Wait, What? Ep. 43: The Men from W.A.F.F.L.E.

Photobucket Yes, here we are in "deep cover," doing our best to pose as the type of fiends who would cause all kinds of trouble to the Doom Patrol.  Graeme McMillan and I are the men from W.A.F.F.L.E.!

(If the Waffle Window wants to make us official mascots, we'd bothBE  honored and thrilled....)

But since pictures are only worth a thousand words, and we have at least ten times that to offer you every week, here's Wait What, Ep. 43 for you -- everything you'd want to know about our takes on DC's September reboot, with perhaps an Alan Moore imitation or two thrown in.  It's an hour and fifty minutes of end of days frivolity, available to you on iTunes or right here, more or less right now:

Wait, What? Ep. 43: The Men From W.A.F.F.L.E.

Thanks for listening and, as always, we hope you enjoy!

Scott Pilgrim v6 release party: teh awesome!

Well, we didn't have 2000 (!) people like The Beguiling did, but I'm going to go ahead and call our SP6 Midnight Release a pretty epic success. From the moment we opened the doors back up at 10 PM, we were literally wall-to-wall people, which utterly shocked me. I was sort of thinking we might have 20-30 people show up (It's a Monday night, fer cryin' out loud!), and we somewhere between 3 and 4 times that, instead. SP6 leaped to the #1 best-selling book of 2010 so far, in 25 minutes of selling it -- crazy!!

If I had known there would be THAT many people showing, I would have done things a little differently -- like I would have "pre sold" the book, so people could have just picked up their copy at 12:01, instead of having to wait to buy it... but virtually everyone was amazingly cool about the line, so I guess we didn't suck too hard.

All of my pictures came out way blurry (Drinking and shooting doesn't seem to work), so I've shamelessly ganked this pic from Awesome UbiSoft point-person Claudia Ng's Twitter (thanks Claudia for giving up her night to demo the SP game, shipping next month -- sweet sweet game!)

I want to thank everyone who showed up to join in the fun, everyone who brought beer and drinks to share, and our partners -- the Cardboard Tube Fighting League, Alliance Media for the Scott Pilgrim movie tickets (we're hoping to have another round of them later in the week), Ubisoft for bringing the Scott Pilgrim Video Game, Jesse Spencer for the loan of his television, and my amazing staff, Matt and Carissa, for all of their help.

And thank YOU for coming, if you did, because you're teh awesome!!!


Super hot collectible alert!

[Don't forget that we've got Scott Allie and Kevin McGovern on Wednesday from 5-7 -- please try to come!]

In about 20-25 years, when my son is a famous artist, you're going to want to have in your collection a copy of SCOOBY DOO #149, out this week. Why? Because Ben's first published piece of artwork is in there on the letter's page!

I'm actually a little shocked how long it took to run -- I think it was nearly eight months ago that we sent it in, and they run 4-6 pieces from kids every month (can you tell I've been religiously checking every issue as they get released?) -- I'd actually given up hope it was going to run... so that's a lot of art they must be getting sent by kids.

Also, below the jump, if you care about pictures of what Divisadero St. looks like during the construction, you can find some there. I'm told the major drilling/smashing/whatever will be done on Saturday. I pray to God that is so...

Right, this first picture (if I'm linking correctly) is what Divisadero St., in front of the store, looked like at 8 AM this morning, just before the workers started working in earnest. Note that to get onto our block you have to dodge that funky corner thing. Also? The two western lanes (ie, my side of the block) are closed to through traffic while the guys work...

Divisadero at 8 am 10/20

This second one is looking directly out our door this afternoon, as they decided they needed to rip into the sidewalk to fix another sewer line. Joy for me!

October 20, out the Door of CE

This is why I've barely got any writing done the last bit of time -- hard to concentrate with all that noise going on outside!!



Oh Disneyland, my Disneyland

It's a field trip report for those of you who care about such things... find it under the jump... (with some cute pics, as well!)

It was just Ben's birthday, and is my wont, I took him for a trip. Theoretically, these are "father/son" trips, but this year Ben wanted Mama to come along as well, and since it's HIS birthday, we went along with his plan.

