Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Marvel Specialty Comics

If you have never heard of or seen Marvel Specialty comics, then you are truly missing some very cool stuff. You see, Over the years Marvel has produced numerous volumes of these specialty comics that have partnered the publisher with various pro-social groups and corporations utilizing the various Marvel characters to promote specific causes or products. Everything from Toy Fair, to Home Depot, to the U.S. Military, to Prevent Child Abuse America. Generally speaking these are all fun books.

Personally, I have quite a few of these books in my own collection. Which is why I was excited to find this particular comic, Spider-Man Battles The Myth Monster, for sale on ebay. What shocked me was the price attached to it ($40.00). Sure, I wanted to purchase the comic, but that price seemed to me to be a tad steep. So I decided to do a Google search for the title and came up with it for sale on Amazon for just $9.99. Cool, I thought, 10 bucks is way better than 40. then I found this link, to the Epilepsy Foundation which is selling the very same comic for a mere three bucks with no shipping (or you could buy a bundle of 50 for $73.00)

Can you guess what I did next? I thought you could. (I’ll add a link to my review of the comic on SpiderFan as soon as I get and read the comic then write and post the review.)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Matt Ryan Rules! So too does Mark Mazz, but we’ll get there in a minute.

This past weekend, my good buddy and collaborator on Wülf Girlz, Matt Ryan handed me what was easily the coolest piece of comicbook art that I’ve ever received. Yep, cooler than than the Stan Goldberg con sketch of Jughead, cooler than the con sketch I have of Betty Anderson. Hey it is even cooler than the page of original art by John Constanza from my first published comic strip — which John drew.

(OK, OK, it still takes second place to the Gwen Stacey illustration that was drawn for me by John Romita, Sr. back when I was 17 or 18, but it is a close second.)

Matt, as I’ve said, illustrates Wülf Girlz, and does a beautiful job doing it, I might add. Well, Mark (another good buddy of mine as well as the creative director of Guild Works Productions) commissioned a piece of delightful art from Matt knowing that I would not only instantly love the art, but be inspired by it as well. (Today I penned a pair of story pitches to the Marvel Adventure line.)

Sure enough, I was both. and I’d love to show you that art now:



Is this the coolest picture or what?

Truthfully, I only have one small problem with it. I just can’t remember who that girl in the picture is with Spidey...

It’s My party, and I’ll have Spidey entertain me if I want to!

I simply couldn’t resist posting this bit of Spidey silliness.

Then to follow it up, there is always this:

Monday, January 28, 2008

It is another Brand New Day (all over again)

Yep, I had my say (a couple or three times) about this (here and elsewhere) but, as you can expect, I’m no where near done yet. (Hey if I have to suffer through 18 months of this crap, you are going to have to suffer through 18 months of my haranguing Marvel over it!)

Well, the point is that I just finished reading the first three-part story arc and well, I will say this one positive thing, Marvel did manage to get three issues out in three weeks (no small feat as it hasn’t been able to get one Spidey issue out every four weeks for several months prior to this, something that shouldn't have been that hard, as there were three or four titles which should have been scheduled to hit on consecutive weeks, but never quite managed to do so — there would be several weeks of no Spidey comics, and one week were all of them came in at once!)

Anyways, I read the first story arc and while Dan Slott is a very talented writer,and Spidey is a very engaging character he has been handed a bill of goods and while he is struggling mightily to do the best he can, is still reads like crap (sorry Dan, I still love ya, but the starting premise is dreck and you can dress dreck up all you want, but it is still dreck).

I suppose that what I truly object to second most (the BND premise takes the top slot) is that this first story revolves around another tablet with ancient Egyptian writing on it. Anyone who knows me knows that the first tablet storyline (which ran in Amazing Spider-Man #s68–75) is easily my favorite storyline ever in the series. Still, even that couldn’t salvage this story.

Of course part of the problem with using this (backwards) link, is that it gives the story yet another “been there, done that” feel to the action. (Then, of course the trio of “kissing” splash pages that kick-started each issue.)

