Tagged: wrong

The Book Cave Episode 243: Rants and Ramblings

The Book Cave‘s host, Ric Croxton goes on a short rant. Afterward, Ric and co-host, Art Sippo, talk about books and everything else that’s on their minds. You would think it would be a short episode with those two talking about what is on their minds, wouldn’t you?

Well, you might be wrong.

Listen to The Book Cave Episode 243: Rants and Ramblings here for the full story.

It’s Sword vs. Staff for a Rogue Angel

Graphic Audio has released Staff of Judea, the 41st audio adventure featuring Rogue Angel as written by Joseph Nassise under the house name Alex Archer.

About Rogue Angel 41: Staff of Judea–
After decoding an ancient scroll—one that purports to pinpoint the treasure of the Jewish Temple, lost for two thousand years—archaeologist Annja Creed agrees to lead the party to recover the find in Judea. It’s a perilous desert journey through sandstorms and bandits, and complicated by mysterious sabotage within the group, to arrive at a long-forgotten fortress deep beneath a mountain. Only then does Annja discover that this archaeological expedition is really one man’s quest for the mystical Staff of Aaron, one of the Bible’s holiest and most powerful relics—a weapon they say can do

Also in paperback

incalculable harm in the hands of the wrong individual. She must try everything humanly possible to prevent the staff from being used for selfish purposes. Even if it puts her in the mightiest battle yet—sword against staff.

Approximate Run Time: 5 hours
Release Date: August 2013
ISBN: 978-1-59950-995-2

Learn more about the Rogue Angel book series here.
Learn more about Graphic Audio here.

Emily S. Whitten: SDCC Part 4 – A Note About Hannibal

Whitten Art 130801As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve watched the first season of Hannibal and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The show is fascinating and horrifying and engaging and cinematically very well done and, dammit, the food makes me hungry sometimes (which is so, so wrong, but omigawwwd, that grape gelatin dessert. I want it! Just…without the human bits, m’kay?).

The show is also not above regular and sometimes slightly terrible puns, which is why I don’t feel the least bit guilty about the title of this column (wait for it), or about saying that although I would have loved to make it to the Hannibal panel or chat with the whole cast and crew while I was at SDCC, I was happy to get at least a taste of production insight by talking briefly with Hannibal’s original music composer Brian Reitzell before BMI’s ‘The Character of Music’ panel discussion (aaaand now the title’s pun lands. Yes, I’m terrible).

We literally had just a few minutes to chat, but in that time, I managed to squeeze in several questions and learn some really neat stuff. So here’s my little amuse-bouche of a conversation with Brian!

How did you end up on the show? Were you a fan of the franchise?

Who’s not a fan? David Slade, who directed the pilot, and kind of really set the stage for everything – I had done a horror movie with him called 30 Days of Night. And that’s very much part of David’s style. I mean, music and sound design as well, you know; so he brought me in. It was his fault!

And did you know all of the Hannibal collection, or just Silence of the Lambs, or what?

I’ve only seen Silence of the Lambs. I haven’t seen the other ones. But I want to see them now; especially the Michael Mann one.

When you’re composing the music, where do you go for your inspiration? And what do you have to go on from the show?

I get the whole show. I don’t read the scripts. I like to sit down and watch the whole show, and instantly start working on it. I like to be like the audience; I don’t want to know what’s around the corner. I actually want to go there myself. So it’s very reactionary. I find that horror music is really good that way.

When you’ve got the food scenes versus the different character scenes, what is your inspiration for these different areas?

It depends on what’s going on. I love the food scenes. I used to be a chef, so I can appreciate all of the detail that goes into it.

I have to say, it makes me feel guilty, because sometimes the food scenes make me hungry.

I know! But saying that, I just keep seeing the shot of him cutting up the pig’s lungs. Those were actual pig’s lungs.

Can you tell me a quirky bit of trivia about your work on the show?

