Look what I got in the mail

Yes, I’ll admit, this post is a little bit about me bragging. I totally got this in the mail the other day, isn’t it awesome?

Hellblazer1

Yeah, that’s the first issue of John Constantine Hellblazer by Jamie Delano. It’s not a super expensive comic, but after I read the anthology a couple weeks ago, I really wanted to own the issue. Now I do. Woo!

Why Comics are hard for readers

As a person who reads comics, I’m reasonably secure in my comic book knowledge. I’m not going to spend my time debating whether or not it’s enough for me to be able to name Aquaman’s wife (it’s Mera BTW) because that’s sort of my point.

I was re-reading All-Star Superman the other day, and I had a really hard time keeping up with it because it essentially packs everything that has ever happened in Superman ever into twelve issues. As much as I enjoyed it, I felt myself getting lost. Constantly.

I just finished Kingdom Come by Mark Waid, and if you haven’t read it, well, you should. It’s similar to Injustice in that Superman decides enough is enough and it’s time for a change (Owen Hart). During the comic, they make awesome little jokes like Superman telling Batman we’d make the World’s Finest team. I snickered.

Then a few frames later, Superman disappears while Batman is mid-sentence, and when Batman realizes he says “Oh, so that’s how that feels.” I started laughing and my wife looked at me like I was crazy. Still, thinking about it later, neither of those jokes would have been funny (or caught) if I hadn’t read my share of comics. I mean who reads World’s Finest? #NoOneEver.

Anyway, my point is simply there’s a lot of backstory around those characters, and sometimes things just wind up being confusing. Too confusing for it to be good, and it just makes me feel dumb. You never want your readers to feel dumb. I know, coming from me that’s sort of hypocritical, but I honestly try to keep things like that out of it. (And I have more than one sentence to explain things.)

That’s one of the reasons I loved Ultimate Spiderman and the new 52s because I didn’t have to remember every single aspect of the characters.

On that note, I think I know the recipe for DC television shows.

Introduce hero

  • Barry Allen caught in freak explosion becomes Flash
  • Clark Kent comes to earth on rocket
  • Supergirl comes to earth
  • Oliver Queen is trapped at sea on island 5 years in past

Introduce thing that causes bunch of villains to appear so we have bad guys bent on destroying hero.

  • The explosion that makes Flash makes lots of other villains
  • The rocket/ meteor thing falls to earth with him releasing kryptonite that changes normal people into villains
  • Supergirl’s ship pulls prison full of goons out of phantom zone along with her
  • People Oliver has met/faced during those five years decide it’s time for revenge

Laugh all the way to bank.

  • Use endless cadre of villains created by explosion to fight Flash
  • Use endless cadre of villains created by meteor to fight Superman
  • Use endless cadre of villains released from prison to fight Supergirl
  • Use endless cadre of villains created by Oliver’s past exploits to fight Green Arrow

Now we just really need a Shazam series. Serious.

Introduce hero

  • Billy Batson finds old wizard and is granted magic powers to become Captain Marvel.

Introduce thing that causes bunch of villains to appear so we have bad guys bent on destroying hero.

  • His new magic powers draw other supers looking for the wizard.

Laugh all the way to bank.

  • Use endless cadre of villains drawn by magic powers to fight Captain Marvel

Reading Comics

As you may or may not know, I actually really like comic books. Who knew right?

Anyway, I’ve recently learned the library actually carries an assortment of graphic novels, a number of which I’ve been wanting to read for years but never actually wanted to buy. I’m cheap, what can I say?

To that end, I’ve checked out a number of volumes from my local library and am steadily making my way through them. At the same time, I’ve come across an interesting phenomenon. Most of the ones I found on the whole “Best Graphic Novels Ever” lists were written by Alan Moore or Frank Miller. Crazy, right?

Still, I think I’ve got a pretty good list going thus far and am currently working my way through it. If anyone has anything to add, hey I’m all for it, you know, assuming the library has it.

Title Author Read So Far
Watchmen Alan Moore Yes
Wolverine Chris Claremont Yes
Superman: The last son Geoff Johns Yes
All Star Superman Grant Morrison Yes
Injustice: Year 1 Tom Taylor Yes
Batman: Killing Joke Alan Moore
Superman: Man of Tomorrow Alan Moore
V for Vendetta Alan Moore
From Hell Alan Moore
Y the last Man Brian K. Vaughan
300 Frank Miller
Batman: Dark Knight Strikes Again Frank Miller
Daredevil: Man without fear Frank Miller
Batman: Dark Knight Returns Frank Miller
Batman: Year One Frank Miller
Ronin Frank Miller
Sin City Frank Miller
Batman: Long Halloween Jeph Loeb
Batman: Hush Jeph Loeb
Superman: Red Son Mark Millar
Wolverine: Old Man Logan Mark Millar
Kingdom Come Mark Waid
Sandman Neil Gaiman
Injustice: Year 2 Tom Taylor
Injustice: Year 3 Tom Taylor

 

Top Ten List

In my post where I talked about the cost of publishing Kill It With Magic, I talked about having a top ten list of comic books I want to collect. Unfortunately, I never actually said what they were, and because I know you’re all super interested in it, I am going to rectify that now. (Yes, I’m that guy.) They aren’t really in any particular order.