Like last year, we headed south for Disneyland (but I'm not set on this being a Disney trip every year... taking ideas for next year already, folks!), but because Mama was with us, we made it a little more of a production number than last year.

Last year it was a "day trip" -- we went in the night before, went straight to bed at a motel, then spent the whole day at the park. THIS year, we left butt-early on Sunday, and came back on the last flight on Monday night, giving us two full park days.

Also, because Mama was with us, we decided to not stay in the cheap motel across the street (I liked the Park Vue Inn... it is a clean place to sleep, about 1/3 of the price, AND it is actually physically closer to the front door of the park), and instead stayed at the Disneyland hotel. The only real advantage there is that the Disneyland hotel has a MUCH nicer pool, with a huge model of Captain Hook's pirate ship, and some water slides (which, uh, Ben can't actually use because he doesn't KNOW how to swim [yet], and we can't slide down in tandem). We made a point of getting in an hour or two at the pool because of that... but it really isn't worth the triple price by itself.

I've noted Ben's affection for Ariel from THE LITTLE MERMAID, which, can I say, it sorta surprises me that she doesn't have a bigger Disneyland presence, as she appeals to both boys AND girls, and she basically single-handedly saved Disney animation in the 1980s...

But she's got a little statue by the (heated!) little kid's pool, so here's the first of the cutie-pie pics....

From CE

(let's hope that worked... thanks to Jeff Lester for putting the pic up and giving me the HTML...)

Anyway, we started the first day at the California Adventure park, the newer of the two parks on the complex. We did this because, mostly, we'd never been there before (either together, or singly). It's alright, and it looks and feels a lot more like a "traditional" amusement park -- it sure felt to me that there were longer walks between rides, and it doesn't have that super-compact feeling that, say, Fantasyland has.

We started the morning by beelining to the... well, I don't remember the proper name, it's something like "Grizzly Mountain White-water rafting", and it's your basic water-coaster, except that it spins a bit, like a whitewater raft. It's fun, but we probably should have done the "Flying over California" ride first thing, because by the time we got back there at the end of our day, the line was WAY too long to wait through. Oh well.

We went over to the pier area, and no one was willing to go on the Sky Wheel with me (chickens!), not even with the non-moving cars. Bah. We did some sort of rise-and-drop ride, which Ben liked, but I was bored with, and Ben couldn't go on the big coaster (height reasons), so we opted for standing in line for the "hot new ride", Toy Story 4-D. That took nearly an hour (ugh!), but it was nearly worth it, as it is a really clever updating of the Buzz Lightyear Astro-Blasters in dland proper. With a 15 minute wait, we'd have done it several times, it was that cool, but the line was really hellish.

Then Ben wanted to go on the Merry-Go-Round, so we did that (it was King Triton themed, about as close to Ariel as we could get), and the ride operator decided, unprompted, that Ben should be "Prince Ben", and he got a little crown and was announced to all of the other kids on the ride. That was nice for the boy, though I noticed when he repeated the ride (no line for a carousel!) that the operator wasn't naming a prince or princess on each go round, so not sure what the thinking was there. Still, nice surprise!

By then we're hot and tired, so its food time. Ugh, this is the real difference in staying two days -- you're basically eating three meals a day on dland property, and they are EXPENSIVE. Yikes, brutally so...!

(I thought Tzipora's burrito was horrific, but my Chinese Chicken Salad was pretty decent)

We then wandered over to the "Bug's Life" area (so much space devoted to such a minor movie!), which is okay-ish, but is really aimed at teeny kids. Ben will be too old for that next year, but this year he was fine with the gentle rides, and the joke of a bumper cars, and especially the "sprinkler park" (which purported to teach you about how irrigation worked in large scale farming, but was mostly an excuse for kids to get SOAKED). It was a hot enough day that by the time we walked to the next section, Ben was mostly dry.

