Friday, April 29, 2016

Flashback: Bones and Treats!

Here's a pair of posts from Krypto's first Bones and Treats!

So, after getting all dressed up, it was time for Jessi and I to pose for some photos before we headed out with the dogs.  If you're wondering what's on the top of the photo here... Jessi was still wearing her witch hat when she took the pictures, and didn't realize the brim was getting in the way... oh, well!

So, we headed over to the Pet Spa for the first stop of Bones and Treats.  Krypto got a chance to see and be seen by some people who hadn't seen him since he was a tiny little puppy!  Everyone who saw us was complimenting me on the Superman costume, which was gratifying.

Unfortunately... I still wear glasses, so I had to leave my glasses in the car when we made our stops (for authenticity purposes, naturally).  Also unfortunately, there were no pockets in the costume, so every stop we made, I had to carry my car keys with me (Jessi didn't bring her purse along).  I'd brought my digital camera with me, but since I didn't have three hands (one for keys, one for Krypto's leash, and one for the camera), I didn't take any other photos.

Our friend Kathy and her boxer, Jaeger, met us there... Jaeger was dressed as "Count Dogula."  Paul and Brigit and their white boxer Claude (who was dressed as a chicken) also joined us in time for the costume contest!  They awarded two prizes for best costume... Claude won one of them... and a dog dressed in a Batman costume won the other one!  Sheesh... don't those people recognize how authentic Krypto's outfit was?  Well, the kids who saw him knew immediately who he was, anyway!

Our friend Alise and her dog, Roca, met up with us after the contest was over, and somehow we lost track of them after that first stop.

The second stop was PetSmart, and we took advantage of that stop to get Krypto on the scale (it claimed he was 61.5 lbs, but we've weighed him at home and he was closer to 65).  I'm pretty sure someone took our pictures there, but I will likely never see those photos.

The next stop was a two-fer... Animal Services and an espresso stand right next to that.  Last year, Animal Services was taking photos, but no such luck this year... the espresso place gave out dog toys last year, but this year they were just giving out dog biscuts.  Still good stops, though!

From there, we went on to South Bay Veterinary Clinic, where they took pictures of all the dogs... and in our case, Krypto and I together.  By this point in our tour, KO was letting us know in no uncertain terms that she did not like wearing her costume... so we ended up taking it off of her (I promised next year, I'd custom-make a costume for her that would fit and be more comfortable).

Both dogs were very excited about all this, to the point of pulling at their leashes all the time!  I don't know if you're aware of this, but boxers are freakishly strong!

Next stop was South Bay Granary, which is always a great stop for Bones & Treats... they're very generous there!  Before we left there, a woman took our picture... which means there's at least two photos out there of Krypto and I in costume that we'll likely never see!

This photo was taken by our friend Paul at PetSmart... but Petco was the next stop in the Bones & Treats tour... by this point, Krypto had pulled so much on his leash that the key ring that was connecting his collar and leash was pulled into a single thickness, as opposed to the double-thickness it started as!

Petco turned out to be a very good stop (as you'll see when I post later today about today's events... yes, that's a tease!).  We signed Krypto up for their costume contest, and got some decent goodies there, too!

Next stop from there was Old Navy... and they gave out one biscuit per dog (once we found what they were doing).  The two most exciting things that happened there were... 1) Krypto pulled the ring entirely off his collar as we were heading in, meaning I had to come up with a make-shift manner of attaching his leash, and 2) KO slipped out of her collar!  From there it was a drive-through stop at a coffee place on the way to the final destination...

...which was Mud Bay Granary, which was the location of the doggie daycare we used to take Krypto and KO to all the time!  Not a lot of exciting stuff to tell about there.

We made one final stop, which wasn't part of Bones & Treats, to Olympic Cards and comics!  Gabi was very impressed with our costumes, and she took some photos herself (which I hope she'll send me copies of!).  I also bought the new comics while we were there.

From there, it was back home, and out of costume!  It had been a very tiring day for us, and we looked forward to a restful and uneventful afternoon.


Thursday, April 28, 2016

Flashback: Reign of the Paragons!

This post originally appeared in March of 2005. I don't know if I'll have anything to add about it at the end or not, so you'll just have to wait and see!

This group of four characters came out of my old Champions campaign, and I'll warn you in advance, this'll probably be a rather lengthy post!

When running Champions games, sometimes the player characters would get some bad breaks in combat runs, and come very close to being defeated... or even seriously injured or killed off! (For the uninitiated, in role-playing games, dice are used to determine the results of combat... and bad rolls can turn the tide of the game very quickly)

Well, that's no fun... I mean, as a game master, one can create villains as powerful as one likes, right?

But no matter how experienced you are, sometimes you'll create a villain who's just too much for the players to handle.

