"If Only I Could Convince BEVERLY That He's As IMPORTANT As I Know He Is." COMICS FOLK! Sometimes It's 65 Pictures For 65 Years!

It's the 7th October 2015 and that means it's been 65 years of the chunky wee thermodynamic miracle Howard Victor Chaykin! Today is his day, so I'm going to shut my yapper and below the break you can feast your eyes on 65 images culled from The Chaykin Section in The Kane Garage Archives. Raise your root beers high and let's all drink to another 65 years of the amazing Mr. Chaykin!  photo HeaderB_zpswlcrwrik.jpg

THE SHADOW by Chaykin, Bruzenak & Wald

Anyway, this...

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  Happy Birthday, Mr. Chaykin and thanks for all the - COMICS!!!

Happy Birthday, America!

Sometimes I think the world would be a better place if every country took a whole weekend off to high-five itself. As humble as ever I'm sure I speak for every man, woman and child in the United Kingdom when I say there are no hard feelings from over The Pond . So, after you folk have read Brian Hibbs' important update on his Graphic Novel Clubs below, well...kick off your Sunday shoes and cut Footloose! Put that needle in the groove and let The Loggins loose! America loves its Loggins! Happy Birthday, America! FOOTLOOSE! photo IndepDayB_zpshgx8ygwk.jpg Art by Russ Heath, an American.

"They've Set Fire To The Universe!! Look Out! LOOK OUT!" COMICS! Sometimes We Celebrate The Arrival On Earth of Jack Kirby!!

Yes, it's that time of the year again! The time of the year when we celebrate the eternal magic of the man born on this day in 1917 as Jacob Kurtzberg; a man more commonly known to all as Jack Kirby. I'll shut my fat yapper now because this is his day and so without any further ado here are a selection of "cosmic"!!! images that just boggle my mind every time I see 'em. Many happy returns then to the man whose physical form has gone but whose genius transcends mortality. KIRBY!!!  photo Kirby05C_zpsfff296b0.jpg

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He was born on 28th August 1917.

He was Jacob Kurtzberg.

He was Jack Kirby.


He was the King of - COMICS!!!


All images taken from issues of the 1976-7 comic book series 2001:A Space Odyssey(*) published by Marvel Comics. All pencils by Jack Kirby with letters and inks by "Mighty" Mike Royer.

(*) Based on concepts of the MGM movie by Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke.


PEOPLE! Sometimes He's Not Here To Blow Out His 96 Candles But We Lit 'em Anyway!

Ninety six years ago on this date Jacob Kurtzberg (1917 - 1994) was born. Life may harry me and life may hurry me but I will always find time to celebrate the birth of the man who became Jack Kirby; the man who became a King! The King of COMICS!!!  photo Kbirth002PIPE_zps79235240.jpg Anyway, this...

So, today I will be celebrating Jack Kirby's 96th birthday by reading a Jack Kirby comic. Hardly an unusual occurrence there. Unusually though, I will also be donating $9.60 to The Kirby Family endorsed charity The Hero Initiative. It is a worthwhile and fine charity which aids members of the comic community who are in need. Howard Victor Chaykin is on the Disbursement Committe, and that's just one awesome thing about The Hero Iniative.

So, on this day, Jack Kirby's birthday, I will send them something in remembrance and celebration of Jack Kirby. You may wish to do so also. You may not wish to do so. I'm just throwing that out there. I'm not expecting anyone to do anything because I'm not asking anyone to do anything. I thank Tom Spurgeon of The Comics Reporter for bringing this notion to my attention.

I do hope, however, that you take this day to particularly relish the medium to which Jack Kirby contributed so very, very much. The medium of - COMICS!!!

And now, at the risk of transforming from The Count Arthur Strong of bloggers to The Greg Land of bloggers, may I humbly present a visual (and typically sedate, low key and altogether dignified) tribute to Jack Kirby? Well, I'm going to:

(All images repurposed from SILVER STAR (2007, £25.99,VERY GOOD!) published by Image Comics. Except for photographs which I swooped in and stole like a magnificently amoral bird of prey.)

