Thursday, December 31, 2009

Best of 2009: Books

I had set a goal to read at least one book a month this year, and I managed it. Barely. Next year I want to read at least that many, hopefully more.

Favorite Book: The Kid by Dan Savage
1. The Kid by Dan Savage (Plume)
2. The Commitment: Love, Sex, Marriage, and My Family (Dan Savage)
3. The Road (Vintage Books)
4. Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life (Scribner)
5. The Great Derangement (Matt Taibbi)
6. A Feast For Crows (George R.R. Martin)
7. The Switch (HarperTorch)
8. Savage Season (Black Lizard)
9. Inside Straight HC (George R.R. Martin)
10. Dreams of My Father (Barack Obama)
11. Patriot Acts (Bantam)
12. Things I've Learned From Women Who've Dumped Me (Grand Central)
13. I Am America: And So Can You! (Warner Books)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Best of 2009: Movies

Top 10 Movies of 2009
1. Inglourious Basterds
2. Up
3. Sherlock Holmes
4. Zombieland
5. Where The Wild Things Are
6. District 9
7. The Hangover
8. (500) Days of Summer
9. Avatar
10. Watchmen

I saw only a dozen new movies in the theater this year: Up, Inglourious Basterds, District 9, Where The Wild Things Are, Public Enemies, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Watchmen, Star Trek, Zombieland, Avatar and Sherlock Holmes. I thought two of them were terrible (although I suspected one of them was going to be going in), I was disappointed by one of them (Star Trek... I know, I know! Shut up!) and I was reasonably happy with the rest. I even liked Watchmen (I know, I know! Shut up!) I took a pass on G.I. Joe and Transformers 2, and I think my new "If you know it's going to be a shitty blockbuster, even if it's based on something you have nostalgic love for, take a pass" philosophy will serve me well going forward.

As far as favorite movie of the year, though, it's easy to get down to the top two. District 9 and Where The Wild Things Are were both very good, but each had its issues that keep it from being "Best Of" material. Zombieland was great, but in the end, it's really not much more than an American Shaun of the Dead. The top two, though? That's a really tough choice. It's between Up, another masterpiece by Pixar, and Inglourious Basterds, another fun, violent, self-indulgent flick from Tarantino. I know that the unanimous choice there would be Up, as some folks outright disliked Basterds or hate Tarantino, but the only one I saw twice in the theater was Inglourious Basterds, so I think I've gotta give that one the nod.

I also saw a bunch of older movies for the first time this year. I really enjoyed The Scottish werewolves vs. soldiers movie Dog Soldiers, the Oscar-bait tale of life in Indian slums Slumdog Millionaire, the dumb comedy Tropic Thunder, the Beatles tribute Across The Universe, the Spanish zombie flick [REC] (and it's American remake, Quarantine), the suspense thriller Zodiac (best Fincher movie since Fight Club) the strange con man movie The Brothers Bloom and the "magicians are bastards" The Prestige.

I loved Big Lebowksi, which I finally saw, and I'm glad I held out for the big screen. Saw it at the Paramount here in Austin, and it has gone from "I really need to see that" to "one of my favorite movies" with just one viewing. Other movies I saw that had their moments but weren't quite all there were Choke and The Bank Job. Oh, and I saw Gran Torino and found it vastly overrated.

Best of 2009: TV

Top 20 TV Shows in 2010
1. Lost Season Five (ABC)
2. Breaking Bad Season Two (AMC)
3. Chuck Season Two (NBC)
4. Modern Family Season One (ABC)
5. Burn Notice Season Two & Three (USA)
6. Flight of the Conchords Season Two (HBO)
7. Spectacular Spider-Man Season Two (DXD)
8. Community Season One (NBC)
9. The Sarah Connor Chronicles Season Two (FOX)
10. Torchwood: Children of Earth (BBC)
11. The Office Season Five & Six (NBC)
12. Batman The Brave and the Bold Season One (TOON)
13. Better Off Ted Season One (ABC)
14. Leverage Season Two (TNT)
15. Party Down Season One (STARZ)
16. 30 Rock Season Three & Four (NBC)
17. It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia Season Five (F/X)
18. Weeds Season Four (SHO)
19. Parks & Recreation Season Two (NBC)
20. Better Off Ted Season One (CBS)

Favorite Hour-Long: Lost (ABC)
There are four strong contenders in this category: Chuck, Breaking Bad and Lost, with Burn Notice as a dark horse candidate. And while the performances and sheer gutsiness of Breaking Bad tempts me, my favorite hour-long, and honestly my favorite thing on TV, is Lost. It's ambitious, but shows signs of the showrunners knowing that they need to have a satisfying ending for that ambition to mean anything. In contrast to Battlestar Galactica, which after that bullshit finale, I wish I could un-watch. It's got some of the best writing on television, elevated well above the usual quality we get in genre TV into award-worthy territory. The writers are tackling complex concepts like time travel and quantum physics (OK, magic) in a way that makes it approachable but not dumbed-down, and the characters are so compelling that you care as much about their small stories as you do the big mythology. Add in one of the best casts of actors on TV and just generally exquisite production values, not to mention that they've done this for five seasons now and aside from some arguable hiccups in the middle seasons, it's never been anything less than great, and I believe Lost will be one of those "Best of TV" shows for a long, long time.

Unless they fuck up the ending. Then I take it all back and give the nod to Breaking Bad.

I also really like Dexter, although ever since season two, it's settled into something of diminishing returns for me, and I really liked Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, but it's cancellation keeps it from nudging up beyond "what could have been" territory, even though I'll definitely re-watch both seasons on DVD from time to time, as it's a solid offering, even with it's non-ending ending. Dollhouse might have made it on if every episode was like "Man on the Street" or "Epitath One" but most of it was disappointing, and I remain somewhat bitter that it got to stick around despite its downward spiral when Sarah Connor didn't, even though it was on a creative upswing.

Oh, and there's Leverage, which is just a ton of fun, and White Collar, which is usually decent and may someday be as good as Leverage if it grows some balls and learns how to better utilize its great cast.

Best of 2009: Comics

Top 20 Comics of the Year:
1. Chew
2. Incognito/Criminal: The Sinners
3. The Umbrella Academy Dallas
4. BPRD Black Goddess
5. Hellboy The Wild Hunt
6. Beasts of Burden
7. Usagi Yojimbo
8. Incredible Hercules
9. Batman and Robin
10. The Unwritten
11. Sweet Tooth
12. The Muppet Show
13. GI Joe Cobra
14. BPRD 1947
15. The Unknown
16. Nova
17. Guardians of the Galaxy
18. Seaguy: Slaves of Mickey Eye
19. Agents of Atlas
20. Marvel Adventures Spider-Man

Top 20 Graphic Novels of the Year:
1. Parker: The Hunter (IDW)
2. Rocketeer Deluxe Edition (IDW)
3. Bloom County Complete Library Volume 1 (IDW)
4. Naoki Urasawa's 20th Century Boys, Volume 1-5 (Viz)
5. Pluto: Urasawa x Tezuka, Volume 1-6 (Viz)
6. Amulet Book 2 (Scholastic)
7. Scott Pilgrim Vol 5 (Oni)
8. Johnny Hiro (Adhouse)
9. Mouse Guard Winter 1152 HC (Archaia)
10. The Perry Bible Fellowship Almanack (Dark Horse)
11. Hellboy Library Edition Volume 2-3 HC (Dark Horse)
12. Immortal Iron Fist Omnibus (Marvel)
13. Criminal Deluxe Edition (Marvel)
14. Starman Omnibus Vol 2-3 (DC)
15. Empowered, Vol. 5 (Dark Horse)
16. A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge (Pantheon)
17. RASL Vol 1: The Drift (Cartoon Books)
18. Pixu: The Mark of Evil (Dark Horse)
19. TMNT Collected Book Vol. 1 (Mirage)
20. Tiny Titans Vol. 1-2 (DC)

Favorite New Comic Of The Year: Chew
At the moment, my "buzz book" is Andy Diggle's run on Daredevil, which at three full issues into its run, is looking like a further evolution of the good work done on the book by Brian Michael Bendis and Ed Brubaker. And while I've lost interest in the past few months, early on this year I was quite into Mike Carey's work on X-Men Legacy. In similar "not new number one but new creative team" books there's Marvel Adventures Spider-Man by Paul Tobin and several different artists, which synthesizes some of the best aspects of the Spectacular Spider-Man TV show, Ultimate Spider-Man and Tobin's own touches to become easily the best Spider-Man book on the shelves. Then there's the new Morrison Batman & Robin, which hasn't been perfect but has been damn good, and the Vertigo resurgence with the two must-read books, The Unwritten and Sweet Tooth. Those two in particular were real front-runners for this category. And Stumptown had a great debut, but with only two issues released in 2009, it's too early to call it the best new book of the year.

But the book with the most novel premise, not to mention providing a consistently excellent read with each issue, is Chew. John Layman's been toiling in the trenches for some time now, turning out quirky gems like Army of Darkness vs. Marvel Zombies and Puffed, but his new creator-owned Image series is far and away the best thing he's written. It's funny and strange on the surface, but there's plenty of world-building, plot detail and character development to go with it's "That is such a strange concept, I've got to read it" hook. And artist Rob Guillory has a fresh look that instantly grabs the eye, not to mention storytelling chops rarely seen in a debut. Together, these two put together the best new comic of the year.

Favorite Ongoing Series: Incredible Hercules
Pretty much everything in the ongoing series category is Marvel, with two exceptions. RASL, by Cartoon Books, is a notable exception. It ranks lowest on my list, however, not because of the quality but because of the frequency. Jeff Smith was putting out biggie-sized issues on a quarterly basis, and I was happy with that, it seemed to be a schedule he could meet. He announced this year that he was going to put out smaller issues, but bimonthly, and I knew that probably wasn't a great idea, and indeed, the flow of issues has pretty much stopped. This is a constant frustration for me as a fan and a retailer, as it makes it really hard to sell indie series, when so many of them disappear or become even more inconsistent in their scheduling, and it hurts the ability of new indies to sell as well. Folks fear getting burned again, and I can't really blame them.

Deep breath. That rant aside, the flipside of that is my other non-Marvel pick for ongoing series, Usagi Yojimbo by Stan Sakai. Consistently on schedule, consistently excellent.

My other favorite series contenders are Guardians of the Galaxy, Nova and Agents of Atlas, and of course my winner, Incredible Hercules. None of them register very high on the Top 100, sadly.

Favorite Mini-Series: Incognito
1. Incognito
2. Criminal: The Sinners
3. The Umbrella Academy Dallas
4. BPRD Black Goddess
5. Hellboy The Wild Hunt
6. Beasts of Burden
7. The Muppet Show
8. GI Joe Cobra
9. BPRD 1947
10. The Unknown
11. Seaguy: Slaves of Mickey Eye
12. New Avengers: Reunion (Marvel)
13. Beta Ray Bill: Godhunter (Marvel)
14. The Incredibles Family Matters (Boom!)
15. War of Kings (Marvel)
16. Atomic Robo Beyond the Shadow of Time (Red 5)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Neglected Blog

Huh. There are some cobwebs around here, aren't there?

