Tuesday, April 28, 2015

A Tribute to Trimpe

“Comic Book reading is a solitary activity best shared with others.” – Matthew G. Mann, Sr. (date unknown)

I came up with that statement some time ago to illustrate the truism that the collective relational experience between readers, whether through a blog, podcast, e-mail, or simply chatting at your Local Comic Shop (LCS) is as much a part of the hobby as reading the comic itself and collecting it to be appreciated another day. This idea especially applies when there is a bond between a fan and a comic book creator. That bond is initially established when you first fall in love with an individual’s work and start to follow them as one of your favorites.  Regardless of whether you’re a child or an adult, a connection of some sort is made between you, because every creator puts a bit of themselves into their craft. 

And if you ever get to meet that person one day (and they’re not a jerk), it just enriches the whole experience even more.  Better still is if you develop a person to person relationship with them, rather than just a fan to creator one.  Best of all is if you are blessed to become friends. Now certainly the term “friends”, like “love”, has many layers and degrees, so please do not presume that I am embellishing on any of the friendships I claim to have with any comic book professionals.  I’m just happy for the ones I have no matter the degree.  That’s why when one of them ends abruptly…

You see, my friend, the legendary artist of Marvel’s The Incredible Hulk, Godzilla, and G.I.Joe to name a few, Herb Trimpe, passed away unexpectedly two weeks ago on 2015 April 14.  I just found out yesterday while perusing the www.marvelmasterworks.com website and saw their bulletin about IDW's upcoming Herb Trimpe's Incredible Hulk Artist Edition HC. I'm still reeling from the news. It's been much more on my mind than the protests in Baltimore City that sent me home from work this morning.

I wanted to pay tribute to Herb by recounting my friendship with him, which began in 2007, consisted of only subsequent annual in-person meetings at the Baltimore Comic-Con, and a few e-mails in-between. 

2012 Baltimore Comic-Con

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Confessions of a Hard Cover Addict – Part 1: Multiplying Mighty Marvel Masterworks

[Note this has been my buffer post since late February 2012 -- it may read a little dated]

When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?” “Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,” Elisha replied.  “You have asked a difficult thing,” Elijah said, “yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours – otherwise not.” “As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.  – 2 Kings 2:9-11, New International Version

I think Jim left something behind when he moved to Florida…

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Ages of Marvel Comics and the Aging of One Marvel Comics Fan (Part One)

Well, last night I just finished reorganizing my Marvel Comics collection.  There are still a few stragglers that need to be filed, but after more than three months of highly sporadic effort and a final eight hour push, I think it is good enough.  I’m quite pleased with the results and I think my new system is quite revolutionary.  You might even say I’ve placed convention on its end…literally.  Now, my system isn’t totally original in that I synthesized several approaches that I saw at this year’s Baltimore Comic-Con into something unique and personal. 

One of my primary goals was to divide up my collection by “Ages”.  If you’re even a casual collector (or eBay buyer or seller), you should know of the Golden, Silver, Bronze, Copper, and Modern ages that comics are categorized under.  Breaking up your collection by fixed time has the benefit of grouping like value books together.  It also means that unless you get an influx of back issues, your boxes will remain static. (Translation: I’ll never have to do this again!!!)  And when you do add to those boxes, you’ll have a smaller number to deal with, instead of moving through all of them you may only impact four boxes, instead of twenty.  It will also help you read your back issues with that cross-over title now being much closer.
Another change was to put my books in reverse order, meaning the earlier issues went into the back of the box instead of the front.  One of the nice things about this approach was that when you stacked your books into the box, you could always see the previous cover, instead of the back of the book.  (Who wants to see the Orca Advertisement fifty times?)  And I do mean “stacked”.  One of the things I hate is when comics slide down when you’re putting them into the box, causing unwanted spine creases.  I put the boxes on end and lay the issues down flat.  When you do have the box in the normal position, you can easily finger backwards through the particular title.  Technically, the books are now in bookshelf order within the box if that helps you accept the idea better.  I really thought it was a nifty concept and I wanted to do something different anyway.  It also ensured that I handled each book individually, separating long married Mylar partners.  I liked the stacked system so much that I decided to keep my boxes in that orientation, which really helps the ones that aren’t completely full.  So, now my collection looks like Mega-City One.

