Sunday, June 24, 2018


The story of a genetically engineered warrior and her growing disillusion is the anchor to the story and makes it well worth the read in and of itself.  Forever Carlyle, in the 5 years of the publication of the story so far, has grown from a tool of her Family by interactions with others also bred as warriors for their Families and her own investigations.  Though still a warrior for her Family, she knows how and what she is but has yet to determine her place in the world.

I've posted about this book previously, but the times require mentioning it again.  Greg Rucka and Michael Lark's master work, which started long prior to the regime seizing power, has proved prescient.
Lazarus, Vol. 1: Family

Lazarus: X+66 #4 (Of 6)Where Rucka and Lark have excelled is creating the world in which Forever exists.  Taking the corporate control of our world to a logical but not implausible extreme, they posit that corporations controlled by Families have taken control of the world and carved it into fiefdoms reminiscent of feudal Europe.  Governments no longer exist.  Administrative functions of government exist but are subservient to whatever family controls the territory.  Those who provide useful service to a Family are Serfs. These are "skilled" workers or police/military.  They have a modicum of economic security, though are always less than Family and in danger of losing everything they have at the whim or disastrous decision of Family.  The vast majority of the world's population is Waste.  Low skilled and simply unneeded by Family to protect and promote Family interests, they eek out an existence and hope to develop, in some way, skills that the Family might consider useful.

Like feudal Europe and life in our own regime, competence is subservient to sucking up.  Skills can get a person from Waste to Serf, but everything else is subject to someone above being stroked.  No civil service or even a lame ass human resources.  Who you know is how you go.  And that's at the better operated Family of Carlyle.  Other Families are even more capricious and wont to simply kill those of lesser value.

Lazarus: Sourcebook Collection, Vol. 1 TPRucka and Lark have grown the world of their story from a focus on Forever.  Even the earliest issues of the book contained large amounts of back matter that expanded on the world and expounded on Rucka's sources and influences in our own world in creating this world.  An entire series, X+66, was devoted to the stories of other characters in the Lazarus world, and there have been at least 3 Sourcebook books that go into detail on the workings and world of an entire Family.

In North America, the continent is controlled by 2 warring families, Carlyle and Houck.  In the beginning of the story the warring is cold, jockeying for position within the umbrella of Family influence in parts of the world, but before long there's direct combat that pits all the Families for or against one another based on alliance with either Carlyle or Houck.

Interestingly, both family heads are men who are preternaturally old.  Carlyle has extended his lifespan through genetics.  Houck has done the same through drugs.  Each has devolved his outlook to his Family so that Carlyle's warrior, or Lazarus, is a creation of genetics while Houck uses a drug fueled army as his primary means of war.  Not that Carlyle doesn't have an army.  It has a very well trained army, including an elite corps that works with its Lazarus.

The research that has gone into creating this world has resulted in a fantastically detailed depiction of a technologically advanced feudal world that mirrors the ever increasing power of corporations in our own world.  The fact that we're now subject to the whims of a failed businessperson and celebrity game show host is right in keeping with how the Lazarus world is at war because old white men had to assuage their egos by creating enemies and killing them.  In many ways it's depressing to read Lazarus, but as a cautionary tale it's extremely effective.  It's always been a good time to read Lazarus, but there's no better time than now.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Collecting Original Comic Art or Why I hate Lee

This week crept up on me fast and yet I had four or five weeks between posts. I had a bunch of different ideas like a review of the Kickstarter projects I have backed and I am backing. A post I was going to call “The Reading Game”. The idea was to talk about current,versus older stuff versus prose books.  A review of Twin Earths newspaper strip (from late 50’s early 60’s) and on and on. I’m never at a lost for ideas. I’m at a lost for time to type up stuff and put together a semi-coherent post.
Jim Califore who appeared at my store

I settled on collecting original art because it is something that has become a bigger passion for me over time. When I had the comic books store but it the early nineties (crap was that over 20 years ago) I picked up a few pieces of art when an artist did an appearance at my store. Compensation for the artist and something neat to frame and put up in the store. I also picked up a coupe pieces for cheap when I went to a show in New Jersey.

