Comics Blog

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Pest On The Run by Gerry Burke - Book Review

Big trouble and light hearted investigations...

A beautiful stage show star, come whore house madam, is suddenly foully murdered, despite her apparent gangster protection. A disgruntled Japanese business tycoon hires a hit man to assassinate Australia's Prime Minister. An unbeatable game show contestant takes a recreational bungee-jump, only to have her rope break in what her friend thinks is dubious circumstances. Enter the low-life world of Paddy Pest, sometimes Private Investigator and sometimes secret agent for Australia's spy bureau ASIO. Pest is based in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, though is very frequently an international traveler. He is a master of dubious disguises, and often manages to solve the case despite his shortcomings. Here is a world where virtually everybody has a rancorous underbelly, and where murder is a common life event, but where good will eventually win out (even if by fluke). These humorous short stories with beguile you, entertain you and make you chuckle. Gerry Burke's Pest On The Run: More Humorous Short Stories From The Paddy Pest Chronicles (iUniverse, c2012) is ideal for the lover of crime and murder mystery tales, but will also suit busy people looking for a witty amusement to fill a free hour or two.

Paddy is a frequent visitor of both upper class and lower class hotel bars, and these tales have the ethos of a pub yarn: unlikely events, boisterous pride, and male machoism lubricated to dubious heights. The style is very chatty, with Pest narrating his stories as if he is talking to an interested acquaintance. There are asides to the reader. When pertinent, Paddy occasional reminisces about his past, including his childhood. With a flair for drama he sometimes skips over the more mundane details to get to the action and juicy bits. These stories certainly deal with the darker side of life, and a few times death is narrated, but the great majority of these plots take place after the brutality is over. This book is about solving crime, not depicting crime and is overwhelmingly light hearted. Paddy is certainly a ladies man and the ticklish subject of sex is often alluded to, though not specifically depicted. In tune with the 'pub ethos', Paddy's descriptions of women can be quite humorously crude, without actually being offensive, except perhaps to the conservative.

There is occasional offensive language, though not overly so. There are several laugh out loud moments and every story will leave the reader smiling. Most stories have moments of high drama, though here the unlikeliness of the action is taken tongue in cheek. Occasionally Burke includes good phrasing that lifts the text. We read for example the atmospheric and slightly philosophic sentence: "Other, when you visit a country with a different culture, it is difficult to break through the veneer of reserve that camouflages a human spirit that is primed to explode" (Burke, p. 25). More of this care in writing would make the book even better. There is occasional foul language, but this is completely in tune with the macho low-life spirit of the book and will not offend most, except perhaps the conservative. This is a book by an Australian author and there is quite a sprinkling of colloquialisms and cultural references which may be unfamiliar to international readers. Some are explained in the text, which erases any difficulty, but some are not. These are, however, in no way essential to the text and will at the most cause a moment of wondering before the reader passes on.

In his collective stories Burke presents us with an interesting portrait of "Patrick Pesticide aka Paddy Pest" (Burke, p. v). Paddy is of Irish heritage, though primarily Australian in outlook. Burke thus combines both Irish luck and silliness, with the Australian macho male. He is a gambler and bets on race horses, and has quite an eye for the women. Paddy is of dubious background. He says of himself "I would not say I was straight or bent - somewhere in the middle" (Burke, p. 4). On the down side Paddy can be quite sexist, seeing women in many ways as bodies first. Full of pride Pest sees himself as a "master of disguise" (Burke, p. 37), though others are not nearly as convinced. While Paddy is in training in New Guinea one character comments on his being "dressed in a ridiculous head-hunter's outfit" (Burke, p. 188). By creating this mix of good and bad Burke has created an endearing, eccentric character that we can like because he gives us a slightly spicy escape from our 'ordinary' lives. Paddy reminds us of the rouge, tough boy at high school who everybody admired, but who never really did anything seriously wrong. He is a 'lad' and the reader is charmed. Paddy of course comes in a great tradition of incompetent Private Investigators / Spies. We think of Austin Powers, Inspector Jacques Clouseau, Agent Maxwell Smart and even Inspector Gadget. Burke, however, has given us his own particular spin on the pattern, and we do not feel that we are reading a complete copy.

A few other characters pop up more than once. There is Stormy Weathers, the totally competent ASIO agent, who has a cover job as barmaid at Sam's Fly by Night Club. There is Justin O'Keefe, the slacker police Inspector with an attitude. Mostly these secondary characters are at a minimum. Burke does, though, give them personality traits that flesh them out a bit. Stormy, for example, is a jealous lover. Occasionally Burke gives us a potted history of a character, giving us a summary of their eccentricities and adventures. Murder victim Frankie Hogan, for example, is a memorable woman with true spirit. Burke describes her in three pages giving the story depth and poignancy. Burke is quite skilled at this kind of detail and his writing would benefit by including more of it.