Most of my blogging time has moved over to Facebook and Twitter, and the rest of it? That's gone to my increasingly busy schedule. For example, here's this week:

Sunday - Potluck/gift exchange with friends
Monday - Dinner with family, late showing of Avatar
Tuesday - Lunch with family at Torchy's (?), work
Wednesday - Insanely busy last new comics day of the year
Thursday - Hopefully insanely busy Christmas Eve at the store, then Christmas Eve with the family
Friday - Christmas Day and all that entails
Saturday - Work day, catching up on missing Friday work

And that's just the big stuff, it doesn't count all the smaller stuff. And it seems like every week has been like this for months. So... blogging probably won't get any more frequent here, but I'm going to try to at least have a Best of 2009 post ready for January, I've been working on that one in my copious free time.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Weekly Comics for November 25, 2009

Didn't get a chance to read everything I wanted to, notably Beasts of Burden, but here's what I did read this week:

Chew #6 (Fantastic start to the new story, surprising and pleasing return of a character I really liked in the first issue, fantastic artwork and great comedic timing as usual - Best new book of the year? Yep.)

Criminal Sinners #2 (Loving the return of Tracy Lawless, and the murder mystery he's investigating is an interesting one)

Incredible Hercules #138 (I need to read the rest of Assault on New Olympus, but I got enough to enjoy this, which was a lot of fun. References to Ocean's 11, Ghostbusters and Harryhausen along with the Avengers battling a corporation made up of Greek gods and titans makes for good times)

Guardians of the Galaxy #20 (I miss some of the characters, but I admire Abnett & Lanning for being unafraid to mess with the status quo, and I love what they're doing with the rift, Knowhere and the Church of Universal Truth. I've always wanted a superhero sci-fi book like this, I just didn't know it.)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Weekly Comics for November 11 & November 18, 2009

I have been really neglecting this blog of late. Modern Warfare 2 and Left 4 Dead 2 absorbed a lot of my free time for November so far.

Daredevil #502 (Damn. Diggle's run so far is fantastic)

Hellboy The Wild Hunt #8 (Great finale, and I'm really enjoying what Mignola and Fegredo are doing with the characters)

Unwritten #7 (Hasn't hit the heights of #5 again, but is a really good read, reminiscent in quality and world-building of what this team did on Lucifer)

Batman and Robin #6 (Not a fan of Tan's artwork, but in general, still really into this book)

S.W.O.R.D. #1 (The art is gonna turn some folks off, but I love it, a perfect fit for Gillen's quirky take on sci-fi in the Marvel Universe. I hope this book sticks around, because I thought the first issue was a blast)

Realm of Kings Imperial Guard #1 (Not a huge fan of these characters, and without the rest of the Realm of Kings cast involved, I find I don't care much about who is running the Shi'ar)

Marvel Adventures Superheroes #17 (A fun relaunch of sorts for the all-ages Avengers)

X-Men Legacy #229 (Emplate = bleh. Acuna's art not my favorite. But I'm still liking this book, mostly due to Carey's take on Rogue. I wish it weren't getting dragged into the orbit of the other X-books, I liked it better when it was out there on its own)

Realm of Kings (Wow, did not expect that. Cthulhu-tinged Avengers vs. Quasar? Surprisingly fun)

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Weekly Comics for November 4, 2009

I missed reading comics last week, so this is sort of a catch-up post with this week's comics as well.

Sweet Tooth #3 (We see the extent of the post-apocalyptic world for the first time. I'm really loving this new Vertigo book)

Nova #31 (The Darkhawk revamp didn't work as well as the Nova one, but I did like seeing him guest-starring, and I love the new status quo for the Worldmind, Nova Corps and it's new drill sergeant)

X-Men vs Agents of Atlas #2 (Fun, although between this and Assault on New Olympus, it felt like there was a lot of reading other comics I wasn't interested in to keep up with Agents of Atlas and Incredible Hercules, which I am)

Superman World of New Krypton #9 (In the immortal words of Willow from Buffy: Bored now.)

Guardians of the Galaxy #19 (Not digging the art, and... did they just kill off a bunch of great characters, or is there a restoration coming?)

Nova #30 (The old Nova's new role is something I like, and I also like the resolution of the Ego story)

Batman Brave and the Bold #10 (Fun little story with the Atom and Batman battling it out, kaiju monster style)

Marvel Adventures Spider-Man #55 (I'm an issue behind, but this was another great one, with a fun take on Captain America... Tobin is *killing it* on this book)

Detective Comics #858 (The origin of Batwoman... dark as hell, but well-written. And I loved the more conventional art style used by JH Williams III here, as much as I love his usual style)

Stumptown #1 (This one has been getting a lot of well-deserved praise on the Internet. It might be Rucka's best book since Whiteout or Queen & Country, it's got a lot of influence from Criminal, and I loved it. One of my favorite first issues of the year)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Top 10 Preorders at Rogues Gallery 10/28/09

1. Blackest Night #4
2. Green Lantern #47
3. Blackest Night Titans #3
4. Batman #692
5. Star Wars Legacy #41
6. New Avengers #58
7. Detective Comics #858 (tie)
7. Anita Blake LC Executioner #1 (tie)
8. X-Force #20
9. Ultimate Comics Avengers #3
10. Teen Titans #76 (tie)
10. Nova #21 (tie)
10. Guardians Of Galaxy #19 (tie)

Tied for 11th: Incredible Hercules #137 & Worlds Finest #1

Amazing Spider-Man benchmark = Tied for 11th

Not much commentary this time, and it's a week late to boot. I think I'm going to put this on hold for a while... it's not offering up a lot of new information at this point. I might try to figure out some other similar feature, or I might not. I have noticed that Twitter & Facebook has more or less taken over for blogging.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Top 10 Preorders at Rogues Gallery 10/21/09

1. Blackest Night Superman #3
2. Stand Soul Survivors #1
3. Justice League Of America #38
4. GI Joe #10
5. Dark Avengers #10 (tie)
5. Dark Wolverine #79
5. X-Men Legacy #228
6. World Of Warcraft #24
7. Mighty Avengers #30 (tie)
7. Amazing Spider-Man #609 (tie)
7. Dark Reign The List Hulk (tie)
8. Thunderbolts #137 (tie)
8. Invincible #67 (tie)
9. Ex Machina #46 (tie)
9. Wolverine Origins #41 (tie)
10. Batman Streets Of Gotham #5 (tie)
10. Invincible Iron Man #19 (tie)
10. Deadpool Merc With A Mouth #4 (tie)
10. Star Wars Knights Of The Old Republic #46 (tie)
10. Supergirl #46 (tie)
10. Power Girl #6 (tie)

Tied for 11th: Batman Confidential #35, Hellblazer #260, Resurrection Vol. 2 #4, Outsiders #23, Superman Batman #65 and Transformers Tales O/t Fallen #3.

This doesn't measure sales, just pre-sales, as we see how many subscribers had preordered on various titles, just to gauge relative interest levels.

Benchmarking once again against Amazing Spider-Man, which this week comes out tied with two other titles for #7. It generally sits at around the #7-8 mark, and it's placement a little higher on the chart helps tell me that this is another smaller week for comics, in terms of general interest.

It's also more of a Marvel week than DC this time out, which used to mean a bigger week, but right now, that's not really the case. Dark Reign The List, Dark Avengers, Dark Wolverine and Mighty Avengers are all shipping, and they do respectably well in terms of staying in the top 10, but I know from recent experience that shelf sales for these books is down. While the hardcore Marvel fans are still on-board, the casual DC & Marvel fans are starting to gravitate to buying more DC off the shelf. Or at least, anything DC with Blackest Night on it, as Blackest Night Superman is far and away the top preorder, and probably the top seller, for this week.

Justice League also gets a boost from anticipation for James Robinson's run, as many folks seem to be enjoying Cry For Justice. I'm not one of them, and it's pretty clear Robinson's Justice League isn't gonna be for me, but I'm glad to see the book sliding up on the charts again. I also find it interesting that Supergirl and Power Girl are tied, because it tells me that DC still doesn't know what to do with Supergirl. Because no matter what you think of Power Girl, it's hard to deny that Supergirl is the original, and should be selling better than the Earth-2 version. Maybe DC should have put Palmiotti and Connor on Supergirl regularly, instead of just for the short-run Wednesday Comics?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Weekly Comics for October 14, 2009

Hellboy The Wild Hunt #7 (Really digging the use of Arthurian myth in conjunction with Hellboy, and the art, as always, is phenomenal)

Incredible Hercules #136 (Possibly the funniest fight scene I've ever read. And quite possibly my favorite book Marvel is publishing right now, at least when Hercules is the lead feature)

Red Robin #5 (Not as good as the previous issue, but a solid outing. Lucius Fox having a daughter weirds me out, even though he's the right age and seems like the kind of guy who would have a family)

Uncanny X-Men #516 (Tired of Magneto reforming. Tired of Magneto, actually. I like the Fraction X-Men, but it really does feel like nobody wants to evolve the X-Men concept like Morrison did, and so it's stuck in speeds that range from terrible nostalgia to pretty decent nostalgia)

The Unwritten #6 (Some weird narrative tricks that left me a bit bored, but the actual story of Tom Taylor in prison was really good)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Top 10 Preorders at Rogues Gallery 10/14/09

1. Green Lantern Corps #25
2. Blackest Night Batman #3
3. Uncanny X-Men #516
4. Batman #691
5. Detective Comics Annual #11
5. Red Robin #5
6. Fables #89
7. Deadpool #900
8. Batgirl #3
9. Action Comics #882
9. Enders Game Command School #2
9. Incredible Hercules #136
10. Secret Six #14

Tied for 11th: GI Joe Origins #8, Hellboy Wild Hunt #5 & PS238 #41.

This doesn't measure sales, just pre-sales, as we see how many subscribers had preordered on various titles, just to gauge relative interest levels.

Amazing Spider-Man didn't come out this week, but if it had, it would be tied for spot #10, an indicator that there a lot of better-selling books this week. There aren't as many ties, so it's not a huge week of best sellers, but when I look at the top 8 and see that six of the nine books in it are either Batman or Blackest Night related, it tells me two things: 1) The momentum in superhero comics is pretty squarely on DC's side right now and 2) It's going to be a pretty good week for sales.

Also? The big Batman revamp that DC has done has paid off huge, and I'm afraid that just like Marvel's decision to return Steve Rogers in 2009, the decision to bring back Bruce Wayne in 2010 without even seeing how the revamp sells is jumping the gun and undercutting themselves. Certainly I'm shocked to see a Batgirl series and Robin series selling this well.