So what to do, what to do?  Well, I created the non-player character of Paragon!

Paragon was basically my version of Superman, and he had pretty much all the Superman powers, as well as the Superman cast -- including the female reporter and the cub reporter pal!

Paragon was too busy with his own responsibilities to join the hero team, but promised he'd help out when he was needed... which would be when the player characters were being beaten badly, and the scenario notes didn't have any plans for what happens if the villains won!

Of course, after I created him, I didn't need him.  But in the context of the game, I still made mention of his current activities.

And then, I was starting a new multi-part scenario involving a villainess I'd created called the Witch, who was the single most powerful villain ever... she was a multiple personality, and in her everyday persona, she was an average housewife... but when she said or sang anything resembling magic words (i.e., "abracadabra," or whatever, she's transform to her other persona, the Witch, a sexy blonde in a miniskirted version of traditional witch's wear.

The Witch was devoted to causing fear and terror... and when she first came forth, her plan was to transform normal people into monsters, and let them loose... the heroes would be busy fighting the monsters without trying to hurt them (because they were really innocents, y'know), she'd hang around to watch the mayhem, then fly off to perform other mischief.

The first meeting with the Witch, I prepared extensive notes... because the first time around, she turned a dozen people into werewolves! I didn't know for sure which characters the players would choose for that scenario, but I knew some of them had vulnerabilities to the werewolves' attacks... so I worked out what would happen if they were so badly injured that they fled...

...I figured how long the heroes' airship would take to get from the scene of battle to their headquarters, and then I figured if they had to flee, Paragon would show up to try to clean up the mess.

Of course, Paragon, being like Superman, was vulnerable to magic-based attacks... and werewolves created by the Witch's magic qualified!  So I ran through the entire battle... and Paragon actually lasted longer than I figured he would.  Thanks to my notes, and a play-by-play announcing what was happening the heroes could listen to on the radio as they ran, I knew if they waited too long... they'd be too far away to get back in time to help, and then Paragon would be dead, dead, dead!

I also worked out notes for the remaining chapters of the scenario, in which the Witch transformed people into vampires, zombies, and golems!  The final chapter, even after the Witch was defeated, was a situation where a running B-plot involving a Godzilla movie festival from a previous scenario became an A-plot, as the heroes had to battle somewhat scaled-down versions of Godzilla, Gamera, King Ghidora, Mothra, and Rodan!

Back to the present, briefly. I should mention here that I was pretty deluxe in my preparations for these games. All of the battles took place on detailed maps I created on my computer and then printed out and pieced together. Whenever possible, I added 3D elements as well, such as buildings, cars, etc. to add some verisimilitude to the proceedings. For this scenario, I planted an item early on, an article I mocked up from the local newspaper they found at one scene which talked about the movie festival. I made miniatures for each of the characters by doing drawings which were scanned and printed out, and then cut out, making them into triangle-shaped pieces that stood up. The kaiju I used were Bandai figures I used to have back then. Now, back to the original story.

With all those notes prepared, I started the scenario... and wouldn't you know it?  The players picked characters who could deal with standard super-villain attacks, but not with dextrous werewolves with sharp claws and pointy fangs!  

Two of the heroes were injured badly, and another was knocked out... the last of the heroes gathered his teammates up, and fled!

And as they fled, and the heroes regained consciousness, they heard of Paragon's arrival on the scene... and the subsequent battle...

...and they never turned back to help.

Paragon died!!!!!

What to do?  What to do?

Well, if you're going to run Champions scenarios, it really, REALLY helps if you're a major comic book geek.

So I decided, since I had "The Death of Paragon," I'd take my cue from "The Death of Superman," and add that as a continuing subplot!

The following week, I created new characters, reworked my notes, and added new sections... and when we reconvened, it was for the Funeral of Paragon!

I think the characters were begining to take over, because I had a few supervillain groups try to cause trouble at the funeral (LaserAvenger was one of the pallbearers... he and Paragon had a friendship already established).  The Falcon Force (remember them?) showed up at one point and killed off my version of Jimmy Olsen before the heroes took them out!

If you don't remember the Falcon Force, it's because you don't remember the early days of this blog. Basically, the Falcon Force were like a villain version of the Battle of the Planets/G-Force characters.

It was after the funeral that things really began to take off... first, the heroes met up with Kid Paragon (the guy at the lower left), although I forget which monsters he helped them with. Kid Paragon was all attitude... and he claimed to be a clone of Paragon... but what the players never found out was that he was a clone created by Rex Ruthless, Paragon's arch foe (and imagine my surprise when reading SUPERMAN/BATMAN a number of months ago when it was revealed that Lex Luthor was a partial donor to Superboy's DNA!)!

