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Flippin’ through Previews – August 2014

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Oh, you know it’s a good time when Previews #311 shows up. Mostly because then I can reference this! Straight from 1995 to your earhole!!!!
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Year of the Artist, Day 213: J. G. Jones, Part 2 – Shi: The Series #2

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Every day this year, I will be examining the artwork on a single comic book story. Today’s artist is J. G. Jones, and the issue is Shi: The Series #2, which was published by Crusade Comics and is cover dated September 1997. Enjoy!
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Out From Under the Covers: A Desperate Quest to Be Current, Part Three

It always happens this way.  I go weeks, sometimes a month without reading a single comic book.  And then something snaps me out of it (usually it’s an unexpected day off from work) and I grab up a copy of—well, this time it was She-Hulk.  And I read five issues in a row, and then I move onto Hawkeye where I read four issues, and then I’m like good God, what have I been wasting my time on instead of reading these beautiful, beautiful things?

In a (long ago) previous post, I confessed that one thing to know about me is that I’m tragically behind on my comics reading.  But now I must reveal another important tidbit, which is that I’m one of those pathetic, deplorable creatures known as commuters.  The great thing about having to endure two very long commutes via train every day is that you get a lot of reading done … right?  I bet you would think that.  Ha ha.

In the past month of train rides to and from the day job—that’s twice a day, five days a week—I have read exactly … three comics.  A number that I think is actually up from the previous month.

Why so few?  Myriad reasons, but let me just give you the top few.

First, you can completely discount the morning ride in each day—it may as well not exist, because it’s really not “reading time” so much as it is “pass out and drool onto your own shoulder” time.  We’re talking six thirty a.m. here.  (“There’s a 6:30 in the morning now?”)

So that’s half of my commute gone.  The second opportunity—my way home each night—is a rush hour train.

A rush hour train out of Boston.

A rush hour train out of Boston that is FRIGGING JAM PACKED.  Also, frequently quite smelly.

Now imagine having to board this FJP train at a stop where it is already insanely full—usually beyond any level that could conceivably be deemed safe—by the time it reaches you.  Imagine being stuck without a seat.  Or, better, imagine getting a seat that is inevitably wedged between two other people, who are very large.  I say very large because, in comparison to my small stature and unless we’re talking about toddler passengers, everyone is always going to be bigger than me (I’m a short one, as everyone likes to remind me, constantly and forever, incase I’m somehow unaware).  Thus my fellow commuters are always taking up more space, leaving me just the smallest sliver of seat cushion and area in which I might be able to actually … I don’t know … expand my diaphragm enough to breathe.  (Although, in the summer when it’s 90 degrees and the air condition isn’t working—which is more often than not—and everyone is sweating profusely, it’s sometimes better to try NOT to breathe.)

That’s the scenario.  Imagine trying to pull out and read a floppy comic like that.

Okay.  Let’s say I make it to this part of my day, and things are looking better than normal.  Maybe it’s a Friday before a holiday weekend, and most people have left early, so my train isn’t as horrifying as it usually is.  Maybe I even have a seat all to myself!  There’s SPACE around me!  I can move and swing out my elbows comfortably and actually hold a book!  I’m a commuting champion!

Except that, to even get to this stage, I’ve first had to find a method to package my wares in such a way as to make them safe for the rigors of daily travel.  That acid-free bag with backing board and the manilla folder I had my comic all filed and tucked away in?  Yeah, not gonna cut it.  I learned things the hard way after returning home one night with my Fables trade paperback all turned up in the corners, spine partially wrinkled, and I went to sleep that night crying tears of shame and regret.  It’s a trade! I’d thought.  It’ll be fine!

Thankfully, after scouring my LCS for a solution, I found one of these bad boys in a copy of Previews and ordered one online.  Are you aware that these exist?  I wasn’t.  It was perfect.

Or so I thought.  I believe the binder lasted about two weeks in my bag before it cracked and unhinged.  I chalked it up to a fluke, and ordered a second … which has thus far lasted through a year of use along with a trip to Boston Comic Con.

Okay.  So, our storage/transportation problem is mostly resolved, but what of the actual physical act of reading on a train?  Aside from the aforementioned discomfort of the packed ride, there’s another unfortunate matter to contend with:  lighting.

