Showing posts from September, 2008

Help Is On The Way

Hopefully help is on the way for the craziness that is going on over at Wall Street (I'm glad that Congress didn't just do a quick approval vote on Monday and rather took a couple more days to look at the ramifications of what the bailout plan proposed by the government for Wall Street means - actually two days isn't really enough to examine what this will mean for the country at large, but it seems that something needs to be done in a hurry to avert even more craziness on Wall Street).

Anyways, I'm not here to talk about that kind of help, rather I want to put a spotlight on a comic book that came out last week from Dark Horse called Help Is On The Way, a collection of an online comic strip called Basic Instructions by Scott Meyer. Basic Instructions is a four panel comic strip with how-to titles such as: "How to Lie to a Child", "How to Call in Sick", How to Open a Snack Quietly", and "How to Accept Gratitude". Consider these words …


Last night I saw a preview screening of Religulous (which opens this Friday), a documentary by director Larry Charles (Borat), featuring Bill Maher interviewing people around the world about god and religion. Religulous was fantastic, with an especially powerful ending that pulls no punches as to what Bill Maher thinks about religion and god, the belief in those concepts, and how those beliefs continue to be the biggest cause of the worlds problems. The movie is often very funny, which is to be expected if you know Bill Maher from his previous stand up comic routines and his television show Politically Incorrect. Religulous feels like a Michael Moore docu-film (not a bad thing in my book) and unfortunately like Michael Moore's movies, Religulous will almost exclusively only be seen by those that agree with the central theme of the movie (the non belief in god and religion).

The thing that surprises me the most about Religulous is that some of the religious "authorities" …

The Ugly Couch Show

The Ugly Couch Show is a very funny, informative source for interviews and reviews of just about all things relating to pop culture with a focus on movies, comics, television, gaming, and conventions. I've been way overdue in having an entry about this site put on by Paul (The Famous Paul, as he's billed - actually I'd be surprised if he isn't famous some day - in addition to having great taste in comics he was a Klingon at the Star Trek Experience and was part of the Vegas Second City Troupe at the Flamingo), Barry, Todd, and Jeff. They're up to 29 different podcasts, which they have archived and can be viewed in quicktime or windows media format. Some of their recent episodes have covered the San Diego Comic Con, the last days of the Star Trek Experience at the Hilton, and Anime Vegas (including Paul interviewing me, but if you watch that one you'll think I'm more of a spaz than you already may think me to be). They also have audio "couchcasts" …

James Jean & Fables

Fables #76 came out this week with another fantastic cover by James Jean. The actual story behind the cover was really good also and serves as a good jumping on point after the big events in last issue for anyone who wants to switch over from the trades. Mike Allred is the guest artist for this issue and as much as I like regular Fables artist Mark Buckingham, I love Allred and he doesn't get anywhere near the love that he should (seriously look at any issue of Madman, which is actually getting better, if that's possible).

Next month's Fables #77 cover. More pretty.

Fables #78 cover. Still more pretty.

Fables #79. Yet more James Jean prettiness, he hasn't won the Eisner for best cover artist multiple times for nothing! Sadly, I think Fables #79 will be his last cover for this title. I don't know if Vertigo already has another artist on tap, but I was talking to Kate about this and she thought they should go with Christopher Moeller or Scott Hampton. I should have kn…

Starbucks week 20

Looking really good I'd say. Nevada Power told me that it looks like the new Starbucks could be opening in two weeks. I've looked inside their windows and it looks like they just have some fine tuning to do as all of their equipment and furniture is within.
It looks like they mostly just have some more outside signage to do (along their drive thru area) and landscaping and they should be ready to go. I already know one of the employees is a comic fan because he shops at my store (he worked at the Starbucks by Einsteins Bagels and is being transfered) so I think it's a good bet that he can help steer Starbucks customers over to my store for some fine comics.

