Comic Book News Update!

I’m pretty busy with so-called “real life” work this week. Since I won’t be able to get out reviews or other fun things, I figure I’d fill you all in with some extra-special stuff.

Jim Shooter’s Storytelling Lecture

Iconic writer, editor and all things in-between, Jim Shooter, has recently been posting transcripts from a 1994 seminar he did about art telling stories through Jack Kirby’s art. They’re absolutely astounding and breathtaking to read and witness. Most importantly, it is still relevant today! (And unfortunately goes ignored). Please check out what he has posted so far, and keep checking back regularly for more updates!

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Comic Sales & Highlights

Two classics were recently sold over and Ebay, making milestones for Showcase #4 and Journey Into Mystery #83.

“Mark Zaid of and are reporting the sale of a CGC-certified NM- 9.2 copy of Showcase #4 featuring the first appearance of Barry Allen, the Silver Age Flash for $100,000.” –

Showcase Flash

Meanwhile, the first appearance of Thor. . .

“. . . is autographed by Stan Lee and part of the CGC Signature Series. Graded at 6.5 by CGC, this copy of Journey Into Mystery #83 recently sold for $7,500.00 on eBay.” –

CGC Stan Lee Thor

Comics Sales Slump

In more depressing news, comic sales are continuously slipping. As ICv2 reports,

“Sales of the Top 300 graphic novels through Diamond Comic Distributors in March were down a substantial 18.6%, while sales of the Top 300 periodical comics fell 4.28%. Combined sales of the Top 300 Graphic Novels and Comics in March were off by 7.58%.”

Despite the drop, the 15 comics from March 2011 keep us hopeful with quantities sold being the last set of numbers in the list below. If you’d like to see the top 300, just click here.

1. FF#1 – $3.99 – Marvel – 114,472
2. Green Lantern #64 – $2.99 – DC – 76,898
3. Green Lantern #63 – $2.99 – DC – 75,632
4. Batman: The Dark Knight – $2.99 – DC – 71,108
5. Brightest Day #21 – $2.99 – DC – 70,204
6. Brightest Day #22 – $2.99 – DC – 69,824
7. Batman Incorporated #3 – $2.99 – DC – 66,772
8. Avengers #11 – $3.99 – Marvel – 66,618
9. Batman Incorporated #4 – $2.99 – DC – 65,315
10. Fear Itself: Book of the Skull #1 – $3.99 – Marvel – 62,714
11. Kick-Ass 2 #2 – $2.99 – Marvel – 62,235
12. Green Lantern Corps #58 – $2.99 – DC – 60,100
13. New Avengers #10 – $3.99 – Marvel – 59,929
14. Batman and Robin #21 – $2.99 – DC – 59,818
15. Amazing Spider-Man #656 – $3.99 – Marvel – 59,626

And to think that in the 90’s comics were selling by the millions. These numbers reflect North America, by the by. *Sigh*

***UPDATE 5/13***

Here’s the official sales numbers for Marvel over at ComicsBeat.

Until next time, keep on Space Truckin’!

FanExpo Comic Guest List Announced! CGC Stuff, Too!

Being from Southern Ontario, it’s not often that comic conventions come out our way. However, one annual convention called Fan Expo comes to Toronto every year and brings in some of the biggest names in the business. In a nutshell, it’s the San Diego Comic Con on a smaller scale, centered in Toronto.

It focuses on Comics, Horror, Science Fiction, Anime and Video Games. It’s quite a well-rounded event.

Last year, I was able to meet my childhood hero, Stan Lee. Olivier Copiel, Gary Frank, Leonard Kirk, and Steve McNiven, to name a few, all made their appearances too. The year before that, I was lucky enough to meet Joe Quesada. This years list is beyond impressive:

JEFF SMITH (artist/creator – BONE)

JOE KUBERT (Legendary Artist)



























DOUG SNEYD (Legendary Playboy cartoonist)

Of course, there’s even more!