As we have noted Pest himself can be quite sexist. At one point for example he outrageously poses the equation that large breasts equals many friends (Burke, p. 200). Much of the humor, however, arises from the fact that many women are in actuality much more competent than him. As Pest himself says: "There had been two attempts on my life and, once more, I had been saved by a woman" (Burke, p. 77). These stories are indeed filled with dynamic, no-nonsense women you would think twice about crossing. There is a dangerous female assassin, successful business women, and several able female secret agents. Frankie Hogan takes no sexual nonsense from men, has "personality" (Burke, p. 3), and is a success in all her career ventures. Not to err too much on one side Burke has included one nasty, negatively-portrayed, female villain (Burke, p. 118). On the whole this book will pass Feminist standards, though some may not take the humor.

Shifting to male roles and Gender Studies it should be noted that these stories are in some ways very much in the ethos of the 1950's though they are set in contemporary times. This is the world of the tough guy, the gangster, the merry bachelor. Men should not really have soft feelings. Hyman Finkelstein, a low-life criminal, doesn't even like people looking at him (Burke, p. 151) let alone be able to have a mature relationship. Fear is a sign that a guy must be a "nancy boy" (Burke, p. 230). Paddy, on the other hand, is able to hug an old, male friend (Burke, p. 17). Women are very much a sexual adjunct to the male ego. Paddy does have a kind of steady relationship with Stormy, but even that is very much a breakable, uncommitted relationship. This whole 'retro' male image is, however, held up to debunking humor. This male world is on shaky ground. The great male image repeatedly is out shone by women and needs females to save it.

As with the issue of women and Feminism, Paddy Pest, and those he meets, can be quite homophobic. Paddy, for example, refers to gays by a disparaging name (Burke, p. 244), as does Hyman Finkelstein (Burke, p, 151). Finkelstein is particularly negative about gays. The actual representations of LGBTIQ people, however, on the whole are not at negative about that aspect of their lives. LGBTIQ people are primarily represented by two stories. First there is The Candidate which spotlights Lindsay Dove and his life-partner Jay Sniggle. Lindsay is a U.S. presidential candidate and Jay is an IT consultant. Then there is Who Was That Masked Man? highlighting the 'butch-fem' caterer Cate Edwards. Cate is a villain, but the story is not negative about here being a lesbian. This second story indeed has Ellen DeGeneres making fun of Paddy's cloddish ignorance of the LGBTIQ community. Ellen is mentioned (as an LGBTIQ person) in another story (Burke, p. 84), as is k.d. Lang. Gay Mardi Grass are mentioned twice. A number of times women are suspected to be lesbian (not in a negative way) and a 'drag-queen' secret agent is depicted canoodling with an unwitting male political (Burke, p. 138-139). On another occasion Paddy comes upon a not so pretty 'drag-queen' (Burke, p. 21), but this is the only negative description, and of course not all transvestites are necessarily beautiful. Once again the issue should not offend interested parties as long as the humor is taken into account.

The often ignored Indigenous and Racial Minorities also feature. Lindsay Dove is "black" (Burke, p. 79) as well as being gay. In A Long Time Gone Australia's Jewish minority is highlighted in the character of Hyman Finkelstein. Hymie is a gangster villain, but Burke goes out of his way to point out that he is not being anti-Jewish (Burke, p. 158-159). Louey is a successful "Polynesian" bar owner on Norfolk Island (Burke, p. 121). In The Goodbye Wave, though, the head of Fiji is referred to as a "baboon" (Burke, p. 129). This is a rather racist description, even for humorous purposes. Overall this is a very multicultural book, with Chinese, Japanese, Pilipino, Hong Kong, Russian, Balkan and Greeks mentioned with stories being set in many different countries. We get a true sense of the world, rather than a monosyllabic, white Anglo-Saxon perspective.

The aged feature in a very minor way in these tales. There is one uncomplimentary portrayal (Burke, p. 176) and one positive description of an older (though not necessarily aged) woman (Burke, p. 195). Burke could lift his game a little here, as the world is not full of only those under 55 years, even though some agencies such as advertising would have us believe this.

From the Capitalism verses Socialism perspective wealth in these stories is certainly suspect. These tales show only a very slim difference between corrupt businessmen and rich gangsters. Politicians and even judges don't exactly receive compliments. The lower classes are not lauded, but they are not seriously criticized. The Little people' more often than not help Paddy. The middle class is to a degree absent, but this is not so surprising as they are not likely to have the funds to hire a Private Investigator and are too 'clean' to have information on gangsters.