I can tell you that with the last episode, where the Will Graham character is losing his mind; David Slade had said, ‘You know, it’s like…it’s spinning out of control.’ So I thought, ‘Okay.’ And I got this thing called a bullroarer, which is – basically it’s a piece of wood on a string, that you spin around – or a bone. They’ve found one on every continent on the planet, dating back to like, 1700 B.C. And it creates this kind of whirring sound, like a Doppler. I have a few bullroarers, and I have this microphone that has four capsules on it, so it records a perfect surround sound. So what I did is, I set the microphone on the floor, and I took a bullroarer, and I spun it around my head; and it’s literally, in the show, it’s spinning, and it’s like you’re in this vortex; it sounded crazy. And we just kept upping that, so if you’ve seen it, you know, he’s in a dream, he’s in a nightmare, and then he wakes up, and he’s got blood on him, so he’s still there. The realities have completely merged.

For some reason I keep getting these jobs where people are going crazy. I’m not really a TV guy – this is my second TV thing, and the other show I did was called Boss – but in that show, the guy was losing his mind. He had this neurological disorder! And I’m always doing these psycho jobs; but that’s – I’m very proud of that.

Will there be a Hannibal soundtrack, and will it come with snacks?

Actually, there’s been demand for it, which is weird! But I’ve done soundtracks for pretty much everything. Even Boss – we did a double vinyl. And I just did The Bling Ring, so I just did a soundtrack with Def Jam, which is also weird! But yeah, there will be a soundtrack.

And what would be your preferred snack to go with that?

My preferred snack…do you know about the miracle berry? If you eat it, and then you drink lemon juice or eat a lemon, it actually tastes sweet. It takes everything sour and temporarily makes it sweet. It’s a trip. So I’d like to have a miracle berry, which is quite small, and either a lemon or something…or maybe to go even more extreme, you could do something like maybe some fish eggs. It’s Hannibal – it’s gotta be weird!

•     •     •     •     •

I totally agree; and I look forward to eventually listening to the soundtrack, and eating my miracle berry and drinking my shot of lemon juice as I listen to the bullroarer whirl and attempt to hold onto my sanity.

Thanks to Brian Reitzell for this interview, and to BMI for setting it up!

And until next time, Servo Lectio!

FRIDAY MORNING: Martha Thomases

SATURDAY MORNING: Marc Alan Fishman… Well, actually, the woman NEXT to him…


Mike Gold: Beware The Batman – I Call Him Sid

Gold Art 130731O.K. I’ll admit it upfront. I was kind of wrong. I was all prepared to hate Beware The Batman, the new DC Nation animated series.

There are a whole lot of reasons for this. First, I like my Batman to have a forehead. Second, the teevee bastards cancelled Young Justice, which I really enjoyed. So did my adult daughter and, from time to time, either or both of our cats. It was a family experience. Third, the CG is clunky and lame, lacking the grace of the Green Lantern series. Fourth, Lt. James Gordon is as big as the Incredible Hulk and almost as old as dirt. If he didn’t make captain before he got Reed Richards’ hair, he’d counting the days to his pension.

Next-to-last, do we really need a fourth Batman animated series? They did it right the first time, they did it wrong the second time, and the third one was surprisingly entertaining. How many times can you go to the well before you hire Jim Carrey and Arnold Schwarzenegger?

But, most of all, head over heals of all, what they did to Alfred Pennyworth shouldn’t have been done to… oh, say… the Joker. He’s an entirely different character. A military super-Seal MI-6 type, roughly fourteen feet tall, no mustache – indeed, no hair at all, and a chin so pronounced he looks like the illegitimate son of Jay Leno and Bruce Campbell. Simply put, he’s not Alfred. I would have been happier if they called him Sid.

But I dutifully had my TiVo watch the first three episodes and I sat down to watch the first. Maybe it was a case of diminished expectations, but I mostly sorta liked Beware The Batman. I found myself going from the first to the second to the third, and then setting up a season pass for the rest.

Once I got past the stuff about Sid calling himself Alfred, the writing is quite good. Paring Katana with Bats as a de facto Robin works. The whole Task Force Batman thing (my phrase, not theirs) works better here than in the comics. They decided to focus on underused villains that have been mostly unused on television, which is a very smart move. In fact, I’m in favor of any Batman series that doesn’t feature the Joker in the early weeks. Make ‘em work for it. The relationship between Sid and Bruce is solid and convincing, and Bruce doesn’t come off as a douchebag.

