Wednesday, April 29, 2009

FREE Comic Book Day & HUGE SALE!

This Saturday, May 2nd is the 9th annual Free Comic Book Day that is an industry event the first Saturday of May that exists to promote how wonderful comics are to the public at large, who may not have read a comic in a long time and or don't know how much they've changed.

At my store, Alternate Reality Comics, Free Comic Day is all day Saturday (May 2nd) from 11-7pm. In addition to the great selection the various companies produced this year, I'm having a HUGE .25 cents back issue sale! When was the last time you bought a comic for a quarter (ever?)!? With the help of my friend, Rob, the past month or so, I've finally been getting all of the boxes out of this storage unit I've had for way too long and we've been updating the dollar back issue boxes here at the store. Well the boxes are now full and there's still a number of comics that haven't seen the light of day in years so I'm going to put them out Saturday on two large tables to see if anyone wants to give them homes for a mere quarter.

I just want to emphasize that no purchase is required for Free Comic Book Day, but if you have some loose quarters just laying around, I'll have some comic gems for only .25 cents! And if you're ever in the Bay area, specifically Concord, California, visit Flying Colors Comics and say hello and thank you to owner Joe Field for creating Free Comic Book Day!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Why I Killed Peter

Why I Killed Peter is an autobiographical graphic novel that came out last year that somehow fell below my radar until I read a review recently in Comics Buyer's Guide. Written by Oliver Ka and illustrated (in color) by Alfred and published by NBM, Why I Killed Peter, recounts Oliver Ka's early life growing up, meeting a man named Peter, whom he befriends, and a disturbing thing that Peter does during one of the camps that Oliver attended when he was twelve.

While the disturbing thing that Peter does is very disturbing, it ultimately isn't as disturbing as it could have been (although still disturbing enough to alter a person's life) and Why I Killed Peter isn't sensationalistic and presents the subject matter in such a way that will stay with the reader without being as creepy as it could have been, at the same time not excusing what happened.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

FreakAngels vol. 2

Yesterday, the second volume of Warren Ellis and Paul Duffield's online comic FreakAngels arrived. Anyone who's read the first FreakAngels graphic novel or read it online knows that the level of quality established right from page one never lets up, rather it just intensifies.
I don't have anything new to add that I didn't already say in my blog entry towards the end of last year when the first FreakAngels collection came out, and really this art says way more than any combination of letters I can put together.
Click on this page to the left and above to see them in their larger glory. As a refresher for those who don't already know what FreakAngels is, basically it's an end of the world scenario, with very few people left alive and twelve of those have immense power (but FreakAngels isn't about super powered characters beating the crap out of each other - not that there's anything wrong with that).

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Holy great Batman story, Robin!

Today the much delayed second part of Neil Gaiman's Whatever Happened To The Cape Crusader arrived and I was shocked and amazed at what a great story this is. No Spoilers following:

I thought the first part of this Gaiman Batman story had some good scenes, but nothing that suggested that it would be considered one of the greatest Batman stories ever. I was also holding this story up against Alan Moore's Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow, one of the all time best Superman stories, of which Gaiman's Batman story title pays homage to, and after reading the first chapter, I thought Gaiman's Batman story just was an okay story. Well that has completely changed with the second chapter, especially the last ten pages.

Whatever Happened To The Cape Crusader
is one of the VERY BEST Batman stories I've ever read and people will fondly remember this story for a long time. Everything that happens in the second part of this story brings together what Gaiman presented in the first chapter thus strengthening what I originally thought was just an okay story. Andy Kubert's art takes up the challenge that Gaiman's script provided and although I've often lamented both his and his brother Adam's abysmal output (in terms of number of issues they actually produced while exclusive to DC), I've enjoyed their art much more at DC than their Marvel work (I've got a theory that they don't care as much about DC characters as they do about Marvel characters, but it's also true that I don't no the reasons why they were so late with their DC work) and I'm sorry that their art didn't grace more DC titles with an impact such as Andy Kubert's Whatever Happened To The Cape Crusader. Regarding when Whatever Happened To The Cape Crusader takes place in continuity terms, that doesn't matter, this is just a great Batman story that anyone can read whether they've not read a Batman comic in years and or if they're a regular reader - this story just shows why Batman, as an iconic character, has endured for 70 years.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


Saturday night I went to my first ever live baseball game with my friends Rob and Drea. I've never liked baseball as I think it takes too long with not much really happening (from my perspective), but I do like baseball movies like Field of Dreams and Bull Duram and great anime baseball like Princess Nine, which is about a female baseball team. So the idea of actually going to a live baseball game never really would cross my mind as an entertaining way to spend an evening. I was looking for something different to do this weekend though especially after the yawnfest that was the Xanadu sci-fi con, so off to Cashman Field I went.