Kei Acedara
Attila Adorjany
Sam Agro
Adrian Alphona
Kalman Andrasofszky
Andy Belanger
J. Bone
Kent Burles
C.B. Cebulski
Scott Chantler
Bobby Chiu
Michael Cho
Charlene Chua
Aaron Costain
Wes Craig
David J. Cutler
Willow Dawson
Kelly Sue DeConnick
Valentine DeLandro
Anthony Del Col
Michael Del Mundo
Jason Edmiston
Nick Evans
Ray Fawkes
W. Scott Forbes
Mike Gagnon
Agnes Garbowska
Holly Halftone
Clayton Hanmer
Scott Hepburn
Greg Hyland
Raffaelle Ienco
Jesse Jacobs
Eric Kim
Leonard Kirk
Shane Kirshenblatt
Scott Kowalchuk
Annie Koyama
Drazen Kozjan
Jessie Lam
Marvin Law
Alvin Lee
Kurt Lehner
Leo Leibelman
Nimit Malavia
Steven Charles Manale
Steve Mannion
Marvin Mariano
Nick Marinkovich
John Martz
Richard Maurizio
Conor McCreery
Brian McLachlan
Kagan McLeod
Diana McNally
Alex Milne
Vicki Nerino
Richard Pace
Dan Parent
Ramon K. Perez
Alex Perkins
Nick Postic
Gibson Quarter
Peter Repovski
Ethan Rilly
Benjamin Rivers
Hugh Rookwood
Dave Ross
Riley Rossmo
Salgood Sam
K.T. Smith
Fiona Smyth
Steve Sprayson
Diana Tamblyn
Ty Templeton
Kelly Tindall
Marcus To
J. Torres
James Turner
Alina Urusov
Eric Vedder
Joe Vriens
Tigh Walker
Ken Wheaton
Kurtis Wiebe
Britt Wilson
Steve Wolfhard
Howard Wong
Tory Woollcott
Craig Yeung
Richard Zajac
Jim Zubkavich

Publishes and Studios:

DC Comics
Marvel Comics
Image Comics
Archie Comics
Udon Entertainment
DK Canada
Koyama Press
Imaginism Studios
Transmission-X (TX Comics)

Check out more updates as they come along on FanExpo’s Website.

I’m very excited for Stuart and Kathryn Immonen, Matt Fraction, Steve McNiven, Marko Djurdjevic, Alex Maleev, Oliver Coipel, Dale Keown, Steve Epting, Jimmy Cheung, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Leonard Kirk, and Tony Moore.

It’s going to be a blast!

In other news, CGC Comics just announced that they’ve reached a milestone with 100,000 Signature Series books being certified through them.

“All collectibles certified with the prestigious CGC Signature Series label have been signed in the presence of a CGC representative, and are then submitted for CGC certification. CGC authenticates the signatures and indicates all pertinent information on the prestigious CGC Signature Series label. The Signature Series label includes security features such as an official hologram seal and a unique serial number. The item is then graded and encapsulated in CGC’s patented, tamper-evident holder, to become a treasured part of a collection. Thanks to CGC Signature Series, collectors know their signed items bear the seal of the most-trusted name in collecting.”

I’m proud to be part of that 100,000 with my copy of X-Men #15 signed by Stan Lee. (Who knows why I’m proud – I just am.)

Keep on Space Truckin’!

Classic Comic Fridays: Savage She-Hulk #1

It’s been over a month since I last did one of these. Because of how life is, I’ve decided to change the Classic Comic Friday’s to the beginning Friday of every month – only because I cannot guarantee a regular Friday update it seems.

As for the unfamiliar, Classic Comic Fridays are comics pulled from my own personal collection which I then decide to review – for whatever reason.

The Savage She-Hulk

The Savage She-Hulk #1 (1980)
Stan Lee (writer), John Buscema (penciler, cover), Chic Stone (inker). 40¢

Branching off from the Hulk comics, the story starts off with Bruce Banner trying to find a place to hide. Thankfully, his cousin Jennifer Walters, is a criminal lawyer who works nearby in Los Angeles.

