Friday, April 30, 2010

Free Comic Book Day

In case you didn't know or forgot, tomorrow is Free Comic Book Day. Details can be found here. I'll be dropping by my local shops to see what's going on. I'll be honest, I'm hoping to grab two free books in particular (the Mouse Guard one and the Stuff of Legend one) and since I feel bad just grabbing the books for free I'll probably find a graphic novel or two to buy. I feel a little mixed on grabbing the free comics. I know it's mostly to get new readers in to the stores and buying these books but I really want to read those two in particular.

There are three participating stores that I can get to with some ease (one is very easy, the other two are a bit of a trek) and I'm generally disappointed with two of them when it comes to Free Comic Book Day. Perhaps I just see what some stores do online with people coming in to sign or draw sketches and I should just be happy these stores are taking part but on the other hand I just get disappointed that they aren't really putting much effort in to getting more people into their stores.

The first is very close by and in a mall. I don't really get along with the owner so perhaps I'm biased but in the past he has limited his orders to the gold books for the most part but does order quite a few. He puts the comics on the counter inside his store and sometimes puts up the small sign in his window amongst all the sports memorabilia put up there. He then grumbles that he has so many left over. He's in a freakin' mall in a pretty high traffic area. Put the comics out front or at least the advertising of it in a prominent area where kids and parents can't miss it. He also has a lot of space out front of his store (in the mall) where he could be doing so much. People in costumes or something to advertise it. But comics don't seem to be a concern for him, they're his steady income but most of his store is sports memorabilia now.

The second is the store I normally shop at. It's out of my way but at least it's a comic store, as opposed to the first. They don't do very much either. Though maybe that's not fair. They'll have more prominent posters in their windows, they'll order more variety than the first store, and they'll usually put some of their toys and graphic novels on sale. But it doesn't really feel like an overly friendly or exciting place to go to. I find they rely on their core customers.

The third goes the extra mile. To start, I've been hearing advertisements on the radio for their two locations. They'll have people in costume like the Star Wars guys, maybe a couple other models in Supergirl/Wonder Woman costumes, and their staff usually dress up. And they have plenty of staff on hand which is nice. Their store is actually more open with space for these people to hang out and get pictures with the kids. The odd time they've had people (comic writers or B-movie directors) come in. I've also seen sales on their stuff for the day. It's open, it's friendly, and there's some excitement about shopping there. The only thing I might suggest is having some local comic artists (even if they aren't professional) doing free sketches for the kids or something.

I'll probably drop by all three shops, just to see what's going on this year. But I think the third store will win out again in my opinion even if it does cost them a bit in the short term (giving out more free comics than the others, though perhaps their increase in sales for that day compensates for it, I don't know). I hope more store owners go this route, actually putting the effort out there to attract customers by making comic buying a positive experience.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Weekly Comic Reviews for April 28th, 2010

Before I get in to the reviews I just want to mention a new webcomic coming out by the name of Max Overacts. It's by Caanan who also did Celadore on Zuda comics. I had the pleasure of meeting Caanan in person at last year's Fan Expo Canada and got a great Hulk sketch from him. He's a great guy with a lot of talent and the cartoon is off to a strong start so go check it out.

Now on to the reviews, they'll be short though, I promise.

The Guild #2 -- So we get to see a bit more of how the Knights of Good came together and just where Cyd's real life relationship is going (we know where it's going to end up in the long run but there may be a twist or two on how we get there). Solidly written, good dialogue, nice art that tells the story effectively (in both the game and real world), and an all around good issue.

Hulked Out Heroes #2 (of 2) -- I really shouldn't have picked up this series. I knew I shouldn't but I did. I guess there may be a chuckle or two in there as the world gets re-worked but it's rather pointless. So not a bad book I guess but I just wish the Fall of the Hulks/World War Hulks stuff would go somewhere instead of spinning its wheels on this type of story. If you're looking for some silly Deadpool fun then you might enjoy this, I just regretted buying it as I'm not looking for that.

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Few Links

Scott McCloud recently tweeted about a post on his site with an interesting video discussing Kick Ass. I was initially turned off by the blanket statements of comics being this or that (especially the negative "this and that"'s) but I thought it was also an interesting conversation in the end and I think several people made some good points. Do comics live up to their potential? I'd say no and I'd say no medium ever truly does or there wouldn't ever be any room for growth. And I'd also say if you limit yourself to reading a few popular books and writing off all comics as being like them then you're missing out on so much of the great work that is being done to explore that potential of comics. But I do appreciate people having a real conversation about comics.

