Thursday, August 31, 2006

Good Week:
Comic Pants launched to great success, and I'm feeling more energized about my writing than I have in quite some time as a result.

My little girl started preschool, and seems to be enjoying it and doing well.

I've finally started catching up on Rescue Me, and I'm enjoying it more than I thought I would. I also have a ton of DVDs to watch, including Arrested Development Vol. 3 and The Tick Season One (cartoon).

The 20th anniversary went off great, and was a huge success.

Things are good at work, at home and in my virtual life on the Internet. For now, life is good.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Get Pantsed:
Well, it's all over the Internet at this point, so I'd be surprised if anyone read about it for the first time here, but...

Don and I are shutting down The Fourth Rail, and I've helped launch a new review site called Comic Pants. I'm very excited about the new place.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Dragon's Lair 20th Anniversary:
This weekend, Dragon's Lair (the shop where I'm one of the managers) celebrated its 20th anniversary. I've only been working there six years, but that's still a fair bit of time, so I'm pretty invested in the store and was hoping for a good event. It went off great. There were a few hitches, like Josh Howard being unable to come or Matt Sturges (co-writer of Jack of Fables) having to bail on his Round Rock appearance to spend some family time, but overall, it was a great event.

I got to drive around Gail Simone and her husband, Scott, picking them up from the airport and taking them to and from the party on Friday night. Gail and Scott are both extremely nice people, and fun to talk to, and even though I probably got to talk to them over the course of about an hour throughout the weekend, I was still wishing for more time. Gail also had a huge turnout of fans, and she signed all their books and talked to them and everybody had a terrific time.

Gail was paired in the signings with Scott Kurtz, creator of PVP. Scott also had a pretty big crowd, and I know we turned a few people into fans that day as well. Scott was kind enough to do a sketch in my "Monkeys, Pirates, Ninjas and Robots" theme book, as well. Also signing with that pair was local writer Jeff Stevenson, who had with him copies of his new Image/Shadowline book Task Force One and his self-published book Steampunk Fairies.

We have three stores (one in Round Rock, one in Austin, one in San Antonio), so we had three drivers ferrying the creators to each shop. Our next signing in Round Rock was at 2:00, and featured two members of the Royal Academy of Illustration and Design, Cameron Stewart and Chip Zdarsky. They too were busy the whole time, sketching and signing. In fact, I never got to get my sketchbook to either one, as they were busy drawing for customers and for a couple of the other employees. But I already have two sketches from Cameron in my sketchbook, and I didn't want to be greedy. Poor Cameron and Chip were driving around in Texas in an un-air conditioned car, too... they got the real Texas experience.

Finally, from 6:00 to 8:00, we had Kristian, artist of the IDW book Supermarket and the upcoming DMZ #11. He had prints with him that sold fairly well, as well as a few issues of Supermarket, and he also was doing sketches the whole time. He was nice enough to do a sketch in my theme sketchbook as well. After the whole thing finished, most of the employees (save Dave Farabee, the other manager, who stayed to close up shop) went to dinner along with Kristian and one of our customers, David Figueroa, who had been taking pictures for us all day. In fact, I've put up all the pictures he took as a flickr set.

From there, it was off to the Live Art Show, being put on by my good friend Chris Nicholas at Club Deville. It was a great show, with several local artists alongside Chip, Cameron and Kristian. Everybody did beautiful work, and me and my group bought a ton of art. Dave Martindale bought one of Kristian's pieces, and I bought the other one. David Figueroa bought two of Cameron's pieces, and Nick Budd bought the other one. Even Kristian bought some art, picking up a nice piece from Miss Monster.

At around 2:00, the bar closed down, and I gave Kristian and our Dragon's Lair event organizer Jillian Gowen a ride back to his car so they could head out to a party. I was invited to come, but it was late, and I'm old, so I went home and got to sleep at about 2:30 instead. It was a great time, though, and although it was a long day (from about 8:00 am until 2:30 am) on Saturday, it was well worth it.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Pantheon High:
My buddy Paul Benjamin is interviewed over at Newsarama about his new Tokyopop series, Pantheon High. I've seen some of the pages from it, and it looks great. Go take a look!
Weekly Comics to Come - August 30, 2006:
Wow, tiny, tiny week for me. There's Lost Girls, of course, but I still haven't decided if I'm going to drop $75 on that bad boy, I'm going to let Dave play guinea pig and try to sneak a peek at his copy.