Still, taking all of that into consideration, I wanted to present to you a pair of very witty snipes taken at Marvel Editorial (Joe Q) by some very talented people. First up is this image to my left which was done by my good budy and fellow SpiderFaner and CAGer Chris B. The second one (and I may have already posted this link once before) was posted on David Willis’ Shortpacked. Both take turns at essentially the same gag, but it works well in both. (And I did link to Shortpacked before it is most assuredly worth linking again.)

Enjoy (Oh, Chris’s image is going with an article that he is penning for another website, when that rant goes live, I'll add that link in as well, because I read his pre-posted rant, and he definitely knocks it out of the park. Way to go Chris!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Bigger and Bigger!

I want to take some time to talk about my good buddy Matt Ryan. Matt drew my story, Never Judge a Book... which appeared in Psychosis! #1 (Published by Guild Works Productions). He has also drawn the follow-up to that story (How Deep the Wood, slated to appear in Psychosis! #3). I really like Matt’s style, he has this cartoony flavor to his art that makes it truly unique. When I first saw it on my story, I wasn’t sure that it was right for the story. However, after reading the story a second and third time, I came to realize that our creative director, Mark Mazz actually knew what he was doing by matching Matt and I up together. Yep, I really came to love Matt’s work on my characters, and have come to view him as a full contributor of this project.

I’m telling you all of this because I want top talk about another of Matt’s projects. He is the writer/artist on a very funny (very screwball, very unusual) series entitled Bigger. Bigger is the story of a teenager named Willie Rison who has something of a big problem. You see, whenever young Willie he gets, well “excited” it isn’t just his, ah, manhood that grows, it is all of him. Seriously

Hey, you can’t make this stuff up, I’m telling you what is going on in the comic; and remember, this isn’t my comic, it’s Matt’s). Anyways, what happens to Willie, is that he grows into a giant. Throughout the course of the comic, Willie must learn to cope with his (ahem) “growing” problem. On top of this, he has to focus on his school work, not to mention he has to save his burgeoning relationship with his best friend (now his girlfriend), Weez.

Matt has been producing Bigger for some 10 years, and has produced numerous comics as well as a few digest-sized versions of these oddball characters. I highly recommend this comic, it is very funny and entertaining as well. So I highly recommend that you all pop over to Free Lunch Comics, and pick up as many copies of this very funny book as you can carry home.

Oh, you can read more about Matt and his crew over here.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

A Writer Writes

This is a lesson I learned many years ago. I have re-learned it many times through the years. A writer writes, that is what he does, that is who he is. If I do not write, I die. Over the past year I have been devoting more and more of my time to my writing. Making a concerted effort to not only write more, but write more often. Hence not only have I increased my magazine and online writing but I’ve increased my fiction writing as well.

I would now like to talk to you all about a couple of my up-coming projects. Over the past year I have been very busy and have written a number of short stories some of which have been illustrated and are coming to fruition. In the next month or two a couple of my short stories are coming into print (and, hopefully, a few more after that — more on that as it happens)

Seeing as we are about halfway through Jan. by now, I wanted to let you all know that coming up in Feb. There will be a couple more of my comicbook stories coming out in print. That’s right, the third issue of the Guild Works Productions illustrated horror anthology, Psychosis! as well as the seventh issue of the Comicbook Artists Guild anthology CAG #7. My story in Psychosis! #3 is both a follow-up as well as a prequel to my story from issue #1 Never Judge a book....

Springload and RenegadeMy story in CAG #7 is in a completely different vein as it explores some older precepts that I had developed some 20 years ago with my Renegade Press comic, Agent Unknown. This series is an action/adventure storyline set in the world of espionage and counter intelligence. The characters in the current storyline are new, but they live in the same world as my previous heroes.

Agent UnknownIt is my intention to resurrect these older characters, and to try to build on what went before, and (finally, hopefully) move the series forward; Oh, and, interestingly enough, the artist on that original series Dell Barris, contacted me out of the blue last month to check in on me. I hadn’t heard from Del since the original series abruptly ended. As it turned out, Dell wants to work together again, and is interested in helping out on the relaunch of Agent Unknown. Further, he has invited me to join him on some of his projects as well.

There’s more, but this is the stuff that I can talk about now. More as it happens.