Deadpool and Uncanny X-Men are Marvel's representatives in the top 5 this week, with Incredible Hercules and Ender's Game Command School their other representatives in the top 10. Hercules is a bit of an anomaly, in that we're all huge fans, because it's such a great book. Ender's Game is a licensed book that doesn't sell many shelf copies, and that's fine with me... I sell it to be a good retailer, not because I'm any particular fan of noted homophobic crazy person Orson Scott Card.

I have to admit, I expected a bit of a drop for Fables after the big issue #50 - I know that my own interest has dropped off a bit, and I haven't read it for several issues - but that hasn't happened. Instead, the book remains one of our best sellers, both in single issues and trades. We got behind this book early on and it remains our best-selling trade series, just a tiny bit ahead of The Walking Dead.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Weekly Comics for October 7, 2009

Batman and Robin #5 (I wasn't expecting to like this once Quitely left, but I liked Morrison's take on Jason Todd, and I like seeing him match wits with the other former Robin, and I like the new Scarlet and the new villain. Good stuff)

Criminal: Sinners #1 (Spectacularly good, among the best first issues of an arc that the book has had, and it's great to see follow-up to the Lawless story. One nitpick: I wish writers would stop drawing so many names from pop culture... I love 30 Rock too, but Scotty "The Collector" Adsit drew me right out of the book)

Daredevil #501 (Diggle is off to a great start. I think he's got Daredevil running some sort of scheme, and things aren't as they appear... if I'm wrong and it's just that he's gone over to the dark side, I don't know if I'll be as happy, but I don't think I'm wrong. And either way, it's great writing and art)

Strange Tales #2 (Pretty great, for the most part. R. Kikuo Johnson's Alicia Masters story, Jhonen Vasquez's MODOK and the Rugg/Maruca Brother Voodoo are particular highlights. On the other hand, I continue to not get the appeal of Tony Millionaire)

Superman World of New Krypton #8 (The Thanagarian/Kryptonian match-up sounded like a great idea, but it's merely so-so. This book is good, but I wish it were consistently great)

Sweet Tooth #2 (Fantastic second issue, Lemire is doing beautiful work and has a setup that is slow and deliberate without being boring or too obtuse. With this and Unwritten, Vertigo monthlies are back on my radar again)

X-Men vs. Agents of Atlas #1 (I kind of enjoyed Jeff Parker's take on the Fraction-era X-Men more than I've been enjoying the Fraction version of late, and I loved seeing them match wits with the Agents of Atlas)

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Top 10 Preorders at Rogues Gallery 10/7/09

A much smaller week than last week, judging not only by the position of my benchmark book (see below) but the lack of any notable "big seller" books in the top 10.

This doesn't measure sales, just pre-sales, as we see how many subscribers had preordered on various titles, just to gauge relative interest levels.

1. Buffy The Vampire Slayer #29
2. Batman And Robin #5
3. Angel #26
4. Batman Annual #27
5. Astonishing X-Men #31
6. Deadpool #16
6. Justice League Cry For Justice #4
7. Amazing Spider-Man #608
7. Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #3
8. X-Men Vs. Agents Of Atlas #1
9. Witchfinder In The Service Of Angels #4
9. Boys #35
9. Cable #19
9. Dark Reign List Secret Warriors #1
9. Star Wars Invasion #4
9. Superman World Of New Krypton #13
10. Daredevil #501
10. Irredeemable #7
10. Batman Confidential #34

Tied for 11th: Incredibles #1, Jack Of Fables TP, Vengeance Of Moon Knight #2 and Warlord #7.

Once again benchmarking against Amazing Spider-Man, which sits at #7 just like last week, this is another really light week. There are no Blackest Night books, and the biggest books are licensed sellers like Angel and Buffy. Warren Ellis has two long-delayed books, Astonishing X-Men and the fabled final issue of Planetary, but those probably aren't destination books like the last issue of Old Man Logan was, and even Batman and Robin is slipping a little bit with the loss of Frank Quitely. My guess? A lighter-than-usual Wednesday.

I've always known Deadpool was popular, but I'm still surprised at how well that book is selling, both to subscribers and off the shelf, and Justice League Cry For Justice seems to have scratched the Justice League itch a lot of fans were feeling. I wonder how that will transition over with Robinson (and many of the Cry For Justice characters) moving over to the main Justice League book.

Buffy and Angel continue to sit comfortably near the top, but their shelf sales have dropped by at least 75%. These books, once blockbusters in their own right, are selling pretty much to the diehards now.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Weekly Comics for September 30, 2009

Between new TV starting up again, borrowing Arkham Asylum, a fairly light comic book week and a variety of other stuff, I didn't have any time to read comics last Wednesday, but I've caught a smattering in the last couple days. I need to catch up on my Boom! reading, as they had a couple of books this week I really wanted to read.

GI Joe Cobra Special (Really great coda to the GI Joe Cobra story. I'd love to see an ongoing exploring this grittier battle between GI Joe and Cobra, maybe switching POV between Cobra and GI Joe, from this creative team)

Usagi Yojimbo #123 (A bittersweet, very effective story going back to Usagi's origins and once again playing off Sakai's fondness for down endings with a touch of hope for everyone but Usagi - fantastic issue of the book)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Top 10 Preorders at Rogues Gallery 9/30/09

Two Blackest Night tie-ins, including Green Lantern, the second anchor for the series, bodes well for the week. There are also a surprising number of mid-list sellers from DC and Marvel, as evidenced by the fact that counting ties, my top 10 this week has nearly 30 items on it. After doing this for a little over the month, it seems to me that when there are fewer ties and fewer titles, it means there's a larger week, with more legitimate big sellers and less mid-list books.

This doesn't measure sales, just pre-sales, as we see how many subscribers had preordered on various titles, just to gauge relative interest levels.

1. Green Lantern #46
2. Blackest Night Titans #2 (tie)
2. Thor #603 (tie)
3. Dark Tower The Fall Of Gilead #5
4. Star Wars Legacy #40
5. X-Force #19 (tie)
5. Justice League Of America 80-Page Giant (tie)
5. Knights Of The Dinner Table #154 (tie)
6. Teen Titans #75
7. Amazing Spider-Man #607 (tie)
7. Thunderbolts #136 (tie)
7. Wolverine Weapon X #5 (tie)
7. Gotham City Sirens #4 (tie)
7. Superman #692 (tie)
7. X-Factor #49 (tie)
8. GI Joe Cobra Special #1 (tie)
8. Hulk #15 (tie)
8. Justice Society Of America #31 (tie)
8. Aliens #3 (tie)
9. Jack Of Fables #38 (tie)
9. Marvel Zombies Return #5 (tie)
9. Runaways Volume 3 #14 (tie)
9. Wonder Woman #36 (tie)
10. Astro City Astra Special #1 (tie)
10. Batman Widening Gyre #2 (tie)
10. Punisher Annual #1 (tie)
10. Usagi Yojimbo #123 (tie)
10. X-men Forever #8 (tie)

Tied For 11th: Boys Herogasm #5, New Mutants #5, Secret Warriors #8 & Terry Moores Echo #15.

Wednesday Comics is gone, so for now, I'll be benchmarking numbers against Amazing Spider-Man, which is another relatively consistent weekly book. However, Spider-Man doesn't sell as well as Wednesday Comics did, so it's probably not quite as effective a measurement.

At any rate, last week's Amazing Spider-Man sat at #8, this week it's at #7, which gives the impression of a slightly lighter week than last week. Green Lantern sits comfortably atop the charts, and comfortably ahead of Blackest Night Titans, which has pretty respectable preorders, and both have great shelf sales. Blackest Night is selling, for us, like Civil War did, making it the most successful event for DC or Marvel in the last three years.

Even with JMS leaving, the relaunched Thor continues to do well. Shelf sales have dropped pretty significantly, but it still sells better than Thor ever has for us. The "put them on the shelf" strategy is a great one, judging by the success of Thor and, prior to that, Kevin Smith's Green Arrow and it seems like one DC should have followed with Flash or Hawkman, for instance. If Marvel and DC would occasionally "rest" their characters by putting them away for a year or two and then giving them a high-profile relaunch, I suspect they'd see bigger sales from their big icons. You can't do it with Superman or Spider-Man, obviously, but the second-tier A-listers? Definitely could benefit from such treatment.

As always, licensed books have high preorders, lower shelf sales. Dark Tower, once a huge hit for us, now sells almost entirely to preorders. Star Wars Legacy, on the other hand, has pretty decent shelf sales and sells well enough to match up with higher tier Marvel and DC books, even more than three years in. The further you get down our preorder list, the likelier it is that the majority of those sales come from preorders. That's not always true, for example Batman Widening Gyre sells a lot more copies off the shelf than it does in preorders, and Aliens does quite well over time on the shelf, but in general, everything at the #7 spot and below on this chart doesn't sell a ton to casual customers.

Our anomaly this week is again, due to the GI Joe love in the store, the high ranking of GI Joe Cobra. Most stores also wouldn't find Knights of the Dinner Table in their top 5, but: A) we're a gaming store as well and B) That one only sells one copy over preorders from the shelf. Sometimes zero copies over. So it's high ranking is a bit illusory.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Weekly Comics for September 23, 2009

28 Days Later #2 (Dug the second issue as much as the first, a good zombie/action thriller for those finding Walking Dead a touch too slow-paced)

Guardians of the Galaxy #18 (A weaker issue, a little silly and disjointed, with art that is not really a fit for the book)

Incredible Hercules #135 (Still mostly wish Cho was in a backup, because the Hercules-Thor story is fantastic, but this was a really solid issue)

Monsters, Inc. #2 (Another fun trip into the Monsters, Inc. universe)

Nova #29 (A lighter story after the long Worldmind/Ego arc, with a cheesy space bounty hunter that makes an interesting foil)

Uncanny X-Men #515 (Really? Mutant island? Again? The San Francisco X-Men was such a great status quo, it's a shame that the tired Dark Reign story blew it all up. This story is all about Cyclops trying to make the best of a bad situation... I can't help but feel that's what Fraction is trying to do that as well. Land's porno-referenced art isn't helping matters)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Top 10 Preorders at Rogues Gallery 9/23/09

It's another relatively light week, although there are representatives from both Blackest Night and Dark Reign, as well as the long-awaited conclusion of another late Mark Millar book (Old Man Logan this time), so it's going to be a satisfying book for a lot of folks, I'd guess.

This doesn't measure sales, just pre-sales, as we see how many subscribers had preordered on various titles, just to gauge relative interest levels.

1. Blackest Night Superman #2 (tie)
1. Uncanny X-Men #515 (tie)
1. Dark Reign List X-Men (tie)
2. New Avengers #57
3. Detective Comics #857 (tie)
3. Anita Blake Laughing Corpse Necromancer #5 (tie)
4. GI Joe #9 (tie)
4. Justice League Of America #37 (tie)
4. Wolverine Old Man Logan Giant-Sized #1 (tie)
5. Wednesday Comics #12
6. Conan The Cimmerian #14 (tie)
6. Guardians Of Galaxy #18 (tie)
6. Nova #29 (tie)
7. Enders Shadow Command School #1 (tie)
7. Incredible Hercules #135 (tie)
8. Amazing Spider-Man #606 (tie)
8. Invincible #66 (tie)
8. Superman Secret Origin #1 (tie)
9. Immortal Weapons #3 (tie)
9. Wolverine Origins #40 (tie)
10. Supergirl #45 (tie)
10. Superman Batman #64 (tie)
10. Marvel Zombies Return #4 (tie)

Tied for 11th: Halo Helljumper #3, Hellblazer #259, Doctor Who Black Death White Life & Power Girl #5.