I quite liked the "Hollywood" area, which has this GIANT illusion of a summer day, and a street receding into infinity down it. Must be 60 feet high, and Ben and I talked about how they do that kind of visual trickery for film, so it was almost even educational. Had we more time, I kind of wanted to go into more of the exhibits in the Hollywood area (how animation is done, that kind of thing), but the day was quickly creeping closed, so we limited ourselves to the Monsters Inc ride (a classic "Dark ride", which like all of them, doesn't make a ton of sense if you haven't seen the movie) (Ben hadn't... but wants to now), and the Muppets 3-D thing which is AWESOME. Seriously, that one alone is worth the price of California Adventure admission, and if we had more time, I would have gone through it a few more times. It was both hysterically and injokey, but it also had some of the best 3-D I've ever seen anywhere, as well as environmental things happening in the theater. Great great stuff.

I wanted to do the Twilight Zone "Tower of Terror", but neither Tzipora or Ben did, and I got outvoted, so we headed back to the hotel for some swimtime. Overall, the Hollywood area was the only part of the CA park that I actually *liked*. the rest was fun, but not stellar.

After swimming for a while, the family was bushed. We ordered in some room service (ugh, expensive!), and Tzipora and Ben crashed, hard.

I was still awake enough (it was barely 9!), and Disneyland was open until midnight, so I left them sleeping and went on the prowl with myself. It's fun walking around by yourself in a park at night with your iPod giving you your own soundtrack, I have to say!

I tried to hop back over to CA, to do the TZ thing, but that park closes at 9. Um, OK. Dland it is, then!

Since I knew he was too small for it (4 more inches to go!) I made for the Indiana Jones ride. The first pass through was about a 30 minute wait, but after that a staffer said to me that the ride had a "single rider" option, and I could skip the line if I wanted to do it again. Which I did. Three more times.

Here's a good place to note this: most of the rides (in both parks) SUCK for three people. Why? Because most of the time most rides only seat two across, which meant one of us rode with Ben, while the other was stuck alone. And, OF COURSE, Ben wanted to do most of the rides with D-A-D-D-Y, leaving Tzipora as the third wheel. Not fun for her.

(Indy seats 4 across, which is why they can do single rider to fill in the holes)

So: go to Disneyland in multiples of two if you want to have the best time, is the lesson!

(And, ask for "single rider" on Indy, instead of standing in the line the first time!)

I also did the Haunted Mansion solo (twice), since I just love the Nightmare Before Xmas decorations this time of year.

I missed the fireworks, though, because I was waiting for Indy...

Anyway, we get up early on Monday to pack as much in as we can. Monday was the first time I'd ever personally experienced the Santa Ana winds. HOLY COW. Now I understand how those SoCal wildfires happen. Especially standing at the monorail station in "downtown Disney", it was like being inside of a shotgun, the wind was blowing so hard!

Once in Disneyland itself, it wasn't too bad, but man that monorail station was a rare form of torture!

Last year we went mid-week, and the lines were all pretty small -- except for last year's "hot new ride" (The Finding Nemo Submarine ride), which was at least an hour, and we skipped) -- nothing took more than, say, 15-20 minutes. THIS year we went during Columbus Day, so lines were AT LEAST twice as long. Another lesson learned! We did about 20-25 rides in '07, but this year I think we made a dozen?

Knowing my boy's taste, we stuck mostly to the Jungleland/New Orleans Square area in the morning -- Haunted Mansion (twice!), Pirates of the Caribbean (this is where Tzipora started to say "Wow, this is amazing!"), then Ben and I climbed around the Tarzan treehouse while Tzipora used the Single Rider trick to do Indy. (She was GLOWING after that one!)

Tzipora still wasn't done with indy when we were ready, so I talked the staff into letting me and Ben "do the line" for Indy. The line area is at least as cool as the ride itself, going through an "archeological dig", with runes on the walls, and spike traps and stuff, and even Indy's office in the back, where the normal line doesn't actually go (that's where singles and Handicaps line up). Technically, they were breaking the rules, but we got a personal tour of the Dig, and Ben was happier than a pig in shit, even without being able to do the RIDE. We got through it at about the same time as Tzipora did the ride, so we exited as a family which was nice.

It was hot then, and definitely Sit-Down time, so we did a no-line "Jungle Cruise" (Which Ben adored more than I would have imagined), and also did the Enchanted Tiki Room. It's easy to dismiss those kinds of rides as an adult, but 5 year olds really do seem to love them, plus they rested and refreshed us.

