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Flashback Friday 6/1: The Life of Walt

It’s been a few years now since the last time I did any, but for a number of years–thanks to a combination of Facebook, an active social life, taking loads of photos, and simply enjoying playing around with the imagery, creating logos, etc–I created a number of comic cover-style images, on the premise of one cover, one month of my life.

I’d started in 2006 or so, thinking it was a one-off sorta thing…and with Marvel‘s lead-up to Civil War with the Road to Civil War banner, and heading toward my final summer as a college (graduate) student, I did an image with a Road to Final Summer banner, and chose the numbering based on my first (full) month of grad school.

Later, I worked my way backwards to encompass my undergrad years, and since I’d already numbered based on grad school, numbered my undergrad years as a sequence–figuring with the Marvel philosophy of "rebooting" numbering for major changes.

As such, ultimately, I figured if my life was a comic series, there’d be a 225-ish issue run for my early years through high school; a 61-issue run for going off to college, and the series would meander a bit after college, before a new series focusing on grad school. That run would then drop any mention of being a student and just continue on.

Had I kept up with that, it’d be somewhere in the 150s or so at present. Maybe someday I’ll backtrack again to fill in the gap. For now, here is a small selection of some of my favorite "covers," or at least more significant. You’ll see how I modeled stuff after "real life" comics in design, numbering, etc.!

I used the name The Third Option from a Neil Gaiman/The Sandman quote: "Sometimes you wake up. Sometimes the fall kills you. And sometimes…when you fall, you fly."


Here’s the first issue of the "relaunch" as I headed off to college…much as seemed "reasonable" at the time (before the "seasonal" or "annual" relaunching began in earnest), the long-running series of my life would relaunch under the BGSU Student designation.


Here we jump to the "end" of "the college years," where the main series kicks off a several-issue "wrap-up"–Chapter One taking place here in the "main series," Chapters Two through Four would be a 3-issue mini-series of the story title Leaving Chapman & BGSU (a separate mini to allow stuff involving friends and such, rather than strictly a focus on my life…but still involving me, self-centered as that may sound).


The story would then wrap up in the fourth Annual–with the important, key event of the actual diploma arriving, and closing the door on a hugely important four-year period!


In the immediate "aftermath" of graduating and leaving BGSU…since the series would continue its numbering but the main ‘character’ was no longer a student, taking a cue from Deathstroke: The Terminator and its morph to Deathstroke: The Hunted around Zero Hour, I tacked Alumni over the Student and went from there.

This one’s from a few months after graduation, on a rather sunny day with one of my best friends.


Continuing on, a few months later, I got my first-ever (and thus far, only "solo") apartment, that I would spend a number of months in on a short-term "college town" lease.


Toward what would become the end of my time living in the city of Bowling Green, I visited the campus of Kent State University for the first time, having been accepted into a graduate program. Several friends went with me, and I recall our (in particular) finding/wandering the student center, its plaza, and the university library.


And here, almost literally, I closed the door on by time as a student and resident associated with Bowling Green, taking this photo as my last sight of the apartment I’d lived in for more than half a year.


Starting at Kent State, I only knew friends from before my time at the school, and playing off the Identity Crisis #1 cover, I "staged" this image of a photo in a frame–I have no idea what I intended with the "laying down the past" part, at least in association with the photo–one of my best friends since the start of freshman year at BGSU, and to this day nearly 18 years later! The photo itself–in the frame–is from the start of our sophomore year. I suppose that might be the "laying down the past"–laying down the old photos, the past, and embracing the new experiences–as I quickly got "plugged in" and involved at the university.


Again, jumping to the end–here, I modeled my final month as a university student after Marvel‘s The End books…I believe this one specifically modeled after X-Men: The End.

I was one of these "weird" ones that did not relish graduation, and was actually quite annoyed to have been "tricked" into graduating a semester earlier than intended…though the details of that are a personal story.


Here’s one of my favorite "selfie" images, taken in a lobby at a friend’s wedding in 2008. No filter or such–that image is genuine/raw–sitting o a bench with two large mirrors facing each other.

Back to trends of comics–a "running backup" story across several titles at the time. Based on the obvious ploy of conning people into buying more stuff for something that isn’t even necessarily the primary focus of a series, or "rewarding" those who do follow a bunch.

I believe I modeled this off the Hostile Takeover that ran across the Superman books during the Exile story that was going on back in 1989 when I first got into comics…and perhaps also a bit after some story DC did across its annuals with either the story itself or a series of stories were added to annuals…Private Lives or some such; I don’t recall as of this writing.