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Happy Birthday, Jack Kirby!

Happy Birthday to The King of COMICS!!!

(Unprofessional Behaviour Continuation Notice: Circumstances once more dictate that I shall be unable to post for a short while. After that I shall endeavour to regain some semblance of regularity and aim for more diverse content. I'm talking about my posts not, you know, something else there. I know, sorry. Until then; be well and be happy!)

"Clean Living." PEOPLE! Sometimes It's 62 Years of Howard Victor Chaykin!

Just a quick Happy Birthday to Howard Victor Chaykin who is 62 years of age this day! Photobucket Cheers!

A slightly cheekier Birthday greeting below the break.

Happy Birthday Howard Victor Chaykin!


I will MAKE them honour you!

Best wishes from JohnK (UK) and the whole of COMICS!!!

Edited three panels from THE SHADOW: BLOOD AND JUDGEMENT (1986)by Howard Victor Chaykin, Ken Bruzenak & Alex Wald. Rude panel from LEGEND (2005)by Howard Victor Chaykin, Russ Heath, Rob Leigh & Wildstorm FX.

(Hey Kids! Have I told you about LEGEND? Oh boy, just you wait, kids. Just you wait. It's bonkers!)

"WAM!" PEOPLE! A King is Born!

On August 28th 1917 Jacob Kurtzberg was born. As Jack Kirby he changed the shape of comics. You may have heard of him. This time out I take a back seat and let Jack Kirby speak for himself in the language in which he was most fluent; the language of  COMICS!!! Photobucket

But first, Jack Kirby's granddaughter has a message for his fans HERE.

And now our Feature Presentation:

Jack Kirby (1917 - 1994)


All images were sourced from:


JACK KIRBY'S THE LOSERS By Jack Kirby, Mike Royer and D. Bruce Berry DC Comics, $39.99 (2009)

Happy Birthday, Jack Kirby (1917 – 1994) for you are forever EXCELLENT!!! (With apologies to the work of Clive James.)

"Beverly Grove was a STAR!" Comics! Sometimes they are mucky.

On 7th October 1950 Howard Victor Chaykin was born. Belated Happy Birthday wishes to Howard Victor Chaykin! On 8th October 2011 I wrote this about a book he did in 1988. On...look will somebody answer that dingdanged phone! Photobucket This time I decided to talk about one of his books that's in print, after all those Mai Tais don't buy themeselves, people!

Black Kiss Story and Art By Howard Victor Chaykin Lettering by Ken Bruzenak Dynamite Entertainment B&W Hardback, 136pp, £14.99/$24.99

Newly paroled jazz aficionado Cass Pollack (a Chaykin everyschmuck par excellence) lets his little head do the thinking and just may not live to regret it as the Hell beneath the veneer of Los Angeles licks its lips and prepares to give him a very black kiss indeed.

BLACK KISS was originally published as a 12 issue series by Vortex Comics in 1988. In 1988 Howard Victor Chaykin's mighty 4 year run of comics awesome (AMERICAN FLAGG! (1984), THE SHADOW (1986), TIME (SQUARED) (1987), BLACKHAWK (1987))had allowed his career to build to escape velocity. The magical world of Television beckoned but before Howard Victor Chaykin left comics to produce shows about stuff like a man with a special car and a crime solving coroner chimp he had time for one last fond farewell to the medium that had made him the man he was. And by "fond farewell" I mean "kick in the nuts".

The series was a pricey affair with high production values, a low page count and, clearly, complete creative freedom for the author. Given this freedom, even rarer back then than it is now, it is interesting to note that Howard Victor Chaykin chose to produce what is commonly perceived as a smut comic. Several issues came not only bagged but also with a black board protecting the quailing eyes of consumers from the artfully designed and stylishly executed erotica of the covers. There was much talk of censorship and ratings in the air at the time and it seems Howard Victor Chaykin’s response was to do all the things you weren't supposed to do and see how they liked them apples.


"Well, nobody's perfect..."

