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Comics Mean Connection

The week of April 29th leading into Free Comic Book Day on May 4th, I’m asking bloggers, podcasters & artists to post something explaining what comics mean to you. (prompt courtesy of Comics Kick Ass Week)

comicskaylaYesterday I shared a bunch of stream-of-conscious memories–memories tied to comics. Tonight I’m going to talk about how comics mean connection for me.

Simply being “into comics” forms a basic connection with more people than I can possibly imagine at any given time or place. It’s an ice-breaker (or follow-up to one, anyway), a common point of interest with far more people than even necessarily the average comic reader.

I can go to a number of different conventions and interact with hundreds (if not thousands) lifeofwalt092of other like-minded individuals of all ages/gender/etc. based simply on the shared enjoyment of comics. And while entirely a topic unto itself, many conventions can hold interest simply by relation to comics, or that other convention topics also hold interest to comic fans.

For better or worse, with a number of my friends where there’s that shared interest, even if we don’t have much else to talk about at a given time, comics–past, present, future, etc.–mean there’s almost always something to talk about.

Comic shops–where I get most of my comics, virtually every Wednesday or so–mean comics connect me to Places; to a “constant.” The local comic shop is a familiar space and a regular space in my life. While a number of other things in life have changed, the comic shop has remained more constant even than where I’ve lived since 1999.

lifeofwaltspecial2010Comics connect me to fictional characters and worlds–to places of the imagination, and beyond my own imagination. Growing up, many comic heroes are not horrible role models or examples to aspire to.

Comics connect me to certain times in my life, and many of my longboxes are like time-capsules…flipping through a box I can remember the semester of college I was in when I got those issues, or the job I was working, or the convention I attended.

Comics given to me as gifts provide the connection to another person the same as any other tangible gift one might give or receive.

I’m sure there are plenty of other things–and far more detail–that I could get into on this, but I’ll stick with scratching the surface for now.

Comics Mean Memories

The week of April 29th leading into Free Comic Book Day on May 4th, I’m asking bloggers, podcasters & artists to post something explaining what comics mean to you. (Comics Kick Ass Week)

Comics mean memories. A connection to the past, and to others. Comics have provided an example, provided escapes, provided inspiration. Comics present heroes and thoughts and ideas. Comics are education, and analogy, and rite of passage. Among so many other things.

For today, let me touch on comics as memories. While I no longer recall the exact timeframe, I do remember Grandpa bringing a stack of comics when he and Grandma visited once. These were DC issues–silver agey stuff. I don’t recall the Batman comic whose cover sticks in my mind right now, and haven’t a clue the Superman comics from this stack…but it was Superman. And Batman and Robin, and The Joker. (And I remember being surprised to learn Robin’s just a kid!)

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I remember being at the mall the following spring, and my sister came up to me in Waldenbooks with several comics, pointing out that they still make them. Superman and Batman, anyway. Mom bought at least a couple for me. While I couldn’t swear with any certainty if she bought all four in one go or if they were a couple different times, I do know my first four comics were Superman #31, Adventures of Superman #453, Batman #439, and Detective Comics #604. I have on my desk beside me what I believe to be THE actual copy of that Adventures of Superman issue from Waldenbooks, from spring 1989.

I remember talks with Grandpa, the shared interest in these brightly-colored comic characters. I remember his excitement at tracking down the entirety of the Avengers‘ crossover Operation: Galactic Storm.

I remember he was so tickled when he came across the 1999 or so Batman Beyond #1 while at a Kmart. He wasn’t bothered by the new character–he was excited to read it, and went on and on about this “new” Batman, that the original had finally retired and a new guy was going to be Batman.

Jumping back a couple years, I remember sharing the Heroes Return early issues with him–especially Thor #s 1-2 and how he enjoyed those.