Off to Tomorrowland, where we did Star Tours, and Buzz Lightyear (twice!), and Space Mountain (Tzipora vows she'll NEVER do a coaster again, but Ben loves the mountain just like his Daddy, yes!). If the lines hadn't been so long, all day long, I probably would have tried to do Honey I Shrunk the Audience and the World of Tomorrow, but we were beginning to run short on time.

Tzipora, for some reason, was dead-set on doing Nemo, so I let her and Ben do that while I took a little chill-out time for myself, hurray. They said it was worth the 45 minute line, but I doubt that, myself.

Then it was the big one: Jedi Academy.

This is an outdoors, in-the-round kind of show, where a "Jedi Master" picked 10 or so kids to be "Padawans", and taught them how to use a lightsaber. They do this maybe 5 times a day, so only about 50 kids a day get to participate, out of the 10k+ that go through the park. Last year, I steered around it, but this year Ben was eager to try.

What's cool is that the floor opens up and Darth Vader (and sometimes Darth Maul?) comes out, and "fights" the kids.

Long story short, Ben was lucky enough to be one of the kids picked (it prolly helps that he looks like a young Luke Skywalker... and that his dad was standing behind him waving HIS hands as well!)

Let me tell you, as an American male who was 9 years old when STAR WARS was released (and I saw it 2 weeks-ish pre-release, too, with the print we watched having the Biggs-on-Tatoonie scenes), there was nothing NOTHING that's given me as much as a thrill since seeing Ben BORN, as watching him fight Darth Vader! Yah, boyeeee!

Now you can thrill as well...:

From CE

Our day was approaching done, but we had time for ONE more ride, and we picked a (probably THE) classic Fantasyland ride: Peter Pan. I wanted Tzipora to see a "classic" Dark Ride, and I think we picked well.

Then it was time to start heading back (already?!?!), with us still not making it back to Toon Town for the second year in a row.

FOR SURE *if* we go back again it will be midweek (I'll pull him out of school, if I need to) for the smaller lines mean being able to do a WHOLE lot more rides.

I'd say we had a great time -- Ben certainly did, which is the important thing, and he got to be a Prince, speak to Jack Sparrow, and fight Darth Vader, which was more than was on his agenda in the first place.

Bringing your wife, staying on dland property, staying for two park days, all of that QUADRUPLED expenses from last year, but I have no problem working a little harder to give the little guy that much fun. Next time (IF), we definitely go back to doing it CHEAPLY, however.

That was my trip, and I hope you enjoyed reading about it.


(oh, and Virgin airlines? Very nice carrier. I'd take them again anytime, for sure)

A Titan Passes: RIP Rory Root

I feel like I've just been punched in the chest.

Rory Root, owner of Comic Relief in Berkeley, and a tremendously great friend of mine, just passed away following a brief coma after surgery for a ruptured hernia this weekend.

Rory and I had a lot of shared paths in comics retailing -- we both worked at the Best of Two Worlds chain in the Bay Area. He managed the Berkeley store, and I managed the SF one, before we each opened our own stores, he two years ahead of my own.

Rory was a confidant, a friend, a mentor, and always always ALWAYS, whether I wanted it or not, a sounding board.

There's many a time when the phone would ring after midnight. Nope, not an emergency or anything, just Rory wanting to gab about something relating to comics or retailing. He'd call so often and so late at times that Tzipora half-suspected I was having an affair. "Nope, just Rory calling," I say, and she'd roll over to sleep contented at that.

If Rory had a fault, it was that he was a talkaholic. Man, could the man talk! This is coming from, you understand, a veteran talker myself -- but Rory had me beat six ways to Sunday. The man never met a tangent he didn't like, never had a topic he couldn't opine upon. But it was all good -- because his gabbiness was tempered by wisdom and knowledge. The man (usually!) knew exactly wherefore he was speaking of, and on the few occasions he didn't, he was possessed of enough awareness to ask the questions that would make him MORE knowledgeable.