This is the last week for Wednesday Comics, which means: A) It's the first weekly book we haven't been left with tons of on the shelf - because of the limited run, it never had a chance to lose momentum as fast as 52, Countdown and Trinity did and B) I need to find a new benchmark against which to compare preorders.

But for this week, Wednesday Comics is again the benchmark. Last week it was ranked #8, this week it's #5, which gives the general impression of a lighter week. Blackest Night again tops the preorders, and the majority of the orders for Blackest Night Superman are for All Blackest Night. In fact, the Blackest Night Superman has more than twice as many preorders as Superman, the highest-selling Superman book. We're pulling Superman: Secret Origin #1 for all of those subscribers, and we'll see how many wind up wanting it. Given that it's Geoff Johns and Gary Frank, we're betting it'll be a significant percentage, and that it will do well on the shelf as well.

Dark Reign The List is not really moving the needle. It's doing OK, but it's clear that in terms of momentum, DC's event Blackest Night is doing much better than Marvel's scattered deliberate non-event Dark Reign. I can't help but think that if Dark Reign had been a six-issue miniseries with the premise of "Norman Osborn vs. the now illegal heroes in the Marvel Universe" it would be selling a lot better, and probably pushing the tie-ins better as well. The Dark Reign The List X-Men one-shot this week is being pulled for our Uncanny X-Men subscribers, and I wouldn't be surprised if several of them are put back on the shelf. Uncanny X-Men, however, is holding up nicely in sales... it didn't really gain any readership from the Dark Avengers crossover, but it's a solid seller anyway.

Our anomaly this week is probably that due to overwhelming GI Joe love, that book charts pretty high in our top 5 chart.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Runners is Back!

This is a press release I got from Sean Wang... before I run it, let me just say that I've been reading RUNNERS online since he began reposting the original story (with commentary on many of the pages), and I couldn't be more excited to see it return. If you haven't checked it out yet, go and do so as soon as possible.

The eagerly-anticipated new story arc of the sci-fi adventure comic RUNNERS starts this September at Sean Wang’s acclaimed action-comedy about alien smugglers continues as a FREE webcomic and follows the first story, RUNNERS: Bad Goods, which has recently been posted online in its entirety.

In the new FULL-COLOR story, RUNNERS: The Big Snow Job, hard times have fallen on Roka Nostaco and the smuggling crew of the Khoruysa Brimia. Tired of scraping by on small-time runs for petty criminals, they take on a big job to get back into the top tier of mob-level work. But high pay comes with high risk, and if the freezing climate of Planet Ciceron doesn't kill them, the hostile native population might. Assuming they don't all kill each other first! Success could put them back on track, but are they in the driver's seat or just pawns in a much bigger double-cross? The new story arc begins September 3, with new pages posting twice a week, on Mondays and Thursdays.

As with the first story, Wang will continue to include commentary with the new series online. “When I started posting Bad Goods, I decided to add notes, trivia, and behind-the-scenes info to almost every page as an incentive for readers to check it out even if they had already picked up the graphic novel,” says Wang. “Everyone seems to really love the commentary aspect of the online content, and I really enjoy doing it as well, so the new story arc will also run with plenty of behind-the-scenes info and trivia!”

To celebrate the start of the new story arc, Wang is also offering a special deal on the original issues of the first arc. At, readers can pick up a set of all five original issues for just $5 (not including shipping). “While the Bad Goods graphic novel is also still available at its regular price,” explains Wang, “I thought the $5 issue set might be a nice, cheap way for new readers to get the whole first story before jumping into the next one. And while the entire story is available online, I know some people still like to have physical copies to read.”

“Along those lines,” continues Wang, “the second series will be collected into graphic novel format eventually, since I still love print comics myself. But the collection won’t come until after it finishes posting online, so readers should definitely check it out there in the meantime. It’s free, it’s color, it’s alien smugglers in space! Plus commentary! What more could you ask for?”

The complete Runners series can be read online at:

Weekly Comics for September 16, 2009

Agents of Atlas #11 (A rushed conclusion makes me wish they could have gotten twelve issues, but it's still pretty solid... I'll definitely pick up the Agents of Atlas collections)

Batman and Robin #4 (I miss Frank Quitely... this is OK, but I'm beginning to realize that as much as I love Morrison's take on Superman, I'm not sure I'm in sync with his take on Batman)

Beasts of Burden #1 (One of my favorite comics of the year, with beautiful art by Jill Thompson, a nice story of humor, pathos and the supernatural from Evan Dorkin... expect to see this at the Eisners next year)

Brave and the Bold #27 (A little hokey, and doomed due to: A) no new #1 and B) Straczynski isn't gonna have time to stick around that long, but a good solid single issue story with really nice art. Old school in all the right ways)

Captain America Reborn #3 (We're more than halfway through and I remain pretty convinced that bringing Steve Rogers back is a huge mistake. I really enjoyed the Falcon/Bucky/Thunderbolts stuff, but all the flashbacks to Steve "unstuck in time" bored me)

Dark Reign The List Daredevil (Otherwise known as Daredevil #500.1. Diggle's first run at the book, and damn... it's great. I'm a little troubled at seeing another moral character give up his morals, but DD's been through a lot, and he's always been a little brutal, a little pulp, so I can sort of buy it. And besides, it's a fantastic read)

X-Men Legacy Annual #1 (This book continues to surprise me by making characters I absolutely hate interesting. This time out, it's Generation X villain Emplate. Best X-Men book on the stands by a wide margin)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Top 10 Preorders at Rogues Gallery 9/16/09

Top 10 Preorders at Rogues Gallery 9/10/09

Despite the two big "summer" events (Blackest Night and Dark Reign) just now hitting their stride, it seems like we're out of the big summer week pattern. There aren't a ton of books this week, but there are a lot of books folks seem to be anticipating.

This doesn't measure sales, just pre-sales, as we see how many subscribers had preordered on various titles, just to gauge relative interest levels.

1. Blackest Night #3
2. Batman And Robin #4
3. Thor Annual #1
4. Angel #25
5. Captain America Reborn #3
6. Dark Avengers #9 (tie)
6. Dark Wolverine #78 (tie)
6. Fables #88 (tie)
7. X-Men Legacy Annual #1
8. Wednesday Comics #11 (tie)
8. World Of Warcraft #23 (tie)
9. Mighty Avengers #29 (tie)
9. Action Comics #881 (tie)
9. Batgirl #2 (tie)
10. Amazing Spider-Man #605 (tie)
10. X-Factor #48 (tie)

And Tied For 11th Place: Agents Of Atlas #11 & Ex Machina #45.

Wednesday Comics has become the benchmark to measure preorders, and by that measure, this week is definitely bigger than last, as Wednesday Comics is at #8 instead of #6. In addition, the numbers of preorders up at the top are significantly higher... Blackest Night is probably our highest preorders of the moment, and Batman and Robin might be #2, amongst everything we sell. Thor and Angel are both high up on the preorders, but their shelf sales have plummeted. Also this week, Thor and X-Men Legacy are annuals, which tend to sell less than the main book. I wouldn't be surprised if some of our regular subscribers to those titles decide to pass on the annuals.

Dark Reign The List Daredevil doesn't chart here, even with Daredevil orders figured in. Despite the long-standing quality of creative teams on Daredevil, it's still a niche book for us, and the Dark Reign List hasn't really gained event status. One could argue that the strong showing of Dark Avengers and Dark Wolverine is an argument for Dark Reign bringing in some interest, but honestly I'm not sure how much the Dark Reign story has to do with the popularity of Wolverine, and you probably could have gotten the same sales results by putting Bendis on a relaunched Thunderbolts based on Warren Ellis's revamp, which is essentially what Dark Avengers is.

No huge sales anomalies this week, I don't think. The World of Warcraft books may do slightly better for us because of our gaming crowd, and X-Factor is in the top 10, which I think is not where you'd guess based on its placement in the Diamond Top 100, but other than that I think the sales are in-line with general trends.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Weekly Comics for September 10, 2009

BPRD 1947 #3 (Otherwise titled, "How not to fight vampires" - nice creepy scenes in this one)

Hellboy The Wild Hunt #6 (Well, that's a pretty notable revelation about Hellboy's origin... one I like a lot, too. And Fegredo's art continues to amaze)

Incredible Hercules #134 (One of the funniest (and most fun) comics I've read all year, Herc in Asgard is turning out to be one of the best stories this very good book has seen)

The Marvels Project #2 (Should work, but I'm just not feeling the vibe. Think I'm out)

Models, Inc. #1 (Not as fun as I'd hoped, but it's still kind of fun seeing these various model characters together, and it's a different type of comic than the one Marvel usually produces)

Nomad #1 (Giving Rikki Barnes a new spin, this is good solid superhero stuff with very nice artwork)

Red Robin #4 (Seems to be back on track after last issue, and I like that Red Robin is actually making progress in his search)

Superman: World of New Krypton #7 (It's a really good read... not sure it's worth derailing the rest of the Superman books without their main character, but I'm liking this one)

The Unwritten #5 (Wow. A great standalone featuring Rudyard Kipling and Samuel Clemens, a really scary spotlight on the bad guys of the book and a further underscoring that it's much more ambitious than "What If Harry Potter was a real boy?" Loving this book, the best thing Vertigo has produced in years)

War of Kings Who Will Rule (Nice coda to the War of Kings stuff, and it definitely feels like they've handed the entirety of Marvel space over to Abnett and Lanning, which I heartily approve of)

Hold On... It's Gonna Get Bumpier From Here

I took the Disney/Marvel news in stride. It was a shocker, sure, but as a fan of comics, and a retailer of comics, I truly believed (and still do) that we're more likely to see positive ramifications rather than negative in the direct market, and any changes we do see probably won't roll downhill to us for at least two years.

I would have had the same reaction to Warner Brothers restructuring DC Comics. It's all corporate BS, about where the money goes, and I don't have enough money to invest in a decent HDTV, much less a giant conglomerate that makes dog food, missile guidance chips and comic books. So what do I care where the money's going?

But the announcement that gave me pause, that gave me that "oh shit" reaction everybody else had when they decided that a Disney-fied Marvel was gonna end their MAX line tomorrow and put Mickey Mouse in the Avengers, was the announcement that Paul Levitz was stepping down as President of DC Comics.