I remember the day Superman died–of Dad going to the comic shop to pick up the whole story (we’d reserved and elected to wait for the end of the story), and of our sitting in the living room that night, reading the entire story; and the couple months after as we (weekly) shared the experience of reading the Funeral for a Friend issues.

For that matter, I remember all those weeks that Dad would get home from work, ready to just settle in and relax for the night, but he’d turn around and go back out with me so I could get a couple new comics for the week.

I remember the shared interest in comics with my friend Zack, especially the summer of 1992 and throughout ’93 and ’94; the death and return of Superman, Batman’s Knightfall, the beginnings of the Spider-Man clone saga, the Infinity War, Eclipso: The Darkness Within.

I remember the shared interest in comics with my friend Jim; of his introducing me to the X-Men…through the Pryde of the X-Men vhs tape, a couple issues of Uncanny X-Men from the 1991 “relaunch,” of him “quizzing” me on characters I now know as Storm, Wolverine, Bishop, and others. He introduced me to Thanos, through The Infinity Gauntlet, and it was the realization that Adam Warlock was to appear in Rune and my recognizing the character from Jim often talking about him–that caused Rune to be one of the series I followed most closely in late 1995.

I remember sharing and talking comics at lunches with my friend Craig, and of incorporating comics into papers I’d write for school.

I remember countless bike rides in good weather (and bad) to the comic shops–biking as far as 30 minutes just to get to the comic shop.

I remember making friends with a “neighbor” in the dorm freshman year at college–talking X-Men, X-Man; the Shattering and The Twelve.

I remember reading all those Hellblazer issues the summer I worked at a camp in Michigan, bonding with a couple other workers over the Vertigo stuff. And that winter, my parents giving me several Sandman volumes for my birthday; of reading/discussing those with my friend Drew. (And my parents gave me the rest of the volumes for Christmas!)

I remember getting into early Ultimate Spider-Man with my friend Mike, and the shared reading experiences there.

And I remember all those Fridays with Mike, Drew, and Greg–going to the gaming store, the comic shop, Skyline Chili, and in general hanging out so many Fridays that year.

I remember seeing my letter published in an issue of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles vol. 4, and how cool that was to me–also tied to the memory of finding the new TMNT toys with Drew, and his not only not discouraging me, but ENcouraging me to just buy all 4 turtles rather than regret it and have trouble finding them later.

I remember going with Drew to the Wizard World: Chicago con in 2007; meeting Paul Jenkins and Jim Starlin, attending a bunch of the DC and Marvel panels; the comics stuff we found and bought and shared.

I remember Lonnie introducing me to GI Joe, and buying an “extra copy” of Master & Apprentice #1, and giving that to me–which led to me tracking down back issues and following the Devil’s Due GI Joe series for years. (And beginning a tradition of comics-related ‘exchanges’ wherein we acquire stuff for the other and periodically actually get stuff to the other).

I remember several comic con excursions with my friends Earl and Michael–a couple small local cons, a new con this past November, and a trip to the Wizard World Columbus con a couple years back.

I remember talking comics often with my friend Hillary, and of at least a couple years our hitting several comic shops for Free Comic Book Day.

I remember a couple Free Comic Book Day trips with my friend Bridgett along with Earl and Michael; and a definite once-in-a-lifetime experience, meeting Stan Lee at the Pittsburgh Comic Con last year, and her agreeing to be in a photo with me with Mr. Lee.

I’m sure all this truly just scratches the surface. But all these positive memories because of comics…and this is hardly with even looking at the stories themselves…but the social bonds, the friends I’ve made, the friendships developed at least in part due to comics.

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I came across this Comics Kick Ass thing the other day, and decided it’s well worth sharing, and provides an excellent prompt for at least a couple posts this week. Find out more at the Tumblr page or Facebook event.

Vexed by Variants

injusticegodsamongus1314I just posted the other day about my enthusiasm toward the Injustice: Gods Among us digital-first series. However, turns out the 4th “print edition” came out this week…and I’ve not had much luck toward finding early issues.