Comic Relief, once upon a time, had a second store in San Francisco, about eight blocks away from mine. He hadn't opened it on purpose, in fact, he was there to help out a friend who had gotten locked into a bad lease due to the actions of another. At no point we were enemies, however -- he used to call me "Mr. Macy", and I'd call him "Mr. Gimble" like we were out of A MIRACLE ON THIRTY-FOURTH ST., sending customers freely back and forth between the stores, knowing that making sure people got the book they want was infinitely more important than any kind of rivalry. When CR went in, sales actually INCREASED because there were now two excellent comics shops within walking distance of one another.

There are other retailers in my City who could have learned the lessons of camaraderie that Rory and I taught each other over those two or so years. I know Rory thought so too -- he told me so many times.

Rory was a generous man -- generous with his time and his attention, perhaps maybe generous to a fault because I can think of many people over the decades who took advantage of his trust and generosity, but it never made him bitter.

But there are few retailers, publishers or creators who spent any amount of time with the man and didn't walk away learning a dozen things about how comics work the way they do, and what things that could be done to make things better. It is the loss of that generosity of his knowledge (and it was truly encyclopedic and broad) that is going to be the loss that the comics industry is going to face over the next years. If only we had a few dozen Rory Roots, we could have utterly transformed the entire industry.

I've said more than a few times that Comic Relief was the best comic book store that I've ever been in in my life, and through his many illnesses over the last few years, he thought long and hard about making sure the store will outlast him. He told me on many different occasions that the store will fall to long-time manager Todd Martinez, and I really think it could not be in better hands. Todd's a very good guy, and I'm sure that the store will continue to thrive under his hands.

I owe Rory a lot, personally, professionally. He was always there for me with encouraging words, solid advice, and a wicked bad case of loving puns; I hope I was even half the friend to him that he was to me.

People used to mistake us for each other all of the time. I mean, not really, but in the sense that "they're two overweight bearded long-hair retailers from the Bay Area, who are deeply passionate about comics; so I've got a 50/50 chance of guessing right since I can't see his nametag clearly"

Here's how I most know I'm going to miss the big guy: if it was anyone else I was writing this for, I'd be calling Rory right now and reading it to him over the phone, and asking "what am I leaving out?" and he'd give me six great ideas of things that I really should have said.

Well, I don't have him now, and I'm sure I'm leaving out six things I really should have said, but I know this much: I'm going to really really miss my friend Rory Root.

May he rest in peace.


Around the Store in 31 Days: Day Eighteen

And today's "Creator shelf" is Grant Morrison.

(I don't know if this image link thing will work -- first time I've tried it, but I'm linking from our own site, so I'm guessing it will?)

(That was a Thanksgiving window display we did several years ago. The art is by Christopher Hsiang)

But, actually, like most of the previous "creator shelf" entries, I won't go with the obvious choice of DOOM PATROL (or ANIMAL MAN or THE INVISIBLES)(though if FLEX MENTALLO was in print, that would probably be the one...) for multi-volume series or THE FILTH or WE3 for single-volume picks, though each and every one of those is really excellent comics work!

No, trying to stay on the "obscure" side, I'll side with THE MYSTERY PLAY, his graphic novel with Jon J. Muth.

A lot of complaints get levied against Morrison for being "obscure", and, really, I get that too sometimes. Many is a time I read one of his books and I don't QUITE get what's going on, or what he's trying to say or whatever -- but I find THE MYSTERY PLAY (ironically) to be quite straight-forward and readable by nearly anyone.

It all starts with when an actor playing God in a small town play is murdered, and the detective investigating has a set of secrets of his own...

Saying anything more probably spoils the whole thing, but I found it eminently readable and clear, even though it has several different levels it is working on.

The art by Muth is absolutely lovely (though what of his isn't?), and keeps the book absolutely grounded.

Want a GN you can pick up, read in an hour, and walk away thinking about for days? Here ya' go, pal, THE MYSTERY PLAY.


And the Number One Reason I'll Never Be A Paparazzi...