As is true with virtually all Warner Bros. projects, the voice work is impeccable. Yes, I miss Kevin Conroy in the lead – he’s had the job longer than any single Batman actor, and that includes Matt Crowley (Google, chillun). But as always, voice casting director Andrea Romano rules.

None of this makes up for what they’re calling Alfred and I call Sid. This is an abomination – but not quite a dealkiller. For a while, in the comics they established Alfred was involved in the World War II French freedom fighter movement with Mlle. Marie, and that worked for me because he was still Alfred – reasonably athletic, extremely clever, and highly effective. They got past this when his World War II service would have defined him as older than Methuselah.

When all is said and done, Beware The Batman is an entertaining show.

But when I watch it, I still think “Oh. You mean Sid.”

WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON: More Betta Emily S. Whitten!!!




ePulp Sampler e-Unearthed!


 A newly released action packed ePulp anthology unleashes 5 new tales inspired by the pulp magazines of the 1920s – 1940s. They are not for the faint of heart. Things will get intense and stuff on these pages can’t be unread.
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Get ready to explore strange worlds, visit forgotten pasts, and delve into parallel histories. Prepare to encounter an eclectic mix of heroes walking the line between life and death.
* Duck as Rurik’s blade carves demons in the Celtic landscape of dark fantasy.
As a rite of passage young Rurik faced a Demonhound. During his trial the creature’s flaming tentacles scarred Rurik leaving a mark coiling up his arm, shoulder and chest. After he triumphed in battle, Rurik carved a bone from the slain creatures body then sharpened it into strange looking sword. Now he patrols the badlands for more monsters and slays them with the very remains of their dead brethren. As the man grew so did his and legend.
* Witness the Dead Reckoner, a battlefield ghost looking for absolution in a weird war tale.
Anaxander Jones enlisted in the British Imperial Army when he was 18. That was in 1876. While assigned to the colonial troops in darkest Africa he found himself embroiled in the Zulu Wars. Armed with superior firepower and roman pride, the British war machine outclassed the savages toting spears and superstitions, but something misfired. Anaxander was infected by a Zulu curse, resurrected as the Dead Reckoner and damned to atone for the sins of empire. Now he’s yanked from battlefield to battlefield throughout history to witness the horrors of war, over and over again.
* Face Nazi occupation of USA with Wild Marjoram in an alternate history.
Wild Marjoram is a blonde haired blue eyed mechanic with a locket that holds the key to her past. This perfect Aryan specimen lives in hiding from the Nazi occupation. If they discovered her, she’s be condemned to the fate of a broodmare. But she’s not the type of girl to give up without a fight.
* Race through the Great Depression on an errand of mercy with Pandora Driver, a noir superheroine.
Pandora Driver was the relentless avenger of the common man. She sifts right from wrong in a realm where the villains were the local gentry and the heroes were outlaws. Pandora was a mistress of disguise who used sly audacity and an unstoppable Car-of-Tomorrow to unleash chaos into the halls of wealth and power.
* Fly across the universe with the Skyracos in a retro sci-fi adventure.
Skyracos are winged warriors who struggle to keep their humanity while executing unsavory missions on alien worlds. Though they hail from the planet Centrus, their technology is based in WWII with a hint of alien super-science. They operate on the frontier of the known and unimagined where they are forced to interpret crises and dispense justice on their terms, or so they think.
Whether you’re a nostalgian, dieselpunk, pulp fan,  sci-fi and fantasy aficionado, or ebook spelunker, there’s something in this collection for you to explore. However, I suggest you sample them all.
They ain’t Shakespeare. They’re  pure Pulp!

“ePulp Sampler Vol 1” is currently available on your favorite eBookstores. Download your free copy before it’s too late!

Barnes and Noble (*.99)
Google Play
Project Gutenberg

Mark Ellis Unleashes Sex, Blackmail and Murder

New Pulp author Mark Ellis has released a sneak peek of his new upcoming book called Rag Baby, now available at Amazon.