All Star Superman #5 (More Silver Age style wackiness from Morrison and Quitely... it's late, but it's not All Star Batman and Robin late)
American Virgin #6 (Been a while since we saw an issue of this one, too... but it's always a good read)
Civil War Young Avengers & Runaways #2 (First issue was a solid pairing of the teams, and skimmed past most of my annoyance with the Civil War premise)
She-Hulk 2 #11 (Following up on the story from the Marvel Westerns: Two-Gun Kid special, I've been wanting to see that for a while now)
Usagi Yojimbo #96 (Looks like the new assassin is on Usagi's trail)

Previews Vol #26.9 (New Down the Line should be up sometime next week or week after)
Solo #12 (Sorry to see the book end, even sorrier that the last issue doesn't feature an artist that I have a pre-existing fondness for. I can't help but think of how many great artists never got their shot at this book)
Star Wars Rebellion #3 (Solid Star Wars classic era adventure)

Thursday, August 24, 2006

It Occurs to Me:
When looking at Marc-Oliver Frisch's analysis of DC sales over at The Beat, that there's a very easy snapshot of the comics market to be had. The vast majority of the market, sadly, is only interested in superheroes and don't have much interest in branching out. Because the easiest, most accessible diversion from superheroes for adult readers is probably DC's Vertigo line, which features high quality, the same production values and even elements that make it similar enough to superheroes for an easy transition, but the numbers are just miles apart. Witness:

Justice League (the top-selling DC book for the month)? 160,000 readers
Fables (the top-selling Vertigo book for the month)? 27,000 readers

Now, it's not hard science or anything, but it's probably fair to say, looking at this, that the audience for superhero comics is over five times larger than the audience for non-superhero comics. At best.

That's a shame, and probably as good an indicator as any of what the small press is up against these days. They're competing for a pool that is, at its strongest, maybe 30,000 readers strong. You know, just slightly the level where DC and Marvel generally start thinking superhero books aren't doing well and need cancelling.

Of course, there's the bookstore market, which hopefully is a large, new pool of readers that are probably more interested in non-superhero stuff, but still... kind of depressing.

It also occurs to me I've mostly been bitching on this site for the last few posts, so the next one will definitely contain good news and good stuff. Certainly there's been plenty of that fairly recently as well.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

When I Meet Him, I'm Gonna Kick His Ass:
I refer, of course, to the gremlin plaguing my life of late.

The good news is that after all my worrying about returning the HTIB and such to Best Buy, I went in and the customer service could not have been better. Everyone was very nice and helpful, one guy spent a fair amount of time in the home theatre section showing me the various DVD players, another helped me locate Rogue's Gallery, the new album of sea shanty covers (weird, I know, but it sounded interesting) and I walked out of there with a new, one-disc player from Sony that should have been easy to hook up and worked perfectly with Katy's controller.

Caught the should have, did you?

After the luck I've been having with electronics lately, I don't know why I was surprised. It took me all of five minutes to get the DVD player hooked up, and I was so happy... except that I noticed a loud buzzing sound whenever there wasn't other sound on the screen to cover it. When people were talking, or music was playing, etc., I could hear the occasional pop of static or an underlying buzz, but when it was supposed to be silent, there was a loud sound of interference. After doing some experimenting, I came to the conclusion that I had picked a defective player. The jacks worked with everything else (PS/2, TV, VCR), whether I used the switcher or not made no difference, it was obviously the DVD player. Somehow, I had magically picked the broken one.

Suzanne took pity on me and said she'd go exchange it tomorrow. Hopefully she'll have better luck.

Of course, she's been suffering today with a remarkably spotty Internet connection, and I ran into that when I got home as well. It would literally be up one minute and down the next, making Internet use extremely frustrating. It seems to be working better now, but I'm starting to feel like I really do have a gremlin messing with my stuff.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

You Can't Fight Entropy:
After Suzanne came home and told me that she knew about the broken toilet and fixed it, I was starting to feel a little bit better about everything breaking. Maybe it was just a blessing in disguise, and I could get a good stereo system and the wireless headphones I'd been wanting, and this was just the right excuse.

Hah. Foolish mortal.

So I spent the better part of Sunday night researching HTIB (Home Theatre in a Box) systems online, after taking a quick glance around Best Buy that afternoon to get a general vibe. I had a few in mind, but generally decided I wanted the Panasonic SC-HT940, if the outputs would work. I could get it from Circuit City, with the wireless adapter, for about $500, and pick it up the next day, and pick up a good pair of wireless headphones for about $45 on Amazon. Not bad.

But I wanted to check the outputs, and make sure that was what I wanted, so I headed out to Best Buy on Monday. The guy there was very helpful, and after trying to steer me towards a more complicated receiver (which I didn't want, I wanted the convenience of HTIB, even if that wasn't the best possible sound), he helped me figure out that the Panasonic would work. Picked that up, with the adapter for wireless rear speakers and a wireless pair of headphones, plus a 4-year maintenance plan (hey, I just had a DVD player die on me after a year). Grand total about $900, a valuable lesson in shopping online, but the guy had done the legwork, so I wasn't about to turn around and buy it online at that point.

