Saturday, October 07, 2006

The Incredible Internet Guide to Comic Books & Superheroes

So, today, Jessi and I headed up to Tacoma to visit my dad in the hospital, who's recovering from having his appendix removed (he's doing fine, by the way). Before stopping at the hospital, we stopped at Half-Price Books in Tacoma to get him some Zane Grey western novels to read while he recuperates.

Well, while we were there, Jessi found a few items of interest to me in the Super Buy section... such as the above-mentioned book for $1.00! Naturally, I picked it up.

Now, for a buck, I didn't expect much. And boy, was I not disappointed! This was part of a while series of books that supposedly found sites that you couldn't find with a search engine... and this one in particular was pretty darn lame, if you ask me! Fully half the book was devoted to a chronological listing of appearances of different comic book characters (not having a thing to do with the internet, save that they must've pulled it from one site or another).

Of course, the problem with doing a book like this is that from the time it goes to press to the time it goes on sale, many sites will end up being abandoned or just plain go missing! Heck, even this book's own website is pretty much gone (it appears they abandoned the site, and it's now a generic ad site these days).

But, just for the heck of it, I figured I'd try out some of the URL's this book lists, and see what's actually still left standing! Any site that's still active will be represented with a link you can click... otherwise, it'll just appear as text.


The first site mentioned is, which the book promises you can go to to chat with other comic fans and download images. That site is gone.

Next up is, which still exists. Of course, like with all price guides, it's merely a guide -- the real value of any comic book is, naturally, what someone else is willing to pay for it!

I decided, on a whim, to see what a NM copy of Power of Shazam! #1 is listed at... and they have it for $4.00 (with, naturally, a copy for sale). I once bought a copy of this issue that would at least grade at VF+ for 50 cents at a comics show.

The next site they mention is -- but that site has been absorbed into Superhero Hype, and you can find the real page at It seems to still be pretty active, as one would consider a sub-site of Superhero Hype to be!

At the end of the introduction, they also list some publisher's websites (presumably as a way of not getting into trouble with said publishers). The publisher sites they list are for Asylum Press, Caliber Comics, Chaos Comics, Dark Horse Comics, DC Comics, Diamond Comic Distributors, Event Comics, Gemstone Publishing, Marvel Comics, and Top Cow Productions. Event Comics I've never heard of, and that website is gone. They've got an outdated listing for Dark Horse's website.

I find it strangely amusing that there's no listing at all for Image Comics... very strange, considering the book was published in 2000. Heck, they don't even list Archie Comics, and I'm sure there are other publishers more prominent than some they listed who weren't included, either.

Batman Films

Most of the movie and tv show listings in this book begin with a link to the allmovie.compage, with lots of long URLs that don't work anymore anyway... so I won't mention any of those with the rest of these.

I've never checked out before (my usual website I go to is the Internet Movie Database), and from what I've seen there, they appear to be sort of an wannabe, except that the "buy" link doesn't work at all.

So... moving on... next up on their list of Batman Films & TV is -- but whatever was originaly there, it now redirects you to the Warner Bros. Online website. The website after that was supposed to be a link to the Batman Forever script at God Among, but that page doesn't exist anymore. A similar link to a different page with a Batman Returns script is gone these days, too (as is the entire site that hosted it). Next was "Catwman's Torture Chamber" at, but that entire site is also gone.

But never fear... the next link still actually exists -- kind of. It's the Comics2Film entry on Batman 5 (as it was referred to back when this book was published), but the URL provided is redirected to the proper Batman Begins page -- but it's simpler to just to to C2F and search for the movie you want to read about, right?

The same goes for the IMDB links they provide in this book for the Batman movies. And I won't even bother looking at any other "Batman 5" links (which there was just two others). The final entry in this section was for an AOL Hometown page that doesn't exist, either.

Surely, there had to be some active, valid websites about the Batman movies somewhere, eh? But none are to be found in this book.


So, skipping the, comics2film and IMDB sites they list (which are probably outdated links anyway -- they could've just said, "Go to the front page and search for the movie you're interested in" and be done with it)... the link provided for the "Official Film Site" takes you to a generic Lycos front page (which, seriously, I had no idea was still around). The link provided for the New Line Cinema page also doesn't work at all. So, no valid Blade sites to be had here!

Casting Calls

Oh, this should be amusing, if any of them still exist! These sites offer people the chance to voice their opinion as to who should be cast for which character in movies that aren't even announced.

Amazingly enough, the very first item, The Alpha Flight Casting Call Page, is still up... although it hasn't been updated since December of 1999!

