Action Comics #1000

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Here I am. 2:15 on a Wednesday morning typing on a keyboard. My sleep interrupted by a subconscious eagerness for the arrival of Action Comics issue #1000. I realize that today #999 will be on the shelf and few people will actually pause to realize just how rare of a moment quickly approaches. Soon we will see a comic related periodical magazine publish its 1000th issue for the first time. Granted this is not a millennial date change or a cosmic event that astronomers have pined for, it is simply a comic book. So why the loss of sleep?

I find myself curious. Will the story be the conclusion of a current event wrapping up something from issue #999? A stand alone event to tug at our heartstrings with some deep emotional content? Will a character die? Could it be just another marketing issue with several stories by writers who just want to be in issue #1000? This has been on my mind since we bagged up the #999s earlier today. It made me start to think about what the issue should be rather than what it might be.

Since my exposure to Superman stories is not as deep as it is in other areas, my story would likely not have the potentially dramatic conclusion to the story continued from issue #999. These past few weeks have been filled with news stories and events which have made me, and likely others, feel a little more vulnerable than in past years. Superman has always seemed to me more the strength and hope for the people of Metropolis rather than its defense. It is with this in mind that I think the focus of an iconic issue should be about those traits. My version would likely begin with Lois Kent covering a student protest at Metropolis High School, much like those around today. There, beneath the flagpole, the students would look up to see Superman slowly descend. After a few moments of silence and awe, he would speak.

Here is where I get caught. I can not find the words to comfort a group of young men and women thrown into a world of uncertainty. I can not find the words to express the failure I feel on behalf of those who think they should have been able to stop the event which now brings them all together. No matter how impossible it may have been to stop, I understand their burden. The visual is easy: sadness, compassion, hope and eventually unity. The words to bring innocence back, to remove fear, these escape me much like the moments of sleep I currently find myself chasing with each keystroke.

Issue #1000 cannot possibly hope to meet the iconic Superman moment that I (we) need it to given recent events. I know it will be a celebration, it should be. No one can anticipate the events of the world in relation to the timing of a single periodical. The story I would write, I simply cannot put forward in words.

I read the Daily Planet, I look up in the sky and I hope that maybe someone else will. Opportunity is knocking, no pressure DC.

Nominee for Best Artist or Colorist for a Mini-Series!

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Nominee for Best Artist or Colorist for a Mini-Series has been one of the easiest categories for me to cast a vote. I would have done it first but I wanted to release my choice for best writer on a mini before this, primarily because this particular person was a candidate for that title as well.

My nominee for Best Artist or Colorist on a mini series is Joelle Jones for her work on Lady Killer 2.  For those who have not read Lady Killer story, I suggest picking up the first mini series and then read the second. The artwork on both volumes is simply wonderful. The cover to each issue is a direct reflection of the interior, colors are appropriate and eye pleasing. I actually believe the guttering is just enough that if the balloons were gone, I still could read it. There are times in the story where I think if the television character Mary Tyler Moore was an assassin rather than a news producer, this is what she would be like.

High praise, but between Lady Killer 2 and Supergirl Being Super, there was not much to think about for this nomination. I do believe Joelle Jones has entered the realm of top comic artists for me.

Best of 2017 nominee for Best Publisher of 2017

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Ahhh Crime! Most of our customers are likely aware that I have a fondness for detective stories. This year, one publisher released a series of titles that fortify this neglected genre in the comic field. This is the primary reason I nominate Titan Comics for Best Publisher of 2017. Titan added Hard Case Crime Comics to their line card, featuring the pulp theme which represents the co-publishers book market products. The popularity of the BBC Sherlock Holmes series, combined with international stories like The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, gave quick stability to the company in Previews and space on the newsstand shelf.

Here are some of the titles released. I personally recommend Triggerman as a sample of the style and content.

  • Triggerman
  • Peepland
  • Sherlock Holmes A Study In Pink
  • The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
  • The Girl Who Played With Fire
  • Normandy Gold

I look forward to more attention grabbing mysteries from this new product line.

Nominee for Best Writer for a Mini Series

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This week I spent a little time reviewing series that I felt deserved to be recommended to new readers. This is an important question as it generally is their first taste of the comic world and often decides if that person will continue reading or not. Usually the items I choose are stories I personally would not purchase in comic form but rather opt for the graphic novel version. This is usually due to the story having a clear plot and a conclusion that does not leave a hanging story thread. Mystery stories in particular are at the top of my list as the tone of the mystery is not lost as the weeks pass. The recommendations from this year were fairly eclectic but the first entry was easy.
Therefore my nomination for Best Writer for a Mini-Series goes to Kyle Higgins for his work on Hadrian’s Wall. Many of you may have heard me talk about this story in the Saturday discussion group or to someone looking for an independent read.  This particular story starts when an astronaut is murdered on board a space station named Hadrian’s Wall. The station’s owner sends a detective named Simon Moore to investigate the ship’s crew…which includes Moore’s own ex-wife. Inter-planetary cold war and personal conflicts build the story which ends with new beginnings for the surviving members.
I enjoyed this story as there is no clear villain, no easy choice for the reader and clues which point to different potential killers. I found myself remembering movies from my youth like Blade Runner and Outland while reading the story. This is nice to have happen and I hope to feel again. Kyle Higgins first caught my attention with the 2014 release of C.O.W.L. and I am glad to award Best Writer of a Mini-Series in 2017 to him for Hadrian’s Wall.

