Tagged: Collecting

MARC ALAN FISHMAN: Variant Variety Ain’t the Spice of Life

When my mother asked me why I was buying up all the comics I could, I made an attempt to satisfy her underlying problem. “I’m not wasting my money, Mom, these comics are worth money!” She bought that. Years later, she asked me when I was going to sell them and enjoy the tidy profit. Wouldn’t you know it? All those copies of Night Man and Mantra weren’t worth the paper they were printed on. And my Walgreens copy of Cyberforce: Bloodstryke? Nary a nickel would be given to me by any one aside from maybe Marc Silvestri. Had I been smart enough, I would have picked up the holo-foil variant cover, and nabbed me a dime.

You see kiddos, when I got into comics, the ‘Variant’ cover ruled the land. In the go-go-nineties, when people suddenly thought comic books were highly coveted collectables, the publishers followed suit by releasing a veritable tidal wave of ‘comicas con variantas.’ Short supply equaled high demand, and before you know it… even your next-door neighbor (who can’t tell Batman from Man-Bat) is collecting comic books. Me personally? I couldn’t care less. Have a seat. Get comfy. Let me pull out my jar of poetry wax. It’s time to polish up the Rant-O-Tron 5000.

Collectables by and large bother me. The idea that you would purchase a toy, a poster, a print, or a talking rubber fish all with the notion that it’d eventually mint you a tidy profit seems ludicrous to me. Toys are meant to be played with. Art is meant to be displayed. And those talking rubber fish? They’re meant to be in RVs in the south.

The same goes for comic books. Maybe I’m alone in this sentiment (and I hope in fact that I’m not) but comic books are meant to be read. Comic books as collectables just irks me a bit. Scratch that. Comic book collectors who don’t enjoy the medium for anything other than the potential profit? They irk me.

Unlike commemorative plates, baseball cards, or Hollywood memorabilia, comic books are made with the intent to entertain. Writers sat at typewriters concocting amazing fantasies for their fictitious creations. Artists slaved over their drawing boards meticulously adding nuance, detail, and action to the written word. And a literal team of other players had their hands in the pot… from the letterers, colorists, inkers, designers, and editors who spent their work week fretting over deadlines to eventually put their book on a store shelf… and you don’t even take the time to read it? Next time do me a favor, buy a limited edition Billy Bass.

But Marc, you protest, what about those smart people who minted thousands upon thousands for their rare Action Comics #1, or Detective Comics #27? What about them, indeed. Neither were a “Holo-Foil Sketch Blank Autographed Variant.” And 75 years from now, if you think your copy of the “B” cover of Justice League 2011 will be worth thousands of dollars more than the standard “A” cover… well, you are welcome to dance on my grave if it’s true.

Suffice to say, I’ve never bought a comic strictly for the purpose of profiting. And for those who do, while I don’t deny you the right to spend your money however you see fit: I scoff at you on principle alone.

For the publishers who produce them, it must seem like a brilliant idea. In John Ostrander’s piece a few weeks back, we learned that the comic book market is such that the publishers don’t sell to the consumers. They sell to retail shops who in turn sell to us. So their spin-off squeeze play is nothing more than an attempt to hike up sales a bit more. Dynamite alone must produce an Alex Ross variant every other week, for every other book they publish. In turn the shops might feel compelled to order enough of the base book to “earn” those packed-in variants, and in-turn mark them up for sale to the saps, err, collectors who come into their stores. I love Alex Ross’s work kids, I do. But they day I’m chasing down a Green Hornet Year One Sketch Cover Variant C, break a NASCAR Jeff Gordon plate across my face. Before anything else, a comic is there to be read and enjoyed.

Agree? Disagree? You know the drill. Let me have it below.

SUNDAY: John Ostrander

DC Comics October Solicitations

A lot to go over, including a whole lot of second issues and a hardcover collection of all of last month’s #1 issues. So let’s get to it!


Video Game Review: “Alice: Madness Returns”

Video Game Review: “Alice: Madness Returns”


In the year 2000, American McGee’s Alice took the story of Alice in Wonderland and turned it on it’s already twisted head. As a sequel of sorts to the books, the game opens with an accidental fire destroying Alice’s home in Victorian London, in which her parents and sister die. Alice then attempts to commit suicide (due to survivor’s guilt) and is committed to Rutledge Asylum. While there, her shattered psyche has her (and players) revisiting the Wonderland of her childhood, now decayed under the rule of the Queen of Hearts. By the game’s end, she destroys the Queen (who some believe to be a manifestation of her own insanity) and restores Wonderland to its original charm and glory, and is declared stable (or stable enough) to leave the asylum.