The Perfessor

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

>Brand New Day, an Update of sorts

In light of the comments I’ve made about this topic, both here, over at Cuppacafe (my “other” blogspace), PopThought and on Newsweek.com I want to weigh back in with not only some personal observations, but what some of my fellow Spiderophiles feel on the subject.

No, I haven’t changed my mind on the topic, even after having read Amazing Spider-Man #546 (unavoidable aside; if that last link doesn’t work it is only because the ASM reviewer for SpiderFan hasn’t posted it by the time I’ve posted this. Swing back in a day or two and it should work just fine by then.) Truth is I’ve finally forced myself to actually read the issue (and yes, I do mean forced — it sat on my desk for a couple of days as I pointedly ignored it, then it was everything I could to to sit still through reading all the words. Painful doesn’t begin to describe the tension and anxieties I felt during the read.

No, I’m not kidding. I felt that everything that I read during the past two decades become unraveled as I read. It hurt. Spider-Man is no longer being written by fans, he has become a corporate entity being controlled by a faceless, soulless corporate entity who cares not one whit for the character but only for the bottom line. (Hell’s Bells, I’m almost surprised that they didn’t turn him into an African-American, Muslim in the process, I mean, there’s an entire demographic that they are not reaching with depicting Peter Parker as a white male.)

But, (in the words of Peter David) I Digress.

I still haven’t Read Amazing Spider-Man #547 or the Marvel Spotlight One More Day/Brand New Day, but I’ve been chatting with the folks over at SpiderFan, and I’m now willing to go out on this limb:

I think that we are being taken for a ride.

Think about this, (I’m about to go all Spider-Geek/fanboy here, so bear with me for a bit). With the conclusion of One More Day, Marvel canceled the The Sensational Spider-Man, and Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man (the other on-going Spider-Titles) and changed Amazing Spider-Man into a three-times-a-month title. This means that Amazing (currently at issue #547) will reach issue #600 in 18 months, rather than in something like four-and-a-half-years. The reports that I am seeing indicate that this storyline will last 18 months. Anyone starting to see a pattern?

This is what I think. The entirety of Brand New Day is either taking place in the mind of Peter Parker, or Mephisto has moved him to a pocket universe (Think Heroes Reborn)

As stated, Mephisto is to be considered Marvel’s equivalent of Satan, (who has often referred to as “The Prince of Lies”). Hence he is not to be trusted. Further, it has never been demonstrated that Mephisto has the ability to undo time on this level. Quite simply; he does not have this much power. His sole abilities are essentially smoke and mirrors. Hence this is a trick.

Where does that leave us? Well, in limbo so to speak. This storyline will be used to test the waters to see if history can be unmade, and to see how it will reflect in sales. With issue #600 things will revert back to the end of the Civil War, with Spidey shoved back in the main timestream. As to whether or not his marriage to MJ will be restored, or Aunt May will survive, I’m not sure.

I have nothing at all on which to base any of this information save for 45+ years of reading comics in general and Spider-Man in particular. Plus there have been a couple of clues that lead me to believe what I say is true:

*** SPOILER ALERT *** SPOILER ALERT *** SPOILER ALERT *** SPOILER ALERT ***

In Amazing #545 (post Mephisto) we have Pete making the following comment “Well, you know what they say, Harry, speak of the Devil and he appears”(click image to left). This is made at a party where the long-dead (since Spectacular #200, May 1993) shows up after apparently detoxing in Europe instead of being, well, dead). We were told that the only change to continuity was the marriage itself, yet here is Harry Osborn. WTF? Seems like someone is playing fast and loose with the concept of “only.” My feeling that it is either Marvel editorial, or Mephisto, personally, I’m currently leaning towards Mephisto (the afore-mentioned “Prince of Lies”).

Next up, we see Harry respond to this toast with a curious gleam in his eye.



Then, in Amazing #546, in one of the back-up stories, we have Harry making the following comment (see image to right). I have to be honest, this is not the way Harry talks, er, talked. (He’s dead, remember?) Seriously, the Harry I remember was pretty much of a poser and a pansy. He was a mama’s boy being raised by a wealthy, over-bearing, disinterested, megalomaniac father, who was more interested in killing his son’s best friend (Spidey) than in raising his own son (Harry). This Harry is something of a spoiled rich brat than the confused, down-to-earth, drug-addict we all remember.