The habit laid dormant for a while and then I met and becomes friends with Lee. Lee is a collector of original art and he would constantly and I mean constantly talk about his artwork. Slowly the itch to collect art started to rise to the surface again.

Lee almost forced me to buy this page
Mike Grell Nice Guy
At first it was going to a comic show with Lee at my side saying buy it, buy it. Like a parrot on my shoulder. It’s a good deal, get it, get it. It’s your price range – buy it. I would talk to the artist and often get them to sign a page. I was paying like $50 for a page here and there nothing too dramatic.

One year at Balto-Con I made the mistake of having a few hundred dollars with me and picked up about 3 pages – pricing now between $100-$200. Then I moved to Florida. Of course, with the advent of the ability to stay in touch Lee has continued to be that temptress in the dark emailing me pages and the constant refrain of buy it buy it continues to echo.

Tomas Giorello
Worse I stared to wheel and deal on my own. I contact artist directly on line and negotiation buying art from them. Often, I would buy 3 pages to get the price down on individual pages – so paying $600 for 3 pages made an odd sense as opposed to $250 per page.

Mike Ploog POTA
Then I was buying original art off Kickstarter projects. Just pay an extra $200 get the book and a page of art. I cashed in my 60th birthday present from my 4 siblings and wife by having them pay for a Mike Ploog Kickstarter to get a POTA page – a grail piece.

Of course, I have been out and purchased from various art dealers on the web. Next, I have now bid and won auctions via auction web sites and picked up a page or two off Ebay.
Tim Truman Commission 

You would think it would end there but it doesn’t. Then you start to commission art for stuff you would like to see but it doesn’t exist. You know you have gone down the rabbit hole when you purchase a complete story. About the only thing I have avoided buying is a cover page.
I have the complete story
My collection went from like maybe 6-8 pages before Lee to over 100 pages in my collection now. Most you can view here at my Comic Art Gallery

I have learned a lot about what makes pages valuable in some ways. In other ways comic book art is a collector item – meaning your next-door neighbor wouldn’t pay you a dime for a page but get the page in front of the right people and you can sometimes turn a tidy profit. My advice buy what you love and enjoy and if down the road you sell it and make a couple bucks great, but sometimes you might lose money to sell a page.

Still I must say I love having the comic art and enjoy getting some of it framed. Each page is a true original and shows you the skill and talent that goes into making the art.  The variety of styles and type of art is amazing. Plus the only way to get the parrot to shut up is to buy something occasionally.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Jokes and Riddles: A Reflection and a Review

I think I have had an interesting relationship with Batman comics over a lifetime of comic book reading. Sometimes I really love the comics and sometimes I just can’t be bothered. Perhaps this is a result of Batman being such a great, malleable character. Any creative team can come into the Batman comics and have their version of the Bat. Even with differing variations and alternate takes on the character in TV, films, and animation, comics probably vary the character the most.

Think about it. To Frank Miller, Batman is more often a terrorist or freedom fighter. He’s an uncompromising man fighting a war. Grant Morrison approached him as a man of adventure, then a man in the midst of a mid-life crisis, and finally as a man setting up crime fighting franchises around the world. Jeph Loeb’s Batman had trust issues because everyone he got close to ended up betraying him. He was marked by his failures. Scott Snyder’s New52 Batman seemed odd to me, but I think it was because at the time DC wanted to eat its cake and have it too by having a Batman with history (hello four Robins) and who was also supposed to be young enough to still make mistakes because he had been Batman for only about a decade. You get the picture. In the film The Dark Knight, Batman says he can be whatever Gotham needs him to be. I think he can be whatever the writer and artist want him to be as well.

Sunday, June 03, 2018

The Girl With All The Gifts - Or How Movies Change the Ending

And for something different this week... a book review.  A book WITH NO PICTURES!!! I know, I know that goes against the principles of ComicsAnd... but bear with me because it'll all make sense.

Anyway, over the past couple of weeks (I'm a really slow reader) I read The Girl With All The Gifts by M. R. Carey and then I watched the movie! Why did I finally read a book after all these years?  Well, would it help if I told you it was written by M. R. Carey?  Probably not but M.R. is actually Mike Carey of Lucifer and Unwritten fame.  Since I loved both of those series I was willing to take a chance on his prose.