Nominee for Best Cover Artist of 2017

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Best Cover Artist of 2017

Mingjue Helen Chen (a.k.a. Helen Chen)

  • Gotham Academy Second Semester #4
  • Winnebago Graveyard #1 of 4 Cover B
  • Silk #18

I chose this artist because I previously dropped two of the respective titles and the artwork on these covers still made me want to purchase them. The third was a new mini series and I still have to finish the last two issues but the cover art convinced me to try it in the first place. The specifics are simply that the cover in each case showed knowledge of the title, the color choices enhanced the character shown. The background images in both Silk #18 and Second Semester #4 added both emotion and showed artistic talent toward the audience. Each illustration kept with, or further defined, the titles tone and theme.

Keep in mind I purchased each of these issues even though I dropped the ongoing comic, which is actually the covers job. Sadly, the cover artwork did not get the writing support to bring me back to any of the titles. Excellent cover art but the stories just did not get the development needed to get me back into the monthly reads.

Best of 2017 Comic Awards

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On October 20th subscribers received the announcement that the store is holding a “Best of 2017” event. We are posting it here for those who did not read the email or do not have a subscription account.

We thought it might be fun if we hold an annual comic book awards program. The intent of the program is to get readers to review the things they enjoyed most through the year. It also gives us all a chance to expose others to our choices. We all have favorites, we all have treasures, combined they will make a display in the store to recommend these items to others. This will be kept up all year until it is time to do the 2018 voting.

There is a manual form at the counter in both locations which is a write in ballot you can fill out and turn in. This form was emailed to all subscribers on October 20th. You do not have to fill out every category if you do not want to, this is just fun and a social media campaign, so no stress to complete it. We will put entries into a database and make a display in the store of the winners. Only ballots with names on them will be counted. No email entries will be accepted, you have to drop it off so we can verify you are a customer of the two stores. This is to ensure the integrity of our customers having chose the winners.

A few rules…

  1. An “Individual comic” nominee must have been released in 2017.
  2. A “Mini-series” nominee must have had more than 50 percent of its issues released in 2017.
  3. A “Series” must have an issue released in each month of 2017 (we will allow for late shipments by publishers).
  4. “Best Publisher” nominees should have a reason to justify the choice on the bottom or back of the form. Pro DC or Pro Marvel votes are not what we want. “DC shipped more that 85% of the products on time” is an example of what we would like to see. No reason on the form and the vote simply will not be counted for this category.
  5. We will end the votes at Christmas so we can add it all up but you can turn them in whenever you want before then. The staff will check for your name and place it in the ballot box.

Mine will be in an envelope with my name on the outside so no one can read them. Oh wait…

My choices are being put on the display right now! Each Saturday I will release a choice for one of the 15 categories, starting now! I will include why it was my choice to help guide some people as to what to criteria can be used to choose.

Best Cover Artist of 2017

Mingjue Helen Chen (a.k.a. Helen Chen)

  • Gotham Academy Second Semester #4
  • Winnebago Graveyard #1 of 4 Cover B
  • Silk #18

I chose this artist because I previously dropped two of the respective titles and the artwork on these covers still made me want to purchase them. The third was a new mini series and I still have to finish the last two issues but the cover art convinced me to try it in the first place. The specifics are simply that the cover in each case showed knowledge of the title, the color choices enhanced the character shown. The background images in both Silk #18 and Second Semester #4 added both emotion and showed artistic talent toward the audience. Each illustration kept with, or further defined, the titles tone and theme.

Keep in mind I purchased each of these issues even though I dropped the ongoing comic, which is actually the covers job. Sadly, the cover artwork did not get the writing support to bring me back to any of the titles. Excellent cover art but the stories just did not get the development needed to get me back into the monthly reads. 

Next Saturday I will release my nominee for best… well, I guess I should wait until the comic discussion group next Saturday. See you then!

Walking Dead #171 variant, did they trade fan loyalty for collectible market hype?

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Today Walking Dead #171 hit the stand with both a standard cover and an advertised variant cover. Both issues listed and sold on our site the past few weeks. Cover B was added later as it was not released in Previews with the original cover. These happen frequently and are added later as Diamond Comic Distributors supplies the files.

Unknown to retailers, Image reportedly released a hidden variant within the variants already ordered. To avoid confusion here, let us just refer to it as just that, a hidden variant. This variant was randomly seeded and could not be ordered by your comic book store. Generally not a big deal, unless you add seven extra pages and tell no one until it comes out.

You guessed it. Seven extra pages and only approximately 10 percent of fans can read them. I am not just disappointed in the lack of product but am offended that it is more important to drive hype and after market price than supply so large a fan base material obviously already written at the time of printing.

I have attached the Bleeding Cool URL as I do not want to ride on a story someone else has written.

I do want to express that my respect for Image Comics Inc. was lowered slightly this morning. Make money by all means but remember why the larger percent of your customer base is paying for the product.

Improvements to our Crystal Lake location

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We want to invite you all to stop in to our Crystal Lake store. Since it has returned to our control this May, we have converted the floor model into a normal retail comic book store. The first step was to audit and fill the back issue collection with a focus on the current titles. This resulted in adding 500 comics to bolster the existing collection. The second phase was to increase the depth of the product by adding additional back issues, discount comic bins (red dot) and graphic novels.

The store layout has been converted to the same design as the Algonquin store including wall displays, supply display and toy displays. Soon we will add youth reading products, CGC books for sale and even some silver age product. Stop in, take a look, and help us become what you want in a Crystal Lake comic store.

Jesse at Crystal Lake?

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That is correct. Jesse will be working the Crystal Lake location tomorrow. This will begin part of a shifting schedule so the store can receive equal treatment and processing time. Tomorrow the staff will be building tables and adding additional product. See you there!