There was also Paragon the Avenger, the guy in the lower right.  He claimed he was Paragon reborn, and was as ruthless as his inspiration.

Another battle with the Witch's monsters (I think it was the golems) led them to meet up with Lady Paragon, whose powers were psionic in nature (like the Matrix version of Supergirl), but she had no memory of who she was, or where she came from, other than knowing she was Lady Paragon!  Lady Paragon's the woman at the upper left.

The final battle with the Witch came when she created vampires, and joining the heroes for this battle was Paragirl, the teenager in the upper right!  Paragirl had been around for a while, operating as Paragon's secret weapon, her existence a secret from everyone but Paragon and LaserAvenger.

Paragirl had the same powers as her cousin, and since her powers were solar-derived, that made her abilities very effective against the vampires!

And no, there was no equivalent of Steel in this scenario... I just couldn't come up with a good look for a character, so never created him!

The Witch defeated, it was time for the wrap-up of the entire storyline... remember the Japanese monsters from before?  Well, they appeared all over the Puget Sound area, and different groups of heroes had to battle them, with the Paragon Family helping them out (although I don't remember who helped them fight who... I remember the teenage hero team that Blaze was a part of fought Mothra, and I think Kid Paragon helped them... or it might've been Paragirl).

The heroes managed to defeat the half-sized Kaiju easily enough... until the battle with King Ghidora, who emerged from underneath Lake Washington!

The heroes who met up with the three-headed monster were very much outclassed... but suddenly, there was a burst of energy... and in the midst of the battle, from the energy came...

...wait for it...

...Paragon, alive and well!

With his help, Ghidorah was defeated.

So, how did Paragon survive his death?  Where did Lady Paragon come from, as well as Paragon the Avenger and Kid Paragon?

Well... like I said, it helps to be a comics geek!  A situaton like that is easy to resolve!

You see, in the not-too-distant future, Paragon is revered, and his descendants help keep the peace of the future world.  Thanks to breeding with humans and other super-people, not all the descendants of Paragon had the same powers as he did.

Take for example the case of his great-grandson and his great-granddaughter.  His great-grandson had the same powers as Paragon did, and even looked like him, while his sister, Lady Paragon, had psionic abilities.

Going through historical archives, the current Paragon read of the death of his great-grandfather's death in the past... there was a big gap in the history, thanks to an event that remained a mystery, but the current Paragon decided that something had to be done... there was a paradox to be resolved!

Using an experimental time travel device, the current Paragon traveled back in time, sending his great-grandfather to the future, so he could take his place... so it was Paragon's great-grandson who had actually died!

But in the future, since their current Paragon had not returned from the past, his sister went after him... despite the warnings that if the machine didn't have enough time for proper calibration, there could be side-effects of the trip... in this case, amnesia!

By the time the machine could be properly re-calibrated so Paragon could return to his own time, enough relative time had passed that he didn't return for some weeks after his "death."

Paragon had no idea where Kid Paragon came from, as he didn't know where the cells could have come from... and Paragon the Avenger was another mystery, although he had his suspicions.  Lady Paragon would return to her own time soon.

Whew!  As long as this entry was, you can imagine how many pages long the detailed notes were!  

As a postscript to this... after this scenario was done, one of the players in the group was short of characters that he was happy to play, and we tried to get him to take over playing Kid Paragon (who had been written up so that he could be a player character).  The Kid's personality would've been easy for that player, Anthony, to play... because their personalities were so similar to begin with!

The scenario was a lot of fun to run... and I was very pleased with myself for taking what could've been a bad situation, and make it appear as if I'd planned this thing all along!

Back to me again for the wrap-up. I still have fond memories of this group, and sometimes wish I could find a new group to game with... but when the heck would I have the time?

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Flashback: Beatles Comics They Never Made!

Man, I seem to be picking stuff from the first two months of this blog! I'd posted these on March 19, 2005, although I'd previously used them for my "Cover Stories" column on a different website. As was my tradition at the time, I didn't specifically say that these were faked-up covers I'd made, but I figure people were in on the gag. In this flashback, I'm posting the covers in a larger size.

aharddaysnightSomeone at Dell Comics knew a good thing when they found it!

One of Dell's biggest-selling comic books for this year was their comic book adaptation of the Beatles movie "A Hard Day's Night."

I'm not sure who did the artwork on it... but whoever it was, they captured the look of John, Paul, George and Ringo very well... probably working from photos of the Fab Four taken both before and while the movie was in production. However, the other characters (i.e. Shake, Paul's Grandfather, etc.) don't bear much resemblance to their movie counterparts!

This is kind of surprising, considering there was a paperback book based on the movie, with loads of photos (been a while since I've seen a copy, but I seem to recall it was kind of fumetti style). 