Got home, spent the better part of a frustrating day setting it up. The inputs didn't work entirely right and required a workaround, the wireless speakers didn't seem to be working... by the time Suzanne left to go to her mama's group, I was good and frustrated. However, I did finally get everything working, even if you had to pull the S-video cable every time you wanted to watch a VHS tape. The wireless headphones were nice, and even worked in my office. Great. Sound wasn't perfect, but new cables would probably fix that. It was a headache, but probably worth it.

Hah. Foolish mortal.

One of the primary reasons we couldn't just use my PS/2 or another pre-existing DVD player in the house is because Katy has this InteractTV thing she loves to play with, and it has to be programmed kind of like a universal remote. This morning, Suzanne discovered that the codes weren't working with the new DVD player. I called up Panasonic, and they informed me that their DVDs didn't work with most universal remotes. They even tried to present it as a *feature*, "Why would you want to use another remote? You can only access all the features on our remote!"

So, disappointing sound, high price, doesn't work with the Tivo remote or Katy's remote... guess what, it's going back. That meant I had to spend most of this morning undoing all my hard work from Monday, worrying about what kind of restocking fee I'll have to pay and if my 4-year plan will be just money wasted, or if I can get that back as well. Lesson learned? If all you need is a DVD player, and you've been fine with just the TV sound for several months, don't go out and get a home stereo unless you're willing to pay somebody else to install it and really go all out on the high end stuff. So on Wednesday, I'll try to return all this stuff (saying goodbye to the wireless headphones will be the hardest part, as I couldn't get them to work with just the TV) and buy a simple, $50+ Phillips DVD player that I saw on Sunday and should have bought in the first place.

To be continued...

Monday, August 21, 2006

Why Paul O'Brien Remains My Favorite Reviewer:
"Oh god, another Wolverine miniseries. I wish I was dead."

Funny, sarcastic, insightful... and that's after years of a reviewing focus on the X-Books, which would brain damage a lesser man.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

The last two days, it seems that everything is breaking on me. OK, not everything, maybe, but a couple major things just randomly broke, within hours of each other, and now it's got me paranoid.

The first thing that "broke" was the airline system. When I booked our Florida trip through Travelocity, they wouldn't let me go ticketless on Delta. I had to have paper tickets. I don't want them, I *like* electronic ticketing, but it's only $20 more, and the flights are priced right, so I figure what the hell. Big mistake.

When we're flying from Orlando to Miami, in the midst of the heightened security (this was the day after the new "no liquids" rule) and with a sleeping 3-year-old between us, Suzanne and I must have exchanged boarding passes about four times. We had to show them to the security agent at the line, the security agent at the scanner and somewhere else as well. At some point, during all this juggling, the paper ticket became detached from Katy's ticket. We didn't realize it, I'm not used to flying with them, so I didn't really even know they were there.

When we get up to get on the plane, they won't let us on. Other people are boarding around us, the flight takes off in like 10 minutes and they're telling us that we can't take the flight. Or at least, Katy can't, which pretty much means we can't either. I started getting desperate and even offered to re-buy the ticket. They checked in on that, found out that the price would be $520 (about $300 more than I paid for it originally, since now it's the "on the day" price). I said no, of course, trying to work something else out. Then I find out that if we don't get on the plane, we're still going to have to buy a ticket tomorrow for Katy, plus pay a change fee for mine and Suzanne's tickets, *plus* get a hotel in Orlando for the night... I bit the bullet and paid the $520, on top of the $1200 I'd already paid for the flight. Expensive lesson in not flying with paper tickets ever again.

Last night, I came home, hoping to finally watch The Matador (which I rented from Netflix about a month ago) on my 5-disc Sony DVD player, which I bought about a year ago. Except I couldn't remember which tray it was in, so I tried to open the player. It said "tray locked." Weird. It would still play the discs, but it wouldn't open. Thinking maybe somehow a child lock feature had been engaged, I went to the web, found the PDF manual and found that there was indeed a child lock. Tried to disengage, it wouldn't work. Suzanne and I tried several times in different button combinations, sure that it was child locked somehow but we couldn't get it open. Then I found another indicator on the manual and realized it hadn't been mistakenly child locked, but had just decided to stop working. The advice was "Take it in to a Sony repair center."

I guess a year later, it's not expected that it would still be working, as the thing is out of warranty, and they want to charge me almost as much as I paid for it (or would pay for a new one) to get it repaired. And I still need to make sure I get the discs out, because I may like the Matador, I may not, but I don't want to buy one only to return it to Netflix in replacement for the disc stuck in my player. Nor do I want to replace Dumbo, A Bug's Life or Disc Two of Newsradio Season Four, also stuck. So, resigning myself to having to buy a new DVD player, Suzanne and I crack this one open and get the discs out. Everything looks fine, the mechanisms seem to work, so I can't help but think it's a weird software glitch. But I have *no* idea how to fix a DVD player. The upside, at least, is that I've been meaning to pick up a new Home Theatre speaker set for the living room "someday" and all of them came with a DVD player, which I already have. Now I guess I don't, so that'll expand my shopping options a bit.