From the broader outlook of society in general, the Catholic Church is foot-noted as being anti-gay (Burke, p. 82 & 154) and rather a kill-joy for the more spirited members of the world (Burke, 149). The Police are depicted as being often incompetent and corrupt. These two institutions of society, perhaps in tune with Socialism, could be improved.

Before departing from these various social issues it should be stressed that these stories rely very much on outrageous statements and circumstances for humor. The book is full of politically incorrect text, but we are meant to take everything tongue in cheek. If we read these tales too critically we will be deeply offended, but Burke wants us, on the one hand to 'lighten up', and on the other hand to look a bit deeper. If this is kept in mind the book can very much be enjoyed.

From a Postmodern perspective it can be noted that there are no hard edge binary oppositions in Pest On The Run. There are definite 'bad' guys, but good and bad blur. As has been noted, Paddy himself is shady. We like him precisely because he is a 'wag'. In Murder Before Lunch Pest even works for a crime boss. This blurring of categories makes for a more realistic and interesting read. It adds 'spice' and avoids boring oversimplification.

Many stories have a mythological quality, and indeed these elements can be what attract us most to an author's work. For Paddy Pest we need only to turn to the Joker Card in the modern playing card pack. As court jester, the Joker is dressed in a funny costume, and Pest similarly assumes dubious disguises. The Joker's cap has pretentious baubles and he holds a wand topped with a manikin of himself. Pest is none to retiring in describing his own talents as a spy and lover. Yet the Joker possesses almost magical powers that no other card has, and in its presence many a losing hand can be transformed into a winning hand. Pest does solve the case, even if by sheer luck. Of course, most of all, the Joker tells silly stories and jokes, and that is the overwhelming ethos of Burke's book.

Gerry Burke has written a very entertaining book for the not so serious at heart. He manages to take a look at a wide variety of social issues, such as Feminism, while at the same time making us laugh. The dark world of crime is depicted, occasionally with the brutality described, but good always wins out and we are mostly entertained by a light hand. Most stories are around 20 pages long, and are ideal reading if you are short of time. Pest On The Run was a pleasure to read and I am happy to rate it as 4.5 out of 5 stars.


Burke, Gerry. Pest On The Run: More Humorous Short Stories From The Paddy Pest Chronicles:__ Bloomington, IN: iUniverse, c2012. Pest On The Run (Book ed.) Pest On The Run (Kindle ed.)

This book is ideal for people on the go, who want to take a short time to unwind with a few laughs. If you like crime or mystery stories, these tales are even more suited to you. Burke gives his detective/spy a distinctly Australian feel, and he writes in a style that is reminiscent of a chat in a hotel bar. For light entertainment this book is well worth the buy.

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Wonder Woman - The Fictional Superheroine

If you are an avid reader of DC comics, you must be familiar with the character of Wonder Woman. She is the warrior princess of the immortal Amazons. The story borrows heavily from the Amazonians in Greek Mythology.

Back in her homeland, Wonder Woman is known as Princess Diana of Themyscira. She is the daughter of Queen Hippolyta, the ruler of the immortal Amazons. The legend has it that Diana was the first child to be born in three thousand years on Paradise Island. Her birth was extraordinary because the other inhabitants of warrior island were not born in the literal sense of the term. They were created by the Greek Goddesses by drawing forth the souls of all the women who had been executed by men. Queen Hippolyta was the first soul to be reincarnated. Of all the souls of the women that were revived, one soul was left behind. It was the soul of the unborn daughter of the woman who was murdered first. It was prophesized that this soul would be born as Diana to Queen Hippolyta.

Around the latter half of the 20th Century, the Goddesses fulfilled Hippolyta's wish for a child. She was asked to mold some clay from the shores of the Paradise Island in the form of a female child. Six goddesses of the Greek Pantheon - Demeter, Athena, Artemis, Aphrodite, Hestia and Hermis - blew life into the clay structure and each gifted her with a unique gift which together account for her superior combat and battle skills.

  • Demeter: Super Strength
  • Athena: Courage and Wisdom
  • Artemis: Communion with animals and a hunter's heart
  • Aphrodite: Beauty
  • Hestia: Sisterhood with Fire
  • Hermis: The Power of flight and Speed

Diana grew up amidst women and sisters in the woods. Although trained to be a warrior, she was not a super heroine from the start. She used her powers to tackle issues of war, death, inequality and conflicts between the Olympian Gods. Themyscirian was her main language, a combination of classical Greek and Turkish. English was learned only after she arrived in America.

When Diana was a young, pretty lass, the Gods ordered that the Amazonians must send an ambassador to Earth. A contest was held to select a suitable emissary. Diana was disallowed to participate. However, she went against her mother, participated in disguise and won the championship. Thus, she was sent as the emissary into Man's world.