This is not Harry. This is Mephisto injecting himself into Peter’s delusion, so as to add to Peter’s pain and suffering. (Mephestio, as you may recall, is all about the pain and suffering of others, so this is actually entirely in character for Mephisto.)

*** END OF SPOILER ALERT *** END OF SPOILER ALERT *** END OF SPOILER ALERT *** END OF SPOILER ALERT ***

The only real problem is that I neither trust Marvel to pull this off (The Clone Saga started out just fine — exciting, in fact — then eventually degenerated into a long, overly-drawn-out, mishandled mess) Need more examples? The Other, Sins of our Fathers, That storyline with the Sider Queen, The whole attempt to retcon Spidey’s abilities into a more pseudo-mystical-based abilities? The past several years of Spider-Man have been one discarded storyline after another. No wonder Joe Q. wants so desperately wants to return to the Glory days of Spidey, because no one seems to know what to do with the character.

Needless to say, if editorial could stop mucking around in his life, and let the very talented writers they have hired actually write some interesting stories rather than mandating then abandoning “event” storylines perhaps we’d have some powerful storylines (like The Tablet storyline — a personal favorite of mine). Which brings me back to where I started. I think we are being fed a bill of goods, and all of this is just one more “event” that is designed to waste time and be a big buildup to sell more books. I could be wrong, but I’m not so sure.