The whole thing about "geeks inheriting the Earth" also raises a few issues for me that maybe I'll talk about later.

But I really want to point out the great comic he links to at the bottom and Luke Person's blog. I suspect I'll be spending quite a bit of time in the near future going through his archive of material.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Weekly Comic Reviews for April 21st, 2010

Two books to review this week, Elephantmen #25 and Fall of the Hulks: The Savage She-Hulks #2.

Elephantmen #25 -- I understood that they brought in a lot of artists to celebrate their 25th issue but I was initially a little disappointed that the story was being told with splash pages. With that, it relied heavily on the narration. I think they pulled it off in the end and it was enjoyable but it also felt a little gimmicky, though I was also having flashbacks to the death of Superman so that might be why I'm saying that. It really did work better than I'm probably making it sound but I think if you were looking for the best way to tell this story it wouldn't be like this even if most of it was flashbacks to stuff we've already seen or known. Still a recommended pick up, it may serve well as a starting issue for some readers, and I still recommend this series to everyone.

Fall of the Hulks: The Savage She-Hulks #2 -- I think this issue felt a little stretched out for the story it contained. Perhaps we could have cut one or two of She-Hulk's flashbacks or Lyra's. Or just moved it along instead of having the two of them sitting around for the first half of the book. And when the action started we had a change in artist and I felt the first half was the stronger artistically. Having said that, the issue does move the story along giving us some information to what's going on and what some of the characters may be thinking. So I'm still looking forward to the final issue of this series despite my disappointment with the overall Fall of the Hulks storyline. Not really a highly recommended book for me but a good one nonetheless.

Another Positive I Forgot To Mention

I forgot to point out this video of Tim Gunn discussing Superhero Costumes courtesy of Project Rooftop (which I highly recommend following).

Now For Some Positives:

And since my last post was so negative, here are a few positive things of note (mostly comic). Warning, some of this is very old news but it's stuff I've been meaning to mention.

- Heropotamus, a webcomic by Josh Alves, continues to move along very well.

- Pre-order the print edition of Karl Kerschl's webcomic The Abominable Charles Christopher and get some bonuses. I've already pre-ordered the Master Edition which comes with a sketch. I'm not sure which character I'm hoping for with the sketch. Obviously Charles Christopher makes sense but there are lot of characters I like from this webcomic, the crazy bird for one.

- The deadline for the Harvey Award nominations is tomorrow and Valerie d'Orazio's Memoirs of an Occasional Superheroine is eligible. Not being a comics professional, I can't take part but I do have my favourites.

- Caanan posted some of his character designs for a superhero themed Zuda entry over on his blog. An incredibly talented artist with great character designs, I hope he gets a new ongoing comic soon.

- Stan Lee is coming to Fan Expo Canada, I'm really excited about this and I'm already hoping for an autograph (probably my Hulk Omnibus) and a photo. Yes, I do go for that sort of thing. Not for everyone but come on, it's Stan Lee. Of course I'm also looking forward to mingling with a few artists in artist alley again (though I expect to come out pretty empty handed on the sketches) and taking in a few more of the sketching duels.

- And despite my earlier comments about Montreal, considering the total overhaul of the team last summer they did pull it together enough to make the playoffs so even if they should lose the next game in Washington the season was not a complete bust and they did play hard. So congrats on that.

A Few Pet Peeves

Just wanted to rant for a bit, feel free to ignore. Here's a list of current pet peeves:

- A person starting a webcomic when they have 4 others that just stopped updating suddenly. I know some webcomic creators have to stop when paying jobs come up or what not but if you're starting a webcomic and you already have a bunch that you've already started with no resolution don't expect me to want to read this one because I'm not going to want to read something that's probably not going to finish when you lose interest in it. And if you are looking for a job, it's not a good sign if you can't see things through and at least give your story a proper ending instead of just giving up.

- Constantly asking for people to "retweet" on twitter. Seriously, most people on Twitter know how it works or learn rather quickly. You don't need to add "Please RT" to every one of your messages. Fine, if you are really trying to promote something (your webcomic, some charity thing, an amber alert, whatever) then maybe once in a while ask for a bit of help promoting it but if you say something to me and then add a "please RT" then you're just trying to boost your own friggin' ego hoping for more followers or whatever so please stop. And if it's part of everyone one of your messages then I'm just going to ignore you. Come to think of it, I have a few Twitter issues, perhaps I should make that a post on its own.