Others, notably Kurt Busiek and Brian Hibbs, have covered what exactly Paul Levitz has done for comics in the last three decades or so. Some (some might call them judgmental, sanctimonious assholes, but not me, I'm a diplomatic kinda guy) have taken this as a chance to get the knives out and vent anger at Levitz over perceived failures. Never mind that many of them are not even remotely his failures, and most of the failures Levitz had were being over-cautious, something that our always-on-the-brink-of-collapse industry could probably use a little more of, rather than less.

But the point is this: Paul Levitz is the best friend the direct market had at DC, with only Bob Wayne even remotely in the running. (And hopefully Bob will stay where he is, because Lord knows we're gonna need the advocates with the new status quo).

Disney buying Marvel? Eh. Time Warner restructuring DC to maximize movie/videogame/Slurpee synergy with its comics characters? Whatever. Motion comics? Seriously, have you seen those? They're about as much of a threat to comics as pogs were. The Kindle? Online comics shops? iTunes for comics? All manageable, worth keeping an eye on, but nothing that seems likely to utterly shake the direct market and the way comics are currently delivered.

Paul Levitz no longer at the head of DC?

Well honestly, that just scares the shit out of me.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Top 10 Preorders at Rogues Gallery 9/10/09

The date is for Thursday, not Wednesday, due to the Labor Day holiday. Btw, just for the record, the one-day delay that we occasionally get for comics usually winds up costing us a not-insignificant chunk of money. I don't know if this is universal, but it's been true of all three of the shops I've worked at.

This week is technically, in terms of volume and money, a smaller week than last week, but because it features several "big" books like Green Lantern Corps, Dark Reign The List, the finale of the Dark Avengers/Uncanny crossover, Red Robin, Ultimate Avengers and the long-awaited seventh issue of Kick Ass, I expect it will be a better new comics day than last week, even with the Labor Day delay. We shall see.

This doesn't measure sales, just pre-sales, as we see how many subscribers had preordered on various titles, just to gauge relative interest levels.

1. Green Lantern Corps #40
2. Blackest Night Batman #2
3. Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-men Exodus
4. Red Robin #4
5. Dark Reign List Avengers
6. Wednesday Comics #10
7. Ultimate Comics Avengers #2
8. Thunderbolts #135 (tie)
8. Enders Game Command School #1 (tie)
9. Incredible Hercules #134 (tie)
9. Kick Ass #7 (tie)
9. Marvel Zombies Return #2 (tie)
9. Amazing Spider-Man #604 (tie)
9. Secret Six #13 (tie)
10. Hellboy Wild Hunt #6

And Tied For 11th Place: Adventure Comics #2, BPRD 1947 #3, Superman World of New Krypton #7, Titans #17 & War Of Kings Who Will Rule.

To compare again to last week: The biggest number for last week is the #3 slot this week, and there are a lot more titles below 11th place this week than there were last week.

Also of note, four of the books in the top 10 are boosted by having event tie-ins, whether that event is Blackest Night, Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men crossover or the new Dark Reign The List. Our actual numbers for The List are our Dark Avengers numbers, as we're pulling the Avengers issue of The List for all of those subs. Same characters (Hawkeye/Bullseye), same writer (Bendis) and an important tie-in to the Dark Avengers continuity. Some may put it back, but I'd bet on 90% of the people we pull it for wanting it.

This week, the line between what sells on the shelf and what pre-sells is straighter than usual. The first discrepancy between the number of subscribers and the number of books on order is Wednesday Comics, which sells a large percentage to preorders and has a lot less shelf sales than the others. Everything else in the top 7, I'd guess those will be our top 7 sellers in single issues for the week. I would also guess that the highly anticipated Kick-Ass will be much higher on the sales chart than #9, maybe even in the top five, bumping one of my top 7 preorders down a slot.

If we have a sales anomaly this week, it's probably how well we do with Thunderbolts, which owes to our appreciation for the Warren Ellis relaunch and the work of Andy Diggle. And though it just barely didn't make the chart, we have a lot of preorders for Amulet Volume 2, by Kazu Kibuishi. I know I'm excited to finally get my hands on that one as well.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Weekly Comics for September 2, 2009

Agents of Atlas #10 (Terrific, maybe the best the book has been since it launched. I'm loving the Terror of the Jade Claw arc)

Batman #690 (I've been enjoying this, but thought this was a weaker issue, and the action scenes were kind of meh)

Chew #4 (Just keeps getting weirder... and I just keep loving it more)

Dead Run #4 (Still great art, nice action, but I'm a little disappointed in the happy ending, which feels tonally inconsistent with the rest of the book)

Incognito #6 (Finishes strong, and though it's not up there with Sleeper for me, it's a great read. I'm really looking forward to the return of Criminal, though)

Sweet Tooth #1 (A fantastic opener, moody and engaging with beautiful art by Lemire. I thought this might be a little weird and off-putting, but instead it's strange in a very compelling way)

Strange Tales #1 (Some funny stuff, some nice art... the Paul Pope story is the standout, but Dash Shaw's "poison soup" gag is what made me laugh the loudest)

Witchfinder #3 (I'm still liking it, but it's more in that Abe Sapien/Lobster Johnson realm, not as must-read as BPRD and Hellboy itself for me)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Top 10 Preorders at Rogues Gallery 9/2/09

A much, much smaller week this time out... not much from Marvel or DC's big crossovers (Dark Reign and Blackest Night, respectively) and not many "heavy hitter" books. My favorite new book of the year (Chew) is shipping this week, though.

This doesn't measure sales, just pre-sales, as we see how many subscribers had preordered on various titles, just to gauge relative interest levels.

1. Buffy The Vampire Slayer
2. Batman
3. All Blackest Night
4. Deadpool
5. Justice League Cry For Justice (tie)
5. Ultimate Comics Spider-Man (tie)
5. Wednesday Comics (tie)
6. Marvel Zombies Return
7. Agents Of Atlas (tie)
7. Exiles (tie)
7. Immortal Weapons (tie)
7. Northlanders (tie)
8. All BPRD & Hellboy (tie)
8. Boys (tie)
8. Cable (tie)
8. Incognito (tie)
8. Invincible Iron Man (tie)
8. Star Wars Invasion (tie)
8. Supergirl (tie)
9. Batman Confidential (tie)
9. Doctor Who Ongoing (tie)
9. Irredeemable (tie)
9. Resurrection (tie)
10. Chew (tie)
10. DMZ trades (tie)
10. Ghost Riders Heavens On Fire (tie)

And Tied For 11th Place: Army Of Darkness #24, Authority #14, Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep #3, Jonah Hex #47 & The Good The Bad & The Ugly #3.

Last week was a much bigger week... in fact, the tie for 11th place numbers last week were the same as the numbers for the number 5 slot this week. And two of the 11th place-holders this week actually have *zero* shelf sales, as they've sold so poorly over the last couple years that we've had to cut them back to subscriber-only and special-order books.

As with last week, the licensed books have higher preorders and lower shelf sales. This wasn't always true of Buffy, but it has become so in the last few months. We sell 50% less of that book now than we did at its outset. However, even after more than two years of sales, the book continues to sell better than any other licensed book we've ever had.

I generally just include the "all" numbers in with the totals, but I thought it'd be interesting to see that this week, the third place number is "anything with Blackest Night in it" (even the final issue of a miniseries not a ton of folks have been following, although in fairness, I expect a fair amount of those to go back to the shelf) rather than any specific comic. Judging by the sales, "Event fatigue" is not as prevalent as many might claim. My theory is that "event fatigue" should more accurately be called "buyer's remorse" as it doesn't really stop folks from buying (and being excited by) the next big event. And in many cases, those who gripe about event comics will also reminisce fondly about Civil War, Final Crisis and other events later on.

No real anomalies for us this week. We sell fairly well on Incognito, Northlanders, Agents of Atlas, which I think of more as "buzz" books, but I believe those are holding up relatively well on the sales charts as well nationwide.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Weekly Comics for August 26, 2009

28 Days Later #1 (I was not a fan of the movie sequel 28 Weeks Later, but I would have been if it had been more like this comic. The art is terrific, the new characters interesting and it's a good sequel to what happened in the movie.)

Avengers The Initiative #27 (Needs more New Warriors, less D-grade Dazzler bad guys and random invasion of the extradimensional Civil War prison. Remains a very uneven book, occasionally very good but often just mediocre)

Batman and Robin #3 (Undeniably well-executed, but not engaging me on that gut level this issue. It may be the incoming art change already dampening my enthusiasm for the book)

Beta Ray Bill Godhunter #3 (Solid wrap-up to a very impressive miniseries, looking forward to S.W.O.R.D. and Gillen's Thor)

Dead Run #3 (I've got a big fondness for post-apocalyptic stories, and this is a good one. This time out, it's the post-apocalyptic settlement and its bizarre laws, and I liked Cosby's version of this post-apocalyptic trope)

Detective Comics #856 (The art is gorgeous, I like the character and the supporting cast, but I have absolutely no idea what's going on here, and after three issues, I feel like I should)

Guardians of the Galaxy #17 (War of Kings ripples nicely here, as it did in Nova, and allows Abnett and Lanning to set up another interesting story going forward)

Incredible Hercules #133 (I like Cho, but I really missed the Hercules replaces Thor story in this issue - a split story format would probably have been better)

Incredible Hulk #601 (I've sort of tuned out of Skaar and Hulk, but I wanted to see what Pak would do with the character. I like this new de-Hulked Banner, who reminds me of the West Coast Avengers incarnation of Hank Pym, but I honestly couldn't care less about Skaar at this point)

Marvel Adventures Spider-Man #54 (Pure joy in Spider-Man form, Tobin has always been doing good stuff on Marvel Adventures but setting up a continuing status quo has raised the book to a new level. Best Spidey on the stands? Quite possibly)

New Mutants #4 (Good God, we're still fighting Legion, one of the most boring characters in the X-Universe. Decent, but my enthusiasm is wavering)

Nova #28 (The resolution of the expansive Nova Corps story is a satisfying evolution of the status quo, the fights are fun and Abnett and Lanning continue to define Marvel's space characters in the most interesting way I've seen)

Underground #2 (Some really tense, claustrophobic action and some of the most believable crime drama I've seen in comics - definitely worth checking out when it hits, this was an advance look)

Unknown #4 (Really strong ending, and I'm glad that we're going to get a sequel to one of the best detective stories I've read this year)

Usagi Yojimbo #122 (A nice self-contained tale of Usagi finding shelter and helping out those who need him. You'd think this kind of thing would get it old, but it never does)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

How Can She Be A First Grader Already?

First day of first grade. And before we know it, Aaron will be getting bigger and going to school too.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Top 10 Preorders at Rogues Gallery 8/26/09

Not sure if I'll maintain this as a weekly thing or not, but I thought it was interesting to look and see how many subscribers had preordered on various titles, just to gauge relative interest levels.