Howard Victor Chaykin is on record as saying that he has made more money from BLACK KISS than any other project. I guess people liked those apples just fine because, hey, forbidden fruit is always the sweetest. Another reason Howard Victor Chaykin produced a work full of people sticking bits of themselves into other people is probably because that’s the way Howard Victor Chaykin rolls. This is the kind of guy who would, around that time, spend a good portion of an interview opining about what was wrong with porn films and how that could be corrected. I’d take that as indication that Howard Victor Chaykin has high standards even where his lower entertainment is concerned. Other interpretations are possible. Given all that it is less surprising that he produced BLACK KISS and that the result is so superbly executed.

And superbly executed it is. PredictablyHoward Victor Chaykin doesn't stint on the craft one iota; everything that made the previous 4 years of his work so innovative and damned enjoyable is present and correct. Examples? I have examples. I came prepared. Right from the off we have a page consisting of repeated panels of a phone/answerphone on a tabletop. There’s some action involving a cat running through the panels and some hilariously dirrrty OTT chat action. That’s all misdirection though. The real information is in the static elements of the panel. Because Howard Victor Chaykin understands that if its on the page it should fulfill a function. You’ll see that panel a lot through the book but it isn't until you close the book that you’ll realize how much of what you read was contained in it. I love that panel.


Then there’s the dialogue. This is pretty much dialogue-driven but unlike today’s dialogue-drunk drivers Howard Victor Chaykin understands and respects dialogue with regard to the work he’s producing. Through the use of well-honed and finely buffed wordplay information is conveyed effectively and concisely. Yes, the big thing about Howard Victor Chaykin's dialogue is its efficiency and polish. The things people say are important whether in revealing their character or crucial plot points yet they are also often important in how they disguise the same information. As with the phone panels the words are on the page because they fulfill a function. If it’s there whether in word, image or a combination thereof it’s because it needs to be. There’s no fat on these bones. Or on Howard Victor Chaykin's. Have you seen that guy, he's 61 and he hasn't stopped dancing yet!


"You've got some mouth on you, lady."

As usual the plot is a sliver of a thing but as usual Howard Victor Chaykin uses elision, obfuscation, brisk pacing and sheer overload to keep you disorientated and guessing until all comes clear precisely and exactly when he wants it to. Basically he replaces complication with confusion but he does it so well and in such a way that the mental pleasure when all parts unite is quite delightful. It helps that while the plot is straightforward his treatment is not. Sure, BLACK KISS is a smut comic but it is many other things beside. It's a musky mélange of smut, crime, horror, conspiracy thriller and screwball comedy. There’s a certain level of artistry alone in simply keeping such disparate elements from working against each other but there’s another level of artistry involved in finding the common ground that retains each genre’s individuality so that there is never a moment of jarring transition. Until the end when he purposely allows the various genres to collapse into a gang-bang al a the end of the porn he is so effectively imitating.

Oh, don't put your pants back on, it's fiesta of filth alright it's just lots of other things too. There's something for everybody's inner freak here except maybe scat fans. They'll just have to make do with their Cleo Laine and Johnny Dankworth albums I guess. Structurally it lures you in innocuously enough with some naughty role-play then proceeds to progressively up the ante until by the end while sex is involved, well, if this is the kind of situation you flick and tickle your mind with late at night then might I suggest the number of a trained mental health professional? Up until then it’ll probably make the old bald man cry more surely than an honest review of NEW AVENGERS.


"That point one issue was a real return to fo-RaaarRRLpphhh!"

Also I may be forcing this one in but I think BLACK KISS is About Stuff. You all know I have a weakness for stuff being About Stuff and her it is again raising it's ugly head. During the book Pollack’s path is clearly one of expanding awfulness. Like the common perception of the addicts fall. A bit like starting out with the innocuous airbrushed ladies of MAXIM and before you know it waking up one morning to find your PC full of scat videos and the FBI outside your house in a white van. I think there’s a reason Cass Pollack is a recovering substance abuser is all I’m saying. I'm certain I'm not driving too hard or deep when I say that the relationship between Beverly and Dagmar is a scabrously witty attack on those who let their influences overpower their individuality. Y'know, like those fans who lack any kind of self awareness and are constantly banging on about their object of adoration. Hey, don't look at me, there's no way I'm having surgery to look like HVC, it'd require having my shins removed at least and I hear that smarts like chili paste on your woo-woo.