Jen decides to take Bruce to her house for safe-keeping, and the two catch up with each other in the car. There, Jen reveals she is working on a high-profile case which Bruce thinks may put her in danger. After Jen suggests to Bruce that those types of things only happen in movies, they arrive to Jen’s home to be fired upon some thugs. Jen is hit, and Bruce tackles them away – avoiding turning into the Hulk. He realizes Jen is gravely injured, so he rushes her to a closed practitioners office and does a quick blood transfusion to help her until an ambulance arrives.

At the hospital, Bruce is held for questioning because he has no ID and is considered a suspect. He Hulks-out and escapes the hospital while Jen recovers. While recovering, the thugs who tried to kill her before reappear dressed in doctors costumes. As they try to chloroform her, she gets angry and transforms into – what the thugs call her – a She-Hulk!

They escape the hospital and She-Hulk chases them to their car where she off-roads it and gets information on who hired the hit on her. She then escapes back to the hospital – winding down in energy to turn back into Jennifer Walters. The goes into another hospital bed and tells a nurse she left her old room because she was scared of the noises she heard. Relaxing, she realizes the blood transfusion would have caused the change and proclaims, “Whatever Jennifer Walters can’t handle – the She-Hulk will do!”

Although I gave it a very fast-paced summary, it was a very fast-paced book. I couldn’t believe the story was over as it felt it just began – which I guess may be a sign of good story-telling.

Jen gets a name

Stan Lee dedicates the first six-or-so pages to the history of Jen and Bruce – revealing they are cousins and also giving a brief reasoning through their dialogue on why Bruce would trust Jen. We also get a lot of information about Jen within those pages, setting up the character to exactly how she is even now in comics. These few pages were essential to the book and really shaped how She-Hulk would appear in later comics.

However, from there-on, the book really picked up in pace, and I felt a bit over-whelmed in how quickly everything was going. Bruce turned refused to turn into Hulk when Jen was shot, but once arrested it was no problem? How does a blood transfusion save bullet wounds with the bullet still inside? Although the answer may be “it’s just a comic book,” I feel as if they were still somewhat cop-outs to how the book could have went. Given Lee only did this one book, I can understand why he wanted everything to be wrapped up so quickly.

John Buscema’s take on She-Hulk was superb. Considered one of the best artists in the industry, Buscema’s take on She-Hulk was done surprisingly tasteful – especially considering how She-Hulk looks now. Great detail was placed throughout the book to give an idea of the surrounding location, as well as detail to character.

Overall, it was an impressive start to begin a career for Jennifer Walters. It may not have been Stan’s best start to a new character, but She-Hulk definitely found a place for herself within the Marvel Universe.

Grade: 6/10

Until next time, keep on Space Truckin’!

Signed by Stan Lee

Today, I finally received my X-Men #15 signed by Stan Lee in the mail from CGC. I will definitely do a post about how CGC works and how the process works in the later weeks.

Until then, the glory of my comic:

X-Men #15, signed by Stan Lee

And what it says on the top:

CGC Signature Series
X-Men #15, Marvel Comics, 12/65
Signed by Stan Lee on 08/27/10
Off-white to white pages.

Stan Lee story, Kirby and Ayers cover.
Dick Ayers and Werner Roth art.
Jack Kirby layouts.

1st appearance of Master Mold.
2nd appearance of the Sentinels.
Origin of the Beast.


Keep on Space Truckin’!

Classic Comic Fridays: Fantastic Four #45

Like every Friday, I will review a classic comic from my personal collection. For this week, I managed to find a decent-quality copy of a comic at my local comic store. I absolutely loved the story and art, so I figured that I should review it.