This morning, around 9:30, Suzanne and Katy got up to go see a kid's show at a local coffeehouse. I was sleeping in. About one minute after they left, I heard a loud pop from the direction of the bathroom. I walk out and see that for some reason, the pump in the back of the toilet in Katy's bathroom has popped up, and water is now spraying (thankfully into the tank, not onto the floor yet). I turned the water off at the wall and tried to see if I could fix it, but the pump is a lost cause. Randomly. Just decided to pop up and off, without anyone having used it in the last 10 minutes or touched it at all. Glad I was home, or that bathroom probably would have been flooded.

The upside here is that Suzanne is planning on redoing the bathrooms, with new toilets, sinks, etc. and even has an estimate. Of course, if we wait on the new toilet/bathroom, that means we're back to having a 1-bathroom house for a month (at least) and probably longer, so I doubt we'll be doing that.

So tomorrow I've got to shop around for a new DVD player and call a plumber, all the while keeping in mind that I burned about $500 more on the Florida trip than I meant to and hoping that nothing else breaks. Cross your fingers for me, and if anyone has any gremlin repellant, please send it my way.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Free Sample Comics!:
Thanks to Johanna Draper Carlson at Comics Worth Reading, I discovered that DC has made the
First Issues of Preacher, Fables, 100 Bullets, Y The Last Man and Sandman available to those of you who want to sample the books before diving into the trade.

This is terrific, and if you've never read Fables (my favorite monthly book), you must go and look HERE. It's free, all it costs is a few minutes of your time, and I'd be very surprised if you didn't find a new, much beloved comic out of the time invested.

Oh, and the Y PDF has the interesting text piece on the social effects of the plague that was sadly missing from the collected editions.
Greg McElhatton's New Site:
Greg McElhatton is one of my favorite reviewers, has been for a long time, and if you haven't already heard, he's moved to a brand new site. I missed announcing it the first day because I was out of town, but what better time than by linking to his review of Read About Comics ? Beyond! #1-2, which I agree whole-heartedly with?

Greg's move to a new site is not the only one you'll be hearing about on this blog, by the way. But more about that in the last week of August, when it's time for announcements.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Weekly Comics to Come - August 23, 2006:
Looks like a really good week. A few anticipated second issues (Jack of Fables, Elephantmen, Wonder Woman), several first issues of interest (Batman and Mad Monk, Eberron, Heroes for Hire) and a good crop of trades and ongoing series. I had ten potential "top five picks" and it was tough whittling them down.

Batman And The Mad Monk #1 (I've read this one already, and it's great, following up nicely off Batman and The Monster Men and featuring terrific art by Wagner, intriguing villains and a "Year One" vibe that I love. If you liked Long Halloween, you'll love Wagner's Batman stuff)
Eberron Eye Of The Wolf #1 (I love the Eberron setting, probably my favorite D&D campaign I've ever run, and I'm excited by the possibility of comics)
Elephantmen #2 (First issue was fantastic, with beautiful art. No reason to expect the second will be any less impressive)
Jack Of Fables #2 (Again, great first issue, and with that cliffhanger, I can't wait to see where it's headed next. Quite possibly as good as the book that it spun off from, which would make it one of the top five books in the industry right out of the gate)
Thing Idol Of Millions TP (Dan Slott's highly underrated old school fun series, collected in its entirety. Everybody buy this so maybe Marvel will greenlight a miniseries or direct-to-trade follow-up or something)

Batman #656 (Grant Morrison's first issue left me more with a "what the hell was that?" feeling, but I'm still reading along to see if he'll hook me. He always has in the past)
Batman And The Monster Men TP (One of the best Batman stories of the past few years, with fantastic art by Matt Wagner)
Birds Of Prey #97 (The Birds face off with Black Alice again. I like the character, although not so much the Secret Society elements of the story)
Children Of Grave TP (Military ghost story moves to IDW for its collection, with a gorgeous Dan Brereton cover)
Daredevil #88 (Now that I have a better idea where Brubaker's going with Foggy, I'm able to enjoy the rest of the book a whole lot more, and it's one of my most-anticipated reads)
DMZ #10 (Concluding the excellent "Body of a Journalist" arc)
Eternals #3 (Neil Gaiman does traditional Kirby superheroes with his usual flair. Romita Jr. provides beautiful art... a great book. And no Civil War in sight)
Exiles #85 (An Exiles team made up entirely of Wolverines... potentially really funny gag story here)
Fear Agent #7 (I'd kind of like to see a story arc conclude here at some point, but it seems Remender is going more old school long-form in his plotting... still a blast of fun sci-fi action every time it comes out)
GI Joe Declassified #2 (Good to see Hama back on G.I. Joe for a tale of the early days)
Heroes For Hire #1 (Liked Daughters of the Dragon, curious to see what Gray/Palmiotti do here, although the Civil War tie-in and Tucci art weaken my interest)
Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane #9 (Sigh... only 6 more issues of Miyazawa art on this book. I'll enjoy it while I can, and hope for a great follow-up artist... I'd love to see Eric Kim from Oni on this book, if he could still do Love As A Foreign Language too)
Supermarket #4 (Wood and Donaldson's futuristic crime/action saga concludes)
Walking Dead #30 (I'm dying to see how this arc plays out)
Wonder Woman #2 (Read this one as well, and it's good, although I'm not sure it's so good as to outweigh the months-long wait for it)

