Monthly Archive for March, 2012

Week of March 26th

Avengers vs. X-Men Party Tuesday April 3rd 7:00

The mega-crossover is nearly a pone us and to celebrate the launch of the big event we are having a party and are being allowed to sell issue one that Tuesday night.  We will also have Sales, Discounts, Prizes, first shot at Variant Covers, maybe some cake and – of course – Free Beer!

I know several of you are into costuming and by all means you are encouraged to dress as an Avenger or an X-Man.  We might try and come up with a game or two as well.

Should be a good time and think about it, what else are you doing on a Tuesday night?


Launch of Adventures of Nikki Harris #4, ALSO on April 3rd

Local comic creator Carter Allen will be launching issue #4 of The Adventurs of Nikki Harris Tuesday, April 3rd.  While another comic company (who must not be named) is launching their own universe-shattering event, Nikki and her friends and foes battle it out in the far future, with the fate of the galaxy at stake!  Or was it for a new iPad(tm)?  Either way, creator Carter Allen will be signing copies of the Giant-Sized issue, sketching, having the occasional beverage and offering his opinions on why the comic cross-over peaked around the time Gary Coleman met Knight Rider… or was it when Simon and

Simon teamed up with Magnum P.I.?

For more info and some art check out the comic book bin AND if you want to get an earlier issue… early… One through three are at the shop right now.


So, Yeah.. We’re moving…

I’m going to continue with the discussion I started last week.  I’m going to try and answer some of the questions we’ve been asked lately concerning this.

Where is this new place? 2608 Beaver.  It is on the main business strip in the Beaverdale neighborhood district of Des Moines.

When does this start? Technically, May 5th and yes, that is free Comic Book Day.  We are planning to have our midnight party on May 4th.  Then pack up the comics and move the shop overnight (sounds crazy, but… yeah.)  We plan a grand opening May 5th at 9am the next morning.

After that we will have very specific hours at the Fleur location.  There will be options of hold lists (for two weeks) at one place or the other.  Coffee will be available on the South side when we are open too.

Why do this? There are a lot of reasons.  Most revolve around different financial reasons, as most would when talking about small businesses and a move.  You need to remember, we are a business and if you want us around in two years, we can’t stay where we have been for ten years.  If you’ve looked on the south side you know there is not a plethora of great retail options here.  We were also looking at ever increasing costs that needed to be decreased, not increased.  This move does that in numerous ways.

Please remember, we didn’t want to go through this.  We didn’t do this as some kind of personal attack on you, the south side or our customers in general.  If you have further questions on why, come talk to me.  I will explain MUCH more.

What changes are you doing? The new shop is not going to be a full coffee bar, but we will have free coffee.  (see below in my ripping of Newsarama.)  We will be MUCH heavier stocked with comics and trades.  We will have a larger kids section too.  Some of the seating will go away, but much will stay.  We will still encourage you to hang out, have a cup of free coffee, browse and read.  Plain and simple, minus the coffee bar, not much will change.

What does the future hold for The Cup? We are planning on FINALLY getting our book bindery up and running.  We want to get a much larger online presence AND an online shop.  All three of these should be up and running by fall.  However, overall comic-wise, we want to provide even better customer service to our comic book customers.  So many people tell me they love us because we talk to them about comics.  Without having to make coffee in-between ringing up comic customers will make it easier for us to help you find the best books on the racks.

And the long term future… I can’t talk about all the irons we have in the fire, but if the Des Moines Social Club moves into the Firehouse we would work strongly with them in that endeavor.

If you have further questions, please e-mail or stop in and talk to any of us.  If we can answer it, we will.  When I say we thank you for being our customer, we mean it.  You are the life blood of our business and are a part of this move.  Talk to us if you need too.


So, why does Comic Book Resources suck ass?

Last week we were mentioned on CBR about our shop moving.  In the tiny piece they say we are dropping the coffee aspect of our shop.  Well, that is incorrect, but then when “news” journalists don’t check their facts and just write what they want, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that they would get something wrong.

We are NOT dropping coffee.  We are stopping the bar part and will no longer be charging for it.  Like nice friendly local book stores or banks or a mechanic’s waiting room we will have coffee for you while you peruse the books.