Fantastic Four #45

The comic, if you haven’t read the title already, is Fantastic Four #45 from December of 1965. It’s a classic, and one which was the first appearance of the Inhumans! Yes, Black Bolt, Crystal, Lockjaw, Triton and Karnak all get their first appearance in this early issue of F4. And you better believe that Stan Lee and Jack Kirby were the two on the helm for writing and penciling credits, while Joe Sinnott was on-board for inking. Needless to say, this is a classic comic done by the legendary comic artists which we all revere today, and I’m absolutely excited to have read it and to be reviewing it now.

Titled, “Among Us Hide the Inhumans,” the book opens up with the F4 minus Sue, trapped under rubble. After a battle with Dragon Man, the three were defeated, and Dragon Man kidnapped Sue. Johnny goes after her and confronts Dragon Man. Sue realizes that Dragon Man has child-like mind and tries to get Johnny to stop his attack. However, Johnny uses his Nova Flame power, and knocks out Dragon Man, saving Sue.

After defeat, Sue tames Dragon Man, working with his child-like mind and convincing him that the F4 were just scared and would not actually hurt him. Convinced, the three, Johnny, Sue and Dragon Man, return back to the Baxter Building to meet Reed and Grimm. They all decide to keep Dragon Man in the building for the time being, so they make him a room.

Johnny takes a break and calls his girlfriend, Dorrie Evans. Because of Johnny always putting her second for the Fantastic Four team, she says she already has another date that night and cannot go out. Upset, Johnny goes for a walk and finds some red-haired woman hunkered in an alley. Perturbed by her, Johnny walks in to see what she is doing when all of a sudden a huge gust of wind lifts him up in the air. By the time he drops down, she is gone.

Johnny returns to the Baxter Building to see that the rest of the team are having a tough time trying to get Dragon Man to sleep. Sue ends up sedating him, while Ben reflects hard on himself on how he is a monster, too. Poor Ben.

Air-Jet Cycle

Johnny decides to go back out and hunt for the red-haired woman – which he finds with ease (somehow). However, she tries to escape, stating he wouldn’t understand her world. Johnny then turns on his powers, prompting the woman to realize she may not be alone. Lockjaw appears behind Johnny, somewhat startling him, and takes both him, and the now revealed woman to an underground base under Manhattan.

The woman reveals herself as Crystal, and introduced Johnny to Karnak, followed by Triton and Crystal’s sister, Medusa. Johnny, scared, knowing Medusa was part of the Frightful Four (and meeting in an earlier F4 comic), and Karnak accusing Johnny of tricking Crystal, Johnny panics and escapes, creating a “4” signal in flames in the sky.

The rest of the team join up with Johnny – arriving by the F4’s Air-Jet Cycle (being its first appearance) – and they are attacked by Karnak from behind. Ready to fight, the book ends with Black Bolt literally crashing down onto the scene.

There is definitely a lot going on in this one comic, yet it does not feel rushed. Actually, by the end of the book, I was asking myself, “it’s over already?” Lee’s great dialogue and character development creates a world on its own. Tied in with Kirby’s brilliant art and Sinnott’s inks, the book to me felt ahead of its time. Of course, that was arguably put Marvel ahead of most comic companies. Rich character development mixed with brilliant art.

Black Bolt's First Appearance

The cover of the issue, also done by Kirby and Sinnott, even seems menacing looking. There’s great dread right on the cover. I love Sinnott’s ink on the F4 directly. The Thing’s body is greatly drawn with shading accenting his body. I love it.

Another great thing about this comic – which is outside of the story – is the M.M.M.S., the Merry Marvel Marching Society which Stan Lee invented for Marvel fans. Gone are the times where fans would have pages dedicated to letters, and a box-out for newer members – one even from my home province of Ontario.

Of course, Stan’s Soapbox was placed in the comic as well. In it, he made a prediction too. He said that he knew the Inhumans would take off with a life of their own. He was excited to give the readers their backstories, and was thrilled to continue writing with them.