Her Weaponry

The Lasso of Truth was her main weaponry when she embarked on her earthy mission. It was fashioned by Hephaestus himself. She was also given the Sandals of Hermes, which was the gift of flight and speed. It allowed her to travel great distances in minutes. She wears a pair of indestructible silver bracelets and a razor sharp golden tiara that functions like a projectile. Wonder Woman is also known for her ability to create invisible vehicles at will.

Christened Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman is a true icon of beauty, brains and brute force. She enters the human world at Boston where she meets Harvard professor Dr. Julia and her daughter Vanessa and stays with them for a month or two. It is from them that she learns English. She comes to Earth to return army pilot Steve Trevor to the human world after he crash-lands on the Paradise Island. Her actual mission is to promote peace, but she gets caught battling the God of Ares and his minions. When the battle becomes public, she is given the name Wonder Woman. She is the member of the Justice League of America.

Wonder Woman was created and designed by American writer and psychologist William Moulton Marston. In the human world, she is looked upon as the harbinger of love, peace, justice and sexual equality.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Diversity in Comics - Why I’m Reading DC Books Again

With the introduction of the new Green Lantern of Earth, Simon Baz, DC has blown up its fresh universe by introducing a Muslim-Arab American superhero at the centre of Geoff Johns‘ intricate Green Lantern series. This is not the first time DC has explored characters from different backgrounds, as their New 52 reboot has allowed them to emphasise more diversity, shaking up the previous white male role model and female damsel in distress characters that plagued the genre’s early years.

DC has played a major part of the shift, more so than Marvel I would argue. This year, for instance, Alan Scott was introduced as the first gay Green Lantern in the “Earth 2” title series set in an alternate universe away from the main books. Away from the Green Lantern universe, one of reboot’s most critically acclaimed books, Batwoman, explored Kate Kane’s personal struggles as well as her sexual orientation which has been praised by the general public and the character from the Batman universe has often been described as the highest profile gay character to appear in stories produced by DC Comics.

It’s not a matter of what company is taking the lead in the race to push diversity, it’s which one is doing it to craft intricate stories, and not just force publicity stunts. For instance Marvel featured the first gay wedding to happen in superhero comics this year, as characters Northstar and Kyle Jinadu were married in the pages of Astonishing X-Men #51. While it’s a move in the right direction, choosing two lesser-known characters in one of the smaller X-Men titles could be seen as Marvel playing it too safely. For instance, if the wedding was met with public backlash, Marvel could have easily swept it under the rug.

Where Marvel have faired better in the past, is making their black- American superhero Luke Cage feel like an natural part of their Avengers roster. The Avengers have long been based in New York, so it was fitting they had a hero who represented a more realistic modern-day resident of Harlem. It wasn’t so much of a publicity stunt, more so a natural progression of a character. However with The Avengers movie now the 3rd highest-grossing film of all time, logic dictates the Marvel Comics universe is now built to closely resemble their movies. For the meantime that presumably means, Luke Cage takes a backseat, while Marvel focus on making the public believe their new character Marcus Johnson, is the illegitimate son of Nick Fury, who grows up to look like Samuel L. Jackson and later turns out to be named Nick Fury himself. Forget diversity, it’s just cheap storytelling.

One character I’m really looking forward to see further developed is Cyborg from DC’s main Justice League title. What’s stopped me reading Justice League in the past is that it long felt like it was stuck in the past in terms of characters. Superman, Batman, Aquaman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern all came from diverse backgrounds for sure, but in terms of appearance, they all resemble typical white superheroes. With the New 52 reboot, writer Geoff Johns added Cyborg, who had previously been mainly featured in the Teen Titans group, to the main Justice League roster. While initially Cyborg’s inclusion seemed as if he primarily existed within the Justice League to act as their teleporter, upcoming plans reveal there’s more to come from Victor Stone.

If there’s one lesson Marvel can take from DC in how to reboot successfully, it’s focus on story and not what’s happening in other media. With no major films to resemble (yet), the DC reboot has been free to create interesting stories for characters from all different backgrounds. There’s still room for improvement, it would be nice to see a female Green Lantern soon, and perhaps some more emphasis on characters like Supergirl. For now though, the New 52 reboot has me reading DC books again.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Top 5 Villains in Graphic Novels

When we make a list of the most addictive things in the world, we seldom remember putting graphic novels on that list. However, graphic novels certainly deserve to be there. Once a person starts reading graphic novels, he/she gets totally addicted to it. The reason for the success of graphic novels lies as much in the creativity of the villain as is does in the bravery of the hero. Here's bringing you the 5 best graphic novel villains...