I guess, when it comes to CBR, we aren’t Robert Kirkman or another person they need to hob nob to, they don’t need to e-mail or call for information.  Little makes me more angry than poor journalism.  (I used to work as a news producer and finally quit due to seeing a systemic failure in modern corporate journalism.)  Bloggers are journalists and if they want to be taken seriously they need to get their damn facts right.


So, who’s running for that elected office?  A Super Villain!?!…

Since most elected officials seem to be, or at least turn into, super villains after elected why not just come out and say it… before you get elected.  “Hello, my name is Von Doom and I am running for President.”  But that isn’t fair.  Doom has an extreme amount of cool and, frankly, none of the candidates running for President are as cool as Doom!

However, had a great post this week with some awesome art of campaign posters for super villains.  They of course also had the cover from Superman after Lex Luthor won the presidency.  Remember that?  Good times.



The Rocketeer volume 2 #1

Written by Peter David, Marc Guggenheim and Stan Sakai

Art by Sandy Plunkett, Bill Sienkiewicz, Stan Sakai, Dave Stewart and Art Adams

Covers by Dave Stevens and Darwyn Cooke

What was the best book that came out last week, you might ask.  Sometimes I might have two or three or there isn’t an easy answer, but last week it was so simple, The Rocketeer.  It may be a new number one issue for the new volume; the format is the same for this round.  You get great writers and artist to do short stories about one of the coolest superheroes ever invented.

I found what series editor Scott Dunbier said in explaining the book fit perfectly, “The Rocketeer takes us back to another time, one stuffed to the brim with heroism and thrilling adventures.  Some might call these stories old-fashioned—and what’s wrong with that?”  They are simple, old school stories set in the late 1930’s or 40’s in an anthology book – like nearly all comics were back in the 30’s and 40’s.  Most have some kind of a statement or message to make or are pulling on our comic book heart strings, either comedically or emotionally.  All things that comics, from the same time period these are set in, did too.

However, this book is, with no disrespect to the artist and production values of that time, so much better than any of those books.  The first volume, as well as this first issue in the second volume, is each works of comic book perfection.  Easily one of the two or three best books being published right now and hands down this and the first volume should be no brainer multiple Eisner Award winners this summer.

The book is set for a four issue run with other contributors to the series to include Kyle Baker, J. Scott Campbell, Eric Canete, Paul Dini, Michael Golden, Dave Johnson, David Lapham, John Paul Leon, Bill Morrison, Louise Simonson, Walter Simonson, Chris Sprouse, Tom Taylor, Matt Wagner, Colin Wilson, and more.

In additional Rocketeer news – there is an ongoing book planned that will be written by Mark Waid and drawn by Chris Samnee.  For more info head to Comics Alliance.

In additional IDW news – Some more publishing is coming from them too.  New series from The Crow, Judge Dredd, The Cape and a formerly unpublished Dave Stevens project.  More info on that can also be found at Comics Alliance.


Ronnie’s Best Bets…

BPRD – Pickens County Horror #1

This promises to be awesome.  We got Mike Mignola (Hellboy) and Scott Allie (sometime BPRD writer and all the time editor) on scripts, Jason Latour (Noche Roja, Loose Ends) and Dave Stewart (everything good) on art, and the phenomenal Becky Cloonan (Demo, Conan the Barbarian) on the regular covers. An all-star team for sure.  This two issue mini is supposed to be the Mignola-verse take on vampires.  I am confident that it will take the vampire idea back to its roots, strip it of all the current nonsense and bring it back to horrific glory.  I am also betting this will be a great jumping on point for those not currently reading BPRD.  I am really anticipating this.  I am sure you will read it.


The New Deadwardians #1

Another new vampire and zombie book…  But this time written by Dan Abnett, who along with partner Andy Lanning have written way to many good things to count.  The premise is something along the lines that we follow a detective during post-victorian England.  However, the catch is that all the upper classes are voluntarily vampires while all the lower classes are zombies.  Sounds ripe with socio-political commentary… Hopefully.


American Vampire #25

Yep, this is the vampire week!  Although anyone who’s read a bit of this series knows that this is vampires done very right and really awesome.  This issue will be the conclusion to the 50′s era death race story which has been kicking butt for the last few.  This was Scott Snyder’s (Swamp Thing, Batman) breakout series, and is still one of the best on the racks.  Read it.