I did make it to another comic shop (that I don’t get to all that often) where I found issues 2 & 3. I don’t remember much about 3, except that I’m NOT buying a #3 when I don’t know for certain if #4 or #5 are even out yet or not…and certainly not when I can’t get #1 and #2.

BUT…this shop had #2…just not the first print.

Which normally wouldn’t bother me…but the printing they had in-stock was one of these horrible “sketch variant” or “pencils/inks-only” non-first-print deals, basically black and white linework with the logo…DC couldn’t even be bothered to provide COLOR with the thing.

So now, rather than almost cheerfully double-dipping or at least following the more expensive print format…I’m ready to say ok, fine, had my one-shot reading of this series-so-far…and now my “demand” is not being met, so I’m done.

injusticegodsamongus01to06If I can’t get ANY printing (for cover price) that actually looks like it belongs with the series in general–especially when a series otherwise has a fairly consistent look/feel/tone…you’re gonna lose me.

I am so sick of variants as-is already just with the “first print” of issues. So here, rather than “satisfying a demand” for the issue…I’ve refused to buy an issue BECAUSE the cover is an “inferior product” to me. And further–that’s one less issue to have, and so one more hurdle to actually converting me to a customer.

If they’d do something “simple,” like putting a small Roman numeral somewhere on the cover to make it clear to the caring eye that the thing’s NOT the “first print” or “first edition,” that’d satisfy the collector, and the reader like me who just wants the cover that matches the marketing (and the Comics app).

(That’s what turned me off completely to House of M back in the day: the rare/”ratioed” variant cover’s image was used for advertising, and the “regular” cover seemed boring and generic by comparison; seemed Marvel thought so, too, given they didn’t even use it for much advertising that I remember).

I’m not buying into a series at #4 or #5 or even #6 and going from there–if I can’t get #1 that looks like the #1 in the app (image itself and the image’s coloring) I’m not likely to buy #2. No #2, no #3, and so on. If I have to wait for the collected edition…well, so be it–but I’m done with the series until then.

One last digital purchase (chapter 15, ending what will likely be issue #5) and then it’s a crapshoot from there–if the collected edition comes out on a slow week and I feel like splurging for the purchase then, or if I get around to ordering it from Amazon or such for a discount. Had that #2 been a fully-colored cover, matching the image I see in the app, I might have bought #2-3 then, bought #4 when it hit the other day, and then be that much more interested in tracking down #1, and going from there. Instead, a crappy variant–rather than encourage a sale–has DIScouraged me not only from that issue, not only from the issues so far…but from the series itself: print AND digital.

I prefer the collected volumes. I’m not going to support the single issues when I feel like I’m getting the raw end of the deal.

More Dalek Acquisitions

Tonight while hanging out with a friend, we visited the local Books-a-Million. She also being a fan of the good Doctor, we both bought a couple of the micro figures.

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Already having a blue Dalek and getting another, I swapped it with her since she managed to get two Amy minis. I wound up with two red Daleks and Amy Pond outta the deal…and totally loving these figures!

four_daleks

I now have four of these little Daleks…quite cool in and of themselves. But along with the minis, I also have a larger plush talking Dalek, whose home for the foreseeable future is going to be my desk at work.

daleks_tall

The large talking Dalek has 3 phrases: “Exterminate! Exterminate!” / “You would make a good Dalek…” / “You are an enemy of the Daleks! You must be destroyed!”

New Comics Outnumbered by Bargains This Week

Having decided not too long ago to let FF and X-Men: Legacy go when they were the ONLY new comics due out that week that I would buy, and neither was officially on my pull list. I found myself in a similar position this week, but this time, didn’t want to pass up the new TMNT issue, and the Hardbacks sale was incrementing to 80% off this week.

I totally forgot that I was going to stick with digital for Batman, Inc. (d’oh!), but still found several new hardcovers…and a vintage box of TMNT trading cards still in their original packaging.