5. Loki

Although his brother Thor is a good character, Loki is a villain in Marvel comics. He first made an appearance in Venus No.6 in 1949. He gained more popularity in 2012 as the main villain of the super hit movie Avengers, thanks to the very superb Tom Hiddleton. Loki's character is that of an extremely determined and even overconfident man. Physically weaker and smaller than his brother, Loki's rage is partly driven by the envy and rage he feels towards Thor, who was treated like a hero by the citizens of Asgard. Along with his fitness and athletic ability, Loki possesses an intellect and an ability to manipulate others that is hard to match.

4. Magneto

Created in 1963 by Stan Lee, Magneto is the most famous adversary of the X-Men. As the name suggests, Magneto is a mutant who has the ability to control magnetic substances. Magneto is overconfident and believes that mutants are superior to the human race. He therefore locks horns against Dr. Charles Xavier, who believes that humans and mutants should coexist. The plot thickens when the spectators find out that Dr. Xavier and Magneto were actually former friends who went their separate ways due to the difference in their ideology.

While Magneto is portrayed as a man having a heart of stone, he does have a tad soft spot for his friend Charles. Nevertheless, this Jewish Holocaust survivor is never afraid to launch any sort of offensive for the benefit of the mutant-kind.

3. Green Goblin

The Green Goblin is an alias of many different villains in Marvel comics. The most famous of those incarnations is Norman Osborne, a rich but cruel man, who designed the equipment needed to build the Green Goblin. This was followed by his son, Harry Osborne, becoming Green Goblin in an attempt to avenge his father's death. Green Goblin first made an appearance in The Amazing Spiderman #14 in 1964 and was also a part of the movie 'Spiderman', which was released in 2002. The Green Goblin, because of his superhuman strength and amazing gadgets, is fearsome, yet popular.

2. Darkseid

Although Superman comics are considered inferior to others like X-Men, Spiderman, etc. by many men, one cannot deny the fact that its villains are awesome. Darkseid is one such villain, arguably the best of the lot! As his name suggests, Darkseid oozes evilness. He is a sadist who has the ability to destroy and/or resurrect organisms. Darkseid first made an appearance in the comic book 'Forever People#1' and has been a success and 'fan favorite' ever since.

1. Joker

Calling Joker a demented, crazy, sadistic sociopath would be the understatement of the century. Joker, by far the most popular villain in graphic novels, is a genius who uses his intellect for all the wrong purposes. He was first introduced in 1940 in Batman#1. Possessing a clown-like appearance, Joker doesn't really have any special abilities. However, he is driven by his willingness to see others suffer, which makes him a fearsome adversary for Batman. Joker was also the main villain in the 2008 blockbuster movie The Dark Night, in which he was played by Heath Ledger.

Whether one loves graphic novels or hates them, he/she has to agree that they are extremely successful. And a large part of their success is attributed to their mysterious and evil villains, who have entertained graphic novel fans for years.
By Neil Verma

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Should Marvel Reboot?

DC's New 52 reboot is one of the most significant things to happen to comics in decades. There's no doubt that DC has done well to make their comics reader-friendly by wiping away most of their continuity. It was a risky move, but the result has put DC back on top over Marvel with sales figures. With Marvel falling behind for the first time in years, it raises the question whether it's time for them to initiate a total reboot, in attempt to wipe their increasing convoluted continuity clean and become more accessible for new readers?

Yes Marvel Need To Reboot

1) Their Continuity Is Too Messy

One of the biggest challenges for new readers of Marvel comics is to try and come to terms with the X-Men continuity. Spanning for over fifty years, the X-Men books are almost unrecognisable to new readers. Gone is the Professor X and his X-Men vs. Magneto and his Brotherhood of mutants, replaced by a universe where former villains are now allies. Continuity isn't just messy when it comes to the X-Men though. Spider-Man suffered a continuity crisis when an editorial decision decided to have the devil, Mephisto erase Peter's marriage, and make everyone forget that Paeter Parker is Spider-Man. These are the kind of examples where it's easy to justify a Marvel reboot.

2) They Need More Characters From Diverse Backgrounds

Where Marvel has become seriously outdated is that they lack some diversity. Sure enough, Brian Michael Bendis is doing superb work on making Miles Morales an engaging, fresh character in Ultimate Spider-Man, while Ed Brubaker maintains the Falcon as one of my favourite characters, but Ultimate Marvel aside, they are still lacking. How would a reboot help introduce characters from different minorities? Characters such as The Incredible Hulk, Wolverine and Iron Man remain incredibly popular because they're over fifty-years-old. Resetting the clock would allow Marvel to give new characters from diverse backgrounds more extensive back stories and make them a core part of the Marvel Universe, rather than side characters. Marvel could incorporate Ultimate Nick Fury into the mainstream universe, or even create some new characters, as seen with Marcus Johnson from the recent Battle Scars series. It's time now for characters from diverse backgrounds to simply be more than just side characters.