It was really cool seeing so many Des Moines-ers at Planet ComiCon this past weekend.  The attendance has been growing every year, and this year showed a large surge.  I got a chance to meet some awesome creators like Jonathan Layman and Tim Sale.  I also had some great conversations with folks like Nathan Fox, Jason Aaron, Matt Kindt and Scottie Young.  Des Moines Native Tyler Wapole had a tablet there and said he was doing really well.  And for all those wondering, Billy Dee Williams is looking great.  I also got a pile of old Batman and Detective Comics for really cheap.  It was a really great time and I highly suggest y’all go next year.  Maybe we’ll get a party bus headed that way.


And a Matty J’s Best bet…

Atomic Robo, Real Science Adventures #1

This is guaranteed – no really, I’m guaranteeing this book – the best thing you will read coming out this week.  One of my other two or three favorite (Usagi Yojimbo is the other one, if you were wondering) comics from the last year.  Just a fantastic, fun book that is comparable to Hellboy and BPRD, but with REAL science rather than occult as it’s driving force.  Great, just freak’n great books so far and I expect the greatness to continue.

Don’t believe me.  Fine.  We will go to the creator’s website http://www.atomic– to see what they say.  Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener give you this promise: No angst, No “cheesecake,” No reboots, No filler and No delays (that we have any control over, i.e. Diamond will be Diamond.) – THAT IS AWESOME!!!  Seriously, what else do I have to say… how about that it costs only $2.75!!  Take that evil corporate comics!!  Oh, yeah, if you didn’t already know it is an indy comic, also making it better.


The Week of March 19th

Avengers vs. X-Men Party Tuesday April 3rd 7:00

The mega-crossover is nearly a pone us and to celebrate the launch of the big event we are having a party and are being allowed to sell issue one that Tuesday night.  We will also have Sales, Discounts, Prizes, first shot at Variant Covers, maybe some cake and – of course – Free Beer!

I know several of you are into costuming and by all means you are encouraged to dress as an Avenger or an X-Man.  We might try and come up with a game or two as well.

Should be a good time and think about it, what else are you doing on a Tuesday night?


Launch of Adventures of Nikki Harris #4, ALSO on April 3rd

Local comic creator Carter Allen will be launching issue #4 of The Adventurs of Nikki Harris Tuesday, April 3rd.  While another comic company (who must not be named) is launching their own universe-shattering event, Nikki and her friends and foes battle it out in the far future, with the fate of the galaxy at stake!  Or was it for a new iPad(tm)?  Either way, creator Carter Allen will be signing copies of the Giant-Sized issue, sketching, having the occasional beverage and offering his opinions on why the comic cross-over peaked around the time Gary Coleman met Knight Rider… or was it when Simon and

Simon teamed up with Magnum P.I.?

For more info and some art check out the comic book bin AND if you want to get an earlier issue… early… One through three are at the shop right now.


Kansas City’s Planet Comicon is this Weekend

I know there are several of you going, but I wanted to make point out that one of, if not the best comic con in the mid west is going to happen in Kansas City this weekend.  It is Saturday and Sunday, very affordable at only $15 for a single day pass!

Some great guests this year include John Lyman of Chew, Rick Remender, Mike McKone, Tim Sale, Bernie Wrightson, Mike Golden, Joe Kelly… and not to mention Edward James Olmos and Billy Dee Williams.  Probably their best show ever.

If you need more info, head over to the website


Iowan to play big part on Walking Dead

A very big character just appeared on Walking Dead Sunday night and the actress happens to be from Iowa.  Joe Lawler has the story over at the Des Moines Register.

…and in case you hadn’t heard and though I would never encourage you to go get porn, ‘cause I am a registered Republican and upstanding member of society anxiously awaiting the Santorum presidency (if you believe that, please ask me about a bridge I have for sale)  Go grab a copy of Playboy.  Yeah, the origin of a character we have all wanted to see for like five years is being published in the latest issue of Playboy.  I’m not going to get into the irritation this brings (why are we not seeing this in, say, THE COMIC!!?!!) but it is a good reason to grab a Playboy and for once you can actually say, “No, I read it for the articles!”


In other news…

It might be the worst kept secret the shop has ever had.  We are moving.

I’ll get into some of the whys, but first the where.  We are headed to the Beaverdale area, 2608 Beaver to be more exact.  If you are unsure where that is, it is across from The Rice Bowl on the main drag in Beaverdale, near Grounds for Celebration, Talley’s, Beaver Tap and Beaverdale Books.