The movie is adapted faithfully... although whenever the Fab Four broke into song, instead of breaking it up into panels, the lucky reader was treated to a single full-page panel (these must have been drawn from stills taken during filming -- the cover image of the Beatles performing on TV is almost exactly duplicated in the drawn interiors), with the lyrics to the song being printed (yes, printed -- all typeset nice and everything) above the illustration.

Some bits of the movie were more or less dropped... i.e. John Lennon's visual pun on snorting Coke (Coca-Cola, to be exact), but overall, a very fine presentation of the movie in comics form!

The Beatles #1
Flush with the success of their adaptation of "A Hard Day's Night," Dell produced this follow-up issue about a year later.

The artwork seems to be by the same unknown artist who adapted the movie the previous year.

Note that the cover doesn't refer to any specific story within this issue -- My guess is that the covers for this projected series would've stayed pretty generic, so they could put whatever stories in the books they wanted. 

There were two stories in this issue. The first one, "The Beatles Visit Las Vegas," was really bizarre in many ways -- we're all familiar with how DC Comics would pun on names of real-life places and people? Well, this was very much the case here -- all the casino names were either puns on existing casino names, or alluded to them somehow (for example, instead of the Aladdin, it's the Sinbad, keeping with the Arabian Nights idea).

The story itself? The Beatles are to perform a concert in Las Vegas (something I don't believe they ever did for real), and shortly after arriving, they are mistaken by police for a group of four criminals who are doing their own variation on "Ocean's 11" (the criminals also look a little
like the Beatles, except that, naturally, their hair isn't in a Beatle cut, and they don't speak with a British accent!). In order to make it to their concert on time, the Beatles have to first talk their way out of being held by the police, and then find and capture the bad guys who look like them!

The funniest bit for me in this story was the name of the criminal who looked like Ringo... this guy was the leader of the group, and was named "Big-Nose Starkey" (which was evidence to me that the writer was at least familiar with the Beatles history). "Big-Nose" received his nickname not only because he had a big nose, but also that he liked to claim he could smell a good crime from miles away! He was also in the habit of buying and wearing an additional ring after each crime succeeded!

The second story was a bit more prosaic... "The Beatles Out West," which almost sounds like a Beatlesque version of the Marx Brothers movie, but which is a bit different. In this take, the Beatles are taking a brief break between concerts, and decide to spend a week at a dude ranch out in the middle of nowhere to relax. (As an aside, another sign the writer was somewhat familiar with the Beatles history pops up here, as in the sequence when the Beatles decide to take a break, John picks up a phone and calls "Brian" (apparently Brian Epstein) to tell him they're changing their travel plans.

The dude ranch is one of those typical dude ranches that crop up in stories like this... they're barely making ends meet, the bank's getting ready to repossess the property because they can't pay their loans, etc. The Beatles decide they need to help save the dude ranch, which they do by the logical means of...

... you thought I was going to say hold a benefit concert? Perish the thought! This is comics, after all! (Besides, their instruments were already on the way to the next concert site, which isn't mentioned). The Fabs decide that since the dude ranch needs $10,000 to pay their loan
off, and since the local rodeo is offering a prize of that exact same amount to the winner of the rodeo, that one of them has to train for a week and win the rodeo.

Anyone want to guess which of the four gets chosen to become a cowboy? Ringo, naturally -- who gets trained by the sexy rancher's daughter (there's always a sexy rancher's daughter -- Paul initially makes a play for her, but she admires Ringo's stick-to-itiveness when it comes to learning how to ride a bucking bronco, and so forth).

Naturally, Ringo does manage to win the rodeo, thanks to some "fancy trick riding" (which naturally, means that Ringo was hanging on for dear life and accidentally doing all the trick riding).

You haven't lived until you've seen Ringo all duded up, with 10-gallon hat, vest, chaps, etc... but still wearing his Beatle boots! 

Apparently, sales weren't quite so good on this issue, although rumors persist that a second issue was indeed created and printed, but was only sold overseas.

Yep... Dell's not following up their Beatles license let Gold Key produce this adaptation of the Beatles' second movie, and it was just at the right time, as they needed some high-profile stuff on the market. 

Just as a side note: Dell apparently never forgot that they made a mistake letting the Beatles property go, and when the Monkees came out, they published about 16 or so issues of a book based on the Monkees! 

I'm thinking Dan Spiegel did the artwork for this comic book, but it's kind of hard to say -- apparently he didn't ink it, someone else did, but in a few panels, it definitely looks like his stuff (however, other comics history scholars point out this book would've been done by the East Coast GK staff, while Spiegel was West Coast staff, so it must've been someone else).