All-in-all, the book itself was brilliant. Albeit, one moment in the dialogue, Reed snaps at Sue and says to “stop sounding like a wife,” which to me was a shock to see in comics back then. But I mean, that’s how these characters are to develop!

Grade: 10/10

Until next time, keep on Space Truckin’!

Do You Have What it Takes?

What makes YOU think you’re a good story writer? Did your friend tell you that? Did a College or University degree say so? Was it your boss giving you a pat on the back for a job well done?
If the answer is “Yes,” continue reading.
If the answer is “No,” still continue reading.

I believe it is safe to say that there are good and bad writers out there. WrItung lyke diS, I would not consider to be good writing. Yet my sentence still made sense. . .

Figuring this stuff out can give you a headache.

But I’m hoping that I can get you through this with the best of my ability.

Although everyone may argue what great story writing is – from Bill Shakespeare to Michael A. Stackpole – the point is that they’re writing. Where one may have spent countless hours deciphering the perfect words for his Iambic Pentameter, Stackpole probably spent only two seconds coming up with the name Ooryl Qrygg.

Yet both are best-selling authors! Sure, one may divulge a bit more into different genres than the other – and you also may have only heard of one of these authors. Regardless of it all, what makes good story writing? What draws an audience to their stories? Well, I’m not going to do book-by-book comparisons between the two, but I’ll definitely send you in a good direction.

1. Characters: Without characters, you pretty much do not have a story. Even if you spend three-hundred pages just describing scenery – your voice, your way of description is the character. Realistically, YOU are the character. That may be a bit to take in, but think about the truth in it.

Your voice through writing is what makes the story speak. You give it character, whether it be drab or hilarious. You, the writer, have control, and you the writer must recognize yourself as a the real protagonist or antagonist. If you want a heroic scene, give it. If you want sadness, produce it. Building characters in the world you create are just expansions off of what your character is. With that knowledge, you can strengthen your writing ten-fold, plus make it personalized to make you stand out as a unique writer. I’m sure of it.

Conclusion: Listen to your judgment!

2. Experience: I do not mean writing experiences either. How can one be a professional writer nowadays when prerequisites for being one is to already have been one? Should I re-post the picture again?

Although this may come as philosophical, it is true that you write what you know. What I mean by that is if I want to write about two people falling in love, I only know love as from my experiences. That means movies, books, cartoons, and yes, in real-life, everything I know about love in some way, shape, or form, comes through. So if one were to write about love, they would write from their experiences. The same can go with any situation – a scene in a restaurant, shopping, going to a concert, being a superhero, playing sports, etc.

Conclusion: Experience life to its fullest!

3. Advice: Definitely have someone look over your work. If they critique it, do not take it personally. After-all, input goes well with my second point – it’s experience! If someone says, “You should have X to Y,” you don’t have to, but damn-well think about how it could happen. What would be the results?

Another thing about critiquing is that people may not understand you. Hey! That’s great! A rose is a rose is a rose, right? People may say your work is incomprehensible, unflattering, or even targeting the wrong audience. Well, maybe they don’t get it? Maybe they never will? Should that stop you? No. Someone will get it. There’s so many outlets now, such as Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, and WordPress (see me now?) where you can find a market which understands you. Take hold of that! Carpe diem! Consider what people are saying!

But despite creativity, poor grammar or blatant poor writing is no excuse for “creativity.” There is a difference between laziness and art. People can see that.

Conclusion: Although it is your story, do not shoo away criticisms or become lazy. It is experience, remember?

4. What do You Have to Lose?: My final point seems a bit ignorant, as everything is really situational. It’s also not really my story to tell. However, the story has influenced me greatly in my drive for writing. It’s a story by Stan Lee.

In a nutshell, in the early sixties, he was about to leave Atlas Comics (soon-to-be Marvel Comics) due to having no drive left. He’d done comics since the 1940’s, and he was thinking about actually starting a career in what he called a “real” writing job.

