The Adventures of Sgt. Shark!

Matt and I are both big, BIG lovers of comic ads.  I mean, if you can’t appreciate the sheer lunacy of those classic Hostess ads where Big Time Hero defeats Never-Again-Seen Villain by exploiting their fried pie weakness the we are just not on the same page!.  Not to mention all those O.J. Dingo ads!

But I recently decided to give in and read The Great Darkness Saga, and I found this masterpiece in Legion of Superheroes #291:

That’s right, it’s a story about a regular rough-and-tumble dude JUST LIKE YOU (and his one-eyed parrot, of course,) who uses his bro-tastic shark tooth pendant to PUNCH A SHARK AND REDIRECT A SUBMARINE!

Friends, my $5.95 is already on it’s way to Florida.

No Capes! Tuesday or Strange Tricks

In the last year or so my comic collecting has become more whimsical. As I’ve said before, I’m at a point in my collecting where I’m rarely hunting through boxes for a specific issue of a book. Nowadays I sift through boxes looking for anything that might catch my eye. Often I leave a convention or a shop with old educational/ promotional comics, a few cheap and beat up Jimmy Olsens, or a Charlton war anthology. My interest in comics has become such that I’ll pick up and read almost anything if the price is right. It’s taken me some considerable time to get to this point. Ten or fifteen years ago I would never have considered picking up some of the books I’ve gotten in the last year. I’ve become one of those guys that reads something just because it’s a comic, and it’s bound to show me something I haven’t seen before.

Case in point: Charlton’s Love Diary #94. The last time friend-of-the-blog-rakmO and I went on a comics run, I picked this up along with that Batman vs. Yeti hybrid and a few other books; it was in a buy five, get one free box. I like to think that this is my free book. I was drawn in by the cover. I mean who doesn’t like covers that talk to you? Who could read this cover and not want to find out why she’s a, “snake.”

There were three stories in the book and they’re the sort of stories Stephanie Meyer* would write if she weren’t an ardent feminist.

1. “My secret love” – A beach bunny has to choose between a reckless Sonny Bono look-a-like and a Steve Rogers look-a-like who is a by the book young highway patrolman. Since it’s written by someone’s dad, naturally she chooses the cop. Here’s the twist: she doesn’t tell her friends she’s dating a cop because she’s afraid they’ll murder him.

2. “In love again” – Boy marries girl, parents threaten to beat them both senseless. Annulment occurs. Time marches on. Bearded man reconnects with girlish woman.

3. “Manhater” – This is the one to which the cover refers. Because all of the men in her life are such poor role models,  Eve becomes a serial dater. That is until she meets Jeremy. He’s sensitive, funny… in a dad sort of way… and he talks to Eve instead of hitting her or shoving his tongue down her throat. Friends try to warn old Jerr off of Eve and her wicked ways to no avail. The story ends with love… true love.

So the stories were pretty indoctrinating, silly and fluffy… and probably written by a 40 something, pipe smoking dad. That’s only one of the reasons I love this book and will work to find more. The ads are something else! It never occurred to me that comic book ads could ever be targeted to girls/ women, and yet the entire book is slanted that way. There are ads for record sets and posters of David Cassidy, there’s an ad for t-shirts with girly sorts of images, and an ad for jewelry made from silverware. My money’s worth was found in the ad for Pursettes Tampons. It reads a bit like a Hostess ad but with almost no production value. Read and enjoy below.

My collecting just took an unexpected turn for the weird.

*for those that might not know, Stephanie Meyer wrote the Twilight series. That Gloria Steinem hasn’t issued a Feminist fatwa on Meyer is a mystery for the ages.

Quarter Bin Treasure Chest

One of my favorite things about cons is back-issue diving.  And one of my favorite things about that is discovering insane old Silver Age books.  I thought I’d share a few I found at Denver Comic Con.  None of these were a quarter, but they were all under $2.

I’ve never read a Blackhawk comic before, but that’s just Silver Age madness!

The superhero boom is obviously upon us!

I thought this was the same character from our, but I was mistaken.

A note from the editor right on the cover? Always a good sign.

I don’t have to explain why this is awesome, right? It’s Superman and he Guardians!

It gets even crazier when Hitler shows up! Oh damn, I ruined it.

Giant robot? Check. Creepy old-school sci-fi name? Double-check.


Secret identity hijinx!

Denver ComicCon, Day 3

Yup, there’s a TARDIS.

At this point on Sunday Denver ComicCon has wrapped up, bringing to an end a very, VERY successful convention.

I’ve mentioned a few times that the con is a benefit for Comic Book Classroom, but I don’t think I’ve stressed how many kids were running all over the floor.  It’s a great thing to see, kids coming up in comicdom, after so many years of comics being stuck in the lowbrow end of the entertainment spectrum.  And to that end it’s been such a family-friendly show, deliberately so. 

The other interesting thing about DCC is not only is it extremely comic-focused, it’s very CREATOR-focused.  As expected there were dealers about, and I managed to find some great bargains, but it wasn’t wall-to-wall back issues.  I’d say a good 40-50% of the floor space was filled with comic creators.  That leads to a much different vibe, because with less retailers I think there were more people TALKING about comics than other shows where we all slide from longbox to longbox with our pull lists, hardly taking time to speak to the people around us other than comparing scores.

Dalek Boy, Doctor Who Boy, Cyber MAN.

It’s a strange thing to say, since I spend roughly 40% of my waking hours thinking about comics, but I still left the convention center each night even MORE enthusiastic about comics.  (It doesn’t hurt that the Cellar Door anthology that FotB Andrew and I contributed to was out and available at the show, but it’s not even the main reason.)