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All told, this week’s haul cost me less than the cover price of the Ultimate Comics Doomsday volume.

The local comic shop–Kenmore Komics–started off with these various hardbacks at 50% off cover, and the discount’s been increasing 10% each week. Next week–assuming anything other than Ultimate Human is left–I may snag a few other volumes.

But for now, I think this sudden huge influx of new hardcovers is about done, though I’ve got a short list of books I’m after that I’m probably going to have to pay a lot more for individually.

Dalek(s) Acquisition

A couple months back, I bought several of the Lego mini-figures blind-purchase packs…didn’t get any of the characters I was “interested” in. A couple weeks ago at a Books-a-Million with friends, I spotted Doctor Who micro-figures, also blind-purchase, for the same price.

microfiguresdaleks0422

This week, while at a Books-a-Million looking for Doctor Who on DVD, I wound up buying two of these blind-purchase packs. I felt the packaging–I really wanted a Dalek–and one pack was bulging.

I also realized I could feel the bumps of the Dalek’s rivets, and found another pack that I thought I could feel the same.

As it worked out, I was correct in my ‘feelings’ and scored a Dalek from the series 1 package, and a Dalek Strategist from the series 3 package. (I probably would have bought a third pack if they’d had any of the series 2 packs).

microfiguresdaleksvslegosironman0422

Best of all, these are basically in-scale with Lego mini-figures, and even fit on Lego pegs…which makes BOTH products that much MORE attractive to me!

series1  series3

I’m also quite interested in the Tardis mini-set (and it comes with the Eleventh Doctor and Amy Pond) and there are multi-packs out there (Daleks, Weeping Angels, Villain Assortment) so I’m not too concerned about getting a bunch of these blind packs.

Still…quite cool for an impulse-buy!

Weekend Wonders and Even More Comics’ Pricing concerns

Though I’ve been largely avoiding most of DC‘s recent output, not much caring for most of the New 52 stuff…this weekend, I found myself totally drawn into their recent Injustice: Gods Among Us digital-first series. I’m pretty sure I missed the first print edition issue (see below for the result of that little interest).

injusticegodsamongus01to06

But, having given the first issue away for “free” recently, I read it…and decided what the heck…another $1.98 to spend $1.98 for a ~30 page comic story wasn’t bad at all in this age of a few $2.99 but mostly $3.99 comics.

But I got to the end of chapter 3 (each $3.99 print edition I believe “collects” 3 chapters of the story as a single issue) and was interested still, so I went ahead and got chapters 4-6. Then 7-14.

And read the entire lot of ’em.

injusticegodsamongus07to12

For something based on a videogame I haven’t played and probably won’t get to play (I own an old Wii that’s been a “Netflix box” and these days won’t even recognize wifi so just sits there), this series has been rather enjoyable–at least for a one-night, one-time, read-it-all-in-a-single-sitting kinda thing.

I might even “double-dip” and pick this up in print if I can find the first issue for cover price (and if not a first print, then hopefully no funky color variance or stupid “sketch/pencils-only” variants or such).

injusticegodsamongus1314

I’d followed the first bunch of Legends of the Dark Knight digital “issues” until I realized each “issue” was actually only about 10-12 pages, and once they started coming out in print, I’ve stuck with the print editions. And I might do the same here, having “sampled” a big chunk of stuff, and once the print catches up to this, see from there.