Surprisingly I wasn't bored at all from being at a baseball game, and with the game going on in the back (fore) ground, it was a good evening visiting with friends. I was also happy that they had beer that wasn't just Bud, Coors, or Miller (I had a Heifenweiser), but the pretzel I had must have been from last year (Drea said hers was one of the worst she'd ever eaten also) - fortunately the peanuts washed that taste away. If I had to pay a lot of attention to the game as my means of entertainment, well I'm pretty sure that would have been my first and last live game that I watched, but I now can say that one of the big appeals of going to a baseball game is the social aspects. I'd recommend going with at least a couple of friends as a fairly inexpensive (I'm sure "real" baseball cities like Chicago or San Diego can't say that) thing to do, but I'd say you'd want to go before the temps hit 90 and above.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

My other car is...

...your mom. I saw that on a license plate over at the Plaza Hotel when I got to the Xanadu sci-fi convention yesterday. Actually that was the best thing about the "convention" for me. I didn't have much in the way of expectations for what that convention was going to be, but I didn't expect it to be as much of a dud as it was. It was good seeing fantasy artist Brom and buying a couple of books from him though. I do hope the few people that I saw there had a good time.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Xanadu - Las Vegas sci-fi con

This weekend, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (April 17-19), at the Plaza Hotel downtown, Xanadu Las Vegas will be the happening spot for those of you that want to check out a local science fiction convention. Xanadu will feature mostly actors from sci-fi television and sci-fi movies, but they've also got an exhibit room (I'll have a booth there as will Comic Oasis), a costume contest, screenings, and panel programming. The huge artist guest they have appearing is Brom, so for a lot of people that's an attraction unto itself. Unfortunately they don't have one day passes, so first check out to see if there's enough guests and programming you're interested to make the two or three day passes worthwhile for you.

This will be my first time at a convention that isn't comic centric so I really don't know what to expect, but I like to think this will be an interesting mix of people (the hotel itself is sold out), having looked at their guests and programming list. I just hope they play the soundtrack to the 1980 movie musical Xanadu by ELO and Olivia Newton John on an endless loop throughout the Plaza Hotel this weekend (which oddly given my love of ELO & Olivia Newton John music and musicals, I never have seen, even though I've heard it's a good cheesy muscial)!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Sub-Mariner 70th Anniversary

Wow, and I thought I was old! This year Marvel Comics is 70 years old (from 1939 - 1961 they were called Timely). Captain American, Sub-Mariner, and Human Torch (not the one in the Fantastic Four) were amongst their first super hero characters so Marvel is producing one shot specials for the occasion. A couple of weeks ago the Captain America one shot came out by James Robinson (Starman) and fantastic artist Marcos Martin (Batgirl Year One and Robin Year One) and today the Sub-Mariner one shot graces ye old comic shoppe.

Sub-Mariner Comics #1 (this is what the one shot is called) has two new stories and a short reprint by Bill Everett. The lead story is written by Roy Thomas (who's written many Marvel and DC super hero comics but is probably best known for his long stint on Conan when Marvel was publishing it) with beautiful art by Mitch Breitweiser and colors by his wife Elizabeth. The story is set in WWII so of course it features Nazis and it's one of the best Namor (Sub-Mariner's name) stories I've read. The second new story is by Mark Schultz ( writer / artist of Xenozoic Tales and writer of the Prince Valiant newspaper comic) and drawn by Al Williamson, with his usual grace, flair, and great story-telling prowess'. This story is also set during World War II and is a great adventure yarn with some great Namor character bits. If the upcoming Human Torch one shot is half as good as the Captain America and Sub-Mariner ones have been, readers and comic art lovers should be in for a treat.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Funny Misshapen Body

Last week, Jeffrey Brown's new graphic novel, Funny Misshapen Body, arrived at comic stores last week that don't just stock super hero titles. Brown is known in alternative comic circles for his Top Shelf books, Clumsy, Unlikey, Bighead, and Sulk, amongst others. His Funny Misshapen Body is his longest graphic novel to date (310 pages), and his most autobiographical.