The next site listed was "Casting the Birds of Prey" -- and while the host site, is still running, that casting page is not.

The Comic Book/Movie Connection Casting Couch page is completely missing. So is the Young Justice Casting Call (it seems like sites hosted on Xoom and go away quickly).

Comic Book Film News

So... the first item they list is the main Comic Book/Movie Connection site, which is history. The next site they mention is a newsgroup (who reads newsgroups these days?), and I won't even worry about listing any newsgroups at all here.

Then there's three entries in a row for Comics2Film -- the main page, the index and glossary page, and the link to the columns hosted at Comic Book Resources -- again, much simpler to just go to the main page and then click on the column...

The Dark Horizons page still works, although I don't see that it's especially geared towards comic book-based movies.

Next offered is "Generation Grrl" -- but that's an AOL Hometown page, and those seem to disappear as fast as the Xoom and ATT pages do! The Mr. Showbiz: Comic Book Cinema page is listed next, but that ends up redirecting you to

The Crow

Not a single Crow website listed properly works -- just go to or the IMDB to look it up if you need to.

Miscellaneous Comic Book Film Sites

Skipping the lame link, the Captain America in Movies page is history (as is the hosting site), the movie site redirects you to the DC Comics Wildstorm page, the Mystery Men movie website redirects to Universal Pictures, the Punisher movie page can't be found (nor can the host), and then there's the Unofficial Tank Girl Website -- which still works, but is just a Tank Girl fan site, mostly focusing on the comics.


Amazingly enough, the Spawn - The Movie fan site on geocities they list is still up... even if the "Spawn Zone" (also on geocities) is long gone.


OK, I know -- KNOW -- there are, and have been, lots of excellent websites focusing on the Superman movies with Christopher Reeve. None of them are listed here. There's AllMovie links, IMDB links, a C2F link... and aside from that, a link to a Geocities page that purported to have Kevin Smith's original script for Superman Lives, but that page is gone forever.


Aside from the lame AllMovie, IMDB and C2F links (not that those sites are lame, but providing links to specific pages on them is), there's not a single X-Men Movie page that's still around.

The book's movie section also has a section on "Future Feature Films," but the only page listed here that's a) not previously listed in this chapter or b) isn't dead is the Green Lantern Movie News Page, which actually is a Casting Call page, believe it or not!

Yeah, I know... this is all so incredibly lame. But at least I'll get my $1's worth out of this by making fun of the book!

Next time, I'll "feature" the comics-based TV show websites section -- or at least part of it!


Friday, October 06, 2006

Going into the Weekend...

Lots of stuff to mention tonight... let's get to it!

Not a good year, medically, for me and mine...

So this morning, my dad had to go to the emergency room because of abdominal pain. Naturally, since this past year has seen both myseif and my wife, Jessi, going to the hospital for gall bladder surgery, that was my first thought -- that my dad was going to have his gall bladder removed.

Unfortunately, it's worse than that... it's his appendix, and even worse so, they're not going to be able to remove it laparoscopically -- they'll have to remove it old-school, which means a big inciscion, a few days in the hospital, and a long recovery at home.

This particuarlly sucks for dad because my Aunt Arlene (his sister) is visiting, so he'll be missing a few days visiting with her. But then again, once he's home from that, he'll have plenty of time to spend with her, since he won't be up to going anywhere for a while.

Jessi and I are planning on going to visit him in the hospital tomorrow. This evening he was supposed to be going into surgery, and we'll get an update in the morning.

Why Google is more popular than Yahoo...

Remember I mentioned putting a placeholder page for the Comics They Never Made: The Official Archive website up a while back, prior to having the site ready to be viewed? Did I mention that about two days after the placeholder page was up, I got a Google Alert in my email letting me know it was able to be found in a search? Probably not. I even verified it this morning. Yahoo, naturally, doesn't know it exists yet.

What's really bizarre is that I never submitted the site to any web search engines at all... it just happened!

And yes, I do have a Google Alert set up with my name -- because one never knows where one will be found on the internet these days, and I like to know if I'm mentioned somewhere (even if it's mostly hits on my blog and Cover Stories).

Speaking of Comics They Never Made: The Official Archive...

I have no idea if anyone has even checked it out yet. At least, I haven't received any emails from anyone saying they've checked it out, if they like it or not, and if I made any mistakes in the set-up.

Serves me right for introducing the site right around New Comics Day (which, depending on which part of the country you're in, or how good your shop is, can be either Wednesday or Thursday)... so I'm hoping it's just that new comics are out and people are reading them, and then they'll check their email and regular blogs to see what else is going on.

My other current project...