Thursday, August 17, 2006

T-Shirt Poll:
My friend Paul Benjamin is embarking on what looks like a cool-as-hell webcomic called Sci-Fu, and if you click on this link and vote for your favorite T-Shirt, you get a coupon for $5 off! More to the point, if you click on the link and vote for *my* favorite T-Shirt, I might get the design I like. If you're curious, the one I like is a copper T-Shirt with the silver (the very first) Intergalactic Bounty Hunter design. At any rate, go, vote and take a look... it all looks very cool.

Holy Shit! I Found It!:
I've long said that I began my comics reading with G.I. Joe and Uncanny X-Men, and that is true... those were the first comics I bought for myself, or had my parents buy at convenience stores, etc.

But the first book I remember reading, back in my hazy younger days, was some Superman/Hawkman team-up featuring Dr. Polaris. I had no idea what issue it was, or what comic, and I only remember that my parents bought it for me on a car trip. And then... I tuned into Will Pfeifer's guest entry on Comics Should Be Good and, if I'm reading this right, it was also the first comic that Pfeifer bought for himself. So here it is, the first comic I can ever remember reading:

I have almost no recollection of the interiors, and I don't doubt Pfeifer's estimation of it (lame), but... it was cool to see it again.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Civil War Delayed:
I usually don't do a lot of the "comics industry events" commentary because really, plenty of people are talking about these things already, and who cares what I have to add...

But I'm so pissed at this new Civil War delay announcement and the reaction it's getting that I feel I have to vent. You've been warned.

First of all, as a reader, I couldn't really give a shit. This type of event isn't really my thing, and despite liking some of the action sequences in issue two, mostly I've found this to be not for me. I was skimming through issue three, and I doubt very much I'll be doing much more than skimming issue four whenever the fuck it actually comes out. Most of the debate has focused on the reader angle, with the defenders (including the "professionals" at Marvel who should know better) arguing that it's a triumph for art, and hooray for Marvel for delaying all their books for a month and a half so that they don't have to get somebody else to do the art.

Which is bullshit, because Civil War is more commerce than art anyway, but again, that's neither here nor there. For the purposes of my post, the effect on the readers is of no consequence.

No, what's being ignored, not just by the readers (from whom I'd expect it... really, why should they care) but from the folks at Marvel (who should really be more aware of it) is the impact this is going to have on the retailers. You can be a jackass and say that retailers should have learned not to put their faith in Marvel and this is what they get for investing so heavily in the crossover, but that's the ignorance of someone who doesn't know how retail works speaking. Trust me, as a retailer who has little interest in most of the popular Marvel/DC books, the bulk of the sales in my shop still come from those books. I can get readers to try out new books, but mostly, the same 3-6 books sell every week to 90% of the customers, and I can pick them out by looking at the shipping list. 52, Civil War, whatever Marvel and DC are pushing or Wizard is behind, etc. I don't get to set the tastes of my customers, I get to react to it and try to push the other books I would really like to sell in hopes of getting some open-minded customers to try them out and spread the word.

So basically, Marvel has fucked over the retailers with this thing. Millar talks big in his statement that "Marvel believe in the project and they feel me and Steve have formed a good team. Something they don’t want to fuck with for the sake of squeezing a few more bucks into the next financial quarter and so, after doing their sums, decided they’ll take a hit."

How noble. How wonderful. How nice of them to decide that they'll take the hit. Except, of course, they won't.

Marvel is a gigantic company that can survive a cashflow deficiency for a month which will be made up when the book sells a month or two months late when it comes out because their books aren't returnable and the fanbase has become conditioned to late books.

No, the people taking the real hit are the retailers. The sudden disappearance of several of their biggest selling books for a month means less cash flow then planned in August, and probably less sales of other books in September when the money that would have been allocated to other new books in that month is instead allocated to late Civil War books. Because the buying pattern of the average comics consumer is not that they have X number of dollars to spend on comics each month, and if the comics they like don't come in, they spend those dollars on other comics. No, in fact the buying pattern is that they have X comics they are planning to buy, and if those comics don't come in, the cash more often than not goes right back in the wallet or out to music, movies, videogames or other forms of entertainment.

And comic shops are not gigantic corporations who can easily absorb a financial hit. I'm not saying this is going to drive shops under (although it could well kill new ones that were promising, or older ones that are struggling to regain their footing), but it is a worrying sign, and it is certainly going to hurt all but the biggest of chain stores.