Bonaparte “Bone” Mizell, formerly of the DEA, has a problem on his hands: Dale Bristline, his 400 lb. client with a beautiful ex-stripper wife needs help dealing with a blackmailer — Brandy’s first husband has returned from the dead and is making outrageous demands…and she mustn’t be told about it.

When drug-dealer turned sex club owner Bristline needs some help dealing with the blackmailer, cash-strapped Bone accepts the case…and he quickly learns that behind the sunshine and laid-back lifestyle is a dangerous jungle, where sex is big business and jealousy can lead to murder. Bone deals with bikers turned bodyguards, scorned strippers and a lovely Latina sheriff, all out to get him – in one way or another.

As a DEA agent, Bone was used to hitting all the wrong places at just the wrong time. Now a cast of bizarre characters and a storm of violence traps him in a mystery that will take all of his resourcefulness to solve – and survive!

Follow Mark Ellis on Facebook.

Martha Thomases on the Zen of Con

Thomases Art 130719You are at the San Diego Comic-Con, the biggest pop-culture event on the planet. And you may feel a little over-whelmed. So many people. So much to see, so much sound and color. So many nay-sayers, such as myself a week ago.

What should you do?

Let me help. I am going to tell you how to have the best time possible.

It’s not a matter of rules (wear comfortable shoes) or tricks (there is a secret passageway between the Hyatt bar and Hall H, known only to the local Masons). It’s a matter of attitude.


You’ve been planning since you got the programming schedule, and you have your weekend planned out like a military assault.

Give it up.

Well, don’t give it up. Just be prepared for things to go wrong.

The best con experiences I’ve had have been great precisely because I could not have planned them. Perhaps I got locked out of a panel I really wanted to see because of an ever crowded floor slowing my progress, but on the way back, I saw a cosplay staging of all the crews of the various Star Trek series.

Or the people I’ve met, standing in line for signings.

Or the great Italian restaurant you got to through a grocery store, where I took out 15 people for not much more than $200, including drinks. Never been able to find it again. I think it’s like Brigadoon.

You are in one of our nation’s most beautiful cities, on the water, with hundreds of thousands of people who share your interests. Don’t get so caught up I what you’re going to do next that you don’t notice what you’re doing now.

Breathe out. Breathe in.

My point is, if your happiness depends on successfully completing your plans, you will fail. If you have goals, but keep yourself open to possibility, you will have stories to tell.

Stories. Ultimately, that’s what the San Diego Comic-Con is all about.

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman

SUNDAY: John Ostrander


Emily S. Whitten: Deadpool – The Game!

newdeadpoolscreens1Ladies and gentlemen, I have met the Deadpool game, and it is mine.

Mine, mine, mine! And if you try to take it away from me, it will be fighty time.

In other words. I like it. I like it a lot.

(Mild spoilers ahead.)

When I heard that High Moon Studios was going to be putting out a Deadpool game, I got very excited. I mean, heck, I bought the original Marvel Ultimate Alliance because you can play Deadpool, so no shock there. Then I started seeing the trailers, and I was alternately excited and slightly worried – excited because it looked like High Moon had really done their research, and worried because it’s possible to do the research and still get the tone wrong; in particular, by emphasizing the cruder parts of the character at the expense of the (crazy, off-kilter, a little insane) cleverness. It happens in the comics sometimes, depending on who’s writing the character, and it’s pretty off-putting when you’re used to the cleverer Deadpool. The promos had a lot of bits that seemed to indicate that the focus was going to skew towards gross-out or lame sex jokes instead of witty Deadpoolian banter, and that would have disappointed me to no end. But I shouldn’t have fretted.