Consider this your formal education in comic awesomeness if nothing else.

#1 – Daredevil #1: This is the first appearance of Daredevil. In all honesty, no one other than Ben Affleck should even care about Daredevil #1. So why do I care about a superhero that even the actor who portrayed him is trying desperately to forget?

When I was a little kid, my uncle showed me the comics he had saved from when he was a little kid. He had a lot of really cool issues, but for some reason the one that stuck out to me was Daredevil #1. I remember him saying that he hadn’t liked the comic as a kid and felt he had been ripped off. His comic is in really nice condition, as he only read it like twice before putting it in his comic box. Since then, I have always wanted my own copy. If my uncle had pulled out some other comic, I’m sure Daredevil #1 wouldn’t even be on here.

#2 – Hulk #181: This issue really needs no explanation if you know about comic books. Why? Because Wolverine! While not the first appearance of Wolverine, which occurs in Hulk #180, this is credited as his first appearance.

I have been trying to buy this comic for several years now and always seem to let it slip through my fingers. In my opinion, this is one of the few comics that make or break a bronze -age collection. It is also one of the few comic books you’ll actually hear mentioned in popular culture when they talk about having a “cool” comic. This is always the comic I promise myself every single year and then I don’t buy it.

#3 – Amazing Spider-Man #3: The first appearance of Dr. Octopus. Not only is he pretty much the quintessential Spider-Man villain, especially now that there is the Superior Spider-man, but one of the very first comics I got as a kid was about Dr. Octopus. I really liked the idea of having a bunch of mechanical arms I could use to hold my foes against a wall while I flick them in the nose with my fingers.

#4 Amazing Spider-Man #9: The first appearance of Electro has long been a comic I have really wanted. There are about three reasons for this. One, when I was little I had a Spider-Man video game for Sega Genesis that I really liked, and Electro was one of the villains. Two, when I was an intern we used to joke about a super hero who was a master electrician who had a horrible accident where he fell into exposed power lines and became Conduit Man, with powers over electricity. That nearly sums up Electro. Three, he is in the new Amazing Spider-Man 2 Movie. Plus, I think this comic is severely undervalued. Still.

#5 Tales of Suspense #57: The first appearance of Hawk Eye. Like Hulk #181, this comic has always seemed to slip out of reach. Now that Joss Whedon has gone and made Hawkeye cool, this comic is even more out of reach than it once was. I really wish I had just ponied the money up for this when I tried to buy it, and Ironman #55, five years ago. Then I could point at them an laugh instead of looking at them and crying.

#6 Amazing Spider-Man #121: This is the infamous Death of Gwen Stacy comic. While this has been one of the few comics to be on my top ten list for a really long time, it is one of the ones I haven’t really pursued very hard, and I do not know why. Part of it is I want a really nice copy and to not pay a whole lot for it. The other part of it? I don’t know how I feel about actually owning a piece of Spider-man’s broken heart. Because I’m not a heartless savage.

#7 Amazing Spider-Man #122: Mostly because you cannot have #121 without #122. They go together like peanut butter and something that goes with peanut butter. Like rice cakes when you’re on a diet. Oh and its important because it’s when Spider-man “kills” the Green Goblin.

#8 Green Lantern #7: This is the first appearance of Sinestro. It has been one of the holdovers of the list, like ASM #121 for a long time. I don’t know why I haven’t just up and bought this comic yet. I think I’ve only even bid on it like twice. This is also one of those weird comics where it seems to go for a lot less on EBAY, when it isn’t a buy it now auction, than at shops.

I mean Sinestro isn’t even that cool, which is pretty much the entire problem with the Green Lantern and Superman really… They don’t have cool villains like Spider-man, X-men, or Batman. How can you have a hero with no villains? Villains make a hero…

#9: Showcase #22: Speaking of the less than cool Green Lantern, the first appearance of Hal Jordan and the new Green Lantern Mythos is something any true Green Lantern fan must own. As a Green Lantern fan, I feel like it is my duty to own this comic. It is just so damn expensive, that even if I was going to spend the greenbacks to get it, I’d likely just buy #10 on the list.