I’m sure those of you we were not able to tell in person might be freaking out a bit.  Please don’t.  This is a good thing for us and in the long run for you too – even if you don’t think so right now.  Small business is a tough racket (and by racket I’m not talking about John McEnroe) and for our long term survival, this is our only really choice.

There will be a few changes, some pretty big.  One is coffee, we will not be charging you for it anymore.  I don’t want to spend 500 words describing the terribly written ordinance that requires all food service establishments to have a grease interceptor, but that is the reason.  This ordinance is wretched and will prevent us from making mochas and lattes.  It will not stop us from offering free coffee however.  If you come in and look around, make a purchase or just want to stop and sit for awhile, we will have free coffee for you.  Free coffee for the people!  But I’ll get to that and our hopeful future endeavors in another weekly e-mail down the road.

As you may have seen, there has also been a move around us to push our shop into obscurity.  When we moved in ten years ago, things were different.  The layout of the neighborhood was different.  We were the first brick and mortar coffee shop on the south side.  We were a coffee shop with comics in it.  Now we are a comic book shop that serves coffee – some days, not all that much either.  Things had to change or we would not be here in another two years.

In Beaverdale we have a few things we will never have had before.  Visibility from a busy road with signage you can actually see.  We will have walk by traffic.  We will be part of a neighborhood – one voted by Forbes magazine as the seventh prettiest in America.  We will cut costs down to that of a comic shop, not a coffee AND comic book shop.  (You would be surprised.)

We don’t want to leave the South Side, however, if you have looked at retail costs on the South Side and/or getting on a main road so you can get a little signage… well, yeah.  Listen, I have some better than good friends that we are leaving in a lurch because of this move.  People we consider family.  We did NOT make this decision lightly and the move will not be easy.  If the shop is to survive, this must happen.

Also, we do – finally – hope to open our Book Bindery.  This is something Kyle in particular has wanted to do for nearly two years.  But it is not cheap.  The costs on some of the equipment are insanely high, but with the move and the need for a loan to relocate, we are trying to move those costs into that.  We hope by mid to late summer to be taking our first orders for comic book binding.  Eventually we want to be known as the only readily accessible, open to the general public book bindery in the city.

Those are some whys and whats and wherefores.  We will answer any questions you have about it.  You can either e-mail me – Matt – and I will answer them all or come in and talk to us.


Ronnie’s Review…

Swamp Thing – by Scott Snyder and Yanick Paquette

I hope y’all are reading Swamp Thing, along with its sister title Animal Man, these two titles are the best that DC has to offer right now.  (WOAH! Did Ronnie just say these are better than a Bat book!?!)  They both exist in the current DC universe, but occupy their own corner, separate from the SuperBatWonderLantern universe. And they both succeed despite the reboot with nothing much changed for the better or worse.  Better than can be said of pretty much the rest of DC’s current titles.

The most recent issue of Swamp Thing is the first time we see Alec Holland as the Swamp Thing monster.  A common complaint is that it took seven issues to see the title character appear in his own book (not a spoiler, it’s on the cover).

True, but it was a calculated risk that really paid off. Unlike the current Justice League ach that just ended, Swamp Thing and Animal Man’s decompression makes for a truly epic story with each issue building the tension to deliver a truly meaningful climax.

There seems to be a backlash against this type of writing in recent years, but appears to me that it is a reaction to the writing-for-the-trade policy that damaged the writer’s ability to create the correct pacing.  There are a million different ways to tell a story, each story depends on the writer finding the one that works for them in the story they are writing.  To those that have read this series, imagine all that has happened, all that is now at stake, all that you now know of the characters and their motivations happening in only one or two 22 page issues.  It wouldn’t work any other way than how Scott Snyder has done it.

I haven’t even mentioned the art by Yanick Paquette with colors by Nathan Fairbairn. Other than that it is truly awesome in all the classic ways, the way they use the frames and gutters as another element is beautiful.  There is not a single unused corner of the page, all of it is deliberate and carries the story forward.  Alec Holland’s metamorphosis in the last issue is soon to be legendary.

Scott Snyder is really making a worthy follow up to the incredible Alan Moore run, in fact, it has played homage throughout.