What's really telling about all this is Marvel's reaction to it. They put out the press release not when they knew the delay was coming (c'mon, they know how much art and story they've got in-house) but at the absolute last minute before the book was supposed to ship. Then, when they do send out the press release to inform the retailers, is there any kind of apology? Any kind of "Look, we know this is fucked up, here's how we're going to help you?"

No. Instead, there's "We're going to add more crossovers to give you more blind guessing to do with who's going to buy what crossovers and how many you should order!" There's "We're doing it because we want the book to be great, and you should really thank us for this!" There's "Art takes time!"

Which is an interesting contrast with Tom Breevort's public shaming of Dan Slott a few months back for being a week or two late on his assignments. Apparently if it's someone whose books are not tightly tied in to every schedule and frankly don't really matter if they miss a ship date by a week or two, it's an unprofessional catastrophe, but if it's the flagship book whose month of lateness takes down a huge chunk of the publishing schedule it's something we should thank them for doing.

Basically, editorial fucked up. They're either completely incompetent or cynically calculating, both of which should leave a bad taste in the fans' mouths. Either they had no idea that the artist who could complete a book in six weeks was going to run late on a monthly schedule, in which case they're idiots, or they knew this book was going to be late and they figured they could get away with it.

Let's face it, it's probably the latter. And truthfully, they're right. Marvel isn't going to hurt, and if a few of the retailers go out of business, it really doesn't affect them in the short-term. But the honorable thing to do would have been to be upfront with your retail partners, offer a realistic shipping schedule off the bat and let everyone plan for this new type of schedule, rather than lying in order to hype the book so that the fans were already invested and the retailers were already invested and were left with no recourse in planning their own cash-flow.

I don't have a good summation for you here. Essentially, as always, Marvel wins and gets to do whatever it wants, professionalism be damned, and the fans at large thank them for it. But I felt I at least needed to vent, and I do feel somewhat better as a result.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Weekly Comics to Come - August 16, 2006:
Since the First Look books are now more or less a thing of the past (sadly), I'm going to change up this weekly list from Already Read and Haven't Read Yet to "Top Five Picks" and "The Rest." Keep in mind that in almost all cases, this is based on speculation, not having read the actual books, and so my actual opinions could vary when all is said and done.

This was a tough week in which to start the new format, incidentally... because there are at least four more books that could have gone in the top five. If that continues, I might switch to a "Top Ten Picks." Or maybe "Top Eight" just to be different.

Marvel Adventures Avengers #4 (The Masters of Evil vs. The Avengers, in Marvel Adventures style... can't wait)
Phonogram #1 (Got a look at this in San Diego, and it looks great... like High Fidelity meets Hellblazer, maybe?)
Psycho TP (Dan Brereton work is always to be treasured... work that I've never read before is an even rarer treat)
Runaways #19 (After the developments in last issue, I can't wait to see what happens next)
Wasteland #2 (Great opener to what I think could be an indy phenom ala Walking Dead)

Adventures In Oz TP (Now that I've seen the hardcover, I really wish I'd ordered that... but the softcover looks great as well)
Amazing Joy Buzzards Vol 2 #5 (Finally, more AJB! This is one of my favorite books)
Bone Vol 4 Dragonslayer Color Edition SC (Late in getting this one, for some reason... but I've been really enjoying these newly colored volumes)
Boys #1 (I'm skeptical about a mature readers superhero book, which seems like a waste of these guys' talent... but c'mon, it's Ennis and Robertson, I have to give it a look)
Casanova #3 (Bizarre, action-packed, funny and beautiful to look at... another favorite)
Conan #31 (Mike Mignola's story arc concludes, and it's been a fun read so far)
Dummys Guide To Danger #1 (Hardboiled detective fiction in which the protagonist has a ventriloquist's dummy... weird, but the early reviews are good)
Family Guy Vol 2 (First one was surprisingly funny and kept nicely with the tone of the show)
Fell #6 (Another Ellis book that has fallen into the "you'll get it when you get it" schedule, but usually good when it shows up... maybe not worth the extra wait, but usually good)
Grounded TP (Liked Paul Azaceta's artwork on this book quite a bit... the story of superhero schools is unfortunately making the rounds in comics and films these days, and so it lost me midway through)
Manhunter #25 (This was to be the last issue, but instead it's the last issue before a new story arc... nice. Hope the sales boost to keep it around)
Monkey Vs Lemur Crisis With Infinite Critters #1 (One of my friends has a story in this one, and even better, it's Monkey Vs. Lemur... the first one, now super hard to find, was very funny and had great art)
Naoki Urasawas Monster Vol 4 (The suspense manga really got going in the last volume, I'm dying to see what happens next)
Savage Brothers #1 (Post-apocalyptic comedy and violence from Boom!)
Shadowpact #4 (Still not entirely sure I'm following this book or not, but it's got a quirky charm to it)
True Story Swear To God #17 (I believe this is the last pre-Image issue)

Monday, August 07, 2006

On Mel Gibson:
From the BBC: Swayze defends 'good guy' Gibson

Jesus. I know Hollywood likes to take care of its own and all, but c'mon. Even forgiving Gibson's increasingly frequent visits to crazytown entirely, isn't everyone just conveniently ignoring that he was driving drunk?

