! So you really need to do yourself a serious favor and get on this book stat. Like I said if you've never read the series, we have all the issues here at the store or you could try the official website.

With that said, you need to go out and check out these books or else!!!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Great Silver Age Firsts!

This week we have some great DC "Firsts! Afterall comic collectors LOVE those first time events or #1 issues and these are some of my favorites from my collection!

Flash Annual #1

JLA #21 and #22 the very first "Crisis" and the first JLA/JSA crossover

And Superbou Annual #1!
As always feel free to send YOUR scans to for future galleries!
That's 30!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Legion Of Superheroes Gallery!

This week I am showing some of my very favorite comics! These are the great Silver Age Adventure Comics featuring the Legion Of Superheroes!!!

The LSH had actually made it's debut in Adventure #247 and soon were guest starring in titles all across the DC line. However it was not until Adventure #300 that The Legion got it's own title! The LSH would be the lead feature in Adventure for over 80 issues!



I have been tacking on issues from this run for a few years now and it is always fun to see the great Curt Swan covers!
As always please feel free to send scans from YOUR collection to and I will include them in future galleries!
That's 3o!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Memoir Signing this week!


We're extremely pleased to announce an in-store signing with two of the industries biggest up and coming creators. This Wednesday, February 16th, artist Nikki Cook and writer Ben McCool will be here in support of their new book Memoir which has done exceptionally well here at the store and in comic shops around the country. The book is awesome, we have a bunch of copies of issue #1 and issue #2 will be released that day! This book is really awesome it has become a staff favorite and we're sure you'll really dig it. They'll be here from about 5pm - 9pm so be sure to come in, grab a copy and meet two of the friendliest people in the biz!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Being Dead Just Ain't What It Used To Be!

Sometimes I have no problem at all coming up with ideas for my weekly column here at the CBJ website. But this week I have had all sorts of problems. I tried EVERYTHING!

I paced, brooded, ruminated, contemplated, pontificated, disseminated, and played 75 hours of Dead Space 2.

STILL nothing.

And then it hit me.

It was Happy Hour! Time for drinks and hot wings.

I ordered delivery from the local choke and puke, and poured my own special martinis (made in 20 oz Superhero Tumblers. This week I was drinking from my ROM glass, hence a Romtini , so I would not be driving under the influence of booze and hot sauce.

When I was fed and VERY well oiled I STILL had nothing. So I said to myself….”Self, I’m DYING here”

Instant inspiration (and several other alliterative exclamations!)

I’ll just write about dead guys (and girls). More specifically I am going to write about dead guys (and girls) in comics.

Not undead, mostly dead, comatose, zombified, ossified, or just plain drunk….

Not Walking Dead, crawling dead, Generation X Dead or “The Cape Dead”….just…

Now this might seem like an easy subject but it really isn’t. I mean just how many characters killed off in comics have had the good taste to STAY dead? You see my dilemma.
Superman died but got better.

Batman not so much dead as Time Tunneled.

Martian Manhunter is now formerly dead, as is Aquaman, The Flash, Green Lantern, Nick Fury, and Green Arrow, The original Torch (who is actually an android so not exactly ALIVE), Toro who is NOT an android but also torchy, and Norman Osborne (among MANY others).

Captain America AND Bucky came back (they got a two for one deal)!

Hell! Even DEADMAN isn’t dead anymore. I mean if you can’t count on Deadman to be…well… dead, who can you trust anymore?

And what do we call him now any way? “Alive Man”, “I Don’t Feel Well Man”, “The Artist Formerly Known as Deadman”?
Buffy died TWICE...

And don’t even get me STARTED on Spock!

Johnny Storm JUST died so the body isn’t even cold yet. (Would The Torch get cold?) Don’t bet on HIM staying dead. (He always WAS a pest!)

Gwen Stacy stayed dead but she always was a good girl.

The Manhunter, Paul Kirk, stayed dead. I suspect he COULD have come back but is just trying to prove a point. When he’s done pouting I am pretty sure HE’LL come back too….

And I know that some of you out there, CAT! , will take great glee (the emotion, not the show) in giving me a list of characters who stayed dead. All I will say to that is one word…BUCKY! Do you really want to bet on any of them staying dead?

Didn’t think so.

The villains are no help either because THEY have been coming back since the 40’s!

I mean how can I write about dead comic book characters when they just keep coming back??!!

About the only thing you can expect to “die” and STAY dead these days is the Mets!

My path was clear. I needed to find someone to blame!

Who started all this “back from the dead” stuff?



You got it. The venerable creator of one of the most beloved characters in literature, Sherlock Holmes. HE did it. And why? Why else?

MONEY! And I’m not even talking Madoff Money here (Fortunately Holmes was to smart for THAT scheme, and are you listening here Mr. Wilpon?)