"Everyone's a critic!"

Its not a one man show though. Ken Bruzenak is also here on these pages and Ken Bruzenak is at it again, leaving most other comics letterers in the dust. His usual delightful design sense is present but more sparsely than usual. As though in compensation Howard Victor Chaykin gives him two moments that depend on the lettering to succeed. Well, depend on the lettering and the fact that you aren't too concerned with what’s happening in your pants to be paying attention. The lesser of these involves a character, a cat and a cigarette providing a neat summation of said characters less appealing qualities. The other involves a character and a fly. This latter scene occurs early in the book and  is an important indicator of a character's true nature as well as being a homage to a certain novel about a certain count. No, not Monte Cristo. I'm trying to avoid spoilers, okay!


"Was it "on" or "off"?"

Ultimately talking about BLACK KISS without revealing too much is pretty trying. In fact almost as trying as I'm sure you found reading this far but I hope I've succeeded in at least suggesting that its far more than a jazz rag and the pleasures of craft contained within are more lasting and rewarding than those resulting from a quick hand shandy. BLACK KISS judged as comics is VERY GOOD! don't let the schlongs and profanity put you off.

Howard Victor Chaykin, eh? Happy Birthday!  Here's to the next 61 years!

This Man, This Birthday!

Jack Kirby was born on August 28th 1917. Happy Birthday, Jack Kirby.  Pour a soda pop, cut a slice of cake and put on a funny hat (a crown, perchance) as I talk about a Kirby comic after the break.


To celebrate the man and his creative life I have chosen to take a look at a comic reprinted in:

JACK KIRBY’S THE LOSERS By Jack Kirby (w/a) with Mike Royer & D Bruce Berry on inks and lettering and Joe Kubert and Ernie Chan providing 5 covers With an introduction by Neil Gaiman (DC Comics, $39.99)

The particular issue I have chosen is OUR FIGHTING FORCES Featuring THE LOSERS #160. The story it contains is called “IVAN”. This is an atypical Kirby story in that it is overt in its message but a typical Kirby story in that it is EXCELLENT! Kirby’s work on THE LOSERS is often overlooked and this is probably due to several reasons: Kirby was assigned THE LOSERS in order to meet his page rate as his FOURTH WORLD books were quietly cancelled one by one, Kirby appears to have had no great affection for the characters (I don’t think he ever mentions the fact that Capt. Storm has a wooden leg) and there was just so much of Jack Kirby's work that was worthy of note sometimes recognition can be late in arriving. But Kirby’s work on THE LOSERS is notable in that it demonstrates his consummate facility for adapting the genre to the needs of his imagination. Looked at from a distance these are war comics but on closer inspection, the kind afforded by actually reading them, they are expert exercises in what would later be termed “genre blending”. In this volume there are war stories but these war stories are also ghost stories, love stories, homages and romps. And one of these stories is so brutal and unflinching that it scarcely seems credible that Jolly Jack Kirby did the deed. And it’s all the more powerful for being so. That story is “IVAN”.


IVAN” opens with an introduction to the titular character at his work. Ivan is a member of the Allegemeine SS and his work on this day is revealed to be the execution of civilians. Ivan is a good worker and promises to “…cut them down like RIPE wheat”. There then follows the customary Kirby two-page splash. Contrary to Kirby comic custom the image is not one of cosmic beauty but one of human atrocity. The startled reader’s eye is compelled to follow the arc of the lancing fire of the off page machine gun. To follow it from the bottom left of the first page where bodies have piled contorted in death to the centre of the spread where bodies crumple in ugly spasms and on to the upper right of the final page where the fire has yet to reach to those still standing frozen forever in their final seconds.