#10 Amazing Fantasy #15: This is the first appearance of Spider-Man and is one of the most famous comics of all time. I almost bought this comic as a kid for $500, and I really wish I would have done so. I’d only had $200 or $300 at the time from my summer job. I had been saving for a Super Nintendo and was going to a comic show with my Dad. Anyway, the moral of the story is I didn’t buy it and now just a cover for this book is like $500…

That’s my top ten list. Part of the problem with it is most of the comics on it are expensive, and I really want nice copies of the books. That is a lot of the reason this list hasn’t changed much over the years. Perhaps I’ll do a post in the future where I talk about some comics I have managed to get from this list. Will it be interesting? Unlikely. Will it let me show off to my small corner of the internet? Yes.

Tenjou Tenge

Back in the day, I used to be quite the anime head. Not like those weird kids you think of in school because I was pretty normal. I just really like shounan-style manga and anime. That’s the kind of anime that usually goes something like “I must get stronger/better/etc to overcome x challenge.”

A lot of my early writing is in this style and, is therefore, not super interesting. However, the whole point of this post is that, about two weeks ago, I decided to re-watch Tenjou Tenge because I heard that, at some point between now and when I originally watched it, they released two OVAs.

For those of you not in the know, OVAs are basically episodes that take place in addition to the series, usually after the series is over. These are not the same as movies because they tend to be about as long as a normal episode, though often the animation is much better.

Why did I re-watch Tenjou Tenge over any other anime I own? (about 50) Because I remembered a particular scene in which they are fighting something that paralyzes people with mind control. Mitsoumi beats the shit out of the thing anyway because he has practiced so much that he can fight without thinking.

It turns out the scene I was thinking of is only in the manga and doesn’t even occur in the anime so I watched it for nothing.

Anyway, the reason I liked this scene is because it makes me think of people, especially people who are very good at things. Think professional athletes, video game players, musicians. They practice and practice so that they can play really well. However, the part of the brain they typically play with isn’t the thinking part. That is why when someone “gets in the opponent’s head” it really messes them up.

Why? Because then you start thinking about what you are doing. The part of your brain that thinks about what it is doing has practiced WAAAAAAAY less than the other part that usually gets used once you pass say, a few hundred hours.

Think about driving. How often do you just get in your car and before you know it, you’re there. How much of your driving time is spent driving that way instead of actively concentrating on everything you do like when you first learned?

I often wonder if writing is the same way. Sometimes I sit down, and I just “get in the zone.” I’ll look over, and I have 3 chapters written. (My chapters are short this is probably 3-4k words tops.)

Is this because I’m writing with that “other” part of my brain? I’m not sure, but I’d like to think so. I mean hell, I just sat down and started writing this post about Tenjou Tenge, and I barely even talked about it. So. Not. Planned.

No Comics

If you haven’t guessed, I’m just going to go ahead and tell you. I like collecting comic books. I admit it is a stupid hobby. It is stupid because it is, essentially, a hobby that involves throwing as much money as you can into a hole. That’s fine and all, but some of the books I want are really expensive. Maybe I’ll talk about my top ten list later, but the purpose of this post is to talk about why I won’t be buying any comics for the foreseeable future.

I had been eyeing three (read four) comics specifically: Daredevil #1, Hulk #181, and Amazing Spider-man #121 & #122. I was pretty sure I was going to buy one of them. But because I’m semi-responsible I decided to do a bit of calculating on what my books are costing me to produce. I don’t think I’ll be buying one anytime soon.

So, being that I like spreadsheets, and that you can’t run a business without knowing your costs, I just updated my spreadsheet. It came out at about what I was expecting. I had wanted to spend approximately $500 or less to produce each book. Right now, without advertising, Kill It With Magic has cost me $400.82. That is not including overhead costs (hosting, blog domain names) of $47.80.

Hatter is Mad so far has cost me $104.77 and Fairy Tale has cost me $92.82 for the editing deposits. Hatter has another expected cash outlay in December 2014 of $92.82 for editing, while the balance on Fairy Tale is expected in February 2015.

So, what are these costs, and how do they break down? I’m glad you asked because this is going to be a highly technical post.

For Kill It With Magic:

    • Cover from Fiverr.com – $15
      • It was the punk girl cover I wound up not using.
      • This was a wasted expense
    • Domain name – $11.95
    • Editing – $243.88
      • This is based on a word count of 67K words at $3.50 per 1,000 words
      • This included proof reading
    • Final Book Cover – $50
      • My friend did the cover for me for $50.
      • He still refuses to take payment
    • Formatting Epub, Mobi, Createspace – $80
      • This is something I went back and forth on. I decided I don’t want to deal with createspace formatting at all.
      • Createspace formatting was $50
      • To add Epub and Mobi was $30

So, do I think I’ll be able to make back the cost of $400.82? I hope so, but realistically that’s something like ~200 books at $2.99, less at $3.99. If by this time next year, when I have several books out, I haven’t sold 200 books. I’m going to be in trouble.