Doyle first introduced the great Consulting detective back in 1887 in “A Study In Scarlet” but by 1891 the old boy was becoming tired of Holmes and wanted to become a fulltime spiritualist (you could look it up!).
So he decided on a climactic battle between Holmes and his arch nemesis Professor Moriarity at Reichenbach Falls in “The Adventure of the Final Problem”. Both Holmes and Moriarity would die so…
”No problem” for Doyle and he could go off chasing ghosts.

Well it seemed like a good idea to Arthur at the time but the readers of The Strand were ready to throw HIM over the falls for bumping off Sherlock. So a couple of years later he revived Holmes in “The Adventure Of The Empty House”. His explanation?

Holmes didn’t REALLY die that day. He just went on a two year walk about.

So there you have it.

The Man Of Steel was saved by “Superman’s Pal, Arthur Conan Doyle”

Now I think I have a couple of wings left in the fridge….

That’s 30!


Sunday, February 6, 2011

Fab Firsts Gallery!

Hey There Scan Fans!,

This week I am posting some "firsts" from my collection! As you all know comic collectors are OBSESSED with first appearances. So much so that The Overstreet Guide notes first appearences SO osbcure that no one ever even heard of them! But they were FIRSTS and that's what counts. So here are some of mine.

First we have the very FIRST Star trek comic!
The first apppearance of Mon-El in Superboy #89

The FIRST Neal Adams issue if Green Lantern (#76). I even got it autographed by the great one himeslf!!

Here we have my copy of Action #252 which is not ONLY the first appearance of Supergirl but ALSO the first appearance of the villian Metallo!

And finally a VERY tough book to find in any condition, here is a solid copy of the first appearance of Braniac (also Kandor!) from Action #242!!!
There you have it scan fans. Just a few firsts from my archives!
As always (or for the FIRST time anyway) feel free to send YOUR scans to (that's me!) and I will make sure to include them in future galleries!
That's 30!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Star Trek Began In a City On The Edge Of Forever

“A question. Since before your sun burned hot in space, and before your race was born, I have awaited…a question.” – The Guardian of Forever

“One day soon, man is going to be able to harness incredible energies, maybe even the atom... energies that could ultimately hurl us to other worlds in... in some sort of spaceship. And the men that reach out into space will be able to find ways to feed the hungry millions of the world and to cure their diseases. They will be able to find a way to give each man hope and a common future. And those are the days worth living for.” – Edith Keeler

One can make the case that not only was “The City On The Edge Of Forever” the finest Star Trek episode ever but that it is also one of the best episodes of any television show ever, period, exclamation point!

Star trek was largely through it’s first full season on April 6th, 1967 when “City” first aired. It was when I fell in love with the show and characters. More than any other episode, “City” defined the essential relationship between Kirk, Spock and McCoy. A relationship that in turn would define Star Trek.

“The City On The Edge Of Forever” was penned by Sci-fi great Harlan Ellison and edited by Gene Coon, D.C. Fontana, and Gene Roddenberry among others. This re-writing lead to much controversy and carping on the part of Ellison, but even he would be hard pressed to say that this was not a classic screenplay. The plotline, largely Ellison’s was GREAT sci-fi and still one of the best treatments of time travel and the consequences involved in changing history. It was Roddenberry, Coon and Fontana who added the character touches that made it “Star Trek”.

For the one or two of you who have not actually SEEN “City”, here is a brief plot summary
The Enterprise is in the process of investigating temporal disturbances that take the form of destructive waves in space time centered on a nearby planet. Mr. Sulu is injured when a console explodes when the ship hits an unexpected temporal wave. McCoy is summoned to the bridge and injestc the helmsman with cordrazine. When another temporal wave causes the ship to shake violently McCoy accidentally injects himself with an overdose of serum, causing him to become violently paranoid. He flees from the bridge and beams down to the planet. Kirk takes a landing party down to the planet to retrieve the Doctor.

Once on the planet, Spock finds that the source of the time distortions is an ancient stone structure When Kirk asks a question to no one in particular the structure comes to life, identifying itself as the "Guardian of Forever". It explains that it is a sentient time portal that can access any point in timespace, and displays periods of Earth's history in its portal opening. The team soon locates McCoy, but he runs away and leaps through the portal before anyone can stop him. Suddenly the landing party loses contact with the Enterprise. The Guardian informs the landing party that history has just been altered and that, as a result, the Enterprise no longer exists. McCoy has somehow altered the past.

Kirk asks the Guardian to loop the history images again and he and Spock to jump through to a time just before McCoy entered, in the hope that they can correct what he has changed. Kirk and Spock leap through at the correct moment and materialize in New York City during the 1930s Great Depression era. Their uniforms and Spock's ears shock a passerby, so Kirk steals some clothes he spots hanging on a fire escape and the two hide in the basement of a nearby building. There they meet a woman named Edith Keeler. She is a social worker who runs the 21st Street Mission. They apologize for trespassing and offer to work for her. Intrigued by the pair, she allows them to stay.

Spock begins to construct a crude interface for his Tricorder and uses it to find out what part of history McCoy has altered.