No To A Reboot

1)Continuity Can Be Restored Easier

It was easier to see why DC chose the reboot The Justice League. The team had become outdated, irrelevant and aside from X-Men, had the most confusing continuity in comics. They needed a new slate. Marvel is lucky not to be in that position just yet. While they've been going on a little over-board on events lately, it's becoming clearer that they know what's working and what's not. With financial struggles, Marvel was forced to cancel titles such as Alpha Flight, Dark Wolverine, X-23 and Iron Man 2.0. With the excess weight taken off, Marvel should have time to focus on making their existing lines better. An example should be the work of Dan Slott on The Amazing Spider-Man series. When Slott took charge, he had the duty of recovering the series from the One More Day mess left behind by JMS and Joe Quesada. Now, Spidey is one of the most fun comics around. More writers need to focus on wiping away what didn't work before, and bringing back the characteristics that made the superheroes so engaging in the first place.

2) Their Characters have Come Too Far

Another problem with a company ride reboot would be that it would undermine the journeys that Marvel's characters have taken over the past years. Writers such as Grant Morrison, Joss Whedon and Jason Aaron have worked hard to strongly develop characters like Cyclops and Wolverine. Would all that be diminished if the X-Men line rebooted?

The same applies to characters like Bucky Barnes and The Scarlett Witch. Both characters have had writers spend years developing them, so it's difficult to imagine a reboot wiping their continuity clean. DC showed how ruthless they can be when Wally West was cut from the New 52 relaunch. I would hate to see that happen to any of my favourite Marvel characters.


Will Marvel reboot? In my opinion, Marvel is likely going to judge the future of their comic line by how well their event Avengers vs. X-Men is received. If the event reaches mainstream publicity and sales are good, I can imagine Marvel will hold off a reboot and spin great stories off AVX, similar to what happened with Civil War. If AVX fails to impress, I feel as if maybe Marvel will probably initiate a reboot. After all, if the top two teams Marvel has battling each other can't succeed, then it's definitely time to go back to the drawing board. There seems to be a trend with comics lately, as if they're aspiring to be like the 90′s again, with over the top art, page after page of heroes fighting and little substance. Marvel also really need to turn this around if they want to keep on top of DC in the future.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

How to Contact Comic Book Artists and Writers

The first annual New York Comic-con brought out Milla Jovovich and was so successful, organizers almost had to shut it down. The second annual New York Comic-con was organized much better, even bringing out Steven King and Stan Lee to meet fans.

Below are some more insider tips for contacting your favorite comic book artists and writers at various comic book conventions around the country...

Meeting in Person:

Although most comic book creators, artists, and writers will tell you where to send fan mail inside their publications, the comic book industry also takes great pains to make itself available to their fan base through conventions, expos, and fan events.

The general rule of thumb is if you wait a while, a comic convention (or "comic-con") is likely to be announced in your area, and the organizers will make all sorts of promises as to who will be there (most of whom won't show up). Buy your ticket anyway, and take a few hundred bucks and a good Sharpie pen -- because even if the people who show up aren't the people promised, they'll most likely be worth meeting.

Most comic conventions today go far beyond only comic books. They often feature actors, directors, television stars, set designers, comic artists, writers, and an assortment of retro names that will have you scratching your head trying to remember who they were. The show will usually charge around $25 for a ticket, but the attractions will last all day long, from rare film screenings to autograph sessions to bootleg comics for sale. Most conventions travel around the country so fans don't have to spend any money to travel.

What should you bring to get signed? Nothing really, unless you know someone is going to be there and you have some great piece of memorabilia sitting around relevant to that person. Usually there are plenty of items for sale at comic conventions you can purchase to have signed.

Prices at convention's vendor booths are usually not cheap, however you can pick up some really neat pieces of pop culture memorabilia if you look hard enough, and the chance to get that item signed by its creator can be something really special.

Comic book conventions and the comics themselves are a huge industry that gets bigger every year. Therefore, comic-cons are a great place to spot up and coming stars before their signatures becomes worth thousands of dollars when they really hit it big.

How do you find a comic convention I your area? It's pretty easy -- just visit the Comic Book Conventions Web site. This resource list all upcoming comic-cons, usually four or five per weekend, and it also announces changes to programming, cancellation, and contact information.

The better conventions come back the same time every year, such as the Mid-Ohio-Con, which takes places in Columbus, Ohio on Thanksgiving weekend. The 2004 Mid-Ohio-Con lineup included the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld and Noel Neill, the original TV Lois Lane, as well as numerous other comic industry names.