The publisher of Atlas, Martin Goodman wanted Stan to create a new superhero team to counter DC’s Justice League of America comics. Stan was exhausted at this point. He spoke with his wife Joanie that night about quitting, but she suggested for him to try doing what he wanted to do – make a story he’d enjoy. She reinforced him with saying he had nothing to lose if he did it. If it took off, that’s great! If it didn’t, then continue writing for another company.

Needless to say, the Fantastic Four was written and the world changed along with it – and Marvel Comics was born.

Although that is quite a tremendous story – and I cannot say for everyone that would work – especially since not all of us would have wives named “Joanie,” they are some grand words to stand by. If you’re worried about rejection for a story pitch? So what? What do you have to lose? Get denied, try again, or move on. It sounds simple in writing, but it is something to take with you.

Conclusion: Never give up because you’ll always get another opportunity.

Final Thoughts
From all this, I cannot expect everyone to just become great writers. The list above is something I personally follow as I feel it is right for me. But if you use your character, use experience, take advice, and go head-on into the game – mix it with your imagination and there will be no stopping you!

If you want, sound off below!

Keep on Space Truckin’!

The Black Widow Wins!

Black Widow #6
I believe it definitely has been an awesome week for comics. One thing is that Black Widow #6 stole the spotlight with a new run by Duane Swierczynski and Manuel Garcia. It’s rare for a mystery story to stand out like how this one did.

For far-too long, Marvel has thrown Black Widow as a partial character. Sure, she’s had her few individual stories, such as Homecoming, or more recently, Deadly Origin – but now with her own monthly series, she’s finally getting the credit she deserves.

This, of course, goes along side of Marvel’s Women of Marvel push for the past year.

Regardless, this new arc is fantastic, and a must-read. Fortunately, you do not need to read the prior five issues to play catch up so new readers are welcome to join right in.

In a nutshell, Black Widow faces two foes – one foe trying to kill the other, and one of which Black Widow must save! To top it all off, Black Widow is being framed and the issue ends with a nail-biting conclusion! It’s just a great introduction to an arc.

Grade: 8/10

Along with this week, I was given a great surprise. Avengers #5 by Brian M. Bendis and John Romita Jr. picked up from – what I have thought to be – a lack-luster start for a major-title.

Avengers #5
However, it was not until this issue did things start coming together. There was an actual story to this book. No more quick cuts and fast-paced panels with mindless action. In Avengers #5, we actually get a story with character development which has been lacking from previous issues. We get a story which incorporates a large part of the Marvel U (a nice bonus). And most importantly: we get our characters back. Iron Man is no longer a rushed, fast-talking, over-zealous person. He’s (relatively) back to normal. Spider-Man and Hawkeye are now separated as two individuals – as Hawkeye steps aside and shows emotion for Mockingbird’s well-being. Thor gets a wonderful scene battling Galactus in probably Romita’s best-drawn-moment since the comic’s inception.

Needless to say, I’m glad the comic was picking up finally. I was going to stick around until the Red Hulk and Illuminati issues were released to pray it got back on course. It seems with Avengers #5, we may actually get a great series of comics ahead of us.

Grade: 7/10

My other two comics from my pull-list this week were Uncanny X-Men #528 by Matt Fraction and Whilce Portacio, and Ed Brubaker’s take on Secret Avengers #5, with new-to-series artists David Aja and Michael Lark.

Both comics were transitional stories with not much action, but developments in characters and their history – mainly Emma Frost and Nick Fury, respectively. I, unfortunately, can’t review every comic in great detail – unless you want me to! Sound off below?

But first, check out some other blogs I’ve stumbled upon – comic related, of course.

Joe Shuster Awards – Comic Awards – involving one-Leonard Kirk.
ComicBookGrrl – A well thought-out blog about the nature of comics.
TechLand – News and goodies about comics.
Weekly Comic Book Review – Weekly. . . comic. . . book. . . reviews.

Oh! And I just scanned this!

Stan Lee and Me!

Until then, keep on Space Truckin’.