So we see that Ivan is a cog in the great machine of Nazi Germany. The species shaming short-term success of The Third Reich could not have afflicted the 2oth Century without people such as Ivan. For one Ivan alone could not do this. When the machine gun fails Ivan’s co-worker steps up and steps in to finish the job close up. True, he is not Ivan but Ivan is a type and he is of that type. And when the machines of death fail the Ivans will always pick up the slack.


But what is an Ivan? Jack Kirby shows us as the tale unfolds. Ivan is a resident of the village in which he enacts his carnage. The people he killed today were probably people he knew. And tomorrow he will kill more of his own people. Later we are told that not even the children will be spared. Not even the children. But his victims knew Ivan before the Nazis came, now Ivan has been able to reinvent himself. He has a uniform, he has weaponry and he has power. But only a little power because Ivan is a little man in a big machine. Disguised as German Officers and their orderlies The Losers are staying in Ivan’s home and Ivan’s obsequious attitude towards them makes it plain that he knows his place.

It is a happy place for Ivan. The people he kills could be in that place too but they have chosen not to be. It is this choice that dooms them. By making this choice, a choice so easy for Ivan, these people have brought this upon themselves. They are fools. If they are not where Ivan is then they have failed and in failing are beneath contempt. And so Ivan’s anger and resentment are rightfully directed downward. Literally so as we find that the home’s true owner is secreted in the basement along with some other refugees. Ivan has promised these people safe passage in return for valuables. All the things of luxury we see stored in Ivan’s home are the result of other people’s efforts. People now at Ivan’s mercy. People who need to learn the new rules.


Ivan has taken these goods from his victims via an oral contract to ensure their safety. Ivan has no interest in fulfilling this contract as his only interest is self-interest. Ivan’s superiors have no problem with Ivan’s behaviour because it serves their interests. The refugees have no choice but to trust Ivan. They are not fools, they are not idiots but this is all they have. To trust Ivan to fulfil his obligations is to hope against hope. And people are ever hopeful that this time it will be different, this time the word will be kept, this time some humanity will be shown. But Ivans do not need to keep their word once the commodities have been amassed. All that matters is gain. All that matters is what matters to Ivan. Ivan will do this because Ivan can do this, the people he is doing it to do not matter as people only as sources of enrichment. By submitting to this treatment they are deserving of this treatment. And Ivan is content to give it to them despite their lack of gratitude.


In the end Ivan reaps what he sowed on the very first page. The sequence which introduced him is repeated but now the POV is reversed. Here is elegance. Here is genius. We see the scene as though we were Ivan behind his tripod mounted oiled and cocked spandau. If we are there then where is Ivan? He is now pleading and unbelieving amongst today's batch of "wheat". Unlike his earlier victims, stoic in the face of the inevitable, Ivan beseeches us to recognises our similarities, to make it different this time, to show a little humanity.


This is no victory. It is too late to help Ivan’s previous victims and already there’s another Ivan behind the machine gun. And this time it is us. Tomorrow more “wheat” will be “cut down”. For cogs are cogs and cogs are replaced and the machine never notes their passing. And, no, there is no satisfaction to be gleaned from Ivan’s final cry, only horror at its truth. Ivan is, indeed, one of us. Ivan is a human and like all humans Ivan hopes against hope that this time it will be different. But as long as there are Ivans it never will be. In the world that is coming there will be plenty of Ivans. The name “Ivan” means “Yahweh is merciful”. Let us hope so.


"IVAN" is a tale informed by experience. Jack Kirby served in World War 2. By all accounts Jack Kirby took the lives of others as soldiers do. When Jack Kirby returned home he was not unmarked. Ever after his sleep would be disturbed by nightmares of what he saw and what he had had to do. Ever after his work would be informed by one crucial purpose: to ensure that these things would never happen again. That no one would have to do what he had had to do. He dressed it up in colourful bombast but his warnings were there beneath. And one day he created a story which laid it out plain and clear. One day he took the gloves off and created "IVAN". Jack Kirby saw the worst of us and despite everything Jack Kirby never gave up on us. Never.