Sure, there are some really crude bits in this (M-rated) game – in the very first level, where you get to explore Deadpool’s apartment, you have the option to make Deadpool sit right down and, as the proper British would say it, “use the loo.” But the way it plays out makes it less gross and more hilarious, and completely in character with a Deadpool who knows he’s in a video game. Likewise for most of the other jokes in that vein; it’s all about the context and delivery, and the designers (and Nolan North as the voice of Deadpool) nail it here. That’s not to say that some of the humor isn’t a bit juvenile; or that I couldn’t do without a few of the more misogynistic or sex-related references (did there really need to be blow-up dolls in the game? Really?). Some of those references stem from more recent iterations of Deadpool, which is one reason I’m a much bigger fan of the slightly subtler Deadpool humor of the Joe Kelly, Fabian Nicieza, and Gail Simone eras. But overall, the humor works – and after all, Deadpool is, when all is said and done, kind of terrible a lot of the time. He’s funny as hell to read about or watch, but he’s not exactly a guy you want to invite over to hang out.

Happily, there are also a lot of jokes in the game that have nothing to do with bathrooms (or women’s anatomy), and that actually made me laugh out loud. For instance, when the little scene from the game’s promo pics that made me laugh, with Deadpool riding in a little kiddie ride that looks like a rocket, finally shows up, it is even better than in the promos. And there are numerous bits like that. There was actually only one schtick that really hit a completely wrong note for me – in which Deadpool stops to admire a dead female enemy who’s been impaled on a pole. That made me cringe.

But other than that, playing this game as a Deadpool fan (or even if not, I’d wager) is pure joy. Deadpool is a character who’s well-suited to the over-the-top craziness of a video game – he’s all about violence and fun, and he comes with his own pre-written fourth wall-breakage that can be incorporated in some pretty awesome ways in a video game. For instance, at one point in the game, Deadpool opens a door and sees a pathetically unfinished, half designed, green-gridded hallway. So what does he do? Well of course he closes the door and calls up High Moon to threaten them if they don’t get that hallway finished immediately. The door opens again and, voila! it’s fixed.

2427256-mkh4go8There’s a ton of stuff like that in the game, and the best part is, the game never breaks character. For example, when Deadpool dies, he pops up on the load screen with an apropos quip about the situation (My favorite being the “Oh, hey babe! What are you doing he – Wait, I’m what?” reference to his relationship with Marvel’s Death). Everything is written in a Deadpoolian style, and even though it features what could be a “serious” storyline (the plot is something about Mr. Sinister trying to be evil as usual, and Cable trying to get Deadpool to help stop him and save everyone), this is overlaid by Deadpool’s personal storyline – which is that Mr. Sinister killed Deadpool’s contract hit, so now Deadpool isn’t going to get paid. And Deadpool? He mad. Which means that yep, he’s damn sure going to go through the whole story and give Mr. Sinister what-for, and, oh, yes, inadvertently end up helping everybody at the same time and maybe saving the world and stuff; which is just what Deadpool often does. The result is a video game that does actually have some pretty good substance to it – but is, on top of all of that, just plain fun to play.

The Deadpool game is also pretty awesome to watch and listen to. Deadpool himself looks great, the cutscenes are frequent and fun, and the entire story is rife with references to the Deadpool canon from the moment we arrive in Deadpool’s run-down apartment. From an actual “history of Deadpool” program you can watch on Deadpool’s TV (complete with art from the comics and a great “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous”-style narrator) to what happens when you decide to cook in Deadpool’s kitchen, it’s all Deadpool, all the time; although there are also some great cameos by characters like Cable, Domino, and Wolverine. You see alternate Deadpool uniforms; glimpse the face behind the mask; and then the writers even lampshade the way Cable disappeared at the end of Cable & Deadpool by giving him an analogous and obviously lame and nonsensical excuse as to why he can’t stick around and help Deadpool with the mission he’s just given him in-game. It’s the little stuff like that which makes this game fried gold for any Deadpool fan.

The settings are also pretty interesting. I was particularly impressed with Genosha, which is actually depressing as hell if you look at the details they’ve put into the already creepy ruins (a merry-go-round upended by a Sentinel head; several random skulls; scrawlings of “Why?? Why??” and “Rot in Pieces” on the prison walls). It’s a level design that would fit right in with, say, Arkham Asylum. And yet in the midst of all this, we get Deadpool spinning the completely random “Wheel of Insanity”…and landing on “Cow.” At which point, yes, an actual cow flies mooooing through the air, amidst a general “magnetic apocalypse” he’s already dialed up – and meanwhile, Deadpool is platform-jumping up to a rather disturbing but funny scene with Mr. Sinister’s clone. It’s the perfect blend of darkness and light, which is what drew me to Joe Kelly’s Deadpool and made me love reading about him in the first place.