Those glossy pages?  Not so easy to read in the harsh fluorescent lighting of the commuter rail.  You’re basically stuck with this:

Page Glare

Can you make out Kamala Khan somewhere in here?
“Too bad,” indeed.

Hence I have all but given up in my attempts to read in this situation.

Now, I can guess what you’re thinking.  Comixology is my friend, right?  Why am I not downloading comics and reading them digitally?  Who doesn’t own a tablet these days?

That’d be … me.  I do not own a tablet, nor do I desire to own one, because:

1.)  There is nothing a tablet can do for me that my iPhone doesn’t already do.
2.)  I don’t want to buy a tablet JUST for the sake of reading comics, and
3.)  I don’t enjoy reading comics digitally.  Husband says I am a luddite.

Digital comics are really a whole other topic for a whole other blog post, but that’s the quick explanation of my aversion.

Ultimately I have come up with a couple of work-arounds.

One is that I have only been carrying collected editions or OGNs—most recently, Becky Cloonan’s By Chance or Providence.  This was especially great because the pages aren’t glossy, so I didn’t have to contend with glare at all, and the book is fairly light and easy to carry.  I kept my bag mostly empty that day so as not to damage its lovely exterior.

Since I still do the majority of my collecting in floppy single-issue format, when I want to dive into my giant stack of backlog, the best solution I’ve found is to bring them with me in the aforementioned binder and, rather than read them on the train, I’ve been using my lunch breaks at work as reading time.  I used to avoid doing this—since I work on a computer all day, I typically like using my break to get out of the office and give my eyes a rest—but I’m finding lately that on especially stressful days, it’s a huge help to just escape into a comic.  And if I read, say, five comics every day during my one-hour break, that’s twenty a week … times four weeks is a hundred a month.

So I should be caught up in no time, right?

… Right?




My fellow commuters, do you read comics on your daily journeys? Anyone else experience their own awkward challenges during travel, and have you found solutions that work for you? Sound off in the comments!



Comic Book Legends Revealed #482

Welcome to the four hundred and eighty-second in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous four hundred and eighty-one. This week, why did Todd McFarlane leave Marvel Comics? What strange way was the Blondie comic strip launched? And did War Games really end with Leslie Thompkins letting Stephanie Brown die to prove a point to Batman?

Let’s begin!

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The Line it is Drawn #200 – Brand-New Super Teams!

Welcome to our weekly gallery of amazing art by our great collection of artistic talent, all working from YOUR suggestions!

Go follow Comics Should Be Good on Twitter (if you have Twitter, that is – if you don’t, you can go sign up). Here is our Twitter page… http://twitter.com/csbg. And here are the Comics Should Be Good writers who are on Twitter (the links go to the person’s Twitter account) – myself, Greg Hatcher, Chad Nevett, Kelly Thompson, Bill Reed, Greg Burgas, Sonia Harris, Melissa K. and Ken H.

I update the blog’s Twitter account updates whenever a new post is put up on the blog, so it’s an easy way to keep up with the blog. In addition, I post new content on the blog’s Twitter account.

Now on to the bit!

So every week, I ask a question here. You reply to it on our Twitter page (just write @csbg with your reply) and our blog sketch artists will each pick one of your suggestions and I will post them here every week. So every week you will have a new question and you will see the choices picked from the previous week. Here is an archive of all the previous editions of The Line It Is Drawn!

To qualify, you have to be following us when you reply – so go follow us and then give your answer to the following question/challenge (All suggestions due by 3pm Pacific Friday).

The topic is…

After such a complicated week, we’re going back to basics, literally, with a repeat of the theme for the very first Line it is Drawn, have two characters from different comic book companies who have never crossed over with each other have a crossover. But let’s do a twist this time around, in honor of Uncanny X-Men #201 (and the Cyclops/Storm fight), have it be heroes from two different comic book companies who have never crossed over with each other FIGHTING each other!

Read on for the sketches that came about courtesy of the last question/challenge!

The theme is a revisit of one of my all-time favorite topics, Week 50′s “Super Team.” Make up your own super-team consisting of 1 Marvel character, 1 DC character, 1 character from an independent comic book company and 2 characters from any other form of fiction (novels, movies, whatever).