The thing of which I am sure, is that Marvel will somehow lose its nerve and screw the entire thing up, and then be forced to scramble around in order to find a way to fix yet another travesty in bad editorial management and direction.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

~~~~~~
I would like to thank my buddy Patrick over at SpiderFan for his invaluable help in hunting down several bits of Spider-Trivia while I was writing this column.

Oh, yeah, I’d also like to include a link to what someone else has to say about this style of what he calls “top down” editing

More Blowback About One More Day

Yeah, Yeah, I’ve ranted on and on about how horrendous the entire One More Day Storyline In Spider-Man is, so I’m guessing that you folk understand that I’ a bit peeved about the whole situation, Well that’s nothing to what these folks are feeling.



That’s right, Spider-Fans are going to YouTube to express their extreme displeasure with what they are being forced fed by Marvel Editorial (and when I say Marvel Editorial, what I mean is Joe Q)



I mean, seriously, these people are clearly upset over what they feel is a huge betrayal by Marvel. To these fans, Spidey isn’t just some two-dimensional, fictional character, he is a part of their lives, and they are clearly mad as Hell, and not going to take it any longer.



One can only wonder what is currently going on in the Marvel offices as this stuff hits the Internet with no sign of let-up.



Amen to that, brother. Amen. Check out more Spidey/anti-One More Day vids.

Monday, January 14, 2008

More on Cloverfield

Hey check out this enhanced vid clip of the Cloverfield monster that we briefly see in the trailer. I know that there have been numerousness illustrations that have claimed to be the Cloverfield monster, but they have apparently either been fan renderings, or flat-out fakes.

At least with this clip, we know it is the actual monster, as it is from the trailer.

Needless to say, I don’t really know what is going on, but — from what I understand — this is JJ Abrams version of The Blair Witch Project meets Godzilla. Who knows, but I plan on seeing it opening night if at all possible.

Cool, eh?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Everything you need to know about the Middle-East

Do you you read Gary Trudeau’s classic, satiric comicstrip Doonesbury? I do, as often as I can, this Sunday it was a repeat, but it is hysterically funny. if you haven’t read, it, you really owe it to yourself to do so as soon as you can.

I’ve copied it to our space, but if you want to go to Trudeau’s site and check it out, you can do that as well.To be sure, I don’t know how long this strip will stay live, but it will remain on our site because, well, I’ve posted it here.

Check it out.

Friday, January 11, 2008

One More Day is a Bad Idea, Executed Badly

I think that this is what irks me the most. Joe Q. keeps saying that he wants to bring Spidey back to what made him great. Well one of the things that made him great was his humanity, and that, ostensibly, he lives in the real world (anyone out there besides me remember Stan’s comments about his heroes living in the “Real” world? Hence New York rather than “Metropolis,” “Gotham City,” et. al.?) Well then, how many people do you know that make a deal with the Devil to annul their marriage? To save the lives of their aunt?

No. This is plain and simple a bad idea, executed badly. So it really doesn’t matter how well any stories that follow it may or may not be written, they are based on a sloppy premise. Any truly talented writer can spin a story out of pretty much anything. Any truly talented writer would have figured out a better way to work this out.

Personally, I really don’t have any major objection to the dissolution of Peter and MJ’s marriage. My problem is to the off-handedly cavalier way it was done. It violets the precepts of who the character is, and one can only assume if Aunt May knew what Peter and MJ did to bring her back,m she would have bitch-slapped the both of them

It’s a Spider-Christmas

I just realized that when I listed my Spidey presents from Christmas, I apparently missed three items. My very cool nephew Tony-o (who loves comics almost as much as his nearly famous uncle) gave me a totally cool heavy, black T-Shirt that is simply covered with a whole passel of Marvel Characters. Interestingly enough, I had actually seen this very same shirt (in apparently the very same store) but didn’t buy it, as, well, I really tend not to wear a lot of T-Shirts.

Needless to say, since Tony-o gave it to me, I’ll certainly wear it — and actually did so, yesterday! A second item that was given to me to Tony-o was an empty Diet Dr. Pepper can emblazoned with the Image of Spidey (The can is a licensing item from the second movie that he happened to come across somewhere).

Which brings up a point. One of these days, I'm going to have to start going through my old Spider-Man stuff and start cataloging it by snapping pics and posting them here on the site.

The third item is (if I’m understanding this correctly) a decorative button that is designed to be used on those goofy-looking, plastic “Crocs” shoes. And no, I don’t own a pair of the shoes, but it is Spidey,and My wife spotted it, so she felt (rightly so) that I’d want it. I do, and now I’m wearing it in a button hole on my shirt. Nifty, eh?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Cloverfield is coming

While this isn't comics, here is a very cool Cloverfield widget that plays five minutes of the film.



Oh, and here is a link that brings you to a wicked-cool image of a monster that has been specifically denied as being the Cloverfield monster (a smaller image appears below).



Nice, eh?

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Oh Yes, it WAS a Spider-Christmas

So the Holidays are (mostly) over and it is time for the post-holiday clean-up (I’m seeing discarded Christmas trees starting to line the streets of my neighborhood) and paydown (and I’m sure those bills are about to arrive in the mail soon). However, in the meantime, let me tell you all about the very cool Spidey stuff that showed up under my tree last month!

UPDATE: As I was scrolling through this post I just realized that I never posted the image of the Hallmark Spidey ornament that I received just prior to Christmas never made it up. So I guess that I’ll just have to get to it in a later post. Stay Tuned!