1. Green Lantern #45
2. Batman And Robin #3
3. Dark Avengers #8
4. Dark Tower The Fall Of Gilead #4
5. Blackest Night Titans #1
6. Star Wars Legacy #23 (tie)
6. New Avengers #56 (tie)
7. Detective Comics #856
8. Dark Wolverine #77 (tie)
8. Anita Blake LC Necromancer #4 (tie)
9. X-Force #18
10. Deadpool #14 (tie)
10. Flash Rebirth #4 (tie)

And Tied For 11th Place: Guardians Of The Galaxy #17, Nova #28, Teen Titans #74 & Wednesday Comics #8.

In general, higher preorders means higher sales, but not always. Licensed books like Anita Blake, Star Wars Legacy and Dark Tower won't sell that much higher than their preorders, at least at this point in their run, although Dark Tower in particular was a sales-off-the-rack monster early on. Green Lantern, Dark Avengers and Blackest Night Titans all benefit from huge interest in their crossovers.

The order numbers on Green Lantern and Batman and Robin are pretty much identical, and will more than likely generate strong shelf sales and eventually reorders.

Guardians and Nova are probably the anomalies for my shop, as I expect they're much lower on the charts than the others here at most stores across the country, judging by the sales charts posted on ICV2 and The Beat.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Weekly Comics for August 19, 2009

Batgirl #1 (Thrilled with who's behind the cowl. The actual issue is merely OK, it has some clunky writing and art at times, but I'm happy enough with the reveal to keep reading)

Brave and the Bold #26 (Xombi was one of my favorite Milestone books, a Vertigo-esque gem that far too many people missed. I'd love to get some new stories, and this is a good start, with Xombi's creator returning to write him teaming up with the Spectre against a serial killing ghost)

Monsters Inc. #1 (This is written by my good friend Paul Benjamin, but if I didn't like it, I would have just quietly not mentioned it here. Fortunately? I *loved* it. He and Amy Mebberson really capture the vibe of the movie and the status quo at the end, it's a fun done-in-one story and as good a comics sequel to Monsters, Inc. as the Waid-penned Incredibles comic is to The Incredibles)

The Unwritten #3 (Missed this one last week. And it's great. Carey and Gross have reminded me why I loved so much of Vertigo's output up until recently, and I hope that this is a big success.)

X-Men Legacy #227 (Great issue. If you'd told me that the X-Book most like the X-Men that I loved would feature Rogue, Gambit and Whedon's Danger robot, I would have told you you were crazy, but this is just a great X-Book, and a really good single issue of it)

Wednesday Night Linkblogging

Project Waldo: Nate Simpson liveblogs creating a comic. And it's *gorgeous* (hat tip to Brandon Graham for the link)

Cameron Stewart earns free drinks with an iPhone and some of his art used without permission

Greg Rucka talks with Laura Hudson about Stumptown, one of my most-anticipated series of 2009.

Marvel 70th Anniversary/Cover Meme from Stuart Immonen, via Graeme McMillan - and there goes the rest of my night

Cool? Zombie bar opens in Minneapolis. Cooler? (for me) My sister, brother-in-law and nephews live there. So this is definitely on the menu for a visit at some point.

Don't be a mean GM. Legally, it can have consequences. Like hammer face-beatings, apparently.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Funny... and yet...

It'd be a lot funnier if I didn't think so many people across the country actually, un-ironically, believe this.

From Tim Dickinson at Rolling Stone:

What I Learned On My Summer Vacation

Barack Hussein Obama, natural born Kenyan socialist, usurper of the American presidency and “Trojan Horse of Islam,” possessed of a “deep seated hatred of white people” and with the aid of his media “brownshirts,” is embarking on a Nazi-styled eugenics campaign to grant “death panels” the authority to “pull the plug on grandma” and “redistribute the wealth” otherwise required to sustain her “unproductive” life as “reparations”. Failure to halt his “government takeover” — with assault rifles if necessary — will lead inexorably to future generations having to “wait in line for, I dunno, toilet paper.”

Sunday, August 16, 2009

New movie from Richard Kelly

Try to forget Southland Tales

Is it cynical of me to think that 99% of the time, this movie ends really early? "You'll be given a payment of one million -- wow, you pushed that button fast."

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Weekly Comics for August 12, 2009

Batman #689 (Great use of the new Batmobile, and I'm digging the Two-Face/Penguin turf war and the look at Dick Grayson as a different kind of Batman)

BPRD 1947 #2 (Gorgeous art, creepy settings, great characters... BPRD is great as always)

Days Missing #1 (A compelling little sci-fi thinkpiece by Phil Hester... the lettering is sometimes hard to read, but I like this opening issue quite a bit)

Hellboy The Wild Hunt #5 (Hooray! The hiatus is over, the punching of bad guys commences again and Duncan Fegredo's artwork is magnificent)

House of M: Masters of Evil #1 (In general, I care so little about what happened during House of M, but as long as Christos Gage is writing these, I'll be reading them. This time, we see what happens when the non-mutant bad guys organize)

Incredible Hercules #132 (Hercules joins up with the Asgardians, and it's a ton of fun to read)

The Killer #9 (Beautifully illustrated, hauntingly captivating, this remains a favorite. The life of a professional killer as I've never seen it done before)

Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers #4 (Good conclusion to a really fun miniseries, and it looks like there's more coming next year)

Marvel Adventures Spider-Man #53 (Paul Tobin relaunches the book, in a way, with a brand new supporting cast member, the addition of Gwen Stacy, a nifty use of an unexpected X-Men character and terrific art by Mateo Lolli... check it out if you're not digging the Amazing stuff, or hell, even if you are)

Marvel Adventures Super-Heroes #14 (Featuring Hawkeye (not Ronin), so I picked it up, and Tobin and David Baldeon don't disappoint. The Hulk robber trick is a neat idea, the Blonde Phantom a good co-star and it reads like a fun issue of Marvel Team-Up)

Red Robin #3 (After really enjoying the first two issues, this one was a bit of a let down, and the artwork looked extremely shaky)

Robotika: For A Few Rubles More #1-2 (Great futurepunk samurai/western fiction with stunning artwork, glad to see this one back on track)

Ultimate Comics Avengers #1 (It's got all the usual flaws of Millar's work, but all the strengths as well, and when that includes great action sequences with Carlos Pacheco art, and it all takes place in the nihilistic Ultimate universe, I can enjoy it quite a bit. The Red Skull twist doesn't bother me either, as I prefer my Ultimate universe different from the mainline, and this is definitely different, and an interesting take on Cap's nemesis)

Friday, August 07, 2009

RIP John Hughes

John Hughes was a *huge* influence on me as a high schooler. I'm pretty sure he was the first filmmaker I recognized by name. It would be years until I realized how much of a fan I was of James Cameron, John McTiernan, Ridley Scott or even Martin Scorsese. But I knew who John Hughes was after I went and saw Breakfast Club (as part of a double-feature, at a drive-in, along with Beverly Hills Cop) with my older cousin Cindy in California, who was awesome for taking me and my sister to see those movies when we were young teens.

I had seen Sixteen Candles before that, of course, but it was never my favorite of Hughes's movies. It remains the one I've only seen a couple of times, whereas I know Breakfast Club, Weird Science, Ferris Bueller's Day Off and Planes, Trains and Automobiles by heart.

After Planes, Tranes and Automobiles, Hughes directed She's Having a Baby (pretty terrible, as I recall), Uncle Buck (watchable but forgettable) and Curly Sue (haven't seen, but I hear... not great things). Still, five of the most formative comedies of my youth in four years (1984-1987)? Not bad.

And that's only the stuff he wrote *and* directed. Among the stuff he wrote, we've got Mr. Mom, Vacation, Pretty in Pink and Some Kind of Wonderful. It's true that as time went on, he started doing increasingly worse sequels to Vacation, then birthed the horrible Beethoven and Home Alone series, and his work in the past few years has included Flubber and Maid in Manhattan, so... in all honesty, the odds that he was ever going to make another movie I wanted to see were shockingly low.

But the guy's work was hugely influential on me as a teenager, and a half-dozen of his movies remain some of my absolute favorites.

I took dates to see Ferris Bueller, Some Kind of Wonderful and Pretty in Pink. I barely remember the girls... but I still remember the movies.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Weekly Comics for August 5, 2009

Agents of Atlas #9 (I've been enjoying the Dark Reign Agents of Atlas, but these last couple issues seem to have kicked into the same gear I enjoyed in the miniseries, and the "Terror of the Jade Claw" has real potential)

Captain America Reborn #2 (It's well-crafted and all, but the "unstuck in time" stuff with Steve Rogers seems a jarring fit with the world Brubaker has created, and I find myself increasingly tuning out of the book)

Chew #3 (Amelia Plintz is another great character with another weird "power" and Chew continues to look like the book to beat for the "Best New Title of 2009")

Superman World of New Krypton #6 (There's a reverse Star Trek rule going on with me and this book... I like the odd-numbered issues, and I'm a little cooler on the even numbered ones)

War of Kings #6 (Another big setup for more cosmic Marvel stuff done very well by Abnett, Lanning and company)

Witchfinder: In The Service of Angels #2 (Like somebody mixed up the best parts of British Victorian adventure and Hellboy... good stuff)

Tuesday, August 04, 2009


Is anybody else feeling like maybe the world is in a death spiral of doom and gloom?

In the past few weeks, several of my friends have lost their jobs. Great jobs, jobs that they loved, and jobs that they were great at and worked hard at. Meanwhile, the shitheels who got us into this mess are making huge bonuses and continue to run the government.

I know of several friends who are dealing with the insanity of our current health insurance "system" and yet it seems that actual reform is being tied up by a congress largely bought and paid for by the various health insurance lobbies.

And pretty much every day, someone is posting on the Internet about how the direct market, the industry that *I work in*, is either dead and/or dying.

Combine with all the usual human foibles and bullshit that shows up daily on the news, and I'm even finding it hard to laugh along with The Daily Show and The Colbert Report anymore. These days, it's more like dark humor about how fucked up the whole thing has gotten.

I would like for a lot of really good things to happen to the various people in my life, and a lot of very bad things to happen to the corrupt mother-fuckers who run our country (and the corporations who own them). Just putting that out there for the universe to process.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Sketches from San Diego 2009

Not too many sketches this year, but the ones I got I'm very happy with. The first three are in Katy's new sketchbook, started at San Diego last year.

Mark and Abby from Love and Capes by Thom Zahler:

Hawkman by Chris Giarrusso:

Bone (and Ted) by Jeff Smith:

This one is the lone addition to the theme sketchbook this year. I'm a big fan of Ullman's work, and I hadn't ever met him, so it was a really pleasant surprise to see him in Artist's Alley. Not only is this a great sketch, I also picked up his hardcover full-color artbook Atom Bomb Bikini, which I highly recommend. You can see more from Rob at his website.

Pirate Girl by Rob Ullman:

And this was the lone addition to my regular sketchbook. I forgot to buy Samnee's sketchbook from him when I got this, and never ran into him at the show again.