All Mel's celebrity and fan defenders are going out of their way to say "He was drunk, so his anti-semitism and misogyny are forgivable." And even if you're willing to accept that (and I'm not), shouldn't the next question be, "Yeah, but if he's drunk enough to not be aware of what he's saying, doesn't it make it that much more reprehensible that he was driving a fucking car?"

Or is it OK as long as he doesn't have bad luck and kill somebody?

Fuck Mel Gibson. Whether he's an anti-semite or not, it's pretty clear the guy's a grade-A jackass.
A Good Time To Read Webcomics:
Webcomics have always been bigger than I've really been aware, but it seems of late that more and more are crossing my radar, and more and more of them are just... well, just fucking great, actually.

Everybody probably already knows about PVP, Diesel Sweeties, Penny Arcade and Perry Bible Fellowship... and when Activate went live, I really started digging that one, especially the work of Dean Haspiel, Josh Neufeld and Chip Zdarsky.

This week, thanks to Johanna Draper Carlson, I discovered Theater Hoppers. And today marks the launch of The Chemistry Set, which may be the best webcomics collective yet.

The list of talent includes a number of indy creators whose work I love. Check out this lineup:
*1 Way Ticket by Chris Arrant (Project: Rooftop) and Daniel Warner (SLG's Cocopiazo)
*Stuck by Vito Delsante and Tom Williams (No Dead Time, Looking At The Front Door)
*Vulture Gulch by Jim Dougan (Crazy Papers) and Eric Kim (Love As A Foreign Language)
*Scheherazade, with writing by relative newcomer Elizabeth Genco and terrific art from Australian artist Adam Boorman
*Todt Hill by Xeric-winner Neil Kleid and artist Kevin Colden (whose work reminds me of Street Angel's Jim Rugg)

It's a terrific line-up, and the first installments of all the strips look very promising. *And* they've got RSS feeds, which makes it a whole lot easier to keep up with. Great site, definitely go check it (and the other webcomics I listed) out.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

New Webcomic:
While in San Diego, I happened upon the booth of Takeshi Miyazawa, one of my favorite artists who works on Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane currently. I also learned that Miyazawa, along with Arthur Dela Cruz (of Oni's Kissing Chaos) are working on webcomics at BFX Project.

Looks really good, go and check it out. I just wish it had an RSS feed, as I'm notoriously forgetful in checking out webcomics.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Weekly Comics to Come - August 9, 2006:
Fables #52 (The Adversary reacts to Bigby's attack in #50... great as always... plus the start of four-page backup tales introducing new Fables!)
Marvel Zombies HC (One of the guilty pleasure books of the year... not quite on my buying list, but it's close)

Annihilation #1 (Very mixed feelings on the Annihilation lead-ins, but there were definitely some high points... curious to see how the actual mini is)
Beyond #2 (Really dug the first issue of this "Secret Wars II with B- and C-listers" book)
Conan & The Songs Of The Dead #2 (Also had a great first issue, standard Lansdale/Truman excellence)
Escapists #2 (This is a week for follow-ups to great second issues... Escapists #1 is one of the best issues I've read all year)
Goosebumps Graphix Vol 1 Creepy Creatures TP (Saw a preview of this in San Diego... beautiful artwork by Scott Morse, Greg Ruth, etc.)
Legend Of Grimjack Vol 5 TP (Wow, I had thought we were in a permanent holding pattern on new Grimjack trades... guess we've got one more before that happens)
Recess Pieces HC (I'm a latecomer to Bob Fingerman's work, but I've found his weird sense of humor and stylized artwork to my taste. Grade school zombie horror/humor seems right up his alley)
Scarlet Traces The Great Game #2 (Beautiful artwork by D'Israeli, interesting sci-fi/political commentary tale)
Secret Six #3 (I've been a little lukewarm on Simone's follow-up to Villains United, but I still really like these characters, so I'll stick it out a while longer)
She-Hulk #10 (If you're willing to forgive the Starfox missteps, this is still a highly entertaining book)

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

I Have a Nephew:
My sister gave birth to her first child, Andrew Nicholas Pedersen (named after my grandfather Andrew, who passed earlier this year), at about 8 PM Florida time tonight.

Suzanne and I are heading down to Florida to see him and the proud parents and grandparents next week.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Blog Template Update for July
This is the latest monthly update to the left column of the blog, updating my favorite comics and TV for the previous month. The listings are alphabetical, not by rank of how much I liked them in comparison. My criteria for what makes the list is when I read them, not necessarily when they were published.