- Spammers. This one speaks for itself.

- People on the bus who refuse to move back to make room for more people getting on. If you're getting off at the next stop I can understand wanting to stay close to a door but try to allow others to get by. And if you aren't getting off soon then MOVE BACK!

- The Montreal Canadiens. You really have to make some changes for next year because the team you've got just ain't working. No size up front, inconsistent play, stupid penalties, turtling and then falling apart for the last 10 minutes, etc, etc. It's getting old. As a Habs fan I ask that you please fix this ASAP.

- Maple Leaf fans who gloat about Montreal losing in the first round of the playoffs. So where are the Leafs? Oh but they'll get a good first round pick right? Oh yeah, you traded that away already. And those who now deny being Leafs fans are worse, pick a team and stick with it.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Weekly Comic Reviews for April 16th, 2010

Only one review this week and it'll be a short one.

Hulked Out Heroes #1 (of 2) -- I should not have picked this book up and I knew it. I really did try to keep an open mind and there's nothing really badly done about this book, it's just that I have no interest in the story or the characters. I had hope that something in here would make me feel better about the World War Hulks but there really wasn't. I understand why some people are enjoying it, but it's just not for me. So with that, I think it would be unfair for me to really go in to any more detail.

And for the time being I'll be moderating comments to this blog. I really hate spammers and I don't want their posts making it on here. Though the spam software yesterday was hitting some very old posts that nobody would actually be looking at anyways. :)

Thursday, April 15, 2010


Due to a recent spamming of this blog I've changed the commenting settings temporarily.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Some quick iPhone thoughts

A couple weeks back I decided to enter in to the new age and get an iPhone. I figured that the monthly rate wasn't much more than what I was paying for my cell phone which didn't have any of the bells and whistles (didn't even have a camera or adjustable sound levels, yes, it was a piece of crap). So what was the first thing I did? Searched for games. But after that, it was comic time. I decided to try out two apps, the Marvel app and Comixology. Yeah, pretty much the same thing I know. But different content. And yes I realize that with the iPad out (in the US at least) I'm already behind in the tech.

I had read through some of Darkness/Pitt #1 on a friend's iPhone a while back. This time I went with Spider-Man #546 on the Marvel app and Box13 (all the chapters) on the Comixology one. I won't go in to a review of them, this is just about the reading experience for me.

Overall I found that they really tried to make the reading experience as good as they could and it was okay. But with the Spider-Man issue and especially the Darkness/Pitt (which had so much detail from Dale Keown in such large panels) I felt the experience just wasn't as good. It was clear that the book was meant to be read as a full page and I don't think anything the iPhone can do could make up for that. I don't think I'd mind reading a few books like this but for the books I really want to experience in all their wonder (Fables, Elephantmen, Invincible, etc) I just can't see myself reading them this way. Box13 on the other hand was made with the iPhone in mind (as far as I know at least) so the panels fit nicer, you didn't have to turn the iPhone back and forth (vertical/horizontal) as often (I know some readers don't mind, I think anything that takes me out of the reading experience is not good), and as it went on it seemed it started to take more and more advantage of being on the iPhone.

So for me, I can take reading some originally print comics (ie. comics that were made for print and then transferred to the iPhone) on the iPhone, where I just want to see what happens basically. But comics made specifically for the iPhone I find easier to read on the device. But here's the thing, does anyone really care? A lot of people seem to have already made up their minds that they want their comics on the iPhone and discount any difference in reading them on their as compared to the print versions (and for some people this is quite likely true, I have learned over and over again that I often have a far too critical eye when I'm reading a comic). Other have already decided that print is the only option for them. And really, who am I to try to convince them otherwise. They like what they like.

Now a lot of the issues I have with reading comics on the iPhone can be fixed by going to an iPad but you still have some differences between print/digital. I can't remember who tweeted it but one comic writer mentioned the iPad helping those writers who couldn't time their big reveals to even page numbers. So friends have been assuming I'll be going with an iPad. The truth is I won't. At least that's the plan. Currently my life is mostly sitting at work (with several computers including a laptop) or sitting at home (most often with my laptop and cintiq with my TV on) or on the bus (with my iPhone). I recognize that for some people there's a gap between their laptop and cell/smart phones but for me, I just don't see it at the moment. And so I just can't justify spending the money on something I'll use only occasionally to read comics. That's not to discount the iPad, I think it's a great step forward and I'm somewhat jealous of those who have one or will be getting it. I just don't see myself owning one.