Jeffrey Brown's art is of the scratchy, raw, primal variety, which is a style that goes well with his simple (and I don't mean that in any derogatory way), honest life vignettes. Funny Misshapen Body is about Brown's childhood battle with Crohn's disease, the various odd jobs he's had (such as working at a wooden shoe factory) before be became a full time graphic novelist, and finding his artistic voice during his school years and in his comic work. Jeffrey Brown is still a fairly young cartoonist and as good as his comic work is presently, I think he's really going to be a cartoonist to watch out for in the future, I'd say on the caliber of Daniel Clowes and Chris Ware (the latter artist he's met and Ware has offered encouragement and fondness of Brown's work).

Friday, April 10, 2009


This wall, which the lighted Joker poster is hanging upon, is the center point of my store. I'd gotten an idea of how to do some "simple" punch up things for the store from a workshop I attended at the ComicsPro retailer meeting in Memphis a few weeks ago. This is the before work commenced photo.
Yesterday morning I started painting and didn't cover anything, but quickly found out how stupid that was because, of course, most comics already have enough color without me making paint variants. I was also having a bitch of a time painting as I hadn't cleaned the brushes I was using that well after using them on a house project last week and I hadn't thought that I was going to have to use a primer before applying my new color on the existing grey.

So after doing about 5% of the wall and deciding it looked like crap, went back to the paint store and got some better brushes. Then my friend and new helper here at the store, fearless Rob Perez, came in and originally I was going to have him babysit the nerve center of the store (the cash register / POS system), but he said he'd do the painting if I wanted him to. So I wisely said "Sure, give it a stab" because my painting of this wall wasn't going as smoothly as the walls I've painted in our house. Rob quickly determined that a primer was going to be needed, so off to the paint store he went. The primer was the trick, and while it still took longer then I would have thought (due to having to put on several coats of primer and the differences between the original and new color), I could see that Rob was making the wall happen the way I wanted it to look.
Actually I couldn't be happier with the end result and after finishing putting up the posters and such back up on that wall this morning, I definitely think that this yellow accent wall was just the visual pop out that I thought it would be. Any business has to do things differently from time to time to keep from stagnating and other then adding my POS system to streamline my store's data and ordering operations last year, I haven't done much different visually in a while with the store.

When I was telling one of my customers (and a regular reader of this blog) about this project forthcoming, he seemed a little underwhelmed that this was what I was talking about when I blogged about some ideas I took back with me from the Memphis ComicsPro show (I may have misinterpreted his reaction though). Actually if I didn't misinterpret his reaction, I can in retrospect understand how whatever I do, short of expanding my store into the next space or moving (both of which I have no near future plans of doing), would live up to my tone in my blog entry of things I was thinking of doing here at the store after coming back from Memphis. I think that, for me, this one wall having a color change is a dramatic change enhancement because I'm here six days a week, but to my customers the most I can hope for is that they appreciate these changes on at least a subconscious level. To illustrate what I just said, as of 5pm today (a few hours after I've completed that wall), not one of the people who've been at my store today have commented on my yellow wall (admittedly there's a lot of things going on elsewhere in the store and most people know where they're going within the store and or noticed the change, but just didn't feel the need to comment). I do hope people like changes like this that I make and that they'll tell me if they don't (even though it's not something easily undone, I do take negative comments into consideration when thinking about new changes). Anyway, I'm not fishing for comments / compliments, so please don't take the preceding as such.