July was a resurgence for my comics interest. The first week of July was easily the best week of comics in all of 2006, with the debut of Beyond, Occult Crimes Taskforce, Ed Brubaker's Uncanny X-Men, Lansdale/Truman Conan, the second volume of Death Jr. and two quarter books (a gorgeous pin-up celebration from Dark Horse and an intriguing lead-in to the next Hack/Slash), not to mention new volumes of BPRD, Fables, Essential Marvel Universe and Flight. The rest of the month was pretty solid as well, and I had a hard time, for the first time in several months, cutting down my favorites to 20 and 10. Seriously, both were pretty much filled by the second week of July.

This was of course good timing, as it sent me off to Comicon with love in my heart for the medium and less venom in my heart for the industry, just in time. It was not as good of a month for TV, as I filled most of my viewing time with poker games on various channels, and I had to cheat and include one-off Amazing Screw-On Head and Psych (which I've only seen one episode of thus far) to make it to 10. I would almost include Heroes, which I saw at Comicon, but I felt like that was really cheating, since it won't even air on iTunes until September 1st. But definitely check out this show, folks... the haters are already out in force at TV Squad and even Entertainment Weekly, forecasting doom for the show before they've even seen it, and I thought it was a strong pilot with potential to be a great series. Don't let somebody else make your mind up for you... and that includes me, if you hate it, that's cool, but give it a look before you decide.

Plenty of notable first issues this month: Beyond, Civil War: Young Avengers & Runaways, Conan & The Songs of the Dead, Death Jr. Vol 2, Elephantmen, Escapists, Jack of Fables, Occult Crimes Taskforce and Wasteland.
I'm Going to Disneyworld!:
It's been an unusual year. I've quit reviewing comics, something I've been doing for about 10 years, I've sold my house and bought a new one, my last grandparent died and I attended his funeral, the business I've worked at for about six years is about to have its 20th anniversary, my sister is about to have her first baby, my little girl is about to enter preschool... and that's just all I can think of right now.

So it's been a busy year, and mostly, in a good way. Lots of things going on, one of those years where you look around and go "Holy shit! I'm a grown-up!" So what do you do when you're a grown-up?

You go to the San Diego Comicon and Disney World. Arrested development ain't just the name of my favorite sitcom, folks. Hell, if we could throw in a guys' trip to Vegas (and we might, before the year is out) in there, we'd have the trifecta.

But the truth is, Disney World isn't a calculated attempt to hold onto my youth or anything like that. Oh, I'm sure I'll enjoy it like a sugar-fueled 8-year-old - we're staying at one of the Disney motels and I can't wait to check out the newly updated Pirates ride, now that the buzz is "doesn't suck" - but I'm not the number one reason we're going.

Katy is. See, she loves Disney. Loves it. Watches all the movies (Pixar too), has several "princess dresses" and knows all the characters from Lion King all the way back to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. And since we were going to Miami to see my sister's baby (which should be born about 48 hours after this is posted, and I'll finally know if I have a niece or nephew), and the connecting flights from Austin stopped in Orlando, well... I had to look. Had to check prices and times and convenience.

Turns out, it's not a lot more expensive to stop in Orlando, flight-wise. And once I knew that, it was a done deal. We were going to stay at a Howard Johnson or something, drive in to Disney and I decided that was kinda stupid. I mean, the hotel would be cheaper, but the cost of travel and the hassle therein would make up for it. So we looked at the Disney hotels, and chose one of the cheaper ones (the movie focused one), which still has all the swanky extras. Things like taking your luggage from the plane and into your hotel room without you having to go to the baggage carousel. Taking *you* from the plane to your hotel room, and shuttling you to whatever part of Disney you want. Some meals included for a fee that is probably cheaper than just paying for the meals in the park (although we'll be doing that too.) So we're doing the whole Disney thing. Staying at a Disney hotel, going to Magic Kingdom one day and one of the other parks (probably Animal Kingdom) on another before heading to Miami to see the baby.

It's also Katy's first flight, and she's excited about that too. She's going to sit at the window and watch the clouds, or at least so she says. My biggest fear is that she'll be terrified, and we'll have to deal with that, but that doesn't seem terribly in character for my little girl. I haven't really seen her scared of much. She claims to be scared of monsters at night sometimes, but I think that's mostly a ploy to get out of sleeping.

I can't wait. Can't wait for Katy to get on the plane, to stay at the pool, to play on the beach, to meet her new cousin, to see all her favorite characters at the park and ride the rides...

OK, I guess in some ways Disney is for me too. But it's for me because I'm going to have so much fun watching Katy enjoy it.

By the way, I learned in San Diego that a lot of comics people are reading this blog for its comics content. I hereby apologize for posts like this one, and hope you don't find them too boring. :)