Friday I stopped by another comic shop with the intention of picking up Injustice #1 if they had it. Instead, I wound up buying four other things (they didn’t have Injustice #1).

doctorwhovol3issues05and06

I noticed an issue of Doctor Who from IDW. It was #6; I flipped through it, noticed it was “part 2 of 2” of whatever the story is, and saw #5 right behind it–part 1 of 2. Figured with the mood I was in, Amy and Rory on the cover of #5 and having JUST watched the midseason 7 finale The Angels Take Manhattan, I decided to grab both issues, just to check out the comics version of things, since I’m quite enjoying the tv series.

mightavengersdarkreignandaliensinhumancondition01

Despite thinking I’d gotten my fill of cheap hardbacks last week…seeing the 16+ issue Mighty Avengers: Dark Reign volume (normally $44.99) for $10.99, I decided to pick it up. That’s cheaper than buying 4 of the single issues, or like paying just under 70 cents per issue…and getting them without ads and in this single, hefty hardcover tome.

mightavengersdarkreignandaliensinhumancondition02

However, the Avengers volume stands in stark contrast to the Aliens volume…which incidentally carries a cover price of $10.99. Not horrible for what it is–a hardcover “graphic novella,” much in line with one I’d bought quite awhile back. I’m a bit of a sucker for the various Aliens comics…and not having kept up with Dark Horse Presents, I’m kinda enjoying seeing some of the specific stories serialized in that series collected as their own titles so I can buy “just” what I’m specifically interested in (so far, X and Aliens).

mightavengersdarkreignandaliensinhumancondition03

I’ve mentioned several times in the past in this blog that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles stuff is my main “weakness” where I’ll overlook pricing in a way that I refuse to do with Marvel/DC in particular. Aliens books tend to be another…though I much prefer the Aliens Omnibus volumes for the “classic” comics material rather than the full-dimensioned smaller collected volumes.

Definitely an expensive weekend overall (especially with several World War Hulk digital issues thrown in there–I might not have bothered with the main 5-issue series, even at 99-cents per issue…but already having #1 thanks to the Marvel 700 #1s Giveaway, I figured having the full event “core series” for the price of a single print issue was worthwhile.

But I think this coming week is going to be fairly small, so that should make up for it a bit.

More bargain bin finds and even more shiny comics

This was quite a week for new comics (as opposed to last week’s hardcovers!). Along with the new “regular” comics and the TMNT #50 Treasury Edition, I also grabbed a handful of issues from the bargain bin…might’ve dug more, but this latest batch isn’t in the greatest of condition, nor did I see any significant runs, and didn’t have the time or inclination to pick through my list of missing X-issues.

I know I found at least a couple of these Transformers issues recently at Comic Heaven in Willoughby,  but while I recalled finding 3 or so issues, I couldn’t remember if it was 1-3, 2-4, or some other combo. For $0.25/ea, I’ll chance it, though. Worst-case…it’s still pretty cool that I’ve found these for this kinda pricing twice now in the span of just a few months!

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I know I picked up at least a couple of these last November with the slew of X-books I bought, but also vaguely recall missing a chapter or two of this Shattershot crossover. Perhaps inspired by snagging the Evolutionary War and Atlantis Attacks omnibii last week, I went ahead and grabbed these annuals…the entire 4-parter for only $1. Not bad at all, especially as “just” a reading copy!

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Given there was no apparent “run,” I didn’t mind snagging Spider-Man #1 just for the heckuvit AS a #1. Besides, the gold ink sorta made it fit in with the others. I actually snagged two copies of Amazing Spider-Man #365…with at least one friend in mind who I’ve been giving some of these “shiny comics” to. And these days, some of these vintage or near-vintage comics that came with posters bound-in…25-cents is worth it for the poster alone (or for pulling a cover off to serve as a poster). Amazing Spider-Man #375 I grabbed for the shiny cover and sentimentality…I remember way back in 1993 or so when it came out and the handful of other “foil web patterned” covers.

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I didn’t consciously recall the Dr. Strange issue, and grabbed it solely for the shiney cover. While I know I already have the Punisher 2099 #1 and Silver Surfer #50, they again fell under the shiny cover bit.

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In total, I bought 15 25-cent comics this week…15 issues for 24 cents cheaper than the cover price of ONE standard new Marvel issue.

Keeps it in perspective, at least for me!