Anyway, that's just some ramblings I wanted to get out of my head. There's more but I doubt very many people have read this far. :) And yeah, I am still wondering if Longbox Digital or something else can fill some of my comic reading via the laptop instead of the iPhone. But reading comics on the iPhone did seem a little nicer than when I've read on my laptop.

And as a warning, with my weekly comics purchasing at such a low I'll probably be posting more of these ramblings from time to time.

Weekly Comic Reviews for April 7th, 2010 -- SPOILERS

Two reviews this week and be warned, I did not like either of them, at all...

World War Hulks #1 (of 1) -- I knew going in to this book that it wouldn't feature Banner or the Hulk or even the Red Hulk (who I hate so I don't know if that would have been better) so I was a little reluctant to pick it up to begin with. I should have skipped it. It felt like a weak book that didn't really build up the story going in to World War Hulks. I didn't feel like it progressed any of the stories (other than maybe the Dead/Hulk-pool one) or gave me any useful information on the characters. The Red She-Hulk one seemed especially annoying as it's hard to feel for a character you don't even know. Die hard Hulk fans (of which I used to be) may get something out of it but I'd say skip it.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer #34 -- The much talked about issue due to the somewhat graphic content. The Buffy/Angel stuff felt like softcore fanfic and the conversation between Giles et al just felt non-Buffy-ish. I can't believe that between Angel, Giles, and Willow they've spread this babbling on for what, an issue and a half now? And for what reason? Giles has a history of rambling a bit but normally we get Xander or Willow there to break it down moments later. This feels like the characters are just dragging it out to torture the reader (or give people looking for the Buffy/Angel hookup more time). Personally, I was really disappointed with this issue and feel the story really isn't coming together yet. I still hope it does but I'm not as optimistic as I was. And it's too bad as I felt Meltzer had a better start than some of the other writers who've worked on this series.

So yeah, a rather disappointing week for me. Perhaps I should have picked up the SHIELD book or the Thor and the Warriors Four, both of which I've heard good things about. I know the SHIELD book was sold out at my comic store, not sure about the Thor book but I didn't notice it.

Monday, April 05, 2010

More reviews -- Planetary

So I finished reading Planetary (re-reading volumes 1 through 3 and then reading volume 4). I have to say to start that it's a beautiful series to read. The entire art team starting with Cassaday really does a great job. The writing is a bit mixed for me. Some parts of the story I love, other parts don't necessarily do it for me. But really, that's to be expected. On the one hand, there was some really interested parts to it but on the other, I'm not always a big fan of this sort of story where so much is based on other comic characters and stories. I find I get distracted looking to see who each of the characters or stories are different versions of, whether it's the FF, the Hulk, Galactus, or whoever else, and I get taken out of the story. This happened with this series for me, possibly less so on the second reading though. I think it's a series I may recommend to some but I wasn't really blown away by it (other than some really spectacular artwork at times).

Friday, April 02, 2010

Weekly Comic Reviews for March 31st, 2010

Yet again, only one book to review this week. Despite my dislike of one-shots I decided to pick up the She-Hulk Sensational after seeing that it had a story featuring Stan Lee written by Peter David. Sooo....

She-Hulk Sensational #1 (of 1) -- The first story (the above mentioned Peter David portion) was just fun. You had the classic breaking of the fourth wall, special appearances by Spidey and Dan Slott, and artwork that I felt fit the mood of the story. Peter David can tell a fun story and it works here. The second story felt a little more like filler. It wasn't really an anniversary story so much and felt a little awkward right from the point where they had to tell you where the story fit in relation to Secret Invasion. But having said that, it wasn't a bad story and it was well done. And besides, we already had Peter David's "anniversary story", did we need another one? I guess not. Then there was a John Byrne issue that to be honest, I haven't read yet. I didn't read the series back then and I'm not sure I'm interested in a single issue plucked out of it (though I'm hoping this is a stand alone issue). Overall, it was an enjoyable issue especially given my usual dislike for the one-shots. Not overwhelmingly good but I think fans of She-Hulk will enjoy it.

I picked up volume 4 of Planetary as well but I think I'll go back to re-read the first three volumes before reading it. Hopefully I get some time over the weekend to do that.

Happy Easter everyone!