This will probably seem like the most ridiculous thing I'll mention here that I'm doing... I'm making a cow costume for Jessi's dog, KO. Or did I mention I was going to be doing this before?

Making a costume for a dog is a major pain in the butt -- I am so happy that Krypto's costume just involved buying a collar and making a cape for it -- after all, it's difficult to get the proper measurements for a dog, or making a pattern (after I'd gotten quite a ways through making it, I realized we had an old costume from two Halloweens ago that I could've used as the basis for a pattern). Tonight, I managed to finish the main part of it, and started working on adding the spots. The costume is predominately white, with black spots on it. We still have to get some felt to create the "hooves" with, as Jessi doesn't want the hooves to be fake fur (like most of the rest of it... the horns are felt, and the udders are fleece). I'll likely finish it up this weekend, which is good, because then KO will have more time to get used to wearing it, and won't be trying to pull it off when the Bones and Treats day gets here.

I'd imagine that if I had mentioned making this costume that I'd also mentioned that Jessi's dressing up as a farm girl to go with KO's costume (which does, by the way, include a cow bell -- they make them dog-sized for hunting dogs, did you know that?). But if I hadn't mentioned it before, I have now.

Sometimes customers can be complete idiots...

I do know I've mentioned that I'm a graphic designer for the local newspaper, which I've never mentioned by name in this blog, but I'd imagine that it wouldn't take much effort to figure out which newspaper that is.

As a graphic designer, I create print advertising for a wide range of customers (I also check out PDF files that some customers send in, becuase they don't want us to create their ads for them -- which we do at no additional cost to them, by the way. I can understand the movie companies and the major department stores sending us electronic files, or even any major store chain, but I'll never understand why some customers insist on creating their own badly-designed ads and send them to us to run, and then sometimes ask us to make changes to them).

Anyway... I've noticed that people who own their own business are completely clueless when it comes to graphics and design. They're also clueless as to how deadlines work, and how it's not appropriate to keep making changes to an ad over and over again when we gave them exactly what they asked for the first time (there's one customer, a new customer, who's run three ads so far, and because they keep wanting to make changes to their ad before they'll okay it, we've gone through five or six proofs every single time -- this is for a very small ad for their Certificates of Deposit, saying what the current APY is, and they claim that once they like the look of their ad, they'll stick with it and just change the rate. I'll believe that when I see it).

Now, you might think that it's not a big deal for us to have to keep making changes to a customer's ad over and over again. OK, so in this day of desktop publishing programs, it's not a difficult task to make these changes (except, of course, when they want a photo enlarged, and it was originally scanned and toned at a smaller size, which makes it look worse when it's enlarged in a layout), but as I alluded to above, when we get a layout for an ad, we'll create that ad using the text they gave us, the graphics they gave us, and the guidelines they gave us.

And then they want to have us change it when they see a proof. Now, if we made a mistake (like a spelling error, or leaving something out), then yes, absolutely, we should fix that. But when they keep changing the text of the ad, or want to move things around, it gets frustrating quickly.

The analogy I like to use is if you went to a restaurant and ordered a dinner of steak, mashed potatoes, green beans and a side salad with ranch dressing.... and the waiter brings the meal to you, and you say, "No, I've changed my mind. Instead of the steak, I want a grilled breast of chicken. And instead of green beans, I want corn..." ...and then having the waiter come back with the revised meal, and you then say, "Oh, instead of the ranch dressing on this salad, I want thousand island instead. And change the mashed potatoes to a baked potato."

Do you think any restaurant would let you get away with that? I don't think so.

What amazes me even more than that, however, is how clueless business owners can be when it comes to their own logos and other imagery. By my estimate, I'd say that fewer than 10 percent of business owners have a high-resolution electronic version of their logo in their possession. And half of them don't have a vector graphics version of that logo, but instead have a raster graphics version (vector graphics are like FreeHand or Illustrator files -- you can enlarge or shrink them, and they'll print as good as possible for whatever you're printing them with. Raster graphics are like PhotoShop files, like JPEGs or GIFs -- they're at a certain size and resolution, and while you can make them smaller, you can't make them bigger without losing image quality).

The rest of the businesses might have their logo in printed materials (like, for example, on their business cards -- and it'll be small, and probably printed with that glossy embossed-style link that's just so much fun {NOT!} to scan.... or maybe on a product catalog in the case of a chain store business). Maybe they'll just have their logo on their website (which they've paid someone else to create for them).