Touched by her world view, Kirk soon begins to fall in love with Edith.
McCoy materializes in an alley, still under the influence of the cordrazine, and, after an encounter with a homeless man, stumbles into the 21st Street Mission. Edith sees him and takes him to rest. Kirk and Spock are not aware of his arrival.

Meanwhile, Spock finally finishes the interface and he and Kirk analyze the data. It reveals that Edith was supposed to have died shortly after in a traffic accident but that, having been spared this fate on account of McCoy's actions, she instead went on to form a pacifist movement whose influence delayed the entry of the United States into World War II; this delay in turn gave Nazi Germany time finish their heavy water experiments and develop the Atomic Bomb before the United States. The world falls to the forces of Hitlerism and ultimately tears itself apart trying to throw off Nazi rule. Kirk must face the fact that if Edith does not die as she is supposed to, history will be altered forever. Starfleet, Spock, McCoy…everything that he knows will cease to exist.

Edith nurses McCoy, who tells her who he is and where he is from. Edith does not believe his fantastic, but tells him that he would fit in nicely with her eccentric new boyfriend who will later be taking her to a Clark Gable movie. She is surprised to find that Bones has never heard of the star.

Later, as Kirk and Edith are walking to the movie house, Edith is surprised that Kirk also never heard of Clark Gable . She says "Doctor McCoy" said the same thing.

“McCoy? LEONARD McCoy??”

Alarmed, Kirk emphatically tells Edith to "Stay right here" before dashing across the street to get Spock. McCoy emerges from the mission right in front of them. Edith crosses the street to join them, does not see a truck which is approaching. Instinctively, Kirk moves to pull Edith out of the way but freezes when Spock yells out.

"No, Jim!". McCoy then tries to save Edith but is held fast by Kirk; the truck hits her and she is killed. A shocked McCoy yells.

"I could have saved you know what you just did?". Kirk pushes him away, speechless, and Spock says quietly,

"He knows, Doctor. He knows."

History reverts to its original timeline and Kirk, Spock, and McCoy return to the Guardian's planet to find the rest of the landing party where they had left them. The Guardian makes an offer.
"Time has resumed its shape. All is as it was before. Many such journeys are possible. Let me be your gateway."

Uhura indicates that the Enterprise is ready to beam them back up and the devastated Kirk responds.

"Let's get the hell out of here."

I get a lump in my throat just writing the summary!
I have seen this episode dozens of times over the year and it never loses it’s power. It is as fresh today as it was over 40 years ago. “City” is still the benchmark for Star trek and “the origin” of the Kirk-Spock-McCoy relationship. Even the recent reboot acknowledges that these three, and particularly the relationship between Kirk and Spock are the HEART of Star Trek.
When Spock asks Edith where she thinks he and Kirk belong she actually defines their friendship in one simple statement:

“[to Spock] You? At his side. As if you've always been there and always will. [to Kirk] And you... you belong... in another place. I don't know where or how... I'll figure it out eventually.”- Edith Keeler

Back at the beginning of the episode Kirk does not send someone else after McCoy. He and Spock , without hesitation, take that mission upon themselves. They don’t think twice about being lost in time if it gives them even the smallest chance of saving their friend.

In “city” we really get out first glimpse of Spock’s “human” side. And it is almost all in the form of empathy for Kirk’s dilemma.

“Save her. Do what your heart tells you to do, and millions will die who did not die before” – Spock

How do you tell your brother that he has to sacrifice that which he loves most? The “Vulcan” Spock might not be able to do it. The “Human” Spock might not be able to do it. But SPOCK, both human and Vulcan, found a way.

When he makes the statement to Jim that “Edith Keeler must die” we can see how much Spock feels for his friend. This was a defining moment in the development of Star Trek’s most beloved character.

It is a direct line from this episode to Star Trek II- The Wrath Of Khan when Kirk observes that:

“Of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most…human”
We would not have had that moment in Star Trek II without “City”.
The complete understanding between Kirk and Spock was born in this episode.

This is also a defining moment for Kirk as well. Perhaps it is THE defining moment in the development of the character.

We learn that Jim is not just the hell bent for leather, womanizing adventurer that he sometimes leads us to believe. Edith is in fact his one true love and he has the briefest of time with her. Now he has to face all the rest of his life without her. “City” shows us just how LONELY Kirk is.
We also learn that, as McCoy put it in the third season episode “The Tholian Web”, Jim Kirk is “ a hero in every sense of the word”.
The ability to make the sacrifice he did in order to restore history took more courage than facing down a Gorn or a Klingon warship. Despite his personal anguish, when the moment came, he did not hesitate. Kirk made the impossible choice and went on with living with the consequences.

For those of you who have never seen “City”, go see it now. For those who have, give it another view. Because Star Trek REALLY began in…

“The City On The Edge Of Forever”

That’s 30!

(Oh and Live Long And Prosper!)