Now, there is some debate as to when some of the later comic book ages actually begin or end, but generally there is a consensus that Showcase #4 (Oct 1956) with the first appearance of the “new” Flash (Barry Allen) marks the beginning of the Silver Age.  Of course, that’s DC and I’m focusing on Marvel right now and the “Marvel Age” of Lee/Kirby didn’t even begin until 1961 with the first issue of the Fantastic Four.  For the most part I found these ages to be too long, so I developed my own sub-categories, which I’ll explain in detail below. 

Here’s where it gets personal.  When I researched some sites to determine the beginning of the Bronze Age most were saying 1970, which happens to be the year that I was born.  And the Copper Age seemed to begin in 1984.  That’s 14 long years for the Bronze Age, but if you split that in two you get 1977 – the year I started to collect comics.  That was too serendipitous to ignore.  So, I decided to use an approximate seven year time frame (and seven is viewed as a complete or perfect number in the Bible) for each of my sub-ages and associated it with my own timeline and/or key Marvel Comics events, using both month and year:

1956-1963       Early Silver: I don’t have any of these anymore!
1963-1970       Late Silver:
1970-1977       Early Bronze:  Starts with the Jul 1970 issues – on the stands the month I was born (May 1970)
1977-1984       Late Bronze:  Starts with the Jun 1977 issues – on the stands when I started collecting (Mar/Apr 1977) and ends with the Apr 1984 issues, when the heroes enter the Secret Wars structure within Central Park.
1984-1991       Copper: Starts with the May 1984 issues (with a few exceptions) – first issue following Secret Wars
1991-1998       Early Modern: Starts with Apr 1991 (give or take a month) – first Carnage appearance
1998-2005       Middle Modern:  Starts with Feb 1998 – first issue of Heroes Return.
2005-2012       Late Modern:  Starts with Jan 2005 – first issue of Brubaker’s Captain America run.
2012-today      Marvel NOW!

It’s amazing how well that worked out and I even managed to divide up the overly long Modern Age to boot (something Jim once complained about).  While I mentioned only a few key “events” in the listing above, it’s really cool to delve a little deeper into what was going on at the beginning or end of a particular age.  I hope to discuss that sometime in the near future.

One more thing I should mention, I’ve separated out any Film or TV related title like Logan’s Run, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones.  I also have my horror, western, and MC2 (Spider-Girl and Untold Tales of Spider-Man) books in their own piles or boxes.

Happy [back issue] Reading and Happy New Year!!!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Anniversary 21 + Doctor Who

I commissioned this from Thom (Love & Capes) Zahler in honor of my 20th wedding anniversary at the 2012 Baltimore Comic-Con.  I got the final print and the original B/W at this years' Comic-Con.  Even though it's a year old, it still applies today!!!

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town” as presented by the Oakland Mills High School (OMHS) Theatre Arts Program on 2013 Nov 08 – A Review (of sorts) and a Personal Reflection

I continue to weep.

It’s 0330 on a Saturday morning and tears have been streaming down my face to my pillow for some time now.  I’ve finally determined that the best course of action is to get my thoughts down on “paper” as we used to say (and do).  The impact of last night’s play performance at two of my children’s high school in Columbia, Maryland is still in full effect.  The best compliment I can make to the cast and the production staff is that they brought Wilder’s work to life and moved me deeply. 

This review/reflection may be a bit of a ramble as I try to sort out what I’m feeling and as is often the case on this site there will be SPOILERS.  What is a theatre review doing on a (now generally dormant) blog about comic books?  Well, our blog title does include the phrase “And Other Imaginary Tales”.  And as the playbill blatantly declares, Our Town is a “fictional town”.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Superior Spider-Man #020 – A Review

I wonder if I still remember how to do this…

Superior Spider-Man #020

Writer: Dan Slott
Penciler: Giuseppe Camuncoli
Inker: John Dell
Color Art: Antonio Fabela
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Publisher: Marvel
Price: $3.99

Just because we haven’t been posting regularly, doesn’t mean we’ve stopped having opinions about our weekly comics.  So far this week I’ve read the ending to the very enjoyable Battle of the Atom cross-over and the satisfying Arms of the Octopus mini-cross-over, but it was Superior Spider-Man #020 that compelled me to come out of hibernation and post its praises to our loving masses…if we have any left.  That’s okay; I’m doing this for fun.