The setting is standard zombie apocalypse fare with a plague having wiped out most of civilization and the survivors struggling to well... survive against hoards of zombies and other random bad types.  The story revolves around Melanie, a little girl who has a zombie metabolism and appetite but still has her ability to reason.  She, and other children like her, are kept in a prison where they are being studied in hopes that they might possess a cure for the other zombies.  In an obvious turn of events, the prison is invaded by outside forces, and Melanie and several of her keepers must travel across England to a safe haven.

The book, as expected, is well written but not without it's flaws.  The prison scenes with the zombie children was very entertaining and added new wrinkles to the genre.  Unfortunately, once outside the prison there were many events which are zombie movie cliches.  They were well executed but cliches none the less.

Luckily, the character development is solid throughout.  The first half of the book centers around Melanie while world building and supporting character development.  But the second half flips and the supporting cast becomes the main focus.  This isn't a bad thing because it helps drive home the ending.

And, it's the ending which makes this book special.  Carey leads the reader down a merry path and at the last minute executes a heck of twist that is both logical and completely satisfying.  It's something new and different enough in the zombie genre to overcome the ordinary portions of the book.

I enjoyed the book so much that I decided to watch the movie!  The movie is a low-ish budget indie style film which is fine.  It hits all the main points of the book except for the ending.  Sadly changing the ending isn't as simple as "and now everyone is happy" or something studios do to make movie palatable for mass consumption.

I'm sure there are plenty of spoilers on the web but I'm not going to do it here.  Simply put, in the book an action is taken based upon certain facts.  In the movie, the facts are changed so when the decision is made the characters motivation is completely changed.  The altruistic decision made for the better of everyone is suddenly twisted into a much more selfish thing.  The ending of the movie left me cold and slightly disgusted because the change was so drastic.  You can see the trailer HERE.

Outside of the ending, the movie was fine.  It wasn't so bad that I can't recommend it but if you have a Sunday afternoon to waste then it's perfect.  In fact, if you haven't read the book it's probably pretty darn good.  But, I can't get past the ending so it was disappointing to me.

Saturday, June 02, 2018

Recent Reads

Wow, I barely remembered this mini-review format from yesteryear.  The house is unusually quiet right now and even though a toilet beckons to be scrubbed and comics need to be bagged, I've got some time I didn't think I'd have to say a little bit more this week.  These reviews won't be very sophisticated or long-winded, but hopefully they'll be informative enough (there could be SPOILERS):

The Man of Steel #1 (2018)

Honestly, I counted the pages to see if it was a whole book or not.  It was, it just read really, really fast.  I liked it though, well enough.  I still don't care much about the main villain -- we see him trying to convince some galaxy leaders (a Guardian is there) to let him exterminate Kypton.  Another woman is caught via super-hearing, admiring Superman -- future love-interest, perhaps?  The what-happened-to-Lois mystery continues, but you do see the start of some trouble for the super family at the end in a more recent flashback.  I guess we'll learn more this week.

Black Panther #1 (or #173) (2018)

This book really surprised me.  I really, really enjoyed it.  It was a solid start to a SyFy epic.  Years ago some group of Wakandan's started an empire in space and now their enslaving people.  Somehow, T'Challa is a prisoner with no memory of who he is, but it looks like he is still thinking about Ororo, his former wife.  He partially escapes/is rescued and at the end it looks like he's becoming a space-version of the Black Musketeers.  You don't get a lot (if any) answers to the why of what is going on, but the storytelling is exciting and entertaining. Color me interested in what happens next.  It just better not turn out to be a dream or simulation...

Vampironica #2

Okay, every copy of this book was trashed -- a manufacturing flaw.  Thankfully, my LCS is ordering me a replacement copy.  I fell in love with Greg Smallwood's art when he was working on Moon Knight recently and in this title he's co-writer too.  Needless to say the book looks great.  I suppose the Archie Horror books don't all exist in the same universe -- this is more of a what if Veronica was a Blade/Buffy vampire/slayer.  It's really good and I think it is traveling under the radar a bit, so I hope fans of Archie or horror or Smallwood will check it out.  Oh, and I LOVE the Riverdale CW series.  Season 2 is now on Netflix -- check it out, it's great!