Kirkman!

This is another post about the magical 2005 San Diego Comic-Con. This is when I met Robert Kirkman. I heard he was going to be there, and I decided to bring along my favorite Marvel Zombies Cover.  It’s this one right here.

Now, I don’t know if anyone else has had the same experience, but Kirkman was like the nicest guy ever. I waited in line for maybe 10 minutes; I was somewhat surprised no one was there.  I hadn’t really heard of Kirkman at the time, other than knowing he had just done Marvel Zombies. Maybe, it was the same for everyone else.  I assume that nowadays he would fill a huge line of Walking Dead Fans.  
 
He told me that this was his favorite cover and asked why I’d picked it.  I said that it was my favorite as well because the original Todd McFarlane cover was so cool.  I then asked him why, after the adventures in Ultimate Fantastic Four, he killed Magneto immediately in Marvel Zombies.  
 
He said that he had wanted to keep Magneto alive, but worried the story would become a Magneto story instead of a “Zombies” story.  That’s when I realized he was a good writer.  He was able to kill off a character he liked to make a better story.  
 
I would like to note that Arthur Suydam, the guy who drew the cover, was also at the show but refused to sign my comic book unless I bought something from him.  Here I was, a broke college kid, and the cheapest thing at his booth was over $250.  I remember having a similar experience with a wolverine artist when I was about 13.  
 
The guy refused to sign my comic, and it was probably the reason I stopped buying wolverine comics as a kid.  He did wind up signing it when this hot girl walked up and got an autograph and I asked her to get mine signed too.  
 
I’m still kinda mad about it almost twenty years later.  
 
The experience with Suydam was especially infuriating because Kirkman had been so nice.  It would have been really cool to get it signed by both of them, especially since I liked his artwork so much.  
 
I think if I have the opportunity to get Suydam to sign this comic, I will.  But I just may bring up his douchyness AFTER he signs my book.
 
I also met JMS, or J. Michael Straaczynski at the same show.  It was funny, a friend of mine and I waited in line for about fifteen minutes to get his autograph.  I had known he was going to be there so I brought my copy of Supreme Power #1.
 
I am a huge fan of JMS’ Supreme Power; I have no idea why except that it is awesome, and Zarda totally has that booby thing going on. Basically, the only thing I knew about JMS, when I met him, was that he wrote this book. I had no idea he wrote Babylon 5 or any of those tv shows.  It wasn’t until I saw all the Sci Fi fans lining up with their respective memorabilia that I realized he had written the shows.  That seemed kind of cool to me.  
As I said earlier , I really liked this series, and I was really happy to have my Supreme Power #1 signed.  
 
The fourth person I met at the 2005 San Diego Comic Con was Brian K. Vaughn.  I happened to be walking by and saw he was signing.  I often wander by the booths to see if I recognize anyone (even today) and this time I saw Brian.  There really wasn’t even a line which surprised me.
 

Since I wasn’t prepared, I ran across the hall to another booth and purchased this comic.  I then sprinted back and managed to get him to sign the book for me.  It was sort of funny because about an hour later I was sitting in a Marvel Panel, and they introduced Brian saying he had just finished his only autograph session.

It made me really happy to have gotten this because had I attended the panel first I would have been immensely sad to hear he had signed, and I missed it.

I may post about some other author meetings in the future, but I really wanted to mention these ones.

Orson Scott Card

In 2005, I attended San Diego Comic-Con.  I began attending in 2003 and have attended every year since (except this year).

What was special this year was that I knew certain people were going to be there.  What I did not know was that Orson Scott Card of Ender’s Game fame was going to be there.

I got lucky, you see.  I was in a Marvel Ultimates Panel, and they brought out Mr. Card. He talked about doing Ultimate Iron Man.  I was like “wow I’ve read all the Ender’s Game books, I’m going to go pick up Iron man.”

So I went and bought issues number 1 and 2. A little while later, I happened to be walking by the booth and lo and behold, Mr. Card was signing.

I was able to get him to sign both books.  He even took a picture with me.  I was so nervous that I could barely talk to him.  I mean I’d spent so much time with his books.  I did ask him if Bean was ever going to die.  He said that he really wants to kill Bean and that it will happen eventually. Remember, this was 2005.

The other cool thing about this was that I was able to get him to sign the comics.  If this had happened last year while I was at comic con I would never have been able to happen onto a guy like Orson Scott Card and walk into line to get his autograph.  The line would wrap around the entire state of California.

I got several other autographs this year, it was the first year I came somewhat prepared to get comics signed.  I will post the other ones over the next few days.  Still though, while I wish I’d have brought some of my hardcover Ender’s Game novels, (many other people had them), these are probably some of my favorite comics to have signed.