A Review of a Perfect Book from Matty J

Conan The Barbarian #2 – by Brian Wood, Becky Cloonan and Dave Stewart

The best book I read last week had three very important things in it and that book was Conan the Barbarian #2.  Easily one of the best Conan stories I’ve read in years (since the short three issue run of Busick and Mignola.)  This is the Queen of the Black Coast storyline from Robert H. Howard’s pulp writings being adapted into the Dark Horse era’s run.  The story is one of Conan finding his first real love, a nasty sea pirate who has been terrorizing this section of the coast.

At first glance, you might see Wood and Cloonan and say “oh, sweet a new Vertigo boo… HEY!  This is Conan.  I’m way to high-brow for that.”  …and you may be, but think for a minute what else you read and then think if you are happy with it.  That is the clincher.  Reading different genres for comics is good, especially if done well.  A broad mind is an open one.  Don’t discount something just because you “aren’t a fan.”  Horror, Crime, Adventure all can be done better than Capes and have been.  Usually it takes a good team to do it.  In the case of Action/Adventure that team just happens to be well out of the ordinary for this genre.

Wood has done plenty of Action based storytelling; he just tends to focus on the character development – his forte – while he is writing the action.  His DMZ and more importantly to this discussion, Northlanders, are probably the best examples of his ability to focus on a character, expand and flesh them out while having a ton of sh!t happen to them.   Cloonan is perfect for Conan as well.  I feel her art is such a great throw back to the the Buscema-esque days of Marvel’s publishing of Conan.  Look at the hard lines and free flowing forms.  They are not so far different than you might think.  Becky just puts more into the backgrounds, though those old Marvel books, it wasn’t John’s fault.

AND – did anyone else notice that the third name on the cover is none other than the greatest colorist in comic history, Dave Stewart!  Yes, I am going to keep harping on his quality work until everyone notices.  If you read Conan, you will see why it is on the cover (not something that happens at Marvel or DC, colorists are throw away unimportant afterthoughts.)  His work so well compliments Cloonan’s it isn’t even funny.  Just perfect damn creators all around.

But we have two of the three things that make for a good Conan book; action and creators.  What could the third thing be?  Well, duh, women in chainmail bikini’s.  Yes, a perfect book.



here are some pictures of our event Wednesday, March 15th… the day that will be known in infamy as C-Day!!

Shameless Plug – Buy Crossed Badlands #1 Today!! – Shameless Plug

It is written by Garth Ennis… alright, fine… here are your damn pictures.

Faithful Ronnie defends the shop from the hoards of Crossed customers.

Well, poor Ronnie is done for.  bad day for him.  Boo for Ronnie.

After the Crossed crowd are “done”  - shudder – with Ronnie, he turns on his favorite friend, awesome-est boss of all the times and purveyor of fine comics.  Ronnie, don’t hit your boss.  You are Firer…. ARRGGHH!!

Never to young to start them on extreme horror.  I hope the press doesn’t get wind of this.  I see picketers in our future.  Ha, Ha!


This Barley Chai is Awesome!!

Week of March 12th

C-Day is Wednesday!…

Not only is it the launch of the new Crossed book, Badlands – written by Garth Ennis – but we are also having a party to support it!  The madness starts at 5:00 and goes until 8:00.  We will have prizes, variants, discounts, freebies, sales, drink specials and yes, of course, FREE BEER!  What do you have to do?  Well, not much but show up.  (It would be great if you came in a costume, but it is not required.)


Avengers vs. X-Men…

We are having a launch party for the new mega Marvel crossover event as well.  It will be Tuesday, April 3rd.  I will have more details in the coming weeks.


On to the rest of the weekly.


Moebius Passes Away…

The comic industry lost another of its greats over the weekend.  The French artist Jean Giraud, who went by the pen name Moebius, passed after a long illness.  He was 73.

If you are not familiar with his work, go look it up.  He is one of my personal favorites.  Comics-wise he is known for starting Metal Hurlant and working on primarily French language comics.  However, he did concept art, story boards or design work for such films as Alien, Tron, The Fifth Element, The Abyss and The Empire Strikes Back.

If you are not familiar with Moebius, check out some art and a write up from Comic Alliance and if you want to learn more about this amazing man, his art and influence he had on the industry, head over to Jimmy Palmiotti’s site and watch the video the BBC did on him.