DC meets Hanna-Barbera: Flash & Speed Buggy #1

Four titles came out this week, but I've only read two so far and they've both been super fun and outstanding.  They seem to be firmly set in the current DCU (or could be), but they provide plausible reasons to encounter "realistic" Hanna-Barbera characters.  Think of the old Julie Schwartz cover-driven stories -- come up with a bizarre concept and make it work.  They have.

The Wally West Flash is fighting Kilg%re the techno-creature.  He encounters a scientist who has built a vehicle to travel through the Speed Force.  There are consequences to his experiment and he ends up having his consciousness infused with the dune buggy, becoming the Speed Buggy we (children of the 70s) know and love.  It turns out the girl from that cartoon is the scientist daughter and this basically serves as an origin to the show.  Also a great Mark Waid-era Flash villain shows up with some evil car counterparts.

DC meets Hanna-Barbera: Aquaman & Jabberjaw #1

This one was a lot of fun too.  I'm a big Paul Pelletier fan to begin with and he does his usual outstanding job.  It starts out with an homage to the 1975 Jaws movie, only it turns out the first monster shark encountered is ol'Jabby.  He's from a future alternate dimension of 2076 (The original show started in 1976).  There is some fun where characters from the show (I think) have similar names to Aquaman's foes/relations.  If you love Aquaman, you'll love this.  The back-up story features CAPTAIN CAVVVVEMAN!!!  The Spectre and the Wizard Shazam are talking about heroism.  The Spectre claims it is a recent trait, but Shazam says it has been around much longer.  He plucks Captain out of the timestream to the present day (he was going to die anyway -- they were too strong and not smart enough to avoid danger).  The Wizard also gives him the ability to speak today's language (sorta).  It's great and makes me want to watch both of these old cartoons.  The other titles were Black Lightning &Hong Kong Fuey and the Super Sons & Blue Falcon and Dynomut.  I'd be reading them now, but I wanted to write this for you instead.

Scott Pilgrim Vol 1 thru 6

I found volumes 1 thru 4, and 6 at a local thrift store on my birthday (and volume 5 arrived in the mail yesterday).  I picked them up, remembering Shawn's (I think) rave reviews back in the day when he, Jim and I were on the Cosmic Comix radio show together.  I figured my manga loving kids would dig this and I'd finally get to try it myself.  I LOVED IT!!!  I don't agree with some of the decisions the character's make, but boy is it engrossing to watch Scott mature from a slacker 23-year-old to fully capable of loving someone 24-year-old.  The page layouts are outstanding and the book is really funny.  The scene where he gives back someone's bass was hilarious.  The expressions are priceless.  I was totally blown away when Ramona started to travel thru subspace and then Scott started fighting her evil ex-boyfriends video game style.  To have a property this old (14 to 8 years) be discovered and enjoyed as if it were brand new was quite a surprise.  Now I want to check out the video game, the card game, and dare I say it, the movie.  I don't think it will be nearly as good -- I want to see it as a cartoon instead of live-action.

Time to make dinner for the family.  I'm due back on July 1st where I should have a review of "How Comics Work".

Friday, June 01, 2018

Shelf Expression (Part 4)

Last one...

Conan is getting obscured, but the Middle Age by Steve Conley is a great series.  Note the Kickstarter Pins.  Love the Neal Adams Tarzan covers.  Chance Operations is a really cool book by Todd Webb.

Only a smattering of my Star Trek figure collection.  Since I have so many fotonovels, I keep the new Byrne IDW ones here as well.

I had the Space 1999 Eagle as a kid - I actually dug a hole in the ground to launch it from.  But this is not my original.  I got it at the comic store for only $10.  Some had glued the pieces together so they wouldn't fall off.  Worked for me.  The plush R2-D2 still squeaks when you press his red "nose", but his arm fell off.

Well, that's all I've got to share for now, hope you enjoyed my shelf expression.

Shelf Expression (Part 3)

Continuing my study shelf showcase some more...

The Cap cars came from Walmart.  They typically have a theme for the latest movie and each one is about $1.  Love the Star Lord POPs -- they really capture his essence from each movie.   The Rogue One cast replaced the Micronauts, which kept falling down.  I need a Brody.