Iron Fist by Chris Samnee:

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Weekly Comics for July 22 & July 29, 2009

Aliens #2 (Nice art, interesting characters, I like this version of Aliens so far)

Avengers Initiative #26 (Wow, this was a really cool issue showing not only how the Initiative is transitioning into the Dark Reign era, but doing cool stuff with the New Warriors, Tigra and other characters who have most recently been screwed up in various Marvel issues)

Brave and the Bold #24-25 (Good to see the Milestone characters again, with Matt Wayne doing a great job on Holocaust and Static and Adam Beechen nailing the aggressive Hardware)

Dark Reign Young Avengers #3 (It's taking a while to get to the point, but the journey's pretty enjoyable. Maybe Cornell is the guy to take up the reins of Heinberg's abandoned characters)

Detective Comics #855 (I'm not sure I know what's going on with the cults and hallucinations, but it's beautiful to look at and intriguing to read)

Guardians of the Galaxy #16 (Kind of weak art, but a solid issue that brings the old Guardians and the new Guardians together, has some good cosmic action and some nice time-travel headache-y stuff)

Incredible Hercules #131 (I liked a lot of this underworld story, but I was disappointed by what seemed like illogical, out-of-character behavior for Amadeus Cho in the name of moving him off to the side)

Nova #27 (The Worldmind story dragged on a bit long, but the War of Kings tie-ins have rejuvenated the book, and I love that the Robbie/Richard Rider story has gone in unexpected directions)

Monday, July 27, 2009

San Diego 2009 Day 5

The final day of San Diego Con 2009 was the longest day of the show for me. I haven't stuck around on Sunday before, and after doing it once, I don't think I'd do it again. Not that there weren't some high points, but in general? Huge pain in the ass.

I woke up late (which in San Diego translates as 8 AM. That sound you hear is the laughter of my friends and family, who know that I usually don't wake up before 11 AM at home - usually after) and decided to get on the Internet for a bit before going down to the convention hall. Packed up my bags, got ready to go, and then checked in on Faceook, Twitter, email, etc. This meant foregoing the Spectacular Spider-Man panel, but I figured I probably wouldn't be able to get into the room anyway.

So I went over to Anthony's Fishette at around 10:15 to grab a lunch of clam chowder, and then headed out to the convention center. I had really intended to see either the Comics & Graphic Novels For All Ages panel or the Kids Write Comics panel, but a variety of things cropped up and I couldn't make the time work. I did, however, get to say hi to Carla and Lance Hoffman, which was something I didn't think I'd get a chance to do, and also got to check in and do some graphic novel recommending with Alan Sepinwall. I'd always rather catch up with Internet friends in person rather than do almost anything else at Comicon, so I don't regret the trade-off.

After that, I picked up my sketch from Chris Giarrusso for Katy's sketchbook, went and got her sketch from Thom Zahler (I would have gotten in trouble if I hadn't gotten it, and it's beautiful, she's going to love it) and then just kind of wandered for a while. Bought Dustin Nguyen's Batman Beyond print and thanked him for helping out when I was a sponsor of Project: Rooftop's Batman contest, then bought Ryan Kelly's X-Women print. I left these prints and my poster tube in my friend Paul Benjamin's room, but hopefully he's bringing it with him to the airport.

Went out to dinner at The Field with Paul Benjamin and Alan Porter, which was a delight, and we helped Paul brainstorm off the gem of his *genius* idea for one of my favorite obscure Marvel characters. It was a lot of fun. Oh, and I got the "Boxty Sampler" at The Field, which was delicious but way too much food. I definitely liked the Rasher and Cheese Boxty best.

The girl next to us, part of a couple, asked where we were from, and when we told her Austin, she said something like "I thought so. You're too nice to be from L.A." We thought that was kind of hilarious, and had lovely chat with her and her boyfriend, and found out they were thinking of moving to Austin. Exchanged some info in case they needed any help with the move.

Oh, also at The Field? Irish folk dancing on the bar to various comic/geek songs, like the Imperial March, with the girls and guy dressed up in comic book/videogame t-shirts. It was a lot of fun, and maybe my favorite meal of the convention.

Of course, as we were getting ready to pay, the power went out. It was kind of dark and the A/C very noticeably had shut down. I felt really bad for the folks working there, but our hard-working waitress got our bill divided amongst our three credit cards manually, and we headed back to the Hyatt.

Or rather, Alan and Paul did, I went to get my luggage so I could leave in in their room, which is how I managed to lose my poster tube.

Short version of the night is that I wound up going out to La Puerta for their half-price drinks night with the Spill crew, Geoff Sebesta and Tom Galloway. Long version? Ask me in person and I'll tell you a little story.

Walked a few miles with Geoff out to his place, long walk but it was a nice night, crashed out on his couch, woke up early (8 AM) and headed to the airport via bus. Figured I'd check my luggage, hang out and write using wi-fi, maybe head back into town to meet up with Paul and grab a meal before we both headed back to the airport.

Except that apparently Southwest only checks baggage two hours before a flight, and my flight wasn't until 2:45. And then some kind of fire somewhere outside or in the terminal caused them to evacuate my portion of the airport. After some hassles, though, I managed to settle into the Yan-Can asian restaurant near a power outlet and fire up the wi-fi, and catch up on various things, including writing this Con report.

It was, overall, a pretty good Con. Got to spend some time with friends I rarely see, made a couple good plans for store events with some creators, met Felicia Day (!), Jim Shooter (!!) and some of the cast of Chuck (!!!), picked up a few sketchbooks and graphic novels (much more restrained this year, though) saw a few good panels and had some good meals.

I also experienced huge frustration with the lines and the crowds and occasional dick behavior, and generally realized that when I'm not reviewing, the Con is a very different experience. It was fun, but it was expensive and a bit of a hassle, and I think that on balance, it's probably time to give it a rest for a year or two. I've been dying to go to Heroes Con, and it really sounds like I missed a great one in 2009. Of course, I've been saying for the past two or three years that I'm going to skip San Diego next year, and I always change my mind, so we'll see what happens.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

San Diego 2009 Day 4

So I went to bed, mildly drunk, at about 3:00 AM the night before. Panel for Chuck, which I desperately wanted to get into, was at 10 AM, so I had set my wake-up call for the demonic early hour of 7:15. I woke up at 6:30, decided there was no point in sleeping in for maybe another 15 minutes if I could get back to sleep at all, and got up to get showered, dressed and on my way before the wake-up call came. A quick danish and tea downstairs and I walked over to the Con.

I got in line for Ballroom 20, and it was not a small line. I figured getting there a little over two hours before the panel would get me in, but you never know when it comes to Comicon. After an hour or so in line reading Toupydoops: The Early Years and Least I Could Do Volume One, my friend Tess came to join me in line. She knows a bunch of the Chuck guys since the show she works on (Ellen) is across the lot, and she had promised to try and introduce me to Zach Levi, Adam Baldwin, etc.

After some nerve-wracking moments where we weren't sure if they'd opened the hall or not, at 9:30 they finally opened the doors and not only did we get in, we got seats about six rows back from the front. Tess was looking around for a show PA or anyone she knew, but she couldn't find them, so we resolved to see if we could rush up after the panel or maybe find the cast at their autograph session later.

The panel was fantastic. Jeffster opened with a live set of "Fat Bottomed Girls," there was a great clip reel to open and a fun skit with Chris Fedak, Josh Schwartz and Zachary Levi, and the whole panel was just a lot of fun. You can get a pretty good sense of it from looking at the tweets of TV critic Daniel Fienberg (@hitfixdaniel) or Mo Ryan (@moryan) or by checking out their recaps of the panel.

After the panel, we rushed up, Tess managed to catch Zach's eye and he seemed very happy to see her, but we were down and they were up and there was no crossing the security. So she headed for the black curtains at the back where friends, family, etc. were going back to see the cast. I followed, figuring security would stop us. They didn't. Act like you know what you're doing, apparently, and you're golden.

So I'm backstage, waiting for the cast and some of the writers of Chuck to pass through. First thing that happens is that Sarah Lancaster and Ryan McPartlin (Ellie and Awesome) come off the stage, and as he comes down, Ryan gives me a big grin and a pat on the shoulder with a "How's it going?" or something similar that was just so perfectly Captain Awesome. Then Chris Fedak came down, and Tess introduced me, and she also introduced me to Zach Levi. I believe all I could manage was "Big fan." She also introduced me to Adam Baldwin, who I already have a huge amount of love for thanks to Firefly. He was as gracious and nice (and tall!) as could be, and even extended a friendly invite to come out and visit the set. It was mostly a conversational thing, and I doubt he'd remember or that I'll be able to take him up on it, but it was definitely appreciated.

After the panel, I grabbed my re-entry pass for Ballroom 20, and Tess and I went down to The Guild signing at the California Browncoats so she could give Felicia Day her card and offer web/post-production assistance. We were waiting in line, and someone came up to tell us about buying prints to get signed, and I asked her if we could just step in and meet Felicia, as Tess was on the Ellen show and wanted to offer help. Turns out the person talking to us was Kim Evey, producer on The Guild, and she pulled us aside so Tess could meet Felicia afterward. Both Felicia and Kim seemed very interested in Tess's offer, and it was pretty much a great morning for both of us.

I knew there was no way I was getting into Hall H for Iron Man 2, so it was back to Ballroom 20 to sit through Futurama and Simpsons so I could catch the screening of the new V. The Futurama panel, made up of Matt Groening, David X. Cohen and several writers, and it was pretty clear this was a last-minute change from the planned "cast and writers" panel. It was a little stilted and awkward, and for a casual Futarama fan like myself, kind of a waste, actually.

I ducked out of the Simpsons panel after getting my re-entry ticket again. Sorry, Simpsons fans, but that show has been on way too long. Grabbed a pretzel dog (not as tasty as I'd hoped, basically just a second-rate version of Einstein's yummy bagel dogs) for lunch, then headed back in for the last twenty minutes or so before the V panel started.

By this point, my three and a half hours of sleep was catching up to me, and when V started out and was disappointing, I decided about 30 minutes in that it was time to bail on the original plan. V is co-executive produced by a writer/producer from Angel and the creator of The 4400, and I'm sad to say it's much more like The 4400. In that it's watchable (especially if you have had more than three hours of sleep), but the dialogue and moment-to-moment writing is bland and predictable. Morena Baccarin, Elizabeth Mitchell and Alan Tudyk are fantastic, but what they were being given to do was... not.

And so, I headed back to the hotel to grab a quick nap. Managed to run into my roommate, Bob Greenberger, and chat with him a bit, which was fortuitous, as our schedules had been keeping us pretty much separate except for when one or both of us was sleeping. Had a quick dinner at Anthony's Fishette of fried shrimp and headed back to the Con, planning to catch the Myth Busters and Watchmen panel.

As a side note, the first part of the day was a great success, but in retrospect, I should have bailed out right after talking with Felicia and Kim and headed back to the hotel. That way I could have seen the "Comics with a sense of history" panel that I *really* wanted to go to, and I probably would have gotten into the Myth Busters line early and actually gotten in.