Image from Kamandi #1 by Jack Kirby & Mike Royer (DC Comics)

And that’s why Jack Kirby will always be EXCELLENT!


"A warrior I have been Now It is all over. A hard time I have."

Song Of Sitting Bull (p.313, Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee by Dee Brown, 1991, Vintage.)

Jack Kirby was born on August 28th, 1917.

Happy Birthday, Jack Kirby (1917 - 1994)!


Why am I starting to feel old?

Internet time is compressed and strange, and it is a whole lot of new all of the time, and so when things last it feels a little weird, doesn't it?  

It was ten years ago today that I started posting openly to the web using the Savage Critic name -- that was on comixexperience.com, and something broke that I hadn't noticed until a week ago, and I don't know how to fix it and anyway, that site will be revamped (and hopefully properly restored) sometime in June-ish, so sorry you can't go back and look at Public post #1 at this very second.


I had posts on Doug Pratt's long-gone Comics & Animation Forum on CompuServe (Wheeee, dial-up connections!) under the name maybe 4-5 years before that, but since that was only for CompuServe members, and, anyway there's no way to search those to day that I know about, I don't know if I can count any of that ? Either way, I'm one of the older (f not oldest) "named" internet comics commentators. Rich Johnston changed names 3 or 4 times since then; I believe I predate Johanna's Comics Worth Reading... who else am I missing?


Things were different then -- this whole name thing started from me doing one-sentence-or-less reviews for pretty much every single comic that shipped each week. It was on a bet. I'd lose that bet today (there's more new material than I have hours, in an average week of 2011). I had an awful lot of one-word reviews as time went on, I recall.


Now, The Savage Critics is  collection of voices -- you probably don't like how often any of us post, but since I think total donations to the site last year were like $20, maybe, so I'm not so sure that you really get to complain, hoss -- and I want to thank all of my co-voices over this last public decade. Most especially Jeff Lester without whom which there's probably no chance you'd be reading ANY of this (what did I know from setting up websites?), and who is something like 9 3/4 years of talking about comics on this site. Plus he's been leading weekly (!) podcasts for longer than I want to think about, and everyone should love Jeff....


...love him....all....night....long....


(Wow, I could hear him shudder, all the way from over here!)


I also want to super-thank Mr. Graeme McMillan and the lovely Kate McMillan (who keeps control of the site for me) -- I think it's actually Graeme's world of comics, and we just live in it... I mean, seriously, is there a website you don't see a post from G on at some point? I'm not wrong, am I? He's the only man who is on Robot 6 AND Blog @ Newsarama, right?


And I want to thank in no particular order the rest of my fellow Critics through the years: Jog and Abhay and Tucker and Douglas and Sean and David and Chris and Johanna and Diana and even the late and lamented Dick Hyacinth who made three lovely posts and then never said another word since, or even responded to email. We miss you, Dick! ET phone home!


And, I guess this is the place in the speech where I thank you, The Readers? I mean, clearly, I like the sound of my own voice, but if other people didn't say "Hey, I kinda like it, too", then I'd be a lot quieter, I think. So, thank you, the silent ones as well as the ones who take the time to comment, I wouldn't bother if I didn't  think I entertained you.


So yeah ten years, here's to another ten and whoo-freakin'-hoo to comics, right?



Comix Experience is 21 today

About 3 hours from now, 21 years ago, I walked down the block (I literally only lived a block away back then) and threw on the lights for the very first time. As I recall, we made $56 the first day open -- I was so proud!

I was 21 years old myself when I opened the store, which means from now on, I've been doing this longer than I haven't been doing it. Jinkies!

I'm wearing the teal and pink CE shirt today, to celebrate -- well, in my defense, it WAS the 1980s.

Plus, Ben lost his second tooth today, so it's a real day for milestones!


20 Years of Experience!

First off, the new TILTING AT WINDMILLS is up at Comic Book Resources -- it is all about the ComicsPRO meeting from last week, and also has a look inside Diamond's new warehouse.