It has been a bad year for the passing of comic greats.  Just last week Shelly Moldoff passed away and earlier Joe Simon left us.  Hopefully though, knowing there will be an ever increasing number of the founders of passing on, the industry will do the best thing for these legends and get their work back into circulation before they pass and use proceeds to properly fund groups like the Hero Initiative or directly give more of the profits back to these creators in their later years.



Justice League #6 By Geoffery Johns and Jim Lee

I am not going to review this book.  I will leave Comic Alliance to do so.  They had a very nice point/counter point two part review on their site this last week.  Here is the positive and this is the negative. I think most people know where I stand on this comic, so, instead I will review websites.


The Comic “News” Website

There are a bunch websites out there about comics.  It seems like there are more every day.  Frankly, too many if you ask me.  I have heard a lot of people say how often they visit one or another and I want to point you to one over several.  It is Comic Alliance.  I have moved from Newsarama (probably the worst) to Comic Book Resources (pretty whorish, these guys never write a bad review about a Marvel or DC book) to Bleeding Cool (all rumor all the time) and finally have found one that seems to point out the important news without all the BS.

They do a nice job of writing actual stories about the “news” that is going on (Bleeding Cool seems to write about three sentences and leaves you in the end going to find more info somewhere else anyway.)  They will write a bad review about a book or a show.  They know and understand that doing a review is going to potentially piss someone off and you might not be able to get a comment from them, but then in the end, that is what journalism is about… not making everyone happy all the time.

It is just a damn good site and you should really use it over the others mentioned.  Please.


DC’s New Website

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention DC setting up their new site.  I’m always interested (repulsed) by the big company’s sites.  Most of the time they have little to no new or decent info, yet these idiots are constantly sending out press releases and whathaveyou to other media outlets.  I don’t get it.  Over the last couple years, DC had been getting good about putting up more new info in house, if you will.  Releasing it on their “Source” blog.  Then, the new 52 made it better to release it every Tom, Dick and Harry that has a news service.  I guess it really is in vogue to carry and cover comic “news” ‘cause these entertainment “news” types jump when one of the big two says too.

What I’m rambling on about is the terrible new DC website.  Big, gaudy and sterile it looks like an operating table on the web with pictures of DC heroes we once might have recognized.  They just can’t seem to get anything right.


Ronnie’s Best Bets…

It appears that this week’s theme is new series with titles starting with “S”.


Saga #1 – The return of Brian K Vaughn (Y The Last Man, Ex Machina.)  His return to comics is a much hyped event, but from what I can tell about Saga, it’s probably deservedly so.  He is one of my favorite writers, and like Brian Wood, I will try just about any creator owned series they do.  They almost always deliver some of my favorite series, and always with a great artist.  This time around Vaughn brings along the awesome Fiona Staples (Mystery Society).

Saga appears it will be as ambitious as Y The Last Man, but this takes place on another planet.  The hook of this sci-fi epic is that it follow the lives of new parents on this alien world while they try to raise their child in the middle of a huge space war.  A scenario most parents in peace time have probably thought about themselves, but maybe minus the intergalactic part.

The first issue is scheduled to be a double-sized 44 pages with no ads. And still 2.99.


Saucer Country #1 – From formerly Marvel-centric writer Paul Cornell and artist extraordinaire Ryan Kelley (Local) comes a political drama centered on the Governor of New Mexico running for president. The only problem is that she had recently been abducted by aliens, and now needs to save the world.  The book will have an interesting style to it.  After every arch there will be a “true” tales of abduction that Cornell promises to be scary, funny and the gambit inbetween.


The Secret History of DB Cooper #1 – You’ve probably heard the story of DB Cooper. He’s the guy who in 1971 hijacked a commercial flight, got a $200,000 ransom, than parachuted from the plane never to be heard from again. No real evidence ever surfaced on what happened to him, but it is largely believed he got away. The guy is one of my folk heroes.

This series, like last week’s The Manhattan Project, is doing a revisionist history job on the legend, filling in the blanks with secret government projects too weird for the public to know about, this time during the Cold War rather than WWII. Published by Oni Press, which is always a good sign.


The Week of March 5th

Next Week Is C-Day!

We are having a party next Wednesday (March 14th) to celebrate one of our best selling horror books of all time, Crossed.  This is a national day of recognition for the re-launch of the book (now ongoing) with Garth Ennis and Jacen Burrows returning.