In another new development here by my store, my neighbor, Cloth and Canvas, closed up this week after having their one year anniversary. Truthfully I knew their longevity was suspect almost right when they opened. I liked the gal who owned the place, Cyndi, and her business partner, Ricco, but I don't think they did …

Spending the night with Obama / McCain

I didn't especially care about whether I listened to or watched the debate tonight because really for those that are already decided (as I am to vote for Obama)I nothing that their candidate was going to say was going to change their mind about how they're going to vote. I liked what I know about Obama and think he'd make a good president (and thought that about Hillary also) so I don't need any more convincing to vote for him, but I'd vote for almost any person that ran on the Democatic ticket because this country needs major changes and I don't think that having a Republican president in office for another four years is going to be that road for those changes. I don't think Obama or any other Democratic candidate will be able to initiate any change for some time especially in light of what's happening on Wall Street, but the road to that change is there with the Democrats that will not be possible with McCain as president (and doubly true if Palin …

Janes in Love

Janes in Love is the new Minx graphic novel by Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg and is a follow up to The Plain Janes. Anyone who's read The Plain Janes has been eagerly awaiting its sequel and I'm happy to say that all of the ingredients that made The Plain Janes great are present in Janes in Love.

The premise of this Minx graphic novel series (with the low price point of only $9.99 for 152 pages) is a group of friends (the Janes) who have taken it upon themselves to enrich their boring community through public art projects in the hopes of inspiring others and creating works of beauty. Janes in Love can be read without first having read The Plain Janes, but I'd recommend starting with the first volume because there are character progressions. The Plain Janes and Janes in Love are books that are instantly likeable and you'll want to share them with others.


At the Diamond retailer summit last week, DC had advance copies of the new Minx title, Token, written by Alisa Kwitney and illustrated by Joelle Jones. I don't have anything insightful to say about Token, I just wanted to post an entry to give this book a shout out to readers who like good solid coming of age stories, with good characters and good art. Token arrives to finer comic book stores Novemeber 5th.

If I was going to nitpick about any story element within Token, I did have a problem with Shira, the central character, starting to shoplift as a way of having some "control" in her life. I realize that people shoplift, but it seemed to me that this aspect of Shira's character was just introduced to be a character nuance without really going into what the act of shoplifting does to a person and society (I'm sure that wasn't the point of the book, but at the same time the big intended audience for the Minx tiltes is young girls and they might get the idea af…

online negativity

Last Wednesday I had a blog entry about the Diamond retailer summit and mentioned that the highlight of the summit for me was Billy Tucci's SGT. Rock presentation. I prefaced talking about Tucci's upcoming SGT. Rock by relating how I wasn't a big fan of his previous comic work. Whether I liked or didn't like Tucci's previous comic work wasn't really relevant to his great presentation at the summit and in retrospect I wish I didn't include that digression within my entry last Wednesday. Originally I wrote the entry with the digression on my thoughts on Tucci's previous comic work in an attempt to illustrate that I was wrong about his commitment to the comic book medium, but ultimately I think I just ended up contributing to the flood of negativity that exists online.

Since starting my blog over a year ago I've tried to stay away from negative entries about the comic industry and events as I see them in the world around me. This may come as something o…

Unknown Soldier - upcoming

Yesterday I was excited to have gotten an envelope from the desk of Vertigo executive editor, Karen Berger, that contained the advance black and white pages of the first two issues of Unknown Soldier, a new Vertigo series written by Joshua Dysart and illustrated by Albert Ponticelli. I have to admit that getting to read some comics before most people is one of my favorite things about owning my store. Advance copies are not sent out though just to satisfy my desire to be the first on my block to read something before anyone else, companies and creators do this so that retailers can make better ordering decisions and to help the title find an audience. I think sending advance copies out of upcoming titles is a great marketing tool, but it's actually pretty rare for any retailer to get advance copies partly because of the fear of spoilers appearing online and also because most titles have such narrow windows in their production process.