Jumping ahead again, here’s one of me with my dad…one of my favorites, and one of maybe three or four photos I have thus far of the two of us…something I do need to correct sooner than not!


Moving along, this "special" issue was a case of timing–right around Free Comic Book Day, one of my best friends did this sketch and sent it to me–I believe he’d been experimenting with his then-new iPad. I modified the image slightly, I believe, and added the cover dress. I still use the image as an ‘avatar’ in some contexts online!


After attending Gen Con with a couple friends, the "painting bug" finally bit, and I spent the remainder of one month gathering supplies, and then nearly two full months getting a bunch of Warmachine miniatures painted. This is a look at the majority of those minis…and unfortunately, it’s been almost seven years since that painting blitz, and I’ve yet to get back to painting minis again, despite wanting to. Then again, the time I’ve spent on this blog sorta supplants time that "could" otherwise be spent on painting…and life was also a lot simpler seven years ago.


A very special one-shot, once-in-a-lifetime experience for me came in the spring of 2012, attending the Pittsburgh Comic Con with a friend, meeting a couple of our other friends there. Had a great time at the convention, and icing on the cake was getting to meet (albeit for just a few seconds) Stan Lee and get a photo with him!


At the end of that year (and coinciding with what would be the 100th "issue"), I got to visit one of my best friends in Alabama, and shortly after getting back, saw The Hobbit (the first one) with several friends. I also got to see the Superman exhibit at the Cleveland Airport.


Finally (for now), a "selfie" from one of my longer beard phases and a hat that once belonged to my grandfather (who introduced me to comics!).

I’ve occasionally "experimented" with different "looks" when I’ve eventually gotten around to major trimmings or shaving. I haven’t been without facial hair since the start of February 2006, but I often vary the length and full beard versus the "goatee" or "circle beard" or whatever technical term there is for it.

Maybe another time I’ll show off some more images from these. as a whole, I’ve done over 200…but no need to bore anyone with more than these. I already feel overly self-indulgent…but being at a loss for a blog topic to end the week with, and having just pulled thousands of photos and saved images off my phone, I had these handily accessible and figured they’d make a good "flashback" for a Friday.

“Packaging” is important, too!

It’s certainly not a new topic by any means. But it re-occurred to me today as I was leaving Borders just how much the “packaging” of a product (specifically book or comic/collected-volume) matters.

I went in planning to purchase The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks with my 40%-off coupon of the weekend. The volume, however, seemed both too skinny for its retail price, and too small in dimensions overall–larger than, say, the Zombie Survival guide itself, but smaller than a standard (Marvel or DC) graphic novel. For $17 and flipping through and seeing it more flash than substance (more art than words) I actually decided I’ll hold off on it for now. Sure, it’s still on my want-list, but it can definitely wait.

I also noticed a couple of Marvel books in particular where the “Premiere Hardcover” was next to the TPB. With Captain America: The Man With No Face, the paperback is $15.99 while the hardback is $19.99. Now, I know as well as ANYone that $4 can be quite a bit. But these days, for the price of an average Marvel comic, I’ll pay the “upgrade fee” and get the hardcover when there’s so little difference in price! (when available/able, of course). But there’s something discouraging (for lack of better word) about seeing a nice hardcover with a paperback next to it…and realizing they’re practically the same price despite the price differences. (For that…I’d like to see the paperbacks go to a standard digest-size and be about half the price of the hardcovers.)

I happened across a Zombies anthology (different from the Living Dead anthology)…massive paperback. Granted, it’s all prose…but $20. And for page count, it DWARFS the average Marvel/IDW (and even DC) $20 paperbacks. For sheer size, it would certainly beat out a number of other books for the price.

I listened to a Comic Geek Speak podcast today where they talked about the TMNT Collected Volume One; the content’s good, obviously…but the packaging is very minimal…no text/pictures/description on the back, the spine is just text on a background, and the cover is simply a closeup of one of the Turtles’ faces…no logos, even on the cover.

Now, granted, in bookstores or even at home, the spine is probably what’s gonna be seen most…but still…it’s always nice when a book’s entirety just looks good as well as containing good quality content.

As a book person, I also prefer when things look good TOGETHER on the shelf…and for a series to look like a series…that is, a common trade dress and size. I have actually opted AGAINST buying books because they don’t fit with others or otherwise waited til I could get a different edition that WOULD fit. (I also specifically AVOID the extra-tall mass-market paperbacks…I mean, what’s the POINT of these? I suppose that’ll be a topic for another post).

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