The party will be from 5:00pm to 8:00pm and we will have Prizes, Variants, Freebies, Discounts, Drink Specials, Sales and yes, of course, Free Beer!!

It is the beginning of the new end of the world, what better reason to have a party.

(…and if you were wondering, YES, we are having an Avengers vs. X-Men party.  It will be Tuesday, April 4th, but I talked about that last week, this week is about Crossed.)


Avatar and Crossed…

So, Crossed?  Has there ever been a company or a specific book that screams, “is this the one that has finally crossed the line?”  It might be, but that is exactly why I defend it, stock it and recommend it to th right customer.  However, you need to know a little history to understand why.

It all dates back to the 1950’s.  Entertaining Comics, EC, was not the first company to come under fire for publishing comics.  However, it was their set of horror books that were singled out in the mid fifties with censorship that would eventually cause them to cease publishing.  It was also those horror books that were declared to be one of the main reasons for juvenile delinquency.  No, it was not families moving to the suburbs.  No, it was not those moves creating board latch-key kids.  No, it was not massive social and psychological changes created by a near perpetual war economy for over a decade and a half.  It was Comic Books!!

It is the same type of argument used then that is used whenever there is a school shooting.  “What caused this?  It must be the violent video games or that devil inspired heavy metal music!!!”  You understand this isn’t the case, I understand this isn’t the case, but do the infinitely wiser powers that be understand this?  NO, they do not.  They need a scapegoat and if it isn’t found, and found quickly, they might have to deal with the real problem.

Now, I’m not saying our current slew of violent and gory video games, movies or comic books are safe for everyone.  I am not saying they should be sold to everyone, especially kids, but should they not be sold to those who are mature enough to read them?  That in lies the question about censorship and begins to bring about my extreme support for Avatar publishing.


When Crossed came out originally, it was looked at as simply taking the zombie genre to its extreme next level.  If you have never read the book, let me explain.  It takes the typical and extremely overdone zombie plague situation and instead of creating flesh eating cannibals, it turns average citizens into completely depraved psychopaths.  Being chased by a zombie, well, sure, you are in a bad situation, but if the zombie catches you, the worst that might happen is being eaten alive.  Yes, not a real great end, but in Ennis’s Crossed, the people who have turned have their moral centers flipped off.  They have crossed over.  If you haven’t read the comic, well, think of the worst thing that someone can possibly do to you… well, whatever it was you thought of, the book shows you something worse.

It is the comic equivalent of the new film genre dubbed torture-porn.  Avatar, with the success of Crossed, realized – and had already been publishing some rather extreme books up to this point – that there was money to be made in pushing those boundaries.   Like the film genre this comic genre is NOT for everyone.  However, for those who can deal with it and enjoy it, it is offered and I support the right of the publisher to create it, my right to sell it – responsibly – and your right to read it.

However, this is NOT how some feel.  Can you imagine what a political hack like say current Republican presidential candidate and frothy mix-master Rick Santorum would say about Crossed?  He would call for it to be banned – but then he would probably like to see us move back to the mid fifties and the extreme censorship of that era and the next three decades our industry suffered under.


I got a call from Avatar about a year ago and was offered an ordering incentive.  I asked why I was being called and my rep, Keith, told me, “Well, you are one of the top 100 shops that sell Crossed.”  I responded, “but we are a small shop.  Really, we are one of the top 100?” Keith responded, saying, “Actually, you are in the top seventy five.”  I was so shocked and said, “I don’t know if I’m surprised happy or surprised scared that my customers are… crazy!”


Avatar might be the hardest working comic company in the industry.  They are fighting for space on the shelf against companies that feel whatever they publish should be carried; no matter how poor it is in quality.

It is why I am having a party to celebrate them – and the top horror book being published.  Little companies need as much or more support -and help- than the big two.  The books might not be for everyone, but if you dig ‘em, awesome.  I’ll always stock them for you.  I will never fear the big black specter of censorship.


Want even more Crossed… and for free?

Avatar is launching a web comic on C-day as well.  It is called Wish You Were Here and being written by Si Spurrier and drawn by Javier Barreno.  It’ll be put up on a weekly basis on Avatar’s website.  The plot will revolve around a group of Scottish survivors who are attempting to create an island stronghold.  It will eventually be collected in trade.