More stills must've been available for this one, as there are a large number of panels that are exact matches for photos I've seen from this movie. Ã…s with the "Hard Day's Night" Dell comic, when a song was happening, the lyrics would be on the top of a full page panel, except that these panels were sort of collages in a way -- "Help!" had more plot happening with the songs than the previous movie did, after all!

Gold Key played it smart -- they didn't let the Beatles license go, and apparently they had no problem getting the license to produce a comic based on the animated series that was on ABC-TV. 

This also opened the way for their Beatles one-shot based on "The Yellow Submarine," I suspect!
Unlike the animated series -- which was basically an animated music video, with some short sequences before and after each song (and the plot was also based on the song -- one of these days, these will be available on DVD, and I'll be getting it and watching it immediately!) -- the comic book version had more plots, and no songs at all (apparently, there was a problem with
the rights to use lyrics, so aside from some generic "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah" stuff happening when they performed, there was little plot with them actually performing music).

The cover-featured story may have been an unused Gold Key plot, just because of the idea being the Beatles go somewhere to perform a concert, and get involved with something funky happening that they have to solve.

"The Phantom of the Eiffel Tower" opens with the Beatles arriving in Paris, naturally, and we're treated to a few panels of the Fab Four doing a bit of sightseeing on their way to the hotel. (Their taxi driver apparently was padding the fare some... They pass the Arc D'Triomphe in one panel, which Paul identifies by name, and a few panels later, they pass it again, causing John to remark, "And there's the sequel to the Arc D'Triomphe, Let's D'Triomphe Again!"

The Beatles are to perform a concert at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, naturally, and just as naturally, the Phantom appears to disrupt things during their rehearsal (just before the Phantom appears, George says, "Great radio antenna -- they must get great reception!"). The Phantom, strangely enough, is dressed like Mickey Mouse's old foe, the Phantom Blot! The Phantom sends some lights crashing down on stage (Ringo: "He nearly got my rings with those things!"), and then yells out that there will be no rock and roll at the Eiffel Tower!

Naturally, the boys have to investigate, and eventually, discover that the Phantom was a Frank Sinatra-type singer who had just signed a record contract, all set to be a teen sensation, until the Beatles came out, driving his record off the charts so fast his own label doesn't remember him
anymore). Paul is sympathetic to the Phantom's plight, and offers to help him "update his style for the times" -- with the last panel of the story being the Phantom, now sporting a Beatles haircut, and wearing clothing like the Beatles (except in green), with the Beatles performing as his back-up band!

A one-page story called "Ring-a-Ding Ringo" follows, which is similar to many of the Archie comics one-page gags (this one involving Ringo trying to answer phones for his girlfriend, a receptionist, while she gets a cup of coffee -- by the time she returns, Ringo's all tangled up in phone lines, letting her deliver the punch line when George calls, "Ringo can't come to
the phone right now, he's all tied up!").

The second story in this issue isn't quite as entertaining as the first -- and one I think was adapted from one of the cartoons, but I could be wrong! "King Klong, Jungle Gorilla" escapes from a circus, and naturally, he's very dangerous unless he hears music. Of course, he runs into John, Paul, George and Ringo, and they accidentally discover that King Klong will only calm
down when he hears music -- so we're treated to several pages of reaction gags as the Beatles lead the gorilla back to the circus while singing and playing their instruments (Ringo can't carry his drums, naturally, so he plays whatever he can find along the way). Lots of visual gags here, such as people becoming so scared they jump to the top of a telephone pole, someone having an accident with their car and trying to explain they crashed because they saw a gorilla following four Beatles, etc. 

Apparently, at least two other issues were produced, but I never found them anywhere!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Flashback: 100 Things I Love About Comics!

This post originally appeared in two parts, on March 8 and 9 of 2005, so it's over 11 years old! I'll add a few new comments here and there.

Well, it's been a while since my last blog entry... I'm afraid Krypto has taken up a lot of extra time so far! But I'm going to get back to posting regularly now!

And I'm starting with this... 100 Things I Love About Comics. Yep, everybody's doing it, and now it's my turn!

So... in no particular order...

1. THE FANTASTIC FOUR by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Thankfully, most of these books are available in cheap reprints!

2. COMICS HISTORY BOOKS & MAGAZINES. Whether it's the various TwoMorrows magazines or the many, many books about comics, I love learning more about the history of this hobby!

3. STERANKO'S HISTORY OF COMICS. Yeah, this kind of ties back to #2, so sue me. For years, this was my "Holy Grail" of comics history books. When I was out of work for a while, these were the among the only books I refused to sell!

4. TONY'S ONLINE TIPS. Yeah, Tony doesn't always write *about* comics... but his daily column is great reading every day!

5. SPIDER-MAN: THE '67 COLLECTION. This DVD set of the classic Spidey cartoon reconnects me with my childhood every time I pop a disc in!