But this week's bigger news is that on Wednesday, April 1st, it is the 20th anniversary of Comix Experience.

Whoa. Man, it sure don't feel like 20 years.

On 4/1, we're going to hold a food drive for the San Francisco Food Bank. If you bring a can of food in as a donation, then you will get 20% off absolutely anything in the store.

And, yes, Wednesday is New Comics Day; and, yes, that discount will apply to that week's new comics as well, so, y'know, it is kind of a good deal.

The discount will ONLY be given with a food donation, so do make sure you bring one, otherwise you'll have to run next door to the market and have to buy one, and you'll probably feel a little silly.

Anyway, I do hope to see you there, and I would certainly appreciate it if you can help spread the word. I'd very much like to have the big food barrel all filled up when they come to take it back the next day!

Finally, speaking personally, I know that I will be happy to take any and all donations of 20 year old scotch whiskey, and I'll be just as happy to share it with people who show up as well, so we can drink and have a good time too, as well as helping out a great charity.

Hope to see you there on Wednesday, April 1st, at Comix Experience!


Happy Birthday, CE!

Ugh, I've come down with some sort of horrible cold (thanks, Ben!), and I'm sitting here shivering barely able to put two words together, and trying desperately to not nod off at the counter until Carissa comes in in an hour, so I'm going to push off the return of Around the Store until tomorrow (I hope?)

But I did want to note that today is the 19th anniversary of Comix Experience!

Not the state I want to be in for it, but you take what you can get....

OK, back to nodding off...


Don't Tug

It's February 29th, Leap Year Day, which can only mean one thing: It's Superman's birthday! Superman is, of course, 70 years old this year (ACTION #1 had an June, 1938 cover date, so that would have shipped in April, I think), but sometime in the 1970s it was decided that he was a Leap Year baby.

I asked Mark Waid if there was a citation in the comic books to this, and he replied: "I know it was in one of E. Nelson Bridwell's/Mort Weisinger's letter columns, a jokey answer about how Superman could have been an adult in 1938 and still look so young. Nelson 'cemented' the date in the 1976 Super DC Calendar from Warner Books."

I had a memory of reading a comic story, and Kurt Busiek says that SUPERMAN #249 deals with the birthday, but I don't have a copy of that to look up the details.

The Time Magazine article on Superman's 50th anniversary (3/14/88) also cites that as his birthday, but all of the links I found to that article 404ed.

Either way, mathematically, that kind of can't be right -- '38 wasn't a leap year, '36 and '40 were, but if we were to go with the earlier date, then Superman would be 18 today (kinda)

Either way, I love the idea of it, even if there's very little canon or facts to back it up, so Happy Birthday Superman!


Happy Birthday, Ben!!

He's Four Years old today -- how does the time fly? I know I have to upload some new pics soon, but things have been hectic.

Nor are things helped by what happened this morning.

I opened the store and was sitting down to my breakfast when I heard a pitter-pat sound. Um, wtf...?

Oh, water coming from the ceiling. Oh, the pitter-pat is becoming a gush gush gush. Oh, shit, it's raining!

Yep, from the hotel above us. Again. Water is shooting out from the ceiling, cascading along the track lighting, with not just a drip drip, but with the force of a garden hose. Its from a toilet, of course, so the water isn't exactly, um, pure.

I run to the hotel, scream that there's a problem, and rush back to the store to get buckets out, and clear what I can. It's almost Rube Goldberg-like -- put a bucket over here, new leak springs over there, move something from there, more water comes over here, whee!

I look up, realize that at least five minutes have passed, and rush back to the hotel. "No, really, it's an emergency!"

Brother at the front desk had decided to keep checking out guests, and not to figure out where the leak was coming from, sheesh.

Finally he comes over, ascertains which room it would be, and we find out it was a toilet overflowing in 112. Finally it stops.

Casualties: The Crime rack, and the Women Artists section. Everything on those two racks is GONE. We also lost most of the material on the bottom shelf of the Euro rack, meaning most of the British imports, the bottom shelf of the porno comics (Gasp, no more copies of DILDO, what a loss!!!), and the bottom shelf of the left side of the New Comics Rack, so there go this week's Kids books. On, and PREVIEWS, 3 months worth.