I also love that this is a video game that rewards a player for doing nothing. Because of course. For instance, if you turn on the game but don’t start playing right away, the sleeping Deadpool will eventually teleport from chair to couch, changing uniforms. There are also prompts that you can follow at various points in the game; say, to make something that’s driving poor Wade crazy stop – and if you don’t follow the prompt (maybe because you, I don’t know, think it’s funny to listen to Deadpool cry for awhile) he might, just maybe, shoot himself in the head. Which sounds pretty awful, but in context it’s hilarious. Deadpool’s voice work, done by veteran Deadpool voice actor Nolan North and featuring all three of Deadpool’s voices (his real one and the two in his head, which show up as yellow and white boxes just like in the comics), is also hilarious and awesome. North has great comic timing, and delivers even the craziest lines with panache.

I’ve seen a couple of reviews of the game that note that the gameplay can get monotonous; but I’d disagree. Sure, this might not be a game that always requires finesse – although there are a number of combos you can perform, you can also succeed pretty well some of the time just by mashing buttons; and yes, the basic mobs of bad guys can be killed by the same attacks throughout – but the game switches it up with more powerful enemies and bosses, some of which have different tricks up their sleeves, and most of which do require more skill. And as Deadpool you have access to a pretty fun arsenal, which includes katanas, sais, giant hammers, several types of guns, and a number of mines and grenades. And, oh yes, bear traps. Because bear traps. You can also teleport, which is a great dodge when fighting, and is super awesome when you, say, miss a platform and are falling to your death; because the game allows you to simply teleport back to your last jumping-off point.

Just as important as any of the above, though, is that the constant kill-kill-kill of a lot of action games is broken up regularly by hilarious cut-scenes, random dream sequences, and challenges that require different skills from players (platform and wall jumping, rooms with shifted perspective, a crazy turret sequence involving a Sentinel’s boot…). I love a challenging fight, but a game that can also make me laugh right afterwards is way better. And clearly, from what I’ve been talking about for most of this review, a game that is immersive and enjoyable is just as important to me as a game that challenges me as a gamer.

In conclusion, I love this game. It’s like being in a Deadpool candy store full of Deadpool candy; except that this store is definitely not for kids. So if you’re a Deadpool or Marvel fan, or just looking for an engaging game, and you can handle a little bit of crass humor – then I’d say go for it. Get this game. Because if you don’t, Deadpool will get you. With bear traps.

And until next time; Servo Lectio.




Dennis O’Neil: The Obese Lone Ranger

O'Neil Art 130711I’m hungry. Gimme a plate. No, a bigger one. Bigger. Bigger! Big as a house, a stadium. Now, lemme eat. Eggs and cheese and pork chops and ice cream and popsicles and pickles and brownies and doughnuts and cake and candy and pies and french fries and hot dogs and hamburgers and cinnamon rolls and marshmallows jelly beans and and and…whatever else you got. Gimme!


…don’t feel so good…

And there he goes galloping off into financial ignominy. We, of course, refer to The Lone Ranger and our first paragraph was what we English majors call a “metaphor” – a very bloated metaphor – for what we think is mainly wrong with the much maligned entertainment of the same name.

It got greedy. It wanted too much.

It wanted to be an action blockbuster and a cowboy picture and a kiddie picture and a comedy and a tale of mythic heroism and a satire and, by making the title character a well-meaning doofus with a cruel streak and his Comanche sidekick the real hero, it wanted to acknowledge the shabby treatment Native Americans have often gotten from our popular culture. Go ahead – try to get all that into one movie, even a long one,

Pertinent digression: Back in the sixties, I read work by a journalist named Gene Marine who used the term “engineering mentality,” by which he meant the conviction that if we can build something, we should build it and piffle on the consequences. So we can put up this dam and let’s not bother ourselves with the fact that there may be other, cheaper ways to accomplish whatever this dam is supposed to accomplish without disrupting the environment for miles in every direction. Give a fella a huge budget and by golly he’ll do something with it.