6. JLA/JSA CROSSOVERS. Thankfully reprinted (for the most part) in the CRISIS ON MULTIPLE EARTHS TPBs, I've loved these stories for years and years and years!

7. MEGO SUPER-HERO FIGURES. I had many of these as a child, re-collected them as an adult, sold 'em off... and wish I could afford to buy 'em all again! For my generation, these were *the* super-hero action figures!

8. JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED. This is fast becoming my favorite superhero cartoon... EVER!

9. ALL-STAR SQUADRON/YOUNG ALL-STARS/INFINITY, INC. Yep, it's a three-fer here, with Roy Thomas' wonderful Earth-2 titles, which I love reading over and over again! Throw in Roy's SECRET ORIGINS issues in there, too!

10. CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS HARDBACK. This was an anniversary present from my late wife, and it's a cherished possession. Even though some things happened after it that weren't great, I still love this story.

Back to the present again. I still love all those things, but in the interim since I posted this, I've sold off all of my TwoMorrows magazines, as well as my Crisis hardback and pretty much all of my Essentials. Haven't watched the Spider-Man DVD in forever, though, and I think it's about time to re-read the Steranko books.

11. PETER DAVID'S HULK. Some of my favorite comics ever! You never knew what to expect!

12. CORGI BATMOBILES. These die-cast Batmobiles are just freakin' cool, and they're on my shelf!

13. KRYPTO THE SUPER-DOG. Yep, the inspiration for my own Krypto!

14. ESSENTIAL _________. I love this format! It's great being able to read all these great old Marvels in a big chunk.

15. DC ARCHIVES. Admittedly, right now, I only own a few THUNDER AGENTS volumes, but I want to get nearly all of 'em.

16. QUARTER BOXES. When I hit a comics convention with quarter boxes, I love going through 'em and finding deals!

17. SIMON AND KIRBY COMICS. Name any of 'em, I love 'em!

18. GOOD MARVEL MOVIES. And it's about time, too! I hope FANTASTIC FOUR can be counted among them!

19. INTERNET MAILING LISTS. These have allowed me to connect with fellow fans in ways I'd never imagined possible!

Of course, since this list was done, Peter has been long off the Hulk. I'm not sure what the heck I was referring to with Corgi Batmobiles, though... I've got the Hot Wheels one, but never a Corgi one! Quarter boxes at conventions have given way to 50 cent boxes. While Fantastic Four wasn't a great Marvel movie, it was better than the reboot was, wasn't it? I think when I posted this, Spider-Man was still pretty recent in my mind.

20. BLOGS. Peter David's Blog is high on this list, but there are others I love to check out every day, to get insights into the minds of some of my favorite creators!

21. DIRECT SALES COMICS SHOPS. Thanks to them, I never have to miss an issue of any title I want!

22. JOHN BYRNE'S FANTASTIC FOUR. My second-favorite run on the title!

23. WALT SIMONSON'S FANTASTIC FOUR. My third-favorite run!

24. MARK WAID'S FANTASTIC FOUR. My fourth-favorite run (but a real close fourth!)


26. DC'S GREATEST STORIES... TPBS. I know, they haven't done any of these in a long time, but those are great reprint sets!

27. COMICS ON CD-ROM. Something that should've been happening long ago! I've got the first Marvel set, and plan on getting the Spidey and FF sets soon! When will DC produce these???

28. WILL EISNER'S SPIRIT. 'Nuff said!


30. THE ESSENTIAL ANT-MAN. If Marvel will produce this, that means there's always a chance of other oddball essentials!

31. EMERALD CITY COMIC-CON. Finally, Seattle has a great comics convention!

32. MID-OHIO CON. Haven't been to one in a few years, but it's long been my favorite comics convention, even over SAN DIEGO and WIZARD WORLD CHICAGO!

33. EBAY. A way to buy comics from people all over the world!

34. FELLOW COMICS FANS. There's just something too cool about talking with a fellow fan about this hobby... especially when you connect on so many different levels about comics!

35. COMIC BOOK CHRISTMAS ORNAMENTS. Whether they're from Hallmark or other manufacturers, it's very cool to me to be able to put super-heroes on my Christmas tree!

36. THE GRAND COMICS DATABASE PROJECT. Where else can you learn so much about who did what, and check out great cover galleries of almost any comics title you can think of? A labor of love, and it's free!

37. SILVER AGE SUPERMAN COMICS. They're weird, they're wacky, and more than a little mysognistic, but great fun!

38. DC 80-PAGE GIANTS/100-PAGE SUPER-SPECTACULARS. When I was a kid, I loved getting these!

39. THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN TV SHOW. Many of our first impressions of Superman were courtesy of this program!