Which is just plain stupid. If you've paid a graphic designer to create a logo for you, and you don't get a CD from them with an electronic version of that logo to use for your website, advertisements, brochures, business cards, signs, etc., you're being a complete idiot. Unless you have a contract with that designer that you'll give them all that work, which is why they don't have to give you that file (and chances are you're going to be violating that contract by sending one of the pieces that person created somewhere else to be used, like the local newspaper, when you decide you don't want to pay that person any more money). And you shouldn't sign a contract like that anyway -- the designer should have quoted a good enough price for designing that logo as it is, and be so good to work with you wouldn't think of giving future work to anyone else.

One of the other stupid things business owners do is completely ignore everything you tell them that will help make their ads look better... like getting good quality photos.

There's a furniture company that advertises in the paper usually once a week. Every single time they need a new photo added to their ads, one of two things is done: Either they have us scan that photo from an advertising circular (which results in a loss of quality, because it's like a second-generation copy) or they'll have us download a photo from the manufacturer's website.

Now, if the manufacturer's website has lots of big photos for people to check out, that's one thing -- but most manufacturers don't have that large a photo of their product.

However, most manufacturers have a secret website that the general public doesn't know about. All the auto manufacturers have one, all the appliance manufacturers do, and at least most of the furniture manufacturers do, too. It's a website made just for their customers (i.e. the people who own the stores that sell their products). It usually costs them nothing -- zero, nada, bupkiss -- to get access to, and once they get their login and password, they'll have access to high-resolution photos of the entire product line, as well as ready-made advertising layouts that they can customize at the site and receive a high-res PDF file of, ready for printing.

I spent two weeks trying to get the sales rep to go to this furniture store (well, the person who's their contact at the furniture store) and get them to sign up for the website to get access to this stuff.

They flat-out refuse to do it.

Why? I don't know. (Actually, I tend to fall back on an old truism I decided upon back when I worked as a prepress technician in Wisconsin -- that pretty much any question at work which began with the word "Why" can be answered with "Because they're stupid.") It might take them ten minutes to sign up for it, and then they could just give the sales rep for the newspaper the login and password, and we'd happily download the photos for their ads (like some of the other customers do who have signed up for their manufacturers' secret web pages).

There are lots of our customers who don't have a clue (or don't care -- which is it? Ignorance or Apathy? Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference) they can get this high-quality stuff... so we end up having to grab logos from some companies' public websites (which very rarely have a decent-sized logo available) or photos, too.

Sometimes we get lucky, though... there's a website called AdBuilder that the newspaper has a subscription to, and they have lots of logos there (among other things). Any time I work on an ad that has a logo submitted that's very low quality, I'll first check AdBuilder to see if there's a vector graphic version of that logo I can use instead (and I will, too, without letting the sales rep or customer know I'm doing so). If that doesn't work, I've been known to do a Google search to see if there's a better copy of that logo elsewhere on the web... and if that doesn't work, there has been a few times I've taken the best one I could find, and then redraw it.

It's very frustrating, because all I'm trying to do is make the customer's ad look as good as it possibly can -- after all, if the ad looks like crap, it doesn't attract customers -- and yet it's the client themself who seems to work the hardest to thwart that effort.

Sometimes it's even more frustrating when, despite the obstinance of the client, I manage to make their ad look better than it should have (given what we were provided with), and then I never hear anything about it -- no kudos, or thanks, or nothing.

Then again... there are rare exceptions... like that gym I mentioned a while back, where I created the logo for them, and they liked it so much they want to use it. I should drive by there sometime this weekend and see if they've got it up yet.

Anyway... I've been rambling on and on way too long about this... so I'll call it a night (and an entry!).


Thursday, October 05, 2006

My New Website!

Announcing -- 10 days before I originally figured it'd be ready -- the official launch of the spin-off of this blog and my Cover Stories column....

Comics They Never Made: The Official Archive!

If you've only seen those covers in the reduced size presented at WF Comics, you may be in for a treat -- the covers are presented in the original size I created 'em!

Naturally, I've also included some Amazon links on the pages, so that there's a slim chance I could see some money from it (not that I'm expecting much, y'know).

Anyway... check it out, and enjoy!


Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The New E-Man Comic!

So, you may recall a while back I alluded to being contacted about previewing the new E-Man comic book that's coming out from Digital Webbing. I just got word from Randy Buccini, who contacted me about it, that the book will be arriving in stores on October 18 (in about two weeks, as I'm writing this!).


Part of the deal in reading the preview was to write a letter that could be included in that first issue, which might be published in the comic itself. Here's what I wrote:

I just finished reading the preview you so generously provided to me, and I've got to say... I LOVED it!