Perhaps that wasn’t for the best, however. In [[[Alice: Madness Returns]]] (out now on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360), it’s eleven years since Alice left Rutledge (and, ironically, eleven years after the original game). Alice is living with and being cared for by a child psychiatrist in London (as his oldest patient), and the death of her family continues to stalk her. Her madness has manifested again, and now she finds herself returning to Wonderland – albeit the Wonderland that we now know to be imagined – in order to restore order to its now-recurring chaos. This time, though, there’s an bigger question fueling her madness: was the fire that caused it all accidental?

The game divides its time between two settings: Victorian London, with its bleak, muted color palette, and the visual mind-bender that is Wonderland. Take Tim Burton, throw him in a blender with Dali and Picasso, and add a dash of steroids and heroin, and you’ll have a rough approximation of the visuals here. The settings are stunning, from the steampunk-esque Hatter stage, to the underwater follies of the carpenter and the Walrus, to the card bridge and the Queensworld…it’s all, well, fairly crazy actually. The animation is also fluid, as Alice jumps, twirls and floats through demonic paranoias and her own destroyed psyche, made visual in Wonderland. She can even shrink in size to pass through keyholes, which also gives her a new perspective on the layout of a level, revealing hidden clues as to where to go next, or thing she just couldn’t see at normal size.

At it’s heart, Madness Returns is a platformer, but there’s a heavy bent on action. Alice has many weapons at her disposal to use against the negative densiens of her mind. At first, black slime with babydoll faces known as “ruins” populate the land, and Alice can dispatch them with her trusty Vorpal Blade (which goes Snicker-Snack!) or a Pepper Grinder (basically a hand-cranked machine gun). Later she gains a Hobby Horse, which she uses as a melee club to bash and smash. All of these weapons flow effectively into one another for combos, and when combined with the dodge move, become invaluable in escaping hasty death from an onslaught of enemies. After traversing some areas, the foes become more familiar, namely the Card Guards, only now more…demon-esque.

As a platformer, there’s also a good amount of gathering collectibles, and each one has it’s own use. Scattered throughout the land are memories, which piece together the story for Alice (and the player). There are also teeth, which Alice gathers from fallen foes or smashable objects, and are used as currency in the game to upgrade weapons. It all seems like typical fare for an action platformer, but teh setting and storyline are really what set this one apart. There’s some truly messed-up things here, and the game really pushes the M rating.

If there were one complaint to make towards the game, it’s more about the little hiccups you encounter during gameplay. Sometimes, Alice will get hung up on an invisible wall or something in the floor, usually after releasing the “shrink” button on the controller. It’s a minor setback, but when the animation is usualy so fluid, getting held up in a graphical glitch can take one out of the moment. Also, the level layout is preposterously long. One chapter can have several individual sections, feeling like their own levels, but are really part of the chapter istelf. Sometimes this works to move the story along, and sometimes it gives the player the feeling of the developers trying to drag out the length of the game. Alice herself even comments on this, in a manor, when asked repeatedly by various characters in the game to do tasks for her, acting as though the level would be much shorter had they simply done teh task themselves. But then, it wouldn’t be a game then, would it?

While it isn’t a perfect game, it is certainly a fun one, and visually, one that will take hold of you, with it’s abstract settings and newspaper cut-out style cut scenes. It’s all very stylized and slick. As an added bonus, the original American McGee’s Alice is included on the disc (unlockable by download on an online pass included with new copies of the game). Playing through it is definitely a treat to those not familiar with the original, though I will say, it hasn’t held up well over time.

If you’re looking for solid action, decent platforming and puzzles, and a intriguing storyline, you needn’t look much further than here. While it may seems a bit unfair at times with the number of enemies beset upon you, the story is one certainly worth going through, and the adventure is truly a fascinating one. Horiffic though it may be for our heroine.

Rating (based on a scale of BUY IT, RENT IT, SKIP IT):


National Graphic Novel Writing Month Day 30: Can Twitter Make You A Better Comic Book Writer?

National Graphic Novel Writing Month Day 30: Can Twitter Make You A Better Comic Book Writer?

Collecting all the Twitter posts we did earlier today. If you’re not following the ComicMix Twitter feed, tsk tsk tsk…

I have written before about the danger of distractions while writing. And Twitter can become a huge timesink.

But Twitter can also actually help improve your comic writing, if you use it properly and understand how and why.

Denny O’Neil had a rule: in a standard six-panel page, there should be no more than thirty-five words per panel.