I wrote many posts early this year lauding this series and it still is holding up twenty issues into the run.  Now I liked this issue particularly, because as anyone who has visited Skartaris knows “Always Expect the Unexpected!” and boy did we get several MAJOR plot twists!


Flashback to ASM #700 and the late Peter Parker’s Dying Wish from the emaciated lips of Doc Ock’s ravaged body, where across town something is happening at the Columbia University Medical Center.  Madame Web (Julia Carpenter version) has only just begun to pronounce another impending doom for “All the Spiders”.  That’s not the BIG event though, because on the same floor a rather large and “tubby” person has awoken from their coma and is asking about Otto.  They are not happy to learn he just died!

Back to the present and our favorite imitation wall-crawler is swinging around town while his swinging single life might be headed for an attractive end with the lovely Anna Marconi.  Holy Euphemisms, Batman!  But on the way to his date, one of Potto’s® ever watchful Spider-Bots witnesses a “felony in progress.”  You might call this a Felicia Felony, because it’s non-other than the seductive Black Cat – stunningly rendered by the much-improved Camuncoli (I think Dell’s inks and Fabela’s colors are enhancing his art, but his style seems to be better too as recent X-Men books show).  These two are “friends” with benefits, so you know what usually happens when they meet – a lot of playful innuendo talk just like the cover suggests. Not this time.  SPIDEY PUNCHES HER IN THE FACE AND KNOCKS HER TOOTH OUT!!!  I thought that was a bit extreme, but Potto® nicely reminds us how much he hates her guts (from the excellent Allen Milgrom Spectacular Spider-Man books way way back in the early-80s).  He quickly webs her up and leaves her for the police – so much for being “Superior”!  Boy is she going to get back at him!

That’s all out of Potto’s® mind right now, while he and Anna are enjoying their evening picnic suspended on webs over a Manhattan street.  He has big plans for the two of them and makes a proposal – a business one to have her join him at the new Parker Industries (Horizon is defunct if you didn’t know).  The next day he’s to defend his doctorate thesis and he’s already made up the cards with DOCTOR Peter Parker on them.
To get his business off the ground the next morning, he takes out a loan with the help of his step-Dad Jay Jameson, his personal (non-criminal) assets, and a former Horizon employee.  Poor guy, he’s so over-confident, he’s making this loan deal BEFORE his dissertation.

Meanwhile, Carlie is about to turn over proof that Spider-Man is using Ock’s old off-shore accounts to the Avengers.  MJ also appears this issue and she’s out catch another Tiger.
“Peter” defends his “new form of nano-technology [that will allow] the human brain…to control both internal and external mechanical appendages”.  Everyone loves it, and he has them eating out of his hand.  Everyone that is, except for his teacher, Dr. “Snoze” Lamaze.  Lamaze used to know Otto (and Otto hated his guts) and he knows that Peter’s ideas are not original!

“You, sir, have STOLEN the life’s work of my GOOD friend --- THE LATE DR. OTTO OCTAVIUS!”

So, let’s run down all the bad stuff coming Spidey’s way:

1. Ticked off Black Cat.
2. Business Loan that’s not going to go well.
3. Future expulsion and no doctorate.
4. Carlie about to expose him to the Avengers.

Did I miss anything?  Oh yes!  The large person who awoke when Otto died – she’s just made her way to a secret lair and plugged herself into a virtual reality machine to recreate the  muscle-bound STUNNER (from the 90’s).

Let the beat down commence!

GRADE A+: A FANTASTIC issue with unexpected plot twists galore!  Things are really stacking up against the Superior Spider-Man.  I can’t wait to see how he reacts!!!

See you next time, whenever that is…