40. THE FLEISCHER STUDIOS SUPERMAN CARTOONS. Still the best after all of these years!

41. POWER RECORDS BOOK AND RECORD SETS. In the 70s, all the kids wanted these, so they could read a comic while listening to the dialogue and sound effects! Great stuff... I wish they'd be reissued on CD!

42. BOOMERANG CHANNEL. Just because of all the funky superhero cartoons they show!

43. FAMILY CHANNEL. Just because they re-run more recent Spider-Man and X-Men cartoons!

44. CHAMPIONS: THE SUPER ROLE-PLAYING GAME. I used to run a group that played this game, and it was always a blast!

45. ADOBE PHOTOSHOP. Think this doesn't fit? You need to read DRAW! and find out how much this incredible software is used these days in creating comics!

46. WALLY WOOD'S THUNDER AGENTS. I've always had a soft spot in my heart for Dynamo and the gang!

47. THE MIGHTY CRUSADERS. Ditto on these guys!

48. TONY ISABELLA COMICS. Yep, he's a buddy of mine, so what? I think his comics are good readin'!

49. JACK KIRBY'S NEW GODS. Need I say more?

50. AVENGERS/JLA BY BUSIEK AND PEREZ. It was decades in the making, and well worth the wait!

51. DC DIRECT FIGURES. These figures are just fantastic... the company just keeps producing figure after figure I never expected to see for sale, such as the Earth-3 Crime Champions!

Since posting this, I've been selling off all my DC Direct figures, and don't really plan on getting them repurchased.

52. THE KREE-SKRULL WAR. This Roy Thomas-written, mostly Neal Adams-drawn series of Avengers stories was just fantastic, and set the standard for cosmic sagas to come!

53. CHARLTON AND GOLD KEY COMICS. These two publishers seem to get a lot of short shrift from the magazines about comics... and yeah, Charltons especially were of variable quality, but there's some fun stuff to be found in these publisher's wares... and I'm not even just thinking of stuff like E-MAN, DOOMSDAY + 1, MAGNUS, or DOCTOR SOLAR! My personal favorite GK books, for example, are MIGHTY SAMPSON and DOCTOR SPEKTOR.

54. MARVEL REPRINT COMICS OF THE 70s. When I was a kid, this was a very cool way to get "up to speed" on the Marvel super-heroes!

55. THE MARVEL SUPER-HEROES CARTOONS OF THE 60s. The animation was god-awful, but the stories were taken nearly unchanged right out of the comics! I just wish things would get cleared up so these can be released on DVD soon!

56. TEEN TITANS/TEEN TITANS GO! This Cartoon Network series is introducing all kinds of kids to the Titans, and getting fans that wouldn't have ever picked up a comic book! Initially, I have to admit, I didn't care for it's unique blend of American comics and Japanese anime, but it's grown on me!

57. MCFARLANE TOYS. Okay, this is real peripheral... but if it weren't for Todd McFarlane deciding to create his own line of action figures, I'd never have been able to get Beatles action figures on my shelves!

58. ALL IN COLOR FOR A DIME/THE GREAT COMIC-BOOK HEROES. OK, I did mention books about the history of comics before, but these two books stand out for me... they were the very first two books I ever bought and read about comics history, and I still love 'em today!

59. GREAT COMIC BOOK SHOPS. There are good comics shops, there are bad comics shops, and then there are great comic book shops. Olympic Cards and Comics is one of the great ones, here in Olympia. Lady Jayne's Comics and Books was another one in Tacoma (but sadly not in business in a storefront anymore). So is Comic Book Ink in Tacoma.

60. CHEEKS THE TOY WONDER'S WEB SITE. I'll have to post the URL for this sometime, even if it's not quite in full operation any more. If you've seen his pages before, you know he loves comics, even when he's being critical of them!

61. COMICS TRIVIA CONTESTS. I used to participate in these, at MID-OHIO CON and other places... and now, I get to MC one at EMERALD CITY COMIC-CON!

62. MEETING COMICS PROS. I love it that thanks to comics conventions, I get to meet people who created some of my favorite comics and tell them how much their work has meant to me!

63. KURT BUSIEK'S AVENGERS. My second-favorite run of the title (the first is the Lee and Thomas runs... and yes, I count them as one... so sue me!). I can't believe Marvel has messed up the Avengers so much these days!

64. JULIE SCHWARTZ. I trust I don't need to say more!

65. GIL KANE. One of the masters of comics art!

66. STAN LEE. 'Nuff said!

67. GIVING COMICS CREATORS THEIR DUE BEFORE THEY PASS AWAY. Too many classic comics creators never received the proper recognition of their work before they passed away... and I think it's great that these guys can get their accolades at comics conventions!