Total damage? Nearly $3300 in product, hurray.

Landlord promises to tile all of the bathrooms in the hotel so this CAN'T happen again. I sure hope so.

Me, my hands are sticky, I need to take a shower before Ben's birthday dinner tonight. Why does shit like this (no pun intended) always happen on something like a birthday day?

I had this whole plan today where I was going to write reviews and stuff, but instead, I'm in cleanup mode.


Retail is FUN!!!


Young at Heart

So, I'm 40 today. Jinkies. (perversely, I was really hoping to make Spurge's birthday list -- but all props to my shared date mates Don McGregor, Brent Anderson... and, uh, PAD's 1000th comic) I don't really feel any different than I did when I was 20, though I never really thought I'd make my 30th birthday, let alone my 40th.

I promised I wouldn't do anything comics related today (I'm going to play video games all afternoon, damn it -- because I never get to screw around during the afternoon), but I did want to mention the best OGN I've read this year: Minx's second release, RE-GIFTERS

There's a perverse number of perceived barriers in creating fiction and art -- things are aimed at one target demographic or another, and we moan and cry that there's just not enough comics for kids or girls or Alsatians.

Minx is DC's effort to target girls, specifically tween girls, but, to me, great comics are great comics regardless of who they're aimed at. Not even comics, really -- some of my favorite fiction or films are "aimed" at a different audience than me -- WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY is in my Top 3 films of all, and THE LITTLE PRINCE is in my Top 10

All of which is a longish and roundabout way of me saying: Tween girls may very well love RE-GIFTERS, I dunno, I'm not a tween girl -- but here's one 40 year old bearded white middle-class male who thought it was a very strong tale, with compelling and vivid characters, dealing with a range of human emotions and human feelings, and still having enough action and drama to entertain virtually any comics reader, regardless of age or sex.

RE-GIFTERS is EXCELLENT work, and is, I think, Eisner-worthy when it comes to next year's awards cycle.

There is just two small problems with it, both of them, I think, editorial more than anything else. The first is the chapter note on page 70 (and, digression: HURRAY for page numbers in books. COmics too often skip them) saying "just skip to page 71", when what I think they mean is page 74. It's probably the 71st page of script, where Carey didn't know with certainty of how many "pre story" pages the book would have.

The second one was the double page sequences on 96/97 and 98/99 where the panels read as two tiers running across both pages. It's the only examples of that technique in the entire book, and they really don't work right because the panel borders are deep within the spine. While you CAN change up the narrative flow from the visual "Z" on a single page, to the wider one on a double page, you have to be super careful about bordering to it is achingly apparent to the reader (POWERS also falls into this trap a lot -- "wait, where is my eye supposed to go?!?"), especially the more "casual" comics reader that Minx is aiming itself at.

But that's all of the complaints I got, and both could probably be pretty easily fixed in later printing.

RE-GIFTERS won't cure cancer, and it isn't anything that you generally haven't read before (there are strains of KARATE KID and BETTY & VERONICA and HEATHERS all in here), but it is done with grace and charm and joy of comics, and even the most minor tertiary character (like, say, Megan's brother Gifford) are really well drawn characters who feel real.

I really really liked this, and I think you'll like it too.

What did YOU think?


(oh, oh, and I forgot to mention: the SAN FRANCISCO BAY GUARDIAN's "Best of the Bay" readers poll is up on line at this link; if you live in SF, or have visited enough to be familiar with it, go and vote, and consider us for "Best Comics Shop")

And now? She can Vote!

Tzipora wonders why I go to bed at 1 am every night, and it's because it is midnight and I'm still typing. BUT, now that it is Midnight, that means it is April 1, which means you're going to read a lot of stupid stuff on the 'net today that you shouldn't believe. This one is real, however.

Comix Experience is 18 years old today. Give her a round of applause!

(you have no idea how old this makes me feel, by the way)