The Vancouver Comic-Con happens once every few months, while Dragon-Con takes place each September. Every corner of the country has some sort of gathering, but even if you have to get in the car and drive a few hours to a really good-size convention near you, the money spent in doing so can be gained back when you take that authentic John Byrne sketch and put it up for auction on eBay.

The big names of the comic convention business include the following:

San Diego Comic-Con International, P.O. Box 128458, San Diego, CA 92112-8458, 619-491-2475

The biggest and the best, Comic-Con has become a brand name in the business. Tens of thousands of enthusiasts gather every year, some flying in from across the country to listen to panels of experts, get autographs, buy memorabilia, watch special screenings of movies, and just hang out.

Dragon*Con, P.O. Box 16459, Atlanta, GA 30321-0459, 770-909-0115

A solid number two, Dragon*Con takes on more of a fantasy tilt--but it's not just for Dungeons and Dragons fanatics. D*C gets bigger every year, and as the collectors grow from obsessed teenagers to well-funded adult fans, the money going through the registers keeps increasing as well.

Big Apple Comic Convention, 75-34 Metropolitan Avenue, New York, NY 11379, 201-865-3288

This one is in New York City, so of course it's big. If you live in the northeast, the Big Apple Con is the one for you.

Mid-Obio-Con, P.O. Box 3831, Mansfield, OH 44907, 419-526-1427

The Midwest really knows how to put on a show, and M-O-C always has an interesting lineup of names. It's not the biggest comic-con around, but it's got a reputation as one of the best.

Mega-Con, P.O. Box 1097, Safety Harbor, FL 34695, 727-796-5725

New York Comic-con, Jacob Javiz Center, 655 West 34th Street, New York, NY 10001, 1-888-605-6059

Sending Fan Mail:

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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Selling Your Comics on eBay

It seems like everyone owned some comics of one kind or another over the years and there's nothing like having a relative clean out some boxes and find your old treasure trove. But what do you do with them? Keep them or sell them? A lot of movies have been made from comics over the years and there are many more to come. Now you have to answer the big questions: How and where do I sell these things? Are they even worth the trouble? How do I know what condition they are in? You could go your local comic book shop, but most shops will only give you 50% of guide price - if they are even buying. And yes, there is a guide - a few in fact. The Overstreet Price Guide comes out once a year and is the benchmark for most comic shops covering every comic release from the 1930's to today. Overstreet will also show you how to grade your comics, but we'll get to that later. There is also Wizard Magazine and Comic Book Buyers Guide which come out monthly and tend to showcase the "hot" comics people are buying.

The problem with going to your local comic shop is simply this: if you do sell them, you have definitely left money on the table. "So what?" you say Daddy Warbucks. I know, for older comics worth selling, the cover price is under $1.00; so anything you get above that is fine right? But, if you bought a muscle car back in the '60's and still had it today, would you sell it for 50% of what the current list price is? Hopefully not. Honestly, when I have a comic I want to sell and I know it's worth a little bit, I put it on eBay. Wait, wait - eBay is not as tough to use as everybody thinks. The setup is easy and they walk you through setting up an account step-by-step. If you can email or check the weather on the internet, you have enough gray-matter use eBay. The next things you have to do it determine what condition your comics are in. CGC is a service that will charge you $10.00 to mail your comic to them (please make sure that you use something to keep it from getting bent in the mail...). Once they have it, their team of professional grader will judge you book on a number of criteria, place it in a plastic casing and the place a grading label on the case. $10 bucks may seem like a lot to pay for a comic that you only may have paid 45 for, but CGC grading will actually increase your comic's value to upwards of 100%. Even in a lesser condition. That said - if you want to try to grade them yourself, use the following guidelines:

Mint (CGC: 10-9.8)(Overstreet: 100-98)(Abbreviated as MT)

  • I can pretty much guarantee that your comics are not in mint condition. Most are already in NM condition by the time they arrive at the store. Many people want their comic book to be better than it is, but few attain this high of a mark. Those comics that do, especially CGC graded books, can attain the highest possible market value that is out there.
  • Outside: There should be no creases. The cover should have no fading and look like new. The comic should lie flat and not roll or have curves. The Spine should be straight with no rolling. Staples should be like new and not rusted.
  • Inside: There should be no tears or cuts. The color should be bright with no discoloration, or fading. There should be no stains or marks. Autographs are acceptable but may actually bring the value down, depending on your buyer.