With a little more time to let it sink in, I’m sure I’ve got some suggestions for how to make DCC better for next year, but it’s worth noting that the Denver Post is reporting that attendance could hit 20,000 for the weekend, making it the second-largest opening for a convention either.  (They also did the legwork and found out the floorspace is 100,000 square feet, so thanks to them for taking that off my plate.)  And as the con was wrapping up, the DCC organizers made the announcement that will keep guests talking about the Denver’s con throughout the next year: Stan Lee has been confirmed as a guest for 2013.

I’ve got to say I’m exhausted, and all I’ve done is work a couple 4-hour shifts and wandering the floor for three days.  The organizers, who have been living and breathing this con for the past 3 years must be ready to collapse.  But I hope the exhilaration of pulling of such a massive undertaking keeps them going long enough to grab a pint of Fantastic Pour and rest on their laurels for a bit.  But just for a little while, because we’re going to do this all over again in 12 months.  See you there.

This is my favorite picture from the con.

Denver ComicCon, Day 1


I not sure why the bear is so angry…

After months of anticipation, we’re finally here: the first day of the inaugural Denver ComicCon.  I admit, I was a bit worried.  Ever since I moved out to the Mile High City, I’ve felt it’s the right size for a good comic convention.  Sure, there are a few hotel cons every year, but those are hit or miss.  The bad ones are REALLY bad, and even the good ones can just be back issues with the occasional local creator.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that — I love those cons! — but I’ve always thought Denver could support more.

While I hoped for the best, I wasn’t really sure what to expect on a Friday night — or at all — from the convention.  Would guests come?  Would talent come?  Let me say, whatever my expectations were they were far exceeded. 

We got off to a bit of a rocky start.  There’s little signage in the lobby, so it’s not obvious where to go for anything, from tickets to the convention floor entrance.  However, it just took a little wandering to find the ticket line.  I bought my ticket in advance, but the line to claim wristbands for entrance took about 45 minutes to work through.  It moved at a brisk clip, but if tomorrow is anything as busy as I expect (rumor has it the con has sold out of all 10,000 Saturday passes) there should really be twice as many ticket booths, along with line guides to make knowing where to go a bit easier.*

Fortunately it moves quickly.

When walking into the main hall the first thing you see is the Comic Book Classroom, a program that helps get kids into comics and reading.  This is really as it should be, since CBC is the beneficiary of all con proceeds, and the intent of the con is to make the kids the stars of the show.  And it works great!  The kids are front and center, drawing, making Captain America shields and other arts and crafts, and sitting next to other family-friendly creators.

Doin’ it for the kids of Comic Book Classroom.

Moving further in…Well, it’s everything you’d expect!  Not as big as a San Diego, obviously, but certainly bigger than the sadly-defunct Big Easy Comic Con (the only other “major” convention I’ve been to).  Everything is logically and easily laid out.  Artists Alley takes up most of the center-rear of the floor**, with celebrity signings along the back wall.

Jason Aaron will sign a LOT of comics for you! Also, be super-cool.

Off to either side are the dealers, everything from anime to steampunk gear to Star Wars squadrons to toy and comic dealers.  Oh, and the guy selling replicas of Batman ’66 gear, which I’m afraid to say may be my splurge of the con.

What I found most reassuring was the focus on comics.  Sure there were media and game people there, but comics really are the focus.  And to that end, there were far more creators of indie books and artists than even back issue dealers.  I find that somewhat disappointing as a collector, but exciting as a lover of the medium.  The floor felt more excited and engaged and everyone I spoke to was really excited about COMICS, rather than snagging an exclusive toy or catching a movie preview.

But because it is so heavily comic-focused there are some really top-notch creators present this weekend.  I got a chance to meet Jason Aaron (Ghost Rider, Wolverine, X-Men), Ben Templesmith (Fell, Wormwood), and Paul Horn (Cool Jerk).  Also present and on the to-meet list for the rest of the weekend: Mike Allred (Madman, X-Statix, I, Zombie), Gail Simone (Secret Six), James O’Barr (The Crow, ’cause I’m a secret goth) and Ethan Nicolle (Axe Cop!) 

And as I stagger to bed to try to prepare for another full day of conventioneering, I sleep soundly knowing the gaming tables will be running all night long.

Pretty remarkable costumes on the floor.

* I admit, I say this with a bit of self-interest.  I’ll be working the crowd control line tomorrow afternoon!

** Behind the Rock Band stage and the famous cars of stage and screen display.  Pictures to come, don’t you worry.

A New Project

I’ve done a little shilling for the Denver Comic Con in these pages lately (June 15-17, get your tickets now!), but there’s something else comic-related happening this summer.  Cellar Door, a Denver literary anthology, is releasing an all-comic issue timed to come out around the convention.  Titled (and themed) “Ancient,” you’ll see work by some great and committed Denver-area cartoonists.  If you’re able to track down a copy, you’ll also see a 9-page story titled “What REALLY Happened to the Seven Wonders of the World,” drawn by FotB Andrew with words by me.  It’s a humorous (hopefully!) look at what destroyed mankind’s greatest engineering marvels, and if nothing else it will be amazing to look at. 

There’s also a Kickstarter going on to help defray printing costs, which is worth checking out for a little more backstory on the project and the opportunity to snag a copy once it comes out, potentially for less than cover price.

If you’re even remotely curious what happens when we don’t even attempt to come close to honesty keep your eyes peeled, we’d appreciate your support!