E-Man's been missing from the newsstands for way too long, and it's good to know he (along with Nova, Michael Mauser, and Teddy Q) will be reappearing soon. I've missed all of the gang! It was a pleasure to read a new adventure of the energy man from the stars and his friends!

So, let me get down to the brass tacks, starting with the art: Joe Staton is still at the top of his game -- heck, he's even better now than he was last time he did an E-Man tole! Nova is still the sexiest woman in comics, Mauser is still the scuzziest man in comics... it's all good! The story flowed very naturally, and the storytelling was top-notch.

So far as the story itself goes... I should've guessed who would be behind the latest plot against E-Man and Nova! As Nova said, it always seems to get back to him sooner or later (I'm being canny about mentioning his name in case this letter is published, and someone picks the book up from the rack and reads the letter column first -- I wouldn't want to spoil it for them!).

The humor in the tale was perfectly balanced with action, as I've come to expect from Nick Cuti at his best (as much as I enjoyed the First Comics E-Man stories, I felt sometimes Nick tried to put too much humor into each issue... this definitely felt much more natural). I especially liked the names "Seymour Cleary" and "Sara Bellum" -- then again, the latter's name was also used in "Powerpuff Girls," and I'm sure many times before that... it's a good pun name!

Thanks again for letting me preview this book... I look forward to buying it when it hits the stores, and hope it'll be the first of many new E-Man tales to come!

Yep, as you can tell, I definitely liked it! Then again, perhaps it's because I'm such a huge fan of E-Man, Joe Staton and Nick Cuti that I would've been happy with anything featuring the three of 'em!

Still... if you're a fan of E-Man or Joe Staton or Nick Cuti, or just a fan of plain good done-in-one comics, make sure that you ask your local comic shop to pull a copy of this book for you, y'hear?

And if you don't have a shop nearby you, or if they (perish forbid) didn't order it, you can order it direct from the Digital Webbing website. Either way, you'll be happy you did!


Monday, October 02, 2006

First October 2006 Post!

Wow... it's been a few days since my last post, hasn't it?

Current Re-Reading:

Over the weekend, I finished re-reading Roger Stern's novelization of The Death and Life of Superman, and started re-reading Essential Fantastic Four Vol. 3 (the last volume of that I have).

And I've got to tell you... Volume 3 is where the issues are reprinted that really show that Fantastic Four was the World's Greatest Comics Magazine! I mean, the introduction of the Frightful Four, Galactus, the Inhumans, the wedding of Reed & Sue, the return (and subsequent death) of the Original Human Torch, the Negative Zone... the concepts were flying hard and fast!

Funny thing about the Negative Zone... that phrase was first used to describe the dome that Maximus the Mad used to trap the Inhumans in Attilan, separating Johnny Storm from Crystal, who he had fallen in love with at first sight (and causing him to immediately forget Dorrie Evans, who had been his steady date for nearly the entire run of FF to that point)... and yet, while that whole Inhumans subplot was going on, Reed began his exploration of Sub-Space (part of which incorporated the classic "This Man, This Monster!" story)... and somehow, once Maximus' Negative Zone was shattered (thanks to Black Bolt's scream), somewhere along the line after that, sub-space was redubbed the Negative Zone, a name which persists to this day!

I wonder if anyone ever asked Stan Lee how this happened... no doubt it was due to Stan's faulty memory.

Cover Stories This Week:

It's another edition of Comics They Never Made at Cover Stories! Of course, you already have that bookmarked and check it every Sunday, don't you?

That edition is number 73... and I've written through 81. I've also written number 105, but not the ones in-between.

How did that happen? Well, I was starting to write what would've been installment 77, which was to be "Comics They Never Made", but instead of doing Drive-In Movie Classics again, I was going to feature new covers, never before seen... Captain Kangaroo and one other (I forget the other one right now). Unfortunately, I hadn't written a thing about either of those before, and especially in the case of the good Captain, I couldn't remember enough about the tv show to cobble up a concept on what the comic would be like! So I was going to do Drive-In Movie Classics again, and went to my main folder to pull the next four covers out to write about them... and then I wrote the text for that... and discovered that I'd already pulled other covers before the newest four for future columns already!

So what I originally wrote as 77 became 105. But hey, I only have to write another 13 columns to fill in that gap, right?

TV Watching

I enjoyed this weekend's episode of "Legion of Super-Heroes", but I'm pretty much already out-of-date on some other shows, like Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and Heroes and Vanished (which aired earlier tonight, but were recorded for us to watch later), and Cold Case (which aired on Sunday, but we haven't watched it yet -- we were watching Grease on ABC Family Channel instead when that was airing).

That's all for tonight! I'll try to post more tomorrow.