If you need all the info Go to Avatar’s website for more.


Sheldon Moldoff

It is my sad duty to inform you all of the passing of this great golden and silver age artist.  Shelly is primarily known for his long artistic run during the 50’s and 60’s on Batman.  However, he was un-credited as he did the art, but Bob Kane took the credit.  Shelly never felt anger about this though.  He was happy to have work doing what he loved when so many other artist were unable to.

If the name rings a bell, but you just can’t place it, it is because he was the guest of honor years ago at a Xanacon put on by former comic shop (Xanadu Comics) owner James Kirby.  It was Kirby that helped me down my path to what I do today, but it was Shelly who made me want to learn more about the history of comics.

I was at the con when Kirby came over to me and asked me to run Shelly over to the dinner across the street from the hotel the con was at.  I must have had a blank look of shock on my face, “Yes, of course I would do that.”  I took Shelly for a grilled cheese sandwich and talked golden age comics.  It is one of my most fond and pleasant memories I have with comics.  Thank you Shelly, you will be missed sir.


Ronnie’s Top Picks and Previews…

A new month and this brings a pretty big week of big stuff.  It was nice to see a Scalped last week, but look at all these new goodies!

Fairest #1 – –Get this for $1.99 if you buy it Wed the 7th!!

A new ongoing in Bill Willingham’s Fables world, if the quality is anything near the Cinderella mini’s in recent years, it should be a good time.  Featuring a rotating creative crew, the first arc boasts Willingham scripts with art by Phil Jimenez and Andy Lanning.


Animal Man #7/Swamp Thing #7 - Two of the best titles that DC has to offer are nearing their crossover they hinted at since the beginning of the series.  Both of these books keep getting better and better and weirder and weirder.


Manhattan Projects #1 – A new ongoing from Jonathan Hickman is always worth a look.  A lot of his creative owned series have been some of the best stuff on the racks (Nightly News, Pax Romana), the other half were always ambitious and attempting some new idea or angle (Transhuman.)  This one is supposedly the untold story of events surrounding the creation of the atomic bomb, which was apparently the public cover for all sorts of weird experiments.  Starring all your favorite mad scientists like Robert Oppenheimer,  that old hippy Einstein, and probably some Nazi’s too.  Featuring art from Nick Pitarra who did Red Wing with Hickman last year.

SIDE NOTE – Ronnie’s irrational aversion to Marvel is causing him to miss Hickman’s work on The Fantastic Four.  One of the three best runs on the book in its illustrious history and we aren’t done yet.  Each issue is an amazing science experiment in storytelling, with a really cool family that you wish you were part of.  I wish the style and panache that Hickman writes this book would rub off onto other writers.  Probably too much to ask.

Also, in another month, Hickman has another creator owned book coming from Image called Secret.


Also worth your time:

Fatale #3 - Criminal meets Lovecraft written by Ed Brubaker!  Not many copies of this as it has been selling out with each issue.  You need to get this on your hold list if you want it, though I’ll have second prints eventually.


Rachel Rising #6 – What would it take to get you to try this? This is what comics are for!  A perfect melding of art and writing.  If you don’t read this book… why are you reading comics?


Sweet Tooth #31 – If not now, when? Like Rachel Rising, this is an example of a master comics creator using the full potential of the medium. One of my top 3 favorite titles right now.


Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #8 – This is one of those rare books that defies all logic: A good Bendis superhero book? A death of a major character, and he stays dead? A book suitable for a 10 year old as well as anyone else? A minority character without an ethnic codename? An exciting angle on Spider-Man? A Marvel book I read? I started buying this for my 8 year old son, but I read it before I give it to him because I dig it too. Highly suggest.

RONNIE?!!? – you read this but not Fantastic Four or FF?  Really?


The Green Lantern Animated Series…

The News Man, Dan Finney, has another five sentence review this time of the Cartoon Network’s new Ring Slinging Emerald Warrior, Green Lantern.  Hopefully they get Guy Gardner right.  You can find it here.


Note on Gaming at the Shop…

We occasionally have Heroclix tournaments and games on Sundays at the shop.  Next week we will have a 500 point plastic Heroclix game if you are interested or know someone who might be.  All are welcome and if you would like to learn how to play, you are welcome too and Adam will teach.