Two hundred and ten words of dialogue and captions. You have to write tight with no room for error.

Twitter forces you to write dense snippets to carry the maximum impact. Poetry in brevity.

The math works; thirty-five three letter words with spaces is one hundred and forty characters. Convenient.

 Yes, the most common word length is five letters. Err on caution’s side. The discipline’s good for you.

If you must, pretend each tweet is one speaker in a two person conversation. Neither should over-dominate.

Besides, you won’t always have a six panel page. Nine panels breaks to twenty-two words each.

So writing short, memorable, natural tweets can help you write comic captions and dialogue. But there are catches.

First: get in the habit of writing numbers as words. Numerals are rarely used.

Second: no Twitter-speak abbreviations. Write out the full words. Contractions are okay.

Third: don’t repeat what the art already tells the reader. Good advice at any time.

There’s a reason a Tweet looks like a word balloon. People already think that way. Use it.

Remember: you can follow all the NaGraNoWriMo posts here!

DCU Figure Line Wave 15 Hits the Shelf, Later This Summer

DCU Figure Line Wave 15 Hits the Shelf, Later This Summer

Kudos to the king of nerd collector sites, Mattycollector.com for bringing us up to speed on the newest line of figures to hit shelves as part of the DC Universe line of toys this summer. Continuing to bring DC fans a plethora of their favorite golden, silver, and modern age heroes and villains, Mattel is bringing a wave of 7 figures (with a few chases which we’ll describe in a bit) for you to put down your hard earned cash for. Collecting them all this time will nab you the mighty Legion of Super Heroes villain Validus, complete with see-thru-brain head!

Wave 15 (yes, 15!) of the figures include:

  • Starman – Your choice of either the golden age Ted Knight version or his son Jack in his modern garb. Each Starman comes with their respective Cosmic Staff; Ted also comes with his Stellar Energy Pistol. No clue yet which is considered the chase. But we’re counting on you super collectors to get both anyways, right?
  • Raven – Joining that Beast Boy and Cyborg on your shelf comes this fan-choice figure. She comes with high heels and well toned arms. And a big blue cape.
  • Jemm – The crimson skinned Saturnian is in the line, probably to be a stitch in the side of…
  • The Martain Manhunter – That’s right! In case you don’t have him from the JLI set, the JLA Classified Set, or any other set… get your mitts on a little J’onn J’onzz for yourself. He comes in two flavors in the wave… double fisted, or a chase figure packed with a “Martian head sculpt” and a “Martian weapon hand”. Nope, we don’t know what the weapon hand looks like either.
  • OMAC – This one’s for the king, baby! Jack Kirby’s mohawked mighty one man army corps makes his way into plastic kids… scoop him up!
  • Sinestro Corps Batman – Sure it was only drawn into one panel… but we’ll be damned if it wasn’t a cool panel! The Sinestro Corps Dark Knight comes with a translucent bat ring construct.
  • Golden Pharaoh – For the true collector, Golden Pharaoh was a figure release in the original Super Powers action figure line. He comes packed with his Mystical Pyramid Staff and sports a manly translucent purple torso.

Poppy Z. Brite’s ‘Lost Souls’ art by Miran Kim up for benefit auction

Poppy Z. Brite’s ‘Lost Souls’ art by Miran Kim up for benefit auction

From Rachel Bevilacqua, who’s raising money for a child custody court case:

I’m overjoyed to report that a saintly anonymous donor has donated the framed and matted Miran Kim painting of the original cover artwork for the classic Poppy Z. Brite novel “Lost Souls”, and an Advance Reading Copy of the novel.

These items are now up on eBay, and the book will be signed by Poppy Z. Brite specially for the auction winner! This is a unique set of horror genre collectibles that I’m so grateful to be able to auction.

Please also send massive Slack Waves to this donor who wishes to remain anonymous, but who deserves an unstoppable juggernaut of Slack. This person is a really unique individual who deserves every kind of happiness, and it can’t hurt to have a whole bunch of people beaming Slack their way!

Thank you so much for taking an interest in my situation and helping me out, it means more than I can express to know so many people are rooting for me!

ComicMix Radio: Minimates, Minimates, Minimates!

ComicMix Radio: Minimates, Minimates, Minimates!

Action figures are always hot collectibles, but now they have shrunk! What’s the deal with these "minimates" and why are they so hot?

Direct from The New York Comic Con, we have the answer!



And remember, you can always subscribe to ComicMix Radio podcasts via iTunes - ComicMix or RSS!