I was at Kevin O'Neill's signing at CE Sunday night...with my camera...and asked the gracious and stylish Mr. O'Neill if I could take some photos...to which he graciously and stylishly agreed....and I barely took any photos at all. Because I am absurdly meek, and a FUGGIN' IDJIT. Nonetheless:

Here's a shot of the man himself. (Obviously, I shoulda run it through some light adjustments on Picasa before uploading it.) We were shop number seven in four days on his tour, and the guy would do a sketch in anyone's Black Dossier if they wanted. Really cool.

I knew he wouldn't be anything like his drawings, more than likely, but I was still somehow unconsciously surprised he wasn't one of his terrifying lantern-jawed crazy men chortling "Hur, hur, hur!" while demeaning all of us.

I thought I could catch from this angle (behind and above him) the sort of casual charisma he radiated--it was like everyone in the store, even nearly all the people hanging out at the front all had their body turned toward him the whole time he was signing. Instead, all I really caught was that awesome infinity-loop bald spot he has--it's insanely better than the goose egg I'm sporting.

Another wuss shot by me--I thought it would be cool to catch him in mid-sketch as he draws Mina Harker in Sue Riddle's sketchbook (that's her work on the left page, I'm pretty sure). But, uh, nope.

We had a steady line the whole time I was there, as you can see. But I'm mainly putting this photo up so those who've never visited the shop can admire the lovely original Matt Wagner JSA portraits on the left, and the Mike Driggenberg original Endless portraits on the right. (Oh, and also because I didn't take enough pix of Kevin O'Neill, right?)

The first--but hopefully not the last--collaboration between Ian Brill and Kevin O'Neill: a commissioned sketch of Scott Pilgrim. Maybe we'll get lucky and Oni will release it as the "Oni Zombie" alternate cover to SP4 early next year...

Wow. See? That--that--is a perfectly shaped ear, right there.

Meanwhile, up at the front of the store...

No, but seriously. Go buy Black Dossier--it's even more filling than a 40 of MGD.

So, in conclusion: I promise to be better at taking photos in the future. Also, go to Comic Oasis and/or the wonder that is Ralph Mathieu's Alternate Reality in Vegas tomorrow night and experience the wonder that is Kevin O'Neill yourself. You won't regret it.

World War Wolk! Jeff brings you the photos!

(The nerd conundrum for the new millennium: who's stronger, Annalee or Graeme?)

Sorry these took so long to post; Douglas's signing is at the start of my workweek and was followed immediately by my garage sale (which turned out great, by the way), and after the last nine weeks or so of six day workweeks when I finally got time off, I totally slacked.

Of course, I've got no right to bitch after meeting Douglas Wolk--not only had the guy only been home 22 hours in the last month (the way he put it was, "22 hours total," which leads me to infer they were non-contiguous hours), but he still had something like 11,000 words to write before(?) he left for Burning Man (which he may be doing today, I can't remember) for his six or so regular columns.

Yeah, he's kind of a dynamo, Douglas, and yet still manages to be an incredibly sweet guy, very low-key, filled with great stories, be they about how he got his new column at The Nation, or one of the bands on his record label. (Yes, Douglas Wolk is that kind of terrifying ultra-achiever: the hyphenate.) Not that I'm an expert on either man, but he really reminds me of Scott McCloud when I first met McCloud at San Diego back in 1990--very, very smart, very kind, self-assured but not content to just rest on accrued laurels. (I hope that doesn't sound like a diss against current day Scott McCloud, by the way, because it's not: it's just that when I met McCloud in 1990 and complimented him on the great work he was doing on Zot!, he thanked me and told me he was leaving the book to do a mammoth how-to on comics, a fact at which I could only stand there and gape. "Well, you've earned my trust as a creator, so if that's what you want to do I'll be there..." I not-very-encouragingly said.)

Anyway, here's just a few photos of the signing, and if you get a chance to turn up for one of Douglas's signings in the future, you should do so because he's great.

(the man himself, Douglas Wolk)

(I don't remember what Douglas was saying here, but it obviously entrancing)

(Douglas Wolk, Peter Wong, Ian Brill, Annalee Newitz, Graeme McMillan... it's like the entire Internet showed up for this photo!)

(Hibbs achieves enlightenment, courtesy of Douglas Wolk)