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Boys, Toys, Electric Irons, and TVs 12: Futures End #13

No one likes Futures End. That’s what I see/read/hear across the internet. As we enter what would be the second year of any other comic, that seems important. I haven’t checked the sales charts because… I don’t care. I’d rather create a fictional reader that has been reading Futures End and doesn’t care for what it has been getting every week yet continues. This reader isn’t me, because I’ve been enjoying Futures End, possibly for none of the intended reasons. So, really, I’m the wrong guy to try and write about why this fictional reader isn’t liking Futures End. But, what the hell…

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Year of the Artist, Day 212: J. G. Jones, Part 1 – Dark Dominion #7

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Every day this year, I will be examining the artwork on a single comic book story. Today’s artist is J. G. Jones, and the issue is Dark Dominion #7, which was published by Defiant and is cover dated April 1994. Enjoy!
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Cover Theme Game for 7/30

The cover theme game works like this: I’ll show you three covers. They all have something in common, whether it be a character, a trait all three characters share, a connection between all three characters, a locale, a trait all three creators share, SOMEthing. And it isn’t something obvious like “They all have prices!” “They all have logos!” “They all feature a man!” “They are all Avengers (who ISN’T?)!” “They’re all dead (who HASN’T been killed off?)!” “They’ve all been cloned (who HASN’T been cloned?)!” “They’re all mutants!” (who ISN’T a mutant?) “They’re all orphans!” (who ISN’T an orphan?) “They’re all legacy heroes” (who ISN’T a legacy hero nowadays?)! “They’re all by the same artist!” (too obvious) etc.

In addition, please note that you must have some familiarity with comic book history to correctly guess these themes. You cannot guess the connective theme just by looking at the covers solely, you must have some knowledge beyond the covers. The connections will ONLY have to do with connections in the actual comic books (so no incidental connections like “they share the same last names of Vice Presidents,” etc. Now, if the three characters were each named Gerald Ford, that’d be another story, as that’d no longer be incidental).

If you come up with an answer that works outside of what I intended, I’ll give you credit (well, provided I think it fits, of course).

One more thing – if there are floating heads on the cover, ignore them! They don’t mean anything! Same thing with corner boxes!

If you think you know the answer, e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com. Don’t answer in the comments. This way, people who check in at different times of the day can still get credit for answering it correctly!

Here is an archive of all the past cover theme games, plus their answers. Before each new installment, I’ll post the answers to the previous week’s game.

Good luck and enjoy! Continue Reading »

Year of the Artist, Day 211: Todd McFarlane, Part 5 – Spawn #9

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Every day this year, I will be examining the artwork on a single comic book story. Today’s artist is Todd McFarlane, and the issue is Spawn #9, which was published by Image and is cover dated March 1993. Enjoy!
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Amazing Heroes: Black Terror


This is the second in a series of essays on the classic characters that are being made into action figures via the Amazing Heroes Kickstarter campaign by Fresh Monkey Fiction. The figures are Stardust, Captain Action, Black Terror, the Golden Age Dare-Devil, Champion of Mars, and Silver Streak. Historian Christopher Irving (Leaping Tall Buildings: The Origins of American Comics and Graphic NYC) kicks it off with a look at Fletcher Hanks’ surreal hero Stardust the Super-Wizard. – BC

It’s 1942. Superman is huge, having already gone to the big screen in the Fleischer Brothers cartoons and dominating the airwaves with the Bud Collyer radio show.

And then, there’s Batman—the dark avenger fighting crime with his colorful kid sidekick.

And then, there’s Black Terror, who falls in between the two of them. While he never took off quite like the Man of Steel or Dark Knight, he still keeps turning up as the superhero who can never die.
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Committed: “Is Sexism a REAL Problem for Women?”

I’m just back from San Diego and I would like nothing more than to write you some fun things about Comic-Con International, but they’ll have to wait because when I was asked (by an intelligent and well-educated friend) if sexism is a “real” problem, I had no choice but to drop everything and write about the very real abuse women in the world contend with, simply because “they’re women”. A world with these kind of prejudices impacts the quality of life for us ALL, male and female and it is in ALL of our interests to be aware of it and combat it. This is a lot of information, but it really is just the tip of the iceberg. Unfortunately there is still a long way to go before sexism is a thing of the past.

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1987 And All That: The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21

A column in which Matt Derman (Comics Matter) reads & reviews comics from 1987, because that’s the year he was born.