I bought the Action Comics cover "little" books after the disappointing 80-years HC review from last month.  I sold off some of my archives, now replaced with Omnibuses.  I wish I had gotten the Demon and OMAC Jack Kirby HCs when they were affordable. It's nice that they're on non-glossy paper.

Really happy how this one came out.  Love the Red, White, and Blue on a yellow background.  Captain America First Avenger is one of my favorite Marvel movies.  I used to love the old pocket books, but way too small for these middle-age eyes.  The Bucky Rescue Cap figure is my only Hot Toys one (I'd love to get more) and I waited a year for the Kevin Maguire sketch (totally worth it).

Michael Moorcook is my other favorite fantasy writer. The first comic that I ever got a letter printed in, Hawkmoon #3, is on the side.  I guess Doctor Strange fits in because he delves in magic??

The green notebook is my comic inventory compiled a few years ago and is where I determine my want list.  Note the Treasury editions.  It's also where I keep my church Bible.

Should be one more...

Shelf Expression (Part 2)

Continuing my Study Shelves Showcase...

A little cluttered, but it still works.  The large blue HCs on the right reprint the newspaper strips too.  The Marvel Omnibuses are all sitting behind the first one shown.  Looking forward to the Last Jedi projection Luke POP due in August.

The two large figures were FCBD purchases for only $5 each.  The Conspiracy of the PoTA book is excellent.  The MEGOs are reproduction.  The bust is from the complete DVD boxset.  I hope that th rocks came from Point Dume Beach in Malibu (I went there) where the Statue of Liberty scene was filmed.  The sand diorama is  simple (and no longer plays), but it super cool.  I like how the hallmark figures go well with the novelization cover.  The first PoTA mag is in the far back.

My Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators collection -- these are really hard to find.  It's also the place I keep my keys, glasses, etc.  So, I won't lose them.  And my James Bond novel collection. My brother gave me Doctor No when I was 13 and that set me off to collect the rest, mostly signet series.  I love soundtrack music and OHMSS is my favorite Bond film.

Stephen R Donaldson is one of my favorite fantasy writers.  Note the mini Firestorm collection.  More misc stuff on the bottom shelf and some film canisters that will probably never be developed.  I rescued my daughter's Spider-Girl figures from the yard sale box.

Still more to come...

Shelf Expression (Part 1)

Since we had to clean up the house for the graduation party last Sunday, I had the opportunity to finish rearranging some of my shelves in our study.  I thought I'd share some of the displays with you just for fun, highlighting some key features or items.  As much as I love to have all the HC trade dresses match, I've realized the benefit of mixing things up with a combination of books, toys, collectibles, etc.  My main problem (other than not enough shelf space) is that I like too many things, not just the quantity, but the diversity.  While some may be satisfied with collecting a single character, such as Batman or Spider-Man, I like just about everything. "Reading from top to bottom [mostly]...Lisa...Carol...Fremont."

I've had to split this up, since there is a limit of the number of pictures I can upload, apparently.

Daredevil has superseded Spider-Man as my favorite hero these days.  I like to be able to showcase some of the covers of my hardcovers.  The Marvel Netflix shows have been really good and I just finished the Punisher one (better than any comic he's ever been in).  I'm a big fan of POP figures and the different scales of minimates, POPs, Super Hero Squad, etc allows everything to be seen.

The MEGO Hulk and Iron Man (with nose) I've had since I was little.  The 1977 7-11 Slurpee cup with Herb Trimpe art was a recent FCBD purchase for only $5.  The Grey Hulk/Banner POP set came from the Marvel Collector Corps box series -- the last cool one before they went lame and then went defunct.

All my newspaper strip HCs, except for Prince Valiant, which are in the bedroom.  One more Star Wars HC to go (best Star Wars comic EVER by Archie Goodwin & Al Williamson).  On top is the Wednesday Comics series from DC.

 My son's graphic novel is on the side.  The only volume I've read completely is Howard the Duck, which still reads well today.  The figure came from Toy Biz and was packaged with a Silver Surfer for some odd reason.

More to come...