TMNT #50 Treasury Edition

I learned of this “treasury edition” a few weeks back, and asked about it at the comic shop, and was put down for an order. For the sheer physical size of the thing, and the price of usual comics, $9.99 seemed like a steal for this. Of course, now that it finally came in and I had a chance to look at it, it did not turn out to be exactly what I’d expected.

tmnt050treasurycover

I’d expected this to simply be an over-sized reprint of the original issue–just the original issue in its entirety, blown up to this massive size. Instead, it turned out that this is basically a companion piece to the issue (blown up to this massive size).

tmnt050treasuryinterior01

We get a look at the original layouts to the issue, beautifully reproduced–so much so that I kept looking closer: the intro to the volume references the ballpoint pen, and darned if everything doesn’t look like Kevin Eastman himself actually drew on blank pages and handed the result to me! I also like the annotations throughout…

tmnt050treasuryinterior02

Once beyond the layouts for the entire issue, we get a look at many of the final pages in various states (pencils-then-inks, etc); again annotated, allowing quite a look at the process that went into the issue.

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And then at the back of the volume, we get the original notes/outline to the entire City at War story, which proved interesting reading (and has bee all the more eager to dive into the story when my copy of the TMNT Ultimate Collection vol. 4 arrives in the next few days!)

tmnt050treasurysize

As I said above…this is very much an oversized publication, as you can see here. While this wasn’t exactly what I expected, and I would have gladly paid $15-$20 for this plus the full-size pages of the original issue, it’s quite a worthwhile volume.

The original Eastman & Laird run, the Tales run, Return to New York, and City at War are my favorite of the original series. And the original printing of #50 back in 1992 or so was offhand THE first issue of the “real” TMNT that I ever bought/owned, so it has special significance for me.

I even have a City at War poster that’s hung in my living room for the last couple years since I acquired it that I fully intend to get framed one of these days.

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This Week’s New Comics haul: 4/17

This was another rather large week of new comics, which leaves me truly hoping next week is a small one!

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The cheapest of the bunch are the issues I’m not as likely to read as soon–I’m waiting for the full Cyber Force arc to be out (1 more to go), having been picking the series up with the price being quite appealing. Jirni is a typical Aspen book; but fell under my standing request for $1-or-less promo-priced issues.

I continue to be frustrated with Valiant‘s clustering of titles. X-O Manowar #12 is out this week, as is Bloodshot #10…marking the fullness of a year I’ve been following all of the new Valiant books. You’ll see Archer & Armstrong #9 there, too–my THIRD copy of the issue, due to my unfortunate spilled-liquid-on-my-comics-and-accidentally-bought-the-stupid-variant-as-replacement incident this past weekend.

Superior Spider-Man is on my chopping block…I’m pretty much just looking for a good jumping-off point while struggling with the idea of the excitement I had just 3 months ago for this title. It’s not bad, but I’m just losing interest a bit–primarily due to the $3.99 price point for the thing!

Cable and X-Force had bought itself a couple extra issues when I saw the ad for this issue–but unless I’m HIGHLY impressed when I read it, I do intend this to be my final issue of this series…in this case due entirely to the price point.

Finally, a new mini-series of “micro-series” for TMNT, focusing on the villains, begins with a look at Krang. While not particularly fond of the character in the cartoon, the IDWTMNT-verse iteration has been a much more worthwhile character…I consider this much the same as comparing the cartoon Cobra Commander to the comics’ Cobra Commander in GI Joe.

20130417hardbacks

Continuing the goldmine of bargain-priced hardbacks…Ultimate Spider-Man vol. 11 came in this week, for the sweet price of 75%-off-cover, making it cheaper than 3 single issues of Superior Spider-Man…and come to think of it, about the same price as 3-4 of the original singles it collects.

And not being one to turn down “free,” chose the Punisher volume as my “buy one of those, get one of these free” book.

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