Near Mint (CGC: 9.8-9.0)(Overstreet: 97-90)(Abbreviated as NM)

  • Most new comic books will fall into this category. When buying new comics, be sure to go through them and pick out the best one. That crease will turn a Mint comic into a Near Mint.
  • Outside: There should be no creases. The cover should have no fading. The comic should lie flat and not roll or have curves. The cover may be slightly off center. The Spine should be straight with no rolling. Staples should be like new and not rusted. Minor bindery tears are acceptable no more than 1/16th of an inch.
  • Inside: Only minor fading is allowed. There should be no stains or marks. There should be no tears or cuts.

Very Fine (CGC: 9.0-7.0)(Overstreet: 89-75)(Abbreviated as VF)

  • Beware if any older comic book is graded above this mark. Due to the nature of paper, discoloration is expected over time. Even then, for an older comic to be in the "Very Fine" category it needs to be pretty exceptional. Make sure you know.
  • Outside: The cover should be mostly flat but may have some wear. The colors of the cover may be slightly faded. Corners may be slightly creased. May have slight wear. The spine should be flat, but some lines may be visible.
  • Inside: May have minor printing and binding defects. The pages may be yellowish in color. There should be no stains or major discoloration.

Fine (CGC: 7.0-5.0)(Overstreet: 74-55)(Abbreviated as FN)

  • This might be a C or C+ comic book.
  • Outside: There will probably be minor wear. Minor creasing is acceptable. The corners may be blunted. The staples may have some discoloration. Minor creases are OK. The spine may have a roll to it.
  • Inside: There may be minor tears on the edges. Discoloration is OK as long as it is not major. The pages may be tan or brown in color. Minor stains are allowed.

Very Good (CGC: 5.0-3.0)(Overstreet: 54-35)(Abbreviated as VG)

  1. Comics in this grade and lower will start to see more and more wear.
  2. Outside: My have a large amount of wear including creases, fading, and discoloration. A better copy with a piece of the cover missing will fall into this category. The cover may have a price sticker or date sticker. The spine may be rolled. The staples may have rust.
  3. Inside: The pages may be brown in color. A finer copy with a tear repaired with tape. May have minor printing defects.

Good (CGC: 3.0-1.5)(Overstreet 14-5)(Abbreviated as GD)

  • A below average comic book. For a comic book to be in this grade it may have major defects, but must still be readable. Most new comics in this condition will have little to no value (re: 1985 to current).
  • Outside: A detached cover is acceptable. Creases, fading and major discoloration available. Minor tears and folds. Coupons may be cut from the cover. The staples may discolored, rusted, or even absent. Creases and minor tears permitted.
  • Inside: May have some obvious types of repair such as tape. The color of the pages may be brown. The pages should not be brittle. There may be small bits of the comic missing. There may be stains and other defects of the pages.

Fair (CGC: 1.5-1.0)(Overstreet 14-5)(Abbreviated as FR)

  • Outside: The cover may be detached from the comic. There may large amounts of wear including fading, discoloration, and stains. Coupons may be cut from the cover. Less than 1/12 of the cover missing is accepted. Major wear accepted. Staples may be missing. The spine may be split up to 2/3 of the cover.
  • Inside: The pages are often faded, discolored, torn, or stained, but must still be readable. Most of the page should not be brittle. Near the bottom of the barrel. Comics in this condition are still readable. Pages missing from the comic are not acceptable.

Poor (CGC: 1.0-0)(Overstreet: 5-0)(Abbreviated as PR)

  • Only the oldest and rarest comics will be worth much of anything when they are in this grade or maybe older comics in good condition with no covers. Most of these are just going to be readers.
  • Outside: The cover will show major signs of wear. May have large stains, large amounts of fading, rips, tears, and pieces missing. Spine will mostly likely be bent and torn. Staples may be missing.
  • Inside: Large stains and even mold damage on the pages. There may be pages missing. Marks, tears, and other things that may affect the story. Pages may be brittle and break at the touch. A comic in this condition is just like it sounds, poor. If you have a comic in this condition, check Overstreet to see if it is worth anything before just giving it away to a kid to read.
So now you think you know what condition your comic is in and you have an eBay account. Now here's the trick: type in the name and issue number in the eBay search box. eBay may show you anywhere from 0 to 1,000 listing for people trying to sell the same comic. Don't worry about these listings. On the left hand side of the page, look for an empty checkbox that says "Completed Items" and click on the box. The page will reload and now hopefully show you some completed listings for the same comic you have. Prices in red did not sell, while prices in green did. Look at a couple of examples of each. When you get ready to list your comic, make sure that you've taken pictures of any defects that stick out to you and have them ready to upload when you create your listing. Then write out a detailed description of the comic making sure to list Publisher, Title, Issue#, Copyright Year and then any imperfections you have noted and also the condition that you believe it to be in. Now the hardest thing you will have to do is decide the minimum bid you will take and then start the selling process. Nine times out of ten, you have a comic that someone else is looking for. But the only way to find out is to list it.

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