The Lone Ranger had a huge budget.

It might have benefitted from a smaller one. With less money to spend, the film makers might have been forced to decide on exactly which movie they wanted to make and focused plot and action accordingly. Less might have been more.


A final item for all you conspiracy mavens out there: in the embryonic continuity that The Lone Ranger’s creators were devising way back in the 1930s and 40s, probably with no idea that they were doing so, the Lone Ranger had a descendant, Britt Reid, who rode a big car (instead of a big horse) and had an Asian sidekick (instead of Comanche sidekick) and wore a mask and, yes, fought crime. Now: a couple of years ago there was a Green Hornet movie in which the white dude is the klutz and his non-white partner is the real ass-kicker.

One of the Hornet movie’s production team said there wouldn’t be a sequel because of a disappointing ticket sales and the news media are full of the woeful information that The Lone Ranger bombed big time at the box office. Coincidence? You decide.

And one other thing: urp


FRIDAY MORNING: Martha Thomases


Mike Gold: Archie’s Thyroid

Gold Art 130626When I started my first term at DC Comics back in 1976, DC’s then-VP of production Jack Adler told me the story of the biggest comic book the company never published: Blockbuster. It was purported to be a mammoth reprint book, not unlike their 100-Page Spectaculars but maybe five times bigger.

But it was a set-up. Jack said there had been this young artist – now a major comics legend – who had been coming into DC’s bullpen towards the end of the day to work at space vacated by one of the production artists. When nobody else was around, he’d poke around the production product to see what was happening. He would then leak noteworthy events to the fan press… and this pissed DC off. So in order to confirm their suspicions they mocked up a gargantuan reprint book called “Blockbuster” and left stuff lying around when only said leaker was around to see it. He did, he ratted the company out, and DC confirmed his guilt.comicscavalcadetb

I won’t tell you who this artist was for two reasons. Number one, I was young once myself (I am now a 14 year old boy trapped in the pathetic body of a 62 year old who deserves it back). Number two, were I in that position at that time, I probably would have done the same. Actually, I might do that today as well, but I’d do it for ComicMix. The title name was later resurrected for a weekly title featuring revivals of the Charlton heroes, but they changed it to Comics Cavalcade Weekly and commissioned a lot of work before deciding not to do it after all.

You might ask what this has to do with Archie’s thyroid. A couple weeks ago Archie Comics came out with a digest comic with serious glandular issues entitled Archie 1000 Page Comics Digest. This book, of course, reminded me of Blockbuster – except it is real.

Don’t go expecting it on the checkout racks of your neighborhood supermarket. The book is an inch and three-quarters thick. In comic book terms, that’s about, oh, 1000 pages. It retails for $15.00, which is quite a bargain, and places like Amazon have it for a hair over ten bucks. It’s also available digitally in three parts for retail price which, given the cost of printing and shipping and returns, is comparatively a rip.

Unlike Archie Comics’ other recent, slimmer tomes, Archie 1000 Page Comics Digest is mostly limited to fairly recent stories. I enjoy the early stuff quite a lot, but Dark Horse and IDW have been covering those bases with several coats of paint. No cover repros, no intros, the only additions were creator credits. 1000 pages of pure story.

I’m reminded of a time when I was even younger and the saints were battling dinosaurs. My parents would buy me one or two of those Harvey 25-centers (thinking the Archie annuals were gender-inappropriate) or maybe one of those Dennis The Menace or Disney vacation specials, plop me in the back seat of the car next to my sister (who did get those gender-inappropriate Archie annuals, which I also read) and drive off to visit my grandmother in Indiana or maybe to a wooden vacation shack in western Michigan alongside the Burma-Shave signs. They were right: those big bargain books kept me quiet for most of the trip.

If I were in my parents’ position today, I’d buy my kid this Archie 1000 Page Comics Digest in a heartbeat. Evidently Archie thinks highly of the format: they’ve got sequels set for October and December.

More power to them. At this price, you just can’t go wrong.