SpiderWed1The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21 (Marvel) by David Michelinie, Paul Ryan, Vince Colletta, Bob Sharen, Rick Parker, Jim Salicrup, and Jim Shooter

Mary Jane Watson and Peter Parker’s marriage is a weirdly divisive subject for some people, but I don’t personally have too strong an opinion on whether or not Spider-Man ought to be married. When it happened in 1987, it was pretty much a gimmick, an editorially mandated special event designed to sell comics based on the novelty, as opposed to being a story that someone felt needed to be told. As such, there’s only the faintest impression of a plot in this comicbook, despite its extra pages and the fact that then editor-in-chief Jim Shooter is credited with the plot and David Michelinie with the actual script. It’s hard to imagine Shooter’s role amounting to very much more than telling Michelinie, “Spider-Man gets married, even though he and Mary Jane both have doubts.” I’d believe he contributed less than that, because that’s about 90% of what the issue contains, and I want to give Michelinie and the artists some credit.

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Year of the Artist, Day 210: Todd McFarlane, Part 4 – Spider-Man #5

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Every day this year, I will be examining the artwork on a single comic book story. Today’s artist is Todd McFarlane, and the issue is Spider-Man #5, which was published by Marvel and is cover dated December 1990. Enjoy!
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Comic Book Six Degrees: Dawnstar to Purgatori

I name two comic book characters. You then have to connect the two using only shared appearances in comic books (official appearances in comics only – no cameos like Terry Austin sneaking Popeye into the background of a panel and no outside comic book appearances, like cartoons and the like). You have to do so using less than six comics total. Covers and pin-ups do not count – only actual appearances in the same comic book story (so it doesn’t count if they each appeared in separate stories inside the same anthology). Mythological characters, public domain characters (other than public domain comic book characters, they’re free game) and real people (by the way, unless a fake name is used for a real person, like Ronald Raygun or whatever, you can use the person even if they are not officially named in the comic) are unique to their own comic book appearances (so DC’s Thor is different than Marvel’s Thor, DC’s Ronald Reagan is different from Marvel’s Ronald Reagan, etc.). But a licensed character is the same in all of their various comic book companies (so the Marvel Red Sonja is the same as the Dynamite Red Sonja) and approved appearances by a real person can go across comic book companies, as well (so, for instance, you can use Marv Wolfman from his Teen Titans appearance to connect with Marv Wolfman in his Fantastic Four appearance – you just can’t use modern appearances by Jack Kirby from one company to connect to Jack Kirby appearances from Marvel Comics, since obviously Kirby can no longer give approval for his appearance). Approval tends to be the key.

Every week, whoever connects the two characters in the least amount of turns gets to pick the next week’s match (in the event of a tie, the winner is chosen randomly among the people who sent in challenges for next week). Last time was ‘Mazing Man to Amazing Joy Buzzards. Eric H. was one of a few peoples to get it in three moves. Here is how Eric connected the two…

NOTE: Before I begin, let me again request that when you folks send in your answers to please include your suggestion for next week if your answer is chosen. Oh, and it would be nice if you demonstrate that it IS possible to connect your two suggested choices. Thanks!

‘Mazing Man was in “Ambush Big: Year None” #1 with Superman
Superman was in “Superman & Savage Dragon: Metropolis” with Savage Dragon
Savage Dragon was in “Savage Dragon” #137 with the Amazing Joy Buzzards

Eric’s challenge is…

Dawnstar to Purgatori

E-mail me your answers at bcronin@comicbookresources.com. Do NOT post your answers in the comments section!

Whoever connects the two characters in the least amount of comics gets to pick the connection for next time around (I’ll pick a random winner in the event of a tie)!

Remember, only authorized appearances in comic books count (for instance, all the Marvel characters in Savage Dragon/Destroyer Duck do not count)!

NOTE: A reader asked me if a character appears in a comic but as a voice only, does that count? What do you all think? Vote in the comments – I’ll accept whatever the majority says.

Year of the Artist, Day 209: Todd McFarlane, Part 3 – Detective Comics #576

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Every day this year, I will be examining the artwork on a single comic book story. Today’s artist is Todd McFarlane, and the issue is Detective Comics #576, which was published by DC and is cover dated July 1987. Enjoy!
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