I have another painting project that I want to do here at the store (no it doesn't involve painting the whole rest of the store yellow as much as I like yellow), but I'm going to hold off on that because as I thought more about it, it is going to be a really big project and the next thing on the store's plate of things to do is to finally get my dumb storage room of comic books into my back issue boxes here at the store so that they can find nice homes (and this will be started this tomorrow and should be mostly finished in a couple of months). I'm thinking that when I finally get ready to do my next painting project, that I'll have a little poll here at the store to see how present customers think about what I'm looking to do and maybe there'll be suggestions for a better way to do it that I haven't considered. Not so secretly, I will cry if everyone doesn't love my yellow wall though (and I don't think my photo here does the change justice, so you'll have to stop by for the full visual onslaught)!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Color of Earth

A few months ago I'd seen a preview copy of The Color of Earth and was eagerly awaiting its release. Today The Color of Earth came out and it was / is FANTASTIC! The Color of Earth is a 312 page manhwa (the Korean word for manga / comics) by Kim Dong Hwa and published by First Second.

Cartoonist Kim Dong Hwa is male, not female, and I think this is an interesting aside (of which I didn't know until I read the liner notes at the end of the book) because The Color of Earth seems to have a complete understanding of what it is to be a young girl and a young woman (and I should add that of course I don't have these insights that I'm assuming Hwa has, never having been of the female gender myself and that of course men have written books from the female point of view just as women have written books from the male point of view probably almost since the written word was first put to paper). Anyway, I'm fairly certain that women of any age will love The Color of Earth as long as they love great stories and characters filled with quiet moments about coming of age, falling in love, and the relationship a girl can only share with her mother, with lush illustrations that would make almost any artist green with envy and or admiration. Guys that like stories that have something else to offer besides fight scenes, explosions, or forced drama, will also like The Color of Earth and will want to share it with women they know. The Color of Earth is part one of a trilogy, with the other two volumes also coming out later this year by First Second, and they are called The Color of Water and The Color of Heaven - this should be a big year for First Second.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Kirby Krackle!

One of my fave purchases at this past February's San Francisco Wondercon was a cd by two young lads that go by the name Kirby Krackle. I bought this cd without even listening to it first because, hey, if two guys are going to represent art god Jack Kirby by naming their band after him, well I wanted to support that (of course it would have sucked if their music sucked and they ended up dragging Kirby's name through the mud - but no worries, that's not what you get when you listen to Kirby Krackle). Before writing this post I did a little research on Jim Demonakos and Kyle Stevens who make up Kirby Krackle and found out that Demonakos organizes the Seattle Emerald City Convention which I've heard great things about and co-owns a chain of comic stores in Washington called The Comic Stop.

Here's a link to one of their youtube's for a song called Another New Crisis Most of their songs are very comic book centric, with titles such as Marvelous Girls and Villain Song, but you don't have to know their references to enjoy their music. One of the crazier songs that I wouldn't expect from this duo is called Teabagged (but they somehow make it sound not as out there as what the song is really about). Naked Wii is a fun song also and would probably be fun to try as well in the right company (nudge, nudge, wink, wink). Even though the cover of their cd by sometime comic artist Jim Mahfood is good, I'm going to take a couple of points off for not using a Jack Kirby image for their cover, but other than that, Kirby Krackle deserves your support!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Flash: Rebirth

This week saw the debut of Flash: Rebirth, a five issue mini-series by Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver, that returns Barry Allen as the main Flash in the DC universe. The Flash comic book has been really lame these past few years as different creative teams tried to re-invent the character post Infinite Crisis. I guess if I had to pick a favorite super hero character it would be the Flash as it was the first super hero title I followed regularly and I like the concept of being faster than anyone else so it's good to have a creative team of Johns and Sciver's caliber to put this title back on top of the must read super hero pile.

My initial thought upon hearing that Barry Allen (who was "dead") would be back as the Flash was to roll my eyes and remark that no one stays dead in comics so it then makes any future comic character's deaths have less impact because you know that they'll all be back. Then I remembered that writer Geoff Johns made the return of Hal Jordon (who was also "dead") as Green Lantern work, so I was pretty confident that he'd make the return of Barry Allen work and having read the first issue he's off to a very strong start. I've also come more to terms with every comic character that "died" coming back to life because even though it does diminish when a character in superhero comics dies as you know they'll be back somehow at some point, I now look forward to how a good writer such as Johns will make that characters' return work without destroying what has been written about the character before. For anyone who's not familiar with Ethan Van Sciver's art, he's perfect for this title (probably perfect for almost any DC super hero comic) and he definitely packs a lot on a page all of which is very finely rendered.