Yep, when I got back to the convention center, the line for Myth Busters and then Watchmen (same room) had been capped, which was a first for me at Comicon. I've waited in lines and not gotten in, but never been told that I couldn't get into the line. Quite honestly, I prefer finding out before I line up, so this was ideal, except that it meant not getting to see the live Watchmen commentary. (By the way? 2 hours early for the Watchmen panel, which was not enough time to get in. Crowds at San Diego are out of control.)

So I went to my backup plan, the Weeds panel over at the Hilton Bayfront. The Bayfront is a beautiful hotel, and I love their bar and their Indigo ballrooms. If Comicon is smart (and every indication is the folks running it are very smart), they'll do more programming over there next year. Anyway, prior to the Weeds panel was, apparently, the Troma Roast of Lloyd Kaufman. It was surprisingly funny, even though I've never seen a Troma film.

The Weeds panel was fairly low-key, just creator Jenji Kohan and actors Hunter Parrish and Justin Kirk, but it was fun anyway. The moderator was kind of terrible, but once they opened it up to questions, the thing got more lively, and I was surprised and pleased to learn about the existence of "Andy University" shorts on the Showtime website. (Sorry there aren't any links in here, I'm trying to knock this out and get to the Sunday part of the show.)

After that, headed out to the Marriott bar to go to the party, which was a lot of fun. Talked TV, comics and the show with a variety of people, including my friend Geoff Sebesta, who I'm staying with tonight, and who had a very cool meeting with author David Gerrold that could turn into something really exciting for him.

From there, it was over to the Hyatt to meet up with Tess, and I spent the rest of the night chatting with her and other folks. I stumbled back home, a little too drunk, about 2:30 AM and went right to bed. Miraculously, there was no hangover in the morning.

Final day of the Con beckons... have to go!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

San Diego 2009 Day 3

Woke up around 8:45, grabbed a shower and a Danish (separately, not together) and headed out to the show.
The first shuttle was full, but the next one showed up less than five minutes later and got me to the convention center a little after 10. The Brave and the Bold panel was packed, and The Guild panel had a huge line, so I headed for the Con floor.

I swung through the small press area and bought a few things, including a sketch and books by Rob Ullman and the Toupydoops Early Years collection.

Stopped by the Dark Horse booth to tell the Star Wars Adventures guys how much I liked their work and lucked out that the Indiana Jones Adventures guys were there as well. I had hoped to catch the Adam Warren signing, but I needed to get over to Jeff Smith's booth to get a signed copy of his new children's book, Little Mouse Gets Ready. I also "had" to buy two T-Shirts and the cool plastic figures of the Bone cousins.

Dropped by the Oni booth to say hi to Chris Samnee and get a quick Iron Fist sketch. Forgot to buy his sketchbook, but that'll have to buy that on Saturday.

After that, it was off to a quick interview for a documentary about Gramt Morrison, and then a break from the Con to grab a "Bourbonzola" burger at the Rock Bottom Brewery.

I headed back to the Convention center for the most frustrating experience so far, trying to get into the damn Joss whedon panels. After waiting for an hour in line and realizing I wasn't getting in, and seeing tweets from folks who had, I was feeling particularly small and annoyed.

I enjoyed the Darwyn Cooke and Wednesday Comics as an alternative to the packed media panels, and got to say hi to Robot 6's JK Parkin, though.

I spent the last couple hours going through Artists Alley and the videogame side of the hall before meeting up with some friends for dinner at a delicious place whose name I've blanked on. 

After that, through the miracle of text messaging, I managed to hook up with some friends at the Hilton bar. I talked to my friend Alice, who I haven't seen in years, then joined up with Cyrus and Leon of We made plans to go to a cheaper bar as soon as we could tear Boom! Marketing genius Chip Mosher away from the bar. These plans were quickly abandoned when we found out Chip was talking to Jim Shooter.

Shooter held court for an eager audience, and I basically got to spend three hours hearing comics industry stories fromthe guy who is most responsible for my even reading comics. So that was pretty cool.

Finally, tired and aware that I had to be up in less than 5 hours if I wanted to get into the Chuck panel, I took a mostly empty shuttle back to my hotel.

Note: This report was written while mildly drunk on my IPod, so any typos or weirdness can be blamed on one or both of those factors.

Friday, July 24, 2009

San Diego 2009 Day 2

Day 2 started off early. My roommate and I (who hadn't really met, yet) woke up to a 6 AM alarm. He hit snooze, we went back to sleep, only to have it go off again 10 minutes later. I flipped on the light and found the off switch, at which point I said "hi" by means of introduction. We both cracked up and then tried to go back to sleep.

Which didn't work, so we got up, introduced ourselves properly, and then played dueling laptops with the hotel wi-fi, each of us finding out what had happened in the place we were before through the magic of Facebook and Twitter and Email.

At about 8, I went down to grab breakfast at the deli next door. The special was eggs, potatoes and sausage biscuits and gravy, which sounded decent. It was pretty good, but they were very liberal with the gravy, and let me just say this: You haven't lived until you've had eggs with gravy. And after that? You don't want to. Still, my non-gravy-covered eggs and potatoes were good, and the sausage was decent as well.

From there, I tried to grab the free shuttle down to the convention center. The shuttles are running really slow this year, taking longer between trips and getting hung up in traffic, so after waiting until about 9:30, past when the hall closed, I finally gave up and started walking.

The shuttle bus, of course, passed me halfway there, but that was OK, as it got stuck in traffic and I still got there at basically the same time, if not a few minutes before.

My first stop was at the Oni Press booth, where I talked with Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt about their upcoming book, a fantasy/western that looks fantastic and is due probably next year. Bunn and Hurtt do the terrific prohibition crime/horror book Damned, and if you haven't picked that up from Oni Press and you're at the show, I definitely recommend swinging by and grabbing it. If you're not in San Diego? Get it at your comic shop. Especially if you're a fan of Hellboy, BPRD, Hellblazer and/or gangster flicks.

Next up I rushed over to the Guild booth to buy the DVDs of the first two seasons, then went up to have them signed. I got to talk for a minute with Felicia Day about Austin, and learned that her brother lives in Round Rock and plays boardgames, and wondered if he might actually shop at my store.

After that, back down to the floor to catch up with Chris Schweizer, author of the hugely ambitious historical fiction Crogan's graphic novels. It's about a family tree of adventurers, running from the early days of piracy and up into the modern age, with stops at '60s spy and French Legionnaire. The first book, a pirate book called Crogan's Vengeance, is out from Oni now, and if you're stopping by to pick up Damned, you should probably go ahead and pick that one up to. I looked at the pages Chris had for the next Crogan's book, which are terrific, and talked to him about possibly coming out for STAPLE! (the small press show in Austin) for next year.

I wandered into Ballroom 20 at about 11:15, thinking I'd get an early jump on the Entertainment Weekly and Burn Notice panels. I actually walked right in, but then realized that the panels didn't start until 1:15, which was way too long to sit in one room, and I went back out to grab lunch of clam chowder at Ralph's. Headed back to the convention center, was able to get back in and get pretty decent seats for the panels.

The Entertainment Weeky panel was Wonder Women, about women in pop-culture, and it featured Zoe Saldana, Eliza Dushku, Sigourney Weaver and Elizabeth Mitchell. Oddly, the person who was least responsible for me being there (Saldana) turned out to be one of my favorite parts of the panel, as she gave honest, smart, funny answers about women in Hollywood. It was also a joy to see Sigourney Weaver, and I was shocked to learn that she's turning sixty soon, because frankly, folks, the woman is gorgeous. As is Elizabeth Mitchell, actually. The panel's moderator seemed a little shaky and nervous (I can't entirely blame him, I'd be more than a little starstruck too) but the conversation was pretty good and it was a solid panel.

Burn Notice, however, was a great panel, one of my favorites ever in San Diego. Bruce Campbell just owned the room, you can read all about it on the Twitter feeds of @HitFixDaniel, @Moryan and @BurnNotice. Everyone was great, with Matt Nix earning that "I will follow you to whatever show you're on" thing from me. The "Spy Tips for San Diego" were fun opening video bits, too. And there were free T-Shirts! A bit garish, yellow shirts with Michael Weston's face giant and orange on the front, but still cool for Burn Notice fans like myself.

I wandered the hall for a bit after that, stopping to talk with Kazu Kibuishi, who is crazy prolific. In addition to more Flight and Flight Explorer, he's got volume two of Amulet hitting very soon (I saw a hardcover and it's beautiful), a collection of his webcomic Copper (he had a proof of that, and it's nice as well) and plenty more.

Dinner plans were with Thom Zahler, of Love and Capes. I'd tell you all about Thom and why you should buy Love & Capes, but I'll let Whitney Matheson do that instead. Anyway, Thom's a friend from a ways back, and together with Bill Williams, Paul Storrie and a couple other folks whose names I've blanked but who were spending their honeymoon at the Con, we headed out to try a Mexican restaurant called La Puerta.

While we were waiting for a table, I got a call from Josh Elder (Mail Order Ninja, Starcraft, Batman Strikes) to join us. Which is when Josh learned the all-important lesson that most of my friends learn at one point or another: Never follow directions from me without double-checking. I told him we were at Sixth and Market (it was Fourth and Market). Eventually, through the magic of cellphones, he caught up with us, and joined us for dinner. La Puerta was OK, but I think tex-mex has spoiled me in terms of enjoying California mexican food. The restaurant did have a power outlet right near the table, which let me refill my dead iPod, which had died far earlier in the Burn Notice panel than I would have liked.

I took the shuttle bus back to the hotel. There were some exceptionally annoying older know-it-all types giving a running commentary on everything on the way back, snarking on various things they saw, with the bus driver chatting it up with them, and by the time they got off, I was wanting to take an ice pick to them, or possibly my own ears to keep from having to hear any more of it.

However, the ride back to the Hyatt after a quick change of clothes, with the same tour bus driver, provided some small revenge. A couple of guys were on the bus talking and causally dropping F bombs, and every time they did, the bus driver would protest with "Hey!" They didn't hear her, but I did, and I found the idea that a bus driver was so offended by bad language that she had an almost Pavlovian response every time the word "fuck" was uttered very funny.

At the Hyatt bar/Boom! Studios party, I chatted with a ton of people, mostly Austin friends like Chris Cox, Martin Thomas, Paul Benjamin and Bill Williams but also Thom Zahler and Bob Ingersoll and Chip Mosher. I also got to meet Roger Langridge, say a brief hi to Jann Robinson, meet Chris Roberson (whose I, Zombie book from Vertigo with Mike Allred on art is getting early buzz) and also meet Mark Sable (of Unthinkable). And my buddy Joe D., who I worked with on Psycomic so long ago and who now is wheeling and dealing some Hollywood work, was there and I got to chat with him for what hopefully won't be the last time during the show.

About 1:30, mildly buzzed on Absolut Vanilla and Coke, I wandered back to the shuttle, got back to the hotel and fell into bed at about 2 AM. I was asleep practically before my head hit the pillow.

Now: Quick breakfast muffin or something and on to day three!