The Unknown Soldier has had a long, scattered …


This week the newest issue of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips Criminal came out with the second part of a four issue story called Bad Night. There are presently three Criminal collections out, Coward, Lawless, and The Dead and the Dying. There aren't recurring characters in Criminal and most issues are self contained and easy to pick up on as to what is going on so any issue a reader picks up of Criminal will give them a sense of what Brubaker and Phillips are doing with this title.

Brubaker and Phillips also worked on the excellent four volume Sleeper, which is sort of in the crime fiction genre except it features some Wildstorm characters with hard boiled edges. Criminal is crime fiction comics at its finest with great nasty characters, crazy scenarios, great moody art (with coloring that isn't monotone), and great dialogue and pacing. The newest storyline, Bad Habits, about a cartoonist with a shady past who gets forced into doing some ID forgery and other crimes, is my favori…

American Widow; a 9-11 memoir

This week finer comic book stores and "regular" book stores everywhere received the new graphic novel, American Widow, by Alissa Torres (with art by Sungyoon Choi) about how her husband, Eddie, who had just been hired by Cantor Fitzgerald on September 10th, died the next day on the attack on the World Trade Center of September 11th, 2001. The book is also about how Alissa (who was also pregnant at the time of her husband's death) had to put her life back together afterwards and all the hurdles she encountered. I've already blogged bout this book in early August after getting an advance reading copy, so regular readers of my blog (thank you) will already know that I think American Widow is excellent. One error I made in my review though was assuming that the artist, Sungyoon Choi, is male, which was corrected for me in a great interview with Alissa Torres up on today.

Diamond Comics retailer summit

This past weekend (actually Sunday-Tuesday) Diamond Comics had their annual retailer summit at Ballys here in Las Vegas. Diamond Comics is of course the distributor of over 95 percent of all of the comics that comic stores receive. I hadn't been to one of their summits in a few years as they've been in Baltimore. Anyway they had one here in Las Vegas this year so that more of the West Coast stores could attend. These summits exist to allow retailers to communicate with Diamond's upper management on a one to one basis, allows publishers to give presentations of upcoming projects (actually this aspect of the summit is less and less valuable in this internet age as publishers can't talk about things that they don't want spoiled five minutes later online), and a great way for retailers to talk amongst themselves and maybe take away new things that would work in their shops. Probably the biggest benefit for attending these summits is the workshop panels upon which store…

cosplay at AnimeVegas 2008 pt.2!

A cute Pikachu. Pika!


Two characters from Sailor Moon.


So another AnimeVegas wrapped up this past Monday (Sat-Mon) and from my perspective it was another huge success. Before it started I was thinking that this year's convention would be smaller because there's been a lot of downsizing happening to various U.S. manga and anime companies. I still think that manga and anime in the U.S. is in a transitory phase which I think is largely due to people just downloading it online and not buying them when the U.S. editions hit the stores. I can understand the financial cost of following your hobby when you have other financial obligations or if you're a student and have limited finances, but at the same time because less people are buying manga and anime (because they can download it, read it in bookstores or libraries) less of their favorite entertainment is going to be produced when there's no finacial compensation to the creators and publishers of the actual …

2008 AnimeVegas!

This is Izzy and Cat (I know their "real" names, but I've been sworn to silence as they are on the run from the law - grin!), a mother and daughter team cosplaying as characters from Clamp's Clover. Cat (the daughter, with the white hair) won first prize at the masquerade Sunday night and I was happy to hear that because they always put a lot of work into their costumes and looked especially great this year.

This was the 5th AnimeVegas here in Las Vegas (of course) and the fourth one I've attended with a booth. I always do really well at this convention and had a great time, as did seemingly everyone else that attended. I liked the new venue that was used this year and even though there were half as many dealers as in the past few years, it looked like people were buying things and the energy level of the whole dealers room was high the entire three days.
This gal (whom I've seen at all of the AnimeVegas' that I've gone to, but never have gotten her na…