First up, as you can see, we have a pair of Christmas Tree ornaments. These two never got on the tree this year, but you can be rest assured that next year they will be up there. (That, of course, reminds me that I know that I have a box somewhere with other Spidey ornaments, that I haven’t been able to find in a couple of years. Hopefully I’ll find those too, and get them on the tree as well.)

Next up, we have a complete Spider-Man 3 dinner set, with a plate, bowl, fork and spoon, a freeze mug, a sports-sip cup, and a tumbler. All cool to have if you are, well a Spider-Geek.



The, (because its Christmas) what would the holiday be without candy canes? You heard me right, my wife found me spidey-themed Candy Canes. How cool is that?

Oh, and if you’ve already finished reading your Spider-Man Icon (written by my pal Steve Saffel) then you are going to want to pick up The Marvel Vault by Roy Thomas and Peter Sanderson. I just skimmed it, but it is a very cool tome that — in addition to being another view of th history of the company — it comes with some very cool replicas of Marvel Memorabilia, which is the part that really makes it more than “just another ” Marvel History book.




Oh yeah, then to round out the Spider-Swag, I got a pair of Marvel calenders. One was specific to Spidey, while the other is a Pop-up deal that features many of the classic Marvel heroes. Again, all cool stuff.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Protest One More Day Now...Avoid the Rush!

Well boys and girls, I hope you all had a happy year-end festivities (It is Festivus for the Restofus!) I know I did. Spent the last six or so weeks of the year working on a big project for a brand-spankin’ new client of mine (racking up a ton of hours sos I can pay for my own little shindig)

Well, all of that aside. I have a new rant that I want to lay down on you all, and as you can see, it is about the latest crap being foisted on us by Marvel in the absence of any real story content. Yes, I mean One More Day. As you all know, this is a retcon (or retroactive continuity implant) that is being gengeneered by Marvel, or — more specifically — by Joe Quesada who has long held that Peter Parker’s marriage to Mary Jane Watson was a mistake.

All of which is fine, but instead of simply having the two of them break up, separate, or get divorced (some of these storylines have already been explored in the series), he had Mephisto — Marvel’s literary substitute for Satan — neither of which are Spidey villains) pop in to “trade Peter’s marriage” for the life of May Parker. That’s right, he had Peter cut a Faustian deal with the Devil.

OK, let’s ignore for a minute that utilizing Mephisto as a (if you’ll pardon the expression) Deus ex Machina to “fix” a problem that only Joe Q seems to have is a not only a huge conceit on Quasada’s part, but something that comes out of nowhere for the character and fans (especially the utilization of a non-cannon character to manipulate the events). Let us also ignore that cutting a deal with “the Prince of Lies” is, well, stupid beyond belief.

Yeah, yeah, I know that Peter was desperate because the bullet that put May in a coma was meant for him, and yea, it was because he (wrongly) sided with Tony Stark during the Civil War Event, and then stupidly revealed his identity to the world before switching sides and taking up with Captain America. (All of which was manipulated, but again let’s ignore all of that.) Let’s talk about the fact that this ending (the use of Mephisto) was considered and then dismissed as unbelievable as a possible ending for The Clone Saga.



*** SPOILER WARNING *** SPOILER WARNING *** SPOILER WARNING *** SPOILER WARNING ***

Joe Q. has stated that the only thing that The Mephisto Deal has effected is the actual marriage of Pete and MJ. He has indicated that they have spent the past several years together as live-in lovers, but never actually got married, OK, that’s all well and good, but then why, at the end of Amazing Spider-Man #545 did the long dead Harry Osborne show up? Does this mean he never died? Did he ever marry and have little Normie? Are there any other inconsistencies in previously-established Spider-continuity? At this point, we don’t know.

*** END OF SPOILER WARNING *** END OF SPOILER WARNING *** END OF SPOILER WARNING *** END OF SPOILER WARNING ***

What we do know is that this is a seminal and earth-shaking an event as the death of Gwen Stacy The one important difference is that the Death of Gwen moved the series forward, this moves it backwards, and we are all the poorer because of it.

My suggestion is that you read the book and make your own decision and write to Joe and Marvel (as well as post on whatever blogs and board to which you regularly post) and let them know what you think.

If you haven’t as of yet patched into what I think, here it is. I think that One More Day is a bone-headed, badly conceived, poorly-executed, sloppily written act of self-indulgent, intellectual masturbation that disrespects us fans, the pros who have been writing Spider-Man for the past couple or three decades, and is the ultimate form of cop-out that loudly proclaims to the world that not only has Marvel run out of ideas, but that it’s writers and editors really can’t write themselves out of a paper bag.

It is a really bad idea that is so bad it really isn’t an idea as much as it is the admission that no one has an Idea, and anyone that actually does, simply isn’t to be tolerated, and will be asked to leave the room.

This entire dirty episode is such a reflection of what is going on culturally and politically in this country that it is an effin shame. Still, that topic is the subject of an entirely separate rant. For now I’m done, and will move on to other topics for a bit.

I thank you all for your indulgence, and respectfully ask that you leave comments expressing your own views, observations, and concerns. Personally, I’m going to have a strong drink, shake the dust off my dry bones, and hope I live long enough to see this contemptible mockery be put to rest and Spider-Man be reverted to his former glory.



UPDATE *** EXTRA! EXTRA! READ ALL ABOUT IT! *** UPDATE

This just in, I’ve been quoted by Newsweek on this storyline. Yes, you read that right, Newsweek!

How Wicked-Cool is that, eh?
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