69. THE JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA. Thank goodness they have a regular title these days!

70. SMALLVILLE. I love this show! Yes, it has its clunker episodes... but even the best series have them (can you say "Spock's Brain"?).

71. LOIS & CLARK: THE NEW ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN. This was the show that was directly responsible for my meeting my late wife, Barbara.

If I were doing this list these days, I'm pretty sure I'd be dropping Smallville and L&C and replacing them with some of the more recent DC shows, which are even better than those two!

72. LITERATE COMICS OF THE 1970s. By "literate", I mean those books that expanded my vocabulary. I should include the books of the 60s as well!

73. SMART COMICS OF THE 60s AND 70s. I love it that I was able to learn all kinds of useless stuff from comics... like what a googol is, or the difference between stalactites and stalagmites!

74. TRADE PAPERBACKS. These great reprint collections ensure that I'll get a chance to read comics I can't afford to purchase the originals of!

75. KAMANDI, THE LAST BOY ON EARTH. Why nobody's developed an animated series of this for Cartoon Network is beyond me, because I think it would be all too cool!

76. BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES. The program that showed how to *really* do Batman on TV and in animation!

77. SUPER FRIENDS. Seem like a contradiction? Well, for years, this show as the only way to get your super-hero tv fix!

78. DC DIRECT PVC's. Smaller and cheaper than statues, this line is a joy to behold... And thanks to the Smallville set, I could add another Krypto figure to my collection!

79. COMIC BOOK ADVERTISING OF THE 60s AND 70s. For me, a good part of the fun of reading old comics is checking out the ads! I find myself wishing someone would produce a nice book reprinting some of these!

80. COMIC BOOK LETTER COLUMNS. Another part of the fun of reading old comics is seeing the letter columns, and recognizing the names of people who would later work in comics! Too bad the trade paperbacks omit the letters pages!

81. MARVEL BULLPEN BULLITENS/DC DIRECT CURRENTS. These pages were always a kick when I was a kid... it let me, in a way, see the inner workings of the companies, like it was a secret shared with a small, intimate group!

82. THE ROCKETEER. Both the original comics and the movie... I loved 'em both, and still do!

83. MEGATON MAN/NORMALMAN. These two parody books are titles I always enjoyed reading, and probably the best parody books ever!

84. ARCHIE COMICS. OK, I don't read these, much... but they're out there, and are probably most kids' first exposures to comics... so they're on my list!

85. THE COMIC BOOK LEGAL DEFENSE FUND. A great group, and a worthy cause!

86. CLAREMONT'S X-MEN. At least up to and including the issues with Paul Smith's art, these were great comics... and I've got 'em all in ESSENTIAL format!

87. CAPTAIN ACTION. The first super-hero action figure, and one of the best! I loved Playing Mantis' short-lived revival of him, as well.

88. ODDBALL COMICS. By this, I mean any weird and wacky comics title, especially those that lasted a very short while, mostly from the 60s and 70s.... whether it's the android Captain Marvel, or stuff like DC's titles that were cancelled in the DC IMPLOSION, getting my hands on these is always a kick... even when the contents are abysmal!

89. SUPERMAN THE MOVIE. I did believe a man could fly!

90. COMIC BOOK PROSE NOVELS. When I can latch onto one of these, I get it! Good reading, for the most part!

91. OBSESSIVE COMICS FAN SITES. I love it when I come across a web site that a fan has set up that's obsessive in its detail about a particular comics creator, title, or character! 

92. HOMEMADE COMICS. It doesn't matter if these are drawn by kids (as I did), or teenagers, or adults... the fact that people would love comics so much that they'd create their own is something I love!

93. COMICS NEWS WEBSITES. Yes, some of these throw out rumors and state them as facts, but they serve my need for new comics news at least five days a week!

94. BIZARRE COMICS MERCHANDISING. Every now and then, I come across an item that's just too weird for words... such as the Spider-Man Workout and Fitness Video... where one wonders just what someone was thinking! But they're always fun when you find 'em!

95. ALEX ROSS. The guy shows us what super-heroes would really look like, and he does it so well!

96. JOHN BUSCEMA. One of the best comics artists, ever!

97. SAL BUSCEMA. Sal was probably one of my greatest art influences, thanks to his near omni-presence in comics in the 70s!

98. CHARACTER REVIVALS. When one of the comics companies brings back a character or group of characters I love, it's great... at least until I read 'em and find out they didn't get what made the character work for me! But at least there's always the chance that the revival will bring back what I missed!

99. FRANK MILLER'S DAREDEVIL. Best run of the title ever.

100. ALL THE STUFF I LEFT OUT. Yep, I'm sure that if I were to look over this list again in a few days, I'd discover there were all kinds of things I forgot... so this is a catch-all!